Criminal Complexity: Hard Knocks Back and Forward

It’s nearly four o’clock in the morning and I am not quite ready to sleep.  I have an article that I want to write.  That I should write.  That… I might not write until… well, at least after this.  This is my treat to myself.  I’d like to think that maybe I’ve deserved it.

Last year was really difficult.  Or rather, the year before were really.  It’s been that way for quite some time.

Oh “time…”

Life has hit me hard.  The top photo was actually taken during a relaxed moment last year… before it all happened.

After it all happened.

Same difference right? Heh.

The inside kitchen wall of my then loft just outside downtown but not quite in an artist colony might make me look like a bit of a hard ass criminal.  Rest assured, that is not true.  You can even check my record if you’re curious.  The funny thing, however,  is that I seem to get the criminal label quite frequently.  Confused?  Read on and hopefully you will understand a bit more.

There is a quote by Butch Patrick (aka Eddie Munster) which just sort of stuck with me since that first time it came into passing:

“I may be little but I’m odd.”

At four foot, ten inches in stature this rang true for me on all sorts of levels.  It’s been the blessing and curse that has followed along beside me each step of the way.

I could potentially have to go into labor tomorrow.  This pregnancy has been an abundance of surprises and complexities.  A test tomorrow at 1 will determine our fate.  So why the hell am I even awake at this hour?

My exes would lead you to believe I’m crazy.  The entourage of potential clients in the background might believe that I might be…

And I think about how much different my life is today than it even was yesterday.  Reeling back to a month ago.  To six months ago.  To a year ago. To two years ago.

And so on.

And so on.

“You wanted this.”

I found scrawled on a piece of paper.

I did.  

I didn’t know it.

I didn’t plan it.

But it was likely there… waiting.

Like that first day I saw my son on that screen.

In the following months that would come into fruition after that night I finally got the guts to leave I would be amazed at the wonders of the heart.  Of the wonders of all of those around me.  Complete with their flaws as well as their peaks.

Nearly a full day week has passed since I started to write this draft.  My doctor’s appointment has come and gone.  Thankfully I am not typing this from a hospital bed.  I’m still at home on my computer… thinking about how to tell those potentials that I might not be available for a week or two to talk, plowing through Amazon looking at strollers and car seats (that won’t be here until after I have my son thanks to crappy customer service and shipping deception), thinking about the next few days hours… and enjoying a bit of the quiet and introspection.

He’s going to be here soon.

I was glowing as I left the appointment.  I am excited.  My doctor let me decide when I’m going to be induced.  Due to the complications with this pregnancy (of which I feel has been about the entirety and theme of it), I have one week day maximum before he must make his exit.

It all started a  couple of weeks or so ago when something just seemed a bit odd.  I didn’t know what it was and I barely mentioned it to my doctor.  Why the heck was I itching so much? Was I just nervous?  Surely it wasn’t all those nonexistent hikes I’ve been going on.

I was told that I have some uncommon liver issue that makes my son’s exit necessary or I could potentially lose him.  They call it cholestasis.  Feel free to click the link and read about it further if you dare.  I won’t be boring you with all the nitty gritty medical details.

My due date wasn’t for several weeks.  I remember joking about it during my pregnancy how funny it would be if he came before/on Halloween.  And now?  Well, hopefully he will.  I go into the doctor later tonight in hopes of potentially having that Halloween baby.

The debatable crazier part?  I might be alone.

Even crazier?  It’d be my choice.

Papa bear will not be present.  I didn’t give him specifics nor will I.  After he’d told me several times about how he wished this baby not to exist, I fought with my heart to tell him anything more beyond my diagnosis and planned induction. Hours left to go and… I still wonder if not telling him more than that is the right decision.  But I can’t be stressed to think about it more than that.  It’s admittedly somewhat selfish but after all that has happened, this is a special moment going to be shared with the one person who always (didn’t know) wanted him to exist.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about my upcoming birth.  He asked me how I was going to get to my appointment tonight.

“I’ll take a bus. No big deal.”

He seemed baffled by this.

“No one is taking you?  Who is bringing you home?”

“I had offers but it’s not that big of a deal.  I can get a bus there. My friend is going to pick me up since she has a car seat already and mine hasn’t come in the mail yet.”

He wouldn’t let me do that.  He offered to take me.  So did others.  I wasn’t going to take any of their offers.  I was ready to do it alone.  I feel like I have been alone for a majority of this pregnancy anyway.  I’d made peace with it.

But I caved.

“Well maybe we could get dinner or something before I go in?”

“Ha.  What do you want for your last meal?”

“Poutine. And maybe some [famous named] ice cream.”

“We should post a FB invite for people wanting to have dinner before you pop!”

I couldn’t really go that far.

And while poutine is magical, there’s still a part of me that wonders if I should just take the bus.  I have some wonderful people around me and… I just think I want to be alone.

 

Going back to how things were once upon a different time ago…

Last year I turned 30.  My then best friend moved up North to Seattle and… I nearly almost moved there myself.  I was doing fantastically.  The year before that had been.. an absolute nightmare.

(I haven’t talked to her much since I got pregnant.  She has mysteriously disappeared from contact…)

Most people enter their thirties and freak out.  I did the opposite.  So much so that I remember that last airport train back when someone asked me about my boyfriend back home and I was glowing when I answered.

“I don’t need one.”

That was, of course, before I met bear.

Fast forward to a few months later.  To coffee shop visits in the early morning and later to that day I let this guy I knew help out with some work around the office. (With results so disastrous I had to fire him only an hour later.)

“That’s your boyfriend isn’t it?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

To the yearly Halloween party at The Studio Bar.

(I wish I had those pictures.)

Greg and Janet (pictured below) host the most amazing holiday parties every year.  Little did I know it at the time but the man I brought to that party (dressed as Hi from Raising Arizona) would be the father of my future child.  And while I wasn’t dressed as a cop to that party, perhaps the baby part was the one thing missing from that costume.  Lord knows that I could imagine that’d be the look on his face when our son (not named Nathan Jr) would have garnered from him if he… actually was going to be present.

 

haha Jena is going to be pregnant

But that’s the way life goes.  It’s unscripted.  And as much as these past couple of years have had their down points, there has also been a tremendous amount of glory in it all.

And maybe that’s why I fight so much.

I get a lot of flack on a nearly daily basis for why I stay here in Los Angeles despite all of the hardships and struggles.  During my pregnancy I was told by several people (including and especially family) that I should just “move away and be a better mother” and that staying was “selfish” of me.  I get talked down to like my choices are that of some sort of criminal constantly.  I have learned who my real support system is.  Who my real friends are.  Who… I was wrong about.  Who… my REAL family is.

So why is being an individual with out of the box ideas something to criminalize?  Why does society constantly feel a need to punish those who are educated in ways of… perhaps the full effect.

Mind.

Body.

Soul.

(I swear I showered and am not a hippy.)

It’s a constant struggle with the world to tell them to… just open their damn eyes.

When my children were here this summer we analyzed the word “monster.”  Our Disney experience was filled with laughter as I asked them why they were not scared of people like Sully from Monsters Inc.

“Because monsters aren’t real mommy.” they told me.

“Oh but they are.”

They didn’t understand.  I talked a bit more about it with them.

“Monsters are real people.  They can be anyone.  They can even be me or you.”

“How?”

“Everyone has a monster living inside of them.  It’s not always a bad thing.  But anyone is capable of being a scary horrible monster.  It’s a choice. “

Later in their visit, my father would start talking down to me condescendingly in front of them.  I said the word again.

“Monster.”

The kids understood.

The same could be said about this criminal complexity.  Anyone can get the title just like anyone could be a criminal.  (Or so at least the Joker tried to prove ala The Killing Joke)

Being an actual criminal though is a choice.

There is so much magic in this world.  There is also so much disaster.  Our society has not “grown up” much as we’d like to think.

We are embedded to think that different is bad.  That it must be squashed, medicated, criminalized, and otherwise reprimanded.

But then there are some lucky, wonderful, amazing people who see through the bullshit and know better.  And these are my friends.  They are the music makers.  They are the dreamers of the dreams.  They are part of my inspiration to keep going towards these dreams and why I am closer and closer everyday to actualizing them all into reality.

One by one.

Day by day.

It’s all happening.

All because I’m making it happen.

Alone.  

that’s ok I don’t need it

…And it’s the best place I’ve ever been yet.

Advertisements

The Gift of Not Gifting

Over the course of time I have become enamored with the idea and action of gifting.  There are so many rewards to the heart with the act of giving.  What people tend to forget is that there are also so many potential setbacks.

Here’s an  image you are likely familiar with if you have been on the internet longer than five seconds.  It is a silly but accurate reminder of what I will be alluding to with this post.

free_candy_van

When my children were here with me over the summer, I wanted to do so much for them.  Any parent should understand how hard it is to be apart from their children even for a short time.  So, when the time came that they were finally here, I wanted more than anything to give them the world.  To get them here in the first place meant the world to me.  In that regard, I am thankful that I was privileged with the company of good friends to facilitate that visit happening including getting them here (despite my ex husband moving cross country without any notice so he could be with the newest woman he met in a video game) and even getting them to Disneyland.

While the material things themselves were wonderful, especially as I was beyond broke and having to tell my children that unfortunately I could not buy them everything, the act of it was far more meaningful to all of us.  Or… at least at that moment.

As more moments passed where my children have been distanced, I have began to abhor giving.  Not because I don’t want to… but because I see the little acts of bribery and compensating techniques that are actually happening.  Giving, especially to children, gives less when it is done all the time.

Both of my sons have had birthdays since my last postings.  I have found myself taken back with disgust for the reactions to giving and lack of giving done to them.

A little bit of a super personal background:

My oldest son is currently living with my father.  It was a decision made years ago as a temporary solution to my ex husband essentially leaving me in a very desolate space.  So desolate, in fact, that I am finally gaining the momentum to…

My younger son and daughter are living with their father.  That situation is extremely delicate and frustrating.  The man stole my children and ran off with them after emotionally and physically abusing me.  My last visit was the first one I had been able to get in YEARS as the man had: told them someone else was their mother, refused to take phone calls, and jumped states and cities several times while he leeched off some woman.  I have been working on this- without assistance- for a long time now.  As you may know, however, Los Angeles (and most of California in general) is a very difficult place to get on your feet.  I have suffered and learned so much from this grand place.

Since that visit, things have been progressively different.   My children know again that I am their mother.  They are very young and are starting to question the world around them.  This is something I have been encouraging and my ex has been discouraging.

(No guy like that wants to hear: Why did you keep me from a mommy that loves me so much and wants to be in my life?)

As the years and bits of time have passed, I have seen first hand how damaging both of the environments are for them.  One of the biggest reasons?  It’s the one thing that I haven’t been able to do a ton due to the lack of free flowing finances… as I have been working to recover from the financial shackles I allowed my ex husband.  Giving has been a cross to bear actually.

My younger son, when here, showed a major addiction to video games.  This is not completely surprising.  I met his father at a gaming company I worked for years ago.  His father has met two women in online gaming since me.  He is clearly focused on gaming…  it is… at a frightening level.  I fear that my son might…

A friend of mine loaned me a Game Boy for the plane ride and while they were here.  As my son didn’t have a portable gaming device, he was enamored with it and didn’t want to let go.  Combined with his learning and developmental problems, this only made me more nervous.  Near the end of the visit, I didn’t want him to have anything to do with the device.  He couldn’t handle the responsibility on even a sharing level and would break down when it was taken away.

As his birthday approached, he voiced to me on a webcam visit that he wanted a portable gaming device for his birthday.  I told him no.  I explained that he had not been able to handle it and, when and if he could show me differently, I would reconsider it.  At this point, he broke down.

“I don’t like you Mom.”

Can you guess what happened after that?  Yep his father and his latest girlfriend bought him one.  They had overheard the conversation.

It was one instance of many with regards to gifts that has bothered me.

When the calls were to initially start, and the kids had left here, the gifts and things I gave them were mysteriously lost.  I sent two cameras out to even get the visits.  They never arrived and there was an excuse for several weeks paired with talking down to me and telling me that my confirmation slips and testing of equipment were simply not true.

Something important given to my daughter also went missing.  One of my grandparents sends jewelry found at thrifts every so often. I found two butterfly pins in a bag of jewelry and decided to do something special for the two of us.

I gave my daughter a pink butterfly pin and I kept a green one. I told her where the butterfly came from. That it was from her great grandmother.  It would be a reminder of each other no matter how far away we were each time we wore it.  I told my daughter:

“No matter how far away we are, when we have these on especially, remember how much your mother loves you and that you are always with me, even if you’re not physically there.”

“You’re not just my mommy.  You’re my friend.”

It was a way to remember the love we shared no matter how much distance was between us.  It was nothing fancy material wise but it was a special bond between the two of us.

In addition to the butterfly pin, I gave her a jewelry box with other little costume jewelry. I told her to make sure she kept the pin safe in the box.

For a couple of weeks after the visit, it was a wonderful and special shared moment. She told me that she had worn the butterfly to her first day at the new school.  I wore it en route to a prospective client.  It was the magic and love of giving.

Not too long after she returned she told me that her father lost the pin.  We had talked about it on our phone calls prior.  He had to have known how special it was to us.  But there it was, coincidentally missing.

Another instance with my kids has been that the kids are always showing me gifts on my weekly webcam visits.  They then ask me when and if I will be sending them things.  It happens every single week.  Items are shoved in front of the camera.

“Mom look at what Tuffles got me.”

“Mom look at this [thing given by my ex husband & his girlfriend]”

It’s always something.  And it was always followed by:

“Mom when are you going to send us more things?”

I found myself responding more and more:

“Gifts are not the measurement of love.  I show you how I love you in ways beyond gifts.  Material things are  great but they’re not important.  Hearts and genuine love are what matters.  Those are the real gifts.”

My ex husband and his girlfriend didn’t like this very much… and the consistency has not faltered.  I await tomorrow’s gift.

Now back to California and my oldest son.  My oldest son knows I have an affinity for fish.  After some casualties, I found myself with an extra small tank.  I wanted to give him this tank and get him some betas.  There had been a whole economical discussion about it and some comical adventures with his siblings (to be written about in a future piece).  He told me that he couldn’t have fish because his grandfather said no.  The tank topic stopped and we went to birthday requests.

My son’s birthday present came from some great timing as I assisted my friends over at Loot Crate.  The box included a Ninja Turtle action figure amongst other geeky treats.  Since this son was named after one of these figures, it was absolutely perfect.  To add to it more, there was a blind box key chain from Futurama in there as well.  There is a very embarrassing story of when my son was a toddler that revolved around the character Bender.  We didn’t know it at the time, but Bender was in that blind box.

For several weeks leading up to his birthday I tried to coordinate something to assist with it.  I wanted to have a pizza party and make decorations with my Preval vFan Airbrush System and center the experience around that (albeit small) gift.  It didn’t happen.  My father wanted to do everything and spared no expense to get the biggest, most unnecessary amount of tokens and gaming for my son and his friends.   Oh and about the fish?  I arrived at my father’s house to find that my son now had a goldfish… and that my father had bought a big tank specifically him now.

My father gloated about all of it.  My son was happy, but ungrateful.  It was frustrating.  I couldn’t say anything until after the fact.  I wanted my son to have an enjoyable time with his friends.  I watched, but kept my distance.  I wanted to allow for some independence and freedom.

When I was to go back to Los Angeles, my son had an attitude about him.  He was unappreciative and showing it.  I explained to my father that this was part of the reason I didn’t want things to be so extravagant.  He didn’t agree.  He just kept gloating about how much he’d spent.

My son and I discussed his gifts when we got back to Los Angeles.  There had been talk of me taking things away as a form of discipline for him being ungrateful.  The talk helped a lot.  I saw my growing little boy in there.  After our talk, he apologized and went back to tell his grandfather that he didn’t like how he was treating his mother.  He remembered that gifts, while great, were not everything.

I have a stack of material things I wanted to give the kids.  I wanted to share some small things with them to show them that I think of them constantly.  But now?  I am now in a position where the act of giving has soured me from wanting to do it… at least in one way.

“I believe more and more in the words I spoke to my children.  Of the importance of the heart and compassion that are far more material than any material possessions.  I struggle daily trying to get to the point where I can give them everything I dream they would want.  But perhaps, especially in this instance it’s for the best.  Perhaps the best gift for them is what I have been doing all along… the real one that they need the most…. and that’s holding back and not giving.