Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Crazy People on Netflix

This is my soul sister, right here. I also like Netflix...I'm indifferent on birds. Birds flying around doing their own thing and being all beautiful? Love them. Loud birds in cages that will probably bite me? Not so much. Netflix never poops on me or makes a mess for me to clean up and has never done anything even remotely threatening.

I also think I prefer Netflix to boys at this stage in the game. Has Netflix left its dirty underwear on my bathroom floor? Not even once!

Last month we talked about my charming fascination with true crime and serial killers but don't worry, I'm on to something else this month: Crazy people!

Much like birds, I love watching them while they are out doing their own thing in the world and not scaring or bothering me. I mean, it sucks that they are scaring and bothering others, but it does make for great television. Is this as insensitive as my interest in murderers? Clearly. It seems a little less morbid though. A little.

Tabloid is a documentary about a beauty queen with a high IQ who kidnaps a Mormon guy. It only gets weirder from there. They interview her throughout the film and she's very charming and intelligent and obviously cunning in a way that is unsettling. I really liked it.

The Woman Who Wasn't There is about this lady who was actively involved in survivor support groups for 9/11 and had a moving tale of loss...but she wasn't there. It was so intriguing and bizarre how she inserted herself into these people's lives and stories for no reason at all.

Crazy Love features a high profile attorney and his younger mistress who had a troubled relationship--to put it mildly. The affair happened in the '50s and the documentary is filmed in a fast-paced kitschy way that I enjoyed.

Sons of Perdition -- I almost feel bad for including this one in the crazy people category so let me clarify that I'm calling the Amish people who do the shunning crazy, mostly because they'll never see this post anyway. It's about three boys who break out of the community and try to find their way in the "real" world. It was sad but interesting.

Serial Killer Culture sounds like it's about serial killers but I swear it's kind of not. It's about the weirdos who collect things from serial killers and make art about them and write them letters and seem to have an even more unhealthy interest in the subject than I do. There is some graphic content in this one (mainly brief glimpses of crime scene photos from the Manson murders), so beware.

Into the Abyss documents that last days of an inmate on death row for a triple murder in Texas. It interviews both the convicts and the family of the victims and was a fascinating look at both sides and the end result.

I swear I watch other things like Bob's Burgers and Arrested Development and I drew out the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for a really long time for fear of missing her when she was gone, so please don't put me on your "crazy person" list if I'm not somehow already there.

I wrote this as a member of the Netflix Stream Team which does not influence my actions, opinions or behavior but they did send me Belgian chocolates last month so I guess you could say our relationship is getting pretty serious.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

One Third

"Pie is overrated." Big Kid announced.

"Even Key Lime?" I was surprised by this revelation because I thought he loved pie.

"The number. There's pi day and pi shirts and people trying to learn pi. What about the decimal for 1/3? It goes on until infinity but it sure doesn't get a day. You don't see anyone bragging about knowing 0.333333 to the thousandth place. I'm just sick and tired of hearing about pi."

"Uh...okay. I hear you." Because what do you even say in response to that?

I've got to admit that sometimes I worry about him but then I think about the sort of things other tweens are into and angsty about right now and I guess I'm lucky he hates pi.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Oswald and Lola

I feel pretty bad for not mentioning this sooner, but I've been busy (in a good way!) with writing gigs that I get paid for, which puts you all lower on the priority list and that's why I need to win the lottery.

So I should probably play the lottery.

I did announce it on Instagram but some of you don't follow me there and I try not to hold that against you.

But, anyway, we got a new family member! Meet Oswald:

(His last mom took that picture and I had to steal it because it's amazing.)
His real name is Oswald Jaron McCann. His middle name is to honor his former owner, but we like to call him Ozzie Hogbourne because we don't understand the concept of nicknames and enjoy over complicating things.

He's chubby and has a round, pudgy butt. His pink nose is precious. He is very active and social and sometimes he bites, which I think is hilarious because he only does it to Mr. Ashley and little kid and they deserve it. He doesn't bite in a mean way, more in a curious fat kid kind of way. No one cares, we all find it amusing.

He likes to show us his teeth, and I'm not sure if it's a threat or a smile. He is very clever and can easily escape from his playpen by pushing up on each hinge until he finds the latch. He is also litter trained -- none of my hogs have ever accomplished that.

He likes Max and Max is completely obsessed with him, to the point where it annoys me to witness the lack of personal space but Ozzie doesn't care. 

I am crazy about him! He makes me smile each time I see him and I love his soft, roll-y poly little body. 

His introduction to our lives felt like one of those meant to be life events. Mr. Ashley and I had been discussing our love for Lola and how it might be fun to have another hedgehog. He even looked up the breeder's Facebook page that Saturday before we realized this might be a crazy idea. The next day, a friend of some friends posted Oswald on a Facebook sale site free to a good home and after 20 minutes of it being posted, I was the only one who commented. I messaged her and pointed out our friends in common and told her how Lola ran the show around here and what great hedgehog parents we are and within half an hour, there were dozens of comments begging for Oz but she chose us. 

I picked him up the next morning and fell in love with his silly butterball self. 

The day after that, I took Lola to the vet for an injured foot that seemed slow to heal: 

After much poking, prodding, coaxing, and eventually drugs, she unrolled and was diagnosed with either a urinary tract infection or uterine cancer. (The manic running that caused the cracked foot may have been some sort of odd symptom but was not our biggest problem.) After three vet visits, injected antibiotics, syringe feedings and begging two vets to consider surgery at any cost, it became more obvious that it was cancer and we had to help her off to hog heaven.

My poor, sweet hoglet.

I wouldn't have been able to replace her, and wasn't mentally in a place where I could consider taking on something else to love that I would inevitably lose (because, frankly, it's getting a little old at this point) but, man, am I glad to have my adorable little Ozzie to distract and entertain me. I really need the comedy goldmine that he brings to my world right now.

So this is a happy and sad story, just like life.

Follow me on Instagram to see more Oswald since I'm (slightly) better at social media than blogging these days.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Proposal

We went camping over the weekend, so I guess you could say we are all stocked up on togetherness for the year. Don't get me wrong, we had a nice time -- it was just a lot of time. There is something to be said for technology and if that makes me a bad parent, add it to the list.

On one evening we went for a walk and little kid said,"Mom, did you marry dad for his money?"

I laughed and assured him that his father had no money when we met.

"Well, you definitely didn't marry him for his looks. No offense, but he probably married you for your looks, though."

"Eh, I'm not offended. We were 19 and 21 when we met, he probably did marry me for my looks."

"Well, why did you marry dad?"

"His looks. More specifically, his shoulders and smile. Also, he was fun."

"So, not really his looks. I just need to know because I still want to marry you."

At this point Mr. Ashley interjected, "You know, it's getting a little weird. You're eight and you still want to marry your mom. We thought you'd outgrow this."

"She's beautiful, though."

Big Kid interrupted. "Bro, think about it like this. She squeezed you out of her female parts -- squeezed you right out. You want to marry that??"

"Actually, yeah."

I'm flattered, concerned, and horrified.

Monday, March 9, 2015

On the Road Again: One Year Later

One year ago today, I woke up in an unfamiliar place that was quickly becoming too familiar. I looked out the double glass doors at a sky bathed in pink and the soft hazy fog floating up from the still lake and I knew without a doubt that it would be the day my dad died.

I washed his hands and picked up a previously ignored Bible, using the internet to find an appropriate passage to read and I read it out loud to him twice. I tidied the room and opened the blinds and put on some music.

 A few hours later, I held his hand in mine as he took his last gentle breaths to the song My God Is Real.

It was a beautiful ending.

Honestly, you couldn't choreograph a more peaceful and perfect death. It was an honor to be there and to care for him. It was and will always be one of the most lovely and spiritual moments of my existence.

It was also one of the most traumatizing events of my life, despite knowing that my reality was fortunate in comparison to what others have endured. I have spent the last year in a near constant struggle not to think about it, with only an occasional emotional prod, like one might deliver to an infected tooth, to check to see if it was all real and if it still hurt.

It was and it does.

It took 344 days before I could listen to that song again and I was overcome by its beauty and how fitting it was. It finally felt good to hear it. On that same day, I remembered a voice mail from him that I had saved in a moment of prescience and felt ready and excited to listen to it -- a simple, "Hey, Rat, it's just me. Call me back," using a lifelong nickname I never particularly liked, which was also the last word he ever said.

And as I picked up my phone, I remembered mass deleting all of my voicemails one day in a fit of frustration over limited storage and I don't know if I've ever regretted anything more in my entire life and I have many regrets. Mr. Ashley called the service provider without me knowing to inquire about getting it back, but no luck.

I'm still so mad: at myself, at cancer, at Apple, at the universe, at life and at death and sometimes even at him. I should have the voicemail. I should have more than just the voicemail. I should have never let that call go to voicemail. I should have my dad. It's all so complicated.

The purpose of this post was originally to commemorate him but also to announce that I'm doing so much better now because at least I can think about it, I can hear the music, I can look back on that time with gratitude, but I think most of what I wrote above may make that assertion questionable. Again, it's complicated.

On March 29th, I will be participating in an event to raise money for the Cancer Alliance of Naples, an organization that generously helps with the financial needs of patients by helping to cover even the regular daily expenses that seem insurmountable (and unimportant) to people who already have too much to worry about. Even this is part of my progress -- I have been asked by so many to contribute to or participate in similar events in the past year and I selfishly couldn't even pretend to consider it.

I earned that selfishness and if you're feeling similarly right now, I not only understand, I wish I could slice your pain up into little pieces and take a good-sized chunk for myself to save you from feeling all of it alone.

However, I need your support if you can give it. Reading this is enough (really--if you only knew what a catharsis your attention provides, you'd send me an invoice for therapy) but a donation could help someone else. The official fundraising site, Crowdrise, requires a $10 minimum which I think is a bummer since $1 from many can do so much, but I looked into other options and, frankly, I'm at maximum capacity when it comes to thinking about it. Baby steps and all.

So if you're willing and able and interested, would you consider throwing in $10 to lessen the pain of someone else who may be heading down the same path?

I'm stepping way outside of my comfort zone by asking, but I've been outside of my comfort zone for so long now that I might just stay here. I might just set up a lawn chair and a cooler and ask you to join me while we make a new comfortable discomfort zone.

So, here's the campaign page.

Contribute if you can and/or just enjoy a moment of silence (or better yet, Willie Nelson) for my dad.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Unbreakable: Win a Year's Worth of Netflix

Motherhood is a lot like a cult at first. There's so much allure in the beginning-- the sense that you're contributing to the world in a great way, the hope of being an integral part of something bigger, the promise of a new community and sense of perspective of which only members of the club have access and, of course, the cherubic, big-eyed, velvety-soft, sweet-smelling exclusive club card that is essentially your key to all of the above.

You drink the Kool-aid (or more likely, the breast milk, during late night confusion, curiosity, or flat-out craziness) and participate in intensely reverent conversations about diaper brands and growth statistics with people who you would never have chosen to socialize with if not for being VIP members of the same club.

Is it rewarding? Of course it is. (At some point in the future, after the age of three.) But people recruiting parenting converts very rarely start their pitch with a promise that you'll get poop on your hands and feel ostracized at club meetings (also known as play groups and/or the seventh circle of hell). If there was a glossy brochure, the promise that you'll smell faintly of vomit for several months wouldn't be in the member benefits section.

But eventually, sometime soon after preschool, you stagger out of the early childhood fundamentalist cult. Maybe you put on your least dorky clothes and venture out in an attempt to reconcile the old you with the new you. Perhaps, like Kimmy Schmidt, you end up in a nightclub where someone asks if you like Molly and you enthusiastically answer: "Do I?! She's my favorite American Girl doll!"

You set out to find yourself. You seek out friends of your choosing. You figure out that Molly is a drug and wish you could take some to forget the cringe you feel when reliving your social gaffes. You are unbreakable.

As a member of the Netflix Stream Team, I was fortunate enough to get an advanced screening of Tina Fey's new show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. (Yes, I'm bragging. It even had my name watermarked over it -- I know that's so I couldn't illegally distribute it but it still felt super glamorous and fancy pants to me.)

During the first episode I laughed while inwardly cringing at what seemed like over-the-top ridiculousness and the naïveté of Kimmy Schmidt. I particularly love Jane Krakowski's character, a posh mediocre mom who at one point told her son, "Actually, Buckley this is not your worst birthday ever. Your worst birthday ever was when you busted my genitals."

But the more I watched, the more I sensed a side of Kimmy Schmidt that I could relate to: the one struggling to discover who she is while trying to recover from the adversities of daily life; the one promising herself that she could do anything for 10 seconds. She is silly and absurd and sweet and awkward and resilient. Like you and me. 

But I hope you don't wear light-up shoes like she does.

To celebrate the show's arrival on Netflix tomorrow, I'm hosting a giveaway and I swear it's not a ruse to hear your funniest, cringiest, deepest, darkest, sweetest secrets. But in exchange for your funniest, cringiest, deepest, darkest, sweetest secrets, one of you is going to win one year of free Netflix.

So leave a comment here about your unbreakable moment. Feel free to take creative liberty with what that means -- the winner will be chosen at random so I'm not looking for the next Hemingway of short stories.

For example, one of mine would be:

Due to an odd reaction to drugs, I thought I was on a boat during one of my labors and tried (hard) to trade my soon-to-be baby to a nurse in exchange for safe and immediate passage back to unmoving land. No deal. #Unbreakable #KimmySchmidt

Just like Kimmy Schmidt, I've been taking life 10 seconds at a time for the last 12 years or so. Maybe more, but I can barely remember what the old me was like and maybe that's a good thing because the new me is really growing on me. So, join me in sharing your unbreakable tales and definitely watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix starting March 6th. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You have to watch at least three episodes because I said so. It's not a condition of the contest or anything, it would just be great if someone would listen to me for once.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Musical Trio

From Big Kid in the car the other day:

"Look, I'm not trying to tell you how to live your life, but when you have some guy chanting in Sanskrit, some lady rapping about her badonkadonk, and the Ramones screaming about being sedated all right in a row, maybe it's time to organize your play lists."


But probably not.

I actually think Girish, Missy Elliot and the Ramones kind of go together.

Kind of.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Singing and Dancing

"Mom, don't take this the wrong way, but you're not a very good singer," little kid informed me.

"I know. I really wish I was a good singer but I think I'm tone deaf. Even when I try really hard, I just can't sing. But it still makes me happy. Kind of like dancing, which I'm also horrible at."

He nodded in agreement. "Maybe you could take singing lessons?"

"I don't know that it would help. Did you know I took dance lessons for years and years as a child?"

"Well, that was a huge waste of gram's money."

Yes. Yes it was. Sorry I suck at expressions of joy, kids.