How Those Parts Started Peeling Off

I’ve been watching/reading/listening to some inspiring stuff lately. It’s pretty much all I’ve been able to do with my new work schedule and baby girl’s penchant for chaos. But I’d really rather be writing my own stuff. I want to be sending my thoughts out into the universe to see if anything sticks to the debris floating around out there long enough for anyone to notice.

Meanwhile, I’ve got Beyonce, Brené Brown, and Hannah Gadsby all echoing in my head,  telling me I’ve got to be my authentic self if I want to put something real into the world.

Then I finally finish reading that thing I wrote right after my daughter was born. 53,000 words of mostly true postpartum insanity that basically ends with me sliding on my sun glasses and almost running my husband over in my driveway. And guess what.

That might be it. That might be my big authentic story.

I’m still in hardcore editing mode and all the stuff that comes with self-publishing a book doesn’t seem doable in less than bite-sized chunks over the next couple of weeks and/or months. But I feel like I need to release just a little bit of that tension out into the world.

So here it is, Chapter 1 of Fully Functioning Fangirl: a postpartum decent into absurdity

Superwoman with Needles in Her Pores

That little dance you do with a stranger when you both attempt to pass through the same space at the same time? My husband does that. Constantly. Inadvertently, though, so I can’t even yell at him. Every annoying thing he does is inadvertent. Doesn’t make it any less infuriating.

This morning, he has managed to subconsciously anticipate my every move and finds a way to stand exactly where I need to be exactly when I need to be there. I wish he was the kind of mathematical genius who could apply this talent in other areas, but he’s not. He’s just an oblivious dude who’s always in the way. He gets it from his dad. That man stands in doorways and plants himself in the middle of small spaces. Again, he doesn’t do it on purpose; he just has a sixth sense for maximum spatial disruption and minimal awareness.

When it happens for the sixth time, I’m holding a full bowl of water for the cat which, because that little bastard’s hovering around my feet trying to trip me again, he gets to enjoy externally. His hiss begets a “What the hell?” from my husband which prompts a squeal from the baby he’s holding which is what makes his getting in the way extra annoying. If it wasn’t for her, I think, maybe I could just push him out of the way.

And I want to. I want to push him. I want to grab him and shake him and scream in his face, “I’m so sick of this! I’m so sick of you! None of this is what I thought it would be!” That flash of anger, the sudden flush followed immediately by a thorough loss of energy, that’s my world right now. Nothing makes sense, nothing seems real, and nothing feels good anymore.

Now my socks are wet, as are his pajama pants, as is the top half of the cat.

“Jesus Christ, dude!,” I actually say out loud. “Why are you even here? There is no reason for you to be hovering over the cat food with the baby. Can you just get out of the way for once?”

“I was just walking her for you so she wouldn’t cry,” he snaps back but he’s been on his phone the whole time. His “helping” me with breakfast time means wandering around holding the baby and checking sports scores on his phone while I do all the actual work of making breakfast and loading the dishwasher and feeding the cat.

“The baby is asleep. Put her down in the bassinet and do something useful.” I mutter.

This is what mornings have become. Before the baby was born, we had a routine. Everyone had a job. Things got done. That was what, a few weeks ago? And since then, everything has fallen completely apart. Now it’s just chaos. And by “it”, I mean me. My brain, my emotions, my reactions to everyday events are all freaking chaos. I shouldn’t be this angry. Things have never been perfect with my husband but it’s never made me feel like this, like I want to throw things at his stupid head every time he speaks or acts or breathes in my direction.

“I was trying to help,” he grumbles but he does what I ask. The baby is asleep in the bassinet, the toddler is sitting quietly playing and I’m melting into the floor like a plastic toy egg set on fire, just bubbling and steaming and reeking toxic fumes into an otherwise sterile environment.

“I’m going to shower,” he says without even noticing. He doesn’t want to see it because if he did, he might have to do something about it. And he doesn’t know what to do.

The toaster dings and that sets my toddler off. “Mom, that my waffle? That my waffle, Mom? Mommy, me want my waffle.”

“Yes, baby boy. Hold on a minute!” It would have been nice if my husband had helped clean up the water, or the cat, or stayed in the kitchen for two minutes so he could get the waffle to the whining child, but of course he didn’t. Of course, he left everything to me.

It’s the lack of sleep, I keep reminding myself. It happened with my son when he was a newborn too. Sleep is the glue that holds sanity together and without any of the sticky stuff, all my parts are peeling off.

I need to eat. I haven’t eaten. Why do I keep forgetting to do that?

I take the kid’s waffle out and throw a whole English muffin in. It probably won’t cook in the middle and I’ll probably eat it anyway, along with any leftover waffle my son doesn’t eat. When he first started eating solid foods, whatever leftovers of his didn’t end up on the floor ended up in my face. There never seemed to be enough time to feed myself in those days.

But that’s another of the million things I said I’d do differently this time around, along with an epidural during delivery and pumping milk as soon as possible.

Pumped milk meant independence. If there was baby sustenance readily available without my presence, I’d always have an escape route as long as I could get some other adult to come to my house for a couple of hours. I’d settle for the mailman some days, I swear. Just drag his skinny ass and safari hat into my house, hand him a bottle and a box of LEGOs and finish his route for him so I could take a break.

Today’s going to be one of those days, I can tell. The mailman better cross his fingers that he shows up while I’m in the bathroom or elbow deep in baby poop or he’s going to find himself on the wrong side of a kidnapping.

I’m so irritable, I think as I yank open the toaster oven, I can feel it prickling my skin, the anger forcing its way out like needles through my pores. If I had a moment to sit down and suss it out, maybe I could figure out its root, but the baby’s crying again because she’s cluster feeding and no amount of milk is enough. The waffles are too hot and my son is having a stomp and scream fit. And the cat is crying because apparently, he wanted to drink his water, not shower in it.

“Mommy, foo my waffles!” the boy cries as I plop down on the loveseat with the baby. My nursing pillow is missing again and between the crying and the tantrum, I don’t have the patience to look for it. I hike up a knee, prop that little bundle up on an elbow and pop a boob out of my V-neck. One problem, at least, has been solved. As always, on to the next. In the amount of time it takes for me to get my son to stop crying and bring the damn plate of waffles over to me, it’s already cooled, but I blow on it anyway.

*ffffooooo* “There you go, bud. Now you can eat them.” It’s good enough. For him. For her. For everyone else who doesn’t seem to be complaining. But not, so my gut keeps telling me, for me.

 

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Stock photo image searches of “sad woman” result mostly in beautiful women posing in the rain. Search for “peeling” and you FIND some stuff.

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Secret Reading Stash

Author confession: I haven’t been writing. There’s a lot going on with work and life plus y toddler’s at the peak of her climbing phase so… that’s where most of my energy goes.

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But I HAVE been reading… secretly on my phone when my children/husband/boss/customers are otherwise occupied.

Secret phone reading list:

Wayward (The Wayward Pines Trilogy Part 2)

The Last Town (The Wayward Pines Trilogy Part 3)

Lay Her Ghosts to Rest (yes I read my own books sometimes)

Life After Life: a novel

I’ve been trying to read Becoming but it’s a physical book. I have yet to pick up a physical book in front of my children without them interpreting it as JUMP ON MOMMY TIME. See also: removing bookmarks. See also: Ripping pages. See also: Questions. SO MANY QUESTIONS. However, my son did recognize Michelle Obama’s picture in the store recently and shouted, “Hey Mom, there’s Michelle Obama! She’s awesome!” True story, child. So true.

And I just bought The Gender Game which I’m looking forward to starting at lunch today!

Reading is the best. I can’t believe I took for granted all those child-free years of potential reading time. I’m told I’ll get it back once my children pass beyond the death-defying stunt years but… I don’t know. My girl’s got BDE and she ain’t afraid to use it.

Relatable or…

I’m thinking of changing my bio to this:

Anyway, so I had a meltdown last night that ended in me stomping up the stairs alone with a Subway rotisserie chicken sandwich to watch 15 minutes of SNL alone in my bedroom while I ate ALONE and then went to the bathroom ALONE. It helped. Apparently, I need to not be either at work or covered in children once in a while and it mellows me right out.

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She makes me laugh.

The Womens Will Get It

I write under a pen name and keep the details of my personal life limited on my blog but I had an interaction recently that was just… oh, it was everything that’s wrong with our culture right now and I wanted to find a way to share it.

So let’s say I work at Taco Bell as an assistant manager.

Earlier this week, I was behind the counter covering for an employee on break when a man came in. I said, “Welcome to Taco Bell, can I take your order?”

He said, “Yeah, hi, I just wanted to come in and check this place out. I’m really into Mexican food.”

“Great,” I said. “What can I get you?”

“Oh, yeah, I don’t know. See… I’ve been eating Mexican food for a while now. A real long while. I started eating it in ’82 and I’ve learned a lot about it.”

“Ok…” I say, eyeing the line forming behind him.

“Actually, I’m a cook. I cook mostly Mexican food but I dabble in Guatemalan food, Cuban food. I’ve done a little Brazilian food here and there.”

“Sir,” I say, “Is there something I can get for you? Because I have other customers I need to help.”

“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I see. So you have a lot of like… Mexican food fans here, right? Not cooks like me. Chefs, really. I’m really more like a chef. Because, I mean, I can cook tacos and burritos but what I’m really into is mole, pozole, and I’m really good at tamales. Like, REALLY good at it. I could probably teach you. Yeah, I know at least 5, maybe 6 ways to make tamales. You’d be really amazed at what I could show you.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you could. That’s awesome but we don’t… uh… we don’t do tamales here. We just have… you know, what you see on the menu. Would you like to try a Crunchwrap Supreme? It’s no tamale, but it’s pretty good.”

“Nah, I’m not really interested in eating your food. I know your food, I mean, I’ve eaten here before a long time ago and I know your entire menu. I’ve eaten all of it. I could probably tell you some things about your menu that you don’t even know. Have you ever met Glen Bell? Because I have. He’s ok at Mexican food but I… I know a little something about it that he doesn’t.”

“So you don’t want to order something. You don’t want to eat here at all?” I ask. The employee is back from his break and standing awkwardly behind me. He’s trying to ask if he should open the other register. I’m trying to tell him yes but this dude just talks over me, loudly. 

“Nah, I’m kind of just looking for a community, you know? I mean, I’ve got 37 years of experience here. I don’t want that to just go to waste. I want to, you know, be amongst my peers and really, get into the art of Mexican cooking again.”

“So, you want a job? We have an online application form. Or I could grab you the paper form. Let me just head back to my office and grab that for you.” I start walking away and the employee takes over my register. Customers waiting in line are pissy. And now there’s a problem in the kitchen I really need to take care of but this guy follows me behind the counter, still talking.

“It’s not really a job I’m looking for, per se. I mean, I have a job. Actually, I recognize your drive thru girl because she’s a customer there.” He waves at her but she clearly has no idea who he is.

I say, “Excuse me, I really need to take care of this,” and start talking to the line cook to see what’s wrong. He’s trying to explain but the guy is standing right behind me, still talking to me, absolutely oblivious to the other people in the room I’m trying to give my full attention to.

“Do you do Tacos Arabes here? Because people are really into Tacos Arabes these days. If you don’t have any experience with Tacos Arabes, I could probably teach you. I could even make them here, if you want. Just like, set up a grill for me and I could make Tacos Arabes for people and you could learn how to do it too for free, even because I mean, you don’t get this kind of Mexican food instruction for free most of the time. I mean, I’d have to charge other people for my Tacos Arabes because they’re pretty valuable but I could cut you a deal, probably.”

“Um… yeah, I don’t… think…”

“Tacos Arabes, Tacos Campechanos, Street Tacos, I mean… I can do it all.”

I grab him an application and tell him to fill it out and we can see if there’s anything we can do.

“Yeah, I’m not really into filling out applications,” he says as I turn back to the line cook to make sure his problem is resolved. “Maybe I can just stop by again and talk to you like Wednesdays or Thursdays are good for me.”

“Oh, yeah, I don’t know if I’ll be here just… just fill out the application. That’s the best way. You can just… write in all your special skills there and we’ll see if there’s anything we can do for you.”

“Yeah, yeah, maybe I mean, like I said, I’m not looking for a job. Just want to be around My People, you know. All these Mexican food lovers all cooking and eating Mexican food. I just know I have a lot I could teach them and it would be a benefit to me too just to be around other people like me and… you know, it’s just such a great culture, such a great flavor. Great flavors.”

“Ok, sure. So…  go… fill out that application and we’ll see. Thanks for stopping by. Ok, bye now!”

And I went back in my office and closed the door.

 

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Now… I don’t work at Taco Bell or any kind of food service. I actually work with children in an after school type activity. There were children in the vicinity at the time. MY child was there. So when a creepy man came in listing all the things he knew about our activity, it was mildly threatening. He wasn’t overtly threatening but the implications of what he was saying could be interpreted that way.

So when my “line cook” raised his eyebrows at me after the dude left and said, “Well… that… was a little extra. Why didn’t you just kick him out?” I told him the truth:

Fear. Caution. Reality.

Someone shot up another school yesterday. I don’t know the circumstances because if I read about it, I will absolutely freak out and never let my children go anywhere ever again. When someone comes into my child-focused business when there’s a room full of other people’s children learning from my husband near by–especially when my son is playing with his friends in my office–and starts telling me that he knows better than me how to Teach These Kids Something Real, I go into preservation mode.

This isn’t Mama Bear mode, not Fight or Flight, not SPRING INTO ACTION because there was no obvious threat. Just the threat of a potential threat.

Preservation Mode: when women smile and placate a man they’re not interested in talking to because WE KNOW at any moment, they could snap and murder us.

I told the “line cook” that based on his “polite” behavior, I could tell he had absolutely no aptitude for empathy. He wasn’t there to get information about our program or services. He told me flat out that he knew more than me and could teach me a thing or two. He didn’t listen when I told him I didn’t think I could help him. He didn’t listen when I told him I wasn’t available to continue talking about this on another day. He showed no concern for the fact that I had (misbehaving) children I needed to talk to instead of him. And in fact, he continued to tell me about his skill set while I reprimanded my son and his friend.

This is a man who could snap and murder me and the children I was responsible for if I didn’t smile and pretend that there was at least a remote possibility that he could have what he wanted. That’s the reality of the world we live in right now.

It’s terrifying. And we do what we have to do to survive it, even if it’s just listening to a douche bag’s resume when we’d rather be doing ANYTHING else.

 

Now, in my dream world last night, I actually met up with this man again, slammed his face into the floor, pressed my forearm to his windpipe while I dialed 911 with my other hand and instead of defending himself or escaping, he just listed all the ways he COULD defend himself if he wanted to. Oh and how he could teach me a thing or two as well.