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florida and the breath of cherokee in me. [Sep 9 2014 - Tue|01:28pm]
i went to florida last week. i believe this was my 29th visit. i went with my family. brian, two children. we met my father and mother there, in florida.

since retiring, dad has developed this routine where he rents the best condo out of five buildings for the entire, off season-rated month of september. he keeps it booked two years in advance. he is very serious about this. it's a corner unit with two bedrooms. room 469. you can wash the dishes and look up to see nothing but ocean. but somehow, you always forget to look up when washing dishes.

i missed a handful of years back when i was doing things like having newborns and one year olds during the summer, and a stack of hospital bills. we took oliver when he was two. my last concurrent trip was the week i began suspecting i was pregnant with oliver. or, who would later become oliver. just me and dad. THAT WAS UNCOMFORTABLE.

brian would sit at his job in the old, now burned down condom store and urge me to find a reason to borrow my dad's car to go down to the drug store for a pregnancy test, which i would then urinate on and find out i was pregnant by myself in a condo bathroom.


i waited until i returned home and couldn't sleep and got up at 6am and then freaked out and cried to my sister on the phone about HOW ARE THEY GOING TO GET IT BACK OUT!? and then went around noon to tell brian, who was still sleeping soundly and not at all concerned with solidarity. i handed a box of ft walton beach saltwater taffy to someone dressed in socks, underwear, and a tshirt and told him he was going to be a father. i mean, PUT SOME PANTS ON instead of scarring my taffy memories.

i went to florida last week. second year in a row. dad now offers free accomodations, so we just pay $300 for gas, a beach umbrella with two chairs, and a couple of dinners out. it's hard to say no to a $300 paradise. brian was a little financially freaked out because the week before, he had to have a sonogram, or whatever they're called when there's not a baby involved, because he keeps urinating blood and having back pain the day after everytime our a/c goes out, and he started having other pains one day and our increasingly stupid insurance has a $1500 deductible and we just finished pulling the trigger on $1800 worth of insulation and radiant barrier and today, the $2800 dollar re-roofing trigger was pulled, and that's never mind about the way our house is still sinking into the soil two years later. brian asked for the babyless sonogram instead of the more expensive ct scan because maybe we'd be out less money. but after the inconclusive monogram, he went on to being violated by a more specialized lady doctor who signed him up for the scan anyhow.

we went to florida last week. i said i'd pick up the vacation tab, as it's a mid-term election year, which provides for fatter paychecks for me for a handful of months and i can briefly pretend i'm not taking a really long descent into moneylessness.

i stressed and floundered about leaving oskar and finally signed up andrea and darren to visit him daily and take him into the vet for fluids a handful of times. he did not die or deteriorate while we were gone, but did take to the new and curious habit of curling up on my motherfucking laptop keyboard. not to be outdone, ozzy began hanging out on a barstool and then realized how easy it was to haul himself up to the kitchen counter, where he will recline unabashedly for us to see. i do not understand why they are doing these things.

i made the epic drive a week ago saturday. the children did not fall asleep until 20 minutes before the lunch stop and refused to sleep again. for the entire remaining six hour drive. they slept through the crossing of the mississippi river, despite my best attempts at slapping their thighs from the driver's seat. after much fruitless searching, we stopped in vicksburg for lunch at mcalister's deli. every item off the children's menu is adorned with a packlette of teddy grahams. the applesauce side comes with not one, but two kinds of corn syrup.

i snapped on the radio just in time to go underwater via the bankhead tunnel in mobile so that we could hear it turn to static. i dutifully pointed out the battleship alabama and the first sightings of ocean water as we crossed the bridge. we made the usual extra stop so oliver could poop.

we finally rolled into the el matador parking lot at dusk and before removing a single piece of luggage, we quickly moved the few remaining yards by foot so that we could see the ocean disappear into the darkness.

our old lives fell quickly away. we have always lived here. on the beach. in the sand. walking in water.

despite my best efforts at applying sunscreen and wearing a shirt and sitting under a thick, canvas umbrella, i will quickly find myself adopting the appearance of a 42 year old, crinkly, brown paper bag. my melasma increased in strength.

on sunday, i skipped walking at 6:30am with dad and gave myself a break. i was exhausted from missing a night of sleep thursday in order to be with my niece and her boyfriend for the birth of her third child, samuel. and i had gotten up pre-crack of dawn on saturday.

on monday, i continued to give myself a break.

on tuesday, i woke up and before exiting bed, i already knew that my lower lip was rebelling against the sun exposure and had swelled to double its normal size, which is no small thing for my already large lip. it occurred to me the same thing had happened last year, but the sparkling sun-filled water memories had pushed it right out the brain door. i was too embarrassed to go out like that and chose, instead, to photograph it and post it to the internet.

this continued for two more days. i'm not sure if it was the sun or the water or a combination, but i couldn't dial back all that much. the weather was impeccable and the water was crystal clear, save for a few batches of trash, sunglasses, and jellyfish. i couldn't stop going out there. my fear of being in the same pool as billions of slimy, dangerous sea creatures could not assuage my desires. the threat of burning to a crisp and having my lip explode right off my face did not slow me down. the adventurous red flag days had subsided into smooth, rippling waters and, at one particularly glorious point, i nearly started singing the ocean version of the hills are alive, except i didn't know of one. i was spinning and pontificating about beauty to brian. i wanted to wrap myself in the water, but that would have killed me.

eventually, the face herpes began to manifest. i already looked like a waterlogged, stringy pile of shit, and the lighting in the bathroom was terrible, so i marched on and took it in stride and tried to roll my lip in when passing other people.

when brian and i went on date night the last night there, i made him let me choose the spot where my lip sore would be closest to the wall at noonie's thai cafe. and then, i realized i was under a spotlight and facing where the owner had set himself up. perhaps they burned the forks after we left.

while seeing if noonie's still existed, i was reminded of this particular online review:

Wow, what a experience! The owner, tried to sale me heroin. And, I just meet him! Unbelievable! My advice, stay away, unless ur into drugs.

i held this information in my mind as we dined. we pulled up to a curious smoking fire in a can out in the parking lot. they use this for burning forks. i suspect the area might have been some kind of patio. once inside and seated, the owner commented that everything could be made vegetarian. he remembered us from a year ago. there were no other diners there as we ate, save for a very talkative patron, who apparently reguarly visited. he hopped up and recommended the sweet and sour with delicious pineapple before disappearing. he might have been there last year, and was rather tweakerish.

i thought, well, i suppose it might be really easy to remember some of the few people who actually came in for the food... if this was actually a front for a heroin operation. they launder their money in the pad kee mao. which is delicious, by the way. the literally tubular tables and chairs reminded me of malls in the early 90s and the small space has two dueling big screen televisions. while we dined and chatted, i noticed the owner perk up to a presence outside and he went thataway. he returned. later, he went out to talk with a woman i could see through a crack in the door who was wearing a bikini top. no food ever went outside with him.

so. perhaps we ate dinner in a drug den. it's difficult to say.

we took one last turn through alvin's islands to purchase postcards of a bikini-clad lady with an impossible thong and naked cats (oliver was in want to make a billboard of florida cats for oskar and had already purchased one with his very own souvenir money). i made brian purchase these cards and a different bikini lady card earlier in the week, when the sales girl tried to upsell him to a cheaper bulk rate.

not ready to let go of utopia, we took beers down to the pool and i tried to imagine being 7. 10. 14. swimming in that pool. night swimming. we talked about what our dreams of the future had been before we met. did we want kids and a big house? i previously wanted to marry in the woods while wearing a red crushed velvet dress. 90s edition.

we left at 7am saturday and returned to dallas at 8:30pm. on the way out, i tried desperately to keep the radio tuned to 80s hits that would evoke the youthful angst of all my other beach departures, tucked in the backseat of a volare or a cutlass sierra. the radio provided. cars, everytime you go away, vacation (all i ever wanted). the three hour drive from shreveport to home threatened to push me over the edge.

our house felt weird. it smelled weird. it smelled really bad, i suppose from being shut up? but the litter was clean. what was that smell? is it always here? CATS. i blame it on the cats. foul creatures. maybe we have not found all the treasures from oskar's pre-vacation excrement fest where he pooped inside the plug on the air mattress and pooped in the path of the vacuum cleaner before i realized what was happening. if your cat is plugged up, i highly recommend greenie's intestinal treats and a small, closed room.

my lip is 65% healing herpes sores. if you are at all familiar, that means i am in the phase where they are crusting and chapping and bleeding profusely. where lip flesh is torn and curdled and raw and stinging. i have tried my best to remove myself from the public, but it is not working. i have to explain, "vacation was great! look at these sun allergies!" brian always says, "i can't see anything," and he is obviously lying or blind and i can never trust him again regarding appearances.
3 dead X pick your poison

i am 41 years old. [Aug 3 2014 - Sun|07:44pm]
i don't think i have ever managed to be so unaware of a birthday as i am of the one arriving tomorrow.

i suppose it's the effect of more work and less navel-gazing.

i have been telling this journal my age for 11 years. holy shit.

i am 41 years old. i am 41 years old. i am 41 years old.

i am 41 years old. holy shit. maybe tomorrow is the day i wake up and find myself 84 years old.
2 dead X pick your poison

HELP ME: a technical question. [Jul 17 2014 - Thu|01:30pm]
if anybody is still around here...

livejournal has switched me over to whatever new version it has worked up. when i go to my friends filter and get to the bottom of the page, where one might normally find the option to click on PREVIOUS ENTRIES, it will reload more entries a few times and then, it just decides it's done with that.

i can't even take the exhausting route of going directly to each, individual journal because i just get some weird cached page from 2008.

i can't find a place to go back to the old version and the help section is useless, as most help sections tend to be.

who has the magic bean here?
2 dead X pick your poison

oskar goes to the vet. [May 8 2014 - Thu|10:39am]
a note for myself, really.

i've just returned from a vet visit to check oskar's kidney values and weight. he's been out of the joint almost six weeks now and has been energetic and spunky, though still on the thin side.

as he's an avid pill-avoider, i haven't even tried to give him hypertension meds or pepcid, but occasionally wrangle an appetite stimulant into him (see night of the attempt to eat oliver's burrito dinner, facebook edition). he's struck a happy balance of snuggling without clinging. i rarely wake up to find him sitting on my arm while i'm on my side anymore.

during the past week or two, brian and i have finally found a balance with the IV routine. we scrapped the old IV harness after two failed attempts and i stopped warming the fluids, fearing i might be accidentally steaming him from the inside out. he puts up a little fuss, for the sport of it, and then he lets me catch him, he makes a mournful meow for added effect, and then i set him on the towel that is on his cat saucer beds. he settles in and lets me burrito wrap him. he really likes burritos. i clip it at his neck, for added security, and then slide the whole kit and kaboodle on my lap. brian sticks him while i coo and pet his face and head. i hold the needle. brian starts the flow. i coo and pet some more. a minute or two later and 100 units in, and brian removes the needle.

oskar has become so calm (or possibly highly mortified), that he no longer tries to run and i keep him a few seconds longer for pets before releasing him to the payment of one hip action glucosamine treat.

god, getting old. am i right, man?

so we went on in. his weight was down a smidge. the lower 9 pound range. less than a pound lost. i'm glad i waited to try the phosphate binder i purchased behind the vet's back, because his phosphates, which had at one time been literally off the high end of the chart, is now normal. he's still in the high range for BUN and creatinine, but has shown significant improvement.

yeah, motherfuckers!

she also reported he seems really well hydrated and has suggested doing fluids every other night for a trial run. i think we'll try taking every third night off. i don't want to fuck this run up.

now if he'd just poop already.

REPORT CARD, for my records: old on top, new on bottom.

pick your poison

oskar and the surprise of the kidney disease. [Mar 24 2014 - Mon|02:21pm]
after having committed myself to staying in bed all day saturday while he was still at the vet, i committed myself to staying on my bed, in my bed, since bringing oskar home at 8pm saturday night. he crawls on to my lap before i can even sit all the way down and pull the covers across my lap. and he stays there. but right now, he's gone for the second time today to sun himself in the foyer. this seems like good news.

when i finally was able to pick him up saturday night at 8pm from the vet, i cried out in the car while rubbing my hands across the gate on his carrier. i had been nearly convinced while sitting on the bench inside, waiting, that i was having a heart attack. i tried to think of how i could work in a stop at an urgent care center on the way home, with a cat.

it subsided some with the crying. it had subsided earlier in the day with earlier crying.

after each call from dr. debender, i would experience a torrential downpour of tears and fear and hopeless helplessness. sometimes, i felt myself make a kind of grunting scream. i imagine there's a better word for it in the language somewhere. a gutteral sound.

i told brian, and the air when brian wasn't there, i cried to brian that i didn't want to do this again, that i wasn't ready, that he is my baby. that it wasn't fair because just the day before, i thought i had figured out the magic solution to this problem that would make him the cat he was just a handful of weeks ago. it was just tooth pain and lack of eating. and then i would tell brian in a cry too soft for him to hear that i wasn't going to do this again. that i didn't have to and i wouldn't. and then i would catch a glimpse of oskar's little lamby cat bed in front of me, empty, and the wailing would take me over again. like he was already gone and not just down the street fighting.

dr. debender kept apologizing for giving me rough news. she wanted to be honest. she kept mentioning that in the morning, after the numbers from another blood draw, we would make "some decisions". and i would hang up the phone and cry, cry, cry, cry. and then i would go back to denial to get some relief. i watched the television. things i really had no interest in watching, but that would provide some level of anxiety-ridden distraction. a fist had formed in my stomach.

one thousand dollars later, late in the day saturday, dr. debender ran the numbers again. they had been hovering around sky high. his potassium through the roof, threatening to calcify his organs, his arteries, his muscles. sounding cruel. inhumane.

i sat for the short time in between one call and the next and made a little daydream that oskar might, like ttyki, have nine lives. i spent the last six years with ttyki, thinking over and over that i was on the cusp of deciding her fate for her, only to have her bounce back. i think i also had an alarmist vet at the time. the one who told me ttyki had diabetes the first time followed immediately with a story about how her family agreed to kill any pet of theirs who developed diabetes. ttyki had me so used to her nine lives, that i still had a certain amount of denial the morning i took her in for the last time. nothing but skin and bones and matted hair. ears turning yellow. unable to walk. lying in the kitchen next to her own urine.

dr. debender called back. she used the word "shocked" when she told me about oskar's phosphorous levels. they had dropped to just above the high end of the normal range. his other readings were still high, but had come down moderately. i would take what i could get. i laughed. i giggled. after she suggested he could eat whatever he wanted to eat at this point in the game short of a pill pocket diet, i cracked a joke that he should take up smoking cigarettes and drinking shots of whiskey. she asked for a photo.

i was nervous picking him up. i wasn't sure what i was getting back. i kept thinking of "pet semetary" and how they're just not the same. he howled a few times on the way home. i carried him straight to my bed and opened the carrier. he sort of tumbled himself out and straight on to his little cat bed. if i hadn't read earlier in the day about what the toxins formed through acute kidney disease can do to a cat's limbs, i would have thought it was the most adorable thing ever. he smashed his little face all the way up to the top of his head into his bed while his little foreclaws curled around the edges and pulled it up close to him. like he had fallen to his knees and was kissing the ground. i was terrified it was a result of the disease.

he began panting. hard. i panicked. i ran for my phone and called and asked if dr. debender had left. she had. but brian was petting oskar and talking sweetly to him and while i stuttered and paused and left the girl on the other end of the line hanging, oskar seemed to calm down. i backed slowly out of the phone call.

as drifted to sleep on my lap later, i worried about whether the twitches were the signs of disease or just extreme exhaustion and stress. we would pet him and the twitches would subside for a bit.

the more i think about it, the more terrible i feel. for oskar, he was taken to a place he is utterly not used to and away from the only place he usually knows. he was abandoned by his mother with complete strangers who locked him in a cage near howling dogs and was delivered a barrage of needles in IV and syringe form. he was given an enema. feces were manually, digitally extracted. he was there for 30 hours. no explanation. no understanding. no knowledge of what might come next. it's pretty fucked up and it's no wonder he hugged his kitten bed and nearly passed out.

he spends the nights feeling restless. he switches between my legs and my torso. he walks in and out of the bathroom. it's another possible sign of a disease with lots of possible signs. lots of things to go wrong. lots of reasons for discomfort. a puzzle with pieces that don't fit easily together. pieces falling off the table and under the couch while you were working on the other edge.

i took him out on a lead in the backyard yesterday evening. he was a hair trepidatious, but he proceeded along with caution, sniffing grass and leaves, peering through the fence. trying to escape under the house... a real worry when you've got a cat who doesn't feel one hundred percent. maybe that's why he spent an afternoon and evening under the house several months ago.

to look at him today, he seems just about like the cat from a month ago. maybe a little slower. he appears slightly arthritic (the toxins screw with their hind legs and muscle coordination). he comes out in the morning expecting treats. his little bits of kitty candy. he dutifully eats up his homeopathic kidney support treats with a little urging. i offer him food 5, 6, 7 times a day. usually, with some praise and pets, he'll turn his nose up a couple of times and then commit to eating a spoonful or two. he drinks water readily. we give him subcutaneous fluids at home at night. he was feeling well enough last night to make a break for it, leaving the needle behind to stream IV fluids into my hair and across the bedspread. after a few days of forgetting pill pockets hide pills, he's figured out again to peel the layers off, leaving his quarter of a pepcid AC naked on the floor.

i struggle between the consequence of him not getting meds versus the stress of the cat burrito pilling method.

i give him lots of pets and my brain chamber echoes phrases like therapeutic massage, lymphatic massage. and i hope it's right.

i refuse to leave town anytime soon. i canceled with darren for the weekend. i canceled tonight with my sister. i removed myself from the annual family trip to austin in april. i worry that the stress of my absence during our trip to phoenix, combined with three visits from strangers pilling him, sent him on a downward sprial. i don't trust his fragile state. i don't know if tomorrow will be a different day.

i'm in a hurried struggle to learn some kind of acceptance of death. to learn an appreciation for the remainder of a life. to find some balance and a lot of courage for the heartbreak to come. i honestly don't know if it's a matter of days or months or years.

i don't know how to end this thing for now. so, i'm thinking THE END, which is what violet does every night after she makes up a story. this weekend, she told me a story about a ghost. it was very white, with invisible eyes. it went to the donut store and got a number of donuts that kept increasing. 100, 150, 380. lots of donuts. i think it shared its donuts with a friend. THE END.
6 dead X pick your poison

saying no to drugs. [Mar 7 2014 - Fri|09:25am]
it's day 9 of oskar's twice-daily antibiotics. and once daily hypertension meds. and once every three days anti-nausea meds.

he has some kind of kidney disease, though now i'm not sure if it's officially kidney disease until we retest him after the antibiotics. my vet doesn't feel very ... thorough? in her explanations. and she has this way of talking into the phone where i imagine the phone must be slipping off her shoulder every thirty seconds and muffling creatinine levels and blood in the urine until i point out i can't hear her. and i wonder how she hasn't corrected whatever this technicality is yet, considering she must make lots of phone calls every day. she's also one of those doctors who make you feel like an asshole for asking a question. she answers with a 'well, you know' intonation. kind of exasperated. maybe like that pediatrician we decided to stop seeing after violet was born because i was tired of feeling like her middle schooler.


last week, i desired strongly to have been the inventor of pill pockets. those gross little cylinder-shaped cat treats that give you a small amount of real estate for squishing a pill into. god, a brilliant idea.

oskar was having super fun times with his pill pockets. he's a treats-based cat. one morning, the pill fell straight out of it, but he was having such a good time, he just scooped it up and ate that, too. naked as the day it was manufactured.

somewhere along the way, he stopped inhaling his old pockets and discovered there was a not-tasty center. he began meticulously eating his pocket so that he peeled off layer by layer until the pocket was gone and the pill was there on the floor in a disgusting jam of saliva and dead animal phantoms.

he even managed to evacuate the half of a small pill from the pill pocket. like some kind of magician.

i turned to the internet and it showed me a vet pilling a cat so calm, i wasn't sure it was alive. she'd gently squeeze its jaws, gently open the bottom drawer, and just chatter away about pilling cats while that catue (that's cat + statue) just sat there. motionless. anyone with a cat like that sure as shit don't need to video on how to pill a cat.

i tried this with oskar. i learned he is part wild ferret. his bones are made of rubber. his anti-pilling resolve made of steel. i suffered an impalement in the palm of my hand. i, the christ of unpilled cats.

i turned to the cat burrito. i accepted the fact his tiny pawlettes were going to be swaddled under his chin, as he is the great houdini. come back as feline. there was much thrashing of head, but i managed to get the antibiotic down. we were both smudged in blue coating by the time it was over. his head would immediately stagnate upon consumption. perhaps he goes into shock. his tail hairs stay in shock for a good hour.

i was starting to feel triumphant after squeezing a few pills down this way. i got my confidence up. i gave him quality head pattings after, while he was still burritoed. the ineffectual cat-pilling video vet said to do this so he knows i'm not just some sadistic bitch in my goldening years.

today was the morning of three medications. i felt fairly comfortable that the pill pockets were no longer a sure fire way to administer health and i wanted to clear his mind of their trickery before we hop a red eye to phoenix saturday night and leave darren to pill the ferret.

i confidently grabbed oskar three times and slid his tearing claws across the bedspread and on to the tortilla before wrapping his neck like he was getting his beard set up for a hot shave. he pretended to be calm. and i thought. oh, no problem. we're sympatico on this. me and my friend.

the writhing over that blue pill was top notch. he could join the circus with those loose ligaments! he ejected it so far during one of the struggles, that it landed two feet away from where i thought it went. the little pills, he hid down in his wrappings. he did everything to avoid a pilling, just short of biting the fuck out of me, something ozzy wouldn't hesitate to do if you just pet him the wrong direction. ozzy, the cat who punched me in the eyeball the other morning for some kind of inexplicably illegal pet.

i thought i had finally at least gotten the large antibiotic down the chute before realizing it was on the bed a foot away, gleaming white at this point. i tried not to verbally berate him, but i admit i had begun to. i insulted his maturity level with my words.

in response, he mashed down on my thumb like his jaws were a car door. i yelped. i cursed. it wasn't until later i realized he had also punctured the side of my thumb. mind you, this is coming from a cat with no fangs. i had him defanged a year and a half ago.

I'M KIDDING. kind of. remember? his tooth fell out on the floor that one time? and the vet took out the other? and then neglected to tell me his creatinine levels were out of the normal range at that point and that dental issues are associated will ill-functioning kidneys? you didn't know that part, because i only just found out that part and i keep waiting for the vet to say that other vet fucked up. it ain't coming. it's sitting with the apology for not calling me for four days with urinalysis results.

bitter pills all around.
1 dead X pick your poison

hula hoops and macaroni. [Jan 16 2014 - Thu|04:50pm]
oliver gave himself a bloody nose today.

he had worked up what must have been some amazing hula hooping motion sufficient to cause it to go up and bang him square in the nose. he said you could see blood spatter on the ground.

he cried.

coach riley sent him face up with student violet to the nurse's office. she sat with him for a portion of what he estimates was 20 minutes before he returned to class with two kleenexes. kleenexes sure is a weird word.

i just finished honest to god convincing violet that one day each week while they are at school, i prepare macaroni and chreese with tofu and olives for oskar and ozzy. i told her they eat it with chopsticks. she also still believes that oskar goes to school every day. ozzy is a drop out.
3 dead X pick your poison

battle of the bulges. [Dec 11 2013 - Wed|02:47pm]
oh, livejournal.

i forsake you over and over again. with every minute of every day. your solitude weighs heavily on my mind. it is the number one sorrow in my brain and it produces a constant, frequently subconscious hum of neglect and ineptitude, painting every moment with grey cast. "there's something i should be doing there's something i should be doing."

there are one million other things i never get around to doing, but the fact that i can no longer manage to capture the moments i do accomplish makes me eternally sad. if i don't write it, it didn't happen. my memory cortex is made of soft cheese and it cannot hold on to these things on its own. it needs crackers. you're a cracker, livejournal. i've taken to photographing EVERY LAST THING EVER as a second line of defense. and then, i have so many photos, i can't bear the thought of processing them to add to the journal entry i never write.


i can't even remember what santa brought my children last year. i have nothing to refer back to. i watched some videos a took a month or two ago and thought, god, i barely remember that happening. without the video, it might as well have never happened. my memory is a mostly empty vessel. what remains is a serpentine path tracing phantom lines of confusion. i can never figure out if the story someone is telling me or the movie i am watching is making a new impression on my memory or if i have heard it three times before. my brain is dying. mark my words.

i blame facebook. for everything. it is the lazy man's journal. it is the CliffsNotes of life.

anyway. alright.

i became more of an old lady saturday morning around 10:30am.

we bolted out of bed at 9:18 after realizing the home depot kids' workshop was from 9a-12p. i had automatically assumed they wouldn't do that to a parent and would instead hold it during a respectable timeframe, like 1p-4p. we had been meaning to take oliver for years, but the times we actually thought about it were always days when something else was already happening, which is how it goes with children in one's life. and now, violet was already old enough to participate. so this was it. catie and maya are total home depot workshop veterans and they had firmly planted the idea in his head over thanksgiving break and he was not going to let us forget.

we were hosting jameson, due to the inclement ice weather, and since i'm the only one who thinks to take care of him, i was siphoning crudites into his carrot-shaped bowl. (you see, perhaps, why i'm the only one in the family who feels strongly averse to acquiring a new life form for the house.) so i had this piece of celery, it wasn't even a fully stalk, just this piece of celery, and i was bending about far enough to make one side on an equilateral triangle with a horizontal base, so that i could set it in the cage, which was elevated by our coffee table. elevated, not levitated. but wouldn't that be cool.

and then, as my head met the vertex, i had this sensation of one million tiny, hot explosions erupting straight across my lower back. like, where it tends to hurt when i stand for a long time and then finally sit down. the base of my swayback. i screamed. out loud. and then, i was kind of frozen in place, surrounded on every side by the promise of more pain. i was like jack tripper the day after he worked out too much to impress a chick in a french cut leotard. and the kids were maybe partially aware of my predicament, as kids tend to be. tears were coming out and i didn't know what to do with myself, other than continue squatting. i couldn't hardly breathe. i finally managed to lower myself the few remaining inches to the couch and continued gritting and crying. violet offered a hug and, remembering jack tripper, i declined, saying, "PLEASE DON'T TOUCH ME."

after getting no response from my screams of, "BRIAN," i begged oliver to encourage brian to get the fuck out of the shower already and oliver went to the door and hollered, "DADDY, HURRY UP!" and brian was like, "yeah, yeah. we'll home depot it out soon enough." in so many words.

somewhere in there, i managed to lean my torso to the left side. i kept crying.

sometimes, i think that maybe i no longer will cry if i get hurt, like a grown up. and then the kids wind up oskar on my lap until he takes off, shredding my twelve inches of my leg the whole way, and i learn: yes, as an adult, i will still cry. and scream.

brian finally came out of the bathroom and just streaked right on past me. i guess i always look like that when i'm sitting on the couch. bent in half the wrong way and with tears streaming down my face. so i pointed out to him that my back had just blown out. he probably helped me stand up. and then i made these ridiculouse tiny hobblesteps across the sitting area room place and down the two stairs into the kitchen, while holding on to the wall and counter. i eventually consumed an ibuprofen and continued to cry due to the pain and the ridiculousness and my immediate and brutal disqualification from the day's events and a deep down fear of becoming an old lady who felt this way at all times.

side bar:
toward the end of my 30s, i began to appreciate them for what they had been. a time of greater emotional stability and a time to learn just a whole lot about myself and the world around me. i decided to try and appreciate my 40s from the beginning. because it was either that, or cry wildly into my soup. gross.

in the past six months, i have developed a very deep, visceral understanding that, with any luck, i will become old AND DIE. i mean, we all know that. but it's kind of this wispy, fluttering fact. way off in the distance. it doesn't seem real. well, one night (these things always come under the cover of darkness), i just became very aware of it. it wasn't outside anymore. it was coming from inside me. my fate. inescapable. one of those moments where you feel like you can't breathe right and were sliding down a slope. into a pit. and you have to try really hard to shed just the right brand of light on the situation to try and turn things around. lemons into lemonade. accepting the things you cannot change.

so here was this back explosion. just staring me in the face. taunting me. showing how easily it can lift a finger a debilitate me. i hadn't been doing anything strenuous. something where i could say, "oh ho... let's not do that again!" oh no. it just chose a completely random, seemingly innocuous moment to flick its wrist and knock me down.

since everyone was running late, i had to pretty quickly admit a solid defeat and i retreated to the bed. i spent the better part of saturday and sunday there. fortunately, we had figured out that the simple act of shutting the door transforms our bedroom from a meat locker into an oven, so at least i was cozy. but every movement shot pain through my back. i began feeling like i had growing pains in my right leg, which was also the side that gave me problems when taking baby steps. getting up, getting down, adjusting my body, staying in one position for too many minutes... it all hurt.

my physical therapist friend said it sounds like a classic case of a bulged disc. and that just makes me want to throw up. i dared to google it and she seems to be making a good call. i made the mistake of reading about bulging discs where they are likened to rings of onion with jelly in the middle. barf barf barf.

aaron brought aidan over for a few minutes that afternoon. oliver had left his hat at their house during a brief playdate the afternoon prior while i spent time making childfree chili. they returned it and then accidentally introduced oliver to angry birds on our roku. his first gaming experience and he was hooked verily. we're going to have to channel that to something more constructive and restrained timewise.

after a brief nap, i poked my head out a bit to say hello and aaron sprinted home to bring me their heat up-able rice pack. our neighbors are really super nice.

i managed to stand long enough to make tofu ramen for children while brian battled the roads to bring me some of the best pad kee mow ever to grease up my mouth. that sounds gross.

i neglected to mention we were iced in for days. kind of. we technically only stayed in one day. but kids were out of school fri AND mon.

sunday, i finally left the house for the first time in three days to go see santa at violet's school. upon our arrival, violet was completely horrified by the prospect of being in the same general area as santa and she spent a lot of time standing behind me and pulling my arm, despite being a good distance away. oliver went with brian to listen to the story and then both children acted like they could not be more ready to go. brian was suffering with diarrhea and my back was aching so we said, fuck this, let's go. and oliver immediately decided he did want to get a photo taken. we stood in line, got a shot of him looking like shaun cassidy, procured his complimentary candy cane and magical jingle bell (it rings when santa breaks into your house!) and then drove way over to freebirds to pick up dinner. by the time we were driving back, i was about ready to cry again. it felt like my back was squeezing its own self.

we returned home to fire trucks on the other side of the block...Collapse )
2 dead X pick your poison

tubeworking. [Nov 8 2013 - Fri|09:00am]
yesterday morning, i acquiesced to violet's school's request to relinquish our germy toilet paper tubes to the mother's day out children so that they might fashion them into something festive. [WHAT COULD BE MORE FESTIVE THAN TOILET PAPER TUBES IN THEIR NATURAL STATE?]

i obligingly arrived with four toilet paper tube fingers outside violet's room and ms. kalindi muled up and offered to complete the delivery for me. their was a quasi-intimate transfer process where we both were wearing the tubes.

i had this thought this morning while i was in the bathroom. i wasn't toileting, for once, but was putting on my face or yellow birding my hair with the yellow bird hair dryer.

it's the next great idea in social networking.

everyone gets a toilet paper tube to carry around on their finger.

stick with me.

we've all got a toilet paper tube and when we encounter someone, like our cashier or a friend, you swap tubes. or someone with whom there is at least a small interaction. maybe even just passing someone and saying hello, though now that's making me think of earl and souring me. let's push through that.

during the alpha stage of this project, like when you sign up with your tube from the recycling, you'll have some basic level of information on it. name, contact info. and you're swapping, swapping, all day long.

at some predetermined interval of time, say midnight every tuesday, everyone takes note of who is on their current tube and has a little lunch or coffee date with that person. it's like that guy who takes the photos of people on the street who are strangers to each other, but then he makes them pose with their hands on each others thorax and now they've grown their hearts three sizes.

now, not to demolish the delightfully primitive nature of this experiment... the beta version of the toilet paper tube could include a small, simple device that logs each interaction in a social family tree. a trajectory of the tube's travels. just so one can blow one's mind on occasion.

since we've introduced technology, the gamma version could include a function where once a month, it compiles a list of the members of the past X encounters and groups them accordingly and then sends out emails to make a group gathering. kind of like that documentary where the guy lives off craigslist and crosses the country for a month and then has a party for everyone when he gets back home.

i wanted to put this all out in writing to preserve my integrity as the idea-maker. [let's forget about the photographer and the documentarian, just for purity's sake.]

i heard on the radio last night that there were 12 people in the room when twitter was born, but one of them took that ugly, truncated baby and ran into the night with it. sold it on the black market for billions.
pick your poison

a little late for halloween, but maybe you'll take me more seriously. [Nov 8 2013 - Fri|08:35am]
my sister and i have started having monthly date nights at a starbucks in arlington. it was supposed to be monthly for some time, but i don't know, three months would pass with no klatsching. we got smart and started arranging our next date at the end of our active date.

anyway. we go to coffee about once a month. no children. no grandbabies. only short phone calls and texts, because my sister cannot be left alone. she's the family glue.

i have a bladder that likes to stay active, so i was in the restroom and returned to lisa, that's my sister, on a phone call with her husband, jeff. she reminded me about how they think their house is haunted and refreshed my alzheimers with the details from the past two years. ~~~~~~

-dylan, her teenaged son, heard lisa turn on the dryer in the middle of the night. it's on the other side of his bedroom wall and woke him up. he went to go turn it off, but it wasn't on.

-ashleigh, her early 20s daughter who lived with her until recently, had a couple of instances of going into her bedroom and shutting her door behind her and then finding it locked when she went to leave.

-a couple of weeks ago, ashleigh was there by herself around dusk and saw something black move quickly past the window near the front door. she said it was too fast to be a car.

-the following week, around dusk, my sister came home to find dylan sitting on top of a little tykes slide, holding a plastic bat. he had been home alone when the bell rang. they have a long entry hall and two of those skinny windows on either side of the door. he didn't see anything move past them and assumed kids were ringing and running. he went outside, checked the side yards, looked down the street, walked to the corner and looked up and down that street and found no one. he then decided it was a trick to get him out of the house so some ne'er do wells could get into the house. it's creepier when you combine this bullet point with the last one.

-one afternoon, lisa was taking a nap on her bed. she heard the vent fan come on and thought dylan had gone in there. it turned back off, but dylan had not been in there.

which brings us to last night and jeff's phone call. he had been home alone and sitting on their bed watching tv when the fan came on again. and then turned off a minute later.

so. i'm telling her to wiggle that door handle and make sure it isn't slowly getting turned to the lock position and get a ladder and check for loose wires in her exhaust fan before it burns their house down, etc. i mean, i used to watch ghost hunters. i can be a critical thinker.

i get home a little after 10pm and i'm standing in the barely lit kitchen with brian and telling him all that stuff up there and i get to that part with the doorbell


i'm thinking.

but my critical thinking skills haven't gone completely out the window of our dark, old house. because i installed this wireless doorbell way back, which managed to have the same frequency as the wireless doorbell that esteban just happens to have on his house across the street and we get his doorbells all the time in the afternoon. but at 10pm? that man has three small children.

brian sneaks up to our front door, with all its windows, and i've left the porch light on and no one is out there. and we realize esteban's front porch light isn't on, which it usually is, and we're straining to see if we can make out a person standing over and brian thinks he does and i think i don't. and we had to have been engaging in all this mania for at least a minute or two and i never saw anyone leave the front porch nor the front door open. and now i'm wondering why i didn't persevere. it was probably because i wanted a snack.

ps: ricky and fernando are shuttling up to mansfield this afternoon to stay with ricky's parents. ricky, fernando, and ricky's mom are total ghost magnets. i don't know why fernando stays in their haunted house. he had a shadow man strangulation event visit before last. he texted the living room for help.
5 dead X pick your poison

aug. 4, 2013: i had a birthday. [Nov 7 2013 - Thu|10:40am]
once upon a time, one million years ago, i turned 41 and made a half-baked attempt to chronicle the experience...

a field birthday flowers from my parents, with a violet in the middle.

i was sleeping it off on the couch sunday morning when oliver arrived from his bedroom and said, "mommy?"

i anticipated a request to watch television and said, somewhat unenthusiastically, "what."


and my day was made right there. he showed himself capable of thinking of someone other than himself, without prompting.

the night before, i had what is, these days, an uncharacteristic outing with darren. he had extended a birthday celebration the monday prior. he came to the house loaded with belated birthday contraband for the children and a belated housewarming for us.

oliver: jesus action figure, 3D puzzles that formed duck and rabbit figurines, united states bingo.
violet: a multi-colored tea set, marie antoinette action figure. i think her head is already missing.
house: a sturdy, party-sized cutting board, a packet of lettuce seeds, alessi bottle opener.
bonus bag, which i was instructed to give to children later (but later when?): melissa & doug three tiered cake, dinosaur cookie cutters.

we darted away quickly to the magnolia and all the perils of parking in the garage. as darren has typically already seen most all available movies, our selection was limited. we chose crystal fairy and the magical cactus and 2013. michael cera. hairy, naked gaby hoffmann. drugs. a beach. i expected a fast-moving plot, but it turned out to be slice of life. with a perplexing, out of place ending.

we moved on to meridian room, where i found it was just as lonely in there as the saturday night i spent there with ramen back in earliest of early june. same bartender. same lack of delirium tremens. i felt the occasion called for a mixed drink and i ordered the mojito, for a summertime flair. i keep forgetting that ordering the franziskaner on tap results in the delivery of a lumbering, headache-making vessel.

we began to head out. i played ms pac man/galaga on the dead machine while darren took the piss out of himself and then realized it was 11:50. i didn't want to be in a car when i became another year pickled. darren asked if he needed to buy me another drink. i asked the bartender for a cape cod with two straws. the bartender said, "what's a cape cod?" we took our annual drinking selfies and climbed in my car. back home, darren's car threatened to not start, but then did.

so there i was, birthday morning, feeling happy over my little boy's selflessness. i wandered off to my bed to try and catch a little more sleep, which is next to impossible once the children are up and the sun is streaming in the sliding door in our bedroom, curtain be damned. impossible, unless one is made of brian. the children brought in a pound of excitement and the birthday cards they had made for me.

brian got up and put television shows on for the children and then, i'm told, went to sleep in violet's bed. i think i managed to drift in and out of slumber before finally committing myself to settle the children's excitement regarding a birthday breakfast tea party they had fashioned out of violet's new wares and daddy's grape juice and some old droste dark chocolate pastilles from easter (i hope, and not xmas). but before exiting beddom, i opened the cards they had made for me.

over at the old dinner table,...Collapse )
5 dead X pick your poison

bully. [Sep 17 2013 - Tue|09:03am]
god. i'm totally unsettled this week, only two days in.

violet's school has really hammered down their policy of everyone buzzing in the doors before 8:15. i'm always there by 8:00. violet puts her lunch box away, puts her name card in a box and we walk up the hall to visit jameson, the jenny pig. yesterday morning, as we were standing at the jenny aquarium, a woman was being all frantic and dramatic knocking on the door we were a couple of yards from. the sun was streaming straight into my face and it kind of looked like she was pressing the intercom button, but i wasn't sure. so i smiled and made the universal hand gesture for PUSH THE BUTTON RIGHT THERE. she did the knock and what appeared to be the button push, but i didn't know why she was still knocking if she was pushing a button, so i repeated my smiley hand gesture.

to date this year, everyone's been totally patient with this process and good about not opening the door so they wouldn't feel guilty for not opening the door. so i was feeling rather comfortable at this point by not opening the door.

the woman was buzzed in shortly. she entered and in a kind of chirpy voice said, "why didn't you open the door for me?! couldn't you see i had my hands full?!?!"

and i was like ?.

i hadn't had time to prepare for my encounter and i'm really only good at encounters when they're playing out in my head ten minutes after a real encounter, which is probably for the best in order to save face later.

and so i said, "sorry, it's a school rule."

frankly, i hadn't seen her hands were full because she had put all these bags of class snacks on the bench and i was being blinded by the light and, frankly, i was not checking her and her situation out. i would have been happy to help the person who was buzzed in and said, "excuse me... would you mind holding the door open while i carry in these bags? thanks!" but apparently, that person had not arrived yet.

she hustled all her shit in and went away and i ignored her and later in my car, i became rather stressed out and irritated about it. i really don't enjoy interactions like that, AT ALL. did this woman not realize she's going to see my ass in front of that jenny pen every single morning for the rest of her life this school year?

the school administrator mentioned in an email yesterday afternoon that she had heard about it. this morning, miss ashley, whose room opens right across from jameson, said she had been sitting at her desk and heard. my feelings were very well validated and she made attempts to figure out who it was. i don't think she would take issue with shaming the culprit. she has her sunshiney ways.

at pick up yesterday, oliver's teacher kind of quietly mouthed into the air over his head that he had had some difficulties that day and she would email me.

I saw him today in the hallway before lunch crying and he looked lost so I called him over to me and he got real upset. I tried to talk to him but he wouldn't say. The other kids in the class did say a couple of things like " he just started crying for no reason" and "he always cries in her class." That might have embarrassed him. I don't know what triggered it. Ms. Cameron days he gets upset everyday almost. She can't tell what triggers it either.

sink, sank, sunk.

i had tried talking to him at bedtime, because i could see his nerves were up. nothing. he says he can't remember what upsets him.

i tried talking to him over breakfast this morning. he was talking at first, saying he gets upset when they have to change rooms. then he clammed up again. i couldn't even get a dependable head shake or nod out of him.

then, on the way down the sidewalk out front of his school, i saw some larger boys next to a group of kids on benches. the red head had the blonde in a headlock. at first i thought they might be goofing around. then a second, sustained headlock while being bent toward the ground. and i hollered sternly out ahead of me, "HEY. LET HIM GO. WHAT'S GOING ON?"

and he let go.

i can't stop being surprised when confronted with children who have no fear/respect for an adult. i don't know what to do with it. i'm totally clotheslined. sideswiped. aflutter.

again, i mention how i don't do well in these situations. i feel my nerves light up from my stomach to the top of my head. i feel warm. i feel light. but in bad, disconcerting ways. adrenaline launching upwards in a warm flood.

this kid, at least five feet tall, was standing there, looking me right in the face. telling me it's none of my business. pulling out what must be new to him, "you're not my mother. you're not his mother." GOOD ONE, SPORT. i informed him he was correct that i was not their mother and addended that i am not required to be anyone's mother to keep someone from being hurt.

i looked toward the school and there was not a teacher or administrator to be found. i tried hollering to the open far away doors, "IS THERE A TEACHER AVAILABLE?"

at this point, Red said, "i don't go to this school."

"why are you here?"

apparently, it's a bus stop. i guess for the middle school. that explained the hugeness of all those fifth graders on the benches.

i hollered again for a teacher and one of the girls said she'd go get one.

Red continued to talk, staring straight at my face, about how it's none of my business.

the victim had been saying something about how he didn't have any of Red's stuff.

a teacher came sauntering up saying something like, "so, Mr. LASTNAME. what's going on here?" obviously, he had had a reputation at the elementary school.

she didn't say thank you. i thanked her for her help and walked oliver to the doors. i explained that's what bullying looks like and we don't stand for it and we help people out and we tell a teacher. and that boy is a shithead.

on my way back up, i saw the kids had already boarded the bus. i thanked the teacher again. she continued to not give a shit. and i wondered if i had made things worse for Blonde. i wondered what was happening on the bus. i wondered if his mother would be told. i wondered if she'd kick his ass.

i hated that i hadn't been prepared for this. that an 11 year old got my goat. i would have liked to have explained that he should find an appropriate way to deal with other people. that surely he doesn't feel good about this when he goes to bed at night. that he obviously has something going on in his life that has put him where he is. hassling kids on the sidewalk.

jesus. it's only tuesday morning.
17 dead X pick your poison

oliver and the case of the missing jitters. [Sep 13 2013 - Fri|09:50am]
oliver has had a first week of school, a week of beach vacation, and a third week of school.

every afternoon, i stand outside trying not to sweat, and then sweating, and then picking him out of a line up while he looks anxiously over the tops of second graded heads for me. during the car ride to pick up violet, he answers all of my questions and indicates how things are basically hunky dory. he even has this new, little man way of answering me with these reassuring, what-else-!, high-pitched answers. "yeah!" "of course!"

the only moments where i've had concern, and nearly tears, are when he says he plays alone on the playground after lunch and i say,

"have you tried asking some other children if you could join them?"

and he says,

"mmmm, yes."

and i say,

"so, how did it go?"

and he says, his voice dropping down real tiny,

"they say no, they're already playing."

then he started mentioning a girl named violet in his class. i was quite excited to hear this, but also wondering if he wasn't making it up and at a loss for a good name for an imaginary friend. i have since confirmed she is not imaginary.

this week, he said he has been playing tag with a girl in his class named emma. she is very fast and he can never catch her. i asked if she has long legs.

he tells me his teachers are nice and none of the students are mean or unruly. it sounds like socializing ain't high up on the scale, but what can you do.

he tried to play hooky wednesday. told me he had a fever. felt nauseous. i called him out on it. he's gone straight back to dragging his feet in the morning. having to gather papers to shove in a binder to shove in a backpack when i'm already out the door. he came out wednesday morning dressed in a rabbit tshirt. he misplaced his homework sheet for two days and we were scrambling with the overload of ridiculous busy work thursday and yesterday. i've been really irritated about it. snapping whips.

wednesday night, i went to tuck him into bed and he was face down in his pillow. i said, "goodnight, oliver." and he didn't answer or roll over to give me a hug and kiss and a, "goodnight, mommy!". after a moment or two of prodding, i could see he was crying, or about to cry. and then he really started crying. i sat down. he crawled on to my folded knee. i started getting dead leg.

i asked him over and over why he was crying. he wouldn't respond. wouldn't respond. typical oliver behavior. i started with the 20 questions. and he finally started saying something about how he heard they how they were only going to be in ms. cameron's class the rest of the year and he said he didn't like her so much, but couldn't remember why, and i wasn't quite buying that. and he wanted to change classes, he didn't want to change classes. he was all over the place.

i told him i would email his homeroom teacher so he could see things are cool, and i did. and she said they had been discussing some small change in front of some students, which didn't seem particularly wise in my opinion, especially in hindsight.

He overheard another student say that today. We had a conversation that some students overheard about switching in the morning. We are trying to see what is better but we have considered not switching right away in the morning because it will allow for more instructional time once breakfast in the classroom starts. I didn't go into any further detail with students but I did tell the other student that they would be keeping the same schedule for now. Also, Ms. Cameron was concerned about Oliver today. She said that he began to cry when she told them what they were going to be doing in class for the day. She did have another student who has befriended Oliver to speak with him but he did not feel like talking. I have noticed this as well when I asked him about the bag you dropped off. He started to cry when explaining the bag to me. I keep reassuring him that everything is ok. I hav him sitting and working with a very helpful student who he seems to open up to more. I'm sure it will take him a bit to adjust. There have been a few changes to classroom routines that have thrown him off but the other student has been helping. If I can help in any other way please let me know.

i saw her response that night and it made me feel a little tail-spinny. the rug pulled out from under my post-vacation vertigo head. i had no idea he had been freaking out and crying. we talked about that treat bag that afternoon. did she get it? did she understand what it was for? he answered my questions like not a single thing out of the ordinary had happened.

i saw ms. cameron two seconds after sending oliver in the front door yesterday morning. she was RIGHT behind me, and i wondered if she had heard my is-ms-cameron-not-nice discourse during our walk up to the building. she made a face and some noises that made me know she was going to tell me about the crying and i let her know i had corresponded with ms. guerra. we chatted for a couple of minutes, which was nice. it's reassuring to spend some amount of time with the people who are with your children more during the day than you are.

just, anyway. my heart just totally sunk and i felt double plus XXL guilty for having laid into oliver REALLY HARD with my frustrations over the morning foot draggings and disheveled homeworkiness. i neglected to take my new daily walk. which made me feel worse. i ate my lunch for breakfast. which made me feel worse.

he came out yesterday acting all cool again. who knows!? who knows if it was all cool? 'cause i don't. i guess he'll get through it like he did last year, but it sure would be nice to have an accurate emotional barometer and know he isn't headed straight down the path to be one of those bottle-up-your-emotions guys.

i tried really hard and did pretty well yesterday afternoon and the during the two mornings to stay calm during all the frustrating behaviors. it took ALL afternoon and evening, up until bedtime to get him through the rest of his busywork. i even kept it together at bedtime, when i found another pile of stuff shoved behind his bed. my screwdriver. violet's missing scissors, after he said he didn't know where they were and was giving her guff over using his. hrmph.

i chopped up my hairs last night. they were bothering me. this morning, the right side of my hair looked like i put in some kind of fancy scrunchy waves, and i left it that way. but really, it just says what side of my head i lay on when i watch the nighttime television.
pick your poison

another first day is over with. [Aug 26 2013 - Mon|01:18pm]
oh, god. well. okay. so, we've been building up for ages to this big first day of second grade at a new school, hexter, for oliver. three years, three schools.

i've been trying to plant seeds of positive reenforcement in his little brainfield. remind him how quickly he got settled in and made friends at stonewall last year. all the fun things they did.

the thing with oliver is, he's my child who makes me feel like a total ass for not homeschooling. no matter how fun the grade/school/teacher/friends, he will always choose being at home with his grumpy mother. he asked me yesterday why he has to go to school and i felt kind of shitty for knowing he doesn't HAVE to. but i know full well i am completely incapable of giving him a quality homeschool experience. i'm a straight up mess, purely. i really wish i weren't and could keep him home, and that there is a statement i thought i wouldn't say in a hundred years, before i had my first baby. i apparently didn't know my mother self back then, because i was just wrong all over the place.

we went to open house last thursday afternoon. three heavy bags of school supplies were hefted down the block and onto a desk community in his homeroom. turns out they have two teachers this year. he takes off for math and science in the morning with the teacher next door. after some mysterious outside-funded free breakfast, one which a person cannot opt in or out of. i don't understand where the leftover breakfasts go. where do they go?

we met his teachers and another student. RJ, previously of the dilapidated house behind us, turned up. he's in oliver's class. we're trying to decide how we feel about that. he's a terribly sweet, polite boy. he's also a boy who enjoys fistfighting for pleasure. like he's from 1952. i forgot to tell brian i could see the faintest hint of a star faded into the side of RJ's blonde crew cut. it's how i knew he was from modern times.

we get to last night, and i'm tucking oliver in bed. i ask him one last time how he's feeling about the first day. and he said okay. and then he engaged in his half giggling-half eye wiping behavior. which equals distress, in oliver vernacular. and, as expected, my heart chisels itself in two and plops over in its own dried out heart dust. i lean over and hug him and run my fingers through his hair, while he hangs on to my neck. we do this for about five minutes, me hoping he'll fall asleep and not languish in bed with the terrible first day anxiety rumbling through his brain, courtesy of mommy. i try that infant thing, where you run your finger around on the bridge of their nose. and you could see the primitive section of his brain remembering it and wanting to go to sleep. and then you could see the seven year old section of his brain shaking it off. i really wanted to put him to sleep, for old time's sake. for the sanctity of Missing Things When They're Gone.

after many more neck grabs and hugs and kisses and pettings, i eventually stood up to let him get sleep.

i was up, dark and early, at 6:10am. which is the same as 6:09am, pre-phone alarm days. i felt grumpy that brian wasn't bolting out of bed with me, and then i later felt grumpy that he wasn't planning on going to oliver's first day, considering the school is super close and starting earlier this year. i have to have him to the auditorium by 7:50, or to his room by 8:00. jesus.

i had made the fancy pancakes last night, so they were ready to go. i stuffed ramen and tofu into lunch cans. he had also requested half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an apple. he didn't know there would also be pita chips and peanuts. to tuck inside his lunch box, i folded a bright, yellow piece of cardstock in half and drew stars on the front of it. inside, i wrote, "oliver: i hope you're having a great first day of second grade! enjoy your lunch! i love you, mommy". i had done the same for violet last week, only she cain't read none, so i cut out a pink heart, folded it in half, and wrote inside, "Violet :)," only not on its side. 'cause she don't text or facebook or even email.

oliver's hair wouldn't simmer down, because i kept forgetting to trim it over the past several weeks. he chose a blue on blue outfit with grey shoes, as he's already missing one half of his new school shoes. as is violet, dammit.

when we go to the new gecko hardware store, oliver has been buying these little sparkly fabric sea turtles on keychains. one is called Backpack Turtle. i think the other is Golden Turtle. i reminded oliver we had discussed placing one in each of his pockets, so that he'd have a friend nearby if he felt scared.

we got in the car. we drove to the school. we parked in the church parking lot. there were tables set up by the parishoners, dispensing water, coffee, and capri sun. it was pleasing to see them out there... sharing their parking lot and beverages and well wishes. we were gently scolded for crossing in the middle of the street, so i was confused why they had children dressed in safety orange aprons standing there, as if.

we were still composed upon entering the school. i asked oliver if i should be taking his photo on campus and he declined. i pointed out the auditorium as we passed it and reminded him that is where i will drop him off after today. we walked some more and passed shiny, shiny teachers at each of their doors, full make up and new outfits. teeth glinting. i reminded oliver of his homeroom number, in case he needs to go to the bathroom on his own.

we found a multi-colored circle-covered name tag on his locker. no sharing this year. he reached as high as he could to hang his new garden critters lunchbox and old american apparel backpack on the hooks. he closed the door with a stonewall slam and watched it rebound a little. we pushed it to. then, he sensed my impending departure and turned to tears.

i could see him struggling to regain composure. but he couldn't. i leaned down and grabbed on to him, stroked his hair. told him he had the power inside him to make it a good day. RJ would be inside and would help him. he just had to sit back and let the day go where it was scheduled.

after a minute of trying and failing to stop crying. we moved the last couple of yards to the door and watched another little boy go effortlessly, tearlessly, fearlessly in. the tears had started again. i looked up at ms. guerra and mouthed, "he's upset." i gave him a few more rubs and he sucked it in one last time.

"would you like to shake your teacher's hand and tell her good morning?" he put his little montessori hand out and she took it. she held on to it while she said something very quietly to him and i began to move to the other side of the door. i lingered there because i didn't want him to look back one last time and not see me there.

but he didn't. he disappeared inside and i turned to walk back down the hall. my eyes were trying very hard to leak. my nose was sniffling. i wanted nothing more than to fall on the floor and let it out. but we had gotten out of the room more quickly this year than last, and there were people everywhere still, and i couldn't walk three blocks in tear rain without drawing considerable attention.

on the other hand, i can't pay violet enough to skip school. every night, she still climbs up on my lap at bedtime to spin her rainbow-striped yarns about imaginary animals and mothers (she has two now, imaginary mothers... she needed another to make the pancakes). she asks me if i'll be sad while she's gone to school and hangs out with the lunch bunch. and i tell her i will be sad, but i'll be okay. last night, i tried on the idea of her being in the lunch bunch, lunch bunch, lunch bunch, lunch bunch, and then MORNING CHILD on fridays. she could have lunch with me. ME! and she said what amounted to a no thank you. she didn't understand how she could not be in the lunch bunch. even maya might be switching to full time all the time because of the lunch bunching going on up there. i hear she didn't want to go home on friday.

so here i am with my first taste of empty nesting. it's a very confusing, conflicted feeling. i can't decide how much i should mourn violet's full time departure and how much i should let it go.

an hour ago, i drove by hexter's playground, slowly, knowing it was time for oliver's grade to go out there post-lunch. it took a rotation or two before i finally spotted him. he was running up to the wavy orange slide at the far corner of the playground. i was elated. he was running. he was playing. but i was sad to see he didn't have five or six girls running madly after him, like his first day on the playground last year. i circled one last time and saw him trying to jump from toadstool to toadstool on his own. but he looked like he was having a good time.

i seriously do see the glamour of being childfree. all this business really ages a person. it scrapes your nerves clean.

violet, feeling a little left out.

jameson, violet's school jenny pig.

7 dead X pick your poison

[Aug 19 2013 - Mon|08:27pm]
i’m having some depth of sorrow stuff over here tonight.

it’s been building over the last week. the first real pangs of it hit when i turned to look over my right shoulder at violet sitting in her carseat. it’s been threatening to take hold the past couple of nights. when my defenses were low and confused.

tomorrow is violet's first day of school. it's her first day going full days.

i'm having all this sadness on one tier because, you know, of course. she's my last baby. this is a big step. it's a big deal. for the past four years i haven't been more than three hours in a day without her. three hours was a blip.

but the second tier, the one that's really tearing me to moist shreds is that this is the last year she could NOT go full days. she'll be in kindergarten next year. kindergarteners HAVE to go full days. (unless i homeschool.) but this year, she doesn't HAVE to. and yet, she is. and it's killing me. a lot. i'm giving away this chunk of her childhood when i don't HAVE to.

in montessori, second year primary is the year when they stay in the classroom after lunch, as opposed to going to nap, and begin laying the foundation of all these cool learning techniques. i confirmed this with mrs. baily last year at our last conference, hoping she'd shrug and say, "oh, they don't do so much. just keep her home." claire is going half days. maya is going three half and two whole. i felt kicked in the stomach when i realized this recently.

i've always felt such terrible guilt over having oliver in full days since he was two. just really terrible. i had started a new, full-time job from home and felt like i needed to, like i was supposed to, and it just went from there. now, i look back and two seems so painfully young to me. at the time, i felt lucky to have been able to have him with me full time for a whole two years. plenty of parents only get a couple of weeks, maybe months, before they have to return to a job.

i just finished carrying her, violet, to bed and tucking her in. i gave her kisses and hugs. i put a ponytail in her hair. she talked about crocodiles and sandwiches. i felt her ripping away from me. my daytime companion. my lunch buddy.

my face started to screw up against my will. i felt like i was swallowing pebbles.

"why do you look mad?"
"i'm not mad. i'm sad."
"are you sad because i'm going away?'
"yes. i'll miss you a lot."
"hey, mom. i gotta tell you something. i’ll be back."

the irony being she climbed off my lap and gave me a nest she had made out of construction paper this afternoon.

i just want to cry for all i'm worth.
12 dead X pick your poison

tornadoes. [May 21 2013 - Tue|09:29am]
god. so, all this tornado stuff.  layererd on top of everything else that can and does go wrong in this world, i just feel this incredibly heavy sense of doom.  there's a predator out there and you can't stop it.  maybe you think you can cheat your way out of it if you can just wedge yourself between a commode and a wall and hang on, but then you see blocks and blocks and blocks of buildings leveled.  there ain't a fucking thing you can do then.  trees have no branches.  massive oaks pulled from the ground.  you know.  you've seen.

and i definitely can't stand hearing about all these little kids. thinking of them terrified in the hallway with a useless social studies book clasped to the tops of their heads.  hearing a building tearing apart.  being crushed.  or drowned.  i just keep crying.  more missing, more missing.  9 children dead for now.  more coming. more coming.

that's what they teach us down here. hunker under a 25 pound desk with a book on your head and pray to god.  i'm not even kidding.  this is how we practiced (minus the instruction to pray to god).  when i was in elementary school, there wasn't even a hallway to go into.  they didn't send you to the gym or the cafeteria.  we schooled in a low-slung mid-century building on top of a hill... a string of classrooms with picture windows on either side.  book shelves on the bottom and miles of non-safety glass on top.  we would have been safer running down the hill and flattening ourselves into the bottom of the creek across the road.

i didn't want to take my children to school today, but i doubt it's safer here. we live in a matchbox house. i guess it's better than where i was a year ago, sitting in a second story condo closet with violet and hoping st james kept oliver safe and calm. but i am wondering if moving to a place called Old Lake Highlands was a smart move. i guess we think we're hot shit being on top of a hill. i'm hoping a tornado would just slide off of it.

we're a consumerist society.  we've made all of this stuff and then it literally blows around and does it's best to kill us.  a woman in texas last week, cleburne, i suppose, said she was dropping her kids in the tub when all of a sudden, shit was just punching through the walls of her house.  just cracking right through.  in moore, they said entire fucking CURBS just up and blew threw the air and landed at the school.  that school did not have its own curbs, initially.  a giant, steel oil tank flew half a mile.

as you may or may not know, brian grew up in okc (the city with the most tornado strikes in the US... a place to call home!) and went to college in moore.  until a couple of years ago, his brother lived in moore (now in okc, a few miles away).  brian's facebook feed is littered with horror.  one of  his good friends from childhood, scott, lost their home.  fortunately, he and his family weren't home at the time.  another friend lost a house she was renting.  i back-read her feed and saw her frantically trying to find out if her child, a student at plaza towers, was safe.  she was in the upper grades, which were evacuated.  someone he went to school with has a nephew missing from a daycare.  twice, i've seen photos from the national media pop up on an fb feed as someone's neighborhood or long-time friend.  like, this shit's real.  the obama administration didn't shoot it on a sound stage and sell it as an instrument of fear of climate change.

i feel totally helpless.  i've always been terrified of tornadoes. chronic tornado nightmares since childhood. i slept on the couch last night because we were supposed to have storms and i wanted to be able to switch on the tv, though there's a disturbing lack of weather information when it happens in the middle of the night.  i will stay awake for hours in the middle of the night watching radars during storms to make sure a funnel isn't just going to drop straight out of the fucking sky on to my house.  you really don't have a lot of time. we thought we were finally in the clear last week, when i spent two hours last week shaking and watching weather radars religiously before hiding in the bathroom. i was up to get the kids 30 seconds before the sirens even sounded... there was a protracted rumbling.  not thunder (i guess it was thunder), but it was rumbling on and on, like it was truck on the street outside our house.  they teach you here that the sky will turn green or yellow and then there's the sound of a freight train.  it was the freight train noise just going and going and i thought, this is it.  it's here right now.  it's right outside our house.

i'm shaving off time from my life with all this anxiety.  it's coming again today.  look at what my neighbor posted on my facebook.  i seriously wonder if i'm an idiot for not grabbing my whole family and driving away right now.  am i going to regret just sitting here?

if we weren't already mired down with the requirements to fix our foundation, replace our shower, replace our roof, replace brian's car, and pay for one hundred other things, i am not kidding that my ass would be searching for an underground shelter.  i don't see how else you're supposed to survive a mile-wide behemoth with a 2.5 mile debris footprint.

i wonder if the two texas ex-pats i saw on facebook lamenting the lack of tornado sirens in their life still feel that way.  one said he schedules trips home in an attempt to coincide.  that's not shit to mess around with.
5 dead X pick your poison

fun with kids. [May 10 2013 - Fri|03:59pm]
this morning, i don't know why, i told the children that oskar attends school and has for six years. after i drop them off, i help oskar dress in his school uniform and put on his four, little shoes and i take him to school and then i pick him up again before i get violet.

violet just asked if oskar was back from school. as she pet him. oliver wanted to know what he had for snack.

i like picturing oskar in a school outfit. he could pull it off.

violet says cute things. like,
tayota (pinata)
pumice (hummous)
feaver (beaver)
jenny pig (self-explanatory)

oliver says cute things. like,
i'm going to kill you
i'm going to cut you in half
when fairy eggs hatch, you have to hold them over the toilet because they pee in their eggs, but it's not yellow like ours... it's red... so it looks kind of pink through the egg

he is growing and learning every day.
6 dead X pick your poison

damn all these saints and martyrs and their holidays. [Feb 14 2013 - Thu|10:26am]
well, it's valentine's day and i seem to have survived. worse for the wear. i became an alcoholic this week. more on that later, maybe.

the killing of st valentine sure has managed to put a lot of stress into my life. i wonder if his killers realized to what extent their actions would run. fuckers.

this year, i decided we would make pipe cleaner-cupcake liner flowers. violet has about 25 students in her class and 3 teachers. and a headmistress and office manager. oliver has 20 students and 1 teacher. then there are a couple of friends and grandparents and aunts/uncles/cousins. some for each other and daddy. YOU DO THE MATH. just let me tell you the answer to the equation is one, really tense mother.

i made three trips to michael's for supplies. the first, i spent ten minutes outside the door with violet while she screamed and cried over her jacket, initially. she wanted me to put it on her, but i was like... i don't pay all this money to send you to a montessori school just so i can put your jacket on for you. and then i tried to persuade her to calm down by offering her a seat in a deluxe tiny cart and said people can't go into the store when they're screaming, just look at all these quiet people coming and going. and she would say she understood and then scream-cry I WANT TO RIDE IN THE CAAAAART. which would negate the whole transaction and put us back in line. to my credit, i did not freak out even a little bit. i just turned us around and drove the million miles back home.

i spent three sessions making flowers with violet. and over the course of all those flowers, she never got to where she was like, oh, and now i pick out two large cupcake liners and one small one. so for every flower it was, now pick out the cupcake liners. VIOLET. pick out two big ones and a small. VIOLET, PICK OUT THE CUPCAKE LINERS. and then oliver came home the first day and did his usual thing where he just takes over like it was his idea in the first place and, at that point, we still didn't even know whether or not we were supposed to make them for his class, but kind of decided to go for it. but instead of making them for his class, he made six to put on his wall to decorate for spring. which is why i went ahead and made a third trip to michael's, 'cause i'll be damned if i'd get down to the wire only to see we were short two pipe cleaners. i could make five hundred cupcakes right this second and still have enough liners over to wallpaper the dining room.

on top of that, yesterday was brian's birthday, so we needed to crank out birthday cards and make sure there was time for going out to dinner. i went to whole foods in the morning to get two dozen vegan mini muffins for oliver's school party and a tub of soy yogurt for violet's party (which i guarantee you will go uneaten, like 90% of the food at every single party, what a waste, why do we keep doing it), three vegan bday cake slices for me and the kids, a GF vegan bday lemon tart for brian, strawberries for vday breakfast (you can easily cut them into hearts, you know), and assorted candies for vday. i had already purchased cards at target. i also decided to boil some eggs and do that ridiculous thing where you rubberband them to a straw and slice them into egg hearts, i know you have all seen this on your facebooks. i did this and put them in the fridge and managed to find the spot in the new fridge where things will freeze, and one of brian's rubberbands snapped in addition to his egg having split in the first place, and i pulled them out this morning and cracked off their iceshells. it still turned out fine. kids have very realistic expectations.

so after this mad flower/card/homework dash, at 5:30pm, brian finally returned my pleas to tell me what time we were meeting at cosmic cafe for his bday dinner and asked if we could do it the next night because he had work. i told him no, this was his bday and valentine's day was the next day anyway, so forget it. and he said, "see you at 6:30." and he did. and we ate and barely maintained sanity with children and vamoosed and lit a candle and ate our cakes, except for violet who apparently went mad and decided chocolate cake with cookie frosting was not delicious, but only after demolishing the entire thing and making herself a nice chocolate cake roundabout goatee. we gave daddy cards and oliver made him this baby out of felt. for real.

i got up with the first alarm this morning because i had decided it would be a good idea to wait until the last minute to fill out the vday cards. actually, i had planned to do it during the time between sleeping on the couch and sleeping on the bed, but it just didn't happen. and children began stirring earlier than usual and i slapped them down on the table like i was running a relay race and I BEAT THEM ALL. and they came out and were pleased and ramen's vday packet cards were there as well and they spilled out treats when the kids tore them open. violet immediately decided she did not like her dark chocolate quinoa crisp fancy bar, just like she didn't like her dark chocolate blueberry fancy bar at xmas. more mommy. so she ate one of her heart gummies instead. and then nice mommy left and screamy mommy couldn't get anyone to get dressed or make beds or put clothes in the hamper or find their daily folder.

i found a flower by my computer and asked oliver if he had made that one for me and he said i could go ahead and have it because he noticed i had zero on the table for me. AND THAT IS THE LIFE OF A MOTHER AND WIFE. that's the rhyme that was inside my imaginary card. you would think someone would have learned his lesson last year after i posted the kids' vday cards to daddy on facebook and someone asked what i got and i said NOTHING. and daddy stole two of the vday cards i had made and wrote MOMMY on them took a picture and posted it on facebook at which point i learned he had left me with one blank card when i needed two and he said he'd pick up more at kinko's, which meant i picked up more at kinko's.

and then i took their picture holding all their flowers outside the house, where nice mommy was waiting.

well, gotta go to violet's vday party at school. i hear tell she has the day off tomorrow for winter break. let's see if i can remember to not take her to school. or take the right child to school.

vday flowers
6 dead X pick your poison

i suppose i could say something cinematic here about dorothy finding her way home, ... [Jan 14 2013 - Mon|12:46pm]
...but i would certainly choke on all that sap.

i just pulled into the driveway after picking up violet from school. there was a box truck outside dorothy's house (our next door neighbor). there was a man out there working on loading up walkers and a potty and an oxygen tank and too many other things like that to spell anything other than the obvious.

linda, dorothy's sister, stepped out on to the porch and i waved at her and asked if everything was okay. she said dorothy died a week ago saturday. i felt instantly terrible that we had not made it back over to visit and relieve some of the tension. we had been out of town twice and three of us had suffered through some level of the crud, the kids' version came with fevers. a person dying of cancer certainly doesn't need exposure to that.

i walked over to her side of the little, old fence and gave her a hug and wiped at my eye. dorothy had died peacefully at home as the pain had begun to grow. they said their goodbyes when she was losing ground and the chaplain-nurse told her it was okay to go and she took one last breath and went. just yards away from our home. all this going on right there.

i wish i had gotten to speak with her about what it was like to live there the past 50 years. find out who had lived in this house. who did that box in the attic belong to? the rusted pitchfork. the old frame. the cork-handled fishing pole.

while we talked, violet had brought me a 12-pack of toilet paper and then an amy's dinner. linda glanced at it and asked if we are vegetarians. i joked how the amy's tofu enchiladas are the obvious badge of the vegetarian. she knew because she and her husband are mostly vegetarian. i would like to tallk to linda more, too, but she'll be heading back to bryan soon. the house will go on the market. who knows what'll happen over there. maybe tea party debbie will come back and have peter flip another house and i'll spend months feeling uncomfortable about all the shit breaking around here while i smile at him and act like everything's swell.

i came inside. started some laundry, including the dirty underpants brian has left in my front floorboards since moving day. i made violet her veggie burger and i sat here feeling really weird while eating an amy's spaghetti. like someone died and i'm sitting here eating spaghetti. what if linda looked in the window and i was eating spaghetti like nothing had ever happened. i still smell linda's hug.

on the way home from school, violet told me her mom died of a bloody stomach caused by getting popped by a nail. but she was at the hospital getting it fixed and would be home in a few minutes when it gets dark.
2 dead X pick your poison

newtown. in case you needed to read any more about it. [Dec 17 2012 - Mon|09:45am]
the radio reminded me to be araid this morning.

i was already halfway to school when it happened. i think i could have told myself it's not that scary, it is really rare, and everything's fine. but, if my facebook feed is to be believed, there were two violent elementary school attacks and one threatened attack last friday alone.

newtown: no explanation needed.

china: in a country with very strict gun laws, a man attacked a school room filled with 22 children with an 8 inch blade. terrible violence. cut off fingers, cut off ears. they have all survived their injuries. they are all at home with their families.

cedar lake, indiana: a man tells his wife he's going to set her on fire as soon as she goes to sleep. then he decided he would rather kill her at the school, where she works in the cafeteria, and then shoot up as many jane ball elementary students as he could. oh, but he was just pretending. "bluffing". being silly. maybe just a little angry. thank goodness for sunk ships by loose lips and the fact that even the most terrifying people can find someone to marry them and report them. the police found a collection of 47 guns and ammo worth $100,000. despite him being on the loose all day friday in the woods surrounding the school, it appears they did not send the children home.

the 10 9-11 year olds killed yesterday by a land mine while gathering firewood in afghanistan just iced the tragedy cake.

considering these were all within hours of each other, there isn't even a copycat factor to consider. so my brain, driving to school, says, "oh god. there's a copycat factor consider now. exponential things." my eyes drank their own tears while i walked oliver to the white top. i just kept trying not to think, "lambs to slaughter?" i began to panic. i tried to ascertain if there were plenty of school children who had been kept home. i wondered if it was too late to teach oliver how to hide quietly. how to say safe. when to run as fast as he could run and never stop. how to say all that to him without terrifying him for the rest of his life.

having children is so hard. SO HARD. and as many emotional surprises there are to stumble upon by having them, i guess you don't really consider this would have to be one of them. senseless, purposeless, randomly executed, utterly cruel violence. authors don't include that in guides to surviving parenthood and it is with great frequency that i wonder why i ever put myself in such a delicate place.

i felt illness for a fraction of a second as a passed the corner of a building and caught sight of a length of yellow caution tape strung up around a large area on the white top. my primal bits calculated another tragedy before my refined sensibilities realized the map of the united states had been repainted over the weekend. i don't know. maybe not the best idea to put up what looks like police tape all around where people are dropping off their children for the first time post-massacre.

i felt alarmed when i noticed oliver's class line contained only 8 out of 25 students. a meager 6 in the 1H line. i'm hoping children were inside due to the cold and not that i was supposed to keep him home and clutched safely to my breast while i googled homeschooling curriculums.

i noticed the first teacher coming to pick up her students. late 20s, early 30s. what was she thinking? was she wondering if she would ever be able to use her body as a shield for her students? did she wonder if she would have to?

i gave oliver a hug and told him i love him. as he walked away, i told him i love him again.

then i put violet in the car to do it all over again. it was her class who kept popping into my mind as mental surrogates for the newtown kindergarten class, though oliver's class is really the same age. you know, you personalize these things. what would it feel like if... i didn't want to think these things and i would quickly shut them down. but it was violet's class i would see. i saw the father in the car next to mine getting his son out. he was hugging him for a long time. i don't know... maybe the kid was just having a rough morning over something else.

i helped violet out of her jacket, helped her retrieve the pecans from her pocket. watched her hang it up. hugged hugged hugged her, which i usually do. tried not to cry until i got to the car. blamed it on the brisk temperatures stinging my eyes.

i didn't tell oliver about the news. he has an odd detachment when it comes to tragedy. a fascination about its underpinnings. i don't know. maybe it's not odd so much as one of the ways of being a six year old. he was more fascinated by the demise of big tex and seems to have no concept of the impact of something burning up. maybe he heard one too many jesus stories because he is entirely confident in the act of resurrection. he saw a huge truck loaded with twisted concrete and rebar the other day and assumed it was new big tex material. on the way home friday, like two minutes later, we stopped directly opposite a completely fresh wreck. large pieces of cars were on the road. front ends smashed in, a stunned driver with a deflated airbag in his face and the panel missing from his door was just yards away. oliver began calculating what caused the wreck. no horror. no fear. i don't know if it makes me feel scared or relieved. but anyway.

i didn't tell him. i took a caclculated risk, hoping not as many parents who informed their children of big tex would inform them of newtown. maybe the weekend would be long enough to soften the buzz. i don't know of what good could come by telling him. i don't know what bad could come by telling him.

all weekend, i would look at their little faces surrounding impossibly big eyes. i can't understand how anyone, ANYONE, could look into faces just like that, twenty different times, and do what that person did. each shot close up, more than once. i heard this morning he only used a fraction of the ammo he had brought with him. i can't help but think that even someone as deranged as he was couldn't live another minute with what he was in the middle of doing. a screaming conscience driving him to turn the gun on himself. body armor useless.

i made a couple of videos of the children. there's a voice recording of violet's interpretation of "santa's kwanzaa" last night. i keep thinking of the parents of these children. what are they supposed to do with the xmas gifts they bought? their rooms. their dirty cereal bowls in the sink? they waited in that fire house until no more children were there to be matched up. they just waited and then they knew. their babies stayed in there all night. they couldn't get to them.
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