I’m Not Your Fucking Inspiration

Waukegan, Illinois

March 9, 2017 (Staring out the window at the birds hungrily eating at our bird feeder.)

DEAR GOD,

Ever play the “what if” game? Like what if everyone in the world had to put their toenail clippings in one landfill? Then, what if an artist was hired to make a sculpture out of all those clippings? How big do you think that sculpture would be? I know, gross right? But seriously, do you think there could possibly be some benefit in saving our nails? I mean what if we had a recycling program? I read somewhere it’s difficult for nails to decompose because they are pretty much resistant to bacteria. That’s why you see hair and nails on mummies. Apparently, it can take up to ten thousand years for them to decompose. 

I’m just saying, maybe there is a unique way of using them that we haven’t thought of yet. As I clip my own nails, I watch as they float downwards towards the garbage can. They are the unwanted, the bothersome, and somehow I relate.

My name is Shelby. Shelby Marie–and this is my sex life. Just kidding, the sex hasn’t happened yet. Basically, I have no real life or life that is fair to me. I’ve been robbed or I was robbed before I was born. Sorry to inform you, but this isn’t the fairy tale where I get the prince in the end. Why? Because there is no prince. Because I live with Muscular Dystrophy. And it’s only going to get worse for me. I’m not saying I’m not worthy of a prince, I’m just saying it usually doesn’t happen for people like me. I mean when do you see a hot able bodied guy dating a girl in a wheelchair? “Oh, you’re dying slowly? Well God Damn–that turns me on.”  Maybe it happens somewhere in the universe, but I’ve never seen it. Then again, they haven’t met me yet. I may have the hot bod and brain they’re looking for. In the meantime, I’m very grateful for my dog, Humor. He’s a shaggy pup that loves me, licks me, and smells any dog ass he can get near.

I also have mom and dad who are supportive. Dad works as an engineer and is a loony bird lover. He is also super duper strict about honesty and many other things. One thing he is super strict about is brushing your teeth and flossing. Every night he spends extra care flossing his pearls and expects others to do the same. This is him, in the morning…

“Good morning sweetheart.”

“Morning Dad.”

“Hey, It’s Saturday. What are your plans for today?” 

“I don’t know. I just woke up.”

“I was thinking you and I could do some bird watching. What do you want for breakfast? Some oatmeal maybe? An omelette?” 

He walks over to, leans in to me and grabs my chin firmly. 

“Let me take a looksie at those choppers. Did you brush? Open your mouth. Did you wear your mouthguard last night?”

“OW! Geez Dad. YES.”

“Good, they’re looking good. Your grandad would have been super proud. Remember, don’t brush too hard. That’s why I buy the soft toothbrushes. Your mother brushed too hard when she was your age and now she’s paying for it with her sensitive teeth.”

“Dad, I’m thirteen. You don’t have to keep checking my teeth all the time. I am brushing them.”

“Ok, then tell me what my rule is on sweets and candy.”

Big exaggerated sigh here.

“Fine. Candy is the enemy. Candy– murders your teeth.”

“Correctomundo. That’s what your grandad used to say.”

“I know. Can I have an omelette with spinach and cheese?”

“Can my baby girl with beautiful teeth have an omelette with cheese and spinach? Of course she can. Good choice sweetie. Very good choice. Proud of you.”

I guess the whole being obsessive and checking out my teeth thing must be ingrained in him from growing up with a father as a dentist. BOR-ING, SORT OF. I guess I should be thankful I have good teeth. 

Anyways, mom works as a librarian, but it’s weird. She doesn’t read. I guess she must have read at some point, but now, I never see her reading unless it’s the obituaries. She loves the obits where someone has lived an extra long life past 100, or has volunteered for decades and is survived by many children and grandchildren. She thinks I’ll be interested in these obits too and often finds her way to my room to read the latest one. 

She’s sensible, my mother, and sharp, with a video like memory. Ask her anything about her past and she can play it back to you almost instantly. She will tell you what the weather was like or what everyone was wearing. Mostly what people were wearing though, and what food they were eating or what restaurant they were at.

Both of my parents seem to think I’m going to be this incredible doctor someday but I don’t know what the hell I want to do with my disabled life. And people who do know–make me want to throw up in their happy little faces. I do daydream though. Sometimes I imagine myself as a race car driver or running a ten mile race or boys fighting over my rad body. But my #1 favorite imagined scenario is me being so funny people have to wear Depend Undergarments every time they’re around me. My #2 favorite imagined scenario is boys getting hypnotized by my exotic nature. Am I asking too much? Of course not, I probably should be asking for more since I was gypped from birth. 

And just for the record–even if there was a so-called prince on the verge of saving me–just to let you know–I don’t believe any of that bullshit. Disabled or not, I’m not a damsel in distress. I may still be figuring out what I am and who I am, but I’m definitely not helpless. So let’s get that straight right now.

So there it is God,

My journal in case I choke in the middle of the night or my heart gives out. Evidence I really existed.

March 11, 2017 (Sitting on the toilet and waiting for my poop to make a splash of an entrance.)

DEAR GOD WHO HATES ME,

So we’ve officially moved. Are you happy? Dad got a new job and yes it pays more money, which will help get the house more accessible for me and my wheelchair, but do I really have to endure the new school and new friends thing once again? COME ON!!!!

March 15th, 2017 (In my new bedroom, looking out the window at this older lady across the street who is dragging her empty garbage cans from the street back to her house. She clearly doesn’t have a bra on. Her boobs look like giant eggplants hanging down.)

DEAR GOD WHO GETS ON MY NERVES,

Today was my first day of school, and the looks and stares were like a semi automatic. Why can’t people take a quicker glance or frickin take a picture instead? Are they horrified this disease will happen to them? Of course they are.

This is what it’s always going to be like for me, isn’t it GOD? I’m in a frickin wheelchair, so what. I guess I’ve learned to expect this kind of reaction, but I don’t have to like it. 

And I don’t have to like YOU either, GOD.

March 20th, 2017 (Sitting here watching an episode of the Brady Bunch, the one where Marsha gets hit in the nose.)

DEAR ASSHOLE GOD,

Just so you know, just so you’re aware, I HATE CHURCH. It sucks, it’s boring and I fall asleep almost every time. And today especially sucked because a mother and her teenage daughter came up to me after the service. It was when everyone is usually getting their coffee and bagels, contemplating the sermon, and how it applies to their life. I was at a table nearby happily loading packets of sugar into my coffee and stirring it with a straw. So when they walk up– the mother says,

“You’re Shelby right?” 

“Yes, that’s me.”

“Your mother has told me all about you. I’m in her knitting group. This is my daughter Kathy.” 

“Hey.” She plops down across from me.

“Ok Kathy, I’m going to talk to the pastor. I’ll be right back.”

“Ok mom.”

“Kathy starts eating her plain bagel smothered with blueberry cream cheese. Bagels are never delicate to eat. After she finishes a couple bites she says…

“So what’s wrong with you?”

I take a long sip of my coffee through a straw.

“Nothing. What’s wrong with you?”

‘Man, this girl has way too much cream cheese on her bagel.’

“Oh. I meant why…

“I know what you meant.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to..offend…

“If you have to know, I got run over by a maniac who caught his wife cheating on him and was trying to run her down, but got poor old me instead.”

“Shit, really?” 

A grinch of a grin slowly starts to appear on my face but I wrangle it in.

“Yeah. It’s messed up, right?”

“Did they ever catch the guy?”

“Nope, he fled to Mexico. Never found him. In fact, they even did an Unsolved Mysteries about it. They called him ‘the disabler’.”

“Really? My mom watches that show.”

“Yeah, I’m kind of a big deal.” 

“Wow.”

Her mother gets back with keys in hand ready to leave.

“Shelby it was so nice to meet you. I hope you two had a nice chat.”

“Oh, excellent,” I lie. 

“Come on Kathy, we have some grocery shopping to do.”

Maybe I should be creative with my answers more often. That was kind of fun.

So, I go to church because I have to. Because mom says so and I guess I go to make her happy. Oh how she loves to watch a new baptism. Sometimes we have to stay late just to watch one. Here’s an idea GOD… You should really consider a more entertaining way to baptize your followers. How about a dunk tank? You know–like the ones they have at the county fair? Family members and loved ones could line up to throw a ball to hit the target and dunk you. Just saying. Way more interesting way to get baptized,  don’t you think? Plus you could charge a dollar for three balls and have the proceeds go to your church for retreats and shit like that. Anyways, today at church confirmed how much I hate people.

March 22, 2017 (Petting my dog’s belly and feeding him little treats.)

Shelby Marie Langston –is my full name. I’m not crazy about it. I would have preferred Sam. I feel like a Sam. Anyways, my body is almost fourteen years old and I wear black probably way too much. My glasses are a tinted pink color and oversized for my face. I have no siblings and it’s yellow outside, like all the dogs of the world peed on any white residue of snow they could find. I wonder if they secretly believe that white space is wasted space. 

It’s gray outside too, like someone took charcoal and shaded the sky in with all the grayscale tones. And I smell like garlic mom says but I don’t remember eating any. And the house reeks like clammy feet, dad’s clammy feet. You can smell the stench from two rooms away. No amount of foot powder can fix it. I roll out of the room when he takes his shoes off after work,  if I don’t gag first. 

My best friend is my mutt, Humor. He’s my loyal snuggler, with caramel eyes that look into my soul like no other. I do have other friends, like the black hairs coming out of my chin or the one lone hair coming out of the middle of my neck. They are my truest friends because when I pluck them–they always seem to come back. On social media, I’m semi-popular in a Muscular Dystrophy FB group. I tend to get anywhere from 50-100 likes every time I post something. Geez, now I really sound pathetic and boring.

March 26, 2017 (After church, sitting with Humor and watching the patches of snow melt outside.)

DEAR FUCKED UP MOTHER FUCKER WHO IS IN CONTROL OF MY LIFE,

I have a question. What’s with this whole inspiration thing? Why do you insist on torturing me? Can you please teach these church people that I’m just like everyone else? 

“Shelby, you’re such an inspiration. You’re so amazing.”

“Why, because I got up this morning? Why am I so amazing? I’m not. I’m just like

every other thirteen year old, sort of. Newsflash: I’m NOT your fucking inspiration people! Or your reason to feel good about your own life because you don’t have it as bad. Just feel good about your life, ok? Anyways, church sucked the big one again today. 

March 29, 2017 (Waiting for dad to stop shitting so I can pee. The 2nd bathroom is being modified.)

DEAR JESUS, HOLY GHOST, OR WHATEVER YOU WANNA BE CALLED, 

Spring Break is over, only I didn’t really have a break since we were still moving. Mom and Dad actually let me have more than a week off because of the move. Anyways, I’m not exactly excited about being the new exhibit in school again but something unexpected happened today. I met someone. The electronic door opener wasn’t working and she held the door open for me.

“Thanks.”

“Sure. I’m Trudy.”

“Shelby.”

“Where you headed?”

“English.”

“Oh, do you have Mrs. Trevor?”

“I think so.”

“My brother said she’s real cool. But don’t chew gum in her class. Once she made him wear gum on his nose for the whole period.”

“No way. That’s kind of badass. I want to wear gum on my nose.” 

“Ha ha. For real though, it totally happened like five years ago.”

“Seems like the teacher could get in trouble for that.”

“Well, she didn’t or my brother didn’t tell. I don’t know. He was stoned when it happened so he probably didn’t care.”

Later at lunch, Trudy and I sat at the same table. She seems cool. I don’t know, I get a good feeling about her, but I have zero classes with her so that sucks.

April 2, 2017 (Eating peanut butter out of the jar.)

DEAR CREEPY ASS GOD,

I read Samuel 18:27.

You know, the verse where David and his men go out and kill 200 Philistines, cut off their foreskins and present them to the King. All so David could marry Saul’s daughter, Michal. Not only is this messed up God, what’s even more disturbing is that Michal was priced at one hundred Philistine foreskins, not two hundred. I guess David decided to go above and beyond or do extra credit or something. But my question is, how the hell do you pay someone in foreskins? And what is so valuable about a foreskin anyway? Apparently a lot. The internet says a single foreskin can be worth up to a hundred thousand dollars. Why? Because they use it in face creams, cruel free testing, fibroblasting, and lots of other stuff. Who knew? So here’s my version of what happened with David and the King, how I think it went down. You tell me if I’m right.

David: Hello King. Here are the foreskins, now will you grant me permission to wed my sweetheart Michal?

King looks at the stack of foreskins and scoffs.

King: How do I know there are a hundred foreskins there?

David: There are actually two hundred, King. You have my word.

King: Oh two hundred now! Humph. You must really love this girl. Prove it then. Count them!

David takes the sticky foreskins out of the leather pouch and tries to pull the bloody stacked mess apart. 

David: Okay, one second, okay here goes one foreskin, two foreskins, three foreskins, four foreskins…wait a second, these two are stuck together. Okay six foreskins…seven…

So there I was, in the car on the way home with mom, thinking about foreskins, reading about them on my phone, and feeling sorry for Michal and all the women who are sold when I decided to ask mom, “Is dad circumcised?” And that’s when it got weird and messed up.

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4 Comments

  1. irwin

    Hey, Renee,

    Sorry it took so long to get your comment published. I did not realize I had to approve all comments! Glad you laughed and laughed and laughed. It’s wondrous to please the readers. Nicole rewrote this first installment many times. Look for the next installment next month! Please come back now, y’hear?

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