18 and Life

I did a thing. I packed my 18-year-old up – the sum of his most important belongings stacked in the back of Todd’s Explorer – and together with my husband and daughter drove him to college. It’s been a long road to get here, a road I have long known was coming … some day. The impact of it first hit me over a year ago as I watched him during Senior picture day, and I sat in the high school auditorium surrounded by other students and parents fighting back tears and impending hysteria. The months to follow, he was driving independently and going places with friends and that, I think, allowed me to slowly let go.

I proudly made it through his graduation with only a few tears to dab away from the corners. I watched his friends (the closest of them graduated the previous year) rush the field and pick him up and tackle him, and it made my heart sing. The rest of the summer he spent on the go, with friends and occasional weekends with his dad.  And then the days sped up and the time became shorter.

One night several weeks ago he woke me around 1 a.m. with a hand on my arm, and I followed him out to the darkened living room. I won’t betray his trust by discussing details, but let’s just say he was holding a lot of anxiety and trepidation – as we all did in the days before we left home – and we had a long heartfelt talk. It meant the world to me that he came to me with this, proving that time changes little between a mother and son.

Those first moments I had alone with him, after everyone had gone home, were the moments that would bind us to each other for a lifetime.  The moments every mother never forgets – the first time you really see each other, where you stare into those tiny eyes studying the face he will never forget.  Where you hold him close to you and feel his tiny breath on your face and you whisper all the love and hope and longing you have for him.

It was only the two of us for four-and-a-half years; we joined the Mom’s Club together, and through him I met so many wonderful moms who remain my friends today. His arms and heart were always open – he reached for strangers to hold him and eagerly played with anyone who wanted to. He adored my brother, his uncle only 9 years older than he is, from the first day. He sat down and shared his dump truck with my grandfather, a man he’d only just met, and made my Old Paw’s year. One Christmas he climbed up on a recliner with my bemused uncle Barry and proceeded to remove his socks, handing them to him one at a time, so he could clean the lint out from between his little toes (a two-year-old’s favorite pastime).

His sweetness extended to friendships everywhere he went. I worried over him going to preschool, but he walked in the door and never looked back. He welcomed the new kid in kindergarten by showing him around the classroom. Years later, he did the same for a new girl their Junior year, because he didn’t want her to feel alone. His friends today count on him to be there, and often come to him for advice. He is passionate about justice, what is right, and treating people well.

We moved to Maryland in his 7th grade year, and he was apprehensive and more than a little scared. The day we enrolled him, I sat across the table from him and those same brown eyes that stared at me hours after he was born met mine with tears in them and it felt like I was punched. But it didn’t take very long for him to announce how happy he was to have moved here, and it reinforced what I already knew. He is resilient. He is strong. He is my son.

Two days before move-in day, I broke down and cried. Todd and Veruca weren’t shocked. I half-expected Todd to pull a tough love on me and tell me I can do this. But he didn’t. Instead, he took the day off to come with us, to support me and Opac. He even packed two boxes of tissues.

Move-in day is a well-oiled machine. There were two lanes of cars next to the dorm, where upperclassman volunteers descended on them, emptied the contents, and delivered them to his door. We found our way to the room and I started making up his bed. I needed to DO something to keep myself from jumping out of my skin. We met the roommate and his dad and sister, and at some point the two young men decided to head over to the student center and that was it. We walked around campus so Todd could see it. We passed O and his roommate, now with a young lady in tow, a handful of times. O gave us a jerk of his head in acknowledgement.

We sat in a group – Todd, V, her dad, and the roommate’s family – on the lawn of the quad and ate a picnic lunch prepared for the students and family. I watched O from afar – seated in a circle with new friends eating lunch – and skulked around trying to snap pics unnoticed. After, he walked over to us and we chatted up a bit before a flash mob of First Year Mentors (aka upperclass orientation leaders) broke into the Git Up dance and I watched his eyes light up. His eyes met mine and I knew it was time.

We walked him back to his dorm room and hung out a bit in the cool air conditioning. I don’t remember what we talked about. V sat on his bed next to him and I snapped a few photos of them. She looked so much older suddenly. She’d been mistaken for a freshman earlier in the day, and now I could fully see it. We didn’t stay for the Opening Convocation. I knew it was time.

We made the move to leave, and I walked up to him and hugged him, and he lifted me off my feet – something he likes to do every now and then to remind me he can pick me up now. My heart overflowed. He hugged V and for the first time in forever she didn’t pull away. I met those eyes one more time and smiled my most deceitful, nonchalant, and bravest smile, walked out the door, and that was it.

The tears pushed through as I felt my composure slipping away. I hurried down the stairs with my sunglasses on before we even reached the outside. I gripped Todd’s hand until we were well past campus, on our way back to the farthest parking lot, where we said goodbye to V and her dad. I was fine. I was fine until we got about 20 minutes into the drive and then all bets were off. You know how hard it is to hold in a really ugly cry?

I volleyed between tears and nausea the rest of the day. I had no appetite. The physical feelings that accompanied this are familiar. It feels like a breakup. My heart feels so heavy and my stomach is in knots. Where you know you are grieving and that there is only ONE thing that is going to make the pain stop. But you aren’t going to get it.

I have to walk through. It is the mantra I use for all things difficult and painful and challenging – that one cannot run away from it, one must Walk Through. It is how we become stronger and capable and successful. What I told O that night in the living room.

Veruca, for her part, is acting all, whatever, about this. She quietly accompanied us and didn’t complain about anything. I was too focused on staying calm to notice at the time. But she has to be feeling something. This brother of hers has loved her from the day she was born, although the love looks a bit different nowadays with the capriciousness of teenaged emotions. Still, when V called me at work yesterday morning crying about her laundry, I knew it wasn’t really dirty clothes she was upset about.

Mom called me Thursday afternoon, knowing from my silence that it was comfort I most needed. And then she hit a curb because she was driving and cut a corner too tight in her new car, and exclaimed “shit!” and there was my comic relief. Sometimes success is finding laughter through the tears. I spent the rest of that day on the couch. I fell asleep early. Mom texted me around 10 saying, and I quote, “& DO NOT go into his room & smell his sheets you!!” And I had to laugh out loud, because it was too late.

So today is day 3. Todd and I had a cookout to go to last night after work – former colleagues of his from the old college that I had never met and I dreaded it. I was still feeling raw and just wanting to Velcro myself to his side. I wasn’t sure I was up for being my social self. But I did it.

~~Walk Through~~

I had a glass of wine and got to talking to some people and Todd was somewhere else and I was completely comfortable in my skin again. I sat outside in the beautiful night air that has turned pleasantly cool after a wicked thunderstorm the previous night and listened to these folks banter with one another and found myself laughing like an old friend. Damn Todd for knowing what’s good for me sometimes. And then the totally unexpected happened.

My butt started vibrating. My cell phone was in my back pocket. And ya’ll know who it was.

My baby. Calling me from a lull in the evening to say hi and tell me how great things are going. How he picked up his books and he was featured on an Instagram post from his department. And there it is – the heart swelling with pride, healing, growing, and knowing what I’ve always known. He’s going to be fine. And so am I.

 

Middle Age Shenanigans

A couple of weeks ago Todd told me we were invited to a party by one of his former colleagues. He told me it was the coming Saturday. That I heard clearly. Short notice – no big deal. My visceral reaction was more akin to, ah man, do we HAVE to? Contrary to popular opinion, I tend sometimes to lean closer to introvert. But he said something about it being a taco party and so I thought, I’m in!

[We interrupt this blog post with an over-the-shoulder conversation with him about what he should do with himself today, but he’s talking slowly because he just took an HCTZ pill – which is new – and he’s slurring his words just a little and giggling like a chimpanzee.]

So the day before this supposed event I asked him what time we’re supposed to be at this Taco Party, and he said it’s not a taco party, it’s an 80s party. Turns out, when he first mentioned the party, I heard taco instead of Paco – the hostess’s husband’s NAME.

So much for my claim that I do listen to him. Clearly evidence that he was right – that I don’t. But for what it’s worth, I’m easily squirrel! distracted.

However, HE had the date wrong. Because with my question he decided to open the invitation and it turns out it’s a few weeks out. So, plenty of time to plan an outfit for a decade I’d sooner forget the looks of. Millennials!

I have 126 days until I kiss my fourth decade goodbye. 126 days until I’m officially a half-century old – older than what I thought was old when I was 10. 126 days away from invitations from the AARP and the colonoscopy clinic. Good times ahead!

[Singing, All we are saying, give peace a chance… cough, cough, hack. Maybe he’ll fall asleep for an hour so I can finish this post.]

Todd has already crossed the bridge overlooking the Golden years. And with that, last week at the grocery store a revelation that what’s great about being over 50 is that you no longer give a shit what people think of you. Because he decided to return the shopping cart to the inside of the store once we unloaded, and he as he did… he let go the cart with a gentle push, raised his arms slightly and said, “currrrrrrling….” (Lady behind him sniggled to herself as she passed.)

Middle Age definitely has its merits. We have many adventures to look forward to and more than a few necessary medical screenings to run from, or face with the tenacity of a honey badger, or a sense of humor and a pen to write it all into a future blog post.

Todd has this penchant for turning everything I say into a song. I just announced that it’s 1:00 already.

[It’s one o’clock on a Saturday…and Tara is writing her blog…] a la Piano Man

HCTZ, by the way, has quite a few unpleasant side effects, twenty of which are related to sexual function. (Okay maybe not twenty.) I don’t remember if impaired judgement is one of them, but he’s over there looking at cars for sale again and decided aloud that

[She’s writing about me and I think it is fine, as she gets everything off of her mind…]

he doesn’t want another Explorer, because this car here is a great deal for the price. A Ferrari. I told him that’s perfect. It will go well with the loss of erection and sexual function from the medication he took today.

I’m thinking it’s going to be a long weekend.

 

 

Just Another Thursday Morning

Opac and Veruca were getting ready for school this morning and Todd was cooking bacon and sausage for a breakfast meeting. I’m still trying to ward off the alien invader who made my lip swell up. V has a presentation in Chinese today, so she wanted to practice with us. It sounded great to me – even though I don’t understand a word of it – and I’m still marveling at how well she’s doing with it, since Chinese can be difficult to learn.

Opac stepped up and said it was his turn, said “ni hao” and followed up with “Shanghai, Hong Kong, egg foo young…” at which point I started cracking up…”fortune cookie always wrong!”

He was bumbling his way around the house this morning, first kicking the step stool and startling me. He said, that’s what happens when a steel-toed boot hits a metal stool. Because today he’s wearing shit-kickers. A few minutes later I heard the toilet lid crash down, and from down the hall I heard, “I’m good!” Apparently he caught his boot on the lid, and I just don’t even want to know how that happened. For a brief moment I had a flashback to Neph who, you may recall, I once said Neanderthal’s his way through life.

While I’m marveling at how my daughter is speaking Chinese, I’m beginning to marvel at who-T-F this boy is living in my house. He’s evolving again, from video-gaming, rap-music-loving sport dude to this man wearing cowboy boots or shit-kickers, jeans and flannels, and now listening to ….. country music. It’s all good, just never saw the country music thing coming. Although, to say he doesn’t have an appreciation for all kinds of music would be disingenuous. He likes rock, metal, and reggae too.

He’s a young adult now. His newfound freedom of driving has boosted his confidence to get out and do stuff. He called me at work the other day to tell me, breathlessly, that he drove himself to get a haircut – which in itself must have felt very liberating but was ruined by some “hick” who appeared out of nowhere on his bumper and [likely scared the bejesus out him] pissed him off. I’m thinking, given his penchant for flannel and boots and while driving a 1990 Ford pickup, that he should limit his use of the word, “hick.”

He played me a song called Pickup Man and now I can’t get it out of my head. Not that, or the sound of him singing, you can set my truck on fire and roll it down a hill… and I still wouldn’t trade it for a Coup de Ville… and now I hate my life. Okay, not really. I think it’s hilarious, especially when he told me that Mason got him into country music and when he asked him to send his MP3 list, Mason sent each song separately. Can’t help but wonder how this trend will evolve next year when he’s at college with a whole new set of friends he hasn’t met yet.

I never liked the music my parents listened to, growing up. My mom and stepdad made me and a cousin see Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers at the Valley Forge Music Fair when I was in high school. I hated the idea from the get-go. The worst part – the seats were split up so Jimmy and I sat in one section, and Mom and George sat in another section. But guess what? Though I wasn’t about to tell them, it was a fantastic concert. First, Ziggy sounded like the ghost of his father, and Rita was just breathtaking. Second, it was constructed as a theater-in-the-round with a revolving stage so that there were no bad seats. It was hard NOT to be engaged in the show.

In high school I listened mostly to pop music, except when I was riding in Todd’s car with Dokken and Bon Jovi just beginning to effect what is now hearing loss. So there you have it Todd – you can’t get mad at me for not hearing you, because it’s all your fault I can’t hear!

In college, my first roommate turned me on to INXS and REM, and at my then-boyfriend’s frat house I picked up rock and metal music. One of my sorority sisters played Meatloaf at a dorm party once and now I never turn the dial when Meatloaf comes on. Friends at another fraternity used to play Werewolves of London, and it had other connotations I’d rather not disclose but I still can’t hear that song without thinking of them.

When I moved to New York, my new roommate turned me on to alternative music – New Order, Depeche Mode, the Cure – and one of my suite-mates interned at Elektra and so I came by quite a few cassette tapes of these and other, what SiriusXM now calls, First Wave artists. Conversely, I turned my roommate on to club music.

I used to listen to the country station driving to and from the kids’ preschool – and  a number of favorites are still on the playlist today. I listen to Eminem, mostly but not only, because of Opac. I appreciate the beat of some rap tunes, but not all. Classical music was never my thing at all. I tried to, I really did, thinking it would make me more cultured. But instead it either put me to sleep or made me laugh at someone who did (true story).

Todd’s music tastes – as evidenced by his playlist – run the gamut. This would have surprised me 30 years ago, just like imagining him as a college professor. He’s still HIM, but he’s evolved a lot since those motorhead metal days.

Especially after what he did at the grocery store last week.

Nobody Cares

I stumbled upon an article several months ago, Things About You That No One Actually Gives a Shit About, Ranked. For fun, I spent 45 minutes that I can never get back on this…

Here are my 15 things that no one on social media cares about:

My dream about Veruca face-planting off a third-story balcony and the race to find a cure for her newly-acquired bacterial virus. Horrifying. Woke up in a cold sweat.

My unsolicited dating preference: I’m married. To a man. I’ve always dated men. Which is not to say I never had an appreciation for women. I just never dated one.

Marriage and parenting advice including, but not limited to, the wife who went camping with her husband and stabbed him with a squirrel meme. My unsolicited advice: marry your best friend – the one who makes you laugh and loves all of your flaws, your cat, and also squirrels. Let your children sleep in your bed until they no longer want to. Hold them every time they ask you to. Trust me.

Things I hate that everyone else hates too: Driving on 95, tailgaters and aggressive drivers, being screamed at by a customer, grocery shopping after 4 p.m., parking at the mall in December, recovering from surgery, bratty children, and running out of wine.

(Does no one really not care about my video of the woman expending all of her energy to push a Costco shopping cart up over the embankment next to her car rather than walk it 10 feet to the cart return?)

Sports: Longtime fan of the Eagles and the Phillies (I grew up in southeastern PA, for the love of God). However, I am now a proud Ravens fan and – thanks to my son – a quiet follower of the Steelers. And, sorry, not sorry – cannot give up my allegiance to the Phillies. It just feels like betrayal.

The last time I got shitfaced drunk was over a year ago, where I “forgot” quite a few details of the evening, and gave up drinking for 4 months. Really, if you can’t remember a telephone conversation with your dad, you wake up on the floor in the bathroom, or fall on top of Barbie’s Dream Townhouse, it’s time to have a second look at your priorities. Not that I’ve personally done any of those things. However, if someone posts this on Facebook, I CARE. Because it’s funny as hell.

My opinions about things… I think everyone has the right to love who they want, I don’t agree with abortion but it’s still MY body-MY choice, the Patriots cheat, Christianity isn’t the ONLY religion, Butterscotch Krimpets don’t taste the same anymore, racism isn’t always glaring, climate change is real, Mustangs are the best muscle cars, tattoos are cool, a homemade burger made with filet tails is orgasmic, camping is not fun, Prince was a musical genius, and raccoons are adorable.

It takes me about a half hour to get to work. Although depending on the job, it has taken 50 minutes, and sometimes an hour and a half.

The weather here is hot. It’s also hot in my hometown. It’s also hot in the city where I once lived. Except when it’s cold. It’s slightly less hot in the places I’ve wanted to move to, though never quite as cold.

How does this place compare to where I’m from? Same climate, similar environment. This area is still more rural than that place is now. Cost of living, generally the same. Kids love their schools and have made lasting friendships here. My family still lives there. This is where Todd is.

Deleting people from Facebook? Yes, I’ve threatened to do it based on criteria I made crystal clear. And yes, I’ve mentioned doing it – after I’ve done it. The latter takes the drama out of it, while making a point nobody really cares about.

“People [I’ve] dated and/or didn’t date in high school and/or college.” Hmm…. dated Todd in high school (doesn’t everybody know this?). I didn’t date Prince, or Brad Pitt when he wasn’t gross. Dated a few unmentionables, a couple of assholes who know who they are, pined over one or two that got away until I realized they weren’t worth it, and a couple who were genuinely good. None need mentioning. No one cares. Not even them.

“Hypothetical decisions you would have made that are literally impossible to make.” Um, buying a brownstone in New York, quitting my job and traveling the world with personal hair and makeup artists, dating Prince in my 20s, marrying Todd when I was 18. (Ugh, shut up about TODD already.)

My haters. I don’t know who they are, and I. Don’t. Care.

I don’t threaten to delete my social media accounts. Had a handful of moments where I was fed up and posted that I was going away for a while. Now, I just ghost.
Nobody cares.

Social media is supposed to be fun. Go ahead – post pictures of your dog, your dinner, your toes in the sand, your selfies with cocktails. Post cryptic  words like “I’ve finally had enough,” or check in at a local hospital with no further explanation. Troll people whose political ideologies are polar opposites. Post memes that make your friends snort and choke on their morning coffee. Knock yourself out…. People are watching, and you’ll get your likes, and your thoughts and prayers, and your commiserating comments. But most of all – you get connection – which is really all any of us really want, right??

 

And now, in the spirit of nobody-gives-a-shit pictures (which no one cares are Copyright Tara Chronicles 2018) …. semi-current book pile, an abandoned shopping cart, textbook-perfect artificial discs, a freshly groomed poodle, and a bowlful of cherries.

 

 

 

 

 

That Stench Is My Foul Mood

The Tara Chronicles

There are days like this.  They don’t happen very often, at least not anymore.  Everyone has them.  A mood so foul the day itself screams – for the love of God, woman shut the hellup!  It was all going so well, too. 

While everyone complained loudly about the impending snow storm last week, I did a remarkable 360 and was actually happy about it, because for once it happened at the best possible time for us.  It started late after we returned home from our routine Wednesday night trip to PA, and we had nowhere to go Thursday or Friday – no appointments, no obligations – and it was my weekend, so the kids were home with me anyway.  Perfect.  I worked Saturday night for a few hours, because the restaurant is short staffed, again.  Really, how’s about I just stop reporting that?  It should be the…

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Of Bullies

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Warning: Far-stretching, rambling rant ahead, and real life bullies exposed.

Veruca got a cell phone in 5th grade, in order to attend a birthday party. If it weren’t for diabetes, she still wouldn’t have one. It was an enormous leap of faith and I made sure she knew it. Two years later she still doesn’t use any social media apps and the only people she talks to, or texts, are family members. Mostly.

In September, there was a new girl. She latched onto V and called her her best friend, dominating her time at school, poking her to get her attention when she was talking to other friends during lunch, and the most concerning part – calling and texting her all day and night (once calling at 2 a.m.). She would text her and ask her why she wasn’t answering her, please call me back, can you call me, call me NOW, where are you? what are you doing?

At first, V was annoyed and would come to me and complain. We suggested she establish boundaries and tell her friend to stop calling/texting so much. The girl ignored her wishes. We told V to block her, but she was afraid to because then this girl would be “mad at” her.

When it got to the point where the girl texted her, “I guess I should just kill myself, then,” I called the assistant principal and let him know we had a problem. But mostly because no child should say that to another and have it go unreported. She may have been saying it for attention, but what if she wasn’t? Not on my watch.

The whole thing culminated in meetings with the guidance counselor, moving lockers (their lockers were right next to each other), seat changes in the classrooms they shared, and V completely cutting her off. And then this girl was telling people it was because of V that she “got beat” by her parents.

This girl later physically “handled” another girl, which didn’t last long because – as the victim told me herself – the next time she came around “I gave her a look and she walked away.” That look, let me tell you, even coming from a 4’10 little pistol, made me uncomfortable.

Worse stuff is circulating around middle schools everywhere, like social media posts with pictures of the victims, telling them they’re fat and should just “kill” themselves. This is happening right here in our school.

I was a victim of bullying in school, and I can’t begin to imagine how much worse it could’ve been were there cell phones and social media. Three girls in 7th grade – Laurie, Farrah, and Jean – decided one day that I was their mortal enemy, or at least a worthy butt of all their jokes. Laurie, the ringleader, would make fun of me in class, make fun of my small breasts (because really, WHO has small breasts when they’re 12?), and – on one occasion, one of them followed me down the hall poking me with a pin.

When I was in 9th grade, a 10th grade girl on my bus loudly announced me as Tarabitch every time I got on, and threw a sandwich at my head once. Lori, and her friend Julie, must’ve had a lot of fun at my expense. I had exactly zero interaction with either of them before this, and roughly zero after the fact. I never quite understood what I’d done to garner her attention.

Later on in 9th grade, on a class field trip, I was walking with a group of friends when I was confronted by a pair of twins – whom I had known and never had any trouble with before. Apparently I had offended one twin in some way (probably by just existing) and the other, loudmouthed twin Denise confronted me and warned me to “watch [my] step or [I] wouldn’t have a step to watch.” Kinda funny now, but really, WTF?

Hey – I survived. But today kids are mocking and bullying others on social media – posting pictures of them and calling them “fat,” and “ugly,” and “why don’t you just kill yourself?” (This was reported at my daughter’s school, but we know it happens everywhere.) Before the internet, social media, and cell phones, your bullying ended when you left the school. At least until the next day.

Well, here’s a question: Why in hell do these children have cell phones and social media access? These are 11/12 year olds doing this. If our children have unlimited and unsupervised access, then the problem lies with US.

Some of them have had cell phones since elementary school. WHY? What reason is justified in giving your 4th grader a cell phone?? Why aren’t parents monitoring how these phones are used?

Parents need to step up and take the responsibility back. The bullies are able to reach their victims in a wider spectrum because they have access to social media. The victims are being further victimized because they have access to social media. And before I’m misunderstood – I am in no way suggesting that the victims are in any way responsible – because, in truth, they don’t need to have social media to feel the burn. Because if everyone else in school can see what’s being posted about them, even if they can’t, they will surely hear about it.

Parents also need to take responsibility for their ROLE in bullying. Because you know what? Even grownups are guilty of this BS. Case in point: A night out with friends from high school revealed ill-feelings expressed toward them by other people – even NOW – 30 YEARS after we graduated high school. What the actual f*ck??!

Are we really so petty that we are still shunning people we disliked in high school? And, for the record the woman who experienced this was not a friend in high school but I came to know her in these later years and she is one of the kindest, most caring people I have ever met. I’m proud to know her today and call her a friend. I also realized, through our conversation that night, that those persons who still “dislike” her actually “unfriended” me, presumably because of my friendship with her?

I say again, WT actual F? 40+ years old and still acting like a juvenile? I guess this is a great illustration of how some folks have not matured, and why the bullying issue has to be addressed at the parents’ level, don’t you think?

Full disclosure: I wouldn’t talk to any of those aforementioned girls/women if my life depended on it. I’m not bitter. Forgiveness is not mine to withhold. But self-preservation IS. And I hold absolutely no ill-will when I say I’d be happy to tell them where to go, if we were ever face to face. They owe me an apology, which I’m sure I’ll never get. However, I sincerely hope that their children aren’t bullies, or worse – children who have been bullied.

Yet – where does bullying begin and end? How do we as parents address it? How do we as adults set the right examples for being good humans who accept all people?

 

The Island of F*cked Up Dreams

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I’d rather be here.

Copyright by proxy, The Tara Chronicles, 2018

Now that Todd is home from an enviable 4-day business trip to Nashville in an amazing hotel, I am sleeping like a log again. It was the longest we’ve been apart in over seven years. Technically we didn’t lay eyes on each other for two days, but had three nights in an empty bed. I don’t sleep when he’s not home. And when he is home, I fall asleep like lightning. I tell him that it’s a compliment because it means I’m totally relaxed and at peace when he’s home.

Sleeping like a log is just a state of the body, for the mind conjures up some real whoppers. Since I hardly slept while he was away, I fell into a deep sleep Saturday night and into a rabbit hole of drama and intrigue that took me through locations and conditions I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

In our house, which looked nothing like our house, there was a kitten that looked identical to Oliver and Veruca was pleading with me to keep it. There was also a baby raccoon in our living room, which I found adorable and had more interest in keeping than the kitten, though I thought I should ask Andy if he wanted it first. (Andy and raccoons: true, long story.)

Anyway, the kitten wasn’t housetrained and it started pooping on the carpet. Veruca ran over to it, saying it was okay, she’d take care of it, and I watched in horror as she pinched off the poop as it was coming out and picked up the kitten. (Which is crazy, right? V is a germaphobe who washes her hands and arms to sandpaper like a surgeon, and worries about a speck of poop on Oliver that doesn’t exist.)

On another note, I keep having these recurring dreams of living in a house that is infested with stray cats. They’re confined to one room that no one lives in and they get in there through a cubby hole that connects to a long tunnel leading out of the house. I followed this tunnel in one dream and it lead to the outside, to a long gulley that in turn lead to a stone springhouse with an old wooden door. These cats scattered like mice when I’d enter the room. I wasn’t afraid of them, but wanted to get rid of them. I asked Todd in one dream if there are “exterminators but not exterminators” who handle cat infestations.

So anyway, back to Saturday night. I lived in a small city – and there was a lot of walking and moving things from place to place. And then suddenly I’m in labor. I’m in labor, but I know that I’m not progressed enough to be admitted so I’m hanging out at home in my apartment and I have no idea where Todd is. I’m breathing through the contractions, and it’s mostly dull pressure through my pelvis, and I’m just walking around stooped over and rubbing my lower back.

And then I woke up. And the discomfort I was feeling in my dream was real. OMG, I had to go to the bathroom. Seriously. The pressure in my bladder translated to labor pain in a dream. I’ve had the labor dream before, where again I couldn’t be admitted yet so I was walking around the lobby until I could. (Don’t remember if that one ended in the bathroom though.)

Next up: Work. I was at work. It was very busy, and this woman with a thick Russian accent walks in. She asks me if she can make an appointment for herself. Her car broke down and she’s stuck here, and just thought she’d find something to do. I explain to her that we are a pediatric office and she would need to go to an adult provider. She asks where one is. Downstairs I tell her, and then she asks for directions.

The next thing I know I’m walking down there while she waits in my office, giving her directions from my cell phone as I go. But her husband has taken over the call, and I’m giving directions to him. He thanks me and, as I’m walking back up to my office, he asks me if Dr. So-and-So is there. I tell him I’m sorry I don’t know which providers are there, that I’d have to google that information which he could just as easily do, and I really have to get back to the patients in my office.

When I get back, I’m sent to wait in the back exam rooms to direct patients – which really means I’m just standing around in an area with no windows and it’s terribly boring and I just want to get back to the front desk. I figure it’s because I’m the newest, and thus relegated to the least desirable tasks first.

Eventually I leave there and walk down the outside hall, and pass a grandmother who mutters something nasty under her breath. I turn back and ask her if there’s something I can help her with. She complains about how long she’s been waiting for her granddaughter to be seen and then, actually there’s FIVE children with her who are scheduled. I offer apologies and tell her I’ll go check the schedule and see what I can do to expedite matters. She apologizes to me for being so nasty and gives me a hug. I go back to the front desk and sit down at my computer, staring at the day’s schedule and not seeing any names. ANY names.

Mildly panicked, I tell Barb I can’t see any names. She is busy and can’t help me; in fact, she’s not even listening to me. I try other workstations and those screens are black and I can’t seem to log in to any of them. And then I notice that it’s getting dark in the office and no one has turned the lights on. I ask Barb where the light switches are, and she just says, “over there. Right there,” as if I have to be stupid not to know where they are. And I’m still asking her about the grandmother who’s waiting in the hall, and she finally tells me that their appointment isn’t until 5:30 and they’re an hour early.

By the time I go to tell grandmom this fact, they’re already being led back to an exam room and I’m off the hook. I go back to the front desk and there’s a handful of moms standing there, and suddenly there’s my DAD – telling a joke and everyone is completely enthralled. And I’m all like, Dad! What are you doing here?! And everyone looks at me like, ssssh!!!

And suddenly, it’s morning.

 

The First Days of 2018

As another year turns the corner, I cleanse my inbox of useless emails and spam, browse the pages of social media for inspiration. I get emails from a website that offers design inspiration for your home and garden and life. One included a reminder about, and how and where, to start decluttering your space.

Purging is one of my favorite things to do. So Tuesday, after everyone left the house and me in it all alone…. I did what any jacked-up-on-coffee housewife would do. I started cleaning out the kitchen drawers, cabinets, the kitchen antique cabinet I use for cookbooks, office and diabetes supplies, and the china cabinet in the dining room. I threw stuff away. I started filling a box to be donated next week to the Purple Heart.

Extra, unused glassware packed up for the bar we haven’t built yet. Old coffee mugs going to Todd’s office. Several hundred corks I’m deciding what to craft with. Trivets for everyone! Or maybe a bustier? Just kidding. I’m not that energetic.

The Christmas tree is still up, though yesterday morning I started pulling ornaments off with the branches attached. This was not intentional, by the way. In this case, the tree completely died before we took it down. And when I say completely, I mean the only stage left from here is petrification.

Todd’s brilliant idea was to get the garden loppers and cut off the branches and carry them out separately. That was supposed to be my job yesterday. Then he would carry out the trunk. I thought I’d get creative and make it look like the Charlie Brown tree. However, I have a very bad elbow and the loppers weren’t working very well and I decided I wasn’t doing it. V picked them up and went all Edward Scissorhands on that tree, making an impressive transformation, and I only stopped her long enough to remind her not to cut off her own fingers or the curtains on the windows.

Together we cleaned up that entire space and I carried what was left of the tree out the sliders and dropped it off the end of the deck. It’s Todd’s problem now. And when he got home he expressed surprise that I’d done it, and I made sure to point out how difficult it was to lop off the branches with my bad elbow, you know… and he picked up the loppers on the counter and said, “you used these?” Because, apparently, those are bush loppers, not branch cutters like the ones in the garage and really – how was I supposed to know the difference, I screamed. But I only screamed in my head, because he’d only just gotten home and I didn’t want him to feel unwelcome.

En medias res, I am still cleaning up the aftermath of the holidays and at least one kid who doesn’t know how to put. shit. away. AND, doing eight loads of laundry, including Todd’s which I swear we just did three days ago but he insists was over a week ago. With the way things are going for the two of us, in another 10 years they’ll be putting us in a home because one of us left the stove on.

And that’s only if we survive ourselves until then, since Todd damn near aspirated a Jolly Rancher last night and I was afraid I was going to have to Google the Heimlich maneuver while he turned blue. Thankfully that didn’t happen. Meanwhile, my body parts just keep turning on me in ways that are not funny and I wonder sometimes if the only way left is down.

Anyway, I have books to read and books to give away, drawers and more drawers in the bedroom to empty and sort, and that walk-in closet with the fallen rod that is overflowing with ironing and other stuff that the cat has assumed is his new bedroom. I have renovations I am capable of doing that are awaiting another day and another pot of crack coffee.

It’s day 3 and I have already finished 6 loads of wash, ran the treadmill, and set up the Roomba – which, by the way, was hilarious. The cat left his coveted spot under the tree to check out this thing running through the dining room and seemed nonplussed by it until it doubled back on him while he was eating from his bowl. Sabra of course jumped out of her bed when it neared the living room and took off for parts unknown, until the kids came home and the thing had recharged itself to vacuum my bedroom.

Veruca came running to tell me it had sucked up the strings of my jacket. The chaos that ensued was nothing short of a circus. Todd called just as I was running to rescue my jacket and, as I stooped over to retrieve it, Sabra body-slammed me from behind and I almost face-planted onto the Roomba. Both kids were hysterical but I was NOT. Todd asked if he could call me back. Because he can’t handle a conversation that includes two hysterical kids and a hyper dog and a screaming wife.

The current temperature is 22 degrees and snowing and 50 mph wind gusts, up from 4 on Monday, and the kids have a snow day. The half-assed lights on the bushes out front are still up, and so are our Christmas pumpkins. We have Christmas pumpkins ya’ll, because we are on the cutting edge of new holiday trends. I was going to put lights on them, but… remember – half-assed. Anyway, it’s too cold to take any of that away.

The only thing I accomplished outside in the 14 degrees on Tuesday was going out back on the deck to toss the cranberries I’d used for decorating into the old horse field for the birds, and getting gas in the rented Expedition, because My Car Is Coming Home – which turned out to be a great big LIE and we still don’t have the car back because some asshole put the whatever-was-being-replaced in backwards and it was screwing up the timing and it took another whole day to figure this out. These are the people who are supposed to know how to fix my car the right way.

Anyway, I was going to put away the holiday wreath made with Christmas balls that I repaired before party 2.0, but since Todd took it out with his backpack as he was entering the house I no longer have to. He was so sweet to collect all the balls that had scattered like a broken string of pearls.

There are more goals for this week and the coming one… but… I’ll save that for another post. Todd will be home soon and I need to look like I’ve been busy all day.

There Was This Boy

So there was this boy, I saw him walk by me once and he took my breath away. I couldn’t avoid his eyes or the chemistry between us. He asked me out once and I said yes, and we went out again, and again, until he owned me. I never knew love like that, and it was precious and intense, and I never forgot it or how it made me feel. Life took us away from each other, but the years went by and I never forgot December 11. Never. My soul remembered the sound of his voice, and the smell of his skin. I thought about him, wondering where he was, what he was doing, and got lost in fantasies about reuniting with him. And then just seven short years ago, I found the answers to the unending questions I had, and the true meaning of “soul mate.”

There was this boy – he imprinted on me, so that I would never forget him. So that I would spend years blindly reaching for that bond with others. I never forgot December 11. That was the day God gave him to the world, to not only one day love me, but to do great things and to selflessly give of himself to others.

There was this boy – now a man – who never forgot me. I am so blessed to know and be loved by him again – in this, our second chance to get it right. There was this boy – who completes me in a way I could only have dreamed. He’s not perfect, but he is perfect for me… and he is mine.

There was this boy- who stole my 15-year-old heart, and reclaimed it more than 25 years later. He took my breath away. I never forgot his eyes, the sound of his voice, or the smell of his skin. He never knew that I thought of him every December 11. When he took my hand in his again – it was like coming home.

There was this boy – I loved him then, and I love him more than ever today.

Happy Birthday to my first, my last, my one true love!! I love you!!

AND, in case you missed it… there was this Birthday Poem from a few years back.

 

 

Type 1: Know the Signs!!

It’s National Diabetes Awareness Month…

The Tara Chronicles

Lately it seems Type 1 diabetes has been in the news, the worst kind of news:  the reports are of new cases only diagnosed after a child has died.  It seems implausible to me that this could happen, and I really don’t like to focus on the negative of anything, but the fact is… it has happened.  How could it get that far?  And more frightening of all… how could a physician, any physician, miss the signs?  Or, at the very least, consider all of the possibilities?  That just one finger stick and a tiny spot of blood could rule out this chronic and debilitating disease?

And this is why we “D-parents,” as we often call ourselves, are so eager to educate and get the word out.  We don’t want to hear any more tragic stories of diagnoses that, had they come soon enough, would not have ended this way. …

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