Sunday, November 28, 2010

Poop, Grammar, and Thanks

Teddy asks, "My pet reindeer, Blitzen, keeps going to the bathroom in my house (ON MY FAVORITE CARPET!), no matter how many times I tell him to do it in the backyard! HOW DO I STOP THIS MADDNESS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"

If the alternating series of question marks and exclamation points at the end of your question are any indication of the state of madness in which you find yourself, I am positively concerned. I can tell you are in immediate need of assistance. Luckily, I have the answer.

Your reindeer is pissed at you and his behavior needs to be corrected, lest he begins pooping in your bed, peeing in your house slippers, and making sweet, sweet love to your lady behind your back. He has clearly initiated reindeer revenge, and things will only get worse. Believe you me.

What's needed here is a little reverse psychology. Reindeer are stupid and will fall for this every time. They will also look at the ceiling if you tell them the word "gullible" is written up there. "Oh, man!" they'll exclaim upon finding a plain old ceiling overhead. But, tell them again a few minutes later, and they'll do it again. Dumb, I say.

Let's talk about this "favorite" rug of yours for a second. What's so great about it? I mean, really. What? Did someone special give it to you? You'll break up. Or they'll die. What? It matches the things in your room perfectly? Think again. Decorating isn't your strength, now, is it? It's okay. But let's be honest here before you get all bent out of shape about the rug. One day you won't want that rug anymore. It will look dated. You'll bring a girl over to your place for the first time, and you'll notice her eyes going straight to that rug upon entering. Her eyebrows will go up in surprise and she'll fake a "Oh, wow. Look. At. That. Rug. It's....interesting." You'll kick yourself for not giving it to Goodwill. This will be your only date with this girl.

Not only that, but one day you yourself will die, and guess what's not going with you? That rug. Even if you get buried with it, good luck getting it out in one piece if you come back from the dead. All the dirt you'll have to claw through. Who needs it? So, forget about the rug. This isn't about the rug. It's about that asshole reindeer you're living with.

Back to the reverse psychology. Institute a new house rule that all potty-making must be done on the rug. Sure, he'll call your bluff at first, but do not hesitate, when your bowels start a-grumblin', to scurry yourself over to that rug and let her go. Watch your reindeer's face with great satisfaction as you do so. "Wait! Wait!" he'll scream. "Oh my God! Why are you doing that? You'll mess up the rug! What- are you crazy?" Yes. Yes, you are. And you must be one step ahead of the reindeer in this department. Reindeer poops on the rug? You poop on the rug. Reindeer bites the mailman? You bite the mailman harder. Reindeer tosses a spoon down the garbage disposal? You toss your laptop. You must keep him in a constant state of alarm.

I guarantee if you follow this plan, your reindeer's behavior will change. Of course, you run the risk the following future scenario: A reindeer asks for advice on my blog. It seems he lives with a human who constantly poops on his favorite rug, bites the mailman, and throws electronics into the garbage disposal. He's in desperate need of some assistance.  He wants to know, "HOW DO I STOP THIS MADDNESS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"

Drew poses the question, "how do i tell my new english teacher that saying "you're doing it wrong." is incorrect grammatically? D:"
...says the guy who seems to have an aversion to capital letters.  Just pointing that out.

You're actually a bit in the wrong (noun) to blame your teacher for using the word wrong (adverb),  no matter how wrong (adjective) that may seem. "Wrong" can be used as a noun, adjective, or adverb. I'm guessing you would prefer to be told that you're doing something "incorrectly." In that case, keep up the resentment and try a couple of the following suggestions.
(1) Next time she tells you that you're doing it wrong, respond by saying "YOU'RE doing it wrong." Then sit back, cross your arms, and smile. Perhaps stick out your pointer finger just a tiny bit and wave it back and forth, like you're making tiny z's in the air.  
(2) Wear a shirt to class that reads, "I'm doing it wrong. My English teacher is doing it incorrectly."
(3) Next time your teacher says, "You're doing it wrong" you say, "You're doing it again." When she says, "What?" then you say, "Exactly." 
(4) Tell her, "Yeah? Well, I wrote the same thing on facebook last night, and I didn't get a squiggly line under it. So, who's wrong now? Huh? Who? Yeah, I thought so."   
(5) Ignore her comment, but compliment her shoes. This will make her confused and slightly uncomfortable. While she's trying to figure out what to say next, snatch your paper, roll it up, and lightly tap her on the head. "Voila!" you can yell. Pivot on your heel, turn back to give her a wink and a snap, and then be off. 
Amy asks, "Is it ok to send a " thank you" note via email, text message, or facebook??"

If you give my sister a present and watch her open it, it's very likely that you'll have a thank you card in your mailbox by the time you get home. During the holidays, she lines up various styles of notecards and has them ready to go. Open a gift. Write a note. Open a gift. Write a note.

I'm lucky to remember that the sweater I'm wearing is something you actually gave to me as a gift once. "Nice sweater," you might say. "Oh, this thing? I only wear it when I don't have anything else clean. I can't remember where I got it." Then I wonder why (a) I don't get the warmest reception next time we see each other and (b) I never again receive a gift from you. 

With that said, I think a thank you email, text message, or facebook post is a delightful idea. "thx 4 the gft crd 2 tivoli. u rock!" I guess if the gift is of a personal nature, you wouldn't really want to be putting it out there on facebook. But then again, who would give you gifts like this, but your husband. And then a simple, "Hey, thanks for the special lady-wear" while passing the toothpaste in the bathroom should suffice. 

Here's the deal: don't you say "thank you" when you receive the gift? "Oh, for me? Thank you!" Then you open it, followed by, "Oh my goodness! I love this [insert gift]! Thank you so much!" (That's twice now that the person has been thanked.) When the gift-giver and you part, you probably thank them again. "It was nice seeing you! Thanks again for the [insert gift]!" (That's three times.) Do you think by the time the gift giver gets home he/she will be building up a resentment about not getting thanked? A resentment that only a thank you note could fix? As in, "Hey, wait a minute. Did she thank me for that [insert gift]? I don't remember her thanking me. What a bitch. She better write me a thank you note, is all I'm saying." I mean, you thanked the person once. Twice. Thrice. What do they want you to do, take an ad out in the paper?

It would be like if you called someone on the phone and began with "hello." Then a few minutes later, you said, "Hey, did I say 'hello' to you? Because I want to make sure you heard me. 'Hello.'" Then a few more times during the conversation, you said "hello." Finally, a few days later, you write them a note saying "When I spoke to you the other day, I really wanted to greet you. Hello, from the bottom of my heart." It's too much. One hello is enough. As is one thank you. A verbal one. That's why God have us ears. So we could hear people thank us. He didn't give us eyes to help us read thank you notes. He gave them to us so we wouldn't bump into things.

Anyway, if you must follow up a thank you with a thank you, I applaud your venture into using modern technology.

p.s. A "thank you" below or on my facebook page is quite enough.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

You Ask, Maret Answers

Carly asks, "I wonder if it would be better to spend Thanksgiving day working on a huge history project, or pushing it off to Black Friday. But, because of shopping and such, should I push it off to Saturday? But then, why not just wait until Sunday? Of's not REALLY due until Thursday, so I could take a break over the weekend and come back full speed on...Tuesday. Advice?"

Oh, Carly, Carly, Carly. There are certain things in life one need not ever do. One is work on Thanksgiving. Unless you're working at undoing your belt buckle or working a big belch from your chest cavity. You may also choose to work on getting the last of the whipped cream out of the can, risking being sprayed in the face by those little bits and blasts of air. But then you can work on not getting upset when everyone in the family laughs at you. 


You can work on trying not to call to attention the fact that grandma has indeed fallen asleep at the dinner table again. Or work at waking her up by placing an odiferous spoonful of garlicky mashed potatoes by her nose. You can work at not focusing on the fact that you just found out your uncle's unsightly new girlfriend has knee trouble from "deep knee bends on the job." She was a dancer, see. It's only now that you notice her breasts sag down to her belly button and her hefty weight makes her shift uncomfortably in her chair. Your appetite is gone.


You can work at counting Aunt Trudy's drinks and work at placing bets on when she tries to gather the children up and take them on a teary tour of family photos in the long hallway to the bathroom. "Thish wuuuush your grrreat, grrrreat un. cle Ed. warrrd. Blesh his hearrrt. He died in the fluuuuu epi. epi. epidemmmic of 1918."  


You can work at avoiding Uncle Joey, who likes to explain that he has recently built an underground bunker to prepare for the uprising of Mexican farm workers who will invariably come find him in southern Illinois and slaughter his entire family. Ole! 


You can work on walking in front of the television during high-anxiety, intense football moments. And then work on running out of the room quickly as the screaming of insults begin. 


You can work on taking care of the blackheads on your nose that you didn't realize you had until you went into your parents' bathroom. The one with the interrogation-quality lighting made more disturbing by the amplifying mirror attached to a metal arm on their bathroom wall. You could work at trying not to swing the mirror over and inspect your face, but you won't be able to resist. Work on the blackheads, instead. You'll find it to be momentarily satisfying. When you come out of the bathroom with your nose reddened, you can work at not caring if your family thinks you've suddenly developed a cocaine habit. 


The point I hope I'm making clearly is that there are acceptable things to work on during Thanksgiving. But none of them are actually work. Which brings me to your history project. 

Let me tell you a secret. No teacher wants to really grade 20 or 40 or 80 history projects, depending on how many students he or she has. Not turning one in would be a temporary disappointment, sure. But in the long run, everyone wins. You don't have to do one, and your teacher doesn't have to grade it. "Look," you can explain, "you and I both know I'd get an A. How about we just skip all of the work part, you and I?" Sounds reasonable to me. Perhaps you slip your teacher a Starbucks gift card right into the palm of his/her hand while you're having this conversation. It can't hurt. It's worked before, let me tell you.


And consider this: what so-called "history" is so important that you need to do a project about it? Huh? That's why God invented the internet and Google search. If your teacher wants to know so much about WWI or the Civil Rights Movement, direct him/her to Wikipedia, for chrissake. You don't need to put that shit on a tri-fold poster. It's already on the web. "Ever heard of the web?" you can say, in a mocking tone. Your teacher will feel dumb and you will feel smart, and herein lies your "A." 


Go forth on this day that God made for us to slaughter and eat fowl and then indulge in a level of greedy shopping that only Americans can truly appreciate. Go! Go, I say. Embrace all that is in front of you, and leave this "history project" to those without the internet. Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Three-Minute Fiction

 The assignment? From NPR's "Three-Minute Fiction": write a short piece beginning with the sentence "Some people swore that the house was haunted" and ending with "Nothing was ever the same again after that." Here's what popped out of my monkey-mind.


Some people swore that the house was haunted.  That tearing it down would’ve been the right thing to do. Ladies gossiped about it at the corner hair salon on Sundays: “I hear she’s putting it on the market. Can you believe that? After what happened in there? Good luck selling that house, is what I say.”  Scissors snipped and locks of various colors, none of them natural, fell to the floor. Heads shook disapprovingly and tisk sounds were clicked from heavily made-up lips.

“Do you even think they were able to clean up all of the…you know. How does one go about getting all of that…you know…out of the carpet and such?”

Arched brows furrowed as the ladies combed their mental files straight from the pages of the “Hints from Heloise” column in the paper.

“Vinegar? Does vinegar take that out?”

“No, no, no. That’s for ink. What you want is hydrogen peroxide.”

“Yes, that’s right. Hydrogen peroxide.”

A row of coiffed heads nodded in agreement as a blow dryer whirred into action.

“Well. That would be a lot of hydrogen peroxide to clean up the mess she found in that house. Can you imagine?”

This was shouted over the sound of three screaming blow dryers. No one heard. It didn’t matter much. Each woman was busy picturing donning yellow rubber gloves and vigorously scrubbing the remnants of their own husband’s brains out of their own plush beige carpeting. 

Suddenly, the salon door opened; the holiday bells attached to the handle ringing in mock joy.  In walked the subject of the ladies’ gossip; her arm linked with that of the local pizza delivery boy, 22 years her junior. “Can you fit me in for a quick cut?” she asked. “The house just sold and Peter, here, and I are going out to celebrate.” She smiled, winked, and gave the young man a swift tap on the rear as the dryers were silenced, the scissors paused, and one by one red mouths fell open.

Nothing was ever the same again after that.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In The Beginning...

Genesis 1

The Beginning
 1 In the beginning God created a small sofa. 2 Now the sofa was formless and empty, there were no blankets on it yet, and the Spirit of God was hovering in the cushions.  3 And God said, “Let there be blankets,” and there were blankets. 4 God saw that the blankets were good, and He separated the ones with arm holes from the others. 5 God called the ones with arm holes “snuggies,” and the others “blankies.” And there was regular sleep time, and there was nap time—the first day.
 6 And God said, “Let there be a coffee table upon which to place things near the sofa." 7 So God made the coffee table and made it a glass top table and later He would realize that it would need to be cleaned with Windex often and this would piss Him off, but He was not concerned with such things yet. And it was so. 8 God called the table “that table.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
 9 And God said, “Let there be an outlet near the table so as to plug in a laptop.” And it was so. 10 God called the outlet "that thing with the slots in it that I plug the other thing into,” and the laptop He called “a mac” And God saw that it was good.
 11 Then God said, “Let the laptop forever be open to facebook, hulu, and” And it was so. 12 Facebook produced hours of procrastination from other things that needed to be done: parting of seas, sending his Son down to cure lepers, and gettin' all up in peoples' business with fiery bushes. And God saw that procrastination felt good. When it involved facebook. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
 14 And God said, “Let there be Starbucks nearby with a drive through so I can still wear my flannel dog pajamas and have toothpaste blobbed on the big zit on my cheek and I won't have to be concerned about running into any ex-boyfriends 15 and let the Starbucks have someone who knows what in the hell they're doing be in charge of making the drinks so it's not bitter.” And it was so. 16 God made two great Starbucks—one on Delmar and North and South and one on Price and Olive. He also made the stoplights. 17 God set them to turn green, 18 as soon as He approached them. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
 20 And God said, “Let me return home with my coffee to my laptop and facebook and let me have a woobie.” 21 So God created a great creature that resembled a pig with an underbite, but was really a little dog, and God was aware that this dog looked funny. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed the dog and said, “Don't lick your ass, because it grosses me out and don't chew on my furniture, you nitwit.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
 24 And God said, “Let the heat produce warmth through the vents and let the heating bill not be too high when I receive it.” And it was so. 25 God made the heat kick on when it got lower than 68 degrees inside. And God saw that it was good.
 26 Then God said, “Wouldn't it be cool to have some friends?.”
 27 So God created mankind in his own image,
   in the image of God he created them;
   male and female he created them.
  Although some were born male and wished they were female and some were born female and wished they were male and that would have to super-suck. But that's when God said, "Oops! I royally screwed up there. Sorry. I will invent re-assignment surgery for you. Ta-da!"
 28 God blessed the people and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number. Get checked for STDs before being fruitful and it's a really good idea to make sure you're actually in love with the person you're about to increase in number with. Because this guy might be just saying he loves you just to be fruitful with you or he might be into you at first and then all of a sudden be incapable of connecting in any way possible and then you'll be all, 'Well. This sucks.'”
 29 Then God said, “I'll tell you what. This is sounding complicated, so I give you therapy. And a few 12-step groups for good measure."30  And, seeing as He almost forgot about food, God said, "I give every green plant for food.” And people balked a bit because they wanted processed tangy cheese powder and things of that nature, but they'd get that in due time. And it was so.
 31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And He lay down on the couch and covered Himself with a blanket. And He logged onto facebook and He took a sip of his vanilla latte. And He texted the guy He had a crush on and then He let go of the outcome. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. And it was good.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Should Be Dancin'. Yeah.

The Bee Gees have a song that gets my rump moving every time I hear it.  In a falsetto voice, Barry Gibb wonders what I'm doing on my back, and tells me that I should be dancin'. Yeah. Dancin'. Yeah.

And Barry's usually right. I should be dancing.

And most of the time, I am. I'm not opposed to breaking out in a little dance move as I'm standing outside of my classroom door at 8:14 in the morning, waiting for the bell to ring and the students to flood into the hallway. I've been known to allow my feet to cha-cha while eyeing the produce or my shoulders to shimmy while perusing the dairy. Yesterday, I began a little spontaneous tap dance while my assistant principal was trying to have a word with me. A kind word. But not necessarily a tap dancing word.

I like to get my dance on.

I know that dance floors inspire fear in some.  I imagine some people view those parquet sections of flooring no different than, say, a large space filled with rows and rows of dentist chairs and drills. Please, God, no! Don't make me go out there! That's never been me.

I come from a long line of Hengens. We think we're stage performers, when really that was never our calling. We're secretly singers, dancers, and comedians, hiding behind the facade of teachers, nurses, and, that I think of it, most of us are teachers. Which is kind of like being a stage performer. And comedian. And, despite the educational value of it, I throw a bit of singing and dancing in there, too. My dad, also a Hengen, doesn't much care for getting his dancing and singing groove on. Which is probably a blessing, seeing as a singing, dancing, funny guy makes for an odd therapy session. My dad's a therapist.

Back to the dance floor. Here is a place for improvisation to come alive! My sister and I have ironed and folded imaginary laundry on the dance floor. We've hit home runs and run the bases. We've played volleyball and golf. Sure, it gets a little tricky, what with the concerned looks of other dancers, but we don't let it get to us.

I've slow danced cheek to cheek with an elderly man after a Sinatra concert. I've wrapped my shawl around a church parishioner and wound myself closer, only to fling myself back into the crowd. I've been picked up by the waist, "I've Had the Time of My Life"-style and flown in a circle, arms out, dress tucked in like a diaper. I've been 1950s jettisoned through the open legs of a dance partner, and pulled back up, much to the detriment of my dry-cleaning bill. I've hand-held with a chain of dancers and hava nagila-ed myself in a dizzying, snaking, fast-paced motion around, on and off the dance floor. I've danced with my father, my eyes closed, remembering when I'd stand on his feet. No leading was necessary. I've Time Warped, Electric Slid, Bunny Hopped, Alley Catted, Cha-Cha Slid, Twisted, Shouted, Stayed Alive, and Survived, Gloria Gaynor-style.

At home, without the predictable song line-up provided by deejays, I don't have to succumb to the "OH MY GOD! You HAVE to dance to this one!" as "We are Family" begins playing.  I can spin my own tunes. At home, I am the fourth Beastie Boy. I am Prince's backup singer. I am a Foo Fighter. And my dancing is not limited to a square underneath multiple sets of feet. I am swept from one room to another, sometimes up on the couch and back off again. I can pivot in the kitchen and roll my shoulders in the hallway. I can bust out an old-school move in the living room and fall back on the bed in my bedroom.

My whole self seems driven to move. To dance. To be alive.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Meow To Your Mother: I'm Prepared To Die

Big cats. Little cats. Fluffy cats. Bald cats. Cats with whiskers like curb-feelers and cats devoid of any facial hair. Cats that mew and cats that chatter. Purring car engine idling on a Sunday afternoon cats and cats whose sides rise and fall as they nap in the afternoon sun. Cats with pink padded paws that alternately push and knead on the surface of your belly.

I hate all cats.

-unlike cat lovers, who don't mind showing their cat love to the world. Puffy cats on sweatshirts. Librarian cats on canvas totes. Santa cats on holiday cards. Metal cat charms dangling and clinking from a pudgy wrist. Cat lovers wear staticky fur on the butts of their velour pants with no shame. Bintsy has a beautiful coat!

Cat tongues are fingernail-sized emery boards- scratch, scratch, scratching their little cat anuses then coming to rough up the exposed skin above your sensible shoes. Isn't he such an affectionate kitty?

Cats' skin is doughy like my second grade teacher who smelled of powder and wore her glasses dangling by a gold chain over her matronly bosom. Take your pointer finger and poke at a cat's side. It will just keep going and going, merely making an indentation in a vast plane of furry flab. This is disturbing, to say the least.

Cat tails are- and you know this to be true, so just admit it- a creepy entity unto themselves. They move independently of the actual cat- flicking this way and that. Curling up and uncurling with a thwack on the wooden floor. Nothing should move that much without a purpose. Nothing. It would be like if your ear were in constant motion. Folding and unfolding itself. Waving about like it's waiting nervously for its long-lost friend to exit the plane and head down the walkway.

Cats don't need you. They don't even love you. Take away their food and see what happens. They'll leave, that's what. They'll leave and go to someone else with food. Is that the kind of relationship you want? Is it? I didn't think so.

What's up with that spraying nonsense? I mean, I know a cat's been here because its vile hair tufts are still swirling on the ground and it smells like my grandma's drawer of old undies with the shot elastic waistbands. I don't need to smell cat piss dripping from my screen door to know a cat came by. But that's what they do. They mark places. A calling card shot straight from their asses, if you will.

Cats are drug addicts and their owners are pushers and pimps. If my mom would have come home and rolled me up some joints as an after-school snack, I'm sure many of you would have concerns about that. Cats, however, are frequently doped up on cat nip and left to pounce at imaginary mice and teeter their way around the apartment. What deep secrets do you have to drug about, kitty?

I would punch them right in their kitty faces if they weren't so damned cute. And if I wasn't afraid I'd get the shit scratched out of me.

Cat thoughts gone.
Cat thoughts out.
Peace out, kitty thoughts.
Swing you by the tail.
Go to jail.
Bars made of kitten arms
(they bend but they don't break!)
Get outta here, stinkerpuss.

My message to cat-loving friends who will momentarily defriend me on facebook and start sending me all things kitty: This was a bit of free-writing I did in class today with a few kids who selected the topic "cats."  We had 30 min. to write. Don't shoot my monkey mind. It just...came out this way. I? love? cats?

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Dare You to Dare Me

Dare me to do something.

Come on. I dare you to.

Dare me to do something that you really want me to do, like go get the mail. Or pick up the dog poop. Dare me to wash the dishes or fold your laundry. I won't be able to resist.

I've been dared to scale uneven stone churches and perch myself on their verdigris rooftops. Dares have sent me leaping from rocky cliffs into uncertain waters with the promise of stinging skin from the slap of the surface.

 I've taken dares from a cell phone, with the dare-er watching 8 flights above in a hotel window.
"I dare you to set your cell phone down and dance in the middle of the street."
And I danced.
"I dare you to go hug that sign."
And I hugged.
"See that guy approaching on a bike? I dare you to go hug him."

I know no power like that of three little words: I dare you.
All caution is thrown to the wind. An "Oh, yeah? You don't think I will, do you? Do you?" attitude sweeps over me and a fiery compulsion is set in motion. I'll show you whose getting dared to do what.

I stop at all things illegal, that God. Although I did steal Christmas presents from the "bargain basement" of Famous-Barr one year. One a dare. I was twelve. And hearing, "Oh! You shouldn't have! How did you ever afford these cameo earrings or this lovely tie tack or these gold hoops?" was enough to leave a guilty-sour taste in my dare-accepting spot. No more stealing.

But I could still be dared to take part in otherwise questionable behavior. Accepting the dare to take off my shoe and wiggle my toes within eyesight of a known mentally ill homeless man with an obvious foot fetish comes to mind. I was in high school, and dared by a group of classmates while riding on the Bi-State bus three seats over from "Shoe Man." It was risky. It was distasteful. It brought me a level of ick which took days to wear off. But, I did it. Dare accepted.

Being dared + teenage stupidity = dumb situations, but great stories years later. Had Jackass been around when I was a teen, I might have been the gal shooting myself in the buttock with a pellet gun. Or waking my dad up with a pair of cymbals. If I dad been dared, that is.

It occurs to me that I never accepted a dare that wasn't a milli-thought away from something I would have done on my own, anyway. The dare acceptance made the action your fault all of a sudden, not mine. "What? You're mad at me because I threw a drink in your girlfriend's face? But, her friend dared me to!" I had no choice! I was dared!

If you brought me a steaming pile of dog shit in a baggie and dared me to eat it, you better believe I wouldn't. I wouldn't have in my dumb years, and I wouldn't now. Sniff it? Yes. Poke at it with a stick? Perhaps. Put it in someone's mailbox? Not at my age. But there was a time.

Getting older has limited the number of dares I accept. Perhaps, as an adult who hangs around exclusively with other adults, I'm not being asked to take a dare as much. I'm sure my middle school students would like to test the boundaries of my dare-acceptance, but seeing as I pack each class full of intellectually-stimulating discussions of fine literature, there will never be a chance for them to find out just what I will and won't do. Plus, I know the middle school brain: "I dare you to not give us homework!" "I dare you to text my mom and tell her I'm in trouble!" "I dare you to let us go outside!"

Eh. Dares for sissies. You can do better.

Dare me to do something really out there.  Give me a dare that will make my stomach turn.
Dare me to get close.

Dare me to love you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Good Grief?

Good grief? Really? I'd like to know what's so good about it.

I'm certainly not the first person to experience grief. My guess is that some of you (my 18 followers, that is) are experiencing grief right now, have in the recent past, or will in the near future.

And grief blows.

Blah-ditty-blah denial, anger, sadness, acceptance. The only fun I see in there is the denial phase. The inner voice that justifies about anything to keep from feeling the grief.  "Oh! Look at that! Our house is getting foreclosed on? No. That's not right. Not happening. Nope. Not at all. We just felt like getting rid of 2/3 of our shit and moving into a dingy little apartment! We didn't need all of that stuff anyway! Oh, look! I'm closer to work now! Isn't that great?!" (*smiles in a Stepford wives kind of way*) How can somebody so blatantly deny the truth? Because they don't want to feel the grief, that's why. Because grief sucks.

I'd like to propose redoing the phases of grief. You know. Re-marketing it a bit. Something like:

denial, ice cream party, rage, movie night, winning lottery ticket, sadness, cupcake, surprise love letter, acceptance

Yeah. If it went more like that, I think we'd all be a bit better about swiftly moving through the process.

As it is, I'm in the sadness phase. Verging on acceptance, but apparently I have a little more "crying so hard that I actually dry heave the 2 crackers that I ate yesterday" phase to get through. Which I think is a sub-category of the sadness.  Totally okay if it were sandwiched between the cupcake and surprise love letter phase, but some jackass designed this grief business, not me. As it is, I've been in the "everything you eat will taste like cardboard and sawdust, and every swallow of food will land on a teetering pile of vomit resting at the top of your throat" phase. Which has brought me "Wow, you look great!" comments a few months ago, but now bring the, "Are you sure you're okay? You look a little..." I know. Ghouly. Not girly. Ghouly. And not sexy-ghoul. Emaciated ghoul.

Again, totally avoidable with my grief plan, which would include cupcakes. Red velvet cupcakes. From The Cupcakery.

I appreciate the tenacity of grief. I really do. It has a kind of Body Snatchers way of attaching itself to things that don't really belong to it.  You know what I mean. It's when you can't get the coin into the parking meter and you fall to the sidewalk in guttural sobs. Or when a receipt flies out of your car window while you're driving on the highway, and you begin award-winning tears as you watch it flutter and twist and turn in your rear view mirror. I'll never get that receipt back again, you wail. It was such a good receipt.

It's never about the receipt. Or the parking meter. It's the tiny weed that you pull and are surprised to find just how deep and far that weed really extends, just an inch or so underground. Trust me. Find your weed and pull it. Just a little. Pull it from the hollow in your stomach. Pull it until you feel yourself begin to unravel.

That's the one. The one attached to grief.

Are you ready to feel?

I'm heading this one straight on.  Party's over. The lights are on and the doors have been opened. Secondary party guests have been sent home, poorly rinsed tupperware containers in their hands. Desserts that they didn't want, but neither did I. Goodnight! Drive safely! It was great seeing you! And it was.

Now I lock the door and breathe deeply before turning around to see who's still there. Bankruptcy is sitting on my sofa, fingering the change in his pocket, looking a bit guilty. Busted. Infertility is in my bathroom, rummaging through my makeup. Without permission.  Abandonment is nowhere to be found, but I know he's here somewhere. Separation is looking through my photo albums, pulling pictures for her own collection. I know she has no intention of giving them back. Divorce is sitting at the desk in my kitchen, reading and rereading the letter telling him what to wear and how to behave at the county courthouse this Thursday. The Death of my Dog is curled up on my new dog's bed, looking up at me like only a dog can. Why did you do this to me? It asks. It knows why.

Okay, everybody, I say to my remaining guests.  Party's over.  Let's talk.