Sunday, July 31, 2016

Why Toddlers Shouldn't Be Allowed in Waiting Rooms.

Every waiting room is different and yet exactly the same.

It's not enough that none of them have updated their hold music since the 1980s, but they all hired the exact same decorators and ambiance.
And snifflers.
And coughers.
And that one dude who's super confused by the paperwork (I confess: it's usually me).

I wonder if there's like a design package the doctor chooses or if each office is actually put together individually.

"I want a room where the ill feel hope and encouragement," says the new doc all ready to change the world before he meets his first patient who self-diagnosed on WebMD. 
"Easy. You need eighties florals and burgundy or neutral. Everything neutral. Except the chairs. Those have to be blue or green and pleather so they make fart sounds when patients squirm," replies his designer.
"Really? You sure?"
"Yes.  If you don't want to do landscape or floral paintings, I have several generic abstract artwork that just screams, 'SOMETHING MUST OCCUPY THIS EMPTY WALL SPACE.' You'll love it. Remember: the decor makes you a legitimate physician, not your degree," says the designer who happens to frequents WebMD.  "And, if you have any windows, make sure to have the blinds closed at all times. Sunlight kills hope."

And so every physician's office ever fades into a generic blur of uncomfortable chairs and ridiculous wait times.

 Usually, you can sit in a waiting room bored out of your mind without interacting with anyone.  But, a couple weeks ago, I had to bring the Man Cub to see his pediatrician.
Totally different ball game. They make waiting rooms . . . interesting . . .
  •  They make it hard to get anywhere on time.
    I ran late before having a kid, but I could still make most things on time. After kid? I don't want to talk about it. It's a constant source of stress and mortification.  There is always a missing set of keys, sippy cup, shoe (just one), or a poopy diaper JUST as we absolutely HAVE to walk out the door, and I am just UGH. There's not really an excuse, but it makes me feel better about my state of constant tardiness. The School of Life would totally have suspended me by now.
    As it is, we arrived at our most recent appointment exactly seven minutes late.
    Yes, exactly seven. I keep track because we have a supposed ten minute grace period. I love grace periods. They're like my bread and butter.

  • They may or may not be satisfied with the provided entertainment.
    Toddlers are finnicky about . . . well . . . everything. Sometimes, even their entertainment.
    "The snow glows white on the mountain tonight  . . ."
    Ah, son, look! We will now hear Elsa's impassioned tune of repression and catharsis. We've not heard this a bajillion million times splattered across social media and everywhere else. It just won't die.
    So I pull the little fellow into my lap to see if he is interested in learning about female empowerment from a musical so totally NOT based on Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen (don't get me started).  He's bored before Elsa has shed her restrictive royal gown for a sexy sheathe.
    The females in the room remain transfixed. This, apparently, is their first time experiencing the moody, introverted queen's great release, and their mothers don't yet hate the soundtrack . . . or maybe it's just white noise now . . .
    My kid? He and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi have the same motto: "Run and find out!"
    Sitting still--especially for princess movies--doesn't translate.
. . . That's a version I'd watch over and over again, personally . . .
  • They have no sense of personal space
    You ever notice that toddlers will just like walk up to people and touch them? Talk to them? About everything?
    Ronan has tried to steal discarded playground shoes (the boy has a sense of style, you know . . . . or he may have been trying to return them--he believes feet should always be in shoes) and has reached into purses without hesitation or any remnant of shame.
    He also likes to look--like, just walk right up to people and stare from a safe distance. Unbroken eye contact for an undetermined amount of time. So uncomfortable.
    And this what he does in the pediatrician's office: wandering around just looking at each patient and her parentals, giving them his wide-eyed stare or sheepish smirk. Most times, people smile because they see this:

  • But toddlers' lack of personal space may make them irritating 
    It doesn't take long for him to notice a little girl in a sparkling tutu-style skirt. Frills? Glitter? Minnie Mouse? How utterly mesmerizing. So he gives her this toddler grin and reaches out to touch her hand.
    The boy's smoooooooth, peeps. Real smooth.
    She gives him the side eye and brushes him off.
    "I'm sorry. Ronan come here," I say with a smile and take Man Cub's hand to usher him back to our seats.
    Her mom and sister don't acknowledge us.  I don't know what it is about human nature, but, if we want to be ignored, we don't make eye contact. It's like this "If I can't see them, they can't see me" nonsense.

  • They bring grumps out of hiding
    Again, I redirect Man Cub, but, doggone it, he has his heart set on wooing tutu child. "I am so sorry," I say to her mother, smiling awkwardly as I bring him back to our seat.
    She glances at me, and I suddenly know EXACTLY where her daughter learned the stink eye. "He's not sick, is he?"
    "Oh, no, no, he's just here for his vaccine."
  • Who make you doubt your parenting skills, your child, and pretty much how all of your existence is a failure.
    Okay, maybe it's just me and my all-to-unshakeable self-esteem, but seriously, she might as well have just said, "Get your savage, germ-ridden mini manbest away from my princess, you weakened matriarch!"
    I am suddenly all-too aware that every person in that waiting room refuses to look at us in any way. Not my child as he smiles at them, and not me as I mutter apologies chasing him down.
    Maybe I should control him better.
    Maybe at nineteen months he should be perfectly content siting perfectly still for an hour and a half watching a sparkly movie.  Can they do that under two?
    Maybe I haven't trained him to listen very well, and I'm THAT mom. You know the one: she just keeps calling to her kid to no avail as he runs further and further away, wreaking havoc with every step, as she sits back and calls gently, "Sweetie, please, no thank you."
    Good grief, have I become THAT mother?
    Shiver me timbers.
  • They make time move more slowly.
    We were in the waiting room for nearly an hour and a half total.
    I swear it was more like three days.
  • They make bathroom trips a trek into a bio-hazard zone (you know, more than it already is)
    Of course, by the end of it all, my bladder is screaming, so I am forced to make a decision: take my fearless, investigative child with me to use the toilet OR hold it for approximately forty-five minutes as I drive home.
    Because I'd like to keep that organ from rupturing on the highway, I chose the former.
    They really should make like space shuttle-style chairs for toddlers accompanying their parents into the loo. Strap them in niiiiice and secure.  Otherwise, the kid is all, "WHAT IS THIS MAGICAL PLACE?!?!?! It smells like my diaper pail, and look! Paper! Glorious paper everywhere! And a magical pond that roars when you pull its shiny lever! Oh what delight! What fun!"
    And even non-germophobic parents are having a break down trying not to think of all the YUCK their kids have just rubbed their hands in then licked. Whhhhyyyyyyyyy?!?!
    Little dude was doing surprisingly well listening to me and not touching things.
    And then I went to pull my pants up.
    Sneaky, speedy bugger apparated right behind me and went to PUT HIS HANDS IN THE USED TOILET BOWL.
    Initiate maternal freak out. Heck, initiate any and every freak out.
    Oh, how we washed and washed our hands. So much soap. So much water. So much gross. So much toddler. oh, my gosh, SO MUCH TODDLER.
  • And, by the end of it all, they're so wound up that they refuse to nap. At all. AT. ALL.

That's why they schedule appointments so far apart: it's so you can almost forget how awful waiting with a toddler is.
The face I actually made at the end of that day.
The boob cat hair just makes the pic, right?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

See and Hear

You know, I had a lot of funny posts in the works, but not today.
Not after the madness that was this week.
I just can't.

And I'm not talking about Pokemon GO (totally different post for that later).

No, I'm not at all.

You see, less than a month ago, my hometown experienced its own great tragedy. And, in the days following the largest mass shooting on US soil, I watched my feed light up with fixes: more guns, less guns, more Muslims, less Muslims, all of the fixes. All of the "if we do more of X, then stuff like this won't happen." All of the, "It's THEIR fault--all those crazies who think the opposite than we do. THEY'RE killing our country."
And it made me sick.
Just stop it.
Stop using tragedy for your own bloody soapbox. Lives lost are not bullet points on your debate strategy. Just mourn. We don't want fixes immediately. We want hugs. We want "I'm sorry." We want "How can we help?" We don't want to be a feature in your latest political agenda. Don't take advantage of the hurting like that. It's insensitive and cruel.

Then, this week, five Dallas police officers lost their lives protecting protesters.
Shot down in cold blood like they were less than human.
These were heroes lost. And, yes, I do believe cops are heroes. That they are brave to choose a career of long hours, of blood and sweat, of too much paperwork and too little time, of tears and outrage and fear. Yes, they are human--humans make mistakes and some humans are less than kind. But, on the whole, it is not a career for the weak of heart or spirit. I have profound respect for any human being who chooses a career of serving and protecting complete strangers, sometimes at the cost of his own health, safety, and even life.  That is incredible.
Please remember that I said these things. That I love and respect cops.  That I am the farthest thing from a cop hater.

Source: KVEW-TV

Prior to the death of these officers, two African American men--Alton Sterling and Philando Castile--were shot by police officers despite being unarmed.

Source: The Observer

A couple of my FB friends began posting the video of Castile's murder and commenting that it was just too much.  Otherwise, not a peep.

The next day, my feed EXPLODED with mourning for the Dallas police (as it should), but, still so few of my white friends said anything about Sterling and Castile. My stomach churned. 
I had two African American friends still talking about it--one posting information on other shootings of unarmed African Americans and another a video of a man remarking on how his white friends would rage on gun control or terrorist strikes but they grew remarkably quiet on race issues--not a peep.

And, again, the pit in my stomach.

You see, the cogs in my brain started turning.
  • IF race relations with the police were not a real issues, why was it still a hot topic? Why were so many African Americans still upset? Was it all because of the media? Does the media really control us to that degree?
  • IF this was only a topic in the "ghetto," why was I seeing this topic posted all over the economic board? 
Why wasn't it going away?

And I wondered if, maybe, this wasn't just about sensationalism and the vampire media? If this wasn't just jaded people looking for someone to blame? If this wasn't just the workings of people looking to make money off of pain? What if maybe, just maybe, it wasn't just about these specific killings? What if all of this was about past experiences--past wrongs--and these tragedies (all life lost is a tragedy--deserved or not) were just triggers? What if this was about a great many people collectively shouting, "Me too! It's me, too! Please see me! Please see and know! I'm here, and this is me, too!"

What if they kept screaming because we weren't listening?
Because we were so busy throwing out numbers and statistics and facts and glued to the specific case and not looking at the whole.
I'm not saying facts are bad or they don't have their place. But sometimes that place isn't in the midst of tears.

I know that when I am in the utmost monthly peak of my womanhood (UTERUUUUUUS!!!!), the most random things trigger me, and I may find myself in the midst of an overwhelming, uncontrollable emotional-vomit fit (note: the vomit is purely figurative . . . if I ever gag due to all the feels, I need a serious doctor). When said emotional-vomit-fit has me in its uber-feely, angry, sobbing clutches, my husband sure as CRAP better not hit me with facts (the poor man). I need him to listen and hold me and tell me he's sorry. Then we can dialogue about the facts--facts I may have known the whole time, but I was feeling wounded and I needed that wound to be HEARD.
 It's a lousy, miniscule example, but the reality remains: sometimes the fact to healing is simply listening.

When 50 people lost their lives in a nightclub, Orlando begged people to stop and hear us.
One city in pain from one incident.  And people listened.

We have people in every city around our country wounded from not one but SEVERAL incidents, so many unnoticed, invalidated.  They are hurting.
And we don't want to listen.

It smacked me right in the face and didn't let me go.
Oh, my heart broke.
Somebody, somebody listen.
Somebody feel something.
Somebody stop justifying with cold statistics and assumptions.
Just listen.
Just say, "I'm sorry" and mean it.
Understand that, maybe, as a white person, you may have a difference experience than your African American neighbor. That, yes, all lives matter and we are all human, but the way people perceive you is not the same.

So I posted this, and the debates went flying.

I wasn't trying to make a political statement.
I wasn't trying to ignore the incredible tragedy of the murder of brave, sacrificial public servants--men who put the lives of strangers above their own EVER DAY. It is heart-breaking.
I just . . . I was just tired of keeping quiet. I was tired of ignoring pain. I just wanted to say, "I see you. I am so sorry that you feel unseen."
People I love and respect posted numbers. One in particular lectured and corrected me over and over again, posting details on the case against Castile. She couldn't seem to understand that I was not talking just about the cases in the media--I was not saying that those cases were or were not justified. I was talking about just life.
I wasn't sure how to explain that I was just trying to say "I am sad with you." I know the numbers. I've read them over and over and over again. I know them. We can know them and still feel sorry.

Our country is in so much pain right now.

African Americans don't feel safe. They feel misunderstood, unseen, and unheard. They are wounded and angry at the injustice.
Cops don't feel safe--they people they swore to protect are shooting at them simply because they wear a uniform. They feel misunderstood, unseen, and unheard.  Why even put on the uniform if the media and, it seems, the world hates you just because you wear a badge.

There are good cops and bad cops. There are good and bad people of every race. That's a given.

People are in pain.
Do you know what helps pain? Maybe it doesn't make it go away--not at once--but it begins the healing process.

Hearing someone even if the feelings and memories they reveal bruise our egos, tarnish our view of reality. Even if we don't agree with those feelings.
Feeling something isn't bad--it's not wrong to feel even anger. Did you know that anger is basically an "emotional immune response" to your rights or person being violated? It's a GOOD thing. It's your actions in anger that are right or wrong.
Wounding someone in your anger only throws fuel on the flames, makes the cuts deeper.
Repressed, unfaced anger festers until it's poisoning you and everyone around you.

But listening to someone's pain and anger?
That can be a step in healing for everyone.

Listen to your neighbors, you friends, your relatives--regardless of occupation or race.
Just listen.
Remove your own justifications for a moment and hear their stories. There may be an entire world out there you had no idea existed.

And then mourn with them. Be upset at the injustices, at the name-calling, at the bullying.
Anyone of any age, economic bracket, sexual orientation, race, occupation, sex, anything has been wounded by those around them. Sometimes systemically by society.
Over and over and over again.

We are hurting. Listen to our tears. Listen to their tears. My gosh, listen to the tears of people you don't think should be crying. Yes, yes, they absolutely should.

Listening doesn't mean you give up your values. It doesn't mean you throw away your world view or belief system.
You know what you lose? Ignorance.
You know what you gain? Perspective. Mercy. Maybe even a friend or two. Your opinion on the matter might not change, but maybe, just maybe, the two of you have gained a little understanding.

You've been seen.
You've been heard.

Isn't that what we've all been crying for since the day we woke in this world?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

What's in a Name?

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables 

You know one of the hardest part of creating a blog?
It's not the updates or the creativity (though those certainly aren't a piece of cake).
It's not the photography (how many professional-grade selfies do I have to take again??? for reals?)
It's not even the html coding or design (I'm not even good at that and I STILL have Photoshop Elements stamped on the inside of my eyelids).

It's coming up with a name.
A flippin' name.

You know how Stephen King talks about how the most important part of a novel is the beginning? How the opening lines can make or break a story? 
No pressure or anything, aspiring novelists. Geez. That's totally NOT the reason I've been rewriting my own book for THIRTEEN FLIPPIN YEARS. Beginnings, man.
  • "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."
  • "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."
  • "Call me Ishmael."
  • “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
  • "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
  • "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." 
  • "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
See? No pressure.  
But people don't always read your first blog entry. Do you know what they DO read?
The  title and the "About Me" section (don't get me started on "About Me" sections . . . gaaah)

So why The Fugitive Pen

Honestly? The hubs thought it was cool. And it's sentimental, which is always a plus.
Not that I've ever been a fugitive. Or really ever even gotten a speeding ticket. I have, however, seen the movie with Harrison Ford. Highly recommend it, folks. You can't go wrong with Harrison . . . except for that last Indiana Jones flick, but that totally wasn't his fault. (LUUUUCCCAAAAASSSSSSS)

Sorry, rambling. 

ANYWAYS . . . . 

 Once upon a time, when phones were still flipping and just learning to wifi, I had AIM. Anyone remember that? The man who would become "the hubs" (the myth, the legend) and I would message back and forth for HOURS over AIM, the savior of our long-distance relationship (along with free after-hour cell minutes--good Lord, I have totally dated myself). The username we stared at for three years until I actually had my degree and unlimited text messages? FUGITIVEPEN.

And BEHOLD! A blog title was born!

You want to know what this place was ALMOST named?
  • Flibbertigibbet, Inc. 
  • The Claptrap Collective
  • Untidied
  • The Laughing Squid
  • The Laughing Owl
  • I May Be A Platypus and Other True Confessions
Not gonna lie--that last one was SO CLOSE to winning. I still kind of love it. Seriously, I sit here looking at it and wonder, "Oh, man, did I really make the right choice? That's so fun. And random. And . . . well, crap, the URL may even still be available . . . . "

But I've already spent way too much time creating a header and fumbling through design, so I think this is it. The final choice. The grand finale.

Welcome to ......  

-that's totally the Jurassic Park Theme FYI-

(Not that my blog will be ANYWHERE as amazingly and awe-inspiringly EPIC as Jurassic Park, but, you know, it's fun.)

Enjoy your stay!
I'm glad you're here :)