On not taking what was never mine.

I'm having to learn to subdue the things I share.

It's a hard lesson for me, really. I have – for years now – been fairly unabashed about being totally frank about almost all aspects of my relatively insignificant life. I've talked about sex, boobs, money, illness, fears, embarrassment. Mistakes. Disappointment. I've lain myself bare over and over. It's been therapeutic, and I've never regretted anything I've said.

This year, though, my big kids entered the social stratosphere. Phones and accounts and the whole nine. Text message mothering is in full swing at the Steen/Marsh household, guys, and it's a beautiful thing.

But now that school is in session and I've realized how anything that I say can no doubt circle back full force on the kids, I feel a little…lost.

This blog is so special to me and I will never fully leave it behind, but the stories aren't just my stories anymore.

My kids deserve a face and a day to day that isn't sifted through for things to talk about, analyze, or recount. I want them to know that I, above all people, respect their rights to be who and what they are on their own two feet. They have always deserved this, and if I have violated this trust in the past then let this be my apology.

 

I will not go away.

I will still be a proud mom and I will probably still embarrass them with birthday posts or letters or general weirdness.

But I am saying this: Max, Ava – I will not steal your rights, whatever they are. Whether it's an experience, a breakthrough, a learning moment, or even a joy…

I will let you tell your own stories.

I hope that you do.

 

Sitting on go

I am unacquainted with standing by.

Apparently.

Since I have finished school, I've found myself at kind of a loss. For…well, anything.

I sit at home and listen to the alternate fighting and love of my children. I think of all the things I should be doing – laundry, writing, reading, cleaning. Making things to hang on the walls since they are all presently blank. Also, there is a strange conglomeration of 8-9 nails on the wall above my couch and I spend more time than I care to admit sitting and wondering what could have possibly ever hung there.

 

I've thought about grad school. But…what? What could I do? I'm thirty four damn years old and really I have no more idea of what I want to be when I grow up than I did when I was nine.

I thought about teaching. Praxis testing is expensive. And what happens if I do all that work and find myself in front of however many kids…and then I hate it?

Problem is, I got used to school. I got used to being occupied. I also have the fortune/misfortune of being married to a man who is always on the go, so many nights the kids and I find ourselves at home, existing through the night. I don't mind it, though. I have time to watch King of the Hill, talk about movies and games with Max, play 4,000 games of various substance with Lucy, or decipher Pretty Little Liars with Ava.

Then I think about what I'd want to do, given the chance.

I'd be creative, I'd have a different outlook on every day. I'd solve and make and do and be.

Or I'd be Beyoncé.

Anyway.

Enough. Enough with the thoughts.

 

Because of my heart

Years later, I still wonder about us.

How we’ve made it work, even when it hasn’t.

How I can possibly despise and adore you, sometimes within minutes – seconds – of each other.

Every year I remember how lucky I am to have had you for another calendar spin. With every tick of your old man clock, I am reminded of what we share every day.

People are in our lives. Everyone has people. People you see daily, people you talk to and interact with and share whatever.

But I get to share your life. Night times, deadlines, events, accomplishments. Anticipation, elation, worry and disappointment. Dirty socks and broken shoes. Car trouble and bill paying, raises and check cashing. Frustration and forgetfulness, small victories. Large victories.

Curly blond fireball tear fits, video game lessons and front seat companionships.

First tries, second tries. Last tries.

You are the first person I want to tell about anything, everything.

You are the opinion I trust and the approval I seek most.

In everything I do I see you.

We have experiences ahead. Things that will be difficult and things that we never thought we could do.

But when we do them, it will be together. And I’m so lucky to have that.

 

You’re my best friend, you’re the love I never thought existed, and it’s your birthday.

I love you.

Happy birthday.

 

 

You don’t like me and that’s okay

I have lived my life as a pleaser.

 

It was a long time in the process of growing up before anyone in my surrounding circle of acquaintances was mature enough to admit to anyone else, “I just don't like you.”

 

And the first time it happened, I was appalled. Hurt. What the hell? I'm amazing! Why would anyone consciously not like me and want to be my friend?

 

Modesty has never been a great skill of mine.

 

Over the years as I've grown into my crotchety middle age, it hasn't really gotten easier.

 

I've realized, though, that it happens.

 

You meet someone, and immediately you know how you feel about them…at least a little. Sometimes that initial impression is wrong, of course, but often it's correct. It's lasting. You can try and change it, reason it away, but sometimes your guts just don't like someone else's guts.

 

Other times the dislike is a result of action. Poor judgment on one side, the other. Both.

 

It turns out the same.

 

Sometimes auras just don't jive. The way you see the hallway may not match my perception at all, and my perception may make you angry just because it exists.

But I'm me. I refuse to apologize for being who I am. If I wrong you I admit it and apologies are certain…but I cannot feel bad about who I am as a person for the rest of my life just because of mistakes that I've made.

 

It doesn't mean I'm not worth your time. It doesn't mean you aren't great or that I'm not absolutely spectacular.

 

Sometimes you just don't like me. And that's okay.

 

Embarking

I could give you reasons I've been gone so long.

 

Except that would be stupid.

 

Cheesy as it sounds, one of my resolutions in the New Year is to reestablish myself on this blog. To do that, however, I have to convince myself I have things to say.

I do, of course I do. I think. I also have to learn to ignore “Hey Mom. Hey Mom. Mom. Hey Mom.”

Anyway, a new year. 2014.

I can't even believe that's real. I'm looking forward to the things the new year can bring, all the promise and fresh starts. I'm sure I'll be over it soon, but for now it's fun to be so full of promise.

 

Who thought up New Year's Resolutions? What sick sadist (is it sadist? Masochist? Whichever of the whips and chains likes to dole out the pain) thought it up? And why do we do it?

I accomplished some stuff in 2013. I started a new job. I gained some weight which is not so much an accomplishment as just a fact. I started watching Doctor Who and Sherlock. I finished another semester of school and now there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I love you. I promise not to suck so much this year.

 

 

Random things I contemplated putting in this post but didn't:

The Simpsons is the best show in the history of animation.

Wine is unbelievable.

I've started getting zits. Like hardcore acne. What the fuck?

I got the Depo Provera shot in August (I think) and please for the love of all that is holy please never do that to yourself.

Josh now has a whole building for the podcast. He's well on his way to being very hotshot and official.

See you soon.

 

Blank screens are depressing

Important things have passed.

My oldest turned eleven on Friday. Sunday was Father’s Day.

I choose to write first about the day of fathers today, because we all know I don’t like to think about my kids getting older and hey Max, if you’re reading this in ten years….you’re 21, let’s go get margaritas.

 

So, Father’s Day.

My father has always been a force in my life.

Sometimes a force of fear – I mean, I still don’t know what would have happened if he ever found out about senior skip day. Or all the European alcohol. Or the (totally platonic) bed full of 5 terrified people after my first viewing of The Exorcist.

Now you know, Pop. I’VE CONFESSED.

Sometimes a force of ingenuity. I’ll never forget coming home and finding my very first car in the driveway – one that he traded a gun for – and thinking that no one in the world could ever get as much shit done as my dad. Did you ever read about that one guy who traded all the stuff on Craigslist and went from something crazy like a piece of gum to a Corvette? THAT DUDE LEARNED IT ALL FROM LARRY WILKES.

Sometimes my dad has been a force of inspiration – I know that any “some assembly required” project is no problem because I am a product of my dad. My dad could assemble and rework anything ever and make it not only functional BUT KICKASS. He had a scuba store in Corinth Mississippi, people. He can do anything.

 

My life has not been perfect. But I’ve never doubted that my dad would move mountains for me.

In that, I know that I am lucky.

I’m also lucky in that my children have fathers who – while neither of them are quite on the trading-firearms-for-transportation level – love them and would do anything for them. And do. They love kids that aren’t theirs in any way except me. They love where they don’t have to. Where most don’t.

Seriously. Some people don’t have that. I see it every day and it makes me ache with gratefulness.

So even though it’s passed and even though my dad might not read this, I’m thankful for the fathers in my life. I’m lucky and I never forget that.

From the dad who gave me life to the dad I share a bed with, I know every day that I am where I am because of you.

 

Thank you.

 

The rest of away

It’s taken me a bit to somewhat process this past weekend.
(Side note, I’m watching Teen Mom 2 and this is the second one of these dumbass girls I’ve watched act like an invalid after her boob job. What the actual hell is the matter with me, watching this nonsense?)
Anyway, we spent the weekend at my first comic convention. I was prepared and not prepared – I mean, I’ve watched the documentaries and the sitcoms and read articles, nerds are weird. I know this.
But it was a good opportunity for the podcast, so I went. With Prozac. Prepared to network and schmooze.
While there’s lots to tell you about the weekend in general (like hello awesome food!, and being in the same room as Billy Dee Williams’ pee, and the time I thought I might see a man die and I acted anything but admirably), right now I want to focus on the actual event.
How it was stinky. Crowded. Germy. Confusing. And absolutely spectacular.

We had preordered our tickets (which was my first time ever to use Passbook on my phone, and I totally felt like the Jetsons with my virtual roboticket), so there wasn’t much of a wait to strap on some armbands and stand in line with pretty much every variety of person on the planet.

Seriously, this was as good as people watching gets. Costumes and pajama pants, stilettos and flip flops, and absolutely everything else imaginable. Spandex. Sequins. Feathers. Rubber. Metal. Cardboard. Want to wear some ears and a tail? Awesome. Top hat? Help yourself. Flippers with no other hint of a costume? Have some nachos.

And yeah, they stunk. Some of them did. Some of them smelled fantastic – particularly these two chicks who I’m fairly absolutely concretely certain were prostitutes. But they were all so… connected. It was such a community of all these people who mostly didn’t know each other. There was trust in so many iterations – from the toddler in his Iron Man outfit who won a sword fight with a Stormtrooper to the mom of two in her steampunk corset and bustle who didn’t give a shit what you thought about her cellulite. It was freeing just to be there, to be able to take in the attitude of acceptance.

And also…the talent. It was a grab bag of you-pick-it eeney meanie miney holy balls. I have never been in tossing distance of so much ability in my life. It was amazing and humbling and completely exciting. I still don’t really have the right words.

I am not and never have been what anyone would call a cool person. I’m not with it or hip or anything the kids like these days. And in theory, neither were these people, right?

I mean, according to the movies and high school and anything I ever learned from band camp, these are the punch lines, right? The nerds, the geeks, the people who don’t fit in.

Except these people were amazing. They were real and colorful and…themselves.

That’s it. That’s what it was.

There was no apology in any of this past weekend. No one was sorry for being whoever it was they wanted to be. It was open and obnoxious, and the most authentic experience I’ve ever had.

I met some amazing people. Made some connections I will treasure. Hopefully some of the people I met will take a turn to post here sometime soon, and I’m excited about that.

For now though, I’m still sorting through everything I learned this weekend. About myself, about my world. About comic books and zombies. About how lucky I am to realize that just because there’s no one like me doesn’t mean there’s anything to change about me.

***all photos used with permission, courtesy of Keith Reed, whom I found on the Twitters.

 

Embracing the kook within

Historically I have never been what you would call a joiner.

It's all too much, man. Too much work.

It's why I don't have friends. It's why I find my own things and bury myself in them. Hell, it's why this blog has not died a raging fiery inferno death – because I do it whenever I please and big middle finger when I don't.

But my husband, he's a joiner. He gets all up IN all kinds of shit. And he does it because he's good at it. I support that. How could I not? It makes him happy. Happy him, happy me.

So in a grand gesture of solidarity and total outside-my-comfort-zone-ness, I am donning my brand spanking new JustUsGeeks tshirt, hauling around my weight in purple bluish memefont flyers, and going to a comic & toy convention.

Yeah, that's right. You heard it here first.

 

But you know what's crazy? I'm excited. Like, stupid excited.

So by the time you read this, Josh and The Guv and I (Catch that? Did you? Yeah, I said my name and his name but not Lucy's name. More on that later.) will be tooling off toward Kentucky. Or, well, Friday morning. So whenever you read this in relation to Friday morning. Because I think I'm going ahead and publishing this tonight.

 

See it? It's already happening. DARING.

Wish me luck!

And lo, in the year of our lord 2013

 

I thought about this post all weekend, but I failed to come up with anything particularly spectacular.

Last month my sister had a baby.

This is nothing new, I mean I have a niece and nephew already – and not to sound too crass, but I mean, my kids are the shit so my nieces and nephews can't be too far from.

My sister recently(ish) remarried. A nice, normal guy who loves the piss out of her and is nice to people besides her, which is sometimes a rarity. He's a good egg. And when I found out they were having a baby I could not have been happier – for her, for him. For me because babies.

Children are spectacular, we all know. But having a child with someone you love with all your being and who loves you right back? That's…not even something words can touch.

I wanted that for her. And so when news of little Parker came along I knew what she was in for and I couldn't wait.

The weekend after her son was born, we went to visit.

He was everything I wanted him to be.
He was tiny, he was sweet.
He had her fingers and feet and his daddy's mouth.
He snuggled in my niece's arms like he already knew where he belonged.
He was – he is – perfect.

So for now I'll spare you the tales of my empty uterus and how SURELY I might have another little boy and holy crap he'd be so amazing and cuddly and little and ohmahgahbabies.

No, for now we can just say that my sister's family is complete. And that there is a little bundle of squiggly baby sized love who knew just where he needed to be, and he will probably never know how much joy he brought with him into the world.

 

 

 

 

I suppose it was a noble try

This is probably going to come across in the wrong way, but I am nothing if not honest. I see no need to change that now.

What, I might lose some friends? Line up, everyone. Let me count you so I know who goes missing.

Yesterday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Apparently the whole month of October is appointed as an awareness month for this issue, which is great, but October the 15th is the special day appointed for memorial and acknowledgement for those of us who have lost little ones.

This is delicate. For anyone.

I have not made a secret of the miscarriage I had in 2008. I don’t bring it up often, but it’s there. I acknowledge it. I think about it more than I ever thought I would. I don’t say that in a macabre way, but it’s true. I think about it enough to know that Lucy’s brother (at some point I apparently decided he was a boy) would be about four now. When I remember him I don’t think about the pain and the terror and how certain I was that I was not going to live – I think about how much he might look like his daddy. I think about T-ball and Transformers. I think about how much would be different today.

And then I don’t think about it for a while. It’s how I process.

But yesterday, since it was an appointed day, I thought about him. The him that never really was.

Some local people had put together a vigil/memorial service type thing for the evening. I decided to go, because I wanted Josh to take pictures and I never really go in for stuff like that. I took a sedative in preparation for being around people.

We went.

I didn’t really know what to do initially, but I went to a spot where it looked like stuff was happening. I signed a book on a lovely little table, I got a lapel pin with an angel, I got a piece of paper to write on – which I would later attach to a balloon. The sentiment was lovely, and I could tell that the people in charge were well-intentioned.

For some reason, there was a group of high school students there…community service? Helping? I don’t know, but they were there. Fine, great, not my business, right?

Except they were obnoxious. They were loud and they were oblivious and they totally killed whatever mood there should have been.

Whatever, man. I live and let live.

The chick in charge (who, incidentally, I used to work with at McAlister’s Deli and is now apparently a pediatrician? Good for you, girl. Your pants were awesome.) took a microphone and welcomed everyone. She went over why we were all there and what was going on.

Then people started talking. It was almost like being at youth retreat, where folks would find their way to the front and get all emotional and you could tell they were so sincere and it just pissed you off because people weren’t paying attention to the sincerity. No? Just me?

Well, it was like that. These women were spilling their hearts out – their loss, their mourning, how they still hurt – and Suzy Sweet Sixteen five yards away from me was texting with Johnny No Nads about letting him get to second base (fine – I made that part up, I don’t know what they were talking about).

It made me so angry.

I was there to mourn a loss. To remember a time my life changed forever. To think for just a few minutes about what could have been. And I couldn’t do that.

There were Bible verses and prayers. Whatever makes it easier, I guess. I just wanted to leave before I vomited from everything I felt.

The talking ended.

We let the balloons go. I watched a jillion pink, blue, and white balloons – all with little messages attached – disappear into the night. So many emotions. So much hurt attached to every string.

It was the one moment that was just as I’d expected. Everyone simply stood and watched as the memories flew upward into the sky. It was worth it for that moment.

I appreciate what went into the evening. I am grateful that there are those who know how I feel, even if I’m sorry that has to be true.