Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stay frozen and clean...





This summer makes me feel like I must be very lucky, to have a life like this. 




I sort of feel like there is nothing better than building a fire, the smell of smoke.  I feel like winter will never come again, like it isn't real.  It's a white washed place where I keep memories so that they stay frozen and clean.  Twinkling lights and the soft hiss of a vaporizer.  A cough coming from the hallway.




We put food coloring in water balloons and froze them. It was one hundred degrees, and we had colorful globes of ice to play with.  We carried them on a sled.  It is summer, finally, in my heart.




I feel like maybe I dream you.  Glitter and tiny houses with crumbling roofs.  Black-brown eyes with tiny squares of light, reflecting the sun in the window.  I feel like these quiet afternoons, while the baby sleeps in her dark, air-conditioned room, are when we really belong to each other.  I let you choose how we spend our time.  You're a scientist.




You said to me, "Isn't it weird that we're all in outer space?  We just can't feel it because we're stuck on the earth."  
I said to you, "You're so smart.  You're the smartest girl who ever lived."





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Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 22 of my Modified Juice Fast

Green Monster #2
photo andrea parrish


I'm on Day 22 of my fast, and I'm ready to slowly start adding foods besides fruits and veggies back into my diet.  (I've written about it here, and here and here.)

I'm leaving to be in a wedding a few days after the end of my fast, and we're leaving from the wedding to go on vacation.  I want to work some other foods in slowly, starting now, so that by the time I get to the wedding, I'm able to eat food without throwing up.  I don't know how readily available fresh juice will be for a few days, until I get my juicer set up at our beach house.  I think it's important that I'm not coming off of a strict fast at that time or I'll feel like crap.

So, after 22 days of nothing but fresh fruits and veggies, I guess it's not really a fast, anymore.  I'm going to start with nuts and seeds, maybe move on to beans and lentils and eventually tofu and gluten free grain.  I'm ready for this, but it's also a little bit sad.  It felt good to exercise so much power over what I was eating.  Having such rigid guidelines made eating easy and instantly healthy.  But, it's healthy to eat other things, too. 

Something about this fast, is that it changed the way I was seeing food, which is what I wanted it to do.  Eating is a VERY mindful thing for me, now.  I would need to think very hard about putting something unhealthy into my body after 22 days of nothing but loads of vegetables.  I don't feel like I'm willing to do it, even.  I have no desire for veggie dogs and candy, right now.  (I'm not saying I'll feel this way forever, but right now, it seems like a terrible thing to eat something that would make me sicker, instead of healthier.)

After being so careful about everything I've been eating, and feeling so good and looking so glowy... I definitely will weigh everything I'm putting into my body carefully.  At the beginning of my fast, it seemed like... on day 31, I would like, run to the frozen yogurt shop, because I mean, holy hell.  Weeks and weeks without a single bite of sugar?  But, I don't feel excited about the prospect of sugar, right now.  I feel excited about being pain free and healthy, instead.  I feel excited that I figured out that I can feel better than I did before.  I feel excited about seasons of healthy food and cooking and feeling in control.  I don't feel tempted or out of control. 

Before, I just kind of ate whatever happened to be in front of me throughout the day, while my mind was on other things. As of this moment, I've spent weeks thinking carefully about different foods and what they mean to me.  For 22 days, I've gotten into the habit of not taking a single bite of food without thinking about it, first.  I feel like this must be a pretty important thing, for me.  I feel like I'm coming from a pretty healthy place.  I'm ready for some almond butter and chia seeds and hemp powder smoothies.  I'll take it little step by little step from here.


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Friday, July 27, 2012

It is hard to live without dying, but it is the easiest thing in the world, too.

For me, motherhood isn't mostly hard, but so worth it.

It isn't easy, either.

Motherhood isn't running me ragged.  It's not a reason to break open a bottle of wine with my girlfriends!  It's not missed showers and unbrushed teeth, and we're all getting through this together.

For me, motherhood is a hand, holding my face into the soil after it rains.  Motherhood is the snapping of limbs, the splitting of swollen skin.  It is the painstaking formation of a skeleton, growing grain by grain.

Motherhood made a person out of me.  Of course it created my mommy character, frazzled and isolated and in love.  It turned me into a person who can sleep at night.  It gave me songs to sing, eyes for early mornings.  It gave me a deep well of otherworldly patience.  It did all of those things, but there is more to this than what you see.  There is more to this than being able to fold a stroller and wrestle it into the trunk, one handed.

I didn't come from anywhere.

My childhood was a river of sorrow, and I was a bobbing shard of debris.  I hated myself from the moment I was born.  I blamed myself for the dysfunction of the adults in my life.  I was born bad.  If I hadn't been born with such a big mouth and so needy, my mother might have been happy.  If I hadn't been born like a skinless baby bird, if I hadn't always been reaching my face skyward, my dad could have loved me.

I was a selfish child.  I wanted to talk to my mother too much.  I was sensitive.  The things my father did hurt me, ripped my self-esteem away like the skin from an only nearly-dead rabbit.  I hung from the branch of a tree, hemorrhaging.

I learned how to be desperate, early on.  I wasn't one of those kids who could make their eyes go blank.  I was big, too.  I didn't know how to fold into myself, putting my wing over my head.  I was slippery and pink and wet.  I cried out loud.  I floundered and wailed.  I made deals.  I stole things from my mother, picking through her jewelry box full of plastic stones and pins silently, my heart thudding in my chest.  Left alone, I would go through my parent's bedroom like a quiet criminal, looking for pieces of them.

I wanted to eat them.  I wanted to eat everything.  I wanted to be full.  I made cuts on my body that didn't bleed.  I took pills from people's bathrooms.  I dangled from a rope until I was bled white.  I got angry.

My anger kept me company at the alter.  It held my hand, forced its way down my throat, under everything that was looming, holy.  My anger became like god.  It moved mountains.  It gave me strength.  I took things that weren't mine.  It gave me iron in my blood, allowed things to clot and harden on the surface of me.  Every dig, every comment, every time someone suggested that I wasn't good enough, I tore their intentions from their open palms, leaving dark smears that made them cringe and wipe their hands on their pants.  Every suggestion of my failure, I coveted them, crushed them between my fingers and ate them hungrily.  I was hungry and I ate my failure.

The only way to escape the stains was to dream.  I loved music.  I talked to myself in the night.  I stopped trying.  I started making things up.  I told lies.  I grew up and let boys from bad homes, boys without homes, boys who were no longer human, boys who spent the night in jail, boys who shoved me and ripped the pages from my books, boys who laughed at me, who held holy court with other girls in my bed.  I let them piss all over me.  I stuck a needle in my arm.  I woke up in the morning with a humming fear in my bones, making my teeth chatter and my lips numb.

I drowned in a sea of shit.  I laid down in the gutter.  In the morning, men came and took me away in trucks that were mechanized to crush and squeeze and destroy me.  I laid my head on a mountain of filth, slept there, and stayed so long I became fused with the dark and the maggots.  I was crushed so many times, in so many ways, I turned to dust and spread myself thinly over the surface of the earth.  Nobody would know me, now.

I met the love of my life there.  He was bent and bloody, too.  He was mangled and sick.  He is now the father of my children.  They are my motherhood.  They are my dishes and boredom and girl's night.  They are my worn down athletic shoes and skipped showers.  Becoming a mother was peeling away the scab of anger that covered me, it was torturing myself, remembering how I wasn't loved.  It was gathering all the parts of myself that had been obliterated, and breathing life into them.  It was the sting of a limb filling with blood.  It was the first breath of a ragged, torn lung.  Motherhood is hard for me because it is hard to build a person out of shit.  It is hard to make something perfect and dewy and clean and new where there was only ash and spit.  It is hard to live without dying, but it is the easiest thing in the world, too.

It is easy to love someone when you weren't loved.  It's all I've been dreaming about, my whole life.  The light of this love, it's what I dreamed with my face in the mud.  It is the sound I heard in music.  It is why I went away and died, scattered like the stars on a black sky.  I preserved my love in a vial of salt.


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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Spring Reading, a little late.

Libraries are Creepy
photo by paul lowry


Every few months I post about the books I've been reading.  I have to say, I'm a little ashamed of myself.  I went through a rut where I wasn't reading very much, and the things I did read were well... full of magical teenagers fighting magical bad guys.  I did read some good things, though.


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - I just finished this book, and it is the reason I wanted to do a post about reading.  It was absolutely exquisite.  I LOVED it.  Several people recommended it to me, but when I saw that it was about dueling magicians, I thought... um, what?  I finally decided to read it and I'm so glad I did.  The Night Circus is beautiful and imaginative and romantic.  It is absolutely a piece of art.

The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins- This is a book about gypsies, and it was wonderful.  Very rich and atmospheric.  The storytelling feels authentic.  I read it at the beach and it was a perfect, fast moving, relaxing book.

Stranger Will by Caleb J. Ross -  This book has gotten a lot of edgy, boy book buzz as being awesome.  My opinion is that it totally sucked and I didn't even finish it.  It was trying way too hard to be The Wasp Factory or one of those other in your face, masculine books about depraved people shooting dogs, or whatever.  I'm not even immune to those kinds of books.  I can enjoy them, but this felt too much like the author just wanted to be part of the boy book club, and didn't put anything authentic or risky into writing it.  Very generic and unimpressive.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman - This is a YA book about a girl who gets into a car accident and watches the aftermath as a kind of half-alive ghost.  If that sort of thing sounds appealing to you, you might like this book.  I don't know, it was fine.  The writing was totally cheesy.  There were a lot of cool, rocker characters that were totally unrealistic and stupid.  I hate it when people try to write hip characters.  They always read like the author is a total nerd.  But, mostly, this was a run of the mill YA book about a run of the mill scenario.  I didn't hate reading it, and I've read way better books of this genre.

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare - I'm sorry.  This is the second book in a YA series about magical vampires and werewolves fighting an evil "shadowhunter"named Valentine.  It is full of sexy teen boys taking off their shirts and kissing girls.  It is totally stupid, and I kind of love it.  I am planning to read all 5 books.  I can't recommend it outright, because if you read it, you'll know how stupid I am for liking it.  Again, the writing is totally cheeseball, the characters are all "cool" and the story is about... well, magical teenagers. It's still kind of awesome.


So, there you have it.  This was totally pitiful.  I feel the need to redeem myself.  My book review post in the fall will be full of good books with actual merit.  I promise.  So, go read The Night Circus.


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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How easily things are broken



I am alone on an island.  I don't dare open my eyes.  This is the afternoon where I gave up.

This is soft red upholstery and the reclining position.

I woke up with a pain in my foot.  I wake up with pains, sometimes, like I traveled a great distance while I slept.  This morning, I came back from summer camp as a teenager.  A creaky cabin that appeared to be a single room, except that in the dark, the nothing went on forever.  My hands held in front of my face, groping in shadows.  I laughed, too, because you were with me, though you weren't.

I have dreams where I'm young and lost, but I know something, too.  I know that someday, I'll lie next to you.  We will be married, I'll wear a borrowed dress and there will be a baby at my feet and another in my belly.  In my nightmares, I don't have anything to be afraid of.

My nightmares are all about being young, and I've outgrown that, now.

So, I woke up and hobbled down the stairs.  My red haired baby, so tall she could touch the sun.  She sat on the floor surrounded by three stuffed dragons, talking to them in her dragon language.  Sometimes I say to her, "Use your big girl voice, please," and she gets tears in her eyes and says, "This is my dragon voice.  I am a dragon."

I told her, mommy hurt her foot.

She said, "Oh no!  But who will cook our food?  I see you can walk a little bit, right?  Let's see if you can make it to the kitchen," and started dragging a chair from the living room to the stove.

This is a wonderful, beautiful thing, to live like I do.  This is a blessed thing full of luck.

Sometimes I think you might not be real, the you in my memory.  The you who showed up at my house on Friday evenings, you who I showered for and shaved.  You, who I paced the floor for, positioned myself carefully on my beaten up sofa.  Lit candles for, hustled together drugs for.  Saved things for.  Shared things.  You.  I remember sitting naked in your lap as the sun came up.  You had to be at work, and your alarm was sounding from the bedroom.  We heard your neighbors in the hallway, waking up and shuffling out the door.  We didn't sleep.  I remember staining you, writing you lurid letters that sent you running through the parking lot on lunch break.  Waiting with my ear to the door.  You'd be here soon.

Now, we're like stars, with all the space between us.  We share the sky and it's ours.  Our children have big brown eyes that make me worry, how beautiful they are and how easily things are broken.  I can't always reach you with my fingers.

Today is another day where I am old, where I stand at the sink and give up on the laundry.  I give up on the sweeping and the toys.  Today is a day where I left the windows down in the car during a storm, where the wind blew the covering off of the pool.  It is another day where sunlight is only sunlight, and not evidence of the time that is passing too slowly until I can see you again.


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I linked up with Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary's Just Write, today.  Do you have a moment to free write about your day?  Click here to link up, and find some beautiful writers.



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Monday, July 23, 2012

Annabella and the Lion - Writing Challenge Piece



I wandered the park all afternoon, waiting for nightfall.  I made my way to the top of Prospect Hill and sat down, watching everything from above.  The zoo keepers kept the ground around the lion's cage swept remarkably clean.  The balloon man chained his cart to a pole and wiped his brow with his sleeve.  The carousel lights came on, the sound of the calliope music reaching me on the wind in distorted bits and pieces.  The penguins slid on their bellies down an iceberg made of glass, their enclosure lit from below so that the blue-white ground glowed softly.

I had been coming to the zoo since I was a child.  My mother and brothers used to accompany me, but they all lost interest years ago.  I had three brothers, all of them older.  One of them was away at school on a football scholarship.  The other two drove race cars.  I wrote stories.  My mother stuck one of them to the front of the refrigerator door, once, but I knew she'd never read it.  My mother was a ballerina in her youth, and now she attended dinner parties while my father was away.

My father was a collector for the African display at the museum.  He brought me the skeleton of a gaboon viper on one of his rare visits.  "This is largest viper in the world," he'd said, carefully placing the glass display case in my lap.  The bones coiled around and around themselves.  Looking at it was dizzying.  I placed it on a shelf above my bed, but couldn't sleep.  I hated it, the shape of its gaping mouth casting a shadow on my wall in the night, so I took it into the yard and buried it while everyone slept.


Sometimes, I rattled a stick on the bars of the lion's cage until he paced and bobbed his giant head up and down.  Once, he became so agitated, he roared; so fierce and loud a sound that a crowd of people gathered, begging me to make him do it again.  I couldn't bring myself to bang on the cage with everyone looking.  The truth was that I only busied myself with the lion so that I could stay in close proximity to the carousel.  She loved the zoo, too.  She only came at sundown, just like me.  She always wore a red ribbon in her hair.

That evening, she was riding the pink and white pony, the one with shimmering gold reigns.  She wore a white dress cinched at the waist with her hair tied into an impossibly neat arrangement of curls that cascaded over her shoulder and tumbled down her breast, the red ribbon holding them into place.  She smiled at me.  I waved my lion stick at her, feeling like a child.  As the carousel turned, she looked for me, meeting my eyes and licking sticky cotton candy from her fingertips.

No one ever spoke to her, but we all knew her name.  Her father was a billionaire who collected airplanes as a hobby, and they lived in a house with white pillars that sat grandly alone on the top of a hill that overlooked the city.  Her mother died in childbirth, or at least that was what was rumored.  She had no siblings and seemingly not any friends, but a different young lady attended her almost every time I saw her, both of them dressed impeccably and carrying parasols and fans on warm days.  Only, Annabella Clare let hers droop at her side, her fan trailing behind her in the dirt, fastened to her wrist by a long string.

I loved her impossibly.  Sometimes, I lay awake all night talking to her, pretending that the shape of my pillow might be her body, close to me and warm in the dark.  She was the only person in the world as lonely as I was.  I saw it in the blue green of her eyes, the same color as the wavering light beams on the floor of the aquarium at night.

I knew how to sneak into the zoo after it closed..  Or rather, I knew how to hide so that I would get closed in with the animals after the parrot lady and ape scientists went home to their families.  I told her so, the only time I'd been brash enough to speak with her.  As the carousel stopped spinning, I crashed impulsively through the hedges that surrounded it, leaning over the iron fence and calling to her, "I need to talk to you."

I startled her and she gasped, but there was something of a smile on her lips.  She glanced over her shoulder for her attendant.

"I'm sorry," I said, "But I have something I'd like to show you.  In the zoo, at night, after everyone has gone away.  I know how.  I can sneak us in."

She laughed then, and I thought my heart would break.  Her teeth were so white and neatly lined up; the sound of her laughter was like the tinkling of a field of glass flowers in a breeze.

"If you would come with me..." I said, my voice breaking and trailing off.

She sat still atop her pink horse, looking at me for what felt like hours, my confidence diminishing with every passing second.  A branch was sticking me in the seat of my pants.  I spit out an errant pine needle.  "What's your name?" she finally said.

"Andrew," I answered.

"Find me the next time you are here, Andrew," she said, jumping from her horse and disappearing around the bend of the carousel.

That was a week ago, and I hadn't seen her since.  I thought that I might have scared her away, that she would steer clear of this place, from now on.  The lion was asleep in the corner of his cage.  I stepped over the chain, looking around to make sure no one was looking, and reached through the bars to pet his mane.  His eyes fluttered open and regarded me for a moment, before they closed again and a low purr emitted from his throat.

"What are you doing?" came her voice from behind me.

I felt suddenly too nervous to look up at her.  I wanted to stay like this, crouching next to the lion and feeling the wild heat of his fur.  In a rustle of skirts, she stepped over the heavy chain and knelt next to me.  She smelled like honey and soap.  "Will he hurt me?" she asked, extending her hand toward the bars.

I looked up at her; into the beauty of her porcelain face and remarkable blue-green eyes.  She smiled at me.  "I don't know," I said.  "I don't think so.  He's never hurt me."

She took a deep breath, and reached for my hand.  I locked my fingers with hers.  A hot urge to grab her and crush her against my body passed through my veins and settled there, not quite extinguishing.  Her hand was small and warm in mine.  She wrapped her long fingers lightly through the lion's mane and scratched behind his ear.  He groaned a little bit, a soft cat sound, and purred for her, too.


--------------------------------------------

This piece is an entry in the Trifecta Writing Challenge.  This week, we were given 333-3,333 words to write whatever we wanted.  I wanted to write about an enchanted zoo.



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Juice Fast - Day 15

Grape Cool-aid
photo by corbin_dana


Today is Day 15 of my modified Juice Fast, which I wrote about here and here.

For the past 14 days I have eaten fruits and vegetables and nothing else.  I've been juicing 2 times per day.  I've figured out that I have a food sensitivity that was causing joint pain and irritability, which cleared up about three days into my fast.

Also, my skin is so clear and glowing and gorgeous.

Overall, it's been pretty awesome.

I have to admit that I'm kind of losing my excitement, though.  I have to admit that the idea of eating another big salad kind of makes me want to barf.  I have to admit that I made fajita veggies with tamari and hot sauce last night, and they tasted so salty to me that I actually DID barf.

The fact of the matter is that you can only eat piles of vegetables so many times in a row before everything starts to make you faintly ill.  Just thinking about cauliflower turns my stomach.

I need a boost of confidence.

For the first week of the fast, the mere fact that I was actually DOING IT was enough to keep me going.  I felt so proud of myself for sticking with something so revolutionary.  I felt like I was really taking control of things and getting my health back.

As time went on, I got used to the idea that I CAN TOTALLY DO THIS... and it's started to feel a little bit... well, I've already described how it's started to feel, with the barfing and what-not.

I'm still not in danger of giving up.  I have no desire to throw away the last 15 days and eat a bunch of cookies, or whatever.  I need to jack things up, though to get my zest for fasting back.

I've decided that for the next 5 days, I'm going to juice only, and make this a true Juice Fast.  I think I've made myself sick enough of eating solid food that it won't be the same kind of challenge that it would have been 15 days ago.  I've also already been through the panicky, headachey, skin-tingly detoxing phase, so I won't have that to deal with, on top of not being able to eat.  I just feel like I'm in the right place, mentally, to take on 5 days of juicing only.

Wish me luck.

So, I don't think I've talked about my intentions for when my fast is over.

I am going to adopt a diet with a base of ungodly amounts of fruits and vegetables.  They will be the bulk of what I eat.  I'll also eat nuts and nut butters, beans and legumes, seeds, gluten free grains like quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat, healthy fats like coconut and olive oils, organic tofu and tempeh, nutritional yeast and spices.  I am open to gluten free bread foods.  (I found a recipe for gluten free pumpernickel that might be interesting.)  I am also open to an occasional, disgustingly good dairy product, like the herbed goat cheese from the farmer's market.  I am also planning on having a treat, like frozen yogurt with those weird little juice balls, once or twice a month.

And that's it.

I feel like sticking with this for so long has really made me evaluate the way I see food.  It's become clear to me that, although I was already a vegetarian who ate more vegetables than the average person, I wasn't eating enough of them.  It seems weird to me, now that I wouldn't consider vegetables to be the base of my diet, that I wouldn't eat them first, and accessorize with other foods.

This fast has also made me rethink the way I felt about treat foods.  I didn't even know I was doing it, but I said yes, or at least okay, shrug to everything I felt like eating.  If there was candy in our house, I would definitely have some.  When we passed by the bulk cookie bin at Whole Foods and the girls started saying, "Cookies!" I would definitely pick one (or two or four) for myself.  I ate half of Louisey's snow cones.  I bought big, fluffy loaves of cinnamon swirl bread from the bakery.  I just didn't think about sugar, before eating it.  I knew that I ate too much of it, but I didn't see how permissive I was about it.  I didn't understand how unbalanced I was about it.  There was definitely sugar in my life every single day, and I'm over that.

I just feel like I see things differently, and I still have 15 days to go.

My goals for the second half of my fast are:

Better focus
More yoga
5 days/week of moderate cardio
More doing stuff I love, and want to do
More sunshine and swimming
More reading
More writing


-

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Go where the love is...

People get mad a lot.

We should get mad.  There are a lot of things wrong with the world.  I get mad a lot, too.

I tend to gravitate towards strong arguments and heat.  I like loud people with something to say.  I appreciate a boisterous defense of what is right, and what is true.  I like being challenged.  I like being a challenge.

Sometimes, I'm tired, though.  Sometimes I just want to go where the love is.

Maybe I will say something that will change the world for someone, I don't know.  I don't have much control over who will love me and who won't.  I can recognize when somebody really genuinely does love me, though, and I can go towards that love.  I can acknowledge it, acknowledge that I am worthy of it, take comfort in it, and return it.

Going where the love is also means that I should gravitate towards things that I love.

I love my babies.  Instead of scheduling us so that we're eating jelly sandwiches and changing clothes in the car, I should cuddle up with them and love them and love them and love them.  I want to spend every moment of our lives together aware of our love, respectful of it and in awe of it.  I want to say at the end of a day, "What did I do, today?  I loved my girls."

There are things I love doing that get pushed to the bottom of all my neurotic, unfinished lists.  I love writing stories.  I could spend hours every evening in a writing trance, making up worlds and breaking imaginary hearts, but I don't.  I take care of business, instead.  What if I went toward my love of writing stories, instead of marginalizing it?  It's an exciting idea.

I love using my imagination.  I love words.  I love sentences and how they're simple, but they could murder you, if you're not careful.  I love water and sunshine.  I love holidays; making decorations, baking things, creating quiet, holy memories.  I love wrapping presents.  I love the way the world smells; leaves and rain and my daughters' hair.  I love tea and quiet.  I love growing things.  I love the market and the dirty, long haired boys playing guitar on the street.  I love people and their sadness.  I love sharing secrets, holding hands.  I love lying in bed with the window open.

I need to go to where my love is, give myself permission to go to the things that will allow me to live a life of love.

Fighting for things comes easy to me.  Explaining myself comes easy.  Wanting things I can't have.  Remembering things that are gone.  Realizing that time is leaving me. Rushing to pick up pieces.  Picking at the blisters on my heels. 

Allowing myself to love and be loved is hard, sometimes, but there is love here.  I need to go to where my love is.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Speak a sentence.

I wasn't expecting it to be this simple, but it was. 

We had friends over today to swim.  Little teeth were chattering and thunder sounded, somewhere.  The wind picked up and we all ran, barefoot and screaming and laughing.  I had a baby on my hip as the rain started to fall in fat, relentless drops.  We've needed this rain.  There are patches of grass that are worn and yellow. 

We sat on the front porch in our bathing suits and watched cars crawl by, their tires hissing against the wet pavement.  My friend rolled a ball of yarn from a looping skein, drooped in a circle over Louise's rocking horse.  (She's getting too big for that horse.  I've thought of giving it away a thousand times.)

I thought about their childhood, how my girls will have hazy memories of a gaggle of young mamas.  Sometimes sitting on a blanket in the sun with our skirts hiked up our thighs.  Sometimes leaning on our elbows on the table at the coffee house.  Today, with our grown up woman legs, unshaven and tanned, and our painted toenails.  Always talking.  Always with babies at our feet and babies at our breasts and babies climbing into our laps.  We're always craning our necks to finish a sentence, leaning over to reach into a bag with neat, little containers of food.

It is something, to be a mother.

My own mother had a mole on her inner thigh that I couldn't stop myself from asking about.  "It's just a mole," she would say.  (She later confessed that she hated it and tried to burn it off, as a teenager.)  My mother's body was like my body.  There were no parts of it that I didn't look at and study.  I knew every detail of her legs, especially.  They were big and somehow unwieldy, the muscles were alive under her skin.  I remember the shape of her knees and how the bones of her feet protruded.  I have memories of peering out at the world through those legs, like they were an extension of what I was, or like they were a place where I existed, somehow.

I think about that, now, how my girls climb into the bath with me, how Scout will crawl into my bed, and curl up against the concave of my bent body in the night.  I am privileged to share this space with them, my body.  There was a time where they only existed inside of me, and some part of them must remember.  They climb on me, fall asleep on me, kick me while I'm changing their clothes.  They absentmindedly pull my hair and cry with their faces buried in my throat.  I am massive to them, a universe, and they view the world from under the hem of my skirts.

This is what we're all searching for when we twist ourselves into impossible shapes, when we search and cry and dig our nails into our palms.  This is why we paint our eyes and buy new shoes.  This is why we all need love.  We need it so that some of us go mad.  Some of us die.  We do unflattering things and crawl with our faces in the mud.

A tiny foot in my ribs and a pair of little arms around my neck.  My children go out into the world with one hand wrapped around my thigh.  They see life from between my knees.  They know every part of my legs, every bent bone and tired part of me.  I am them.  They came from me.  We know this and understand this.

This is why we chase boys across campus in the rain, against our better judgement.  This is why some people die for love.  I'd be so lonely if I could speak a sentence without craning my neck.



-

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Feature on The Sacred Life of Rain

Rain from the sacred life is featuring me today.  She is one of my favorite things about blogging.  Because I do this, I found her, and you have no idea how grateful I feel for that.  

I wrote a piece for her.  You can find it, along with her kind, thoughtful, spiritual words, here



-

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Backyard



This hasn't been a good summer for t-ball.  With temperatures approaching 100 again today, we opt to skip out on standing in a yellowing field in the hot sun, boys kicking dirt into asthmatic clouds.  We strap our "noggles" to our heads, instead, and practice swimming in the lopsided, eight foot circle pool that has saved our lives, this summer.

Louisey mostly whines and holds on to the side saying, "I wanna get out," and I tell her, "No, you don't!  We're having fun!"  You'd think she would know fun, but she's a stinker, that one.  So, I suit her up in all manner of blow-up and floaty devices, her poor little arms stuck out at her sides and the rest of her body wedged soundly into a blow up turtle ring with a squeaking head.  I say, "Swim to mommy!"

She declines by saying, "No sank you," fistfuls of the inflatable pool edge perpetually gripped in her tiny hands.

I borrow her goggles, since she can't bend her arms to stop me, and strap them to my face.  They're blue circles with plastic dolphins jumping over each eye cavity.  I'm also wearing a two piece bathing suit.  I've long ago lost my shame in front of the neighbors.

"If you want to look like a dolphin," I tell Scouty, "you have to stick your butt up really high when you first dive under."

"Like this?" she asks, flailing around like an injured baby walrus under the water for a moment, and then emerging in an adorable spray of watery kid-spit and boogers.  She is a water kid.  Her teacher at summer camp calls her the water fairy.  I know this thing, being the water fairy.  This determination to stay under the water as long as possible, to float and bubble and prune.  I'm still a water kid, even though I'm all grown up.

"That was good," I say.  "Except, watch my butt."

I dive under the water gracefully, feeling my great, red butt cresting the surface of the water.  It feels good to be here, like this.  I like the silence.  I like seeing my girls' chubby little feet through the goggles.  I stay like this for an extra second, the fabric of my bathing suit bottoms starting to dry in the sun, that's how committed I am to this position.  I remember being a kid, how nobody could swim like me.  I would enter a body of water at the sun's first light, and leave it only to eat and use the bathroom, and sometimes not even then.  I feel like I'm in a cocoon, like I'm a baby and all the world is muffled and blue.

I arch my back and tuck my giant mom-ass back under the water, sliding my head and shoulders into the light and sound of the actual world.

"Wow," Scouty tells me.  "You really looked like a dolphin.  Your butt was really up there."

"Thank you," I say.  "I know."

I catch a movement out of the corner of my eye and realize that our neighbor is standing on her back deck, hovering over us and scowling.

She's a mystery to me.  She would corner me, when we first bought our house, by standing up there, getting a full view of our yard over the hedges, and talking and talking to me.  I felt rude going inside, but I'm not really the neighborly type. I always made an excuse about having errands to run, baffling a little toddler Scout, after getting her excited about playing in the yard.  "Why are we going in?" she would ask.  Her confusion justified, as it probably took us about four hours to get dressed, sunblocked and to find her other sandal so we could go outside.

"Because," I would say.  "It's too neighbory out here."

The neighbor baked us a zucchini bread once.

Over time, she's become distant and silent.  Now, she doesn't even say hi when we meet.  I wonder if she disapproves of the way I've let the flower beds go to shit.  I want to ask her if that's why she stopped talking to me, but I never do.  I assume it's because I'm so terrible at making the leap from small talk to actual person talk and she got tired of waiting around for me.

I know she was watching my dolphin dive.  I wish she would laugh and I could laugh and it would be a funny, suburban exchange, but she's cold.  I take Louisey's goggles off.  They threaten to suck out my eyes for a moment.  I like the feeling.  The neighbor goes inside.


----------------------------------------------


I linked this post up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary's Just Write. Do you have a minute to do some free writing today?  (You know you do.)  Link up, too and find some great writers (and friends) in the process.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Giveaway - Win a set of 3 water bobbles and filters from Open Sky

The generous people at Open Sky, an interactive, customized shopping site, read about my juice fast and healthy changes, and have offered to help one lucky Last Mom On Earth reader take the healthy step to drink more water by giving away a set of 3 self-filtering water bottles and filters from water bobble.



water bobble is a sleek alternative to single-serve plastic water bottles, which harm the earth (and your wallet). bobble is a stylish, reusable bottle that filters water as you drink, using a replaceable carbon filter. Every filter equates to 300 single-serve bottles. bobble is free of BPA, Phthalates and PVC.


Here's how you can enter to win:  Leave a comment on this post.  Tell me something nice.

You can gain additional entries by doing the following.  (Don't forget to leave a separate comment for each entry!)

1. Join Open Sky and begin your customized shopping experience by clicking here




5. Tweet this: " @LastMomOnEarth is giving away 3 self-filtering water bottles from @OpenSky here: http://www.lastmomonearth.com/2012/07/giveaway-win-set-of-3-water-bobbles-and.html "


That's six comments you'll be leaving, for a total of six entries per person. I'll choose a winner in one week (on Monday, July 23rd) via random draw.  Make sure I have a way to contact you.  If my 1st winner doesn't respond within 24 hours, I'll choose somebody new.  Good luck!  I hope you win. :) 


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Juice Fast - Day 7



Vegetables
photo by shanska mattuplevelser
I'm on Day 7 of my modified juice fast, and I feel amazing.

I can't believe how much better I feel now, than I did a week ago.  I definitely have a dietary sensitivity to something, and I had no idea.  I've had achilles pain, knee and shoulder pain and neck pain for years, but I just kind of thought that's how a person felt as they got older and had kids.  After just a few days of eating only fruits and veggies, none of those things hurt any more.

It really makes me wonder about how much some of my family members have suffered with arthritis, lupus and fibromyalgia.  I've read that some integrative doctors believe that rheumatoid arthritis is a dietary reaction to animal protein.  The disease that was so terrible for my pap that he could barely move, that hunched his shoulders and curled his hands into swollen claws, maybe it all could have been prevented if he'd eaten different things.

It's weirdly mind blowing.
I have always thought that I was quickly headed to an arthritic, stiff and painful future.  Now I feel like I'm free of pain that I didn't even really know I had.  I mean... eating different foods has cured my stiff neck?  I didn't even know that was possible.

I don't feel depressed and irritable.  I don't feel scattered and anxious.  I don't feel hopeless and helpless.  I just feel like a person who can get out of bed in the morning.

I don't know what I expected when I started this endeavor, but I'm pretty sure my results have been better.

I have 3 weeks to go, and at the end of the 30 days, I am going to slowly introduce foods back into my diet, one by one, paying attention to how I feel.  I'm suspecting that dairy and sugar/refined flour are out for pretty much good, and I don't even care.  I'm not saying that I won't eat a single Christmas cookie, or that I'll never taste pizza again... but as far as my daily diet goes, I will happily eliminate them if it means feeling this wonderful.

I have no idea how much weight I've lost because the batteries are dead in my scale.  (I know that everybody always wants to know about weight when people start talking about juice fasting.)  I'm doing my best to not make this about weight, to focus on the way I'm feeling, on getting healthy, which only may or may not have something to do with my size.  BUT.  I am sure I am losing weight.  I don't know how I couldn't be.  I'll weigh myself at the end of the 30 days and let you know what happened.

Jesse asked me for a run down of my routine, so here it is.  (I don't do everything the same, every day, depending on our schedule, but I can give you a general idea.)

1. I juice in the morning, making two portions and saving the second in a freezer bag in the fridge, after being careful to squeeze all of the air out to prevent oxidation as much as possible.  (Some people have time to juice more than once per day.  I just don't.)  I drink a big glass of veggie juice.  (Tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, parsley, bell pepper, celery, kale, spinach, lettuce, sweet potato, basil... some combination of these things, usually.  All from my garden or the farm market.)

2. I eat a piece of fruit, mid morning.

3. At lunch time I eat a salad or cauliflower "rice" with veggies and coconut water and basil, or vegan, grain free zucchini "lasagna" with cauliflower ricotta, mushrooms and tomatoes.  Or I might eat some veggies sauteed with a tiny drop of coconut oil and some tamari.  (I have lots of mad vegan scientist recipes that are to die for.  Let me know if you're interested.)

4. Mid-afternoon, I drink the rest of my juice from the fridge.

5. At dinner time, I eat cut up fruit and salad.  I might make a soup in the crockpot with veggies, basil and kale.  Sweet potato fries roasted in a tiny spray of olive oil with a little bit of salt.  Steamed kale and garlic are good.  I had sea weed salad, last night and lettuce wraps with fajita veggies seasoned with cumin and tamari the other night.

6. In the evening, I have a smoothie, some banana "ice cream" blended with coconut water, or some fruit or even dried fruit.  (Scouty and I went to the movies and I brought freeze dried strawberries and lemon-basil water.)

So, basically, I am eating all day long.  It's awesome.  Also, I drink tons and tons of water.

I do get cravings, but they pass.  This week was PMS week, and I seriously did crave chocolate for a few days straight.  My family ordered pizza yesterday, and it seemed kind of amazing.  I've also had a weird thing for the idea of cherry pie, even though I haven't eaten cherry pie in probably like... ten years.  These cravings aren't a big deal, though.  They might make me pick up a loaf of bread out of my mom's grocery cart at Whole Foods and smell it sensuously, but that's the extent of the damage.  I don't feel like I'm in any danger at all of like... freaking out and eating a brownie, or something.  The first few days might have been a little bit like that, where I felt like, "How will I DO this?"  But I feel totally in control, now.

So, that's it.  It's pretty easy and straight forward, and for me, totally worth it.  I'm even looking forward to the next 3 weeks and beyond, and I haven't been feeling that way, lately.


-

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Depression and love.

I had a dream about love.

There was a boy in a wheelchair and a canvas tent, a safari and holiday lights.  Someone died, and I didn't know them until they were risen.

This dream with its youth and desperate whispering, with its contraptions and mechanized body parts, with a crow and a carcass; cream colored fabric draped over everything, I don't know how to explain why, but it is evidence that I am on my way out of this thing.

The sound of a train in the distance scared me, last night.  I woke up with my heart thudding in my ears.   I couldn't tell my life apart from the pistons and steam.  Something inside of me was threatening to rupture.

These are old fears.  Veins that bulge and blood that pools under my skin.  A ticking heartbeat and a whistle blowing.  I asked for the day to myself, today.

I ate lunch with my mom, distracted by a soft white loaf of bread in her bag, its crackling wrapper and the shine of a watery, rainy day sun reflected there.  She told me a story about woman having an affair with a pharmacist at work.  It was a story full of selfishness and tears, and my mom laughed out of gladness.  I felt good.  I felt happy for her that other people live terrible lives, and we were having seaweed salad and yellow tomatoes, glasses of sparkling soda and tiny, clinking ice cubes.

It was Saturday, and I had nowhere to be.  I didn't start gathering my things early.  Nobody spilled anything or asked to go home. 

I felt happy for me, too.

I drove to a coffee shop to write, but it was so cold, inside.  I started my period in the bathroom.  I couldn't get warm in the corner booth, but I didn't say to myself, "I'd better just get home.  I'd better just get back to my life because I wasn't expecting this cold." This was my life, too and the world was open in front of me, for a while.  I wasn't feeling any pain.

I thought about how resourceful I am, folding up a paper towel and placing it neatly into my underwear.  I thought that I might take a weekend away, sometime.  I might ride my bike along the shore of Lake Erie in the fall.  I thought about how glaciers form there in the winter, how there are bodies of water that intimidate me with their banks and swells; there are many types of bodies.  I liked the heft of a lake that could become glacial. 

In my dream, I was a teenager and my love was an ugly boy with glasses and teeth that jutted over his lip. He came back from the dead and didn't know why.  I bought him a necklace with a figurine of the Matterhorn.  I knew everything, I was the only one.  There were no walls, only heavy cloth that slumped onto the floor.  "You'll be dead again by morning," I said.  "Hold my hands."

I've been directing myself through the dark.  I've been walking with a pin in my heel; another in my lungs, but I dreamed of love, last night.  I woke up with my heart beating in the dark, and it is beating still, where I sit.  It can be a terrible thing to be dead in the morning, but you'll come back to life, too.  It can be a terrible thing, but there can be love in it.

This is the summer where I overwintered. 
I can get up now without limping.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Seventeen.

There are train tracks that lead out of town.  I am seventeen years old.

I would walk them forever, except for the bugs.  I feel like smoking keeps them away.

I like smoking cigarettes and wearing makeup.  I like being alone.  I don't fit in, but I'm not like you think.  I'm poor and unfashionable, I wear a size 16.  I've never played soccer, not even in Kindergarten.  I don't care about boys in baseball uniforms.  I don't care about school dances or reaching my destinations.  I drive around a lot in cars, take a lot of walks.

I have a best friend who is pretty and thin and blonde.  People think they know things about us, but we're misfits.  I spend my time with another girl who thinks she's a witch.  She reads my palm and we drink scotch.  She lays out a labyrinth of tarot cards in front of me, lazily flipping them over and predicting my death.  She lies a lot.  Maybe I do, too.

I feel like a liar, because nobody knows me.

I am seventeen years old and sometimes I spend all afternoon on the floor of my bedroom, sobbing.  Once, my mom came quietly into my room and sat down next to me.  The faint outline of a cross gleamed on the wood of my door.  She spent a lot of time trying to anoint the things I touched.  She put her arms around me and started to cry, too.

The Cure was playing on my stereo.  My mother, in her tuneless voice, sang into my ear, "However far away, I will always love you.  How ever long I stay, I will always love you."  Instantly, I didn't want to cry, anymore.  Everything slippery and red inside of me turned black.  I felt the corners of my mouth pulling up in to a smile.  She wasn't trying to be funny.

"Get off," I said.  "God."

My family thinks of me as a trouble maker.  I don't pray.  I don't believe in prayer languages.  I don't believe in god.  I get mad a lot.

I gave my dad a copy of Catcher In The Rye, because I believed it told the story of me.  I wanted my dad to love me.  I wanted him to know that there was something inside of me.  I didn't mean to not believe in god.

I was sitting in the kitchen with my little sister and it was Christmas time.  We were baking something and drawing shapes in the spilled sugar on the table.  My dad came bursting through the door with my book in his hand saying, "I don't know what kind of idiot decided that kids should be reading this book, but it is really retarded."

I do that same thing to him, too.  If I find out he likes something, it's like a seed of meanness gets planted inside of me.  Knowing that he cares for something makes me hate it, and that hate bubbles inside of me, delighting me and also giving me pains.  I choke on it, trying not to let it spill out, but it is something bigger than me.  I don't know if he's ever wanted me to love him.

I roll my eyes a lot.  I reread sexy parts in books and wear eyeliner.  I want a girlfriend.  I want to live in the desert and shoot guns.  I don't really want anything.  I spend long hours on the phone with a girl with blue eyes.  I want her to fall in love with me.  I have a boyfriend with long, dark hair.  He talks about himself all the time.  On a blanket in a field, naked to his waist, he talks about the shape of his own ribcage.  Nobody asks me anything.  I am locked up tight and burning inside.  I don't know anything, but I will explode this way.






ps. this is a non-fiction piece, if you're here from RemembRED.

-

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Yesterday.

Kurt gave me flowers, yesterday.  There was one, lonely pink rose in the bundle of orange.  I thought she was me.

*

We rode the carousel under the shadow of the cathedral, the one with all the animals.  Scouty and I had spent the afternoon going over our choices.  She wanted to ride the sea horse, she said.  Or maybe the jack rabbit.

Going around, I was face to face with the giraffe.  His plastic eye was almost human with flecks of brown and a cold, dilated pupil.  "Look at their eyes," I said to Scouty, surveying the whirling parade of animals.  All of them had beautiful, haunted eyes.

"Look at me go!" she called out in response.

*

There is a fountain near the library gilded with brass turtles, their shine covered over in matte turquoise.  We stopped there just to put our feet in the water.  "Don't get your clothes wet," I said to the girls and Kurt glanced up at me, something like defeat and happiness mingling on his face.  They would be soaked almost before I could finish my warning.

Mothers have to say these things.  Don't get wet.  Don't mess up your dress.  Don't pick up rocks from the parking lot.  Don't fill your pockets with them.  Don't kick the dirt on the field.

I only say them to give my girls the chance to feel free, for moment.

Scouty told me once that it feels kind of good to be bad.  I agreed with her, but instead of saying so, I said, "Next time you need to listen to Daddy when she says not to run at the zoo."

I know that no one is listening, even as they hear me, and I love them.  I don't listen, either.


-----------------------


I linked this post up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary's Just Write. Do you have a minute to do some free writing today?  (You know you do.)  Link up, too and find some great writers (and friends) in the process.


-

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

30 Day Juice Fast... well, sort of.

I'm doing a 30 day detox diet, or a modified juice fast, which means that I am juicing fruits and vegetables 2-3 times per day, and eating fruits and vegetables only, for 30 days.

I'm on Day 3, right now, and I feel like it's kind of going awesome.

It hasn't been very hard, so far.  I've tried to do fasts where I drink juice only, but I always end up feeling sick and anxious and I give up. I am not the sort of person to volunteer to feel bad, even for a day or two.  I'm too neurotic.  Being able to eat, and to not just have fluid sloshing around in my belly all day, is making this a lot easier.

I have a lot of reasons for wanting to do this.  I know that some people don't understand it, or they think, "What about the PROTEIN?" and have a heart attack and faint because we're Americans and nobody ever taught us that there is protein in vegetables because kale isn't big business, and the idea of eating so many vegetables just doesn't seem right.  That's okay. 

It seems right to me, especially now that I've gotten started and I'm already feeling better in ways I didn't even expect.

So, here is where I confess.

I have been depressed, lately.  I mean like... text book depressed with the whole list of symptoms.  I've been feeling like shit.  I've even thought about going back on Zoloft, and conceding that the only way to treat depression is through manipulating my brain chemicals through medication.  Don't get me wrong, I have a long history of of being very PRO manipulating my brain chemicals.  I'm not an anti-medication sort of person.

Or maybe I am.  Maybe I've grown up enough that I can admit that yes, I was once so in love with medication that I thought nothing of putting a needle into my arm several times per day, even if it meant that I might die at any moment, and now I don't even want to take an antidepressant because it seems too unnatural.

Is that okay?  I'm one of those people, now.  Let's just all be okay with it.

I don't want to take Zoloft, not just because of my ideas about medication, but because I didn't like how it made me feel.

It made me feel less depressed, I guess.  It made me more calm.  I didn't have as terrible of a temper.  Finding a lost shoe didn't cause me to dangle over the edge of the precipice of TOTALLY LOSING IT.... but I also just felt like a big, empty nothing.  I didn't get excitable over a missing shoe, but I didn't get excitable about ANYTHING.  I didn't care about things.  I couldn't get turned on, about sex or anything.  I didn't feel passionate or fiery.  I didn't feel hilarious and wild.  I just felt okay.

I was fine.

Anybody who knows me well knows that I have a total thing against being fine.  Fine is my enemy.  Fine is the embodiment of everything I recoil from.  Fine means that you're nothing, or you're lying.  It means that you're mad or sad or disappointed, but you don't want to say so.  What's the matter?  Nothing, I'm FINE.

I wasn't depressed with sadness, irritability, insomnia, chronic pain, hopeless, trouble concentrating, loss of interest, avoiding friendships, lack of motivation and weight gain.  But, I was fine.

It got to be so that I couldn't look in the mirror.

And then, when I stopped taking it, I couldn't look in the mirror then, either.

I've been lost and feeling isolated and desperate.

You might not see how all of that equals out to it being time to juice fast, but it's been a very good idea, for me.

I'm feeling so much better, already.  I think that probably a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm taking some kind of action and getting my thoughts and actions organized.  I'm sticking with it, so I don't feel like a total failure.  Also, juicing and eating so outrageously healthy has been wonderful motivation to exercise and do yoga and take time to myself.  It's so valuable to me to not feel totally out of control, and feel in control of something, ANYTHING, is something I've sorely needed.

The surprising part is how much better I feel physically.  I had no idea that by super charging myself with more veggies and fruits than anybody would ever dream to consume, I could actually get rid of pain that I've been living with, (and HATING) for probably about 3 years.

My family is full of arthritics, fibro-myalgia-ics and stiff, broken people.  Ever since I worked out through my pregnancy with Louisey, I have had tendonitis in my Achilles that has caused me unbelievable stiffness and pain.  I've tried massage, stretching and strengthening exercises, wraps and supports and a wide array of orthopedic mom shoes and nothing really helped.

After three days of radically changing my diet to include ridiculous and obscene amounts of raw vegetables and fruits, and cutting out everything else, (especially, I'm suspecting, sugar and dairy)... my annoying, on the verge of debilitating tendon pain has completely and mysteriously vanished.  It's shocking to stand up and start walking and have it not hurt at least a little bit.  Who knew this was even possible?  It feels sort of like a miracle.

I'm excited to find out how many more awesome surprising things might happen if I keep taking care of myself, this way.  If I keep feeling organized and purposeful and healthy.   If I actually, finally do get a fucking grip.  I feel sort of like I might be on my way. 

So, this was Day 3.

Wish me luck.





Monday, July 9, 2012

A very big thing for a tiny girl - Happy 2nd birthday, Louise

You're two years old today, and daddy asked you if you wanted a cup of coffee. 

You said, "I don't like drinking coffee.  I like drinking water."

I'm so amazed by your brilliance, your giant sentences that seem too big for such a tiny girl.  They are yours, though.  You are full of big ideas, like counting to twenty and telling me, "I'm not tiny girl.  That's silly."

The best part about you is EVERYTHING.

I remember the day you were born.  The doctor didn't show up for our c-section.  I waited and waited in hospital gown as time went by.  I was sure I would meet you by seven, and then it was eight and eight thirty, and finally he showed up, shook my hand and said, "Hi.  Sorry I forgot about your c-section."

I started to say, "That's okay," but it felt weird.  It was okay, I guess, but how could anybody forget about the birth of my little girl?  Daddy's family was at the beach.  My father didn't know me well enough to be there, and Grammy was at home with Scouty, staring at her phone, waiting for a text from Daddy saying, "Here we go."  It felt like your daddy and I were the only people on earth, like the rest of the world was sleeping and this was the first day of our lives.

You were a tiny, beautiful thing.  I knew what it would be like to hold you.  I draped you over my shoulder and your pretty little face fit perfectly against my throat.  You cooed and slept, and slept, and slept.  We were all alone on a quiet island. 

And now you're all grown up.  You can jump and swim with your "noggles" on your eyes.  You have a best friend, your big Sissie.  When it's time for bed, you tell her, "Hug!  And kiss!" and I feel like maybe the world isn't a good place, but my world is. 

You make the world a good place, and that is a VERY big thing for a tiny girl.  But maybe you're right.  You're not tiny girl, that's silly.  There is a whole world in your big brown eyes, you are a universe.

I love you.

Happy Birthday, very big girl, Louisey.





-

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fireworks - Writing Challenge Piece

Mom made tuna noodle salad and watermelon for dinner.  Standing at the counter, stirring mayonnaise and macaroni, creating perfect cubes of melon, she reached for her glass of bourbon and ice.  She would be drunk by the time dad got home.

She started drinking to get back at him for having an affair.  He always said that ladies didn't drink alcohol, especially not straight from a bottle under the sink.  He didn't come home, though, one night, and in the morning, a lady wearing sunglasses dropped him off in front of the house.

Eloise and I were playing army guys on the floor while mom stared at the television with the volume turned down.  "What's the matter?" Eloise asked. Mom made a movement with her hand, like she was shooing something away.

"Your cigarette is burned down," I said.  "It's going to fall all over the carpet."

My mom looked at me like she didn't recognize me, and then she dropped her cigarette, butt and all, right onto the patterned rug that grandma passed down to her.  She ground it right in to the fibers with the toe of her shoe.  Eloise gasped and looked at me with her mouth hanging open.  We weren't even allowed to eat in here.

That's when we heard the sound of a car door slamming.  We might not have heard him until he was coming up the porch steps if we hadn't been shocked into silence by mom's disregard for the rug.  We ran to the window and peered through the curtains.

"Asshole," mom whispered.  Eloise gave me that look again, her eyes big and round.

Dad opened the door and set his lunchbox down.  My sister said, "Here come the fireworks."

I thought so, too.  I thought mom was going to go crazier than a rabid dog; but she didn't.  She didn't say anything except, "Clean those toys up when you're done," and walked into the kitchen and pulled open the cabinet under the sink.

 --------------------------------------------------






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, using the third definition of a given word.  This week's word was fireworks.

Why do you blog?

I don't write this blog because I need advice.

I don't write it because I'm looking for help.

When I reveal something about the way I'm feeling, it's not because I'm lacking or stupid or under educated and I'm hoping the somebody out there will be able to fix my problems.

I'm not full of problems any more than anybody else is.  It's just that I make it a point to express the things a lot of people feel the need to keep private or secret.  I don't feel like I gain anything by pretending that I feel a way I don't feel.  I don't feel like anybody else can gain anything from me if I'm pretending that only certain parts of me are real or valid.  I'm not any unhappier or more disorganized or failing than the millions of other people who live a life like mine.

When I reveal something that a person normally wouldn't, it's because I KNOW that you feel the same way.  Maybe you haven't said so.  Maybe you feel like you can't say so.  Maybe you're not admitting it, but, if you have any capacity to understand me and my life, if we are people who believe similar things and live under similar circumstances, you'll read where I'm admitting that I'm lost or I'm crazy or I'm losing it or I'm delirious or I'm lonely or I'm depressed, and you'll feel like... THANK FUCKING GOD somebody else feels that way.

You don't need to hear about it every time I have a perfectly fine experience, having brunch and taking a walk, or whatever.  I do those things all the time.  I have happy, fine experiences all the time.  Every day, all day.  I just don't write about them, because I mean...  I had lunch with a friend today.  She is going back to school.  She looked nice, was wearing a headband.  I wore a dress I liked.  Louisey needed a diaper change in the middle of the meal, and so I had to change her.  We decided that my friend and her daughter should come over to swim later this week.  We got a little pool with a pump and a filter.  The girls and I have been having a really fun time swimming in it and it would be nice to have a friend come over and swim with us. They're coming to Louisey's birthday party on Saturday.  I need to make a quinoa salad this evening and decide what kind of cake I'm baking.

That is what my life is like, on a day to day basis.  I don't write about that stuff very much.  Please forgive me, but I don't have any desire to write about that stuff.  It's my life.  I live it every day.  My life is pretty ordinary and fine and sweet and nice... but I am not just an ordinary and nice girl.  There is more to me than swimming and lunch and splitting a cupcake, oh why not?  Naughty, naughty!  I don't go into a writing spell and just HAVE TO GET OUT how we ate lunch at the park and then went to the library and held hands crossing the street and we loved one another like we always do.

I don't need advice about how to be happier.  Unless you're my husband or my child or my mother or my sibling, you don't know me and my life better than I do.  Unless you're reading what I write here and feeling like, "I go through that all the time," or "I've been through that so many times," I probably didn't write that particular post for you.  Actually, if you read something I've written, and you feel like you know what I need better than I do and you feel an urge to help me because I'm stupid or crazy or a poor, poor thing - then I DEFINITELY didn't write that post for you.  If you're looking at the things I share about myself, and all you see if a bunch of mistakes and unhappiness, then you're not really getting it.  And that's totally okay.

I like it when something I say makes somebody else feel less lonely.  And I like it when I share something that's hard to share, and I find out that I'm not alone, either.

I am grateful for you.  I am so happy that you're here and that you share your life with me.  I love that I've made friends doing this.  I've come to know so many people I love and admire.  Every time you write to me and say, "I feel this post with everything that I am," I feel like we're all doing something important together.  We're telling the truth and we're being together, and for a host of reasons, society doesn't want us to tell the truth.  We're supposed to feel lonely and not good enough and most of all, we're supposed to feel afraid.  We're not used to telling the truth.  It feels weird to be honest about JUST HOW IMPERFECT we are.  We're used to cleaning our houses in a fury before people visit.  We're used to saying, "Good!  I'm fine, thanks!  How are you?"  Maybe you don't have the exact same flaws that I do, but you're full of your own.  I know they are in there, millions of them squirming around under the surface... and I love you for them.

I'm fine, thanks.  And sometimes I'm not.  I need to tell both stories.  That's why I do this.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What would happen if I focused more on the things I'm doing right

On one hand, I feel like this is the summer that is getting away with me.

There are things I resolved to do... work on a second novel, get in shape, twice weekly yoga, meditate a few minutes every day.

I have accomplished exactly 0% of this.

My kids, our schedule, the heat maybe and my indecisiveness have me so exhausted that I can't even think about trying to carve out time to write a book.  I wake up in the morning and immediately jump into GO MODE.  Before I even sit up in bed, I'm going over and over in my head what we need to do today, how much time we have to get dressed and fed and brushed and ready, what work I need to get done and how much time I'll need to do it, fitting in the gym, working around Louisey's nap and Scouty's activities and making sure that the girls are getting the most fun of their summer as humanly possible.

I'm failing at everything I set out to do for myself.  I don't even know where to begin, except maybe waking up at 5am and cutting time with Kurt out of my life completely.  I could make the girls play quietly in their rooms for an hour or two each afternoon instead of swimming and playing in the sandbox so that I could write my articles.  I could keep Scouty from playing sports or participating in other activities so that we could go to the gym during that time.  I could tell Kurt that the two hours we see each other each day isn't as important to me as working on my writing and cut him out.

Does this all sound like one big excuse?  I know that people are fond of saying, "If you want something, you find a way to make time for it." 

But, what if you want happiness for two people who are totally dependent on you, and you want a relationship with your husband and you want your children to have experiences and fun and exposure to many different things in the world.  And you want to cook everything from scratch because you want your children to be healthy and you want to have relationships with your friends and you want to have enough money to pay your bills and buy groceries, so you have to do work.  And you want to write a book and get in shape.

What if there just isn't enough of you to find a way to make time for all of the things that are important to you?

I feel like even having dreams for myself creates stress for me.  Like, if I just gave up and decided that my one goal was to make my kids happy and make sure they're healthy, and that I was going to dedicate all of my resources to that task... denying about my own interests and needs, I would feel better than I do now. 

Writing a book, getting in shape, taking yoga class... these things just end up hanging over my head, being pushed to the bottom of my to-do list and making me feel like shit about myself because I don't get to them.  Every time I mean to write in the evening and can't because Kurt gets sick with the stomach flu and I have to stay with the girls.  Every time I put on my workout clothes and decide to go to the gym as soon as Louisey wakes up from her nap, and she wakes up grumpy and hungry and throws a tantrum and we don't make it out of the door before it's time to pick up Scouty.  Every time I decide that I'm going to start working on my articles in the afternoon while the girls play and they come up to me and say, "Could you please play Orbeez with us?" and I don't want to tell them, "I can't pay attention to you, because getting my work done is more important than playing with you."

All of these things make me feel like an unbelievably unsuccessful person.  I feel out of control, like I don't get to make my own choices about my life.

The truth is... about three times per week, I get to the gym for an hour, but it's on a haphazard schedule that just happens when it happens.  Once or twice each week, I get a chance to write something I want to write.  Every week, I get my work done on time... but just barely.  I'm not exactly thriving at being a put together writer who works out every day and manages stress properly and attends to her interests and maintains friendships, juices every day for two meals and initiates satisfying sex with her husband.

I suck.

But, I'm okay at trying.  I'm okay at getting out of bed in the morning.  I'm okay.

Do you want to know something else?  I'm really, really good at being a mom.  I'm really good at making sure my kids are happy and engaged with the world.  I'm really good at giving them life experience, at taking them out to see the world, setting them up to be confident and secure, making sure they're happy and healthy.  It takes up almost all of my time and energy, but I'm doing a really good job.

What would happen if I focused more on the things I'm doing right, than the things I'm failing at? 


fancy preschool tea parties

apricot tart

camping

picking raspberries

movies in the park

thai food even though it's too spicy for Scouty

idlewild park with our cousin, baby c

grumpy shy breakfast with friends at Sugar Cafe in Dormont

playing on the big girl playground

even the big girl slide
big 4th of july parades

beautiful, healthy, happy kids

Happy summer to you and your beautiful babies, families and friends.  Let's try to take it easy on ourselves.  We're doing the best we can.


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