Thursday, January 29, 2009

For those who are left to dance...

I've stared at the cursor for the last 20 minutes. It's blinking at me, taunting me, daring me to start the once-upon-a-time memorial to a man whose absence in this world makes it just a bit more gray. But I'm at a loss. There are funny stories, sad stories, a couple of really scary stories and lots of songs from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But nothing says it all. There aren't any words.
And yet words are all we have. We are blessed and cursed with words, planning what to say as you walk up the sidewalk to knock on the door, wondering if you will ever be able to express the joy he brought into your life and in the same breath express your horrible shock at their loss. Words are so useless and so trite, literally worth nothing and so utterly priceless in that they are all we have to offer.
That's the truth of the incredible deficit left by Jason Dugger. The triteness of the saying that life is like a song is in actuality proven by Jason's passing. We had the words; Jason had the music. Voila! One of my fondest memories of Jason is him in that leather bomber jacket, plinking out a melody on the piano and looking over at me with those mischievous eyes telling me to write him a song. And slowly but surely we would write a song, not necessarily a good one, in fact hardly ever a good one, but good enough for us. Music by Jason, words by me.
No more. Just words. So here they are:

For Jason
All you lived was music
A deep swelling inside the soul
That became the symphony of all that you touched
You wrote us into the lines
Perfectly rising, inevitably falling
And we became the crescendo of all that you created
Our lives, your music
Echoing always in your laughter
Echoing forever in our tears
Reminding us that we now have the choice
To dance to what you left behind.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What My Dog Knows Might Kill Me...

When you are a single person, living on your own, there is a special kind of freedom that you don't even realize you have until you don't have it anymore. And that is the freedom to be yourself, no matter how stupid, dorky or mental you may be underneath the cool, smooth, composed facade you present to the world on a daily basis.
Example: I have this thing about my pores. I am fascinated by the fact that they are so incredibly huge you could hide a small boatload of Cubans in there. When I was single, I would take the shade off of my bedside lamp and examine them with my compact mirror...then I would experiment on them. I would rub lemon juice on them, I would rub ice cubes on them, one time, before my first date with the man who is now my husband, I got really desperate, certain that if he got a good look at my pores he would leave me for a much more facially firmer woman, and I rubbed my face down with Preparation H - I had to eat through a straw for a week.
Since I now live in the smallest freaking house in the free world with a boy and a man who acts like a boy, there is nowhere for me to experiment on my pores. There have been times when I have been so desperate to get a look at them that I have lied about going to the grocery store, driven to the park and sat in my car examining my pores, plucking my eyebrows and picking out those black chin hairs which has proven to me once and for all that it's much better to be judged insane by strangers driving or walking by than by people who gather with your family on a regular basis.
Over the last few months, however, things have changed. With a job that allows me to work at home sometimes, a couple of shift changes for my husband and a kiddo who is now in school, I have slowly come to realize that I have time...yes, myself.
Granted working from home is harder for me than working in an office setting where there is structure, but there's something nice about being able to practice talking like Carmella Soprano when I call customer service numbers. I'm also enjoying a very liberal primping policy which allows me to try on several different outfits while watching television that ISN'T cartoonage or NASCAR. Sometimes I get wild and crazy and eat a pop tart in the living without a plate...yeah, I said it...NO PLATE.
However it occured to me today, as I was standing outside with the new puppy, Biskit, that all the while these things are going on, I am not really alone, for there in the shadows, chewing on my favorite purse, making Biskit bubbles on my report that's due the next day, is the dog.
Biskit is new to our of those "designer dogs" called a Shnoodle-a cross between a Schnauzer and a Poodle, which if you ask me is kind of like letting Paris Hilton and CarrotTop breed - just asking for trouble.
I don't know if I can trust him yet.
Zeus, our dog for 12 years before he had to be put down last month, kept my secrets. Zeus never told anybody about ABBA karaoke day. He never said a word about my obsession with learning all the moves to Michael Jackson's Thriller video after seeing that Jennifer Garner movie 13 Going on 30. He went to the grave never spilling the beans about the unfortunate self-tanner incident of 2005; ditto for the repeat trial of 2006.
Biskit has witnessed a few things that make me nervous; nothing significant or that could get me kicked out of the PTO...just a couple of Oscar speeches, just in case and a really experimental eyeliner technique that left me looking like Alice Cooper on anti-depressants. He hasn't said a peep about either, but I think that's because I've seen him...well, proposing romance to a couple of the stuffed animals in Kyser's room and let's face it, if you were the new dog in the pack would you want your new friends knowing you were mackin' on Tow-Mater?
Will we reach an impasse, this newest addition and I? Will he begin to tell my secrets, tarnishing my questionable good name? Or will he use the information against me, running off with my favorite sparkly shoes and hiding them in his little hidey hole that I can't seem to find, leaving little ransom notes extorting Beggin' Strips from me in return for not yapping? Signing it with his cute little puppy paw print?
Only time will tell. Truth be told, it's all about the relationship, I suppose. I trust Biskit, mainly because he can't talk, the whole opposable thumbs issue and what I know about him and Mater, let's just say he's gettin' it done... Yet that uninhibited and yes, sometimes psychotic and questionable behavior is something I would never show to my husband or my son, although I'm sure they suspect it. Why don't we want people to know what we are really like? Is my pore obsession really that bad? I'm sure there are others who would enjoy ABBA karaoke day...
And yet those things are only mine and I think that is because despite all of our desire to attach ourselves to another person, to be loved and to love, to entwine our lives and our hearts there must remain that weirdo individualism that made you what the other person fell in love with in the first place.
So I will enjoy my days here and there - I'm desperately trying to learn all the moves from that Finger 11 Paralyzer video and I'd like to try some worchestershire sauce on my face. And Biskit will be right along beside, observing and keeping his mouth shut...that is if he knows what's good for him.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Son, the Soprano

I remember being pregnant with my son. I never felt more beautiful: my skin glowed, my hair flowed, I moved slower and with determination much like the crescendo of a great piece of music. Okay, so maybe I'm romanticizing...truth be told my skin was so greasy you could have rubbed my head on a bicycle chain and competed in the Tour De France; the flowing hair was actually like having a headful of sea anemones and the reason I moved slower was not due to grace or a great desire to savor life, it was the 60 pounds of water weight that I was dragging around by week 24.

But even though my pregnancy was less than ideal, there were though magical moments. The first time you go to Wal-Mart and confidently, if not arrogantly, cruise past the feminine product aisle. The decadent sleepiness and peaceful rest that came with not having to make an excuse for taking a nap in the middle of the morning. Being able to lay around like third base and not feeling guilty about it. Those fuzzy, glazed over moments when you are half asleep and you feel that butterfly flit across your tummy for the first time and in that moment you grasp, for just one fraction of a second, the infinite importance of life and its always impending fragility. The dreams you have for that life inside of your body, the hope for a good life, the fear that you will not be able to provide it. A beautiful menagerie, a collage of all of the most beautiful and serene and mystical molecules in the universe - that is your world when you are about to be a mother.

Then they come out, start talking and stop being so mystical and some of the magic of being a mother is replaced by some of the reality. Those daydreams of your little punim holding the knowledge that may one day produce the technology to cure cancer tend to fade when you look in the rearview mirror just in time to see him eating his own boogers. The hopes of artistic genius are pushed to the bottom of the list and replaced the reality that your child is examining the contents of the puppy's vomit in an attempt to recover a missing Lego. Those dreams of distinguished receptions and White House dinners are quickly swept away by the superhero cape made out of an old curtain, a pair of knock-off Christian Dior sunglasses as goggles and a slightly chubby six year old running around in his little Superman boxer briefs jumping off stuff to make sure he hasn't been granted the ability to fly but just doesn't know about it yet.

This was blaringly demonstrated to me last week by the actions of my little man. He lost a tooth and as was tradition we took a picture, put the tooth in the special pouch and put it under Kyser's pillow. As I turned his bed down he disappeared for a moment and came slinking back into his bedroom careful not to reveal the tools he carried.

"Kyser, what do you have?"

He glanced to the right, a telltale sign that he was developing a story. "Well, uh. Hmmmmmm" He paused and shifted from one foot to the next. "Well, I just thought. Well, see..."

I ducked and shifted to the left, he went right and we met at the foot of the bed where I discovered my little darling was holding a rubber mallet hammer I had been using to take apart the Christmas tree and a Wal-Mart bag. "I wasn't going to hurt her..." Was how my little sweetie began to explain his heinous and diabolic, if not mafia-esque plan to slowly drain the funds of the Tooth Fairy. "I was just gonna wait until she showed up tonight for my tooth then I was gonna whack her on the head and put this bag over her head until you wake up tomorrow and we could get me a jar and poke the holes in the lid. I won't keep her forever, just for awhile."

My son, my sweet little red head cherub. My Opie-Taylor doppleganger, cute little lisp, smattering of freckles across his nose walking talking miracle had hatched a plot to put the screws to the Tooth Fairy. I saw this as a three-pronged pitchfork of dispair: on one hand, I was worried because he had used the word "whack" in one of the many correct contexts and he was only six; on the other hand, I thought perhaps it might behoove me to be a bit more worried about the fact that he had formulated an actual plan of action; and if I could borrow your third hand, I would have to say that my other concern was the fact that my little seraphim had actually coordinated a mob hit involving extortion. To even begin to tell him how this was wrong was almost as complex as addressing the many evils he was layering like a sinister submarine sandwich. So I said that was not the best idea and that if he wanted to have a chance with the Tooth Fairy he better had over the tools of doom and scoot to bed and he did and was out like a little light.

That night, the Tooth Fairy left a note neatly tucked in Kyser's shoe in the living room, explaining that she had heard of the twisted plot and was afraid to go to Kyser's room. She would return to leave his reward in a couple of nights, when she was sure it was safe.

And in all honesty, the "Tooth Fairy" had taken inventory and couldn't account for several blunt objects in the household that could be used as weapons.

The next morning, Kyser was disappointed, and we tried to explain that she was afraid for herself due to his violoent plot but Kyser just shook it off. "She ain't scared, Mom. She goes into people's houses all the time and takes their teeth and you think she ought to be scared of me? I'm a kid with a rubber hammer. What do want?"