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My Left Foot

It is said that only two things are certain in this life: taxes and death. I have recently learned that two things are certain in parenting: diapers and injuries. When I speak of injuries, I am of course talking about those endured by the parents.

 

When my daughter was little, I got savvy pretty quickly. As soon as my daughter was given a Barbie, I threw out the shoes and hair brushes as soon as the box was opened. A Barbie shoe to the heel in the middle the night is no laughing matter. And when my son, aka “Dude” came along, I was warned about Lego’s.

I thought I had it all figured out, but then Dude turned 11. As he became more engrossed in television and computers, his grades slipped and he got “mouthy”, for lack of a better word. My husband and I decided he would have to earn time on the computer and we made sure it was very limited time indeed. For a good week at school, he would earn 1/2 hour on the laptop. That left plenty of time for Dude to spend time in outdoor activities and creative play. This included building with Lego’s and creating with all manner of boy-type toys. And because Dude likes to take things apart, whether it be by chopping, dicing, snapping, peeling, unscrewing or shredding there was a certain amount of deconstruction going on around the house. Enter parental injury.

I should have known something was up when I couldn’t find my colored toothpicks. However, I had company at the time and didn’t think much more about it. But then the following Sunday night, a portion of snapped toothpick found the space between the big toe and 2nd toe on my left foot as I crept out of Sleeping Dudie’s darkened room.

No amount of tweezing, digging with needles, or soaking would get that toothpick out. After hobbling around and trying to tough it out, my hips started to hurt from walking all wonky, and on Wednesday I gave in and called my doctor. I figured anything would be better than continuing to limp around like I had been. I was wrong.

After I was examined, I was given two options by the doctor, neither of which sounded good. However, I was ready to be done. So I chose the option that involved numbing my foot and digging around to make sure they got deep enough to get the toothpick removed. Even though I was nervous, I knew I would feel better afterward and I have come to find out that the feeling better afterward part was true.

In hindsight, if I am ever again offered a shot in the foot to numb it or to be shot dead where I stand, I would choose the latter without hesitation.

When the needle first went in, I thought, “that wasn’t so bad…” but she was only getting started. I drew in a deep breath to help me endure the few seconds of discomfort I knew was coming, and then the pain really hit. I let a keening wail out into the muffling cover of my arms until I ran out of air, sucked in another ragged breath, and screamed some more. When the needle was finally withdrawn, I had settled to a simper like that of a puppy locked out on a cold wet day and a tooth jarring tremor.

I won’t bore you with additional details except to say that after about 30 or 40 minutes of searching, the doctor and nurse managed to find and pull several shards of wood from my left foot.

Two days out, I am feeling better but wondering to myself, “Was it worth it?” Having never been shot dead where I stand, there’s little ability to make that call.

Death. Taxes. Diapers. Injury.

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Getting to NO you

I have a very dear friend, whom I’ll call “Suzette” (because that is her name, after all) who gave me much to think about recently. Since I haven’t pontificated in a long time, I figured this was a good tangent to go on.

Suzette was having a bit of a bad time when she came to visit a couple of weeks ago. Without going into the details, she said she came to see me because she knew I wouldn’t “hand her a line” about her concerns and that I would cut straight to it, so to speak, and give her the truth. Who knew? I’m apparently an honest person despite all my years of practicing to be the penultimate sniveling, conniving weasel. (Ask my siblings — they will confirm the characterization). I credit my husband with delivering the proper relationship training, but that is for another blog.

During our visit, my delightful “Sister Suze” at one point said, “Well, when someone asks you to do something for them, you should never say ‘No’: you just DO IT.”

I guffawed. (Hey, I’m honest — I never claimed to have developed any tact.)

“Since WHEN?,” I nearly shouted, “who told you THAT?” Suzette paused. “I don’t know,” she said, “it’s just something I believe — that you’re never supposed to tell anyone ‘No’.”

Although the words flew out of my mouth before I was aware they were leaving my lips, I knew once they were out, that my friend and I had vastly different belief systems and that my beliefs were relatively new to me. I had, much like Suzette, been raised to put others first, be respectful and above all, to do what I was told. There is merit to such an upbringing, but I think something got lost in translation or the carry-over to adulthood became twisted. Suzette and I discussed the matter further after I apologized for my outburst. She and I came to the understanding about something she read in her daily devotional earlier that day. She read what I now call The Great Unsaid. The Great Unsaid is the fact that that we have every right and are even obliged to say no, when what is being asked of us is detrimental to our own physical and emotional well being. It’s not that we should turn down every request for help or favors, but sometimes enough is too much. We forget that — or rather, no one ever said it to us in the first place.

Today’s middle-aged American women were conditioned by the past generation in a most contradictory way. Although we came of age during or shortly after the Feminine Revolution when women began entering the professional workforce, it was a time when women were not necessarily to have it all, but rather to DO it all. This was best embodied in a smarmy and annoyingly catchy perfume commercial jingle from the 1970‘s that went, “I can bring home the bacon…fry it up in a pan…and never never never never let you forget YOURE the MAN…‘cause I’m a woooooman: Enjoli.”

WHAT THE HELL KIND OF MESSAGE IS THAT? Okay, go into the workforce if ya wanna, woman, but don’t forget to have my dinner on the table when I get home!

No wonder Suzette thinks she’s never supposed to say no. Hopefully, I can disavow her (and you, reader) of that notion.

I propose that we learn to and practice saying no from time to time. Here are some guidelines to consider, should you decide take up the cause:

Say NO when there is simply not enough time to take care of everything you have already planned for your day/week/month. (Note: author is completely guilty of over-packing her schedule like a piece of luggage after a Disney vacation)
Say NO when you are already exhausted and truly need to rest
Say NO when your financial means dictate that you can’t afford to buy another roll of wrapping paper, set of costume jewelry, or cookware
Say NO to “takers.” We all have takers in our lives. You know who they are. Not only can you say no to them, you should change your number and address if necessary to avoid being drained by them like a sink full of dirty dish water.

I also propose we remember to say YES, too, but to keep some perspective in mind:

Say YES out of love and genuine kindness instead of obligation
Say YES to help build or strengthen relationships you WANT to build and strengthen
Say YES when the request is in line with your moral, religious and ethical beliefs
Say YES when there is emotional benefit for you as well as the person you are assisting
Say YES because you WANT to and you have the time, energy and means to help.

Okay everyone, got it? Good. There will be a test!

You said what?…no test? What do you mean, “NO”?

Good, you’re catching on!

More to come

Things have settled down. Long time no post, but that will be amended this week. Sorry to starve you , fan, but I’ve been working with my co-editors and the publisher of moonShine review to get the next journal out. Now that I’ve read so much great work, I feel inspired to put out more of my own.

So, thanks for reading and I’ll be back with you shortly.

Back to Bliss

It has been many a year since I have been where I was tonight.  As noted in my last post, my husband and I bought a Miata last week.  We’ve been out and about in it a few times, but tonight, we drove to Kannapolis to a lovely little wine shop that serves a magnificent dinner.  Wish I could remember the name; however, I know where it is, so I’ll just keep going back until it sticks in my mind.

Tonight, where I “was” (that place to which I have not been) was a state of mind.  It wasn’t quite as powerful as the BBQ chicken memory that booted me back to my childhood in NY.  It was, however, to a place of complete and utter peace.  A place where nothing existed for me but the moment:  the wind in my ears, overridden only slightly by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the radio, and a desire to be no other place…ever.  In my ignorance of Eastern religion, I referred to it as “Zen.”

Given that I have no interest in pursuing Eastern philosophy beyond mild curiosity and a politely cocked ear at a cocktail party, I can only speak for what I experienced.  Tonight, it was the magic that occurred with the top down on the convertible, riding through a perfect summer evening after a delightful meal with someone I really, really like.

The last time I was in that place, I was about 17 years old and on a date with the absolutely wrong guy.  Dull as the evening was, I still liked the fellow, but I really loved his MGB convertible.  Riding through the country with him, looking up at the stars that evening, was my first ever ride in a convertible and I absolutely adored it.  Even though it took me about half an hour to get a brush through my long red hair, it was worth it.  Such a feeling of freedom and abandon — such a sense of well being!

Life should ALWAYS be that good!  And so it was when I took another ride in that lovely little car of ours.  Although it was so low to the ground it seemed akin to riding in a motorized skate, I adjusted quickly.  I can’t wait for another tip in “The Zen Machine” to get back to Bliss.  Back to  the wisdom of realizing that stress is not worth hanging onto and it is easily blown away by a warm summer wind on an enchanting ride into town.

Late night

Just back from making offer on a Miata (not new, just new to us). Husband reaching middle age, needs toy to go with new ponytail.

Additional info to come as time permits. For now, see below. As posted on Facebook, I’ve written a haiku as a nod to my friend, writer Gary Powell:

Bought a Miata
Top down, summer here we come!
Middle age sure rocks!

New Work At Last!

I would like to thank the Winery Writers for their support and feedback during our winter retreat.  Yes, I said WINTER retreat and I’m just now posting this.  However, school is ending, and all the extra-curricular stuff that equates to “mom’s too dang busy to see straight,” is over.  (I nod here to writer and mother of three small boys, Julie Ann Cook, who is busy enough to make me look like I’m standing  still and is probably guffawing over my claims of “busy-ness”).   Thus, I am finally able to attend to some much overdue mental spring cleaning. 

For those of you familiar with a not-too-distant-but-not-exactly-recent-past blog called A Chance to Heal, regarding a facebook frenemy, I have good news:  I got some good writing out of it.  So, the piece below is due in large part to the Winery Writers who edited the first draft and to and moonShine Musings readers who encouraged me.  Here for you, fan, is an untitled work about  the emotional crap that tries rise up and bite us and how awesome it feels when we conquer it.   I’ll take votes and suggestions for possible titles until I plagiarize something brilliant.

I opened the can of worms easily and they spilled out eagerly, all over my kitchen counter — there were thousands of them: greedy, grimy, seedy, slimy, writhing bits of pain, hatred, resentment and bitterness.

I could not catch them.  They were quick like water moccasins riding the current of a rain swelled stream.  I feared the worms would regroup, grow in size and intensity and return to eat me alive.

I thought hard; hearkened back to the time when I began collecting them and cramming them into the close, dark spaces where my secrets were kept.  I had scooped them in heaping handfuls, instead of poking holes in a tinfoil lid for them to breathe, or possibly escape in the night as I had done for my scant cadre of firefly joys.  The worms were sealed in tight and buried deep to putrefy, but to my surprise they strengthened.  Despite the danger, I allowed them to remain, and unintentionally unearthed them at the most inconvenient times.

And so again, the wretched creatures, loosed now like so many tiny serpents, skulked around the maze of my memories and grew in intensity.  I resolved to slay them and they heard the challenge, turned from their mercenary game and began slinking back in my direction.  They eyed me, maws agape.   Sweating, I pointed at their leader, Pain, and called it forcefully by name .  Accused, Pain halted its advance, and froze in place like an incomplete question mark.  Defeated, it shrunk back down to size and beat a mournful retreat.

The rest lay there mutely, suspended in their attack.  I took advantage of the stunned silence, and named each worm in rapid succession:  Anxiety! Resentment! Envy! and so on until one by one, they were called out and rendered powerless.

The formal retreat commenced.  As the last of the worms inched up and over the top of the can where it once lurked, it attempted to pull the lid on behind it.  I considered hammering the lid down hard, taking the missile out back and chucking it into the abyss, never to unearth it again.

Instead, I tossed the lid, dumped the the contents out into the blistering light of day, where, exposed to reason and resolve, the bastards baked, and were eventually crushed under my carefree summer sandal.

Thank you, Mr. Obama

Thank you, THANK You, THANK YOU for three things:
1. For shutting up Donald Trump for one brief moment by producing a valid United States birth certificate,
2. For shutting up Donald Trump for a slightly longer period of time with the successful mission that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden, and
3. For NOT unnecessarily publishing gruesome pictures of a dead terrorist to satisfy the same type of idiots that demanded proof of your American birth.

By not publishing these pictures, you have spared those of us who do not care to see the pictures from the constant barrage of the same gory images looped 24 hours straight by CNN, MSNBC and Fox. Just like those abortion protesters that believe holding up those vile photographs by the highway will actually change public opinion rather than horrify the driving public, the publication of a dead Osama would not satisfy those who would claim the pictures were photo-shopped.

You have spared us the media circus and have likely evaded additional rage and retailiation by Bin Laden followers, and I am grateful.

Hopefully Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan will do something stupid soon and we can expand our news horizons once again to the vapid and disreputable crap we’re used to being fed.