Date Archives May 2012

My haunted house

You know me well enough by now. You probably saw the title of this post and assumed that I’m about to get all philosophical about my divorce or the ghosts of my past …

But no. Not this time.

Today I’m actually going to tell you about the ghost in my house.

Yes. Really.

Full disclosure: I’m a bit of a paranormal geek. I’ve paid to go on overnight ghost hunts in supposedly haunted places. And yes, I have an active imagination. If it were just me having experiences here, even I would wonder if it was all in my noggin.

But it’s not just me.

Mystery in the can

 

It all started within days of us moving in. It was the middle of a bright, sunny afternoon and I was still trying to unpack and get us settled in. I was dealing with emotional fallout from The D-Word and I was frazzled. We were all beat.

Megan was in the bathroom right off the upstairs hallway. When she was done, she came to me with very wide eyes. She looked scared. She said, “Mommy, while I was in the bathroom the door opened all by itself.”

OK, then. Megan wasn’t prone to making things up, so I assumed it happened. But we were new to the house and didn’t know its quirks yet. So the question was why?

“Do you think the door wasn’t closed all the way and then it just came open?” I asked.

“I think it was closed,” she said.

“Did it just sort of drift open? That happens to some doors sometimes. We don’t know this house very well yet so we don’t know what’s normal and what’s not.”

She then told me that it opened pretty quickly. “It scared me to death,” she said.

“OK, then. I’ll look into it,” I said. “Let me know if it happens again.”

The last thing I needed was for Megan to get the idea that there was something to be scared of in our new house. Figuring that she was going to take her cues from me, I knew that I had to downplay this.

I waited until she went downstairs and then I started messing with the bathroom door. It was definitely a solid-closing door. That is, there didn’t seem to be a way to “kind of” close it. Once you started closing it, the door thinger went firmly into the wall thinger. (Please, allow me to dazzle you with my extensive knowledge of hardware terminology.)

A day or two later, the next thing happened. It was Benjamin’s naptime and I told Megan that she and I were going to take a nap as well. I was just starting to doze when I heard the bathroom door close.

From my bed, I could see into the hallway to the bathroom door. It was closed. Must be Megan, I thought. A minute or two later I heard the door open.

Less than five minutes after that, Megan came in. “Mommy, can I get up now?” she asked. I told her to go ahead, figuring if I didn’t she’d just come back in and ask again in another five minutes.

She replied, “Good, because I have to go to the bathroom so bad.”

“Didn’t you just go?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “I had to go really bad but I was afraid to because I thought there were monsters in there.”

“Did you get up at all?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “I was too scared.”

OK, then. What to think, what to think …

Unexpected lamplight

 

A few nights later the kids were in bed asleep. I was in the living room watching TV by myself. Suddenly, the big antique lamp I’d just bought at a thrift store came on by itself.

Well, it is a really old lamp, I thought.

Then I tried to write off the fact that I’d only ever seen a lamp turn itself on one other time. That was during an encounter with a lady ghost in a hotel room at the Sheraton Read House in Chattanooga, TN.

Name calling isn’t nice

 

Within the next few weeks, we had another incident. This time it was less ambiguous.

Megan came into my room one morning close to the time she usually gets up. “Um, mommy? Someone just whispered my name in my ear and woke me up.”

“OK,” I said, while doing a great act of remaining calm on the outside but freaking the fark out inside. “Are you sure you didn’t dream it?”

“I’m sure,” she said. “It woke me up.”

I was trying to figure out how to reply when she lost the puzzled expression that had been on her face and switched gears entirely. “Maybe it was my guardian angel,” she reasoned.

“Maybe,” I said. “Great idea. Maybe it was your guardian angel. Do me a favor, though, would you? Let me know if it happens again.”

Ghost bustin’ momma

 

So. Something unseen was talking to my kid.

Momma wuddn’t so happy about that.

Was I scared? Not as much as I thought I’d be. I’d say I was more concerned.

Yes, I have gone looking for ghosts on many occasions. I have sought them out. However, because I’m a paranormal geek, I’ve read a lot on the matter … enough to know that while there are some friendly ghosts out there, there are some things that you just don’t want to mess with. And these things, while rare, can do a great job of pretending that they’re nice, little friendly ghosts and then turn around and fuck your shit up.

That bothered me. But I also tried to cool the momma panic level and remember that if this was paranormal, it was most likely just a garden-variety ghost.

And I live in a townhouse, fer cryin’ out loud. Who ever even heard of a haunted townhouse?

Also, I knew I had to stay cool for another reason. This is going to sound weird, but there was no man in the house to “protect” us. As if the mere presence of a dude was going to matter a ghost … I know. But I was very aware that I was the Sole Grownup in the House.

The buck stopped here.

I had to do something.

So I did what I’ve read in a bunch of books — which is also the same thing that they tell you to do on the ghost shows.

I claimed my space.  And Hippie Trish also kicked in with a few other ideas.

So first, I prayed in my hippie way. I sat quietly and asked to be surrounded in God’s white light. Then I asked that the house be infused with that white light — that every space, including every dark, forgotten corner, be filled up with the white light to drive out anything that might be negative.

Hippies of the world: How ya like me now?

Then, next time the kids went to daddy’s house, I got all Momma Bear on whatever/whoever is here.

I walked around the house  and I laid down the law. “I don’t know who you are or what you want, but this is our house now,” I said to … the air. “I don’t care if you stay here, but you can’t contact us. And you especially can NOT talk to my children. You are NOT allowed to do that. So … leave … us … alone!”

I felt like a doof, for sure. But I also tried to be formidable. I wanted to show… the air … that I meant mother-effing business.

And it actually worked.

For a while.

To be continued …

I’ll finish up this little tale on Friday, peeps.  Come on back, woncha?

Read the next post here.

 

 

Marking a decade with chinese food and the Real Housewives

It’s 5:44 on Friday. I’ve canceled my plans. I’ve ordered Chinese food. I have some wine. I have some “Real Housewives” on the DVR. My goal: Be in bed with a book by 7:30. Asleep by 8:30.

This time, exactly 10 years ago, I was standing at the altar.

Yup.

I knew this day was coming. It would sort of float in and out of my mind and I would just let it.

I figured I’d just move through today like, “Yeah, that sucks but I’m OK …”

Turns out, I haven’t been quite so cool about it.

I just cried on the phone to one friend who called and then sobbed all over a second one as I told her I wouldn’t be joining her tonight.

I think it would be better if I weren’t so darn tired. My darling wee one, Benjamin, hacked up his little toddler lungs all night — in addition to moving through the last of a stomach bug — so I didn’t really sleep. (I took him to the doc today. He’s — shockingly — totally fine.)

Anyway, I’ve just decided to go with it. I’m going to give in to feeling like crap today. As I said to one friend: I would be a cold person if I didn’t feel bad today.

It’s funny. I’ve always been a feeler. Good, bad, confused, jubilant, despondent … whatever emotion it was, I was always all about jumping in there and examining it — holding it up and turning it every which way to see how it changed when the light hit it.

But I find lately, sometimes I’m just not in the mood. Sometimes I don’t want to hold it up. Sometimes I want to toss it in the garden and kick some dirt over it.

I have no illusions about that. Someone somewhere once said that all buried emotions are buried alive.

True enough.

But fuck it.

Tonight I don’t care.  I want to kick some dirt over this day. Perhaps something interesting will poke up out of the soil afterwards.

Saved by the doorbell … see you on the other side, peeps.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Dear Dads: Mother’s Day is tomorrow. Don’t screw it up.

Dear Fathers,

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. (I am just going to take it as a given that you knew that all on your own.) We need to talk, fellas.

First, let me start by thanking you for your various contributions to child-rearing. I don’t know you all, but my guess is that you’ve enhanced your children’s lives in various and important ways: from providing a loving home and financial stability, to teaching the proper way to unleash a rippin’ armpit fart. I salute your accomplishments, dads!

But hey guys … between you and me … some of you are screwing up this Mother’s Day thing ROYALLY. Like, super big time. You’re dancing on a land mine and YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT.

How big is that land mine? It’s this big: If and when your wife finally gets around to gettin’ busy with you at some later point down the road (and it may be a while), it won’t be for recreation or for procreation — it will be out of obligation. And we all know how much fun obligatory sex is, don’t we?

Don’t let this be you!

Your penis probably wants a playdate

 

I’m not wrong about that, am I? Wouldn’t it be really convenient if you could arrange that playdate right in your own house? No carpooling! How handy!

Then here is what NOT to do. This is the ABSOLUTE WORST-CASE SCENARIO OF FATHERLY BAD BEHAVIOR on Mother’s Day.

Seriously — this is even worse than just forgetting about it entirely.

DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, EVER, and I mean EVER EVER EVER EVER tell your wife that you didn’t get her a card because … she’s not YOUR mother

[If I could I would insert a giant, menacing thunder clap here. And then I would have God himself point a giant finger in your face and have him repeat that sentence in a voice so loud that your ears would bleed.]

Let’s be clear. If that’s your attitude, she probably is your mother a good bit of the time. As a friend once said to me, “They can’t have it both ways. They can’t act like we’re their mother all year and then turn around on Mother’s Day and go ‘You’re not my mother!'”

And if you believe this is an acceptable thing to say, I strongly suggest that you take the handy self test here to determine if you are a Giant Man-Baby. (Here let me grade that for you. Yep, thought so.)

You have been warned

 

Once you have said this horrifying statement, your wife will be so utterly disgusted that you had the nerve to say that to her face that she will loathe you for the rest of the day.

And from that point, imagine her mentally following you around with a clipboard and taking notes on all of your selfish, boorish behavior. Believe me, she’s noticing everything you do and later she’s going to call her mother and all her girlfriends and unload about what a load you are.

Are you shocked? Are you wondering what the big farking deal is?

Several things:

She may not be YOUR mother, but she’s the most important mother in your life.

Why?

BECAUSE SHE’S THE MOTHER OF YOUR CHILDREN.

Did this woman take your sperm and make something nice out of it?Did she, perhaps, expend tremendous emotional and physical effort to adopt a baby that now bears your last name? Did she suffer through fertility problems, endure weeks of painful treatments and gut-wrenching moral decisionmaking to get pregnant another way?

Did she give up her entire life as she knew  it before she had kids so that she can now be in service to raising those children?

I could make a list of her sacrifices and responsibilities here. But she shouldn’t have to earn a damn card by her service to the family.

Being a mother to your children is probably the most important, time-consuming thing this woman does with her life. She’s raising YOUR children, dudes!

For you to be too lazy to buy a card acknowledging this is downright insulting. It says to her:

  • That you don’t notice what she does all year
  • That you don’t realize how many hours she puts in
  • That you don’t know hard it can be
  • That you take her for granted
  • That you don’t think she’s worth an extra trip to the store and a couple of bucks
  • That you don’t love her very much
  • That you are lazy and unappreciative
  • That you’re not nearly as thoughtful and generous as her friends’ husbands (that one stings, doesn’t it?)
  • That you only care about yourself
  • That you totally suck, dude!
Buy her a damn card. I’ll even tell you what to write:
_____
Dear so-and-so,
Thank you for being a loving mother to our children all year. I know you work hard and I appreciate it. 
_____

And you could also …

 

… do something else to show her you appreciate her. YOU CANNOT IMAGINE THE POSITIVE IMPACT THIS WILL HAVE ON HER.

No, you don’t have to buy lavish gifts. You really don’t. What mothers mostly crave is time — time for themselves, time to do things they love … hell, even time to nap.

Try one (or all) of these things:

  • Help the kids make her breakfast in bed. It’s a tried-and-true Mother’s Day schtick, yes, but mothers love to see their little munchkins smiling at the bedroom door, precariously balancing toast and orange juice while wearing big, proud grins. And if your kids are teenagers, have them do it anyway.
  • (And if you’re going to do that …) Clean up the kitchen after breakfast. Like, totally clean it up. NOTE: A pan in the sink that “needs to soak” is a copout. Wash it.
  • Don’t let her do household chores for the day. ***You will TOTALLY BLOW HER MIND by doing the laundry — all of it, not just yours.***
  • Take the kids out for at least two hours and tell her that she’s only allowed to relax during that time.
  • If you’re prone to sitting on the couch and zoning out for several hours a day, give her a turn at it. Pour the kid drinks. Change the diapers. Find the toy. Untangle things, break up fights, disarm warheads.
Does all of this sound like a lot of work? Other than the breakfast in bed thing, this is the stuff that this woman does every day — SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO. Appreciate it!

Disclaimer

 

This wasn’t intended to rip on all dads. Some dads are pretty good at Mother’s Day and most other days, too. I salute those of you who are.

But if you traditionally haven’t been thoughtful on Mother’s Day, try to turn it around this year. Because if you don’t, your wife will remember — ALL YEAR — that you were a thoughtless toad on the one day that you were expected to step up. And then she’ll find lots of behaviors of yours to reinforce the ideas of thoughtlessness and toadfulness as the months go by.

 

Slippery slopes and all …

 

It’s probably not a stretch to say that if you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t see fit to pony up a card on Mother’s Day, your marriage probably isn’t nearly as fulfilling as it could be. I imagine there’s a lot of tension and resentment in your home.

Don’t you want to turn it around?

Take the first step.

If you don’t, think of it this way: Tension and resentment have momentum. If things stay the way they are, how happy are you going to be five years from now? 20 years from now? If you think your marriage is unhappy now, it’s only going to get worse.

 

The bottom line

 

It might be called Mother’s Day, but if you’re married it may be one of the most important days of the year to nurture your relationship.

Everyone likes to be appreciated. Don’t you? Don’t you want a pat on the back every now and then for all the hard things you do to create a nice family life?

Doesn’t your wife deserve it, too?

Make me proud, guys. Otherwise I’ll be forced to round you all up for a Giant Man-Baby Rehab program.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommies out

there! Thanks for all your hard work and all the

love that you show your children. The world is a

better place because of you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing skin: A completely disgusting metaphor on healing your life

I burnt the heck out of my knuckles the other week.

I was making gravy at the time. I was happy with how it was coming out for a change. I finally learned my mom’s secret for making it nice and smooth, rather than having to chase flour balls around the pan and squish them like foodie cockroaches before we sit down at the table …

Anyway, I was ladling the gravy out of the pan into the “gravy boat” (which, in my house, is designed to look just like a Pyrex measuring cup — sleek, huh?) when I glooped some of my hot, silky masterpiece (oooh — sounds so dirty, dudn’t it?) onto my knuckles.

Pain.

I had things in my hands. It took me a few seconds to put them down. Then I got my hand under the faucet and held it there for a few minutes. Wasn’t terrible. But then it hurt like crazy when I took my hand out of the water. I had an ice pack on it through dinner. At Megan’s piano lesson that night, I touched my charred skin to the cool metal of the chair I was sitting in. It was surprisingly soothing. By bedtime, it didn’t feel too bad.

The next day, I woke to some pretty impressive blisters on my knuckles, but the pain was gone.

The day after that, the decomposition set in. In case you didn’t know, blisters that cover moving parts of the body don’t tend to stay in tact too long. Two days of ooze. Then soft, pussy, mushy gushy skin underneath.

It was disgusting.

But also slightly fascinating — like when you’re a kid and you find something squishy and dead on the sidewalk and you call your friends over and you all squat down to see it better and poke it with sticks.

I couldn’t stop looking at those wounds. They were ever-changing. There was something new to see every time I inspected them.

Then one morning, my body announced that it was ready to heal.

The ooze had ceased. There was a layer of dry, cracked something over the wounds.

This was the first time I really got to assess what was still left skin-wise. My middle knuckle was so mangled that I was uncertain my body was going to be able to pull off restoring it to something resembling normal. It was shocking (and yes, so super interesting) to see how many layers of skin were gone. I wondered if I’d have a permanent gully there. Could I actually regenerate that much tissue?

I started slathering Neosporin on my knuckles every few hours. Almost before my eyes, the cracked skin began to close up. Where there was no skin — which ultimately was most of my middle knuckle — it began to regenerate. I saw little skin islands pop up and I would cheer them on. “Go! Get bigger! Fill in that spot over there!”

I had to resist the urge to NOT TOUCH my boo boos (why is that so hard?) and let my body do its job. Every time I pulled at some bit of skin that was dry and sticking up, I revealed new skin underneath — new skin that wasn’t quite ready to see the light of day yet, but still OK.

And then you know what? Of the two really nasty knuckles, one looks like it’s only a day or two away from completely normal.

The really, really gross one looks … pretty good. It’s filling in. Two weeks ago I thought my hand would never look the same. Now, in about a week it will probably be hard to tell what’s happened there.

Hey, Trish! How about a point to this tale of gross-out gunkiness?

Don’t mind if I do.

My thoughts on all of this is that our bodies want to heal.

I think our lives want to heal, too.

That is, if we don’t pick at the gunky parts too much and we slather love on the parts that hurt, they’ll get better.

It sounds simplistic, I know. But maybe it could be that simple. Maybe it really could be as easy as not hindering the natural good that wants to come out.

How do we hinder the good?

We pick at things.

We thwart our own progress.

We eat stuff we don’t want or need.

We procrastinate.

We push away people we love.

We hang out with people who don’t genuinely care about us.

We don’t go after after the things we really want.

We get engrossed in disgusting, gloopy things. We poke them with sticks. We disturb the order.

We get in the way of the healing.

Maybe if we can find out how to create those little islands of good and healing in our lives — by taking a class, rediscovering a hobby, indulging in things that make our hearts smile — those tiny little islands will grow. Over time, they may just cover over the ooze.

And if you occasionally need to pick — which we all do sometimes, don’t we? — just give yourself a break about it. Think about all the times you didn’t do it when you wanted to. Congratulate yourself on your progress.

You may walk away with some scars. But you can live with scars. Scars can even be good — they can remind you of how far you’ve come.

Just don’t keep poking your stick into an open wound. Do what you need to do to heal it — whether it’s bandages, therapy, meditation or something else altogether.

Smear your hurt places with love. Then wait. Healing just may come.

 

 

 

 

It’s National Moody and Difficult Day

Today I have decided to be moody and difficult.

It’s a good day for it. I have a nasty eye infection. It’s gross. My eyes were spewing out all kinds of spoogey gunk all weekend. They burn. For the last three days, I haven’t been able to open my left eye when I wake up in the morning because it’s been spooged shut.

I hate to admit that it was a great excuse to stay the hell home today.

People have called. I haven’t answered. I’m too busy being moody and difficult.

I get like this sometimes. I need to crawl into my little shell for a day and just … withdraw.

Why don’t you join me?

Be moody and difficult with me.

In fact, I declare today, May 7, National Moody and Difficult Day.

 

Do it up, people. Let ‘er rip.

Walk around with a big scowl.

Feel put out, put upon and put down.

Decide everyone is against you.

Decide you’re a big, fat losery loser.

Eat the whole kitchen.

Wear something horrible.

Watch bad TV.

Decide every person you come into contact with is stupid. And also dumb. And also poopy and yucky.

Hole up in the little bunker inside your own head and hate the world.

If you’re at work, refuse to participate in the office chitchat for the day and just sit in your cubicle looking at the upholstered walls and sighing.

Stare at the new neighbors with disdain because they were too farking loud last night during the Flyers game and they had too many people over who were too young and too good looking and too perfectly perfect in their optimism for life in general. Hate them just a little bit for being so full of possibilities.

Unleash your inner toad.

Sneer.

Whew, that feels good sometimes, doesn’t it?

By why I am now smiling a little bit?

I suppose being properly grumpy is, in itself, an art. And making any kind of art always feels so good.

Shit. I’m going to sign off now before I go and turn this into something happy and hopeful and ruin all of our perfectly crappy moods.

Enjoy your day.

Or don’t.