Uncorked

Last week in New York, I walked along crowded sidewalks beside and old friend and we talked about our lives. Our real lives. The lives we don't talk about.

It's funny, how so much of me is laid bare in these pages, yet really, you don't know me any more than you know any other transgender pseudonym on the internet. Everything I tell you could be some elaborate fable. I could be the 389 pound phone sex operator you are *convinced* is 18-and-three-weeks old and totally into you. You and I have no tangible relationship relative to reality and yet, everything I haven't told you, every lie of omission in the story you read about me has effectively stopped me from writing all together.

***

She and I walked through Central Park under the cold, damp, creamsicle streetlamps, eating pretzels with too much Gulden's, talking about how difficult it is to hide some of our story and share the rest of it. We naturally want to keep the most tender parts of ourselves held back from the harsh LED lights of the internet, but those are the ones that push the hardest to come out and in order to stop them, we have to shove a cork so far down our throats that not another word can pass by.

***

Last month, I had to go through my archives for last year to pick my three favorite posts from 2011. It took me 8 minutes to read *all* of my archives. Three years ago, exactly on my 33rd birthday, I signed with a literary agent. One who approached me. One who signed me without so much as a proposal for a book. And three years later, I still haven't written one tangible sentence.

***

It gets to the point where, until you say the one thing you can't, you won't be able to utter any other words.

My husband is an alcoholic.

He was missing for seven hours tonight.

I am more afraid of what will happen next if I don't say that than I am afraid of what's going to happen once I do.

Mostly, I am just afraid.

 

Bridges, Updating Thereof

He isn't serving detention

I'd emailed the principal before 6 that night, and heard nothing back all the next day until my son came home from school and told me he'd been pulled into an office where they asked for a letter from me, and when he didn't produce one, they told him that he'd be in detention on Thursday. 

So. They're talking to me through my kid. So.

At that point, I broke down and called the principal, who was in a meeting, as was every single 6th grade authority figure...but gosh, they'd be happy to leave a note that I called

The next day, I sent them the letter they'd asked my son for, oh yes I did. (I may have gone a little overboard with it.) (Bygones.) (It's after the jump.) Four hours into the school day, my phone rang. It was the principal, who cleared up a few things for me, most importantly that if he really had been legitimately late, he wouldn't have to serve detention. And he was legitimately late, so he doesn't have to serve it. 

And now I need a nap. 

</fightthepower>

 

Bridges, Burning Thereof

My son came home yesterday with a detention slip (D-Hall, they call it). He's served detention once before, for being late to class because mom, the PE teacher locked us out of the gym after lap time and didn't let us in until after the bell rang! which I used my Little Orphan Annie ring to decode into my friends and I walk the last lap of our mile run because we have to talk about girls and MW3 sometimes, jeez, and because we do this we didn't even get to the doors of the gym until after the bell rang and that jerk of a teacher had the gall to punish us for it

I made him serve that D-Hall, oh yes I did, and apologize to the PE teacher for disrespecting his class. 

I mention this only to establish that I don't have problems with authority figures, nor do I take any issue with a Jr High teacher doing whatever the hell it takes to maintain a semblance of order. You give those kids an inch and they will eat you alive. I get that. 

So my son shows me his D-Hall slip and tells me it's for another tardy to class, and I am like OH MY GOD WHY AGAIN? and he explains to me that yesterday was the day he was testing up in orchestra (harder music, better chairs, etc) and so after 2nd period he *ran* his little butt all the way to orchestra because oh em gee mom, I was soooo excited! 

You know when you're driving home from work and you get distracted in your head, and then you realize you missed your exit? Yeah, my son has orchestra 4th period, not 3rd. 

So he hauled his little butt all the way from downstairs where orchestra is to upstairs where science is and kept getting stopped by hall monitors asking why he was running, so he made it to class two minutes after the bell rang. Because, you know, he was so excited TO TAKE A TEST.

And for that, he got one hour and 50 minutes of detention. 

Now, I get it that the school has a tardy=detention policy, which, for the record, is absolutely ridiculous and total overkill and lazy educating, if you ask me. However, my concern with it is more that it is a no-exception rule. EVERY class tardy results in D-Hall, no matter why, no exceptions. Or so I was told by the jerk I had to talk to about this yesterday.

After I went into the school, asked to talk to someone, waited for 20 minutes, got told no one could talk to me, got blank-stared at until they realized I wasn't budging, was offered a phone call in an hour, went home, waited four hours for that phone call, was told that they didn't have time to talk about it but would send my son home and call me later, then called me after dinner, some man I've never met told me that I couldn't do anything about how *he* chose to discipline *my* son. 

He was all, "Look, Mr Lady, I get your point that it was an honest mistake, but his actions have consequences and he has to accept them" and I was like, "So you think it's fine to punish him for wanting to take a test?" and he was like, "Yes" and I was like "And you think a two hour detention for a two minute tardy isn't over the top?" and he was all "It doesn't matter if they're five seconds late or five minutes late; a tardy is a tardy and gets DHall" and I said, "So what do we do when I refuse to make him serve this?" and he said, "Um...You can't."

So I said I would think about it and send a note in tomorrow. 

But then I thought about it and decided that if I'm going to talk to someone about this, it isn't going to be Captain Brick Wall who forgets that *I* am the child's mother, and once that school bell rings, he has no legal authority over my kid. So I busted out the code of conduct, to find out the appeals process for disciplinary action. And guess what? THERE ISN'T ONE.

You can appeal your death row conviction in Texas, but you can't appeal D-Hall. 

But I'm going to anyway. Part of me feels ridiculous, like I should just let him serve the detention and get it over with. All he'll do is sit there for two hours doing homework, and I'll be slightly inconvenienced by needing to go pick him up in rush hour traffic, but this could all be done with today. And if they guy I'd talked to had shown once ounce of willingness to listen to what I was saying, I probably would have gone that route. But if this guy is willing to talk to a parent the way he talked to me, I can't even imagine how he talks to 11 year old children. 

So I went over his head.

I emailed the principal last night. The email is cut and pasted after the jump, in case you want to mock my skillz of a tiger mom. 

Today

There is a stray cat prowling my neighborhood, desperately in the throes of a reproductive cycle that it cannot understand or control. I've listened to to it - shrieking unseen for the baby it know it wants but can't find a way to create - for over a week now, and I keep silently whispering to it, "Sister, I know."

This morning, that cat was in my house. 

Before it was time for the light of dawn to nudge us out of sleep, it began. It wasn't merely thunder somewhere in the sky, the air itself became the raucous clapping of the gods and slammed into us and around us and through us and shook each of the bricks that make up the house while the floodgates of heaven opened up and attempted to drown the city in its sleep. 

My children let the cat in, to save it from the rain. Not for a moment did they think about their allergies, or their dogs, or anything other than the fact that the cat was screaming and they were not. 

This is how it begins, for people like us. 

And then the sky screamed us awake and the dogs screamed themselves dominate and the cat screamed itself free and tore the chest of the child trying to save it wide open and none of this is coincidence. 

We puttered about in the darkness of morning, listening to air screaming from pressure it cannot understand or control. I made the coffee and ironed a shirt while they ate their cereal and he trimmed his beard. We have never had a morning like this, not ever once in the thirteen years and eight months and twenty five days since we have been an us. 

We put medicine on the tears in his chest, to stop the hives which always follow, and I reminded him that not everything wants to be saved, and sometimes the only choice is to let go. He smiled the way children almost never smile at you once they are old enough to believe in a different god, the way I never once smiled at her.

      quiet in so much chaos. Exactly like I had wished for this day, twenty times over. 

I watched the flood warnings and tornado sightings and tried to find words that I am certain do not exist and then my glasses broke in half right here in my hand and as soon as I couldn't see it anymore, I could feel it. 

All of it.

I can feel

       something other than the cold on my face when I walked out of that door, the cramps in my legs from crouching in a phone booth, hiding for hours, the pressure on my chest when the plane took off and the hollow space left in its wake when I landed 2000 miles away from the last moment I will have ever seen my mother's face. 

Twenty todays later so many things matter more than everything I didn't get to know that about the woman inside of my mother. Twenty todays later she may be screaming over my head or shrieking at my backdoor or shaking the walls around me but we are inside here, together, and I am letting her go.  

The boarding pass that I kept, inexplicably, all of these twenty years is here.

Some background is here. There is more here, and at every other January 9th in my archives. Some on the 7th, too.

Fabulous Yellow Roman Candles

Fireworks

It's been just over two years since we came to Texas and already, my kids know the community we live within well enough to call who would be lighting professional-grade fireworks in the middle of a suburban cul-de-sac on a Saturday night, from a half-mile away.

###

We spent a glorious last evening of 2011 with the @schandenfreudett/@ck_lunchbox family, and on our way home we realized that five minutes til midnight on New Year's Eve is the greatest time to be driving because A) no one else is and B) you can see fireworks for miles and miles.

We had this incredible 360 view of the fireworks going off in every community near us, and as we drove closer to home we could start to differentiate the ones coming from our neighborhood, then the ones coming from our side of the neighborhood, and as we neared the entrance to our sub-division, we realized that we pretty much could pinpoint the ones coming from one of the kids' friends houses. 

###

Sometimes I cannot believe the resiliency of my children, that they learn and re-learn people so openly and easily, how they are so easily adopted into the communities in which they live because they hold nothing back but instead burn, burn, burn like this time it's going to be forever. 

There is quite a bit in this life I am only going to be able to learn from my children, I believe.

###

My neighborhood is this amazingly balanced mix of people, of cultures, of nationalities and ethnicities and sometimes I get so used to seeing everyone that I forget to see everyone. We all share the commonality of parenthood, and that has a funny way of blinding us to everything else. I forget that every single kid at the bus stop is a different shade of human, because after a while they all just look like kids who want to eat my stash of good cookies. 

Milano cookies are very bad at hide and go seek.

I stand on a corner with strangers, though no one can really be a stranger who's children you know, spending the first hours of this year under the bombtrack of roman candle warfare with people I suddenly regret I've resisted coming to know, watching our rainbow of children laugh and play under 1.3G rainbow of spiders exploding across the Texas stars.