Life as We Make It

Making My World a Better Place, One Mess at a Time

19 December

The Existential Crisis of Icicle Lights

For his entire life, my youngest son has dreamed of a house all tarted up for Christmas, with Icicle lights and giant candy canes. I have expressly failed in this effort for 17 years. So, as we are approaching the theoretical end of his tenure as the Last Child at Home, I decided to finally, finally produce the magical holiday vision his inner child has longed for. Happily, a friend who is decluttering passed along her copious strings of icicle lights, which I gleefully scooted home with. The testing of lights produced – nothing. Nada. No lights working. I scoured the internets, determined to find a solution, got out my screw driver to try to change the fuse, tried to use the mystifying bulb gun that came with the set that is supposed to determine faulty bulbs, testing random bulbs with no effect. And then – I started crying. The icicle lights, the expression of love I so desperately wanted to show my baby, my 6 foot tall hulking baby, presented All of the Failure. My annoying self-sufficiency was useless, and all I wanted was to have someone in my life who could finally step in and say “Here – let me lift this burden from you. I will fix this for you” words never before uttered in my ear. But no. Instead, I was simply a lonely woman of a certain age sniveling in the kitchen in a sea of dead Icicle Light Dreams. Then, Lo! Did yonder bin of lights reveal a box! These were GE Holiday Lights with an 800 number. Hope! I called GE Holiday Lights 800 number, confident that soon we would be all lit up. The kindly almost reasonably competent English speaking fellow on the other end tried valiantly to provide help, but ultimately determined that these GE Holiday Lights were a knock-off illegally sporting the GE logo. The poor fellow, sitting somewhere overseas with his head-set on listening to a despondent woman weeping over her failed Icicle Lights, sweetly repeating in his lilting English “I am so sorry Belle. I wish I could help you.” I am so glad it wasn’t a video call so that he did not see a woman squatting on the floor with a cell phone to her ear, a tiny screwdriver clutched in her hand sporting ruined mascara and a possible booger dangling from the end of her pointy red nose.

Sigh. Hanging up, I sat full on the floor and wept, indulging in an epic Pity Party for one. For, just as we must engage in Self Love, I think Self Pity is underrated as a gift as well. Isn’t feeling sorry for yourself an act of compassion? Eventually I patted myself on the head, blew my nose, put on new mascara, girded my loins, and drove to Target, where I bought $83.00 worth of New Dreams. I have pressed Middle Son, who is broke and home from college, into service to help produce this vision, and by day’s end our Icicle Lights will shine like a beacon, a veritable Hallmark Movie happy ending, with the important distinction being we won’t be toasting with hot chocolate and marshmallows around the fire. Because after all dat, Belle with need her friend Mr. Bushmills to warm up with.

04 December

How Green Was My Valley of …

Once upon a time, CQ, my brother, wrote a children’s book called “Don’t Say Fuck”. As I recall, the young protagonist had a weak arsenal of curse words, with “Butt Spoon” being his power move. I would say that was a more innocent time, but I can’t remember being innocent, so I won’t. But it was a time when saying “Fuck” held real power. Now, my refrigerator boasts three magnets using “Fuck”. I went to a craft show this past weekend where amongst the delicate and exquisitely crafted illustrations of whimsical foxes in waistcoats and hand forged blades was a booth of little ceramic cup and plate sets with “Fuck”, Fuckety Fuck”, and “Fuck It” discretely embossed on each one. I thought about buying them – for my mother. FOR MY FUCKING MOTHER! There is a veritable tidal wave of “Fuck” upon us, and instead of Turtles, it is “Fucks” all the way down.

I’m taking “Fuck” back. I am entering a “Fuck” free zone, where “Fuck” will get respect again. Perhaps precisely because I do Give a Fuck about a lot of things, My Field of Fucks is no longer barren, but fertile and rich with All The Fucks I Give, and I must be a discerning cultivator of my harvest. I need my Fucks to grow to monstrous heights with deep roots so that when I rend them from the land they will be the Mightiest Fucks of All.

So, Gentle Reader, I am turning in my “Fuck” license, or at least updating my registration to a Learner’s Permit. I have not been conscientious in my locution as regards to “Fuck”, and thus must do a stint in rehab until I can better grasp the great responsibility of wielding “Fucks” again.

07 January

Dear Soul Crushing Bitch

Thanks for turning a challenging yet exciting project for my recalcitrant 15 year old into a crushing defeat. Assigned to memorize and recite a monologue, my normally at best indifferent to studying child threw himself into memorizing Aragorn’s Not This Day speech from Lord of the Rings. He practiced, I helped coach him – it was so, so much nicer than the normal hand wringing and occasional screaming involved with helping with homework.

Pumped for his performance, he left for school not with his normal shuffle but with Actual Excitement. Actual. Excitement. You know, it takes courage for a 15 year old boy to stand before his peers to perform. As he launched into his performance, you stopped him, saying he could not read the piece because it was not from a play. I am not sure where that communication broke down, but apparently it did. You went on further to tell him it couldn’t be something he had seen before, because he was supposed to read something that he could “make his own”. Because as we all know, only one actor can ever perform a piece, and no other actor can adapt that and “make it his own”. There have never been any part reprised, no adaptations, no actors replaying roles that have already been done.

Feeling shamed, angry, and defeated, my son came home to relate the story. He gets home at 4:15. The alternative you gave him was to That Night memorize a piece from a play in order to get credit. Daunting. I pulled down several plays from the shelf and found a monologue from Richard V that was in the similar vain of inspiring troops to war, wasn’t so overwhelmingly Shakespearean in language and coached him through it as best I could, He was intimidated but worked hard into the night to get er done. Understanding and memorizing a Shakespeare piece in 6 hours is hard for actors. Guess what? My son isn’t an actor!

Well, Little Lady, you truly cemented your Bitch of the Year award by then informing him that it couldn’t be Shakespeare, either, as you already had studied Shakespeare and wanted something contemporary. While clearly this boy somehow missed the details of the assignment, he clearly got the spirit of it, worked hard, got shot down, worked hard, got shot down. What an amazing educational moment. Couldn’t you have let him get through his chosen performance and spoken to him after class to work something out? Could you have handled this any worse? You have made me want to shout out “Break a Leg!” with a whole new intention behind it.

So I leave you with this
“You starvelling, you eel-skin, you dried neat’s-tongue, you bull’s-pizzle, you stock-fish–O for breath to utter what is like thee!-you tailor’s-yard, you sheath, you bow-case, you vile standing tuck!”

10 December

I Was Drunk

Helloooooo! Well, I’m back. I would have been back a while ago, but, well, I was Drunk. I thought of making up some other, less seedy explanation, but when one writes a blog about the honest goings on in one’s world, making up excuses seems like, well, like cheating. And that shit ain’t right.

I wish I could say that it was fun and games, drinking martinis and living the high life kind of drunk, and there were martinis, but it was so much more mundane than that. Mostly just me and Mr. Wine Bottle, spending fuzzy nights together, sending the days and evenings into a half-lidded slurring haze with some visible bruising.

Just so you know, being drunk for an extended period of time is a whole lot harder than it looks. So much to keep up with! There are all of the excuses one has to keep straight, the various justifications, the constant nattering in one’s own head about To Drink or Not To Drink (the answer is always yes), the timing – honestly that is probably the hardest; what time is it ok to start (5:00 somewhere, etc…), planning when you can’t drive or talk on the phone, making sure you don’t roll over on a candle and Light Yourself on Fire (missed the timing on that one), making sure you can carry your computer up the stairs at night while balancing a glass of wine (note: computers can’t even handle one glass of wine being poured into them – pussies), see where I’m going? It’s a lot of work. And then there is all the “forgetting”: combine being drunk with menopause and you get pretty much a wipe out in the memory department.

One also has to deal with Feeling Like Shit pretty much all of the time. This is a body and soul combo. Carrying around a sack of Shame while massaging your aching liver and trying to clear you addled mind is a feat not to be taken on by the weak. I’m just going to give you a PSA and say Kids: Don’t Try This at Home. Thank the Great Whomever that I have the stout constitution I posses. During this time I had to have some blood work, and when the Doctor got to “liver enzymes normal” I said “Get OUT! For Real?”

Basically, I woke up one morning and realized my plane was being co-piloted by Mr. Wine Bottle and Lady Depression, and that Reason, Integrity, Priorities, and Character were all wondering around in the cabin looking for the Real Pilot who was slumped in the toilet with her panties around her ankles and a pile of empty tiny airline liquor bottles littering the nasty floor. Niiiice. The Reality Police stepped in, pulled me from the stall, forced me to drink a cup of coffee and some water (shudder) and handed me the keys to the cockpit. “Well, Missy – the radar says we are off course and headed to Fuckedtown. Fly it or we’re going down.” Fuckedtown is in no way as fun sounding as Funky Town. So I pulled up my panties, brushed the stains from my teeth, and snuck up on the cockpit, where Mr. Wine Bottle was grinning behind the throttle while Lady D was idling next to him, perfecting her thousand yard stare and wondering about Nothing.

Once you are Drunk, you cannot become UnDrunk. It’s a Bummer Fact that is unavoidable. If you have not completely veered off the road into delusion, you are left with the chatter of your reasonably Compis Menti self who reminds you you are Drunk. CM wants you not to be Drunk, but the cork is out of the bottle, like the proverbial Genie, and if you have a shred of self possession you know that drunk is Drunk and there is no putting the wine back in the bottle. Once the line has been crossed, your computer has drowned and your sweater is on fire.

Did you know that F. Scott Fitzgerald created a journal of sorts which noted what he had been doing month to month, season to season? There are whole slots in there which just read “Drunk”. So I have had talented company, although Dead from Drink company, so maybe not so great.

Just to note there has been a whole other wealth of despair and angst over the past while – being broke, being depressed, being soul crushed at work, having a flat ass. But those are just the conversation pieces of Why I Was Drunk. The great thing about saying “I was Drunk because” is that you can insert anything you want after that and have it sound plausible – to you. “I Was Drunk because the roof was leaking on my parents while they slept in the guest bed.” “I Was Drunk because my dog chewed on his ass all night.” “I was Drunk because OxyClean did not successfully remove the mold from the shower curtain.” “I was drunk because I decided not to Be Drunk anymore and celebrated by getting Drunk!” I was Drunk because of these things, and because I was broke and depressed and lonely and bored. But it just became clear one day that Being Drunk was simply the easiest one to pull out of the rotation.

I’m not going to go all AA on anyone. I have simply decided that temperance is a much better approach. You would have to pry the occasional martini out of my warm, living hands.

So I am back, here to stay, and please stay tuned for a new chapter of Life As We Make It.

10 November

Oops, I Did it Again

Well, Damn. I know I said I was going to try to fall in love with someone in my zip code. But that didn’t happen At All. Nope! I really went all out this time, falling for someone 4436 miles across the sea. Yep! But I was helpless — one just doesn’t say “No” to a super sexy world-travelling note-taking poetry quoting Gallic God who says things like “Is www.lifeaswemakeit something I can read ? It is so full of Russians that my Gallic Napoleonic Grand army memory-genes raise to cross the Moskowa and burn Moscow again!” The technical term for saying “No” to this man is “Fool.” I am not a fool. Plus, has anyone ever said “Wow, I really hate that I have to go to the beautiful south of France for a rendezvous with a seriously sexy Frenchman”? Anyone? If so, you are a “Fool”.

It all started innocently enough – old friends, flirty emails, amusing ourselves, until one day I threw gasoline all over that smoldering flame and BOOM! Because I am a gasoline kind of girl at heart. I don’t mess around. Time’s a-wasting, kids! Plus, a while back I consulted a medium who told me that in all of my past lives I have been a Dude, so I am absolutely making the most out of being a Chick in this one. Plus, she told me to say “Yes” a lot. She also told me to go to Minnesota, but I had to politely decline that particular piece of advice.

I have no idea how any of this will turn out. But who knows how anything will turn out? There is not much point in pondering outcomes, unless it involves something that might land you in the pokey. And there is simply No Fucking Way I would ever want to look back and say “I wish I gone to visit that Seriously Sexy Frenchman in the beautiful south of France.” Because that would make me a Fool.

09 November

Dear Booger

Thanks for hanging out with me today! Especially for accompanying me to the grocery store. Just you and me, shopping chatting with folks. I thought people were really putting out a rude vibe and was losing my faith in humanity, but no! It was just you, little buddy. All that not making eye contact and scurrying away was simply the horror of your fat, white, blobby self, airing yourself on the tip of my long pointy nose. And I learned some stuff: like, that vanity check in the visor mirror needs to be done before one goes out in public – not after! And a social lesson – no one will stop and say “You have a slimy booger on your nose.” Not. One. Person. It’s an Emersonian world out there: Self-Reliance! And you totally have that going on, stubbornly refusing to part ways when it was obviously time for you to go. Thinking back on the whole experience, I realize that I probably traumatized a lot of people today, with you and the yoga pants covered in dog hair, plus my unwashed multi-colored hair wrestled into semi-submission with a scrunchy with bits flying out at odd angles, not romantic tendrils, but more like a witch who was “passing”. Your parting gift, and I bless you for this, is that I gave myself permission to drink a beer upon return to the mothership. If I hadn’t drunk all the vodka, I would have started there. Hmm. Looks like another trip to the store is in order. Visor check!

11 September

They Say It’s Your Birthday

It’s My Birthday, Too, Yeah!

Yes, yes, yes. I know… But I have been distracted. I mean, there is the whole Work Thing which cuts deeply into the required procrastination time that feeds my artistic machine. Then there were the Sexy Russians. Sexy, Sexy Russians. I have to say I took my predilection for long distance relationships to the outer limits on that one. So I ran away with the Gypsies for a bit, both figuratively and literally. And The Big Red House is sagging — and hey! I am too!

So, some reflections: No one can trash a house and be irresponsible with money like Texter and I. Honestly, if there were a prize for such things we would have won a freaking MacArthur Foundation Genius Award. I am Really Sorry I passed that one along to you, honey. And with you being an artist, well, good luck with getting over that.

The Needler is a Completely Cool Dude. When he descends on the BRH, the energy soars and general hilarity ensues. He is also capable of squeezing his Benjamins in a way that Baffles and Impresses Texter and me. Please amass a Fortune and take care of Mommy.

Pokester has the most Angelic Face for such a pushy little blind man. His voice has changed, and sometimes, I can almost sense him being Kind. He has also the ability to hoard his cash, so two possibilities for late life care-taking, although I am pretty sure he would slap me right into the fanciest home possible to avoid the eventuality that one of us would kill each other.

Boils. Not Cool. Especially on your Ass. I looked up home remedies and discovered that bacon was offered as a cure. Well, bacon I had, so, yes, I slapped some on my ass, affixed with a Snoopy band-aid. Two Amazing Things happened. One, the Boil Went Away. Two, when I got up the next morning and Big Gay J did his ass-sniffing ritual, he discovered the Holy of Holies: Mom’s Ass had become Bacon Ass. I think he can die a Happy Man, now.

Spiders can actually take over your house. Completely.

A car can continue operating even when the engine mounts break and the engine is resting on the frame. It sounds as though the front end of the car is going to crack and fall off, but It Doesn’t!

If I Run Away with the Gypsies and jump up and down in the Mosh Pit for 2 hours, I will wet my pants. Not in an “Oops!” way but in an “Uh Oh” way. Plan Accordingly.

Never say “I Can’t Take Any More.” Because, Guess What? You Can! And this is a Direct Challenge to the Universe to say “Sure you can, Little Lady!” and the Fuck Your Shit Directly Up. Take my word on this one. Don’t Say It.

That’s about it for now. I have to go do The Work Thing. And I think, perhaps, more of the Writing Thing. Happy Birthday to Me. Everybody Drink!

10 December

Drop the Charges!

Apparently, my brain decided to assign medical power of attorney over to my gallbladder, which instantly ordered a Cease and Desist order to my digestive system and revoked my Pork and Pilsners license. In technical terms, this is called a Bummer. The Russians were helpful. Did I mention I have been collecting Russians? Really, my collection is coming along nicely. One quickly sent me the largest box of green tea bags ever manufactured. Another one kindly suggested that perhaps I could simply stop having “pork orgies”. I tried reasoning with said gallbladder, but it reminded me that if you can actually feel your internal organs trying to do their assigned tasks, you have a problem. I tried sneaking one little sausage by it this past weekend, but it gave a sharp reminder that it was Not Cool with that. So, okay. Pork I can set gently aside for now. But the pilsners? Tough one. Tough. I will drink the tea. I am drinking a Seriously Nasty concoction of Chinese herbs. I am letting a woman put needles in my body. So all I want for Christmas is my alcohol license back. Please Santa. Let me Be Merry.

02 October

Good Morning?

So, coked-up squirrels broke into my brain last night and ran riot through all of the furrows, pulling out old files, tossing around anxieties and memories and future failures – all night. They must have robbed their dealer because they had plenty to blow to keep them in a chattering frenzy. I pulled out every hippy new age remedy I could find, flipping mantras like Frisbees, (I think they just ate those). I did deep breathing, relaxed my muscles, I freaking prayed but they were ceaseless. This activity was supported by Big Gay J shifting around approximately every 23 minutes trying to get comfortable, as he is getting Old and is uncomfortable in his bones so must let out an Old Man sigh with each and every movement. In the few moments where I did get some sleep, I dreamed of sleeping chastely next to the man I love and who loves me but distance and circumstances make it impossible for us to be together, and then wandering around in a huge castle that was inexplicably well-kept up and seemed to have nefarious businesses that kept it in such good nick. All in all, not the best way to spend 8 hours or so.

When the alarm went off, the squirrels scattered, likely running up into the trees where they would be sleeping it off while I put on my work clothes, fed Pokester, walked Big Gay J in the rain, and discovered not 1, but 2 leaks in my house. Blink blink. Very much a where is my passport and local arsonist kind of morning.

But – My hair looks pretty good. And my horoscope says something to the effect that every single thing is super fantastic and you will have the best week of your life! So I have that working for me. Plus, I seem to have largely recovered from what felt and sounded like some sort of Victorian Consumption. I was so sick that Pokester brought me tea in bed and held my hand for a while until he flung it down and said “You know, when people do that in the movies, the person on the bed dies.” I have to take that as a positive, since when he came to that image he did not continue holding my hand to see if it would happen.

More happy news? It is pay day. And while I had visions of a new pair of shoes that have been shoved aside by a leaking roof, pay day is pay day. And even as I continue my life-long living out of the song Brandy, who loves a man who is not around, love is lovely. So take that coke-head squirrels.

31 August

Spidey Senses

Well, Hello.

Sorry to have been away for so long, but I broke a nail. And a tooth. And I have been counting spiders. If you are missing any, they are here at The Big Red House. It is very possible that spider webs are the only thing holding my house together at this point. Well, the laundry probably serves as the foundation. Honestly, I think I could weave a blanket out of spider webs, which would be a really cool present to give the The Needler, as spiders are his kryptonite. I am actually scanning the room right now to see if there is a single spider free area. The answer is no. I could look for the hidden meanings of spiders, like, check out the Spirit Animal Guide. I can just picture the entry: “When a spider shows up, it means you are a sorry ass housekeeper who can’t even get off your skinny ass to wipe off a window sill. You also might be a recluse and probably drink too much. Alone. Loser.”

And, of course, along with the spiders come a dazzling array of dangling, desiccated former flying insects. But as I sit and contemplate this tableau, I realize that The Pokester may finally get his wish to really sass up The Big Red House for Halloween. We already look like a haunted house! And given that now none of the exterior lights work, it will be dark and creepy with an array of poisonous arachnids dangling on the front porch. I could drop a spider in every little grubby bag thrust in front of me. 10, even! Ha! Trick? or Treat? Hey, kids! The one with the red hour glass is extra tasty!

Anyway. It is great to be back