Stages of efficient Christmas decorating for peak family bonding

by renegademama

 

  1. On the first Saturday of December, decide to “put lights up” and “get the tree today” and prepare for it by lying on your bed and texting a friend about her afternoon plans and how you’d rather do that.
  2. Wonder if there’s some way you can avoid “getting the tree today.”
  3. Keep doing that until 2pm.
  4. Realize if you don’t get the tree today you’ll have to do it on a weekday after school, which sounds like hell.
  5. Head out to locally owned Christmas tree farm at 2:30pm because you are a thoughtful progressive who wants to support local business. Engage in deep tree analysis based on needle-type, bushy/not bushy, whether or not there’s a “good side,” how many holes exist in the branches, how dry it already is, and, my personal favorite, the fucking price.
  6. Find tree whole family likes only to realize it’s $80. Head to second family owned Christmas tree farm because you refuse to give your money to Home Depot.
  7. Experience same at second place.
  8. Feel your soul leaving your body as you drive to Home Depot.
  9. Find seventeen trees that five out of six of your family members like while trying not to lose toddler in tree rows and/or parking lot since you are, in fact, in a fucking parking lot. Listen to your teenager shame you for having no soul whatsoever, buying a tree from a corporate parking lot “farm.” To which you respond, “I know. I felt it leave my body.”
  10. Realize you no longer care what the tree looks like or who hates it and finally buy one. For $40. Thank you, Home Depot.
  11. Get home and remember you didn’t clear a spot for the tree or get the Christmas boxes out because you fucked around on your phone instead.
  12. Clear a spot for the tree and bring all decorations in and untangle lights and want to die.
  13. At 4:45pm, begin putting lights up on the house. At 5pm, notice it’s dark. Ask yourself why you laid on your bed all morning instead of addressing your life.
  14. At 5:15pm, watch a teenager scream and storm into the house while you point out that he’s “ruining family bonding time.” In doing so, make things immediately worse.
  15. Argue with your partner about light placement, find yourself unable to locate necessary extension cords.
  16. Drive to Walmart to buy extension cords. If you had soul left, it’s gone now.
  17. 6:30pm! Get lights up! Nailed it. It’s super janky but who the fuck cares?
  18. Feel Christmas spirit as you stand in front of the house Griswold-style and watch daddy flip the lights on. Think about how your 17-year-old is nearing the last years she’ll do this, maybe. Cry?
  19. Watch the other teenager get angry. Good feeling gone at second storm into house.
  20. Want to go to bed but remember tree situation.
  21. Decide you just need to get the tree in water so it’s not a fire hazard in two weeks, and we’ll decorate tomorrow “I promise!”
  22. Search garage for tree stand.
  23. Do not find tree stand.
  24. Remember that last year you got rid of tree stand because it was a piece of shit.
  25. Wish you could do life over again or at least that single moment because a piece of shit stand is more than you have now.
  26. Yell at somebody.
  27. Listen to husband offer to take all the kids to Target to buy a tree stand. Tell him he is your Lord and Savior.
  28. Clean the fucking house a little since you neglected it all day, build a fire, and really feel that Christmas spirit, alone, in the house, in sweet, sweet silence. Alone. In the house. How Christmas is supposed to fucking be. Wait.
  29. Watch your husband return. Move shit out of the way for the tree. Puke at what you find beneath furniture.
  30. Observe your husband on the ground trying to get the new tree stand to work. Suggest he stop saying “This motherfucker does not work!”
  31. Sit on couch and offer super helpful directions that increase “motherfucker” utterances.
  32. Have one kid hold tree while you stand across the room and attempt to get it straight. Eventually also realize you don’t care.
  33. The next day, when you’re supposed to be decorating it, write a blog post to your friends.

And, you’re done!

*****

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11 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | December 2, 2018

Some things I hope for you, daughter, on your seventeenth birthday

by renegademama

You were in your car-seat and I was driving around a corner in the post office parking lot, getting ready to throw some letters in the drive-by mailbox. It was then that it hit me: My mother loved me the way I love you. She was all wrapped up in me – air, life, soul – I held all that for her.

I called my mother. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I never knew.”

Your tiny body. Your little self. I was 22. You were two weeks old.

And when I got onto that road, I thought about 18 years. I thought how I got 18 years with you in my house, at least, and a lifetime as your mother, and then, that day, and for so many days after, those 18 years stretched in front of me like a wild, eternal road.

Today you turn seventeen.

I could write what it feels like to see you standing in a doorway, your face suddenly drawn with wisdom, your eyes echoing more than a reflection of daddy of me. When did that happen? I guess that happens.

Your refusal to buy suede cleaner from Amazon because you “don’t want to give Jeff Bezos more money.” Your phone-banking in the midterms. Your gleeful pre-voting registration. Your disdain for single-use plastics.

I see your heart. Your diligence and teenage clarity and energy. I remember when things were straightforward.

I see the muscles in your arms and legs and the way your hair falls across your shoulders.

You’re more of my friend, now, than you’ve ever been. I’m your mother, but we laugh like friends, sisters. And we fight like that, too. When it’s over, we laugh about our tempers being the same. You say “I got this from you!” And I can’t argue. We try to be better together.

You drive now. I watch you pull away from the house and I’m reminded of those clichéd movies. The fear you feel when the daughter drives away. It’s true.

You learned to drive a stick shift. You ride your mountain bike even when blood runs down your legs. You joined cross-country and nearly puke after races.

Your Twitter feed is my favorite ever. You comment on my Instagram and I feel a little like a super star.

Eighteen years.

Not yet. Not yet.

It’s getting close. It makes me think.

I hope you know you don’t have to leave, and you don’t have to stay. I hope you know the screaming matches are just as they should be and we’re alright. I hope you know how happy I am you agree we must always say “I love you” before we leave the house, no matter how mad we are.

Those must be the last words because sometimes they are the last words.

I hope you never take any shit from men. I hope if you’re harassed you’ll raise hell. I hope if you’re grabbed you’ll scream. I hope you never accept the things I accepted. The years coming your way, these are the ones when it all goes down.

I hope you know we’re here to kick some ass for you.

I hope you’ll wear make-up if you want and never wear it if you don’t want and I hope you’ll get into tight clothes if you want and I hope you’ll wear hoodies if you want and I hope you’ll know your body as your friend.

There were so many things I thought were decided for me. There were so many things I thought I had to appreciate. Attention from men, mostly. Their “insights.” Even when I didn’t want it. I thought I should be grateful. I thought I should be quiet.

A male elder, a family member, told me once my voice was “like sandpaper. It grates on people.”

I hope your voice is like sandpaper. I hope you fucking grate on people. I hope you speak no matter what and I hope maybe I have shown you what that looks like, and that we can survive.

I hope you study what you love and trust that will be enough.

I hope you know money is necessary but also so is art.

I hope you have four babies or no babies and don’t expect fulfillment either way.

I hope you always come home, or go as far away as you must, and I hope you know you aren’t responsible for us, for our happiness, for our joy.

We are whole. We are fine. We are yours.

Here, or there.

I hope you know I never want to let you go, not because of what I get from you, because you define or complete me, but because I love hanging out with you, my girl, your sense of humor, your horrible puns, the way you fold Arlo into your arms and announce, “You are the cutest and best and I would die for you.”

Do you know what that feels like? Do you know what it feels like to see you do that? To see you, my first child, the one who felt the most of my alcoholism, who remembers, who still has a box in her room of all the letters I sent while gone – do you know what it feels like to see you love? To see you scooping up a toddler and smothering him with kisses?

A family. The first and the last.

A family that’s become itself. A family that you “aren’t ready to leave.”

You said that the other day with tears in your eyes, thinking about your seventeenth birthday.

I hope you know you can stay. I hope you know you can go. I hope you know most rules are bullshit built by people too scared to live.

I hope you know that in that post office parking lot, when I felt the thread woven from my mama, to me, to you, wasn’t about eighteen years, or eighty. It wasn’t about doing this or doing that or doing it right or not right. It wasn’t about taking off or sticking around or fixing it all or letting it stay broken.

We’ve done all that. We’ll do it all, more. We’ll see this through to the end.

I hope you know what it’s like to see you, seventeen.

Seventeen.

*****

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20 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | November 21, 2018

It’s strange what the heart can hold. Or, I’m just happy my brother is here.

by renegademama

Lord, I feel like we haven’t talked in a year. I feel like I’ve lived about two lifetimes the past two days.

On Thursday, I got two messages from my mother in rapid succession, which I missed while exercising. Since it was the day before the anniversary of my grandmother’s murder, I was on edge and tense and reflective, the way we are when these days come back around.

The texts just said “Please, call me.”

I called, and my mother said, “Have you heard about the fire? Ross (my brother) called from his truck. He evacuated the hospital and was trapped on a road, surrounded by flames.”

And then the line cut out and my mother got no more information.

In a word, I fucking flipped. I was thrown directly back into the moment I learned my grandmother was murdered: full body shaking, racing brain, barely able to speak. Shock, I guess. Luckily I had friends there, since I was just leaving her house.

My brother’s wife and children made it out, but I had a vision of my brother suffocating, jumping out of his truck, burning up. That was at 11am. From then until 5pm, we had no idea if he made it out or not, and all I could do was watch Twitter updates of the Camp Fire in Paradise, now the most destructive fire in California’s history, and pray to God my brother wasn’t in that. You tell yourself he’s super smart and level-headed. You tell yourself he won’t take risks.

It dawns on you that raging fire kills the logical alongside the illogical. You go back to Twitter.

And yet, he was in that. Right in the center of it. I could see where he was on the map, and I could see where the flames were via Twitter updates.

It was 110 degrees inside the cab of my his truck. He watched the bumper melt off the car in front of him. People were driving on hubcaps because their tires had melted, running out of cars that had caught fire. There were cars and propane tanks exploding, people carrying kids and pets needing rides, running to buildings for shelter only to have it catch fire, too. It was black as night in the middle of the day. Apocalyptic. Devastating.

Turns out my brother made it to a Kmart parking lot and sheltered there, and obviously, made it, or this post would look very different. The hospital where he’s a doctor found him through emergency services.

They lost everything, as did most people in that mountain town. They’re here now, and I can’t tell you what it felt like to hug my sister-in-law and niece and nephews. And to hold my brother’s face in my hands.

They showed up yesterday, on the anniversary of my grandmother’s murder. It was strange to gather again on the same day, two years later, in despair, again, and yet, not quite, because we all made it through this one.

I’ll share what I wrote on Facebook, and a few photos, but the truth is I don’t have insight right now and I’m so, so fucking sorry for people who have lost everything, for the terror, for the devastating we dodged but others will receive. I can’t even think about my brother and sister-in-law soon walking over the ashes of their home with their three children for the past seven years.

So much love to all of you. Please keep the people of Paradise in your thoughts, and the Californians affected by the Southern California fires. If you’d like to help people in the NorCal fires, here’s some info. I may set up a fundraising account for victims, but I need to organize it and figure out who will get the money, etc.

Local friends please look up on Facebook places where you can drop off supplies to be taken to Chico.

This is what I wrote yesterday when my brother and his family was on his way to us.

Two years ago today, my grandmother, Joan, lost her life at the hands of my cousin. It’s strange what the heart can hold, what it learns to exist alongside. We’ve moved through worlds since then: terror, rage, bone-deep sorrow. I still move through them.

Yesterday, when we didn’t know if my brother made it out of the fire, I kept thinking there is just no way we could lose him the day before this. That’s not a thing.

But then again we never thought we could live through what happened two years ago, but it’s strange what the heart can hold, how you learn to live with a side of you always grieving, a little afraid, a little confused. It washes life in more vivid light. I’ll give you that. Nothing is clear. Nothing is as it seems. Nothing is secure, but truly fuck the whole concept of “every day is a gift.” I mean, it’s true, but fuck it on principle.

Today we are gathering as a family just like we did two years ago. To be alive and be friends. To hold what the heart holds.

my brother took this picture from his truck

As my sister-in-law said, “Isn’t it strange how you can lose everything but feel only joy because your people are here?”

Parents of Potential Non-Voters: THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

by renegademama

Attention every parent with a kid 18 and older: You have a job and if you fuck it up we will further descend into the desolate wasteland we are currently inhabiting. If you love decency, life, freedom, or puppies, you must harangue, bribe, harass and manipulate your offspring into voting on Tuesday.

This is your one job. Other than voting yourself. This is your second job.

I’m assuming your kid is already registered. Obviously.

This isn’t the time for grand principles of “letting kids be themselves” or “learn their own lessons” or “enjoy their youth.” FUCK ALL THAT. This is the time for gathering up the barely grown and bullying them into the voting booth.

It may not be easy. I didn’t vote until I was in my mid-20s. I know, I should die. But Clinton was President and I didn’t think blowjobs were such a big deal (I realize it’s more complex than that but please lower your standards for 19-year-old me), and the greatest human rights violation I witnessed was bars doing last call at 1:15am instead of 1:55am.

I was pretty much useless, and being useless is adorable (it’s not), but I believe that very head-in-sand-privileged-apathy is largely what got us into this festering cavern of bullshit.

Don’t worry, though. I’ve got you. We can make these fuckers vote. Here’s a list of 13 surefire methods.

  1. If they’re still in school, take them out on Tuesday. Fuck school. People in power right now want to arm schoolteachers and Head School Woman thinks black bears are a threat to schoolchildren but not the AR-15s shooting them up so seriously WTF matters here? Fuck tests. Fuck worksheets. Vote.
  2. Offer to buy them a burrito. Burritos are powerful things. If that doesn’t work, tell them you’ll buy their groceries for a month. And if you can’t afford that shit, buy them 80 Top Ramen, which is like food for a month, I think, when you’re 20.
  3. Remind them that this guy is making choices for how the nation is run. Just literally show them this picture and let them decide.
  4. Also recap Ted Cruz.  
  5. Remind them that there’s a large conglomerate of humans – aka old white dudes with sour mouths and vacant eyes – who wants to whittle away Roe v Wade until we won’t have safe access to abortion. What’s that? You don’t like hearing about your kid having sex? CLUTCH YOUR FUCKIN PEARLS AND DEAL WITH IT.
  6. Straight pay them. Just write a fuckin check in exchange for that voting receipt. Who cares about your money? Money will be useless when we all fall into the ocean because of climate change.
  7. Lie, and hope you don’t get caught: Tell them the government wants to shut down Snapchat & Instagram after cancelling Beyonce, Drake, and Kendrik Lamar. Do kids even listen to that? Where am I. Whatever. Tell them the GOP wants to destroy everything they love.
  8. Show them your student loan bill. Blow that shit up, make it into a duvet cover, and stick in on their bed.
  9. Read to them how healthcare works in sane nations and how the average American lifespan is decreasing annually and the years we do live are less happy than in other countries. ASK YOUR CHILD IF SHE LIKES HAPPINESS AND BEING ALIVE GODDAMNIT MOTHERFUCKERS FUCKING VOTE.
  10. Threaten to boycott them over the holidays. That’s right. No Aunt June pumpkin pie. No grandpa’s turkey. NOT ONE HOLIDAY GIFT UNTIL YOU VOTE, ASSHOLE. If your kid hates family holidays, maybe avoid this one. Also maybe don’t call your kid “asshole.”
  11. The weed angle, people, the weed angle (legalization, not so much D.A.R.E.).
  12. Buy them a car or small boat or just promise to do so after you see the midterm and 2020 voting receipt.
  13. Remind them that the torch-bearing neo-Nazis are definitely voting, and those pieces of dog shit are implicitly, (increasingly explicitly), supported by our pussy-grabbing, constantly lying president, and the GOP in power is a sad gaggle of spineless sycophants, and the voter suppression and gerrymandering is so extreme and favoring the GOP so significantly that the only fucking chance we have to survive catastrophic dumpster fire fizzled-out democracy is to turn out in MOTHERFUCKING DROVES TO VOTE, so yes, kid, I get your apathy, and I remember being young enough to see apathy as an option, but that ship has sailed, and the entire goddamn nation is relying on you to save it so fuck your plans on November 6 and by the way here’s a burrito.

 

17 Comments | Posted in FUCK TRUMP | November 1, 2018

Shit that didn’t suck this week. Well, last week.

by renegademama

Remember that time I said I was going to write a post every Sunday called “Exploding Good Shit” but wrote the first one on a Friday and then failed completely to write the next week’s? I am good at blogging and I am good at life. So I only saw fit that this week, the third week but second post, I change the name completely and post on Monday instead of Sunday.

But I’m showing up, and that’s what matters, right? I AM HERE. And frankly, this was about the last thing I wanted to write today. It feels silly as hell. I haven’t said much about the Pittsburgh murders, the Kentucky murders, the pipe bomb #MAGA terrorist. I’ve written hundreds of words, but I just leave them in my “drafts” folder. My words feel incomplete and I have too many thoughts swirling in my head. Lately I like to think before I write. Weird, I know.

It feels silly to force myself to find “ten things that don’t suck” when my brain is more like ALL THINGS SUCK AND THIS IS THE END, but we have to remember that even in the darkest times, really beautiful things are happening all around all this. I don’t think we remember to make ourselves feel better, but rather to remind ourselves why we don’t give up.

Personally, I had a pretty awesome week. I went to Alabama and stayed with the loveliest friend, and I ate pickled okra and fried green tomatoes, hushpuppies, and turnip greens. I soaked up that southern drawl and feel I may actually die if I don’t hear people say “fixin’ to” at least once a day. I mean, some dude also asked me what it’s like to have “MS-13 roaming the streets of our sanctuary cities,” but I fucking digress, and that’s a separate blog post.

I spoke on addiction in front of about 75 people and spoke to just about as many at the collegiate recovery group at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. After flying in a friend’s private plane, I also learned that I was born into the wrong life entirely. Turns out that in my actual life, I too fly in private planes. 

Okay okay let’s do this nonsense. Good shit from this (LAST) week.

  1. NITCH on Instagram. Do you follow them? If not, why are you even on Instagram? Seriously, the only account I go back and read to make sure I don’t miss a single post, and the only account I check every day for its stories.
  2. I taught a writing class to special needs men and women during a day program and at one point, one of the students used the phrase “eternally disposed of” instead of “put to sleep.” I realize I’m giving you no context here and that’s a little weird, but the point is that “eternally disposed of” shall henceforth be the way I refer to death.
  3. Arlo was tasked with asking people after a family dinner party if they’d like some tea. So he went around asking each guest “Would you like some tea?” And when they answered yes, he said, “It’s in the kitchen. You can get it yourself.”
  4. This comic, Lord Birthday. Oh my fucking God. I weep it’s so good.
  5. American Muslims raised over $120,000 for families of the Pittsburgh shootings.
  6. Ummmm. Bill Murray still exists.
  7. We discovered Golden Milk and it’s maybe the best thing to ever happen to us. Google it if you’re unfamiliar. 
  8. Auggie, best dog ever, dog turned two. (I told you, I’m struggling this week.)
  9. I did not know “apple brownies” were a thing until George and I made them yesterday (using this recipe), and they were fucking delicious.
  10. A friend of mine is trading writing workshops for personal training, and it feels good to do something, finally, about my back pain and lack of core strength. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been afraid and sometimes, it takes somebody willing to say, “YOU CAN FUCKING GET WELL,” and you believe them.

 

 

6 Comments | Posted in exploding good shit | October 29, 2018