Friday, September 12, 2014

You Take the Good

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."
                                        -Roald Dahl

Today, I wore a star on my face. A little gold star that from far away probably looked like a piece of dirt or maybe a mole. I wore it right smack dab on my left cheekbone.

Like this (try not to focus on the nose):



It wasn't planned. I want to say it ended up on my face by accident but that wouldn't exactly be true because it's not like I bumped into a gold star with my face. What actually happened was this morning when I bent down to pick up my shoes from the hallway right outside my bedroom door, it caught my eye: a single gold star shining on grey carpet, juxtaposed with my matte black shoes.

Where it came from, I have no idea. Neither Griffin nor Keifer has done any recent school work that would entail using tiny, shiny gold stars, and it certainly wasn't there when I put my shoes on the floor last night. Regardless of how it ended up there, though, there it was, and to me--well, to me, it was magical.

A magical gold star.

A magical gold star that appeared out of nowhere.

A magical gold star that appeared out of nowhere meant for no one but me.

Now, I don't know what you would do if you found a magical gold star meant specifically for you, but to me, there was no choice other than the one I made, and so I brought it into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, pressed the tiny, shiny, non-adhesive magical star to my skin, and what do you know? It adhered.

Just like magic.

As you can maybe imagine, the star invited commentary. Miss, you have a star on your face; Miss, there's a sticker on your face; or Miss, do you know there's a star on your face? were repeated throughout the day. Most of the time, a simple I know from me was all anybody needed, but one girl just couldn't understand. After she asked me if I knew I had a star on my face and I said yes, she asked me if I wanted it there (umm...if I didn't want a star on my face, and I knew it was there, would I have a star on my face?). When I assured her I did and walked away, I heard her saying she didn't understand why anybody would want a star on her face.

What I don't understand is why anybody wouldn't.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Imperfect Boys with Imperfect Ploys

As a feminist and someone with an interest in sociology, I've often wondered about men and women's roles not just in our society, but in all societies (or at least all societies I'm aware of. I realize there may be an anomaly or two out there. If there are, they're too few and far between to be relevant to this post).  I've wondered why and how it is that since the beginning of recorded history until now, men have been the one with all the rights and women have not. How is it, I wondered, that no matter where you look and no matter when you look, women couldn't vote...women were property...women had to cover X part of their bodies...women were stoned or covered in acid or their hands were cut off...women weren't allowed to work or go to school...women were ruled by men's decisions about their body? Was it simply that men were physically stronger? It couldn't be. Physical imbalance couldn't possibly explain the dominant role of men in societies everywhere.

Except I actually kinda think it could.

This summer there was an incident. For reasons that I don't agree with AT ALL, I can't reveal the name of one of the people involved, so for the sake of the story, let's call him Bob. Bob is eighteen and someone I know very well; in fact, I've known him pretty much his entire life. I also know his family, and he knows mine. We're like family, I guess you could say. Well, this summer, I was sitting down having a conversation with Bob--a normal, civil conversation with no voices raised--when, out of nowhere (like, literally, out of nowhere. I had witnesses to the conversation who confirmed it came out of nowhere, that nothing bad or antagonistic was said and that Bob is just a fucking lunatic), Bob says, maliciously and in no way at all kidding around, Fucking bitch.

I don't know what I did, but I imagine my mouth dropped open, I was so in shock. I know I didn't say anything. I was too surprised. And a second later when Bob stood up, said, Whore! and walked away, I also kept my mouth shut, just as I did when a minute later, he called me a pig. It wasn't until he called me a pig face (um, hello, have you seen this Greek/Italian/Jewish schnoz? Has Bob ever actually even seen the face of a pig?) that I said anything at all, which was that I didn't have a pig face because I had a big nose, and that it was funny because he was actually the one with the nose that kind of looked like a pig's. And that's when things got really crazy.

Bob, who's 5'7" and weighs about 230 pounds (there's a pig comparison there, but it's so easy, I won't point it out), came at me threateningly and, with the 90 pounds he had on me, shoved me against the wall and wouldn't move. He just held me there with his big belly, and there was nothing I could do. Nothing. And let me tell you, I was scared. Forget scared. I was terrified. Luckily, it was at that point that Griffin, a soon-to-be man who weighs 115 pounds and has never fought in his life, hit Bob in order to get him off of me (can I just say it's a good thing Griffin is the one I had there to defend me because if it were Keifer, I'd probably have been killed while he continued to sip his coffee and build things in Minecraft?). It was also at that point that things got a little crazier, the short version being that I was in between Griffin and Bob while Bob was hitting Griffin inches away from a sliding glass door and it was only because another man came along and was able to restrain Bob that Griffin and I didn't end up in way worse shape than we did.

What you're meant to come away with from that story isn't that Bob is an unstable fucking lunatic nutcase (although you probably did, and that's okay) but that it was all men running the show. From Bob's attack rendering me helpless to the fact that my fifteen-year-old son who I outweigh by twenty-five pounds had to free me to the other man who physically pulled Bob away (not once, but twice, but I'll stop the story there), it was all men.

I was absolutely, positively helpless.

Only two other times in my life have I felt that way, and yes, they both concerned men. One is a story I've already written involving an electrical cord and a rape, so excuse me if I don't go into it all over again. The other occurred when, five years ago, Glenn forcefully took my phone from me and refused to give it back. He came into our bedroom and ripped it from my hand, and no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get it back. Honestly, Glenn is so much stronger than I am, my trying to physically get anything from him he didn't want me to have would be laughable if it weren't so frustrating, infuriating, and sad. Not only could I not get my phone--my phone, my very own phone, which I bought and paid for, which was MINE--but he also wouldn't let me out of the house. Because things were so insane, I tried to go to my sister's, but every time I did, Glenn blocked the doors. We have a front and a back one in my house, and try as I might, run as hard I could, bolt as abruptly as I did, every time I made a move, Glenn overpowered me and got right in front of the door.

Like this summer with Bob, like December 5, 1988, on that spring night of 2009, I felt completely and utterly helpless, impotent and powerless and entirely at the

--at the what?

whim?

mercy?

(certainly not mercy, for not one of the men involved in these incidents showed any mercy)

disposal?

(certainly disposal, for all of the men involved in these incidents saw me as an object, merely a thing capable of reinstating their loss of power)

--disposal of men.

Some of you reading out there, especially men, are probably annoyed or perhaps getting angry, thinking all men aren't like this, this blog is a gross generalization, plenty of nice guys abound and plenty of women aren't so nice at all; in fact, plenty of women fight just like men and are strong just like men and dominate people just like men, but I'm happy to point out that this is absolutely not the norm, and on a biological level, men are naturally stronger than women, and on an evolutionary level, they're dominant from their strong jawlines to their prominent brows. My argument is about none of those things. What is my argument then? I guess I'm not entirely sure (just like a woman, huh?). But when I take into account that even Griffin, who's half Bob's weight and one-hundred percent intellectual and therefore, zero percent fighter, hit Bob in my defense, which is something I would never do, resorting to screaming and panicking and freaking out instead, I think what it comes down to is this:

As "evolved" as we've become, as "civilized" as the world now is, as much "progress" as (it seems) women have made, women will be women and men will be men, and we will always--always--be at their mercy, and no amount of so-called equal opportunity or legislation or feminist ideology is going to change that.

And that really, really sucks.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Still, I Thrive

For our first married Valentine's Day, I wanted to do something special for Glenn but wasn't sure what. After exploring a lot of ideas, I came across a recipe in the food section of the Sun-Sentinel for chocolate bags, which involved melting chocolate, painting the inside of small bags with the melted chocolate, peeling away the small bag, and then, voila! having a bag made entirely of chocolate, which was then to be stuffed with homemade chocolate mousse for which there was a recipe, too. It definitely didn't seem easy to me, but it wasn't like the recipe was in a gourmet cookbook or something; it was right there in the newspaper, designed for the masses. If the masses could do it, I thought, then surely I could, too.

I'm sure you don't have to read what I'm about to write next to know what happened: the bags were a bust. I won't go into the dreadful details, but--oh, what the hell? Let's detail it up.

I had worked an entire shift at The Cheesecake Factory, and on my way home, my then best friend, Erin, and I bought the ingredients for the bags and then stopped at my mom's house so I could make the bags and then bring them home to Glenn as a surprise.

I melted the chocolate, got the bags that needed to be "painted," did the painting, made the mousse while waiting for the bags to solidify in the fridge, and then set to work peeling off the paper bag so I'd have nothing left but the solid chocolate bag underneath. And then everything went wrong.

No matter how many bags I tried to paint and peel, no matter how thick I tried to make the chocolate, I just couldn't get anything substantial enough to hold together on its own. Every time I tried to peel the paper bag off the chocolate, the chocolate either came with it or was so thin that by the time I got to a lower part of the bag, it'd crumble--if you could even call it a crumble. In truth, there may not have even been enough chocolate that wasn't attached to the bag for it to qualify as a crumble.

Being three months pregnant and exhausted from having worked a hectic Valentine's Day shift at Cheesecake, I have to tell you that those failed bags seemed like nothing less than total catastrophe. I tried coming up with some other way, some creative way to present the chocolate mousse, but since everything else seemed stupid, I threw it in the garbage can. And then I sat on my mom's couch and cried.

As I sat there on the couch watching Erin and my mother eat the mousse out of the garbage can, all I could think about was how it was my first married Valentine's Day with Glenn, I was pregnant with his baby, and I wasn't going to have anything to give him. It was supposed to be special, but because of my inability to recognize what I can and can't do, I completely messed it up.

Well. Fast forward fifteen years and four months to yesterday, Griffin's fifteenth birthday. You'll be completely unsurprised to find that I still haven't learned my lesson. Every year, he or Kei, whose birthday is five days before Griffin's, asks for some impossible cake, and every year, like a damn fool, I agree to do it. Dragonballs, Legos, Darth Maul's lightsaber, Blink-182 album art. They ask, I do (or to be more exact, we do. Glenn usually gives me more help than not).

This year, though, Griffin made a request that takes the cake. This year, he asked for a Rubik's cube cake. A Rubik's cube cake! Like I'm frickin' Cake Boss or Iron Chef or some other reality TV person that I don't watch because until I got rid of my cable, I didn't even know how to turn on my TV. I told him there was no way I could make him a Rubik's cube cake, that I'm not a cake decorator, and it was absolutely out of the question.

But what the fuck do you think I did?

As adamant as I was about not making that cake, and I was adamant, let me tell you, I started letting these thoughts slip into my head. Okay, so you don't want to make the cake, I told myself. You can at least check them out. Just look them up on the Internet, I thought. It's not like you have to actually do anything.

Ha!

I googled Rubik's cube cake, and of course, because it's the stupid Internet, a million things came up. Images, recipes, tutorials. I clicked on a few pictures, opened a few links, read a few step-by-steps, and then clicked out. Me, attempt to make a Rubik's cube cake? Out of the question. Completely.

Ha!

Monday night, there I was, literally up to my forearms in my first ever attempt at marshmallow fondant (which if not the stickiest substance known to man, has to be a close second. I seriously think I could attach things to the wall with that stuff. Like a refrigerator). The tutorial warned me it would be sticky and to liberally grease myself and the counter up with Crisco, which I did, but I must have done something wrong because my hands were like blocks of cement. If Glenn didn't use a spatula to scrape the fondant from the tops and bottoms of my hands and destroy the webbing it created between my fingers, I'd probably be dead by now.

The next day, Tuesday, because attempting a first try at making fondant and a perfectly cubed cake wasn't enough, I set out to make all-natural food coloring. Poison my children with traditional food coloring? Not me. Hours later, a bowl of cherry juice sitting on the counter top and a white square of cherry-juice-resistant fondant floating inside of it, I didn't give two fucks who I poisoned. Sometimes you just have to choose your battles, you know?

Additionally, while I'm asking you what you know, did you know you have to color the fondant before you roll it out repeatedly, whip out the Boys-Town, he-ain't-heavy, he's-my-brother ruler, and make the 45 evenly-sized squares? I wish I had. I do now. Also, did you know it's best to make the cake before cutting the squares so you have some inkling, any inkling at all, how big you need those squares to be to cover the cake appropriately? I sure wish I had. But I do now.

All that fondant? All those squares? The ones I spent hours rolling and measuring and cutting and perfecting? Lumped back together into a pile, broken apart into separate piles, and poisoned in red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. Left in the fridge overnight.

The next day, Wednesday--Griffin's birthday. Noon. I pull the fondant out of the fridge, drop the blue blob on the counter, roll it out, ready to make nine perfectly shaped squares, only to find that the liquid from the poisonous food coloring made it so soft, it was now more like gum than anything on this earth other than gum. Forming squares was impossible.

I know this is an incredibly long story, so let me just skim over the next seven hours of crying, frustration, hating and damning Griffin for his impossible request, and hysterical laughter when my all white Rubik's cube cake ended up looking like, according to Keifer, a spaceship with paneled walls, and according to an old student, a couch.

You know what? Just for fun, let's take a look:



Yes, readers. The above photo is, in fact, the Rubik's cube cake I spent three days and over ten hours working on.

I'll now skip to the part where a friend on Facebook suggested I arrange M&M's in colored squares, so I went to the store, bought two bags (along with a bottle of wine that, by that point, I felt like chugging right there in the parking lot at Walgreens), ripped off the fondant siding, and with a little (read: a lot) help from Glenn, completely redesigned the cake with an hour to spare before Griffin got home with his friends.

Just because I need to save a little face, let's now look at the redesign:



Not perfect, sure, but did you see the first version?

Anyway.

The point of this extra-large blog is not to pat myself on the back for a job well done. It's to reflect on my inability to realize the limitation of my capabilities and consistent attempt to do more than I'm able. I used the story of the chocolate bags and the story of Griffin's cake to illustrate, but this is a consistent theme with me. From major things like teaching a full load of AP Language and Composition classes along with two honors English classes during the day while also sponsoring clubs and driving an extra 80 miles twice a week to teach ENC 1101 classes for a year to getting an MFA while being a full-time high school English teacher, teaching night school, and raising two sons to minor things like thinking sanding and painting my dining room table and chairs when I hadn't sanded anything since seventh-grade shop class or taking my kitchen completely apart, cabinets and drawers and all, and painting it on my own will be a snap, I often find myself completely immersed in something that's impossibly hard for me to do. Sometimes it works out--like yesterday, with Griffin's cake--but sometimes, like with the chocolate bags, it turns into an absolute disaster. But the common thing, whether everything works out in the end or not, is that while I'm in the midst of the situation, whatever it might be, I feel like the Hellmouth is about to open and the world is about to end. I feel like I can't breathe, and like I can't do it, and I'm frazzled, and I'm frustrated, and I want to cry--and sometimes I do. But no matter how much I can't breathe, how much I can or can't do, how frazzled and frustrated I am, and how much I cry, it all eventually ends.

But I don't.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Don't Ever Look Back

Okay, so three days ago I finished the Runner's World Run Streak, a forty-day, one-mile-per-day minimum running challenge. The first thing I have to say is I've practically never felt so accomplished in my life (some of you may think that's not quite the right choice of diction since accomplished means highly skilled or expert, but believe me, it is). The second thing I have to say is that while I understand running between one and two miles a day for forty days, for a grand total of fifty-five miles, might not be a huge deal to a lot of people--like, say, my husband who runs that much, if not more, in a week--people should also understand that it's a lot to me. And the third thing I have to say is I actually have a lot to say, and since I like lists, well, here you go: a list of what I learned from running forty days in a row.

What I Learned from Running Forty Days in a Row

1. I'm a liar.

I began the Run Streak on May 26, Memorial Day. On June 2, after running seven consecutive days and almost nine miles, I needed a break, and I knew it. Same thing on June 8 and June 15. Being notoriously prone to run-related injury, I know the signs of overuse, and for the first time in my life, I heeded them. Instead of running, I did the elliptical (which really is just like running without feet hitting the ground) for 15 minutes and walked a mile+ on the 2nd and 8th; on the 15th, I was in Chicago without access to an elliptical so ellipting (ellipting? ellipticalling? I'm not quite sure how to verb that word) wasn't an option, but I walked about ten miles each day I was there, so I'm pretty sure I was covered. On June 18 I spent over 12 hours in an airport and couldn't do a formal run, but I walked two miles in the morning and sprinted through both Midway and whatever airport is in Detroit, so I got my exercise in that day, too. The point here, people, is no, I didn't exactly "run" every single day of those forty, but I'm calling the Run Streak a success nevertheless. If that makes me a liar, which I guess it kind of does, so be it.

2. My body is my body, and nobody knows it like me.

I read an article in SELF a few months ago called "Think Like an Athlete." An excerpt:

Really feel the burn.

Athletes get comfortable being uncomfortable. They anticipate the pain of a bonkers workout and embrace the fact that it's going to suck at points. Very different from us regular folks who freak out or shut down at any sign of exercise unpleasantness. "A lot of people panic when they experience any discomfort in their bodies," says Epstein. "Elite athletes do the exact opposite—they program themselves not to be rattled. You can see that on pain-threshold tests of elites; they become accustomed to the pain, and even while their bodies are in distress, their minds aren't. You can learn to do that just as you do any other part of training." How? You don't fear the hurt. Instead of backing off when breathlessness takes hold during a sprint, tell yourself, Relax. I know I'm going to be fine. This is not too hard for me, and I can do this. Then take your speed up one notch. Your body already knows it can handle the challenge. You've just got to prove it to your brain.

Kelly again. And a little history:

Yes, I already covered the I'm-injury-prone thing. If you're looking for technical information, in the past eight or nine years since I've been running, I've had, on more than one occasion, shin splints (but who hasn't?), Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and illotibial band syndrome; I've worn a boot on more than one occasion and been scheduled for foot surgery that I went so far as to be prepped for, IV and all, before changing my mind; my feet are also flat, I have arthritis in them, and one of my legs is longer than the other. I'm also not remotely what one would call "thin." In other words, biomechanically speaking, I'm a mess.

I'm also a fool. Despite these issues of mine, I read things, like the above excerpt from SELF, and I believe them. I follow very specific plans laid out by experts, like the SELF Drop 10 that called for running intervals at over 8 mph, and I think of their think-like-an-athlete spiel, and I push myself, and lo and behold, I end up hurt. Then, instead of running even a little, I can't run at all.

This time around, I knew what I could and could not do. I accepted that it wasn't all or nothing (see number 1), and instead of not being able to run anymore midway through the Run Streak, I completed the whole thing.

3. I'm unbalanced.

I see it in the mirror when I run at the gym, and I feel it in my stride. The right side of my body is different from, and does more than, my left (undoubtedly the reason why the list of injuries from above have all occurred on my right side). I try to correct the problem when I run, forcing my right foot to land in the same position as my left and straightening my torso, and I've tried to correct the problem when I'm not running through stretching, strength training, and physical therapy. It seems some things just can't be forced, and the "problem" cannot be fixed. Relying more on one thing than another is something I have to accept--I just have to learn how not to totally upset whatever balance I've achieved.

4. I'm capable of doing more than I believed.

(You may be sensing a theme here.)

Like I said in the beginning, forty days in a row and fifty-five total miles may not seem like a lot to you, but because of my history, I never thought I'd be able to do it (I hate to be repetitive, so I'll just refer you to number 2 for support). By following my plan and nobody else's, I was able to achieve it. Which brings me to number

5. History is not always the best indicator of the future.

When Glenn and I were separated, I once went to a therapist who told me that it was. I could see her reasoning, of course, but it's not the truth. At least it's not mine.

6. When Nike gave us the slogan Just Do It, they weren't fucking around.

So many times, I didn't want to run. My ankle hurt, my hip hurt, I was tired, it was raining, it was hot, I was afraid I'd get lost on the streets of Chicago, a storm was brewing five states away. If I listened to my excuses (the bullshit ones, not the valid ones like impending injury), I'd have failed. Sometimes we just have to tell the voices in our heads to shut the fuck up, or we'll never do what has to be done.

7. Running is a metaphor for absolutely everything.

But that one I already knew.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

(Not) Child in the City

A couple of years ago, North Star, on a sabbatical from work, bought a one way ticket to Europe, packed a bag, boarded a plane by herself, and then spent the next three or more months wandering around from place to place without a plan. I don’t remember all the places she ended up, but I know that, among others, Italy, France, Spain, India, Bali, Nepal and Thailand are on the list.  I also know that on her trip, she had a fabulous time, not just observing different cultures, but interacting with them, too. Like she tends to do, she made friends everywhere she went. Actually, I think friend is probably the wrong word. It might be better to say that while on her trip, North Star became an active participant in other people’s lives.

North Star believes herself to be so capable, she’s often said to me she believes if she were dropped into virtually any situation in any place, she thinks she would be okay. I think the same. Actually, that’s not entirely true. What I actually think is North Star is strong enough, capable enough, outgoing enough, and confident enough not merely to be okay in any situation, but to thrive. 

That’s North Star as I know her.

And then there’s me as I know myself.

If it were me on that trip that North Star took--and that's one astronomical if since jetting to Europe involves getting off of my couch--I would've found a bistro or cafe or whatever restaurants are called in France or Italy or wherever I'd decided to hunker down with things on the menu I could pronounce, parked myself there with a book so I didn't have to make eye contact with a single soul, and spent my days and nights in that same place. I also might have started smoking so I'd have something to do with my hands because gods know nothing makes me feel as conspicuous as having nothing to do with my hands.

While North Star busies herself with jetting across the Atlantic and trekking across Europe and Asia by herself (and did I mention her trip to Kenya? She's also gone to Kenya), I busy myself with pretty much the exact opposite. If Glenn or my sister isn’t with me, whatever I’m thinking of doing probably isn’t going to happen. I think, though I could be wrong by one or two, I’ve maybe done five things by myself in my entire life.  Of course, I’m not talking normal, everyday things like going to the grocery store or the mall or having a meal in a restaurant, I’m talking things that, at least to me, are significant. The list looks like this:

Things (of Significance) Kel Has Done Alone 

1. Drive to and attend a week-long Harlem Renaissance workshop in St. Petersburg
2. Fly to St. Louis to attend and be in Marnie’s wedding and then not only be dateless, but pretty much friendless, alone, and awkward at the reception.
3. Fly to Rhode Island for Erin’s wedding, where I was dateless (but admittedly not friendless, alone, and awkward) at the reception
4.  Drive to and attend The Ramones concert at The Edge in Orlando
5.  Drive to Gainesville and hang out with North Star’s then boyfriend while I looked for an apartment that I never moved into

And, well, yeah. That pretty much sums it up.

So why do I bring this up now? Why the comparisons between North Star and me? What exactly is the what of this conversation?

Next week I’m going to Chicago. And I’m doing it by myself.

Well, not by myself, by myself.

By myself with Griffin and Keifer.

But, really, with a twelve- and a fourteen-year-old who have no idea what to do or where to go, I’m kind of as by myself as I would be if they weren’t there. And I totally don’t mean that in a negative way. I love being with G and K--admittedly usually when I have one of them alone rather than both of them together--and doing things with them will be fun, and I can’t wait to show them Chicago, in Keifer’s case for the first time since he’s old enough to really know what he’s seeing, it’s just a point of not knowing what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it and not having an adult around to help me.

And before anyone points out that I am, in fact, an adult, I’ll acknowledge that, yes, I am, but I’ll also ask—

have you met me?

Or if not met me, have you read me?

Because if you’ve done either of those things, you know I’m an adult only in years.

And now I’m off to the big city, solo.

I'm off to the big city solo for what I'm afraid is going to be six days of sitting around, saying, What do you want to do? I don't know, what do you want to do? 

I'm off to the big city, solo, for what I'm afraid is going to be six days of trying to coordinate rides on the L--which I'm already nervous about figuring out how to buy three week-long passes for--with rides on the bus but failing miserably and never ending up where I want to go.

I'm off to the big city, solo, for what I'm afraid is going to be six days of endless research trying to figure out the best way to consolidate trips but not being able to figure out the best way to consolidate trips and then maybe, possibly, probably, as a result, doing nothing at all.

I'm off to the big city solo for what I'm afraid is going to be six days of wandering around, lost, six days of feeling uncomfortable, six days of not knowing how to dress, six days of not knowing what to do, six days of not knowing where to eat, six days of disaster disaster disaster.

I'm off to the big city solo for what I'm afraid is going to be exactly what I'm afraid of.

***
I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I, Gynecologist...You, Jane

'Cause I'm just a girl, little 'ol me
Don't let me out of your sight
I'm just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don't let me have any rights
                                      No Doubt

I'm not usually one to write "angry posts," but I'm so annoyed right now, I have no choice.

About an hour ago, I called my gynecologist's office to schedule a tubal ligation. Before the receptionist would even grant me an appointment for a consultation, she asked me if they'd delivered a baby for me--the answer is yes, thirteen years ago--and how old I am. She then told me I'd need to schedule an appointment to see the doctor to figure out whether I'm a candidate or not. When I told her that I have two children, am almost forty, and have been married for over sixteen years, she said she couldn't just schedule me for surgery over the phone without coming in to see the doctor, despite the fact that I had my well woman check at their office not even a month ago.

At first I didn't know what was going on. When she first asked me if they'd delivered a baby for me, I didn't see it; when, however, she asked me my age, I realized she was checking to see if I was "tube tie-able." And I was outraged.

Okay. Not scheduling me for surgery (albeit a super minor surgery) without me coming in to see the doctor (remember, despite my having just been in not even a month ago), I could semi-understand. Asking me if they'd delivered a baby for me (which is, I guess, really asking if I've had babies because I can't see them only being willing to perform tubal ligations on people who they've personally delivered children for) and how old I am is, to me, an outrage.

It shouldn't matter if I'm thirty-nine or twenty-nine or even nineteen. If I, as a woman, have decided I don't want (more) children, that should be my choice.

And it shouldn't be questioned.

The nurse doesn't know this, but before I made this phone call, I did a tremendous amount of research. Having been on the pill for the last twelve years constantly and off and on for about ten years between thirteen and twenty-three (for acne, people! Please), I felt it was time to switch birth control methods. Not only am I the worst pill taker in the world, forgetting my pill one, two, even sometimes three days in a row, but the dangers of taking the pill after thirty-five are no joke. Neither is the fact that my insurance stopped paying for my pills, so I had to switch to generic, or the weight I've gained since switching. So after a lot of thought, once I finished my pills last month, I didn't fill my prescription and am now extra hormone--as well as birth control--free.

When I decided to stop taking the pill, I continued the off and on research I'd been doing for years on the IUD. Lots of pros but too many cons convinced me it wasn't the method for me. The NuvaRing and patch both seem to be no picnic, and even skinny people I knew who took Depo-Provera ended up fat.

And that really leaves only one thing, which is how I ended up on the phone with the receptionist who felt she had the right to question the appropriateness of the birth control method I wish to use.

Can I just say, Bitch, whatever birth control method I wish to use is the right one?

In my opinion, that phone call and the subsequent appointment I have coming up aren't much better than the forced "counseling sessions" women have to sit through before being granted an abortion.

And these things are not okay. 

These things are not okay because who has the right to tell a woman what she can or can't do with her own body? Who has the right to tell a woman maybe one day she'll want kids, so for now she should pump her body full of hormones if she doesn't want to get pregnant or just not have sex? Who has the right to assume they know better for a woman than she knows for herself? Who is so self-righteous they think they know what's better for us than we do?

You think I'm going to say men, don't you? Well, I'm not.

What I'm going to say is going to make most of you think I'm extreme and insane, but my answer is everybody. Everybody and everything.

Men, other women, society. It's all built around demeaning and controlling women's lives, from the language to the expectations to the regulations to the stipulations.

And it's fucking disgusting.

Monday, June 2, 2014

It Gets Better?

I've always been
a realist
judgmental
hypercritical. 

Because I've always been this way, I could always kind of blame my fault finding on myself rather than my children. If one of them didn't sing a song to my satisfaction or deliver a line exactly the way I thought it should be delivered when they used to go to the studio, well, it didn't necessarily mean they were bad, it just meant that I had unrealistic expectations and expected perfection. When they got A's and B's on their report cards or below the ninety-ninth percentile on their standardized tests, it didn't necessarily mean they weren't intelligent enough, it just meant they weren't as intelligent as I thought they should be. Until now, the faults I found really did epitomize the statement people make that goes something along the lines of, If someone isn't nice to you, it has everything to do with that someone and nothing to do with you.

Until now, even when I found fault, I could chalk it up to the perfectionism my therapist said probably isn't very easy to live with.

But now that it's now, my perfectionism is a scapegoat no more.

Am I being cryptic? I don't mean to be.

This post is just a hard one to write.

See, Keifer didn't make
the soccer team
a soccer team
the soccer teams he wanted.


Because he's been playing travel for so long and starting for the last two years, playing every second of every game, I guess I took for granted he'd make any team he wanted to play for. I think he did, too.

Obviously, that's not what happened.

The reality is, he tried out for four teams and made two one-and-a-half. (That one-and-a-half is because one is a B team, and I have a feeling everyone who showed up got offered a spot. I could be wrong, but most likely I'm not.)

The reality is,
checking soccer club websites repeatedly
sitting by the phone waiting for soccer clubs to call
made me
way too anxious
sick to my stomach
have to go the bathroom.

The reality is,
seeing that website without his name on it
not getting that phone call
hearing that one of his teammates made one team and two made another
made me teary
made me nauseated
made my heart hurt

made me question

absolutely everything.*

*This post has gone awry. I told you it was a hard one to write. It seems, I see, like I'm sad for myself, for some kind of loss, maybe the loss associated with the idea of Keifer as a soccer player I once had. That, though, is not the case. Any sadness I feel--and let me tell you, I'm feeling a whole lot of sadness--is for Keifer. Any hurting I experience is for him not because of him.

I may be a crazed perfectionist who wants nothing but right angles and straight lines, but what I want even more is for my children to be happy.**

**It wouldn't hurt if I were happy, too.