What I Haven't Got

Winter's change is the cruelest of all, for me. It is frozen and dark and offers no glimmers of hope, except those that twinkle reflecting off the frozen tundra, mirages in the desert of our lives holding out the distance sparkle of solace where the reality is that there is none to be had, and it is cold, and there is a long way to go before there will be warm, golden light.

Everyone is writing their end of the year posts this week. The best books they've read, the coolest places they've traveled to, the best pictures they've taken, the best goals they can think of for themselves in 2013 - this is the week that pretty much everyone looks in the rear view mirror, checks their blind spot, and changes lanes along the highway of their lives. People woke up on Tuesday - maybe refreshed, maybe hungover, maybe pregnant, and stared down a new day and a new year with the determination to do/be/write/love/act better.

More. Bigger. Differently. Something. 

These are the moments for which I hold my breath and wait for time to pass. These are the days I pray for forgetfulness or distraction. These are the times I wish I wasn't, and didn't, and won't. 

My year isn't ending yet. My year ends on January 7th when my entire world did. It ends again on January 25th, when the new house of cards I'd spent 17 years meticulously building up came crashing down. My year isn't restarting yet.  It begins anew on January 9th, just like it has every year since 1992 when I was shoved headfirst through an airplane jetway and into a brand new life. 

January marks the days of my mother - the day I lost her, and the day I left her forever. January marks the day I lost my husband and decided in my heart, if not my head, to leave him forever, too. January is not the month I reset or recharge or realigned; it is the month I die over and over again. January is a month of resignation, of giving in - letting go and letting whatever the hell will make this easier

...

But I am trying to change that. 

This year will be the first calendar year that I live start to finish intentionally, for myself, not in a way that I feel like someone else is making me live but in the way that I chose to live. I ended this year entirely too far over the edge of the precipice to let anyone pull me back into that old cycle, that old life that I keep setting myself up to live through and die from over and over again.  

I'm learning - no, I've always known, I'm trying to accept - how much of everything that has transpired is my own fault. I didn't make my husband drink-and-everything-that-comes-with-it, but he certainly didn't make me stay, either. I perceive requirements that don't always actually exist and customize my life around them, because I am a highly skilled, professionally groomed enabler, and that is what we do best. I've been so afraid of change that I found a near exact replica of my relationship with my mother and entered into a legally binding, contractual, lifetime relationship with it. 

Every January I mourn these losses that are in fact gifts. Twice in my life I have held my nose and stood tippy-toes-over a precipice, waiting and hoping for something, someone, god will anything just come shove me over? because I certainly have never had the courage to leap on my own accord. Twice in my life I have been given exactly that which I have wished for. 

And it is a gift. These weights I cling to are actually disguised wings. I just have to figure out how to use them to fly.

Breaking Belly Button News

***** BREAKING NEWS UPDATE *****

(December 31, 2012, from Mr Lady Torso Cheif @Schadenfreudette) Images from the scene have started to come in and they are indeed as disturbing as we had feared.  (Warning: these images are of a graphic nature and may not be appropriate for sensitive readers.)

After a busy day of speculation across multiple social media channels, Mr Lady retrieved the object pictured above from the Belly Button.  A resounding "WTF IS THAT?" was heard 'round the internet as theories once thought ridiculous, now seem completely plausible.  "When I first saw the pictures, I thought it was some sort of bug," said Schadenfreudette in between gagging noises. "But clearly it must be some sort of alien antenna. We've got people working on it now."

Mr Lady insists that the object actually appears to be an intact set of stitches, but was unable to explain where they might have come from. There is a remote possibility that Developer has launched a nanotechnology initiative to reconnect the umbilicus.  Mr Lady Worldwide Torso PR is standing by the theory of imminent alien eruption, as it is the more favorable of either scenario.

The internet is welcoming the tiny alien being with open arms, though the yet unnamed life form is trying to keep a low profile.  It has been spotted out and about disguised as Axl Rose and in the company of its pterodactyl posse.  It is also in talks to record a song with R Kelly entitled "Trapped in the Navel while Trapped in the Closet."

 3of3 has provided this illustration of her new "puppy-kitty-sister-brother!!!" and we hope to have a family picture soon.  

Reluctant to comment is Jim Lin, saying only "As long as that's the only orifice excreting alien/stich/nano things, I'm cool. But I'd rather not think about it too much right now."

It is expected that the "alien/stitch/nano thing" will have it's own Twitter account soon. This effort might be led by the team responsible for Bubble Yum Wind Tunnel.  We'll bring you updates as they become available.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ninth Circle of Hell, AZ – (December 30, 2012) – In what can only be described as a definitive - yet gruesome - display of its true feelings, Mr Lady’s Belly Button spewed forth a significant amount of blood in the early morning hours.  The Belly Button was initially established over 30 years ago as an umbilical cord delivering vital nutrients directly from the original developer of the project, Mr Lady's mother.  The umbilicus was severed soon following completion and delivery,  and the figurative umbilicus was severed approximately 16 years later.  This recent development is widely regarded as a final "FUCK YOU" to the developer, as it was the closest portal by which they were connected, though there is still much speculation.  Until an official cause is released, rumors persist of an imminent alien eruption or the regrowth of Mr Lady's Uterus.  (Uterus could not be reached for comment, but was last seen on the Sarah Lawrence campus, double majoring in Public Policy and Women's Studies with a minor in Drum Circle Leadership.)  We are still awaiting photos from the scene, but witnesses describe it as "totally weird" and "a little unsexy, but just flip over."   

When asked about the possibility of reconstruction efforts, Jim Lin (Ladyparts Liaison and General Manager) was reluctant to confirm details. "The work done in 2010 was really fantastic, but this is a completely different orifice.  If we aren't careful, we'll have lint coming at us like ninja stars and that's not safe for any one."

We'll keep you updated as reports come in from the field.  If you have news regarding this breaking story, please contact Schadenfreudette with Mr Lady Worldwide Torso PR (Formerly "Mr Lady Reproductive Public Relations")

 

Related News:

Lights Out for Legendary Venue, Mr Lady's Uterus
The last photograph we tried to publish of my post-surgery belly button/demon 
Liz B totally called this demon thing, BTW.   

And then something came out:

That is cloaked in anonymity
But might be a satyr 
Or a sweet belly button demon of mine

And then we made a Pinterest board for it:

http://pinterest.com/mrlady/and-then-one-morning-i-woke-up-with-a-belly-button/ 

Day Two Hundred Seventy Eight

We're doing this thing right now that someone, I think it was Deb Rocks, described once to me as killing our relationship so thoroughly that we will never be able to rebuild it. This has all very conveniently happened over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and I will have more to say about that later. 

My blog turns eight in a few weeks. I've had this blog longer than I've had my daughter, and in those eight years it's become an issue with him more than once. It really became an issue last week, and I'll have more to say about that later, too. 

Sometimes you just have to take the fuel away from the fire, you know? So I shut my blog down on Christmas Day, because it wasn't worth the battle it was causing, and I'll have more to say about that later, also also.

But then my friend Elan asked me if she could use this post of mine in her 2012 Five Star Friday wrap-up post. I don't actually know how to make that post public, but none of the other ones, so for right now, the blog is back up. Because I am physically incapable of telling Elan no, shut up. 

So much of what I don't say it out of fear. I don't even know what I'm afraid of anymore, is the thing. I lost him, I lost my husband, I lost the man I thought at 20 that I would love forever and ever to a bottle of vodka and it didn't kill me. In fact, it worked out kind of nicely for me in the end. I realized after a really long dark time in my life that I was able to love, and able to be loved in return. Of course, entering into a healthy, happy relationship with my best friend 18 months after I asked for a divorce makes me an adulterous whore if you ask my husband, or his family, probably because he was too drunk at the time to remember me asking for a divorce which is, of course, completely my fault/problem, but you know what? So be it. I'd rather be a happy 37 year old adulterous whore than a miserable co-dependent enabling self-deluded trapped asshole.

But I'm still kind of afraid he's reading this, even though he's twice promised he would leave my blog alone and once demanded that I write about him on it so that I could resume being "a really nice lady" to his face, and I'm kind of afraid that he'll use it against me, even though I have been summarily forbidden from using anything against him that happened anytime before, oh, five minutes ago because i'm just a vindicate bitch who lives only in the past, you know? 

But I think I need to read day fourteen again, and I think I need to read days 1 and 22 again, and any of the other days which I mustered the courage to put pieces of this out here where they sit under the bright flashing florescent lights of the internet waiting to be dissected and picked apart and twisted and mouth-fed back to me by people who have never, it turns out, really given two shits about me at all. 

Why this continues to be a surprise to me is anyone's guess. Fool me once and all. 

So I don't really know what I'm doing next here, with this old blog that has seen this same story told over and over again. But for today, I know that a whole bunch of people who have written truly extraordinary bits of wonder on the internet are being celebrated here, and I'm so super humbled to be one of them, and everything else I have to say about this can wait until tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after that, when I am feeling less angry and more brave. 

We Are

{First, and related enough to make sense: Voting for Clorox's Power a Bright Future grant ends in just a few days. You can vote once a day for any school project you like, and help kids learn better, play harder, or create bigger. It's worth the 45 seconds, promise.}

My baby was one year and six days old. I was a work at a 50's diner in Denver, right across the street from Veteran's Hospital and Bonfil's blood bank. It was a totally normal morning, unremarkable in every way. People came for their eggs and hashbrows and hair of the dog, my breasts ached from the remnants of milk my son no longer wanted, but my body didn't want him to be done with. Coffee flowed, some alt-swingesque band played on the stereo speakers hidden between the vintage lunch boxes that hung like garland on the walls, and two young boys shot and killed 12 of their peers and one of their teacher just a few miles away from us. 

We watched the line begin to wrap about the blood center, then around the building, then around the block. We called home to our children, because on April 20th, 1999, none of the parents of those children could reach the school, their children, or anyone - because no one knew how to handle this. 

Ray sat at our counter like he did every day for 25 years, sipped his coffee like he did evvery day for 25 years, and didn't make eye contact with any of us, unlike he had done for 25 years. I asked him if he was okay and he said two words before looking back down at the clouds in his coffee.

"My granddaughter."

She was fine, victim only to the fear and the lockdown the school went under that bright, sunny, perfectly insidious spring day not so far from Littleton, Colorado that we didn't feel it in our ribs, under our nails, far back in our throats. We were Columbine, and we still are. We all, together, wear that awful, horrible shroud that colors our lives in shades of dark, lurking fear of what could be. 

Two days ago I woke up beside the man I am so very lucky to love, wrapped myself up against San Francisco's bitter winter chill, and set out to buy holiday presents with him together, for our children who have always been an odd, unmatched and indefinable family but are at the cusp of become a real, bonifide, Dapper Dan family. We took awkward kissy my space self portraits, tweeted about our happiness, and in between refreshes of our twitter feed while we stood in line for eggs benedict and lemon apple french toast, I heard my friend, one of his and my first friends, say two words.

"My nephew."

She said more words than that, but I didn't hear them. It was 1999 all over again, I was too far away from my own babies, and this time it was 20 children. These children were just beginning school, not ended it. It isn't Columbine but it is in my jaws and my stomach. It, this, it keeps touching my life and I know, I KNOW, that it isn't for one moment about me - I am not burying my baby tomorrow, I didn't in 1999, and I most likely never will - but this has knocked the wind out of me. 

I am frantic to help. I am numb and I am aching and I don't know what to do except to write it out. 

I was Columbine and today I am Noah. We all are. We are Noah, and Newtown, and Birmingham, and each and every one of the children in this country who has died in their school or in their church or one their front porch for no reason whatsoever except that someone decided they should.

VDog asked me to help gather up some poems that her sister in law, and the other mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers could read tomorrow as the services for the children begin. Audre Lorde is tearing at the back of my throat, waiting me to stand on a corner and scream her words, as angry and broken today as they were in 1963 when four black girls died for daring to be black and go to church:

He is forver trapped
who suffers his own waste.
Rain leaching the earth           for lack
of roots to hold it
and children who are murdered
before their lives begin.

Who pays his crops to the sun
when his fields lie parched by drought
will mourn the lost water
waiting another rain.
But who shall disinter these girls
to love the women they were to become
or read the legends written beneath their skin?

We who love them remember their child's laughter
But he whose hate robs him of their gold
has yet to weep at night above their graves.

But I don't think that will help my friend and her family find peace in their mourning. So maybe you could leave a link to a poem you love, one that brings you peace, or speaks of the light every child on earth shines which should never be extinguished. They would like to read poems at the services, and find comfort in them during the dark times that are about to come. 

Other ways to help:

And if you are able, please consider leaving $1 for VDog's nephew's service and burial. A whole lot of $1's can make a massive difference. The family needs time and money to heal. $1 really does help. Thank you.

If you would like to send notes, cards, sympathies, flowers, or any other physical items, Friends Of Maddie is gathering and distributing all items to the family of Noah Pozner. Friends of Maddie is the non-profit set up in loving memory of Madeline Spohr, another angel lost to the world, and to our corner of the blogosphere, all too soon. 

You can pray. If you don't pray, you can think reeeeal hard in their direction. My friend, VDog's friend, our friend Dawn of Kaiser Mommy has posted prayers in Jewish (Noah is Jewish) and in Christian (is that what you call it?) and since I'm an atheist I'll just jump right in and say that it doesn't really matter if you actually pray or not, and it doesn't matter if there is a god listening on the other end. What matters is that we take all the long and stregth and glimmers of hope that we can muster and shove them east. What matters is that our hearts are here to hold theirs, and each others up. Call it what you will. 

We are going to get through this. We are going to find a way to make sure this is the last time this happens. We are not going to be complacent anymore, and we are going to keep our schools and churches safe for our children.

We are.

We must. 

Catapults are Totally Underrated

I remember the day my middle child asked me if he could play violin. I stammered, looked at him, picked my jaw up off the floor, and said, "blergnaschmurna?" I figured he'd play drums or bass guitar, but couldn't have seen a classical instrument coming if you paid me to. Now his brother, the one that was born 75 years old with bunions and a cane to wave the youngsters off his lawn? *He* is my classical music guy. He's played in the band since he was in grade two, and plays in three different bands today. 2of3 is really good at getting boogers out of his head.

So when he told me he wanted to play violin, all I could think was refinement! social graces! possibly less tattoos! and I immediately said yes, ran out to rent him a violin, and consulted my fellow tiger mom for tips to get him good, fast.  

Fake musical interlude: screechle, screelche, little screeeeeeech, how I wonder how any parent survives goddamn violin lesson. 

He's as good as your normal suburban white kid with an XBox problem. I don't make him practice as much as I should, it comes just easily enough for him that he doesn't have a true fear of failure, and his teacher thinks he's really adorable and being really adorable gets you freaking far in junior high school.

So of course he wants to quit. I mean, they're building catapults in shop. Do you have any idea how good catapult building looks on your MIT application*?

Of course I told him no, because learning to build catapults won't help him learn to speak other languages, or improve his posture, or teach him patient dedication, or get me Disgrasian of the Weak**, and besides, quitting is for suckers. We don't quit. We are Mr Ladys. We see things through***.

 So I told him no and then I thought about it, and I looked around at the 18 pounds of origami folded all over the damn house, and I looked at him, and I talked to my boyfriend about it, and that's another story for another day but squee, and I got to thinking that all this time I knew Classy Classical Music in the Very Classy Orchestra wasn't going to be his thing, but building stuff? That's his bag. Just ask every scrap of paper he's ever turned into a flower or car or bracelet. 

And then I quit not letting him quit. I signed the forms he needed and let him drop out of violin class for industrial tech. Because it suits him better, nothing more. (Of course, every 7th grade boy in this area code wants to build catapults and after all that they denied his request to transfer so I get another semester of Ukrainian Bell Carol, his playing of which disgraces his ancestors in a way that none of us will ever truly comprehend until our day of reckoning. But it makes me thankful for my Ukrainainly-genetic tolerance to grain alcohols.)

And my point is that he has all these opportunites and choices in life, and I am so grateful for the luck that we've had to be in the position to have to choose between catapults and violins. Not every kid has these choices. 

But more kids can. I know my last post was about this, but my this post is about this, too. Clorox's Power a Bright Future Grant helps school win money to support programs that inspire play, creation, and exploration. They help more kids get the chance to choose between violins and catapults. How we can help is simply by voting at https://powerabrightfuture.clorox.com/. Anyone 13 and older can vote once a day until December 19th.

It's a big freaking deal for a school to get money that doesn't have to go to books or food. It's a big freaking deal to build a catapult in junior high school. It's a big enough deal that I'm working with Clorox all the way until the end of the program to get more votes for schools. (Like, I posted twice. THIS MONTH) Take a moment to vote, or have your kids vote, or have them post to Instagram for a chance to win their own prizes (like we have here and here).

It's free, it only takes a moment, and it could very well change a kid's life. 

*probably pretty damn good, actually.
**lifelist item #20
***Unless of course those things are pre-K soccer, scrapbooking, making our own advent calendars, yoga, keeping leopard geckos alive, bloggin, the gifted and talented writing club, and/or marriage vows.