Life on the spectrum.


It’s just a magnetic picture frame, a memento from summer camp. The brightly colored foam sun and flip-flop stickers that encircle the smiling child in the photo are barely noticeable…but only if you know the boy.

His golden locks are not so curly or so golden anymore. You can tell that he’d been outside playing in the oppressive June heat; the strands of hair, stuck to the sides of his face with sweat are a dead giveaway. Souvenir fruit punch stains on his shirt commemorate a lunch well eaten.

I know many a mother that would not display this picture so proudly, but I’m not them. Not anywhere close. The photo, and everything that comes along with it are a milestone worthy of a tickertape parade, it signifies his return.

It’s one of the only pictures I have of him from the last few years…where he’s looking at the camera.

Had I been paying more attention, I might have been able to see what was going on. Looking back, it started at around the age of three. He’s always been advanced…even when it came to developing Asperger’s Syndrome.

I can still hear his tiny voice calling out the name of every car on the road from the backseat of my Honda. “Wook, Mombo! It’s a Cadilwac Escawade!!!” His excitement was contagious. I didn’t realize his obsession was a sign.

At four, when I pushed him forcefully into the preschool shark tank… I was not the least concerned when I was called in to discuss his educational growth. I didn’t send him there to secure a slot in Harvard. I sent him there to eat paste and meet other kids.

He was always surrounded by adults, and as much as I enjoyed communicating with my little professor…I knew how important a peer group was. When he came home and told me that his teacher was stupid, I believed him…because she was.

My kid was smart. They were trying to tell me he wasn’t. There aren’t many children, at the tender age of four that have successfully figured out a way to prank their parents. “STOP THE CAR! We’re gonna get hit! Wook OUT!” As I’d slam on my brakes he’d giggle, very satisfied with himself, knowing that his mother would not punish random acts of hilarity.

Five was marked by his father’s skull surgery and his mother ending a very unhealthy relationship.

Six was filled with cancer (x 3).

I wasn’t sure if the circumstances that life was throwing at him had changed him…or it was something else. I was terrified to know the answers, but I couldn’t just sit back and allow him to disappear. He’d stopped making eye contact. He spoke, but he grunted a lot. He began to lose skills he’d mastered. He’d get lost in his video games. His spark had faded.

There were no happy moments. Getting him to do anything took an Act of Congress, and his mother standing over him screaming until her eyes bulged.

He refused to leave the house. Failed interactions with neighborhood kids usually left him crumpled in a corner like a pile of dirty clothes. All he would talk about was Minecraft.

I tried to get him help his Kindergarten year. I went to the school. I took him to the Pediatrician. I did the meetings. I asked politely. I was ignored. It was suggested he was going through a phase…and he’d get better.

He did not getter better. There was no snapping him out of it.

If it were not for the help of a wonderful Occupational Therapist and First Grade Teacher, we’d still have no idea what was going on. They helped me understand. They helped me see his deficiencies, which are many. They told me what “Sensory Issues” are…and why my son screams bloody murder every time I bathe him, brush his hair, or bring out the toothbrush. They assured me that I didn’t cause this by eating that tuna sub or having that cup of coffee when I was pregnant.

When I was a kid, we called these things “Get in the goddamned shower and/or stand still so I can brush your goddamned hair”.

His psychological reports were confusing. There were a lot of letters… ASD, ADHD, LMNOP…whatever. This only added to my anger and frustration, why couldn’t anyone tell me what this was in plain English?

In retrospect, this anger fuel was a good thing. It sent me into the school with a hired gun called a “children’s advocate” …she didn’t do anything either…until I threatened to fire her and possibly ruin her professionally. I don’t know, when I get mad I don’t remember exactly what comes out of my mouth and what stays in my head. Ok, that’s not true. I totally remember what I said, but that’s another blog for another day. I’d had enough of the run around.

Now that we know, it doesn’t get any easier. The Autism Spectrum is a very confusing glow to bask in. It’s not a disease with very specific symptoms. There is no magic elixir that cures it. When your child is diagnosed as “Spectrumy” you find yourself in the company of highly educated people who basically tell you, “Shit. I don’t know…let’s try this,” and then they charge you $400.00. These doctors don’t accept insurance…I’m guessing because so much of this is trial and error…and they get tired of having to fight with insurance companies to get paid. M.D.’s gotta eat too.

We’ve pulled him out of public school and put him in an environment that is more soothing. He has two teachers and a dedicated aide. He’s made amazing changes. He has friends. He’s speaking in full sentences again. He’s looking at me. He’s reading. Even with all these changes he still can’t focus. When the doctors, therapists, and teachers all gently nudged us towards medication…again…we had no choice but to agree. I know what it’s like not to be able to focus. It’s torture. Life is hard enough without having to fight with your brain.

This morning, as I had to pin my baby down on the couch and force medicine in his mouth, while he screamed, “Why are you doing this to me?” all I could do was hope they know what they’re talking about.

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Things better left unsaid.


She slowly pulled her car up around the circular driveway. The morning sun and dew made everything look like it was covered in a moist, sugary glaze of happiness. Women in workout clothes whizzed past her, rushing children wearing bookbags that covered most of their tiny bodies. As the passenger side rear door opened, she heard an exceptionally perky voice, “Hi, Mom! How are you today?”

She hated it when people that were not her child called her “Mom”. Especially when those people were happy, well-dressed, adult morning people. “Fine, and you?” she managed to say without clenching her teeth, she even surprised herself by how pleasant she sounded.

She never uses the word “fine”. There are so many wonderful words…why use the exceptionally boring ones?

Fine, you see, is kind of like the adult diaper of the English language. It encompasses all of the shitty emotions no one wants to admit to…while being discreet.

She wasn’t fine.

Had she answered honestly, she might have said tired, shitty, and/or guilt-ridden. But, as she was currently sitting on school property…she decided not to divulge such things.

Her son hopped out of the car and skipped happily to his classroom, unaware of the turf war going on in his troubled mother’s head. At seven, he does not need to be aware that life is not always untroubled.

She drove off, watching him…in her rearview mirror. She wanted to turn around…pick him up in her arms…and never let him go. Tears welled up in her eyes as she wished for rain…so no one would know she was crying.

If it hadn’t been for that fucking rooster…she might have gotten a decent night’s sleep. She might have been able to pull herself together. She might not have had to go out in public still wearing her jammies.

The rooster had become public enemy number one.

She could comfortably place all of her anger on that asshole bird. The 4 a.m. screeching that came from the neighbor’s yard was not the “cock-a-doodle-doo” she remembered singing about while in kindergarten. No, this sounded like Ted Nugent having drunken, consensual sex with a woodchipper. Eee-I-Eee-I-Oh.

Yes, it’s all the rooster’s fault. The rooster is still alive. The rooster could be held accountable.

Life was placed on an angry, rooster-shaming pause a few days ago.

The date was Sunday, September 7, 2014.

Sunday started off as a very pleasant day. It didn’t stay that way, in fact…it became one of the most unpleasant days she’d had in a year.

When he came in the house his expression was more sorrowful than a bad day of golfing could cause. The child was within earshot, so she didn’t want to probe…but she knew something was wrong.

Nothing could have prepared her for the news she was about to receive. “Chris killed himself last night,” came tumbling, inconsolably. Instantly, she felt helpless..

He could not mask the tears. She gasped, not for dramatic effect…but because she felt like the wind had been knocked out of her.

“What?” The word dribbled out of her lips, like mushroom gravy…trying to escape meatloaf.

Friday, at 1:30, his friends and family will gather to watch as he is placed in a box…dirt is thrown on him… and he goes into the ground.

“Fuck you, Chris. Why did you do this to us? One man, one gun, one bullet…instantaneously ripped out the heart of everyone that loved you. There will be no touching tribute by Billy Crystal. No videos proving that you were a good person,” she yelled at the sky…in vain.

We’ll just be a group of people…sadly standing around…cursing Chris for making us evaluate ourselves.

Although she was highly aware of the stages of grief, she chastised herself for being stuck in anger. Her anger, that could not be placed on the rooster…surfaced after everyone was in bed.

Suicide is often the finale in a series of unanswered cries for help.

She could have helped you. Why didn’t you let her help you?

Hands.


I sat in the living room, the babble of the television filling the space. I wasn’t really listening. I watched her chest, making sure it was rising and falling as it should. Her hands were folded softly on her lap as she slept.

“You’ve got a huge decision to make,” some overly coiffed handy-man said from the screen. Immediately I was filled with anger. That happens a lot. The anger, it’s my least favorite emotion. I suppose it’s necessary.   The people on the T.V., their huge decision: picking out drapes.  My huge decision: I may have to pick out a dress for my mother to be buried in.

I haven’t allowed myself to fully accept that there is a very real possibility that I may lose my mother until this week. It’s debilitating. I really haven’t been myself. The waves of nausea that come and go as they please make it difficult to concentrate.

This isn’t fair.

Tears welled in my eyes, making everything look like a watery kaleidoscope. I cursed myself.  All I wanted to do was look at my beautiful, sleeping mother through clear eyes.  I was trying to mentally photograph her and my body was sabotaging me.

I wanted to look at her hands.

Her favorite story to tell me is how she knew she was having a girl.  I was born before a time when expectant mothers had sonograms.  And way before a time when expectant mothers had 3-D sonograms at baby showers.  Stop it, you weirdos. It’s creepy.  It’s like looking at a vacuum bagged frog. Really.

She’d look at me lovingly and say, “Your brothers bounced around in there like they were playing basketball; you played the harp.” She’d flutter her fingers to demonstrate my in utero musical skills.  “Your Grandma Carpenter was really worried about me” she’d always pause to laugh.  “I was so sick of blue, I told her I wasn’t bringing home another boy!”

“Then we brought you home, in a lace dress so stiff you couldn’t move.  And we looked at your hands,”  If my father is in the room when the story is being told, she will always turn to him and say, “Joe, remember how beautiful her hands were? How long her fingers were?”

My mother has beautiful hands too.  They are soft and full of love, I am not ready to let them go.

She is little. She is mighty. She is stupid.


“Hi, I’d like to make an appointment to get my dog groomed.”

“I’m sorry, what?” The voice on the other end sounded annoyed.

I repeated myself. This time she heard me.

“Please hold,” the woman said tersely.

“I don’t think I like this broad’s attitude,” I mumbled to Betty.  As I sat on hold I wondered what other people said when they called there.  Even if she didn’t hear me, there’s probably a 90% chance that most of the people that call are asking to get their dog cleaned.

It is after all…a dog grooming place.  Linda’s Classy Canines or something.  The name of the establishment isn’t the slightest bit misleading. I didn’t call there under the assumption that they were going prepare my taxes or refinish my kitchen cabinets.  “If they’re gonna be rude we can take our business elsewhere,”  Betty didn’t seem to care.

It’s not like there are a lot of words in the English language that sound like “appointment”.  Sure, maybe “anointment”…but Linda isn’t the high priestess of clean dog butts. I was really reading too far into what the tone of her voice meant.

Maybe I’m doing it wrong?  Maybe there’s some kind of lingo I’m supposed to be using?  I’m not so good at industry inspeak. Should I have asked her to pimp my puppy?  Did I just expose myself as some kind of fledgling nuevo-yuppie?  I’m not used to paying for services I should do myself.

I realized I had been on hold for a very long time after that last thought barreled through my brain.  My phone tallied my call time as 5:15.  But, I call bullshit.  It was way longer.

I ended the call, thoroughly convinced that Linda has abandoned us and I have issues with asking for help.  Betty was asleep on the pile of dirty clothes in the living room, blissfully unaware that the state of her fur is causing me such inner-turmoil.

I come from a long line of dog lovers.  It pains me to see her go from Betty White to Betty Bathwater Grey with Black Spots.  I know I must stop the metamorphosis before she goes full on Barry White.

I come from a long line of Do-it-yourself-ers.  It pains me to know I am paying someone to do something I can do myself.  I’m the same way when it comes to oil changes, lawn maintenance, and cleaning people.  If I can do it myself, I should. My brain can’t grab hold of the concept.

I come from a long line of people that do not like to be bitten by little, fluffy dogs.  It pains me…to uh, be in pain. Therein lies the problem.  She never breaks the skin, but she makes it clear that she is displeased.  No one likes to be growled at through the whole lathering process or given the silent treatment.

I may not have said this in so many words before, but Betty isn’t exactly a Rhodes Scholar and she’s…an asshole.  She’s the only dog I’ve ever owned that has her own slogan, “She is little. She is mighty. She is stupid.”  What she lacks in brains, she makes up for in cute.  She’s very, very cute. Like, seriously…she might be the cutest dog on the planet.

Image

See?

It’s taken me a while to come to terms with this.  I used to defend her zest for life, now I find myself apologizing for it.  She’s not extra zesty, she’s a jerk.  Our last walk confirms this.  First, on the way downstairs she walked into the neighbors apartment and barked at her.  After that she picked a fight with a dog twice her size.  When I’d finally had enough of her crap, we came back upstairs and she proceeded to shit on the floor while making eye contact with me.  Who does that? The size of the chip she’s got on her shoulder should crush her tiny frame.  Kanye West probably would have been a much better name for her.

You really don’t have to do anything to become the target of her ire, you basically just have to be a creature that doesn’t reside with her and be within barking distance.  Dogs, cats, ducks, squirrels, alligators…they all trigger an eruption of aggression.  She snorts and paws at the ground, raucous yipping quickly follows.  Whatever she’s barking at is initially stunned, but that doesn’t last long…I imagine it’s a lot like being yelled at by disgruntled, tumbling bag of cotton balls.

Since she is such a problem child, I was apprehensive about taking her to the groomers.  But, we took her anyway.  Surprisingly when we picked her up, she was very clean…and also not dead.  Why is that surprising? Well, she’s my dog…and there are times when I’ve wanted to strangle her during a bath.  They didn’t utter the words, “Don’t come back.” In fact, they said she was “Hilarious”.  I’ve never found having something angrily gnaw on my pinky to be the least bit humorous, but to each their own.

“Let’s face it Betty, Linda…or whatever her name is…is our only hope!  Everyone else thinks you’re obnoxious,” I said as she provided a chorus of sleepy puppy sounds. I put my tail between my legs and called back. This time Linda wasn’t such a bitch, so I didn’t say anything about being left on hold long enough to question my ability to be an effective human being.  It’s a small price to pay for a fabulous looking and undead dog.

It is what it isn’t.


Shut off the alarm.  Get out of bed. Get lunch made.  Wake up the boy. Get him chocolate milk.  Feel his forehead, make sure he isn’t warm.  Pull him out of bed.  My mother has cancer.

Search in vain for a matching pair of socks.  Curse myself for not putting the laundry away.  Find two socks that are similar from the ankle up.  Ask him to remove the underwear from his head.  My mother has cancer.

Say, “No. You can’t stay home with mommy, you’re going to school,” for the eighth time in seven minutes.  He’s going to be late.  Hugs and kisses. “Have a wonderful day and try your very hardest”.  Watch him skip away as I remind him he’s my favorite everything.  My mother has cancer.

Sit down to write.  Write something happy and upbeat.  Delete it.  It’s bullshit anyway.  Wonder how my brother’s chemo is going.  Tell myself not to think about cancer.

Call my mother. Talk about cancer.  Ask about radiation.  Try not to cry.  Listen to her cry.  Say something funny.  Feel helpless.  Hang up.  Cry.

Compose myself.  Decide it’s time to do laundry.  Remove Betty from laundry pile, where she is using my favorite pants as a pillow.  Betty helps sort the lights and darks. I ask her to remove the underwear from her mouth.  My mother has cancer.

Check the peephole.  Wait until the neighbor is out of the hallway. It’s so difficult to form a sentence these days. My words are at a premium, I can’t afford to waste them on small talk.  I still look like I’ve been crying; I don’t want to have to explain my mother has cancer.

“Oh geeze I’m sorry…I didn’t realize it was your mom. I thought you said your brother or aunt has cancer”

“I did.”

“So, wait…what?”

“I did.”

“Your brother?”

“And my aunt and my mother…”

“Wow.”

“Yep.”

Wait a bit longer for good measure.  Run into the neighbor anyway.  I decide I’d make a very bad ninja.  She hugs me, tells me I look terrible.  I laugh.

I do look terrible.  I’m glad she’s honest.  She doesn’t understand what this is like.  She doesn’t pretend to.  I wonder why I avoid her.

“It is what it is,” I say as I make my way to the laundry at the end of the hall.  I don’t know why I say these things.  It isn’t what it is.  It’s guilt.  It’s regret.  It’s paralyzing.  My mother has cancer.

Send my apologies to Aunt Carmen


It’s every major holiday, sometimes it’s an invitation, or a “how are you?”  It’s been going on so long.  I stopped responding, but it doesn’t seem to matter.  “Happy New Year!” for maybe 10 consecutive years.  “Greg is having a concert,” the messages taunt me.  I keep hoping for some kind of clue…some insight, but it never comes.  It’s maddening. I’m stuck in a group text message, and I don’t know who in the hell these people are.  

I’m so far in that I think it would be incredibly rude to ask, “Who is this?”  I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out who Greg is and what kind of instrument he plays?  Maybe I don’t know these people at all, maybe it’s a wrong number?  I’ve kept this charade up with the hope that someone other that Greg would be mentioned by name, no dice.  

Text messaging is such an accepted form of communication that my parents are doing it.  

Both of them.  

With one another, and other people.  

This is a big deal.  

You may find yourself asking, “Gee Scarp  (or Sara…either one is acceptable nomenclature), why is this a big deal?”  And, I’ll tell you…right away…I won’t keep you guessing.  For the last 30ish years, my father has worn the same damn Casio digital watch.  

Why?

Because the ones with the alarms and shit are complicated.  

Do you know how hard it is to find just a digital watch on Christmas Eve?

Anywho. My dad has never been “into” technology, so if he’s doing it there’s reason to suspect that there are people his age that are using text messaging as their sole means of communication.

This is where my mind starts to wander.  Let’s say I don’t actually know who the fuck is sending me Greg’s concert updates…and it is a wrong number.  I could potentially be the reason your Aunt Carmen was so pissed off at Aunt Judy on Thanksgiving.

Aunt Judy missed all of your cousin Greg’s clarinet solos, and she knows Carmen went out of her way to schlep to your stupid dance recitals. Yeah, she went all the way downtown to see you, sat for hours to watch kids covered in sequins…with whore makeup on. Only to be rewarded with you, stomping around the stage like a water buffalo. It was six years, six years she sat through this shit? Judy can’t make a concert?

By the way, I see her point. Aunt Judy is...kind of a bitch.

It’s all my fault. Your family is falling apart because you’re a terrible tap-dancer and I don’t know who Greg is.

I’m sorry. It’s too late, I can’t turn back now.

Happy New Year.  

Keep rockin’ Greg!

She


“If we ever go to war with Russia, I’m aligning myself with the Cephalopods.”

His face was hidden in the shadows. “Um, what?” she said, because…well…anyone would say that.

As a whisper of smoke spun before her left eye, a human figure emerged from behind the dumpster. His eyes said, “I really trust Cephalopods.” His pants said, “I just pissed myself.”

The orange rind stuck on his cheek indicated he slept on his left side. She showed no fear as he approached her, mainly because she was still trying to remember what the fuck a Cephalopod was.

“Who will you follow?” he asked. She looked around. She was at the end of a driveway that lead to a very busy hospital. There were people everywhere; deciding he was harmless, she spoke. “Um, yeah…Communism isn’t my thing…so I’m on Team Cephalopod. You have some shit on your face, Dude.”

She, being the kind of broad who feels people should know when they have shit on themselves, didn’t hold back. She made the international “you have shit on you” rotating hand/pointed index finger gesture around the perimeter of her face.

He didn’t acknowledge her, but never took his lifeless eyes of off her. She thought he might need a smoke. She opened a white and gold box adorned with the Philip Morris family crest, and removed one of her remaining 20 Class A Cigarettes.

Her arm was outstretched in front of her…she held the cigarette. She posed like a runner preparing to pass the baton. He shuffled towards her. It was the slowest, and most pointless, reversed relay race known to man. There would be no winner.

She admired his shuffling skills. She could not recall a time where she’d ever seen someone move so fast without lifting their feet from the ground. The air temperature was nearly 85 degrees. He wore a sweatshirt and long pants, she wondered why…but who was she to question.

He moved past her, grabbing the cigarette. She thought of Arlo Guthrie, she had no reason for doing so…except for Arlo Guthrie has evoked the stench of urine in her mind since she was a child. No offense meant, Arlo.

They would never cross paths again. Slowly wandering away from her, his inner soldier prepared for war…while she Googled cephalopod.

Can I help you?


There’s something about me.  Something about my face or the way I carry myself. Something about my clothes.  There’s just something…always has been.

I guess we all have a certain je ne sais quoi that dictates how other humans interact with us. My “I don’t know what” says, “I work here”.  Moreover, my “I don’t know what” says, “I work here, and I’m not doing my job”.

Even when my mouth says, “I don’t work here,” the “I don’t know what” always finds a way to scramble the message.

It happens all the time, even in places where the employees wear uniforms. A few weeks ago I was shopping sans small child. Shopping without the constant chorus of “I want that” is like a vacation. I was wearing my favorite green t-shirt and green cargo pants. This particular shirt has a picture of a moose and bear on it, and says “Nature and shit” below the picture. Definitely not the red and khaki garb of the staff.

As I stood in the aisle browsing, I was approached by an older guy. He was preppy looking, and wore clothing that indicated he was into golf. His outfit was wonderfully coordinated, right down to his stupid looking visor. He had a cocky, better than you, my wife picks out my clothes air about him.

I have no idea how long he was standing there, but was made aware of his presence when he rudely cleared his throat. “AHEMMM. Are these disposable?” he barked at me, clearly annoyed. He was holding a box, but it was an item I was not familiar with.

As he glared at me, he let out a sigh. It was a sigh that indicated he was unhappy. His attitude was interrupting my mini retail vacation, and I was briefly confused by his aggressive behavior. “Technically, everything is disposable. It just depends on how much you like it,” I responded, smiling.

I went back to my browsing. I could still feel his presence. His eyes were burning holes in the back of my head. From over my shoulder his voice boomed “All you damn kids think you’re so damn funny! Well, it won’t be so funny when I call your manager…WILL IT?

Normally, if a person is polite I offer assistance; even though I will not be compensated.  I could have just turned around and said, “Why don’t you ask someone who works here?” correcting the surly moron, but we all know that’s not what I did.

I turned and faced him, again smiling “May I?” I asked, as I took the box from him. “Oh, sure! NOOOW you’re going to help me???!!! You think I won’t report you!? You’re all the same. You only WORK when you think you’re going to get fired! Well, you’ve GOT another thing COMING, MISSY!!” Yes, he called me missy.

He went on for what seemed like an hour…talking about why people like me are the reason the country is in the state it’s in, and how I’ll work minimum wage my whole life because I have no work ethic.

I let him ramble, while humming “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” in my head.  He kept getting louder…about the time I got to the “his truth is marching on” part, a woman in a red shirt, khaki pants, and a name tag appeared out of nowhere.  “Can I help you?” she asked the almost screaming jerk.

“YEAH, I’m glad SOMEONE who works here does their JOB! You need to have a little CHAT with your EMPLOYEE! It seems she missed the part about COURTESY when she did her training course!!! She’s a DISGRACE and should be FIRED IMMEDIATELY!” His visor was now visibly moving because the veins on the side of his head were pulsing.

I was still smiling, this displeased him even more. “Look at her, she’s just smiling at me like some kind of MORON!” The employee was confused, her expression showed she was trying to choose her words carefully. I handed her the box, and softly said, “He wants to know if these are disposable.”

“Yeah….that’s ALL I asked her…after I stood behind her for five minutes, waiting for her to acknowledge me! And do you know what she said!!???” he paused, I’m assuming for dramatic effect. “Everything is DISPOSABLE, it depends on HOW MUCH YOU LIKE IT!!!!”

“C’mon, you have to admit. That was hilarious,” I said to the bewildered employee. “This is what you call customer service?” he snorted, while throwing up his hands. It was at this point that the employee finally spoke again, “Uh, Sir. She doesn’t work here,” she half-mumbled.

“WHAT!!!??” the golf dork exclaimed. “Not even on the weekends,” I replied, laughing. “Why didn’t you say that in the first place?” He was speaking through a clenched jaw. “You didn’t ask me if I worked here. You sounded pretty passionate, I thought it’d be rude to interrupt you,” I continued.

“Well, that’s just not funny,” he stammered. Clearly this guy doesn’t know funny.  You would think he would have stopped there, but he didn’t.  Self-important jerks never know when to leave well enough alone.  “You know…I’m not here to entertain you. I’m a very busy man,”. There’s a lot of personality traits I despise, he seemed to have them all.  He couldn’t just sit there in his wrongness and be wrong.  “Well, Muffin. I’m not here to assist you, so I guess we’re even,” I replied almost singing.

I probably could have stood there in the dental care aisle and exchanged barbs with this dude all day.  But, I decided to excuse myself before he could say anything else…I had things to do. I’m a very busy woman.

An open letter from my uterus.


Dear Members of Congress,

Even though we have never been formally introduced, you sure talk about me a lot. No, not me specifically. You don’t sit there in your little robes and address the reproductive organs of Sara Carpenter, but you might as well. To loosely quote the late Whitney Houston, “I’m every uterus, it’s all in me, Chaka Khan!”. Ok, well she didn’t say “uterus”…she said “woman,” but I didn’t adlib the “Chaka Khan!” thing. It seems that you are only concerned with me; not the muscles, bones, brain, or well-being that make up the mammal that transports me. Since you’re so focused on me, I thought I’d drop you a line to thank you for your interest.

You debate, ad nauseum, about what I should or should not be doing. I feel like the Kim Kardashian of Congress. Except, you won’t be able to sneak a peek of me at Fashion Week in Paris…because I’m a uterus and don’t photograph well.

I consider myself a modest, private organ. But, it recently occurred to me that all the things you fight about revolve around me. Since I’m so passionately debated, I’m going to tell you how I want to live my life. Because, you know, I’m a big fan of life…it’s kind of my thing. I want to decide whether or not I let a 9 month, silent “Occupy Uterus” protest take place within my confines. I want to decide whether or not I make a legal, life-long commitment to another uterine vessel. I want to make the same income as the vessel attached to the penis, for doing the same job. Lastly, I want the government that is so concerned with the life that I create to give a damn about it after it is born.

Your preachy Pro-Life rhetoric ends at birth. After that, you don’t care what goes on. You don’t care…if you did you wouldn’t have brought the government to a halt with your childish bickering. What’s wrong with you? I’m a simple, silly, little organ…but do you mean to tell me that driving a car and owning a home is more of a privilege than being alive? Both of those privileges require insurance. Why? Just because you can put a dollar amount on their replacement? What about me? What’s my value? Right now, you’re implying that I am worth nothing.

You are often referred to as “The Body of Congress”. One might assume that if the government was an actual living, breathing human…you would be the right and left sides of the brain. This assumption is incorrect; your behavior at this very moment makes you the rectum.

Kind regards,

Sara’s Uterus

I’ll buy dinner


“I’m going to buy the groceries tonight, okay?” he held up his change purse and shook it. I smiled, thinking his gesture was gush-worthy. “No, buddy. You save your money. I’ll pay for the things we need,” I asserted…in my soft, motherly, “aren’t you wonderful?” voice. “Nope, I got this,” he said, as he skipped along beside me.

There were people entering the store along with us, they could hear us as we chatted. I hadn’t noticed that they were watching until I made eye contact with an older woman, she was smiling at my boy. I was so very proud that his act of kindness was getting so much attention. The woman patted my son on the head as she walked by us. “He’s a good boy,” she whispered to me. “I’ve got, like… a hundred monies,” he said as he giggled, and showed her his change purse. “You’re very rich, I wish I had a hundred monies!” the woman responded. “I’m buying dinner tonight, I get to pick what we’re having!” it’s not often he engages strangers, but she had a grandma aura about her.

“Oh! What are you having?” she asked, I waited for his response. I was fully expecting him to say something along the lines of chicken nuggets or pizza. He looked around the store grinning, he was basking in all the attention he was receiving. After a few seconds, he opened his little mouth…“I haven’t decided, but what Mommy made for dinner last night was disgusting. It lacked imagination”.

The woman looked at me, unsure of how she should react. Since I was already hysterically laughing…she followed my lead. “We watch a lot of Food Network,” said in between snorts. This exchange set the tone for the rest of our shopping trip.

At his request, I let him drive the cart. We meandered up and down the aisles, him periodically swerving wildly to “check the suspension” and asking to put things in the cart. “Can we have that?” he said, as he pointed to a box of laxatives. “Um, no,” I replied. “But, it’s blue and it’s candy,” he persisted. He had caught the eye of another shopper, a man this time. He smiled at us as he listened to my boy present his argument. “Blue is my favorite color and I like chocolate. I’ll make you a deal, if I get this candy I won’t get in on the car seats.” His negotiation skills need work.

“Buddy, that’s not candy. It’s medicine,” he wasn’t buying my story. “No, medicine looks yucky. What kind of medicine is it mom?” his sarcasm was apparent as he spoke. “It’s a laxative,” I was trying to get out of having to explain this wonder of modern medicine to him in public. “What’s alactive?” I was having no luck. “Well, it’s something you take when you have to poop and you can’t,” I said. “Why does it have a picture of chocolate on it then?” he said in disgust. “It should have a picture of burritos on it!” I try not to laugh when the boy is being logical and serious…but the man within earshot did not have this restraint.

We walked away during the roaring laughter, my son was puzzled. “What’s wrong with that man?” he whispered. “Too much alactive,” I replied…not looking at him for fear my composure would crumble. He accepted my answer as fact. I hope to God he doesn’t go to school and warn his classmates about the frightening side effects of stool softener.

With just a few more things to purchase, I prayed the next few aisles would be empty. My prayers went unanswered. We were too far away from the bakery to grab a free cookie to put in his mouth, I was kicking myself for not stopping when we had the chance. Cookie gag is my go-to boy silencer. We had to get dog food, I agreed to let him select their meals for the week. He was very excited to have this responsibility.

My son, like most people, has difficulty controlling the volume of his voice when he is excited. There were a lot of pet friendly folks around us as he carefully inspected the packaging. He selected the cans with the dogs on them that most resemble his pets. As he showed me one with a fluffy, white pooch, he loudly exclaimed “MOM! Remember that time I CAME INTO YOUR BEDROOM AND FOUND BETTY WHITE SITTING ON YOUR FACE?”

It may have been a tactical error to name our puppy after a celebrity, because the entire store is now under the impression that I am involved in a lesbian relationship (not that there’s anything wrong with that) with a 90-something year old actress. I didn’t even bother explaining. We just hightailed it to the check-out. When he asked for a candybar at the register, I happily obliged, knowing I’d be able to make it to the car without being mortified.