Wednesday, November 28, 2012

You Should See The Other Guy

I'd like to start this out by saying I'm not in an abusive relationship. Not even with myself. I have never been hit by anyone, except for my brother when he was in 4th grade, and some little punk who punched me in the nose when in was 13. (Defending said little brother, in fact.)

Social workers, doctors, teachers, and other mandatory reporters, are you listening?


I showed that staircase who was BOSS. 
This was Monday, probably the apex of my ugliness, at least in regards to my black eye. It's looking a little better now, but I'm still not leaving the house.

We left for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, traveling 3 hours to my mom's house for our early Thanksgiving there. Spent the night, woke up the next morning and went to my dad's. He was cooking up a storm and when the turkey finished earlier than he expected, he wrapped it in tin foil, wrapped that in a blanket, and stuck the whole thing in the world's oldest red cooler.

(I'm not being uncharacteristically descriptive. This is important to the story.)

Before dinner, the rest of my family showed up. My step-mom took out butcher paper and markers and let the kids color on the kitchen table. The little kids grew tired of it, and the big 19 year-old nephew Fred and his 18 year-old brother Rocky...sat down to color. These are really good boys, for real. They're funny and respectful and have good heads on their shoulders. (I feel this is also important to the story.)

They were having fun, so when my dad, asked for one of them to take the cooler back to the basement, I volunteered. I believe they were in the middle of a turkey drawing contest, and I wanted them to finish.

And that's when it happened.

I caught a step wrong on the landing of the basement stairs, and cooler and I decided to test gravity. It flew down the stairs and hit the wall, busting the top off.

As for me, I went face-first into a maneuver I've only seen in Top Gun flight scenes. I tried to stop myself by catching the upstairs cut-outs with my hand, but it didn't work. And, to make matters worse, my eyes were open the whole time, so I keep having flashbacks of a spinning wood-paneled staircase.

I landed at the bottom, glasses broken, holding my face. I wasn't sure if I was bleeding. No one heard me fall, despite the fact that Hoover and his same-aged cousin CW were down there playing video games. I had to call them over and send Hoover to get Disgruntled Husband.

(And while I was waiting, CW was trying to show me all the cool things on the 3DS he got for his birthday. I do feel kind of bad I wasn't more interested.)

The first one to the scene was Rocky, saying, "I knew I should have taken the cooler down!" Then, DH came down the stairs and helped me up.

When I got upstairs, people were shocked. No one heard me fall. My step-mom grabbed an ice pack for me and gave me some Advil. My dad asked me how many fingers he was holding up. Several times. My poor nephews felt horrible.

My eye started bruising immediately, and then swelling. My dad kept offering to take me to the ER. And then he chewed out my nephews. (Which *I* feel bad about. It wasn't their faults; it was an accident. But I saw that no matter if I was 3 or 33, no one messes with his daughter. If it wasn't so unnecessary, it would have been sweet.)

I went shopping the next day, scaring people at Deer Park shopping center. The next day, I scared people at Woodfield. I kept forgetting about my eye, until I caught a reflection or a pitied glance from a stranger.

(One especially pushy saleswoman at Soma kept looking at my eye, then my necklace, then back to my eye. Yes, lady, my husband bought me the necklace, right after he apologized and promised it would never happen again.)

(I have a friend who was in an abusive relationship and she's okay with that joke. And yes, she got out because she is way more intelligent than her ex-husband thought she was.)

Now that we're home, I refuse to leave the house. I live in a small town, and if I went out like this, no one would ask me questions, but instead start the rumors.

I took the picture above on Monday and sent it to my friend Mark, because you know, it's so pretty. (Or because I'm a klutz and he knows that.) His wife, a nurse, saw it, and said I should see a doctor.

I called yesterday morning and explained what happened, thinking they'd say don't bother coming in. Nope. That's the opposite of what they said. So at 10:45, I had an appointment, complete with skull x-rays.

Nothing is broken, just really ugly and bruised. (And I'm totally kicking myself that I didn't ask if I could keep one of the x-rays. It was AWESOME.)

And before anyone could question my story, I told the nurse (who knows my whole family), "I really did fall. Besides, you know I could totally take [DH]!"

I hope this heals soon, because I have some Christmas-related engagements on the calendar.

Oh, and before I left, my dad was giving us stuff from the basement, pointed to the infamous cooler and asked with a wink, "Need a cooler?"

Now, if you need me, I'll be inside my house googling extra strength concealer.

This morning. It's way more yellow than it looks here. I feel like a bag of Skittles.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What I'm Thankful For

My family and I are heading to Illinois this afternoon to start the dance of the antacids, otherwise known as two Thanksgivings. My brother and I convinced my mom to hold hers tonight (because he is newly engaged and between him and his betrothed, they have FOUR Thanksgivings to attend), and then we're off to my dad's house, where there will be 25 people and five dogs, and only enough sleeping accommodations for 15. (It's going to be Survivor: Thanksgiving for a place to sleep.)

I shouldn't be writing a post right now. I have more laundry to do, packing, cleaning, general yelling at these three small people that insist on making a mess in whatever room I've just left, and even a little cooking. But I'm writing because I have a lot to be thankful for, and also, because I want to put off that list for as long as possible.

Thankfulness is a lot like Pumpkin Spice lattes: you know you like them, but generally forget about them until Starbucks brings them out...and just as quickly as it came, it leaves, and no one talks about it for another 11 months or so.

But the thing is, thankfulness shouldn't be trendy. It's Thanksgiving, and I get it. You give thanks for what you have; after all, there's a freaking designated holiday for it! But what about in February, are you still not thankful? What about in July? I think we are always thankful for what we have, but it takes the month of November to remind us. (And dear Lord, if we had those "I'm thankful" posts every day of the year, I'd probably quit Facebook.)

(Not that I don't agree with the idea, but I can only read so much about clothes and food and places to live before I start crying like I do when Sarah McLaughlin comes on TV with a dog.)

And before you start wagging fingers and whispering, of course I'm thankful for the biggies in my life: kids, Disgruntled Husband, food, clothes, etc. I could write a novel about how thankful I am for the biggies; a boring, non-funny novel no one would buy because its all about what I'm thankful for and have nothing of value for any readers.

So, I bring you...

The List of Small, Insignificant Things I'm Thankful For, You Know, Besides the Obvious Ones

My Keurig-- Without it, my life would be way less productive. And I'd probably end up starring in an episode of Snapped. I drink exactly one cup a day, and my kids know that if they bother me before this cup, the answer to any question will be "No. Leave me alone. Go wake up your father." And, I'm secondarily thankful for the ease of the Keurig: fill with water, turn on, throw a K-Cup in, and brew. How much lazier could it get? (Though I'm totally on board with my dad, who wants to figure out a way to run a water line to it, so he doesn't have to fill it all the time. Apple, meet your tree.)

Modern Medicine--Without it, I would have surely died in childbirth. And if I didn't die, Larry Potter would be an only child. I am still thankful every day for my epidurals, because no matter what you hear, YOU DON'T FORGET THE PAIN. I use childbirth to put things like dental work and flesh wounds in perspective. You know that pain chart at the hospital? Unless you've given birth, don't you dare even think about telling anyone you're pain is at a 10. I had a ten pound baby, the old fashion way. If that was a 10, everything else in life is no more than a 6.

It's also through modern medicine that makes my life as constant as it is. Two years ago when Hoover fell and had to get 24 stitches in his forehead (6 internal, 18 on top of that), it was modern medicine that saved the day. Modern medicine has corrected LP's crossed eyes, my awful bunion/emerging sixth toe, and the tendency for Hoover to destroy everything in his path.

Oh yeah, and wine. I'm also thankful for wine.

Friends That Are Like Family--Most of my friends actually fall into this category. I have a tendency to sink my claws into people and never let go, and it's even better when they come along willingly and don't struggle to get away. I know I've mentioned some of them in the past. People like ESM, JDub, Janie, and Jeanne make me happy and call me out on my shit. My family is pretty cool, but my friends are who I've chosen for myself. DH always complains that I have a ton of friends, and he doesn't have any (which I don't think is true). I'm thankful that I do have a list of people to call at any given time, who most of the time even answer.

My Sense of Humor--Jessica, you have Narcissism on Line One. I love my sense of humor, which is probably why I have it. If I only entertain myself with my thoughts and words, than that's all I have to worry about. There's a line from a song that goes something like "I want to find a girl who can show me what laughter means," and I'm pretty sure that's me. Without my sense of humor, I surely would not have survived my childhood, let alone my venture into marriage and motherhood. When Hoover dumped an entire gallon of milk into the kitty litter because he was "trying to make cereal," it was either cry or laugh. When 2009 hit, and we had about -$8.00 in our checking account, at least I could make myself feel better with funny things I found on the internet. My favorite sound in the world is hearing my dad (whom I surely got this sense of humor from) genuinely laugh at something I say. I'm sick and twisted, and had to teach my kids when it was okay and not okay to end a conversation with "Your Mom," but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Time--It heals all wounds, marches on, stops for no one, and a lot of other awful cliches. Sometimes, it goes to when I think back on LP's babyhood or yearn for just one day of college back. Other times, it drags on, like a three-hour road trip with my kids fighting with each other. But it always changes things, gives me chances to try new things, or wax nostalgic on things I thought I'd never appreciate. It provides a perspective I couldn't ever achieve otherwise. It's amazing to me that 13 years ago, I was a junior in college, not even knowing DH yet, and 13 from now, MM will be in college and I will be an empty nester. It blows my freaking mind.

My Family-- Yes, it's one of the biggies. I am thankful for my kids and my husband, but I'm also thankful for my parents, who never threw me through a wall when they probably should have. (Being LP's mom and pretty much watching myself as a kid through him now cements that very sentiment.) I am thankful for my little brother, who is about the funniest person I know (besides me) and is the only one that can truly appreciate how we were raised. I am thankful for my step-siblings, who also never threw me through a wall, and who gave me nieces and nephews that I absolutely adore. I am thankful for my cousins, especially Layman, James, and Staci, who prove to me that my genetic make-up really isn't my fault, and who I'd be friends with even if we weren't related.

My Blog Readers--(Cue the Full House "Awww.") You guys are such a shot in the arm for me, you have no idea. I love hearing from you, love that I am sometimes a part of your laundry procrastination, love that I'm not the only one with some really out there and questionable stories about my family. I want to buy each of you a cup of coffee and a donut, but since I can't, next time you have either, raise a cup or cruller up and toast yourself, from me.

Happy Thanksgiving from Mean Jessica. Now go pass the gravy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Diary of a Proud Mama

I am coming off a high right now that I've only had once or twice in my life.

(No, not the morphine pump after my c-sections.)

I am home after a busy morning, full of adrenaline and excitement. My heart rate is still elevated; I am skipping my workout today.

My boys got to meet one of their true childhood heroes today. Author of the Wimpy Kid series Jeff Kinney made a stop this morning in my town, at what has to be the smallest bookstore on his tour.

When I found out about it on Facebook, I was super excited. Unfortunately, it was not well-publicized, so I didn't know if it really was happening or not, but my source was one in the schools, so I was fairly confident it was accurate. I spread the word on my own Facebook page, and got my friend Christina excited about it, too.

(I also said I was a bad mom for taking my boys out of school to meet Jeff Kinney, to which my teacher friend Michele said something like, "You are NOT a bad mom. Any author that can get boys 8-12 to pick up a book is awesome and that would be educational." Thanks, Michele.)

I was excited at first because, well, this town has nothing going on like this. Pretty much ever. A well-known author, doing a book signing, three blocks from my house, on the day his new book comes out? Un-freaking-hear of.

But I know my excitement runs deeper than just that. I am a writer. I am a book geek. I am an author groupie. The 1998 opening of the Borders in Davenport, IA directly corresponds to the closing of my MasterCard account. I have more autographs of poets and writers than I do of minor celebrities and sports stars.

I had always hoped my kids would pick up my love of books. Back when Larry Potter started school and tested off the charts for reading, we couldn't get him to read for fun. And one day, he picked up a Wimpy Kid book. The rest is history. LP has a love of reading now that was planted by Mr. Kinney.

So, imagine my surprise earlier this year, when I found Hoover, three years younger than LP, reading a Wimpy Kid book in his bed in the middle of the afternoon. (Because it's Hoover, when I couldn't find him or hear him, I went looking. I didn't see any small fires or parts of the house taken apart, which made me more surprised when I found him reading.) This is the kid we thought would never read for school, let alone fun. This is the kid we were worried about and have taken to doctors and specialists and had extensive school testing on.

I have two boys that read. I have two boys that love to read. And try as I may to take credit for the environment in which they've been raised, I know it's not my doing.

We got to the bookstore at 8:30 this morning for the 9 a.m. book signing. We were the third group there, and when Christina and her kids arrived, there were maybe a dozen of us total. Mr. Kinney's bus pulled up and Hoover almost wet his pants. Mr. Kinney came out and talked with us for a minute, and I had to keep Hoover from shoving his book at him right then and there. He was bouncing like Tigger.

The bus. Someday, I would like a Snarky Mom bus. Someone get on that.

Once inside, we bought our books first, then stood in line to meet the author. LP and I were excited; Hoover was ecstatic. His enthusiasm was infectious. He just kept bouncing, saying, "I can't believe we're going to meet him! I can't believe we're going to meet him!"

When it was our turn, we had our copy of the new book signed, and then each boy brought one of their books from home. Hoover went first. After seeing Mr. Kinney draw Greg in the book for the boys to share, Hoover (bouncing and shouting) said, "Draw his whole body!" To which Mr. Kinney laughed and happily obliged. When he signed LP's book, he drew Manny, and Hoover then inched closer to him, shouting, "Draw Manny in mine, too!" I tried to quiet him and tell him there was a line, but Mr. Kinney and his crew smiled and told me it was okay. The smile on my son's face was priceless. I told Mr. Kinney that Hoover was going to be his new manager, because he was so good at ordering him around.

Hoover commissioning artwork from Jeff Kinney.

When we were done (after having five books signed...the boys' other books, plus the new one, plus one for their school and one for Michele), we walked back to the car with Hoover leading the parade.

"We met Jeff Kinney! We met Jeff Kinney!"

I'm not sure how he's going to get any work done today. Or ever again.

Thanks Jeff Kinney, for your books, for your coming to our little town, and for the smiles I saw today. I was proud to have been there to witness my boys meeting their hero. You have cemented two life-long readers, and had a huge hand in making at least two new book geeks for the next generation.

And made their book-loving mama extremely proud, too.

My boys and their hero.