Monday, January 15, 2018

Baby Boys

Today I thought of the blog I briefly used for writing about my boys.
I read it all, and loved the memories that fluttered about as I did.
I wish I'd done more journaling during those years, 
more stories of our life, for me.

They are my sunshines, my son-shines...
They teased me tonight about desperately grasping for time with them before they evaporate in a cloud of adulthood...
I'm guessing that like all other mothers throughout the history of the planet,
I will eventually recover from this upheaval.
But I would rather travel backwards and savor them just a little more before that day.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Wish I Knew You

This song is currently haunting me.
I'm not even sure who it makes me think of,
but it reaches into me and stirs something.
Somehow makes me wish I had one more memory to savor,
one more friendship with slivers of
shivers of
something else.
This song makes me look back on that missing moment in my life -
the shadow of a decision I made once, way back when,
rippling out in its own little butterfly effect,
shaping my life around this absence,
letting me move forward with most of the same experiences,
but with this one chapter deleted.
The waters of life flowed around the vacuum,
but I feel it now.
"I wish I knew you when I was young,
we coulda got so high..."
I am sure there are chances I didn't take,
roads-less-traveled that I left untraveled,
and maybe you were one of them.







Saturday, January 6, 2018

Armenian Lover

I really dig that phrase -
Armenian lover.
It says so much, doesn't it?
You can almost see his swarthy sexiness, can't you?
I have the advantage, of course,
since I'm drawing on memory not imagination.
He was born in Armenia to an Armenian mother,
but his father was Greek.
He was a demi-god rising from the rubble of the collapsed Soviet Union.
He had eyes as dark as my soul,
a smile as bright as my heart...
Ok, I'm romanticizing something that doesn't need any gilt.
Although, it could've used a bit more guilt...but I digress.
This boy was a passage for me,
the door out of a life I called my white picket fence prison.
He was sexy and strong,
troubled and innocent,
but the best thing about him was that I couldn't fall in love with him.
He was almost not real,
but definitely not a real option for my future -
just someone who wanted to fuck me,
and that is always very attractive...
I would sneak into his apartment and
fuck him then sneak out while he slept.
Later,
the grapevine would whisper to me
of the pure wonder and delight on his face as he would say,
"Straight fuck me and leave, she did!"
He thought I was such a badass.
They all did - his Armenian best friend, and my Arizonian best friend who was dating him;
the (holy fucking hot) Russians, and that sassy gay Venezuelan that always hung around them.
I don't know why they believed the hard edge of me that I showed them,
because it was only a sliver of who I really was,
but it thrilled me to be seen that way.
I've written about him a lot,
or I did back then.
It was a strange time in my life -
such a rending of bonds,
and a grueling ascent out of hell
(one I'd built for myself),
all swirled with the crippling grief I experienced at the death of a brother,
and the exhilaration I experienced from returning to college,
and writing for the newspaper.
I'm not sure what made me think of him today,
but cheers to my Armenian lover, wherever he may be.
I hope he is happy and well.

Sweet (Sour) Caroline

Neil Diamond is a complex subject for me.
I didn't grow up with his music,
and by the time it was popular in a retro way,
his legacy had been tainted for me.
Gary.
I still cringe/shudder/gag at the name,
the images it conjures.
He never did anything to me,
let me just say that right up front.
And maybe I'm a flaming asshole
for even describing him with the precision that I will.
But.
He remains the most repulsive person I've ever encountered.
And he lived in my parents' basement for a while.
He was a member of their church,
and he needed a place to stay -
TEMPORARILY
(which turned into several YEARS).
When I was a teenager, and still a member of that church,
he was a fixture of horror for all the children and teenagers -
we made a play on his last name,
turning it from Bartrug to Bugrug,
and just generally being nasty mean children behind his back.
I'm not proud of this,
but to be fair,
he was repellant.
His skin was waxy and pock-marked,
his hair was slicked back with a layer of what appeared to be lard
(and what I later discovered was actually from the fact that he didn't bathe, period).
Not only was he physcially off-putting,
but his personality lacked any of the charms that might have tipped the balance.
He loomed high above us, with a large round belly,
making odd comments and repeating things he overheard us saying, like he was one of us -
a 50-something man, trying to fit in with teenage girls?? Um, no.
Fast forward to my first year away from home.
I called home from college,
in the (least) wild (part of the) west,
and my mother dropped this rancid,
curdled news on me like a gallon of sour milk from a balcony:
Gary would be staying in the bedroom in our dank, dark basement for a little while,
while he got his feet under him.
I was mortified, horrified, and quite unable to accept it.
I got home for the summer and pretended he wasn't there.
He worked nights and slept all day,
so I rarely encountered him.
After demanding answers from my mother about why he was there,
and how long he would be,
and how could she STAND IT???,
she finally admitted that it wasn't great.
She admitted that he made her uncomfortable, too,
and that even my dad wasn't a fan.
She said that she had give him a set of towels
and they had never been touched.
That the shower never ran.
The smell that emanated from the basement was a low, steady wave of human grease.
And the sound?
The sound I could only associate with his awful face for so long afterward?
Neil Diamond's greatest hits.
(shudder)
On his day off, he would crank that album so that it shook our living room floor.
I felt trapped, assaulted.
This sound was the most solid reminder that this unpleasant person
was sharing my most intimate space, my home.
For years, any Neil Diamond music would make my skin crawl.
I couldn't listen to it at all.
I wanted to love it, in all its campy, nostalgic glory like many of my peers did.
I wanted to get sappy and sway back and forth when "Sweet Caroline" filled a stadium or an ice rink,
but instead I had to close my eyes and try to choke back the bile.

Finally, enough time has passed that I can smile past the faded memories of my overly dramatic response to some poor (icky) man in need of a helping hand.
Cheers, Neil Diamond.
Welcome to acceptability.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Rainbow Soul

I grew up wrapped in layers of “shoulds” and “mustn’ts,” 
and consequently, 
I have spent many years disentangling myself from their gauzy grasp, 
trying to stand free and strong. 
This journey necessarily started by leaping out 
             and away from the path 
that had been set before me by my loving, kind, patient mother. 
She designed a happy web of rules to keep me safe, 
and to lead me onward, 
marching dutifully toward the eternal salvation she so comfortably believes in. 
I once believed, too, 
but there was no room for me in that structured world of black and white. 
I am all the shades in the spectrum 
from pure white, 
on through all of the rich red-orange-yellow-green-blue-purples 
to the deepest shade of absence of light. 
I have a bit of everything in me, 
and I have spent too many years feeling broken 
because of those nuances of brilliance and opacity. 
And now I know that if the god my mother so firmly acknowledges 
is a real being in any sense, 
that he/she/it could not possibly want me to be unhappy 
through my inability to reach the mostly arbitrary standards 
set by some old white dudes in Salt Lake. 
But before there was relief and acceptance and joy, 
there were the years of uncovering those varied shades on my soul, 
like all the strokes of Monet’s brush, 
layered over each other in one girl-shaped palette. 


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Home/Away

Words have such different meanings sometimes.
Like brother, or cousin.
My oldest brother feels more like a cousin,
and my two closest cousins feel more like sisters.
My family is a big mix of half-siblings and step-siblings and double cousins;
we are close, but not weirdly - this is New England, so emotions aren't really allowed;
we have superfluous drama,
and actual trauma.
We are a family like any other,
but sometimes I feel like the only things that make sense in this world are the things that I knew as a child, or the way that I perceived the world and my connections to it, as a child.

Those cousins who lived next door, and spent so much time with my sister and I, they felt like an obvious extension of our family;
the (half) brothers who lived with us felt like brothers,
but they were gone every summer,
and graduated and moved away by the time I was 6;
the (half) brothers who didn’t live with us felt so much like cousins that I sometimes couldn’t remember, of all my male cousins which two were actually my father’s oldest children.
Their names both started with the same letter as my father’s, which may have been the first pneumonic device I ever used, long before I knew the term.

And so, on this Christmas Day, I spent some time adding to the slow building of a relationship with the oldest (half) brother, whom I never lived with as a child.
He lives on the same quiet, winding street as my in-laws, a street that leads a short distance away from the great, teeming sea in which my brother and our father and our cousins and uncles and grandfather all made their living from the helm of a lobster boat.
We share bowls of seafood chowder, and tell stories - similar but distinct memories of our father and the other members of our family that we took turns knowing.
As the goodbye hugs are being liberally shared, I say to his sweet wife, “I was thinking I might like to borrow my Dad for a while…”
“Of course,” she said. “Robbie won’t mind.” She led me upstairs, smiling as she acknowledged that it probably seemed like a strange place to keep him, but didn’t hesitate to lead me into the happy and real space of their lives, clean but laundry-strewn, and pointing to the dresser where his urn sat.
She asked if I wanted some time alone with my Dad,
which caught me off guard;
that would have been far too much for my carefully constructed walls to withstand
So I just shook my head and blurted out, “No, I’m not ready for that,” with a half-laugh.
I touched the smooth metal and smiled a little:
I hadn’t remembered it as being so big;
I loved the simplicity of the details on the vessel.
“Why don’t you run it by him after I leave? I don’t want him to feel pressured,” I said.
“Sure,” she nodded.
I couldn’t really look at her. I wanted to leave.
It felt like I was being selfish by wanting to have him, when I was his final child,
not the son he’d given his own name to.

I left, and she texted a little while later to let me know that I could stop in any time,
the house would be open.
I’ll pick up the urn tomorrow,
And tuck it into the pile of luggage and Christmas gifts in various stages of dishabille that fill the cargo space of my car, and take him with me to a home he never knew. 
Maybe this one would have been more hospitable.



Related image
Owls Head Light, Owls Head, Maine.
This lighthouse stands guard over the waters my family fishes,
and has fished for...really, about a hundred years. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2006 -The Old Blog

(A post from the OG Blog)


I have this great song in my head.
It's the hidden track from a matchbox 20 album.
I love it.
And it's making me think of stories to spin.
I can picture a boy, a boy who thinks he doesn't need anybody
and doesn't want anybody to need him.
A boy who claims he doesn't believe in love.
He is handsome, and so smart.
This boy, if he were real, would have a smile to light up a night sky--
a sky without city lights to drown the brilliance of the stars.
And deep, dark eyes.
It seems like this kind of boy wouldn't know what he wanted from life--
he would know better what he didn't want.
I do wonder, though, if a boy like this would ever be able to let go.
Would he be able to stop running long enough to see some of the universal truths of life--the happy kind?
Ok, so now I'm getting a crush on my imaginary friend...
I'm picturing a very sexy boy, with just the right amount of chest hair,
and a long lean body.

Maybe it's the autumn, maybe it's the moon--
but everything feels foreign lately.
The wind whispers with a thick accent,
the sky is upside down,
and my entire center of gravity is off.
I want way more than my share out of life,
and it's a heavy load to carry.
It settles over me like a lead blanket...
as I wait for an x-ray of my head to be taken;
but don't look at the results...you'll be haunted and feel hunted.
yes, I'm a hunter.
I feel like a great jungle cat, or a sharp-eyed wolf--
but I don't know what I'm hunting.
My prey is elusive and amorphous.
I want to fling my fingers from their tight grasp on this life
and
let the tornado sweep me away to my own Oz.
Instead of munchkins I would have pool boys.
Instead of the tin man, the man of steel.
Instead of the scarecrow, a stoner.
Instead of the lion, a rockstar.
The witch would be a skanky blonde.
heh.
I would vanquish her with a bucket of water--
girls like that can't live without their props: makeup, hair gunk, etc.
And the great and powerful Oz?
That would just be me, wearing those glasses with the fake nose and moustache.
And I would laugh at how hard the other me had tried to get there, to only find I had the power to
go
home
all along.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Cover up, it's cold out...

I stumbled onto some covers on YouTube,
and I can't stop clicking on the next one, and the next one.
Prince does Radiohead's "Creep" at Coachella,
Eddie Vedder & Beyonce, "Redemption Song," WHAT,
Dave Grohl and Nora Jones sing "Baby, I'm Amazed" to honor Paul McCartney at the Kennedy Center,
Dave Grohl sings "Tiny Dancer"...

I think I've been holding my breath for a long time,
trying not to actually feel things.
Because I feel too much and and if you don't know what that means, I'll tell you -
I see Dave Grohl sitting on a stool with his guitar,
and he talks about not knowing Tiny Dancer until he saw the movie Almost Famous,
and a pit of sadness opens just behind my sternum,
maybe it's not very deep, this particular pit,
but it swirls a little,
because I'm picturing how I felt about Almost Famous,
how I loved it and wanted to live inside it,
and maybe felt like I'd almost had it in my grasp--
but mostly, thinking of the movie connected me like a telegraph line to the person I'd been then...
It was startling to feel that set of emotions,
to have my perspective tilted to the orientation it once had.
So that's what made me blink a little
and wonder if I've been holding myself away from the well of deep feelings I once swam in.
Because it is very different now.
Finding my soul mate flipped all the switches,
and settled me into joyful contentment.
I've grown lazy and the only thing I feel with any sense of depth is fear--
fear of loss, fear of going back to the life where I was looking for this,
for exactly this.
The life where (most of the time) I had faith that this future existed for me,
that this love was somewhere waiting for me;
but not always.
Sometimes I was certain that everyone else was as upside down and inside out as I was,
other times I was certain that no one else ever had been or could be.
I needed to believe it was possible that I would find the man who would love me the way that all the story books and love songs insinuated, illustrated, hinted at, promised.
I never considered that I was a fool for taking art literally...
I didn't stop looking.
I looked everywhere for this love, this life.
I looked in bars, in beds, in boys, in men.
I looked across deserts, and the giant red rocks sprawled across them;
I climbed mountains, combing through underbrush and dipping into springs - seeking;
I sailed through oceans, and drove back and forth across the expanse of this country;
I reached out into the web of the wide world, hunting for love on other continents--
these forays filled me with bursts of glittering hope
(Chaz, you British biker poet, stole my heart and stood me up in Paris, you fucker)
and quiet devotion (you know who you are, ya kiwi ninja, the best matrix-bound friend and lover a girl could ask for);
without these moments, I maybe would have given up my search,
and lived the rest of my life unloved;
stuck in the wrong marriage, always searching for more.

Instead, here I am.




Monday, December 4, 2017

Winter Wondering

It was a faded world this morning,
the fields blanketed with frost,
the air thick with fog.

I didn't know how many years I'd gone without seeing fog
until I finally saw it again,
and my whole being sighed with relief.
I didn't know how many bodies of water I encountered daily at home,
until I got to the desert,
and mistook the shimmer of a wet parking lot for a pond.

Days like this make me wish I was still a housewife;
I would charge out into the day for a brisk walk,
daydreaming along with my music...
then home to write or clean or bake.
But I needed a change, I needed to be part of the world again;
I needed people and tasks.
It is good.

I'm rambling,
but I feel like it has been too many days since I've put my fingers on a keyboard.

I am homesick,
but truly, for a home that doesn't exist anymore.
I love my sweet home town -
it has turned into the idyllic place that it once only was in my mind,
from my perch in those desert mountains of the west.
It is thriving and art-filled, and I don't quite belong there anymore,
and yet...I always will.
I miss the dark blue of the angry ocean, its white caps showing its mood;
I miss the smell of salt water and decaying seaweeed;
I miss the words people use, and the way their words sound;
I miss the rocks on the beaches, rolling and tumbling in a symphony of smoothing.
I miss returning to my parents' small house on the winding road in the wooded edge of the peninsula;
I miss feeling anchored there; everything right and safe and good.
Well, I just need to wrench my heart free of Westbrook St., and allow new roots to form.
So grateful for the family that is still there,
and the friends-like-family that welcome me with the open arms of Homecoming.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Floating

I float along
on the current of sound
that fills me with images and emotions
the way only great music can.
I drift through the day,
buffered from the impact of feet on floors
and slams of doors,
insulated from voices laughing,
complaining, demanding.
The words and notes
swirl around me in the air and
filter out everyone else.
This is how I numb the need,
the shaking jones of an addict,
craving and seeking
the next fix -
I am haunted by this habit
that seeps through a crack in my foundation,
where it has been buried.
It surges to life and controls me like a puppeteer;
I am at war with myself,
wanting what I don't want,
needing what I can't have.
And then I remember...
I already have it all.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

History of a Heart

Once there was a girl
and she was sweet and quiet and happily religious.
She dreamed of falling in love every day until
she heard the new boy in school had asked about her,
and they went walking on the north shore of the harbor after school
that one day,
with his hunky friend and her friend.
And then she stopped dreaming of anything but him,
the cute boy that no one really knew yet,
and she kept him all to herself,
and she kept him safe until he joined the stupid Marine Corps,
and then they slowly fell apart,
but she loved him so much that their division wasn't something she acknowledged;
she wrote to him and called him
and met him on leave in Harrisburg and Virginia Beach
and said yes when he offered her that beautiful diamond ring
on the cold and windy beach,
and she should have offered him her self, finally, after all their time together...
she would regret that one for many, many years.
She went home, and showed her friends the ring,
and was giddy for weeks,
and then he couldn't make it to her prom, at the last minute,
and she was devastated,
but her friend saved the day and got the last tux in town and filled the evening with laughter and joy.
On her birthday, a few weeks later, she opened the door and almost couldn't smile,
she was so overwhelmed with joy and surprise:
he was there!
She cried with relief and happiness and held him so tightly; he cried, too.
They didn't leave each other's side for the whole weekend;
they walked on their favorite beach.
She didn't know it would be the last time she would kiss him,
or rest her face in the crook of his neck;
she didn't know it would be the last time she would see him smile at her
while telling her how much he loved her.
She didn't know that someone would tell him
that she was cheating on him (she wasn't);
she didn't know that while she was starting her freshman year
at Brigham Young University,
and he was beginning his duties with Presidential Support in D.C.,

that he was drinking himself into oblivion,
almost ruining his career,
in order to drown out the lies he'd heard about her.
She didn't know that when he didn't come home for Christmas
he was letting go of her...
and maybe she was too wrapped up in her new life in Utah
to notice it as keenly as she should have.
They played phone tag a lot after Christmas,
and then it was February,
and she called him that one time, at the barracks,
and asked for him by rank and last name, as always,
and when they asked if she was his fiancé she said yes,
and then
then
the man's thick southern accent unscrambled itself in her ear,
and her brain registered the phrase he'd really said,
"He's with his fiancé," unbelievably,
wrongly,
broken world, broken heart set in motion with that phone call,
as she was given a glimpse of his world, 
so far away, 
phone tag that had finally yielded the game-ending, career-ending injury.
She cried for hours, then days.
She called again and was told he'd moved.
She asked her roommate to call the new number they gave her...
too afraid of what she would find.
A woman answered; it was not a new barracks.
A woman answered; he was away for the next week, could she take a message?
A woman answered. A woman answered. "This is his wife."
She waited until he was back before she called a second time.
He answered, and she had prepared a cool, distant speech, 
quietly asking if he'd planned on telling her he'd married someone else, 
and then wishing him well,
even though her sad kindness was greeted with bitter cold.
Her heart was shredded into tiny slivers of light gone out.
She didn't know how to breathe anymore,
because her whole world had twisted into a grotesque impression of itself.
She told the story over and over, until the raw ends of her nerves dulled 
and it only felt like having a truck drive over her chest.
She cried herself to sleep every night for months.
She dreamed of him in vivid detail,
those dreams where you wake up crying,
panting from having been wrenched form the alternate reality
your brain created to soothe you...
she dreamed he had joined the CIA and needed to cut ties with his old life, 
dreamed that was why he'd taken a chainsaw to her heart,
why he'd severed their bond with the slash of a machete.
She called again, once.
She wanted him to know that he hadn't broken her, 
that she was fine without him.
(Instead, she later found out that he'd told his wife she was some crazy girl he'd gone on a few dates with in high school. Passive-aggressive pussy.)
She went home that summer, 
and worked at her same job she'd had in high school, 
waiting tables at the western-themed restaurant, 
overlooking the achingly beautiful harbor, 
the restaurant where he'd come to ask her on their first date, 
where he'd sent her roses after their second date, 
where he'd waited for her to finish work so they could go walking down Main St.
and have her first kiss on the street between the Thorndike and that jewelry store that isn't there anymore...
She went to work, and cried when she told Lisa P, and Jan, and Shirly, and Beth...
they hugged her and told her it would take twice as long as they'd been together to get over this kind of thing...
four years sounded like an eternity.
She let Greg and Glen make fun of him, 
because it made her smile a little through her still-puffy eyes.
She developed a crush on Glen because he wasn't out of the closet yet;
she was disappointed when he introduced her to his friend,
but the friend was almost the perfect salve for her still-crushed heart.
He wasn't her type; she didn't like him that much; but he would fall in love with her, and that was necessary for her healing...
She felt so selfish after she broke his heart
because it's only a matter of time 
before you break the heart of a person 
who thinks you love them.
She did throw her virginity at him in a lousy attempt to get back at her sweet boy for marrying someone else; it didn't work, obviously.
It did open the door for her to escape mormonism, though, so it wasn't a total loss.
And then...there were the Utah boys - 
long-haired stoner boys to rescue her from the homogenous dating landscape of BYU, 
where she had never quite belonged.
She hopped from one to the next, 
hoping that under one of their beds would be the magic potion, 
allowing her heart to heal, instead of limping along, still dripping blood.
She grew tired of the games, and took a break from it all, 
then met the man she would marry.
She knew as soon as they met that they would marry; 
at a certain point, she didn't really want to marry him, 
but she felt like it was what was supposed to happen, so she did.
He was broken, and she thought she could fix him, classic story.
His childhood had been so hard, 
so she excused him for his roughness, 
for his coldness, 
for his insane jealousy.
She closed her eyes and turned her head away while he spent hours fucking her.
She dreamed of far away places and sweet Marine faces 
while the pain spread where pleasure should be.
She was sure she was to blame for whatever was wrong;
she kept heaping more love on him, but it slid off like sand, and piled up at his feet.
She crafted the image of a perfect life,
pushed the boulder of housewifery uphill all day every day, 
to make his home happy,
but somehow it was never enough.
She dreamed of her home in Maine,
hating the oppressive social fabric of Utah,
feeling trapped there, trapped with him.
She grew weary of not being loved, 
and of constant accusations of infidelity.
She found herself again, when the babies were 2, 
and she started working out and writing;
she felt strong and beautiful and necessary.
She flirted with the idea of never trying to satisfy him again,
and the idea of falling in love again;
she continued to crave Maine with the fervor of an addict.
They tried to fall in love with each other again (for the first time),
and for a few months it seemed like it had worked,
but then everything went back to the same old,
and she knew it was all her fault,
that she was to blame for her own misery;
she would never be satisfied with this
(later, she would wonder why it seemed so bad, so impossible, but it was.)
She would be relieved when he finally asked for a divorce;
unaccountably, and briefly, she would be jealous of the woman
who came over the night she moved out,
the woman who replaced her in his life as seamlessly as a fulfilled warranty.
She would delight in settling into her pretty little house with her sons
and the cat they got to have since Dad was allergic,
but they didn't live with Dad anymore...
this broke her heart too much to really love the cat.
She thought about getting wings tattooed on her back,
because all she'd wanted for years was to fly away from that man,
but now she didn't need wings; she was free.
She was happy.
And then she found her soul mate, the sweetest man on earth,
who loved everything about her and was everything she'd dreamed of;
every cliché, every love song.
Her heart was finally whole again, and she gave her entire soul to him;
this would prove too painful,
so she had to pull back a little, and keep some of herself for herself,
but it didn't diminish her love for him,
or her sense of security and blissful joy.
Blending their families was harder than she'd expected;
leaving her cherished hometown nearly broke her;
living on the plains of Iowa was as barren as it sounds.
She would follow him around the country,
like a devoted puppy,
never quite daring to put down roots,
and not even daring to hold onto her dream of returning to Maine.
She tumbled along, letting her world revolve around him,
because her heart was beating in his chest.
She was happy; he was her home.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Circle Jerks

Too many--
I would say thoughts,
but maybe it's more like emotions?
Maybe it's both;
Too many, too much--
I can't really discern through the fog of anger.

I want Louis C.K. to be treated fairly,
and I am fairly
certain
he is not.
I think women who thought he was gross
accepted his apology years ago
(years after the incident, incidentally)
and then shouted about how wrong it was
that he did the thing
he said was going to do--
the thing that they stayed and watched, while laughing,
after going back to his room for drinks.
I get that there is a level of Pressure there
that I probably don't get.
But how is making someone uncomfortable
at all the same as
a hand on a specific set of body parts 
(pushing, pulling, needing, kneading)?

I know that I would feel different if the man in question were repulsive to me,
but I would say that he wasn't repulsive to them intrinsically - 
they wanted something from him, too,
in that subtle way that life is a negotiation:
we get what we want from each other in many ways,
small and large,
pointed and subtle;
saying "please" and "thank you" gets us less spit in our hamburger,
for example,
while hugging a sad friend builds the trust and care between two people and benefits the hugger at some point--
some spectrum of this exchange is a part of so many aspects of life,
from the subconcious to the blatant.
They wanted what he had to offer (career boost) and they thought going back to his room and having a drink would lead to getting what they wanted;
instead he asked them if he could do something that is generally categorized as weird,
and they laughed because they didn't think he was serious,
and he began to undresss and do the thing he'd said he was going to do.
I can understand being surprised by this, and feeling yucky about it,
but after he called years later to apologize, why still throw it back at him?
It seems 
petty and spiteful.
It seems 
like an attention grab.
And I can't seem 
to let it go.
Because unfairness is so abhorrent to my prickly little sensors,
and because of something else, 
something I can't put my finger on, 
and so I go around and around with it,
parrying and retreating.

We have decided 
that people can decide 
so much about their own sexuality,
and that is beautiful, and wonderful, and we aren't even all the way there yet, I know,
but what about letting people have a little room for testing boundaries? 
It is unsettling to settle for 
wondering 
where those boundaries are 
as I navigate the waters myself
and attempt to usher so many sons through them, too.

Maybe I'm ruffled by the question 
"What if the roles were reversed?"
What if Lisa Lampanelli had masturbated in front of two handsome young men?
Would they be complaining?  
Maybe.
Or maybe not...
Maybe I feel like saying, 
"Why don't you talk to your therapist about how this made you uncomfortable, 
rather than ruining a guy's career because you couldn't deal??"
I just don't know.
I know that what he did is far away from 
what Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey did 
on the spectrum of misbehavior.
I know that he didn't assault anyone,
and that he thought that asking meant it was ok - 
the fact that he now realizes that was incorrect is not surprising to me; 
he is so insightful to the human condition, 
and it feels like the kind of thing he would have figured out as he matured, 
and figuring it out, he would have felt guilt,
which is what happened.

I go 'round and 'round.
I can't seem to solve this riddle.
The riddle of how to feel about this.
How to live in a world where a man like Louis 
can be villainized because some women he apologized to years ago 
decided to pile on to the "Hollywood is full of pigs" bandwagon....
fuck....around I go, again.
I worry that I can't feel settled about this because I'm wrong.
What if I'm wrong?
(or at least I suspect that all my fiercest, 
dearest friends would think so, if they knew
--knew that I don't condemn this man, that I adore him still)
What if I need to dig deeper and find unforgiveness for the man?
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
I'm not wrong.
Because Louis isn't wrong.
Maybe I'm just grieving.
(denial, bargaining)
Maybe I'm just going to have to keep readingandthinkingandtalking 
about this until it stops feeling so bad.
Fuck.

Restraint

Self-restraint and I,
we aren't exactly allies...
We tend to pace angrily
in opposite corners of a vast ballroom,
each aware of the other
and a possible symbiosis that should exist between us--
who the parasite,
who the host?
If I advance,
self-restraint retreats;
if that holy asshole approaches 
I writhe in agony,
like a demon splashed with blessed water.
Sometimes,
I dance so close to my nemesis
that our cheeks almost touch,
our steps so synchronized
that we are almost one body.
But
there are times
            when I feel ripples of self-restraint roll across my skin,
like when I manage to keep myself from
going to you,
dozens of small times a day;
as I manage to not
reach out
to touch your face 
while we chat about the weather 
or the athletic achievements of millionaires.
My arch-enemy crawls across my landscape
slicing into me with the assertion of his-way-not-mine,
not my greedy, devouring, lust-filled way,
I lose, I lose, I lose
                               to my foe,
as I refrain
from dragging you from your pedestal
from holding your face in my hands
from pulling you with me into a vortex of skin and panting...
My adversary defeats me
and I smile,
sigh with relief
and gratitude
for his unwelcome presence.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Immovable

Sometimes it makes me sad that my mother is so
immovable.
She doesn't have room in her right/wrong columns
to add anything new to her "right" side.
She can't
won't?
doesn't
conceive that there could be a reason for me to include lots of gorgeous,
richly textured FUCK words into my life, my world, my writing.
I can't imagine sharing with her the chapters I'm working on right now for my book about boys.
(especially the Frank one, where there is already lots of "fuck"ing,
soon to be lots of fucking;
or the Gary one, its ugliness almost invisible beneath the sunshine she herself created)
I can't imagine her ever being able to allow for the belief
that tattoos are holy,
that listening to fingers on ivory,
while a Russian girl sings her jagged, sparkling poetry
could be a spiritual experience.
I can't imagine my dear, sweet mother
ever sliding anything from her "wrong/naughty/bad" column
even a little closer to the line of her "acceptable/right/proper" column.
And I can't imagine
not imagining
all the wicked things
and delicious things
and beautiful, raw, wild things!
I'm grateful, though, that she doesn't push me into her columns -
which one would I fit in?
Certainly not the "acceptable/proper/right" one,
but what does that leave?
Because I don't exist in a world of black and white,
I exist in all the vivid shades of grey,
that aren't visible to my colorblind mother.

Listening to Regina Spektor last night,
my thoughts were drifting and charged -
this collection of stories,
she whispered to me that it's a kaleidescope of boys...
all the ways I've loved them
since I first started dreaming of them
as a very small child.
Has there ever been a more boy-crazy girl?
No, probably not.
I'm working through some of the hard stories right now,
but leaving the hardest for another day...for a day when I have all day to sit with it.
Because...they don't call them "daddy issues" for nothing, haha!



Lullaby Set List

Sometimes Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," comes on the radio,
or cycles through in my playlist,
and when it does,
I always smile.
I see myself sitting in the dark,
with one twin snuggled onto my lap in the rocking chair,
and the other waiting his turn in the nearby crib.
I would sing a few of the usual nursery rhymes, as well,
but the three songs that were always a part of my bedtime routine were
"Wish You Were Here,"
"Puff the Magic Dragon,"
and Suzanne Vega's "The Queen and the Soldier."
I remember looking up the lyrics for "Puff the Magic Dragon,"
so that I would know all the verses;
same for Suzanne Vega.
I remember how good it felt to sink into that chair
at the end of a long day chasing those two around.
I remember how soft their little cheeks were,
and how solid their warm little bodies were,
as we slipped into dreamland.
Now they drive themselves to work and school
and tower over me.
They are hilarious and generous and kind
and my heart is full,
but I stare longingly at their baby pictures and
wish they were here...


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tragedies

I used to think they only happened to other people,
and then I found out they happen to anyone,
anytime.
I think I kind of thought I would live forever,
or at least,
I didn't really believe that death could be so
wrenching
sudden
world-skewing.
I'm not sure how I failed to comprehend,
since I'd lost a cousin, a brother, a friend's toddler brother, a cousin's husband...
all so close to my sphere,
so young,
so unexpected.
But, I guess...just not quite close enough to my daily life,
for me to feel the impact,
for me to see the absence in every room,
in the driveway,
in my husband's eyes.
When the one lost was violently snatched from within your grasp,
from under your roof,
moments after you heard his footsteps enter and exit...
When you are the one to answer the door to the 4 men in uniforms,
and then you stand alone in that big,
emptier-than-ever house,
and try to figure out who to call first,
how to call,
how to say the words,
where to start...
He was so young, so full of potential.
But this tragedy was much less complicated for me to process than the next.
The next is far too sad,
far too filled with
all that I could have
SHOULD HAVE
done differently.
It is filled with a bond that never seemed like it was all it should be,
from the very start of my life,
and certainly wasn't, at the end of his.
I will break apart inside if I have to think about that night again.
I tried to process it all in the aftermath,
but sometimes
everyone keeps telling you there was nothing you could have done,
and they say it over and over until you want to scream at them with ragged rage,
and reject their ridiculous absolution -
they don't know that you held anger in your heart,
they don't know that you didn't know he needed help,
but that you bloody well should have.
They don't know that their forgiveness isn't what you need,
or how it feels to know you should have taken a deep breath
and forgiven him,
and been able to see how broken he was...
They are wrong.
It was definitely my fault.
This is the one I will someday
maybe
figure out how to live with.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Word Count

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.
The goal of this endeavor is to write 50,000 words during the month of November.
If I average 1,667 words per day, I will meet this goal.

Today's Word Count: 1551

11/7 Updated Word Count: 4334

I'm still behind my goal, but at least I'm writing! Woot!

11/9 Updated Word Count: 6053
11/12 Updated Word Count: 8750
11/14 Updated Word Count: 10,852

Monday, October 30, 2017

Exposure

Oh, I could tell you all the awful things,
I could tell you in a terse inventory,
titles on a playlist of pain.
But that would be searing and wounding,
rending.
I would rather use all the brushes and paints in my toolkit
to fill in the vast tableaux that make these horrors
(understandable?)
(forgivable?)
bearable.
I'm not sure I deserve the grace provided by a backstory,
but I know I can't bear to confess
without explaining how
my soul can bear the weight of all that has passed.

Grace(less)land

Tonight I got home, hungry but happy,
to find two of my three men asleep
and the other openly apathetic about dinner.
At first I was mildly annoyed, but then...
I smiled, and sank into my favorite chair,
pulling my laptop onto the top of my lap
(because...what is the bottom of one's lap??)
so that I could spend some time here.

Saturday we wound our way across a part of this state I haven't seen much of;
we went to an orchard in...Morgantown?
and then on to Bethlehem.
Not to give birth in a barn, fortunately,
but to satisfy a primal urge for pastrami.
Hot pastrami on rye, in fact--
(and this immediately brings to mind
that time, when I was 4 years old,
riding in the "way back" of my Mom's yellow Datsun station wagon,
as we rounded the north end of Rockland's Main St.
and headed back south on opposite one-way street toward home in Owl's Head;
I was looking out the back window, free-range in the glorious wild west before seat-belt-laws,
and soon I was hiding under a blanket with a song,
"Hot pastrami on rye-eye," was the refrain,
repeated over and over until I soothed myself to sleep).
So, we headed west and/or north from the apple orchards
(and their decadent donuts)
through Reading
(I love this name, because it looks like my favorite hobby)
and onward to the
gross
smoke-filled
casino
which houses the only remaining Carnegie Deli on the East Coast.
The casino was...gross, did I mention that?
Intentionally polluted air choking us as we wended our way
through the maze that couldn't outsmart us
(after all, this isn't Vegas)
and slid into a booth in a happy little slice of New York.
The sandwiches were not all that we had dreamed of,
but the pickles were,
and the sweet old lady who saw my husband taking a picture of his sandwich,
stopped by and showed him the picture she had taken of a far superior pastrami
at the 4th St. Deli in Philadlphia,
which filled us with longing....
and so...
the quest continues.

We drove home through the dark evening on the winding roads
that connect Bethlehem to wherever it is we live,
(a route I know well,
from that winter I spent driving away my worries for O.
as I drove the hour-long tortuous route once a week until he said, "Enough!"
even though it wasn't).
The Mr. and I glided over those tiny, twisting roads,
bathed in the notes of Graceland,
(with diamonds on the soles of Chevy Chase's feet, calling me Al)
and I was lost in my own thoughts and daydreams,
and everything felt golden and right.



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

(Don't) Take Me to Church

When I first heard this song,
I was struck by the image of raw passion,
visions of desperate, grasping desire
spinning across the stage of my mind - 
and then I saw the video;
different from what my neurons fired at each other 
within my skull,
but not so far removed, really.



This song's title, at least,
goes well with the little snippet I pulled from my memo pad on my phone.

8/14/2016
My church is this beautiful planet - 
the rocky coastline of Maine, 
where I grew up,
its rugged terrain, its harsh winters;
berries growing in cool forests,
sea life teaming in dark grey-green water--
Maine, with its only straight lines to be found 
in the pine trees that crowd its shores; 
the red sands and arches of Utah's deserts, 
capped by rich blue skies; 
soft snow cascading down ski-able peaks, 
rivers to kayak in,
and all the animals one might be lucky enough to see. 
I've lived in 4 states so far, 
and even found serenity in the comparatively bland beauty of Iowa--
rolling green hills, crowned with rich red barns;
I'm in Pennsylania now,
and William was not exaggerating:
this is a sylvan wonderland,
rich, green forests bend low over winding roads,
like Mother Nature herself hugging the world.
This is heaven,
this is church.
And I don't believe in hell. 
For many years after leaving the church of my youth, 
of my family, 
I uneasily, defiantly,
joked about the certainty of my place in hell... 
Now, I smile, filled with peace and joy, 
because the only hell is the one we make for ourselves--
by choosing to believe that we deserve pain or punishment for simply being human.
Church is to build and test self-discipline. That is all.
Love yourself, forgive yourself. 
Be kind, be honest. The end.