easter beast

I have a particular problem with easter. Oh, long time readers will know I have problems with several holiday. One might take this all to mean I’m just a sort of joyless, curmudgeonly bastard. And I guess that’s a little right. But generally my objections have more to do with the general pointlessness of american […]

I have a particular problem with easter.

Oh, long time readers will know I have problems with several holiday. One might take this all to mean I’m just a sort of joyless, curmudgeonly bastard.

And I guess that’s a little right.

But generally my objections have more to do with the general pointlessness of american holidays than they do with the idea of holidays in general.

BUt my problem with easter is a bit different than my issue with, say, st patrick’s day (a day for those who aren’t irish to celebrate irishness), or valentines day (a day where love is celebrated by those who have no idea what love is about).

My feelins about easter have less to do with meaning than with lack therof.

MY family were, like me, staunch atheists. We profoundly and strongly believed in a purely physical universe, one without gods or demons. For us, holidays were meaningful only in that they were cultural events, and celebrations were enjoyable for the simple pleasure of ritual.

When I was a child, waking on easter morning to find a carefully composed basket filled with chocolate eggs and minor toys was more about the break from routine than in was about deeper meaning. Once I was old enough to have figured out there was no mystical egg-laying bunny, the pleasures had more to do with my parent’s inventiveness in basket composition than it had to do magical wonder or reverence. I had absolutely no idea, when I was a child, that easter had anything to do with jesus; at that age, I don’t think I even had a clear idea of who jesus was, other than that it had something to do with god.

Unfortunately, once the basket-bringer stopped being mysterious, the holiday degenerated into a simple opportunity for aquisition. It was about getting something. Which is when my p[arents stopped it.

It wasn’t a big deal; the sort of gifts we got were on the order of mouse-sized plus animals, inexpensive chinese teacups, pocket-knives, or small plastic animals. So when we started to ask for things, presenting easter wish lists, my parents rightly decided we’d outgrown the whole thing.

Once I was beyond childhood – and i mean childhood in the sense of, too young to really grasp things in the universe, not in the modern sense of ‘under 18 – I was too old for easter baskets and bunnies.

My the time my age was in double digits, easter was a day when everything seemed to be closed, and when my brother and father crammed themselves with sees buttercream eggs until they were nautious.

The day was meaningless.

Later, when I had the puzzling realization that people, commonly, actually believed in god, jesus and various things saintly, it occurred to me that easter could possibly have some meaning beyond eggs and rabbits and baskets full of minor toys.

IT’s been odd, however, watching as my kids grow up, and my frineds

worst october since last october

So here’s how it’s been the last month or so.

First, about a month ago, Barb had to go in for abdominal surgery – a long story, which maybe I’ll tell much later. The short version is that the surgery was more complicated than planned, lasted twice as long as planned, and had a much longer recovery than planned.

The week before surgery, one of my kids brought home some ailment, the primary symptoms of which were dizziness and fatigue. Barb came down with it the evening she came out of surgery. Which means that in addition to pain and wooziness and nausea from surgery, she had spectacularly bad bed spins for the better part of a week.

At this same time (the actual day oo surgery), my eleven year old daughter Ruby sprained her ankle so badly we all thought it was broken (clearly she inherited my feline grace; she did it by trying to walk while her foot was asleep). She wound up on crutches, barely able to move; her whole foot wine purple and her ankle swollen up like a grapefruit.

Also around this time, we took one of Olivia’s favorite pet rats (Eddie, which is short for Edgar Allen Poe) in to the vet to have a cyst on his foot looked at. The conclusion was that it wouldn’t heal, and the choices were looking like euthanasia, or amputation. Now, normally I’m opposed to major intervention of any kind with pets that don’t live more than a couple of years; but I think we all transferred a bit of worry about the rest of the members of the family onto this big gray lump of a rat; we made a choice that’s opposed to my rules, and had him de-legged.

Since that time, Barb has caught every ailment that goes around. She’s had two or three different cold-like viruses (one of which might have been swine flu, her doctor says, though he can’t tell for sure). The last round developed into – in order – a sinus infection, then bronchitis, and then into full-blown pneumonia, with a lovely case of pleurisy (just take a look at the famous cases for a fabulous list of people who died of pleurisy.). She was very close to needing to go back into the hospital. She’s been fighting that – with an array of meds that makes me very, very glad I have good health coverage) – for well over ten days, and is still unable to do much of anything.

So it’s been a bit of a rough patch.

Last week, Eddie (legless ed, eddie the tripod, eddie three legs) took a turn for the worse. He’d been healing well; he was moving around like a tiny fuzzy elephant seal, eating like a champ, and seemed happy to get picked up twice a day for his medications. We figured he was out of the woods. And then infection set it.

I again had to make that hard choice; follow my rules and euthanize, or spend more damned money. I broke my own rules again. The vet had to remove a hunk of infected muscle the size of a sugar cube, and then stapled him closed again and sent us home with a double dose of antibiotics.

We though we were losing him; he pulled out his staples and left behind something like you’d see on a battlefield. And then, suddenly, the wound started to fill over with granulation tissue, stopped weeping, and Eddie started to come out of his little house to greet us when we come to get him out. He’s back to moving loping like an elephant seal, pathetically clumsy and yet fully able to get around his cage. He’s not, as they say, out of the woods yet. But we’re starting to hope.

Eddie and Barb and Ruby all seem to be on the same schedule; Ruby just got put of her cast, Barb’s ailment is slowly receding, and Eddie the Gimp is looking better. So (I almost want to knock wood here) maybe we’re past the end of one of the worst octobers in memory (at least the worst since last October, but more on that later.

Amazingly, Olivia and I have gotten through all this without ever getting sick, despite stress and severe lack of sleep. I’ve missed way too much work due to my nurse-and-single-parent role this last month, and I’ve been at no better than half capacity when I’m there; but I haven’t picked up a case of the flu, haven’t come down with a sinus infection, didn’t pick up the swine flu.

Either there’s a crash coming, or it’s my immune system doing that hyperdrive thing it does when I’m under extreme stress. We’ll wait and see how that plays out this next week or two.

Liv Wrong

Ok, so I got my bracelet. Here, modeled by Olivia, my eleven year old daughter, who sniped the fucking thing before I even had a chance to put it on. You know, she’s such a prim little goody two-shoes I expected this to offend her. In fact, I was counting on it. Instead, she wants […]

Ok, so I got my bracelet. Here, modeled by Olivia, my eleven year old daughter, who sniped the fucking thing before I even had a chance to put it on.

Liv Wrong-1

You know, she’s such a prim little goody two-shoes I expected this to offend her. In fact, I was counting on it. Instead, she wants to be the very first one in her class to sport, not the yellow livestrong or the pink breast cancer or the lame support our troops, but the black LIVEWRONG bracelet.

Maybe this is it. Maybe she’s turned the corner and joined the family.

The thing is, we’re proud as hell of her. She’s kind, friendly, just made honor roll in her school.

But as we always say, we sort of planned on having Wednesday Addams. We wound up with Marilyn Munster.

But there’s hope for for her yet, I think, to get in touch with her inner evil.

What’s fifty-six?

“Mom, what’s fifty-six?””Ah, I’m not sure what you mean.””I think it might be a… a…””Mmm-hmm?”(Whispered) “…a set thing…”Long, long pause.

    “Mom, What’s fifty-six?”

    “Ah, I’m not sure what you mean.”

    “I think it might be a… a…”

    “Mmm-hmm?”

    (Whispered) “…a sex thing…”

    Long, long pause.

    “Honey, do you mean sixty-nine?”

    “Oh, yeah, that’s it.”

    “Where did you hear about that?”

    “Some kids at school…”

This is the kind of conversation one has when one has children on the verge of teenager-hood. The kind of conversation that’s easy if you’re up-tight and prudish, because you can just wash a kid’s mouth with soap or spank them or pretend you don’t understand. But when you actually talk to your kids and tell them the truth, it can be a little but complicated.

The truth. That’s the tricky part. What truth? How much?

I’m a dirty bastard. I write erotica. I know sexuality. But putting things like this into a context so it’s both understandable and appropriate; that’s difficult.

How do you explain sexuality, sensuality, to a ten year old?

Honestly though, here’s what happens when you don’t.

I had a co-worker named Suzy, long long ago when I worked at a poster store and head shop, a place connected to Tower Records. We sold bongs and rolling papers, pipes and coke mirrors. Plants and incense.

So Suzy was the honey of the crew. A little older than most of us, I was maybe 20, she was 23 or so. A suntanned California babe. A little dim, but not as dim as she acted. Not really as cute as we all thought she was, but you know, the cutest girl we actually had there with us every day. I wanted to fuck her desperately. So did most of the rest of us. And I realize now, I could have but I didn’t think to just ask.

So I wore a shirt back then, a kelly-green football jersey with a big number 69 on the back. People would comment on it, and I’d say “It was the position I played in high-school.” Some got it, some didn’t.

I used this joke on Suzy one day and got a blank stare. The sort of an embarrassed grin. She moved in close, all intimate-like, and whispered to me.

“I don’t know what that means,” she said.

“What?”

“Sixty-nine. I don’t — uh…”

She paused and looked around.

“I don’t know what it means!” she finished, lamely.

I could have said a lot of things. Now, obviously, I’d suggest that I show her. And it might have worked, for all I know. She might have let me take her in the back room and demonstrate. I certainly would have gone if it’d played that way. But then, twenty years old, I had no idea what I might have gotten away with.

So I decided to go for the prank.

“Ask your mother,” I said.

It was a couple of days later when I saw her again; one or the other of us was off shift. But her face was red when she saw me, her body language all embarrassment and irritation.

She planted a punch in my shoulder, and then started poking me.

“You! You! Y-y-y-y-y-y – YOU!” she sputtered at me.

“What?”

“You told me to ask her!”

“Ask who? What?” I’d forgotten all about it.

“You told me to ask my mother, what 69 is!”

“Ooooooohhhh yeahhhhh….”

“And I did!”

Her face was getting redder.

“And. She. Told me!

Poor Suzy. I doubt that’s the last sexual lesson she had to learn the hard way.

It’s very important to me that my children grow up never having to say “Oh, wow, I didn’t know that.” It’s so easy to teach them, and costs so little. I want them to be the ones who can tell their peers the truth when teen-age conversation turns to adult matters. I want them to be the ones who know what STDs are, who know how you can and can’t get pregnant. I want them to know they can come to us and ask about birth control someday.

BUt still. How do you explain sixty-nine to a ten year old?

I didn’t have to, this time. The conversation above was between mother and daughter, and handled incredibly well; matter-of-factly with enough but not too much detail.

That conversation concluded, after a couple of ten-year old Eeeewwwws and Ughs, with this:

“…And I give you full permission, now that you know this, to forget it completely and pretend we didn’t have this conversation.”

Which my ten-year-old did, and went back to her homework. But now she knows she can ask a question like that and get a real answer.

I must say though, I’m waiting for the day she asks about why daddy is always kissing people who aren’t mommy. That will be an interesting conversation.