Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The definition of absurdity

There are days when I watch the chaos that is my life and I can do nothing other than laugh hysterically. Today was one of those days. I preface this with a little scene-setting.

It's 11:25 p.m. and I have shut my bedroom door because my youngest child kept coming in here, zombie-like, arms outstretched and whining for "just one more hug." I can still hear her saying "Mom, mom, mom, mom" about every 10 minutes from her bed. I'm thinking that if I could go back and teach her a more interesting name to use for me, I probably would ... or at least a quieter one. The "mom" cadence is punctuated by periodic screeching at her sister for, near as I can tell, breathing too loudly. Oh yeah, and before you say I'm awful for ignoring my poor, needy, loving little one, I would note that she is nine years old.

5:50 p.m.
I'm still working. I get a call from my teenage son. He wants to ride his bike over to the ice cream shop with his friend. This is the son who hasn't so much been, how shall I put this delicately, doing ANY homework for most of the semester. Yeah, here's the thing, my dear offspring, how 'bout you and I log into the school district's grading system and take a little look at your grades. Hmmmm. There is an odd phenomenon, here. Someone seems to have misplaced the first three letters of the alphabet. And why is it, that everywhere the code for "homework" goes a zero seems to follow? Let me say this slowly for you "hell, no." Louder? Oh yeah, I can do loud.

5:58 p.m.
Crap. I am so not getting my work done tonight. I have to be at the school for "Imaginarium" in a half hour. Crap.

6:10 p.m.
In the car, crank up the latest addition to my iPod for the truck test and drive home. Realize that this school activity might cost something and that I spent my last three bucks cash on soft serve for lunch. Call friend to ask if I need money. No luck.

6:20 p.m.
Arrive home. My parents are there. Damn, I forgot that they were coming by tonight. It occurs to me that I have no idea what I am going to feed my kids for dinner tonight. And where are my pants?

6:22 p.m.
Realize the little one is missing. Ummm. I thought she wanted to go to this thing.

6:23 p.m.
What the hell?!? The dog puked all over the laundry room. Enter oldest child. Important lesson: bad grades = cleaning dog puke.

6:25 p.m.
God, child, why are you wearing Sorel boots? It's 75 degrees outside.

6:29 p.m.
Bye Mom. Bye Dad. You'll feed the kids? OK, sure, whatever you want to do. See ya in an hour. I avoid a face plant when I trip over all the kid-related crap by the door.

6:32 p.m.
On the way to the school. Missed a call from my friend, who is at the school with her kid. Hooray! I don't need money.

6:39 p.m.
Arrive in school gym. Want to run away from the cacophony of noisy kids. Can't, on account of mine is there and I kinda have to stick around because of that.

7:02 p.m.
It's funny to trick my child with the magnets. Hee hee.

7:25 p.m.
1,2,3 GO! Escape from the school. Consider checking my mail while driving out of the school parking lot, since I haven't managed to get to the post office in about five weeks. Blow it off ... again.

7:35 p.m.
Back home. Am greeted by my dad's declaration, "We have beer and pizza." Did I mention that my parents rock?

8 p.m.
Dang it, child (the middle one this time) quit watching the dancing cats on Youtube and do the goddamn dishes!

8:03 p.m.
Where the heck is the little one? She needs to bathe.

8:45 p.m.
Bid parents goodbye after having spent an hour discussing my less-than-motivated eldest child. My dad gives him a little prod on the way out the door.

8:46 p.m.
Aforementioned eldest child doesn't like it when mom forms alliances with the grandparents, apparently. Spend a half hour discussing this.

9:10 p.m.
Forehead bloody from brick wall conversation of "I'll get my grades up, Mom" followed by "Just DO it and quit talking about it." Pretty sure I failed this lesson in parenting school.

9:12 p.m.
The little one is sobbing and hanging off me like a condemned woman. She is despondent because ... I will not buy her the first Twilight book. Did I mention that picture books are a challenge for her?

9:14 p.m.
Call my friend to ask if we are walking tonight. The little one is sobbing in the background and won't go to bed. My friend says "yes" as soon as she deals with her kid drama. Oh baby, I SO get that.

9:16 p.m.
The little one is still sobbing, but is now sitting crosslegged on my bed, her arms folded petulantly. She says it's likely that she is the only one in the world who will never have the Twilight book. That she will likely die never having read it. She also figures that if I don't rush over to Barnes & Noble right now, they will probably sell out of it and she WILL be condemned ... to a life without the foundational story of Bella and Edward.

9:18 p.m.
The little one asserts herself. She informs me that she will not go to bed and will not be leaving my bed. She will sit here until 7 o'clock. She'll show me.

9:23 p.m.
My friend walks in the house. We leave. Buh-bye. We spend the next hour cracking up at our absurdly dramatic children.

10:30 p.m.
We are pretty sure that reproduction is overrated.

11:25 p.m.
I haven't the foggiest idea what I did for the last hour, but I don't think I killed anyone. I know this because there are no blood spatters anywhere.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Going with the flow?

Someone with far more expertise than I once told me that the only thing I need to know about water and sewer systems is that it all flows downhill. Nice. Simple. Calm. Direct.

That's a wonderful concept. Problem is: My water and sewer system, right around springtime, turns into a raving lunatic bitch or a demented toddler. Pick your metaphor, but I have had enough.

These days, my well emits a sound like sucking the last drop out of the bottom of a fast-food milkshake. That, of course, results in air in the water lines, which makes my aged copper pipes shake and my shower spit at me like a pissed-off alley cat.

And on the other side? It's a load of crap, literally. Some brilliant prior owner decided that a vented wastewater system is overrated. Usually it works fine. But not so much in the springtime. These days, the drains are slow and emptying the kitchen sink causes the toilet to bubble like a stew pot. And about that toilet: Flushing adequately is a matter of roulette. No rhyme, no reason. Sometimes it flushes. Sometimes it just swirls around and then ... nothing.

Once the ground thaws, all will reset to its normal balance, at least until the river rises and pushes the groundwater up through my well head and into the basement. Guess I better go check the sump pump.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

A visit from Lily

Catchy as hell and cynical too, by way of recommendation from my dear friend in the home of America's hottest mayor. Sing along, now.

Lily Allen, "LDN"

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Embracing a ghost

I was crying, those deep, mournful sobs born of unfiltered pain. I was adrift, with nothing to ground me. My mind struggled to understand, to find reason and meaning and logic in the senseless. Then, without warning, you were there, that sweet face that I can barely see anymore. You gathered me to you, pulled my damp cheek to your shoulder, one hand softly entwined in my hair and the other tightly around my waist. You did not speak, for I can no longer remember your voice. But your head rested on mine, your rough face touched my cheek and your eyes were soft. And for a while, everything fell away but us. It didn't matter what made sense and what did not, because you were there with me and I knew quiet in your embrace.

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Falling into spring

The sky is gray and the air chilly, a few errant snowflakes riding the gusty wind. And if I close my eyes during my evening walk and inhale, it smells like fall.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

No spin

A man held a cardboard sign at the corner of University and Airport today:
"Why lie. I want a BEER."

Wonder how many beers he got out of that.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Colander people (and other kitchen metaphors)

It's Sunday noontime. I have Norah Jones on the stereo and strong coffee. The early afternoon sun is streaming through my window. It's perfect for time traveling.

Someone once explained to me that our hearts are like a cup or a pan or a bowl. The love of the people around us and the love we have for ourselves stays with us, helps keep us satisfied and healthy in our lives. Like water, it fills us and gives us something to hold onto during even the roughest times. Sometimes the toils of life leave our hearts feeling depleted, but those are often the times when friends and family come to our aid and offer so much love that our cups overflow. The watertight nature of our cups, pans and bowls is what allows us to accept the love of others and to give love in return. It is what makes the world a bearable place.

Some are not so lucky. Through biology or the cruelty of others, some among us have no capacity to hold water. Instead of a cup or a pan or a bowl, their hearts are more like colanders, so punched full of holes that they can hold nothing. And they long to be filled, to know what it feels like to love and be loved, to feel at peace. They grasp desperately at everyone who comes close to them, but every time they are loved, the water just drains out through the holes, leaving their hearts empty and aching. They need. They hurt. They long. They rage. And nothing is ever enough.

This wise person who introduced me to the concept of these colander people pegged it precisely: They are the saddest of human beings. For some reason, I have found myself close to several colander people in my lifetime. They are heartbreaking in their need and unable to find quiet strength in the love that is given them. They are achingly beautiful in their vulnerability, the personification of our most basic human needs. But to most, they are also incredibly dangerous.

For some reason, these people are on my mind this morning. And I am saddened by how they ache. I am angry at those who made them the way they are. We all can name the grand atrocities of humanity. But what about the everyday atrocities that create these colander people? That warrants outrage as well. These people deserve compassion, and I continue to wonder if there is truly anything that can patch the holes in their hearts and allow them to know love.

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