Monday, April 30, 2012

the railway children

Over the weekend we went to the Poway Train Exhibit. Our new home has the best location of any place we've ever lived- we are smack dab in the middle of suburbia, with all its benefits, but it's a very countrified suburbia, so it's slogan 'the country in the city'. Our neighbors have horses, and driving the kids to school it is a regular, non noteworthy thing to wait on horse back riders crossing the street...and leaving behind ENORMOUS piles of shit. Wow. Anyhow, the street we live on also happens to be the street which small, charming little shops are lined up on- a coffee shop, liquor store ( we go there for donuts for dessert once a week ), bridal store, zumba, etc. Just two blocks down from our home, on the same street, is the beautiful park where this exhibit took place. It has it's own running train, that runs in a loop every Saturday and Sunday.
Here is the train station where you buy tickets. We took the girls on the train a few weekends ago and Ever was beside herself. I don't think I've mentioned here that the girl is OBSESSED with two things. One: trash trucks. Two: trains. So Ever lucked out big time living here. Every day either Mr. Curry, myself, or both of us walk Ever through the park in her stroller, and she says 'choo choo' a bagillion times.

Isn't our fountain gorgeous? I use it to meditate- I stop on walks and say a prayer.meditation for every level of water that is falling.

It was about 80 degrees and gorgeous.

Inside there was a miniature model train exhibit. Ever was in love. Personally too I'm upset by the appearance of the dreaded double chin in this photo to notice much else.

Ever goes up the stairs. And down. And up. And down. She is also saying 'mine' and 'no' and 'crying' all day. She says 'crying' to notate when she or anyone else IS crying, and it's the saddest little inflection you can imagine. ' CrYIng?' She also threw her first real tantrum over the weekend. 17 months. It's on.

I can't imagine sisters more in love with each other. I can't imagine how I got this lucky.

About five thirty pm and everyone was tired. Long day and still a walk home and then driving Ian to is other home. Ian looks like he's thinking about something here. Something he's considering. Hmmm.

Ever and Mr. Curry are in that sweet spot of bonding. When he picks her up from my preschool she says 'truck? vroom vroom. truck? da-da. bye!' She's ready to head out with her Daddy. Hope you all had a good weekend!

Friday, April 27, 2012

bathroom talk

I am in the shower and my hair swirls across the walls like ink pen illustrations. I put the hair there after it comes out in my hands. I am a mother of four. I am a wife. I think about things like: clogged drains. I clearly see a beautiful nude, her arms raised, breasts curved, head turned backward to look for someone. Around the water sounds escape like baby coos- there is Lola's laughter, the dogs barking, Mr. Curry's bass trombone for Ever.  I stare at the hair on the wall and wonder if I photographed it and put it on Tumblr I could make a famous site: Maggie's Hair Illustrations- The Art of The Mundane. Everyone would come and view the masterpieces of my hair, the brown and blonde and grey pieces delicately curving, making surprisingly poignant sketches that sometimes move in a surprise splash of water. A whole new art form. I also had the million dollar idea of ' Soapy Pussies! ' which is simply an entire website full of shots of ... you guessed it. This probably already exists and is making some other shameless housewife rich. I wish I didn't have so much shame. Guilt. Neurosis. Who would it hurt? We could buy health insurance. We could pay our rent without spending the entire 30 days beforehand in a horrible and gut wrenching countdown of budgeting, seeing if we will actually have enough money to pay for where we live. My life becoming like so many artists lives I have read. Without the drinking problem. Without the cigarettes, a habit I gave up at 30. Without drugs. With the kids, though. With Mr. Curry. Not alone on the boat. I also had the idea of Naked Movers, but that's already been done.  We googled that last week. Mr. Curry assured me that must be gay men moving for gay men and apparently it is so. No woman wants a bunch of naked sweaty balls and buttcrack moving all her precious things, he pointed out. True. It's like when Charlotte's fiance sat down naked on her white couch. Ball sweat on a white couch? Not good. I guess I'll have to go back to brainstorming.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

domestic triumph

i am going to wake in this morning
inside of it, in the slip water over my face
the duckling pout of the children's faces
sourball eyes, a smear of recollection still
puckering their expression- in dreams,
they were close to the thing, they flew.
i will do what mothers do and i will be
found lacking: minus eggs. minus bacon.
the car will start and there will be one
moment when i will feel i cannot do this
the pain sits like a cat on my chest,
flicking its tail. licking its chops.
my marriage is straining, groaning,
coming apart in sparkplugs and silence-
i am being wounded internally. in the liver
that cannot filter debris of this size,
the gut with it's long ugly cry, that will not
let me eat, and the heart! of course, the heart.
my lover is all gone away. he throws his
demons at me like startled cats, they claw
my face and hands, i move quickly and think fast
but no one can escape the home they live in.
no one can escape the heart they live for.
all the poems in the world can't save me
now, i will think, but then the phrase
you must change your life '
is spoken sternly into my ear,
and i am in tears as the children
argue about gum chewing and breathing,
because i know that i have found these
things, and no one can take them away.
i know that i have found these
things, and no one can take them away.

maggie may ethridge 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

in spite of my rage i am still just a rat in a cage

you used to say 
you were a tomboy
genius a
calligraphy major.
now you ?
change is managed
by the broken 
collect it
at cost.

a headache a backache a stomach ache a pulled muscle in the left upper shoulder follow the wave of tendon to the wall of neck. my stress goes. where does it come? on your tits! the tsunami of stress is foul mouthed. illiterate. ignorant. small. meta. 

until i release myself from believing my own bullshit this will continue.
to bad for me i'm so persuasive.

my book says 'You can transcend all negative when you realize that the only power it has over you is your belief in it. As you experience this truth about yourself you are set free.' -eileen caddy

few words are as beautiful.  you are set free
few words.

all the answers are already there. if only i will read them, believe them, enact them, and live in them.

i'm laughing weakly.
but still laughing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

raver baby

Sunday, April 22, 2012

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

Rage Against The Minivan < Kristen is a brave woman. A liberal Democrat, she went on Fox news to discuss the controversy over Ann Romney's remarks about stay at home mothers. and the hate response, while predictable, is still so suck. She responds, with intelligence and humor.

At Huffington Post < Jessica Ashley writes about why divorced parents are always reconciling in the movies. 

The Happiest Mom < Meagan writes about her own spring cleaning- a financial tune up. I'm so there.

The Feminist Breeder < ' Judging Moms May Be Good For Your Traffic But It's Bad For Your Feminism ' LOVE this post.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Family Matters

Family Matters List

of things that matter ( to my family ) ( which also, naturally, includes myself ) *

there are things going on and i HATE reading there are things going on because this isn't a jane austen novel i realize but that is all i can really and truly write online, here, so i have to leave at that, at things going on, and they are Things We Do Not Like, and In Fact, Hate Their Guts. i'm scared right now. mr. curry is too. we could use prayers. please direct your good and strong energies to 
maggie may ethridge
midland road, san diego
the little blue and white condo on the corner with the wrap around porch full of kid toys
(and dog hair)
(thank you) (this is not medical) (this is not about our marriage)

if you could use prayers, please try to use the comments to tell me, and i'll pray for you. i say try, because according to your emails and FB messages, my comments are sometimes working, but if they have a headache and can't stop thinking about the blizzard of '93, they don't work, or don't even show up at all. 

our dogs are out of control. due to being Highly Neurotic and inbred and sent by the devil with two horns, they are- despite sleeping in our bedroom every night, having each other for company, getting walked and having daytime company often these days- pooping and sometimes peeing all over. mostly pooping. they get taken out a billion times to poo. they get brushed, and fed, and watered, and yes, made fun of, but so does everyone else in our family. our next Family Meeting is this weekend and The Thing With The Dogs is going to be addressed. 

you know that thing where you were like, twenty, and your ass was high and and your stomach flat and you were thinking, for like two seconds, about how stripping really is some kind of feminist statement anyway, and the money is awesome and besides how else can you pay for school? when you have those same desperate thoughts about money, it's not quite as convincing at 37. 

mr. curry and i were thinking he might go On The Road (thanks JK for the lifetime of not being able to say that without thinking of you) and make Much More Money but after going over the negatives of this in my mind and with a girlfriend at coffee (shoutout Stephanie!) i realized that my husband would be living off of soda, water, burgers and tacos, in addition to sleeping in strange hours for odd amounts of time, and then two weeks of this later come home to me and four kids. no. not so much. next idea.

recent Facebook exchange between Dakota and myself:
Dakota posted: " that awkward time when you just have to slap a hoe "
I commented: " that even more awkward time when your mother reminded you that not only is 'slap a hoe' so 1995 but is also spelled 'ho', unless you are talking about abusing gardening tools, in which case, carry on "
He replied: " awww mom letta playa do his thing " ( from Dakota, this is very 'wink wink' with a smile )

I got like eight likes from his friends. Score mom!!!
( i have to point out to detract the haters, that this is a joke between my son and his best girl friend, and in no way does he support or agree with violence toward women )

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Welcome SPONSOR: Rhoadworks

Please welcome and visit Flux Capacitor's new sponsor, Rhoadworks 
As you can see, she makes the most adorable baby onsies and tees...including my favorite below.
As Harry Potter fanatics, we must see Ever in this!!
Many of her onsies are a riff on the below theme: My Brother is a Poodle, My Sister is a Calico Cat, etc. For animal lovers whose animals are truly part of their family, this is perfect. Also: SERIOUSLY AFFORDABLE
There are other sweet and funny onsies to browse, including this one which is my second favorite. As a Southern girl, this makes me smile. Check all her baby onsies out here!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Dakota comes home whispering that he is ten minutes late and sorry. He stands behind me in the glow of the computer screen and I look at his six foot frame, clean shaven head and face, wide eyes and tucked down baseball hat and fill with the same effortless, endless love that has been in me for him since the day I felt his foot kick the inside of my belly. I was nineteen, lost, lying on my mother's couch. Up until then, all I knew was that I hated quitting smoking for this baby, I was going to do the right thing for him no matter what, and that I had no idea what I was doing.  At the moment I felt his small foot, I knew that I loved him more than my own life and that this love would change me forever. As is has. As it did. Unconditional. Without condition. Without condition of reason, even. Without having reason or explanation for the presence of a profound love for an unseen, unborn child, it existed. I have read more than a few times that the happiest marriages are where the partners do not see each other as others do, where each person idealizes the other, in some amount. John Travolta said in an interview once that he has a hard time caring when he gains weight, because he doesn't notice and his wife doesn't notice either. We don't see each other that way, he said, and I knew exactly what he meant. Unconditional love is like this. It sees, but not without the filter of love. It knows, but not without the filter of love. I see my husband. I see my oldest son. Perhaps you would believe I see them less clearly than you. But I know better. I know that for every flaw you might notice and assume I ignore, I see that flaw and notice what you do not, or cannot. Perhaps loving someone so deeply is not a flaw of insight, but an illumination. In Dakota I see not only his actions, but the accumulation of his choices and actions since birth. I see the events that led to his decisions, the emotions that he went through to arrive at a choice, the attempts unobserved by the outside world, the growth, the small and soft layers of texture that are invisible to all but those who looked most carefully. Without context we cannot judge. Without love we do not have human context. 

I watch three boys riding home on their bikes. They are thirteen, awkward, over eager, mocking voiced, arrogant, trash throwing and ignoring the cars around them. I watch them closely, with context. I see they are vulnerable, beloved, neglected, desperate, joyful, exuberant, afraid, young and testing, testing, testing. I am overwhelmed with love for them. Be careful, sweetheart!, I yell out at the boy in the bright yellow shirt. He looks at me, astonished, and then before he can stop it, a grin breaks out over his face.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Why do you think we had children? Is is the love, the cuddles, the naked baby bellies, the laughter?

Obviously not. Following these two on their mode of transportation into the kitchen,

you will see the un-unionized children hard at work.

Lola's first word, at seven months old, was DISHWASHER. Clear as day, in her tiny high voice. My mom, Dakota and I all heard it. She never said it again, but it still counts. And as you can see, there was a reason for it.

Lola teaches Ever about keeping the butter knives toward the back, where Mommy can't get ahold of them and cut herself.

Ever has learned her duty well. Here, she clearly disapproves of the state of this 'clean' fork.

And like a good employee daughter, takes care of the problem herself. The next time you come to dinner, inspect your fork and spoon closely before you eat. I'll poke my own eye if you can't see your own reflection. ' Licked Clean ' is our motto.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

People In Your Neighborhood

Take a seat and read!
Whisky In My Sippy Cup writes the best thing I've read online in a while. Day Fourteen is about how what we learn love is as a child forms the partner we pick as an adult.

Sweetney talks about the end of her marriage, and then accepting the end of her marriage in Forward Onward Upward

Pundit Mom reflects on a preachers answer to a question about 'redistribution of wealth', in Just Tell  Our Kids To Ignore The Poor? 

On Anymommy... Stacey talks about her decision to keep her kids in kindergarten one more year in Only A Year. Her discussion about what she wants her children to get out of school is awesome.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Blogger Comments Are Pisting Me Off

I keep getting emails and FB messages from those of who who cannot comment on Flux, even using various browsers. It's really frustrating and I'm not sure what is going on, but instead of getting better after the revamp here, it's gotten worse. I'm trying to contact Blogger about it. Meanwhile, I'll just eat another chocolate chip cookie and pout. ( you can learn so much from a ten year old. did you know the fastest way to get rid of an unwanted wiggly tooth is just rip it out of your head? so that it bleeds all over? so that you can say 'look mom, there's still a piece of my gum attached!' in a gleefully horrified voice?   no? me either. oh Lola. )

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Slant of Sun

Lola is in the tub with Ever down the hall, singing ' if you're happy and you know it ' and Ever is soaking wet and grinning and I know this because every time I check, I see the two of them, buck naked and splashing with their eyes glued to each other, singing. 

if you're happy and you know it
your face will surely show it

Life is so, so full. I have never been this busy, not even when I was a young single mother with Dakota, working with him by my side at preschool all day, going to class at night. There weren't three other children, a husband, a writing career, a blog, two dogs... This life is for real. It's grabbed me by the tits and won't let go. When I wake at the crack of dawn to the kids, the house, dog shit on the floor, a day ahead of me lined with corridors of work and dog hair and dinner and .... I think you asked for this. how do you like it? 

I remember how I forget the aching void. Before them. There is not a second to myself in the day unless i fight tooth and nail for it, and sometimes, there isn't a second anyhow. I was sitting on the toilet yesterday, head in hands, exhausted, a cliche of magnitude that I couldn't have borne when I was younger and way DIFFERENT than everyone; my hair long with a knot in the back, underneath, sweatshirt with avocado stains from baby's lunch, pits stinky because I forgot deodorant, dashing out of the house at seven am with three kids, worked all day, came home pulled down my pants and underwear my body went rebel and unloaded my period on the carpet, then waddling jeans around ankles, leaving crime scene evidence behind me for the three steps it took until I slapped my ass on the toilet lid and put my head down. And laughed. Almost cried. But I laughed.

You can't appreciate most anything until you lose it. You can appreciate it. But you can't appreciate it. Human beings are built this way. I liked my free time before. I enjoyed movies, books, silent moments lying in a slant of sun on the cotton sheets of my bed after being royally fucked by my one true love, eating a bagel in a coffee shop, listening to music without voices in the background, reading a paper, long hot baths, foreign films, hours to write in peace, ah. Ah. But I have never ached for peace and quiet in my bones like I do sometimes now, with four children.  There are moments when I feel if one more person asks me a question, I am going to tear my hair out and run screaming down the street, and all the neighbors will say how I never fit in, anyway. Moments, hours, where my skin tingles with nervous vibration, so overstimulated with touch, touch, touch. Mornings where the questions and whining and complaining and even singing are so overwhelming that I understand why small children bang their heads on walls when they are overstimulated.

And then I remember what I forget. How deeply meaningful life is, how much I look forward to silence and books and music and movies and my husband because of how abundantly, ridiculously, miraculously overflowing my heart and soul are with the lives and love of our children.  Because of them, I understand better the riches all around me now: the importance of individual human beings and their lives. How much less time I spend thinking now about 'the meaning of life' because I am too busy living in it. How I fall asleep and wake without that hollow feeling that was before my constant companion, but instead with the steady satisfaction that a meaningful life gives.  How I have laughed harder and longer over a two year old's escapades than I did stoned in high school. How the endless sacrifice and hard work are building my character. I have always wanted to be a hard worker, an unselfish, generous, loyal, unconditionally loving person; I guess I expected this to happen through divine intervention. Instead, it's happening through mothering my children. The work of becoming a better human being in the context of other human beings is not a desk job. It is blue collar work- it is ten hour days, seven days a week, put your boots on and take off your earrings. The baby will probably rip them out if you don't.  

And then I remember what is most important- I remember how I actually feel, all the time, the river that runs through it: I feel happy. I am so deeply happy, so entrenched in the solid ground of my family, that sometimes, I have to hear my children singing 

if you're happy and you know it
your face will surely show it

before I realize that I am happy, and I had forgotten what happiness was. Being of use and necessary to others, sharing laughter and appreciation of life's offerings, losing yourself in the work of life, feeling loving and loved.  Surface emotions flicker across life like fish scales on the ocean top.  You squint, focus on them, and they are soon gone. The fatigue, irritation, over-stimulation and constant motion of this work distracts me: but what lies beneath is the same slant of sun I miss on the cotton sheets of my bed: the happiness of love. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Thanks to The Bully Project for sponsoring my writing. Visit their website to join the movement and learn more.

 It is hard for me to look at Lola, ten years old, and remember myself at that age. When I look at Lola and see beauty- true beauty, that is, illumination of the soul- joy, sensitivity, big dreams, big smiles, big laughter, an eager mind and unselfconscious self esteem, it's painful to imagine her feeling as I did. Stupid, ugly, not funny, not shining, the world growing smaller instead of larger. 

I had been bullied.

In first grade it began, I do not remember the day to day. I remember flashes, ragged edged details. The children who said I had cooties and passed them on to one another as I sat, uncomprehending. What had I done to be singled out? I could not understand it. The brothers who taunted me and the one who tripped me as I ran inside at the recess bell; I broke my wrist. I don't know what, if anything, happened to him. I don't remember if I told. I just remember that he tripped me on purpose. The girls who would line up to play tag and refuse to ever tag me. The lunch line and pushing, shoving, snarky faces. The lonliness. The sense of 'other' that had already begun to grow in me and at school, under the scorn of my classmates, blossomed sour and cold.

Second and third grade passed, much the same. I escaped bullying in fourth and fifth grade, and fell back into the nightmare in sixth grade- Middle School.  Middle School. To my ears, those words sound like Voldemort's hideout in Harry Potter: He who cannot be named is alive and back in Middle School My tormenter for the entire year was an orange haired and lashed, freckled face, sweater wearing boy named Toby. He honed in on me- a transplant to a new school at Christmastime, someone who hadn't formed a social group- and set out to spew as much hatred toward me as one thirteen year old boy can.  Every day I winced under his insults, timeless ringers: dummy, ugly, stupid... I came to despise the sight of him so much that his coppery glow from afar gave me a stomach ache.  

In seventh grade, I had more friends, was settling in, when the mother of bullying moved in.  I had a friend named Jill. Jill was short, smart assed, sloe eyed and looking back, miserable. After I became good friends with another girl, Jill was so jealous that she gathered a group of girls who were in a quasi-gang- as gang-ish as seventh graders in suburbia can be- and these girls terrified me. There were maybe ten of them, and half of them were a good four inches taller than me and forty pounds heavier, they wore thick black swords of eye makeup and dark red lipstick, they sprayed their dark hair out far and wide and they laughed as if they had never been anything but mean. 

Lunch. A time of hanging out became complete torment. They threw trash at my head. They called me slut and bitch and fucking hoar and retard and stupid ass white girl. They drove away all of my friends except one, and then even she was too afraid. They followed me as I tried to hide. They spit at me. They screamed at me across the halls, unabashed, unafraid. The tsunami of anxiety that hit me every morning when I awoke was unbearable, and yet I continued to wake, dress, and head to school. I could not tell anyone, I knew the timeless code. Telling would make it worse.

Then they told me that after school, while I walked home, they were going to hide in bushes and jump out on me and beat me until I bled. Months went on like this. At lunch one day, they gathered around me in a half circle in the courtyard. I don't know where the adults were. Jill was in the middle, tiny and fierce with her hairspray and mean, curled mouth. chickenchickenchicken, she called out to me over and over. The sun beat down on my head. I carried my backpack. My shoes were too tight. Everyone was watching. Jill yelled, the gang girls laughed, the sun hurt. I snapped. I leaned forward and hit her in the stomach with my fist curled tight, and Jill made a short, barking gasp and doubled over. I burst into tears. I ran away. 

I told. My mom contacted the office and they had Jill write me an apology, and after that she never talked to me or looked at me again. In high school when I was 'popular' and she was alone and silent in our mutual biology class, I left her alone. I could see the pain inside of her and I knew that she had done to me what someone else had done to her.

The damage that was done to me will never leave, as far as I know. I am thirty seven and the memories of my helplessness, fear and self loathing still bring tears to my eyes. The thought of this- anything remotely like this- happening to my daughters.... completely, totally and irrevocably NO. 
I would do anything to protect them from this. I would live with roomates to stay home and homeschool them if that was the only solution. The effects of what happened to me were not only to my psyche,  but my ability to learn in school. I went from being a straight A student to struggling in sixth grade, and I never picked myself back up all the way. My daughters, your children, all children, deserve a safe environment to learn and live.

It is up to the adults around children to SPEAK UP when they see or hear or suspect something like bullying going on. It is so simple, and yet most people around me do not. I see things, I say things, and I stand back and wonder how the other adults remained silent. Children need our protection from bullying as much as they need protection from molesters, hepatitis or whooping cough. Not only consequences,  but serious discussions about lashing out at others and why people- kids- even DO so. Meeting the emotional needs of those who are bullying is just as important as those who are being bullied. Stop the cycle.

The movie Bully addresses this issue- something once thought of as a rite of passage that has rightfully been turned on it's head, viewed now as emotionally scarring and damaging our children in ways that effect them not only now, but as adults. I can't wait to see it.

 I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Find showings in your area for The Bully Project and buy tickets here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Gone Away Lake

A few weekends ago it was rainy and cold, and we went to Poway Lake to feed the ducks. If you look at the far left bank, you can see Ever bending over, then Mr. Curry walking behind her, then way over on the right side, Lola running.

Ever was fearless. She's clearly communicating with the white duck. Her look says.... what the heck?

We brought stale bread and watched a fisherman with his children. He caught a fish, and then beat it to death alongside the rocks.

I tried to think of happier things. Like these guys.

Ever is sixteen months old now. She says 'Hi Dada' in the cutest voice. Everything she says sounds ridiculously cute, she's a baby! And she has, in my humble and fair opinion, an adorable voice. She can point out her ears, nose, mouth, hair, head and eyes. Oh, and her bellybutton- which says DING DONG

Lola is ten. Ten and I"m watching as she is creeping out of childhood toward something else. It's marvelous and painful, like a lot of change is.

My girl!!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Depersonalization of a New Mother

Mr. Curry is back for himself and then, for us. I wish I could say the same for myself. Since Ever's birth, a strange and unsettling dissociation has me in it's grips, and I am never- almost- never grounded. My mind, already inclined to flight, has detached itself like a whimsical balloon that floats above everything and everyone, largely unconcerned with the problems of the body below.

The distinguishing characteristic of depersonalization disorder is the feeling that one is going through the motions of life, or that one’s body or self is disconnected or unreal. Mind or body may be perceived as unattached, seen from a distance, existing in a dream, or mechanical. Such experiences are persistent and recurrent, and lead to distress and dysfunction. Chronic depersonalization is commonly accompanied by “derealization,” the feeling that features of the environment are illusory. It should be noted that characteristics attributed to depersonalization disorder must be independent of any kind of substance abuse. It should also be noted that depersonalization as an isolated symptom may appear within the context of a wide variety of major psychiatric disorders. For example, mild episodes of depersonalization in otherwise normally functioning individuals have been reported following alcohol use, sensory deprivation, mild social or emotional stress or sleep deprivation, and as a side effect to medications. However, severe depersonalization is considered to be present only if the sense of detachment associated with the disorder is recurrent and predominant. > Psych Central

I have anxiety disorder, most of you know, and have since I was a little girl. At times, the fever pitch of anxiety snowballed into panic attacks, clawing one after the other their way up my spine and into my soul and brain like crazed cats, spiraling so that every moment of life was filled for me with pure terror, dread. During my pregnancy with Ever, I had taken the smallest possible dose of zoloft until finally I took none, so that when she was born I had none in my blood, my brain. I felt wonderful. I felt wonderful lying down to receive the morphine for my C-Section- the first I have ever had- I was prepared, informed, and had Mr. Curry next to me, holding my hand, telling me a story to distract from the large needle delivering the juice to my spine.  As the numbness began to spread through me, as the morphine moved its way through the river of veins, a slow and terrible anxiety began to grip me. Oh no, I remember thinking so clearly, looking at the bright white lights, the bright white sheets, the bright white room, the gleaming silver equipment, the masks of the nurses, oh no. I sought out Mr. Curry's eyes, large and hazel, flecked with gold, eyelashes long and dark. He looked straight into me, as he always does, and I felt the safety of his love arriving alongside the free for all of anxiety. Flanked, motherfucker. I gripped his hand tighter. He leaned over, seeing my distress. It's OK honey, you are doing great. I love you, we are having our baby. 

Ever was lifted out of me and I heard her cry, that timeless clarion call, like a startled kitten, she meowed in a scratchy rhythm. And still, alongside now Mr. Curry's love, alongside this new love, was the red river of anxiety, burning it's way through my body, setting fires, freeing monsters.
I was in a very bad way for weeks afterward.  From the exact moment my conscious woke in the morning, before I had chance to open my eyes and take in something good, something light, something whole, anxiety was wielding it's bricks and pounding my brain, my heart. The overwhelming terror is impossible to explain, and yet in the midst of it, I try over and over to tell Mr. Curry. It feels like... someone is standing over me with a bloody knife and they have just stabbed you and now they are going to stab me. It feels like... all our children are dying of cancer.  It feels like... we were just told nuclear war is happening and we are all going to die. It feels like... I'm in a car going over a cliff but it's happening in slow motion and no one can save me... I use brutal words. He listens to me patiently, silently, with his body turned toward me. Absorbing what he can for me. 

My entire body vibrates with fear. My hands shake. My stomach is visibly quivering. The skin around my mouth twitches. Small electrical discharges move the long smooth muscles of my thighs and arms without my consent. The first time this happened to me, years ago, I thought I had MS, or Parkinsons, the disease my Grandmother Elizabeth died of.  My face goes numb in patches; a large stretch of skin across my calves burns hot, then freezing cold. My eyes burn, my vision blurs, the tips of my fingers sear with pain. My stomach is coiled into a tiny hard pit stinking with the fumes of fear: cortisol and adrenaline pump like oil rigs day and night. I cannot eat.  I make myself eat for the baby, the breastmilk.  I cannot sleep. I make myself sleep for the baby, the children. I have to use the bathroom a hundred times a day, shitting out the contractions of my gut. At times the terror overwhelms me so that I grip the closest table or counter or thing, just anything solid and stronger than I am, something to hold onto while the wave crashes across me. I breathe. I pray. I use every single piece of knowledge and wisdom I have ever been taught to make it through the day and the night and then again. I wake in the morning, freezing cold every inch, and do what Mr. Curry reminds me every day. Take care of the children. Don't think about yourself. Think about them. And it is the thing that keeps me from flying into a million shattered fragments.

Tell your mind, Mr. Curry coaches me, every day, every morning on the phone and every afternoon on the phone and every afternoon when he comes home and then again at bedtime. Tell your mind, There is no war. There is no dying. This is not happening. But it could be, I plead, it doesn't matter, it might happen, it could happen!  It DOES matter, he says firmly, our life matters, we love our children, we love each other, and every second we have alive and together matters to us Maggie. It matters. If tomorrow something happens we would look to today to see if we had been glad for what we had. Focus! And I cling to his words which I believe and he believes and they keep me moving. I cave quickly after three days of this, I take the zoloft, a high dose, for me, and I weep and fear for my breastfeeding. Mr. Curry and I talk it over and I discuss it with the pediatrician at Ever's checkup and I decide to keep nursing her. 

Time passes.

I get better. But I am nursing Ever, and co-sleeping, and so I am wakened many times a night, and although this lessons as she gets older, still, I never get more then four hours of sleep at one time. I am better, I eat wonderfully, I take the important fish oils, the b-vits, the multiple, I move my body, I get sunshine, and I get better. But I am consumed with  my infant daughter and her tiny, new body and soul, and the sleepless and four kids and working and laundry and husband and moving and money and constant notenoughmoneynotenoughmoney and work/homework/dinner/bath/write/sleep repeat and through the blur of this time I push my hands and part the curtain and realize that I cannot feel myself inside this story. I am telling the story, and I am watching the story, but I am detached. 

I have, at four children, one a nursing baby, met my match.  I am overwhelmed to a degree that I never predicted when pregnant with Ever, never having worked with a baby before.  I had no idea what the pull of a full time job and four children would feel like, and it is feeling like a balloon head, floating over the body and soul of a person who I recognize, somewhat as me- unshaven, hair a messy bun, bags under my eyes, notes scribbled in ink on the back of my hand as I hopelessly try to keep up with the VIP TO DO LIST, ten pounds overweight, out of shape, clothes ill fitting and sporting the occasional hole, a distracted and possibly pissy look on my freckled face.  I had sunglasses, but I lost them. Again.  I am doing. I am making. I am working. I am mothering. I am even having sex with my husband. But I am not all here. I am not all me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Women and Making Money Off Of Blogging

I began blogging in 2008, the year I moved away from Myspace and the small little box of blogging poetry I had been doing amongst a great group of people, to Blogger, an expansive and noisy terrain filled with the movement of people excited about what they are doing, when they hardly know how to define it. I started blogging with the exact same intent that I had pushed my poetry into Myspace- toconnect through my writing in a ( often ) brutally honest way, and to make money through writing.

I've wanted to be a writer since I call remember wanting to do anything. My first piece was a play in elementary school called The Sun and Moon about the Moon's jealousy from being lit simply by the radiance of the sun.  Since then I have filled five or six diaries, the first one beginning around first grade, ( filled with mentions of what toys I played with and how my horse fund was going ) written a newsletter, wrote for my high school newspaper, read a poem at an AIDS vigil, written poems for my lover and my friends and my husband and my children and my mother and my sister and most of all for myself, had poems published online and then in print, wrote for college, wrote for Huffington Post,  and finally been paid for my work.  Mostly, in the years between five and now, 37, I wrote in the silence of an empty audience. I wrote papers and notebooks and notebooks and journals and typewriter and then later computer reams of essays, stories, poems and one and now two novels.  I have spent more time writing than I have showering, having sex, dancing or eating- more time writing words that no one ever saw and will ever see, more time, more time, more time.  I practiced, as the saying goes, until my fingers bled.  And I read. I read so many books that I cannot go to Goodreads, where my count runs lazily in the five or six hundreds, without adding one, two, no three more books I recall that I have read.  I have read more memoirs, novels, non-fiction, essay, poetry and journal collections, newspapers and magazines than seem possible. I am a speed reader, a prolific and devoted and passionate reader, and the only time I can force myself to slow down and read at a measured pace is when the words are that good, or that important to me. 

And now I am here, at Flux Capacitor, a place I have slowly worked on, like a small and devotedly loved piece of art, since the year 2008. I have pushed myself to be a better, braver and more honest writer every time I open this white steady box with the orange POST at the top.  I have poured my most intimate terrors, joys, lessons and losses into this place, using not only my memories, but also everything I know about writing. 

And I want to get paid doing it.

I have remained silent on the issues of bloggers getting paid over the last two years, even as I read more often blog posts about the subject, readers who did not write commenting, and then articles in bigger spaces and online newspapers and magazines discussing bloggers getting paid, bloggers running ads, bloggers using sponsored posts.  My silence was simply the non response that I often- maybe too often- enact when an 'issue' that feels patently un-'issue' like to me is bandied about. We aren't talking about illness, death, life, meaning, work, sex- the meat of things. I don't like to be part of a conversation that feels purposefully inflamed for the sake of excitement. I kept writing.

However. I do not believe that this issue is going away, and in fact, some people seem completely determined to keep it an issue. Being part of this community, being a writer and a blogger and oh- a woman- who has ads, who takes sponsored posts and who is delighted to earn money off of my blog, I cannot ignore the insult.

There is the obvious sexist overtone to the entire discussion. Most bloggers- all?- that are referred to in these discussions are women. And too often and too predictably the ones insulting and rebuking women for making money blogging are other women. I suppose women tear each other down for the same predictable, boring and timeless reasons people do these things to each other- pain, self-hatred, self-doubt, ego, a cruel streak, a bad day- but it is particularly insidious to watch. I read an interview recently where a 'powerhouse' of a woman was asked about her experience specifically as a successful woman, and she responded that the hardest part was not the men along the way, but the women at the top. What we want for ourselves and our daughters is best served in supporting the same for other women.  When women come together in support of one another amazing change, growth occurs. The blogs I have read decrying 'blogging money' are often written from a martyr standpoint. Well, they sigh, if those ladies want to make a living writing, I suppose that's their choice, but I'd like you all to know I never, ever expect a penny from any of this. Just your undying admiration for my excellence and over all superiority in character. My! I do love you all, and you love me, and love is all we need in this cold, false world. Ladies. Please. This is about as adult of a conversation as ' love means never having to say your sorry ' was in Love Story. We all need a pot to pee in, and I'd like mine to flush, ie: I need the money. If I didn't, great. If I do, great.  If we are all selling something in this world, I'm selling my writing, not my pure soul. I'm sure you all are aware of that by now.

 Men are traditionally expected and encouraged to make money doing whatever comes naturally to them, what they put their energies- both mental and physical - into making money is worthwhile. Women are traditionally shamed for wanting more, for working for more, and for God's sake let's move on, for demanding more. A professional request for better working conditions or more money from a woman can still be construed and openly discussed as bitchy. A man in the same situation is simply a powerhouse. While there are bumps along the way to making money through blogging- maintaining integrity, quality of writing, crassness of a sell- they are just that- bumps- and will either be dealt with well or not- but either way they do not reflect on the validity of the choice to attempt to make money through blogging.  I have always wanted to earn a living being a writer. I openly allow that I desire to make money off of Flux Capacitor, off of writing, and to make enough money writing to quit my day job. Open desire for women to make money is obviously somehow still watercolored with shame. It's 'embarrassing'- or at least, for some, believe it should be. I'm not the slightest damn embarrassed or coy about my intentions here and it flabbergasts me to come up with a single reason I should be. 

Now sometimes bloggers switch to money makers and their blogs suffer. Their writing suffers. I myself have stopped going to a few blogs I can think of because the writers there stopped almost completely writing about their lives and thoughts and began writing about things like concert promotions and baby goods and making slideshows to infinity, and I just got bored. Sometimes bloggers switch to money makers and their blogs become consistently embarrassingly pandering. These things happen, but that is not the point of this partichlah piece here. The route that blogging as a whole is going these days is a whole other piece! One that I definitely have my own thoughts and feelings about. But right now,  I'm talking about the voices out there that are actively shaming other bloggers for trying to make money through blogging. That's it.  If my writing becomes to stressful for me because of the money aspect, or suffers, I can totally see myself just shutting that aspect down here, and trying a new tact. But right now, I'm talking about....yes, you know what I'm going to say. YOU CAN"T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Ha. Sorry. Back to business-

I have worked my ass off to be a wonderful writer, and I have spent not only countless hours but also money making Flux Capacitor a good read for anyone who comes here.  I offer not only my writing but the blood of my life. ( Blood of my blood. Game of Thrones, anyone? Mr. Curry and I are obsessed! ) Someone believes I should do this for free because it makes it cheaper to want money for it. There is nothing cheap about putting a price on a craft. If a shaman woman offers me a protective symbol for a goat, I'll either say no or give her the goat. I'm not going to tell her she has no honor because she wants my billy for her magics. I have no intention of putting my hard earned craft out into the world without expecting anything in return. If I could do that, and wanted to, bully for me! But I don't; I can't. I work full time. Then I come home, be with and care for my family, until around nine pm, when I come here, and spend the next hour to four working on Flux and other essays and poems and stories I am working on.  I do this because I love to write and connect. I do this because I want to make money. And both ways of blogging are just fine. Both are valid. Both have worth, and dignity. Money does not strip dignity. The way a person lives-  the words out of our mouths and on our pages can strip dignity.  If I offer something beautiful or something amusing or something interesting or something true- something I made and ask a fair and honest price, who here would deny me that?


I haz magics. You haz billy?

(damnit. I can't help my fucking self!!!)
(..." and here is where the writer undermines her credibility, ")

Read Sweetney's thoughts on this same subject On Privilege and Selling Out 
Read Kate Granju's thoughts on the same subject Bloggers and Money and Selling Out and All That 
Read Ryan's thoughts on a slightly different side of this subject, which I totally can totally see myself possibly doing at some point if I get too stressed Life After Stats

Monday, April 2, 2012

the catch all black of midnight birds

i hate these night-birds.
dark water songs that trill
and fill the air i am breathing and so
i am soon full of black lung water and so
i am full of bird droppings and my eyes
have scales like the clicking of their feet
as the lids flutter fast and the lashes meet
there are places in the nighttime where
healthy persons do not acknowledge
there are blood- cracks on the ice lake where
children ice skate and you must not dance
by this i mean the suffering never ends
over that part of the lake you must not
these are the bird shapes that claw
their way through my chest when they
sing at night, dark breasted babies
in nests open mouthed in trees
perch on the limb and sing to him
i have the midnight disease: i am afraid

i am trying to work
sing song irrevrant and uglybeautiful
on the clean black scale of midnight
they sing up and down the line
they are Mozart eyed and Bach brained
lilting and lifting and crooning
when there is no sunlight? no light?
the cage is the darkness and the birds
are the broken ones and they sing
to make me remember the broken.
i am still and frozen in the catch all
black, do not want to feel your
whisper wings on my skin. do not
want to break your hollow bones
do not want to hear your strange songs
i am making sentences i am singing words
i flutter my hands toward where you might
be, hoping to scare you away
in the darkness the flash of my white hands
and fingers make the shapes of singing birds

maggie may ethridge

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