Friday, December 21, 2012

I sure would miss my dog...

You can say you understand what it's like to be a parent. You can even think you do. After all, you love your dog JUST LIKE he's your child.

No. The answer is no. NONONO you fucking morons, you don't. I had a dog more beloved to me than anything. I told everyone he was "my little baby" and was indignant to find out people scoffed at that. "It's true!" I said, "there's nothing I wouldn't do for him!" After I had a real child, I wanted to time-travel back to my twenties and smack the shit out of my younger self for being a fucktard - I wouldn't have understood what it meant, since "fucktarded" has only been around since it sprung from vampire Pam's vitriolic mouth last year, but I would have understood that older me meant business, and was a horrific bitch who slapped the rhinestone barettes out of my hair, made fun of my kilt... and then told me that my eyebrow ring really was pretty fucking awesome - back before you could get them at the mall - before disappearing.

You can't fathom it. You may as well describe childbirth pain to a man who'll go "Oh, yeah, it's like passing a stone, I've heard." Don't even talk to him - turn to a mother, nod at your shared experience and agree, based on eye contact only, that men will never understand. Just we do. And that's ok. We have each other.

Now, imagine describing sex to your virgin self:

"It feels really good."
"Like masturbating???"
"Well, sort of, but better."

Virgin-self walks off looking forward to something that feels like really good masturbation. Yeah - you can't get it because you have no frame of reference at that level of experience.

Now go back to your dog. Remember when he was a puppy. Remember that happy, goofy sensation you got playing with him. It feels a lot like love. Now remember how goddamned cute he was when he did something wrong and looked at you like THAT. You could feel your heartstrings pull having to punish him with that adorable wittle face. Now take those emotions, plus the love you feel for the person you want a family with and multiply them by 10 million. Wrap that in your combined DNA  put it in your belly. Have your body make its organs, blood, tissue, limbs, lips, eyes, hair color and wait 9 (seriously more like 10, let's be honest) months to see what he/she looks like. Then imagine what it's like to have all those new organs you made - in your own body - suddenly go live *over there.* Wait a minute. What the shit? That's MY stuff! Everywhere that kid goes, your heart gets pulled along behind him like it's stapled to him.

In our basest form, we're animals with instincts millions of years in the making - instincts that make us do nigh impossible things to protect those little things. Those little things whose own biology taps and exploits every emotion we have to ensure their safety. I've felt what's left of my primordial hackles flex and raise invisible fur down my neck and back, my teeth part and my lips pull back, and felt myself subconsciously puff my chest and rise to full height when I've seen strangers within 10 feet of my kids - readying myself to what? Attack them? Screech like a chimp? Throw feces? I dunno - even though here and now I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that they're safe over there in the sandbox and that's just another kid's dad coming to lift his kid out, dust her off and put her back in her carriage.

They tell us to put our kids in their cribs and let them "cry it out" so they'll learn to sleep without us. From experience, I know what happens. Your heart pounds, your hands sweat and every molecule of your being propels itself in your child's direction, because this is wrong.  It feels wrong because it IS wrong. Our chimp selves wouldn't allow this. You shouldn't be this far away. Your baby is in danger without you. Call it what you will, but that's evolution fighting our societal urges to separate from our children and give them some independence. We're the only mammal that puts our young someplace else to sleep - because we goad new mothers into thinking that wanting their babies to sleep with them will somehow cause distress later.

Tell me again how your dog is just like your child?

As a parent, this now extends to other kids. You see other children crossing the street and linger to make sure they make it safely. You catch a wayward toddler running from his mom in the supermarket, you hold open doors for people carrying babies. It's what we do, because it's how we're intended to become once we become parents.

Entrusting our kids to someone else is the hugest leap of faith ever, but it has to be done. You can't watch them every second. There's work, there's school, there are playdates and after school activities. During these times, your mind is ticking down an anxious internal clock to the time we can hold our babies again - to the time we can bring all those organs back to our own bodies so they feel close enough again.

That's why this horrible thing that has happened will touch parents everywhere. It will touch others, too, who recognize it as a horrific tragedy, but not the way it will touch parents. The parents of the victims have quite literally had their insides stripped away. All those things that originated in their own bodies and went into making those little kids have been wrenched away from them. You can't live without your organs, which is why parents are never the same after the death of a child. A mother or father may weaken and adapt and limp along on what they have left over, but they can't use their hearts in the same way when their second heart is gone.

I'm angered by the fruitlessness of my tears and overwhelmed by the depth of my sorrow for these strangers. My instinct of protection for my own kids has flipped me into crinos form, rabidly seeking out my children in the schoolyard, senses on red alert; yearning for their closeness; peering over them in tears as they sleep, and hugging them much harder and longer than they want me to.

No. These parents will never forgive themselves. They did nothing wrong and everything right sending their children to school, but they'll forever rewind an unrewindable clock in their brains, wishing they HAD thought his cough was too bad for school and kept him home; wishing they'd been there and somehow stopped it all! - they couldn't have; wishing that something, anything had happened differently that day to undo the unthinkable. They'll fight to stay asleep in dreams their children are in - where they can smell them and feel them and touch them again - and imagine waking to a world where all the calendars are missing the date December 14, 2012. Their lives as they know them are over, and I'll forever mourn for them, along with every other parent in the world.

To the childless: be grateful. Be grateful for not having the burden of knowledge we do. Because to us you're a virgin dreaming about what sex is like, a man imagining what childbirth is like, a dog owner who treats their pet JUST LIKE a baby. Feel a little indignant?  Like you've doubtless heard before, "You'll understand when you're a parent."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NASA addendum (from Cracked piece)

Let me just say that the final Quick Fix was drastically different than the article I submitted...which was way too long, and got heavily rewritten. I'm bummed my favorite jokes didn't make it in, but oh, well - In the end, I get to be on Cracked again and what is that? Fucking AWESOME, that's what.

Here's one of the entries that they didn't end up using in the final piece. I think this is a pretty cool technology:

6) Activate stem cells in bone marrow transplants. Or sterilize nailpolish.

Nanosilver has a bunch of awesome applications. It's is an outer-space disinfectant - since in spacecraft, you can't be spraying Febreze and Lysol around every time a shuttlemate snots into the communal helmet – but even more amazingly, it helps activate stem cells to accelerate healing and cell regeneration in patients. By inhibiting bacteria growth, it allows better cell regeneration after procedures as complicated as bone marrow and reconstructive surgeries. It actually makes progenitor cells from existing stem cells – meaning that fewer controversial cell-harvesting sources like embryos and cord blood are needed. Is that frigging amazing, or what?

But what if you are desperate to make use of this incredible substance and, tragically, don't need a bone marrow or organ transplant? Head right on down to your local manicurist and bawl your eyes out to her about your misfortune. She'll be using the same grody tools she did on the last nail-fungusy client, while she nods sympathetically and pretends to understand English. That's ok, though, those funky, manky clippers and files are now imbued with nanosilver to keep you from inheriting your predecessor's bacteria. Finish with some nanosilvered nailpolish and you've scratched your itch to get in on the latest NASA technology without even having to learn a thing.

New Cracked piece

I have a new piece going up on Cracked.com in a couple days. If they trim any fat from it, I'll post the scraps here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Craaaaacked

Hi everybody... My shabby little blog has never had so much fun. If you read the article on Cracked, there were two entries that didn't make the cut. Here they are below:

Jacques Cousteau's 2,200-year-old wine

On a 1952 dive, Cousteau and his crew uncovered the wreck of a Greek trading galley dated to 250BC. The galley was headed for Marseilles, packed with wine from the Cyclades and pottery from Rhodes. Cousteau guessed that on the trip's final leg, the ancient sailors got wasted, since some of the bottle seals appeared "tampered with." Then, presumably arguing over which goddess would be the best lay, the crew proceeded to drunk-drive the fucker into the rocks just before reaching port.

Cousteau and his crew recovered some 1,500 amphorae, and already giddy with the idea that they were outnumbered yet not expected to surrender, they decided to pop one to celebrate.

Yeah, it was nasty – but perhaps not quite as grody as… (then the Mastodon juice followed.)

And:

The Salt of the Earth…that might be radioactive

Not many people have eaten something a quarter-billion years old, but those wacky NOVA folks are certainly down. Way down. They traveled 2,000 feet deep into the earth in search of the salt that hosts prehistoric water. Water trapped in the crystalized salt could hold DNA or bacteria older than dinosaurs and plants. Who wants a bite?

In addition to maybe holding 250,000-year-old microbes, this particular salt might even have another secret. Hey, where are we, anyways? They won't tell us. It's an undisclosed government location where they store radioactive waste, 2,000 feet underground.

Scientist Jack Griffith and journalist Ziya Tong had a mini-toast with the ancient mineral, tossed it down and declared that it tastes…just like salt. Just exactly like salt. Still, salt snobs everywhere envy the shit out of them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Oink

I have eaten nothing but shit today. Literally nothing but shit. I love how I'm talking about something mundane like being a pig when I should be apologizing to you all for not having writen anything for a hundred fucking years.

I've had a hell of a year. I can't wait to tell you everything that's happened, but there are legal ramifications if I do right now. Once this crap's over, though, it'll be a fucking miracle if I don't get sued for libel after all the shit I'm going to write.

In the meantime, I may as well tell you that my ex asked me to come "home." No, seriously. Two-and-a-half years later. We were on Skype with my stepdaughter and my ex. She's the most beautiful girl in the world and I love her, and he - well, he's the father of my two babies.

He told me he hasn't been able to sell the house yet, and he just can't stay there and do it all on his own. He said this all with a sad look on his face, then crumbled into tears and said "come back."

Without hesitating, I said "No. Absolutely not," but I cried too. I cried because he finally said what I'd wanted to hear when I first left. I waited a long time to hear those words from him. And at the same time, I could see the mirage: My smiling stepdaughter, by pretty, manicured back yard out through the plate-glass window. Our little maltese dog, my mouse-catching black cat. Our neat, orderly home where so much pain was inflicted, all white-washed away through the little window on my computer screen. It's like the requisite part of all those fantasy sequences in movies that test the character of the heroes: "It's all right there. Everything you've ever wanted. Just reach out and take it." Harry Potter's Mirror of Erised, Alice and the looking glass, Daenerys in the House of the Undying, etc., etc.

The secret, of course, is to realize it's just a spell, and accepting it at face value will lead to doom. Seeing it as reality renders you insane.

Of course I know the reality. I've lived through the fear and anger, bumps and bruises, and lies and sadness. So I did what anyone would do: cried for half-an-hour in the shower; kissed my children while they slept, then crawled into bed and willed myself to sleep - so by the time I woke up to the smell of coffee in the morning, the spell was broken.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Everything old...

...is new again. How trite and true.

It was with a little tear in my eye that I walked my sons to my very own elementary school where my oldest is starting kindergarten. The very same crossing guard still works there, and she crossed us over with the same sunny disposition and bright smile she had 30+ years ago.

The school looks the same. It smells the same. It sounds the same. (I'll bet it tastes the same too, for the wall-lickers...)

It's kind of funny to think that I've left and come back half-a-dozen times trying to make a "new" life for myself, yet I may just as well have never left, for the way it turned out. I live in the same house - with my mother, for God's sake; taking my kids to the same school; driving to the same stores, etc., etc. Was it all for naught?

Well, I have my kids, for one thing. And I suppose I've grown in ways that I couldn't have, had I stayed in one place. It's a nice life here, in the upper-middle-class suburban bubble. Maybe I couldn't have appreciated it this much without all those laboriously-learned "life lessons" that everyone so stereotypically talks about.

I can't be "one of them," though. That can't happen, ok guys? I mean, I think to do this, to live this life, to take my kids to soccer practice and bake pies - I am going to need to make up a fantasy in my head that I am a pod, sent here to observe the suburban mother in her natural habitat - among hydrangea, speed-walkers and toy-breed dogs; having deep-conditioning treatments, taking yoga and whining to therapists about how stressful life is. That's it. From now on, I am a pod-observer.

Of course, I'll have to infiltrate their society and act like one of them. I'm going to start right now - right this second - by jumping into the SUV to get a tall, skinny, non-fat, half-caf latte on the way to my bikini wax. Waxing hurts so much, though. Don't you feel sorry for me? I mean, isn't life HARD??

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I got a job

Really. I did. A good one.

AND here's the best part - it's for the parent company of the company I worked at in Holland. It all makes sense. It comes full circle. The universe puts all the shit back together that got pulled apart, and things happen for a reason.

All those days I rode my bike in the freezing rain and snow to take my kids to two different schools before taking a bus to the city, then a tram across town, worked, went BACK on the tram, a bus, the bike, picked up the kids, made dinner, bathed the boys and got them in their pajamas all before their asshole father came home to shit all over me, all the times I wondered "Why the fuck am I putting myself through this?" - well, now it makes sense. Those long, long days and short-ass, exhausting nights had a purpose.

I didn't understand. Why? WHY did I get the job of my dreams only weeks before having to leave it behind? The one thing I kept coming back to was "If I leave, I lose this job forever." I probably let that keep me there longer than it should have.

My hands were shaking when I wrote an email to my old boss to tell her I'd applied for a contract with the parent company. The hiring manager called to tell me he'd gotten an internal reference from her about me. I looked on linkedin and found that he was a 2nd-degree contact through my old boss.

I can almost cry thinking about all of the elements, hardships and experiences that dovetailed to create this opportunity for me. (I've only been rejected from about 15 other similar jobs in the meantime.)

Thank you, everyone and everything. Thank you blog, and Amsterdam, and coffeeshop, and asshole ex, and amazing former coworkers. Thank you bakfiets, babysitters, neighbors, daycares and friends. I don't know why you all did what you did when you did it, but you helped this happen - and helped me feel like I matter, and like things make sense even when everything feels fucked up beyond recognition and like nothing can ever be good again.

I'm not my job, or my address; my body, my haircolor, my anxiety, my health problems, my maternal and filial failings. But having those things, knowing what they are and making peace with them makes me feel like I can settle into my life. I HAVE a job. I live HERE. My body is scarred and imperfect, but strong; my hair is dyed, but pretty; I get scared more than I should, and I deal with it; I get sick from being scared and I get well again; I'm not the best mother or child I could be, but I'm working on it.

Having a job is another piece of my whole fucked-up little human-being puzzle. I'll be able to take better care of myself and my kids now and not have to lean on everyone all the time. That's niet niks. I want to be strong again, and get some independence back.

(Oh, and because it's in America...this job pays about three times as much as my old one. Suck it, Holland.)