This girl is on fire

I always assumed I would have an arch nemesis someday. My personality kind of demands it. Obviously it would be someone who was cool and awesome, someone worthy of battling a badass antihero with a heart of gold such as myself. But also clearly someone with less wit and less awesome hair. 

Imagine my surprise, then, when my arch nemesis turned out to be the sun. 

Oh yeah. Let’s talk about polymorphic light eruption, kids. First, of course, by discussing what polymorphic light eruption sounds like:

A mildly successful electro pop duo.

A phrase shouted out by the Power Rangers. 

Part of a convoluted plot in a sci-fi novel.

How forest fires on distant planets start. 

What pretentious yet smart people call volcanic activity. 

A cool space thing NASA discovered that you hear at the end of the morning news segment. 

A horrifying space thing NASA discovered that you hear at the beginning of the morning news segment. 

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Now let’s discuss what polymorphic light eruption actually is:

Stupid people who develop a stupid allergy to the stupid sun out of nowhere.

It started last spring. I thought it was a fluke but then it happened again this year. It normally appears on the chest or the arms but I am one of the super lucky rare ones where I get the rash on my face. You know “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”? The scene where they open the ark of the covenant and it melts that Nazi’s face off? I’m like that dude three seconds into the scene but without the relief of my face ever actually melting off. Or of the sweet, sweet release of eventual death. I just have to sit here with my giant face rash, all red and itchy and poofy and on fire, and continue to act like a human. The good news is that after the rash goes away, which it only does if I avoid the sun for two weeks, it will likely come roaring back whenever I am exposed to the sun again. The even better news is that this will now likely happen every spring and summer until I die.

There aren’t charity runs for this skin disease. Probably because it’s mild and none of us who have it can be outside in the sun that long anymore. There is no cure and not much in the way of treatment. Probably because the universe is cruel and unfair and dumb and stupid.  

It just really, really sucks and makes summer suck. Especially this summer. The summer of 2020, which was going SO WELL ANYWAY. 

I love two things (besides my children and husband and fried cheese and blah, blah, blah). Those two things are running and going to the beach. Two things that are all the more important during this crap show of a year, since they are two things I can do outside and, as long as I avoid popular spots, without many people around. They are also, of course, two things that make it almost impossible to avoid the sun. 

So, at this point, all I have left to say is, nice try, sun. And nice try, 2020. But you will not defeat me. 

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Oh no. No matter how many murder hornets, chicken sandwich wars, global pandemics, quarantines, racists, bigots, homophobics, sexists, economy crashes, vaccine conspiracy theories, entire continents burning, World War III threats, armed protesters demanding haircuts, actual alien footage, “Tiger King” documentaries you throw out. And no matter how much you turn my personal life into that level in Super Mario Bros. 3 where the angry cartoon sun is literally trying to kill you.  

You. Will. Not. Defeat. Me. 

And do you know why? Because humans are nothing if not adaptable. That is what we do best, in fact. That is why we are survivors.

We adapt. 

So I will sit inside with my volcano face and I will keep writing and I will do my daily run at 4 a.m. to avoid the stupid murderous sun. And I will go to the beach. You hear me? I’m going to the beach and I will dress like Morticia Addams and I will totally pull the look off. And I’m going to snag bits and pieces of happiness whenever possible. I’m going to love what I should love more and ignore what I should ignore more and speak up against what is wrong more and support those who need my support right now. 

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Because I will not be defeated this year. Eight months into this horrific dystopian future and I now eat disappointment and threats of World War III for breakfast. 

Better luck next year. 

 

Box Spring Hot Box

It was the title that came first. It floated up from the mysterious depths of my sleep deprived brain, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a terrible night. 

Or arose like a zombie. That wanted to eat my brain. Was eating my brain. Or something. 

I’m so tired. 

Anyway, the point is. What is the point? Oh, right. The point is I know what you’re thinking. What is up with that title? It’s a funny story actually. It was the title that came first. 

Wait, I already said that.

OK. Where was I? There I was, trapped for hours, trapped in a hell of my own making, when it came to me. 

Box Spring Hot Box.

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Heh. That’s really funny, I thought to myself. Although now that I’m writing this, it’s not quite as clever as it sounded at 3 a.m. It’s mildly amusing at best. But if I change it now then I have to rewrite the whole beginning and no one is really going to read this anyway except my mom so…moving on. 

What is a box spring hot box, you ask? Well, it started out fine. Sweet even. A tale as old as sleep. I was gently nudged out of a deep slumber by the horrifying sensation that a presence near me was breathing heavily. My eyelids fluttered open to behold an extra from Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn” staring at me. Confusingly, this tiny devil mumbled something about having a nightmare and so I resisted the urge to dropkick the creepy face long enough to wipe the sleep out of my eyes and realize the monster was my own child. 

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So I let him crawl into bed with us. Just for a minute, I said sternly, both of us knowing that I am a gigantic liar, lair, stained pajama pants on fire. 

So he hopped on up, laying on top of the covers and immediately taking up more real estate than was necessary for a 45-pound body. Meanwhile I scooched closer to my husband, who was blissfully snoring away on my other side, the covers wrapped around him like a tortilla. Meanwhile meanwhile, the dog, disturbed by all this commotion, sighed exasperatedly and scooched over as well, moving to lay at the bottom of my feet. 

It was nice at first. Cozy. For a moment I even started to think I understood why all those hippies insist the entire family sleep in the same bed. I was surrounded by love. 

And body heat. I was surrounded by all the body heat. Why was everyone giving off so much heat? Who decided 98.6 degrees is a reasonable number? It’s a ridiculous temperature for a human body. Why can’t we all be a balmy 77? 

It was hot. So bloody hot. And I was trapped under the covers. I tried squirming out but was blocked by the headboard. The dog was blocking the southern exit and there was also the irrational fear that I would get stuck midway and end up roasted to death, cooked by my very own family.  

Why didn’t I just wake one of them up, I hear you asking. Well, well, well, aren’t we just FULL of questions today. 

Sorry. I’m a bit cranky. I don’t know if you heard but I didn’t get much sleep last night. 

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Anyway, waking up either my son or husband so that I could crawl out would have been the logical thing to do. Hence the problem. You’re talking logic. Logic at an illogical time during an illogical year. And, let’s face it, with a ridiculous specimen of a woman. 

To my credit, I did briefly flirt with the idea of waking one of them up. Actually, I was so hot I downright seduced the idea of shoving them onto the floor full force just to feel fresh air on my body again. But then I looked over at my loud snoring burrito, who had been working round the clock from home for months. Stressed and exhausted. Then I turned my head to look at my very own Vitruvian Man, just splayed out in all his tiny glory, who has been struggling with a world that doesn’t make sense and nightmares of Mommy and Daddy getting sick. Even the hellhound at my feet, even if I was willing to crawl out that way, is about to turn 15. He’s been such a good boy, even though his hips hurt and we kept bringing babies home from the hospital without ever once consulting him. 

They all deserved sleep. Peaceful sleep. Or so it seemed in my muddled mind at 3 a.m. 

So I lay in my box spring hot box for the rest of the night. Alternating between analyzing my latest dream (playing basketball with Brad Pitt, where he kept making baskets by throwing the ball from behind his back all while discussing the writing of James Agee, whom I have never read) and replaying every embarrassing moment from junior high (which are numerous and still not funny to me yet). 

Then, like a rainbow after the storm, my husband grunted and farted and I knew the long night had ended. I would soon be free. He was a mere yawn and unselfconscious scratch away from being awake. 

And the point to all this is…

What is the point? There is a point. I came up with it somewhere around paragraph three. I need more coffee. Oh yes, the point is, I yelled at my kids today. For picking their noses and not cleaning their rooms like I asked. I was snippy with my husband, who made the mistake of standing there. I even had a very stern talking to with the dog who keeps aggressively shedding. 

And so the point is I wrote this to let them all know how much I love them. Even when I’m cranky and tired and yelling. Love comes out in many different and often strange ways. Ways like staying up half the night because you just want the ones you love to find as much peace as possible in this world. 

Although next time, I think I’ll just kick one of them to the floor and show them my love by getting a good night’s sleep myself. 

Impossible Girls

To my dearest daughter on the eve of your 4th birthday,

I will never forget the day you were born. Mostly because it’s hard to forget when someone slits your abdomen open and pulls a human being out of it. Then I heard your very first cry and tears welled up in my own eyes. You sounded like a dying pterodactyl. It was a screech so piercing it felt like an ice pick was stabbing my brain. And I’m not the only one. The nurses on the pediatric ward all agreed it was one of the most intense caterwauls they had ever heard. One of them actually twitched whenever you cried. 

Oh, but how perfect you were. When you were sleeping. 

It’s been an immense pleasure these past few years watching you grow up. I even had a front row seat because you were never not climbing all over me. Four years in and I’ve peed by myself twice. Then, just when I couldn’t take it anymore, you’d fall asleep on my chest and finally stay still long enough to let me smell the top of your head. Which smelled like sweat and macaroni and cheese and everything that is right with the world. 

It’s happening less and less now. The lazy afternoons listening to your soft breathing. On the plus side, you’ve taken to climbing things other than me. The unsecured bookcases. The door frames. The extremely large and heavy dresser. Which goes to show that you are a gal who won’t take no for an answer. No matter how many times your parents scream it at you. 

Then again, what else could one expect from the girl who invented a game called Fireball? If you are ever reading this in the future and are wondering how you play Fireball, I can’t help you. Four-year-old you won’t tell me. All I know is that you play it in your brother’s room and it often involves horrific crashing noises. One time you were playing it and you tore out of his room hollering “I’m going on the run!” Then you grabbed a handful of Cheerios from the table, shoved them in your mouth, and kept right on running full speed to the other side of the house. 

I’m pretty sure you won that day.

This other time you and your brother were sitting on the couch and you asked him if he wanted to play “The Floor is Lava.” He excitedly responded with “yes!” and you immediately pushed him off the couch with a spectacular bang. 

Speaking of loud noises, you have less of a pitter patter and more of a brigade of war drums. You make the grand entrance of tyrants three times your size. How something so small could make such a cacophony while dressed like a butterfly princess is an impressive achievement. So much so that I had to search for a word big enough to describe it and came across “cacophony.” 

You dance like you want everyone watching. You hug until it hurts. You sing often and loud and joyously and completely off-key. You scream “I hate you, Momma!” at least three times a day. You tell me you love me at least ten. You love books and dirt and puddles and cats and lipstick and Super Mario Bros. 

You have an annoying devotion to fairness. You want answers to all the questions. Even the hard ones. You get mad when it’s not what you want to hear.  

You are nothing like I’d thought you’d be. You’re better than anything I could have dreamed of.

You make me want to tear my hair out some days. You are utterly impossible some days. 

And thank god. 

You are growing up in an impossible world, baby girl. It is scary and unjust and exhausting and extreme. 

And an impossible world needs girls like you. Fearless, strong, loud. It needs people who love fiercely and aren’t afraid to fight. Who won’t take no for an answer. Who have war drums for feet. 

Which is why, on my worst days, the days where it all seems hopeless, I look at you and your wild, tangled hair. The dirt on your left cheek. The butterfly wings and the sword. You make me want to fight the impossible. 

You make me want to be an impossible girl too. 

 

Not all that glitters is marigold

I once was very mean to a marigold. It wasn’t anything personal. It was merely in the name of science.

Specifically, that name was the Fourth Grade Science Fair. The birthplace of so many childhood wrongs. Somehow I had convinced my teacher of the merit of the hypothetical question “Does Being Nice to Plants Help Them Grow?” A fantastic scientific query when you are both lazy but insecure about being lazy and want to make it kind of seem like you care while doing minimal work. 

So I planted two marigold seeds. Once I day I would sing to one and read it books and was on my best behavior. The “grandma is over for a visit and it’s her birthday” behavior. 

And to the other one I was verbally abusive in that unique, dark, unholy way that only a 10-year-old girl can be. 

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I don’t remember my official “results” or even my grade. The only conclusion I took away was the knowledge that the entirety of this one marigold’s life was having a freckled brat angrily try out new curse words on it when her mother wasn’t around. 

This lingering guilt likely explains my current awkward relationship to plants. Why I have never gardened. Why house plants stress me out. Why I prefer to let plants run wild and free in nature. I do not, under any circumstance, want to be responsible for them. As soon as they are in my care, I feel the crushing burden of having to keep them not only alive, but happy. And I don’t necessarily trust myself with the weight of this commitment considering I have seen the immoral results of my former mad scientist self. 

I killed a flower WITH WORDS.

I’m a monster. 

Which brings me to last week. There are always consequences when one tries to play God with Nature. Mine came in the form of my friend Melissa, who very sweetly and generously surprised my kids with their very own starter vegetable garden kit. Complete with 15 different seed pods. It was one of those enrichment activities I’d heard so much about but have never, ever done with my children. I wasn’t worried though. At least at first. I assumed like most other things that were good for us, my family and I would talk excitedly about it for 15 minutes and then forget about it completely. 

Oh, but then how their eyes lit up. For the first time in a long time. They were engaged. They were getting along. They were happy in a way I hadn’t seen since school shut down. 

Sigh. 

So we planted the tiny seeds in the tiny pods while the kids peppered me with one thousand questions. All of which I enthusiastically answered wrong because I know zero about gardening but still wanted to encourage their newfound passion.

“Momma! What are turnips!?”

“Sad onions!”

“How did turnips get their name!?”

“They were discovered by Joe Turnip of Indiana!”

“What do leeks taste like?”

“Like celery that is wearing a bow tie!” 

And from there things started to spin out of control. I casually asked my mom to help me find something to put all these seed pods in because she knows more about gardening than her marigold murdering daughter. Before I knew it, a large garden bed, a toolkit, adorable tiny gardening gloves and four giant bags of soil were making their way to my house. Because a Memaw who misses her grandchildren and who has an Amazon Prime account at her disposal is a dangerous creature. 

Then my husband started talking about how we’ll need a trellis for the tomato plants and maybe a tiny fence to keep out the bunnies and maybe we could plant some sunflowers too. 

And daisies, added my daughter.

And tulips, added my son. 

And, lo and behold, I am now the reluctant owner of a garden. Responsible for the health and happiness of dozens of tiny lives. Which means I’m obsessively watching them and constantly questioning if I’m over or under watering and following my husband around the house telling him about all the awful things I learned on Google today.

“Did you know some ancient religions thought plants had souls?”

“Did you know trees make cries for help? Like when they’re in danger or thirsty?”

“Did you know plants know when they’re being eaten? They send out defense mechanisms to try to stop it.”

Sigh. 

I guess the punishment fits the crime. As they say, the arc of history bends toward justice. 

But as they also say, you can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her like it. 

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Welcome to the Neighborhood!

(Based on only a slightly exaggerated true story…)

Oh hey, hi! Hi! You must be our new downstairs neighbors. So nice to finally meet you! We saw you moving your stuff in. Not that we were creeping on you from the windows or anything. OK, maybe just a little bit. Haha! Kidding. It was a lot. 

Sorry. Am I coming on too strong? I’ve been told that before. Although I’m sure that’s coming as no surprise to you. I mean, just look at me. Our very first meeting and I’m standing here on the porch holding two martinis and a stack of Captain Underpants books while wearing my jammie jams. My daughter and I were just getting ready to drop these off at the neighbor’s house down the street. You know, as one does. Ha! See, last week they dropped off some beer and some children’s books and now we’re just returning the favor. Kinda like a traveling children’s library bar thing. So it’s, you know, less weird than it looks. 

2020, amiright? 

Oh, speaking of which, this little imp beside me is my daughter Mae. She’s three. And I’m just now realizing she’s not wearing any pants. Sorry. At least I wrestled her into some shoes, eh? What’s that? Oh, that’s just a toy knife in her hand. It came from her brother’s kitchen set he got last Christmas. She’s named it Stabby. Takes it with her wherever she goes. It’s not sharp. So, no need to worry. Sweetie, say hi to the new neighbors. No growling, we talked about this. *whispers* She hasn’t really been handling social distancing well. 

So, you’re renting out the first floor, yeah? I know they’ve been doing renovations for months down there but didn’t realize they were HONEY, STOP YELLING FROM THE WINDOW. We’re talking to the new neighbors. THE NEW NEIGHBORS! Well, if you want to meet them get down here then! Oof. Kids, huh? I mean, you two don’t have kids…I’m assuming. Oh good. I mean, children are the greatest things on Earth and also simultaneously the worst. Speaking of which, here’s my other one. This is my son, Riker. Could not be more proud of him. He survived three months of kindergarten with a teacher that makes Miss Hannigan from “Annie” look maternal. In my defense, what is up with math these days? Hmm, what’s that? Oh ha! Yes, it is quite the outfit indeed. He loves that winter hat. We just can’t manage to get him to take it off even though it’s June. Although I think it goes well with the shorts and cowboy boots, all considered. 

And this here pair of eyeballs sticking out of that jungle of facial hair is my husband, Ryan. He’s been working from home since March and has only had one day off in, like, ten weeks so he’s a bit feral at the moment. At least he showered. Like, three days ago, tops. Right, sweetie? Yes, fine, you can go back inside. You did your 30 seconds of daily interaction. 

Men, amiright?

What’s that now? Oh yes, I know exactly what noise you’re talking about. That’s our dog, Buffy. Buffy the Male Dog. See, I didn’t know he was a boy when we got him. Actually I did but I really wanted a dog named Buffy because I thought it sounded hilarious and it kinda just made it funnier that he was a boy. ANYHOO, that loud hacking sound is just one of his old man noises. He’s almost 15 and has accumulated quite a lot of them. I know it sounds awful and like he’s dying but I assure you he is not. The devil himself is going to die before that old bag of bones does. 

Ha! H…a…

Sorry. I didn’t mean to start crying. I just love that stupid, smelly dog so much. I’ll die if I ever lose him. You know? Do you have pets? No? No pets and no kids. No wonder you look so…what’s the word? Not frumpy. Well rested. Happy. 

By the way, the red car with the gray hood and the duct taped window is ours. But we are happy to share our driveway with you if you ever need it. We don’t use the car much anymore anyway. See, this one time a storm blew a fridge into our car and it’s a long story but on the plus side, we did recently take it to the mechanic and both doors open now and there is no longer an exhaust leak inside slowly killing us all. 

So, anyway, I better drop these drinks off on our neighbor’s porch like the good little booze fairy I am. Huh. That didn’t sound very politically correct. Sorry. Gee, can you tell I haven’t been around too many people lately? Ha! Oof, I miss people so much. Hey! Do you guys happen to roller skate? Yeah, no, that’s ok, it was a long shot. I’ve been trying to learn so I can justify drunkenly buying a pair of professional grade ones so if you ever hear me screaming like a banshee at a high speed down the street, it’s just me learning my lesson. 

Oop, one last thing. If you hear our fire alarm, don’t worry. It just means dinner’s ready. 

OK, well, lovely to have finally met you and all. Sorry we are ridiculous people. And welcome to the neighborhood! 

 

39 Things I’ve Learned in 39 Years

 

  1. As it turns out, living through interesting times really is a curse.
  2. Living through interesting times, however, means you are very happy to make it to your next birthday.
  3. Anything can be a breakfast food. The only limit is our imagination. 
  4. My husband looks really hot as Grizzly Adams. 
  5. I look less hot as Grizzly Adams. 
  6. Money can’t buy happiness. But it can buy useless, random crap off Amazon when you’re stuck at home during a global pandemic. 
  7. Speaking of which, roller skating is not like riding a bike. You don’t just automatically remember how to do it, which is awful when you’re trying to justify drunkenly buying roller skates on Amazon. 
  8. Spending quality time with family is the most important thing there is. Until it is the only thing there is. Then secretly eating a beef burrito in the bathtub becomes pretty important too. 
  9. I now know why my dog runs to the window and barks anytime he sees a single human being. Or another dog. Or a leaf. 
  10. Children are strong. 
  11. Children are resilient.
  12. Children better stop rolling their eyes at me every time I tell them to brush their teeth. 
  13. Yes, you have to use toothpaste.
  14. Teachers are mystical unicorn warriors and they deserve all the money and jewels and exotic oils for putting up with our children. 
  15. No matter how many times you are forced to watch “Frozen II,” it won’t kill you. You think it will. But it won’t. 
  16. Ditto “Moana.”
  17. Ditto “Toy Story 4.”
  18. Forts are still fun, no matter what your age. 
  19. Dance parties in the living room are still fun, no matter what your age. 
  20. It’s ok to like how the “Star Wars” saga ended even if no one else did. 
  21. It’s ok to hate how “Game of Thrones” ended because everyone did. 
  22. One way to get rid of a dead body is to feed it to your tigers. 
  23. Uncertainty isn’t always bad. Uncertainty is the soil where change can start to sprout. Or something like that. I don’t know. 
  24. My family is composed of a toxic mix of sore losers and sore winners and really poor spectators. 
  25. Level 8 of Super Mario Bros. 3 is a dystopian hellscape and it’s stupid and no one can pass it and I hate it and it’s dumb. 
  26. Twister is a young woman’s game. 
  27. It’s never ok to cheat unless you’ve been playing Go Fish for an hour and your 3-year-old keeps holding her cards the wrong way and you just need the game to end. 
  28. Ditto Old Maid.
  29. Ditto Candyland.
  30. If you’re going to call someone essential and a hero, they deserve to make a living wage. 
  31. I think I say this every year on this list but I feel it bears repeating. Nazis are bad. Always. No exceptions. 
  32. Speak up and fight for what is right. 
  33. Teach your kids to speak up and fight for what is right.
  34. Boxed wine is less judgmental than bottled wine. Boxed wine doesn’t care how many glasses you have. 
  35. Life is too short to read mediocre books.
  36. Life is just long enough to binge watch all seven seasons of “Parks and Recreation” again.
  37. You can never tell people you love them too much. 
  38. It’s ok to ask for help. 
  39. Never give up. There is always the chance that this all turns out alright. That we overcome everything history has been throwing at us and we fix the world and we become the next greatest generation. That many years from now we will tell our grandchildren “back in my day, we ate murder hornets for breakfast, kid.”

In These Uncertain Times

Hey, want a fun 2020 drinking game? Take a shot every time you read an article that includes the phrase “in these uncertain times.” I’ll help you get started. 

In these uncertain times (drink!), I am constantly torn between making every effort to stay as healthy as I possibly can and saying screw all of this, the world is on the brink of disaster, let’s burn it down. It, of course, meaning my physical, mental and emotional health. 

Because on one hand, the best thing I can do, the smartest thing, the most logical, to survive and to thrive in these uncertain times (hey-oh!) is to get my body and mind in top shape. Which is why I go for daily runs every morning. It keeps my body strong but more importantly, I can escape my family for a few brief shining moments. 

And then I come back and log onto Facebook for five minutes where I’m immediately like, hey, let’s make this coffee Irish. The world is a madhouse. 

But maybe it won’t always be, I tell myself after throwing my cell phone across the room. So I make a healthy breakfast. This too shall pass, you know?

Yup, it’ll pass right up until the planet dies from global warming, I also tell myself, because sometimes I am just the worst in these uncertain times (bottoms up). Which is when my breakfast magically turns into all the leftover fried chicken from last night. 

No, no, I have to stay positive. If nothing else then for my children’s sake. They’re so young and innocent. The world can still be a beautiful place, right? A beautiful place that everyone wants to go out in and stand way too close to each other, forgoing any kind of protection, so that there is another spike in Covid-19 this fall and they cancel school and I’m still stuck with my kids all day and someone bring me a carton of cigarettes and whatever the hell that drug Molly is. 

Slow down, slow down. The key word here in these uncertain times (you’re welcome) is “uncertain.” No one knows what’s going to happen. We can make educated guesses and we can make smart decisions and we can listen to the scientists. We can keep calm and carry on. “Uncertain” doesn’t necessarily have to mean bad. I was once uncertain about my husband when I first met him. And it turns out he’s an amazing human being whom I love dearly even though he currently looks like Grizzly Adams and I haven’t seen him in three days despite the fact he is working from home because he’s working 14 hour days to help out his company in these uncertain times (hell, take two, I’ll join you). 

At least this is a way to slow down. Smell the roses. Take walks and have picnics with my family. Although all this isolation is clearly having a negative effect on my 3-year-old who is full-on turning into Jack from “The Shining.” All family and no friends makes Mae a dull girl. She’s named a toy knife she got in a kitchen set last Christmas “Stabby” and has started carrying it on her at all times. She’s definitely going to murder us. Or need years of therapy. Or both. 

So, you know what? Carpe diem, baby. Which is a fancy way of saying I’ve never tried cocaine but I think I might like it. And if there ever was a time for a 38-year-old mom to try it, 2020 would be it, yeah? 

Except no. Right? Because the world is not ending. Things are bad, sure, but nothing we can’t bounce back from. Also I don’t even know where to get cocaine. And according to 80’s movies you have to snuff it up your nose and that sounds horrid.

Maybe I’ll just take a depression nap. That lasts for five days. 

Hey, remember back when we were in certain times, you know, when our biggest worry was just nuclear war and vast corruption and rampant racism and sexism? It’s great that those are still there too underneath all the fun new 2020 stuff. 

Sigh. In these uncertain times. 

The point is, none of us know the future. But it does look bleak currently. But throughout history, bleak is when we humans shine the hardest. But you never know. But we are nothing without hope. But we are on the brink of destruction. But I want to see my great grandchildren and have them call me Gam Gam 

So, in these uncertain times, I salute you. All of us. We’ll get through this together. Because there is no other choice. Together or not at all. 

In these uncertain times. In these uncertain times. In these uncertain times. 

Cheers. 

How I Spent My Spring Quarantine

 

How I Spent My Spring Quarantine

By Aprill Brandon

During my spring quarantine, my family and I went to a lot of places. It was neat. My favorite place was the back porch. We blew bubbles. We drew lots and lots of chalk drawings too. We ate snacks out there. There were a lot of snacks. Doritos were my favorite. I got to eat a whole bag all by myself! The kids drank lots of root beer. The parents were allowed to drink wine whenever they wanted no matter what time it was because there are no rules anymore. 

We also traveled to the front yard. We blew bubbles and did more chalk drawings. I drew a naughty stick figure on the sidewalk but my husband covered it up. He is lame sometimes. I drank wine from a coffee mug because more people can see us in the front yard. One day we saw our neighbor, Shanna. All four of us started excitedly shouting at her at the same time. We hadn’t seen many people since March. She looked scared. 

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After that we tried playing soccer in our yard. But then we remembered that none of us like soccer because it is stupid. 

We also did a lot of cool things inside. We learned to play the card games “Go Fish” and “War.” It was fun. Then my children started fighting and calling each other cheaters. Which was so dumb. I was the one cheating. My husband says that is wrong. He is so lame. 

My kids also learned how to climb everything inside the house. I worried a lot that they would get hurt. They told me they would not get hurt. I was tired so I said ok.  

I hung out in the attic a lot. I told my family I was “writing” in my makeshift office. But really I was watching “Stranger Things” and reading Stephen King books. I ate a lot of snacks up there.

Sometimes we would get bored during quarantine. One time, when we were bored, we played Twister. I heard something in my knee go pop! Now it hurts to walk up stairs. My husband says I need to be careful because I am 38. He’s so lame. I’m not going to let him borrow the roller skates I ordered off Amazon when I was drunk even if he asks really, really nicely. 

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Another time I was bored I cut my own bangs. Everyone said I shouldn’t. But I did. My face looks crooked now. My friend Cara D. said she liked them though. 

One time we were so bored I let the kids do finger painting. It made a huge mess. The kids were happy but I was sad. They did not help clean up at all. My son’s teacher told me my feelings were valid. She is a nice lady. 

I think our dog is bored too. One day he pooped in the middle of the living room. It was gross. Then he did it again the next day. I think he wants us all out of his house. Probably because we are loud and won’t share our Doritos with him. 

We watched so many movies during spring quarantine. We also fought over which movies to watch a lot. I usually won because I am the bossiest. 

We also got to eat in the living room in front of the TV a lot, which was super neat. We ate a lot of cool things, like pizza topped with french fries and mozzarella sticks, and pizza that had barbecued chicken on it. If I could I would eat pizza for every meal. It is my favorite food. My husband says we have to feed the kids fruit occasionally. I wish he wasn’t so lame sometimes. 

Things are very different now but some things are ok. My husband wears his robe to work every day. It makes him happy. Although sometimes he yells the Big Curse Words at the computer. 

I wear my pajamas every day too. So do the kids. We also yell the Big Curse Words at each other but no one hears us so it is ok. I love my family. Especially after drinking wine and eating snacks. 

In conclusion, I had a great time on my spring quarantine. But I would not want to do it again. Except the pizza part. 

The End. 

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It’s been a mother of a year

Hey, you know how every year us mothers significantly lower our expectations when it comes to Mother’s Day? How every year you all just skate by on your adorableness, doing the bare minimum? It’s only Mom, afterall. She’s so grateful for anything and everything. Her love is completely unconditional. 

Well, not this year, you filthy urchins. There are now conditions. 

Oh sure, when you were born we played the saintly martyr when you kept us up all night, every night. We faced the fact you wouldn’t let us eat a single hot meal for an entire year with gentle stoicism. And we showed incredible grace and restraint by not throwing you out the window the first time you screamed “I HATE YOU” into our faces. 

We did all that because we love you. And you’re amazing. And we’d die for you. 

But this is 2020, you little wretches. We are done being humble and doting and noble. There is no more “oh, it’s enough of a gift just to be your mom.” It’s not. Not even close. We have spent two months stuck inside this house with you. Two VERY LONG months. With no sleepovers at Memaw’s house, no daycares or schools, no playdates, no library storytime, no playgrounds to give us even one tiny bittersweet gasp of freedom. There is only the constant drowning in your endless waves of needs and demands in a house that is growing more ramshackled by the day. 

Time to step it up, you bitty hellions.  

First things first, do not try to pass yourself off as charmingly incompetent and present us with burnt toast and water mixed with coffee grounds for breakfast. Here’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child. Careful, it’s heavy. Now start studying. That hollandaise sauce better make us cry tears of joy. 

Speaking of studying, your report card is one big lie. You are far from a delight in class. Which is why the card you give us this year better contain a heartfelt three page letter about how friggin’ gorgeous and phenomenal we are, which you will hand deliver to us on a silver tray that also contains a Bloody Mary. 

While we are on the subject of food and drink, you always want to be fed. Note we did not say “want to eat.” Note we did not say “always hungry.” No, you want to be fed. You want us to make you something. 

Well, guess what we want? 

A swimming pool. 

Start digging. 

And no, we will not watch you dig. A full one third of our lives is now devoted to “hey, mom watch this!” and then watching this. It doesn’t matter if we’re cooking, or if we’re showering, or if we’re on fire. We must watch. We must watch and then watch again and again, every time acting just as delighted as the first time you jumped off the couch and onto the couch cushion. 

Which is why we’re gonna need a life-sized chocolate sculpture of ourselves. 

Then there is the issue of the farts. We have smelled all your farts. All of them. On a constant rotating basis. There is just a constant low hanging miasma of fart essence wherever we go in this house because there is nowhere else for you to fart. So there’s tiny baby farts and gross boy farts and gigantic dad farts and ancient unholy dog farts, all mingling together and creating horrifying new scents. 

Buy us our own island. 

Oh, you can’t afford to buy us our own island? Well, we are the sounding board for every single thought that crosses everyone’s mind. We don’t get to have our own thoughts anymore because we’re too busy listening to all of yours. So you best find someone to bankroll this entire operation. No one’s cuteness is getting them out of this. We are on Week Eight of this crap. Ain’t no one cute around here anymore. 

We moms have not only kept this household going in a global pandemic, but, more importantly, have kept everyone from killing each other. We are freaking warrior goddesses. 

BUY US AN ARMORED UNICORN TO RIDE ON. 

So, in conclusion, we love you all so much. More than life itself. You are the best thing to ever happen to us. Don’t mess this up or we’re setting your room on fire. 

 

Excuse me, is this thing on?

Q: What has a twitchy eye, a whiskey in each hand and a brain that is slowly melting?

A: A mother who is stuck in quarantine with little kids who just discovered jokes. 

Want to hear another one?

Q: What do you call a Memaw who sends her grandchildren a book called “200 Silly Jokes for Kids”?

A: Estranged. 

Perhaps you think I’m being too dramatic. Well, let me ask you this. Why are teddy bears never hungry? Because they’re always stuffed. 

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Prior to now, my children thought the entirety of humor was centered around physical comedy and its subgenre of curse word outbursts. Fall down after getting hit in the privates and scream something with four letters and my kids would worship you as a comedy god. But now they know jokes exist. They know jokes exist and they are the best thing on the planet and they must know all of them immediately. 

If you’re wondering if children’s jokes have changed since you were a child, I can assure you they have not. I happen to be an expert in this field. I just heard 200 of them. 

Why do fish live in salt water? Because pepper makes them sneeze.

What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho cheese. 

Why did the rabbit go to the barber? He needed a hare-cut. 

Then we got to the Knock Knock chapter. 

“Knock knock…”

*blank stares*

“Knock knock…now you say ‘who’s there?’” 

“Who’s there!?”

“Boo.”

*hysterical giggles*

“No, now you say ‘boo who’.”

“Boo who?”

“Why are you crying?”

“We’re not.”

I tried to tell another one only to have my daughter inform me very seriously that she already answered the door. 

Then we came to the inevitable part where they stopped asking me to read them jokes from the book and instead wanted to tell me their own jokes. They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. Imagine how painful it is to be there for hour one. Luckily their act came at dinnertime and included half a large pizza minimum. 

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“Hey, mom! Why did the rainbow not have blue?” my 6-year-old son excitedly asked. “Because it was too tired to make blue!”  

That was his best one. And I only consider it his best one because I’m hoping he was making a profound statement on depression that went over my head. 

At least my 3-year-old already has a distinct comedic style, which is impressive considering her age. 

“Why did the cat fart on the unicorn? Because she had to poop!”

“Why did the chicken go on the road? Because he’s a poopoo peepee head!”

“Why did the poopie poop on the diarrhea pee? Because farts!”

Perhaps I’m being too hard on them. Humor is my terrain afterall. I should be more understanding of how hard it is to master. Not to mention its appeal, especially in hard times. The reason I myself became a humor writer is because I was having panic attacks at age 12 and the only thing that could calm me down was reading Dave Barry’s column. I couldn’t breathe, the world was ending, but oh, look, boogers and an exploding whale carcass! It was how I learned that if you can laugh, the world becomes a little less scary. If you can poke fun at something, it loses some of its power. 

These kids haven’t seen a playground in months. They haven’t been able to hug friends or family. There’s no school, no vacations, no spontaneous “let’s get some ice cream!” Just a scary illness and a world that has forever changed before they even really got a chance to know it. 

So, I will laugh heartily to as many poop punchlines as they need. No matter how many whiskeys and large pizzas it takes on my end. Because if laughter is the best medicine, then we need all the jokes we can get right now. 

Which is why I asked my kids if they each wanted to give me a joke to end this particular column of mine.

“What do you mumble mumble giggle poop mumble? A chicken with a lamp on an egg!” –Mae, age 3

“What is a walkie-talkie with no one talking to you? There’s peanut butter in it!” –Riker, age 6

I wish you could see how hard they’re laughing right now.