Rejecting Chumbawamba; Accepting Adolescent Doodles

My therapy. You'll soon find out why...

I experienced two brand new phenomena on Friday, November 18th.

First, I chose to turn on “The Sports Animal” talk radio mid-morning after I heard the OSU plane crash news.  I promise you, that’s never happened before.   Although I’ve been a “victim of the environment” wherein my husband listens to sports talk radio with me in the car, and I choose not to throw a fit “because this is ridiculous and endless ranting about mindless nothingness,” I’ve never made a conscious decision to listen.

Second?  I heard grown men crying openly as they called in to “The Sports Morning” host, recounting the sadness of having two plane crashes impact the OSU Athletic Department and community within ten years.  One man couldn’t finish his comment because he was crying and simply hung up.  Responding to the following caller who was happy and excited about some other BCS Bowl possibility, the radio announcer said, “I wish I didn’t even have to work today.  This feels weird and wrong to be doing this kind of show right now.”

Let’s make that that three new experiences: At that moment, I gained respect for the announcer on Sports Talk Radio. 

These three examples fly in the face of my  “never-will-I” sorts of absolutes I would have previously clung to with strong resolve.  And all three were refuted within a few minutes of each other.

That’s what happens when tragedy strikes: norms, routines and beliefs get scrambled – disorganization and sadness sets in and sometimes people see things in different ways.

But I’m just a teacher at OSU.  And, I was just a student therapist ten years ago when the first plane went down and we opened the university clinic’s doors to anyone who needed therapeutic support.  And, I’m just an OSU football fan who felt a bit like I got kicked in the gut as I watched my team go through the motions against Iowa State that night. And, I’m just a mom and a sister of true Sooner Football fans, feeling empathy pains as OU self-destructed against Baylor Saturday Night.

Oklahoma had a rough weekend.  And, I personally felt like I’d had a rough weekend when I was only somewhat connected to the multiple and different impacts around me.  But, by Sunday morning I was not myself.  I was feeling personally taxed and needed some help.

So I began looking for distractions.  That usually means cleaning.

At one point in the afternoon I began cleaning out drawers and closets as I reorganized the space created by my six-week-old “empty nest.”  I turned on the radio and when Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” began to play, I stopped for just a moment…

I get knocked down,

But I get up I get up again,

Ain’t never gonna keep me down (repeat ad nauseum)

No.  For a fleeting moment, I thought I could gain inspiration from the tune but it just wasn’t working for me.  I turned the radio off and worked in silence for another hour.

Then I opened another cabinet, looked at the mess and sighed.  “School supplies, a bottle cap collection, at least 200 pens and pencils, and a few yearbooks…”  I took inventory of the contents before I began sorting the trash, keep, and give-back-to-Rylee piles.

I had already taken the trash out twice when I came upon Ry’s old high school Mythology notebook.  I smiled as I flipped through her notes.  Pages and pages of ancient myths were there in her handwriting.  It’s an interesting exercise to attempt a projective experience into your child’s world.

I closed the notebook, almost threw it in the trash pile, then stopped.  There, doodled across every square inch was “cover art.”  Evidently, two of the artists were Brandon and Colin – spirited, funny and endearing adolescents who spent as much time at our house as they did their own.  Brandon would even scold me when I didn’t have an inventory of “his vegetarian burritos” in the freezer.  “C’mon, mams!…” he would protest.  “I have a ROUTINE!  I walk in the side garage door, I grab a burrito, I heat it up, THEN I can hang out!”

One of the reasons I loved Colin and Brandon so much is that they used to ask me if I would marry them.  Then they would argue about who “got mams” and why THEY deserved to marry me.  This was an ongoing narrative and pleased me immensely.  Colin and Brandon were good for the ego of a middle-aged gal, good for a big bear hug every time they came, and…good for sadness?

I glanced at one particular drawing on the cover of Rylee’s notebook.  There we were.  Mams (me) in a wedding dress, with Brandon and Colin on either side of me.  Evidently, marrying BOTH of them.

I smiled more broadly when I saw a sketch of  “Monster Mams” playing Halo.  First of all, I’ve never played Halo, but they did…all the time.  Evidently, in their mind, I was quite the Halo competitor.

I was sitting in the floor looking at this notebook when I realized I was giggling.  I haven’t seen them in nearly eight months, but they were still giving me a dose of life-hood.  Energy. Humor. Awesomeness.

So, I did what I do and took a photo of the two sketches, showed Rylee when she came over later that night to help with the cleaning, and then threw it away.  This post is a scrapbook, of sorts, of my healing moment.

And if I had anything to wish all our Okies affected by all the various levels of loss this past weekend, it would be that those moments come swiftly and frequently for them as well.



aka “Monster Mams”