TODAY I WOKE UP IN A MOOD LIKE CHICKENS

Fowl.

Mother’s Day! Mother’s Day! It’s finally here!

Mother’s Day! Mother’s Day! The worst day of the year.

But, I exaggerate.

And yet, my relationship with the day has been a bit… fraught.

One of the first Mother’s Days I remember is me, in my parents’ small, blue-collar-brick twin, upstairs, leaning against the wall between the bathroom and my parents’ room, holding a macaroni card or some such child-made card, and crying. Next to me was my father, knocking on the door to my parents’ bedroom, holding a box that had, as I remember it, a pearl necklace in it, and asking my mother to be reasonable and come out. Inside their room my mother was crying and yelling, and very very angry.

Why?

Well, maybe Dad had cheated on her, again. Maybe he was trying not just to wish her a happy Mother’s Day, but to also get back in her good graces, again. Maybe the pearl necklace was from a guy named Snookie and Dad bought it from Snookie who got it after it had fallen off the back of a truck, and Ma was angry because the thing was most likely stolen. Though Ma wasn’t, in general, too concerned about money-saving deals that were nefarious, I do have a memory of hearing Snookie’s name thrown out at us through the wooden door, but that could be a conflation with another day we stood, and I cried outside that wooden door. Or the necklace could have been a cheap fake, ’cause Snoookie sold those too, and he could always talk my dad into thinking it was more special than it was, and my mom could tell the difference, and it made her feel like trash when he bought her trash.

I remember being small, that day. So, four or younger. I remember leaning into the wall for support, literally unable to hold myself up, and in my left hand, in my fingertips, the card I so desperately did not want to smudge or crinkle. I think I had made it at Sunday school, with great joy and anticipation, and it had all come to naught, and there was naught I could fucking do about it. I remember feeling a great hopelessness wash over me. I remember seeing, for the first time, that a card was a useless thing, really, against the problems we throw them at, and wondering why they had told me differently at church. It was my first break with religion.

There were times, in the ensuing years, where there was a day with my Grandmom, and pretty clothes on us, and things were more or less okay, if boring. I don’t remember ever holding anything in my hand that my mother was pleased to receive. I think my father, the Lothario, was much better at making me feel like he desired my presents and my presence. He was looking for women who were crazy about him, and he always found one of those on my face.

Later, as an adult, it became largely about going through the motions, finding a card to express to my mom how freaking amazing she was, which, truth be told I often did feel, and, truth be told, I often didn’t feel too. Choosing the card at the mall, or, as a grownup, the drugstore, could take an hour or more of a hard-target search for one she would find appealing, and I could find palatable, believable. I usually chose funny, and she usually wanted sappy.

Later, as I worried I’d never marry, and then after I got married as an older bride, Mother’s Day became the poke in the eye to tell me I wasn’t pregnant. And there was another year gone. Oh my god those damn eggs were so freaking old! Hurry, Baby, hurry! Get those eggs in the pan before it is too late! But it was too late. And when I started trying, with hubby in tow, to jump start the damn things with medical help, my mother kept remarking to me, “Well, I don’t know why you’re working at this so hard, wasting money. You never said you wanted kids before. Just let it go.” And though the brick twin was long gone at that point, and my parents’ marriage too, I could feel myself leaning into that wall again, next to the little bathroom with the water bugs in it, feeling as if whatever I had in my fingers, pregnancy test, hormone pills, injectables, was a thing I did not want to crinkle, and as if it was also a useless desperate thing that would never work on the problems I threw it against. And I was right.

This body, my body, so much of my experience of it has come from outside of me, from the comments of others over whether it was pretty enough, or tall enough, or thin enough, or properly coiffed, or busty enough, whether I had too much in the thigh area, whether my hair was the right color, whether my eggs were too old, whether my cramps were real, or my headaches severe, or my pregnancy false, or if my miscarriage was done enough to count, or how my uterus was growing the wrong things, creating an errant fruit salad with one fibroid like a cantaloupe, and one like an orange, and one like a strawberry, and a couple like grapes.

And so, onward and upward, to adoption. To waiting and waiting to become a knight of the motherhood. When, when would I get chosen? And a year passed, and another, and I wasn’t worried about the eggs aging anymore, but I was worried about the rest of me passing its expiration date. And watching those other mothers with their kids on the computer screen, in the park, on TV, was like cake crumbs sucked down the wrong pipe. We were always supposed to be celebrating, but this celebration was choking me.

And then, the prize. I got the prize! The day came that another womb’s perfect little creation was given over to me, and finally I was a mother, and no one could say any different.

Except that there are those people out there, who have been adopted by assholes who erased their culture or treated them mean, or those people who were adopted by okay or even great people, but, dammit, it was all done without their consent, and they did not, as adults, give retroactive consent. And it was and is just a fucked-up system. When I was waiting to adopt, those angry adoptees, those empty-armed birth mothers, they were not there, but after, they were everywhere, and I was a colonizing imperialist. There was a hierarchy, the baby, the birth mother, and me, the fake thing. And the focus is on pleasing first the baby, then the birth mother, and never the fake thing. And the fake thing must make things as wonderful as she can, and be ready to apologize for her parenting desires and imperialism, and acknowledge how she is not allowed in on the conversation, and she should be on standby, forever, waiting if needed to supply something to the other two, but never needing anything herself, parasite. And, of course, as an adoptive parent, if you thought about this all day you’d never have the freaking stamina to change a diaper, and since neither the adoptee or the birth mother is going to change the diaper, that diaper does need to be changed. Which is not to say that the birth mother didn’t want to change the diaper. And is not to say that she wouldn’t have changed the diaper if all the forces in the world that exist to disenfranchise women hadn’t disenfranchised her the fuck out of her baby. But, and this is also a fair point, you did not engage in that, know about that, or foster that, and, even if you did know about it then, or you do know about it now, there is not an action you can take to remedy it, and there is a person, small and vulnerable, who now is in a soiled diaper with no one to change it. And so you suck up all the vitriol for what you have done, for the mother lust that sent you to seek out someone else’s darling to parent, and you hide your joy, your unseemly unhallowed and unwanted love and glee, and you put your head down and cautiously, gently, blow a raspberry against a bare tummy, and change that poopy diaper.

And finally, I am a mother and no one can say any different.

Except that we don’t look even remotely related, her Asian features against my British ones.

And everyone would ask me if I was her aunt, her babysitter, her grandmother. Everyone who I don’t know, who happens to shop at Target or Food Lion needs to know; they need to know all about me, and I had better answer or they will follow and even yell questions, and it is all so obvious, but not in that glowing, “Aren’t you the perfect mom” way I’d always hoped for.

And it’s Mother’s Day.

And the other husbands are laying rose petals on the floor; you know those guys. You know who those bastards are who arrange for flower delivery, or private massages, or photo sessions in weirdly matching clothes, or sips of champagne. I’ll tell you who those bastards are; they are the bastards most of us aren’t married to. Most of us are married to working stiffs who don’t know what we should eat for dinner, who think “A nice card, yeah, a nice card and maybe the kid can make something.” And really what’s wrong with that, except that the bitches who have their own cooking shows or remodeling shows or “I’m rich, so watch me live my life on YouTube” shows push it in our faces that on this day their bastardy over-achieving husbands have come through again with “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams” for their sexy Madonna-mother-of-my-child wives. And so the nice card, and the macaroni picture from the kid, and the wilted dandelion from the yard, and you cook your own dinner, and you feel like it’s the same old day, and, mostly, it is all a bad play you’re forced to perform in, again.

And Father’s Day is so much easier. Dad’s have no expectations. They don’t really know what it is all about or why we are doing it. And though on Father’s Day the TV-Madonna-success wives put on a show of pomp and circumstance for us to marvel at as they dramatically worship their seed-depositing men, our men aren’t watching those shows, so they don’t know that is happening, and if they did watch them it would all seem ridiculous to them.

And today, Mother’s Day, is about keeping my mother from exploding. Finding something to do that the three of us can stomach that makes my mother (Hubby’s mom is mercifully dead) feel that attention has been paid in an appropriate enough way that she can report it to her friends.

So, Happy Mother’s Day, glorious mothers of all types and everywhere, can we finally stop doing this now?

UPDATE: My wonderful daughter and hubby gave me a great present this morning, a succulent garden in an old tin that they made themselves, fingers full of cactus needles, and a huge coffee holder for our road trip later with my mother, and a whole fun conversation with my daughter where we debated the spelling of one of our favorite expressions, mother-fucker, and is it that way, or muther-fucker, or mutha-fucka, and hubby feigned mock horror, which we needed so that we could play off of it, and there was coffee and bacon too! I love them. I love our little unit of three. I love our lives on lockdown too.

BANNED AGAIN and SCHOOL BOARD

Ahhhh, Facebook… more landmines than people.

Recently on a local FB group, “I Love Lewes,” someone asked where to buy appliances and I replied that, given our two main choices, Home Depot or Lowes, I buy from Lowes as Home Depot supported Trump.

BAM! I was frozen out of the group. Why? Because in Slower Lower Delaware, they love them some Trump.

AND I just found out today, thanks to Eastern Sussex Democrats, that a woman is running for school board who thinks that Black History is a Marxist plot.

Her name is Ashley Murray, and she’ll probably damn win. Her signs are all over my small town. If she wins she’ll be in office for 5 years.

I just want to give mad respect to all the liberal kids out there who graduate from college and move to red states or red areas and work to slowly turn them blue. It is not easy being blue in a red hot zone. But, if we don’t stand up, if we don’t shop with our vote in mind, and educate with our vote in mind, and live, always, with the affect our choices can make for better, or worse, on the world, on those who have less voice, are we really being good citizens of the world?

But, I confess, it can be exhausting.

And there is a reason all the expensive and fun places to live vote blue.

GREAT INSIGHT

I love Carolyn Hax’s advice column, though I don’t always agree with her (she’s a little too “You need people!” for me). Today she had a a great little bit of info. that I have to pass on:

“…your problem is begging for some sessions with a therapist. It hits the top three qualifications: 1. You have a pattern; 2. You don’t understand it; 3. You’re unhappy with it.”

Wow. All summed up in three points.

Have you ever been in therapy? What made you go, or what would make you go?

It’s funny to me that we’re so ready to figure out why our physical body is not on point, but not our mental-body.

SO YOU KNOW I GOT THAT VACCINE… TWICE

And now my RNA is in a tizzy.

Well, you know, I wake up 15 minutes earlier than my alarm now. And I go to bed 15 minutes earlier too. I am right on schedule, but 15 minutes fast. I feel in a rush all day, but I’m definitely getting my steps in.

Dave is all double-vaxxed too, and he is 14.5 minutes fast. But, you know, he’s larger and slower.

Dave also burps two-less times per day, so I asked him, I said, “Dave, can you get 63 more of those vaccines?” He didn’t think it was funny. The extra quiet is nice, though.

I never did burp much to speak of, but I did always ask everybody if they were sure about things. “You’re not hungry? I can make you a sandwich. No? Are ya sure?” ‘Cause, how do they know?

“I can get you another glass of- No? Are you sure?”

I still think those things, but they don’t seem to make it to my mouth now. It’s like the vaccine put up an RNA dam in my mouth. It won’t let me express my doubt in others verbally anymore. And that is a violation of my constitutional freedom, but you have to weigh it all together.

Like at the frozen yogurt. You can’t weigh the jimmies separate from the banana slices and the nuts separate from the caramel. You got to dump it all in together or you’re just wasting their containers and not getting a true picture of the pure volume of things. You don’t have to weight the pretty lime-green spoon though, so that is something for free right there. I recycle them right into the coffee-spoon drawer.

It made my arm sore. I mean it hurt. You shoulda seen my hair because I couldn’t reach up right to fluff like I like to. I don’t have a lot of hair, so I have to fluff it, and I went, after both vaccines, about 5 days on low fluff on one side. I was worried people were gonna think I just rolled out of bed or something, half-fluffed as I was. It was, safe to say, it was flat, honestly.

But today I was in my local food store, and we have a lot of disappointed Trump voters shopping in that food store, and, well, as usual, they were all around me, masks crooked, or under their noses, or protecting their precious beards only, or they took it up, and left their mouths out to talk, and the better to catch covid with, like a lacrosse basket. And normally, as much as the last year is normal, normally, I would be thinking, Oh Lord Jesus save me from these stupid mother-fuckers. And I would be feeling pretty desperate as the Lord Jesus isn’t a real thing any more than a mask under your nose stops transmission of disease, so there’s that. And I, never a fan of lacrosse, would be wishing for my field hockey stick from high school to wack them all away from me with. I imagined myself in a rainbow-cape, for gay pride solidarity, and yelling, “The Social Distancing Avenger says back, evil-mouth-breathers! Away from that elderly woman perusing the grapefruit! Get back, you there, encroaching in the freaking checkout line, I see you!” But, today, I was double-vaxxed. And I thought, bring-it idiots.

And so you throw all that in the yogurt cup and you weigh it up and I guess, Dave and me, we come out ahead.

DOUBLE-VAXX FOREVER!

By the way, well, there are the other things, just little, tiny, wholly imperceptible, because of the RNA changing, as it is all an experiment, you know, and well, it’s nothing really, but just, my toes, the change there, I mean; they’re webbed now, you know, morning after the second vaxx, sore arm, webbed toes, me and Dave. But, hey, we sure as heck swim better. And we just noticed the webbing; well, we noticed it that day, how you not gonna notice you got webbed toes? But we forgot to include it when we was weighing it all up here, now, about whether or not being vaccinated is better, and saying “Double-vaxx forever!” We forgot to add it in to the full picture of our experience, the frozen yogurt cup I was weighing up for you. But you know, at the real frozen yogurt, it don’t matter if you miss one or two things. Like you weigh up and you pay and you say, all wistful like, “Oh, you got those pretzels. I didn’t see those.” And the guy usually goes,

“Oh yeah, we got those; those are good. No prob, lady, take some.”

And you do, because, you know, it’s free pretzels.

And so you get all vaxxed, and you got webbed feet after, and you forgot to tell anybody on your blog until after the distracting spoon photo. It’s an accident. It happens.

But, hey. it was an accidental omission, not mentioning the webbed toes, and now you can swim better too. Swimming improvement, and free pretzels. No one calls that stealing.

HOW DID YOU PANDEMIC?

Were you bored?

It seems like the pandemic might be heading toward over.

We’re twice vaccinated, and as soon as my daughter is eligible, she will be vaccinated too.

I spent a lot of this pandemic time diving deeper into print news than I have ever done before. When things are unstable in the world, I like to be informed; it is how I keep calm. The news may not always be calming, but knowing what the situation is, good or bad, makes me feel better. Some poor folks suffered from my WAPO obsession.

One of the things I noticed over and over in the news was people not at their best, in a way that got them into the news, so really not at their best, and blaming it on how tough the pandemic is. Recently I read about how a guy refused a temp-check @ Disney, and blamed it on the pandemic being tough, and basically tanked his vacation over it because he wanted things to be like they were more than he wanted his vacation.

When I read about incidents like this, I came away with the same thought, over and over, we are lucky.

I believe that, the three of us, are lucky, my husband and my daughter and me. We are lucky #1 because we kept our jobs. We are lucky because we have things to do with our time in addition to jobs and school. We have projects, passions, hobbies, pets, and a friendship between us, aside from our familial relationship, and we are able to keep ourselves occupied, and keep going, and keep each other going, because of these gifts. We enjoy each other. We enjoy puzzles; we enjoy board games. We enjoy personal projects apart from each other. We read. We read together and apart. We study. We work. We had my mom nearby. We were able to help her. We lost my brother in a pandemic-adjacent-way, and he is on my mind all the time. To lose is tough. To lose and lose goodbye too is tougher. So many of us in the same boat in that way. But, truly, I count us lucky.

I just cannot imagine what we would have done if all we could do was wait and want to go back to life as it was before, if all we could have done was miss what had been before, if all our words and thoughts were complaints. I know more than a few people who have a lot of complaints. They have my sympathy, but not my full-understanding, I confess. I don’t want to live my life that way. When I am full of complaints I feel them pull the corners of my mouth down. I feel my mood go dark. I feel my muscles calcify. I don’t like it.

I expect that we will see more, not less, pandemics in our more and more global world. I expect that we will see more, not less change in general as people discover a new bravery around being who they are, and challenge our ideas on society and what constitutes “normal” or “acceptable.” And I see people freaking out over Black Lives Matter or Stop Asian Hate, or trans people, and kids, kids who think they know who they are, and we can’t have kids knowing who they are! Listen all that stuff that feels new and weird for those lucky enough to be completely average, to those people I say, that stuff is not going anywhere. And it’s not really new, or weird. It’s always been around. It was just forced underground before. Those different-from-you people have always been here, and you’ve always been fine. Erect all the dams you can, eventually the waters will come rushing through. In the meantime, why not get to know a Black person, or an immigrant, or an Asian person, or a trans person, or a kid who thinks of themself as a them, not a he or a she? See if it hurts you. And those who hate technology, who think only live-and-in-person works, that is probably because it works better for you. As we become even more consumers of technology, school and work will get more reliant on asynchronous work and learning, not less. And I think many people will want alternatives to life in a classroom or life in an office. And, we may need to have them.

This pandemic has been relatively short. If a longer one were to come our way, what would you do? How would you make it? These are the questions I ask myself. In some ways, this is like the toaster starting a small fire in the kitchen. It’s enough to scare you, to put you on notice. Not to at all diminish the people who died or those who lost people due to the virus. No, I mean the rest of us. Those of us who were just lonely, or bored, or inconvenienced. And those of us who were really unlucky, who lost jobs, who got sick and made it through, who worked front line. If I had worked front line for a little bit of money during this I know that I would have learned that I do not want to work front line for a little bit of money. I’d be thinking about job alternatives, or school.

I worked for a man once who taught fire-safety and he told me every time he ever took his family to a hotel, the first thing they did was find their way out in case of a fire.

Hmmmm…

It’s not a bad way to approach life. Have a plan for the worst, but expect the best.

I know I want to change things in my life after this. How about you?

THIS IS A BOOK I PUBLISHED

Like your first love, there’s something about your first book.

I’m not saying this is our best book ever, but the horror in it is actually pretty good. This was just written by the members of the Milton Workshop at the time, and we were all trying to hit one out of the park. It made me realize I have an affinity for horror stories. Lord knows, between teaching to pay the mortgage man, homeschooling, running DPP, Editing ( stories, books, etc.), and reading through the “slush pile” (industry term, not mine), the amount of time I get to write is precious little, and, actually, contrary-like, I have more ideas and motivation than ever!

Anyway, this is a little gem. The stories in it are pretty unique and different stylistically. And it’s inexpensive! A great horror buy! And a must-have for a DPP completist! Buy one! You know you want to!

FAVORITE “PEOPLE” TO QUOTE

Do you have a favorite TV character you like to quote?

Dave and I love to quote the classic TV cartoon Home Movies (click on the photo above for a link).

One of our favorite things from that series is Fenton Mulley’s nervous breakdown!

“What is WRONG with you?”

“…video films…”

“…my best moments…”

and our favorite, “… because I have LOYALTY!”

If you haven’t seen Home Movies (where Bob from Bob’s Burgers got his start) give it a try!

#STOPASIANHATE #MYROTARYMOMENT

When I first moved to where I now live I was invited to an event, called Empty Bowls and put on by the local rotary. It is a fundraiser to help end hunger. I went, with my husband and daughter. My daughter is Chinese. And when I walked through the door, I was shocked to see they were holding something called a Chinese Auction. I was further shocked to learn that they had been warned that many regarded the name, Chinese Auction, for what is basically a silent auction, as an outdated and racist term. It did actually use the term Chinese Auction, and it was held at the local high school which, apparently, also sanctioned the use of the racist term.

I lost my shit, in no uncertain terms, in a loud and angry way. And NO ONE THERE CARED. #MyRotaryMoment .

The woman in charge, told me that she had researched the term, and it is used to mean a silent auction is unusual, inscrutable, and mysterious, like Chinese people, and, that I should allow my then 7 year old daughter to enjoy being those things. “Let her be mysterious,” she said. “I know I’d like to be mysterious.”

And here we have a world in which our (former, thankfully) President calls a virus the “Kung Flu,” or “Chinese virus,” and some crazy white boy goes and shoots Asian women because he can’t get laid, and he, apparently, felt he deserved to get laid, and probably by “mysterious” Asian women.

In November, after Biden won, I went to get Chinese food, as did a white guy in a truck. We both got our food, and went out to our cars at the same time. He noticed my Black Lives Matter window cling, and started yelling at me that all lives matter. I said to him, “It doesn’t mean all lives don’t matter. Do you want to stop and talk about it?” He just kept screaming “ALL LIVES MATTER!!!” and got in his truck and drove off. It was particularly sad for me because, Biden having just been announced the true winner, I was feeling hopeful for the first time in four years, and I thought we might celebrate by eating some Chinese food. A white guy had to, and this is important, he HAD TO scream at me about my car sticker and make me be wrong, I had to be wrong. He could not accept that a white woman had that sticker on her car. He literally could NOT contain himself, and he also could not give me five minutes to talk about it. I wasn’t hurt; he didn’t call the cops on my like he might’ve had I been Black. And, he also refused to humanize me, to talk to me like a fellow traveler on this earth. He just screamed and screamed, and left the scene.

If Republicans think that allowing trans-gender kids to play sports or pee while in school is wrong, if they think that Black Lives advocates are thugs, if they think the people storming the Capital are patriots, if they think women who want equality and control over their own bodies are ugly hags who just are upset because they can’t get a boyfriend, if they think the election was stolen, if they think masks limit their freedom, if they think protecting the environment is a gimmick, if they think Asian people are mysterious, and calling a deadly virus a Chinese virus is acceptable, then there will be more lives lost, more bloodshed, more fucked-up people willing to kill to force the world into their mold.

I have nothing. I have no words of comfort or wisdom to offer about this terrible event in Georgia. I have only my sadness, worry, and fear for my child and my HBCU students and these two small incidents in my very white life to highlight how people from one race feel that they can dictate to another what is okay. It’s not okay, and white people don’t get to decide. #StopAsianHate . #BlackLIvesMatter . By the way, we’re still waiting on an apology from the Rotary. #MyRotaryMoment .