February 26, 2010

If Only He Had a Pair of Stolen Nikes....

How I wish I were quick enough (and technologically savvy enough) to grab my new phone that takes really good pictures and capture Jack in the car yesterday. But, aside from the fact that I was driving, I didn't think quickly and the moment was gone.

First, let me share with you one of his most annoying habits: changing the radio station no more than a minute and a half through any given song. If I didn't already have ADD, this would give it to me.

So as we're driving home from wherever, he's switching back and forth between five or six stations that - mind you - are all playing the same songs, and the volume is up way louder than I would have it, if I were to be in control of Car Music. Which I'm not, because I try to be a nice mom, and I try to choose my battles carefully these days. Car Music is not on my list of Really Important Things I Need to Control. And, when it's a song I like, I crank the volume, so really, who am I to complain?

He's "singing" along - in quotes, because Jack only knows about five words to any song. I believe this is why he changes the station...his lyric bank is a little low and he doesn't want anyone to catch on.

Anyway, out of the corner of my eye, I see his head bopping like he's a Hilltop gangsta, and I turn to see if he's doing that fake driving thing, you know, with one hand on the imaginary wheel...? Like this:

Evidently, that's what you do when you listen to music these days. I think it's the new air guitar.

But he's not gangsta driving, because his left hand is covering his ear and I think there's something wrong because his head is bowed low, almost into his lap, and his right hand is flailing around near the window like he's having a seizure. I turn fully, to make sure he's ok, and that's when I wish I had the camera phone ready.

He's fine, I see. He appears to be completely engaged in mixing some kind of sick tunes on his imaginary turntable set-up, with his left hand covering the pretend earphone (better sound definition) and his right hand squeaking the invisible record back and forth to make that eee-eee-eee sound of a perfectly good vinyl LP being ruined.

Sort of like this:

Only, not.

Joannie Rochette

I would have stayed up all night just to see this.
And I thought I was done crying.

February 25, 2010

A Moment of Hope

It's been four days since this happened, but I haven't felt much like sharing it with anyone until now. I did tell MC, since I had my counseling appointment on Tuesday and the minute I got there, I couldn't really talk about anything else. Then, of course, as soon as I opened my mouth, I just sat there and cried the entire rest of the hour. I suppose MC's office is a really good place to be if I'm going to melt down like that.

I ran into Matt on Monday, outside the highschool. If you're new here, you can read this and this to catch up. I haven't seen him since Christmas, when he stopped by unexpectedly to deliver gifts to Jack (not to anyone else in the family, mind you). He just appeared on the doorstep (with his dad no less!) as if it were perfectly normal for them to pop in on Christmas Eve. They didn't stay, but the brief foyer gift exchange was awkward enough for the whole month.

On Monday afternoon, I was killing an hour between Jack's basketball and baseball practices, and thought I'd grab a snack at the market. As I passed the highschool, I saw Matt walking along the sidewalk, all by himself, an hour after school let out.

Seeing him, I was struck with a profound sadness...much different from the anger and resentment I have felt in the past year. I was sad that he was all alone - not even any Emo/Goth/Criminal friends walking with him, not a girl, not even a teacher. Or a cop. Just Matt, all by himself.

I wondered where he was going, and why he was there so late. I wondered how he was getting home these days, since he wrecked his car in November and his Dad lives a half hour from here. I wondered what I would say to him if he would let me, if .... and then I started bawling and had to pull into the parking lot of the grocery store to get it together.

MC and MC2, my therapy partners, and I are working on feeling things. I'm supposed to let myself cry when it hits. Up until now, I've been pretty good at fighting it, because I'm sort of afraid that if I start, I won't be able to stop. I'm afraid it will become a full on breakdown, and I just can't afford that right now. I've got another kid to take care of.

But I went ahead and felt for a few minutes. I felt sad and helpless and very much like a failure, although I'm not supposed to blame myself. It's not always that easy. I sat in my car and cried for a bit, then I took a deep breath and said a prayer for him, and me, and all the moms and kids out there who have lost each other.

When I pulled back onto the road, I was looking for him. I hadn't really seen his face the first time, and I just wanted to see his face. Suddenly, he was there, sitting at a table outside the Starbucks, and before I knew what I was doing, I pulled my car into the parking lot and walked up to him. Before I could talk myself out of it, and before I could devise a plan as to what the f*%# I thought I was going to say to him.

"Hey," was a decent start.

He took his earbuds out and said "Hey," back, which I thought was a groundbreaking next step.

And our conversation went like that, about one word at a time, for a minute or two. Then I asked him if I could sit, and he let me.

I asked him if I could buy him a cup of coffee, but he said no.

Oh, I forgot. You don't need me.

He was waiting for his train - the one that doesn't come until 4:40, two and a half hours after school lets out. The one he takes every day since he lost his car.

He asked me what I was doing, and I told him. Then, without thinking, I asked if he wanted to go watch the end of Jack's practice, and he agreed.

He agreed to be with me.

He still didn't want a drink, or a snack. I wanted so much to give him something, but I settled for the company, gladly.

We drove in an awkward semi-silence over to the middle school; I asked him weird, distant questions about the classes he was taking. It was better than nothing. At the gym, we stood ten feet apart and watched practice until it was over, and the excitement of his little brother discovering him there eased us up.

Jack introduced him to all his friends, who said things like, wow, you really are tall! and I laughed inside. I was too afraid to laugh out loud, to be a part of that relationship, the only one he hasn't severed, afraid I might ruin it for Jack. Still, I giggled as the 6th graders craned their little necks to see what 6'3" looks like.

When it was time to go, the little guys piled into the back seat and Matt sat up front with me, chatting with them. We drove him to the train station, where Jack got out and hugged him. They exchanged I love yous, then Matt leaned his head back into the car and said,

"Thanks for the ride."

"I love you," I said.

"I love you too."

Oh yes, he did.

And then he was gone. It wasn't all better. It wasn't anywhere near normal. But it was nice.

And I was back in my real life, driving 12 year olds all over tarnation, pretending that I didn't ache every day for the first born son I somehow lost and didn't know how to find.

Maybe it's just like that. One tiny little baby step at a time. One awkward meeting that feels like strangers talking at a bus stop.

One moment.

Four words.

February 23, 2010

Post It Note Tuesday

It's Okay. Today.

I'm going to try something new. I stole this idea from Whispering Writer, over at Airing My Dirty Laundry, who stole it from Glamour Magazine. They have a section called "Hey, It’s Okay" - a list of a bunch of things to be okay about. I really like this, because I'm working so hard on trying to be OKAY with everything in my life/head/heart and to stop judging myself for everything I say/do/feel.

I don't want to be a total copycat, though, so I won't call it "It's Okay Tuesday", like WW did. It'll just be "It's Okay". Today.

It's Okay to cry at everything Olympics-related, even the commercials.

It's Okay to soothe the tears with chocolate. Like Cadbury eggs, maybe. Just sayin.

It's Okay to have the First Episode of Season 2 of Glee marked on the calendar.

It's Okay to not want to be a teacher anymore, even though it's the only job for which I seem to be qualified.

It's Okay to not Tweet or Twitter or whatever it is, and to not even know what it is, and not even care.

It's Okay not to watch the Kardashians or The Jersey Shore or The Bachelor, even though the rest of the civilized world is doing it.

It's Okay to boss other people's kids around, if they're doing something inappropriate or dangerous, and you're the only adult around. It takes a village.

February 21, 2010

One More Year of Semi-Sanity

The Jackster turned 12 on Friday. When did that happen???

I think he had a pretty stellar birthday weekend, all in all:

  • A three-day diet of sugar, chips, soda and sugar

  • A hockey game with a signed birthday card from the team and his name on the scoreboard

  • A sleepover with his buddies.

8:00 on Sunday night and he's already sound asleep. And I'm right behind him.

Happy Birthday, JMan. I LOVE YOU!!

February 9, 2010

Little Letter Tuesday

Too much for a Post-It Note, so today is a Little Letter for Tuesday.

Dear Kirstie Alley.

Fat Actress. Jenny Craig. Oprah. New show: Kirstie's Big Life. Why is it that, ever since you left Cheers, your career - your entire identity - revolves around the size of your butt? And we wonder why women are obsessed with their bodies. How about you focus on talent? Or intelligence? Or even your kick-ass hair, for God's sake. Please, get off the scale and move on.

Your friend,

To Recomment or Not to Recomment?

Thanks for all the supportive and funny comments this morning. I was giggling to myself as I scanned those poems, thinking, 'Is this endearing, or totally embarrassing?' I was perfectly at peace with Dorky, with a capital D, then a bunch of you thought it was endearing. Awww! Ya mean I'm not as big a geek as I thought? I love you guys!

Now that I'm in the 100 Club (I'll be getting my lapel pin in the mail, right?) I have a couple of questions. The more I read & write, the more I learn about this medium, and there are still a lot of little things I'm not hip on. Like giveaways. If anyone wants to give me the lowdown on how that works, that'd be great.

But let's talk COMMENTS.

I love the whole concept of commenting. I think it's fabulous validation for putting yourself out there, and a big motivator to do it again tomorrow. And I love that sometimes, it's a topic-specific, insightful, sympathetic response, but sometimes, it's just a little high-five for being brave enough to read your paper out loud to the class. I don't mind the "Great post!" comment one bit. It makes my day to know that someone out there stopped in and said hi.

What I'm a little unsure of, though, is the commenting back to the commenters who've commented to you. The ReCommenting. Some people do it, some don't. Is there an etiquette to this? I rarely recomment here because I think it's a touchy area.

You kinda have to recomment to everyone on the post, don't you? Like when it's Valentine's Day in elementary school - if you don't bring a card for everyone, you can't bring cards at all. You can't just recomment to the comments that warrant recommenting. Someone is bound to end up in the coat closet tucked in between the smelly lunchboxes, crying her eyes out. And she'll grow up to find herself running from therapy sessions to AA meetings and back, and ..... I'm just guessing that's how it would turn out.

So, are you a ReCommenter?

Do you have a policy? Or am I neurotic and no one else gives a shit?

And what do you say to "Great Post!" ?

At some point, doesn't it become akin to writing a thank you note for a thank you note? I mean, when does it end? How do you know if you're done?

To everyone who has been kind enough to visit, read, and comment - or not - for now, I'll just throw out a big blanket thanks.

Yeah, I know, some of you deserve more than that.

It's ok, I won't go to recess without you.

February 8, 2010

My Humble Beginnings

First of all... Thank You to Joanne, for bringing me to the page in the first place, and for getting me here every day since, especially when I couldn't do it alone...
...and to all the readers who honor me with your time and your comments, who write remarkable blogs of your own that inspire me in so many ways.


I've been writing since I was a little kid. Even though it was my brother who wrote that story - in second grade - about the detective with the Porsche, the one that my parents had "bound" like it was a real book, I kept doing it. I read like crazy and then tried to emulate my favorite authors.

There was this whole Erma Bombeck period, a Shakespeare stint, even a stab at *ahem* trashy romance. But my big thing was poetry. I fancied myself a bit of an artist that way, all the way up through college.

A couple of months ago, I found a Poetry Anthology (I made that up) I had written in the 5th grade. It was bound with thread and leftover wallpaper from my pre-teen bedroom. It was also written in - get this - calligraphy. I think the official title was "Poems by Tammy", although over the years, the front cover has seen some wear and the piece of construction paper I vaguely remember being glued to the front has been lost.

Here is what's left of my first bound edition.

Please be nice if you choose to comment on the fact that, at the age of 10, I was a little unclear on the order of seasons.

February 5, 2010

I think it's time I really did get a job. I mean a paying job, outside my house. Not that what I do around here as a SHM isn't real; believe me, it is. But some days I get really bored, which feeds into the whole reason I'm drinking the Wacky Water lately.

A few weeks ago, Kim Derting asked if I would help plan the day for her Book Release on March 16th. Of course I said I would, because planning events is one of my very favorite activities ever. But this isn't my profession, or my own small business. This is Kim knowing that I'm all bossy and Julie McCoy and shit, so things will get done. So now I'm on the Official Planning Committee, but since no one nominated me for Chairman right off the bat, I'll probably have to make up a little campaign flier for our next meeting.

You think I'm kidding, don't you? You think I couldn't possibly be that Rachel Berry-ish. But I am, sort of. I'm all over this new project, partly because it's fun to do, partly because it's way cool to hang out with a published author, and partly because it's totally surreal to be - even remotely - put in charge of handling her fans at Borders next month.

But I'd do this for any friend. I think what I'm enjoying more than anything is that I have a purpose. Something to do, something to get done, on a time schedule. In my current world, would anyone care if I didn't get the laundry done today? Jack would've taken his PE shirt, dirty and wrinkled and stinking to high heaven, right out of the laundry basket and worn it without a second thought today. As it was, it did get washed, but he might not even have noticed that it was clean had he not had to pull it out of the dryer himself as he ran out the door.

Three weeks - maybe a month - ago, I took all the pictures off my picture wall, with all good intentions of remodeling my photo gallery. That's as far as I got. Everything needed to complete this is still sitting under the end table, the wall is still bare, and guess what? No one cares! Not one word about when this project is going to get done. No supervisor leaving me snippy emails about my lack of follow-through, no coworkers complaining that they're tired of tripping over the crap in my in-basket.

I know that many of you envy that kind of day-to-day To Do List, and I am, without a doubt, extremely fortunate to be able to work at my own pace. But I've forgotten how motivating it is when someone else is depending on me to meet a deadline. Must get done = Will get done. I like that.

On another note, I'm excited to report that, in addition to working on a task I enjoy, I may be able to attribute part of this drive to the new Remedy. One week of the magic potion, and I am feeling fabulous. No, really, I mean this. I can tell the difference. Not a drastic difference, like I'm a whole new person, but a noticeable difference in specific things: I am sleeping better, I am eating better (by choice) and I am drinking & eating less (without struggling). I am calmer and less weepy, and I'm about 75% less tired during the day than I was a week ago. The best way to describe it is that I feel softer.

One more week with this one, then I go in for a remedy tune-up and some diet/nutrition counseling. It's the best I've felt in a really, really long time, without taking Ambien, or being drunk, or both. I'm definitely a believer now.

Thanks for the ideas on what to do with my next (100th!) post. I love that there are so many people out there who agree that it's a big deal! Still not sure what I'm going to do and I'm a little stressed about it....

...see? Rachel Berry really is my role model.

February 3, 2010

Oh, wow! I'm about to reach my 100th post! (This is #98.) As I read other blogs I notice that some writers seriously celebrate this moment, others don't. Some people do big giveaways, which I would love to do, but I don't know how that all works. (Oh sure, I could ask around, but who wants to look like they're not blog savvy? I've been writing for nearly 100 posts now, for Pete's sake!) Some people actually celebrate with family and such. No one in my family reads my blog, so if I baked myself a cake, they'd all just think I was weird. And if I opened a good bottle of wine, well, no one would notice.

Soooo....not sure what I'll do to mark the day. I feel like I should do something. I'll have to give it some thought. What did/will you do?

February 2, 2010

Doctor NOT

I could have gone to Med School, but I didn't. It had nothing to do with my 2.7 highschool GPA or my inability to pass a science class of any kind beyond the 9th grade; it wasn't because I can't pay attention to anything for more than an hour, let alone eight years. Mostly, I didn't go to Med School because I'm a wimp.

I don't faint at the sight of blood (like my Dad, I understand) but I get really queasy if I have to witness an injury that requires anything more than a blob of Neosporin and a couple of bandaids. I do ok with my own kids when it's not too bad, but once I've turned over my First Responder duties to the next guy - husband, friend, medic, doctor - I'm a complete wreck. If they're seriously hurt, I tend to freak out way more than necessary and scare the crap out of them. Like when Jack flipped off his skateboard, hit the pavement face first, and broke his two front teeth off. He was fine until I actually looked at the teeth (he wouldn't take his hand off his mouth), at which point I screamed "OH MY GOD!" and nearly fainted. He wasn't crying until then.

These are indicators that I've chosen the right career path, I think. Or at least that I didn't definitely, absolutely, choose the wrong one. And today, I got a little unexpected confirmation:

Did anyone catch the segment on The Today Show this morning, about the live birth? (Let's not even ask why we are watching a live C-Section on my morning show. It's pretty much the only news I watch, and I really hope to gain some worldly info while I'm tuned in.) There they were, filming the birth of this baby, not on TLC, not on Lifetime, not even on the flippin' Surgery Channel, but right there, on Channel 5. And Dr. Nancy, the new Dr. Oz, is in the delivery room with the parents, and her commentary goes something like this:
" Ok, "Susie" is ready to go, her lower womb has been opened up and oh! there was a big squirt of amniotic fluid there! "

O.M.G! Stop it! Not only are they talking about squirting amniotic fluid, they're showing it to me! Oh please, please, please let it be time for Al and the weather, or even Willard with the birthday thing. Don't make me leave Matt for George.

I think childbirth is amazing and beautiful, don't get me wrong. And I get that we were just witnessing the Miracle of Life. But maybe a little heads-up would have been nice. Like: Warning, Non-Doctor Types! Blood and amniotic fluid up ahead! This would be a good time to go blowdry your hair!

A powdery little bambino, all wrapped up in a cute little blanket, would have been plenty a miracle for me.

PS. Wanna see Jack's teeth? Heads up....

Post It Note Tuesday

He Needs Me - Really

I love the stuff kids say sometimes. I always think I'm going to remember their words, or I think I should write them down, but I rarely do either. I'm going to make a better effort, though...so here's my attempt for today.

I'm sitting with friends the other day, talking about how Jack likes me being a Stay Home Mom. I said, "He's just like his Dad. He doesn't necessarily need to be with me, or talk to me, or interact with me in any way, he just needs to know I'm here. Then he's fine." I smile lovingly at him, as he half-eavesdrops on our conversation.

"I know," I continue, "that when he comes home from school, he's going to be out the door again within minutes. But he comes in just to make sure I'm here first." My heart is swelling with this knowledge I have, of how much my kid needs me....

"Actually," Jack pipes up, "I just come in to put my backpack away."

Right. I knew that.