The Male Sibling Unit and the holidays, or better: It’s beginning to look a lot like F*** this.

The Male Sibling Unit is in a tizzy of sorts.

With the holidays nearly upon us, he is trying to sort out his complicated social calendar. So many parties to attend! So many outfits to plan! He is truly a social butterfly, very happy to be the center of attention in his own mind, but not quite as socially dynamic as he envisions himself to be. Oh, I am sure that in his head, he is John Travolta a la Saturday Night Fever on the dance floor, but truth be told, he resembles Ed Grimley from Saturday Night Live in both movement and personality. “Awkward” was a word invented for him by some ancient, visionary, psychic person who said, “You know? I’ll bet there’s going to be someone in the future who embodies this word.”

 

The thing about The Male Sibling Unit is that he likes to talk about these upcoming events. A lot. Every day. Months before they actually happen. Hell, months before he actually knows the date of said events. In the past, I would just try to handle the incessant chatter, because I am not the kind of person who dwells on the things that are going to happen in the future until they are nearly upon us. I’m not a procrastinator as such, but I just prefer to concentrate on the here and now instead of thinking about something that’s not happening for 3, 6, 9 months. Eventually, I would explode with frustration at his tendency to dwell on the next Christmas party at work the day after the last one. I am acutely aware of such outbursts of irritation toward him because that’s how our mother chose to handle him in nearly every possible conversation she had with him. I am not kidding. Back in the days when I was married to my biggest mistake and we had bought our first house next door to her, I would rise at 6am to get my kids going for the day and hear her screaming at him. Yes, through the walls of two houses in the winter, and of course, through an open window in the summer, which is more understandable. Our houses were perhaps 6 feet apart, which isn’t much, and our kitchens were side-by-side. I’m not trying to explain how I was able to hear her. I am explaining that she was screaming at him at 6am. I know, I know…..don’t bother someone before they’ve had their coffee. I am such a person, but I don’t scream or rip faces off. I am more likely to stumble about, blind, muttering incoherent bits of sentences, and groping for my Xanax if I have woken in the throes of a panic attack. (It happens. A lot.)

But our mother? Would. Rip. Your. Face. Off. Simple questions from The Male Sibling Unit like, “Should I wear a sweatshirt today?” or statements like “We are almost out of milk” would elicit banshee-like shrieks of fury only heard in the best, most terrifying horror films. One morning, one of my kids – I don’t remember which one – asked me, “Why is Grandma so mean to Uncle Charlie?” My answer was probably something along the lines of “She hasn’t had her coffee” or maybe even “Because she’s a bitch” if I was feeling particularly hostile toward her on that day. The truth is, I was used to it. She did it to me, too, but I was intellectually savvy enough to learn, very young, that you just didn’t engage her in the morning.  (Or any other time.) The Male Sibling Unit, he of a less advanced intellectual capacity, didn’t grasp this, and still hasn’t, and she’s 5 years dead and gone. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, I imagine he expects her to pop out of a room one day, bellowing at him. Death has little meaning to him.

shrieking_hag_by_madamethenadierd3i7ilj
An actual illustration of our mother before coffee. And after.

The point is, I try, very hard, to never explode at him. I am not her. Sometimes, it’s hard. Sometimes, I am pushed beyond my limits. But I have tried to come up with simple rules he needs to follow about these things, because he is very regimented when it comes to following most rules. Even better, if you make him charts, he will follow them religiously. Now, I have a hard and fast rule that, if it is not happening in the actual month we are in, we don’t talk about it. It works. Most of the time. He is, lately, very verbal and OCD about the things he does every day. He will chant to himself his tasks or responsibilities and actions for the day, in order. If I have’t got my Mom filter on (the one that only hears the shit we absolutely need to hear in case someone is in danger of hurting themselves or someone else, or truly in some sort of jeopardy….if you’re a mom, you know exactly what Superpower I am talking about) I will hear him and call him Rain Man in a joking sort of way.

Anyway, we are in the midst of furtive mutterings about parties and gifts when he thinks I am not listening. I hear him, though, and when he slips up and starts making his vocal lists about each event and who’s going and what they will eat and how much he will dance and then on to the next event, I have to modulate my voice to stifle the rising tide of exasperation and remind him that we have rules. Thanksgiving? We can talk about that. Christmas, though? Please. No. It’s bad enough that the TV commercials started the day after Halloween and I have people on my Facebook page crowing excitedly about how they already put their tree up and have been playing Christmas music for a month and don’t even get me started on the retail world and the tinsel-covered, ornament bedazzled, Christmas vomitus blanketing every single store, every single window, every website. I just can’t do it. Not yet. I have begrudgingly begun some shopping, but that’s only because my children have procreated an astonishing number of grandchildren and it’s as daunting a task to manage their gifts as it was 20-odd years ago, with five young kids.

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The Male Sibling Unit has a girlfriend now, and that has become a major consideration when planning his holidays and his shopping. He knows he should buy her a gift, but truly, it is less about the gift than the fact that he gives her one. He really doesn’t actually care about what he should buy her, and will offer up suggestions like “a necklace?” when asked what he would like to buy her. She is older than him, and is capable of living independently, with guidance from social workers, so her needs are a bit more refined than he imagines. I have begun planning his gifts to her, and he’s perfectly cool with that as long as he gets all the credit due. When she is delighted at the scented lotions and soaps and the pretty jewelry and probably a nice coffee mug since she drinks coffee, he will take every ounce of the credit for picking out the things that thrill her so. I’m good with that, as long as we don’t have to talk about it for two weeks after Christmas. He is, however, extremely excited and concerned about what she has already purchased him and, unfortunately for me, teased him with the knowledge. He’s a 42 year-old 8 year-old, giggling and excitedly wondering out loud, “What did she get me?” I don’t know! I think I’m going to love it! I hope I do!”  He can’t help himself. And I don’t have the heart to quash his anticipation.

19 more days of blessed silence remain until he bursts out of his room on December 1st, chattering about Christmas and parties and food and presents and what kind of cookies are we making and most importantly, what is everyone going to think when he shows up at work every single day with his vast assortment of Christmas hats and attire on? I can feel it building, like a pressure cooker filled to the brim. He is gonna GO OFF. There is no way to avoid it.

CHRISTMAS-GEEK
A pretty close rendering of The Male Sibling Unit in December.

It doesn’t have to be stressful. What you allow will happen, right? I can choose to be zen-like in my approach to his effervescent bubbling-over. I’m girding my loins. Preparing to embrace the horror.

And keeping the Xanax and wine in constant supply.

th (1)
Yes, those are both my glasses but that is not enough wine.

 

 

 

 

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Requiem for a blasphemy.

I am an Atheist.

There. I said it. Okay, I wrote it. It is in print, and soon to be published, and then it will be floating out there on the internet for anyone to see.

I have not yet been struck down by a lightning bolt, because, see? I am still writing. If this does make it to published content, it will mean that I managed to avoid the Wrath of God. Which would negate my belief, or lack thereof, if The Wrath of God did strike me dead for making this pronouncement. This is a steep hill I am climbing, right? It’s confusing. Let’s move on.

When did I become an Atheist, you ask? I have to be completely honest about that and answer that I always have been. I have fronted a lifetime of lies to myself and others about what I truly believe, deep down inside, because it was necessary to do so. Call it self-preservation, or call it a journey. I don’t care at this point. It is what it is. When I was growing up, it was not popular, or even “edgy”, to refuse to believe in God, or to refuse to follow the flock into church. It would have been dangerous, even. Not only would my family have been angry, but society would have shunned me even more than it already did for being a poor, fat, homely bastard. I did what I needed to in order to navigate the murky waters of life back then.

When I was little, I feared God every bit as much as I feared The Devil. They both seemed to be filled with anger and punishing acts for those who disobeyed. We were taught that The Devil liked it when we were bad but that God would punish us. I always thought that this tactic was a double-edged sword, because if we were bad, wasn’t the threat of Eternal Damnation punishment enough? Why did we deserve to be punished by the Creator of All Things as well? I spent my childhood both cowering when I was bad and quietly gleeful when I was bad and didn’t get caught. Sure, the threat

God sees all

was always in the back of my mind, but if I did something bad and nothing came of it and life went on, well, what the hell did that prove? Either that God didn’t necessarily see all because there were too many people doing too many things, or that God was a big load of hogwash. And no, you don’t need to know the bad things I did and got away with because fuck you, that’s why. You can take your judgment and tuck it right up your pooper. You’ve been bad, too. Oh yes, you have.

But oh, the guilt. I was raised within the confines of the Roman Catholic faith. Hold your apologies, because it wasn’t all bad. The church was pretty. The stained glass, the flowers, the breathtaking statues and art, the incense; all of it was heady in the sensory overload department. I loved all of that. I loved the ritualistic way Mass was said. It pleased me. I loved the Latin and the music. It gave me peace.

That’s what I loved about religion. End of story.

I did not love the exclusiveness. I did not love the threats of peril if one did not follow the teachings of the church. I did not love the begging for money every Sunday so that the church parking lot could be replaced or that a bunch of young men I didn’t know wanted to make a pilgrimage to some Third World country to organize the natives. Most of all, I did not like how we were supposed to take the Bible seriously. Like, all that shit really happened. Give me a fucking break.

As I’ve gotten older, it has dawned on me that I have made a ton of mistakes, thought a whole lot of bad thoughts, and sinned my ass off. And yet? I am still blessed with a multitude of good things. I am blessed with wonderful people in my life. I am blessed with the ability to see all of this and to also understand that the sum of my actions add up to the cost. God didn’t figure that out for me; I did. By myself.

God has never spoken to me. Neither has the devil (although during one very specific, vivid dream, he did appear as Dave Grohl to tempt me mightily, but you nevermind about that, okay?) And I am positive that we don’t float around in Purgatory, atoning for all the little, white lies we have told. Here’s the thing: bad stuff happens. Something or someone is the cause of them. Usually, we can draw conclusions from what happens. There’s science, and logic, and pure emotion. When you use one or all of these tools at your disposal, you can almost always find the root of everything. It’s not some Eternal Being, pulling the strings. It’s, well…..it’s probably YOU.

PLEASE. Don’t tell me you’re going to pray for me. Don’t try to change my mind. I believed this a long, long time ago but it was reactions like that which kept me quiet. I’m going to go on sticking to my convictions because really, so fucking what if I am wrong? No one has ever returned to tell me that, though. Unless my lilac bush out in the front yard spontaneously bursts into flames and an ominous voice speaks from the depths of the fire, I think I’m okay, alright? You do you. I’ll keep doing me, because me is kind, and good, and caring. Me is who I want to be, and no religion can enhance that which is perfect: perfectly flawed, perfectly human, perfectly myself. In a world that has gone batshit crazy with religion and politics and outrageousness, I’m good. It’s all good.

The f***ing struggle is real.

I’m reinventing myself yet again.

No, I’m not changing the very core being that exists within. I’ve worked long and hard at perfecting her, and while she may never be everyone’s cup of tea, she is genuine and honest and capable and strong. She kicks ass and takes no prisoners when she gets involved in something. She’s street-smart, book-smart, and life-smart. She’s one awesome bitch. She’s an ever-evolving work in progress, and she will never, ever be “finished” until she is cold and dead and laying on a slab in a morgue, awaiting the flames of the crematorium oven. Even then, she will flicker and flare in the afterburner of electricity that some call ghosts and that I call after-energy. Nah, I am not reinventing her. I’ve grown to like her a little bit.

This time, I am reinventing what it is that I do for a living. Since the medical issues are still prescient, I have to adjust and modify. I’m fluent in more than a few vocations, but a master of none of them. This time, I am taking those that I know are marketable and that I possess some talent for and I am throwing them all together. I have taken on a job as an independent contractor for a Remote Call Center company. You bring the equipment and the skills and they place you with a client who needs you. You make your own hours and deduct your own taxes. You follow the company’s guidelines and rules and you get to operate from your home. It’s freelance work, if you will. I am being paid pretty well, and the best thing about it is that I don’t even have to leave my house. I can “show up” in my pajamas if I want, and my looks don’t matter at all. For a tatted, pierced, crazy-ass hairstyle person with a penchant for black, gothic clothing and band t-shirts and who also deplores most of the human race and craves solitude, this is a fucking dream job. It actually takes a lot of self-discipline to commit to something like this. The tendency to procrastinate and lay in one’s bed, bemoaning the unfairness of having to get up? You can’t do that if you’ve contracted yourself to show up and log in from your home office to provide services for callers. Not if you want to make a paycheck. So, you can be a slug, but only a partial slug. A slugling, if you will.

 

female-telemarketer-headsets-25305878This is a stock photo of me if I were 20 years younger and more professional-looking.

 

Now, I can follow rules pretty well. I don’t tend to go rogue unless it’s really justified and necessary. We don’t have to follow a script; we are simply expected to speak in a professional manner and to handle ourselves in the way in which our company can be proud. I can do this, but there’s one aspect that worries me. It worries me whenever I work, actually. It worries me whenever I am in an unfamiliar or “proper” setting or circumstance.

It’s my fucking potty mouth. It’s as bright as the entire color spectrum. It’s a plumage of decorous and audacious feathers of every brilliantly-decked bird on the planet, including the extinct ones. It’s outrageous as an 80s-inspired Halloween costume. It is brash, bold, sarcastic, murderous, and rancorous in a way that I don’t think I ever envisioned it becoming when I was but a 5 year-old child being taught Pig Latin curse words by the big kids in my neighborhood.

Me: Mommy, what’s uckfay ouyay mean?

My Mom: I don’t know. Where did you hear that?

Me: Just the kids at the playground.

My Mom: Hmmm, well, we live in an Italian neighborhood. Maybe it’s Italian. I’ll call your Aunt Rose. Her parents are “off the boat” from Italy. (Picks up the phone and dials) Hi Rose. Your goddaughter has learned some new words and I think they’re Italian. Here, Lori. Tell them to Aunt Rose.

Me: Hi Aunt Rose. What’s Uckfay ouyay mean?

Aunt Rose: Well…..I don’t know what that is, but it’s not Italian. Maybe it’s German? Or Swedish? There’s lots of Swedes around here.

I swear like a trucker who’s been to prison and made someone his bitch. I swear like a sailor who’s been out to sea for 14 long months. I swear like a pirate who’s out to pillage and plunder and who drinks all the rum and then bemoans its absence. I swear so much that I think it probably sounds bizarre to hear me put on my professional voice and actually manage a customer or another human being with that Polly Purebread personality. I don’t apologize for it, never have, and never will. My mouth is legendary and lascivious and blunt, and I am well-known to have come up with a few curse words that no one else has ever heard of.  I will likely swear on my deathbed, driving out the Padre who comes to administer the last rites. (Note to my children: Nix the Last Rites. I will not fucking need them where I’m going, which is Nowhere. And if I’m wrong and it isn’t Nowhere, don’t worry. I’ll go where I belong. I’ve earned it.)

Usually, after I become used to a workplace, I learn when I can curse, where, and who I can curse around. Swearing isn’t as verboten as it used to be. I had a coworker who refused to use the F word (but everything else was fair game) because she claimed it showed “a lack of intelligence on the part of the the person using it”. I call bullshit. Moreover, I call fucking bullshit. What other word is more descriptive, more elegant, more colorful, than the word FUCK? It’s a noun. It’s a verb. It’s an adjective. It’s simply fucking brilliant, fuck is, and it cannot be fucking denied. There is no fucking substitute for fuck. It just fucking rules. Anyway, I am pretty good at getting the lay of the land and being professional.

This job, though, is another kettle of fish. Since I am in my home, the rules are somewhat lax, shall we say? Hell, if my cats could talk, they’d be the sweariest cats you ever met. I’m amazed their meows don’t sound like fuck, shit, and damn (and every other word George Carlin said you can’t say on TV. He would be both gratified and upset with the colorful language you get to hear on TV nowadays. He’d have to redo that list and change his bit.) at mealtime. My coworkers and I connect to each other via Skype and some other inner-office chats. We also have email. There are quite a few who run neck-and-neck with me in the cursing department, but the thing is, I have to take them at their word. Because we are prohibited from cursing in our chats and personal emails between each other. We can say “frick” and all the other white bread words, like crap, darn, flippin’, freaking, and whatnot. Outright swearing, though? It’s off the table.

fuck

In short, I’m in uncharted fucking territory here. I have to tightly wind my shit together and be professional even when on Skype, so it’s going to be a whole lot of reigning myself in, especially when I get the inevitable douchebag tool customer who uses up my last fucking nerve. Where do I go to piss and moan? My cats? They’ve heard it all, trust me.

I think I can pull this off. It’s going to be hard. I’ve often joked with the husband about installing a speed bag in the house so that I can take out my aggression on it. I’m thinking that I will ask for one for Christmas this year. He can install it in my office, and I will not only refine my ability to act and speak in a more professional manner, but I will develop some serious fucking guns in the process.

speed

Wish me luck.

NO. This is NOT NORMAL.

Everyone is going kamikaze apeshit over the Sean Spicer appearance on the Emmys last night.

Seriously? The things that have been going on in this country and around the world, and you’re outraged at a joke? Would it have been “funnier” had Melissa McCarthy delivered it? Less “outrageous”? Less galling for you to digest?

Spicer is just another diversion. While we’re freaking out about his audacity to make a joke about crowd size, there are really shady things going on. But like that dog in the movie UP, someone just yelled “SQUIRREL” and there we go again, down another rabbit hole. Or squirrel. Except that I dont think squirrels live in holes. Okay, holes in trees, but not in the grou….wait. Sorry. I strayed off-subject.

(See what I did there?)

Like it or not, the guy did his job. Have you ever worked somewhere and had to play by the company’s rules because you NEEDED your job and were required to at least look like a team player until you could figure out a way to GTFO? I know that I have. I believe that I have shared those experiences right here from time to time. I know a lot of people who have. Please, spare me your platitudes about self-respect and honesty. The guy was working in politics, which, as far as I know, ranks up there with lawyers and used car salesmen (and televangelism) as being the most disingenuous, cutthroat, facetious profession in the world. He did his job; at times, very badly. But he did his job as well as anyone who has taken one despite knowing, in the pit of their stomach, that it was a bad idea, could do. He was rewarded for it by being ousted for another guy who lasted a week. For a guy who made the phrase “sucking my own cock” a part of the dinner conversation and the water cooler talk and the mainstream news media. That was HIS lesson to learn, not ours.

Perhaps it should have been our lesson.

The point is, we are normalizing this crap with every passing day. When school shootings were happening with increasing frequency, I worried out loud that we would stop being as horrified with every occurrence . I worried in the same way about terrorism. How many of us have watched the news, read it, felt pangs of sadness and been momentarily aghast at the atrocities man commits against man – and then simply gone about our day?

*Raises hand*

I’m not proud to admit it. It speaks more to my growing insulation against an outrageous and despicable world than I care to face. That I can read about someone walking into a school and shooting the place up, or driving down a crowded city street and mowing people down, and then go make myself a sandwich? In a less caustic and embittered world, who does that? Who does that?

I do. You do. We do.

We have to stop insulating ourselves. I know, it’s probably a form of self-preservation. We don our armor because we need to get through the day and thinking about the fact that this world is at a level of batshit fucking crazy that we’ve never experienced before is simply too hard to digest. The problem is, by waiving it aside; by shrugging our shoulders; by exclaiming “I can’t believe this shit!” and then walking blithely away, we are digesting it. Maybe we feel like we’re wrongfully incarcerated inmates and the food in front of us is shitty, but it’s all we got – but it’s also not. Because we are not inmates.

Neither, in the end, was Sean Spicer. The truth of his tale is yet to be told, but I think that we’re being fed little appetizers in the form of his recent appearances, and the whole meal is yet to come. We can argue that he lacked principles and that any self-respecting person would have never taken the job of Press Secretary for such a corrupt President in the first place, but the fact is, others have in the past. And others will in the future. Again: his lesson.

We have to shed the insulation and feel all the feels, so to speak. The only way to change a situation is to first change how we react to it, and then to act. How do we do that?

I don’t fucking know.

Look, I’m as frustrated and clueless as you are. I’m agitated, stressed, and I suspect that my new crop of stomach ulcers can be blamed equally on the fact that I am angry every single day at the state of the union. I’m as guilty of normalizing crazy and inviting it into my living room for an evening of charades as anyone else. I don’t have answers that I can articulate. What I have is action. My words, in print and voice, are action. My participation in civilized activism is action. My vote is action. My rejection of “normalizing” this shitshow is action. It’s the best that I have right now. I think that, if we all could come together as a collective and simply agree that none of this is normal, we might begin to dissolve the contrails overhead that have made things so overcast. Once we are out in the light, then maybe we’ll be able to see the path in front of us. All I know is that sitting complacent in our seats and muttering a mantra of “Mueller will make it better” isn’t going to work. While we are looking at the shiny objects in front of us, the dark magic is happening.

We need to get to work. I am not okay with leaving this dumpster fire for my grandkids to put out. That Sean Spicer lacks any modicum of self-respect is not my fight. I’m more concerned about the fact that so many others think it should be. And so should you.

Don’t get distracted.

Things don’t go as planned for a reason, and it’s not because of God.

Crossroads: they’re part of life.

We all experience them at different points in time. They are the stuff of coming-of-age, meeting our destinies, and in many instances, confronting truths. I suppose that I could make an argument for life itself being one big crossroad event, but I’m not feeling that philosophical today.

Crossroads can be a brutal, bucket of suck. I have reached one such crossroad, and let me tell you this: any crossroad that involves being brutally honest with yourself about who you are is never going to be a fun-filled retrospective of memories. When you have to face certain realities and confront a less than optimistic truth, it is easy to bog yourself down in self-pity and sadness. You want to wallow. You should wallow. But not for long. No one wants to hear that, see that, accept that; not from themselves, and certainly not from others. We are an increasingly insensitive, isolated, narcissistic species and loads of us absolutely abhor the feeling of responsibility for someone else’s sadness. By responsibility, I don’t mean that we created it, but that we feel the need to “fix” it. We tell ourselves we’re just too busy, we have too many of our own concerns. We may even be so inclined as to actually be concerned and sad for them. We will attempt to quickly divert them with phrases and pithy responses. We pay lip service to their misery; “Cheer up! It’ll be fine.” With that in mind, you must choose your method of wallowing carefully, so as not to offend any of the dozens of easily-offended people in your immediate realm.

While my initial reaction to those who seem personally affronted by my wallowing is to say “Fuck all y’all” I know better than to do that. It is better to choose which direction you take without the bitter resentment at others’ indifference to your personal pain. Irrationality can color a situation in an unrealistic way. In my stubborn way, I am always tempted to insist, “I can do this on my own.” The truth, though? I shouldn’t.

I am a writer. Always have been, always will be. It doesn’t pay the bills, though, and hasn’t been a possibility due to other life events taking up my brain and my time. I began my adulthood working toward a career in writing but was quickly sidetracked. I faced a crossroads: continue with my education or drop out to follow a man and raise his children. I can never, ever say that I chose wrong.

Throughout that journey down that road, I often pondered returning to that life of study, if only part-time. I wanted to be something, someone. I was convinced, though, that writing wasn’t going to put food on the table and help our situation. My biggest influence in that life was my husband, and he treated my desire to write as if it was just a childish indulgence. Better to focus on something else I had always been interested in: nursing. I would get catalogs from the local university and plot my course. Invariably, though, something in life would force me to focus elsewhere. A few job losses (his), a natural disaster (flood), and the reality of raising 5 kids becoming more and more expensive. There will be time later, I would silently tell myself. You’re still young.

Later, when the children were getting older and the next crossroads loomed ahead, I made another choice: to love someone else. Thoughts of nursing school would surface, bobbing quietly in my stream of consciousness, and then eventually disappear. Life was so busy. Life demanded that I put out fires constantly. I began to write again, blogs, poetry, little story ideas. I was good. I knew it. Friends, strangers, family told me so. This was still possible.

The nursing thing, though? It was always there. I have always taken care of others in some way, from childhood to now. It’s been not so much a calling as it is a part of who I am at my core. I’m a nurturer, an empath, and apparently amongst the 1% of personality types classified as an

INFJ

INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types.

How wonderful for me, right? It’s actually a pain in the ass to be this way and to be depressed. It’s probably why.

Be that as it may, nurture is what I do. Putting out fires is what I do. Combine the two, and you get a nurse. And it pays well, too.

The idea was this: go into nursing. Write in my spare time. Certain events coincided in such a way that it suddenly became possible. At 50, I was going to work in a subordinate nursing position and go to school. I was overjoyed. This, I told myself, was finally The Right Time.

Until it wasn’t.

No pity party here. I am 50. I have tried to be healthy, but my body has always had other ideas. The neck birth defect, the spleen compromise at 16, my heart deciding that it wanted to be a rock star and beat to its own, eventually dangerous rhythmn. The depression. The fucking depression!!!!

And now, this eye condition. We don’t know what it really is or how it began or if it will eventually be cured. We don’t know anything, really, except that I don’t have tears. None. I have tried everything, even watching The Notebook. On the one occasion that I cried because I had no tears, I ended up crying harder because I had no tears. (Cue Alanis.) My corneas are damaged. I can’t even get new glasses because my eyesight has degraded to a point where a new prescription is not possible. I am in pain. Discomfort. And I need to put drops into my eyes at an hourly rate. Sometimes more, if the sun and moving air get to them. I exist most days in the dimness of subdued lighting, venturing out only to do what is essential. My opthamologist has been less than helpful, and quite unavailable most of the time. We fired him. Next at bat is my PCP, and I admit, I have way more faith in her. She at least shows up for our appointments.

The point is, I can’t work in a healthcare setting without eyesight, and certainly not while being a slave to a bottle of drops. It’s not sterile, hygienic, or wise. If it corrects itself eventually, yay for me! I’m pragmatic, though, because have you met me? Nothing is ever simple. If I won the lottery, it would most likely coincide with the fucktard-in-chief deciding to raid all 50 states of their lottery coffers to pay for his goddamned Wall. I’d end up with an engraved brick somewhere along the Texas state line.

The neck has spoken, too. Because it can’t just be one, simple, mysterious eye affliction, can it? At 50, the neck has decided that Fuck this shit. It may tolerate some more shots before going kaput, but behaving as if I am not in pain when I am not, in fact, in pain is apparently baaaaad because when the pain eventually returns, it is worse. My left side is significantly weaker than my right. That means being careful. And that limits how much physical activity I can safely get away with. Bottom line? No joining Cirque De Soleil. No Wayne’s World, Bohemian Rhapsody-esque headbanging. And no nursing.

Crossroads: they suck sometimes. And the thing about dreams is that that’s all they really are. You can work hard and do everything right and sometimes, they just don’t happen. And so you wallow, and then you put drops in your eyes and it may take you three days of pecking away at this blog but you do it because guess what? You still have this.

I am a writer. No one can take THAT dream away from me. None of the roadblocks, and all of the five-gallon buckets of suck that life has dumped on me, can take this gift that I have away. If my eyes are fubared? I have a voice. There’s Braille.

Whatever it takes! Maybe all the crossroads I have found myself at were necessary to get me to this one. To the true path. I have options along the way, too.

So let’s get going, shall we? Bring a pillow for your ass – because riding with me is bumpy. Bring your sense of humor – because it will save your life. And bring pizza. And nachos. And wine. Because why fucking not?

Reality IS a thing.

Let’s try a new thing. I’m not one who enjoys change, but at this stage of my life, I’m making an uneasy peace with it.

Let me give you an accounting of a life lesson that has been taught to me. Call it fucknuggets of wisdom or the sounding of the douchetrumpets – whatever.

When I was a kid, I was bullied a lot. I was, short, dumpy, uncertain, clumsy, and had an oddly-shaped head (a friend of mine back then – kids have no tact or guile – said her dad referred to me as “moon-face” and I didn’t know what it meant, but instinctively knew he wasn’t being nice; he was a big, loud, angry fuck knuckle of a botard and he died in late middle age and I was glad) and poor, so I was easy prey.

There were these “rich kids” who lived in the neighborhood. In retrospect, they might not have been rich but their father had a good job, they had a big, nice house, and everything anyone could ask for. Their mom was a stay-at-home who was always in everyone’s business and who came from a huge, Italian family in the neighborhood, which was code for “We belong and you don’t” in this particular ward. They sent their kids to Catholic school and wrinkled their noses at anyone who A) wasn’t Italian, and B) didn’t have the same or better social status. These kids were spoiled, entitled, and mean. There can be no other word. They flaunted their clothes, their posessions, and acted as if they were royalty. Other kids treated them as such, so how were they ever going to know that they weren’t, right? They were both older than me; the boy was 2 years older and the girl, 6. He was a nasty little prick who once cornered me and threatened to punch me in the stomach just because I was walking past his house. He teased and taunted me. In later years, we actually got along but mostly because he was hired, through our contractor, to replace the kitchen cupboards in a remodel my first husband and I did of our house. I let it slide, because I was young, and still not the loudmouthed truth-telling bitch that I am now. Were this scenario to happen now, I’d have had my verbose way with him.

The girl? She was a cunt. Seriously. I don’t use that word unless I mean it. A bit on the chunky side, loud, snobby, and stupid. FUCK! Was she ever. I knew it, even then, but she was so mean to me that it took my breath away. When she deigned to pay attention to me, it was to ridicule and insult. I avoided her whenever possible, but she was so present, so in-your-face, and I was so much younger…..it was difficult to escape her. The memory of her is one of those shudder-inducing recollections that everyone has. Since she was so much older, I was able to avoid altercations with her in my teenaged tears. That was a fortunate thing for me, because that decade was fraught with so much turmoil and sadness and assorted fuckery that adding her to the mix might have tipped the suicide scales much farther than they leaned.

Apparently, life was not a bed of roses for this family. The dad had an affair. The parents got a divorce. The kids were taken out of private school and sent to public. The mother, a gay divorcee in her 40s, started dating a guy and then got *GASP!* pregnant and “had” to get married. How the mighty fell in the 80s. This was a big, fat, dramatic scandal! I lost track of the older girl over the years, not really giving even one fuck about what happened to her. She was a cunt, remember?

Fast-forward to last year. I encountered her mother, who has been through a series of life-humbling events. We spoke, and she informed me that her daughter had died the year before. She’d had some sort of cancer and it killed her quite suddenly. I offered my condolences, because really? Telling her that her daughter was a loud cunt who had made my childhood even more hellish than it already was seemed unnecessarily cruel at that moment. Her treatment of me no longer mattered. I felt sorry for this grieving mom. I’m a mom too, and I wouldn’t ever wish that kind of pain on another parent.

A little more fast-forwarding, to the other day. Facebook has the ability to bring people together and put them in your peripheral vision even accidentally. I stumbled across a family member of these childhood nightmare kids and curiosity took over and I had a bit of a creep. We all fall victim to this temptation; don’t lie to me and say you never have!

The cunt of my past had a Facebook page. You know, the thing about Facebook is that it’s like schizophrenia, or herpes: it never goes away. She died, but her profile lives on. People still post things on her page, too. Her friends, family, kids, husband. Post after post, I read about how good she was, kind, loving, funny. Everyone seemed to miss her terribly. I thought to myself, maybe she changed. Maybe life taught her a lesson or three, and she became less of a cunt and more of a humble, caring person. Just as I became less of a victim and a doormat and more of a blunt, honest, kick-you-in-the-crotch warrior….maybe she became redeemable. Maybe she acquired some wisdom. I was actually feeling a little bad about my radical, extreme labeling of her.

Then I saw a post from early November of 2016. One of her family members had posted to let her know (because in the Afterlife the dead still get their news from Facebook. Duh!) that Donald Trump had won the election and was going to be President. Apparently, she loved him. She thought he was the greatest person ever. She admired his goodness. She had felt that he was going to save this country from the terrible path it was on. The family member wanted to let her know that her “hard work up there in Heaven” had succeeded! Her savior had won.

What a stupid cunt.

My life lesson, kids, is that people don’t fundamentally change who they really are. Just as I was a warrior deep down inside, this girl was the same vapid twit even at the end of her life. Anyone who condones, admires, and espouses the characteristics of the morally-bankrupt turd who currently sits in the Oval Office – and thinks his values are what this country needs – derserves to retain my early, first impression of her; even in death. First impressions can be misleading, but not if they keep on giving the same results over and over. Trust the gut. It never lies.

Class dismissed!

Let me be me for a moment. In all seriousness

Something has been weighing heavily on my mind.

I am 50 years old. There have been 10 Presidents in my lifetime. My recollection of 2 of them is vague, at best, because I was either an infant or very small. I remember President Ford’s term, albeit shorter than others.

This is the thing: I have always felt safe under the President’s watch. It has been almost an afterthought, an expectation, something taken for granted. You elect a candidate because he (And someday, inevitably, blessedly SHE) is capable, intelligent, knowledgeable, and up to the task. Even if your choice doesn’t win, the candidates put forth are expected to be of this high caliber. They answer a higher call to power not simply because they want to be the leader, but because they believe in this nation’s people and its ability to do good. Some have enjoyed the status a little more than others, but for the most part, becoming President of the United States requires selflessness. It requires tenacity. It requires a very thick skin. Those who answer this call take very seriously the commitment to the nation that they are making, and indeed, to the world.

I do not feel safe within the “protective arms” or leadership of the current President. I go to bed worried, and I wake up worried. I look at the news, and at Twitter, usually before I take my first sip of coffee. I go about my days constantly checking in with social media and news outlets because, let’s be honest here: this guy could launch a missile by first announcing it on Twitter. He could declare war on another country, or on a specific group of people, via a tweet. And, in fact, he has. The are no limits to his unhinged megalomania. He is a threat in and of itself.

I am not going to cite the things he has done during his six months in office that are bad, or negligent. Those who are still with him will simply say “Fake news!” like he has conditioned them to react. I know fake news, and I know the truth when I read it, or hear it. There are real enemies of the truth out there, printing falsehoods just to misguide people; a certain segment of the population doesn’t read past the headlines. A certain segment falls for every story published by TheOnion. A certain segment of the population thinks Alex Jones is a legitimate journalist and freedom fighter and they don’t see him for the grifting, wacko opportunist that he clearly is. A certain segment of the population thinks that Tomi Lahren is a cute l’il scrappy bunny and would you just bless her heart for all those smart, sassy things her little firecracker of a mouth says? Fox News is the anointed truthteller of this Presidency, and not Reuters, The Associated Press, or reliable, trusted guardians of “Just the facts” journalism like a Dan Rather, a Bob Schieffer, or a Diane Sawyer. Fuck those guys, right? If President Trump says they’re lying, they must be. He got elected, after all. He’s qualified.

Except that he isn’t, and they’re not liars. But he is. Every day, he lies. Granted, he doesn’t call it lying; he calls it “hyperbole”. He is, as my grandma would say, a “big bullshitter”. His defenders cry out, “Let Trump be Trump!” but this is not an episode of The West Wing and we are not insisting “Let Bartlet be Bartlet” because Jed Bartlet was a FICTIONAL CHARACTER and even then, Donald Trump is no Jed Bartlet.

This constant tendency he has of bending the truth would not have been tolerated by any person during any other presidency and it should not be now. He does not get a pass because of who he is; an “outsider” new to the game. President Obama did not get a single pass because he was black; even now, he is criticized and in fact demonized, his very legacy under attack. He was not perfect; none of them are. He did, however, lead the country and strove to make us feel safe. He did, and does, possess more honesty and humility in his pinky toe than Donald Trump does in his entire family.

Donald Trump is a con artist and a scammer. He is thin-skinned, petulant, and a bully. His approval rating amongst his own supporters is falling like Thor’s hammer on an enemy. His party has zero faith in his abilities and is actively trying to limit his capability to inflict even more harm on his own people and, in fact, the rest of the world. That Congress must take these steps to safeguard us and our interests worldwide is both shocking and sobering.

But he still has the launch codes.

I miss the carefree days of President George W. Bush.