When Death Is Stranger than Fiction.

It was bath night.

We had been to the playground, we had eaten popsicles and let them drip down our entire being, we had handled with our bare hands an opossum jawbone found in the wild (another story for another time), and, most compellingly, it was technically our twice a week appointed bath night.

Kids at the Park

There was no escaping it. There was only pushing through it as quickly as possible.

I threw Noah in the tub and started scrubbing his head before he even had a chance to sit down. He wasn’t exactly joyful about my aggressive approach, but complied with my wishes anyway.

Ali came in to prepare for her own bath, when she gave a tiny shriek and said, “A roach!”

There are certain triggers in life to which I cannot be responsible for my feedback. Cockroaches are chief among them. As I’ve mentioned before, Chris knows that if he ever hears me scream like I’m being murdered slowly by butter knife, he simply comes running with a cup.

It didn’t help that the roach was running quite actively down the wall right next to the bathtub, of which my son was in and I was directly on the other side. I jumped out of the way as I let out my sound of fright.

And that’s what did it.

You see, roaches usually like coming out late at night, so Noah rarely hears my war cry, which meant that he didn’t remember ever seeing me truly frightened since roaches are my only nightmare.

Apparently, being three and a half and seeing your mother scared is quite the traumatic experience.

And so, he responded in a completely new-to-him way.

He Mariah’ed the neighborhood.

Seriously. I had no idea he had that note in him. I don’t know what it was but I’m positive it was actually higher than the beginning of any Mariah Carey song and louder than the monthly tornado siren test. And he didn’t stop at just one shriek – he gave five in a row – long, loud, sharp, and exquisitely painful.

My ears. They bled. They rang. They ached. The windows quivered in fear. The judges from America’s Got Talent heard him from their respective corners of the earth and all called at once to beg him to audition.

Then Noah started crying. From overexertion, I’m sure.

Meanwhile, the roach had scampered off of the wall and was on the floor out of eyesight, right behind the Bath Stuff Basket.

Chris heard all the commotion from downstairs and, since I was joined by two other screamers this time, he wasn’t positive of the cause. He came loudly sprinting to see who was throwing us out the window one by one. I pushed through the ringing of my ears to greet him with, “It’s a roach!”, the main purpose in being him not freaking out over us freaking out over nothing.

He told Noah to calm down, told me to move, and then he pushed the basket out of the way.

And there he was.

The villain that had upset the entire balance of our family.

Dead.

Dead as a doorknob dead.

Flipped over on his back dead.

Just twenty seconds ago, that very same roach had been defying gravity, running up and down the wall at Roadrunner speeds, clearly ready and able to participate in a Couch to 5k. And now he was as dead as dead could get.

There was only one explanation, only one possibility as to the cause of death.

My son had killed him with his screech.

And now he’s my favorite forever.

The Cost of Extroversion.

140604 Downtown Inside Out

“Hey…did you know The Redmont Hotel is still open? I mean, who knew, right?”

I groggily recounted this extraordinarily urgent information to Chris at 6:15am Saturday morning. I had not slept all night, and was entrapped in a heavy delirium that later made it impossible to walk in a straight line.

“I mean, I figured that place had been closed for years. Decades even. You never hear anyone say they stayed there! I mean, have you? But Jamie and I Googled it at lunch a couple of weeks ago and it’s still open!! Isn’t that fascinating?”

“Okay…”

“We should really go there sometime. I mean, we should know what it’s like, right? It’s like…a historical marker or something.”

“Umm….What all did you take to try and help you sleep? And at what time?”

I recounted the list of things I took, all within legal and somewhat recommended limits.

“Are you going to be okay today?”

“I hope so! I should get up and run since I can’t sleep!”

This took place between Friday’s Artwalk and Saturday’s Artwalk.

As Chris was leaving for the football game, I tried to set his mind at ease.

“I think I figured it out around 3am. There’s this part of my brain – like a real, physical lobe or something – that I have to use to talk to lots of people. But if it gets activated, it can’t shut down. Like…ever. Or at least for a lot of hours.”

“Please be careful today.”

Despite my lack of mental clarity at the time, I actually think I was right.

I’m an introvert. I recharge by being alone. I like people, but prefer them in small doses. Just like four ibuprofen is the outer limit of how many one should take at once, four people is the outer limit of the number of humans I can relate with at once.

However, when I need to, I can Transformer-Style morph into an extrovert. If I find myself in an extended situation of extreme extroversion, as I was at ArtWalk where I talked to hundreds of people for six hours straight two days in a row, my brain is able to compensate and allow me to become a temporary extrovert.

However. Once that switch is flipped, I become immediately and intensely aware that I can forget about sleeping. Because my brain will refuse to shut off, no matter how many magically delicious melatonin gummies I chew.

It’s not even that I’m thinking – it’s almost as if I can feel my entire brain buzzing. It plays songs on repeat. It has imaginary conversations that make no sense. It will play iPhone games – all in my head. I cannot escape from my brain, and it holds me hostage with no excuse.

The ability to switch back and forth, according to the aforementioned friend Jamie (who is an Extrovertedness Evangelist), is called being an Ambivert. An Ambivert is someone who has both an introvert and an extrovert side, like having a multiple personality disorder without the loss of memory.

And apparently Extrovert Me is an acute insomniac.

I believe this is because I don’t let her wake up very often, and so when I do tiptoe up to her bedroom door and knock softly, asking her to come out and take over for a while so that Introvert Me doesn’t curl up in the fetal position at the thought of talking to hundreds of strangers, she is like “HECK YEAAAASSSS!!! Do you KNOW how long I’ve been locked in this room? It’s been like two years!! PAAAAAAARTYYYYYY!!!”

(For those of you properly educated in the subject of My Little Pony, imagine Pinkie Pie after having found herself locked in a dungeon for twenty-four months. Now picture her delighted, screaming face pointed at the sky. That’s Extrovert Me.)

And then it takes ten bouncers in my head to shove her back into her cell and lock the door.

BUT.

There’s only one thing worse than not sleeping because of Extrovert Me bouncing off the sides of my brain.

It’s if Introvert Me returns too quickly.

Because then she keeps me up all night also…but in complete and utter horror…recounting every conversation Extrovert Me had with every single person I saw, conjuring up ways that I probably offended half of them, confused half of them, and looked like an idiot to all of them.

Because that’s what introverts do.

Partying all night like an extrovert is always preferred.

So. How does your brain work?


Editor’s Note: That very Saturday, Jamie came to see me at Artwalk and said, “By the way – did you hear that The Redmont closed?” My efforts to confirm this rumor have been unsolidified, but seem to point in that direction. So I sure am relieved that I was able to convey that timely information to Chris at 6:15 that morning.
Updated: The Redmont is undergoing a renovation and will be reopened as a Hay Creek Hotel. Thanks to Katherine for the tip.

Short Stories From the Road.

So you drive a Prius.
You park next to me at the bank. With an empty parking space on the other side of you.
The bank has very, very spacious parking spots, too, by the way.
Yet you park so close to me that I literally (and I do mean literally literally and not figuratively literally) cannot get in my car.
You are sitting in your car.
You light up in a goofy grin when you see me TURN SIDEWAYS to desperately reach my driver’s door. You wave happily as I unsuccessfully maneuver my boobs between our mirrors.
I open my car door the full four inches that you have left available to me.
I try to squeeze my body through the hole.
It does not fit.
This. This. THIS is when you realize that you’ve caused this problem.
And that you can be the solution.
Your goofy smile turns into an apologetic spewing forth of words that I can’t hear because – windows.
You wave for me to move out of the way and, to symbolically represent your intentions, you lift up your key ring that is hanging around your neck (Really? Your neck? Who wears their keys as a necklace?)
You put the key in the ignition…while it is still hanging from your neck…and you back up.
Into yet another empty spot in the very empty parking lot.


This may be my favorite find in the history of my online shopping love affair.

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Because it brings up so many fascinating, yet burning, issues.

Do you have to fold this dress neatly and ceremoniously?
Never let it touch the ground?
Do people sing the national anthem when you walk by?
If someone is in the same room with you while wearing a State of Alabama Flag Dress, do they have to stoop down so they’re shorter than you?
To qualify for this dress, do you have to be somewhat talented at going half-staff in case of national mourning?
Can you eat French Fries while wearing this dress or would that just be too unpatriotic? “One order of Freedom Fries, please!”


Sometimes I run by something that makes me want to immediately quit running, get my degree in Sewer Management, and FIX THAT LID.

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Instead, I have a moment of silence, wondering what happened to all the OCD wastewater treatment employees.


I spotted this gorgeous black shirt while out to eat in downtown Birmingham.

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From show-stopping to door-stopping. The rise and fall of Karen Kane fashion.


Aretha Franklin has not quit singing in my head since I saw this.

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And I’ll never hear that song again without loudly yell-singing “NATURAL NAPKIN!!!” over “natural woman.”


I spend a lot of time in the Chick-Fil-A drive-through line.

Sometimes while waiting, I do math. And discover Deep Secrets of the Chickens. Such as, every fourth chicken strip has 10 less calories in it.

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…which makes me want to have this conversation upon my next visit to the drive-through.

CFA: “Welcome to Chick-Fil-A. How may we serve you?”
Me: “Yes. I’d like a four-pack of fourth Chick-n-Strips.”
CFA: “Of what kind of Chick-n-Strips?”
Me: “Fourth ones. You know – the ones with only 110 calories each?”
CFA: “I’m sorry?”
Me: “I would like all fourth Chick-n-Strips. Simply break into four four-packs and pull me out the fourth strips of each one. This isn’t chicken science.”
CFA: “Um….Okay…..I’ll check with my manager.”
Me: “Thank you!”
CFA: “My pleasure.”


I often clip things to my fridge so that I’ll remember them – invitations, schedules, coupons, and other such vital information.

Then I realized that this was also still on my fridge.

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And decided that perhaps my refrigerator is not the best place to put things if I want to actually notice that they’re there – at least within a three year time period.