Tag Archives: #midlife #amwriting

Don’t Stop Believin’

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Don’t Stop Believin’

My regular readers may recall that my father died this past September. We had a complicated relationship and I was mostly on the losing end of that situation. We’ve gone from childhood abandonment – to awkward random sightings – to being able to socialize and converse about superficial stuff. We weren’t close, we weren’t estranged, we were in some weird limbo state that we were never able to breakthrough.

Everyone goes through emotions when their parents die, even if you aren’t close. I didn’t know what to expect in this situation. My father in-law whom I adored died this past May, that was heartbreaking. I miss him every day, I carry that with me daily. With my own father it was different, like our history, it was complicated. I didn’t know how to “unpack” this complex variety of emotions. I even went to see a Medium about it, I wasn’t impressed.

So now I refer to my father as “Ghost Dad” and we chat. Mostly I chat, he’s a pretty good listener. The Medium I saw said I could ask him questions (simple yes or no questions) and if the answer was yes I would be granted a yellow rose of some sort. Well that sounded like some basic bullsh*t to me. Our relationship wasn’t generic it was a kaleidoscope of dysfunction, not something a yellow rose could handle. I came up with my own sign and I told Ghost Dad about it several times, dozens of times. I wanted, no demanded, a unicorn on a unicycle farting rainbows.

Pretty outrageous sure, but the guy owed me. Here are the links to digital bits of my soul that I have thrown out to the universe in an effort to exorcise the demons:

Broken

Less Than

I’ll Buy My Own Flowers

Anyhow, if you actually clicked on the links and read through that mess, apologies. I know it’s awful and maybe it made you cry…I want you to know that I’m doing well. On Christmas, I got a present from a good friend who did not know about the very specific sign. Here’s a picture:

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Socks which feature a unicorn farting rainbows with “Don’t Stop Believin'” on them. Sure there isn’t a unicycle but I’m still taking it as a sign from Ghost Dad. He heard my expletive laden rants and he has repented in his own way. Today I choose forgiveness.

I have felt so much lighter since I received these socks. So much so that I told the practical side of my brain to sit this one out, Don’t Stop Believin’!

 

 

*The featured photo is of a mug that my outstanding friend Katie gifted me. I’m pretty sure she knew about the unicorn sign thing, she just gets me. Thanks Katie!

 

 

 

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Hey Stranger, Don’t Tell Me What To Do

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Hey Stranger, Don’t Tell Me What To Do

A friend posted something on Facebook yesterday that pissed me off. Not sure if it was guilt/shame related or if my reaction was strictly oh FFS not again. This particular post was

8 Things Kids Need to Do By Themselves Before They’re 13

In fairness, these were logical tasks, nothing extraordinary in the group…but why? Why is this person specifically qualified to determine when my kids should make their lunch or do their own laundry? She seems lovely but honestly, she doesn’t get to make the rules in my household.

This can be extended to all of those what to wear/when posts too. As if I need a stylist telling me that sleeveless is no good unless your arms don’t have that flabby mass where muscle tone used to be. I can make those critiques on my own. Personally, I think I’m going to let my freak flag fly higher with each decade. It seems I care less and less about what others think with each year, by the time I’m 90, I may embrace the nudist philosophy or maybe I’ll start piercing everything and 90s hair, don’t care. If I make it to that age, I hope to have my wits in tact and perhaps a mo-hawk, I’ll probably skip the tongue piercing. Probably.

Writing Prompts

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Writing Prompts

When you feel vulnerable everything is a writing prompt. Sometimes the thoughts just swirl in my head, marinating until they become a somewhat tasty morsel that spills onto the screen. Not enough for a meal but, with any luck it leaves you hungry for more. Most times though, those prompts just wither on the mental vine. Here are some seeds that are lying on the bare ground, waiting for neglect or nurture to determine their fate.

Backstage Pass

My father is in the hospital again. He’s been in several times this year for various illnesses. We aren’t close and that’s not likely to change. He was out of my life from when I was 9 until sometime in my 30s. Too late for strangers with nothing in common to cling to – I say that with sadness, not hostility. We’ve both made attempts to bridge the enormous obvious gap, we just haven’t found the right the platform.

I find out about his health via group texts from his longtime partner. She’s devoted to him and very kind, which is comforting. It’s just awkward. The man had 7 kids from two marriages. I’m the first born but last in the pecking order. When I do get informed, it’s like having a backstage pass for an act you don’t know.

What’s Normal?

My kids recently went back to school and I feel myself being consumed by my own anxiety for them. I’m outing myself in the hopes that it will get me to ease up a bit. I have two teenagers and I can’t help myself, I think of what I was doing at their ages. Then I wonder, is it normal for parents to do this? If you’re a parent do you reflect on what you were doing when you were the same age as your child? Seriously, this is not a rhetorical question, I don’t know what’s normal.

For the Ladies

You ever get your period and think “Oh that makes sense” as you flashback to the night before when you ate half a chocolate cake and contemplated life with a new identity.

Hospice

A friend asked me how I deal with the mental mind f*ck of caring for people on hospice. This is what I wrote to him:

Hospice is a weird thing. I think what draws me in is the lack of bullsh*t. The small stuff and pettiness that most humans get tangled in tends to fade away when someone has a newfound awareness of how finite our time is here. I appreciate that level awareness and honesty and I get into a – do the next right thing modus operandi. It’s more difficult with people you know versus volunteering for strangers. I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing though, one of the benefits of a dysfunctional upbringing.

There is also a curiosity that pulls me in. I kind of want to know what it’s like at the end of life – I mean, we’re all going to die one day, yet people rarely discuss it. Or maybe my twisted brain thinks…if I am a witness and a helper for so many at the end of their lives, perhaps I’ll be granted a swift departure when my time comes. I don’t want to be subjected to weeks or months of Depends and really dry, chapped lips. So basically what I’m saying is….there is no way to delay the existential head f*ck, you just have to lean into that motherf*cker.

 

 

 

*Featured image used via agreement with 123rf.com image is Copyright of Sila Tiptanatoranin

 

It’s a Deathtrap

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It’s a Deathtrap

It’s been a rough few days. Late last week I had a physical and I walked out of there with the trifecta of future appointments – mammogram, treadmill stress test and a colonoscopy. I hit 50 hard last month and apparently 50 hits back. I also got some bad news about my cholesterol which is high and has to be monitored. I come from a family which has lots of heart disease. I left the doctors office in a mood that can be described as “we’re all going to die”. Then I went home and took care of people because that’s what moms do. Over the weekend I distracted myself by shopping for swimsuits online.

Getting packages in the mail usually comes with some level of anticipation, unless it’s swimwear then it’s dread. It started out innocently enough, I was preparing for a family trip and decided to get some swimwear. Now I wasn’t entirely naive about the process, I despise putting on a bathing suit. I hate it so much that I have avoided it all together for the past three years. My family is about to embark on a once in a lifetime trip and I refuse to let vanity and insecurity sideline me. I need to get over myself and squeeze into something that resembles swimwear, perhaps from the Amish line.

I did what modern women do and went shopping online. Let’s be honest for a minute, is there a fresher hell than trying on swimsuits in a department store dressing room?  No there isn’t (OK side burner war, childhood diseases, man buns, poorly dressed baby goats, misogyny, racism and all the crime in the world for a moment) bathing suit shopping is awful and is made worse by florescent lights and the knowledge that some store security guard is watching you. No thanks, I’ll pay for shipping on returns if I have to in order to avoid being burned into Edna’s memory of most ridiculous customers.

I was cautiously optimistic when I began. I wasn’t opting for the Brazilian thong with a bandeau top (wireless). Those days are behind me (*sniff*sniff*) I went straight to modest yet modern swim skirts and tankini tops. I was pleasantly surprised when I found a swim skirt I like and it actually looked kind of cute. I felt cautiously optimistic, thinking my biggest challenge was behind me (wink) and I went to search for a top.

I found the top from a different company. A plain, yet seemingly well designed tankini top in black, should work fine with the aforementioned cute skirt. I took it out of the bag, it doesn’t resemble a 15th century torture device, so I decided to try it on. OMFG this thing is the stuff of nightmares. During my first attempt I was spun into some weird web of clothing denial. I thought I must have done something wrong, this can’t be right. It was only half on, yet it took the skills of a disjointed acrobat to wiggle my way out of there.

I checked the size, listened for encroaching family members and dove in for round two. OH FFS are they kidding me? No, flippin’ way. I was determined and soldiered through and managed to get this tankini from hell on my body over most of the right parts. Thank G-d it didn’t look good, if it did I may have been tempted to keep it beyond all logic.

Fear started to creep in. You know how it is when you’re watching a scary movie and you hear those first high pitched piano notes…something awful is about to happen and you go into high alert. Is it hiding in the drapes, crouched down near the sofa, OMG he’s behind me, isn’t he!!! And I realize I need to get out of this despicable garment without destroying it. Fantasies of shredding it Hulk style were replaced by the need to develop an exit strategy.

I looked at myself in the full length mirror, took a deep breath and determined the best course of action. Getting this top over “the girls” was particularly challenging. I’m a C-cup so we aren’t talking porn star breasts or anything unusual. Visions of me twisting my upper body to release the twins seemed like a bad idea. I wondered how it was that Harry Houdini could escape shackles in a water tank under duress and I struggled to get out of a bathing suit. I opted for the top down method. I released myself from the straps and rolled it down to my waist and kept going until I was free. The entire task likely lasted under five minutes and felt like a lifetime. The search continues…

Damn it, the Civil War is Postponed!

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Damn it, the Civil War is Postponed!

Susan, a white woman wearing a resist shirt is yelling into a megaphone at a protest: “The Fourth of July Civil War has been postponed! (gasps from the crowd, loud sighing with audible eye rolls) I repeat, the July 4th Civil War has been postponed! Alex Jones is on to us AGAIN, he must have a mole in here. (Susan pauses to eye the crowd with suspicion) The avocado launchers need to be rolled back along with the gluten free pasta guns – oops sorry they aren’t guns, guns are bad, they are peashooters – don’t worry we aren’t using actual peas, people still eat those, non-GMO of course (a collective sigh of relief from the crowd).

Kevin, a bearded dude in the audience wearing an ‘I’m with Her’ t-shirt: “What will we do with all of the avocados Susan?”

Susan: “We will enact the 3-2-1 Emergency Plan and make guacamole for everyone at the Texas border!”

Kevin: “That’s ambitious Susan do we have enough cilantro? I like tomatoes in my quac, I heard there was a shortage, not enough farm workers to harvest this year….”

Susan: “G-damn it Kevin we’ve been through this in the practice drills. We will make due with the cilantro on hand. You may have to let go of the tomatoes. We’re all making sacrifices here (mutters Geezus, under her breath but everyone hears it).”

(A beleaguered looking mother of 6 overheard in the background in a sing-song voice): “You get what you get and you don’t get upset!”

Susan: “Thanks everyone for coming out today! Don’t be discouraged we will reconvene next week at the usual location.”

Millennial from the crowd wearing an androgyny smock: “Is that still at Whole Foods or did we switch when they got acquired by Bezos?” (an Echo is heard in the background offering to create a Whole Foods shopping list – 1,243 people all yell “Shut Up ALEXA!!! OFF!!!” simultaneously)

Susan: “Thanks for asking Magenta. We will be meeting in church basements, Quaker Meetinghouses and yoga studios under the guise of self help groups. Namaste everyone, namaste.”

 

This post brought to you by sarcasm and humor, two of my oldest friends. And I’m throwing in a plug for Periodically Inspired because I love their shirts (and I did NOT get paid for that). Happy 4th y’all!

https://www.periodicallyinspired.com/

 

 

 

 

 

What’s in Your Wheelhouse?

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What’s in Your Wheelhouse?

Seems like everyone has a wheelhouse these days, a metaphor to describe their specific skill set. I hear the term from friends that are still slugging it out in corporate America. I used to have a wheelhouse filled with current technical skills, boundless energy and a can-do attitude. That was fourteen and a half years ago before I was laid off from my Project Manager position at a software firm (The Office Space movie really resonated with me). Those attributes have been replaced with an intense hatred of middle school car line, juggling of my family’s emotional, social & physical needs, my imagination’s ability to go DEFCON 3 if I can’t reach my kids and an abundance of resting bitch face. I’m running out of ducks (psst…spellcheck is a stupid duck).

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Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_hermandesign2015′>hermandesign2015 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Here’s a not-so-secret-secret, I’m nearing the mid century mark (audible gasp, I know I can’t believe it either). So I suppose it’s natural to take a moment and reflect on some shit stuff. I did the math and in dog years I’m coming up on the big 3-5-0…no wonder I’m tired.

As I’m sitting here trying to flesh out this post, I’m listening to my husband teach our daughter Algebra. I’d rather eat a flaming sword while my fingernails are pulled off with rusty pliers. I stopped helping my kids with homework somewhere around 5th grade. If anyone asks my reasoning is to “facilitate independence”, I think they’re on to me though. The truth is I can’t do half of it without screaming or crying, if only on the inside.

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They say (not sure who “they” are) with aging comes wisdom. Hmm, not sure about that one. I knew everything when I was 17, you couldn’t tell me otherwise. Now I hesitate a little more, consider the thoughts of others who may have a different point of view and sometimes I’m wrong. I try not to “jump to conclusions” (still with me Office Space fans) and I reserve the right to change my mind. Perhaps I’m maturing just a hair, must be the flair (sorry, apparently I have a theme now).

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I’ll tell you want else comes with this milestone birthday – yes and no. Yes to spending time, money and effort on the people, places and things that matter most. No to the activities that don’t bring joy or a sense of purpose. I recently resigned from a position on a non-profit. I’ll still help out, I just don’t want my name on the letterhead. My time suddenly seems more precious and I give careful consideration to how I spend it.

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What’s in your wheelhouse?