Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Shut Up, It's So Bright and My Skin Hurts


"Jesus. Take those off. You're being....narcissistic."


I tried to laugh it off, but his words stung. He thought I was being stubborn, which didn't surprise him. We also got in a debate over whether the debate (!) would be the cold open on SNL that night. I would like to publicly declare here, in writing, that he was right and I was wrong, which I have been more of than right lately.

Mark your calendars.

But I wasn't budging on the sunglasses. I wouldn't take them off. He threatened to post my picture to Facebook and say so, which he knew I'd hate. This is how it ended up, though he ultimately chose his words more carefully:

At the Spokane Chiefs home opener and yes, Heather has not
taken her sunglasses off and has no plans to.

I had finally discovered a way to tolerate navigating my own personal nightmare and it was pissing him off. He looked around to see if people were staring at me, this woman who was wearing her shades inside.

Honestly, if they were I didn't give a shit.

Here's a little not-so-secret-secret about me: things like concerts and sporting events and carnivals and amusement parks and raves and parades and some kinds of church and monster truck shows and smash bashes and things with loud music and bright flashing lights like the sun or the moon above a sliver and big crowds and loads of stimulation? Not for me.

Very disorienting.


Unfortunately, the rest of my family thinks it's tits. So I can either be a Sad Sally and stay home for the rest of their lives and miss out, or I can go with them and be miserable (and sometimes get legitimately sick) or I can go and block as much stimulation as possible and look, according to hubs, like a narcissist.

I think he's missing the right description here. A narcissist would be like taking a million selfies or something. I will admit I look like a lunatic. Or someone with a bad case of pink eye that I'm woefully ashamed of at minimum.

Oh, and I'm also wearing ear plugs, which you can't see, thanks to my hair.

Oh. My hair. Let's talk about that for just a second.

Does anybody else do that thing where you give somebody hundreds of dollars to make your hair look like the basic bitches drinking PSL's in UGGs and soft scarves and perfect messy buns in the Pinterest pins you're showing them, and you tell them you'd like your highlights specifically "not stripey" and they never write anything down and the next time they do something totally different and they always massage the shit out of your head which is like, fancy and part of the millions of dollars that other fancy posh women who go there pay for them to do and so they must like it so you sit still and pretend that it's nice because it must be nice because everyone else likes it but it really feels just like this sounds (as in your head is still dirty and trapped between two things you don't want touching it anymore):





And then the next day when you look exactly the same as you did the week before you think, "bloody hell, I should have just sent all my hair money to Kim to fly here to fix my hair instead."

No? Just me? Ok.

So here I am at this hockey game just overwhelmingly happy that I have made this discovery wherein I can participate in the happy fun time activities with my family and not be completely miserable. I am thinking of the other things that I will be able to do. I slowly start to realize how effed up I am.

Rue 21? Maurices? NorthTown Mall? Have you been there? I cannot concentrate. I have had to just up and leave because l literally cannot. It is so damn loud. It makes me want to cry. Because I desperately need some new leggings because there is a hole square in the crotch of my old ones and I already know this but one of these days someone else is gonna let me know this and it's either going to be a very old woman or a very young boy and they will let me know very loudly in front of an audience of no less than twelve of my peers and five strangers who already have a shaky regard for me, plus like three people who hate my guts and wouldn't piss on me if I was on fire.

Costco. Walmart. So.Bright. So many things. So many people. I mean, OK. Costco and Walmart SHOULD make people want to cry. We usually go on Friday night when people aren't there. But the thought of it paralyzes me.

I have already talked to my doctor about this in the context of my headaches because they want to know E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G so I tell her just that and also I have a calendar for things like when and how bad and what kind of headaches I have and also I get to keep track of things like how often my uterus turns against me (often) alongside things like quarterly infoshares and hockey tournaments and dental cleanings and reminders for creative writing submission deadlines (which I miss on the regular). I have told her that things feel like "too much" as in sensory overload. Lights too bright. Sounds too loud. Smells too strong. Clothes feel like they're tearing my skin.

A sensory deprivation tank would be an ideal gift for me.

Bring me 5,000 pounds of salt and some science goggles. Stat.


But...aren't all moms' nerves fried? I mean...at some point don't we all want to lock ourselves in the bathroom with the lights off and tell everyone to shut the fuck up?

My doctor said sensory processing disorders are a thing, but they usually show up and get diagnosed in childhood. So...you know. I'm not a kid, so everybody settle down because I'm a full grown ladyperson and that means I must be OK.

Whew. I was worried there for a minute.

Now, if I can only figure out why my ear holes are getting so sore...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Stop Paying Your Medical Bills Immediately

I mean it.

If you're one of those people like my husband who doesn't let your papercut heal from tearing open the envelope on a bill before you're licking another one with your still-wet-ink check payment and raising the flag on your mailbox,

STOP IT.


I'd like to say that I'm a professional expert about this because of my hard-earned credentials. I'm not. I'm a professional expert about this because of my hard-earned status as a patient, a mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend, and a remember-we-sort-of-met-one-time-can-I-ask-you-a-question-about-my-ladyparts-bill? Oh, and as big giant askhole when I notice that things don't look right.

On my way to work yesterday, being on time (for once!) I got a text from a friend. One of those friends who is like, a super close friend from the way back but who generally doesn't text me before 9 am on a Monday.

Hey - are you around?

I wonder what's wrong. Is she broke down? Is her kid sick? Is she in jail? Whatever it is, I better call DaBoss and let him know I'll be late today.

Turned out there was no need. She just had some insurance questions. She was trying to sort out her dad's bills and nothing was adding up.

THIS WAS NO SURPRISE TO ME AT ALL.

Other than my dentist, I have literally never gotten a bill from a doctor or hospital that was EVER correct.

EVER.

EVERRRRR.

And these questions? I get them ALL THE TIME. I'm the designated expert in our family. And I am happy to help. So I think it's time to just lay out my most frequently needed tips in one spot that have been relevant to everyone, no matter who you are. This is not intended to spark a debate about Obamacare or how you're pissed about how expensive it is. That's a whole other conversation that I'm happy to have in person, but on the surface I will tell you that every year EIGHTY FIVE BILLION DOLLARS is lost to fraud.

It's just sucked up in a fraud tornado and doesn't help anyone's broken arm get fixed or get rehydrated after a nasty bout of the flu or get a camera up the keester for fun or not for fun or to cure cancer. It just disappears into pockets of hucksters and quite-literally-gangsters and human traffickers and terrorists and low level greedy bastards and some soccer mom who is pissed that she has a high deductible so she thinks she deserves it.

And it's been happening since wayyyyy before Obama.

Anyway. Back to your bill.

1. Check your EOB first. Your EOB. Explanation Of Benefits. This is the thing from your insurance company that says "this is what they charged, this is what we paid, this is what you owe after all that". This is usually something like "member responsibility".

2. It's best if you can check your EOB online if your insurer has that option. If you saw the doctor and had labs done, a paper EOB will usually just have two lines that say "medical, lab" and related dollar amounts. Electronic versions of this will have the capability for expanding to see the exact description of the level of service you had (there are 10 office visit codes!) or which lab you had done. Make sure the service billed is the service you had done. If this doesn't match, call the office and dispute this.
I did this when Esten broke his arm in Kindergarten. If you remember, he got a baby blue cast that matched Blue Bear. When the bill arrived, it looked pretty normal. Setting the arm, putting on a cast. They billed insurance, insurance paid their part, I had my part left over. Simple, right?

Little crinkly crinkle on his wrist, way far away from his armpit.


NOT SIMPLE.

There are TWELVE different codes for casts in this body region depending on how long it is, whether it's plaster or fiberglass, and whether it's applied to a person 0-10 years of age or a person 11 years of age and older.

Remember, he was five. Or maybe six, depending on how far into the year it was. So, let's say he was in that 0-10 years of age category.

So there are SIX codes that would apply. Depending on length and material.

His was fiberglass. Remember? It matched Blue Bear.

So there are THREE codes that would apply. Depending on length.

His went mid-way to his forearm.  There is ONE code that would apply.

Q4012 - Cast supplies, short arm cast, pediatric (0-10 years), fiberglass.

But the code on the claim was:

Q4008 - Cast supplies, long arm cast, pediatric (0-10 years), fiberglass.

No biggie, right? Except that there was about a $90 difference in the fee. And about a $40 difference in what my portion owed was. Which is not going to make or break me, but 1) it wasn't right to begin with and 2) they overbilled my insurance.

So I called them. I explained that they'd billed for a long arm cast but my kid got a quite obviously short arm cast and that could they please look to see where they'd made an error. She pulled the "charge sheet". These are one of the laziest piece of shit documents that have ever been invented and have been the bane of my existence since my days as a records clerk. It's a pain in the ass piece of paper with eight hundred million tiny check boxes on it that goes from the doctor's hurried hands to the billing clerk. Sometimes YOU carry it to the front desk to check out. It's a mess. It's not the "official" medical record, either.

So of course, THAT was was she looked at. "According to the charge sheet, the doctor said he applied a long arm cast."

[Naturally, the boxes are literally one atop the other in about 5 point font.]

"No. Please pull his medical record. I know your office is not that big. They're literally within an arm's reach of your desk right now."

"Sorry. It's right here. We billed it correctly."

"Look. This kid came out of my vagina. I have looked into his tear-filled eyes and counted down the days that he will have to wait until this NOT A LONG ARM CAST has to come off and he can swim. I would PREFER to not belabor this point with you. I would PREFER to not report this as fraud." 
[inside joke here to everyone who knows me]

"Sorry."

So I blew the gas it took to drive down there and ask the same thing face to face. And this time they pulled his chart. And LO AND BEFUCKINGHOLD, the chart doth proclaimeth, one short arm cast had been applied.

Well, shit.


Recap: Esten got one of these:

Except BLUE

And got billed for one of these:

Except FIBERGLASS and for little baby biceps.

Ok. So now what?

"I did all that. All the services match, but the dollar amounts they say I owe don't match. My insurance says I owe $93.75 but the doctor/ambulance/voodoo priestess bill says I owe $745.26"


This is the part that two people in my life that I love almost more than everyone else come in, and I'd venture to guess that they're so much alike here because one of them came out of the other one's vagina like a couple of Russian nesting dolls.

3. DO NOT PAY THE $745.26. Tupac and Elvis will come back to drop a duet remake cover of "Islands in the Stream" before you see a refund for the difference once you realize you've overpaid your bill. Oh...and it has to be YOU that brings it to their attention that they owe you money because they're never going to randomly call you and be like, "You know what? We were just doing our taxes and realized that last year we totes overbilled you after your insurance paid. Sorry, sweetie."

Nah. 

4. You write a check for $93.75. You enclose a COPY of your EOB that says they can collect $93.75. You write on your statement that you're enclosing $93.75 because that's what your insurance says they can collect and that they can kick rocks for the rest.

Or whatever.

And hopefully you have gone to a participating provider. If you believe your claim has been processed incorrectly, denied, etc., reach out and ask. There is an appeals process for that. People make mistakes. Computers make mistakes. Honest people and companies are willing to look again and make things right when that happens. Don't be afraid to ask if something looks wrong.

And when all else fails, find your person who knows about all these things and have them look over your bills before you pay. In our family, that's me. For my friend, this week, that was me. Taking the time to call me probably saved her dad from waiting around on a $600 refund. 

I'm sorry that things like this are so hard to navigate. I wish it weren't that way. I wish things were easier. Until they are, I will call on those who know the system to help those who need it until we're all equipped with the tools to make good calls on our own.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Whose Pants are Wetter? Gypsy Wedding Crasher or Ryan Lochte?



This week. Holy cow. I wanna talk about a couple of dudes who got shitty drunk, made "bad decisions" that impacted others, and who now are just befuckingwildered that people would like to hold them accountable. Ryan Lochte and our own Fat Gypsy Wedding Crasher.


Yeah, we had a wedding crasher. I was waiting until the juicy judicial system did its thing before I talked publicly about it, because witness influence or tampering or whatever. You know. I just wanted to zip it. I know. Shocker that I'm able to do that on occasion. I promised I would talk about it. What excellent timing that it wrapped up the same week as these shenanigans of:


LITERAL OLYMPIC PORPORTIONS


My kids try this face. Even ToddlerBandit. I'm immune to its powers.



If you just woke up, #lochtegate is happening on the interwebs.


Condensed version:


Ryan Lochte called his mommy and said he and his buddies got robbed at gunpoint by some group of banditos pretending to be cops. You know, in Rio, where that kind of thing happens and where the story was accepted as truth.


Oh my goodness! Our poor, sweet, exceptional, American athletes! How scary for them!



Upon further investigation and review of crime scene footage, the actual crime was that Ryan Lochte and his buddies were all drunked up in the wee morning hours, wearing skinny pants (a misdemeanor in itself), kicked in a gas station bathroom door, peed everywhere, and were held by a security guard who demanded they pay for the damages.


What. A. Dickbag.



Full disclosure: I've not ever really been a Ryan Lochte (or his mom) fan since the whole "he doesn't have time for relationships so he just has rando-sex" thing happened. For one, it's a little trashy. For two, it makes his mom make the Toddlers & Tiaras moms look VERY hands-off when she is THAT involved in his pee-pee-poking-around business. For three, if that had been said of any female athlete, she would have been slut shamed. Instead, women the world over slobbered over that POS wishing they could get in line to be the next Ms. Rando.


Barf.


Today, after he, his mom, his attorney, and his agent sat SILENT all week, he issued this piece of crap statement and called it an apology:



Anyway. Apology not accepted. I think we should be shipping his ass back to answer for any charges like...filing a false police report and being a general asshat. And that's the last I really ever want to hear about him, really. He selfishly stole the spotlight from the people who were there and humbly tumbling or swimming or running or diving or shot-putting their hearts out and quite literally MAKING HISTORY that he doesn't deserve a second longer of our attention.


This brings me to Tuesday.


Tuesday I sauntered down to our grand old court house to view the late morning session of Misdemeanorees, Miscreants, and Mayhem Masters, starring only half the originally booked cast (the others will still get call-backs via bench warrant, don't worry).


I was only there to see one star, the one that tried to steal the show at the BFGW. Let's just call him for the purposes of my silly little story:


Walter William Phillips



Because that's his name and all this shit is public record, if anyone cares enough to go digging around if they think I'm wrong.


I'll even give you a "nice guy" picture of him instead of his mugshot so that you won't think I'm TOTALLY trying to paint a picture of him all one-sided and whatnot (even though I did consider filling out a public information request to obtain the booking photo. I did. Ask the ladies at the S.O.):


photo: lmtribune


Oh, where's that from? That's from the newspaper. From when he tried to get a spot on our CITY COUNCIL last election cycle. This guy wanted to make the rules for the REST of us.


Moving on.


I am a chronic observer. I always have been. So I made my way to the end of the hallway, checked each posted docket until I found his name, saw that he was there and looking very much soberer than the last time I saw him, and planted myself on a bench with the other defendants. Prosecutors and public defenders buzzed back and forth, only one was familiar to me from the wayback. He stopped when he saw me there.


"Heeeeeeey. How's it going? What are YOU doing here? You're not on MY list, are you?" he asked nervously, knowing that I didn't fit the profile of the group that I was with.

"Waiting for the 10:45 group."


"Oh. Ummmm. Good luck, I guess."

They called name after name, people disappearing this way and that. They called name after name to which there was no response. They'd whittled the group down to a handful and just started asking OUR names, deciding to take cases out of order. They looked at me.


"What's your name?"

"I'm not on your list."


"Oh. Are you on the County list? I'll see if he can move you up."

"No. I'm not on any list."

"OH."

And as they whisked the only other woman away, dressed in her fanciest thin white tee shirt with a neon pink bra showing through and a pack of Camels just begging to be taken out for a walk, a man struck up a conversation with Walter.


"What are you in here for?"


It sounded like two cell mates meeting for the first time. Cute.


"They got me on a bullshit misdemeanor for disturbing the peace."

"Oh. Dude, I've been there. That sucks."

"Tell me about it. I went down to that Black Lives Matter thing they had, you know, because...well SOMEBODY had to stand up to those fuckers. You know?"

"Oh yeah. TOTALLY. So they arrested you for that? Whoa."

"Oh, no....no...I don't even know, dude. All's I know is I was there and then next thing I know, I woke up in jail strapped to a chair and my fucking pants are wet."

"WHAT? That's nuts."

"Yeah. And now I've gotta go back East for a job and I have this bullshit to deal with, and it's a complete waste of the judicial system's time and taxpayer money, if you ask me."


Yes. It did take every fiber of my being to sit there with my mouth shut and listen to this garbage when all I wanted to do was either bash his head or my own repeatedly into the cinderblock walls of our Halls of Justice. Fortunately, his douchebaggery didn't stop once his name was called and he met all side-bar like with the prosecutor before going before the judge.

First off, she's about forty-eleven feet tall and has a "go fuck yourself" haircut. Having never met her before, I had to put aside my sudden lady-crush until I knew whether she was going to hold him accountable for his actions.

She began by giving him a chance to tell her what happened.

"Well, I went to that Black Lives Matter thing. You know? And I guess maybe I was riled up and had too much to drink. I'd went to BoJack's with my boy for his birthday. I don't know, really. And then I just woke up in jail and my pants were wet. It was a pretty bad deal."

She let out a sigh.

"Well, according to the report, you showed up at a wedding reception to which you were not invited, you were intoxicated, you touched the breasts of some of the female guests there, you rubbed the face and head area of a black person and yelled racial slurs at him, you yelled "ALL LIVES MATTER!", and then when you were asked to leave you jumped in a fountain."

"Well, I don't recall any of that. I was just at the Black Lives Matter thing. I don't know if you know my family history, but we maybe have a problem when it comes to...you know. Maybe it's time to quit drinking again. I was sober for a long time, you know. Cuz I don't even remember any of that. So how can I plead guilty if I don't remember it?"

"It took four men to hold you until the police arrived. And then you fought the police. And then you kept fighting at the jail."

"Ok, so if I fight this plea, four people could say I was there."

"Probably like a hundred people would say you were there."

"Well, like I said. I don't recall. And I'm just trying to earn a living and I'm headed to Wisconsin on a job and I don't know if you've heard what's happening in Milwaukee with THE BLACKS but they're all rioting and it won't be safe FOR ME."

"I'm filling this form out, recommending that you change your plea to GUILTY and I will recommend fines ONLY at this time."

This asshole never ONE TIME acknowledged what he did nor did he apologize for the impact his actions had on other people, including AND ESPECIALLY that he put his hands on a black person and then said HE is not safe from BLACK PEOPLE.

He went on to blather about how he didn't want this misdemeanor on his record because it would make him look bad, UNNECESSARILY as he was just a goody-two-shoes WHITE GUY out there in the world trying to earn a living and the justice system was squishing his balls. Because, of course, all these options came with like...probation...or some other nut-squeezing restriction on his ability to just be a LAW ABIDING CITIZEN.

For real.

He asked to plead No Contest. She explained that is a Washington thing, not an Idaho thing. This got my cackles up as to his unusually intimate knowledge sitting at the WRONG table in the court room. And rightly so, he has a history of DUIs and license suspensions.

Ultimately, she and the judge allowed him to enter an Alford Plea. He has $350ish in fines and fees. And not one goddamn intention of being a better human after this.

When he left and she saw me standing in the hallway listening, she assumed I was next on her list. I assured her I was only there to make sure he was held responsible for his actions. Because while the day was beautiful and memorable in all kinds of OTHER ways, this was a disruption that absolutely did not need to happen.

I had the opportunity that day to stand up for/stand in for some other folks that aren't keen on the navigation of our court system. I get that. I AM keen, so I went. I also had the chance to meet some new (to me) prosecutors that I'm proud to see carry forward and complete the cases that folks like my husband have to start. Their job sucks. Everyone they deal with hates them. Maybe because they don't get to hear from victims in these cases to hear THANK YOU enough.

I know they don't always see eye to eye. Especially when they schedule hearings on Hubs' day off. Or too early on his days on.

He hates that, by the way. But he goes. Because deep down, they're on the same team. He thanks them, too.

So now that the Phillips case is resolved, I'll only mildly be listening for Ryan Lochte's airplane engine to fire up as they extradite him to answer a few more questions. Because totally forgetting about it is exactly what he (and USA Olympics) wants us to do.

But I'm going to be right here. Not forgetting about Ryan. Not forgetting about Walter. May they forever be plagued by fungal issues in their nether-regions from all their wet pants-shenanigans.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Drunk Uncle: Career Influencer, Accidental Speech (and blog!) Topic


I herded kids into bed the other night with aggravated enthusiasm. I had too much to do.



"Hurry up. I don't have time for this. I have a thing tomorrow."



"What kind of thing?"


"A thing. A speaking thing. I have to go talk."



"Are they paying you to talk? That's good for you, since you like to talk."


"Well, I get paid anyway. From my job. But people are driving from out of town to hear me talk. And unlike YOU yahoos, they'll probably listen to me."


"OMIGOSH. You're like...like...that's so cool."

"Go to BED."


I'll spare you the gory details about my job and whatnot because this is kind of a job-free zone. But I did have to give my listeners some background about myself and some sense of how I might have ended up where I was. It was also a group of all women*, and being a lady-type-person myself, I like to never pass on an opportunity to remind other women that they should always grab life by the balls.

*If there had been a man in the room, I would have equally believed he should go grab life by the balls. I am equal opportunity that way.

So I started with a question of this room full of women who carried in their various purses at least one same credential as me:

"Does everybody have one drunk uncle?"


I knew from the mix of those that laughed and those that didn't what I was getting myself into. I told my story anyway.

Drunk Uncle, in my case, sloshed up to me about seven drinks in at my high school graduation to ask what I wanted to do with my life.

This was really the first time I remember anyone posing it in that way - so open ended - instead of inserting their opinion on one end or the other. I didn't hesitate to answer him.

"I want to be that person with the video camera that follows the guy around, you know, the guy who is putting a new roof on his house with his butt crack hanging out, the guy that's on workman's comp? I want to be THAT person."

"PPPPPPPFFFFTT," he slobbered at me. "There's no money in that. Get a REAL job. I'll put in a good word for you at the mill."





AT. THE. MILL.

You know, because in this mill town, if "the mill" is nice enough to extend you a job offer, you take it and you are thankful for that opportunity to have a giant pile of money in exchange for your life span to be cut short and quality of life to be zilch. It's a great deal. Ask anyone who's sold their soul to the company store. And so I did. Not immediately, but still. When I did, they had 1,500 applicants. 130 interviews. 13 people were hired. I was one of them. I believe this says their Human Resources sucked ass at the time.*

*I say this because I personally know at least one person in Human Resources at present and I do not believe that she sucks ass. I also believe strides have been made to select candidates more befitting that work than I ever was. I also believe they have made strides to actually enforce their own workplace violence policy, which used to also suck ass, and which is what initially motivated me to leave. I did not wish to die and become a piece of your milk carton.

I let Drunk Uncle pour his drink over that fire in my belly in an instant. I forgot all about what I really wanted to do. What I - as a SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL - had a glimmer and a drive to want to pursue. And it would be years and years before I would be like:

NO. I'm better than this. I like solving puzzles. I like getting to the bottom of things. I like discovering the truth and calling people out on their hijinks and shenanigans (which are different). I like standing up for and protecting people who can't do it for themselves.

And I reignited that fire by myself. And when I did, the light was bright enough to find the rest of my tribe by.

I hoped these ladies wouldn't let THEIR Drunk Uncle or whatever lingering voice was in their heads keep them from maybe doing something even more awesome than they were already doing.

I continued the rest of my talk with the room staring at me, stunned at my lack of any Power Point presentation (I don't like to depend too heavily on technology - what happens when the power goes out and you don't have anything to talk about??) and talked about a lot of very boring and very shocking and scandalous things and included a quite very maybe inappropriate amount of me just pointing to various parts of my body, including my armpit, and sloping toward fan girl obsession with colonoscopies*.

*Spellcheck is certain the word I'm looking for here is kaleidoscopes.
I am certain it is not.

All throughout, my trusty sidekick held door duty and her composure, most likely outlining her resignation in her head and counting down the days until she could distance herself from my theatrics, hoping to blend into the wall and have nobody associate her with me.

Just kidding. She's a big weirdo just like me.

And I woke up today to a "Thank You" email and not a "Your membership has been revoked effective immediately" email, so I'm going to take that as a sign that things were received positively. Either way, everyone got their CEUs and I still get to do what I should have been doing all along, even though I spend most of my days wanting to put my head straight through a wall.

WIN-WIN.

Go forth, my fellow Fixers...follow your own fires.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Date Night Makes Me So Hornet

When two thirds of the shorties are out of the house, we like to drag ToddlerBandit along to dinner, stick a screen in his hand, pretend he's not there, and call it:


Date Night.

Which is exactly what we did this weekend after a day of boating. The biggest littles went with their buddies for their first ever smash bash and a sleepover, which they reacted to thusly:




We went to KC's where I had my usual meat salad and where Hubs had the burger of the week and made me SWEAR to him that I would make him get the mac and cheese burger for sure next time. For sure. He says they have the best ever buns and that I need to get off my "high horse" about the carb thing and just eat one already because I'm missing out.


I believe him.


We spent the rest of our romantic dinner arguing over whether another couple was a couple or a mother and her son. His vote was mother and son because there was about forty years difference between them. My vote was that they were very early in their Match.com relationship because I saw them making out when they first walked through the door. She also appeared to be wearing pants for the first time in a long while in direct conflict with the religion that was dictating her hairdo, which didn't match what he had going on with his appearance. So there's no way that was her son.


We never did find out, so let's just say that I was right for the purposes of our marriage continuing down a happy path.


I also decided that people would assume that we were brother-and-sister and that ToddlerBandit was HIS kid based on the fact that my body just screams, "there's no way she has pumped out three children, I mean come ON...look at those narrow hips."


...and then he choked on his delicious caramel milkshake and rolled his eyes at me.


To really spice things up, we stopped by the Home Depot for more bee killer spray because those assholes are back again. And before everyone gets all uppity about how the bees are an integral part of our ecosystem, these aren't bees. They're wasps. Umbrella wasps, to be exact. I know this because those stupid charts that say "how long are the legs on your bees?" say so and also because I finally found their dumb houses that they build on the eaves.


Architecturally annoying as hell.




Oh, by the way, too...the doves are back. Well, they never left really. I took their nest down but they were all like, "No. We live here now. We will rebuild that tomorrow. Knock it off."


So. Birds and bees. And Mr. Fix is all like, "Hey...I'll go get you the ladder so you can get on the roof and take care of that."


So I hike my ass up the ladder in my sandals, which I kick off at the top rung, the one that says, "Hey, don't step here, dummy" but I do anyway. And suddenly the only thing in my mind is:


1982. 1982. 1982. My parents got their new roof in 1982. If anyone needs to know when my parents got their new roof, it was 1982.


I'm sure there's been another shingling since then, but that was one of them. I know this because I was five years old when my thighs last fit properly into corduroy pants, and my favorite ones were red and they had Strawberry Shortcake on them because duh, 1982. And they were reroofing the house and I was on the roof and I was throwing old shingles down and I was scootch-sliding instead of standing up and later in the day my mom was like, "what did you do to your pants???" and I suddenly realized I had an assless chaps situation going on.


My pants. My underwear. My ass was out. Back when it was teeny tiny and super cute.


And I'm up there thinking WTF were my parents thinking letting a five year old hang out on the roof?


And this was all I could think of as I sat perched and frozen and barefoot on the roof in my newly favorite leggings, gravity and mass calculations different from my five-year-old self. Still unable to stand, I rolled into position to spray the nests. One by one, as I sprayed, I could see there were more. And more. And more. These things had set up residence in the hidden recesses of our roofline. I ran out of murder juice and asked for more. Then I waited for the poison to sink in so I could annihilate them with the power washer.


And while I waited for Hubs to get back from wherever he was (seriously, he was off dicking around somewhere and I was annoyed that I could have fallen and he wouldn't even know), I had a chance to just sit on the roof and take in the quickly setting sun. And the sky was indescribably beautiful. And the moon was an impossible sliver of a crescent. I was in a Michael Parkes painting.




Or I might have been high from huffing all that wasp spray, now that I think of it.


The next day, I set out to observe our newly bug-free outdoors and was met with the swarm. Again. I found ANOTHER five nests further around back in a vent. But since I have a "nobody gets on the roof alone" policy (which only I adhere to around here), it will have to wait until at least Thursday again so I can finally show these jerks there's only room in this house for ONE queen bee.

Me.

I can't wait, really. Because that's the day when Hubs and I see each other again, and we only have two more episodes of Stranger Things to pound out on Netflix. Because when we do Date Night, there's no Netflix and Chill, there's only Netflix and Play Next Episode. You know, when we're finally done with all the super romantic stuff.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Brake-through, Without Therapy

Let me take this opportunity to acknowledge one of the seven hundred million things I do on the regular that make Mr. Fix absolutely bonkers.

It's no secret that he hates driving my car. It's the newest in the Lee fleet. It's also got the thickest crust of goldfish guts, a latte spatter pattern that would stump Dexter, and a permanent layer of BabyChuck sole-patterned mud on the back of the driver's seat. And usually a pair of underwear in there somewhere.

He can usually stomach all of that. But when he puts her in drive and we go:

NOWHERE,

He's annoyed. Always.

"Why is the parking brake on? We are literally on flat ground. You're being ridiculous."

Let me brake (ha) it down for you. Because things dawned on me today as I absentmindedly set that sucker at work again. Just like I did yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that.

Long, long ago, when I was a wee child, my mom loaded me up and carted me off to the babysitter before she went off to work. EARLY. Like....EARLY, early. Like, so early I went back to bed at the babysitter's house. And this was summertime, and I had one of those plastic kiddie pools because we didn't have air conditioning and it's hot as Satan's vagina here (still), and when we got in the car she noticed it was still out and full from the day before.

Not wanting it sitting there all day smashing the grass or whatever, she got out of the car, dumped the water out, and dragged it over to rest against the garage. This was when the car began rolling backward down the driveway, across the street, through the fence, and into the field opposite our house. With me in it.

Now. I will tell you that from this moment forward, I haven't had a particular likening to carnival rides. But I particularly began being a little OCD about setting the parking brake in a car way before I ever started driving one. Especially if I was in it. Because just barely being able to see out the windows is just about the most traumatic view of all. The world whizzing by. Your mom, through the windshield, in a dead sprint, but really, it's mom speed...so there's no way she's gonna catch you and you know it. And you want to close your eyes but you just can't.

I'm sure it was all very very slow-mo. But at the time? It felt very much like this:


Was it life changing trauma? No. I mean...I tripped and fell right behind the riding mower once and she almost backed over me with it. That was pretty effing scary. I have a healthy respect for the John Deere and I keep my distance when it fires up. I also absolutely do not let my kids play out in the yard while Hubs is mowing. ToddlerBandit likes to help, but he rides WITH him and wears ear protection.

But this? I mean, so what if I have a compulsive habit of setting the parking brake. All the time. On flat ground. Wouldn't you? What childhood traumas have carried over into habits that annoy your significant other?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

An Open Letter to the Woman Who Laughed at My Son's Buns

You were waiting just like me, perched on the edge of a wall that wasn't really a bench.

It was early in the day still, but you looked like you knew what kind of special hot hell the day had the potential of delivering, and you, like me, were getting the most of the shade before the noon hour stole it away.

We sat, you and I, flanking my husband, sprawling amusement park not-yet-quite-so-crowded that we couldn't give you a little buffer. You watched me back my overloaded jogging stroller up so that it wouldn't trip up the crowd but my little passenger could still have a view.

You were alone, probably relishing the fact that yours were old enough to be out there on that ride. Maybe yours were too little to ride alone and your husband was on the ride with them. Maybe your ovaries started twitching for another. Maybe you were so happy to be past pushing a stroller around that you made a mental note to schedule a hysterectomy next week. Maybe your husband will get a surprise vasectomy text like mine did, instead.






You looked nice enough to sit close to, but we gave you a little room anyway. We didn't want to impose too closely on what might be a rare four minutes of quiet for you. But we were close enough.

You smiled when you saw my kid. People usually do. His hair has its own fan club.

You watched as I asked if he was hungry, knowing he would grow restless by just sitting, knowing we were too far from lunch and he'd want a snack soon, knowing this was my best window to get him to eat one before he got distracted by the next ride.

You watched me unzip my ultra tiny backpack that we use as a diaper bag these days. You waited for me to pull out a granola bar. Or goldfish crackers. Or an applesauce packet. And then you burst out laughing when I pulled out a full package of hot dog buns.

Thank you. Thank you for laughing at my kid's buns. Thank you for seeing the ridiculousness that is parenting. When your kid is going through a phase where you for sure know that he will eat a hot dog bun (and sometimes the hot dog, but never together) so you throw a whole package of them in just for him. When you sail past that point in your mom career where you care about people judging you for it, but you realize that someone not only not judging or scolding or other-mothering, but actually laughing at it with you makes your day...it's the highlight of your day.

And that day had some pretty high highlights.



Our family was the first through the gates. I'm fairly certain that's a first for us, and maybe won't happen again ever in this lifetime. My sister in law cracked a Lampoon's Vacation Wally World joke about it being closed and half the internet believed her.

That same sister in law donkey kicked me in the vagina as a prize for waiting in line for seventeen hours to ride a tube down a tunnel (not my vagina) for 36 seconds where she demanded the entire time that my husband should immediately "turn this tube around" because she believes he has the strength of a hundred elephants (he only has the strength of about seven elephants because he skipped arm day at the gym last week).

That same sister in law and I were the lowly lollygaggers of our group and as a prize had delivered to our feet one bikini clad lady-person who nobody in the crowd seemed to be bothered by, because apparently if you're having too much fun in the water the lifeguards get all whistle-happy, but if you suddenly go from being vertical to completely horizontal and el-no-respondo on the concrete with bloody knees and two old ladies waving their arms about, it's like "Oh, you silly sillies and your little sorority girl flippy flop over there. Carry on."

It was eventful. We owe a huge thanks to my brother in law and his company for arranging such a special day and including us. We owe a huge thanks to my MIL and FIL for dragging their camper to give everyone a home base.

And to you. For such a small gesture. You have no idea how much it means to me that you laughed at his buns.

Thank you. Really. There were a LOT of parents there, from a LOT of different backgrounds, all doing things differently with one goal: to have fun and get home in one piece. We did that at almost Midnight. And my curly-haired cargo woke me up early again today, like usual. And as my coffee brewed, I thought of you and I wonder how you're holding up today.

Solidarity, sister-mother. Solidarity.




Friday, July 29, 2016

Marriage: Commitment, Cake, and Criminals *Gag Order Edition*

I secretly hate when other people want me to write about things. Mostly because I'm not very good at that. This is why I'm not a "professional writer".

Also, same reason why I'm not a "professional baker".

I take direction very poorly.

There will be a follow up to Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. I promise. The condensed version is this:

  • Vows (tears)
  • Lightsabers (tears)
  • Dinner
  • Dancing (tears)
  • Ahmayzing performances (tears)
  • Cake
  • Someone went to jail (tears)
  • Resume party

And while some folks were all like, "sure it's okay to talk about, go ahead!" I'm gonna hold off mainly so nobody accuses me of witness tampering or for getting my info via back alley channels.

Read: Sleeping with a cop does NOT get you any insider info access. 

This week I was also asked to start a weekly publication over in my real life professional job. Which is super fact-checky and technical with a side of nothing that ever surprises me. It is exactly what I was birthed into this universe to do. It requires me to get the story straight before I publish things out all half-cocked and whatnot.

So in the spirit of that, and out of respect for the work that our men and women in law enforcement do (and did when they showed up at our party), I'm just going to hold off. All I think I know at this point is that there is an arraignment on Tuesday. I don't want to make their job harder. I don't want to make the complainant's job harder. I don't want to make the witnesses' jobs harder.

But boy, is it a good story.


I can tell you that Hubs took forty-eleven super annoying selfies. Including one of my boobs. Because he is twelve. And this one, to prove that my burning laser-glare and force-dressing them worked:

No scrubs.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

This is a weird week. I should be doing all the things that need to be done, but I'm not. I'm doing this instead. Because all the things that need to be done are driving me nuts.


There's a wedding this week.


Yes.


Dakoda. Sweet Dakoda is tying the knot. The oldest grandkid is setting sail while the other dozen stand from shore and watch with full hearts and wave their banners at him, their tallest ship. The one they've always looked up to.


Casual Friday on the Starship Enterprise.




I'm left quite literally stunned at how quickly the years have slipped by. It feels like just yesterday that I showed up and this quiet kid with the worrisome eyebrows grew year by year collecting a spiraling trail of friends, of casting his light further out until he met


THE ONE.


I'm so happy for him to have found his little spoon. All the kids in our extended family have enjoyed the support of parents and grandparents who accepted their differences and interests and individualities, and Dakoda was certainly no exception. As the older kids have gotten older, that task becomes tricky - finding a mate who isn't trying to change you. One who stumbles across your path and says, "Hey! I've been looking for you! Help carry this shit to my car and let's go be weird together." 

Jessica found him and this week she'll be his Mrs. and we are delighted.


So.


There are details. We have to wear clothes, mostly because the ceremony is in a respectable House-o'-The-Lord. And rehearsal dinner is at the slightly less-respectable House-o'-The-Lees. Hubs is smoking a petting zoo and I was asked to make the groom's cake.


And you know me. And you know the hubs. So you know how all this is going.


To distract me from the eighty six things going on this week, he booked a trip for next year, began obsessing about it, and then told me a minor thing about work, which he almost never ever talks about, which spiraled into me watching a coincidental TLC Gypsy Wedding marathon and questioning his lineage.


He had some contact with some folks who identified themselves to him as Gypsies.


I am fascinated by the traveler community. I have no desire to be part of it. I just want to know all about it. Also, my PollyPocket mother-in-law is never so content as when you put her in a confined space, as long as it's portable.


We had also recently enjoyed a relaxing visit with friends, where Hubs watched as I got an assist taking in a dress that I'd shrunk a few sizes out of, feeling only relief that it was our friend whose fingers were bleeding from all the pins and not his.


Girlsquad helping with my hoopskirt


He watched with passive boredom, but he without-a-doubt SAW the dress I intended to wear to this weekend's ceremony. So when I asked what he was wearing, I assumed he knew I meant like, you know, BLUE TIE or GRAY TIE or whatnot, and he's all like,


"Khaki shorts and one of my plaid shirts that the sleeves roll up."


Which basically means we will go to this wedding just like any other run-of-the-mill event where we look like a couple that has just been mismatched on a blind date or an Oscar nominee on the red carpet and her teenage kid who stops by to ask for twenty bucks on the way to the movies with his friends because hurry-hurry-I just-heard-the-ice-cream-truck just as the camera picks up her reaction to missing the win again by THIS MUCH.


(Lead Actress in a Drama is a tough category, you guys. Stiff competition.)


And I will not even get into the level seven argument I got into with Clayton over why he has to wear GRAY khakis instead of CAMEL khakis and why he cried actual salty tears when I asked him to please wear short ankle socks with his black skater shoes instead of basketball socks and neon orange sneakers.


Also, there have been exactly three showers taken between the three children since school got out, so there's that.


And I don't want to sound like an uppity bitch, but someone's probably going to want a family picture or something, and we might not be models, but we could at LEAST look like we belong together and I ALREADY HAD A NICE DRESS AND IT'S NOT LIKE I BOUGHT A NEW DRESS FOR THIS AND I AM THE ONLY GIRL IN THIS FAMILY AND I SHOULD GET TO HAVE A SAY IN THIS, GODDAMMIT.


Nobody's happy but damn, they look good. Also, spoiler - everyone dies in the end.




The reality is that I will probably pick my battles and not have my family hate me forever instead, and they will look like a disaster. Or rather, probably okay-ish. And I will look as amazing as I can possibly muster. Because I muster all the amazing I can at once and then it melts off as the day goes on. So like, probably okay-ish.


And when I tuned into the actual Big Fat Gypsy Wedding that happened to be marathoning and he made me suddenly crave like someone saying, "hey - remember French bread?" I was like HOLY SHIT we DO go together like every other couple out there because look at these assholes:


To be fair, he's wearing a tie. And britches.


Big Fat PS about THE CAKE:


I don't know what to say about the cake. Maybe it's a surprise, I don't even know. Maybe there will be a picture of it at some point. I am not an authority to be giving advice. I will say this. I realized how much I did NOT know about grooms' cakes when THIS groom's cake was in the oven and I actually started Googling. Apparently red velvet is NOT "traditional". I made part of the base tonight and asked Clayton whether it gave him an "abstract idea of the theme I was going for" and he said "OMIGOSH YES THAT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE IT!!" so I'm off to a great start. It can only go downhill from here.





Friday, July 8, 2016

ToddlerBandit's Scared of Cops and it's All My Fault

This week I taught my three year old to fear the cops.

My three year old. Who is white like:

  • Snow
  • Rice
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Cocaine

My three year old whose father is:

A police officer.


Yes.

I did it because I am a failing, asshole parent. I did it because I spoke without thinking. I did it because I have enjoyed a privileged life free of any fear of authority and I knew that I had fallen on my own face as soon as I saw those two soft eyebrows, the ones that just learned to oh-so-sweetly voluntarily rise and fall instead furrow up with terror when the words fell out of my mouth:

"The cops are going to get you."


We had just pulled the boat out of the goose-poop rich river water in the darkness after a long day of sketchy weather. We had double our normal passenger count (another cop and his family, as if this can't get worse), and my trailering skills and patience had been tested at not-our-usual-dock that was packed with patrons of varying degrees of sun and liquor saturation.

We buzzed hurriedly through the abbreviated version of our post-nautical routine, the one we deploy when our daily voyage doesn't include the 40 minute drive to the lake. The one where we skip the cover and the zippers, but the safety straps, quick wipe down, and wakeboard removals are still necessary.

The one where we still get the kids in the truck first to get them out of the busy parking lot.

As we pulled ahead, a horn. Hubs had left his trusty chamois on the back platform. He hopped out and retrieved it. Once we were all collected and headed home, I turned to count the children.

One, two, three.

Except that number three was in his car seat, blinking adorably at me with no buckles on.

Shit.

This is the part of parenting that bites us in the ass all the time. The "but I thought you did it" stuff that chips away at our foundation, our children watching wide-eyed as we fail, slowly transitioning from the A-Team to Dumb and Dumber.

Straps on the boat? Check. Straps on the kid? No.

Earlier in the day, we had encountered Hubs' coworkers several times, seeing two shifts' worth of boat officers out patrolling the waters keeping everyone's festivities safe. I showed my respect to them, and vice versa, as per usual:

"Haha. Nice HAT, Heather."

"Shut up. I'm a classy lady. I need SHADE. Is that a giant sack of PARADE CANDY you're shoving down your throat?"



Hats are a handy way for other boaters to spot you in the water.
They see you and say, WHAT THE HELL???
#SAFETYFIRST

These guys (and gals) are my friends. They are the brothers that my husband finally got as a grownup, the prize he won for surviving all sisters as a kid. Now they are my brothers. They come to my house. They are obnoxious. One fell asleep on the lawn once. Several make enthusiastic arguments for why theirs is the best smoked meat. Sometimes they retire and you're sad but you're still happy for them so you build them a cake.

Cake by me. Pic by Stephanie. Years of service and dedication by Jer-Bear.


And you bust your friends' balls. Sometimes in front of your kids, even. Which is why maybe my kids haven't heard a whole lot of "yes sir, no sir" interactions with police officers from me.

But that's not to say that we haven't let them know that when authoritative figures question them, they'd better comply.

Teacher, principal, policeman. No matter. They know. They know.

We don't ignore things like gender inequality and race, either. Each election cycle, no matter how minor (another school vote, anyone?) I remind the boys how recently women gained the right to vote. Each time, they are stunned. Once I've used women to soften the blow, I tell them the rest: about how white people used to own black people. How black people couldn't vote. About how interracial marriages used to be illegal.

And they're all like, "THAT'S A BUNCH OF BULLSHIT!"

Except they don't cuss, because I'd spank their fannies.

And every Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they would traipse home and remind me, and we have continued these cyclical ceremonies because they help us to shut out all the other voices that say there's not a problem, it's not our problem, or we're too white to have a say in anything. Or their little asshole friends on the bus whose parents fill their heads with age-inappropriate political propaganda.

But this previously stellar job I'd patted myself on the back about was out the window with those seven words.


"The cops are going to get you."


He wouldn't let his brother put his buckles on and he was being a general shit and I didn't want to climb in the back seat and there wasn't room enough to pull over on the side of the road, and so to manipulate and control him I blurted that out. Like a complete and total wanker.

And I knew immediately as his panicked tone set in that it was a mistake. He had seen the cops. They were on the boat. They turned on their lights. They turned on their woop-woop horn.  They had a sticker on their boat that was just like Daddy's cop car that he drives when he gets the bad guys.

I was being a dick. I was making my kid scared of cops, which is the exact thing we do NOT want parents to do, ever. Not. Ever. And it happened instantly with seven little words.

Two years ago I was in Dallas for work and got talked into a group dinner that required taking one of three private buses to another area of town away from the hotel after dark. After my meat salad (perpetual diet!!) my dinner mates wanted to stop in a specialty bakery. I quickly became claustrophobic surrounded by so much sugar on my newly restrictive eating plan, more or less petrified about how my body would react if I strayed from my no sweets policy, especially in public.

Would I get sick? Would I go into a coma? Would I barf and shit my pants? Who wants to find out in a strange place with an audience?

I shoved through the crowd and sucked in the night air, heavy with the baked goods scent that followed me out the door. I saw a familiar sight. Three gold stripes on a hefty blue uniform leaned on the railing.

I missed my husband.

I felt safer in that five minutes or so than I did the rest of the time I was there. And that counts the time I was in my room - after I realized someone had come in to "deliver promotional items", and it also factors in that my boss is a retired cop and HIS boss is retired from a federal agency.

I talked to that Sergeant while my group got their sugar high on. He told me how the area had changed in the 17 years he'd been on the job. He told me about the developer, about how things were so much better than they'd been in the past. He told me about how the types of calls they were responding to had changed. He told me that this was HIS neighborhood. And I could tell this guy had pride in this city. This wasn't just a job. He loved this place and these people and he loved protecting it.

He also told me that he'd had to put the kibosh to his guys frequenting that bakery when it first went in, "because, you know, the whole 'cops and donuts' thing, I'm sure you know, with your husband and all...we were getting dirty looks all the time."

And that's why twice this week I've had that stomach sinking feeling. I am heartbroken for these families.

When did this happen? When did we learn to be racist? When did we learn to fear all the police?

When other people told us to. Our parents, specifically. If not our parents, those in our circles helping form our views.

Generations of Americans hate other races or don't trust police because of what their families have told them to believe. Interactions with police. Second hand stories and unfounded legends.

I came from some incredibly racist ancestors. Hell, there's some of my friends and family who are STILL around who post some despicable stuff on social media. Off color jokes. Stuff about Obama. Stuff about the Gubmint. It's all a joke, right? Isn't it? Fun fact: This is one of the biggest reasons my kids aren't allowed on the internets. Bet you thought it was kiddie-sex-troll-predators, huh? Nah.

So there's the good news. Inherently racist traits can be shed by subsequent generations, but I'm not sure if a deep seated and irrational fear of authority can. Especially not when those fears are seasoned by an occasional documented instance of legitimate wrong doing that shores up and solidifies that belief.

Unspeakable atrocities? Absolutely. Bad calls? Yes. People who tarnish the badge? Yes. It's up to departments to properly recruit and train, the ranks to hold one another accountable, and the public to support those who protect us by teaching our youth that they're there to help, not harass.

I'm sorry that I failed this time.

My heart will continue to be with those in Dallas. And in Missouri. And everywhere else. And here at home. Because I know that those behind badges are hurting for those lost, while still maintaining level heads to keep things running smoothly for the rest of us. And despite the focus on the instances warranting investigation, the overwhelming majority will silently go on performing their day-to-day in a positive, professional, and courteous manner.

It's what they do. Every day. Without fail.





Thursday, June 23, 2016

Doctor's Orders

I had a followup chit chat with the doc this morning after a couple months away from her office. This past month, especially, has been filled with things that have convinced me the Universe does not want me on a diet. Some of these things have included:


*Requesting low carb options at a required work event and being told since I'm "not diabetic" they weren't "required to accommodate" me. They accommodated me by including yogurt (full sugar) and fruit along side the five varieties of pastries. I accommodated myself (after some bit of sweating) by taking the elevator to an on-site eatery and purchasing some scrambled eggs with a side of hard boiled eggs.

EGGS FOR DAYS

 *Having my luggage hoisted gingerly off the x-ray belt at the airport and my unmentionables tossed about because the gelatin powder and bullion cubes I packed as backup protein sources tested hot as explosives. Only initially, apparently. The swabby thing was okay. But the first test showed it as "green powder which is obviously explosives." Fortunately I quickly forgot about this ordeal when I settled into my seat next to Mr. Verizon himself.
*Repeatedly listening to my children say, "Ewwww, mom that tuna is soooooo disgusting. Do not get anywhere near me with it." 


Things like this kick my anxiety into overdrive and I'm left thinking, "why am I even doing this?" I also can't just pound a jug of wine to wash away my jitters since liquor makes my blood sugar spike.

But let's back up. Because the food thing? The food thing I can talk about. I will talk about the food thing with anyone who wants to ask. Why? Because I spent most of my life obviously in the dark about food. Well, not just about food, but about how every body is different in how it handles food. And mine, genetically, is screwed. So if you and I were to have a convo about this? I would tell you that what I eat may not be what is best for you, and that anybody who tries to tell you OR SELL YOU otherwise is a fucking liarface and you should run right the hell away.

But this past month a couple other things happened that I didn't so much talk about. Other people have. A LOT. And I have been reading. And watching. And listening. And crying. And thinking. But writing about it? What is there left to say that hasn't been said?

So today:

Brock "Rapey Pants" Turner and The Pulse Nightclub shooter who doesn't deserve a name.

When Turner's sad excuse for a sentence came down I wasn't one bit surprised. At all. We The People put so much stock in our athletes that we are completely willing to turn a blind eye to their deplorable shenanigans, especially when they're perpetrated by rich white kids.

We know this. We have lived this. I hope when Turner is released that he is immediately hit by a train.

I accepted a ride home from a youth dance in a group where we ended up at a local park. It was cold and I wanted to stay in the car. My friend and one guy got out and were talking near some playground equipment. The athlete unbuckled his seatbelt and slid over to me.

"So are we gonna do this or what?"

This fuck.

This fuck had never given me the time of day. This fuck had only ever gone out of his way to make me slightly miserable in the six-ish years we'd been students together. I laughed at the notion. He didn't take kindly to my rejection.

"You might as well, because I'm gonna tell everyone we did it anyway."
 This asshole is still walking around this town like he's some kind of gift to this planet. Did he get in my pants? NO. I spilled out my car door and told the other two yahoos that I needed to go.

Was he the only one to pull this shit? NO. It would happen time and again, they'd isolate me from the herd and turn on me. Football player. Baseball player. Football player.

The reason this got to me was I had written a piece about the baseball player not too long before this Turner garbage came out. He wasn't just ANY baseball player. He was the Coach's kid.

THE Coach.

The big one.

And you know? That kid has a criminal history bigger than the day is long. And at every goddamn twist and turn his daddy showed up to vouch for him. Gave him a job on the coaching staff. Made a deal with the prosecution. Etcetera. And you know what you'll find when you go out and search the newspaper archives for him?

SPORTS ARTICLES.


His brother? Also a giant steaming pile of shit. You know what happened when the newspaper said so? The family sued the newspaper.

Because they were tarnishing his image. Nevermind the fact that he got out of his car at a stoplight and STABBED SOMEONE.

NO.

So anyhoo. I ended up with this chump as a five-minute long boyfriend a million years ago because his friend was dating my friend. And long story short, he and the team (yes, THAT team) had a party that I never should have been at where he used his 90 pound difference to wrestle me into submission in a surprisingly hoarder-like office where I put my foot through a typewriter before escaping his liquor-weed clutches with a bleeding foot and some bruising on my torso and asked my friends if we could leave NOW.

This story does have a silver lining, and a point.

That dynasty is done. There's a new coach in town. And his wife? His wife was FirstKid's teacher this year. His wife has been both boys' advanced reading and math teacher for 4 years. And she has two small boys. And she is absolutely invested in raising our boys to be respectful. Of themselves, of other boys, of girls. Of leaving the competitive testosterone on the field. Of not rewarding aggressive behavior.

Of not accepting BOYS WILL BE BOYS.

As a mom of boys, I LOVE HER FOR THAT.

I love when ANY mom holds their kids accountable. But ESPECIALLY boy moms, and ESPECIALLY the ones who are filling in my shoes for dayshift Monday through Friday for nine month stints.

What did I tell my kids, personally? That they HAVE to respect people's personal space, and that they should never ever ever give anyone a surprise kiss, even if they think they want it. Will we have to talk more in the future? Yes. Especially with Clayton, who seems to have no less than two girls flitting around him at one time.

Now: GURNS-N-STURFF.

I cannot fathom the depths of despair felt by the family and friends of those victims of the Pulse shooting. I cannot fathom the depths of despair felt by the family and friends of those victims of the shooting before that one. And before that one. And before that one.

We have GOT to do something different.

Before you stomp off in a huff because Second Amendment and everything, let me say that yes, I know there's a difference between the ones that go BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRT and the ones that go PEW-PEW-PEW-PEW-PEW-PEW-PEW and no I'm not interested in prying anything out of your cold dead hands.

But some of you need to calm the fuck down a little. Seriously.

Like, I think that just MAYBE it's OK for adults to MAYBE have a talk about the fact that MAYBE not everyone needs to emerge from a vagina with a firearm. My perspective comes from more than half a lifetime of exposure to (directly, personally, and peripherally) domestic violence situations and having knowledge of some just literally bat shit crazy individuals that, no matter the BRRRRTness or PEW PEW-osity of a weapon, they need to have access to neither.

Come back with me to a stalking trial where one of my questionable romantic decisions was accused of being a general asshole to me over an extended period of time after we both had moved on. I say "moved on" because we both were remarried, but obviously one of us was more "moved on" than the other. The activities were clearly criminal in nature or the court wouldn't have been involved.

At day of sentencing, I had to give a victim's impact statement. Aside from actual testimony, this is one of the most nerve wracking, painful things I have ever done. And I have pushed three live humans out my cooter. I talked about the things he had threatened, the fact that he bragged about knowing nine ways to kill someone with his bare hands, that he was a trained marksman, an avid hunter, he told me there were spots in the woods where nobody would find my body, and that he had rifles and a night vision scope.

There was only one use for that. Sneaking up on your prey under cover of darkness.

I asked the judge if it would be him - or someone else - who would explain to my children what had happened to me if he didn't impose SOME kind of punishment and I ended up dead. He was the type of offender that kept escalating his behavior until an external force stopped him.

My ex's response - by this time he was representing himself because both of the attorneys he'd had during the course of proceedings had quit, presumably because they knew he was guilty as hell - was that he expected the court to expunge his record AND just drop the charges. You know why?

Because: SECOND FUCKING AMENDMENT.

He was concerned that this conviction - which, by the way, we were already past that step, because, as you remember, here we were at SENTENCING...would prohibit his GOD GIVEN RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS.

This fucker.

So when the judge got done peeling his eyes from the back of his skull, he clarified for the counsel-less loser who initially tried to not recognize said judge's authority because of the FRINGE on the FLAG in the courtroom (it's only for boats on the ocean blue, yo), that A) in order to have your record expunged, you actually have to SERVE your sentence, and B) the crime for which he was convicted was a misdemeanor so he needed to calm the fuck down with his Constitutional nonsense.

His influences? A dude who did federal prison time (after this) who is super good chums with Bo Gritz and thinks Randy Weaver got a shit deal. A dude who repeatedly invited me to his "impenetrable bunker" that was safe from "Government Invasion" because they were coming any day now to "round us up and put us in that concentration camp they built in central Washington - go look, there's concertina wire". And since I hate camping and also because he gave me the fucking willies, I never went. Then they let him out of prison and mysteriously his mortal enemy's business just burned the hell down. Weird.

So when people start getting all sorts of defensive about their guns right off the bat and aren't willing to acknowledge that "yeah, there's some nitwits that I don't think should have access" then I immediately lump you in the same category with the paranoid peeps who like to hang out in underground concrete bunkers and dodge their taxes by writing shit like "BLOW ME, IRS: YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME, AMERICA CAN'T EVEN OWN LAND OUTSIDE DC!" on the signature line of their 1040's.

What I think is that you're afraid. You're afraid that maybe you've said some shit you shouldn't have said. Maybe on the internet about how Obummer should be kilt. Or how Michelle looks like a monkey. And you're afraid that your comments are going to get YOU put on that list that will restrict your purchase power. And that freaks you out. Maybe you need to take a step back at how you're acting, then. Because all that shit that went down with the stalking and the "Government Invasion" that didn't happen? That was under the Bush Administration.

And that brings us to my appointment today, where my doctor ordered that the Universe knock off all this nonsense. And tonight is date night, where I will stick to my diet and where hubs is taking me to the place where we very last crossed paths with my psycho ex.

Fingers crossed that he has other plans.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Designated Driving Me Crazy


Last night was a family party night. And our family knows how to throw down. We were celebrating a big number NINE birthday in a typical manner that involved pizza, too much sugar, the assumption that the children would at least stay as a pack as they marauded through town, and my sister in law and I leaving with each other's sunglasses.

Game six of the NBA finals was streaming on the wall in the shop while Hubs washed down his cake, a random kid's leftover brownie, and any other snacks that fell in the radius of his wingspan with a hearty serving of his brother in law's outdated* beer.

And so as is customary, he tossed me the keys when I gave him the universal sign for "let's go", which is also the universal sign for "I'm about to slit your throat."



We piled in the family truckster and as usual, didn't make it a mile out of town before he started driving me batty. First he started in on ToddlerBandit by stealing from his supply of snacks that I keep loaded up in his cup holder for him to indiscriminately throw on the floor when he's mad at me.

I finally got him to leave the fruit loops alone and he decided to press every goddamn button in or around the dash board/radio area. Minions was playing in the back.

I watched his fingers fumble through the touch screen, making a mental note of how to unmuck his path of destruction.

The last time he pulled this, he converted my car's readouts to metric, and the language was either Icelandic or Swahili. So in town it always appeared I was doing 56 in a 35 and I didn't know whether the digital message was "roads may be icy" or "tire pressure low" or "there's an ax murderer in the backseat".

Suddenly everyone who was not speaking Minion was speaking Spanish.

Spanish. So the whole dialogue was MINION AND SPANISH.

He changed it back. Then Clayton began complaining about the narrator. "There's usually not a narrator on here, dad."

Yes. There is a setting where you can not only turn the subtitles on, but there's an additional voice that READS THE SUBTITLES ALOUD FOR YOU.

I suppose this is so that if you are blind, you might know what is going on in the movie. Like having your friend sit right next to you and whisper in your ear all of the goings-on throughout the entire movie. Which I applaud for the ADA community, but in this instance, and in my state of fried nerves rocketing down the highway at 65 miles per hour, I did not appreciate.

Fumble fumble fumble. Poke poke. Beep beep.

Fixed.

Now. This whole business of him being a terrible drunk passenger is almost ALWAYS compounded by the obscene amounts of sugar he has also consumed, which attempts to metabolize and escape his body by any means necessary, and so he fidgets and squirms and generally cannot be still. This is exactly the worst** time to be stuck in a car with him. Worse even, for him to be in the passenger seat.

With no more buttons for his hands to push, they must find a landing spot.



I spent the remainder of our journey swatting his hand away and generally treating him like a misbehaved toddler with ADHD. By the time we got home, his sugar crash hit and he was much easier to deal with. Life was back to normal, we cranked out a couple DVR'd episodes of trashy TV, and caught up on all the stuff from our lives this week that we forgot to talk about that we couldn't talk about in front of the kids.

This morning when I got up with a clear head and I saw him sleeping peacefully, as much as I wanted to pester him awake in retaliation, I didn't. There are a lot of guys out there who have a couple drinks and turn into raging, abusive wankers. Mine just ends up eating all the cake and wants to touch my boob a little.***


*It might not be, really. His distributor employeeship perk just makes my husband so jealous that he wants to try new things, like all the flavors in the mini-fridge.

**There is one more worst time to be stuck in a car with him, which I will defer to his sister or whomever the new owner of her previous car is for inquiries.

***I'm not saying I'll let him, I'm just saying I'm not mad about it. That's all.