Sort of about how weird weather brings out the worst in people

We are in the middle of a remarkable weather phenomenon here in Central Texas. Its not weird in the sense that it never happens, its just weird in that it hasn’t happened in such a long time.
Today it was extremely rainy and chilly outside. It is September, nearing the end of a surprisingly mild, yet very dry summer. If you know anything about Texas, you know “summer” tends to last into the early parts of October. Our “autumn” is more like a mild summer, and the “winters” run from the end of December until sometimes mid-February, March at the latest. The Spring here is delightfully colorful and mild and sneeze-inducing, making it the highlight of the weather year in Texas.
Anyway, it hasn’t rained much at all this summer, and not nearly enough in the last few years. We are in the middle of an ugly drought, but after today, I want to say, in a hopeful tone, that maybe the misery we suffered through just today alone will make some kind of impact.
It rained. And it rained and it rained, and then it rained some more. People made plans for today that the rain couldn’t stop, and people made plans for today that I am sure they were upset about having to cancel because of the intense rain. People had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. Peoples’ moods were shot from the lack of sunshine. People weren’t afraid to be dicks to those around them, mostly because they wanted to stay home or be doing something other than going to the grocery store on a rainy Saturday afternoon. The rain inconvenienced everyone.
So Deven’s 7th birthday celebration is this weekend. His grandmother (my mother-in-law) is in town, as she typically is for these events. This morning we discussed our plans for this weekend since we’re not technically celebrating until tomorrow. We had made plans to go out to lunch with the kids, and then to take them to the mall for some Build A Bear action. First we needed to cover some essentials at the grocery store.
I grocery shop once a week, usually during the day while Deven is at school and the number of other shoppers is at a minimum. I don’t go near the grocery store during the weekend, unless there is something I absolutely need. The reason being because everyone who works during the week puts off grocery shopping until the weekend. Everyone in the town I live in, and then all of the people in Austin who hate shopping in Austin because they don’t want to haul around their own reusable grocery bags.
Yeah. Because of the disposable plastic bag ban in Austin, people think they are being slick and smart when they go to the smaller surrounding towns to do their grocery shopping, when really, they are just being assholes to the people in the small towns. I don’t even care about what is going into the landfills, I care about how over-crowded my neighborhood grocery store has become.
So it is pouring rain and assholes at the grocery store. Deven is aware of the plans for the weekend, and is aware that at some point today, he is going to get to open the presents from his “Neenah” (the grandmother name given to Vance’s mom.) He is being all sorts of demanding and persistent, and is refusing to listen to anything anyone has to say unless it is something along the lines of, “yes, Deven, you can do that thing that you want to do, whatever it is, no one cares.” That may happen when Neenah is the only one around, but when Mom is around, be ready to hear “NO” a lot, and be ready for the fight you are about to lose. Right off the bat, Deven wants a driving cart that is wet from sitting out in the rain, and then he wants to throw a fit about not being allowed to ride in the regular cart inside the store. Vance’s mom just wants everyone to be happy, and I just want to get my stuff and simultaneously get my stubborn kid to shut the hell up. The difference is that my method comes with lessons and doesn’t have much room for compromise.
We get about 20 feet in the produce section of the store, and Deven tries to climb into the cart over by the bagged oranges. The cart is pulled over and I have got him by the hand telling him he needs to lay off or he and I will be waiting in the car and then going home. Mind you, there is about 4-6 feet of walking space open to the public between our cart and the apple display to the right of us. That does not stop some grumpy asshole with his own teenager trailing behind him from having the (what I can only assume are shriveled up and poorly functioning – think ground cherries that have been on the ground for too long) testicles to say something to the affect of, “You think you guys can do this some other time.” Because, you know, he still had 4 feet of space to walk through, which he by the way did as I shot him the ugliest look I could muster. And then I flipped him off. Seriously asshole? Seriously?
My Mother-In-Law and I were stunned beyond words. I wanted to cuss the fucker out in the middle of the store, possibly insult his penis size and his mothers’ looks, but it was over before I could even find the fucker again.
I have Social Anxiety problems. The kind where every single interpersonal interaction stays with me forever and affects whether or not I want to leave my house for fear of having to talk to someone again. The kind where I have a bad interaction and go home and stew over it for days afterward. I cry. I take it to mean there is probably something wrong with me. I have a good interaction and it makes me afraid that the next experience will have to be even better or else I will have failed. I replay it in my mind. I refuse to accept that I can successfully talk to strangers.
You know how people get nervous in large crowds? Some people just get overwhelmed by all the people and the people energy and the talking, I get nervous because I see aaaaallll of the potential for small-talk. I get itchy.
You would think that it stopped there, but while we were attempting to peruse the baking aisle, yet another despicable piece of shit had something to say about all of the people in the aisle holding his attempted escape while they tried to, you know, shop. I was there to get cake mix for my kids birthday cupcakes. But I’m sorry that we and these 20 other people are also having to deal with the hoards of other shoppers while trying to make selections of our own. I am sorry you are having such a hard time dealing with life today. I am. Please try to be civil and keep your shitty attitude to yourself. You might end up pissing off the wrong person and getting punched in the face. That person may be an anxious, upset pregnant woman with a grudge.
We ended up getting everything we needed from the store with blood-free hands, and then cancelling the rest of our plans for the day. I have never felt so slighted by weather in my life. You could just feel the energy in that grocery store, which I would describe as fatigued and hostile. I am sure no one knew the weather was going to be as ugly as it was going to be. No one knew that it was going to make them feel like they just dragged their bodies out of bed after 4 hours of a sleep riddled by nightmares and overactive bladders. I HATE these kinds of days. I am sure scientists or psychologists or some other killer of faith and creativity would probably say that there is no link between weather and mass grumpiness, but I will continue to say that is fucking bullshit, and that will be my religion from that moment on.
And to think tomorrow we will be taking Deven to Chuck E Cheese. Because I love misery, and misery loves breaking out in hives from the small talk with strangers.

The Big, but totally unsurprising announcement

I have not been around these parts much in the last several months. My last entry was a somber tale about the loss of a distant loved one, intend to memorialize and to encourage people to take the opportunity to catch up with old friends at reunions. It was just a few months ago that I was writing here regularly about the chaos of our lives, but eventually I had to step away. Things really started to pick up, and I couldn’t keep with with everything and muster the energy to write about it at the end of the week.

So I thought I owe an explanation. Or at least a worthy update.

Its summer here, meaning that school is out and I am home taking care of two little boys who want nothing more than to eat all of the sugar in the house and go swimming every single day. I don’t really like swimming, especially with two little ones who can’t swim. I’m not sure I am a strong enough swimmer to rescue 2 little ones if the need arises. I am trying to restrict their sugar intake, but it is not always easy, especially when they won’t eat much else. The good news is that in one month I’ll be back on my original schedule of waking up entirely too early to get my  big boy to school, and having most of the day to try and manage the house with just one needy toddler, who still needs potty training and to learn to sleep in his own bed. That arrangement won’t last through the end of the year because…

We’re having another baby!


Yes, it’s another boy, and he is due November 27th, which is Thanksgiving here in the US. If his last ultrasound is any indication, he will come out a little butterball just like his older brother Archer and his daddy. Hopefully he won’t stay in there roasting and fattening up for too long after his due date, because Mama is planning a med-free delivery at a free-standing birth center. Please little Bean Bun, cooperate and make things easy on me!

After having gone through 2 losses, I feel very blessed to have this little one growing and thriving inside of me. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, as I was pretty sick starting from the end of week 4 until almost week 12, by far the longest time I have been sick during a pregnancy. Sure, I might have thought “wouldn’t it be great if it were a girl this time?” but it really doesn’t matter. I’m blessed to have been able to make three beautiful little babies. Besides, I have known since I found out about this little bean that it was more than likely a boy. I make boys. Vance, with his giant, glorious, red beard, makes boys. We make amazingly sweet, devastatingly handsome, charming boys. Somebody has to, right?

I am now 5 1/2 months into this pregnancy, and I am mostly just exhausted. That can be at least partially attributed to the other 2 little ones I chase after all day long. Right now we’re doing our best to ready the house for the new addition by repairing holes left in the walls by rambunctious little boys, and painting the walls in their bedroom and playroom. We aren’t decorating a nursery. We have learned from the last 2 babies that co-sleeping and breastfeeding work best for us, so having everything available right next to our bed is the way to go here. We aren’t even bothering with a crib, but with a pack n play, and some small pieces like a rock n play, a swing, and a travel system. We have obviously not needed to buy much in the way of clothes, as I am an expert in the ways of organizing and storing potential hand-me-downs. He is pretty much set for his first 6 months of life.

There is so much more to talk about besides just the excitement of waiting for our newest addition, like how Deven blew through kindergarten like it was nothing, and will officially be a first grader in a month! And then a couple of weeks after that, he’ll be turning 7 years old.   He finished a season of baseball earlier this year, and is now hoping to attempt basketball in the fall. As we await the arrival of a new boy, we watch another continue to grow. Its completely bittersweet. Honestly, I worry about how I’ll feel watching my youngest grow. I am not sure I’ll ever not want to have a baby either on the way or in my arms. Eventually I’ll have to stop, but for now, I’m in the moment, enjoying my fertility.




Beyond memories

Are there people in your life you remember so fondly, and then somehow you drifted away from them and the two of you became completely disconnected? You move forward, go about your life, and you get the occasional update about how they’re doing; they graduated college, got married, got a huge, fancy house in some Houston suburb you are completely unfamiliar with, then oh look, a new baby! Maybe you run into them at some large family function. You barely recognize them in their new form, but somehow you recognize the look in their face, something in their eyes. But its been too long. You live too far away. You exchange pleasantries, but its never the same.

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Aunt Patti, in particular, in her swimming pool. They lived in the house where my dad and his brother, my Uncle Frank, had lived as kids. They had the biggest, deepest, most amazing pool installed when Uncle Frank and Aunt Patti inherited that house. Sure, there were huge gatherings at Christmas and Thanksgiving inside the house, but you couldn’t swim in the fall and winter.

One of those people always there during the gatherings and in the pool during the Summer was Sarah. She and I weren’t cousins exactly, but we were to my Aunt Patti. She had a niece and some nephews through her husband, and she had Sarah and her brother through her sister. It was complicated for us, but simple as could be to Patti. She had us all together during the Summers because to her, that’s how it was supposed to be.

Sarah was younger than me, but I had no problem playing with her. She had a big imagination and the cutest little southern twang. We would spend hours together in the pool, pretending to be dolphins, and then we would gather around my Aunt Patti’s large and varied collection of toys she had gathered for her nieces and nephews.  We would play for hours, until it was time for either of us to go home. Sometimes that would last until the next day, as we frequently slept over at Aunt Patti’s house.

Eventually I stopped hanging out at Aunt Patti’s house. Things got really complicated between my parents, and I saw less of my dad’s side of the family. I stopped coming around for Christmas, I stopped coming over to swim in their pool. I was a teenager, and I barely noticed. If I could, I would have spent every waking hour with my friends.

I became completely disconnected from that life entirely. My mom passed away, I was bouncing from place to place just trying to figure out that whole survival thing. I eventually found my way almost 4 hours away to Austin, and to the life I live now. I would make the trip to my dad’s house 4 hours away for holidays, and while I was there, I would drop in to my Aunt and Uncle’s big holiday gatherings. There were so many people there, it was so hard for someone like me to feel completely comfortable. I would recognize some of the faces, but for the most part I hung out the people I for certain knew, like my brothers and my grandpa.

One of those years, Sarah and her brother were there too. She had grown very tall, but still had the same face, the same glowing skin, and the same sweet disposition. She and I were both shy to a fault. We never got around to even exchanging pleasantries. We could have reconnected and become great friends.

Several years later, my dad has moved to another small town closer to Austin, so we stopping going to my Aunt’s holiday gatherings. Those relationships had been reduced occasional Facebook conversations.

A couple of months ago, my brother shared a link on Facebook advertising a fundraiser for my sweet not-cousin Sarah Bailey. She had been in an accident and broke her neck. She was paralyzed from the neck down. Her family and friends were trying to raise money to move her from hospice to home-care so she could be with her family.

That’s how I found out what happened to her.

She had given blood during a blood drive at a Pizza Hut. She was walking to her car when she became dizzy and fell. Her neck hit a curb, paralyzing her. She was 25 years old, and about to graduate from college with a degree in entomology.

Her family refused to believe that she would be  unable to move or speak for the rest of her life. They held out hope that she would heal enough to be able to have some of her life back, so that they could have some of their daughter back. For a little while there, things were hopeful. She could be put into a reclining position and communicate via a computer that could detect eye motion. They could at least talk to each other. They’d miss that sweet voice and adorable twang, but she could tell them she loved them all the same.

This morning my dad messaged me, telling me that Sarah had passed away and that her funeral is tomorrow.

25 years old. About to graduate from college.

There are some things that happen that are just so fucked up, they are beyond any understanding. Sarah didn’t break her neck in a high-speed car crash, she didn’t go on a 36 hour meth-bender, she gave blood so that she could help some nameless, faceless person in need. There is no moral or lesson at the end of this story. If there is a God, and if “everything happens for a reason,” I’d like to his/her know the logic. Someone please explain this to me.

The only lesson I take from this is we tend to look upon those graduation photos, new baby pictures, and updates with amusement. We don’t bother trying to connect beyond that.  I know a lot of people who would have given anything to see the pictures from Sarah’s graduation, and down the line, pictures of her first house, her wedding, her new babies. Who would have given anything to hug her and congratulate her.

We all grow, and we usually become different people, but we should try to be more than just memories to each other.