(Red, White and) Blue Monday

Formerly a fashion statement, now a work requirement. My youngest child (who, technically, isn’t a child anymore) is leaving for Air Force Basic Training (aka boot camp, aka Hell) tomorrow. We’re not quite sure how long she’ll be gone, because after graduation, she’s due to attend two or three technical schools. The length of her absence depends on the availability of space at the schools. She could be gone for two months, she could be gone for six or more. We just don’t know. In the meantime, she’s leaving behind the Grandpea, whose loving care will be provided by the Pea’s father, Amadeus and me, among others. It takes a village to raise a child, and this kid’s got one the size of Bangladesh.

I’m incredibly proud of my daughter. She’s as strong as a steel beam, as determined to succeed as Moses was to get to the Promised Land. For her, the Promised Land is an expanse of G.I. Bills, education and a secure future for her and her toddlerette. It blows my mind that she’s made this decision. You may remember reading about this little hellion over the years (I’ll add some links at the end of this post in case you don’t). This is my wild child- she of tats and piercings and detentions and in-your-face arguments with teachers and principals, usually regarding her principles. She refused to even pledge allegiance to the flag for a while there. But here she is, just a few years later, ready to kick ass, defend and serve. She scored extremely high on her ASVAB exam, which is the reason they’re sending her to all of those schools.

Despite the fact that she’s gutsy and intelligent, I worry about her on an almost hourly basis. She’s lovely, she’s tiny, she’s a girl working amongst a bunch of Big Burly Guys. My little girl. Behind her tough-broad façade lies a gentle, trusting angel of a thing. Her heart is beautiful and marshmallowy soft, and she’s still at an age (twenty-two) that she sometimes gives it too freely. It’s a rite of passage that we all go through, those years in which we learn to make it on our own, discern who the good guys are and determine who we let into our circle. For me, it was a difficult age, and I’m having flashbacks of creeps and predators and soul suckers. I was a lot more naïve and confused (and stupid) than she is, but still…

They’re going to scream at my baby, those Big Mean Drill Sergeants. They’re going to make her run forty miles a day and sweat until she collapses like a wilted collard green. They’ll force her to wear granny panties, sleep under an itchy wool blanket, eat K-rations and scrub toilets with a toothbrush. Worst of all, they’re going to take away her hair products and makeup. They obviously don’t understand the power of femininity. The eyeliner pen is mightier than the sword.

Anyway…it’s been a rough week. Amadeus and I took her to dinner on Friday, invited her over on Sunday and she’s coming to hang out with me later today. She and her little nuclear family are clinging to each other for a few last hours, and we’re clinging too. Tomorrow, I’ll go with her to her base to see her off, and though it’s only about forty-five minutes from here, I’m guessing that the ride will seem as long as if we were driving to Potsdam (Germany, not New York). It’s a new chapter, an exciting time. We all know she’s going to excel. She has no doubt she’s made the right decision. It’s one of those retrospective deals, where in the end, we’ll all be thankful that she did it. But for now, we’re as blue as the square behind those stars on an American flag, the one she’ll be proudly saluting from here on out.

I’ve come here seeking solace and distraction. If you’re reading this, and you send me a few words of cheer– a joke, advice or a happy little line or two (or a quarter of a million dollars)– I’ll send you a coupon for a free copy of my e-book, Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations. This offer ends tomorrow, December 4th. After that, I’m sure I’ll be okay. I think. I hope.

Cheer-Sending Options:

The Comments Section of this post

E-mail: moonbeammcqueen at yahoo dot com

Twitter: @moonbeammcqueen

Thanks so much, everyone– I hope you have a happy, healthy, wondrous week. ♥ ♥ ♥

A few wistful, long-ago posts about my daughter:

Mother-Daughter Tattoos

My Daughter: In Trouble Again

A Visit From My Daughter: The Worn Carpet Treatment

Ninjas and Boot Camp and Flaming Racoons

This post is brought to you by cigarettes, the sticks I cannot kick. I was tobacco free for 30 days, and coincidentally, was a non-functional wreck for the same amount of time. This is the first thing I’ve written in a month. I’m a loser, I’m a failure, but I can’t hide it from you. Besides, I know you can probably smell it on my clothes. 

I was going to apologize for my absence, but I’ve implemented a “no remorse” policy when it comes to blogging. Instead, I’ll just say “howdy do.” Howdy do. It’s good to be back. Well, I’m not really back back, I’ve just stopped in for a moment to tell you a few things, then I’ve got to get busy with a couple of projects. As usual, life has been amazing and crazy and ever-changing, with a few scatterings of sadness here and there.

You’ve been in my heart and on my mind a lot lately. I’m coming upon the fifth anniversary of this blog. Nearly a million people have visited this site. Almost a bazillion spammers have stopped by to hawk discount Viagra. I’ve written something like 380 posts. My best day brought almost two thousand visitors, my worst (during those times of temporary blog abandonment) probably dragged in about 20. Or eight.

Last night, I was talking to Amadeus about how when and why I started blogging. Five years ago, I was at home on a medical leave of absence from work, wading deep in the muck of fibromyalgia. I was in pain to the point that I could barely walk. I was angry and depressed and it seemed that everyone I met wanted to tell me the sad saga of a of friend or relative who had fibro too. I wanted happy stories, uplifting ones, but overwhelmingly, the tales were despairing ones of wheelchairs and pain meds and disability checks.

I blogged my way through it all. I charted my journey. Every doctor visit, every prescription, TENS units, Lidocaine patches, the shots in my spine, the painful, foggy shit sandwich that my life had become. People wrote and shared their stories, their anger and anguish. We laughed and cried and bitched. My little corner of the blogosphere was becoming a loving one, and a hopeful one. There was some sort of magic taking place. I started feeling stronger. I determined that I wasn’t going to let this little demon define who I was. Somewhere in all of this I began another blog, this one. In time, the other blog, FibomyOWgia, gradually faded away as this one took over. This blog became my focus. It was and is my haven.

There’s a link between stress and depression and fibromyalgia. This is where I visited when I needed a place to write, to create, to dream and decompress. It got me through fibro and into remission, I swear it.

So here I am, five years later, relaying it all to Amadeus. The woman he married fishes and pitches tents and climbs stairs with the best of them. She writes and tells stories and dances like Elaine on Seinfeld. I don’t think he’d recognize the chick who started this blog.

I credit you for a lot of this. Oh no! I feel a song coming on!

Seriously, thank you from the little pointy triangly part at the bottom of my heart. Thanks for always, always lettinme be mice elf. 

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I was reminiscing about all of this because in a few weeks, I’m doing a presentation about personal blogging.  I’ll be talking to local folk about the wonders of WordPress. It’s a humongous honor to have been chosen for this. I’m thrilled and nervous and (being a ham and half) completely jumping beaning for joy at the opportunity to talk to new bloggers about you and me and the loveliness of the entire blog experience. Oh, you have no idea. Of course, I’m freaking out, but this is also where I run to freak out. So, here I am. And there you have it.

A lot’s been happening in my writing world, despite the fact that, until this very moment, my brain’s been frozen like a bag of peas and I’ve been unable to write a word. But I’ve been doing some readings at a local bookstore.  I’ve joined a writer’s workshop and thoughts of self-publishing have been a-churning.

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Amadeus’ sister-in-law came to town, and Saturday morning, we scattered his brother’s ashes into a lake that he loved. Tears and rose petals floated on the water, and as they drifted away, I was struck by how much more I feel a sense of a person’s presence when they’re ash than when they’re underground. My father was cremated, and the act of pouring his physical body out into the world, unconfined by a box with shovelfuls of dirt piled on top, seemed as though we were both setting him free and returning him to the universe. When my time is at hand, I definitely want to be flame broiled, fire-roasted and scattered in the Buffalo River, with tiny traces of me carried by a breeze.

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Here’s a bit of delicious ear candy, just for you. A friend recently shared this link, a short video about Donnie and Joe Emerson, and their 1979 album, Dreamin’ Wild. There are a few tracks on YouTube, and I keep going back and listening to them. I want this CD! I would have had a huge crush on Donnie back in high school, had I known he’d existed. But it’s not just the album that amazes, it’s the sweet little story behind it. Hurry and listen, before the YouTube gods strike it with lightning and turn it to dust.

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Around here, worlds are changing rapidly. My daughter has joined the Air National Guard and will be leaving for boot camp any day now. She’ll be gone for seven months, and will be leaving the Grandpea in the care of her baby daddy. Amadeus and I are designated back ups, along with a small circle of other Pea-loving adults. I couldn’t do what she’s doing, but she’s made of tougher material than her mommy. Her view is that she’s sowing seeds for her daughter’s future, and she’s willing to pay the price. I miss her already– her beautiful face, her hardheadedness, her pretty little voice.

Honestly though, all I really want to write about these days is my son. My son, my son, my enigmatic, brilliant, wonderful son. I can’t yet– the things he’s going through are all too close to the bone– so I’m consoling myself by writing about anything but what’s pressing on my mind the most. His struggles fill my heart and my tear ducts. I look for tiny threads of motherly influence to hold on to, but my children remind me (often) that they’re adults now and I have to let them go. So I release the threads and secretly I cry. I stay on standby and try to act tough and semi-detached and nonchalant. I worry from a distance. Though my eldest may be twenty-six, when I look at him I see a four-year-old boy in a Ninja Turtle costume, and I probably always will. It feels horrendous and helpless, this realization that sometimes, as a parent, all you can really do is cross your fingers, sit back, and put your faith in Turtle Power.
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My sister and her husband are coming to visit. This afternoon! For four days! Hoorah!

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I’ve got to go soon, but I want to leave you on an up note, so I’ll relay the following story, which an old-timer told my husband last night. It’s not funny, but it’s funny.

Deep in the Missouri mountains there was once a bar known as Loafer’s Corner. One of the bar’s regulars was a grizzled old coon hunter, a surly guy with an evil temper. One black night, he became particularly drunk and belligerent and was removed from the premises on accounta bad behavior. When the bar closed, the man returned, armed with a live raccoon. He set this raccoon on fire and threw it through the window. The flaming raccoon ran around in a panic, darting here and there, spreading flames wherever he ran, and apparently, he ran a lot that evening. The bar burned to the ground, the man went to jail and everyone lived happily ever after. Except the raccoon.

The end.

I hope you have the most fantastic week.

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P.S. Phil Canon, author of the blog Chime,  recently honored me a Beautiful Blog award!! Phil has a gorgeous, mood-melding way with words, and this is quite an accolade. Thank you Phil!