Thursday, May 21, 2009

39 days till I'm off the financial hook!

That's when my beautiful daughter turns 18 years old and I change the locks and put all the boxes of her shit out on the porch, including her cat in a cardboard carrier. Don't worry, I'll put a little dish of water in there with him, jeez! Oh Calgon, take me away! If only I were truly that cold!

My dear sweet angel was a late bloomer in the acting out department. Pretty darned wonderful until her junior year and then all the things that other people's kids do started to tick off on the teenage horror checklist one by one. Overall, she's still been pretty good, and I do have extremely high expectations for everyone and everything in my life, but... you know, I was SO much better than her when I was her age, weren't you?

I certainly wasn't as materialistic, I'll tell you that! Shit, my single mom couldn't even afford to buy me the pair of roller skates I wanted, I think I had two new bikes my whole life up to 25, but of course since I'm old as shit, there weren't anywhere near as many gizmos back then for kids to want! I was extrememly stoked by the cassette/recorder player that I got in 1970. I walked around with the microphone for weeks, recording everyone for my 'television' show.

In my darling's lifetime (and there's her 23 year old brother who's had plenty of stuff, too) she's had 4 or 5 bikes, 2 or 3 pairs of roller blades, an iPod, a digital camera, a couple of cell phones, a small menagerie of animals (guinea pigs, cats, mice, hamsters, dogs, chickens), and LOTS of clothes and accesories. She is always wanting something, or so it seems. I finally had her start a list, which hangs on the fridge, so that when she begins to ask for something, I just say "Put it on the list."

The latest items to be added to the list are: Prom dress, Grad Night Party outfit, Grad party, presents for graduating friends. Who the f*ck does she think I am, Leona Helmsley? Last Sunday we were all set to go out and shop for the first item, since that's occurring first. Now I HATE shopping, but I was actually looking forward to it. Thought we might do a little shopping, have a little lunch, do more shopping if we hadn't already been successful. I was into the idea, which shopping-wise, occurs about as often as when I want to clean the house from top to bottom or cook a week's worth of meals in one day = 3-4 times a year, MAX.

The night before I had spent the night at a friend's house. On my way home I get a phone call from my ex who has obviously fallen off the wagon in a BIG way, AGAIN. Great start to my morning. When I arrive at my house around 11:00 am, about half a dozen male and female kids come pouring out of the house. Nora said they came over for breakfast. Hmmm. She looks pretty tired, wearing shades. By the time we get to our first stop, about 20 minutes away, it becomes apparent to me that she is hung over. While she is looking in a store my ex's sister calls and asks if I can do anything to help ex. "Yeah," I tell her, "I can drive him to the bridge AND push him off." She is quiet. While I'm thinking of what to say to her next, my daughter comes out of the store quickly and runs to a nearby trash can where she proceeds to toss up cookies from the night before. Mmmmmm. Who wants lunch?

So on the way home, after I ream her for at least 10 minutes, she tells me to "seriously, stop talking" to which I answer "When are you moving out again?" to which she replies "as soon as possible" and to which I get in the final word "not soon enough."

Birthday present? How about a nice sleeping bag, a hefty Safeway gift card, a Target gift card and a nice duffle bag. Giving your 18 year old a gaggle of grown up gifts = $500. Having the house to yourself? Priceless.

Monday, May 11, 2009

So So Mutha's Day

Mother’s Day was a bit of a let down. Not because I’m a glass-is-half-empty person, but because I pine for the days when my children were young and made me cards, gave me presents, and attempted to pamper me the whole day, even if it was a result of direction from other adults. I mean, c’mon, one day out of the whole friggin' year? Okay there’s your birthday, but often that’s a let down, too.

I don’t know if it’s ‘cause I’m getting old and sentimental, or if it’s because the world is in fact going to hell in the proverbial hand basket, but I swear try not to dwell on how often I’m disappointed in things. I know it’s because my expectations are too high, driven by the fact that I'm both a person who strives for excellence and works in an industry where perfection is the unattainable ideal. Regardless, I find myself daydreaming more and more, dallying along in my imaginary world, interspersed with the niceties of this one, in other words, I am slowly slipping into dementia, and that’s okay. It keeps me from hurting people.

I’ve always had an inability to block out the depressing aspects of life. It’s one of the reasons I had to leave NYC. The daily viewings of the homeless sleeping in doorways or huddled on benches with their blistered, swollen fingers and bare legs baring open sores in the cold evoked an unshakable melancholy that no amount of all night partying at the clubs or Bloomingdale’s shopping could purge. Back then my defense was to think of spiking cheap jug wine with cyanide and going out with little paper cups to dispense to them all, thereby cleaning up the streets and allowing me to focus solely on the tulips and crocus backed by the cold bright, blue sky.

Now that I'm 'of a certain age' I’m more prone to look at my neighborhood crazies with more compassion than melancholy. In the current economic climate, I realize we all are but a handfull of paychecks away of possibly being one of them.

'Hummer Man' walks the streets all day long having two way conversations with presumably his ex-wife (if in fact there ever was one) who apparently left him because she no longer loved him. When the rote conversation runs its course, he hums while the tape rewinds to its beginning only to be enacted all over again in the continuous loop.

'Sucks Man' walks the streets declaring everything sucks. He obviously either reads the paper or watches TV, because what sucks is always current. Last summer it was gas prices suck, followed by Obama sucks, then Christmas sucks, New Year’s sucks, Valentines sucks, you name it, it sucks. Among the litany of all the things that sucks are many truths - medical sucks, the economoy sucks, dog shit sucks, cars suck, etc.

'Hitch-in-his-get-along Rapper Dude' raps loudly as he swaggers along to the corner market for what I presume is a cold beverage of some sort. I’ve never been close enough to him to see if he's listening to music through headphones or just singing along with his inner voices. I’ve never recognized any of the songs, but I appreciate his enthusiasm.

'Head-tilting Guy' walks slowly along the main drag, with his head severely tilted to the left as though it’s just about ready to drop off and roll down into the gutter where I imagine seeing it promptly get run over by a bus, ala squishy movie noises and all. He is stick thin and breathes laboriously.

What I couldn’t help thinking about all this weekend when I observed each and every one of them is how they were once some one’s baby - loved and swaddled, cooed and sung to, and here they are, living the rough life of the streets. I wonder if those mothers think the same as a friend of mine’s who on more than one occasion said to he and his brother (while brandishing a cigarette between her first two fingers, gesturing accusedly) “I shoulda had PUPPIES!”

As much as we love them, the disappointment we sometimes feel when we realize we have no control and they're growing into the fairy tale child we imagined when they were young can sometimes feel overwhelmingly sorrowful.
The inner tapes that play over and over in our heads. Are we to blame? Where did we go wrong? Maybe I shouldn't have had children because my best wasn't good enough.

…accept the things you cannot change, courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
My mantra, though it doesn’t always help.