The Better to Murder You In

“Wow, they took REALLY good pictures,” said my husband as we escaped another open house this morning. “Really good, like… really misleading… pictures,” he continued, driving away without looking back. We had done two drivebys earlier this week in anticipation of this open house, each time craning our necks to see as much as possible of the yard and the driveway and the garage as we passed. From the outside, it was adorable: brick and stone, manicured lawn, seal-coated driveway with a big back yard and a swing set!

“Did it feel like maybe people died in there?” I asked. “Like maybe it was a murder house. That basement seems like it would be really handy for murder.”

d63cb70ee1a3088b63e4450e2b4e8755“It just really wasn’t what I expected at all. The layout didn’t make sense. And what was with the Game of Thrones wrought iron gate down to the basement. It was just, like, out in the middle of the kitchen. Just a hole in the floor with a big swirly graveyard gate.”

“Yes, I did wonder how long it would take our child to impale himself on that.”

“And there was just a shower in the basement. Just… out in the room. With a clear curtain. A big shower facing the middle of the room with a clear curtain.”

“The better to murder you in?”

“It was dark.”

“Like you didn’t like the lighting or the wallpaper or like thematically dark? Like soul-crushingly dark?”

“It felt icky.”

“Because it was a murder house. Do you want to go see that other one?”

“No. No, I just… I just want to go home. I just want to go to our nice normal house with the finished basement and the showers inside the bathroom.”

“Our annoying neighbor doesn’t seem so bad today, huh?”

“She still needs to cut her grass. It looks like wheat fields.”

“It looks like the yard of that house should have looked to warn unsuspecting visitors of the evil within.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

 

 

 

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Chupa para ser usted

I’ve just discovered the first season of Jane the Virgin on Netflix and I can do little else with my free time but watch it.

Writing can wait. That’s the plus side of writing as a hobby.

Sucks to be you, professionals.

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“This House is Suspect”

or so I whispered to my husband in the unfinished basement of an allegedly newly constructed house this afternoon.

I love Open Houses because I like to see how other people live. I like to imagine that I live other than how I do. I like to redecorate in my mind and imagine how much easier it would be to corral my kid in this new space. And then I like to go home because I hate moving.

My husband and I have it in our heads, however, that we need more space and a second garage and one more bedroom and a better school district and we don’t want to pay for any of those things. We belong on House Hunters. We are those assholes. Although quietly so because we do not announce how much we hate the paint and would prefer granite counter tops so much as we say, “Oh, mmhmm” to whatever the realtor says and then bitch behind her back.

Oh but the house we saw today! It was lovely from the outside, on a quiet street in a busy area of town close to grocery stores and ice cream stands and not too far from work. It was a split level, which he loves and I tolerate, but laid out such that I could stand living there. Gorgeous kitchen WITH granite counter tops and those drawers that won’t slam no matter how hard your toddler tries. But there were scuff marks. And gouges. And paint peels. All those little destructions even a year with a child or a pet would make or several years with adults who occasionally bump into things or drop things or spill things would make. Things that are no big deal… unless it’s a brand new construction.

I ran my hand over a section of cabinet that looked like it had been keyed by Carrie Underwood and asked, “This is a new construction?” The realtor affirmed and added some comment about how new is always nicer. “Is it?” I asked, rubbing a dark spot to see if it would come off. It didn’t.

My aunt has three dogs and 4 cats. Her house has this kind of damage.

My husband asked about the unfinished basement. In a split level. That conspicuously mentioned the extra living area in the basement… you know, for a Neil Gaiman character known for his weapons skills who doesn’t mind a little mold or terrifying darkness. “No,” said the realtor who didn’t even bother asking us to sign in or if we had representation, “This is it. This is finished.”

So we should finish installing the light fixtures and the electrical socket plates, then? Do you still have the paint so I can touch up the walls and the trim where the paint has been scraped off? Oh and you’re asking price is more than the 5 year old house down the street with 1200 more feet of living space?

t-alp-desolation-wld-07-2013-052_optDarling, this house is suspect. My estimation is that they ran out of money and now have to sell as high as they can to cover their losses. And if this “new construction” is indeed “finished” looking like it’s been lived in for 20 years, I can’t imagine what other shortcuts they may have taken to get it on the market. Let’s go home, shall we? Let’s buy more baby gates and call it a day.

 

 

Someone Hug Clara’s Babies

theguildI’m not a gamer so I’ll never appreciate it fully, but I gotta say, I don’t like The Guild specifically because of Clara. I watched the first episode? which is several episodes? on Netflix this week during nap time and while I find Felicia Day awkwardly charming and the story itself mildly compelling, I just… ugh, as a mom, I can’t handle Clara’s neglect of her children.

It’s a comedy, Eda, they’re joking! Yes, I know, and before I had a kid of my own, I would have thought it was funny too. As a for reals mom, I often feel like just letting my child roam around restaurants so Mommy can freaking eat. But there’s also this thing that happens to you when you have a baby that changes your brain chemistry and makes the world a horrible and dangerous place that you just CAN’T handle sometimes. I stopped engaging in any sort of consumption of information that was emotional for the first year after I gave birth. I couldn’t handle the news. I had to stop watching Gotham and Mr. Robot. I unfollowed anyone on social media who posted any stories or pictures of animal or child neglect because everything made me cry at the least or send me into hysterical panic attacks.

Sometimes I hear a stranger’s baby crying several aisles away from me in the grocery store and I still get upset.

Seeing Clara’s children dirty and crying hurts me. Watching them reach their hands out of the CAGE at Tink’s house was unbearable. I cried. While watching The Guild, I cried for fictional children. Mombrain is real.

I still love Felicia Day and maybe I’ll check out some of her other projects but between not understanding or caring about gaming culture and having severe momxiety, I think I’ll pass on any more episodes of The Guild.

Woman, I Am Not Your Ally

It was whiny kid day at Target and I had sent mine off with his father to look for a present for his cousin’s birthday while I perused the clearance rack for some new summer duds. Yes, I heard the boy in the red wagon crying a few aisles over and yes, it was annoying, mostly because it was that “I’m not getting my way” cry I’ve been hearing so much of myself since my son hit toddlerhood. But it wasn’t my kid and it wasn’t my problem, so I ignored it the best I could.

That’s when Nosy McKnowBetter joined me and mumbled discontentedly in my direction. “Better take care of that kid,” she said, turning her head toward me. I ignored her. “Ugh, tired of ignorant people,” she mumbled a little louder. I moved on to the next rack.

Now I’m a hardcore, people-avoiding introvert who only engages with strangers when I feel the outcome is almost definitely positive. I respond to people who say, “Good morning,” and “How are you today,” and “Beautiful day!” I absolutely do not engage people who begin conversations with negative statements, even if I agree with them.

In this case, I did not agree. The child was whining because he wasn’t getting his way. Nothing bad was happening. Every once in a while, the boy’s mother would say, “No, you cannot get out. You need to stay where I can see you in your wagon.”

Even so, Ms. McKnowBetter’s grumbling got louder as she addressed me directly. “I’m so sick of these people having kids if they’re not going to care for them.”

Whoa. First of all, “these people”? Do you mean people with skin tones darker than yours or people with accents different than yours because either way, I am not on the “us” side of your “them vs. us” bigotry. Secondly, the woman was very clearly communicating in a firm but not unloving way that her intention was to keep the boy safe. Other than annoying incessant child whining, what was the actual problem here?

The problem is busybodies. It’s overly concerned strangers reacting out of context. It’s neighbors calling the cops on parents who let their children play outside or walk to school. It’s the goddamn parenting police who want you to know that you are one phone call away from losing your children if you don’t keep them under control at all times. And bigots, of course. Because even if the child is behaving appropriately, America can’t be great again until all of “them” leave.

Again, I walked away because no. No, I am not your ally. No, I will not engage in berating the parenting skills of a competent mother. No.

Apparently, she didn’t need my approval. She approached the woman and her child anyway, made a big ole scene about how she was NEGLECTFUL and ABUSIVE and the AUTHORITIES WILL BE CALLED.

The woman, goddess bless her fiery soul, shouted right back at her, “How is this any of your business? My son is whining because he’s not getting what he wants. What, have you never been around kids before? You don’t even KNOW me, you don’t know my son, and you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

And ain’t that a universal truth?

I would very much like to take a poll of the people who comment on the parenting skills of others, especially the ones complaining about normal child behavior. Question 1: Do you know what a child is? Question 2: Were you ever a child yourself? Question 3: What kind of idiot are you exactly?

I don’t know what happened next because I stayed the hellfire away from those shenanigans but I did hear the mother in question talking to her friend as they walked away. “Who does she think she is, coming up to a stranger and saying I abuse my kid because I won’t let him run around the store? You know she’d be complaining even more if I did. Stupid people. You just can’t win, no matter what you do.”

Amen, sister.

 

 

 

30 Minutes of Wonderful

My son was startled awake from his morning nap once several months ago when I opened the front door to retrieve a package that had just been delivered. He shrieked and ran to the living room gate, shaking it violently and screaming his name for me. I ran back up the stairs to see what was wrong and as soon as he saw me, he collapsed in a fit of the most heart-wrenching sobs I’ve ever heard. He thought I left him. He was scared and I wasn’t there to tell him it was OK. I’ve never had my heart broken like that and I’m not ashamed to say that I joined him on the floor and cried with him until we both caught our breath and calmed down. He wouldn’t let me out of his sight for the rest of the day.

shelbyAs I mentioned on Twitter, I saw Steel Magnolias for the first time over the weekend. My son took a long nap Saturday morning followed by some very focused self-entertaining play time involving play food and Ninja Turtles. While I can appreciate a lot about the film, I had a lot of trouble relating to the characters: conservative Southern ladies with a penchant for gossip who, although they were strong-willed and resourceful, didn’t seem to take any responsibility for the things that happened to them. Dolly Parton’s character wasn’t a savvy business-owner but a woman with an out-of-work husband who had to make due. Homegirl had a thriving salon. Take credit for that, woman; you did that yourself! Annelle maybe married a criminal but it wasn’t her fault, settled that nonsense and went off on a wild sinfest which wasn’t her fault, and then found Jesus again after a gambling trip that wasn’t her fault. Take some responsibility for your mistakes, yo. I have very little respect for people who just let things happened to them and shrug it off as not their fault.

Eventually, I saw through the facade of 80s cinema trying to make a non-confrontational women’s movie with female characters who could kick some a, but would never brag about it and focused on Ms. Julia. Yes, there are times you need to pshaw your doctors and make miracles happen (Walk On, Bruce Lee) but having a child isn’t the kind of situation where you just throw caution to the wind and hope things work out. You don’t say, “Well, this might kill me but as long as I get what I want for a little while, I don’t mind the risk.” To hell with that, I say. That is selfish talk. THAT is irresponsible and the reason I’m gonna go ‘head and hate this movie is because it showed me my very worst fear: my baby screaming for me as I lie unconscious on the floor, unable to comfort him.

Now, I had some postpartum complications that laid me up a little while and a surgery that made lifting my little love nugget almost impossible for a couple weeks but it was all unforeseen health issues I had no way of knowing would affect us the way it did. And honestly, it wasn’t all that bad. But the guilt and the ache I felt at not being able to even lift my baby sent me into hysterical crying fits (also, the hormones made me less than rational). I had food poisoning once and had to stop in the middle of a diaper change to go vomit and felt like the worst mother in the world. So to know full well that pregnancy would irrevocably damage my body such that I didn’t know how long I’d be around to raise my child? No. No, Shelby, you selfish piece of garbage, it is not worth it to have loved and lost in that way because it’s not about you, bitch.

And speaking of bitches who selfishly abandon their children, dying of a broken heart? I’m looking at you, Padme Amidala. Physically healthy but with no will to live? You think you’re the first woman whose husband turned out to be a piece of crap? You can’t deal, so you’re just gonna die? Leave your babies, who you’re alive enough to name, but not enough to think of a reason to live? Selfish. Although, to be fair, I consider that whole business to  have been created by the warped and inhuman brain of George Lucas who is himself a cyborg that doesn’t fully understand human emotion. Still. Selfish.

So here I am, Monday morning, with that image from Steel Magnolias playing over and over in my head of the little boy screaming while Shelby lays unconscious by the telephone. I’m here making sure my son can see me when he wakes up. I’m running to the bathroom to pee quick as I can. I’m making a mental checklist of my biggest fears and pushing “Surviving the apocalypse alone” and “Spiders” down to numbers 2 and 3. Oh, and I’m also trying not to be a total neurotic nut about this whole business which, frankly, is taking up most of my mental space today.

Will I get any writing today that isn’t about mom guilt and George Lucas conspiracies? Probably not. Might be a better day for laundry and bill paying and meeting the needs of house and family rather than personal fulfillment. Tomorrow, I’ll go back to storytelling.

 

 

Girl, I don’t even KNOW you

Listen, I get that you “don’t bring the kids to the park to PLAY with them” because you’re a mom with needs and what you NEED is for your 4-year-old to stop WATCH THISing you for five minutes. I get that.

But I am also a mom with needs and I NEED for your 4-year-old, who is a complete and total stranger to me and my son, to stop WATCH THISing ME.

Because I am busy actually watching my “Mommy, maybe you don’t want to watch me attempt this skill above my ability level because you might have a heart attack” child who is blissfully pre-verbal and about 100% more willing to share and take turns even though he’s at least 2 1/2 years younger than your spawn.

There has got to be a middle ground between relentless self-sacrifice and total public douchebaggery when it comes to parenting.

Absurd and Delicious

Thank God I don’t make my money from writing because I haven’t written anything in a week but haikus and six word stories on Twitter from my phone while the kid was doing something less likely to be dangerous somehow. For me, writer’s block is an excellent reason to catch up on Kimmy Schmidt and laundry and between block and the kiddo’s short naps, that’s about all I’m getting done during the day.

I love Tina Fey. More so, I love funny feminists. You can declare yourself a person worthy of respect and still enjoy life, second-wavers. You can also have sex and wear skirts and shave whatever part of your body you want to shave, girl. And while you’re doing all of that, you can make a great, subtly empowering Netflix show full of Frasier references and absurd comedy that delights and entertains. We should all be so lucky to have that kind of talent.

Peeeno NOIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!