Bloody mud piles, play
dig your mean gut, soul, under
Won’t cry over you.
Bloody mud piles, play
dig your mean gut, soul, under
Won’t cry over you.
Since the New Year I have literally been focusing on the good in my life, trying to single out the positive and not making a big fuss of what is negative. Trying to see Life in a new light. Many of us fight with this each and every day, it is our attitude that makes us the person we are. I was doing well, checking in with myself hour to hour, truly. Bad news was coming at me but I reasoned, bad news comes to everybody, it comes, you get used to it, you adjust.
That said, I came across a cooking show that I had never seen before and started watching it with my husband for mere entertainment. What a mistake! The name of this show is “Cutthroat Kitchen” with (ugh) Alton Brown. Sorry, that’s only my opinion. This guy shows up EVERYWHERE and I have seen too much of him. He’s sarcastic and biting and I just don’t want that in my life. His “brand” visibility is “Over-branded?” I’m sure there must be some real public relations word for it( overexposed maybe?) Not sure if that is even a word, but you get my drift. When I see his face on the television set, I don’t smile and say “Oh look it’s that cute Alton Brown!” I sigh and say, “Oh God, not him again and prepare for his sarcastic remarks.” Then I change the channel.
The latest show he is involved with which now I have watched many episodes to give it MORE than a fair chance is some show named Cutthroat Kitchen. You would think that with this title I would have been forewarned that it was not for me but no, I gave it a chance. Not once, many times. I am a glutton for punishment. It’s just my opinion but I hated this show.You would have thought the word “Cutthroat” in the title might have clued me in but I didn’t want to be swayed, also I’m a complete, gullible idiot.
It’s mean-spirited, nasty, underhanded and nothing I want to see promoted on television, especially with that nasty, sarcastic Alton Brown. Isn’t there enough bad stuff in the world already? Do we have to have more? Listen, I watched, as did my husband, and of course judged it. Then, I turned it off. It particularly lost its appeal when one arrogant competitor made another arrogant competitor ( if you haven’t picked up on it, they are all arrogant, like an Alton Brown characteristic demolition derby) duck taped a potato masher to another contestant’s arm and made them cook. Believe me, I wish I was making this up, but even I could not think that creatively or maliciously.
The objective is that each contestant is given money from Alton and they can use it to spitefully sabotage their components so that they will lose. (Nice concept, right?) The person who bought the sabotage will (YAY) most hopefully win. Ha! It doesn’t always work out that way. There are no manners in THIS game, no “sorry, man” or good luck, Bonnie” Nothing. For every aging ex-bully on the block? This show is for you, you will love it. Guaranteed.
I paid my dues, I watched this awful show. I will NOT be watching it again. Ever. Tell Alton to retire ( or just yank him off television) somewhere with a Food Magazine and tell him, nicely, to keep his mouth shut. Have him design a handy, dandy little toaster oven or better yet, a grill. Now, how hard could that be? Have him “retire” and pay him a small amount for residuals. That’s all I ask, truly.
everything i could never tell you
I’m sorry, baby girl, I was barely a teen then, I didn’t know there was a name for what your mama had. I just knew she closed herself in her bedroom, turned the lights off and had me babysit you every afternoon. She hid under the covers because she was really sad and all you could hear from her bedroom was her sobbing. I kept the television on to try to protect you from the sounds.
You know, back then, it didn’t even have a name, just crazy. Your mama was chronically depressed and it is like every other illness but years ago it was shameful. Thank God, now, people know more and there are medications and no shame involved.
When I would walk up one flight of dusty, gray stairs, your smile would brighten your entire face like sunshine and your cheeks would turn rosy pink as soon as you saw me. Your mama would scream sometimes, but she couldn’t control herself. Oh, I know you pity yourself but I’m sure it was not easy for her, she was very sad every minute of every day. Yes, it WAS hard for you but you are a grown-up now, can you now think about what it was like for her?
What I remember most, for some funny reason, is that she used to make two pale chicken legs in the toaster oven. Oil or butter turning into bubbles on those nasty looking legs. You must have eaten them after I left but I kept thinking “where was the rice and the salad?” Was there bread and butter to eat? I could picture you and your mama eating one sickly yellow chicken leg each and you drinking your glass of milk.
Your mom never let you have candy so with my babysitting money I would hold your hand and take you into the candy store and let you pick out a chocolate bar and tell you it was our secret. I didn’t care about lying to your mom, she wouldn’t even have noticed. I just wanted you to have a little happiness in your life, I wanted you to be able to be a kid for a short time, anyway. Your eyes would glisten like stars on a dark night, with happiness and excitement, you were lit up like electricity in a lamp.
I met you for lunch once when we were both adults, I didn’t know you anymore. You hated your parents, you hated everything, nothing but hate and coldness inside you. This was way before your older sister became sick too and I adored her as well. I know you were wonderful to her, you did everything for her and everyone knew that, there was the goodness in you.That sweet little girl came back to be her sister’s angel, but when she died, it died too.
We didn’t know about the funeral, no one told us. As soon as we found out we raced to your mom’s apartment where your cold, icy, blue eyes looked through us. I wanted to hug you, but you didn’t let anyone close enough to even say we were sorry. Why? You were blaming us for something we had no control over but you were the queen of control, right?
You built a wall around you of law books and court rooms and tennis-playing friends. I hope you are happy now. But, I wanted to say something that I never could say before: I missed my sweet baby for a long time. The little girl you were, the innocent, happy child that would race to sit on my lap.What happened to her? My one question is “do you even remember her, that sweet sunny child, you were?” Because if not, that would be a damn shame. A damn shame.
Mama Rose cuddled her little boy mouse, Little Ted close to her and whispered to him, softly and gently. Little Ted was frightened, there had been mean mice at school and they were calling him bad names and teasing him. Ted declared to his mom, he never, ever, wanted to go back to school again! She told him that he had to go back to school and that he would be brave and strong, and that those other boy mice were being unkind. They had a problem not Little Ted and that he should keep his head held high and ignore those hurtful words.
Ted wasn’t so sure about all of this. He just wanted to stay home nestled in his mother’s lap, safe, warm, eating chocolate chip cookie crumbs and an occasional raisin or two. “No, dear boy, I’m afraid you can’t run away from hurtful things” his mother said. “In life, there will always be things that we may not like but that we have to do.”
Mama got up and went to their little desk. She looked inside it for a long time. Finally, she took out a small, brown, box which held a silver coin. Mama Rose had used this when she was a baby girl mouse when she was frightened and she passed it on to Little Ted Mouse. “Keep this with you, son, and when you feel frightened, press it hard and know that I am right there beside you giving you courage.” Little Ted Mouse looked up at her and asked with his big, wide eyes “Really?” “Of course, little one, this will remind you of how much I love you AND like you AND believe in you. Whatever you do will be the right thing. This problem will go away, if not today, than tomorrow but remember, it will be fine.” Love can fix everything and those other mean mice just might need a little more love in their lives. Could it be that they are lonely or insecure? Just keep an open mind.” If it doesn’t get better very soon, tell Mama Rose, right away and we will talk about it again. Now, come, it’s time for dinner and then I will read you some books and then it is bedtime.
Little Ted Mouse nibbled on some cheese for dinner, he wasn’t really hungry and then he went to bed, without a word. His Mama came with him and read him five different books which he loved. Mama Rose saw his eyes get sleepy and so she gave him a big hug and a kiss on both cheeks and told him that “everything will be alright” and she would see him in the “morning sun.” At breakfast, Little Ted was quiet but Mama Rose took Little Ted Mouse’s tiny hand and they walked to the bus stop together, his silver coin securely in his pocket.
Mama Rose waited at home all day, nervously, not that she would ever admit that to Little Ted. She was relieved when the little school bus came and she saw Little Ted’s smiling face. Like all mothers, she felt happy. “How was school today, son she asked? “Oh Mama, he said “it was better than yesterday, not at first because the kids were a tiny bit mean but when I told them I had something special that I wanted to show them they all became interested…” What did you show them, my dear? “Why Mama, I showed them my special coin for bravery and they really liked it a lot!” They asked me to bring in again tomorrow so I said I would, is that okay? “Of course, Little Ted, of course!!”
They walked back to their teeny, tiny little house, they sat in a corner on their favorite step and drank milk and shared a chocolate chip and an oatmeal raisin cookie, together and chatted, happily, about their day.
Stop Signs Mean Stop
This happened 20 years ago and I am still mad at myself. I was driving to work at Boston College and stopped at a stop sign, like the cautious driver I am. (My son thinks I drive like a grandma.) I was ready to go when I was rear-ended by a sports car. I was upset, It was obviously his fault however, here was the red-faced blustery aggressive man who started yelling at ME. “This is your fault you know” and then he proceeded to pull out his reluctant 9 year old son from the car and said “he’s my witness.” I didn’t fight back, I didn’t yell, curse or call the police I was in total shock. He kept yelling and I kept cowering; it couldn’t be my fault I knew that but he kept screaming loudly. I wish I had called 911 and made the man stay there but while I told him I was calling, he said he would leave. I was a cowardly wimp, a mashed potato, a limp piece of asparagus. In short, I was a wuss. I hated myself for that years later.My husband and I both called this angry, nasty guy but we got nowhere. Months later, I was rear-ended again and I jumped out of my car and yelled at this lady, taking all my aggravation from the past, on her. Sorry, lady. I guess I was just practicing. To the guy who rear-ended me all those years ago, you are an ass and a bully and a horrible parent to try and involve an innocent little boy. Shame on you.
Oh sure, we are always supposed to give our thanks for what we have and do gratitude journals and write down five things every day we enjoy. No. I won’t do it today. I’m mad and cranky and I’ve had my fill of just about everybody except my dog (and my husband). My two teenagers, (that speaks volumes in itself) 16 1/2 and 18, have been making fun of me and teasing me non-stop. At least that’s what it feels like. We were sitting around the kitchen table and my daughter told my son something”stupid” I said and my son joined in with another mistake I made and proceeded to “text” dad with something I got mixed up with, Texas, Tennessee, whatever. What I felt like doing was having a nutty, exploding and screaming things like “Shut up, you ungrateful brats I’ve had enough” but I didn’t; I regret that now.
I feel like “Mommy Rae” and want to stand up on the kitchen table with a sign that says there should be “A Union For All Moms.” I did tell my children that they were taking advantage of me and I was sick and tired of it. I was ready to cry, explode or yell (which would not have been a bad thing) but instead I left the kitchen table abruptly so they could probably make fun of my lack of sense of humor or whatever else they were dissing me for. (note to people who don’t have teens: to diss: to make fun of or put down.) I escaped, stomped up the stairs and stayed in my bedroom and watched a DVR’d version of one of my favorite shows, Top Chef. I did not go down to “make dinner”early because I had my limit of “what do you want, and what do YOU want” since my daughter is a vegetarian and my son thinks good food consists of ring jells and mixed fruit cocktail in jello. I kid you not.
I napped my intense anger away and when my husband came home and I thought that he was the only one on my side and that’s what it felt like. When he gave me a big hug, I didn’t want him to go. To Buffalo. (no offense to those who live in Buffalo) On Sunday. For six weeks. I thought to myself “how am I going to live with these two monster teenagers alone?” I still don’t have the answer but I am going to lay down the law and tell them to step up and help out. The fact that I have a chronic pain disease does really not seem to affect them, hey, they are feeling good, isn’t everybody? NO, chronic pain means pain ALL THE TIME, I have the amount of energy as a dead tick does. I’m tired, I feel like crap. LISTEN TO ME!
I refuse to pick my daughter up late at night for the next six weeks because I fade at 3pm not to mention 12 midnight. She will have to make plans, get it together. Help out. Think of me. (I scoff). Teenagers, by design, do not think of anyone but themselves. My son will have to man up and help out with things too, he can pick up his sister late at night and take part in whatever is needed for the family. The what? The family, you know, the one that is supposed to be a joint unit, each of us helping each other. (I scoff again).
I’m doing the best I can, that’s what parents do. They try and try and hope that they make the right decision because they only want the best for their children. Do children appreciate that? A resounding NO. I have said the old stand-by to them: “I can’t wait till YOU have teenagers.” Does it make a difference to them? Of course not!!! It just makes me feel a tiny bit better and that is better than nothing.
When I was a little girl, I remember throwing pennies up in the air so that other little kids would find them and be happy. This was not something my mom or dad taught me; it was something I just did. My parents didn’t mind; I think they were mildly amused. Eventually, I worked up to throwing nickels and dimes and imagining excited, delighted children got even sweeter. The first time I threw a quarter my mother put her hands on her hips, stamped her foot and said “are you crazy, that’s a lot of money!” and it really was way back then. I went back to pennies, nickels, dimes and, of course, an occasional quarter, when she wasn’t looking. It was something that always felt right to me and defined me as a person. I never lost that quality, I just didn’t have a name for it.
Years later, when “Random Acts of Kindness” became popular because of Oprah I had a name for what I have always done. I now paid tolls on bridges for the cars behind me, I paid for a cup of Starbucks coffee for the next person in line. I sent a little boy a gift certificate to Toys R Us after his mom died signed by “a friendly neighbor.” When I heard that one of my on-line friends truly loved a certain book, I arranged for a brand new, shiny hardcover book to be autographed with her name, by the author, who happened to be a family friend. Imagining that book on its trip from the post office to her house kept me excited the entire week.
When my son was about four years old we visited my parents who lived out-of-town. I remember one bright and early morning my son, whom we dubbed ” the farmer,” woke up at 5:30am. Everyone else was fast asleep so I decided to take him out for breakfast, just me and my buddy on a date at a local diner. We ate blueberry pancakes with sweet, brown maple syrup and drank bright orange juice from small, plastic glasses.
In the booth in front of us there was an elderly woman looking cranky and mad and according to my son, “really mean.” We could hear her grousing and complaining often, first to herself and later on to the waitress. I told him that maybe the lady behind us, the “really mean lady” was not mean at all. Perhaps she was ill or lonely or very sad to be sitting by herself on an early Sunday morning. I asked my son if he wanted to play a new game; what four-year old would say no to a game?! I told him about a happy, surprise game that involved doing nice things for others that we could do together.
After we finished our meal we went over to the waitress and we paid our bill. Winking at my son and looking at his big, warm brown, excited eyes, I asked the waitress to please add the lonely lady’s meal and a tip for herself to our bill. I remember the waitress looked astonished and pointed to the woman and said “for HER?” We nodded yes, my little boy’s face beaming. My son and I giggled as we left the diner quickly. We couldn’t let the “lady” know who paid for her surprise meal. Our stomachs were happy, our hearts full and our faces were warm and radiant in the early morning sun. We raced down the steps, sharing a delicious secret, our hands still sticky and sweet, clasped firmly and lovingly, together.
I can almost feel the bullet wound, its intense fire, its lingering pain; orange flames dancing like maniacs with a backdrop of blackness. Like a ballet of thunder, darkness and electricity gliding on the stage with utter synchronicity, like two dogs fighting or birds flying. Even though I wasn’t hurt physically it feels like I have been.
When someone tells you what they really, really want? Listen.
My mother encouraged me to go away with my family for the holidays. The fact that I even asked her, shocks most people. That’s what happens when one tries to be courteous and polite. She assured me, again and again that I deserved to go and be with my family after we suffered through two horrible years of sickness, marital discord and unemployment, some of which still exist.
We went away for a few days and had a great time and came back home; she changed her mind. What? Disagreements, misunderstandings and fights ensued. I did not make a mistake to go away with my family; we needed this time together. I just behaved differently than I used to behave and did what I wanted to do for my family.
So, instead of forgetting the past and starting anew, albeit differently, my mother sits at home and, most probably, fumes at me and has been, hurt, sad, angry and disgusted. We both feel the same way about each other. But, I will not let that stop my life from going on, but for pride’s sake, she is hurting herself. I won’t forget the things she said to me, but I can forgive and move on. Life is too short to be bitter or resentful. If it’s not working this way, try another. Silence is said to be golden, but it isn’t. More likely, it eats away at you and makes things worse.
I’ve learned the following things. Don’t say yes if you are not sure. Don’t push your family away because you want them closer. Saying mean things to hurt people on purpose is inexcusable but happens. Forgiveness and compassion are two sentiments that really count.
I continue my days which are usually fine, but at night, before I go to sleep, I feel something unsettling in my stomach, twinges that are like nagging little reminders that something is not quite right. I know that there are two people who love each other but cannot find their way back to a common ground.
Let things go from your heart, don’t keep grudges and reiterate and retell all your feelings and mistakes. People who love each other will hurt each other sometimes. Stop thinking of all the negative things and embrace compassion and forgiveness.
It will be then and only then, that your heart will begin to heal.