Clever headline here

I am up late having a rather obnoxious battle with insomnia. This literally never happens to me. I always sleep. I have a regular appointment to keep with my dreams. But tonight I’m being eaten alive and my eyes won’t even shut.

You ever think much about humiliation? About that red hot flush you feel at first when it dawns on you that you’re at the short end of a stick of some kind, and how your heart pounds for hours and hours as you go over every detail of the stupid things you did? You relive them again and again in silent horror, turning each one over and over in your head like a stone smoothed by current. You ever think much about how fucked up it is to have this cryptographer-type organ knocking around in your skull, meting out all this information to you as it untangles it? But how sometimes really awful stuff slips right past and goes undeciphered, but once your cryptographer organ friend gets all that info cobbled together and notices a Really Unfortunate Pattern, it dumps this flood of adrenaline into your veins and peaces out (sayonara, reason!) and you have to sit there feeling like a lion is pacing around you even though the only thing that has changed is your understanding of the context in which you were previously living?

Humiliation is a toxin and you have to sweat it out. Except the sweat is existential and it physically hurts as it exits your body. You can feel it in your chest, in your bones, down low in your gut, where it throbs a bit. You can also feel it in your brain — the pesky little guy who allowed it to set in to begin with.

Spend long enough sweating it and that humiliation might calcify parts of you.

If you are like me, you might welcome that. So that maybe next time you won’t feel it as much.

File under ‘Things it took me 32 years to learn’

People who call you out for having low self-confidence/esteem are often the same people who will behave in ways toward you that make you question your self-worth.

I love you, Slate, but sometimes you publish some dumb ish

Like this screed about the “fringe” element of our society known as intactivists and how they have taken over the internet to the degree that you can’t find good pro-circ science online anymore without doing some digging.

Are you kidding me?

Lumping people who don’t see a need for compulsory infant circumcision in with people who are anti-vax? Dude. Just … no.

And this:

To intactivists, mutilation is mutilation; what does it matter if it’s for the greater good?

Sorry, is that supposed to read like parody? I can’t even tell anymore.

So here’s a thought: If circumcision is so good for men, then let men decide for themselves when to get it done. No need to decide for your brand new baby boy that he needs to get that chop made well before the time when that chop would help him avoid getting STDs, right? Let that boy grow up and then decide when it’s a good time to get the knife near his wang.

Someone murdered the neighborhood groundhog

Remember this guy?

I will tell you a story and it will make you sad.

Ray called me at work Wednesday afternoon and was out of breath. We played phone tag for a few minutes since my new desk (we moved workstations this week) is in a black hole and drops calls. When I finally got him on my work phone, here is the story that unfolded:

He and Holden were heading out, when Ray saw something under his car. What he saw was the little groundhog that lives in our ‘hood dying, a big metal trap crushing his head and neck. Ray begged me to call animal control to come out while he tried to pry the trap off the little guy’s head. He said his tongue was smashed out the side of his mouth and that he was scared. I implored him, please don’t get bitten and please don’t get your arm in that trap. Our baby is there with you. Don’t get rabies. Etc.

I called animal control. It rang for a long time before anyone picked up. They told me they’d try to make it out.

I got back in touch with Ray, who said he’d been able to pry the trap off the groundhog’s head, and that he’d scampered away. But that he was really hurt.

Animal control did come out later, but the groundhog was nowhere to be found.

I wanted to take a picture of the trap but Ray had already thrown it in the trash and it was under a bunch of smelly bags by the time I got home.

Ray’s theory is that the neighbor to our east — the one with tomato and cucumber plants in the yard — set a trap when he got tired of having a groundhog eat his garden’s spoils. I don’t know if that’s true or not but it seems plausible, given that the poor groundhog ended up fighting for his life in our driveway, which is mere feet from where the garden plots are.

I’m sure the little guy went off to die somewhere.

Ray told me he tried to hold him once he was free to put antibiotic ointment on his injuries, which is so sweet it breaks my heart.

I want to know who puts a large, bone-snapping metal trap out in the yard in a neighborhood that doesn’t have fences. My cat could have wandered over there. My dog. MY KID. I don’t know; it seems a shade psycho to me.

And cruel. Just really cruel.

Twenty empty bedrooms

I’m thinking about those twenty empty bedrooms and I can’t stop crying.

•••

My house is empty. Just me and the cats. Everyone told me to come home and hug the boy tighter than ever, and I would have, but he’s a couple of hours east of here with his daddy visiting his grandma. I’ll see him tomorrow and I’ll scoop him up and he’ll squeal and wiggle because he loves his mama and I will bury my face in the crook of his neck and I will make a silent plea with my maker to keep him safe. I don’t usually ask for favors but this one’s not for me.

•••

I want answers. I find myself wrecked, again and again, and I want some fucking answers.

I watched the news this afternoon, sobbing in bed with no pants on like a depressed lunatic. I cleaned up and got to work and sat down amid the silence and set about my day. But I don’t work at a place where I can go to just ignore the awfulness of the day. I work in a place where the day’s awfulness is amplified fivefold. Figure out how these five papers are going to play this horrific story. Coordinate. Encourage them to put that irrelevant local story downpage or kick it inside; they are going to look silly tomorrow morning otherwise. Pick colors to highlight the entry points to entice people to read this horrific fucking story. Make it look nice, even if it’s about something that makes you want to vomit over and over and over.

I got caught sobbing at my desk a couple of times. I opened up my 1A and cycled through the photos that had been included with the main story and just fucking lost it. That one of the kids being led across the parking lot, single file. That one of the tiny little girl, face contorted in pain and confusion and fear as a man held her close.

I want answers.

Who was this kid, the shooter? Twenty years old and up for matricide and mowing down a classroom of 5-year-olds within just a couple of hours. He reportedly had some mental or personality issues. Reportedly. What was he on for that? What cocktail of antidepressants or antianxiety pills did he take every day? Or not take?

Did he play video games? Did he hang out in subreddits that would make you want to claw your own eyes out? Where’s the dad? Where did the fucking guns come from? Why the FUCK is this monstrous thing legal to own?

I want some fucking answers and I don’t care if I get on your nerves asking them.

“Now’s not a good time. It’s disrespectful to the victims.”

When is a good time? I’ll put an alert on my phone if you’ll give me a day and time. Or will you text me to let me know when it’s a good time? I kind of feel like we should do it soon; we’ve had two of these things this week and six this year and dozens since Columbine and I don’t feel like this crazy train is slowing down. I’d like to pencil in a serious chat before the next one if we could; I’m betting the victims and their families and friends would prefer that option too, if we could do that. If that’s not too much of an imposition, America.

•••

I think about my boy and I am terrified. The terror is splintered in many directions. I’ve been chewing on it all day.

Writer Elizabeth Stone has this great quote that I love that I saw tonight while looking at the Jackson Clarion-Ledger’s 1A: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” It’s really on point, that quote. Being a mother has certainly upped my empathy quotient, not to mention made it nearly impossible for me to hear stories about cruelty to children. I can’t handle it. It rips me up inside. It’s a cliché, but one of those true ones.

I imagine my tiny child — my sweet, silly, shy little boy — in an array life situations and my heart just breaks again and again, even when what I imagine isn’t particularly sad. Because I remember being there. I remember the dull sting of youth’s constant awkwardness, punctuated by humiliation and triumph. How basic rites of passage could be so labored. I think about Holden walking into a kindergarten classroom for the first time and it plucks at something deep and reptilian in me and I just want to surround him with my mother-wing and protect him, usher him back toward the nest, and keep him away from the world so it doesn’t hurt him. So it doesn’t even get the chance.

And today I could not stop thinking about my boy in that kindergarten classroom, hearing the screams of bullets and classmates, not understanding what was happening, wanting his mommy and daddy, not knowing who would protect him, not knowing anything about pain or mortality, but feeling that surge of fear and adrenaline that his brain would supply. I cannot handle the thought. I think about the monster who would put a child in that situation and I want to fucking rip him apart. For all those parents who aren’t living hypotheticals but who are living an actual nightmare, I want to burn the whole evil world down. I am sorry for them. I am so fucking sorry that the world broke in this way and I am terrified.

Here is an awful, awful confession: I am terrified that we are going to do something wrong and create a monster. This kid, this Adam kid, murdered his mother and moved on to murder children. I don’t know what broke in him but I am terrified that my boy will break in some way too. I want to believe that every horrible thing that happens is done by someone who was obviously mistreated and is acting out but I don’t think reality bears that out. Some people who do fucked-up things have relatively normal families, inasmuch as any family can be normal. Is it a lack of love? Is it just brain chemistry that’s off? Did they see it coming? Can anyone ever really see it coming?

I want my love to be enough. A mother’s love is never enough to overcome all the ways a person can become broken. And that scares me, down in my soul.

•••

Are you ready to talk about it yet? Is it time to talk about the gun thing yet? Can we at least agree that, culturally, we have a big problem? It doesn’t matter if the guns were bought legally. How do these lunatics keep getting guns legally? Oh, they were his mother’s guns? Jesus. How can we keep responsible gun owners’ weapons away from their deranged relatives? And are you ready to talk about why this should be legal to purchase yet? I feel like we’ve waited long enough to talk about it. I don’t want to speak for them but I suspect the parents turning off the lights in those twenty empty bedrooms tonight might think it’s time to talk about it too.

In which Granny remembers what Halloween was like in the good ol’ days

I hate to break down and have a “back in my day” rant over something so trivial, but I am pissed.

Adults are ruining Halloween. Don’t even get me started on the idiotic “sexy X” costumes that have pretty much taken over the pre-fab options for women. Of course, I’m annoyed that every costume is pre-fab anyway. What ever happened to making your own damn costume? Or doing something you can’t just buy in a bag? Grumble.

No, I will not get started on that.

What I WILL get started on is this apparently new idea (it happened last year at my house too) that you can be a grown-ass person and just traipse around a neighborhood in your regular clothes and shove a Walgreens sack in people’s doorways and they will give you candy. Old-ass adults do it. Closer-to-20-than-13 teenagers do it. Some adults at least have the decency to drag their kids around and the kids ask for candy first and THEN the adults hold their bags out. Shit, I had a group of teenage girls just open their purses at me and chant, “See ya next year!” as they sauntered away. They didn’t even bother with the plastic bag. And one group of teen boys came up and before I could give them anything, shoved their giant boy hands into the bowl and started shoving fistful after fistful of candy into their plastic bags. I had to actually tell them to slow down and take it easy, that they were wiping me out. I closed the door and heard someone raising hell and moaning that he didn’t get anything. This kid had to be 15 or 16. He was mad. I opened the door back up and gave him some Smarties (not the Kit Kats) and he didn’t say thanks or fuck you or anything.

It sucks. You want some candy? Fucking go to Kroger and buy your own bag, just like I did. The people who come to my door to take candy from me are not dirt poor folks, hoping for a sugar fix just to survive. Many of them had children wearing sneakers worth more than my own shitty slip-ons. I kind of hesitate to even write about this because I know I am going to sound like an entitled prick for even bringing it up, but it bugs me. Like Ray told me, he grew up dirt poor but his mom knew that on Halloween, if you couldn’t afford anything else, you at least threw a ratty sheet over your head and called yourself a ghost. The point is the silly make-believe, not the fucking candy. I had wondered last year why hardly anyone else on my street turned on their porch lights on Halloween, and why I was the only one with a jack-o-lantern on the stoop. Now I know it’s because the hassle of dealing with grown-ass jerks far outweighs the half dozen or so actual costumed kids who are having fun being silly and going around the neighborhood in costume.

The neighbor’s dogs are ruining our lives

QUICK VENT!

This is what they do at 6:30 or 7 a.m. every morning … for hours and hours:

neighbor dogs who won’t let us sleep from Lindsey Turner on Vimeo.

And then again a few hours later. Or whenever they’re bored. Which is a lot since they are just hanging out in the courtyard, which is mere feet from our bedroom window, all day and night, seemingly every day and night for the past week or so.

The other night they were at it at midnight and then again at 2:30 or 3 in the morning. Then again at 7. I marched my sleepy-eyed preggo self over there and rang the doorbell twice, then walked around to the back to see if the neighbor’s car was there. It wasn’t. I haven’t seen it there for days. Is she out of town? Did she leave her dogs out in the yard while she’s out of town? Is something wrong? Lesley suggested she might be dead in there, which honestly never crossed my mind (and usually I love to imagine the gruesomest scenario) but could be true. We haven’t called the cops yet because I’m trying to be diplomatic and talk to her about this before trying to get others to intervene, but I can never catch her home. So what’s my recourse? A note on the door? Don’t worry, it won’t be anonymous. I just found her phone number online. Am I going to have to call her? God, I need a shot of whiskey first.

I work nights so 7 a.m. is like my 3 a.m. It’s an unreasonable time to fuck with me. But, you know, it would be an unreasonable time to fuck with someone with a day job too.

It’s already tough to sleep through the night but around 7 a.m. is when I am actually getting a couple or three hours of consecutive, pee-free sleep. Having bored dogs howling at rustling leaves and passing joggers jolts me out of the one REM cycle I get every night and makes it incredibly difficult to function for the rest of the day. I can deal with it occasionally — dogs are dogs and they bark, I get it — but it has been every day, all day, for many days and I am feeling myself start to crack from the exhaustion.

Okay, yes. I am going to have to call her. And I will make sure to scream at the top of my lungs outside her windows when I am giving birth.