A Brief Bunny Eulogy

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Extreme Fergie close-up!

Extreme Fergie close-up!

This is a good-bye to my lovely furry friend Fergie, who came into our lives almost exactly seven years ago and who left us this past Saturday night. She has made several brief appearances on this blog and was well-known to those who loved her for her excellent disapproving rabbit face, her penchant for bumping you with her nose when she wanted whatever you were eating (this happened a lot), and her joyous hops in which she liked to change direction in mid-air. Also, she used to lick Scotch off my husband’s nose whenever he drank it, and she once ate the eyes out of a jack-o-lantern we left on our kitchen table because we forgot to push all the chairs in to block her ascent.

Fergie steals an apple.

Fergie would steal an apple right out of your hand.

She was an awesome rabbit who behaved like some sort of cat-dog, giving us the best of both worlds and the annoyances of neither because rabbits are quite clean little animals who don’t make any noise. When I was pregnant, I would fall asleep on the couch almost nightly and awake to her sitting by my head, just in case I needed her. Every night when my boys went to bed, she would hop into their bedroom and give it the once-over, just in case they needed her. Then, typically, she would settle down somewhere on the living room rug to hang out while we read or watched TV. Also, she liked to stand under my feet while I cooked, hoping I would drop something down to her, which I did whenever I had something that was safe for her to eat. I think she ate her body weight in Cheerios, too, by the time my older son was two. Continue reading

If you are really an ally…

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I recently saw this blog post and I wanted to share it with you all.  This is exactly how my wife and I feel ALL of the time.  People, mostly good people with good intentions, feel that they have the right to ask personal questions about our daughter’s conception. Most of the time we are nice about it and don’t say what we want to say or what we actually are feeling. Such as:

It’s none of your F*&&*** business, or maybe, what position did you and your husband have sex in when you got pregnant with your kid?

I don’t think that most straight people would appreciate us asking them that kind of question. So, what makes a person think it’s OK to ask us intrusive and inappropriate questions?

We go through this more often than most would think and are dreading the day that someone says something like this in front of our daughter when she is old enough to understand. I honestly can’t tell you how I will deal with that.  It isn’t my nature to be rude to someone or throw a punch, but inside that is exactly the way I feel.

Inside I scream, but outside I smile politely and bite my tongue.

I don’t want to come across in a negative way because at times, we represent all LGBTQ families. For some, we might be the only family like us that they know. This is a difficult burden to bear because it is hard to balance my feelings regarding standing up for my family and making sure that people are being respectful, and being an advocate for the LGBTQ community. In each moment we have to think about if we will take this moment to educate or if we will take this moment to put someone in their place.

I guess my question is: If you are really an ally, why aren’t you acting like it?

 

Not Part of the Plan

life-is-what-happens-to-you-while-you-re-busy-making-other-plans-1-777x350June was a big month for me. We moved into a new home, we blended families. Sitting firmly in mid July now, I can say that things are going really well. We’ve settled into a dance of driving everyone to where they need to be and picking up and dropping off and dinners and baths and bedtimes for a family of five.

Five, not six.

It’s taken me a bit of time to process this turn of events, hence my writing absence.

Moving weekend finally arrived. The plan was for Norm and I to drive the four hours to pick up Callie and bring her up to Chicagoland to join us in this new start. The next day, the movers would come to Norm’s house to pack him up as I packed up my moving truck, and we’d all meet at the new house. That was the plan, anyway.

Saturday morning, Norm and I hopped in my car and started the roadtrip. I was giddy. On the way, we talked about how excited we were. The things we’d do this summer. We laughed, remembering how I lied to my parents about going out to dinner with friends instead of actually going out with Norm those first few dates, and how far we’d come.

“My boobs hurt,” I complained.

“Maybe you’re pregnant,” said Norm.

Continue reading

Words in My Hair

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Girl with Wild Word Hair, by Lesley Dill

Last weekend, we visited the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. Set in the pleasant green hills of Lincoln, MA along Flints Pond, it’s just a short drive from home and a calm, lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon, even with two kids who tried to climb all of the sculptures in the Sculpture Park. Naturally, this is not allowed, despite the fact that many of them beg to be ascended. For instance, there was the tipped-over four-wheeler encircled by ruts carefully dug into the otherwise-perfect lawn – it was understandably hard for them to stay off that one.

We haven’t been to an art museum in quite a while, and now I remember why: my kids run through everything. They stayed well away from the art indoors, and we were able to steer them away from the art outside, but they went at such a pace that I didn’t really get to look closely at anything. The only sculpture I actually stopped and stared at for several seconds was the above, a part of the Lesley Dill exhibit that’s at the deCordova until October 13th. Everything about the woman with letters floating around her head really appealed to me. I love the idea of someone who works with language having the alphabet literally trapped, tangled, in her hair. It seems indicative of the creative process, the way you try to get your sentences and paragraphs right and, so often, fail many times to catch the right words until you’ve plugged away at it for hours, for days, for weeks. There you are, with everything ready to say and stacked up in your brain, and you can’t sort out how to say it. I’ve never seen that visualized so bluntly before. Continue reading

Iggy Azalea is NOT the Realist OR, Blackthroat is the new Blackface

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First things first, I’m the realist.” -Iggy Azalea

I’d like to make the argument that no, Iggy, you are not the realist. Not even close.

Like a lot of people, the first time I heard of Iggy Azalea was on the radio. Fancy came on and I thought, who is this? I pictured what I thought she might look like, and I pictured an African American female. I heard her again on Ariana Grande’s song Problem and thought ok, this is the New Girl, I gotta Google. I did not expect her to look like she does, meaning quite bluntly, a white woman. Continue reading

Going to the Trampoline

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Last week, my son’s friends asked if he was allowed to “go to the trampoline” with them. At first we suspected that this might be a euphemism for something because, although these kids had been talking for days about going to the trampoline, we had neither seen nor heard of it until quite recently, and you’d think that a giant trampoline would be big, constant news in a neighborhood filled with kids who sometimes wander around like a band of feral cats.

So we said no; to be more specific, my husband said no first, and then in the time-honored tradition of sneaky children everywhere, the kids found me and asked. Shockingly enough, I also said no. Our rationale was that, because we didn’t know precisely where said trampoline was and we didn’t know the person who owns it, our five-year-old was not going to go visit it unless one of us could accompany him. My son’s friends were unimpressed with our reasoning and proceeded to extoll its virtues:

“But it’s awesome. And we’ll be there.”

“It’s just up the street,” [waving hands vaguely off to the left] “and there’s a lady who owns it.”

“There’s like five adults up there, and a bunch of dogs and some cats, and the lady, and her trampoline.”

As I tend to do when anything weird (i.e., practically anything) happens on my street, I texted several of my neighbors about this, trying to pool our knowledge to figure out what the deal really was. Continue reading

The Bane of My Existence

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After much thought, I have determined the thing I hate most about adulthood: the paperwork. It is neverending and inescapable. It is like death and taxes: a certainty. It is like this scene in “The 12 Tasks of Asterix,” in which the intrepid Asterix and Obelix almost go insane trying to obtain permit A38 from a government office. (Spoiler: in a sweet twist of justice, it is the government officials who go insane instead.)

Since my entire office was almost buried recently under all the mail, I have resolved to be better about paperwork. It’s a sort of 12-step program I’ve invented for myself that only involves 6 steps, really, which are (1) admit the mail is a problem, (2) open all mail immediately, (3) shred as much as possible, (4) give as much as possible to my husband, (5) file the few things worth filing, and (6) stack everything else in my nifty silver mail holder to be dealt with at some future date that will definitely arrive before I get buried again. Depending on the contents of the mail, sometimes there is an additional step, which is to have a beer, obviously a departure from your typical 12-step program.

You’d think that there would be less actual paper involved in paperwork these days, what with the fact that most bills are payable online, many stores now send their coupons and reminders of sales this way, etc, but honestly all that has done is encourage me to create a separate email address that is devoted entirely to communications I don’t want to read because they are mind numbing and frequent. If they go to this particular email address, it’s great because I often forget it exists for weeks at a time. Then eventually I go and glance through everything for a couple of minutes and move on with my day, back to whatever is the most pressing matter at hand, like staring into space while trying to write an essay or listening to Sia’s “Chandelier” on repeat while proofreading or trying to stop the head-butt war my sons are having in the next room.

Recently, I read an interesting article about procrastination that suggests that it can become a serious problem for people who are depressed, angry, or otherwise bored with large aspects of their lives. I am not typically any of those things, unless paperwork is involved, and then I am always simultaneously angry and bored. (Depression doesn’t set in unless the piles of mail start to tower over my head.) Do you know how exhausting it is to be angry and bored at the same time? It is oddly tiring, maybe because your brain doesn’t know whether to tell you to punch something or fall asleep. It’s the fight or flight response’s much less useful cousin, fight or pass out. Continue reading

Modern Family

The-Brady-BunchI come from a long line of worriers. I’m a worrier by nature. I’ve accepted this now and try to manage it rather then to fight it. I’m going to imagine the worst case scenario, then make it a little worse. Then I’m going to think of four of five ways I can respond to the four or five different possible outcomes. That way, I’m prepared. And that way, I’m a little safer.

But it’s a false safety, as nothing has actually happened yet. Here I sit, in the same chair as before, unchanged. Nothing has changed in my life. The only thing that has changed is my state of mind from being a-ok to getting all worked up.

The rational person would then say, “Well, the only harm done is the harm you’ve caused yourself by worrying about things that may or may not happen! So save yourself the pain and stop worrying, dummy!” I am a rational person. And for the most part, I have been able to take this self-advice and manage my anxiety. But it is still almost always there.

In a few weeks, Norm and I are moving in together. Kiddo and I will pack up our stuff at my parents’ and join Norm and his two kiddos, who we’ll call PB and Jelly, in a big new house not far away. In addition to our blended family of five, Kiddo’s 18-year old sister from her father will be joining us as well. We’ll call her Callie.

Continue reading

A Must-Read: Men We Reaped

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I am obsessed with survival stories. In some ways, I always have been, but my obsession has morphed as I’ve gotten older and people I’ve known and loved have died. I used to wonder about the How, the gritty details of what made continuing to breathe possible in an extenuating and difficult circumstance; now, I just want to know Why. Why do some people live while others don’t? Why do some people get a second chance? Why is it often so unfair, who’s “chosen” by happenstance or by God to keep on living and who is not? Why why why?

It is with this question that I approached Jesmyn Ward’s amazing and painful memoir, Men We Reaped. It is in some ways a survival story and in other ways a war story. Although it is not an easy book to read, it is a necessary one. She tells us multiple stories, but ostensibly this book is about the deaths of five young Black men, her friends and cousin and brother, in four years. They die due to murder, suicide, car accidents, and an overdose, and she interweaves their tales with her own and with those of her family and the cities – DeLisle and Gulfport, Mississippi, and New Orleans – where they all grew up. She talks of poverty and racism and family problems, of leaving home and then returning because you just can’t stay away. It is a masterful book of person and of place as well as a way to honor the men who died: Roger, Demond, C J, Ronald, and Josh. Continue reading

I Am Missing the Bride Gene

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bride_of_frankenstein_3

Ever since I got engaged in March, people have been asking me about our wedding plans.

My first reflexive thought is, Huh? We have to have a wedding? I thought we were done? Get engaged, the end.

Whatever it is that many women have that thrills them to plan a wedding, I do not have. My teen step-daughter said, “Jill, you lack the Bride Gene.”

It’s true. I never was the type of little girl to dream about her wedding day. As an adult, I have zero desire to plan, organize and pay for a wedding. Which is odd, because I love weddings. I love going to weddings, love all the decor, the shmoopiness, the gathering of friends and family, the eating and drinking and dancing. So why can’t I get down with having a wedding of my own?

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