Sunday, June 3, 2012

So an old Babyloss Blogger walks into a bar

2012 owns me.

I am 2012's bitch.

I am a slave to the coffee bean, and frequently count down hours and then minutes until bedtime. I recently told someone I could easily become alcoholic with the stupid piles of poo that have conspired to drown me this year, but I'm too tired. Given the choice between motoring through dinner and getting the kids to bed a few seconds earlier, I'll bypass a glass of wine, easy. Kids asleep? Work done? Pillow. It's not a choice. My book club books are collecting virtual dust in the Nook, and this blog . . . oh dear, this blog.

It's not all bad, not really, not when I reflect, although in the moment some of it seemed (and still does seem) a bit reminiscent of the unholy 2007.

The day of my last post, Maddy's birthday, all I could think was "Thank god Maddy is not here to turn 5, because how much would it suck to put down your dog on your 5th birthday." It turned into the day after, but still. The previous day, Max, just about 13, riddled with cancer, gagging every time he stood up, his breathing turned into a bit of a death rattle, sniffed and walked away from a sirloin hamburger that neighbors had bought for him so he could "go out in style." Nothing says "It's Time" like a dog turning down a medium rare piece of quality beef. We called the vet, and arranged for her to come to our house, and the evening of February 13, we held Max as he left our lives.

It was horrible, and would've been horrible in June, but to do it during this week, when all those memories were there was . . . . a lot. A lot to deal with. His death was extremely peaceful and still is perfect in mind, second only perhaps to dying quietly in his sleep, and he led a wonderful long life. He was a happy dog, the softest dog ever, and will probably be that dog as we continue down the avenue of our pet owning lives. But I know perfectly well you don't have to regret the actual death in order to be severely bummed out by it all, and god was I.

But not for long, because Tuesday morning, Valentine's Day, the morning Maddy's heart stopped five years earlier, and now with my dead dog lying in repose in the back of the truck awaiting burial in my aunt's pasture, I dressed up, caught a train and went downtown for Jury Duty.

Of course I got picked.

It was criminal not civil, and it's so not my story to tell, so I'm not gonna, but it was one of those cases, those awful gut-wrenching things that turn your tummy until you realize you need to focus and analyze and think critically and so you do. My brain, it was full. Overtaxed. And thankfully the trial and decision was only three days because I came home a pile of goo. I mourn the fact that Maddy's white matter was liquefied about as much as I joke about it, and for the first time I wondered if this is what it might feel like to start down that road of brain seepage. I had trouble tying words together, my emotions were all over the map, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, I didn't know what to think.

Of course there were some take-aways, not that I was looking, but I'm gonna catch the low-hanging fruit, thank you: For starts, the jury I sat on was awesome. I had extremely low expectations, and I was not pleasantly surprised but downright amazed. This group made me proud to live here, and once again I climbed on the lucky-star train for ever moving here in the first place. Secondly, this case, without going into any detail, was predicated on the lack of love. I'm not talking hate, because there honestly wasn't much of that going around either, but the total dearth of love, the misunderstanding or perhaps complete lack of understanding of what love felt like, looked like, was, is.  It made me really appreciate the love I take for granted, have taken for granted.  And when I found my voice that weekend, I turned to Bella during some meal and told her: I will always love you. I don't care what you do, and how mad you think I'll be, and how mad I am at you, I will still love you. Always. She teared up and turned back to her waffle, and I teared up too.

(Did I mention during this week Ale came down with croup for the second time in two months?  Don't children develop immunity to this bug within the same season?  (Cue ominous foreshadowy music) And for those who don't know croup -- and I didn't because Bella never had it -- in addition to all of the lovely effects like this awful wheeze that inhibits your child's capacity to breathe and a cough like a circus seal, it keeps you up for five nights.)

It was an awful week.


MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE FARM: I mentioned in passing during an old post (not that you can remember, because that was a whole geological era ago) that Mr. ABF and I chaired a fundraiser that was held in late April. It bled me dry. And every day I left jury duty for the world's best latte across the street I flipped on my phone and was greeted with email telling me something went wrong, someone quit, someone else quit, and instead of a manageable one hole to fill by the end of the week we were pushing around buckets just trying to catch the torrent.

Nothing is as thankless as fundraising.  Because the institution you fundraise for thanks you, but you are left having worked your goddamn ass off and when it's done and you should be kicking back and throwing remnants in the circular file, your email is filling with complaints.  Sure, some second-hand compliments trickle in, but you wind up wishing they were actually addressed to you to counter the absolute crap that people find to bitch about.  I am never volunteering for anything again, civic-duty can kiss my ass.  My checkbook is open, my time and life and marriage and kids?  Not.   It took weeks for the mail *ping* not to make my stomach clench.  I don't think Mr. ABF and I have ever been close to divorce, but we might have thought counseling was in order towards the end of this endeavor.  I could just hear the therapist mewing, "So, what was it exactly that pushed you over the edge," and having me scream manically, "THE LABELS!  THE FUCKING LABELS!  No wait, THE SPREADSHEET!  THE GODDAMN THIRD COLUMN WOULDN'T PRINT!"  Divorce via Excel.

Did I mention that apparently toddlers do not develop an immunity to the virus that causes croup within a season?  They don't.  Because a week before the event, when I was at the height of batshit, I hadn't even brushed my teeth for bed yet because I was downstairs working on, why yes, a spreadsheet, when I heard that oh-so-familiar trained-seal bark coming through Ale's monitor.  Three times since December 31, godddammit.  And unlike the two previous times, this time his little neck muscles were clenching and the ol' shower/stand in the cold thing (twice) didn't work.  So off we went to the ER for a wee pump of steroids and we were both calm as punch since we knew what the deal was, being croup pros by now, but neither of us lay down to sleep (him/bed, me/floor next to his bed) until 3 a.m.  And a friend involved in this fundraiser chose the next morning to insinuate that I wasn't working hard or fast enough for her AND I ATE HER WHOLE, ALIVE.  WHILE SWEARING.  THE END.

Fundraising sucks, don't do it.


There were casualties this spring:  Maddy's week got massively, tragically swept under the rug by Max, sleeplessness, and my brain having to be focused on some other-people's-tragedy.  The floral arrangement I get every year from the same awesome florist really looked like crap on day two; any other year I would've run it back because it's expensive and meaningful and they're good, but there was no time.  I told Maddy repeatedly that I was sorry, that I remembered her, and I'm pretty sure she gave an eye roll to Ale and Bella who shot her back a sympathetic look of allegiance.

I had the best of intentions to actually throw a birthday party for my son this year -- a totally casual playdate with the jillion babies who live within three blocks of us -- and when I finally picked my head up off the counter band looked at the calendar I realized:  His birthday is in 5 days.  I thought that was too late to organize something and expect people to show up, so no party.  We'll have something this summer.

Two years was marked by taking Ale to the Van Gogh exhibit (the only time we could make it before it left) -- really, the IDEAL activity for a two-year-old -- and eating take out pizza.  We got a marvelous, wonderful video of him listening to us sing and then blowing out his candles -- hell, even I looked good! And a few mornings later Mr. ABF handed Ale the phone, and and while everyone's attention was elsewhere, Ale watched it and deleted it.

It's strangely metaphoric -- the lost video and the way this year has gone, whizzing by in an amazing array of tension and shit with little good to grasp and cling to.  I suppose I could moan and groan and flail and say "typical," and perhaps tense up thinking of what horrible significance there must be erasing the only evidence of one's turning two.  Certainly in a past life, this would toll Omen.

But I smiled and kissed him and told him, "I was there."  I was there.  I got to watch him, and his eyes, and his fat cheeks, and witnessed him stuff his face with homemade chocolate cake.  I don't need a video, or a picture, or a charm, or a birthstone.  He's right here, not in my phone, not in my imagination, not poking me irritatingly in the subconscious.  No, he's poking me irritatingly, in real life, at 6 o'dark o'clock, proclaiming, "Just woke up!"  Thank goodness.  I'll take it.


Somewhere else in there was a vacation to a warm climate marred by having to check fundraising email daily and Ale once again picking up some noro-whatsit on the last night and passing it along like a good boy.

After swearing on a stack that my child would never be over scheduled and would enjoy childhood, Bella somehow had three sports this spring.  Which sucked until we all realized that her baseball team was a bit Bad News Bears meets a Ritalin advertisement and then I became grateful that she had two other experiences within the week to remind her that sports could be fun, not all coaches were incompetent, and not all children her age had the emotional maturity of her little brother.

Project "Move Children to the Third Floor" is still in progress (see: fundraiser time suck) but damn are we close.  We are thinking it's time to move our sleeping bag out of Benjamin Moore and give them a break from us, and the other half of the floors get sanded this week.

A week or so ago, 10 minutes after putting Ale down for a nap, his voice chirped from the top of the staircase:  "Climb! Out! Self!"  Wuh oh.  So he's in a big boy bed, and doing great.

Second grade has been so, so awesome I don't want it to end.  I want it to continue forever.  I feel like there can't possibly be anywhere to go from here, what could be left to learn?  But end it must (sob) and Bella has requested a smattering of camps this summer:  sports, zoo, baseball, hockey, sewing.  Her hockey program introduced to her the goalie position back in winter and she lurves it.  I'm not sure mommy  lurves it, but watching her throw on a hundred pounds of pads turning her frame into a square shape and then trying to look mean while skating backwards goes a long way toward changing my mind. Cuz that shit is hilarious.

Did you know Wegmans sells Maddalena olives?  They do, I bought some.


Good lord, how in fuck's name ARE you?