Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wretched - Writing Challenge Piece

I climbed out of my window before dawn. My mom was drunk, dressed in a flowing white nightdress that spilled around her on the floor like foam in a stormy sea. She rustled as I stepped over her body and laughed. It was a little, tittering sound that came from the land of her dreams. She was always dreaming.

My father had money and a family who lived near the lake, on the sound.  I spent my summers there, as a kid. My mother used to lay on a blanket while I waded in the shallows, searching for bullfrogs. She wore round sunglasses that covered most of her face. She painted her lips red and tied a scarf in her hair.

She was married once before, in New York City.  She kept a box full of his pictures on the top shelf of her closet. Sometimes I woke up at night and found her crouched under the bare bulb, sorting through them, clutching them to her breast. There was a picture of her in a white dress that barely reached halfway down her thighs. She was smiling and the wind was blowing her veil.

I always left early for school. I couldn't stand the sight of her in the morning sunlight. I wanted orange juice and nagging. I wanted her to stand at the sink, smoking a cigarette and asking if I had my homework. She used to do those things. She used to flick on the light in my bedroom and say, "I'm not going to tell you again!"

I walked in the gutter. It would rain later in the day. The air was heavy and soft against the skin of my arms. I found a rabbit with white fur crumpled against the curb. The wretched thing was missing a leg. I turned it over with the tip of a stick. Its mouth was frozen in a tiny smile. Its teeth protruded over a mangled little lip.


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 wretched.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Springtime Bullying

It has dawned on me that things aren't going to get really bad, this year.

I woke up this morning with the sun shining in my eyes.  A big, golden, unapologetic sun.

My girl was standing next to the bed, peering at my face.  "Wake up!" she said.  "I wrote a secret note for you and hid it somewhere in the house!"

It was too early for this, but there's an early spring.  It wasn't too early.


We fed ducks, yesterday and saw a herd of buffalo on the hillside.  We opened the sunroof and put our hands out, into the wind.  We ate spoonfuls of raw honey and cinnamon and wished away the last baby cold of the year.  It has to be the last sickness, the flowers are poking their way through the mud.  I'm sewing my seeds early.


I'm thinking of New York City, the zoo and Coney Island, all of our old friends who live at the bar.  I'm thinking of riding bikes on the waterfront, of sharing peanut butter sandwiches beside the water stairs.  I'm dreaming of falling cherry blossoms on the pavement, of the art museum and the carousel in the park.

I plan adventures that make my husband nervous.  He rolls his eyes and shifts uncomfortably in his seat.  He jumps at the sound of a fork being dropped on a plate. 

"But, WHY?" I beg him.  "Why doesn't that sound fun to you?"

"It sounds like a hassle," he says.

I want to cry.  I want to throw a brick through the front window.  I want to not make him uncomfortable with my desire to get out of here.

"We could stay at my aunt's house in New Jersey," I tell him.  "They have plenty of room and Liz has a membership at the Central Park Zoo.  She has a friend who works at the freak show on Coney Island.  I'll take care of everything."

He acquiesces.  He always does.  He'd rather die than pack up the children and go on a 5 hour car ride and sleep in an unfamiliar place.  He's thinking of how Louise will cry at bedtime and how I'll start yelling at the traffic, how we'll have to spend money on gas and food, and the thing is... he's right.

But, he suddenly changes his tune and says, "Okay, honey.  Sure, honey.  That sounds fun."

I feel like such a bully.

It's just that... maybe I am a bully.  Maybe sometimes I just want to punch a big hole right into the sky and scramble up a tree, knocking branches down as I climb, pelting walkers-by with falling nests and chestnuts.  I want to claw my way out of this still and grey winter.

Spring Blossoms Outside My Door
photo by josiah mackenzie


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.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Things I Like About Me

I'm joining in with Things I Like About Me at Just Be Enough.

Here's my list of things I love about myself, no qualifying, no backhanded insults, no run around.

1. I'm smart.

2. I'm funny.

3. I'm a convincing member of an argument.

4. I'm observant and good at reading people and figuring out their motivations.

5. I'm good with kids.

6. I'm good with meeting new people.

7. I have a pretty voice.

8. I'm cool, as in, not nerdy or lame.

9.  I'm tough and can change a tire.

10. I'm adventurous.

11. I'm a good writer.

12. I'm informed about a lot of things.

13. I'm a good cook.

14. I'm handy.

15. I'm creative.

16. I'm a good swimmer.

17. I very much endeavor to understand things, and my place in things.

18. I think about things on a deep level.

19. I can bake a beautiful loaf of bread.

20. I'm fair.

21. I'm communicative.

22. I'm a good lay.

23. I'm a really awesome mom.

24. I have great tastes in things - music, literature, style

25. I'm not afraid to stand out or stand up for what I think is right.

26. I'm good at thinking of things to do and places to go.

27. I'm intense.

28. I'm brave - I'm afraid of everything, but I do it anyway.

29. I'm a good city driver.

30. I'm delightfully inappropriate.

31. I get a sweet tan in the summer

32. I'm bright and lively.

33. I make funny observations.

34. I'm good at disciplining and setting boundaries in a way that makes my kids feel loved and secure.

35. I have a lot of interests and things I want to do and be.

36. I believe that change is possible.

I tried really hard to be honest while writing this list.  I have totally noticed that I haven't mentioned anything about my physical self.  A few times, I started to write, "I have pretty eyes," but then I felt like... "Do I really?  I don't actually care about my eyes.  They're fine, but I wouldn't say I LOVE them."

I felt the same way about the rest of my body.  There wasn't a single thing that I could honestly put on a list of things I LOVE about myself.

There are things I love about my body, like how it was a safe, warm place for my daughters while they sleeping and stretching and kicking and coming alive.  I love that my legs let me walk for hours on days when I'm left alone.  I love that it fits neatly with that of my husband, that it feels real and purposeful and perfect when he's against me.  I love that I have arms to hold my girls.  I love that my body can warm up my baby after her bath, when she's soaking and blue lipped and shivering.  I love all of those things. 

Are those things I love about myself, though?  They're not really things I feel like I need to come to terms with.  They are simply things I am, that I am grateful to be.  I don't have to think them up, they're the same as breathing.  I love that I have lungs to breathe.

I'm not sure if I've neglected to mention my body and its parts because I don't love them, or because I feel like saying something like, "I have pretty eyes," is a shallow thing to say.

What about you?  What do you love about yourself?  Is it hard to come up with a list?  Do you have trouble mentioning your beauty and your body and the way you look?

Oddities - Writing Challenge Piece

Visiting my mother's home was a deal breaker.  It was her collection of oddities.  Bones, taxidermy, animals floating in jars.  Some girls were scared. Some were drawn to the insanity in my bloodline.

photo by meghan mccabe


The Trifecta Writing Challenge for this weekend was to write a 33-word response to this picture.  Want to give it a try?  Link up here by the end of the day Sunday.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

I remember The March for Life

I barely ever log on to Facebook.  The last time I did, a saw that someone had written a post claiming that Planned Parenthood is fighting for the right to execute late term abortions.  She was a woman from my church, from when I was little.  She put up a picture of a baby's face from a 3D Ultrasound, a sweet, chubby, fully developed little baby face.  She wrote under this picture, "Planned Parenthood is pushing for the right to kill this baby."

I asked her where she was getting her information.  She didn't have an answer.  I provided her with facts about what Planned Parenthood actually does, and she accused me of spouting liberal propaganda.  (I may or may not have called her a Right Wing Nut.)  At the end of our exchange, she pulled out a big gun.

She said, "Amanda, what has happened to you?  You were at the March for Life with me, don't you remember?"


I remember.

I rode on a bus to Washington DC with people from our church.  I was probably about twelve years old.  There was a whole group of kids.  We were there because abortion was murder.

I believed abortion was wrong, because I had been taught that abortion was killing a baby.  That there was video taken of a crying baby's face as an abortion doctor blended him up.  I was told that women who have abortions are haunted by the decision for the rest of their lives, that they sink into a deep depression and never recover. That their depression leads them into lives of godlessness and promiscuity.

I was taught that abortion advocates didn't respect life.  They didn't value children.  They didn't understand the life of a baby to be a precious thing.  They were unmarried, promiscuous, godless people who didn't want kids, didn't love kids and weren't capable of loving them.  Abortion doctors believed in killing babies at all stages of pregnancy.  They didn't differentiate between an abortion done at 5 weeks and one completed at 37 weeks, because there wasn't a difference.

Abortion was murder, whether it happened before the fertilized egg attached itself to the uterine lining or not.  Getting an abortion at 6 weeks was the same thing as having one at 37 weeks.  It was bloody, foul and evil.

There were absolutely NO circumstances under which terminating a pregnancy was permissible.  Women who had abortions were selfish.  They wanted to have sex without meaning or consequences.  They loved their freedom and their bodies more than they valued the life of a child.  They were willing to kill somebody so that they didn't have to go through the trouble of being pregnant and ruining their bodies.  They wanted to have free bodies and free sex and they didn't care who had to DIE so they could get it.

I was twelve years old when I went to the March For Life.

I went because I was a sweet, kind-hearted child.  I was an innocent child who believed the adults in my life.  I believed them when they talked about murder and contempt for the life of babies. I loved babies.  I respected life.  I didn't dream that people I looked up to would make things up, fudge facts and put their personal agendas ahead of what was right and true.  I believed that people who loved God were good.  How could I have been a good person if I chose NOT to take a stand against something so disgusting?  How could I have lived with myself if I didn't stand up and say NO to these hedonistic, self-involved, uncaring, promiscuous, dangerous murderers who would probably kill ME if I tried to get between them and their personal freedom to act however they pleased?


When we got to the March for Life, there were people lining the streets to PROTEST US.  I was shocked.  I couldn't understand how anybody could oppose the things I was there to fight for.  These people were there to say that they didn't believe that killing babies was wrong.  They didn't believe that children deserved to live.

Only, when I looked at them, they looked... sort of normal.  They looked like regular people.  I didn't see any evidence of evil or demon possession in them.  They didn't look like prostitutes and murderers.  Some of them were yelling at us.  Some of them were crying.  I have an image in my mind of two young, well dressed, attractive men, standing together on the sidelines, just staring at us like we were monsters.

I didn't understand anything when I was twelve.

As a matter of fact, it was inappropriate to believe that I might understand something about the topic of reproductive rights, about a topic as faceted and involved and emotionally charged as reproductive rights when I was twelve.  It was careless of the adults in my life to put me in the middle of this battle, when I wasn't even at an age where I understood reproduction, let alone the place it plays in our flawed and oppressive societal construct.  It was irresponsible of them to place a group of children into the middle of a volatile and passionate argument surrounding something that we weren't capable of comprehending or understanding.  Those adults were simply using us to back up their personal agenda.  They weren't interested in our opinions or level of understanding.  Nobody was.  We didn't understand anything.  We were just little puppets.

As an adult, I've informed myself.  I've developed beliefs based on what is actually happening in the world and how I relate to what is happening.  So, okay.  Yes.  I was at the March for Life and I remember everything.

March for Life 2011
photo by tfp student action


Friday, February 24, 2012

I'm twenty-nine, I swear.

My mom's birthday is coming up and I'm sure she's not happy about it.

I've been thinking about getting older and how, as women, we're supposed to be embarrassed about our age.  We're supposed to want to stop aging at twenty-nine.  We're supposed to refuse to tell our age, if we're a lady.  Being called young is supposed to be a compliment.

Why, though?

We all know that younger women are smaller and firmer and that they have fewer wrinkles.  They don't have gray hair and their boobs are holding fast to their original placement... but really?  That matters to us?

The other day, someone asked me how old I was, and when I told them, they said, "You look so much younger than that!"  And I blushed and said, "OH YOU!" and felt really good.  But, if I really think about why I felt complimented that somebody thought I looked younger than I was, I have no idea why.

There's a window, too.  No adult woman wants to be told she looks like she's twelve years old.  That would be too young.  The youth that we're envying seems to exist between the ages of say... eighteen and twenty-nine.  That's the good breedin' time.  That's the time where our bodies are biologically set up to attract a mate and grow a bunch of babies. 

The most attractive physical feature is hip to waist ratio.  All those women in magazines who are lusted after, polished up and laid out like a buffet... they all exhibit good breeding characteristics.  That's why men want them.

And women beat themselves up, trying to appear as though we're still existing in that eighteen to twenty-nine window of desirability.  Men don't freak out about getting older, because older men can still biologically make babies.  We don't judge them by the same ratios, because our species will survive, even if men have wrinkles around their eyes and gray hair.

As I've gotten older, I've gotten a fuck of a lot smarter.  I've gotten better at being a person.  I've grown more patient and thoughtful and selfless.  I've learned about looking outside of myself, about appreciating people in a multitude of glorious ways, about valuing somebody because of who they are, not because of who they are TO ME.  I've become an artist, when before, I was only trying.  I've learned how to create and to be responsible.  I've learned not to take kindness for granted, to slow down my anger response, to see people as I want them to see me.  I've learned that it doesn't matter what a woman looks like or how old she is.

The women in my life have only gotten more beautiful as we've reached our thirties and forties and beyond.  I have never once looked at a woman I love and thought, "You're so much less attractive now that you're older."

I've made babies.  I've grown them, with my old, sagging, fat unappealing body.  Every single day, I help two little people to grow, to learn how to speak and live and take care of themselves.  I did that, starting at age twenty-eight.

Do you want to know what I did before?
I fucked around being depressed and irresponsible, killing myself slowly and not caring.
I had really smooth skin and long, auburn hair.  I had a small waist and a much smaller butt.  I had flawless skin and painted eyes and boobs like nobody's business with little pink, perfect, pre-pregnancy nipples.

Now, everything is all out of place.  I'm sagging and widening and things have changed color.  There might even be an occasional weird hair sprouting up in disturbing places.  The hair at my temples is silver.  And do you know how I spend my time?

I spent it in ways that are beautiful beyond measure.  I spend it being beautiful.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My plan to get uncomfortable

I posted the other day about how I've become very comfort seeking, this winter.  I've been keeping myself locked up and cozy in a pair of fleece pants.  I've been wearing socks with Crocs, (only inside the house, but still... )

I can only get so comfortable before I start to get complacent.  I get so comfortable that I kind of start to rot.

I need to let things be hard.  I need to make things hard, so that I don't just melt into the low light of my reading lamp.

The truth is, making myself comfortable is boring.  It's cushy and safe and slow-moving, and it's also killing me.

I have some ideas about how to get uncomfortable and get going.

What I'm doing:

High Intensity Intervals - Oh my god, I've been doing the same boring cardio for YEARS.  Doing the same boring thing has only gotten me so far.  It's also gotten me to a point where I'd rather puke than workout.

I've been getting very into the idea that we should do things that would have benefited our ancestors.  Things like eating actual food, growing actual food and exercising in ways that would have made sense when we were hunter/gatherers.

I've decided on long, moderate bouts of walking or biking alternating with sessions of Interval Training.  That way, I'll be able to hunt and forage for food, and if a predator attacks me, I can hurry up and scramble up the nearest tree.

Strength Training - I just feel like being able to do something tough, like deadlifting more than my body weight.  (I'm sorry Kurt.  This isn't the woman you married.)  I've started strength training every other day.

Get mad - I want to write with my guts.  I want to parent with my guts.  I'm tired of watching television and holding out for nap time.  I want to just explode all over the place.

Work hard for my food - If I'm going to eat crusty bread and cheese and desserts, I have to go through the pains of making them.  I've been feeling very much like a brainless consumer, lately and it's making me ill.

Go new places and meet new people - We've kind of gotten stuck in a library/school/same park every warm day loop.  The thought of going to that same park kind of makes me feel like I'm going to cry.  We need to go somewhere unusual, at least once a week, even if that unusual place involves packing snacks and making diapers and looking up directions and driving in traffic and expending energy once we get there.

There's my plan, so far. 

Do you have any tips for me, about how to get uncomfortable and get things done?  I'm not going to grow by sitting here in my maternity pants and sock-slippers.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Passenger

Both of my girls understood that Iggy is the King of Rock and Roll before age two.

One of our afternoon dance parties, singing along to The Passenger.


Time is really getting older.

I've been thinking about time passing. We frame time in hours and days and years to help us get a grasp on it.

Maybe that view is limiting.

Maybe instead there was the time I was young and hurting, and then the world was full of opportunity and I was youthful and dangerous. There was a time of sickness with a disease in my arm. There was a time of love and being slippery on the floor of the shower. There was a time of fear and newness, of becoming something bigger. There was a time where all the world disappeared and all I could see was a little baby face with the most promising brown eyes. There was the time I was writing a book, a time when I felt so empty, everything was gray.

Time is only getting older, and managing transitions.

Kurt was telling me how Neitzsche said something about war. War is a time of transition, and transitions always feel bad.

I've been thinking about being comfortable, how when it's winter and everything is dead, I fold inward and seek comfort. I say to myself, "This feels bad, and so I need to do things to please myself, like sleeping in late and taking a bath. Like baking bread and wearing my blue fuzzy bathrobe. Like closing down and burying my head under my wing. Elle at Mistakes and Milkshakes was talking about this the other day.

When I find myself seeking comfort and sinking lower into the feather down of my life, what I really need is to shake things up. I need to find ways to make myself decidedly UNcomfortable. I need to bear the cold. I need to move. I need to get mad. I have some ideas. I'll share them later.

Mostly, I need to let time do it's job. I need to not pad myself against transition. I need to welcome the ways I am changing, the ways my children are changing and the way our life together doesn't ever hold still. I need for time to mean that we're getting better, while we're getting older. I want to work WITH time, not to let it take advantage of me.

Letting time go by is so passive. It's so comfortable.

I want to be an active companion of time. I want to get better.

Kurt with Scouty at the zoo, 2008

Kurt with Louise at the zoo, 2012


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.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Animal, Vegetable, Mozzarella

Inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I decided to make my own mozzarella.

When I told Kurt he said, "Okay. Great. Why?" And then he made a joke about me getting further and further off of the grid.

It's true.

You have to understand, I used to be hip and dangerous.

I have become really interested in our relationship with food. I'm a novice gardener, but I've learned so much about being alive from growing my own vegetables. I've learned about feeding the soil, about tending to living things, coercing and befriending them, making them important.

Everybody knows that food doesn't just magically show up in the store, but somewhere deep down inside, that's the way we feel about it. I know that food needs to be grown and cultivated, but it's still weird when you're the one doing the cultivating and growing.

At first, I didn't trust myself. After picking some spinach from my first successful garden, I held it up to the light and looked at it. Something about it was making me feel nervous and mildly nauseated. It was nothing more than a leaf from a plant, and we're humans. We don't just go around picking leaves off of things and eating them. That's what animals do.

It was funny that growing my own greens was the most natural thing I'd ever done, but it felt decidedly unnatural to be preparing to eat something that I didn't buy in a plastic bag.

I got over that feeling, and now, during the spring, summer and fall, I try to grow and/or buy all of our produce from local farmers.

So, I read Barbara Kingsolver's book about how she and her family spent an entire year eating nothing but what they had grown or purchased locally. There are lots of reasons for eating local food. Local, family owned farms are concerned about their land and practice organic farming methods, even when they haven't shelled out the big bucks to be labeled USDA organic. When you buy something local, it is fresh and full of nutrients. Locally grown produce contains more anti-oxidants, since farmers grow naturally disease resistant strains of vegetables, instead of genetically modifying them to be big producers. Buying local also means that you're not turning gallons of gasoline into pollution by asking that your lettuce travel from California and your tomatoes come the whole way from Mexico. Also, I mean... we all know it's better to give our money to families who live in our communities, than to give it to a shitty, dishonest corporation.

Anyway, you didn't ask for a lecture about buying local. I'm just saying. There are a lot of good reasons.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a little precious for me, to tell you the truth. Barbara and her family are absolute sweethearts. There were many moments in their "year of food life" that made me roll my eyes. For example, Kingsolver's teenaged daughter was craving something sugary, but it was the middle of winter in Virginia. They happened upon some rhubarb at a farmer's market and, whew, the sugar crisis was averted.

While my family would never be able to make it through a whole year of local food life because we're too grumpy and like actual sugar too much... I felt very inspired by the book.


It's weird to think about making your own cheese, isn't it?

It's not weird when people grow food and make jam and bake bread, but for some reason, cheese making seems a little wacky. Like only one of those loose cannon women in a knit cap and a sweatshirt with a wolf on it would want to make cheese.

I decided that's a silly way to think and endeavored to make my own mozzarella.

Everything worked out perfectly.

But, there was something weird for me about the process.

While I long ago learned to stop thinking of produce and grains as magical foods that just showed up in the supermarket, I don't think I'd really gotten it about cheese.

Watching the milk curdle, smelling the sourness of it and then reaching my fingers into the gelatinous lumps to squeeze out the greenish whey... it was all a little too close or real or something. It made me understand cheese as milk in its solid form. All it is, really, is curdled milk that's been heated and kneaded and salted. It's not a fun snack in a little wrapper to grab when Louise complains she's hungry. It's curdled milk that's been squeezed and stretched. It came from somewhere and not all parts of its process were appetizing. Not all parts of its process were even SORT OF appetizing.

It turned out beautifully and it tastes amazing, but I think I'll think about cheese differently, now that I've been introduced to its coming about. Just like fresh, local vegetables became worth more when I learned to grow them... I'll think twice about what I'm really eating and feeding my family when I'm smothering a pizza in big handfuls of supermarket cheese. Maybe I won't even be able to do that, anymore.

It's funny that we spend so much of our time and energy with food, but it's not really considered a philosophical thing. It's not a thinking person's pursuit, it's just stuff we buy and heat up and eat. Or maybe it's more important than that.


Peter and Wendy - Writing Challenge Piece

I promised we would be young forever.

"I want to be a mother," Wendy said.

"You can love the lost boys."

"I love you, Peter," she said. "Grow old with me and die."

Peter Pan
photo by hannah jensen


This weekend's Trifecta Challenge was to stand on the shoulders of giants and rewrite a famous tale using exactly 33 words.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Clara At Night - Writing Challenge Piece

I pushed through the briars to the end of our yard and the field beyond.  Everything was silent.  I headed for the woods, where there were things that weren't afraid to make a sound in the night.  I wasn't one of them, but I needed them; their rustling and grunting in the leaves.  He came for me again, and I couldn't make a sound.

My best friend was asleep.  He lived next door and his parents didn't love him.  He loved me, though.  He loved me like the shine on a river rock.  In a world full of meanness and brambles that tore at my skin, he was my one safe thing.

I couldn't stand to wake him, on nights like this.  Most of the time, he was waiting.  Most nights, he beat me to the footpath that led away from lights that blinked and turned everything blue.  Some nights, he waited for me, standing in the moonlight, wringing the hem of his shirt.

Tonight was dark and quiet.  It was late and I let him sleep.

I threw myself on my face in the moss.  I peeled it away from the earth, rubbing its softness until it smeared and crumbled and my fingertips were sticky.  I put my thumb in my mouth, stained green and raw.  It tasted like dirt, like riverbed silt and coal run off.  It tasted like summer time and the way I crossed my legs against my yearning.  It tasted like the time I threw pebbles at his window until his face appeared, blinking and gorgeous.  There wasn't a time where he didn't worry for me.  The moss on my skin tasted like blood and moonlight.  I wanted to eat a clump of dirt.

I wanted to stop up my mouth.  I could smell my father all over the cotton of my night shirt.  I could smell the rough pink of his tongue, of the hot waves of breath that turned me invisible and made me burn.


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 safe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day

Don't ask about Valentine's Day.

Okay, do.

But I won't tell you that Kurt got sushi and made a fancy dessert with peppered strawberries and he rented the Twilight movie, which I couldn't even take because I mean, we all know what you're capable of, Edward.  We know you can't help but leave bruises. 

That's as close as we get to a good time.

I'm perfectly fine, now.

I planned the preschool valentine party.  There was a pinata.  I can get through the day, now.  I can look myself in the eye, in the mirror.

This is something the probably happens all the time, for me.  I get down so low that I'm breathing mud, and then one morning I'm not.  When I was in labor with Scouty, my mom took Kurt aside and told him that I get into dark moods.  I'm not sure if she meant to warn him, or to commiserate.  I think she probably wanted to tell him the truth, that I might not be okay for a while after this.  That I'm probably one of those moms who doesn't bounce back after delivery.

The thing that is frustrating for people is that there's nothing they can do about me.  Nothing can make me better.  Nothing can happen to change things.  It's a trick of the light or something.  It's a story on the news.  It's a grey day and a flood on the other side of the world.  It's that time we broke the ocean, and then stopped talking about it.  It's boredom and groceries and congealing pasta on the stove, again.  It's a night where I don't sleep that turns into something bleak and subtle.  It's the zing of a knife from the block.  It's that easy.  It's nothing and it's debilitating and there's nothing you can do but wait me out.

Because, one morning, it will be the sunlight through the blinds and a little hand on my arm while I'm sleeping.  It will be shortcake and ice cubes in mint tea.  It will be golden earrings and a new dress, the quilt from my teenage years with its stuffing coming out in clumps.  It will be a song and a lump in my throat.  It will be a walk to the end of the earth.  One morning, I will still be human and there will still be no point, but everything will be okay.

I think that's all my mom meant, when she took my husband, (then-boyfriend) aside.

Did you know that, on that same day, Kurt's mother also took my mom aside and told her, "Amanda is Kurt's soul mate."

I'm sure that I'm not exactly what anybody dreamed their son would bring home to dinner, but I was his soul mate.  That counts for a fuck of a lot when everybody is shaking their head and wringing their hands, and this baby came on the heels of an arrest and another stint in rehab.  It counts for a lot when you don't believe in these people, when they're your kids and you're scared of them, scared for them.  Love has to count for something.

And so now, we're signing that baby up for Kindergarten.  We've given her a sister and a home in the city.  She's happy and tall and kind.  I'm the homeroom mother for her preschool class and I stayed up late cutting out hearts from construction paper.

I'm not sure what my point is, except to say that all of these things matter for something, even if I'm not sure there's a reason for all of this.  My girl got a shoebox full of valentines, and I remember that.  I remember Valentine's Day when I was a kid.  I gave one of the BIG valentines to a boy I liked and my friend teased me.  His name was Peter.  I am 33 years old, and I remember all of that.  Maybe there isn't a point except that it feels okay to live this way and it didn't feel okay to live that other way.  It felt good a lot, but I knew it wasn't okay.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Only because I want Seeking Elevation to like me...

Lisa tagged me to do this.
I'll do anything she wants.
She's hot.

She asked eleven questions. I'll answer them and come up with eleven questions and tag some of you to do the same.

What's the last movie you saw that was worth recommending?

I'm not really a movie person. Kurt doesn't get this, since I am an art and entertainment person. I love tv, even. I can reccommend a tv show, if you want. Try Oddities on the science channel. Every once in a while, I'll fall in love with a show, watch all the episodes and then decide the show is stupid. Oddities on the Science Channel is my new favorite show that I'm sure I won't care about in a few days.

If you had to suddenly choose another spouse, and you had your pick of anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you pick?

So, I have imaginary relationships with Elliott Smith and Jenny Lewis and they're going great. I would marry them, if one of them wasn't dead and if they wanted to marry me.  

Boxers or briefs? Or commando?

I never used to wear underwear. For years, I didn't wear them. Now, I wear FULL COVERAGE mom undies that pull up to just under my belly button. They're warm and sort of calming or something. Like a security blanket that you wear wrapped around your huge mom butt.  

 Hand sanitizer: the gel that's going to save you from a flesh-eating virus or the menace that is creating flesh-eating viruses?

Although taking Zoloft has helped me to reduce my hand sanitizer habit to a more human level of consumption, I use it daily and I use it thoroughly.

If you got to pick one celebrity to be your mom, who would it be?

I don't really care about celebrities except for musicians, and I can't think of any musicians that might make a good mom for me. I'm really old and I'm unmanageable.

How come you don't want your mom to be your mom? Don't ask. Lights on or lights off?

I guess off so that I can go to sleep immediately. The light bothers me when I'm trying to sleep.

When I finally find the right dog to adopt, what should I name it?

Kurt and I were just talking about this last night. We decided that it was too annoying to try to name a dog, so we'd better never get one.  

Who would you rather have sex with: Richard Simmons or Nancy Grace? Yes, you have to choose, and no, suicide is not an acceptable answer.

Both at the same time.

Okay, give us your favorite rant. We'll listen to you.

I am not the sort of person who has a favorite rant. I am the sort of person who has a never ending rant running through my head at all times. That's why you're here, right?

How often do you eat food that you know is fucking terrible for you?

My idea of "fucking terrible" has changed a lot over the course of the past few years. I eat sugar a lot and I believe it's bad for me, or at least that it's unnecessary and has no place in a whole, healthy diet. How, I don't really believe that it's fucking terrible, because I don't eat high fructose corn syrup, like, ever. I also don't eat hydrogenated oils, ever. I don't eat meat or MSG or conventional eggs or enriched white flour. I don't eat conventional produce, for the most part. I don't eat things with a bunch of chemicals, like bread from the regular grocery store. So, all of that being said, I also have OCD about germs (see hand sanitizer question) and nutritional information. I am totally psycho about it. I admit that. I don't care what you eat. I don't judge you for eating Cheetos. I really don't. I guess my answer to that question is... sort of often?

 Here are my questions:

1. What went wrong in your last relationship that went wrong?
2. Do you keep a lot of secrets?
3. What makes you feel worried?
4. Do you honestly enjoy your sex life?
5. List some books I should totally read.
6. What do you do to be healthy?
7.  What are some things that you dream about over and over again when you're sleeping?
8. Who do you have a crush on?
9. Memory from high school. Go.
10. Do you believe in God?
11. Tell me about a really terrible kiss.

Okay, I tag... Sarah, Katery, Rain, Alison, Lance, and who else?  If you want to do it, too, please do!

Monday, February 13, 2012

I am feeling better. Hungry.

I am feeling better. I am feeling better!

Since getting sick, last week, I have been anemic and waning. I haven't had an appetite. I woke up this morning feeling , good, almost normal.

Can I talk about having an appetite? I like women with appetites. It might not have occurred to me until recently, but the best kinds of people have big appetites.

I'm not talking about food, although maybe I am, too.

I'm not scared of food. I'm not scared to like food, to admit that it's awesome, to experiment with it, to want to share it and use it to make myself as powerful and happy as I can be.

I don't admire the trait of picking at things, at denying oneself pleasure and fullness. I don't care for the idea that women shouldn't want and love things. That they should keep themselves, including their bodies, but mostly including their personages, as small and breakable and empty as possible. That we should endeavor to be the right size to be picked up and thrown. That everything animal and pleasurable in life should be abstained from. That's it's impolite, it's improper to to be insatiable.

I believe in girls with an appetite. I believe in girls who take a big bite.

I think that maybe getting sick this week was good for me. I needed to be shaken up and out of my recent routine. I needed something drastic to remind me that I'm hungry.

photos from two summers ago


Sunday, February 12, 2012

A love story at the end of time - Writing Challenge Piece

A mass of fluid and cells, a tide pool of vomit and the things that grow there; that is all there is to the world.

Two creatures, unformed but for their hands with tiny, needling claws, find one another at the dismal dawn of a new day. They pick at one another. The first pries open the eyelids of the other. "I want to be seen," a thought like a phosphorescent current through its amoeba-spine. "I want to be seen by you."

Eyes open, the second creature beholds the shape of the first: a writhing knot of sinew and vein, throbbing red and pale yellow and undulating. He beholds the dying purple sun, the vast landscape of ruin, how there is nothing left. He feels hopelessness like a film over everything.

A sudden pain reaches the matting of nerve cells under his skin. Sharp and unbearable, the pain is like ice where all that exists is warm.

The first creature reaches deep into the blue iris of the second with her pointed claw. Red and wet, his blood travels the length of her finger and pools in the bend of her appendage. She remembers the sensation from before she was born. She remembers something slippery and pink and close in the dark. "See me," she glows.

He moves for the first time, a full bodied squirm, instead of the minute tapping he's been absentmindedly sending into the void. From the moment of his origin, he's been clicking and tapping with his nails. Now he oozes and sputters and grasps at the other creature. She is tough in places, but mostly she is yielding. She is so yielding and pure, his remaining eye burns and he cries. He opens his mouth and fits pieces of her inside.


This week, Trifecta challenged us to write a love story in 33 - 333 words. The catch was that we weren't allowed to use any form of the following words:


PS. Don't forget to enter my giveaway from Mamalode.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

I am mommy. It kills me. I am love.

This is breaking my heart and there is no way I am capable of handling it.

Little summer dress with pink and red flowers that no longer fits my big girl.

And that tiny baby with the perfect, little round head, just like a peach, she knows her colors now, and can count to three.

It was summer, when Louise was born. The day we brought her home from the hospital, I limped up the walk, moving so slowly, so painstakingly. My mom and Scouty were waiting for us in the blinding golden sunlight. They blew up the baby pool and plopped it right in our tiny front yard, for all the world to drive by and see how much joy, so much joy, so much beauty, a little red headed girl so full of life and so wonderful and so loved, waiting for her new sister. A little unsure, a little tentative and so, so loved.

I didn't carry Louise. I couldn't lift her yet. There was so much sun. I was scared, and also, I was elated. I can look back, now and see that under all the pain and anxiety and fear, I was MOMMY. I was everything. I had TWO beautiful daughters. I had TWO of the thing that people dream all their lives about. I was beautiful, everything was beautiful.

I miss the baby on a blanket on the floor in a patch of sun. I miss July heat and the sprinkler in the grass. Daddy was there and he loved us so much. He loved me so hard that I fell apart. He loved me so slow and so hard that my wheels rattled right off. He let that happen, because he is Daddy and he can fix anything.

It was summer and I was in love.

They went to Grandma's house without me. I wanted that. I wanted a shower and a moment to heal. I wanted iced tea alone in the rocking chair on the porch. I wanted to wash my wound and close my eyes and listen to the bees and the traffic in the distance.

But the moment they pulled away, I curled into myself in the picture window and I sobbed. I loved my babies so terribly that I couldn't bear it, the lonely emptiness of not being pregnant, of being gutted. How cruel. I wanted to eat them up and keep them inside of my skin. I showered and gagged and cried, snot dripping from my face and circling the drain. I sat on the porch and put up my feet, my eyes were swollen behind my sunglasses. I wanted it. I wanted that moment. I loved them so. It killed me. It hurt me. It made me real. It made me holy. It made me.

Oh, how I love them. Do you see? There are a lot of things in this world, and I love them, only them, only them, only them, and because of them, I am allowed to love everything. I am allowed to have the sun on my face. Because of them, I don't hide anymore. I don't wonder anymore. I am MOMMY. I am love.

My heart.

It kills me.

I am love. -

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sickness and love...

Oh my.

I got so sick, this week. I was sick like a little kid, crying at night on the bathroom floor.

In reading Torch by Cheryl Strayed, a fictionalized account of the death of her mother, and hearing the sad news about the passing of Susan Neiber, I've been thinking a lot about sickness and what it would be like to understand that you were going to die.

It's inspiring, really, and it's hard. It's hard to know people and to love them. It's hard to be touched by beautiful people, because someday, somebody is going to leave before we're ready. Love is perilous, if it's true and honest. That kind of love is unending, even when our lives aren't.

I can't imagine how it would feel to die, not with how much I love my children and husband. Not with how many more things there will always be to see.

It makes me want to see it all, now. It makes me want to shake myself out of this funk.

I've been feeling like my life has been boxed up and marked with a sticker. I've been feeling like I'm missing the point, like this sort of existence is pointless. Like I want to spend all of my time growing things and making things and being with my loved ones.

There are a lot worse things we could be, though, than busy and in debt. There are a lot worse things I could be than missing somebodies who are still here with me. Maybe it will never feel good that we're crowded out of the life we dream of living, but maybe that doesn't matter so much as long as we love the parts that ARE like we dream.

On Monday, I was feeling blue. Kurt sent me an email that didn't say anything. It just contained these pictures.

I knew what he meant. I knew that he was saying that it's hard not to be able to be together, like we used to be. It's hard having things and caring for the girls and getting the car fixed and spending all of our money. But, somewhere deep inside of everything, at the very bottom, we're still two kids who love each other forever.

That same day, he sent me a text that said:

I don't know what this means, but I feel like crushing you. I feel physically tense and I wish that I could... press you. I feel like tugging on your hair and pressing your skin. I feel like gripping you and crushing my mouth against yours. I feel like pinning you beneath me and keeping you there, somewhere dark. You drive me fucking crazy, honey. You're a spitting electric wire and there's nothing I can do about you. I want to strap you to something stationary somewhere dark. I'll talk louder than you and lock the door. I'll push myself against you. I don't know what.

Nobody has ever known what to do for me and my bouts of sadness. I think that this is the nicest and most right thing anybody has ever said to me.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Do I just hold on tight?

The truth is, I feel like shit.

I get all mixed up and angry.

I feel like there must be somebody who knows something. I start thinking about death and dying people, how they're here but they're not here. I start thinking about giving birth to my daughters, and I hope they don't think about things too much as they grow. I hope they stay children forever, that they don't think about things like I do. That they're the type of girls who fall in love with a nice boy with glasses and they buy a little house with a sunny window.

It's not really about them, though. That is something. Everything, every thought I have is in some way about my children, but this isn't.

When I think too much about death and living, I start to feel angry about how I was born perfect and then everything around me fucked me up until I couldn't even recognize myself. I couldn't recognize the baby in those pictures.

I feel angry all the time. The things we worry about and want to be, they're not real. If you want to be a good mom and have a beautiful body and a clean house and a neat garden tucked into a piece of your own land. If you want to have a healthy heart and surround yourself with friends. If you want to be a good cook and a painter and cut back on your sugar and stop smoking. If you want to be happier than your parents were. If you want to travel and collect things. If you want to be unencumbered and free, you're impossible and everything you want isn't real.

I don't know what I mean.

I sometimes feel like Kurt should leave me and marry one of those girls next door with clean blonde hair who smile a lot. Somebody pretty and nice.

Sometimes I want to cover myself in mud. I want to gut myself with a knife and lay my organs out to glisten in the moonlight.

I've never been happy.

People are happy. I see them everywhere. They might not enjoy their jobs and they break up with their lovers and it's hard, but they're basically okay and happy as people. They don't have to work really hard to keep from crying when their babies go to bed at night. If you ask them about their lives, they say things like, "I don't know. It has mostly been good."

Sometimes, I think that if we didn't have kids, I would leave my husband and go far, far away where nobody knows me. I wouldn't talk to anyone or even look them in the eye. I would go somewhere dark and covered in pine trees. I would wander the forest at nightfall, collecting bits of bark and things that glitter pink and gold in the half-light of the sunset. I think that I wouldn't be able to bear loving him, because loving him means that I have to be whole. I have to keep it together and I can't keep it together. Only for the girls because they're perfect and holy and they're the only way I know how to matter. I keep it together because they deserve to be protected and revered. They deserve to be preserved, to be lain on a bed of feathers. They deserve to remember themselves when they're grown and looking at pictures.

It's not that I'm tired of mommy things, but I am. I am tired of the park after school and talking about babies and "Are you getting any sleep?" and apologizing for snapping about the house being dirty. I am tired of waking up and getting everybody dressed and feeding everybody and going to school and this goddamn day is the same as the day before it. I am tired of mommy things, but I am not tired of being a mommy.

At night, I wake up and I feel such a terrible longing for my babies that I pick Scouty up and carry her, half asleep and beautiful, into my bed. Louise would wake up and cry, but I'll go to her, someday. I can't sleep and it's 2 in the morning, listening to her slow, darling sleep breathing... it's the only thing I've ever loved. Knowing that she is happy and alive beside me is the only way I know how to be okay.

I am not okay in the other parts of me. The parts of me that aren't a mommy, I am not okay in those parts.

I would spend every moment of the rest of my life with them. They would be just as they are, now. Tiny and glowing and overflowing with laughter. Curious and wandering, picking up pine cones and calling them pineapples. It would be sunny always, and nothing else would exist.

But, they have to grow. I have to grow, but I don't know how, from here.

I'm miserable and bored and listless. I get preoccupied with how nothing matters except loving our babies. How beauty and art and love slip through life like rainwater on the face of a rock. How we think we know what we want, but then it isn't real. We want to run and write a book, but really, what we want is to matter and to have control. We want to not feel small. We want to feel like we're not insects, or that the flight of an insect might matter.

I want to feel like being alive means something. I don't want to buy things. I don't want to meet for lunch. I want to put my hand down my throat and pull out all of my piping. I want to rip the lining from my lungs and feed it to you. I want to be the electricity in the clouds. I want to know what living is to dying. I want there to have been a reason, when I'm all done.

I get worried there isn't a reason. I get worried that it doesn't matter how much time I waste, because it's all made up, anyway. How do you shake something like that? How do you buckle up your boots and strap on your suspenders and walk around in the world shaking hands and making jokes, when you're also a sea shell on the beach? When you're a worm, wriggling in a mass of worms? If nothing matters, how do you go on and why?

It makes me feel good when I make somebody smile, or when you write to me and tell me that you're lonely too. It makes me feel good when I win a prize or get a present. It makes me feel good when you want me, when you want to know me and like me. Is that what somebody does when they don't know what to do?

If holding your hand makes me feel better because your hand is warm, do I just hold on tight?


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.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Redding up...

My family comes from small places. I get my anxieties honestly.

My grandmother was one of eighteen children, none of them multiples. Her father was mean and he drank. She didn't talk about her childhood often, but there were whispers of a thread that followed her. She never admitted sexual abuse outright, but we knew it was there.

She and her sisters would run out of the house at night in their flannel night shirts to hide in the corn fields that surrounded them. Her mother didn't scream as much as she might, but they hid from the sound, praying he would finish with her and head up the stairs. They huddled under the rustling stalks, leaves that cut the palms of your hands and felt like sandpaper.

My grandmother was not a dramatic woman, but she came under the spell of anxieties, and in the end, those anxieties kept her company until her grave. She developed a brain tumor that made it so she couldn't sit still. She wandered her house all night. During the day, she fiddled with the blinds and changed the channel on the television so many times, there wasn't anybody who could stand to be near her. Her ankles were bruised and swollen. She might have died sooner, had her nerves, being pressed upon by the cancer, allowed her get to get a moment's rest.

Rest was something she needed, when it came time.

My mother speaks like my Grandmother. Throughout my childhood, she told us to "Red up your room," and that the washer needed fixed. We played in a crick behind our forth grade teacher's house.

My father hated everything. He felt like the world owed him something it didn't. He called my mother stupid, and so I put up barriers against her colloquialisms. I made my speech pure. I called a soda a soda.


I'm linking this post up with Write On Edge. This week's memoir prompt was to discuss colloquialisms.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

The existential terrors of existing...

I had a special day with Scouty today. We went bowling and then we had lunch and went to a movie at the dollar theater.

I have been sick all week. I've been exhausted and achy and longing for my bed. I've been no fun to be around.

I wrapped my scarf around my neck an extra time, put on a pair of extra-comfy maternity leggings that I have not managed to retire, even 18 months since the last time I was pregnant, and we headed out into the world to have fun.

It's winter, isn't it? There are so many things we need. Louisey has been throwing up and daddy had his heart broken by a literary review this morning and I haven't been able to breathe or move all week.

We were just two girls and we loved each other. It was Scouty's first time bowling. I have a weird idea that I'm a really good bowler. I like the aesthetic of a bowling alley. I like the carousels of swirly bowling balls. I like how there's a holy and unspoken rule that you NEVER step onto the lane. I even like the disgusting shoes. It all reminded me of being a kid. Bowling alleys were magic when I was a kid.

So, I feel like I'm a really cool, awesomely good bowler. I feel good stepping up for my turn and raising my ball in front of my face. I have good form. My Pap liked bowling and so do I. I bowled a 117 our first game and a 99 on the second. We were using those little kid bumpers. I don't know why I have such a bowling ego.

We brought a cinnamon roll to the movie theater in a brown paper bag. We watched Happy Feet 2. Have you seen these Happy Feet movies? I'm not sure if they're sort of terrifying and eclectic and make me uncomfortable like how I don't understand the appeal of hip hop music, or if they're epic and insightful and awesome.

Anyway, there was a little shrimp who learned to dance. Another shrimp asked him, "What are you doing?" and he said, "I don't know."

The other shrimp asked him, "Why are you doing it?"

He said, "Maybe it's a momentary release from the existential terror of existing."

And I thought, "YES."

That's it. That is why I do everything I do. All the times people have shaken their heads and shrugged their shoulders and said, "I'll never understand why that girl does what she does."

A momentary release from the existential terror of existence.

Thank you, little shrimp.

Thank you, Scouty B.

Thank you carousel of swirly bowling balls.

I'm kind of in love.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Three sentence murder.

Maggie came barreling through the screen door crying, "Oh god, she's back!"

I pulled aside the curtain and saw her body slumped on the porch. She wasn't back, exactly, just a slow bleeder.


Flower Lines
photo by casey muir taylor


Could you write a story in three sentences? Trifecta challenged us to do just that for this week's weekend challenge. Give it a try and link up HERE before Sunday.


Words mean everything.

Just THINK : ABOUT IT : Just write a title, YOUR thoughts....ENJOY! :)
photo by ugg boy and ugg girl

I remember when I was little, my mom used to clamp her hand over our mouths any time we asked a question involving death or hell. She always said, "Don't speak it into existence."

I hated when she would say it. Don't speak it into existence. I viewed it as a thinly veiled way of saying, "Demons are listening, and they'll try to kill you, if you say the word 'death'." I hated having to be scared of demons. I didn't want to think about them. I didn't want them to be crawling all over everything invisibly, sinking their teeth and claws into our shoulders. I didn't want to live in a world where demons were real, but I did.

I didn't have a choice. I was born into it.

I was born into sitting up at night, sure that a demon would try to crush me and steal my breath. I was born into closing my eyes on the stairs because a demon with a fox's tail chased me, there. I was born into exorcisms and possession. Mental illness wasn't a medical issue. Cancer wasn't a medical issue. Depression wasn't a medical issue. Miscarriage wasn't a medical issue. Everything is a part of The Spiritual War when you're born Evangelical.

Of course, I don't believe in demons, anymore.
I don't believe that I have to be afraid to speak something into existence.

Isn't it funny that we're still superstitious about the things we say? Maybe the devil isn't listening, but I still refuse to mention certain things. For example, I would never say the name of one of my children in a sentence with disease or injury. It's like I feel like the words might infect one another, that their meaning could bleed.

We sometimes act like words don't have power. They're just words. Some of us don't read at all. Some of us don't know what it's like to be under a spell. Some of us haven't stayed up late, lonely under a lamp, manically trying to rend a story from our guts. Some people don't have a relationship with words, yet there are things they would never say.

To embrace words, to love them and use them and let them use us... to have a relationship with words is to be human. To love writing and reading is to love breathing.

Words mean everything. Without them, we are only a mess of solitary perception, like scrawling on the walls of a jail cell. Without words, we are a universe contained within the shell of an egg. We are captors and captives. Without words, nothing exists.

I don't believe in speaking things into existence.

I do believe that by speaking, I am existing, though.

Do you have a relationship with words?


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Image - Writing Challenge Piece

“You were made in my image,” he whispered with his teeth against her ear. His hand pressed on the back of her neck. Her face was smashed into the pillow. She liked it. It was quiet in here. She listened to the feathers rustling against one another.

“Ask me,” he said into the dark, empty room. There weren’t any pictures on the walls. They hadn’t gotten as far as to decorate the bedroom. “Ask me.” A bead of perspiration fell from his forehead and landed between her shoulder blades.

“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” she said, but the pillow case was in her mouth.

He sighed dramatically. “You have to say it loud enough for me to hear or it won’t work,” he said.

“What won’t work?” she wondered.

She turned her head to the side and took a breath of cold air. Red numbers on the clock were glowing from the bedside table. It wasn’t quite midnight. There were people passing under their window. Someone laughed. The feathers whispered under her ear. “Forgive me, Father,” she shouted.

“Yeah, good,” he said. “Why?”

“I have sinned,” she said.

“Say it again,” he said. “Say it louder.”

She looked at the mirror sitting crooked on the dresser. Their shoes were lined up neatly against the wall. They had only just moved here, to try to start over. This time they would have a proper marriage. This time she wouldn’t talk to the boys down by the pier. She would be home when she said she would.

“I’ve sinned,” she said.


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 image.



Happiness commandments...

Inspired by Gretchen Rubin and her Happiness Project, I've come up with a list of my personal commandments. They are all things it would do me good to remember and think about on a daily basis.

1. Do it now. No procrastinating. (If I'm putting something off, it's only because I feel overwhelmed. Do you know what is less overwhelming? Getting stuff done.)

2. No yelling, ever. (Not even up the stairs to ask Kurt a question. It's just too annoying when my girls copy me.)

3. Taste everything. (Emphasis on TASTE rather than everything. What I mean is that I need to be present and experience the things I'm doing. I need to make sure that I'm aware of what I'm talking in, and not just blindly plowing through life letting things happen to me. Food included.)

4. You can be everything, just not at one time. (I can be an awesome mom and a writer and a cool date and a good fuck. I just can't be all of those things at once, and that's okay. I need to focus on being a mom, right now. My girls are small. There will be times in my life where I can dedicate some time and energy to being the best at something else. I need to stop feeling like, if I'm tied up with one thing right now that it means I can't be anything. I just need to wait for the right time.)

5. Get hungry. (I placate myself too much. I need to get really fiercely hungry for the things I want.)

6. Make new things happen. (Go to new places, try new things, think new thoughts.)

7. Make your babies happy first. (Enough said. If my girls aren't happy, nobody's happy.)

8. Keep moving. Literally. (I get paralyzed, lots of times. Not literally. I find that if I take long walks and stay on my feet, I can keep my thoughts moving, too.)

9. Be afraid. (Go ahead. I'll never stop having a fear response to new things. Don't fight it. Feel it, acknowledge it, and then do what you came to do.)

10. Throw things away constantly. (It feels good to let things go.)

11. Let criticism weigh the same as praise. (We're all guilty of wading through oceans of compliments to cling to something negative somebody said about us. Why do criticisms weigh so much more than compliments? From now on, criticisms can matter, but only as much as the thousands of compliments I get, too.)

12. There has never ever been a time where there wasn't enough money. (So, quit worrying about it.)

What are your happiness commandments?