Sunday, November 23, 2014

a conspiracy of silence

i am not stitched mouth, stone rubbed smooth
skeleton stomped to soil. i am !
still alive, still needy, still necessary.

the crowd grows more festive
against a backdrop of starvation and suffering.
they drink wine and dramatically, i think of blood.

i am dramatic?
i feel.
a middle aged woman who feels-

can it get any worse?
the fear is bright in your eyes and wide laugh.
i am driven from the room

by a tidal wave of laughter.
night and darkness arrive as they must
the sound of silence for the determined laugh-

there is a list of reasons it would be polite for me
to shut up.

there is a list of reasons it would be helpful for me
to shut up.
there is a list of ailments that women have died from

for thousands of years,
stitched mouths, stone rubbed smooth.
i pluck the stone,

stay up all night burning the tips of my fingers
marking the story with charcoal and flame.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

true adult

looking back, can you say what you needed and what you did not, what you could have learned with a little less learning, what you already knew but wouldn't admit? i cannot, not yet. not with any certainty.

forty years old this november tenth. i became a true grown up in my own mind, the age of forty is the land of adults for me, the age i heard as a child that embodied the all responsible, bedrock of spirit and mind embracing of human experience that i imagined true adults achieved. and now i am the mother of four children, wife to one, a published writer, working poor by accident- two of them- and by choice, a la stay at home mother to babies for many of the last 20 years- a woman who had a baby out of wedlock not once but twice, and yet i can say that my life has been lived as true to my values as i could bend my body and break my bones to fit those shapes after a childhood locked into fear. perhaps i was born afraid or made that way by a father who to me was and always will be the epitome of male control, power and manipulation, from his deep and enormously muscular voice to his mustache and irritability, the same irritability which scraped itself raw on his own skin until became anger, until became rage. how can one turn forty and not think of your parents? those people who were are you now. i shouldn't like the easy slide of that- it's not true, of course, in many ways- but in a structural way, the way we all are skin and bones and slide into consciousness on the firing of synapses, it is true. our parents were the adults. now we are the adults. this is forty for me.

in the show True Detectives, a murderer and cult follower is caught by Rust and Marty. Locked in handcuffs and on his knees, naked chest needled with tattoos, he mutters about time being a flat disk that repeats. Rust skulks that life is simply a nightmare we wake into over and over again, that yes, we reincarnate, but damn, into the same life. these thoughts have been companions of mine since i can remember, the wondering of how slippery time feels and yet how anchored, as if we are both pinned beneath it and all around it and inside it at the same time. sex feels this way, anchoring, grounding deeply in the body, and yet completely escapist, beyond the flesh and the concrete, out there into the something we all reach for when afraid or lonely. i am here, but where is that?

in this last year i have been encroached on by new realizations about myself, most unwanted. the constant strain of personal stressors have worsened and stripped much of the bounciness out of my step, and part of me fears the forties as a time of possible tar pits and fossilizing. i do not want to become the culmination of my worst habits while accepting them as foregone conclusions about myself.  my teen years were about escape and survival. my twenties were about freedom and motherhood. my thirties were about devotion and family. my forties, i sense, will be full force motherhood and writing, sparring friendly like at times, keen enemies at others. although many writers who are mothers talk about finding a balance, i have none- none that lasts, i should elucidate. like parenting a baby- as soon as you understand one stage, they're on to another. my children come first. i will and would never sacrifice being the kind of mother and creating the kind of family i feel morally and spiritually drawn to doing for a great work of art. in fact, i know my novel that i am completing now is not the novel it could have been with more time, great hot gulps of time like coffee. every writer has a different process, and my best work has always, even in my twenties, demanding large spaces of time. i have a delayed response in writing, like a feinting orgasm that just won't quite make it. when it comes, though…

the day i turned forty i felt exactly the same as i had the day before. and perhaps that is really the most important point of note regarding the entire birthday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

the work around

Spent the day is a fog of pain. A grief haze for the cells, where you look up from the computer- where I work- and there is a bird in the bird feeder that Ever and I filled together yesterday, and that yesterday is a long way away, many more hours than 24. Pain extends time just as a human body on a rack. It pulls each second, micro-second, to its fullest being and ejects it balloon like with sensation so that the outer layer of cellular makeup shimmers with an energy just barely- but not all the way- contained. My lower right back, something there- something awful, or something pedestrian, I don't know. I will wait for insurance, soon! and then, maybe, an ultrasound, an x-ray.

Ailments As Possible Cause For This Lower Right Back and Groin Area Pain:

endometriosis scar tissue and lesions
kidney illness
intestinal blockage
deep muscle injury

I don't think it's muscular. It feels embedded, like a tick in my organs, just as swollen, hot and immobile.

The top right of my buttcheek went freezing cold. This means pressure inside.

Five Advil and a small relief. I am whitish in color and look exhausted. I feel the pinched lips of a person with chronic pain, the way I hold my body parts carefully and tightly in particular to the proximity of their space to the injured area, the way our family works around Mr. Curry right now, so unavailable, withdrawn, angry, stamped clear of emotion or empathy. Life has always required this of me, not in self pity, but just truth, I have never had a free place to breathe. At first, this happened to me, then I created it myself, again and again, like people do. 

The worst of pain occurs for me when I am unable to weep. Rage builds inside of me as damaging and futile as scar tissue encases the dried up lesions of disease across my abdomen. I ran four miles last night and finally during the third mile, I cried and cried and cried. It was pitch black and cold and the only witness were the robotic faces of cars flying by, headlights moving over me in a hot flash and then gone. I cried until I was less angry, and then I woke in the middle of the night, clutching my side and back in pain. Today I ate very little and breathed deeply and worked and took my girls to do the grocery shopping and I am going to by a heating pad and wrap it around my waist and back and put that baby to sleep. In the morning I will wake and do the things that mothers do and make as little as room as possible for the pain, not wanting to encourage her to stay.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

I remember when she announced her cancer. This post was necessary for me right now.

I am obsessed with this issue right now.  Spraying our food with Roundup. The comment stream was interesting, too, I read all of the comments. I buy organic.

I read the book The Wave in one short burst in Barnes and Noble one day. The memoir of a woman who lost her entire family in one moment, her two sons, husband and parents. Interview here

Merit Badge

What does your tongue tell you about your health?

Lola and I laughed a lot reading these: 21 Texts From Mom

As a working remotely mom, I loved this blog post: How Melissa Got Her Groove Back

9 Reasons My Child is Not Too Old To Breastfeed

Do you have Imposter Syndrome?

Friday, November 7, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

This is one of the most up front, as in stripped down to essentials, as in honest, as in brimming with clarity, as in laid like a gift at your feet, first person essays I've read in a while. On Kindness by Cord Jefferson in Medium

Mental health care in this country is in a terrible state. Everyone knows it. The way to change, as exemplified in this nightmarish story of one senator who was stabbed repeatedly by his psychotic son who then killed himself, is through personal narrative and petitioning which drives those who create law.

Something about kids you probably already knew, if you had a moment of unstructured day to remember it.

GMO's aren't 'all evil'. But they are not understood yet, still we unleashed them anyway, way before we knew what the hell we were doing. Here is one result. 

A photo series that reminds me of all the real magic in the world.

I just finished reading The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend As usual, the recounting of American history in the 1800's is devastating, provocative, engrossing, illuminating, humbling, heartbreaking, thrilling, beautiful and awful, all at once.

 Theo Padnos was kidnapped and held in Syria, tortured and shown the video of the journalists beheaded by Isis as he himself awaited news of his fate. Reading this was difficult, I had to stop twice and close my eyes and begin again. To imagine living it…impossible. We are only required to be brave enough to bear the truth that he had to live.

On Scary Mommy, You Know You Have A Toddler When…

I watched Girl Rising with Lola one night last week, and was so glad I did. Completely engrossing, often startlingly beautiful and imaginative, other times leaving us both crying a bit, this is a wonderful profile of 9 young girl's lives from 9 different parts of the globe. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lola's Poem: Priceless

Lola's class was assigned poetry- they had to write a poem about happiness, or depression, and Lola chose depression ( she's the least depressed kid, ever ) She wrote about coming out of the fog of pleasing other people, and finding yourself.

Her poem blew me away. I am so proud of her spirit, I am running over with it. I am going to show her the comments here, so if you want to encourage a young poet, this is it.


Dried blond wisps of hair blow into the eyes that crack open with tears. Cracked red nail polish like blood running through your veins. Diamonds fall to the ground. And remind me of those tears. You look at me; you know why I"m crying. 99 cent mascara eyes run, black horses running down my cheeks. Nervous tapping and looking down. I wish I could express myself in a book where I could be put into so many words. Maybe then they could understand. Heart bruised, hands bruised. Long days. Beating heart set apart to my own world and offered my imagination, happiness and slight love. I now walk stronger, I don't cry rivers anymore. Don't love me out of regret, love me because I am what I was meant to be. Not anything more, not anything less. So maybe the black horses get tired and stop running down my cheeks, and maybe I looked up and steadied my hands. And slight love turns into real love. And self respect has been earned. Remember you are priceless.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Response To 'Excavation' a memoir

I wanted to read Excavation because I heard about it everywhere I went online- on Twitter, Facebook, in various groups I was a part of, people were talking about this book. Wendy Ortiz has written a quietly and persistently honest recounting of the sexual molest that her eighth grade teacher- a guy without, it seems, any redeeming qualities, being that he is whiny, demanding, annoying, creepy and oh yes- a predator- perpetuated on her for four years. 

From the beginning this memoir affected me from a deeply personal place, largely because my Lola is in seventh grade, almost 13, and it was nearly impossible not to transpose my daughter into this situation as I read. As soon as I got to- " "Fondle?" he asked. "You want to know what 'fondle' means?" He gently poked me in the shoulder again, chucking. I could hear the purr in his voice, the one I was getting used to hearing on the phone almost every night. " I felt a rage that came from not only Wendy's own evocation of her confused, clumsy teenage desires and this man's lecherous flirting, but from a place that too many share, a place of recognition of being handled and passed over like a dark cloud by these kinds of men. Only Wendy was not passed over. Wendy's teacher had sex with her in her living room. 

What follows is part Wendy the novelist and part Wendy the teenage girl's journals. The glimpses into her journals are heartbreaking, as we are made aware of the fumbling attempts of a child to understand a dark predatory dance that she perceives as validation for her talent in writing. A full section of the beginning of this memoir revolves around Wendy the thirteen year old asking herself repeatedly, breathlessly, if he really- really?!- thought she had talent. 

Wendy's home life is evoked strongly, with scenes of lounge chairs, silent bedrooms and absentee parents that are drawn movingly. I was floored to learn that Wendy's mother is still alive and has never learned the truth of what happened to her with her English teacher, floored because of the guts it takes to write out such a dark personal story knowing that you do not know, and cannot control, what effect it might have on your life as you set it out into the world.

As the memoir works its way to increasingly sexual encounters, there is a growing disgust that breeds in the reader for this pathetic man, how he wheedles and whines at a teenage girl to know if they will 'still be friends' years from now, over and over, before and after he is molesting her. How he greets his 'girlfriend' with a kiss and introduces Wendy as his 'friend'. How he was the reason Wendy could write this sentence: ' It was not fair for him to have an orgasm, and then beg paranoia for us to stop what we're doing, me orgasmless. ' One is reminded of the quote which I will paraphrase:  if you didn't want to be written about, you shouldn't have been such an asshole.

Wendy's determined, consistent work to climb out of the hole she found herself in as a young adult is admirable and beautiful. She chipped away at herself and her past to heal and that is the most important thing about this story- the ability to heal. 

The beating heart of this memoir lies in the title- Excavation. Wendy mines here not just what her English teacher did to her, but the secret within a secret within a secret, the family legacy of silence that she finally broke through, most triumphantly so here, in this brave book.

Buy Excavation here

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

the mother woke on Saturday and immediately set herself. before opening her eyes she was priming herself for strength. this day will be good, she thought, this day will be good. she pulled her hair into a giant, floppy topknot and put on enough makeup to look if not refreshed, then less tired. she wore the dress, the one worn so often in the last two years it was thinning and sagging, coming unplucked. this Halloween at the pumpkin patch was a first. neither of her sons would be there, not the oldest- who hadn't come last year, either- nor the younger, just turned 18 and suddenly vibrating with a restless energy to launch himself away from any obligations of family. despite the mother's heartsore missing of these boys- eternally so, in her eyes- this is the only childhood the girls get. she knew that. she valued that. she honored that by rising to meet any joy that would meet her halfway.

the oldest daughter was turning thirteen as quickly as Sleeping Beauty's finger pricked that spindle, and her lanky beauty, so like her missing Aunt Lura, was becoming carved with the ferocious critiques of a teenage girl. the mother was becoming stupider and more embarrassing to the oldest daughter at a rate so rapid this year that she felt subhuman, reduced to a clumsy bunch of laugh track one liners that left the audience scrolling through their iPhones. still, the oldest daughter deeply loves the mother, and her sister, and her father, and her brothers- whose absence she fussed over that morning, braiding her long, blonde hair- and all her pack, so there is a smile underneath narrowed parameters of her gaze, if you look for it. you are twelve, the mother hummed in a little song all morning, you are twelve years old, lalala, twelve, you are, lalala. there were only two months left of twelve.

the littlest daughter was thrilled when she went to bed- nursing to sleep- and thrilled when she woke up, rubbed her eyes and bounded out of bed, tearing off her underwear and crowing ' i am going pee!  come on, Momma! ' the littlest daughter was in love with her family, from the two dogs with horrifically bad breath to the kitten that procured many time outs for the little girl, all the way up the totem pole to her grandparents. she was the smallest of a large family, and she felt, as did her older sister, the safety net of that love and support in her every step. unlike the older daughter, the littlest daughter was happily and totally immersed in her pack, and not straying at the edges with a restless flick of hair. the littlest knew the pumpkin patch meant the horse ride, and ice cream, and movement. movement was life, and life was happiness. 

the father woke earlier than everyone else in the family, as usual. during the workday he woke at 5:30am, sometimes earlier if the job called for it, and often on family excursions he paced annoyed but patient as the three girls pulled brushes through their hair, jeans over their legs, lotion on their skin. he was priming himself, also. this day will be good, he thought. i'm going to make this day good. his eyes were swollen and the arch of his back and neck were curved as if already exhausted. yet he stood in the beautifully lit valley basin and snapped a photo of the three girls. and it was good.

this family: everyone doing something for everyone else, all but the smallest, who did for everyone what she knew nothing of, but was essential- loved unconditionally and easily, found joy in everything.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dakota's band at The Viper Room

how can my son be 20 years old and playing at The Viper Room?

because time and reality are experienced by us in such a limited way. sometimes i do wonder if everything happens. sometimes it feels like everything has happened, like i can feel all the options and detours moving toward their conclusions, and the fork that this life takes is only one fork that my one mind in this plane can follow. sometimes i think that at the exact moment i embrace my oldest son i am also holding him as an infant, a toddler, a child, each and every moment happening like a chorus alongside this embrace, in this moment. i can feel those tributaries rushing all around us, as if i could simply move and place my hand in the river of my son at two years old, and be there, pull my hand out, and be back here. 

and sometimes i just think, AWESOME