Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Farting, Smiling Queen

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I try to be an upbeat, annoying optimist most of the time. In fact, a client actually called me “Positive Polly” last week (a genius name for a line of overly bubbly doll figures – they could fart bubbles and laugh when you pulled their string). But sometimes, every now and then, the Eyore in my life comes to cloud me up with negativity. That Eyore is my mother. Kind of. But then again – maybe darker – like Eyore’s shadow on a cloudy day (yes, I know that’s kind of impossible). She can be a brilliant, funny person, but oh can she also be about as easy to swallow as a razor blade. If she ever reads this, I’ll probably have a hit out on me, but I have to vent, and this is my venting platform now and then. I just want to mention, there is a dash of humor in here though, and I do need to write an entire post about the underwear incident because it was so funny I had a side-ache. I might have to delete this soon, but in maintaining my own mental health, I must expunge it!

I like it when people tell me I’m a terrible parent and they’ve spent a total maybe 3 weeks with me in the past eight years of my being a parent. (by the way, that is called sarcasm)

And that person hasn’t parented me since I was 14.

And that person can’t seem to figure out that even though I make fun of myself (a lot), I am doing a far better job than I experienced as a child. Isn’t that what having a kid is about? Improving on the job our parents did with us? I mean, that and being reminded just how funny infantile humor is? I mean, farts are funny.

They are always funny.

Even if you are dying – drop a bomb and I guarantee someone will laugh. Maybe even you! Sometimes, without kids around to remind us, we stop seeing the humor in every day. A bird poops on your shoulder? C’mon, that’s funny. Your husband farts so hard on vacation that he has to ditch his undies in a public bathroom somewhere in La Jolla? That’s INCREDIBLY funny.

And, if you can’t see the humor in life, then get your ass near some children (well, not your ass per se. That’s just inappropriate. Put some pants on already, you damn fool!) and see what the hell they think is so funny! It’s usually physical comedy.

Or farts.

And once you find that place of many giggles, you might want to stay there a while, because the other extreme is apparently my mother. The bird pooping on her shoulder would just be another example of Obamacare. Somehow she’d blame Obama for the underwear, as well. And, unless you are going to admit you are the one who created the crap hole that is your life, you might not want to go there. It is a lonely place. It is a depressed, mentally ill world where people are mostly bad and their intentions are mainly evil based.

Or you can fart. And find it funny. And fucking enjoy your ability to smile and be silly! Go! Do it! Drop a bomb (a nonviolent stinker, I mean) and live a little.

Just try not to poop yourself. It’s a waste of perfectly good underwear.

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The Frat Boy Inside

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There I sat, in my fourth straight hour of lectures, in the same small, stuffy classroom, the same old carpet supporting my same old quickly spreading ass.   The first three hours were mind blowing, but now I was in my second class… and it was just blowing.  We were talking about suicide.  Well, let me clarify: the teacher was talking about suicide.  And, as you might guess, it was DEPRESSING (as suicide tends to be).  So, I did what I do when I need to check out.  Well, no, I didn’t crack open a beer or start playing on Facebook.  I doodled.  This is something people did in school before laptops and iPhones existed.  We used this stuff called paper and these other weird contraptions called pens and we doodled!  Crazy-old-fashioned, I know.  I doodled with my orange pen, creating a Seuss-ish flower and the word’s “Happy Place.” (see my previous blog post)  I was making my orange sanctuary, a place to protect me from the rather insensitive lecture taking place around me.  Finally, just when I thought I was going to use up all the ink in my pen (or start eating it because I was getting really hungry) we had a brief break.  Did I tell you I’d been sitting on the floor this entire time?  I have a six hour day of class in which we sit on the floor THE WHOLE TIME!  (This ensures we are hippie-esque and Buddhist-ish) I thought this would be heaven for a person who had been standing at work for 15 years, but surprisingly my ever-widening buttocks do not appreciate floors.  Go figure.  As I was trying to engage my atrophying quads in order to stand upright, I noticed another student had been doodling.  She had made some beautiful, non-suicidal hot air balloons.  I brilliantly thought I should comment on our similar dissociation styles.

“Hey look!  Your hot air balloons can fly over my happy place!”

Yes.  I always speak before I think.  Gotta work on that.  My theory is that my shadow side had been engaged from sitting through such a dark lecture.  I was tired.  I couldn’t keep my shadow in check, like I usually do.  Typically my shadow comes out when I sleep, and then I can tuck it neatly away in my underwear drawer when I wake up in the morning.

But not this day.

This day, my shadow came out to play.

And apparently my shadow is a horny frat boy.

The Prophesying Infant

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Sometimes you’ve got to have a quickie. And by quickie, I mean a short post. I need to master this skill outside of Facebook, because I love to write, but most of what I am writing these days looks and smells like research. It’s dry. It’s a bit dull. Sometimes I throw bad words and humor in just to entertain myself when I edit the first, second, third draft. It’s a little pathetic, like talking to myself. Or liking my own posts. Or tooting my own horn.

So, in quickie style, I just have to share a short story that makes me laugh. Life is too short not to laugh. Bet you never heard that one before.

I am a mom. I am going to assume you probably already know that. I have a kid (hence the ‘mom’ title) who was once a baby! Isn’t that weird?

That’d be perfect if my story ended right there.

But, there is an actual tale to tell. My husband managed to go on a few trips for work when she was just a wee infant with frequent constipation and an uncanny ability to bark. On one of these trips, when my daughter was … hmmm … maybe 10 months old. When do they start talking? It all seems to be a big, exhausting blur (of rainbows and ponies and happiness, in case you are trying to conceive).

Anyway, she was verbal, but not very. She was mobile, but not entirely. Cute as a button that child. It was my first week alone with her, we were getting along pretty well, other than the fact that I was a typical super sleep deprived mommy (who always ALWAYS ran into people who just HAD to share with me how well their babies slept, saying ridiculous things like “my baby slept through the night since her first week.” Oh shut up. That is not true. And if it is, I say, a plague on your teenage years!”).

My daughter and I were sharing a lovely moment, post bath time, pre bed time, snuggly, squishy baby time. She fondly looked into my eyes, I looked back into her’s, and she said, “Mommy die.”

“Uh, what honey bean?”

“MOMMY DIE! MOMMY DIE!”

And then she began to giggle.  Maniacally. Actually, I don’t think it was maniacal, but it makes for a better story.  I had an instant where I was sure I was living in a Chuckie movie or the little Exorcist girl had somehow gotten into my house.

“No, honey. Mommy’s right here.”

Sweet smile. Hiding my horror.

“DIE MOMMY DIE MOMMY DIE MOMMY!”

She laughed like she had just invented the whoopee cushion. I eventually distracted her with the same book I had already read 2000 times before and she went to sleep (for an hour or two) like a dream.

I did not.

I lay awake the rest of the night, wondering if it was a prophecy. Or a wish. Was she going to murder me while I slept? I mean, if she could get out of her crib.

Note to self, mommies of the world. Babies can say certain sounds first. They will likely say “DaDa” before they say “MaMa.” That’s bad enough, when you feel like you’ve been ripped apart and sewn back together as some Frankensteinian cow woman. But then, then…then they discover “Die.” It probably means nothing. It just sounded fun to her developing mouth.

(or so I keep telling myself)

But, one day when she’s 13 I will remember that evening. I will think to myself, “Oh my God, she DOES want me dead.”

Just wait.

Aside

So, I am not the standard grad student.  I am pushing 40, I have a kid, and I am married.   I am attending a Buddhist school.  I am not Buddhist. I am not even a good atheist.  I base my beliefs on coffee beans and magic.  The first day of my first year, I was pumped.  I was raring to go!  I had been working on prerequisites for seven years.  Here it was!  I entered my first class.  It was wonderful.  I was learning things.  I wasn’t at work.  I was expanding my mind and racking up huge amounts of debt.

Glorious!

I had to race to my second class, which was half way across town.  I had ten minutes.  I drove like the wind, and arrived 10 minutes late.  I walked in, and the entire group of 20 students and 2 instructors turned to look at me.

I felt like I had walked into an Elks meeting.  Or a Mormon wedding.  It seemed something important and secretive was happening and I had missed it.

“Sorry!”  I said, far too perkily.  “I just had a class at the other campus; I can’t get here right on time.”

The main instructor had a serious expression on her face and looked terribly disappointed in me, as if while meditating a potato bug had crawled right up her butt, and somehow it was my fault.

“Uh.  I mean, it was only 10 minutes.”  There was a distinct pitch to my voice, much like a whine.

The class looked at me with obvious pity, perhaps thinking I wouldn’t last the day.  I was thinking,”I’m not going to last the day.”  We were all on the same wavelength.  Except for the fact that my wavelength has been out of school for over 15 years and my wavelength can’t read a course schedule and my wavelength scheduled a class that ran one hour into my next class, because my wavelength is totally overwhelmed and my wavelength wants to quit school this very instant.  I was okay before this.  I wasn’t progressing in my working life, I wasn’t learning anything new, but this?  This is not cool.  I am not going to be the kid no one wants to sit next to at lunch.  I’m not going to be the Ally Sheedy of the Breakfast Club.  No I am not.  In fact, I’m going to the bathroom now, and not to meditate.

To hide in a stall.

And cry.

Even the free tampons couldn’t cheer me up.  I gradually picked up my swollen, puffy eyed face, wrapped my heart that really just wanted to be home with my daughter up in some extra toilet paper, took a deep breath and went back to class.  I smiled like nothing was wrong, hoping my fake cheer distracted from my red eyes.  I traveled to the admissions office and tried to figure out my schedule.  The woman, who was about my age, looked at me like I was probably the stupidest student to ever enter the program.  Yeah.  That’s me, I’m the slow one.  Thanks.  By the way, where are the Buddhists hiding?  I thought you all were supposed to love EVERYONE!  Even the remedial grad students!

She told me, “You registered for a class that conflicts with another class.”

Well, no shit.  Now who’s the stupid one?  (I’m not even going to fake that I’m a Buddhist.)

“Yes, I did.  I’m wondering how I can fix it.”

“Well, you have to get online and change classes.”

My face quivered.  I had reached a breaking point.

She looked me in the eye and very seriously said, “This is graduate school, you know.”

I thanked her, for completely topping off my awesome first day of school and went to my car where I proceeded to do the ugly cry and call my sister (she is the main receiver of all my ugly cries – an underpaid job for sure).  I huffed and puffed, telling my sister all the stuff I meant to say to the admissions lady, but I didn’t because my brain operates on a 10-20 minute delay.

Why did it suddenly seem as if graduate school was a NASA program that only 8 people in the world had been admitted to, and if I didn’t figure out my schedule the earth as we know it would cease to exist because the sun would explode and the moon would crash into the ocean?  Yes.  It IS graduate school, I realize this.  And I am paying this school nearly $80,000 over three years to have the honor to earn a degree from them.  I think for that kind of money, someone should hold my hand.  I mean, if I am going to negatively affect the entire planet, shouldn’t SOMEONE HELP ME OUT?!

I never said any of that, of course, and somehow I finished my entire first year without destroying the sun or the moon.  Or my marriage.  Or Buddhism.  It seemed my newbie status was morphing.  I was becoming an expert grad student.  Drinking lattes by the gallon, typing papers by the pound, sitting on cushions and not totally cursing the person who invented the damn cushion.  I could do this!  (Though I could do this better on a couch.)

Until year two.

I made it through my first day with no problems.  Whew.  I really was going to be okay.  And then… then…

it was day TWO!

I went to get my financial aid money.  La la la.  Life is good.  Getting some money from the government.  whoop.  Gonna buy some groceries.  Gonna pay the water bill.  Holla!

“Um, we have no check for you.”

“WHAAATTT?”

“Well, you see this section of the form?”  The financial aid guy drew a big square around a paragraph at the bottom of the page.  I swear he drew it really slowly, emphasizing my stupidity, but I might be projecting.

“You…..Didn’t…..Do….This….Part.”

Seriously?  Why are these people such dick-heads?  What would Buddha do?  Don’t they know this shit is difficult for someone who used to register for classes IN PERSON?  God.  I probably babysat this guy in college.

Of course, again, instead of saying any of this, I cried.  It’s my go-to mature reaction.

Graduate school is no laugh.  But it also is not that big of a deal.  The big deal is that I quit wearing deodorant about 2 months before the program started.  This was probably a bad decision.  If you are going to go back to school as a “mature” student, it’s probably best not to let them smell your fear. I wonder, if I do become Buddhist, will my sweat no longer stink?

My Buddhist Deodorant

The Crotch Crutch, or How to Fail as a Super-Parent

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When kids are little they constantly mess up their words, attempting to say things like spaghetti.  These words come out all twisted and mixed up and parents LOVE it.  It’s the cutest thing ever, a shrinky-dink adult!  And we giggle.  And we “awww.” And if we are Super-Parents, we write it all down in their baby books.  If you are like me you don’t. The Super-Parent title is just too far out of reach.  Damn.  And if you’re really far away from the Super-Parent status, and you are sorta kinda human, your kid will start shouting profanities the week before she begins her Montessori preschool (while the other kids recite Maya Angelou poems).

The worst part is not that your kid sounds like they are ready to join the Mafia.  The worst part is you can’t laugh.

It’s the cardinal rule of parenting.  

As soon as your kid knows you liked what they said, they will repeat it, in front of the other kid’s parents, in front of the grandparents, because they want to entertain those adults, too.  If you manage not to laugh, you will try to cover for yourself, saying creative things like, “I said, ‘Ducking Fur Bag’, honey.  That’s all.  It’s not very nice, but they almost hit us in the ridiculous traffic circle that Americans have never figured out how to maneuver.”

It all began before her second birthday.  My husband and I were laying in bed, pontificating over our gifted toddler who was sleeping soundly in her room.  Suddenly, over the baby monitor we hear, “Mama, get my friggin’ pillow!”  After shooting something out of my nose…nearly nailing my husband on the forehead, I became fearful that I had given birth to the reincarnation of Al Capone and when I opened her door she’d be holding a pistol, all sideways and gangster-like, just waiting for silly mommy to fall into her trap.  She’d glare at me, her pillow lying between us on the floor, and say, “Go ahead, Mom, MAKE MY DAY!”  But instead I composed myself and pretended she was just a wee toddler.  Sigh.  See, she’s not a gangster, she’s a beautiful little girl.  I picked her up and squeezed her (and not because I was secretly checking her for weapons), sniffed her little kid head (this is something moms do, I wasn’t checking for gun-powder residue, I swear). All was well in our world.  The world next door to the “Super-Parents.”  A more colorful place, with snorting laughter and an overabundance of pet hair (and an under abundance of manners).

Until.

She began singing the “Goddammit, dag-nabbit, goddammit, dag-nabbit” song in the tub, at the top of her lungs, while her grampa was sitting in the living room.  He poked his head around the corner and looked at me, “Is she singing what I think she’s singing?”  “Yes!  Whatever you do don’t laugh!”   Dag-nabbit was the result of my effort at telling her she had misunderstood the phrase, and adding some quality Scooby Doo vocabulary (circa 1970).  She’d sit in the grass, a picture of sweet childhood innocence, pulling up grass blades much as people do when pulling petals from a daisy. “She loves me, she loves me not” they lovingly say to the dismembered flower.  “Goddammit, dag-nabbit” my daughter lovingly said to the grass as she ripped it from its earthy home.  She was happy as a clam.  (a clam abducted by pirates and encouraged to drink copious amounts of rum before her third birthday.)

Now, my verbally gifted daughter is nearly eight and I have changed.  I tend to shout things like “Booger-Head!” in traffic, and call people “Dooooo Bags” when they are really deserving.  Doesn’t change the fact that last year she buckled herself into her carseat and said,

“Well, Cheesus Grist.”

Indeed.

What would Cheesus do?  Perhaps correct the vocabulary?  But where would I get my laughs?  I promise, before she starts middle school I’ll work on it.  Actually, I might not have to. She’s been much better lately.

Unless you count the crotch.

She has confused the word “crutch” with the word “crotch” and I can’t bring myself to correct it.  This is just setting her up for failure, I know, but when your kid says, “Mommy, remember when my friend’s dog ate my crotch?” or “Remember the crotches I built?  The crotches were so fun!” you must understand my weakness.

C’mon.

I don’t get out much.

Glitter Bomb Departs, Leaving Shining Residue in Her Wake

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Ho Hey!  I am still here, but wow.  Second year of grad school is underway.  Oh.  My.  Gawd.  I have new classes, new classmates, and a whole butt-load of new books.  I also have new teachers, who are mostly amazing.  I have one who is spinning my brain around like a stomach that has consumed far too much chili and caffeine.  She speaks like an enlightened soul, but what I keep discovering about enlightened souls is this: when a person claims to be enlightened, or a “healer” (at least in white America), they typically are anything but.  Why is this?  I believe in healers.  I believe some people get close to and maybe even achieve enlightenment, but I also believe those select few do not brag about it.  They use their powers for good and not evil.  Good doesn’t need bragging rights.

I sit in her class, trying to listen, trying to learn, but I keep obsessing over her poorly organized syllabus.  The letters on the page spin around with numbers, creating a tornado of information that suddenly renders me dyslexic.  It’s going to make this whole education thing a lot harder, no longer being able to read.  She seems to want to prove something to us, and I have had educators like this before.  Never forget, teachers of the world, how much your students have to teach you.  The best teacher I ever had did not have a PhD, she did not have a Masters degree, in fact, I’m not even sure if she finished undergrad.  What she did have was passion.  She loved what she taught, and no matter how many letters are following your name, all that matters is passion.  Oh, and humor.  I mean, all that passion can be a bit like too much ice cream – you gotta wash it down with something.  Like beer.  She was my beer and ice cream.  I hope everyone has an opportunity to experience such a teacher.  It’s a sight to behold.  Like being in the presence of a healer or something.

Following is the goodbye letter I wrote to that powerful woman.  It’s not an easy thing – to say goodbye.  She died less than two weeks ago.  The world lost a load of glitter, but I hope other educators can embrace her example of passionate teaching and inspire minds to learn and grow as she always did.

“Dear Elaine,

When I first met you, in 1996, you were my teacher.  Your knowledge, reputation and quick wit initially intimidated me.  The pedestal you had been put upon was so high.  And then you told me a hilarious story, and I snorted.  My fear departed with that snort.  The intimidation melted and you were Elaine, standing before me, full of kindness and a burning, insatiable desire to teach others everything you knew.  Thanks for the story, it gave me a chance to see you, the bright light you are.  You have undeniable magnetism; we all want to be near you, to have your eyes on us, we seek your praise, while we can only hope to one day have your wit.

After ten years away, I came back to the massage school as a teacher, and there you were.  I was honored to be able to work alongside you, the greatest teacher I’d had in life.  I was privy to more stories and silliness and knowledge.  When I think of BCMT, I think of you.  You are the reason the school has a great reputation, and the reason it continues to attract other amazing teachers and students.  Without you, many massage therapy grads probably would have fizzled out long ago.  Your ceaseless energy and optimism inspire people each and every day.

Have you seen political glitter bombs?  They are usually geared toward someone who has professed close-minded views, often anti-gay in nature.  What a great way to fight back: cover negativity and repression with reflecting bits of sun and light, turning someone who seemed so dark into someone who has sparkle potential.  That’s how I see you – as a human glitter bomb.  You do this all the time.  You name a person’s potential, give them sparkle, and watch them shine.  What a sensation, to bask in such positivity!  To be a shining, dancing bit of joy!  Through your teaching and human interactions, you glitter bomb all over the place, and I have enjoyed witnessing the sparkling residue of positivity trailing behind.

You have hugged me like a person should be hugged: cells squishing together, molding around one another, confusing their states of being, wondering whose are whose!  It is a hug like we all wish our mothers could give.  Unconditional love pours from your entire being.  You are an energetic mother to so many, a person filled with mama light, and I have felt it and I appreciate it.  As best I can, I will emulate that light and love, teaching and learning as I go.  You have shown your peers, your students, your clients and your loved ones how to live honestly.  Thank you for that.

I know you have many important things to do in your journey, you’ve done such a thorough job here.  I am sad in a very selfish way to say good-bye to you, Elaine, because I will miss you.  But in another way, I’m not sad because I know a person like you continues.  A glitter bomb may change, become a different color with the light, but it never disappears.  And no matter where it goes, you’ll find pieces of it left behind, reminders of it’s presence.  You will always sparkle, wherever you travel.  I love you, and I love the glitter I find you’ve left on my soul.

Thank you for your generous role in life, filling so many heads and hearts with passion.  I feel so lucky to have known you, Elaine, as more than simply my teacher.  Your baby chicks will continue sparkling, as glitter-residue is everlasting.

I love you forever!”

I’m only sharing this because I know so many people felt similar – she was very loved.  Imagine having students loving you this much.  I mean really.  Teachers are amazing people, and some of them are even amazing teachers.  If you teach, anyone, any age, anywhere, don’t forget a healthy dose of glitter.  It goes a long way.