Now is the winter of our mostly content

Everything is generally fine at the moment. I like work, still. I have less worry in general for the kids. I miss them less when they are gone. Missing them is made easier by being at work. The days pass more quickly and at night when I come home and it’s already winter-dark, it feels like I have killed the day in an effective, money-making, useful way instead of spending the day aimlessly doing errands, or hiding in my bed.



We got two kittens, from a shelter near our house. They climb my dresses in the closet and fall haplessly into the bathtub and heave up bits of shoelaces they have foolishly gulped down. They are like most kittens – slightly idiotic, frenetic, always under foot and adorable. They like to cuddle, but hate my forced morning kisses because my mint toothpaste makes their eyes sting. One is orange with swirled markings and the other is pure black and was mostly chosen because we were told he was the only one left of his litter, since people don’t like black cats. The best way for me to commit to anything is to tell me that no one else wants it.

One of our cats died about 6 months ago, from a fast moving and aggressive cancer. Like it is with all pets I guess, it’s sad not just because they are gone, but because they seem to take with you, a part of your history. She was a cat I got when I was still married to the kids’ dad; a part of a different lifetime. I sometimes struggle when I hear someone is getting married or having a baby and I have wondered for a long time why that was. Why is my first reaction not to rejoice? When I hear these bits of news, it somehow reminds me of another part of myself that is gone now; the hope of a long marriage with children always in the house seems quaint now. When I catch myself feeling maudlin over someone else’s celebration I feel mean, dark-hearted, small, petty.

Growling.  As usual.

Eight years old.  Cake made by grandma.

The twins turned 8 in a flurry of parties and presents and pizza and ice skating and expense. The kids’ dad and their stepmother come to these parties, which makes sense. The kids like to have them there. That’s just what it is. But it’s awkward and I always leave these joint events feeling tired and slightly depressed. Arun and I usually snap at one another. The pressure to chat amiably to the other parents picking up and dropping off their children is taxing. These are all idle complaints, worthy of nothing really. A week or so ago, a friend’s father was in a terrible accident and it appears he will not survive. My children are alive, healthy, happy. How great is it that they can have birthday parties? It’s great. My discomfort at a birthday party hardly seems worth mentioning.

Arun is on a new drug. I keep meaning to write about it. It’s almost a miracle, this drug. It took us a long time to find someone who could prescribe it – you need to have taken some kind of special certification to prescribe it. It’s the date rape drug, GHB. The pharmaceutical name of the drug is Xyrem. They are extremely careful about prescribing this. He had to be tested via a spinal tap to see if he has a certain narcolepsy marker (he does) and we had to agree to black out the name of the drug on the empty bottle when we throw it out the empty bottles (we don’t). The latter is presumably to prevent anyone from realizing he has it and stealing it. For raping purposes I guess.

How it is supposed to work is to give him such restful sleep at night that he stays awake during the day. This kind of works though he still needs naps during the day. But I don’t have to violently shake him to get him up in the morning. It is also supposed to help with his cataplexy, (sudden loss of muscle control due to a spike in emotions) though it’s unclear to me how that all works and right now and he is still on a separate drug for that. I generally get vague answers from Arun about the progress of this treatment, party because he doesn’t ask the same questions I do and partially because he doesn’t remember to ask them. There may be other reasons too. We’re different. I want to understand how and if I’m going to get better. It can be exasperating that he doesn’t, at least not in the same way. In any case, what Xyrem does is knock him into what looks a lot like a drug-induced coma. He is instructed to not just take it before bed, but to take it in bed. It works so completely and so quickly to render him unconscious, that he gets into bed and lies down before he drinks the dose. He must wear a sleep apnea machine which, until the Xyrem, had mostly served as something for me to bang my shins on, on the way to bed. He’s had it for a long time, but never really wore it. Now he has to wear it every night, because if you’re in a coma you could I guess, just stop breathing entirely. The machine makes a whooshing Darth Vader-like sound and that’s how I know he is still among the living. It’s like life support-lite. Some nights the noise of the machine (or the anxiety I feel when he passes out before he puts it on) is too much and I trundle down the hall to sleep alone or with one of the kids. The other day, a friend of mine who imagines disaster even more completely and vividly than I do, asked me what I plan to do if there’s a fire and I have to get him out of the house. I hadn’t thought about that at all. Even after thinking about it for a while, I really have no plan other than to somehow chuck him out a second floor window or drag him down the stairs by his feet, banging his head on every step on the way down. He’s that asleep and he’s a full grown man. It’s not like I’m going to be throwing him over my shoulder and jogging my way through the smoke. When I was little, my dad used to do fire drills in the house and my sister and I would pull out the metal peg locks from the old sash windows in our bedroom, hurl the window open, then jump into the dirt and bushes alongside the house. All the while, he held a timer, like that dad in The Royal Tenenbaums. I may start doing this with children, because if I have to get Arun out of the house, the kids are going to have to save their own damn lives.

I have a short story coming out in the Indiana Review. I think they have first publishing rights, but I’ll put it up here eventually. It’s a story that struggled to find a home, though got a few accolades in various contests. I’m very excited that I’ll be seeing it in print.

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4 Responses to “Now is the winter of our mostly content”

  1. Ginny says:

    It’s nice to have you back, Tara! Is Clyde over his Justin Bieber fixation? It looks like soccer has become more interesting than pop stars.

    And big congrats on your story! Can’t wait to read it!

    • Tara says:

      He is over the Bieber fixation. All the Bieber dolls are mostly naked and at the bottom of the swimming pool. It’s a little sad. I still have a tote bag given to me as part of some outrageous ticket package I got to take him to see Bieber when he was just 4 years old. I took it to Trader Joes to get groceries yesterday and tried my best to hide it as I packed my groceries into it.

  2. MFA Mama says:

    Oh, Xyrem. My ex-husband takes it. He actually used it for the rapey purpose at one point, but his shrink was all “meh, bygones” and still prescribes it for him so whatever. I’m glad it seem to be helping Arun.

  3. Marian Allen says:

    BIG congratulations on the story!! And even more congratulations on all the good news. 🙂