Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ten Signs You're a Holiday Jackass - Part 1

10.  When you call your hostess to ask what you should bring to dinner and she suggests a side dish, you show up with a half empty bottle of homemade vodka and a box of Chicken in a Biskit.

9.  You use words like "me, mine, I, my, and myself" when asking how everyone else is doing, i.e, "I am myself curious to know, for my own peace of my mind, just how much better my life is than my sister's, who is my flesh and blood and related to myself?"

8.  You go on a strict no-carb-macrobiotic-vegan-wheat grass diet and it's your turn to host Thanksgiving this year.

7.  You insist on breastfeeding your newborn during the main course, so that everyone can eat together.

6.  You make references about your political views whenever you have the chance:  "Could you please pass the mashed potatoes, though I hardly see the point given that our current educational system is crumbling while we pump all of our hard earned tax dollars into the bloated prison system so that Johnny has somewhere to go once he drops out of third grade and bludgens his piano teacher with that protractor I got him for Christmas last year.  Say it with me everyone, IMPEACH!.  Mary, did you put garlic salt in this?  It's fantastic!"

5.  You drink your dinner.

4.  Despite the "we're only buying gifts for the kids this year" rule you and your family agreed upon, you show up with a present for everyone then get pissed and vow revenge when you leave empty-handed.

3.  You manage to convince everyone how much fun an "outdoor" Thanksgiving would be and offer to organize the whole thing, and when they show up at the designated spot, you're miffed to find no one else is as excited as you are to eat turkey jerky while sitting on Nascar folding chairs and waiting in line at the local Walmart.

2.  You rsvp'd for one, but stopped at a bar on your way to your parents house, and after several shots with names like "Anus Burner," "Red-Headed Slut," and "The Angry German," you befriend a group of traveling goat salesmen from Peru and invite them (and their goats) over on "behalf" of your mom.

1.  You announce your affair with your son's best friend's mom who just celebrated her15th wedding anniversary with her husband, a war veteran who is waiting for a kidney, and during prayer ask the Lord to "help speed things along" while winking at your loved ones.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Not So Private Anniversary Note

Oh Honey!
Where do I begin?

Here I lay wedged between two boys
while you slumber away on a twin mattress below
a compromise, you say, until I get off my hiney and implement a viable solution
to what has clearly become a standoff
(I think we are losing)

Not necessarily romantic
but such is our life together
as we take turns
falling apart
reaching for one another
in the dark

Though I no longer beg you to stay home
each morning
and forget work
and forget the world
just you and I and US
my heart still flutters when I catch your scent
as you depart

Job loss -  not sexy
Illness- not sexy
Living with our parents - waaay not sexy
neither is an overdue bill
or crappy news from another doctor
or clogged toilets and burnt dinner
or coming home to a Do It Right Now or I'll Have Your Ass on a Platter List

But you know what is?
A man (that's you!) who loves his wife
his children
his family
a man brave enough to make mistakes
and man enough to admit them
a man who throws his head back and laughs when his nutty wife cries at pharmaceutical commercials
instead of putting her out with Monday's trash
Now that's freakin sexy

So step on over that growing pile of laundry, honey (don't forget to clean the litterbox on the way)
and give me some sugar
because if there's anything I've learned these past nine years
it's when the doodie hits the fan
(oh man, why is there always so much doodie?)
there's no one else I'd rather duck it with

Kocham Cie.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Father/Son Time Can Suck It

So, Andrew and I are on our own this weekend.
Ian and Mikey are spending the next four days at Joshua Tree.

Mikey calls it "an annual bonding trip for boys and their dads."
I call it Kidnapping.

Though, as far as going against your will goes, Ian was less "help me mommy, please save me from the clutches of my unstable and selfish father" and way more "Daddyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Let's gooooooooooooo!  Yippeeeeeeeeeeeee.  Let's get the heck out of here nowwwwwwwwwww!"  It just goes to show that kids are stupid.

I gave my husband a comprehensive list of what Ian might need during his stay at the "Rock Climbing National Park of Doom and Death Where Children Plummet to the Unforgiving Earth Below Them While Their Moronic Fathers Drink Beer and Speak Using Only One Syllable Words."
It went something like this:

I hope it's not too confusing for him.

I tried to talk Ian out of going at the last minute:

"You look like you don't feel good honey..."

"Oh mom, I feel great!"

"I'm not convinced sweetheart, let's take your temperature."

"Okay...but I'm fine..I swear!"

"That's it!  You're grounded!"


"That's, you're grounded for...four days! ..That'll teach you to swear in this house young man."


That's when my crazy lunatic husband swooped in, grabbed my helpless little boy, gave me a quick kiss goodbye, then darted up the stairs and out the front door before I could charge my taser gun.

Now it's been three hours since they left and he's already behind on his daily requirement of 450 communication transactions (just phone calls and text messages apply) .  The only explanation I can think of is that they arrived at the campground only to be assaulted by a pack of wild desert boulder rock creatures with beady pebble eyes who were looking for the last ingredients in their father-son stew and came upon my precious offspring and his dumbass dad*.


I hope I'm they're gonna be okay.

*I knew he'd do something to make me regret changing my last name
 Dammit.  I shouldn't have rushed into things.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

It's official.
I am Mrs. Jo Ashline.

It only took nine years, but today was the day I finally made the five mile trek down to our local Social Security office and legally changed my last name.  I've been using "Ashline" on everything since we first entered into wedded bliss on November 24, 2001, but each year as we filed our taxes, my husband would give me the stink eye.

"What's wrong honey? Do we owe this year?

"You know darn well what's wrong, Ms. Bartlomowicz.  Why is your social security number still in  your maiden name?"

"I....don't know.  I guess I forgot again."

"Dude.  Seriously?  Change it already."

"Um.....okay......on it."

So, with 372 days to go until our tenth wedding anniversary, I entered a crowded room on the fifth floor of a high rise building in downtown Santa Ana, and permanently removed the last remnant of my days as a single woman.


You can't blame a girl for wanting to be sure.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Truth Hurts

I've written many times about the emptiness I feel when I watch Andrew head off to school in the early morning hours, the melancholy that comes over me as I strap him into his seat and kiss the top of his unruly curls.   His weekday departures often leave me in tears and feeling helpless as he rides of into the big bad world where (fingers crossed) he is well taken care of by the many teachers, therapists, and adminstrators responsible for him during school hours. 

Today was different though.

Today 7:40 a.m. could not have come fast enough.

I was tired. 
Tired from a weekend of tantrums, aggression, non-compliance, spit up food, endless drum beats on solid surfaces, and drool.
Lots and lots of drool.

The truth came to me mid-breakfast, as I gritted my teeth and endured another failed attempt at getting some calories past his pursed lips.  He needs to eat alot  in order to avoid the feeding tube the specialists keep threatening us with, so when I can't even get him to finish a pint sized bite of something he once loved, it's enough to send my blood pressure skyrocketing and my carb addiciton flaring to new heights.  It was in this moment, as he finally let the food  past his stubborn mouth only to let it dribble out in small bursts of masticated grossness that I heard the voice in my head:

Go. To. School. 
Just. Go.

My heart broke into a million pieces as they echoed over and over again, all the way to the very core of my role as his mother.  In that moment, at the breakfast table, I just wanted him gone.  Not forever of course.  But long enough for me to remember what it felt like to miss him.  Because without that feeling, that feeling of not being able to exist without him, I'm not sure I could do the things he needs me to.

Now here I sit at starbucks, and it is 11:00 am.
He is somewhere on his school's campus, where I have to believe that the staff is making sure he is happy, comfortable and safe.

I am forcing myself to enjoy this oppurtunity to sit here and work uninterrupted; the smell of eggnog lattes and peppermint mochas and the faint hum of conversations that I don't have to pay any attention to are a much needed respite from the anger and impatience that infiltrated my morning today.

And that growing familiar tug at my heartstrings when I picture my little boy is a pretty good indication that I'll be ready to greet him with open arms this afternoon; maybe not with the kind of gusto that conquers the world, but at least the kind that gets us through bedtime.

On a day like today,
that just has to be enough.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Picture Worth the Pain it Brings

There is a photo that hangs
in her bedroom
tucked in a frame she bought
when she still shopped at walmart

It sits there
against the calm of the forest green wall
the color chosen by her husband
a man willing to paint the walls hot pink
if she so desires

She walks by this photo often
as she brings in the laundry
on her way to the shower
while she ushers the children away
playfully leads her husband inside

But it is today
on her way past the photo
that she pauses
long enough to stare into the lightness of her youngest son's eyes
the black palm trees and sunset hues of his hawaiian shirt
a perfect reminder of
the mid-June luau that ended his first year of preschool
a perfect reminder
of other things

She closes her eyes as she stands before this photo
and remembers vividly
the events of this life changing day

A mother among mothers
her smile strained against her lying lips
graciously thanking teachers
making playdates she never intends to keep
though she takes the time to take this photo
her pride for her son in stark contrast
to the hatred she has for herself

She goes home on this day
and opens the wine a little earlier than normal
"in celebration" she tells herself
though she does not feel joy but pain

She is drunk by the time he is home
no dinner on the table
the children perched in front of the television
stale snacks littering the floor
she avoids his gaze
because she has broken her promise again
waiting for him to retreat so she can continue pretending
everything is
just as it should be

but he is tired this time
fed up this time
tells her to go to hell this time
and for some
baffling reason
she believes him this time

The memories fill her up
turn her inside out
confine her for a moment
and she forces her eyes open before
they consume her completely

She stands in front
of this photo
taken on the day
when the world fell apart
then made sense again

a photo she keeps
to give her the courage
to remember
a day
she cannot afford
to forget

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Doing My Best. One Flush at a Time.

I'm not gonna lie to you.  I've been pretty manic depressed off my game the last few weeks.  It's been hard to maintain any semblence of personal hygeine let alone blog, so, if you've stuck around during my selfish bouts of silence and subpar posts here and there, you need to get a life.

And thank you.

Between trying to come to terms with Andrew's medical circumstances and waiting for test results that may clear up some of the mystery surrounding his CF diagnosis, I've also been trying to adjust being back at home full time.  Quitting a job I loved very much was a difficult thing to do.  I don't regret it, because I know that being available for Andrew is the most important thing I need to be doing right now, but I'd be a raging liar if I said I didn't miss bossing little people around and coming home with glitter in my teeth.  Also, I had quite the rude awakening when I showed up on the 5th last month and had to inquire about my "missing" paycheck.

"Hi!  Just came by to pick up my paycheck!  Have you seen it anywhere?"

"Ya.  We gave it to the teacher we hired to replace you." 

Apparently the going rate for past employees is 0.00/hour.  I really wish someone had warned me.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that my agoraphobia is making a swift comeback.  The more I stay home, the less I want to leave.  Just the other day the bus came by to drop Andrew off from school and I called dispatch to see if they could change the pick up and drop off locations to our kitchen table.  I'm still waiting to hear back.

So that's the dealio.

I'm doing my best, and sometimes that means putting on a bra, going for a walk with a friend, and having dinner on the table at the end of the day.

And sometimes it means I've wiped front to back, and flushed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Faster than the First Time, but So Much Better

The first time was really nothing special.
Boring, almost.
I didn't feel the excitement that everyone seemed to talk about.  It was over in minutes and I don't remember feeling any different.

The second time I was a little more prepared, though still confused.  I was feeling rebellious and went against everything my parents had taught me.  It was less about the results and more about pissing them off.  We debated for hours while they threw around words like "risk," "responsibility," and "moron."  In the end, I did it my way, though I can't say that it was profound or meaningful.

There have been several more opportunities between then and now, and I tried to take advantage of each one; despite the short-lived courtship and stale promises, I kept my end of the bargain and arrived ready to take advantage of what so many yearn for but will never experience.

Tonight though was different.  I came straight from a long doctor's appointment with Andrew, and had both kids in tow.  I had brought my little cheat sheet, to ensure a speedy process, because, well, let's face it, doing it with your children running around just makes it that much harder.

But I did it. 
I voted.

And tonight I came in armed with opinions and beliefs in causes that have evolved over time, shaped by the experiences that make up the whole of my life; having babies, raising a special needs child, teaching kindergarten, paying taxes, watching the weight of the world on my husband's shoulders when he lost his job last year.

Tonight I expressed what continues to become my developing voice as time and experiences influence and nurture my passions and desires for change.

Tonight I am wise enough to know
that life rarely comes in black or white

But naive enough to believe
that in the end
what really matters most
is that we get a say*

(even if you're clearly wrong, which, if you voted for ____________and _____________, you are.)*