Aug 122009

This morning, stuck home alone with my children, I had the following epiphanies:

-My husband hates me and our kids. When he called yesterday to say good night to us from his “layover in Atlanta”, he was actually sipping his fifth margarita at a resort in the Keys, where husbands really go when they say they’re on business trips.

-My house is filthy, and too small to exist in. Too small to breathe in with all of these high pitched voices and dolls and teeny shoes. I am not a home-owner, I am a half-home owner. I accidentally purchased half a home, which is perfect since it’s worth half of what I paid for it. Where is the other half of my house?

-My son will be in therapy soon for co-dependence. He keeps nervously telling me I am “the best mommy in the world,” which is his effort to keep us all on this side of social services when he rightly senses I’m teetering on the edge.

-Tish will join him in therapy to deal with her neglect issues. This morning when she fell down and cried for the fourth time in an hour, I left her there crying, without even turning my head. I’m sorry, but somebody’s got to start sucking it up around here.

-My parents definitely like my sister more. Which is understandable, but still. Rude.

-My hair is horrible. And I am fat, and short, and ugly, like a gnome. And on the day I die the undertaker will have to use concealer on my wrinkly 80 year old chin because I still will not have grown out of my acne.

-I have far too many children. Every time one of them says “Mom,” I bristle like it’s an act of aggression. One or two will have to go. In an effort to avoid playing favorites, I will get rid of the next two who ask for water.I am done getting water. Forever.

UGH. And one more gloomy, lifeless, miserable UGH for good measure. actually, I’m too blah for capital letters today. so… ugh, instead.

At one point this morning, as I stared at the wall and wondered how I hadn’t noticed before that my life was spiraling into this black hole of despair and drudgery, I was brought back to my surroundings by a sharp cramp in my side.Then another, and then finally the big epiphany…OH. OOOOOOOOOOOOOH.

I got my period for the first time when I was 12, which means that it caught me completely off guard for the 250th time this morning. Why don’t I ever see it coming? Why aren’t I ever prepared for the viciousness of it?

After breakfast when the kids and I were playing Chutes and Ladders …the game that makes me grateful we don’t have guns in the house, for fear that I might use one on myself if I land on that long freaking slide one more time…I heard an interesting news report on the radio.

Apparently, a woman walked into the Louvre today and threw a mug of coffee at the Mona Lisa. She was immediately arrested and the commentator described it as an “unforgivable” act by a woman who was clearly “not well.” But I immediately understood this woman, and I smiled for the first time all day. In fact, I had half a mind to walk out my half a house and put some bail money in the mailbox.

Maybe the poor woman just woke up on the wrong side of the month this morning. Maybe she walked into the Louvre and saw that smug Mona Lisa hanging there with that composed, unruffled, amused smirk that she wears everyday regardless of the time of the month, and the woman had her own epiphany: Mona Lisa’s going down.

I, for one, stand in solidarity with this woman. As a matter of fact, when the kids go down for their naps, I will go outside and spit my Diet Coke in Mona Lisa’s general direction. Take THAT, Mona Lisa.


Aug 102009

Evil is like the clown in the “jack in the box.” We know it’s in there, we’ve seen it materialize again and again, we’re even waiting for it…but our hearts still stop every time the music ends and its head pops up. The morning after the Virginia Tech shootings , our hearts hadn’t yet started to beat again.

On the morning of April 17, 2007, the day after the massacre, I was at the gym doing crunches next to two men who were discussing the tragedy. The men stood shoulder to shoulder, eyes on the TV coverage, legs spread wide and muscular arms folded across their chests, like football coaches on the sidelines. One was grey, maybe in his mid-sixties. The other was young and tall, and I recognized him as a gym manager. I heard the older man say:

“Do you believe they all just stood there and let themselves get shot? “

“Yeah, man. It’s nuts.”

“None of them rushed the guy. None of them even tried to get the gun. They just hid under tables. Cowards.”

I don’t remember the thought process that propelled me, but suddenly I was standing face to face with the gray haired man.

“Excuse me, sir. Am I hearing you right? Are you criticizing the victims of the shootings?

He stared in surprise for a moment. Then he sneered and said, “Are you talking to me? Who the hell do you think you are?”

I looked past him through the gym windows and saw Tech flags flying from several cars in the parking lot. “Do you realize that this gym is probably full of people who know the victims?”

“Nobody’s talking to you, little girl …go away.”

“No, thank you. I can’t believe that you are standing here crucifying kids who were ambushed by a man with a gun. But I assume you have been attacked often, which is why you’re able to criticize.”

“I’ve served in the military longer than you’ve been alive little girl. “I’ve been shot at more times than you can imagine.”

“Well, since you actually signed up to be shot at, were waiting to be shot at, and were HEAVILY ARMED in case you were shot at…I’m not sure that your experiences were the same as being ambushed in English class.”

Suddenly the man took an aggressive step towards me and thrust his large palm to within six inches of my face.

“I said get out of my face little girl.”

“Take one step closer and I am walking to that phone to call the police.”

Laughter from the old man. Blank stare from the beefy, vapid gym manager.

“Well…God Bless you sir,” I said, without sincerity, and then I turned away and started walking as steadily as possible to the locker room- where I hoped to start breathing again. But when I had made it to within a few steps from the locker room, a very angry voice boomed across the gym:


Shaking with shock, adrenaline, and self righteous fury, I turned and walked back towards the old man, stopping when we were two feet apart.

“You know, sir, my God said “blessed are the meek and the peacemakers,” and “Judge not lest you be judged.”

I imagined Jesus beaming down at me from heaven and holding a big “THAT’S MY GIRL” sign.

But unfortunately, I continued: “You are right, you bitter, pathetic, old man, I don’t know the first thing about your God.”


And then I imagined Jesus hiding his sign and flopping down into his throne with his head in his hands.

As I walked away once more, the manager finally spoke up to say to noone, “What the hell is her problem?”

When I got back to the locker room, I climbed into the shower and started to shake and cry uncontrollably. I laid my cheek on the cold tiles and whispered “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, God. I’m sorry I didn’t turn the other cheek. I’m sorry I made things worse. I’m sorry I yelled at an old man. I’m sorry I made such an ugly day even uglier. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

And then I sensed an invitation to remember the last time I had cried.

Earlier that morning, while it was still dark, I crawled out of bed and turned on the TV to see if there was any new information about the shootings. But since all the networks were running the same pictures and interviews over and over, I felt voyeuristic and hopeless, so I turned it off. I picked up a basket full of dirty clothes and as I carried it down the stairs to the basement I felt a sudden, overwhelming wave of sadness and exhaustion. I sat down on the bottom stair with the basket in my lap and started crying. I just cried, I don’t know, because of the moms and dads and sisters and brothers who were waking up and just because of all of it. And I prayed “Please, God, give me something to do today. I don’t know what, something tiny, just anything. Anything to make me feel less helpless.”

And then I put the laundry in the washer, and went back upstairs to pack my gym bag.