the emotional warfare of the romantic and the realist

a conversation between the romantic and the realist.

romantic: why doesn’t he call? or text? or something? when i text, why is he so short? so sterile? do you think he’s over me? i’m not over him. god i want him back so bad. why is he doing this? why won’t he talk to me and tell me what’s going on?

realist: stop.

romantic: do you think he still wants me? or do you think there’s someone else? imma call. imma call him and get him to talk to me.

realist: stop. don’t do that.

romantic: why? why? i deserve an answer. how did this happen? what happened? i really don’t understand and i need to understand.

realist: no. you don’t need to underst–

romantic: you stop. i know what you’re going to say.

realist: what?

romantic: that i don’t NEED to understand, that i WANT to understand, and to that i say that yoooou don’t understand because i dooooooooo NEEEEEEED to understand. i need him to make me understand. why can’t he do that? why is this so hard? i’m not hard to talk to?

realist: really?

romantic: shut up. i want to call. you want me to call. can i call? please? i need to know what the hell happened. why did he just quit? why did he give up on me? everything seemed to be going so well. this doesn’t make any sense. none. you don’t act like THAT and then act like this. it’s madness. or schizophrenia. either way i want some answers.

realist: why? you know what’s going to happen. you’re obsessive. you never let it go. in YOUR world answers only lead to more questions and nothing good is going to come from it. what if he says something you don’t want to hear? and you get your feelings hurt?? what will you do then? get MORE depressed about him and that half-ass relationship that only YOU were in.

romantic: i hate you. i really do. I WANT ANSWERS. i’m going to call. where’s my phone?

realist: serious? you’re asking for trouble. just leave it alone. you were doing so well.

romantic: i wasn’t. i never was. i think about him day and night. i miss the communication and the sharing. i miss the reading and the writing. and oh God, if i don’t miss the kissing and the hugs. where’s my phone?

realist: i’m outta here. i’m not going to stand by while you shatter yourself again. just leave it alone.

romantic: I DON’T WANT TO!!! ok? ok?? i don’t want to. i want to talk to him. i want to be with him. i want all of those things we talked about. i can’t underst– i don’t– aaaaaaaah! never mind, i’m sure as shit not gonna talk to you about it anymore while you sit there staring me down with your “you’re pathetic” look. eff you!

realist: you’re not pathetic. i never said that and don’t get all crazy because you’re all crazy. we can talk about it as much as you want, but you know how i feel. i just don’t think it’s good for you to go through the ups and downs. we’ve both seen it before. you text and you wait. OBSESSIVELY, with your phone in your hand checking it every 17 seconds. if he doesn’t text, you’ll be hurt. if he does text then you’re happy for 49 seconds, just long enough for you to send back three texts with far too much information, way too many questions and the sour air of lingering desperation.

romantic: what? did you just call me desperate?? maaaaaaaan—

realist: stop. ok? i didn’t call YOU desperate, ok? but you are actively seeking some sort of contact with him, any contact. and it’s just .. it’s…

romantic: it’s what? it’s what? huh?

realist: i don’t like to see you like this. you’re on edge and on the verge of being rude. he’s under your skin. again. but why? you had to reach out to him, repeatedly. and for what? for absolutely nothing. you’re over here going stir crazy and he’s resting easy.

romantic: you don’t know that. he said that he missed me.

realist: yeah, well, when you miss someone do you just cut off contact for several months? i don’t. do you? no! so stop already. words are words and actions are actions. you need to look at the actions and stop listening to the words.

romantic: but the words are so beautiful. they make me feel beautiful.

realist: they are just words. your beauty is in your heart and in the mirror. where are his words? on your phone! he hasn’t even called you. what’s up with that? he used to call, but now no more? why? because you shared parts of his life with parts of your life? that’s bullshit. when people get together, join, date, etc.. worlds collide.

romantic: what are you talking about?

realist: hey! don’t get lost. remember when he told you that he wished you wouldn’t share what you and he talk about? why? if he’s in your life, why can’t you share? i’m not talking about intimate details, but the information you did share wasn’t the most personal information. it was not worthy of exile. he’s trippin’ and he’s got you trippin’. i don’t like to see you like this. you’re emotional, volatile and cranky. we need to talk about something else.

romantic: i don’t want to. i want to talk about him. he’s always on my mind. i try to get him out of my head and off my mind, but he won’t go. i don’t really want him to go. i want to keep him. we made plans! we talked everyday. i just.. i just don’t understand.

realist: yes, yes you do. you just don’t want to come to terms with it. it means that you will have to let go of him and you don’t want to. i understand.. he was a knight in shining armor.. but like the whatchamacallit says: what you thought was a knight in shining armor turned out to be a fool in tin foil. come on honey. you gotta let this go. he’s not good for you. no matter how wonderful it WAS, it is no longer. and sending him messages every seventy-two days just reopens the wounds.

romantic: *scowl*

realist: don’t look at me like that. you were “together”, if that’s what you want to call it for three months! for ninety days, give or take. seriously? you haven’t actually TALKED to him in what?… four months? seriously? why are you holding on to him so hard?

romantic: *scowl* i think i love him.

realist: oh lord! please please please don’t use that word again.

romantic: what? don’t start that shit with me. i can love whomever i want as FAST as i want. why should i hold back? i’m a balls out kinda gal. that’s the way i feel.

realist: you don’t love him. you love the idea of him and nothing more. the whole knight in shi–

romantic: have i told you that i hate you? i do. you’re mean.

realist: i’m not mean. i’m realistic. this is just unhealthy. it’s going to lead nowhere as you have already found out. i’m not sure why you’re going back for more. you’ve always been masochistic so i shouldn’t expect you to snap out of it now, but geez. you’re the only one feeling this. he’s not feeling this.

romantic: how do you know? how do you know he’s not at home feeling this same way about me? smart ass.

realist: how do i know? C’MON! here’s how i know that he does NOT feel as strongly about you as you do about him, or even in comparison to how it felt back then. this is how i know:

  1. he–

romantic: really? you have a numbered list? when were you going to share that with me? what the —

realist: yes. i have a list. it’s right here off the top of my–

romantic: i don’t wanna hear this. you’re right, let’s talk about something else.

realist: oh no, sister. you wanted to talk, so we’re talking.

romantic: i really don’t want to hear this.

realist: shut up and listen.

  1. he has not contacted you on his own, for months.
  2. the minimal contact that you’ve experience was initiated by you.
  3. for every message that he sends you, you send three. you outweigh him in conversation exponentially.
  4. you haven’t had a conversation with him or laid an eye on him this YEAR.
  5. after your relentless attempts to get an answer from him, he finally gave you one… ENCRYPTED. you actually had to ask further to get the simplest of answers. he could have given you that answer months ago, but he didn’t and why?why? what’s to hide? do you think he is telling you the truth? if the truth is so simple and forgivable, why wouldn’t he just come out with it? he told you that he was going to incorporate you into his life. what happened to that? why didn’t that happen? and what about everything else? all those plans you two made? what happened there? nothing, right? absolutely nothing. and when you asked for an answer, what did you get? hmmmmm? “work. family.” what kind of answer is that? don’t we all have work? and family? you can’t put life on hold to deal with life. it’s redundantly stupid and serves no purpose. if you’re going to live your life, then do so. seek happiness, create happiness and share that happiness. you can’t box life up and pretend that you can and will keep all parts of it separate and void of merging like a child’s dinner plate. it’s life! it’s messy! it joins, it mixes, it coagulates and separates. if you’re lucky, at the end of it, there’s nothing left on the plate. your belly is full and you’re satisfied. satisfied with what you have done and what you have accomplished. sitting here obsessing over someone who cannot and will not make this happen with you is insanity. so please, just stop. if he wanted you, truly wanted you, he would be here with you now and i would be somewhere else.

romantic: i wish you were somewhere else. thanks for the pep talk deepak chopra, but i think i’ll work it out alone. i can see that it’s just irritating the shit outta you and you in turn, are irritating the shit outta me. and with that said, i’m going to go somewhere else.

realist: go. i’m sorry to make you feel that way. i’m not judging you and i’m not trying to irritate you. i just don’t see how you can’t see this. i know that he was perfect and it was perfect and you felt safe and secure, but .. i … i don’t see–

romantic: ok, ok. i get it. you don’t see it happening. but what if it does? what if this is a much-needed hiatus followed by a lifelong whirlwind fairy tale romance? what if that happens? will you take back what you’ve said?

realist: absolutely not. i won’t take it back if it happens tomorrow. this is not healthy. you are a crazed woman on the verge of those old stake-out shenanigans. wandering around town, at all hours of the night in dark clothes, chuck taylors and doin’ super-slow drive-by’s of this dudes house in borrowed cars. it’s not good for you. it’s not respectable. he doesn’t respect you. if he did, he would have answered you when you asked a quest.. actually, he would have told you what was going to happen before it happened. not make you chase after him for an answer that you JUST got, but had to decipher. and if you didn’t text him, repeatedly, you would have never known. he would have let you fade to black without a word.

romantic: i’m not chasing after him.

realist: what? are you kidding? yes, honey, you are. you are chasing after him like you missed your bus. with one hand out and the look of “please wait for me” on your face. ugh! that’s enough. i’ve told you time and time again how i feel and you have done the same. i am here for you if you need me, but i don’t want to talk about this anymore. he’s not good for you, you know it, you feel it and still you do this. just let it go. let him go. he doesn’t deserve you. obviously.

romantic: but i deserve him! why can’t i have him? i thought the girls get the choice! i pick and that’s that. why can’t i have him?

realist: he doesn’t want to be had. you are not this blind. after what you’ve been through over the years. you are not this blind. i’m sure you’re fed up and ready for your time to shine, but sweetie, it’s not right now and i don’t think it’s with him. i just don’t. if things change, then that’s great for everyone, but i don’t see it. i’m sorry.

romantic: are we done? i don’t think i can take much more truth tonight. i know what you’re saying, i just didn’t want you to say it. i just wanted you to help me live in the moment and be positive about it. but i get it, there’s nothing positive about it. no silver lining? no benefit of the doubt? no second chance?

realist: for what? sure, you can keep hope alive and hold a flame for him if you choose, but for how long? like i said, you were together mooooonths ago. you’ve almost been apart TWICE as long as you were together. what’s to hold on to? hmm? what are you holding on to, exactly??

romantic: *scowl* i hate you. i’m going to bed.

realist: like hell, you’re going to go in there and pull up every song that you two “dedicated” to one another and cry yourself into a cloud of funk. you’re not going to bed. we are going to talk about this. what are you holding on to? … …

*silence*

realist: well? seriously? what’s to hold on to? you two were done before the holidays. there was no family gatherings, gift exchange and you had sex all of one time. so, please tell me what exactly could be the big hang up? …

*continued silence*

realist: hellllooooooo?

romantic: nothing i guess. i don’t know.. i think i wanted it so badly that i couldn’t see that there was nothing to it. it sounds horrible when YOU talk about it. but it doesn’t sound horrible when i talk about it. why is that?

realist: that’s because you want there to be something where there is nothing. it’s not HIM. it’s the idea of him. someone so sweet and chivalrous. someone who always says good morning and good night. someone who opens doors and carries packages for you. someone who shares your dreams of world travel, but a simple home life. a “white picket fence” type guy looking for a “white picket fence” type girl. you’re caught up in the idea.. and he let you believe it. he buffed and shined that tin foil and came to you with open arms and empty promises. and who’s left feeling empty? you. just you.

romantic: i want what i want.

realist: you can want him all you want, you just need to know that you might not ever get him. probably won’t ever get him. i think it’s obvious and you’re just playing word games with me right now. so what if you want him. what does that mean? “i want him.” do you always get what you want?

romantic: i try. and usually…

realist: you can’t TRY with people and relationships. either you want it or you don’t. otherwise shit is one sided and someone is left out in the cold. don’t you remember him and him? they wanted you, but you didn’t want them and shit was supremely one-sided. you were annoyed with them and their persistence. and i’m sure they were annoyed with you and your many unfettered attempts to get rid of them. don’t you think that wasn’t fair? don’t you think you took advantage and that they deserved to be let free long before?

romantic: i took advantage? i didn’t take advantage of anyone.

realist: yes. yes you did. you let them swoon over you while you were off thinking about someone else. you let them take you to dinner, take you to movies and try to win your heart always knowing inside yourself that you had no intention of entertaining them. don’t you think this is the same? he will respond to you… after you reach out to him. he will answer your questions accordingly, but tell me this: has he asked you about you lately? has he inquired about your mental health and well-being during these last few months?

romantic: well… he–

realist: the answer is no. what you are getting from him now is far from what he gave you in the beginning. and just like that other guy, if you accept what he is giving you now, you are settling for less, and we both know how that worked out. shattered! shattered into a million pieces. time lost, love lost, personal property and money lost too. but what was the end result? you settled for less than you wanted.

romantic: well, actually, i tried to convince myself that i didn’t need those other things. it wasn’t all his fault, ya know?

realist: yeah, i know. but that doesn’t change the facts. now you know more clearly what you want, and you thought you saw it in the tin man, but the fact of the matter is that he was more of a rebound. you left that other guy, met the tin man and he seemed to be everything that you could want or dream of. and he might be, but he’s not letting you in and you cannot accept that. if he wants you, he should act like it. and, from what i’ve seen, he ain’t actin’ like it.

romantic: your sensible nonsense is really putting a damper on my sad-sack-woe-is-me attitude that i was trying to run with. i don’t need sense right now. i need your friendship and support.

realist: well sister, i’m not your friend. you will always have my support. if you decide to call or text and have a meltdown, i will be right there to clean your melted ass off the ground. if you decide to call and leave crazy ass messages that confirm that you should be left alone, i will be there, WITH TISSUE, to talk you down off that ledge.

romantic: you’re worth your weight in used paper clips.

realist: that’s what i’m here for. to help you keep your head on straight. you seem like you’ve settled down and that’s good, but it doesn’t mean much. you always settle and then jump off the cliff. if you don’t delete that playlist, i’m going to throw your phone in the toilet. the songs are great, but don’t listen to all of them back to back. and please, for the love of pete and everyone around get rid of anything that he gave you, which is nothing, or anything that he brought to your attention… like that one recording artist. stop listening to that guy. it’s just going to bring back memories and you’re just going to get crazy and neither of us needs that. you just came down off the ledge. we both need a breather.

romantic: sense from nonsense. you do it everytime. you’re right. i’ll let it go.

realist: i know you want to say “for now”. i noticed that you didn’t say that you would let him go… and i know that will take some time. *rolling eyes* for whatever reason. if you would stop obsessing you could be over him already and on to someone and something better. if you can keep from .. you know what.. where’s your phone?

romantic: what? i–

realist: where is it? i want to see it.

romantic: for what?

realist: just get it and bring it–

romantic: why? what are you going to do?

realist: we. yes, WE, are going to delete him. we’re going to delete him from your life right here and now.

romantic: no. i can’t do that.

realist: oh yes you can, and you’re going to. right now.

romantic: ugh. have i told you–

realist: what? that you hate me? yes. and i don’t care. i hate you too. get the phone.

romantic: fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck! you’re such a bitch.

realist: takes one to know one. get the phone.

romantic: alllllllright! @&^@%&^@%$!!

*waiting in silence*

*continued waiting*

realist: where the hell are you? and where’s that phone daggummit??

romantic: shuuuuuuuuuuut up! i’m getting it. loser.

realist: suck it. give it to me.

romantic: here!

realist: *accessing contacts* delete contact? why, yes, thank you.

romantic: i–

realist: shut it. *accessing text messages* OMG!!! how much of his shit do you have saved in here? no wonder you’re losing your mind. have you kept every message… ugh.

romantic: they’re nice messages.

realist: so what. *rolling eyes* do you mean i have to “unlock” each one before i can delete it?? are you serious? oh well.. here we go.

romantic: *scowl*

realist: unlock, delete, unlock, delete, unlock, delete, unlock, delete… unlock, delete. ok. i think that’s all of them. but we’re not done. come with me.

romantic: why? you’ve already taken everything.

realist: ha! you think i’m stupid. you’re going to delete him from ev-er-y-thing! everything!! right now. so let’s log on.

romantic: you are a supreme, ultimate, stellar fucking bitch.

realist: whatev. log on.

romantic: log on to what?

realist: first, to verizon, to delete him from your backup. i’m not stupid. and then you will log onto your email and then to facebook. all three accounts, right now, and i want to watch you click and delete. i mean it.

romantic: fuck.

realist: do it. you’re wasting time. this is the only way. you need to be free of him. if and when he decides to contact you, you won’t know it’s him and your response will be “who is this?” and hopefully that will put him in his place that he had been DELETED. that he earned to be deleted and that you .. you moved on.

romantic: *sigh*

realist: let’s do this.

*log on, delete, log off. log on, delete, log off. log on, delete, log off*

romantic: satisfied?

realist: thoroughly. where’s your purse?

romantic: you’re going too far.

realist: nope, lemme see it. actually i just need your wallet. i know you have his business card in there. the one that she gave to you that he gave to her to give to you.

romantic: that’s a memento. i want to keep that. it was–

realist: shut up and get the wallet.

romantic: ugh! bitch!!!

realist: yup. get it.

romantic: here. if you can find it you can have it.

realist: *opening wallet* yup, here it is. thanks!

romantic: omg, how did you–

realist: know where it was at? i know you. thanks, hon. let’s move on. anything else i should know about?

romantic: no.

realist: are you sure?

romantic: yes! geez.

realist: don’t “geez” me. this is what’s best. rid yourself of him. if he comes back, well, we’ll deal with that then. in the meantime, you’re going to “get up, get out and get something, don’t let the days of your life pass by”.

romantic: really, outkast?!?!

realist: you know it my spottieottiedopaliciousangel. and now that that is done, we can move on accordingly.

romantic: to what?

realist: any and everything we want. i’m hungry.

romantic: i hate you. i’m going to bed. i hope you get fat.

realist: and when i do, it will be you that i will drag to the gym, to the pilates class and out running with me… so don’t be such a bitch.

romantic: i love you. thank you.

realist: i know. you’re welcome. i love you too. and when the time comes… i’ll talk you down off the next ledge.

romantic: i’m staying grounded. to hell with this ledge shit.

realist: i’ve heard that befooooooooore.

*and the door shuts*

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the beauty of baking

... a work in progress and the comfortable insurance by the knowledge that "something is in the oven"...

life can be stressful. full of lists. full of tasks and errands. things to do, things to buy, places to go and entertainment for the eye. what’s your form of self-induced personal therapy? i’ve discovered over my blahtey-blah years that myyyyyy therapy, my way to therapize myself is to bake. yes, bake. baking, with like, an oven and stuff inside. june cleaver housewife style with utensils, gadgets and an ever-handy-and-extremely-cute apron. it is not just a therapy but a calling. a hobby. a lucrative interest. it’s fun and the reward is obvious: tasty treats to devour… umm, i mean share.

needless to say, i take my baking very seriously. not so serious that everything is measured down to the pinch and recipes followed in a sterile manner, but serious enough that i do not make or take phone calls while baking. i’m serious about it in a way that makes it so rewarding for me, and through word of mouth, for my  taste testers as well. i wouldn’t say that i can bake “anything”. i certainly have a familiar repertoire. i mostly focus on desserts, but i would be a lie if i didn’t say that i was kinda-known for my homemade handmade chicken pot pie. i think it’s to die for. it is one of those recipes that impresses more each time i make it. i am also pseudo-famous for my gramma’s recipe banana bread. that recipe is going to make me millions one day. hopefully i get the opportunity to go professional and worldwide with it. it’s gonna knock yo socks off!

in the meantime, i have dabbled in this that and the other. i have an extensive collection of recipes, cookbooks and seven years worth of “Cooking Light” magazine. i grew up in a one-woman household. that woman, lucky for me, was my grandmother. she had a group home for developmentally disabled adult men. she was their sole care-provider, and in-home chef. there were four of them, “the boys” as we referred to them, she and i. so everyday she cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for six people. it is because of her, that i owe my love of food. now, let me be clear, i am NO foodie. not a foodie, not at all. i have a very limited set of “likes” where food is concerned. but that doesn’t stop me. she also taught me how to bake. i taught me how to cook (many years later), with the help of all those cooking light magazines, several choice cookbooks, and a lot of cooking tv. not to mention, the short time that i spent working under chef Jonathan at the convention center.

now, with that said, let me tell you why i love to eat, cook, and more specifically, why i love to bake. i have been loitering in kitchens my entire life. literally. having grown up with my grandmother in the group home setting, she spent a lot of time in the kitchen and i wasn’t far. i didn’t study her and mimic her every move, but i watched and surveyed. i’d ask a few questions from time to time. she would always answer without skipping a beat. i didn’t know it then, but there’s a huuuuuuuge amount of timing involved with the preparation of a three-course meal for dinner everyday. she taught me basic cooking techniques and everyday use of tools and other kitchen equipment.

as well, the bestie and i grew up across the street from one another. when i would spend the night, we would get up in the night after all other house dwellers had nodded off for the evening, and just sit in the kitchen. back then, there was a square wooden butcher block dealy-bob, on wheels, in the middle of the kitchen. it was the perfect ottoman for us, and the kitchen counter became some sort of tile covered recliner. we would pick at the ever-present food items; not excluding: a barrage of fresh fruit, some sort of bread or pastry type item and perhaps some leftovers from the previous meal or something from nanny’s house, all the while talking and laughing.

speaking of nanny, she was and continues to be the other thriving influence in the kitchen. she’s the only lady i’ver ever known to blowout two kitchen aid stand-up mixers. “doin’ what?”, ya ask. everything you can imagine. nanny is my bestie’s gramma. she’s from arkansas and was married to papaw for 60 years before he left her in charge of his dog. if you’re looking for nanny, you haven’t been in the kitchen. shannon (my bestie) and i grew up spending occasional weekends at nanny’s house. she was a certifiable short order chef every morning. she would ask in her adorable southern drawl:

“what youn’s want tah eat?”

and as adolescent brats our answer was most often:

“i don’t know”

her response was the same, without fail:

“well if youn’s don’t tell me, i can’t fix it.”

ahhhhhh, the good ole days. she would make for each of us, whatever we wanted. for certain, there were going to be biscuits and eggs. i think sausage and gravy was also a menu staple. nanny would make us … get this… homemade pop-tarts from leftover homemade pie crust and plum jelly, made from the tree in her front yard. what is not to love about that? i watched nanny make biscuits, dumplings, and all the cookies, cakes and pies you can imagine. she fries a mean chicken breast too. i watched her mix and make the most delicious food with her two little hands. the kitchen remained spotless and the refrigerator was always full.

that’s a lot of time in and around kitchens and all i was doing, at the time, was eating. out of that came a fondness for southern cooking, a need to sit or stand in or about the kitchen and a need for fresh fruit. my mom loves to cook too. visits home are always the best as i am provided the arriving meal of my choice: spaghetti and homemade half-wheat/half-white bread. mmmmm… good stuff. my mom taught me how to put what i liked together into something to love. she also taught me that i needed to make Love, my special ingredient. without love, nothing would turn out right.

so, as you can see, my love of cooking is organic. it comes from deep inside me. i love every aspect of it. from preparation to service. i most enjoy the bringing together of ingredients to create one masterpiece. i think that is why i enjoy baked goods so much. they all seem to start with the greatest of all cooking trifectas: butter, sugar and eggs. the only thing that varies is the ratio, temperature and mix time. isn’t that an amazing little factoid? the difference between a cookie, a cake and bread is just exactly how much you have of each of those items.

i’m going to say that where cooking and baking are concerned, i tend to stick to the script. i don’t usually vary from any given recipe too much. i believe that the learning is in using the recipe to make your ultimate goal. i also believe in conquering each recipe for its ratio, taste and texture secrets and then adapting that recipe for your own fiendish fun. methods and techniques are extremely important and necessary when baking. a recipe is simply a set of instructions. but it’s a detailed list and you can pretty much assure yourself that it is as abridged as it can possibly be. removing steps from a recipe is like skipping steps in math. you might have a reasonable facsimile of the final product, but something is not quite right. i use a recipe until i know it by heart. until i can know, by sight, how well it’s going to work.

baking is a controlled chaos. i clean up before i mess up, so that i may clean as i go in hopes of having a clean kitchen when i’m done. i pull my ingredients from the cabinets, drawers and refrigerator and line them up. i measure them all with my level of accuracy and start my process. as i learned in home economics, i familiarize myself with the recipe before starting. i try to have all the utensils and ingredients ready to go. step by step to the finished product. oh what fun.

and now that i have given you the why, i would like to share the how. i am not a professional by any means, but i am an enthusiast. who knows what will happen?? but in the meantime i would like to share with you my love of cooking, (mostly baking) and the wonderful side affects. enjoy!

(that means i’ll be back later with recipes, pictures and yummy reviews)

“the name is kenny. kenny… two hands”

i have a son.  his name is kenneth michael.  he is named after his grandfathers.  i was huge when i was pregnant with him and while he wasn’t the biggest baby ever, he is a very large preschooler.  he is currently forty-six inches tall and a whopping forty-four pounds.  he wears big boy clothes in a size five-six, and a size thirteen shoe.  he will be four years old this coming wednesday.  and while he is black, i have recently discovered that he is living the secret life of an italian gangster. yes. an italian gangster (and, i mean “italian gangster” in the nicest way possible).

as with all children, their desire to exert their independence outweighs their actual ability to handle the responsibility.  for instance, my son tried to pour himself a glass of orange juice the other day.  good thing those eyes-in-the-back-of-my-head were open and my ninja-like mommy reflexes were on point.  as the mommy, i always feel the need to try and avoid a spill or a “situation” before it actually happens.  when i get him something to eat, drink or snack on, he wants to carry it himself.  i am usually able to convince him to let me carry the spillables while he is in charge of the non-spillables.  most of the time, this works in my favor as he is mostly interested in consuming the food/drink items.  more so than he is interested in cleaning them up.  (we’ve been down that road too many times).  when he is permitted to carry an item, i always reinforce his duty with “two hands, kenneth, two hands.”

let me explain one thing real quick.  my son’s name is kenneth.  most people in our lives call him kenny or even ken.  except me.  i almost always call him “bubba”.  or bubs, bubbalicious, or bubbe.  when i use his name, i, more often than not, refer to him as kenneth.  i associate “kenny” with my father.  that’s what everyone used to referred to him as, so i make a point to use kenneth when talking about my son.  he refers to himself as kenny.  as a matter of fact, we had a little spat over it earlier today.

me: what’s your name?

him: i kenny.

me: what’s my name?

him: you mommy.

me: what’s mommy’s name?

him: neesha.

me: what’s kenny’s name?

him: i KENNY!

me: kenny’s name is Kenneth.

him: NO! i kenny!  mooommmmmy, i kenny.

me: ok. you can be kenny if you want to, but your name is kenneth.

him: hmph. (that’s him kinda blowin’ me off.  if it was me, i would have been saying “my ass!” if it was me (just sayin’)).

all-in-all, it was pretty dern funny.  he was very adamant (and it makes the rest of the story a little sweeter).

back to my story.  whenever he walks away, i try to remind him to use “two hands”.  it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth time that i told him “use two hands”, that i realized that he didn’t actually grasp the concept of “two” hands, he just knew that he needed to hold it.  so one afternoon, we get into this same little conversation around snack time.  it went like this:

me: mama’s gonna carry it.

him: no. kenny two hands.

me: no, let mama carry it.

him: no. kenny TWO HANDS!

me: no, bubs, let mama do it.

just then, he turned his head and cut his eyes at me (i know, right?) and with all the certainty of The Godfather himself, he says in a firm tone:

“no. kenny… two hands.”

even with that explanation i cannot tell you how these four words came across to me.  the pause between “kenny” and “two hands” was so purposeful. he had certainty in his voice.  it made me giggle a little because (in my head) i instantly heard the gangster voice, the one that says “fuggeddaboutit” or maybe even “luca brasi sleeps with the fishes.” i also pictured a classic expression, like that of my favorite gangsters: robert deniro and al pacino (in just about anything), when they are nodding their head, yes, repeatedly, but you already know that the answer is NOT yes,  and you are going to be told that the answer is NO in a very firm and undeniable manner.  a manner that, if you survive, you will never, ever, EVER forget.

or perhaps you’ll be made an offer?  one you can’t refuse?

this time, the voice said “kenny… two hands” making me picture two hands coming together as if they were… i dunno, say, around a neck?  kinda like:

“you ain’t neva heard the story of kenny? ‘kenny… two hands’??  that’s one guy i wouldn’t mess with.  word is … you don’t wanna make him use those ‘two hands’.  ’cause if he hasta use um, well… let’s just say, you’ll be breathless”

the story telling is over, but the hands remain in the silent, yet intimidating “immachokethe$h!touttasomebody” pose.  (like this, but without bart. ha!)

with that said, we went to the local walmart and i noticed some hats sitting up top the folded pant section.  there were many hats, but one caught my eye:

as soon as i put that hat on him, i just about fell out laughing.  too funny, and it brought that voice back in my head.  “kenny.  kenny… two hands.” i had recently discovered picnik.com and i decided to have some fun:

doesn’t it look like a WANTED poster?  one of my favorites.  i can see my son rockin’ a designer three-piece tone-on-tone suit with some equally impressive and expensive shiny shoes. i laugh at the thought of him securing the neighborhood in exchange for jell-o or french fries.  keeping the cats out of the planters and the dogs off the lawns.  ensuring the senior citizen gardeners that they won’t have any trouble from the neighborhood strays “as long as [he’s] on the block.”  bahah!

anyway, let’s update the secret gangster activity with this most recent little doozy.  in the last month or so, my son has become increasingly affectionate.  he is now asking me for hugs and kisses and cannot, absolutely cannot, give me a kiss without saying “i lub yew too.” (i ❤ it).  but this new activity?  i dunno, you tell me.  he’ll give me a hug, then a kiss on the lips. he leaves his right hand on my shoulder and with his left hand, he grabs my lower jaw and turns my head (for me) to my left.  he then kisses my right cheek, turns my head to my right and kisses my left cheek.  he says “i lub yew too” as he walks away.

ya get that?  the boy is kissing me on both cheeks.  the way full blooded gangster men kiss other full blooded gangster men at family functions, gangster meetings and obviously, funerals.  ya feel me?  funny.

what does my son do when i’m not looking?  perhaps my ninja-mommy skills are not what i need for this particular preschooler.  perhaps i need to be a mommy-CIA agent: tappin’ [his] cell, and the phone in the basement.”  my little gangster will be four years old this coming week.  “they grow up so fast” doesn’t even begin to cover how much happens in these first few years.  from growing inside to living outside.  from crawling to walking, followed immediately but running.  from toothless to talking.  and even when you think you know them, you learn something new.

perhaps instead of cupcakes and thomas the train birthday gifts, i should get him a nice prosciutto, some “al dente” pasta and a couple cannolis?  i wouldn’t want him to hafta use those “two hands”… ’cause “fuggeddaboutit”, i don’t wanna hafta use my belt.  (that’s right, i said it).


a concert by any other name does NOT sound as sweet

have you ever been to a concert? do you have a favorite? i do. i have seen several artists at most of the local venues and i think that i enjoyed every single one. a few of them stand out louder than the rest.  they are vivid and unforgettable.  what is your favorite souvenir? ticket stub? t-shirt? program? i think i have all of my ticket stubs, and for most concerts i have a t-shirt. some of them have been sacrificed along the way, but i remember them well.

leading my recollections is always lauryn hill.  i saw her at the forum, when it was “The Forum”. my bestie and i had floor seat tickets, for about $35 during the miseducation of lauryn hill tour. miss hill had bronchitis and advised us that she would do her best but her voice might not make it. she was alone on stage with a set of lockers and a classic school desk for her decor. at one point she had a horn section on stage as well as two dj’s. it comes to mind first because it was more than i could have ever expected.  she even introduced us to her son zion, who was a toddler at the time.  good times.

the next favorite memory is that of the isley brothers at the greek theater in august. what a magical concert. shannon and i were enamored with oldies. we were in love with the isley brothers and had just begun our twenties. and, the greek theater! have you ever been there? it is phenomenal. outside open-air venue with classic stadium seating. it was a warm and clear summer night. the greek is high in the sky, next to the griffith observatory. the stars looked like christmas lights. i think i stood for the entire concert. i can close my eyes and teleport back in time. i can feel the warm air on my skin. the cold beer, sweating in the plastic cup in my hands. the music intoxicated me as i swayed, swooned and hummed along.

“liiiiiving, for the love of yooooooooooooou”

another favorite memory includes the ever handsome, overwhelmingly gorgeous, significantly swaggered crooner: maxwell.  my bestie, shannon, and i saw him at the balboa concert hall in san diego.  it was so beautiful.  even when the congo drum fell over and the band had to regroup.  shannon and i were completely under dressed for the occasion. that did not affect our good time, at all.  there are more… janet at the pond. prince in honolulu.  salt n pepa in honolulu. all of those concerts were wonderful in their own way.  but none of them stands up to the memory of the beastie boys concert.

i lived in hawaii from the age of 19 to 21.  i guess that was the “finding myself” chapter.  i lived with my mother, brother and sister for almost two years.  it was the first and only time that we all lived in the same place at the same time.  i had a mantourage (thanks kim) of non-hawaiian born surfer boys.  brian, ryan, rob and jarrett.  i met them through my friend lance.  those were good times.  when i decided to return home to california, it was springtime.  the boys and i tried to pack every minute full of memory makers.  many beer drinking friday nights followed by surfing saturday mornings.  who me? surf?  umm, no.  yes, i tried once and i have the scars to prove it.  ’nuff said.  anyway, during that time, we went to many concerts.  local talent, big name talent, any talent.  i saw fishbone, ben harper and weekly, i was entertained by natural vibrations.  lookumup.  the last concert i saw before i left was the BEASTIE BOYS. you know who they are?  familiar with them?  what image comes to mind? this?

Album Art

or perhaps this?

either way, whether it’s one of those albums or another, you get who i’m referring to.  they were going to have a concert at the turtle bay hilton resort on the north shore of oahu.  i think it was about one week before i left hawaii “for good”.  the concert would be on the retired beachfront golf course.  i know, right?  could it get better?  yes!  and it did.

brian and i decided to go.  we bought tickets and circled the date on the calendar.  the countdown began and we were ecstatic.  concert day came and we were ready.  i don’t even think the beastie boys were scheduled to take the stage until 7 or 8 o’clock at night.  more like 8.  i wore my brand new low top red chuck taylor all stars.  i wanted to “break them in”.  we were on the north shore by lunch time.  we parked on the side of the road in a long line of like-minders amongst the 7 foot tall sugar cane.  by two o’clock the line of cars was miles long.  we had an ice chest, some fast food, music, and all the patience in the world.  the gates opened about 3 or 4.  we were directed to our parking spot accordingly and the tailgate party began.

we hung out in the parking lot for hooooooooours.  eating, drinking and yukkin’ it up with the other peoples.  as the sun began to set and the island breeze began to grow, the natives began to get restless.  we eventually gathered at yet another gate, where we hemmed and hawed until we were granted access to the actual concert site.  and what a site…

as i stated earlier, the concert site was on a retired golf course on the back side of the turtle bay hilton resort.  the golf grass was still there, but the determination of the beach pushed through and spotted the green with mini sandtraps.  the stage was black and out of place.  just off the green was the beach.  literally.  15 feet from the stage were waves of warm pacific ocean.  the sun was setting and the scene was set…

it looked something like this:

it was soooooomething like this

the darker it got, the more restless those natives grew.  i can’t even remember the opening act (that ice chest in the parking lot stole a lot of my memories).  but they didn’t even take the stage until it was almost dark out.  by the time the beasties set adidas on stage, it was black outside.  except, it’s never pitch black in hawaii.  the stars shine so bright.  gosh, it really was magical.

the stage lights started to flicker in a strobe light like manner.  and the familiar sounds of pre-concert chaos started; the “wicka wicka” of the turntables, the “yo yo yo HAH-why-YEE!” from the familiar voices of Ad-Rock, Mike D and MCA!!  “and the crowd goes wild”…. and still the stage is pitch black.

the volume of everything begins to increase exponentially.  the crowd of thousands begins to move and pulse as one.  the stage lights flicker again and there was a hiroshima sized dust cloud ascending slowly into the sky.  the retired golf course was not the ideal concert venue for this one reason.

i would love to share the most intimate details of this concerting experience, but as i explained earlier, that tailgate party ice chest continues to hold the majority of my memories.  i can tell you that i remember paul revere and brass monkey.  i also remember in a brief moment of concert silence i shouted out

“we looooove yooooooooooooooooooooooooou!”

and in return i got “and we love you back.” it still makes the hair on my arms stand up.

what i most remember is that the entire crowd was moving.  there were so many people and we were stuck to one another. seriously. at some point, brian and i were sucked into the crowd and were no longer able to take just one step back and be safe.  we were in.  for good.  and that was the beginning of the end.  i have played many sports and done many things on an athletic level.  but i still get winded, easily (i had recently discovered that i had allergies and asthma). it was warm out, and the people were warm, sticky, sweaty or clammy.

it was difficult to maneuver and eventually i lost the battle.  i started to get light headed which led to tunnel vision.  usually, i turn colors when all of this is going on and brian must have picked up on it.  he was talking to me, but i haven’t any idea what he said.  he grabbed my hands and wrapped my arms around his neck.  he did an about face and began to lead us out of the crowd.  he fought and battled and made his way out, with me in tow, his living super cape.  i think i was actually passed out.  ((alcohol + sun)x hours of the day = blackout).  the next thing i know, i am lying on the ground. i feel the poke of grass and hear the crunch of the sand under my weight.  the warm breeze caressed my body and i got a chill because i was completely covered in sweat.  i remember several voices “is she alright? is she alright?” and brian assuring them that i just “needed some air”.  he was right.  a little air and everything subsided.  brian suggested that we go home.  we’d had a long day and you can never really convince someone that you’re “alright”, after you’ve passed out.

he held my hand and we walked towards the exit.  he smiled and we giggled knowing that we had a good time.  it was indeed the best concert ever.  he asked if i wanted anything before i left, and in fact, i did.  i wanted a t-shirt.  he suggested that the lines were too long and that we should make an express exit.  i informed him that there was no way i was going to leave without one.  we waited in line, i made the purchase and we proceeded to the car.

when we finally got to the car, i realized then that i was covered from head to toe in mud.  not actual mud, but golf course beach dust mixed with sweat.  my entire skin surface was covered.  i had mud plugs in both nostrils.  mud in my ears and on my legs, underneath my jeans.  i even had mud, between my toes, on my socked feet inside my all stars.  and speaking of the all stars; they got broke in alright.  they were no longer red, but dirt covered red.  the white toe was some sort of brown with the identifiable marks of other people’s shoes.  one of the eyelets fell out and the laces would never be the same.  i still have those shoes, and i love them.  i’m sure there’s beastie boy infused turtle bay hilton sand in them somewhere.

that t-shirt is my favorite t-shirt.  it has been worn and washed so many times that it looks almost like gauze.  it attracts attention wherever i go and my brother has vowed to have it for his own (as if).  i’ve run in it, washed in it, barbecued in it.  i’ve cleaned the house in it, worn it to work and worn it to bed.  i fear that the time has come that i should retire it, before it is irreparably damaged.  it doesn’t just remind me of a concert.  it reminds me of one of the best times in my life.  it brings back places, smells and smiles.  it brings me back to a time that needs no introduction, but deserves memorialization.  it is a time capsule and it is very dear to me.

below, you will see the shirt that earned that night.  i have it on right now.my earnings and reward

seriously, i slept through child labor

that’s right! you read it correctly.  i seriously slept through the labor of my son.  not his birth, just the labor.  this will be the recollection and sharing of WHAT I REMEMBER regarding my son’s birth.  my version, through my eyes,  which obviously, were closed.  this is not the horrific birthing story that makes young girls cringe, men turn an about-face and leave the room or gramma’s weep where they stand.  this is the story of my son and i.  by far, one of the happiest and uplifting birthing stories i have ever heard.  yes, he was my first.  yes, i had an epidural.. ok, wait!  i’m getting ahead of myself.  i will address all of that as i tell the story.  i promise to spare you the most intimate details of the process and if at all possible i’ll keep the gory details to myself.

my son will be 4 years old in april.  he is by far the most beautiful and rewarding thing (yes, thing) that i have ever made.  i spend the latter part of most of my days in awe of him.  he is particularly handsome, i find, and just as mischievous.  he is “a boy” in every aspect of the word.  whatever you can imagine to be associated with “a boy” is certainly a part of him.  he’s rough, rugged and brawny.  he’s my joy and i love him dearly.  and here is the story of how we became…

on the morning of april 5th, 2007, i woke up much the same as i always have.  some blinking, yawning, stretching, followed by more blinking.  my body was held hostage by Swee’ Pea (that was my son’s first nickname).  i weighed a whopping blankety-blank pounds and had a belly the size of a very large watermelon.  it was scary.  i called myself a duplex.  my bladder was the size of a small walnut and bathroom trips were not only frequent but almost always bordering on emergency.  that morning was no different.  however, in the middle of the blink-yawn-stretch combo i got this very tight and tense squeezing of my add-on (the du in my plex).  i thought it was my unborn son, also stretching… with his foot in my ribs.  i shook it off and made it to the little mommy’s room with no time to spare.

the day proceeded as planned.  i had a pre-scheduled ob/gyn appointment for eleven o’clock that morning and was also in the process of making some fan-damn-tab-u-lous wedding invitations.  my bestie, danielle, picked me up to take me to the doctor.  when i got to the check-in desk, the nurse was shouting my name.  they immediately took me in to see my doctor who basically said “i was here all night last night, don’t go into labor today because i won’t be there”. um, ok?  she moved on with my little examination, including poking and pushing on my humongous belly.  she asked:

“what’s he doing?”

“nothing”, i said, “which, as you know, is very unlike him”

“what do you mean nothing? because you know, nothing could be a sign..”

“see?!?! he’s doing that right there!” (at which point that tight and tense feeling came back)

she put her hand on what i’m certain were his feet… up near my ribs, she squeezed and held her hands taut against my deformed tense belly and looked me dead in the eye;

“um, those are contractions”.

o_O  “what?  really? ok.  i didn’t realize that. uhh, what do i do?”

“nothing.  if they take your breath away, come back.  otherwise, i’ll see you next week”.

“ok”.

so, danielle and i left.  i had to go buy ribbon for those wedding invitations and that little errand was quite a hoot.  there were two senior ladies shopping together and i heard one of them say to the other, “my wooooord. look at the belly on her. i think she’s going to give birth right here in the store”.  it made danielle and i belt out in an overly rambunctious guffaw.  we looked at them and smiled and they smiled in return.  both of them looking at me with the fear that they might be involved in my son’s birth… any minute now.  it didn’t happen.. not right then, anyway.

we left the craft store and i demanded to have lunch at Cuca’s because, just like every other day during my pregnancy, i wanted spicy food.  chicken tacos, crispy, to be exact.  while eating lunch, i continued to have more contractions and a very amusing conversation with danielle and her mother about me and spicy food.  they tried to deny me hot sauce. hmph. um, bad move?  i’d say so!  i was blankety-blank pounds of currently-in-labor craving some hot sauce crazy woman.  i wanted my hot sauce and by jove, i was going to get it.

i went home, and continued on with my invitation job.  cutting, folding stuffing, gluing.  over and over again.  the day progressed and i was fine.  my aunt left to attend the local market night about 5:30 that evening.  the only person who knew about my contractions was danielle and she was sworn to homegirl secrecy.  i refused to have people calling me every few minutes to “check on” me.  or to be forced to go to the hospital only to be turned away with a “false labor” diagnosis.  i’d heard the stories and seen the tears and frustration of those women and i was determined to not be one of them.  my son was too.

about 6pm, i had one of those contractions that made me pause and say out loud “hmmm. that was different”.  i was unable to concentrate on my invitation project because sitting had now become a chore.  my tiny bladder managed to shrink even more and my visits to the bathroom were almost as frequently as my stifled breaths.  i distracted myself with phone calls.  i called a couple of people and chatted them up over the next couple of hours.  all the while, pacing, contracting and crossing my eyes in “oooomph”.  are you surprised to know that i didn’t actually KNOW that i was in labor?  i suspected so, but i was not experiencing what i thought i was supposed to be experiencing.  knew it, know it or not, i was in labor.  perhaps i didn’t pay close enough attention to the “signals” in my other bestie’s lamaze classes five years prior because lord knows i didn’t pay the $75 dollars to go to my own suggested classes.  $75 dollars? are you out of your mind?? and for what?  so you can tell me to “breeeeeeeeeeeeeathe” while there’s a whole person trying to vacate my happy place!  thanks, but i’m good.  i’ll breathe if i need to, and i’ll push when i need to.  i don’t respond well to coaching during crisis or to being told what to do (what? if anyone knows how difficult i am, it’s me).

with that said, my aunt returned from the market night with cinnamon roasted almonds in hand.  yum!  they were my request upon her leaving.  she retired to her room and began her cool down session for the evening.  at 9 o’clock, ON THE DOT, i experienced that contraction that “took my breath away”.  it was the kind of out-of-breath that you would get if you were to chase a runaway mugger fifteen blocks after he’d stolen an old lady’s purse.  the kind of out-of-breath that comes from “running with the bulls” in spain or playing world cup soccer.  needless to say, it was intense.  i was standing next to the bed, on my curled up toes, with the bedspread gripped in my hand.  my back was arched, my jaw clenched and eyes my completely crossed.  when that meanie of  an introductory contraction passed, i tried to sit down again.  why?  i don’t know.  i ask myself that question to this day.  but i tried, and when i started to bend at the waist, i felt that familiar tension and stood back up again.  i paced around my room and counted the minutes.  five minutes later, ooomph.  breathe.  five minutes later, oomph.  breathe.  and then… (oh lord, i can feel it now) at 9:15pm on april 5th, 2007, the contraction came that took the cake!  it stole the show.   i think it brought a tear to my eye.  i was still standing and when it passed, i hobbled, as quickly as a duplex on feet can move.  i went to alert my aunt but she was in the shower.  i opened her bedroom door and stepped inside, trying to call out to her.  when that contraction passed i was able to belt out;

“DD. (that’s what i call her)DD? um… i think”

“what? what?”

“um, i think we need to go to the oooooooooooooommmph”

“oh! OH! oh! oooooooooh”

“oooooooooooooooooooo”

“oh! ok! ok!”

“well! whatever we do, you need to get out of the shower!”

“ok, ok”

i went back to my room and had the grand idea to change clothes.  again you ask, why?  i don’t know.  and i even put on socks.  i hate socks.  have you ever seen a pregnant woman, in active labor, try to change her clothes?  it ain’t pretty.  i saw it, so did the mirror and we are in total agreement.  after successfully changing, i realized that i had not seen my aunt, for minutes.  several of them.  i proceeded down the hallway, one hand holding my add-on and the other propping me up against the wall.  oooomph!  i started down the hallway, calling out to her.  she didn’t answer.  i kept walking and calling out and still nothing.  when i got to the end of the hallway, the front door was open.  she flew in, went into the kitchen and then blew past with a trash bag in hand.  a trash bag? what?  you got it!  she was water-proofing the backseat of the “Jesus 300” (that’s her chrysler with a strategically placed “Jesus” adornment).

i don’t know if i remembered “the bag”.  i vaguely remember my aunt asking me about my purse, my keys and my phone.. i think.  i mostly remember “oooomph”.  i struggled to the car and tried to fold myself inside.  i remember having one foot on her headrest and the other on the rear passenger window glass.  i don’t know how many miles it is from my house to the hospital but it was entirely too many.

from here on out, this story is undoubtedly from my point of view only and missing a lot.  we pulled into the emergency room ambulance parking spot, only to be harassed by security “um, ma’am, you can’t park here”.  my aunt was running to get a wheelchair and yelling back “she’s in labor!”  my guess is that he didn’t like or want to accept that answer so this man opens the rear door of the aforementioned “Jesus 300” and says to me

“young lady, can you walk, because she can’t park here”.

cover your children’s ears…

“what the *&^% did he just say?  what?  are you #%!&%(* serious??  i’m in *&^%$#@ labor here, @$$#*!3. no, i can’t &^$(@)# walk, and no, she’s not going to move the %&*#(#& car until i get out!”

ahem.  you can uncover their ears now.  into the wheelchair i go, docked me on the curb, moved the car, rushed me in and under the peering eyes of the emergency room wait line another contraction hit me.  this one was earth shattering.  i think i got chills over my whole body and my ever-so-popular “oooomph” had now turned into a very low, very gutteral “uuuuuuhhhuuuuuuuuughhhh”.  i was whirred past the sickly people, past some nurses, and into a very cramped closet-like office.  someone asking me questions.

“do you have your medical card?”

“what? uuuuuugh”

” how about your i.d.?”

“what? uuuuuugh”

“do you know your medical record number?”

“six three seven floor blue blight blue uuuuuuuuhhh”

“ok. i’ll check with your family and we’ll see if they have you wallet and we’ll go from there”

i think my aunt came with the purse, the wallet, the medical i.d. card, but i don’t really know.  somewhere along the way, the bitchiest nurse ever comes up behind me and says to the other nurse:

“you call ob?what’s going on?”

now, you oughta already know that i had nothing nice to say, but what ran through my head was “bitch! what? do you see me? i’m in labor stoooooooooopid!”, but what came out was “oooomph.  uuuuuuuuuuuuugh”.  she responded to my obvious torture with;

“you girls always come in here thinking you’re in labor and you’re not, we’ll take you upstairs and find out FOR SURE”.

again… in my head i said “you mother-*%^&@#, i’m in labor, it’s *&%(#&% obvious to everyone but your stoopid @$$, now shut the %$&* up and get me to someone who can help me!!!  bioooootch!”.  what acrually came out was “uuugh”.

upstairs, into another closet-like room, but now on a hospital bed.  out of my clothes and donning an open-backed not at all flattering, simple hospital gown.  nurse in, nurse out.  nurse in, nurse out.  my aunt was on her phone “uh huh, well she’s in labor right now”.  um, hello?  could you be quiet?  i’m in uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh over here!  someone kept asking me “have they checked you yet?”  i did not know what they were referring to, but after having been checked (this is one of those details you don’t need), i wished i’d said “yes, they have”.

one lovely nurse said to me “you don’t look so good, you’re really hurting, i’m going to give you something for your pain” and she disappeared.  she came back later, gave me and i.v. and “something for my pain”.

zzzzzzzzzz

seriously.  it knocked me out.  except for those contractions.  and once the “something for my pain” stepped in, who knows how far apart the contractions were.  i’m sure someone did, but it was most definitely not me.  picture this if you will; me  sportin’ that death-to-sexy hospital gown, on a hospital bed in a room the same size as the bed, with a vulcan death grip on the bars and my toes curled under… sleeping.  until “uuuuuuuuuuugh!”.. and that’s what happened for the next twenty minutes or more.  the next thing i knew i had peed myself.  peed? you say.  nope, my water broke and they had me on the move.  this is where it really gets fuzzy.  i’m asleep, i’m having contractions and i’m dreaming…. dreaming about eating… eating the cinnamon roasted almonds that my aunt brought me from market night that were left behind in my nightstand because labor makes you forget about food cravings, or shaved armpits or pretty much anything.  i’d been moved to a humongous room that was very bright, but i didn’t REALLY care, because i was asleep.  until i had a contraction.  somewhere between the uuughs and the lights i realized that i had to pee!  and bad!  my small walnut sized bladder had been crushed to the size of half a peanut.  i felt like i had needed to pee for a month.  what follows is the conversation that ensued between me and my nurse:

“i have to pee.”

“no, you don’t, it’s the baby pushing down”

“no. i have to pee.”

“no, you don’t. it’s just the baby pushing down.”

“no! i have to pee!!! and really bad!”

“ok. here. sit on this bedpan, you can’t be walkin’ around”

“what? serious? no. i want to go to the bathroom.”

“nope.  if you’re going to pee, it’s going to be right here”

“ok”

i swear i sat there for an hour.  i don’t know the real length of time.  i cried and begged and pleaded to be allowed to walk and to use the restroom at my leisure.  i was denied.  and i was also right back to zzzzzz.  somewhere along the way the bedpan was removed.  i don’t know if it was used or not. removed by request or not.

so, i’m still sleeping in between contractions.  i have a room full of people around, including, my aunt, my two best girl friends, my son’s father, his best friend and his friend’s girlfriend and my nurse. i’m uuuugh.  i’m asleep.  somewhere along the way i got an epidural.  you would think that i would remember a huge needle to the spine right in the middle of my tattoo, right?  um, nope.  not me.  zzzzz.  and this is the rest of what i remember:

“it’s time for you to push”

“what? shhhh.”

“excuse me, it’s time for you to push”

“what? i’m sleeping” (i swear to you that i was sleeping so so good, i knew it and i gave the nurse hell for trying to wake me up)

“do you want to see your baby? it’s time for you to push”

“you are really getting on my nerves”

the nurse asked my son’s father “can you talk to her?  because she’s kinda out of it”.  so he tried to persuade me awake with “babe” and “honey” and eventually had to get ghetto and snap his fingers in my face and say

“HEY! you’re at the hospital, remember?  we’re going to have a baby, remember?  so, can you push?”

“ooooooooooooooooooooh yeah.  you guys are just rude though.  i was sleeping so good. but i’ll push, ok?  can i sit up?  because i can’t push from here”.

they raised the bed, locked my feet into place and took their positions by my side.  the nurse coached me on the pushing process and then said “we’re gonna practice push from 1 to 10”.  wtf?  you woke me up to practice?  yes.  so we practice pushed, one to ten and then the real madness started.  i pushed for reals (yes, for reals)!  we counted from one to ten and then i was allowed to take my deep breath.  we started the next push, but this time i only got to six (this part is gonna knock your socks off).  my nurse told me:

“stop pushing.”

“what?”

“stoooop pushing, the umbilical cord is wrapped around his throat, i need to get a doctor”, and she walked towards the door…

“ok, but i don’t know if i can, this is bad timing” (that coulda been just a thought only, i don’t know if it came out or not).

the nurse  actually left the room.  my friends and family were pacing and staring at me.  shannon even said “you make it look so easy” (she had one of those birthing stories that makes people cringe and run the opposite direction).  i don’t know if she said it right then or hours before.  all of the memories are fuzzy and mixed with sleep and dreams of almonds.  the nurse returned, slightly exasperated and said “he’s in two emergency c-sections he can’t make it”.  i don’t know if it was right then, before then, or just after then, but everyone suddenly started clapping.  clapping, you say? mmm hmm, clapping.

“what are you clapping for?”

“he’s out”

“who’s out?”

“kenneth is out” (that’s my son’s name)

“he’s out of where?”

“he’s out of YOU”

and just like that, without my help my son gave birth to himself.  i think at that time, the doctor came in and said “hey, looks like you don’t need me”.  they did something to this and that, cut the cord, took my son to the other side of the room and i think the entire room and all it’s inhabitants sighed a collective sigh of relief.  he was born.  it was over.  i was no longer pregnant, but a mother, and i had slept my way through the first act.  friends and family were dismissed with love (it was after 3am) and i started my life as a mother.

you’ll never catch me complaining about being pregnant or giving birth.  the fact of the matter is that neither of those experiences warranted a complaint.  of course, i gained weight, fell in and out of hormonal tornadoes and ate like a fully developed two-ton elephant.  all expectancies of the expecting.  there were some concerns here and there, but with time they all diminished.  my labor was problem-free, minus the coma i was in and the umbilical cord around the neck fiasco, but even that didn’t stop my son from coming into the world.  he was just about 40 weeks to the day.  at 2:51 in the morning he brought my entire world to it’s knees.  he was 8 pounds, 7 ounces and twenty-one inches long.  he had 2 inch long slick black hair on his head, peach fuzz all over his body and 2 dimples.  his legs were sooooo long and i was finally able to see the feet that had been lodged in my right rib.  he was perfect!  SCORE!!!

see? it was an amazing story and you didn’t hear dilated, effaced, episiotomy or lactating.  you’re welcome!  believe it or not, it’s all true.  for the rest of that day, and the next, i was introduced to my son and 94,267,294,571 things to do for him, with him, near him and around him.  i learned a few things, cried about a few things, signed a buncha things and prayed for a lot of things.  i was now a mother and there was only one thing on my mind: those almonds in my nightstand drawer.

my birthday is on tuesday

birthdays are often bittersweet.  aging isn’t always a party.  during our youth, we couldn’t wait to invite people over, show off our gifts, share our sweet tooth and have an overall celebration in honor of ourselves (and our mothers).  as we get older, these celebrations tend to take place less often and they are sometimes not at all.  for some, birthdays are a reminder of age.  perhaps an age that they don’t want to be.  an age they don’t want to turn.  and for some, no matter what the age bracket may be, we celebrate it and we do it out loud.  i am one such person.

for me, birthdays are like personal “key to the city” days.  where i am honored and cherished.  adored by all.  main streets through town are closed for a parade.  children are kept home from school and everyone eats free at the local cafe.  i am the queen, it is my day and i do everything shy of wearing a floor length ball gown, diamond studded tiara and carry a magic wand.  i love my birthday today, just as i have all of the years before.  age ain’t nothin’ but a number for me and i don’t even care what the number is.

this year, my birthday lands on a tuesday.  i know, right?  even typing “on a tuesday” has a definite sense of “let down” to it.  this is hilarious.  in my world, february eighth (um, my birthday) is a national holiday.  there’s no school, no work, no mail and no banks.  bills aren’t due, fat and calories are free and everyone is allowed a second piece of cake (to celebrate with me, no matter where they are).  normally, i want to shout it out.  radio air time, billboards, bus stops and skywriters.  but this year? .. this year it lands on a tuesday.  who shouts out “my birthday is on tuesday”?  try it.  i bet you’ll hear crickets, a brief silence and then an very distinct “ooooh” as if you’d said “i got a mosquito bite on my eyelid”.  both statements hold about the same amount of enthusiasm.

there seems to be an unspoken rule where birthdays are concerned.  naturally, any and all parties worth their weight in after-party guilt would fall on a friday or saturday.  where birthdays are concerned, the after-party guilt is welcomed, before the weekend, and even at the end of the weekend, when the laundry should be the task at hand.  mondays are even popular for celebrating employee birthdays or perhaps sharing birthday coffee or birthday lunch with the “birthday haver” of the weekend before.

where does that leave tuesday and wednesday in the birthday having rotation?  out in the cold, i tell ya!  out. in. the. cold.  even wednesday can become a birthday party a-lister when the party is due to start early.  especially since wednesday is affectionately known as “hump day”.  and that’s just short for “the weekend is on the horizon”.  if your birthday falls on wednesday you can celebrate the weekend after and be as popular as the friday birthdays, provided you leave early and get to where you’re going before the real friday birthdays crash the scene.

but tuesday?  poor tuesday.  tuesday is the birthday outcast.  as the second day of the week it screams “show me your productivity” not “where are we going tonight?”  when you share with others that your birthday “is on tuesday”, you’ll get one of two responses.  it will either be an astoundingly soft and monotone “ooooh” or my personal favorite “well, what day does it fall on next year?”  as if to say that your birthday this year is kinda watered down.  it may as well have already past.  you’ll be granted a birthday, in concentrate, next time around.

this year i plan to party big.  and naturally, with my birthday landing on a tuesday i felt the need to overcompensate with a weekend in las vegas.  per birthday party etiquette, i will celebrate the weekend before so as not to confuse my watered down birthday with those full fledged “i’m having a birthday, on a friday, and i’m in vegas, oh yeah, what happens here stays here” folk.  i was tempted to go all out and buy myself a tiara and a wand, to take my birthday vision to the next level (hmmm, it’s still possible). however, i am certain that if i shout my mouth off about having a birthday, i will undoubtedly be asked “when is it?! is it today?!” upon which time i will reply, sadly and with certain audible disappointment, “nooo, it’s on tuuuuesday”.

i said this in passing conversation the other night and my friend and i got such a laugh.  i can picture the tfss-birthdays (that’s thursday/friday/saturday/sunday birthdays) doing an about-face and walking away with attitude, bashing me and my watered down tuesday-birthday.  similar to the way the bachelor party passes the bachelorettes but are quickly denied the checking off of their “kiss a total stranger” scavenger hunt list.  i asked “do you think i should say anything or just keep my birthday to myself?” he said “keep it to yourself unless you want sympathy”.  we both chuckled.

so, my birthday is on a tuesday.  and i’m going to celebrate in las vegas like it’s the last friday of the last month of all time.  i’m going to shout it from the rooftops, taxis and elevator cabs.  tuesday or not, i’m going to celebrate and tohellifidonttry to party like a rock star!  i’m going to party like it’s 1999.  i am going to have a party in my name, and the rest of las vegas just might get invited.  and when my beloved birthday minions inquire about the actual day of my glorious birth, it will be no secret that it was “on friday”, of course.  😉

teaching tanisha tenacity

i’m certain that if you’re a breathing person over the age of seven, you have heard the phrase “terrible twos”. this statement, obviously refers to the year after the glorious first year of life, of one’s offspring. the first year, filled with well, firsts. first smile, first tooth, first full night’s sleep. first word, first step, first haircut. but ask any parent, and they will assuredly tell you that on the three hundred sixty sixth day of that child’s life, something switches. a button is pushed or a seal is broken. whatever the case may be, the child becomes an unceasing broken record repeating everything you have tried to instill.  mostly it’s “no”, “don’t”, “stop” and “mine”. all words that we as parents say to our darlings in hopes to correct an action that is most likely on its way to certifiable disaster. no matter the foresight and all-be-it good intention of the ‘rents, the kid knows only that he is being deterred from whatever they may be doing and THAT obviously is an error on our part. and so we are corrected.

the terrible twos segue into what i have always referred to as “the tumultuous threes”.  if two is the age of discovery, three has got to be the age of testing limitations.  all limitations.  their limitations, your limitations, the weight limits of small furniture.  the number of grapes they can shove into their cute little mouths.  or perhaps how far up their button nose they can shove an artificial pea-sized foam cranberry (that’s a real life example, and it was waaay up there).  every limit within their understanding can and will be tried, repeatedly.  three-year olds are exhausting.  they are talkative, energetic, clever little people.  they are often smarty panted little know-it-all versions of oneself.  my son is exactly that.  (you’re shocked, right?)  he thinks he can slide anything by me by saying “ooooh kay?” at the end.  and he doesn’t forget a thing!  his faultless memory is the inspiration for the following:

“if we all approached our life with the passion, tenacity and determination of a three-year old, some $h!t might get done. happy friday and cheers!”

reflect on the quotes you’ve heard over time about children.  while always entertaining and predominantly truthful, they usually refer to the sweetness and innocence encompassed in the impish smile of a child.  most intriguing to me is “out of the mouth’s of babes”.  children have no sensors.  no inner monologue.  they aren’t politically correct or censored.  they are pure souls.  unadulterated and “live on the line” at all times.

for christmas i bought my son a battery operated mechanical train set.  like the good american consumer i am, i woke up in the night and pulled the ump-teen molded plastic pieces from their box.  for 35 minutes i toiled to get all of the numerically ordered pieces in some other order.  an order unknown to me and not well explained in the instructions.  i had skipped christmas the two years prior (yes, i’m a scrooge, but it was mainly ’cause i didn’t have the budget).  but this year, i really wanted to give my son something to remember.  a running, functioning train set oughta do the trick!  christmas morning arrived and my little conductor was not at all interested in varying from his usual routine.  i almost had to bribe him to get him to come down the hallway and see his surprise.  he soon figured it out and his eyes and face lit up!  i done good.  SCORE!

now, with that said, what on earth would posses me to buy something that could and would easily fill the empty square inches of floor space that we share?  who knows.  but, we manage.  for the first few days following christmas, the train had to be taken apart, relocated and put back together in varying rooms of the house.  BAH!  curses!  lucky for us, our aunt and roommate, purchased a snazzy black-friday-flat-screen-tv (uh huh, that’s a brand — lookitup!) for our very large, hardly inhabited tv room.  i had train videos and was able to convince my little conductor to relocate the train, the track and its accompanying stuffs into this much larger area. again, SCORE! train relocated, no one walking over or tripping on it and everyone was happy.  was.

for whatever reason, one random morning my little conductor woke up demanding and insisting that the train and it’s 8,756 parts (i exaggerate, there might be 25) be relocated to the bedroom, once again.  we haggled like a chintzy customer and seasoned salesperson at the swap meet.  i explained repeatedly that we were getting dressed to leave for the day and IF in fact this mom-gineer should decide to relocate the train it would be LATER, after we’ve returned from work and childcare.  still an unsatisfactory answer for the conductor, but one he had to accept anyway.

the day proceeded.  upon returning home from work and childcare, and having breached the threshold of our home my son, without missing a beat says “mommy? thomas train in bedroom?”.  wtf?  serious?  how on earth did he remember that?  i know, i know.. he’s young, he doesn’t have a lot on his plate, he doesn’t have account names, numbers and passwords to store, but how how how did he remember it at that exact moment?  coincidentally, he does the same thing every morning.  no matter what it is that he went to bed with (a train, a car, or a book and tag jr) the night before, he’s going to wake up like frankenstein and look for that exact item.  amazing.  again i say; “if we all approached our life with the passion, tenacity and determination of a three-year old, some $h!t might get done.”

where does that tenacity go?  why does a child, who has nowhere to go, nowhere to be and nothing to do, wake up with the dawn and own the type of outlook and determination that we, as adults, struggle to find?  why can’t we wake up and instantly remember everything we need to accomplish for the day and actually attempt to check those items off our list?

it is these questions that lead me to believe (actually, just affirm) that children possess the purest soul.  within them is an undying need and desire to see, hear and absorb all they come in contact with.  they are hopeful, loving and unconditional.  they are resilient and persevering and they don’t have to put forth an ounce of effort into any one of those things. they are free from despair and disappointment.

i for one believe that as we get older, the wind gets released from our sails.  most of us come into the world with nothing more than an imaginary timer stating “ding! you’re done”.  suddenly (and sometimes, not so much) we are thrust into the world with nothing but our looks.  as infants we are dependent and defenseless.  while simultaneously caring for and loving us, providing for our every need, our families are also forced to show us that they cannot always be there for us.  that they cannot cater to our every whim.  as we mature into toddler-hood and preschool-ism we are guided towards the acceptable and responsible behaviors.  we are introduced to birthdays, parties and holidays.  our parents, our guardians, our loved ones tell us stories about teeth stealing fairies, egg laying rabbits and jolly gift giving fat men.  and we believe.  we haven’t any reason not to.  our minds and our hearts are open.  it is here, i believe, in the hearts and minds of children that hope and optimism procreate uncontrollably.  the constant dreaming and fantasizing breeds like rabbits in their souls and spills out everywhere they walk and talk.  they glow from the inside with determination!

aging is inevitable.  we all age, whether we want to or not.  whether we politely accept it for what it is or attempt to fool the hands of time.  some of us are lucky enough to “grow old gracefully”, while others appear to literally wither and dissipate.  everything around us affects this delicate process.  from our specific genetic combination to all things consumed or exposed to; from birth until the day we die.  no amount of pills, waters, creams, lotions, injections or carvings can keep you from it.

don’t get me wrong, it ain’t all bad.  we grow into our skins, our bodies, our souls.  we grow into our voice, our spirit and our love.  we learn and we teach.  with age comes maturity, wisdom and hopefully peace of mind and soul.  and with this same age comes “real life” and “reality”.  two phrases that could make grown folk cry!  wind is released from our sail when we discover that the tooth fairy is really gramma’s spare change, rabbits don’t lay eggs and that santa claus and toys ‘r us are somehow in kahoots.  with every reality, a dream is crushed.  it’s not as much fun to hunt colored eggs when you find out that your auntie em bought them, boiled them, colored them and hid them in the plants.

i discussed this topic with a few friends.  one such friend stated that he, in fact, did not agree with me “at all”.  he said he considered himself to be “a big kid”.  well, that’s all fine and dandy, but i can guarantee that what he is referring to is not at all what i am referring to.  children stand in the face of adversity without fear.  they challenge everything and accept nothing at face value. they do not take no for an answer.  their drive and determination is as necessary as breathing and just as automated.  they do not have to think about being tenacious.  they just are.  ever tried to swerve a child’s attention from one thing to another?  it’ll work with an infant and even some toddlers.  but once you hit preschool… it’s over.  they do what they want.  what fulfills them.  and they don’t forget!

when i grow up, i want to be a child.  i want to see the world through rose-tinted glasses.  i want to be tenacious and not have it exhaust me.  i want to have the memory and passion of a terribly-two-turned-tumultuous-three-year-old.  understand me.  i don’t want to be young-er, naive or child-ish.  i want to possess some of their qualities.  their most admirable qualities.  i want to have their unadulterated sense of self.  their overwhelming forgiveness.  their pure love.  tenacious tanisha?  i think i like it.