my living proof
like the missing words to some prayer that I could never make
lights up every room
the whole wide world
Bruce Springsteen lyrics in italics: Living Proof
I had an especially shitty night the other night – nothing worth commenting on here, just an unfortunate episode in the shitshow called LIFE, but I most certainly will take this opportunity to comment on my almost 21 year old daughter rolling in off the streets at 2am for the second night in a row and deciding it was the perfect time to do her laundry because she didn’t have any clean clothes to wear to work in the morning, causing me to ask if she’d been drinking because if not, surely she’d lost her mind – and consequently, I was wide awake until way too fucking late.
By last night, I was less shitty, more salty and exhausted, but I continued to be the delightful host to my family I always am. After I worked for a few hours and we fetched the kids from day camp, I cooked dinner for almost ALL OF THE PEOPLE again. I’m not in any manner complaining, because extended extended family time is the best. Smiley face. Heart. I mean it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not complicated.
Anyway, before we sat down to eat, my sister and I wrestled for the last IPA and finally settled on sharing it. Sorry, but half an IPA is not sufficient for these days, not at all. I lowered myself and opened the only thing left in the beverage center, a bottle of Rolling Rock. I took one sip and said, “here, Dad, I opened a beer for you”. Piss water. Unacceptable. Rolling Rock, you’ve been chopped.
Shortly thereafter, my other sister called to inquire about dinner plans for tonite, which will be provided at my house, again, and she asked what she could bring. I told her the price for admission to the NUT HOUSE will be an IPA with an alcohol content of at least 7-8% because I don’t have time to go to back out to the store, again.
Earlier in the day, we’d been at a local grocery store when the young woman at the cash register asked my 45 yr old sister if she was a senior. As in, “do you qualify for our senior discount, ma’am?”
I’m a horrible person so of course I laughed, mainly because it wasn’t happening to me this time. Plus, it was absolutely ridiculous. Have you seen my youngest sister? She still looks like she’s 12 years old. After the fact, I realized it was probably some sort of twisted misplaced karma for that time the cardiac nurse in Atlanta asked me if I was this same sister’s mother. If you want to know how to kick a woman when she’s already down, that’s it. Not cool.
With all that’s going on in this foul and confused world, I’m not sure why I have to provide instruction on this topic, but apparently I do, and I’m going to do it free of charge.
So listen, do not ask me if I want a senior discount. Do not ask my sisters or my girlfriends if they want senior discounts. Do not ask a half dead shriveled up woman with a walker and a big ass hearing aid if she wants a senior discount.
Just DO NOT do it.
There exists no senior discount that is worth being asked that question. If I’m a senior and I want my fucking senior discount, I’ll ask for it. It could be that I am indeed a senior and I do not want to exchange the factual status of my chronological age for a savings of $1.99 or whateverthehell, in which case, you are to STFU. Or it could be that I most certainly am NOT a senior and you need to STFU. I might be 54 and look like I’m 65 because of the aforementioned shitshow called LIFE. Or a bad hair cut . I might be 54 and not look a day over 50, but you’re 18 and we all look half dead to you. Either way. STFU. Oh, and one last thing, this does NOT give you creative license to apply a senior discount without asking me because I sure as hell do not want to get out to the parking lot, check my receipt before shoving it into my purse, and find the words SENIOR DISCOUNT next to my adjusted total. You might as well shank me in the neck. Do NOT do it. Got it?
What do you call a concoction of comforting familiarity, gut-splitting hilarity, multi-generational trauma, guilt, shame, along with the associated anxiety, depression, and self-medication, blahblahfuckingblah, and a healthy portion of OMFG get me the hell out of here, STAT?
My family. My entire extended family under one roof. My roof. All together. At the same time. For all the days since late last week. Except my BIL, the one who dropped dead in March.
I bet you think I’m going to launch into a free associating, twisting, turning post about our collective misadventures and triumphs. You’d be wrong. I may or may not be working on it, but the truth is even if I’m working on it, and I’m not saying I am, I might never have the skin tags to post it. So, for now, let me leave you with this photo essay – during which I may or may not have pissed myself laughing, TWICE – entitled, Three Sisters, A Mother, And A Selfie Stick:
And in closing, let us pray for the next generation….they’re having a great time together, btw, and that’s everything….
It was 12:15 am and my 11 year old was still awake. He came into our room, crawled into our bed, and wanted to talk about why he couldn’t sleep. He wasn’t upset, he just couldn’t turn off his mind. The content up in there, wow, it’s VIVID. Anyway, Husband grunted and rolled out. The man needs at least 7 hours of sleep or he turns into a toddler. Not good.
Me? Sometimes I feel like I’m Boy’s service animal. And my feelings about that are complicated. Shocker. What’s not complicated, though, is that this child is the JOY of my life.
I gave Boy a few minutes to summarize the ideas and anticipations flying around in his head, then I held his hand and modeled the relaxation breathing he’s still learning to help slow down his wide awake thoughts. I reminded him to try to think about just one thing – one concrete, joyful thing – as he breathed. I know so well that goddamn wide awake mind experience, and even though I desperately needed my own day to be over, I just can’t turn my back on this kid when nighttime is hard. It didn’t take long. Soon I felt the rhythm of his breath move to calm, predictable, deep, and I detected a couple of those little boy twitches he still gets when he’s falling asleep. I kissed his forehead and smelled his freshly washed hair, brushed it over to the side with my fingers, stroked his cheek. There’s nothing as beautiful as a sleeping child. Sacred.
And then I was wide awake myself until 3am, way up in my own wild mind. There’s not enough relaxation breathing in the whole wide world to knock me out on nights like this one, especially when I’ve been near sleep and then awake again, as I often am, but still, I try. It’s not always Boy, not at all, it’s also menopause and a thing I affectionately refer to these days as my mental load. It takes a toll sometimes. Maybe that’s why the cardiac nurse in Atlanta thought I was my 45 year old sister’s mother. Her MOTHER! Oy. That one still hurts, but I’m trying to laugh it off – along with so many other things – so I don’t crawl into a hole and never, ever come out.
Remember this post? The one in which I said he always comes back, just when I need him?
Yeah, well, HE IS. And I DO.
I cannot freaking believe he’s going to do this, but I am so excited and nauseous to have it to look forward to. It hasn’t yet been officially confirmed by Bruce’s people, but it’s being reported by many different news outlets, and most importantly, no one is denying it. Nils Lofgren even tweeted about it, and that’s good enough for me. It’s happening.
Until then, I’m strategically lining up other shows to attend, most of them Springsteen related, some of them on the Jersey shore.
It’s time to hit the road again because SUCK IT, depression.
This is something my therapist calls radical self-care. I’m down with that.
The main purpose of my last quick trip to Atlanta was to support my sister as her kids underwent their first baseline cardiac screening. Since my BIL’s death in late March, we’ve learned he died due to complications of a rare genetic cardiac arrhythmia called ARVC. You know those news stories about athletes suddenly dropping dead during practice? Yeah, that.
We researched and found the gold standard ARVC clinic at Johns Hopkins which then referred us to a satellite pediatric clinic in Atlanta. After weeks of prep work by my sister and the genetics counselor, the kids were tested on the same day, same time, different rooms. We each took a kid and stayed with them during the various tests they had to have, after all they’ve already endured goddammit, and we comforted them, we hoped. Witnessed.
We met with the cardiologist at the end of the day and both kids tested perfectly normal, no restrictions. Relief all around. We’re still waiting for the genetics testing to come back. Those results will dictate the ongoing screening schedule.
The most important thing about ARVC is if you know you have it, you don’t die. But you have to know. So we’re going to know. Or we’re going to act as if we know. The kids will be followed carefully.
When the appointment was over, my sister and I didn’t know exactly what to do. We hugged her kids and each other, and we looked at each other as if to say, ok, that’s done, check. Now what? So we went to the mall and then to the diner for a cheeseburger.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
On another note, while we were all together in the intake room, before the physical exams, my sister busy answering the nurse’s many questions, there was an awkward, long pause at one point followed by the nurse asking me if I was my sister’s mother. Her Mother! What in the actual fuck? Even if it was an innocently misplaced guess based on the situation, who says that out loud? Unless it’s CLEAR. Apparently she did say it out loud, and apparently it was clear to her. If my sister hadn’t been there, I might have thought I was having an intrusive, stress-induced, self-loathing thought because, well, you know. But, no, we both heard it. We shook our heads no, no, NOPE, I’m her older sister by 9 years, NOT her mother. Jesus, lady, way to go. Shank me in the neck when I’m already down.
That sucked. But come on, get over it because it’s not anywhere near as bad as having your father suddenly drop dead and then finding out you might have inherited his undiagnosed cardiac disease. Or being the mother of those kids worrying herself sick, their whole world on her shoulders. So I let that shit go. Temporarily.
I left my sister and her kids in a better place, with information that freed them up a little bit, at least emotionally. They needed it desperately.
I flew home and promptly got as sick as a dog with some kind of upper respiratory virus, flu, I don’t know, and with a little stomach thing on the side, because I don’t do anything half-assed. It was awful. Nothing like being sick in bed for a few days when you’re already depressed to make you feel OLD. Old enough to be the mother of a 45 year old.
You know what I did on my first day back among allllllllll the people? I soaked in the tub and colored my hair for the first time in a year. Because I felt like it. Preference by L’Oréal, medium golden brown-5G.
It was SOMETHING I could DO.