Tuesday, January 31, 2012

There was a time where he owned me, most completely...

My baby slept in bed with me, last night.

The sun is shining in the city.

She asked me if we could go to movie night at the library. I looked at the date. February 18. I told her, we already missed it.

The sun is shining, it must be April or May. Thank god we've gotten through winter.

It's funny what winter will do. I'm walking around in a half-dream of spring. I've been feeling ambitious. Kurt and I are going on a date.

My mom said she would have dinner with the girls while we went to a movie, but it's so beautiful. Maybe we should sneak out the back door like teenagers and walk in the park. Maybe we should talk and talk about what we're going to be someday. All the ways we're going to love each other and all the places that love will take us. Maybe we should sneak out the back door and run.

My little one wiped her nose on my shirt sleeve a moment ago. Nobody else could do that. There was a time where my husband had gotten the furthest inside of me, where he owned me, most completely. He's been kicked out bed so many times since then, in favor of little footfalls across the bedroom floor and a voice asking, "Mommy, can I seep with you?" He's not allowed to wipe his nose on my sleeve.

There's so much love in one little place.

I'm so grateful for the sun.



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Today's post is a link up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary's Just Write. If you want to join in, write something about the details of your day and link up! Be sure to read a few other pieces and get to know some great new writers in the process.


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Monday, January 30, 2012

Some thoughts on friendship...

Becoming a mommy changed the way I saw my friends. I needed them, and they couldn't be here with me. My children were adorable, but they weren't the stuff that made the universe all speckled and milky.

I had friends. We were in love. We stuck needles into one another; we watched the sun rise from the roof of our rented house. We were dangerous and young. We wrapped up in blankets together and stared at the silhouettes of children walking to school. We didn't sleep. We didn't want for anything. I loved them.

After giving birth to my oldest daughter, I couldn't walk fast enough to make it to the bathroom. I pissed blood all over the floor of the hospital. "I don't want anyone to know," I cried and Kurt got on his hands and knees. My feet slipped in the congealing puddle and I gasped. I was in so much pain, and there was a new little life sleeping sweetly in a clear plastic bassinet a few feet away. I didn't know her yet, she was blotting out the sun. She was everything and I didn't know what to do.

Our friend, one of our beloved ones who carried diamonds in his eyes during the rainstorms of our youth... he left a message on Kurt's phone that say wishing us a happy 4-20.

I couldn't stand without help. Kurt bowed at my feet, bathing in my mess, trying to make me clean. There was a baby in the world. She was cut from me. I didn't know her.

My friends couldn't be there. I could have said, "I'm bleeding and I pissed on the floor and I'm afraid these mean nurses will be mad. I can't walk, I hurt so badly and I have a baby. I am a mother and I can't stand up without shaking. I am a mother and I don't think I can do this." I could have said all of that, but it wouldn't have meant anything.

They came to visit me, to see the baby. She was pretty. She was a mystery. They all went back to their lives and I paced the floor until early in the morning, my fingertips cold and numb, the world shrinking away from me and paling. I cried and went mad; there were purple circles under my eyes. My daughter was a diamond in my palm, she was a pearl from an ancient city buried under the waves. She was magnificent and a mirror where I saw all the hurt I'd stuffed inside me. She was a mirror and I didn't know what I was seeing.

Nobody could be there for me.

My mom and I didn't really get along, but she came and stayed up until 4am with me while I watched infomercials and tried to breastfeed. She held my daughter on her lap, little baby belly to her thighs and rubbed Scout's tiny back. I thought my mother had magic powers. I thought of her as my mother for the first time in my life.

I still had friends, and they were across a great space like a valley with a river.





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This post was written in response to a prompt at Write On Edge about exploring friendship. "This week, we’d like you to explore friendship. You can talk about a current friendship or one from your past, a friend you met over kindergarten snacks or happy hour at your first job. Examine your emotional interest in the friendship and the role it plays, or played, in your life."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Love story


The fat old moon will grow jealous and crack and fall into the sea.
That is how I will love you.
The whole world is a silver surface, and then it is shattered.


Moon Lit Beach
photo by jimmy joe



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This was a response to Trifecta Writing Challenge's first weekend prompt. We were asked to write a love story using exactly 33 words. You can read more little love stories and link up your own H E R E.


=

Letter from my husband...

Kurt wrote me this letter yesterday...



I drove two hours to get here, but I then only stayed a handful of
minutes. It was late January, and uncharacteristically warm. Not warm,
but brown instead of white, or crystalline, or clear, or dead – or
whatever the color is of that cold that you feel in your bones. There
were little tiny islands of snow hiding away in the shadows in the
alleys behind the buildings, the places that never see sun. But
mostly, the world was pregnant clouds and mud.

I feigned a migraine, whatever that means, and drove home to you. Two
hours in the opposite direction, the way from which I’d just come.

You’d sent me a picture. You were wearing my flannel shirt, and you
had the top buttons unbuttoned, to expose your throat and the soft,
white skin of your breast to me. And you had the bottom buttons
unbuttoned, too, to expose the perfect roundness and smoothness of
your belly to me, pregnant with my child. Your hair was dreadlocked,
tangled in itself, and in sparkled debris, and in secrets. Your skirt
was handmade – black and long and thin and silken. It hugged lightly
to your feminine hips, and hinted, simultaneously subtle and loud, at
the curvature and grace of your immaculate thighs, hidden beneath. I
pictured the fabric of your skirt touching lightly against the
holiness of your skin, and I had to leave. I could not stay here. I
could not be a minute longer away from you.

So I left.

In the picture you sent, you were biting lightly at the corner of your lips.

I was wild.

I smoked a cigarette to calm my nerves. I watched the smoke trail
through the crack of the window, mingling with the rain, and
disappearing at eighty miles of highway per hour. The air smelled
clean behind the smoke, and the world felt beautiful.

I wondered how I’d have you.

When you sent the picture, it was accompanied with an email. You said,
The world feels right, today. I’m scared. Sometimes, I’m terrified.
But today, I feel calm and good and capable. Our baby is hungry, so
I’m going to feed her. Then I’m going to take her out into the world
and show her what warm, wet January air feels like. I’m going to teach
her what water sounds like when it rolls lightly across and around and
over the flat silver rocks. And when I get tired, I’m going to come
home, and I’m going to wait for you.


I pictured you putting on your silly red hat with the puffballs. I
pictured you twisting a scarf around your neck. I pictured your boots
pressing into the mud, and how you’re like an unlikely angel – a thing
fallen from the sky, abused and tortured, but ultimately too sacred
and gorgeous for this world. You, Amanda King, an unwed pregnant angel
with scarred arms and cigarette-burned skirts. I laughed at the
disparity, but not really. Because it was true. It was easy to look at
you, but not see you.

You’d always been so neon and loud and invincible. But you were
sacred. You’re an honest stained glass window hanging in some wooden
abandoned church in the green hills. You’re untouchable and sadly
alone, though not anymore.

How I wanted you was easy and beautiful. We slept naked, side-by-side, moving against each other in our sleep. Sometimes you slept with our baby pressed into my back. Sometimes I lay against you with my face hidden in your hair, and my hand spread wide across your belly, your fingers locked in mine. My alarm went off before the sun had made it over the dark horizon, and we growled together into the shattered silence. I rolled away from you, onto my back, to kill the alarm, and you were against me before I had a chance to roll back. This time, it was you who spread your fingers across my stomach. Your skin was silver in the streetlamp light. And you sang when I touched you.






32 weeks pregnant with Scouty




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Friday, January 27, 2012

Sometimes, a moment is just a moment.

Every day at the same time, a truck drives by and makes a clanging sound that I think is the mailbox. I don't know why I get so excited by the arrival of the mail. I think I must be lonely.

I'm not the sort of person who needs to not be lonely.

Kurt is the very same way, although he is also shy. I'm not shy. I just don't maintain a proper connection with people. I'm too pent up, in my thoughts. I'm too much inside of me. I will let you down.

Like in this song, all of this might make you think I don't like people, but that isn't quite right. I love people, some of them. I want people to be happy and safe and cared for. I also don't really feel sad when something happens. When the World Trade Center collapsed, I understood that it was sad, but I didn't know how to really feel that sadness. My little world was still in tact.

That's what I mean when I say I'm lonely.

I've been struggling lately with feeling like I'm failing at everything. I'm pretty sure my problem is bleeding. I need to compartmentalize so that I'm not writing in my head when I should be playing with my kids, so that I'm not curled up under a blanket with Scouty watching tv when I should be making dinner, so that I'm not falling asleep and irritable when I should be paying attention to my beautiful husband.

I do everything, but none of it very well. I need to understand that I can be whatever I want to be, but just not all at the same time.

I need to make a time for walking and writing and opening the mail. I need to let every day from 7am - 5pm be for focusing on only being a mommy. When I try to be something else too, during that time, I just end up hating everything I try. I end up feeling scattered and Louisey complains and I resent the fact that she's complaining and I can't come up with any ideas about being a person.

When I'm mommy-ing, I need to do it with my whole heart.
When I'm writing, I need to be alone and for it to be quiet and cold.
When I'm alone with my husband in the evenings, I need to have saved some part of me.
I need to just do the fucking laundry, bake the bread. I need to not be muttering to myself over breakfast.

I am tired and I am lonely and failing because I have no boundaries. All of the parts of me bleed together and turn into something muddy. When my baby cries in the night, I curse god and say, "I was promised this time for sleeping!"

Nobody ever promised me anything.

Except Kurt, when he said, "I will be the first person in your life to treat you the way you deserve."

And except my girls, when they came blinking and arms splayed wide open under the fluorescent lights and promised with their wide little eyes to be pure and good and real, to love me and love me and love me, no matter how distracted I am while we're coloring.

I told Kurt I was quitting writing, I was quitting trying. I was quitting exercise and gardening and sewing. I was quitting trying knots in my hair. I was quitting.

He told me, "Okay, go ahead, because I know you won't."

When I meant is that I'm quitting trying to get away from something. From days that are the same. From a bleached carcass and dreams that paint murder on the horizon. From a desert of love and sorrow.

When I'm mommy, I'm mommy.
When I'm alone, I'm alone.
When I'm somebody's wife, I am a for real partner. I'm not scribbling down notes during commercials.
There needs to be a time for planning dinner and folding clothes. I need to stare at the shirts as I'm hanging them, to feel them, the grain and pattern of the threads and stop making up stories in my head and pretending like I am someone else.

We're not going to fly to Morocco. I'll write when I'm allowed. I'm lonely, but I don't need anybody. I've forgotten everything except the buzz in my thoughts. I'm doing everything, see? So, I am doing nothing.

I'm not required to take advantage of every opportunity. Sometimes a moment to sit down is just a moment to sit down. When the kids are playing quietly or sleeping, I'm not entitled to a chance to read or write or to be a woman who is separate from them. I'm not entitled to anything except the magnificent ocean of love and blood and sorrow that they'll afford me, if I'm paying enough attention.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Beast - Writing Challenge Piece

The beast is in the details.

There is a page ripped out of the travel magazine in the caddy next to the armchair. The needle is stuck on the record. Dinner sits abandoned and congealing in a pan on the stove. A drawer has been jerked open on the night stand. A scream has been stifled. The butt of a gun, smooth and heavy and iron, sparks against the stained porcelain of a pair of front teeth. Coffee rattles in all the cups. Men behind their newspapers sigh like they do. This town is a puddle of ketchup and smoke from a frier.

Still, there is a plane ticket in the back pocket of a pair of worn size zeros. There is an intention as lofty as any, hanging in the air like the lingering smell of gunpowder. There is the matter of a broken heart and a baby on the way; a belly that won't grow. There is the matter, gray and transparent, sliding down the wall behind the bed.

Downstairs, in the diner, Alda Mae will be checking the clock again, cursing under her breath. "That girl," she will mutter. A man in a plaid flannel jacket will shift uncomfortably in his seat and order another coffee. He will barely be able to contain the problem in his pants, she should have been here, by now. She should have been here.



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This post is an entry at Trifecta Writing Challenge. The deal is that you have to write a piece using the third definition of a given word in 33 -333 words. You should give it a try, too and link up here. This week's word is beast.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Once you're broken...

I was walking last night and it occurred to me that once you're broken, you don't ever stop being that broken thing. You can hide, you can change, and parts of you can heal, but it will always be you that was broken.

I'm going through a few days where I want to sleep all the time. I feel like, when I brought my kids into the world, I carved out a capacity in myself to sleep and sleep and sleep. When I'm given the chance, I'll sleep for eighteen hours at a time. Not that I'm ever given that chance...

Louise had a check up this morning and one of our cars is in the shop. We all woke up early and packed into the car to take daddy to work. Then I bought a coffee, except I'm lying. I bought tea. I only ever drink tea. We went to the doctor's office and then walked around the mall to kill time. We even ate lunch at the food court. We stopped at the grocery store and took Scouty to school. During all of this, I felt electric and alive with anxiety. Days and days and days of this. We never stop moving. All I want to do is sleep.

So, it's one o'clock in the afternoon and I'm snuggled in bed under my comforter. The baby is sleeping. I can't fall asleep now because I'll never wake up. I'll sleep right past the time for picking up Scouty. I'll sleep through wasting time until Kurt gets off of work. I'll be sleep when it's time to pick him up. I'll sleep through dinner and keep sleeping through the night. I won't be able to be a person, if I give in, now.

Lots of things have broken me.
I'll never stop being a kid with my parents and my God and so much loneliness.
I'll never stop being a teenager with too much meanness in my heart.
I'll always be the girl who was a junky, the girl who let a man walk all over her.
I'll always be the same person who opened my apartment door to a blond nineteen year old, come to confess her sins.
I'll always be the person who watched my love turned blue.

Becoming a parent breaks you, too. It snaps who you are in half and bleeds you dry. It makes you find all the pieces of you that you hacked at and left along the roadside. It forces you to gather all of those YOUS and put them together in a shape that is capable of power and beauty. Becoming a parent breaks you because you needed to be broken. You can put yourself back together, but you'll never stop being 4am panic attacks and a tiny life in your arms that you don't trust yourself to deserve.

You don't trust yourself because you've been torn into a million pieces, all throughout your life. You've built a self-thing with your youth. You taped it up around the edges and wore it on your face and called it by your name. This self-thing believed like you believed, it did the things you did, but it wasn't you. It wasn't all of the YOU put together. It was something that denied kissing boys behind the church. It was something pretending to be something other than the kid in too-tight corduroys who won a trophy from Smoky the Bear for drawing a picture.

Then, you had a baby, and the thing you claimed to be crumbled. The thing you thought you loved, the self-thing that propelled you forward and consumed all your thoughts was suddenly only dirt and oil and clay.

The real you was in pieces. The real you was broken. Now it was time to pick everything up and start putting it back together. You'll never be the same as when you were eleven and your dad snapped your bra strap and all the heat in the world rushed into your face to die, but that was still you. You are still her. You've changed, but you can never make it so that you're not her, so that those things didn't happen to you.




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Today's post is a link up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary's Just Write. If you want to join in, write something about the details of your day and link up! Be sure to read a few other pieces and get to know some great new writers in the process.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I'm a failure and that's okay.

When I feel like I've failed somebody, I shut down and run away.

A friend of mine asked me to make her a skirt. She gave me money for it, and then she didn't get back to me with her measurements for months and months, which was totally fine with both of us.

So, then, I had a wedding and a few weeks later, a baby.

In the mess, I forgot all about her skirt. (Don't worry. Nobody was mad. This is leading somewhere.)

So, a year or so later, at the beginning of fall, she emailed me to see how I was doing and very pleasantly asked if I still had her skirt. She was just thinking about it and IN NO WAY acted like she was upset or disappointed in me. I apologized profusely, offered to send her money and called myself all kinds of bad names. She said, "Don't be sorry. I don't even care." I said, "Your skirt is almost finished. It is with all my sewing stuff in my closet. I will finish it right now and send it to you."

But then, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I felt so shitty about messing up and forgetting about this skirt which I was making for a very good, very established old friend who used to live near me and I slept over at her house with my asshole boyfriend and passed out without any pants on and she saw my butt. That was years ago. Anyway, the point is that she's an awesome person and an awesome friend and I've known her since before I was an acceptable human being. She wasn't mad, and she even acknowledged that she caused the delay, too, by taking so long to get back to me with her measurements.

In my life, I feel a great pressure to be good at things. I don't handle failure well. I hold myself to an impossible standard in a lot of venues. When I DO disappoint somebody, I revert back to my old way of handling things. I push it out of my mind and stop trying to succeed. I just run away.

I couldn't face that skirt. I got it down from storage and got out my sewing machines. There was about 20 minutes of work left to do. I couldn't do it. I couldn't make my fingers move. I couldn't do anything. I was a big fat asshole and a terrible friend and a disappointment and a jerk. I was a stupid fuckface who couldn't be trusted to get a job done. I was a failure. A stupid jerk failure can't sew. A stupid jerk failure can't do anything. So, I shoved the skirt back into the closet and closed the door and ran away from it.

Running away used to involve disappearing and putting a needle in my arm. Now, it just involves immersing myself in other things. Trying to distract myself from how crappy I am at living life.

My friend emailed me about her life and totally didn't even kind of mention the skirt, but the only thing I could see when reading her words was how I was a disappointment. I wrote back, but really the whole time I could feel the unhemmed skirt between us, making me feel guilty and paralyzing me.

It took me WEEKS to complete the last 20 minutes of sewing. I finally grew some balls, accepted that sometimes I make mistakes and sat down and finished it.

I know that finishing what I start, even if I've messed up along the way, feels WAY better than running away from failing. Accepting that I'm an asshole sometimes, I forget things, I have moments where I'm selfish or where I've taken on too much and let things slip... accepting those times that I don't make everybody happy, where I embarrass myself or disappoint somebody... and allowing those parts of me to BE REAL. Trying to fix them is better than denying that they happen and closing them up inside me so that they eat me up, or maybe I eat them up and they're gone, but they're not really gone.

The thing is, Sarah, I'm sorry I forgot about your skirt. You're an awesome friend and I know that you weren't disappointed in me. I have a terrible time dealing with being wrong and making a mistake and I'm sorry. When you asked about your skirt, it all came whooshing back to me, how I put it away, meaning to finish it after the wedding and before the baby. I freaked out and felt like a bad friend. Instead of just finishing it up and sending it out to you and trusting that you're good enough and awesome enough (which you are) to understand and forgive me, I got embarrassed that I made a mistake, and that made me feel scared and sad so I ran away. That was a stupid way to behave and I'm sorry. I've been behaving this way, in one form or another, for pretty much my whole life. I'm sorry if my weird issues with failing caused you to feel like you weren't important to me. I hope you like your skirt and I'm glad we're friends.

And also, I think this might be the start of something big, for me.

While I have certainly been doing this kind of thing forever, I don't think I knew that I was doing it. I think I just tried never to fail so that I didn't have to acknowledge it. I never attempted to do anything unless I was pretty sure I would succeed. I white-knuckled the balls out of my life and snapped at anybody who insinuated I wasn't doing EVERYTHING right.

The thing is...

I forget to do things I said I would do, sometimes.
I snap at Louisey when she whines and whines and whines.
I get impatient with Kurt when he does things differently than I would do them.
I eat all the ice cream.
I don't call people back when they leave me voice mails.
Whatever.

I do a lot of things wrong. I don't want to stuff them in the closet and distract myself, anymore. I want to be the kind of person who can fail without going all haywire and red faced and defensive. It's going to be a lifetime of undoing things that have been DONE TO DEATH, but I'm going to try.

I'm going to try to be more receptive to the idea that I can make mistakes and be wrong and fail you, sometimes... and that being and doing all of those things doesn't mean that I'm shit. It doesn't mean that I need to run away from you. It just means that I'm a person.

Thank you ALL for being patient with me, because I'm a piece of work, sometimes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Writing Survey from Trifecta





What is your name (real or otherwise)?
Amanda

Describe your writing style in three words.
Bleak, honest, grand

How long have you been writing online?
Years and years. I used to keep a semi-private online journal where I bitched about my boyfriends and bragged about all the cool drugs I did. Then I had a baby and went crazy with responsibility and grew up. Then I had another baby and wrote up all the words in the world and my writing finally grew up, too. I've been writing seriously at this blog for about a year.

Which, if any, other writing challenges do you participate in?
I used to do Indie Ink, but the commitment became too much. I had to sign up ahead of time and then actually write my piece on time. I have just started linking up at Write On Edge and I love it.

Describe one way in which you could improve your writing.
I could stop being so neurotic about it. Or maybe it's just part of the deal. I haven't decided, but I am totally neurotic about it. When I start talking about writing, my husband gets all edgy and nervous.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
This, only I'm not sure I was really "given" it.

Who is your favorite author?
I don't know. I read about 10 books per month and I have no idea what my favorite books are or who my favorite author is.

How do you make time to write?
I don't have to "make time" to do it. It's something that I actively want to do. People always say that if you want something, you make time for it.

Give us one word we should consider using as a prompt.
I don't know. Steamy?

Direct us to one blog post of yours that we shouldn't miss reading.
Here's a post about sex.


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This was a survey from Trifecta Writing Challenge and I linked up here.

Therapy...

I went to therapy once.

My therapist was a sweet little graduate student in her early fifties. I thought that she couldn't help me.

She asked me to talk about my family. I didn't know what to say. She said to tell me about my mother.

I said, "She's fine. I don't know."

Eventually, I found a place to start. I was the oldest of four. I was the only one who rebelled. We were poor. We were a family in love with Christ.

"My father has personality problems," I said. "He doesn't get along with anybody. Everybody hates him. Everybody at his jobs, at the church, my whole life, everybody has always hated him."

I probably didn't hate him, though. I probably wanted to love him. He didn't love me, though.

I talked to the little therapist for a few minutes, not really getting to the meaning behind anything. How do I tell somebody about my father without starting at the beginning, in a hollow in a coal bed in the 1950s, the streams all running thick and yellow with runoff? A grandfather dead of a brain tumor, a grandmother that studied witchcraft.

I said, "I think it probably disturbs me that my dad is such a bad person."

My therapist blinked a few times from behind her glasses. She reminded me of something innocuous, like a turtle. Then, she turned to the clipboard in her lap and started scribbling furiously. I must have been on to something.

I talked for a few more minutes. She nodded at me encouragingly. Eventually, she said, "Let's talk some more about your dog."

My dog?

I said, "What do you mean? Like my dog that lives at my mom's house?"

"You said you feel disturbed that your dog is a bad person," she encouraged.

"What?" I asked. "No, I didn't. My dog is kind of annoying, but he's just a dog."

"A few minutes ago, you said--"

"My dad," I said. "A few minutes ago I told you that my dad is a bad person."

"Oh," she said, studiously running her eraser over the clipboard, making notes in the margins.

"You thought I said that my dog was a bad person?" I asked. "What exactly would that have said about me?"

"No, well," she fumbled. "It wouldn't have made much of a difference."

"Then why are you erasing and scribbling stuff out?" I asked.

"Lots of people regard their dogs as people," she said.

"That's not true," I answered. "Only crazy people do that. You thought I was like... over the moon insane and you wrote it down in my chart. Make sure you erased everything."

"Let's talk about your dad," she said.

"I don't know," I said. "I don't think so."

"Here," she said, gathering herself. "Let's do a relaxation exercise. Your face is getting red and you're feeling agitated."

I thought that this therapist still had a lot to learn in grad school. She pulled her chair up to mine. We placed our knees together and she asked me to close my eyes.

"I don't really like this," I said.

"What about it do you not like?" she asked.

"I don't like my knees touching yours," I said. "It's not very relaxing."

She scooted back a few inches. In a soothing, innocuous little turtle voice, she started intoning about being on a beach. "You're sitting in a chair on the beach. Feel the warm sunlight on your face. You're alone. Miles and miles of open sand stretch out all around you."

I thought about my dog. I had to admit that I wasn't really a dog person. My dog stole cookies out of my hand. He peed on my bedroom door when I locked him out, once. There was once time... it was Christmas Eve and I had a moment of tenderheartedness towards him. I was half-drunk and twenty years old, sitting at the kitchen table playing a board game with my family. There was rum in the cider. I knew my dog would just steal my cookies, but I called to him. "Come here, Bowie." I let him jump up on my lap.

After a few minutes, I felt something warm seeping through the cotton of my skirt. Oh god. I dropped him back to the floor and there was a spreading circle of leaky dog poop on my leg. I lived across town. It was late at night.

"The dog just pooped on me," I said and everybody laughed.

I had to drive back home in the snow to shower and change.

Maybe my dog was a bad person. I was certainly pretty disturbed by that incident.

"There," the therapist said. "How do you feel?"

"A little uncomfortable," I said. She had crept forward in her seat enthusiastically and her knees were touching mine again.

"UNcomfortable?" she asked in disbelief.

"I don't think this is working for me," I said.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Like a fury from the ocean

I wrote a fantasy about you. I was twenty seven and pregnant with your baby. In creative writing class at college, I wrote something about riding the bus all night and a sea of empty parking spaces at the end of the line. Wind across the blacktop like a fury from the ocean. In my dream, we shared a flask and I slept on your shoulder. I had your child inside of me, and I wanted to be lost with you. I wanted us to not have a home.

My dad was mean to me when I was a kid. There are moments that rise to the surface of my memory, slick-backed and shooting water in all directions. We went to the beach and I walked with my dad to the pier.

There were fishermen and seagulls and my dad hated me, but there were moments like these.

I leaned over the railing and watched the water crashing against the beams. I watched as the earth churned, inspired by magic deep inside its core. There was magic in these moments. I loved what he loved for a moment. I forgot who I was. He pointed to a dark spot in the water. It grew and grew to the size of a dinner table and the shell of a sea turtle emerged, alien and mythic and black, my heart stood still.

It was only a moment. I saw four legs released at her sides. She took a breath and disappeared under the foam and agitation. I worried about her in the surf. I wanted her to go back, to go far away from here.


See Sea Turtle
photo by dan zen



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I linked up with Write On Edge. Today's prompt was “The cure for anything is salt water….sweat, tears or the sea.”
~ Isak Dinesen, pseudonym of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke



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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Don't stop growing.


You are so big, I don't know what to do.

Last night, we sat on the couch together. You were stalling over bedtime. I traced your little nose with my fingers and remembered you. I could see the baby in you, like I just brought you home.

Mostly, though, you are so big.

I asked you if you could stop growing, please and you told me, "Everything has to grow. Even grown ups had to grow at some point."

I thought about John Irving's Hotel New Hampshire and how Lily would be little forever, about how she wrote to grow. When she was writing, she thought, "I'm growing."

I think grown ups better keep growing, too.

You'll keep getting bigger, I know. I'll try to keep getting bigger, too, so that I can keep up with you. I don't want you to lose me from your great heights.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Only the boy - Writing Challenge Piece

Elliott was a boy who wrote things; towering stories that drowned the world in sorrow. Sometimes when he wrote at night the windows cracked. Pine boughs crashed in through the ceiling and it started to rain. Fat drops of water fell from the ends of his hair, he wiped his brow with a soaking sleeve and carried on. Sometimes when he wrote, his father was dead and his mother was dead, too. He lived alone on a dark island of madness. He wrote things that put out the sun forever.

Nobody knows anybody, he thought, scribbling. His head was aching. A dull throb issued from behind his eyes.

He'd gotten into an argument with his father after his mother appeared around the corner from the hallway and said to him, "My sweet one, how I love you is like the end of everything." She kissed Elliott on his lips, in a gesture so familiar and also long dead.



His father turned red. He watched her like she was something nimble and full of lean meat. She was his wife; she made him feel so empty inside. He wanted to be full like when they were young, to hold sway over when her lips stuck together minutely as she smiled. She didn't smile for him any more, only the boy.

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This post is an entry at Trifecta Writing Challenge. The deal is that you have to write a piece using the third definition of a given word in 33 -333 words. You should give it a try, too and link up here. This week's word is sway.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

What about all those boys?

I've been thinking about socializing. We all say that going to high school is important, because otherwise, how will our kids know how to interact with other kids? We think that if our kids are home schooled, they won't know the ins and outs of fighting with mean girl friends, of being rejected, of having to be mean themselves, in order to survive. They won't understand what it takes to be successful, that you have to be rich and/or pretty to worth anything. They won't feel shamed into hating themselves every moment of every day.

That's what we mean when we say "socializing" right? We mean that it's important that our kids learn that the world is a hard place and that people can be mean and things can be unfair.

It kind of sucks, if you think about it.

I can still remember times in elementary school where something happened to embarrass me.

When I had chicken pox, the school nurse looked at my butt. She checked for them all over me and then said, "I'm just going to take a quick peek in here." When she pulled back the waistband of my pants, she said, "Aren't you wearing underwear?"

I was wearing underwear. They were just too big and worn out around the elastic and they kept falling down. I reached into my pants and grabbed two big handfuls and hiked them up, feeling like I was going to die of embarrassment.

The nurse said, "Oh! There they are! What were they doing way down there?" and I felt like it wasn't fair. I had been struggling with those underwear all day. There wasn't anything I could do but leave them bunched up in the seat of my pants, because what? Was I going to keep digging around in there and pulling them up all day? Now, she got to make a little joke and laugh about when they had been plaguing me and ruining my life all morning.

I used to be kept up at night by that moment. Wide eyed and clutching my sheets against my throat in total and utter shame.

I remember a time when the two most rich and popular girls in my class got into a fight, and suddenly, one of them was best friends with me. For two whole days, a pretty, shiny haired girl with a hounds-tooth peacoat dragged me around the playground, sat next to me at lunch and passed me notes in class. I hated it because everybody, including me, knew that she was better than me; and it was also the thrill of my little life.

Once, standing in the lunch line, the girl next to me said, "Why do you wear things like that?"

I was wearing a brown and maroon shirt with a flower pattern, puffy sleeves and a string that tied around my neck. It was from the thrift store and the sleeves dug into my arms every time I reached for something. I was wearing it because I didn't have a choice.


These things have been with me for 25 years. Sometimes, one of them will pop into my head at night and I'll feel dark and ashamed and lonely. I'll get a knot in my stomach and feel like I'm going to puke. Then I'll say to myself, "What the fuck are you doing? You're a grown up."

I couldn't care less about it now, if a nurse wanted to look at my butt and discovered that my underwear were totally sub par. I've had babies. Trust me, I've had a million worse things perpetrated against me by nurses. But somehow, that incident stayed with me.


Maybe I've gotten off track. I started by thinking about school and about how we think it's important to be thrown into a setting that means sink or swim. Maybe I even agree that it's important, in a way. I certainly agree with public education. I'm sure I could teach my girls eighth grade math. I'm sure I could give a convincing lesson about symbolism in The Scarlet Letter. I can't know things I don't know, though. I can't teach my girls eighth grade math from the prospective of an Italian man who looks like Jeff Goldblum and talks with a slight lisp, you know? (His name was Dr. Uccilinni, but we called him Dr. Useless Weeny. Pure gold, right? I can't replicate that.)


There were things about being part of the terrible institution of high school that were even exhilarating. What about all those boys? What about smoking weed with my best friend out of a coke can and laughing so hard I thought for sure that you peed your pants? What about the times I was so drunk I actually did pee my pants? What about the youth group boys who told me over the phone that I was "more than a handful?" What about scotch and wandering drunk around the Christmas tree farm?

I stumbled onto a mama deer and her baby. Just came crashing through a row on pine trees and fell on my knees. They watched me for a few minutes and the sky was full of stars. The whole was a globe of water. I could see the sky curving around us, I could tap on the glass surface of the moon.

What about graduating and making out with boys in cars? What about when a boy would tell you he loved you but he was really just trying to be gentlemanly about wanting to touch your boobs? What about feeling like you were smart and right and boundlessly young? What about having the whole world stretching all around you like a dream, about plans to run away to juggle on the Atlantic City Boardwalk for cigarettes and dollar bills to buy giant slices of pizza with puddles of grease?

I don't want those things for my kids. I want them to be good girls. I want them to get good grades and work hard. I want them to have nice girl friends and sweet boyfriend who wear glasses and floss their teeth and maybe play the clarinet. I guess I don't know what I want for them. I want them to be able to be happy, when they're grown. I want them to feel like they were set up to feel powerful. I want them to be powerful.

I don't know what to do with all of that. My girls have interrupted me a thousand times since I started writing this and I don't even remember what my point was.

I think the point of having babies is to give yourself away, to annihilate yourself so that you and your child can grow together. What is the point of having teenagers? I guess it's another kind of annihilation. I guess it's about letting go and trusting that you've both grown into something good enough to make it in a world people need to be socialized against. I guess the point of everything is just to make it together.


Me, as the terrible kind of young person my girls would never dream of being, right? Oh hell, though. Does it matter? No matter what, they are loved more perfectly and fiercely than the soil loves the sun. Still, though. I was pretty bad...



-

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Steal from the crows...

It's winter and it's cold and there isn't very much light. I was thinking about how I don't feel right. How I want the sun and I want to walk outside in the grass. I want there to be light on my face, in the morning. I feel a million miles away from living.

I get anxious in the evenings, just before Kurt gets home. Like, I almost make it, but not quite. Like the hour between 4 and 5 is darkening too quickly.

I was thinking that it's probably okay.

It's probably okay that I don't feel the same in the winter. Everything is gone; all the trees are bare. All the city colors are covered over in salt. I can't walk very far. I'm intolerant of wind. My lips crack and bleed.

Why wouldn't I feel it in my bones when the sun goes down without ever having been here? Why do I try to internalize these feelings and say, "Something is wrong with me?" Something is wrong with the world. There is nowhere to bury my head, everything is hard and frozen over. The birds are all gone but the crows. They remember things. If you steal from them, they remember your face.

I'm lost deep in things. I have imaginary friends, only they aren't imaginary. I have relationships with them in my head. Sometimes they get stuck and I get stuck and I can't come back into the world until I've lived them. That's called story telling and I rant to Kurt at night on the couch. I want to be something. I want to eat all the words I read and make myself out of them. I just want this. I want to die, halfway between moss and the moon.

I want the stars to know my face. I want to steal from the crows. It's winter and that's probably okay.

I'm proud of myself for this, for the hours behind my eyes, for the late nights and tears in the evening. I used to not know who I was. I used to think I knew everything.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Scouty at 4 months.

I found these.

Kurt and I were talking about, "What if we could go back in time and have Scouty again?"

What if we weren't so young and so scared? If we could take everything we know and go back and pick her up out of the clear plastic bassinet at the hospital. It would have been so easy, if we had known.

The fear that nothing would ever be easy again kept us from letting time go by. Every time she cried, we turned our skin inside out. Every night she didn't sleep we feared we would never rest again.

I loved her with something so fresh and alive, though. I didn't have gray hair at my temples, yet. I didn't have a habit of sitting up in bed and staring at the silhouette of the bare tree in the neighbors yard against the blue night sky.

I had a first day of being a mommy, once. That is something.

These are from when Scouty was 4 months old.


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Friday, January 13, 2012

Too late for happiness...

I was sitting in one of the comfortable chairs in the window room at the library working on a story about teenagers when a friend sent me this article.

The Love of My Life by Cheryl Strayed.

Do you know the feeling where you read something that is so awful and brilliant and FOR REAL, that it makes you feel like you'll never be able to love anything properly again? Because all the love you had in your heart just got poured into reading this beautiful piece of writing and all at once, you want to throw your hands up in the air and give up.

That feeling always goes away and I'm able to love again. But for a minute, I was a goner.

Being a person is hard.

I'm not even sure what I want, as a creature.

I want to be happy, but sometimes I'm not sure that's possible. Are people happy?

Maybe, by the time we're grown, it's too late for happiness because we've done the things that will make us into people. We've woken up on all our Christmas mornings, we've been loved by our parents or we haven't. We've walked in on homeless men washing their private parts in the sink. We've known people who wanted to hurt us. We couldn't depend on ourselves when we needed to be dependable. Just when we were nailing down all of our ideas about what we were, we were also small and weak and scared. We were young when we needed to be old, and now it's too late to say, "I just want to be happy."

I want to love my life. Or maybe I just want to like it. Maybe I even want to be allowed to hate parts of it. I want to be allowed to not be ashamed of the parts I hate.

I don't know if that's right.

Beauty is a thing, and we're all told that beauty isn't what we think it is. It isn't what we see. What happens when we see inside somebody? They're awful and they'll break your heart, but they're full of beauty.

Some of them are ugly, through and through, no matter how they look on the outside. They're like lightning bugs scraped over a rock, a tiny streak of brightness and the rest is all gore. The thing about happiness is that we don't learn not to let those ugly people near us until they've already been inside and wiped their bloody hands all over the walls of our lungs and severed the tie on the underside of our tongues. Some people never learn to lock ugly out. Some people never learn anything and they die and they were animals.

Just like seagulls mating on the wet sand. They were animals.

Mostly, though, we grow up and our lives hold still and we have babies and we learn to accept ourselves, in a way. We buy houses and pick our friends and have ways we like to pass the time. Some of us write stories and sometimes people actually see us. There is nothing wrong.

But, we've already lived through our youth and in our youth, everything was wrong. We'll never get away from it, even though we have. We'll never be anybody other than a little girl picking a scab from her knee and shifting uncomfortably against the hardness of a church pew. We'll never be able to undo how we lost our virginity and it wasn't like we thought. How afterwards, the boy said, "What did you think?" and we said, "Think of what?" and he got mad. We'll never be able to pluck these things from the meat of us. We'll never be able to dig out the earring we found in the sheets. We'll never be able to forget how we weren't loved and how we couldn't even protect ourselves.

This is why some people believe we should tell our stories backwards. This is why some people never learn anything and then they die.

Maybe I want to be happy, but I'll honor myself by knowing that happiness isn't really a thing. Not like beauty and love. So, if I don't want to be happy, what do I want?

I want to love things so much that I'm sure I'll never love again, and then I want to go home and love my kids and my husband. I want to protect myself from animals on the beach. I want to remember that things could have gotten worse, but they didn't.

Things got better.
If I'm too late for happiness, at least I can say that things got better.


Me, as a teenager. Taken through a playground tunnel.



-

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Louisey's big jokes.

Louisey woke up in the middle of the night crying for her cuppy. She's developed an overly intense relationship with her cuppy over the past few days. It seems like no matter what day it is, or what time it is or what we're doing, she's either holding on to it like it's her best friend, or she's whining about not having it.

She's become something new.

Do you know how they do that? You have a baby and they're something solid and they like peas and climbing up the stairs, but then one day you wake up and they're something totally different.

Louisey, right now, is a hilarious, big fat party baby. She has tons of jokes, like when she puts food or a plate or a toy on her head and screams "Look!" so that you have to look, and then we all laugh. We collapse against each other and squeal, "French fry head!" or "Bowl head!" and Louise is so proud of herself for being so funny.

She also whiles away hours of our lives saying, "Knock knock!" We answer, "Who's there?" She says, "Perry!" We say, "Perry who?" And she booms in her ridiculous little 18 month old voice, "HA HA HA!"

Some people just know what's funny, I guess.

She will get your attention and start pointing to things. She'll point to herself and you say, "Louisey." She'll point to Scouty and you say, "Sissie." She points to her head and her shirt and her shoes. You say, "Head. Shirt. Shoes."

Then, she gets this big, smart smile and she points to her butt.

We all collapse against each other saying, "Butt," and laughing and laughing and Louise feels like she must be some kind of genius. She watches people all day long and none of them laugh with as much convincing vigor as we do when she points to her butt and raises her little eyebrows saying, "Here it comes. This is the money part. They're gonna say butt."

Butt.

Kurt and I never used to be the kinds of people who laughed about butts. We were delinquents and urchins. We waited in alleys behind abandoned buildings. We ducked behind shrubs to vomit. I ate a steady diet of ramen and donut sticks from the gas station at the end of the block. Somehow, laughing about butts was too lowbrow for us.

Louisey's latest bit of comic revelation is that she'll say to you, "Look!" in her bright little baby voice, and when you look at her, she has something jammed in her nose. The straw of her cup, a sweet potato fry, a plastic Mickey Mouse arm, a crispy potato stick in the car.

I tried telling Scouty not to laugh because I didn't want Louisey to feel encouraged in this particular endeavor, but lord help her, she's four and she can't help but laugh.

On our way to school this afternoon, there was a chorus of "Look!" and then bubbling waterfall laughter from Big Sissy coming out of the back seat. Over and over again.

"Mommom, look!" Louisey called to me.

I glanced in the rear view mirror to see that she had the spout of her sippy pressed against her nose so that she looked like a little pig.

"Okay, Louisey," I tried. "That's not funny. You're going to get something stuck up there."

"And then what would happen?" Scouty asked.

"Well..." I said. "We'd have to take her to the doctor to have it removed so that it didn't um, get into her brain and make her go crazy."

"She's already crazy!" Scouty said.

"Look!" Louisey screamed.

Scouty laughed harder than ever. "Ew, mom! Louisey just stuck her potato stick in her nose and then bit off the boogery part!"

I used to feel a little sanctimonious about my children. They were so sweet and beautiful and mild mannered. Just think about all the things I must have done right.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My words and intentions. And my new computer.

I'm writing this from the comfort of my very own bed. After years of plugging away at my stories, sitting at a crappy little desktop in the corner of the dining room, Kurt saved the day.

I'm wrapped up in blankets, nestled happily into the microfiber.

I have a box fan running next to me to drown out the sounds of my girls playing with daddy. They make a lot of sounds.

Nobody is interrupting me. Nobody is asking me for something to drink. Nobody wants to play Nick Jr. Games online, right in the middle of my love scene.

Maybe Phineas and Ferb or Blues Clues is playing somewhere, I wouldn't know. I'm tucked up into my own corner of the house with the lights off.

This was the piece I was waiting for. I am ready to put my face to the stone.

I have big ideas boiling over inside of me.

My husband is a beautiful thing.

I love him.

Not just because he bought me a new computer, either.

------------------------------


I put an excerpt of my novel up, today. I've decided that instead of acting like this business is private and lonely... I should send my words and intentions out into the world. I'm looking for the right agent. I'm really looking hard. I'm ready.

Today, my friend said in an email: You are a force to be reckoned with....keep flinging your words out and they will rise.

I thought that sounded about right.

You can read a little piece of my book H E R E.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's time to put on my big kid pants.

I've been stalling.

This is my notice that I have to stop writing a bunch of crappy stories and participating in challenges and linking up all over the place.

I need to work on my book.

I need to stop saying, "Well, I'm just keeping my writing muscles toned. I'll get to my ACTUAL writing when the time is right."

The time is never right.

I want to stop playing around.

It's silly to be trying to keep up my querying and feeling legitimate, when I'm using my energy to write a story about the time you lost a finger.

This is a writing rut. This is what I've chosen to do so that I can stall with an alibi. I can't honestly say, I've been working on writing projects! I have! My latest "project?" Well, it involved a sinking boat, a piece of string, a record player and a banana.

I'm just treading water because I'm daunted by the process of finding an agent. I'm daunted by the idea that there are millions of people in the world and they all have different tastes in things, and agents are people, too. They are faces in the crowds of people I interact with every day. They have different tastes and different ideas, and on top of that, they have to consider the market and what they think they can sell. And on top of THAT, they are wading through hundreds of query letters every day. Every single day. On top of that, do you have any idea how busy I am with a one year old and a four year old? Do you have any idea how much time I don't have to be following this dream?

It seems almost impossible to find one who gets me, but it's not. Everybody feels that way. Everybody who has ever started from nothing and made it has felt that way. It's just part of what is true.

It's not impossible because I know I'm not just another writer with a dream. I'm a force of nature. I've written a behemoth. I've written something with my guts all intertwined in the pages. I've written something that somebody will fall in love with. And I know I can do it again.

I swear I'm not delusional.

I know you can't afford to waste your time believing me until I'm published.

That's okay.

I'm taking a new stance.

I am going to be published.

I've taken some time out to lick my wounds. I've taken some time to play around and wallow in my failure.

The thing is, I haven't failed. I've barely even skimmed the surface of the giant shit-pool of failure and rejection that awaits me if I want to be FOR REAL about this. Barely anybody spends a few month querying a few dozen agents and is discovered. This is about being scared, getting rejected, getting rejected, crying a little bit, trying again, getting rejected, crying a little bit and getting rejected some more.

This is about gutting myself and being willing to bleed.

No more little stories about nothing. No more wasting my momentum on something I know doesn't matter.

I've been writing in my pajamas. It's time to put on my big kid pants.

I have big plans.

Watch out, now. I'm about to get PROFESSIONAL about this.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Making things...

Cheesy, my mom and Scouty.

What have you been working on, lately?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My children are why I know there isn't a God.

It's so warm and I feel like I'm sending out my leaves too early. There is no way this isn't spring. I'm alive all over with energy and ideas. I'm ready to start planting seeds and working the soil.

My girls and I, we've fallen into a comfortable way with pajamas until lunch time and tickling the baby. My big girl is an amazing thing. She is Big Sister with so much patience and grace and maturity. She would rather die than make her baby cry. I feel sometimes like I'm witnessing something impossible. She is so brave and kind and selfless.

I almost started to cry writing that description of her. Now, I'm feeling an overwhelming urge for you to know the truth about my daughters. They are impossible in their beauty. They are so gentle and patient with one another and with me.

Louisey is one year old, so when she needs her cuppie she needs it NOW. That's just the way the world is when you're one. But, she also shares me with knowledge and understanding. She is confident with my love. She knows that I will love her sister and that my love doesn't diminish when I give it away. There will always be love left for her. She's a baby and she knows that.

They live their lives as little people who believe the world to be a fair and kind place. Because of them, I almost believe the world to be a fair and kind place. There are people dying, we're killing people. We eat without knowing what we're doing. We are like oil in the ocean. We can't see, but we're running anyway. There is evil like a smokestack. Because of how kind my daughters are to one another, I believe the world is made up of things that are good.

Because we're out there. We're nestled into little beds in cold rooms. We're squinting against the sun all winter. We're shooing away the diamonds in the snow. We're holding our babies tight, aren't we? We're out there and we're making it in a world so full of fear that there's a hole in the sky. We live here and we love our sons and daughters. We duck our heads against manipulation and poisoning and we love our sons and daughters.

The world is big and the world is bad, but we make our own lives, don't we? We make our own lives and we love one another and protect one another and I'm so proud of us for all we do, even when we're set up to fail. We're set up to be afraid, to feel powerless and to listen to skeletons and research. We're all set up to live without having lived, and so many people will die that way. They'll die and wonder with their last breath, "What did I do?"

But, we're here, too. We love our babies and we seek warmth and light. We make things with our hands, we build cities with our words. We have nothing and we send everything we have into the world. We lace our love together in patterns that blanket everything. My daughters are shining examples of purity in a world where nothing is sacred. Every breath they take brings me one step closer to dying with this on my lips: "I know what I have done and life was beautiful."

My little ones are why I know there isn't a God. How could there be? Nobody gave them to me, nobody allowed me to love them. We fought for one another, through wastelands of tainted biology and a desperate love for their father so bloody and true it could have killed us. How much I love them is something I do of my own volition. It is something I worked for while the world slept. It is something I forged out of living bone. My love for them is where I meet my maker. My love for them is why the trees grow. The moon hangs in the sky to watch how sweetly they sleep. The sun comes up to illuminate the golden strands of their hair. They are everything. Nobody gave them permission to save the world. They are the world. They just did it because they are everything and I love them that way.





-

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bravery, truth and hugging



Lots of times, people say I'm brave when I write something like THIS that reveals some of the less flattering parts of me and my experience. While I appreciate this compliment, I also find it kind of sad that we have to be brave in order to tell the truth about who we are.

I wish it wasn't brave to say, "I've done this and it wasn't very smart." I wish it was just part of how life worked. I wish we all went around offering the truth all the time. I wish we didn't feel like living meant that we just had to accept that we are going to be strangled by secrets. I wish that everybody understood that there isn't anything they've done that is worth hiding.

Well, unless you're a pile of shit. If you're a fucking douche bag who hurts people and robs people and makes the world a terrible place for people... well, go ahead and pretend you're not you. Nobody cares, anyway.

But, you.

Little, beautiful person who is full to the brim of experiences and love and fear and pain. You, who are nervous stepping out of your door in the morning. You, who is telling yourself that you're not good enough, you're not worthwhile, you're not amazing.

You are amazing. Even the not-so-flattering parts of you. Even the parts that make you cry in dressing room mirrors. Even the parts that keep you up at night. The parts that make you scared to check your voice mail. The parts that you want to deny.

There isn't anything to gain from hiding. There is so much connection and beauty to gain by standing up and saying, "I am here. This is what I am, as best as I know. This is what I think and this is how I feel. This is what I've done. I am lonely not because I deserve it, but because we're all lonely."

Maybe if we all offered one another the truth instead of a white-washed, watered down, spruced up version of what it means to be us, we wouldn't feel so lonely all the time.

I know you're lonely. I know this because people are sad. We shoot off in all different directions, chasing different things in different bodies, but all we really want is another human being to press up against in the night. The only time we ever feel really good is when we're wrapping our arms around somebody. When we're opening our lips for somebody else's lips. The time we're the most happy is when we find somebody to get inside of, or to invite inside of us. We claw at one another, trying to bury ourselves in the cavity of our togetherness. We call it love. We want to be so close and so happy that we create new people out of that love. We want to create new life when we're happy.

All we want is to be inside of one another.

This is why I think that the concept of hugging is tremendously sad. We're just little animals who want to be together. It is sad that we create so much illusion and we tell so many half-truths about who we are, that we're willing to torture ourselves for our partners, for somebody to keep us warm. People die all the time because the right person doesn't love them. People die all the time because they're lonely.

That's why you need to tell the truth. That's how I know who you are. That's how I know that you see me and I see you. Because we all feel the same things about the hard stuff. We all want to collapse sometimes. We all feel unsafe and afraid of being exposed. We all get mad, we all get afraid, we all have crushes on inappropriate people and cry because of songs about beauty. We all get overwhelmed. We all hate ourselves. We all make mistakes. We all do bad things on purpose. We're all selfish. We're all mutable. We're all for real and we all need to see the light of day.

We're little tornadoes in the same storm. We have to tell the truth because then we might not be by ourselves. We might not be alone. I'm not brave, I just want you beside me. I just want to be you. I just want you inside me.



-

Friday, January 6, 2012

Don't Cry For Love - Iggy as a metaphor for writing

Here is where I'm about to blow your mind by using Iggy Pop as a metaphor for writing.

I'm trying to be a writer. Or I am a writer, or whatever. The difference is semantics and nice people utilize them to make me feel better. I write, whatever that's worth.

I've been trying to find an agent for the past six months. Agents break my heart. They tell me that my project is "interesting". They tell me that I'm not for them.

It's easy for me to want to make sense of all the rejection. I can get caught up in feeling "unmarketable". I look around and see that people I know are writing books about walking away from a divorce in a fabulous pair of Italian leather high heels and they're finding success, god bless them.

I feel like I'm too ugly, too bloody, too dark, too quirky, too sexy, too mad, too wild. I feel like a misfit.

Most people in the world don't "get" me. Some people don't like what I do. Lots of people don't really care about what I write. They think it's sweet that I'm a boisterous little writer with a dream and a little bit of spunk.

And then, there are a few of you that are RIGHT HERE with me. There are a few amazing people who feel a little bit like when I talk about me, I'm talking about you. You're misfits, too. You get it. You get me so hard and so dirty. You get me.


So. As a writer, I'm subject to advice about writing. I hear all the time that I shouldn't "write for the market." That I should be true to myself and my voice.

I have to admit, there are times where I feel like I should try writing a story with a happy ending where the girl and the boy fall in love and run away to California. Sometimes, I feel like I should stop writing dead bodies into everything. I should stop making up characters who are crazy. Maybe I should slip on a pair of high heels and get a nice handbag and write something that isn't so "interesting."


How about Iggy and The Stooges?

Not everybody got Iggy. Lots of people were a little scared of him. Lots of people were disgusted by him. Some people showed up at his shows just to throw beer bottles at him. Most people didn't care about what he was doing, they thought it was silly and weird and pointless.

But some people had thighs that caught on fire at the sight of him prancing around a stage in a pair of thigh high stockings. Some people pictured him while making love to their boyfriends. Some people bit the inside of their painted pink lips when he sang, I am your crazy driver, honey I'm sure to steer you wrong. Some people were David Bowie and they wanted to be him. Some people understood that Ziggy Stardust wouldn't have existed without Iggy Pop. Lots of people knew that Iggy was the Jean Genie. Some people were Ian Curtis and they hung themselves to death while playing The Idiot on repeat on a record player.

Iggy wasn't really a through and through success, though. He was enough to make a few people fan themselves with their hands, to cause them to feel strange feelings, way down deep inside. He was enough to change the world. He was enough to make a tattered little group of misfits pronounce Raw Power as their favorite album of all time, ever.



Some people took one look at him and understood that nothing would be the same, not after seeing this thing of total, rock and roll sex god, beauty.


So, he was a little bit dirty, a little bit crazy, a little bit wild, a little bit embarrassing, a little bit scary. He was a scrappy little god of our idolatry.

But not everybody cared. In fact, most people didn't care.

He wanted to be a big star, and it was, unfortunately, the 1980's. He didn't want to get hit in the face with bottles, anymore. He wanted to fly first class. He wanted to get his dinner for free. He wanted to laugh all the way home from the bank. I wanted to be big and famous like the Twilight lady. Oh wait, we're not talking about me.

So, he started making music for the market. He wasn't stupid. He knew what would sell. He put all the elements of popular music together and came up with this:



Right? That's the kind of thing people loved. Men in tight pants and puffy shirts crying for love while they executed ballet spins in a junk yard.

Except, when he did everything right, when he figured out what people wanted, suddenly NOBODY cared. Not even those girls who used to blush and get uncomfortable in their seats. Not even those girls who used to gasp and cover their mouths when his pants fell down around his ankles. Once he made music that everybody wanted, that would sell, everybody hated him for being a big, ridiculous faker.

And he was, too.

So, if you're a scrappy little sexy writer who scares people and who isn't marketable. If you write with your pants down, if you make people blush and read through their splayed fingers. If you're getting pelted in the head with rejection after rejection, make sure you look people in the eye. Make sure you notice it when somebody says, "You are something marvelous." Make sure you notice it when somebody gets you, because some people DO GET YOU. Maybe not everybody. Maybe not even most people. But everybody can't love you. That will never happen, not to anybody. Not even to Oprah's book club selections.

You don't want to be the Twilight lady. You don't actually aspire to be one of Oprah's Book Club selections. You don't want to Cry For Love.

Keep being you. There are lots of somebody's out there for you. Be brave like a 1970's Iggy with a bashed out front tooth and a strap-on horse tail who makes just a few girls feel faint with hysteria. You know what you are and you're beautiful. You shake a few people up. You make a few people feel a little bit inspired. In the grand scheme of things, you might just be a blip on the face of existence, but we're all that way. Keep your head up. Be a person. Do something important. Be you in a world where you doesn't sell anything. Don't sell anything. Be you. Keep writing what comes up from your guts.

I'm listening at least.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cursed Coin - Indie Ink Writing Challenge Piece

Our neighbor, Mrs. Wheeler, died. She was a gypsy. She lived in the other half our our duplex. The funeral was in her very own living room. So many people showed up, they were crowded off of her porch and onto ours. Nobody was even crying.

"Come on," mom said. "Get your boots tied."

I didn't see why we had to pay our respects. Billy and I didn't respect her. She stared at us with her weird eye; the one that didn't look off into space.

"Up!" mom said. "Get up and out of that door before I get out the licking stick!"

I wasn't afraid of being spanked anymore. It was scary when daddy used to do it, but he doesn't wake up every day, now. He likes to stay out at night. Sometimes when he comes home, I'm sleeping and mom starts yelling. Billy and I have to jump out of bed and put on our slippers to drag him in out of the rain.

She swatted at me with her free hand as I dragged my feet to the screen door. "Move, boys," she said. "I have a hot casserole, here."

The night before, she'd fretted over what to cook for a gypsy funeral. "Do they even eat tuna?" Billy asked over his shoulder while we watched Knight Rider and she made too much noise in the kitchen.

"Of course they eat tuna," mom said. "They eat everything. Who wouldn't eat tuna?"

"She probably eats eyeball soup and frog's breath or something," Billy said.

"Well, she's dead," mom snapped. "People eat tuna casseroles when somebody is dead."

I wondered if we would eating it tonight. She didn't seem to be making anything separate for our dinner. Maybe dad would turn up dead.


I wasn't watching where I was walking and when I pushed on the screen door, it smacked somebody in the back. "Watch yourself, boy," a man said. "You'll knock somebody down into the mud."

Our yard was pretty muddy. Still, these people were on our porch. I never had to be careful on my own porch before. "Sorry," I mumbled and turned sideways to squeeze myself through the half opened door.

"Come here for a minute," the man said.

I didn't have much coming to do, seeing that I was standing only a few inches away from him. "Excuse me," mom said, her teeth clenching the pinched butt of a cigarette. "Excuse me. Casserole coming through." She pushed her way through the crowd and stepped over the divider between our porch and the dead gypsy's.

"Come here," he said, again.

I sort of nudged my toes forward a few inches, trying to accommodate him. He leaned in close and said in a low voice, "Nadya was my sister."

I had no idea who Nadya was.

"She talked about you and your brother," he said. "She said you were good boys but that you got into mischief."

I didn't know what he was talking about. "Did you steal grapes from her vine, out back?" he asked.

"Grapes?" I said.

"When you were a boy, did you steal them?" he said.

"Mrs. Wheeler's grapes?" I asked. "She told my mom we could have them."

My dad whacked down those grape vines two or three summers ago. He said they looked too messy and that grapes brought in the crows. Why was this man bringing them up now?

"Are you afraid of me, boy?" the man said.

"I guess so," I told him. "Those grapes were a long time ago."

He laughed so loud that the people crowded in next to him startled. Then they all started laughing and patting each other on the back and spilling some of their drinks.

"I haven't spoken to my sister in at least five years," he laughed, and clapped me on the back. I was glad I didn't have a drink. I would have spilled it.

"I don't know your sister," I said and started trying to shove past him. He roared with such convincing laughter that I felt the corners of my mouth creep up into a smile. "I don't," I said. "I think you might be a little crazy."

I wasn't supposed to say things like that. Mom explained to me that you only tell the truth when it's something you wouldn't want to take back. "You can't take back the real truths," she said. "You can try to brush them behind you and excuse them away, but if you're telling the truth about somebody's ugly side, they'll never forget what you said."

I didn't care whether I might hurt the man's feelings. I'd held my own against my dad when he was less drunk than this man. All this guy did was laugh, anyway.

"Here," he said, holding out a large golden coin.

I didn't want to take it. His fingers were short and thick and unusually hairy. "Here, take it," he said. "It's good luck to carry a coin like this when you're headed to a funeral. He pressed it into my palm and patted me on the shoulder. His eyes were blue and they sparkled in the watery sunlight.

"Thank you," I said, finally making my way around him and through the crowd of drunk, laughing mourners.


"What did he want?" my brother whispered as I made it inside.

Mrs. Wheeler's house was the same as ours, only reversed and full of dusty, toppling furniture that was all missing legs and sagging in the seats.

"He gave me a coin," I said.

"Give it to me," Billy said.

"No," I said. "Get off of me."

Mom shot us a look. She placed her casserole on a rickety little table in the kitchen. A woman was at the stove cooking cabbage. Everything smelled like old people and food. I punched Billy in the arm as he reached across me for the coin.

"Let me see it," he said.

I held it up. It was heavy and golden. There was a carving of the sun on one side and on the other, it said, "Cogito ergo sum."

"What does it mean?" I asked.

"Who knows?" Billy said. "He probably stole it from somebody who speaks Spanish."

"I don't think it's Spanish," I said.

Mom came up behind us and started shoving us slowly toward the open coffin in the living room. Mrs. Wheeler was wearing the same crappy purple dress she wore every day. I wondered if she hadn't just finished breakfast, gone to the toilet and then plopped down here to die. I thought people were supposed to dress up for their funeral.

I'd never seen a dead person before. It was strangely underwhelming. It felt the same as when I'd seen her sitting in her rocking chair in the yard, never moving or smiling. She just looked like a stupid dead old lady. The only weird thing about her was that there was a coin sticking out from between her lips.

"Look," my brother whispered. "It's another one of those coins."

"Mine is different," I said. "That one is silver."

"I bet you it is stolen, too," Billy said. "I bet you gypsies are always buried with something they stole."

I rolled my eyes. The only reason Billy even knew these people were gypsies is because daddy was a manager at the grocery store. The boss before him told him to watch out for Mrs. Wheeler and her family. "They'll come in here in a big pack and start trying to confuse your senses," he said. "They'll give you a five dollar bill instead of a ten and drop a bunch of quarters. When you bend down to pick them up, they'll steal the hair right off your head." I always found that part to be interesting. How would they get the hair off?

"I'm going to get it," Billy said.

"What?" I asked.

"Make sure mom isn't looking," he instructed. "Go ask her for some casserole."

"No way," I said. "I'm not eating that casserole again." She made a double batch and we did indeed have it for last night's dinner.

"Just do it, idiot," Billy said. "Tell her you're hungry and get her into the kitchen."

"Are you going to take the coin out of her mouth?" I whispered.

"Yeah," he said, flexing his fingers.

"You can't do that," I hissed. "It's in her mouth."

"So?" he asked.

"So, there's dead people spit in there and germs," I said. "Did you ever picture Mrs. Wheeler as being a particularly thorough brusher?"

"Shut up," Billy said. "We can just wash it."

I glanced around behind us. Nobody seemed to be paying attention. Mom was already back in the kitchen talking to the cabbage lady.

"Nobody's looking," I said.

"Are you sure," he whispered.

I looked again and nodded. I wasn't sure, but I didn't think he would actually do it, either. In a swift motion like a pelican diving for a fish, he swooped in with his fingers and tried to snatch it out of her mouth. It didn't come away very easily, though, so he started grasping at it and pulling. I saw that her teeth were about to give way and pop right out of her skull.

"Shit," Billy whispered, tugging and tugging on the coin. Finally, her mouth sort of popped open like it was fixed with a spring. I gasped and Billy pulled his hand away like he'd been burned by fire.

"Look at her," I hissed. "She looks different. She looks crazy."

"She looks fine," he said.

"Her mouth is hanging open," I panicked. "You can see that dangling thing in her throat."

"It's fine," he said, "She's fine." He took a few measured steps backward. "We'd better go."

"Go where?" I asked. We lived only a few feet from here and that man already knew that we used to steal Mrs. Wheeler's grapes.

A heavy hand landed suddenly on my shoulder and before I could think about what I was doing, I screamed like a girl and started shoving my way to the door. People were murmuring and leaning over the casket, peering into Mrs. Wheeler's open mouth. Somebody shouted, "Hey!"

Billy screamed, "Run!" and catapulted himself off of the porch into the mud. We took off, slipping and sliding and running down the alley. I could barely breathe. The weight of the coin in my hand was enormous. There was a little pinging sound and the one Billy stole from her mouth bounced once off of the pavement and landed with a soft thud in the grass.

"What if it's cursed?" I yelled.

A great and enthusiastic laughter erupted from behind us. I turned to see Mrs. Wheeler's relatives falling all over themselves on the porch with merriment. A woman threw a dish towel in a man's face and said, "Oh, stop it," as he pointed at us and laughed.

"Faster!" the man called out. "Put your head down and run as fast as you can! We'll find you, boys! We know where you live!"


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For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Head Ant challenged me with "Cogito ergo sum," and I challenged Kelly Garriott Waite with "Don't ever go that way".

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

He was blue - Writing challenge piece

He didn't have many things. The little rocking chair from his parents was knocked over in the corner. The garbage can was upended, its contents scattered around the kitchen. This violent disarray in a space so lightly lived upon was a cutting commentary on how shitty things were.

These bags were killing people all over town. We searched for them specifically.

He was opened up to me and I was a razor. This is why his things were lying around, why the blinds were crooked on the window.

I unclenched my teeth and released the end of his belt. "Armie up," I said, telling him to apply pressure. It was a joke. I pretended to be a nurse and that he was a little boy. We loved each other. We loved each other so that he raced home on his lunch break to slide into bed next to me. We loved each other so that I cried when he went away.

The rug was bunched up in front of the door. We dragged him into the hallway by his arms. He was blue. His lips were cracking at the corners. His eyes were unfocused. One of them crept sideways as he disappeared. He curled up like a baby and tipped sideways in his chair. He wasn't wearing a shirt or any shoes. I loved him.

The neighbors across the hall both worked in the same office; a man and a woman with matching khaki pants, pressed sensibly around the hems. They came up the stairs and had to step over his body carrying baskets of whites. They grimaced at the sight of me and shoved each other, hurrying to get inside.

I called an ambulance and the police showed up first. They flipped over the couch and went through the garbage. Someone held open the door so that little heads with clear eyes could peek in and whisper.

A paramedic announced, "Stand back, everybody, Lazarus is about to raise from the dead."




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This post is an entry at Trifecta Writing Challenge. The deal is that you have to write a piece using the third definition of a given word in 33 -333 words. It's fun. You should give it a try, too and link up here. This week's word was cutting.

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I also linked this post up at Story Dam where the prompt this week was, Write a piece, non-fiction or fiction, in which your character is figuring out what to do with their “leftovers”.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Robots punching each other...

Do you know how often Kurt and I get to go out together, with no babies? It barely ever happens. We went out yesterday for my birthday. It was snowing and we drove around like we were kids. Except, there were two empty car seats in the back and we were both wearing expensive velveteen jackets. The tea I had before we left was giving me heart palpitations.


I had my camera. Kurt looked handsome. He was wearing a tie to the dollar theater. Earlier, we went to a trendy pan-asian restaurant and I had the best green curry of my life.

I took this weird picture of Kurt looking like he had fallen under the spell of an alien tentacle.


He got uncomfortable with how much I was laughing about it, so there were no more pictures of him. Just me.

A 33 year old me. I'm not sure what sort of person this Me, is. Isn't it strange to think that, if we haven't figured it out by now, we'll probably never feel like we have a handle on it? Maybe we'll grow to be one hundred years old, and we still won't know what we are.




I was forcing out into a snowstorm to watch Real Steel. There was nothing playing at any of the theaters in town, but I was determined to see a movie. Kurt didn't understand why I picked this one. I told him that they were all crap and while we were putting crap into our minds, it might as well involve robots punching each other. Really, I just thought it was funny to be able to say that I saw Real Steel on my 33rd birthday.


Things got worse overnight. There isn't any school today. I'm thinking about hunkering down and calling it a snow day. On days when I don't leave the house I go a little bit crazy. I'll be dressed with my boots tied up tight when Kurt gets home from work. I'm going to the hardware store to look for things to build. I'm going to the front seat of the car in the dark with the music down low. I'm going to drive around like I'm a kid.

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Today's post is a link up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary's Just Write. If you want to join in, write something about the details of your day and link up! Be sure to read a few other pieces and get to know some great new writers in the process.



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