A Frosting-laden Graduation Hangover (A highly unedited free write)

My son, Dane, graduated yesterday.

I had a post drafted for MamaMick that was set to run at 8 a.m. this morning.

This is not that post.

Life has both sunshine and rain. Sunshine happens at MamaMick – sometimes rain happens at Hummingbird. We need both to grow, right?

I will only lightly edit this free write, so keep these four themes in mind in case I go off the rails!

  1. Advice we gave our children
  2. 2018 Timeline
  3. The inciting event
  4. Lessons learned

Advice we gave our children: We kept it simple for both of our kids and tried not to stray off message. I’ll admit to hovering and helicoptering, but for the most part, we consistently preached the following:

  • Be kind
  • Be grateful
  • Don’t get pregnant (or impregnate)
  • Don’t do anything illegal

Guess what? It worked. We have two kind and gracious kids. Other than stealing a traffic cone (or 3), they have done all that we asked.

Timeline: 

  • January 2018: Last semester, long winter, looking forward to a great wrestling season. 5 months to graduation.
  • February 2018: What an amazing wrestling season. I wonder how long winter will last. I still have 4 months before graduation.
  • March 2018: So glad that wrestling is over. Dane is acing his classes and I’m so thankful. Is it STILL winter?? Only 3 months till graduation.
  • April 2018: SHIT! Only 2 months till graduation! In between a flight to San Francisco and a twice-weekly 5-hour drive to St. Louis, I assembled invitations. The plan was a small family gathering after graduation with cake and punch. In order to make our faraway relatives feel included without feeling obligated, I inserted a small note in the formal announcement: Thank you for playing a role in raising an amazing young man. We’d love to see you after graduation for cake and punch. We also know you live a long ways away, so do not feel obligated. 
  • May 2018: Today, my baby graduates

Which leads to the:

Inciting event:

  • Friday – we had a great friends’ party and celebration. So much fun! I overheard a phone conversation between my husband and his mom. Apparently, I’d sent one of the invites to the wrong address on their side of the family. I didn’t think twice – they are a small family – I assumed everyone knew they were invited and everyone knows where we live. Graduation #2 – they know the drill.
  • Saturday – Baccalaureate. What an amazing ceremony. Dane introduced the speaker who told (with humor and grace) an honest and heart-wrenching story about making mistakes. She shared that life gives us chances to start over and that there are so many people in our lives who love us more than we know. I cried through the whole darned thing!
  • Sunday – Graduation. This day came too fast. I was numb. Too much peopling packed into three days. In our row, sat my daughter and hubby, followed by my parents and hubby’s parents. Hubby’s aunt and uncle. My brother and sister-inlaw, and my sister and brother in-law and all of their kiddos. So lucky and grateful all at once. These people and more, love me more than I realize. 
  • Sunday – post graduation. We exited into the chaos (over 250 grads and families). I gave Scott’s aunt and uncle hugs and expressed how thankful I was that they drove 2 hours and sat another 90 minutes to hear Dane’s name announced for less than 15 seconds. The moment we broke apart I asked, You’re coming for cake and punch after, right? Body language changed, brows furrowed, and the clipped, raised voice and hot breath of Aunt V landed on my face which was only inches away We didn’t KNOW we were invited. Your invite was NOT very clear. You TOTALLY excluded one of my children, so I assumed we weren’t invited either. We had only planned to show our faces and leave. She said more, but I missed most of it because I was holding back vomit and tears.
  • Sunday – stress response. Fight – flight – or freeze. I apologized all over myself all while holding back tears. How could I have made this terrible mistake? How could I have been so stupid? They are so mad. Aunt V looks ready to hit me. Then, I flew off, deserted my family, and waded through hundreds of people until I found a retaining wall outside the building. I watched all the families hugging and celebrating as they poured out of the venue. Tanna  found me, and quietly held my hand while I sat in silence. There are people who love you more than you know. I was devastated and stunned. I couldn’t even cry. Hubby was ready to fight. I didn’t take any pictures of Dane. She stole our day. She fucking hijacked it. 
  • Sunday – at the grad party. Aunt V came. Arms folded, her generous ass in a chair for 90 minutes while her resting bitch face devoured cake. I ate a lot of cake, too. I mean A LOT of cake. I tried to see it from her lens, I tried to understand her lashing, but in the end I couldn’t make eye contact or even be cordial. I cowered in the corner with my best friend…and ate more cake. My husband was livid and my mother in-law hid in the house and cried. I’d heard horror stories of Aunt V terrorizing my mother in-law during high school–they’d grown up together. Keep in mind, we are two Midwestern families who were all raised within 15 miles of each other. With Midwest, comes polite, low drama events. We are all painfully nice to each other…until we aren’t. I’ve been in my husband’s family for 30 years and hadn’t experienced the legendary Aunt V temper until yesterday. She caught me off guard. People aren’t really this hateful, right?

Lessons learned: I’m still recovering. I didn’t get any pictures of Dane. You guys know me – capturing moments with a camera are my thing. I didn’t get any pictures. That phrase woke me at 3:00 this morning and I ruminated on the loss until I fell asleep sometime before 5 a.m.

I let her steal Dane’s day from me. I let her inflict her personal issues, and I sucked up her energy like the people-pleasing vacuum that I am. I also ate waaay too much sugar and cake frosting (as if!), so I am hungover from carbs and emotion.

I’m not there yet, but I’m working on putting things into perspective as I thought back to the events during my morning run. I did the best I could with the time and gifts I’d been given. I can’t control her words, but I can control my reaction…and it’s not too late to control the aftermath.

Perhaps the lessons we’ve touted to our children might work for me, too?

  • Be kind – my dad was the first to make a move. He engaged Uncle L in conversation. My mom did the same with Aunt V. They made them feel welcome and appreciated –took up the slack when I couldn’t garner up the strength to the better person. Kindness is a super power – I can wear that cape. 
  • Be grateful – Dane gave Aunt V the biggest hug, and said some very non-teenage-boy words as she was departing Thank you so much for driving all this way to come see me. I really appreciate it.
  • Don’t get pregnant – SEE! None of this would have happened if hadn’t got knocked up 23 and 18 years ago 😉
  • Don’t do anything illegal – Last I checked, it’s not against the law to kick horrible relatives off any future guests list.

If I had to do it all again, I’d add one more huge lesson to my list of four. I shared it this morning with Dane. It’s the same message the speaker shared on Saturday. We are not our mistakes. We are all doing the best we can and will definitely screw up along the way. And, there are people who love us more than we know – they don’t give a shit about our mistakes – they only care about us.

 

The Things You Remember

A mint-green cotton dress
With stains on the front
Where the goose knocked you down
And sat on your belly until Mama saved you
It was auntie’s wedding day
And now you were all dirty
And what would people say?
At 4, who gets dirty at 4?

Grandpa leaning down to your ear
Oh! He was a big, wonderful Irish man
Old Spice and pipe tobacco
Lifted his monstrous arm to the sky
He pointed to the soaring hawk
Except you think he said “hog”
With feathers and a screeching cry?
And since when do pigs fly?

White, cable-knit tights
Patent leather shoes
Sunday best, always in a pew
Then to Grandma’s for Sanka and Seven-up
Pink and tan and chocolate Keebler wafers
Sadness–no one ever picked the vanilla
At least not you

The stuffed animals in your bed
How you rotated their proximity to the center
So they could take turns sleeping next to you
You didn’t want anyone to be ignored
On the perimeter
To have hurt feelings
To get cold

You used to wake up in the middle of the night
Frost inside the windows and under
Your fingernails and on your lips
Smothered under a ton of blankets
And a red coat with smelly faux fur
Who wears a coat to bed?
You did
I saw it
I remember it
Like it was me

 

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Inspired at 4 a.m. by a beautiful poem There Will Be Things You Do  by Kim Dower

Born of Bud And Blossom

My friend brings the Spring on a day I needed it the most. Here’s a dose in case you need it, too.

Charissa's Grace Notes

Amongst the thorns so sharp and bristley-bitter
and nestled in the crackley canes and stems so brittle
I sprang from buds clenched tight with fright and gripping
their green possessive cloaks around their high strung hearts
so pink, so red, so soft and velvet fragrant
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The sun pried without mercy, without quarter
and his hot fiery fingers plucked and pulled
and deep inside those shrouding shawls veridian
the pulsing surging petals pushed back hard
and cracked the sticky emerald shells of shame
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To blossom in the air renewed by wand’ring winds
and sway and dance, be wooed by every chance, to bend
low to the ground and then high straining for the heavens
releasing me, the fragrance strong, unquenchable
of grace and beauty, peace and love and joy.
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Yes.  I was born of bud and robust blossom
that fell away and left me hanging here
a kiss upon the cheek of…

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The Sorrows of The Mediocre

If you aren’t reading Melissa yet, you need to be!

What follows is one of my favorite poems of hers yet – I know the ten or so of you who read over here will appreciate her mindful twist 🙂

Glorious Results Of A Misspent Youth

Poor poor Ralphie was a man
Who spent his life an also-ran
And though he tried with all his might
The ‘almost perfect but not quite’
Was heard as a nonstop refrain
And soon to be his sad life’s bane

School passed by predictably
With his average solid B
Involved in sports but to his nettle
His room adorned with silver medals
He never made the football team
Or dated the homecoming queen

He settled with a decent gal
But thought her more a sort of pal
Though long of leg and slim of waist
Just something off about her face
And so she joined him for the ride
And she too bridesmaid never bride

And Ralph he wrote though not the best
He cursed his marginal success
At wisdom some found somewhat sage
Though buried on an obscure page
But all that found it surely would
Agree that it…

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Into the Mystic

“Do you believe in magic? Not just in any magic, but the magic in a young girl’s heart, how the music can free her, whenever it starts? . . . I hope you do, because what follows is a story about the magical power of music, memory, and love.”

This was the prelude to the story Christy shared in October on Words for the Weekend. She and Cayman revived our beloved characters Sam and Dave, and suddenly, the story is taking on a life of its own. Jennie created Sam in the very first volume, and we have all fallen in love with her…and the journey.

If you need to get caught up, here are the stories from Jennie, Cayman, and Christy in order of publication.

Volume 16; The Day the World Went Away
Volume 43; It’s the End of the World as We Know It
Just Another Day: Signs, Memories, and Bob Marleys
Walking on a Blood Red Moon
The Long Way Home

 After reading Walking on a Blood Red Moon, I wanted to know more about Rebecca. What follows is my entry into the lovely madness.

*****

Into the Mystic

These mortal lullabies of pain
May bind a book, may line a box,
May serve to curl a maiden’s locks;
Or when a thousand moons shall wane

~~Lord Alfred Tennyson

I was supposed to be a doctor. Not your average Dr. Prick with a vacation home and a shitty bedside manner, but one who was going to save lives. You know, cure cancer, eliminate diabetes and abolish infant mortality.

Even by my unreachable standards, I was a badass. Ivy League sweaters had recruited me before I was out of high school, and I sprinted to Emory University with a full scholarship. The Marta was both a highway to Hell screaming away from a rough, roach-infested childhood, as well as the rail leading to dorm rooms and roommates with daddy issues. After the first semester, the white coats fast-tracked me, and I graduated from med school before my eighteenth birthday. I liked the shiny objects in the lab, and I could dissect a cadaver in my sleep. Like a junkie, I thrived on the adrenalin produced by thirty-six-hour shifts in the ER and a side-gig at the CDC.

The CDC is where I met Jimmy—we shared a hood and a Bunsen burner. Like me, he first-year gunner resident, but that’s where our similarities ended. He was confident, smart, and damned sexy. Larger than life, gregarious with an easy smile and dimples that knocked the sensible shoes off of my feet.

I was in love with him, but too chicken to tell. Love scared the shit of me. You know? And I didn’t want jinx the chemistry. My stomach lurched when his fingers knocked on mine, and I relished catching him map out every inch of my body during morning cardiology rounds. Yeah. Cheesy, like a bad zombie movie. I was a fucking idiot when it came to matters of the heart.

He made my gut hurt when he looked at me in a certain way. Expectant—like he imagined my belly big with his babies. I’m not denying having written his last name next to mine inside a borrowed Grey’s Anatomy textbook. Rebecca Du Maurier. I wanted his ring on my little green finger, but first, I had promises to keep. Cancer was not going to cure itself.

When in doubt, always know your way out.

I’d put on a chastity belt long ago. Not because I’m virtuous, God no! I was cautious and level-headed, but a crazy part of me worried that I’d burn in Hell if I broke that seal. Thou shalt not. Sure, I didn’t mind messing around a little, but it was difficult for me to maintain control when he touched me. During one of our “study sessions,” he peeled off his tee-shirt with such self-confidence that all I could do was stare, and then struggle to keep my perky parts covered. I shook like a stupid little girl, and he liked it.

But, I fought him (and me) and remained a technical virgin until the very end. And the end came too soon.

A woman with a commanding presence and a government badge tried to shoo us lab rats out before things got terrible. She was off to catch a plane, and suggested that we do the same, HICPAC practices be damned.

People scurried out of the air-sealed room leaving only Jimmy and myself. A virus was wiping out the population, and all I could think about was that I was never getting laid. (really?) He would never have the chance to know me. To know that I could have rocked his world. (I would have) That I’d never get to be his missus. (truth)

No matter how desperate the situation seems, time spent thinking clearly is never time wasted.

I left Jimmy slumped over in the isolation room. It sucked, but I had no time to dwell on the Alanis-ish irony. I emptied my backpack and filled it back up with matches, a scalpel, scissors, antibiotics, Neosporin, and a propane torch. I reviewed the discarded stack of books and weighed my options. I ditched Netter’s for Tennyson, and Lippincott’s for Bronte. If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.

Travel light.

A blur of days followed, and I prayed for amnesia. I couldn’t ditch the memory of Jimmy’s terrified, hazel eyes filling the rectangle of the PAPR face cover. He looked at me through the glass, plasma seeping from the lesions all over his body. His hands were splayed across the glass. Like that same bad movie, I matched my fingers to his, pretending that the two-inch barrier didn’t hinder our shared energy. He pleaded for me to leave, so I did. Like a chicken shit.

I grabbed the bag and mentally thanked the Romanesque rowing coach for moving me to the hammer spot mid-season. The training hours paid off as I sprinted through and around parked cars on I-85. Ha! The easiest I had ever been able to navigate through traffic leaving Peachtree at rush hour. The physical exertion provided enough morphine-like endorphins to block the pain of the previous twenty minutes. I didn’t take the time to see the viral effects on the people trapped in their cars. My life-saving innards left their cozy philanthropic cells while self-preservation pervaded every ounce of my lithe body.

Cardio.

At some point, I must have fallen asleep on that first night. Tucked in the underbrush, with an English teacher’s voice in my head.

“Do you know where the wicked go after death?”
“They go to hell.”
“And what is hell?” Can you tell me that?
“A pit full of fire.”
“And should you like to fall into that pit, be to be burned forever?”
“No sir.”“Then what must you do to avoid it?”
I deliberated a moment: my answer when it did come was objectionable. “I must keep in good health, and not die.”

The group I crossed paths with appeared trustworthy, at least at the outset. I liked Dave’s deep-set eyes, and my ancient soul stirred when he spoke to me. He let me lay beside him at night. He thought I was scared and cold, but I just wanted his man’s body next to mine. I have a degree in biochemistry and know the Voo Doo response a woman’s body has. Fucking oxytocin. He made me miss Jimmy. The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.

Dave waxed on about Buddha, but I could tell that his words belonged to someone else—someone decidedly feminine.  I heard his breath hitch when I flung my unruly hair around my head and pretended to strike a tree pose. It was my first attempt at levity after I’d abandoned Jimmy. Dave’s eyes saw me for a moment and then left to find something else.

Who was this woman? A wife? A lover? Whoever she was, she traipsed and hop-scotched through his nightmares. Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing. His lilting words and poetic descriptions of her reminded me of the government chick who had evacuated the CDC offices. Even with her fancy title and government clearance, she possessed the humility of someone who’d give you her world if it made yours better. Despite myself, I was jealous of her long and lean with legs that seemed to snake all the way to her eyeballs. Her laugh was a crescendo of notes accentuated by a look that would command a man to part the sea just to be between her legs. Would I have the chance to be old enough to feel comfortable in my skin?

I imagined Dave and his woman had a cute dog with a hippy name and danced in the kitchen. To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love. I bet she wore lipstick when she folded his laundry. I imagined her tree poses were real and that she had mastered the bakasana. She probably made him wait to take her to bed, and I respected her for that.

I almost asked him where she was, this Sam, the name that left his lips when he struggled against the dreams.  I didn’t want or need to know, even though he did. I could empathize–being driven crazy by the not knowing. But I knew where Jimmy was, where I left him, and the thought didn’t comfort me at all.

I was rifling through my bag when ratty pages of a Keats poem fell onto the ground. Rife between the Neosporin and Twinkies, Dave handed the folio to me and said, “Will you read it?” I recognized a look I was used to seeing on Jimmy’s face and obliged.

Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall

Keats could always take me to another place; it wasn’t long after that we were knee-deep in shit again. Dave tried to steer me away from the fire and the bikers who thought I looked like a sweet treat. Red hair was my life-long sorrow. Memories of my dad’s Vietnam era music rang in my ears as I struggled to maneuver through the brush. Over on the mountain, thunder magic spoke. Let the people know my wisdom. Fill the land with smoke.

It was useless, though. My trained legs were worthless with only Twinkie fuel in the tank, and I started to fall behind. Why the fuck were they wasting their bullets on us anyway? I was just about ready to dive into the clay when the ammunition hit its target—my heart. Another Morrisette moment.

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

From across the river, they watched me crumble as my eyes faded to black. Was it this dark or am I staring at the insides of my eyeballs? Misery racked my weary bones, but I couldn’t decipher the origination. My eyes fluttered open to find three little birds perched on the tree above me. The breeze kissed my face–warm waves interlaced with flecks of cold peppering my cheeks. God, I loved that sensation. Peaceful, enveloping, sensual. Jimmy used to make me close my eyes so he could run his lips over my eyelashes, and breathe into my hair. He’d press his forehead to mine, inhale and then whisper, “You smell like vanilla and chocolate.”

I cried, sobbed, retched–racked with guilt and longing. I ached to hear his voice again. To feel him take me in. I should have never left.

Then the calm returned, the little birds sang, and I snuggled into the bank—burrowed into what would be my forever home. The clay was malleable, familiar, and warm, and the timing was right. Hello, Love. I’m on my way.

We were borne before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic

I don’t have to fear it and I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will flow into the mystic
Come on, girl

Too late to stop now

*****

Playing off of what Jennie, Christy, and Cayman created, I left a few Easter eggs of my own. Did you find any along the way? Hint: Rebecca was a ravenous reader of the classics.

And, what would the next installation in the Zombie Apocalypse be without a playlist and a signature video?

Sending a heartfelt thank you to Christy and Cayman for inspiring me, and coaxing me out of my tightly wound, twined ball.

Bonus: Something wicked wonderful this way comes. Stay tuned.

You Think You Want To Be A Witch

If you haven’t read Marissa yet, you really must check her out. “Wicked Wonderful” is how I love to describe her. Marissa’s whimsical poetry makes me smile without hurting my head.

Keeping with the theme of witches, check her out for something light and fun on a Supermoon Sunday.

Glorious Results Of A Misspent Youth

I see the disappointed faces
As they stare at me
And hear insulting comments from
The mean panel of three

Sharon Osbourne, Madonna and
On the right Taylor Swift
The judging panel of You Think
You Want to Be A Witch?

So I stand there with Stevie Nicks
Our diaphanous host
Sharon starts with comments that
For sure hurt me the most

“I thought your brew was rather thin
It lacked the bitter roots
And I think that you forgot
To add in eye of newt

It made your victim’s skin scaly but
That is all that you managed
And your broom flying is at best
Directionally challenged

You spent your time watching You tube
In your crystal ball
I’m afraid this witch crafting
Just isn’t you at all.”

Stevie reminds my fans to vote
If they find that untrue
And then turns to Madonna and
Says, “Madge let’s hear…

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Unpolished and Earthy (Blog Tour)

Good morning!
Here’s something from my main personal blog and outside the usual topics on Hummingbird. Even though HH has only a few followers, I wanted to expose you to some great writers. As always, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my ramblings. xo

Lipstick and Laundry

Hey friends,

Welcome to the unpolished, earthy leg of the Blog Tour happening right now in my neck of the woods. No hiking gear required though we might need a mower (and strapping hired hand) to get us out of the weeds. More on that later.

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A huge and humble thank you to Karen at Mended Musings for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

Karen is a wife, mother, business owner and writer who inspires me daily with words of wisdom about raising a family, overcoming obstacles and doing so with love and grace. She is self-compassionate, kind and an inspiration to anyone who reads her. She writes from the heart–a Heart Teller–and she felt like an old friend the moment we connected several months ago. All of her prose is beautiful, but Buzz is my favorite. Thank you again, Karen, for including me among many other talented writers and friends.

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So…

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