I’m getting a new central air conditioner today. It’s been dying a slow and painful death since Alex was a wee babe and we’ve put it off because, well, it hadn’t entirely bit the bucket. The guy came to install it and was all, “Holy shit, I can’t believe they hooked it up like this. It could have blown up.”
“Holy shit, I can’t believe XXX” is about what I think when I think back to our old first floor bathroom, so I think he and I are going to get along fabulously.
(yes, yes that’s right, Pranksters. That IS three types of wallpaper in that tiny room. And, why yes! How astute of you to notice that it’s GLUED TO THE FUCKING DRYWALL. GOD, that was a bitch to get off.)
Anyway. I couldn’t be happier to have this installed, even though it’s costing me a couple of G’s.
As I told The Daver this morning, “Hey, it beats the condo.” He laughed knowingly.
Back when I didn’t know better, The Daver and I bought a three bedroom condo in Oak Park. It was a beautiful red brick building, right on the edge of an “up-and-coming neighborhood.” (in this case, “up-and-coming” means “on the edge of the ghetto”)
Our condo was a charming thing, all tall ceilings and dark wood floors. Very beautiful.
Until we moved in.
It was only then when I realized what “vintage” really meant. It meant, “you’re a fucking sucker.”
We had a radiator in the basement, one that heated all of the units, and, well, it was on when it was on and when it wasn’t on, it was still on. Our condo was right below it, so during the winter, it wasn’t uncommon to see me walking around in a tank top and shorts.
We’d gone to a Condo Board Meeting to learn that our poor radiator was on it’s last legs…and there were no funds from our condo dues to pay for it. It cost something like ten billion dollars.
We’d just shelled out five grand for a new back porch.
And the lead-paint covered windows that may as well have been screens for all the air they kept out? Well, if we wanted to replace those, they were a thousand dollars.
A thousand dollars.
We had something like ten windows. Ten grand (plus installation!) for windows. Windows NOT made of solid gold.
See, we needed to get specialty windows – replicas of the original – to match building code.
(fuck you, vintage)
When we added fans (and learned about the faulty wiring that may have killed us in a fiery blaze, had we not gone up and fixed it) in our condo in the summer because it was 8000000 degrees and window AC units don’t work so well when the windows allow hot air to pour in? Well, we were in trouble with the condo board for not using their electrician.
I have never been happier to move back to the land of the pre-fab.
At least now, when our AC unit craps out on us, I can buy a FLOOR MODEL and have it installed. It’s not specially carved by small children in Zimbabwe to match my house. It’s just an AC unit.
And when I decide to recarpet my house, it will be regular carpet, not carpet hand-crafted on the backs of seventeen vestal virgins.
Which is fortunate. I don’t even know what a vestal virgin is.
Through the grandparental grapevine, I heard that my son had a girlfriend.
Ben, not Alex. Because if Alex had a girlfriend, he’d try and fart on her to woo her. Which, let’s face it, is how Daver wooed me.
When I asked Ben about his “girlfriend,” rather than chattering on for an hour and a half like he normally does, instead he turned red and ran out of the room laughing, yelling, “I DON’T HAVE A GIRLFRIEND.” Which is precisely how Daver wooed me.
Must run in the family.
Yesterday, he brought up his “girlfriend,” again. By again, I mean that he yelled I DON’T HAVE A GIRLFRIEND, then running around the house for a couple of minutes, before coming back to challenge me, “you can’t guess what my girlfriend’s name is.”
Daver warned him, “don’t challenge your mother unless you want her to know, Ben. If she wants to do something, she WILL.” My heart burst with pride.
Curious now, I asked Ben what “girlfriend” meant to him.
“Well,” he informed me, “it’s someone I like.”
“Does…” I asked hesitantly, worried that I hadn’t properly explained dating to him, “does she know you like her?”
“Well,” he looked at his hands. “No.”
I smiled and informed him that this was someone he had a crush on, not a “girlfriend.” He seemed taken aback.
I asked him if he was going to have her come over to play this summer, and again, he blushed furiously and ran around the house like a maniac. Running around like maniacs is what my children do best and why my single friends use visiting Aunt Becky as “free birth control.”
When he finally came back, he said he was too nervous to ask her to hang out this summer.
I knew I had to act. And now.
“Okay, Ben, when you’re all nervous, you think to yourself, EYE OF THE TIGER,” I pulled out the BIG guns.
He looked confused, so I hollered, “EYE OF THE TIGER.”
He looked even MORE confused. Daver queued up Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” as an A/V tool and I began my wicked Air Guitar Routine. Let me tell you, Pranksters, I would TOTALLY win at any air guitar contest EVER.
Well, the music helped. Soon all three of my children were running around the house, air-playing different instruments (we could form an amazing air rock band) yelling, “EYE OF THE TIGER.”
When the song was over, Ben came back and said, “It worked Mom. I feel like I can do ANYTHING now. I’m all EYE OF THE TIGER.”
Exactly, my child.
Am over at Cafe Mom today. Got two columns for you.
When my mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it was a big secret. Not to me, of course, but to the insurance companies. I remember how she had to hide her treatments, her hospitalizations and her actual diagnosis from going “on record” so as to avoid being labeled as “A Crazy.”
I’m not sure anyone outside of our immediate family knew about her illness.
By the time I was in high school, depression wasn’t something that people expected you to be locked in a padded room for. Hats of to Prozac!
I’ve dealt with generic, boring-ass depression on and off for years; sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s worse, and I’ve spoken out repeatedly about how I suffered terrible antenatal depression (depression while pregnant).
Antenatal depression is not quite as well-known as postpartum depression – probably because it’s even less glamorous. I mean, who can be depressed while creating a new life INSIDE you? A new life that’s using your liver as a punching bag, giving you insomnia and causing you to pee your pants when you waddle? Not a GOOD mother.
(that was sarcasm)
When my last child, Amelia, was born in a decidedly non-picturesque freakshow carnival that ended with someone drilling into her brain, removing part of it, and then implanting a prosthetic piece of skull into her delicious wee newborn head, that things went from manageable to so beyond anything I could handle.
But she was fine! I berated myself, night after night, as I relived those horrible awful first days in a series of flashbacks.
I was forever delivering that sick baby, having her ripped from my arms and sent off for neurosurgery. I was forever offering her up like Abraham sacrificing Issac, stuck between two horrifying alternatives. In what few dreams I had, I roamed the halls of the hospital, everything stuck in freeze-frame.
Why, I chastised myself, if she had survived, was I in such a state? I couldn’t answer that.
For months following her birth and surgery, I couldn’t leave the house. My beloved roses wilted from lack of care that summer because I simply couldn’t handle even that – a task which had brought me so much joy. I couldn’t do anything. I was mired in one place. Numb. Alone.
Those were the worst days of my life.
It wasn’t for many months that it smacked me upside the head: I had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I wrestled with the realization.
Well, I said to myself, Aunt Becky, that sounds dumb. Fucking man-up here. Get your bitch ass off the couch and fucking do something about it. You’re not a soldier. And sweet baby Jesus, your kid survived! How dare you be so fucking whiny-pants about it?
It took a long time for me to accept that I was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Acceptance, they say, is always the hardest part. But I finally did.
And here’s what I have to say to you, in honor of National Mental Health Month:
Having PTSD is not my fault. It’s not something I need to be ashamed of. It’s not a character flaw. It’s not a plea for sympathy. It’s not something I’m all, “would you like any cheese with that whine?” about. It’s something that is.
I am NOT ashamed to have a mental illness.
My name is Becky Sherrick Harks and I am the face of PTSD.
On Band Back Together, we spend countless hours working to reduce stigmas by bringing the world stories – real stories written by real people – about mental illness, child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse and all of the other dark places in our lives.
That is what we proudly do.
We’re celebrating National Mental Health Month by doing a stigma-busting blog carnival. We’re telling the world exactly who we are. We’re breaking down stigmas and kicking ass. Mental illness isn’t a death sentence.
Mental illness is a part of who we are. There’s no shame in being who we are. We should celebrate our flaws, embrace our differences and accept them.
It’s time to put a face to as many mental illnesses as we can.
Because stigmas? Stigmas are bullshit.
Please, I beg you Pranksters, help me kick stigmas squarely in the balls (or taco).
You can join us by posting on your own blog and linking up to Band Back Together (that’s the master link-up post) or you can write about it on Band Back Together. (Or both) Time to break down stigmas.
I am proud to be the face of PTSD.