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As we approach the Labor Day holiday weekend, I find myself feeling at odds with a number of things:

1. the fact that my birthday is coming up

2. dog days

3. bugs

4. my to-do list

5. my should-do list

By the time we reach this point in our calendar year, I have just about had it with all of the above. I’ve long since noticed that the morning light has moved past watery and into bleakness at my 5:30 alarm. The birds have stopped their morning chorus. It’s fairly silent pre-6am. I suppose I could embrace all of that and develop a routine in which I sit down to write for thirty minutes, but you know and I know that’s not going to happen. See also: not a morning person.

While I don’t necessarily hold a grudge about having yet another birthday, I don’t particularly feel inordinate joy about it. I don’t have a burning desire for a big party, but I also don’t want the wah-wah of no fuss made, either. Which is to say, I don’t really WANT a big pile of gifts, but I would enjoy a little bit of planning on someone else’s part to celebrate my birthday. Asking me “what do you want for your birthday?” and then “what do you want to do for your birthday?” both bear the hallmarks of consideration, but also are just a big coverup for the fact that NO ONE has thought about it. Believe me, I’ve thought about it. It’s all I’ve thought about for a month now. If I have to plan my own birthday celebration, then what’s the point?

I’m also starting to see people my age in the obituary column these days. Sobering.

Can we talk about the heat? August is traditionally a hot month, yes, and this one has been no exception. But I’ve had it with having to keep all the blinds pulled in the house just to keep the house cool and keep the a/c from running all the time. I miss seeing daylight. I’m tired of being in a cave.

Let’s also talk about mosquitoes and spiders and ants. Three of my least favorite bugs. The humidity, paired with popup thundershowers, has brought all of these critters out with a vengeance. In fact, we had to have a window frame replaced in our bathroom because moisture had gotten into it and rotted it away, and boy, was it loaded with ants. I am so freaking sick of ants. I am also enormously tired of walking into spider webs. This is the time of year that spider webs seem to be floating through the air. Nothing will turn you into a ninja like walking into a spider web, face first. If we could just get the spiders to eat all the ants and capture all the mosquitoes in their webs, I could live with that.

I have a to-do list that continues to grow exponentially, and I am only doing the musts on it. Which is to say, when we need cat food and toilet paper, I go to the store. Priorities.

My should-do lists contains items like “weed the flowerbeds” and “trim the shrubs” and “sweep the porch.” The fact that I am not doing any of these things makes our house look abandoned. Not to mention that my husband has fallen behind on mowing the grass, so yeah, it looks seedy around here.

I reach this point every year, and I recognize it, and frankly, it seems to arrive earlier and earlier each year. I drink too many cokes, too much wine, I eat too many junk food items, I sleep poorly. It’s slashing the other three tires because the first one is flat. It’s only a matter of time before I meet this mood coming and going.

In short: I am done. Please wake me up when spring arrives again.

 

 

— Mox

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So I have come to a decision as of recently, one that won’t be put into action for *at least* ten years, probably more like 20.

Of course this decision hinges on a number of factors, the major ones being Spawn graduating from college and beginning a life separate from my husband and myself, and my parents no longer needing me.  And me retaining some semblance of health.  But I have a dream.

This dream is known as Retirement and while I am not anxious to be on the downward slope toward Eternity, retirement will be (I hope) a welcome state of being.

My husband assures me we will be able to retire, and I have my doubts about that, but for the sake of this dream I have allowed myself to reach this decision.

I have decided that I will become an artist in my retirement years.

I’m not even sure I will be a serious artist.  My current vision involves living a Bohemian lifestyle, throwing a lot of brightly colored paint around, and cutting my hair super short and coloring it some crazy color.

See also:  Mid-life crisis.

Those who know me know that I am more a Talbots kind of gal, raised with manners and sensible shoes, without an alternative bone in my body.   I have a sense of decorum, I can set a table properly for a dinner party, and I write thank you notes.  I live in a small town in the Upper South, where no one wears white shoes after Labor Day, and my politics are reserved for the voting booth.  In short, I am what is known as A Good Girl.

Once I get Spawn raised to Adulthood and I do not need to explain myself to my mother – the gloves are off.

I can hardly wait to become the person who will inspire eye-rolling in the adult version of Spawn.  Lord knows I am inspiring eye-rolling in the pre-teen version, and it’s not near as much fun as I anticipate the later version will be.  It’s entirely possible a suggestion will be made that I have my marbles checked.  I won’t care then, and I don’t care now.

All I know is, it’s good to have a goal.

 

— Mox

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Pernicious.

Well.

Sometimes the answers are quite simple, aren’t they?

So, after my last post, where I simultaneously feared for and got excited about my ebbing sanity, I did manage to get something written.  It’s not complete, not by a long shot.  And my deep blue funk really had nothing to do with it. I just had a few rather beautiful turns of phrase rattling around in my head while I stood in the shower one night, and I made a point of writing them down.

So there’s that.  I don’t know where it’s going, but at least it’s out of my head and in a file on my laptop.

I recently came to the conclusion that I’m never going to get any writing done unless I actually sit down and do it, whether I feel inspired or not.  Back in my salad days I could count on the muse to show up pretty regularly, but my salad days were all about me and I had so few responsibilities.  So I’ve made something of a semi-commitment to finding the time, even if it’s just half an hour, to writing something.  Of course the commitment is classified as “semi” because I have good intentions but also a whale of a schedule.  Baby steps, folks.

Still, I haven’t been able to shake my apathy. I’ve been feeling very much a drudge these days, what with the constant errand-running and schedule-juggling and general household-managing.  I’m tired, folks.

I had my annual physical checkup this week and — in addition to getting an arm-numbing Tetanus/Pertussis booster shot — I got the first of a series of B12 shots.  After having B12 numbers on the low side for a number of years, I am now depleted.  This is known as Pernicious Anemia.

I do not recommend Googling any medical condition.  But I did.  I found a majority of the symptoms that have plagued me all summer, the ones I chalked up to burning the candle at both ends and possibly the beginnings of a larger problem (read: heart) as well as some pretty dire consequences for not taking care of the problem.  If Dr. Google’s aim is to scare the beejeezus out of people, he’s doing a great job.

Oddly enough, once I had the problem identified and a course of action plotted, I allowed myself to finally – after five months – give in to it.  To admit I was tired and apathetic and dragging and allow myself to sit still and wallow in my tiredness.  I didn’t feel the need to push through it any longer.

My doctor tells me that after four weeks of B12 shots I should feel markedly better.  And I’ll have to keep taking these shots from now until Kingdom Come.  Fortunately with age and maturity I have made peace with the practice of needles going into my tender skin, though I would prefer it in my (ahem) fleshy hip rather than my bony arm.

2013 has just not been my year.

 

— Mox

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This past weekend I journeyed back to my alma mater to help my sorority with their fall recruitment.  It’s been 20(ish) years since my college/sorority days, and while I was excited to be back on campus and soaking up the youthful energy, I was also reminded of just how far I’ve come in the interim.

Translation:  I do not have the energy I once did.

When you are in the age range of 18-21 you tend to want to be as independent as possible, and that’s all well and good, but as you get older you learn that there are people out there who are willing to help you.  And you figure out that when people help you it doesn’t diminish your independence unless you let it.  And when you have passed a certain benchmark in the “getting older” part of your life (say, past the age of 40), you are more than happy to help people who are half your age.

It’s too bad that when you’re in that 18-21 age range you don’t really understand any of that.

When I arrived on campus on Saturday, I found the sorority girls in a full-blown panic over things that should not have been panicked over. That is to say, if they had their ducks in a row ahead of time the panic wouldn’t have taken place at all.  The alums that came to help the girls with rush (me included) were pretty much groping around in the dark for answers, and very much wanting to take some of the pressure off the girls with all the little party details, so that they could focus their energies on the recruitment part of the thing.  But no, these girls were trying to do it all themselves, and they were starting to lose their shit.

Rush is a pretty stressful time for everybody involved.  Party planning, decorations, refreshments, skits, lines to learn, figuring out what to wear… it’s a lot to keep all those balls in the air.  When you’re an 18-21 year old woman (girl?), all that stuff can take on a level of importance akin to national security and you tend to get a wee bit peevish and a lot of times there are tears.  When someone else comes along and offers to help, you should happily take that help, yes?

You would think.

To be fair, when you’re under a lot of pressure it’s not always easy to see an outstretched hand coming to your aid.  When we finally were able to wrest some of the little detail stuff from them, the stress level went down a bit and they were able to get in there and do that recruitment thing that they had been training for all summer.  And once the last party attendee was out the door, the girls were so very thankful for our help.

The fly in the ointment here is that there were representatives from the national headquarters of our sorority “helping” with all of this.  Things would have gone so much more smoothly if they had involved us alums from the get-go, but they didn’t even seem to want to acknowledge us.  It really put a lot of the alums into a snit.

And here is where I tend to differ from the rest of the women in the room.  While I want this fall recruitment to go well and our sorority to maintain a strong presence on campus, I am not heavily invested in how they treat those of us who are old enough to be their mamas.  I mean, yes, I was a bit put out about the lack of communication — mainly because I am not a big fan of flying by the seat of my pants — but I didn’t necessarily take it personally.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  I much prefer the company of men.

 

— Mox

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There is a line of wisdom out there that suggests you should do one thing every day that scares you.  Frankly, I don’t have time for that.

After church on Sunday, Spawn and I packed a couple of bags and headed out of town.  I’d sort of made plans in my head of how this was going to go, while also being open to whatever presented itself in front of me.

In the ten years I’ve been Spawn’s mom, I’ve learned that with Spawn you have to have a certain amount of flexibility, because the kid will confound the best laid plans, every time.  It’s far better to just have a loose idea of what you’re going to do and be willing to change your itinerary as you go along.

I tend to fancy myself as quite the outdoorsy person, when current evidence would suggest the contrary (see: artificial nails).  I’m continually surprised by how far away I’ve gotten from the person I used to be, once upon a time.  Some things have changed and will stay changed — I don’t have much intention of ever tent camping again — and other things I really miss doing.  Of course my life, with its’ schedules and responsibilities, sort of precludes things like getting back into riding or further exploring whitewater rafting.  But I’ve learned that if Spawn is game to try something new, I should be, too.

Within reason, of course.

This is how I came to be standing on a platform in the woods, sixty feet off the ground, in the rain, tethered to a metal cable, and jumping into the leafy abyss.

If you’ve never ziplined, I would recommend the experience.

 

— Mox

 

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I love the fact that birthdays are a really big deal as far as Spawn is concerned.  My upcoming 44th annus horribilis has got the kid all a-twitter (in the old fashioned way, not the social media way) with the notion of me celebrating something, anything.  There has been mention of a surprise, though with Spawn that could mean just about anything, and considering the fact that The Day falls on a Thursday this year, the biggest surprise I could (and do) hope for is no homework and a lot of “yes ma’am” spread liberally through my house.  I don’t want much, you see.

Well, besides the above-mentioned, my mother’s homemade German chocolate cake would be nice.

My husband is neck deep in a new store opening, and won’t be home for the actual day, and I must actually be getting older because I am all kinds of fine with that.  I don’t remember when birthdays started to be kind of “meh” for me, but I’m just not all that het up about it.  I don’t really want anything — at least, not anything that someone could actually give me — and I don’t want a big fuss made, which has been my mantra for several years now.

Truth be told, this year I’m just not all that into it.  My husband will be working for the next week to ten days and therefore out of town much of the time, my best friend is working majorly sucky hours (3-11pm shift), my favorite cousin lives in Chicago (and she’d certainly show me a good time), and my dear sweet friend Denise has her kids this weekend and is unavailable.  It’s times like this I wish I had googobs of friends, but it’s not my nature to be close friends with more than a few people, and that means that when everyone is busy with their own lives around my birthday, I end up on the couch by myself.

I’ve sort of made some tentative plans to take Spawn on a little road trip this weekend, since my husband won’t be home.  As much as I’d love to have a “me” weekend, filled with lunch and drinks and shopping and general low-level hedonism, my Plan B is to road trip somewhere and spend money on my kid.  Do I know how to live it up or what?

The only problem with Plan B is that my mother seems to be hell-bent on sucking what little joy there is out of it.  Joy-sucking is one of my mother’s specialties, and though I don’t know exactly what the issue is that she has with Plan B, it’s probably fairly safe to assume it has something to do with her not being in control of it.  I love my mother, yes of course, but the woman is a big-time major controller.  (Though if I were to be fair about it I would have to admit that I tend to have control issues too, and thanks mom for lending me those particular genes.)  If she doesn’t like something she rains all over it, which means whatever enjoyment you were going to get out of it gets tainted.  She’s worried that Something Will Happen to us out on the road, and yes, Something might (might! maybe! statistically speaking!) but good lord that’s just no way to live life.

At any rate, the one thing I have semi-looked forward to since I pieced together the fact that I was going to have a dull weekend otherwise has now been rained on by my mother and I am pissed off about that.

(Dear God please don’t let me do this to Spawn amen.)

So I’m going to do what I always do:  go ahead with my plans, perhaps even more stubbornly so, with the slow burn in the back of my mind that comes from being pissed.  Because that is how I deal.  And dammit, I’m (going to be) 44 years old — at what point do I get to do what I want without my mother weighing in on it?  And even that wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t just automatically dump all over everything just because it’s not within her control.  Weigh in with a “good for you!” once in a while, just to balance things out.  But no, my tentative plans got firmly concreted pretty quick.  Whatever ambivalence I felt about Plan B is now pushed aside in favor of Doing It No Matter What.

Can we say passive-aggressive?

— Mox

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Twenty-five years ago today, I donned a frilly lavender taffeta dress and stood up with my best friend as she made the biggest mistake of her life. 

I suppose that’s a bit melodramatic, but considering that we were both 18 at the time and supposedly adults, we didn’t have that first clue as to what we were doing.  I stood up there in the front of that little country church with a heavy heart and a confused mind.  Why on earth was my best friend, with one year of college behind her, jumping into the shark tank that is marriage to a man seven years her senior?  A man from another country, mind you, whom I didn’t quite like. 

You do what you do under the guise of supporting your friend, when under your skin you know that this is not going to be all it’s cracked up to be.  The differences were so great between those two — age, culture, maturity level — and I tried to talk her out of it, I tried to get her mother to talk some sense into her, and everyone was hurtling forward toward this conclusion and all I can tell you is, even at the age of 18 I knew something was not right about the whole thing. 

They married, moved all the way to Texas, and I did not see her again for seven years, other than her occasional visit home to see her family.  It felt like an amputation to me, losing the one friend who knew everything about me, whom I’d seen daily since first grade, who since third grade had been my best friend and the sister I’d never had.  Yeah, it hurt. 

In 25 years their marriage has been full of ups and downs, just like anyone else’s, but I can honestly say that in those 25 years my gut feeling has never changed.  And I don’t feel the least bit vindicated that my gut appears to be right.   

It hurts my heart to see how my friend’s husband treats her.  I can’t even be objective enough here in the anonymous space to enumerate the many ways he grinds her under his boot.  I suppose the most objective thing I can say is that he is emotionally and mentally abusive.  He has managed to take an intelligent and lively girl and compress her spirit to the point that she appears and feels to be ten years older than her 43 years.  His one saving grace had been that he had always been a good provider, and even that has fallen away; he’s two years unemployed and apparently making no real effort to reenter the job market. 

I find it hard to honestly wish her a happy anniversary today, knowing what I know and feeling how I feel.  While I would wholeheartedly support her if she decided to end the marriage, I know that for whatever reason she won’t do it.  People divorce for far lighter reasons than the ones she could muster up, and I think maybe she might just be a glutton for punishment. 

I want to grab her by the shoulders and shake her until her teeth rattle, and I’d do it, too, if I thought that would shake some sense into her. 

If I could turn back the clock, if that would make things any different, I’d go back and try harder to talk her out of it.  I’d tell her again and again what I felt in my gut, until one of us dropped from the sheer exhaustion of it all. I supposed I’d even sacrifice our friendship for the sake of her happiness, if that meant she wouldn’t take that step. 

Trust your gut, folks. 

— Mox

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