It was three degrees last night. Three. 3. THREE DEGREES. I don’t have anything to share, any perspective or scientifically based wit, I’ll just repeat it till you grasp the fear and loathing I have for Three. Degrees. It’s just wrong. WRONG I tell you.
So It’s Christmas time. I guess I should start playing Christmas music, no? Eh, it can wait another week.
I went through quite a little weird stage (this one was no more or less weird than my other weird stages, nonetheless weird in it’s own special way) where I had, what was in hindsight perhaps an obvious reaction to living in Florida and never having seasons other than Hurricane and Thank Goodness We’re Past That Time Of The Year, otherwise known as Hot and Hotter, where I played Christmas music year round. I don’t know if my brainpan melted, I don’t know if I was searching for seasonal distinction, all I know is that for about three years I listened to Christmas music all the months of the year. This is not to say that I listened ONLY to Christmas music, in some nightmarish Walgreens type hellscape loop. I mixed it up with a lot of other stuff. This is not to excuse my behavior, or pretend it was the act of a reasonable person, I’m just clarifying the details. It’s not like I insisted on Ugly Christmas Sweaters at the beach, or kept the Christmas tree up all year. I just had a period of time where I was as likely to put on Burl Ives as Raffi or Bach. I have to tell the truth and say it lasted more than a year.
This Christmas Music glitch happened before the First Time My Body Tried To Leave Before The Show Was Over. Once that little turning point happened, my little house turned, musically speaking, from a home that All The Nine Trillion Parenting Books would approve of, to A House They Most Certainly Would Not Consider Optimal For the Growth Of Those Precious Perfect Magical Baby Brains. It went from Sesame Street to Pearl Jam (apropos of absolutely nothing, but doesn’t Sesame Street sound like the name of a rapper and Pearl Jam sound like the name of a brilliant children’s singer?).
I remember lying in the ER, hooked up to another in an endless series of IV’s, listening to a man next to me screaming about kidney stone pain, and thinking “I’ll be damned if I die without listening to rock again. Enough children’s pap.” I wasn’t on pain meds when I had this epiphany, oddly enough. Everyone deals with imminent death differently. I’d like to be able to look back and say, yes, that was when I first realized I had a book to write first, a mountain to climb, a dance lesson in which to enroll, a last perfect day with my children….but shamefully, no. I reacted to extreme illness by Taking A Stance Against Wholesome music. This means that there was no normal build up to rock music for my little ones, no Shrek soundtrack type of fun but clean tunes, the kind of musical stepping stone that is the equivalent of middle school. As if the kids weren’t traumatized enough by those horrible years, they also lost the comfort of familiar music and skipped critical self directed musical exploration, the kind teenagers naturally maneuver through. They skipped middle school and went straight to the second semester of their junior year, musically speaking. Picture this: two sweet, angel faced children humming along to “I used to know a girl. She had two pierced nipples and a black tattoo, we lived on Mexican beer and Mexican food, I’m happy in hell with my heroin girl,” while eating their morning oatmeal. Can’t you just FEEL the disapproval from the parenting books section of Amazon right now?
Did it occur to me that the children needed old comfortable things, including music, during what was truly A BadGoddamnedBad Time? I’m ashamed to say it never occurred to me. Understanding a simple fact like that is the first step in a game plan. I didn’t have a game to speak of. I coped the way drowning people cope. You kick your legs and reach out for a hand that isn’t there. Rational thought happened after, not during, at least for me. It’s even more shameful than it seems to an outsider, because the simple fact was I wasn’t listening to Everclear and Pearl Jam as a heroic soundtrack to an inspiring struggle back toward life and the living. My only thought was for myself. I was worried about dying before ending my self imposed fast of rock music in order to foster A Gentle Loving Home for my little ones. So not only was it selfish in a weirdly stoopid way, it was pointless as well. I’m not saying that listening to a song about raindrops turning into lemondrops would have helped things, but it’s safe to assume that a catchy little tune about a rich girl doing a guy just to get back at her father might still give the kids the whim-whams for reasons they don’t entirely understand.
It is still so hard to think of those dark days. I can hardly breathe if I let myself think about it. I still cannot bear, literally cannot bear the fact that the kids went through that kind of grinding, terrifying, inexplicable hell. One day we’re reading at the beach in the morning and playing at the park in the afternoon, the next day their mom can’t get out of bed, the day after that she’s in and out of rotation at the ER and they are left to fend for themselves. And it went on for YEARS, not months. I know there are kids out there who have been through much, much worse. Indescribably worse. I know that. But I hurt my kids, scarred them but good. And I did it. The one person in the world who is supposed to keep them safe, to make the house a fortress against the world. It was my fault. Not war mongering politicians, not corrupt police or the brutal poverty of a third world country. Me. It doesn’t matter if you mean to, with kids. What matters is what happens. And what happened is that I didn’t mean to, but I was the one responsible for their sweet sunshiny lives devolving into ones of abandonment and fear. Therapists and doctors don’t get this guilt. Outsiders certainly don’t. The only people who understand the special hell of a chronically ill parent are the ones shackled to that same parent. The only similar setup I can think of is the alcoholic parent and their child. The child fears and resents that parent, but needs to rescue them. It’s the same with the chronically ill parent. My kids are afraid for me, feel compelled to save me. You can almost see their scars, in a certain light. They panic if I fall asleep while we’re watching tv. They congratulate me on a completed errand list they way a parent gushes praise for an aced test with a struggling student. It’s entirely sincere and totally heartbreaking. The sick parent and child are chained to each other like prisoners of war. They can’t escape so they sing songs in the evening when the guards are at supper. Outsiders hear the music and think “How inspiring.” The prisoner thinks “If I can’t leave, at least take the children.”
I love this show. The family dynamic is charming and unconditionally loving, the writing is smart and the humor is so weird, so wonderful, so funny. My only complaint is that there are only a couple of seasons. I’d like ninety more shows, like yesterday.
South Park (http://www.southparkstudios.com/) I’ve climbed down from the cross today, so I’m not going to ruminate about the type of mother who watches South Park with her kids (teen kids, but still). We’re all three of us stressed, tired, worried, and if watching nothing but South Park re-runs all week is a faulty coping mechanism, at least there’s coping of a sort going on.
The South Park ‘Winter is Coming’ Game of Thrones parody is a trilogy and it is brilliant. Hey, HBO? When Trey and Matt think there’s entirely too much gratuitous sex and nudity in your show, you might have gone too far. THE GUYS WHO WRITE SOUTH PARK THINK GAME OF THRONES IS A BONEFEST. I’m agog. This is historical, folks. The guys who said they’ve never met a line they wouldn’t cross expressed concerns or at least pointed comedy about the endless, ENDLESS sex. I have to be honest. I don’t watch Game of Thrones. I’d LOVE to. It’s got dragons and monsters and barbarians and cool people of both genders doing heroic things and terrible people doing almost hilariously bad things and I can’t watch it because I am sick unto death, yea verily, of gratuitous sex scenes. I read the first book looong ago, and I liked it very much, but I got distracted and never followed up. I think I’d rather wait till Martin finishes the series (ha, as if) before endeavoring to read the rest of the books. Back to SP: the trilogy is about Black Friday madness, told GoT style, with little Butters making very pointed and irritated comments about Martin’s preoccupation with certain genitals and his inability to deliver on deadline. When South Park and The Daily Show are the voices of reason, we’re officially in uncharted territory.
Books I read this week:
King Richard the II, Shakespeare (or WAS it Shakespeare, hmmm?) “Thus play I in one person many people. And none contented: sometimes I am king; Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar, And so I am; then crushing penury. Persuades me I was better when a king.” “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.”
I want to roll around in the words like a puppy in a field. Ooooh those wordy words… Shakespeare wielded his pen like a surgeon with a scalpel, like a Scot with a broadsword. There’s a reason the plays will never die. I just wish we knew more about the person who wrote them. No, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. Although it’s entirely possible, based on the evidence (what we know about Shakespeare is precious little; the little we do know keeps the conspiracies alive, because I can easily see William Shakespeare as an agent/businessman of the real writer, and not the actual writer himself. William S. was a mean spirited, flinty, famously tight fisted miserly businessman. A world where he manages the person writing the poems and plays seems more reasonable to me, than writing them himself. I’m not saying we’ve got proof he didn’t write them, but I’m not saying we’ve got proof that he did, and the scant life facts of WS seem to point to someone who is rather the opposite of a soulful poet. It’s fun to speculate about, at any rate. One of the funnest, coolest mysteries ever, to my way of thinking).
Websites I liked this week:
Trash to Couture ( http://www.trashtocouture.com/) This is a sort of sewing, sort of fashion-y blog. She upcycles stuff by recutting old clothes into new designs; all totally do-able. She’s got a nice touch.
TreeHugger.com (http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/5-ways-get-free-seeds-your-garden.html) I am trying to keep a considerable flower garden going on my pitiful budget, so I’ve been looking for cheaper gardening methods. Don’t tell anyone, but I went to some of the city park gardens after the plants started dying in November, and grabbed some seed heads from some frozen flowers. If you’re ever in the business of pilfering deadheads from Black Eyed Susans, wear gloves. I didn’t, and I had to pick little pokey itchy thingies out of my hands for the next two days. I’m not saying this is a totally honorable way of cheap gardening, but my guilt was somewhat assuaged when I saw a gardening crew laying waste to any remaining plants a week later. I thought they’d collect the seeds and grow small plants over the winter to be replanted again in the same area but that didn’t seem to be the situation. I’m going to start winter sowing this week. I meant to do it all last winter, but it didn’t get cold enough for long enough stretches (not. a. problem. right now). I’ve done a lot of reading with winter sowing, but nothing in actual practice, so I’m interested to see if this really works. The advocates are passionate; they claim that winter sowing makes for stronger, healthier plants that have the advantage in development over plants that are sown from seeds in the spring. I fully expect The Lawn Nazi next door to throw a fit when I fill up the back patio with old juice and soda bottles that are filled with dirt. He’s the granddaddy of Lawn Nazis, the Hitler of Old White Men With Nothing To Do But Rule Their Lawn And Yell At Their Neighbors. He is nuts with a capital N. He doesn’t truly believe that my yard is really my yard; he thinks of it as his yard as well. He thinks he gardens, but he doesn’t. He makes nature his bitch. All of his sad little boring plants are fenced in and regimented. I’m certain he practices decimation just to keep the troops in line. My cottage style garden drives him wild. He’s complained repeatedly about my thousand plus zinnias, daisies, echinacea , roses and sunflowers. They’re all ugly weeds, according to him. He’s currently petitioning the city to force me to keep my plastic garbage cans in the garage; he doesn’t like the look of them on the back patio. They stink up the garage, even with recycling and composting, but if he wins, I’m going to have to put them back in the garage. I never knew it was possible to hate someone I didn’t know this much. It’s neverending with him. I’m not allowed to build a privacy fence or believe me, I’d have Guantanamo Bay style fencing up overnight.