Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Do

I married Mr. Curry on the beach you see us standing on above, La Jolla. A gorgeous wedding, perfected by the great wedding planner Nature, and her ocean roar, sun glimmer, sand dune backdrop, sweeping blue sky, enroaching sunset and shore of winking diamonds. I carried in my hand a pastel bouquet of flowers from my Mother's backyard garden, my dream bouquet, absolutely gorgeous and lush and fragrant. We married for the wrong reasons, probably, we were in love, but we were also harried: life had been very hard for both of us, and in our excitement in finding that a best friendship had turned into passionate love, we rushed into each other's sanctuary without practical life stability. Ha! Anyone who knows me knows I have never had practical life stability, so perhaps waiting for it to marry wouldn't have helped sturdy the boat at all. We married into the eye of the storm. We made love every day. We laughed with the intensity of those who are slipping and know the fall is going to be more painful than pratfall.

Days slipped by easily, Mr. Curry and I on our king sized bed lain on the floor, Lola the baby in between us, sleeping, as we watched The Sopranos. Mr. Curry and I making love on the orange carpet next to the bed with the sleeping baby as rain sluiced the windowpanes. Mr. Curry and I listening to Tom Petty, dancing with the boys. Mr. Curry wrestling with the boys on Friday Night Family Night ( which we still do ). Mr. Curry and I at Rubios with the three kids, Mr. C putting the " Shrimp Burrito " sticker on toddler Lola's shirt, every time. I have one in her baby book. Meanwhile, life moved swiftly. Mr. Curry built and lost his business, and my mystery illness began, with it, the chronic pain and fear as a diagnosis eluded me. We entered into medical debt that has bankrupted me, after three surgeries and countless tests and treatments.
We struggled with blended family issues, and family of origin issues. We struggled with personal issues, the ones that threatened to disguise who we were, and who we were meant to be.

It all could have ended there.

Marriage is a hot commodity in this time, bandied about in the media, debated and discussed vehemently in books and essays, it's very existence called into question: is marriage even relevant these days? Statistics are picked apart: men fair better than women in marriage, they 'get more out of the deal' and live happier and longer in marriages, while women are more stressed and encumbered by the unequal and overwhelming amount of domestic duties we take on. Divorce erupts as a pulse for our domestic heartbeat: Why do we marry, why do we divorce? Should less people get divorced? Should more people get divorced? Does divorce destroy children? Does divorce leave us empowered, or adrift? Is marriage a setup for misery in a society plump and silicone filled with sexual opportunities? Why fight for marriage, anyway?

I fight for mine. This is why.

After my first surgery, I could not urinate for two days. Finally, I felt a trickle threaten. I could make it to the bathroom, but barely, and once there, could pee, but all over the toilet, the floor. Except for Mr. Curry. He walked/carried me half naked to the bathroom. He sat me gently on the toilet, and rubbed my back as I leaned forward, moaning softly. He did this many times, all day long, and many times at night, when I woke him for help. I woke in darkness, in pain, a little confused and afraid. I could not think where the light switch was. I was heavily drugged. I said his name. I felt his hand on my arm, steadying me, and then a light switched on, and there was dark in the perimeter all around us, in the silence and the quiet mustiness a room builds. I had two more surgeries after this. The last surgery, we flew to San Jose because I had found a specialist. We flew for a consult, flew back, and then flew again, for the actual surgery. We waited a day, I had surgery. Waking, I was told I needed another immediate surgery. So I had the next operation. After two days, it was time to fly home. Only. I was terrified to fly. The anxiety and stress caught up with me, and I felt the grip of cold panic every time I pictured flying, again. I told Mr. Curry. And he drove me home. He drove for hours and hours and hours- after taking care of me, drove me home, to care for me more.

It is not that you cannot receive this kind of unconditional love if you are not married. It is that there is something about the human being that craves symbol and ritual and statements of purposeful intention. There is something about me. And there is something about the ritual and intention of marriage that helps me to stay longer, dig deeper, look harder, love fiercer and grow larger. The 'we' that Mr. Curry and I became when we married is almost a thing of itself, separate from me, or him, it is the 'higher power' of our union, the connective force that is comprised of past, present, future, goals, dreams, promises, our children, our parenting, our larger families, our community, our sex life, our mutual friendships, our animals, our shared and common goal to have a life witness, who loves. When I fail to find what is necessary to work through the hard times inside myself, I reach for this ideal 'marriage'- and I find it there. When who I am is not strong enough or smart enough, I fall into the connective tissue of marriage; let it hold me while I figure things out. Watching the media portray an ideal as a joke sours me. It's not a joke, or an impossibility. Because it is not possible, or desirable for everyone does not make it worthless. If ( knock on my heart ) Mr. Curry and I should ever divorce, I still won't think it so.

I desire the work of marriage. This is why.

I am deeply flawed. I had a terrifically painful childhood that left scars and brought me to the brink of complete despair, before I began the long labor of birthing myself back into the world. Mr. Curry has a similar yet simultaneously wildly different story. We are not shining examples of human beings with glorious souls ablaze in beauty. We are human beings who have momentary states of grace, but often reveal with startling brutality our faults, our weakness. Walking this road of healing with Mr. Curry is an honor. Seriously. To see that deeply into a person- to be allowed to see- and to have them see you as well this way, all fucked up and ugly and small, and to still be loved? That- that is healing. That is healing that only love can do. Where I cannot love, where I find myself flailing at Mr. Curry in anger or in bitterness, finding walls where there could be openess, this is where I am feeling with my hands the very limits of my own heart. That is where my work begins.

I desire the benefits of marriage. This is why.

When I am angry at Mr. Curry, if I am hurt, I might want to hold back, to not reach out, to hold him, touch him, make an motion, physical or emotional, in his direction. I often think to myself " We're married. I'm not going to divorce him, so I might as well love him. " When leaving does not feel like an option, the small and large decisions err on the side of love.

My mother left my father. I celebrate this. She needed to, absolutely. I would never change the freedom that divorce gives to people to claim the right to their own life, their own happiness, myself included. I would not stay married year after year after year if no hope was present, or if abuse of any kind, including emotional, was present. It takes two people willing to love and to change to make a marriage a living, breathing entity, worthy soil for planting two human beings.

Mr. Curry and I both hope for our children a kind of marriage we were not able to have- one that is possible, a marriage begun in joy by two people who can communicate well, love well, who know each other and who have a strong and solid foundation as individuals to base a union on. We are having a reverse osmosis marriage, one that is growing stronger, more meaningful, more joyful, more innocent as the years go on, a Benjamin Bunny marriage, where we began beaten and battered, and are growing younger and stronger and lighter every year that passes.

The weights we carry are heavy ones, serious and intimidating in their enormity and complexity. We have had very hard and lonely patches in our marriage and we will again, for reasons I discuss here and one that I do not. I make lists in my mind and jot them in my journal. These lists are the fruits of our labors, and mawwage is the weason we are gathad here today. ;)

My wife is immature. Whenever I take a bath, she sinks my boats. -Woody Allen

they talked and wept and laughed and made mad love

Monday, September 28, 2009

and you can dance, for inspiration (bonus video: NSync and Maggie May! )

Mr. Curry and I have influenced our children's musical taste which I am so grateful for in the last five years of a barren mainstream music scene, where you have to go deep to find the good stuff. Dakota at 15 now loves Queen, Van Morrisson, Van Halen, Beastie Boys, Sublime and Al Green along with Slightly Stoopid, Snoop Dog, Rage Against the Machine and Operation Ivy. Lola loves Miley Cyrus AND Michael Jackson. Ian is into Operation Ivy, ACDC, Rancid and Sublime- similar to Dakota but likes more harder rock. Other people are proud that their kids win soccer games or get straight A's. I'm proud of this!

I love music and always have. One of my first memories is sitting in the back of my parent's car, my Dad driving, Mom staring out the window, and Double Dutch bus playing on the radio ' it's the double-dutch bus comin' down the street ' hells yes. I LOVED that song! And Beast of Burden, I remember that song playing on hot summer days as a young girl, and hearing it all over again with new understanding as a woman in my twenties, and then last week, singing it out in the car on the way to drop Lola off to school. ' kick me out, on the street, kick me out, with no shooooes on my feet '

My Grandma Elizabeth listened to classical music, and through her I evolved a passionate and enduring love for Mozart. I loved rock, rap, disco, pop, techno, alternative rock, I loved music, sweet music. And Then- I discovered dancing.

I had always known that I loved to dance. As pre-teens, my best friend Julie and I set up the boom-box on a wooden crate outside and had dance-off's in front of the boy we both liked. ( He picked her, he liked her, much to my irritation ) As a teenager I made up dance routines like every red-blooded American girl, and in the 6th grade, music and dance changed my life:I had my very own Napoleon Dynamite.

The end of 6th grade camp was near, and the talent show loomed large- everyone was excited. Not me. I had few friends and was picked on occasionally. I felt unliked and definitely unloved, in addition to stupid and ugly. Oh! The joys of middle school! A well liked girl had a dance routine set up with two other girls, but the day before the talent show, one of the girls had to drop out. I happened to be hanging out in the rehearsal room when this went down, and I happened to offer my services. Dance? Dance, I said. So we practised, and the beat was on. I went to bed, sick with fear.

The next evening, throngs of 6th graders milled in the camp auditorium, took their seats, and watched the acts, one by one. I waited with the other two girls, tights and leotards on, makeup in place, hoping not to vomit or pass out before I finished. The lights dimmed. We skittered out onto stage, froze in place. The lights bloomed, hot and fierce, and the music rang out loud and clear: You Must Be My Lucky Star, Cuz You Shine On Me Wherever You Are... Madonna at the height of her powers. I rose my arms, and danced the hell out of that song. I could feel the energy of the room shift, as if I had magical powers, and slowly all the faces in the audience turned toward me, following me across the floor, teachers and students. I worked it, I moved, I had rhythm, I didn't vomit. Or faint. No, instead I rocked. It was the greatest moment of my life! The music stopped, and applause broke out, thunderous and staggering, beautiful to my ears.

I leapt off stage and was surrounded with faces and hands, shaking patting poking clapping, ' Oh my God you were like, awesome! ' ( This was the 80's. I live in California. ) Boys were looking at me with new eyes. I sensed I had tapped into some kind of sexual, kenetic power.

I never looked back.

I went dancing every weekend for years. During that time I was asked to go home with an entire bachelor party of men and be their private dancer, I was asked to work for Budweiser beer as a dancing rep. in clubs, I was asked to be in a highly shady ' music video ', proposed marriage to a number of times, called a bitch countless times when I refused to grind with some drunk guy ( thank you, endlessly, Mr. Curry, for each and every time you faced some Marine twice your size, drunk, and pissed off at me ), and groped more than any young lady who is not a Amsterdam Red Light Worker should ever be. Not one of those moments came close to giving me the spectacular rush of joy that my 6th grade camp dance off did.

( I was also in the NSync video ' Dirty Pop ' right before I became pregnant with Lola. That was pretty cool, I have to admit. If you watch it, I'm the one in the cowboy hat and blonde braids next to Justin.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

i've got a crush on this family

in sickness and in health

I'm definitely in a struggle to stay afloat phase of life. There is something major that effects my life that I've been requested not to talk about on here and since it effects my life SO profoundly when it comes up, I feel kind of mute lately, on the personal front.

Questions I Can Not Answer In Full or At All Right Now

1 What is wrong?

2 What is going on with Mr. Curry?

3 Why are you so quiet lately?

4 Where is the chocolate?

Out of respect for his wishes I can't discuss what has shaped my life on a daily basis for over a month right now, and because of the nature of who I am, how I write and think and feel and connect, working around that is almost impossible. So I suppose I'm pointing a big red arrow at the missing parts

There. That was the non-paragraph where I told you all about it.

No, we are not getting divorced. And no, no one cheated on anyone.

So....uhmmm... how bout the weather lately? Did you hear Roman Polanski was arrested by the Swiss? And Mrs Moon had her first grandbaby, Owen!!!

My thyroid is really bad right now. I'm exhausted. I slept all day Saturday when I wanted to be doing so many other wonderful things. I literally slept all day. Until ten pm. Woke until midnight, slept again until ten am today. I am waiting for the bloodwork results to see if the medication needs adjusting. Dakota puked all night at a friend's house and arrived home today miserable. He is now sleeping. Poor kid has been sick three times in so many weeks. Our kittens are making me so happy. Our teenage cats are ridiculously cute. The adults are just concerned with why there has been no wet food all week. I'm already thinking about Christmas presents and what we can make for gifts for everyone who is not our children. It's so hot here in San Diego, like 100 degrees.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Relief. Or the Idea of It.

Things have been very hard, I know. I saw a boy tie himself to a tree yesterday, by the ankle. He tied himself hard and the ankle bled a little onto a walk about of black ants carrying a dead, or wounded. Two birds fell out of trees in the park, dead. A hissing stream of low lying clouds rained for three hours and then disappeared and every older man's face was angry and grumpy as he drove his car or his truck. I was, myself, twice attacked by jumper cables, and that night I also locked myself out of the house with nothing but duct tape and a jar of organic peanut butter. At midnight, my neighbors began vacuuming while playing harmonica, and no one answered the door. A police car drove by and kept driving. A car alarm suspended belief for two hours before the work alarm went off. All this time I thought of you, and your spider veins and smart eyes, those dark cracked glasses you won't replace and your summer ankle socks, your cat, your tom tom, your Belgian waffles with honey, the cliff of your nose that you hate and I love, your Pierce Brosnan underwear (haha you always hated him) and the slices of peach that you put on a plate next to my cereal at breakfast after M. died.

I know you are speechless and I haven't called you but one time at midnight when my neighbor's mowed the lawn and I could hear you breathing and you cried and I felt like shit and I'm REALLY SORRY I ever called. I knew better but I miss you. My fingers hurt and my vagina tingles like it's falling asleep and I know you have got to do what you have no choice about doing and I know I love you and wouldn't love you if you weren't like this but I am like ME and so I hate it, anyway. Even though there isn't another slideshow to put in. Yesterday Lily posted the news and two people called me who I know for a FACT that you hate so I won't mention their names but they both received scathing replies from me. Of course that is a total lie but I did tell them briefly that I was too busy to really talk but thank you. I know you might/might not be smiling at that point and at least that is some relief, or the idea of it.

A big propaganda had begun in the house and I'm supposed to be going along with it but I'm not. J. is not talking to me again and S. said I was insensitive and pushy, which I translate into ' not going along with the script '. I lost my toothbrush and it made me miss you so much I cried but then J. opened the bathroom door and when he saw me crying he made this HORRIBLE face like I was the pathetic and walked away and for a minute I thought about opening his neck artery with his toothbrush, like they always do in movies. It made me HATE him for a minute. Really. That hate feeling where you think you might throw up, even though I know right now you are shrugging at me, it's true, and I can't just let it go, because he's such a wimp. He's more muscular and tall than ever and he's the biggest coward of all time. He's not crying, though.

I'm sure you remember that S. lost her license last year after the work party incident and she just got it back and wanted me to pay for her insurance. When I wouldn't loan her the money she hissed at me. I can't BELIEVE I'm the one everyone scowls at when I'm being HISSED at. I know you are thinking this is all the same bullshit as always and it's my fault for being unhappy since I should move out. And you are right. I'm just saying that nothing has changed. Not even me. I still miss you. I miss you more than ever. I think you are the closest thing to real I've ever known outside of Mrs. Nickels and she is a little too real, if you ever smelled her up close. I'm so lonely is what I"m saying. L. says I'm unfocused and he's right but he's so focused it's shit scary. He's so focused I think he's literally squeezing himself to death. His eyes bulge when he's mad. I guess the reason I have to tell you these same things is because sometimes I think I'm starting to see the reverse of everything, like they see it, and I wonder if I'M the one who is crazy, and then I feel like I"m going to throw up and my head buzzes and I feel trapped inside of myself and I don't know what to think or believe and that is right when you would say something really simple and honest, maybe not the most brilliant thing ever but so honest, and I would be able to breathe and that huge dark crushing weight would ease up a little.

L. is so quiet all the time. I can't look at him. I can't stand to see him like this. He's shrinking up. The worst part is that I think he likes it and the scariest part is that I know he does, he likes being like this and I can see by the way his face is that it feels kind of GOOD to him, to be this controlled and tell these lies to himself and I know the truth is never going to make him feel like that. So the truth loses. And that means that I lose. I lose L. That is what it means. When I move out- I WILL, stop smirking- L. and S. will call and I'll call them but the final closeness between us all will be gone...you know... all of us, telling the same story. All of us in on it. They are starting to hate me because I'm not saying the right lines anymore. I actually said that to S. one time and she mocked me. She said I was ridiculous and dramatic and always sure I was right. That's what she always says, because what else can she say. In the kitchen last weekend S. actually broke a plate because I said that P. had never really liked us. Which is the most honest and obvious thing to anyone- anyone who knows us- but for the three of us? It's not what we agreed to say. You know? You do and that is why I call you at midnight when the lawn mower is going. I'm sorry about that. Next time I'll call at noon. I miss you so much. Please hurry and get better.

I just read this over and realized I said hardly anything to comfort you. ( I was going to say 'make you feel better' but doesn't that sound so brutal really? ) That's because, as we both know, I am an infantile beast. But I do love you.


A Beautiful Revolution

From a wonderful, sideways creative blog I grew to love: A Beautiful Revolution

Ain't Nobody

I've loved this song since I was a little girl...it never fails to give me a huge kick and fill me with passion One of my all time favorites, and a perfect resonating of what I loved most about 80's music...the innocence, the lack of irony, the unashamed exuberance- the sense that in a Footloose moment, the whole world could break out dancing and singing!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Let's Get Together Whatdaya Say?

Look what I found at Here Comes the Sun! The sweetest engagement photos....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

an evening in september

the dusk seizes nothing in it's moth
mouth. dark ink tipped trees
collect birds, shake them gently
out of their dusty heads.

i am spinning, my feet are flat.
i cannot hear anything but traffic
the noise haunts me: i gut-ache for bird
song, water falling, leaves masturbating.

the ground thrums with horns, tire
tread. i lean into my dogs thick head
and breathe his fur, his skin. something
organic blooms, i open a window:

i cannot hear anything but traffic.
the computer blinks it's insomniac eye,
i slip from the sunroom to the backyard
at dusk- like a teenager, like a child,

press my face into the paltry grasses,
fecund dirt, a small beetle waves-
i think this neighborhood is so friendly
slip a pocket of dirt into my lip like chew.

the sun lets it's orgasm reach a pink frenzy,
i am undulating between the black night
inside this grass and this dirt
and the bright eruption of universe

that settles easily into afterglow.
i cannot hear anything but traffic.
i think this is why i am crying,
and eating dirt, lying in the dark

wet mouth of an evening in September.

maggie may ethridge

John Edwards Affair and Paternity: Why It Matters To Me

I picked up on John Edwards around the same time that many average liberal citizens did, being attracted to candidates who publicly discuss the issues that matter to me- human rights, health care, the environment- for which Edwards has been a great spokesperson. As soon as I began to read about Edwards, I was reading about his wife Elizabeth, and the loss of their 16 year old son Wade in a car accident on a windy day by the beach. I watched the married couple rise together in the campaign for President, and came to an informal, casually knowledgeable opinion about Edwards, which is the description I would use for most of my opinions on politicians. I am not a passionate political follower, nor an in depth reader of political books or articles. I read a handful of articles through major media like the New York Times, and come up with an opinion.

What I was really interested in was his personal life; as a mother I was horrified and compelled to read about how a family survives after such a loss- I searched through their accounts of Wade's death as if there could possibly be such an inane thing as Tips on How To Survive The Greatest Tragedy of Your Life. There is not. There are only factors. John and Elizabeth entered their living hell with good mental health, money and support, which may or may not make it more likely for a person to survive such a loss without spiraling into addiction, mental illness or complete detachment. They also had other children to care for, and they did, and eventually crept into public consciousness, and my own, in the Presidential Election.

And then Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer. I read the People headline, the updates on MSN on her exact diagnosis and prognosis, and hoped for her a total remission. I was old enough to know that life does not have a limit on suffering. And so it proved: Elizabeth's cancer came back, and her prognosis was 'hope for ten years'. I read her memoir, largely about the death of Wade, their firstborn, and found her voice and her story to be obvious: she was a woman who had lost a son she loved with her entire self, and she was carrying on with the strength of her spirit for her children and her husband. The memoir revealed little about the dynamics of her marriage. John worked, she worked, they parented, the loved. No depths revealed, the marriage kept private, for whatever reason- to keep it sacred, or to keep it hidden, or both.

When the headlines announced John Edward's affair, I felt the blow in my gut. After years of reading about John and Elizabeth and being a married mother of 3, I felt the blow as women feel for one another in our homes, our health, our children, our marriage, these things are the centrifugal life forces for many of us. I stopped to think of the emotional crisis unfolding before me, paper in hand. The private lives of these two people, revealed in strangely shaped chunks that the media, and it's consumers, myself, would try to put together, spinning them around until they came up with a shape that made the most sense. But the truth of the emotional life of these two adults? We can only guess. All that is clear and obvious is that both of them have suffered irrecovely from the death of their son Wade and Elizabeth's cancer diagnosis, and John Edwards was not able to cope in a way that did not humiliate and devastate his wife.

And now the final media reveal: He is the father. A book deal in the works with a man close to Edwards saying that Edwards planned on marrying his mistress, the mother of Frances who is looking assuredly to be Edward's daughter. Edwards told his lover that they would be married after Elizabeth died, says the story. John Edwards sits in virtual seclusion, his family hiding out, waiting, waiting for the next move. My mind circles around Elizabeth like water round a drain, going nowhere. And yet I cannot help but wonder how she is coping. How she is feeling. Does she have any emotions left, or is she numb with the continual heartbreak of life? Is John Edwards ashamed of himself, devastated, or is he empty, exhausted and angry at being caught and cornered in his greatest fault and failing? How will Elizabeth find a peaceful way to leave this life? I look to those who are suffering because I have failed, and I have suffered, and I want to see how we do it, us human beings, how do we make it through when we make it at all?

Saturday, September 19, 2009


i painted my bathroom turquoisey ( now a word ) and i love it
i also love the colors above

Comin Home

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

a domestic story, in ten parts (plus addendum 10a)

1 Someone asks me a question. I begin answering. Someone else interrupts and answers for me.
Then they decide this form of communication is ' yay! my favorite! ' and do it. all. the. time.

2 I turn on a fan. Someone else gets up ten minutes later and turns off the fan. They do not make
eye contact. They don't dare those sneaky hot cowards.

3 I walk. Someone else walks into me. They walk away. Without a word. Oh, excuse me. I forgot
what a queen you are. What a prince.

4 Someone asks me a question. I begin answering. Someone interrupts and says ' I know '
This someone might be 7 years old, with long blonde hair and large blue eyes and a penchant for sneeze-farting.

5 Someone refuses to get up in the morning. Someone is late to school. Someone turns to
me and says ' Thanks a lot, MOM. '

6 Someone asks me a question. I begin answering. Someone gazes off in the other direction
and it appears they have had a stroke, an alien abduction, been taken in the Rapture, or
have the attention span of a small microbe imbedded in the ass of a smaller microbe. As
a test, I stop talking mid-sentence. Someone nods and drifts off in the other direction.
A few minutes later, someone asks me THE SAME QUESTION. AGAIN.

7 I sit at the toilet. I have to urinate. After urinating, I go to wipe my Lavina. There is no tissue
paper. This is because my entire family has no hands. No arms, either. They are also legless,
and cannot move without scooting along on the ground as an inchworm, and in this way
they are able to reach all of electronics and candy, while I am getting toilet paper and cleaning
up cat shit.

8 I make dinner. I go to throw away trash. There is no space in the trash can. There is an
enormous, terrifyingly alive pile of towering refuse that is in danger of growing the legs
that my family would need to take out the trash.

9 I take out the trash. I come back in, after taking out the trash, making dinner, cleaning the
living room, putting in toilet paper, working all day, feeding animals, and before putting
children to bed, making lunches, and cleaning up after dinner. I ask someone to move their
things and clean them up. They sigh. I growl in frustration. OH YOU ARE SUCH A MARTYR,
they say.

10 I leave my house, my husband and my children, and move to Barbados, where I take up
heavy drinking and eating. I lay on the beach and tan. I get up, and head toward the hotel,
where I meet my new lover, Roberto. Roberto and I make passionate love on the floor (ouch)
and I use the rest room. I go to wipe my Lavina......

10a I stay home, and take deep breaths while plotting how I can booby trap the trash can to
spring explode on the next person who puts an object down on a full pile of trash.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

things i am too tired/noncommittal to do that my vet has told me to do

Squeeze Wolfgang's ball area so a sticky stinky fluid comes out and doesn't get backed up. (dog)

Floss Wolfgang and Bodie's teeth. (dog-s)

Run something cottony soft and clean deep inside Bodie's ears. *

Rub Bodie's stomach lumpsack to assure that it is not turning cancerous. **

Open the lip of Bellatrix to observe the sore there and ensure it has not reddened. (cat)

Penetrate all feline poop to observe any possible worms.

notes to make me look better:
* although I have taken him to the vet to have his ears treated ** although I have taken him to the vet to have it biopsied

Monday, September 14, 2009

Meet Cheesepuff, Karate Chop and Mr. Fuzz

Lola named all three. Two are going to a family friend.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

simple pleasures

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mental Illness

image by Chris Koehler

What is obvious is the flaw. The awful, gaping void in the fabric of wholeness we want so badly to claim, to keep, to show. Then, the flaw made worse: denial. Frantic attempts at mirage, magician-ship, transformation, and then cluelessness turned into it's own void- pretending no knowledge of the truth, turning the pretender into a vapid phantom person, a Harry Potter shape shifter who becomes so lost in the change, they can never return to the original body.

I don't want to disappear. A typically female manuever historically, and most definitely in my family history, a long, long chain of women pretending they do not see and cannot name what is in front of them, vanishing from our family photos and collective memories because their denial made necessary an inhuman emotional repression that leads to deadness in all facets. The mind remembers to forget, but forgets what it is supposed to be blanking, and so in default: Delete All Slowly the spark skuttles to the clean kitchen floor, emotional intimacy restrained and gagged, sexuality feared, creativity stifled and guided toward safe hobby. Then standing in the clean, organized home, harried and angry faced, seen primarily as humorless, angry and strangely irritable, she realizes she has saved nothing, and all she has hidden has let a smell so strange and sour no guest can enter her home without wrinkling their face and wondering at the shy shirking they feel in their gut.

Mental illness runs rampant in my family. Is running. Rampant. All sides. Including in myself.

I had not thought of mental illness as a stigma because I had been thrust into the subculture of Alcoholics Anonymous at 17. Engulfed in the flames of my childhood, still burning strong, my mother forced me into AA as a last ditch effort to save me. She forced me to the meetings, both driving me and picking me up, waiting outside to ensure I actually went, I actually sat, I had to hear. I hated her for it, I said, and I lied. I loved her for it. I knew it meant she loved me and I was secretly ( not to anyone who could see adolescents clearly ) desperate for salvation of some kind. So I went, and I got sober, and remained so until the age of 30, when I quit smoking and started drinking. * This is 14 years of AA, 14 years of the stories of drunks and druggies twice my age, three times my age, stories so raw, so honest, so absolutely in the dregs of despair and soul mutilation that my family history and life became something as easy for me to talk about, to share about, as what kind of coffee we liked in the mornings.

Enter adulthood minus AA:

ME ' Hi Svetlana, it's cool to see you again, how are ya? '

S ' Okay, Okay, you know work is suck right now, but cool. My boyfriend and I went to Long Beach
over the weekend and we met the bassist from Journey! Isn't that cool? What's up with you? '

ME ' Well my Grandpa- I think I mentioned him, you know the paranoid schizophrenic, he totally
lost it at the ice cream shop and was like, freaking screaming at the ice cream lady because she couldn't understand what he was asking for when he was saying 'cokecola' and he was all, YOU KNOW WHAT THE HELL COCOLA IS LADY YOU ARE JUST HIRED BY THE GOVERNMENT' and she's all ' No I was hired by the Friedman's' and I was like, Oh my God! And then my Dad who I don't talk to anymore because he was really abusive to me, he called and left me this message and I'm trying to figure out how he got my number.... '

S ' ...... '

ME ' Uh .... so how was Long Beach? '

This is actually how I talked to people. I . know.

So I slowly learned not to assault and terrify everyone I met by instantly being honest about every question or remark and relearning - OK learning- social mores. While learning how to Win Friends and Impress People, I also became electrically aware of my reality: I had a family packed with mental illness, and, people are terrified and ashamed of mental illness. They don't want you talk about it. At all. Ever. Not even when they love you. Not even when it's you who are sick. Not even- MORESO when- it's them who are sick. And not even when it's them who have mental illness in their family, oh especially not then. Isn't, you can feel them pleading in the subtext, anything else at all we can talk about right now? Underwater basket weaving? Chris Brown's bowtie? Lady Ga-Ga: Hot or Not? The religous right? How do they get those ships in those bottles anyway?

And so I am quiet. And it's killing me. I need someone to talk to. So raise your hand, bloggers, if you feel me. Talk to me so I can talk to you. Help me out here. Email me if you like:


You want a subject list? I'll give you a rundown of my close and personal contact with mental illness:

Bipolar 1, Bipolar 11, Major clinical depression, schizophrenia on both sides of my family, Anxiety disorder and OCD are just a few of the pretties that color out of the lines of my family history. These things have affected me since I was born and continue to affect me and my daily life. ( I personally have anxiety disorder now, and in my late teens and early twenties had clinical depression )Not only that, but as all of you know with family history and children comes the great worry.

And so it goes.

* AA does not believe you are EVER 'safe' from alcoholism rearing it's head. They don't endorse going to
meetings for any length of time and then stopping. They view it as a life long commitment. I viewed it, to be brief, like this: I got sober very, very young, and my short bout with heavy drinking was the result of an abusive childhood, which I dealt with over years and years of therapy, medication, AA and lifestyle changes, so I felt I could move on.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Importance of Being Impermenant

So here I am in 1977, with my 'bulldodder'. Most beloved toy. Stopping Mom at construction sites and screaming 'BULLDODDERS!' It's a surreal thing to look at pictures of yourself as a young child, a slap in the face of time, a reminder of impermenance- not only for everything around you, as we are more comfortable understanding, but the impermenance of you, yourself. I am still here, in 2009, but where is she? The one with the scraped knees and chubby elbows? I have two friends from this time in my life who are still my friends- Julie and Heather. And my cousin, Amalia, who grew up with me, and my sister, Lura, who I haven't seen in seven years, not since right after Lola was born, and she left with only a hand drawn picture of a baby on an arm to remark that she had known my baby girl at all. These girls were the girls of my childhood- the 'rabbit girls' I refer to in my poetry. When I see Julie with her son Gavin and her husband, house and new breasts (!) I look into her freckled face and see not only her, as she is now, but more of a sister's eyes, a mother's eyes, the eyes that see you simultaneously as three, thirteen and thirty. And I can see reflected back in her blue eyes, the image of myself as an adult woman, married with three kids, and this little girl, clutching her favorite toy, a familiar stubborn look across her face. I am enamored with the idea of the importance to human beings of a 'witness'*- hence the title of a recent poem I posted here about marriage. We need someone to watch, to observe, to see what happens to us. Sometimes the most important thing you can do for someone is to state out loud what you have seen. This is part of why I love and adore biographies so much, especially in truly skilled hands, they are, at best, a compassionate, honest witness to a life. Dave Eggers has become truly skilled at this kind of story telling ( I can't wait to read his latest, about a family in Katrina ) and his first, and most famous book ' Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius ' remains most of all his witness to the deaths of first his father, then a year later his mother, both from cancer, and the account of Eggers at 21 suddenly thrust into a single father role, raising his pre-teen younger brother. Whenever I'm asked ' What are your favorite books? ' this one always is on the list. The raw telling of the truth of a life is fascinating and so important, for reasons I cannot entirely articulate, but know to be true, and very true in my own writing as well. I expect the themes of witness and impermenance to resonate through many of my poems as they are throughout my novel.

On that note I think I'll make a list of the top of my head of some of my favorite biographies, and why not, autobiographies.

1 Middletown, America by Gail Sheehy ( the stories of a few post 9-11 widows )
2 Savage Beauty ( the life of Edna St. Vincent Millay, the famous poet ) - fascinating, brilliant.
Truly a shining star in in my library.
3 Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller ( an African childhood )
4 First, They Killed My Father- forgetting author...I dare you to read this without weeping.
5 Death At An Early Age by Jonathan Kozol ( a teacher in inner city black schools turned
writer and advocate )
6 The Big House author I'm forgetting- but this book is a true gem. The kind of book you
dream about stumbling on, the one you've never heard of but are absolutely charmed by
and fall in love with.
7 Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Cook ( this series is astonishing in it's ability to combine
scholarship with juicy storytelling and politics all in one. i've read the series twice
and can't wait to let time pass and read it again! )
8 The Glass Castle ( memoir of a fucked up childhood, but with an intellectual and forgiving
eye and ear, really good writing )
9 Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs ( awful childhood, disturbing & hilarious )
10 Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott ( heartbreaking and funny, something about it
just gets to you and stays that way, the first year of a single mother's life and Lamott's
most popular work to date )

xo- looking forward to reading all your blogs this Monday morning. I'm home with Lola who is feverish, sore throatish and sick to stomachish. My boss is unhappy with me. I had to make one of those calls you hate to make to work, where I'm like ' Yeah she is suddenly really sick the day before I come back to work on a three day vacation ' and I was so upset thinking she was thinking I was lying I assured her I was not! To which she cleared her throat and hoped Lola would feel better. Oye.

* remember that movie with Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis- Witness? And that really hot Amish in a barn scene? And did you know McGillis came out as gay in the last few years?

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Friday, September 4, 2009

A Beautiful Unkindness

What makes us who we are? If Nie was burnt over 80% of her beautiful young body, and her face is unrecognizable to herself, and her life as she knew it is as strange and gone as her fingerprints, is she still Nie? If I have a panic attack and an anxiety streak that rattles my bones and my teeth and my nerves so soundly and cruelly that I mew in my husband's arms like a wet drowned kitten and cannot mother my children, am I still Maggie? The essential me? When my Grandmother Elizabeth was dying of Parkinson's and the disease had robbed her face of it's expression lines and her eyes of their windows, when she was trapped like an emaciated moth in the cobwebs of her old and broken mind, was she still Elizabeth? When my Grandfather M.D. came into old age like a lion turned to mouse, after years of paranoid schizophrenia turning him into an abusive, raving, hated and feared father and husband, when old age softened those hardened cells like beans soaked in water and his benevolent love was more shocking than a raised voice or cruel comment, was he still M.D.?

I never knew my father. I never had anyone to compare him to before he became the man I feared so deeply and profoundly I have spent my adult life peering over my shoulder, hoping not to see him. I grew up with his madness. Where was he? Was he in there? In that genius mind, that endless rubbernecking articulation of lies? Was that my father throwing fruit at the wall, screaming at Mom, a tassel of bananas exploded in yellow against the cream paint- he looked remarkably like a lion, 70's hair still framing his strong handsome face... was my father made of exploding bananas and fingers thick and foul as the cigars he smoked? Or was my father the young man my mother fell in love with, sweet and passionate and gentle and loved by everyone who knew him- the man he insisted he was, the same man who cradled a dying girl in the hospital and wrote songs for his daughters? Did he know these daughters could not hear his music? Only his voice, loud and vibrating and embarrassingly, humiliatingly, terrifyingly out of control. An adult male not in control of his temper, not in control of his mind, not in control of his life. That was my father.

Was it?

The last time I had a episode of what I think of as my ' panic disease ' and I suppose could be called ' generalized anxiety disorder ' or ' post traumatic stress syndrome ' or ' depression with severe anxiety ' or ' panic disorder ' but all end in the same room, with my head in my husband's lap, my face as I see it in the bathroom light completely ugly and unrecognizable except for the freckles and blue eyes. I stared at my face the last time round, in the flourescent light, stared through three days of almost nonstop crying and shaking and pills and looked as hard as I could into my blue eyes. Who is in there? I wondered. I looked SO HARD. I wanted to see what was left of me when I was mentally ill. Who was I when I was not funny, or strong, or sweet, or even functional? My eyes were smaller than normal, bleary, terrified, young and horribly old at the same time. Yet I thought, looking so hard my hands white knuckled the tiled bathroom counter, that I could see myself in there, the same Maggie I remember knowing, something essential, from my earliest memories.

I have spent my life testing myself. Am I my father? Am I my mother? Am I an entirely different creature, or bound by blood to a legacy I cannot escape? I have done cruel things and watched to see how far I would go, the detachment that was such a part of my life until only the last ten years marking me Observer, while the physical me took cues and took action, then stood back and looked up at The Observer: Are you happy now? I had terrible PPD after Dakota was born. I wasn't born myself- 20 years old, barely survived childhood, still in shock at what my life was. I had this boy and my hormones went bad. My chemicals went bad. I was a swamp of evil foul smelling things that must be brought up and exposed to light and air, lest they kill me. It was expose or die. I had to see myself for what I was, I had to find out. I did shitty things, finding that out. I don't know how else to live with myself but to remember what my life was. I got help, so much help, I stuffed help down my throat like a bulemic vomits food- books, friends, articles, biographies, movies, quotes, anything that could help me find my way out. I found out what Holocaust survivors know, what great psychologists and humanists and scientists know: we can only rise so far, human beings, in rotten trash, we bake, we struggle, we keen, we cry in our cribs Come Get Me I'm Not All Right- but if there is no answer, for too long, no hands reaching to our skin, no comfort in relentless misery, suffering and despair, we fall. This is why- you know?- how we say?- Only Human? This is why.

So I screamed and fought and demanded help, and I was lucky, because I had help, the right kind, yes I was a lucky one. I cry for those who have not been so lucky. I cry for my sister who was helped too late for me to keep my hands on her boat, to keep her from sailing past the horizon. I have not seen her in seven long years.
I looked into my own eyes in the bathroom's gross light, and realized I could still see myself, but it was simply because I was not sick enough. If I went further down the abyss, if I sailed past my husband's grasp into the rock, rock, rock of insanity, I would not find myself- I would not know to look. Where would I be, if I were not in my own mind?

Why do we love the people we love, and how do we keep loving them when they are not themselves? When a child dies, the parents have terrible odds of the marriage surviving. I know if the impossible happened, I would not be the same Maggie that Mr. Curry married. I would be someone new, certainly essential parts of me would be distilled and brought along, but still. Nothing is above the relentless change of nature, of human nature. Not our memories even, as my Grandmother's dying taught me. Not our bodies and not our youth.

It is the incredibly poignant qualities of human life that surround these truths and make an essential distillation where a madness may rot. We hope despite death. We love despite loss. We heal despite decay. We make love despite hate. We cleave, and we come apart, and if we are terribly lucky, like I am, we are tossed about the waves with tears in our eyes and palms full of salt but the wind blowing a thrill through our hearts just the same.

I do not know who I am, essentially. But I believe that looking, and demanding answers of myself, requiring a practice of moral rigor and 'sharpening the blade of the soul' as C.S. Lewis said of his dying wife's struggles against cancer, are what will give a depth, a finite and infinite moment that brings peace to the troubled human heart- a grain of salt, a piece of the fabric of the Universe- and this is the 'me' i saw in that bathroom mirror, the me I recognized- fucked up, so far gone! but still looking for a way out., still fighting. I know I have done hard work, the work of love, the work of life, and I can rest, even as my failures and faults try to define me, I refute their claim with my back to the wind.

Rage, rage!!!! Against the dying of the light!!!

Yes. Oh hell yes.

The White Stripes: My Doorbell

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lola Moon and the No-Good, Very Bad, Terrible Horrible Day

Lola in her 'dream wedding dress' designed by her: she put grandma's long white shirt on and tied in in the back with a pony tail holder, then she put the skirt on and tied the back with a pony tail holder and then tucked the shirt in
Lola wrote a little note in the comments to you all. You guys rock. Thank you for making my sweetface feel so great.

dictated to me by Lola-

First of all I get to school and my underwear are budged up in my pants and are half up all the way up my back. I pull it down as quickly as I can. I get to class and I am the last one in. I realize my best friend Ashley is not in school. Then I realize I don't get picked for the special board because it was Ashley's turn and she was going to pick me! Then it's recess time. I feel something wet going down my pants. I realize I spilt water or juice while I was eating my lunch. Well then we have math time right after recess. I get in math and I have a funny feeling and suddenly I sneeze-farted* in front of 23 kids!, second and third graders. My teacher even snorkle-laughed. McKalea said 'who was that?' and someone said 'Lola!' and everyone laughed. I was so embarrassed I cried a little quiet tears. Then at home my mommy and I went on a walk with Bodie and Wolfie and we got in a little fight! That was my day.
*Lola is famous in our family for sneeze-farting, which she has been doing since she was a baby. As you would imagine she simply sneezes and farts at the same time. It's one of the most endearing and ridiculous traits ever in a kid. You should also know that Lola insisted on making the words a color, and picked purple.
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