terrified

 

Most of you don’t know this about me, but I’m an introvert.

I’m brash and outgoing and a real wiseass – yes, I realize this.

Extraversion is characterized by sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and excitability. I possess those traits. So how can I be an introvert?

Because being an introvert, vs an extrovert, has to do with whether you are energized or drained by interacting with others. I gather my energy from within myself. And if I interact with a large group of people, it takes me DAYS to recover.

When it comes to socializing, I do best with one or two close friends.

In my pre-Suburban Mom life, which was all about clubbing, I had two easy fixes.

One: I was high. It’s easy enough to be the life of the party when you’re stoned on Ecstasy, dancing in your underwear at a bubble rave while strangers rub you down with ice cubes.

Two : Lots of time to charge up before and re-charge after.

In New York, clubbing starts at midnight. My friends used to tease me because I HAD to have a “disco nap” before going out. On a typical night out, I needed quiet and solitude from 8 or 9 pm til about midnight. Then my friends would drag me around the corner to Veniero’s, arguably the best Italian pastry shop in New York, to blast my central nervous system awake with espresso.

These days, to combat my anxiety, or perhaps because of it, I occasionally do bizarre things in public.

That’s how I ended up hotwiring a car the first time I got together with the Cute Guy. Acting stupid helps me over the hump of anxiety. I shield my vulnerability as an introvert with outlandish behavior.

 

I’ve had a few real humdingers of awkward penguin introvert behavior. I’d like to share them with you, so we can laugh at me together.

 

Years ago, I was at an outdoor summer party with a crowd I mostly didn’t know. There was this super cute guy there, who was wearing cut off jean shorts with very unfortunate looking frayed bottoms. He was totally attractive, but that fringe? Not so much.

I was a little drunk, and decided the fringe had to go.

I thought it would be hilarious to light it on fire with a lighter. When his back was turned I lit the lighter right under his ass, and gleefully watched the frayed cotton of the shorts go up.

And keep going.

I recognized that I had made a HUGE error and started slapping at his ass. I did put the fire out, but that was after I ran up to a complete stranger and essentially, began spanking him in a frenzy.

The host suggested I go home, after lighting one of her guests on fire. I complied.

 

Then there was the time I injured two men simultaneously.

I was in a bar flirting with a man who was standing with his buddy. The guy I liked had longish hair, like bangs, that fell over his eyes. He was doing a sexy “flip of the hair” thing that made him seem really artsy and vulnerable.

He turned to say something to his friend and his hair fell in his face. I reached up to playfully brush it off his face. Just then he turned, and I poked him in the eye.

I hurriedly reached my arm up to see if he was okay, and I elbowed his friend in the face.

This is some Three Stooges shit. People pay MONEY to see this stuff. To complete the effect, I should have shouted “Whoop whoop WHOOP!,” sprayed them with ink and scuttled sideways out of there.

 

 

So, here are some common misconceptions about introverts:

Myth #1 : Introverts don’t like to talk.

I love to talk. If you get me started about movies, books, music – I won’t shut up.

But football talk makes me want to jump off a high rise.  And small talk – how can you not believe it’s only whatever day of the week it is? Look at a fucking calendar!

I’m also not interested in talking about television shows I’ve never watched. I don’t care if the guy from The Bachelor has more tank tops than everyone at Coachella put together.

I talk plenty. I just don’t care for nonversation.

Myth #2 : Introverts are shy.

I’m not shy.  Going to a party where I only know the host just does not tickle my penis.

I like socialization in small doses. If I’m forced to attend something that requires an extended visit like a wedding, I can show up and function just like everyone else.

I’ll just do it with a constant feeling of, “Holy shit, is this over yet? I just want to go home, take off my bra, and rub one out to a Game of Thrones torture scene on my couch.”

Myth #3 : Introverts are rude.

I’m NOT rude. I like to just be real, which is not always the most acceptable mode of behavior at, say, a PTO meeting. It’s exhausting for introverts to fit in with all the mindless pleasantries that pass for conversation.

I also have no filter and blurt out things that I think are funny, but end up sounding rude. Like asking my son’s best friend’s dad if his new Prius runs on ‘period blood.’

Myth #4 : Introverts don’t like people.

I LOVE people. People who I feel have substance. After dealing with nothing but suburban cheese nugs for the last 10 years,  I learned that my life doesn’t cease to carry meaning because the whole “face-to-face” interaction thing sucks big ol’ floppy horse balls.

Myth #5 : Introverts don’t like to go out in public.

I love going out. I simply prefer my nice, quiet house over the jaw-clinching idiocy of public functions.

Myth #6 : Introverts always want to be alone.

I do need my alone time. I embrace solitude and  get my energy from within,

But I enjoy being with people. I just choose intimate gatherings over large parties and one on one conversations over group discussions. And I’m fiercely loyal to the few people I consider true friends.

Myth #7 : Introverts are weird.

Once every couple of years, some deranged psychopath steals a tank, drives into a mall, and starts leveling the food court, screaming out the names of random elementary school teachers as each fast food booth disintegrates in a cloud of flames.

Of course, the news always describes him as a “loner.” We’ve been so deluged with these “He was an introverted time bomb” stories that we’ve started to associate completely normal introverts with an inevitable madman demise.

I’ve always been an individualist. It doesn’t make me a jackpine savage. I fully admit to being weird, but my weirdness is not connected with my being an introvert. It’s just a happy accident.

Myth #8 : Introverts are aloof nerds.

I’m a nerd and I embrace that. I am an information junkie. I have nerdgasms over complex math problems.

But aloof? Nah. I just get lost a lot in my inner world..

I often wish, during a conversation with someone I like who is saying something relatively interesting, that he or she would just stop talking.

 

 

Two nights ago, I registered to attend BlogHer. It’s right here in New York, in three weeks.

 

I’m fucking terrified.

 

There will be lots o’ people, Serious Professional Bloggers. And meanwhile, I’m going over my wardrobe, trying to figure out which skull tee shirt to pack.

Quirky Chrissy and Aussa have said they would let me attach myself to them with a human leash. They think I’m kidding, but I own one and I’m not afraid to use it.

I’m not going to be fully anonymous once people see me. Even in a huge crowd at BlogHer, I will be easy to spot. I’ll be the one dressed in clothes from Hot Topics, which gives me the dubious distinction of shopping in the same store as my 11 year old.

But I promise to be on my best, most grown-up behavior. I will refrain from asking keynote speaker Gwyneth Paltrow how frequently she recommends steaming her vagina.

And I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

signature

 

 

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? 
Have you ever planned to do something that scares the bejesus out of you? 
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

long trip

 

When Little Dude was infant, my Ex came home to find me nursing him, and crying.

“Why are you crying?” he asked.

I wailed, “He’s going to grow up and go off to college and leeeeeave meeeeee.”

 

My ex loves this story. Yes, I was hormonal and sleep deprived. ‘Cujo the Newborn’ was nursing every 2 hours,  drawing blood off my nips. But I was on to something.

That first year, when people told me to enjoy it became it “goes fast,” I wanted to force feed them their own elbows. The hours crawled by while I wandered around in a daze, feeling like a truck had run over my life.

It was not love at first sight.

Eventually, I fell fiercely, ridiculously in love with my child in a way that I can’t quite put into words, so I’ll just stop typing about it right here.

 

Little Dude is my favorite human being in the whole world, so the majority of my Facebook statuses are about him.

I frequently post “CONVERSATIONS WITH LITTLE DUDE” –  snippets of his insanely smart and hilarious comments.

Smart? He charges me one dollar every time I post about him. Kid is making bank.

 

CONVERSATIONS WITH LITTLE DUDE

LD:  Can you turn down your music? I’m trying to study for a science test.
Me:  Whose kid ARE you? Besides this is 90’s rap. You should know this!
LD:  Fine. I’ll tell my teacher I failed because my mother was reliving her “glory days.”

 

 

Little Dude had his Moving Up graduation ceremony from elementary school last week.

He’s not a little boy anymore. That phase of his life is solidly over. He’s very much a tween, practically hurtling towards being a teenager at warp speed.

The first year of his life may have crept by, but the last ten have whizzed by in a blur.

 

The inevitable baby picture montage actually eclipsed any I have seen before it its creativity. I would have appreciated it even more, had I not been weeping into balled up, mascara-stained tissues.

Despite my raunchy sense of humor and brash exterior, I’m a complete mush – especially when it comes to my kid.

 

CONVERSATIONS WITH LITTLE DUDE

LD:  Mom, can you make me some jello?
Me:  Sure, baby.
*gets stuff out to make jello*
Me:  What would you DO without me?
LD:  Um. Read the back of the box?

 

 

During the ceremony the students were asked to stand and be acknowledged for academic excellence and participation in various extracurricular affairs.

Little Dude’s name was called, over and over again. He was a goddamn rock star.

(Yes, I’m aware that I’m bragging. I could never do this in real life. Please indulge me?)

My heart swelled to about ten times its normal size that day.

The swelling hasn’t completely gone down yet.

 

I shared the whole day with Lizzi, via the Internet. She is Little Dude’s “Auntie Lizzi” from across the pond. She is as proud of him as if he were her blood nephew.

I sent her pictures and video clips, including the one of Little Dude receiving his diploma from the principal. His firm handshake and steady eye contact with the principal displayed a confidence that I certainly didn’t have at that age.

I still don’t have it.

 

CONVERSATIONS WITH LITTLE DUDE

LD:  Aidan and Jack got into a fist fight in the back of the bus, and got sent to the principal’s office.
Me:  And that is EXACTLY why you will never sit in the back of the bus. Nothing but trouble starts back there.
LD:  Right?  It’s like WOODSTOCK back there!

 

My kid has grown up a lot in the last year, since my Ex moved out. I have very mixed feelings about that.

Part of me wishes he didn’t have to take on so much.

He used to balk and give me attitude about all his chores. He doesn’t anymore.

And he’s changed in other ways, too. He’s grown quite protective of me. In many ways, he’s the man of the house.

It’s glorious, but at the same time it worries me. I had a lot of responsiblity when I was growing up, and I missed out on a childhood.

Is he getting enough time to be a boy?

 

CONVERSATIONS WITH LITTLE DUDE

Me:  We’ve seen this episode of Full House so many times I’ve memorized the dialogue.
LD:  Are you tweeting that?!
Me:  No, I’m just picking up my phone.
LD:  Good. Memorizing episodes of Full House is a victory you might want to celebrate in the privacy of our home.

 

 

He’s a safety monitor at school. He is assigned to help the little kindergarteners get to class in the morning and to the bus in the afternoon.

He likes to get in early. There’s a dad who brings his kindergarten aged boy to school every morning. They come early, because the dad has to go to work.
And he waits for Little Dude to show up every morning, so he can turn his son over to the care of a fifth grader, and leave.

My kid was never specifically assigned to do this. He just does.

 

CONVERSATIONS WITH LITTLE DUDE

LD:  Are you…twerking??!
Me: No, I’m dancing!
LD:  You’re twerking!
Me:  I’m shaking my butt!
LD:  I can’t tell you how profoundly disturbing it is to watch my mother twerk. Just take my college education fund and save it for my therapy

 

All of the things he was acknowledged for at graduation are amazing. But what I’m most happy about is that my kid is a soulful, compassionate person with a huge heart. He cares deeply about the people around him.

And goddamn is he funny.

 

CONVERSATIONS WITH LITTLE DUDE

Me:  Check it out! I’m getting a pumpkin coffee, you’re getting a turkey sandwich, and
        ‘Linger’ by the Cranberries is playing.
        Coincidence? I think not.
LD:  Mom, I can assure you WaWa did not organize a ‘Thanksgiving Trifecta.’
Me:  MUST you talk like that? You’re going to be the ‘weird kid’ at school, you know that, right?
LD:  Don’t worry, I dumb it down for school.
Me:  You DUMB IT DOWN for school? That’s priceless. Hahahahahaha

 

Graduations can be seen as a coming of age. It’s a way to recognize when a person steps into the next stage of life.

My son is stepping into a new stage and I’m excited for him.

But I also want to tell him, “Slow down, baby boy. I don’t want to miss a thing.”

 

Did your kid graduate from school recently?  Did you get emotional at their graduation?
Does time seem to be moving very fast? 
Talk to me.  I’m listening. 

cults

 

Underneath all this jaded New York cynicism beats the heart of a girl who wants to believe in magic.

I’m an easy target for a “get enlightened quick” fix. The years I lived in New York I was easily swept up into anything I thought would raise my consciousness.

I tried Reiki, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, chakra balancing, craniosacral therapy, kinesiology. I got Rolfed. I tried Neurofeedback and Ayurvedic medicine and grape therapy. I sage-smudged my house and worked with crystals. I got colonics. I joined a Lesbian Wiccan coven.

And I was an active member of a well known cult back in the 90’s. I didn’t KNOW it was a cult. You think it’s this really cool group of super-enlightened beings who are helping you achieve your highest goals. Until you end up brainwashed, broke, and dancing naked in the Poconos with several hundred similarly lost souls.

Yeah, I’ll get to the naked part. Calm your tits.

 

Not all cults are led by notorious quasi-religious fanatics who order hundreds of followers to commit suicide via cyaninde-lace Koolaid. Some cult leaders are dynamic, charismatic individuals who are brilliant enough to tap into your most profound needs.

 

An extremely talented actress friend of mine enrolled me in the Course.  She was the star of a critically acclaimed Off-Broadway one-woman show, and I yearned for her confidence and success.

These LGAT (Large Group Awareness Training) groups insist that they can’t explain the program; you can only understand it if you come to a group meeting. At the meeting you are hit with intense, unrelenting pressure to enroll.  All the participants rave about their breakthroughs and personal transformations.

All for just $500 and a weekend of your life. They didn’t mention stealing your soul.

I signed up.

The Course is designed to deconstruct your personality and rebuild it – based around continued participation in the organization.

You spend the weekend in a giant room, with a hundred other participants, plus staff member and graduates of the course who are assisting. The Leader conducts lectures and group exercises and “breaks.”

The “breaks” are anything but. You mill around and interact with the staff. They challenge your beliefs and force you to examine your childhood and close relationships. They frequently grow confrontational and belittle you. They press you to release pent-up emotions.

And they torment you to agree to enroll in more programs.

The room is locked. Bathroom breaks are sporadic. You are given only one meager meal a day. There are strict rules about talking. There is a LOT of screaming and yelling. The course starts very early, and continues into late at night, for three days.

You are experiencing sleep deprivation, hunger, and fear. It’s a potent mixture that leaves you ripe for brainwashing.

The Leader was a charismatic man who attracted followers for decades. He was a New Age charlatan with a knack for convincing people to spend endless hours volunteering to spread his teachings, getting people to pay to take the ever-mutating courses and services, and persuading countless women who had fallen under his spell to have sex with him.

Ew. No, this I did not do.

People attended the Course in droves. The majority of course participants really experienced the exultation of a strong emotional release, or even had a spiritual/mystical experience. And in a room packed full of people in search of the Promised Land, the energy of hope is contagious.

After I graduated The Course I embraced the organization with the fanaticism of a religious zealot. I enrolled everyone I was close to. I spent most of my free time at the local Center. I spoke in their jargon. At their urging, I minimized contact with people outside the group. I preferred the company of those who believed in the unlimitedness of the human experience.

And I turned a blind eye to the horrors within. The people “on staff” were made to work 70 hours a week with no pay – just room and board. They had to pay slavish detail to the minutiae of the Leader’s demands, including organizing his belongings using a ruler for precision.

They lived with very little food and sleep – so their defenses were always weakened and they were easily manipulated. It was a New Age work camp, with chores and activities to keep them occupied virtually every hour of the day. If anyone wanted to deviate outside the Course, or thought about leaving the program, they were attacked en masse, and bullied until they realized how foolish it was to think they could accomplish anything outside the group.

 

 

Over a two-year period, I participated in, and assisted at, many advanced courses and workshops.

Eventually, I did the behemoth of the organization – “The Intensive.”

Several hundred people travel to a deserted sleep away camp in the Poconos for a week of pure torture. It’s Outward Bound, liberally laced with psychological abuse.

They tell you it might be the most grueling experience you may ever endure. They claim it’s so they can prepare you for all life’s horrific events.

We had to wake up at 5 am. We were forced to take ice cold showers – and there were shower monitors standing just outside each shower stall making sure you were fully under that glacial spray.

We had to do cardiovascular exercise for one hour each day. We were served very healthy, but tiny portions, of almost exclusively raw foods. We had to complete workshops and group exercises and physical challenges. We were broken into groups and encouraged to challenge one another on our weaknesses and obstacles and negative thinking.

Along with the lectures and confrontations and lots of screaming were mandatory death-defying outdoor stunts. We had to climb treacherous mountains. Rappel down steep hills.

My personal nightmare was completing the Tyrolean Traverse across a rocky ravine. We were harnessed to a rope that was fastened between two mountainsides, and with our bodies horizontal, had to pull ourselves from one side to the other, hand over hand, over that yawning abyss.

I am afraid of heights. I won’t even go on a Ferris wheel. 

Despite the complex system of knots and pulleys that (supposedly) kept you from plunging to your death, I was convinced I would die. I froze right in the middle, and I as dangled in the air and listened to the roaring water below, I screamed,

“HOLY FUCKING SHIT MOTHERFUCKERS I HATE YOU

YOUR MOTHER SUCKS COCKS IN HELL

MOTHERFUCKERS GET ME THE FUCK DOWN FROM HEREEEEEE

FUCK

FUCK

FUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!”

I can still hear my profanities echoing through the mountains.

 

One night, while we were in our groups doing some bizarre personal transformation exercise, I noticed several assistants building fires in all the indoor fire pits. As the room gradually heated up, I thought to myself, “They’re gonna make us get naked.”

They did.

We all had to take off our clothes, and one a time, stand in front of our group. If there was a point to this exercise, it escapes me.

At this point, several people left. I remember one woman was doing the Intensive with her son, and she adamantly refused to stand naked in front of him.

 

Each night of the Intensive ended with a dance party. On that night, people began taking off their clothes. We had all seen each other naked, so it just…happened. Hundreds of people, dancing naked, whooping like wild Indians.

It was liberating yet scary, empowering yet vulnerable and totally, totally joyous.

 

One afternoon, back at the center, I saw something that disturbed me greatly.

I was working in the kitchen. The staff forgot I was there. In a room behind the kitchen, the Leader was furious at his staff and screaming at them.

And then he began to hit them. They were in a row in front of him, and you could see that they had been trained to take his blows without fighting back. He hit them savagely, punching them in the face and stomach. Men and women alike.

I fled from there. I was confused and sickened. I discussed it with my boyfriend. All the other doubts that I had pushed away, surfaced. It was time for me to leave.

They did not let me go without a fight. They called me over and over, for weeks. They wrote letters. They came to my apartment.

I contacted other people who had left the organization, and they confirmed all my worst suspicions. The leader was just another charismatic, greedy New Age imposter. Although he had facilitated many breakthroughs, he had done so accidentally while seeking his main objective – Power and Money.

 

I did not return to my prior life easily. I was constantly agitated, sad and disoriented. The world around me looked strange, almost as if I was on LSD.

I had to get deprogrammed.

That’s what it takes to reverse the brainwashing of a cult. I had to go to exit counseling – counseling with a therapist who specializes in helping to loosen the bonds of cult.

I saw my deprogrammer for about 2 months. About a month in, the hallucinatory after-effect of sleep deprivation, social fear, and reinforcement from all the groupthink wore off and I felt like “me” again.

 

I don’t announce to people, “Hi! I’m Samara and I was in a cult!” Because I didn’t recognize it as an established cult, like the Hare Krishnas, and ask, “Can I please join you and dance around airports?”

I was in pursuit of something higher, and I got lost along the way.

I’m still a little lost. I’m still finding my way.

But never again will I surrender all my power to a group, to find it.

 

 

Have you, or someone close to you, ever belonged to a cult?
What other crazy things have you done in the name of enlightenment?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

 

pain abyss - Copy

*Warning: Written while on pain meds

I rarely get sick. When I do, it’s always to such an extreme.

I don’t get colds. I have nervous breakdowns.

 

I haven’t needed dental work since I was pregnant with Little Dude. He was sucking all the calcium out of my body, along with essential macronutrients and my life force and sanity. I loathed being pregnant.

My tooth started hurting a while ago (a week? a month? Thank you, Vicodin for eroding my sense of time) and I ignored it. That’s my medical strategy. Denial.

But it got worse. Every time I chewed food on the right side I felt like I was being electrocuted through my gums. I was forced to see a dentist.

God, I hate dentists. What a shitty job that must be. Everyone dreads you.

Despite how far we’ve come in medicine, dentistry is fucking medieval. The only advancement we’ve really had is sanitation. Essentially, you still have some guy standing over you with a pair of pliers in your mouth and a foot on your stomach, pulling at your teeth. Barbaric.

 

The dentist said my wisdom tooth was impacted and pushing through my gums. AND that I needed a root canal in the tooth next to it.

Double Pain Whammy. The next thing I knew he sent in Dr. Josef Mengele, the ‘Angel of Death’ endodontist, to reenact the torture scene in “Marathon Man.

He drilled into my face, which is always awesome. That unmistakable high pitched whir, the smell of decay, bits of teeth flying everywhere like exploded shrapnel. It felt like a tiny grenade had exploded in my face.

And then he had to stop because the wisdom tooth was in the way.

The dentist office tried to get the extraction approved quickly but my insurance company was being a dick. The bottom line is always the bottom line. It doesn’t matter that there’s an infant alien with claws scratching its way out of my jaw and ripping it to pieces.

The dentist gave me antibiotic and pain meds. I’m on 10 mg Vicodin which he leaned down to tell me was “the good stuff.”

Hate to tell you Doc, but the good stuff would be an eight ball of cocaine and a bottle of Jack.

Did everyone have as druggie of a past as I did, or am I just more honest about it because I’m anonymous? I was a cocaine cowgirl during the years I bartended (and had other nighttime jobs) in New York. Last call is at 4 am. After work, I’d go to after hours clubs, the ones that operated from 4 am to noon. I would stay out until 8 in the morning, then go home to take a bath and sleep all day.

I was a vampire before it was fashionable.  A vampire with a trickle of white powdered snot running down an upper lip too numb to feel it. How attractive.

 

The stupid insurance finally approved the extraction and I’m scheduled for Monday.  I am in for a world of pain. As it is, every time the air passes over those two teeth I feel like I got punched in the face.

 

We interrupt this blog post to show you a REALLY COOL nail polish color. I actually love seeing this color dance across my keyboard…

 

FullSizeRender

 

Did I just say ‘dance across the keyboard’? Jesus these drugs are pretty good after all.

 

My kid went to his first boy/girl dance last night – the fifth grade social. Most of the boys didn’t ask any girls because the girls just wanted to go with their friends. Just as well. Little Dude will be wading thorough that sewer soon enough.

This one kid in his class is a real oddball. He picks his nose and eats it, so he’s shunned- although I’m happy to report that Little Dude is always nice to him. The Nose Picker decided to ask THE most popular girl in the fifth grade to the dance – a girl who, my own son has told me, is a super bitch to all the other kids as befitting her status as Most Popular (He didn’t use the word bitch but you get the idea).

He asked her KNOWING she would turn him down, and when she did, he recited an original poem referencing Batman.

My kid thought it was bizarre, but I think it’s SO cool. The Nose Picker has balls of steel. Maybe he’s getting certain booger nutrients that enables him to break free of social constraints.

Sometimes, you have to risk rejection. And then recite an original poem featuring Batman.

 

When I went to pick him up I didn’t plan to get out of the car. I had on Victoria Secret boxer shorts and no shoes. The school is just down the street.

Of COURSE when I got there all the doting moms were parked and going inside to retrieve their kid. Is it bad or good that no one said a word to me about my bare feet and boxers?

 

Now I have to cancel my date tonight, because the last thing I want is something in my mouth.

Get your minds out of the gutter. By ‘something,’ I mean penis.

 

I’m worried that after I have both the wisdom tooth out and the root canal after that I will be DYING IN PAIN and unable to write anything for a really long time and you’ll all just forget about me.

Don’t forget about me. Wow, opiates make me needy.

I’m just here, floating on a cloud of Vicodin, trying to figure out which draft I should work on.

I’m going to list a few of them here. I’d love it if you told me in the comments which one you think I should write?

1. How to Shoplift

2. In Which I Admit to Being a Grateful Dead Fan

4. Things I Found in My House

5. Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army

6. The Grinch Who Stole Mother’s Day

7. That Time I was In a Cult

8. Greetings From the Pain Abyss     Oopsie! Not that one! That’s this post.

 

I don’t even know if anyone will read this. I don’t usually publish on the weekends. I guess I’m about to find out, right?

And now I must go eat something. That’s one of the benefits of being a grown up. I can eat melted ice cream for lunch and NO ONE CAN STOP ME.

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Is there anything more painful than a toothache? I’m really a baby, aren’t I?
Should I go back and proofread this post?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

Sax Maniac

June 4, 2015 — 92 Comments

sax

 

I attended Little Dude’s 5th grade band concert yesterday and it might have been the most brutal thing I’ve ever heard.

Parents were falling all over themselves to video this debacle. I must be missing some maternal sensitivity chip because I don’t want a shred of evidence of this Cacophony of Horror.

Little Dude plays the sax, and I use the word “plays” lightly.

He’s dreadful. It’s like “Root Canal: The Musical.” I’d like to think he has a little bit of a musical ear, but that might just be because I come from a musical family.

When we weren’t killing each other or getting the shit kicked out of us by our mother, my family was making music together. I’m not much of a musician, but my brothers are incredibly talented and accomplished musicians. Three of the 5 of them were born with perfect pitch.

Much to my dismay, I never realized my potential as a musician. I was intimidated by my talented siblings. But I did grow up around instruments, and it was not unusual for us to have impromptu jam sessions on guitar and/or piano and sing harmonies to popular songs.

If I have any good memories from childhood, those would be it.

 

Like the pushy Tiger Mom that I am, I drill music into my kid’s head. I want to make sure that he at least exposed to some of what I consider to be “the greats” before he rejects it for trendy, soulless dub step.

When we listen to music in the car, I urge him to listen to it critically. I’m the Most Annoying Parent ever, but I’m trying to train his ear. I pull apart the sounds, and have him zero in on certain instruments. I want him to recognize the incredible bassmanship in Pink Floyd’s “Money”, and to fully appreciate the majestic guitar solo at the end of “Hotel California“. He can listen to a Beatles song and tell me who’s performing the vocals. He doesn’t love punk rock (yet) but he understands its impact in musical history.

When he was picking an instrument for band, I steered him towards sax. A few weeks ago, we were listening to Lenny Kravitz in the car. Little Dude actually stopped talking during the sax solo in “Let Love Rule.” Afterwards he said, “THAT’S why you want me to learn sax, isn’t it?

YES.

YES IT IS.

 

Fast forward to the reality.

So, my kid can’t play the sax. When I nag him to practice, it sounds like Mothra devoured a rural town and is now shitting farm equipment.

Apparently, every kid who plays an instrument in the fifth grade refuses to practice because the sum of them was a horrific violation of sound laws. If there aren’t sound laws, there should be ones that prevent this kind of tuneless caterwauling.

This sounded less like music and more like the agonizing screams of a kitten who accidentally climbed into the radiator fan of your car and was woken up when you turned in the ignition.

 

I should have prefaced this post by telling you that I have hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to everyday sounds. It’s a bit of a generalized assessment of my condition, because I particularly have a hard time tolerating tinny or static-y music, off-key singing…

Wow. Maybe I’m just a bitch.

But I also have very pronounced misophonia, which is totally legitimate. It’s an acute reaction to certain low volume sounds and it’s REAL. I mean, Kelly Ripa admits to having this, and she’s “look at me playing with my hair and posing” adorable and if she runs from the room screaming when her kids eat popsicles, then it’s gotta be real, right?

The slurping chomping smacking crunching sounds people make when they eat drive me into a blind rage. I have to leave the room when my kid eats cereal or a ceramic bowl will become a lethal weapon.

Little Dude is smart, and a bit of a prankster. He made the mistake of changing my text noise from the normal beep to a Japanese man from ‘Call of Duty World at War’ screaming “BANZAI!” I screamed bloody murder and was certain by the way the entire left side of my body went numb that I was having a heart attack. Don’t mess with my sounds.

So, this concert was the equivalent of slow torture. Not just “synth intro to Van Halen’s Jump” annoying. More like the “agonizing sounds of a conscious man getting his head sawed off” horrific. (Stay away from 4chan. You’ve been warned.)

The concert was worse than the cries of a thousand tormented souls. It was worse than the  SSSSKKKKKKKRRRRRRSSSHSHSHCKCKCKKKBRKACKGRAZNCKIRGUSHTERBOFPK of a car accident.

You know how people choose to vacation in the Middle East because it’s cheap and accidentally end up near an active war zone? That’s what this concert sounded like. Like coyotes devouring a live raccoon.

 

I had all but decided that music is just not my kid’s thing. Last night on the way home from a school event, we were listening to Lenny Kravitz. I asked Little Dude, “Can you hear the influence of the Beatles in Lenny Kravitz’s music?”

He said he did. I persisted a bit. I enjoy irritating him when he’s trapped in the car.

“Please doesn’t just say yes to shut me up. Do you really hear it? Where?”

He listened for a while. And then “I Build This Garden” came on.

“There Mama, right there. This song is very Beatle-ish, like ‘Eleanor Rigby’.”

Fuck if he wasn’t right on the money. The song contains driving rock guitar riffs blended with orchestral strings, in a total Beatles sonic tribute.

 

This was music to my ears.

I’m going to invest in private lessons. And some really good quality ear plugs.

 

Do you ever force feed your kid stuff, especially if it’s something you love?
Did you come from a musical family? Do you think music is important to kids’ development?
Do you have an aversion to certain sounds?
Do I just bug the crap out of my kid?
Talk to me. I’m listening.