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5 Sep

As I walked the dogs this morning, I thought of the many ominous lists of “to do’s” which exist in the realm of stress alleviation (ok, so they’re not so ominous–but when you’re under much stress, having one more thing to do can seem like it comes from the devil himself).  Do get adequate sleep.  Do eat healthy (a subjective suggestion I assure you).  Do exercise.  Do breathe deeply.  Do yoga.  Do relax.  Do, do, do.  And I thought to myself, “I can’t handle any more things to do.  My proactive, reactive, tendencies are already maxed out!”  Thus I have decided to compile my own list of “to don’ts”…right here Bent style.  Therefore, for stress relieving purposes:

  • Don’t leave the house before 9 a.m. on the first day of ‘back to school’.  Better yet, take that first week of school off of work and don’t drive at all.  In fact, don’t drive anywhere in southern California–at any time.
  • Don’t eat McDonald’s chicken McNuggets, a cheeseburger, and french fries and expect to “feel good” afterwards (though the Paul Frank Happy Meal toy does help distract from the stomach ache).
  • Don’t eat McDonald’s at all, especially if you already are having trouble with how your clothes are fitting your newly expanded physique.
  • Don’t walk dogs and count it as stress relieving exercise…dogs are needy and they poop, and the poop needs to be picked up, and if you don’t pick it up someone is always watching, and if someone is always watching that stresses you out more because now you know they are judging your bad picking up poop habits.  This is a definite don’t!
  • Don’t go sailing on a sailboat in stormy weather when you are an inexperienced sailor and your husband is an inefficient teacher.
  • Don’t take up smoking…not even if they are the sweet laced kreteks in the cherry flavored package.
  • Don’t give yourself a home permanent (not that I would, but while under immense stress, one never knows).
  • Don’t give yourself a home “facial” (aka pick your face apart via cleaning out every pore with your fingernails).
  • Don’t watch reruns of Gilligan’s Island, there are just too many discrepancies in the writing and background story that offer themselves to be picked apart…not a DE-stressing move I assure you.
  • Don’t eat too much cheese (this one is optional–eat away if you like spending a lot of time in the loo).
  • Don’t call your mother ‘just to check in’, because she will fill you in on the latest blood type studies that suggest peril for your future.

Well that should do it for now.  I feel quite accomplished.  I began my list with not leaving the house and ended with not calling “mom”.  Most of the above have been run through by me while under a great deal of pressure.  And though abstinence, from driving, is not an option in my life at this time, it is safe to say that implementing the use of cuss words in rapid succession helps to offset the stress imposed by other drivers.  Dang, I should have learned that one long ago as my driving instructor, my sister, has been utilizing that particular stress reliever for years.  Apparently I am a slow learner.

And while I was just about to close this post by wishing us all a great start to a new week, I am reminded (by my son) that today is Wednesday.  Most definitely NOT the beginning of the week.  So one more item to add: Don’t trust my judgement on the subject of stress, perhaps consult a ‘to-do’ list instead.  …happy mid-week!

A Stressed Rivka

All stressed out and somewhere to go!




Hungry, Hungry, Hippos, Alex the great, & Evita

31 Aug

Does anyone remember the Hasbro/Milton Bradley children’s board game ‘Hungry, Hungry, Hippos‘?  The reason I bring it up is because I have felt like I have been living inside that game these past two weeks.  Or maybe more accurately, a gopher bop game.  The “fun” machine that features a gopher popping up out of a hole (in the board surface) and the player using a cushioned “bopper” to whack it back down.  In both games, the winning strategy involves swift and striking, calculated movements.  With the object being to either hit as many gophers as possible or eat as many marbles as possible with the hippo head–violent hand maneuvers subject to a time clock.  And guess what?  Within both analogous childhood recreational games, I am either the gopher or the marble.  Itch, itch, itchy, itch, itch…I must pause to pacify my epidermal irritations.

So why write about subject matter that is so heavy, as in my last post?  Why bring down the various readers with my muck?  Well for the most part, shoot…there is no most part and I have backed myself into a literary corner by suggesting it so.  Essentially, this blog is where I live out whatever it is I am living out.  Which brings me out of the corner to the thoughts I wish to discuss.  Health.  In this case health of mind, health of relationship, health of family…my health.

I do not want to be the “gopher or hippo” in life.  The other day I wrote my “Every Once in a While” post in the morning.  I wrote it from a fairly heavy place–emotionally.  But I wrote it in the morning, and the day just continued to get worse, meaning, I was the gopher and whoever was the player had the lead in scoring points.  It went like this:

I left the house with Cole resting and ventured to the United Fifty ( shop where Brian was working.   I was so down my stomach hurt so I didn’t make myself a lunch.  I spent some time with Brian, when our daughter and a couple of friends dropped by for a visit as well.  But my stomach just wouldn’t relent so I declared I was heading home.  As I backed my car out of my spot I hit the curb.  The curb which was covered by a metal grate that slashed my back tire.  I called Triple-A (AAA) who came and put on my spare and then I drove to the tire store.  The mechanic fit me in but had a pressing need to pick up a vehicle from another client and I was pulled into the errand.  That errand ended up being a 3 hour excursion making me miss my Spanish class.  And by the time I returned home it was 6:45p.m.  Brian was preparing dinner for himself and Cole and wondering what took me so long.  No big deal except that I was a bit worn out and the tickets we had for the evenings performance of “Pageant of the Masters” in Laguna Beach ( were not strong enough to rouse my energy level to the point needed for me to attend.  Hence, we didn’t see the show (tonight is this seasons final performance).  And if that is not enough for one little female to handle, my day offered an additional infraction.  I had purchased a “Groupon” for two 90 minute, therapeutic massages for a mere $99.00.  An absolute steal (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the world of massage).  I purchased them because both my daughter and I hold much of our stress in our shoulder muscles and while they should, in fact, be fibrous tissue, ours are more in line with the rock of Gibraltar.  So while visiting my husband I called the spa to set up our appointments.  Only the nice lady (owner of the spa) informed me the Groupon was to be used by only one person, it could not be “shared” by two differing names.  Well I did what any martyr mother would do, I gave the Groupon and the TWO, 90 minute massages to my daughter.  And at the end of the day, I wanted to cry.  I wanted to pout.  I wanted the spa owner, the Pageant of the Masters owner, the tire shop owner, Cole, my daughter, my husband and the rest of the world to feel sorry for me.  Especially as I felt sorry for myself.  Especially as my husband and I were still a bit emotionally downtrodden due to the A-bomb Cole had previously dropped (see last post).   …poor, pitiful, me.  I am a gopher.  I am a marble in a Hungry Hippo game.  I am hit (sounds more like a scene from the Milton Bradley game, Battleship, if you ask me!).

Now yesterday, I found myself again very low.  At the brink of tears.  And I realize the cause.  I have been carrying the weight of my son’s emotional health upon my shoulders.  This is a natural ramification of him returning home from the hospital, in May of 2011, regressed to his infantile physical state.  Being his caregiver and with him throughout the day and evening, I invest much time and energy into keeping his outlook positive, healthy, and forward thinking.  But I also do that with my daughter and with my husband as well.  Heck, I do it with myself and anyone else who G-d sends along my path–provided I can.  So it was, yesterday, that I realized “this needs to stop”.  This being, my happiness dependent upon the happiness of my children/husband and more specifically, my son.  Especially if my son, for whatever reason, cannot find true joy in this life (though I will not quit my investments in helping him pursue it).  This is not a new epiphany.  I was at this place when Cole graduated high school and joined the Marine Corps.  Many of you readers have moved on from this place long ago with your own children.  I believe I am here again because I, in a sense, was returned to my previous role as ‘hands on mother’ to Cole.  And now as he gains stability within his new physicality, my ‘hands on’ needs to let go…again.  Additionally I have my daughter transitioning out.  The road ahead is still a ways down, but we see it on the horizon and are experiencing the appropriate sentiments connected.

I am at a loss when it comes to time frames, suffice to say that at some point while revisiting my mishaps from the previous day, I thought to myself,  “This pitiful ranting sounds awfully familiar!  It sounds like the character, Alexander, from the children’s storybook, ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.’  Which means my plight is not a new one.  My whining about it just compounds the sadness within me.  And, it “even happens in Australia” (a pertinent line from the book, for those of you unfamiliar with Alex).”  Well folks, I don’t want to be like Alexander.  I don’t want to live life as if swinging from an emotional pendulum which is out of my control.  And though I contemplate the ‘much and many’ in this life, the good Lord has truly given me a disposition of positivity…for the most part.

So yesterday evening, both Brian and I took a walk at the beach.  Crystal Cove in fact (see post titled, Crystallized).  And we both were fantasizing about running away for a spell.  But to where?  For how long?  I wanted a month, he felt a week would do the trick (I told him he is wrong!).  However, the reality of us taking a vacation this year is nil to none.  And together we decided that we need to invest in “fun” for ourselves and with each other–right here where we live–just as we were doing so together at the Cove.  Because at the end of the day we are married to each other, we are not married to our children.  It is most perfectly natural that Cole and Esther will move on from us because they did not choose us.  Our hope is that they will like us and want to visit from time to time.  It also donned on us that we hope we like them.  The last statement being most profound because I never truly evaluated any other possibility in life.  I truly hadn’t considered the possibility of not liking my own children.  Because the majority of my joy, these last 21+ years, has come from time spent with them.  Itch, itch, itchy, itch, itch!!  And what if I don’t like them?  …I will always love them, so it doesn’t matter.  But life will definitely be more fulfilling if they end up being people I enjoy being around.  That is just the pure truth of  it.  It will also be an added “life bonus” to have them find enjoyment in time spent with their father and me.

This is one long post!  I expect not one reader to even make it down to this line because I am sure each and every one of you has enough soap in your opera without needing to blast through an ounce of mine.  But if you did make it, thus far, I want to clue you into a promise I have made with myself (though I might forget I have done so).  Well more of an intention of mine than a promise.  I hope, if I can remember, to keep my writing from delving into the sad, sad places of my soul.  Not because I have to, or because I am hiding those places.  But because I do not wish to dwell in those places.  And because I typically don’t (dwell there).  Yet when the darkness is published, it quite possibly remains in the present tense.  So let us talk of sunshine, nonsense even.  I will strive to jump off the emotional teeter-totter that I have been riding, and writing about.  Oh I am sure “fiasco” will still run its fingers through my themes, that seems to be merely the “BentRivka” way of things.  But I refuse to clothe myself in any fabric that resembles that of a hippo, a gopher, or Alexander the great.

Besides, I am not a martyr mother.  I care for Cole because I want to.  Period.  I gave the massages to my daughter because I chose to reward who she is.  Period.  Oh she felt bad, for a split second, that I would not enjoy the muscular respite alongside her.  But her first appointment is this afternoon, so the sting of the circumstance didn’t set its roots too deep.  Thankfully.  And Cole cares about his father and I or else he would have split instead of giving the relationship between his dad and he another go.  And tires?  Well, they wear out.  They pop.  They need replacing.  And Pageant of the Masters tickets?  They expire, they come around again, and they were only seven dollars each–no big loss.

So please, “don’t cry for me Argentina.”  In fact, don’t cry at all.  Just send in some homemade chocolate chip cookie reinforcements to remind me of who the winner is, in my game of life.  Don’t ask why the cookies will help, let us just eat and be merry!  Now onto the business of figuring out, and learning again, what makes me happy.  Of course, my children’s health and well being will always remain at the top of my list.  That is part of my maternal code.  Period.  Itch, itch, itchy, itch…

Every Once in a While

29 Aug

Sometimes I don’t want to brush my teeth, sometimes I don’t want to wash my face.                                                                                                     But cavities and zits I never do want, so brushing and washing it is.

Sometimes I don’t want to talk, sometimes I don’t want to smile.                                                                                                                                             But hurting ones feelings I never do want, so my mouth keeps an upturned display.

Sometimes I want to run.  To a place far, far away.                                                                                                                                                                            But being a deserter I never do want, so I stuff it and here I do stay.

…I went to bed, last night, with the above nonsensical rhetoric running through my mind.  I awoke in the middle of the night, creating more stanzas.  And this morning I cannot seem to escape the monotonous drone of the opening, “sometimes I don’t…”  Yet the way my mind works, which is a way that always connects music and lyrics to my thoughts, I now cannot stop singing the song, by The Cure titled, Charlotte Sometimes.  And even though you might expect me to leave a video clip of the song, because I often share ‘YouTube’ videos of music, I am obstinately not doing so.  Only because we both expect me to….oh the rebellion within!

This piss poor attitude, from whence does it come?  An overstressed mama, an emotionally tired mama, and a worn out mama. Period.  And last night I abstained from the facial wash and the brushing of teeth…my reckless abandon.  I reckon it a fairly sad story when the product of rebellion lie only in a hygienic form.  But hey, it’s all I’ve got at present.  Oh, and writing useless poetry of a repetitious nature.  Let us not forget the above stanzas.

The full and complete details of how I have gotten to this place are unnecessary to the message at hand.  Thus I will control the evil tongue, or in this case, computer keyboard to keep certain happenings under wraps.  It is more the results of  said, ‘mystery happenings’, in which I care to illuminate.  The results being fear, hives, more fear, and more hives.  They aren’t real hives, for there is no sign of rash.  Only incessant epidermal itching.  And fear, is never to be indulged in by offering it a title of “real”.  Yet fearful thoughts are weighing me down.  One such thought, “will the energy and emotional strength I invest into the life of my son eventually prove to be a worthless endeavor?  After the countless hours of pouring forth love, compassion, care, and time into his well being, will he still choose to throw in the towel of life?”

Itch, itch, itchy, itch

After the many hours, days, nights, and years invested into the teaching and encouragement of my children, will they still rebel against the good path?  Itch, itch, itchy, itch. (Oops, I just rubbed yesterday’s eye makeup into my eye ball…the detriment of rebellion.)  This type of questioning is not profound if connected to unfounded doubt, but my thoughts are not unfounded making the doubt quite profound.

My son, last week, dropped a familial A-bomb off in our life–and the next day left town to visit with family for four days.  The emotional fall out is wreaking havoc upon my tired soul (not to mention that of my husband as well).  The bomb?  A grudge against his father he confessed to holding onto for roughly ten years.  Now granted, his intent for sharing is to cleanse a relational roadblock with his dad (he and I were unaware it existed).  And sadly, the details of his ten year mental strife are concretely based.  Now how do I take this filth and get to where I want to go with this writing?  Well similar to the charred ground at the site of destruction, the chosen ammunition wiped out the living species within its midst.  All living species, or in our case, living memories.  The good and the bad.  My husband’s only question, as he undertakes full responsibility for the injurious effect of his own fear-based actions which inflicted the emotional pain for our son, is: “but weren’t there some good times as well?”  The answer of course is “yes”, but a bomb was dropped and nothing lives in its wake.

Thankfully we are not so daft as to miss out on the understanding that with a charred soil comes new opportunity.  And in the case of a parent-child rift, having a new opportunity to plant new seeds–together, and forge new directions–together, is a gift of goodwill bestowed upon the undeserved.  A gift given from our son, for which my husband and I are (more than) profoundly grateful.  Funny thing is, at the start of this year, our ‘Bent Motto’ has been “fear begone!”  It dons on me now, as I write, that our motto is in motion.  Why else would our son feel safe enough to divulge his angst?  Because fear is being ‘taken down’ and we are battling against its control.  Which is why my own insecurities, rooted in fear, are not allowed to flourish.  Not on this new waste land expanse.  Not in this nutrient deprived soil.  Not now.

…my son is lying on the couch next to me, sharing the details of his current physical experience, as he is detoxing from the prescribed anti-anxiety medication and narcotics.  Amidst his utterings he says to me, “I’m so tired I am just going to sleep until noon.”  To which I reply, “Good.  Then please stop talking to me so I can write!”  We laugh together at the ridiculous exchange between us.  And it dons on me once again, as I write, that my son feels safe.  He is weaning from the mind numbing effects of the meds that he felt he needed to keep him calm.  His choice.  An action which reflects there are nutrients present in the soil.  I am encouraged by the possibility of new growth.  I am not in a waste land after all.

“Fear begone.  And come again no more.  Not even sometimes.  Not even, Charlotte Sometimes.”  …I am back to square one, The Cure, though the mysterious hives have subsided for the moment.  Thank you, my readers, for providing me a therapeutic path.  A ground of expression, a medium of release.  I am grateful.


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