Going Dark: Days 17-23. Tide Pods and other obviously bad choices

By now you’ve probably lost interest. Or, maybe you figured that we just cut the cord for real. In less exciting, but very real news, we’ve been busy and I’ve been too tired to type.

So much has happened that I can’t even remember. I had a birthday last week. Then the weather was 65 degrees. Then we made a lot of food.

We’re still getting cards and letters from you all. One awful day, I opened the mailbox and found one million of Gaby’s fancy cards returned. I guess the cardstock was too heavy. So, we’re sorry. She broke down and went to the post office and bought what she needed. Those should be on their way now. And this time, they should get there.

There have been a lot of nice moments: the kids doing homework together at the kitchen table, each one shouting questions at me at the same time. We all played Monopoly Millionaire the other day, too. We’re still enjoying Karuba, even Gaby and I play it when we’re alone.

I’ve been cheating a little. On my birthday I read all of your messages (thank you!). What’s weird, is I feel compelled to respond to each post individually, like I’ve been doing with the mail. That’s a new feeling for me. I mean, social media is so full of people saying things to you and at you. Sometimes we acknowledge them with a thumb’s up. Sometimes, we just let them live there, out in the ether. That’s the cool thing about the letters; they’re very personal. And you feel obligated as fuck to return one.

Once you cheat, even just a little, it sets off a cascade of bad habits. Just. Like. That.

If I set my fitbit alarm (I’ve been getting up at 4:30 and not wanting to wake up the whole house) before bed, I might accidentally hit the facebook app. And then have to throw the phone across the room. Once that happens, you need more.

At work, I’ve let myself check my phone too many times, and that just leads me to wanting to check it more and more and more.

Gaby’s phone is on her nightstand, charging. Before her birthday, it would’ve been downstairs in the basket.

If Cyrus sees a phone lying around he tattles, “Hey, no electronics!”

So, we have just a week left of January. I guess we’ve done it…mostly. I miss Netflix. But I don’t miss Cyrus being glued to the t.v. asking me to play a video game with him. I love not feeling the need to check my phone before bed and as soon as I wake up. Hell, I we’re all guilty of just waking up a bit in the middle of the night and reaching over for the phone. We tell ourselves we’re just checking the time, but then, maybe that instagram icon is there. Or a little message. And we go down the rabbit hole.

One great moment (with photo evidence not included in this post) was when Erika gave Cyrus a make-over. Since her foundation doesn’t really match his skin, he looked a little orange. But his lip color was nice. And his eyelashes are beautiful with mascara. She called him Donald Trump Junior. She even made his hair look windblown and thin.

I suppose that’s it for a while. I’m not sure what else there is to say. I promise, if nothing else, that I’ll write a final post when we’re done.

Hold up. I almost forgot to tell you. Remember when I published the first post and I put our address out onto the internet? Remember, Tia Carla, when you were like, “don’t do that!” And I was like, “eh.”

WEEELLLLLL

This is a bit weird, so bear with me. There is a person out there whom I’ve known but not really known for some years. She worked with me for a semester. Then she wrote a 90 page manuscript about how we met. Like, it had the kind of things I wrote about friends and celebrities when I was 14. “I love her, but in a friend, and totally Christian and nonsexual way.”  That’s the gist of the manuscript. She pursued a friendship, of sorts, with me. She wanted me to read her writing. I politely did what I could for about a year, then just stopped saying anything. After many messages from her, the last thing I wrote to her was, “I don’t want to be friends. Don’t contact me again.” But she did. Many more times and over the course of a year.

She sent me card. Because she reads this blog. And she found my address.

So, kids. Don’t eat laundry detergent, and definitely don’t put your personal information on the internets. Let that be a lesson to you.

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Going Dark: Day 16. Shelter From the Storm

As you’ve heard me say many times now, weekends are the hardest.

This weekend was no exception.

Gaby did a lot of her side hustle. Erika was at her dad’s a lot. That left Cyrus and me a lot of time by ourselves. It’s good to have time when it’s just the two of us. Cyrus got his hair cut on Saturday, of course, and then the hilarious phone call asking for Ben Dover. But.

Sunday Gaby worked from 7-12. Erika was with Gaby. Then there were two.

As usual, Cyrus woke us up early, and repeatedly, asking when he could sleep in our bed. After Gaby left, he climbed in with me. He does this on occasion. I tell him that if he’s going to be in bed with me, he’s going to sleep. “Okay, Mom.”  But then comes the chatter. “Mom, did you have a bully when you were a kid?” “Did you like My Little Ponies when you were a little girl?”  “Did Joe Montana and Jerry Rice retire?”

There was a dusting of snow on the ground, but we got in the car anyway. I drove us to JJ’s Cafe where he had biscuits and gravy, and I ate the chicken friend steak covered in eggs, hash browns, cheese, and gravy. He ate a whole biscuit!  We sat side by side in the booth happily eating and watching big snowflakes fall outside. It was a wonderful time of just the two of us. I nearly cried at the amount of food he ate. I marveled at how he is finally old enough to carry on a conversation. I thought of the times when he was still in a car seat, and a feeding pump had to be taken everywhere. Those times are dead. Really fucking dead.

What I haven’t shared with you is this: Cyrus is eating. Since October 1st, he’s been without a feeding tube in the day time (he got calories through it at night when he was asleep). And since November 27th, when his button broke at school, he’s gone totally without. He’s scheduled to have the button in his stomach removed on March 5. He now has an answer to the question you’ve all asked since his birth. The answer is March 5. Just a few weeks before his 8th birthday.

I’m telling you this because it’s stressful feeding him. He likes to eat, but it takes him a long time. So. A meal can last an hour or more. We have to use a 30 ml syringe to give him a caloric smoothie to supplement what he eats. But. He fucking eats. Tonight he ate a whole pear, and beans, cheese, and sour cream–and he squirted a teaspoon or more of sriracha into it. He ate it all. He said, “I love spicy food.” I’m so fucking proud. It’s exhausting, though. Counting his calories to make sure he gains weight.

Without Gaby, this tube removal would not be possible. When she came into his life 3 + years ago, she worried at his nutrition; he got pediasure through his feeding tube. Four times a day. Plus water. I’d consulted with a nutritionist to see about a more nutritious alternative, but no one really seemed to have one.

Gaby made one. She made a fatty, organic, healthy smoothie that had double the calories and no fucking corn syrup, which is the first ingredient in pediasure.

This was at least a year and a half ago. She fattened him up. But she didn’t stop there. She kept trying to feed him things that he liked, with added oils and fats.

Now, he eats half of his calories like we do, and half with one of many flavored, caloric smoothies. Without Gaby, I’m positive he would still be using pediasure. I can’t believe they feed that shit to people.

But, like I said, the food doesn’t just slide down. He chews forever. Sometimes he chipmunks it in his cheeks. Sometimes he makes some excuse that he has to go to the bathroom or that he’s really tired. It’s a challenge.

And sometimes that coupled with “Hey, mom hey, mom hey, mom hey, mom” and no one else there to absorb the kid energy is enough to make a person feel overwhelmed.

I mean, I struggle with depression and anxiety a bit any way. Loud noises, like talking and shouting, make me spaz out. I do everything in my power to shut it down. Like, Cyrus talkingtalkingtalking or when he clucks like a chicken for ten minutes, or just makes all of those noise while we’re all trying to play Karuba. Sometimes, it’s all too much for me. This weekend was one of those times. And Gaby’s birthday was yesterday.

So, I’d had two days already of a lot of kid time. I have a lot in my life to be anxious about right now, having to do with Cyrus. And, on top of that, birthdays have always been a little weird for me.

Yesterday I woke up to a cat putting his claws in the mattress, then Cyrus asking when he could sleep with me. Then the cat. Then Cyrus walking back in. This went on for an hour and a half and ended around 7:00 am on our day off. On Gaby’s birthday.

So, Cyrus and I made coffee. Gaby had some, turned on her phone, and got exactly one million phone calls from her family all across the world. She retreated to the bedroom, leaving just Cyrus and me again. He demanded we play balloony ball. I tried to clean up the kitchen as a birthday present for Gaby. He “hey mommed” me the whole time.

I’ll get to the bottom of this story now. I was grumpy all day but trying not to be because it was Gaby’s birthday. I know my history of not really liking birthdays, so I thought I was trying extra hard to be happy for her. We all went outside in the super cold and played snow volleyball and snow soccer.

Mom and Dad came and we all went out to dinner. Dinner was amazing. Cyrus even at salad. He ate fucking lettuce with shredded carrots. He called himself a baby brachiosaur. He roared and ate more vegetables while the rest of us shoved bloody steaks into our mouths.

And then a piece of cake came. With a little candle. And Mom and Gaby were singing happy birthday, quietly, and I started feeling that anxiety that I can’t describe to you, you just have to have it to understand.

I blew out the fucking candle.

I snuffed out my love’s birthday.

I’m telling you this intimate detail because I’m ashamed. And maybe you’ve done something just as shameful. Maybe you’ve also wished for just 20 minutes of silence from your beautiful child. Maybe, sometimes, everything can feel like too much and you do something utterly stupid.

Or maybe it’s just me.

So, it felt like a long weekend. There are no screens to hypnotize my child, so I must figure out how to make him have some time to himself. There are no screens for me to sit in front of and live somewhere else.

I have to be right here, with myself, by myself, with all of my feelings.

The woman who snuffed out her partner’s birthday.

Without Gaby, my son would not be eating on his own. Without Gaby, I wouldn’t be eating so well with such small amount of effort. Without Gaby, there would be no Erika, no too-loud laughing, no one to check me when I’m wrong. No one to fight by my side, guns a’blazin’ when I’m right.

Tú eres mi refugio y mi verdad.

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This is me after a half mile walk from my office to my car, after a long, screenless weekend.  I didn’t realize until today the lines I’ve earned under my eyes.

 

 

 

Going Dark: Day 13. Ben Dover

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Thursday was pretty awesome, and I meant to tell you then, but time got away from me. Due to a quick change in the weather-55 and raining to 30 degrees in just a few hours-the university sent people home at noon. So. Awesome.

Gaby and I cheated. Just a little. I sped to Hy-Vee when it was just around 34 degrees to buy us some frozen egg rolls. It’s only fair on a snow day to splurge a little, right? We discussed making our own eggrolls, since that’s the goal of this month, but when we realized we’d be alone, with no children (they were at the other parents’ houses), we decided to really take advantage of our time together. Or, as it turned out, the several hours we spent apart. I spent my time in the basement and Gaby was upstairs. Then we spent some time together. I made some martinis. We watched the rain become ice on our deck. We went to bed early.

Friday, well, I worked and so did Gaby. After work on Fridays, we like to go to happy hour, so we did that. We got home around 8. Erika talked to us for a while about teenage things, and then, exhausted, we went to bed.

The thing is, not having the internet and tv just seems kinda normal now. I feel like there isn’t much to write about. We’re almost half way now. It’s easy. I feel like we did it already.

But I still need to tell you this:

We’re communicating with more people now than we did before. We get several phone calls a day and usually a couple of letters. Gaby is meticulously producing cards every night. We’ve nearly used up the stamps we had. We love it.

Something too hilarious happened tonight when I was tucking Cyrus into bed. The phone rings. Gaby answers, “Who, I’m sorry?”  Then she says, “Ben…Dover?”  I tried my best not to crack up as I kissed Cyrus good night. I wondered who could be pranking us, and a had a good idea. Gaby laughed sooooo hard.  It was Natalie, Alison, and Helen. They were trying to reach Erika and said they spent a long time googling pranks that were PG. We told them when she’d be home, so they’re planning something even better.

 

In other news, not really related to us not having the internet, and maybe in violation of our goals, I submit this:

Yes. It’s adorable Cyrus. But it’s also the first time he’s allowed Amy to use the clippers and not just scissors. Because of the preemie stuff, and subsequently the helmet he had to wear a long time ago, he’s had some sensory issues with his head.  I’ve tried to bribe and beg him for years to let us use the clippers to give him a cool haircut, but he never could. Today, for some reason, Amy asked what he wanted and he said, “a mohawk.”  Amy looked at me for permission. Of course I said go for it. When she brought out the clippers he said, “Phew, Finally!!!”

I’m so proud of him that I cheated and uploaded this picture from my phone, which is not supposed to be turned on. Oh, well.

Anita Braik.

Going Dark: Day 10. One Third

A1xQKspxS0L._SL1500_It’s January 10th, so day 10 of our challenge.

We’ve gone 10 days without tv, tablets, video games, and cell phones at home. We’re 1/3 of the way through.  That might not seem like too much, but hey, it’s almost half. I guess.

Tonight Erika, Gaby, and I finally whipped out our new board game: Karuba.  Gaby was very wary at first, as she really doesn’t like board games and always says no. Erika groaned, even though she really does like them (and begs for us to play with her)…usually. I guess when an adult suggests it, it’s not as fun.

Erika called her dad. And this was a lovely moment. She grabbed two barstools and lay back, hanging her head off one end, her curly hair nearly touching the kitchen floor. She giggled. She complained. She twirled the phone cord around her finger. Gaby and I were like c’mon, let’s play already. And she totally said to her Dad, “sorry, my mom is begging me to play this game, so I have to go.”

Classic, vintage, teenage girl on the phone. She might as well have had a facemask on and nail polish at the ready.

Anyway, we started the game, and it didn’t take long before everyone was into it. But minutes later, we got a phone call from Alison and Natalie (old rugby friends of mine who visited the other night and told Erika what the yellow pages are and how to use them). They called to talk to Erika and only Erika. hahaha. We also got a post card in the mail from them today, from Hawaii! And we got another postcard from Audra! And she didn’t realize how small postcards were and apparently wrote another card immediately following.  So, that’s two pieces of mail from her.

Anyway. We played the game. Three times. And there were only three of us here tonight. And we’re 1/3 of the way through the challenge. There’s meaning here somewhere. I don’t know what it means.

*just now Gaby says, “I kinda wanna play that game again.”*

I’ve just asked Gaby what she has to say after 1/3 of our journey. She admits that she still wants the t.v. right before bed. She wants her show. Just a little bit. Just a little. She can quit any time.

I miss being able to see your posts immediately on facebook. When I post this, it publishes automatically to facebook and twitter. I have to wait until the next morning, when I’m waiting for my work computer to turn on, to see what people might’ve said.

Erika misses watching t.v., too. What she means by that is lying in her bed and watching Netflix on her laptop. Just now we asked if she liked playing the board game. She says she does, but says we can do that any time. When I suggested Gaby might be playing on her phone during the game without our challenge Erika said, “now the cards are her phone.”

Sometimes the thirteen year old yells about not having internet. Sometimes the thirteen year old is wise beyond her years.

See, there’s that number 3 again. I knew it meant something.

Going Dark: Days 8 & 9

Oh. Hi there.

I didn’t write last night because I didn’t have too much time. I’ve decided to work out. And I’ve decided to do it at 5:00 am. So, as you can imagine, I wanted to sleep a bit.

One of the great things about no cell phones at home is our home phone and Cyrus’s love of answering it. Any time it rings, which it seems to quite frequently, he screams, “I GOT IT!” Just like my childhood. He runs to answer it. “Hellllooooo,” he says in the way a 75 year old man would who is in the middle of smoking a cigar and hard of hearing.

The other cool thing, which Gaby just reminded me of, is how wonderful it is that the kids treat the home phone like it’s theirs. There is no caller i.d., so a phone call is exciting. We don’t know who it is. Mom and Dad have been calling Cyrus there a lot, and Erika’s dad only calls our house number now. Erika pretends she hates all of this, but I know she’s really enjoying having a phone. (Did I mention she doesn’t have her own, anyway? Which is unheard of for a 13 year old these days). Gaby also taught her how to *69. Mary, Gaby’s friend, called one night and told her how to pick up the other phone and listen in on phone calls. Erika’s mind was blown that this was even possible. Unfortunately for her, Gaby and I both have a lot of experience in this area and so we’re very good at detecting when the other line picks up.

So last night the phone rang, and Cyrus answered. Then I heard him say, “Who are you?” And then he said, “Chris?” And then I saw his face scrunch, like he couldn’t even be bothered with such a ridiculous phone call, especially since it wasn’t for him. He was ready to hang up, but I grabbed it from him. Phone etiquette is something we’re going to work on.

I was happy to hear the voices of some of my rugby teammates. They were all at McNally’s celebrating another teammate’s surgery. I asked them to talk to me like they were posting in the group facebook page. Instead, we had more of a real conversation. They said they missed me and wondered if our experiment meant I couldn’t come out to the bar. I don’t think it means that, but it’s funny that I do feel a bit isolated. I don’t get news the way I used to. I mean, I still listen to NPR when I’m driving to and from work, but I miss out on the other stories that I used to see on Facebook and then try to investigate.

There’s no constant stream of information and updates. My phone no longer makes 6 different noises that I can’t decipher. I no longer sit half-listening to what my family is saying while I’m wondering who texted, tweeted, instagramed, messaged, whatever. I don’t have constant hatred, either, wondering what the fucking cheeto-faced leader is doing. So, that’s really nice.

I got another card in the mail last night from a very good friend’s aunt and her partner: people I’ve met once. And just now I see that someone I don’t know commented on my blog that she was really enjoying reading.

As I told you, this weekend was very challenging. Weekdays are just fine. Only occasionally do Gaby and I stare longingly at the tv in our bed room.

I think after our month-long challenge, we’ll not only have better habits, but maybe make it a rule that no screens are allowed during the week. Or maybe not before dinner. Or some other big restrictions. We haven’t really decided yet. I mean, we’re only 9 days in.

The next big challenge will happen this weekend. We have a three day weekend and Gaby will be working quite a bit of it. That means me, “hey, mom,” and “this is the stupidest idea ever” will be hanging out a lot.

The weather is supposed to be more than 5 degrees, so I might resort to the phrase I heard from adults when I was growing up “go play outside.”

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Going Dark: Day 7. “Hey, Mom”

It started some time when it was still dark. The pitter patter of little feet and then the noise of something being knocked over. A light touch on my shoulder, “hey, mom, can I sleep with you?” I’m guessing this happened about 7 times this morning before I relented and opened up the covers. We lay there just a minute. “Hey, mom, do you like Yadier Molina?” So. He and I got up to make coffee. It was 7:50.

The day is a blur of laundry and “hey, mom. Do you want to play baseball?”  And then maybe I put on a record and “hey, mom. Do you like the Kansas City chiefs?”  Then I cooked some food and was “hey-mommed” roughly 35 times. I can’t how many times it happened today. It seems that Cyrus is having trouble, still, finding things to do by himself. I love him. But I can’t engage with him all the time. At one point, he was so solidly on my lap, that he was in my face. And then came a cat. And then another cuddled up next to me. I jumped up and tried to get away, for just a few minutes. I was followed. Gaby tried to help. I did get 25 minutes to myself. I lay on the bed and stared out at the freezing rain.

That was my whole day. I cooked a little. Gaby cooked a lot. She crafted more cards and letters. She did some work, too. I wanted to turn on the tv. SO MUCH.

I should mention that Erika was at her dad’s all weekend enjoying television and video games. She, suddenly, is requesting to be there more…

This morning, Gaby said something really wonderful to me about the desire to communicate instantly. I made her write it down. Here is Gaby:

Share this thought? No, not that thought. How about this one? No, too personal. I need to sound clever. I need to say something meaningful. I need to post the best picture. I need to share an article that speaks on my behalf, instead. Like, this. No, Love it. Sad. Happy. Sad. Happy.

The best part about Going Dark? That constant noise in my head has gone silent. It feels so good.

I’ve also noticed how addicted I’ve become to instant responses: whether its posting something on social media and checking to see comments, or it’s looking for the “read” update on instant messenger which immediately tells me someone’s looked at the message I’ve sent. Did they read it? What are their thoughts? Respond. Respond to me, now. The same goes for text messaging and my Whatsapp. It’s exhausting.

I’ve been writing letters by hand. It takes away the burning need for sharing current situations or instant thoughts in order to fix a need to be validated, to be seen, or be heard. I wonder how many people agree with me. I wonder who’d dare to disagree. By taking away the option to share my thoughts instantaneously, I’ve made myself fully responsible for my own thoughts. Meaning, I have to have a conversation with just myself about how I feel about things. I can no longer opt to dump thoughts on social media friends, hoping they’ll sort it out for me.

How do I know that I’m addicted to instant-responses? shortly after I write a letter, I find myself stressing over how long it will take for recipients to get the cards, with the notes. When will this letter get to them. Ugh. It will be forever from now since they’re still sitting on that table. It’s Sunday, I have to wait until Monday for the slow-process to even start. I could just send a quick text.

Writing a card is a shift in the thought processing. I start writing a simple idea, like, how wonderful the house smells (or, how hard it is to use a glue gun.) Before long, the card is totally filled with tiny, hand-written words. Most of the time, I write about how fun, and also how much it hurts, to be writing by hand. If I make a mistake, for instance, I write about what I should have said instead, and the fact that I made that mistake. Since I do not get to delete it and start over. You may think that I could simply grab another piece of paper and then, start over. I can’t because I’ve also been making my own cards, which takes quite a bit of time, and has become my new favorite past-time. I have not done this many crafts since I was a child. It is so wonderful. Once I start writing on the handmade cards, there is no turning back. What’s on it, is on it. There’s no grammar check. No ctrl-a-delete. And so, it requires me to be more attentive, more careful with the writing itself. Rather than thinking about what reaction I will get from the written ideas, I think about whether the cursive r looks like a v or why it seems harder for me to write cursive in English than in Spanish.

I’d need like 10 cards to fit all of the text I’ve typed so far.

I’ve been spending a lot time building our homemade pantry.

My attempt to make Cheez-its for Cyrus, was successfully delicious. Although, he proclaimed we simply cannot call them Cheez-its because that is not what they are at all. He’s right. My version is crispier, and less orange. They are more like a saltine.

I’ve been making old fashioned white bread loaves. Starting with a fermentation process called a sponge, or dough starter (this is what makes the house smell amazing,) the 12 hour process is worth every second. The final product is a bread that is unlike any commercial brand. Flaky, soft, and a flavor that’s deep and rich. If you’re in the Columbia area and want a loaf, let me know (call or postal mail.) I will gladly share a loaf with you. If you’re outside of Columbia, and willing to pay for overnight shipping, I will send it to you. The shelf life on this bread is 3 days tops. Thus, it should be eaten right away.

Yesterday I used some of the same fermented dough to make hamburger buns. Today we made cheeseburgers for lunch. The patties, a blend of 100% grass fed, locally sourced beef, and  ground pork of the same quality, seasoned with alino preparado, and salt. Seared on a cast iron skillet with butter. Then, we melted aged white cheddar cheese on top. I ate mine with onion, mustard, mayonnaise, and ketchup. Christina added avocado on hers.

That’s all I have for now.

***

Hi. It’s me again.  I agree with all that Gaby says about instant gratification regarding posts. I’m dying to engage with all of you on facebook to see how you’re responding to my blog. Maybe I’ll check tomorrow at work. Just really quick.

Just now. Gaby has burned herself for the 3rd time with the glue gun.

I feel bad saying this, but I’m looking forward to going to work tomorrow. The weekday nights are much easier than full weekends with no screens. At work, I know I can put in my head phones and have no one call me mom for the whole day.

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Going Dark: Day 6. Raw Power

As I kinda predicted, today was maybe the hardest day without screens. A quick summary goes like this: woke up at 5:45 because Cyrus was asking to sleep in my bed. He kept coming in the bed room until 7:22. Got up to make coffee. Gaby got up. He and I started playing Monopoly Millionaire.  He chirped and quacked and made all sorts of annoying noises while we played. It was maddening. I drank coffee. Somehow, all of this, plus laundry and vacuuming lasted until 1:00.

That’s when the mail came. And we had two letters! We read them aloud and felt super touched that anyone would write to us. (Thanks Kim and Carla!) When we were done, it was 1:30. Gaby and I planned on taking Cyrus to see Star Wars, but he kept complaining that it was inappropriate for him. At one point, I heard him talking to himself or his sleep buddies in his room, “fine I’ll see it if you want me to have nightmares there are bad guys and people getting their heads cut off and i’m not supposed to watch it but okay fine if you want to make me have nightmares.”  He then came into our room while I was folding clothes, “Mom, it’s up to you if you want me to have nightmares.” Like. Totally guilt tripping me.

Anyway. You might be wondering how we came to know the movie time. WELL LET ME TELL YOU. I had to use the yellow pages, which, thanks to Natalie and Alison visiting the other night, Erika learned a little bit and I got a refresher. I looked under “movies,” and found the theatre. I called the number, a person answered, so I got nervous and hung up. I was expecting a recording of the movies and showtimes, but no, a person said hello. Hell no.

Then I told Gaby about the problem. You see, I have some phone anxiety. I admit it’s worse in the era of the internets. I just wanted to google the damn thing. But. This time, Gaby said she’d talk to the lady. I called. She asked about Star Wars. The woman gave us a phone number. We called. It was some medical appliance store and totally not the movie theatre show times. Gaby called the real person back. The real person told her the show times.

Anyway. We read the letter aloud and headed off to get some groceries before seeing Star Wars. The whole time Cyrus kept asking about the damn movie and when we were going home and reminding us how scary it was. So. We didn’t see the movie because we didn’t want to listen to him berating us the entire time or saying, like, “this is inappropriate for me” while we were trying to enjoy the film.

This is when things got hard. We came home. Between groceries and home, Cyrus had fallen asleep. Gaby and I admitted that tall we wanted to do was nap/ turn on the tv and relax. We knew if we cheated Cyrus would totally tell on us, though. We contemplated. We didn’t do it

The afternoon was filled with the two of us trying to nap while Cyrus ran around playing ballooony ball. Gaby made more bread. The house just smells like bread all the time now. It’s amazing.

After the bullshit nap, we went to the dining room table. I wrote a reply letter. Gaby made fancy envelopes. Like, tons of them, so be ready, people. Cyrus worked in his activity book, but mostly bothered me.

There was a glue stick crisis, so he and I went to Wal-Mart.

But then.

We got home around 7:00. Gaby was working on her envelopes and writing letters. Cyrus was making all of the weird noises he likes. I put on a record: Iggy and the Stooges’ Raw Power. I’ve owned it a long time, but I don’t listen very often. As soon as “Search and Destroy” came on, Cyrus was playing air guitar. He ran over to look at the album cover. It’s this:

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“Wow,” he said, “Iggy Pop is really good. I want to learn this song when I get an electric guitar” For the next hour we listened, played air guitar, discussed garage rock, and played balloon baseball in the living room. “Is he friends with David Bowie?”

On occasion, Cyrus would go over to the turn table and look at the album cover. “Is he a boy or a girl?” I’d say he was a boy wearing a make up. “He’s really good, Mom.”

And that leads us up to bed time.

Without no screens, I wouldn’t’ve played this album for my son. Without no screens, we wouldn’t’ve both danced around while slapping a yellow balloon back and forth while Gaby crafted at the table and made bread.

This is where I end the writing. This is where I say something clever about today’s struggles and the wonderful time before bed and Raw Power. Raw Power is Gaby’s ability to make the dough rise and the bread to turn out. Raw Power is me slapping a balloon with all my strength to have it travel 5 feet while sipping whisky and pepsi. Raw Power is us operating this family with a corded landline phone and record player.

Raw Power lit something in Cyrus to make his eyes sparkle.