Simone whacked Dexter with a broom until he dropped his cheeping treasure and slunk under the buffet. The cheeper was in rough shape–motionless for two hopeless minutes, then unable to do much beyond the occasional flutter. She searched for the means of its escape, in the end, grabbing a spatula and the real estate section of the Sunday paper.
One wing was askew, and one leg missing, leaving a small, black hole; still, she could not wring its neck. Instead,Simone placed it gently on the patio railingand turned away. She did not watch and wait, tail twitching.
After crying uncontrollably for an unspecified amount of time, sit down and talk with your kids about why we have three branches of government.
Pick something small that is annoying—like mismatched Tupperware, or a lost retainer–and throw all of your ire and frustration and hopelessness and devastation in that direction for a while, so you don’t have to think about the greater tragedy at hand.
Hug everyone you can find.
Have a glass of water and a sedative.
Contemplate the stars. Think of things that are true and good and will outlast this calamity.
Be ready for anything. Best case scenario: you are well-rested and patient, have a sense of humor and a full tank of gas, plenty of cash and Kleenex on hand, complete flexibility with your time, musical preferences, and volume tolerance, endless appetite for YouTube videos and Instagram feeds, a copy of Twilight, a portable charger, tasty, plentiful snacks, a working knowledge of 8th grade common core math concepts, endless sympathy and advice for tricky social and academic situations, and you don’t mind being completely ignored if none of the above is needed. Worst case scenario: you have a flask.
Acne, drama, self-doubt. Excessive mooning about. A variety of binges and very bad decisions.
I behaved irrationally, irresponsibly, disrespectfully, and the one I treated the worst was me.
Yet having a teenager may be even more terrifying.
Still plagued by acne and self-doubt, my lingering woes are compounded by close proximity to this raw lump of developing human–one who wears her disdain, depression, euphoria, and ill-founded bravado at the very surface. Nothing I can say or do will serve as salve. It is what it is–a tough row to hoe.
I’ve discovered that I need a lot more structure than I would like to admit. For a long time, I couldn’t even sit down at the keyboard unless someone told me what to write and when it was due. That worked well until I graduated; now I have to kick my own ass. After months of trying to write, and thinking about writing, and wishing I was writing, I publicly pledged to write 1,667 words a day for thirty days straight. It’s amazing. As the kind folks from National Novel Writing Month say, “The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.”
It’s working so well, I tried to give myself a daily photo challenge as well.
Unfortunately, I got out there today and had zero inspiration. The light was all wrong, I didn’t have enough time, and everything around me looked boring. I couldn’t make myself take a single photograph. This has happened before, countless times, but today the face of my crazy old drawing teacher appeared. I remembered him looking at a stack of my lifeless drawings and saying, “I think you’re going to need to take off your glasses. The way you’re looking at things is interfering with the way you are seeing.” Say what?
Well, I wasn’t about to take off my glasses today. I’m blind, blind, blind, and the last thing I wanted to do was run into a tree with my camera or trip over a car. So, I threw that contraption out of focus instead. While I’m not completely sold on any of the resulting images, the process was transformed. The world was boiled down into geometry and light, and suddenly I wanted come out and play.
Parenting is dangerous work. Kids will do, throw, and say things that make it impossible to watch where you are going, by foot or by car. Thanks to legions of alert drivers ahead and behind, we have avoided countless close calls. Small people seem strangely intent on committing suicide. They throw themselves off of slides and into the street on a regular basis. They eat rocks and shiny metal objects. They put small round things up their nose. They choke on all manner of harmless-looking food items. Meanwhile, schlepping their tiny bodies and their disproportionate mounds of accompanying crap screws up your back and shoulders. Even playing with them can be treacherous. I once threw out my neck playing Oogie Boogie. I got physically stuck in a maze of tunnels ten feet off the ground while pregnant with #2. No one had explained that being pregnant while raising a toddler is a Herculean task. Instead of resting when you get sick or tired, you take a whiney child to the zoo, and carry them around when they refuse to walk or sit in the stroller. The needs of a pregnant woman and her eighteen month old are diametrically opposed. As they get older, they start to walk reliably, but it’s still dicey. That last round of spanky tag got so heated I twisted my ankle and had some discomfort sitting down to ice it for the next hour or so.
Yet long-term sleep deprivation is by far the most hazardous aspect of parenting. It endangers life, limb, sanity, and all personal relationships. You snap at your spouse. You can’t tell your friends from your frenemies. You become bitter and stupid. You can’t finish a thought, let alone a sentence. You drop things, spill things, break things, and lose things, especially your shit. I once got out of the car while it was running to wander around and rummage in the trunk. It took a moment before I realized that the car was still in reverse and careening backwards down Potrero Hill with my babbling child inside. As I stared dumbly at the unfolding debacle, I knocked myself over with the door I had left open. Though secretly impressed by my wonder woman leap to the rescue of surrounding people and property, I never told anyone about the incident until now. I’m pretty sure it is more indicative of my stupidity than any sort of heroism, but it does illustrate nicely why sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique. You become completely unglued and irrational.
As you may know, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, which means I have to spew 1,667 words every single day during the month of November. Also, the words are supposed to relate to each other in a sort of novel-y way. Not just meaningless blather. Still, a portion of what is excreted each day is serious crap. Finding a fresh little nugget to excerpt each day looks to be a bit of a challenge. Furthermore, I don’t have many words left after all that. I seem to hit my quota and then HIT THE WALL, so squeezing 400 more words out of me in not a possibility. Consequently, I have a NEW and IMPROVED plan for my daily post challenge. I will post a photograph. This makes me happy. I get to dust off my camera.