Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Broken Hip(ness)

"... well maybe I'm not "the norm". I'm not "camera friendly", I don't "wear clothes that fit me", I'm not a "heartbreaker", ... I don't know "how that works", I don't "fall in line", I'm not "hygienic"...I lack "style", I don't have "self-esteem", I have no "charisma", I don't "own a toothbrush", I don't "let my scabs heal", I can't "reach all the parts of my body", when I sleep I "sweat profusely". But I guess the powers that be will keep signing my pay check until Jack and Jane K. Viewer start to go for the remote so they can get back to commentators who don't "frighten children", who don't "eat their own dandruff", who don't "pop their whiteheads with a compass they used in high school"..." - Chris Farley as Weekend Update Commentator Bennett Brauer on Saturday Night Live, circa 1991  

My Readers Dear who are laughing hysterically right now don't need to click on the link below to know what this reference is about.  For my Readers Dear who are scratching their heads, please click on the link below.  I guarantee it will be the funniest 3 minutes of your day.  Whether you are laughing or shaking your head, it matters not to me, I love you anyway.

Right now I predict you are thinking one or both of the following:
1.  "Whew, I'm glad she came out of her January funk. She was really bumming me out."
B.  "That's a pretty obscure reference. Why is she pulling this one out of her near-encyclopedic,  yet, pretty much useless, collection of entertainment trivia?"

This particular Farley character came to my mind as I contemplated my current state of "unhipness".  I have always prided myself on this useless compendium of knowledge I carry around in my oversize, almost-Mensa-material brain.  I have been heard to immodestly say, "I speak in movie quotes."  I'm fluent in Seinfeld, Bing, Lennon AND McCartney. At weddings, I like to dance like Elaine Bennis.  My friend Karen has a "Costanza Wallet".  My husband and I, while watching any show or movie in which appears an actor who is since dead, will turn to each other and say, "He's dead, Jim.".  When I am having a bad day, I tell myself to "just keep swimming.".  One of my (female) roommates in college had "man hands".  I giggle to myself when I chop broccoli -- every.  time.  I can say all the lines in "Grease" before the actors do.  I crack up when the ice cream man comes to the park.   And if you have never seen "Office Space", or worse, have seen it but, (horrors!) don't get it.  Well, you're off my list.  

But this is where my hipness ends, you see.  Although I fancy myself still hip and relevant, in reality, my hipness wore off somewhere between 2003 and the present.  My husband and I, in our mid-lives, often tease each other about falling down and breaking a hip.  Sadly, I think my "hip" has been broken for some time...

I became a mother in 2003.  In the 9 years since then, I have lost touch with my inner hipster.  Several factors contribute here, not the least of which is the fact that I'm exhausted ALL.  THE.  TIME.  I have spent the last 9 years carrying, birthing, nursing, changing, rocking, singing to, playing Candyland with and driving my offspring to preschool, church, and playdates.  I have filled my days and years with the repetitive tasks of so many mothers:  sippy cups, chicken nuggets, boogers, barf and the PTO.  (Side note:  Second place title for this blog -- "I Don't Think I had Cheerios in my Hair When I Laid Down Last Night."  I know, too wordy.)   So, yes, I'm exhausted and just want to go to bed.    In addition, I'm NEVER allowed to watch my T.V..  My husband or children are always in charge in that department.  Thank heavens for DVR technology.  Yes, I know DVR technology is not new to those of you who think you are soooo hip, but I have only just mastered it in the last 3 months.  Now my oldest will soon be 9, my "baby" is 7.  They both attend school and I am just now awakening from my cultural-reference-slumber.  

The scene plays something like this:  I wake up, much like Dorothy as she comes out of her poppy slumber.  I wander through this strange new land, where I have 9 years worth of t.v., music and movies to catch up on.  Some of my discoveries are grim, some delightful....

Imagine my surprise to find that Doogie Howser is not 14 anymore? working?? gay??? a father of twins????  

Apparently you can make a show about anything, anybody, anywhere.  There's a show about Hillbilly Handfishing? Ghosthunters? Ice Truckers? Ice T? 1000 Ways to Die?

I have missed not just an episode, not just a season, but the ENTIRE run of the following shows: "24", "Lost", "Grey's Anatomy", and "Desperate Housewives".  I have yet to watch an episode of "Glee", "Big Bang Theory", "American Idol", "How I Met Your Mother", "30 Rock" and "Downton Abbey".  I have seen "Two and a Half Men" -- I'll take the zero on that, thanks.

And, p.s., Did Howie Mandel have chemo?  And who, who, who gave Donald Trump his own show???  

The yearly spectacle of The Oscars has descended upon us.  I have seen exactly zero of the nominees for Best Picture.  I've seen only 2 movies in the theater this year, both comedies.  If I show up at your house with a tribal tattoo surrounding my left eye and carrying a "bear sandwich", you'll know which movies I'm referring to.  

I'm still learning how to download music.  Stop laughing!  It's not funny! I play around with Spotify and Pandora a little, I like my M5, a little Vampire Weekend, and some Dia Framps.  That's about as hip as I get with my music.  Ultimately, my heart belongs to Michael Buble and the New Wave on which I cut my teeth in college.   

Chris Farley died in 1997, along with him, Bennett Brauer.  If Bennett Brauer were to come back and join us, I imagine he would be as mystified as I am at some of the things that pass for entertainment today.   His SNL commentary might  sound something like this:

"I'm not "Bachelor material",   "Lady" Gaga "terrifies me" , I don't have "moves like Jagger" ,  I can't "keep up with the Kardashians",  "Skinny Jeans" don't work for me, neither do "Pajama Jeans",  I don't have a"disco stick",  I don't "get Snookie", "Holy Shniekies, there's a black man in the White House!?", I'm too fat to "Twitter",  I don't have a "Sexy Back",   I like "the Food Network",  I'm not cut out for "American Idol",  I'm not"Pinteresting", Apparently, the housewives I know aren't "real",  I don't worship at the altar of "Hilton and Lohan",  I'm incapable of "manscaping",  I'm a "hoarder".  I sweat too much to pass one of "Maury's"  lie detector tests.  But I guess as long as John Q. Public is willing to tune in to see me as an alternative to Glenn Beck and Nancy Grace, I must be doing something right."

Oh Chris, how we miss you.  No one ever wore David Spade's sport jacket better, not even David himself.  

I'm off to watch my DVR'ed episodes of "Grimm", "Once Upon a Time", "Smash" and "The Voice".  Maybe by the end of the week I'll be hip enough to strike up a conversation at the water cooler with you.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I hide these tears from my husband and kids. It upsets the kids, unsettles them, to see me cry.  My husband, who loves me, but who never properly dealt with his own grief, is not able to respond to the quivering blob of bottomless need that replaces his normally stoic and capable wife each year at this time.  This upsets me--but then most everything upsets me right now.  I am short with my darling dears.  Then berate myself for not holding them close and treasuring them instead.  They are, after all, the babes God allowed me leave the hospital with.  

But, now, it's a rainy Monday morning, my darling dears are at school, my husband, at work and I am on the couch, still fighting a stomach thing that has been dogging me for two weeks.  I call the doctor to explain the problem and as I am made to list and thus face, the pain, inconvenience and other indignities I've suffered for the last 10 days, it is too much, something snaps and the tears will not be stopped.  

Who are these tears for?

They are for my raven-haired first born.  Why she was allowed to leave here without knowing how very much she was loved and wanted, I can't comprehend.  When I think of the things she missed, that we missed as a family, I can only shake my head.  I'm sorry her last day on earth was spent on the surgeon's table instead of in my arms.  I'm sorry I let them cut her satin skin and crank open her impossibly tiny chest.  I guess we made the only decisions we could at the time, but, now, knowing the outcome, I wish I had said "no" and spent her last days holding her warm little body, letting her feel my love for her. Covering her angel skin with mommy-kisses and tickling her tiny feet.  I would have rocked her and sang her all the lullabies I'd been storing away like so many Christmas ornaments wrapped in tissue paper.  I didn't have the chance to do any of these things until it was all over. I hope she doesn't hold it against me.

And, they are for me, the girl I used to be.  The girl I was 12 years ago who never believed, no matter what the doctors said, that my baby would not come home with me. I was the one reassuring everyone around me.  I was keeping every one's hope afloat.  The possibility of my baby dying never once computed with me until it was all over.  It took us a year and half of trying, in earnest, to conceive her.  "God wouldn't make us wait that long, give her to us, then take her back after 3 days.  Where is the sense in that?  Of course we will take her home, of course we will.  She will come through this day-long surgery just fine and we will take her home.  This is just another test--He just wants to see how much we want her."  That girl? The one who was so sure she understood the order of the universe? She doesn't exist anymore.  And I miss her.  I cry for her broken heart, as I would cry for anyone else's.  She left a piece of her heart back there in that bitter and grey January.  I see it now, that lost piece of her heart, as one sees the broken bits of muffler in the rear-view mirror as the car it was once an important part of,  inexplicably, continues to chug on down the interstate.    

I keep a list in my head of all sorts of things I lost in that moment.   Topping the list: consciousness.  I'm pretty sure, as the surgeon came into the waiting room and said, "I'm sorry folks....", that I passed out, perhaps for only a few seconds as I slid, sweating and shaking, out of my chair and onto the floor --I was 3 days post-partum, wounded and bleeding, and I remember thinking, "Why does this shit always happen to me?"  

I lost all faith in God. Fear not, Readers Dear, the Big Guy and I are tight these days.  But in that moment: I was done.  I hated Him and I was convinced He hated me.  The spiritual rug had been pulled out from beneath my feet, and it took many tears and alot of time before I was able to put my world view right again.  

I lost a future.  To best explain what I mean,  I can only say that I spent much of my mental energy reconciling what existed with what I thought my existence would be.  These moments of reconciliation would come upon me in many places.  In the grocery store, I would look down at the empty seat in the shopping cart and think, "there should be a baby there."  At Christmas I delighted in my little 1 1/2 year old niece, who was such a comfort to me, then sneak out of the room to dab at my eyes, because my baby should have been there in a pretty Christmas dress to match her cousin's.  At support group I broke down, sobbing, saying, "I shouldn't be here, I shouldn't be here."  The other ladies there, also grieving, rushed to reassure me that I did indeed belong there.  My friend Donna, who gained her own understanding of the situation the hard way, gently explained my tears to the others saying, "She means she shouldn't be HERE because she should be home taking care of her baby."  Rocking and clutching my sides, I could only nod and sniffle.  "None of us should be here.", said another girl, and she, of course, was right. 

I didn't know it then, but in that moment was the beginning of the end of a friendship.  I had a friend at the time, who, having chosen to be child-free, simply was not able to relate to my grief.  She made me, if you can believe it's possible, even more miserable than I already was. Let me tell you, there are few things more pitiful in this world than a young mother with aching, empty arms.  She couldn't understand why I couldn't shoulder her unending problems and listen to her go on and on.  AND, BE FUNNY!  She actually asked me, "Where did my friend Stacey go?"  If we had been in the same room I probably would have, well, I don't know what I would have done.  As it was, I spat out across the phone lines, "HER.   BABY.   DIED!"  The words tasted like bile and I couldn't believe I had to actually vomit them out for her.  Eventually, I learned, as I hope anyone who survives a life trauma learns, that I had to show her my back as I turned to face those who did "get me."  

I am happy to report, when I look back on that time, I believe I gained, if not more, than, at least as much as, I lost.  The PA Posse as an example, (read "Wine for My Horses, Chocolate for My Girls" to learn more about the Posse)  and other new relationships. New character traits: strength, patience, peace, etc..  And, a close, personal relationship with my new boyfriends:  Ben and Jerry.   I've never been fond of the whole "when God closes a window He opens a door, yadda, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah".  The universal, mathematical  truth of it is that once a vacuum is formed, it will soon be filled.  

We all lose our innocence. If we are lucky, we gain wisdom in it's stead.