Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Out of Alignment

I've had this odd sense of discontent all day. The weather is gray. The air is moist and the whole day has been of the verge of tears. The day, not me, And, as luck would have it, the day chose the minute I walked out of Kinko's clutching my box of color brochures on glossy paper to let go. The skies opened up and the rain poured down.

My co-worker and I had driven over to Kinko's together because she has a company credit card and I do not. We climbed into the car, the big raindrops having just started to dress us in polka dots, and watched as the neon oranges and purples of the FedEx Kinko's sign shimmered like a watercolor behind the curtain of rain.

"Figures," my co-worker said, almost as if to herself.

"Yeah, the timing......" I sighed in response and put the key in the ignition.

Rubbing her hands over the damp box she continued, "Do you ever feel like no matter what you do, things just don't line up on your side?"

I laughed. Oh, yeah.

Lately, that's been the perfect description for how I feel. It's hard to identify because it's the sense that powers beyond my control (and I'm all about the control) are messing with me in ways to keep me just on edge, out of sorts and slightly off kilter. No major blow ups. No disasters. No delivery of doom on the front door of the New Golden Manor. Just this feeling that things aren't quite right.

I suppose for me specifically it's a culmination of all that's been going with moving, a bout of illness, changes to my job, a longer commute, and the churn of people in and out of my life that's just a regular part of everyday existence. For our family, it's been the larger issue of the move, of course, spring activities, the closing down of the school year, lots of standardized testing, the end of The Dancer's high school years, the angst of her college decision, and the herky-jerky start up of baseball season during a very rainy spring.

Things just seem a

There's Garbo who is convinced that she's dying from swine flu. She's been watching coverage of the illness on videos of The Today Show and this morning asked me if I was aware that "swine flu had come to Georgia." My lack of running around in circles and screaming out of concern for her impending death did not much please her. She didn't laugh at all when I offered to don black clothing and wail like a banshee when the time did come to bid her farewell down the River Styx.

The Dancer, who drives Garbo to school each morning isn't helping matters by teasing her and telling Garbo that her nose is looking more porcine with each passing day. Garbo really is ill with a nasty cough, slight fever, stuffy nose and general blechiness that she caught from the germ ridden little goobers with whom she goes to school, but my highly specialized doctoring skills tell me that it's not worthy of wearing masks, no matter how fun and fashionable that would be.

The Actor has started to bark like Garbo. Naturally. He's been a barrel of laughs, first with a nasty case of poison ivy, then the stitches after an ill-fated balancing act on some pole during his walk to school. If he catches what Garbo has, it'll be ten times worse because that boy doesn't do anything small.

The Dancer has been battling her Achilles heel - literally. After several trips to the podiatrist for an exam and initial taping up (which I lovingly refer to as dinner and a show because her doctor is a multi-talented scream), follow up taping, then a visit to the general practitioner to see about an ugly rash left by the tape......all because she's in pain from DANCING ON HER TOES FOR HOURS A DAY! I mean, who knew that pushing the human body to its limits would cause one pain? At least her pain provides us the amusement of a daily visit from the basement when she brings her fancy orthopedic sling sock upstairs and utters those now famous words "Daddy, will you strap me in?" while I sit quietly chortling to myself, stifling strap on jokes that wouldn't make anyone but me laugh anyway.

The upside to The Dancer's rash and The Actor's poison ivy is that we have this steroid cream in the house that seems to have taken care of my unexplained and embarrassing rash. Me - talk to a doctor about that? Are you kidding?

MathMan is barking, too, when he's not messing with a crown that's come loose, that is. I look at him and he's all twitchy around his mouth as he tries to force the damn thing to stay in place. The real fun starts when he sneezes and has to catch the crown as it flies from his mouth. Hell, I'm afraid to kiss him for fear that I'll end up with an extra tooth in my head. Ewwwww! I know.

(At this point she rereads this post and realizes that this is exactly why she used to refrain from asking her grandparents how they were - they would tell you in excruciating detail, cataloging each pain, describing every ache, recounting lively tales of visits to any number of doctors offices and pharmacies, listing all medicines and their exact per dosage costs, and whipping out a slide projector to present supporting evidence of each ooze, drain, wound, hack into a tissue and bowel movement.)

While I'm at it, I will tell you that the contraband kitties remain petulantly confined to the basement, fighting over a coveted spot on The Dancer's bed and jockeying to be the first to climb onto the window sills when the blinds are raised and the windows flung open, complaining loudly at the door to be allowed to roam free in the upper floors of the house and behaving in a generally confused manner each evening when they are finally allowed to explore upstairs. They do that flattened out cat thing where they get all low to the ground and hold their ears high, checking for danger, I guess. Goofballs.

At the moment, aside from that itchy itch that I've now conquered, I'm doing well. I'm perpetually tired, but I've just accepted this as a way of being. I know the culprit - me. Too little sleep, a near starvation diet and not enough exercise. I don't even need my super specialized doctoring skills for that diagnosis.

Tonight I probably won't get the rest I need either. See, tomorrow is The Dancer's eighteenth birthday. I've been planning something quite special to celebrate and it's not going to lend itself terribly well to getting a good night's rest. But that's okay. My girl doesn't turn eighteen every day.

I've spent the last hour preparing the living room to look exactly like our apartment on Claremont Avenue in Chicago circa 1991. This is where labor started and where I remained through early labor. I've arranged the master bedroom to mimic the birthing room at Rush North Shore Hospital where The Dancer was born at exactly 1pm on May 7th.

As I re-enact the labor, delivery, and recovery I plan to walk the floors holding my back, watch the dvds of Northern Exposure and Working Girl that I rented for just this occasion, munch ice chips, pee twenty times, take showers, wake MathMan repeatedly to ask him "Do you think this could be it," lean over a bed and groan loudly that this back labor is not fun anymore while someone rolls tennis balls across my spine, pull my lower lip over my head and then throw up from the pain, inexpertly stick needles into my hands in an desperate attempt to insert an IV, and then, in an exhausted state, begging for pain medication and threatening to punch the next person who tells me to push one more time, finally giving up and shoving a vacuum into my vagina to suck out........well, whatever represents The newborn Dancer. Because as flattered as she was when I told her that I want to make a big deal out of her birthday, she refused to take part in the re-enactment when I explained my plan.

"No, no, hell no," came her stern refusal.

"But you can play the part of the midwife," I offered hopefully, smiling vaguely at the recollection of that day. It's true. You really do forget the pain*.

"No, mother. The whole thing is just......weird." And that was that.

I sat glumly, picking at lint on my Old Navy slacks. "Okay," I said. "But remind me to ask Daddy if he knows where the big silver mixing bowl is. I haven't seen it since we unpacked."

The Dancer stared at me silently, trying to read my face. "Why do you need the silver mixing bowl?" she asked slowly, almost afraid to know the answer.

I stood up and started rooting through the cabinets, searching for the bowl. "Because after you were born, that's what they put your placenta in. Daddy loves to tell that story...." I paused to see what she was doing after a thump diverted me away from my search. An overturned chair was all that greeted my questioning glance...........

*lie - you never forget. And if you're smart, you never let them forget either.


  1. I will never forget that silver colored bowl. Finally, I asked about it when the baby was born I got the placenta learning lesson from the midwife.

    I am very proud of your daughter. And I hope she has a happy birthday.

  2. Jeeze, Lisa, have you considered investing in a dozen limes, a small bottle of Cointreau and a large bottle of tequila?
    I find that a visit to my Latina friend Margarita during ebbs in my life tends to snap me out of it.
    Double up on the tequila to make my signature cocktail, the Fuckitall.

  3. Karen, I'm writing down that recipe. The Fuckitall!

    Lisa, this was a most entertaining post for me. I love your family as if it were my own. Only I get to live out here in the garage, and just hear the stories and howl with laughter. For god's sake don't let the actor's hacking cough wake me up.

    That description of the cats coming upstairs all flattened out and looking around as if in a strange land and not knowing what danger lurks. Great stuff.

    I think you should tape the birthing and you tube it. At the very least post it.

    Happy Birthday Dancer!

    Garbo, I have a bad cough too (cough cough) and can't catch the slightest sympathy either. What's wrong with this cruel cruel world? Press back of you hand to your forehead and look pitiful.

  4. oh, you have such a way with words..........

  5. Sod re-enacting the delivery! You know the best thing you can do is suck down a jug of Fuckitall's with Mathman and re-enact The Dancer's conception....

  6. 18 years old! Wow - happy birthday to the dancing daughter.

    I have no time to comment, despite the hour, I am rummaging around for that damn Cointreau. I need something to get myself going and Karen has provided the recipe!

  7. Great post

    Say Happy Birthday to The Dancer xxx

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  9. Grandparent's cataloging of ailments.That is what my mother has always referred to as an "organ recital."

  10. I remember when my first one (Sweetie) was born on May 14, 1980. The main lesson I learned that day was to just leave CC (my lovely wife) alone. I would watch the fetal monitor and say “Here comes another one (contraction) and she would scream “I KNOW!!!! YOU DON”T HAVE TO TELL ME!” I would try to just pat her on the arm, head, wherever, and I would here “Please don’t touch me.”

    When the second one (The Swimmer) was born, I had learned my lesson. After we got checked into the hospital, and CC was situated in the labor room, I went down, bought a few magazines (making sure Playboy was not one of them) and kept to myself. After it was all over, it was a much better experience than the first (we never said a harsh word at all!)

    Happy Birthday to the Dancer.

    Oh, and push one more time.

  11. The tales of your day/life are so captivating, it's the way you weave a story dear Lisa, never stop.
    I hope Garbo is feeling a bit better, that nasty cold is making its way around town here.......ugh.
    Happy Birthday to The Dancer........18, gosh I know it's a big thing, and HS graduation soon.......I'm too gushy, get the tissues! The birth re-enactment is priceless, and hell no never let them forget!
    My parents give the explicit aches/pains/woes when asked, they are 81 and 84, and some days, I just don't ask much.

  12. Heh. Either sitcom writers or financing a therapist's swimming pool.;-)

    Anyway, Happy Birthday to The Dancer, and hope the orthopedist can work magic on that tendon (dancers get a lot of injuries, and dancing through pain is an occupational hazard).

  13. I saw on the news the other day that some women are now freeze drying their placentas and popping them in pill form to prevent post partum depression. Can you believe it? To paraphrase Faulkner, between placenta and Fukitall, I'll choose Fukitall.

  14. Hmm looks like my cocktail recipe was a hit!
    Give the Dancer a big glass of it for her birthday--it's never too soon to start killing off brain cells.

  15. My baby sister was born today, too. She's 30 so I made a bday video for her. We lost our mother 10 years ago, so I have become the matriarch of our family, and to my little sister Scary, huh?). Hell, I'm old enough to be here mother (if I were a scandalous 14 year old teen mother).
    Anyway, today's a sad day for me, and I think it may have something to do with our age bracket. The highs and lows suck.

  16. I think this reenactment gig is merely a ploy for some late night naughty nurse roleplaying with mathman. Either that or you really enjoy disturbing the children.

  17. I just love your vivd descriptions of family life. Re-visiting the birth of The Dancer is the greatest. I just remind my kids constantly, that I pee myself because of THEM!!!

  18. Oh, Randal, Randal...Of COURSE she enjoys disturbing the children. It's all we have left to entertain ourselves.

    I pee myself because of THEM!!! Amen, sister. Amen.

  19. At this point she rereads this post and realizes that this is exactly why she used to refrain from asking her grandparents how they were - they would tell you in excruciating detail, cataloging each pain, describing every ache, recounting lively tales of visits to any number of doctors offices and pharmacies, listing all medicines and their exact per dosage costs, and whipping out a slide projector to present supporting evidence of each ooze, drain, wound, hack into a tissue and bowel movement.:)

    Once you start yelling at the clouds then you'll know you really crossed over into the geriatic set.

  20. Wow - that was touching in so many ways to a sentimental mick like me. Claire's birth was a crescent moon, Sarah's Good friday, Eamonn's was watching Law and Order in the birthing room, Seany avoided being called Seamus cause we had time to talk at the red light by Mercy hospital, Mike's was a tidal wave of fluid everywhere and Ronan's was the only birth in which Kathleen didn't called anyone, even me, a motherfucker ! You broke my heart and built it up again with this post lady, unbelievable !!!

  21. "Life doesn't line up . . ." Wow. How true. At the same time, I read all sorts of lines converging on something like, if not happiness, at least some kind of peace. Or am I reading too much?

    Happy B'day to the young lady. Eighteen. Sad thing is, I know you and I both remember being eighteen, and now you have a kid that age. Just think, she'll get all nostalgic someday about the late aughts.

  22. Happy birthday to the Dancer!

    And in this family everything feels cross-threaded, 15 degrees off, out of balance, tipped, dizzy, and weird until we're repeating the first season in a new house - so over a year... Not sure if that's what you're feeling, but hey, you've changing a lot more than just your house in recent months. You ought to feel upside down and inside out.

    And speaking of labor, that bit with the insides-out in the bowl was over the top. What is with these big silver bowls? We never use them for cooking in this house because they're always put bedside when someone has the stomach flu...

  23. Well one thing's for sure, the Dancer will always remember her 18th birthday. Must add: my mother made the mistake of mentioning that she had no labor pains for me and my brother. She went to the hospital the day I was born complaining of indigestion. The nurses laughed, but when she said it was her due date they grudgingly agreed to check. She was already at six centimeters. Then they gave her some really good drugs (that gave her amnesia so she couldn't remember the pain) and that was it. I pointed out that this meant that I was born without original sin--I caused my mother no pain (that she could remember) during child birth. She has since changed the story.

  24. Happy Birthday Dancer.. Bless you mom.. you deserve the credit and dad.. you deserve the blame..isn't that the way it Nah.. bless you both, you have a beautiful daughter.. well you have 2 but today is the birthday girls.. so she is special today.

    You are funny, bright and witty Lisa and I love your writing. You need to see about getting them published. Seriously. Think about it.

  25. Happy Birthday to the Dancer.

    My stomach still hurts from laughing and I need to find a pen to write down the recipe.

  26. Just curious - did you make up the reenactment thing to ensure your girl appreciated whatever you actually planned for her? Please say yes. [Happy birthday to her!]

    And FYI, I am convinced the wonkiness in the world these days is due to the full moon on Saturday (not to be confused with Duran Duran's full moon on Monday).

  27. Next time my son shows up for his birthday maybe I'll try to recreate the cave where he was born. It was a long time ago..

  28. I'm late, but I'm here. Is it too late to get a Fuckitall, Zipdrive?

    And Lisa, you're evil. Just plain evil. But then, the Dancer deserves it!

  29. Oh my gosh, I'm cracking up here!--you are sooo mean to your kids! LOL! :)

  30. Great post and love your comment about the geriatric descriptions of health problems. I've been dealing with that a lot recently (my geriatric aunt's problems, not my own, although i could tell a few tales too).

    I can imagine the Dancer's reaction when you suggested a birth re-enactment!

  31. You shouldn't be so flippant. A case of general blechiness shouldn't be taken lightly! Left untreated, it could become a nasty case of the heebie jeebies.

    Trust me, I'm doctor. I know about these things.


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