Radical Reinvention: U2 Gets Over Themselves

By the end of 1989, U2 was the biggest band in the world. I was a huge fan, and had been ever since I was 7 years old and heard the October album for the first time (it helps to have a cool aunt). They had just completed a world tour documented by the movie and album Rattle and Hum, which spawned from the massively successful 1987 offering, The Joshua Tree. They were everywhere, all the time, and it was starting to be exhausting for both band and fans. They felt they’d done everything they could, musically, so the band threw themselves a New Year’s Eve party during which Bono told fans “It’s no big deal, it’s just — we have to go away and…and dream it all up again.

And so they did.

Achtung Baby is an album born of conflict and hope. U2 spent some time recording at the Hansa studios in Berlin between the fall of the Berlin wall and the official reunification of Germany in 1990. David Bowie had created some of his best work there and the band were hoping to be energized by the city that inspired both Bowie and Iggy Pop. However, while the country around them was making up, U2 were on the verge of breaking up. Despite long studio days, the band couldn’t decide on a musical direction and tensions were running high. Eventually, they found their way and the result is something that had never been heard before.

The opening track, Zoo Station, starts with a chainsaw of guitar that is answered with a crash of drums. Dark and electric, it sets the tone for the rest of the album. Bono’s vocals, usually loud and proud, were reduced to a highly-processed, breathy whisper-growl. This was not the U2 we had come to know, and they were determined to make that clear. U2, it seemed, had learned to dance.

The Fly was released as the first single in October 1991 ahead of the album proper, which arrived in stores on November 18th of that year. If ever there were a way to say “hey, things have changed around here,” this was it. With the lines “every artist is a cannibal/ every poet is a thief/ all kill their inspiration/ and sing about the grief” Bono was telling us what he and the band had done: they had killed the “old” U2. Gone were the cowboy hats and weird bolo ties and The Edge’s ponytail and heart-on-sleeve earnestness. In their place, we got shiny black leather, glitter, and the plastic fantastic feeling of having taken a sip from the wrong glass in the nightclub of your fever dreams. If the U2 of the 80s was a wholesome glass of milk, the U2 of the 90s was shaping up to be a glass of absinthe. “Forget everything you think you know about us,” it says. “This is something else entirely.”

Achtung Baby is, in many ways, an adult record. It is missing the big, youthful, in-your-face, capital letters DRAMA of their earliest work and it moves away from the “let’s all save the world” feeling of The Joshua Tree/Rattle & Hum. Achtung Baby has already seen the world and is equal parts amused by it (Even Better Than The Real Thing) and completely wearied by it (Love Is Blindness). It could be the soundtrack to a relationship breakup, even.

For example, Until The End of The World is the story of Jesus’ betrayal told from the point of view of Judas. They’re at a party, and “everybody havin’ a good time/ except you/ you were talking about the end of the world.” The song illustrates and underlines the fundamental incompatibility of two people who used to love each other. This theme is drawn out over the course of the album, and veers to a cold accusation in Acrobat (“and you must be/ an acrobat/ to talk like this/ and act like that”) from a resigned sort of acceptance in One (“we’re one/ but we’re not the same”). It’s the story of a band breaking up with itself.

25 years later, the musical landscape is very different but I think Achtung Baby has aged gracefully. U2 may not be the biggest or the best band in the world anymore, but they’re still together and still making music that is equal parts interesting and baffling. There have been a few missteps along the way (their most recent album comes to mind), and they’re not my favorite band anymore (we broke up, but that’s a post for another day), but U2, and this album in particular, are as much a part of me as my left thumb.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Music

I HAVE NO GUILTY PLEASURES

The songs we sing in the shower tell us far more about ourselves than those we discuss in public. For example, the guy at the tattoo shop who is blasting Slayer? I can almost guarantee you that he knows all the words to The Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.” Your next-door neighbor who will not stop with the Nine Inch Nails at all hours of the night? That guy has at least one, if not two Enya CDs. I know a guy who professes to be an opera lover and gets very snooty about other genres of music, but he knows all the words to “Miracles” from Insane Clown Posse. I have Phish stickers on my car, but am I belting out Corey Hart’s “Never Surrender” when it comes on the radio? You bet I am.

I used to believe very strongly in the idea of a “guilty pleasure.” According to Wikipedia, a guilty pleasure is “something, such as a film, a television program, or a piece of music that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard.” The important part of that definition is the word “feeling.” If you feel something isn’t worthy of your time, yet you devote time to it anyway, that’s what makes it a guilty pleasure. A guilty pleasure song is the aural equivalent of a Hot Pocket. You know it’s terrible, but you’re doing it anyway, and it is delicious.

A two-second Google search for “guilty pleasure music” turned up a slew of results, from a Spotify playlist courtesy of The Quietus to one made up of “summer songs” from Entertainment Weekly (which, one could argue, is a guilty pleasure in and of itself).

I’ve changed my mind, however, about the “guilty” part of guilty pleasures. I’m not sure when I made that shift from sheepishly mumbling along to Haddaway’s “What Is Love” into the full-tilt car-boogie dance routine I do now, but I just don’t care what people think anymore. I’m enthusiastic in my consumption of popular culture and you should be, too!

My favorite [former] “guilty pleasure” song of all time is “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. I am completely sincere about my love for this song, ask anyone. It’s a fun, dance-y pop song that is all about how ol’ Rick is going to be the Best! Boyfriend! Ever! He’s never gonna give you up, let you down, run around or desert you! Lyrics aside, the song itself is pure 80s bubblegum fluff. From the electronic drums to the smooth synth, this song tells you right up front that we are going to dance! Awkwardly!

There is a reason why this became one of the greatest memes on the internet. It’s not that it’s the best song ever written (that’s a debate for another day), it’s because this is a goofy, silly, song that sounds just as goofy and silly as the lyrics would lead you to believe. Back when RickRolling was all the rage, people would click, see the video pop up, and groan. But a sizeable number of folks would give it a listen, and maybe those folks found themselves humming it off and on throughout the rest of the day. Those people are my people.

That’s how, sometimes, a guilty pleasure becomes a genuine pleasure. Everyone has one, and the ones who say they don’t are either lying, trying to sleep with you, or both. I’ve told you mine, what’s yours?

2 Comments

Filed under Music

To The Mother of the Kids Down The Street

Yeah, I saw you this morning when you were walking your kids to school. You don’t have to pass right by my house, but you chose to. It’s unfortunate that I was walking my kid to the bus stop at the same time. Or perhaps it was deliberate, I don’t know and to be quite honest, I don’t really care.

Did I stop to speak to you? No.

Did I even look in your direction? No.

Why?

BECAUSE YOU DO NOT EXIST.

Your kids and my kid tried that whole friendship thing. Over the course of two years I watched as things would ebb and flow between them, and I stayed out of it for the most part. Kids will be kids, and a large part of growing up is learning to navigate the social flow. As an only child, my daughter struggles with it a little bit. Your kids have each other to pummel and negotiate with.

The first time, Jillian came home from the playground in tears because your son wouldn’t leave her alone. I didn’t press for details but I did gather that she’d asked him to stop and he would not, and it progressed to him hitting her. Maybe it was in jest, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I asked you to talk with your son about putting hands on my daughter and that bit of business stopped.

The second time (and a few times thereafter), she came home in tears because your daughter said she didn’t want to be friends anymore. I didn’t get involved because that is normal little-girl behavior and it tends to work itself out. A few days later, they were palling around the neighborhood as if nothing had happened.

Then we have the incident from a couple of weeks ago. Jillian comes home from the playground in tears (AGAIN), and when I asked what happened, I got a garbled mess of what sounds like an attempt at bullying and ended with “[Your kid] hit me.”

That’s when I stepped in. I told Jillian in no uncertain terms that if ANY of your children EVER hit her again, she has my permission and my blessing and my support to give it back as good as she gets. I’ve even told her where on the body she should aim.

After I calmed her down and cheered her up, I sent you a note saying that while I understand kids mess around, if yours can’t control themselves around my kid, then we’re going to have to have a talk. I know you’ve said that I think I’m better than everyone else, and that’s mostly true. I might not be better than everyone else, but I’m miles ahead of you because I’m not raising a bully. Or two, as the case may be.

And that’s why I didn’t even look in your direction this morning.

It’s not that I’m ignoring you, it’s that you simply don’t exist.

Comments Off on To The Mother of the Kids Down The Street

Filed under Jillian, Other People

Tentative

The Cleveland Cavaliers have forced a Game 7 in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Nobody can deny that the Warriors have dominated the NBA for the past couple of years because numbers don’t lie. Last year, the Cavs faced the Warriors in the Finals and were beaten in six games. Two amazing victories and four heartbreaking losses.

And here we are again.

As it stands right now, it’s 3-3. No team has ever been up 3-1 in the Finals and lost it, so the Cavs are poised to make history in more ways than one. You see, Cleveland hasn’t won a championship in any major sport since 1964.

That’s 11 years before I was born. [this is the 3rd time I have edited this because I have forgotten simple arithmetic]

I was born and raised in Ravenna, Ohio. It’s a sleepy, small town about 45 minutes southeast of Cleveland. Most of the people there support the Cleveland sports teams, and I have never known a professional sports championship from any of “my” teams. In fact, it’s often very much the reverse.

There is “the Drive.” There is “the Fumble.” There is “the Shot.” And then there is whatever it was that fucked the Indians in their World Series bids over the years (I’m actually a Mets fan and have been since 1986, so apologies to my Cleveland peeps for not being with them 100%).

So what do we do now, being 48 minutes away from the end? Do we dare hope that maybe, just maybe LeBron James and his team will do what feels literally impossible and bring a championship home to Cleveland? What does Cleveland even DO if that happens? So much of the city’s identity is built on despair. We’re afraid to hope for the best because we know, at a cellular level, that it will never, ever happen.

But it might!

We have hope. We have faith. Cleveland sports fans are the very definition of faith. An agnostic myself, I’m skeptical of anything I can’t really find evidence for. Sure, there might be a God out there somewhere, but I’m not really buying it. Same with Cleveland sports. There might be a championship out there, but we are none of us convinced. Still, we hope. We show up. We buy tickets and t-shirts and those foam fingers and stale popcorn and we show up. We yell, we scream, we boo, we cheer, we laugh and we cry. We believe. We have faith. It’s tenuous, it’s shaky, but it’s there. We. Believe.

Faith means showing up even when you are convinced the outcome is not in your favor. Faith is Charlie Brown giving Lucy the football because maybe this time, MAYBE THIS TIME, she won’t be a total cunt about it and he will finally get to kick it. Faith is hope.

I honestly don’t care that much either way about NBA basketball. But I understand symbolism and what this would mean to a place that I call home (despite having lived in the wilds of suburban New Jersey for over 17 years). Ohio is shaped like a heart, and that’s where mine is.

So we go into tomorrow, Father’s Day, with hope. It’s the kind of hope that you almost have to deny. It makes your skin hurt, with the apprehension and the heady mix of joy and anticipated pain that we’re all going to feel when Cleveland takes the court in enemy territory. Golden State might have the skill, but I guarantee you that nobody, and I mean NO GODDAMNED BODY in the history of the entire world, ever, wants a victory more than those Cleveland Cavaliers do. Sometimes, wanting it hard enough can make it happen.

I will likely spend tomorrow feeling like I want to jump out of my skin. I probably won’t watch the game, because when I do, Basketball Rachel comes out and she scares children. I’m not into praying, but I might try that. What I probably will end up doing, is the same thing I always do on Sunday nights: I’ll be sat on the sofa, reading a book and checking scores on my phone while What’s-His-Name watches something completely devoid of any cultural relevancy. Whatever happens tomorrow night is up to LeBron James and his teammates. I can’t think too hard about it.

I can only hope.

Comments Off on Tentative

Filed under Stuff

Unfinished

A few weeks back, when my birthday was happening, I had a whole post started about how I hate the women’s-magazine trope of “life begins at 40” (or 50 or 60 or when you die). I still hate that.

Milestone birthdays are interesting to me – they mark an arbitrary amount of time passed, yet people ascribe huge importance to some of them (18, 21, 30, 40, 50, etc). For the most part, I have done the same.

I turned 40 last year and celebrated by spending a lovely week in the desert. I’m decidedly NOT a desert sort of person (I require trees with leaves and seasons and the occasional snow, regardless of how much I might bitch about it), but I spent my 20th birthday in the desert too, and both 20 and 40 marked huge changes in my life path.

At 20, my desert weekend helped me find the strength to leave a… let’s call it “unhealthy” relationship and put the fractured pieces of my life back together. At 40, my desert week helped me look back on the previous 20 years and see what picture those puzzle pieces turned out to be. Apparently it takes me 2 full decades to get my shit together, so my 60th birthday should be amazing. Maybe I’ll trek solo across the Sahara or something.

So while I wouldn’t say “life begins at 40,” now that I’m a year away from that I might say that my extremely prolonged adolescence ended at 40. I got rid of a lot of things and relationships and people who weren’t having a positive effect on me. I changed tracks but I wasn’t sure where this train was headed.

Now I know. About two months ago, I contacted all three universities I’ve attended and requested my transcripts. I knew that they weren’t stellar, but they weren’t as bad as I’d feared. I got all three of them and then spent a day just looking at them and making a bunch of decisions.

Before I could talk myself out of it, I re-applied to Rutgers. The application was disappointingly spare: who, where, when. That’s all. No room for me to explain why, at 41 years of age, I am trying to go back to school. No room to explain why I left in the first place and the things I’ve learned about myself and the world since then. No room, really, for bullshit.

And that’s the theme here – there is no more room for bullshit.

So I submitted this very disappointingly spare application and then I waited. AND WAITED. And… waited. I have discovered a remarkable amount of patience in my advanced age. I waited. The answer was either going to be “yes, come back” or “no, sorry, die in a fire,” and there wasn’t anything I could do about it either way, so I waited.

I was really starting to get fed up with this whole hippie notion of leaving it up to the universe when I got the email. “HEY GUESS WHAT YOU CAN COME BACK.” Oh! Okay. I was at work, and while I was processing this news, I logged in to Facebook to announce it to the world (because nothing happens in life until you tell Facebook, right?). Before I could post anything, I saw that Prince had died.

That put rather a damper on my day, to put it mildly, but it was kind of a good thing in that I could put all of my “holy shit” feelings in THAT basket and be more rational about this whole college thing.

My acceptance at Rutgers is conditional. I had to call and make an appointment with an academic advisor before I could do anything else, so the following Monday morning, I did just that. I knew if I put it off any longer I wouldn’t do it and come September I’d be all pissed off at myself for it. So I did it and got an appointment for the following morning.

[Imagine nuclear meltdown klaxons here] OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE THIS IS GOING TOO FAST.

I freaked out about it for exactly one day, then I went to my appointment. The first question out of the Dean’s mouth was “why are you here?” A HA! YES! BULLSHIT TIME. Except it wasn’t: I told her all the things. I told her about my first attempt at college and the barriers I bumped up against crashed into at warp speed. I talked about my 2nd attempt and how well that was going and how I thought it would be fine when I transferred to Rutgers but it was NOT fine and things went badly from the get-go. I talked about my ADHD and the anxiety/depression I have ALWAYS had that I now know is 100% related to it. I talked about where I personally failed and where I was failed. I talked about Jillian and how her diagnosis led to my diagnosis and how both of those things led to a radical re-shaping of our personal worlds. I talked about the programs of study I’d abandoned and what I was planning to do instead and why.

She listened. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t. But the Dean listened to my story and re-activated me as a student on the spot. I still have the conditions to fulfill, but I have so much more knowledge and so many more tools now that I didn’t have before. I also have enough credits for a minor in both Music and Linguistics.

I go back in the fall.

1 Comment

Filed under Me Me Me

My ADHD Life – The End of Year One

The cat is licking a hammer.

I was composing the opening line for this post as I walked toward the back door to let the dogs out into the backyard and I happened to glance at the cat. He’s sitting on the ledge next to our basement steps (where things that are supposed to go downstairs are put), licking a hammer that’s been sitting there for oh, a good few weeks now.

If this isn’t a perfect snapshot of what my life is like, I don’t know what is.

Roughly a year ago, we had reached our limit with Jillian and her relationship with the school. We’d been told by two doctors and three therapists that “she’s fine! She’s very smart, she’s bored in school, can you work with the teacher to get her more challenging things to do?” So we’d talked to the teacher, who agreed that Jillian is very smart, but that the challenging bit was to get her to sit down and shut up and stop singing and/or bursting into tears over every little thing.

“But it’s not ADHD, we don’t think.” Oh, okay. I do not have a medical degree, therefore I trusted the second opinion, the third opinion, all the way up to the fifth opinion I got when discussing Jillian’s struggles. Yet, nothing we did for her was effective. Not a damn thing, from rewards/sanctions to behavior mods. Nothing had any effect on her behavior whatsoever.

She was starting to suffer, and worse – she was starting to notice. She had become That Kid, and was being left out of things like playground cliques and birthday parties and other social gatherings that all of her classmates were invited to. The gossip grapevine in this town is VERY strong, and even though I’m not an active participant (I have my three friends and that’s enough for me), I could see that things were happening around her that she wasn’t being invited to.

I snapped. I finally lost it. I had A Talk with the pediatrician, who tried to assure me YET AGAIN that “she’s fine, she doesn’t have ADHD.” Screen her, I said. We have, they replied. Oh, you mean a bullshit 10-second interview about how she likes school? Isn’t there something, oh I don’t know, FORMAL we could try? “We just don’t think her behavior is severe enough to warrant something like that. And your insurance likely won’t cover it.”

Well, thanks, Doc. I appreciate you trying to save me some cash, but my child is having a really hard time and if my instincts are correct (THEY ALWAYS ARE), then perhaps we can get ahead of this thing and HELP HER.

We got a recommendation from a therapist we know and trust and took Jillian to YET ANOTHER DOCTOR to have her checked out. I cannot say enough good things about this experience. From top to bottom, working with this office and this medical team has been a parent’s dream. They were absolutely interested in hearing about our experiences and our struggles and they listened to what we had to say. Bottom line, THEY TOOK THE TIME. The regular pediatrician is more of a meat-grinder operation: get as many people through those doors as possible. This, not so much. They took the time.

A full physical checkup for Jillian was first. Then they gave her a battery of tests, from IQ to whatever else, maybe the SAT and the ASVAB, too. I don’t know, but it was a lot. The doctor observed her while she hammered out the tests, and after that they sent her to the play area to hang out (and be observed) while they scored the tests and talked with us.

I cried twice. I had been so frustrated and upset for so long, it was so amazing to hear someone say “yes, we think you’re right about that.” I’m her mother. I know her inside and out, of course I’m right. After a bit, the tests were scored and all three of us met with the doctor to discuss the results.

One feature of my own personal medical life is that any doctor who has a look at me goes “…wow.” Yes, I know. My body subscribes to the “go big or go home” philosophy (in more ways that one, hahahaha), and when something on me requires a doctor’s attention, it REALLY does. Jillian seems to follow this line as well.

The result: off the charts. IQ? Off the charts (we’re terrified of this). ADHD? OFF THE DAMN CHARTS.

I knew it. I KNEW IT! I FUCKING KNEW IT. Back when she was in kindergarten, I knew it.

And so, a diagnosis was reached. While medication was definitely offered as a solution, I wanted to hold off on that until we’d exhausted every other option available including school intervention, etc. We met with the school’s IEP team and had a nice chat with them and it was determined that she didn’t qualify for an IEP or other “offical” accommodations as defined by law but that they’d do whatever we all thought was necessary to help her out anyway.

A couple of months of that, and things improved a little, but she was still struggling and every day was a battle for her. That’s when we decided to look at medication. There is A LOT of bullshit out there about how kids are “overmedicated” and there is a lot of vitriol directed at parents who apparently jump to give their kids meds because that’s the “easy way” of controlling this kind of behavior. While I don’t doubt that there are parents out there who do this, my guess is that the overwhelming majority of people who decide to medicate their kids do so with a lot of fear and trepidation and regret. It’s not an easy decision to make and it’s definitely not something I talk a lot about because the first person who gets in my face and tells me I’m a bad mother for giving my kid meds, well, I’m going to eviscerate that person and then set them on fire and then drive my car over their ashes before I let my dogs poop on them.

The medication has made all the difference. I used to flinch when an email from Jillian’s teacher would pop up in my inbox because it was NEVER good news. NEVER. Not once. They’d been coming weekly, and it was never good. Now? I haven’t heard from Jillian’s teacher unless I contact her first and the news is almost always overwhelmingly positive. She’s a good student and a good kid and is able to control herself so much more now. You can’t argue with results.

Sure, she’s still a little bit loud and kind of a maniac and she’s got an uphill battle, socially. I know she will eventually find her tribe, but I hope she’s not scarred for life before that happens. But the difference between this 4th grade year and the years before it are like night and day. Whenever I doubt my decision to put her on medication, I remember that.

So here we are, a year later. Some days are better than others – mornings will never not be a struggle because that pill doesn’t kick in for about a half-hour. So every day is still exactly the same. “Get up. No, get up NOW. GET UP. Eat. Please eat. Please stop talking and eat. Are you supposed to be doing that while you eat? GO EAT. Where are you going? Why didn’t you pee when you got up? Get dressed. NOW. It will be cold in the morning and warm in the afternoon. GET. DRESSED. It’s PE today, so where are your sneakers? Why aren’t you wearing pants? Where is your backpack? Are you making your lunch or buying it? Do you have your snack? You have to leave in 10 minutes, GO GET DRESSED. Brush your hair. Fine, I’ll do it, come here. GET DRESSED. No, you don’t need an umbrella. Do you have your house key? Fine, see you later.”

Every. Day. Every day is brand new for her, and it will likely never be an automatic process. She’ll never just… get up and go to school, fully dressed, with everything she needs tucked safely in her backpack. If I don’t steer her, she’ll get up and eat breakfast (maybe) then have a dance party in her room for 45 minutes. She’ll watch the cat watching birds out the window. She’ll get lost in a book and forget what time it is.

All of these are lovely things, but not on school days. Weekends are better, usually.

What I found interesting was that her ADHD diagnosis led to my own ADHD diagnosis. After reading through her test results and having all the bells in my head ringing like a royal wedding, I went to my own therapist and said “let’s see where I land.” Well, well, well. WELLITY WELLITY WELLITY. ADHD all up and down the joint. My therapist said it’s very likely that I’ve always had it and that is probably the culprit for a lot (a very lot) of the various issues I faced in my late teens/early 20’s (also known as The Disaster Years). ADHD is probably the reason for all of it.

WHAT A BREAKTHROUGH. There’s a good reason why I haven’t been writing much on thishere blog, you know. I tend to write when I’m upset or anxious or frustrated or angry, and I haven’t been those things very often since I figured it out. I stopped a lot of self-blame and let go of a LOT of guilt and shame about the fact that I’m almost 41 and I’d be the World’s Greatest Slacker if I could just get around to submitting the forms.

It’s not that I don’t want to or that I forgot to do things – it’s that I just literally CANNOT. It’s not a personality flaw, after all! Oh, trust me – I still have myriad personality flaws, but my historical flakiness isn’t actually one of them. WOO HOO! Or something. It was amazing to me to realize that my inability to follow through on so many things isn’t because I personally suck at life – I have/had this invisible barrier in front of me all this time!

That knowledge has transformed my life over this past year. The anxiety/depression cycle I used to churn around in has abated somewhat. I am almost completely off the anxiety/depression meds I’d been on for years and years, and I feel amazing. I feel things, period. That’s new.

Now that I know the WHY of things, I am better at getting around it. I know that I have a limited amount of fucks to give every day. And once those are given out, there are no more, so I have to apportion them appropriately. It’s getting better. I’m considering medication, but as an adult with ADHD, getting meds is really fucking hard because most of the ones used to treat ADHD are also taken recreationally. That’s a problem, but not one I need to solve at the moment.

As for Jillian, she is improving as well. If you consider every day a race, most people line up at the starting line and go when the gun goes off. Jillian’s normal starting point is about 200 yards back, which means she has to go that much farther every day just to get started. Having the medication available to her put her maybe not ON the starting line, but a hell of a lot closer than 200 yards. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Comments Off on My ADHD Life – The End of Year One

Filed under Jillian

Modern Marriage: A Scene

A few weeks ago, we used eBay to sell our XBox Rock Band set, since it was taking up space and nobody was using it. It sold fairly quickly and the money went into his dormant PayPal account, because of course it did.

He tried to log in and verify his account and jump through whatever other hoops, but was unsuccessful. That’s where we begin our scene.

*Bling!* (that’s my obnoxious email notification sound)

[It’s a forwarded email from Freddie, regarding his PayPal account.]

Him: I can’t figure this out!

Me: Hang on, let me see what I can do.

I click the link in the forwarded email.

I am asked for his PayPal password, which I don’t know and can’t guess. It’s been ages since he used it. Instead, I click “change password.” PayPal sends an email to him.

I then log in to his gmail account, because I’m his wife and I know things like passwords, bank account numbers, social security numbers, and can forge signatures when needed. I open the “hey, someone wants to change your password” email, follow the prompts, and enter a new password. Easy enough.

Go back to PayPal, go through the various steps of verification, adding a credit card. No need to add the bank account, since I’m shutting his PayPal down as soon as I transfer the money to MY PayPal account, which gets used more often. It’s stupid for us to have two different accounts and since I am the Chief Financial Officer of this company, I get to decide how we manage things.

Meanwhile, my phone is blowing up because he’s forwarding me the “OMG YOUR PASSWORD CHANGED” emails from his gmail.

Me: Stop forwarding me shit. I’m fixing it.

Him: I thought you would need these emails.

Me: I’m logged into your gmail right now. Stop messing with it.

Him: I feel so violated!

Me: It’s not like this is a mortgage or a will! Calm down.

Thirty seconds later, I have access to his PayPal balance. I send it to myself, and all is right with the world. I honestly don’t know what he was or wasn’t doing and why he couldn’t just… change his password and stuff, but as any woman knows, there are just some questions you don’t want to know the answers to. He had nearly a month to figure it out and it took me thirty seconds.

Ah, life.

Comments Off on Modern Marriage: A Scene

Filed under Freddie, Me Me Me, Teh Internets

The Hard Things

One of the hardest things I am called upon to do as a parent is to stay out of the various playground scuffles that Jillian finds herself involved in. She doesn’t have trouble making friends, but keeping them is a different matter altogether. She’s just exactly who she is and that doesn’t always translate well to interpersonal relationships.

I should know.

I know, in my heart of hearts, that she will be okay. She IS okay. She will find her tribe, and everything will be fine. The ability to be your true self when everyone around you is putting on masks is such a rare thing, and I think Jillian has that. It’s just so hard to watch her tiny face crumple when she comes home from the playground all upset and I ask “what’s wrong?” She’s a sensitive wee soul, and I have worked mighty hard to protect and nurture that. She’s never mean to other kids, and is usually baffled and confused when kids are mean to her.

My poor baby girl. I want to punch those other children. Alas, the best I will be able to do is make a voodoo doll of the culprit and stick all the pins I own into it.

1 Comment

Filed under Jillian

Squalor

It’s been awhile since we’ve used a cleaning service here at the house. We had a good one a few years back, but they brought us fleas, so we fired them and then spent the next two years (and some) getting rid of the fleas. Life sucks when your cat, who does not go outside (not for lack of trying) is riddled with the tiny bloodsucking fiends.

So the house is maybe not in the cleanest shape it could be. It’s not that I don’t have time, it’s that I can’t be bothered, really. Every now and again I will go insane and clean the joint from top to bottom, but that doesn’t happen often enough to make the other people in the house happy.

We’ve tried a couple of cleaning services here and there, but none of them have been satisfactory. There was one that did a half-assed job, which annoyed me. I can do a half-assed job for free, thanks. Then there was the other one, who did a fine job but for whatever reason couldn’t put us on their regular schedule and so we had to call them every time we wanted them to come. That’s even more annoying than them doing a shitty job! PUT ME ON THE SCHEDULE, DAMMIT.

A lot of this ties into the ADHD thing that we’re all living with. We really do need things to just… happen around here sometimes. Things need to be automatic when they can be, because that frees up mental space and energy to tackle the anomalies of modern life, most of which involve dog barf. I’ve got a lot of my bills set up to be paid automatically, which has saved me an awful lot of aggravation. Jillian is on a schedule of sorts, which makes her life easier. Freddie… well, he’s kind of on his own because he’s a grown-ass adult and I can’t manage his life when I have a kid and three pets to wrangle.

But, you know, life goes on with or without a cleaning service. This year has been bad for the dog hair, however. Piper has decided that it is her purpose in life to cover every surface in the world with her hair. No amount of brushing or using the Furminator has made the tiniest difference in how much hair she sheds. It’s not even gross anymore – it just is. That’s just what our life is like now.

Freddie is a huge fan of Angie’s List. That’s a service you can use to get “trusted” reviews of services and businesses for home-related stuff. He used that to find what is going to be our new cleaning service, and the owner came over yesterday for a walkthrough and estimate.

Now… it’s been a LONG time since I’ve done any kind of major cleaning. I broke my foot a few weeks ago and have been trying to stay off of it as much as possible. So even the half-assed cleaning I would normally do isn’t really getting done. It’s not that bad, honestly, but it’s not… great.

So this lady comes in and looks around a bit and I could tell she was just kind of mildly horrified. You’d think that owning a house-cleaning service would make you immune to some things, but to be honest, there was A LOT of dog hair on the floor yesterday because I hadn’t gotten around to sweeping it yet. She just kept saying things like “oh… wow…” and I was pointing out the trouble spots (literally everywhere) for her while she just nodded her head and made notes.

I think it’s going to work out all right, though. Her company seems legit, they have a lot of good reviews, and best of all – we’re going to be on a regular schedule. I’m getting better at dealing with clutter (the File Pile is no more) and this can only help with that.

Comments Off on Squalor

Filed under House

Flipping a Switch

Friday ended Jillian’s first full week on 10mg of Focalin. I checked in with her teachers to see what they thought about it, and they were both very pleased with her improvement. She’s closer to the “normal” range of third-grader-ness, in that she gets most of her work done with minimal (that word!) intervention, and the attention paid to her is commensurate with the attention paid to the rest of the class. It’s a nice change from having her in a bright spotlight.

Obviously, we want her to have the full effects of her medication while she’s at school. That’s how this is supposed to work. The downside is that her behavior at home isn’t all that different. The extended-release version of Focalin (which is what Jillian takes) is meant to last about 10-12 hours. So I give it to her at breakfast (7:30AM) and by dinnertime, the effects are starting to wear off and it is noticeable.

It’s like flipping a switch. You can see it in her face, a bit like in Harry Potter when Harry and Ron take Polyjuice Potion and their faces contort and writhe around while they’re in the process of changing to someone else. It’s almost exactly like that – you can see her face change, and then the noises start up again, the inability to sit on a chair correctly comes back, and the talking starts.

THE TALKING.

Since that’s our “normal,” it’s not so bad. We’ve had quite a few years of dealing with it, after all. But it’s never not exhausting, both for us and for her. As with anything, we adapt. As long as she can get through her days, we can deal with the rest.

Overall, I’m pleased with how things are going. I wish we would have started this process earlier, but we kept bumping up against that stigma of “oh, people just throw pills at problems instead of looking for other solutions.” I can’t say I feel guilty about doing this, because I don’t really believe in parenting guilt and also because I know we did so much to try to avoid medication. We tried environmental changes, diet changes, behavioral interventions, the whole thing. But this? THIS WORKS.

Now we’re learning about balance. Today being a Sunday, we don’t have anything planned that we’d need Jillian to behave/focus for. So I chose not to give her the pill today. We’ll have to deal with a chatty, emotional, hurricane of a child, but that’s fine. It’s the weekend.

We’re going to continue with this for the summer because I have zero doubt that it will improve her camp experience, and then when school starts again in September, we’ll cross our fingers and hope these improvements her teachers have seen will continue.

Comments Off on Flipping a Switch

Filed under Jillian