Archive for August, 2008

Mother

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2008 by Ms. Ex

I had a friend who once told me his mother used to stand in the middle of their dead-end street, yelling at cars driving by too fast near her home, her nest of four children.  I pictured her in an apron, shaking a wooden spoon at the cars, perpetually young.  Because she never grew older than that – she died when my friend was too young to do without a mother.

In my darkest moments, when no one can see inside me in the murky mess,  I imagine her feelings, her ache to know she was leaving behind those four little ones.  I consider my friend, and the strange hole he has in his life that might be worse than a bad mother after all.   And I think, even I – in my weakness, my sefishness, my doubts about my abilities – even I must be better than no mother at all.

Not a Poem

Posted in Autism, Poetry with tags , , , , , on August 25, 2008 by Ms. Ex

I don’t feel poetic tonight

I feel sweaty, sticky, raw from a loud and violent day

with my four-year-old.

Atop the china cabinet is our armory:

Golf clubs, a toy fishing pole, a plastic shovel, a piece of wood splintered from a door jamb.

A plastic sword, a paddle covered with suction cups for catching the rubber ball, a bag of lifesaver

jellybeans (don’t ask me why).

It’s not that he wants to hurt me

It is the same thing in me that is in him that I got from my father like my brother:

This fury, escaping through the force of a fist.

This wall of turmoil inside, piling up behind the lump in my throat that closes it off from

the words that might rescue me, from the healing I might do, from the forgiveness I might need.

These things we choke on –

they are our doom.

And our salvation.

How to Leave a Party in Three Easy Steps: A Guide for the Socially Retarded

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 20, 2008 by Ms. Ex

Years ago, I was invited to a party.  I’m not saying it was the last time, but it might have been.  I don’t remember.  The host was a wonderful friend of my beau at the time and I enjoyed this friend’s company, so I believed I could only enjoy his friends’ company as well.  This beau, I’ll call him P., believed, as I did, that the best social activity involved three, maybe four people at most, and could quickly be ended at a moment’s notice when necessary, by which I mean when we started to panic and became unable to respond politely to conversation.  Did I mention social retardation?  I believe the proper term is anthropophobia.  Well.

The party, unfortunately, was three hours away from home, so we came prepared to stay at this party all night. Yes, all night.  No escape route, no pre-agreed upon means of begging out when, not if, we began freaking out.  The first few folks we met seemed nice enough.  P. and I parted ways, making our way around as guests arrived, being introduced and making brief eye contact before reverting to the floor-stare.  We met occasionally as we circled the second floor apartment, giving a quick, “You okay?” and a restrained nod to each other in passing.  Gradually this gave way to lingering moments wherein one of us would say, “Are you sure?  You don’t look well.”  We took turns sublimating our own mounting panic to console the other.

Frankly, I think we did quite well.  It must have been a full hour into this shindig when our glances over the sea of heads began to acquire a wide-eyed look, the look one might see on the face of the horror movie star when he realizes the meth-fueled axe murderer is in the house.  At this point, we understood that it was time.  Time to find the way out.  But how?  How could we insult this dear friend and escape unnoticed from a second floor apartment in a hugely tall house.  We had backpacks!  A bottle of vodka to contend with!  (A note to those of you who believe that alcohol subdues neurosis – you are mistaken.  There are not enough greyhounds in the world to obliterate the fear that dwells within a true social misfit.  Alcohol can only make escape significantly more challenging, and potentially illegal.)

P. leaned his head towards the bedroom where our cumbersome packs were lying, unaware of their fates, and I followed with relief that he must be feeling like me.  Who were these people?  If I had to listen to one more pseudo-artist whine about the NEA I might start screaming.  Really.  The pretension sunk to the floor, heavy with its own hot breath, steadily building up until we suffocated.  We needed out.  NOW.

Quickly, we ran through the possibilities.  We could just say goodbye to our host and go.  That would be the reasonable thing.  But we were supposed to be staying there, could hardly be that rude to a friend surrendering his bedroom, opening his home to us even while having to perform the tricks of party emcee. And besides, reasonable was not one of our strengths.  We could sneak out, hoping he wouldn’t notice until much later when we would have some time to invent a plausible excuse without exposing our true natures.  But how would we sneak?  The halls and rooms were all filled with the elite of Charlotte, the haute-art and then us.  A couple of hillbilly hippies, laden with back packs.  Back packs of all things!  We might have passed ourselves off as Appalachian Trail hikers gone astray, P. in his overalls, I in my boots.

At the same moment, we noticed the window.  We guessed it looked out over an alley beside the house, and slowly walked over to it to see for sure.  P. raised the heavy window and peered out through the screen-less opening.

“It looks like maybe 30, 40 feet.  I think it’s too far for us to jump.  But there is ivy and stuff growing up the side here…maybe we could climb down?”

I leaned out beside him, “Are you crazy?  We’ll never make it.  But our stuff might.”

We removed the bottle of Bowman’s from his bag, and with only the briefest hesitation, dropped our bags into the darkness.  With a satisfying whap they hit the ground.  At least our stuff was safe, even if we were not.

At this point, there was no turning back.  We emerged into the frippery once again, this time as a united front of anxiety and borderline panic, seeking out our host.  We slunk up to him, telling expressions on our bloodless faces.  His eyes slowly rose from his conversation to take us in:  the crazy leading the inept, and with his face falling he nodded.  “You are leaving.  Thanks for trying.”

We ummed, cleared our throats, and bowed awkwardly to those within earshot, making our way to the stairs.  Once safely in the truck, we sped towards downtown Charlotte, to a nice, orderly hotel room, towels untouched by any people with faces we might have to deal with, neat white tile, and not an artist in sight.

Dear God Someone Please Stop Her

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 20, 2008 by Ms. Ex

So now I’ve made this decision to write. Every day. For a little while, anyway. It started out as half an hour, but I think I would be willing to settle for something less, say, four and a half minutes. And I plan to keep hitting the keys regardless of what is appearing on the screen, without regard even for the hordes I’m sure are reading this and their delicate sensibilities.

I come in from a canceled meeting while my daughter still has control of her two small brothers, and I beg for a little time to work on some things. I ignore that twisty thing she does with her mouth when she is displeased and make my way upstairs to where one computer is. The first stop is the bathroom to wash my hands because they are sticky feeling, and everyone knows you can’t concentrate with sticky hands.  While peeing, I notice that my clothes are really sweaty, and I need them clean for Friday, so I strip naked and carry the clothes to the laundry room. I proceed to my room to find a shirt that I will not need to have clean, because my body is still quite sweaty, and I put on one that I can’t wear in public anyway since it says something vaguely sexual and heaven knows we can’t have a late-thirty-something-year-old woman walking around being sexual. I wrestle some underwear over my sweaty legs and hips and then cannot find the only comfortable shorts I own. I look and look then realize I’m wasting precious babysitting time so I say to hell with it and sit down in front of the computer in my underwear and shirt (but not before washing my hands once more because by this time they are feeling sticky again).

The first thing I tackle is my email. Yes, I know. But who doesn’t do this, really? Then I try to log in here and realize I never changed my password from the funky combination of letters and numbers WordPress sent to me when I couldn’t remember my password last night. I click back to the other tab and sign into the correct email to find the gibberish password, then log in and promptly change it to something I can actually remember. I notice, while on my profile page, that I have no biographical info so I spend thirty seconds or so being clever and concise (hence my teeny, tiny bio), and right after I hit save I also see I have no avatar. This will not do. I have to extend the irony of my writing to a photograph of something preferably not human, not even animal, but arty. Say, a piece of graffiti. With the browser open I am looking for said photo when the teenage daughter comes up and announces that baby has pooped. I know better than to question her regarding why she doesn’t FIX IT by CHANGING the baby, so I get up to do it myself. The medium child then insists he is not ready for bed, he wants more Sponge Bob. Don’t we all? I am getting irritated because the hour I had is now down to thirty minutes and I haven’t written one word (except the bio, don’t forget that) and I start snapping at the children. Baby is crawling around the floor now, only half clean while I deal with the dirty diaper, and medium one decides to hit him with a vacuum cleaner which prompts intense crying. In me, I mean.

I now find myself on the floor assembling the diaper onto baby when I am asked by the teen girl, “Why aren’t you wearing any pants?” My answer, though unintelligible to her, was pithy and wonderful and I cannot recreate it here. It was something to the effect of “I was running out of time and I know you are tired and I couldn’t find them and I just wanted to get some work done and now I’m almost out of time.” In her sweet, perceptive way, she replied, “You were just looking at pictures.” This was during the avatar upload debacle. I told her no, I was working on my blog, and she said, “Yeah? What is that? I thought you were working.

I was actually glad she asked about the pants, since it revealed that she finds it unusual for me to be pantsless, although in truth it is quite common for me to not quite make it to the pants putting on stage of getting dressed since I am constantly interrupted by small humans. Tooth brushing and shoe wearing also frequently suffer.

Now I sit, finally wearing my fig leaf shorts to cover the noticed nakedness, and I write. I write because I said I would. Because I am full of words. Because I must. I am the voice in the wilderness of motherhood crying out. And if I fall in the forest and no one reads the blog, did it happen? Indeed. It did.