Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Teenager Redux.

So, as it turns out, Erica had an excellent reason for drenching herself in perfume.

She needed to hide the smell of the marijuana and cigarettes she'd been smoking at lunch. 

I wish I was kidding. My eighth grader has been leaving campus with a group of friends at lunch time (not allowed) and getting high. (SO not allowed.) 

I've known about this for a few weeks now. I dropped off Twitter and blogging and the internet in general because I was so angry and frustrated and sad. I needed to vent, but every time I tried to write it down, I just got so caught up in it that my writing became a tangled mess. I'm a little bit calmer now, so I'm gonna try to get it off my chest.

Part of why this is such a big deal is that I quit working outside of the home back in November in order to provide more safety for Erica. There was a spate of crimes against children in our area, targeting two of the local schools, one of which was Erica's. There was a man who tried to grab a girl, (that was particularly scary as she was with one friend and in sight of several others when it happened, but the man was not deterred by witnesses.) but she was able to break free and run to safety. There was a man found in a car, masturbating while watching the kids walking to school. He was less than a block from the school--he could see the front door of the building from where he was parked.  There was another case on the same street of a man trying to lure a girl to his car, and when she glanced at him, he flashed her. Again, within sight of the school, at a time of day when the area is quite busy. Then, finally, on our street, a girl was snatched and raped in the restroom of the park. A girl from my daughter's school. A 13-year-old girl, walking home from school, on our street.

Other than the masturbator, who has an alibi for the times of the other crimes, no one has been apprehended.

Since she started middle school, we've always dropped Erica off in the morning, and she walked home. As incidents stacked up, Husband and I decided we couldn't take the chance. We can get by (juuuuust) on his income and the tiny bit of freelance I get for helping out a former coworker with clerical work for his business. I started staying home so that I could pick her up in the afternoon. I'm looking for a job that will let me work just mornings and early afternoon so that I can both work and chauffeur, but no luck so far.

To sum up: The world around us suddenly seemed dangerous for our child, so we made an enormous financial sacrifice to keep her safe.

Which she repaid by leaving the school, walking down the street where a girl was almost grabbed and another was flashed, cutting through the park where a classmate was raped, and to a local shopping center, where she and her friends sought out abandoned nooks and crannies and got high.

We have no idea how often she's done this. She admitted to six or seven times over the last three months, but quite frankly, I no longer believe a single word that comes from her mouth. You know, I've never been the type of mother who got all bent out of shape when someone reported bad behavior from one of my children. I check out the situation, assess the justness of the accusation and go from there. But Erica is so smart, and has always seemed so level-headed, that if anyone, anyone in the world, had called me up and told me that they saw her smoking pot, I would have laughed. Sorry, you must be mistaken. No way would Erica do such a thing. And I would have been wrong.

That's the worst part of it to me. My own sense of judgment regarding my child, my own sense of what kind of person she is, is totally wrong. What's my problem, that I couldn't see that she is clearly not who I thought she was?

It was pure luck that she got caught. A teacher happened to look out his window and see the three girls returning to school. He called me, and when he mentioned who she was with, a bell rang in my head. I remembered talking to another parent about that girl, and the other parent saying that she wouldn't let her daughter sleep over with (let's call her) Jane, because Jane had been suspended after being caught with a joint. So, when I confronted Erica about leaving school, just on a long shot I said "So what were you doing, anyway? Getting high?" She gasped and her face turned white. "You were, weren't you?" I said, my stomach dropping. She nodded. A search of her room turned up a pipe. 

So, her smartphone was confiscated, iPod and Nintendo DS taken away, passwords on the home computer changed, so she can no longer access the internet. She had tons of skype sessions with Jane, and text messages between the two talking about whether to leave on a given day or not. We made her write down the names of every kid who skipped school and got high with her, which we are basically holding ransom, and here is where people are going to find controversy with the way I'm handling this. The school doesn't know about the drug use. So, neither do the other parents, unless they also managed to wring a confession. I was torn on this, because I felt like I should let the other moms know, but once I thought about how I would have reacted to an unknown parent calling to tell me my kid was getting high with theirs, I couldn't see it doing any good. More importantly, there is a kind of rough element at Erica's school, and I have very real concerns about her getting hurt if she's tagged as a rat. When I told Erica I wanted names, she panicked. She was terrified of being labeled a snitch. We're using that fear to our advantage. If she leaves school again, we will let the school know the whole story, and we will contact the other parents, and things will be very difficult for her. 

After a very long evening of lecturing, arguing and crying on everyone's part, Erica was sent to bed. I took her to school the next day, and spoke with the Dean of Discipline. She was given lunch detention for two weeks, meaning she had to check in with the detention monitor within five minutes of the lunch bell, and then had to sit at the detention table until lunch was over. She was warned that if she was ever late, let alone failed to show up, I had more than enough time in my day to drop by the school at lunch time and sit with her. Can you imagine anything worse for a middle-schooler? I wanted her in detention the rest of the year, but the school balked at that, which honestly annoyed me. They didn't know that three to five of the 13 year olds they're responsible for during the day have been leaving at will for god knows how long, but they're gonna get fussy about extra monitoring of one of the guilty? Fine, whatever. Now, every day at 11:55 I leave the house and drive to the school, and watch the exits. God help that kid if I see her leaving.

Paranoid? Yeah, a bit. Because the very next day after this all went down, Erica skipped a class. It was the class right after lunch, and she was angry about the lunch detention, and angry that her friends weren't being punished the same, and so she and Jane hid out in a bathroom for all of fifth period. Which I found out because if a child is absent, tardy or marked absent in one class but not another, the school calls. The only good thing about Erica's attempt to be a delinquent is that she folds immediately upon questioning.

I have no idea what to do with her. I'm so angry at the lack of judgment she's displayed, at the blatant disregard for our rules-I just don't know what to do. If the whole debacle is mentioned, Erica gets all eye-rolly and whips out what Sundry recently referred to as audible italics--"What? You guys are STILL mad about that? Jeez." (Second paragraph of a fantastic post. Go read it, I'll wait.) I'm not a corporal punishment kind of parent, but I'd be lying if I said I haven't flat out fantasized about smacking her across the face when she does that.

I know there are a bunch of you reading right now, wondering what this kid is acting out about and the answer is...nothing. She says she liked the group of girls that were doing this. Apparently they are cool. She wanted to be part of the action. 

Yes, her father and I divorced, but we managed to keep all the assholery way under radar, and to even be friendly with each other post-divorce, let alone civil. Both of us have remarried, to people who never had kids of their own and have been happy to be instant parents. She gets tons of time at both households, and lots of time with extended family. His family does all the Americana sort of things-Easter egg hunts, Memorial Day at the lake, Fourth of July barbecues, big family parties. Our household does the zoo and aquarium at least once a year (I love the zoo, and will use any excuse to go there.) We try to see one theatrical production a year, though we were foiled this year when the only show we were interested in sold out before I realized tickets were one sale. We try to do some kind of "high culture" thing every month, whether it's a fine dining restaurant or a visit to an art museum, or just picking a cool neighborhood and exploring its coffee shops and bookstores.She wants books or art supplies? We buy them. Between the two households, we've tried to give her a very well-rounded human experience, and there is more than enough love and affection to go around. I have no idea what she could possibly be rebelling against.

So here we are. I have no idea where to go from here. Once the school year ends, she's going to spend a couple of weeks with my mother, and then a big chunk of the summer at her dad's. She's going to be supervised every minute of the day for the time being, but other than that, I don't know what to do. Wish me luck.

Monday, February 17, 2014


The biggest mistake I made, when embarking on this parenthood journey, was not thinking through the biggest consequence of having babies, which is that babies grow into teenagers. I was a FABULOUS birth to age 5 parent. No small children were as snuggled and adored as mine. I wasn't too bad in the 6-12 range either: At that age, my lame jokes were still funny, and I had the knack of knowing when a hug or a hair ruffle would be appreciated and when to play it cool. 

Thirteen however, is when it goes off the rails. Now, I had, rather cleverly I thought, birthed my two children five years apart, so I always had one in the "easy" birth to 12 range.

But, like all good things, on a sunny day in early May, preadolescence came to an end. My baby, instead of remaining a child, followed in her older brother's footsteps and became a teenager. 

At first, it wasn't too bad. She's into fashion and makeup, and I found I really enjoyed talking about makeup with her, comparing looks, commiserating over tightlining, and it was really fun to have someone in the house for whom purple and green eyeshadow  could be bought. (Our coloring could not be more different. I yearn for purple eyeshadow, but am stuck with browns and coppers.) She also began developing a more mature perspective on (some) things, and became an actual contributor to family conversations about society and politics and social justice and whether we should watch Firefly again, or Doctor Who.

Then little annoyances began to creep in. Like the way she refuses to look at, let alone try on, pants that are not skinny enough. Like the way she tries to convince me that she needs a fifty dollar hoodie which differs only from the seven dollar hoodie I offered to buy her in the addition of giant letters stitched across the chest, spelling "aeropostale." (Which, how is that pronounced? Every time I have to say it, I feel like she's judging me.) 

Still, despite the eyerolls when I say "Oh, there's a clearance rack over there, let's go look for some jeans!" I generally like her and would rather have her around then otherwise. 

But now? Now she has started a sinister new phase: Perfume.

She doesn't own any perfume, so the suppliers must be girls at school. She got into the truck at school pickup the other day smelling like a rose. A big rose. A GINORMOUS rose.

Eyes watering, I managed to suppress the cough trying to burst from my lips and speak past the tightness in my throat. "Hi sweetie! How was school is that perfume you're wearing?"

She affirmed that it was, saying that a "bunch of us" were swapping perfume and makeup during lunch. 

"It's nice," I croaked. "Maybe a little heavy?"

She looked at me, as though I had something bewilderingly stupid, like "Flared jeans are really cute."

"What's the point," she said, slowly, as though I afraid of confusing me, "of wearing perfume if no one can smell it?"

Touché. Point, Erica.

Husband asked me that evening if she was wearing a little perfume.

"No, she's wearing ALL the perfume. There is no one else, ever, who can wear perfume, because she has it all."

He was quiet for a moment. "Mom thing, " he decided. "This one is all yours."

I'm going to have to do something about this, and pretty much immediately, because this morning Husband asked me to sniff the air, and to my horror, I smelled patchouli.

I despise the smell of patchouli, though not as much as Husband does. "Get rid of it, today." He gritted to me, before leaving for work.

So now I'm wondering what to say to her. I mean, the patchouli issue is easy--the two people who pay the rent don't like it, it's not going to stick around. I'm thinking more about the fragrance issue in general. I love perfumes in theory, but only a few in practice. The Grace series by Philosophy and Gucci Guilty are the only ones that spring immediately to mind, and I like fun scents like the body sprays at Bath and Bodyworks. However, she is DRENCHING herself in these, and worse, she's choosing scents that don't actually get along with her body chemistry. I don't want to outright ban her experimentation, but rather to set limits on it, but it's hard to quantify "too much." The line between enough perfume and ohmygodwaytoomuch is fairly fine, and if I don't define it for her, she'll keep crossing that line, and if there are many more scents as bad as patchouli, her stepfather will eventually issue a decree banning perfume (for her, anyway. Just try to decree ME, buddy) and she will file this injustice in the same place she stores the fifty dollar hoodie incident.

And the fifty dollar hoodie incident is brought up every time we go shopping. EVERY TIME.

This was simpler with her brother. Except for the brown sugar incident and the fire, his teen years were easy.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mea Culpa, Skinny Hippies.

About 15 years ago, I bought a Yoga DVD.  Every day for about a week I would circle the thing, warily eyeing it, and thinking about popping it in. But knowing how inflexible and clumsy and generally uncoordinated I am, I was too afraid to try it. At the time, I was fairly broke, so the 20 bucks it cost represented a huge amount of money for me, so I was unable to throw it away. It moved around with me, getting packed and unpacked over the years, always relegated to the bottom shelf of my DVD case. 

Over the years, I heard about ways to make yoga safer and easier for beginners, so I purchased a yoga mat, a yoga brick, and a yoga strap. Still, I  never quite got around to trying it out, and the equipment lived in the darkest corner of whatever closet was least useful to me.

Then I met Husband, and became a bit of an exercise snob. Husband, a 6'4, 300 pound boxer, was into weightlifting in a big way. He followed a program called Heavy Duty, developed by a professional weightlifter named Mike Mentzer. (Check it out, it's actually a pretty cool program.) We both did Heavy Duty for a few months, until life interfered: A job change for both of us, and a move, ended up costing us our gym membership. The muscle gym we liked was just too far away, and we couldn't find another affordable one near us. Husband has free weights, and has kept up his training, mostly. I don't have the nerve to do reps to failure on free weights--I want the safety factor of a machine, so I eventually lost everything I'd gained from the program. Anyway, I told you all that, to tell you this: In my mind, strenuous exercise is hard cardio followed by Heavy Duty. Yoga? That's for skinny hippies.

So, flash forward to now, where I am very heavy and out of condition and trying to claw my way back to good health. I decided to give the yoga dvd a tryout. This particular dvd  features four people. One does straight-up yoga, one does slightly modified moves, one does slightly more modified moves, and one does VERY modified, beginners-look-here moves. Despite my assumption that yoga was an easy workout, I figured my lack of coordination and flexibility warranted a slow approach, so I did the fully modified workout.

You guys. I was so very wrong about yoga, and I apologize. Fifteen minutes in, my feet were cramping. I kept having to stop for a few seconds and wiggle my toes and flex my feel to soothe them. Twenty minutes in, and I was struggling to keep my breathing at the pace the dvd wanted. I needed MOAR AIR. At the thirty minute mark, I turned off the heater in the living room. By the end, 45 minutes later, I collapsed gratefully into the relaxation post (rolled blanket under my spine, head supported, just breathe) and seriously considered never getting up again. I was exhausted. I spent the rest of the afternoon, fighting the urge to take a nap, and finally forced myself to hit the treadmill for half an hour. That gave me enough of a boost to get through the rest of the evening, and by nine-thirty, I was ready for bed. My head hit the pillow, and that was that. I don't think I moved, let alone woke up, at any point until Husband's alarm went off.

Today, I am sore, but not in a bad way. In fact, I feel really, really good today. Still kind of tired, but good. I'm trying to decide what to do today. Part of me really wants to do the dvd again, but I'm afraid of overdoing it. I'm thinking I might just do a treadmill routine today, and do yoga tomorrow. Then again, a repeat of yesterday also sounds really appealing. I seriously cannot make up my mind here.

I also feel weirdly taller, but I think that's just from hearing the instructor talk about lengthening my muscles on every move.

Monday, November 4, 2013


When I look back on 2013, it's gonna be remembered as the year my feet sucked nonstop.

First, there was the ingrown toenail of January, caused, I am certain, by my going on a running kick for three weeks. As evidence, I present the fact that by February, both my urge to jog and the ingrown were both gone, and neither has recurred.  Science, bitches!

Then came the long, drawn-out drama of the plantar wart.  One day in early March, I noticed a pain in the ball of my left foot. Upon examination, I found a tiny red dot. That's it. Very insignificant looking for the amount of irritation it was causing, but it was right on that part of the sole that one's weight rolls onto as one walks, and directly on the spot where all pressure from walking lands if one is wearing heels. When I brushed my finger over the dot, the feeling was very reminiscent of having a splinter. I thought this was odd, as I am not a go outside barefoot kind of person, but then I remembered that I had dropped a wineglass the previous weekend. I had cleaned up afterward, of course, but whose to say I got every tiny little splinter and sliver of glass? Since I couldn't actually see anything under the skin, my assumption that it was a tiny piece of glass was bolstered, and I assumed it would work its way out on its own.

I have rarely been more wrong.

A callous developed over the site, and the pain increased to the point where I was always limping. I couldn't wear any shoes other than Keds, and even with those I had to add extra insoles to cushion the callous. I consulted Dr. Google and discovered it was a plantar wart. I spent the next six months alternating between surprisingly painful cryosurgical treatments at my doctor's office (IT BUUUURNSSSS!!) and treating it with salicylic acid at home. But that wasn't the worst part. The worst was this: I couldn't get a pedicure all summer.  I couldn't stand the thought of anyone touching that foot, for one thing, and for another, I felt it would not be a good citizen-type move to risk exposing others to the virus that causes this type of wart. This is a big deal to me, because I don't like my feet unless they're dressed up, and I am terrible at doing my own nails. I hate having hot feet, and because of the combo of no pedicure plus limp-making pain in non-sneaker shoes, I spent my summer wearing close-toed shoes. I am a girl who loves her strappy sandals and peep-toe pumps.  Then, about two weeks ago, I was walking the dog and realized my foot didn't hurt. Over the last few days,  the callous has completely gone and I have no more pain.

In that foot, anyway.

Suddenly the plantar fasciitis that I've had off and on over the years in my right foot flared up again. Now I can only wear shoes that my orthotics will fit into. I've also had to step down my cardio routine a little bit, which is annoying, because now I feel caught in a trap: I need to lose weight to stop the fasciitis, but I can't exercise as much because it causes the pain to flare up. Very frustrating.

I told you all that to tell you this: I got a pedicure yesterday, and I was so happy! I cranked the massage chair up to eleven, settled in with a People magazine and blissed out.

Until it was time for color, and no one, including me, in the entire salon could get the top of my color unscrewed. And it was the last bottle of that color in the shop.

Well played, feet.

I went with an inferior color and could only laugh in agreement when Erica said "Man, these first world problems are so hard!"

That's alright, though. Inferior color or no, my feet are looking pretty damn cute right now.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cicada Parenting

I'm pretty sure I saw this somewhere else online, years ago. It has more of the ring of memory about it than of original thought, but anyway: Cicadas have the right idea. They bury their young in a hole until they turn 17.  

Erica is thirteen. For the most part, she is a pleasant, fun child to be around. She's a huge foodie, she loves anime and weird Korean robot singers called vocaloids. She likes Doctor Who, and has been known to sneak up behind me and trill "Are you my mummy?" in a faux British accent, making me shriek and flee the room. Doctor Who fans know why. (OMG. Those gas masks! Eeeugh!) 


She is a firm believer in the idea that once she's gotten an inch, she really does deserve a mile. And if I don't agree with her, it's because I'm stupid and unfair, not because she's wrong. Take Halloween this year as an example. Erica wanted to go trick or treating with a few of her girlfriends. That's fine, I said, but you have to do it in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood isn't great, but it beats the one these particular girls live in. I wouldn't walk around that block after dark, let alone turn a bunch of thirteen-year-olds loose there. I told her that the girls could come by after five, because I didn't want to deal with a bunch of kids at dinner time, not knowing who likes what and who's allergic to this or that. I would be happy to take everyone home, they just needed a ride to our place. After a few days, it was apparent that none of the other parents were interested in driving kids to my house, so I amended the plan to allowing the girls to walk home with Erica, and be here all afternoon. I told Erica to inform the girls and their parents that we would leave our house to take people home at 8:30, since it was a school night. Erica was furious. "That means we have to be home by 8:15! That's not fair! We only have one more day of school after Halloween, it doesn't matter if we're tired! I want to stay out til nine!" 

We went back and forth on this for a couple of rounds, with me pointing out that it's not just about it being a school night, although that's the biggest part of it. It's also about the fact that everyone will be amped up, both on sugar and the high of hanging out with friends, and costumes, and being out alone after dark, and will need some quiet time at home to come down. It's about the fact that I am tired, and I will  be the one cooking and providing entertainment for people until it's time for trick or treating. It's about the fact that I get up early on school days, too, and if I drive everyone home at 8:30 it will be 9:30 before we're home, and I like to go to bed around 10 on weeknights. I pointed out that my entire afternoon, evening, and night are being given over to her, and she should be grateful this is happening at all. She said, "I don't see why that matters. I never get to do anything, it won't kill you to be tired on a Friday, either!" 

Seriously? That pissed me right off. By now, we were parked in front of her school. (Oh yeah, this conversation occurred during school dropoff, because nothing beats arguing in the morning.) I put the truck in park, took off my seatbelt and turned to face her. I could see by her face that she knew she'd stepped in it. In a deadly calm voice I said, "Well, that's it, then. I'm done with this whole thing. Your friends can find somewhere else to trick or treat, and you can plan on staying in on Halloween. Go to school." She stormed out of the car, and I went home and suffered guilt for several hours. 

You see, she doesn't do a lot of socializing. She has these three good friends, and one of them has very strict Tiger-mom parents. Tiger Kid never gets permission to come out, so the fact that her parents had unbent enough to allow her to walk home with another kid, go trick or treating, and come home after 8 on a school night was a big deal. The other two kids are siblings, and spend every other weekend with their non-custodial parent, like Erica does,  and usually their weekend away doesn't match up with Erica's so it's tough to schedule fun stuff with them. We finally had a night where it all works out, and I quash it because a teenager got a little attitude-y. Plus, I know she's acting up because she's nervous and excited about this night, plus PLUS she is very rarely a difficult teen--I really should be a little more patient. And at the bottom of it all was this: I am tired, and I didn't really want to do this. In some ways, I'd almost been hoping she'd step out of line so I had an excuse to cancel. I felt a bit small.

So I backed off my righteous anger and allowed the event to go on. It wasn't fun, because there were four thirteen-year-olds in my house at once, but it went well. I made a dinner which all the girls ate eagerly (in fact, they didn't leave any leftovers) they giggled and watched movies and adjusted their costumes until it was time to leave, and they returned home precisely on time. They were all polite and thanked me for driving them, and they laughed whenever I told lame parent jokes. 

The whole thing left me a bit nervous, though. I'm not very patient when it comes to being argued with, and teens LOVE to argue. This was just a tiny little skirmish. How will I manage full-on battles with Erica? Right now, at 10:23 on a Saturday, I can feel my  blood beginning to simmer, because I asked Erica to get out of bed 45 minutes ago, because I want the dishes done and the floor swept early today, in case the power goes off (it's stormy here)and we have to spend the day huddled around the only fireplace in the house with a stack of board games. I know she's out of bed; however, her bedroom door is still closed, and the dishes are still on the counter. If I call her out here right now, she's going to drag herself out, and when I tell her again to do the dishes, she's going to spend ten  minutes pouring cereal and making tea, and then twenty minutes to eat, and ARGH!!! My head will explode, and so will my voice. And this is just a dispute about doing chores in a timely manner and getting up before noon on the weekends. What am I gonna do when it's about a baggie of weed found in a pocket, or sneaking out to see a boy? 

I'm doomed.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Back when I first started this blog, one of the things I looked forward to was NaBloPoMo. After all, it was my favorite time of year as a blog reader, so obviously I would love it as a blog author, right? 

Hahahaha. Oh, my sweet summer blogger self! Fast forward a few months to my paltry store of published posts, and it's obvious that I can barely post once a month, let alone once per day. Still, I'd like to give it a try. I can't swear that you're gonna get thirty high-quality posts--hell, I can't swear you're gonna get thirty posts, of whatever quality. But, one must try.

The nice thing about being such a slacker is that the first post back almost writes itself. I spend a bit of time updating previous posts and handing out excuses for why I haven't written. Easy! So without further ado...:

Nothing But a Family Thing, Part Two: Aunt Violet has made a complete recovery. Like, she's so recovered that I find myself wondering if my cousins exaggerated the seriousness of her condition. I'm not the believe in miracles type, so that's really the only explanation I can come up with as to how one goes from comatose for nearly a week with an almost non-existent EEG to a few weeks of physical therapy to back on Facebook pestering me with game invites and posting Inspirational Jesus quotes on my wall. It's weird. I should call her myself. After all, her suicide attempt/accidental overdose (depends on which version of events you believe) caused a slight Tragic Blue Screen of Death to happen in my brain, as I flashed back to awful things best forgotten and her kindness during the awful things. Unfortunately, I've had to build a wall around myself, in order to shut out the people responsible--and since she stays in close, happy contact with those people, I have to keep her at arm's length as well. I've worked too hard to be the just barely functioning human I am today. I can't let the wall wobble. It's not safe. Besides, how awkward would that conversation be?  "Hullo, there, Auntie. So, was it suicide or what? Also, were your kids full of shit when they told me that they might have to unplug you and leave it up to Jesus? 'Cause you seem pretty damn healthy for someone they were about to send into the light?" Yeah, no. Can't do it.

Depression, Yet Another Update Upon: Eh. Still feel exhausted every single day. Still have to force myself to hit the treadmill. Still manage to be very healthy til about 6 p.m. when I realize I am STARVING and proceed to eat all the food.  I'm doing a lot better though, since leaving the Temp Job From Hell, where I was simultaneously stressed out and bored to death, resulting in some EPIC emotional eating.  I managed to cold turkey the need to eat chocolate from 2:30 p.m. to 4:56 p.m. every single weekday, and am now weaning myself off my pre-bedtime bowl of cereal.  As to exercise, I've discovered a new way to motivate myself on the treadmill: NETFLIX.  I suddenly remembered that I have Netflix on my Kindle Fire. Twice a week, I cue up a 45-50 minute show on the Kindle, and walk briskly up and down simulated hills for the entirety of the program. I'm at nearly 3 miles in that time, which for legs as short as mine, especially considering how heavy I am right now (see EPIC emotional eating, above) is actually a pretty good pace. In the next few days I plan to add in basic body weight stuff like squats, pushups, planks, etc. into the routine.  I alternate the 50 minute workouts with 20-30 minute workouts two or three times a week, courtesy of Songza. Which program I cannot say enough nice things about, so thanks again MariaMelee for introducing me to it. 

Speaking of the Kindle Fire, the first show I picked for workout viewing was Orange is the New Black, about which I have many, many things to say, but for now will just mention this: I watched it through once and loved it. LOVED. I got pretty tired of Piper pretty quickly, but with such a big, awesome ensemble (Crazy Eyes! Poussey! Captain Jane-Er, I mean, RED!!! Love!) it's pretty easy to ignore Piper. Then I read the book. And I really, really liked the real-life Piper. She's nothing like the character Piper. Now, on re-watch, I find the show less wonderful. After seeing the depth and dignity of the real-life people, the show characters seem shallow and cheap. And show Piper is INSUFFERABLE. I swear to god, she mentions Barney's one more time... Anyway. It's still a good show, don't get me wrong. But it was a very striking example to me of the way TV (or Streaming Media, in this case) will alter things for the sake of drama, and it made me feel a little small to realize how eagerly I had consumed that drama, much--most--of it untrue. Still, I highly recommend reading the book. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nothing but a Family Thing

I gave the bare bones on Twitter, but I need to get this out.

I had a horrible childhood. My mother was distant, my father absent, my uncles and older cousins were predators.

My dad's younger sister was a sweet, loving woman, born to the wrong family. She deserved better. All of the sweetness and tenderness I remember from my childhood came from her.

We drifted apart in the last few years--there's a lot of miles between us, she became foster mother to two of my second cousins when their mother died, and as an adult, the pain my dad's family caused me pushed me to become very aloof toward my relatives.

We talked on Facebook sometimes. Not often. She'd had some health problems. Something wrong with her lungs...it wasn't emphysema (not yet, anyway) but she'd been a two pack a day smoker for years. Now she carries an oxygen tank, and can't really draw a full breath. She had some knee and hip problems, she has fibromyalgia.

On Monday night, her daughter called to chat around nine. They talked for a few minutes, Aunt said she was tired. Her son called just after ten, and got no answer. He assumed she'd gone to bed. He went over to her house around 8 on Tuesday morning, and found her barely breathing, unconscious,  face down on the floor of her room. An empty six pack of beer was beside her, as was a prescription bottle. It was her muscle relaxers, and they believe she took about 90 pills.

She meant to die.

She has not regained consciousness. She will have an MRI either later tonight or tomorrow morning. We will find out then if she gets her wish. If there is no brain activity, the family will withdraw life support.

This hurts. I wish she'd called me. I wish I'd called her. I wish she didn't hurt so much that she thought this would help.

Please send good thoughts. Her name is Violet.