Wait. I lied. And you see right through me, don’t you?
All the fucking time, life challenges you.
I guess that, what I am meaning to say is that there are specific events and times in our lives when we just want to say, “Stop this crazy train and let me off at the next pasture so I can smell some flowers!”
I’ve been riding the crazy train lately, and it’s been gaining speed with a steady uptick that has let me know that, if I didn’t get off just for a brief interlude, the velocity was going to tear me apart.
This past Wednesday, I pulled the cord and got off the train. I jumped into a shuttle of sorts and traveled to Syracuse, New York, where I stood in my symbolic “field of flowers” and just lost myself in a particular mystical, raucous, and magical three hours. I lost that part of myself that needs to be “on” and let myself be caught up in sight, sound, and emotion. I was in good company with 2,000 + other people who where there to do the same. When I am in this particular zone, I feel enveloped in love, in acceptance, and a part of something larger than life. Music truly sets me free, and I have been fortunate to be carried away on waves of euphoria at many concerts, but this – A Ritual – is different. It is like going to church; this is what true believers in their faith experience. I credit KISS with saving my life, but I credit Ghost with giving me life. I may be back on the train, but I know one true thing:
Happy Mother’s Day to this bouffant-crowned, sarcastically gifted lady, wherever she is. It’s been six years now, and I still find myself feeling awkward on this day of days meant to celebrate her. I know she is at peace in her ever-after. I hope that it’s a place filled with happiness and love, and that some of the friends and family who were able to see her attitude at its best are there, eliciting MORE attitude and sarcasm.
The look she has on her face in this photo was, believe it or not, how I know she was happy when it was taken. She wore her ballsy attitude like a proud vestment of Queendome when she was in the company of friends and family. This was a face I loved to see, her biting comments always deadpan, her voice modulated and dripping with disdain. A takedown from my mother was to be put in your place in such a permanent way that you thought you belonged there. My mother, when in her element, was the epitome of every synonym for sarcasm that exists. Here is the thesaurus entry for “sarcastic”. Read this to know her the way I loved her:
That – ALL OF THAT – was my mother the way I always hoped to see her, and the way I wish to remember her. Some of that could be construed as less-than complimentary, but when we love someone, we love the bad witch in them as well as the Glenda. She could be those negative things, and often was, in her darker moments. I saw more of those than I wanted, and she fell victim to them more than she deserved. In turn, I fell victim, as well.
It doesn’t matter, though. She went through things. We all do, and we all tend to judge others by the way they handle the shit that’s dealt them. She handled adversity; the challenges, the disappointments, the low valleys of sorrow that so often benched her at the kitchen table with only her tormented thoughts, her cigarettes, her coffee, and a deck of cards with which to play solitaire. Sometimes, the cards stayed in their deck and I would find her with her head bowed into her arms. There was no sarcasm then; only desolation. At those moments, I did not know how to elicit that which I hoped to see on her face. I knew that rousing her would only invite those bad synonyms, their barbs cutting into my flesh as she shot those arrows with precise aim at me. I was target practice for the real dragons she wished to slay. I was there, and available. And I loved her. I didn’t know that I wasn’t strong enough to withstand those poison-tipped arrows. Their venom was both immediate and slow-acting. It afflicted me in ways that, even now, I find myself looking for an antidote for.
But no matter. Because I found enough of an antidote to counteract the worst of it, I can think to myself that maybe that shit was savage as fuck, but that it taught me well. It taught me that I had, within myself, those same elements. I inherited her gift for sarcastic wit and I grew it, encouraged and nurtured it, with an expansion of attitude that colors my writing, my interactions, and my every thought. I bring it out, like she did, and put it on full display when it simply needs to be seen, like the crown jewels in a museum. I go one farther than she did, though: I bench it when my thoughts are too dark. I bench it when it would serve only to hit the batter right square in the face when I pitch my vitriole-tinged words. I consign it to the depths and darkened corners and tunnels of my mind when it would do harm if let loose into the world. There, in its cage, it torments only me. And I am good with that, because I know what a steady diet of acidic, cutting, contumelious, vomitus verbiage can do to break down an unwitting (or witting) victim. It wounds, it desensitizes, it changes the chemistry in their brains. It scars.
It scars forever.
She could not contain herself, no. But I can. So, when I go quiet, it’s because the lessons my mother taught me have taken hold, and I have done what I learned to do long ago, and I have consigned them to the basement boiler room of my inner schoolhouse for a time-out. Sarcasm has its place, but when it schools only to hurt, in turn it seeks only to offend.
And it’s Mother’s Day, after all. This is the day to revere our mothers and to reflect upon all the love, the sacrifices, and the countless life lessons. It’s just that, for some of us, there’s a small mountain of salt to go with. If you have more sugar than salt, embrace that. Embrace your mom. Bake her a cake or take her out for ice cream and celebrate all that sweetness.
I’m just gonna sit over here and eat a whole bag of potato chips.
I know, random, right? But….is it? Of course not. Random stays in my head most of the time, and I do like to have a decent idea about where I see the direction going when I write. Mostly. Except when I have no freaking clue, and vomitus spills out all over these pages. They can be entertaining regurgitations, but the fact remains: they can be crap.
So yes, back to the waffles. I had them two days in a row, which is not something I tend to do. Blueberry, frozen, popped into the toaster; don’t judge me on the frozen, because I like them. I have never found myself desiring homemade waffles; not even when the husband announced that he wanted a waffle maker for Christmas one year and we went to Voldemort on Black Friday, which was actually Crimson Thursday because it was Thanksgiving and blood spilled in the aisles that year due to angry parents dive bombing for Monster High dolls. By the way? I think he used it exactly once, and now I haven’t a clue where it is. All that sacrifice for one, measly homemade waffle breakfast.
I have two boxes of those blueberry waffles in the freezer, and I feel compelled to make them disappear. You see, this family is embarking on a high protein, veggie, low-carb diet.
Wait, I used the wrong word. “Diet” is indeed a four-letter word in both the literal sense and in my mind. When you say “diet” it conjures up sacrifice, misery; a carrot stick and a wilted celery stalk in a Tupperware dish for lunch. With no ranch dip. It says, plainly, “You are a fatass who makes poor eating choices and your arteries look more like stuffed pizza crust than veins.”
That last statement could be true. I do love my pizza and I will never say no to stuffed crust. I often ponder why it took so long for someone to figure out that you could roll mozzarella sticks into crust and make what is the perfect meal even better. I feel like my childhood and early adulthood were cheated by the lack of stuffed crust being readily available. Denied. I feel like maybe others feel the same way, and we should form a support group. We have PSCTSD. You can figure that acronym out yourself, right?
Alright, so “diet” isn’t what we’re doing. We are making a Lifestyle Change. I think it’s a smart one, although my heart of hearts is crying at the thought of cutting out bread and pastry. At least I can keep the cheese, and we will have “cheat nights” twice a week. That will alleviate the idea of giving up things we love, and it will also help to placate The Male Sibling Unit.
Let’s face it: the three of us are getting older. I will be 51 and the husband is days away from 47. We both could benefit from healthier eating and we both love carbs. Taking them entirely away seems like a fate worse than death, but giving in two days a week for the love of breads, pastas, and starchy potatoes seems fair and balanced. It makes that death sentence more like, well….a work week. We can do it. If I throw a large enough chunk of meat at the husband, he will happily dig in and clean up the smaller serving of something plant-based. Getting him to eat fruits will be trickier, because he doesn’t like many. If I throw too many bananas his way, he may start scratching himself in public and grunting at me. Wait…..
I have broken the news to the Male Sibling Unit. The best description I can use about the look on his face was fear. When dealing with the Male Sibling Unit, potentially unattractive prospects and limitations need to be dressed up a bit. With cheerful, optimistic, exciting exclamations that “This will be GREAT!” and “It’s ALL to help YOU!” If you make it all about him, and direct it toward every single aspect being to make him even more fantastic than he already is, he usually buys it hook, line, and sinker. That narcissism in his personality has its place. I really hope it comes in handy at age 50, when the doctor tells him it’s time for his first colonoscopy. I imagine it going something like this:
“Guess what? It’s your lucky day! Your colon is has been chosen for an important award! We want to take some pictures of it! That’s right; you get to drink a bunch of Gatorade (yep, we’ll go with that) and then you can poop as much as you want and your sister won’t yell at you for stinking up the bathroom! Then, you get to be our personal guest at an all-inclusive nap session at the hospital! That’s right! A nap! You won’t even feel the camera going in your butt! Yes! You heard me right! Your butt is SO SPECIAL that we want to take pictures of the inside and publish them on Facebook! And then your sister will take you to McDonald’s for a Filet O’ Fish!”
The Facebook thing, yeah, I made up. The point is, he loves all eyes on him and if he thinks it will push him up the flagpole of popularity, he’ll be all for it. Therefore. I needed to make this Lifestyle Change all about him. We are so invested in his overall health and his glucose readings that we have decided to work together as a team. It’s all in the name of the Male Sibling Unit’s ultimate success and triumph over diabetes.
He almost bought it. For a moment, there was a glimmer of excitement and a flash of self-importance. And then he asked, “What about peanut butter sandwiches?” The Male Sibling Unit’s fondness for peanut butter sandwiches can be traced back to his toddler years, when he loved them so much that he refused to swallow them, tucking numerous bites up into the roof of his mouth in a gesture of sentimentality that would then force my mother to pry the gummy, sticky mess out of there. The Male Sibling Unit is not so much a picky eater as he is a picky swallower. Therein lies a little bit of difficulty in getting him to embrace a high-protein diet. There will be meat, and lots of it, and I am not a creature of habit when it comes to eating the same thing, day after day, so I will want to switch things up a lot in order to keep this Lifestyle Change interesting. To be blunt, the Male Sibling Unit is lazy as fuck, and things that require a ton of chewing don’t rank high on his list of favorites. In the last two years, the Heimlich Maneuver has had to be administered because he has tried to swallow a piece of beef whole. Now? We avoid steak for him, because he is afraid of it. Not pork, or chicken; just steak. As a matter of fact, I am convinced that if I were to tell him that the piece of beef on his plate is actually pork, he would not choke. Am I suggesting that he swallowed that beef on purpose so he would choke and passive-aggressively teach me a lesson; that the Male Sibling Unit is not a fan of steak?
Damn skippy I am.
Anyway, I laid the cards out on the table for him; I would make sure he has yummy, exciting lunches for work that do not include bread. Twice a week, he can eat sandwiches. He is free to eat peanut butter on celery or apple slices or bananas or by the spoonful if he wants. Just not slathered on 4 slices of bread, 7 days a week anymore. Yes, there will be meat, but it will be soft meat, tender meat, and we will eat loads of yummy, fresh veggies and fruits that will good for him. He will be in THE BEST SHAPE OF HIS LIFE. His glucose numbers will stabilize! He will have more energy! And the chicks dig it!
Perhaps I made that up, too, but he likes it when the chicks dig him.
Most of my cats are becoming Senior cats. It happens fast. You have a 3 year old youngster and suddenly she’s 8 and-a-half and because she came from a litter where her siblings both passed young due to issues (George at 3 with renal failure, Bailey at 4 with brain lesions), you watch her like a hawk. She has been slowing down a bit and was always very, very skittish, but she is a sweet girl and I adore her.
But it has begun. She had begun hanging out with us more in the last few months, seeking out affection. Odd for her but always welcome. The “old-age circling” began, though…..and it has become bad. This is a sign that there may have been a “senior neurological event”. Brain lesion, stroke, etc. Brain lesion, I understand all-too-well, because her sister had one that caused MS-like symptoms and then a very sudden but peaceful passing. She was happy to the end despite her difficulties.
Izzy, though, is different. While the symptoms are similar, there is an overall weariness to it that tells me I may need to decide and make a vet call in the next day or so. She eats, she drinks. She purrs, she is alert, she gives me her love eyes and chirps every so often. But she is tired. And has trouble walking to her litter. I hold her, croon to her, clean her, feed her. My heart aches. I love her so. I helped to guide her out of her mother (my daughter’s cat, Chicken) and saw her little spots and knew she was unique. After losing Roo so suddenly on March 1st to an asthma-induced seizure, I don’t know how my heart can survive this when it happens, because I know it’s going to. And if I have to hold her in an impersonal vet room like I did her brother while the shot was administered and he looked up at me, believing that I was making him better, it may break me in two.
I hesitate to express these feelings here. They are animals, pets. The world is a cruel, vicious, angry place. Hate flows freely everywhere. People are dying, dealing with traumas and catastrophic events and illness, and here I am, with a blessed life, losing my shit because I am more than likely going to lose her now after losing my Roo so quickly. But they – my animals – are my family every bit as much as my human family is. I laugh at their antics, beam and crow with pride when we reach milestones, babble on to the husband about “What your daughter/son did” when he gets home at night. We integrated my mom’s two into our family when she passed and I worried over them, feeling their grief and knowing that while we shared that in common, they felt it on a much more confused level. I reveled in their eventual acceptance of us as their humans. I have stared into luminous, green eyes and felt love so all-encompassing that it takes my breath away. I have felt little paws wrap around me and grip tightly in relief when I have rescued them from the streets and provided a safe, warm place. I have birthed their babies, held them when they were sick, and delighted in their play. I have loved. I love.
I am their mother. I am her mother. And a mother should not have to lose her children. This is the thought that comes, unbidden. And yet, I will lose my children, because cats don’t live forever. My heart is torn to pieces now, raggedly sewn back together, and it is simply too soon. I don’t know if it will survive this before those wounds are at least freshly healed and scarring over.
I have spent the last week reading some of the most hateful posts, seeing so much fuckery afoot from our government, and mourning with a community in Florida. Mourning with a nation. I don’t have any creativity in me. I don’t have the ability to survey the wasteland and say, “Well, we can clean it up and grow crops.”
Nope. Not gonna do it. When things like this happen to me, and I find that I am well and truly blocked, I dip into the bank of bullshit that I call my writing and find something I don’t mind reading again too much, and then I hope that you don’t mind reading it, too. Thank fuck for years of crap in those archives! Enjoy this light-weighted, prosaic little ditty of nonsense That I penned about 6 years ago. (Let’s also remember that now, 6 years later, I have even more reasons to not want to live in this clusterfuck of a country. My musings in this dribble seem almost carefree and logical now!)
Last night, I found myself watching two of my favorite films: Notting Hill, and Love Actually.By the end of the evening, I was wistful and blissed-out and irritated. Yes, I said irritated. Every time I watch a Hugh Grant film, I find myself filled with an irresistible longing to live in the UK.
I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. I suppose it makes me sound un-American and like I aspire to become an ex patriot, and I suppose the latter is true. The former? I’m still unabashedly an American and proud to say so, at least in circles that recognize the word as it should be – America – and not this newfangled form of redneck speak which identifies a great big growing segment of this country – ‘Murica. I’m an American. I can enunciate. This is not ‘Murica to me.
And yet…..and yet. The pull of the UK is magnetic and overwhelming whenever I view Hugh Grant movies. I’m no psychologist, but I suppose the reasons have a lot to do with my overall dissatisfaction with my own life as it is, and obviously, picking up and moving to a foreign country is not going to fix most of the problems I have. If anything, it would create new ones. The very idea of moving to a foreign land and starting over is both frightening and exciting, and I’ve daydreamed about it for many years. The daydreams had mostly faded away, except for the occasional conversation with my best friend, who shares dual citizenship with Australia and the UK. She has, numerous times, urged me to come live near her, because the money’s better and while the politics are easily infuriating to its citizens, it’s not as much of a mess as it is here. She’s contemplating a move from Australia to the UK, and I guess that’s where this little seed of a daydream began for me again. I am envious of her ability to pull up stakes and make a new life if she wants to, but I know that her circumstances are different than mine and so I can’t be cross with her. Oh, how I wish, though. I wish.
When my daughter was young, we used to daydream together. We wanted to go to Ireland and find a little cottage near the sea and live in it, away from everyone and everything. We would have a garden and flowers and a goat. We would have kitties. We’d ride bikes into the nearest village and have an old, bockety car for bigger trips. It was, of course, a sweet musing between a young girl and her mother, and a beautiful one at that. I still long for it at times, but then I will view Hugh Grant in nearly any film he has starred, with his self-effacing personality and twinkling blue eyes, and I will find myself wondering why I can’t have a life like that?
Look at the elements of a successful Hugh Grant film, if you will. Listen, I don’t have a thing for Hugh Grant. I don’t necessarily find him attractive. I do find his characters attractive, but I would much rather be one of the ensemble that surrounds him. Those people lead such interesting lives and they’re all such good friends to one another! The group who supported him in Notting Hill when Julia Roberts rejected him was funny and kind and quirky and above all else, human. Who wouldn’t want a group of friends to commiserate with, to drink wine with, to just be with in both good times and in bad? Who wouldn’t want a “Spike” to gape at when he pulled something ridiculous or wore some sort of outrageous t-shirt? Who wouldn’t want a group of friends who would do ANYTHING to help another friend be happy? The same goes for the ensemble in Love Actually. Those characters are fantastic and interesting and I always find myself wishing I could just drop right in there and find my niche.
Don’t get me started on the scenery, either. Notting Hill itself is absolutely stunning in its beauty and endlessly interesting, with its shops and street vendors. It looks like the sort of place where one feels included as well as having the ability to step back and be anonymous if one wants. The building facades are charming and the overall feeling is welcoming. Who wouldn’t want that? Similarly, there’s London to consider, with it’s historical aspects intermingling with skyscrapers and the people bustling about and the charming rowhouses and the cobblestone streets. The scene in Love Actually, when the Kelly Clarkson song cues and all the Christmas lights of the London night are shown – breathtaking! Oh, I could go on forever about what I love about it. I want it all. I want to be dipped in it like a strawberry in chocolate. I want to absorb it, to be a vital element living and breathing within the throbbing beauty of it all.
Listen, I know I may sound a bit ridiculous to some. I happen to know that I don’t sound at all ridiculous to more than a few of you. I also know that it’s a dream, a silly pipedream, and that I have a perfectly good life with the ability to seek out and create beauty right here. Let me tell you though, life here ain’t so hot these days. The growing anger within this country and the fractured values, the de-sensitivity to violence and heartbreak, and the millions of faces who immerse them in little screens and big screens and who cut themselves off entirely from the whole population while “living” within their social media…..it’s becoming intolerable. I’m just as guilty as most. I pull out my phone at the drop of the hat and look up a factoid or peruse Facebook on my work break. There are usually two or three perfectly good humans for me to have conversations with seated at the table where I’m at. We could be carrying on lively conversations. Are we? For the most part, no. We are looking at our phones and shoveling in the food. It’s the same in the car. On the street. In the parks. In the checkout line at the grocery store. We are surrounded by people and yet we are completely alone. Kids are growing up not knowing how to socialize if it doesn’t include and structured sport setting or the ability to navigate through a video game of some sort. 3 year-olds are learning how to use Ipads with frightening speed.
I don’t think that it’s better in the UK. I know that these kinds of sub-human activities are going on there, too. I also know that I have good friends who would have my back if needed, even though we are scattered all over the country and in other lands as well. Maybe that’s a key thing for me. I need friends to go to coffee with right here and to drink a bottle of wine with right here and to hang out with, moaning about the mundane trivialities of everyday life. I work too much, make too little, and find the life sapped right out of me at the end of every day. I have neither the energy nor the time to cultivate such relationships, and yet, I feel that maybe I ought to, if I want to get to the place where I think I need to be in order to survive the joy and pain that is life. I have cocooned myself away, and the price I’ve paid for that is to watch Hugh Grant movies and to envy people who don’t exist and a life that doesn’t exist. The possibility of having a life like that is ridiculous; I’m too old to start over and to have to navigate my way through the uncertain waters of employment and housing and the seeking out of an ensemble of friends like in one of those movies. I don’t truly want to do the work it would entail. But I can wish, right?
But gosh, to have a friend like Hugh Grant, with that hair and those eyes!
Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, and the Male Sibling Unit’s thoughts have turned to love.
Yes, you can groan inwardly, like I have, because the thought of the Male Sibling Unit being romantic makes me slightly sick to my stomach. Any thoughts of a family member in the throes of passion causes that knee-jerk reaction; the desire to stuff one’s fingers in one’s ears and yell “NONONONONONONONONONO” until the conversation is drowned out. Ew.
It is a double-edged sword with the Male Sibling Unit, though. His disability makes it so. He is, in a word, awkward. In his mind, intellectually, he really is an 8 year-old sometimes. With life experience, though, he has learned to fake being an adult. You know, like most of the male population! He knows romantic protocols, like taking his lady out to dinner, dancing with her at functions, calling her “Sweetie” and making all the appropriate gifting gestures. I am not saying he is totally genuine about it, because it really is all about him, even if it is all about her. The premise is great, but his mind doesn’t work that way. He rarely does an unselfish thing “just because” since his mind cannot function in that capacity. If he buys her a gift, it becomes a constant musing of “What is she going to think? Is she going to tell me thank you? Will she think I did a good thing?” It is about his gratification, and not anyone else’s. He needs the validation as much as he needs air to breathe. He wants everyone to ply him with compliments about how thoughtful he was. It sounds like a terrible characterization, but it’s just the truth. And we – everyone who knows and loves him – understand his ways, and we wouldn’t want him to be any other way.
Anyway, Valentine’s Day is coming up, and he and his lady are going out to dinner. He was given a gift card for a local restaurant at Christmas by my daughter and son-in-law, with the suggestion that he use it for himself and his girlfriend; a nice, romantic dinner. He was ecstatic and they started making plans right away. They decided to wait for Valentine’s Day, and now the event is nearly upon us and as usual, it is all I am hearing about.
“We’re going to Beefeaters Wednesday! ”
“I think Carol is going to be so happy that we’re going to Beefeaters on Wednesday.”
“I wonder what she will say to me?”
“I think she is happy about this, that I am taking her to Beefeaters for Valentine’s Day.”
Get the picture? Now, expand upon this. This is the topic of discussion every day, the entire time we are home together. When we are not home together, he texts these pronouncements to me throughout the day. In between, of course, we talk about a few other subjects, like the next time he will be going to his community center and how many tests strips he has left to check his glucose and Oh-My-Fucking-God there are only 12 left and what does that mean? We made all of his prescriptions automatic refills, so he will not have to count pills and decide when to call in for refills and so on, but these old habits die hard and it usually takes me having to remind him, once again, that he has automatic refills and how that process works. By the end of the explanation, I need a refill of blood pressure medication for myself because there is not enough of it in the world to bring my pressure back down.
So yes, romance is in the air, and now, we are discussing things like what kind of gift he should give her and what they will be eating at their romantic dinner. They discussed this at length, apparently, and the evening of romance will include two fish dinners.
They are quite certain about that, don’t need a menu, so it is set in stone. The gift? This is much more difficult for me. For who, you ask? Why for you? Well, because the Male Sibling Unit does not buy gifts. He delegates this task to me because it is less about the choosing than it is about the actual giving. I guess he trusts me to purchase something that will elicit the response he craves, which is “Oh look! You are so thoughtful!” And he will take credit for that shit 100%; there will be no bashful admissions that “My sister picked it out” because nuh uh! He is a wily fucker! He wants that adoration for himself!
I know; you think that his reasoning is that she will be so bowled over by his romantic overtures that she’ll give it up, and he is hoping to get laid, right? A normal, 42 year-old man would think that way. And again, I cannot stress this enough: Ew. But if you’re thinking that he is thinking that she’ll be thinking along these lines, think again.
The Male Sibling Unit is the real-life 40-Year-Old Virgin. Correction: make that 42, and quickly closing in on 43. He has never actually kissed a girl, except on the cheek. If one suggests kissing on the lips, and even more, with tongue, he comes undone in a cacophony of giggles and hoots and 8 year-old exclamations of “Eeeeeeewwwwww!” that quite frankly puts any 8 year-old to shame in the dramatic overtures department. To suggest that he actually have sex evokes a honking, hyena-like fit of hysteria that sounds a little bit like Tiny Tim singing and a donkey braying in simultaneous chorus. Then, when he calms down, he whispers, “Ew. Ew. Ew.” in a creepy little voice.
The Male Sibling Unit does not like mess. Or dirt. Or anything sticky, or, well, anything that excretes bodily fluids. He says he likes boobs, but I am dubious. Does he? Really? And it is certain that he does not find vaginas attractive, because he can’t even say the word without disintegrating into fits of horror, disgust, and hysteria. The physical act of sex, even simulated on tv, stresses him out so badly that his legs twitch spasmodically and he erupts into nervous outbursts of “SEX” and “They’re humping” and “Breasts”, the latter which he utters in a creepy, insidious voice that would make any woman (or man, for that matter) run away in fear. Think Golem in The Lord of the Rings, saying “My precious” and you have a pretty good approximation of the Male Sibling Unit uttering “Breasts.”
Alas, no wining and dining the lady; giving her gifts, and coming off as a debonair Jimmy Stewart-esque leading man on Valentine’s Day is definitely not on the roster for Wednesday. To be honest, it will more than likely be he and his lady, accompanied by me and the husband, because he isn’t really good at the tipping thing or the ordering thing or the paying thing. The last time he and the lady went to a sit-down restaurant that did not include an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet or the golden arches, they ordered nearly everything they liked on the menu, because my son was the chef at the restaurant and was comping them (in other words, he was paying for it as a gift to them) and it was a brunch menu. They ordered, well, everything: pancakes, bacon, eggs, toast, sides of fruit, big glasses of orange juice, muffins, french toast……the total came to nearly $50 at a place where two people can eat enough to last them for a day for about $28. And that’s if one of them splurges on cannoli! My son said. “Wow, they must have been hungry.” Nope, they just didn’t really know better and since they didn’t have to stick to a budget, all bets were off! Since they DO have a budget this time, we will tag along just to make sure everything goes okay. We might even sit at a different table, just to give them their privacy. That way, the Male Sibling Unit can take full credit for the stuffed bear he has required I buy for him to give her, but a task which I foisted onto the husband to purchase for him because he is at Walmart every fucking day and the less I have to see of that cesspool of hate, the better.
Pssssst……..hey. You. Yes, you. I want to tell you a secret.
Life is short. It gets shorter with every passing year. The days when you were a child and minutes passed like molasses, the hours slipping by so infernally slow; when it felt like you would never be grown up and never get to do the things the big people did? Those have long since passed you by. I don’t care whether you’re in your 20s, or your 30s, or if you’ve ticked away 5 decades, like me. At some point, you’re either going to become aware of a clock ticking in the background of your life or a quiet humming.
That’s time. It is passing by. You can’t do anything to slow it down. My question for you is this: What are you going to do about that?
Middle age is strange. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that in my case, I am both tired and very awake. Tired, as in weary in a way that speaks to the senselessness of the events that go on around me, both in my own private life, that of people I know and love, and in the world in general. I am weighted down with the sheer heaviness of my experiences, and some days, my only wish is to throw them off like one would a cloak. I think back to the innocence of youth and my belief that people were good, bad things wouldn’t happen, and life was a wonderful, golden opportunity and gift bestowed upon us and that we all could be as successful as we wanted.
Life is a gift. It’s a gift of chance, given to you by your parents, who chose to have you. From that point, chance plays into it, as well as your choices. You may come from humble beginnings and choose to get out of the desperation of poverty by working hard and succeeding. You may be born into a prosperous family and do just the opposite: squander that gift of privilege. The point is this: you can choose what you do. Most of it is chance, yes. You can’t just wish for good and receive it. Some bad is always going to creep in and disrupt the waters on your journey across the ocean of your life. The water is going to become choppy and the waves will crash into you from time to time, and it is very easy to veer off-course.
Keep swimming. Okay?
The awake part that I referenced? This is the moment when you are fully aware that you most likely have less time left than you have lived so far, and you’re apt to look backward and think, “What the fuck have I done with my life?” and wallow in disappointment. Okay, I will give you a moment to fully engage in how that feels.
There. Now snap the fuck out of it.
That’s right, quit thinking about what might have been, what never was, what hasn’t happened, and what can never be. Don’t wallow in the unknown variables, because they in no way define you. YOU define you. Regret is not in your vocabulary, dammit. You can choose to be fierce and loud and out there, and you can choose to be quiet and docile and gentle. You can combine them and be fiercely quiet and gently out there. See what I mean? Who ARE you? That is the question you need to ask yourself, and the answer should not be something finite and defined by the parameters others like to set for you. It should be fluid and ever-changing and evolving, if you will allow me to use a scientific word. This isn’t at all about God or religion, or the lack thereof: it is about YOU. You are the Sun in your universe. Everything in your life revolves around you, and not vice-versa.
I know; this is not a blog I normally write. I try to engage in sarcasm, satire, and sometimes, the quiet desperation I feel when I am really in my low times of depression. I sometimes choose to meet my challenges head-on and serialize them in such a way that can make you laugh, and make you think. Today is a mystery to me. Shit, who am I kidding? Most days are a mystery to me. But I see sadness, and a sense of discontent in so many others – not only in myself – and so I says to myself, I says, “Self, see what you can do to snap those dumbasses out of it. And while you’re at it, smack yourself, because you’re not getting any younger, either!” I just felt like I needed to take a moment to tap some people on the shoulder and whisper in their ears:
Life is not fucking around, yo. It’s marching, like a soldier into battle. Quit your dicking around and either engage in it and fight for what you want or lower your weapon and find a peace. The choice is yours, but know this: it’s going to keep on keepin’ on whether you like it or not.
You’re in this. And you got this. I know you do. I believe.