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Do you know what I hate? I hate feeling vulnerable. It’s not something I accept well and as a matter of fact, my usual reaction to feeling vulnerable is anger. White hot, react-not-think anger. I’m not sure why, or how it got to be that way for me..I’m sure someone with a string of letters after their names would have a field day telling me.
As a single mom living close to the poverty level for many years when the kids were small, I often felt vulnerable. Vulnerable to the whims and whimsies of THOSE WHO HAD AUTHORITY. Be it someone from the Housing Authority (yes, we lived in the ‘hood) coming into our home for an annual inspection, someone from the DHS office calling to say I needed to come in for an review to see if my kids still met the criteria for MaineCare, or having to sit at a table in a school and battle it out with strangers to get Hallee what she needed from a system with an ever decreasing budget for kids like her.
I would spend days feeling exposed, judged, stereotyped and ultimately furious that we had to be in that position in the first place. While I was grateful for the things these services provided, I will never forget the feelings of frustration, dependency and fury, a cycle that lasted for years. The feeling of “Please, Sir, may I have another” meekness rankled to no end. So for years while I struggled to keep our heads above water, I kept my chin up and my mouth shut. And while I worked, had a job, paid my bills, was an excellent mother to my children and paid my taxes, I was seen as less, because I needed help, because of where I lived. There is no shortage of assholes who are very free with their judgement, believe me.
These feelings came swinging back to me today while I was standing in line at Hannaford. Two women in line behind me were obviously acquainted to one another & were talking rather loudly. One says to the other, “I can’t believe how empty it is in here today” and the other replied, “It must not be food stamp day, otherwise everybody from Capehart would be in here. I hate coming in here on those days.”
I didn’t even think about it. After years of listing to that same kind of self-righteous, ignorant, holier-than-thou bullshit I lost it. I turned around and said, quietly, “What a sanctimonious load of shit. Does it hurt to be that small minded?” She sputtered and looked put out..”Excuse me? I wasn’t talking to you.” ”No, but you were talking loudly enough for people in the produce section to hear you. You made sure that everyone around you heard your opinion and now I’m stating mine.” I waited for a response, anything intelligent to back up her judgement on the over 500 families that live in Housing here and of course there was nothing besides the expected favorite rejoinder of the unintelligent, “Whatever”.
I am not rude. I am not disrespectful by anyone’s standards and hate confrontation. But I’m done being quiet and keeping my tongue while idiots spout hurtful garbage. I always wondered what age I’d be when I stopped giving a shit and just started telling it like it is. For those of you who want to know, it’s 44 years and 10 months.
Hola, Cheekies! It’s back to a normal schedule this week, thank God. I love Christmas but I was soooo ready to have it over with this year! I got that tree out of the house so fast I left a trail of fire to the front door and heaved that needle-shedding bitch right off the front porch and down to the yard. Seeee ya! Thanks for the memories! And getting those kids back to school? Ah, how sweet the sound..of silence. You all know I adore my girls, and I would straight up kill anyone that hurt them, but I want my house back. Neat, clean, organized…quiet.
With the weather being as cold as it’s been these last few days, I’ve spent a lot of time inside trying organize the bits and pieces that are now overflowing every bit of our home due to Christmas. Why did I think that the Monster High high school and all of the tiny bits that go with it was such a great idea? And all of the miniatures that go with the doll house that I got for the girls? Tiny, tiny little wheels of cheese and minuscule loaves of bread and eggs in a bowl for the kitchen? Ugh. Oh Jesus, the 1200 piece elastic band bracelet making kit? Was I on crack? Do you know how many of those little bastards I have vacuumed up in a week? I think the cat is eating them, too.
So I’m spending a couple of hours each day with totes large and small. Tupperware buckets, Rubbermaid containers..oy. Crap in containers. Containers on shelves. Labeled. It thrills me to my little OCD core. Will it last? Nope. But it’s nice while it lasts. And the clothes? Where? Where did all of the clothes come from? I didn’t buy that many, because my mother ia the big shopper for the girls clothes at Christmas (thanks, Mom!) but all of a sudden I can barely get Mad’s closet door shut. Totally first world problems, I get that..but holy shit..stuff.
Did you guys make any New Year’s resolutions? I don’t bother, because I have no will power and know better. Shop less? Ha. As if. Start running? Only if someone’s chasing me with a gun. Better parent? No such thing. A few years ago, things might be different, but our lives are so good, so blessed right now, it’s almost storybook, and I won’t gag you with the diabetes-inducing sweetness that I get to revel in every day. The girls are happy and healthy. They love Mark so much and it’s mutual. To see them laughing with him, hugging and kissing him..makes my black little heart warm a little bit. When he pulls in the driveway at night, one or both kids shrieks, “Mark’s home!”. He gets kisses and loves and to hear them joking or see them cuddled up watching tv..oh. Can’t even.
So the new year is off to a stellar start for us. We’re warm, fed, clothed, healthy and together. And anything else? That’s just gravy.
No, YOU thought it would be smart to try cutting your hair with your boyfriend’s clippers and now have a section of one inch long bangs. And now for no other reason than it’s one of my favorite songs…
So yesterday afternoon I headed to Target to finish up some birthday shopping for Mad, who will be 11 on Tuesday. As I park, I notice a pile of what looks like rags about half a dozen yards in front of my Volvo. It was freezing cold and the wind was trying to snatch my newly shorn hair off of my head so I didn’t pay it much mind and ran into the store. One of the only times I will ever run is into Target. If you see me running anywhere else, you’d better run, too, because whatever is behind me won’t be good.
Shopping done, I dejectedly leave
my happy place the store and head back to the car. As I’m loading bags, I look over at the pile again and much to my eyeball’s dismay, things begin to come clear. It’s clothes. An entire sets of men’s clothes, and covered in poop. And these are adult clothes, pants, undies and all, not little kids. Someone had had a blow-out of major proportions right there at Target and apparently stripped down in the parking lot to lose the loaded laundry. I did not take a picture…you are welcome.
I pondered this all the way home and when I got there, I told Mark about it, much to his horror. See, Mark doesn’t like poop talk. I bring it up quite a bit, because you know..poop! We all do it, as a mother you’re confronted with it whether you want it or not, and plus I like to share, it makes me happy. I’ve announced my bathroom business or lack thereof to Mark pretty much from day one, you’d think he’d be used to it by now.
I asked, “What do you suppose happened? Where did the guy go?”. ”I imagine to the hospital”, said my Sweetheart. Not being satisfied by that, I wanted to know what the person drove home in. Were they all covered in yuck and nakey-butt? Did they fashion a new pair of grunders out of Target bags? What if they had to stop for traffic on the way home? And someone in bigger car could look down and see them? Was it a protest against shopping at Big Box stores? And then, as could have been predicted, I started laughing at my own visuals. Mark, meanwhile is trying to melt into the couch and probably wishing himself deaf. Then the puns started.
“Wow, what a sh*tty day for that guy.”
“Can you imagine the embarrassment? I’d sh*t myself.”
“Who leaves stuff like that in a parking lot? What a load of crap.”
“I’ve had sh*tty shopping trips before, but come on now…”
“Oh well, sh*t happens.”
I made myself cry laughing and the look of defeated acceptance on Mark’s face made it even worse. See Honey? It’s good to talk about poop! It’s fun! So if you think you’re having a sh*tty day, remember poor Target dude and be glad you didn’t blow off your pants in a 20 degree public parking lot full of holiday shoppers. It could always be worse…and it’s my job to make sure you know it.
You’ll remember that
Ground Zero, I Don’t Believe In Flu Shots, Here, Let Me Cough In Your Personal Safety Zone And Damned Near Land You And Your Sorry Immune System In The Hospital Mark brought home quite the nasty virus a not too long ago. Well, within 4 days I was so sick I took myself to the Dr. only to find out it had morphed into a sinus and ear infection. I. Was. So. Sick. Not just merely, “Man, I sure feel punky..maybe I’ll run to Target, get a coffee and some tissues and then maybe a nice nap later.” This was, “OhdearsweetbabyJesus, I can feel every gland in my body swelling to twice it’s size, I have pus running down the back of my throat and there is dried blood in my ear..this can’t end well.” THAT is how sick I was. I’m on day eleventybillion of antibiotics and yesterday was the first glimpse I’ve had of normalcy since Typhoid Mary over there brought home the plague. Our one blessing here was that neither one of the girls got it.
I didn’t get out much last week other than to go to the Dr. and go pick up multiple boxes of tissues, drugs, more tissues, more drugs, etc. I did some online shopping on Amazon for Christmas and I’d love like hell to tell you some of the amazing deals that I’ve found, but a certain going to be 11 in 4 days girl reads this too often for me to take the chance. Needless to say, SCORE. Did you see that up there? She’s going to be 11. Oh Mah Gah.
Cutest little redheaded baby EVAH. And speaking of babies, I went to Walmart today to get some things for Miss Thang’s birthday and spent an entertaining hour watching the people already FAH-REAKING OUT over the pre-Black Friday sales that went live today. Some chick had two small kids, one toddler and one maybe 14 month old and she was chatting her head off with someone and I’m watching these two tiny kids wander further and further down the very crowded aisle. They actually turned the corner and were out of sight and Chatty McWhatKids? had no clue. So I wandered down and looked around the corner to see them pulling candles off of a shelf and getting bumped around by people who are incorrectly assuming that they have a parent
who wasn’t more into her Starbucks and chatting about her new hair streaks than she was in keeping her babies safe nearby. So I scooched (yes, it’s a word.) down and started talking to them and the little boy wouldn’t say a word to me, very intent on wreaking havoc in the candle section, but the baby girl stared at me with huge eyes and walked a very wobbly few steps right over to me. Y’all? That baby, both babies, could have been in someones arms and out of that store in the blink of an eye and that douche bag mother was clueless. I swear, I hate the ones that have them and don’t give a crap when there are so many truly amazing people that would give their left arm for a child and can’t have one of their own. And do you know who finally figured out her kids were gone? Yeah, she comes meandering down the aisle and I swear to you, she yells, “Tyler, I told you to keep her near the cart!” and grabs them and walks off. Hate to tell you bitch, but Tyler is barely 3 by the looks of him and not the parent. Sigh.
Idiot parenting aside, I saw some pretty good deals, but nothing I can’t find cheaper, especially with Toys R Us price-matching now, too. Amazon is getting in on the action as well, meeting or beating a lot of the pre-BF sale prices. What about you? Are you done shopping yet? Haven’t started?
Oh, you guys. I hate this time of year for
oh my God so many reasons one reason and one reason only. The inevitable has happened. Despite my preparations, admonishments, warnings and fervent prayers, the worst has happened.
Mark has a cold.
Every OCD germ-sensing-red-light-flashing-oh-my-God-must-bleach-all-the-things nerve is shrieking at me to
burn the house down get the masks and gloves out. All of those tissues I picked up and threw away this morning? Germ-laden. The toothpaste I picked up and used? Germ-laden. The hand-towel I dried my hands on when I was done? Germ-laden. Door knobs? Coffee cup? TV remotes? AAAAAAAUUUUUUGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!! *pant-pant-pant…puts down the matches and gas can and sits down with a bag of M&M’s* Get it together, Al…you’re cool.
OK, no need to get
crazier crazy. I’ve been ready for this since August. I’ve stockpiled Halo, Halls, Tissues, Ibuprofin and Tylenol, Robitussin, Mucinex, and DayQuil just for this very reason. We have juice, water, tons of soup,crackers and tea. I have a full gallon of bleach and I’m not afraid to use it. Somebody had to go down first. It’s good that it’s not me or the girls.
Here are our texts that announced his
plague-state illness from a few minutes ago:
Mark: Ugggg..my head is so stuffed up. I fink I hab a code.
Mark: Lol…I was hoping for sympathy.
Me: Oh, foolish boy.
Now it’s not that I won’t be sympathetic. I love that man to the point of not burning down our home after realizing it’s full of germ cooties..now that’s love. I will also publicly post his tweets, because I want the world sending him positive love and healing vibes. (hahahaha… that’s a lie..I did it because it was funny) And, I am the bitchin’est care-giver this side of the Mason-Dixon line. I will glide you a box of tissues across the hardwood floor, roll you a bottle of water down the stairs. Shoot Tylenol down your throat with a Nerf gun from behind the barricade of the couch with flawless accuracy. But when you have a serious, honest to God, stay awake at night worrying thing about germs phobia like I do..you have to be creative..preferably from afar, and in a hazmat suit.
Now before you shake your heads and call in the nice men in white coats with the nets, just hear me out. The whole ghost thing. I will say right up front that I have seen and heard things from a young age that there just isn’t any logical explanation for. By and large, I’ve kept them to myself, because I am very aware that it makes me sound like a nutcase.
I don’t believe that spirits try to talk to me, or follow me around. I don’t believe in malevolent spirits stalking families a la Amityville Horror or The Conjuring. I just know that there are things that I catch out of the corner of my eye, things I hear or sense. Could I have an overactive imagination to match my overactive bladder? Sure, you can find an explanation for just about anything if you try hard enough. I’ve just stopped trying and accepted it. Weird, yes. But weird is good and there you have it.
That brings us to this house. It’s a new house. Very new. 2 years old. No one was murdered in it, buried under the slab, hung from the rafters or electrocuted in the bathtub. And yet..there are things afoot here. I joked about it quite a bit when we moved in, the convergence of flies and wasps all over the house, the need for an exterminator when we moved in. Odd sounds. Lights going on and off. But all of that could be attributed away. Bugs, because Maine in the summer in a house with no lawn or landscaping. Lights, because of cheap contractors maybe not doing the best job. Sounds…well…that one stumped me. Let me fill you in.
About 2 months ago I came home from running errands in the morning. All of the doors were locked, just like I had left them. I came in thru the garage door and dropped my bags. As I did, I heard very clearly and very plainly, the sound of shod footsteps walking across Hallee’s bedroom floor upstairs. I froze and said, “Hello?” I knew very well that I was the only one home. Mark was at work, the kids at school and Scarlet asleep on my bed where I could see her. Did a contractor building the house across the street need the bathroom? How would they get in? I’m a freak for locking doors, I didn’t leave one open. No answer from upstairs, no footsteps.
I got enraged, you guys. No way was I going to accept someone being in my house without my knowing about it. You know that person in the scary movies who always has to go investigate and gets their stupid ass killed first? That’s me. I have 911 on speed dial, put my finger on the button and stomped upstairs. Nothing. Not in the closets, tubs, under the beds, behind furniture. Not in the pantry or under the cupboards or anywhere else. Huh.
Fast forward a month or so. Mid-afternoon, waiting for the girls to get home from school. I’ve been here all day by myself. Doors are locked. I’m sitting on the floor brushing the cat and I hear someone stomping up the front porch stairs. We have a very tall set of stairs leading up to our door, 9 wooden steps. The house vibrated with each stomp, I could feel it under my butt thru the floor. I looked at the clock, alarmed, thinking how in the world did I miss Hallee’s super loud bus coming down our dead end street, turning around (beep-beep-beep) and stopping at our driveway? I tore up the stairs and whipped open the front door to see…nothing. No one. I know what someone coming up our own steps sounds like. I hear it several times a day with both kids coming and going. No cars or trucks on the street, no one walking, just me staring out at nothing. But I handled it with typical Ally aplomb. Fiddle-dee-dee, I’ll worry about it tomorrow. Must have been birds. Or one 200 pound bird.
Fast forward again..to about 2 weeks ago. We were all in bed, sound asleep. I was woken up by what sounded like a TV news show. A woman’s voice. I couldn’t hear the words, but it sounded like she was reading the news. I looked next to me and Mark was wide awake, looking out in the family room, where the voices came from. He went out, assuming the TV had been turned on somehow. Maybe Scarlet jumping up on the remote. Nothing. Cat’s asleep, tv’s, laptops, iPads, Kindles, all off, closed and shut down. He even checked our radio alarm clock. It only lasted for about 10 seconds, but it was loud enough and clear enough to jolt us both upright out of a sound sleep.
Fast forward yet again to this past Saturday night. Mad went to her dad’s for the weekend and after Hal went to bed, Mark & I stayed up until about midnight watching TV. We turned in and
because of his snoring I wanted him to have a good rest, so I went upstairs with my book to Mad’s room and fell asleep. At 2 am, every smoke/carbon monoxide detector in the house (and there are many, hardwired) went off. Add insult to injury, did you know those sons-a-bitches TALK now? ”FIRE FIRE FIRE SHRIEK SHRIEK SHRIEK! FIRE FIRE FIRE SHRIEK SHRIEK SHRIEK” WITH STROBE LIGHTS! FLASHING! IT’S A SEIZURE WAITING TO HAPPEN! At about a billion decibels. All of them. Oh mah gah you guys. I didn’t know whether to sh*t my pants, fall down or go blind.
Luckily I did none of the above. I jumped out of bed and stared at the floor, lamenting the fact that I never got to be a Motley Crue groupie in the 80′s.
Strange what goes thru your mind when you think the world is coming to an end. That lasted until Mark came barreling up the stairs, expecting to see the house ablaze up there, since there was nothing down stairs. Come to find out there was no reason for them to go off. Not a one. After calming down an autistic teen who will now probably have PTSD, she and I went back to bed and poor Mark stayed upstairs on the couch to keep an eye and an ear open just in case. The next day he replaced all of the backup batteries as well as cleaning each unit to make sure there’s no dust.
And finally. Sunday afternoon. We were all completely wiped out after our 2 am wake up call. I went to take a nap late afternoon and when I woke up Mark came in and cuddled with me for a bit. One of his arms was under my head and the other was wrapped around me and tucked under my ribs. While we were lying there talking, I felt my bra strap up on my shoulder pick up, with my shirt and get snapped back. Not hard, but loud enough for me to startle and say, “Ow!” Now, I knew that both of his hands were tucked under me. I knew both of my hands were tucked under his. Ya. We did one of those sit up and stare at each other things. ”I didn’t do that” we both said together.
So there you have it. House built on some kind of ancient burial ground? Just a string of odd things that would happen anywhere to anyone? Maybe. But maybe not. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If I get sucked into the TV, I am going to be pissed.
Since Sunday night, I see signs of Miss Hal slowly but surely acting more like herself. I don’t know what that two weeks plus from hell was about and I hope like crazy that we don’t run into the same situation again for quite awhile. It was a real bear for all of us, most of all her. Today she’s happy, scripting, making her happy tic sounds (woop! meeeeeeeh!) and the cat and I lots of loves and hugs.
She’s excited to hand out treats tomorrow night and has been beating Maddy and I away from the candy for a week now, lest we not have enough for “friends”. I bought a metric ton of the crap and hope like hell that we get at least a few trick-or-treaters up here. Last year Hallee decided on her own that she didn’t want to go trick-or-treating any more and asked to stay home and pass out candy. She made chit-chat with every single kid, their parents, their pets..it was wonderful to see. Well this year we are in a new house that’s off the beaten path and as far as I know, ours are the only kids in the neighborhood. I’m hoping that folks will drive up with kiddies and walk up and down the street. Or I will stand down at the end of the road with a flare and a sign pointing to our house. Whatever it takes to keep a smile on that face.
These past couple of weeks have been two of the worst in recent years for Hallee. There’s something going on with her, with the autism. Just when I think I’ve got that fucker beaten into submission (the autism, not my child), it throws you a curve you didn’t see coming. Hallee has gone along at a pretty steady clip for the last several years. Happy, malleable, challenging at times, but never too far to the left or the right of her norm. I was worried about puberty, having read some horror stories about how hormones really wreak havoc with kids like mine. While it did put some bumps in the road of our otherwise smooth existence, we just kept on plodding along, because overall she was happy.
I noticed about 2 weeks ago that she was acting really anxious, really easily agitated. We had just had her yearly med-check with her specialist a day or two previously and she was pronounced good to go, see you in a year, she was just as happy and healthy as ever. I gave her some space, thinking that time of the month was coming for her, and she’d be back to herself in a few days. Well, she wasn’t. She isn’t. Still. She’s teary, angry, almost aggressive at times. A simple conversation is out of the question. All of our old enemies have raised their ugly heads again, the dragons I thought were slain. The OCD pieces are back with a vengeance. Echolalia. Stimming. Hand-flapping. I can barely speak to her without her jumping all over me for pronouncing something wrong. You’re not allowed to say the “d” in the word “and” or “hand”. You can’t say any “t” sounds too loudly. Really, you can’t breath too loudly right now, either. It’s impossible to get her to answer a yes or no question without a 10 minute round of verbal gymnastics first. She’s 16. I get that. Is this hormones? Typical teen bullshit? Autistic teen bullshit? I’m at a loss.
Health-wise, she’s great. Eats well, sleeps well, no troubles there. Nothing new is going on here at home. Nothing new is going on at school. No big changes to knock her off track. I’m just floundering here, trying to figure out what’s setting her off and how long to let it go on for. She does well at school, I’ve called several times as a matter of fact, thinking that if she’s struggling this hard at home, she has to be having trouble at school, right? Wrong. She’s fine. Doing beautifully, as a matter of fact. It’s just at home. With me. It’s not even with Mark or Mad…just me. I’m frustrated. And angry.
Autism has taken so much from our lives..shattered so many hopes and dreams. It roared into my life like an F5 tornado, picked up everything I cared about and let the twisted and shattered pieces drop back down while I sat amid the rubble, dazed. The fact that it has flipped it’s bitch switch on after all of these years just to screw with my happy kid is making me very, very angry.
I just needed to vent, I suppose. It is what it is, and most days I accept this with as much grace as I can. I have never felt sorry for myself, not even once. I feel sad for her, that she has to struggle so hard just to get through a day and I feel angry, oh boy, do I feel angry. Not at Hal, obviously. I don’t know what I’m angry at. Life, Fate, God. Maybe all of the above, but make no mistake..I am angry. But I keep that under wraps so I have something to blame my road rage on.
I know that whatever this is, it won’t last. Eventually my Hal will be Hal again and this will just be another bump in the road. But in the mean time, the cost is pretty high. I’m wiped out, testy. I feel like I’m not doing enough for Mark, for Mad. I know that’s not the reality, but that’s what it feels like. I feel like I’m pushing people away, so I can focus more on Hal and what she needs. I wish I had a happy, upbeat note to end this on, but I don’t. Autism sucks, yes. But what it also does is breaks your heart and breaks you down.