Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bypassing Revolutionary Road

The crickets chirp on a cool summer night. We hang at a friend's house, talking all things vital and inane. Small children move about, underfoot, making needs known, adding charm to the cheerful evening. We talk of recipes and where to get the best frozen burgers and how best to cook them. We share travel tales, what we saw, what we did, how much fun it was, how long the ride home lasted.
We talk about family members and how we love them and how we fear the roads they travel. Sometimes love is not given tenderly, but tough. We discuss the past and how it made our lives so. We offer one another empathy and compassion for what we have overcome despite all the hard turns.
We crack open bottles of beer and bottles of wine, we pass out ice cream to the already satiated children. When the candles are lit, we draw close, our words becoming more intimate. We tell things that we might never say at any other time to any one else, or we repeat, repeat, repeat.
Driving home it becomes clear that perseverance is half the battle. And sometimes, on certain Saturday nights, it is more than enough. It is everything.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

walking under a bright moon

Took Jackie Brown to the vet, and after a good consult, we are at ease that though yes, his tumors are going to continue to grow, he is doing fine. Got a prescription for some ointment to put on his paw, bought some new stuff to wrap it up good and he is doing well. He is still limping and taking it easy, but he is happy to hang out with us and still eagerly looks for good crumbs from the kids.
Went running tonight in town, I finally filled my shuffle with some good tunes. The great thing about running is, when you are doing it right, your mind just...clears. Somehow running through an unlit park with great music in my head made me feel weightless and unstoppable. Trick will be to keep that feeling going for a while.
As I came home, I walked down my quiet street where we live. I saw the moon rising up from behind the trees. It's been cloudy lately, so to see it again after a while felt good. It was one of those bright beautiful moons. As I stood, my heart rate still high, my leg muscles tight, I wished for all my friends to have good sex tonight. What an odd thing to wish.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Higher Threshold

Perhaps I have a natural tendency towards disorganization. Perhaps I have a higher threshold for chaos. I don't choose to live in squaller, I just....nearly do. Perhaps, like Neil Young once sang, A man needs a maid, and so too a woman. "Just someone to keep my house clean, fix my meals, then go away. This little passage is no less than the key to nirvana as far as I am concerned.
I'm just really tired, like, all...the...time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

the brown dog still drools

Jackie Brown is still alive. He had an appointment with death on Friday that we just didn't make. It is clear he is not ready to go anywhere despite the doomsday message from our neighbor about his suffering. Sorry, this dog still gets excited about the prospect of a pizza crust, he is not suffering. I put a sock over his bandaged paw because his daily activity started to focus around chewing it off and dragging it around the house, (did I mention this is all disgusting? I'm not sure how I am stomaching it.) I will spare a description of his paw; think about it for a second, that's what it looks like, enough said.

Now, he looks a bit like Barbaro, post-op. By days end though, my handy taping job inevitably comes loose. The white gym sock with blue painter's tape just flops this way and that as he pads around the dinning table then, he trips on it which makes me feel bad because well, like he needs one more thing to deal with. He doesn't complain. I take him outside in the evening and like a horse in the paddock, he just hoofs around the front lawn, former-Kentucky Derby-champion-like then settles down in the soft grass. He and I spend a few minutes just sitting together taking in the summer night air. As I pat his soft brown head I tell him everything I want him to know about how we love him, how loyal he has been since his days as a pup, and we have a few laughs recounting some of the zany misadventures we've had together....Ah fuck it, I don't really do that...perhaps in my mind I do just a little.

The truth is, John Grogan wrote the story of our lives...well at least the part about the dog...and the three kids...and how life has a way of becoming something you could never have guessed.
I'm sure somewhere inside my eternally insecure and unstable soul, I am grateful for it all. But despite the grounding that being married with a family provides, I still feel like that balloon, floating down the hallway half full, the morning after a grown up paid a dollar for it at the Chatham Band concert. Whenever a door opens or closes, or someone walks past it, the balloon swishes and bobs along with the moving air, without direction, without the strength of helium to draw it up to the sky.

I am never not fascinated (one could say I am always fascinated), by people who have the ability to live their lives well. Who are not preoccupied with self loathing and shame, and move about the world with a natural inclination towards deservedness. Some of this I have overcome, but not without a fair amount of work, (some would say with a fair amount of work). I admire those who have built a life for themselves, however seemingly simple to them. It is an achievement to have a family, to be obligated to the lives of others and through that obligation, support them with love.

Okay, time to end the emotional ramble. Point is, the dog is fine even if just for right now. Yes, his condition has made me a bit reflective on the journey we've been on together since he entered into our lives 12 years ago. Yes Joseph and I went through our ups and downs before we even realized we wanted to marry. But we married, and JB was there, with a not-too-silly silk bow tie, he was there on our big day. He was there each day our three children arrived home from the hospital by the river. He was there for every celebration, for every row, every night I spent alone and needed a watch dog, he did his best 10 foot dog impression. He ran away, jumping into neighbor's pools, he ate everything off the counter he could reach from hot steak fresh off the grill to two dozen chocolate cupcakes....then he puked up everything from his stomach and then some. He drove us fucking crazy every one of those 12 and a half years. But...but......a fuck it, I am either just too tired, or just too damn incapable of any worthy bit of wisdom at this point. Besides, Grogan already said it in a whole damn book. Which they made into a movie with some big time actors. You can see it on cable.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Three Little Angels

...And then there are those moments when they are as sweet as any three children in the world could be. Their smiles beam, their laughter bounces from room to room and I remember that I am a blessed person. I am blessed to have the privilege to raise these three young, and innocent people. Each day is a day filled with hope and promise. I hope I can do right by them and give them what they need to take on the world, and I promise never to give up, even on the days when it seems so very difficult.

Yes little ones, I love you to the very marrow of my bones, I would do anything in this world to protect you and give you all that I have to give.

I just sometimes need to say a few bad words and silly things once and a while to keep the pipes clear, ya know what I mean? Kind of like pouring toxic chemicals down the drain to clear out the clog in the sink. Hmm, not sure that's what I mean to say...remember, chemicals are bad, instead, use vinegar and baking soda. It's more like opening the windows after a long cold winter and cleaning out the black junk that collects on sills, yeah, kinda like that.
Thanks little angels.

love, mommy

Sunday, August 8, 2010

well done, mommy dearest

Nothing in the world sounds quite as horrific as the sound of one's child hitting the ground with a booming smack. When it's one's baby, say a 14 month old who has yet to walk but who loves to climb everything including the stairs; and who goes tumbling down what might as well be Mount Everest and lands at hard, wooden, uncarpeted, base camp while mother is taking a bite of a sandwich in the kitchen...well it's the stuff of haunting memories, isn't it.

It was an especially harmonious afternoon. All three children were playing and carrying on well, while mom and dad were actually getting a few projects done (Jackie Brown got what will most likely be his last backyard bath). That is when I took a moment to check in with the Kardashian sisters on "E" and make a sandwich in the kitchen. Alicia was hanging out with me, Claudia was moving around from kitchen to den, and Alex had gone upstairs to play with his latest collection of mighty beanz. Alicia crawled out of the kitchen and turned right- heading for the den, according to my eye-exam depraved vision and Kardashian-clouded brain. I had taken one bite of turkey and cheese on whole wheat when I heard the stairs erupt with thunder. The sound being created by my baby's body tumbling and hitting each step before finally reaching the bottom. Within a nanosecond, I knew it was going to be bad, but quickly prayed for the possibility that it was an inanimate object rather than an animate one. Perhaps Alex was working out some physics with his entire wooden firestation? As I turned the corner with adrenaline pumped tork, I got the special horror of seeing Alicia slam her tiny body down then lift herself to make her initial wale.

Her sweet baby nose had a curve to it as it instantly began to swell. Blood appeared in both nostrils. She quietly gasped for enough breath to release a scream filled with pain and fear to reach every corner of the house. Why this didn't have my husband bounding down the stairs I will never understand, so I called to him four times, each time my voice increasing with panicked demand. I was certain her nose was broken, I prayed her brain was sound. Her limbs pushed and strained against my hold (certainly to say, "piss off you worthless, neglectful parent!").

I held her dearly, frightfully wishing I could sooth away what had just happened. But no, I had in fact allowed my baby to crawl away from my supervision, to the stairs, to begin a 14-riser-and-tread ascent...solo. It didn't matter how many times before I had been there for her. It didn't matter that I had explained the danger of her climbing the stairs to the other two children and how they had complied by calling to me whenever they saw her head towards the stairs. Any preliminary cautions that were taken were all for not, because this time, she slipped, and no one was there to catch her bottom and guide her through her determination to reach the top. I was a wreckless mother for never insisting on a gate at the bottom. And because of my carelessness, my little one ended up at Westchester Medical, examined by whom I can only describe as the kindest and most thoroughly professional doctors I've ever met. (Dr. Patel, how I wish I could hook you up with one of my girlfriends in the city; Dr. Diamond I truly apologize for not asking you even once about your obvious neo-arrival.) They politely assured me she would be okay, except for a possible fractured nose which cannot be determined until the swelling goes down which will take about a week.

I stayed with her in the hospital for three hours before they released her. My mother-in-law appeared half way through with the calm, reassuring, nurturing skills only a mother could provide forgiving me my sin and allowing me to absolve myself in our curtained confessional.

Now the morning after, I hold my baby with a feeling of undeservedness. I pray to God with humble gratitude for...everything. Then I silently go to Mommy-Defcon 4.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dirty Laundry and Dying Dogs

Why does it feel like everyone's dog is dying? Suddenly our dog, our faithful dog of 12 years has turned a corner, and we are now faced with the too-soon reality that he may need to be put down. Everywhere I turn it seems someone else is telling me about their sick dog. What is this, and why then does everyone who has had a dog die need to tell me in great detail about their dog's untimely (or even timely) deaths? And like other people's children, I could care less about other people's dogs. (This is not entirely true, if anyone I know, and some who I do not know, has a sick child - I certainly care.) Jackie Brown is dying slowly, and we have been told how cruel we would be to let him continue to die this way...but for now, his tail wags at the sound of our voices, and his ears pirk up at the prospect of food, and I'm not ready to say his time has come.

So here he is, lying on the floor next to me, he has settled down from licking the growing tumor on his front right paw as he rests his weary body from a double limp - his back left leg has a torn ACL and his front right is growing to the size of a baseball. He can't go upstairs anymore, so I'm sitting downstairs typing, sharing the space with him, as I wait for the vacation laundry to complete it's cycle.

The sadness I feel for his aged state is accompanied by the lowness I feel about my sister and her family returning once again to Singapore after their summer visit. Like the sound of cicadas signal the approach of summer's final days, with their departure, so goes what few family members I have close to me, and so goes summer.

When I was younger and without dependents, I would cry away I quietly eat through my pain. I tumble into a pint of ice cream or a bag of something salty...or whatever other horrid snack that was meant to be just that: a snack, not a meal's quantity of sustenance.

I can feel the magnetism of the remaining chocolate bars from smores night on the Cape. The kids loved them and we didn't even have a fire pit to toast the marshmallows. Like true kids, when given a table full of graham crackers, Hershey's chocolate bars and a bag of "Jet-Puffed" (they loved jet-puffed) marshmallows, they dug in and had good, raw smore fun. They could care less if their marshmallows were toasted to perfection on a stick or right out of the plastic bag.

Parenting forces you to act selflessly. I am grateful for this. However, sometimes the constant bravery of selfless parenting, backfires with the byproduct of loneliness. So tonight, while my worn out swimmers slumber in their beds, the loneliness I don't allow myself to feel during their waking hours creeps up into my consciousness and it occurs to me that I'm sad. Sad about my sister, sad about our dog, and the approach of the turning of the seasons.