My life is a wall of indecipherable sound.

by renegademama

Hi, my name is Janelle, and I barely like sound. For many years, I thought I was simply an asshole. While this is undeniably true, my condition apparently goes beyond an irrationally low tolerance for people trying to chew food.

You see, I have “misophonia.”

Apparently this is a real brain thing. Whew.

I’m the person who visualizes stabbing strangers for eating Corn Nuts across from me at the library, or my husband when he has the audacity to eat a chip. I feel actual rage. It starts in my toes and runs all the way to my forehead, where it gathers into helpful ideas like, “Maybe I can kill this person and run out real quick and get away with it.”

I’m being 15% hyperbolic.

And yet, I have seventy-five children.

Fine, I have four.

Do they have a term for the inability to handle the wall of indecipherable sound known as “children?”

 

All they do is talk. Well, no. One of them, Rocket, the twelve-year-old, evidently adopted the quieter demeanor of his father.

While Rocket doesn’t talk incessantly, he does make some seriously odd squealing noises pretty regularly, sounds I imagine a goat would make were he being held over flames, but he doesn’t chatter on endlessly requiring the undivided attention of his mother. Interestingly, he is the one kid I TRY to make talk, and he barely will, and even when he tries, his words are drowned out by the raging torrent of his siblings’.

That’s because my other three children basically never cease speaking, no matter what, or when, or what the topic, and I just need to say this out loud: I CANNOT LISTEN TO ALL THIS TALKING.

There seems to be an expectation of me, as a mother, to exist in a state of rapt attention, endlessly interested in the yammering of small humans, in the barrage of stories regarding this and that, in the 800 billion questions regarding Peppa Pig and the nature of existence, in the dreams.

Oh God. The dreams.

NOBODY GIVES A FUCK ABOUT YOUR DREAMS.

Wait. I didn’t mean that. I meant, “Aim high and dream big, kiddo!”

No but for real. Stop telling me what you dreamed last night.

Sometimes my three-year-old wakes up in the middle of the night, talking. He’s in our bed, and thus difficult to avoid. The last time he did it, he told me something about a motorcycle and tiger, and demanded to know why I was wearing a shirt.

Yes, good call. Let’s talk about that. We don’t talk enough. Let’s add 2am bedtime chats to our talking schedule.

 

Do people really expect me to give a fuck about every single word that exits the mouths of my children? I strongly believe those people have never actually been around children.

I’m being a dick in this blog post, but I usually attempt civility and feigned interest in the sound wave crashing into my face.

For example, when the dream recounting begins, I sit there staring at them with a sort of blank look on my face and my mouth possibly open, mumbling, “Oh.” And “Weird!” and “Dreams are like that.”

Later, I remind myself that kids can pick up on parental vibes and they surely know I was not exactly “riveted,” then I wonder if I’ve done irreparable damage to their self-esteem and psyches. On the other hand, shouldn’t kids learn that nobody wants to hear their self-obsessed chattering (lest they grow into mansplainers)?

I am grateful my teenager still talks to me, but the problem with the teenager (and three-year-old and seven-year-old) is that they are almost always asking for something.

So it isn’t just talking. Every word is adding a motherfucking task to the list of my life, and I already hate the list. I may have lost the list.

THE LIST IS NOT WORKING AT ALL ALREADY.

Reminding me of this or that commitment or wanting permission for something or asking for money or a ride or an outfit or some bullshit for school and I’m like For the love of god leave me alone for ten minutes so I can contemplate how I’m ruining you by trying to avoid you but also I need to avoid you.

 

Since we’re on the subject, I also don’t think kid conversations need to enter every adult conversation and I will, in fact, reject the blithering talk of my kids to enjoy an actual adult conversation and if I see my kids pummeling an adult with a wild stream of speech acts, I will make them stop.

Having hung out with many, many parents over the years, I have learned that this is not the way every one parents, and in fact, many parents make the child the center of all existence always and forever, no matter how fucking boring the kid is.

Did I just say kids are kinda boring?

Yes. Yes I did.

It’s not about “seen and not heard.” Nah, it’s about recognizing when you’re dominating the conversation, assuming you’re the only one that matters, taking over everything because it’s fun for you. I know adults like that. They only get invited to dinner once.

 

Anyway, when it’s just the five of us in the car, and my teenager is telling me about the 463 things she’s got going on in the next week and my 7-year-old is telling me about what this one kid said in line today and also when can she get horse riding lessons and the three-year-old is recounting a day when he went into the clouds on a submarine and saved his grandfather from a monster who lived in a tree, and I’m sitting there trying to drive or think or plan dinner or my inner spiritual life, what I really want to say is: EVERYBODY SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Instead, if it’s really bad, I’ll yell something like, “Everybody be quiet for 30 seconds so I can think.”

Or I turn the music way up.

Or I try to choose which kid is actually saying something that matters, and I hone in on that one and ask the others to cease and desist.

The toddler just keeps on going. Forever. NBD. Who needs an audience?

What sort of bullshit genetic defect did I inherit that I have to hear every single goddamn fucking word that exits my children’s mouths?

There should be some sort of default silencing shut-down system in every brain to allow for the muting of unending child words.

And the worst part is that sometimes they say the sweetest and deepest shit imaginable, and I’m overwhelmed by adoration for their weird little kid brains.

But truly, no more dream talk. And I’ll wear a shirt if I want to, toddler. Also, tell your future therapist it’s not my fault. I have misophonia.

I HAVE KID MISOPHONIA.

Go team.

 

***

Let’s write together in 2018.

I have three workshops running in January/February:

Write Anyway: 3 spots left (one partial scholarship available)

Renegade Writers’ Group: 1 spot just opened

Brand new workshop on effective argumentation/political writing: 2 spots left

Join us, and please email me with any questions.

 

25 Comments | Posted in bitching about the kids I chose to have. | December 13, 2017

I am tired of your small, sad God.

by renegademama

Let me get this straight. God created everything. He (we’ll assume God has a gender and it’s male, because I’m guessing you’ll like that better) made the sun and moon and clouds and oceans. He made every animal, every fish, bacteria, plant, and bug.

He made volcanoes that erupt molten rock and oceans pulled by the moon and gravity and seasons and delicate ecosystems that live and die and recreate and live again. He created the earth in all its ornate mind-boggling complexity to allow for the inhabitation of human beings. He made our cells hold together just so and our brains so complex we can’t even begin to understand them entirely and we are the ones who have them.

He created bodies that birth and heal and function daily with a beating heart and flowing blood and he did all this in addition to, um, creating the motherfucking universe.

An ever-expanding universe. Galaxies of billions of stars. Ever-expanding galaxies rushing into an infinite void.

And this dude, this God, this white dude you evidently worship, this omniscient being who created everything from our ever-expanding universe to the micro-bacteria that keep us alive, also gives a shit if you serve a bakery cake to a gay dude.  

That’s right. NO PASTRIES FOR THE GAYS.

He’s also super involved in bathroom issues and making sure transgender folks don’t have access to Civil Rights. This is extremely important to the creator of the universe.

He also wants to make sure brown people don’t make it into America with their wily, brown-people ways. Especially if they don’t speak American. You gotta look American and speak American to be in America. That’s God’s will.

God loves America. That is why he created national borders. Wait. Did God create national borders? Are you arguing God created national fucking borders?

ARE YOU REALLY FUCKING ARGUING THAT GOD FUCKING ALMIGHTY CREATED RANDOM ARBITRARY LINES WE CAN ALL FIGHT OVER AND KILL PEOPLE FOR SO WE CAN EARN MORE GREEN PAPER WITH NO ACTUAL VALUE WHICH WE WILL ALL LOSE ANYWAY WHEN WE DIE?

It’s cool. I’m fine.

How am I doing so far, oh far-right fanatical “Christian?” Am I holding strong so far?

God is okay with endorsing child predators as long as it will beat Democrats.

God really, really hates Democrats.

God hates Democrats almost as much as he hates gay people.

So what if a grown man preys on children? They’re just girls. God doesn’t like girls as much as boys. That’s why the violation and objectification of their bodies is of minimal importance in light of political gain, particularly in the service of the obscenely wealthy.

God gets really angry when the richest 1% of America aren’t served more and more money bags. That’s why the Bible says: “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with money bags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail…”

Wait. It doesn’t say God wants billionaires to rake in more wealth on the backs of the needy.

Whatever. Let’s move on. Maybe your God doesn’t come from the Bible? Huh. Weird.

Anyway, God obviously hates poor people. If he loved them, he would have made them rich.

Like a blessing.

Let’s not forget how God is not worried about human influence on the delicate balance he created and in fact believes climate change is fake news.

FAKE NEWS!

He does, however, occasionally punish Californians with earthquakes and wildfires for being queer antifa pieces of shit.

God also hates Starbucks cups that aren’t sufficiently Jesus-y.

After creating gravity, The Almighty articulated paper-cup printing standards.

 

I’ve noticed your God doesn’t care about a lot of things I would think he’d care about, but I guess He’s a complicated guy. Some may say “hypocritical” and “nonsensical” but one thing your God hates, I’ve observed, is critical thinking.

Critical thinking must be of the devil.

Let’s get back to sexual assault of young girls. Apparently, because Mary was underage when she was impregnated by God, raping teenagers is A-okay.

Sure. That seems real.

He also doesn’t care about men who brag about the physical assault of women because it’s just “locker room talk.”

Also, that Moore guy is definitely innocent because he’s Republican and women are liars and he’s not a Democrat.

Like guns, sexual assault and racism are God-given American rights.

ALL HAIL TRUMP JESUS, sent from the Almighty.

Praise.

 

You know what?

Fuck your small, sad God. Fuck him all the way to hell. You’ve deployed the concept of religion to oppress, beat, rape, kill, and harass. I’m tired of your pathetic dreamland spirituality. Your ever-shifting imaginary ego God. Your evil, slight, simple-minded, nonsensical Creator.

Nazis in the streets? The ones chanting Third Reich slogans? They call themselves worshippers of your God, plus Hitler. (Hitler? Remember him? The one who burned babies in ovens?)

The money-and-power-worshipping men in D.C. creating laws to strip the most vulnerable among us of their health and money? They call themselves worshippers of your God.

The Westboro Baptist Church? The ones who rejoice in the deaths of gay people, harass their family members while they mourn? They call themselves worshippers of your God.

You know what Jesus did?

He washed the feet of his disciples. He ate with sinners and whores.

Your story is a lie.

You are some grade-A fake news.

And if there is a hell, you’re first in line. No worries though, I’ll pray for your damned soul. That’s a lie. I probably won’t. (I ain’t that holy.)

It’s time we bury your small, sad God.

Maybe next to Nietzsche, though surely his atheist ass did less harm.

 

 

 

I wrote a book! And I finally get to share it with you.

by renegademama

At around 7:30pm on November 3, 2015, I received an email with the subject line “HI” from a man named Jermaine Johnson in Los Angeles, letting me know he was a manager with 3 Arts Entertainment, a media/production company that happens to produce my favorite television shows in the world (The Office, Mindy Project, Brooklyn 99, and more…). He had read a blog post of mine and was curious where I was headed with my writing career.

I immediately figured it was a scam. Too good to be true and stuff.

But then I used the Google and read the email again and again and again, and realized it was indeed as real as real can be, and I went outside on the porch and read the email to Mac, and then he cried and I cried because we cry a lot, and he said, “I think our lives are about to change.”

I gave myself 24 hours to respond to Jermaine. I was terrified I would say the wrong thing and blow the whole thing up. Like he’d hear from me in email form and be like, “You know what? I was wrong. You’re an asshole. Please go away.”

But he signed me, and put me in touch with a top literary agent in New York City named Richard Abate, and together, we turned a terrible first draft I had written in 30 days in 2014 into a book proposal.

And then, in April 2016, that proposal sold, to Hachette Book Group, a top five publisher.

And then we cried again for a really long time and jumped and yelled a lot and ate 5-12 enchiladas in celebration.

From that day until now, I have been working on that book, and today, I get to share it with you.

It’s called “I’m Just Happy to Be Here,” and it’s a memoir on alcoholism and motherhood, which will be published May 1, 2018, but is available now for preorder.

If you feel so inclined, if you’ve ever wanted to drop a nod my way, these advanced purchases will go a long fucking way for the success of this book.

But more than alcoholism and recovery, this is a book about being a motherfucking outsider in this parenting world. It’s about not necessarily becoming a better version of yourself the second you find out you’re becoming a parent, and somehow finding peace in spite of that fact — or maybe because of it.

More than any other question, the one I receive from readers most is: How do you have the courage to say the things you say about motherhood?

Well, this book answers that question. It tells how I got to the place where most of my fucks were gone, my disguises stripped away, and I took the random, possibly ridiculous step of writing to you, to see if any of you felt like I did, to see myself in some other mothers, to ask other mothers to see themselves in me.

What came my way after that felt like a motherfucking miracle. And you know how I feel about words like “miracle.”

But seriously, this entire thing is surreal, and still feels vaguely unreal, though I hold the book in my very hands.

How? Whose life is this? Mine?

Because I sat down one January day in 2011 and wrote a post on free WordPress blog, and kept writing, clinging to each new comment from you, each message from you telling me to keep going, and that you related to the post, and then, six years later, I’m holding a book in my hand?

Nah.

That shit ain’t real. And yet. Here we are.

I don’t know how to explain this feeling. I don’t know how to explain what it feels like to follow some weird ache in your gut, some relentless nudge to do something, even though it makes no sense, even though it will surely end in nothing – and realize it has, inch by inch, transformed your life into something you never dreamed possible.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my silly, broke-ass heart. I want to thank you for making this possible, for sticking around, for reading my rants and raves and mistakes and decency.

I truly cannot wait for you to read this, and I hope you see yourself on every page.

47 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized, what the fuck is a writer | November 29, 2017

On the day your daughter turns sixteen

by renegademama

On the day your daughter turns sixteen, I suggest you not look at photos of her when she was four years old, sitting on the sand in Mendocino, with her belly covered in sand and poking out all big and toddler.

I suggest you not scroll through photos of her wearing dish towels as a rockstar dress, attached with chip clips, using a wooden spoon for a microphone.

I suggest you not observe the Tinkerbell tulle outfit of her 5th birthday, or the photo of her and her newborn brother that same year, with a caption that reads, “She’s telling everyone “I have a brother named Rocketship and I’m so much cuter than he is.’”

I suggest you utterly refuse to look at the hallway wall, where you see yourself at twenty-three wearing a blue bandana with your baby face pressed against hers, grinning on the front lawn as if there were so many years left.

And don’t look at the one of her holding her baby doll in the big puffy jacket on the first day of preschool, for you may remember the two years you were apart shortly after that, because somehow the dish towels and tulle and big toddler belly weren’t enough to treat your alcoholism.

And don’t look at the time when you were reunited, when she was seven years old and you were thirty and life rolled out in one miraculous trick of the universe.

Look at us, here again, on the lawn, together, with nothing to stop us now.

And don’t look at the first day of junior high when she was twelve, and you knew what was coming but you said, “It’s okay, I have six more years.”

Don’t do any of that, and don’t look at next year, when she’ll be driving and a junior in high school, and probably working, with one year left.

Don’t look at two years from now, or think how they fly, how they mock and tease, racing by your face pressed against hers.

Don’t wave. Don’t try to grasp them like a goddamn fool.

They’re already gone.

Don’t think about the last Christmas she’ll be here, or bringing her home for Thanksgiving, or phone calls instead of daily chats on your bed about grades and teachers and annoying acquaintances.

Look instead at the morning around you now – the way you woke up with your toddler in his Peppa Pig pajamas and said, “You know what day it is? It’s Ava’s 16th birthday! Let’s go sing to her!”

And you walk out holding hands with that toddler and stand on a stool to sing a soaring, horrific operatic version of Happy Birthday that makes all the kids laugh, and when you’re done, you look at that teenager and say, “How was that?”

And she says, “Nearly brought me to tears, mama.”

“Ya really felt that one in your bones, right? Right in the soul?” Say that, and give her a hug, her body that’s as tall as yours now.

Look as hard as you can at the waffles you made her for breakfast, and the gifts you’ll later wrap today, the special chicken she requested for dinner and the cake you’ll top with candles.

Listen with sixteen years of grace to the sound of her voice playing dolls and monsters with her younger siblings, a sound you wondered about when she was still in your belly, and it seemed you had forever.

What will it sound like, her voice?

It will sound like this, Mama.

Hold on to that. And listen.

The years aren’t gone. They’re in my hands, and hers.

Sixteen years.

Sixteen years.

Maybe that’s why we cried the day she took our picture, for no reason at all, it seemed – because there’s so much in the touch of our faces, and now, perhaps we see, just as much in the space between.

 

19 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | November 21, 2017

What six years of blogging has taught me about handling trolls

by renegademama

A writer recently asked me how I handle assholes on the internet.

And I’m really glad she asked, because after six (nearly seven!) years of blogging, I have finally perfected the craft of polite, professional maturity in the face of trolls who don’t read the post then call me “fat and ugly” just to be safe.

Or, do read the post and call me a “sad specimen of goat feces” who they hope “gets eaten by vultures.” Vultures don’t even eat feces, you fucking moron.

Sorry. Lost my maturity there for a second. This rarely happens.

Anyway, generally when I come across a comment that sends my blood rushing to the top of my head, where it swirls in incredulous shock and malaise, I click off of it and tell myself I shall ignore it like a mature professional adult.

I remind myself of all the other bloggers on the internet who get eaten alive by comments and don’t respond at all and I tell myself “You can be like them, too, Janelle!” You can do it! You’re a real grown-up now.

Then I click back over to the comment and reply, “I hope you die in a fire.”

After that, I may delete it but I don’t edit it because I don’t want the commenter to know how much their comment bothers me. If it’s been more than five minutes, I don’t delete it because then the commenter will know I wrote something then deleted it, which means I don’t stand by my word and am weak and afraid. Or maybe they’ll call me out on deleted comments, which means they got the better of me.

Then I remind myself that the commenter HAS ALREADY IN FACT GOTTEN THE FUCKING BETTER OF ME BECAUSE I AM SITTING HERE OBSESSING OVER HOW TO RESPOND TO A COMMENT THAT SAYS, “I’m glad California is burning because of all the gays and I hope they learns and than stop blocking Trump from MAGA!!!!!!”

If I leave the comment, I swear I won’t return because now I have re-doubled my maturity efforts and I’m sure they’ll work this time.

I take a screenshot and send it to 2-17 friends.

Then I go about my life until a few hours later, when I see a notification from Captain MAGA. I think No don’t look.

Then I look.

At that point, I either:

  1. Ignore it (this happens twice a year);
  2. Respond with a GIF which satisfies a little bit of my desire to have the last word while also allowing me to bow out of the conversation; or
  3. Actually attempt words, then regret it immediately.

Sometimes, when I’m really feeling on top of my game, I unfriend and block the person then tell myself “I really should be more mature about thing,” and remind myself that someday I’m going to be 90 years old (hopefully), and I will most likely look back at the whole days irate at some stranger in Idaho as something along the lines of “a waste of time.”

Not that I spend whole days irate.

I definitely do that.

But I’ve come super far, guys. When I first started blogging, I used to spend 13 hours carefully crafting the perfect rebuttal to trolls, and I’d keep riding that train for hours or days, way beyond the point at which it became clear this person and I were FOR SURE NOT GETTING ANYWHERE EVER.

No worries. I would not be deterred. I was a motherfucking keyboard warrior.

It would end when I blocked them because I’d be like “This is my blog and YOU LOSE!”

Then I’d go back to wishing I were a real adult.

I was so ridiculous about it, I even had older, more seasoned writers EMAIL ME OUT OF THE BLUE to let me know that instead of responding to 37 randoms on the internet who hate me, perhaps I should just move on to my next writing project.

You know, for funsies.

I literally had a “talking to” by writers I know. GO TEAM.

After that, I only spent one hour shit-slinging with trolls I’ll never meet.

And now, I’m down to like fifteen minutes, and sometimes even respond to asshole comments with a semblance of patience and tolerance.

That also happens twice a year.

You know what we call that, people? Motherfucking progress.

Baby steps to maturity.

Also known as, who fucking cares. 

Speaking of maturity, I just spent 45 minutes making an infographic.

Have a nice day.

Super Scientific Maturity Data Analysis

P.S. Fine. What I’ve actually learned after all these years is that the only thing that matters is that we keep going. With our words, our work, our art. And that, I fucking mean. 

***

Check out sponsor Meg Worden. She says cannabis is the new kale.

Perhaps that would help my maturity.

25 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | November 16, 2017