What are you Hiding?

I was in Nordstrom last night trying to find an under- eye concealer that would disguise what I’m told is a genetic problem and not due to my crazy life. As the sales lady applied and applied layer after layer of color corrector, secret camouflage, ultra HD concealer and miracle eye wand, it became very apparent that this was no secret and there was no miracle. I’m a mess.

Up until now, I have been able to “put on a good face”. I have maneuvered through the past 10 years with the uncanny ability to be witty, give good advice, care for my family, volunteer for everything, please my man and be the friend that sticks with you when everyone else has gone home.

Well, the jig is up.

As I walked through the mall with my “old lady makeup” purchase (fondly named by my eldest), I began to wonder what the women surrounding me, mindlessly sifting through sale racks, were experiencing. How many would attend the high school graduation of their first born this week and seize up with the fear of letting go in the fall. How many were overwhelmed with the day in and day out challenges of having a special needs child. How many were struggling to make end of life care arrangements for a parent in their final stages of dementia. How many were questioning their worth.

Life has handed me its share of crap and I completely understand that it’s all relative. My bullshit may be another person’s day off. I get that; however, it certainly doesn’t diminish what we each experience. I try to give each tough situation its dignity and perhaps sprinkle it with a little humor to keep us all grounded.

Each month, I make the trip to see dad. I’m really the only one he recognizes anymore and my time with him is a priority. It’s Friday before Mother’s Day weekend. This is going to be a quick trip and I plan to return Sunday afternoon in time to spend the day with my kids. Since it’s a quick trip and it IS my special weekend, I decide to treat myself to Airport Valet Parking at $25/day. I have never used this service, but what the hell. Live a little, right? Right.

I find my father in terrible condition and call for an ambulance. He is hospitalized. I spend the next 5 days at his bedside, advocating on his behalf with specialists from all medical fields. I keep his medical records meticulous and I’m so prepared, many physicians remark that they assumed I was employed in the medical field. Meanwhile, there are people at home who expected my return and need direction. I’m making calls, arranging transportation and solving problems from the hospital for my people who rely on me to make it all work out. Only one chaotic instance of the elementary school principal calling me to ask what to do with my youngest child left standing after school seems to be a small victory for me. I can do this.

Day 5

I’m running on about 3 hours sleep a night and a diet of Redbull, Subway and chardonnay. Dad is not responding to treatment, so antibiotics are changed. He’s not being discharged any time soon. The weather has seesawed from a cold and rainy 55 degrees to 94 and sunny. Here come the storms. Now, it is important to note for story continuity, that home there is a 500-acre family farm. I am alone in a 150-year-old farm house that my contractor swears is haunted. My grandmother fell off the porch in a rocker and died there, my uncle nearly chopped off his head in a terrible chainsaw accident behind the house. Dead. Lastly, my grandfather cut off 3 fingers while building a chair in his workshop and he also fell off the roof and landed on an axe, but he didn’t die from any of that.

Back to the storm. While speaking with my husband, I can see the sky brewing up my next form of bullshit. I half-jokingly inform my him that if I lose power, I will jump out of an upstairs window. As the words are coming out of my mouth, I lose power. If you’ve never experienced pitch blackness and total silence, let me tell you, it is terrifying. I gathered candles and barricaded myself in my bedroom which now resembled some sort of ghoulish tomb, dancing with creepy shadows I was sure were going to kill me. It is also important to note that I had a .38 and a box of ammunition on the bed with me for mortal intruders, because that’s how I roll. My cell phone battery is draining, so throughout the night, I keep going out to the car to charge it. I am now sitting under the car port, head on a swivel, headlights on, loaded .38 in my lap, charging my phone and mumbling something about fuck my life. Earlier, my husband had suggested I just go to sleep. I hung up on him.

Day 6

The sun appears, the power is restored 14 hours later and I’m already headed back to the hospital. I stop at Target to pick up a few t-shirts and some sweat pants because I had only packed for 48 hours, so around day 3, I started digging into my farm attire (which isn’t pretty). Dad is improving.

Day 7

Dad can be discharged and taken back to his nursing home. I decided it’s best for me to transport him so that we don’t further upset and confuse him in an ambulance. I can chat with him on the ride and remind him of familiar places and stories. We’ve traveled these roads together thousands of times so it will be good for the two of us.

With help, I get him into the car and slide into the driver’s seat. He turns to me and says, “Where are you taking me, Lady?”

Me: Dad, it’s me, Jessica. Don’t you know who I am? Look at me. I’m your daughter, Jessica.

Dad: I find that very hard to believe.

Me: Why? Why, Dad?

Dad: Because my daughter is better looking and has nicer clothes.

So, there you have it. Out of the mouths of elders. Now you know why I was at Nordstrom last night. I hope my purchase will help my father to recognize me when I see him next week.

Oh, and by the way, I will be returning to Airport Economy Parking. The $225 treat myself, valet bill could have paid for my under-eye concealers.



The Talk

Today is the day I decided to have the dreaded “talk” with my daughters. I had put it off far too long. These girls are constantly bombarded with social media that could be corroding their proper judgment. After all, they are teenagers now; they need and deserve to know all vital information and facts contributing to their long term sexual health.

I began by building a gentle foundation.

Girls, there comes a time in your life when your body begins to blossom like a beautiful and delicate flower, basking in the sun and frolicking in the garden of maturity. Mother Nature sprinkles her monthly lady glitter upon you that symbolizes your priceless gift of admission into womanhood. Your upper body landscape has begun to reveal perky new buds of growth and wonderment, while your lower region will undergo a fuzzy expansion of luxurious underbrush that serves to shroud your sacred bits.

As these changes become more noticeable, you will begin to attract attention from many who desire to dominate you. You may not realize it at first, as these persons are sneaky, often using slick words, lies and sometimes intimidation to trick you. Often they will seek to control your thoughts, emotions, your every sexual consideration; all to deem themselves superior to you.

They will tell you what to do, where to go, who to love and who to hate. On occasion, they will verbally abuse you in an effort to get what they want. They will attempt to strip you of your dignity and make you feel dirty. They will even go as far as to recount that God said it was okay.

If you object, they will tell everyone you are a whore.

If you give in and give of yourself, they will inevitably move on to the next bloom. Once they have what they want, they won’t care what happens to you.

Yes, girls, I’m talking about the Republican Party.

You must fight, like your mother, to keep them away from your vagina and out of your uterus. They are a misogynistic bunch who seem to be willing to stop at nothing until they are inside you. Stand strong with your sisters and vow to help educate others about this misguided, dangerous group.

Your body belongs to you and no one else. Care for it like a temple, but don’t take any bullshit.


In The Event of an Emergency…a little story about depression

My beautiful son was born on a September afternoon in 2005. My OBGYN said it was the most uneventful delivery he had ever witnessed. He actually sat on the side of my bed and we watched as #3 just kind of magically glided out into the world. Three times IS a charm and I was proud to have mastered the painless birth. I had managed to control the uncontrollable. Score.

My nickname, besides Sistah, is Controlee. I like to be in charge. I find comfort in leadership, not because I like to boss people around, but because I am calmest with my decision-making skills. I seek teamwork and ideas from others, as long as I have the final ruling. I believe I have a fear of trusting responsibility to others and that I’m better off when I manage all situations. Let me tell you, it’s exhausting and not always productive. Wow, not really a newsflash.

My story begins with this revelation, much to my shock and disbelief: I can’t control autism. I could manage how my son came into this world but not remedy his developmental delays. My child has a challenge which I cannot fully solve? This is way out of my element. The fear crept in and quickly turned to terror. I turned that terror into action and became the best damned autism advocate this side of Chicago. Still, when I lay in bed at night, I felt like what I was doing was never enough even though #3 was thriving.

You see, I have always been the person others rely on to make all things better. I have a meticulous record as “The Fixer”. I inherited this gift (or curse) from my mother. This autism thing… I can fix this too. Mom, the “Super Fixer” was by my side along with my husband and together, we would work tirelessly for my son. We would make everything okay. I declared myself Super Autism Mom, but still so much work to do.

Then, my Mom gets sick. Now, I must achieve superior knowledge about liver disease so that I can “fix” her. I must be able to stay one step ahead of her doctors so I may have a complete understanding of the problem at hand. After all, it’s just a problem and that’s my specialty. Sure, I’m 850 miles away, but I can handle it. I can live in the hospital room with Mommy from M-F, then fly home and see my children and husband for the weekend. Yes, it’s the worst winter on record and I find myself sleeping in several different airports, unable to get home, but I’m okay. I’m Super…

She’s getting worse. Dad is so frightened that he is rendered helplessly unable to make a decision. He gets sick. Now, I’m between the hospital, dad’s house and airport. Apple pie has become my only solace. I don’t even bother to use a plate. Just a fork. If there has ever been a poster for depression, it would be a woman sitting in a hospital room, next to her dying mother, in the dark, eating a whole pie.

She dies. I couldn’t save her. I couldn’t save her.

I can’t cure my son. I can’t cure my son.

I can’t. I can’t.

I didn’t want to get out of bed. When I finally did, I over-compensated to make up for what I considered my failures as a daughter and mother. So, I over extended myself even more than what was normal for me. I had to save someone, find a cure, rescue a shelter dog.

Next step, anger set in. I am running into more obstacles that I cannot “fix”. My son, who is hypersensitive, cries when I cry, yells when I yell. My daughters and husband are getting caught up in this hurricane of crap. This is no good. I am beginning to spiral out of control and feel like I’m drowning in uncontrollable failure.

I need help.

I got help.

Therapy has been the saving grace for me. I’m coming back better than ever. I was never suicidal. Homicidal, yes. Definitely homicidal. You could even say Medieval Shit homicidal. One of the first assignments from my therapist was to make a Pros & Cons list of all the people I wanted to see dead and how it would really affect my life. It took several months before the Pro side was shorter than the Con. My therapist talked me out of that tree and every other twisted shrub in this crazy forest that grows in my mind. We have had a few good laughs in session, even though her chuckles are usually combined with lots of writing in her notebook and eyes darting left to right. I don’t know what that’s all about, but I think I’m Chapter 6 in her book.

I also take a little medication to keep my moods from swinging like Chris Brown on a date. It’s not a cure-all, but probably the best assist to keep me out of lock up. I am learning that relinquishing control, especially to others that are perfectly qualified to take over, isn’t such a bad thing. I don’t have to know everything, fix everything. I have to let go and let the Universe catch things. I make my hands in the shape of a little bowl and recite this often.

I’m learning that I need to put on my oxygen mask and help myself first so that I can be a better me, wife, mother, daughter and friend. Oddly enough, no one wants an oxygen deprived maniac attempting to lead during an emergency situation.

Hopefully, this little story has motivated you to take better care of yourself. Hopefully, this story has given you a better understanding that you or someone in your life may be struggling. Hopefully, this story gives you peace of mind that there is no shame in asking for help, even when you are everyone else’s sunshine.

Put on your oxygen mask first, breathe and let the Universe do Her thang.
Be well.

Who Turned on the Blast Furnace

It’s 9:30pm, it’s barely dark, I’m wearing long sleeved cotton pj’s, socks, carrying a hand towel, it’s 44 degrees and the fan is blowing on high facing the bed. I know it sounds like a weird remix from The Blues Brothers, but welcome to Peri menopause.

It’s 9:30 because I am exhausted and plan my whole evening around my face hitting the pillow. The pj’s, not sexy but utilitarian. Someone needs to invent a pair made of that wicking material. Socks, because my feet are freezing… for now. They will eventually come off and join the others in the sock holding facility that is under my sheets. Now, the hand towel is the most important accessory in the nighttime ensemble. It gets shoved between my boobs to keep them separate and absorb the night sweat. I know, I’ve taken “hot” to a whole new level.

As I settle in for a good night’s sleep, I yell goodnight and I love you to my husband who is way across the California King. I notice he is wearing a hoodie.  Meanwhile, someone has apparently turned on the blast furnace. Thank goodness I have the oscillating fan set on high three inches from my face.

I drift off to sleep, 17 pillows strategically placed between my knees, behind my back and under my neck, dreaming of the days when I just rolled into bed naked, needing only a few hours of shut eye to fully function, crawling all over my husband like a jungle gym. With this comes a peaceful smile of being thankful I don’t have to keep that up. I slide my foot over to that man who is snoring like a lumberjack and a few hairs coming out of his ears, who is equally as content.