Tuesday, October 25, 2016

One Bite

"I ate all of my dinner!" I told my husband, who is the resident chef around here. He looked over at my plate.

"No, you didn't. You didn't eat the chicken."

"Right. The chicken smells like that stuff I don't like."


"Okay. I will take one 'no thank you' bite. Maybe I will like it," I said, because that's what we require of the children, and they eat all kinds of weird stuff.

He laughed and shook his head, watching as I took the bite. I tried to be gracious, because that's the polite thing to do, but it had that stuff I don't like on it and I grimaced. "No. Thank you," I said after swallowing.

"You eat like four things."

"Right. That stuff isn't one of the four."

"It's chipotle seasoning."

"Ugh. No thanks. You know I've always hated it. The steak was amazing, but chipotle tastes like it smells. Bad."

"Being married to you is like having a toddler for life. Like, forever."

"Like having a monkey?" I asked.

"No. A monkey would be way easier."

(So there goes the argument for why we can't have a monkey. This is practically permission to get one.)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Chop Wood Carry Water

You know how some dog owners use a colored leash and collar to indicate a dog's mood?

You probably don't, if I read that sentence, I'd be like, "What in the hell is she talking about?" and I know. 

But some people use a yellow leash to ask you to approach with caution, or a red one to ask you to stay away.

I feel like I need that as a person. Like on some days, I will have a green signal -- I will indulge old men in boring conversations, tell random strangers they look nice today, allow people to cut me in line, and I'll be quick with a smile and greeting.

On yellow days, it would be great if people would approach slowly and speak quietly. Don't try to pet me unless I'm already wagging my tail. On yellow days I long for closeness and company while also being cautious, and I'm not sure if I want to lick you or bite you. 

On red days, stay the fuck away. It won't end well, and now that you've been warned I won't be held liable either. 

Currently, my wardrobe would be a sea of yellow. I don't know if it's the election or my age or my life experiences but people feel increasingly dangerous. It's harder to be a green, and as a naturally gregarious and outgoing person, this onslaught of yellow is damaging. Yellow is ugly. I want to love people and they make it so difficult.

I feel like my heart is a small fire and everyone is walking around with either buckets of water or kindling but I can't tell which until I get too close and they've sloshed themselves all over me. 

And my own bucket of kindling is damp and dwindling, so sometimes other people seek me out for more warmth and flame and I accidentally put out their fire too. It can take a lot to get the inferno going again, and I feel bad I don't have enough to help at the present moment.

I also don't have much energy for hunting and gathering. The dampness invites darkness, and I find myself flirting with it -- just the big eyes and fluttery lashes during the day, but nighttime brings whispered promises of a greater commitment, a longing to stay in bed wrapped up in the silky cobwebs of fogginess together forever and safe from the unpredictability of the world. Depression is a tempting lover (but not a satisfying one, and so I remind myself to stay away).

The people with water in their buckets have a lot of water right now too, more than they can carry, and maybe they need to pour some out. I want that for them; for them to dump it all out, triumphantly and forever until they are drip-dried, but my fire is so small right now that I can't let them do it near me and I avoid them and their potential sogginess altogether.

So the people with the good bits have to give out lots of it, the people with damp material are busy spreading it thin and keeping it safe, and the people with water buckets are just carelessly splashing all over the place. 

And a warning signal probably wouldn't stop them anyway. 

I've been trying to tell those closest to me to approach with caution right now, fearful that they will drop their bucket and run, maybe splashing me in the process. Most of them have admitted that their fires are small right now too. That the gathering takes so much more work lately and that they find themselves slipping into the comfort of protecting the small flame they already have versus creating something brighter and more lasting. 

My friends aren't moody like I can be, so maybe it's the current state of affairs. Sad, as an unwise man has said four thousand times on Twitter.

And the ones who spilled on me in response were just showing me what was in their bucket -- not in a mean way, but in a "I'm not the warm, dry stuff you're seeking. See this red I'm wearing?" kind of way.

Please be mindful of your bucket right now. If you have extra kindling, shower fires with it freely. If your bucket is heavy, find a way to relieve your burden without getting other people wet. 

Also, I'm sorry if you're in my real life and have seen my yellow, and wondered if it was your bucket I've been avoiding. 

If you can be the green in the ocean of yellow and red, now is your time to shine, people. In the meantime, I will kill myself to collect kindling instead of succumbing to cobwebs in the hope that one day I have enough to share again too.

(But I'll never stop with the overly involved metaphors that make little sense. Sorry.) 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Net Nanny

"I'm thinking of live streaming but I don't know what. I could do a walk through of --" Big Kid started.

"Oh, oh, I know!" I offered.


"Me dancing to Meghan Trainor songs."

"No. Nope."

"No, seriously. You could go viral."

"In the very worst way, mom. No. Absolutely not."

"Because you hate Meghan Trainor? I could do Justin Timberlake. Remember? How good I am at JT songs?"

"I could make a cameo in it." Mr. Ashley said.

The other day some cute cashier told Mr. Ashley that he looked like Justin Timberlake. I almost needed an Uber home because the car was so crowded with ego. I laugh hysterically every time it's mentioned, just like I did when she said it.

"No. Guys. God Himself will leave heaven to speak to me personally before any of you appear in one of my videos. Like, the second coming of Christ will happen first."

"So, like Tuesday?" Mr. Ashley asked.

"Well -- that's cool, though," I said, "Exciting and stuff. I'm available now. I could put pants on. Or not?"

At this point Big Kid began playing a screaming sound bite from his computer, over and over again. A continuous loop of screaming, the perfect background music for raising teenagers and for living with us.

"No. That's okay."  He said over the screaming.

"I thought no pants too. Alright. What song? Let me stretch first."

The screaming continued. Everyone ignored it.

"No. No. No. It's fine."

"Big Kid, it's no trouble, I'm happy to support you."

"I think it's really nice that you're supporting your mom, actually. This is a dream of hers."

"Well, let's face it, there's some great cross promotion opportunity here too. We probably have dozens of fans once you add them together. Go get little kid, he's been wanting to get our band off the ground. He calls it the Singing Sisters but I really think we should go with Clinton and the Secret Service."

Big Kid closed his laptop with a hard click. "Nevermind. I am just going to delete the entire internet from my life."

So. That worked out well.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Human Enough

I had to make an unexpected trip into Target yesterday and sat in the car trying to do what I could with myself in the rearview mirror first.

"Ugh. I guess I'm human enough to go in now," I muttered.

"You're always human enough, mom. You're more than human. When you're at your very ugliest -- which is never -- you're still one of the most beautiful ladies there is," said my 10-year-old,  ever at the ready with a compliment.

"Aww. Dude. Seriously. What would I do without you?"

"You'd always forget to look at the bright side of life."

And he's exactly right.

I didn't have kids so they could help with the chores (frankly, they suck so bad at chores), I had kids to help me remember life's brightness.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Purpose of Parenting

After two solid hours of playful yelling, door slamming, towel slapping, pillow fighting, bathroom wrestling, screeching, threats, argumentative debates and god-knows-what-else, Mr. Ashley walked into the house and declared it unacceptable within minutes of arriving.

I laughed. "This is my life. My. Whole. Life. I've been listening to it for hours now, I've tried to stop it several times, this is just how they are. These are our children. Welcome home."

Big Kid was indignant about this truth (that I didn't even mean insultingly). "You know, all people ever do is complain about kids, and then they wonder why I'm not going to have kids. I'm not. I won't. It seems to be a miserable situation."

He really does insist he's not having kids. I've told him I don't care either way, and I don't because it affords more time to care for me in my old age. Besides, little kid will probably have a clown car full of kids.

I rolled my eyes and sighed. "You are the joy of my life, my reason for being, the only motivation I have to continue to breathe some days, you are the beat of my heart, the only meaning in my universe. Doesn't mean you're not annoying as all get out sometimes."

He continued without pause, in a mocking tone. "Oh, why aren't you having kids, ask the same people who hate kids."

"Bro. You're being ridiculous. For real. You HAVE to have kids." little kid interrupted.

"No. Really. I don't. Apparently they're terrible people."

(He's 13. There's no middle ground at 13, in case you've forgotten.)

"No, listen. If you don't have kids, you have to do all the chores yourself. It's free slave labor, bro. Who would unload the dishwasher if she didn't have kids?"

He's right. I should have actually had more kids.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Stop and Grab

So, my 13-year-old is really into politics right now.

Is it because he's an intelligent young man with thoughts and opinions and a growing interest in his future and that of his country?

Or because this election makes professional wrestling look like a tea party with the queen?

I don't know, but it is what it is, and I'd rather have the sex talk every day forever than discuss most of it.

And, of course, with an interested older brother, a passionate mother, a small house, and intriguing sound bites from television, radio, and other grown-ups, the 10-year-old hears a lot too.

It may come as a surprise since I'm laid back, but I still monitor their media in a major way. PG-13 is a firm maybe, nothing scary, nothing sexually gratuitous. So the whole election wouldn't be allowed normally. They were prohibited from watching the second debate.

But they still know more than I realize, despite my careful avoidance of conversational landmines that could destroy their innocence.

The other day, little kid said, "Mom, I heard Donald Trump got caught doing something bad."

Please don't let it be pussygate, please don't let it be pussygate, please don't let it be pussygate, I screamed inside my head.

"Yeah...a few things," I answered evasively.

"What's the new one though?"

"I don't know. I'm not sure which thing you're asking about. There's been a couple."

"I think someone overheard him say something?"

"Hmmm. He says a lot of things."

"About ladies?"

"Yeah, a lot of things about ladies."

"I think there's tape of it? People are mad?"


"Do you already know what was said and just want to discuss it? You can tell me if so."

"No. Just that he said something and people are mad. And I do want to discuss it."

"Huh. Yeah. Well, the difficult thing is that what he said was so bad I can't tell you. It's hard to even give you context. But the gist of it is that he was bragging about how he could kiss women and grab their private parts without asking because he's rich. A little worse than that, but that's bad enough."


"People are mad because not only is it disrespectful, it's actual sexual assault. So he kind of said that he routinely sexually assaults women, and now women are saying that he did this to him, so it's looking pretty credible."

"Oh man. You know what I just thought of?"

Terrified to know, I asked what.

"You know that stop and frisk thing? What if he only wants that so he can touch ladies!"

And then I died a million deaths trying not to laugh at the hilarity, and horrific sadness, of that statement.