RBF

Here’s the awful truth, y’all: I have resting bitch face like you’ve never seen.
I started noticing it about six or seven years ago. I’d catch a peripheral glimpse of it in a mirror or in the glass part of a classroom door as it shut and I’d be momentarily stunned at the face I saw looking back at me. It always took me a minute to react, to try Continue reading “RBF”

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Mania, Surgery, Recovery, Reboot

Some weeks ago, I got the idea that I’d run out of things to say, and I couldn’t manage to convince myself otherwise no matter how many times every morning I tried to make myself sit down in front of the computer and write. In truth, I was (and am) just in the middle of an extended period of time during which there were a lot of other things that I Continue reading “Mania, Surgery, Recovery, Reboot”

Scenes from a summer well summered

I’m spent today, y’all.  So without further ado and for your viewing pleasure, I here present a shit-ton of images I captured this summer on my beloved iPhone.  Most are from the Myrtle Beach trip in July, but there are some others from Hubby and I’s trip to Minnesota (to see A Prairie Home Companion) from around the house (kitties!), and from the gorgeous Midwestern sky out here on the prairie.  Much affection to you and yours during this back-to-school week, but I have GOT to get back to this pointless book.  ❤ Continue reading “Scenes from a summer well summered”

Dear Step-son…

First of all, I love you.  You need to know that.  You need to see it written down and really take it to heart and believe it, because I don’t say it very often and you tend not to hear schmaltz (You are 13, after all.)  I also think that you are reluctant to admit that you share my feelings of affection, most likely owing to the very existence of your biological mother. Please know that — contrary to what you probably believe — I understand that you feel pressure to love your mother…both from her and from the universe at large.  I also understand that you’re a teenager, and therefore you automatically want to do that which will annoy your father and me.  You think loving your mother will accomplish that, but it’s not true.  She’s your mother and of course you love her.  What you don’t know yet is that some people don’t get the best moms, and they spend their whole lives wishing they could un-love their mother and undo all the damage she did to them.  I’m so afraid that’s where you’ll end up.  Please believe me when I say that this is my only feeling on the subject.  If you could love her without danger to yourself, all I would have to say is “that’s terrific!” (and to be honest, there are times I could use a break from all your teenageryness).  But you choose to love her up close, to spend more time with her than you should, and in so doing, to put yourself repeatedly and needlessly in harm’s way.  When you come home from there — after several days of bar food, not sleeping at night, and only seeing her drunk if at all — you’re a total shit to us.  I’m sure this is because you imagine yourself greatly inconvenienced to be back again in a house where you are actually looked after and parented.  Regardless of how misunderstood you might feel at these moments, your father and I understand a lot more than we let on.  We try not to pick up the horrible things you say to us, or even all the ways you act out.  We make these allowances (for a little while) because we figure this behavior won’t last forever.  Also because we love you. Both of us, not just the one you’re cloned from.

Have you got it?  Great.

stepson ocean

Now that the serious stuff is out of the way, here’s one of the many reasons I’m writing: Your Axe products are slowly killing me.  Yes, I breathe better now that I quit smoking, but I also breathe better now that I quit smoking, if you see what I mean.  Where I used to only react to about half of the smells in my environment, I am now subject to all of them, at full potency.  When you take a shower and a bath a day and use far more than the required amount of product for both, it makes me think you want me dead and you’ve grown tired of waiting for nature to take its course (or the cat to take his revenge). In retaliation for this everyday attempt to end my life, I have started to rather passive/aggressively do a few things I never did before where you are concerned. First, I no longer go looking for the missing socks and underwear that are not in your laundry basket. This means you run out of both items a few days earlier than usual, and you are forced to make that pouty face because you can’t change two or three times a day.   I am secretly amused by this to such an extent that I find it extremely difficult not to laugh like Renfield and wallow joyfully in your misfortune like Kitty Boy in catnip.  In addition to vowing never again to search for your missing laundry, I have also gleefully stopped making tea.  Admittedly, this used to bother you a lot more than it does now.  But be on your guard, kid; I’m looking for something new and innovative with which to torture you as we speak.

Second, I know you don’t share my opinion on this, but Jesus, Spaghettios stink.  Granted, this is another one of those smells that I notice more because of the non-smoking thing, but they reeked even when my sense of smell was compromised.  But the actuality of the stench is not why I’m bringing this up; please, for the love of god PLEASE, stop making Spaghettios at 3AM.  They wake me up out of a dead sleep, and I have to fight the dry heaves.  The same goes for eggs, although I love those — when you’re sleeping, happily cocooned inside a fluffy cloud of blankets that smell good, anything being cooked is undesirable.  Stop it.  Eat when we eat.  Sleep when we sleep.  You are not a vampire or a drunk, you’re not on mood or behavior altering drugs, and there’s no reason for you to be awake and eating at that time of day.

Third, stop distracting me with stupid YouTube videos.  More to the point, stop distracting me with endless and pointless chatter about stupid YouTube videos.  There’s nothing for me to learn there, and engaging in “conversations” with you about something that took ten seconds to watch and was virtually incomprehensible does not make me feel as though I’m spending quality time with you.  Remarkably, I also don’t find the endless videos of commentary about video games at all interesting.  In fact, I’m not particularly interested in the video games themselves.  Unless you’re talking to me about Final Fantasy or old school Mario Bros., count on getting nothing but a blank look back from me.  Now, if you want to talk to me about the books you read in school or even about South Park and American Dad, I’m there.  Unfortunately, it seems like you stopped watching quality, inappropriate television shows a couple years ago, and the truth is, I am still kind of reeling from the loss of my favorite kid’s perspective on the subject.  Come back.  At least sit on the couch with me for the Trump Show (formerly known as the news) and help me yell obscenities at the screen.  I miss you.

Fourth: boy, I will cut you if you don’t start lifting the lid and hitting the bowl.  Please note that this is a two-part statement.  Both pieces are necessary to prevent my screaming my head off when I enter the bathroom after you.  Now, I understand (from my brief time living in the house with your older brother) that this is some kind of a natural teenage boy thing, but come on.  I knew you two years ago, and at that time, you were perfectly capable of putting your bodily fluids where they belong.  If anything, my presence in your life has made you more civilized, so I seriously don’t understand this recent turn of events.  You are not living in a barnyard, boy.  Get it together.  Otherwise, cleaning the bathroom will become a daily chore that moves over to your list.  Heh….you think it’s hard to get your allowance now.

Fifth: if you’re trying to irritate me with your love of sub-par rap music (when I can barely stomach the really good stuff), you’ve succeeded.  But you should know that if I keep hearing it playing on a loop at a steady and monotonous drone while you’re otherwise engaged with playing a game and chatting online, then I cannot be responsible for my actions.  Your phone (from which the music streams) might just up and disappear. My little brother needs an iPhone, and I know for certain that I can trust him to use it to play decent music.

Finally, please PLEASE make an effort to be the boy I know you can be this year.  Last year, you lied to us about homework, you didn’t study until you had nearly flunked out, and you hung around with the only thug in our corn-fed, miniscule town.  I know you’re smart.  I’ve talked to you.  I’ve nearly fallen out of my chair a hundred times from laughing at some hilarious and undeniably smart thing you’ve said or done.  I damn near have a master’s degree, I’ve read a shit-ton of books, and I have more life experience than I can stomach; you couldn’t possibly crack me up like you do if you weren’t above average.  Please, show your teachers that side of yourself this year.  You’re handsome and you’re charming, and nothing in the world could stop you if you stopped trying to stop yourself.

I love you, step-son.  Get your shit together.
~Step-mom

Rich

There are times — few and much too far between — when Step-son, Step-daughter, and I are on our own all day and we actually enjoy one another’s company the whole time.  In the months before I married their dad (when they’d been without a mom for a startlingly long stretch), those days seemed to occur more often; now, I’m lucky if I get two or three a year.  Last night, I had one.

I’ve been spending a ludicrous amount of time on the computer lately, and they’ve both been undeniably teenager-y.  Plus, it’s summer, and it’s been kind of a stretch to get us all in one place at the same time.  But last night was nice.  I made a real supper, and we sat around the table visiting while we ate it.  Step-son just returned from a trip upstate working with his grandpa, and he brought back a healthy sum of money for a kid; we were looking forward to making a nighttime trip to the local Wal-Mart so he could spend some of it.

I remember fondly that oh-my-god-we-have-a-shit-ton-of-money giddiness when I was a kid.  I think I’ve written about it here before.  But it’s almost as much fun, almost as awesome and hopeful and huge — to be party to it as an adult.  Of course, our little family isn’t poor, and we’re a two parent household, even if one of us is only here by marriage.  But in the past, the kids have seen some shitty days, and I’m sure they’re a lot like every other person on the planet who’s lived through crap:  whether you want to or not, you carry some of it around with you for the rest of your life.  If you’re lucky, the bad days behind you only serve to make you appreciate the good ones more.

More than anything, I hope one day that’s how they feel about their lives.

So we’re not in dire financial straits at the moment, but they remember pretty clearly what that was like.  And despite their ages, I think they also have enough of the little kid mentality remaining that they see a small amount of money and imagine a thousand amazing things that it could buy.  Frankly, I’m pretty surprised we didn’t head straight for the candy aisle (or the ice cream), but the kids went in with a mission.  We took our time wandering around and dreaming a bit while we shopped, but we left with an entirely reasonable haul.

After we spent a little of our money on shoes, school supplies, bananas, and the 750th fidget spinner of the summer, we got in the car to head for home.  I was just beginning to wonder about a possible trip to Dairy Queen, when Step-daughter spotted the bright pink remains of the sunset half-hiding behind Wal-Mart.  I hurriedly turned right out of the parking lot instead of left and whipped the car behind the building.  We pulled over and all of us leaped out with our cell phones, each determined to get the best picture.  (We do that sometimes — it’s all about the bragging rights.)

IMG_2764.JPG

Step-son managed to get the most contrast-y and hot pink tones with his camera, but I’d like to think I got more variety.  Regardless, as we drove home, they were both resetting their phone’s wallpapers, talking about editing tools, and enjoying the company.

No one even mentioned it when we drove past the ten stinky cow and pig farms on our way back to the house.  I’d like to believe that it was a night so perfect they didn’t even notice.

Sonny

My cat has kitty breath.  I know this because he’s sitting on the arm of the couch leaning against my arm, periodically meowing in his beseeching little kitten voice. He’s not a kitten anymore.  In fact, he’s five years old and freakin’ huge.  But when he addresses his mother (me), he uses a different voice — the same one he used when he was little and afraid something was going to get him.  Nothing ever did.

He doesn’t like it when I sit the computer in my lap and type.  In fact, he pretty much hates the computer on principle.  Although it is equipped with rubber feet, he tries diligently to push it off the counter when I put it on the charger at night.  And when he finally gives up on attempting to move it, he lays down on it, determined that if it will not die, then at least I won’t have access to it.

I like his smarts.  When I’m not paying attention to him, he walks around doing all the things he’s not supposed to until I get up with the water bottle and chase him around the house.  Once I’ve sprayed him, he follows me back to my chair and gets on my lap before I have the chance to put anything else there.  Sonny is better at recognizing the worried tone in my voice than any dog I’ve ever had.  If I’m looking for him and can’t find him, he comes to my side as soon as I call, sometimes still yawning and stretching from his nap.  When we see one another, I say “there you are,” and he meows in response as if to say “hell yes I am, crazy woman.” Sometimes I think he just talks to hear himself talk, much like his mother.  We spend an inordinate amount of time meowing back and forth at one another, a pastime that my husband finds more amusing than he probably should.

Sonny, I think, is a lot of the reason why I ended up married to Hubby.  Aside from me, there is no one else on the planet besides him that my smart and evil kitty can stand.  Sonny moves from one of our laps to the other while we sit in front of the television; he greets us both when we come home; and he walks across both of our chests at night when we’re going to sleep.  Sonny and I agreed on Hubby, otherwise I’d probably still be single.

Kitty Boy might be evil (and unlikable as far as other people are concerned), but he has undeniable good taste.

Full circle(s)

I turned 40 in 2014, and as I was staring down at my much over-candled birthday cake, I made a decision:  I was tired of being fat, and I was going to make sure I never was again.  In the succeeding six months, I lost 60 pounds, which got me within 15 pounds of a normal BMI for the first time since I was ten years old.  I managed to keep it all off for a year before I started dating my sweet husband, and…I guess I can only agree that it’s true what they say about happiness and heaviness:  if the former is a new thing, then it will almost certainly cause the latter.  By the end of 2016, I had to put all of my “skinny” clothes into the boxes that had previously contained my “fat” clothes, but from the moment I did it, I knew I couldn’t stand to keep things that way for long.  I could not go back to plus-size clothing, not with my pear-shaped build (read:  I am not so blessed in the boobies department, and plus-size clothes are made for women who are).

But I ended up keeping the weight longer than I intended.  It turns out that feeding a couple of teenagers means keeping in the house a lot of Oreos, cheddar and sour cream potato chips, ice cream, and pizza, and after more than a year on a calorie counting diet, I found not a single thing on that list that I could resist.  That is…until this week.

ocean recording

A week ago last Saturday, we got home from a week in Myrtle Beach.  It was the first vacation we’d ever taken as a family, and the first vacation that the kids had ever had in their lives.  It was a good time, even though the heat was stifling and led to much less time on the beach than we wanted.  But despite the good time and the total joy of being in a place I love with the people I love most in the world, here is what I primarily took away from our vacation:

THERE IS NOT A SINGLE PICTURE OF ME FROM THAT WHOLE AWESOME VACATION THAT I CAN STAND TO LOOK AT.

So I came home, ate about ten more Harry & David’s chocolate covered cherries, and decided that come Sunday, it was back to counting calories for me.  I’ve done great.  As of this morning, I’m down eight pounds and back on the road to being able to wear my sweet American Eagle jeans by fall.  But I’ll tell you what, it feels even more amazing and unbelievable than it did the first time–I can’t believe I’ve found the willpower to do this on top of so recently giving up smoking.  The first time, all I had to do when I felt like eating was light a cigarette.  This week, I haven’t had that fallback and so I had to find something else to occupy my mind and my fingers.  It’s been rough though, I’m not going to claim that it hasn’t.

I have, however, really tried to make lemonade from the lemons.  I started writing again–every day, whether I felt like it or not.  And then, a few days ago, I came back home to online journalling…for the first time in more than four years.  It’s great to be back, and I intend to stay long past the time when I can stand to look at pictures of myself again, perhaps even after my fingers stop itching for a cigarette.