Monday, April 30, 2012

Our dream vacation... sort of.

Remember my 500 Dollar Month Project, where I spent only that much money for a whole entire month so that we could put a down payment down on a vacation to The Outer Banks?

Well... we made it, baby.  We're leaving in just a few weeks for a whole week of beautiful, empty beaches, quaint nautical island life and picnics in the sand.

Except that Daddy isn't coming with us.

The part I didn't expect when booking this vacation a year ago is that Kurt might have a new job at a fancy pantsy university and he's only been there for one month and there is NO WAY he could even think about asking for a week off.

So, we're going on a girl's trip.  13 hours in a car and no daddy.  A week sleeping in an unfamiliar place with no daddy.

This isn't how I planned things.  This was supposed to be our very first family vacation that we paid for and took all on our own.  It was supposed to be Kurt's chance to learn what is so awesome about these particular beaches.  We were supposed to sit around a fire next to the ocean and hold hands and marvel over how perfect everything is.

So, that's all I'm going to say about that.  While it won't be just like I planned, I'm not going to be somebody who complains about going to the beach for a week.  It will even be sort of exciting, to do this without Kurt's help.  We'll be a family of explorer women, like Amelia Earhart, except without going mysteriously missing, and possibly with or without aviator sunglasses and those earflap hats.

I have to admit, though, that I'm already planning to cry as we pull away in the rental car, watching Kurt's waving silhouette getting smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror.  A trip to the beach without Daddy?  Sometimes it's hard loving somebody as much as we love Daddy.  Sometimes it's hard to get through the whole day without seeing him.  Sometimes we drive into the city and wait outside of his work just so that we can drive him home instead of waiting for him to get there.

He's just that good.

But, a little, empty island and a balcony overlooking the ocean is pretty good, too.  I'm going to do my best to just let this be happy.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The last 25mg

Sometimes I feel something like hope.  It feels easy.

I've been doing a lot of reading about how we're able to heal ourselves.  We just have to give our bodies a chance.

I grew the world's most perfect people inside of me.  I was a safe place for a broken, beautiful boy.  I had a fever for hours that kept me from crawling across the floor to my phone.  I've put myself through a lot, but I've done amazing things, too.

I don't think about it a lot, but sometimes it's like I can picture all the hurt from all of my life, all balled up together and sticky like tar.  It's jammed under my ribcage, right next to my heart and there are days where I feel like I can't breathe.  I wake up in the morning and I'm humming with a negative current.  I'm tingling all over like I've been bitten by ants.  I think that if I could let go of that black mass of memories in my chest, I'd be able to heal.

I've talked about the fact that I take Zoloft.  I asked for it when I was pregnant with Louise, because I had postpartum anxiety after I gave birth to Scouty.  I started taking it the day after Louise was born.  It helped immensely, and about a year later, I didn't want to take it anymore.

It took me a long time to get up the courage to try, though.  I started at 100mg and I'm down to 25mg, now.  I'm weirdly ready to stop taking it altogether.  I just need to give my body a fighting chance.

I've slowly discovered over the years that the way I feel is very related to the way I eat.  If I eat gross things like sugar, (which I'm a fiend for), salt, white flour, lots of dairy and things like birthday cake and potato chips and the "bread" from Subway and pizza and cheese cubes... well, these spring birthdays are killing me.  When I eat all of those kinds of things, I feel irritable, anxious and exhausted.

When I eat mostly raw foods and none of that other crap, I feel awesome.

Raw food doesn't have to be like... all health food person-y.  It just means eating a lot of uncooked fruits and veggies.  You don't have to make a carob sweetened sprouted grain ball dessert, if you don't want to.  (But, please understand that I'm exactly the cheesy sort of person who wants to.  Kurt gets home from work and I say, "Here, I made cookies!"  And he says, "Are these not actually cookies but really a blended up mixture of dates and nuts that you soaked in water overnight and added to a pureed vegetable and formed into the shape of cookies?"  And I hang my head and say, "Yes.  Yes, they are.")

Anyway, I'm going to go on a short-ish juice fast, I think.  I might choose to eat raw fruits and veggies on the fast, depending on how grumpy I feel, in which case it would be more like a detox diet.  (I hate the phrase detox diet.  Only the douchiest douches in the world talk about "toxins" and "detoxifying.")  But, my plan is that this... ahem, diet or whatever you want to call it, will the be the thing I need to let go of the last 25mg of a medication I kind of desperately don't want to be taking, anymore.

I'm not trying to tell you that I've gone anti-meds, or that I'm ruling out the possibility that I might need to take them again at some point in my life, but I really feel it, in the heart of me, that I'm ready to be off of them, and just see what it feels like to be on my own, with this.

I can do it.  Wish me luck.


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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two girls - Writing Challenge Piece

"He wants to see them," Caleb told me after school.

"No!" I protested.  "You weren't supposed to tell anybody."

"They're probably his sisters," he said.


I told him about the twins in confidence.  I found them in the neglected patch of Mrs. Cellar's rose garden, out behind the gazebo.

"I don't want anyone to know I was back there," I said, blushing.

"Who cares?" Caleb said.  "Andy isn't going to tell his mom.  Even if he does--"

He didn't have to finish his sentence.  Andy's mom was weird.  She hired me to prune her flowers, and sometimes I caught her peeking at me through the slit in the curtains.

"Do you think they're hers?" he asked.

"I don't know," I said.  "Probably."

Mrs. Cellar used to be normal, but then Andy's sister drowned.  It was the Fourth of July; in the lake at Yellow Creek State Park.  Everybody crowded around as the lifeguard dragged her body to shore. Andy's mom just crouched in the sand, howling like a wounded coyote.

Soon after that, she started doing strange things, like rooting around in people's garbage at night and showing up at the grocery store with her shirt unbuttoned and opened.

"What were you doing there so late?" Caleb asked.

I didn't want to tell him.  Flynn Collins and I were... well, we wanted someplace quiet to talk.  I climbed out of my window and he smelled really good.  I was only going to let him kiss me.  The only place I could think of was the gazebo.

When we got there, though, pulling up in the alley with our headlights off, we saw Mrs. Cellar, in a white nightgown, kind of muttering to herself and digging.

"How long do you think they've been buried?" Caleb asked.

I didn't know.  They were sort of skeletal, with shrunken brown skin like a dried banana peel, but their clothes were okay.  They were barely even dirty; matching pink dresses with lace.  Two girls.  They were holding hands.


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

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I am not one of those people who could work past an affair...

It's Kurt's birthday today.

I liked your comments about relationships yesterday.  As far as I'm concerned, I'm part of a perfect relationship.

Before you roll your eyes or barf, or something, I don't feel that way because everything about our relationship is perfect.

There are plenty of times that I get snippy with him and sometimes he gets mad at me and stops talking and turns into an emotional version of one of those little potato bugs, or whatever they are.  ...Wait, I just mean that he shuts up and rolls into a protective ball, emotionally when he's mad.  Not that he suddenly somehow becomes an overly emotional insect.

There are plenty of times that I criticize his driving.  One time, we were scream-whispering swear words at each other at 6:30 in the morning because I told him to take our safer car out into the snow and he wanted to leave me with it.  Another time, I was pregnant with Scouty and trying to sleep, and he got into bed and started singing an annoying song with his nose pressed against mine and I called him a NOT SO NICE name that I won't repeat because you'll only be convinced that we don't have a perfect relationship at all.

Sometimes we have those talks where, the kids are in bed and all he wanted was to watch some television, but I've suddenly decided that watching television every night means that we've lost our spark.  I start to wonder when was the last time we felt passionately about each other, and then I get all into pouring out all of my feeling, and end up crying because being a mom is hard and nobody appreciates me and my own husband doesn't even know how I feel and I want to run away to the coast.

What?  You don't have those talks?  I bet you do, you're just not saying.

The thing about the best partnerships is that, they aren't perfect.  They're not an easy, passive thing.  Things happen that you wouldn't want your friends and family seeing.

None of that matters, though.

My relationship is perfect because my husband and I are both people who know the sorts of things we wouldn't be able to live with, and we don't live with them.  We know and understand each other's fragile spots.  We know that certain behaviors couldn't be tolerated.

I think there was a Dear Sugar about this.  It's impossible to say, "A perfect relationship means no fighting, no lying, no cheating, no whatever," because everybody has different things they can and can't live with.

It IS totally okay to say, "A perfect relationship revolves around respect, honesty and love."

There are people who can work past infidelity, who can grow up together and end up at a place just as perfect as anybody else.  It's none of our business what anybody else is doing.

I am not one of those people who could work past an affair.  I had practice with being cheated on, as a younger person.  I'm not somebody who could live with my husband flirting with other women.  I'm not really even somebody who could accept having a partner who doesn't actively and assertively praise and revere me, often and abundantly.

But, I understand that different people have different ways they choose to live.

I grew up being disrespected by a man.  As a teenager and a young adult, I acted out all the ways my father didn't love me with boys.  Boys lied to me and yelled at me and cheated on me and threatened to leave me.  They fucked with me and made me cry.  Sometimes they shoved me around.  I knew it wasn't right, but only sort of.  I didn't really get that there was another way to be with somebody.  I thought that behind closed doors, everybody was blowing everything up.

It probably took me a long time to understand that, in a grown up relationship, you don't ever have to guess whether your partner loves you.  You don't have to guess whether or not your partner is trustworthy.  In a real, grown up relationship, your partner cares about your happiness more than they care about their own.  It's okay, when you're a grown up in a relationship, because you can also trust that the person you're putting ahead of yourself isn't ever going to hurt you in a way that you can't handle.

It just isn't going to happen.

My husband might roll his eyes at me or snap at me or grind his teeth when I'm talking, but he'll never do one of the things that I couldn't live with.

It's up to you, as a person, to understand yourself well enough to know what you can't live with, and then not to live with it.  Any of it.  When you try to go on living with something that you can't abide, you're half-dead.  You're half-given over to anger and anxiety and dissonance that dissolves you.  Living with an unlivable thing is like being doused in acid.  Someday there won't be anything left but a bloody mess.

It's true that what you can live with might not all be up to you, even.  Maybe you can't abide the thought of an affair because you're insecure and have trust issues.  Own it.  That's you, right?  If you can't abide the thought of an affair, don't.  An affair is one of your unlivable things, okay?  That doesn't mean it has to be one of those things for everybody.  That doesn't mean you have the right to judge somebody else's relationship, just because it's something YOU couldn't live with without getting boiled alive and being left half dead.  There are lots of reasons you are who you are.  Be you, even if you're insecure and have daddy issues and let everybody else be who they are.

You get to decide what's perfect for you, and they get to decide what's perfect for them.  And also... there are lots of people who lie about having something perfect so they look better than they are.  Don't be one of those people.

There are lots of people in the world living with things I couldn't live with. Maybe they used to feel like somebody who couldn't live with these things, but then learned that they actually could.

I wouldn't ever learn that I could.
I wouldn't even try.
I don't feel the need to change that about myself.

But, you know... maybe there are some men who have an inescapable ego based in years of societal and emotional trauma who feel like they couldn't live with a wife like me.  Maybe my fits and depressive episodes, how I have to be alone so much of the time, how I swear and decide I can't have sex for months at a time because I'm just too used up and exhausted and disgusted with humanity.  Maybe there are men who, based on their personal history, would find me totally unlivable.  I don't really give a fuck, because my husband isn't one of those men.


So, I got off track.  It's my husband's birthday and I'm feeling self-satisfied because I took these BEAUTIFUL pictures of myself and wrapped them up in brown paper and gave them to him, knowing that they would make him feel lucky to be a part of our marriage.  I didn't do it because I wanted to be like... racy.  I just wanted to remind him that I've still got it in me, and that I'm still his girl.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You are my sunshine.

We were driving to a play date this morning, listening to Johnny Cash singing You Are My Sunshine.  All three of us were singing along.  Scouty, with her beautiful little songbird voice, breaking my heart from the back seat.  Every time the song ended, Louisey would say, "Sunshine, my only sunshine," over and over until I started it over again.

I asked Scouty to sing just like Johnny Cash, and said I would harmonize with her. It didn't work out.  As soon as I started singing, I only messed her up and both girls would just kind of tunelessly sing the ends of the all the lines.  It was beautiful.

I told her, "Scouty, you have a voice just as sweet as June Carter."

It occurred to me that I've always wanted to have a pair of little girls to teach Johnny Cash songs to.  To teach about Johnny and June.

"Who is June Carter?" she asked.

"She was Johnny Cash's wife," I said.  "And they were so in love."

"Why aren't they in love anymore?" she asked.

I thought about it.  The topic of death has been coming a lot, recently.  I'm trying not to be weird about it.  I'm trying not to make it something scary for them.  I don't believe it's something scary, but I don't know how much to say. 

"They're dead, baby," I said.  "But, I guess they do still love each other."

The thing about Johnny and June is that everything was wrong sometimes, and they're even dead, but they're everything I want my girls to know about romance. 

See, I asked Kurt to marry me about one hundred times while we were dating, and he kept saying no.  He didn't want to get married.  He was too busy being a cowboy.

I always told him, "You will marry me, someday."  I knew everything when I was young.

Even when I was pregnant and he was holding a bottle of liquor in a paper bag and I called him a drunk.  Even when he was mopping up my amniotic fluid from the hospital floor.  Even the other night when I told him I feel like I'm suffocating in this life, sometimes.  Always, we've been a romance for the books.


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

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Goldilocks - Writing Challenge Piece

I ran.  Branches cut my arms and face.  I tipped over a root and sprawled onto the dirt and leaves, my skirts tangled around me in a bunch.  The inside of my thighs were sticky and warm with blood.  Although I checked over my shoulder every few moments, no one came for me.  Eventually, the lights from the Inn faded away and I was wrapped up in darkness and fear.  A fox called in the distance, startling me so badly I cried aloud.

There had been men before, and I had received money from them.  I met them behind Dew Drop Inn, sometimes.  Silently lifting my dress and bracing myself against the cool, smooth stone of the building.  I did those things, but I didn't deserve what had happened that night. I was hurt inside.  They had abused me.  The worst part was that everyone saw.  My father's accountant was there, and the magistrate.

I passed under the tavern window on my way to borrow eggs from Mrs. McCloed.  "I know it's late," my mother said, coughing pink spittle into the handkerchief that was always stuffed into her sleeve.  "But I won't be able to finish your father's supper without them."

My father was ill, too.  Neither one of them could work.  I pretended to get money by hemming dresses and embroidering at the seamstress' shop.

A booming male voice called to me as I passed the Inn.  I placed the egg basket carefully on the stoop, pulled my cape tighter around my shoulders, raised my hood to cover my long, golden hair, and walked inside.

"Over here, girl," he said, waving to me.  I recognized him as a fur trader from across the river.  He spent a few nights here every few months, doing trade in the pelts of the fox and coyotes that lived in the surrounding forest.  I'd even accompanied him to his room in the attic of the Inn, before.  He was enormous in stature, but he'd been mild in bed, being careful not to rip the lace at my throat.


Scrambling on my hands and knees to the foot of a giant old oak, I wretched a few times into the grass and a fresh stream of blood erupted from the heart of me, soaking the back of my skirts.  I don't remember anything else of that night.

Opening my eyes, it was morning, and there was someone standing over me.  I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound came forth.  I weakly lifted myself onto my elbows and made to beg this person not to hurt me, but he turned and the light shined in his face.  I saw instantly that he was not someone I needed to fear.


We fell in love quickly.  I needed him to love me.  He lived in a little house set apart from the home of his parents.  They owned a beautiful piece of land with a brook.  He was seventeen years old and tall with broad shoulders.  He had eyes like coal.  I could see myself in them.

His mother was wary of me and his father was away, hunting.  The boy carried me to their doorstep, covered in mud and dried smears of blood.  As he moved to set me down at his mother's feet, I panicked at the thought of being away from him.  I needed his warmth and the solidity of his body.  I clutched madly at his neck, whimpering through swollen lips.  He stood up tall again, holding me tight against his chest, and I pressed my face to his throat.

"Where did she come from?" his mother asked.

"She's hurt," he told her.  "She needs water and something to eat."

"Where?" she demanded.

He carried me past her and set me gently on a delicate purple upholstered chair in front of the hearth.  I couldn't smile or move my mouth to thank him.  My face was swollen and painful.  "I love you," I whispered in my heart.  "I love you.  I love you."  He knelt next to me and spooned porridge into my mouth.

"Who does she belong to?" his mother asked.  Her voice was tinged with fear.  I was covered in a lot of blood.  They had broken something inside of me.

"She can't stay in the house, Barett," she told the boy.

"She'll stay with me," he said.

"Your father won't allow this," she said.

"I'll talk to him when he comes home," he answered, dabbing at my cracked lips with a napkin.  "She needs help."

I need you, I thought.

Everyone was dying all around me.  He was the only thing I could see.  He saved me and fed me and turned the blankets of his be down for me, sleeping on the stone floor.  Every day I could move a little more.  I spoke to him, told him my name was Katrina.

"I'll call you Golden Locks," he said, running his rough fingertips through my hair.

"You'll think I'm mad," I said.  I'd only known him for a week.  "I shouldn't say the thing I've been dying to say."

"I love you," he said.

He had washed the blood from my thighs and the pink parts of me, so torn and misused.  He had clothed me in his night things.

"Stay with me," he said.

I would.  I had nowhere else to be.


Then, his father returned.  I knew him.  I knew his hands, their strength on my wrists.  He recognized me, too.  Throwing down an armload of dangling fox pelts, he stared through me so that the meat of my lungs and heart hurt.  He knew me, he said.  I had come to him in the town.

"Let her stay, woman," he said to his wife, "and you'll be sharing your bed with more than me."


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This week's Trifextra Challenge was to rewrite the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  I had to rush through it.  I had an awesome idea, but then didn't have enough time.  Oh well.  I hope you liked it.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

That's not to say I'm not an interesting person...

I feel like, when you're going through something, you can't see it well enough to write about it.

That's why I'm always writing about being young and troubled.  If I feel like writing something, I dig into my vault of embarrassing memories.

I can write about my kids because I'm outside of them and I can see them.

I find it hard to write about my life and who I am, right now, in the moment.  Sometimes I get concerned that I'm giving the impression on my blog that I'm some kind of exciting deviant with emotional problems.

I used to be that.  I mean, I still have emotional problems, but everybody does.  Now, they're called stress and PMS and being a mommy of two small children.  The truth is that I'm really kind of well off, in my current position.  (Not monetarily, heh.  I wish.)

I don't stay up too late.  I don't drink, ever.  I go out for lunch with my sister or Kurt or a friend about once every three or four months, and that's the extent of my social life.  I don't associate with anybody who gets in trouble.  Nobody is ever mad at me, except for like... when I ask Kurt too many times, "What's wrong?" when he's tired and just got home from work and then gave the kids a bath.

I never do anything illegal.  I never do anything to bother anybody.  I've even gotten a handle on the way I used to yell at people out of my window in traffic.

That's not to say that I'm not an interesting person.  I'm fine.  You find me interesting.  It's just that my life is not even a tiny bit as colorful as my memories are.  I write about junk and sunrises and dysfunctional relationships and extreme religion and doing it with boys, (mostly my husband, but still...) and I wonder if some of you who are reading me regularly... if you don't think I'm something different than what I am, in the moment.

I don't know.

I just finished this book, and it was amazing.  People do things and then they grow up and understand them.  I was a young person who couldn't manage my life.  I thought I was pleasure seeking and irresponsible.  I was actually desperate.  I was actually confused and in a lot of pain.  It's so easy to see that, now.  I mean, it's so clear that only a total idiot wouldn't recognize it, but I couldn't see it while it was happening.  I thought I was just born bad.

My dad told me that.  Some people are just born bad, and I was one of them.

Sometimes even now, I'll look at my childhood and look around at my brothers and sister and all the troubles we've had with living, and I'll wonder if everything that happened was really real?  There were times when we were happy.  We were just kids and we felt normal.  Everything was wrong, but we thought everything was wrong for everybody.  We thought that every kid grew up scared and lonely.

You can't see things while they're happening, but I've learned enough to know there are clues.

If I'm unhappy, that's a clue that something's going on that I'm not seeing.
If I'm anxious, that's a clue.
If I'm feeling exhausted.
Or if I'm happy and motivated and full of energy.

I'm trying to be better at reading all the clues.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Baby B!




Can I tell you proudly that my little baby girl is FIVE YEARS OLD TODAY?

Well, she is.

And she's amazing.











You made the world a beautiful place, little one.  I love you.  Happy birthday.



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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My lunch dates



These are my lunch dates, every single day, you guys.

When I think about that, I feel like a fucking superhero.

My girls are beautiful people.  They love each other.  They're kind and considerate of one another's feelings.  Louisey wants to be Scouty, and Scout always makes sure that she's the right kind of person to want to be.

They accomplish impossible things.  It's no easy feat being kind and considerate with your little sister when she's just ripped a toy out of your hands.  It's not, but Scouty does it.

It's also not easy being smaller and slower and more clumsy than your idol, but Louisey does it.  She falls and she drop things and she makes mistakes, and she never stops smiling.  She never stops trying.

They are impossible.  They've made my life an impossible thing.  I get to wake up every morning to them, even with everything I've done in my life.  I get to hold them while they're sleeping.  I get to hear all of their jokes, witness every moment of sisterhood between them.

There are plenty of things about keeping a house that bother me.  There are plenty of things about being at home that make me crazy.  I'm more than these messes and these meals and this bathtub that needs scrubbing.

There is nothing about being their mother that I don't love and covet and roll around in and cover with sprinkles and eat for breakfast.

Someone once told me that I shouldn't say they saved me.  I think that's bullshit.

Do you know why we have each other?  Do you know why I get to spend my life with two beautiful, mild, thoughtful, creative, smart and impossible people?  It's because I deserve them.  It doesn't matter what I thought I was, before.  Since the moment I found out my biggest girl was a tiny seed in my belly, I have walked on narrow light beams.  I've been clean and soft and feathery. 

I had a lot to work through.  You know, don't you?  I talk about it all the time.  My godly childhood, how my father didn't love me, how he made my mother choose between me and the word of God.  As a teenager, I acted out, dressed in black, started learning how not to care that I was smart and brilliant.  By the time I was halfway through my twenties, I was the sort of person you cross the street to avoid.

The thing about it all is that I never lied and cheated.  I never stole anything from anybody.  I never did those things, even though I lived in that world.  I wasn't welcome at anybody's dinner table, but I wasn't good at being an asshole, either.  All I wanted was to be left alone, so that I could die.  I wasn't a piece of shit... I just didn't exist.

Before I met Kurt, before I knew my girls, nobody had ever given me a reason to be real.  I never loved anything so much that I understood that it mattered whether I lived or died.

Something is... it mattered the whole time.  Just because I didn't know it, doesn't mean it wasn't true.

My girls didn't save me in the sense that I didn't matter, before, and now I do.  They saved me in the sense that they filled me up with a love so bright and simple and true, everything I'd been and done were finally illuminated in a way that I couldn't mistake myself, anymore.  I couldn't believe I was nothing, anymore.  Not now that I a hot and pure love inside of me that could move mountains.

I always had the ability to move them, I just couldn't see it.  From the moment was I born, people were covering my eyes and stopping up my mouth.  They were putting me under cover, hobbling me, demanding that I fall short of the glory of god.  The man was the head of the household, and I was so mad at men.  Women were subservient to men, and I hated women.  Children didn't matter.  We were mouthpieces, things to lay hands on.  I was me, that whole time.  I was a person capable of staggering things.  I was beautiful and important and good, I just couldn't see.

Sometimes my girls are so cute, I feel like I might not be able able to stand it.  It's too much.  I'm only a human being, with a human heart.  There is no way I can bear witness to so much goodness and live to tell the tale.

Do you have any idea how grateful I am for all of this?

Monday, April 16, 2012

I punched somebody, once.

I hit someone in the face, once, and it felt good.

When I was young, I lived with my anger all over me, rubbed into my skin like sand.

I didn't know it was possible for me.  I didn't understand that sometimes people don't live and then they live.  The thing that was wrong, it flipped a switch and turned me off.  I hid in the weeds, swatting at gnats and working a can opener, sitting on a railroad tie.  I thought I was born to be something else.  To be a creature with stones where my eyes should be.

I thought I wasn't meant to be a person.  That's why none of this mattered.  The girls who showed up under my porch light in the city, telling me they knew my boyfriend.  The needle in my arm.  The way my knuckles connected with his lips; they smeared sideways across porcelain.  I cocked my arm and hit him again in the meat of his cheek.  It felt like the only right thing I'd ever done.  I wanted to do it some more.

He had stomped on my foot on the brake and snatched my keys away, throwing them in somebody's yard.  Someday that didn't have anything to do with this.  Somebody who didn't deserve to have the likes of me, wasted and boiling over, crawling around on my ripped skirts in their grass.

I believed that mostly, people should be left alone.  They hated me and they didn't know me.  It didn't matter.  I didn't want them to know me.

I got scared, sometimes, though.  Getting high all the time by myself, I started to feel like the edges of the world were burnt and peeling away.  I got stuck in my dreams at night.  I woke up to find that I'd sewn a dress or written a poem in my sleep.  The lines all crooked and fraying.

I rented movies and watched them eight or nine times.  I leaned against the cold wall of my apartment's living room, smoking cigarettes and staring at a flickering blue screen.  There were sounds all around me.  A couple lived above me.  They fucked so loud in the evenings, I felt like I was a part of something.  The boy who lived next to me was in the army.  He was going away.  I didn't have anything.  I swore I would never have anything again.


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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Apology - Writing Challenge Piece

Dear Bird,

I don't care that you're dead.  I told you a thousand times; that shit will kill you.

The way mom found you, though... naked with your arm gone black.

I'm sorry for that.
 
a dead bird in macro mode
photo by irrational_cat



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This weekend's Trifextra Challenge was to write a 33 word letter of apology.


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Friday, April 13, 2012

Catching Up

I need to clean my house and bake a seven layer rainbow cake for Scouty's FIFTH BIRTHDAY!

We toured her new elementary school last night and it was so weird to see all the little lockers and desks and the nurse's office with those padded beds.  The gym and cafeteria smelled like the gym and cafeteria in my memory and I just can't believe we're doing this.

She's my little baby.  I tell her she can't crawl into bed with me in the middle of the night because she's too big, but I secretly love it.  I love snuggling up next to her and smelling her hair and waking up to her beautiful, sleepy eyed smile.

I have no idea if I'm capable of making a seven layer cake, but I will try, for her.

1 year old.

A few days shy of 5, and a big sister.

 *****


Lately, things have been crazy, for me.  At the end of every day, I feel like I'm only barely dragging my sorry old butt up the stairs to collapse after reading exactly three sentences of my book.

I've been busy with my etsy shop, (a surprising number of people in this world have need for a black and white striped skirt).  I've been trying some new health things, which I want to talk about, but not right now.  It's weird talking about my health because there's something that some people in my life don't know.  It's never come up and they're not the sort of people I call and say, "Hey, I just got back from the health department."  But, I've been researching and trying new things and I think I feel kind of good.

Stick around.  I want to talk about it over the next week.

I've also been writing a health column for Voxxi.  I feel so lucky to have this job.  I get to use all of my obsessive knowledge about food and pesticides and exercise and mental health and diseases, and I get paid to write about it.  (I told Kurt that my neurotic health anxieties would pay off, someday.)  If you see that I've posted a link to one of my Voxxi stories, do me a favor and take a moment to read and leave a comment?  I want to keep this job for a long time, so make me look good!

*****

Louisey has this big, toothy smile where her giant cheeks stick out so far and her enormous brown eyes sparkle and I feel like maybe my heart might just burst.  While we're talking about time going by too fast, you guys, oh my gosh.  She is SO BIG.




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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Job situation update

Much like when women don't want to announce their pregnancies until they're out of the first trimester, (no, I'm not pregnant), we were pretty sure Kurt got his awesome new job, but I didn't want to say anything until it was official.

So, it's official!

He gets to buckle his briefcase purse thing and walk down the hill to the train and ride it for free into the city where he'll spend the day in a beautiful and historic building at the one of the most prestigious universities in the country. From now on, that's how he'll spend his life.

Not to mention that our girls can go to college for free, if they get good enough grades to get in.

Not to mention it's a little bit more money for our family.

Not to mention that his place of business will never be in trouble, business will never be ailing.  He will get raises every year, like a person should.

Not to mention that my husband never has to account for another piece of plywood, ever again.

I've only spoken to him on the phone, I haven't seen him yet.. but I can guarantee that he's going to be smiling a prrrretty cute and proud of himself smile when he walks in the door.

I asked what we should do to celebrate and he said, "Make my favorite dinner and get a delicious desert and everybody should be chanting 'Dad-dy!  Dad-dy!'" 

It's true that his favorite dinner is veggie chicken nuggets and tater tots.  It's his special day, so we'll let this fact slide.


So, after months of stressing out about our job and money and stability situation, it's all over.  I can stop getting sick every two weeks, now, okay immune system?  If you want to shower Kurt with congratulations, you can find him here.

Goooooooooooooo Daddy!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Everything was beautiful - Writing Challenge Piece

"You're trying to make it sound like some sort of scandal," I said.

"A girl is dead!" my mother wailed.

I didn't tell her that I would be dead, too, by morning.

"You'll be charged with killing her," she said.  Her hands were shaking.  I watched them clattering against the steering wheel, her bones pronounced and too close to the surface of her skin.  "You could go to jail for the rest of your life!"  Her voice had been steadily rising in pitch since she picked me up at the county jail this morning.  "Oh god, Billy!" she shrieked.

Other than a painful throbbing behind my eyes, I felt okay; serene, even. We'd talked about this many times.

"If anything happens to you, I'll follow you," I told my girl, gripping the end of my belt in my teeth.  It was wrapped around her upper arm, cutting deeply into her soft white flesh.  She was soft all over, like a dream.  She ran her fingers through my hair.  A little rivulet of red danced in the chamber for her.

"I know," she said.

She didn't tell me, no.  She didn't force platitudes about how I should go on living without her.  We were destined for this.

I remember the first time we planned to die together.  We were kids, skipping high school and sharing a bottle of eight dollar vodka next to the creek that ran behind our trailer park.

She told me everything, about her mother and the men; how she slept with a night light.  "Sometimes I think I might just lie down in the reservoir, only I'm so afraid to be alone under all that water," she said.

That's how I knew I loved her.

My mother pulled over to the side of the road so that she could hold her head in her hands and sob.  I watched a cat rooting around in the garbage that littered the curb on the last day of my life.  Everything was beautiful. 


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I'm getting back into the Trifecta Writing Challenge, this week.  The deal is that you have between 33 and 333 words to write a story using the 3rd definition of a given word.  They pick a winner every Friday and Monday.  This week's word was scandal.


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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Invader in a land...

This head cold is making me sensitive.  Of course, it's easter and I'm not sure it's possible not to feel like laughing and crying when you've got these two big girls hugging each other and wearing matching pink, checkered dresses.

I went to the store to buy easter presents last night and I started to pull out in front of somebody in the parking lot and they beeped at me.  There was a big man in the passenger seat, just inches away from me.  I rolled down my window and he looked really mad and rolled his down, too.

I didn't care about anything.  I felt so empty and nothing towards his angry face peering out of his girlfriend's SUV.  She was driving.  She had blond hair and was wearing sunglasses.  The man stammered over his words.

I said, "I'm sorry."

Maybe I even was sorry.  I didn't feel all worked up, like people do when they almost cause a car accident.  "Oh yeah, well, watch what you're doing," he spit at me.  I felt like he was more mad than that, but he couldn't think of what to say.

"I'm sorry," I said again.  Neither one of us drove away for a minute.

"Well, okay," he said, with his big, red face.  He was blonde, too.  I wondered if they had kids.  I couldn't see into their back windows.  My girls weren't with me.  There were two empty car seats in the back.  I wondered, if they had kids, if their family was happy.

All of a sudden, it was like I was wondering about everybody I saw.  Mostly, people look so ugly to me and strange, like I couldn't dream of knowing them.  I watched a show about people who met in a dance club and went back to a hotel to have sex, and all I could think about was how people's bodies get sweaty and they smell.  How people take off their shoes.  It all seemed impossibly terrible.  Sometimes being in public is like that, for me.

I feel like an invader in a land of insects.

Sometimes I won't remember to feel that way, at first and I'll be thinking about something funny I read and I'll smile to myself.  Then I'll look into the face of the person walking past me, and it's like their ugliness bores a hole into my heart.  They're so unhappy and radiating meanness, like I've gotten lost in the hills of Appalachia.  Like I'm the only real human being, my family and I are beautiful and clean and everyone else is a mutant.

So, after I almost pulled out in front of a car, last night, I saw a Little Person walking from his car to the store, and the crowds of mutants were parting around him, turning their heads to stare at him.  A woman elbowed another woman in the ribs to make sure she had seen.  He walks around in the world all the time, like this, with everybody boring holes into his heart.

I felt so proud of him.  I felt like I might die because the world is so ugly and lonely.  I thought about my girls at home, all speckled cheeks and big smiles, fat little arms and they smell like candy all the time.  I thought about how happy I am that they're healthy, how they don't have walk around in the world with everybody singling them out and hurting them.

People will hurt them, though, and I will want to die then, too.

I started bawling and I wanted to go back in time a few minutes to when the man in the window was trying to yell at me, but couldn't come up with the words.  I wanted to give him another chance.  I didn't care about his anger.  I wanted to see what he might come up with, if he'd had a moment to think.  Maybe he wouldn't have been so upset after a moment, or maybe he would have come up with something disarming.  I wondered if maybe they were still talking about me.  I wondered when the last time was that I went out into the world alone and accidentally encountered something beautiful.

If I'm not careful, I start to think that everybody hates me, just by taking one look at me.  Just like the way everybody loves my daughters, just by looking at them.  I hate it and I wish I could disappear.

I've started leaving love letters in library books.  I write a quick note about lust and beauty and slip it between the pages of a hardback from the Popular Picks rack.  Sometimes I don't know what to do.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Northern Lights

I have wild, terribly beautiful dreams about places that confuse me.  I feel sometimes like there must be a way to find the things I dream.  There are boys in my dreams and I am young.  My husband is there, and he's surrounded by light.  I know that he will love me, some day, but I don't tell him.  I sit with him and smile, knowing that he'll see me, one day.

Things go wrong.  I lose my sight, often, but my husband is there and I remember that we'll get older, we'll have babies and everything will be okay.  Sometimes I am driving a car, and I can't see.  I only feel scared for a moment, careening wildly around mountain passes, winding roads with a precipice and a railing.  Then I remember our babies, the days they were born, how there was a light hanging above me that clanged into place.

When things go wrong in my nightmares, I know that we love one another and that we'll be together, as soon as I can get myself out of this mess.  I don't have to be afraid of anything, because I have the thing that people fear losing, that people fear being without.

I dream about a trail that hovers above the rivers, about a city covered in lights.  On days like today, where the sun is shining and I'm feeling like I might just float away, I think that I should go ride my bike on that trail that lets me look down over the water.  The one that follows the curve of the hillside.  That one that isn't quite real.  But, it must be.  In some city, somewhere, there must be a pathway that crosses itself, back and forth, leading into a place where twinkling lights are reflected on the moving surface of a river.

That's how I feel when I dream things.  That they must be possible, somewhere.

*

I have a memory from my childhood that's taken on an abstract, sort of arcane, dreamlike space in my mind.

The aurora borealis was supposed to be visible in our part of the world.  We were kids and we went out to eat at a restaurant.  It was dark and we weren't used to being out this late.  The Northern Lights were a faraway sort of promise, one that didn't make sense.  I was worried about losing a library book.  It was due in the morning and I couldn't find it.  My mom kept asking me what was wrong, and I kept telling her, nothing.

We got into our car, the four of us buckled into the back seat and my father drove us into the country.  Down long gravel roads and through the forest, we emerged next to a wide open field.  There were stars everywhere.  It was chilly.  My parents blew in their cupped hands for warmth.  We stood in the grass, staring at the sky.


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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Born Wicked - Blogher Book Review

Born Wicked (Book 1 of the Cahill Witch Chronicles) by Jessica Spotswood is a wonderful book.  I have no qualifiers this time about how I didn't want to like the book, but did, in spite of myself.  Or about how I tried to give it a chance but couldn't.  I didn't have to suspend my tastes and standards to enjoy it.  It was just plain readable.

Born Wicked is a young adult novel about a witch growing up in a fictionalized 1890s, where magic is forbidden and the world is controlled by a mean group of religious jerks called The Brothers.  Cate and her sisters have extraordinary powers, but they mustn't use them, for fear of being locked away in a madhouse, sent to toil on a prison ship or killed.

So, I do occasionally read YA novels for the magic (or the dystopia), but really, if I'm going to be honest with you, I read them for the juicy high school romances. Born Wicked doesn't disappoint, in this arena.  It is packed full of cute boys barely containing their puritanical sensibilities, and kisses with tingling limbs.  Oh who will the pretty but humble young protagonist choose to wed?  It is totally juicy.

I will absolutely and definitely be reading the other two books in the trilogy.  As a matter of fact, I feel kind of grumpy about the fact that I can't read them RIGHT NOW.

Want to know what the other Blogher Bloggers thought?  Click here to find out.



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disclosure: I was compensated for my opinion, and everything I said is true.


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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Postpartum OCD and Anxiety

I wrote about a piece about Postpartum OCD and Anxiety for Voxxi, so I've been thinking a lot about that time of my life.  I felt like I wouldn't make it.  Every day was so scary and isolating.

I've read about how terrifying thoughts and fears about a new baby are pretty much universal, that 80-100% of new mothers picture dropping their baby at some point.  It's a totally natural response to the sudden responsibility of being a mother.  You're responsible for a fragile little life and there are about a million things in the world that could be dangerous.  Everybody feels the pressure of keeping a baby safe and happy and alive.  That makes sense.  

In some people, that natural response goes haywire.

In people like me, who were given to moods, to begin with.  People like me, who had a lot of troubles with living.  In some people, those thoughts about dropping the baby turned into a paralyzing fear of the stairs.

I couldn't start the car without a graphic image of an accident and my baby being trapped and hurt stopping me in my tracks.  I couldn't bathe her without picturing how she might slip out of my grasp in the soapy water.  Taking a walk was scary because the stroller could get away from me.  Feeding her was scary because what if her food was contaminated?  Sleeping was impossible because, what about SIDS?

Looking back at it all now, it seems almost silly.  Of course my baby was safe and happy.  She was the most loved thing in the history of all the world.  There was no way in hell that I would let anything happen to her, but I didn't know to trust myself.  I had no idea that I was enough.

My anxiety was out of control.  I had panic attacks every day.  They mostly happened when I was at home, alone, in the middle of nowhere.  A tiny apartment in the woods and Kurt left at 5am.  He didn't get home until seven.  I avoided going home.  I held my baby while she napped in the silence of my mom's living room.  I got coffee and aimlessly wandered the aisles of the grocery store.  We sat in the grass in the summertime.  We did everything we could keep my mindset from collapsing.  I couldn't bear the low ceilings and worn linoleum.  I couldn't bear the world.  My daughter was the first beautiful thing.  She was the first person who ever needed me to be okay and I was letting her down.

I was too scared to call my doctor.  I had no idea that what I was experiencing was something that thousands and thousands of women are going through every day.  The only things I'd been warned about were feelings of sadness and excessive crying.  I wasn't sad.  I didn't cry.  I was losing my mind.  There was no way I was going to pick up the phone and say,

"You know how everybody in the world thinks I'm a fuckup and they're all waiting for me not to be good enough to be a mommy?  Well, I keep obsessing about dropping my baby, about her falling out of a window, rolling into traffic in her stroller.  I can't sleep because I think she'll be kidnapped or that she'll suffocate because I let her use a blanket.  I've been washing my hands until they bleed.  I've been avoiding my own home because I believe it causes me to have heart attacks and I'm pretty sure I'm totally insane... thus living up to everybody's expectations that I couldn't do this.  That this was a mistake."

If I had any idea that I wasn't crazy and that everything that was wrong with me were symptoms of a common disorder and that it was easily treated and that nobody would have decided I was incapable of caring for my baby... things might have been different.  I might have saved myself from a year of total terror and panic.  My daughter's first year of life might have been a happy time.

By the time I was pregnant with my second child, I made sure to tell my doctor ahead of time that I had PPD last time and that I wanted medication.  I didn't beat myself up about not being able to breastfeed.  I didn't believe that I would be a stronger person and a better mommy if I just toughed it out.  I didn't feel ashamed of the prospect of taking an anti-depressant.  I still take Zoloft; I don't care who knows.  Isn't that so much better than feeling like a freak of nature?

 I want to grab the cheeks of every new mama in my palms and look them in the eye.  I want to say to them, "How are you really feeling?"

Because being a new mommy is scary.  You feel like, if you're not doing wonderfully, you must be doing something wrong.  If you're not finding it totally easy and natural, you must not be a good mommy. 

The truth is that nobody finds it easy.  It's easy to love our babies, but the rest of it is pure hell.  I want to hold all the new mommies of the world against my expensive, specialty store, padded post baby chest and let them feel how real and solid and warm I am.  How I was shaky and doomed and sleepless, how I wasn't going to make it, before... and here I am.  I am so big I blot out the sun.  I am so strong, I carry the world over my head.  I have intentions like ancient oaks.  I bleed the blood of every woman who has ever lived.  Not only did I make it to the other side, I beat the shit out my fears and strung their carcasses up in the trees.  I am not afraid of anything, anymore, because inside of me is a fear of everything and still, I lived.

I wasn't even kind of crazy.  I see that now.  I wish I knew it then.



Monday, April 2, 2012

Plastic eggs and everything is new.

I wouldn't be kidding if I said that everything is new.

I never cared much for Easter.  Plastic eggs and pastels, the rebirth of Jesus and sunrise services.  I didn't get it.

Now, we're the first in line to help wake up the peach blossoms and hold the baby bunnies.

Easter means that the farms are open.  There are warm glowing green houses full of sunlight and flowers.  My kale is in the ground.  I'm already battling caterpillars.  It's a fight I never win.

My girls are all grown up.  We're getting ready for the beach and things that are faraway but inside of me, keeping me up at night and needling me, ready to be here.

Louisey got a little haircut and she looks like a two year old.  There aren't any babies in our house.  Not anymore.

We're planning Scouty's birthday party.  She wanted a party about rainbows, this year.  We bought her a new loft bed with a slide.  I almost can't contain it.  I want to give it to her now.

Basically, we're just in love with spring.