Sunday, June 21, 2009

Funeral Plans

I've been meaning to post this for awhile.  Since the age of about 10, I've been planning my funeral.  Obviously the details have changed from time to time (I no longer wish to hear Boys II Men played upon my death), but the general idea has stayed the same.  Maybe this is morbid.  But I'm a planner.  So it would only make sense that I would plan my own funeral arrangements, right?


I don’t want to be buried in a dress.  In fact, I’m not sure I want to be buried at all.  Actually, I don’t care.  Do whatever with me.  (But if I’m buried, don’t do it in a dress.  I want to be buried in Calvin Klein jeans.  I look good in those.  Or did, anyway.)

But I do want one hell of a funeral.  A big, sappy flowery funeral.  Spend a chunk of my life insurance money sending me out in style, please.  It should be known that I DO NOT want an open casket.  I do not want people standing over me discussing how blue and puffy I look.  More importantly, I do not want people taking pictures of my dead body (a practice common in my family).  No, leave the casket closed.  And on top I want a big picture of my once beautiful self.  In fact, I have the picture picked out already.  It was taken several years ago and hanging in the hallway.  I don’t give a damn if I don’t die until I’m 85 years old, use that picture.  I was happy and full of life and it represents one of the happiest moments of my life (it was taken at Boykin Springs when Chris and I first started dating).

I want no fill-in-the-blank preachers speaking at my funeral.  I don’t want someone saving souls.  Save souls on your own time.  This is MY time.  My last time, in fact.  I’d like for someone to step up and give me a proper eulogy.  And by proper, I mean real.  None of this “she was a kind and beautiful soul” crap.  I mean, hopefully by the time I die I will have attained that worthy description, but no doubt I will still be “me”.  Feisty, outspoken, and opinionated.  And all up in everyone’s business.  Mention that.  Throw in the W.H. Auden poem as well.  Play an incredibly sappy song (might I suggest Ray LaMontagne’s “A Falling Through”?)  Work everyone into a good cry.  Then, end the funeral with a good smudging.  No matter what form you decide to leave me in, I’d like one last good smudging before I go.

From there, I’d like a wake.  Actually, I'd really like a Nine-Night.  But with everyone's busy schedules, I feel a little bad asking for that much of everyone's time.  So I'll take a wake.  With BBQ and liquor.  Throw in a keg.  From this point forward, be happy.  Laugh, joke, hug, kiss, tell good stories, have sex* and appreciate the fact that you are not dead.  Too many people use death as an excuse to end their own lives.  I hate excuses and I hate victims.  Using me as an excuse to be a victim is the grandest way to disrespect my memory.  Don’t mourn me for too long because I am quite confident I am enjoying my dead self.  When I was a small child, I asked my grandmother what happened when we died.  Her response was that we go to Heaven and God answers all of the questions we’d ever had.  I am dying (literally by this time) to find out what the deal is with UFO’s, who shot JFK and whether or not Elvis, Tupac and Jim Morrison really died when they say they did.  That’s just the beginning of my book of questions.  God’s gonna be busy for awhile. 

Speaking of the weird, I’m going to make a Houdini claim as well.  If I can come back, I will.  I’ll try not to scare the hell out of anyone in the process.  But if I can hang around spying on people, you better know I’m going to do it.  If I accidently knock over a glass in the process, I’m sorry.  Didn’t mean to scare ya, it’s just the downside to being a ghost.  Otherwise, I’ll try to check in periodically.  If you randomly smell Clinique Happy, you’ll know I was there.  I’ll play songs on the radio when I get a chance.  All that general dead-people-checking-in business, I’ll try to do.

In regards to my "stuff", chances are I won't have much worth keeping.  For the love of simplicity, do not become a hoarder in my honor.  There isn't much stuff in my life that I'm attached to.  A small amount of jewelry (left to Izzy, of course), some antique furniture (passed down through the family), and by that time, hopefully a pretty nice car.  The rest should go to charity or be "auctioned off" amongst friends and family.  Izzy's going to be an only child, so I guess there won't be anyone to fight with over my things (a HUGE plus to NOT having any more children).   But so help me, if people start fighting over my things and/or money, I promise I will come back and haunt you.  And not in a cute way.

As for Chris (who I’ll hopefully still be married to at the time of my departure), be supportive of him.  Feed him for a while, maybe wash a few loads of clothes (he’s not used to doing it himself) and help with his general well-being.  I’ve already expressed my desire that he be a widow for a year.  After that, get on with it.  Men generally have an easier time moving on, so don’t be angry when he brings home another woman.  Granted, she won’t be me.  No way will she ever measure up (I’m a tough act to follow).  But as long as she has his (and Izzy’s!) best interests in mind, cut her some slack.  However, if she’s a pain in the ass, I do expect one of my lady friends to have a talk with him.  I won’t be here to communicate his ignorance, so I expect one of my ladies to do it in my absence.  In the event he doesn't move on after a year, sign him up for an internet dating service.  He's a fan of that sort of thing...

Last, but most definitely not least, Izzy.  This is where I really expect the most from my friends.  No matter what her age (hopefully she’ll be an old lady herself), I feel like she’ll need to retain some kind of connection with my friends.  My friends will be most able to speak in my absence.  My friends know best what I would say or do in any given situation.  My friends know better than anyone (besides Chris) my absolute love for her.  And no doubt that will need to be expressed on a regular basis for a while.  As time goes by, she’ll surely adjust (for goodness sake, don’t let her pine over me and become a victim!)  It will be important for my friends to stand in my place during those important or difficult life moments.  I’m an only child, so she’ll have no other support from my side.  So I pass that responsibility to my friends.  It’s a big job, but know that I would do the same for you.  Were I still alive, of course…

Undoubtedly, you think I’ve gone off the deep end with this entry.  But I’ve been around long enough to know that death can really fuck people up.  People don’t do or act like they should.  And in my typical manner, I’m trying to micro-manage a situation that I obviously won’t be here for, yet has everything to do with me, so I want to make sure it’s done right.  Call me crazy, but it’s important and I wanted to make sure I had it in writing for others to pull up in the event that things get crazy.  I don’t want to have to “roll over in my grave” if I don’t need to.  Just saying…


*  It has been discussed in a few of my social circles the need to have sex after a tragic funeral.  In most cases, people share how guilty they felt by that need.  Personally, I think it’s the purest form of connection and appreciation for life, which is why we are often struck with that need.  Go for it! I say.  Orgasm it up in my honor!

Friday, June 19, 2009

peeing on a stick for the LAST time

I woke up this morning convinced I was pregnant.  At some point upon awakening, I realized I was 5 days late.  And absolutely terrified.  During the recent trip to Baytown I had decided definitively that I did not want another child.   Chris had been pretty resolute on the subject, but I was still on the fence.  I kept feeling like we should have another child “just in case”.  Just in case something happened to Izzy, we needed an extra kidney, she became a crackhead, Republican or left home at 18 to become an actress in L.A.  Chris did not feel like this was reasonable cause to bring another human into this world, and after a week spent with 4 children, I came to agree with him.  So when I awoke with the knowledge that I was absolutely pregnant, I became a mess.

Suddenly all signs pointed to pregnancy (any woman who’s experienced this fear knows exactly where I’m coming from).  My overeating.  My crankiness.  The horrible luck we’ve had since June 1st.  Of course I was pregnant.  Of fricken course.  I started thinking of my options.  As my mother has told me since the ripe age of 13, I had 3 options.  1.) Give birth and love that “bundle of joy”, while watching your dreams become even harder to attain; 2.)  Give that “bundle of joy” up for adoption and always wonder what happened; or 3.)  Kill that “bundle of joy” (those were never my mom’s exact words, she’s pro-choice afterall, but option 3 always resulted in a far longer explanation than I’m willing to go into at this time.) 

The first option was the most acceptable, of course, but also the most terrifying (especially since I realized if we couldn’t afford a pregnancy test, we probably couldn’t afford a pregnancy).  I immediately decided that I couldn’t give my child up.  After 9 months of dealing with it, you do become somewhat attached.  That left abortion.  I’m a supporter and all, but I’m also a 33 year-old married woman, not doing that bad in life.  It seemed a bit irresponsible.  I mean, it’s not like I have any life goals I’m trying to achieve that a child would keep me from.  Besides Europe.  And of course, that’s the first thing I thought when I realized I was pregnant.  “There goes my damn trip to Europe.  Again.  Mother fucker…”

So I worried and I stressed all day.  I’d go back and forth thinking, “no way I can have this child, I need to get to Europe before the Earth is destroyed in 2012.”  And then Izzy would be all cute and kissy and I’d think, “how in the world could I NOT bring another beautiful, genius child into the world.  We have great genes, obviously.”  I was on this ledge when Chris got home from work.

Now here was my original plan:  Father’s Day is on Sunday.  We’re broke and I thought this pregnancy scare would totally solve the gift problem.  I’d take a pregnancy test, and no matter what the outcome, I’d gift it to Chris.  “Surprise!!” Either way, right?  But we are too close and that always ruins surprises between us.  He was home for a total of 5 minutes before I blurted out, “I’m 5 days late.”  And within 7 minutes he was out the door on the way to Walgreens.  He was home 10 minutes later with a pregnancy test (I have an extra if anyone should need one…) 

While peeing on a stick I made several deals with God.  1.) If I’m not pregnant, I’ll become a better mother.  I’ll try harder.  I’ll control my frustrations better.  2.) If I’m not pregnant, I will immediately make an appointment for Chris to take care of this problem, once and for all.  (He’s a good guy like that.);  and 3.)  If I’m not pregnant, I will go to Europe next year come hell or high water.  I realized my deal with God was rather selfish, and I didn’t really offer Her much out of the deal, but I’m past the point of trying to pull things over on Her.

I immediately saw that the test was going to go in my favor (it rarely takes the full 2 minutes).  But because I’m not the nicest person in the world, I decided to let Chris sit on it for a little longer.  It was probably 8 or 9 minutes before I let him in on it.  I thought during that time we might have some serious talk on “what if’s”, but he seemed pretty unphased by the whole thing, so I let it go.  When met with the news of the test, I believe his words were “okay.”  (As if we didn’t already know he’s a man of few words.)

As it turns out, I’m not pregnant and I will be calling a doctor for Chris tomorrow (today as most read this).  I am relieved in a way that only a woman truly knows.  Europe is still on the books for next year and Izzy has the opportunity to grow up as a spoiled only child.  Life is good, hopefully our luck has turned and there’s going to be one less Dawson in the world (for which I’m sure many will be grateful.)  And seriously, if anyone needs a pregnancy test, tell them to call me.  Because I guarantee I will not be peeing on a stick again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

opting out

I'm going to opt out of the last couple of days of 30 Days of Write because I completely suck at poetry.  I think, I try, I suck.  And I just can't pretend otherwise.

So instead I'm going to paste the most awesome Missed Connection I've ever read.  I want to meet and know the guy that wrote this, but alas, I'm a mother and housewife and I think it's safe to say I'm the exact opposite of what he's looking for.  Still, props to him for putting it out there so eloquently...

The obviously intoxicated girl in class this morning - m4w - 23

Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]
Date: 2009-06-17, 10:32PM CDT

You stumbled into the classroom this morning, the sunlight in the doorway wreathing you like an angel that had been shooting tequila for eight hours. 

I could only watch breathless as you seductively managed to lurch into your seat without falling down (barely). Your eyes sparkled like diamonds as you visibly tried not to vomit, and your heavenly aroma wafted over, conjuring images of a brewery on fire in my mind. 

I was inspired by your rampant substance abuse, and I longed to be the one holding your hair back as your system rejected the poison you'd cheerfully imbibed. I wished I could have seen the shot glasses touch your luscious lips as you lost count of how many drinks you'd had at 5:30 AM. 

My only regret was that fate had cruelly separated me from the bad decisions you made the night before. Please email me so that I too can know the joy of your company, and the excitement of alcohol poisoning at 8:30 on a Wednesday morning. 

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Monday, June 15, 2009

30DoW - Home Sweet Home

you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone
on the deck watching my plants grow
essential oils burning
not answering the phone
sleeping on my couch
rocking in chair
good friends

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I was so excited thinking I'd finally coined a term of my own, but after Googling "hellcation" it seems I'm not the first person whose vacation has gone completely to shit.

Before I go into Phase II of our Hellcation, here's a little side story.  For a long while I've been forgetting to mention my 4th fear when the topic comes up.  Zombies, cockroaches, going crazy and having car problems.  Whenever a car ceases to function properly, I immediately fear it is going to blow up.  This fear goes wayyy back to when I was a small child.  Throughout my childhood I made dozens of trips to East Texas with my grandparents.  8 out of 10 times we'd take the back roads and 8 out of 10 times we'd have car problems that always resulted in someone having to drive out to the middle of nowhere to pick us up.  When I got old enough to make the trip on my own, I always knew to never take the "jinxed route".  One of those times, I was about 8 or 9 I believe, we were coming home and the van caught on fire.  I have no idea what the problem was, I just remember my grandmother telling me to run in case the van exploded.  So to this day, everytime I experience car problems I want to run away to avoid explosion.  This is difficult, as often times during "car problems" you need someone to start the car while the other person is under the hood.  I can only be that person if there is absolutely no one else around (including strangers).

So moving on.  Chris and I left on Friday for East Texas.  When planning our trip the "jinxed route" briefly crossed my mind, but only for a moment.  As we were driving out of Dayton we passed a spot where my grandmother and I had broken down long ago.  I started to say something, then quickly changed my mind.  Chris prodded me and I said "I'll tell you later.  But let it go for now", as I didn't want to "jinx" us.  We drove for about an hour and a half through sheer nothingness (we couldn't even find a Dairy Queen) and I kept thinking "this would be a sucky place to break down."  Then suddenly, we lost power.  Our gauges died, our radio died, our a/c died.  I panicked, Chris called our mechanic and we rolled into a Walmart as our car died a slow death.  Luckily, our car died in Woodville, the most populated place we'd been through since leaving Baytown.  Luckily, we made it to a Walmart.  Luckily, my dad and cousin were only 45 minutes from us.  Luckily, my dad knows cars.  Luckily, we were not stranded out in the heat with our heat-sensitive toddler.  But still I freaked.  Still I cried.  Still I cursed family tradition and that f'n "jinxed route".

My dad arrived 45 minutes later, bought us a battery and assured us we could make it to the ranch.  I drove his truck with all the kids while he and Chris drove the car with no a/c (poor Chris had a serious sunburn and was miserable).  Luckily we made it to the house.  We turned off the car and let it sit for awhile.  Then it started right back up.  No problems.  Dad said to repeat what we had done when the car started to die, so I plugged in my iPhone and the car immediately died.  After my father and his friend finished with the iPhone jokes, it was decided the alternator was dead.  We luckily found a mechanic who would replace it on a Saturday (while my father reminded me that if I "drove a truck he could do it and save some money") and shelled out $380 of money we did not have to fix the car.  Hardcore suck.

We were lucky in many ways.  I say that as a general optimist.  But as a hardcore realist, this was the worst "vacation" I've ever had in my life.  It cost money it wasn't supposed to cost.  It was full of strife and frustration.  It was hot.  It was cramped.  It was crowded.  It was the anti-vacation, ie: a hellcation.  If I never go east again, not a soul could blame me.

Friday, June 12, 2009

going dark

I won't have much to say for the next few days.  We are leaving for the second jaunt of our trip and headed to the ranch in East Texas.  Call me a pessimist, but I don't have much hope of this trip improving during this half.  Izzy is still reacting to whatever-the-hell she has (it's actually contact dermatitis that warranted a trip to the ER), and though she is better, I'd rather be putting in her a bubble as opposed to a mice-infested ranch.  But whatever.  In addition, I will be spending time with family that I haven't seen in over 7 years and that makes me nervous. But at least it's new family.  Different family.  Family that I will be able to take a break from at the end of the day.  (Have I mentioned that I am over family?)

But just for fun, let's make a tally of this vacation's events:

- Witness a relationship meltdown - check
- Trip to the ER - check
- Heat exhaustion at the zoo - check
- Waste 2 hours of my life watching Lost in Space - check
- Break a lamp and secretly glue it back together  - check
- Dislodge a crown by chewing on a gummy orange slice - check
- Go 10 days without watching TV - check
- Go 10 days without putting on makeup - check
- Teach Izzy to swim - check
- Run from not one, but TWO cockroaches - check
- Develop an addiction to Xanax - check
- Fall in love with my husband all over again - check
- Gain weight due to an excess of fast food - check check

My 30 Days of Write has been downright depressing so far.  I swear I'm not usually this much of a mess.  I mean, don't get me wrong.  I'm a mess.  But these last 9 days have been much messier than usual.  In real life I've kept quite a sense of humor about it (I think...), it just doesn't seem to make it to my blog.  One thing is certain, I have a whole new appreciation for my home.  And things are bound to be better once I make it back to Austin (provided my cat and plants are still alive.  Oh please let them still be alive!!)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

30DoW - Oh, I seize it alright...

This is a topic I can actually muster up the energy to write on…

My personal philosophy is clich├ęd and simple.  “Your life is what you make it.”  All of us have heard that line millions of times and no doubt we all think we believe it to be true.  But from where I’m standing, very few people actually know it to be true enough to practice it in every choice they make.

To be more detailed, I am not a victim.  No way, no how.  You will not ever hear me playing a victim.  Even when my car has broken down for the umpteenth time, I realize that it’s because I made a choice to have dinner or shop as opposed to putting it into my lame ass vehicle.  Or because I partied my ass off in my 20’s and my credit had to pay the price for 7 years, resulting in a crappy car.  Or because Chris and I chose life over money.  Regardless, my car broke down again because of bad choices I’ve made in the past.  I’m that way with every bad thing that has happened since we moved to Austin (which is when this philosophy went into full effect).

In relation to that, bad things have happened due to no bad choices on my part.  That’s life.  It can be a bitch sometimes.  But you will never hear me whine about it.  I’m too busy planning my next course of action.  I’m a doer and a thinker.  Not a moaner and groaner.  When I finally run out of actions to take with said situation, then I simply let it go (or try like hell while lying in bed thinking up new solutions).  When a solution finally presents itself, you better believe that I am hustling to make a change.  If there is no solution to be found, then eventually I will let go.  Turning my back on the situation all together.

It’s because of this philosophy that I live such a "charmed life".  You will never find me sitting in shit bitching about how it smells.  Which brings me to my favorite quote:  “You would rather live in shit than let the world see you work a shovel.”   My ass knows how to work a shovel.  In many ways I’ve worked a shovel my whole life (as I’m sure many other successful people would agree.)  I grew up witnessing some serious dysfunction.  Divorce, mental and physical abuse, some crazy ideas (my uncle slays dragons in his spare time).  And that dysfunction bled over into my own life and choices.  I was married and divorced by the age of 23.  I’m a recovering slut, pill head, pothead and quasi-alcoholic.  But one day I had a true-blue epiphany.  It was the day after I'd had an abortion, which literally killed my soul.  My soul had been dying a slow death to begin with.  But that event did it in.  I was tired.  I was hollow.  I felt worthless, guilty, crazy, sad and suicidal.  I was pathetic.  And on that night, with a bottle of pills in my hand, I fell to my knees and prayed.

Now keep reading my non-believing friends.  This story has nothing to do with God.  Instead, this story has everything to do with Scarlett O’ Hara.  In that moment when I was on my knees and praying, it came to me.  This is my life.  I can be whoever I want to be.  I can turn it all around.  I can redefine it.  I. Can. Change.  As God is my witness, I will never be dysfunctional again!!!

And from that point forward, I began to change.  It took time.  A lot of time in fact.  I was still psycho-crazy for a few years after that.  But the more I was able to change myself, the stronger I felt about defining my future.  The more confident I became, the more I got what I wanted.  I’ve never wanted much really.  In fact I probably set my goals too low a long time ago (something I’m working on now, in fact.)  But mostly, I wanted a healthy relationship and a happy family.  Something I NEVER witnessed growing up.  I could have sat around waiting for it to happen, waiting for someone to treat me right, waiting for someone to want the things I wanted.  But fuck that.  Screw waiting for the good to come to me.  Instead I went out looking.  And when I found a reasonable candidate (that would be Chris), I communicated my ass off.  I still do in fact.  And I’ve realized that in order to get what I want, I must give in return.  But I’m a Libra, so that only comes natural. 

I’ve set clear guidelines for what I want and what I’m willing to give.  I’m that way in all of my relationships, in fact.  It’s been said that I’m not an easy friend/wife/family member to have.  That’s most probably true.  But I don’t want people in my life who want easy.  I want people in my life who want honesty, communication, insight and clarity.  I want people in my life who are doers, changers and fighters.

This philosophy is not a popular one.  I guess people think it’s selfish, arrogant or pushy.  But those are the same people who resent the mostly happy, functional life I lead.  Don’t get me wrong.  My life is far from perfect.  I’m broke most of the time, my car is still a piece of crap and I come from one crazy-ass family.  I often say too much, offend the ones I love and check out at regular intervals.  But those are all a result of conscience choices that I have made.  I own it.  And if someone doesn’t like it, they should move on.  I know that’s what I would do.

Monday, June 8, 2009

30DoW - off topic completely

I don't know what made me think I'd be able to write everyday.  Actually, I do.  I thought I'd be bored when I came to Baytown.  Oh how wrong I was.  I do plan on going back and writing on a few of the topics, as I'd really like to visit them and see what I can come up with.  But it's just not going to be happening this week.

Instead, I need to vent.  

I hate Baytown.  I hate every single fucking thing about this god-awful place in America.  I hate the environment (refineries, smokestacks and pollution galore), I hate the music they listen to (Nickelback and Guns 'N Roses on constant repeat at the swimming pool), I hate the people who live here (Neiman shopping bleach blond chicks with their blond-tipped buff boyfriends littering the pool with their beer cans and cigarette butts) and I hate the mentality (every small thing said creates a testosterone-driven fight).  I hate that this place makes me hate.

It's been no better behind closed doors.  It's an exact replica of what it was like when I lived here.  A passive-aggressive, bullying boyfriend.  A mom who makes excuses.  And children who are beat down by the pattern.  I did well the first few days.  I remained quiet, reminding myself that this wasn't my life or my problems.  I called Chris and my friends for support who walked me through what I should or shouldn't be saying.  But too much time spent in Baytown reverts me back to the Baytownian I once was.  And last night I reverted hardcore.  I begged, I pleaded, I screamed, I cried.  I lost.

I believe I've said it before but it bears repeating again.  I know what it feels like to be the offspring of an addict.  Addiction to dysfunction is just as real as an addiction to drugs or alcohol.  Except there isn't a 12-step available.  The manipulation, the excuses, the highs and the lows.  The feeling that maybe this time will be different so you allow yourself to get caught in the loop again.  And be disappointed again.  It's painful.  It's even more painful not to repeat the process in your own life because it takes so much work.  And the resentment.  Tons and tons of it on all sides.

My mother looked me square in the eye last night and said "I'm sorry I don't have things figured out like you do.  I'm sorry my life isn't perfect like yours.  I can't wait to see how well Izzy has adjusted to her oh-so-perfect life in 15 years.  How nice it must be to be you with all the answers."  Ouch.  Again with me and my perfect life.  Again with the guilt over my "high standards".  Again with the disdain over my inability to tolerate anger and dysfunction.  Again and again and again. 

Our parent's generation was coined the "Me Generation".  How right that description was.  

Saturday, June 6, 2009

30DoW - Putting today in a bottle

My energy has been sapped lately, so instead of staying on topic I was going to write about Izzy's time capsule that we've been working on and have every intention of burying sometime this year on our ranch in East Texas.  But I just read Chris' blog and I am actually speechless on the matter. There is nothing I could say that could come even close to what he wrote.  So I will just stand behind that entry and leave it at that.

Instead, I'd like to relay my very eventful day.  Let this be a snapshot that goes into the time capsule, as it were.  For those who haven’t been following along, Izzy and I are staying with my Mom in Baytown, a town east of Houston where I grew up.  My mom and her boyfriend/ex-husband recently moved into an apartment together (much to my chagrin).  She just had what was supposed to be the last of 5 surgeries in a year (she found out yesterday she needed “just one more”), so Izzy and I came down to visit, along with my Aunt and 12-year-old cousin from Mississppi.  This, in addition to my mom’s boyfriend/ex-husband’s 2 grandkids, ages 9 and 13.  Oh, and two small yappy-ass dogs.  It’s an apartment-full to say the very least.

Now let me stop for a second and explain my usual day in Austin.  It always starts early, Izzy makes sure of that.  But if I’m honest, the day doesn’t actually start until around 10am.  That’s when we get out and about to do our activities (library, park, shopping, whatever).  We both eat lunch around noon, take a nap from 2-4:30, dinner at 6:30 and in bed by 8pm.  It’s routine, it’s structured, it’s quiet and more times than not, I’m in control.

Baytown, it should be mentioned, is the exact opposite of Austin.  It’s dirty, there are no trees, everyone is driving leased trucks or SUV’s, people think recycling involves tires only, in fact, the only thing green in this town are the stoplights.   And as it turns out, my visit here is becoming the mirror image of our lives in Austin.

I wake up at 7am to a 69-degree apartment.  There are people everywhere.  Floors, couches, and blowup mattresses.  This morning we went out to the pool for the first time by 10am.  Guns N’ Roses “Appetite for Destruction” was playing (on repeat) for at least 2 hours before we headed back in for lunch.  Making lunch was like an Excedrin commercial.  I was tripping over dogs and kids in the kitchen, the boyfriend/ex-husband was angry that I wasn’t paying enough attention to him, the TV is blaring Paula Dean, we eat and then back out to the pool.  Kids fighting, screaming, running, falling, coughing.  Dinner, rinse, repeat.  We come in for the last time around 9pm.  It’s an assembly line by now.  Pile the swim toys by the door (comprising of 3 large innertubes, 1 small swim ring, 1 pair of floaties, 3 boogie boards and 1 wagon carrying 3 pairs of goggles, 2 snorkels, 2 balls and a Backyardigan figurine), throw the towels and bathing suits over the banister on the patio (at which point my Mom always makes a comment about how the neighbors will judge) and stand in the shower assembly line.  By 10:30 everyone is showered and wanting “snacks”.  Which means more dogs and kids in the kitchen arguing about what everyone else is eating.  Then we watch a movie that everyone talks through until the toddler is curled up in a corner sucking her thumb actually begging for “nite-nite” (the 2 previous attempts do not work due to “snack” sugar highs).  By 2am the apartment finally hears silence.  By now, I have realized that silence is an actual sound.  In fact, after 3 days of the same routine chaos (with 2 more to go), it is the most beautiful sound in the world.

I realized at around 5pm today that I had become delirious.  A trip to the store needed to happen and I was the only one up for the job.  The two older kids wanted to come so we loaded up and went for it.  At one point they started fighting in the store and I lost my temper and yelled like a crazy lady.  I turned and saw myself in the pharmacy mirror and realized I had no makeup on, my clothes were a mess and I was standing in the grocery store at 5pm on a Friday in my hometown.  And I did not give a shit.  It was a major turning point for me.

It’s all been so truly insane, I had to get it all down here.  On the upside, we’ve spent so much time in the pool Izzy has learned to swim in 2 days time (with floaties, of course).  She was timid in the water on Wednesday, but by yesterday evening she figured out that she had better get in the game or she was going to have one lame ass time.  Now she gets “in the loop” of going in on one side of the pool, leisurely swimming through the chaos of kids to the other side, only to do it all again, and again and again (for hours in fact.)  I’ve enjoyed the time spent with my mom and aunt and the kids have been fabulous when they aren’t all arguing about the most mundane bullshit.  I am however now thanking God that I was an only child and have decided to share that gift with Izzy (seriously, I treasure silence far too much to have another child.  I think the decision has finally been made once and for all.)

And once I get back to the calm, green, quiet of Austin I am going to try to never complain again.  I know it’s a stretch, but I’ve never appreciated my life “before” as much as I do now.  I know there’s a lesson in here… I just hope to hell I don’t forget it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

30DoW - First assignment FAIL

This morning I was writing on today's assignment and was rather impressed with my creativity. But then I had to walk away to make our trip to the Dirty Bay, and then I walked in to chaos soup and now I'm just not feeling it.  And while I feel somewhat bad about it, I'm still writing today so all is not lost in 30 Days of Write.

I do have this to say in regards to my day:  Time marches on but things stay remarkably the same. If silence is golden, then I am obviously tarnished silver, but this time I'm going to work on becoming at least a cheap 9-carat gold.  I'm certain I'll never make it to 24-carat, I'm not driven enough for that kind of silence.  I'm going to end with the good 'ole Serenity Prayer, because that will be my motto for this entire trip...

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; 
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

30DoW - Because zombies lack dignity...

I’m going to slowly step away from zombies.  And violence, blood and gore.  Because as my friends and family know, that shit freaks me out beyond repair.  So in keeping with my writing style (I will break from it during this 30 days, I swear) – I’m going for a more romantic “iconic historical cluster.”  I would like to bring back the Victorian Gentleman.  Let the male generalities begin…

While I’m a fan of equality and women’s rights, somewhere along the way it seems we killed the Gentleman.  I wish morality, dignity, loyalty and intelligence would make a comeback with men today.  Not in a conservative Republican way, but rather in quiet subtleties.  I long for strong men.  Not physically, but mentally.  The kind of men that put more into reading us women, noticing the small details and making mental notes.  While I love men and their egos, it would be nice if they were able to shed their egos for the sake of productive communication when necessary, as opposed to us women having to carefully step around their paper-thin confidence.  Men with passion who stand up, take charge and fight fair.  I’m not looking to be slapped across the face (seriously, don’t even try it), but I’m also not looking to dominate.

I realize the “new woman” has really thrown the men for a loop.  We are educated, we work, we carry heavy boxes.  And in many ways it seems the men have just given up.  Retired to their rooms to get high, play games and live off their parent’s money (I’m going to extremes, but you get the point).  They feel unwanted, unneeded and generally out-of-place, so they check out.  Instead, I wish they’d just man-up and keep up.  Be stronger.  Be smarter.  Pay attention.  Bob and weave for fucks sake!  Sorry, that was an unnecessary tangent.

Perhaps I have a romanticized view of the Victorian Gentleman (it’s a pretty safe bet, in fact).  But that version is what I long to replace the zombies.  Men who stand up straight, have a dignified air to them (despite their social class) and love ballroom dancing.  Because ballroom dancing is much more enjoyable than chopping off heads, if I do say so myself.

Monday, June 1, 2009

30DoW - Telling ya something good

Part 1 – What do I want to get out of this 30 Days of Write Exercise?  Good question.  Yet another commitment?  One more thing to feel guilty about flaking on?  No and no.  I’m going to go with discipline, creativity and style.  That’s what I hope to get out of it.  I’d like to write more often and hopefully expand into a more creative style.

Part 2 – About my life as a writer…  Well, first and foremost, I love to use ellipsis more than anyone else on this planet.  Perhaps because I feel that none of my thoughts are ever really complete…  On a more personal note, I’ve fancied myself a “writer” since I was in elementary school.  In fact, I wrote my first (of many) novels in the 3rd grade (and by novel, I mean a whopping 8 pages long).  I was boy-crazy, so Romance was the obvious way to go.  It was about a new boy in town who both irritated and challenged a young, strong girl (modeled after myself, of course), and the slow manner in which they fell in love (to the envy of all the other girls in town).  I was a regular fricken Nora Roberts.  By the time high school came around, my discipline was out the window.  I chose social over academic, as is fairly obvious in my writing style.  However, starting around that time, I began to keep a journal (I grew to hate the term “diary” as it sounded far too juvenile for my very serious self.)  In my mid-20’s, during a whirlwind of changes, my journal was the one place I was allowed to be who I really was.  Without judgment, without criticisms, without censorship.  At that time I also began writing poetry.  That venture was both exciting and embarrassing, so I will speak of it no more.  Once the internet came along (which I immediately fell in love with), I naturally merged the two and my love of blogging began.  I’ve been blogging regularly since March of 2004.  I’m glad for it, because I’m able to go back and see my progression as a woman, wife, mother and friend.  I’ve come a long way, and I might not have realized it without the detailed documentation to look back on.  My hope is that this 30DoW exercise will help me step out of my personal style (which has been all about me) and re-open the creativity I once had.  However, please know that at the height of my creativity, I sounded a hell of a lot like Nora Roberts.  I don’t have a War and Peace in me.  So set your expectations low and you just might enjoy what you read…