I Auditioned for Listen To Your Mother

I did it! Again…

For those who may not know, Listen To Your Mother is a yearly live production that “Gives Motherhood a Microphone”. It is made up of live readings on the good, the bad, the funny, the tragic, anything and everything that makes up motherhood. It is put on once a year, around Mother’s Day. This year is the Grand Finale, the last show.

I’ve read the previous three years and wasn’t sure I would audition this year. Not that I don’t LOVE rejection… I didn’t have anything written. I tried. So many times and ways. I’d get a paragraph or two in and scrap it.

I wasn’t happy with anything I wrote. I was talking myself out of going… What were the odds anyway? The past three years, I put so much work into my pieces. I remember that first year, sitting at my kitchen table… my tears blurring my sight and the ink. Feeling, literally like I was writing my heart out. I was so in touch with that pain that had happened a decade earlier… At that point, you could submit your story via email.

The second year, I took a different approach. A different angle. This year you had to read your piece in front of the producers of the show. I was so nervous. They were so nice though. They listened actively, were encouraging, I remember the rejection email even- they worded it in such a way that I didn’t feel bad about myself. They’d explained that each show was like a quilt, each story a patch. The stories that were not selected, it wasn’t a reflection of the writing or the quality of the substance, it just didn’t go with the rest of the blanket.

The third year, last year, they remembered me and were happy I came back. What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment.

So, it’s that time of year again. They only audition four days in various locations. At the time I was signing up (telling myself I was just holding the spot, it didn’t mean I HAD to go… but in case I came up with something brilliant…) the only meeting place was the library in North East Minneapolis. I can drive downtown but I really don’t like to! So that was one obstacle.

I waffled so long, I had to check my butt for burns!

I didn’t even really decide whether or not I was going to go until 45 minutes before I had to leave.

I decided to use a piece I wrote several years ago… I wasn’t sure it was going to be anything like what they were looking for but it was either that or skip it. I didn’t want to have that nagging “what if” regret.

So there it is. I did it. I’m done. They said they’ll notify everyone in about a week.

*Breaking News* From the Listen To Your Mother website:

“Recently we proclaimed that 2017 would serve as LTYM’s Grand Finale season, closing out 8 consecutive smash-success seasons of live LTYM shows. Today, thanks to a licensing agreement with Miracle or 2 Productions, Inc. LTYM announces a new life for our beloved show! Beginning in 2018 it will be easier than ever for theaters (professional or amateur) and organizations/groups to host their own LTYM show events!!

LTYM has partnered with Miracle or 2 Productions! What does that mean?

LTYM shows will no longer be limited to a once-per-year Mother’s Day celebration! Instead LTYM shows will be available for production all year long and for performance runs (multiple performances per theater, as opposed to only one) beginning in 2018, in cooperation with Miracle or 2 Productions, Inc.”

So, I guess if I don’t get in this year, it’s not the end of the road… awesome.

The Ride of My Life

This is a true story that I wrote a few years ago… I’m posting it now because this blog could use a little lightening up…

Some people who have read it before have said “it’s a little over the top, don’t you think?”

Of course it is! I wrote it! Have you met me??? Yes, it’s dramatic and over the top and intended to be that way… sarcasm isn’t always a bad thing…

Enough of the disclaimer.

“You. On a roller coaster. By yourself. Uh huh.” Admittedly, it was not one of my better mothering moments, but we were at THE MALL OF AMERICA and in that type of environment, my sanity is scarce. I remembered the last time we were here. The safety bar came down on my lap and cut off my circulation. A rickety ride jerked me every direction. I got nauseous. She looked up at me with hopeful eyes, steadfast in her resolve to ride. I looked at her, seeing only the end result: wasted time, screaming kids, long lines and me, having to find a way to calm her down and lead her back through the mass of humanity.

“We don’t have enough points for that ride.”

“We could buy more…”

“I don’t want to throw money away.”

“You won’t. I PROMISE.”

I’m not positive, but I think I may have huffed and stomped my feet all the way to the ticket counter, trading my her fit for my own.

We took our place in the “line ride”. It wove us around and through a damp, humid cave for a good half hour before we could see the light and the large puddles of water from the other side. It was unbearable. I had to do something to take my mind off the invisible war between too much cologne and not enough deodorant. I don’t know who was winning but everyone with a sense of smell was losing.

As we neared the front of the line and got further from the cave, I gasped for fresher air. I filled my lungs with the slightly less offensive stench of chlorine and disinfectant. I also noticed her sliding backward slowly. There were only a few people ahead of us now. There would surely be enough room for her on the next run.

The Log Chute. What kind of name is that anyway? When I hear that, the last thing I think of is fun… Riding on a hard seat, listening to the gears turn as you get higher and higher, the sensation of my own mortality presenting itself to me in a 4 foot drop and to top it off, getting drenched? Pass.

The water ride ground to a sloshing stop in front of us.

I turned around; expecting to see Tayla inching back toward the cave we’d just escaped and found she wasn’t there. Panicked, I spun around and caught sight of her standing right on top of that bright, yellow line. She looked nervous … and determined.

“Ok, you don’t have to go on the ride…” I didn’t say this out loud, I guess I was too stunned to say anything. Before my maternal instincts kicked in, a minimum wage, underage ticket taker had her in his grips! How qualified was this kid? He saw an obviously confident and eager kid, at the front of a line and just ushered her into the first available seat! Right in front of her mother! Shouldn’t he have at least inspected every seat to be sure she got the safest and the driest? Within the space of a minute, the log had emptied and refilled to capacity while I stood by, mouth agape and frozen in disbelief as my baby was basically kidnapped by a clearly power crazy ticket scanner and button pusher. She was whisked away on a certainly fatal last ride.

I don’t even think she looked back. Not a care in the word or the faintest understanding that 90 seconds from now, life would never be the same.

About the time she was almost completely out of sight, my speaking ability returned. Oh my God. Oh my God. It started out as a mutter then grew with increasing intensity. Frantically I turned to people for help. I saw a dizzying circle of people surrounding me. The offered sympathetic smiles and heads nodded in agreement. “No! Stop smiling and nodding! It’s not ok! She’s never done anything like this before in her life!” Sickening images barraged me as the tightly corralled waves smashed against the faux wooden logs of the disaster bound.

Was she scared? Of course she was, she had to be, right? Oh God. What if she is so scared, she tries to climb out? She’s a tiny girl, surely capable of slipping out of the sturdiest of restraints. She’d see how close she was to the solid, non-moving cave rock and underestimate the jump. She probably slip in a stupid puddle and get run over by the very ride she’d just gotten off… My imagination had also gone off the track as I tried to envision how I was going to explain to mall security that is wasn’t so much a missing person as missing pieces of a person. A macabre treasure hunt it would be. A swing from another ride caught my peripheral vision and I nearly gagged as I was sure I’d just seen an arm or a leg unattached fly through the air. I watched for the ride water to run red. Tunnel vision was taking over. Thousands of pins pricked my eyes, serpents swam in my stomach and air clung to my lungs.

“Mom! Mom!” I heard. Oh God, I’m already hearing her voice from the other side! It was true. While I was still facing the open tunnel through which she had disappeared, the ride had come full circle and she was behind me. Bright eyed, excited and most importantly, in one piece.

I hadn’t yet moved to the exit side of the ride and this was no time for protocol. I cut through an empty seat and grabbed my very brave girl. I cried as I held her close.

“Mom?” she asked.

“Yes” I thought. Whatever it is, yes…

“Can I go again?” She asked with a wink.

Grief & Disbelief

Here it is again. The dreaded 19th. Nine months to the day, we lost Natalie.

It’s still just as devastating and confusing today as it was then. I still replay the conversation with my brother, asking if she was dead and him whispering “yeah”. Still going over the agonizing wait in her apartment building while the Medical Examiner explained his initial findings and wondering what if I’d only called more often or been more available?

I know I’ve mentioned before the paradox of the time aspect. How it feels like it just happened and like it’s been years and I’ve hurt every second of that time…

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What happens when you get too tired to swim?

Things are changing though. Slowly but surely. Don asked me how many weeks it’s been now and I didn’t know. I think I’ve even gotten through a Thursday or two without constantly looking at the clock and wondering what was happening this time on May 19th?

Last night I spent a couple of hours downloading mp3 files of Natalie from her “Smokin'” days to some of the last music she sang. Of course I had a breakdown but here’s what I noticed that was different: I was angry.

I mean, of course I’m angry and I’ve been angry… but my internal message changed.

It went from “Oh my God. Natalie.” to “God damn you Natalie!”

I’m not judging it, good or bad, It doesn’t really matter… it’s just an observation.

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Same with letting go. Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Who knows? It is what it is and is sucks.

I miss her. I love her. I’m happy she’s not in pain anymore. I’m angry with her and the drug companies. I want to get back to a place where I can feel motivated to change the things I can instead of feeling paralyzed by emotional pain.

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I feel like for all the grieving I’ve done, I should be waaaay cured.

Empire Beauty School

Remember this address:

9749 Lyndale Avenue So. (Bloomington)

Their phone number is: 952.232.0426
Ok, here’s why you’ll want this info…

I’ve been in kind of a blah spot when it comes to my hair. I’d been dying it “Violet Vixen” for about a year. Decided I wanted to get closer to my natural color so I dyed it brown for several months. Decided I wanted the red/purple/grape juice coloring. Nope. After a week, I was once again a brunette. Still not happy. That’s when I turned to Pinterest. Holy Jackpot!

So many choices! I’ve always wanted to go pink, like a cotton candy color but I didn’t feel quite dedicated enough go all in. I found a picture of my solution. It was just a few panels of pink, purple and blue.

I knew they were going to have to lighten my hair before any of the colors would show and that gets expensive, quick.

Luckily, I had a delivery going to Empire and grabbed one of their brochures. They offer everything from haircuts to hair dyes. From waxing excess facial hair to seaweed wraps.

I scheduled my appointment for the following day.

From the moment I walked in, I was taken care of. Everyone was so friendly! I briefly talked to the stylist and showed her a picture of what I wanted done.

She was very gentle. The process really didn’t take that long and maybe most important, there wasn’t the chemical smell I’d gotten so used to inhaling!

She bleached, washed, dried, colored and curled my hair… I was getting a little nervous about going up to the cash register… my grand total? $35. 

I’ll include photos, you can decide for yourself! In case I was a little unclear earlier, I HIGHLY recommend Empire Beauty!


Dogs Are People Too

* To prevent confusion, I wrote this post a couple of months ago. It’s been sitting in my “drafts” folder… waiting to be finished I guess. So, here it is. Enjoy.

Last night I went to my mom and dads… mostly to see them but to see the doggies too. Deano and Niles, they are quite the pair.

Deano is a prima donna if I ever met one. He’s around seven years old? I’m not sure but my parents don’t do much to dissuade his thinking that he is the king of the castle, everyone else is just allowed to live there and care for him. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, I don’t say it with judgement. I’m just trying to paint a picture.

Niles on the other hand… I think of as more of a court jester or a peasant. He was Natalie’s dog and like Nat, he’s a bit of a trouble maker… or is getting senile? I think they are close to the same age… anyway, Niles lost an eye a couple of years ago and his remaining one is failing. It’s a good thing the two dogs love each other because they need each other. While Deano gets a playmate, Niles relies on Deano to get around. Deano is Niles’ seeing eye dog. Other than needing his eye treatments, Niles is a pretty low needs dog. He’s content to be in the same room as people and not have to be the center of attention.

All of this info brings me to my point.

While at mom and dad’s last night, the two dogs sat outside the little gate of the dining room, whining. They aren’t allowed in the dining room because of all the accidents.

Speaking of accidents, I had to pee. I excused myself and when I came back, there was Deano, sitting on his two hind legs. Still whining. Tears in his eyes like “I stayed at your house, remember? Why won’t you hold me? I NEED ATTENTION!” So I scooped him up and held him for awhile. (I don’t do much to correct his thinking either, come to think of it…)

When I set him down, there was Niles. Looking up at me with his one good/mediocre eye. Not saying anything or whining or crying.

“Does Niles like to be held?” I asked

“He does, it’s just a little more awkward because he’s bigger than Deano.”

I grabbed Niles and hugged him to my chest. I held my breath as his kissed me all over, bathing me in his saliva. I kissed him back. His ears, the top of his head and I tried to imagine Natalie there with us.

It wasn’t long before Deano got jealous though and started to whimper.

“I held you first, it’s not your turn.”

He cocked his head to the side and barked.

Then mom came around.

I set Niles down and reached for Deano.

Would he let me pick him up? Of course not! Mom was here! Not only was mom better but he watched me to make sure I saw him rejecting me and illustrating I wasn’t the only one who wanted him.

To keep me in my place, I guess.

Well buddy, she was my mom first, so whatever…

What’s the point of all this? I don’t know. Does there have to be one? I guess I just found it highly amusing and wonder how in the world people can think animals are stupid.

 

Aware

via Daily Prompt: Aware

Today’s word of the day is: Aware. Awareness. It sounds like a good thing…to be aware of things but right now, I’m thinking it’s really close to the word beware, like, too close.

To be aware and present, to be mindful… it’s not all Buddhists and lotus flowers and Nirvana. It’s some of that…

It’s also pain. It’s suffering. It’s me, lying in my bed trying to curl up into a ball… becoming a tourniquet to prevent my heart from bleeding out onto the sheets. Who want’s to do THAT laundry? Not this girl.

I digress, I don’t want this to be a bummer post. I hadn’t realized how scary/upsetting my last post was but based on some feedback, it was bad and now I’m afraid to go back and look at what I wrote! I guess I was NOT very aware that day.

I am taking better care of myself. Taking meds when they are supposed to be taken, getting all of my insulin doses in, going to bed at a decent-ish time… I’ve even laid off of the Justice network, well, cut back considerably.

What about fun stuff? Glad you asked. I upgraded my phone… it was that time and I really surprised myself! I went with the iPhone (of course) 7. Plus.

omg

Seriously, I was as shocked as anybody.

For one thing, the phone is HUGE. I never thought it practical to have a phone so fucking big, it doesn’t fit into your pocket… well, it fits in my back pocket. I love the bigger screen. I’m sure I thought I could see fine on every other phone I’ve ever owned, but holy. shit. It’s so much easier to read and text (bigger keyboard)!

A cool feature I found are the “live tiles”. The wallpapers move. It works with photos too! I was taking pictures of the cats and I noticed when swiping between the pictures, I could actually SEE the cats turning their heads. It scared me at first. I thought maybe I was having  a dizzy spell… but I figured that couldn’t be it, know why? Because I’m taking care of myself! 😀 I showed Don, to make sure he saw it too. He did and told me to hold my finger down on the photo. I did and was blown away. I’m pretty sure I remember back before the phone was even released, Apple airing a commercial about the live photos but I didn’t really understand how it worked or why you’d want it. I still don’t know how it works, but it’s pretty freaking cool.

In addition to the phone, the sales girl was talking to me about headphones. Remember the number one drawback to the iPhone 7? No headphone jack. I don’t know what I was flipping out about. I should’ve figured Apple had my back. There is an adapter included. Crisis averted. In addition to the adapter, they’ve included their own set of earbuds with the appropriate connector for the 7 plus. For these reasons, I initially declined a second set of earbuds. Why I decided to do “this” when I had a time constraint is beyond me… oh yeah, I have a little bit of an impulsive side. So, honestly, this time crunch was working in T-Mobile’s favor and after hearing how much I’d “be saving because of the super low down payment” I conceded. Did I mention I had to be somewhere??? I wasn’t even really sure what all I’d done but I needed to leave.

“Can you sync these phones up for me?” I asked

“It’s in your Cloud” she said.

“Are you sure? I don’t exactly trust my Cloud…”

“It’s all there” she assured me.

“It’s just, I have pictures of my sister on this phone and she passed in May so I won’t get any more…”

“Ya know, let’s back it up just in case. Everything SHOULD be there but…”

“Thanks”

Since it was going to take awhile, she agreed to get everything set up for me. Case and screen protector on, earbuds sync’ed up etc. All I had to do was come pick it up when I was done with my group.

I signed (my life away, I’m sure) paperwork and flew outta there.

When I got home that night, Don wanted to know what all was in the bag. I wasn’t even entirely sure. I sat down and started to pull things out.

“What is this?” He said.

“Ear buds” I replied.

“These are Beats.  Beats by Dre.”

“So, if you know what they are, why are you asking me?”

“Do YOU know what these are?” he asked

“Ear buds”

“No. Well, yes but these are the top of the line. These are EXPENSIVE. Like, Natalie expensive.”

“Ok…”

“I’m just jealous is all.”

I take them from him and look them over. They were nice. Very nice. They are ear buds but you don’t have to wedge them into your ear holes. They perch just outside of the ear canal and hook over your ear so you don’t have to worry about them falling off. They are wireless. The sound AMAZING.

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I kept turning the box over, looking for a price but there wasn’t one listed.

Well, I found the receipt today. Holy … Yeah, they’re Natalie expensive… and, I’m keeping them.

“Music is what feelings sound like”.

I didn’t really mean to turn this post into a plug for Apple or Dre but… it’s the majority of what I’ve been aware of lately.

That Makes Sense-Finally

I had an appointment yesterday with my med provider. We talked about the usual: sleeping (um, no), appetite (eh, I guess), mood? Bad.

“Are you taking your meds as prescribed?” she asked

“As prescribed? Sorta. Sometimes. No, not really” I confess.

I have a pharmacy that packages my pills for me now. It’s been a Godsend. Anyway, three pills come in a square. I have nine pills to take in the morning, so three squares. The third square contains a 100 mg pill of Provigil, a 200 mg pill of Provigil and a Naltrexone. The Provigil I take for “excessive daytime sleepiness” and the Naltrexone was prescribed shortly after Natalie passed to help with any possible impulsiveness.

Generally speaking, I’m not supposed to take the Provigil after 2:00 pm as it will disrupt my sleep. More and more I’ve found myself forgetting to take my day pills until well after 2 and have gotten into the habit of taking the day and night pills at bedtime, with the exception of that third breakfast square. Better late than never, right?

Well, it turns out, the Wellbutrin can also give a boost of energy.

She takes my blood pressure with the electronic monitor and frowns at the results.

“I’m going to take this manually”

I shrugged and rolled up my other sleeve.

After several minutes, she furrowed her brow and asked if I was on any blood pressure medications.

“Three, I think”

She looked back through my chart.

“Lisinopril, Metoprolol and Hydrochlorothiazide. I wonder if that’s too much?”

I shrugged again.

“Then again” she said “if you’re not taking your Provigil and not getting that stimulant, you don’t need as much blood pressure medication…”

“What is my blood pressure?”

“95/60. I have patients with readings in that area but… that’s not your normal and the people with numbers like that are in their 90’s. This would explain why it’s felt so much harder to do things. Low blood pressure means less circulation, less oxygen, less energy. Let’s not add any new medications, let’s just figure out how we can get you to take your meds when you’re supposed to. How can I help with that?”

We came up with a plan and I left relieved to have an explanation for why I was feeling SO MUCH MORE miserable than ever before.

I mean, I am still grieving. I know that. I’m not expecting to be back to “normal” or even a “new normal” quite yet.

I’m missing Natalie. And Noah. And my friend John who recently moved 2,000 miles away. I struggle with how to grieve and celebrate and honor them.

I’m still talking to Natalie and getting signs from her. Still angry and full of hurt but I keep her around. Around my neck. Literally.

urn-necklace
Sterling Silver Urn Necklace

One thing that helped with Noah was a baby blanket… Shar made a blanket for Noah.

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And John? We’ve been friends for so long…

 

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It’s a great opportunity to brush up on my pen pal skills!

Yay life and loss… (eye roll and pom-pom cheers)