This is a simple column by a complex woman.  
Dumb-asses need not apply.
If you flatter yourself to be a bright spot in the universe
and aren't offended by "psychotic breaks," welcome.
If you're a little frightened, well, all the better.
We kinda like you like that... with hot sauce.


My problem is, I think too much. And, attribute emotions to every thought, regardless of reality. 

Now, if only I could be La La, the third biggest, oldest Teletubby—the yellow one with the twisted phallic symbol on her head—just skipping around, singing my name, giggling at life with my face partially covered with giant mitts, excited over something as mundane (to adults) as tubbytoast... 

Because as Daria-cynical as I may seem, with my wise-assed remarks, peppered in a sailor-speak only grunts in two-town Arizona can appreciate, I’m really an eight-year-old, Barbie-toting, Easy-Bake-Oven-playing child at heart, still roller skating around the neighborhood, inviting the other kids to a round of kick ball or a puppet show in my shed. 

I simply crave joy, the kind of unthinking joy that just happens—without plans aforethought, or scientific dissection afterwards. 

--Excuse me for five minutes, time to move laundry from the washer to the dryer, BRB... 

Dirty clothes ratio: Eddie 40 percent, James 60 percent, mom—meaning me 10 percent. Another reason I’m no Daria Morgendorfer. 

The prefabricated thoughts associated with painful, crippling childhood feelings resurfaced as I watched my 15-plus-month-old son, James crawl, totter and gaze about his first Lynnwood park romp. After just sitting there staring at the trees and at daddy, during my quick pee break, he finally began moving around, exploring the territory. Not that much longer, and he tried standing using daddy’s kneeling body as leverage, then walking toward and away from us. Eventually, we headed to the playground, and a group of pre-teenaged girls, all pretty, all animated, all typically ... pre-teenaged girls. 

Oblivious to stereotypes, preconceptions and the harsh juxtaposition of cliques and outcasts, my innocent toddler son approached them smiling, eyes squinting in the sun, that heartbreaking smile unwavering despite their continued typical pre-teenaged girl snobbery, the kind of facade that desperately clings to numbers as strength in lieu of personality. 

A concrete curb divided them from him, which provided me with a handy excuse to keep turning him around to face the more wide, open grassy playing field. 

In time, James will realize just what happens when the concrete curb is no longer the only dividing factor—and he hears the painful exactment of their chatter, their laughter, their own desperate, pathetic common divide. 

Before then, I pray to God that he learns self-actualization, aided and abetted by the Aquarian sun sign he was born under that saves him from complete annihilation at peer pressure’s hands. For as anyone born under the Uranus planet’s influence knows, they can chatter, laugh and ignore to their catty, petty little clique’s content, there is far better out in the world, unique individuals with outrageous lives, contributing to society, translating a new requiem. Being different, a celebration of the independence of free thought, unfettered by conformists more concerned with blending, fitting in, sucking the hallow from a non-existent soul in each club member’s – 

There I go again, thinking and attributing emotions ... 

It’s just that I’d hate to see that exuberant, thoughtless joy on my precious little boy’s face wiped off by the selfish cruelty of girls like them. As any mother would, I want for my child only the best, only open doors and welcoming arms, an invitation into the wilderness made a community, not an institution’s higher standards of exclusion. Potluck versus country club, if you will. Knowing James, he’d just as soon crash a high society Atlanta, GA debutante ball in scuba gear as arrive in a tuxedo at Uncle George’s backyard barbecue in King’s Park, Long Island. 

Good for him. 

I’ve noticed, for all my over-thinking and attributions, generally, that kind of individuality—the kind that derives immense joy simply from being at home with oneself—is often rewarded by kindness. 

Works for me. My two favorite traits, the antidote to my bullshit meter, are humor and kindness. 

The following day, this past Mother’s Day weekend, we went to church as a family for the second time in a row, at the Everett Northshore complex overlooking the bay, the one that reminds me of Costco on the outside and an ‘N Sync concert on the inside. Such kindness and self-effacing humor, from the greeters to the guests, to the regulars who gave off such a collegiate fraternity feel, clusters to and fro, a opposed to isolated targets of social derision, cliques. While chasing my son James throughout the wide, open carpeted lobby as he crawled through one group of young women toward another, each more beautiful than the next, and each acknowledging his presence with smiles, laughs and an occasional joke about his fast-moving determination, I ceased thinking, and just felt that kind of joy I used to when I’d play jacks with Sheldon down the block on 7th street in the afternoon shade on a summer Thursday, circa 1974, or skip down the sidewalk arm in arm with my best friend Belinda before a professional photographer stopped us for a snapshot, or just laying on a lounge chair beside a pool to my left, the Pacific ocean to my right, a tall, cool strawberry daiquiri on the glass stand nearby, my husband sunning himself besides me on his own lounge chair, the Kaanapali, Maui sun beating a hasty retreat as dusk promised nightly all-you-can-eat, half-off, pupus accompanied by a live jazz band with some members from Eddie’s regular Honolulu gigs. 

For quite awhile, I’d been vexed by my tendency to look forward to whatever day everybody else is awake, up and around, and within easy online access—usually when they’re at work, during breaks, logging on to their favorite websites and message boards, e-mailing breakdowns of their weekends, and just filling up my loneliness with voices. I wished I could enjoy mine as much as they; busy being the best indication. Meanwhile, my Saturdays and Sundays were wasted. 

Until this past Mother’s Day, I had no idea what they were doing out there, besides not sitting in front of their computers waiting around for the potluck party to start. 

After service, and a little meltdown from son James towards the last half-hour of his stay at the nursery daycare set up across the lobby, I held him close, and miraculously, he held me closer, burying his head into the folds of my shoulder and chest, heaving from the sobbing before, every now and again, lifting his face to kiss me and make sure I wasn’t going anywhere, eyes puffy and red, snot running from his nose. Eddie rushed in 10 minutes later, same thing, and normally James reserves his hugs and kisses only for me when he’s upset. But daddy got the lovin’ too, which reassured us that despite the many times our son seemed distant, eager to run around instead of sit in our laps and be affectionate, he really did care about us, recognize in us his home and if we aren’t around, even for an hour and 15 minutes, it mattered. 

As we went shopping, lunching at Alderwood mall, then after, naps all around, to the Outback for a proper Mother’s Day dinner, our son James showed us just how much. The dinner alone, I could’ve framed for posterity, to bring out in my mind whenever I feel low, start thinking too much. 

Our little boy, the one who normally can’t sit still to eat because he’s too busy squirming, whining, throwing food, chewing napkins and freaking out at sudden noises, but getting better each day... well, at the Outback this past Sunday night, he sat there dancing to the 80s hits playing over the intercom, looking around for cute girls, and eating whatever was placed in front of him, including some of the black bread and the Joey menu chicken fingers. 

When my theme song came on, Level 42’s “Something About You,” that’s when James first began to bounce in his high chair. He seemed to recognize the opening notes, staring upward, smiling broadly, and then at me. I don’t ever recall playing this song inordinately while pregnant or afterward (he’s more likely to know Chaka Khan). And yet, here he was, grooving to the very song that epitomized me and my life thus far. 

It had to be a sign. 

Confirmation that everything we’ve done up to this point, mattered. 

Because what else is joy? 

This must be what it feels like to finally, truly fit in. Without those concrete barriers. Or waiting around for Mondays, when the rest of the world wakes up. 

... To have my tubbytoast.


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