Mommy Wants Vodka

…Or A Mail-Order Bride

We. Made. You.


I wasn’t going to write this post. Really, I wasn’t. The Internet has been flooded from Twitter to Facebook to all the 300 blogs I read with posts about The Death Of Michael Jackson And What It Meant To Them, and I don’t really have much to contribute.

I was born in 1980 into a family of stinky hippies and I cut my teeth on Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Pop music was seen as some sort of abomination and I could still probably sing you a medley of anti-war songs that I grew up listening to. My brother, ten years my senior, was far more interested in making Freddy Kruegar gloves with real working razor blades than with jamming out to the top 40 station.

I did have a Michael Jackson album that I occasionally rocked out to on my tiny Fisher Price tape deck, but where it came from and where it disappeared to is anyone’s guess. I didn’t miss it.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’ll never ever deny that he was an amazing musician who changed music in ways we’ll never begin to understand; he was. No argument here. He just wasn’t someone I rocked out (with my cock out) to very often.

From a young child, his every move scrutinized by the media. We at home sat back and watched eagerly like a bunch of fucking vultures when the first hints of his unravelling occurred.

Ohmygod, We clamored, is he REALLY turning white? What is UP with his nose now, We scoffed? He’s turning into a wax man, We giggled!

The tabloids reported facts and falsehoods, indistinguishable to Us, We scandal-hungry jackals, licking Our gleaming white teeth, ready to rip him apart. Truth didn’t matter, no, so long as We had quotes from well known sources and had every fucking doctor who had never treated this patient speculate on what was really wrong with him. The juicer the better, We screamed, giddy with joy begging for more dirt on his penis, his monkey butler, his life. And the papers, always happy to sell more copy, happily obliged.

Once in awhile, We’d stop for a second and say, you know what? This is kind of fucked up, that We’re sitting here like a bunch of scavengers, hoping for scraps–tasty, delicious scraps–about this man’s life.

Oh well, We quickly reasoned, justifying Our voyeuristic look into the life of someone We’d never meet, he ASKED for it when he became a star. He should have said no, at the age of whatever-young-age he was when he was thrust into the limelight with his family, We reasoned, Our conscience making a dramatic flip-flop. Morally superior to someone We didn’t know once again.

It’s not OUR fault he’s such a freak.

And maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s not Us that made Britney go berserk last year, reliving those private teenage years that We all went through, maybe a little later than Us, but the same awkward mistakes We all made. Only We didn’t have to grow up to see Our face splashed about the papers when We broke curfew or had sex in a car in a parking lot.

No one reported that We were yet again at McDonald’s, stuffing Our pimply faces with Big Macs and chocolate shakes. No reporter caught Us talking with a stupid accent or wearing those itty-bitty short-shorts that made Our ass look dimpled and gross. What We ordered at Starbucks wasn’t national news. When We screwed up–God knows We all did–it was between Us, Our family, and God.

Sure maybe We made Shit List at Our school of 2,000 people for blowing some chick’s boyfriend in the bathroom, or maybe We shit our pants in gym class and the whole school was gleeful and mocking for a couple of weeks. Maybe it lasted a year. Maybe that year was miserable and hard because people hated Us.

But eventually, people forgot.

We’d grow up, move out, and the hazy memories would turn sepia and move to the back of Our brains. Remember when (dot, dot, dot) would turn soft-filtered and someday We might not be able to recall the smaller details that were so important to Us at age 16. Or 17. Or 25.

There’s no magazine archive from ten years ago that chronicles all the fuck-ups, all the cooter shots, all the bad fashion choices I made. It’s not national news that I drink diet coke by the bucket-full or that I really do need to lose some major pounds. When I have a fight with Nat, there’s no one to capture the look on my face, the snarl on my lips when I tell him to fuck off, no one will interview my friends and family to find out if I’d had a drink before the fight.

My life, comparatively, is unexamined. Just like, I imagine, yours.

Sure, maybe some of us have blogs, some of us have well-read blogs with a wider audience, and those of us who have gotten a bigger crowd reading understand the scrutiny involved even here, on The Internet.

I, for as small of a blog as I have, know full well that whatever I put here is something that I need to own up to. I can’t bring you all of the drama that I’d like, the hidden feelings in my heart of hearts, not without remembering that every time I do, I stand to have someone come here and rip me down. And worse, get me wrong. Completely wrong.

And I own that. I’m okay with that. You want to rip me up one side of my ass and down the other? Go right ahead. I invited you in and I’m very happy that you’re here.

I choose to be here. I choose to put myself out here. Just like you do.

And, like you, I can stop at any time. I’m not supporting my family on my income here (go ahead, have a giggle). I don’t owe anyone here anything, and although my archives will remain somewhere here in the place where bad blogs go when they die even if I pull my blog down, that’s okay. I’m not ashamed.

But I can choose to stop whenever I want, just as you can. I can flit back to my life outside the computer and no one will be the worse for it. My kids might come to me and make fun of the crap I’ve spewed here if and when they find it and I will laugh with them. My disappearance here will make no ripples. Just another dead link.

Could Britney leave? Could Mr. Jackson? Could they really?

Of course not. Michael turned into a recluse in his later years, a creepy recluse who underwent mockery whenever he stepped out of his house to try and lead a normal life; take his kids to the zoo or the bookstore. We’d lap it up, laughing at what he’d become.

We laughed at Britney too. How could she possibly have held one of her kids hostage in her home when her ex-husband tried to pick him up? Ha-ha-ha-ha, that crazy bitch, we giggled sanctimoniously, knowing full well that we would never behave that way.

They were trapped. Super-stars trapped and cornered like caged wild animals.

Sure, maybe Britney would have become a bat-shit crazy hairdresser in Louisiana if she hadn’t become Britney Spears ™. Maybe Michael Jackson ™ would have worked at Sears and had a penchant for kiddie porn. No one would have known or cared what these two nobodies did, what they ate for breakfast, what brand of toilet paper they used to wipe their no-name assholes with.

Britney can never be anything other than Britney Spears ™ and Michael Jackson could never be anything but Michael Jackson ™ if you like or Wacko Jacko ™ if you don’t.

And for all the fancy cars, the notoriety, the fame, the fortune and the glamor, there’s a pretty big part of me that wonders if they could choose to do it all over again, would they?

As I sit here today, submerged in a never-ending sea of snippets about Michael Jackson, I can’t help but feel a little ashamed. We made him. We made him and we laughed when he fell apart. Dress it up, take it out to dinner, hell, take it home to meet Dear Old Dad, we can’t escape that cold hard fact.

We made them all.

The Day My Heart Stood Still


Last summer on the way home from taking my youngest son to the doctor, I found a child. No, Sleepy Jean, don’t bother to try and rub your eyes so that sentence so that it makes more sense to you. I did say that I found a kid (not, I should also clear up, my own).

There I was, minding my own beeswax when I decided to stop on the way home for a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts so that I might not sleep the afternoon away. Only because of this sudden, burning desire did I drive the route that I did, and seriously Internet? That was Providence if I’ve ever seen it.

Driving along, there I was, listening to Alex babble in the backseat when at the corner of a really busy intersection, a child of probably between 2 and 3 was darting around. At first, it didn’t register with me as Something Odd until I thought about it. What kind of parent would let a kid be ALONE at that corner? Not, I realized, one that was probably watching their kid.

Frantically, I pulled my car over and jumped out, Alex squawking indignantly “MOMMY” as I leapt out to the child. Thankfully, another lady had ALSO stopped and together we were able to get the child’s attention. She was a well-dressed, well-groomed obviously loved little one, her hair plaited neatly (especially for 10:30 in the AM, I thought blearily), but all alone.

The lady who I was corralling this (honestly) well-mannered child had better Spanish skills than I do, considering I didn’t really want to ask the kid if she wanted more bread, cheese or water. Nor did I think telling her that she had poquito huevos (small testicles) was either appropriate or a good idea. And short of counting to six (also pointless), I speak ridiculously crappy Spanish.

But the lady convinced the girl to come sit on the sidewalk and play with my son, who I’d retrieved from the car immediately once I realized that this really was a lost kid. In that area of town, it’s nearly all cheap, crappy apartments shared by many (assumably) illegal immigrants, so it’s not like going door to door would have gotten us far. Besides, how the hell would we KNOW if the person who claimed her was her actual guardian? She was too young to be anything other than trusting of complete strangers.

We instead decided to call the police–my initial urge was to take her to my house BEFORE we called the police, but that seemed unwise–and in a couple of minutes, a squad car rolled by, swooped up the girl, and after getting a brief statement from each of us (including, oddly, Alex’s full name and birthday), pulled away.

I felt really bad about this for awhile because I assumed that her parents were maybe illegal and as such, wouldn’t go to the police and risk deportation. They were probably pacing frantically worrying and wringing their hands, having (literally) lost their daughter. I couldn’t imagine their pain. It was obvious that the kid had just wandered off, not like she’d been abandoned.

My heart was heavy for a long while afterward.


Many months later, I was heavily pregnant (I could be pregnant for 4 minutes and I would be heavily pregnant, I feel I should add) with Amelia and playing a game with Alex. The point of the game, according to Alex to charge at my belly and then I would swoop him upside down into the air. Then, I would give him a fake back-breaker and tickle him until he screamed with glee.

The phone rang. Expecting a call from The Daver, I picked it up and checked the caller ID to make sure it wasn’t someone calling to petition my vote for something or another. Or maybe the people who always call for my opinion on stuff (no. SERIOUSLY. ME! Dub-ya, Tee, Eff?). But no, the caller ID said clearly “Dept of Children and Family Services.”

My heart took a nosedive and ended up somewhere in my colon. Had someone reported me to DCFS?

I mean, certainly I’m not always the model parent: sometimes my patience runs out and I speak more sharply than I want to. Sometimes dealing with the issues that Ben fixates on gets really tiresome. There are days where I wish I could have someone else watch my children for me so that I could dick around the house. Some days, I’d like to crawl back into bed and sleep the day away. Certainly, like any parent, I’ve made mistakes.

But I’m a good mother. I am. I know that I am. While I might doubt other things about myself (like my ability to get back into size 2 pants. Shut up! Also, no leakage OR seepage yet! Hooray!), I can’t possible cop to being a bad parent.

Seeing that number, though, I almost threw up. What could they possibly want with me?

I answered, my voice full of trepidation, fear radiating off me in waves, and began to speak with someone who was calling me (apparently) from a wind tunnel. I could barely hear this person–I think it was a woman but I honestly couldn’t tell you–but it was quickly determined that the call was not about me. Rather, it was about the child I’d found.

Of course, this person wasn’t able to tell me anything about the case, instead asking me question after ridiculous question about the timeline of the day that I found the child. Months before.

Now, because I don’t work out of the house, I rarely look at a calendar, and recalling precisely what the time on my dashboard clock read when I found a child because I was, oh, I don’t know, too busy trying to get the child away from the sea of cars whizzing past. She/He seemed shocked that I couldn’t remember all the details, like the name of the lady who’d stopped and assisted me with the child, but this was so far after the fact that my sieve-ish memory had just dropped that information.

I hung up the phone with her (let’s hope that it wasn’t ON her) and breathed an unsettled sigh or relief, my heart still thumping heavily in my chest. Shocked beyond anything by the whole situation.

I’ll probably never know what happened to that poor child (my guess is that she’s now in foster care). But stuff like this makes me hug my children a bit tighter every time I can wrap my meaty arms around them.


What is the weirdest thing YOU’VE found by the side of the road?




…And Still Insists She Sees The Ghosts


2009 BlogLuxe Awards

From the ages of, oh, I don’t know, 3 to 24, my brother hated me. Unresolved issues, a sprinkling of jealousy and a (now ex) wife who fanned the flames of contention with her equally fcuked-up relationship with her own little brother made for a gigantic cluster-fuck of a relationship. For years I was baffled, then sullenly resentful, then I got over it.

You can’t make people (even family) like you. Period. End of story. Fin as those wily French say. Or is it the Eye-Tal-Ians? I can’t be sure.

(Years later, thanks to my sister-in-law, we get along just fine, thankyouverymuch, to the shock, I think, of us both)

But back then, when I was a teenager and he was my current age (28), he and his shrew of a (then) wife who shared my name (first, then last) bought a house in St. Charles, not too far–maybe 5 blocks–from where I live now. The only difference is, my house is in a 70’s construction subdivision, and his house was one of the original in the town. And, because he has a penchant for the dramatic and macabre, the old house he bought wasn’t any old house.

No, not a bit. Not MY brother.

It was built in 1837 in the heart of what was then downtown St. Charles, by a builder whose wife was a member of the spiritualist movement. Her name was Caroline and she believed that she could send and receive messages from the dead. As a famous medium of her time, she held many seances in her home, including one for Mary Todd Lincoln, who came to St. Charles in hopes of communicating with her deceased husband Abe.

But no, the macabre doesn’t stop there.

Once Caroline passed away, one of her daughters picked up right where her mother had left off, conducting seances in the same house. Her daughter later married a man who was an undertaker. The house was then used as a funeral home with one of the basement rooms used as an embalming and viewing room. The name of the undertaker is still etched into the glass on the front door, my brother happily pointed out when we came to tour the house.

(To think I was happy that my own home had central air.)


My brother and his then wife bought this home in the later 1990’s when I was a teenager. Shortly after this, my brother began to travel for business, leaving the country for weeks at a time. Also around this time, my former sister-in-law asked for a divorce. Even less reason for Aaron to be home.

So, when he was gone, I was occasionally asked to house sit, which confounded me: here I was, 18 with a boyfriend, and I was asked to stay in a house ALONE without parents, by my brother who hated me? Surely, there was a catch.

Turns out there was.

For someone like me, who firmly didn’t believe in ghosts, I wasn’t scared by the rumors that the house was haunted. Sure, the chalk painting on the wall in the basement (later, I learned, was the embalming room) of a wide-eyed girl with the phrase “JUST A PURE GIRL” underneath it was a little creepy. But St. Charles is an old town and between the houses I’d been to that had passages for the escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad and all the other old weirdness, I chalked it up to nerves.

He’d bought a creepy house.

End of the ever-loving story.

But no.

One night, after I’d promised my mother that I would pop over there to water the plants and hang out so that it looked occupied and lived in, I dragged my then-boyfriend over with me. Figured we’d listen to some music, hang out without any interruptions and maybe get a chance to have The Sex.

But no.

We pulled up, parked and walked in after I unlocked the door. It was like walking into a wall of unease. All merriment, all joy, all laughter was suddenly just gone. Sucked out of the both of us, like we’d entered The Vortex of The Fun-Free Zone. I eyed him and he eyed me back. The disenchantment was mutual, but we were going to power through it. Maybe it was just nerves or something.

But no.

We walked around the house and if we’d been actors on a stage, the directions would have read “The couple walks about, trying their best to act normal.” Very awkward and highly unexpected for the both of us. I went to the CD rack to pick out a CD as I knew my brother’s collection was far better than my own, hoping, I guess that a little familiar music would still the feeling of disquiet.

But no.

We sat down on the rug in front of the stereo and began to listen to some Mazzy Star. Okay, I thought, maybe it was just a case of The Nerves. Then the phone rang. Startled beyond anything, I jumped up, my heart thudding unhappily in my chest as I realized I was sweating profusely. Better answer that, I thought as I went for the handset in the kitchen. Give the illusion that someone is home, yeah, that’s the ticket.

(my brother hates to talk on the phone, so in hindsight, this was NOT what he’d have done)

Having been somewhat of a phone aficionado for most of my life, I was shocked that I couldn’t answer it. I tried to answer it, I pushed the right buttons on his new-agey looking phone, but no one was there. On and on it rang, Tim and I looking frantically at each other like answering this fucking phone won us the right to live or die. I couldn’t manage to answer it. No way, no how.

Then, just as the phone stopped ringing, the sirens downtown began to go off. The house wasn’t super close to the police or fire department, but the sirens were loud and close. All of a sudden, I got a vision of a car wreck somewhere close where people I loved had died. Popped into my head out of the clear blue sky. My whole body was covered head to toe in goosebumps and I began to shiver uncontrollably in the warm summer air.

It was then that I knew we had to get the fuck out of there before something Really Bad happened.

There was a murderer there and I could smell his sickeningly sweet cologne right behind me with a knife and a gun and a rope and i was going to die like this, in this creepy house, there was a fire about to start oh my god a fire a fucking fire and we would be trapped, burnt to a crisp, the gas main oh my god the gas main was going to suddenly pop a leak killing us quietly while we slowly drifted off into a never-ending sleep DANGER!DANGER!DANGER! red danger, red danger!! the porch was going to collapse on us wow it must be unstable holy shit got to go got to go, killing us in a load of dusty horsehair plaster where we can’t get out and crushed, oh my god crushed the swarm of bees in my head, oh my head, oh my god, my head.

I took one look at Tim who looked back at me, both of us ashen under our summer tan, and we ran. We fucking bolted from that house as quick as we fucking could, panting and breathless. I called my mom to beg her to come and lock up after me because I couldn’t do it. My hands were too shaky to work the key into the lock.

Aaron sold the house several years later, had a couple of good laughs at my experience with the ghost, whom he claimed “hated women.” My mother, conversely, loved the ghost in that house who, apparently, loved her back. So the ghost, just like anyone else, had preferences.

It sounds so flimsy when I retell it here, because I can’t inject terror into your body like it was injected into mine. The analytical side of me says that what happened was just a stress response to being in the house of someone who didn’t like me particularly. It says it that I was feeding off the emotions of my surroundings and letting it overtake me. It says that there’s no such thing as ghosts.

The irrational, emotional side of me, though, doesn’t agree. The emotional side of me calls bullshit.


Do you believe in ghosts? Have you had anything like that happen to you?

He Who Should Have Been Named Buttface


Mother’s Day despite having “mother” in the name (which I am) and “day” in the name (which, come on, it’s on a DAY–because what isn’t?) has always been sort of a sore holiday for me. I’ve moaned and pissed about how annoying it is to have to be the one in charge of making sure every other mother is happy while I am quietly forgotten about. I know, right?

Get back up on that cross, Aunt Becky. You need another nail pounded in.

The problem begins with and ends with one person, a person who I have pledged to love, honor and obey repay until The Deal Is Done. That person is, of course: The Daver, my one and only (therefore best) husband. Daver is a sweet guy, I swear he is, but he’s the least thoughtful person on the planet. He’s never, ever bought me a gift for a holiday without me loudly complaining and it always hurts my feelings.

This year for Christmas I’d elaborately bought stuff for everyone’s stocking–shopping weeks in advance for everything–and on Christmas Eve Eve (it’s a custody thang) when I huffed upstairs to grab the bags of stuff neatly sorted into brown paper bags and Sharpie’d with the recipients name, we began to fill the stockings.

The last one to be filled was mine. Which had…wait for it, wait for it….


A handful of candy that was leftover from the other stockings. And nothing else.

Being pregnant, hormonal, and generally feeling sorry for myself, this made me burst into tears. I cried for much longer than was really necessary, but hey, I was pregnant, hormonal and feeling sorry for myself.

(I don’t need to tell you that he’d bought me exactly nothing at all for Christmas at that point. Nor was he planning to. Until he saw that he might be murdered while he slept if he did not.)

This is the case for every holiday. It’s a cycle. You’d think I’d wise up (or he would) and just not expect him to remember or celebrate, but every holiday that passes (including the Day After Bastille Day. Also known as the Day The World Was Lovingly Gifted Aunt Becky. Also known as my birthday.) without any acknowledgement makes me upset.

Mother’s Day last year was no different. I realized while we were at the mall getting shoes for a very, very crabby Alex that this was the extent of the plans for the day: shoe shopping for a toddler. What compounded my emotions was the 2nd miscarriage in a row I was suffering through, so I promptly cried like a fucking pansy. When he tried to make it better by taking me out to lunch with my wee beasties, we had to take our meals to go after we waited an hour+ to get my salad and his chicken.

I got home and was hysterical. It was probably one of the lower points of the hormonal roller coaster (the lowest being the hospital visit to confirm miscarriage #2) and I promptly did one of the stupider things I could have done: I begged Dave to take me to go get a kitten.

He did. And instead of a kitten, we got Auggie. An adorable bundle of fluff ball. A Shiba Inu and Chihuahua mix.

The absolute worst impulse buy EVER.


I’m not much of a dog person, truth be told, and was pretty content with Cash, our end table of a dog. He sleeps, lumbers around to eat, then goes back to the couch and sleeps some more. It’s really my ideal life and I’m more than a little jealous.


No, no Internet, I promise you, he’s not dead. He just looks that way.

But Auggie was cute and cuddly and I was hormonal and sad and I just couldn’t bear the thought of going home without something that cute to snuggle with. A stupid fucking reason to get a dog, but whatever, we were stuck with him.

I have threatened I don’t even know how many times to take him to the shelter, put him up on Craig’s List, donate him to test products on*, let him loose on the highway, let him loose in my parents neighborhood after removing his sparkly heart name tag. I’ve screamed at him, fantasized about punting him across the room, imagined running him over with my car and tried desperately to pawn him off on everyone I know.

(no one will take him. I wonder why…)

Puppies suck. Hard. I knew it before and trust me, I know it even better now.

He turned 1 in March and he’s still alive, still here humping Cash’s face, still sprinting to Cash’s butt when he takes a dump because he likes to eat shit right off the tap (SEE!! Internet, now I don’t sound so cruel!), still ripping up tissues and eating cat turds out of the box (side note: awesome. One less job for me**) as a tasty, Cat Box Crunchy.


Is he eating poo? I JUST DON’T KNOW.

Only I don’t quite…hate him anymore. I almost…like him! He’s calmed down quite a bit, he no longer pisses on the carpets, and while he eats shit, I like to consider it organic of the highest degree (apparently there isn’t anything you can do about this habit besides put him in a home with no other animals). Auggie is obviously advanced, you see. Plus…

Meet his best friend:


And his other best friend:


And anyone who loves my kids that much can’t be all bad. We have reached peace, Augs and I. I can say that I (mostly) like having him around. Honestly. And I’m not just saying that because I heard somewhere that if you repeated something over and over you’d eventually believe it.


All right my pretties, spill. I want to hear about the worst impulse buy you’ve ever made.

*You haven’t lived until you’ve cleaned up dog vomit before breakfast. That’s composed of dog shit. I tell you, awesome stuff. And yes, it did make me throw up too. Oh happy day!

**Sadly, while this sounds like an ideal situation, I cannot condone my dog cleaning the cat box with his mouth. Much.

Dona Nobis Pacem


Today, at 2:30 PDT, my friends will bury their daughter Maddie.

In lieu of a real post today, I will link you to the post I wrote while talking to Maddie’s mother while she was in the PICU with her daughter.

And I will raise my voice to the heavens today and beg, “give us peace, give us peace. Dona nobis pacem.”

Rest in peace, little one. The world will miss your smile.

The Collective Good Of People


I don’t have any idea how to follow up my last post with anything of any substance. How do you go from raging against the death of your friend’s child to talking about poop and fart jokes. I see no way of doing so without seeming tacky. And feeling tacky.

So I won’t try.

Instead I will once again proclaim that I believe, I BELIEVE in the collective good of people. I always knew that people would often do the right thing if given a chance, and here the Internet proved me right.

Within 2 days of Maddie Spohr’s death, her March of Dimes donations had gone from under $3000 to over $20,000. And no, while I am stupid, I did not misplace a zero there.

All over the world, people are wearing purple for Maddie and mourning the loss of a wonderful, amazing little girl. If I could figure out how to turn my blog purple for Maddie, I would.

Operation Purple Balloon has a new participant (me) and I’ll be buying the party store out of every shade of purple balloons they have.

Within hours of posting about it, my friend Stef was able to secure food for Heather and Mike for the next two weeks.

But what we still need to do, how you can still help is to donate to the Spohr’s to cover the prohibitive cost of the funeral (around $7,000). Go to the PayPal site and punch in the email if you want to donate. Give what you can, when you can. Let’s ease their burden as best we can.

A Life Less Ordinary


I always kind of rolled my eyes whenever someone would say “but I just say them” in response to the news that said person had died. Well, I’d think, it’s not like Death sends a calling card to mention He’ll be popping by in the next couple of days. Someone was bound to see the deceased before they passed. And this time, lucky you, that someone happened to be you.

Today I woke up and learn of the passing of sweet Maddie Spohr. My initial response was an unpredictably predictable “but I JUST talked to Heather yesterday and Maddie was getting all kinds of feisty! She was GETTING BETTER.”

Maddie was going to marry my son, did I tell you that? Alex got engaged months (years?) ago when I first met Heather. My initial thought about Heather was “holy shit this chick is funny. I wish I could be so funny” and it was immediately followed by a “holy shit that baby is cute. I wish my baby was that cute.”

(Alex, Ben, EARMUFFS!)

So, I always thought of Maddie as my future-daughter-in-law. Honestly, I did. I loved her like my own and always devoured the pictures and anecdotes Heather posted regularly to her blog.

I can’t believe she’s gone. I just can’t believe it.

I spent today flitting aimlessly around the house, trying to focus on something, anything to get my mind off Maddie Spohr. And every time I’d start something, it would be dropped because I simply couldn’t focus on it. I roamed restlessly, tearfully from room to room in my house, wringing my hands and crying and wishing like hell that I could do something, anything for Heather and Mike. I nearly jumped a plane out to see them before I reminded myself that I probably could stand a shower before I got too close to anyone.

I sat most of the day here, at my computer where I sit now. My heart oozed out from my chest into a gooey pile on my keyboard as I wept, my eyes melting with grief. My chest hurt with every gasping breath I took, the oxygen searing my lungs and stinging painfully. I couldn’t stop the hurt.

I can’t stop the hurt.

Sleep, always an elusive mistress for your Aunt Becky, an insomniac of the most pathetic order, fails me and I feel like I’m going to explode at any second. Like my body has somehow filled with some sort of liquid pain and the slightest prick of pressure will send my insides outside to spatter my walls with guts and goo. I hurt. I physically hurt.

I did what I always do when I’m devastated, I made the pain physical. I did hundreds upon hundreds of sit-ups today, my muscles aching and sore after months of disuse. But the ache helped somehow. It felt as though I was punishing myself, making my pain real and raw and not just mental anguish.

And I should hurt. We ALL should hurt. All of us who knew Maddie and Heather and Mike should all hurt. We should hurt so badly that we cannot stand it. So badly that we don’t know if we can tolerate another second of this torture. Because if a life can be measured by the people whom it touched, the whole world is hurting now. Maddie touched us all.

We all will miss Maddie, the most striking child I have ever seen. We all will hurt for her. We will all hurt for the empty chasm that was left in her mom and dad when she passed. We will mourn for her, we will celebrate her, we will love her, and we will cherish her memory, raise up her life and hold her in our hearts. This will be her legacy.


Because Maddie Alice Spohr was here, dammit, and she mattered.

This Secret Place, The Land Of Tears


When I showed up to the pediatric transplant unit for my first day of clinicals, it was mercifully dark and quiet, the nurses flitting purposefully about as stealthily as they could. The only sounds I could make out beyond the steady mechanical hum found on any hospital unit were the occasional IV beeping, signifying, perhaps, an occlusion in the line or that a bag of fluids was now emptied. It was quieter than any unit I’d ever been on before.

Reds and blues and bright yellows lined the hallway and I noted cheerful balloons painted on the walls as I thought to myself, how wonderfully non-clinical it all looked. How perfectly child-like. It seemed only fair that if a kid were sick enough to have to be in the hospital, at the very least, they could feel at home.

I spied a television with a DVD player and PlayStation stashed in a corner, and marveled at how this hospital really had been designed with children in mind. The unit fridge was stocked with puddings and chocolate milk and chips and graham crackers; all stuff my own two-year old would have happily eaten. I felt as though I might actually be in some sort of elaborate daycare facility rather than a major children’s hospital. There was even a McDonald’s in the basement.

It wasn’t until I got my first assignment -a baby; severe liver failure- and saw that my one-year old patient was the size of a three-month old that these children weren’t having much fun. These kids weren’t on vacation. They weren’t at daycare. They were sick as hell. Some were well on their way to dying.

And still, even as these children died, life went on outside.

People bustled by on the streets, knowing, perhaps, the name of the hospital and the types of patients, but never knowing that fear. The fear that lives in your gut once something horrible happens to you and you know how in the cosmic scheme of things, there is no “fair.” They’d never know how terrible it is to listen to children -innocent children- in pain. These people would never have to voluntarily inflict pain upon their own flesh, their own blood, because sometimes life deals you a wild card, and you do the best you can.

They’d never know about the secret places in the hospitals, the PICU’s; the NICU’s where small, but real lives routinely hung in the balance. Where cosmic scales made absolutely no sense. Where kids lived and where they died.

This secret place, the land of tears.

When they’d think of hospitals, they’d think of the places where old people went when they were ill. Where your appendix or a foot or two of colon would be removed and you’d go home. Cured. Where you’d splint your broken arm, x-ray a broken leg, and bandage up that nasty gash on your finger. Where old people died.

Hospitals weren’t places for children. Because in a fair and just world, kids wouldn’t get sick and kids wouldn’t die.

Kids wouldn’t be born without brains, or with only part of their brains, or born too early, too soon to live. Babies wouldn’t be born still. Kids wouldn’t need dialysis or organ transplants. No kid should have to know the torture of chemotherapy. No parent should have to send their kid to the morgue. No family should have to plan a funeral for a child.

Death, dying; transplants and cancer, those are things that should affect the old, the people who had loved and lost, married and had their families, kids, grandkids; people who had lived.


My universe is less random than I once thought it to be.

When I birthed my sick daughter, Amelia, it just so happened to be where the very same children’s hospital where I’d previously worked had just opened up a satellite unit. At three weeks of age, she underwent neurosurgery, and for the second time in her life, she became a patient there. First in the NICU, then the PICU.

The monitors blipped intermittently for my daughter, gown bearing the same logo I’d seen so many times before, when her heart rate dipped or she’d forget to breathe and watching them, I’d shake her tiny feet, whispering breathe, baby, breathe into her pink shell of an ear. And then she would inhale, those glorious oxygenating breaths filling her lungs as the monitors would once again blip normal vitals. The alarms would stop shrilly alarming and yet another crisis would wink at us in the rearview mirror as it passed.

Her father and I signed furtively in and out of the NICU, then PICU after we were buzzed in by some unseen, nameless, faceless person into a locked, secret unit; mere ghosts of ourselves. We’d drift in and out for the tenth or sixtieth cup of coffee to keep ourselves awake and functioning, getting gluey food from the cafeteria to put into our mouths and chew, never tasting it. Sometimes, our paths would converge with other shells of parents. We’d smile knowingly as we passed; the kinds of smiles you smile without any trace of joy. Those commiserative, “you too, eh? Well, FUCK,” smiles, not the, “hey, friend, how are you?” kinds.

We learned later that we were the lucky ones. The ones that were buzzed out of this unit with our daughter in her carseat, strapped tightly in and screaming her head off.

The unit of sadness, of broken dreams and tears. Laughter and heartache.

This secret place, the land of tears.

Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me: Third Trimester Edition


*Defying all laws of time and space, the last month of pregnancy is significantly longer than the previous 8.

*All of the issues (nausea, sleepiness, vomiting, utter bat-shit craziness) that plagued you during trimester 1 will rear their ugly head yet again. Only it’s less charming this time.

*(especially if it’s your first baby) You’ll imagine each and every twinge to be the Start Of Labor and probably end up in L/D more times than you’d think only to be told that you’re not even contracting.

*After you have this baby, you’ll agree that nothing feels like labor except for…well, labor.

*Ending up in L/D and being sent home will make you feel more embarrassed than you’d imagine would be a logical reaction.

*Speaking of “logical,” you’re not. And you haven’t been for a long time. You won’t know how nuts you are until after the wee one comes and you realize that you no longer have any urge to clean the toliet with a toothbrush.

*Leaking pee will become a new and disgusting way of life. And you’ll occasionally think it’s your bag of waters breaking. It’s probably not. But, take it from me, get that fucker checked out.

*If you’re like me, the hospital bag you pack will go largely untouched, so don’t freak out. They’ll usually give you free ickle bottles of shampoo and the lot. Use these and then THROW THEM AWAY. Sure, you’re in L/D or Mother/Baby, but it’s still a hospital. And hospitals = germies.

*You will finally tire of talking about this baby because all that you can think about is how ready you are for this to be over.

*The fears of labor will quickly be replaced by the fears of never having this damn baby.

*Having wee feet kicking your internal organs and trying desperately to seperate your ribs from your spinal cord is just as charming (and painful) as you imagine it will be.

*Did I mention how off the rocker you are? Because you TOTALLY are.

*Once you hit 37 weeks, people will check in on you daily with one annoying question: have you had that baby yet? You may very well want to smack them.

*People will start snickering when you walk into a room. Presumably because you now look like Grimace. Or a Weeble.

*You will start to moan and groan every time you have to change positions. And you will be acutely aware of how dumb you sound and how feeble you now are.

*Try as best as you can to rest and revel in the attention people are paying to you right now. Because once that baby gets here, swollen and stitched up vagina and all, no one will give a flying crap about you. Just the baby.

*Your breasts are going to develop a mind (and body!) of their own. They will be equally as painful now as they were back in old trimester 1.

What am I missing, party people?

Things That Are Real And Things That Are Not


By nature, I’m not A Worrier. It’s just not in my blood to aimlessly sit around and think deeply about any and all of the consequences of my actions. If that implies that I sit around on a fluffy cloud of pink cotton candy, nary a care in the world, never dealing with the consequences of my choices, it’s sadly incorrect. Mayhap someday I’ll be fortunate enough (read: medicated enough) to live like that, but not today.

I just don’t waste a whole lot of time worrying about what might happen if Jupiter aligns with Mars at a 33 degree angle which is a remarkably good way to live especially if your spouse has been conditioned at birth to be A Worrier.

No, the only problems that come from this is that often, when things are about to go all apeshit on your ass, you don’t spend enough time talking through the what-ifs of the situation.

Let me back up a minute.

I currently have two children: Alexander and Benjamin, both of whom are flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, and easily two of my favorite people on the planet (see! I can be sentimental sometimes!). Now.

Problem is Baby A and Baby B were both Baby Dickheads. I’m sure this will offend someone out there, me calling my child(ren) a dick or an asshole, but they were simply horrible babies. What made matters even worse is that they were both badly behaved in such DIFFERENT horrible ways, so I was left shrugging my shoulders and fantasizing about suicide.

Ben, as we now know, is on the autistic spectrum and as a baby, had massive sensory issues that were then undiagnosed. Which meant that I knew this about my child:

1) He hated being touched
2) He hated life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
3) Absolutely everything evoked the exact same response: SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HIS WEE LUNGS.

It’s fairly safe to say that he had both colic and a bad attitude and there was NOTHING I could do about either of these issues besides wait it out. Or kill myself, which just seemed like a bad idea.

Alex was born and literally could not get enough of me, which was, I suppose, my fault. When I was pregnant with him, I furiously wished that I would now have a child who liked me best. If it sounds sad to you, it’s because it is. I had been so incredibly hurt by Ben’s ultimate rejection of me that all I wanted out of my child was to have one who liked me.

It’s safe to say that I got that in spades. Remember the Monkey Paw story?

Alexander couldn’t handle the mere thought of being apart from me. He’d scream mercilessly if he was taken away from me so that I could do such things as take a pee alone, or perhaps shower. Rather than sleep like a normal baby, he decided that sleep was for pussies and refused that too. Only thing he ever wanted was a boob in his face. Constantly.

Seriously, the kid nursed every hour for nearly a year. I shit you not.

Even now, sleep issues mainly resolved (save for the naps he often doesn’t take AT ALL), I am the preferred parent, and if I am around, the world is right. It’s fucking cute as hell and it warms my heart and it terrifies the hell out of me that when Amelia comes and he realizes that he has competition (Ben is old enough that he doesn’t seem to be fazed by his relationship with Yours Truly).

I mean, I’m pretty scared of some fierce sibling rivalry and there’s very little at his age that I can do to prepare him for a baby. Hell, there’s so little you can do in general to explain to a child (or anyone else, really) how a baby can turn your life on its’ axis just by being here. I have no idea how to divide myself up like I’m going to have to especially when there’s no other acceptable adult substitution available to either of us.

And I’m terrified of having another awful baby. I’m so, so afraid of what this will do me. I’m no pus-bag and I’d even venture to occasionally call myself Hard Core, but after nearly a year of not sleeping (thank you, Baby A) my grasp on reality was getting so shaky that I was actually considering suicide. Or at least a hospitalization. It was just that bad. I talked about it here and there on my blog, but not wanting to turn my blog into a list of complaints about the life I’d WANTED made me restrain myself mightily.

I’m afraid and yet I know that I’ll get through it all unscathed. We all will. It’s just what we do.

So, Internet, what’s on your mind today? Complain away. Let your fears out here. Write another blog post in my comments. Relieve yourself before you have to go and eat Aunt Shirley’s gross fruitcake and laugh at the jokes of relatives that just aren’t funny. Or have to listen to how Grandpa Bill hasn’t taken a proper dump in two days!

Let it out, man. Let it out.

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