Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Love Story

He could see from the corner of his eye that she had that stubborn grin on her face again. "Just buckle up. I don't care about you, but I'm not getting a ticket." She'd probably cave eventually, but she always had to fight everything. He could smile at her, show that he was amused, and that would be that. But she wasn't the only one who knew how to be obstinate.
"I don't know if you've noticed," she shot back, "but we're in the middle of no where. I highly doubt you're going to get pulled over. Unless... Uh-oh, I didn't think about this: What if the farm boys have started their own vigilante traffic patrol? Sure hope this thing can outrun a John Deere." It was always something. She did it just to show him how independent she was. And he usually punched her to show her the consequences of independence.
He took a deep breath and studied her profile in the fading light. They had gone shopping all afternoon so she was dressed a little nicer than usual. That was the main reason he agreed to go on these trips. The always started out as a trip to get a new video game or CD and ended up with him sitting on a bench in the middle of the mall while she tried on way too many ugly things. Today had been a little different though. Summer was quickly approaching and she wanted a new bathing suit. He definitely had an opinion on that topic.
It had been a bleak afternoon. Evening wasn't looking any more promising. The sky was an unbroken shade of grey and a fine mist made everything just wet enough to be uncomfortable. It was nothing like the hours they spent playing in the lake. Splashing like children, trying to drown each other. Hot sun sparkling on the beads of water that ran down her smooth bare skin. Last summer it had been what he lived for. He had had the worst summer job ever, but he knew when he was through he could stop by the tiny party store where she worked and have a popsicle. Frozen sugar water was great, but that wasn't really what he found so refreshing. And when she was done, they'd swim.
He slugged her in the arm. Hard. That ought to wipe the smirk of her face. He never held back a whole lot when he did that. He would hit his brother just as hard. And he suspected she appreciated that. What she didn't know was that sometimes when he slammed her into a wall he wasn't sure if he really wanted to tear her clothes off or just keep slamming his fists into her face until things started to crunch. Either way the emotions infuriated him. She was a tease for even speaking to him when she belonged to someone else. But whatever kind of twisted friendship they had, it was somehow worth the torment.
He spent many quiet moments wishing he could go back in time. If he had been out riding his bike around the block instead of playing Mario in the basement, he would have met her first. At least he would have seen her first. He probably wouldn't have spoken to her because he never dreamed a girl could actually be so interesting. He'd had the same thoughts and feelings as every other boy his age, but girls just always seemed so shallow. If they didn't take the time to get to know him, their loss. Unfortunately, no one ever did. Until her.
"Put the belt on. I'm not going to say it again." Now there was another look in her eye that he wasn't quite sure how to interpret. He had a pretty good idea though. He reached across her to grab the seat belt and the back of his fingers brushed her thigh. They both went awkwardly stiff and her cheeks glowed pink. She felt it, too. Such a light touch for such a strong reaction. It was maddening. It was wonderful.
He was watching her pointedly not watching him when the deer sprang into their path. He knew better than to swerve to miss it but his rationality was very far away. The slick road offered little purchase at that speed. Time slowed to a near halt. Little fragments of crimson glass floated past him. He had time to wonder at their color. And then his body ached and he was alone in the car.
He found her twisted body in the brush several yards away. There was no need to check for a pulse. For a moment he froze, his mind unable to process the scene in front of him. It looked like something from the horror movie they had gone to last weekend. When it finally came, the realization crashed down on him in an avalanche of pain and fury. He tipped back his head and released it all: the love, the hate, the frustration and rage. He screamed for the loss of something he never had. He screamed until his throat and chest burned, until he couldn't utter a sound. No one heard his cry but the birds in the trees along the road, and they flapped away in fear.
He didn't remember lifting her tiny frame or setting her gently in the back seat. He didn't even know where he was going until he was there. He put the car in neutral. Gravity would see to the rest. Their cold, black lake at the bottom of the hill was getting slowly closer as he climbed over the seat to hold her. With all the tenderness he'd never dared to show before, her cradled her beautiful, blood-soaked face and pressed his lips to hers. He had never experienced a moment so perfect, so right as this one; the very last one.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cup of the Day

You remember those charts of strata from 6th grade geography? I thought of them yesterday when I went to put my coffee cup in the sink....

a. I pour my coffee and get out the cereal I want, but now it's time for second helpings of pancakes for both boys, the dog needs more water, and Bryan forgot how much milk to use in his scrambled eggs. By then the boys are finished eating and need their hands and faces washed. My cereal is mush, and the coffee gets its first reheat in the microwave.

b. World War III breaks out over a toy that no one likes. It's an empty plastic container that blocks go in, only all the blocks have been lost or eaten by the dog. Normally it just wastes space in the over flowing toy box, but today for some reason Lucan has decided it's his new buddy. And because it's suddenly special to Lu, Declan has decided it's going to be a lunch box in his imaginary game, and babies can't touch lunch boxes. I pull them apart, although Lucan's grip on his big brother's hair secretly impresses me. I start singing an improv'd song about sharing. "This is the way we share our toys, share our toys, share toys...So Mommy doesn't makes us stand in the cooooooooooorner." Whether they've learned a lesson, or because they just want me to stop singing, the fight is finished. Second reheat.
c. Bryan is heading out the door for work. He can't find his ID badge and is sure he had more cash in his wallet. Did I happen take some? (What? Never...) The shoes that I (*gasp*) put away have to be located, as well. Declan has to have his handful of farewell Nerd candies, and Lucan needs 14 hugs. Two minutes later the car comes barreling back into the driveway. He forgot that ID badge. Fourteen more hugs and it's time for a reheat.

d. Nap time! Mommy does the happy dance! I put the boys to bed and sit down at the computer for some alone time. I can hear, quite clearly, thumping and singing coming from Declan's room, but we'll both pretend he's actually sleeping. I'm just going to check a couple posts and see if I have messages. Two and a half hours later, I have let the fire in the wood stove burn out and my coffee is frigid. Another trip to the microwave!

e. Cooking, eating, and cleaning up from dinner takes up a big chunk of the evening hours. I make a casserole, but Declan wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If I make him one, I have to make Lucan one, too. He can't be left out of anything. So I make two sandwiches and give them to the boys, then fill my plate with the casserole and veggies. Grumbling in my mind about little boys who can't ever eat what I make, I sit down. Suddenly MY plate is the only one of interest. Lucan starts whining and hanging his mouth wide open like a baby bird. I look up, and Declan is kneeling on the table, bent over, his big begging eyes about two inches from my face. I guess he wants a bite, too. There's a lot of juggling, a lot of arguing, but eventually I get everyone satisfied and warm that coffee up again.

f. The boys are tucked into bed, the laundry is folded, the toys in the center of the living room have been discretely kicked to the edges. I sit back down at the computer and spy my almost-empty mug. The cream and whatever else has congealed and left a film on the surface of the coffee. It's disgusting. But I sure do like the taste of coffee. I use a rolled up envelope from some bill that's undoubtedly late to scrape the skin off. Good as new! That last swallow is cold, but sort of hits the spot anyway.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wasting Time 101

Up until last week, I honestly only pretended to be busy. It makes you look mature, and keeps people from asking you to do things for them.

"Chelsey, how have you been?"

"Ugh, great, but so busy! You know how it is with little ones. Never a moment to spare!"

I hope video phones are never invented. Screw Star Trek. I like wearing my bathrobe all day.

Now, you don't have to admit to me if you know exactly what I'm talking about. But I have just the thing if you're looking for a way to fill those mindless, empty hours in your day. I found it about a month ago at I think it goes without saying that this is, indeed, a very addicting game. I've spent hours and hours trying to make it just one more level. I turned Bryan on to it, and now he plays it at work. My top score is like 1100 so far. He came home last night and told me he made it to level 5 with 3351 points. That bastard! I hate him!

Are you ready? Nothing is on the stove? No water running for a bath? You let the dog back in, and the kids are safely contained in a play area or sleeping? Ok! Have Fun!

Oh...If you beat my score, you darn well better keep it to yourself!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What's THAT all about, anyway?

I feel like I should probably explain about all this dragon poop, huh? Like many of the weird elements in my daily life, this one is courtesy of Declan. It all started with his Halloween costume last fall. This was the first year I let him have any input on his outfit, and he zeroed right in on that red monstrosity. To be honest, he thought it was a dinosaur at first, but as a closet nerd, I had to set the record straight.

Normally I buy his costume and set it aside until trick-or-treat night. Not this year. He had that thing out of the bag the moment we walked through the front door. For two weeks, he put it on almost every day. He insisted on wearing it on shopping trips, even on the days when it was unseasonably warm and sweat soaked his hair. By the time Halloween rolled around, I had washed the costume several times.

In a lot of stories (Think, The Hobbit), dragons are vain creatures. My little Decky Dragon certainly fit the bill! The first day, he spent the entire afternoon in my room, stomping in front of a mirror. He made scary faces, checked out his claws, turned around to see the tail and wings, and then checked out his claws again. There was a lot of roaring coming from upstairs.

Then, somehow, for some reason, it dawned on him that dragons poop. Without any kind of announcement, he squatted down in the middle of the kitchen and yelled, “Pooooop!”

“What?!” I thought maybe he’d had some sort of regression and had just taken a dump in his undies.

“Look!” He explained, pointing to a blank spot on the floor. “I’m a dragon. I just pooped.”

He looked up at me with a huge expectant smile. Oh! I get what he wants.

“Dragon!! Grooooooosssssssss!! Get that out of here!”

And with a giant burst of giggles, a new game was born. Even without the red suit, a little dragon cuts in front of me when I’m opening the fridge and drops a deuce right there between me and the veggie crisper. “Hahaha! You stepped in it!” Sometimes the dragon is clever, and poops right behind my feet when I’m changing the baby. Then I have to step in it when I back up. Declan the Dragon is sometimes extra ambitious, and will run all over the room leaving a mine field you just can’t dodge your way through.

One day I decided to retaliate. Instead of acting grossed out, I picked up some imaginary dukey and told him to eat it. Hahahaha!! Oh the triumph of seeing Dec throw his head back in disgust! Then, of course, he tried to turn the tables. Before long, we were tricking each other into eating imaginary sandwiches (“Try it. It has tomatoes and lettuce – your favorite!”) and candy and drinks… all spiked with feces ala dragon! I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty crafty. But so is that stinky ol’ dragon. It’s ok, though. I don’t mind dragon poop in my latte. What do you think makes the mac-n-cheese taste so good? =D

The Honeymoon Is Over

This was originally from my CM journal on 12-09-08. Apologies if you've already seen it! Since it's 1:00 AM and I'm not feeling very creative, I thought I'd just throw this up for now. It still makes ME choke up when I read it! lol

I was having a good soak in the bathtub one night last week when a certain phrase popped into my head. "Looks like the honeymoon is over." I have always been mystified by it. What exactly does that mean? It's always stated by some smirking, middle-aged, married person with a misery-loves-company face. As if he or she is pleased to see that detestable marital bliss finally go out the window. Hah! Now the two of you can hate eachother, pick apart every flaw, and make snide and demeaning comments over dinner. Welcome to the club!

What kind of an outlook is that? These people think that everyone goes through a "phase" where they actually like one another. Then that goes down the crapper and "real" marriage begins. The chore called holy matrimony.

If you knew going into a relationship, a union of such monumental proportions, that it was going to be like that, why would you do it? I certainly wouldn't. And yet I hear that phrase tossed around everywhere. I ask Bryan to go get one last thing out of the car after he's already made three trips. He rolls his eyes and huffs as he grabs the keys. Uncle Bob chuckles and says, "Oh-ho! Looks like the honeymoon's over, eh, kids?" Yes. Because Bryan's annoyed by repetition and wasted effort, we now see our true selves and hate one another. Are you kidding me?

Maybe Unlce Bob is just using the phrase incorrectly. So what would it actually mean for the honeymoon to be over? Most people these days date for a long time before getting engaged. Then they're engaged for a couple years, because weddings are too elaborate to be planned quickly any more. Chances are, the couple has lived together for months if not years before sharing a last name. That gah-gah moonstruck period of initial infatuation is long gone. "Puppy love," my Grandma calls it. I get that that part ends. Thank God, right? Mushy gushy, do-no-wrong couples make me want to hurl. They're like one of those MTV reality shows where everything is fake and scripted. No one is buying it, and I don't want to watch. So is this the "honeymoon" people are talking about? If it is, then yeah, Bob's not using the phrase appropriately. We're long past that.

I've been waiting. For over five years now, I've been waiting for that matrimonial foot to drop. The curtains to open. The scales to be removed from my eyes. (Side tangent - what the hell are scales doing in eyes anyway? The Apostle Paul has some explaining to do.) One of these days I'll wake up and understand what everyone is talking about. And that's what I thought had finally happened the other day in the tub.

I had decided to take a bath shortly before the time Bryan got home from work. As it got closer and closer to his normal ETA, I came up with a plan. Instead of getting out and ready for bed, I'd just linger a little longer. He'd wonder where I was and find me naked and warm, nonchalantly posed while reading my book. Oh, hello, dear. Are you home already? Oops, are those my breasts peeking out of the water? It was a great plan.

I heard him unlock the front door and come in, and hurried to cross my legs. Gotta play coy.
I heard rustling around as he took off his boots and set his wallet on the counter. Footsteps. More footsteps. Ok, now he's making a bottle for if the baby wakes up in the night. And now the TV is on. Well, he'll notice soon. That's what I thought, but nope. I sat in that bath until things began to wrinkle that I didn't even know were capable of it. Now freezing, I dragged myself out of the water and headed up to the bedroom. I shot a glare over at him, sitting there on the couch with a dumb grin on his face over some comedian, as I went past. Now I get it. Now I know what it means. This sucks! Our honeymoon really is over.

But then I paused for just a second to look again. There was my handsome man slumped into the cushions. Even though he was smiling, his face looked so worn out. I'd been sick all week, so he'd taken on the middle of night feeding and morning chores all by himself. That's on top of working, commuting three hours a day, paying the bills, and chopping wood to heat our house. Could I really blame the guy for collapsing when he got home at 1:00 in the morning?

Come to think of it, this is actually a lot like our real honeymoon. Our Big Day followed a crazy, emotional year for me. My parents' divorced was finalized the month before we got married. Planning had been filled with so many awkward situations, so many disputes. There was a budget that dwindled every day, but a guest list that kept growing. I had a maid-of-honor that lived on the other side of the country, an MIA mother, and a collection of girlfriends who were concentrating on high school finals. I don't think I need to go into details about the wedding day itself. It was wonderful despite all, but still...longest day of my life.

Our honeymoon in Mexico was beautiful. We swam in the ocean, we explored Mayan ruinas, we shopped and stayed up all night just to take advantage of our resort's 24-hour pizza bar. We even took a bus, to a cab, to a dirt road, and then walked three miles just to get back to a gorgeous deep lagoon where we could snorkel all by ourselves. But as charming and lovely as it all was, I was still in some sort of shock and still feeling the pressure. I had to put on a sexy new negligee every night. What kind of losers wouldn't blow the roof off each night of their honeymoon? One night I came out of the bathroom and climbed into bed and just started bawling. Four nights before, I had been snuggled in bed one last time with my little sisters. That night I had options. I could live at home and keep going to community college, I could go off to a university, I could live with friends, I could even get married if I wanted to. But that night in Mexico it dawned on me that the options were all gone. Happy or not, this was my new life FOREVER.

My new husband, himself going through the same drastic changes, held me close and told me it was all going to be alright. We were going to be happy. We would take care of each other always, whatever new adventures life threw in our path. He even told me I could go off to college and stay in a dorm if that's what I wanted - he wasn't going anywhere. Surrounded by his strong arms and calm reassurance, I just let all the pressure and frustration and trepidation that had been building for so long pour out of me in a storm of tears. I cried until I was a clean slate, a happily blank page inside, and drifted off to sleep nestled against Bryan's chest. It was by far the best night of the trip.

Looking at my failed seduction and the weary guy across the room, I had to admit I'd been wrong. Our honeymoon wasn't over. We were still scared, struggling, flawed little children trying to figure this whole thing out. And I knew that when we crawled into bed in a little while, I would pull Bryan close to me and hold him and thank him for all he does. And as we drifted into sleep together, I knew that this kind of honeymoon would never end.

Get this straight!

First of all, I don't blog. That's what....trendy I'm not trendy. Yes, this looks and sounds an awful lot like a blog. But taste it. See? It tastes like dragon poo, the very essence of my life. Magical, yet oh so naturally mundane. So we'll refer to this as Chelsey's "log" or "bog" or "online thought pile." Agreed?

Second issue: Due credit. First to Meg for coming up with a plan today that I just couldn't turn down. I got so excited after her email that I had to go tell my parents. It felt exactly like saying, "Hey, guys, I got new crayons. Guess what I'm going to make!" With the genuine enthusiasm of a 6-year-old with fresh Crayola's and a blank pad of paper, too!

A great amount of credit goes to my girls on Cafe Mom. Actually, all of it. Once upon a time, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. But the "real world" kicked in and I've hardly written or spoken a non-essential word since then. Then one day I stumbled upon a group of women just like me who tell me things like, "Haha! That's funny!" Seriously, that feels good! Then you have the goofballs who bust out, "Can't wait to see you on Oprah." That makes me laugh and roll my eyes, but it's encouraging, too. All the little comments, all the little e-pats on my cyber back have made me dig deeper and find the words that have been buried so long. They're my words, but they're for you girls. Thank you for all you've done!

I think that's about all we need to cover right now. Now I need to get to work on this blo..... uuuuhhhh, compilation of excerpts from my life. Enjoy!