Wait…What?

Yes, my friends. The woman who audibly scoffed at the idea of having another child is indeed having another child.

This should be rich.

Thus the slight redirection of this blog.

Not to say that there aren’t still lots of stupid people out there about whom to write (or more specifically, my encounters with them). But becoming a mom again at the “Advanced Maternal Age” of not-in-my-twenties, is definitely worth writing about, too.

Especially since that means that I’ll be responsible for the nurturing and guidance of a

  • tween and a two-month old
  • teen and a toddler
  • a college student and a kindergartner

You get my drift.

So hang on. Here we go.

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It’s a gas

I’m inordinately paranoid about going to the dentist.  Afraid that the drill will slip out of my dentist’s hands and accidentally bore out my eyeball, or that I will have to have a root canal.  And it happened.  The root canal, not the eyeball thing, which totally could happen. I’ve seen a lot of medical tv shows.

Actually, it was 2 root canals and a deep filling.  In spite of brushing and occasional flossing, I always get cavities.  Lots of them.  I’m told that it’s genetic.  I refuse to believe that it’s because of the occasional (okay… rare) flossing. Flossing is gross, but so is putting your dentures in a glass by the sink. So there’s that.

Did I mention how much I hate going to the dentist?

What follows are my thoughts from the chair. *********************************************************************************************************************************************

The “you’re gonna feel a little pinch” thing is an understatement.  Why don’t they just go ahead tell you the truth?

I’m about to stab your gums with a needle now. Then I’m going to twist it a little and pump some really nasty venom in it.  It won’t start working for a while.  But it won’t wear off before you need to be seen in public either. Ready?

A good 3 minutes after I can no longer feel the entire right side of my face, the dentist returns.  He asks me questions about my job as he fires up the drill.  The sound.  The smell of burning tooth dust. My entire body seizes up. I can’t with that drill. I just can’t.  That’s when he offers me nitrous.

Laughing gas? I’ve never had it before. Why not.

A minute or two later, the hygienist is putting a little plastic mask over my nose.

I concentrate on controlling my breathing.  I don’t want to breath too deeply or too often because I don’t want the hygenist thinking I’m some kind of druggie or something. If I keep taking huge drags of gas, she’ll judge me. Don’t judge me!

I try to hold my breath for a few seconds, only succeeding in making myself gasp in even MORE gas, which made me twitch a little.  “Ha, you can’t even do drugs right. Amateur.” She said…in her mind.  But her mouth said, “You okay?” Great.  She feels sorry for me now.  Don’t feel sorry for me!

The gas tells me that the hygienist is evil, but not to even worry about it.

She keeps aiming the water sprayer at the back of my throat, which I’m certain is intentional.  The suction tube dangles limp in her latex-gloved hand until the dentist barks “Suction” through his SARS mask.  Water begins pooling in the back of my mouth.  I imagine a tiny Indiana Jones dangling from my uvula, panicking about the rising water.  Indy!  Use your whip! Use your whip!

I gag.  The hygienist takes this as a sign that I’ve had enough gas.  She is wrong.

I have not had enough, but she turns it down anyway.  I take a couple of deep breaths and hold it, trying to increase the buzz.  I’ve seen people on tv do this while smoking weed.  [<–another example of the importance of carefully placed modifiers. Grammar ninja out]. profiles_Ninja_me_5934_528387

I’m gonna ask them to give Leila nitrous when she comes, too.  She’s such a panicky child.  It’ll make a her feel all calm and stuff.  This must be what being high feels like.  Yeah.

Wait.

I don’t want her to feel high.  She might like it and start doing drugs with boys in abandoned buildings.  It’s a slippery slope.  It starts at a dentist’s office and ends with prostitution.  I don’t want her to be a prostitute.  My eyes begin to water at the thought.  The dentist sees that I am clearly in pain and gestures for the hygenist to check the tank and turn the gas back up.

Yes!

I lie there thinking up new cupcake flavors for the remainder of the procedure. Amaretto anise. Ha! What if that was somebody’s name? Rum & coke. Something with celery? Can you put kale in a cupcake? Hipsters love that shit.

Then the accounts lady brings me the updated treatment plan.  “One side done. We’ll do the left side when you come back. Just a couple more fillings and crowns.”  I ask her how much it’ll cost.  She says something about $1,400.  Vibe. Killed.

That was over a year ago.

Today, I found myself thinking about how much easier it would be to endure the craziness of working at a high school, or going to my mom’s house, or finding a parking spot at HEB on Sunday if I had my own private supply of laughing gas.  It sure would be easier to put up with people.  On the other hand, it would be considerably harder for me to get anything done. I already have self-diagnosed, selective ADD, and I procrastinate like crazy (par exemple… it took me 13 months to finish writing this).

Hey, what can I say? My life is stressful.  Some of the stress is legitimate. Some fabricated.  I just need to learn how to manage it without drugs, of course.

Philosopher and psychologist, William James, said…

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.

This week, when I inevitably find myself stressing about something, like paying back my grad school loans, or what pants to wear, I’ll just think about this:

At least I’m not in prison like Piper Chapman.  I bet they don’t even let inmates have laughing gas.

Like Cat Hair

God, I hate cat hair.

It lands on every fabric surface in my home and clings there, multiplying into layers, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to walk by, thereby providing a means of transportation to another surface.

This morning, I snatched the king-size quilted comforter off the bed, determined to get rid of the ever-present cat hair if not the two cats responsible for it. The comforter is too big for my washing machine.  I’d have to take it to the laundromat. I decided to take the comforter that has been balled up in the laundry room for months, too, to make spending $4.25 to use the commercial machine worthwhile.

I shoved the offending comforters into the car and drove to the nearest washateria. I live in a part of town that, at one time, was home to baby boomers who kept their 70’s construction homes clean and their yards manicured. The shops and businesses nearby served sensible suburbanites.  Nothing flashy. Over the years, the baby boomers upgraded, moving out to Sugarland or Pearland. The demographic shifted. First and second generation immigrants moved in. Corner stores, auto repair shops, cash advance stores, pawn shops, beauty supply stores swooped in to serve them. Then came the Hindu and Jewish temples, Turkish mosques and Baptist and Catholic churches.  It’s called the international district now, a feeble attempt to gloss over the effects of socio-economic segregation.

The laundromat sits at the far end of a shopping strip, neighbored by a driving school, a taqueria/ grocery store, and an African restaurant. I pulled up and wrestled the two comforters out of the car and inside.  As always, I surveyed the occupants. An African lady and her 4 daughters, doing pay-per-pound wash and fold, surrounded by carts of laundry and piles of folded clothes. Her daughters huddled around a lap-top, talking quietly. Across the room, a middle-aged black man leaning against the folding table, watching Let’s Make A Deal.  A Hispanic woman and her children loading several of the smaller machines.  A few other people. Nobody seemed particularly happy to be there.

I loaded and set the washing machine, and then wandered over to the taqueria to get lunch.  On my way back in, I passed a man, smoking outside, his long-sleeved jersey on backwards. Did he do that on purpose? Surely he knows it’s backwards. Well, it’s none of my business, I thought.

He looked up, flicking his cigarette to the ground. “Good afternoon.”  I smiled and nodded.  He opened the door for me, and I went past, breathing in the smell of stale smoke. I do that sometimes. Smell people when they walk by. It’s risky, I know.  But I can’t help it. I imagine that if I were blind, it would be all I’d have.  That, and the ability to measure objects by reflected sound. So I practice, because, well… you never know.

It was while I was pushing my wet comforters into the dryer that I registered what was going on.  At the back of the laundromat, a fuller-sized woman, her blonde ponytail jerking back and forth like a tail on an agitated cat, had begun yelling at backwards jersey guy.

“Leave us alone, Alex! You ain’t taking the car nowhere!”

His response was too low to hear, but it did nothing to calm her.  Her voice took on the tone of a woman fed up.  Full scale I-don’t-give-a-shit.

“I’m tired of yo shit, Alex.  You always doin’ this. I’m done. DONE!”

She had 3 children, all under the age of 5. They appeared to be his.  The oldest one, a curly-headed boy, reached for the trash bag full of laundry that his father was attempting to pick up.  Backwards jersey guy’s efforts seemed a pathetic denial of whatever had made his woman so angry. The woman continued snatching clothes from the dryer and stuffing them into trash bags.

 “Stop it, Alex! Leave us alone. I’m through wit’ yo sorry ass!”

Two of the 3 children were crying. The middle one looked on, his expression registered a kind of resignation reserved for much, much older people.

I wondered what Alex had done, or hadn’t done. The scene seemed familiar.  A white woman and a black man tangled in a dysfunctional relationship, a relationship so toxic that it poisons everything around them. What about the children?

Everyone in the washateria actively ignored the couple.  All aware of what was happening and equally aware that there was nothing they could do. Unspoken social norms require that we pretend we don’t see anything unless someone is being physically hurt. I turned my attention to the TV mounted overhead. Wayne Brady offered a contestant dressed as a clown whatever was behind door #2.

We have a choice.  We don’t have to just take whatever is behind door #2.  But blonde woman yelling in the laundromat had, and Alex was clearly a zonk.

I remember another life. Almost fifteen years ago. Me, clinging to a relationship with a man caught up in a similar drama.  His baby mama constantly threatening, fuming, reeling him back in. I caught them once. They were holed up together in the apartment that I’d helped him get, lying on the sheets I’d bought. Like the laundromat woman, I’d started yelling at him. I snatched the sheets off the bed, grabbed a pair of shoes I’d bought him, took the broom and dustpan.  I dumped the souring contents of the wastebasket I’d bought into his bathtub.  (<–See what I did there? Good one, huh.)

I made his homeboy, Bang, carry my microwave downstairs to my car.

I was through with him.

Except not.

I kept going back, because I thought I could fix it. Fix him.  But men like my ex and Alex are not really the problem. They are the evidence.

Like cat hair.

If you want to get rid of the cat hair, you have to get rid of the cat.  What is her cat?

I don’t know.  Maybe it’s the belief that having an insecure, shell of a man was better than having no man at all.  Maybe it’s an insecurity of her own. But I’m just speculating. It could be anything.

For me, it had been a misguided understanding of what love is. I believed that I had to be a martyr to love. That others, especially my man, would appreciate my martyrdom. It was the idea that attention, infatuation, would one day turn into love if you just work hard enough at it, if you make yourself what he wants.

I was ignorant. I didn’t know then that the only way to find the love you need is to focus on living in your purpose. Hint: your purpose is not in another person.

“You have a choice,” I wanted to tell the woman.

“Get rid of the cat.  Free yourself.”

The Best of All Possible Worlds

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”  – Maya Angelou

There’s a popular website called F My Life where everyday people (and their idiot friends) post about their misfortunes and epic fails. 

Surprisingly, none have written “Today, I realized that I had the necessary resources, physical capability and mental acuity to type this message, yet wasted it by posting about being shocked by the laws of nature, attraction, and Murphy. FML”.

That’s probably because optimism is not funny. Irony is.

Nobody with a valid sense of humor wants to hear anybody talk about best-case, gee-golly-gosh-isn’t-it-great scenarios.   We don’t laugh when the princess lives happily ever after.  We laugh when Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm accuses his ex-wife of not respecting wood…in the middle of a make-out session. We laugh when Jerry hits Tom in the face with a frying pan.

I like to laugh.  The fact that life is NOT perfect gives me plenty to laugh about*.  To pretend that everything is coming up roses would be, uncivilized**.

By definition, optimism is…

  1. a tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation
  2. the philosophy that this is the best of all possible worlds

Let’s see, I don’t tend to expect the best outcome, even though I do aim for it.   I can’t honestly say that I even want to dwell  on the bright side.  Crazy people live there.

Clearly I do not qualify as an optimist.

Does this mean that I can’t be happy?

Maya said I have a choice. If I don’t like something, I can change it or changing how I look at it.  I choose to be happy, fully aware that stupid sh*t (and people) will happen. I choose to believe that happiness and sarcasm are not mutually exclusive.  I can be a realistic optimist, a person who can say “uh oh, here it comes” with a smile.

I like the idea of healthy balance***.  This, my friends, would be best-case scenario.  So, here I begin my journey as a realistic optimist, defining and redefining myself as I see fit. Yeah, I can do that.

Maybe this is the best of all possible worlds.

-Faith

 

* to keep from crying

** …and unpleasant. Roses, everywhere? Scary.

*** like 2 parts Fruity Pebbles to 1 part almond milk