Friday, September 15, 2017

Day 100: Carrying Each Other

Each of us carries tension in our bodies.  Too much stress, too much pain; even too much pleasure--these things can cause our framework to go awry.  Our muscles grow too tight or too loose, our joints grow twisted or over extended, our fascia grows bruised or damaged...  The after effects of our mental state becomes felt in our physical one.

I have been carrying too much tension recently.  The world feels like a powder keg, and I am terrified of what will happen to the people I love when it explodes.  That tension has locked my body tight and left me with a physical form that just isn't working properly.  My neck and shoulders are strained and tense, my head aches more days than not, and my stomach is constantly on the verge of turning itself upside down.

I'm not the only one who is feeling it.  Some of my friends are turning this tension inward.  They talk about self-harm as though it would be preferable to continuing to deal with the world at large.  Some of my friends are turning it outward.  They talk about violence as though it is the just and right solution to our nation's ills.

I can't say I've never done that myself.  As one of my friends said to me the other day, I've been in a very "stabby" mood recently.

This isn't an easy thing to deal with.  It's not like we all just need to look on the bright side.  We can't fix it with self care, or a judicious application of ice cream.  We can't fix it by remembering to see the big picture.

This is the big picture.

But last night, at rehearsal, we just happened to have an extra 8 minutes in the schedule, and our choreographer asked our MD if there was anything he wanted to rehearse.  And he said yeah, let's run You Will Be Found.

My emotions are so close to the skin right now, it's not really surprising that the song hit me so hard in that moment.  But maybe, even if I'd been locking everything down, it would have broken through anyway.  Because, y'all...

Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
When you're broken on the ground
You will be found.

I will be honest.  I am having a hard time carrying myself right now.  But somehow, carrying others seems like a lighter burden.  Or, if I can't carry them, just holding their hand, so they know they're not alone in the dark.  Sometimes I think we forget what a powerful impact it can have just know that you are not alone.

I think I'm gonna just wrap this up, now, and leave you with the song.
Love to you all.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Day 99: Never Too Early

Today some packages arrived from Amazon. The kids love packages, so they gathered around, waiting with excitement, to which I responded with some amusement.

"Guys, calm down. It's just some light bulbs and condoms."
You know.  Basic household goods.
Chaz cocked her head and looked at me quizzically.
"What are condoms?"
"Well, you know how sex works? Penis goes in vagina?"
My daughter, at the tender age of seven, has decided all things sexual are inherently super gross, and she makes a face that can best be described as fighting the urge to giggle and vomit at the same time.
"Okay, well, condoms are thin rubber that gets rolled down over the penis, so no fluid passes between your bodies.  It keeps you from getting sick, and it also keeps women from getting pregnant."
"But Elliot can't get pregnant."  His sister, ever the keen observationalist, points out.
"No, but he can get someone else pregnant, and that would make the baby just as much his responsibility."
Elliot nods seriously.  "Right."
I take a moment to appreciate how sincere he is in that agreement.  Thank you, goddess.  Then I keep going.

"So, when you guys get older, and decide you want to have sex, what are you always going to use?"
"A condom!" Both my children chorus gleefully.
"That's right."  I say.  "And not just to keep from having a baby, either.  Even if you're with a boy, Elliot, or you're with a girl, Charlotte, and you can't have a baby, you still should use a condom so you don't get any diseases."  I pause for a moment.  "I mean, Chaz, you should use a dental dam.  But it's the same idea."

"What's a dental dam?" she asks.

"Sometimes adults like to put their mouths on each other's jimmies--"


"Look, I'm just telling you what a dental dam is!  It keeps you from getting fluid transferred, like a condom for your mouth."


"Hey, I'm not saying you have to!  I'm just saying, if you do..."

"Use a condom." She is decisive, and I feel confident she's gotten the point.


"But," Elliot wanted a clarification, "what if you WANT to have a baby?"

"Look, bud, when you're an adult and you're ready to take care of a baby, that's a decision you can make with your partner.  But for now, if you're gonna have sex, use a condom.  Got it?"

"Got it."


"Got it."

Look, I know probably some of y'all are horrified that I'm talking about this with my nine and seven year old.  But all I'm saying is, when they've grown into sixteen and fourteen year olds, they're gonna already have the information they need, because I'm going to have given it to them all along the way.

And I am wicked content with that parenting choice.

Now, what's the over/under on me getting a call from their principal, asking why my kids know what a dental dam is?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Day 98: I Am Angry

I am angry, my loves. 

I am so angry that it's taking over every aspect of my life.  I cannot get through a day without constantly fighting the urge to just let it out, in whatever way presents itself to me.  But I know that wouldn't be fair, or right, so I choke it down, and it returns to my belly where it simmers and waits to erupt. 

I cannot find a healthy way to vent this anger, either, because I am angry about things that have no obvious or easy solution.  Do I need to list them?  Aren't you all angry, too?  That skin color is still a source of hate, that religion is still such a divisive thing, that whether or not one of your chromosomes has an extra tail on it is such a big damn deal? 

Aren't we all angry?

I look at the news and I see disaster everywhere.  Nazis are rising in America.  White people STILL haven't figured out racism is our problem.  Women are having laws passed that oppose their medical health.  The poor are going to lose their insurance. 

The planet is headed towards being uninhabitable by humanity, and we watch helplessly as coal and oil money buys us another few minutes on the doomsday clock.  Countries sell their rainforest to developers, we back out of climate agreements, we still can't fucking agree on simple facts!

Two mad men with nuclear weapons are playing chicken.



I know it's unlike me to leave it like this.
Normally I try to turn to hope.  To joy.  To something that reminds me of the good.
But not this time.
This time all I've got--all I keep telling myself--is that anger is better than despair.

So I suppose I'll just keep being angry.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Day 97: War of the Woodards

Lesser historians believe that the war began on the first of August, 2017.  In reality, the open shots were fired the night before, in a skirmish so mild that, initially, it didn't register as the open salvos in an epic conflict.

Pre-War, the family at peace.
Alas, such peace was to be short lived.

It is recorded that Monday, July 31st, the matriarch of the Woodard family declared cheerfully that tomorrow would be room cleaning day.  The children responded with little to no alarm, a reaction that--at the time--the matriarch regarded positively.  Little did she know that this was a black ops tactic, designed to throw her off her guard.

So it was that, on August 1st, the very next day, she was completely unprepared for the shit storm that descended when she once more broached the "room cleaning" front.

For three days the family engaged in direct military action, from mild skirmishes up to pitched battle.  During the conflict the matriarch sustained damages such as bruising, bite marks, and a sudden onset of the desire to drink herself into a coma.  The children lost most of their screen time and spent many hours entrenched in their emotional foxholes, where they drowned in self-inflicted misery.

Negotiations were attempted, but resolved nothing.  The children staunchly declared that for liberty, freedom, and--above all--fairness, they would never yield in the war.  The Matriarch leveled her famous quote in response:

Oh, yeah, I'm so unfair.  I only take care of you, feed you, clothe you, keep you from running into traffic, and clean this whole damn house.  How dare I ask you to clean up 80 sq ft filled with nothing but your own personal shit? 

When the youngest of the children announced that this was obvious sarcasm, negotiations were completely derailed and all attempts at reconciliation were abandoned.

Not til Friday, August 4th, was a tentative peace declared.  A third party suggested a piecemeal attempt at cleaning the rooms, and the matriarch--with her resources exhausted and an ever growing conviction that she was going to need valium to survive this week--acceded to a trial process.  The children attempted to circumvent the agreed upon terms several times, by first simply moving everything from the area they were supposed to be cleaning into another area that was not yet needing to be cleaned, and then later by crying and declaring they "could not" and would the matriarch please not relent and allow them to live in squalor.  The matriarch held firm, however, and by noon that Friday the process of cleaning had at last begun.

The children came through the conflict relatively unscathed, and in fact were arming for a new war mere moments later.

The matriarch is seriously considering running away and joining the circus.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day 96: A Vacation Story

The children and I have returned from our jaunt along the east coast, and, lemme tell you, some marvelous things happened along the way.  Briefly--or, rather, as briefly as someone as verbose as I am can possibly force themselves to be--here's what we did:

We stayed outside Philly with Allison and Jon.  As always they were amazing hosts, and the kids learned to play Snake Oil with them.  When I say "learned" I mean they both grasp the concept of the game, kind of.  Elliot likes to do things like get two cards that say "Food Wand" and sell it as "a magic wand that can make food, but it's magic, so I can also make anything else, too, like robots.  It can make a whole robot army.  You can conquer the world."  And Charlotte with the same two cards, will present it as "it's a wand made of food.  You can eat it."  So, you know, they're still working on their delivery.

We also went to what was seriously the most amazing playground ever.  Smith Memorial Playground cannot be summed up in mere words, so I offer you some visual evidence of it's sheer awesomeness.

They had a giant wooden slide:

They had... what is this?  A Conical Rope Merry-go-round?  I dunno, but it was great:

They had marvelous small climbing apparatuses that moved and shifted to keep the climb interesting:

Seriously, it was amazing.

Then we went to Keswick (it's near Charlottesville, in VA) and hung out with Breeden.  While we were there we went tubing, and while the children didn't actually love the "being in the tube" part, they adored the swimming, playing with rocks, finding river critters, and "rock hopping" (and activity which involved them free floating in the current and taking giant leaps from rock to rock.)  I do not have and pictures of this, because sensible people do not take their phones down the river with them, EVEN IF YOU COULD PUT IT IN A PLASTIC BAG AND HOPE FOR THE BEST, as some might have possibly suggested.

I also finally got to meet my friend Callie in real life, and that was pretty fantastic.  But I failed to take a picture with her, which I regret.

In Salisbury we met up with Brooke and Brown and went to the NC Transportation Museum, which I classify as "unexpectedly awesome."  It's got road and air vehicles, but by far the most amazing part of the museum was the TRAINS.  Elliot was in seventh heaven, and Chaz may have finally caught train fever, too.  Since the museum seemed like a safe environment for my phone, you may prepare yourself for another barrage of pictures.

I had never seen an actual roundhouse before.  I knew what they were, thanks to Thomas the Train, but it's kind of fantastic to see them in person.  

Charlotte has always been a transportation hub for NC, so a lot of the trains and vehicles were labeled the "Charlotte" something or other.  Chaz, predictably, was very enthusiastic about this.

Elliot was so happy about all the trains he was vibrating.  I think all the pictures of him were at least mildly blurry.

This train is mine, by virtue of it being purple.

The internet makes it everywhere.  Even back in time.

In Simpsonville we stayed with Aunt Beth (and Jackson and Olivia and Andrew) who was recovering from surgery.  That meant that we spent most of the time hanging out at her house, but that was totally cool.  The kids adore Aunt Beth's house.  I will not speculate on how much of this is because she feeds them ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST, and how much is based in other things.

I did have an adult night with Beth!  Jackson and Olivia watched the kids, and Beth and I went out with her friend Amy to eat at a restaurant called BACON BROTHERS.  Yes, it was my dream eatery.

There were a lot of selfies that night.  A LOT.

We stayed with Nora and Becky in Winston Salem, and saw their new house!  Apparently I didn't get a picture of this at all?  Which I feel shameful about.  Also, we didn't stay with them long enough.  That's two years in a row that we've basically only been there overnight, and that's hardly enough time to catch up.  I am trying to convince them to come visit Boston, but we shall see.

I also managed to catch up with Jessica while we were in Winston.  We grabbed breakfast and then let the kids play at Miller Park while we chatted.  I haven't seen her in nine years, so that was amazing.  Also, she fished a gnat out of my eye, which I think is a sign that, although long parted, we are still very good friends. :)

We went back to Keswick and Breeden's house, and this time we chilled pretty heavily.  That was good, because the small people were starting to short out from exhaustion.  We did go to the local pool, which has an AH-MAY-ZING water slide (seriously, if I lived around there I would own a seasonal pass) and that was great.  We also hooked the kids on a new anime, Sword Art Online, and the kids hooked us on Dragon Mania Legends.

Yes, I know.  Yes, I feel shame.  Anyone wanna play with me?  I have invite codes...

The children are coaching Breeden on how to properly counter elements.  Some people might find this adorable.  Not me, of course.  I am immune to that sort of thing.  But *some* people.

We spent the final weekend in DC, with Harsh.  He's moved out to Bethesda, and I kinda love his new neighborhood.  We had originally intended to spend Sat afternoon and all day Sunday at various Smithsonian institutions,  but we were wiped by the time we got there, so we decided to hit the zoo on Sunday and just hang out for Saturday.  This... turned out to be unexpectedly entertaining.

Here's why:

Chaz decided to draw.  She loves drawing, and recently she's gotten into drawing ducks.  Now, she started drawing ducks for us, and some had hair, and some did not, which, in Charlotte's mind, was how to distinguish boy ducks from girl ducks.  I--not for the first time--pointed out that this was nonsense, and, in fact, ducks did not have hair, neither boy nor girl ducks, and that in reality this was also a poor way to distinguish gender among the human population as well.

Charlotte insisted that girl ducks have hair.

I decided, rather than continuing our long standing argument, I would appeal to Harsh, in his capacity as a Scientist, and therefore a figure of Authority on matters such as the physical characteristics of species.  He answered that it was a complicated question, because while, no, ducks did not technically have hair, they did enjoy a good wig, so they often SEEMED like they had hair.

I objected to this obvious fallacy, with the position that if a duck had hair it was far more likely to be an alien life form than a sentient duck that had purchased a wig.

This story just gets sillier.  Hold on.

Anyway, Chaz produced several wig wearing ducks for Harsh, and some space ducks for me, before she decided the ducks needed weaponry.  Accordingly she drew daggers and swords for our ducks, as well as drawing me a truly spectacular Picasso Man to wield the nuke she gave me.

Don't ask.  Apparently in Charlotte's world we go from swords to nukes.  There's nothing in between.

At some point Chaz declared we would be battling our ducks (and Picassos), at which point Harsh and I, not being fools, realized that we needed to make some specific requests.  Harsh wanted a nuke of his own, but Chaz refused and only allowed him TNT, which she said he could craft into a nuke if he wanted to.  I don't think Harsh has ever played minecraft, because he didn't seem to get it.  She told him it was no problem, he could craft the nuke as soon as he made himself a crafting table.  When he asked how one did such a thing, she said he'd need four wood.  Then she drew him trees, which she said he could blow up with TNT to get the wood to make the crafting table to craft the nuke.
Harsh pointed out that she could just draw him a nuke.
She didn't think that was necessary.
Things... got a little ridiculous from there.  Elliot also joined in.  By the time we were done, people were equipped with (in no particular order and with no particular logic):

A dolphin wizard in a bathtub of sea water
An elephant, complete with palanquin for bearing ducks into battle
A laser cow space station
A laser space station, no cow included
A nuke
A nuclear wizard duck that farted napalm
A flying T-rex
And Liono, leader of the Thunder Cats

That's probably not a complete list.  Honestly, I can't remember it all.  At any rate, eventually we started "playing."  There are no rules, and very little structure, and I think (although I can't be sure) that the ultimate purpose is to be as silly as possible.

Which is how people ended up firing poop lasers and making a giant turd column that extended all the way to the core of the earth.

Seriously.  I'm not sure I'm capturing the sheer level of amazeballs that this was.  Maybe you had to be there.  But trust me.  It was great.

Also, I got to have Harsh's recipe for Butterbeer, which is possibly the pinnacle of my beer experience thus far in life.

The next day we went to the zoo, where Elliot managed to get stung and require medical attention, Harsh asked a magical question of a lovely woman named Deja and she made us a giant pretzel covered in vanilla soft serve, and no one picked a fight with a lion.  Not for want of urging on the part of SOME of the party, however.

And that's it!  The next day we came home.  It was a very long trip, but we survived, and the kids were honestly troopers.  Today is gonna be a bear, because Charlotte had reached the end of ALL HER TOLERANCE, but we're gonna take it easy and I have faith that normal life will resume eventually.

Now, what have all of you been up to?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Day 95: A Political Update

Some of you may have noticed that I've not been blowing up the political posts recently.
No matter how tempting it is.

Some of that, undoubtedly, is because my life has been a wee bit hectic, with shows and birthdays and not one, not two, but THREE medical hurty thingies. I have allowed myself to turn away from the twenty-seven ring circus in DC due to personal concerns.

But some of it, quite honestly, is because WHAT THE HELL WOULD I SAY?

There's a decent chance Russia rigged our election. That's some spy novel shit right there. What's far more worrisome, fully half our government doesn't seem to want to know. I mean, honestly, I disagree with politicians all the time, but this is the clearest example of obvious corruption that I can think of in my lifetime.

We're pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Some of our politicians are working very hard to remove health care from poor people, women, and the elderly, and to make it more expensive for everyone else. The prevalent racism we have in this country is becoming more apparent than ever, to white people, at least (minorities have known about it for a long time), and yet little is being done about it. The head of the executive branch of our government seems to have no real concept of foreign policy, which leaves us in very real danger of being catapulted into a war no one wants. And our media seems more interested in reporting on the dumpster fire in the White House than in actual world events.

Meanwhile, terrorist attacks are on the rise in Europe. The Great Barrier Reef is dying, and soon it will be dead. We're approaching a massive global extinction event. And in the time of what is undeniably the greatest level of wealth for humanity as a whole, half the world lives in extreme poverty, while 80% of the world lives in your average, run of the mill poverty.

Things are fucked y'all.  No joke.

And yet... and yet...  

A Muslim man in the Philippines sheltered 64 Christians in his home, hiding them from militants.

The acting US Ambassador to China quit over Trump's decision to pull out of the climate agreement.

An Australian nurse lost her life, running towards the London bridge victims, trying to help.

Countries all over the world are making the push for renewable power.  A few are on track to supply themselves completely with clean energy within the next five years.

Dutch prisons are closing, because their rehabilitation systems are so effective.

Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage.

The rice around Fukushima is now safe to eat again.

They discovered a new species of skink in New Zealand, and immediately saved it from extinction.

People everywhere, all the time, are taking actions--both small and large--to prove that humanity as a whole has as much good in it as it does evil.  And these things give me hope that maybe, if we don't kill ourselves, we're gonna get wiser.

I'm feeling, dare I say it?  Hopeful.

So I'm not spending a lot of time bitching about politics.  Because, honestly, I'm starting to feel like there are better uses for my energy, like helping with that whole "getting wiser" thing.  

Not gonna lie, though, it helps that some folks are stepping up to fill the gap.  And some of them have material that is solid gold!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Day 94: The Growing-up

Seven years ago I walked into Anna Jacques maternity ward, laughing over some joke Natalie had made.  In fact, I was so cheerful that the on-duty nurses were suspicious that I was actually in labor, until they checked me in and found out I was already 4 cm dilated.  They just didn't think I looked like I was in enough pain to be in labor.

The truth was it did hurt, but I didn't care.  I was so happy my baby girl was on the way.

She came so quickly that she aspirated some amniotic fluid on the way out, and turned a little blue.  She was fine, but whenever she wasn't with me they kept sticking her in the baby baker, to help her dry out a little before we took her home.

In retrospect, that story--what we might call the very first "story of Charlotte"--set the tone for all her future stories.  Charlotte is my deceptively easy child, who sometimes trips me up just because of how easy she is in general. :)

It was a blessing and a wonder to take her home and find that she, unlike her brother, was interested in sleeping.  She had a tiny, reddish mohawk for her first three months, until her hair grew too long and started flopping over from it's own weight.  And she was always firm in her opinions, even when her only manner of communicating them was in baby noises.

She smiled very early.

As she grew it was clear she adored her big brother.  She followed him everywhere, and her most heartbreaking moment of all time was the day he left her to go to school.  Who could have guessed that, five years down the road, they would fight like Cats and Dogs?  And yet, if there's ever an outside threat, they band together in an instant.  They come at the world in different ways, but they're totally willing to take it on together.

Charlotte has grown to be a beautiful child, creative and funny, energetic and strong willed.  She wears her heart on her sleeve, which I both delight in and ache over, because I know how much it can hurt when your feelings are so exposed, and yet I also know how much joy it can bring.  She does everything with her whole heart, and while that can be trying when what she's doing is "throwing a fit and falling in", most of the time that means that she is awe inspiring.  She doesn't know the meaning of half measures. 

My darling baby is getting bigger, and sometimes I look at her old pictures and sigh for that baby face.  I miss her little girl grammar and the sweet inquisitiveness that has become a more demanding search for knowledge.  But I cannot deny that her growing maturity is also a delight, and when she can see I'm having a hard day and comes to hug me and tell me she loves me, my heart is so full of joy over the wonderful person she is growing to be.

Happy birthday, Charlotte.  I love you to the moon and back, and back again, for infinity.