Editors note: If you’re able to get through this entire post, you deserve a gold star and a Book It! pin.
To my husband, my mother, my sisters, my friends, my neighbors and anyone else I may have barked at, scowled at, sulked away from or cried to during the last … oh, let’s call it a month:
I’ve been a surly bitch.
Unappreciative and crabby.
No scratch that. I’ve been downright beastly. My outward appreciation for life’s little gifts has been snuffed out lately by sadness, strife, underarm sweat, sleeplessness and the care and keeping of a tantrum-prone Henry.
It’s 800 degrees every day in Florida. In the morning, it’s 600 degrees. At night, it’s 700 degrees. During the day? It’s 800 motherf**king degrees.
More than once I’ve exclaimed out loud to anyone within ear shot, that August can suck it. The bugs are at their biggest. (Thank god the 902-page September issue of Vogue arrived so I can annihilate cockroaches three at a time.) The ozone is at its thinnest. The grass is at its brownest. Homeless alcoholics are at their rankest and the general public is at its meanest. (Last week a woman at Target stormed out of my line because I had 11 items on the 10-items-or-less belt. “So much for the EXPRESS LANE!” she snarled. “Lady, you’re shopping at Target not diffusing bombs. Chill the eff out,” I snapped IN MY HEAD. In real life I glared at her while Henry reached for the candy display and tore open a package of peanut M&Ms. “HENRY WANT CANDY MAMA!”)
August is to Floridians what February is to Buffalonians. Though September offers little relief in the temperature department, it does at least signal a fresh start, or at least that’s what the she devils responsible for the September issue of Vogue would like me to believe. Matte foundation is in! Ultra glossy hair is in! Hyper-modern, earthy fabrics with purified lines are in! Cover girl Jennifer Lawrence is so spontaneous, so super talented and from Kentucky no less! Now carry on with your fabulous lives, darling Vogue readers. Oh, and in case you weren’t invited, a socialite no one has ever heard of got married in Vienna wearing a couture Chanel gown that required 11 fittings. You can see this bride in all her puffy-sleeved glory surrounded by two dozen taxidermied ram heads on page 836 of the magazine.
Why do I still subscribe to this pretentious rag? (The writing is sometimes good? The pictures are pretty? I feel more sophisticated having it on my kitchen table? I use it to kill bugs in the house?)
I digress. My Charlie Sheen-sized mood swings are the result of what I like to call a cumulative effect made worse by the fact that I’m currently suffering from all-day swamp-ass and my two-year-old’s Hulkian tantrums.
But who the hell wants to hear me complain? Nobody. Not even me.
But guess what? I’m doing it anyway.
Why? Because I know a woman who every time anyone shares a shred of bad news, she counters it with, “But there are dying children in Africa.” (ie: “You’re so self-absorbed. Eat a Valium and be more gracious.)
But I don’t know how to be 100 percent thankful and virtuous all the time. Although I find it unseemly to complain, especially on the internet, I feel it’s important to vent sometimes. Plus, I have difficulty writing bouncy little blog posts when the creative pipeline is clogged by life’s not-so-bouncy moments. I’m a writer and writers expel everything through words. When we’re rendered incapable of expelling things through words, we get mentally constipated, or what the INDUSTRY likes to call “blocked.” This is why blogging, for many writers, works a lot like a brain enema.
Where was I?
Oh right. Bitching about my shitty August.
It started with Joe’s broken guitar, which fell victim to the wrath of Henry’s Hulkian tantrums. Then the pug started having seizures, which turned into convulsions, which resulted in a prescription for Phenobarbital, which resulted in blindness, muscle weakness, poop, pee and vomit in the house – sometimes all at once and sometimes at 4 a.m. The vet now fears it’s a brain tumor and we’re inclined to think he’s right.
Then Henry cut his face open on his bedroom door. Then it healed (sort of) and three days later he barreled down the back porch steps, landed on a concrete slab and reopened the wound.
Then we learned that the broken shower knob we’ve been turning for three months with pliers can only be repaired by sawing a BIGASS hole in our living room wall.
Then I agreed to watch my sister-in-law’s dog so she and her family could spend the weekend in Orlando. Given Cubbie’s condition, I was nervous about taking in a second dog, even just for two nights. But this spunky little terrier immediately lifted our spirits … until my sister Heelya’s 90-pound bull mastiff attacked it 24 hours into our dog-sitting, resulting in a gruesome bite, a dozen sutures and a horrifying drainage tube.
Then someone got a hold of Joe’s debit card number and stole $400 from our bank account.
Then Henry decided he no longer needs to sleep at night. We’re now going on Week Three of him getting out of bed every three hours asking to play.
Then my 82-year-old Papa ran himself over with a farm tractor. (He’s currently making a miraculous recovery at a rehab facility in Buffalo.)
And then there’s the freelance journalism biz. Let’s not even go there.
To help cope with this stress (but mostly to escape Henry’s Hulkian tantrums), I bought an online coupon for 10 discounted yoga classes at a studio near my house.
I took my first class Saturday morning after sleeping NOT AT ALL because Henry was up every hour on the hour asking for, in no particular order, pancakes, Legos, Joe’s iPhone, his panda bear book, more blankets, less blankets, Cheerios and a rocket ship.
This particular yoga class was a HOT yoga class, which meant the heat in the studio was cranked to 95 degrees. (Yeah, I’m an idiot. HEAT.)
The class was packed with toned 20-somethings in leggings and adorable messy buns. There were two dudes: the paunchy father of one of the toned 20-somethings who was clearly dared into taking a class with his daughter, and a leather-faced James Taylor-type whose ropey arms and legs made him look more like a yogi Ken doll circa 1972.
I tried my best to blend in, bending and perspiring like it was No Big Deal, pretending like I hadn’t avoided yoga for TWO YEARS and that I totally knew what Utkaṭāsana meant. (Chair pose. Duh.)
But I was stiff and don’t forget, bitchy.
When the class dropped down into side crow (Pārśva Bakāsana, if you’re in the club) I dropped down too, collapsing in a wet heap on my mat.
“If your body doesn’t want to go there, don’t force it,” the instructor said, directing the comment at no one in particular so that it wouldn’t be obvious she was speaking to me. “Do only what your body allows.”
So I allowed my side crow to fly the coop and instead retreated into child’s pose, where I was forced to smell myself. I smelled like B.O. and a bad attitude.
I finished the class feeling thoroughly sore, overheated and surprisingly, a little less sorry for myself.
“I’m on my way to cheerful again!” I sang on the drive home. “Serenity now!”
I walked into the house. Toys were everywhere. Cartoons were blasting on the tube. Joe was chasing Henry around the living room with a cup of yogurt. “Have another spoonful please,” he pleaded with the Hulk.
“MAMA HOME!” Henry cried, wrapping his arms around my waist.
He quickly pulled away. Recoiled is a better way to put it.
“Mama wet,” he said. “Mama dirty.”
My serenity was slipping away and my body was starting to ache. I retreated to the shower. Henry followed me into the bathroom.
“Mama take shower,” he chirped. “Mama take dirty shirt off.”
“Joe!” I yelled. “Get the narrator out of the bathroom!”
Joe, still pleading with Henry to eat more yogurt, removed the narrator from our bathroom.
I took the 10-minute mom shower, followed by the five-minute mom dressing, followed by the two-minute mom makeup. From the bathroom, I watched Cubbie wander drunkenly down the hallway. Disorientated and blind, he bumped into the wall twice before locating his food and water bowls in the kitchen.
Because my dog is sick and because the only thing that seems to make him happy right now is food, I feel I must at all times feed him when he scratches at his bowls. Henry feels this way too.
“Henry feed Cubbie!” I heard him yell from the living room. “Henry DO!”
Now, because my dog is sick and because my child is wild, I feel I must intercept every toddler/pug encounter because for obvious reasons Cubbie does not take kindly to Henry’s attempts at feeding, petting or kissing.
I swiftly made my way to the dog’s bowls – swiftly being the key word.
Suddenly my feet started slipping, slipping … I looked like the cartoon bad guy who loses it on a banana peel.
Cubbie in his quest for more food had overturned his water bowl and I unknowingly stepped swiftly into a puddle
I went down. HARD. My sore hot yoga ass (and back) hit the tile floor with a loud thud. Joe heard it. Henry heard it. Because we now live in a house where people and dogs routinely FALL DOWN, Joe and Henry immediately knew what happened.
They rushed to the kitchen.
There I sat, splayed out on my side in a sundress and two-minute mom makeup, soaked (again) and crying.
“Oh shit, you OK?” Joe said.
To be honest, I didn’t feel like moving. I felt like sitting on the floor and throwing myself a fabulous pity party. Joe cast me a concerned look.
“Seriously. You OK?” he asked again.
I whimpered. Said nothing. For all he knew I was paralyzed. During the 45 seconds I laid miserably on the floor, I daydreamed about my fabulous pity party. Vogue would photograph the occasion of course. I’d wear Valentino. Maybe Kate Middleton would come, leaving Prince George at home with his 22 nannies. Elton John would be there. Beyonce. Those models from that Robin Thicke video.
We’d all lay on the floor in couture gowns and roll around in wet dog food, crying and feeling sorry for ourselves and especially sorry for me. Vogue would describe my pity party as the most lavish pity party in town and I’d be crowned the saddest, most fabulous host.
The fantasy was cut short as all pity parties (even the most lavish ones) must come to an end.
“Mama OK?” Henry asked.
“Mama OK,” I said.
Joe helped me to my feet. Henry tugged on my wet dress.
“Mama all wet again,” he said.
“Yes,” I sighed. “Mama all wet again.”