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Archive for October, 2009

|| October 27, 2009 || 12:16 am || Comments (5) ||

fiercely fragile

:: sam says ‘chill errbody, chill. it’s all good.’ ::

It’s been a weird-ish sorta week. Many emotional roller coasters. Some (but not all) of which include:

Firstly, my Sam had one-hundred and ten pounds worth of weights fall on his fingers, mildly injuring their tips. He said, “I was all, ‘Um, Guys? And then I just sort of yanked them out of there before they got to hurting too bad.” I said, “Please NEVER DO THAT AGAIN, foolson, because your hand might’ve decided on impulse to leave your fingers where they sat!” There is a slight fracture to his birdfinger, but that hasn’t slowed down the picking any. Yesterday (AND the day before) found him in my room, perched on a chair, asking if we could do some playing. Busy with ten kinds of things, I struck a compromise wherein he played and I sang (sung. singeded?). It is not at all strange to wrap a basket for a baby shower (aside: Methodist baby shower invite? DO NOT RSVP WITH ‘YES’. You are welcome.) while busting out some Leonard Cohen with your kid.

So, you know, thank God. I don’t know why Sam is lifting, anyway. Doesn’t the boy know that rock stars are supposed to be skinny and rangey and concerned with only the chasing of the muse and also the skirt? Three of his fingertips look a frightful mess, but they give him street cred, I reckon. It’s better than that damn shiner he took last month while ’sparring’. You know, three days before his senior portraits were to be shot.

One of Scout’s good friends lost a parent to suicide last week. A week ago today, as a matter of fact. Some of you may recall that I tweeted about writing a particular date over and over mistakenly on paperwork, because it did not feel like an accident that it happened to be occurring again and again and again. Come the nineteenth I was wondering like crazy what the twentieth would bring and I got the news early on the twenty-first: Em’s mother shot herself while in her office the night previous.

I’ve yet to see the true fallout from this with my daughter, but I am pretty convinced that it is coming; Scouty has this immense fear of death and an even bigger one that I will up and disappear. Each and every time I’m set to go on a trip that does not include her, anything consisting of two days or more, she is right up under my hind end for the seventy-two hours prior. I may write more about this one day. I may not. These things are so finely-drawn and difficult to manage.

Mathias was laid up for a solid four days with some sort of fevery yuck that made him appear more gaunt and pale than usual. On his first day back to school there was a field trip to the Space and Rocket Center wherein he netted some astronaut ice cream. One of that child’s most favorite pleasures in life (THANK YOU EVIL NANA) is ice cream. For him to have found it in yet another incarnation was something akin to the holy grail and he has taken great delight in the fact that he can open the pouch, take one bite of this miracle of modern food science and then wrap everything carefully back up until the next night, when another single bite is procured. God only knows how long he will be able to stretch this ritual out before he is sans space-age technofood.

Oh, it is so great being the mother to a weird kid. The ‘one bite per night’ thing is most likely happening because Mathias knows that he was brought forth from the loins of a frugal man and has no chance in hell of talking said man into buying him something as exotic as astronaut ice cream on the regular. Should such a request ever arise, as a matter of fact, my eternally hot and notoriously thrifty spouse would say, “Boy, if you want more of that astronaut ice cream, you damn well better look into becoming an astronaut.”

I guess lately I’ve been mentioning my children more than usual in this here space because the world just feels so unsure these days and it’s one more way to pull them to me, to keep count of who and where we all are. It’s going so fast….there were days when –in the throes of somewhat demanding parental tedium– I could never have imagined that we’d be anything but mommy and children.

Now here we are, a woman and three lovely people she’s mostly raised, and it’s a thing filled with equal parts exhilaration and utter dismay. I miss their tiny little hands patting my face and their never-ending stream of toddler giggles, but my God it’s nice to sleep late on Saturday mornings when my too-busy head allows such things.

When an object comes to rest there is all this potential for energy. And stuff.

I am resisting with everything I’ve got the impulse to write a sweeping intro that is nothing but me tittering away at my own fears.

I have had the following fears keep stories of past victimizations clamped tightly to me,

+That I would be viewed attention-seeking.

+That I would be seen as weak.

+That I would be scorned as a person pathetic and pitiful.

as well as stand in the way of a massive goal for many years now. I wish to be whole, to speak my experiences from a calm and mature place instead of in nerved-up, staccato bursts.

I long ago made peace with the things that happened to my body — nearly as soon as those things had occurred, in fact. What has never found settling is the knots that were yanked into my psyche. For a long time I claimed they were climbing devices aimed at helping me overcome. While not entirely true, that was not entirely untrue, either. (I often play this game with myself: If something has fallen into a difficult place, I resist the impulse to give up on it and go away, lazy. I pretend instead, as I stretch and contort, that my very life depends on the retrieval of the bath cloth that has fallen behind the dryer, the paperclip that has flung itself behind my behemoth of a desk. If I don’t stretch and try like I mean it, I will die. My family will come to a horrible, flaming end! The world will be knocked from its orbit and the trees will asphyxiate! ‘Oh God, not the trees!‘ My fingertips become these exquisite, reaching things that make wrongs right. This is what I want to start doing with emotional detritus, but without becoming one of those sanctimonious overactualized assholes, dig?)

I can face facts: My life’s stories, taken collectively, give off the kind of vibe wherein I could well be viewed as a walking movie of the week. After thinking about it for a little bit, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m okay with that, like in the very sense. I come from a place where ‘…it is what it is…’ has been tattooed on the very bones of its people, enabling them to withstand more than even their DNA knows.

Lately I want, to a degree that pretty much defies my ability to express it, to know that I am going to be okay and not going to crack clean in two, leaving a mess for somebody else to clean up.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Now, on to other things that have been on my mind today.

I talk to my dog like a person. The music kicks in too loud, startling him. ‘Sorry about that, man’ I say to him.

Look at your fingertips. The tips of my middle fingers and thumbs on both hands are currently numb. This is kind of strange. I attribute it to current slight anxiety, which I want to be shed of any minute now. Oh wait, there goes the pinky of my right hand, as well.

I want to write smart, pointed fiction featuring a savvy woman. She would say things like, ‘My apologies if the sauce doesn’t seem right. I’m on my period and my taste buds are a little off. That, or I will commence shortly to having a stroke.’* You would probably either love her or hate her.

Today I got an offer in the mail for a deeply discounted subscription to Opera News. ‘SAVE SIXTY-NINE PERCENT!’ it hollers. Don’t hate, I can send you a buddy card and you too can be in the operatic know.

Tonight I was making Mathias show me the contents of the duffel he’d packed for a two-day away(!); you know, just generally making sure of the basics like whether he packed the pajamas that fit rather than the sausage ones and whether or not there were backup socks and underwear. We’ve never needed backup socks and underwear, but I always make the kids pack them because sure as shit if we didn’t our car would get embedded in a snow bank (never mind that it no longer snows in the South, fuckity-fuck) and there we’d be, either recycling dirty underwear or going commando, and I’d be willing to wager big that if you were to go commando in a live-or-die circumstance it would greatly increase your odds of expiry. The universe would like nothing more than for your surviving relatives to have to suffer through the headline “FAMILY OF FIVE FOUND DEAD IN SNOWBANK, UNDERWEARLESS” being splashed across various local and national news media. Sam had the nerve to ask why I always check Mathias’ bag before he hits the door; it was then that he remembered aloud –and far too amused, if you ask me– being told to pack a bag and filling it full of toys and maybe a couple of shirts. I suffered the consequences of this one time while we were in middle Tennessee: “Samuel, SAMUEL! COME HERE! Where? Are? Your pannnnnnts?” The boy had packed no pants and maybe two pair of underwear. It’s likely that we only missed the snow bank because Maxim had stayed behind due to his work schedule. Close call, you people.

I bought new bras today. New bras, in case you had no idea of such, are life-affirming.

Often when I write I wear a ballcap. This snugs in some of the ideas that tend to wander off the top of my head. Keeps them around long enough for me to draw a bead on them. This practice also kills some of my peripheral vision, which is notoriously stuffed full of things that I maybe have no business seeing anyway.

My spouse, just looking at the insurance bill, said to me, “Okay, the premium on you just went back down; don’t do anything to fuck it up.” Oh, he did NOT. “YOU SHUT UP, YOU ARE GOING TO JINX ME, YOU HATEFUL MAN.” In a rare return of indignance, Maxim replied, “YOUR LITTLE SHENANIGANS WITH YOUR BUDDY’S CAR WORKED OUT TO BE NOT VERY CHEAP.” I then may or may not have made reference to what was cheap around here, but there is already too much bile in this eensy paragraph.

I have FIVE OMG FIVE WHOLE DAYS OFF IN A ROW. That is some crazy shit right there. I’m one deep and feel like I’ve gotten a thing or two accomplished thus far. I know, right?

Scout is currently baking cookies for a party they are having at school tomorrow. When I asked her, What kind of party? she replied, “It’s Mole Day.” Mole Day? I puzzled aloud. Great, as if life on this mountain wasn’t strange enough sometimes. “Yeah, you know, Avogadro’s Number?” God bless her, Mommy’s Mathtard Gene skipped right over logical little noggin. This excites me, because chemistry math is pretty sexy, innit? Go-ohhhh, Chem Nerds!

Sometime real soon –like tonight or tomorrow– my contribution to Violence Unsilenced goes up. I am extremely, with emphasis on the ‘extreme’, nervous about it. I made mention about maybe doing it around the first of the year and then fell silent on the matter. It took me six months to push the words into their proper alignment so as to convey some form of the horror while removing myself slightly from it. It was still an emotionally gobsmacking experience and I hope, even as I give Maggie the okay to hit ‘publish’ on it, that I’m doing the right thing here. I marvel at the notion that my turn managed to find itself on the tail-end of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Have I remembered to tell you that I don’t really believe there is such a thing as an accident?

*I have every right to stroke humor, having had an extremely gentle (HA, that’s like saying, ‘I’m okay! The piranhas only gnawed one toe off! I coulda lost a laig, y’all!’) one. While pregnant. A la the ‘Go Big Or Go Home’ style we all know I’m so very fond of.

|| October 20, 2009 || 8:51 pm || Comments (3) ||

Flying, before and after

Whoever thought –when

They were five and executing

Their best wingspan to zoom around and beside

Green, branchy cumulus

While kicking up a dusty

Ochre jet stream–

That a data-laden slip of pulp

Enabling them access

To what is, in effect,

A death-defying sort of contraption

Possessed of a touch

More grace than even its makers

(who, God bless them,

had sense enough not to name the thing

‘The People Torpedo’

….talk about foresight!)

Would end up costing them so much?

Sometimes the betweens

Of here and there

Are too fuzzy or painful or

Far, far too detailed to recount.

I’ll tell you something

That suddenly occurs to me:

In the everywhere between

Where I emerged furious-squalling

And where I stand easy now,

All manner of wings have

Borne me, expectant, up….

But this girl has

Somewhat inexplicably come to live

In a whole mess of red places.

|| October 15, 2009 || 12:37 am || Comments (6) ||

why my husband hates cyberia and my role in it

JETT: Twitter people say I am funny when I am sleep-deprived and thus, we should have another baby.

MAXIM: Twitter doesn’t live with you. Or your insomnia. Or your babies.

JETT: Twitter is a social media web application thingy. Twitter people, also called Tweeps, are users of the service.

MAXIM: Oh, sorry. Twitter people have never had your feet mounted squarely in the small of their backs and then been catapulted fourteen feet across the room while horizontal and half-asleep.

JETT: (hopping up and down a little, pointing at MAXIM) SO YOU ADMIT IT! YOU WERRRRE AWAKE THAT NIGHT, YOU FAKER!

MAXIM: (shrugging shoulders mildly) I was tired, Jett. I was a first-time dad.


MAXIM: It grosses you out when I say I would have nursed him if I could have, so I won’t remind you that I certainly would’ve done so.

JETT: (suddenly still, mouth pursed in That Way) Lip service, hippie, FEELY-TOUCHY-GRODY LIP! SERVE! ISS! The mastitis would have crippled your ass, you pussy.

Then he started cheeping like a baby chick, only he was all, “tweep, tweep, tweep!” and it was just more than a little creepy so I left him alone. That husband of mine sure knows how to handle me, alright: He just reflects the crazy and irrational back at me with a patient little knowing smirk.

So, in short, “No baby, internet. You and your looney fucking ideas.”

|| October 13, 2009 || 1:19 am || Comments (4) ||

(so many disparate pieces)

There are about forty-eight paragraphs that I’ve been pounding away at all night, but I finally closed that window –with piece, of course, unfinished– so that I could tell you the much more pressing news of how Mathias spent the entirety of one sick morning carefully cobbling together Legos into the shape of Mario and Luigi from Mario Brothers. Then he did an accompanying set (pretty much to scale!) of game elements. For instance, there were all the relevant mushrooms: A Power-Up, a 1-Up, Poison, Super Mega, Life, etc.

Just when I thought he was putting the finishing touches on his project, he marched out a Sharpie, carefully inked solid question marks on paper, painstakingly cut them out and scotch-taped the punctuation to little rectangles of wall constructed in solid colors.

He wanted to do the Princess and a fire flower and some other brainy-kid shit, but his fever kicked in and was quickly followed by meds knocking him out. Oh well, this is why we live….to create one more again when given the opportunity of a fresh head and ample sunlight.

Mathias and his World-Famous Expressive Foot
:: mathias and his world-famous expressive foot ::

Did you know that Lego Robotics is an actual curriculum that my actual kid is involved in at his actual school?? Did you know that there was such a thing as a Lego Master Builder? How gorgeous a world is it, that will allow us such possibilities? Where will these possibilities take this complex boy overflowing with the impetus toward creativity?

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

|| October 4, 2009 || 11:23 pm || Comments (3) ||

may I direct your attentions to….

I haven’t done this in a while, I know, but I’m throwing up a post just to direct you to someone else’s words. If you haven’t heard of Jenny the Bloggess then I don’t understand how this has happened. Do you not have a head, tender reader? Because how on Earth did it get past you when Jenny is the guy who took on William Shatner in the badlands of Twitter and made him holler uncle? Jenny wears confidence wigs! Jenny has friends that carry around things like Judy Garland Trail Mix! Jenny blogs about zombies and cat mittens (that is, mittens made from whole, dead cats) and I haven’t confirmed it yet, but I’m sure she believes in the existence of the chupacabra. At the very least: She has boobs and a sense of humor; don’t all you people love that sort of thing? GAH.

Ahem. Now, go on over and read this epically gorgeous thing she has shakingly offered up to you. But then go one further, if I can impose upon you just a little bit more:

Dig into the comments, as well. There’s a whole novel, a whole symphony, a whole creation in there so twisted and beautiful and vibrant that I couldn’t skip even a single one.

I would love to see Jenny read this at BlogHer and I’d love to see it accompanied by her commenters words playing behind her on a screen. That shit would bring the house all the way down, and in the best possible of ways.

Gimme an EMM! Gimme an EE! Gimme a GEE! Gimme an AY! Gimme an ENN! WOOOO!

There is this guy Kevin, see? Kevin voyeurnals over at Always Home and Uncool and has asked me to post something he wrote as part of his effort to raise Cyberia’s awareness of juvenile myositis, a rare autoimmune disease his daughter was diagnosed with on this day seven years ago….a day that also happens to be his wife’s birthday.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Our pediatrician admitted it early on.

The rash on our 2-year-old daughter’s cheeks, joints and legs was something he’d never seen before.

The next doctor wouldn’t admit to not knowing.

He rattled off the names of several skins conditions — none of them seemingly worth his time or bedside manner — then quickly prescribed antibiotics and showed us the door.

The third doctor admitted she didn’t know much.

The biopsy of the chunk of skin she had removed from our daughter’s knee showed signs of an “allergic reaction” even though we had ruled out every allergy source — obvious and otherwise — that we could.

The fourth doctor had barely closed the door behind her when, looking at the limp blonde cherub in my lap, she admitted she had seen this before. At least one too many times before.

She brought in a gaggle of med students. She pointed out each of the physical symptoms in our daughter:

The rash across her face and temples resembling the silhouette of a butterfly.

The purple-brown spots and smears, called heliotrope, on her eyelids.

The reddish alligator-like skin, known as Gottron papules, covering the knuckles of her hands.

The onset of crippling muscle weakness in her legs and upper body.

She then had an assistant bring in a handful of pages photocopied from an old medical textbook. She handed them to my wife, whose birthday it happened to be that day.

This was her gift — a diagnosis for her little girl.

That was seven years ago — Oct. 2, 2002 — the day our daughter was found to have juvenile dermatomyositis, one of a family of rare autoimmune diseases that can have debilitating and even fatal consequences when not treated quickly and effectively.

Our daughter’s first year with the disease consisted of surgical procedures, intravenous infusions, staph infections, pulmonary treatments and worry. Her muscles were too weak for her to walk or swallow solid food for several months. When not in the hospital, she sat on our living room couch, propped up by pillows so she wouldn’t tip over, as medicine or nourishment dripped from a bag into her body.

Our daughter, Thing 1, Megan, now age 9, remembers little of that today when she dances or sings or plays soccer. All that remain with her are scars, six to be exact, and the array of pills she takes twice a day to help keep the disease at bay.

What would have happened if it took us more than two months and four doctors before we lucked into someone who could piece all the symptoms together? I don’t know.

I do know that the fourth doctor, the one who brought in others to see our daughter’s condition so they could easily recognize it if they ever had the misfortune to be presented with it again, was a step toward making sure other parents also never have to find out.

That, too, is my purpose today.

It is also my birthday gift to my wife, My Love, Rhonda, for all you have done these past seven years to make others aware of juvenile myositis diseases and help find a cure for them once and for all.

To read more about children and families affected by juvenile myositis diseases, visit Cure JM Foundation at www.curejm.org.

To make a tax-deductible donation toward JM research, go to www.firstgiving.com/rhondaandkevinmckeever or www.curejm.com/team/donations.htm.