Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Land of Misfit Toys

I finally figured something out this weekend. I'm excited by this.

I have always felt different. I'm not the other moms who pick up their kids at school. Yes, I stopped wearing skull and crossbones on my shirts. Yes, I make sure I look normal. But I know inside I'm not like the other moms. I don't wear flowered pants. Or capris with cute little shoes. Or have perfectly coiffed hair. I listen to different music, tend to wear black or purple and use words I probably shouldn't in front of other people.

I'm not like a lot of my co-workers either but I won't elaborate on why that is.

I couldn't do the whole June Cleaver wife thing. Yeah, I'm not sad about that.

I feel like a misfit sometimes. I realized this weekend that this feeling probably started around the time I discovered the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I wanted to be Columbia or Magenta. I wanted to have the balls to dress like that. I wanted to feel like that. I was that - at the age of 14.

Since entering the world of adulthood, I haven't looked back on that time much, though I know it's still in me. Every once in a while someone will appear in my life who I think either appreciates this part of me or is like me in some unspoken way. I found a whole bunch of folks who get this - and make me seem very normal. Who knew these people were out there??

I went to the Baltimore version of Comicon. It's Balticon. When I was first invited, I said yes mostly out of curiosity and because I wanted to hang out with my friend and see his world. I wasn't sure I'd have much fun but was willing to try something new. Within an hour of being there, I knew all would be fine. I didn't think I'd have so much fun!

I learned about a whole new genre of music, met people who feel passionately about things, who are creative in ways I'd never thought of (who knew you could make art from dryer lint??), listened to lectures about autism, religion and more, went to a liar's panel and a fashion show - tons of new experiences! I went to parties and was SOCIABLE!! Yes, I talked to people without prompting or hand-holding. I even met another interpreter - someone I would never have met if not for a discussion about the Klingon language (which, no, I don't know). How cool is all of that??

I certainly didn't fit in perfectly in that world. One lecture made that very clear. But it was cool to take a chance on doing something new and find that I'm not the only different toy in the land. I'm definitely one of many.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day Oreo

I've often felt like the white fluffy stuff in the middle of an Oreo. One of the chocolate wafers is my kids and the other is my mom. And there I am, stuck in the middle. When you try to twist the wafers apart, I get a little stuck to both sides. That pretty much sums it all up for me.

It's weird - not bad, just weird - to be a mom and a daughter at the same time. I love my mother and have always been close with her. But as she ages, my role in her life changes. She's still my mom but now I have a motherly role with her, too. It's weird. But one thing is certain - when she's mad at me, she still wants to discipline me.

I love having daughters. I love having twins. I love being a mom but boy, oh boy, it's a lot of responsibility. That people think I'm supposed to know what I'm doing baffles me. There is no manual for this.

Sometimes I have to make a choice between being a mom and being a daughter. My girls were each in a class play (both plays at the same time!) when I needed to take my mother to an important doctor's appointment. I sent their other grandmother and dad in my place but, still, it wasn't the same they informed me. Sometimes my choices suck.

I like having responsibility for my kids. I think I handle it well. My role in their life is clear. I am their mother - period. No doubts there. But when I have to take responsibility for my mom, it's a little different. I become motherly for her. I fill out her forms, listen when she can't hear, translate when she can't comprehend (mostly medical stuff). She's my mom and I don't dare do things like swear (okay, just not the f word), be disrespectful, etc. She can't quite discipline me but I know when she wants to.

The downside to this is what my kids see. They see me take care of my mom (their Nana). They see me very involved in the care of their other grandmother (Grandma - my former mother in law with whom I still have a good relationship). They wonder who takes care of me. And they feel the need to do it themselves. I tell them no, that's not their job. Not yet. When I'm 80, cranky and in need of help, then they can take care of me. I watched my mom take care of my cranky grandmother (who I loved a lot). My kids watch me take care of their grandmother. In another 40 years, it will be their turn. I wonder what they'll do to me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lesson Learned

I was out with a new friend last night. He’s a nerd (his word, not mine). He’s a tech guy, very savvy. I am not. The point was made clearly when he referenced something from this blog. This blog with its three readers. This blog that is really much more of a diary than anything else. This blog….that I suck at writing.

I can’t remember exactly how it came up but he said something about me having been diagnosed with cancer and a brain tumor. My mind immediately starts racing around, figuring out how he could know that. I didn’t talk about it. I don’t talk about it often but people who know me and people who were in my life when I couldn’t speak properly, couldn’t hold my own children and couldn’t walk without tripping certainly knew. We have one connection (a neighbor of mine is a co-worker of his) but that guy wouldn’t talk about that – there’s much more recent and juicy gossip to discuss. How did he know?

I’m fairly certain that the look of panic flashed across my face. I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense but I’m an intensely private person. I don’t like people knowing things about me until I want them to know. So what does an intensely private person do? She writes a blog, of course. It’s my own dumb fault. And it’s easily found if you google me. Who knew? Apparently the rest of the modern world, that’s who.

I was rendered speechless briefly – not an easy feat. I stumbled and stammered and looked like a moron. Then I figured okay, he knows this about me and still showed up to meet me. Not bad. He said something nice about it – like I’m glad you’re okay. Good recovery. And then we moved on.

Lesson learned. If I write it, it’s not private. If it’s written about me, it’s not private. I’m not nearly as smart as I thought I was. I’m working on that last one.

Oh, in case you’re wondering. Yeah, last night was fun, stumbling, stammering and all J.

May Day

May Day holds many memories for me. When I was young, about 5 years old, we moved from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania. I remember celebrating May Day with my school, holding ribbons and dancing around the May Pole. My soon-to-be-ex called me a commie when he heard we did that. It was normal for me. I loved it. And I’m sad my kids don’t get to experience that.

May Day doesn’t hold great memories for me anymore. A few years ago it was the day my father in law died. My FIL was an interesting man. He was the director of the National Institutes of Mental Health when I came into the family. He retired shortly thereafter when he realized the Alzheimer’s he had feared getting was becoming real. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a brilliant man who watched his sister and father die of the same disease and realize that’s your fate, too. It was a terrible disease. He died on May 1. At the time, I remember thinking that while I was sad that my children would never know him the way he would want to be known, this was best for him. He must have hated being stuck in a body that he couldn’t control. He couldn’t speak, couldn’t be his normal witty self. His death was okay.

Shawna. I can’t even type her name without tears coming to my eyes. I’m listening to Lady Gaga as I type this (it’s on my Happy Music playlist I made for my kids). She loved Gaga. And Madonna. And animals – lots of things, really. Except herself. It was a year ago she decided she no longer wanted to be here so she took matters into her own hands and that was that. No goodbye. No explanation, though I don’t think it was really needed. Just an exit. This death was not okay for me. It still isn’t.

I think of her when I kiss or hug someone. The last time I saw her was at a party – a work function in a restaurant. We had a conversation about what it was like for her to be in her mid 30s and single. Have hope, I told her. I was married at 31. I knew at that party that the end of my marriage was near but I didn’t tell her that. I hadn’t told anyone yet. What I really remember about that night was holding her at the end of the night. Mostly I was afraid for her to drive because she’d already had a few too many margaritas. But when she hugged me, she mmmmmmmmmmed. So I did, too. She could feel the mmmmmmmmmmmm vibration against my chest. She liked that feeling, she told me. Me, too. I would give anything to feel that again.

I still think about that when I hug someone. Mmmmmmmmmmmm……good.

I miss them. May day will never be the same.

My father in law in better days.

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