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Diary Rings

Can we just jump to January please? - 2014-11-14
A (don't kick the) Bucket List - 2014-10-28
Put THIS in your pipe and DON'T smoke it! - 2014-10-23
Max, Wolf, and the goats - 2014-10-15
Maloney for Congress - 2014-10-08

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3:18 p.m. - 2014-01-23
Take Two and why it's different this time.

Someone in the neighborhood is running a lawnmower. Not a chainsaw or a snow thrower, a lawnmower. There's a distinct sound to each of those and it's a lawnmower for certain. It took me a bit to twig why, there's several inches of snow out there and the grass is good and buried so what would anyone need a lawnmower for? Then I remembered the plow. One of the neighbors owns a mighty-sized ride-on mower and has a plow attachment for it. This tickles me. I'm all about multi-purposing and turning a seasonal tool into a year-round one is damn clever. I like life hacks. One multi-purpose trick I do myself is putting tights into my salad spinner. My bras are far too cumbersome and my panties are utilitarian cotton thus dryer-friendly, but tights? Those require some careful laundering. After hand-washing them in the sink (or with me in the shower) and squeezing the water out I whirr them around in the salad spinner. The tights come out nearly bone-dry. No more pitter-patter of hose hanging in the bathroom to drip-dry. No more scorching and ruining the elastic by baking them above a radiator.

I have to give my mother snaps here. No, she didn't teach me the salad spinner trick I thought of that myself, but she did teach me how to care for clothes so they'd last and last and never look shabby and worn. She wasn't pleasant or kind or very smart but she did know her shit when it came to grooming. And caring for one's clothes was a large part of that. My mother also taught me how to shop and were she still alive I know she'd mourn with me over Loehmann's going out of business. Man, the open dressing room alone should have merited National Treasure status. At once scary, hilarious, and educational- no secret was safe, no faux modesty permitted. You stripped down and tried on your stuff in front of everybody. Strangers in nothing but a bra and pantyhose (with huge matted pubes quite blithely on display through the nylon) gave their opinions. Dresses and sweaters were passed hand to hand because if it wasn't right for you the slim redhead over there would look darling in it! Loehmann's gave the broke with upscale tastes somewhere to get that 'It' coat, that exclusive dress. Sure the designer labels were snipped out and you paid for your bargain with that open dressing room and the crowded harshly lit garage sale of a sales floor, but you could also leave with a Dior cocktail dress for $16. RIP, Loehmann's, you served us well.

Mick and I are getting our taxes done tonight. I'm sad. Herb, our most excellent tax guy retired. Guess it was time, the man is 80, but he knew his stuff. Tonight we meet Warren and turn our tax preparation needs over to him. 'Warren'. Not a name with happy associations for me. Yes I have a beloved friend with a son named Warren, but for me the name is forever tainted by Buffy. Horrible Warren- leader of the Trio, misogynist extraordinaire, murderer of Tara and Katrina, exemplification of everything wrong with tiny little males with oversized expectations of what the world (ie: women) owe them just by dint of being born with a penis. To turn my tax prep over to one with such an unhealthy name is upsetting. I'm sure it'll be fine, our 1040 isn't complex nor do our deductions and tax credits require 'creative' explanations. But I'm leery anyhow.

Wolf has been most diligent about prepping for his re-take of the algebra Regents. So much so that I got a letter from the guidance department of his culinary school informing me of Wolf's repeated absences on Fridays. I just spoke with his counselor and explained how Wolf wasn't cutting culinary class for kicks. My kid is doing what he has to so he's prepped and well able to pass this most important exam. Fortunately the counselor understood and was helpful. Explained that Wolf needed documentation for his file from his test prep teacher and then everything was copacetic Paperwork over common sense always.

I hid it well but on my end I teared up to hear the pride and delight in Wolf's guidance counselor's voice. Mr Anderson genuinely likes my kid. He's pulling for Wolf to excel not just at culinary school but with his academics as well. My former wild child. The kid who landed in in-school suspension at least three times a week. The kid who told his second grade to teacher to (and I quote) "To go fuck herself". The one who bit his fourth grade teacher and then ran down the halls pulling fire alarms.

Good Lord, it's been so hard!

To know that my son is now one of the 'good kids'. He's thought of as conscientious, respectful, and honest, wow, it kills me.

Alex gut-shot me and bitched me out about all the ways I failed him. He's been very clear about all the ways I let him down. How awful and incompetent I was. How lousy I was at meeting his needs. At what an utter failure I'd been at giving him what he wanted so he'd be okay. This despite his class rings, solid home, musical instruments, yearbooks (which he never bothered to take with him and live on my bedroom bookcase still), Varsity letters, a Varsity jacket, 20 years of family dinners, teaching him everything from how to body surf to how to play poker, his getting a Regents diploma, a wholly paid for bachelor's degree and a master's degree he worked for himself, plus owning a rental property and his own home before his 30th birthday, and having a wide circle of friends and a satisfying social life and a life-partner who thinks he's everything wonderful, yet I let him down utterly. I'm not sure what else Alex was entitled to but be assured I failed in providing it. Just ask him.

Then there's Wolf. The kid I never expected. The one who's humbled, exhausted, and frustrated me so many times I lost count. Peace of mind, sense of self, gone. I cleaned out my life savings to pay for his hospitalization and beggared myself to pay for his counseling and meds. I was tapped out emotionally and financially by the time he was 7, and still doubt my worth and abilities on a daily basis nine years later. Yet this son leaves me love notes on the fridge. I'm surprised by candy bars on my desk. He kisses me in public and introduces me to his teachers and friends with pride. For my birthday on Tuesday he gave me a crown. According to Wolf his mom should wear a crown.

What?

After the mess I made with Alex and my ex's unequivocal disparagement of my worth as wife and mother I was ready to throw in the towel. Then came Wolf. And Mick. And these two love me utterly.

I know I am supposed to be for my own self. To know and own my worth regardless of what others say, even if they're people I married or gave birth to. But you tell me how.

'God: [answering Tracy's question about why there is so much suffering in the world] I know this sounds like a cop-out, Tracy, but there's nothing I can do about pain and suffering. It's built into the system.
Tracy Richards: Which You invented.
God: Right. But my problem was I could never figure out how to build anything with just one side to it.
Tracy Richards: One side?
God: You ever see a front without a back?
Tracy Richards: No.
God: A top without a bottom?
Tracy Richards: No.
God: An up without a down?
Tracy Richards: No.
God: OK. Then there can't be good without bad, life without death, pleasure without pain. That's the way it is. If I take sad away, happy has to go with it.

I got my sad first. I understood bad long before Life let me have any good. Not an exceptional story. Plenty of folk understand and have lived the same way. And a lot of them never get the happy as I have. But still...


I know we don't get do-overs but I can wish we knew things beforehand, ~LA

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