Thursday, August 28, 2014

at the forefront

Here I am, in Starbucks, in California, living a life that is safer and easier than most of human life has ever been since the dawn of cavemen. The internet would not say so, but when my daughter dreams of England long ago I think of heads on chopping blocks, religious persecution, rape uncontested and terrifying kings and queens and papal violence through the word of God. When she went through her Little House on the Prairie phase I thought of Indian warfare, scalping, raping, cutting off of noses, roasting people over fires- of the white people who insisted, beyond all reason, to insert themselves into Indian land and claim it as their own, despite the death of not only the men, but many many uncounted for women and children, lost to history, burnt to their ground in their log cabins, and the deaths of the Indians and their families, murdered and raped also, children also. History is littered with bodies of innocents and warriors alike, and todays life is no more evil or terrifying than it ever was, except for possibly that the expectation of safety has created such a wall between us and the threats to our life and well being that are still present that we are shocked by it in a way that didn't exist before.

At times I look around me and feel so insulated I can barely breathe.

When Mr. Curry is ill, it feels as if there is no room for us. As if we live inside of a commercial where everyone has white teeth, good hair, mischievous children and gophers in their yard while we stumble on set, barely making it and in tears, therapist in tow.

Now, he is well. He has been well for a few months now. Navigating this is an hourly job. I am hyper aware of his facial expressions, body language and the way his half shaven beard does or does not cut across his jaw, the way he pushes his hands into his armpits when he talks, the way he looks inward, or at me. When I see him recede, the smallest wave pull itself back a foot or two- I panic. I break out in a sweat, my arms ache, a stone in my throat won't swallow, I am nauseous and terrified. 'This is it, he's leaving again, he's going to be angry soon, very angry'
repeats in my brain like a bell rung during the Comanche moon, when attack is imminent. The hour passes, he moves forward into his eyes, and I am exhausted.

Post traumatic something. Love hurts. Fear based decision making. Co-dependant. Isolated.

So sweetheart, it's OK, he tells me. I see he is there in his face, present in his jawline, mouth, and his eyelids are not sagging with effort to hold up the human body, bipolar being so draining and exhausting that at times he walks with his head tilted downward. Sweetheart, he says, and I am almost all there. I love him so much, he is my best friend, he is my partner, my walk mate. I am almost all there, but part of me, it recedes.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Around the World

Ferguson on my mind- young black boys on my mind, cops on my mind. Guns on my mind, this poster: Guns don't kill people, people kill people, guns without people don't kill people. Robin Williams, bipolar, the heroic endurance of people who hold onto life and those they love until every last molecule of strength has been burned, that crazy light we only get so much of as Robin told us, only so much light. My sons on my mind. White boys, heart of my heart, blood of my blood, loves of my life, already so much fear when they are young, aggressive, posturing and ego drivin, yet less, because they are not black. Less fear that someone will randomly kill them, or attack them. The deep sadness and fear of a world I understand more as I grow and learn our history, but less as my heart expands agonizing inch by inch to love every person, the face of every person, even the hated and the loathed, to learn to love the essence of life is a potent oil that makes the lessons of history harder to hold, harder to remember when you try to understand the random violence and death we inflict on one another. The enlarged sore shaped like California on the back of my neck that my daughter covered for me with concealer. The hardened scab I peeled off that says, ' I Am Afraid '.

Maggie and Ravi on my mind. Maggie, a young white girl somehow in Africa, creating a small village that cares for orphans. Where did she begin to imagine she could achieve this, and how do I pass this imagining and believing on to my children? How to obtain the small steps. Ravi, a young, orphaned and abandoned baby boy, ill with sepsis, left at Maggie's orphanage. 'Like'. 'Follow'. Images on the Facebook. Ravi's wizened, helpless face, emaciated arms and legs, bulbous belly, Maggie's frantic and heartbroken posts on the Facebook as she believes he will die. He lives. Maggie sleeps with him, feeds him with a dropper, 'like'. Ever looking at Lola's yearbook. ' Momma, can I have this Facebook? ' she asks. Ian's young friend, his young friend's desperate mother, on the Facebook asking for help to give her son the operation that will keep him from going blind. 'Like' 'Share' 'Donate'. Ian's friend gets his operation, even without raising the full amount. Right things happen.

Here in Poway, our town, the town of scraped desert face rezoned with trees, flanked by the hills and further off mountaintops that in Winter, are covered in snow, there was an 8 year old girl who went to Yellowstone with her family for vacation. Like my sister in law took her family, just weeks ago. This 8 year old girl stepped off the path and fell, the news repeats over and over FIVE HUNDRED FEET to her death. On the Facebook, her face, big smile, tiny white teeth, easy eyes that are loved. This tiny person. Her parents. Her parents. Her parents. Facebook says, ' town mourns '. I mourn her. Her parents.

Babies on my mind. Last week, Dakota in town, came for dinner to our new house, we call The Blue House, for most rooms we painted various shades of blue, but the living room which is bright white. All four kids , Ed myself and Dakota's best friend since 5th grade sit outside for dinner. A baby on the other side of our fence is crying hysterically. He sounds maybe one and a half. He cries, I look. He cries, he cries, he cries. Ed says ' this is why I had the TV so loud when you came home. ' Sleep training, I think. I look. Lola says heatedly ' how can anyone! what is wrong with them! ' and I say to myself ten years ago and also now to my 12 year old daughter, ' we don't know. we won't judge our neighbors. we don't know. just send love. ' the windows of that house begin to slam, one by one, someone angry is walking through that house and slamming shut the windows. The baby is not crying. My friend Taymar has her baby boy Benny. Benny has Downs Syndrome. He is very cute, so cute that Lola says it makes her feel angry to look at pictures of him, because things that are too cute make us want to squeeze them, and if we can't squeeze them, we feel angry. This makes me think of Mice and Men.

Dakota added another tattoo to his side, the state of California. Inside, there are more meanings. There are symbols. Like a cave drawing thousands and thousands of years ago. At night, I watch documentaries when Lola is not with me. My favorite shows are on ancient Mayans, Vikings and Egyptians. One night, I watch a long recounting of Pompeii. In one of the preserved houses from that great death trap, there is a toilet, made so two people could sit and talk while they shat. In Pompeii at this time, this is how they did everything, communally. On the wall, 2,000 years ago, some young man had written, ' Here, Aman took a good long shit. ' Things don't change very much, do they.

Monday, August 11, 2014


you go down 
i'll take it slow
go down where the dead people go-

to the shore,
lie flat like a shell

face crack
wide open to the skull
sun bleached bells

ring bright 
sunburst tones in the eyes-
those eyes yet

but not, held open to the
briny wave

tongue clean the 
face god gave.

the slap cold water
heartbeat of deep blue belly

a seahorse,
dolphin eyes, the tentacles
of jelly.

sun inside the skin,


far off 
hear them?
the living, noisemaking as they do

i churn
in the riptide
one exhale behind you.

you go down...
i'll take it slow
go down where the dead people know.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hope For A Sea Change- a memoir, by Elizabeth Aquino

Elizabeth is a writer and blogger and one of my first and best online finds. Her blog A Moon, Worn As If It Could Be A Shell has grown in voice and talent in the last two years to a point where Elizabeth writes blog posts that leave me mulling over once again what an awesome gift it is to have privy to free, original writing like this online. Elizabeth writes primarily about her children, and even moreso her daughter Sophie, and this is the subject matter of her first published book, the memoir
Hope For A Sea Change.

I can tell you that this memoir is about Elizabeth's infant daughter Sophie, how she flicked and quivered in a way that scared her parents, how she was eventually diagnosed with the unthinkable- a serious, life threatening disorder, how her parents came to realize there was going to be no instant or even 'hard fought for but possible' cure in the coming years, but instead a long uphill battle for treatments that never worked the way any parent would want them to for their child.

What I can't tell you is how reading Elizabeth's voice will affect you. It hits me in the gut, and it is to her immense credit as a writer that this effect is not even solely because of the serious, heartbreaking subject matter, but instead it is Elizabeth herself who grabs you by the throat, heart and mind and insists that you look at things the way they are, the way they were for her, and illuminates those events with a particular intelligence and sharp but deeply human observations. Elizabeth is a stirring writer, and a wonderful friend and I am so proud of her and this work she has created. Look to the end of the memoir for a glimpse into hope- a sea change.

Buy Hope For A Sea Change here at Shebooks or here at Amazon

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

everything in threes

Listening to Elvis love songs in the car, California skyscape and Ever's bright face in the rearview mirror, wind in my hair and dark blue chipped nail polished nails gripping the wheel. I recognize the joy in my life like you recognize beautiful artwork. I am not in it. I stand outside of it chewing the inside of my mouth, waiting to be taken in by my own life again.

The doctor turned the vaginal ultrasound and turned her old yellowed machine my way so I could see: one thickened uterus, one missing ovary, one ovary with a 3 centimeter endometrioma hanging off it like a boil, and another almost as large 'normal' cyst, simply filled with blood, instead of tissue and blood, like the endometrioma. The doctor pressed firmly above my pelvic bone, willing that other ovary to be seen, but she could not find it. What is more concerning, the ill ovary we can see, or the mystery ovary?

Next month, come back, she said. For free, this time. I'll look again during a different part of your cycle, and surely your uterine lining will be thinner, and surely this cyst- the 'normal' one- will be gone. As for the rest, well, you're fucked dear.

She didn't say that, but the doctor in my head did.

Endometriosis. Such a bizarre word, like octopus. Fitting for a bizarre disease that grows willy nilly all over your organs, leaving behind hot pulsing buttons, lesions that bleed like water dripping off of pipes, and scar tissue that builds thick and balky like the tissue of nails, twining guts together, piercing the lining of tissues so tender they never see the light of day until the body gives up the ghost. It hurts. It really, really hurts.

My old doctor, decade ago, thought I was a freak. When my cysts grew, I could feel them. I could feel the blood pumping into them. He would say, no- you can't possibly. But then he would do the ultrasound, and there they were, baby octupi, spitting out blood and swelling their bulbous heads into my pelvic cavity. Where it hurts most, you can feel the heat radiating from my body. If you press your hand there, you will feel it. It feels good to have a hand pressed on my swollen abdomen. I ask Lola, sometimes, to knead my belly like dough while we watch Ally McBeal. Just avoid the cysts. What an awful word, cyst. Fitting.

In the morning I wake to my right side throbbing and swollen, and Ever jumps on me, three years old, three, the number of centimeters my cyst is. Everkins is in a fantastic mood because I remembered that I hadn't been paying enough attention to her, which as a mother has never been my failing, but lately, with my job and this insane moving from house to house... after I realized her zipping crazy making was due to attention grabbing, I scooped her up after work and we spent three hours together, just her and I. Eating, ice cream, the park. She was glowing the way only the very young and healthy glow, like a sunflower, like the sun off of water. She was full.

Now that we live nowhere, the car feels like a home. We are in the car so often, and it is more familiar than the beds we are sleeping in. I slide Elvis in the CD player and the girls and I take off. The wind is dry and crisp, the sky is blue and my thoughts are simple. It is just the three of us. For the moment, I move my hand from my side and in the air, waving to the girls in the back. We slide down the street. I know what I have. I don't know how to make it real again, but I am good at not giving up.

Monday, July 21, 2014

cloud cover

Depression is to the _ as the cloudcover is to the field.

Standing in a Starbucks I hear an old man respond angrily to an inquiring barista. She is a heavily bracketed, peppy woman in her late fifties with salty hair and a grim, relentless smile. ' How is your wife, ' she asked. ' Dead! ' he barked. The grim smiling barista took a step back with her shaker. ' Oh, ' she said.'  I was feeding her. She didn't look good. They told me she had more time! I left the room and she died! ' he cried out, shaking his head to the floor. His hands were so tightly clenched they looked like tree stumps. He repeated ' They told me she had more time. ' The barista had replenished her grim smile and tossed the shaker determinedly. ' I'm so sorry, ' she replied. ' Was it a sarcoma? '
The old man stared across the room, one leg crossed over the other at the ankle, his arm bent over the barista partition. He looked like he was talking about taxes. Or his last vacation.

I paid for his coffee without saying anything to him and he said nothing to me about it in return.

Our eyes met. I felt a terrible and infantile sadness that I might, forever- now almost 40, close to eternity in our culture- be the kind of woman who when in the company of men, wonders if any of them has ever raped or molested a female. Even old men who have just lost their wives to a possible sarcoma.

My mind can see, in a moment, the endless possibilities of the circumstances these molestations could have come about. He was drunk, and had been rejected by his girlfriend for the millionth time, and this girl- she was a nobody, a mouse, and his father had always talked this way about women, and even though he was going to be different, this one time- well, no one would know. She was nobody. Or he was in his late thirties, and found himself with a Lolita on his lap at the slumber party of his youngest daughter, and his business was failing and his wife was skin and bones and he was alone on this planet, as alone as a moth, or a lizard, or a rock thrown into a field, and he had been hiding the idea his entire life that it was socially unacceptable but true that young girls liked the sexual attentions of older men, that it gave them confidence and esteem. Or maybe he was a teenage boy and his father always emasculated him and his girlfriend said 'not in my underwear' for the thousandth time and he had every image of every man taking what he wants from a woman- so many images- stored in his brain, just enough- more than enough- to reassure his subconscious that somehow in the scheme of things this was, how it goes.

The list is long.

I can't feel my fingers, I can't feel my toes, this is the song, you know how it goes... depression isn't an essay that ends with a period or even, an ellipse. Depression is not a book, nor can its shadowy form be captured in oil, photo, or art, however great. For me, the only true expression of depression is in the face of mammals. Human beings, monkeys, tigers, lions, sea lions, their trembling whiskers turned downward.

Depression is to _ as sea lions are to _

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

red wine, sleep

if you don't have an image are you really a blog post?

the louder my life is roaring around me the quieter i am. i have little to say. 

here in la jolla the ocean is blocks away. i hear it roaring and it fills the empty place where my thoughts were tangled like a briar bush. we are fading like roses from the sunburns of a long afternoon on the shore.

my autoimmune diseases are blooming. too much staying on top of things brings the body under.

my side hurts and hurts like the persistent crying of an infant. no soothing stops it. it wakes me at night, drags me from the edge of sleep, pulses under the ocean sounds. under. i have an appointment, expensive. they will look deep inside of my body and see what is there to be seen. ovaries that hang like buds waiting to burst or be dead headed. i might be angry at them. they might kill me one day. they are diseased already. but they brought me my children. and the last, Ever, they allowed me after two white coats said she was impossible, that i was done carrying children. 

i am ready for red wine, and sleep.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!!

Shebooks hasn't only published my memoir ( which has 18 reviews on Amazon, each and every one I am so appreciative of. Reviews are very important for sales! ) OBVIOUSLY, but they have published many amazing short story collections, journalism, other memoir and fiction. For the monthly price ( under 6$ ) you can't beat it.

I've watched all of Season 2 of OITNB, and this brief write up articulates clearly the kind of real life situations prisoners are living with in the jail the series uses as its model.  “Why are they there? By and large, they’re there because they couldn’t make bail, because they’re poor. And if they had five hundred dollars or fifteen hundred dollars to post bond, they wouldn’t have to be there.”

I'm a big fan of Roxane Gay- her writing, but also her general presence online, which is formidable, intellectual, passionate, stubborn yet searching, engaged and transparent. Here are her 6 favorite books

The newest breakthroughs in cancer research are truly thrilling

A blogger writes a powerful blog post that goes from being flippant to political, on women dying because they have to defecate and urinate in fields, exposing them to murderers.

This mother of a 13 year old boy who died at his best friends house wants us to ask ' Do you keep unsecured guns in your home? ' My two cents: I have asked, but not 'unsecured' just: Do you keep guns in your home? It's awkward and not received well, every time. 

A very engrossing write up on the author of The Fault In Our Stars

This boy has been in a terrible car accident, hit by a drunk driver. Help his family during his hospitalization and rehab.

This is one of the best blog posts I've ever read.  Corbyn Hightower writes.

A woman finds a note in an airport that says READ ME. Find out what it's all about. So moving.

Ever heard a noise that drove you nuts. Read this fascinating piece on the mysterious Hum.

Monday, June 16, 2014

thank you, house

we are leaving this grass and shadow ground in two weeks. 

two years of memories and years 1-3 for Ever, years that i as her mother will remember as some of the most precious of my life and that she will not remember, but will bear, in her heart, her mind. years that shaped her underlying structural beliefs of relationships and the very basic truths of life: am i safe? am i worthwhile? am i happy? am i ok if i am sad? am i capable? yes, yes, yes, yes, yes Everkins. 

this house was an important part of that foundation. the bold, cheerful colonial style shutters, the wide wrap round porch spilling with toys, the bright white kitchen with potted plants, the dogs panting from the back porch to the front yard grass, the big master bedroom with our bed overflowing with pillows and comforters and mommy's computer, desk and quotes and pictures taped to the wall. the bathroom where daddy gave her a bath every night, often joining her to have his hair washed. lola's bedroom, every year with more personality, this year with The Breakfast Club poster hanging over her bed. the boys room, messy and under vacuumed, the place where Ever appears with handfuls of change. the living room: tv time, reading curled into the couch, rolling on the floor with siblings for Family Night. 

thank you, house, for every sheltered night, for every air conditioned summer afternoon, for every crackling fireplace, for the cool pretty wood floor the dogs pressed themselves against. thank you house, for the shadows across the wall, for the blue light at evening tide. thank you house, for the raccoons on the porch i have made friends with, their bandit eyes gleaming, watching me as they eat the dog food. thank you house, for being strong, warm, safe and true. thank you for providing sanctuary.