Friday Favorites (May 25-May 29)

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This will be our last Friday Favorites post until autumn. We’re taking a bit of a break this summer though we will still feature 3 new submissions every week!

Baddest Mother Ever shares A Blue Slip.

Is there a lazy dad myth? Watch Andy Hinds destroy it.

Hey, writers! It’s time to submit like a man.

What do you notice – Flaws or Fabulousness?

Don’t forget to check out our great submissions from this week:

Comma Chameleon

Hiding Out

Two Bowls of Popcorn

Comma Chameleon

profile picWay back in 1984, when I would listen to the Culture Club song, “Karma Chameleon,” I would always picture a large, black comma and a colorful chameleon. Ah, 1984, the year which musically gifted us with such hits as, “When Doves Cry” (that video with Prince in the bathtub was strange), “Jump” (what the heck kind of uppers was David Lee Roth taking), “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (I, too, wanted to be like Cyndi Lauper and cavort with professional wrestlers), and, the classic “Sunglasses at Night” (who cares why Corey Hart further darkened his vision in the darkness–he was a hottie!).

Apparently, my 10-year-old self hadn’t become acquainted with the word or notion of karma, or maybe I was more fascinated with Boy George’s appearance to bother questioning his fetish for punctuation-loving reptiles. Either way, at some point in my life, I eventually realized the correct title, and it didn’t really change the way I listened to the song. Then one day I watched an interview with Boy George as he explained the true meaning behind the title. He talked about not being true to yourself, and having to change based on whom you are with at the time (hence, the *chameleon* reference). Oh, I thought, that really makes sense (kind of). I’m still not sure about the karma part.

Recently and randomly, I looked up what Boy George actually said: “the song is about the terrible fear of alienation that people have, the fear of standing up for one thing. It’s about trying to suck up to everybody.” I had a light bulb/a-ha/God moment: I have lived much of my life as that chameleon.

For a very long time, I have subconsciously carried around a big sign that reads, “SOUL FOR RENT. WHO DO YOU NEED ME TO BE?” My chameleon identity and self worth have been so dependent upon others’ opinions of Superficial Me: my hair, my clothes, my kids, my car, my behavior, my parents, my weight, my engagement ring, my music choices, my vacation destinations, my ability to make and keep you happy. I often have spared no expense (both financially and spiritually) to acquire whatever I needed to change or wear or say or pray, just to keep me feeling a part of something and somebody. The fear of alienation, of being left out, of offending or bothering someone with my personal thoughts, opinions, or beliefs can crowd out any desire for me to discover the roots and vines of who I really am, and what I really aspire to be. How can I know who I am if I’m always so busy distorting, warping, and camouflaging myself to hide my lack of identity?

I know I’m not alone; I’ve met some other chameleons in my life. I can pick them out in a crowd. As a dear friend recently pointed out to me, “if you spot it, you got it.”

Thankfully, I’ve encountered some former chameleons who finally had the courage to quit the camouflage and start the process of discovering who they are at their core. Beautiful, imperfect, vulnerable souls carefully plucking those values, beliefs, preferences, dislikes, and boundaries, then sewing them together to form a beautiful, custom-made patchwork quilt of identity. I want a quilt; I crave, no, I yearn for one of my own. I want to construct it with pieces of what works for me, what gives me goosebumps, what pushes me to the edge and lets me take leaps of faith with no fear. Some days I feel so far away from achieving that goal.

The former chameleons have assured me that there is hope, so long as I remain open to ideas and changes, become brutally honest with myself, and stay willing to look at my insides, warts and all. They have promised to remain close to me throughout my discovery and identity-forming processes, but they say there really is no endpoint. So basically we former and soon-to-be-former chameleons journey together, providing feedback as needed, accepting and celebrating one another’s weaknesses and strengths, and developing multilevel, anti-superficial relationships based on trust and mutual respect. By tearing away and continuing to destroy the camouflage, we find ourselves in the process.

So thank you, George Alan O’Dowd (a.k.a, Boy George) for your honesty, openness, and willingness to write about a part of ourselves that we often try to hide. Who knew an 80s song could have so much depth?

Now, sing with me, “Comma, comma, comma, comma, comma chameleon, you come and go, you come and gooooo. Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dream, red gold and green, red gold and greeeen.”

Bio: Laura Cárdenas Schwarz is a woman in recovery who has managed to keep her husband, kids, and pets from running for the hills. She is the owner of esperanza life & recovery coaching and blogs at esperanza–the blog. She can also be found on Twitter

Hiding Out

After hiding out at the library in anticipation of a morning showing at our house, I returned around lunchtime. I took all of my books, electronics and keys out of my bags and put the tablecloth back on the table. I’d even started a load of desperately-needing-to-be-done laundry.

Lo and behold, though, a car pulled up, slammed its doors, and I heard fast footsteps approaching up my front stairs. Fudge! Sugar! (You know what words really erupted out of my mouth!) While keys jiggled in the lock, I scrambled to hide those items I’d pulled back out and struggled to shut off the radio on my phone which wouldn’t turn off no matter what button I pushed. I almost felt like a burglar who realized the owners were returning home and should wrap up the robbery and forget about the large flat screen TV! (BTW, there’s a hysterical episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “The Gang Gets Trapped,” that expresses these frantic feelings perfectly.)

Instead of gathering up my things and creeping out the back door to surreptitiously sit in my car, I waited to face the music and the “intruders”. However, I did feel creepy, knowing I’d possibly startle the agent and see the potential future owner of my property. No way did I want to meet up with someone out to pick apart my home and count down the reasons why they didn’t want to buy it. They did not need to get acquainted with me in such an awkward, in-your-face situation. Never mind that I write about myself and my life in a public forum – there’s still a shade of anonymity between my words and my actual physical being.

So when the somewhat surprised agent opened the door, he found me hovering over my computer. Trying too hard to be casual, smiling a little too widely, and showing every one of my slightly crooked teeth which possibly held an errant poppy seed from my breakfast bagel. I guess I should be relieved they didn’t enter the house when I was on the toilet or stepping out of the shower naked!

“Just give me a few minutes!” I squeaked out nervously. They were supposed to be here two hours ago!

“Take your time!” the agent said magnanimously. Yeah, it’s my house! And you’re late!
Shoving the slightly soiled tablecloth back into the dryer, cramming my belongings into my tote bag and setting my computer into the sleep mode while I ran around making sure everything was just right, I walked out of the house, bound for my car to who knows where.

The agent insisted I stay, claiming they’d only be a few minutes since they didn’t have much time. Well, I was NOT staying! It was weird! And I wasn’t fielding any questions about the house. I’d probably divulge the wrong thing about the neighborhood or point out something unappealing or broken that needed repairing pronto that wasn’t visible to the naked eye or potential homeowner.

“That’s okay!” I tittered nervously, hearing my mom’s voice in my head, reminding me to be polite and to be charitable. Not now, Mom!

Head down like an alleged criminal being led to the police car with a towel over his/her head, I raced to the car, hoping I didn’t trip down the stairs like an ass. Why didn’t we replace the railing on the stairs sooner?!

Relieved to reach my car, I hopped in, dumping bags on the seat next to me. And not just the bags I came into the house with — between the time I’d arrived home and then rushed out, my new purse was delivered, so an additional bag accompanied me to the car. Just call me Bag Lady!

Now what was I going to do? Read a book? Somehow open up my computer in the tight space allowed me in the front seat of my small SUV, steering wheel jutting between us? I know! I’ll call my husband!

When I pushed the button for his number, some strange series of beeps spit out, instead of ringing. Was I speaking to R2-D2 or my husband B?

“Hello?! Hello?!” It turned out that when I’d pushed the button, he’d dialed my cell number at exactly the same time, having failed to reach me inside. Eerie coincidence?! I explained what happened.

“So where are you now?” B asked.

Covering the phone with my hand and crouching down into the seat, I stage-whispered, “In the car!”

We proceeded to chat, me whispering, him replying in amusement, first about the unexpected showing that caught me off guard and then ponderings about what to eat for dinner. Then I froze and stopped talking.

“What’s wrong?! Still there?” B thought the connection was interrupted.

“Shh, they’re looking at the backyard!” I frantically shushed him like these guys could hear me through the closed doors and tempered glass windshield. Crouching down further, I tried not to peek at the two men appraising the backyard which looked terrible with melting, dirty snow and scrubby-looking grass. Please don’t look at the crappy shed with the peeling paint! We didn’t get a chance to replace it!

As I spied the men passing by my car, I pretended not to notice and kept up the charade of my phone call which ended earlier before they exited the yard through the gate.

“Yeah, chicken, yeah, yeah, that would be great for dinner!” Good! They’re gone!

I watched the garishly-painted real estate van pull out of my driveway through the windshield, relieved that I could cut short the pretense of busily talking on my phone.

Why was I so anxious to put distance between me and the “intruders”? What did it matter if I hung out in my own home while they walked through it? Would my presence really change their mind either way about whatever they felt about my house? At least, I wasn’t in mismatched underwear or eating some sloppy food like barbecued ribs.

Lessons Learned: Always be prepared when selling your home (or manage to find a job that keeps me out of the house during the day or at least when potential buyers visit)! Who knew that selling our home would provide so much blog material?!

Bio: M.B. Sanok is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom living with her family in South Jersey. She is a contributing writer for Jersey Moms Blog and South Jersey MOM magazine. Some of her work has appeared on MetroKids MomSpeak, BlogHer, BonBon Break, Moms Who Write and Blog, the Original Bunker Punks, Midlife Boulevard and Mom Babble. In her spare time, she volunteers for the International MOMS Club, a non-profit support group for stay-at-home moms. Her personal blog is Maple Brown Sugar. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Two bowls of popcorn

I sort of hated having a due date when I was pregnant.

The thing I hated about it was that it was really just a doctor’s best guess. As a natural born planner, a guess wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. For such a monumental life change, I wanted a sure thing.

I spent most of my pregnancy operating under the assumption that Ryan wouldn’t arrive until pretty close to the due date. Then, at 34 weeks, a friend of mine pointed out that she’d had her son at 35 weeks. I ran home to pack a hospital bag, suddenly worried he’d come early.

And then I sat around and waited. And waited. AND WAITED. And the little stinker was 10 days late.

Still, when you’re pregnant, you can usually pinpoint the baby’s arrival to a span of 3-4 weeks. I’m realizing now what a luxury that is.

This time is very different. This time, there is no due date. I have no ultrasounds to share. There’s no growing bump to compare to the first time around.

But all the same, we’re expecting. I’m not going to give birth in nine months, but at some point (hopefully) this year, we will become a family of four.

We will spend the next few months proving ourselves worthy as parents and then one day (in three months? in eight months?), our agency will call us up and they’ll say they’ve found our child. Technically, we’ll foster our child first, for however many months (years?) it takes for his or her case to work its way through the legal system.

Ohhhh, the variables involved in growing your family this way. The variables run circles around my brain.

It’s actually a lot of the same variables you have with a pregnancy. You don’t know the child’s gender or personality or preferences. But with a baby, some of it doesn’t matter right away. Trial and error is your best friend. Screaming baby? Try milk. No? Try rocking. Still no? Change the diaper. Shift your position. Give them a different view. Take off a layer of clothing. And on and on.

When you screw it all up, when you still can’t stop the screaming, it’s fine because babies don’t remember. They might be mad, they might be uncomfortable, but they don’t know enough about the world to blame you for it.

We’re not having a baby, though. We’re requesting a young child, approximately Ryan’s age, give or take a couple years in either direction. And experience tells me that a 3- to 5-year-old knows when you’re screwing it all up.

You’ve got to be a little more on your game with a preschooler. They might hate the color green but you don’t know that, so you give them the green cup and it enunciates a key insecurity in both of you: You’re not the real mom. You’re an impostor. A mom would have known her child hates green but loves red. A mom would have reached automatically for the red cup.

This time, though, I know better than to spend too much time treading in my own worry. It’s a stressful waste of time, one that doesn’t change life’s outcomes.

I worried Ryan would be colicky. He wasn’t. I worried we wouldn’t bond right away. We did. I worried he’d be born with some kind of developmental delay. Nope, all good.

I didn’t worry his immune system would be a pathetic revolving door of germs for the first two years. But it was. So, what’s the point in worrying when I always worry about the wrong things?

Instead, I’m focusing on that which I can control. I can fill out the 1-inch-thick pile of paperwork. I can set up the kid’s room. I can line up babysitters for our adoption training sessions.

And, I can follow Ryan’s lead. Four-year-olds are wise, you know. He doesn’t worry about timelines or what-ifs. His concerns are much simpler yet somehow more profound.

He wants to know whether his brother or sister will watch movies with him; more importantly, he wants to know whether I’ll make two bowls of popcorn so they can each have one.

Two bowls of popcorn. Yes, I can do that.

Bio: Meghan Moravcik Walbert is a freelance writer, wife and stay-at-home mom to a spirited little boy. Her writing has been featured in a variety of publications and websites, including Mamalode, BlogHer, Mom Babble and BonBon Break. She blogs at PhaseThreeOfLife. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Friday Favorites (May 18-22)

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Allison explains How To Be The Sexiest One At The Pool.

Jana shares a heartfelt post about her son: Twelve

Finding Joy talks about 20 Things She Will Not Regret Doing With Her Kids.

This is how you should spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day.

Don’t forget to check out our great submissions from this week:

I Do Not Exist

My Ex Got Custody of His Friends in the Divorce

The Bridge That Inspired a Thousand Personal Statements

I Do Not Exist

Did you know that I don’t exist? I am so far off the grid that the government doesn’t even know that I was ever here. My whole life is operating in Ghost Protocol right now.

Confused? So is the IRS, Social Security Administration, State and Federal government and the State of California.

I was born on Halloween. I know that because I was there. I even confirmed that fact with my mother, father and the midwife. I am absolutely certain of that fact, but…

October 31st, 1985…the conspiracy begins
Tracy is born in California. She is perfect. The world rejoices. Then the following mistakes occurred:

1-born at home because my mother is a Viking warrior and feels no pain
2-birth is recorded.
3-person recording birth doesn’t know how to work a calendar.
4-date of birth is recorded as November 31st
5-November 31st does not exist
(for real, there are only 30 days in November, but on a legal and binding document somebody wrote down that I was born on a make believe day. They might as well have written that I was born on Frabjous day…when that day come the Mad Hatter will dance…whoops, I got distracted)

And thus the first record of me in this world was a lie.

Now cut to many years later. The birth certificate has been legally changed. Tracy gets a ticket for a car accident and appears at court. Yet the court has no record of the incident because the girl DOESN’T EXIST!

More years pass. Tracy tries to file her taxes (as she has been doing successfully for over 10 years), but the IRS keeps calling her a liar and assuring her that she was in fact born on December 31st. Um…the f**k? As a result she has to file by mail like a cave person…and is still waiting for her money by the way, government.

Now this is all a little strange, but you should also know that I HAVE NO FINGERPRINTS! That is a true story! I burned them off accidentally when I took a glass blowing class. This almost cost me a job when I went to get fingerprinted for the bank I worked at and the guy kept just getting these smooth prints with none of the identifying little nooks and crannies.

Do you know what the moral of this story is? It’s that I SHOULD BE COMMITTING SO MANY CRIMES!

I am an untraceable, paperwork free American ghost! In fact, I’d like to apologize to the criminal community for squandering this opportunity. I feel like I should test my untouchable-ness. Does anyone know if there is really a map on the back of the Constitution? Never mind, I’ll find out.

Bio: Tracy Lynn is a writer, blogger, nomad and quasi-adult with a wanderlust that regularly zeroes out her bank account. She loves used book stores, Arrested Development, her dog Willow and sweatpants. If you enjoy made up statistics you should check out her blog at forarainyday

This entry was posted in writing.

My Ex Got Custody of His Friends in the Divorce

I met my husband one weekend when I was home from college. That Monday, I was back in Pennsylvania telling friends about the magical time I spent with “such a great guy.” I drove home to New York nearly every weekend to be with him.

His friends quickly became my friends. Our friends were carefree and full of life. Every weekend was a blast. We had a lot of laughs and drank tons of beer. We carpooled to weddings where we were always the “fun table.” We went camping. We played darts and pool. We bowled. We rang in New Year’s Eves together. Birthdays, anniversaries, a typical Saturday night…we always celebrated – together.

When we finally married, many of these friends stood beside us as part of our wedding party.

Fast-forward eight more years and my [then] husband decided that he did not want to be married to me anymore. It all happened quicker than pulling off a band-aid, but a lot more painful. And with my [then] husband’s departure from our life, I lost friendships. I guess the “for better or for worse” promise didn’t apply to them, either.

There wasn’t any jealousy, backstabbing, cattiness or bad-mouthing. None of that. Our common denominator simply left my equation. My situation was made even worse when not only did the [I thought] love of my life leave, but when he took his posse with him. My ex-husband got custody of his friends.

When my ex-husband left, one of the first things I did was grab a box of tissues and a stack of photo albums (in case you are wondering, I didn’t grab a bottle of wine because I was pregnant with our third child. Yeah, that happened!). I turned page-by-page and sobbed, picture-by-picture, of smile-filled moments. (I am showing my age here – this is a time when people actually developed pictures taken on an actual camera.)

While many wronged ex-wives would tear up Every. Single. Picture. with “his” mug in it, I couldn’t. I simply packed them away. One day, our three children may want to see how their parents looked when they were young and in love and the fun times they had with their friends. Until then, these pictures can collect dust and be forgotten memories.

But they are not forgotten. And honestly, I do not want to forget them. We may not see each other anymore or raise our glasses together, but nobody – not even my ex-husband – can take my memories away.

I have often wondered how those old friends are doing. Where they are living. What they are doing. Who they married. How old their children are. Fast-forward eight more years to today and through the wonders of social media, I have been able to catch a little glimpse here and there.

I have been blessed with amazing circles of friends throughout my life. Those who have exited these circles, whether by choice or by circumstance, have left me with memories that I will forever cherish.

One day, I am sure I will take that box of old photos from the attic and smile, remembering times of carefree laughter. For now, I am going to go look at the photo stream on my phone and be happy that the people in those photos – including my new husband, who turns out to be the actual love of my life – will be by side forever.

And a final note to those old friends whom I am not friends with anymore: Godspeed. No hard feelings.

Bio: Mother to three, stepmom to two, wife to [THE] one, autism parent and MS patient, Leigh-Mary Hoffmann is a “my lifestyle” blogger from Long Island, NY, juggling a family, a job, and a busy, crazy life. She tells it like it is – the good, the bad and the in-between – and tries to keep a smile on her face and laughter in her life. Visit her blog, Happily Ever Laughter Blog, and share in the laughter.

The Bridge That Inspired a Thousand Personal Statements

The caption on this could be, “I’m a vegetarian, but every couple of months, I chop a chicken’s head off with a machete.”

I am not a vegetarian and not the girl crying as she holds the chicken’s detached neck or the two with their hands clapped over their mouths. I’m the one in the horrible blue Hawaiian shorts, standing nonchalantly off to the side. I’m pretty sure my only thought at that point was, “When can we cook it?”

After more than a week hiking through the dense Costa Rican cloud forest, and mostly living off fruit, bread and rice, I was pretty ecstatic to be eating meat. I probably wouldn’t have balked at killing the cow too, except when you are carrying everything you need in a backpack for three-plus weeks, you can’t really spare an extra set for soaking in blood.

This might not seem like a profound moment, but it was the first step of the transition from teenager-who-can’t-boil-water, and definitely wouldn’t touch raw meat, to Michael Pollan-obsessed grown-up.

My fellow hikers and I were at the home of a host family, the older brother of our guide, his wife and their five young children, somewhere on the western slope of the Sierra de la Muerte in Costa Rica, in May of 2001. Within an hour’s hike of their home was the home of our guide’s parents, where he and his brother were raised with their 16 siblings. We could barely walk down the rain-drenched hillside before we were caked in mud (and by this point, my hair hadn’t been completely dry in several days), so I was astonished to see the children dash back from the village school in immaculate white uniforms.

The house had running water, with pipes and pumps constructed by the family, and an iron stove carried by two men from the nearest town with a road, many miles away. We also picked manzanas de agua (water apples) and cashew fruit off the trees and ate them sitting on the deck, where we slept at night gazing at stars in the darkest sky I’d ever seen (malaria = not a problem). A hotel chain was exploring building an eco-tourism resort there, but the family was unanimously opposed to it, because of the potential for contaminating their water supply and damaging the delicate ecosystem. Though the resort would bring roads and easier access to towns, cities, secondary schools and hospitals, they preferred the quality of life provided the pristine environment.

This trip encapsulated more than a few formative moments. The second day of hiking was possibly one of the worst days of my life. For some reason, I thought being a healthy, energetic 19-year-old who skied, ran on an elliptical and played an embarrassing game of racquetball once in awhile counted as sufficient training for hiking 12-15 miles a day. Oops. Wrong. I was wearing brand-new, unbroken-in boots too, Cheryl Strayed-style. I actually cried for the better part of four hours that day, which thankfully no one noticed because my tears blended seamlessly with the torrential rain.

It was neither the first nor the last time that I thought, “Well, should have seen this coming,” and, “Why do I keep convincing myself character-building experiences are going to be really fun?”

On the third day, we came to a bridge. You could call it the Bridge of Life and Death, or maybe the Bridge of Really Momentous Choices. Or the Bridge That Inspired a Thousand Personal Statements.

Or the Bridge Whose Symbolism Devoured Reality.

In my memory, the bridge is made of wooden planks, little more than a foot wide, hammered end-to-end and slick with rain. The sides are rope. Fifty or a hundred feet down is a roaring river, swollen from the constant downpour. I don’t remember the bridge swaying, so it must not have been windy – and I consider my memory of what wasn’t terrifying about this bridge fairly reliable. There must have been some veracity to my perception of danger, because our guide opted to carry each of our backpacks across for us, making several round trips, so that we would only have to contend with only our own body weight. The guides helpfully warned us that there would be no way to rescue us if we fell. (It seemed worse in retrospect when we heard they decided to use an alternative route on future trips.)

Spoiler: We all survived. I haven’t quite figured out that trick of building suspense when readers already know how it ends.

I remember looking behind us, my eyes tracing the muddy slope we had just stumbled down, unable to see any evidence of a trail ever existing there. It was as clear to me then as it ever has been that there was no going back; the only way forward was, well, forward.

See the symbolism? It was just like life! So, like life, I milked it for all it was worth: at least a dozen personal statements.

I’m not usually afraid of heights, but I do remember being a little bit scared, in that moment, and thinking, “Okay, this would be a really stupid way to die. In the, you know, greater scheme of things. Don’t get shaky and fuck it up.” And then I walked across it. And kept on walking, another 60 or so miles, stopping along the way to kill a chicken and swim in a stunningly clear brook and learn to surf without knocking myself out with my surfboard.

I flew home without underwear or socks, because everything except the jeans and shirt I’d arrived in was still damp, and I ended up tossing them or leaving them for the next group of hikers to straggle into San José. The airline equivalent of a house red tasted ridiculously good and I practically kissed the ground when we landed – I was, admittedly, pretty glad to still be alive.

Back on American soil, my friend picked me up and took me to IHOP – it wouldn’t be my first, or fifteenth, choice now, but I was strangely thrilled to be in American suburbia. For the next few days, I hung out at the house of his Mandarin-speaking parents, who were kind and welcoming and clearly worried their son might have brought home a white girlfriend. I watched American cartoons with his three-year-old sister. She taught me to use chopsticks. His mom taught me I must never boil corn on the cob. See? Life is full of unexpected lessons.

Then I drove my beloved Mustang, still playing that same CD, south to spend the summer with my grandmother. About a month later, I had another “formative moment” – this time in the form of a bot fly larva in my calf. Note to the squeamish: Stop here.

I heard about these while I was hiking. In fact, I hiked with long pants for the first couple days, because I was so determined to avoid anything this tragically disgusting happening to me. Eventually, in the battle of Tropical Rainy Season vs. Amy’s Fear of Bugs, the rain won, and I switched to shorts. And somewhere along the way, I picked up one of these mostly harmless but really, really icky little creatures. I had several mosquito bites when I got back to the States, but only one didn’t go away. It got bigger and seemed to open, oozing bloody liquid. I insisted it was an allergic reaction that got infected from scratching, and I coated it with a thick layer of Neosporin and a heavy bandage. You can be the judge of whether this was subconsciously wise or merely lucky – but I had been taught to remove the larvae using Vaseline and duct tape to cut off oxygen. At the time, I swore I was just treating an infected bite.

Several hours and a little tequila later, I noticed my leg was itching even more than it had been. In the bathroom, I peeked under the Band-Aid and saw It. The worst part was that when I exposed the area to the air, it tried to crawl back in. I know it wasn’t a life-or-death infection, but it felt like it, at the time. Survival instinct, fueled by adrenaline, kicked in, and I yanked it out and dropped it on the rug. Then I disinfected my wound and went to wake up my boyfriend before my adrenaline levels crashed and sheer panic/horror/revulsion set it. We examined it, flushed it down the toilet and then put Google to work telling us whether there might be anymore and whether it required medical treatment – no and no. We were both premed by then – asking Dr. Google was a completely normal and expected reaction to a subcutaneous parasite acquired in a tropical country.

That was the first – and last – time I woke up the next morning really grateful for saying YES!!! to that third shot of tequila.

Bio: Amy Caruso Brown is a pediatric oncologist from a small town in upstate New York. She teaches ethics, advocacy and social responsibility to medical students. She writes a blog about family recipes, and she inherited a second blog when her father died last year, where she writes about whatever inspires her. In her spare time, when she’s not feeling guilty about not having saved the world yet, she skis, rock climbs, runr, plays the piano and flute, drinks good wine and tries to write a novel. (Not all at the same time…)

Friday Favorites (May 11-15)

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I’m Not the Nanny tells about Cooking Her First Pot of Rice

Learn about the Quarterback who fulfilled a promise from 4th grade.

Dena D. Hobbs is sharing several “Mosaics of Motherhood” stories this week.

Meagan Francis and Jessica Ashley started a great podcast called Write-at-Home-Moms

Don’t forget to check out our great submissions from this week:

My Car Is My Quiet Place

Never Lose Your Hunger

These Things Are All Related

 

My Car Is My Quiet Place

car-is-quiet-placeCall me weird, but I really like to sit in my car. Alone. Quietly.

It has nothing to do with driving-I like that, too, especially when it’s on the open highway. What I’m talking about are those rare moments when I’m completely locked in my glass bubble. The engine isn’t running, the radio is silent, and if I’m lucky, the rain is gently falling on the roof.

When I was a kid, I used to love going in our garage when it was raining just to listen to the soft, rhythmic sound of rain hitting the shake shingles. It felt safe, quiet, and I guess meditative, although I had no idea what that was at the time.

Today, I spend my days in an endless gurgle of people wanting, needing, and questioning. My continuous ‘response with a smile’ feels exhausting by 4p.m. and I find myself craving quiet. That is where the car comes in.

I don’t slip out to the garage and leave my family inside the house wondering what’s up with Mom. I don’t drive around the block searching for a place to park. Sometimes I do linger after I’ve arrived home, savoring the last of the NPR story, or taking a few deep breaths to center myself.

My car sitting time is often while I’m waiting for my son or daughter to finish a class, an activity, or some sport that doesn’t require spectating. It’s best when I park in a quiet neighborhood without many pedestrians peering in the windows. I prefer daylight quiet in my car, although I do keep a Halloween style skull lantern in my glove box to shed a little light as needed.

What do I do in the car? I sit. I write. I think. I grade the endless papers that my students provide me every day. I don’t like to talk on the phone, but I do occasionally check my email, play Words with Friends, or send a text or two. I write lots of blog posts, I do lesson plans, and once in awhile I’ll read a book or catch up on the newspaper. I even keep a blanket handy.

Once I did fall asleep – it was dark and after dinner – that felt a bit embarrassing and disorienting. As my teenage daughter would say, it was ‘sup-awk’ to wake up to the chatter of kids leaving their class knowing I had been snoring with the windows open!

Mostly I find that I breathe, sink into the seat, and just slow it down. I let my heartbeat match the rain, and concentrate on me. Most of the time people don’t notice me there, and I like that.

Now that I’m an adult, I don’t get to hear the rain on the roof of our house. The sound of rain hitting skylights just isn’t the same-it’s more of a ping than a satisfying thud. But when I’m alone inside my car I hear it all-rain, wind, birds, dogs, and passers by all create a meditative backdrop to my thoughts.

As a turtle needs to retreat into its shell to protect its soft body, as a chipmunk scurries into its hole, and as a rabbit retreats to its den, I need a place to go and shut out the world. The demands of a job and a family can, just for a moment, stay outside the bubble. Safe, dry, and protected, I can breathe in and out, and find my center again.

Call me weird, but I really like to sit in my car. Alone. Quietly. What about you?

This essay originally appeared on Jennifer Wolfe’s blog, mamawolfe.

Bio: Jennifer Wolfe, a mom and middle school teacher, loves nothing more than watching kids be brave, courageous and navigate the world. Jennifer stories and reflections appear regularly on her blog, mamawolfe, as well as on The Huffington Post, Bonbon Break, Mamapedia, Mamalode, Midlife Boulevard, Blogher, and Project Underblog. Connect with Jennifer on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Goodreads.