Monday, March 28, 2016

Let Me Help You with Your Obituary

I got a text from a friend this weekend, telling me that his young daughter had to go to the funeral of a friend's father.

He was so young, my friend typed.

I'm so sorry, I responded.

He had a heart attack on his treadmill.  I really need to get myself in shape.

Now, I'll admit that wasn't my first reaction.  In fact, I was thinking, "Shit.  If he died working out I might as well stay on the couch with my pork rinds."

I don't actually eat pork rinds, but you get the idea.

I don't make it a habit of reading the obituaries, but when I do I'm always annoyed by the fact that most don't say how the person died.  That may be morbid of me, but it's the truth.

I mean, you need to give us a hint.  Tell us to send contributions to the American Cancer Society or  a random rehab center or something.  Give us a little bit of a clue.

If I see someone listed in the obits is elderly I like to think they died peacefully in their sleep, preferably under a Pottery Barn duvet, 600 thread count sheets, their small dog at the foot of their bed for company, and their devoted child who always checks in with them finding them at 7 AM the next morning so as to lay them to rest expeditiously.

That's how I'd like to go. 

So, if you're old and you die and you don't say how you died, that's how I'm going to assume it happened.

Now, people dying young - that's a whole other issue.  And if you die "before your time" as they need to do us the common courtesy of telling us how.

And please...don't tell us the truth.

We don't want you to tell us you were sick because we can get sick.  We don't want you to tell us you had a heart attack riding your bike because that can happen to us, too.  We want to hear you died in a manner in which we never could.  And that will make us all feel better.

For example, here is what I'd like mine to say:

CATHERINE TIDD, age 100, died while training her pet dragon.

I can hear the collective sigh of relief from all of the middle-aged readers thinking, "Well, thank God.  I would never train a dragon so I won't die." 

Then they would take a drag from their cigarettes, down their Bloody Mary, and weave in and out of traffic so they can make it to work on time.


This weekend was an emotional one and I don't exactly know why.  While the kids and I love Easter, it's not one of those holidays for us like Christmas that's steeped in many family traditions.

We dye eggs. We hide eggs.  We eat eggs.

No biggie.

But after a lovely meal at my parents' house, the kids and I came home to relax and I started watching that movie Chances Are with Cybill Shepherd and Robert Downey Jr. about the reincarnated husband and by the end of it I was bawling my eyes out.

I think it was the combination of sappiness and that Cher and Peter Cetera song at the end, but I was just a mess.

It did not help that my son came into my room at that moment and said, "Let's watch the home movie!"

The only home movie we have on tape is from 2004, when he was born.  There are plenty of moments with my husband throughout the movie and I found myself falling a little deeper.

This was then topped by the discovery of a wedding video I didn't know we had that the kids had found in one of our moving boxes from this summer.

And down the rabbit hole I went.

I watched Brad wander around the church, our ushers escort all of our grandparents to their seats (all of whom are now deceased), and my 20-year-old self walk down the aisle with her 20-years-younger father.

As people entered the church I couldn't help but exclaim to the kids, "There's so-and-so!  Oh, my gosh I forgot she was there! And look - there's your dad's friend from Pennsylvania!"

They all watched in silence, but I found myself attending an emotional reunion of sorts.  I so desperately wanted to go back to that day;  not because it was my wedding day, but because everyone was there.  All of the people I loved in one room.

And as I watched myself walk down the aisle I hoped that there was some part of me back then that forgot about the dress, flowers, and cake for one moment and just allowed herself to enjoy being with those people.

She didn't know it then, but there would come a time when she would know that's all that mattered.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Sleepism: The Struggle is Real

I've given it some thought and I've decided to run for office.  I don't know what office yet, but I'm running.

And my main platform?


Now, I realize that this may not be taken as seriously as other isms like racism, fascism, communism, or optimism (for a full list of isms, please click here).  But it is my belief that once this theory is introduced, many people will realize that they have been discriminated against their entire lives.

The belief that rising before 9 AM should not be allowed, encouraged, or endorsed.

This blog comes at a very timely moment on the U.S. calendar.  Last weekend, citizens were forced out of their beds one hour earlier in an effort to "spring forward" (there was no springing in my house this week) so that we could create "longer days."

Yeah.  My days are still 24-hours.  But now I'm dog-ass tired.

I say there is no need for this.  "Fall back" all you want to.  In fact, do it every six months until our days are nights and our nights are days for a little while.  It's nice to mix things up a little bit.

But NO alarm clock should be set to go off before the sun is up.

How did this happen??  Did the person who came up with the 8-5 work day grow up on a dairy farm or something?  What's wrong with a 10-7 work day or work-whenever-you-want-as-long-as-you-get-shit-done-day?

Now, I know you're going to say that plenty of people out there find jobs where they can work on their own time, but it's not the majority.  And I say those of us who are night people who have to adhere to this ridiculous schedule are being discriminated against.

And here's my other issue.  I COULD work when I want to, but I have kids and my day starts well before the sun comes up to get my high schooler out the door. And it really doesn't matter if I went to bed at 9 PM - I'm still literally bumping into walls as I get up to help her get ready for school (this morning it was my kitchen counter).

I can guarantee that all of our children will be on board with this change.  Sure, that will push afternoon activities to 8 PM and dinner at 9:30 PM, but who cares? 


Once elected to my mystery office, I will then propose the requirement of the early rise as a hate crime and those who do not follow the new Night Person schedule will be punished to the full extent of the law.

Thank you for your support.

(I'm Catherine and I approve this message.)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Your Good News Makes Me Feel Bad

I feel guilty about everything.

If I'm hanging out with my kids I think I should be working.  If I'm working I think I should be hanging out with my kids.  And don't even get me started on when I do something just for myself.

It takes me days to get over it.

I don't know if this is generational, gender specific, the fact that I was raised by a southern mother or some combo of all three.

Of course, nothing points out one of your habits like having one of you children pick it up as well.  I've started noticing this about my son; he apologizes for everything.  Even when it makes no sense.  Sometimes I swear he apologizes for just standing still.

And now I feel bad that I'm probably the person who taught him to do that.

I actually notice this about myself the most when I'm at the grocery store.  If I'm grabbing a gallon of milk and someone is standing behind me waiting their turn, I'll apologize. If I'm walking down the aisle and need to dodge out of someone's way, I'll apologize.  If I grab the last good avocado, I'll apologize.

Now that I'm aware of this, I'm always kicking myself as I'm loading my groceries in the back of my car (not literally - that would take coordination I don't posses).  WHY did I apologize??  I had just as much of a right to be where I was as anyone else.  No one else is apologizing.  Why am I apologizing for just existing?

Again, I wonder if this is part of my generation.  We were raised on the tail-end of the "seen and not heard" movement, so maybe that's why.  And it's funny how we apologize for everything, feel guilty about everything, and are raising a generation who seems to not feel bad or take responsibility for ANYTHING.

And for that, I'll say, "I'm sorry."


Your good news makes me feel like shit.  

Not all of it.  It's very specific good news.  But it's a biggie.

A little background on me, for those who don't know it:  My husband was in an accident on his way to work.  He then had a stroke, followed by brain swelling.  A doctor gave me the option of surgery to remove part of his skull, the outcome of which would have been a quality of life I was sure my husband would not have wanted.  I opted not to do the surgery.  Three days later he was declared brain dead.  He was a registered organ donor.

So, a few years later a politician named Gabrielle Giffords was shot.  Her brain began to swell.  Her husband opted FOR the surgery.  She lived (not as she did before, but she seems to be doing well).  I'm very happy for them both.

And I felt like I had been slapped when that happened.

I couldn't stand to watch the news of her recovery.  Every article and interview made me feel like I didn't love my husband enough to even try, when in the moment (and in moments of clarity) I knew I'd done the right thing for him.

Her wonderful, miraculous, incredible news is something I cannot stand.  And that's the truth.

It happened again recently. I was listening to the radio and the announcer started talking about a woman who had been declared brain dead, who was also an organ donor, and who miraculously began to regain consciousness before the transplant took place.  I don't know what her status is as this moment.

But that story made me feel like a murderer.

I'm not kidding.  I sat in my car, hands shaking, thinking, "What have I done?"

Now, rationally I know that every situation is different.  Ms. Giffords's injuries were not the same as my husband's.  I don't know how the second person came to be in the position she was in, but chances are her circumstances were extremely different as well.  And I'm so proud that my husband was an organ donor and helped so many.

But while the rest of the world rejoices at this wonderful news, it actually makes me feel terrible.  Like, stay-awake-at-night-second-guessing-every-decision-I-made-nine-years-ago-terrible.

And then I feel worse.

Whew.  Now that I look back on this blog, it's a real downer for a Monday.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Ramblings of a 40-Year-Old Insomniac

If you're anything like me, you're lying awake most nights worried about the state of the world.

Now, I am a worrier by nature - if there isn't something right in front of me to worry about, my mind will run circles until it finds something.  This can include the big ones: money, health, kids, whether or not my next book will sell or I'll just be a one hit wonder without a hit, and the fact that I'm still awake so I know I'll be tired in the morning which will keep me awake for at least an extra hour.

If I've gone through all of the biggies, then I can turn to the small stuff:  When can I fit in an eyebrow wax?  I need to remember to make an appointment to get the dog's nails clipped.  I've got to remember to get the kids' hair cut this week.

Now that I think about it, a lot of my small worries involve personal maintenance of some sort.

Anyway, last night I found myself lying awake and thinking of the state of the world and that's enough to make anyone an insomniac.  This was after I'd watched John Oliver's take on Donald Trump (or Drumfp as we should all be calling him) which was somewhat funny, but also scary at the same time.

I've never heard a comedian have such a high note of hysteria in his voice.

I know I'm not alone in thinking this is one of the scariest elections I've ever witnessed in my lifetime. The truth is that there have probably been scary elections since the beginning of American history, but social media and the fact that the news doesn't have to be right to be news makes this all the more terrifying.

I think many of us are sitting back and thinking this isn't really happening.  But it is.  And I will be the first to admit that I don't know what to do about it.

So many people joke about moving to Canada (like Canada wants us) and I've even said that to my kids.  But the truth is that the world is so small now that we really can't get away from the mistakes of any country. 

And that's the scariest thought of all.


Of course, this would be my big worry.  The smaller worry last night (let me see...I think this kicked in at around 12:30 AM) was not the state of the union...but the state of the kids I see around me.

Many times I gauge the changes in the world by what has happened since my husband passed.  I know that's weird, but I do sit and think about the things he hasn't been alive to see and wonder what he would be thinking about them.

I know that he would have embraced the explosion of new technology, but I think he would have hated all of the things that have developed with it.

I guess I just need to say what I'm thinking.

We are raising the most narcissistic generation this planet has ever seen.

My kids are somewhat guilty of being this way, but I don't feel like they're high on the scale.  We still have conversations at the dinner table and can sit through a movie without someone glancing at a phone.  My oldest daughter has informed me - THANK GOD - that she thinks it's uncool (do kids still say that word?) to post more than one picture a day on social media so, therefore, her feed on Instagram is pretty slow.
Of course, she's still Snapchatting away which apparently means you have to take a picture every time you text.

REALLY? What a nightmare.  I'm still trying to find the right emojis for my mood (which usually involves that woman doing the Tango.  I don't know why).  I can't imagine trying to take a picture to go along with that. 

Our kids have to know what everyone thinks of everything fifty times a day.  I think it's hard enough to know what my mother thinks once a day - I don't want to know what a gaggle of strangers thinks of the meal I'm eating or my current duck face.  

And I know that every parent out there is doing their best to raise kids to be independent, empowered (that's this generation's 5 cent word), and not care what people think.

While we simultaneously arm them with devices and programs that are designed to find out in an instant what EVERYONE thinks.

How heartbreaking.

For those of you who are in my age bracket (40ish) can you imagine how horrifying it would be to have this kind of technology when we were our kids' ages???  I don't know about you, but I was insecure enough.  This crap would have sent me over the edge.

The funny thing (or not so funny thing) is that we're raising a generation of kids who are much like the politicians we're so fearful of this election:  If they post something and someone doesn't like it, they'll likely either change their post to appease others or engage in some sort of combative behavior in order to get their point across.  They must know at all times what the world thinks of them.  There is no such thing as privacy anymore because we all operate in a public forum.  Our kids' thoughts, work, play, location, likes and dislikes can be accessed at all times.  And they don't know any different.

My God.  What have we done?