Saturday, June 30, 2012

Open Letter Week - Letter to me, in the middle of winter

I'm embarking on a week of open letters.  How about you?  Do you have a letter in you that the world might like to read?  Post them to your blog and link up at the bottom of this post, so that I can check them out and maybe share them with my readers, too.


Dear me, in the middle of winter.

Here are a list of things to daydream about.  They are real things, too... not false ones that will never come true.  I know all about them, because I'm living them now.  It's summertime and you can make make it back here, if you just hold on.

The funny, lopsided blow up pool with a filter and pump that is only big enough for the four of you.  When you and Kurt get in together, water splashes out of the sides.  It's cool and clean and smells like chlorine.

The trampoline, and how Louisey will be able to jump with both feet off of the ground, by the time you get back to it.

Your garden.  Asking Kurt to run outside and harvest an armload of Kale for dinner, or a few basil leaves for homemade pizza.  Finding earthworms in the back yard and scooping them up, running to the front yard plot to let them burrow there.

The hammock.  Oh love.  The hammock is the reason summer time was invented.  Lazing there for hours, half asleep while the girls dig in the dirt beside you.

Daylight until after 9pm.  It's so hard to believe, in the middle of winter when it gets dark at 4:30... but there is a time where it's sunny and warm until long after the girls are in bed.

Sweet corn, ugly boy tomatoes, giant blue berries the size of a quarter.  Watermelon and basil scented water in a frosty glass pitcher.  Tricolor heirloom baby tomatoes, fresh strawberry jam and sno-cones at the farmer's market.

Birthdays at the park, sitting on a blanket and eating from paper plates.

Wearing lemon and tea tree oil to keep away the mosquitoes, everything smells beautiful and fresh and clean.

Colorful beach towels on the clothesline.

The beach front house in a sleepy fishing village that you've been paying off all year.

Baseball games for Scouty and Daddy and the water steps on the North Shore Trail outside of PNC Park.

I have a million more things to tempt you with, but I've got to get back to them.  You can do this thing.

yourself, all tanned and smiling.


Write an open letter to a crush or somebody you hate.  Write one to your dad or the president or your newborn son.  We don't care who you're writing to, just write a letter, and link up here. You only have one more day!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Open Letter Week - Letter to a 40 year old me. (Thanks, Chelsea.)

I'm embarking on a week of open letters.  How about you?  Do you have a letter in you that the world might like to read?  Post them to your blog and link up at the bottom of this post, so that I can check them out and maybe share them with my readers, too.


A letter to a 40 year old me,

I remember a time where I thought that being twenty-seven was old, where I'd learned everything, already.  Looking back, now, I cringe at my stupidity. 

I'm thirty-three today.  Do you feel ashamed of me, thinking back?  Do I seem puffed up and important beyond what I deserve? 

I feel a little nervous thinking of you.  I hope that things are different, inside your head.  I hope that you've learned how to control yourself a little better.  I hope you're centered and strong and deliberate in your actions.  I hope that you wake up knowing for sure who you are.

I knew everything for sure at twenty-seven, and I don't know anything, now.

Have you ever stopped feeling swallowed up by motherhood?  Scouty is twelve years old and Louise is nine, in your world.  Do you still breathe every breath because they need you?  Do you still eat for them; gently shake them awake at night to bring them into bed with you on nights where it's cold or storming?  Do you worry they'll feel afraid when it thunders?  Are they still braver than you, with all of your plans to conquer and live like a viking?  Did you ever become comfortable with your size against the world, and with the size of them in your heart?  Or are you still feeling along the walls of your amniotic enclosure for a tear, waiting for a day when you've finally discovered your own air and your own ocean of possibility, as something other than their mother?

I can't imagine that in seven years, you've stamped down your dirt.  I can't imagine what it will be like to have children, but to not carry them everywhere.  I hope your knee isn't bothering you so much, now that you only have yourself to carry.

I'm curious about your garden.  I have plans for it, you know.  I want to start prying up bits of sod, slowly, at first, so as not to raise any eyebrows.  Eventually, I'll excavate the second level of the yard, growing plump, obscene tomatoes and fat, sweating cantaloupes.  When you're forty, do you still get a little hot over seed catalogs in January?  Do the possibilities of growth and wildness and life still get you tangled up in your winter sheets? 

I'm afraid to ask you about the girls.  They're gorgeous, aren't they?  They're golden and those big brown eyes, they break your heart with every flutter of their eyelashes, don't they?  I bet you can hardly stand to look at them, they're so devastating.  I guess in that regard, nothing has changed.

Maybe not so much has changed, at all.  Maybe seven years snake by and everything is easier and harder only imperceptibly, and you still feel like the same person you always were.  You still feel like a little girl from a dirt lot in a trailer park who never got her bearings.  You still feel clumsy and giant and awkward.  You still get uncomfortable passing someone on the sidewalk, when should I look up and when should I smile?  You still smile too soon and wish the world would fade away to nothing.  You still like taking walks when it's raining because there won't be anybody to look at you and pass you and be friendly and say hello.

Hello, you.

I hope I know you, already.  I also hope that I don't.



Write an open letter to a crush or somebody you hate.  Write one to your dad or the president or your newborn son.  We don't care who you're writing to, just write a letter, and link up here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Devil Got In - Writing Challenge Piece

I locked the gate from the inside.  I can't tell you how the devil got in.

I was on night duty.  I have trouble staying awake, so I invited Miranda Darling to keep me company, or rather; she asked if she could visit me on my watch and I said yes.

I'm not guilty of letting the thing in, but we did leave the grounds.

Miranda liked to visit the stream that runs along the border of the village. I followed her there.  If you look at my hands, I'm scratched from the brambles.  She found her way easily, though. I swear she was glowing like the face of the moon.  I swear she was.

She lifted her skirt and went wading into the water, glowing as she undid the laces that ran up her bust. Her skin was so pale, it hurt my eyes to look at her.

"Come in," she laughed.

"I have to go back," I said, but I didn't know the way.

I stepped in to the cool water. That was when I became aware of the devil.  It was on us suddenly, bristling and snarling.  I slung Miss Miranda over my shoulders in a fine spray of water droplets, and I ran blind, into the trees.

I could feel its eyes on my back, on Miranda's exposed legs and breasts, how her hair was loose around her shoulders in the moonlight.  She curled up against me like a child.  I held her like a baby, her laces trailing behind us, rustling sweetly in the grass.  "You're so strong and fast," she whispered.

As we reached the gate, a cold, dead feeling crept up my arm. I was too late.  I threw Miranda onto the ground inside the safety of the walls. She cried out for me.  I turned to face the beast, and there was nothing but the trees waving in the wind.

I didn't leave the gate unlatched.  I didn't let him in.


I took a break from writing letters so that I could participate in this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.  My prompt was to write a story in 33-333 words, somehow involving the Lewis Carroll quote, "What I tell you three times is true."  I didn't let him in, I swear.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Open Letter Week - Letter to a new mom

An open letter to a new mom.

Dear mommy,

You're freaking out, and you're scared to let anyone know.  You're exhausted and anxious and run ragged, but you're also in love.  It's a new kind of love; a shining diamond of a thing that you had no way of imagining before.

Here it is.  The love that made it so you'll never sleep again.

The love that has you hearing footsteps in the hallway at night, the door to the nursery opening slowly.

The love that shut the bathroom door this evening, so that you could take a bath.  Only the white light and slippery tile were cold and every time you tried to soap up your hair, you heard a tiny cry that probably wasn't real.

This is the love that will kill you.

It feels that way, doesn't it?  It feels like there is no possible way you'll make it, as a mom.  There is no way you'll be able to sustain this burn.  You're feeling like you've gotten in over your head, because you've never loved something so much that it made you afraid to close your eyes.

You're afraid to lay your baby down and leave the room.  The bare crib mattress is so wide, it's like a cold sea of space, and the two of you were so warm, together, before.  You're afraid to fall asleep next to your baby, though, too.  So many things could go wrong, just by snuggling up into bed for the night.  You had no idea blankets and warmth and softness and sleep could be so menacing.

You're so tired you're seeing flashes of light in your peripheral vision.  You're discovering an obscene, pornographic love for coffee.  You're finding that you can't be touched by your husband at night; not now, not when you've scraped yourself too thin over the rocks of your new love and you have nothing left inside but a thin thread of panic, threatening to snap.  Not while your startle reflex is running so high.  Not while you're so fragile, you might break if he tried to take comfort in you.

If you broke, who would stay up at night, terrified of the shadows?  Who would hold your tiny miracle just right, who would love him and smell the top of his head?  Who would stare at him, marveling while he slept in their arms?  Who would spring out of bed, heart pounding and fingers numb, and dash across the hallway at the first hint of his crying?

Shh, mommy.  It's all okay.  It's just that your love's purpose has come to life, and you've never been this needed, before.  You've never been this counted on, and you have no idea whether you're good enough to be what your child needs.  You don't know that life as a parent won't always feel this way, that your child will eat and sleep without you someday, sooner than later.  You don't know the depths of your abilities, how you are capable of astounding feats of sacrifice and courage and will. 

All this time you've been alive, you've had no idea that you were capable of caring for a life.

God knows nobody ever taught you to care for your own.  For as long as you can remember, people have been trying to mold you and crush you, reshape you and change your mind.  They have been trying to sell to you that you're too fat, too dull, too stupid, too dirty, not sexy enough and that your sexuality is a sin.  They have made you ashamed to pronounce certain parts of your body.  They've called you names and put you down, held up a painted, unattainable image in front of you and told you to fight for it.  They've told you that if you were enough, you would be thinner, prettier and more sought after.  You'd be quieter and smaller and sweeter.  If you were good enough, you would be more like they said you should be.

You had no idea, all this time, that your body was miraculous, that you could grow something perfect inside of you.  That, in a gush of pain and blood, you could deliver slippery, perfect innocence and beauty.  That you had him inside of you all along.  You didn't need to be prettier, you were god, all this time.

And it's quite a realization, isn't it?

How are you supposed to be god when you were only a no good, ugly, fat, loser of a girl a few days ago?  How are you supposed to wake up every morning and know that you're the only thing responsible for keeping the most beautiful being to ever breathe air alive, when you're just you?  How are you supposed to make this immaculate little person happy, make sure he's healthy and thriving, when you've never managed to even be able to tolerate yourself in the mirror?

I don't know how to explain to you that I know this, but you will do it and you will be amazing. All of the beauty and capability you're expecting of yourself, now that you're mommy?  We've known it was in you all along.  That's why we're your friends and husbands and sisters and admirers.  That's why we call you just to talk.  That's why we encourage you when you write and sing. 

We knew you were amazing, even when you didn't.

And you do know it, now, even though you're fighting it.

You know that you can handle this, and that you'll get through it.  You don't have a choice, and so you will pick yourself up, get help if you need to, call your doctor, take pills, go out for dinner with a friend and humiliate yourself by breaking down crying, stay up all night listening for intruders in the grass, sob at your husband's feet, call him at work and tell him to come home, panic and tremble and shake, if you have to.  Yell and throw up your breakfast.  Skip showering for four and five days in a row because you simply can't muster up the energy.  Allow yourself all of your imperfections and fears, because they make up who you are and who you are is READY TO KICK ASS at this mothering thing.  Who you are is BEAUTY and WISDOM and LOVE and LOVE and LOVE. 

Who you are is mommy, and you can do this.  I swear.

Love, an admirer


Write an open letter to a crush or somebody you hate.  Write one to your dad or the president or your newborn son.  We don't care who you're writing to, just write a letter, and link up here.  (If you don't have a blog, email me your letter.  If you don't want me to share it, I won't.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Open Letter Week - Letter to my boyfriend, in 2005

I'm embarking on a week of open letters. How about you? Do you have a letter in you that the world might like to read? Post them to your blog and link up at the bottom of this post, so that I can check them out and maybe share them with my readers, too. ----------------------------------------------------------

An open letter to my boyfriend, in 2005:

Dear Kurt,

You make me ache.

In all the best ways.

I was sick and waning when we hiked to the aquaducts.  It was warm, for being late fall and I was sweating sour sweat in a pink sweater, climbing around on rocks in a river bed that had gone dry.  It was only recently that I started touching you.

You might think I'm referring to that kind of touch. It's true that we've only recently become intimate, after six years of friendship, but that isn't what I mean.  I mean that before a few weeks ago, I didn't touch you at all.

I should have seen it, how it meant that I wanted you with my thigh bones bending painfully, that I wanted you with a bone saw in my ribcage, that I wanted you with the way you disappeared, folded up in the corner like a lawn chair, sand all over your appendages after a day away with a book and a blanket, that I wanted you.

We've known each other since we were kids, and in that time, I've done a lot of touching.  The people in our life, they have a propensity for being languid and for spreading across the furniture.  They have a knack for seeking out the warm places that bend and never break.  I kissed them, one by one, under a bare orange light bulb in my college bedroom, my head filled with broken mirror fragments, not being able to tell the door from my heart, always closing, always creaking.

I didn't touch you, though.  I was sure not to.  When we rode in your car to the liquor store, I didn't let my hand hang at my side where it might brush against your clothes.  I didn't rest my palm on your gearshift.  If I passed you in a hallway, I inhaled and pressed myself flat against the wall.

What might have happened, if we touched, accidentally?  The world might have come tumbling apart.  I might have been flung into the outer reaches of space, caught up in the violent gravity of some cold, mean planet.  Maybe I would have blushed and stuttered and you would have known that I had a crush on you.

Years ago, we were in a bar with our friends.  You offered to get drinks and went around the table, asking each person for a yes or a no.  You were standing behind me, my leg in someone else's lap.  You were wearing a blue shirt and your eyes were like place where the ocean meets the sky; a lonely cloud forms there and all of existence is an island in an impending storm.

When it came my turn to say, "Yes, of course, I want a drink," you put your hand on the top of my head, for just a moment, and I felt warm things come to life inside of me.  I felt like staring at the floor until the feeling passed.  I felt like rubbing up against you in the alley behind the building, like letting my thigh touch yours, sitting next to you on the couch.  I had a boyfriend, and all he ever made me feel was mildly disgusted and embarrassed, and you were just somebody I couldn't touch, because touching you made my cheeks pink and the inside of my thighs stick together.  

You touched the top of my head, and that was years ago.  I remember it, because touching you has always been important.  I want you to know that it was a nothing moment.  Nobody even knew it happened, and I will remember it until we're married and old.  We'll have children and own a home, and I'll remember how your hand rested on my head, and nobody knew what I knew.

Touching you, I will almost poison you, someday.  Touching you will make our children.  Touching you will be our hands on hillside overlooking the city on our gray wedding day in June. 

an admirer


Write an open letter to a crush or somebody you hate.  Write one to your dad or the president or your newborn son.  We don't care who you're writing to, just write a letter, and link up here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Open Letter Week - Letter to a girl at Starbucks, planning her wedding.

I'm embarking on a week of open letters.  How about you?  Do you have a letter in you that the world might like to read?  Post them to your blog and link up at the bottom of this post, so that I can check them out and maybe share them with my readers, too.


An open letter to the girl at Starbucks on Monday, sitting with her fiance and wedding planner.

Dear girl with long brown hair,

I think you were sent straight from god, just for me.

I've been feeling mixed up, lately, and pent up and scatterbrained.  I've been telling people to love themselves, but hating my face in the mirror.  I've been short tempered with my husband and running our household in a kind of hyper acute sense where everything must be done my way, where everything must be done.

If you want to know a secret... I start telling people what to do when I'm not sure what the point of all this is.  I get bossier, the less confident I am, and I've been feeling underconfident.

You were sitting at table so that I had no choice but to see you every time I looked up from my computer screen.  I was writing an article about something I didn't care about, pausing every few minutes to stare into space and think about what to cook for dinner this week, or something equally as stupid.

I was looking through everything, not seeing anything, and I saw you.

You were wearing a pair of coral Capri pants and a turquoise t-shirt. Your hair was long and chocolate brown and flowing around your face and neck like a silky wild vine.  I saw that you introduced yourself to a woman who had been waiting at the table alone, and you said, "This is my fiance," gesturing to a plain looking man wearing plain colors and existing all wrong and muted next to you.  You smiled and shook the woman's hand and I thought that you might be the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen.

But, I get like that, sometimes.  I get gray and muddy, inside and the world is full of distractions, and to save myself, I start falling in love all over the place.

It hasn't happened in a while, because I was taking a little blue pill for the baby blues.  (If you want to know another secret... I got very, very blue after having my babies.  So blue, in fact, that I thought I might not make it to the end of every day.  So blue that I thought I was dying, that my heart would seize and stop in my chest.)  I took those pills for almost two years, and only recently got brave enough to stop them.

I wanted to feel something, again.  I wanted to be able to get worked up.  It had been a very long time since I'd been myself, since I felt passionate and wild and fiery.  I wanted to feel those things, again.  Except that, when I stopped taking the pills, all I felt was an inability to concentrate and a sense of being pressured, like I was running late for everything, even when I didn't have anywhere to be.  I started getting all snippy and controlling, like I mentioned before.  I couldn't muster up the initiative to go for a bike ride or dead lift my awesome heavy weights.  I found myself stewing in a milieu of Trader Joes Doritos and indecision.  I felt more like myself than I had in a long, long time... and I was totally unequivocally hating it.

That's what I was doing at Starbucks at 7pm on a weekday.  I was supposed to be getting out of the house, doing something, and getting my shit together.  I thought if I went out, I might be able to get some work done.  That I'd actually write something, instead of checking on the progress of the tomatoes in my garden for the fifth time that day.

So, there you were, a bolt of color and soft round curves and the rest of the world was a dull hum of fuzz and white.  Your nails were painted orange and you laughed.  I looked down at myself, wrapped up in navy blue jersey and hating my body, how uncomfortably I bulged in places and couldn't sit up straight to save myself.  Your body was immaculate, and I hope you knew it.  You were bigger than I am, and your skin was white, like porcelain.  You were a fat girl, the same kind of girl I'd been wrinkling up my nose at in the mirror, lately, and I wanted to lay you down in the grass and dew and peel the cute, color coordinated clothing from your immaculate body.  I knew how your dark hair would stand out against your skin, how soft you'd be, and how pink and perfect.  I wanted to give you a secret, something to make you blush.

You were there planning your wedding, looking through a giant binder of details, and all I could think about was wrecking it.

I wanted to walk up to you, introduce myself, and then pledge to make you squirm and coo in ways that this dull, brown on brown on khaki fiance of yours couldn't dream.  I wanted to kiss the bend in your arm at the inside of your elbow.  I wanted to be a black demon on an unshoed horse whipping through your life like a hurricane.  I wanted to tell you that you were the hottest girl that god ever made, not that god has anything to do with anything.

I didn't, though, of course.  I didn't really want to do those things.  I just wanted them for you, for your beauty, for making the world a more beautiful place.

You see, right before you walked into the coffee shop, I had been day dreaming about what an ugly, for shit person I am with my ragged nails and sagging belly.  I'd been lamenting the gray hairs at my temple, my creaky knee and ankle and feeling like the least attractive woman on the planet.  I'd been feeling like a big fat nothing, and then suddenly, I was looking at you, at how fucking sexy you were, and realizing that I've got a little bit of hot girl in me, too.  I was loving the shape of you because I love the shape of me, somewhere deep inside.  I wanted your body, because I love mine.

You woke me up, and put everything into focus.  If I could covet you for all the things I already possess, there wasn't anything wrong in the world.  I just hope your fiance realizes what he's got.  I hope he understands that he has to worship you, all of you in your soft, opalescent finery, that he has no choice but to fall at your feet, because I would, if I were him.  I hope that when you wake up in the morning and watch yourself brushing your pretty teeth, that you feel happy and lucky, because you should.  We all might be doomed to be the things we are, but that doesn't mean that we also can't be happy and lucky and free.

An admirer.


Write an open letter to a crush or somebody you hate.  Write one to your dad or the president or your newborn son.  We don't care who you're writing to, just write a letter, and link up here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

There are details, boudoir details, that you only WISH you were privy to.

So, after just a few days of taking the spotlight off of OH MY GOD, HOW CAN WE CHEER DADDY UP?  I am proud to announce that he's back on track, he wore a red shirt to work, I got a pedicure and well, let me tell you that there are other details, boudoir details, that you only WISH you were privy to.

I left the house last night, as the girls were playing some kind of intolerable football game with Kurt where he steals a ball out of their hands and tosses it, and they pretend to whine and dive on the ground, crawling after the ball while he holds on to their pants and says, "No!  It's my ball now!"  and they kick and scream and laugh and eventually break free and grab the ball.  And then this repeats about a thousand noisy times.  It was exactly the sort of game that wouldn't have been taking place if I was staying home.

Almost a whole year ago, my beautiful friend, Miss Jessica, gave me a gift card to get a pedicure, and I never did it!  I found it in a drawer yesterday and saw that it expired in a few days, so I made an appointment and left Daddy and the girls to come up with something fun to do without me.  IMAGINE.  (I think they managed.)

Can I take a moment to say that getting a pedicure was totally weird?  I felt like such a big, fat American, being like, "Finish with my feet now, tiny foot scrubber lady, so that I can get back to my fancy coffee and smutty novel about boys with magical powers taking their shirts off!"  It was also kind of awesome, though, and my toes look totally cute.  I never would have paid money for this service, so THANK YOU, beautiful friend.

I came home to a quiet, tidy house and a happy husband.  We watched Dance Moms, which, by the way, what the fuck, Abby?  That duet was the shit.  There's NO WAY that dance was second place material.

And then we did things that would make your mama blush.  Okay.  I'll admit it.  They made ME blush when I woke up this morning and remembered what we'd done, and I'm not exactly a fresh and tender little peach.

So, what does all of this mean?  It means exactly what you've been suspecting... that I am a total genius at life.

Here's where I adopt a somber tone, though.  The dark side of all of this is that the laundry pile has gotten out of control again.  There is soap scum in the shower.  The things that I've been putting off being happy for.  Yeah.  It's happening and it's totally unwieldy.  We're getting through this the best we can.  It's all we can do.  Pray for us, anonymous emailers and commenters, who are sure that my marriage is failing and my life is in shambles.  My baby is even climbing on the pile of clothes and saying, "Mountain climb!"  We're all going to need some serious counseling after I take this next load out of the dryer.  If I'm not careful, the laundry may turn on me and find a younger, quieter, more ladylike maid with a better attitude who doesn't complain.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If mama ain't happy...

I don't know how to write love letters, anymore.  I don't know how to write stories.  I'm feeling a little bit like I don't know why I keep doing this.

When I sit down to write, I feel like I've got a plastic film all over me.  Like I'm squeaking obscenely against my words.  Like I have nothing to say.

I haven't been alone in a really long time.

You know how awesome it is when you get a babysitter and you and your husband go out on a date; how everything sucked an hour ago, but for the rest of the evening, you'll smile and say funny things and feel like the world is a wide open place, all because you got to be alone together?

I need that with myself, too, or else I start to hate myself.

I haven't been reading.  I haven't been walking.  I haven't been writing.  I haven't been fun to be around.

I have been:  moody, depressive, unfocused, unproductive, boring, disengaged and unenthusiastic.

I alerted Kurt the other day that I was going to take an evening for myself sometime this week.  He chose today and shooed me out of the door.  I almost had an anxiety attack over the guilt and stood in the kitchen with my shoes on and my purse on my shoulder, defiantly cutting strawberries for the girls.  Because Kurt couldn't do that, you know?  And then I decided that I would leave the house through the basement so that I could put a load of laundry in the dryer, but I got yelled at.

All of this is how I know that it's my fault that everybody's feeling shitty.  (And by everybody, I must mean Kurt.  I have no idea how anybody else is feeling because I never leave my house.)

It doesn't seem like it would be true, but Kurt is happier when I leave, in the evenings.  Not because he gets a reprieve from me, which is certainly a bonus, but because he's happier when I am not moody, depressive, unfocused, et al.

You all had some wonderful advice about Operation Happy Daddy, and if you didn't have advice, you commiserated, which meant more to me than you could ever know.  Somebody suggested that cosmetic fixes wouldn't help, and I think they were right, in a sense.  Massaging my husband isn't going to make his life stop sucking.  It's just going to be weird and require that he take a shower.  Making sure that I'm not hovering around while he's playing with and feeding the girls, busting into tears because I step on a lego and deciding to throw AWAY ALL THE LEGOS, will make his life suck less.

I hope that you can see the theme running through my life, lately.  The theme is that I suck, and when I suck, everything sucks for everybody(Kurt).  I've always been a dominant gene in any group of people.  When mama ain't happy, and all that.  It's why I've always been such a good scapegoat.  I'm obnoxious, demonstrative and emotive about the way I feel.  ALL the ways I feel.  On top of that, I talk too much.  It's why my dad took me aside when I was a teenager and told me that I was the reason his marriage was failing.  (I wasn't the reason.  I wasn't even CLOSE to being the reason, but I can't quite blame anybody for wanting to assign blame to me.  When I suck, I really super suck and everybody knows it.)

So! It might seem counter intuitive that, in order to try make my husband happier, I'm going to leave the house in the evenings, every chance I can get.  I'm going to let him feed the girls dinner, read them books and give them baths, without lurking around in the corners trying to engage him in an argument about why Nirvana isn't that good, or something.  I'm not going to cut strawberries when he could cut them himself.  I'm not going to mope around the pile of laundry, muttering under my breath about how approximately 82% of my life is spent doing laundry.  I'm not going to take on a bunch of extra responsibilities in an effort to lighten his burden, so that I can crack on Friday night and lock myself, sobbing, in the bathroom with a tub of Oxyclean and an old toothbrush, because I JUST CAN'T TAKE THE DIRTY GROUT ANYMORE AND I'M ABOUT TO LOSE IT .

He needs space to be daddy and to do all of the wonderful, helpful things he does for us.  He needs space to feel good about doing those things.  He also needs for his wife to not be existing on the very edge of  agoraphobia, only leaving the house for playdates and to go to the grocery store for Oxyclean.  He needs and deserves a wife who is interesting and interested, who doesn't suck, who remembers how to be funny and engaging and focused and happy, who reads and writes and laughs at something other than when somebody trips and falls down on the uneven pavement outside of our house.  Not that I would be watching everybody's every movement through a crack in the curtains, anyway, WHAT AM I, MY HOUSEBOUND GRANDMOTHER?

I've figured it all out.  (If you need clarification, please refer back to the part where I explained that I suck.)  It all boils down to... am I more likely to help Kurt out of his funk by keeping the girls out until seven, in which case they're tired and starving and grumpy, snapping at them while trying to feed them and bathe them at the same time and snapping at him when he says that he'd like to handle bathtime, doing the dishes until 11 at night, at which point I bust into tears about how everything I spend my life doing is immediately undone and how the dishes will never REALLY be done and then ordering him to go lie down on the living room floor so that I can rub his back while he stares an empty stare at the television that I couldn't quite bring myself to put sports on while I yawn and say things like, "Oh shit!  I forgot to change out the laundry..."


Or, I more likely to make him happy by NOT doing all of those things and taking care of myself, leaving the house alone like a normal, adult person, letting him parent in his way, acknowledging how capable he is of handling the strawberries, and coming home in a good mood so that we can eat snacks and watch tv in our underwear, like we love to do so much?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Being happy and being selfish, as a mom and a woman

I was thinking about my childhood, and how I learned a lot of things that weren't true.  Then I spent my youth wrestling with those things, peeling them away from me, like I'd been stuck in a web.

I get afraid my girls will have troubles with living, like I did.

Kurt and I stayed up late the other night, talking about being a high school kid and coming home tripping, and we laughed about hearing someone calling our name in the hallway, peeking our heads out and saying, "Yes?"  We laughed about listening to Pink Floyd's Animals and smoking out of our bedroom windows.  About introspective collapse.  The time I looked in the mirror and realized I was an asshole, dressed up like an asshole who had no idea how to be a human being.

How smart we were, because I was right.  I had no idea how to be a person.

We talked about how sometimes teachers would take us aside and say, "You're really good at writing."  They didn't do that because we were the best writers these teachers had ever seen.  They took us aside to encourage us, because they saw that we were failing.  They could see that we needed encouragement about something, because we felt like we were nothing.

We never would have admitted it at the time, but it mattered that somebody did that.  It meant something that an adult took me aside and said, "I see you, and appreciate something you're doing."  I'm 33 years old, and I can still remember specific times from elementary school and junior high school where a teacher told me I was good at something.

Isn't it weird that something somebody told me when I was eight years old, majorly influenced what I chose to pursue and who I became, as a person?  It's mind-blowing that if a teacher hadn't noticed that I needed to feel good at something, I might not be who I am.

I get worried sometimes about sending my girls out into the world.  I'm worried that other people will have too much say in who they become.

If you think about it, most people live their whole lives not really getting decide how to spend their time or who to be.  The other day, I was talking to my mom and she said that she'd like to lose twenty pounds by the date of my brother's wedding.  It made me realize that there isn't a magical age where people are just happy with themselves.  She'll be seventy, and still trying to be thinner and prettier and younger.

We don't trust that people will love us, no matter what we choose.  We think that the conditions of people's love are something that they're not.  People will love us no matter what we weigh, but they might be disappointed that we never learned how to be happy, or love ourselves.  What if we were happy and healthy and capable?  Imagine how much love we'd have, then.  We don't make any of our own choices.

I'm trying to ask myself what I really want to be, and what part of my goals are tied up in trying to get people to approve of me.  I'm trying to figure out why I want the things I want.

I just want to be happy, and I want to be able to handle things.  I think that might involve being strong and healthy.  It might involve not being tired.  It might involve pursuing things that make me feel talented and powerful.  It definitely involves being a good mom and a better partner.  (I sort of feel like no matter how hard I try, I could never really be a GOOD partner, but really?  If I was happy and capable, I would be a good person to be in a partnership with.)

Pursuing actual happiness, the things that make me feel good, will enable me to be better at caring for everybody else.  When I put off working out and writing and hiking in the woods and riding my bike, when I eat shitty food and stay inside all day cleaning and arranging things because I think that it will make me a better mom, I'm not doing anybody any favors. My kids don't give a shit about whether I get to the laundry today or not.

 I am only a good mom when I am happy and strong and awake and interested and healthy.  Putting off any of those things because I believe that I should care and clean and arrange and BE A NORMAL PERSON, that it will make me a better mom if I deny all of my SELFISH desires to be happy, just makes me a shittier, more selfish, mom and a terrible person to be around.

Seeking out the things that actually make me happy, (and it's not a clean kitchen floor and Zumba class, or whatever,) and showing my kids how to pursue the things they really want in life, is the best thing I can do for them, as a mom.  Being happy and fun to be around and good at what I do is the best way I can love my kids.

I don't want to be seventy years old and still trying to be thinner.  I want to be seventy years old and able to say that I've lived a happy life, that I'm still living a happy life, and that my children are happy, too.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Making my own choices... and laundry detergent.

There's a lot of power in being able to make things, for myself.

Sometimes people try to argue that the point of gardening, making your own detergents and things is cheaper, and that's why we should do it.  Or that it's healthier, and that's the point.

And those things are the point, but there's also something magic in not being branded, packaged and bought.  There's something to being out of the loop and feeling self-sufficient.

Something about life is that pretty much everything can be bought, but that doesn't mean that it should.

I bake my own bread.  You can read all about in a guest post I wrote for Good Cheap Eats, here.

I have a garden.  I wrote about it, here.  Growing food is interesting and fun.  I love the learning curve.  I love that, when I started, my results were pitiful, but that every year I get better and better.  I love that I have an ongoing supply of lettuce and kale out in the yard.  Gardening is also relaxing, like everybody says.  It's also functional.  It's all of those things, but mostly, it's important.

It's important to me that my kids know what food is and what food isn't.  It isn't created out of chemicals and processed according to the study of what people biologically crave.  It isn't mashed up and mixed with science and rearranged at the genetic level so that it can serve an economic function.  It isn't business.  It isn't a hassle or a chore.  Food is life.  We're obsessed with it because we need it to live, but we also need it to love ourselves, and to love being alive.  There are even studies that show how dieting women are unhappy, how women who restrict their food are miserable.

The point of eating isn't carbs and protein and calories.  The point of eating isn't mindlessly buying and stuffing as much food as we can into our bodies, like our bodies aren't connected to our happiness.  The point of eating is being alive.  The point of food is being a human being.

I make freezer jam and salsa so that we have farm and garden produce in the middle of winter.

I make our own laundry detergent.  (This is an easy, good recipe.)  I can't tell you how good it feels to stick it to Tide.

I even make my own deodorant.  Chemicals in antiperspirant are found in an overwhelming number of samples of breast cancer tumors.  Other chemicals have been linked to Altzheimer's disease.  Plus, making my own is so easy.  Here's how I do it:

Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda
with a few tablespoons of corn starch
with a few spoonfuls of coconut oil
and add a few drops of tea tree oil.

I sew clothing and stuffed animals and other things.  This skill comes in handy when attempting to make gift holidays less commercial and plastic.

I make an all purpose cleaning product by putting dried citrus peels in a big bottle of vinegar.  When I peel an orange, I just let the peels dry on the windowsill for a day or two, and then stuff them into the bottle.  Vinegar kills bacteria, and kitchen smells like orange, and nobody has to be careful not to touch the counter until it dries so as not to get caustic chemicals on our skin.

Making these things on my own has definitely become a fun hobby.  Educating myself about how shitty assholes are trying to sell me shitty products has also become a fun hobby.  I definitely save money (and calories) by doing these things, but mostly, I feel good about myself.  I feel like a grown up who can make my own choices.  I feel like I'm not helpless.  I'm not doing everything mindlessly and without intention, the way it can feel, sometimes, waking up every day to feed and dress and clean up after other people without tending to any of my own desires.  I feel like not buying everything that can be bought helps me to be human.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Shabby Apple Giveaway!

Good news, everybody!  It's time for a giveaway!

I'm always especially excited when the people at Shabby Apple, the prettiest and most stylish online boutique of women's clothing, contact me.  Because I mean, who wouldn't want to win a $50 Shabby Apple gift card?  Their clothes are gorgeous.

photo from shabby apple's website
Let's just get down to it.  Here's how you can enter to win:  (Please leave me a separate comment for each entry and make sure I have a way to contact you!)

1. (Mandatory Entry) Like Shabby Apple on Facebook.

2. Visit Shabby Apple and come back and tell me which dress or other item is your favorite.

3. Follow Last Mom On Earth on Twitter and leave a comment with your @username

4. Like Last Mom On Earth on Facebook

5. Tweet this:  @LastMomOnEarth is giving away a $50 gift card to @ShabbyApple here: and come back and comment a link to your tweet.

That's five ways to enter.  Go ahead and do all five, if you want to.  I'll choose a winner in one week (on June 21, 2012) via random number generator and email you if you've won.  If I don't hear back from a winner within 48 hours, I'll choose somebody new.  Good luck!

PS.  If you don't win the gift card, or I guess even if you do, you can use coupon code lastmomonearth10off to get 10% off of any order at Shabby Apple.  Coupon expires July 14th, 2012.


My Artist's Way Toolkit - BlogHer Book Club Review

Have you heard of the book, The Artist's Way?  I didn't know anything about it when I signed up to review the online tool, The Artist's Way Toolkit.  I was interested in getting a few months of free access to the toolkit, because I've been trying to find some ways to get inspired and stay creatively productive.

So, what is the toolkit?  When you log in you create a contract with yourself stating that you're committed to daily creativity. You can read some positive words of affirmation and listen to inspiring sound bites, which are like... totally stupid.  Is anybody actually inspired by those kinds of things?  Maybe they are.  I see a lot of posters on pinterest that say things like, "Yesterday is gone, tomorrow hasn't happened yet.  All you really have is today," or whatever.  So, maybe you would enjoy these daily affirmations and sound bites.  All they managed to do was make me roll my eyes, which I'm good at and probably do a lot.

There is more to it, though.  The meat of The Artist's Way Toolkit are exercises like daily pages and artist's dates, and creative prompts.  I actually didn't mind this part, except that I didn't do any of it with any kind of perseverance.

The reason I wanted to try the toolkit was to try to muster up some ways to get and stay motivated to create, and it didn't really help with that.  I guess that if I'd already discovered some hearty motivation, I would have found the exercises to be helpful and inspiring.  My problem was that, I already didn't have time and energy to pursue my creativity.  Adding homework didn't do anything for me, even if it was interesting.

The morning pages are a nice idea.  Upon waking, you're supposed to write three pages, long hand, of anything that's on your mind.  If I didn't get woken up by my four year old every day, and if my one year old didn't soon follow... if I didn't have breakfast to get ready, diapers, getting everybody dressed, summer camp, errands etc as soon as I woke up, morning pages might have helped me put together some ideas for blog posts or stories.  Who knows?  It's a nice idea, right?

Also, the artist's dates are a cute idea.  You're given an assignment like, "Visit a part of your city you've never explored."  Stepping out of your routine and seeing new things are meant to stimulate your inner artist.  I agree with this idea.  I get really inspired when I do something novel, visit new places and see new things.  I feel like I already incorporate this into my life, so while the date ideas were interesting, I didn't feel like I really needed them.

I suppose my problems with the toolkit might just be a personality thing.  I am not really a structured exercises kind of person.  My creativity doesn't really work that way.  I am more of a mood swings and mental problems kind of artist.  I think maybe I just get inspired by different things.  Maybe you'd like it, I don't know. 

Do you want to find out what the other BlogHer Bloggers thought of the My Artist's Way ToolkitClick here to find out.

I was compensated for this review, but everything I said was true and my own opinion.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Operation Happy Daddy

While I love you so much for believing that I do ANYTHING gracefully, I have to be honest with you.  I don't.

I don't even walk gracefully.  I think I have an idea that I'm much smaller than I am.  I'm always ramming into doorways and knocking things off of shelves with my butt, tripping over things, dropping things, over and over.  I'm a mess.

I also don't emote gracefully.  I explode and I cry and say bad swears about people and take a garbage bag out of the pantry with a dramatic SWISH and start tossing in everybody's belongings.  Except that I'll reach out to grasp a ceramic frog and I don't have any idea where it came from, all I know is that he's cute and I've had him for longer than I can remember, and so I leave him where he is.  Because he's mine, truthfully, and I always feel like everybody else stuff bothers me so much more than my own.

Kurt isn't happy.  He has forgotten how to be happy, I think.  I won't get too far into it, because well... it's probably none of your business.  Just know that, as soon as our first daughter was born, he jumped into a selfless, tireless kind of existing where he made sure that I wasn't going insane, tried to make me happy by cleaning and caring for the baby, by scheduling in time for me to remember myself, by taping all of his sporting events and watching them at 2am, after I've gone to bed.

Pregnant with our second daughter, I kicked him out of our bed so that I could stack an air mattress on top of our regular mattress because it was the only way I could sleep.  When Louise was born, he stayed up late with her, already accustomed to being alone on the couch watching tv until he fell asleep.

He's a really good dad and the kind of husband that people call their friends about and say, "Guess what?  I met this girl today who said that her husband does the dishes and stays up with the baby and slept on the couch so he wouldn't disturb her sleep when she was pregnant."

He's really, really good.

Except that lately, his goodness has become a kind of pathological unhappiness, and yesterday he walked up the hill from the train after work in the pouring rain, walked in the door all soaking in his buttoned up work clothes, took off his shoes and set his things down and immediately started folding laundry.

I snapped.

I started bawling.

It isn't normal.  He barely even eats because he finds carrying bagged lunches on the train depressing and doesn't want to spend money.  He never asks for a day or an afternoon or an hour to himself.  His work shirts are almost all gray.  I cried and cried and cried and told him that I wanted him to be happy.

He believes that he has to be a cog in the middle of our family.  He wants us to be happy and comfortable, and so he's been reduced to a task completer.  He works and hands me the money.  I freak out and throw things away when our house is a mess, so he quietly follows behind me, cutting a hole in my garbage bag and putting things back where they belong.  I went crazy after I had both of my babies and my eyes were rimmed in red and I couldn't eat or sleep, so he took the baby out of my hands and told me to go lie down, that he would take care of everything.  He doesn't complain, he doesn't get upset.  He just quietly goes about our life, making sure that everybody else is okay.

And then one day, we're out at a crappy pizza restaurant because I couldn't muster the nerve to go grocery shopping with the girls, and I look across the table at him, and I can almost see through him.  He's holding out a fork with a bite of pizza out to Louise and nodding at a story that Scouty is telling in her indecipherable dragon language, and me?  Who knows what I'm doing?  Probably hunching over my plate with a string of cheese trailing out of my mouth onto my plate.  (I told you that I don't do anything gracefully.)

I look across the table at him, and he's barely touched his food.  He's wearing a gray button up shirt and he's tired and pale.  He's gotten older and I can't even remember the last time I thought he seemed honestly, for his own reasons, really joyful or happy.  I can't remember the last time he seemed excited about something or animated about something.  (Admittedly, he is not really an animated sort of person, but still.)

My husband is beautiful and perfect and kind and selfless, and he's not happy.

It's the saddest and most terrible thing I've ever seen.

The worst part is that I'm sure it's my fault.

Instead of allowing myself to dwell on all the times I've been moody and bossy and selfish and terrible and hard to know, which is like... pretty much ALL THE TIME, I'm going to try to find a way to turn it all around.  This means I'm abandoning operation juice fast and operation creativity and operation clean house, and focusing all of my resources (which include TWO perfect, sweet-cheeked little girls) and we're starting operation Assist Daddy In Recovering His Will To Live.  Also known as, Operation Happy Daddy.

PS. We're taking suggestions.


Monday, June 11, 2012

New Deal

I have to complete one project today.  It's my new deal.  This week, I am going to start something creative and finish it, every day.

I've got loose ends flying around all over the place.  I have all of these good intentions to be amazing, but then Louise asks if they can watch Yo Gabba Gabba and it's so easy and comfortable when they're sitting there with a bowl of snacks.  I kind of inch backward until I'm out of their sight so that I can do dishes or read a few pages of something I can't get into or balance our budget. 

I feel like I should get dressed, but we end up playing upstairs and I kind of lay on the edge of my bed while they bounce, and it just feels so easy and soft.

I decide that we should go on an adventure, but then they just play so nicely in Scouty's room together, and everything is still and so I halfheartedly put away some laundry and quietly die from the sameness of everything.

I believe the thing that people are always saying about how YOU get to decide who you are.  It's not easy, realizing you're powerful and then wielding that power, but I believe it's an option.  I think it's especially hard for some people who have trouble focusing on things for very long, people like me.  Do you know how many "new deals" I've had in my lifetime?  About a million.  I get all wobbly and feathery like a ribbon with a fraying end.  I mean to live with purpose, and then the wind shifts and I end up wrapped around a light pole with my mesh coming undone, just wiggling aimlessly in the wind.

So, I make little goals.  Like today, I'm going to start something creative and finish it.  I want to write, every day.  I want to finish a book.  I'm just very far away from structure and control, right now.  I'm just very scraped across the rocks.  My baby is almost two years old and I am finding that I have little bits of time and energy to put towards something.  I have to start slowly, though, because there's no way I will be able to jump from being harried and invisible and too tired to think, a mom of a baby and toddler... to a person who can keep a schedule and has personal goals and the time and energy to realize them.

When I wrote my first book, I started when Scouty turned two.  I can feel it coming up on me, a time where I look around and realize that every day isn't so hard, the way it is when you're a NEW MOM of two.  I'm a mom of two, and I've had a few years to get used to it.  I guess I'm not there, just yet, but I feel it coming.  If I keep taking baby steps, pretty soon, I'll have an exercise schedule, we'll have a pantry full of groceries at all times, everybody will get dressed in actual clothes every day, I'll be able to make things with my hands, I'll write back to people and spend time with people and keep up with them,  I'll be able to get away in the evenings to write.  I'll feel like a person, if I take it slow, maybe I'll even remember what it feels like to not be too tired and stressed out to want to have sex.  (Maybe.  We'll see.)

That's why I make new deals.  Today, I just have to get something done.  Well, and I have to get showered and dressed.  Wish me luck. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

We could throw a wild party for monsters and grow fur and horns.

I feel very disconnected from my sexuality, from sensuality and life passion.  Being a mom of young kids will do that to you, I think.  I feel disconnected from artistry, from creating, from being something of my choosing.

Life is hard for everybody.

I feel fortunate to suffer the things I suffer.  The woe of a sunlit city street, a nice neighborhood, two pink cheeked little girls sleeping in matching pajama sets down the hall.

I am in here, somewhere.

I am arguing with an urge to make things, little creatures.  I want to sew little monsters with crooked stitches.  I want them to surround me, a private studio of whimsy and madness.  I want to be a tick-tock professor and wear a manacle, rigging things up to clockwork.  Dolls with chipped faces and taxidermy that waves a tiny, furry hand in welcome.

I think it's safe to say that I am ready for something different.

Making breakfast takes time, so does getting everybody dressed.  We're always late and I'm always trying to shake myself out of a space where I'm buttering bread with unfocused eyes, where I'm plating pancakes while staring through the wall.  I'm not present, because I'm not the thing I want to be.  Having kids is an excuse for not writing, not creating, not being a fucking weirdo with a house full of hand-stitched things.

The thing is, we could use our time a lot better.  Instead of putting the girls in front of the tv while I scramble to clean, cook and clean and cook, eventually making our way to the library or the park where I sit on a bench and stare through the world, imagining and occasionally checking my phone... we could just live more imaginatively.

We could go on adventures, which would require that I not succumb to the feeling that adventures are a lot of work and trouble.

We could paint our faces and build a teepee in the yard.

We could throw a wild party for monsters and grow fur and horns.

I find myself squeezing my passion into tiny boxes.  I'll feel sexual once or twice a year when I dress up for a wedding or our anniversary date.  I'll feel creative for an hour in the morning, as long as the girls don't wake up and interrupt me.  I'll love something alone, in the evenings, as long as I've managed to fit a workout in while Scout was at school and Louise was napping.  It's not real suffering, but it's long.  It makes every day long, when I don't love something until it falls apart.

Creative breakfast settings.  Trying new things, exploring new places.  Making something alive, with my hands.  Enjoying my body.  Feeling something explosive.   Allowing frustration and fury, not pressing them down, not holding them in with a rattling lid.  Turning them into something bizarre and inspired.  I need to try some new things.  I'm turning off the tv, this week.  I'm ignoring our self-imposed schedule.  We're not going to the park.  A trip to the grocery store will not be our activity for the day.  I've got two little partners in adventure, and we need to shake things up.

they were only supposed to get their TOES wet, and ended up with impromptu pants made out of mommy and daddy's sweatshirts.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

It looked like a sea of leaves.

I've been a little bit weird. 

I get lost.

I've always thought it might be nice to be somebody with a lot of people in my life; one of those women who have an open door, who have friends who stand next to them at the kitchen counter. 

I look down, too often, though.  I focus on the mess of strings in my hands, on picking acorns out of the mud of the path, fastening my bike to the rack.  I make plans that take us away for the weekend.  Sometimes, I feel like I've forgotten how to be easy and open, how to welcome.

I sleep in bed with my girl, and wake up with a stiff neck in a universe of quiet of love.  I have breakfast with my kids, plan small things like weaving placemats out of paper and picking strawberries before the sun climbs too high in the sky.  I dig little holes in my garden and place my tomato plants on their sides.  I know everything about the root of a tomato plant, about the place where the fruit touches the branch.  The green bruise left behind when I pull off the stem.  A little circle of space where the plant gave life to the fruit.  It's closed and darling and smooth, like the place on my baby's belly where she used to be attached to me.

I know too many things about slugs and potato bugs, about salt and crushing berries against the bottom of a stainless steel bowl.  I know all about loving people, and about being far away.

When I became pregnant with Scouty, I had spent roughly ten years alienating myself from all of the non-drug people in my life.  Some of them, like my family, rolled their eyes at me, woke up in the morning annoyed.  Most of them saw me through a pane of watery glass, like I chose something other than them.  I did.  I chose something other.

With a baby in my belly, I also had no choice but to immediately cease contact, even casual contact, with everybody who had ever seen me stick a needle in my arm.  I had to close my phone, move into the country, and never talk to those people again.  People who lived under the glass.  They weren't a part of my life, anymore.

Sometimes women talk about losing themselves in motherhood.  I was already lost. I haven't suffered loss.  My hobbies haven't suffered.  I didn't give anything up that I'd want back.

Maybe I meant to sit down and write an apology.  I'm sorry that there are weeks between my calls, that sometimes, I am faraway, that I seek out spaces where I can lift my hems and pry up river rocks until the sun is golden through the trunks of trees and I'm running out of time.  I was alone for so long, it stopped being lonely.

I'm a person of green spaces and roots that grow along a stem, of being caught in headlights, talking to myself under the moon.  I made up the world a long time ago, and it looked like a sea of leaves with a thousand whispering voices.  I tie string to things, keep bits of yarn in jars.  And I love you.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Men and fishermen - Writing Challenge Piece

She leaned in near to the mirror, applying coral lipstick and perfecting it with the tip of her finger.  She would leave in a minute to watch the boats come in.

In summer, tourists gathered at the docks with their cameras, waiting for husbands and sons to come back from a rousing day at sea.  Wobbling on deck, pink and sun stroked, the boys held up trigger fish with bulging eyes and rectums, the pressure of their ascent having killed them from the inside.

Men wanted to be fishermen.  That was a truth about life she'd always known.

She didn't crane her neck and shield her eyes against the sun.  She wasn't new to the arrival of the boats.  Her husband, he had a child somewhere.  He left a woman and their home.  He bought a boat, now stained green and weathered with time.  He was a captain, and didn't love anything but the rock and moan of the inlet, the feathery kiss of sea spray off the bow.  And her; he must have loved her.

He hadn't been happy in a home with a fence and a garden.  He took pills.  He stole from their savings account.  He might have been happy, but he was locked in on all sides and it gave him fever.  He collapsed on the kitchen floor and broke his nose.  His little girl slipped in the blood.  He made them cry and that drowned his heart forever.

She put on lipstick because he liked it.  It reminded him of the first time they met.  She'd been one of those waving women, squealing over the day's catch sliding against the splintery surface of the pier.

He'd taken her out on his boat, telling her to hold on to the railing as they passed through the channel. She reached for him, instead, the tight cord of his forearm.  She kissed him, and kissed him, wearing a patch of skin raw on her chin, and lipstick the color of coral.


This is my entry in this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.  The deal is that you have to write a story, using 33-333 words, and using the third definition of a given word.  This week's word was new.

I haven't been able to get the idea of fishermen out of my head, even though I learned last week that I get sea sick.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

But It Will - Writing Challenge Piece

It wasn't the first time I was afraid. My life was a dull fearful hum. I felt it for the first time, though.

A nurse said, "She's hungry."

I thought, "Death mustn't ever touch me."

But it will.

newborn scouty


This was my entry for Trifecta's Weekend Challenge.  I had to use 33 additional words to complete a story that started with "It wasn't the first time." 


eShakti Review and some thoughts about clothes.

I've been talking a lot about beauty, lately.

Here's something else.

Try wearing clothes that make the YOU inside shine through to the outside.  Forget about covering parts of yourself up. If you've got a belly, let yourself have a belly.  It's a part of you and you're an awesome person who does amazing things.  If you've got thighs, let your thighs be thighs.  They don't look any prettier stuffed into ridiculous spandex tubes.  Forget about following rules about what you should and shouldn't wear and worrying about what's fashionable.  You're the thing that's beautiful.  Be as you as you can be and you'll look like a million bucks.

eShakti offered to send me a dress.  They said I could pick anything I wanted, so I picked a bright red strawberry picking dress.  Click through for photos and to find out what I thought. 


Friday, June 1, 2012

Leaving things behind...

I'm really busy, today.  I'm packing up our tumbling apart car with all of our worn and loved blankies and our new, family sized tent so that we can go camping in the rain.

I was just thinking, though, while I stalled... eating a bowl of cereal instead of finding a hammer and rinsing all of the spider webs off of the tarp.

I was thinking about being high.

Sometimes it sounds pretty great.  To be young and awful again.  To get wasted and be naked and full of abandon.  To stay up all night, feeling like the queen of some alternate universe where everybody worships madness and feeling.

I was thinking about how it's been 6 years since I've done heroin.

I don't have a hard fought story about rehab and sobriety.  In fact, you'll never hear me mention the word "sobriety," because that's not how I feel about leaving that drug behind.  I don't feel like it's still a battle inside of me, that I'll always be an addict.  I might think it sounds nice, sometimes.  I definitely might think it sounds easy.  But it never sounds like something I might actually do, or even thinking about doing.

I haven't, not even for a moment, considered doing drugs since the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first baby.  It was the easiest choice in the world, for me.  I could choose myself and my shitty troubles, or I could choose my babies and all the glory and light they deserve.  There has never been a moment of struggle, not with being sober, I mean.  I've struggled with my sanity and my self-worth and rejection and disorganization and failure.  I've struggled plenty, but not with staying away from drugs.  I couldn't give less of a fuck about heroin, and it meant a lot to me, at one time in my life.

It wasn't about what people might think, either.  I have a long history with people thinking bad things about me and my choices and capabilities.  I won't go as far as to say that I don't care what people think, because I want to be a positive thing, in the world.  I want to make people feel happy about living.  I want people to have better lives, for knowing me.  But, as far as somebody's opinion of the things I believe and the choices I make... I mean.  Some people's opinions of me matter, and a lot of people opinions of me might, I don't know.  I've never made any of my life choices based on whether or not somebody might be shaking their head at me, behind my back.  I didn't give up my old lifestyle because I was afraid I might look like a bad mom.

I gave up that lifestyle because I knew that if I didn't, I would BE a bad mom.

Being outspoken and having kooky hairstyles are choices that people roll their eyes at, but they don't make me a bad mom.  Telling the truth about where I've come from makes some people nervous about me, but it doesn't make me a bad mom.  Refusing to buy my children pink, plastic toys with huge boobs and pretty eyelashes causes some people to label me in an unflattering way, but I'm still a good mom.  Even if Barbie thinks I should lighten up or I'm going to turn my girls into fat lesbos, or something.

Choosing myself and my shortcomings over the happiness of my girls would make me a shitty mom.  Abandoning my girls emotionally so that I could avoid my past and troubles and manufacture a good feeling would make me a shitty mom.  Exposing my family to the possibility of trouble, to poisonous people, to any circumstance that could separate us, would make me a shitty mom.

There's a big difference between making unpopular or weird choices, and making shitty ones.  I'm allowed to be myself, I'm allowed to have come where I came from.  I'm allowed to say, "I used to be a junky, but I gave it up for my kids."  I can cut my hair any way I want.  I can wear whatever I want.  I can be whatever shape I want to be.  I can say what I want to say and believe what I want to believe.  And so YOU better believe that every kooky, weird and unpopular choice I make is because I'm a fucking amazing mom.

I do everything I do with eyes that are seeing my daughters when they are 30 years old.  It's okay if they say someday, "Mom never let us have Monster High dolls and everybody else had them."  It would never, in a million years, be okay if they were able to look back on our life together and say, "Mom didn't think of us before she thought of herself."

I don't know what the point of all this was.  Maybe I'm still stalling.  I just love my kids, you guys.