Thirteen Tidbits I Learned About TYOGs

My TYOG (with the daisies on her tookus) and her best TYOG friends

My TYOG (with the daisies on her tookus) and her best TYOG friends

After last week’s bleak post on suicide I felt I needed to lighten it up a bit. Nothing will inspire levity like spending four hours with a giggling gaggle of thirteen-year-old girls (TYOGs).

We had our daughter’s thirteenth birthday party this past weekend. What started off as one of the pissiest moments of my week (don’t even get me started on the reservation bungle for our apartment complex’s clubhouse) turned into a multi-hour research project for my two YA works-in-progress. Here are thirteen tidbits I learned about TYOGs.

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Suicide is a Homonym

shutoff valve

Not long ago I found out a man I used to work with was diagnosed with ALS. In my day job, I help employees who have disabilities and need a leave of absence or help performing their jobs because of those disabilities. Naturally he called me.

He was the exact opposite of how I’d be if I just found out I had a protracted, terminal illness: calm, plan-full, laughing, resigned. Although, he did tell me a secret: “I have a wife and daughters, and I have to be strong for them. But when I’m in the shower, that’s when the tears come. I do my best crying in the shower.”

We talked about the company’s different leave of absence programs, medical plans, life insurance, and short- and long-term disability benefits. He told me he hoped he would realize when he was no longer able to work and “bring value.”

“I don’t want someone to have to force me to leave.”

Of course, I wondered what would I do if I were him. And the answer came to me without hesitation, like an eager understudy waiting in the wings.

I would commit suicide.

Not right away.

Not while I was still relatively healthy.

Not while I could still take care of myself.

But right before I felt like I was becoming a burden on my family.

Just before I felt like I didn’t have control over my life anymore.

I knew this because of the man I’d watched die a few years before.

A documentary called “The Suicide Tourist” featured that man. His name was Craig Ewert, and he had ALS. When I say I watched this man die, that’s exactly what I mean. He traveled to a clinic in Switzerland called Dignitas, and with his wife by his side, he drank a lethal cocktail of drugs followed by a chaser of apple juice. A few minutes later, he died.

John Zaritsky, the Canadian director, received a lot of flack for showing the actual moment of Ewert’s death. But he had a good reason to do so: “It would be less than honest if we were to make a film about the process and not actually be able to see the ‘hole in the hat’ as it were,” he said. “We would be left open to charges that the death was unpleasant, cruel or wasn’t even done willingly. People can judge for themselves.”

And I did.

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Over Coffee

Photo Credit: marfis75 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: marfis75 via Compfight cc

I enjoyed our coffee so much last week I thought we’d do it again.

That and I’m still having trouble committing to this post I know I need to write. So as with last week, this week’s post is brought to you by reason number three: Procrastinating writing the post I really want to write but am too chicken.

A Girl and A Gun

You probably saw the news about the nine-year-old girl who fatally shot a gun instructor. I know Arizona doesn’t have age restrictions on who can shoot a gun. I know it was the parents’ decision to allow their daughter to shoot an automatic weapon. And I know she had hands to hold the gun (except when it was on the automatic setting) and fingers to pull the trigger.

But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

I totally support our second amendment rights. I’m for reasonable gun control, but I would stand up with the rest of you if anyone tried to take people’s guns away.

And I still have to ask, what the hell were her parents thinking? I ask this seriously because (1) I haven’t heard/read anything about what made them think this was an acceptable idea and (2) even if I had, I can’t imagine anything they could say that would make me go, “Oh yeah, that makes complete sense.”

Do you know? Do you understand why? If you do, please enlighten me because I’m having a hard time with this. I want to understand, really I do. But I don’t know how to start doing that.

I could get my head around their desire to teach their daughter to fire a shotgun or rifle for hunting, especially if that was part of their family life. Or you might even be able to convince me that her parents wanted to get a jump on teaching her self-defense.

Instead, I’m left wondering: Were her parents terrified that someone was going to take their guns away (even though there’s that second amendment) and, by gawd, they were not going to let that happen so they took their child to a gun range and let her shoot an Uzi?

An Uzi? Really? In what world do those two things—a nine-year old and an Uzi—go together?

I’m struggling here, and I’m not the only one. Help me, please.

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Over Coffee

Photo Credit: marfis75 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: marfis75 via Compfight cc

This week I’m going to start a new featured blog post called “Over Coffee.” I came across this format on a couple other bloggers’ sites. And as hard as this may be to believe, I didn’t add their pages to my Safari reading list or bookmarks. If you read my post last week you understand the significance of that little oversight…maybe there’s hope for me yet. Unfortunately that means I can’t give those bloggers their due credit. Just know I’m not claiming any originality for this one.

I plan to share this kind of post periodically, mostly on those weeks when I’m:

  1. Not jazzed about writing anything in particular
  2. Struggling for just the right thing to write about
  3. Procrastinating writing the post I really want to write but am too chicken

This week’s “Over Coffee” is brought to you by number three. More on that below.

Think of these posts as a casual conversation, one you and I would have over coffee. You know, just shooting the shit about our lives and what’s been going on.

I’m personally drawn to this type of post because it feels incredibly intimate to me. I’d never visited the other bloggers’ sites before, but after reading just one post I felt like I knew them. Hopefully, you’ll get the same sense from me.

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Hoarding: One Woman’s Manifesto

How many of you watched “Hoarders” on A&E? Be honest! I bet most of you. I have. It’s like looking at a smooshed kitten on the side of the road—you can’t help stare at the horror even though you’d rather stab your eyes with toothpicks to keep from seeing it.

Thankfully the docuseries ended in 2013 so we’ve all been spared further heebie jeebies. Until the next equally disgusting reality show comes along. “Dating Naked” on VH1 looks promising. (Is “reality show looks promising” an oxymoron? Are you a moron for watching it? That’s on your conscience…mine is clear.)

Last year my husband lost his corporate drone job and we decided to downsize so we could lead a more frugal and “real” life—and so we could afford the occasional Americano from Zanzibar’s. We went from a 2,300 square-foot home to a 1,400 square-foot apartment. If you want to see an example of what the opposite of our “cottages” look like, take a read through Sharon Hughson’s recent blog post where she let her readers into the world of Portland’s Street of Dreams.

We had to get rid of a lot of stuff, including entire rooms and an entire floor (like a library, fourth bedroom and basement) most of which we’ve realized a year later we really didn’t need.

The point is, I do not hoard. I can get rid of useless, unnecessary crap with the best of them. With the exception of my one vice. My one obsession.

The reading list on my Safari browser.

It is enormous.

It is ridiculous.

It is out of control.

And I blame you, you Internet bastard.

Keep reading for more awesomeness…