oskar and the surprise of the kidney disease.

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.
oskar soy

saying no to drugs.

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.

hula hoops and macaroni.

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.

battle of the bulges.

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.

Collapse )


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.

a little late for halloween, but maybe you'll take me more seriously.

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.

aug. 4, 2013: i had a birthday.

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.

Collapse )


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.
oliver terry

oliver and the case of the missing jitters.

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.

another first day is over with.

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.