Birthday, Interrupted

I've been keeping this blog since you were 27 years old and today is the first time in all of those years that, at 2:08 am on the dot, I didn't have a post up singing your praises and wishing you confetti-lined beer in red high heels wishes for a new year of your life. You were the first person I ever wrote a birthday post for on this blog, did you know that? They're still my favorite kinds of posts to write, even though I'm getting progressively worse about doing them. It's been almost five years; I've kind of said everything already.

My excuse for not writing you a long-winded love letter on the one day a year I am allowed to write you long-winded love letters is that I am celebrating your birthday by sharing a 300 square foot hotel room in San Francisco with your godchildren and my friends 7 year old son who nose is, as we speak, bleeding like a stuck pig. Or me in two weeks. Either his nose is fertile as the Tennessee Valley or is about to get roasted and served with creamed corn. Time will tell.

Shockingly enough, not one of your godchildren screamed, Cool! BLOOD! and whipped out a camera. They're losing their edge with this whole puberty thing, man. It is to weep.

The actual reason that I didn't write you  long winded love letter on the one day a year I am allowed to write you long winded love letters is that I don't think I can. See, the thing is...for as long as I've known you, you've always been mine. Sure, you've had a girlfriend here or there and there was even that one girl we were all afraid you were going to knock up or worse, share a line of credit with, but I've always known that at the end of the day, next to your mom and your sister, I'm it. I'm the one who bakes you the pies and mails you the practical presents and fields the phone calls. I'm the first one who knows when you're getting a new job. I'm the one who your dog tries to talk to when she hears me through the phone. I'm the one who's kids take up that slot in your wallet. You've had my heart from the moment I met you on that stupid stoop and I am fairly sure I've had yours. At least, that's what I like to assume, "Can you make another coconut cream pie next time you come over to walk my dog?" means in man-speak.

A few weeks ago I had to sit on the phone and decide in the matter of a few seconds if I was willing to give that all up, and I decided I was, but the truth is that I'm not sure I am. You've gone and grown up and fell in love and are getting married and I am not ready.

I just got you. I waited so long for you, for your family, for everything you've taught me and everything you've pushed me into doing and becoming, and I don't know how to let you go. I don't know how to have a different relationship than I do now with you. I don't have the luxury of writing this off to being your sister or your cousin or your childhood best friend, leaving me with no place to go except into the "chic who's a little too cozy with my fiance" column. I can hardly explain our relationship to myself; I have no idea how to make it work on paper for your wife.

And so  have two choices. I can be pig-headed and stubborn and stomp my foot into the floor and say I Had Him First and piss, oh, everyone off or I can be as happy for you as I am inside on the outside, too, I can take a few big steps to the side and I can let you have your happiness. I can do for you what you've always done for me. That ain't no kind of choice at all.

I owe you that kindness, at the bare minimum. I owe you so much,  I can't see the end of that ledger anymore. You, sir, you were the greatness that was thrust upon me. You believed in me all this time, even when I was at my peak of unbelievabilty. You've been cruel a lot more than you've been kind, for exactly that purpose. You've never been content with just me, and I've scarcely cared about someone enough to try to fix that. You've always told me that I could be better, and I've kept trying to be just to show your pain in the ass, pushy, bitch-ass up. You've given me the tools to believe in who I am and you've given me the inspiration to want to be that person and you've given me the very real, practical, not at all story-book kind of love that actually can move a mountain, even if that mountain is self-doubt topped with fear and covered in a fresh dusting of insecurity.

You've never let me use me and an excuse to not be me. You've never let me use any excuse at all for much of anything, really. I've hated you, really hated you in the pit of my soul for that, but I think you know that and I think you'd do it again anyway.

I think we make each other comfortably uncomfortable, in that we can criticize the shit out of each other, we can offer unsolicited advice and we can lecture and roll our eyes and it's always okay, because we know undoubtedly that we really, truly love each other and we only do what we do because we see something the other one can't yet.

We, you and me, us...we're good. We're wonderful. We've fallen into place the way you can only hope the really important things in your life will. We have a rhythm, a stride, a beat we march to that few people understand but enough of the people who matter to us the most understand. Maybe boys and girls can't be friends, but we are. We are the best of friends and we are great at it. We love moderately. We are close from a distance.

And a few weeks ago, you had to go and fuck it all up by being happy and content and settled down and shit. The little boy that I met so many years ago, the one I've watched you cling to and push away at the same time, he's gone. He was gone the day he met a different woman on a different stoop who brought something very different to his table, and she's going to be his wife pretty soon now.

I don't want to let that boy go. I love the man you've become, the man I saw in the shadows 6 years ago when I first met you; I admire you and I respect you and I absolutely adore you but I am going to miss him. In order to let you be you I have to give up a part of me and I'll do it, I'll give you back your house key and I'll relinquish my spot at your family's Christmas dinner table and it will be fine, because it's right, but it will hurt for a while as all truly great things do.

And until it stops, I probably shouldn't try to write you long winded love letters on your birthday, now should I? So I think it's best if I don't.

Oh, wait....

Frugal Is The New Burnt Sienna

I am a hair enthusiast. A product junkie. A snob, really. I almost never have tampons; I always have Silk Infusion. I haven't bought eggs in three months, but the last haircut I got cost me a dollar amount that included the numbers one, two and three, with no decimals in-between, and I'll let you guess as to the order those numbers sat in on the receipt I swallowed to hide the evidence.

Not even I give a good enough blow job to get away with that nonsense.

But that's what my hair costs to do, and by do I mean cut, color, highlight, lowlight, product up and style. All to cover some gray hair that four years ago I couldn't wait for. Kids, man, they don't know shit. I never used to pay anything close to that for my hair-do, or more honestly, lack-of-do. Washing it and sleeping on it was my Super Secret Style Technique. My product came in the form of elastic bands wrapped around my wrists. I cut it when it touched the next patch of hair on my body. I was unfettered by the confines of a society's rules for grooming and appearance.

I was Robert Plant.

And then I met a girl who did hair, seriously, for reals, and she showed me a world I didn't know existed. She also used my head as her model hair, so I never had to pay for it, which was awesome. And just like any good dealer of dealerable goods, once I was strung-out hooked she took away the freebies. She got the job she'd needed the model head for and I was left alone, cast aside, with a craving for Wella the likes of which I've only ever known before with a human being writhing under my skin who wanted hot dogs and peanut butter. ALL of the hot dogs and peanut butter.

And in about 2 months, I was Robert Plant again.

Over the years since then, I've amassed an impressive collection of hair styling pastes, salves, infusions and goops. I've learned how to pin curl, to swide-sweep bang, crimp, soft roll, straighten, wave, up-do, down-do...point is, I can do my hair. I just can't bring myself to drop the amount of money they'd like me to on it and since I've been shown the light and now fully appreciate the wonders of the Salon Proper, I only get it done two or three times a years.

And for the other 10 months of the year, I am, you guessed it, Robert Plant.

I'm usually pretty patient in-between haircuts. It's like the choice between the 7-11 coffee or the Starbucks, the husband or a vibrator...I'll wait for the real thing, thank you very much. I've got nothing but time, and no one actually ever sees me anyway except my neighbors who are used to the trainwreck by now, and my husband who actually hasn't been able to look me in the eye since the first little fingers clawed their way out of my vagina some 11 years ago. There's no reason to succumb to the Great Clips haircut when I know the Aveda one is coming. Sometime before I have to buy a new calendar. Maybe.

I totally gave in and got the Great Clips haircut today. I couldn't help it, really. I mean, I made it through BlogHer without so much as a trim, I went on my first business trip looking like an old mop, I've got two trips in the next two weeks coming up and I just didn't want to look like Robert Plant anymore, dammit. So I marched into the Great Clips where I take my kids and I told the girl who looks exactly like my kids godfather's sister to do something, anything, just make it look nice, okay?

She did. Plus.

The highlights are so everything matches my nose hair
Shut up. I haven't done it yet.

I am so fucking in love with this haircut, I can't even tell you. The longest layer used to be the shortest layer. She took more than 3 inches off the bottom and more than half the bulk out, and I still have a really kick ass head of hair. And it's actually kind of curly now, because she didn't just tell me to flat iron the curls my daughter gave me as a "Thanks for the great digs these past 9 months" present, oh no....she cut my hair to SUIT THEM.

And then she gave me a coupon for $10 any Old Navy Purchase for my kids, for back to school. The grand sum totally of this haircut? Contained the numbers one and six. Go ahead, guess which order. And as long as I can learn to love the gray, because hell, at least the carpet would match the curtains again, I can reasonably hope to get a cut every 6 weeks or so and not pay as much as I did for my last cut for, oh, a year and a half or so.

And I won't have to swallow a receipt, or anything else for that matter.

The Post In Which I Negate The Previous Post

My son hasn't been able to walk for a few weeks now. His heel bone has been killing him, which is only funny because I didn't know your heel bone was capable of killing you. I imagined it was much like your brain; you could fillet it and scoop it out and grill it while fully conscious and you'd never know, because for some reason god decided to make The Most Important organ in your body without any nerves at all. Also, delicious, or so I'm told. Intelligent Design, my fat white ass.

Anyway, the kid has been gimping around here with a pouty face rivaled only by 17 year old anorexic porn start wanna-bes and that's funny because he's also breaking out in epic proportions and so totally not eating anything. This from the kid that will eat anything that is incapable of eating him back. Either he's watching his figure and bored already with his newly-acquired vegan lifestyle, or he's going through a massive growth spurt.

Two weeks before school starts. Exactly when all the super good sales are going on. He hates me; he really does.

His knees have been aching, his bones are burning, his hips are making him cry. So yeah, he's going to be taller than me in 3.6 hours. Either that or he's caught the Black Death, which he'll catch anyway if I have to buy that kid another shoe wardrobe this year. Seriously, he was a size 4 junior in January. His new Crocs? Men's 6. Six. MEN'S. I don't even want to talk about the store I had to go school shirt shopping at for him, sufficed to say that I picked myself up a few tank tops while I was there and I can handle sharing Clearasil with him and I can even handle the whole "wash your own damn sheets" conversation, but this shopping at the same store as my firstborn? It's just too much reality for one girl to handle.

Yesterday, we went to visit my neighbor who just moved out a few weeks ago and over tea and, yes, one entire carrot cake later *burp*, she told me about her friend's son who is currently in hospital because he keeps having seizures which are abruptly followed with, you guessed it, aching heels, burning femurs and throbbing hips. It's moved into his arms now, and his legs are collapsing in on each other. This is not information I wanted, especially since I keep sending my son to golf camp every day, and golf camp typically involves the slightest bit of walking for fucking ever.

I came home last night fully intent on taking him to the doctor's office first thing this morning, after golf camp of course, but talked myself out of it when I sent my kids to bed. Because I've done the whole, "Dude, your kid has a mosquito bite, not the measles" thing and I've gotten the, "Seriously, three kids later and you still don't know the croup when you see it?" lecture, which comes at the lowlow price of $3,000 and I just don't have any interest in sitting in a doctor's office, scarring the fuck out of my kid, and getting told to have him drink more milk and shall we up your happy pill medication, Captain Münchhausen?

When the first scream came, it sounded like anger. Whatever; they'll work it out. The second scream sounded like pain. They better get their fucking asses in bed, I cautioned the ceiling. The third scream sounded exactly like the sound you have nightmares about your children making. The kind of scream that makes your uterus wince. I ran, 2of3 ran, hell...3of3 dropped what she was doing and ran to the hallway, where we found 1of3 drowning in tears, with a purple face and a sewing needle sticking straight up from his toenail.

Not since he was a toddler have I heard that sound come out of his mouth. I am not prone to freaking out, but I Freaked. The. Fuck. Out. He freaked out. 2of3 freaked out. 3of3 said, "Yay! I get band-aids!" She's kind of dead inside, I think, or disturbingly obsessed with band-aids. Once we ripped the needle out of the toenail and the blood did its squirt-squirt thing all over the floor and he started breathing again, we limped him downstairs and iced his toe with frozen strawberries. Because I suck at Prepared Mom, that's why.  Dad defied every posted speed limit in North America and battled a crack whore doing her week's grocery shopping at the 7-11 to procure one bag of ice for us, and we all watched Family Guy until 11 while my son's toe numbed enough that he could get to sleep for golf camp in the morning.

I paid a lot of money for golf camp. And will again for therapy, just later.

And karma once again sunk her yellow pointy teeth into my ass by making damn good and sure my kid did get to the doctor's after all, and since I am so lousy at the mom thing that I won't even take my kid to the doctor when he's got alien armies harvesting his leg bone marrow to keep their hair shiny, now I get to take him for a tetanus shot, which is awesome only because, yeah, he's totally not afraid of needles now or anything.

And A Pocketfull Of Kryptonite

Tonight, I have a stomach full of saddness.

Today, my daughter and I were playing some game on the floor; race cars or choo-choo's, I'm not sure. This little game turned into the Big Hug game and the Big Hug game turned into the Eat The Baby game and a few toddler tenderloin bites later, Eat The Baby turned into Tag You're It and Tag You're It turned into You Can't Get Me and everyone knows that You Can't Get Me leads directly to TickleMania 3000, duh.

Basically, we went from DefCon 1 to DefCon 5 in the course of 30 minutes, and what comes up is going to come down with nauseating consistency.

Halfway through TickleMania 3000, the laughter turned to tears. Big, fat, green crocodile tears. The kind of tears that only come when the kid knows they've had enough, but doesn't really want to have had enough, but honestly just can't take anymore. Inner conflict = Fake Cryfest. Fake Cryfest can go one of two ways around here; I get annoyed as all fuck and huff out of the room or I try to divert from the whining to something totally different. Depends on the day, really. Today was Good Mom Day so I went with the latter.

You know, the thing with having older kids and younger kids is that in between those kids, I've found myself forgetting the really good tricks that I always kept rolled up under my t-shirt sleeve. Like the time I couldn't get 3of3 to open her mouth so I could brush her teeth, and right before my fucking head exploded 1of3 came in, took the toothbrush from me, turned her to him and started to sing, "The roof...the roof...the roof is on fire!" and she opened wide and laughed and I wondered how the hell I'd forgotten that little trick along the way. I also oozed pride from every orifice on my body because I taught my son a parenting skill, and he remembered it. Because, really, I don't get many good mom moments, and I have to hold onto them when they come.

My point is that I've forgotten a lot of things that I know for a fact I've already figured out how to do seamlessly, like deflecting a strung-out kid from a near-meltdown. I held her in my arms, watching her tears quickly turning from fake to oh-so-very-real, knowing I had less than a minute to make this better or reap the thunder, and I did the first thing that popped into my mind.

I started to eat the sad out of her.

Yes, maybe not the brightest idea, since Eating The Baby was the game that got us in this mess in the first place, but I was under pressure. I started to look for her sadness. I checked under her chin, I sniffed in her armpits, I prodded her legs, and I couldn't find it. She told me to stop it. I looked in her eyes, her ears, her nostrils, her mouth, but it wasn't there. She said I wasn't her friend anymore. I pulled up her shirt and peeked into her belly button. Maybe?  She did not smile. I sniffed. I wiggled my nose in there. I FOUND IT. She stuck her fingers in my eyeball. And you know what I did? I sucked that sadness right out from her belly button while she tried so hard to whine about it.

When I got all the sadness out, I looked right at her and she got her Very Determined Face on and said, "Stahhhhhhp it, mawwwwm." And then I chewed that sadness up, took a great big fake swing of water, and gulped that sadness right down into my tummy. Yeah, she totally laughed. And then I let her peek in my belly button to make sure the sadness was trapped in there and couldn't bother her anymore today, and then we made more than a few poop jokes and we got on with our day.

And tonight I sit here with a stomach full of sadness and I don't think I've been happier about anything in a really long time.

An Open Letter To Asparagus

Dear Asparagus,

Who exactly do you think you're fooling? Do you think there is not any way I'm not on to you? Because I am, I most certainly assure you.

I first met you in the summer of 1986. I was at my regular Saturday night babysitting gig, and the family I sat for invited me over early that night for dinner. I glanced around the table, eyed the roast, oogled the potatoes, and then my eyes wandered to a large white serving platter containing something the likes of which I'd never seen before.

You sat in a bowl, long and pointy, the shade of green that strikes terror in the heart of anyone under 5' tall. The father of the family asked, "Wanna try some?" I, not yet quick-witted enough to weave a tale desperate or agonizing enough to escape such horrors, politely obliged. I took one small, calculated bite.

"Well, it appears we should call it asperGAGus, huh?", he chuckled. I countered his chuckle with one hearty chuck. The "le" alluded me that night.

I never saw you after that fateful day of my twelfth year (my family's poverty did have its upside) until nearly 20 years later. I was employed at a dark, smoky, posh little bar in downtown Denver that thought way too highly of itself, and on the Saturday night of the fall menu roll-out, our paths again crossed. On the new menu, which consisted solely of over-ingrediented (is TOO a word) tapas, you smuggly sat, glaring at me with a thick air of superiority surrounding your pointy little green head.

Asparagus. Wrapped in prosciutto. Drizzled with strawberry compote. Oh, how you mocked me as you defiled all those fine, innocent young ingredients. How you smirked as you rubbed up against a perfectly good slice of almost-bacon, as you soaked in the sweet juices of the most sensual berry. I turned my gaze away from you that night; why feed the fire? No one would order you, and you would sit cold, alone, and slowly growing flaccid in a stale downtown refrigerator.

How foolish I was.

Table after table oooh'd and ahhhh'd over your pretentiousness. Customer after customer indulged themselves in your vitamin-laded, urine-toxifying stalks. I was brought, nightly, to your putrid alter, but I was stronger than you thought me to be. I never did succumb to your mind games, whiskey shots and drunk-munchies be damned.

I began seeing you rear your ugly head around town. On tapas, in soup, mixed with pasta, you had no shame or discretion. You even dared to appear one morning in the middle of my beloved Eggs Benedict, as if you thought I wouldn't notice you under a sea of hollandaise. Your worst offense, however, happened only days ago when you spied me nearing the refrigerated section at Safeway, pushing a full cart and simultaneously carrying a dead asleep, 5,000 pound almost three year old. As I came closer to you, sweat pouring from my furrowed brow, distracted by two pre-teens desperately seeking cookies, you wiggled your way up to the front of the ravioli section, cleverly hidden amongst cheese raviolis. Knowing there was no way for me to actually read what package I batted into the back of my cart, you made certain you were front and center, the easiest choice.

You made it all the way into my home, sat comfortably in the back of my fridge, and almost saw your scheme to fruition as I boiled water and tossed a salad that one night, only days ago. However, your evil plans were thwarted at the last minute; even though I have no glasses and can barely see, I saw YOU. You underestimate me, and that is a sad mistake to make, my friend. I'm on to you, and I always keep emergency hot dogs on hand. I don't NEED you.

It would appear that you chose to bring some of old cohorts back to the mainstream with you, possibly to deflect some of the attention away from yourself in your attempt at a Retro Resurrection. I will fight, hand over fist, until your asparagus eating, leg-warmer wearing, hairspray using, New Kids on the Block touring, Care Bear collecting, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle animating, Camaro driving, Wayfarer and jelly bracelet wearing posse is disbanded, drawn, and possibly quartered, depending on what time of the month I find you. The 80's were only cool in the 80's, and you, like avocado colored appliances, should never have made it out.

Once, in your prime, you were a valuable source of vitamins A, B, C, folic acid, and an excellent source of torture for parents, but this is the 21st century. We can make something just as vitamin rich as you out for cardboard, and old muffler and some duct tape. And it would be shaped like a teddy bear. And taste like chocolate. And we still have brussel sprouts, and at least they don't run around trying to be all phallic.

Your usefulness has seen its last days. Your welcome has officially worn out. Anything that can make my children's stay in the washroom a more smelly experience is not fit for modern society. It is time to remove yourself from it, before I am forced to do it for you. Asparagus, you are on NOTICE.

Yours in Christ,

Mr Lady