Escape of the Inner Monologue

World, inside of my head. Inside of my head, world.

I’m a Writer

In tenth grade, my English teacher asked us to write a short story. By asked, I mean assigned homework. My general memories of high school all have a bit of a fuzz about them – my memory is not super. But I remember thinking this was the easiest homework ever. I sat down and typed out (on an electric typewriter, you whippersnappers) my story in an evening. I gave it to my mom to edit.

My mom was a writer – or ex-writer. She had written prolifically in her younger days, and was quite talented. She had even gone to a pretty impressive graduate program. But as time and her mental illness had progressed, she had stopped writing.

I remember her eyes being a bit glassy after she finished reading my story. I thought it was boredom, but she assured me it was tears. She had been quite moved by what I had written, and aside from some grammar corrections – my mom really should have been an editor – she thought it was perfect.

I turned the story in and waited. I received the story back with a 100% and several stars drawn on the top. My teacher then made the entire class read my story, which was equal parts awesome and humiliating. I was later called down to the principal’s office, an event that only happened two times in my school career. (The other time was for a crime I did in fact commit, but that’s another story.) The principal wanted to praise my story as well. In his scary office. To my nervous and, I’m certain, bright-red face.

I went to college thinking that although I loved writing, I couldn’t make a living at it. I’m not sure why – my parents had never said this to me, I don’t think. I majored in something I thought would be more employable, and took some writing classes when my schedule allowed.

I don’t remember writing much for fun after I went to college. I would sporadically decide to start journaling, or open a blank document on my computer and type out an outline for a story I’d never finish. I wrote some obligatory angsty poetry. Something had happened in my head that just said over and over again this isn’t something you can do, or something you should spend time on, or something (fill in the self-defeating thought here).

I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that my time spent writing in the last couple of years has increased. I found a wonderful therapist. I think everyone should have a therapist they love. If I were ever going to run for President, that might be my entire platform. But I’ve now got some fantastic tools to use to fight back when those mean thoughts pop up and try to get me to quit writing.

I recently had the chance to see my first published short story in print. I got pretty emotional holding the book, but more than that, I got itchy, right in the tips of my fingers. I wanted to go write.

I’ve read a lot on the internet about “when do I become a real writer?” Can I say I’m a writer when I get an agent? Or when I get published? Or when I get a certain number of rejection letters?

I have no idea when other people may think I’m a writer, but I finally believe I’m a writer.

The Neverending To Do

It’s funny how much is involved in keeping a little person alive, let alone entertained and happy. I’ve been reading a lot recently about the mental load of women, and at the end of each article I don’t know if I am more happy because I’m not crazy for feeling mentally drained all the time, or more sad because now I have the additional mental load of the awareness of my mental load.

I’m aware of how lucky I am on so many levels. I recognize that I have a lot of advantages others don’t, and my daughter is really the easiest kid. But nonetheless at the end of the day I can’t settle down to sleep because my brain is spinning up helpful things like “But did I REALLY write toilet paper on the grocery list?” and “I don’t have enough PTO to cover all these school breaks” and “Did my period just start, or am I just gassy?” The standard playlist of the mom at rest.

So anyway – I use an app, Wunderlist, to manage a lot of things. And I even set up a list in there for things just for me. One of the things on that list is “Write blog entry.” That item has been on my to do list for easily a year. I kept pushing it back. I either was too tired or too uninspired or too busy to ever sit down and do this one thing. A thing I like doing. A thing that is important to me. A thing that lets me practice my writing, which is a thing I love.

So I’m going to work harder to not negotiate with myself on this to do in the future.

Maybe if nothing else I’ll make lists of all the things I think of when I’m trying to fall asleep. At least then I won’t lose them. And everyone loves to read lists of 80s rap songs I still know the lyrics to, right?

Survey Says

I’m a sucker for meaningless internet surveys. I’m also a heavy user of a Magic 8 Ball, so FYI if you want to eat chips right now the OUTLOOK IS NOT SO GOOD. Possibly because I ate them. Or because the universe said so. That’s the beauty of internet quizzes and Magic 8 Balls.

But I really do appreciate how every single sorting quiz of any variety puts me in Slytherin. I find this very validating. Also it allows me to wear my Slytherin sweater to Target and do my shopping without feeling like an imposter. I like to save feeling like an imposter for all other areas of my life.

So, you may be asking yourself, is there some sort of survey included in this post? SIGNS POINT TO YES.

This one is going around the FBs recently. Since I treat these less like surveys and more like writing prompts, I figured I’d force people to come here if they wanted my answers.

1. Favorite smell: L’s head, except for when she’s been running at full speed for 45 minutes straight. Then she’s got a bit too much of the funk to qualify as favorite. So, cleanish L’s head. Because that smell means we are having snuggles which is my favorite thing to do all the time always.

2. Last time I cried: Yesterday. It was the five year anniversary of my dad’s passing.

3. Favorite pizza: The best pizza I ever had was in Naples, Italy, after hiking to the top of Mount Vesuvius and touring Pompeii. The pizza tasted good because it was delicious, but also because I had successfully completed my visit without being murdered by a volcano.

4. Favorite Flower: Roses. I am a tad bit obsessed. Make something rose anything and I AM IN. Rose smells, rose flavors, rose gold…. this is an expensive preference.

5. Favorite dog breed: I have had the honor of owning some truly remarkable dogs in my life, and they were all shelter specials. My german shepherd was super into full contact snuggles, and also required me to carry his 75 pounds for a full mile after he saw a snake on a walk once. My shiba inu was a priss who hated getting dirty, but once went full psycho on a guy who grabbed me on the street, causing him to run for safety. I bought her a cheeseburger after that one. My poodle would lie next to me in bed and lick my hand until I fell asleep. My minipin would attack the dog who lived in the shiny and very reflective dishwasher door, but also looked dashing as hell in a sweater. My first dog ever lost an eye after getting out one night – the vet who saw him in the emergency room felt it was deliberately done. But he was still the most loving and sweet little guy. All dogs are amazing, but all mine have been my favorites.

6. Untie laces before shoes come off: Except for my Converse and my running shoes, I have successfully managed to eliminate laces from my shoe wardrobe. And one of my pairs of Chuck is slip on. I untie my Chucks but not my running shoes. 

7. Roller Coaster: I’m trying to remember the last time I was on a roller coaster and I am failing. I used to love them – I fear this is something that if I were to try again, I would discover I have aged out of. But if I get the chance, I will try and report back. I’m certain you’ll be waiting here to find out. 

8. Favorite ice cream: My favorite ice cream ever in the history of ice cream was Baskin Robbins’ Chocolate Mousse Royale. Which was discontinued. Because of course. MY REPLY IS SUCK IT says the universe. 

9. Pet peeve: Assholes. Figuratively and literally. 

10. Shorts or jeans: Where is the leggings option? I would like to see the leggings option. I have joined the Leggings As Pants army if I have enough butt coverage. Shorts are necessary on some hot days, and jeans are a wardrobe staple. But black leggings are always my first choice now. Because I’m 40 and completely out of fucks. 

12. Color of your vehicle: Grey, with a thorough covering of road salt. I also have two stickers on the back of my car, because she’s old enough to have a couple of tattoos. One is Totoro and one is the Wonder Woman insignia. 

13. Color of eyes: Blue. I think. 

14. Favorite food: Food shared with people I care about. As long as there are no mushrooms. 

15. Favorite Holiday: This is a difficult decision, but Christmas edges out Halloween by a snowflake. 

16. Night owl or morning?: I can be either but you will like me more if I’ve had at least seven hours of sleep. 

17. Favorite day of the week: Saturday! 

18. Do you have a nick name?: I probably have lots of them that I’m not even aware of. For example, what did you think when you saw this blog post? “Oh, Crazy Pants posted again” or “Ugh better read this so when she tries to pitifully beg for validation I can say, yeah, Needy Bitch, I read that trash.” Other than that my parents used to call me Pancake because I resembled a child featured on a Jefferson Airplane album whose name was given as Pancake. But my body type hasn’t been pancakey in a long time, so that one kinda fell by the wayside. Also my parents are dead so they don’t call me anything much anymore. 

19. Favorite music: The failures of my enemies whirling in a blender. Or, I dunno, New Kids on the Block. Honestly I love all kinds of music. Although I will confess that my Spotify “Most Listened To” list of 2017 was composed entirely of songs from my daughter’s playlist, led by her eternal favorite, Immortals by Fall Out Boy. Damn Big Hero 6. 

20. Tattoos: Three. So one more than my car. Not that it’s a race. But I’m winning. Winning the tattoo race, not an actual race. Because I would lose to my car. Assuming I’d given someone the keys and they were driving her. Because she would lose if I hadn’t. So maybe I’ve just sorted this all out and I’m winning both kinds of races with my car. Not that we are having one at all. 

Have a fun internet survey? Post it in the comments. OUTLOOK GOOD I will go and take it. But if the results don’t put me in Slytherin then it’s not a valid quiz. #qualitycontrol

 

Monsters in the Walls

In the spirit of the Victorians, let’s tell a scary ghost story just before Christmas. It’s a better way to be in the Victorian spirit than using arsenic as makeup anyway.

When we moved into the current house, L was two years old. From the very first night, she refused to sleep in her room. Even though we’d been sure to set up her crib and make certain that all the essential, familiar items were unpacked and ready, she staged an epic protest and insisted on sleeping in the master bedroom with us. All she would say, when asked why, was that her room was not nice, and had monsters.

So I embarked on an epic effort to make the room nice. We hung her curtains, put up stickers… it was a regular Fixer Upper, Toddler Edition (more Tinkerbell, less shiplap). Still, she wanted nothing to do with the room at night. Eventually she was able to say why… there were monsters. I figured she was using her amazing imagination and working her way through a really big change. After all, I was feeling overwhelmed and out of my element after moving to a new state, so I’m sure she was too. I figured it would pass after things settled down.

Narrator: It did not pass.

Gandalf: I told you.

We would periodically have conversations with her about what would make her want to sleep in her room, which led to the purchase of a toddler bed, then a full sized bed. She would sleep in there if one of us joined her, but never alone. She insisted there were monsters.

As she got older, she was able to describe the monsters in more detail. There was a mother monster (not Gaga) and a baby monster. The mother monster did not talk, but the baby did, and the baby would tell L that the momma monster was “very bad.” The monsters were stuck in the walls and ceiling, but had very very long arms, with talons at the the tips of their fingers. Yes, my daughter used the word talons. And…the monsters only wanted blonde girls.

Gulp.

The consistency of her story, the details she included, and the way she’d talk about it so matter of factly all added up so much that now I’m afraid to go in her room alone. That plus the creepy notebook we found hidden in the basement ceiling when we moved in, and the fact that the last family who lived here moved out for apparently no reason, and how I’d been assuming it was the cats opening her closet doors all the time…

A couple days ago, L reported that the monsters were gone. They were bored, and left. Evidently we’d starved them out of house and our home. I’m grateful we had quitter monsters who decided to just peace out and find a new food source, rather than get all nasty about the lack of service. But I think I’ll sage the house just in case.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a monster-free night!

 

Pain in the Neck

About eight years ago, I fell down. And this wasn’t one of my typical falls, which happen with such frequency and consistency that I’m fairly certain that one side of my head is permanently floor shaped. “Please, only photograph me from my flat side,” I say to the imaginary paparazzi.

This fall was epic, in the sense that I fell with such wild abandon and force that I tore all the muscles in my neck. I of course did not go to the hospital because that would be an expensive habit when you fall recreationally as much as I do. But as the pain got worse I eventually went to see my doctor, who diagnosed the injury and yelled at me for not going to the hospital. He literally yelled. I started physical therapy, which went on for about as long as the Lord of the Rings trilogy felt like it went on. I eventually achieved a level of near constant pain that was acceptable and called it a win.

At the beginning of this year, both my arms started doing this super adorable thing where they would turn into fiery tubes of pain. I typically describe it as going numb, which isn’t accurate because I can feel everything. But most everyone has had that pins and needles sensation, so it’s a more approachable description than “millions of ants armed with flaming swords storming my arms and fighting their damnedest for queen and country.” This sensation at least only happens at the most convenient of times – when I’m sleeping, driving, typing, or using a knife. Or standing or walking or petting the cat or hugging my daughter. Also known as almost constantly.

My doctor (a new one, not the yelling one) took some pictures of the inside of my body and I was promptly diagnosed with bone spurs in my cervical vertebrae, arthritis in the same area, and inflamed discs. All this mess was pressing on my nerves, causing the super fun Sleeves of Pain. No, you can’t use that as your band name.

In an effort to help alleviate my perpetual discomfort, I was sent for a therapeutic epidural. I had had an epidural while giving birth to L. The concept of a needle being placed into the rope that makes my body go was terrifying, but the totality of the pain of labor was enough to get me past it. This time, I had nearly a month before the procedure to contemplate the horror that would befall me when inevitably the doctor sneezed while placing the needle, because that is just the sort of bad movie premise that is my life. (Oscar clip, featuring Kristen Bell as me and David Tennant as the surgeon: ME: Bless you. SURGEON: (sadly) It looks like you’re the one who will need that blessing…)

So when I headed back to the procedure room, it is safe to say I was nervous. Shoulder tension makes my arms much worse, so they had been meat tubes full of hot sauce and knives all morning. The doctor and the nurse were both incredibly kind, patient, and caring, and neither sneezed at all while they walked me through what they were going to do. Essentially, they were going to have me lie face down and use an x-ray to help them guide the needle to exactly where it needed to be in my spine. Then, they would fill me full of drugs like a donut full of custard and send me on my way. Easy peasy, butt cheek squeezy. They had me practice deep breathing, using a straw. The doctor said I won the award for the longest exhale they have ever had during the breathing practice. I made a comment about being full of hot air because when I’m nervous I’m as funny as a four year old’s knock knock routine but still feel compelled to use humor as a protective shield and therefore make some stunningly horrible jokes.

They helped me up onto the table, which given the jello-filled sausage cases of suffering my arms were was quite a trick. They had me lie on a couple of pillows and then had me get back up to re-arrange the pillows to create a boob divot, as the gals were preventing me from lying on my stomach such that my back was flat. After they finally had me settled in, the nurse very sweetly and gently tied me to the table. (Evidently including sentences that may lead to my posts coming up in a porn search is my thing.) She assured me this was so I could let my arms relax, and not to prevent me from running away. I accepted that premise, as I had no choice, what with being strapped to the table.

The procedure went smoothly until the end, when they were mid-spinal custard pump, when I mentioned how terribly hot it was in the room. It was as if I had said some magic word, like on PeeWee’s playhouse but with less puppet screaming and more cool compresses. (I think that might be my new slogan… less puppet screaming and more cool compresses. Vote Me in 2020.) I was evidently having a vagal reaction, which I misheard several times, leaving me very baffled as to why my nether regions were getting involved in things at all. But evidently my body decided that despite my amazing ability to exhale everything WAS NOT OK, and enacted emergency maneuvers, which to my body means slowing my heart down to a nice relaxing 50 bpm. Because my body sucks at survival strategery. Please do not share this information with any area bears.

But many compresses and glasses of water later, I was fine and ready to go home and recover. The doctor advised me that I should mention the vagal reaction in the future, which I assume means this should be my new fun fact I use to break the ice at parties. “Did you know that if you put a needle in my spine, chances are good I will pass out?” That sounds like a perfect way to get the cheese plate all to myself. And if that isn’t the road the health I don’t know what is.

Murder: A Commuter’s Tale

On my way to work today, three people died, and it was hilarious.

Ever go through a period of time where listening to music just isn’t comfortable? I’ve been going through one of those times for about a year now. Sure, there are a few songs that I will put on and play at all volumes over and over again (Wait for It from Hamilton is tattooed on my soul now), but generally I just can’t music recently. It’s too evocative intellectually and emotionally. But what is a woman with two 45 minute drives a day to do? Minnesota drivers are far too infuriating to have to deal with them with no distractions whatsoever.

So, I discovered something the young people are into – podcasts. You should try them. They are fun. And you should especially try My Favorite Murder.

It’s not a perfect podcast, but it’s about one of my favorite evil interests – true crime. Descriptions of some of the most horrible things people can do to other people, juxtaposed with commentary and humor by two average people – not lawyers or police or profilers, just a couple of true crime friends.

Aside from the reassurance that there are other people in the world with as dark a sense of humor as mine, I’ve wondered why I enjoy listening to this recounting of horrific murders. There’s a bit of a totemic aspect to listening – if I hear what terrors have befallen others, those terrors can’t happen to me. There’s also a bit of a perspective setting – whatever I’m struggling with isn’t anywhere as bad as it could be. There’s also a lesson – don’t hitchhike, listen to your gut, cats can be trained to meow for cookies. Ok, so not all the lessons are about how not to get murdered.

But regardless – I’ve really enjoyed having these two funny women tell me sickening stories about the very basest of humans on my way to and from work.

Because at the very least, listening to stories of murder makes me feel far less like murdering my fellow drivers.

Hypochondria Says Goodnight: A Play in One Act

Brain: Wasn’t that a lovely meditation? I’m ready to get in bed and read.

Shoulders: But we’re cranky. We don’t like relaxing. It’s unfamiliar and weird feeling.

Brain: Just settle down and I’ll start reading Harry Potter. We all like Harry Potter.

Shoulders: Oh yes we do.

Elbows: Oh very much!

Feet: We like the bit about the socks!

Brain: There you go. Ok, all settled in. “Yer a wizard, Harry!”

Jaw: Ahem.

Brain: Yes?

Jaw: I hurt.

Brain: What? Why?

Jaw: No clue. But I really fucking hurt. Like I’m thinking we got stabbed in the face? Did that happen?

Brain: No, I would have noticed that.

Boobs: No one’s been dripping blood on us. We think you’re good.

Jaw: Nope, pretty sure we got punched with a rock covered in razor blades. Right here on the right side. It’s so painful! Like, so painful, you can’t concentrate on that book.

Brain: Aw c’mon. Quit it. There’s no reason for you to be in pain. I just want to read!

Jaw: No, sorry. OW OW OW OW OW OW OW.

Brain: Fine. It’s nearly time to take our trazadone anyway. That should help.

Trazadone: Hi again folks, good to see you. I’ll be whisking us all to dreamland here shortly.

Jaw: OH MY LORD I’M GONNA IMPLODE WITH PAIN.

Brain: Didn’t I read once that jaw pain was a symptom of a cardiac event in women?

Heart: What now?

Brain: Yeah, totally a symptom. Are you acting normally?

Heart: Well, I’m beating at a regular rate. Or I was until you accused me of trying to kill us just now.

Brain: Well, I’m not the one having an event!

Heart: You’re the one having an event of stupidity.

Jaw: GAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I AM INVENTING NEW LEVELS OF PAIN

Reproductive System: Doubt it.

Trazadone: Ok, if we’re gonna fall asleep I’m gonna need you to simmer down, Jaw. Here.

Jaw: Oh that is better thanks.

Brain: Except we’re DYING NOW. We are CLEARLY having a heart attack and we are CLEARLY going to die!

Heart: Dude, I’m cool. Really.

Brain: NO YOU’RE A MURDERER

Jaw: I feel good. Let’s chew gum.

Trazadone: Hey hey hey there, Brain. Don’t your hands feel fluffy? Isn’t the bed so warm and snuggly? Don’t you just want to close your eyes and drift off?

Hands: Did he call us fluffy?

Brain: SHUT UP TRAZADONE NO I’M BUSY SHUFFLING OFF THIS MORTAL COIL

Trazadone: For fuck’s sake. You’re going to sleep now, mother fucker.

Brain: THE LAST WORDS I WILL EVER HEAR IN THIS LIFE ARE MOTHER FUCKER.

Heart: Apropos.

—-The Next Day—-

Brain: So um, hey everyone. We called the doctor and she said that all that pain was probably from stress. We do grind our teeth, and she said it’s probably what’s causing the pain, since we don’t have any other cardiac symptoms. So, nothing to worry about after all!

Heart: You were the only one who was worried.

Brain: No, I’m certain we were all quite concerned! It’s only logical to worry in such a situation. Totally normal.

Heart: You’re an idiot.

Brain: You’re a craphat.

Heart: You’re a pickle fucker.

Brain: You’re a clown anus.

Jaw: I hurt again!

 

El Fin

 

Penny Dreadful and Unemployment

In July, I had the unique experience of being able to enjoy two weeks of unemployment. I could enjoy them rather than fear that the tax man was comething because I had received a job offer prior to the conclusion of my previous job. I chronicled each day on Facebook. This is the compilation of those Facebook posts.

June 27

Unemployment log, day 1: After dropping daughter off at school, came home and formed cocoon of blankets around self and watched three hours of Penny Dreadful. Felt guilty, got up and sorted out box of old papers. Took shower, made lunch, returned to couch cocoon for three more hours of Penny Dreadful. Good thing I’m already almost done with the second of three seasons. Otherwise I’ll never get anything done.

June 28

Unemployment log, day 2: Decided it was probably best to watch the last three episodes of season 2 of Penny Dreadful while the story was fresh in my mind, thus making the decision to resume residence inside my blanket cocoon seem logical and expedient. Took a shower and ran some errands. Brought lunch home and watched season 3, episode 1 while I ate. At this point the cable box decided it would no longer comply with my demands and threw an error, refusing to continue its complicity in my transition into half person, half blanket. Forced into productivity, I cleaned out my dresser and the mud room closet. Picked up daughter and went to fun dinner with friends in the world’s coldest restaurant. Sent thoughts toward cable box referencing vague but menacing consequences if today’s error is repeated in the morning.

June 29

Unemployment log, day 3: Husband decided to work from home today, so was able to ascribe blame to him for my lack of achievement on household projects. Very convenient. Decided to keep things spicy and unpredictable in my relationship with the cable box, so today watched one episode of Penny Dreadful, took a shower, and then in a surprise twist, watched two episodes of Gilmore Girls. Ran some errands, ate lunch, returned home, wandered listlessly around house trying to convince self to be productive. Instead answered siren call of two more episodes of Penny Dreadful. Blanket was delighted for our reunion.

June 30

Unemployment log, day 4: During a spate of 3am wakefulness, and therefore idle googling, discover that the season of Penny Dreadful I am currently enjoying is in fact the series finale. Realize that the remaining episodes must be carefully rationed throughout the rest of my unemployment, like an orange on an 18th century ocean voyage. Decide to spend the day far from temptation, nestled in the bosom of commerce that is the Mall of America. Enter mall with goal of acquiring a wardrobe that is more business casual and less pajama-centric. Leave mall with t-shirt and bathing suit. Declare visit a partial success, and go to local farmer’s market. Woman next to me at strawberry stand is explaining to companion that “that is how you end up with inferior rhubarb.” Ask if the rain was what hurt it. Am shunned. Decide to watch Penny Dreadful, drink champagne, and eat strawberries after child is in bed.

July 1

Unemployment log, day 5: Awoke with sense of ennui, partly because unemployment period has reached its halfway point, and partly because of the toddler leg crushing my larynx. Watched one Penny Dreadful. Ran errands, all the while trying to perfect impression of lead actress on Penny Dreadful. Discovered throaty Victorian narration makes everything more enjoyable but greatly confuses Target employees. Suspended use of English accent during phone call with brother and visit with neighbor, such that neither would advise me to stop watching Penny Dreadful. Obeyed maternal instincts and took daughter to pediatrician, who confirmed my suspicion of an infection and sent us home with roughly one gallon of pink antibiotics. Felt very successful in avoiding urgent care visit for offspring over holiday weekend. Celebrated excellent parenting achievement by purchasing takeaway dinner consisting mostly of nachos. Revived use of throaty Victorian accent while scrubbing toilet. Resisted making any Potty Dreadful jokes aloud.

July 2

Unemployment log, day 6: Usual itinerary centered on TV consumption and perfection of slug impression proves unsuitable with presence of husband and daughter. Spend day instead playing, doing chores, and taking first midday nap of unemployment period. Wonder why napping has not been included on daily agenda thus far. Ended evening with night out of highest caliber, meaning it included bubbly alcohol, much laughter, and one episode Gilmore Girls. Now viewing Paddington as a family while I resist urge to go outside and shake fist at people setting off fireworks, thus removing all doubt that I am 85 year old lady on the inside.

July 3

Unemployment log, day 7: Husband and daughter home again today, indicating continuation of weekend to my otherwise schedule-free existence. Deemed strawberry shortcake to contain enough food groups to qualify as nutritious meal for family if made with addition of ice cream. Also patriotic because of red and white ingredients. Add single blueberry to bowl to complete theme. Decide this makes up for failure to generate adorable Pinterest craft for national holiday. Glow with pride at persistence of genes when toddler emits exasperated sigh at firework enthusiast neighbors and moans aloud that we can’t sleep with all that noise.

July 4

Unemployment log, day 8: Spent first 25 minutes of day explaining concept of a holiday to daughter, who was sitting on toilet while interrogating me as to why she was not at school. Acceptance of concept rated dubious, at best. Despite buckets of pink antibiotics applied to daughter, her fever spiked, causing day to consist of wild swings between staring at cartoons and bursts of random activity that would make Hunter S. Thomson proud. Did sneak one Gilmore Girls during lunch. Chose not to try to also sneak Penny Dreadful, as am responsible parent. Achieved hanging of artwork throughout home with help of husband, in attempt to finish moving in within one year of taking possession of house. Am certain will awake during night and get frightened by unfamiliar shapes on walls. Likely will ask television show to come investigate infestation of rectangle shaped ghosts in home.

July 5

Unemployment log, day 9: Toddler was home again today, resulting in pleasant day playing with toys and taking a nap. Cable box made pitiful whining noises to protest rampant neglect. Promised cable box new set of batteries for remote to earn its forgiveness. Planning to present them in jewelry box which I will snap shut when it reaches for them, as feel certain cable box is a fan of Pretty Woman given how often it’s on. Finally decided to leave house to run errands. Result was imprisonment in Target during violent storm. Calculated that it had been roughly 19 years since last imprisonment in a Target due to severe weather. Reflect on likelihood of unique ownership of a Target storm anniversary. Decide this classifies money spent during storm as gifts for purposes of household budget. Google result for 19th anniversary gift is “bronze.” Purchase of metallic Command picture hangers is fully justified.

July 6

Unemployment log, day 10: Waited an eternity of six minutes after getting home from dropping off daughter before starting next episode of Penny Dreadful. Blanket was forgiving of my extended absence. Despite unexpected plot twist, chose to shower instead of start another episode. Dropped car off for detailing service, and spent two hours on foot in retail district. Found lack of auto to be excellent deterrent to purchasing, due to extreme disinterest in carrying as recreational activity. Did try on clothing, and while redressing broke zipper on shorts. Had to choose between being unable to unzip and remove shorts in case of restroom utilization, or stroll town with fly agape. As is my wont, dignity was sacrificed in the interest of comfort. Ate lunch at Mexican restaurant, indulgently double dipping nachos in salsa as perk of eating alone. Immediately dripped salsa down front of shirt and into open fly of shorts.

July 8

Unemployment log, final entry: Sought refuge from horrors of reality by settling into couch, cuddling up to blanket, and ceremoniously watching final two episodes of Penny Dreadful. Felt disproportionately satisfied with ability to watch entire series within two week span. Imagined this was exactly how marathon runners feel, minus emergency roadside poops and bleeding nipples. Bid farewell to husband, who is traveling to opposite side of globe for business, and to escape further discussion of Penny Dreadful obsession. Wrapped up some tasks around house, contacted representatives in government, and then felt as if a meditation on my unemployment period, and its effects on my mental and emotional state, was appropriate. Instead took hot bath with favorite soaking salts, and used daughter’s tub crayons to draw mural of a unicorn and a dragon water skiing on side of tub.

July 10

Realization that I have to look like a professional grown up tomorrow setting in. Hair has already made it clear it will not be cooperating. Cannot remember what to pack to take to an office. Have required documentation, water cup, and post it note that says “no you should not talk in your Penny Dreadful voice.” Have discussed acceptable places in house to have accident, if necessary, with dog. Did not see her taking any notes, however.

Cuddles

This morning at 5am, my daughter stood by my side of the bed, whispering Mommy and petting my arm. I came awake with the state of mind that I think is reserved for caretakers being awakened in the night – absolutely clear and fully functional yet able to fall back asleep as soon as the need level is assessed.

“What is it, my love?”

“Mommy, I want to lie down next to you.”

We shuffled her into bed between me and R. She pulled her Bunny up close to her chest and snuggled her head into my shoulder as she rolled the length of her body up against mine.

“I’m growing up so big Mommy.”

“I know you are, my love.”

“Not too big for cuddles.”

My mind went back to the last time I snuggled with my mom. She was laying in bed, watching TV, hooked up to oxygen, and recovering from any one of the number of various assaults her body was under – cancer, chemo, radiation, pneumonia, not enough coffee. She was in and out, nodding off in front of whatever was on, then coming awake suddenly at times. I remember that I had had a hard day, although I can’t remember why. Probably some combination of watching your mother die and the drama that comes with being in your early 20s. I laid down next to her in bed and vaguely turned my attention to whatever was on the screen. She turned to me, looked at my face, and knew I was in a tough place in my head. “C’mere,” she said, and put her arm out.

It had been a long time at that point since I had last laid down next to my mom. Although we were an affectionate family, snuggling didn’t really extend past not minding that the other person’s leg touched yours throughout the movie you were watching. As I gingerly placed my head on her radiation burned skin, and tucked my body in close to her shrunken frame, I felt all backward. She was the one who was deathly ill – I should be comforting her. I felt selfish and silly. But I also felt relaxed, and safe. And for that little while, she was just my mom again, and not My Mom, Cancer Patient.

I nuzzled my daughter’s soft blonde hair and kissed her head.

“No,” I whispered. “Never too big for cuddles.”

Adieu, Come mas

My daughter turned 3.

Just like that. Five seconds ago I was writhing in a hospital bed, convinced I was going to die before I ever saw her brand new face. And now she’s three. She’s a running, joking, smiling, opinionating three.

There are lots of things that she’s outgrown, but some of the things she’s outgrown that I will miss the most are her ways of bending the English language to suit her needs. I recently saw another blogger post a list of phrases or words his child was no longer using, and I was moved to commemorate some of L’s turns of phrase that she’s letting go of as she gains more of a stranglehold over English. (That’s how I like to describe my own approach to communicating.) Anyway, in no particular order..

Come mas: This is how L says “come with us.” Examples include “Bunny come mas?” Or “Daddy come mas?” She is always concerned about attendance, and very specifically, the presence of her favorite people. The day she first articulates “Will Daddy come with us?” I will applaud and cry in equal measure.

Carrotted: One of L’s favorite activities on her Kindle is a game where you are a vet, and you treat animals with various medical problems. When she successfully helps an animal in the game, she joyfully tells me how she’s “carrotted” the animal. This is how she says she has cured the animal, and the smile on her face as she describes the carrotting makes me think she’s already heard her calling.

Macaknowknee n cheese n peas n corn: I have always loved to add peas to my macaroni and cheese. R suggested adding corn too, to give it a nice crunch. So L has only ever been served Mac n Cheese n Peas n Corn. And every time she requests this favorite meal, she pronounces macaroni in the cutest way possible, and then lists all the ingredients for me so I won’t forget any of them.

Mommy pwease pick me up: Even though she weighs 40 pounds I still happily carry my little one whenever she asks, for as long as I can. Because one day she’ll be my height and the days when she’d ask me to carry her will feel like a lifetime ago.

I celebrate all her new achievements and etch her many accomplishments in my mind. But I know sometimes I’ll just want to sit and think about the evolution of her, and these little pieces will help prompt a bunch of happy memories from when she was my little girl.