Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How are we not our bodies?

I got a letter in the mail from Stephen Elliott, one of my life's big crushes and favorite writers of all time.  He talks a lot about how we're attracted to certain things and can't help it.  How, it's possible that he finds women more interesting when they're thin and have a certain hip to waist ratio.  He asked in the letter, "How are we not our bodies?"

Well, we ARE our bodies and they are important.  They're just not important in determining our worth.  There are plenty of amazing, beautiful people who have bodies that don't function normally or who don't look average.

Our bodies are important just like where we live and what we can afford, is important.  Some of us were born into wealthy families and have a leg up, in life.  That doesn't make them better.  Some people might argue that it makes them lucky, but I don't know.  Being born privileged (or naturally thin and pretty) just makes your experience different.  People treat you differently, give you different things.  You don't have to work for certain things, you feel pressured to work for other things.  Your concept of "problems" and what they mean is different from somebody who is born in a trailer park.

So, what if you were born into a poor or average family?  Don't you have the same chance to work hard, get good grades in school, go to college, become aware of your talents and abilities and make something of yourself that everybody else does?  This is America, right?  Despite the fact that we know that children from poor families in economically depressed areas come into their fifth year with a HUGE gap in learning and language that they may never recover from... THIS IS AMERICA.  If you're poor, it's because you didn't do what you needed to do to get rich and that makes you stupid.

What if you just never decided that being rich was more important than being other things?  What if you pursued something other than money?

Likewise, if you're fat, it's your fault, so you're less worthy than thin people, right?  If you're fat, you should have known better, growing up.  You should have studied society, as a young person, and learned how to mold your body into a more successful shape.  You should have just worked harder and smarter so that you could be thin and then everybody would like you.  This is America, isn't it? Everybody has the right, and the means to be thin.

Bodies mean a lot, just like what you can afford means a lot.

Do you want disclosure about me and my body?

I was born in a trailer park and I grew up very poor in a rural, coal mining town in Western Pennsylvania.  I was raised on a diet of processed meat, sugar, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, saturated and trans fat and canned vegetables.  Although I slimmed down as a teen and twenty-something because of a horrible, crippling sense of insecurity and with the aid of a diet that consisted of like... one slice of bread, toasted and topped with nothing and a bunch of diet soda, I have always, since childhood, been chubbier than average.

Now that I am a grown up and I make my own choices and am responsible for the choices of my children,, I am a vegetarian with heavy vegan leanings.  I eat organic or local or homegrown produce, and lots of it.  Every day.  I juice.  I make green smoothies.  I cook and bake everything from scratch, even our bread.  I absolutely NEVER consume anything hydrogenated.  I don't eat processed food.  I don't eat MSG or chemically produced food substances.  I use real maple syrup and buy cage free, anti-biotic free eggs from chickens with a vegetarian diet.  I don't go down the middle aisles at the grocery store.  I don't even shop at the regular grocery store.  I don't consume artificial sweeteners.  I haven't had a soda in years.  I haven't eaten something from a fast food restaurant in probably about ten years, or longer.  I'm one of those people.

I also exercise 5-7 times per week.  My exercise is moderate.  Between my pregnancies, my exercise was strenuous and I tore a tendon in my foot and now I have a chronic problem with it.  I walk or lightly jog, ride my bike, the recumbent bike or the elliptical for 30 minutes pretty much every day.  I also (try to stick with) weight bearing exercise like free weights, planks, pushups, squats and lunges.

I do not have any dangerous metabolic disorders.  Even when I was OH MY GOD A FAT PREGNANT LADY, my blood pressure and blood sugar were stable and normal.

The thing is, if I was thin, you would admire me for all the hard work I do to stay healthy.  Since I'm fat, you're a little iffy about whether I'm healthy at all.  Since I'm fat, you're thinking that maybe a local, organic, vegetarian diet heavy in fresh produce isn't healthy at all.  Maybe diet soda and prepackaged frozen Lean Cuisine meals are the better thing to do.  They have less calories.  We're trying to be HEALTHY, right?  HEALTH is all that matters, right, and how many times have we been told the FAT equals UNHEALTHY?  We don't want to go against the word of like... The Biggest Loser and Dr. Oz, do we?  THIS IS AMERICA, ISN'T IT?

The fact is that big companies, including the government, make money off of our fear of fat.  They make money by saying to us over and over again, "Aren't fat people stupid and lazy?  Shouldn't they just work harder?  Let's all make fun of them and devalue them as people.  They probably eat BUTTER for Christ's sake.  You wouldn't eat butter, would you?  You're a good person.  You drink Diet Coke.  You bought the Insanity Workout DVD and get up at 6am every day to do it.  You're happy because you're superior."

You are happy, right?

Another fact is that we ARE our bodies.  We all ingest and digest and bleed and breathe and we feel pain and make love and carry babies and birth them.  We walk and run and hike and swim and experience the world with our wonderful bodies.  They are a part of who we are, because they have a lot to do with all of the wonderful things we do and experience, in the world.  They inform our life experiences by bringing with them certain privileges and challenges.We are happier when we listen to them, pay attention to their signals and treat them with love and respect.  We are happier when we take care of ourselves, our bodies included.

It doesn't make me happy to like... drill myself every morning with flash cards to try to get better at math.  It doesn't make me happy to berate myself every time I get stressed out and snap at my husband, even though I know that being a mild, kind person is better than being an intense, explosive person.  It doesn't make me happy to give up all the things I love like passion and language and nature and gardening so that I can spend more time drinking wine with my girlfriends and shoe shopping, even though I know I'd be better received if I just had interests that were more expected.  Those things are all a part of me, my interests and leanings and abilities.

I could have worked harder in math class and become a mathematician, but it wasn't my thing, and that makes sense, right?  Nobody cares that I never was good at Calculus. We are who we are.  We all have different passions and interests and abilities.  We all have different personalities and problems.  We all have things we excel at, and things we never got good at, for our own, varied and valid reasons.  We all have different bodies.  Inside of those different bodies of all different sizes, we all have varying levels of health and happiness.  We're also all confused about what it means to be a singular person who doesn't always fit in, maybe.  Who isn't always popular, well received or understood.

Trying to mold yourself into a popular, well received thing isn't how we find happiness.  It isn't how we live a good life.  It isn't how we teach our children to love themselves.  It simply isn't how we love ourselves.  It isn't how we become a good person.

We should work hard at everything we want to be, in life.  I want to be a good mom, a writer, a healthy person, a good partner, knowledgeable, fun, interesting, vibrant, experienced and a lot of other things.  Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to be thin, but I don't really care that much.  In the list of all the things I want to be, happy trumps thin.  Healthy trumps thin.  Centered, good, fair, interesting, passionate and alive all trump thin.  I don't have anything against thin, just like I don't have anything against mathematicians.

I make no concessions that we are not our bodies.  Our bodies are just as integral a part of us as our personalities. If you love me, I expect you to love my personality, just as it is, because it's who I am.  The same goes for my body, too.

We are our bodies, because they move us through the world and help us to experience our lives.  And being our bodies is not the same thing as being the way we look.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Getting bigger to get beautiful...

I've come to understand that the way I feel about myself is very much influenced by how I'm spending my time.  I've been on a mission lately to position myself in the world so that I'm constantly being exposed to positive messages about my worth, as a person.

If I'm feeling obsessed with my appearance, if I'm worried about not being good enough, it means that I'm not living my life in the way I was meant to.  If I'm trying to change myself so that I'll be more palatable to other people, based on standards that I didn't invent, I am not living my best life.

The thing is... I do have a holy life.  We all do.  There is a way I can exist in the world that creates MORE love and MORE beauty and MORE peace.  Dieting and scrutinizing myself in the mirror doesn't make any positive difference to anybody.  All I can accomplish being obsessed with the way I look is to make myself feel like shit.

I'm not shit, though.  I'm amazing.

It's hard, though, because I can't tell anybody else how to love themselves.

For me, loving myself has something to do with growing.

Going to the beach with my girls was more than a vacation.  It forced them to try something new.  They slept in new beds and woke up under a new sun.  They rode a boat into the middle of the ocean.  The ground shifted under their feet.  After a year of waking up, having breakfast, watching tv, getting ready for school, reading a story, taking a bath and going to bed... it shook them up to take a walk and gather sea shells before breakfast.

They came home bigger than they were, before.

That, for me, is the key to loving myself.  It's about getting bigger, every day.  It's about not endeavoring to be smaller or prettier or more fashionable.  It's about not loving my possessions more than my experiences.  It's about growing things, food and flowers and senses of wonder.  I want to grow so big, I can't be stopped.  I want to grow so solid and real, I could hold my own in a forest of thousand year old trees.

Instead of counting my calories, I dig in the dirt.  I go out into the yard with a knife and bring in an armload of kale for my morning juice.  I write myself into a trance, where nothing is real and tiny sentences put the entire world in a shadow. I fall asleep at night next to my baby girl after spending all day in the sun, teaching her how to swim.  I don't lie awake anymore, worrying about how I'll look in my friend's wedding pictures.  I don't wake up and prepare myself for a day of not eating, or of failing to not eat.  I wake up and we have big bowls of strawberries on the front porch while Louise swings and swings and swings.

I make things.  I cut and I sew and I rip with my teeth.  Instead of trying to be beautiful, I make beauty out of the air.  I feel beautiful with a measuring tape around my neck and pins clenched in my teeth.  I feel beautiful when I create something that didn't exist before.

Kind of like with my children.  I made them.  I'm not being arrogant.  I see myself in them all the time.  When Scouty thanks Louise before bed by saying, "Thank you for eating pretzels with me and being my friend," I see that my love for them and for their daddy made their love for one another.  When Louise points her little finger and tells me, "No whining!"... I see how she's only expressing what I've shown her how to express.  Someday they'll take everything they've learned and turn it into their own lives, separate from me, but I'll always be a part of them.  A big part of them.  And I don't want them to remember a single time that I called myself FAT or UGLY or NO GOOD.

I don't want them to diet and to lie awake at night, hungry and scared.  Not ever.

I want them to wander the world, work their perfect muscles, fill their perfect lungs with air.  I want them to be able to travel over the earth, strong and healthy and in love.  I want them to live lives that are holy and full of beauty.  Not the made up sort of beauty that makes people feel bad about themselves, but the dirty kind where you fall asleep at night because you hiked so deep into the woods that you weren't a person anymore.  You went so far and everything was so green and there was mud and there were bugs and the green smell of being alive was everywhere.  There was a hillside of honeysuckles that made you cry, they were so unexpected and smelled so wonderful.  You found a patch of wild berries that turned your fingertips purple.

 I buy clothes that fit me just so.  I do.  I dress up for dates and cut my hair and lots of times I look fucking hot.  I never said I wasn't attractive.  I just said that I'm not that sort of girl.

Here's to getting bigger, any way we can, and leaving the size of our bodies out of it.  Here's to wandering far and wide, to gardens and greens and sweat and health and holiness.  Here's to dissolving obsession, to seeing the world, to making beauty with our guts and teeth and hands.  Here's to being human, to growing and changing taking care of ourselves.  Here's to beauty, because we know what beauty really is, and it doesn't have anything to do with getting smaller.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Outer Banks, NC

So, we're home.

I'm not happy about it.

Spending a week in a sleepy fishing village in an ocean front house is kind of WAY BETTER than sitting in front of a fan on Memorial Day weekend in Pittsburgh, the smell of grilled hotdogs and car fumes permeating everything.

I'm already getting ready to book our house for next year.

There was a campground in Hatteras, NC with these tiny, colorful cottages.  I went out of my way to drive past them every day, because I mean.  LOOK AT THEM.  Cutest things ever.

 Heading to the Farmer's Market in the town of Manteo on Roanoke Island.  It's every Saturday in the spring, summer and fall next to the Maritime Museum.  We bought beets and peas, strawberries, spring mix, tomatoes, garlic and herbs.  I wore my flashy dress that Scouty and Louise bought me for Mother's Day.

  Scouty looking out over the water at the Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke.  It was so quiet and still, there.  Do you know about The Lost Colony?  We were right next door in the gardens that were built to entertain Queen Elizabeth.  It was so quiet and beautifully spooky.

 One of the fishing piers in Hatteras.  At 4 o'clock every day, you can go down to the piers and watch the fishing boats come in, and see what they caught.  They bring in some pretty amazing things.

 My beach baby having one of the "free-est days of her life."

Uh, so you KNOW I rock a fat girl bathing suit.  I can't even explain to you how freeing it was to waltz around with no clothes on after a gray Pittsburgh winter.

 Louisey, getting her sea legs.

 Boarding the Miss Hatteras for our fabulous, sunset Dolphin Cruise that made me so sick I was hanging off the back of the boat.  
The boat ride was kind of amazing, though.  It took me at least an hour to turn green.  We were on the top deck, sailing through choppy water.  People were screaming, water was splashing everywhere.  It was better than being on a roller coaster.  We didn't see any dolphins, but it didn't matter.  It was so thrilling, until I was scrambling around in the cabin, looking for a bathroom so that I didn't have to barf in front of the tan young boat mates.  I opened a door that I thought might lead to one, and it was a closet.  Oars and nets came tumbling out, burying me in fishing gear.

 The Flying Melon Cafe on Ocracoke Island is wonderful.  We had sweet potato pancakes and beet salad for brunch, and it was AMAZING.  I think maybe it was the cutest restaurant I've ever been to.

 Mommy and girls on the beautiful, secluded beaches on Ocracoke Island.  I am in love with the Ocracoke shore.  The beach is shallow and perfect for tiny swimmers who aren't so sure they love the "big guy" waves.  Also, it is a protected stretch of land, so there aren't any houses or businesses as far as the eye can see.  It's pretty much paradise.
(By the way, mamas, get out there this summer, put on your bathing suits and quit obsessing about your bodies!  I promise you that we love you and find you SO beautiful, just the way you are, right now.)

 The first day we arrived, Louise was so freaked out by the sand that she just SCREAMED like she was being tortured.  By the end of the week, she was a little water baby.

I didn't want to come back.  The fact that we left Kurt at home was the only thing stopping me from applying for a job at Midvale's Restaraunt when I found a Help Wanted ad at the post office.  I reached out to rip it from the cork board, let my fingers hover over the curling corner of the paper.  I could waitress and we could live in one of the little colorful cottages at the camp ground.  We could learn to love sea food and buy dramamine by the case and become hearty fisherwomen.  I mean it.  I was going to do it; run away to the ocean and you would have never heard my name again.  

There's only one thing we love more than island life, and that's daddy.  He was even worth a thirteen hour drive with a baby who wouldn't sleep and kept crying for bananas, even though she doesn't like bananas, has NEVER liked bananas and wouldn't have eaten a banana in a million years.  OH.  MY.  GOD.

But we made it.  You win, Pittsburgh.  We'll stay.  But, don't blame us for being grumpy for a while.

PS.  I also can't promise that this is the last you'll see of our vacation pictures.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wild - Writing Challenge Piece

The boy was wild.  Everybody could see it.

Grammy told me that boys like him were trouble.  He was arrested for spray painting the word fascists across the doors of the jailhouse.  He was also detained once for going after his daddy's truck with a baseball bat.

His daddy was a mean drunk, though.  I didn't ask what he'd done to deserve a broken windshield and a couple of dents in his hood.  I could imagine though, that it was something not very nice.

I turned twelve this summer, and he was seventeen.  I almost fell to my death the first time I found him, hiding in my tree house.  He was slumped up against the wall with a bloody nose and a cigarette dangling out of his mouth.  The sight of him startled me, but I didn't scream or fall off the ladder like another sort of girl might have.  I almost did.

The curtains my Grammy sewed for the little windows were fluttering in a sudden, strong breeze.  It gusted between us for a minute like a ghost leaving earth.  Any amount of prickliness I felt towards him evaporated as soon as I got a good look at him.  He was cradling his arm against his body and there were streaks of dirt on his cheeks.  I could tell he'd been crying.

I didn't ask him what he was doing here.  I had a daddy who drank, too, and I'd been hiding away in this tree house since I was a baby.  It was hidden away from people who didn't want to look at you anyway.  Nobody wanted to see your black eye or broken arm.  You might as well make it easy on them and find a place where you were invisible.  That's what I thought.

I never thought I could want somebody else near to me, but I didn't mind.  He treated me like I was only a kid, but I could tell that he was a kid, too.


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 wild.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ocracoke Island

We had sort of a magical day today on Ocracoke Island.  It was sunny and everything was wide open and there were little pools of water collecting everywhere.

Everyone on the island rides a bike.  We ate lunch on a screened in porch and the girls got ice cream that melted much too fast.  We watched the boats come into to the marina.

I have a lot of ideas when I'm here.  About how I need to do some research about how to become a fisherman.

Around 4 o'clock people gather on the docks and men who smell like seaweed and beer hangovers cover the wood with ice and toss giant fish that skid and slide at your feet.  I want to be one of them.  I want to wake up in the morning and head out so far into the ocean that no one could ever find me.  I want to be a scoundrel.

We hiked through sand dunes to a protected stretch of beach.  Looking down the shore, there were no buildings.  The sand was spotted sparsely with the shadows of people.  Playing in the water, Scouty said to me, "I just feel so free.  This is the free-est day of my life!"

Louisey, the beach explorer


Sunday, May 20, 2012

On vacation...

I'm at the beach.

I had a vague idea that I was going to post a picture or two every day of the beautiful time we are having.  I forgot my camera cord, though, so you'll have to settle for mental pictures.  Or maybe a picture from my phone.

There's nobody here, on the island.  It's too early in the year for lines at the rental office and rainbow beach umbrellas.  Everywhere we go, it's like we belong here.  It's kind of like we're the luckiest people in the world.

Except that Louisey FREAKS OUT any time she touches the sand.  When I set her down, she screams like she's in terrible pain and says, "There's something on my stinky! There's something on my stinky!"

She's even coming around, though.  I even convinced her to play in the waves, this afternoon.

I always hated the feeling of sand when I was a kid, too.  I sort of still do.  It's part of the reason I've always been a swimmer.  Jumping into the ocean and staying there all day helped to keep the sand off of me.

Also, I have a huge and inexplicable need to swim in the sea.  I can't help myself.

It was sixty five degrees this morning.  The girls and I were wearing pants and sweaters, and we all ended up waist deep in the water and soaked straight through, our fingernails turning blue and teeth chattering.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Grown up taking a trip

I woke up at five-thirty this morning and was immediately overcome by a parading army of thoughts about packing and shopping for food and locating the cooler in the basement and washing a load of towels and whether or not I have enough clean underwear for our trip.

We're leaving tomorrow morning as early as I can muster the courage to leave my warm blankets, and my husband behind.

I keep waiting for the real grown up to show up and take over.

The same thing happened at Scouty's first birthday party.  I was used to these kinds of affairs.  The aunts were bring pasta and fruit salad.  There was a cake from the grocery store and the weather was sunny.  It was my first time being in charge of something like this, though, and it felt decidedly like a passage into adulthood.

Between greeting everybody and hanging streamers and keeping track of my one year old baby, I barely had a moment to sit down and eat the sushi I was up all night preparing, and I remember thinking, "Baby birthday parties are kind of hard.  Isn't a real grown up going to take over so that I can sit down and eat and talk to my friends?"

Remember how your first baby's first year of life was filled with moments like that?  My first wait a minute, I'm not a real adult and I have no idea what I'm doing moment was when I was in labor and it was time to push.  My sister was holding one of my legs and Kurt was holding the other and I was being swept away by an overwhelming urge and pain that was making my eyes roll back in my head.  I looked up at these two concerned faces, staring down into my bloated red face and shooting anxious glances at one another and thought, "Woah, hold the phone.  Who the fuck put you two in charge of this?"

A few months earlier we'd been drinking 40's in the back yard.  We were college kids who partied before class and spent the whole time either giggling or falling asleep across our desks, my note taking a waning pen mark that was a straight line right off the end of the page.  They were letting us have a baby?

I'm used to it now.  When my sister comes to visit, I can't stop picking up dishes and sweeping debris off the front walk.  She gets agitated watching me and says, "Why don't you sit down?  You're running around like a... crazy person."

Although, when she says, crazy person, I know she really means mom.  She means, We have watched our own mother and our GRANDMOTHER behaving like all our lives, and now you're acting just the same way.  I know that this is what she means and that she's right, but there's nothing I can do to stop it.  The grown up switch got flipped in me a long time ago, and there's no sitting on the porch relaxing when there are like... pine needles everywhere and somebody might need something more to drink.

With vacations, though, I still feel like I should be gearing up to fall asleep and complain in the back seat while my mom and dad argue in the front.  I feel like somebody else should packing clothing and diapers and snacks.  I keep looking around for the real grown ups, but there aren't any.  There probably won't ever be any real ones around here again.  There will only be me, and it might never totally sink in that I'm really the one in charge.  I'm making the memories now, instead of having them.

Anyway, it's six-thirty now and I've got a to do list like a mother fucker.  It seems scary, but the reality is that we'll be on the beach tomorrow for dinner.  We'll be meandering through the farmer's market at Manteo on Saturday morning.  We'll have gingerbread for breakfast and spend all week in the sand.  I don't need to be a grown up for that stuff.  Not really.

Sailboats, Manteo Harbor
Manteo Harbor by bumeister1


I'm not sure about my internet status for the upcoming week.  I may or may not be here, so go ahead and check in.  If I'm stranded without a signal, I'll see you on the 28th!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Bees and slugs and things that matter

I am hiding in a yellow room where everything is jaundiced.  The people who owned our house before us had a thing for bold floral patterns and wallpaper stuck on with permanent cement.  It seems impossible to me that a person would make these decisions, these choices that cling no matter how we scrape.

There is a small fish pond in my memory, full of blue gills that were used to being fed by people.  I walked along its edge in a long, patchwork skirt.  I was pregnant and prone to daydreaming.  My husband was only a boy then.  He was my boyfriend and he wanted to make me happy.  We ate ice cream and spent the night in a motel under a curtain of pine boughs.  Horses whinnied outside of the window.

The fish were small and happy and interested in the world above them.  They were mesmerized by the swish of my hems.  I walked the whole way around the water and they swam alongside me, watching me as I hummed a song under my breath.  I contemplated twirling around like a child, but Kurt was so solid and pragmatic.  He has never tolerated silly things like twirling.

Once, at the zoo, I was convinced I could make the sea lions do an underwater flip by holding up my finger and spinning it around in the air.  I felt something like we were all from a circus under the sea.  A bee flew at my face and I blew on it.  I'd heard a mother instructing her child in this way a few moments before.  "If you see a bee, just blow on it."  I stored this information away, as I've always been someone who is thrown into a panic by bees.  I couldn't be interrupted, waiting for the next sea lion to appear in the blue glass. 

A bee attacked our picnic once and in trying to drown it by throwing my glass of water and pelting its horrible bee body, I drenched poor Kurt and his sandwich.  I couldn't see past the bee, and my poor, sweet accountant husband paid the price.

Soon after Scouty was born, a bee flew up my skirt and hitched a ride into town.  I dropped the baby off at my mom's and went to class in the English department, which took hours of stealthiness on the part of the bee.  I sat in the back corner of a room of Leonard Hall, in a rickety wooden desk covered in graffiti carvings and put my feet up on the desk in front of me.  Going to school was such a marvelous reprieve from the rigors of being a new parent, I felt as though I deserved both desks for different parts of my body.  I also didn't want anybody sitting near me, as I had no energy for being nice and making conversation.  I was there simply to forget about the sink full of bottles at home, and to show off how much I knew about everything.

We were discussing Faulkner's As I Lay Dying.  I totally got this book and felt like something of a genius about it.  That, and there was something crawling up my inner thigh.

You can imagine my conundrum.  Should I jump from my seat and start wildly lifting my skirts, brushing at the skin of my legs, exclaiming that I was infested by a bug?  I got up quietly and walked into the empty hallway and did just that.  A rogue bee from the nest in our gutter, he stung me on the thigh.

I had an allergic reaction to that sting, which was strange because I'd never been allergic to things before.  (My tongue also swelled up upon eating arugula, right after birthing Scouty, and I broke out in red spots all over my arms and legs when I sat in the grass.)  My leg swelled and the skin was so hot to the touch.  I went to the emergency room on homecoming night, which means that I waited in an orange plastic chair, surrounded by cases of alcohol poisoning and injuries brought on by being young and having a good time.  A nurse with a pretty smile gave me an injection of steroids in the butt.

I've been drowning slugs from my garden, plucking them from the leaves of lettuce and quietly muttering, "Go eff yourself, slug, or "See you in hell, bitch," and plunking their slimy bodies into a cup of yeast and sugar water.  They were supposed to be drawn to the water in the first place.  I check the half-buried cup every morning, finding it empty, except for the frothy, sweet smelling liquid.

I have a thing against bugs, most of the time.  And deer because they eat my tomato plants.  I call them terrible names and plot demented acts of vengeance against them, which is strange because all my life, they have been my favorite animal.  I don't know what to do about how I find them remarkably beautiful.

When I go for walks on rainy days, the path in the woods behind the municipal building is empty, and I always run into a family of them.  A massive buck and three lady deer, sometimes with their babies.  The buck isn't scared of me at all, and he snorts and pounds his front hoof on the grass at me.  "Go on, now," I say, like one of those gruff, sensitive rancher characters who drink in the evenings.  "Get on out of my way, you rascal," I say.

I've been scared back the other way more times than I care to recount.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day - A letter to my girls

Dear Girls,

I remember a lot about what it was like to not be a mom.  I was lonely and frozen.

When I was a kid, I felt like the world was really small, and that it wasn't a good place.  I thought that there were people who loved Jesus and they would go to heaven, and then there were other people who were doomed to be sad and broken.  They were doomed to look for happiness everywhere, but never find it.  I knew about these sad people because grown ups told me about them at church, how souls who didn't accept Jesus as their lord and savior would never really be full.  No matter what they did, or how much they had, there would always be something missing.

I thought that something must be true happiness.  I also knew about these sad people because I was one of them.

I did a lot of crazy things as a teenager and then a young adult.  I fought with boys, I wore too much eyeliner and boots from the army surplus store.  I stole from stores and sold my blood and lived in an alleyway behind a church in an old part of the city.  I let boys use me and hurt me.  I put a needle in my arm.  I hurt myself.

I didn't matter where I went or who I was pretending to be, I was still one of those lost souls.  The ones who would travel the tiny world and never find what they needed.  It didn't matter that I was naked across a bare mattress with scabs on my wrists and the shadow of a monster over my skin... I was still a little girl who never quite felt the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.  There was no god but I wanted Him.

When I became a mommy, I didn't find Jesus.  I found something better.  I found out that I was right.  There was no God, the world was a tiny place, we were all the same, and everything was beautiful and exactly as it should be.

My first baby girl, you scared me.  Badly.  It was the kind of fright that put electricity in my veins where there had only been slow sloughing poison.  I was full of sparks and tension, where I'd been melting before.  I was fully alive where I'd been wavering in the half light of life and something else.  Suicide, maybe.  I didn't know how to not be half dead, but I learned fast.

Those days were a mess of anxiety and holiness.  I didn't sleep.  I couldn't eat.  What would I do with you, my tiny, magnificent, only thing that mattered and had ever mattered in the history of all the world?  I held you so tight, I cried so hard.  I found danger everywhere.  I heard you crying in the shower.  The house was too small; I couldn't breathe.  Every time you blinked your eyes, I fell to my knees and worshiped your beauty.  Every time you yawned or god-forbid SMILED, I was filled up with the light and love of a thousand years of loneliness and turned into a beacon of rightness.

I wasn't dying anymore.  It was instantaneous.  You were holy water and I was emerging in a fine spray of diamonds and sputtering a psalm of thanks from my wet lips.  I cried so hard.  I was afraid of this love that threatened to break my bones and crack my skin.  It threatened to pour out all over everything and turn the world to ash.  There was no god.  I was alive and you could depend on me for everything you might ever need, every second of every minute of every day of the rest of your life.  There was no need for surrendering all.  There was no need for scrambling on my face.  I was your mother, and I was enough.

I was good enough.
I was enough.

I'd never been good before, because I didn't have a reason to be.  Nobody expected anything out of me, little dirt girl from a trailer park who wrote in the back of her bible.  She didn't have a daddy and her mama was tired and used up.  She was nothing, and I'd lived like nothing.  I let so many people use me and hurt me, and then I had you and it was all worth it.

I'd been waiting all my life to love you.

A scalpel in the hand of a disinterested doctor gave me Louise, little sister, tiny girl with a smile so big it blots out the sun.  I was gutted again for you, my baby number two.

Tiny thing, we slept together in a hospital bed and I felt like the world was gone.  Your big sister was waiting for you and my mom was with her, loving her and sitting in the front yard with a blow up pool in the sun.  You were born in the summer and everybody was away on vacation.  We didn't have any visitors, and I felt like we never would.  You were a tiny, beautiful gem and we would stay hidden away in this silent bliss like morphine forever.  Your sweet breath was a prayer in my ear.  You wore a soft white hat with a crocheted flower.  There was a red mark between your eyes.  I could read the meaning of life there; how beautiful you were!

The first time you went to visit your Grandma and Pappy, I pressed myself against the glass of the big picture window in the living room and cried until I gagged; I missed you so.  I didn't want to share you with the world.

You were so sleepy for the first few weeks of your life.  People started to fuss over you.  "That baby shouldn't be sleeping so much," my mom fretted.  I knew you, though.  You were simply taking your time coming back from the place you were before you were born.  You were living out the last tendrils of death and birth and when you were ready, you were going to explode to life.

And you did.

Both of you, my girls, cried and cried for hours, sometimes.  Scouty peered into your red face and said to me, "I don't love babies who cry."

Oh, my love.  I told her that we must always love babies because they're small and scared the world is too bright and cold.  "They are counting on us to love them all the time, ESPECIALLY when they cry."  So, Scouty was sorry and she cried and I held the both of you, warm and sticky and covered in tears, wailing right up to the empty throne in heaven. We rocked together on the carpet.  It was summertime and there was so much golden sunlight everywhere.  I held you and I cried, too and we were a family of girls with the same blood in our veins.  I was you and you were me and so I had to cry because you were crying.  We loved one another so much.

That's what happened to me when I became a mother.  I started bleeding somebody else's blood.  I started growing things out in the yard.  I taught myself how to change a tire and bandage a scraped knee.  I understood right and wrong.  I became something that nobody would push around, not ever again.  I had girls to raise and I'd be damned if they saw me walking around in the world like I didn't have power over the things that happened to me.  My babies scared me so badly, I had no choice but to become the bravest woman who has ever lived, and I did it all on my own.  You gave me the reason, girls, but I did it. For you.

I'd do anything for you.


New mommy and Scouty

Scouty, the baby of the world.

Baby Girl who melted the stone at the center of the world. Louise.


I love you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Stealing - Writing Challenge Piece

People were mystified by you.  I heard a girl call you an enigma.  You were hard to know, people said.

I didn't think so.

We were sixteen when we met.  I was sneaking away to smoke and almost stumbled over you.  Your body.  You were stretched out under an awning, sleeping. Your arms were folded under your head.  The length of your neck and the pebble of your exposed shoulder were so white, you glowed.  It was raining and April, the beginning of everything.

I was sent to Beckley Girls Academy for stealing.  A lot of times.  Nobody knew what you were in for, but I did.  You showed me.  Your tongue appeared between your painted red lips and I couldn't breathe; a slippery pink thing, like taffy from the seashore.

We sneaked around at night, padding on bare feet across the ornate rugs and down stone hallways.  Once, you silently opened Sister Amelia's bedroom door.  You wanted to watch her sleep.

Sister Amelia was small and pretty and young, at least by convent standards.  A shaft of moonlight illuminated her through a tiny window near the ceiling.  Little puffs of breath escaped her.  She was so plain and simple in the dark.  You reached for my hand.

That night was the first time I stole for you.  The rosary from her bedside table.  The beads clicked against one another in my hand as I lifted them, and a cold shock of terror ran through me. I felt a throbbing in my thighs, and deeper inside, too.  Something terrible and beautiful was blooming as I pressed the cold silver cross into your palm.

You wore it around your neck, later, while you held my wrists against my bunk mattress.  The other girls were snoring lightly and whimpering in their sleep.  Sister Amelia's cross fit neatly between my teeth; your breasts were full and soft and so white.  I'd never wanted a girl, before, but I understood you.  You were here for stealing, too.


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 enigma.

I eat beauty for breakfast

Follow me for a second.

Sometimes I feel like hating myself means that I'm too wrapped up in being an American.

When I feel like a big, bulky, ugly fat LOSER, I can always bring myself around by being smart and interested in the world around me.  I don't feel better about myself by like... going on a diet or cutting my hair or buying new clothing.  I don't change my self image by putting on makeup or wearing something cute.  I feel better about myself when I can manage to separate my worth from my appearance.

It's not even really that hard.

When I'm feeling uncomfortable with the way I look, I kind of project myself across the face of existence.  I picture women who carry water from a well down a dirt road.  I picture women who work in fields, who live in Alaska, who grow things.

Instead of looking around for youthful, appearance obsessed girls to compare myself to, I find similarities between us, instead.  I am smart enough to know that every beauty obsessed girl in this world doesn't feel good enough.  Every single one of them goes to bed at night feeling like they don't get it; the point of life.  They feel scared and starved and commodified.  They've all loved somebody who didn't love them.  They've all wanted something they couldn't have.  They're all covering things up, too.

When I want to feel better about myself, I get down on my knees in the dirt.  I nuzzle into my daughter, breathe deeply the scent of her.  I tie my skirt into a knot and wade into the water, somewhere.  I slip on the rocks.  I bleed red blood.  I swallow the hook.  I hike the heights.

When I start to feel like I'm fat and ugly and no good, I remind myself that I exist as a tiny speck of life in a churning universe that is so much more than we are.  I am not what I see in the mirror.  I am not my shoes and feet and legs.  I am not a picture of myself, faking a smile with a double chin.  I am not a stupid girl who sweats over my fears and insecurities, who cries because I can't be picked up like a baby by a man.  I am not an American person, only.  I do not forget about the women at the well, their babies tied to their bellies; babies that suckle as they work for water.  I don't forget about women who nest with chickens and rats.  I don't forget about life under a bridge.  I don't forget the pain of labor; bearing down and grunting while my sister and sweet, scared love whispered terrified poems of encouragement into my distorted face.  I am not ugly because I'm not pretty.  I am beauty that would murder you, if you knew how to see beauty.  I cried and shook in the hospital shower, faint and retching, while my lover knelt at my feet, washing the insides of my thighs and thanking me.  I am a person of the world.

I turn seed into food.  I birthed slippery, beautiful children.  They were covered in my blood.  I cried and my tears made pools in the canals of my ears.  I am not a stupid girl, and I am smart enough to know what beauty means.  I make beauty out of the air.  I eat beauty for breakfast.  I am not what you think a woman is. I grip at roots and veins in the muck of existence.  I vomit and crawl.  I bleed red like rust.  I am a person of the world.


Monday, May 7, 2012

A messy thank you.

I'm feeling much better, already.

Of course I want to say THANK YOU.  For your comments and emails and texts and phone calls, your compassionate and informed advice, and for telling me that you believe in me.

Sometimes, you make me feel like a million bucks.

My brother is getting married.  His fiance sent me a picture of herself, wearing a sassy, beautiful, puffy, mermaidy wedding gown, letting me know she found her dress.

I'm not somebody who overly cares about something like wedding dresses and all the hoopla surrounding them, but finding out that such a nice person found a dress that makes her happy made me get all teary eyed.  It really is the perfect dress, for her.  I don't even care about these things, and my heart was absolutely breaking with happiness over her unique and shining beauty.

I woke up this morning, and I didn't feel like all the world was gray.  I felt excited to be starting my day, and I have no idea why.  I actually stood at the kitchen counter waiting for my water to boil, staring straight ahead and thinking.  I made a mental list of everything I have to be excited about.  Kurt's new job, our upcoming beach trip, having health insurance FOR THE FIRST TIME IN PRACTICALLY ALL OF MY ADULT LIFE, BITCHES.  Warm weather, kale smoothies out of my garden, living in the city, having big boobs, knowing a lot about things, I don't know.  I just felt colorful, like something was up.

I think I used to feel that way a lot, but for the past year or so, I've been all murky and numb and robotic.  Some of it is just having babies.  I mean, my youngest girl is 21 months old.  We're just getting to a point where life isn't all poop and crying and sleeplessness.  On my part.  No seriously.  Being a mom of a baby is insane.

You know what I'm talking about, right?  You don't even exist.  You're just the thing that keeps a baby alive and happy and healthy.  You walk around all the time smelling like sour milk and peeing your pants when you sneeze and falling asleep during all the movies.  Or whatever.  You have your version of that thing.  You're not the person you once were.  You're not a person at all.

I think I'm just starting to come out of that phase.  I'm starting to make it to the end of the day without being totally thrashed with exhaustion.

Stopping my medicine, it's true that some of my instability will come back.  I'll cry over a pretty song when Elliott Smith sings, "I may not seem quite right, but I'm not fucked, not quite", and I'll cry because Stephen Elliott wrote a perfect sentence in a Rumpus email and made sadness out of five words.  I'll get frustrated when I can't find something and shake my fist at the sky and blame Kurt for moving it, "Dadddddyyy!!!"  And then I'll find it in my purse.  I'll have weird dreams and wake up at night, too scared to get out from under the blankets when I have to pee.  Then I'll go and pee anyway, and have to close my eyes as I pass the dark stairwell on my way to the bathroom.  I'll wake up in the morning and not be able to figure out what I'm looking forward to.  I'll get a letter from my dad full of money to help with our vacation, and I'll feel like it has always been hard to be his daughter, but that maybe I forgive him for some things.  I'll feel like I'm made up of fears, sometimes and that it doesn't matter because I could kick anybody's ass.  I'll tear up because I'm happy that my brother is marrying a wonderful person and she found a dress that shows off her beauty in an exemplary way.  It's okay.

Sometimes I need to feel messy to feel like me.  Even if it means that I'll have anxiety, sometimes.  Even if I have to take a sleeping pill because I can't stop having big, fast ideas and it's getting late.  Even if I feel lonely because it's night and everybody is locked away in their houses and if I went out, now, everybody would be up to no good.

I only mean to say that I'm okay, and thank you for knowing that, even when I'm not so sure.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Three truths and a lie - Writing Challenge Piece

"I'm not accusing you of anything," he said.

"You're putting words into my mouth," I said.  I scratched the inside of my wrist, almost forgetting the scabs were there.  I winced as I accidentally pulled one off with my fingernail.

"Those cuts on your wrist," he said, looking down at his clipboard.  "They aren't something I need to be concerned about?"

"God," I said.  "I was drunk."

Truthfully, I had only been sort of drunk.  Evan wasn't home.  It was late, and I had work in the morning.

I knew where he was.  There was a new girl who called our apartment and hung up when I answered.  I called her back once, pretending to be selling a magazine subscription.  She knew it was me.  We were both overly polite, like we were both sorry.  I liked the sound of her voice.  Hearing her speak made it so that she sort of belonged to me, too. For just a moment, I wasn't left out in the cold.  I felt something like love for her.  I just wanted everything to be okay.

She was nineteen and lived in a dormitory across town, on campus.  Evan and I were both thirty.  We'd lived together for almost ten years.  We graduated from high school together.  His dad used to beat him up.  He showed up at school with his face all messed up and bruised.  Nobody liked him.  He was too jumpy; they called him Spazz.  He almost fell out of his chair every time somebody slammed a book closed.

I didn't really like him, either, not then.  I just wanted something to bandage and nurse back to health.

My mother died of cancer when I was twelve.  My best memories were of brushing her hair smooth across her pillow and feeding her bites of ice cream from my bowl.  I snuggled up against her and watched movies on the tiny tv hanging from the ceiling of her hospital room on days when she couldn't come home.

I liked to say to Evan when we were teenagers, "Shh, now.  I won't let anything happen to you."

He only pretended to need me.  He needed to get back at them, more.  His dad and the other kids and all the people who thought he was dirt.  He sat quietly at my feet while I soothed him, waiting until he was big enough to fuck them all up.

He was big enough a long time ago.  Except that all of those people were gone, and he had no way of getting to them.  Instead, mostly he just fucked me up.

"You wrote a note?" the therapist asked.

"I did," I said.

"You locked the bathroom door?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"You weren't expecting your boyfriend home?" he asked.

"No," I said.  "I wasn't."

"But you're not a danger to yourself?"

"No," I lied.  "I'm not."


This week's Trifextra Challenge was to tell three truths and a lie, in 33-333 words.  I failed at the word count and disqualified myself, but there were only six minutes left before time ran out.  It was too late to do any major editing.  I'm sorry.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

More Zoloft talk...

Can I tell you the truth?  (Get ready douches who think I have serious issues...)

I'm not feeling so great.

Everything was fine.  This is my fifth day off of Zoloft.  I thought I might not have any withdrawal symptoms at all, but they hit me today.

We had a really nice, easy day.  We were together all day, the four of us, which feels like it barely ever happens.  We went to a farmer's market, the playground and then out for lunch at my favorite vegetarian restaurant.  Kurt was sweet and helpful, as always.  The girls were beautiful and delightful, as always.

And I felt like total shit.

I've been achey and tense, full of anxiety and sick to my stomach.  I keep having these weird dizzy moments where it feels like my brain is getting zapped with electricity.  I recognize all of these things as withdrawal.

Now, it's 9 at night.  Kurt took Scouty to the Pirate game and Louise is in bed.  I lit a candle and did some yoga.  I made a cup of tea.  I put on my pajamas and settled into the arm char.  And then I decided to google Zoloft withdrawal.

About fifty thousand message boards and natural health sites later, I'm panicking and convinced that I've done permanent damage to my brain by poisoning it with a pharmaceutical from a company that wants to profit off of my sickness, that I'll never sleep again, I'll have a brain zap and pass out while driving and enter into a weird hallucinatory state where I'm actually dreaming while I'm awake.  The bottle of little blue pills nestled quietly in the kitchen cupboard seemed so unassuming, but I've got their number, now.

Some teenagers walked by outside my window, laughing and holding hands.  They startled me so badly I almost dropped my teacup onto my laptop. I wish my big girl was home and cuddled up under her blankies. It's dark and I'm lonley and I miss my husband.

Somebody talk some sense into me.

I was supposed to being tough about this.  I was supposed to be maintaining a good frame of mind.

Millions of people take these drugs every day.  Millions of people get off of them.  Most of those people might feel a little anxious and a little light headed for a few days, but it turns out okay.  I KNOW PEOPLE, they're my friends, and they take Zoloft and nobody is poisoned and nobody is going to get a brain zap and start hallucinating and everybody is okay.  They were a miracle for me.  They stopped me from having postpartum anxiety, again.  They're fine.  It's fine.

I can do this, all right?

Tell me I can do this.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Best day ever, with a giant, squishy water bag!

So, what did I do that made Scouty tell me, "This was the best day of my life?" I got an idea on Pinterest, of course!

After seeing this awesome giant, squishy, water bag on Play At Home Mommy, we went to Home Depot and bought a plastic drop cloth in the painting section.  (We used an extra heavy one, 2mm, measuring 9ft x 12ft.)  I folded it in half and taped around the edges with duct tape.  After squirting in a few drops of blue food coloring and filling it up with the hose, we had a super awesome, squishy squashy, extra cooling, roly poly water mat!

The girls jumped for hours, and there wasn't a single leak!

It was so cool to be in the water, but not get wet!

Our water mat really took a beating and didn't pop!

Somersaults and everything.

The only flat place in our yard was right next to my leafy green garden, which was awesome because when we popped the bag, we watered the veggies!

We even ate lunch on it.  Nobody wanted to go in to nap.

We'll definitely be making another one on the next sunny spring day when it's not quite summer enough to swim, but it's just summery enough to need to cool down.
So, since I brought up my garden, can I gush for a second?
This kooky, extra-warm spring was PERFECT for starting my lettuce, spinach and kale.

It's only May 4, and I have heads of lettuce that are pretty much ready to harvest!

I've even snagged a few kale leaves for my smoothies.  Um, can I mention again that it's barely even MAY?

I'm fully aware that I'm going to be cursing this early spring when it's apple and peach time, since everything bloomed and then froze, but it's been amazing for my personal little plot.  I'm choosing to focus on the green now, instead of the bitter lack of fruit, later.

Well, that and the fact that we spent all day playing outside in the water and sunshine and it's barely MAY!

Here are my hard won tips for making a squishy water bag, and a disclosure.

I'll admit that this water bag you're seeing in these pictures of my beautiful, perfect daughters was a second run.  I started the first one up the hill a little bit, thinking that it wouldn't be a big deal that it wasn't on totally level ground.  Well, I was wrong.  It did matter.  It kind of rolled down the hill and was all uneven and the corners were sticking up in the air.  It looked like I just crumpled up a big piece of plastic and plopped it in the yard.  It was, I mean, totally unusable.

I tried dragging it on to a flatter area of ground.  It was unmovable. I started cursing.  The children glanced at each other the way daddy does all the time, saying to themselves, "Uh oh.  Mommy is about to blow."

I threw a little fit.  I cursed Pinterest and prepared to submit my failure to that website where people make fun of how badly they suck at being crafty.

But then, I got tough.  I stopped whining, popped the bag with a knife, emptied it and repositioned it next to the garden bed.  While the girls stared at me through the front window, asking over and over and over again, "Is it done yet?  Is it done yet?  Is it done yet?" I filled it up again, taped it closed and VOILA, motherfuckers!  I win the crafty mom award after all!  Scouty even said my water bag made for the best day of her life.

Plastic drop cloth.  Duct tape.  Level ground.  Food coloring.  Water.  Go.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thunder - Writing Challenge Piece

There is barely any light here, and never a breeze.  Only the occasional thunder of laughter.

The tall doctor comes in the morning and stares at me for a moment, and then writes on a paper attached to a clipboard.  He is an American.  They all are.  I feel small and dark, next to them.

I was part of a negotiation gone awry.  The men weren't supposed to let me fall.  They were supposed to value the life of my ten year old daughter more than their grievances.

I keep the light turned off, crying out loud when someone barges in and flips the switch.  There is a coffee machine around the corner from my room and a huge jug of water that makes bubbling sounds.  The nurses on night duty gather there, and sometimes one of them throws open my door with so much force, the light and sound from all of the world come flooding in, killing me.

There is never any wind here, though.  Not like that night in the bad lands.  Wind like that only happens at the top of the world, never down here, where I am.  At the top of the world, only one thing can happen, no matter how it may seem.  We can only die, even as we are told to live.


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 thunder.


BlogHer Book Club review - You Have No Idea

You know those celebrity tell all books that are so insulting to actual writers who have been trying for years to get a book published while raising two children and copy editing for money and trying to write a second book so that they can start the whole soul crushing experience of trying to get it published?

Well, I read one of them.

Vanessa Williams and her mother, Helen Williams, wrote a book about her life called, You Have No Idea.

Have I ever told you about how that "Sometimes the sun goes 'round the moon," song is like... the soundtrack to my nightmares?  I'm not sure if it's because it was always playing on VH1 when I was a kid, or if the melody and use of celestial bodies to explain something that doesn't even MAKE SENSE are just kind of creepy to me... but that song and Vanessa Williams make my skin crawl.  They give me flash backs to eighth grade when we moved to Mississippi for a year and I didn't realize it was wrong to have a black boyfriend and everybody talked about me and I was so cripplingly insecure that I once bawled until I was sick when I had to go to school on a day where I'd run out of hairspray.

People like Vanessa Williams "writing" books is the stuff of eye-rolls.

All that being said, it wasn't all that terrible to read.

Vanessa and her mother jumped right in to the NAKED PHOTO scandal that rocked Vanessa's reign as Miss America.  (Can you believe that I had no idea that Vanessa Williams had been Miss America, or that there was a naked photo scandal?)  They also reveal some pretty heavy stuff about their childhoods, respectively, involving abuse and neglect.  Of course, they do this all in a totally hairsprayed, one night I slept over at a friends house and got molested and the next day I was back on stage at my Jr. High School, kind of way.

I applaud both of them for the things they were willing to reveal, but don't mistake this book as a gritty, honest account of what it is like to get through trials.  The whole book was this way... kind of like the version you'd tell of your life's horrors and triumphs in an interview with Ryan Seacrest.  It was interesting; kind of like a day time talk show.  It was fast paced and good humored.  Vanessa and Helen Williams did their best to tell the truth, and they were even kind of likeable... which is a real compliment coming from somebody like me.

But, You Have No Idea, was in no way a piece of literature.

Are you interested in hearing more about the book?  Why don't you head over to BlogHer's Book Club to find out what the other book bloggers thought?

I was paid for my opinion, no duh, and everything I expressed here is honest and true.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012


This is why it feels like summer. There is stickiness on my neck from where Louise wrapped her little fingers.  I remember a time where it felt like I would never leave the house again without baby spit up on my shoulder.  I was finished with my second pregnancy and none of my bras fit me.  I wore tennis shoes and yoga pants with a hole in the knee.

I talk about this a lot, how things are always hard and they're always not.

We have problems.  With money and bedtime and a little house that is much too full of stuff.  The lawn needs mowing and I need to pot my tomatoes. I have problems with feeling dizzy sometimes, with eating sugar and finding comfortable sandals.  Sometimes I have a problem with feeling like a person.  With falling asleep at night, with pushing the tightness in my guts away.  I want to be off of this medication.  I want to eat only raw food.  Scouty has a minor health problem that causes us so many moments of stress and sadness.  Some months, I put groceries on the credit card a few days before payday.

Life is hard.

But, there was time where we had $400 after we paid our bills.  There were three of us and our tiny house was new and we didn't have enough stuff to fill it up, yet.  I stayed up sewing for a few extra dollars until midnight most nights.  I pecked away at a book that wouldn't ever see the light of day.  Sometimes there were two weeks left until the end of the month and we had to ask for help from Grandma and Pappy.  Lots of times, Daddy just didn't eat.  He was too worried or pent up, or there simply wasn't any food.

Life was hard, then.  It must be easier, now, but it's hard to see.

I grew up in a trailer park and the evangelical church.  Everything was a sin.  Rock and roll, homosexuality, wine and being a girl.  Our ceiling leaked, and my dad was away or locked into his room.  My mom was out in the yard, under a perpetual sun, mowing down the dandelions.  My brother was quiet and had giant glasses and buck teeth.  Everyone thought my sister was a boy.  My youngest brother was something we couldn't even hope to afford.  We ate white rice with cinnamon and sugar.  My shorts rode up and were the wrong size.  They belonged to somebody else, before me.

What is it that feels so terrible, now that we have everything we need?

I have two daughters who are so bright and perfect, they make a fool out of the beautiful sun.  I have a husband who loves me and my problems with sneaking the last of the birthday cupcakes while he is at work.  We own a home and it's so full of gifts, we don't have enough room for everything.  Nobody is hungry.  Nobody is sick.  We're going camping once the nights are warm enough.  The girls and I are headed to the beach.

Sometimes it feels like problems multiply with things and responsibilities.  The jobs I am so grateful for turn into long nights and bleary eyes.  Birthdays turn into piles of unopened packages in the hallway.  The new job means that dinner is late and I have to come up with a way to entertain the girls for an extra hour every evening.  I can't seem to find a pair of comfortable summer shoes.

This is all nothing.

I am simplifying.

I've finished day two of my modified juice fast, and all I can think about is a veggie dog from Dormont Dogs.  I'll have one, someday and it's going to be so fucking good.

I'm getting rid of things.  A child's table and chairs, Scouty's toddler bed, toys and books and the high chair.  I'm getting rid of other things, too.  This medicine, worrying about what time it is, and piling myself with deadlines and tasks.  There is nothing to worry about, not really.