Good Grief

June 29, 2015

We all have choices. Most of the time, this is a wonderful thing. I can choose to eat cold pizza for breakfast, I can choose what lipstick I want to wear, I can choose to be humored rather than horrified by Trump running for president. The choices are endless. Maybe that’s what’s so hard about those choices being taken away from you. Or me. This is about me.

I chose to get pregnant, I was choosing to stay pregnant. My body, however, chose something else. I know, I know. Miscarriage is nature’s way of ridding the body of an unviable pregnancy. It saves you from heartbreak later. Yada, fucking, yada. I get it.

Last Monday was my doctor’s appointment confirming I had indeed lost the entire shebang. I already knew that I had. For the faint of heart, skip the next sentence. It happened in an Alamo Drafthouse bathroom. I had just seen Jurassic World and it was not bad, for those wondering. Yes, yes, I’m sad for your loss. But what movie did you see and did you like it? I would be thinking the same thing. It really is all in the details.

So on that Monday afternoon, after my kind and thoughtful doctor was unable to locate anything left from my pregnancy, I went and laid down on my couch. I continued to lay there, choosing to stay close to my grief. In my mind, by maintaining close proximity to what happened, I was really staying in the place I had been before. The place where I was pregnant. Each day after I put my daughter down for a nap, after we had somehow gotten through the morning, I got back on the couch. I laid down, I watched TV, I cried. I stayed in my grief.

The tears stopped on Saturday. I then started to worry I was leaving my place of sadness. That didn’t seem right to me. Not because it’s bad to move on or wrong to find peace. But because that’s not my style. I hold on to grief and sadness as if they were the last pieces of chocolate or bottles of Bordeaux on the planet. You might say, I live for grief. I worried because it was so improbable that I could feel better so fast. It was much more likely that I was starting the denial phase. I am the poster child of the stages of grief, though mainly just the first four. Acceptance can suck it.

After my dad died, it took nearly ten years for me to say “hey, maybe it’s better if you don’t want to die everyday. Maybe trying to be happy would be easier.” I would like to say that moments after this little lightbulb, I turned my life around and ever since I’ve been a walking ray of sunshine. The optimistic part of me—it seems I do have optimism, against my better judgement—wants to say “yeah, life can still be tough, but overall I laugh more and find the beauty in life on a regular basis.” Writing that sentence made me want to barf. It’s not that I think hope is bad or looking on the bright side of things is morally questionable. But a healthy dose of cynicism never hurt anyone. In fact, being that this is my second miscarriage this year, being armed with the knowledge that I was not in fact immune to miscarriage is in an odd way helpful. I was shocked, yes, but not blindsided. Did I think it would happen again? No. Am I pissed I had to buy Sea Bands and pallets of sparkling water and boxes upon boxes of Cheez-Its to get through the day? Yes. It’s incredibly unfair that I felt so sick, so tired, so pregnant for weeks and don’t get a baby.

Is it sick that I take comfort in telling myself “ but really, when has your life ever been fair?” That may make me sound childish, petulant. I can live with that.

My struggle today is that I want to go back to last Monday. To my Schrödinger’s cat of I both am and am not. Being so close to the event, so close to the sadness kept it real and both not real. Now it’s just turning into not real. But, but, but! Getting space is the only way to move through it! To feel better! I don’t want to feel better. Well, that’s not true. I do want to feel better. But I want this to have not happened. That is the better I want to feel. I want to be nearing the end of the first trimester. I want to be sending Scott baby names to reject. I want to start guilting people into throwing me a baby shower even though this is/was my second kid. I don’t want to start this all over. Again. The further away I get, the less I feel able to stay in my grief. The pressure to be normal and not sad is palpable. Be sure, this pressure is from me, no one else.

At some point this will end. Thank God, you’re probably thinking. That is worst and best thing about life. Unless you’re dead, it goes on. I can’t help that anymore than I can help what happened. Life is both cruel and generous.

I won’t be ending this with some a sentiment of hope and silver linings. Fuck that. As soon as I finish this sentence I’m going to get a brownie and watch Law and Order.

A Conclusion- Day 30 #500wordsaday

June 26, 2015

My final post in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

A Hormonal Woman’s Stream of Conscious:

I hate not finishing things, but my ability to do anything is so fucked right now that it’s all I can do to get out of bed, feed my kid, make a coffee—yay I get to have two cups again, silver linings I guess, right?— and go sit/lay on the couch. So writing a cohesive, coherent, interesting last post for this challenge, well, it won’t be happening.

At least I’ve journaled twice. That has to count for something. Today I even put on makeup. But mostly that’s to hide the dark circles under my eyes and the four pimples I got from all the hormones that were coursing through my body. The hormones are gone, but the pimples remain. Life is so funny.

Yesterday I sat on the couch, drinking sparkling wine, and watched Castle. Also, I was folding laundry. That sounds like the perfect housewife life. Wine+TV+laundry=an awesome day. I wish I could have enjoyed it. I wish that I hadn’t actively cried between sips of wine. It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic. That was day four of having a drink before five o’ clock. Not too much, mind you. Just enough to take the edge off.

Today my husband was warning me of the side effects of the pain meds they gave me. Could become additive, he said. Meh. I shrugged it off. I’m much more likely to become an alcoholic than a pill popper. I don’t like taking Advil. And because I’m a weird masochist, I want to feel the pain sometimes. It’s like a physical manifestation of how I feel.

A box of formula arrived on my doorstep on Friday. That was a gut punch. Not that I planned to formula feed that kid, I didn’t. The box raised a lot of questions, though. Who knew I was pregnant? I didn’t tell anyone besides my doctor and my immediate family. Do formula companies have access to my web history? Did they see me spending hours on the birth board forums? Or googling “what is the best Fettuccine Alfredo recipe”?

Being woken up at four am in the morning by your uterus cramping so badly you have to cling to a pillow in the fetal position sucks. My husband is out of town for work so when my daughter trots into my room at 6:56a after I’ve been awake for hours waiting for the pain to go away, I have to get up. Although, today  I didn’t. I told her it was still sleep time and she needed to get in bed with me for just five more minutes. Lucky me, she went back to sleep for almost 45. That was a win.

I went to Target with my mom today. It wasn’t as therapeutic as I wish it had been. I didn’t get anything for myself. I got all boring stuff. Toilet paper, bananas, Pull-Ups, and a new toothbrush. I guess the last thing is pretty sweet. I needed a new one. I have a bad habit of chewing on my toothbrush. Well, not so much chewing as clenching it between my teeth while I try to multi-task. Like, I’ll get dressed or start cleaning the house or make coffee. As if I can’t even stand still for two minutes while I brush my fucking teeth. Sometimes I wonder if I’m actually doing myself a disservice. What if by not concentrating harder on brushing, I’m not doing as thorough of a job as I should be? My husband’s toothbrush looks new still. We do things very differently.

I don’t feel like eating, so I’m not really. Which will be good, I guess, in the long run since I have to lose all the pudding, ice cream sandwiches, brownies, and cupcakes I indulged the last five weeks. It’s like, positive pregnancy test yay! Can’t celebrate with Champagne so I’ll go bake a batch of cupcakes. And then eat two. Then it’s “oh no! The cupcakes ran out, better go get a chocolate mousse cake from Central Market!” Who am I kidding? Those cakes are so good I eat them when not pregnant.

I’d meant for my last piece to be a poignant analysis of the journey of writing and finishing something everyday for thirty days. It is quite an accomplishment. Commitment is hard for me, so that I am finishing, even in this weird way, is important to me. I guess I went on two journeys. In a weird twist, I completed both. Though one was meant to least for another 200 or so more days. But that’s life, isn’t it? An ironic aphorism in my case.

South Carolina- Day 28 #500wordsaday

June 18, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

Today isn’t funny, even though I like to be funny. Funny is preferable. It’s light-hearted and my go-to way of skirting ugliness. Often times, I am inappropriate and my attempts to “lighten the mood” just end up making me look like an idiot. Oh, well. This post may do the same thing.

Today marks another string in a seemingly never ending nation wide, murderous rampage. After Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Shamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Kalief Browder and other countless black lives the nation stood up and finally said, “huh, maybe this country is still really fucking racist.” Just kidding. That didn’t happen. When people starting posting #blacklivesmatter, the nation stood up and finally said, “huh, maybe we should stop pretending that we’re all equal and have an honest discussion about race in this country.” Just kidding. That didn’t happen either. When communities rioted against injustice, oppression, pain the nation stood up and finally said, “wow, we are really failing the black community.” Just kidding. That didn’t happen.

The ugly truth is maybe black lives don’t matter. That’s the reinforced truth that is being impressed upon us. I’m trying to remember a time in my short life that has been marred with so much unnecessary death. So much violence founded in fear, ignorance, hate. I can’t.

Why do so many want to ignore this truth? It’s been asked before and will continue to be asked. How many people have to die for this country to care? Sure I care, maybe you care. Certainly others do, too.

But how many care? Enough?

When I type into Google “what is the percentage of blacks” why are the first two suggested fill-ins “in prison” and “on welfare”? I wanted to know this country’s racial breakdown. Why is that third?

We have, and have had, more than enough evidence that we are surrounded by racism. We don’t need to question that. It’s insulting to suggest that because of the Civil Rights movement in the sixties, racism was all but eradicated. We’re smarter than that.

Aren’t we? Maybe not. Or again, maybe we just don’t care. That’s a terrible thought. It’s as terrible as a five year old girl playing dead in a church while nine people around her were gunned down. It’s as terrible as five-year old girl even having to play dead. It’s as terrible as dismissing the perpetrator as an anti-Christian as opposed to a racist terrorist. It’s as terrible as citizens of this country being told time and time again, your problems are not my problems.

Today, we as a country bear witness to a planned act of racial terrorism. How will we respond? Who will we identify with? How many times must we go through this before we actually do, as a nation, stand up and finally say: “We are complicit in the racism, we need an honest and open discussion, we have failed our people and we can do better.”

I have to believe that we can do better. If not, god have mercy on our souls.

A Criminal Mind- Day 27 #500wordsaday

June 17, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

Many of the things I did as a child were solitary. Others were…even more solitary. I played school with my stuffed animals, wrote in my diary, and made up songs. One was for a proposed lemonade stand I never opened. I composed the music on a little electric piano. If I recall correctly, the lyrics were LE-MO-NADE repeated over and over to three different notes. My opus, ladies and gentlemen. 

One of my favorite pastimes was teaching myself how to evade would-be burglars and murderers. My closet at my mother’s house had these awesome built-in shelves above the bar that held my hanging clothes. Sometimes I would climb up there and hide for an extended period of time. My parents would be at work, my older sisters couldn’t be less interested in where I was, so what I was hiding from I couldn’t tell you. But I would gauge how safe I would be if someone were to break in. Could they see me? Maybe it would be better if I lay on my side and squish my body against the wall. Then, even if they shined a flashlight, I would remain hidden. CREEPY!

Also at my mother’s house, my middle sister and I shared a room until I was eight. When the oldest sister went to college, the middle sister got the vacated room. This was a mistake by my parents. Her room had windows that opened right onto the back deck. Perfect for sneaking out. My windows opened to a drop at least fifteen feet high. Perfect for trying to teach yourself escape skills. Which I did. God, I was weird.

After my middle sister moved out of our room, I was too scared to sleep in my room alone. Every night I would bring my blankets and pillow and sleep on her floor. She would talk on the phone to her friends while I snuggled into my little nest and slept. My only exception to that rule was if it was raining. In my inexperienced brain I reasoned that if it was raining, a potential killer’s gun would rust, rendering his attempt at killing me useless. I really don’t know what to say.

I wasn’t ever as frightened at my dad’s house. Whether this is due to my room being in the second story or the two huge and overprotective Labs we had, I’ll never know. 

In my life, I’ve only lived alone once, for a year. But it hardly counts because I had a boyfriend who slept over almost all the time. One time when he didn’t, the next door neighbor tried to break into my house.  This was a habit of his. Apparently, the women who rented the place before me had given him keys. On two occasions he had used the keys to come into my home and take things. What did he take you ask? Two Miller Lites and a package of Oscar Meyer hot dogs. On this brazen occasion, I ran to my closet and grabbed a golf club. While on the phone with 911, the dispatcher asked if I had a weapon. Uh, I said, I have a putter. Put it down before the cops get there, she instructed. After I got off the phone, I went to the hall and flashed the light on and off. This, I was certain, would terrify him and send him running…next door. I couldn’t prove it was him and the cops weren’t buying my “but he stole my beer and weiners!” story. They assumed I had gotten drunk off the remaining four Miller Lites and forgotten I’d eaten the entire package of hotdogs. This is bogus because a) you can’t get drunk drinking Miller Lite and b) refer back to argument A. 

I still get creeped out when I have to sleep alone. Especially now that I have a kid. The dog we have now is useless. If someone broke in, were my dog to wake up I doubt he’d do little more than sidle up to the burglar and beg for attention. 

Case in point. When my husband was out of town in April, bugs broke into my house and cornered me in my bedroom. My dog lay listless on his bed. The bugs refused my demands to vacate. A fatal error. I killed them all and got back in bed, Kim Gordon’s memoir, which doubled as my weapon, in hand. 

Hangovers of a different variety-Day 26 #500wordsaday

June 16, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

Living in non-reality is nice. When we were at the beach, we were in a luxury condo thanks to some very gracious and generous family friends, pods of dolphins nested right out the window, gregarious and pushy pelicans dive-bombed the water looking for food, and the salty sea air made my hair look awesome. It’s easy to get lost in the moments of freedom and leisure. 

I’m currently experiencing a beach hangover. I’m happy to be home. My bed is extremely comfortable, my pillow too. It’s filled with buckwheat hulls so it never collapses or gets hot. It took some time getting used to, but I would never go back to a regular pillow. I missed our dog and access to normal food. Where we stayed catered to tourists so the food at restaurants was expensive and bland. Not every restaurant of course, but many. My sunburn is finally starting to turn into a tan, which will last for approximately two days before it fades back to my normal skin color of translucent. 

Next week Sadie and I are going to my maternal grandmother’s which also happens to be in South Texas. No beach, dolphins or pelicans, but she does have a pool and is super close to some killer Mexican food. That will be a different reality though. Not quite as relaxing but just as important. My grandmother is 93 and broke her hip in February. She uses a walker to get around her 5,000 square foot house and had to move from her upstairs bedroom into the guest room where I’ve stayed since I was born. 

Changes like this are hard for me. I like things to stay the same. It’s, of course, easier that way. Seeing what is sometimes the natural evolution of life can be frightening. When my maternal grandfather suffered a stroke, we went to see him in the hospital. This was a man who still ran a thousand-acre farming business, drank a gallon of coffee a day, put Snickers in the fridge, and sometimes indulged in a Pabst Blue Ribbon. He was tall and purposeful. When we visited, he would take my sisters and me out on the farm to look for jack rabbits. Keep your eyes peeled, he would say. Gleefully, we bounced up and down in our seats scouring the earth for even a hint of bunny. I don’t actually know if we ever saw one, but that wasn’t the point, was it? 

In the hospital, he was not that man. He was unconscious, had trouble breathing. I was terrified. My grandmother cried. I’d never seen that before. I was only 13 so seeing adults cry shook me to my core. Again, all of this was natural but I couldn’t immerse myself in it. I wanted to run. He died a few days later and life at Memaw and Papaw’s was irrevocably changed. The new way became the new normal of course. We all adjusted, adapted. 

I reacted similarly when my father died. That is perhaps more understandable. It was one year before my grandfather’s death and my dad was killed by a drunk driver. Nothing about that is normal or part of any natural evolution. It was criminal, devastating, unthinkable. I shrouded myself in non-reality and stayed there for about ten years. Eventually I was able to pull myself out, adapt, adjust. The new way of life without my father became some sort of simulated normal. 

Death is clearly not a beach vacation’s equivalent. 

I don’t pretend to compare my hangover now to what we go through when we experience loss. But I like to visit my versions of non-reality. Sometimes it’s good to stay at the beach. 

Bonjour! Day 25- #500wordsaday

June 16, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

I’m trying to teach myself French. Why, you might ask. I don’t actually have a good reason. I’m not moving to France, I am not marrying a Frenchman, nor am I going to be acting in a movie where the complicated, yet intelligent and beautiful character is French. I’m not even going to France.

So why then? Je ne sais pas. I just am. I’ve been obsessed with France, specifically Paris, since I didn’t end up moving there to be a French model at age 15. But that’s another story. My husband and I took a trip there last May. It was magical. The food, the wine, the dirt cheap Champagne. It was my husband’s first trip abroad.

Prior to our vacation, I’d spent a little time playing around with my French Rosetta Stone. How many people spend, like, a few weeks “learning” a language and wind up shell-shocked when you arrive at the airport and no one is quizzing you on colors or counting to ten? Those things I could do. Also, I could possibly ask for a table at a restaurant. Then I would fumble and the waiter would graciously switch to English. Perfect, unaffected English. It’s kind of humiliating.

I can understand way more than I can speak. My crowning achievement was our last night. The waiter brought the change meant for another table and I communicated with him the error. Yay?

After we got back home, I vowed to become fluent should I ever get the opportunity to go back. I’ve spent the last year using this app called Duolingo. It’s nice because the lessons are short, so you feel like a rockstar knocking out five to ten lessons in 20 minutes. Though when they test you on what you learned, at least in my case, it’s way harder. The French have different sentence structure and words don’t translate precisely. That shouldn’t be a surprise. So am I fluent? No, not at all. I can read a lot of French. I can even hear it and translate pretty well. But coming up with sentences on my own? Not even close.

People often say that English is one of the hardest languages in the world. If that’s true, why do so many countries know it? And why do so few Americans know a foreign language? The trick is to spend a dense amount of time in the country and speak the language. Like a child learning to speak. It will be stilted and messy, but that’s how you learn what works and what won’t.

It’s been fifteen years since my first trip. The trip that terrified me and sent me fleeing back to a bad boyfriend and a small town that I never understood. The world was too big for my 15 year old self. I regret that. I used to think that I would get another opportunity to move to Paris. That my family could go there and I could be a writer in an exquisite apartment overlooking the Seine, my husband would be making chateaubriand in our small but serviceable kitchen, and my child would be a…a, uh. I don’t know. It wasn’t a very well thought out plan, which is why I’m writing in a house in Austin, TX overlooking no river, with my kid sitting on the floor next to me offering up Candy Land cards that match my robe.

Figuring it all out- Day 24 #500wordsaday

June 15, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

I wish I could say I was one of those people who knew they wanted to be a writer at an early age. When I was young, I wanted to be a lot of things. Most notably, Julia Roberts. Though my obsession with her began at the Lyle Lovett stage in her life, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to marry him. The hope was to replace Lyle with Tom Cruise.

You see, I actually wanted to be her. Not just follow in her acting, red haired, big toothed footsteps. I got a binder and started taking notes and making plans on how to become her. Things like, smile more, get important roles, move to L.A. I had it all figured out. I did a few plays in elementary school and at church. Juliet, Mary (as in the Virgin Mother), a pig, and other various supporting roles. Somewhere along the line, I started writing my own stories and plays. It wasn’t a conscious thought. They just sort of came to be. I never said “I want to be a writer.” To be honest, I’d forgotten about a lot of the stories I’d written until I found some in my Box. Do you have a Box? Mine is a banker box filled with everything from cards my mother got when I was born to photos from my first Christmas to the X-rays I had done before getting my braces.

I was going through my Box looking for something particular. After my father died in the sixth grade, the teachers had all the kids in my class write notes. This past December, one of my classmates took his own life. I remembered the note he had written me. It was kind and sweet, whereas the other ones, while thoughtful, talked of bears, spelling tests, and passed grandmothers. I remembered this boy’s letter had mentioned he was sorry I was going through something so hard, that it wasn’t fair, and he was mad for me. I wanted to find it and bring it to his parents. I thought his own words would be a nice gesture to express how I felt for them. It wasn’t there.

However, a leopard print Lisa Frank folder was. It held stories I’d written and one it seems I’d plagiarized from a Judy Blume novel. Sorry about that! The stories range between tween angst and some guy names Jerry who gets a job at McDonalds to save for a trip to Europe to do research for school paper. He was hoping to either win the lottery or borrow the money from his friend John, but how many high schoolers can front the money for a European vacation?

So while I’m proud to say that I’ve been writing for 20 years, it wasn’t until about ten years ago I thought maybe it was something I wanted to do to make my living. And it wasn’t until three years ago, I started to try. And by try I mean actually writing consistently. I don’t have an MFA, I didn’t even graduate from college. I don’t know if I’ll ever make a dollar from writing and I guess that’s ok. At least I have clarity now about what I want to do. And let’s be honest, becoming a successful author is about as likely as becoming Julia Roberts. Though I’ve come around on Lyle Lovett. I’ll leave you with my bio that I wrote as a fourth grader.

Rebekah, often called Beka. Child of Jim, Jan, David and Bobbi Kaye. Resident of Austin, TX, student of soccer and gymnastics.

Described as cute, funny, and weird.

Lover of sports, friends, and animals.

Who feels happy, excited, crazy. Who needs family, friends, my pets, who gives encouragements, smiles. Who fears tomatoes, peppers, worms. Who would like to see R rated movies, Europe, the moon.

Dear Sadie- Day 23 #500wordsaday

June 14, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

Today we built sandcastles. Well, your dad and I piled the sand and you knocked it down. But if that’s what’s fun to you, great. You ran around kicking the water then squealing as you ran from the waves. The tide was high so we had to stay close to you. I’m a paranoid mother and worried about you being washed away, like my precious Jelly sandal 27 years ago. We looked for sea shells and put them in your orange whale scoop. When a crab came running by, you chased it and wanted to get it. “Awwwwwww, it’s so cute” you said. It, however, did not want to be gotten. The crab scurried away and buried itself in the sand. It left one eyeball poking out to act as a lookout. Your dad compared it to the periscope on a submarine. You didn’t know what that meant.

A large waved tried to carry all of our stuff away while you and your dad were playing in the water. I ran and got everything and piled it on our low beach chairs. Our clothes got soaked and sandy, but everything else seemed fine. You guys didn’t even notice. You turned around and waved, beaming.

A family next to us was flying kites and you said you wanted to fly a kite. I said, maybe when you’re a little older. Like maybe in a few minutes, you said.

We dug holes in the sand to search for more crabs, but we didn’t find any. When it started nearing noon, it was getting too hot and sunny for mine and your dad’s pale skin. Ten more minutes, we said. You were content to play in the sand, but I convinced you to go back in the water one last time.

Your father sat on the ocean floor and held you while waves crashed into your squirming and elated little body. I went to grab my phone from its safe spot in the bag to take a photo of you two in the water. However, the tidal wave seemed to have activated some sort of demonic possession of my phone. It was burning up and the LED flashlight wouldn’t turn off. Uh oh.

Instead I tried to memorize your face, your smile, your laughter and joy. Your dad and I looked pretty happy too. This was our last beach day and I hope you remember how special it was to you. I know we will.

You’re a lucky little girl. Your Norwegian blood runs strong in you. Fair haired and blue eyed, you don’t burn, you tan. Whereas I look like a lobster after 20 minutes in the sun at 10am. At dinner last night, you shoved your fajita plate away and instead ate half of Pop’s grilled Snapper covered in lump crab meat. We had to wait an hour and 45 minutes for a table. You really only started to lose your mind after we finished eating. I was proud of you.

This past few days have been wonderful. Watching you swim in the pool, fearlessly jumping in and trying to learn out to kick your legs to get from one end of the pool to the other. Your feigned interest in the dolphins, herons, and pelicans for my benefit is sweet and wise beyond your three years. The water is your home. You’re a Pisces so it makes sense.

I’ve learned that with nature and outside activities, toys and TV aren’t quite as appealing. Though sometimes needed.

All of this is to say, we’re spending your inheritance on a beach house. You’re welcome.

Beachin- Day 22 #500wordsaday

June 13, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

Today I saw out what joy really is. And for those of you who don’t know, it’s witnessing a child going to the beach for the first time and feeling a wave crash against your body while the undercurrent retreats underfoot. My daughter has in fact been to the beach before but she was 15 months old and understandably doesn’t remember. With each wave, a squeal of joy and apprehension escaped her throat. This happened every five to seven seconds because the movements of the ocean are constant. That’s one of the things I love most about the beach and the ocean. The sound of the waves rolling in and out. It’s deafening. There were people all around us but I couldn’t hear any of them. It was like they didn’t exist. That’s a nice place for me to be.

I won’t say our experience was ruined, but it was certainly dampened. At one point we were sitting at the water’s edge, waiting for the waves to “chase us” when the first bit of trash washed over us. It looked to be the lid of a plastic paint bucket and it was coated in crustacean type things that had vainly thought they were squatting on something more exotic, like a tanker.  Later, while looking for shells, Sadie held up something and said “what kind of shell is this mama?” It was styrofoam. I had to help her maneuver her way down to the shore. Glass, bottle tops, cigarette butts littered our walkway.

None of this took away from her experience. It was maybe the best hour and a half of her life. But it made me sad. Yesterday, my husband was out on the balcony of the condo where we are staying. A guy had just pulled his boat into the marina. He was cleaning out his cooler of fish that he had just caught. He sprayed a hose into the cooler to rinse it out and then dumped the water, and a plastic bag, back into the ocean. No fewer than five different marine species were in his direct vicinity.

I’m not perfect. I get take out that uses styrofoam, a lot of the stuff I buy comes in non-biodegradable packaging that I put in the trash. I don’t always eat produce before it expires. But at least I can compost that. There are surely way worse things that I do that I’m not even thinking of right now because they seem so second nature. I don’t claim to be morally superior to anyone. But do I get a smug satisfaction from picking up those plastic six-pack ring things that hold beer together? Then thinking of the six dolphins, turtles, birds, sea otters that I’ve saved? Yes, yes I do. I clip them with purpose and curse the bastard who so thoughtlessly discarded such a dangerous weapon to the ground. It’s hyperbolic, sure, but I’ve seen enough WWF commercials to know what I’m talking about.

But what if, and hear me out, what if my kid’s kids can’t go to the beach because it’s overrun with trash or the water is so polluted from the crap we pour down the drain? That would be a tragedy. Like, what if Wall-E really happens? I’m only kind of kidding.

We’ll go back to the beach tomorrow and she’ll have the second best day of her life. Or maybe it will surpass today because her dad will get to go. She’ll dig in the mud and pour it on our legs, something that must be inherent in children because I loved doing that too. We’ll find more shells and scream in more waves. I’ll point out surfers, jumping fish, and try to forget that I once caught a hammerhead shark off a pier just like the one thirty feet from where we are standing. I threw it back and it was like two feet long, but still.

Nature- Day 21 #500wordsaday

June 12, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

In preparation for the upcoming Jurassic World movie release, every single networks in the world played Jurassic Park this past weekend. The original was released when I was in third grade, making me eight years old. My parents thought it would make a great family outing. I made it though the first scene where the Velociraptor eats that guy while the other guy yells “Shooooooot her!” I made it through them putting the goat out as bait for the T-Rex. I made it up to Laura Dern fisting a mountain of Triceratops’ poop. That scene, in my eight year old brain, was too strong of a premonition for what was coming. The suspense was overwhelming. I whispered into my mother’s ear that it was too much for me and I’d wait out in the lobby. She thrust a few dollars at me and shooed me out.

After a few rounds of Pac-Man and a Coke, I sat on a bench and waited for my family to emerge. The people working at the concession stand kept asking if I was OK, did I need anything. Was I sure my parents were in there? Finally the movie let out and I got to leave. Everyone agreed it was amazing, but it was better that I had left. I waited until high school before I watched it again. By ninth grade Scream was my favorite movie so watching Jurassic Park seemed like it would be a walk in the park. Eh? Eh?

It was terrifying. But I loved it. I love movies like that. Horror movies that are probably never going to actually happen. I can handle those. Movies like Paranormal Activity, though, I can’t watch. There is already enough unwanted activity in my brain, I don’t need disappearing babies or zombie spouses.

As we were watching the movie last weekend, I remarked to Scott that it seemed unrealistic that at every opportunity the dinosaurs were attacking or hunting or being overall assholes. There was never a moment, at least concerning the scariest ones, where they were just hanging out. Like, scratching their tummies, shooting the breeze, picking at their ears. Not that T-Rex arms accommodate such a need. I wondered if the constant aggression was historically accurate or perhaps a heavy handed director leaning toward drama and fear.

When my mom asked Scott and me if we wanted to visit a wildlife refuge for alligators this morning I thought, how timely! I could observe these dinosaurish creatures in their simulated natural habitat. When we arrived, another family was just leaving and alerted us to the location of the alligators. There were two, a gigantic male and a slightly less gigantic female. Both were quite scary. To look at, though. Because the whole hour we were there the most action we saw was a swish of a tale and a location change. They moved to the left about five feet. Despite the rampant duck, turtle, fish, assorted other bird life populating the very near area no attack was made or even seemed to be contemplated. The gators never charged us or even seemed to give a shit that we were there. Thus proving my theory that nature is not made to be quite so aggressive. That isn’t to say I give an endorsement to an entire park of dinosaurs, but if a certain species has managed to survive millions of years of evolution I think you can have your marsh and eat it, too.


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