Tuesday, October 9, 2018

I blog to avoid the internet.

Fifteen minutes tonight filling out permission slips and volunteer forms and her reading log - I feel so grown up!  There's never a moment I drop the responsibility, never a moment their care isn't a live current running underneath everything else happening in my brain, but sometimes, when I have a quiet moment to sit and really think, it blows my mind that I am a mother, responsible for the lives and well-being of two other entire humans.  What they eat, what they wear, when they bathe, how they play - I have a say in all of it.  Not just a say - I damn-near control it entirely.  It's crazy to me that someone let me have this much responsibility without checking to make sure I'm qualified in any way for this much power.  No Pressure.

G had her first parent/teacher conference today, and it lined up perfectly with C's follow-up pelvic ultrasound, so Jimi took the phone conference in the car with G in the backseat while C and I went inside for her appointment.  They were done with her so quickly, we were back to the car in time for the last part of the conversation.  Basically, she's awesome.  She's reading and writing at nearly a first grade level, which is awesome.  She's ahead of most of her class in math, but she needs to keep practicing on her counting (that jump from 29 to 30 fouls her up every time).  She's a little ray of sunshine, a joy to have in class, friendly and helpful to all of her peers.  I heard the part about how they had to move her to a new table because she was too social, and how they expect they'll have to move her again eventually when she gets social with this table too, and I grinned because, yep, that's my girl.

They told us not to expect C's results for a few days.  The technician took the pics, the radiologist "reads" them and sends results to our doc, then we should hear from our doc in a few days.  I want to hold a goshdang Kaizen event to get these people in line - can't we remove a step or two here and multitask to improve turnaround?  For gosh sakes.  Anytime you're in an ultrasound of any sort, you desperately just want to know, "Does everything look normal?"  She didn't halt the test and go get a doc for a second opinion or anything, so there's that, but when she was done, she did say that she needed to check with her doc and asked us to wait for just a moment.  I felt a small pit of dread drop itself into the center of my stomach, but she came back within a few minutes and said we were all set, good to go.  That doesn't answer any questions, though.  So we wait.  And keep sending out into the universe good vibes for no big deal.

My head is a mess, guys.  I'm so sad when I scroll through my social media pages - pictures of new babies and family gatherings sandwiched between horrid tales from sexual assault victims and memes joking about sexual assault survivors posted by men I previously believed to be Good Men.  I want to stay informed, but I've realized my desire to be informed is not so much keeping me abreast of current events so much as depressing the fuck out of me.  I can scroll for hours in twitter and facebook and Instagram, but I'm not gaining any new knowledge or enlightenment from it - I'm just following the crowd into the hole of chaos and awfulness.  I tried to step back last night; I drew myself a warm bath, threw in a bath bomb, turned on a YouTube meditation video to help with stress and anxiety, and tried to let it all go.  When my bath was over, I didn't feel any better, I felt lost and still so sad.  I asked Jimi if he would hold me; I just needed to lie in bed with his arms around me and feel safe.  He did, and I cried and cried until I couldn't breathe through my nose anymore.  I sobbed the big shaking sobs you cry when you're heartbroken, because I am heartbroken.

"I want to live in a world where everything is fair, where everyone is treated equally, where everyone has to follow the same rules."   Why is that too much to ask?

I am aghast at the state of our nation today.  I am appalled.  But I've been doing a little learning, and I'm learning that I shouldn't be all that shocked.  To paraphrase a post I saw somewhere by someone on some social media something:


The United States 
was formed by 
wealthy white supremacists 
to promote their interests and agenda.  
The system is working 
exactly as it was designed.  


In-fucking-deed.  


So yeah.  I'm having a hard time over here, but I'm taking steps to get better.  A social media hiatus between now and election night is on the agenda. I'm even avoiding some of my favorite podcasts, because they're political and informative and the facts they give stress me the fuck out.

Self care, right?  That should be the word of 2018.  It's the only way most of us will survive it.



Finnegan 2

G drew a picture of a cat and taped it to her wall a week or two ago - it was a white cat, and she wrote "Cat" above it.  She likes to label things, now that she can.  Today, I found her with a black crayon, making black spots on the cat.  She'd marked out "Cat" and written "Dog", and underneath that, "Finn".  She drew a black mark at the bottom of the page, "that's his fur that he leaves everywhere."

*Sigh*

We picked up his ashes yesterday; I had both girls in the car with me when I called to see if he was ready.  I should've thought better of that - Cora piped up, "We're getting our puppy back?"  The hopeful melody of her sweet voice broke my heart.  I had to explain again that we're just picking up his ashes.  That he's still dead, that he's not coming back.  "Ashes?" G was curious. "They turned him into dust?"  We talked a bit about that, what it would look like.  I told them to imagine the ashes under the grill, the ones they like to play in.   I sent out a silent thank you to the universe when we got through the conversation again without them asking how they turned him into ashes - I can't think how I would explain cremation technique without them being horrified.  "Did they turn his fur to ashes too?" G asked.  She had that sad, tentative voice that she uses when something is bothering her and she's trying to understand.  "Yes, baby, his fur too."  "Oh," she said, looking down.  "I wanted to feel his fur again."  Somehow I managed to not cry, but it took effort.  I lost it last night when I shared that anecdote with Jimi - he did too.  It's almost too much to bear, to think of his soft fur and what a good boy he was.

We got him picked up, though, got him home, on the mantle.  They included a paw print pressed into some sort of soft dough that will firm up permanently in a few days.  I don't know if that was great or terrible.  I cried last night for a long time.  It wasn't all for him, but a lot of it was.  I have so much guilt - I was not the greatest dog mom over the last 5 years, and I don't know how I'll come to terms with that.  I can't make it up to him.  I can't tell him I'm sorry.  I can't redo any of it.  I keep replaying this night in my head, one of our walks in his last few weeks, before I realized he was hurting - we were walking our usual route and he was being so slow, and I was in such a hurry, like I always am, to get to the next thing, whatever it was.  I lost my patience with him, I assumed he was just being pokey, taking his time, and I pulled on his lead and griped at him to "Come ON - hurry up!"  I would love to not have that memory anymore. When he was slow the next night too, that's when I noticed something was not normal.  Also, the weeks leading up to that, when he was so slow to get up and come to the door to go outside in the mornings; I assumed he was being lazy, or ignoring me - as if he ever did those things - and I would lose my temper and yell at him, "Finnegan, COME!"  I didn't realize until later, when I put the entire sequence together in my head, that he obviously was aching and sore and having a hard time getting up to go out - I was just so engrossed in my own bullshit, worried over my own morning checklist and timetable, I didn't even notice my best boy was having a hard time.  And if I go further back in this memory lane of self-hate - the days when we'd come home and he would be waiting there for us, and we'd blow into the house full of kids and to-do lists and walk right past him without much more than a "Hey Finn, you need to go out?" and we'd let him out, but then ignore him nearly completely until it was time to feed or walk him.  I noticed when he wasn't greeting us at the door any more, but I figured he was napping.  I didn't realize that those door-meet declines coincided with the slow mornings, or that our walks were gradually taking longer and longer, until it was just obvious, and then it was too late.  He deserved better than that.  I owed him more than that.

I want to defend myself, to tell how I was good to him, and to the other dogs in my life before him.  But then I remember that night on that walk, when I hurried him along when he must've been in pain, and I just hate myself.  

I had this ridiculous thought yesterday:  "Dog is God spelled backwards."
Then, "If the way we treat our dogs determines if we get into Heaven, I don't know if I'll get to go."
Then, just now, "If Finn is the one who determines if I get in or not, he'd let me in.  He was always so forgiving."

He used to love it when I'd squat down in front of him and hug him.  He'd lay his head on my shoulder or in the crook of my arm as long as I'd stay there, my face buried in his neck, my hands rubbing along his flank and back, telling him what a good boy he is and how much we love him.  I can almost smell his doggy smell, remembering it.  How soft his fur was, the way he'd lean into me.  I feel like if I get to meet him again, we'll do that, and I'll tell him all of this, and he'll understand, and he'll still love me like he always did.  In the meantime, though, I get to live with the memories, of both the good times and of when I was not a good friend to my best friend.







Friday, October 5, 2018

Scrapbooking

When I was a teenager, starting at 14, I kept a scrapbook. It wasn't full of cutesy stickers or pictures with scalloped edges, that wasn't a big thing until a few years later.  This one was a photo album, the kind made from a 3-ring binder full of pages that are sticky on each side and covered with a sheet of clear plastic, crafted into a baby book - you know, those things moms-to-be get at their baby showers and then keep in the box it came in, shoved in the closet or basement ,until you find it long after those babies are no longer babies and you stick it in the yard sale or donate it to goodwill?   This one was given to Momma when she was pregnant with Dylan.  It had a gender-neutral mother goose fabric and was trimmed with alternating blue and pink lace.  The fabric was quilted, and lightly stuffed, and had a picture-frame sleeve sewn into the front cover.  But, as a 14 year old girl suddenly with a new life outside of my family, I felt a primal urge to document the important and awesome things that were happening in my life, and it was full of those pages that are sticky on both sides, and so when I found it in the back room downstairs and mom said I could have it, cover be damned, this would fit the bill.  I called it "my book".  As in, "Do you want to come over and hang out and look at my book? I made a new page last night."  Or, "I have an entire page of my book devoted to him,"  or, "here, look at this page in my book, it'll explain how I feel better than out loud words can." 

I spent hours physically formatting pages with high-school class schedules and picture-day wallet-sized photos of my friends, cutting out, with normal straight-edge scissors, from-film pictures taken at Kat's house, at Drill meets, at family events, so I could paste them into my book. I pasted in Valentines from classmates, comic strips, and handwritten poems.  I poured over old copies of Readers Digest (from Granny & Pappaw's house) and cut out the best quotes that seemed so epiphanic, so important and new and big to my young 14 year old brain:

"We are born with our eyes closed and our mouths open, and spend our entire lives trying to correct that mistake of nature."

"The words penalty, restrict and violate appeared more times in President Clinton's health care bill than in his crime bill."

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us."

"An apology is the super glue of life; it can repair just about anything."

I drew pictures with pencil, practicing the shading skills I was learning in my freshman art class.  I cut article titles from Cosmopolitan (mine) and Home & Gardens and Woman's Day and Ladies Home Journal (all mom's) to paste into collages to express my heartache when my boyfriend kissed another girl.  I made pages filled with birthday cards from my aunts and grandparents and friends.  And more Reader's Digest quotes:

"When one finds himself in a hole of his own making, it is a good time to examine the quality of workmanship."

"Being defeated is often a temporary condition.  Giving up is what makes it permanent."

Newspaper articles from my friend's rappelling accident, the one that nearly killed him. 

There's a pretty definitive line where I find my dad's old Time Magazines.  All of a sudden, there's a political spin on the pages - they're not just about my day to day life, my relationship drama - there's all of those things, then you turn a page, and there's a black and white cartoon of a man holding a gun on a doctor who's standing between the legs of a pregnant woman who's lying on a table, and the doc is holding the pointed edge of a knife over her belly.  The caption says "Justifiable homicide?"  The question mark is in the shape of a fetus.  Other additions to this page include cut-outs of protest posters that read "choose life, abortion kils" and "why not kill the baby killers?"  The next page has pics of flag code violations titled "Do you salute the dog?" and a "Powell '96" button.  Turn the page -  A cartoon from 2/15/93 that shows a line of people waiting in front of a sign that reads "white house tour" - the guide says "The Clintons ask that there be no smoking in the white house."  one of the citizens in line asks, "What if we don't inhale?" 

TIME didn't change my scrapbooking style, but it definitely gave me a new facet of my opinions to explore.  The traditionally "women-focused" magazines I was drawing from didn't invite me to have a political opinion, and while I am appalled at much of what I apparently believed back in 1994, and while I know none of that was geared toward me, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for that first introduction into political conversation. 

I said all that to say this:  The girls who find their dad's old TIME magazines today are working with way better material than I ever had.  I'm going to go find a few copies of this one tomorrow to keep on hand.

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