Friday, November 7, 2014

How to Train a Dog

Basic Commands

Dolly, Rock It!
This simple command requires a moment or two of physical assault and was mastered instantly in our house. She a pro.


Sit
Using only seventeen treats per day, hold one in your hand and stare at her until she stops frantically trying to climb your leg and sits down in exhaustion. When her butt hits the floor, give her a treat, gradually increasing the wait time and requiring her to sit there quaking tragically in anticipation.  In a few short weeks, we've reduced climb time to only ten seconds and sit/stay time to two full seconds.

Intermediate Commands

Dolly, You Can't Sleep in the Bed Because Dad Says So
Training a dog not to sleep in the bed requires patience and a warm, comfortable alternative. We started with a beanbag chair next to the bed and when she opted for spooning between us instead, we added a blanket. Some toys. A treat. A masseuse. Ambient lighting. Repetition. She hops in bed, we gently and lovingly tuck her into her own nest of faux fur and pillows. The training is progressing nicely - she often waits until Dad falls asleep before slinking back to her rightful spot smack in the middle of the bed.

Outside is NOT, in Fact, Torture
I'm teaching Dolly this command by never beating her with a baseball bat or lead pipe when we make her go outside for a walk. I don't even hit her with my hands. Instead I praise her like Jesus when she pees in the yard and add a massive t-bone shaped treat when she drops a deuce. I bought her a fleece jacket to go over her everyday Drama Queen shirt, to keep her trembling chills at bay. I'd say we've made moderate progress and she will sometimes go outside for roughly four minutes before crying to return to her warm new castle. Often we make it all the way to the park which is two houses down the street.

Advanced Commands


Dolly, Avoid the Piss Punch
Crazy the Cat has a signature moved called the Piss Punch. It's where she corners Dolly and hisses in her face whilst throwing rapid left hooks across the face. This terrifies Dolly and she pees. One would think Dolly would not need to be trained to avoid this move, but she calmly and sweetly approaches Crazy 93 times daily begging to be friends. My training program here involves rapid intervention and redirection of attention every single time, along with a sharp finger tap to Crazy's nose and a stern NO before she crosses the line from smack talk to beatdown. Next I remind Dolly that abused women do not need to keep seeking out their torturers. So far I've made no progress on this command but I'm hopeful.


No Frenching
This directive is reinforced by putting her back into the aforementioned cozy nest beside our bed each time she tries to make out. She's learning quickly; learning that it's better to just rape us in our sleep.

Dolly, SMELL GOOD!
I'm hereby convinced that this is an unteachable command. Gourmet food. Brush. Bubble bath. Scented dog wipes. All we can smell is salty butt. You win, Dolly. You win.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You're Obvanously Invited to the Naughty Elves Bazaar

This one is for you locals in the Minneapolis area.

A wise little fifth-grade ginger recently caught me sobbing in the bathroom after puking out my nose. She wanted to know why I was so upset and I said I was tired of throwing up.

"But you always throw up, and it's not like you cry about it," she said.

Busted.

So I explained that also I have to find a job and I'm not sure what kind of work I can do these days, so I was worried about that, too. (She caught me at a really bad time.)

She told me to buck up and assured me that everything will be fine. "Obvanously, you're made to be an artist. Just sell your things.*"

Imagine her delight, then, when I announced the first annual Naughty Elves Bazaar.

She thinks this is my new career. I'm just hoping to sell enough to cover the cost of hosting it, and that I get to see lots of familiar faces. Stop on by this Sunday and shop with me, several of my local craftsy friends and a few who rep bags, essential oils and skincare products.

It's obvanously going to be a blast.


*Ah, to see the world through ten-year-old eyes. I love that kid.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dear Priya: Hats and Dogs

Dear Priya,
Life Lesson: Hats are Good

I've been terribly busy puking and herding clowns (as pictured), but I meant to write sooner. We have things to talk about.

First, hats.

Get some immediately. I left you unsupervised with your parents for two weeks and all your hair fell out except the Bozo ring. Not cool. This is not a Fashion Do.

My friend is knitting you a hat and I'll go without food to buy you a few more if need be. Just cover that head for now, it's better for all of us.

Second, dogs.

You'll need to start on your parents immediately and I reckon we can convince them that you need a dog for, say, your third birthday. Planning begins now.

Life Lesson: Never Miss a Chance to Wear a Tutu
Auntie Tricia got a dog to slowly ease them in and she plans to use Dolly's charming personality to sway them into believing that dogs are a good idea.

Don't tell your parents that sometimes dogs poop on the floor and we don't know why. Perhaps they need to go outside seven times instead of just six. And don't tell them that when you bark at said dogs NO! Bad MoFo! they will cower like you're going to beat them with a Louisville Slugger and you'll be tempted to poop on the floor in solidarity just to show them it really will be OK and nobody is going to die today.

Don't tell Mom and Dad that if you leave a dog alone for four minutes it will go to any lengths to kiss a cat. Crazy climbed up on the kitchen table to hide this morning. Dolly clambered up and army-crawled across the table in pursuit.

Don't tell them that dogs are the most manipulative creatures on the face of the planet. You will No dogs in the bed! but somehow the delirious love in their crossed eyes will render you unable to resist their stealthy persistence. Dolly may have made out with Uncle Paul's face as he slumbered last night but please don't mention that to him.
Life Lesson: Deny, Deny, Deny
sternly say

Instead you should tell your folks how warm your lap is under 23 pounds of pokey elbows and stinky fur. Tell them that somehow doggy breath smells like salty ass and angel kisses all at once. Consider pitching a heaving tantrum every time you're forced to part with a random dog you encounter in public.

Also explain how a dog will allow you to demonstrate your superior levels of personal responsibility. Because of course you will take care of it. And yes, you know that means every day. Seriously. Every day. Yes - even if it's raining. Indeed, dogs poop through all four of the seasons, including winter when you will just die if you're forced to play outside instead of staying cooped up in the house driving your parents nutty. You totally know this.

Life Lesson:
Never Give Up On Your Dreams
You can pull this off, Priya, you just have to get an available dog in the door. Your parents will fall in love and you will be the queen of them all! Don't worry about the cats, they will learn to get along with your dog. If not, too late. It's a big house.

Suggested breeds to demand:

Bull Mastiffs - These make excellent ladders due to their massive  size and general in-irritability. Perfect for obtaining treats you aren't supposed to be able to reach, which you can then share with the dog to ensure future compliance during all missions.

French Bulldog - Bullies have the most flexibility on Halloween and can accurately portray a scary bat, Yoda or a Princess Leia. Also they fart a lot which is good for a laugh.

Chinese Crested Hairless - This is a great breed if you like the name Gizmo. Oh, and Gremlins - you're not allowed to see that movie until you are seven because you'll have night terrors. Trust me.

In conclusion, my sweet Priya, we'll make sure dog is one of your first few words. I figure we can slip it in right after mama, dada, auntie and no.

Until next time, baby girl.
xo


Monday, October 13, 2014

More (Attempts at) Gratitude in the Shitstorm(s)

It has been brought to my attention that a recent post has led some folks to believe I am suicidal.

I am not.


Wishing you are dead is not the same thing as making it so. I am not suicidal, I am honest. I'm honest about just how incredibly frustrated and angry I am. I'm honest about just how gross my body has become and how little trust in it I have. I'm honest about the ugly, unfair realities of dealing with Lyme. And I'm honest that there are times when I truly believe I can't do it for one more day, and that is when I wish I had cancer so I could die.

But I keep doing it for one more day whether I believe I can or not.

I have a giant, obnoxious, filterless mouth and it's caused me many problems in life, but it's the same mouth that never hesitates to fight for an underdog. The stinky kid in kindergarten getting teased. The neglected animal or child. The elderly person being honked at to cross the street faster so Mr. Fancy can hurry to his office and his oh-so-important job. That business doesn't fly if I'm around, I will call you out with ZERO hesitation.

Well, now I am the underdog so I'm going to keep using that giant, obnoxious, filterless mouth. Not because I'm asking for help. Not because I want you to fix my life.

Because Lyme disease sucks tick and people need to know that.

Because it could be you. Or your pet. Or God forbid, your child.

And if you, like me, are not wealthy or important, your doctors won't give two shits about figuring out how to help you. You will become nothing more than a statistic falling through the giant cracks between our government and healthcare system.

I'd really like to bite, say, Kim Kardashian, and try to transmit this stuff. If she were suddenly sick enough to poop her pants and drool on herself, people would care. People would be outraged. She'd have every specialist in the world flying her around first-class for kid-glove care.

Why?

Because she's got a sexy face, a luscious booty and a fat wallet.

If Bill Gates or a pro athlete or a singer more famous than Debbie Gibson contracted Lyme, things would change. Because they have platforms to be heard and the money to make choices in life.

I don't have a sexy face, a luscious booty, or any money, so I just have to keep using my giant, obnoxious, filterless mouth to share - with honesty - what Lyme is like.

I am still trying desperately to be positive, to stay positive. I present you with evidence that I am indeed a Silver Lining Hunter.

Situation: My parents bought me a trip to New Mexico to ride in a hot-air balloon to celebrate my birthday
Downside: Too sick to go
Upside: This means I can go to the Pixies concert with Paul - YAY!

Situation: Go to Pixies concert with Paul, first date night in one hundred eons
Downside: Start convulsing, have to leave, miss that concert too

Upside: Didn't piss myself during convulsion this time - YAY!

Situation: Constant vomiting, request and receive new meds to control nausea
Downside: Throw them up, too
Upside: This makes it less upsetting that I can't afford to keep taking this medicine, anyway - WHEW!

Situation: Get rescue dog in hopes of securing companionship and unconditional love for when I'm feeling sorry for myself
Downside: Rescue dog has zero use for me when the kids are here - ZERO use
Upside: Learning to find joy in seeing them be so loved instead - AWWWWW...

So, yeah. I'm trying.

Last Thursday, for my birthday, we went to visit a disability lawyer, who confirmed what I've suspected. I have no choice but to wait 12-18 months for a hearing and my disability case is a long shot and I'm basically screwed. What he said specifically is that I'd be more likely to win if I had something 'legitimate' or 'terminal'.

 - Then I threw up out my nose that afternoon
 - Then I missed my birthday trip to NM
 - Then I missed the Pixies show
 - Then I convulsed
 - Then I couldn't see out of my left eye
 - Then the muscular seizures started

Then, while my muscles were still so tender I could hardly walk, I had to RUN* outside to save the cat - who was being violently raped by an assholio feral cat, who tore up my kitty's...well...kitty.

Then I saw in the news that someone is threatening to shoot up a college in River Falls on Wednesday. A college where my man has class that day.

So, yeah. I'm trying to stay positive, but sometimes life just packs a little too much punch and I cry and feel hopeless and get angry.

This does not mean that I am suicidal.

This means that I am both human and honest.


*I only run if being chased by a bear. Or apparently, if one of my babies (fur or step) is being raped.




Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hello, Dolly

My name is Dolly and yesterday I rescued some humans.

I picked them because I can teach them street smarts and because those two girls are almost teenagers so they need more role models. I was a street trollop, you know, just having babies with any boy who walked on by. I didn't have a job, though, and my baby daddies don't send checks so I lost ALL my kids to the system.

After that I just roamed the streets for a while, depressed. I turned to drugs garbage cans because I was lonely. Then someone found me and locked me in jail. I was told I had to serve my time.

The other dogs told me that I'd be released from prison if I adopted a family, so I tried my hardest but none of these people were right for me. I was beginning to think I'd live in that cage forever.

But then my family walked in. I just knew it was them, because they are all a little weird like me. See, I'm a little cross-eyed and I army-crawl when I'm too lazy to walk. These people didn't even judge me for it!

There's a crazy lady who talks funny but I can tell she'll do anything I want. Also her lap rather perfectly fits my frog-butt.

There's a pretty girl who can only hear in one ear and I understand her, cuz - you know - my googly eye. She's a little bit shy at times, like me. We're going to be best friends, I think.

There's a spunky little redhead who is already teaching me how to break the rules. See, I'm not allowed in Mommy and Daddy's bed but that's all because of Daddy. So this morning the redhead made Mommy a birthday card that contained a coupon good for one free night with Dolly in the bed. I like the way this kid thinks!

I have to work on Daddy. He says he wasn't the one who wanted a dog and that he thinks I am goofy looking and he swears I'm going to poop on his pillow. This morning I hopped on his chest to cuddle, though, and he totally allowed it - until Mom got the camera. I'll wear him down, mark my words. I had seventeen children, you know, and smothered none of them.  I'm obviously patient.

There's a little orange cat who lives here, too, but she makes scary noises. I know in my heart that we
will be friends and I'm trying hard to be patient but I love her so much it makes me shake when she's nearby. I wish she would just let me kiss her. Jeez. What's the big deal? It's only first base.

My only complaint about Mommy and Daddy is that they made me leave my adopted baby behind at  the shelter. Something about Holy shit, NO! We can't handle two dogs! But there are these two awesome guinea pigs in my new house and I'm just going to adopt them as my new babies. I told them so by sitting on a stool next to their cage and crying to them singing them a lullaby.

The people I adopted seemed to be dog lovers. They have food and toys and they even gave me a shirt that says Drama Queen. Apparently, though, it's too tight. Mom told me it's rude to accentuate my business like that and it's not an appropriate outfit to wear in public and am I just asking for more puppies!? I had to gently remind her that she's the one who picked and bought the shirt in the first place.

Well, I better go. It's been at least twenty minutes since I sniffed the orange cat and I bet she'll like me this time. I just know it.

xo
Dolly


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Definition of Insanity

So I've heard that often what annoys us in others are the same things we struggle with ourselves. I, for example, am not very neat. I can often be seen peeking from behind mountains of clothing in my room when left to my own devices and my craft supplies have a life of their own. They are difficult to wrangle. I need a herding dog.

But...

But...

But, seriously, what the heck were you thinking?

I have to squelch this question about nineteen times a day now that I live with children.

I want to do better myself.
There is a suitcase on the floor that I unpacked three days ago.

I strive to do better myself.
I'm the one who put the suitcase away, even if it was on the fourth day.

But I am mean because I ask children to help. I try asking. I try just telling. I explain that we just want progress, and I make messes too but please good grief can you just help me for 42 seconds without arguing about it.

Today after the 10-year-old walked away I reminded her to come back and put away the jelly. Then I trusted she could accomplish this task unsupervised. She can ride a unicycle. This is circumstantial evidence of both motor skills and comprehension capabilities.

I found the remaining jelly (half a jar) tossed into the sink of dirty dishes. The lid was on tight so I put that SOB right back in the fridge and if they don't like the taste of dishwater sandwiches then by golly....

Who am I kidding.

Then the jelly will expire before they would willingly eat it again. Because it's probably the wrong kind now anyhow.

Like the fact that we have no snacks and you're never allowed to get what you want here. So we said, come along, let's grocery shop. Choose.

Now we have a different kind of flat pretzel because the other four - four! - kinds of pretzels (flat with sea salt, flat with parmesan, mini pretzels and peanut-butter filled pretzels nuggets, if you were curious) in this house were clearly wrong and feelings of oppression were only natural.

I do not have the neurological capacity to understand the minds of children and have decided they are all insane. (Even me. Rumor has it I was no picnic.)

By 7 AM today there was pee on the floor and and jelly jars in the dish water and clothing on the middle of the living room floor.

I'm confused.

How does the clothing even get to the middle of the living room floor when these are preteen girls who so modest they must lock themselves in the bathroom to change?

Electric blankets still heating, radios blaring and lights on in their rooms as they head out the door for school. There's a trail behind them of Squinkies and Cheez-its*, bobby pins and dirty socks, mash notes and fumes.

I can see they are puffed up proudly that they survived another night with Mean Tricia and All Her Rules, especially after they Spent Forever Cleaning the Whole House for their new dog.

Yep.

We got a new dog to add to this family of slobs which will help with the messes specifically and the getting along in general.

We are now eight**.

Poor Paul and his seven ladies. Two daughters, an ex-wife, a girlfriend, two female guinea pigs, a kitty named Crazy and now Dolly, the 23 pound bitch.

So as it turns out, we might be the ones who are insane. Paul and I will be looking into two-for-one rehab rates. Can you babysit the dog?

*We have decided we no longer like pretzels.

**We were nearly ten until Iris the hermit crab died of natural causes this summer then Aphrodite the other hermit crab finally died of a broken heart yesterday. May she rest in peace and no longer help stink up our basement, thank goodness.

Surprising Random Factoid: The only animal in this home that can arguably be blamed on me is the dog. I am indeed a wholehearted animal lover (except hermit crabs and guinea pigs) but if anyone else buys these children a pet - ever - it's something I'm deathly allergic to and it has to live with mom.





Monday, October 6, 2014

101 Life Lessons - Part Five of Five

Dear Priya,

Sorry about that, I got distracted by some barfing and the rant that unleashed itself in the midst of the literal bile. Let's get back to it.

77. About those dance lessons. Initially I wanted you to have them mostly to anger your dad but I've changed my mind - about the reason, that is. Do it to see if you're good at it, because it really is joyful. I am a terrible dancer but I still dance several times a week, generally in a chair or while I'm cooking dinner. I miss rocking out while I drove a car even though it scared people nearby.

78. Taste everything. There are so many yummy foods that you're forbidden from saying no until you try something once.

79. Get a journal and fill in the blank every day. Thank you for ___________. One sentence a day until that book is full.

80. Do it again.
She makes this face every time
I give her advice.

81. Squish your toes in the mud.

82. Pet a duckling.

83. Thank a soldier.

84. Do something nice for that old person.

85. Close your eyes when you listen to the waves.

86. Make a friendship bracelet and give it to someone you don't know yet.

78. Get up to watch the sun rise in the cold with a warm drink. Add Bailey for now and Bailey's when you're old.

88. Hang your feet off the dock.

89. Write a thank you note to a teacher.

90. Read every book your aunt gives you. Plus all the other ones.

91. It's OK if you have to plug your nose, just jump.

92. Give a few bucks to a homeless person if they speak to you. (If they speak to your heart for some reason, I mean. Don't just give money to everyone who says hello.) You don't need to worry about what they spend it on. That's not the point of being kind.

93. Rescue an animal. Mom says no crustaceans, but you could probably talk her into another cat. You have long eyelashes. Use them.

94. Jump on the bed. I probably already had this one on the list a week ago, but it's OK to remind you because this is an important one.

95. Skinny dip.

96. Rice is surprisingly hard to cook, so just boil noodles. The Indians and Chinese have delicious rice for you. It's called To Go.

97. I convinced Uncle Paul to drive thirty minutes further out of our way so I could kiss you for ten minutes. Then we had to drive back that extra thirty minutes. It was totally worth it but for the record those smooches cost about $3.79 in gas money.

98. I already told you that doesn't make your butt look too big.

99. Even if your butt is too big, who cares? Get over yourself.

100. Check for ticks.

Annnnnnnnnd...

Drumroll,
please...

101. No matter what life throws at you, don't forget to laugh. 

Priya, I already have Lyme disease. Then last Thursday I broke out in a rash. Then tonight I found a tick in my head.

No, I'm not kidding.

I started to panic. I put him in a Tupperware so he can be inspected. I was going to go wake up your uncle to cry at him but then I realized that's rude. He's tired.

And besides, then I realized.

 If, in the most karmic bitch-slap of all time, I just contracted Lyme with my Lyme,  it will still be there tomorrow. I can tell him then. Or cry. Or whatever. So I'm going to follow my own advice, have a laugh and then go to bed.

I love you, Peanut. 

In a sundae cup. 

With a cherry on top.




Friday, October 3, 2014

Why I Wish I Had Cancer

I wish I had cancer.
This is how I look after
puking a dozen times.

I realize this is an awful, horrific thing to say, but I need you hear me out and to understand why I would say such a thing. Your first reaction (rightfully so) is probably to call me an asshole, but I'm begging you to read every word of this before you judge me.

My name is Tricia and I'm not a wuss.

I've had brutal surgeries. I've had spinal taps. I can sit for an all-day tattoo session without whining once. I've been on crutches for months on end until my armpits were so raw they bled. I've put myself between a girlfriend and an abusive boyfriend because I knew I could take his violence better than she could.

Some of the meds I've taken for Lyme. This doesn't include
the 960 injections I had to give myself last summer.
I'm not a wuss.

But I don't know how much longer I can live with Lyme Disease.

When you have cancer, you are not told it's all in your head. When you have cancer, there are governmentally approved treatment regimens and doctors understand how to administer them. When you have cancer, there are two options - you will get better or you will die.

With Lyme Disease, I could live this way for fifty more years. God, I fucking hope not.

Please let me interject here to say that I am absolutely not trivializing the horrors of cancer. I've watched friends die from it and it's vile and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. But there are days, more often now than there used to be, where I wish it upon myself so that it would just kill me.

Since 2012, I have suffered from a near-constant barrage of symptoms and they change rapidly and without warning. Here are  just some of them:

It's fun to walk on muscles that
do stuff like this.
-Speech impairment

-Fevers and inability to regulate temp. Turn it up two degrees and I will sweat through my clothing and drip on you, but turn it down three degrees and I'm so cold I'm shaking and my teeth are chattering.

-Vomiting and diarrhea (I've thrown up at least fifteen times in the past 48 hours, for example)

- Numbness in extremities and/or internally. This is a fun symptom because when I go numb in my nether regions I piss and shit myself and don't realize it until I feel the warmth spreading down my clothing over a not-numb area.

- Random acts of blindness. Yep, sometimes now my eyes don't work right. A handful of
Collateral damage from
passing out in the bleachers at a V-ball game.
times they haven't worked at all.

- Speaking of not working, sometimes my limbs go on strike. Most days I can walk, but many days it's difficult. Some days I can't.

- Arthritis and tendinitis. There's not a day that goes by without fiery joint pain, screaming tendons or aching bones.

- Audiological problems - sometimes I'm so hypersensitive to noise it's physically painful. Other times I can't hear squat and need you to speak up. Louder.

- Neurological problems - sometimes I can't spell things now. Words I've known how to spell since age five. Sometimes if I'm writing something the words or numbers come out backward on paper. Sometimes I forget how to do things I've done with ease my entire life.

- Blackouts. Passing out randomly is frightening and frankly, it hurts to land.

This shiner was from hitting my face
on a dresser when I passed out.
- Muscle spasms and convulsions. Sometimes they are so bad they take me to the floor. Sometimes when my feet cramp, they stay cramped so long that my toes bruise themselves from the pressure of the bones pressing against the skin.

- I'm immune-suppressed so I  catch everything. I get boils (staph). I was bit by some sort of bug this summer and my whole calf got infected. I was stung by a wasp a month ago and the sting is still festering.

My blood pressure is so low that on a chart I register as just a hair above dead. Same thing with my heart rate, but only on Wednesdays when the wind blows from the East. I have crippling depression and nightmares about dying. I thought I would die before I got to hold my beautiful niece. Mostly I thank God that I was wrong but some days I wish I'd been right.

The pain is absolutely excruciating at times - and humiliating. It's embarrassing to be sitting there fine one minute and sobbing in pain the next - especially when there is nothing to see that might explain the pain. I look insane when that happens.

My calf about an hour after a random
bug bite this summer.

Some boils. Cuz I'm
bringing sexy back.
My wasp sting. Still
infected a month later.

But the thing that is worse than ANY of these atrocities is being told, over and over and over again, that's it's all in my head.

I catch everything but a break.
In June, I had an episode so bad I was pretty certain I was dying. I was vomiting blood, too weak to crawl to my phone to call for help. I had a migraine that literally blinded me for several hours. My mother found me and called 911. Once in the ER, the muscular convulsions began. They were so bad I was screaming in pain despite being maxed out on Valium and other sedatives.

They sent me home and the discharge paperwork read: Diagnosis - Muscle Cramp. Then the bills started rolling in.

Two days ago it got almost that bad again, but now at least I know better than to call the paramedics. I will never call 911 for myself again. One of these days the infections finally may overrun my organs, but if that happens I will die on the floor where I land - not in an ambulance or a hospital.

Because I have learned - through experience - that it is pointless to call for help when you have Lyme disease. 

I haven't worked in almost two and a half years. In 24 days I lose my long-term disability insurance and I've been told it's because my 'coverage for mental illness has run out'.

This means I will have ZERO income.

This means I will probably have to stop my meds again.

This means the infections may flare again and get worse.

This means I may, in fact, die sooner rather than later. If I do, please inscribe my tombstone with these words:

I told you it wasn't all in my head!





Wednesday, October 1, 2014

101 Life Lessons - Part 4: Happiness

Dear Priya,

Strap in, kid, because this is a long one but it's so important. I'm not the smartest or most edumacated auntie in the world but this is the most significant thing I've learned in 37 years. Do yourself a favor and believe me.

76. Being happy is the hardest job in the world, but your most important.

Once upon a time in the olden days I worked at a job that paid me a lot of money. I worked really, really hard there. Long days and as much passion as I could muster. The boss was charming but infuriating and he promised us the world.

He was a liar and a cheat and he stole from people. The company struggled and it made it very hard for people to work together and get along. The only way to get things done was to be a bossy cow.

So I was.

There was a joke at that company in the wintertime.

"It's bitch-ass cold outside," someone would say through chattering teeth when they came inside.
"How cold?" Anyone would chime in with this.
"Colder than Trish in a production meeting." They all knew that answer, too.

I hated myself. I hated my life. I hated feeling like I had to be mean every day. I hated working for a man who continued to disappoint me with his morals and his character.

I blamed everything from my terrible knee to my bad relationships to my hard unfair job, but it turns out it was my head. I took on an even harder job - being happy.

Despite the surgeries. Despite the long hours. Despite the paycuts.

Despite every single shitty thing going on and there were so many, Priya. There still are. But that's the trick in life. There always is terrible stuff*.

You have to find those joyful moments mixed in.
Exhibit A
Chubby thighs and straggly hair
but mostly you just see a heart
broken wide open in love.

You have to look for them and hunt for them and sometimes just imagine them and you have to do it diligently, every single day. Until one day it becomes automatic. Then keep doing it, even harder.

They will grow and become easier to find and they will sustain you. Sometimes it won't feel like there are enough of them and other days the abundance will blow your mind.

These moments are what will teach you how to love yourself  - and you have to or you won't ever be happy. Because you won't be able to give your all to anything until you take care of Priya first.

Sometimes you just won't know how.

Hug your Mom. Then hug your Dad. Write it out. Draw something. Read a book that inspires you. Sing a song, or listen to one of your favorites. Go for a run. Meditate. Take a warm bath.

Call your auntie. I will walk from Wisconsin to Minnesota to help you if you need me, but I'll probably have a heart attack a few miles in so please reserve this for the direst of emergencies.

And ask for help if you ever feel truly alone. Family. Friends. A temple or church. A professional. A helpline. A stranger if it's dire.

You are never, ever alone and now that you're here this world will never, ever be better off without you. But you're not crazy if you wonder about that someday, especially around the time you get boobs and your dad suddenly starts patting you on the head instead of hugging you. When boobs grow your brain leaks down out of your head to fill them out and you feel insane. Life is utterly impossible. Nobody else could ever understand.

But you are wrong.

There is never a situation that can't get a little bit better, a little bit at a time.

Being happy is the hardest job in the world but you can do it. I know you can. Just never stop looking for joy.


Love,
Auntie

*P.S. Karma bit that boss in the ass. It bit me, too. I complained about that job and how it wasn't enough money and I hated it so much. Now I have no job and no money and I hate that, too. But it doesn't own me and nobody would ever accuse me of being bitch-ass cold again. I got help for my depression before it was too late. 

I asked for help.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

101 Life Lessons - Part 3

Dear Priya,

I would have written sooner but I've been very busy counseling middle schoolers, which brings me to our next lesson.

51. Girls are mean. One day you'll be in middle school and you'll come home crying because your very best friend in the world turned on you. Suddenly she's your enemy and she's ruining your life. Be strong and remember that true friends will never, ever intentionally hurt you.

52. Be nice even when someone is being mean to you. It confuses them.

53. There will be days in your life where you are certain that you will die of embarrassment. I promise that you won't.

54. One of the best things about awful things happening to you is that someday you can use those lessons to help make someone else feel better when that same awful thing happens to them.

55. When you make that person feel better, you'll suddenly realize that you're grateful for that terrible thing that happened to you.

56. Speaking of gratitude, it's the most important thing in the world. Always be thankful for what you have. Say it. Think it. Write it. Live it.

57. On days where there is nothing to be grateful about, try harder. There is always something.

58. Dance wildly.

59. Do what you love. If all the other kids want to play basketball but you want to ride a unicycle, go ahead and ride that thing. Someday you'll be too scared to try such things, so take advantage of your dumb fearlessness before you outgrow it.

60. Phones down at the table. Seriously. If someone took the time to cook you dinner, you can take the time to talk to them while you eat it.

61. Don't be afraid to get hurt. Skinned knees and bruised elbows mean you tried something.

62. Get lost in magic. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny won't visit you forever, so feel free to squeal joyfully when they do.

63. It's totally acceptable to wake your parents up at four AM on Christmas morning. They can sleep later, you have presents to open.

64. Your imagination is perfect. Now exercise it, so it stays so strong.

65. Sit in someone's lap when they read to you. It makes the story even better.

66. Do not follow that last piece of advice after age five.

67. Draw on the walls.

68. Don't pull Morgan and Bailey's tails.

69. OK, you can, but they might bite you.

70. Farts are always funny.

71. Practice giving. Give your time, give your effort, give your love. You never know when one kind act will change someone's life.

72. Love people's guts. Their insides. Don't worry about what they look like or if they are different in some way. See their hearts instead of their bodies.

73. When you sing, do so with gusto at the top of your lungs.

74. Enjoy the snow now. Someday it will mean shoveling and horrid commutes instead of snowmen and hot cocoa.

75. When your daddy asks why the hell you want dance lessons, simply explain you want to be just like him.



That's all for now, sweet baby girl Priya.

Love,
Auntie

Sunday, September 28, 2014

101 Life Lessons - Part 2

Dear Priya,

My favorite guy and my bestest girls are fast asleep and I'm puking too much to try to go to bed so I thought we'd best continue our lessons.

25. School is so lovely, enjoy it. Soon enough you'll be grown and believe me, that's no picnic. Soak up everything you can in school and respect your teachers. One or two of them will undoubtedly change your life in a huge way.

26. Makeup. You should only use it if it makes you happy and you should always skip it more often than wearing it. You are beautiful exactly as you are.

27. You'll see that people spend a lot of time playing with tiny machines. Put them down and make something instead. Being creative will help you grow. Also, this will be much more fun at Auntie Tricia's house because I have all the good art supplies and your dad sucks at art. 

28. Your mom is magic. She has superpowers that nobody else in your world will possess - she can make your ouchies better with a kiss. 

29. Nana is a sucker. She'll give you the moon and stars and treats and presents so long as you let her cuddle you. Don't tell her I tattled.

30. Grandpa Wild is the funny one who doesn't like to pick you up but tweets about you a lot. I know he loves you madly because he joined Facebook* after years as a holdout - he didn't want to miss a single picture of you. 

13. It's OK to eat dessert first sometimes.

23. I'll probably always feed you dessert first. Don't tell your mom and dad.

33. You are half Indian which means you should wear a sari and a bindi every chance you get because they are so much more badass beautiful than our white mutt clothes.

43. A little bird named Scout suggested to me that you will be a dancer. It's important that you start by age three because she had a vision of you as a world-famous breakdancer and your training must begin promptly so you can hit the competition circuit by first grade.

35. Beets are delicious. Your dad will lie about this, but they're good for you so eat as many of them as you'd like. Please request them frequently and report back to me.

36. Even though they are delicious, beets are not in fact candy. Nana lied to me about this when I was your age and I fell for it for a year until someone gave me M&Ms. That was 365 days of chocolate opportunities wasted. The moral of life lesson number 36 is that you really can't trust Nana.

37. Jumping on the bed is pretty joyful. Go for it.

38. Swimming is even more joyful than jumping on the bed so you should spend lots of time in the water. 

39. Also, bathing suits.  They fit perfectly until you're about twelve when suddenly your body boings out in weird directions and after that you'll declare every suit you ever wear to be ugly. That suit is fabulous and anyhow, who cares? Get back in the water and enjoy.

40. No. That doesn't make your butt look too big.

41. Santa is totally real but he's a spirit who lives in people's hearts and they express it around the holidays by lavishing you with gifts. It would be super creepy if a fat old man broke into your house in the middle of the night and ate your food, even if he did leave presents.

42. While we're on the subject of presents, a  PSA: Never agree to free kittens and candy. I mean it, Priya, that's the biggest rule. I'll whoop your tiny butt if I see you so much as look at someone offering them.

43. Nothing in life is free.

44. Also, some custodians have Priya-triggered dynamite inside them and if you get within ten feet you'll both be blown to smithereens, so avoid all janitors in general. Just in case.

45. Try every food once. Except for bananas and ketchup and that one fish they serve in Japan that supposedly tastes amazing but poisons you to death if the chef cleans it just a smidge off.

46. Using a sheet to parachute off the garage doesn't work.

74. Neither does lying. You'll get caught every time, so just be honest.

48. Karma. It doesn't often come swiftly but when it does it's worth the wait.

49. Always jump in the puddles.

50. Family** is your greatest gift and every single person in your family can teach you something.

I have to go to bed now, baby Priya. We'll finish this another day.

Love,
Auntie

*Facebook is an app from the olden days before people connected by transmitting code to one another's GPS implants.

**Your particular family includes an accountant, a nurse, an engineer, a speech therapist, a writer, a unicyclist, a comic, a stage star, a princess, a soccer player and the Giving Tree. You're basically covered.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

101 Life Lessons

OK, Priya, I'm on shift now so your mommy can sleep.  I know your belly is full and your diaper is not, so let's see if I can write this before you fill those pants again. In no particular order, here's what you need to know about life.

1.  Nothing in life will ever be fair. It's OK to pitch a fit, but then you must move on.

2. It's more important to be nice than to be right.

3. Never miss an opportunity to giggle.

4. Get hurt. It means you tried something.

5. If you start shaving your legs at age 10 and do so daily until you croak you will waste approximately 82 days of your life shaving. Is it really worth it? Only you can decide but I owe you the facts - men don't notice or care anyhow.

6. Be thankful. The more you are, the more you become.

7. If I ever catch you smoking I'll make you eat that cigarette. Then I'll watch you puke. Then I'll say you're welcome.

8. Your daddy will want you to love sports. You'd best just humor him, it'll make your life easier.

PAUSE FOR 3:15 AM FEEDING

9. Cheese goes on everything.

10. Being a grownup sucks. Take your time being a kid.

11. You will never regret time spent reading an old-fashioned paper book.

12. Animals make the world better. Also, you need a puppy.

13. Your first heartbreak will not, in fact, kill you. I promise.

14. Naps are awesome.

15. Farting really does feel as good as the look on your face when doing so would indicate.

PAUSE FOR 3:45 AM SHITSTORM

16. You are never, ever alone.

17. Brains before boobs. Except for right now, while boobs are your God-nectar.

18. Go ahead, have that brownie. That's what Spanx are for.

19. Always be curious.

20. It's quite rude to shit your drawers immediately after I change them and resnap your onesie.

21. Boys only complicate things. Climb trees instead.

22. Hold a baby any chance you get. It's free therapy.

PAUSE FOR 5:00 AM FEEDING

23. Always make time for your friends. They need you more than you need to check off whatever that thing is on your to-do list.

PAUSE FOR SHITSTORM ROUND 2

24. Bananas are one of the first things your parents will try to feed you. Just scream bloody murder until they give you something good.

25. School is....

FUCK IT, AUNTIE NEEDS A NAP...TO BE CONTINUED







Friday, September 19, 2014

Dear Priya - Meet your Mommy

Dear Priya,

I meant to write to you sooner to tell you about your mommy but there were volleyball games and unicycle lessons and karate and vomiting and homework and lost hairbrushes, and clogged toilets fighting and giggles. And eleven loads of laundry.

See, this is what life is like with a family. It's loud and frustrating and hard and awesome and spectacular and wonderful - sometimes all at once.

Soon your mommy, Reena, will be so exhausted she won’t know her head from her booty*. But before she gets to permission slips and VID (Very Important Drama), she has to get through a few years of screaming, crying and poop. Er…um…just kidding. Those things might not end.

Here’s what you need to know. Reena is a strong, beautiful, smart Indian woman. She’s your salvation in the tanning department. She has a postgraduate degree, giant brown eyes and excellent manners. She looks pretty in every color – so will you.

Your mommy likes things organized. And neat. Really organized and neat. In fact, hold off on that walking thing as long as you can because it all kinda goes downhill from there. At least in the mess department.

Also Reena is a worrywart*. This means you will say but moooooom, everybody else gets/has/does about fourteen times a day. And it won’t be fair, because life is not.  And there will be a lot of VID in your life. I can't wait to hear about it. When Mom gets tired of it, you come see me.

Reena is traditional and modest, so please don’t think you’re getting away with those shorts, young lady. A cami is not a shirt, jeggings aren’t pants, and no – you can’t have a tattoo! Because Mommy says so, that’s why! She always looks lovely so borrow something from her closet if you need to. Class never goes out of style.

You’ll need to prepare for something weird that happens when you are in double digits – you will be horrified by everything your mom does. Nothing she cooks will taste good, and nothing she does will be right. You have ten good years to get in your snuggles before this happens, though, so hop to it.

I have a secret about cuddling.

It’s just as delightful for the mommy as it is for the kid being snuggled, and it’s the probable reason you children thrive as a species. Otherwise we’d have accidentally on purpose smothered you all generations ago.

Aunties are excellent airbags in case of a Mommy Malfunction. When Reena crashes, I get to step in
and shnoozle you myself. This is for her sanity and your safety.

I will never be as well-mannered as your mother or as organized, and I will certainly never be that tan. But I have it on good authority that I’m so much comfier to lay on than a mom. My friend’s son told me that when he was three, and he said it with such bliss and wonder that I almost forgave him for calling me fat.


I’m a little rusty we'd better practice snuggling this weekend.

Love,
Auntie



Booty – this is the cool way to say BUTT.


Worrywart – a person who loves you SO MUCH that they constantly imagine all the terrible things that can happen to you in this world and panic about it. Try not to worry, Priya, most of the bad things that you worry about never happen and the awful things that do happen weren’t what you were expecting anyhow, so you’re still unprepared. My advice? Learn to laugh. Laugh at yourself and laugh at life. Laugh with love, though, don’t laugh at other people and hurt their feelings.
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