Family Game Night 2

7 boys have been sitting around the kitchen table since 1:00 this afternoon, playing games.

7 boys over the age of 15.

They are going to sleep so hard tonight – they have been laughing non-stop since they began.

They’ve played Monopoly. Uno. Cards Against Humanity.

I pretend they’re not playing that one.

They left, all together, for a snack and soda run.

They cleared the table for beans and chorizo.

They let me vacuum around their feet without a pause.

They snort. They yell. They praise the lord for a good hand.

It’s totally Guy’s Poker Night Downstairs.

How fun is that?

Family Game Night

I love family game night. Especially in the winter when it’s cold and dark and there is nothing else to do except go to bed at 6:30.

I love family movie night too, but I also know that sometimes it’s better to actually interact with the family than just watch some inappropriate movie and then shuffle off to our separate rooms as soon as the flick is finished.

So we have a fine collection of games that are kept in the old Dry Sink in the living room that held Monopoly, Clue and Backgammon when I was their ages.

Last night, after Community Thanksgiving and a movie in the theater, Greg said, “We should play a board game.”

Brilliant. They chose Parcheesi.

Shitfuckdamn.

That game stresses me out to no end – it is thoroughly anxiety-provoking and causes me to pit out.

They love it because it is a level playing field – no one has an advantage over any of the others dues to age, intelligence, or experience.

Exactly why I can’t stand it.

Bobby had never played before and he’s not a great loser so that definitely added to the nervous anticipation – I wanted this to be fun for everyone and I knew it would already be a struggle for me.  I just hoped that Bobby would have more fun than I would.

Why do I enjoy Family Game Night if I don’t actually like playing the games?

I just want to be with them.

And so it began.

And I got so far ahead right out of the starting gate that I was actually having fun.

Until…

They all ganged up on me.

I was totally kicking ass and apparently it was worth it to them to forgo a bit of autonomy to develop allies and just wipe me off the board.

It was awful. Just awful.

But guess what…

I still won.

I even managed to turn them against each other. I watched them scheme and plot evil from the comfort of Almost-Home.

I laughed out loud as they each scrambled for second place, confident in the fact that I rule the world.

Then Peter suggested another game and I said “no.”

“Why not?”

“I’m totally exhausted – I’m going to bed.”

Translation: I can’t handle the I Might Lose Anxiety twice in one night. I won and am calling it good on that note.

And as I crawled into bed – totally self-satisfied with my position on top I realized that I am a terrible loser. I am a terrible person to play games with at all. I gloat when I win and sulk when I lose.

I am no better than a 5-year-old.

I set a horrendous example for my children.

“It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game,” doesn’t apply to me in any way shape or form (even though it clearly should).

When I say “I’m not competitive,” (and that’s why I don’t run in races or anything along those lines), it’s not that I am not competitive, it’s that I am SO much so that I can’t handle it without coming unhinged.

I am slightly ashamed of myself, my behavior is embarrassing.

But it would be much, much worse if I had lost.

keep-calm-and-play-parcheesi

 

 

Man of My Dreams

I had a total swoon moment last night.

Something I was reading reminded me of high school english and Charles Dickens.

I said, “Now there’s a book I want to reread – A Tale of Two Cities.”

His response, “It was the best of times…”

Pitter. Patter.

Martyr

I was going to include a definition here, but seeing as I am not actually dying for my beliefs, I had to dig a little deeper to find a more appropriate one, which led me to the Urban Dictionary, and what I found there was so uncomfortably spot on that I’m too embarrassed to cut and paste.

Let’s just say that I am being the quintessential martyr right now and I am a bit ashamed.

And yet, I can’t stop.

I still want everyone to feel sorry for me because my life is so hard.

And the thing is, this post-surgery stuff is actually a pretty cool gig, but I still feel trapped and that’s really hard. It’s a mental thing.

Because if you really look at it, I get to hang out with my sweet child, I can lounge around in my pj’s if I want, I’ve had time to dye my hair and graffiti my nails, I nap every day, and I am working from home which means I get, like, three times as much done in half the time than I would if I was in the office answering calls from “Catherine at Google Accounts” who’s not a live human being, and shopping prodeals and playing “Name that Grateful Dead Tune.”

And eating.

Because that’s what I do all day at my desk.

And here at home, where I have a plethora of culinary choices, I’m not eating nearly as much, so I am actually (hopefully) shedding a few unwanted pounds, while sitting on my ass.

And yet, I feel confined, caged. I’m on an every-four-hours time clock: pain pill schedule. I get up at 3:30 every morning to administer the drugs. I change out the ice packs and listen for him to yell, “Mom?” I make sure he’s fed and not getting a blood clot and bathed and loved. I cook breakfast which I haven’t done in 4 years. I worry about his morale.

I put pressure on myself; if I am at home then I should be cleaning and making nice dinners.

Never mind that I am caring for him and squeezing work projects in, in-between.

And I feel alone in all of it.

I am resentful of the others; “Doesn’t anyone see what I am doing?  Doesn’t anyone think they should offer help?”

“Why am I doing the dishes after I made Empanadas for all of you?”

“What do you mean, ‘I’m going hunting’? Shouldn’t you give up your entire life just like I am?”

“Did you just ask me if I went for a walk today? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???????”

Even though, I probably could have gotten a walk in today if I had made it more of a priority than my 2:00 nap.

I know I am being ridiculous.

This is what stir crazy looks like.

 

Last Night’s Dream

Preface: Years ago, when I was busy smoking pot, learning to tele-ski and wasting my college degree living in a ski town, my parents (who had paid for said college degree) came down hard on me and insisted that I “do something with my life.” I moved to San Francisco, got a “real” job, failed miserably at it (although I did enjoy that city), and left. I eventually moved back to the ski town and taught tele-skiing, before getting married and setting my life onto the course that has landed me right here.

Went to sleep last night living here on the Plateau and ended up going to New York (City) to consider moving there, to apparently get out of the wasteful rut that is my current life.  It oozed of the move to San Francisco.

I got there and went to a job interview at a preschool that was located in the Empire State Building, which was right on the river and very modern, not the actual Empire State Building. It was very bizarre to have a preschool 100 floors up, but there were killer views so…

I got the job, they wanted me to begin that moment, which I did, and then I found out that I would be working with my best friend K who actually is a preschool teacher.

article-0-0D289FA900000578-326_634x319It was one of those incredibly beautiful, crisp, sunny, NYC days that are magical and so I got super psyched and called my parents and told them the great news and they were thrilled and I felt that same sense of obligatory satisfaction that I felt when I told them that I loved San Francisco, and I went back to my apartment where, magically, the boys were ensconced.

The next day I went to work and decided that I would be going out with some new friends afterwards and I left the apartment saying “Here’s subway money. School is at … Have a great day.”

Somewhere around midnight my maternal instincts returned and I was suddenly panicked and horrified at what I had done and I couldn’t imagine that they had actually found their way to and from school and I was secretly hoping that they had ditched school and were sitting in that (now dingy) apartment playing video games.

Then here’s where it gets a bit unbelievable: On my way out the door of the bar, I reached for my straw cowboy hat and it wasn’t there. Then reality struck: I probably wouldn’t be wearing a straw cowboy hat any more if I lived in New York City and worked in the Empire State Building.

I couldn’t stay. Now matter how great the views, no matter how excited I was to work with K, I could have made living in a city work, and I could have taught my children to read a subway map, the discomfort of wearing the hat said it all:

I’ve gone a little bit country and I can’t go back.

Gear Review

So I mentioned last night that I was climbing into my Backcountry Bed. And I realize that probably not a lot of folks out there know what that is. Because it is a proper noun, not just my name for sleeping on the couch when my child is sick.

Here is what it looks like:645images

It’s made by Sierra Designs.

It is zipperless.

It’s purple.

I needed a new sleeping bag. Over the years the quality of my bag(s) had diminished to the point that I finally let the boys sleep in them. And once a teenage boy sleeps in your bag, you’ll never want to again.

They had tears repaired with hair elastics and duct tape. They had been washed so many times that no quantity of tennis balls in the dryer could break up the down-clumps. They were stained. They stunk, and no matter how much duct tape I used, feathers still flew everywhere.

I decided that it was time for me to get a new bag – to treat myself, because who doesn’t get excited about a brand spanking new sleeping bag.

I began my search: Marmot, North Face, Mountain Hardwear, and then, Sierra Designs, the old standby.

They’re the old standby for a reason, (look again at the photo above).

They have Bed, Mummy and Garment styles. Since I am no longer winter camping, I didn’t need a bag that I can wear, thus eliminating the Garment. Then I went to the Mummy page since one look from my skeptical self eliminated the Bed style.

Here’s what it says: “Not ready to upgrade? Here are our traditional mummies.”

It was like a dare – an irresistible one.

I went to the Bed page.

And here’s what it says:

Back, side and stomach sleepers rejoice!

Could be good marketing, or maybe there was something to it.

I looked. I left the page. I returned. I looked a bit more closely. I left again. I went back again and saw that there was a video.

A video? For a sleeping bag?

https://www.sierradesigns.com/product/womens-backcountry-bed-800-3-season

Go to 1 min, 50 seconds for the deal clincher.

So I ordered the thing. Had it shipped to my office.

When it arrived, I pulled it out of the bag for my (outdoor professional) office mates to critique.

We all tried it. We all had a 1 minute 50 second moment, although ours were a bit more animated. And Bam! I was sold.

Any sleeping bag that provides that much fun is worth it.

I. Love. This. Bag.

It’s comfortable on the couch, on the ground, in the front seat of the truck (don’t ask), in a dust storm, under a crystal clear, freezing, desert sky, full of stars.

This actually really is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

And, NO ZIPPERS. How great is that?

So, here is my plug for Sierra Designs. I may sleep on the couch from now on.

 

Post-op

Greg: in bed, on drugs, in decent spirits, can’t walk.

Peter: vomiting, migraine, slept for 23 hours straight.

Bobby: wrestling has started and therefore so have the days of no food, brutal practices and utter exhaustion.

MCB: totally tweaked his back – is sporting one of those “I work at Sam’s Club” back braces.

Me: exhausted, on a funky sleep schedule due to my round the clock nursing duties and feeling like a total martyr and making sure that everyone around me knows it.

Cats: psyched that I am camping on the couch (in order to be within earshot of the patient)

Outside: Snow. Yes, to add insult to injury, it’s snowing. SNOWING, I say. Cold. Wet. Soggy. Slippery. Snow.

Icing on the cake: the man with whom a had a “thing” when MCB and I had split for 6 months, the man who was The Great Question, the question that needed to be answered before I would ever move on, the question that got answered when he was a total puss, the man that vanished rather than deal with challenges, that guy? Yeah, he sent me a text tonight after 5 months of total silence.

Do I have any space for that?

I am crawling into my Backcountry Bed, on my couch, with my cat, and checking out.

Until….it’s time for the next round of pills.

My poor (almost adult) baby

He has to have major surgery day after tomorrow: hamstring repair.

He tore it off his pelvic bone.

Crutches, brace, PT, no driving for 2-3 months, 1 year rehab before he can do any type of athletic activity.

Pain.

They told me yesterday that Lortab isn’t going to cut it.

Blood thinners, pain meds, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories.

They also said, “Plan on being in the hospital ALL day.”

That’s when I got off the phone and cried.

Watching the physical pain is bad.

Watching the emotional pain: unbearable.

Everything he has dreamed of for his future in on the line right now – and honestly, one foot over the line. He may never play football or wrestle again.

So much for D-1.

He was contacted by a college football recruiter the other day. First question after name and position: “Any athletic injuries?”

He is trying to hard to remain hopeful and undefeated. He is determined that this will not stop him from fulfilling his ambitions and dreams.

He is also very aware that no matter how determined he is, it might not do him any good. He just may never play again.

He did something stupid and reckless the other night. When I called him out on it, he fell apart, “Mom, my life is ruined.”

You and I know that it’s not, but when you are the star of the football team and the most physical kid in town, it feels that way.

My heart broke for this sweeter-than-sugar young man.

I’m trying to just hold space for all of his pain – to be able to hear him and help him remember that he is loved and will, no matter what he thinks, be okay.

“We will get through this. It’s going to be hard, and, we will do it. Together.”

I’m calling in the forces: friends, teammates, coaches, grandparents, cousins.

He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever met – plays football with multiple broken ribs.

And he is the most sensitive kid I know.

Watching this huge, muscle-bound, tough-guy cry is simply and horribly sad.

So, as I prepare and he prepares, I find myself praying – something I am not prone to doing.

But we are going to need all the help we can get to make this boy continue to smile that glorious, infectious smile of his.

 

 

Writing

So, as I mentioned yesterday, when I run, my brain runs too. And yes, even though not so wildly, it is still running when I walk.

I used to carry a notepad and pen. I got a great, tiny, waterproof pad and MCB gave me a space pen which is also tiny and writes at any angle. But I got tired of having to stop and pull the pad out of the pocket in my water bottle holder, in which it didn’t really fit in the first place, so for a while I was carrying it in my hand with my pen down my bra.

The pen usually ended up on the ground since I have no cleavage.

And then, a stoke of genius: write on my hand, and arm if more space was needed.

Well, turns out that I always need more space so I moved on to my thighs. Then I didn’t have to carry the notebook, only the pen.

I just transcribe my brilliance from my leg to a notebook when I return to the vehicle.

But then that caused a different problem: writing on your thigh with a ball point pen hurts.

So although the space pen is brilliant, it digs holes in my legs and I don’t really need that.

Next I tried a gel roller pen, but it lost its oomph not writing on paper.

Then I thought, “Marker!” But a Sharpie doesn’t wash off all that easily and I don’t want to walk around with all of that writing on my leg because people actually get down there and try to read it.

It’s like touching a woman’s pregnant belly – my body is not fair game just because you’re curious.

And then, yesterday, another stroke of genius: dry erase marker.

The only one I had in my glove compartment was a little old and frayed, so every letter was, like, an inch tall. But with a fresh, pointy one, I could write forever without scarring myself.

And although dry erase doesn’t dry erase off skin, it rubs right off with a little post-desert lotion on the way to the grocery store.

Desert

I think it’s a Desert Day. I woke up this morning and was reminded that there are no children in the house.

A very rare occurrence these days.

Even though they are teenagers and totally self-sufficient, when they are on “my time,” I don’t go all that far – especially to a place where I don’t get cell coverage…

Just in Case.

Maybe “even though” aren’t the correct words. Maybe I should be saying “because…”

But this morning – they are actually at their dad’s and will be for most of the day because it’s Football Sunday.

So desert, here I come.

To run?

Most likely no.

I was a runner – a real runner. Desert Sundays usually meant 15 miles, too much coffee, a little weed, quick stop at the grocery store, and then Eggs Benedict.

Those days are gone.

Now, I am old. My body is really old. Running is such a struggle: can’t breathe, can’t cope with the pounding, arms get really tired really fast because my shoulder joints are so creaky, and I don’t smoke pot any more because all it does for me is make me sleep.

Instead of forcing myself to continue to be a “runner” and suffering the consequences, I am learning to embrace that I am now a “walker.”

And finding all sorts of plusses about it:

I don’t hurt nearly as much.

I can go forever.

I actually see what’s around me.

I don’t get so mentally wound up – the pace of my feet keeps the pace of my brain at a manageable level.

If  I decided that I wanted to go with someone, I could actually carry on a conversation with them.

But going with someone is still highly unlikely.

I still have a bit of an egotistical struggle with no longer being an “athlete.” Wrapping my head around aging is a little bit of a lesson in  humility. Admitting that my body is no longer capable of doing those things that it did at 25, 35, or 45.

It’s especially hard when there are so many people around me who are my age or older, whose bodies aren’t deteriorating at the same rate as mine.

It’s hard to not scream, “It’s not fair!!”

So it helps to go to a really beautiful place to not-run.

Makes me happy to just be out there and I worry less about what I am doing out there.

So, red rocks, slick rocks, prickly things, here I come.