Category Archives: Politics

Tired.

I’m tired. 

But don’t worry. This isn’t going to be one of those pieces where the author spends 800 words telling you just how much MORE tired they are than you. (Although I only got two hours of sleep last night. Not that it matters. Because, again, this isn’t THAT piece). 

See, I know you’re tired too. We’re all tired. The whole world is tired. None of us are getting enough sleep and all of us are under more and more pressure to do more during our waking hours. 

Which is why, I suspect, we as a society have turned tiredness into a competition. We all feel guilty that we aren’t doing more so we try to win the only contest we can: Who is more tired?

Person 1: “I’m so tired.”

Person 2: “Me too. I only got five hours of sleep last night.”

Person 1: “I only got four.”

Person 2: “Did I say last night? I meant for the whole week.”

Person 1: “I meant for the whole month.”

Person 2: “I basically haven’t slept since I was a child.”

Person 1: “Must be nice. I haven’t slept since I was literally in utero.”

Person 2: “Really? I couldn’t even sleep in there, what with that constant beating of mother’s heart.”

I don’t know how we got to this point. Maybe it was the Internet, connecting us all to the world 24/7. Maybe it was the rise of social media, connecting us all to each other 24/7. Or perhaps it’s just hard to get a solid eight hours when the world feels like a dumpster fire. But whatever the reason, it appears there is some fierce competition for the title of “Most Tired.” Because you can get into this competition with pretty much anyone. Take moms, for instance. 

Pregnant woman: I’m so tired. 

New mom: HAHAHAHA…just wait until they are born. 

Mom of toddler: Aw, that’s cute. Mine is mobile and can open doors and has opinions. 

Mom of teenager: Well, I haven’t slept since mine got his driver’s license. 

Mom of multiple teenagers: I’M TECHNICALLY DEAD. 

There’s also the generational tiredness rivalry. 

Old person: I’m so tired. My angina and trick knee kept me up all night.

Middle-aged person: I was up worrying about taking care of my aging parents and my growing kids. 

30-something: My career is killing me. 

20-something: I work three jobs and have no money and no future and the Arctic is literally on fire. 

College student: I had to pull an all-nighter for exams and then work all day at my unpaid internship.

Teenager: I had to pull an all-nighter for Fortnite. 

Everyone: Oh, shut up, Kyle.

Teenager (sulkily): I won, not that anyone cares.  

There’s also usually a romantic partner daily exhaustion war. My husband and I are experts at this. 

Husband: I had to finish 57 projects today and re-do the entire website and fight the crowds for the train home. 

Me: I had to drag two little kids all over town while dealing with 23 tantrums and 15 meltdowns and I have insomnia and I need to finish my blog about how much more tired I am than you and everyone else in the world.

(Again, NOT that this is all about how much more tired I am than you, dear reader. Even if it’s true, it’s not the point). 

And then there is all the situational tiredness. The bad job tired. You ever had a bad job? It’s exhausting. There’s the bad relationship tired, where your brain basically turns to mush rehearsing all the things you should say to your crappy partner but never do because you’re just too tired. Or the financial problems tired, where you trade sleep for calculating which limbs you can sell to make ends meet this month. 

And that’s all just the level of tiredness you feel when everything is going fairly well in your life. It’s a whole new level of fatigue when you are, say, battling a chronic disease. Or a mental illness. Or raising a child with special needs. Or dealing with racism and sexism and bigotry every day. Or struggling in poverty. Or…yeah, you get it. 

We’re tired. 

So who wins the award for most tired? I mean, clearly it’s me. Although the rest of you put up quite the battle. Which is why I’m going to pull a Cady Heron from “Mean Girls” and break apart the crown and give us all a piece of the title. 

And as for any solutions? How do we stop being so tired? Truthfully I have no idea.

But I’m sure I’ll be up all night thinking about it.

 

 

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If only thoughts and prayers were bulletproof

I’ll be honest. When I heard about Gilroy, and then El Paso, and then Dayton (which is 45 minutes from my hometown), I felt nothing. I just stared, dull-eyed, at the news and at social media feeds and as people lamented the evil in the world while being very careful not to name any specific evil. 

And then, yesterday, as my husband and I were getting dinner ready for the kids, I went to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror. And I lost it. I sobbed. Gasping sobs I tried to muffle. Because I didn’t want him or the kids or my visiting mother-in-law to hear. No need to make people uncomfortable when this kind of thing literally happens every day in America. 

And I’m going to be even more honest. I’m not sure if I was crying because of the horror of all those senseless deaths. Of the horror that it won’t stop. Of the horror that nothing will change, no matter how high the death toll. Of the horror that it’s only a matter of time before it’s me or someone I know. 

Or, just as horrifyingly, if I was crying because I realized I finally really am numb. And the only reason I was crying is because I was mourning that part of my humanity that also died in the latest hail of bullets. 

Does that sound defeatist? It is. Because I’m defeated. And maybe you are too. Because the biggest horror of all is that we have decided this is ok. We might say it’s not, we might scream until our voices are raw that we can’t let this be the new normal, but we won’t do anything. It doesn’t even matter what we think is the cause behind these mass shootings anymore. 

Is it a gun problem? 

Is it a mental health problem?

Is it a young, white, male problem?

Is it racism?

Is it hate?

Is it an uncaring society? 

Is it all of the above? 

Again, it doesn’t matter. Gun control measures never get passed and still we elect the same people over and over in Congress. Money will never be given to expand mental health care services. People can’t even get healthcare for the physical bodies, let alone their minds. These killers leave behind manifestos specifically citing racism as their reason for killing dozens of innocent people and yet America still can’t take a good hard look at itself and say unequivocally that we have a massive problem with racism. Hate? Maybe if we all just hug each other more. Except kindness isn’t bullet-proof. Neither are thoughts and prayers.

But, hey, I get it. It’s easier to say this is a heart problem, a problem within these individuals, and then get back to the business of living than it is to realize that we have all contributed to this dystopian nightmare because of our collective complacency. Let alone do something meaningful about it. We can’t even be moved anymore by the images of young survivors of a school shooting on TV pleading for us to do something to save their lives. 

Tough break, kids. But really it’s your fault and all those video games you play. 

Afterall, the world can’t stop for every mass shooting when it happens all the time. We still have to make breakfast for the kids and send them off to school. We still have to go to the office. We still have to go shopping and head to church. It’s easier just to teach our toddlers how to run and hide when they hear gunshots going off. Easier to just turn off the news and shrug our shoulders at the growing piles of bloody dead bodies and dash off short tweets about how there will always be evil in the world. No need to actually try to stop it. 

Does this make you angry? Sad? Does it make you feel anything? Does it make you want to do anything? Are you nodding your head in recognition? Or getting ready to dash off a scathing comment about how they’ll be coming for your guns now even though no one has ever come for your guns? Not even after a classroom of kindergartners were slaughtered. 

Because it doesn’t matter. We can argue about this forever. 

And while we do, more of our children and friends and lovers and neighbors and classmates will die. 

And we’ll still be right here. Where we started. 

 

I ran 13.1 miles & all I got was this lousy self-esteem

People do dumb things. It’s one of the few things you can rely on. You’ve probably heard that old quote that goes “the only constant is change.” But really it should be amended to “the only constants are change and people do dumb things.”

I should know. I am a people and I just did something dumb.

I ran a half marathon on Saturday.

Not dumb enough for you? Just wait, there’s more. I ran a half marathon during a Nor’easter, which is a wicked storm featuring heavy rain and snow and strong winds.

Still not dumb enough for you? Here’s the best part. I paid not-dumb people $80 for this privilege.

If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would one day sign up to run a half marathon, I would have rolled my eyes so hard at you I would have seen my brain. Shoot, if you would have told me just last year that I would sign up to run a half marathon, I…well, I wouldn’t have heard you over my screaming children. But after I asked you to repeat it four times I would have responded by laughing so hard I probably would have woken up the baby and then I would have thrown a pan at your face for making me wake up the baby.

And yet, there I was. On Saturday in Cape Cod. Running 13.1 miles. In a row. On purpose.

Not only that, I trained for it. For months, I was getting up at 4:30 in the morning and strapping on my shoes and running four, five, six miles in the dark. On the weekends, it was seven, eight, nine miles. All on voluntary terms. All without anything chasing me. And all with no other purpose than I needed to run a lot to get ready to run even more.

Like I said, dumb.

On the plus side, it was also hard and painful and exhausting.

But it was transformative.

For some reason in our society we have this idea that people don’t change. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. But I do know we evolve.

We evolve with each trial and tribulation we overcome. We evolve every time we learn something new. With every new experience, every new person we meet, we evolve. We evolve every time we fall in love. We evolve with each heartbreak. We evolve when we hold our children for the first time.

And we evolve every time we conquer what we think is the unconquerable.

That’s why I signed up, dumb as it was. It’s easy to think that the way things are, the way you are, is how it will always be, how you will always be. I was a tired, overwhelmed mom who was getting increasingly frustrated at both herself and the way the world was.

But change is the only constant. And that’s why I ran (limped) for miles in a storm. To prove I could evolve. That I could become the kind of person who crosses the finish line. That I can be whoever I want.

And now that I did, I have a whole list of other unconquerables. I want to write a novel. And a children’s book. To become a decent photographer. To buy a house and foster orphaned pets. To be the best mom and wife and daughter I can. And, lord help me, to run a full marathon.

And there are now fewer doubts in my mind that I can do all these things. Because I evolved. Because through this experience, I became a better version of myself.

And look, this could just be the endorphins talking here, but finishing that half marathon gives me just a little bit more hope for all of us. We can be better. We can make this world better. We can do the impossible because history has shown us that doing the impossible is what humans excel at.

All we have to do is try hard. Forgive ourselves. And try harder.

And yes, I realize how naive this all sounds but hey, we could all stand to be a bit dumber that way.

This blog post is just one long internal scream

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Thanks for reading.

 

Because this Facebook post is going to save America

I’ve been reading a lot of Mark Twain this summer. In fact, a few weeks ago, I dramatically declared to my husband that “this is The Summer of Twain!” while wearing a straw hat and holding a fishin’ pole (because everything is more fun when you can annoy your spouse with it).

It started out that I simply wanted to re-read the adventures of Tom and Huck on long, hot, lazy afternoons. But then, while searching for my copies of these books, I found seven other Twain books languishing on my shelves. Challenge accepted! I thought to myself as I instantly started searching for fishin’ poles on Amazon so I could properly break the news to my husband.

I’m happy to report that so far it’s turning out to be one of my better life decisions (much better than my decision last summer to sign my toddler up for soccer). It’s also having some unexpected patriotic side effects.

I was halfway through “Tom Sawyer,” for example, when a flood of memories from my semi-feral childhood in rural Ohio crashed into my brain. The next thing I know I’m asking my kids if they want to go down to the “crick” and have a picnic (to which they responded by staring at me with professional-grade disdain).

I was only one chapter into “Life on the Mississippi” before I found myself doing CPR on my ancient, wheezing junior high plans to visit every state in the Union.

And then there’s the quotes. Oh, those quotes. The man would just spit out viral-ready gems like “Loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the government when it deserves it” long before the Internet was even a twinkle in Al Gore’s great-grandpa’s eye.

It’s that last one I blame for convincing me it was a good idea to write a political post on Facebook even though previous experience has taught me that there is only one way that ends, which is with all parties involved concluding this world can only be cleansed by fire.

I knew better. You reading this know better. My dog, who has his own Twitter account, knows better. Yet, there I was, romanticizing in my head how Twain brilliantly shed light on our faults as a country and why can’t I do that? I mean, I know words and stuff. Sometimes even BIG words. And with that fail-safe logic, I quickly assured myself that this Facebook political post would be different.

Not only that but it would MAKE all the difference.

It will be well-thought out, says I, clever even, a bit funny, yet poignant, a chastising that morphs into a rallying cry but with a sprinkling of self-deprecation so as to make the medicine go down easier. I mean, I’m not such a Pollyanna that I think a cheesy little paragraph on social media could truly solve anything (I’m only a quarter Pollyanna on my mother’s side). But, on the other hand, these four sentences could be the wisest and most courageous thing the Internet has ever seen.

I won’t know until I try, right?

So I type it out on my phone while pacing the dining room floor, my fingers flying over the tiny keyboard. I’m excited. Nervous almost. So much so it takes a while because I keep making typos. I reread it. Erase that part. Think it over. Put it back in. NO, SWEETIE, MOMMA CAN’T HELP YOU WITH YOUR UNDERWEAR. SHE’S BUSY SAVING AMERICA. Change the wording here. Is that how you spell “tyranny”? I don’t want to get ahead of myself but can you win awards for these kinds of thing? SO GO NAKED THEN. I’LL HELP WHEN I’M DONE BEING AN AMAZING PATRIOT.

I quickly post it. Before I lose my nerve. But already regret has started to set in. I take a deep breathe and remind myself it will all be fine. I just need to remember not to respond to any comments. I already said what I had to say. Let everyone else sling mud at each other down in the gutters.

And I firmly stick by that. For all of three minutes. It’s just this one guy, you know? He’s so smug. So I gently point out how he’s wrong. And three exchanges later, I gently point out how he can suck it. I’m outraged and also nauseous that anyone could believe the things this random person I now hate believes. But I can’t stop. I can’t just WALK AWAY. I have to win this fight. I have to make them see how stupid they are. Win the online fight, win AMERICA.

Except no one wins. Except maybe Facebook.

Hours, sometimes days, later, it’s all over and I feel vaguely dirty and vow to never, ever discuss politics ever again.

But I will. Because this country has been very good to me and I love it for that. So I’m going to keep fighting to make it good for everybody.

And because I may just be another idiot arguing on the Internet but I refuse to let those other idiots have the last word.

Maybe I don’t know everything

Here’s a fun perk about parenting that doesn’t get talked about often. When it comes to little kids, you can usually count on being the smartest person in the room.

Seriously. Children come into this world knowing nothing. Like, nothing. I literally had to explain to my almost 2-year-old what the sky was the other day.

It’s flattering in its own way. Your kids just assume you are the ultimate authority on everything. Which almost, ALMOST, makes up for the endless barrage of questions that pour out of their mouths on a daily basis.

Momma, where do squirrels live?

In trees, honey.

What is ice made of?

Frozen water.

Why do I have to go to sleep?

Because your body needs sleep to grow big and strong. And Momma is super behind on “Supernatural” episodes.

In the morning, answering these questions usually comes as naturally as breathing. In that I can’t stop to think about what I’m doing because then all I’d be doing is answering questions. So I just respond without even thinking about it as I go about my business.  

Are Kermit and Miss Piggy married?

It’s complicated, darling.

Why?

Because Kermit is afraid of commitment.

What’s that sign say?

Don’t walk.

Why are we walking then?

Because that sign is not the boss of me.

How does someone get to become President?

No one knows anymore, baby.

But as the day wears on, I start to stumble a bit. My all-knowing authority starts to show signs of weakness, their never-ending questions poking tiny logic holes everywhere.

Why can’t I watch TV all day, Momma?

Because it’s bad for you.

Why?

Because…sigh...because your brain needs stimulation.

What’s stimulation?

Um…everything that happens when you aren’t watching TV?

Do fish talk?

No, sweetie. Wait…I mean…yeah, no, they don’t. But I’m sure they communicate in some way. They’d have to, right?

And by the end of the day, when the caffeine has worn off and I’m exhausted and some pretty major parts of my brain have been liquified because my kids won’t stop saying “momomomomomomomom,” I begin to question my own grasp of this seemingly basic knowledge I am imparting to them.

Why can’t I say bad words?

Honestly? Mostly because it just reflects poorly on my parenting. Like, it’s cute if a 2-year-old says “damn it” but gets significantly less cute the older you get.

But don’t you say bad words?

I do. And I’m allowed to because…well, um…because I pay taxes. And the day you have to pay taxes, you can say all the bad words you want.

Is “fat” a bad word, Momma?

Oh god, kid. Um, some people think so. Although others don’t, they’re embracing it, reclaiming it, if you will. Technically it’s a descriptive word but in our society it’s been used as a kind of verbal weapon. So really it depends how much power you personally give the word. I guess. Is it your bedtime yet?

What is the coldest season?

Winter.

What is the second coldest season?

Fall. Er…although it could also be spring. Let’s just say they’re tied.

Why is it called fall? Like fall down?

Yeah, because the leaves fall off the trees during that time of year. Although it’s also called autumn.

Why do the leaves fall down? Do they need a bandaid?

Sigh…um, the leaves fall because of…is it to conserve water or something? During the winter? I think. And no they don’t need bandaids. The leaves are dead. OH CRAP, I MEAN…

What’s dead mean, Momma?

WHO WANTS ICE CREAM!?

Will you die someday? Will I? How about Daddy? Where do you go when you die? Is dead like sleeping? Will I die when I go to sleep? Can I sleep in your bed tonight?

And then by the time I’m in bed (trying to ignore the kicking and thrashing of my traumatized children) I’m starting to question everything.

But, I mean, where DO we go when we die? Heaven? Hell? Is it just a vast nothingness? Do animals have souls? Dogs must, if anything. I don’t want to spend eternity somewhere that doesn’t allow dogs in. Why would an all-knowing Creator create dogs and then not let them run around in the afterlife? What kind of cruel joke is that? WHY ARE WE EVEN HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!? WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE!? AND DID I REMEMBER TO TURN OFF THE COFFEEMAKER!?

The good news is that after this awful sleepless night I get to wake up, covered in little, tiny bruises, and do it all over again.

Morning, Momma! Why do you drink so much coffee? Can I have some coffee? Is coffee like chocolate? It looks like chocolate. Can I have chocolate for breakfast?

 

To Whom It May Concern (yes, you)

I didn’t want it to have to come to this. No one ever does. Love means never having to hire a lawyer. Or at least it should.

But, alas, here we are. It is indeed regrettable but unfortunately necessary at this point.

And so, it is with a heavy heart that I must inform you, dear children, that you are in violation of our prenatal agreement.

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Actually, you’ve both been in violation of various parts of it for quite some time now. Remember Section 1, Subsection C, Paragraph 2? Thou shall not give the mother stretch marks?

(Note: I don’t really know much legal jargon so I just mixed in a bunch of Biblical vocabulary to make it sound more official. Also I was getting high on cheeseburgers every day during the drafting of the original document so I can’t really be held responsible for my state of mind at the time).

Well, I do have stretch marks. Lots of them. My hips look like they’ve been mauled by a cranky tiger.

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But since you both kept up your end of the Principal Birth Accord and came out healthy and with the appropriate amount of digits, I’m willing to waive the Stretch Mark Clause. Especially in light of the fact that you have both remained healthy and have kept all the aforementioned digits in excellent condition. (Although I do feel it pertinent to remind you at this juncture that Section 5, Paragraph 6 forbids those digits from coming within three inches of the nasal area).

However, I need you both to immediately cease and desist with any and all public tantrums. A fetus is able to hear inside the womb starting at around 16 weeks, so I know you heard me when I said “you are never allowed to flop on the floor, kicking and screaming, while occupying space on public property.” This is what’s known as a verbal agreement, kids. Which is legally binding.

Probably.

Which means that last week, when the two of you threw a simultaneous tantrum inside the grocery store because you both got the exact same number of stickers from the cashier, which made Defendant No. 1 mad because, and I quote, “I wanted more stickers than her,” and made Defendant No. 2 mad because, and I quote “MORE ‘DICKERS, MOMMA,” you were in violation of Section 8, Subsection K, Paragraph 2, AND Paragraph 7 (the latter of which specifies that any and all tantrums may not be about something ridiculous and/or dumb).

And did you or did you not kick my bladder in acquiescence when I asked you to agree that thou shalt never complain about what I cooked for dinner? Let me refresh your memory: You both did. Hard. In fact, one of you agreed so heartily that I peed myself a little.

And yet, almost every meal that is not composed of just a giant bowl of ketchup is met with a resounding chorus of whining and various other dramatic theatrics. Meaning you are in violation of Section 10, Paragraph 37, also known as the “Shut Up And Eat It” stipulation.

And I think we can all agree that last night’s flagrant disregard of Section 17, Paragraph 1, commonly referred to as the “No Pooping in the Tub” restriction, was highly regrettable and caused no small amount of distress, both mentally and physically, for all involved.    

As is noted in great detail in Section 26, Subsection F, Paragraph 3 through 119 of the Prenatal Agreement, I love you both very much. Which is why, despite these unpleasant legal matters, I am still willing to act as your Maternal Unit with the priviso that you reread and reacquaint yourself with the particularities of Section 45, also known as the “Knock It Off” contingency, and Section 48, also known as the “So Help Me” eventuality.

Cordially Yours,

Momma