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I’m not very good at relaxing. Those who know me best are sitting at their computers, nodding vehemently while (perhaps) shouting, “No shit, dumbass.” Even if I win at life*, I suck at relaxing.

When my life gets stressful, like it has been for the past few months, instead of doing the smart thing and taking a nice bath** or zoning out and watching some reruns of The Girls Next Door, I work. More. I take on more projects. I buy diseased plants from the nursery just to prove to myself that I can rehabilitate them. I add more pressure. When I feel that pressure? I add even more.

I actually DO own this orchid – and dozens more like it. They’re blooming right now. It’s gorgeous.

It’s a vicious cycle. It’s also how I get so much done.

Until I hit That Point. The point at which I realize I have so much on my plate that it’s going to smother me while I sleep like that pink goo from Ghostbusters II if I don’t watch out.

(I don’t imagine my pressure goo actually dances to that (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher song – I imagine my goo is into either thrash metal or Burt Bacharach or both)

It’s now the time of year in Chicago in which dead people vote, roads begin to get worked on, and everyone slithers out from their houses, all pasty, sluglike and squinting into the sun. We’ve not been outside unless it’s on the way to or from the car for the better part of four months, even after a winter as mild as the one we just had. We’re all a deathly shade of what I like to call, “Midwestern Pallor,” and we’ve, of course, forgotten how to be neighborly. After all, we’ve been hiding in our houses for months now – we’re just as likely to try to gnaw on our neighbors as we are to invite them for a BBQ. Our social skills have gone down the shitter.

But this weekend was one of the first genuinely nice weekends we’ve had in months that I didn’t feel like I was going to die from the flu or whatever. It was 80 degrees and sunny, though the chance for thunderstorms loomed large, they didn’t happen until nightfall.

I strapped on my ugly gauchos and an ill-fitting tank-top, noting my particular pallor was even more pronounced than normal, as I prepared to Tackle The Garden. If you’re read my blog before you will know two, maybe three things:

1) I love to garden. I also love hotdogs, the color blue, and Tom Jones.

B) The people who first owned the house went all bush-wild and added a fuckton of professionally landscaped – yet hideously fug 70′s style bushes. No, not vaginas. Although everything WAS a bush back then. The people who I bought the house from had let it all go to shit, so I’ve spent the better part of two kids and four years trying to hack the garden into submission.

3) I consider proper punctuation bullshit.

For the better part of two days, The Guy on my Couch and I tackled the garden. Mulching, seeding the lawn, bagging up refuse, watering, pulling weeds, training roses (sadly, not to shake or speak).

It was the best, most stress-relieving thing I’ve done in months. I’m reminded again of how much I need balance in my life. How much I need to stop, smell (or spray) the roses. How much better I feel after a good solid day’s worth of solid hard labor. How I need to remember that not everything is such! serious! business!

How I need to stop pushing and learn to breathe.

Just breathe.

*I don’t.

**No, I’m not 800 years old, I just know the value of a good bath. Oh shut your whore mouth :)

I’ve been waiting nearly eleven years for this moment. Eleven long, painful, humiliating years.

Ever since the doctor said, “you have a fourth degree tear,” in the delivery room as my firstborn son screamed and howled indignantly in the bassinet while I screamed and howled in the bed as the doctor began the slow and painful process of patching up my poor battered vagina.

(hear that? It’s the sound of my male readership quickly clicking away)

(it’s safe to come back now, guys, no more vagina talk)

My vagina healed* and my child, well, he continued to howl indignantly. Days and nights I spent bouncing, rocking, driving, singing, crying, all to no avail. Born with his days and nights mixed up, I spent a good 2 months up all night AND all day, so bleary and sleep-deprived that I walked into MORE walls than normal. I began to believe that my bed was a shimmering mirage, a figment of my addled imagination.

During those long days and nights, I fantasized about the ways I’d pay the kid back. Naked baby pictures festively on display in our hallway so I could show his one-day girlfriends (or boyfriends). Wedding speeches about how he used to poo in the tub and throw it out. Ways I could torture him when he decided – as all kids do – that I was the most annoying person in the world because OMG MOM, DO YOU HAVE TO BREATHE LIKE THAT?

We’ve finally hit the point in which everything from the way I chew to the way I walk is cause for embarrassment. HOW DARE YOU WALK LIKE THAT, MOM? YOU BRING SHAME UPON OUR HOUSE.

It’s pretty awesome – the kid has NO idea who he’s messing with. I’m not hurt or angry, no, I’m just ready to enact my revenge upon him. I mean, who takes issue with the way someone swallows?*

Yesterday, as I was scouring the Internet for the best (worst) picture of Lil Wayne, I got a phone call from his school. My heart sunk. We’ve got Plague House going on right now and the very last thing I feel like doing is managing ANOTHER sick person.

It was the secretary:

“Hi Miss Harks, I just spoke to the lunch lady.”

My heart thudded in my chest – what had the kid done? I LOVE the lunch ladies more than I love Equal, Orange Hostess Cuppy Cakes and my roses put together.

“And he’s got a balance on his school meals card that needs to be paid before we can feed him.”

Oh really? Way to tell me, kiddo.

“So if you want to drop off a check in the next 45 minutes, that would be great.”

I agreed to swing by, knowing that my kid would have a meltdown of the nuclear variety if he had to eat a cheese sandwich rather than whatever delicious hot-lunch items were offered. (I’ve tried to inform him that there are starving people in Africa who’d LOVE his cheese sandwich, but he just rolls his eyes at me. I think I may use the Sarah McLauchlan commercial to really drive the point home that his life? Not really so bad.)

I’m weeping just THINKING about it.

After I agreed to drop some cash off for the kid, I got ready to go. Before I walked out the door, I looked down at what I was wearing – black stretchy gauchos, ugly sweater slippers, and my pink Shut Your Whore Mouth (that’s a link to the shirts if you want one because obviously you do) shirt.

Did I dare?

Was it time?

Was THIS the moment I’d been waiting for?

Was I ready to enact my revenge upon the kid by showing up at school dressed like a schizophrenic off her meds?

Oh, it was tempting all right. I very nearly did.

But I remembered what it was like to be a kid and how annoying your parents are and how much worse I could make things if I showed up like that and made a grand show of kissing my kid on the cheek. So I changed into a boring blue shirt and jeans – the sweater boots stayed.

Besides, I’m waiting for the day that I actually own bunny slippers and can manage to put rollers in my hair. These teen years are going to be AWESOME.

*except that. Oops.

*my kid

————

Also: you should go comment here on my Savings.com post. Why? Because obviously.

Also also: you can read me here. The comments are breathtakingly horrible. Just – FYI.

I was standing there in line at The Target (also known as: my social life), daydreaming about rolling around in a pile of Equal when the cashier asked, “Ma’am, can I see your ID?”

I preened, flattered by this request.

“SURE, you can,” I smiled coyly at the kid behind the counter, not stopping to think for a second about it. Still in my fantasy world where Equal rained from the heavens, I hadn’t even begun to process WHY he’d be asking me for identification – I wasn’t writing a check. I didn’t have any booze. I didn’t even have a carton of smokes or anything. Still I smiled as I handed him my driver’s license.

He looked at me, a little aghast as he scanned my driver’s license, “It’s for the Nyquil,” he informed me.

My jaw dropped open as I did my best trout impression.

Robotripping (drinking the shit out of Dextromethorphan) had become popular just as I delivered my first son. I felt psychedelically wasted from lack of sleep – the last thing I wanted to try was to drink a couple bottles of cough syrup. I’d be more likely to vomit before I got high – that shit tastes like Satan’s Bunghole (unlike Equal, which tastes like the nectar of the Gods).

But I had friends who did it. And I was old enough to be all, *eye roll* “that’s lame.” Because it is. If you want to get wasted, you don’t drink 6 bottles of cough syrup – you drink a Bourbon + Vicodin Tonic. EVERYONE knows that.

A few kids later, I heard about sizzurp, thanks to my favorite rapper*, Lil Wayne.

I petitioned the Stop Medication Abuse board to use Lil Wayne’s picture in place of a warning: “possible side effects may include becoming Lil Wayne.” But so far, no luck.

And I will neatly sidebar into this: I have been doing amazingly well on my New Year’s resolution: do not become Lil Wayne. I wake up each morning and am STILL not Lil Wayne. I make the best resolutions ever.

But last night, as I was making out with my bottle of Nyquil because I couldn’t stand being up another night of having “Afternoon Delight” playing on repeat in my head and I saw it: another warning about medication abuse.

So rather than spend the night trying to gouge out my eyeballs with my fingernails to the soothing sounds of Starland Vocal Band, I instead laid awake for three and a half minutes (until the Nyqyil kicked in), trying to figure out how the shit kids could drink Nyquil and not go the fuck to sleep.

Like “HEY GUYS, LET’S GET WASTED ON SOME GREEN DEATH FLAVORED NYQUIL – THIS SHIT IS INTENSE.”

*ten minutes later*

“Zzzzzzzzzzzz.”

*eight hours later*

“Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

*twelve hours later*

“Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

*sixteen hours later*

“Fuck, my mouth tastes like a squirrel shit in it. That was one hell of a party. What the fuck day is it?”

Although, now that I think on it, throw in some adult diapers and that DOES sound like my kinda party.

*total lie

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