Thursday, May 26, 2016

I Have Utterly Failed As a Parent

The other night when I was getting my kids ready for bed, my super-human mom instincts sounded an alarm.

I was washing Mikey's hands from all the filth floren filth he picks up throughout the course of a day and a single olfactory cell picked up a hint of...cigarette.

I froze, gripping his sudsy fingers, boring my eyes into his blue traps of mischief. His eyes widened the longer I studied him, every hair on the back of my neck rising as I processed the RED FLAG that had suddenly hoisted itself in front of me.

Unfortunately, people smoke. It's gross.  I don't deny that when I see people smoking I want to slap the cigarette out of their hands, take a drag myself and then squash it on the ground while telling them about black lungs and cancer and didn't they go to school???

Mind you, it was only in the past 6 years that I stopped having the occasional courtesy cigarette with my Bud Light. So, I'm a total hypocrite.

But, my son is 5 years old.

"Michael," I said, slowly, "did you touch a cigarette today?"  My mind flashed images of Jeff's employees tossing a stray butt down at the quarry or Mikey's paternal grandfather absently leaving a crushed marlboro somewhere in the driveway- somplace where a curious Mikey might pick it up, put it to his lips and pretend to smoke it.

My child looked at me, astonished and shook his head.  I didn't believe  him.

"Michael," I tried again. "I smell a cigarette.  Why do I smell a cigarette?"

The absurdity of accusing my 5 year old, just learning to ride a bike, pre-school aged child about a god-damned fag was not lost to me.  Even more absurd was when he started half laughing half shouting back at me:

"I DID NOT TOUCH A CIGARETTE MOM!"  The windows were open.  God, what in the hell did the neighbors think about us??

Now I was having trouble holding back a smile.  Giggles erupted out of Mikey and I did my best to hold back.

New tactic.

"Mikey, baby," I said, lovingly.  "You're not in trouble.  It's okay to be curious about cigarettes and wonder what they are.  It's okay to touch a cigarette and look at it, just tell mama.  I'm not mad."

He hesistated a moment before deciding to trust me.

"Okay, okay.  I didn't pick it up, I just kicked it down the hill."

My brain shouted: POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT. POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT!!

Yes, yes, I nodded to myself.

"Good job, Mikey.  I'm so glad you did that because you wouldn't want your brothers to find it.  That was a good thing for a big brother to do."

I then went on to remind him all the things we have learned about cigarettes in our young life.  They are bad.  They make your lungs black.  You can't run fast.  You smell bad.  Mama doesn't like them. They make mama cry.

Fast forward three nights.

Having spent hardly any time with the boys in the last three days with my insane work schedule, I decide to lay with each of them in bed and share stories of our day.

Joseph gurgles and pulls my hair.

Sam asks when I am not going to go to work anymore and stay home with him forever?

Now that my middle child has just made me feel really great as a working mother (sarcasm), I lay down with Michael.

I ask him what he did today.  He tells me he planted seeds at school and played with a new friend.

I asked him if he kissed anyone or anyone kissed him.  No, he says, not today.

I can't help myself when I ask finally, "did you touch any cigarettes today?"  He laughs and shakes his head no but then confesses in a rush of excitement.

"But I want too!  I want to smoke one!"

Sucker kicked in the womb he came out of.  What in the fuck?  I have to say, I think I handled it okay.  I wrapped my arms around him and buried my head against his neck and told him I would cry forever- never stop crying- if he smoked.

"Ugh," he sighed before petting my head. "Okay, mom.  I won't.  I promise."

Where did I go wrong?  I've supplied him with an education.  I provide a non-smoking example.  A non-smoking house.  I encourage him to ask family members who smoke why they do it.  I want him to make his own decision.

As long as it's my decision.

I need a f-ing cigarette.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

When 2015 Gives You Pink Eye, Put Breastmilk In It

2 Days till Christmas and all of us look a little something like this:


But 2015 wouldn't go out any other way, man.  Me and 2015, we are tighter than any other previous year of my life.

2015 gave me some things I never knew I needed. 

It gave me goals.  It gave me courage, strength and battle scars.  It gave me my family for the foreseeable future.  It also gave me a future independent of my family- a life raft dinging along next to me incase I ever feel 2015 alone again, I might not drown. 

7 days into the best year of my life, two incredible things happened: I found out I was pregnant with our 3rd child and ten hours later, Jeff had a violent brain hemorrhage.  

4 days after that, exploratory brain surgery discovered a small tumor... 

January was a dark month for me.  Lots of emotions and contemplation's came and went from my mind and psyche: abortion, suicide, murder, cancer, rage, hopelessness...I felt as though Life had hunted us down and focused the heated beam of it's magnifying glass directly on us.

Without many answers, we pushed on into February.  Jeff had to re-learn how to walk.  I had to learn how to stand up even when grief repeatedly shoves you down. 

Somewhere between driving back and forth from home to the re-hab hospital, I resolved not to let the unanswered questions regarding Jeff's health paralyze me from securing a more stable future for my family.  I decided to go back to school and after writing a letter to the graduate professor at UCONN I was accepted into their graduate Neurophysiology program.  

Meanwhile, Jeff went from not being able to get out of bed, to running a 5k.  He went from not knowing what Hospital he was in or what his address was, to building his business even bigger than it was before- now only forgetting to eat and let the dog back into the house after he lets her out to pee. 


I graduated with a 3.9 GPA and on the last day of class, the professor privately told me he thought there might be a position for me at his company.  I was interested and applied after I had the baby. 

The baby.  I was certain after experiencing so much stress and turmoil in utero he would come out with some kind of health issues, but true to his name he came out Strong and healthy.


6 Days after labor and delivery I went on my first interview for work and scored a position working as part of a unit who reports to the Neurology team, including Jeff's Neurosurgeon.  A few weeks later when I met the whole group, they shook my hand and told me my 6 day post labor interview was "heard round the world." 

And finally, after repeated MRI's and testing, 9 months later, we have some answers.  Jeff's medical team thinks the whole tumor was removed and we might never see it again.  

Together, Jeff and I have ruled 2015.  But there is something else.  All of you- family, friends, even complete strangers, helped us through it.  If one event shows you just how deep the human experience can be, it also shows you how hard those around you will work to keep you afloat.  

And one thing I'll never forget.  As many times as I hit my knees in sorrow and shock, in the back of my mind I was always aware that somewhere there was someone suffering more than me.  Not only is that thought oddly comforting, it also provides inspiration in dark times. If those people have the strength to carry on, then you must too. 

If I hadn't found out I was pregnant on the morning of January 7th, 2015, Jeff might not have come home early to see how I was feeling.  If he hadn't had his brain hemorrhage, that tumor would still be hiding in his brain, growing.  If he hadn't had a brain tumor, I might not have gone back to school.  If I hadn't gone back to school I wouldn't have the skills necessary to support my family- although I had a pretty good prostitution plan going...

And Jeff.  He says he got the easy part of the deal but I know how hard he worked/works and I'll never forget it.  It is inspiring and an example to live by.  His importance as a father and as my best friend could never be made as clear as it was when I thought I was going to loose him. 

So if 2015 wants to give us pink eye on it's way out, I'll thank it kindly, and treat it with breastmilk. And I'll reach back to January 7th Lindsay and tell her, by December 23rd, you will be grateful for this year.  Fist bump...explosion. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My Husband Is a Sicko

A couple of weeks ago, Jeff came home with some old pictures.  I watched him smile as he flipped through them.

"What are they of?" I asked, holding the new baby.
"Just a Gettysburg trip my aunt and uncle took me on when I was 12."  He turned one around and I saw him and one of his brothers walking down a sidewalk in mustard yellow Starter sweatshirts and Nike shoes.
I giggled at his just about to enter adolescence face and wondered the same thing I always did when I saw younger pictures of him, "would we have been friends if we met at that age?"

Jeff smirked and put the picture back in the massive pile, folded them up and put all of them on top of the fridge.

"That's it?" I asked.  "Out of all those pictures that's all I get to see?"
"There aren't any more of me- just stuff at Gettysburg I thought was cool.  Nothing good."

I raised my eyebrow.  Jeff should know by now not to say something like that.  He went upstairs and what do you think I did?
 
I got a chair and got the pictures down.  Why wouldn't Jeff want me to see these, I wondered. What kind of shit is in here, I mumbled as I opened the faded paper package.  I wanted to see what 12 year old Jeff took pictures of, what did he think was worth capturing at that moment of his life?

Two pictures deep and I realized what Jeff meant.  Inside were horrific images.  Wax figures from the Civil War in all states of distress.  


What the F?  My stomach curled and my heart beat faster.  Everything was dark and muted.  I could imagine the smell of the dusty, moldy old museum.  What invisible demons inside my young husband had been so enamored of these ghastly scenes that he had been compelled to push his pointer finger down and snap a picture?

Just as I thought I couldn't bear to see one more shiny faced wax figure in a gruesomely silent act of violence or death, I came across something I couldn't believe.  MYSELF.


I stared for a minute.  Two minutes.  It couldn't be, but it was!  Jeff, at 12, had taken a picture of me- of everything he dreamed in a future wife.  What kind of boy is subconsciously looking for his future wife at a Gettysburg wax museum???

Gathering the pictures together, I put the baby down and ran up the stairs, determined to confront him about his wax horrorography.

The office door was open and I plopped the Kodak pouch down next to him.
"Get these fucking pictures out of this house."  I threatened him.  Jeff leaned back in his chair and started laughing.

"I told you not to look at them," he teased, loving the fearful look he saw on my face.

"What is wrong with you?" I chastized.  "Those pictures are terrifying!"  I choked.  "And maybe the most fucked up thing is the picture on top!"  Jeff glanced down at the woman kneading bread.  He cocked his head lovingly at her.

"Why?" He asked.  "She's just baking bread for her husband.  What's wrong with that?"

I put my hands on my hips.

"You know exactly what's wrong with that!  That's a picture of me!  You are a freak, man!  That is when you decided to marry me.  At 12!  At a Gettysburg museum!  That's a picture of me!!"  Jeff looked again at the picture, laughing.  He paused for a split-second as he realized the uncanny resemblance.

"Baby, you're much prettier," he tried.  But he couldn't- and doesn't- deny that when he saw that woman- he had somewhere in his little Jeff heart fallen in love and began creating me in his mind.  That's why when he met ME


He knew instantly he wanted to marry me.  Sicko.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Who Is Going To Clean Up This Mess?


This picture is proof that I have lost all purpose in life now that school is over.  I sat in that chair at 9am this morning stuffing my face with popcorn and pinteresting dinner ideas.

Depressing.  WTF.  I don't remember feeling this dissatisfied with being a partial stay-at-home mom before going back to school, but now that I have graduated and proved myself successful in graduate academia, home just isn't cutting it anymore.

I texted that picture to Jeff, mourning my freedom and personal growth while I wait to hear back from potential employers and he laughed.

"You're going to miss having 'nothing to do,'" he warned.  I've had "nothing," to do for three working days so far and returning to this now-seeming stationary position makes me want to barf.  I miss the stress of getting the kids up, fed and off to the day-care lady.  I miss working hard for eight hours a day and receiving feedback for work well done.  I miss competing to be the best- although that competition is still on-going as I am job-hunting- sharpening my carnivorous spear.  

I miss the commute.  The lack of air-conditioning in my car.  The freedom to speculate on my future and potential in the medical arena.  But three days back into home-life and I'm dreading the laundry, the dishes, the activities and the omnipresent daily dinner dilemma.

Good Lord, I think I need to set up a tinder account.  I'm dying to swipe left and right (I still don't really know which way does what) but I love viewing profiles and trying to decide if the person is worth committing adultery for.

I get why housewives do all sorts of f-ed up shit, man.  They're bored.  They need to feel some type of abandon- digital or physical- to feel like an individual.

The dog eventually caught wind of the scattered salty remains and gobbled them up.  Licking and snapping her jaws in pleasure, Jeff says she loves it when I'm feeling depressed.

Thank God I had grocery shopping and Jeff's laundry to do or else I might have felt directionless all day.  Such important tasks are invigorating to the soul.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Turtles and Gorillas

Every day at UCONN I almost get hit by a car.

There are about a million crosswalks and the rules are very clear; pedestrians have the right of way. Now, I'm not some dick who steps out when a car is coming- first of all I'm not fast enough for that in my condition but I've had so many close calls I wait until I can hear crickets before tenderly stepping out and then padding like a obesely pregnant iguana across the hot tar.

Even still, every day is like a Ninja warrior course.

So yesterday, when I was driving on campus I saw a couple of police cruisers, lights flashing, pulled over at a cross walk.  People were stopped and some were getting out of their cars to take pictures.

"Oh my God, I thought, someone got hit by a car." I imagined the poor pedestrian trapped under the undercarriage of a undergrads BMW and cringed.  Something needs to be done about this, I thought, as one of the officers waved me forward.

That was when I saw it.  A turtle.  A fucking turtle was crossing the road.  In the crosswalk, which I find amazing- how did the little guy know???  I grit my teeth and felt both joy that people cared so much about nature that they would stop traffic and jealously that this shelled lizard garnered hoards of concern while my almost cooked fetus couldn't so much as get someone to slow down.  WTF.  I considered squashing it for a split second but I could see headlines on the TODAY show: PREGNANT WOMAN SMASHES INNOCENT TURTLE IN VINDICTIVE RAGE.  I hate the TODAY show.

But whatever, I love God's tiniest creatures.

Then today, I was reading an article that hooked my attention. It was about a Gorilla and the women in Japan who flock to see him because they think he is handsome.

Why this is interesting to me:

1.) Japan has a documented, unprecedented low sex rate/birth rate/marriage rate among their 20-30 year age group.  It is so bad it could cause a global crisis.  Sexual apathy is not natural to our species so when I read that a gorilla is getting a sexual response from women who are shying away from their own male selection, I was fascinated.

2.) Sex is social and fluid and you can't define a set of rules as to what you find attractive at any period in your life.  Certain features we find sexy on a modern day man could very well be considered attractive on a different species.  I had to check him out.

Meet Shabani.  He is an 18 year old male gorilla.



At first I wanted to say, "well, this is probably happening in Japan because of the cultural sexual phenomenon, he can't really be found attractive."  But then I started to see the features that could be considered desirable .  He has broad shoulders, is in peak physical condition, appears moody, has a pronounced Zygomatic bone and if you read the article, find out that he is a protective, doting father. What's not to like?  The freaking Gorilla is handsome.

Jeff thinks the pressure of school, pregnancy and raising my own monkeys has finally broken me and I need a vacation.  He laughed his way out to his truck as I tried to explain to him how it could be that this hunky, eat your face off Gorilla could be causing such a stir among the ladies (and probably the men too but I haven't found an article yet).  But I stuck to my guns. Despite having a frontal cortex that is not as developed as ours, and a lack of peacock genital display (modern man evolved to proudly sport their junk- whereas you can hardly see the gorillas)- Shabani is a pretty good looking gorilla. And for women in Japan, who may not have the best selection- many Japanese men are depressed physically and economically- it is easy to see why women have found stimulation outside of their species.  When in Rome.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

If My Hand Was a Soap Dish, His Penis Was The Soap

This last weekend we were driving to visit family when my phone kept blowing up.

"It's your sister again," Jeff said, checking the text.  "She wants the name of your last massage therapist.  Want me to text it to her?"

I bit my lip and kept staring at the road, trying to decide what to do.

My last massage.  It was definitely the best of my life.  I had specifically requested a male therapist and he had been able to bend and twist my body with a controlled strength that no female masseuse had ever been able to muster.  Not only was he able to contort and manipulate muscles normally seized by stress but while exposing these deep crevasses he was able to strategically coax them into ecstatic release, relieving my tension like the pop of a strained middle button.

"What is going on here," Jeff mused, peering at my silent face, a smile pulling at the corner of his mouth.  "Your sister has been asking for this for a few weeks.  Why don't you just tell her already?  Something weird is going on. Spit it out."

The memory of that split second forty minutes or so into my other worldly experience brushed against the side of my hand again.  That flaccid skin.  Elastic yet soft, like no other dermis on the human body.

"Because," I hissed, stifling a giggle as I glanced at Jeff's expectant face.  "I think he put his penis in my hand."

"What?!!" Jeff cried, laughing.  "What the fuck?"

"I'm not 100% sure," I said, "I didn't look, but I think while my face was cradled in that hole of the massage table he flopped it out and pressed it momentarily against the side of my upturned palm."

"And you think it was his dick?"  He asked.  I nodded.

"I mean, it could have been a really well moisturized section of his wrist, or maybe his thumb has baby-like flesh that feels moldable."  I think I know a dong when I feel one.

By now we were both in hysterics.

"Jesus," Jeff muttered, "This happened near Christmas time, why didn't you tell me?"

I rolled my eyes at him.

"I needed time to process it.  I mean, it might not have been what I think it was.  And, even if it was what I think it was, in the list of penile assaults, this one was very non-threatening."  A disturbing image of Pee-Wee Herman flashed in my mind.

Jeff looked at me like I had horns growing out of my head.

"Good God, on an average day how often do you get assaulted by penises?  What else aren't you telling me?"

I waved him off.  Mentally, I was still weighing the amazing massage against the non-proven incident.  Still, did I want to knowingly send my sister to a man who may get his kicks in that sickening way?  Despite the funny matching stories we might share I decided to spare her and told Jeff to tell her.

"This stuff could only happen to you," he joked.  The phone buzzed repeatedly.  Jeff flashed the texts open.  "Your sister says WTF, she already made the appointment."


Needless to say, she didn't get the same therapist.  And because I have a sick sense of humor, this story is funny (mostly because I only suspect- if I KNEW it was actually a penis, I would be sounding the trumpets of justice to save all the other unknowing women and men who visit the establishment) also, I'm 33 years old.  Old enough to have been beaten down by numerous penis's in my life.  When prepared, I can shield them off like an experienced Knight, but even now, after years of experience deflecting and hiding, those sneaky little bastards can still find me vulnerable.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What Do A Stripper, Jack London and a Pit Bull Have in Common?

Strange things happen when you are suddenly a mom of three looking at potentially having to try and survive on your own.

Dark things.

The first time I romantically fantasized about freezing to death in the poetic way of Jack London, was during the early January blizzard that shut down the state.  I couldn't get to the hospital to see Jeff and consumed by a paranoid frenzy something terrible would happen if I didn't shovel inch by inch as it fell, the snow isolated me physically during a time I felt emotionally stranded.

I dressed up in my full snow gear and went outside.  The grey clouds and white-out conditions blocked out the sun and it was impossible to know the time. I shoveled like a mad-man and when I stopped, I fell backwards into the snow and closed my eyes.  The wind blew at me like it was trying to administer CPR and tiny shards of sharp snow crystals stung my flushed face.

Under the loving eyes of my stepmother and sister, the kids were inside running around the house making ambulance noises.  Still processing that terrible night.  Still suffering from the trauma of witnessing half of their tiny, trusted sphere, convulsing on the floor, fighting an invisible enemy. And here, their mother, the only other person in the whole universe that helps them make sense of the world, was laying on the frozen ground, believing for a whole ten minutes that if she just let the winter entomb her tired body and broken heart, everything would be better.  Like a lead weight at the bottom of the ocean, useless to help herself and even more pathetically incompetent to comfort her babies.

Somewhere in that place, while you are flirting with Jack London, running your ungloved hand down his icy beard, part of you still clings to hope.  But it's not the kind with unicorns and pink, sunny colors.  It's the only kind of optimism that can grow in such a desperate place and it reeks like the open sewage of India's poorest cities. And it doesn't provide a road to joy and happiness, just a path to surviving the next minute, and if you reach for it, like a drowning victim strains for a life raft, it will float you from terrible idea to terrible idea as your brain does everything it can to keep you breathing and trying and fighting.

That's when I decided I might be a stripper.  Or maybe an escort.  A high end escort.  Or maybe I'll just dress up like I care about my image and visit the high roller section of the nearby casino.  A prostitute.  But I don't want to get murdered so who would go with me and pat the John's down before hand and then wait outside the hotel door? How much money can I make and how quickly can I make it so that I can pay the bills and still be home for my kids?  The idea was just enough to get me up and out of the snow, motivated by the need to research what it takes to at least be a stripper.

I joked to my sister and family that my stripper name would be, "Slightly Below Average Looking Mom." Weeks later, when I told Jeff my plan, he laughed and said it sounded like a great idea except that I would never be able to maintain that kind of shaving/hygiene routine- "it just isn't you." But it got me out of the cold.  A stripper's heart shook off the snow.  A prostitutes determination led me back into the house and a woman's ability to adapt in the face of seemingly unsurmountable odds allowed me to wrap my children in coat warmed arms.

So, when you've visited such places- and corners far deeper- is it any wonder you turn into the most territorial of beings when any piece of your new life seems to hint at instability? That I jump to the defense of my husband because with his survival is also my ability to tread just above the shark-infested waters of my grief?  And Jack, still occasionally caressing my ear with his frigid, hungry whisper, reminding me that nothing is forever and unless I want to finish what we started, I better find a way to keep out the cold.