Ikea Hates All the Single Ladies, or, If You Like it Then You Shoulda Putta Hex Bit On It

I'm writing this post from bed. This is more remarkable than you'd think:

A) after toying with this for over a week, I'm admitting defeat and officially saying that I have the stomach apocalypse.

B) I am actually in my bed, not on a mattress on the floor.

Last weekend while the kids went to their dads, I put my bed up -- my very pretty, very king sized, very Ikea bed.

I've put together my share of Ikea furniture in my day, but in hindsight I realize that I've put together my share of Ikea furniture in my day with soon-to-be-ex. Have I ever put Ikea furniture together, alone?

Um.

Er.

No?

No, I don't think I have. You know why? BECAUSE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. I live in a part of the country that is densely populated with the religion that doesn't totally always frown on polygamy, and now I get why every city densely populated with this religious group has an Ikea in close proximity -- you need at least seven sister wives to put the [expletive expletive] furniture together.

For a company so big on space-conservation, you think they'd be a little more sympathetic to the single and/or child-labour-less, but alas, Ikea hates single people and punishes us with bed frames that require a degree in Tetris and the superpower of being able to hault physics for at least two hours at a time in order to assemble. Oh, and the $7.99 Ikea toolkit. Which, for the record, is the best $7.99 I've ever spent.  

So I'm up off the floor, in my platform bed, which is just high enough for a puke bucket, which I think I might need because I Can Haz the Tummy Crab. Hooked on Fonics Worked for Me aside: When you tell your daughter you're sorry she has a tummy cramp, she's going to hear tummy *crab* and be convinced for years to come that she has an actual crab in her tummy and must puke and/or poop it out. Everyone in your family will adopt the term tummy crab, and it will eventually stop grossing you the fuck out. 

Everyone in your family will adopt the word tummy crab because everyone in your family will GET a tummy crab. Even the dog was hurling last week. We got the King Tummy Crab, it seems. Last week we all had [something something poop @suebob just stopped reading this post poop something] and then yesterday, I kept almost passing out from the near constant nauseous-dizzies. Last time that happened, I ended up with a tummy crab and a half.

This time I have neither the means nor the uterus for that deliciousness, so while I'm waving my >>llama eyes<< at Jesus and yelling at him to get off mah barren wasteland, I'm pretty sure I just still have the flu. 

Which leads me to my grandmother. 

No, I haven't taken any medicine today, why do you ask?

My grandmother wasn't allowed in our house, or us in hers, for the better part of my life. This was partly due to the fact that my mother had a tortured relationship with her, but also because my grandmother enjoyed the finer points of Satanism for a while, before diving into the channeling of shockingly uninspired historic figures. Really, if you're going to summon one's spirit to speak through you, do your homework. Pick someone better than George Washington. LIVE A LITTLE. 

But everybody needs somebody sometimes, even my mother, and when we were particularly ill, she'd like Grandmom come over to take care of us. And I miss that, I cannot lie. There is nothing better than someone taking care of you when you're sick. My daughter this morning offered to walk her own self to the bus stop so I could stay home and get my tummy crab out, and while there's no way I'm ready for that nonsense yet, it made me smile to know she cares.

And my grandmother, for all her craziness, did 'sick kid' like a G6, yo.

She would read to us and brush our hair and play us songs from Oklahoma on the piano and make us eat weak tea and dry toast all day long. Weak tea and dry toast aren't actually items, they are the world for sick-food, kind of like my little brother referred to my aunt & uncle, Jean and Wayne, as JeanaWayne. Both of them. It was a title, and so is Weak Tea and Dry Toast. The tea was never weak, and it was full of sugar and milk, and the toast had the most perfectly halfway-melted pads of butter swirled around grape jelly on top of it. Still, Weak Tea and Dry Toast. 

Which is what I'm nomming on right now, trying to keep everything in that should just come out already, because I'm an idiot. But I'm an idiot who can't stand the idea of hurling out a Tummy Crab, no matter how much better I know I'll feel after. 

My big brother actually started a Facebook thread asking people what their family's sick-foods are, and I find this a fascinating adventure into culture and tradition. So, I'm curious, what are your sick-foods? 

Entertain me, please. 

That'll Do, Pig

First off: Thank you all, so so so much, for this. I keep trying to do the math on how many vaccinations we've provided for kids in need around the world, but I ran out of fingers *and* toes and I think my abacus is still packed up in the garage. Which is more than half-way unpacked, I'll have you know, all by my own self.

#Blogust rages on, with a post today by my dear friend and fellow Coloradan Julie Marsh, who wrote an amazingly lovely post about science, bitches. I have the smartest friends on earth. Go leave a comment there. (We're shooting for 10,000 comments by months' end, yo, to get the full $200,000. No small feat, but it totally can be done. We raise $20 per comment on every post.)

Now.

My blog.

I have a gazillion mini post-its all over my house, covered in the scribblings of half-drafts, miniature inspirations, snack-sized ephipanies. And I can't stop sleeping. 

It's hard (but not impossible) to blog in one's sleep, but you know, this sleep thing is so good. I forgot, entirely, what rest felt like. I am hoarding it like it's all the cats on earth and I'm sure the end is extremely nigh. It's not boding well for my blog-life. 

But alas, I am a mommy blogger, or so they tell me, and my children insist of being smart and interesting, so I suppose I should say something about them. Contrary to the below posts, it isn't actually all gloom and doom around here. We have many more good times than uncomfortable ones, and I can't say we've had even a single moment of bad since I got home and we moved into our new home. 

Well, there was that day two weeks ago when I was moving my son's dresser in with him, and I went backwards, and now I think I have permanent nerve damage in the pinky where he rammed it into the doorframe with the edge of the dresser with just a little too much gusto - but other than that, everything's been pretty damn a'ight.

My daughter has a friend at school who is not named Caliber and she talks about him almost obsessively, which you and I know means one thing, but she just knows it means she's happy to like someone, and she wrote him a note the other day. The very last line of it read, "I have a very nice home."

She is currently being charged with second-degree murder of a parent, by a minor in cuteness. 

My middle son has a friend whom he walks home with every day, and a bit of a few love interests at school. He also has a full sized violin, which means he grew, like, .0016th of an inch in the past year, which makes him not the most tiniest person in his class. He is officially King of the World.

My oldest son actually speaks to me - almost every single day, in fact. For 14, that's astonishing. 

Life is oddly humbling. You spend all these years proving you can handle anything, take whatever gets thrown at you, do everything and anything on your own, and then one day you wake up and the universe decides it high time you unlearn all of that bullshit, or die trying. And by you, I mean me.

We're constantly out of money, but even that doesn't feel scary or bad. We have what we need, and we don't need anything else. Going to a single income family is a huge adjustment without factoring in a cross-country move, but I've had help from a few close friends when I absolutely needed it, and that is forcing me to learn how to ask. For help. Because I can't do everything on my own.

We have couches, finally, and hot water, which you really can go a long long LONG time in Arizona in August before you even realize you don't have any. I think I am very close to having a dining room table, which is great because I bought white couches because I hate being either clean or sane. I hate my washer and dryer because it isn't the washer and dryer I had to leave behind in Texas, but it actually works fine. So does everything else. 

So does everything else. 

I wanted to hate it here, but we kind of like it here. My kids love their schools. We all love this little rental house. We're excited for winter to come, for being able to go outside and play any old time we want without a coat or an umbrella or a car. We are snuggled up together in less than half the space we left behind, and it actually feels good. We are learning each other again, in the quiet spaces the tv and the XBox used to fill. (I opted to not get cable, and to seriously limit game-time. I couldn't really explain why, but I didn't have to. This guy went & said it better than I could have, as he is wont to do.)

In a lot of ways, it feels like time has slowed for us. We go to bed early, really early, embarrassingly geritolly early, and we wake up ready. We wake up unafraid. We start our days looking forward, not back, and we end them together, on the white for not much longer couches, under the just-big-enough roof, in the almost but not quite too hot desert. We are rebuilding our lives and each other very quietly, and with careful consideration, and I think that, for now, it is just enough. 

 

After all, you're my wonderwall.

I've been kind of obsessing over how to write this post today. If you hadn't noticed, I've had a bit of a hard time blogging lately. It's not that I don't have anything to say; to the contrary, I have a ton to say and no clue how to say any of it.

This is fine, usually. I can typically gimp my way to Bethlehem when the time and the internet connection make themselves evident, and you guys always pat my head and tell me I'm not crazy and that you love my shoes and you make me feel 10,000 times better. But this isn't any normal blog post. This blog post is for 10,000 kids. I feel like I have to do it, like, properly.

And I've already started rambling. Sorry, 10,000 kids.

I was invited to join #Blogust, which is a blog relay for/by @ShotAtLife. For 31 days, 31 bloggers post and for every comment left, $20 is donated to get a kid in a developing country life-saving vaccines. If you've ever had the vaccination conversation with me, you know how I feel about them.

 

I grew up with a kid who had Polio.

My kids will get every freaking vaccine you can shove in their chubby wubby widdle thighs.

The end.

And if I can write one blog post to help give some other kids that same protection, well, I better get to it. 

....

Except, yeah. There's that thing about not even knowing where to start. I mean, look at me. I'm posting in sentences. I can't even bring myself to form coherent paragraphs. This thing, this cycle-ending, it's the sucks. It is so hard to process what my family is going through right now enough to type it out into little text editors. It's harder still to throw it on a public space and let a ton of people I don't really know sift through it.

But I do anyway. Because of this. 

 

...and a gazillion emails, tweets, comments, FB messages, and texts just like it. Somehow, this trainwreck I'm digging myself out of is helping someone, and that's really why I keep writing this. Every time I don't want to write something, I don't want to say something, I don't want to admit something, I think about the blogger who emailed me to tell someone, anyone, that an addict ruined her family financially and they're on welfare now and she just needed to say it to someone. I think about every single person who's emailed privately and just said, "Me, too." I think about all the Gwennyrah's out there who feel as alone as I did, as I do, and I type. 

For us.

Badly. I'm so sorry

What we say to each other matters. What we do in this space, lifting each other up, holding each other close and saying yes, my sisters and brothers, we are in this together, that matters. That changes lives. 

In my old line of work, I spent a lot of time studying the online community, watching trends, deciphering behaviors. I noticed a very grand thing that I would very much so like to take out a gov't grant to do an anthropological study on...that after a few years of us asking the question, "What can I get from blogging?" we all kind of shifted a little, and now the question seems to predominantly be, "What can I do with my blog?" I imagine this is a natural human process, but it's been remarkable to watch the sudden-evolution in a virtual space. 

Some of us get the chance to do very large-scale things, like my fellow Shot @ Lifers and dear friends CC Chapman and Karen Walrond. Some of us get to do more home grow things, like using our blogs as a platform to advocate for kids with disabilities, like my Canadian bestie Tanis. Some of us form non-profits to help give women a voice, like my friend and hero Maggie Dammit. Some of us use what we know and can do to shine lights on social injustice, like my ohmygodshe'smybossnow Lesbian Dad

And some of us, like me, just type some crap on the internet.

But I think all of us would agree that no matter what we do, we are getting a whole lot more than we could ever possibly give. You guys, each one of you, even you lurkers who think I don't know you're there, you save me, every single day - even the days I'm not here. You are my shot at life. Your support, your understanding, your acceptance of me with all my flaws and imperfections and failures and struggles...you make me feel like it is all going to be okay. You make me not ashamed that I have no money in the bank, and I had no furniture two weeks ago, and that I keep cycling through this same crap over and over again like a karmic rebirth groundhog day. 

So really, this is to say thank you. Thank you for your comments, your emails, your DM's and messages. Thank you for your vibes when you don't know what to say, but you're thinking about us. We feel it. Thank you for your kindness, your gentleness. Thank you for your ear. Thank you for listening. Thank you for holding us up.

...

Okay, so, every comment left on all 31 of our blogs up gives $20 to vaccinate a kid against measles, pneumonia, diarrhea and polio, up to $200,000. That's 10,000 kids who get a shot at a better life. Yesterday, Suzanne Chan of Mom Confessionals handed the torch to me and now I'm going to hand it to my friend Renee Ross of Cutie Booty Cakes

You guys are really good at helping me. What do you say we help some kids? Comments are below; you know what to do. 


Thank, yous guyses.

 

Sevens

I was gone for seven weeks. 

Correction: I came back on the first day of my seventh week away from my whole entire life. 

It's been so long since I've written anything here, and so much has happened in that expanse of time, that I can't even remember what's already been said. I suppose I could go read my own archives, but that somehow feels like cheating. On myself. With myself. There's a vibrator joke in here somewhere.

I was gone for seven weeks. So much has happened in that time.

My oldest son's voice dropped while I was gone. I called one day and had no idea who was on the phone. I wasn't even sure it was a *human*. That boy is going to make some choir director's baritone dreams come true. He also got his schedule for high school while I was gone. After 14 years of parenting, I have now officially missed a milestone. I can't believe how awful that feels.

My youngest child, my daughter, she kept her squeak but refined it. Like the baby fat that sheds itself overnight, the roundness of her words molted away and was replaced with sharp angles, strong bones, and complex adjectives. I came back to a girl-child, a woman-in-progress, someone who spent the summer learning, for the first time, how to be feminine from someone other than me. Now I condition her hair all wrong, but she'll still gives me butterfly kisses in the early hours of the morning when no one else is looking. I'll take it. 

My middle son is the most eerily inconsistently consistent human being I have ever met. Nothing about him has changed in the slightest. It is amazingly comforting to come back to one familiar thing. 

I left Phoenix with a 10X15 storage locker and the hope that everything would work itself out...and not much more. I had to go; I had to go for my job, I had to go for my sanity, I had to go for him and his family to start finding their own way through this together. I had to go, and I went, and I had no clue what was going to happen once I was on the other side of more flips of a calendar than I'd ever relinquished control of my family to before. 

Relinquishing control is not my strong suit. Josh and I got into a massive fight in, oh, week two because he and his sister were being such control freaks and undoing each and every one of the many meticulous plans I'd so carefully laid out, all pressed and starched, on the edges of the beds for the time I would be gone. Because I'm not a total hypocrite, oh no

Turns out, letting go is a lot easier when you're in free fall and there is nothing to latch on to. 

This summer was a long, slow, drawn out, slow-motion leap of faith. It wasn't even a leap so much as a leaning over the edge until I had no choice but to fall. It was terrible and frightening to be gone for so long, and I am so glad that I was. I think I had to be. I think I had to let everything settle down the way it wanted to, not the way I wanted to orchestrate it to.

I think I had to let the kids father spend the summer with him in his own way - not the way I would want, expect, or even tolerate, honestly, had I been within a 10 hours drive of them, but it wasn't my summer with them so really, it isn't my place to dictate how it went.

They lived.

They're happy as shit to be home.

The end.

I think I had to be very, very humbled by the love and support that I sometimes forget I have in my corner of the ring. My kids' godfather and his brand new wife and their brand new baby basically gave me a home when literally did not have one, some company, some perspective, and the best homemade ice cream you will ever put into your body. My best friend talked me off a lot of ledges, and watched over me even when I wasn't sure I wanted to be watched over.  My old, old buddy (who *gasp* doesn't have anything to do with teh internetz and is therefore unlinkable) fed me some wine when I needed it, played me ridiculously loud rock and roll in the parking lot, just like we used to do a million years ago, and reminded me of who I used ot be before I tripped and fell into this damn hole again. 

I think I had to be ready to let everything change, and I think I was gone just long enough that everything did exactly that. 

And now we have this home - a house that I took sight me-unseen (the kids and their dad came to check it out, and the kids said, "uhunno, i guess it'll do, grunt", and that, like cookie, was good enough for me). We still haven't met our neighbors (though I've met their unsecured wifi signal, howdy) (don't you judge me) and my garage still looks like this:

But my living room, MY living room, myveryownlivingroom without a drunk guy on the couch sucking all the energy out of it, looks like this:

And my daughter's room looks like this:

And my sons' room looks like this: 

And that is, of course, blackmail for later, when they are really being a-holes and also have girlfriends. Have blog and iPhone; am not afraid to use them. 

(Also, judge not the dorm room. They had loft beds which clearly will not fit. Ikea run for twin frames forthcoming. Until then, that room is merely a crystal ball of their almost-immediate future, with less ramen and porn.)

I am not showing you my room. Last night, my son told me to flipping clean it up already, mawm, jeez. When a 14 year old is disgusted with the way you're living, it's time to reassess. 

But really, what matters to me most right now isn't the way the couches I got for $125 on Craiglist while I was gone (score) perfectly fit this space I accidentally ended up in, or the way the sun rises through the blinds in my windows and makes everything look sparkly and full of promise every single day now that I'm back, it's that under this roof, there are three smiles. Three real, relaxed, not contrived, not manic, not hiding anything behind them smiles. 

I was gone for seven weeks. That's why. And now I get to start on forever, finally.