Friday, December 7, 2018

Spoiler alert: everything is not OK

"You are such a good mom."

"She is so lucky to have you."

"She just needs your love and understanding and everything will turn out alright."

It's easy to smile at these compassionate lies, comments my well meaning friends tell me when I'm worried about my kid. It's easy to encase these words inside my mind, as if they are true. To use these words as a protective shield around my breaking heart. Deceptively simple.

Don't worry. She'll be fine. She has YOU for a mother.

As if it matters.

I used to believe it. I believed that I was put upon this earth to help my child thrive. Yes, thoughts trickled inside my mind. It's a mean world. So much violence. So much hate. Do you really want to bring a child into a world like this? But the answer was always yes. Yes, I do want to bring a child into the world. I will love her, and that love will protect her. With the strength of our love, we will conquer all the hate we encounter.

I honestly believed that as long as we didn't beat her she'd be fine. I believed with open eyes and a full heart that if only my husband and I don't fuck up, we'll finally figure a way out of the labyrinthine cycle of family dysfunction that began generations back beyond our memories. Our child will have a good life, with a good mom and a good dad. We will love her and everything will be OK.

Spoiler alert: everything is not OK.

I come from a long line of creative, clever women, who have all, at some point in their lives, cracked up.  A cuckoo bird flies freely on our family crest.

My mother recalls, in the 1940s, tagging along on many trips to the doctor with her mother. Mom would sit quietly in the waiting room, drawing pictures and coloring, behaving, obedient, such a good girl. Not getting on my grandmother's already frazzled nerves, awaiting a prescription for my grandmother's "nerve medicine."

I recall, in the 1970s, sitting at the piano just outside my brother's basement bedroom, gently placing my little thumb on middle c, behaving, obedient, such a good girl. Trying hard to keep the secret of what my teenage brother and his best friend had just done to me in his bedroom, scared to tell our mom. My brother's words ringing in my head as I plunked on the keys. "Don't tell Mom or she'll freak out and end up back in the hospital." My siblings and I forever hyper-vigilant of Mom's moods after her stay in the psych ward where she was forcibly committed and received electroshock therapy after experiencing a couple of "nervous breakdowns."

In the 1980s, Mom showed me a letter my brother had written her in which he used the exact same phrase when referencing his memories of our grandmother abusing him. "Don't tell your mother or she'll end back up in the hospital."

It was also in the 1980s that a doctor told my mom to take me to talk to a psychologist, someone who could help me overcome the anorexia I'd developed in fifth grade, two years after my parents began sending me to weekly Weight Watchers meetings. I'd gone overboard on my dieting. It was a form of perfectionism. "You guys want me to lose weight? I'll show you."

I waited a long time to become a mother myself. I spent decades working on myself. Seeing doctors and psychologists. Reading self-help books and memoirs and novels--the good ones that actually helped me grow and develop a sense of self. The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I dated and broke up with a handful of people. I was mean and angry and insecure. I was a terrible girlfriend. I took a decade off of dating. I lived with my cat Zach in a one-bedroom apartment. No boyfriends. No girlfriends. No roommates. No family. Just me and my cat.

It was great.

But after a decade or so, I started to feel lonely. I wanted a family. A family of my own making. A spouse who loved and understood me. Children who laughed with me and listened to my stories. People with whom I could share all the goodness I'd found in the world.

I met Will. Everything was too easy. I didn't have to pretend to be anyone I'm not. I liked the me I was around him. He loved me, and he showed it. There was no guessing with him. He admitted why he liked me. He said, "You're the smartest person I know and you call me out on my bullshit." He also said, "I like the way your ass looks in that dress."

I stopped taking birth control pills two months before we got married because we were in a hurry. I was getting old, I had fertility issues, and we both wanted kids right way. Will wanted six kids. That sounded great to me. Although I doubted my body would cooperate. With the help of a fertility specialist, I was able to finally conceive. We named her Katherine after my sister Kathryn, and McKenna after Will's middle name Kenneth. Katherine McKenna Carleton. A good strong name for one good strong girl.

She's lived up to it for the most part. We nicknamed her Kate, then Katie. Pumpkin, then Punkin, then Punk. At the age of four, when she was learning how to write her name, she asked if we'd please stop calling her Kate and instead call her Katie. The summer before seventh grade, when she'd switch to middle school and meet lots of new classmates, she took the opportunity to re-nickname herself to Kat. Kat Carleton. Sounds like a badass to me.

And she is a badass, mostly. Badass because she's compassionate and kind. Authentic. Clever. Creative. Philosophical.

But, she's a twelve year old girl. She can also be fearful, and absent-minded. Moody. Sensitive. Shy. Anxious.

It was the 2010s when her doctor convinced us to start giving her antidepressant medication. She was ten and she'd been exhibiting signs of anxiety and depression since she was six, in first grade. It's the same anti-depressant medication that I take. The same my dad took. There should be a bottle of Sertraline on the crest of my dad's side of the family.

My friends, family, and coworkers often ask how she's doing. She has her ups and downs. Her behavior seems normal to me, but I was a moody, anxious, depressed teenager at one time myself. If I could bubble wrap her and keep her by my side at all times, I'd feel less stressed, but neither of those options will teach my little birdie how to fly.

I just worry so much about her. I try my best, and that's all I can do. Sadly, no matter how "good" we are as mothers we can’t protect our children from the awful aspects of this world.

I had an amazing conversation with one of my heroes last April. She was in town to give the keynote speech at a reception for the teen literary arts magazine I support. We had dedicated the 15th issue to author A. S. King, or Amy, as she told us to call her. I got to ride around in the car with her on our way to the various teen writing workshops and author talks we had booked for her. We're the same age, with daughters of similar ages. We shared our struggles of raising daughters with depression. It's a difficult topic to talk about, so it felt good to bond over it. It made me admire Amy even more. She's a fantastic author, and a good mother, too. I had proof.

If you haven't read any A. S. King novels, you're missing out. Most of her protagonists are teenagers. All of them are smart, funny, thoughtful, sensitive, and wise. Their stories relateable and feel true. There's a lot of weird shit that happens in an A. S. King novel. Surreal. Curious. WTF moments. But that just makes it all the more like real life. Amy’s novels focus on the lives of teens and kids in today’s chaotic world full of tests, and grades, and active shooter drills at school, and family violence, and divorce, and suicide at home. Amy writes with such an astute insight into young people’s minds. She understands young people. She remembers what it’s like. How hard the struggle is. How the only way out is through, and the only way through is with love.

I just wish her fictional stories weren't so true.

This weekend, Amy's oldest daughter died. Just sixteen years old. My heart breaks for Amy and her family. Yet it's still true: the only way out is through, and the only way through is with Love.

Love. That's all I got. It's all I have to give, even during the darkest times. Love is what I'm sending Amy and her family this week.

Love is what I'm sending them because

I have no words.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Letter to Representative Kevin Yoder: Detaining families in military encampments is immoral

I emailed my representative:

Please do all that is in your power to stop the Trump Administration from detaining people who enter our country illegally. It is cheaper and more humane to allow these immigrants to live freely in the United States until their immigration hearing. Detaining families in military encampments is immoral. Kansans are better than this. Fight, Representative Yoder. Do all you can.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

My body is none of your business

It’s been a bit since I’ve posted anything about my mental health and my Health at Every Size advocacy. So maybe it’s time to send out a reminder.

I have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of trauma I experienced as a child. One of the major traumas I experienced was being a fat kid in a fat phobic family and culture. I was sent to Weight Watchers in 3rd grade. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in 5th grade. I struggled with disordered eating and body dysmorphia for decades. I hated my body so much that I defied convention by not inviting our extended family and friends to our wedding because I knew I’d have a panic attack standing in front of all those people with their eyes on me.

The year I turned 40, my brother died of alcoholic liver failure. The same brother who had sexually abused me when I was a young child. The same brother who, when he came back into town after having been gone a few years, asked my mom why I had gotten so fat. As if my body were any of his business. 

The same year my brother died, I checked out a book from the public library: Health at Every Size by Dr. Linda Bacon. The book saved my life. I still struggle with body shame as a fat, sexual abuse survivor living in a fat-phobic, misogynistic society, but the Health at Every Size philosophy has changed my mind. I can see clearly that I deserve to be happy and healthy and loved and understood. It is not my fault that I live in a culture that hates fat women, and it makes me feel proud when I speak up and defend myself. 

This morning I defended myself again. A so-called friend, knowing that I live with PTSD that is triggered by diet talk and fat shaming, took it upon herself to share unsolicited advice by recommending to me a weight-loss book. 


No diet advice. No weight-loss talk. No discussion with the assumption that there is something wrong with my body. 

My body is none of your business. 


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Bullets Bursting

The internet's shame-ganging Fergie's interpretation of our national anthem.

I understand the purists who think The Star Spangled Banner should always be performed in a traditional way. It feels disrespectful to make the national anthem your own.

I get it, but I don't agree. Isn't that what makes our country great? Not great again, but great now and always. We make this country our own. We vote. We protest. We argue ideas. We sign petitions. We swamp our elected officials with calls and emails and faxes from our smartphones. Our Constitution makes it clear that this is not an armchair democracy. This land is our land and we have a say in how we live our lives. We have a say, as long as we let our voices be heard. What makes me proudest is our right as Americans to speak freely. If Fergie wants to interpret our national anthem in an overtly sexy way, why not? Isn't our country fraught with sexual tension? Isn't the #metoo movement a modern day battle of the sexes? Maybe Fergie was trying to make a point.

That's what's so beautiful about art. When it points something out you might have missed on your own. You look at it, you read it, you hear it and you shake your head and you say yes.

Here's a big yes of a song. It's my favorite version of our national anthem. It's as if you can actually hear the bombs bursting in air. You're witnessing history. You're there, hanging out with Francis Scott Key. On a hill. At the battle. Witnessing men killing each other over ideas. You're in the audience at Woodstock. Protesting our country's "conflict" with Vietnam.

The amazing thing about Hendrix's version is how relevant it is today. It's as if you can actually hear the AR15 bullets bursting through the atmosphere of our kids' schools.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Wielding the Corkscrew

Humans are social creatures. We like to share stories with each other. Humans are sexual creatures. We like to share our bodies with each other.

Before we go any further, let's make sure we're both ready.

Sex is the physical act of sharing our body with another consenting* human in a romantic or desirous way. (*non-consenting people include adults who say no, children who say yes or no, drunk or drugged people who can't say yes or no because they're passed out or asleep. Consent is a definite YES from a person mature enough to know what they're agreeing to do.)

Assault (also called abuse, rape, molestation) is the physical act of forcing our body onto another nonconsenting human. It's not about feeling in control of yourself, feeling sexy. It's about feeling in control of someone else, feeling dominant.

I grew up in a time when most gay people were in the closet. Some of my gay friends were out, obviously, to me, and to other friends. But most people hid their authentic sexuality from most people. We were afraid of getting beaten up. Or murdered. It happened. 

I saw this quote on the wall of one of the numerous therapists I've visited over the years, and I never forget it.

"Hurt people hurt people."

Sexuality, shrouded in secrecy, leads to inauthenticity. Humans, social creatures that we are, struggle to not share our stories with each other. When we feel shamed into secrecy, told not to tell our stories, we bottle them up. Until we are strong enough to uncork the bottle and feel our feelings and be our authentic selves.

I'm not saying I approve of the way Kevin Spacey outed himself. It's gross how he conflates pediphilia and homosexuality. But, I do understand that Kevin Spacey is a product of our society, the one where for most of his life you could at best not get any big roles in Hollywood and at worst get yourself killed. I understand why Spacey wanted to be in the closet. I understand, but I do not condone, how his feelings about sexuality might have gotten all fucked up from all those years festering inside the closet.

Inauthenticity leads to unhealthy behavior. Alcoholism. Eating disorders. Drug abuse. Sexual abuse. In Kevin Spacey's case, living an inauthentic life has lead, allegedly, to sexual assault. I throw in that word - allegedly - because I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Because, legally, a person in our society who has been accused of a crime is, supposedly, innocent until proven guilty. I throw in that word - supposedly - because what often happens in our society, especially when a case involves a public figure, is that supposedly and allegedly get tossed out the window and everybody takes sides, without assessing it from all points of view.

But, I get it. It's difficult to be dispassionate about such a sick subject. Sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, all cringe-worthy, shameful things. Difficult to talk about.

Kevin Spacey's case has already been tried in the court of public opinion. It's been just five days since Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of assaulting him decades ago, and yet Netflix has already cancelled House of Cards. Netflix punishes a fake president after he is accused of sexual assault. Our nation has yet to punish our actual president after we hear his recorded confession of grabbing women by the pussies.

It's difficult to acknowledge and it's difficult to talk about. Solace comes from uncorking the bottle, telling the secrets we've been shamed into bottling up inside ourselves.

Here are a couple of brave people, wielding the corkscrew. Watch an amazing conversation between Ronan Farrow and Stephen Colbert here.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Adam Ruins the Suburbs: a review

This video clip is an EXCELLENT short explanation of a complex social problem: systemic racism in American housing and public education.

As a white person who has lived the majority of my life in suburban Kansas City, from 1977 to today, what's most fascinating to me is the trend of white gentrification occurring in some areas of downtown Kansas City while the suburban neighborhood where I live has evolved into a diverse community of Whites, Latinos, African-Americans, and lots of interracial families. When I was a kid, it was the opposite: mostly white kids lived in the suburbs and mostly non-white folks lived in downtown Kansas City.

I love seeing the mix of diverse kids at my daughter's suburban public school. It's so different than my public school experience in the 70s and 80s where my first encounter with a black kid at school was in sixth grade. 1982.

When my friend invited me for a sleepover at her apartment, I met her mom, who was just as white as my own mother. I asked where her father was, and all she said was that she never knew him and her mom wouldn't talk about him. So this black friend of mine, turns out, is actually biracial, and she didn't grow up around her black family or experience living in a black community. In fact, she was kinda racist. Or, maybe not racist, but self-loathing. She would make comments about how she wished she had pretty, straight blonde hair like me. For the record: I did not have blonde hair in sixth grade. It was brown. Not even "dishwater blonde" as my mom described my hair when I was younger. But for some reason my friend insisted that I had blonde hair. I didn't care. I'd say things like, "I don't know what's the big deal about my hair. Your hair is pretty, too" but she never seemed to hear me. I realize now that it was my white privilege that allowed me to not "know what's the big deal about my hair." Actually, I even knew then. I was telling what my mom would call a "white lie" meaning that I was lying, yes, but only to protect someone's feelings from getting hurt. White lie. What a stupid term. How woven into the fabric of our daily lives is systemic racism.

My friend and I lost touch after my family moved to another suburb and I switched schools. We ran into each other four years later, when we were sophomores in high school. 1986. My friend pulled out her wallet and showed me a picture of a brown-headed, smiling toddler.

"That's my daughter. She's almost three. Her daddy's really nice to me. And, look! She has blonde hair!"

I was horrified. I didn't know what to say. Almost three? So, my friend had a baby when she was thirteen? Can a thirteen year old consent to sex? All I knew is that whenever someone who seemed to me to be too young to have a child would get pregnant, my mom would say, "Well, Mary was young when she had Jesus. That's how it was back in those days."

Back in those days? You mean now.

Those days. Not so long ago.

Our society is as imperfect as it is ever-evolving. My daughter is going to school with and growing up around kids from all kinds of cultures within our mainstream society. It's the best education I can give her. Demographics show that some of my white neighbors have decided to move out south or west, or to downtown Kansas City. In reports where they are asked why, they inevitbly say so they can live in "a better neighborhood."

A better neighborhood? What on earth do you think they mean by that?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

World peace on a porcelain throne

I've been feeling shitty for almost a week. Doc ran a bunch of tests. I got the results today. I have an "acute diarrhea illness". There is nothing cute about it. When I say I've been feeling shitty, I mean that literally.

Cause, unknown. Might have picked up a bug. Might be my body's reaction to world events.

Hopefully it's the bug. My white blood cells stand a better chance of fighting off infection than I stand a chance of negotiating world peace. Especially while sitting on my porcelain throne.

Anyhoo, Doc recommends:
Eating lots of yogurt, but no other dairy.
Drinking lots of water and caffeine-free tea.
In addition to avoiding dairy, staying away from spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol.

All my favorites, basically. I'm not complaining, though. After just one day of following her advice, I'm already feeling a bit better.

Could be I'm feeling cheerier from the good results of my blood work. Since I was there anyway she decided it was time for my annual metabolic tests. As a fat girl, I get nervous whenever a health care provider wants to assess my health. As a Health at Every Size advocate, I get excited for the results, which I can use to assure myself I'm not delusional.

Got good results today, so I'm proud to say that this fat girl is healthy. At least once I'm over this not-at-all-cute diarrhea illness that's going around.

Blood Pressure: 122/76
Pulse: 63
A1C: 5.8%
Cholesterol: 162
Triglycerides: 98

But you know what? Bragging about my metabolic test results is lame. It's the inner anorexic girl inside me, cheering me on when I'm healthy, but ignoring me when I'm sick. That's no way to treat a human being. Who cares what my blood pressure is? Does that make me a better fat person than a fat person with high blood pressure? I'm still trying to appease the disbelievers. The people who think my blog posts are just wishful thinking. This Ambiguous Life, renamed Fat Chick Rationalizing.

Why do I care so much what they think?

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Science Explains Why Your Lab Is Always Hungry

Here's a headline that got my attention: Science Explains Why Your Lab Is Always Hungry

Our sweet Sawyer Puppy--who is in Dog Heaven now after a good long life of swimming at the lake, hunting baby squirrels in the back yard, and playing with her fur siblings in our living room--was half beagle and half lab. We called her a "blab". Dang, that girl could eat. I've never known a dog with such a voracious appetite. I'd feed her at the same time I'd feed our other dog, Earl, a Great Pyrenees-mix. I'd set Earl's bowl down first, then Sawyer's, and by the time I took two steps toward the sink to wash my hands, Sawyer would be by my side, staring up with a look on her face that said, "More?" Her bowl would be empty in the time it took Earl to nibble one or two bits of kibble. Sawyer gave meaning to the term "wolf down her food." She loved to chew--bones, peanut butter Kongs, wooden dining room chair legs--but when it came time for dinner there was no chewing involved. More like inhaling.

Sawyer was pretty tubby, but it never slowed her down. She got a little arthritis in her old age, as many dogs (and people) of all sizes do, but she loved to swim and chase squirrels in her last few days as much as she did in her first. Here's the last video I have of her swimming at the lake.

I, too, am pretty tubby, but it doesn't slow me down, either. Sometimes my big boobs and fat belly literally get in the way when I'm attempting to do some physical feat. I'm a storytime librarian, so I do a lot of up and down, bottom-on-the-floor to back-on-our-feet-and-dancing moves at work. I'm not as agile as most of the kids. I'm also old enough to be their grandmother. It might take me a few seconds longer to get up off the floor than it does a three-year-old, but that doesn't stop me. I had to wear two sports bras at a time to keep my girls from smacking me in the face when I coached third grade girls basketball. Probably the worst way my big boobs get in the way is this: sometimes when I'm asleep, I roll over and one of my boobs rests on my neck in a way that causes me to snore. It's not so bad I need a CPAP, or a breast reduction. It's mostly just comical to open my eyes, my husband elbowing me awake, and finding a boob trying to suffocate me. "Death by big boob asphyxiation," I imagine my obituary will read.

My big belly is a different story. I'm not quite as comfortable with it yet. I haven't learned to live with a big belly for as long as I've lived with big boobs. In my teens and twenties, I was one of those fat chicks who still had an hourglass figure like some of my thinner counterparts, just a bigger vessel. Or, saddlebag thighs, depending of whether you thought I was hot or gross. At the time, I thought I was gross. Now I look back at old photos and I'm all, "Wow! Hey, Hottie!" Too bad me-now can't go back in time and tell me-then to quit wasting time worrying about my appearance. There are far too many wrongs to right in the world to spend time worrying if your butt looks cottage cheesy in that skirt.
My big belly sprouted after I gave birth to my daughter. Dude, seriously. I still have maternity pants that fit me and my daughter is in sixth grade. I don't blame my daughter for my big belly. In fact, I kinda like it when we're relaxing after a busy day at work and school, and she rests her head upon my big belly as we talk and laugh together.

What I don't like about my big belly is this: it sometimes throws me off balance. Like, after my daughter lifts her head from my belly and gets off the couch to say, go feed the pets, and it's time for me to say, go to the bathroom, sometimes I have to make a couple of attempts to heave myself up off the couch. Sometimes I have to kinda rock back and forth a bit to propel myself forward. Like a pregnant lady. Like a forty-six year old pregnant lady. Yikes!

There are a lot of pregnant ladies that come into the library for storytime with their older children. I wear my big belly in solidarity with them. Girl, I understand how your back hurts. I get that you have to pack an extra pair of panties in your purse for those times after a big sneeze makes you wet your pants like your toddler because your big belly keeps pushing on your bladder. I like to think that those extra few seconds it takes me to transition from the floor to my feet during storytime helps the pregnant moms keep from feeling embarrassed.

It's funny that lots of women get a bigger belly both during and after pregnancy. I think it's Mother Nature's way of preparing us for that turtle-stuck-on-its-back feeling we'll experience during our child's formative years when we have no clue what we're doing.

Go ahead and laugh. It is funny. It doesn't mean you should lecture me about healthy eating and exercise, or concern troll me on Facebook, or make fat phobic comments behind my back. I'm fat. Big deal. Treat me with dignity and respect, like everyone else.

Back to the headline about labs and their big appetites. Science Explains Why Your Lab Is Always Hungry

From the article: "Common genetic variants affecting the POMC gene are associated with human body weight and there are even some rare obese people who lack a very similar part of the POMC gene to the one that is missing in the dogs."

I'm no scientist, but I think what this article is saying is that I'm part Labrador. It makes sense. My maternal great-grandfather is from Nova Scotia. Isn't that by Labrador Island? I love to swim. And, I tend to knock things over with my behind when I get excited. That's just on my mom's side. When I was in second grade, we were doing a report on where our ancestors came from. I asked where my dad's side of the family comes from and Mom said, "Wales." My immediate thought was, "Oh, that explains why everyone in Dad's family is so fat. We're from whales."

Science can teach us a lot about hunger, and human diversity. But only a sense of humor, humility, and humanity can make us good people who love and respect each other regardless of how fat or how thin we are.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Americans eventually get around to doing the right thing: the NFL finally takes a knee

I'm swelling with pride today, after seeing the majority of two NFL teams #takeaknee and link arms during our national anthem despite the fact that

1) I hate football


2) I'm disgusted that it took over a year for other NFL players and owners to get on board with Colin Kaepernick's brave, peaceful protest that began last year and has left him unemployed this year.

Fitting that this protest is in London, since I immediately thought of the famous quote from Prime Minister Winston Churchill:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Selfish rant: When your day off is not *your* day off.

Damnit! It's my day off. I was gonna enjoy a little "me" time today, but I just got a call from Dad. He's back in the hospital. He fell, again, while running errands at his bank.

He's fine. Incredibly. Especially for a 90-year-old man. No broken bones. Just banged up. I'm on my way to pick him up and make sure he gets home safely.

The other day Dad called me to report that his car wouldn't start. He wanted me to have my husband Will leave work, drive thirty minutes to Dad's house, and check on it.

Me: "Hey, Dad, let's troubleshoot over the phone before we bother Will. Have you gotten gas lately?"

Dad: "Yeah, just yesterday."

Me: "OK. I want you to go out and unscrew your gas cap, screw it back on til it clicks, and then try to start your car again."

Ten minutes later...

Dad: "Hey, Becky! It started right up. I didn't know you could fix cars!"

Evidently I can do a lot of things I never thought I could do. Like take care of my dad.

When I was a teen, my dad gave me a laminated quarter and told me to put it in my wallet, in case I ever found myself out somewhere "drunk and stranded or something" so I could give him a call. This was back in the day when there were payphones all over the city and all you needed was a quarter to make a call. This was also back in the day when Dad and I regularly screamed at each other, slammed doors in each others faces, and generally tried to stay as far away from each other as possible. So, even back then, it warmed my heart that Dad was thinking of my safety. We might not like each other much, but, in spite of ourselves, we care about each other.

Now it's Dad who calls me for help. It's so weird. If you live long enough, you become someone you never thought you'd be. Dad has grown a teeny tiny bit less angry and selfish over the years. I have grown a teeny tiny bit less angry and impatient over the years. I'll never enjoy hanging out with my dad. He's a pain in my ass. We disagree on nearly everything from politics to religion to what is considered to be "good" music. But, he's my dad. And I'm my father's daughter. And, together, after all the struggles, we just might figure out not just how to care for each other, but why in the hell we do.