The holidays always seem to ambush me… Some sort of unexpected gust of wind that takes me from the mundane life I have come to shape for myself. And as quickly as they come- they vacate, leaving me with the debris of wrapping paper, the sweet memories of family and good food and joking banter with my sweet but absolutely irritating younger brother. This year proved to be no exception. I sat on Christmas eve wondering where the eff Christmas spirit was hiding, why I had yet to embrace it when all of a sudden it was Christmas day and then, before I had time to register it, it was the day after Christmas. The holiday hangover.
My best friend’s dad is sick. From needing a transplant to life support to up and staring down hospice care…. it’s a frightening thing to deal with. This is D’s dad… the fellow blogger, fellow cynic, fellow over-analytic woman who is my soul mate who mentions me in her blog which may or may not qualify me as famous (www.youkitschme.wordpress.com). During one of the visits I made to his hospial bed, Baba Gut (a nickname he ordained himself with… which is, in all honesty, quite fitting), imparted words of wisdom on us. Words that made me cry, words that hit home, words that had impeccable timing, and words that I’ll let D explain if she ever decides to do that… because they aren’t mine to say.
But this was the first holiday season that was coupled with reality of growing up. Looking around the table on Christmas night, I realized that the people gathered around my heart each year will change. I will gather new souls to mine, while mourning the loss of others, and each year the numbers will more likely than not dwindle. Life is, like someone said in Esquire recently (don’t judge my less-than-profound reference, ass), a generally sad thing- with bright spots that are moments of happiness. So this year taught me another lesson I never asked for. (Isn’t that always the way? Lessons, flying like knives from the back, never the front where we can prepare and ready ourselves… becuase we would duck them and the wisdom that they painfully force upon us). What was the lesson?
Years ending in even numbers will always be worse than years ending in odd numbers.
I don’t care if I sound crazy- I say/write this with a very solemn face and brown eyes that remain unblinking. Crazy works for me, and I have long since shed that accompanying shame. Screw you.
That’s mostly a joke. Key word being mostly. But 2010 wasn’t my year… I’ve explained this as both an excuse, a scapegoat and a target repeatedly on this very screen. Normally, I obligingly write a yearly wrap-up sort of thing… As if my life is a non-profit that owes an explanation for how it spent its time to a board of old, mostly white directors. Only it’s not. And if there were a board of directors in my life, it would be the few people I’ve decided I’d give a flying fuck about… which don’t want to read any more of my whining. The lesson being, then, that I can’t keep perpetuating the same shit that I say makes me miserable. People hurt you. Life has moments that make you curse at innocent plants and then at yourself for being such a loon that you could possibly mutter evil words at inanimate objects. At the worst moment, you’ll stub your toe and traffic will suck. You should have known better and
if you didn’t- now you do. In sum: growing up sucks.
Which is why I am letting 2010 pass without a fight. I’ve sort of gone into hiding, reading the books I’ve long stared at but always said I never had the time for and actually going to the movies (while smuggling diet coke in my purse because fountain soda is fucking gross). During the remaining days of this year- I won’t put up a fight, I won’t argue my case and I won’t continue the bleating drone of how I was a victim of the economy, my family, life, and people I should have known better about. The only thing I was sincerely a victim of was myself. And maybe credit card people. They’re like vultures. All roads of blame trace back to me, and I finally have come to terms with this.
So. I won’t be writing about how much I hated 2010. Doesn’t mean I didn’t. But once upon a time, I had a conversation with an aunt who used to journal- used to jot down her memories and repeated the words of others and her own into notebooks stashed away in some anonymous box. When she was sick with cancer, I sat with her a few mornings and while sitting, wrote feverishly my own memories. I asked why she stopped writing. Her response burns me, years later: I like to think I stopped recording life and starting living my own.
Like Baba Gut, Aunt Betsy found wisdom in dark hours. I am still trying to find the balance between recording and living but swing violently from one end to the other in the mean time. And although I don’t know if I do a good job of putting the wisdom thrown at me to good use, I file it away. And like the other ones, those lessons will come to reveal themselves when I am a student deserving of learning whatever they have to teach.
Good Riddance, 2010. Kiss my ass. (okay. I’m a slow learner).
It’s raining really hard. Which- I’ve heard- happens. But normally not in California so this is new, and a little scary and probably partially responsible for me not being able to fall asleep.
Regardless of my misanthropic tendencies cited here, I really do believe in the world, and the (majority) of people in it. Which is why I spend every Tuesday and some Thursdays hanging out with homeless babies. I look forward to it all week, primarily because who doesn’t love babies? and also because my life is kind of filled with things that I dread doing. But this place is where miracles happen.
I can’t give any details because a handful of the moms who live in the shelter are abused or looking for a way to run from their addictions or crazy stalkers, or whatever. But they, trust me on this, are incredible. And all I have to do is walk in, grab my baby (I’ve fallen madly in love with a 7 month old who just started crawling), and hold him and play with him and just watch his two little teeth show when he smiles wider than I initially thought his face to be capable of. He’s insanely happy and offers me a workout chasing after him. He likes to play peek-a-boo and I like to make funny faces, so we get along quite perfectly.
This place, I’ve been to before. I’ve volunteered here a few years ago, where I met a little girl (4 yrs) named Jessalyn who was being given up for adoption. When I found out she was one of the ones being given up, I didn’t really know how to be around her. Did she know she was moving away? Was she scared? Did she feel unwanted? This little girl, however, was a bad-ass. She proudly announced to me one day that “A lot of people love me.” I didn’t dispute this. Jessa was beautiful, and tiny with long hair and goofy bangs… it would be impossible not to adore this itty-bitty person who was actually kind of bossy. So I said, “I bet they do!” And she explained to me that she had both a heart mommy and a belly mommy, and she got a heart daddy too! There was no fear in her little face, no shame, no worry about where she’d end up. The sheer fact that so many people loved her and wanted to care for her was all she needed.
Jessalyn, and this shelter are why I decided to adopt. I could be a heart mommy… I feel it in my gut that I could do that for a child, and I could make them proud like Jessa was to have a parent like me. But- time has taught me that being a belly mommy is in my future, too. The joy of announcing to my parents that I am pregnant, the feeling of a little kick, and a hugely swollen belly (that I will totally complain about) are things that I now want.
So while I watch these women with absolutely nothing left find ways to make their babies proud, I have found my own direction and my own strength. It reminds me, on days like today when I have run out of reasons to think so, that people really are good. They mean well, but sometimes get a little lost- some though, find their way back. Every Tuesday, I watch magic happen and get to play a (very small) role in it.
Even if the rain is bashing the skull of Southern California in, and the economy sucks, and people get sick, and I sort of forgot who I was this year, I’ve got hope. And should I ever get lost, I know where to go: a tiny building with a whole lot of strollers and an abundance of beauty inside. Thank you Jessalyn, the shelter, and that gorgeous little boy who spit up on my shirt a few hours ago for reminding me to believe.
My roommate, D, proudly announced to me that our beloved (cough, NOT, cough) President Mr. O is a smoker. She also declared that knowing this, she likes him even more than before… and she liked him A LOT before. Like, annoyingly, a lot.
I already knew he was a smoker. I already judged him for it, so this wasn’t news to me, although I explained to her that I thought it was alarming that our President fell victim to something as obviously stupid as smoking cigarettes… which, on occasion, I also fall victim to. But before you start judging on your stupid high horse- I am not President. I am, therefore, allowed to participate in social smoking and binge drinking and questionable behaviors in bars. Barack Obama, is not. (See the logic there?)
If you do see the logic, congratulations! You are already smarter than D, who told me that she preferred a President who killed himself slowly over a President who hunted innocent animals. “So, not only do you want a President who’s a martyr, but you are hating on George Dubya because he killed animals to eat? You want an anorexic martyr to lead the free world?” At this point I came to terms with the fact that in upcoming elections, I would have to find ways to hold D captive so she couldn’t vote. (Which I’m fairly certain is illegal.. but it’s for everyone’s own good).
I get it, people have vices. I have a lot of them, perhaps more than the average person… but because I’m too frightened by drugs to be a heroin addict, my vices garner little to no attention. I do, however, have an addiction to diet coke. In fact, I am drinking diet coke #5 as I write… and wondering how bad it could possibly be for me.
First of all, it’s diet. So me not getting fat is a huge plus since being fat is maybe my biggest fear. Except that it’s definitely my biggest fear. And there’s only ten ingredients, which I know because I just spilled them all over my lap when I rotated the very full can to count them. Admittedly, I can’t pronounce most of them and I’ve heard from a number of health-conscious (which is code for “annoying”) friends about the dangers of aspartame, but I’m feeling pretty good about this addiction. It even has citric acid, which has to be good… Vitamin C, right? Score.
Evidently though, this aspartame stuff isn’t all that wonderful for you. I just googled it and was so frightened by the initial results that I x’ed out of the window hoping I could pretend like I never saw any of it. But I did. And it said “lupus”. And “multiple sclerosis”. And “epidemic”. All of which sound only slightly less than fabulous.
Among my other vices, I would list wine (and then list it a few more times), laziness, reading bad romance novels, facebook stalking and picking my lips until they start to bleed and make people around me nervous. But as far as I know, facebook stalking won’t ever give you lupus… nor will any of the other listed activities which makes me start to question my love of diet coke. Conversely, diet coke can’t steal hours of my life and my remaining shreds of dignity like alcohol or facebook (or the two combined… eek!) can. This is tough.
In reality, it’s not so tough, because I won’t be giving up any of those things anytime soon. Just like I bet Mr. O won’t be quitting the cigarettes anytime in the near future. (And why would he? He’s a good-looking Marlboro man. See above). I whole-heartedly that I make bad choices on what I would estimate to be an hourly basis. On no level am I saying that I am smarter than Barack Obama (okay, maybe on like, one level). What I am saying is that like Barack, my addiction will probably kill me one day too. The important thing, friends, is that I don’t die fat.
My priorities are a wreck.