The Courtship of Jenny's Demons

One of my favorite writer friends, Cindy Reed, posted something that really resonated with me last week. Called "I have lost my words", it's an effort made by a writer to explain how it feels when that delicious ability, the almost effortless way some of us can spill our feelings and thoughts into a group of words that make a story...just goes away. Imagine something you can do easily. Something you've always been able to do, and do well. Can you knit? Draw? Ice skate? Now, try to fathom what it would feel like to wake up one day and know damn well that you CAN still do that thing, but for some awful, mysterious reason, you CANNOT do it.

Cindy struggles with things that I do not. But we are both struggling. As I read her post, I felt that warm feeling one gets when you realize that you're not alone. That what you are wrestling with may indeed be your own special kind of demon, but there's someone else, not too far away, who is trying desperately to get their demon into a full nelson, too.

I miss being here. I miss sitting in my bed with my crappy laptop heating up the tops of my legs while I blissfully clickety-clack away, oblivious to the minutes sprinting by or the dawn creeping up outside my windows.

I miss connecting with people, miss writing things that kinda make me feel insane but I know just make sense. I miss this. The sound of the keyboard, my dog snoring next to me, the taste of my way-too-strong-coffee fresh in my mouth. The television show I have on for company sounds far away and distant and although it's something I'd love to just sit and watch, it's taken a back seat to what's happening right here, right now.

So what's the deal, Jenny? I've asked myself that question every single day for the past several months. Many times a day. After I read something inspiring. After I read something insipid and roll my eyes. After I read something that's just kind of meh, I think, "I could have done that better." And then that part of me I can't stand, that bitch Inner Critic, says, "Could have and did are two different things, loser."

I'm struggling lately. My life is actually going pretty well, on the surface. The money stress is not as bad as it's been in the past. The emotional distress of raising teens is in a semi-reposed place right now. I love my job and going to work is not something I do with any dread or disdain. And yet, I'm struggling.

Fat shame on me, my weight is, well...weighing on me as of late. If you've been here a while you know self acceptance is not one of my strengths. Apparently, eating everything in the world and not exercising is. But if you are cut from the same cloth, you know. You know that sometimes hating yourself is much more convenient than doing anything about it. Excuses flow from me like lava. "I'm tired!" "It's so dark out!" "I don't have time to work out and shower before I have to be back at work!" "None of my exercise bras fit." Blah blah blah. This particular struggle seems to have overshadowed everything right now, and frankly, it's becoming tiresome.

My son Henry has this super annoying habit of taking pictures of me. All.The.Time. While I'm driving, when we're standing in the kitchen, as we sit on the couch. Takes them and then shares them on whatever site all the kids are on these days. Snapchat maybe. Or is that so last year? #clueless  All I know is that I hate it. Sometimes I feel like one of those ancient peoples who believe that the camera will steal my soul. Except my fear is that the camera will expose mine.

So the other night, he snapped one of me while I sat there and played Words With Friends on my phone. My face was tilted downward and he took it from an upwards angle. CHIN CITY, folks. Plus, I was wearing my massive black and white heathered sweater-burka that keeps me warm but also makes me look like a killer whale with a pigment disorder. I demanded that he show me the picture and when he complied I wanted to die.

"God, Henry...you have to stop doing that. I am so ugly!" I said this with conviction and not in the way one does when fishing for encouragement or compliments. I topped it off with "I am disgusting and fat and I hate myself right now."

Henry looked at me and said this: "I think you look great, Mom." And then, because he's one of those wise kids, he said, "If you think you're fat, you should do something about it."

Uh huh. So there's that. I guess it's just a matter of the loathing defeating the lazing. Which, fingers crossed, happens soon. I miss wearing jeans and also I'm getting tired of pulling my stunned stomach muscles when I bend over to put my boots on.

Another struggle I've been having is something of a similarly personal nature, but with a more intimate twist. I've been involved with someone, off and on, for a long time. (no, it's not John McCain, but this one overlapped and intertwined with that whole debacle-relationship) I've never written about it, and aside from divulging to a few close friends, never discussed it with others. To call it a "relationship" would be like calling leggings "pants": probably true by definition but certainly a misappropriation of the word.

It's nothing serious, and yet it reeks of solemnity. I walk away from it feeling bad, and even my fractured self knows that means it's not something worthwhile. It makes me feel wanted, at least for a little bit, but at the same time makes me feel despicable and lowly and so bottom-feederish. It's only future is that there isn't one, and for some reason that very aspect of it gives me comfort. Knowing that it's nothing more than pure and unfettered physicality, with no strings, no annoying conventional relationship complications attached, makes it easy. Easy to continue despite the very obvious fact that it's holding me back from finding someone who has strings and complications that I might find attractive. Fun, even.

For someone who likes to discuss the size and grandeur of my balls, they are nowhere in sight when it comes to this quandary. And that, like my current dissatisfaction with my weight, is bugging me.

Phew. I feel like I just spent some quality time in a confessional. And I haven't even gotten to the part about blogging, and how I'm more and more apt to disassociate myself from that word. Let's just say, I started out as a "blogger" but now find it almost embarrassing to be called that. I think it really struck home when an Allstate commercial came out that shows a tired mommy having an off day and yet still strives to be the best damn mommy ever. She proclaims, "I should totally start a blog." and then crashes her SUV into a pole. I'm a mom, I have a blog...does that make me a mommy blogger? These are the thoughts that haunt me, people. I'm a lot like Thoreau in that way.

But this is already way too long and rambly. Just so I don't forget, I'll remind myself here that a good title for the next post would be "Mid-Blog-Life Crisis". Let's just hope it doesn't take me six months to get to it.

Thanks, as always, for reading. And for being here.


Surviving Winters

Yesterday was The Day Before here in Minneapolis. Our panic-mongering weather people peppered us with maps and tweets and facebook updates, warning us that OUR FIRST SNOWFALL was imminent and hooo boy is was gonna be a doozy. Reports claimed anywhere from 5 to 15 inches, and woe unto you if you had to travel ANYWHERE.

Since most of us are dyed-in-the-wool Minnesota natives, we handled it like we always do: all of us, every single person who had ears and eyes and had heard of Snowpocalypse, went grocery shopping. Me included.

I dragged myself from the couch, where I'd been perched all day watching chick-flicky rom coms (dear God I sobbed at the end of Knocked Up all over again), and headed to SuperTarget to get provisions for my ever-decreasing brood. Molly had also asked for another Dorm Room Care Package, so I figured I was killing two birds with one Red Card.

The parking lot looked like it was December 23rd instead of November 9th. Throngs of people were flowing into and out of the Bullseye Palace, looks of panic and horror worn on their faces like cheap Halloween masks. I clenched my jaw, grabbed a cart, and found my spot in the river of humanity.

Of course I hadn't bothered to make a list. I had Molly's requests lined up in my brain, a foggy deck of cards that kept slipping out of order:

Stridex pads
Reese's peanut butter cups
A mug
A measuring cup
Paper bowls  and
"other snacks because I'm freaking starving" per her text

I'd taken a quick inventory of the cupboards and fridge before leaving home, and therefore had a vague picture of what we were running low on and what we were completely out of. Since our fridge is the perfect size for a family of American Girl dolls, we never have as much as I think is necessary. The freezer is crammed tight, a Jenga-tower of meat packs and bags of veggies and maybe a giant bottle of Prairie Vodka. (hey, you don't get to judge me just because I like my martinis super cold, okay? We all handle being stuck in Minnesota our own way, folks.).

My giant red cart filled up in no time, ground turkey and beef and chicken thighs and breasts providing a thick, chilly landing pad for the buns and oatmeal and cans of soup. I moved up and down the aisles with purpose, exchanging all-knowing nods of grim acknowledgment with my fellow shoppers.

I've lived in Minnesota for 46 years. Winter, like shit, happens here with an amazing regularity. Like clockwork, almost. And yet it seems to be such an alarming affront every single year. Like, we think that maybe this will be the year it skips us. "Al Gore warned us that winters would start becoming more mild, ya know". 

I used to look forward to the first snow with glee. Childlike, innocent glee. And then, not so much. I can't pinpoint exactly when this change happened, but I know it became serious when I stopped driving a giant truck and switched to a Starkist Tuna can with Hot Wheel tires. Driving in this crap used to be a nuisance, now it has become a duel to the death between me and the roads. Where most people live, "white-knuckle driving" means you're gripping the steering wheel pretty tight. Here in Minnesota, it means the bones of your hands actually pop out because you are hopped up on cortisol and believe with every fiber of your being that death is imminent any time you drive farther than a block.

So back at Target, I finished up my shopping with a very unnatural efficiency. I didn't even stop at a single clearance end cap, or visit the Big Girl rack to see if they'd gotten any new sweater burkas in stock. No, this wasn't a time for my usual Target trip, whereupon I maybe get a coffee at Starbucks and wander aimlessly through the rows of moderately-priced semi-essentials. There was no "oh maybe I should look at throw pillows" or "gee didn't Henry mention he'd like that giant Ninja Turtle onsie pajama thing for Christmas" train of thought during this venture. No, this was all business and business-like is how I handled it. I was Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, except I had a shirt on and I wasn't vacuuming.

My cart was at capacity and my feet were getting tired so I decided that whatever I had grabbed was going to have to be enough to tide us over. I made my way to the checkout lanes and found one which wasn't 20 people long. I found out, momentarily, that the reason it was so short was because one of those super couponing cuckoos was waged in an all-out war with the teenage cashier over an expired coupon. "What the hell" I thought, and parked there, knowing that one of the uber-efficient Target managers would be over soon, keychain jingling and face set in a kind-but-firm smile/grimace ready to calm everyone down and get that lane moving. It happened just as I thought, the manager deciding to give the woman her 25 cents off and the woman giving the cashier a smug "I WON" look before finally paying and moving on her way.

I decided I would be the ray of sunshine in this poor young cashier's day, so I was pleasant and chit chatty. We discussed ADD and coupons and snow and I discovered she attends school with my son Henry and his homies. We then discussed how hard it is to be a teenager and bullying and I made a mental note to talk to Henry and his homies about being nice and not being dicks. I wanted to grab that oh so beautifully awkward girl, take her home, make her some cocoa and tell her that yes, it sucks now but someday she'll be in her 40's and none of that crap will matter...but that would have been kidnapping so instead I just smiled at her and told her "Some day all of this will be just a tiny sliver of your past, my friend. Hang in there."

So I had some tears in my eyes when I rolled my cart, now full of neatly bagged foodstuffs, out to my tuna-can car and loaded it up. I thought about how we are all so ensconced in our own bubbles of worry and fret that we forget about all of the other bubbles floating around us. It took a young Target cashier struggling with being, in her words, "a bully magnet" to not-so-gently shake me out of my fugue. Snow comes, snow melts. It's inconvenient and yes, driving in it scares the bejeesus out of me. But I imagined what it was like to be 17 again, 17 and not cookie-cutter cute or a jock or one of the cool smart chicks. I remembered what it was like, and as I drove home, enjoying what was most likely my last non-white-knuckle drive for a while, I said a little prayer for that Target cashier and for all the other kids like her. I prayed that her winter, that cold, awful season some of us call high school, would pass quickly and painlessly and that she'd soon be looking back at it with a sigh of relief and a new-found appreciation of spring.

Also, I forgot Molly's Stridex pads. So I'll be heading out again today. Knuckles, armed and ready. I think I can handle this.


BPBP: The Bullet Point Blog Post

  • It's been over a month since I've posted, and OMG I love you guys so much. Emails and comments and concern..."Hope you're okay!?!" messages. Come here and give me some sugar, my lovelies. Feel free to pull my hair just a tiny bit while we hug. Too much? Sorry. You bring out the lover in me.
  • I'M FINE. Kids are fine, dog is fine, everyone is fine. It's just taking me a while to adjust to our crazy new schedule.
  • Speaking of schedules: YES I AM EMPLOYED. Full time, insurance, sick days, the whole kit and caboodle. I have an angel disguised as an elementary school principal to thank for this. To say I'm #blessed is a massive understatement.
  • The new hours are insane. I'm at school by 6:30 a.m., and three days a week I don't leave until 6:15 p.m. I'm wearing several hats and love each one of them. Clerical, teaching reading to first graders, supervisory/para stuff...after this year I will be highly qualified to perform just about any job in an elementary school. Except, like be a real teacher. I'm thinking of going back to school again...
  • So with the new hours, my two remaining kids at home are 100% responsible for getting themselves up and ready and out the door for their bus at 7:00 a.m. And guess what? THEY'RE NAILING IT. Proud of my boys. We've only had one "omg mom we overslept why didn't you wake us up" call and now they know I mean business. Funny how it's taken me almost two decades of parenting to learn this lesson: give them the responsibility and they'll do it. Hanging my kinda-sorta enabling parenting head in shame.
  • My two college babies are thriving and surviving. It's hard for me to not try to live vicariously through Molly, though: she's nothing at all like I was in college (thank GOD) and although I know it's a good thing, part of me is worried that she's missing out on some of those stupid, beer-scented memories. Then someone (usually Molly) will remind me that I never graduated and my focus becomes clear again. 
  • Hello, fall television. I'm in love with Viola Davis and "How To Get Away With Murder", my second-in-command-pretend-boyfriend James Spader and "The Blacklist" and I'm gonna admit it right here, the boys on "Chicago Fire" keep me warm. I've also caught up on "The Good Wife" and of course Sunday nights are whole again thanks to "The Walking Dead" (although the last episode bored me to tears...). We also enjoyed "The Strain", thanks to Corey Stoll who is a tall, thick oak-tree I'd climb in a hot second.
  • Hey! I had a birthday! I'm 48 now and somehow still feel like a 20-something inside. I had a big party at my house and was surrounded by friends and love and martinis. It was beautiful:  
    I've know these ladies for over 30 years. Love, love, LOVE.
  • Speaking of parties, my BFF Danielle and I hosted a Halloween bash at my house last weekend. We fretted and worried that nobody would come and it would end up just being the two of us, drinking and taking selfies. We were so pleased that not only did a bunch of people show up, it was a raging good time. Next year's party is already being planned. We did manage to take one kick ass selfie, though:  
    Axl and Slash in the house! We had to bum a cig from one of Danielle's young coworkers. 
  • Okay so I kind of lied about everything being totally fine. I was completely stressed out during October, which killed me because October is usually the last sweeeet and fun month before the holiday stuff kicks in. But, the alimony that Big Daddy has been paying pretty faithfully for the past few years was scheduled to end on November 1st (have you heard of a Karon waiver? It was in our decree where alimony was concerned and it was a blessing/curse. More about that later). I've known the day was coming and tried my best to prepare for it. It's not a huge amount but of course it's helped. So I was freaking out about having this hole in my finances. Turns out the end of alimony means that child support goes up. Way up. I pretty much gave myself an ulcer wondering how I'd approach him with the numbers that the Minnesota child support calculator gave me. Talked to my lawyer friends, consulted with the hens, basically agonized over every single worst-case scenario my cuckoo brain could come up with. Turns out...all it took was an email. Is it possible that we've reached the amicable stage of our divorce? After only 8 years? So, my whackadoo bad thoughts have been put to rest for now, and I'm feeling pretty freaking good about life. I will say, stress is a total bitch. I couldn't sleep, couldn't focus, chewed the inside of my mouth to a pulp and ate pretty much everything that I could fit in my pie hole. When he agreed to the child support, I felt that monkey climb off my back and I've been walking on sunshine ever since. Still eating, though, because it's November in Minnesota and that's how we do.
  • How's menopause, you ask? I'd like to say THANK YOU to my wise sister-friends who advised me to hang onto the boxes of super plus tampons in my bathroom closet. Because after two blissful months of menses-freedom *bam* it came back. Like a mofo. Sigh. At least now I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And I'm also very thankful to have a black office chair. 
That's the end of the bullet pointing, folks. I will be back, just like Arnold in The Terminator. Thank you all for hanging out and checking in and just basically being your wonderful selves. Now I'm off to research UV lights to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. #winteriscoming
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...