2. I once fell headlong into a garbage can . . . in front of my whole class. It was about 3rd or 4th grade or so, and it was the first time I was given the honor of leading the classroom out to the buses. I was so excited and proud, and I walked with a bounce in my step and my head held high. And I also walked right off the top of the 3-step staircase that I failed to see or remember that we had to walk down. So instead of gracefully descending the staircase, I ended up tripping, losing my balance, and basically running down the staircase to keep from falling before I flipped heels over head straight into the big, black, plastic, garbage can against the opposite wall. And as the whole class filed past me, no one helped. They were too busy snickering and laughing at the naked pair of flailing legs connected to the naked thighs (which were exposed because of my flipped-up Catholic, school-girl skirt) connected to the girl inside the garbage can. You know what they say . . . Pride comes before a fall! I just didn’t think it was meant to be so literal!
3. I streaked naked in front of my neighbors once. We had been in our house for a couple years and hadn’t yet met the neighbors across the street, a young couple like us. But one day, shortly after my second son was born, I was taking a shower. When I stepped out, I realized that all the clean towels were in our bedroom across the hall, waiting to get folded.
4. I have never had a manicure or pedicure. And I never wanted one. I would rather have my hands in the dirt than get a manicure. And I really don’t understand every other woman’s fascination with fancy shoes. I’d rather have comfy, functional shoes. I’m so plain and simple.
5. And I’m a slob. Truly. I would leave a wrapper two feet from the garbage can. I would even look at the garbage can and think, I should walk two steps over there and throw this out. But then I would think, But I’m already headed in the other direction. So I would just drop the wrapper on the counter, intending to get to it later, along with all the other wrappers and papers that I let pile up there. To my crazy, slobby mind, it seems efficient. It’s like, Well, there’s already one piece of garbage on the counter and I have to clean that up eventually, so I may as well just put this new piece of garbage next to it so that I can pick them both up at the same time. It makes sense in my mind and I have the intention to be clean and efficient, yet somehow I don’t seem to get around to doing it anytime soon. It’s really pathetic.
A little while ago, I was walking through the house, griping in my head about how messy it is with four young boys at home who have a “slobby mommy.” And when I walked into the kitchen, there – crawling across the floor – was a slug! Made my point for me! (In my defense, he must have hitched a ride on the gardening shoes that I had just worn in the garden. I hope! ‘Cuz I’d sure hate to think that he had been exploring our home for awhile, going, “Gee, this place looks just right for me and my slug babies!”)
(While I am messy with papers and clothes and wrappers, I am extremely cautious about food garbage and about coming into contact with food that’s been left out. When I cook, I know exactly where the clean spots are on my counter so I know where I can safely put plates, cups, utensils, pot lids, and stirring spoons. But to everyone else it looks like sheer chaos and like I’m playing a game of “Let’s see who can catch salmonella first.”)
7. I went skydiving once when I was in college. It was amazing to climb out of airplane, hang onto the wing, let go, and glide back down to earth suspended by a ball of air trapped under some fabric. And when they asked me to pull down hard on both toggles to come to a “stop” in midair, it felt like I was swinging from a cloud. I have never experienced such silence and peace and solitary-ness. So glad I did it. Would never do it again. Hope my kids never want to do it!
8. My mom thought about having an abortion when she was pregnant with me as a teenager. I’m glad I'm alive to be thankful she didn’t.
9. One morning this past winter, before the family woke up, I thought I felt a spider run across my thigh. I freaked out and began to brush my thigh and the sheets around me, looking for a bug or beetle or something that might be running around the bed. Then I wondered, What if it got inside my underwear?
10. Yes, I am a rock-solid Christian, but sometimes I just want to do bad things. I want to say bad words and watch bad movies and listen to bad music and drink bad things and be all mean and cranky toward annoying people.
11. Not only do I have an improper, snarky side, but I also have a slightly demented, improper sense of humor. (I blame my mother!) We once went bowling and saw this really old woman carrying a bowling ball up to the line. And as she stood there, the weight of the bowling ball overcame her and she fell over, while still standing straight up-and-down. Like a tree being chopped down. She ended up face-down on the ground, still holding the bowling ball.
12. I think the most disgusting sound ever is when my sons slurp up their applesauce or the peach juice from their sliced peaches without a spoon, just using their mouth to suck it up right from the bowl. It sounds like they are slurping up a big pile of snot. And now that they know how much it grosses me out, they do it on purpose. I once saw a cat sneeze out a big blob of snot. And then it proceeded to eat it. I was horrified. And that’s what I think of when I hear them slurping up the snotty juice or applesauce. That which has been seen cannot be unseen!
13. I have had my fair share of injuries as a youngin’. I was probably a mother’s worst nightmare. I broke my arm twice in the same spot, once from a cheerleading stunt gone wrong (they threw me too hard) and once from being pushed while on roller skates. With that one, my arm actually had a big arch where it’s not supposed to have an arch.
And there’s a lot of electricity in these freezers. They are so big that you could fit like
It was actually like one of those cartoons where someone is stuck to the electrified thing. As hard as I tried, I could not pull my hand off of the handles. I screamed “DON’T! TOUCH! ME!” to my coworker who was standing there terrified (wouldn’t want her to be electrocuted too), as my face was being all contorted by the electricity.
14. I used to get the dirtiest looks from people when I would push my twin brothers around in a stroller. I was 15 years old when they were born, so people would assume they were mine. And I tell you, the judgmental looks some women gave me were enough to make me feel ashamed. And the babies weren’t even mine! I should have made a t-shirt saying, “I’m just the sister, so keep the judgments to yourself!”
15. But I did once make a t-shirt after my fourth son was born which said: “Actually, I’m THRILLED ... I wanted another boy! So save your sympathy for those who need it!” I intended to wear it when I was out with all my children. It’s amazing how many people would express pity and sympathy because I had four boys and no girls.
16. The three times that I remember disobeying as a kid and the one time that I cheated in school, I got caught.
17. Things you might say if you have young boys at home:
18. I could listen to Disturbed’s version of “The Sound of Silence” over and over again. It’s freakin’ amazing! My husband is the same way. As soon as I heard it, I ran out to buy the album, just for that song. And I even paid way more than I should have because I found it at Barnes and Noble. But that song alone is worth every penny!
19. My idea of heaven includes being on a secluded, super-quiet beach and taking a really long, uninterrupted nap while hanging in a hammock. I also envision being all alone in a really huge garden with a small studio where I can paint pictures. Because in heaven, I will have the ability to paint. (Do I sound like an introvert or what!)
20. I always wished I could play guitar. But I can’t get my hands to do two different things at the same time. I can’t even tap out two different rhythms on a tabletop with my fingers. They always end up in sync. Another wish: I wish we could have chickens, but we are not allowed to where we live. Bummer.
21. You know what’s a weird thought: You get to decide tons of stuff about how you live and what your life is like, but one major factor about you gets decided by someone else – your name. You get to pick your clothing style, your decorating style, your hair color through the miracle of hair dye, your job, where you live when you get older, who you date or marry, what you eat, etc. But you get no say in what your name is. You get stuck with the name that someone else liked and that they thought would fit you. How might things have been different for you if you were named Bunny instead of Helen? Or Bartholomew instead of John? Or James instead of Peanut? Or Cowboy Carl instead of Doctor Dan?
[Although, thanks to the movie Heathers, most people think of Heather as being a ditzy, superficial blond. However, I am much more like Janeane Garofalo’s Heather from Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, minus the cussing (at least out loud). I wish I could be a super-sweet, floral, feminine type, but I am more of a spicy, cynical, sarcastic tomboy. And I guess in that way, “Heather” seems too fluffy for me. So maybe I should have been named something more like Toni or Jerri or Rizzo, something a little less feminine. A little more salty.]
22. If so much as one drop of toilet water splashes on me, I have to take a shower. If I even think that one microscopic drop might have splashed on me even though I’m pretty sure it didn’t, I still have to take a shower. And if it happens in a public bathroom, all I can think about until I get home is I have to take a shower as soon as I get home!
And I can't use the first squares of toilet paper in a public bathroom. I have to tear them off and throw them away because all I can think is They might have touched the floor or someone else's filthy hands!
And I always set my jacket over the head-rest of movie-theater seats. Because if I don't, all I think through the whole movie is The person before me might have had lice and rubbed their head all over the head-rest.
(You're welcome, fellow anxiety sufferers, for new things to worry about! Helps take your minds off of the things you normally worry about!)
23. I have a bit of claustrophobia. It’s not terrible or anything, but I have to sit on aisles at the movie theater or in a seat that has no chairs in front of it. I avoid events with huge, moving crowds, like Black Friday shopping. If I go to a parade, I sit in the back. And we have started sitting out in the “overflow” section in church, watching the service on the TV while sitting on couches. It just gets to feel like too many people around you in the sanctuary and everyone is sucking up all the oxygen and making it all hot in there. I like open, cool spaces, breathing room, and solitude. Not too long ago, I went to a seminar and the only seat left was in between people in the middle of the room. I sat there for about ten minutes before getting so hot, anxious, twitchy, and suffocated-feeling that I had to get up and take a chair to the back of the room where no one was sitting. I probably looked anti-social but at least I could breathe.
24. I can’t breathe when I am changing the dryer lint trap. Once when I was a teen, a friend and I stuck our faces down by a black-light to look at each other and see the creepy color the light made us. Well, we giggled for about five seconds before we both stopped and got a horrified look on our faces at the exact same time. What we both noticed was that the other person was completely covered in fine dust. It was on our skin, in our eyebrows, on our eyelashes, etc. We both immediately ran to take a shower (separate showers, in a friend’s house where we were staying for the weekend) to wash off the layer of dust.
25. You know what’s funny to imagine? That the person riding past you on a bike is riding an invisible bike. People would look funny if bikes were invisible, just pedaling there in midair, gliding along as they hover above the ground, sitting on nothing.
26. I am a bit of an anxious person. Okay, I’m actually quite anxious. (It’s not debilitating, just bothersome.) And I remember discovering a new “horrible idea” when I was shopping with my newborn. (Don’t read this if you get anxious easily, too.) I was in the parking lot and had loaded my groceries into the car. And then I strapped my son into his car seat and was pushing my cart across the aisle to the cart corral when this thought hit me, If I get hit by a car right now or knocked unconscious, no one would know that my baby is strapped in a car all alone. And while they took me to a hospital, he would die of starvation or heat. Terrible how my mind works, isn’t it? (And I warned you, fellow anxiety sufferers, not to read it.)
27. I wet my pants ... in eighth grade! I was 13 years old. We had a special day called “Field Day” where we played games outside and had a picnic and just had fun all day. Well, I was way at the farthest corner of the yard eating lunch when I realized that I had to go really bad. I guess I ignored it for too long, but it would not be ignored any longer. So I got up to run to the building when pee began to run down my leg and soak my sock. Since I was wearing a Catholic-uniform skirt, my friend could see it running down my leg and began pointing and laughing.
28. Did you ever notice how you can say almost anything about anyone when the words “God bless his/her heart” are attached? I don’t do this, but I did notice it.
[It also works with “I’m just sayin’.” As in “That dress does kinda make you look fat. I’m just sayin’.” Or “He’s not the smartest tool in the shed, is he? I’m just sayin’.” Or “That baby’s head is too large for his body. I’m just sayin’.” It seems you can get away with a lot if you’re “just sayin’.”]
29. Things I’ve actually had to say:
[Incidentally, just a few months later, my brother was robbed at knife-point at the place he worked. But it turned out that his coworker had staged it with the robber. So, thankfully, he wasn’t in any real danger at the time. Kinda.
And not too long ago, my step-father was fixing up a rental home at night when two guys (who were high on something) violently attacked him. To them, he probably looked like on old, easy target. But this guy is freakishly strong. He ended up pummeling both guys, grabbing one by his long hair so he couldn’t get away and punching the other guy in the stomach with the drill he was still holding, a drill that had a nice, pointy, long, drill attachment on it. Ouch. They ran, but I think the cops eventually found them. I bet they regret taking on that “old man” who was working in a house at night all by himself.
Sometimes, I wonder if my mom’s side of the family had been cursed somewhere back in the day. Things just happen with that side of the family.]
30. I threw up in the car on the way to the reception on my wedding day! I hadn’t slept much or eaten much in the several days before the wedding as I did last minute preparations. And then it was 95 degrees on our wedding day, and I had to go in and out of the air-conditioning to the heat to the air-conditioning to the heat. And then, I got carsick since I was sitting in the backseat of the car. And since I wasn’t feeling well, we stopped by our new apartment on the way to the reception to take a small break. However, I forgot that they had just painted it. So it was hot and sweaty in our apartment and it smelled like paint. But I stripped out of my way-too-tight wedding dress and laid down for a few minutes anyway. And then we got back in the car and drove 45 minutes to the reception. At this point, the exhaustion, hunger, heat, paint fumes, tight dress, and car sickness got the best of me, and I began to throw up in a small plastic baggy that I had with me. And then, we had to stop at a gas station so that I could run to the bathroom and throw up. Unfortunately, the bathroom had a separate entrance on the side of the building facing the road. So I am sure it gave all the motorists quite a laugh to see the sick woman in her wedding dress making a bee-line for a dirty, public, gas-station bathroom. And now when we pass that gas station, we say “See, kids. There’s the bathroom where Mommy threw up on her wedding day.”
31. And then at the wedding, I was so sick during dinner that I couldn’t even eat the champagne chicken I had been waiting for. Instead, when I got up to go to the bathroom to pat my face with a wet paper towel, the wedding coordinator took one look at me, grabbed me by the hand, and said, “You are going downstairs to rest in my office.”
32. When I was 17, I went to Russia for a week on a mission trip. And we got to stop in Germany for a day.
33. I once ate a bunch of ants, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I was a teenager and had gone to sleep at a friend’s house overnight. Her mom set a plate of cookies by the window for us. After awhile, my friend and I began eating the cookies. And I stopped mid-chew when I noticed that my cookie was moving. When I looked closer, I saw that it was completely covered in tiny ants that had come in through the window. We both freaked out, ran to the sink, and began rinsing and rinsing our mouths out. And the rest of the night, we were both certain that we could feel tiny ant-heads and legs stuck between our teeth.
34. In college, I once hiked 55 miles in a week on a mission trip through the Smoky Mountains. I wore a backpack on my back that felt like it weighed as much as I did. I have never been so tired and sore in my life. And then at the end of the trip, I found out that the other teams hiked only 25 miles or so. They put the tiniest girl with the shortest legs (me – 5’1”) on the team with the tallest people who hiked the farthest. Not fair! (I cried as I hiked the first couple days, out of sheer exhaustion. So glad that no one turned around to see me whimpering like a baby.)
35. I love spiders!
I got a picture of me holding a giant spider in Papua New Guinea. Sad thing is, I held it before I really knew for sure if it was poisonous or not. I tried to ask the village guy who was putting it in my hand if it was poisonous, but he just nodded and smiled because he couldn’t understand a word I was saying. But I took it anyway because I was just so anxious to get a picture of me holding it. As a 40-year-old now, I am horrified at my foolishness. Stupid, risky 21-year-olds.
[She ended up being bitten twice by a brown recluse while she was working among wood piles in her yard. The first time, she got a huge, swollen, lemon-sized mass of dead tissue on her neck. However, she failed to warn me that she had this giant growth on her neck. It was a holiday and we had just come to visit. And I go into the kitchen to say “Hi” when she swings around to look at me. And this giant goiter is just hanging there, like a tiny, shrunken head emerging from her neck. My eyes bulged out in shock, and she explained the spider bite. Not even a few seconds later, my husband comes walking into the room. And she turns to him to say “Hi,” and so does the tiny, shrunken head. And I see his eyes bulge in horror. As she goes over to the fridge for a moment, he hisses, “Why didn’t you warn me!?!”
And the second time she got bit, she said her entire body from the neck down turned black-and-blue. A third time will most likely kill her. To this day, I am nervous and cautious when working among wood piles.]
I didn't always like spiders. But I remember the day I began to really enjoy them. I had found a giant Orb Weaver on our yard swing. And it freaked the daylights out of me. But it was too big to kill because it would leave a giant blob of goo. (I don't smash any bugs that will make a popping sound or leave a big blob of goo! And I hate smooshing the kind where their legs fall off, like a house centipede. Because then the legs are just there, twitching all over the place! Ugh, it's making me sick to my stomach to think about it.) And so I caught it in a jar and decided to research it so I could know if it would kill me or my children while we sat on our swing. And as I researched spiders, I began to see how fascinating they are. And how beautiful and helpful! And I have loved them ever since. A little knowledge can be a good thing!
36. In general, I try not to kill spiders because I respect them and enjoy them. But I did have to kill one daddy-long-legs once which seemed to be possessed. I was in my mom’s rental house in the middle of nowhere at night when this daddy-long-legs came walking up the bed toward me. I brushed it off. No big deal. Just a daddy-long-legs. (That’s a weird name to say over and over again if you think about it. Daddy-long-legs . . . daddy-long-legs . . . daddy-long-legs.)
37. I got really upset once when I chopped into a giant toad while I was gardening. [Ryder, my son, do not read this one! It will make you sick. (He loves frogs and toads more than I do and gets really upset when they get hurt. It also really bothers him that the overuse of pesticides is harming the eco-system and frogs and toads, so please don’t use chemicals on your lawn.)]
“My blister’s gone,” he said. “It popped.” We both looked at the peanut butter. And then we threw it out.
Another time, my neighbor was making homemade sauerkraut. He asked my young son to come over and stomp on the cabbage in a big crock like people used to do (did they really?). I know that my son has filthy feet because he’s always outside, so I cleaned him up as best I could.
“Are you sure you want his feet in your food?”
“Oh sure, he’ll be fine,” he said.
So I sent him over to stomp in my neighbor’s food, shaking my head the whole time.
Well, when he finished the job and came back home, I looked at his feet.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Didn’t you have a big scab on that foot? Where’d it go?”
I figured it was best to not tell my neighbor. He later gave us a jar of sauerkraut. We never ate it.
I screamed for my mom, who rushed him to the hospital. And as far as I know, he is fine today. But I think of the image of him holding his two fingers every time my sons mow the lawn now. And I don’t totally relax until the job is done and the mower is off.]
40. If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be Stars Hollow. (Gold star on your forehead if you know what I’m talking about.) I have been watching my Gilmore Girls DVD’s religiously since it came out years ago. It is my favorite show and I feel at home there, which is strange because it’s an imaginary place that I’ve never been to. But I would love it if I could find a place just like it. I love that small town charm, where neighbors actually mingle and live life together. I, however, got a neighbor that reports you if your lawn gets too high and calls the fire department while you are enjoying a small fire in a manufactured fire-ring in your backyard. (We had a permit and it was perfectly legal, but the fire engine still had to come check.)
41. I can see ghosts!
Oh my gosh, no! Totally kidding. Just seeing if you're still paying attention.
42. When I was growing up, we had all kinds of pets. Cats, dogs, lizards, horses, sugar gliders, a mynah bird that said “Fudge you!” (only he didn’t say “fudge” either), three orphaned raccoon babies that would crawl all over you and the couch. My mom kept a baby deer in the kitchen once (after I had moved out) that she “rescued” because she thought it was orphaned. And we had a monkey, the kind that tips its hat and takes a quarter from you.
You couldn’t trust her so she wasn’t allowed out of the cage. It got to be quite sad for her. I was one of her favorite people – she would go into a crazy, chirpy fit every time I talked to her – and now I didn’t even want to go near her because she wasn’t diapered anymore and was filthy. Although my mom did what she could, there wasn’t much for her to play with but poop and old food and poopy-old-food-covered-toys. (I mean, the monkey played with poop and old food and poopy-old-food-covered-toys, not my mom.)
One day when I was watching my mom’s house, I had to feed her. But I didn’t want to go anywhere near the cage. So I stood back a few feet and carefully tried to wedge some food in between the bars. But when I leaned forward to press the watermelon slice through, the monkey made a lightning-fast swipe for my eye (or maybe she was going for my glasses). But she actually cut my eyelid a bit. I was horrified as I searched for antiseptic because all I could think of is what kind of disgusting disease or infection I might get from a poopy, rotten-food-covered, monkey paw. You always had to watch yourself so you didn’t drift too close to the cage because she would slash you in a heartbeat. Lightning-fast, razor-sharp, yucky, monkey-poop fingers!
As mean as she got to be, it’s sad now that she’s gone. She had to get put to sleep because she had breast cancer. RIP, Holly!
Did you know that monkeys can get offended? They know when they are being laughed at. One day, my grandma came to visit. She hadn’t seen Holly in a long time and didn’t know that Holly had grown great big monkey-boobs. (I was actually embarrassed for her - boobs all hanging out, nothing to cover them.) But my grandma was petting her on the back one day. And when Holly flipped over, there was a giant pair of monkey-boobs. And my grandma started laughing at the shock of it.
Well, the instant my grandma starting laughing at her, Holly went from a smiling, “I’m so excited that I’m being petted” look of pure joy to a sour frown with her lips all pursed out in a “I hate you, why are you so mean to me” look. She knew she was being laughed at and she didn’t like it. I thought it was funny!
44. Worst movie I ever saw: Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was so horrible that I watched it all the way through because I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I felt like I had to scrub my eyeballs with soap and water when it was over. And then there was Saturday Night Fever which I stopped watching because it was so bad. And Deliverance which just leaves you feeling dirty and twisted inside.
45. I don’t spend much time online, watching or chatting or surfing or whatever. Other than my blogs, I'm not involved with any social media. I've never tweeted or pinned anything or snap-chatted or done anything on Facebook or YouTube. I'd rather read books. Real, paper, turn-the-page, make-a-bookmark-out-of-scrap-paper books. If I had time, I could read for hours.
46. My favorite Christian band right now:
47. My two favorite words to use: discombobulated and creepy. And I have yet to use them in the same sentence. Well, other than this one.
48. Other things I’ve actually said:
But never in a million years did I think it actually would affect the friendship. We had almost 20 years of an incredibly-deep, safe, sister-like relationship, talking every week for an hour or more. I thought it would just sound great to say, showing them how important they are to me as a couple. Yet, in the end, I think it did ruin the friendship. Although she never said anything about it, her husband did pull me aside one day during a visit to their house and say thank you for the letter, that it meant a lot to him. (The fact that she didn’t say anything about it should have tipped me off. Makes me wonder if she never mentioned the idea of divorce to him and then I went and spilled the beans.)
But over the next couple months, she stopped calling and stopped returning my phone calls. And now we talk about once a year in a brief, not-so-deep way. Losing that friendship was one of the hardest things I have had to go through recently. But . . . they are still married and doing well, as far as I know. So I don’t regret the letter I sent. I consider it a success. And if I had the chance to go back and do it differently, I would still send the letter. I just wouldn’t wait for her phone calls that never came. (Sometimes, though, I do hate myself for feeling the need to speak up. But what good are true friends if they are not willing to do the hard, important things for your benefit, because they want the best for you. It still sucks, though.)
(Update: I have recently talked with her, apologizing for the letter I sent. And she told me that she was afraid that she might have been griping to me too much about her bad marriage. I think that's why she stopped calling. It's so sad that she stopped calling because she thought she was bothering me by "complaining" too much, but in reality I desperately needed and valued her friendship. We lost that friendship over a misunderstanding.)
49. If you ever want to test your kid’s hearing, do what I do ... whisper the word “cookie” from the other room. I kid you not, I could be in the next room while the kids are watching TV and whisper the word “cookie” and they will come running.
50. I never was good at cards when I was younger. (I’m not much better now!) I was in high school and playing a game with my friends called “Bullsh…,” actually let me just say that they changed it to “Bologna” for me. The goal is to get rid of all the cards in your hand. You discard cards from your hand and announce what you are laying down (face-down) on the table. But you have to go in order. So if the person before you lays down 2s, you have to lay down 3s and the next person lays down 4s. Got it? But if you don’t have any 3s, you might lay down a 7 and a Jack, but you’ll say “Two 3s,” meaning you claim that you are laying down two 3s. If someone doesn’t believe you, they will say “Bologna” and check the cards you laid down on the pile. If they were wrong, they take the cards. If they were right, you have to take the cards back (and maybe extra cards from the deck, too, I can’t remember.)
51. One of the first fancy dinners I made for my then-boyfriend (now-husband) made him “Yelp” in horror. I decided to make a mushroom-and-garlic-stuffed filet mignon. As he sat down at the table and picked up his fork and knife, I sighed in contentment and pride, feeling good about treating him to a wonderful meal.
52. Sometimes, when I am at a store or in a public building, I will suddenly get the thought, What if everyone else around us in the world vanished and all that was left were the people in this building?
53. I would love to have a leg-lamp like from Christmas Story. Maybe someday. (Update Christmas 2020: I got my leg-lamp, a smaller version of the movie one. And you know what's sad? I heard of a kid the other day who saw a few big leg-lamps in windows around his neighborhood and said, "What's with all the creepy legs in the windows?" What's wrong with kids these days!?! I bet he's never seen The Princess Bride, Wizard of Oz, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, or Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure either!)
55. And I love and collect rocks. They are like God’s little art pieces. I love that they can’t be fabricated or duplicated and can only be discovered.
56. I have a picture on my fridge that’s been there for a year or two because it really makes me smile. I found it in a magazine when I was going through a really dark, depressing funk. It’s an ad for a Snuggie, you know that robe that you wear backwards. There's this guy standing there in this blue Snuggie, holding a cup of coffee and doing a little “hitchhiker thumb” dance. (Reminds me of Baby from Dirty Dancing when she’s substituting for that other lady and she freezes up during the dance and fails to do the lift, so she turns to the crowd and starts doing this “hitchhiker thumb” dance. Cracks me up.) And he just looks so happy. I have never seen anyone look happier than that. It’s pure joy. And it always makes me smile to see just how much he loves that Snuggie. (I laminated the picture so that it would last longer.)
57. I had an embarrassing moment the other day. I was checking out at Trader Joes and chatting politely with the teen boy who was ringing up my groceries. And I decided to quickly pop a tic-tac in my mouth. But as I opened my mouth to say something (and, of course, he’s looking directly at me), the tic-tac comes flying out of my mouth and lands on the floor.
58. I have another candy story.
59. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m losing my mind (or if it’s just the natural result of being home all day with four children). Within a couple days, all of these things happened:
60. I pierced my upper ear by myself. Twice. Just shoving an earring into it until it went through. But it got infected and I had to take it out.
61. I can sing every word of “Ice, Ice Baby.” My kids can’t stand that song. I love it! (I'm also trying to learn the words to "It's The End Of The World As We Know It," but I can only get to "ladder starts to clatter" so far.)
62. I have learned the secret of being content in any of every situation. And I’ll share it with you. Are you ready for it? Because here it is ...
63. You know what I think is one of life’s sickest jokes? As women age, the hair on their heads gets lighter and grayer but the hair on their chins gets darker and thicker. What the heck is that about!?! And yet, while our chin hair gets darker, men's chin hair gets grayer. What the heck!?!
[I say “particularly” because the garden was the last “sweet spot” for me, the place where I invested my heart and creativity because I felt so defeated in every other area of life, except with my husband and kids. And then, two summers ago, we had to stay inside and keep our windows shut because the mold smell was so bad that you could smell it almost up to our house. So I stopped gardening that year and let it all rot. And last year, after I decided to give it one more try and not throw in the towel yet, a giant dead tree fell across my garden at the height of summer and ruined so much, especially ruining my desire for a garden and for anything for myself. And then this year, I thought I’d try one more time, in the hopes that it wouldn’t be that bad (especially since a new person bought it) and that I could learn to love gardening again. But the mold smell is still there and getting worse, and it just feels so defeating and hopeless and like I really shouldn’t be allowed to have joy. It’s breaking my freakin’ heart.]
And so my mind was swirling with all of life’s problems and how trapped I felt by them. And I could feel the panic rising. I fought it off for about an hour, doing every relaxing thing I could think of, from slowing down my breathing to praying to distracting my mind with tasks.
And then I started thinking about lung problems we could get from the moldy garage (on top of the mold from the last place we rented). And so I started to take deep breaths to see if I had the same amount of lung space as before, to see if I could take as deep of breaths. And, of course, in my panicked state, I didn’t feel like I could breathe as well. So I kept trying, taking deeper and deeper breaths.
Well, everyone knows what happens if you take too many deep breaths. You start to get tingly and dizzy. So I started getting tingly and dizzy and I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t get away from the problems. And before I knew it, I was drowning in panic. I was freaking out that I couldn’t breathe, and I felt like I needed to rush to the emergency room because I was about to throw up and pass out and die of suffocation. I was spiraling into an other-worldly state of mind. It was really weird, so unlike level-headed, stoic me.
I was moments away from telling my husband to drive me to the hospital, but I decided to try one last thing. I told my husband that I thought I was having a panic attack and that I needed him to pray for me. And then I started sobbing about how much I hate life and how hard everything is and how wrong everything is (except my amazing family-life with my husband and kids) and how I am tired of trying, and tired of hoping, and tired of being tired.
And then he prayed for me. It was a wonderful prayer. And as he talked, I felt myself calming down and my body relaxing. I needed him to pray for me because I couldn’t pray for myself. I needed to lean on him because I couldn’t hold myself up anymore. And when he was done praying, things felt a little lighter. Still sad and disheartening, but lighter.
But it’s amazing what a panic attack does to you. How much it wears you down. I was exhausted. And the rest of the day, I shuffled around like a weak, tired, old lady suffering from arthritis and osteoporosis. And my guts were basically liquefied and my stomach was so tight that I couldn’t eat anything. It took me all day to eat a child-sized Subway sandwich. And it took me all day to feel even somewhat okay again.
Unfortunately, the next day (yesterday) I was still wiped out. So I laid down a lot. But one time, I woke up with a neck-pinch that I get sometimes which makes me vomit. And so on top of being exhausted and having eaten nothing, I started vomiting. Three or four times I threw up the nothing that I had in my stomach. I was a miserable wretch. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t move without my neck hurting, couldn’t handle noise. So I stayed in bed all night until this morning, when I woke up at 3:36 a.m. and ate a cracker. And amazingly enough, I kept it down okay, along with the banana that took me hours to eat. Slowly but surely, I am working my way back to normal. But I am wrecked.
Today (the third day APA – After Panic Attack), I am still shuffling around slowly and not eating well. And this morning, I could feel the panic tickling the edges of my brain, looking for a weak spot to come in. I think I was misinterpreting tiredness and hunger, thinking they were precursors to panic. But just the idea of panicking and remembering how it felt made me want to panic. So I called a friend and told her what was going on, and she offered to pray with me right there on the phone. I felt so much better after that, to have someone else pray for me when I couldn’t pray for myself. Just having someone listen and care felt really good.
I have been up and down all day today, praying very different prayers.
First, when I was ready to crawl in a hole, I prayed, “Lord, I’m broken. Please, I am just falling before You broken. Pick me up. Carry me. I can’t do it anymore. I am falling apart. Put me back together again.”
Later on, I once again got so frustrated thinking about how we are once again subjected to mold and how there’s nothing we can do about it and how the city won’t do anything about it and how other people get to enjoy their homes but I’ve never really had the pleasure and how we are right back where we were 6 years ago when we were desperately trying to get out of a severely moldy rental and how just 6-ish years before that I was dealing with my mom and step-dad's very messy divorce and how I just can't seem to catch a break and how it all just feels so unfair, even like God Himself is being unfair. Sometimes it feels like one problem and one health concern after the next. So discouraging. Makes me feel so trapped. And so I prayed a rather unedited prayer in my frustration, “I don’t f*cking care anymore, Lord. I don’t f*cking care about anything. I don’t care what You do. Do whatever You want. I give up. I don’t care about the f*cking garden or the f*cking house. I can’t f*cking care about anything anymore. It’s hurts too much! What have I done? Am I that bad that we can’t catch a break? I have always tried to do everything right and look where it’s gotten me!?! No wonder the Bible says to not get tired of doing good. Because we can get so tired of doing good when it gets us nowhere. No wonder people turn bad and lose faith. I won’t turn from You because I know You are real, but I don’t care about anything anymore. Do whatever You want. My prayers don’t do any good anyway. I’m done!”
And to be clear, when I say “cussing,” I do not mean “using the Lord’s name improperly.” While I might let a few four-letter words slip out, I am very careful about never using the name of God, Jesus, or Christ in a disrespectful way, even in something as common and benign-sounding as “Oh my God” or “OMG!” Unless you are talking about Him or to Him when you use His name, you are most likely using it in an inappropriate, disrespectful, or “bad word” way. And to me, that’s in a whole different camp than other “cuss” words we might use. In fact, “don’t use the Lord’s name in vain” is in the top three of the ten commandments. And it says that anyone who uses His name in vain will be held accountable for it. Is it worth it?
Also, I do not like to use the word “damn” about anything because you are essentially expressing a desire to “damn” something. And I have always wondered about the power of our words, such as the curses that people in the Old Testament have uttered against others, and the fact that these curses seem to come true for many of them. What if our “damning” something has an effect or opens the door to evil? I think it’s best to not even go there.]
Anyway, that sent me into another sobbing fit, nearly hyperventilating. I knew that if I kept crying like that, I would go into a panic attack again. And I CAN’T go there again. So I gathered myself together and reminded myself that I knew this could happen someday, that I have been prepared for this moment since the really messy divorce when things got really bad, potentially suicidal or homicidal bad.
And you know what? We're all broken in some way. If not now, then someday. But we're all broken. And we're all okay.]
65. My idea of the perfect day is just being in the (mold-free) backyard with my family (after the neighbor’s moldy garage burns down to the ground in a freak, God-driven, lightning storm. Wouldn’t that be nice!). Working alongside my husband in the garden, watching the kids play, taking a walk, and grilling out. It doesn’t get much better than that! Unless someone else cooks the meal. That’s even better. And add some cheesecake. That’s nice, too. And maybe have some good friends pop over for a visit. With a nice cup of coffee. And maybe an hour or two to myself later that night watching Gilmore Girls. Awww, yeaaahhh!
66. A couple years ago, I ended up having Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome for a year. The first time it happened, I got this enormous cramp in my stomach, kind of like a super hunger pain. So I ate something, thinking I just needed some food. But then I threw up several times that night.
67. I used to trust that the government was really looking out for us and for the consumer (when I was young, stupid, and naive). I used to think that they would never allow things into our food and bodies and air and environment that would hurt us. Oh, how wrong I was! After doing a ton of research into healthy eating and food-processing and the power of lobbyist groups and the shady practices of trusted government organizations (such as someone working to develop a harmful product and then going to work for the government to get it approved, or companies being allowed to research, test, and monitor the safety of their own product – say what!?!), I now have a new motto: Buyer beware! Research it for yourself. Never trust the government or the companies to make a decision about what’s healthy or best for you! My goodness, what a fool I was! My eyes have been opened! [The bad side of knowing too much: Sometimes you wish you didn’t. In some ways, ignorance really is bliss.]
68. It makes me crazy when people have their car windows rolled up on beautiful days. Come on, people ... seriously!!! You’ve got to be kidding me!!! ROLL DOWN YOUR WINDOW AND ENJOY THE BREEZE!!! It almost makes me more crazy than when people text and drive.
[I have to be careful, though. I always start speeding – just a little bit - when fun music is on. My son has started calling me “Lead-foot Mama” when I am listening to this music while driving to church because I end up going 39 miles per hour in a Speed Limit 30 zone. Maybe I should stop listening to “I Love Rock and Roll” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” on the way to church. Yeah, I know . . . but still. It’s a little, bonding-moment tradition for my 7-year-old and me.]
Since everyone else’s windows are rolled up, I figure that they are not allowed to be bothered that I am hogging the air waves with my music . . . not when they are rejecting the air and doing their best to keep it out of their car. And so, while I enjoy my loud music and the delicious rebellious freedom of being the only one who is enjoying the fresh air, I stick my hand out the window and tilt it up and down like an airplane wing, letting it rise and fall on the wind. Or I tap along to the music and simply enjoy the moment!
But I do make sure to turn the music down when I stop next to another car or pull up next to old people or a family with young children. I’m not an animal. Personally, I think that the elderly and mothers of young children have earned the right to not have their “peace and quiet” ruined by thoughtless hoodlums like myself.
[You know, part of the reason I blast the music is because I like to sing along ... and I don’t want people to hear me. I’m also afraid that I might have butt-dialed someone on my cell-phone and they are listening to me singing in my car. But they won’t be able to hear me over loud music. And I don't trust that OnStar thing in the car. I was told that it never got hooked up, but I still think that green light means that they are listening. Always listening. So if they are going to listen to me while I sing, then I am going to blast the music so loud that it hurts their ears. Oh, they're listening. Probably through all your smartphone and internet-connected appliances too. And those little cameras on your computers and phones and tablets, etc. ... they're watching you. (I tape over all those camera spots. I just don't trust 'em. An even then, I wonder if there's a hidden camera I don't know about.)
69. A little while back, my husband had taken the kids somewhere for the day. And I decided to go to the store alone. As I was driving, I realized that for the first time in over a decade, I didn’t have to check in with anyone. I didn’t kiss anyone goodbye or tell them where I was going or when I would be back. No one knew where I was or what I was doing. I was completely “my own master.” It was pure freedom! Like back before I had kids or got married.
70. I have the listen to music a lot, like when I am doing dishes or gardening or taking a walk. If I am allowed to think for too long, my mind goes to dark places or griping thoughts. And while I love my fun music, the one I listen to most – am addicted to – is The City Harmonic. I listen to it daily. That is, until my MP3 player broke. Figures! If I was listening to crappy music, it probably would still be working. But since I listen mostly to godly, inspiring music on it, of course it stopped working.
71. I told my husband that there is one place I want to visit when the kids are grown: Margaritaville. However, I don’t think I’ll ever really get there because I hate alcohol. But sometimes, I really wish I liked it. (Just being honest!)
72. There is a new song out that drives me crazy, even if the tune is catchy. I don’t know who sings it, but it’s basically about how if you are the kind of girl who likes to let some guy have sex with you but without having him commit to you in any way, then he (the guy singing it) is the perfect guy for you. And if you are the kind of girl who won’t make some guy commit to you but will let him use your body for awhile, then you are the perfect girl for him.
73. Despite the fact that I have been a Christian for three decades, I am still learning how to trust God when things are bad, how to take my eyes off of my circumstances and praise Him when my heart is broken, and how to pray when the words won’t come, when I feel like it doesn’t make a difference.
75. There’s a meal that I’ve been serving at our house lately that’s good for the kids. I call it “The Pioneer Meal.” And the recipe is this: “You're gonna eat what we’ve got and be thankful you’ve got it.”
This is what I tell my kids when they complain about what I am serving and whine about why they have to eat it. I tell them, “If the pioneers only had a can of beans, they ate the beans and were thankful for it.”
It’s good for kids to realize that they don’t always get what they want, that they can’t waste food just because they “don’t like it,” and that they should be grateful for whatever mom serves because at least they have food to eat.
If you’ve got whiners in your house at mealtime, try this recipe sometime. When they grumble about the disappointing food on their plate, you simply say, “I made Pioneer Dinner tonight. It’s ‘you eat what we’ve got and be thankful you’ve got it!’” It won’t stop the whining, but it makes it more fun for you.
76. Another thing that makes my kids crazy besides the pioneer meal is that I sing all the time. I song along with my favorite music. If they whine, I sing lines from songs about not being able to always get what you want or about how they are acting like it’s the end of the world as they know it. When I am scolding them or telling them to pick up stuff or waking them up or reminding them to brush their teeth, I sing it. So does my husband. It makes them crazy.
But if your friends find out,
then your friends are gonna laugh
when they see you’ve got a wet behind.
But if your pants get wet
then I’ll be upset
‘cuz I’ll have to wash your pants again.
Instead of just deciding to go, oh, oh, oh . . .
You can Pee-Pee Dance.
You can Pee-Pee Dance.
That’s the Pee-Pee Dance. Hey!”
It might drive them crazy now and they scream and run away when we start singing, but I know that they will appreciate it when they are older and learn how stodgy and grumpy and yelly other families can be.
When my kids reflect back on the mom of their youth, I want them to say, “I remember that mom was always singing. Whether she was happy, mad, frustrated, or sad, she sang. It drove me crazy then, but I realize now how much I really loved it.”