Head Case

A funny thing happened to me on the way to moving into our new home. I lost my head.

It may still be in storage in the garage, mixed up in a box of miscellaneous apothecaries, gift decoration accessories and small hardware items from our kitchen junk drawer. Or perchance it popped off when I was packing up the bathroom cupboard and is now ensconced amongst vibrating toothbrushes, tampons, bath balms, lotions and sponges.

More than likely, however, it found kinship amongst our living and dining room ornaments and masks, and now sits precariously wedged in posed unblinking refinement in the mask box, all the while giving sidelong, squeamish glances at both the wooden brain picker utensil ornament from Fiji and my husband's cherished demon mask, which hails from Sri Lanka and enjoys only occasional exposure to human eyes from its permitted home on the back wall of our garage.

In any case, I have clearly misplaced my head, as evidenced by numerous recent, inexplicable decisions I have made in the past several weeks. Said mysterious choices are ranked below, in hierarchical order and direct accordance with their WTHWIT?! (what the hell was I thinking?!) significance.

Go, Dog, Go!
In the spirit of honest parenting, I will admit to having promised my children that we would consider getting a pet (of the non-cyber or igneous/obsidian variety) once we bought a house. We were still renting, after all. Now in the further spirit of dumb-ass moment admissions, I should also note that said statement was made with the teensiest bit of duplicity. At that moment in time, we had no plans to purchase a home. Hence therefore, it was an easy if rather empty promise.

What goes around comes around in karmic fashion or so sayeth grandparents who delight in such notions of parent/child payback. While we were busy praying for a healthy child with all fingers toes, limbs and sugar/spice faculties, they were fervently casting potions and spells to ensure we, their evil progeny of teen fame, spawned more of the same, in order that we, too, could enjoy the teenage fruits of our labors.

But OK, so here's the thing about promises to children. They may forget to make their bed and brush their teeth every day, despite having a good deed and chore chart posted on the fridge, being nagged sixteen times daily, and having to endure parents reading them nightly stories embedded with subliminal messages about good children who devote themselves to these and other altruistic daily regimes. Yes, it may be perfectly plausible that they could forget such important gestalt rituals, even though you might remind them that cleanliness and godliness are tight in finger-crossed fashion.

Heaven forbid, however, that you should murmur one lone, absent-minded and resigned someday promise, most often uttered in a state of duress after incessant and relentless badgering ("Mommy, Mommy, can we go to Disneyland someday? Please, please, please, please, please, pleaseplease pledeaseaeezzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!) ~ badgering, incidentally, that almost always transpires when one is engaged in an important long-distance business call or distracted by lost keys, a ringing cell phone and an empty wallet in the grocery store line-up.

Agreeing to such inconsequential, what-if, someday wishes is like giving your child a piece of treasure to lock in his or her memory chest. They.Never.Forget.These.Promises. Same child who has to be cattle-prodded each day to make his bed and brush his teeth because he somehow forgot these were his daily bread lots in life, will never forget the dog promise. Even after a frontal lobotomy.

Now speaking of forgetting and the need for psycho-surgery, I sometimes forget my brain has a different timeline than those of my pet-deprived offspring. When we move into our new home to me meant sometime in the decade thereafter, preferably near the latter part of said ten years, and most ideally in the penultimate days and months before both darling offspring move out on their own. How silly of me not to realize that my if/whens are actually taken in quite literal and immediate terms by my eager and tenacious children.

So no sooner did we pull up in the driveway, upon moving the last of the boxes, and what to my horrified ears should I hear but, now can we get a dog, Mom? You promissssssed!

In retrospect, I blame it all on Brenda. Had she not introduced me Webkinz, chances are good that my children wouldn't have taken to being pet owners with such enthusiasm. And chances are even better that they wouldn't have started harboring real pet attachments. And then none of this would have happened. It's her fault. Honest.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
It doesn't help that we have moved into a neighborhood where all but three of us householders own a dog or cat. It literally rains cats and dogs here. So there's no getting away from the dog issue. Dogs barks at three minute intervals, sometimes in unison.

So, in quiet desperation, I resorted to my old retro parenting tricks. The bait and switch kind. You know the ones. Baby Johnny loved his noisy rattle and would bang and play with it ad nauseam until you finally got smart and switched the noisy toy out for a soft, stuffed one. He would then become transfixed with the new toy and forget about the old toy. There was a period of time that such manipulative parenting worked. I thought it would, could, should again. WTHWIT?!

I took them to the pet shop. The daily hound by the likes of my determined duo was beginning to take on the whine of the nauseating backyard beagles behind us.

Them: "We want a pet, Mom."
Me: "You have a pet, guys."
Them: "A goldfish isn't a pet. He's boring. All he does is swim around and eat. Bor...ing!"

So I took them to the pet store and introduced them to the concept of a plecostumus. This wasn't any boring old goldfish swimming around in a fishbowl. This fish is cool and looks gross - it sticks to the side of the tank and sucks algae. Bingo. Five dollars poorer and two kids happier, we headed home with Ted the plecostumus and to be safe, Rainbow, the red and blue beta fish in tow.

It worked like a charm. For all of about a week. And then the nagging started again.

Them: "Mom, can't we get a bunny/hamster/gerbil/chicken/dog/cat/....(insert miscellaneous animal name here - chances are good it was mentioned in the plea-bargain)?! We promise we'll take good care of it. We'll feed it, take it for walks, look after it, do all the work. We promise. Please please please please pleazzzze?!"

Me: "I dunno. We'll see."

Him (to Her): Yahoo! We'll see - that means Yes!!! Hurry, let's go wait in the van before she changes her mind again. Come on, Mom, are you coming?!"

After two aborted pet store visits, one in search of a hamster, the next on reconnaissance for a gerbil, we ultimately settled on a guinea pig. It seemed the best hybrid between his desire for a hamster and her hopes for a bunny. His name is Spud. We have owned him three days now and so far, Hubby and I seem to have done all the feeding. Promises, promises.

But perhaps it was inevitable, because Ted is now dead (found him upside down in the tank plant yesterday) and Phil our pugnacious goldfish is now an odd shade of blotched red and is clinging to life as I blog.

Circus McGurkus
It's really too bad that we haven't gotten around to unpacking all our boxes from the garage yet. Cuz if we had, then Friday night's scene could have been avoided entirely. I would have found my head in time, cancelled the festivities, and all would have been well in my world.

Sadly, this did not happen. Instead, four girls and one boy descended upon the Schmidt house for that ubiquitous world premiere occasion of High School Musical 2. On the offchance that you a) live in a cave; or b) do not have young children or c) do not have cable television and thus have not had the distinct pleasure of watching the Disney Channel, let me bring you up to speed on the pre-hype for this movie. Disney has been promoting the h,e, double toothpicks out of this movie for oh, I'm going to guess more than six months leading up to the premiere - August 17th, 2007. According to reports, Friday night's airing of HSM2 was the most watched telecast in history, with a reported 17.24 million viewers tuning in to watch.

Or suffer, as would be the case of the handful of us headless folks, who spent the better part of the movie fetching drink orders, picking up discarded napkins and remnants of chips and popcorn that were already quasi-embedded into the carpet, whilst deftly trying to thwart attempts by the more hyper of the bunch to dance and jump on the couches, sing the soundtrack off-key too loudly, fight over who got to sit where and with whom, and/or horde all of the available licorice, pillows and blankets for him or herself.

Of course, the real fun was having to phone three parents at 11:00 pm, in order to arrange pick-up of their freaked-out child. We managed to allay the concerns of one child such that she did still stay the night. She needed a telehug from mom and was fine once we surrounded her with Mickey, Minnie and untold amounts of other stuffed animals. The one boy bailed but he admitted, upon pick up, that this was his first sleepover so he was a bit unsure. Plus, he was used to staying up until 1am. Egads.

And so it was that after a breakfast of muffins, fruit, bacon and waffles, we were able to send the girls home to their parents with full bellies and last but not least, an obligatory treat bag filled with essential High School Musical paraphernalia.

I was relieved to see that according to television news reports thereafter, I am not the only headless mother in the Puget Sound area. Apparently there were countless HSM2 slumber parties going on. But I wonder how many parents dared brave the festivities sans alcohol? Apart from a few sips of a caffeinated soft drink, I actually survived the evening anesthetic-free. Remarkable really, considering that I didn't even dare brave childbirth without the epidural needle.

If I wasn't missing my head, I feel fairly certain I would have broken my martini virginity (yes I'm 41 and I'm a martini virgin). Gin of any kind, even lemon, would have smelled good Friday night. An entire pitcher might even have made the singing, dancing, bouncing, chip and popcorn crushing and licorice skarfing tolerable, or better yet, enjoyable. My one small thrill, was offering at strategic moments, to conduct disco dancing lessons. This threat would send my daughter into fits of horror (Oh Gawd, Mom! Please, don't embarrass me in front of my friends!!) and high-pitched screaming from the lot of them at the thought. Naturally, I always managed to get one John Travolta strut in before easing them off the torture rack. Parenthood should at least have some small pleasures.

But alas, I lost my head and thus, am prone to exhibiting apologetic tendencies of late. WTFWIT?! - which loosely translates as, "geegollygosh and oops, what ever was I was thinking? teehee."

I'd like to think the worst of my headless moments are over but I'm not so sure. Yesterday, my daughter somehow managed to talk me in to buying her teddy bear (who arrived at the mall sporting a teddy bear band-aid, cast and brace), a wheelchair. Uh huh. I'm serious. You can't make this stuff up.

So I have high hopes that with some diligent unpacking, I will soon locate my head and reattach it. In the meantime, I think I would do well to stay in, in case I start mistaking the backyard tree nests for those of the cuckoo variety and begin hearing my siren call approaching.

Whichever comes first. I'm gambling on the former. Only two more weeks until school. I'm scrawling giant X's on the calendar, as only a convict locked up for months that feel like years on end, can.

Godspeed me some sanity. Soon. Otherwise I'll have to go join the circus as a sideshow act.

Oops, silly me. I forgot. I already did join the circus. It just doesn't travel, is all.


Summertime and the Blogging Ain't Easy....

It must be summer because I have nothing to rant about. Even when there is so much to rant about - local traffic woes with a vital section of our local Interstate limited to a couple of lanes, the mortgage industry going to pot, and the frustrating reality that the sun has been playing hide and seek with us Pacific Northwesters all summer. It knows some dang good spots behind some major, honking cumulus clouds, too, it would seem.

But today, the sun sloths on its sky blue blanket, begging to be worshipped. The kids are happy, except when they're not, which is when they're yelling and screaming and arguing over who hates who more. And the bastard beagles behind us, who snort grass like it's in pretty green lines going out of style, are barking. Again. Still. Always. Forever.

So it's little surprise than it all this cacophony and disquiet of the season, I have nothing of consequence to blog about.

Like as though I ever did, so I don't know what the big deal is. Like I need some monumental bee to get stuck in my bonnet to step up on my soapbox and shout out to the world. So in the spirit of paradox, today I'm stepping up to the mic to yell hello to the universe and see if it murmurs back at me.

Nothing monumental. Not bent out of shape about the political, economic, religious or social state of internal or external affairs near or far. God knows, I could be....the world is going to hell in a handbasket - metaphor speak for earthly raison d'etre, I suppose - it just seems be permastuck on the downwards track of the roller coaster more so of late, is all.

Which is where I was yesterday, finally enjoying myself on the local roller coasters without the usual fear and looming death imaginings that accompany such joy rides for me post-motherhood. I took a friend's five year old daughter on her first big roller coaster rides - corkscrew turns, upside loops, the whole enchilada. And she was afraid, very afraid. I'm not very good at alleviating such rational fears so I did the only thing I knew to comfort her. I lied and told her the rides weren't really very scary at all. Which wasn't really a lie if you consider one's mindset post ride. Fears aren't scary anymore once you've confronted them. So of course, after the fact, she wanted to ride both roller coasters again. And again. I created a monster yesterday. But she's a cutie patootie with beautiful green eyes and long curlie eyelashes and a brave one at that.

So it was no biggie after all. Big schmig. Today I'm in a schmidt happens kinda mood. As in don't sweat the small, big or medium schtuff. I have no desire to do, strive, achieve but rather just to be today, with no conjunction junction station whistle stop or ultimate place towards which to follow the verbal auxiliary and irregularity of that which is the most slippery and passive of verbs.

"Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself."
Zen Saying

Speaking of Zen wisdom, I just finished a book called The Zen Commandments. I highly recommend it. It's not Zen (the author is actually a Dzogchen student) and it's not even decidedly eastern in thought (Sluyter includes numerous quotes from Western traditions) but it does offer a universal fountain of wisdom in the simplest of language all reduced into one surprisingly slim volume. And he serves it with a golden tea cup, should you choose to drink from the fountain yourself, offers a twist of orange for those who like things sweet, and doctors it with more than a few drops of humor. Because while life itself is a serious game, playing at it needs not be.

To sum up that sentence, and his whole book and philosophy, for that matter, simply delete all words except the last one. The rest is clutter, fluff, schtuff, and schmidt to ponder and confound.

Which is perhaps why Shakespeare penned his most famous of rhetorical musings. It is, after all, the quintessential question and the answer is deceptively simple.

That said, at that very same place today you will find me. In the spirit of why do today what one can foreseeably put off until tomorrow, I'm guessing tomorrow or the day after that, etc., etc., is soon enough to get bent out of shape about the world and its ways.

NĂ¡mas te.


Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary

On Marriage

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

(Kahlil Gibran)

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Happy 23 years together and 19 years married, hubba hubby. From Betsy the purple maverick to Ed the Turbo Boogie Van to Coleman the tent trailer - we've come a long way, baby.