Friday, July 30, 2010

It's Not About the Bike

It’s not about the bike.

Today I went for a bike ride alone for the first time since Froggy was born. I thought I would be tired. I thought I would be sore, that my body would have forgotten how to pump, how to move with a machine, to take corners and switch gears, to prepare for hills and headwind.

But I wasn’t. I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t sore.

The wind was pushing me back, and I considered turning around. I thought -- oh Froggy will be home soon, maybe I should get meds ready, maybe I should clean the bathroom or do my invoicing, maybe I’ll be sore tomorrow, maybe someone is trying to call and I left my phone at home, maybe I don’t want to be reached, maybe I left my cell and credit card, my backpack, my everything at home because I need this. Maybe I should trust the world to go on without me, at least for one bike ride.

Riding by the wetlands I watched the cranes and pelicans dip their long, resplendent beaks into the water, and heard the breathy song of wind in dry grass. I rode past the marina where the harbor meets sea. I watched a man pull a fish out of the water and children digging deep holes in the sand. I watched them jump in and jump out. I watched how there was nothing more important in the world to them than repeating this glorious ritual of digging, jumping and filling a hole with water. I watched how there was no purpose, no goal, just sand.

My bike is fourteen years old. I bought it in college, and now the seat is falling apart, held together with yellowed packing tape. The brakes squeak, and the gears shift, but only when they want to. I didn’t care. I didn’t care, as bicyclists whirled by in their tight gear and custom water bottles, I didn’t care that I was wearing my sweats that double as pajamas, my blue monkey socks and dusty helmet. My frumpy sneakers don’t click into the pedals and rust has painted crimson over the shiny silver handlebars. I watched the girls on beach cruisers sporting skimpy bikinis and giggled at the thought of what my out of shape mom butt would look like on a bike. I knew I wouldn’t be bragging later on Facebook that I rode 150 miles up hill. Because it was only a few miles and mostly flat. I was passed a lot, passed a few people myself (they were elderly and walking, but still) and there were a few times when the seat felt more like a torture device than a place to sit.

It wasn’t about the bike. It was about being alone. Being a part of the world not as a mom or wife, or someone’s something, not there to do or clean or mend. Just breathing and moving, watching the tide go out and come back in, pumping my legs into the wind and feeling for the first time in a long while, that nothing can hold me back.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gingerbread Froggyisms

Froggy and I made gingerbread yesterday, can't wait to make the cookies today!

Just a couple cute Froggyisms before I forget:

Froggy: I like the livingroom. It's where I do most of my living.

While getting dressed this morning...

Froggy: It's a good thing I put on long underwear, in case someone throws an imaginary snowball at me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blah blah blah

I'm tired of being the boring friend with problems. I'm tired of calling my family and having nothing pleasant to say. Or worse, faking happy. I can't hide that I'm angry, sad and overwhelmed. I don't want to be this person who is so dreadfully unpleasant, who complains constantly, who can't get a grip. I know everyone in my life right now takes a deep breath before they answer my call. Oh, it's Froggymama, brace yourselves for emotional projectile vomit! Thar she blows!

I used to be fun, now I feel like a big bitchy poop. That's right. A big bitchy poop. As a writer, I've dug deep into my descriptive vocabulary cavity and waaaa laaaa big bitchy poop. Brilliant, right? I'm angry at everyone, irritated at the slightest infraction, holding onto my sanity with dental floss. I'm so sick of myself. I don't know if I have a right to be angry or if I'm projecting, and after the anger blows, after the volcano erupts, there is this lava of sadness, this seeping, deep, hot depression. It is an ache like someone has died, but we're all here, just different, unrecognizable.

I can't place it. I can't wrap it neatly into a category and then 'work on' those feelings. It's chaos. I don't know who we were or who we are now. I don't know what our lives will be like, what is best. I'm just lost. I've never felt so completely out of my element. It's like being picked up by a wave and dropped on the beach, mangled and half-drowned. I'm not dead, not paralyzed, just stunned, waiting for someone to pick me up. Waiting for a rescue that never happens.

I watch shows like "Intervention" where families ask their loved-one to go into rehab and I think, "You lucky bastard, GO!" Twelve weeks of therapy and self reflection, time to think and just take care of yourself. I want mom intervention. I want to go to a mom resort where I write in a notebook about my day and progress and walk on the beach and just "reflect." When I get help with Froggy, I spend that time working or cleaning. And every self-help guru and therapist and everyone says, "You really need to take time for yourself." Really? Brilliant. Let me just go meditate, pray or exercise while the dog craps on the floor and Froggy burns the house down and my boss makes his own calls. When exactly should I make time for myself? Who will cover for mom? Who can do Froggy's treatments and meds?

I'm just tired, a big bitchy poop who is tired.

I want to be a positive person again. I don't like this girl. And on top of everything that is what is really killing me. I hate myself right now, because I cannot rise above this. I cannot stay patient and positive. I cannot be the mom I want to be for Froggy. I'm like Fragglerock, a crazy puppet mama who churns out laundry and PBJ's and tells the dog to shut-up when he barks at the skateboarders and I'm so angry at CF. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

Froggy has a cold and is coughing big time, her new g-tube equipment is driving me bonkers and I just hate this f*cking disease. I want a cure now. I want some rest and peace and I just want everything to be okay. I want comfort and a partner. I want someone to hold me and say, "it's going to be alright." But I'm alone. And I keep trying to get comfort from someone who is incapable of comfort. It's futile and sad and I wish I would just keep my mouth shut because what I'm looking for isn't there. It just isn't. And I feel stupid when at the other end of my words is just silence. Always. Silence.

Everyone says this is going to get better, that our lives, because we deserve it, or because statistically they just have to... but man, oh man, I don't believe it anymore.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mary Oliver

From The Book of Time, by Mary Oliver

I rose this morning early as usual, and went to my desk.
But it's Spring,

and the thrush is in the woods,
somewhere in the twirled branches, and he is singing.

And so, now, I am standing by the open door.
And now I am stepping down onto the grass.

I am touching a few leaves.
I am noticing the way the yellow butterflies
move together, in a twinkling cloud, over the field.

And I am thinking: maybe just looking and listening
is the real work.

Maybe the world, without us,

is the real poem.

From Mary Oliver's Poem "Work"

and what could be more comforting than to fold grief
like a blanket ---
to fold anger like a blanket,
with neat corners ---
to put them into a box of words?

This poem is sooooo Froggy!!!

From Mary Oliver's Poem "Flare"

Nothing is so delicate or so finely hinged as the wings
of the green moth
against the lantern
against its heat
against the beak of the crow
in the early morning.

Yet the moth has trim, and feistiness, and not a drop
of self pity.

Not in this world.

G-tube Stuff

I won't bore you with the details (I've already bored my entire network of friends and family), but Froggy had her g-tube peg pull Monday. They yanked the old tube out of her belly and put in a less permanent corflo. The nurse kept warning us that we should step out of the room, but there was NO WAY we were doing to let the Frog go through that alone. Geez, it was hard enough, but to hear her crying from the other side of the door would have been awful.

It's a transisitional tube that will eventually be replaced by the mic-key. This has been a tough week of equipment adjustment and some mishaps. Let's just say I've changed the sheets on the bed a few times. There's nothing like bile shooting from a tube in the middle of the night to wake you up! Better than caffeine. It's a Foldger's commercial, but with barf. Sorry, it's late. I get punchy after midnight. On that note, goodnight.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Sisyphus, in Greek mythology was punished by the gods with the maddening task of rolling a boulder up a hill, and just before reaching the top, the boulder would roll right down again. It was a lesson in hubris, a realization I suppose that we are not in control. No matter how strong, how determined, that boulder has a mind of it's own. We are merely human. So get over it.

I don't think I can push this boulder any longer.

This has been our reality. FD has been working a lot. He has to take what they give him because he's still considered 'part-time' and not an employee. Respiratory Therapy jobs in LA are scarce, so he takes what he gets. Sometimes he works 5 days in a row of 12.5 hour shifts. On those days, we don't see him. We are living apart. It's been a welcome separation for both of us, and soon he will find a permanent place of his own.

So for those stretches, I'm a single mom of a kiddo with CF, a dog who poops and pees everynight because of separation anxiety from FD, and two aging cats who mostly hide under the bed until the Frog is asleep and then, starved for human contact attack me on the sofa, at my first chance to sit down all day. I'm beyond exhausted. There needs to be a new word for exhaustion. My day doesn't end at 6:30pm. I don't get to call it a day and relax. There is no time clock for moms. Laundry piles up, the dishes are never done, bills to be paid, birthday parties to plan, not to mention my two part-time jobs. I am always letting someone down, I'm moody and irritated, jealous of FD's freedom and bicycle rides. And it spills out. It erupts. I can not seem to get a grip on the unfairness of it all, how parenting is 90 percent mom and 10 percent dad. And I hate that I'm a b*tch for saying it. But it's true. The bulk of life falls on the mom. And dad gets to swoop in and go for a hike, while I'm home cleaning up dog crap.

When I get a free moment, I'm ordering supplies, working, cleaning, trying to catch up, one step behind, always one step behind. My free time is not free time. It is the opposite of free time. It is occupied, taking care of business, trying to make everyone happy and failing miserably time.

I try to stay positive. I try to put this in perspective and enjoy the time I am blessed to have with Froggy. Most days she is a delightful, smart girl, other days, a pill. But I wake up in the morning, every morning with this smiling face (screaming "MOMMY GET UP") but still adorable, and I say, "I'm lucky." As the day goes on, and life piles up, I lose track, I get cloudy. I start to feel that dark boulder of resentment cast it's ugly shadow and it's goodbye gratitude.

Monday morning I was exhausted. The night before the Frog and I were stuck in three hours of traffic leaving a 4th of July day in Laguna. We arrived home at 1am. And as I was carrying up the deadweight of a tired toddler up a flight of stairs with a backpack on, and toys under my armpits, fumbling for keys in the dark, I thought, "I can't do this alone." There should always be someone to help you in at night after a long day. It shouldn't take two trips. There should be someone else carrying this weight, this physical, mental, emotional weight. It hit me hard. I cannot do this alone. And even if people come help in the day to take care of Froggy, I am still getting up three times a night to give enzymes for the feeding tube. I am still the one doing treatments. The weight of the world, the boulder, is on my shoulders.

After unpacking, doing meds, taking out the dog, blah blah blah, I hit the sheets around three. Froggy was up at 7am and our day began. No amount of coffee could wake me. I was tired and angry, because despite going out at 3am, Buddy left me a pile of sh*t on the kitchen floor. So this is how I begin my day. FD comes over after a bike ride and breakfast, not that I'm completely out of my mind jealous about how refreshed he is, but now it's 10ish. Froggy is not being helpful. I'm behind with treatments and meds. With FD there, I need to work and get some things accomplished. Froggy won't let FD do treatment and there is no sense of order or parental structure and I'm starting to lose it.

Froggy is having her b-day party this year at this indoor kid play center. She's been talking about this all year and you have to rent it way in advance. So I'm online looking up rates and trying to figure out what package we want and I ask Froggy who she wants to invite from preschool. She rattles off some names and then FD says, "Invite your whole class." There are only fifteen kids allowed or we have to pay $100 bucks more. He didn't know this, but it was the straw that not only broke the camel's back, it punctured and sent the camel off a cliff into mad hysterics. I angrily indicated that those who aren't doing the work, shouldn't offer the generous suggestions. It didn't go over well, and FD said, "Well aren't you a nice woman."

It wasn't particularly cruel and my reaction to an innocent mistake was intense, fueled by so much more than a comment. But it was the worst thing at the worst moment. Because I am trying my hardest, giving every piece of myself, and it's not enough. I'm still just a jerk who can't control her temper. I am apparently not a nice person.

I gather my things to go to work. Froggy feels the tension and doesn't want me to leave. I give her a bear hug and get in my car. At the light I sit bawling. I have to work and my mascara is down my face, I'm a red blotchy mess and this guy behind me is honking, waving his arms for me to go. I'm sitting at a red light with a sign that says, "no right turn on red," and this macho cheese head behind me is honking and yelling at me, miming 'turn' and 'go' like I'm an idiot. I'm sobbing and have an out of body experience where I picture getting out of my car, pulling the jerk out of his seat and punching him in the face. Wow, she really isn't a nice person.

Everything is a blur, I give the guy the finger (nice huh?), and look straight ahead. These sweet neighbors who I chit-chat with on our dog walks are also sitting at the light, watching me bawl and give this guy the bird. Wow, it's verified now, what a nice woman.

I am not better than this. I know life challenges some people and they rise to the challenge. They become better for it and handle their lives with grace. I've lost grace. Grace left me a year ago. And wine and bitterness has taken her place. I can't do this. I can't. I am a nice person, or atleast I used to be, but I'm not anymore. I don't know. Maybe this life has gotten to me. Maybe I am so overwhelmed and pissed off I can't even find nice.

There is that obnoxious expression that people show their true colors under stress. Well great. Here are my true colors. A big jerk who yells, sobs and gives people the finger. That's me. Boy would I love to be that mom who finds a way, who writes heartwarming pieces about how it's all worth it and life is inspirational. But I don't feel like a hallmark card. I feel like sh*t. I feel like Sisyphus and no matter how hard I push that boulder up the mountain it will always be there, this weight I cannot lift alone. Maybe that's what Sisyphus needed all along, a partner, someone to carry the boulder, the toddler up the stairs and up the mountain. Maybe it wasn't a lesson in hubris, maybe it was an invitation for others to step up. I don't know. But I'm tired. I'm very tired and feeling a bit hopeless.

Being a nice person was the last thing I was holding onto. Despite everything I still felt like a good person. I don't know anymore. I want to take a nap, a long nap, to wake and have the divorce final, Froggy adjusted, the boulder over the mountain. Just over the mountain. I don't know how much more I can handle.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Toy Story 3

I have wanted to take Froggy to the El Capitan theatre in Hollywood forever. It's this incredible, old theatre right in the heart of Hollywood. An organ player entertains pre-show, and afterwards the kids meet the 'cast' and play at this fun zone where there are bouncy houses, playgrounds, a maze, bungie jumps, a ferris wheel. It's basically kid heaven. As you can see, Froggy had a fabulous time and the movie was wonderful too.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Funny Froggyisms

Froggy while eating alphabet soup:

Froggy: Ewwww, the p's aren't good. No more p's for me. (after even more consideration) I am NOT a big fan of the p's.

Well it's decided then.

Our landlord recently built us a storage unit in our carport. While storing some boxes in there, I heard this strange little bug chatter. Froggy heard the noise too and asked what it was. I said it was probably termites. She started to become concerned and yelled, "Hurry Mommy get outta there. They might think you're made of wood!"

And because it just wouldn't be a Froggyism without some potty humor, here goes (no pun intended)... Froggy was sitting on the pot and I was in the livingroom folding laundry. It's a typical scene at our house.

So Froggy is on the pot reading National Geographic (don't ask) and I think she says something about a v*gina. So I say, "What about your v*gina?" And she says, "NO, not v*gina, the Great Wall of China!"

Friday, July 02, 2010

Breathe Easy Conner

When a kiddo with CF dies it is felt like a tidal wave in the community of all CF parents and families. It is personal, it is heartbreaking, it is a terrible reminder that this disease is winning. As I kissed Froggy to bed tonight, I cried for Conner. It's too close. I feel his mama's pain like a punch in the gut. If you would like to leave a message for his family, his mama's blog is Not So Bright and Shiny.