Miscarriage: The gift that keeps on giving

by Monica Jones


A week after the miscarriage, everything seemed to be better. The bleeding had tailed off, and I was feeling much like my old badass self. 

I say this to explain why I was moving heavy rocks from one side of the yard to the other in an effort to deal with the erosion all this rain has caused. 

That night, I started to bleed again, just as heavy as the previous week but a lot more painful.

I wonder whether this was the day I finally ejected the Embryo That Just Wouldn't Let Go, but it's hard to say. It's difficult to separate all that gunk from all that other gunk when you're flushing it down the toilet like a goldfish. 

Anyway, I was supremely glad I hadn't traded that Percocet prescription for cash when I experienced two hours of contractions and bled like a geyser. 

If geysers fired off blood instead of hot water and steam.

You know what I mean. 

Devon wanted to go back to the ER, especially after I passed out again.

Shut up. Brushing your teeth is hard work.

But the nurse-midwife we called suggested I put some ice packs on my abdomen and stay home if everything else was generally OK. Devon woke up every half hour to make sure I wasn't dead because he was sleep deprived already and sort of crazy. 

I think he likes me. 

I was better again the next day, and we tentatively looked forward to a weekend in which I didn't ruin all the towels. 

Six weeks later I felt fine, but I was still bleeding. Turns out the Embryo That Just Wouldn't Let Go still wasn't done. I scheduled the D&C (a minor surgery where they go in and remove all the dead-baby bits) for this past week, and everything seems to have gone fine. 

Twilight anesthesia is the weirdest thing. I was in the operating room for about 40 minutes, during which I was placed in stirrups, probably had conversations and might have even made cocktails. I have no idea because I remember none of it.

I'm not complaining. 

I feel good and am hopeful that this miscarriage is finally over. I'll go back in two weeks for a follow-up to make sure.  We're both ready to be done with this.


June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month

by Monica Jones


If you don't know anyone with Alzheimer's, you will soon: 5.3 million Americans are currently living with this illness. 

If you know anyone who has Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, you know how much it sucks. Unlike cancer, which will merely kill you (albeit terribly), Alzheimer's will strip you of everything you are before it kills you. There is no cure, and the few treatments that do exist can, at best, slow the illness briefly. 

If you know someone who is struggling with unusual memory loss or personality changes, encourage him or her to see a doctor. Serious cognitive impairment isn't a normal part of aging. It doesn't always indicate dementia, though. Sometimes memory loss is the result of depression, anxiety, nutritional deficiencies or other, treatable, problems. If it is dementia, early diagnosis can help your loved one get early treatment and allow your family to plan for the future. 

If you're looking for a good cause, I will be walking in the Alzheimer's Association's Walk to End Alzheimer's in September. The walk is raising money for treatment, education, research and patient care, and it's important. 

Thanks to the help of many amazing people, I have already rasied $1180. Every dollar counts. Thank you.   


Diary of a miscarriage (aka, How I Am Just Like Elvis)

by Monica Jones


If I’m honest with myself, I knew the baby was dead as soon as I saw the ultrasound image. With my daughter, now 2 years old, the heartbeat was fast and obvious.

This time, all was still.

The technician noted that the baby was measuring 8 weeks. It should have been 12 weeks.

Devon asked whether that was bad. I think he knew, too, but we were both hoping for a different answer.

I cried when she said the words out loud.

The doctor came in, and we shifted from talk of genetic testing to how I wanted to proceed with the miscarriage. Clearly, my body wasn’t taking care of business on its own. We could have waited it out. Another option was dilation and curettage (D&C), a minor surgical procedure that empties the uterus of what they call “products of conception.”

That sounds neater than “rotting embryo corpse,” I guess.

This wasn’t our first miscarriage. We lost the first one, before Aurelia, at 6 weeks. We barely knew I was pregnant before I suddenly wasn’t, and the miscarriage was obvious. I started to bleed, and then it was over. I got pregnant again three months later, and it was as easy as pregnancies go. I delivered via c-section after 52 hours of labor (seriously), and we all moved on.

I got pregnant this time after two months of trying, and we assumed the best. I felt great. I had minor discomforts that were abating as I inched toward my second trimester, just like with Aurelia.

It felt like a mean trick. Miscarriages should happen right away, not leave you planning nursery colors while you carry around a dead baby for as long as a month.

I opted to take medication to induce the miscarriage. My first miscarriage wasn’t all that painful, and I would take my chances.

I had been planning a solo weekend trip to the mountains before we got the news. We decided to make it a family trip, and I would take the meds when we got back.

The weekend was bittersweet. Devon and I were sad, but we are almost sociopathically pragmatic. We have a great daughter, and we have each other. We would no longer be welcoming a Christmas baby, but we could try again. If we never had another, that would be OK too. We’re good at rolling with change, and life is too precious to dwell on such disappointments.

And I cried again, because fuck it, I’d had two glasses of wine and I could if I wanted to.  

After the wine and more conversation, Devon and I retired to bed to tell dead-baby jokes.

We aren’t right in the head.

I’m wandering into controversial territory calling it a “baby.” If you backed me into a pro-choice corner, I wouldn’t use that word. It was an embryo. It never even made it to the fetal stage. It was small enough to slip away unnoticed in the blood I dropped in my toilet.

I’m not mourning a person. I’m mourning the empty double stroller that existed in my head. But I will keep calling it a baby because the baby that existed in my head was real enough to me.

When we got back from our trip, I took a dose of misoprostol, according to my midwife’s instructions. It was time to get this over with.

I popped some Tylenol and waited. Two hours later, at 5 pm, I started to bleed. It was a light flow and not all that painful, so I left the Percocet untouched. By 11 pm the flow was heavier but still not very painful.

I went to bed.

I woke up at 1:30 am dizzy, nauseated and soaking wet. Devon is better at relaying the next few minutes because my memory is sketchy. I sat on the toilet and gushed what felt like a keg of blood out of my hoo-ha. Then I woke up face down on the tile with my underwear around my knees.

I passed out on the toilet! I was a rockstar!

I had that thought much later. In the moment, I remember Devon yelling at me. He sounded pissed. In hindsight, he probably wasn’t pissed.

Then I woke up again, this time lying on my back. I wondered whether he would just let me sleep there, because the tile was nice. I liked the tile.

We went back and forth over whether I should go to the emergency room. I didn’t want to go, but it’s hard to convey authority when you can’t stand up, and Devon was like, “Bitch, please.” So I contemplated shimmying down the stairs on my butt to get to the car, but it quickly became obvious that I was having terrible ideas.

Devon called 911, and I sat cross-legged on the carpet in my blood-soaked underwear and his Game of Thrones t-shirt. I focused on sensory experiences: the towel pressed against my thighs, the street light filtering through the window, Devon’s voice talking to the dispatcher, Aurelia calling to me from her crib.

I’m grateful she couldn’t see the bathroom from her room.

Two paramedics arrived quickly. By then I was able to walk down the stairs with some help, so I got into the ambulance with no further drama. One paramedic set me up with a saline IV and some oxygen. Devon followed in the car with Aurelia.

We waited in the ER for several hours. I sang songs to Aurelia to pass the time. We talked. We played with our phones. Time passed slowly. I felt a little ridiculous for being there. I was feeling much better.

I realized I’d forgotten my shoes. At least the paramedics had reminded me to bring pants. Thanks, guys!

I went through the expected gamut of tests: ultrasound, ekg, pelvic exam, blood tests. I was clotting well, and, while I was still bleeding heavily, it was within the normal limits of what you’d expect for a miscarriage. It wasn’t entirely clear why I hit the tile, but I was fine now, and they were sending me home. The ER doctor gave me a prescription for Vicodin that I added to the Percocet that I never took.

Despite the fireworks, this was proving to be the most painless miscarriage ever.

We got home at about 5 am. While Devon put Aurelia back in her crib, I cleaned the blood off the bathroom tile, covered the blood-soaked sheets with a clean towel and fell asleep.

I spent the next day tired and sometimes dizzy, but there was no more drama, and by the following day I was mostly back to my old self.

The concept of “normal” is a strange one. Aurelia still needs to eat breakfast and dump marbles all over the floor. Devon has gone back to work, back to what normal is for him. We lost a baby, and I scared the piss out of him, and a day later everything was pretty much as it was before.

So it goes.

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Please comment and share!

 


Gamer chat logs of the rich and famous

by Monica Jones


Donna: Can we play "Kill the Jedi" tomorrow?
Me: Indeed. Jedi MUST DIE!
Donna: They've been safe for, like, 4 weeks. They've had time to build up their goody-two-shoe battle plan. 
Me: We'll have to kill four times as many. 
Donna: They must be squished! Peace is a lie! There is only passion!
Me: And cake. There is also cake. 
Donna: More cake than anyone could eat, 'cause that's just how we roll in the Sith Empire. 
Me: The Jedi are all, "Cake in moderation! Moderation!" While they are moderating, we are eating their cake. 
Donna: Pussies. 
 


You suck at everything

by Monica Jones


If you’re like most parents, you have a sneaking suspicion that you suck at everything. That’s because you do. Without the media, you wouldn’t even be aware of all the ways in which you are crushing your child’s dreams.

It’s not entirely your fault. Your parents sucked at everything, too -- and their parents before them. You come from a long line of incompetent breeders.

But there's hope. Your parents and grandparents didn’t have the Internet to set them straight. I’m here to tell you all the things you’re doing wrong so you can try to suck less.

 

Feeding your kids every day

Humans can survive for more than three weeks without food. Mahatma Gandhi, at 74 years old,  survived 21 days of total starvation.  

Is your kid better than Gandhi? I didn’t think so.

Gandhi: Better than your kid since 1869

Gandhi: Better than your kid since 1869

Feeding your kids every day is like burning money -- money you could be using to fund your whiskey habit, or, if you must, a college fund. The other benefit: If you stunt their growth, clothes and shoes last longer. And everyone loves a tiny kid. Just ask Gary Coleman.

When it comes to finances, play the long game.   

 

Letting your kids out of your sight, ever

Science has proven that there’s a pedophile behind every tree. Look outside your window now. You see that tree? There’s a kiddie diddler standing behind it right now just waiting for you to blink.

Pedo Bear wants to meet your middle-schooler. 

Pedo Bear wants to meet your middle-schooler. 

I know what you’re thinking: You already drive your daughter the half block to school, attend all playdates and birthday parties, and witnessed your 16-year-old son lose his virginity. (You let them cover themselves with a blanket. You’re not a pervert.) What more can you do?

I bet you’re getting some sleep at night, aren’t you? Are you some kind of stupid?  In 2002, a 14-year-old girl named Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her very own bedroom in the wee hours of the morning.

This happened in Utah, not in some God-forsaken place like New York City, where people live when they WANT their children to be kidnapped by hobos.  

This nightmare could have been prevented had her parents sacrificed the luxury of sleep.

If you have kids in multiple rooms, forget about taking shifts. One of you must be with them at all times. If you’re a single parent or have kids spread across more than two rooms, hire help, but not until your night nanny has submitted to a full background check and urine analysis.

Don’t make children if you don’t want to take care of them, people.   

 

Sending your kids to school

We all know that kids are terrible creatures, and when you put them together in large groups, exponentially terrible things happen, like bullying and dodgeball and Katy Perry. Enrolling your kids in school will kickstart their inevitable decline toward meth addiction, because literally every school in America has failed our children. Even $10,000-a-year pre-schools are just holding pens where our spawn grow ever fatter and more unthinking, like sheep being led to the slaughter.

Yummy, yummy slaughter.

Mmmm. Lamb.

Your baby. 

Your baby. 

Homeschooling

All of this might make a person think, “I know! Homeschooling is the answer!” But it isn’t. Folks, homeschooling is never the answer -- unless your answer involves turning your kids into emotionally, socially and academically crippled right-wing fundie nutjobs. How can your son learn his place in the pecking order if he doesn’t get beaten into a stringy pulp by his betters? How can your daughter learn to cope with embarrassment if that menstrual mishap in her white jeans doesn’t make it all over Instagram?

So if we can’t send them to school and we can’t educate them at home, what’s a correct-thinking parent to do?

Simple: Educate your kids in the school of hard knocks, like our grandparents.

Is your kid better than your grandfather, who killed Nazis with his bare hands before settling down to a life of farming and taming wild beasts with his manly glare? I didn’t think so.

The only thing you have to fear is this guy. 

The only thing you have to fear is this guy. 

Don’t be a pussy. Patriotism and hard work are all you need.


I am the mom on her cell phone at the playground, and I’m not sorry

by Monica Jones


I know what you’re thinking. You’re filled with pity for me and my toddler because I’m tooling around on Facebook while she plays by herself. If only I understood how precious and fleeting childhood is, I wouldn’t be chatting online while these irretrievable grains of sand slip through my fingers.

You think my daughter is bereft of love and affection based on this brief snapshot of our lives. You imagine her gazing longingly at other families and wondering how her life might have been.

You think I shouldn’t have had a child if I can’t tear myself away from my electronic binky for five minutes.

Some of the more brain-damaged among you think my daughter would be better off in foster care, where her risks of true neglect and abuse would skyrocket, than to have a mother who doesn’t gaze adoringly at her as she goes down the slide for the 47th time.

I know what you’re thinking because you can’t stop talking about it on Facebook.

I don’t claim to be intervening in a friend’s personal crisis or answering an important email about a dying relative. Sometimes I am doing those things, but not today. Today I am looking at funny pictures of cats.

These pictures are hilarious. Seriously, you’re missing out.

I am also keeping half of my brain on my daughter, because, frankly, looking at photos of cats doesn’t take that much attention. I am paying enough attention to notice her get pushed down by some bigger girls, and I intervene. Their father is not on his cell phone, yet he doesn’t notice his kids picking a fight with a baby. I’m told only parents on phones are so easily distracted, so I’m not sure how this is possible. I go back to my cats when she is off examining wood chips, because she doesn’t need me for that. 

I am a stay-at-home mom. Aside from mooching off my husband’s talents and sitting around on my expanding arse all day, I spend a lot of time interacting with my daughter. We nurse in the morning. She is 2 years old and still nursing, which is no doubt scarring her for life in its own way. I make her breakfast and we play. She helps put the clothes in the dryer. We go to the grocery store, and she puts the food on the conveyor belt. We take a toddler class at the rec center. She helps me cook. She helps me recover from all of her helping.

In short, my toddler is surgically attached to my backside 11 hours a day, 7 days a week. During the brief snippets of time in which she is content to be on her own, I am delighted to be doing something the fuck else. 

I accept that this period of our lives will pass, to be replaced by something else. She will morph from a toddler into a pre-schooler, into a big kid, into a teenager, and finally into a woman, and I will miss every stage even as I embrace the new one. I will not, however, get sucked into pre-emptive mourning. Living in the moment doesn’t mean grasping desperately at those moments, trying to capture them like fireflies in a mason jar.

I also accept that you are a better parent than I am in every way. Your capacity to love is unmatched. Your child will grow up to be attractive, smart, affectionate, successful and good at shuffleboard. The best I can hope for my daughter is that her father’s love will compensate for my failings enough to keep her from a life of prostitution and simmering rage.

Please pray for us.


Grocery shopping isn't for the weak

by Monica Jones


If you have a toddler, or have ever had a toddler, you know trips to the grocery store are the stuff of nightmares. Not Friday the 13th-style nightmares. I mean the kind of nightmare where you are slowly being eaten alive.

By leeches.

Leeches playing the recorder.

Below is a rundown of how this mundane part of my life has changed since that fateful day I gave birth to a pint-sized sociopath.

 

Pre-toddler:

1.       Drive or walk to the store.

2.       Stroll the aisles leisurely, checking produce for freshness and reading nutrition labels.

3.       Linger over the cheese selection, trying to decide whether I want to splurge on a small chunk of high-quality bleu cheese.

4.       Pay for my groceries using the coupons I clipped.

5.       Drive or walk home with a song in my heart.

6.       Put away my groceries and move on with my day.

 

Post-toddler:

1.       Spend 10 minutes looking for her shoes. Find one boot. Decide shoes are overrated and put on her socks.  

2.       Wrestle toddler into the car seat with promises that we will go to the playground later. I know I am lying. It’s raining and cold, and I might never find her shoes again.  

3.       Drive to the store.

4.       Find her socks somewhere between the seats and put them back on her feet.

5.       Race up and down the produce section checking items off a list that somehow got soggy in my purse. I don’t even want to know.

6.       Listen to toddler repeat a billion times the names of all the food she sees. Assure her a billion and one times that she can eat a banana when she gets home.

7.       Correct her repeatedly for trying to open the strawberries. Finally have enough of her shit and put the strawberries on the shelf under the cart.

8.       Get halfway down the meat aisle when she says she has to pee.

9.       Walk to the other end of the store, help her go to the bathroom, then resume shopping.

10.   Get back to where I left off when she says she has to pee again. Repeat step 8. Discover she doesn’t really have to go.

11.   Get back to where I left off when she announces she has to pee again. Decide I’d rather scrape shit off of her pants than walk back to the bathroom one more time. I am not leaving this aisle without bacon.

12.   Walk up and down a few aisles, informing her that we do not need every last thing that looks appealing to her. Keep her from eating everything in the cart. Grab the things I need, barely glancing at prices, and not at all at nutrition labels. I could be spending $25 on a package of hamburger rolls made of cancer. I just don’t care.

13.    Surprise, surprise. She needs to pee again. It’s been long enough now that I decide to take her.

14.   Joke’s on me: She doesn’t really need to pee.

15.   Listen to incessant whining about all the food she wants to eat right now, knowing she won’t touch it once we get home. Illicit food is the best food.

16.   About to get on line when she announces she has to pee again. Since we are getting in the car soon, I take her. To no one’s surprise, she does not really need to pee.

17.   Pay for my groceries quickly, pleased I didn’t misplace the rewards card or accidentally steal the strawberries still under the cart. This is as good as it gets for me.

18.   Wrangle all produce and living creatures into the car and drive home. Listen to toddler repeat the word “walk” over and over until my ears bleed.

19.   Sing the ABCs song. It’s the song I sing in lieu of the “shut the fuck up” song.  

20.   Get home. Find her socks somewhere between the seats and put them back on her feet.

21.   Toddler flips out because I won’t give her strawberries, as I will be making lunch in a few minutes. Give her a time out. Resume putting groceries away.  

22.   Toddler decides she wants her shirt off. I try to help her get it off, but she won’t let go of the sleeves. She both wants the shirt off and doesn’t want the shirt off. Finally I get it off.

23.   She says she has to pee again. I help her go to the potty. She does not really need to pee.

24.   Put away more groceries. Give her another time out for freaking out about not getting cookies.

25.   Toddler decides she wants her pants off. It’s naked-toddler Monday!

26.   She says she has to pee again. Surprisingly, she does.

27.   I give her another time out. It doesn’t matter what it’s for. I realize I’m just phoning it in. My soul is empty, but my pantry is full. 


Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Not literally tomorrow. Seriously, don't die tomorrow.

by Monica Jones


Sometimes I’m philosophical about death. I think of the circle of life, death making way for birth and all that. Flowers are born from seeds, and they die to be reborn as more flowers.

Not today. Today, fuck that kumbaya crap.  

I want my mother and father back. I’m looking at pictures of an uncle who died of cancer recently, and I want to hear his voice again. I saw him seven months ago. He wasn’t a healthy man then, but you’d  have been hard-pressed to tell by looking at him. I wasn’t there at the end, but I remember what mom looked like, so I can imagine it. I want them all back, and I want the new people, too, because I’m a greedball, and as long as I’m wishing, I’m going to wish big. I’m going to shake my tiny fist at the stupid poopy-headedness of it all, and then I’m going to put my fist down, because that’s a lot of shaking, and I don’t work out.  

Today, I don’t want to pretend this all ends well in some chick-flick way where we learn something valuable at the end and become better people for it. Mostly, it just sucks and you pack it away somewhere because there’s other shit to do. Then you write the narrative where you’re the hero of your own story, and you come out wiser and stronger for it, because we like endings that mean something.

I don’t believe in an afterlife. Not really. Sometimes I do, when it’s nice to stop missing people so much and just pretend. I can’t bring myself to pretend full-time, though. Religion would make this stuff easier, but once you’ve stopped believing in the Tooth Fairy, you can’t ever go back.  

I told Devon that he’s not allowed to die before me. The worst thing about my uncle’s funeral wasn’t saying goodbye to him: It was watching his wife, my aunt, cry beside his body, crushed under the weight of too many losses. With many of her siblings and her friends dead and her own advancing cancer, her world has gotten very small. Devon pointed out that, statistically, he is likely to die well before me. I told him that if he kept talking like that, he was going to die a lot sooner than he expected.

I’ll be fine tomorrow. Life is too short and precious to dwell infinitely on the inevitable end of it all. But today I am going to dwell. And probably drink wine. 


Are you having another baby?

by Monica Jones


I’m getting this question a lot these days. I like to think it’s because I’m such an awesome mother and not because my ass is starting to look like an inflatable tube. I don’t mind the question from friends because my friends want me to be happy, except for the ones who are secretly plotting my death, and I know who you assholes are, so it’s not such a secret anymore.

Getting the question from acquaintances is weirder. In my brain, it translates to, “Are you and your husband having lots of unprotected sex in the hopes of producing another human with half your genetic makeup?”

The short answer: Maybe. The longer answer: We’ll see.

In the interests of helping inquisitive strangers navigate this tricky question with other strangers, I’ve assembled some advice:

Don’t do it. Seriously, no good can come from asking someone you don’t know well whether she plans to breed.  

There are several possible answers.

1)      She is already pregnant and doesn’t want to tell anyone yet. If this is the case, then she is forced to lie to you. Don’t be pissy about it later.

2)      She is trying to get pregnant but doesn’t want to share this with the world. Maybe she just started trying, or maybe she’s been trying for years and would rather keep her private business private.

3)      She doesn’t want to kick-start the inevitable psychological onion-peeling that usually ensues when she tells people she doesn’t want more kids, or kids at all.

4)      She desperately wants a child and has endured a miscarriage, or several, in the attempt. In that case, good job yanking the scab off that wound, jerk.

5)      She’s a lesbian, and this question is complicated for her and her partner to answer.

6)      She doesn’t know, and she doesn’t need your help figuring it out.

7)      She had planned to tell you, but she forgot because she was so high on paint thinner that it slipped her mind. This possibility is slim. Very slim.  

I’m sure I missed a few.

Even if you DO know her well, she isn’t obligated to tell you. There is one exception: If you might be the baby’s parent, today or in the future, feel free to pry.

I know what some of you are thinking: “People are too damn sensitive these days, with all this politically correct nonsense. I was just being friendly.”

No, no you weren’t. You were being nosey. It has never been OK to ask a woman you barely know whether she plans to let a man ejaculate inside her. This has always been a dick move. (Ha ha! See what I did there?)

People are more open with their business now than they were before the Internet, and you’re taking advantage of that openness to ask questions that are none of your business.

My advice isn’t complicated: Unless you’re sure she won’t mind you asking, don’t ask. If you misjudged and she’s cagey about it, let it go. Just because you’re curious doesn’t mean she owes you an explanation.

Also: If you do ask and she blows you off, don’t act like she’s a frosty cunt for not opening her soul to some asshat she barely knows. 


I am, in fact, a paper cup.

by Monica Jones


In light of Leonard Nimoy's recent death, I went looking for "I Am Not Spock," a book Nimoy published in 1975. These were my search results. 

I decided not to buy the book. As much as I appreciate Nimoy's talents and am sorry he's gone, I wouldn't plunk down 60 bucks on my own autobiography. 


Potty training can kiss my chubby ass

by Monica Jones


You might be thinking, “What the hell, Dirty Hooker? You’ve been gone for nearly two years and you come back with that?”

Yeah. Sorry.

I had a baby and struggled to find anything interesting to say before I acknowledged what might have been obvious to y’all from the beginning: I was a vapid, mindless void. 

I didn’t have post-partum depression. I just had a two-year-long case of being fucking dull and unimaginative. That might still be the case, but I do want to write again, and a couple of people have asked me to. I’m a praise whore, and a cheap one at that.

I didn’t want to be a mommy blogger -- not because I have anything against mom blogs.  I read a bunch of blogs written by talented women with interesting ideas. I couldn’t imagine adding to the volume of information already out there in any meaningful way.

But I blog about what I live, and I am a stay-at-home mom now.  Of course, I’m other things, too. I read books and play video games and drink whiskey. But most of my day is defined by caring for a toddler (and drinking whiskey), so that’s what occupies most of my thoughts.

It’s a good life, just not a sexy one.

The other difficulty I face in writing is that my life is relatively free of conflict. My primary challenge involves listening to a small person repeat the word “apple” 6 billion times without selling her to hungry cannibal clowns. It’s a much different world from caring for my terminally ill parents, burying them, cutting off family members who made me miserable, getting laid off, and moving 1600 miles away.  Now I live in a great house, I’m happily married, and I have a kid I adore.

As hilarious as stories about Alzheimer’s and cancer are, I’m glad my life is no longer a country-music song.   

My challenge now is to write about ordinary days that revolve around things like potty training.

See, I got back to the point eventually. 


Scott Adams might want me to die, if I weren't so indecisive

by Monica Jones in


Dilbert creator Scott Adams posted this blog entry recently, about his hope that his father, who was suffering from Alzheimer's, would die soon, and how he hopes anyone who opposes assisted suicide follows him. (Note: His father has since passed.) I have mixed feelings about assisted suicide, and you've heard it all before, so I won't bore you with more debate. I'm not worked up about what Adams wrote. They're the words of someone who's suffering, and I'm glad his family has finally found some peace. I can say with certainty that I wish I'd let my father die sooner. If any of my family and his close friends are reading these painful words, I hope you can understand. Dad was a good man and I loved him deeply, but it was way, way, way past time for him to go.

In April 2010, I approved surgery to clear a bowel obstruction. I didn't know it was a bowel obstruction. His doctors said it could be anything from a hernia to cancer, and they wouldn't know for sure until they opened him. I felt like an asshole letting him die from a hernia, so I said OK. He couldn't approve the surgery himself because he had Alzheimer's and didn't understand what was happening to him. He struggled while a nurse and doctor intubated him. I held him still while I stroked his hair and hoped I was doing the right thing.

I wasn't. I was profoundly wrong.

It happened nine months after my mother died, and I wasn't ready to let go. My weakness consigned him to another nine months of misery and pain, after which he finally died from another bowel obstruction.

I got a second chance to make things right after the surgery. His heart started to fail, and his doctor suggested a pacemaker. I could have said no. I should have said no. But after putting him through bowel surgery, a pacemaker was no biggie, right? Except that his body desperately wanted to die, and I robbed him of the chance to do it quietly.

Medical care for the chronically ill, and especially for the elderly, is a slippery slope. One thing leads to another, and eventually you find your father hooked up to a machine that's keeping his kidneys functioning and wondering how the hell you got there. It's like a TV movie of the week. One minute you're drinking wine coolers in your high school parking lot and the next you're a washed-up junkie snorting blow off a hooker's ass.

I said no to the last surgery, but I wasn't in charge at that point, so he went under the knife one more time. My biggest fear was that he would recover, in the sense that "recovery" meant more misery as he slogged toward the inevitable. I was relieved when he died a few days later. He never woke up.

Maybe assisted suicide is the way to go. Maybe it isn't. I'm still not sure. I'd settle for the ability to back away from lost causes. For the most part, I followed his doctors' advice. The decisions were overwhelming, and I held a helpless man's life in my hands while everyone around me, doctors included, suggested treatments that would extend his life -- and his suffering. It was easier with Mom. With a prognosis of three months to live (she died in two), it was easier to back away. It's a relief to hear someone say "enough is enough" when the grieving people around you are begging you to fight on.

Dad's been gone three years today. I'm not beating myself up over it anymore. I just hope the experience has given me a better sense of where to draw the line.


Check your fish, lest you DIE!

by Monica Jones in


I'm 35 years old and I've been driving for only a year, because driving in New York City costs a billion dollars a year, not including parking tickets. So I scored another level in adulthood when I took the car in for a maintenance check. It was due for its 30,000-mile inspection, but mostly, I was worried about the fish living inside our Prius. The conversation with Devon went like this:

Me: I think there's something wrong with the car. The "check fish" light came on.

Devon: The "check fish" light?

Me: Yeah. The light that looks like a fish. There was an exclamation mark in parentheses next to it. The dashboard REALLY wants me to check that fish. I'm worried.

Devon: Sigh. I see.

Check engine Prius

I don't think he saw at all. Sometimes I think he just humors me. He said it meant "check engine," and the exclamation mark meant I needed to check the tire pressure. But that's retarded. I can barely drive, let alone diagnose problems with my engine and tire pressure. Toyota would never ask me to do something so out of my league.


Another year, another letter

by Monica Jones in


Dear Mom, You're gone 4 years today. Most of the time I'm pretty philosophical about it. I mean, crying in my beer won't bring you and Dad back, so I might as well get on with it.

I'm not feeling so philosophical today.

You died when I was 31 -- hardly a child. But sometimes I think you never got to see the fully cooked version of me.

Devon and I are happy. We're having a house built. It's amazing. The kitchen would make you pee yourself. But then, lots of things made you pee yourself. We were a lot alike.

I had a baby girl in February. (I know, way to bury the lede.) The pregnancy was easy. The delivery was not. I spent two days giving birth to her, and it sucked, but I'd have done it for a week if I'd known how awesome she'd be. As I type this, I'm watching her try to eat her feet. You would have adored her. She has a smile that makes my heart happy. With the divorce and your sickness, I didn't spend a lot of time being happy in those last few years before you died. This is a nice change.

I remember when you were in ICU, and Devon and I told you we were getting married. We told you if we had a baby and she was a girl, we would name her after your mother. You were so happy you cried. You died two months later. You weren't going to see the rest of my life unfold, but I wanted you to know. I wish Aurelia had the chance to know you. You could make me guano fucking nuts, but I'd give quite a lot for some of your unwanted advice right now.

For years, I couldn't remember most of my adult relationship with you. I remembered my childhood and the period I'll call PD (Post Diagnosis), but the rest of it fell into a hazy void. I'm starting to remember now - sitting at your kitchen table gossiping, teaching you how to use a computer, helping you put on your socks.

It wasn't all good. I won't go into much detail here. Opening my own flaws to the world is fine, but laying yours bare, without giving you the chance to explain, seems like a dirty trick. But I'm not nearly as angry as I used to be. I know you were scared -- too scared to do the things you should have -- but you were good enough. I hope I will be good enough, too.

You would have been 80 tomorrow. Try not to get too drunk.

Scratch that. Party your old-lady socks off.


Sometimes you get what you want

by Monica Jones in


While Devon and I were watching Doctor Who:

Me: I'd really like to watch the next episode.

Devon: OK.

Me: I'd also really like to be more drunk than I am.

Devon: That's...bluntly honest.

And that's the story of how I got Devon to make me a rum and Coke. And watch back-to-back episodes of Doctor Who.


The world is still an OK place, explosions and all

by Monica Jones in


When news of the Boston explosions hit the Internet, Facebook and Twitter flooded with comments like, "What is wrong with the world today?" (*) The answer: Nothing. Nothing is wrong with the world today that wasn't wrong yesterday and won't be wrong tomorrow. Bad things happen to good people. Or, at least, random people. If you're over the age of 20 and you still haven't wrestled this truth to the ground, then you're brain-damaged, lying, or you've lived an exceptionally sheltered life.

I know jack about what happened in Boston at this point. Maybe it was terrorism, foreign or domestic. Maybe it was something else. Maybe some guy was a shitty runner and decided to take it out on Boston. We'll know more in the days and weeks to come. I saw videos of people running into danger to help other people, and I saw countless well wishes and prayers for the victims online. That's what's important to me.

A friend of mine noted that some of her friends have said they would never bring kids into "this world." One wanted to apologize to her child for the state of the world.

Fuck that noise. This world is awesome.

This world is full of ice cream and sunshine and great wine and push-up bras. It's also full of terrorism and rapists and dead babies and heart attacks. It's always been that way and it will always be that way. I might wind up with a raft of things for which I'll need to apologize to my daughter, but the state of the world I brought her into isn't one of them. I suspect her life will be a mix of ice cream and terror (and, with my genes, probably the push-up bra), but that's the price of admission. I'd rather teach her how to dodge and roll than how to get the vapors every time she boots up her computer.

Notes:

(*) I hesitate to say how terrible something like this is because duh, of course it is. Whoever purposely killed, injured and terrified people doing nothing more offensive than littering should be ... well, should be arrested and tried before a jury of his peers. Even if he wasn't born here. I'm a freak like that. I add it anyway, here in the notes, because people act like you ate a puppy if you don't say the obvious about stuff like this. To the people of Boston and the runners and spectators from everywhere, my horror and sympathy are as sincere as anything I've ever experienced. (**)

(**) I say "he" because shitfaces like this are usually "he." It's not sexist. It's statistically accurate. Women are generally shitfaces in other ways. If the shitface responsible for this has a vagina, I will retract.


One girl, one cup

by Monica Jones in


I'm taking the plunge. I'm gonna try The Diva Cup. The Diva Cup is a reusable menstrual cup that keeps her side of the bed from looking like a crime scene, supposedly. It replaces pads and tampons.

Now you know.

It comes in two sizes: One for women under 30 who have never had a child and another for women over 30 who have had one or more children, vaginally or via c-section.

Diva

They should have just named the second one "cavernous hole." Let's not dance around this shit.


Mass Effect 2 crew need therapy

by Monica Jones in


Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 finally got cheap enough for me to buy off of Steam, and Mass Effect 2 is rocking my world right now. But I couldn’t help but notice that everyone on my team is a psychological wreck, mostly related to unresolved childhood issues. That’s why I’m renaming the game Mass Effect 2: Daddy Issues.

Miranda: A Cerberus operative in a skintight Seven of Nine catsuit. She was genetically engineered by her father to ensure his legacy and ran away because he was a controlling dick. Her loyalty mission involves keeping her younger but genetically identical twin sister hidden from their father.

Tali: A quarian who was on your team in the first Mass Effect. Her father is an admiral in the migrant fleet. In her mission, you discover her dead father was a war criminal who was experimenting on Geth. Depending on how you play it, Tali can be exiled for treason to protect his reputation.

Jacob: He hasn’t spoken to his father in 13 years. Ten years ago, his father, an alliance officer, disappeared with the rest of his crew on a mission. You find out Jacob’s Dad has been playing Lord of the Flies on a jungle world, where he coveted all the healthy food for himself, let his crew eat the tainted food that made them drooling morons, and killed anyone who opposed him. In my game, he’s rotting in an Alliance prison, trying desperately not to drop the soap.

Thane: Thane is a spiritually-inclined drell hitman who is dying of some mysterious disease. He finds out his estranged son has taken a contract in an attempt to follow in his dad’s footsteps and wants to stop him. This mission requires you to track down Thane’s son and turn him back to the path of righteousness.

Samara: I’ll call this one Mommy Issues. Samara is an asari justicar (basically, a Paladin) who is hunting down her daughter, Morinth. Morinth has a genetic defect that makes her a space succubus, and you need to help Samara kill her.

Grunt: Grunt was genetically engineered in a tank. His “father” was a Krogen scientist who created Grunt to be an instrument of destruction. Grunt’s loyalty mission involves proving to the rest of the Krogen that he’s a violent psycho just like them.

Jack: Jack is a tattooed, half-naked whack job who was terrorized as a child by Cerberus agents in an attempt to build a super biotic. In the end, she just needs to be loved. And kill people.

The writing staff of Mass Effect 2 needs serious therapy. Or a hug. I’m not sure. But I guess the crew has to be nuts to follow my resurrected ass around the galaxy.