Monday, July 21, 2014

Vulnerability and Fear

Last night, I went to orientation for the Arizona Roller Derby league (AZRD). I've been wanting to join roller derby for years, but always feared the pain or having my bones crushed or septum pushed through the back of my know...the usual. I finally got the guts up to go. I was so nervous I could've easily puked. It is exceedingly rare that I get nervous or anxious about anything. I wasn't even concerned about giving birth, for Pete's sake! I was nervous about this...and it was just a silly meeting, not even try-outs!

Turns out, the meeting was great, I want to do it, but finances won't allow for it at the moment. I posted as such on my personal FB page and was immediately met with fundraising ideas. I was at once grateful and uncomfortable. Here's the deep, dark truth of it - when the fundraiser doesn't work, I'm going to feel rejected, unworthy, unimportant.

This is a fear of mine from way back. I tell myself (and others) that when I'm at the store in my hometown and I run into someone I know, I avoid them because I don't care. The honest truth is that I don't want to put myself out there only to discover that the person knows not who I am, that I've been forgotten, that I'm not memorable. (The amount of loathe I hold for this truth is off the charts, but my goal in this blog has always been stark truth, especially when it's uncomfortable, so here I am laying myself bare.) When my blog posts don't get shared (or even read) and my fifteen-thousandth 30 day block goes unnoticed, which the members of the blogging in-crowd get even the most banal posts shared hundreds of times and their first 30 day block gets a petition started and national news coverage due to the outrage and outcry, I feel forgotten, not memorable, not worthy.

So, when a friend says to me, "Amy, if the potato salad guy can get THOUSANDS on his GoFundMe, you can certainly get your derby equipment" and another friend says, "Amy, your karma is good and you deserve this," my only thoughts are, "Ya, but the potato salad guy had a gimmick to make him memorable and I'm not usually the one whose karma comes back to them...ever."

I'm ever-so grateful that my friends care enough about me, heck, that a couple strangers care enough about me, to spend their time, energy, and hard-earned cash on me. I am. On the flip side, I'm waiting for the inevitable. I'm waiting for their plan to fail, not for lack of effort or heart on their part, but because it's me. And I'm not throwing myself a pity party. I'm simply laying out my feelings, fears, and vulnerabilities.

I'm also not writing this in effort to subversively and manipulatively ask for donations. I'm not linking anything or giving away any identifying information. It's not about that.

It's just about feelings. I am going to be humiliated when this doesn't work. Potato-salad-guy can raise thousands and I won't even be able to meet a goal of a few hundred. So, truth is, that's why I didn't want to try. Yes, I have a ridiculous level of pride that won't allow me to ask for loans when I need financial assistance. That's certainly part of my discomfort. The larger part, though, is that if I tried to raise funds and couldn't, I would feel humiliated, rejected, unworthy, unimportant, unmemorable, and humiliated (Did I mention that twice? By design...).

Here I am writing mostly to my friends, saying, first and foremost, "Thank you." Thank you from the depths of my heart. I have lovely friends and for you all I am truly grateful. Here I am writing also to the few strangers who have already donated, saying, "Thank you." You are the ones building up your good karma. That you'd do that for me amazes me. Here I am writing to those who avoid me in the store, who don't miss me at reunions (family, school, or otherwise), who have forgotten me, saying, "I see you. I see you and I'm simply rejecting you before you can reject me." Here I am writing to those who feel as I do, saying, "You are not alone. I certainly don't think we're in the healthiest head space in this regard, but you're not alone and I hope that is comforting to at least one of you."

This whole vulnerability thing really sucks sometimes.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Beat the Heat with a Kid Wash

I posted this original link (here) to my personal FB feed, saying I was going to make it for my son. A friend of mind said she wanted to do something like it, but didn't think she was as handy as I am. I'm here to tell you (and her), this requires very little handiness. You, too, can make this radness!

Even if you mess up, like I did, it's easily fixed with a little vision (and, perhaps, another trip...or the hardware store). That I messed up and had to modify, along with making some improvements for the sake of sturdiness, is the reason for me writing this post and making new instructions, as opposed to just linking to the original post (though, that one's awesome, obviously).

Let's get crackin'!

First, you'll need to hit the hardware store and your garage to gather the following supplies:
12 10' pieces of 3/4" PVC
15 3/4" PVC slip T-joints
7 3/4" PVC slip elbow joints
4 3/4" PVC slip cross joints
4 3/4" PVC slip caps
1 3/4" PVC slip hose connector
PVC primer
PVC glue
1/16" drill bit
tape measure
hacksaw or PVC cutter
decoration (pool noodles, nylon rope, sponges, plastic table cloth cut into strips...go crazy)

Now, for the tedious part - the cutting. Measure out your pieces and cut them up. Make sure to mark them as you go, because you are going to have a LOT of pieces at the end and they're all going to run together at some point. This is not a fun part of the project, but, daunting though it may seem, it goes fairly quickly and will only make you swear a couple of times.

The fun part is here - assembly. Ok, well, I think this is the fun part anyway. Use this picture as a map.
These are slip joints, so they'll easily slide right onto one another. The original link calls for PVC glue just at the junction where the hose adapter meets one of the T-joints. However, the original link also says that the first try with water caused it to blow apart everywhere due to water pressure. There was no way I was going to spend all that time sawing and fitting to just have it break apart. As such, I took the time to prime and glue each piece. Now, this also means I won't be able to take it apart and store it when not in use. For me, this isn't an issue, as we are in central Arizona and, even if we want it moved, it's light enough to shift to the side of the house out of sight. I'd rather have the sturdiness than have to take it apart and put back together every season. It's just a matter of personal preference. Do not use the primer and glue anywhere you want to keep pretty, because you will spill, drip, and slop.

Once you've glued, fitted, and assembled, you get to drill the water holes. There's no right or wrong here. Just have at it. I put some so that the water would squirt down from the 3' pieces, some that would squirt inward from the vertical pieces, some that would squirt inward from the horizontal pieces, and even a couple on the tops of the caps in the middle of the wash. Those holes will seem teeny, but, believe you me, they'll kick out the water, so go crazy and have fun!

The final part is the decoration. The only rule is to not cover the holes you made. Other than that, decorate away! You can see I hung some noodles, wrapped some noodles, hung sponges, and tied strips of tablecloth. I just wanted it to look and feel fun as my son ran through it. Your doesn't have to look like mine. I'd sure love to see what yours DOES look like, though, so, by all means, leave me a comment with a picture of your finished product. Most importantly, enjoy it. We sure do!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tail Docking, Ear Cropping, and Circumcision - A Comparison

What is ...?

"... is the intentional removal of a portion of a ...."

"One method involves putting a ligature around the ..., which cuts off the blood supply and causes the ... to fall off in a matter of days. This is the method used by many ...

The other method is amputation with either surgical scissors or a scalpel."

"... is generally done on two- to 10-day-old ..., without anesthesia. The cut goes through skin [and] nerve endings."

Arguments FOR...

"Today, arguments in favor of ... generally fall into two categories:

To prevent injury and infection ...
To maintain ... standards"

"Proponents believe very young ... do not feel pain during .... They believe ... are less developed than other ... at birth, with less sensitive nervous systems."

"Proponents also cite hygiene problems in ... as a reason for ..."

"The argument for ... is a reduction in ... infections..."

"Mislabeling these procedures as 'cosmetic' is a severe mischaracterization that connotes a lack of respect and knowledge of history..."

"..., as prescribed in certain ... standards, are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving ... character, enhancing good health, and preventing injuries..."

Arguments AGAINST...

"The practice of ... has come under much closer scrutiny in the U.S. recently. We’re late to the game, as these procedures have been restricted or banned entirely in many European countries for years."

"Opponents question the necessity for these cosmetic alterations and voice concern for the pain and suffering of the ... that undergo the procedures."

"A ... have lots of nerve endings, and the pain this surgery would cause without anesthesia is extreme."

"... involves the surgical removal of around two-thirds of the .... Pain medication is not routinely given after a ..."

"... can also disfigure the ..., leaving them scarred."

"... for cosmetic reasons is neither medically advisable nor beneficial to ..."

"Just as there is a use and purpose for every organ and appendage you were born with, so it is with your ..."

"If ... weren’t important to ..., they would have been born without them."

"There is also a risk of formation of painful neuroma (nerve tissue scarring) in the stump of a ..."

"... for cosmetic reasons are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient. These procedures cause pain and distress, and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss and infection..."

So, which one is which? Trick question. They all, every one of them, refer to ALL THREE procedures. These quotes are from an article on tail docking and ear cropping (linked below), BUT you'll find ALL the same numbers and arguments regarding circumcision of infants (also linked below). Yes, really.

I'd say that by circumcising your son, you're treating him no better than a common animal, but there's nothing OK about treating animals this way either. Stop it. Not your body (human or otherwise), not your choice.

Now, go the step further. Don't just "like" this article in your news or Twitter feed. Don't just comment anonymously on the blog. Share. Share with everyone you know. They don't have to be pet owners or pregnant women. Share in the hopes that they'll share and they'll share and and and... Share to do your part to change the world and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Several articles on infant circumcision can be found here.

Full article on ear cropping and tail docking can be found here.

Monday, July 14, 2014


We all remember things based on a bevy of factors such as our pasts, feelings, presence in the moment, even our physical senses. You and I can be side by side in the exact same situation and have starkly contrasting memories when we reminisce years down the road. Further, our memories of childhood, for example, are memories of a child, of course, that we may see differently as adults, but that are still our memories nevertheless. That doesn't mean one of us is right or wrong, just that we recall differently. This also doesn't mean one person's recollection should be discounted because it differs from the other's.

Let me offer an example of that which I am writing, if I may. A friend of mine from high school recounted a story to me a few years ago. According to her, she, I, and another of our friends went to a restaurant together, but the other friend and I jokingly left her out of the car and alone in the parking lot as we left. Honestly, I have tried and tried, but have no conscious memory of this at all. She does. Why? A man approached her int he parking lot and scared the snot out of her. She remembers, because it was stamped into her brain with the indelible black ink of fear. I don't, if I were to guess, for two reasons: one, because I saw it as a harmless joke when we did it and two, because afterward, when she got into the car crying, I felt incredible guilt at having hurt and frightened a good friend. Here is the important part: I do not doubt the veracity of her story whatsoever. Nor do I dismiss her feelings. I have apologized since hearing it and will continue to express my regret regardless of whether or not I recall the action for which I am remorseful. She says I hurt her, so I did. I care about her, so I care about her feelings.

She doesn't have a revisionist memory, because it differs from mine. She has HER memory. I do not have a revisionist memory, because I recall things from my childhood that others found less important or would rather forget. I have MY memory. I anticipate my son having memories from this time and beyond in his childhood that I may not remember in the future. What seems negligible to me right now, may be of the utmost importance to him. I try to take everything important to him now as important to me, because HE is important to me, but I know that there have been and will continue to be times that I fail, simply by nature of my fallible humanness. When he brings to me memories of his past, of our pasts together, I will listen, I will validate, I will empathize, and, if necessary and possible, I will apologize and rectify. What is important to my son is important to me. What is important to me is to not dismiss or negate him simply because I failed in some way, big or small. Finally, what I vow is to never tell him that his experiences did not happen, it's just his "revisionist memory," and that he needs to simply get over it and move on. Never. I know that that feels like. I vow to learn from that mistake others have made.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Let Me Count the Ways

(I love thee enough to post a photo with bedhead and puffy sleep eyes)
Mama's Sonnet #36

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee more than getting rid of Dada's old clothes
More than drinking from a (lead- free) hose
More than nunus*, toast, burritos, and cheese
I love thee more than laughing so hard I have to pee(s)
More than sewing in a straight line without tension issues
Even more than a fruitful nose blow into a handful of tissues
I love thee more than Atticus,   George, and Lenny from my books
I love thee more than a room full of award-winning pastry cooks
More than a bubble bath and bed by eight
I love thee more than autumn here in the Grand Canyon state
More than the smell of orange blossoms in my hometown
More than the red curly hairs abundant on your crown
I shall but love thee sleeping, sitting, or jumping up and down.

*nunus = how my son says noodles, how we, consequently, say noodles, and how I imagine we shall forevermore say noodles

Sunday, July 6, 2014

"Dada is a Schmuck", kinda

Zen Son cannot say 'sh' sounds at the beginning of words - they end up as 'f' sounds. No big. Today, Zen Husband and I were moving some furniture and I called him a "schmuck," which Zen Son promptly picked up on and has been his own special way...all day. It. Is. Awesome.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

30 Things Series #21: Describe My Relationship with My Parents

image by Life's Classroom
I continue to write the series, 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me, for him to read someday, but let me tell you, this one and the last are testing my will to go on. How am I supposed to write about these topics knowing full well they're going to cause problems for me? Ugh. Let's just get it over with, so I can move on to better and brighter entries.

My Relationship with My Dad:
He's not my dad. He hasn't been my dad since I was a kid. My parents got divorced when I was 6, but did a lot of separating and reuniting over the years before that. It sucked not knowing if Dad lived with us that day or not. When he lived with us, he was great. Even when they got divorced, he did a good job of coming on Tuesdays and Thursdays (one day for each of us) to take us out on dates with him. We also saw him every other weekend. At one point, we lived with him at my grandparents' house. He was around and we adored him. He did an abrupt about-face when he got remarried and, especially, when they started having kids of their own. Let me be crystal clear here: I do NOT blame or resent my sisters. My dad is responsible for my dad. Those girls are my sisters and I love them, but the timing of their arrival, unfortunately coincides with a painful and confusing time in my life. The oldest of my younger sisters was born and I wasn't invited to be around for a very long time. We never once, after she was born, spent another weekend at their house (not because of choices we made). When they became pregnant with my second sister, my step-mom and sister moved in with her parents in Utah and left my dad behind to sell the house before moving with them. I imagined we might see him every other weekend again. Nope. He would get off work on Friday and drive straight up to Utah and return late Sunday. Every. Single. Weekend. He would tell us, "I need to see my family." Evidently, we were no longer his family, because he sure as hell didn't see us. It never changed after that. Eventually, he moved to Utah, but that was no biggie, since we didn't see him anyway. He once told me, as I was asking him to come to California to see us, "Why do I want to come to California? There's nothing in California for me." Except two kids. Small potatoes, though. I moved up there after high school as a last ditch effort to cling to a relationship I imagined might still be there and, more importantly to me, to develop a relationship with my sisters. Their friends and acquaintances always seemed surprised by my presence. I picked my sisters up at daycare and the provider was shocked, saying, "Wow, they really DO have a sister?! We always thought they were making you up like an imaginary friend!" I asked my dad, "When people ask you how many kids you have, what do you say?" His honest response was, "Three. It's too hard to say that I have three from this marriage and two from another."
As things stand now, at 36 years old, I consider him a friend on the outskirts. He's by no means in the inner circle. He hasn't acknowledged my birthday in probably 15 or 16 years. He does, however, tell me he knows me better than most. How wrong he is. How sadly, woefully wrong. I call him when I need advice on flooring (his profession). I call him when.....nope, that's about it. When I do call him, I hear about my sisters and how amazing they are (they are) and how amazing their friends are even. I hear everything but what I long ago stopped expecting to hear from my father - real words of love and affection for me, the real me, who I really am.
That's my relationship with my dad.

My Relationship with My Step-Mom:
Out of the four relationships, this one is certainly the most strained and distant. I've never felt good enough or just, I don't know, enough-enough for her. Ever since she and my dad had my three half-sisters, she's made it a point to call us step-siblings, as opposed to what we are. It hurts me. She's never made any contact with me of her own volition. She's never spoken a word to my son. At our last family gathering, she didn't even acknowledge my presence. When she and my dad got engaged, my brother and I were told that we were problems - I believe the exact words were, "She doesn't like that I have kids and doesn't like feeling like she's second banana." I lived with she and my dad after college. It was my attempt to develop a relationship with my little sisters, who were so much younger than me and knew me not at all. I can count the number of times she spoke to me on one hand. Earlier that year, I made them a calendar with pictures of my brother and I. When I moved in, I looked for it - it was nowhere, but there was a calendar of my little sisters. The only picture of me in the entire house was shoved in what was called "the deep dark room," which, incidentally and fittingly, became my bedroom. I never socialized enough, went to the right church ward, dated correctly, ate the right foods, exercised properly, took classes early enough...nothing. Seriously, these were all things said to me at some point along with just so much more. My relationship with my step-mom? Non-existent and tense, to say the very least. I'm simply not well liked or approved of and it's taken me more than a quarter of a century to even become this OK with it.

My Relationship with My Step-Dad:
Out of the four relationships, this one is the closest. I'm struggling to write this and the next section, though. I was told much too much about my grandparents when I was much too young and while I believe you'll be far older than I was when I heard all I heard, I still don't want to be the cause of any rift that forms between you and the grandparents to whom you are so close at the time I'm writing this. When you are older, if you wish, I'll delve deeper into the complexities of my relationships with my step-dad and mom. For now, while you are so very close to your Papa and Mammy, understandably so, because they are magnificent and deeply loving grandparents, I think it's most important to know that I am close to your Papa. He's not perfect and I've learned some hard lessons along the road of our relationship in regards to the dangers of putting people on pedestals, but I love him and he loves me. Most importantly, he desperately loves you and you love him right back.

My Relationship with My Mom:
You're smart enough to figure out that this is a caring, but tense relationship. Same goes here as I wrote in your Papa's section. She's the one who has been there through my entire life, so our relationship has the rockiest history just by virtue of having the most opportunity for those rocky moments to crop up. She's made a lot of mistakes and our brief foray into counseling together proved helpful in getting us to rebuild some of the bridges we burned between us. She loves me. I love her, too. We are similar in many ways. I always tell her that I got none of her and my dad's good genes and all of the crappy ones - I'm not athletic like them, but I have a terrible temper like both of them. I don't have their body types, but I do have their tendency to judge. She has so many good qualities and I got precious few of them, but I made dang sure to pick up all the malarkey. That's my problem, I know, but it certainly makes for some interesting interactions when we both demonstrate our poor qualities at the same time. The woman adores you, though. Never could I ask for a better Mammy for you. Dada and I were just talking the other day about what a great job she does at understanding you (obviously, we don't think it's hard to understand you, but you're three and some might) and, if she does have a problem, she always tries to figure it out with questions and context clues. She very rarely just tries to placate you just to get through the conversation. As a result, she gets to know you well and better all the time. This is so important to me - more important than anything else, because YOU are more important to me than anything and anyone else.

The take-away from this for you, sugar pie, should be that:
1) you're loved a million times infinity
2) I'm striving every day to give you a childhood I didn't have and I am so very sorry for any of my shortcomings in this (and every, really) regard
3) people aren't perfect - love them anyway