Posted by: ohmypuddin | November 13, 2016

Dear Americans,

We gotta talk.

This week has not gone as I’d hoped it would. I’m pretty bummed about it. Like many others, I’ve cried, I’ve hugged, I’ve despaired.

And I’ve been asked, why are you doing these things?

I finally figured out why – I thought, as a country, we valued equality, and treating everyone the same. I thought we valued the rights of women and minorities. I thought we valued those who’ve served. I thought we all thought that women shouldn’t be harassed or violated. I thought this was a nation built on accepting others. I thought this was a nation built by underdogs, for underdogs.

But what I didn’t consider is that, while most of us value these things, some hold other values higher. Those who’ve been hit by the recession and never recovered. Those who are paying high prices for things like healthcare. Those who’ve felt disenfranchised.

I didn’t think about that. And that’s on me, and only me.

But by electing Trump, those who wanted change have endorsed something else – they’ve endorsed a bully. They elected a man who, time after time, denigrated women, minorities, gay people, those with disabilities.

Some of you weren’t voting for those qualities. But by voting for the man, we’ve endorsed those qualities. And this isn’t just a vague feeling I have about his character – he’s said all of those things during his campaign. That’s undeniable.

So what’s happening now?

Racism. Harassment. Hate.

I’ve been told that to get through this, I need to understand the other side. So I’m trying to do that. But it’s become hard for me to do, because I’m mad.

No, I’m really mad. Strike that – I’m fucking pissed.

I’m pissed that the world thinks we’re a joke and we’re run by a reality star. I’m pissed that equal rights lost, and bullies won. I’m pissed that – even though the majority of voting Americans didn’t choose Trump – he gets the job of leading our awesome country.

Am I going to lead an uprising, a revolt, a riot? No. According to our laws, Trump won. He is President-elect. I don’t like it, but that’s how it shakes out.

But boy am I pissed.

So I’m channeling that anger into action. I’m giving money to groups that help those who need it right now. I’m going to volunteer. I’m going to call my representatives. I’m going to make sure we have more Democrats, more women, more minorities on the ticket next time. I will join groups and show support, and I will make it more than lip service.

I will be an ally. I will love more fiercely and fight more brutally than I ever have before. I will examine my own privilege, and try to use it to make the world better. And boy, do I have a lot of privilege. So much. And when I think about my own biases and privilege, I know I have to know it, learn from it, and use it.

I will, more than ever before, be a nasty woman.

I will speak up when something is wrong. I will get involved when I see someone being harassed or hurt. I will be uncomfortable sometimes, but I will get over it. I will be scared sometimes, even online, because being a woman on the internet can be scary. I will read those stories of how other people are hurting, because it will keep reminding me of what is at stake.

President-elect Trump wants to close our borders and stay inside ourselves. I will reach outside of myself and help those who need it now.

If you thought I was outspoken and loud before, brace yourself.

I’m about to be a real nasty woman.

And I am not alone.

Posted by: ohmypuddin | August 27, 2014

Dear baby

Right now, you are a few months from being born. It feels like you’ve been with me for a very long time now, and you aren’t even born yet.

Baby, you sleep so much! But when you are awake, you are very awake. You alertness is apparent. You punch and kick different parts of my body constantly. I can see my stomach pop out and jump with your movements. Sometimes, I picture you beating the walls of my uterus in boredom. Sometimes, I think you’re pounding your way out in frustration, just dying to get out.

You know the feeling on a roller coaster, when it drops? That’s what it feels like sometimes, except I’m not moving. In those moments, I picture you doing flips inside of me. You’re still so small and agile – I imagine you diving and pinballing around in me. I think you do this in moments of joy, like when I eat ice cream or cry from peals of laughter.

In the mornings, I walk, while the sun rises and the deer are jumping and the bunnies are hopping. I walk on the trail and try to enjoy the little bit of cool temperatures, the not-heat of the morning. You aren’t very active when I walk, baby, not for hours. I picture you being rocked back and forth with my steps, lulled into sleep. I imagine it’s like being on a cruise ship, with gentle rocking and the faint sound of water.

I talk to you sometimes. Can you hear me? Do you recognize that it’s me? Your dad likes to talk to my belly button, which is connected to your belly button. I imagine you feeling buzzing and tickling through it when he talks to you, making you laugh maybe. He reads you baby books, or parenting books that we need to read anyway. So we’re all learning how to be parents to you, including you. I sing in the car, not very well, and your dad whistles a lot. Can you hear us in there?

I imagine it’s like being in the belly of a whale, where you are. I got a massage the other day, and you kicked and kicked. The massive amount of fluid in my body was redistributed with that massage – I imagine it whooshing and sloshing around you, maybe surprising you. Were you scrambling to get out of the way? Were you scared?

My favorite dress these days is a green knit. It occurred to me when I wear it, I’m like the Hulk – I grow bigger, I have fits of rage, and I’m green. I wear dresses every day. I haven’t worn pants in months. It’s just too hot for them. And I am hot all of the time, physically and emotionally. I can’t remember being cold anymore, and I am easily angered. I sweat constantly. I’m covered in the oily residue of dried sweat, always.

These days, my eyes tear up easily. Sometimes with sadness, from a cheesy movie. But most often, it’s from laughter. I find so many things funny these days, and I often laugh until I can’t make sounds. I cry my eye makeup off and sweat a little bit. Sometimes I can’t stop laughing at all. I laugh at my own jokes, then I laugh when other people laugh. It’s an endless cycle of laughter. And sometimes I cry when I think about you. The hormones you have put into my body make me sentimental. We took a tour of the hospital where you will be born, and it occurred to me that you might be born in the room I was standing in, and I almost lost it, right in the middle of the tour. Such is my life these days.

I picture you like a lump of clay, a solid mass. I imagine that with everything I do, every plan I make, every piece of furniture I buy, I’m shaping you a little bit, making you into the person you will become. And your father too. And when you’re born, you’ll take shape even more. And eventually, you’ll push our hands away and start shaping yourself.

Morning and night, I slather my belly with lotions and creams and oils, yet it does no good. The purple and red tiger stripes race across my skin, etching creeping. Sometimes I fret over them, sometimes I just shrug and accept it. These are the marks of you on me.

I’m constantly astounded by how big I am in one section. If this were my foot or hand expanding over nine months, I would be concerned. But no one is concerned when it’s a baby. A baby is at once the most banal thing, and the most amazing thing in the world. That there’s a person growing inside of me, and it happens to women all of the time. Bizarre.

Sometimes, I cannot wait for you to get out, to be born. There are many things I won’t miss about being pregnant. The aches and pains, the constant swelling, the restrictions. The public nature of being pregnant, of having other people constantly question and judge me for my choices. I will be somewhat relieved when this is over. But other times, I want you to stay in here for a while longer. Now is the only time where I know where you are, all the time. Once you are born, I’ll never be certain of what’s happening with you. I won’t always be certain that you’re safe and happy. I’ll have to let you be unhappy, because I won’t always be able to control the world for you. Someday, you’ll grow up and there will be so much I won’t know about your life. But right now, I know everything about you.

Someday, you will come out and be your own person. But for now, I am your house and your home. I am where you live and breathe and sleep and eat. And even when you are born, I will still be your home.

Welcome home, baby.

Posted by: ohmypuddin | August 3, 2013

An Experiment: Part Three

Part One
Part Two

“Mother, you need more hobbies. You like Percy Sledge, can I say you’re a Motown fan?”

Cathy was always the formal one. I don’t know when it happened, this Mother business. She called me Mommy and Momma when she was little, like all kids, but at some point, Mother reared her head. It feels so serious, and so mocking, like she’s saying I’m not really her mother at all. Or that all I am to her is the person who birthed her. Mom and Momma feel like terms of endearment. Sally and Irene never seem snide when they call me Mom. But then again, they don’t call me much.

“I guess so. Your father was the one who loved Motown so much, not me.”

“Well, you need to say something else. What about sewing, you used to sew stuff for us.”

Sewing? A hobby? When the girls were little, sewing was a necessity. A hem here, ripped pants there. I had to make the clothes last through three girls. I had to make sure they put in five years of wear and tear. In front of me right now, hanging in my closet, are two Halloween costumes I sewed over the years – a mouse and a pumpkin. They’re made of cheap, scratchy felt, the kind that makes you sweat even when it’s frosty outside.

“You could say that, I guess.”

“What, Mother? I can’t hear you when you’re talking to your clothes.”

I turn my head to talk to Cathy, and she’s not there. Her laptop is open and glowing. I walk to the bed. She’s not in the room at all.

“Cathy? Where’d you go?”

Her voice floats in from the bathroom, muffled through the door. “I’m just using the bathroom, relax. You don’t have to keep an eye on me all the time you know.”

That’s just it though – I don’t know that. The other women from my walking group talk about letting go of their kids. About how their kids tell them about people they date, staying out all night, even people they have sex with and drugs they ingest.

My kids will always be my kids. Every time I call them and they don’t call back, I check the news for crime reports. I can’t help it. A part of me knows I’m always responsible for them. I brought them here, and I have to make sure they stay here.

Posted by: ohmypuddin | August 2, 2013

An Experiment: Part Two

Continued from here.

For some reason, I crave Cathy’s approval. The more she doesn’t give it to me, the more she snorts, mocks me, and declares my life pathetic, the more I want her to see that I’m a rational, viable adult. I don’t know why. Sally and Irene both treat me like a regular mom, and I never feel like I’m performing for them. It’s only Cathy. She makes me tear my hair out and scream and yet, she’s the one I call when I need help. Because she’ll be brutally honest with me, which is what I need right now.

So she lounges on my bed, the bed that I shared not that long ago with her father. She types out my online dating profile. She’s making me better, she says. She takes my occasional hikes in the park and turns it into a love of nature, my one remaining loner cat into a caring pet owner. As much as she acts like she pities me, Cathy makes me sound like a kind, warm woman, capable of loving and being loved. Which I suppose I am.

“Come the weekend, you can usually find me relaxing with a cup of green tea at my local coffee shop. I like to support local stores when I can…”

Hearing her read my airbrushed life makes me uncomfortable. I sit at my dressing table and start organizing the atomizers. Not a one has any perfume left in it. They’re relics of my past. I can chart my whole life since marrying Herb by these bottles. The Chanel he bought me for our third anniversary, the Clinique Happy Cathy and Irene wrapped in old comic books for my 43rd birthday. Without these bottles to mark the events in my life, would my life cease to keep going, I wonder. Morbid thought.

Posted by: ohmypuddin | July 31, 2013

An Experiment

Here is an experiment. Enjoy.

“DTF? What does that mean?”

Cathy smirked at the laptop screen.
“It means ‘Down to Fuck.’ Are you, Mother? Down to fuck?”

Wincing, I turned to hide my face in the closet. A burning blush started at my neck and traveled up.

“Don’t be so crass, Cathy.”

“Mother, if you’re going to do online dating, you need to know the acronyms. Otherwise, you’ll be meeting a guy for what you think is a date, but is actually threesome.”

For the fourteenth time in three minutes, I regretted asking my daughter for help. I always regret asking her for help, but this time it seemed like a pretty good idea. I’ve never done this online dating and Cathy has. Since Herb died, I hadn’t thought about dating at all. I was too wrapped up in mourning him and thinking about him. But ever since I turned 60, I’ve been thinking it’d be nice to have someone in my life, to share things with.

When I called her yesterday, Cathy made me beg her for help, first laughing at me for wanting to date, then whining that she didn’t have enough time to come over and “make her mother sound like someone you’d want to take on a date.”

I know you’re supposed to love your children, but you don’t always have to like them.

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