Tag Archives: mom

Warning: Grumpy Buddhists May Bite

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It felt like 7th grade.  What was I going to wear?  I didn’t want to look like I was trying too hard, but I also didn’t want to look like a frumpy mom, which I hated to admit, I had totally become.  Actually, it didn’t really bother me to admit that at all (to people in my age bracket).  I sleep in the same thing I wear all day, unless it’s jeans.  I shower at the gym, which means I typically forget my brush, my razor, sometimes my underwear.  I embraced the frump.  “Yoga pants” had become my mainstay; when I brushed my hair and put on non-yoga-pants, my husband would ask me why I was so dressed up.  My frump was fine by me.  Until I went back to school.  All of the sudden I was going to be a 38-year-old graduate student.  I would finish school at age 41, if I finished at all.  Was grad school ready for the frump?

The night before my first class I looked online at the maps of the campus.  The school chose names like “Paramita” and “Nalanda” for their buildings and the classrooms were worse.  My mouth was confused.  How the hell do I say these words and not sound like an asshole?  So, I decided I would not say them until year two.  One step at a time.  I packed a lunch (like a mom would do), I drank some coffee.  My first class was meditation, so I opted to wear yoga pants, just this once.  A class on meditation, how hard could that be?  I’ll sit there and space out.  Groovy man.  I hadn’t had time to do that since I since I’d had a baby six years before.

I entered the foreign named class room.  The floor was covered with back jacks, which are chairs made for young people and the chronically flexible.  I had done this before.  I had been in this same building, this very same room, fifteen years ago.  At that time it was a massage school.  I remembered these chairs.  What I didn’t remember was how hard it was to get out of them, off the floor.  Hello age.  When I’m on the floor, I want to be either licking chocolate off of it or laying down.

My classmates were pretty much what I expected: mid 20’s for the most part, Caucasian for the most part, women for the most part, beautiful for the most part, unwrinkled bodies dressed in stylish clothes, with nice hair.  If there were any slobs, the slob look appeared intentional.  Uh oh.  So, I sat down in my evil back jack (which I keep calling a “flap jack”), feeling like an obvious impostor while trying my best to look relaxed and confident, smiling easily, hoping my butt wasn’t sweating through the yoga pants, questioning my decision to stop wearing deodorant a couple of years ago.  Sure, I am white and female, so that part was easy to blend in with.  But the wrinkles were not going anywhere.

After learning how to mindfully drink from my water bottle and to sit without complaining about my back hurting, I headed to my next class.  I had this all figured out.  It was on another campus, and I would be 5 minutes late because of the drive.  Oh well, I guess that was just the way it works at this school.  In college no one cared if I was late, let alone if I ever showed up.  I raced into the classroom, kind of winded, kind of sweaty, bright-eyed and ready for class.  Everyone was there.  In a circle.  All eyes on the frumpy, wrinkled mama person who does not seem to fit this grad student mold.  The teacher looked at me tragically.  I kid you not.  It was like I had interrupted a funeral.  I started speaking far too fast (especially considering just minutes before I was slowing down, mindfully drinking from my reusable water bottle), explaining my weird schedule, how it wasn’t possible for me to get there on time, etc.  She looked at me with such disappointment in her expression and said, “Well, I just don’t know what you’re going to do.  This isn’t going to work.  You can’t be an hour late for class every week.  This IS graduate school.”  AN HOUR?  What the fuck?  The people in the circle were looking at me, pity on their faces, which I read to say, “Aw.  Look at the poor older student.  She is trying to be a mom and a student.  She can’t even handle her schedule.”  The teacher said we could discuss it later and continued whatever sacred activity had been taking place before my rude arrival.  I left.  I went to the bathroom and cried.  My first day of grad school was only half way over.

I returned to class a bit red-faced and cranky, already hating the teacher for something completely not her fault.  I didn’t like anyone.  I had no one to relate to.  Why was I doing this at all?  I had a job.  I had a life.  Things were going along quite copacetically.  I wanted to be back in my comfort zone.  After class I went to talk to the person in charge of scheduling.

She was all business, which struck me as odd at this Buddhist school of love and peace and mediation and raw diets.  I told her my predicament.  She said, “Well, you can’t take that meditation class, it doesn’t work with your schedule.”  (Duh)  “You’ll have to take this other one.”  I told her that would mean I would have to drive to campus five days a week and get child care and I don’t live in town.  She looked at me sternly and said, “You know, this IS graduate school.”  Really?  I had no idea?  Is that what the first year of $30,000 in student loans is for?  I thought it was day camp.  I thought it was a mindfulness retreat.  I thought it was a wine tasting.  Jesus.  Instead of saying any of those brilliant comebacks, I went to my car, called my sister and cried again.  I sobbed.  It had been 5 hours.  Day one.  I never wanted to come back to this.  I told my sister all of my insecurities, I told her how mean the Buddhists seemed to be, and she calmly talked me down from the fence, convincing me to give it a week at least.  It’s been two years.  Hopefully this is because things have improved and I’m mindfully drinking my water, but maybe it’s just because I’m a glutton for punishment.

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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

My Bubble has a Bra!

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Picture it: me, age 5.  Being offered something brown and squishy from my dear older sister.

“It’s chocolate, Krista, I swear!  You should try it, it’s soooooo good.”

I’d like to think I ran away screaming because the toilet paper gave it away.  I actually can’t recall.  Maybe it was so terrible that I blocked it out.

I think I’ll skip reliving that moment in therapy.

Me, coughing hysterically, realizing I was suffocating in my sleep.  I was not sick.  I was not wrapped up in my sheets.  No.  Instead, there was my diabolical sister plugging my nose and holding my mouth shut simultaneously, trying to get me to stop snoring.  Not a recommended technique by the way.  Give a breathe-right strip a try.  It’s much less psycho!

“Krista, just pretend that we don’t know each other.  Walk on the other side of the street.  Don’t sit anywhere near me on the bus.”

So began each day of sixth grade.  The sixth grade social pariah to the über cool eighth grader.  Sometimes I would run up and hold her hand, just to piss her off.

Ah, and here we are: the self-esteem shattering world of Junior High.  I found out she had a boyfriend!  Such a milestone, how could I not share the excitement with my parents. My lack of ability to keep a secret was soon discovered.   Little did I know that such an offense was punishable by death.  Or at least heavy bleeding.  I ended up in the bathroom (the only room with a lock on the door), while she taunted me with a butcher knife – swiping it underneath that seemingly giant gap under the door.  I stood on the toilet for what seemed like hours.  In this memory I’m not scared.  Rather, I am a 12-year-old Dr. Evil. Petting my hairless cat.  mmm ooo waa hahahah (evil laugh).   Why?  Because I had succeeded in pissing her off again, and it was such fun!  Oh, and she may have made me a little bit loony after that psychotic break.

HER punishment? Catholic boarding school.  Ouch.  I think the heavy bleeding may have been better.

Why do I like this person?  She sounds a bit like a serial killer in the making doesn’t she? Well, somewhere along the way, we started to enjoy each other’s company (and she found cleaning as a source of anger management).  In college she became my beer source (which was my own non-healthy form of anger management).  She started using her OCD for good and washing my car.  She stopped trying to suffocate me (unless we were forced into sharing a bed on a family vacation).  I, in turn, got very drunk and told her new boyfriend off in a men’s bathroom.  Did I mention that she’s older?  It took me a bit longer to mature.

Now she is a part of my happy bubble.  She has given me advice when my child’s been sick.  She has listened to me rant relentlessly as I struggle with my still-new-feeling identity as a mom.  She is like the greatest bra. That’s it!  She’s my bubble bra!!  She is supportive, and comfy, and she doesn’t even poke me with underwires!!

What I like most about having a sister is that she makes me laugh.  We can spend time together telling stories or watching stimulating movies (with Will Farrell) and just laugh. Now we even text banana statements to one another.  I feel a bit guilty as a parent that my daughter will never have someone like this.  A bubble bra who she can laugh so hard with that she accidentally shoots a bit of snot from her nose.  A sibling who can relate to just how crazy her mom (me) is.  A friend who will help her find some Tylenol at 2 a.m. in the mountains because her kid is screaming with growing pains.

Am I slighting her with this only-child thing?  I hope not.  But, in the meantime, her chances of surviving childhood must be double what mine were.