Sunday, May 30, 2010

Summer Dreamin: Nantucket

Nantucket beach image The Getty

" For me, this small house, which I stayed in every summer from ages 6 to 35, has always been framed:house as House. Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and John Rauch completed it in 1972, and shortly thereafter it gained renown. Architectural historian Vincent Scully called it “what modern architects have always said they most wanted: a true vernacular architecture—common, buildable, traditional in the deepest sense, and of piercing symbolic power.” It is also where I lost my virginity, was proposed to, had my biggest family fights. "

Photo and words from Anne Trubek, at Dwell

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

for one moment she stops and presses her abdomen agains the sink

bone china in my right hand.
up against the wrist, the white
slice of handle, the blue river vein:
a baby could be crying. a kitten

mouth is open, violent and right.
red brown food skids across the
linoleum, skids into the places
where things fall and disappear

in a kitchen: my ankles crack.
from the other rooms other lives,
my husband's smell is thick.
the cleaver is out on cutting board

the cutting board slides into the places
where things slide and emerge clean,
up against my wrists, my fingers,
slick water and the pinprick of blood

hanging from white bone
china. there is no clock.
there is time, or not time.
blood, or not blood. red, or not red.

this place, or not this place.
this kitchen, or not this kitchen
this day, or not this day.
in this sink, or not in this sink

the scald rises like a baby's red bottom
up on the bone white, a gifted hive,
a matter of principle, the place
where things burn when

erupt and come dirty, the kitchen.

maggie may ethridge

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

After All, You're My Wonderwall: Marriage and Bipolar Disorder

With my husband's permission I am going to write out the story of his breakdown and diagnosis of Bipolar 2 in the first year of our marriage and it's effects on our life since. This story will be told in segments. The stigma of Bipolar is enormous and has not begun to decrease in power as it has with other mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. This story intends only two things: to be entirely honest in it's telling, and for that honesty to help break down some of the
stigmata of it's truth. In writing this I am assuming a level of respect toward my husband and his story in the comments, as well as an understanding that this is a man I love deeply and have committed myself to.

The words accrue- breakdown, psychosis, unstable- until the person in the chair, hands sweaty and folded in his lap, feet pressed together, head lowered- progression, irrational, medication-feels sure he is entirely made of this hardened skin now, just these words- chronic, genetic- forming layer over layer in a reverse scleroderma, thickening from the outside in, hidden inside of a disease both corrupt and stigmatized.


One year into a marriage, he wakes in the morning, puts on his workman's shoes, pulls up the half cut green shorts and collared tee, grabs his lunch, looks at his sleeping wife and feels nothing. Oh, he thinks, I don't love my wife anymore. He looks around his house, all the objects unforgiving, cold, pointless, and realizes I don't want this. In the back of his mind a small voice is turning, turning, whispering something he leans inward to hear but cannot dredge the concern to wait for. Turning from his wife, his children, his house, he steps out of the door and is overwhelmed with the engulfing certainty that he is stepping into a vortex, an entirely different emotional life and reality that before had been hidden, but now in his dry, clear assessment is as true and pointless to avoid as the leg he must move in front of him to get to the truck which he will move to get him to his job.

The day moves quickly and he is thinking quickly and jokes fly out of his mouth in loudspeaker, his points are sharp and his comebacks sharper, his laughter at one point rising so high that he stops, wondering for one moment- but no, he moves on, working, laughing, talking, sure that when he gets home he will sit his wife down and explain to her that he cannot and does not love her or this life they have made, and that it is right. Then there is lunch-break, where he pulls out the turkey, spinach and mayonaise sandwich his wife has made for him and takes a bite before gagging on the thing rising from his abdomen, a grief as great and senseless and shapeless as the certainty of the day had been hard and clear and purposeful. His hands are shaking and his eyes are filling with humiliating tears; he grabs a napkin- she has scribbled I love you on it, like he is a goddamn grade schooler- and presses it to his face, feeling the working of his cheeks and the grinding of his teeth against this thing. He is gripped with the desire to bang his head into the cement pavement, until his skull is cracked and the thin white fluid of his brain leaks out it's yolk.

The sun moves over his short cut hair and the trembling stops. He takes a deep breath, another,
holds his hands out in front of him. They are still. He lifts the sandwich to his mouth and begins again.

At home, his wife is holding the baby, the two boys rolling on the couch. Dad! Dad! They shout, and he is happy to see them, happy to high five them and rough their salty hair. His wife's face makes him feel sad. He remembers how he used to love her and reassures himself it couldn't have been just yesterday- this must have been coming for a while, he was denying it, he is now stronger and can face the truth that he does not love her or want a family life. He looks back at her with this reminder on his tongue and feels a great anger. She makes this so much harder than it has to be, he thinks. She is exhausting. No sooner does the thought enter his mind than he feels exhausted, leaden, his arms and legs pulse with deep fatigue and a hard ache, his eyes droop and he yawns.

I have to talk to you, he tells her. She brings the baby to the kitchen table. He sits across from her and begins to tell her he does not love her, cannot do this anymore, and wants a divorce- only after cannot do this anymore the look on her face sends him swimming in that vertigo and the vomit rises again and he cannot say the words. He watches her fingers turn indigo in her grip on herself and travels from the fingers to her face and shakes his head yes in answer to her questions. She is sobbing and the boys are silent in the next room. The baby begins to cry.

She pulls out a heavy breast and nurses the baby as tears curl round the baby's blue eyes and fingers on the breast from her mother's face. He looks at his own hands. He looks at his wife's hands. What is wrong? She is asking, and he shakes his head. I can't, he says, I can't. She is saying words about love and commitment and when she sees those words are bouncing from his shape like pebbles from the side of a dam, she moves toward him, cupping the baby's head in one hand and taking his with the other, demands him to look at her, look at me, she says, sweetheart, my sweetheart, please... And he stands and leaves the room knowing in this thing he is a bastard but not knowing why and not able to feel it, feel guilt or shame or care, not able to feel anything but the great rough and suffocating confusion and vortex of the yellow yolk and thin white fluid of the thick of the center of his brain.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

desirable levels

photo: anna aden

I want to lay naked at nighttime but the chills erupt. My thyroid is low. Too low. Finally, a recommendation to an endocrinologist, which I requested from Kaiser at the beginning of the pregnancy: denied. Now at 13 weeks my thyroid result came back .25. Normal being .40 - 4.00 and desirable for pregnancy is to be on the high level of normal, to prevent the developmental delays that can come for a baby in a low thyroid mother. I added another pill four days ago, when I got the online results and did not need a doctor to tell me it was best for baby to add more thyroid. I am angry at my doctor you couldn't possibly be having symptoms already, we just changed the dose... it's not necessary to test you yet... and angry at myself for not being more aggressive. It's my fucking baby.

I am slack jawed and fuzzy eyed, achy limbed and exhausted, throwing up a few times a day again and spending the time in between sick and tired. The workweek is exhausting. I come home from work and collapse on the couch while Mr. Curry makes dinner and wake to eat, homework, tidy, shower, and collapse again.

This week is the hardest. It is when I miscarried. That baby died at 10 or 11 weeks so I am past that danger point, but somehow it is still this week, when the baby slid violently out of me, that is the hardest to get through. I am down to half the Zoloft I was taking before I became pregnant; the weight of this physical unhappiness and engulfment is becoming harder to handle gracefully. I find myself complaining more to Mr. Curry at home and fighting the urge to sulk. It is amazing how the physical suffering of the body can force out the personality with the ease and strength of a wave pushing the swimmer underwater. All the rest of the world's people and their chatter and cares and conversation murmur around me like traffic outside the window- real enough, but inconsequential. A smiling face, interested eyes, appropriate responses- all these at work are actual work for me right now, with my body constantly calling out, squeezing, aching, vomiting,shuddering. I find people who demand bright chatter extremely annoying.

I am desperate to prove myself as a novelist. I must finish my book. It is good, very good, but I don't know if it's great- but it's very good and I have absolute faith it will get an agent and publisher but I must finish those final pages!!! Please send me strength of spirit and mind to type those words, those sentences, and finish my novel. I am meant to do this, I know it, and it gnaws at me every night as I sleep that I am leaving my passion to the wind. The unhappy physical state of the last few months have made writing so much more difficult. I remind myself nothing will get easier when Biggie Pea is born. I must finish before November, when baby is due.

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unknown daughter
sisters portrait

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Where The Wild Things Are

Every ordinary day begins with the extraordinary fact of life, my own strange and intense and wild conciousness, physical body, the fluxing and working of my heartbeat on the soft of my arm as I fall asleep; the life of this world, it's trees bending in stillness and dance, the bacteria rich soil underneath, the flowers and weeds and plants and large mountains around town, the birds that caw and scrape through the streets, the racoons and coyotes and rabbits, trying to find space for their lives amidst dense suburbia; the lives of my children, the miracle that remains a miracle no matter how many times it is duplicated and experienced, that one body and another body come together and by three months along, an entirely new person with fingernails and legs and eyes and ears and legs that bend and stretch exists deep in the abdomen of the woman: the last miracle, my unborn baby, 12 weeks along, as vigorous and lively and beautiful as the sluice of bird wing through the Spring air, the tremble of wind on leaf, the stamp of my daughter's foot in

The First Trimester Screening went easily, 20 minutes of movie viewing for Mr. Curry and I, watching our Biggie Pea kick, bring arms above the head, roll over, push the tiny feet against my uterus in a perfect picture of every bone in the foot. My thyroid is underperforming again, so I'll be upping my dose tonight. All other indicators are good.

The normal for me has always been excrutiating, a fact that absolutely works against a functioning mature adult life. I can guess at my calamatious childhood and it's constant tremulous swingings- the dramatic fights with my parents where my father threw fruit baskets and pots against the wall, screaming, my mother locking herself in her room, also screaming, crying. The constant moving, the evictions, the marriage on the edge of divorce but never falling through until the girls were 17 and 15, already a childhood lived. The poverty, the lonliness, the isolation, the lying, the cruelty. The stories of my parents great love, in the beginning. Thier passion. As a child these things are taken in and received as Communion and forever after you can tell yourself it is not what it was, while your blood boils and believes you not. As an person, I have always craved the elevated, the shaft of light on my face, the eruption of laughter, the timeless love, the absolute convictions, the bright intelligence, the painful struggles.

Every move toward stability- being on time, working the same job, having children, sticking in a marriage, eating the same healthy foods, taking the same healthy vitamins, brush teeth, spit, shower, rinse, repeat- it has taken me my entire adult life to find joy in this. Looking as hard as I possibly could until my eyes teared, to see the possibilities of joy. Reading has been, as always, a great help and equalizer. Lives unseen by me but still experienced and understood, inner workings explained.

I work, I come home, I rest, I clean, I parent, I love, I do as we all do, and this Biggie Pea rides on those calmer seas. I can find wild things, I can make wild things, in bed, with my children, on weekends, in mud puddles and sunshine and beaches and showers and midnight hours and novels and art and singing and whispering and even the fighting and worrying and frustration.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


*gone to mrs. basil's files

maggie may ethridge

if you think reading about someone else's body parts is lame, then we never knew each other at all

I handed Mr Curry the newest edition of US magazine. With a page torn out, which I held balled in my sweaty hand. I flopped the magazine on his chest. You can read this, I said, but I tore out these girls in bikinis. I just had to. He laughed and I laughed but I threw that sweaty ball of magazine page away.

Lola burst into the room announcing she was growing up, and her Dad and I smelled her sweaty pits. Plus, one of her niplits (this is our family word for little girl breasts) has popped out. One of them, but she's counting.

Dakota has co-started a company called Wake Up Industries and they are selling stickers and shirts. The stickers just came in and one is a big ole Buddha and underneath is says Buddha Is Phat. At some point I'll have a link. I'm proud of him.

Ian is leaving for a week long trip to NY and Washington DC. He worked damn hard gethering the money to pay for the school trip- which he was invited to go to - including sacrificing Xmas and Bday gifts for money. I'm proud of him.

Mr. Curry smells like soft leather and worn tee shirts and dirt and safety. If he could be made into a cologne I'd be rich.

A baby bird flew from a bush in my mom's backyard right on her knee and looked up at her in a friendly way before chirping and flying off. LUCKY.

I have changed my thongs to large ladies underwear, cementing my current role as carrier of child and impairing my sexual mojo.

I often stop when I hear something that stands out and say either 'that's the name of my new band' or 'that would be a great name for a porn movie.' Whenever I say that's the name of my new band Lola rolls her eyes and says MOM. Why do you always say that when you know you don't have a band? Today in conversation these fantastic porn movie names came up:
wadded underwear
jelly rolls and lingerie
tiny tim and the headbangers

According to an update, my Biggie Pea is the size of a fig.

It's diconcerting when you lie down happily in your child's bunkbed, humming, and glance up to find I HATE MAGGIE carved in the underside wood of the top bunk. Four years ago I pissed him off so bad he called me Maggie instead of Mom. Impressive anger redirection.

I have no internet because we couldn't pay our COX bill. I am finding ways to check in here but cannot spend the time I normally do. I miss you. I received a gift in the mail from a blog friend and it made my freaking WEEK. The gift timing and her words could not have been more perfect or more appreciated. I don't know when we will pay our bill but we will and it shouldn't be longer than a few weeks. Although that is clearly longer than any red blooded blogger would like, it's been refreshing and I don't feel blue about it.

Hug it out, bitches!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

breakfast with a writer

i told you this:
i make eggs from Cornish hensand added quickly
i mean this literally.later we ate at 8 am
in the light of non light of kitchen
you cracked your egg
pressed your finger into the yolk
slid the yellow sun through your lips
with a great sucking swallow.
i sat back arms crossed
and made eye contact
through the not sun and not light
finally obtaining proof
of your eager consumption
of myself.
and you smiled weakly
unsure of the balance of power
or the possible meanings of your toast.

maggie may ethridge

Sunday, May 9, 2010

greetings from the inside

Greetings from the inside of my undereye skin, where I spend an inordinate amount of time lately- there, and my guts. My eyes tell me I am exhausted, I am weak, I am excited, I am intellectually stimulated, I am happy, I am sad, I am facing inward or outward; my stomach tells me I am sick, I am pregnant, I am acidic and roiling, I am taking it all in or forcing it all out, I am afraid, I am honest, I am smelling something delicious smelling something terribly foul like underarm sour or the soft flat wetness of roadkill that hurts my heart daily.

I roam through my house absorbed and agitated with all I want to do and my physical self will not let me do without chills, vomit, faintness; I feel reduced to a Victorian womankind, weak and lightheaded, swooning and often bedridden. Oh I am in the family way. I am carrying child. I am carrying children. I often carry my own self like a shadow person, observing with great resentment the goings on of the buttery fleshed woman on my shoulders. I want to scrape corners clean with a toothbrush. I want to work like my red headed mother did when I was a child, without an outside world job, burnishing the house into a gleaming shining empire of cleanliness and smoothness. I want to strip walls, paint, rip up carpet, buy new sheets, patch holes in the wall, shave my husband's burly facial hair into a neater nest. I want to reduce to manage.

There is no sex for the first three months, we agreed. This baby will not come out of my womb on any violotion of mine, we are encouraging him or her with our sexless orgasmless prescence to nourish and cling to the uterine walls, the placenta. I don't take caffiene, or gluten. I abstain.

Days pass and the child absorbs more than the calcium in my bones, there are hours of sleep given, there are legs crossed and trips untaken, there are plans unmade and a house unkept, there is the reduction. There is hope and wanting for pink baby flesh and smooth eyes like thumbprints of the other side we will gaze in for the first few months, to see what has been seen and like Mary Poppins knew, will be forgotten as the child grows in this world and leaves the etherworld behind. All is transformed.

My children rub my stomach and my husband weighs my breasts with large working hands like two great scales. I am purple nippled and rounded, I am inward. I am exactly the pod around the seed which keeps quiet until the great song is sung and the flower erupts with all it's smell and shape and movement and reach.

I am 11 weeks. I am burgeoning with hope. Let us make this all the way..

Happy Mother's Day

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

National Figure Out How To Make Grown-Up Money Week

This week is declared National Figure Out How To Make Grown-Up Money week. I'm devoting myself, all swollen itchy breasted bubble stomached 155 pounds 5 foot 7 inches of me, to moving toward my goal of not being The Working Poor anymore. Tangible steps must be taken, which can include speaking to a person about how they did xyz, checking into a college, emailing a question geared towards moving me toward the goal, and cannot include abandoning myself to delirious daydreaming about such frills as affording health insurance for my whole family, paying bills before the absolute last possible day or ELSE, replacing my husband's tennis shoes before the rips in the sides actually hang over his feet, paying Lola's Brownie fees on time and canceling our trash pick up so we can avoid having that monthly expense. Dakota's first cavity got fixed a month and half ago. The next one was canceled twice, so far, and I'd like to afford it before it becomes a root canal.

I've never ever been able to come up with a career goal that didn't make me sick with despair. I haven't been able to think of anything that makes a livable income which also wouldn't drive me to a higher zoloft dose and large amounts of red wine. Writing is and always will be my first love, what I have dreamed of doing professionally since age 5. I might have been able to make a living at it, had I started at the 'normal age' and finished school, but getting pregnant at 19 and becoming completely totally and thunderstruck in love with my baby boy changed all that. I worked full time as a nanny, making poverty level wages- less than minimum wage per hour- and went to school at night while my mom watched Dakota, but in the end the grind won, and my classes got fewer, stress and stressful events piled up, my illness sapped my energy and focus, and I finally came to a stuttering halt 3 classes short of my Associates Degree- 2 maths and one Biology Lab.

Speech Pathology. This is what I'm thinking of. I am still working on my novel and expect to complete it before baby arrives. I must also decide on a reasonable career goal day job, and begin heading that way. Speech Pathology doesn't bore me to tears, makes a liveable wage, is always open for job opportunities, and I could do a year and half program and begin working- after achieving my AA. I have to figure out how to afford my AA classes. They are cheap at the local community college, but even cheap is more than we have. So working on that. Also have to figure out how the hell I'm going to pay for year and half of school when California has a worse bank account than I do. I'm negatively thinking that the school won't be able to completely cover my costs. Job for tomorrow: call the college that has the Speech Language Program.

My aunt is a Speech Pathologist and her career has moved forward at a nice rate, and also stayed fresh and ripe with new research and applications, which I must have to stay happy. I have to take Statistics to get the SP degree and this is TERRIFYING. I am worse at math than my sons are at cleaning. That's bad. With a weekly tutor I can manage, another financial obstacle: paying for tutor. Without tutor, I flunk. Trust me. I tried. More. Than. Once.

Outside of this, I feel lice crawling on my head all the time, but when I look, I see nothing.

I'm fine!


but it will be alright

poster by Andre Jordan

Monday, May 3, 2010

she's got the whole world in her hands

Socks in pair, underwear - Hide the porn.
Hang in racks, pile stacks - Mend the forlorn.
Eagle eye underneath, what needs vacuuming.
Run the thing, dog hair cat shit oh no not in the corner again,
Open doors dirty floors to welcome every friend.

Make a call, tidy the living, make time for prayer and giving,
Open mail, recycle paper can't find tacks? can't find stapler?
Dentist appointment, vet, dog food out, hide the dirty dishes,
New toothbrushes and the box for Tooth Fairy Wishes
Control self when confronted with School Traffic Bitches.

Wash her hair, pile his books, adjust his medicine pill
Masturbate or make a date - we forgot the load to Goodwill.
Thank you notes, invitations, birthday present, sublimation
Each and every stimulation calls for a new relation
( mind their sleep and meals for good education )

Erection? Make time later, no there is no alligator
In the sink or the loo, yes your brother lied to you ( IAN! )
Clean the toilet which your brother cannot pee in.
Teach good manners, keep my own,
I refuse to answer the telephone: One half hour to be alone.

Mental note to plan summer, babysitters call the plumber
Haircut mole check eyeglasses dental dam? No that wasn't the plan.
What the hell is that exam?
Read the paper, eat protein, take the magic magic bean
mind your face should you look mean
Keep one hand hard and ready to clean.

Order books, thank the teacher, kill the lice take advice
throw the husband in the tub ask him for a foot rub.
Wash the pillows and linens on hot thank God for what you've got
lock the doors ( check again ) turn off air, sick to stomach again
Facebook, blog, goodnite, to bed. The End.

maggie may ethridge loves her blog friends

image by cecilia carlstedt

Saturday, May 1, 2010

the eye

the best indicator is the skin around the eyes.
not the eyes themselves, not the still circle within
a circle, maybe the absence of rolling, like the
horse between the rope and the side of the cliff.
it is the skin that relaxes, the cells within the skin
the cells within.

and the eyes are released like fish from the net
flying through the air quickening to the wet.

this is how i know i can touch you again, bring
my hands to your chest, the rough of your jawline
the exhausted mouth which has permanently worked
it's way inward, a sceloderma and scar, a place which speaks
to all that is hard.

and your hands move quick and irreverent
as if they refuse to remember what i cannot forget.

maggie may ethridge
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