Monday, May 30, 2011

If I had $200 million

                The lottery is at $200 million dollars. I’m going to buy a few tickets tomorrow because, even if I don’t win a dime, one of my favorite fantasies is the “If I won the lottery” game. So, this is what I’d do if I won $200 million dollars:
                First thing’s first- I’m getting the Hell out of North Carolina. I know it’d make a lot of people happy were I to move to Cincinnati but, honestly, with that sort of cash, I can visit enough to suit everyone. No, I’m going home. I’d buy a nice house that over looked Puget Sound- probably some place on the peninsula around the Orcas Islands. I’d want it to be open with lots of windows overlooking the water and a huge deck so I could grab a cup of coffee in the morning and watch the eagles and whales. Something like this:
                And I’d fill it with things from Restoration Hardware:
                Once that was settled, I’d set my folks up with whatever they wanted. The same goes for my brothers. And I’d pay off my aunts’, uncles’, and cousins’ debts. Then, of course, money would be invested for my and Elijah’s futures.
Of course,  Ár nDraíocht Féin ( would receive a sizable donation as well- gotta keep my Pagan peeps rolling in the dough.
So, hooking my family up is taken care of, I’ve sat down with my financial advisor to keep Elijah and me happy, and I’ve done the appropriate tithing. Hmm, well, that still leaves well over $150 million dollars. Let’s party!
Let’s all go to St. Croix for a month, and then spend a few months traveling through Europe. Of course, we’ll have to hit up Asia and parts of Africa and South America. Basically, I’d just travel the world as whim and Elijah’s school schedule allowed, and bring whoever wanted to come along for the ride…. But I’d make you buy your own passport.
Oh, and I’d buy a sailboat for traveling around the islands. Nothing too big- I want to be able to handle it on my own but I don’t want to feel like Jonah the first time we come across an orca, either. Hmm, maybe something like this:
And then, I’d open up my own café. Like, of course, my beloved Le Panier:
And I’d buy my dream car:  (the hatchback, please, in blue).
Oh, and this picture as well….  I really want it as a tattoo, actually…. But where??

Saturday, May 28, 2011


                I feel like I’m cheating myself. Maybe it’s because I’m growing older or maybe it’s because I’m slowly taking steps out of the cage I locked myself in after the divorce. I don’t know. I’m sure it has a lot to do with how much self-examination has been done of late. Either way, the sides I have are so distinct, I think I ought to have been a Gemini… or diagnosed with multiple personalities.
                There is one side of me that writes deeply personal stories, listens to classical music, watches foreign films, and loves live theater. She takes a deep breath before speaking, offers well thought out advice to her friends in need, and weighs the possible reactions before doing anything. She prefers classic, comfortable clothes and wouldn’t dream of wasting time on such a silly thing as make up before working in the kitchen. She is firm and disciplined. You might find her in a coffee shop, inhaling the aromas of her grande latte (no whip, no flavors, please), and reading a book on comparative religion or editing a photograph of a tastefully done nude. She is guarded and insecure. She attempts to find goodness in everyone. She wants a deep, romantic relationship with a guy that will adore her and adopt her son as his own….. in time, once we’re settled.
                Then, there is the other side of me that likes pop music and/or rock. She has tattoos, curses like a sailor, and drinks hard alcohol. She likes to speed in her car and really, really wants to say all the inappropriate things that pop into her head (seriously, have you seen the size of our carrots at work? They inspire- nay, demand- dirty thoughts!). She’s sarcastic, snarky, and cynical, and nothing pleases her more than a night on the town with fun, loud people. She believes in vengeance, laughs really loudly, and wants nothing right now than to find that perfect shade of red lipstick to go with the kiss prints on her underwear. Girl talk is her number one hobby and all she really wants in a guy is someone who can help her figure out the intricacies of Karma Sutra Positions #87, 93, 34, and 109… oh, and how do you do that thing with the…..? But don’t even think of meeting her kid because she’ll be gone in a few months and that particular boyfriend doesn’t belong in the long term plan.
                Then, there’s that third side that speaks softly, smiles shyly, and LOVES flowers and kittens and puppies and aren’t these peonies just the most lovely shade of pink? They simply must be picked and put upon the dresser. And everything is soft kisses and shades of romance. She’ so achingly honest that she’d beaten back by the other, more robust sides that simply could not stand to see her hurt. And she crushes on all the attractive boys *sigh*
                Needless to say, things get a little confusing and I often feel like the Jack-of-All-Trades-Master-of-None. If I hang with people who can’t quite step away from the high school bullshit conversations that, unfortunately, linger on well past graduation, I start to wonder about the book I left on my nightstand or the quickest way to swim in deeper waters. If the conversation veers too far in the opposite direction, I suffer a log jam of snark and step up to the bar for a mimosa or six. Either way, I feel a bit like a fish out of water in any pond.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stool Pigeon

                My new boss confronted me the other day and asked if the rumors were true. Is my house on the market and do I plan on moving? Considering that I was expecting, if anything, a question about scheduling or some other banal workplace topic, I was a little taken aback. Now, I’m not entirely stupid. When you A) have a public blog in which personal life is posted, B) post links to hopeful apartments on your Facebook page where your coworkers can see them and, most damningly, C) say to your coworkers “I’m selling my house and moving to Cincinnati to, hopefully, get a business degree,” people you did not intend to find out certain information sometimes discover it nonetheless. I get it. I understand.
                My question, though, is “Why?” Why was this brought up? Why did the person that “tattled” (because, let’s be honest, we can place money on C even if we don’t know for sure who ratted) feel the need to rat about something that, ultimately, has so little to do with the company? It’s not like I am in charge of anything major or had applied for anything. What conversation transpired that this occurred? And why, dear boss, did you feel the need to clarify it with me? Would it change a damn thing? Nope. Because, again, I’m not in charge nor am I applying for anything. And, while we’re asking questions, why the hell would you bring this sort of question up to me in front of an office full of people?
                So, once I regained a little composure, I replied “I’ll give you plenty of notice should I ever leave.” Next time, I think I’ll just leave one of the house’s brochures and encourage him to take a look at it.
                If you need any clarification or just want something for my boss to highlight should this ever be brought up again, here it is:
                I never intended to stay in North Carolina when I moved here from Washington. This has always been temporary. I don’t know exactly how long I’m going to be here but my home is on the market and as soon as we get a solid buyer, my folks are going to buy a house in Northern Kentucky. I’m going to travel with them up there and get a home in Cincinnati, Ohio. Then, I’m going to go to school and, hopefully, start work towards a business degree. I plan on transferring to the Cincinnati Whole Foods and staying on with them in some capacity during school and either rising through the ranks to corporate or starting my own business after I get my degree. My favorite color is blue and Southern culture confuses the fuck out of me.
                There! Happy?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Coup De Grace

                On the way home from work this evening, I passed a rabbit sitting in the middle of the road. I thought it weird that the rabbit was there so I turned around, went back, and turned my hazard lights on. When it didn’t run away, I knew that the poor thing was injured. My first thought was to gather it up and take it to a vet. Then, I saw the little pool of blood under it and knew that it was going to die. My heart ached for it. I had two options presented before me. The rabbit was going to die tonight either way. I could take an active part in the animal’s death and deliver the coup de grace or I could drive on and let nature take its course.
                As a Pagan devoted to  Epona, I’ve always felt a strong kinship with horses (obviously) and rabbits. Epona, in addition to guiding the sole in the afterlife and influencing our dreams, is a fertility goddess and rabbits are often seen as symbols of fertility.
In addition, my father, on occasion, would call me Boudica as a teenager. Boudica was a Queen of the Iceni people (now modern Norfolk, England). She was a strong, intelligent redhead that waged war against the Romans when her daughters were raped by them. It is said that the Warrior Queen released a rabbit onto the battle field as an offering to the gods before the battle and won. She, it is also said, had a rabbit as a guide during a vision.
I’ve always considered seeing a rabbit the sign of a good day and have always wanted one as a pet. Because of the religious association, I simply won’t eat rabbit outside of ceremony and, honestly, would feel very sick if I had to in ceremony. So, you see, as silly as it may seem to you, I simply could not just let this animal suffer. I, also, did not think I had it in me to kill any animal, especially a rabbit.
I cried over this decision. I simply didn’t know what to do. Then, the rabbit looked me straight in the eye and I felt my Goddess push me to end the animal’s suffering. I got in my car, drove a short way, turned, and aimed directly for the creature, praying that I wouldn’t miss lest I have to turn around and make a second attempt. My front tire hit with a definite thud and bile rose in my throat. As soon as I parked my car in front of my house, I cried for the rabbit’s soul and wished it safe journeys on its way.
I feel so sad for the animal. Now, I know that I went that particular route home because Epona knew that animal needed my help. It was a challenge, one I hope not to be presented with again, but I think I acted well on her behalf. I hope I shortened the rabbit’s suffering even a little bit. I hope that, in those final moments, in whatever capacity it could, it felt my sorrow for its pain.


                The Muslims have a term for non-believers. No, it’s not “Filthy White Infidel” although that might be some people’s translation. No, the word is “Mushrikeen” or “Mushrik” if you’re thinking singularly. I know this because I’m reading an English translation of the Qur’an. It’s my goal to make it through the Qur’an, Bible, and Torah in hopes of gaining a better perspective on the three major religions of our time. To avoid long, uncomfortable conversations with my Dad (who is an Elder in his Presbyterian church), I probably won’t even start the Bible until I move out.
                Although I’ve been reading this book for about a week now, I’m just now actually getting to the actual Qur’an. The first 120 pages are a history of their Prophet Mohammad. It’s, honestly, a little bit of a hard read because it was written by an Islamic religious scholar who was a little heavy on the religion but not so much the scholarly side. I’d really like to learn more about Mohammad because, in theory, he was a real person. I’m not sure but, I think that the case for Mohammad’s existence is a bit stronger than that of Jesus’s. Of course, this one fact wouldn’t give Islam any more validity in my mind than video of Jonestown makes me think Jim Jones was the Messiah or whatever he thought Kool-Aid and guns made him.
                Anyway, I’ve finally gotten to the actual book but I’ve got a sort of sick feeling in my gut. I get this way with most Judo-Christo-Islamic situations because there seems to be such a heavy focus on ridding the world of Pagans. Whether through breeding (were a Pagan to father a child with a Jew, that child would be Jew), conversion, or slaughter, they all seem to have an unhealthy focus on getting Pagans the F*** out of here. As a Pagan, I find this a bit unnerving. Nobody likes the idea that major religions have spent several hundreds or thousands of years trying to get rid a particular group- least of all, whatever group that may be.
                Look, not to get all crazy about it, but the history of Pagan polytheistic religions predate monotheistic religions by tens of thousands of years. I think we’ve got a right to be here. I’m not saying everyone needs to abandon their ways of thinking and come back to the folds of Mother Earth and Father Sky (Honestly, we don’t want you. Do you think we want our religion to be spoiled the way you’ve spoiled your own [see below]?), but I’d like to read a little more “this is what we believe and if you don’t, that’s cool, too” and a little less, “death to the infidels”, “thou shall not suffer a witch to live,” etc., etc.
                In addition to that particular theme, in the beginning of the Qur’an, it says that Allah gave people Moses and the Torah to bring people to him. Then, he gave people Jesus and the Gospels. But people (we Pagans) did not believe so Allah sent the Prophet Mohammad to confirm the Torah and Gospels and give us the Qur’an as well. 2:[87-90] Okay, right there people! One God, one message spread across three books. Why the fuck are you guys so Hell bent on killing each other? You know, killing Pagans suddenly makes a lot more sense than killing each other. It’s like saying “You’re dead to me because you say tomāto and I say tomăto!” It’s the same damn fruit, people! At least when you say that we Pagans are the bad folk, it’s more like “You’re dead to me because I say ‘tomato’ and you say ‘garden.’”

                I don’t think I’ll ever be turning my back on the Pagan Gods. Comparing polytheistic beliefs to monotheistic ones, I think that polytheism still makes way more sense. The idea that we are looked over by several different Gods and Goddesses that specialize in different things, have different views, and different temperaments just seems way more logical (if logic can be applied to religious and spiritual views at all) to me than this concept of a singular creator who destroys, kills, nourishes, and brings life to everyone so we can kill each other over how to correctly worship him.

                But, because it’s important to attempt to understand, I’ll keep reading, and I’ll keep questioning. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Grandmother's Cookies

I wrote this a long while back and keep telling myself I ought to publish it somewhere. I guess here will do for now.  


          I never met my maternal grandmother. She passed on long before I was born, leaving in her wake a devastated child that spoke of her so rarely I did not even know she existed until my adolescence. That was when the depression that enveloped and eventually took my grandmother’s life reared its ugly head and threatened to take mine as well. It was a simple, shocking story in which Mom revealed that the woman I knew as Grandma was actually my grandfather’s second wife. Her eyes bloodshot with fear and sadness at the discovery that I wanted to die, my mother said simply, “The first time my mother tried to kill herself she took a bunch of pills. I was so scared seeing her wheeled out of our house on that stretcher. The second time she took my father’s gun from his nightstand and killed herself. My father was accused of her murder despite the coroner ruling it a suicide. I’ve not spoken to her side of the family since.”
            In the fifteen since that revelation, I’ve never had the nerve to ask my mother about my grandmother. Her entry on the family tree my father made for all of his children leaves her entry blank save for the name “Gladys Petitt.” I’ve pieced together bits and fragments of her over the years through simple statements. Her middle name was Marie and my mom regrets not giving me that middle name. She let her daughter play in a patch of lily of the valley that grew in their yard each spring— both her and my mother’s favorite flower. Her family was of farming stock from northern Ohio. She had a dachshund. Her favorite Christmas carol was “What Child is This” and the song makes my mother cry each time they sing it in church.
In the only picture I’ve ever see of her, she’s sitting on a spot of freshly shorn grass, dressed in a crisp skirt and matching cardigan with perfectly coiffed hair that frames her features in large dark curls. Her long legs are stretched out in front of her. In her arms she holds my mother. She wears the beautiful smile of a mother very much in love with her daughter. My mother keeps this picture hidden in a jewelry box in her bottom dresser drawer. She claims my grandmother would be “positively tickled” by me.
            There is one story about my grandmother I remember my mother telling me over and over. Every year as Mom mixed the flour, sugar, eggs, and other ingredients for Christmas cookies, her eyes would take on a glassy stare. Her voice became high, quick, and halted, fighting back tears. She would relay her favorite childhood memory.
            In the chilled weeks before Christmas, my mother walked home from school. I imagine the clip of her Mary Janes on cold cement and her breath hanging in the air as she saunters along a street lined with tall oaks and craftsman style homes. It’s only when she sees the steam in the kitchen windows— a sure sign her mother has been baking— that she picks up her pace. In a swift moment she scurries up the wooden steps and burst into the kitchen which smells of toasted nuts, butter, and sugar. Chaotic piles of cookies cover the kitchen counters. There are sugar cookies decorated with colorful sprinkles, pecan balls dusted in snowy white powdered sugar, almond cookies shaped like crescent moons, and my mother’s favorite cookie of all: black walnut slices. Her mother— forever frozen in my mind as the woman on the grass with her daughter— turns from removing the last of the cookies from a baking sheet and smiles at her daughter. Mom gives her the sort of heart warming hug that children specialize in, sits at the kitchen table, and eagerly awaits a tall glass of fresh milk dropped off that morning by the milkman. It’s placed in front of her along with two perfect black walnut cookies and my grandmother removes her apron before taking a spot across from her. With her chin resting between two fists, she listens to her daughter recount the stories of the day, be they good or bad, and eats her treat with gusto.
            The Christmas before my eighteenth birthday, my mom wrote down all of her favorite recipes for me and put then in a cherry wood box with a note that reads:

Dear Heather,

It is with love that I copy these recipes for you and add a bit of family history. May you always enjoy the kitchen. It is a great place to relax and just think. It’s also a good place to prepare a bit of ‘love’ for friends and family as you put together their favorite recipes.

All my love,
Christmas 1998

            That spring I moved out on my own and away from Mom’s Christmas cookie baking. My grandmother’s story, however, lives on at the beginning of the recipe for black walnut cookies. When I seek out the black walnuts, mix the sugar, eggs, nuts and other ingredients I think of my grandmother in the kitchen, telling her daughter with simple actions that she will always love her. I may never know as much as I’d like to about my grandmother but through these humble cookies, and my mother’s softly spoken words, she will always be one of the most loved people in my life.

Anatomy of a Miscarriage

                It starts with the cramping, the blood, the sickening feeling of contractions come far too soon for your baby to be brought into this world. Whether spontaneously or with due warning, your whole heart screams with agony at the knowledge that this child you’ve been carrying is no longer with you. Sometimes, you’re able to hold the fetus in your hands. Sometimes, it’s so small, you can hold the little thing in the palm of one hand and have plenty of room to spare. Other times, it’s almost the size of a full term infant. If only it would open its little rosebud mouth and let out that cry. But that wailing in your soul is ringing in your ears, echoing off the walls.
                You mourn. You cry for the lost child, for the lost of hopes and fears that envelop every day of parenthood. You have crazy, heart wracking dreams that cause you to sweat your sheets. Watching a diaper commercial or seeing a mother pick out formula in the grocery store causes you to break down and lash out at the ones that have what you don’t. If you’re really unlucky, irrational thoughts enter your head. The little worm digs around in your brain: I want to die so that I can follow my child and make sure she is okay. I’m her Mom and it’s my duty.
                Everyone that knows, tries to offer some sort of consolation. They tell you it wasn’t meant to be.  They say stupid things if you were very early on in your pregnancy like “At least you weren’t further along.” No matter how far along it is, everyone repeats “You can try again,” “Are you going to adopt?” or “It’s God’s plan.” They look at you like you’re a stranger. Yesterday, your friend would have hugged you. Today, she’s biting her lip and shuffling her feet like a toddler, uncomfortable with the burden of grief. If you have any pregnant ones, for a while some of them might avoid you as if your miscarriage is contagious. You are a leper in their eyes. The ones that have suffered as you do, know what to say and do. They stand by you and hold your hand. They say they love you and ask for nothing in return. This is actually good. This shows you who your friends are.
                After a time, you are expected to move on. You go back to work. You suffer through the first few really uncomfortable dinners with people who have continued living while you’ve been shrouded in mourning. They laugh lightly about silly little things you’d once have found amusing, too, until the observant one notices that your lips twitch with every smile that never reaches your eyes. Oh, and then that person has to ask how you are really doing.
                I feel like a failure. I lost my little baby and she visits me every night in my dreams and I just want to cry and scream and punch the walls. I want to beat my husband for not understanding what it’s like to not be a mother-to-be any longer. I saw a child that looks the way I imagine my baby to look had she turned three and I spent fifteen minutes attempting to control my breathing so that I wouldn’t have a complete meltdown downtown.  I tried to return that layette I bought but can’t bring myself to touch the bag it came in. My baby is dead!
                Twitch. Smile. Take a drink or two of the wine. Smile just a little too wide now. You’re overcompensating on your expression in hopes that it will help to deflect attention from the madness swelling inside. “I’m fine.” This happens often enough and you start believing it. You’ll even have a genuine laugh again.
                Then, someone will announce their pregnancy. Depending on how strong you are and how well you’re coping, you might be able to hold back the tears until you get home. Maybe you’ll hold them back for the whole evening, into the week, or well into your friend’s second trimester. No matter, though. Those tears will come. You’ll spend a day wallowing in self pity and crying for your baby once again. It’s okay to skip out on baby showers and first birthday parties for a good, long while.
In time, the people around you will give birth. You’ll be forced to go into the baby section of Target and pick out something for the new arrival. You’ll manage just fine. You’ll coo over the miniature dresses and pint sized sleepers. You might feel a little melancholy but you’ll be able to make it through. You’ll go to the hospital, hug your friend, and hold that baby. You’ll feel positively happy for your friends. A tiny voice is going to ask if your baby would have been this wrinkled or bald or ruddy.
One night, you’ll tell your husband you want to start trying again. He is going to baulk. You’ll fight over it. He’ll tell you how horrible it was watching you suffer, how terrified he is that this is going to happen again, how he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to stand it if you get so low, so dark again. You will argue. You’ll go to bed angry and feeling more hollow than ever. Hot tears are going to soak your pillow again. Where is the man that vowed to stand by you through everything?
You will bring it up again and again and again. The arguing will continue in this wretchedly circular fashion of wants and fears. A cold and lonely distance will isolate you from your spouse. He’ll withdraw into himself. You’ll continue that pressing crusade for motherhood until you wear him down or he comes around. He’ll stumble upon you sitting alone on your bed one day, crying bitter tears over this path your life has taken. When he asks what’s bothering you, you’ll have the good sense to leave the sarcasm aside, lay all your cards out and pray for the best.
If luck has abandoned you, you’re getting a divorce. If, however, she’s shined her light upon you, you’ll agree to give this whole parenthood bit one more stab. You’ll read every article you can on getting pregnant. You’ll eat your leafy greens. You’ll time your sex. You’ll lie on your bed with a baby name book on your chest, your buttocks resting on three stacked pillows and your feet propped on the headboard. If you could, you’d study for the pregnancy tests that follow at weekly intervals.
Every negative is going to haunt you. Will you ever get pregnant again? Why is it taking so long this time? Is there something wrong with you that’s making it so you can’t get pregnant again? Is that what caused the miscarriage in the first place? Did the miscarriage cause this?
Then, there will be that one night when you let your guard down. You drink a little too much wine. You have sex on the wrong night and, for the first time since before the miscarriage, it actually feels good. Instead of spending the evening attempting to funnel as much semen towards your womb as possible, you fall asleep in his arms with a slick mess dirtying your thighs.
When you wake up, you are pregnant again. Of course, you don’t know right away. You’re back to doing your math, contorting the tilt of your pelvis, and wondering if you’re doing it right. It’s a full two weeks or more before you take a test and get that little positive sign. Congratulations.
This pregnancy isn’t like the first one, though. You don’t run out and buy a shopping cart full of gender neutral items this time. You’ve been bitten and now you’re shy. Even when the doctor confirms it, you still step gingerly. It’s harder to grow attached to this one like you did with her. You count down the days until your first trimester is over. Even then, you only gently prod at the prospects of motherhood. There is still so much that could go wrong.
When your doctor checks for a heartbeat, you hold your breath every time until you hear the comfortingly swift rhythm you’ve committed to precious memory. And those tears will flow hot and heavy if, for even a moment, it’s a bit difficult to find. The ultrasounds fill you with conflicted excitement and fear and if you ever go a day without feeling a kick or flutter, your nerves fray just a bit.
The pain of childbirth is easy compared to what you’ve been through. Seventeen, twenty, thirty six hours of labor are like a walk in the park compared to the months you’ve been through. Finally, after all the pushing and screaming and tears, this wrinkled, bald, ruddy baby is placed on your chest. It looks at you with the most beautiful face you’ve ever seen and lets out a cry that fills your heart with something new that wells up inside of you, bursting forth in loud gushes and sobs. You cry right along with your baby as your husband holds his new family close.
I wish I could tell you that the worry you first felt when you found out you were pregnant with your son ends or that the pain over your miscarriage disappears. It doesn’t. Whether you think about it or not, your miscarriage has left its mark on your child. No child is going to be more special, more loved, nor more fragile than the one that followed your miscarriage. He is the one you fought for, cried for, begged and pleaded and bargained with the Gods for. The ghost of his lost sister will always hang over him, growing fainter and fainter as he grows up but will never quite disappear.


                Since my divorce, I have cried many times. I have cried for Olympia, the only town I’ve ever felt at home in. I’ve cried for the loss of independence that came with moving in with my parents. The prospects of being a single mom, the friends I’ve left, and being “stuck” (for lack of a better term) in North Carolina have all brought tears streaming forth from my eyes. But I have never cried for my ex. For most people, this wouldn’t come as a surprise. I’ve not made a secret about how screwed up our relationship was in the end.
                I won’t lie. It’s easy to paint myself with all these bright colors, or worse, put on a victim’s mask and pretend that I was wronged over and over while trying to be an angel. I was no more an angel than Paul a saint.
Yeah, he always had some well-rehearsed excuse for not working full time or losing a job or not keeping up with the house. He carried on with at least two women that I suspect he had affairs with. And he said he wanted music over his son.
But I can be a fairly demanding bitch. I want an equal partnership. I’m not interested in carrying other people and I don’t really know better ways to tell someone this than to get all drill instructor on his ass when he falls out of line. And, while I never cheated, I certainly entertained the idea on two separate occasions (an eye for an eye, maybe). Sometimes, I wonder what my life would be like had I escaped with the one that asked me. I wonder now and I wondered many a night after that one left my life. No, I am not an angel.
I tried, though. I really, honestly, can say that I wanted our relationship to work. I wanted to be married to Paul until my dying day. Even when I knew I wouldn’t be- long before we announced our divorce- I never stopped wanting a different reality than the one we lived. Even as we watched our relationship nose dive into the oceans of divorce, I kept praying for some sort of miraculous recovery that never came. I loved the man and I wanted that back. I lost good friends defending him when they said things I already knew. I didn’t want the resentment which, I think, ultimately was the final push that ripped us apart. But reality is what it is and what we had is gone.
So, today; nine months after I left Washington; I asked a coworker for a friendly cup of coffee. “No pressure” I said with a smile. He agreed.
And that was that. I cried on the way home. I pulled over into a cemetery parking lot (how melodramatic) and balled my eyes out.  I cried because, even though I’ve intellectually known we have been over for about a year now, this felt like the final nail emotionally. I cried because I’m still hurt by the divorce. Because up until the divorce, I had a partner every day of my life since I was sixteen, one lined up right behind the other (I’ve met my next boyfriend while dating my current each time but never cheated), and I don’t have that safety net any longer. I cried because I’m lonely. I cried because I am acutely aware of the walls I’ve built around myself all my life and now I simultaneously want to break them down and hide further within them.
I cried the way a newborn does when air fills its lungs for the first time. 

Brick by Brick

                “When you say things like that, you are putting up a wall. Talking to you, sometimes, is like being lost in a maze. It is so frustrating!” He said to me in exasperation one night.
                “Then why do you keep doing it?” I snapped. My passions ran just as high as his; or maybe more considering he had eighteen years on me with which to practice controlling his emotions.
                “Because I love the girl that hides in the center!” His words stopped me dead. I couldn’t manage even so much as the derisive snort that was the mortar to my emotional bricks. I sat there, mouth agape. Never had I heard those words spoken with that amount of truth. “The girl in the center of all this anger and mockery and sarcasm is so soft, so sweet, so innocent and naïve. I want to pull her close to me and protect her from everything. I want to love her, to help her break down these walls. Don’t you see the walls that keep me out also trap you in? Break down those walls!”
                As we were both self-described writers, our words on those first ardent evenings tended towards the dramatic.

                “I love this person I only get to see, I wish you would let her out more,” someone else said to me twelve years later as I curled in his embrace and whispered cloying sweet nothings. And he said it again when I delighted in kittens, when I kicked and laughed at his tickling fingers, and when I wore my brilliantly scarlet heart on my sleeve.
                When I felt insecure or embarrassed, another wall dropped. Cold, heavy stones avalanched from the sky between him and me. Sometimes, it was easy to push the pebbles aside but as the stones continued to fall, they grew in size, and it became too tiresome to move or circumvent them. Now, there are mountain ranges, both figurative and literal, between us. And I still have my walls.
                These walls are so big and ever present that I can see them. If I make a quip about needing help, there’s one. When someone pays me a compliment and I counter it with a critique of my own work, there’s another one. How about when I edit the words coming out of my mouth to present a very specific image of myself? Most definitely. Or when I blurt out something  far too blunt? Oh, yeah. Even if I were to say “Ask me anything and I’ll answer honestly” it’s in hopes that the strength in that statement, that challenge, will be enough to hide any damaging truth that might be uncovered in the inquisition. It’s funny. So many of my walls damage me more than whoever has come knocking. It’s as if I’d rather the brick fall on my toe than risk the possibility someone else might find something exposed.  How many good people have I pushed aside in an effort to protect myself from the very few bad people in this world? And what can I do about it? I don’t know.
                I wish that there was a way to blast them all away. When I say, “This is me. You get what you see,” I wish people saw more than just some rough bitch. Why do I let so few people see all the other parts, the parts that make the sum greater than the whole?
                Of all the times to attempt to present a whole picture, isn’t this the time to do it? When I’ll be gone in a few months and anything bad that comes from all this will be a fading memory by Christmas? Isn’t the prospect of an easy escape just another wall?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Just When You Need It

                Life hasn’t been the best lately. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, especially when I think of my friends and neighbors who have lost their homes and, in some sad cases, their loved ones to the recent tornadoes. No, it’s just that recently my life simply has been a series of annoying missteps.
                I spent $250 this past weekend getting a sensor fixed in my car. Another $70 went to the locksmith when I locked myself out of said car. And then that $110 the Department of Child Support said would be in my account this past weekend? Not so much. In fact, it’s up to my Ex to be responsible should I see the money at any point in the near future (fat chance). So, that’s $420 I suddenly found myself shorted in the course of five days. When you’re only bringing home $1400 a month, that’s quite the chunk of change. Then, you add in the car insurance, the diapers and food and those little things that I’d not have bought had I known what was just around the corner and, well, I’ve got $20 to my name until the 13th. Blegh!
                Then, my cousin’s wife informed me that they would have to up the rent on the house I was hoping to rent from them in Kentucky. They had not factored in that their insurance would rise should they rent the house. Of course, I don’t fault them at all. They had offered to rent the place to me at cost which is more than generous so it only made sense that should their costs rise, so would the rent. Unfortunately, it rose out of my comfortable price range which means I’m now back to looking for an apartment. On the plus side, however, I might be able to find of closer to work and school which would cut down on gas.
                As if that weren’t enough, I found out that the school I wanted to put Elijah into has a crazy long waiting list that people camp out for days just to get on. I don’t know about you, but single moms do not have the resources to camp out for a week without some serious juggling. So, scratch that from the list.
                Then, there have been all the phone calls from the Ex. He’s called, I don’t know, five times in the past week, mostly about this blasted child support thing. But every phone call is the same. He yammers on about how this person is stupid or that person is screwing him over or to tell me that he just has so much stuff with his new girlfriend that they can’t possibly fit it all into their apartment. Well, since the sofa, entertainment system, chest of drawers, and bookcases were mine or Elijah’s and I had to leave them there, don’t you think you could keep that sort of thing to yourself? Or, how about the phone call where he called to tell me that the calendar and pictures of Elijah had arrived where he didn’t thank me or, more importantly, didn’t comment about his son at all? Nope, he called to tell me that if I need to send him anything in the future to not forget the apartment number because it’s a hassle for the postman. Seriously????? Today, phone call number five, he finally asked about his son….. at the very end of another long, rambling message. It was literally “Oh, I hope E is doing good.”  And you know what? His call interrupted a nice little conversation I was starting with a rather cute coworker. Bitch.

                So, I raced home today, hoping to get back in time to put Elijah to bed myself. He usually gets to bed between 8 and 8:30. I walked in the door at 8:45.
Then, there’s trying to figure out school (mostly, how am I going to best pull off full time mom, full time student, full time employee for nine months?), the move in general, and all those other little things hardly worth mentioning.  Everything is just another little thing to make my eye twitch; that makes my shoulder seem constantly stiff.
                But today I saw a box with my name on it when I came home. I was surprised and pleased that this package was my only bit of mail (no bills today). I opened it up, wondering who would send me such a thing. Inside the box was a package of six huge, beautiful, delicious chocolate covered strawberries. More importantly, though, was the little note attached from my friend Katie wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day. Needless to say, I cried like a little baby when I squeaked out a bit of gratitude over the phone. It is so good to have such thoughtful friends. Her gift was beyond perfect and wonderfully timed. Thank you, Katie!! Love ya!

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Got A Car

I have a computer now (have had it for some time, in fact) but we don't have WiFi at home so I usually end up writing blogs in my bedroom and forgetting about them for some time before posting. This one is from March 28, 2011.)

I got a car! I got a car! I got a car! I got a car and named him Johann! He is a navy blue 2002 VW Jetta. When I started looking for a car, my folks insisted that I go to their mechanic Ali who often buys cars, fixes them up, and then sells them. They’ve been doing business with Ali for about eight years and he’s helped them through about three vehicles now in addition to looking after my brother Drew’s Jeep. So, naturally, he’s got a good relationship with my folks.
We went up last week and he had one car in his lot ready to sell. It was a ’97 Mitsubishi somethinernuther. It was in my price range and I was assured that it would get me to and from work. It was okay but nothing that great. I sat in the driver seat, kicked a tire, and looked under the hood but that spark was definitely not there.
Ali’s assistant said that he had a couple other cars that they were working on but neither would be ready for a few days. One was a Suzuki whose price he wasn’t sure of and the other was a VW they’d just gotten but he was almost certain it was out of my price range. With Dad’s blessing, I asked to look at the VW anyway since I’ve always liked them. Hell, it doesn’t hurt to look, right?
They brought around this little blue Jetta with a busted rearview mirror, a glove compartment that didn’t close, dirty upholstery and about a pound of tree pollen covering its body. I fell in love immediately. I sank into its driver seat, held the wheel, and let out a long, contented sigh. And then they said it was about $1500 more than what I had set aside for my car budget. Well, damn. I hemmed and hawed. I shuffled my feet. I talked with my bank, scrounged up about $550 more, and still pouted some more because, well, damn it, I wanted that car. My Dad and I discussed the options over the next few days. I could settle for another car or I could get the car off the lot and let it sit in the driveway until I could afford the insurance premium and tabs.  I opted to get the car and let it sit.
Dad called me to the table after Elijah went to bed and asked about this plan. See, he’s going to Gulfport with my Mom at the end of April and he wanted me to have my own wheels by then and the Jetta was a much better car than anything in my range. So, he offered to loan me the rest of the money to get the car. I have not slept well since then because I’ve been so excited.
We drove Johann off the lot this afternoon. Our first stop was to the car wash. Then, we cruised around, ran some errands, and bought some stuff to clean Johann up a bit. Now, my pretty blue boy is sitting in the driveway and I’m awake because I really want to go driving.

Foodie Rant

I have a computer now (have had it for some time, in fact) but we don't have WiFi at home so I usually end up writing blogs in my bedroom and forgetting about them for some time before posting. This one is from April 7, 2011.)

Foodie Rant

                I know it would seem odd to some of you that I, of all people, would rant against foodies. So, maybe this rant should include a bit of an apology and an explanation. As you may or may not know, I am a bit of a foodie. I’ve made my own ice cream, candies, sausages, cheese, sourdough, and pasta just to name a few of the adventures I’ve had in the kitchen. I beat the fresh/local/slow food drum just as loudly as anyone. Hell, I work in the kitchen at Whole Foods specifically because I love food and I love the Whole Food philosophies concerning fair trade and responsible stewardship of the land. My love of those ideas is so strong that I’ll gladly spend my money on food grown down the road before buying it from a chain like Whole Foods whenever I can.
                Lately, though, I’ve come across a different breed of foodie. I’ve come across the hoity-toity foodie- the one with the fancy degree, impressive resume, and massive frickin’ ego. And it kills me. Great, you went to some illustrious college and spent $35,000 a year learning mise en place and the proper way to serve bone marrow and beef cheeks. Woohoo! You worked a million hours a week at some restaurant serving stuffed shirts a deconstructed pot pie with celery foam and puff pastry discs. Good on you. But we’re here now. Whether your fall was self-imposed or not, you’re working right alongside me and everyone else in the kitchen. Regardless of if we were at the top of our class at the Culinary Institute of America, got our training by asking the higher ups a million questions and staying up well past our bedtimes reading cookbooks and practicing recipes, or are just here because it’s the place to be at the time, we’re all here together and most of us really want to do a good job. So, stop with the stories of your former glory and bragging about the crap you’re going to do when you get home because it doesn’t fly with me.
                Food isn’t an elitist idea- or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s a common bond that both binds us together and defines who we are as a collective culture and an individual. The meal I’m serving my son has the same purpose as the meal your kitchen has created for your client- to nourish the body and the soul. While I consider myself a decent cook, I know I’m rough around the edges. On-the-job training tends to be a bit more specialized than a degree. While what I’ve produced may be elementary in your eyes, I promise you it’s brought me and my diners immense happiness and that’s all I really care about.
                So, if I’ve ever gotten too big for my britches about anything I’ve done in the kitchen, I apologize. Damn, that’s really annoying and I’m sorry to have put you through it. Ciao! 

Death to Osama

                Late last night, we were told that Osama Bin Laden was dead. After a decade of fighting, trillions of dollars, thousands of dead American soldiers, an uncountable number of Afghani deaths, and the destruction of who knows how many families torn asunder both here and abroad, our Public Enemy Number One is dead. The Facebook status-sphere lit up like so many Christmas lights to rejoice in his death. Suddenly, patriotism broke out in epidemic across the land. Why does it always show up in destruction?
                Am I glad that Bin Laden is dead? Is “eh” an appropriate response? You might as well have told me that the Tooth Fairy took down Santa Claus in an epic gunfight at the OK corral. Bin Laden has been the boogey man in our closet, the monster under our bed, for so long he took on a mythic figure for me. He is the ultimate excuse for so many wrongs, so many injustices our government has done. They use his name the way some use God’s. Hunting for him has hurt our standing as a country, killed our men and women, and destroyed basic human liberties we should never take for granted again. And I can’t help but to wonder how many more terrorists did we create while hunting this one?
                So, go on. Celebrate if you want. Break out that dusty American flag that’s not been flown since 9/11. Chant “USA” or “Yes We Did” or some other appropriate catch phrase. Wax lyrical about the greatness of our armed forces. Then, ask yourself if all it took to slaughter this one man was worth it. Ask yourself when our troops will be coming home now. Ask yourself if you think his death has stopped anything. Does killing Patient Zero stop the plague?