On Sharing…Or Not

Please accept my apology for not posting in over a week.

I’ve been a bit under the weather. That tends to happen when your children are as sharing as mine. I appreciate Jordan sharing with Cameron and then Cameron sharing with me.

The problem in being sick with your kids is that no matter how horrible you feel, you’ve got to get up, make soup, check temperatures, administer meds, fix hot tea, clean bodily fluids etc. etc. All of this after a night full of kicks and elbows and a knee to the boob from the little one who can’t sleep alone when he’s ‘under the weather’. What exactly does that phrase mean anyway? Let’s not even mention the drowning sensation you’re experiencing because you can’t breathe through your nose and his arm is covering your mouth.

You’ve had a headache since the day before and you’re exhausted to the point of reneging on your “no PS3 on school nights rule” just so they can leave you alone long enough to catch some sleep. After a stern threat of bodily injury should an argument arise, you fall into a z pack induced coma. However, just as sudden as you fell, you’re awakened by a loving French kiss…from the dog. Moment ruined. Where’s the Listerine?

By the end of the night all you want is to curl up in your bed with a hot cup of coffee and some ginger snaps and marvel at the side effects of Children’s Triaminic Nighttime formula. By the way, it works during the day too. So there you are, freshly lathered in Vicks tossing the tissues from the night before onto the floor, ready to take that first sip. Horrified, you realize that you mistakenly purchased Sugar-Free French Vanilla International Delight. Moment ruined. Where’s the tea?

Sigh.

It’s in times such as these that you discover you are loved. In the text messages from concerned friends. In the calls from coworkers (who don’t want you sharing in the office). In the young neighbor who pulls your trash to the curb. In the brother who drops off soup and juice (even if he is covering his mouth and nose with his shirt). In the father who cooks dinner and cleans your kitchen. In the mother who offers herbal remedies. In the visit from a special friend who doesn’t care that your hair is reminiscent of Don King and your breath smells like you’ve been kissing the dog.

Thank you.

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Expression Suppression

This post has the potential to go in a million different directions. I will try to stay focused.

Often I am told that you can read exactly what I’m thinking by looking at my face. I do not have a poker face. In meetings, during conversations, at lunch with a friend…whatever I think, I show. I’ve been asked to work on this debilitating condition. I practice. I look into the mirror and try very hard to think about the dumbest idea possible and not show any expression.

Like when the doctor asked a friend at an appointment to which I accompanied her, “When was your last menstrual cycle?” after she responded to the previous question “I don’t have a uterus.” Sometimes you can’t hide that you think the speaker is an imbecile or at least that their words are idiotic.

This is a work in progress.

Last night, I met someone who perfected the art of suppression of expression. Actually we didn’t officially meet, but when I turned to see her quietly standing to my right in full ghost garb, we connected. “You scared the crap out of me.” I yelled at her (I confess, I may not have actually said crap). Nothing. She offered no smile, no laugh, no “gotcha”. Nothing. With racing heart and bumpy arms I waited seconds (that felt like hours) for the light to change permitting us to cross the street and move away from the image of death. Others commented on her ghastly ensemble and to them she also gave no hint of life.

I had never been out on Halloween and actually, had I realized it was being celebrated on Saturday, I would have never accepted my girlfriends invitation to meet. I am extremely scary. I jump at everything. My nerves are nearly nonexistent. Horror movies and I have a wonderful understanding. I don’t bother them and they don’t bother me. There were several other frights that night like the rugby player in the leopard print Kim and Kourtney one shoulder asymmetrical number, the inebriated member of 27 dresses who like a weeble-wobble went dow and bounced right back up, grown people in Sesame Street caricature throwing back shots and the joker who resembled too much for my liking, Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight (voice and all). None impacted me like the figure in mesh who appeared to glide and glow.

I enjoyed my experience but my shock-sensitive self will probably not allow me to attend such an event in the future. I’m much more comfortable with the miniature Superman(s) and Cinderella(s) who want your candy, not your soul.

And having expression is not such a scary thing.

In Memory of Antwon Merritt

Homecoming!

It’s that time of year when you gather with former friends and old flames to celebrate the camaraderie established years and years ago. Tied by an alma mater and stories of days wild and co-eds young, homecoming reconnects and renews. It’s a time when adults, burdened with familial obligations and financial responsibilities put their lives on pause to return to their past.

I remember during my freshman Homecoming, being visited in the dormitory by two ladies rich with wisdom from experience in the decades post entering the “real world”. For several minutes in complete silence they searched the room with history in their eyes, remembering their residency in the cement box. One turned to the other and said “If these walls could talk” and they erupted with laughter and stories. I wanted them to leave. I had a class.

I’ve looked for them every homecoming since.

Homecoming is different when you are an employee of your alma mater. Every day is homecoming in a sense. Every day I look at the young women, fresh out of high school and full of every bright idea imaginable and remember how I was then. Every day I look at the young men, still receiving care packages from home, ready to take over the world and remember the boys I loved. I envy them in some ways. I wish I could go back to when I was fresh out of Athens Drive High School and tell me what I know now. I also wish I would listen. I know I wouldn’t.

It’s during the hype of festivities like fashion shows and pre-dawn parties that I am reminded of Homecoming, 1999 and Antwon Merritt. My abrupt exit from a step show in the gym sent me across the bridge just as the paramedics and firemen were loading him into the ambulance. No one knew the severity of his condition. Time stood still that night. In the cold of the November night no one moved nor shivered nor spoke.

Within the days to come, after the flags and signs welcoming alumni came down, mourning took over our family. Those who didn’t know him at all grieved just as much as those who sat next to him in Freshman Studies. All you could do was shake your head and close your eyes while sitting outside the Union staring over at the cement yawning.

This week I told every young man I could the story of Antwon Merritt in the hope that his memory would live in this the season of his death. I wished them all a safe Homecoming week. I was a little more compassionate and took time to talk with the guys I pass every day, just as I probably had a young freshman from Virginia eleven years ago.

Happy Homecoming Alumni.

Happy Homegoing Antwon.

Grandma Rosa

Tomorrow marks the three-year anniversary of my paternal grandmother’s passing. I want to honor her memory by telling you a little about my grandmother.

She was 92 years old when she took her last breath. She had a dog named Mutt (actually there was a series of dogs named Mutt). Her house always smelled of fried chicken, collard greens and rice. She served rice with every meal and it was not uncommon to find a skinned opossum boiling on her stove. She liked hot tea and orange slices (the chewy candies).  She collected dolls. She spoke with a Charleston accent rooted in a broken Geechee dialect. I barely understood her stories. She called me Sharon. She had a lot of household remedies for everyday ailments. She mothered fourteen children. She never drove a car. I can still see her hands, her nose, her wrinkles. I can still see her sitting on the porch with a switch in her hand for no particular reason. I can still hear her voice.

She was the only grandmother I ever knew. Actually, she was the only grandparent I really knew. I am proud to be a leaf in her lineage.

Recently, I have learned of several grandmothers and grandfathers passing away, leaving their legacy to those who were born of their name. I’ve mourned with their loved ones. I’ve felt their loss in my own loss and in the losses to come. It is a painful concept, the circle of life. Understanding and accepting the ebb and flow of birth and death can take a life time. But in your cycle, take the time to live and love with the blessing of those gone on and the hope of those to come.

We miss you Grandma Rosa and all your miscalling.

Medicine For the Uninsured

I have internet induced hypochondria. Cyberchondria.

I google symptoms of my own creation and come up with illnesses that cannot be verified through medical assessment. I have been self diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, and restless leg syndrome to name a few. I don’t stop with fingering the problem, I go on to self prescribing medicines and remedies. Then I go a step further and look up the side effects to said treatments so that I can research how to cure that. It’s an exhausting and expensive cycle.

It doesn’t make for happy interactions with my doctor. My twenty-minute appointment sometimes take forty minutes as the professional tries to explain to me why my diagnosis is wrong and why I do not need a certain prescription. Nobody appreciates being told how to do their job. My gynecologist has a great method of dealing with my eccentricities.

She ignores it.

I haven’t visited the doctor about my suspicions lately, which got me thinking, which got me researching. Actually, I haven’t googled any symptoms, not since May. Ironically, I met my health insurance deductible that same month. That means every medical visit and prescription is covered 100% by my carrier. I haven’t needed to validate a medical theory since. When I was paying out-of-pocket, I was perched in the waiting room two maybe three times a month, but now that I could go whenever…nothing.

Interesting.

It’s like when you don’t have a dime to your name, there are a million things you want to purchase but when you’ve got a pocket full of money, there’s nothing to buy. When you’re fifteen and a few months away from getting your driver’s license, there are a million places you want to drive to but when you’re behind the wheel, there’s nowhere to go (except of course to the grocery store for your mother or to pick up your younger brother from football practice). When it’s Friday night and your kids are home, there are a million reasons you could use a sitter but when you’ve got a sitter, there’s nothing to do.

I’m sure there is some scientific theory behind this idea. I’m not versed in it.

I don’t google theories.