Saturday, January 28, 2012

Don't F*ck With Mama

When I became a mother I finally understood how my mom could still, after 28 years, have a resentment against a girl who was mean to me in 5th grade. You just don't fuck with mama. And by not fucking with mama, I mean, you don't mess with a woman's brood. Not one of them. Nothing brings out the grizzly bear in me like someone hurting my beasts. 

Today I was talking to a mama whose whose son's finger was cut off in the bathroom door at school. The next day she went to the director of the school's office with her drill and said, "Are you going to take that door down, or am I?" That is don't fuck with mama chutzpah

This year my children have started in a public school after going to an experiential school, where kids learn hands on, have no tests, and no grades. Students move up according to age and abilities. They set goals quarterly to keep track of their progress. It's a little heaven of a school, but a school with tuition and after I stopped teaching there I just couldn't afford it. 

The public school my kids attend is actually a good public school. The teachers work hard and love their students.  They do as much hands on as possible with state testing. They try to get the kids outside 15 minutes a day (sigh). 

For the most part, my kids are happy, and the worst part of the transition has been for me. My don't fuck with mama button has been pushed so many times these past few months it's a miracle I have not literally turned into a raging bull. Don't fuck with my beasts, because that is fucking with mama.

At my beasts' school there is this strange, systemic idea that writing should be used as punishment, and for a dyslexic boy that is hell. That dyslexic would be my 8 year old beast. The first time it happened his teacher assigned him 50 sentences for not doing his homework, I was away at acupuncture school, I hadn't smoked for 3 days, and my mom, (the OSQ) called to tell me that my boy was sobbing about 50 sentences he had to write on top of his already ridiculous amount of homework. I was so pissed I got into one of those rage induced sobbing, cussing fits that is so attractive on a person. 
And yes, I know that was a little bit over the top, but give me a break, I hadn't had a cigarette in three days. Anyway I wrote a very nice letter to the teacher, (who my son loves), and explained why that was not an appropriate consequence for my boy, who writing is already a punishment for. Round one down. 

Since then, I have written five letters to my boy's teachers, made two phone calls, whipped my car around in the pick up line, parked, took 50 deep breaths, and met with the principal. And today after another threat of 50 sentences I kindly packed up three packets of hot tea in a New York Times article called About Education: The Evil of Using Writing to Punish and dropped it off for the principal. 

I've actually been very sane about it. I mean I know in many ways I am, that parent, the troublemaker, the helicopter. But I compliment the teacher's. I do think they are great, I just don't think that using writing as a punishment is so great. And actually because it brings out fear and pain in my boy, it brings out an anger in me that I'm not sure I ever felt before having children. Don't fuck with mama anger that is so primal I'm grateful I have learned about taking a breath before jumping on someone like a monkey with rabies. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Birthday Was a Gas

Last Thursday was my birthday. I'm 38 years old and my life is sweet as pie. Things are really good. I love my job. My beasties are a delight. My man and I are doing well. I'm passing acupuncture school (which is no small feat). And I'm surrounded by amazing friends and family.

I had a great birthday. On that day I decided to focus on the positive things about being 38. I care less about what others think, I have clear vision of what I want for my future, I'm healthy, I have the opportunity to laugh a lot, and laugh often.

On my birthday I was not going to let myself focus on the fact that I am getting older and the disadvantages that come with age. When those thoughts popped into my head I quickly whisked them away to some far off corner of my mind to stew on their own. I was not going to focus on the fact that my lips, and corners of my eyes seem to be a little less supple, a little more line filled. I was going to ignore the grey hairs that multiply daily on my head. Hairs that seem more like wire than glossy locks. I was not going to dwell on the white pubic hair I found last week, who daringly stood out and said, "YOU ARE GETTING OLD, SISTER." It was my birthday damn it, and I was going to feel young and free.

Which I did that morning as I practiced tai chi and worked on a paper for school. I felt spry, focused, and excited. All through work I was brilliant and hardworking and fun. Even through dinner with my family I felt young and happy and so very satisfied with my life. Shit, 38 is really the beginning I thought, I am in my prime.

"So what happened?" you ask. "What happened that opened your eyes to the fact that you are no spring chickie?" The body, that's what happened. The body just had to bring me down from my little pink cloud. I think all the truths about getting older, you know those ugly thoughts I banished to the corner of my mind, I think they started a rebellion and the body just couldn't wait to have a good laugh at my expense. It was a true conspiracy against the Queenpin.

After dinner with my family. I went to my Sweet Escape's. He usually works nights, but he was getting off early and we were going to spend a little time on my birthday.  He bought me a garnet charm to go on the charm bracelet he bought me for Christmas. We snuggled up. It was a delicious, sweet time, until IT happened. Right in the middle of some cop show on t.v. and some snuggling I coughed and right at that moment, I farted. LOUD. A cough and a fart! RIGHT OUT LOUD, on my perfect 38th birthday while I was pretending I wasn't getting any older.

Let me back up to explain that my Sweet Escape and I have been together for over a year, and I have NEVER farted in front of him. I have actually woken up next to him in the middle of the night from fear off farting. I have taken great lengths to pretend that I do not ever shit or fart. Often in the morning I run out for something just so I can go to the nearest store and use their bathroom. He is always confused when it has taken me 30 minutes to run down to the corner store and get a pack of smokes. I, however, return relieved and in a much better mood.

I posted this video on Sweet Escape's Facebook page as a joke and he was totally horrified that the first impression his family would have of me would be this:

So on the first day of my 38th year and I ruin the image I have worked so hard to create! I mean, I'm used to peeing myself occasionally. I have accepted that a good laughing fit, or sneeze when the bladder is not empty can necessitate an underwear switch-a-roo. I've had two kids, I accept it. But the surprise cut the cheese? I was not prepared. He was not prepared. I guess that's why it was a surprise. Yet I had made it the whole day in sweet denial of the changes that age has enforced on my body and that fart just ruined my sweet denial. My man and I cracked up laughing at it, yet there was a little kernel of concern created in my mind. And that kernel was getting ready to pop like Jiffy Pop on the hot stove. What does this uninvited flatulence mean? Am I losing my touch, just when I am actually finding it?

And then of course I had to look my mentor the Don. Really,WWtDD? What would the Don do? Would he ignore it? What would his organization do, and how would they feel if the man they loved and respected no longer controlled his flatulence?  Would they send one of Virgil Sollozzo's goons to murder him in his own gaseous cloud? A kingpin that has uncontrollable gas is on his way out. It is a true sign that your body is failing and the mind is soon to follow. I began fearing my demise was at hand. I began to focus on the hard and fast truth that I am closer to 40 than 30. I am aging, and nothing will ever be the same.

This video is disgusting and such 6 year old humor, however, you will get my point after the first 10 seconds. Could you take that man seriously?

But then, I gave myself a mental shake, and when that didn't work, I smacked my own face like Annette Bening in American Beauty. Snap out of it!

Really think about this WWtDD? Would he give up his place in the Family just because of a something as irrelevant as GAS? Would he cut his lost boys loose, would he hand them over to raise so that someone else had to bear the responsibilities of being the Boss? Hell no! He would confront his flatulence head on. He would not let others see it as a sign of weakness. He would proclaim, "So whah?" In his mumbly, jumbly, speak, "So whah? You don't fart? Let's get down to business." He would move on and not let a little toot ruin his whole self image.

See? Even this lady cuts the cheese.
Here I am, 38 and five days and I have not have a repeat of that gaseous gift, but that is not the point of my whole freak out. The point is for me to continue on this path of self-acceptance, and for me that means accepting that I'm getting older. With age comes the joy and peace of wisdom, and the pain and hilarity of an aging body. Aging means carrying on even when I'm embarrassed, and not letting farts get me down. Sheesh, that's life. As a matter of fact, have you farted out loud today? So whah? Let's get down to business!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Crazy Time

This November, after 4 years, I finally got a divorce. I thought I would feel relief or freedom or terrible sadness, but what I felt was a big ole' fat mix of emotions so complex that it just felt like a black tar. I didn't even open the final decree. I filed it with my divorce papers from marriage  numero uno and then I swept the living room. 

It is strange how far my life has come since the moment that my husband looked over at me and said, "I don't want to do this anymore." That statement propelled me into Sassy Queenpin Mamahood and opened my life up to such a beautiful garden of pain, pleasure, beauty and fear. That sentence saved my life. It forced me to grow up, it forced me to find acceptance in who I really am, not in who I think I should be. It forced me have faith in myself.

Soon after the husband left my mom bought me a book called Crazy Time by Abigail Trafford. I'm not much of a self-help book reader.  I start out strong, but can never read the whole thing, however, this book (which I still didn't finish) said somethings that I have carried with me and repeated to myself over and over for the past four years. After your marriage falls apart, it is going to get a little crazy. And you my friend are going to be crazy for 2 - 5 years. Re-read. Yes, you read it right......What the fuck?????? At first that made me sick, and then my ego took over and I thought, "Abigail, my dear, you have never met me. I am an exceptional healer. I am great at endings and beginnings, but not so great at in betweens. I will be beyond this pain in 6 months tops."  Hahahahaha, I had such high hopes....

Year four has come, and finally, finally, finally I feel peace, and purpose, and settled. I feel pretty nice in my skin. I love being home with my beasts. I have goals and dreams that fit our lives. I am not searching as much anymore, I'm living.

My crazy time was not super crazy, crazy. I did not run anyone over with my car, or take off for days on a coke binge. But there were times that I wasn't a great mom. There were times I drank too much, I slept too much, I yelled too much. There were times I didn't take care of myself, or I over took care of myself. There were many times I was so self-centered I lost sight of everything but me. There were times when I became so obsessed with my children it made me sick. There were times I became so enraged with their father I wished the world would open up and swallow him whole, and I let the whole world know it (except my beasts).

When I was first separated I did not understand how much marriage had shaped me. I hadn't noticed the subtle ways that I had let my personality meld into my husband. I had not realized that, though I was still a whole person, I had strangely morphed into a person with this large appendage called a husband that I had adapted my life to accommodate. It was like Sissy Hankshaw's thumb in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins, except she was born with her appendage and I chose mine.

Anyway, when the appendage fell off I didn't have to make accommodations for it anymore, and I was amazed. I was amazed at how lost I was and by how large my life felt. I was amazed that I had been so defined by the role of MARRIED WOMAN. I was amazed at how profoundly being left by the man that I married and who fathered my kids changed who I was and where I thought my life was going. I was fucking LOST.

So for awhile I flitted about searching for what I wanted now that my dreams had been rerouted and my definition of myself had been stomped into little pieces. Sometimes I looked like a butterfly and other times I was like a month continuously banging my head on that stupid light trying to find heaven. Damn, it was a crazy time, and it was a painful time, and it was a hilarious time, and it was a beautiful time. And now it's time for something else.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Thank You Sugahs

There is this great page on Facebook called Write Like a Motherf*cker and I love it. It leaves status updates on my page that say things like:

I'll have you know that my friend Eva Tenuto and I (Sari) wrote like Motherfuckers from 12:30 till 2:30 today. Like, shit that once you've written, you can't unwrite.


Cementing myself in my chair for the next two hours (2pm-4pm EST). Turning off the Internet/turning on Freedom, reheating the coffee, putting on a sweatsuit, dropping the phone in a drawer, getting organized, staying hydrated, and kicking chapter 2's ass. Who's in?

Yesterday I wrote this really sweet post about the woman who I thought was the administrator of the Write Like Motherf*cker Facebook page, Sugar on the Rumpus, but as it turns out it is not her! Lawd, I am such a nerd. A nerd that needs to do research before she publishes her posts and puts them on Facebook! 

It turns out that there are two luscious ladies that administer that site and keep me writing, Elissa Bassist and Sari Botton. This thank you is to them. 

I just love them. I love that they treat me like a friend and fellow writer even though we've never met. I know they write their posts for hundreds, but for me it seems like such a personal invitation from my good friends and coffee mates. Hey girl, come write with us. You can do it. 

I hardly ever write when they ask me to, but they are so forgiving, they still asking me to write with them whenever their working. They never judge that I don't sit down and get busy. They never sigh and shake their heads when I am wrapped up in kids, and graduate school, my man, and work. Plus they use the word Motherfucker with love and that just makes me feel like a super nurtured badass. 

Today they posted the Elvis Costella video above and said, This is for us this year and my heart swelled with gratitude for their support and their belief in me, in us. Their belief in all of us faceless writers following them on Facebook and floating on the sea of their support. 

I am not a published writer, I know, I'm a blogger. A second class writer, maybe third, but Write Like a Motherf*ker makes me feel like the real deal. Those encouraging Facebook posts make me smile. They remind me that writing heals my soul, so no matter what others think, my Facebook friends and I know that in my bones I am a writer. 

This Christmas I asked for a coffee mug. Not just any mug. The mug of all mugs:
But no one got it for me, so I did what I think my Write Like a Motherfucker friends would have suggested, I just bought my own damn mug. I imagine myself curled in my bed, laptop open, hot coffee in my mug and me and my Facebook friends writing like motherfuckers. Dirty Harry writing, and by that I mean, Go ahead, make my day, writing. Double dog dare you to write writing, because this year, everyday, everyday, we'll write the book. 

Thanks to Elissa and Sari for being so sweet about my super silly snafu. No matter who I gave credit to in name, the gratitude is all for you.