A Random Image

Posts Tagged ‘scout’

 

There is one picture of me in my Mother’s belly. She is in an aqua housedress, holding a casserole dish out in front of her –gripped with potholder hands– and beaming. “It was my first banana pudding,” she said to me one time as I was poring over the old pictures of me, them, us. My mother, willowy as a song (despite fat-cheeked me being lodged solidly in her middle), with those dancer’s legs and that sassmouthed smile, didn’t make her first banana pudding until she was twenty-two years old.

How amazing is that? If you’d tasted one of my Mother’s banana puddings, you would know what I’m talking about. That she’d only just learned to make nanner puddin’ a couple of months before I was born sounds like a lie, because her banana pudding tastes like decades of gooey-delicious pot-tending and nanner-slicing.

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There is one picture of me with Scout in my belly. I was wearing a coral swing top and crisp white stirrup pants. I daresay I looked cute. It takes a lot for me to like a photograph of myself. That one? That one I like wholeheartedly. I have a rag in my hand and I’m wiping a table after an ice cream social that I’d thrown for my weekly class of eleven three- and four-year old Sunday Schoolers. I’m beaming, too; I look happy in a way that jumps out of the frame and wraps itself around me.

I look good in coral. I hate it overall as a color, but I look really good in it. Such a challenge, to hate something that naturally suits you. Startling, innit, how you can be happy and shine that far outward even if you don’t like the color you’re wearing. Funnier still is how we buck against things that naturally suit us. Are we pretending they don’t? How much truth is in our distaste, and how much self-delusion?

Anyway, I’m smiling big in that photograph, having forgotten both myself and the camera. I like to think that each time we smile while we are pregnant, womenfolk, that we ensure a tiny measure of goodness in our developing child’s life. Banking joy to shore them up, you know? I believe that laughter and song before these babies of ours get here means that they will learn early on what these things are –learn the chemical feelgood of them– and seek them out for themselves.

That sounds like something I should have just told them, my three and all the strays that I’ve inadvertently mothered: “Run toward laughter, putti, surround yourself with song.” Hopefully I showed them enough that they didn’t need telling. Maybe I was enough measure of goodwill and spirited approach that some fancy emotional osmosis manifested itself.

I reckon now that I’ve had that epiphany, though, I could just tell my grandkids when they get here, make it easy on them. That is the value of grandparents: The good ones make it easy on you. I am going to try like hell to excel at the fine art of grandparenting. I am going to Grandparent Like Whoa, is what I’m saying. I had a couple of really shitty examples and a couple of really good examples by which to cast my measure of What It Takes To Be A Bang-Up Grand.

They were all dead by the time I was fourteen, but they are each indelibly drawn deep in my middle. There was Clem and Mary and Susie and William: Two carpenters, one martyr, and one saint, every one a legend (if only to me). I reckon I am the best and the worst of each and every one depending on the day and the lighting.

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I wanted to be called Sugar. My whole family voted it down, and with extreme fucking prejudice.

What do they care what my grandkid calls me? It’s really between me and my grandkid. I don’t feel like a Nana or a Memaw or a Gramma or a Grandmother. I think it would be sensational and hilarious to have a three-year-old running around calling me ‘Sugar.’ Even better if it were accompanied by the same slight lisp that Scout had when she was stumbling around drunkenly in her toddler body.

So I’m not Sugar. I think that I will quietly teach all my future generations to call me The Best instead. How hysterical would that be?

But still: I wanted to be Sugar. I am going to hold this one against my ingrate family for a long time, maybe. Who are they to tell me who and what I am?

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

I am learning to let things go. It feels weird. Stay tuned, I’ll likely tell you all about it at some point.

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Okay, I was gonna hang onto this for a bit longer, because I am keeping it close and relishing it, but I remembered something that happened one afternoon and I am still real tickled by it, just like it was yesterday. Only, it wasn’t. It was on New Year’s Day.

In order to give you context for the story, I have to go like this:

babyannounce
:: Guys, guys! I’m going to be a grandmommy! ::

I’ll give you a minute, because I was reminded on Instagram lately that some of you have been around long enough to see my kids grow up, and in a very literal way.

…..
…..

You good now? You got your breathing steady again?

We –Maxim and me– got the news on Christmas Day, after brunch and just before Scout left out for her annual Christmas Afternoon Dinner with her father.

Just like a true Southern Belle: Don’t disrupt a brunch unless someone is bleeding real bad. Pumpkin Pancakes! Shrimp and grits! Hashbrown casserole with fancy, once-per-year, sausage and cheese.* Jett’s four peach bellinis (MERRY CHRISTMAAAAS!).

Plus, if we’re being totally honest here, she was playing it smart, that Scout. If things went downhill fast, she would be able to flee to her Father’s house while I was busy melting the paint off the walls with the steely ragelasers my eyeballs shot out.

She was terrified to say them, the words, so she put a smallish envelope in my hands and my heart flung itself into my sternum because the thing I was holding was neither thick nor heavy enough to be a card and I knew what was in there even as I touched it. Well I’ll be damned. How are we here already?

“I thought you were going to hit me,” she told me later about her reluctance to tell us. What a hard few weeks that must have been to be so sick and stay so quiet.

“Don’t be silly,” I laughed, “I’d NEVER hit a pregnant woman. I’m going to wait until the baby gets here and THEN I’ll beat the hell out of you.”

What I said that day, though, and what I mean to this day is, “Oh, Scouty, it doesn’t matter how it gets here; a baby is always a blessing.” She stepped into my arms then, and I squeezed her while kissing the top of her head.

So New Year’s Day, then: We were out in the big city getting Scout all registered up.

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

She was there, the other grandmother, and we got to piddling around in the Christmas clearance. Scout had brought a friend and they were both equipped with scanners and excitedly lasering up the baby section. Eventually she texted me:
“Are you coming over here or what, woman?”
I put back the eleventy clearance stockings I had picked up, I grabbed Other Grandmother, and we went to squee over all the extraneous nonsense that American stockists deem necessary for optimal parenting these days.

(Please allow me to interject here that I think the Diaper Genie is the most ridiculous piece of baby-related detritus EVER in the history of EVER. Yes, I feel all-caps strong about that issue. I, who give not one single shit about what God you serve or what gender you feel up in backseats, will debate you for days and days over the stupidity of the Diaper Genie.)

I meandered behind Scout for a couple of aisles, then we reached the shelves where they keep the strollers elevated to eye level so’s you can remark on the awesomeness of the wheels or sommat. Scout creamed that aisle. She scanned various strollers and stroller/carseat combos, ranging in price from $24.99 to $289.99. I had perplexed face for about fourteen seconds and then disgusted face for about one second, and then I said to my daughter, “Hey. Pick the one you like best and go with that. Take the others off. That’s a bit much, don’t you think?”

“Mom!” Scout exclaimed, “I want people to have plenty to choose from, and also I don’t know what people can afford to spend.”

This drew me up short. Here I thought she was thinking only of herself with the excited wanton strollerscanning, but what she was actually doing was thinking of others, not wanting to limit them while she carefully selected five strollers.

It was an excellent reminder of the very real gap that often exists between the motivations of people and others’ interpretation of their actions. I nodded and told her that made sense to me.

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

Nova. You are a rosy incantation to me already. One time your mama asked if the moon could come home with us, since it was following the car so doggedly. I told her to ask that moon to hang around outside her bedroom if she wanted it to and she did. I love your mama so much that I’d let her have the company of the moon if she wanted it.

m-o-o-nspellslove
:: m-o-o-n spells love ::

You, Novapie? Well you don’t even have to bother asking: For you I’d lasso the moon before you even got here and contain it above your bed for your amusement, because I am now and always will be your Sugar, and you will always be my glimpse into tomorrow and my perspective changer.

We are going to be one fine dynamic duo.

*but still with a generic can of cream of mushroom soup to keep us hillbilly humble

 
|| September 5, 2012 || 2:42 am || Comments (6) ||

Today Maxim got locked out of his PayPal account due to a goofy glitch in the system. There was money sitting in there, money that he needed –we needed– and he started to freak out a little bit in his Maxim way, while I sat over here in this chair plugging Very Important Words (these days all the words that are worth eight cents or more are Very Important Words, I’m afraid) into the part of the ether that in my head is called Clientspace.

(Clientspace is inhabited, just so you know, by other fools zooming around on their keyboards and jockeying for the eight-cents-or-more words and making pewpewpew noises at all the other kamikaze writerfolk who want to eat their lunches and steal their house payments, how dare they.)

It was simple: “Maxim. Just call them. It will be no big deal, I promise.” He was also having an issue with getting client e-mails through his domain, so that fueled his angst even more, because not only could he not get to the money that was already there and his, he was losing money that potentially could be his if he were only given air and opportunity. He was doing that thing where he channels his mom and something that is not truly fussable gets fussed over because it is more convenient and safer altogether than Fucking Way The Fuck Out Completely over the big deal stuff (and there is a veritable fuckton of that leeching at our ankles, let me just tell you) that could cause a collective nervous breakdown around this joint should we let it give us our marching orders.

Stuff is not the boss, okay? Not even the big deal stuff.  We are the bosses and sometimes stuff gets all snipey and back-bunchy and whoops, there we go, letting stuff get the better of us just because it’s being obstreperous. Stuff is an errant child and it is up to us to not let it drop its drawers and shit in the living room.

So, at one point about fifteen minutes in, Maxim pushed himself away from the desk, saying “I’ll be back in a minute.” My only response to that was a silent, “Thank. God.” because I had a deadline, you know? Me and Maxim and this everybody working out of the house thing….well, there are some kinks yet. There are no stabbable offenses thus far, but we are teetering Damn Closetm to hit-you-with-a-hammer-in-your-sleep-so-that-you-can-fully-understand-the-true-weight-of-interruption offense. The ongoing battle against writerly interruption has stepped up its motherfucking game, is what I’m saying. Sometime in July he asked me to devise a system by which he might know I was working and not longingly window shopping Amazon for fancy things like new music and helium tanks, so I came up with this,


My husband asked for a better indicator of when I was working, so I designed a simple notification interface for the back side of my lappy.

only that didn’t go so well, because that is a cheapo sticky note (someone perpetually makes off with the good ones [ed. note: SCOUT, ALL TEH MUFFINASSES KNOW IT'S YOU WITHOUT MY HAVING TO TELL THEM] and there are better things to waste money on these days….things like toilet paper and electricity) and it kept falling off, causing Maxim to say, “Hey, is the sticky note on the floor on purpose, or on accident? Because I need to know if I can interrupt you or not.”

Yes, the exasperated sound coming out of North Alabama is me, Entire Rest of the World. I’m sorry, I’ll try to keep it down over here.

So back around to it: Maxim came back into the room some twenty minutes later, armed with his shoulder bag full of important things and his hands full of paperwork, announcing, “I’m going to go sell some stuff because I need a boost to my ego. I’ll fuck with PayPal and e-mail when I return.”

“Great!” I said back brightly, “I’m making BLTs for dinner, so take your ti-iiiime!”

And I thought him a very smart man in that instance, because instead of caving to drudgery he did what he knew he’s great at and what would make him feel like rock star so that he could power through tedious, frustrating mess that he gets no joy from.

This year, man. This year in our lives. Some people know one chunk of it, other people know other parts of it, still others know an entirely different slice.  Suffice it to say it’s been hit after hit after hit. What sums it up for me, I guess, is May the thirty-first. That afternoon I got an e-mail from BlogHer announcing that I was a Voices of the Year Honoree for this year. AIRHORN!! RIDICULOUS AGOG FACE! SELF-PRIDE! ALL THE ELEVENTY!!1! IN MY HEART! because, to be real honest, there was a lot wrapped up for me in that acknowledgement. I’ve long felt overlooked by much of this community because I don’t fit the regular mold (hint: Nor do I have any real plans to going forward. Love me, hate me, I’ma do me no matter what side of the coin you call for yourself). This year’s list of honorees is an incredible roster, and whoa nelly, that was vindication in and of itself, to be bookended by such talent, and sitting in the company of some of my favorite voices in Cyberia. So, you know, super-high.

May the thirty-first, continued: Later that night we learned that Sam is to be deployed to Afghanistan for just under a year. My heart fell down to my toes and just dribbled out the ends of them and onto the carpet. Good thing we’re going to get rid of it anyway, this hideous carpet, because once you get heart-stains on it they never really go away.

Yeah, super-low.

That’s what the entirety of this year has been like, over and over and over again, with so many circumstances both big and small. I am yanked through the clouds at dizzying speeds, then I am flung so viciously against the hard plane of ground that I make dents.

Last week’s cloud flight was the announcement that Sam and Randi were expecting a child. This week’s cratering out was the phone call –on Labor Day, so cute– that Randi had miscarried. The eedle yellow and mint sleepers I have thus far gathered for this child (who I’d already had adventures with in my mind’s eye) sit on the table next to me as I type, in fact. They will go to the local foster parent resource center tomorrow.

It has taken me all the way up until September, but I’m finally learning part of what this year wants to teach me: Just don’t make any plans, either to the positive or to the negative. Just sit with it, this instance in this hour in this day. The Adapt and Overcome portion of my brain was dormant, a little rusty from comfort. It took a minute to get it humming.

There’s still so much looming, I can feel it. I’m not afraid. That seems such a strange thing to say, given all that’s gone on this year and the complete lack of surety here in this place that we’re still inhabiting. I may have hiccups of despair, but I’m not afraid and I’m okay and that counts for something. Some days that’s all there is and alright then, alright.

When he returned today, Maxim came bearing a box of Triscuits; he was convinced they would score him a gratitude lay. “This is what we’ve been reduced to,” I exclaimed in delight, “Triscuits are marital baubles!” We laughed together, long and deep and with giddy gulps.

About four weeks ago Scout decided to scare the piss out of me and her dad. Said fright was caused by her standing in front of us having a conversation one minute, then falling out and convulsing the next. When roused and sufficiently coherent, she described an electrical storm in her frontal lobe.  Tests thus far are inconclusive. Which, you know, I prefer to view as HALLELUJAH NO BRAIN TUMOR.

….but the image of an electrical storm right behind her pretty little brow has haunted me.

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About a week after that, I got a call from Sam informing me that he was coming home for four days over Easter so that he could marry this Very Cute Person,

randi
:: randi, university of alabama campus, valentine’s day 2011 ::

who we will henceforth call ‘Randi’ in all our future talkstory adventures, Muffinasses. Don’t bother asking if I like her, silly; just look at her Loverboy teeshirt and her pleasant countenance! Those things should give you all the four-one-one that you need. Okay, okay….I will tell you this little bit of confessional information: One time, when Sam and Randi were both fifteen or thereabouts, I told Maxim in the quiet privacy of our bedroom, “Now that kid? I would love to have as a daughter-in-law.” She is that flavor of awesome, see? That sort of awesome that had the two of us making plans for coffee and conversation even when she and my son were no longer a couple at one (or two? ahem) point(s).

So initially the wedding plans went like this: While Sam was last home on leave, the couple made the announcement that they would marry next July. Hasty, yes? Yes, hasty. But look! Over a year to plan a wedding! Just enough time to do all this. We wish Randi would finish school! But we love her! You guys are so young and maybe wait a little longer! But who am I to speak against passion?? I would never be found guilty of such! Let’s have a wedding, shall we?

Then they said “Hey! We want to do this in December.” Okay, ah, start the New Year together in 2012! We get it! Makes some sense! Whoa, deadline, but not an unobtainable goal if we get started right now!

Then this July and my head exploded because “SAMUEL YOUR SISTER WILL BE OUT OF THE COUNTRY AND HOW DARE YOU PROPOSE A WEDDING WITHOUT HER, SHE WOULD NEVER DO THAT TO YOU AND THAT LEAVES US NO TIME TO HELP YOU PLAN, NOT TO MENTION GIVE YOU ANY SORT OF FINANCIAL HELP YOU MIGHT NEED AND WHAT THE FUCK? WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK, SAM?? I HAVE A LOT TO BE CONCERNED WITH JUST NOW, PLEASE STOP WITH THIS WEDDING IN JULY NONSENSE RIGHT THIS MINUTE.”

“Mom?” Sometimes the connection is tinny when he calls, far-away sounding. This was one of those times. “Mother, I’ve  got a four-day pass over Easter weekend. I’m going to fly in Friday morning and that afternoon Randi’s dad (ed. note: Randi’s dad is a Babdiss preacherman, but we do not hold that against her in any way) is going to marry us in her parents’ back yard.” He wore a black shirt and ivory Vans and she wore an ivory dress and black Converse and now I’m a mother-in-law, so weird.

At least I am consistent, as always, in maintaining a whirlwind life.

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

So. The week before Scout fell out and two weeks before Sam made the tinny phone call, the very week that Mathias announced that he was joining Civil Air Patrol, Maxim and I had a discussion that really entailed not much discussion at all and we decided to leave our church. Rat-tat-tat. We met with our Pastor and told him on the tenth of April, my mother’s birthday.

Individually, Maxim and I had both been feeling the nudge to ask the other what they thought about our relationship to our church and whether we were to continue it. When I finally brought my thoughts up to him and told him the timeline on them, he nodded sagely and cited the exact same thoughts along the exact same period of time. We were essentially completing one another’s sentences as we spoke, and ended the discussion with the promise to pray over the issue for two weeks and then go over our impressions together.

Then the not-discussion, then the leaving, then the strange feeling of being untethered from a church body but being very anchored spiritually. We –Maxim and I, and even Scout– have even gone so far as to acknowledge that it may be in the cards for us to remain unchurched altogether. None of us is opposed to this. Jesus did a lot of damage with two feet and an unafraid voice; He never kept to four walls, at least not for very long. We’re supposed to emulate that man, if we really believe what we say we do.

We will miss our church family bitterly. We will still see them socially, sure, but not several times a week. Hell, let’s be honest: We will probably not even get to see them several times a month. Life is a storm of unpredictability and a ruiner of plans. That’s part of what makes it so incredible, you know?

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On Monday, April the eighteenth around two-thirty or so, I started to feel it. I guess it was something akin to a fissure in my brain opening, something that had been a sort of hairline crack becoming a gaping maw. I white-knuckled my way through the afternoon and then went home to gobble some Lexapro, thinking that my PMDD was rearing its head and hadn’t given me as much lead time as usual. I quickly got worse, my insides a low-roiling boil, threatening to bubble over; it made me physically sick. I could feel the lactic acid building and then depositing in my shoulders, my traps, in the backs of my thighs. It was a continual release of adrenaline and I was extremely nauseous by hour four of the whole thing. The whole of the afternoon a voice in my head gibbered about just wanting my bed, ohhhh if I can make it to the end of the workday I can have my bed,  but that evening I fumbled onto the couch and couldn’t move from there, where I fell into a fitful sleep by seven 0′clock.

I woke and dragged myself to the bedroom, still feeling sick and indeterminably broken, at around ten-thirty. The next morning I was due to drive Scout to her neurologist an hour away, and I thought that the Lexapro would grab hold while I slept (like it always did! magic! jazz hands, bitches! airhorns and goofy relieved grintastic visages and confetti or something equally as rad!), making me feel whole and right again upon waking.

I woke up lethargic and very, VERY resistant to the idea of leaving our home. In fact, I was somewhat terrified to even get out of bed. The low-boil feeling was still there and now I had a sense of defeat layered on top of it. I wanted to die, but it occurred to me that if I shot myself in the head my daughter would a) be angry that I ‘forgot’ to check her out of school b) be the one to find me c) be doubly fucked up as a result of having been angry at me just before finding my messy-headed self scattered willy-nilly across the bed. I tried to eat some breakfast. I threw it up. I showered and put on eyeliner, then comfortable clothes, then sunglasses that would obscure most of my face. It was a sheer act of my Legendary Stupidly Defiant Will that put me behind the steering wheel and on the road.

I am going to make a mistake. I am going to make a mistake and wreck us. My inner voice meant this in a more literal sense, but in writing that now I realize that there is more meaning to it. Anxiety’s theme song is I Am Going To Make A Mistake. It has a really catchy hook and gets stuck in a loop on your insides if all the conditions are right and you give it half a footing, did you know?

“I’m not feeling well,” I told Scout, “do you think you could manage driving if it turns out that I can’t?” She said she could, and I told her that I’d navigate the more difficult part of the drive and put her on the straightaway twenty minutes or so down the road. When that twenty minutes had passed, I’d started feeling better, so I passed on Scout driving for me and continued on. Ten minutes past that I was pulling into the empty lot next to an abandoned auto shop, so suddenly overcome that it was all I could do to exit the car and go around to the passenger side.

I reclined the seat, Scout slid in the new Damnwells and within a few minutes we were flying down Highway Tw0-Seventy-Eight; I was curled up on my side with my face six inches from my knees, staring at them intently, afraid that my brain was doing something I and it could never recover from, when ‘Sophia‘ came on

with a wink everything’s falling apart
and we’re lost in Lebanon

and then somehow I found my eyes fixed on the beyond out there past the vinyl and the doorhandle and the window, it rushed by oh it fell away and was replaced so fluidly and I hope I can hold onto myself well enough to finish this day, finish this day, finish. Finish it, this day.

Abel started
but Cain had to finish the job
for the God of Jealousy

No fever dream had ever been so brutal.

By four o’ clock that afternoon I became something resembling myself, but still only a poorly-remembered version of that, a slightly-staticky approximation. “It’s stress,” said Maxim the next day, and then the day after that I caught myself kneading the shit out of my left forearm with my right hand, to the point of extreme pain that I hadn’t even noticed in my absent-mindedness. It was then that I took into account that my nails were more gnawed than they ever had been –they were bleeding and painful at times– and I’d had this crazy rash on my chest that had appeared suddenly about two weeks prior. “I told you, stress,” Maxim affirmed once I recounted my realizations to him. I pondered the crevasse that had opened up in my brain, how extremely near to the base of it that the crack had run.

I circled the internal wagons. It took a week to really shake that feeling that I was just a fuzzy copy of my actual self, that I was play-acting at being something I was really not. I faked it till I maked it and I managed not to disappear. Feel free to mutter it under your breath, but don’t you ever tell me that miracles are the stuff of myth.

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Wednesday, Twenty-Seven April:

The internet went out early in the day. Power was intermittent throughout the morning, but mostly there.  The mountain began to be battered. We came back from lunch, we left early for the day. Maxim happened to be off, so did Scout. My family was all snug in our home when I got there. I found out later that where others were hit once and hard, we were hit over and over hard. It was that evening before I found out that Tuscaloosa had lost one-seventh of itself and Cullman had fared poorly and the state park had played host to three twisters on the ground at once (a paramedic friend showed me a close shot he’d taken with his phone, holyHOLYfuck). A friend, upon finding out that we had no idea what was going on elsewhere, began to text snippets of information and news to me.

I called Randi, who was shaken but perfectly fine. A student at the University of Alabama, she had, she confessed, been terrified when the tornado set down a block from her apartment. She was coming home to the mountain as soon as she could. Her phone was messed up and she couldn’t make any calls or send any texts, but she could receive them. Sam, having just gone back to Texas less than twenty-four hours before, was on the other line, exceedingly not-okay with having left his bride.

Maxim showed me the snippet of radar he’d managed to pull up on his phone. “Unh, ah, there is this black area here right by us. I’ve never seen BLACK on any radar, have you?” No, no I had not, and it looked ugly, like a blotchy tumor on a rainbow landscape and wow, this is one of the rare times in life that merits one long, low whistle of disbelief punctuated with raised eyebrows. Things ramped up for us again. We stayed together, first in Mathias’ room reading and making LEGO magicks, then in the living room. When Maxim thought everything had passed, he went in search of ice and to check on his mother. He took Mathias with him.

He later professed the stupidity of leaving, because one of the events that occurred while he was out involved a massive oak falling across a pitch-black road a few feet ahead of him while he considered the merits of dropping a load in his pants. Another wave of storm had whipped itself at us and he’d been caught out in it. He crept back to his mom’s to wait it out. Back at home, Scout and I started hearing things hit the back side of the house.

“It’s still now,” I texted Maxim afterwards, “Come home, and hurry, but be safe.” My phone began dying. Maxim came home. “There is a tree in Dana’s house. It sliced clean through.” We didn’t get out to inspect, because I did not trust the dark and the clever way it might obscure dangling tree limbs with the potential to fall and crush or its ability to hide downed, soaked power lines an errant foot might find before a watchful eye could.

We made pallets for the children on our bedroom floor, set a lantern in the bathroom in case anyone had to get up later. It was dark, so dark, and I blessed this darkness, because it is a hardcore insomniac’s unspoken dream to have no glowing, buzzing streetlights slicing in from half a block away. There were no electronics humming, no tiny red lights becoming larger than life. “I AM GOING TO SLEEP LIKE A CHAMP TONIGHT!” I announced to no one in particular. We had laid our heads on our pillows and spoken a few words when one of us –I don’t even remember who, honestly– said, “Oh man, we got so lucky this time.” This was immediately punctuated with the explosive sound of a hundreds-of-years old tree a few yards away in the quick throes of giving over and going a fuck-all, messy horizontal.

I not only slept like a champ that night, I slept like a GOING-FOR-BROKE, FUNDAMENTALLY-DRIVEN, PIMP-ASS MOTHERHUMPIN’ CHAMP. But only for five and a half hours. I kept flopping around the bed after that, and then finally I got up and pulled on yoga pants and the notorious Pink Floyd shirt (that has made a-one-0r-a-two appearances within the voyeurnally tomes of yours truly) you might chance to remember. There were flip-flops involved, too. I slipped on a hoodie, leashed  up Banjo and set out. Only one other house on the whole block was occupied. Three of them had trees driven well into their innards. Others had broad, well-rooted oaks tipped over and leaving gigantic divots in the ground. Some of them had equally large trees snapped like toothpicks halfway up their trunks.

The three blocks surrounding our home were –and still are– a great mess. There are a bait of awful tales that I could run out in front of you, but I’ve already taxed your graces enough for tonight and I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest for me to actively try and horrify you.  Let’s just say that I am very well aware that the most tragic thing that happened to me, basically, was having to endure an icy shower and hanging clothes on the line. Which, if you’ve been watching any of the news footage (which I have not even had time to go through in any real way) is the cosmic equivalent of stubbing my toe in the presence of legless people.

Translation: Don’t you !dare!! complain, dummy.

And so, I am not. In fact, I am going to post up, in the next little real soon day or two, things that have been so right about this place and its people since all the weathercarnage. I’ll include some ways you can help from where you are, too. Tonight my back is growing stiff and my eyelids are crackling.

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

This week Scouty turns eighteen. Twenty days after that, she will graduate high school.

scout, is, well.....holy crow, she's grown
:: ’she looks like an album cover,’ somebody said ::

Then it will be June and she will be exploring another country.

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

This summer we will be taking Mathias to our nation’s capital because he is old enough to absorb some of what this country is, what this country remembers, what it knows and also what it would like to forget. He’s inquisitive and perceptive, a fact magnet and discussion-haver.

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

Next weekend my son is coming home to get his bride and take her back to the desert with him. They are so young and passionate, and life is too fragile for them to be apart one second longer than they have to be. The world won’t be any less brutish, but they will each have the comfort of a bedmate’s tangled limbs and steady breathing to reassure them as they slumber. Important, too, is someone to laugh with when everything is all ludicrous as fuck and humor is the only thing left.

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

It almost never fails: The day after a brutal, tornado-laden storm is picture-perfect, bright and mild and colorfully soft. This always blows my mind. Still, I am thankful for it, for the respite and I am moved to make this urgent wish:

Sonno beato, world, and all the children in it; sleep beautifully for a time.

I’m here. I’m still here. Everyone I know is accounted for. Everything is possible and I brought my spoon because I’ve always been one to dig in and that’s one trait I will fight to drag up to the grave’s lip before I have to be put in there.

 
|| July 28, 2010 || 4:33 pm || Comments (9) ||

Scout called me from Chicago last night. She was there on a layover, headed to Detroit for her grandfather’s funeral. I was wandering around Birmingham with Mathias after having dropped her at the airport earlier in the day. Our shopping errands were long done.

“I miss Sam. Do you miss Sam?”

I asked her this question because I am afraid to ask Mathias. I don’t want him to fall apart, not yet. To further that end, I have been doing my own falling-apart quietly, quickly; yesterday this was done in bathrooms around the city. The one at Target was a little more epic than the others, but not by much. That particular come-apart was exacerbated by the fact that I was buying school supplies for Scouty and Mathias but none for Samuel. Then I hitched up my yoga pants, plastered on a smile  and said something along the lines of Holy God, mommy needs coffee…who wants to handle the Starbucks run? when I plowed out of the restroom.

Mother. He’s only been been gone nine hours and forty minutes.”

“You DO miss him, YOU DO! Not even I’m counting the hours!”

“Give me a break, Momma.”

“But do you miss him?”

“Not yet. Probably because I’m not there. It’ll be kind of hard when I get back. We shared the whole second floor, away from the rest of you guys.”

“I miss him.”

“Yeah. But you know what? The first forty-eight hours are the hardest. It’s going to be better.”

The house sat empty, because Maxim was working late and Scout was out of town. I kept Mathias in the city long past when it could have been considered practical. I wanted for there to be life at home, some sort of human racket, so the place wouldn’t feel so hollow when I got back. I wanted to be exhausted, in order to prevent any impulse  to rattle around and run into reminders of Sam at every turn, to see his shirts hanging in the laundry room, to find the stack of borrowed ceedees he’d placed on the table by the door.

A few hours ago I went up to his room to get empty hangers for the laundry and to put some of his clean things away. It was a bit of, ahem, a pit. “This is good,” I told Maxim, “I can choose to be annoyed with him rather than miss him. He kind of did me a favor, the little prick.”

One hour ago, Sam’s friend Jay came to get his car. Samuel is gifting him with it because Jay has it kind of rough and doesn’t have a car of his own. Sam is sometimes infuriatingly arrogant, but mostly he is good and generous and loving.

Ten minutes ago I got this text:

The drill instructor is taking my phone now. I love you, Mother. You’ll have my address soon.

I don’t know how to do this. How am I going to do this??

 
|| November 16, 2000 || 6:24 pm || Comments (0) ||

About 5:30 p.m. CST:

ME: *waggling finger in direction of youngest boy-child* WHY is he SCREAMING like that???

ELDEST BOY-CHILD: *oh so matter-of-factly* Because he’s two.

ONLIEST GIRL-CHILD: *frowning as only she can* And because he’s a BUTT.

 

The only drawback to having an exceptionally angry day is that now I have an exceptionally large headache-thing (this never happened when I was younger, but perhaps that’s because I pounded on my little sister or one of the neighborhood boys to let off some steam). But not to worry; It goes nicely with my lavender pumps and my raw-to-the-core nerves. Can you hear them jangling away? Is it a tune you might be able to dance to? You know me, happy to accomodate.

All outta beer and sausages, though.

On the lighter side of the day, My Charming and Gorgeous Girl Offspring was piddling her way through a plate of Mom’s Best Made-Entirely-From-Scratch Spaghetti (pizgeddy) when the following exchange occurred:
“Hey, momma…”
“Yes, my punkin, what is it?”
“I need somethin’ here.” *gestures grandly at her plate with her fork*
/// Meanwhile, the boys are making monkey noises at one another and feeding each other a piece of garlic bread ///
“I need some of that FarmerJohn cheese.”
My eybrows go up and my eyes sorta get squinty at this juncture. I am trying HARD to comprehend.
“You know, that kind that comes in the little shakin’ thingy….FarmerJohn cheese.”
I nearly bite through my lip while trying to suppress the laughter.

If any of you is stopping by the store tonight, couldja please pick us up some FarmerJohn cheese? We are slap OUT.

 
|| September 9, 2000 || 3:20 am || Comments (0) ||

Q: What’s the difference between a Northern fairytale and a
Southern fairytale?
A: A Northern fairytale begins “Once upon a time…”; a Southern fairytale begins “Y’all ain’t gonna believe this
shit…”

So here I sits, at 3:37 a.m. CST, eating eggs covered in The Original Louisiana Hot Sauce with a chocolate chip muffin on the side and some skim milk washing it all down. Normally, my lovelies, I near-despise eggs, even those cooked to a fluffy scrambled heavenliness a la my ma’s infamous recipe. On occasion, though, I do gets a pireful hankerin’ fer tha thangs, and tonight just so happens to be one of those times. The baby sits to my left, easily observed through the french doors of my office/dining room, watching The Brave Little Toaster with a look of amusement mingled with bliss (the same exact look he’s worn the 300 other times that he has taken said flick in). We are fresh offa a 1 a.m. visit to the E.R. *sigh* and he is on a sugar high that promises to last until 4:30 or so….

Was having a great time with the hubby *wink-wink* around midnight when the phone rings. I moan “Ignore it” and we both do until we hear the semi-frantic voice of mom-in-law beseeching us to pick the phone up and baby whimpering in the background. This is very uncharacteristic; my mother-in-law is never frantic and most usually quite capable in all situations. Cursing and fumbling to find the cordless ensues and by the time it’s found, she has hung up. When I call back, she tells me that my 20-month-old normally happy baby awakened her with screaming and was on fire with a 104.5-degree temp. She chucked him in the tub and I yanked on the nearest matching ensemble. Hubby has to work today and someone has to stay with the other two children, so I vote myself out the door and into the car to retrieve the young master.

Poor little thing. He is Mister Go Lucky normally, but was crying forlornly at the mere mention of his name. The bath seems to assuage his fever the tiniest bit and I give him some children’s ibuprofen on the fly. He scribbles jaggedly and angrily on his MagnaDoodle while riding to the hospital. Once there, the whole process goes rather swimmingly, which is no small feat for the hospital that we loosely refer to as “Medical Shitsville”. We are ushered in straight away (to my utter amazement) and seen within 15 minutes. HO-LEE SHEE-YUT. Zoinks, Batman!

End result is strep throat and he is given two cups of juice while awaiting an antibiotic shot.

He muttered “ohno,ohno,ohno” the entire walk back to the room we were assigned, so on some level methinks he knowed it was coming….he is highly intelligent and we can’t put much past him.

Keeping in mind that he was not feeling too snazzy to begin with and had already been subjected to the whole icky rectal temp thing twice, the shot was not well-received and he subsequently scored two yummy popsicles after the nurses got done cooing over him. He is a real beauty, what can I say? The popsicles were not quite enough to temper the situation, so as he sat on my lap he touched my lips repeatedly and said “lalala”. This means he wants songs to fill the moment, a throwback to when I would singsong “La la la, connect the dots” while he was an infant.

How can I possibly refuse this feverish little moppet, his curls sticky with sweat, his eyelashes matted from tears? I break into the standards, the repertoire of no-fails that have been honed to perfection by nearly 9 (GOD! Has it been that long?) years of mommydom…

After the requisite 15-minute post-injection observation period and handing off of the prescription, we are free to go and he is nearly a new man, fussing with his blanky on the way to the car.

All the way home he babbles and chatters at me in his loose baby-cum-toddler lingo. He is enchanted by the clear night and all the bright-shinies that it contains. As we hit the old country roads, he is delighted to play peepeye (translated as “peekaboo” for all northeners and foreigners) with the moon, which is low-slung and bright white. He keeps exclaiming “WOOK!” to me while pointing at it bobbing to and fro within the trees. This moment reminds me….

One night on the drive home, my daughter (then 2-and-a-half) turned to me and said excitedly, “Look mommy, the moon is following us. It must like me.” This was followed by a few moments of silence and then she turned to ask, “Mommy, can the moon come home wif us?” “I dunno, sweetie, you’ll have to ask the moon if it wants to.”

She asked me to roll down the window, which I did, then she politely asked, “Moon, would you like to come home wif me? I would like you to.” The moon followed us and she felt very special to have garnered its’ attention.

And here was my boy, sugar-loaded and fascinated with the moon. And here was me, caught between two moments in time and utterly fascinated by it all.

And oh yeah, I am eating eggs. The end.