When people used to say things like, “Oh, I can’t WAIT for the fall TV lineup,” or “I have EVERY NIGHT’S TELEVISION SCHEDULE COLOR-CODED and in a GRAPH!” I’d do one of two things:
1) Wonder what a chart of pies would look like (rather than a pie chart).
B) Seethe in jealousy because WHO HAS THAT KIND OF TIME?
(answer: not me).
I started getting into watching television when I was pregnant with Alex, and everything – including the ice maker making ice slowly made me vomit, then cry, then vomit again. Dick Wolf lured me in Law and Order: Their Life Is Worse Than Yours So Suck It Up, Cupcake because, well, no matter what time of day it was, there were at least three episodes currently playing.
(when, much later, I got a DVR and tried to record some of the Law and Order: Fuck You And Your First World Problems, it wheezed, groaned, then laughed at me before refusing to record anything Dick Wolf ever created)
(sidebar: I cannot decide if Dick Wolf is the world’s perfect name or the world’s worst name. Either way, he’s a brilliant, brilliant man who should probably pull an Oprah and have his own television channel)
Eventually, I watched most of Law and Order: Being Out of Seasalt Is Not The End Of The World, and realized I needed another distraction, some way to turn my brain off from 11 to a nice solid 4. And, based upon what my friends were saying, I should try this House, MD thing.
It was there, through medical jargon I so desperately missed, that I found someone like me; someone who wasn’t perfect. Someone who had issues and bad hair days and wasn’t glitz and glam – someone who was broken.
Someone who was broken.
Someone who was broken like me.
House made it okay for those of us just left of center, those of us who are fragmented, those of us who fight to be normal, to be, well, who we are. House made it okay to use biting humor to mask my feelings because, well, some things are easier said while dripping with sarcasm.
He made it okay to be an antihero.
He gave me the strength to write things like this, things I’ve never before said aloud because they seemed too scary, too real, like if I gave them the airplay, my life might implode.
I’ve watched him painfully go through rehab, recovery. I’ve watched as he lost his mind, then found it again. I’ve watched him be brilliant and I’ve watched him as he fails. I’ve found myself crying, nodding because there was finally someone out there who was just like me. Maybe – just maybe – I wasn’t alone.
Tonight, House, MD, will run it’s finale.
Before I watch it, box of tissues in hand, I wanted to say thank you, to you, the brilliant writers of House, MD, for giving me a character who has helped me confront my demons. Who made it okay to be broken. Who made it okay to be weak. Who reminded me to keep taking that one step forward.
Who made it okay to be me.
One of the first things I did after we bought our house was lay down on the then-only-slightly-dingy-white (WHITE!) carpet and make a carpet angel. Because, well, OBVIOUSLY. Also: we’d gone from living in the three-bedroom equivalent of a dorm room into a house that had three floors. Like I could be in one room? And Daver could be in another? And we couldn’t hear each other.
(unless, of course, Daver was chewing, in which case, the squirrels in Siberia heard him)
It was beyond weird.
One of the second things I did was try frantically to make a baby (sorry for making you want to scrub your brain). For someone who got pregnant while on birth control just by being in the same room with a dude, I expected it to *ahem* be easier.
Eventually I got knocked up with Alex and 9 excruciating months full of prepartum depression and lumbering about like a sea lion in maternity clothes later, he was born.
Hit your fast-forward button past the part where Alex looked like a garden gnome, his obsession with boobs, past the tremendous thyroid crash, past the near-nervous-breakdown, past the part where he wouldn’t let anyone but me hold him without shrieking, past the not-sleeping, past the insomnia and postpartum depression. Then go past the part where my friend of many years dies of cirrhosis at age 24 (or 25) and you’ll be caught up to Alex’s first birthday.
Or you can skip the words and just look closely at this picture to know all you needed to know about that year.
Anyway, when I told people I’d “planned to have another” I meant, “I’d planned to have another since I’ve been living in some sort of vaguely adorable hell and if I go too far from it, I’ll never go back.” They shook their head in disbelief – that is the kind of baby Alex was.
(thankfully, he’s merely grown into a maniacal mastermind who dresses up in butterfly costumes and watches My Little Pony)
A couple of days after Alex’s first birthday, once he’d finally decided that other people were not, in fact, Satan, I was out in the back yard, working in the garden I’d already painstakingly removed all traces of fake plants from (except, however, the petals, which I still, from time to time, find lurking in random places as a lil “Fuck You” from the previous owners, but I digress).
I realized, as I was sitting there, knee deep in dirt and mud, that I couldn’t actually recall the last time I’d had a period. Considering I hadn’t slept a full night in a year, I also didn’t know where my pants were and had just, upon waking one morning, poured an entire pot of scalding coffee on my hand before registering “FUCKING OW.”
I got up, left the kids out back with Daver, and went upstairs in search of an ancient pregnancy test. I’d had to stock up on them while we were TTC and had one leftover. One ancient test.
I bathed it in my urine, alone for once, quiet in the bathroom
Two lines popped up. The first – the “YOU’RE PREGNANT ASSHOLE” – line was there, but it was kinda…smeary.
Whatever, I said to myself (likely out loud, because I was that far gone). A line is a motherfucking line. Guess I’m having another baby!
I proudly brought my pee-covered stick outside to show Daver who had no idea what I’d been doing. “THERE,” I said, happily. “We’re having another baby!”
We did the happy dance for a second before returning to our children who were mucking around the backyard together.
The following morning, I woke up and, upon wiping, saw blood. Lots of it.
Okay, I figured, prolly a chemical pregnancy. That sucks.
I called my OB to make an appointment with the doctor to get my shot of Rho-Gam and make sure my beta was going down properly. He comforted me, I remember that, by saying that “sometimes these things do happen.” And while I was a little sad, I’ve known WAYYYY to many baby loss mamas for me to be sad about a bundle of cells that were never meant to be.
I called Daver at work and informed him that I’d lost the baby. We were both a little sad, but not like, prostrate (or prostate) with grief.
Until the next month.
When I got pregnant again.
The line was fainter, but, I told myself, it was still a line and hey, I’ve been drinking lots of water and shit, and well, LINE!
Two days after THAT positive pregnancy test, I began to bleed. Another chemical pregnancy.
I tried to comfort myself, but it didn’t work. I’d lost a lot in the previous year and, well, I’d really wanted that baby. I curled up on my couch and wept. And continued weeping until the hormones went back to normal. Dave just looked at me, unsure of what to do.
I did the only thing I could think to do – I went and bought roses. I come from a long line of rose growers, so I figured it was in my genetics.
Two climbing roses, I got that day at the greenhouse, 4 years ago. I didn’t know shit about climbing roses, besides that they prolly had spidey-sense and could be all, I WILL GROW ON TALL BUILDINGS WITHOUT TRAINING.
I was wrong.
Turns out? You have to train the fuckers. Like the puppy I’d gotten who, rather than comfort me in my grief, ate his own vomit, then puked it out on the carpet.
By this time? I was pregnant again. With my daughter. And when I began to spot around six weeks, I was placed on activity restriction. So my roses languished.
They languished again the following year, when I was coping with PTSD. The year after that, I tried, but barely managed to keep them “trained.”
This year, though, I have some help in the garden.
(not actually my garden. But my actual children)
I fucked up this year. When I was all, “Imma be proactive and shit, but not like John C. Mayer because I don’t have acne,” I got out all my chemicals and sprayed the bejesus outta the climbing roses, who have been fighting with black-spot for years.
Then, in an odd twist, we have a sudden cold snap. Guess what happened with the roses?
Oh yeah, their leaves were all, “Fuck this noise.”
So I was all, “Fuck me gently with a pickax – I’m never gonna be proactive again.” Then I kicked myself and thought about bacne for awhile.
I’ve spent the better part of several weeks removing the unhappy leaves from each of the roses. For normal roses, of which I have a kajillion, there are like 20 leaves. Maybe 100. I don’t know. Climbing roses, though, are a different story.
I can’t count past twenty, but I think it has more than 100 leaves. And half of them have had to go. Painstaking, but true.
I’ve been removing dead shit like a motherfucker. And yesterday? I fought the rose.
The rose won.
(Scene: Aunt Becky, outside, underneath the rosebed, cursing my climbing roses, my lack of gardening gloves, the cats for peeing on my last nice set of gloves, and the stupid privacy screen for holding onto the fungus that causes black spot. The voices of little children can be heard in the background.)
Aunt Becky (fantasizing) “Grumble, grumble, I’ll fucking turn this cat into a fucking pair of slippers for pissing on my gloves.”
Alex, Age 5, (swoops over and plops on a tiny blue child-sized chair): “Mama, I’m bored.”
Aunt Becky: “Go play with Mark Zuckerberg.” (points at the peacock statue under the tree).
Aunt Becky (mutters): “Need to get some statues of the Brothers Winklevii. Flamingos? Gnomes? MOTHERFUCKING BUTTERFLIES?”
Alex (still sitting in the chair, grumbling): “Nah, that’s boring. I wanna swing.”
Aunt Becky: “Wait your turn, J.”
Alex (begins to smile broadly): “Hahahahahaah! Ben* peed in the yard!”
Aunt Becky (turns head in Exorcist-type fashion): “Whaaaaat?”
Alex (laughing so hard he can barely breathe): “Yep. He peed on the swing!”
Aunt Becky (recalling a similar incident several days prior): “BEN – GET OVER HERE NOW.”
Alex (giggling manically- scatological humor is, apparently, genetic): “He just whipped his penis out and started peeing!)
Aunt Becky (Furious George – about to throw down)
Ben (wanders over and looks down at me, under the rosebush, clearly confused): “What’s up, Mom?”
Aunt Becky (teeth gritted): “Did you pee in the yard – AGAIN?”
Ben (confused look): “No?”
Aunt Becky (knowing this child conveniently “forgets” things he’s done unless I’m particularly specific with him): “Your brother just said you did.“
Ben (still confused): “I did NOT! He’s lying!”
Aunt Becky (looks around for Alex for confirmation – does not see him in the chair): “Whaaaa?”
Ben: “ALEX, YOU STOLE MY SWING!”
Alex (laughing so hard he can barely speak): “I. stole. your. swing!” (erupts into gales of laughter)
Aunt Becky (secretly high-fiving the kid for being so cunning): “Alex - we don’t lie. Off the swings, both of you!”
Ben and Alex scamper off to play in the tree house that is not yet, in fact, a panic room ***.
Aunt Becky (beaming quietly with maternal pride as she goes back to her roses): “Atta boy.”
*my son, not the Guy On My Couch**
***I have plans – GRAND plans for a panic room in my treehouse.