Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fertility dreams.

I'm all pent up.

I wake up in the morning, and I'm all business.

I get things done.  I do.

I think maybe I need to be like those naked women in fields of wheat who talk about finding themselves and their beauty.  Who give themselves orgasms and own fertility goddess statues.  I think I need a huge dose of lazing about, of opening my thighs, of water and sun and not caring.  I need an ice cream cone and the sound of waves.

I'd like it very much to get lost in the woods, like I did when I was young.  There would be moss and I'd have dirt smudged on my cheek.  I didn't even own a phone.  I used to not show up for things.  I had a car that rattled and smoked and took me places.  I would spend the whole day getting dirty, using my muscles and pushing my way through the brush.

I'm watching a television show about snakes and it's making me tense. Everything makes me tense.  I'm cold, too.  I don't remember being a child.  I want there to be sand in my picnic.  I want to smile at somebody across a blanket with a hole.  We'd brush away a curious spider and slap at mosquitoes.

What if there was nothing that needed to be done?

I'd like to wake up in a nest on a cliff, feathers and snakeskin braided into my hair.  I'd like to be an animal.  There are snakes that can jump; they give me palpitations.  I don't want to wear shoes.  I don't want to fill out forms.  I don't want to worry about money.  I want to have a basket full of strawberries and small squares of cotton with scalloped edges. 

I have faraway memories of fishing on a farm; the smell of worms and pond skipper bugs leaving wrinkles in the surface of the water like rumpled sheets.  I have vague memories of waking up and walking into the fog with a stranger.  My parents were sleeping.  We went looking for a deer and everything was beautiful.

Nothing happened.  The fog disappeared.  There was a trailer full of hay and we were pulled by a tractor a thousand miles away from everything.  Our tents were nestled into tall grass.  The morning air was cool and heavy with dew.  I was a child.

I took a long time to grow.

Later, I was pregnant and we rented a room at a motel tucked into towering pine trees.  I waited in the car with my belly while Kurt paid the man forty dollars.  He gave us the smallest room without air conditioning.  We had nowhere to be.  I left Kurt in bed to buy ice cream and french fries.  Even then, I know I was pretending to be something.  Simple and slow and languid.  I missed the gravel road on my way home.  There was a sunny field with horses.  The shower dripped.

We made love with the window open; the sound of children playing in the distance.  Trucks rolled down the drive all night long, stones crunching like the patter of rain.

What if I don't remember the moment in my when I felt the happiest?  What if it happened, I was happy and I let it get away?  Kurt got drunk at night and I was lonely and wanted to wake him up and yell at him.  We were all by ourselves and I didn't want him to leave me.  A horse whinnied and I heard the flapping of an owl.  Water dripped in the dark.

I want to let go.  I want to lay on my back, I want to be a girl.

Friday, March 30, 2012

These things aren't even my secrets...

I'm weirdly walled off from my feelings about my mother.

My friend recently found out that her mom has cancer.  I'm so sorry for them, and when I try to think about how I'd feel getting similar news about my own mother, it's like I am suddenly pressing up against a padded wall.  I can almost picture it, but then everything gets swallowed and dispersed and I'm comfortable and blind, pressing in.

Growing up, my dad was mean to everyone.  His meanness extended to the world beyond our family.  He didn't have a single friend.  He hated his job, he hated us, he hated everything.  Mostly, he felt sorry for himself because nobody liked him.

He liked to boss us around, especially my mom.  He didn't take on any responsibility at home.  His four children belonged to her, as did the washing and feeding.  She mowed the lawn and took out the garbage.  She trimmed the weeds and put oil in the car.  She patched up holes in the ceiling as best she could.  Mostly she felt sorry for herself because her husband didn't love her.

He didn't love anybody, except his appetites.  He had a really big belly.  He was a joke to us, but he had to be.  If we took him seriously, we had to admit how terribly he hurt us.  The fact of him was too much to bear.  He crippled us and made us feel like we would never know love or happiness.  We laughed at him when his back was turned; sometimes until we cried.  Crying is what we really wanted to do.

By the time I was a teenager, I was very angry inside.  I still am.  I am a pot, ready to boil over.  I remember things so that my heart starts to skip: the time a man yelled at me at the gas station for not pulling forward, the time a man yelled at me because he thought Scouty hit the door of his truck with her lunchbox, the time a man yelled at me.

I was so lonely.  My family all had God and I was lonely.  I used to lock myself in the attic crawl space and smoke cigarettes and pretend I was dead.  I was so sad, it obliterated me.  I would cry for so long that it hurt to breathe for days afterward.  I tried to feel what it would be like to burn up in a fire.  I tried to feel what it was like to turn back into everything, to go to a place where there was no God, there was no loneliness.  I would turn back into the dirt and the frost and the shoots in the spring.  I would be water and my dark eyes would turn blue.

I used to follow my mom around, trying to talk to her.  She would be washing dishes and wrestling a toppling black bag out of the garbage can.  I would emerge into the light of the kitchen and start talking about everything.  I tried to tell her everything.  I do the same thing to my husband, now.  He'll come upstairs and lie down next to me to sleep, and I can't control myself.  I'll start talking about my thoughts on getting older, and pretty soon he's breathing softly while I tell him about the woman behind the counter at the drug store, how she called me baby and I loved her, for a moment.  I'll tell him about a song I like, about why I can't stand to watch commercials, how companies don't know how to advertise to us anymore now that we can record live tv, how Scouty wants a toy bunny that hops for Easter, how the brakes were scraping a little bit going downhill, how it's supposed to be 75 degrees on Saturday.  Like I've been holding the whole world in the pit of my belly and nobody knows me.

Eventually she would walk away from me.  She would say, "Okay, Amanda, I have something to do." It would be like I was possessed.  I couldn't stop talking.  I would tremble a little bit, over the force of my own longing to communicate.  I just needed somebody to hear this last thing.  I had everything inside of me and it was tearing me apart.  The absurdity of existence and how bright the lights were inside of a gas station at night.  The sadness of being young and the emptiness of the passing of time.  I had nothing left inside of me, but everything was there, threatening to gut me.  I could see it all and I needed someone to know.  I wasn't nothing.  I wasn't nothing. 

Sometimes I would start an argument when she got bored with my talking and I'd yell at her for walking away.  I could feel the gorge and bulge of the world against my windpipe.  It was going to split and I'd choke to death on my own boiling blood.  I screamed at her not to walk away.

Without saying anything, she would disappear into her bedroom and shut the door against me.  I imagined that she must have felt very smart and in control removing herself from the situation.  I was a situation very often, something to be navigated.  Why couldn't I just behave?

See, he almost tricked me.  I almost winked out in the night.  I almost gave up; a small girl from a small place who didn't know anything worthwhile.  My dad needed me to feel stupid, to feel small and simple and scared.  He tricked me.  I almost believed him and curled up against myself, nibbling away at a box of snack cakes and bemoaning my mousey hair, my plainness.  I exploded, as a teenager and I haven't yet managed to put myself back together, I don't think.

I was so mad and so lonely.  Everybody in my family was unhappy.  My youngest brother stayed small.  He hugged my mom until he was grown and cried when things were sad.  My brother disappeared.  He was so mild that he tried to hang himself. The world was too mean and our dad hated us. My sister spent her youth on her knees, believing because not believing would destroy her.  My sister took pills.  They gave her charcoal at the hospital.  I watched as the nurse changed her out of a gown with vomit on the collar, her naked body embarrassed me under the fluorescent lights.

These things aren't even my secrets.

My mom just wanted somebody to love her.  She was miserable, too.  I shouldn't blame her for that.

Now that I'm grown and have babies, she's Grammy.  She stops by our house after work and brings cookies.  She loves my girls, especially Scouty.  Scouty sleeps over at her apartment and they play board games and watch VCR tapes of old Disney movies on her tiny television and they sleep in the same bed.  She spends Christmas morning with us.  She stays with the girls while Kurt and I go out for dinner.  My girls love her, and she's never done anything to me that we weren't all doing to each other.

I can't hug my sister, either.

Leaving the house at 5am for my second c-section, my mom was sitting on our couch, bleary eyed and worried.  My girl was sleeping upstairs.  I would be coming home with her sister.

"Okay," I said.  "I guess we're going."

"I love you," my mom said.

I nodded.  "Okay, bye," I said.

I can remember exactly how it felt when a guy ran a stop sign one time and blamed our near-accident on me.  I'll keep it inside of me forever so that my hands shake thinking about it.  I don't smile at people at the supermarket.  I think a lot about how everybody is mean to everybody else and I'm lonely.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cafeteria - Writing Challenge Piece

He was sitting in a booth in the corner when Leah Darling walked over to him. She was wearing a pink skirt that fell to the middle of her thigh.  She stood silently, her shadow laying over Elliott like a blanket.   He looked up at her.

"Did you write this?" she demanded.  There was a flower in her hair.

"I'm sorry?" he asked.

She slapped a tattered packet of papers onto his table. 

"This," she said. 

"My story for English class?" he asked. 

His teacher collected the stories they'd written for homework and redistributed them among the students. They were meant to make notes in the margins and return them.  Elliott had received a story about the joy of riding horses from a girl with a brown ponytail.

"God," she sighed.  "Yes."

"What about it?" he asked.

"I need to know if you wrote it," she said.  "All of it."

He wasn't sure what her question meant.  He wasn't sure why she was even talking to him.  Staring up at her, she was eleven feet tall.  He felt small and the feeling was comforting.  He'd never been this close to her before; he'd never wanted to.  Now that she was so near and her hair was so blonde and long and cascading around her shoulders in the sunlight, she was kind of a sparkling behemoth.  It was no wonder so many people hated her.  She was breathtaking.  The hems of all her clothing were just a little bit too short and all the slender parts of her body were visible.  The effect might have been cheap on someone else.

"Well, I mean, yes," he said.  "I wrote it."

There was silence for a long moment.  He glanced behind her to make sure that nobody was watching them, that this wasn't some kind of cryptic joke.  She stared at him and the corners of her mouth were turned down.

"Do you need something?" he asked.

"I need you," she couldn't quite make herself say.

Winman Jr. High School Cafeteria
photo by chuck d


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 cheap.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New job update

I love you for being concerned.

Here's an update on (my life threateningly stressful waiting HELL) our brand new job situation.

We got some good news.  It could be REALLY good news.

There's just one more step to the process.  We didn't know there was another step.  This other step is going to give me an ulcer.

The thing is, it's not going to be SO MUCH MORE money that it matters.  It's not going to mean very much to me, personally.  We'll be in a similar position... Kurt will work and I'll stay at home and write for as much money as I can scrape together.  That will all still be the same.

But this job, it's at a prestigious university.  My husband would feel proud of landing a job at a prestigious university in a hip, trendy, fun part of the city.  He could ride public transit to work for free.  He could go back to school for free.  Our girls could go to college for free.  He would feel like he'd made it.

My sweet, unassuming husband who works so hard and gives up so much, he would feel like he could announce himself proudly.  He would feel like he was going places, that every day wasn't something to get through so that we didn't starve.  He wouldn't be doing it just for us.  He would be so proud of himself.  He would stand up taller.  He would be happier.

That's why it matters so much.

That's why I've been feeling like I am going to throw up every waking moment of the past few days. That's why I'm so scared and why I'm going insane waiting for this. 

It's not that it would change very much about my daily life.  It's that it would make the person I love the most, out of all the people in the world, really happy. 

That's what's at stake.  The boy I loved so much that we gave up our wildness and made a baby and bought a house and got married and made another baby... he might get to feel like he can walk around in the world, looking everybody in the eye.  He might not have to suffer through most days, anymore.  He might get to feel really fucking proud of himself and even be happy.

I can't take the thought that this might not happen.
That's why it has to happen.
That's why, for the next 3-5 business days, I'll be puking up my meals and holding my breath every time the phone rings.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Small and scared, like a child.

Just now, I was leaving the grocery store and walking to my car.  It was warm enough that people had the windows down in their cars.  Somebody yelled something.  I didn't hear what.  It was followed up by an explosion of laughter.  Male laughter.

"Hey girl," somebody yelled.  "I was just kidding.  Come here for a second."

I glanced to my left and saw a twenty-something boy leaning out of his car window.  He whistled, like he was trying to get the attention of a dog.

"Hey!" he said again.  "Don't be mad.  Come here."

Now.  If you're a woman, you must know this feeling.  This dread and fear that stops up the blood in your veins.  I looked down at the pavement, feeling the hair on my neck stand up.  This is it, I thought.  This is one of those moments where I'm about to be annihilated.  I'm about to be squashed by a catcall or a crude comment.  I am going to be told that I don't matter.  I am going to be reminded that I am a woman and I am powerless.  That, because I'm a woman, it only makes sense that someone might leer at me, occasionally.  Someone might make a comment about my body, single me out for having female anatomy.  Somebody might whistle at me like I'm a dog and laugh.  

I don't even know if they were talking to me.  It didn't matter.  It was enough to send a jolt of panic up my spine.

I got into my car while they talked and laughed some more.  I waited to turn the key until they pulled away, until I felt safe and alone, again.  Every woman has felt this way.  Small and scared, like a child because of somebody else's joking.

I used to feel like something was wrong, but I didn't know what it was.  I would try to make up reasons, like maybe my Pap might have a heart attack or my mom might go into a coma, again, but none of it was very convincing.  I think that the truth was probably that I was a little girl and the world was a big place.

I still feel that way, sometimes, like lightning out at sea.


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, March 26, 2012

What I'm waiting for.

Kurt is waiting to hear about a new job today.  I feel like I won't survive.  Every time my phone buzzes, I feel like I'm going to puke.  I jump and knock over the baby scrambling to answer it, and then it will just be a reminder I set to change out the laundry.

I want him to get this job, but not because of money or security or what it means to me and our finances.  I just want him to feel happy.

Do you know what he does for our family?  Can I tell you?

He's the kindness that balances out my temper and explosions.  He dresses up in a suit when we go out for dinner because he thinks I deserve to be seen with a man in a tie.  He bathes the girls every night, reads their bedtime stories and sings them to sleep.  When he gets home from work, I hand him the baby, bark at him about what to cook for dinner and I leave to workout or get my work done.  He takes the girls every Sunday, and leaves me in bed.  They don't even come home until bedtime.  He does the dishes and the laundry.  He does everything right.

I am terrible.  I break down and refuse to do things.  I get mad.  I get bossy.  I get frustrated.  I call him at work and tell him that I can't possibly go on this way; the house is too messy, the baby is too demanding and I am exhausted.  I cry until I'm finished crying.  I am stormy.  I am distracted.  I don't always remember to recognize him and thank him for being everything we need to be a family. 

Because he is what holds (me) us together.  He saves me.  He deserves something really good.

So, a car drives by outside approximately every 30 seconds, and every time I hear the hiss of tires on the wet pavement, I'm sure it's my phone buzzing and my heart stalls and sputters.  I dive across the room, stepping on a toy airplane and swearing, hopping on one foot.

It's too much.  Knowing that he'll feel disappointed and like a failure, if this doesn't come through.  Knowing that he'll be sad, but he won't say so.  It's making me crazy.

When we were new parents, we lived in a little apartment twenty minutes outside of a college town.  I was afraid to go outside.  There wasn't a grocery store.  We were on an island and we loved one another, even when there wasn't enough money for food.

Sometimes there still isn't enough money, but we're all grown up, now.  We live in the city.  We're going on our first vacation, this spring.  Our babies walk and talk and I'm not afraid to break them, anymore.  Louisey is learning how to jump and Scouty is reading.  I'm still washing diapers and writing with a child on my shoulder.  We've rattled until our wheels fell off.  We've been through a lifetime of lean winters.  Mostly, we've been a family that is absolutely brimming with love and happiness.  There's not enough money for t-ball.  We love our life a lot.

Daddy is the only reason we didn't fall apart a long time ago.  He deserves to be really happy and to feel really proud and so, I won't be able to eat until he calls.

We love you, Daddy.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Winter Reads

::Books have knowledge, knowledge is power, power corrupts, corruption is a crime,,,::
photo by zitonia

Here's what I thought of the books I read, this winter.

Paper Towns by John Green – This book was nice.  It’s for young adults and it’s about high school kids going on unlikely adventures.  It was likeable and fun.  It didn’t like… blow my mind or anything, but I’m glad I read it.

Girl In Translation Jean Kwok – Well, I didn’t dislike this book.  It was a fairly engrossing story of a girl from China struggling to survive in New York.  She and her mother lived in a roach infested apartment without heat and worked in a factory.  I liked reading those parts.  But then, she got into a private school and ended up going to Harvard, or some other Ivy League School and everything kind of turned into blah blah blah unbelievable happy ending blah.

The Magic Room Jeffrey Zaslow - I have nothing to say.  This was like… the worst “book” I’ve ever read.  You can read my review here.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver – Maybe this book did blow my mind, a little bit.  Barbara Kingsolver and her family spent a year eating local.  They grew a lot of their own food and bought everything else from people in their area.  It was totally gardening porn.  I read it in the dead of winter and all I could do was roll around in my sheets surrounded by tattered seed catalogs.  I talked before about how itinspired me to make my own cheese, once.  I recommend it highly.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver –
I sort of loved this YA novel.  It was about a bitchy girl who got to live the last day of her life over and over again, until she learned a lesson.  Kind of like Groundhog day only with teenagers and the main character died over and over again.  Lauren Oliver is a master at writing teenagers.  This story was totally juicy and entertaining.  You should read it if you like YA reads.

Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon –
This book is interesting.  I didn’t feel like it blasted me out of the water because I was already familiar with the tenants of the Health At Every Size philosophy.  If you’re not familiar with it and you’re struggling with hating yourself because of your body… if you feel guilty for eating, if you feel like you need to be thin to be healthy, you might want to read it.

The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch –
This was sort of a beautiful, disgusting kind of book.  A memoir by somebody honest.  I didn’t always find myself liking Lidia, but I admire her way down deep, like in my pants, for writing such a gutsy, intimate book.  Amazing.

Torch by Cheryl Strayed –
Okay, so, it’s true that I’m in love with Cheryl Strayed.  She is everything I want to be.  She is SO wise and SO beautiful and SO compassionate and SO badass.  She’s the author of DearSugar at the Rumpus, which is my favorite thing on the internet.  I want to rest my head on her shoulder.  I want her to wrap me up in a blanket and tell me about how I’m okay, even though I’m afraid of everything.  Torch is a novel based on her experiences with losing her mother.  It’s beautifully written, but of course it is.

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl by Stephanie McAfee – I wanted to hate this book.  I did hate this book.  Or maybe I didn’t.  It is totally stupid and embarrassing, but I liked it.  You can read my official review here, if you want to.

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols – Ugh.  This book sucked.  It’s a YA novel about a girl with blue hair who gets a sexy crush on a nineteen year old cop and then they do it.  I wavered back and forth between wanting to stop reading and kind of getting sucked into the immature story line.  In the end, I left it with like twenty pages left to go.  I couldn’t go the distance.

Stop Time: A Memoir by Frank Conroy – This might be the best written book I’ve ever read.  It’s a memoir about being a kid in the fifties and it’s so full of toughness and charm and parenting that would never fly, nowadays.  The writing is so evocative of childhood, so believable and solid.  I totally loved it.

What should I add to my spring reading list?


Friday, March 23, 2012

We're afraid to die

We're afraid to die.

We say that we just want to be healthy.  We strangle ourselves, deprive ourselves, talk ourselves into being still, into not wanting things, into not being hungry.

We're shamed into hating ourselves.  We're bullied into taping our feet and standing at the table.  We don't make pancakes on Saturday.  We don't have a piece of our child's birthday cake.  We don't slow down and stay in bed on Sunday.

Our kids can't have candy.  We keep pictures of thin women in our wallets.

We say we're trying to be healthy, but we're really trying to outrun death.

What would it mean for my body if I wasn't afraid to die?  What if I lived my life in a way that made me proud, where my children were prepared to love themselves, where they were safe and capable?  What would it mean if I didn't have to live forever?  Because I won't, you know.  No matter how much I obsess about fitness minutes and repetitions, I'll die someday and I won't feel ready.

I'm trying something new, because I can't stand the guilt anymore.

This thing I'm trying, it's called being a grown up.  It's called being the boss of myself.  It's called doing the best I can.

It's called - admitting that I'm going to die, someday.

I don't want to eat and walk and stretch and run out of fear.  I don't want to feel like I've failed when I run out of time and it's Thursday and I'm just not going to fit in a workout.  I don't want to be a bad person every time I eat.  I don't want to sit with my chin in my hands, smiling at my children while they eat ice cream cones on the wooden bench on the sidewalk.

I just want to do the best I can.

I want to choose things that make me feel good.  I want to sweat and lift heavy things.  I can trust myself without obsessing because I love myself.  I love my babies and my husband.  I've crammed myself full of information.  I know how many calories are in EVERYTHING.  I know which fats are deadly.  I know how to fend against disease, how to shop, how to build muscle.  I know it.  It's all there.  It's not going to go anywhere.  I don't need to hold on so tight.

I hold on to things when I'm afraid.  I second guess myself when I'm afraid.  I believe myself to be a failure when I'm afraid.

The new thing I'm trying is this:  I trust myself.  I'm really smart and really educated.  Also, I'm not going to feel guilty about things that aren't even moral issues.  I own myself.  There isn't a set of rules about what I have to do, when it comes to my own upkeep.  I'm going to try really hard to listen to myself.  I know what makes me feel the best.  Sometimes I can't hear my own voice; I get drowned out by people who want me to be afraid to die.  Those people want me to buy something.  They want me to subscribe to something.  I know everything I need to know, and I have a say.  I have a voice.  I'm going to try to hear it. 

The thing I'm going to try to do is recover my sanity.  I'm going to stop obsessing.  I'm going to die, someday.  I don't want to fend it off, to trick death into not coming for me.  I'm not going to deny death anymore.  I'm not going to let it creep on me, like panic, nagging me and saying, "I'm here.  I'm real.  You'll meet me."

Death is a part of me.  I'm alive.  The point of my life isn't to stall death.  I can't be happy trying to trick death from coming.  It is coming, for all of us.  Even me.  Even my sweet, good hearted husband.  Even my girls.  We're all going to die.

What might it mean to our lives if we understood that, embraced that, and let a love of living guide our choices, instead of a fear of death?


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Green Alligators and Long Necked Geese

Louise wants to be just like her big sister.  She follows Scouty around, watching her carefully, mimicking everything she does.

I feel so pleased, at the center of everything, because she couldn't have picked a better person to look up to.

No matter how helpless I feel.  No matter how many times I feel like I might just fall apart, that this life is too hard for me, that I don't know what I'm doing, that I must be failing, to feel this inadequate.

They are proof that I'm doing at least one thing right.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The last evening of winter

I slept with my window open last night, the last night of winter.  The cars woke me up.  People on their way to work.  I could have buried my head and stayed there, warm and sleepy, the first morning of spring, but I didn't.

Scouty was awake until ten, last night.  Kurt was in the front yard, protected in the halo of the porch light, putting together her trampoline.  It was a present from Grammy.

Scouty couldn't sleep, she said.  "Every time I try to go to sleep, I just keep thinking about the trampoline," she said.  We let her stay awake until it was finished.

A couple down the street was fighting.  The man was screaming at her to get out of his house.  I strained my ear to listen, like a busy body while I tied down the trampoline safety net.  I strained not to remember when that echoing, disembodied voice was mine.  I dated a criminal, once.  Sometimes we were angry the whole night through.  Sometimes I screamed and threw things until the sun came up.  Most of the time, I waited, though.  Most of the time, he didn't come home.

One time, though, I smashed a bottle on the kitchen counter.  I was bleeding, he was dangerous.  He came from a small place with big, rippling secrets.  Secrets with muscles and teeth.  He was unrecoverable; he took up negative space.  He ate everything up with his psychosis.  I smashed a bottle and cut myself, threw it at him.  He scrambled onto the front yard and fell on his face.  Our landlord appeared, out of the fog.  She had a look on her face like she felt sorry for us.  I loved her for that, for looking at me with tears in her eyes in that moment, when I was so ugly and torn.

I wanted to hear the neighbors fighting, last night.  My girl was up past her bedtime, wearing one of daddy's t-shirts as pajamas.  She jumped and laughed and landed on her back.  We told her, "Five more jumps and then it's bedtime."  People driving by must have been shaking their heads.  We let our four year old stay up so late.  She didn't stop jumping at five more jumps.  I couldn't stop myself from laughing, her little bare legs in the moonlight.  I was happy.  I didn't have to fight for anything, anymore.

That is how I spent the last evening of winter.

My first morning of spring is quiet; an island.


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, March 18, 2012

Lost - Writing Challenge Piece

inside the lean-to shelter
photo by erik fitzpatrick

"I found you down by the stream!" his mother said.

"I knew where I was," he insisted. "I had to do something."

There was a man bleeding in the woods, under a lean-to.


This weekend's Trifecta Writing Challenge was to write a story entitled 'Lost' in exactly 33 words. The word 'lost' could only appear in the title, not our 33 words.


What if your curves aren't sexy?

It seems like people are always saying, "You need to realize how sexy you are, right now, in your body, at every size."

Right?  Like we should all love our bodies, no matter how they look.  Every body is beautiful, and everything.  (And here is where you'd find a picture of a pretty fat girl with a cute haircut wearing a pretty dress with her arms in the air and her lips painted red.)

Do you know what I think?  Maybe you're just not really very sexy right now, and that's okay.  Sexiness is a part of life, but it isn't as big of a deal as we've been tricked into thinking.  It's a biological manipulation to get us to have babies and keep our species going.  It's also a tool used by companies who have done a lot of research about how to keep us in place and sell us stuff.  It's a deal, but it's not the big deal you think it is.

Maybe you're not sexy because maybe you're thinking about it too much. You're standing on this big open beach with your arms in the air and the camera is spinning around you and you're saying, "Okay, I'm doing this.  Inside, I don't feel good enough, but I told myself in the mirror this morning that I was sexy, so here I am, world!"

It doesn't feel quite real, does it?  You don't quite believe it, do you?

You've heard people saying that curves are sexy, right?  Well, what if they aren't?  What if a bunch of people who don't know you look at your curves and don't feel sexed up.  Is that okay? What if those people have been tricked, just like you have, by biology and those smart companies who have researched how to manipulate biology, to believe that our bodies are something that have external worth.  They're something that can be determined good or bad by how they look, how we think they look, and how sexy other people find them by looking at them.

It's sad, but the bottom line is that you can't be sexy to all the people all the time.

Do you know what you can be though, if you stop thinking about how much you weigh and how good you look?

You can be strong and awesome.  You can do amazing things, with your body.  You can walk really far.  You can lift something big.  You can climb to the top of something.  You can go on an adventure.  You can push your way through the forest.  You can dive so deep.

Get sweaty.  Get dirty.  Let your body be something amazing.

Maybe you're not sexy because finding the right dress and putting on some lipstick and tights and realizing, "Oh hey, I don't look totally disgusting in this outfit.  Maybe if I kind of jimmy myself into this belt and sort of hold myself to side and smile really big... MAYBE THEN, a bigger base of people will look at me and decide they'd be willing to touch me with their wiener!"

What if sexy isn't about loving the way our bodies look?  What if our curves or thinness or shape or how many boobs we have doesn't have anything to do with it?  What if when we're looking in the mirror to find our sexiness, we're really just standing there on the beach with our arms crossed in front of us thinking, "The sunlight is shining on me, and I don't feel good enough to be seen.  I better put on a wig and some sunglasses or whatever."

Do you know when you might want to be seen, when you might volunteer to be looked at?  When you're kicking ass and being awesome.  When you're doing something you KNEW you could do, but were too scared to try.  When you're holding a plank for TWO MINUTES, and you know that you're going to be able to do five, someday soon.  When you're climbing to the top of something.  When you're emerging from the woods.  When you're coming back from the bottom of the ocean.

When you're beating up the bad guys.
When you're saving some kids from a burning building.
When you're standing on the beach and you have no idea whether your bathing suit is riding up in the back or if your boobs need adjusting because you're amazing.  A wave as tall as a building could crash on the shore and mop the sand with that scared, other you in a flattering suit and matching sandals, the other you who is looking around to make sure that nobody is laughing, who is sucking it in and poking it out and repeating to themselves, "I am sexy at any size.  I am sexy at any size."

Do you really want to share your awesome body with somebody who only loves it because of its curves?

Something about biology is that it has other tricks.  We all know about the hip to waist ratio because IT'S SHOVED INTO OUR FACES EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY.  But, what about those red-breasted warblers that that warble the best?  What about how we might feel a little tingle in our thighs because of a pretty face (or body), but the people we REALLY go crazy for are like... really good at something.  They're really brave.  They take risks.  They stand in the sun on purpose.  They save us from burning buildings.  They sing really loud and tell the truth and make shocking, beautiful things.

If you want to love your body, make it do beautiful things.  Let it do amazing things.  Let it do something better than standing in front of a mirror.

You might have a little accidental sexy reaction to somebody who looks good, but the people you really want to bone and daydream about and who make you feel like you've seen the face of GOD because fuck, are they sexy, are all people who do amazing things, regardless of their hip to waist ratio.

You'll love your body when it does something amazing.  Convincing yourself that it looks good is no way to love something.  Telling yourself that it's not disgusting is no way to love something.  Kick a little ass.  Kick a LOT of ass.  Do something you're too scared to do.  You might be surprised at the reaction of everybody's wiener. Not that it even matters...


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Nothing is ever gone or... being buried under a tree.

Spring time is here.  I've been digging around in the dirt, starting my seeds and I even hung up the hammock.  Being outside, meandering between tasks in the yard, makes me think about things.

Yesterday, I asked Kurt if he would be weirded out eating vegetables from a garden where I was buried.  He said, "Yes, but I'm not overly fond of vegetables."

I thought that this might be a good idea, the way people are always saying, "I want to be buried under a sapling so it can grow big and strong into a tree, using my body as life."

It's strange to me that decaying things feed plants.  Actually, it's strange in a way that makes me feel like I've understood something about life just by thinking about it.  I think to myself, "Yes.  This is what I want to do.  I'll be buried under a tree.  That way, I won't be gone, when I die."

But then, it occurs to me how silly this is, the notion that I'll just be gone when I die if a tree isn't feeding from my body.  We eat food and the food turns into energy and helps to build parts of us; we can feed the plants in the same way.  Nothing is ever gone.  That's kind of the point of life, that we're a part of it and that it goes on.

 Holy crap, too.  It does go on and on and everything slips through my fingers.

my baby is pretty much all grown up

my sweet, amazing big girl will be 5 in a few weeks

when i came home wearing these sunglasses, kurt asked me if we were late for the inxs concert

photo by scouty


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mermaid - Writing Challenge Piece

A trail of bubbles exploded behind me.  I wore a tiny conch shell around my neck on a string.  I fastened a pair of coral spirals onto my forehead like horns.  Holding the net, I set out to find the angel fish.

She was magical, and she had healing powers.  She lived in the shipwrecks.  My daddy told me stories about seeing her, two glowing eyes through holes in the rust under the water.  He said that she fixed the bend in his spine; she healed his scoliosis.  "You have to seek her with the heart of a sea creature," he told me.  "You have to become a citizen of Atlantis."

I spent all my life working on my clothing.  The necklace and horns were finishing touches.  I weaved a length of fabric from strands of seaweed dried in the sun.  Down at the dock, after the fishermen had gone home for the day, I sifted through their garbage with my fingers, carefully selecting the scales and bits of skeleton that glittered the best.  I sculpted tailbones from branches of driftwood.  I painted my head with algae, smearing handfuls of it against my hair, so that it glowed blue and green and fell around my throat like wet sea grass.  I would find her, and she would know me for what I was.

A girl with the heart of a serpent.  A mermaid and a princess from the city under the sea.  She had to know me.  My mother was dying.

ball and weed
photo by kai schreiber


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 trail.


Lunch with my dad...

We had lunch with my dad this past weekend.

Having lunch with my dad is complicated.  It's so hard to explain him.  I feel like I'd have to start at the beginning of my life, and tell you about every moment of every day until you understood.

He isn't a monster.  He did drink when we were kids, or beat anybody up.  He didn't love us, either.  Or, if he did, not more than he loved his whims and urges.  I almost said, "Not more than he loved himself," but that's not quite right.  He doesn't love himself, either.  He doesn't love anything.

The thing about him is that he probably thinks he does, sometimes.  He's been in love with a few women since my mom left him, three years ago.  He probably believes that those feelings equal love.  He's never worked hard for love, though.  He's never gotten down on face, for love.  Maybe he's been on his knees.  Maybe he's begged and lost things, but that's not love.

He's never been up, night after night, with a life in his arms.  He's never loved somebody so that they became a part of him.  He's never born anyone on his back.  He's always climbed over love to reach for the sky.  He's always pushed at love and molded it, trimmed its edges, made it bleed.

He brought home cookies, the special kind with raisins and white icing.  He sat with the bag in his lap and the children lined up in front of him to get one.  I was older.  I was the oldest.  I didn't want to be like the little kids.  I didn't want to seem so eager over such a little thing.  I wanted to be mild and unassuming like my mom.  I wanted to be grown up and reigned in.

He asked me if I wanted a cookie.  I did.

I said, "Um, sure, I guess, if you have an extra one."  I gave a little shrug to show that I wasn't so little.  I was polite and dignified.

"You don't really want it?" he asked, holding up my cookie.

I shrugged again.  "It's okay.  I could have one, if there's enough."

He wasn't a monster, but he was mean.  He had meanness inside of him.  He didn't love me more than he hated my mother, their tenuous marriage.  He didn't love me enough.

He said, "Well, if you don't really care either way -"  And he took a huge bit out of the cookie.  He sat on the couch and I watched him eat it deliberately, bite by bite.

This is why he is hard to explain. Can I tell you that I know my dad didn't love me because of a cookie?  My whole life has been like this.  Little things, stacking up against one another.

On my fifteenth birthday, I got to choose anywhere I wanted to go out for dinner.  I picked somewhere my dad didn't want to go.  We got into an argument as we pulled out of the driveway onto the street.  I said, "It's my birthday, I thought I was supposed to pick."

Just like that, he put the car into park, the back seat stuffed with the four of his children, bundled up in our second hand coats and scarves.  He left us sitting in the middle of the road and stormed into the house and locked himself into his bedroom.

My mom sighed and opened her door.  A few cars were backing up behind us.  This was my fault, their impatience.  I watched through angry tears as she scurried around the front of the car, waving in apology and jumped into the driver's seat.  We didn't go anywhere for my birthday dinner.

Is that enough to say I know?  I didn't have a dad, like lots of people did.  He was there, his presence dictating everything we did, but he wasn't a thing full of love.

He was recently treated for prostate cancer.  They say he is fine, now.  He's getting older, though, and I am full of anger.  I can't bear to be wrong.  I spent my childhood being humiliated.

I tell myself he doesn't matter, and he doesn't.  We see him a few times a year.  He buys lunch and brings the girls a present and it's fine.  Any more contact than that, and I'll start yelling.  He'll start accusing me of ruining his life.  That's the way it's always been.  He wasn't a monster, but he was enough to change the way I saw the world and myself.  He made me, in a way.  Every time I boil over.  Every time I am destroyed by criticism.  The way I can't have anybody above me.

He's going to die, someday, and I'm not sure how I'll feel.  I imagine I'll feel confused and hurt, but I've always sort of felt that way.  I imagine I'll have a shard of resentment lodged in my guts, but it's been there for as long as I can remember.  Maybe I'll feel sad, but I always feel sad.  I'll worry about my sister, about the way she feels things.  They come at her strong and overwhelm her, she's a lot like me.

my 4th grade school photo


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We can't have another baby.

"We're not going to have any more babies, are we?" I asked Kurt, last night.

He shook his head.

"It's too dangerous, isn't it?" I said.

"There are other things, too," he said.

It is hard to believe there are other things.  There is something wrong in my body, something that might make it risky to have another baby.

The thing is, the risk was there with my first two babies, I just didn't know about it.  I can't help but feel like everything would be okay, again.  There is about a 5% change something could go wrong.  That chance is so small, and it is SO HUGE when thinking about having another baby.  There is only a slightly elevated risk that I won't live until I'm old.  (That slight risk takes over everything when I can't sleep. It is bigger than the sky.)

"Being pregnant is awful, anyway," I said.  "And I'd have to have another c-section, and that would suck."

He nodded.

"I'd get tremors and fevers and cold sweats," I said.  "I'd go crazy for a little bit after giving birth.  Not to mention that there would be months of sleeplessness, of feedings in the middle of the night.  There are lots of reasons not to have another baby, not just the big one."

"It's not even that big," he said.

"We don't even have enough room," I reminded him.  "The girls would have to share a room."

None of these things take away my longing to hold a newborn against my breast.  I said so.  I said to my husband, "It's hard for me to reconcile the fact that I'll never hold a newborn.  I mean, really get to hold one.  To hold it like it's mine."

"You'll have grand kids, someday," he said.

Maybe I will.  (As long as the slightly elevated risk doesn't turn into something less slight.)

We've been talking about what it would mean to have another baby.  There's no denying it would mean another person to love.  It would mean a multiplication of all the beauty in the world.  It would mean that my heart would break again and grow, grow, grow.  It would mean all of those other things, too.  It would mean long nights and one more person to cry, when things got tough.  It would mean that life would matter, a whole person more.  It would mean that my motherhood would be a whole person bigger.

It's hard to reconcile.

It's even harder to reconcile that 5%.

We simply can't have another baby.

My heart isn't broken over it.
After all, it was only an idea.

one week old scouty


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, March 11, 2012

I am beautiful, girls

I've started telling my girls that I think I'm beautiful.

It's been so easy to tell them how beautiful THEY are, because it's obvious.  They are the thing beauty is made of.  They are the reason we started worshiping beauty.  They are milky and porcelain with dark eyes that see right through you.  They sparkle and dance.  When they're sleeping, they turn into soft cloud babies, little perfect tufts of white on the moonlight.

There are a lot of people like me.  Women who know things.  Women who have seen things.  Women with diseases in their livers.  There are a lot of women with scars on their arms and words that carry themselves like sparrows.  There are women who were too big for this town, who had their backs bent carrying things like religion and a history that originated somewhere in the crook of a branch that extended over a stream.  A place where a patch of the sky was visible through the leaves, where a little girl let her bare leg dangle too far down.

There are a lot of people like me, because we're all the same.  We're all blood and electricity.  We're lonely under the gaze of god.  We're all wet with dew and swallowing hard against DO THIS, CONSUME, SHUT UP and BE AFRAID to die.

All of you women with lines on your brow, with cracks between your fingers... it's been a long winter.  All of you, you are beautiful and so am I.

The thing is, my children are perfect.  I am the grown up, so I'm supposed to show them everything about life.  When they wake up in the morning, though, I stare at them and they're new.  They teach me everything.  They are babies and they teach me what it means to be a person.  It's easy to see that they're beautiful.

I am slow and I am tired.  I am round and sagging. I am harried.  I am sexless.  I am getting older.

I am beautiful.  How can this be?  How can any of this be true?

I don't want my girls to be children who are perfect and then, when they start to feel like women, they remember how I thought of myself as ugly and so they will be ugly too.  They will get older and their breasts will lose their shape and they will hate their bodies, because that's what women do.  That's what mommy did.  I want them to become women who remember me modeling impossible beauty.  Modeling beauty in the face of a mean world, a scary world, a world where we don't know what to make of ourselves.

"Look at me, girls!"  I say to them.  "Look at how beautiful I am.  I feel really beautiful, today."

I see it behind their eyes, the calculating and impression.  I see it behind their shining brown eyes, how glad they are that I believe I am beautiful.  They love me.  To them, I am love and guidance and warm, soft blankets and early mornings.  They have never doubted how wonderful I am.  They have never doubted my beauty.  How confusing it must have been for them to see me furrowing my brow in the mirror and sucking in my stomach and sighing.

How confusing it must have been to have me say to them, "You think I am beautiful, but you are wrong.  You are small and you love me, so you're not smart enough to know how unattractive I am.  I know I am ugly because I see myself with mean eyes.  You are my child and I love you, but I will not allow myself to be pretty, for you.  No matter how shining you are when you watch me brushing my hair and pulling my dress over my head.  No matter how much you want to be just like me, I can't be beautiful for you and I don't know why."

I am beautiful.
I am beautiful.
I am beautiful.

It's even been working, a little bit.  I've even stopped hating myself, a little bit.

I'll be what they see.  They see me through eyes of love.  I'd do anything for them, even this.

I am beautiful.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Carbon Dating - Writing Challenge Piece

How he laughed when we talked about carbon dating and the dinosaurs!  A great, booming "Ha!"  He had proof, he said.  Scholars studied the bible. 

The world was 6,000 years old to my father.

Bible and Land  1
photo by alvinmci


This week's Trifecta Weekend Challenge went like this:  This weekend's challenge is to give us a story or snippet of a story which includes, in exactly 33 words, a justified exclamation point.  Make us believe that your exclamation point simply needs to be in your story.  The writer with the most believable exclamation wins.

Can you justify your exclamation?  Link up here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I signed Scouty up for Kindergarten today.  I feel a little disturbed.

 I mean, this is her.

She's a baby and she exploded the world with light and color.  She came into my life and she changed everything.  We grew up together.  She taught me everything about being a person.  I wasn't a person before I knew her.  I was walking around in the world feeling invisible, like a monster.  I peered at people with tiny pebbles for eyes.  I was a creature.  I didn't know anything about living.  She is the baby that changed the world.

Sending her to Kindergarten reminds me too much of my childhood.  The bright, happy, echoing hallways of an elementary school remind me of how I was sick a lot, as a child.  I went to the nurse's office every day.  I cried and begged her to send me home.  There wasn't anything wrong with school, I just didn't like being trapped.  I didn't like being with all the other kids.  I didn't like navigating friendships and wearing my stupid secondhand clothes.  I didn't like participating.  I just wanted to curl up on the floor at my mom's feet.  My mom didn't have any time for me.  She had four kids.  I just wanted to go home.

When I was in fourth grade, I started getting strange pains in my legs, like my thigh bones were stretching.  I think maybe I used to jump rope for hours at a time.  I'm not sure, though.  In my mind, now, the jumping rope and leg pains are connected, but it couldn't have been that simple.  I was scared because sometimes I woke up in the morning and I couldn't stand.  My muscles wouldn't hold me.  

Once, this happened the morning after sleeping over at a friend's house.  She taught me how to peck out the theme song to Cheers on a tiny electric keyboard.  I woke up and couldn't walk to the bathroom.  My friend had to get her mom to help me to stand.

Nobody ever took me to the doctor about my legs.  I guess it just stopped happening.

The lobby of Scouty's big girl school is shiny and the secretary is friendly.  There were a lot of forms for me to fill out.  I almost lost my nerve by the end of the pile.

I told Scouty today, "You don't want to go to Kindergarten.  You'll just learn things and make new friends and have fun.  Doesn't that sound stinky?"

She told me it sounded awesome.

I said, "Why do you want friends?  You have your mommy.  And why do you want to learn things?  I can teach you everything.  Like, look at this orange.  I'll teach you about this orange.  It's... orange.  And it's round.  See, you know everything you need to know about an orange and you don't need to go to school."

She laughed and told me that oranges are stinky and having a mommy instead of friends is stinky.  I believe her.  I get bored a lot and frustrated and sometimes I snap at her when she messes up the zipper on her coat.  She's so bright and happy and smart.  She's confident and kind and patient.  She's going to do great.  I can't help it that I'm scared.  I'm nobody, compared to her.  She's the baby that changed the world. 

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl - BlogHer Book Club Review

When I signed up to review Diary of a Mad Fat Girl, I thought it was going to be a story about size activism, or maybe about someone dealing with body acceptance issues.  What I got instead was wacky, irreverent chick lit, set in Mississippi, about a school teacher with an attitude, a little dog named Buster Loo and an affinity for pizza.  Graciela "Ace" Jones and her girlfriends get into outrageous situations and unbelievable predicaments, sometimes involving wearing wigs and men's dresses and getting arrested outside of a strip club.

I don't think I need to tell you that this book was stuffed full of everything I hate about the publishing industry.

I once wrote a letter to Tawni O'Dell.  She and I are both from a small town in Western Pennsylvania, and we both have written books set there.  (Hers are published and wildly acclaimed.  Mine is sitting on a flash drive in my desk drawer.)  I asked her for advice.  I told her I feel like the publishing industry wants books about high heels and dating and martinis.  I told her I feel like I'll never find my place.

She said, "Keep in mind that those “really smart and inspiring” women who write about wine and fabulous shoes aren’t artists. They’re businesswomen whose business happens to be writing. They write to make money; I write because I have a story to tell. I also happen to make a living with my writing but making a living is not the reason I write."

Reading this advice made me feel validated.  It made me feel like, "Yes.  I get this.  I believe in this."

So, what does this have to do with BlogHer's Book Club selection?

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl is not a gritty, tough book.  It isn't a piece of fine literature.  It isn't going to change any lives or give anybody comfort.  It's not going to make the world a better place.  It's exactly the sort of book I complain about; a book about fabulous women and hunky men having moderately sexy adventures while wearing cute spring dresses and eating ice cream when they're feeling sad.  It is everything I bemoan about the world of books.

And I liked reading it.

I didn't want to.  I tried not to.

In the end, I couldn't help but look forward to getting a chance to curl up in bed and find out what kooky predicaments Ace and her friends would get into next.  Diary of a Mad Fat Girl is fun, sunny and mindless.  Ace Jones is brash and bold, with guts to match her appetite.  Her struggle with fitting into her jeans is somehow even charming, instead of insulting.  Maybe it's because she never achieves the body of her dreams, even as she gets the man and casts off the trappings of her life and decides to follow her dream.  Maybe it's because I have a soft spot for southern stories.  Maybe it's because I read this book in the middle of a Pennsylvania winter and Ace's walks in the park and drinks on the patio sounded so... warm.

Whatever it was, Diary of a Mad Fat Girl contained some kind of magic in spite of being a prime example of brainless chick lit.  While I can't recommend it outright and keep my dignity in tact, I will hold my hand up to my mouth and whisper to you that it is actually kind of good.  It is definitely fun.  I believe that you might even like it.

Head over to BlogHer's Book Club to find out what the rest of the bloggers thought and learn more about Diary of a Mad Fat Girl by Stephanie McAfee.

I was paid to review this book because my opinions are honest and awesome, just like the one represented here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Just because I'm in love with Farren

Farren is amazing. I've known her for years and years and years. I remember her from before we were mommies. We were very different then. We're way more awesome, now... (even if we were a little more overtly doable, then.) I love her, like the for real kind of love.

I'm doing this for her, because I'd do anything for her.

#1 - A Picture Of Me:

#2 - 10 Random Facts About Me:

1. I love reality TV.
2. I feel pressured all the time.
3. I wish I was Jenny Lewis.
4. I love reading everything. Except those books for women about shopping and wine.
5. I met my husband eleven years ago at college. He was dating one of my roommates. She was at our wedding.
6. I have a fake life that I day dream about when I'm alone.
7. I love taking long walks.
8. I have a real and intense need to be alone a lot of the time.
9. I'm good with speaking in public and being entertaining in groups of people.
10. My dad never loved me.

#3 - Farren's Questions:

1) What would 17 year old you say if they could see you now?
You know. I don't remember much about being seventeen. I think I was really insecure and a pot head. I wanted to fit in, even though I would have told you I didn't care. I acted in plays. I was an underachiever. My family hated me. One day, my dad took me out to lunch and told me that it was my fault that he and my mom didn't get along. My family was in the middle of a spiritual revival. They prayed for me. They thought I wanted to be a vampire because I loved The Cure and The Smiths and wore black on the outside because black is how I felt... on the inside. That must have seemed like a pretty douchey thing to say if you don't know The Smiths' song. I guess I would be happy, if I saw the grown up me. I'd be happy that somebody cared about me, that I had beautiful babies and people listened to me when I talked.

2) It's your birthday and you can eat anything you want all day with no repercussions. What's on the menu?
I don't know. I kind of eat anything I want all the time. I don't know if that means that I'm terribly indulgent or if I actually want normal things like fresh baked bread and kale. I guess I would want cake. I don't normally eat cake because it's too bad for you.

3) Name one thing that scares you.
 Those weird songs from when we were young, like What if God was one of us and that Vanessa Williams song where the sun goes around the moon. They make me feel uncomfortable and weird and like I might freak out if I think about them too much. Like... how the fuck did those songs happen? Why am I forced to house them somewhere in my brain?

4) What book have you read that has changed you?
All of them.

5) What song gets you up and motivated?

This one. Iggy is the King of Rock and Roll.

6) If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
Oh gosh, maybe I'd choose somewhere new! Somewhere warm and lonely and untouched.

7) What is your favourite app on your phone? If no smart phone, favourite website.
I only have a regular phone. I don't know what my favorite website is. Pinterest is the most fun.

8) Name a guilty pleasure.
 Middle Grade Novels.

9) Which famous person would you like to meet?
I don't know. I mean, I think that meeting famous people is a weird idea. What would I say to them? They have no idea who I am and I know all this stuff about them. It makes me feel kind of creepy to think about actually speaking to a famous person I admire. Can we change the question to: Which famous person do you wish knew you and wanted to be around you? My answer is, an alive Elliott Smith.

10) Describe your hugging style in three words.
Reserved for daughters. And husband. Everybody else gets a stiff, awkward embrace from me. I'm not a hugger.

#4 - My Questions for You:

1. What do you regret?
2. Are you happy, most of the time?
3. Tell me about one of your quirks.
4. Top 5 musicians you want to bone.
5. Do you feel like a lot of people know you?
6. What are you reading? Is it good?
7. What did you go to school for?  Was it a good choice?
8. Are you in a lot of debt?
9. Where do you go on vacation?
10. What makes you mad?

I tag... everybody.   Leave me a link to your post with a picture, 10 facts and your answers to my questions in the comments so I can check you out.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I want to sleep with you

We went away this weekend and had so much fun. I even crossed number thirty-three off of my life list.

33. Get brave enough to go down a really big water slide

I forgot our camera.

We didn't sleep while we were there, not really. Our room had two double beds. I shared mine with Scouty and Kurt slept with Louise. Both of them flip flopped and kick boxed in their sleep. Scouty had a few coughing fits. Louise woke up at 3:30am insisting she was hungry. Daddy and I sighed and laughed into the space between the beds.

I wish I had more time to be with my husband.

Louise wouldn't sleep last night, either, when we got home. She said something that sounded like "camera," over and over again, in between blood curdling screams. I scoured her room in the dark on my hands and knees looking for a toy that might resemble or had a name that sounded like a camera. I handed her a set of plastic keys, a tractor, a toy mirror. Each item made her scream louder and with more vigor.

"I don't know what you want, Louise," I told her.

She pleaded with me holding up one adorable little finger, "Camera. Camera."

"Do you want sissie's camera?" I tried.

She screamed.

"Close your eyes," I told her. "It's time to sleep."

She threw the toy mirror at me, hitting me in the face. I felt like I wanted to scream. I wanted to yell at her, "Be quiet! I'm tired and I'm sick and you need to sleep!"

I didn't, though. I walked out into the hallway, holding back tears of frustration. I walked to the bathroom and BANG BANG BANGED on the door frame with my palm. This is it, I thought. This is the part of the story where I can't do it anymore. This is where I fall apart.

Scouty emerged from her room with her hair all messy like a pixie from a story book. She walked into Louise's room and asked in a loud voice, "What do you want?"

Louisey held up her finger and screamed, "Camera!"

Scouty said, "She's saying she wants one more."

"One more what?" I asked.

"One more book," Scouty said.

There was a tiny cardboard book in the hallway. Louise and I were reading it before bed. I picked up the book and held it out to her. "Do you want this book?" She grasped it in her chubby little fist and closed her eyes. Everything was quiet.

Sometimes I am so tired, I feel like I could sleep for a year. I think about sleep with a guilty covetousness. I have sticky, lurid daydreams about how I'd sleep if I had the chance, about how the sheets would feel on my skin. I feel like the only person in the world who carries this tiredness, like I am alone on an island of exhaustion. Nobody knows me because I am made up mostly of this tiredness with no boundaries. A thing so vast and incomplete, it's impossible to comprehend. I am the most exhausted person on the earth, that's how I feel.

But then I think about you, about all the mommies in the world, how we must all feel that way. I want to wrap you up in my arms, mommies. I want to rest my head against your breast, to feel your collective warmth. I want to make a soft place to lie down and sleep with you.


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.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

To sleep in beds

We're sleeping overnight at a hotel tomorrow.  Nobody is really feeling well.  The babies on are antibiotics and Kurt is falling asleep on the floor, playing with Scouty.

We got into a discussion.

"I need for you to give me a chance to help you, when you need it," I said. 

I said this in so many ways, until I was crying.

Scouty raised her hand.  She was sitting on the sidelines, watching us talk.  She said, "He just wants to go places with us and do exciting things, even when he doesn't feel good."

I'm not sure her point was relevant, but it sure was adorable.

I think that sometimes my husband believes I don't care for him, because I'm stretched too thin.  Because I peek into the windows of bars when I walk by with the stroller.  Because I envy the man slumped in the corner asleep at one in the afternoon.  He thinks I don't love him, anymore, because I can't come up with a way.

I ask him how he's feeling, and he's always feeling fine.
I ask him if he wants to take the evening and go read the paper and get coffee and a piece of pie.  He never wants to.
He never wants anything, not even on his birthday.

He is, possibly, the best person who has ever lived.
It makes me crazy.

I come up with a thousand ways every day to need him.  He never needs anything from me.

I buy him candy because I like candy.  We watch tv in the evenings.  I ask him if he needs anything.  He has everything he wants.  I don't have a way in and I'm too tired to excavate. 

I'm not like I was before.  I can't fall apart over our love.  I left a diaper on the floor and I need to bathe.  I can't belong to our love, anymore.  There is a little girl sitting next to me drawing pictures while I write this.  She's asking me questions.  I can't fall apart.

"I love you no matter what," I said to him and I meant it.

We're going on a trip tomorrow, somewhere we can swim and sleep in beds that we'll never sleep in again.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Once you pop - Writing Challenge Piece

Neon Cross II
photo by oliver thompson

It didn’t start out this way.  I originally created a profile on because I thought I wanted a nice girl.

I was engaged to be married a little over a year ago.  Her name was Margot and she was studying to be an undertaker.  She had a two room apartment in Brooklyn, and one of those rooms was a stand up shower with a toilet at one end.  She owned nothing.  We would sit in her apartment with the windows open in the summer time, our skin sticking to the faux leather of her ripped up old sofa.  We found it in an alley and dragged it up four flights of stairs.  She didn’t even have books.

It was so hot, we almost always took our clothes off.  She knew everything about maneuvering herself in damp, small places.

When she left me a few weeks before our wedding, I went on a sort of a rampage.  I went out to bars, did a bunch of coke and scoured my surroundings for somebody to victimize.  I wanted to humiliate someone, a girl.  

Unfortunately, everyone I met was doing a good job of humiliating themselves, so I went to church.

The first one I chose was full of old people wearing colorful scarves on their heads and shoes that clicked on the linoleum.  I quickly discovered that most churches were this way; populated entirely with young families buttoned too tightly into Sunday clothes and old women wearing cataract shades.  I thought that maybe God was dead, but then I discovered the revival.

I was overdressed, stepping into the Wednesday night church service in a little basement space near the ocean.  I was visiting Atlantic City for the weekend with a friend.  “Hold on,” I said.  “I want to go there.  Give me your jacket.”  I was wearing a tie.

My first virgin was easy.  She took two nights and an upgrade to a hotel room with a hot tub and a view of the boardwalk.  I bought a study bible and highlighted passages with her in the morning.  I got good at picking them out, girls with thick thighs and the first hint of wrinkles around their eyes.  Girls who sang and prayed with their hands raised to the sky.

I didn’t lie to them.  I didn’t give them a fake name or phone number.  If they wanted to know where I lived, I showed them.  All of them, and I mean every single one, showed up wanting answers.  This was the part I liked.  The fumbling, rigid sex was nothing compared to the passion of our second meeting.

“Hi,” they would all start tenatively, pleading with their eyes.  “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you…”

“I know,” I said.  I knew everything.  You might think I was destroying something by using them this way, that I was crushing their innocence.  The truth is, what I destroyed was an illusion.  None of them were innocent once I undid their top buttons.
“I’m so sorry,” I told them.  “I only pretended to believe in God so that you would sleep with me.”

“What about love?” an almost-pretty blonde asked.  She had a gap between her teeth that I’d dug around in with the tip of my tongue.
“I believe in love, most of all,” I said.  “Do you know where my love is?”

She didn’t respond.

“She’s fucking some douche with a collection of animal skulls.” 

It was true.  She was painting her eyes black in a mirror, somewhere.  She was awkwardly entering a room and the air was leaving while everybody stared for a minute at her protruding collarbone and the place where her head was shaved on one side.  She was buckled into a pair of shoes with a bow.  She was removing the fluid from under somebody’s skin with a metal instrument.  She was jacking up the end of an embalming table so all the blood could drain through a hole.  I believed in love, most of all.  

Once I started taking virgins, though, I felt better.  I felt like the sun came up sometimes, when they watched me while I undressed.   When they finished the dregs at the bottom of their wine glasses.  When they cried on my answering machine, when they asked me why.  I knew why.  I knew everything, all of a sudden, and everything was nothing.


For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Carrie challenged me with "Once you pop, you can't stop" and I challenged Kurt with "She said, 'Opening my marriage saved my life.'"