Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday Poem - better late than never...

Blow - Anna Camilleri

She calls me
i see fine china
ankles screaming for breeze
somewhere I've never been.

darling you      to be exact
she remakes the word
profane and delicate
             against her landscape
her lips snapdragons
             in bloom

i am wheat
bending to her pause
wind blown
shoulders drop
hers or mine?
even snapdragons need rest
all this talk
is tiresome

i understand.
you split me
            in a breath

there is a place on her body
between steel eyes and swell of breasts
this place
             this perfect place
i am seeing just now
             for the first time
her collarbone a cup
full flowing

i imagine her breath
              curled there
under skin bone muscle
like a snake
ready to leap forward
rise up
fill          me

i remember being a girl
young Catholic girl
quiet maltese-Italian girl
big hair, eyes like stars
standing at the altar
              the precipice
walking the long stretch of a moment
perfectly still angel
              open mouthed bride
two seconds passed maybe three
the priest whispered
               body and blood of Christ
his eyes mournful, cavernous
arm outstretched like a spoke
the water wheel dangling

i did not scratch my bum
but I thought about it -
about our terrible dresses
his ominous gown,
my scratchy polyester
about the nauseating swell
that danced in my stomach
at the sight, smell of meat
how I pushed it to the edge of my plate,
banished it from my universe
but it did not go away,
I had to eat it
it cost money:
               blood, sweat, tears, years, youth
this is bread I told myself
this is bread -
not blood, not body, not jesus
inhale        hold it
pretend I'm underwater
close my eyes

I held my breath and counted for twenty years.
waited patiently for the other shoe to drop,
only half believing it ever would.

waited for a window to open
for my throat to loosen
for fresh air
a change of air
a disaster
a miracle

all of this happened -
a symphony of chaos,
the harmonics of life
spilled over

ankles scream for breeze
wind blown
this perfect place
the long stretch of this moment

between steel eyes and the swell of breasts
her lips snapdragons in bloom
she remakes the word
profane and delicate

two seconds pass
             maybe three
her breath
             curls there
dances in my stomach
a symphony of chaos
she calls me
in a breath
i fall

From HuffPost

JJ Keith (who is a writer and memoirist), wrote this piece, entitled "Attachment Parent Dropout"over at HuffPost.  It is good, good, goodness and made me snort.  That is all.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

who put me in charge?

When I was wee, I couldn't wait to be a grown-up. I was never a very childish child, in the playing and being goofy way. I was always sure that I was meant to be recognized as a grown-up. I loved thinking about what grown-ups thought and did and listening to their grown-up conversations. Some of my most comforting childhood memories are of sitting around the table listening to my parents and their friends drink wine and talk into the night, and/or falling asleep listening to the same.  Flash forward a few (ish) years, and here I am - a theoretical grown-up.  Now don't get me wrong - being a grown-up has its perks. Doesn't it? Nobody tells me when to clean my room and I can have sex whenever I want to (in theory).  And okay, yeah, those are some pretty freaking great perks, it's true.  But the notion that somehow, the older I get, the easier and more sensical and less daunting things will get, well, this does not appear to be so.

My mom (one of the most beautiful human beings on this earth, and if you haven't met her, you're just going to have to take my word for it) was visiting me and the kidlets for the past week. It was a wonderful visit and the kids and I were in Mom/Nannie heaven. But as my mom and I had our wonderful and intense evening talks with tea and snuggle pillows, as we each talked about our lives and the struggles we were having, and the good bits we were having, it finally fully dawned. This shit does *not* get easier as time goes on. In fact, the smarter we get, the more self-aware (and hopefully more honest) we get - the more difficult things seem to be.


(Or, to quote Four Weddings and a Funeral, BuggerBuggerBuggerBugger!).

In my 20s - I was fearless (well, you know, as fearless as a girl with an anxiety problem can be). But last night, as I was driving home from dropping off my mom at the airport, I was struck by this incredible sense of .... what?  Of fear, maybe? A brief moment of child-like panic?  A certain sort of "You're leaving me here? Alone? Without a sitter? In charge of other small people? Whose idea was it to put ME in charge? I can't be in charge! Can I get just one more head rub? Are you sure I'm old enough for this?" feeling.

Well. The truth is, I'm not old enough for this. The truth is, it's probably fucking ridiculous that anyone put me in charge of anything. I wonder if all people feel like this, or just me. The way is see it at the moment is - we muddle through it and and we pretend to have it all under control a bit and sometimes even we pretend to muddle through it while we're at a complete standstill.  We look for answers (that may or may not exist), we meditate, we ruminate, we obsess, we pray. We learn some things here and there. And the more we learn, the more daunting it all becomes.

So, I suppose, the grown-upness means that despite the shit-scariness of it all, onward we march.  I don't know about you, but I still want just one more head rub.  :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Is it time YET?

So - my mom's coming to town. We have to be at the airport in just over an hour, at 8 a.m.  The small fry have been counting down sleeps, and since last night have been *beside themselves*.  Nannie, you see, is a rock star around these parts (Grammie, too, but she couldn't come this trip.  Silly job).  Anyhow - the kids knew that when we woke up, we'd be heading to the airport, them still pajamaed, to get Nannie.  Well. That description of events clearly wasn't the way to go.

1 a.m.  Boy- pads into my bedroom.  Pad pad pad. Then poke poke poke. With some urgency, he hisses "Mama!. . . MAMA!"

Blearily.... "whaaaat?"

"Is it TIME yet?"

"No - Boy-o, it's the middle of the night.  Go BACK to bed."  Boy-o takes this to mean "climb into MY bed", and in he gets.  We drift back off.

2:30 a.m.  From Girlio's room. "WAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!"  I stumble in to see whats up, stepping on toys and knocking over a glass of water on my way.  Internal dialogue sounds like "$%*#&^%*" External dialogue goes more like: "What's up, baby?"


Sigh.  Back-rubs.  "Nannie will be here in a couple of hours, buddy, but we need some sleep first."

"Ok, Mama."  She settles back in and I stumble back from whence I came.

2:35 a.m.  Pad pad pad. Poke poke poke. Girlio appears at my eyeballs.  This is always a little creepy when one has just drifted off.  "Mama?"  "I come in too?"  And in she gets.  (Mama sandwich).

Boy-o, stirring: "What?!  What's going on??  Is it TIME now?!?"


And so on and so forth, until at 5 a.m.  Boy-o suggests he just read a book quietly.  After a night of on again, off again sleeping - this seems like not such a bad idea.  Girlio and I drift back off into sweet, sweet sleep.

About 5 seconds later, the light turns on.  Boy-o sits down in my bed, where I am sleeping, and begins to read aloud.  *SIGH* (nasty, nasty, growly, nasty McNasty internal dialogue.)

Sometimes, when you are clearly not winning the battle, the thing to do is raise the white flag.  And up we all get.

So - to the airport we go.  We've made up a song and we've been singing it over and over again in giddy (tired) glee.

Nannie's coming, Nannie's here!
She's at the airport, give a big cheer!
Nannie's coming, Nannie's here!
We got up early, so we could see 'er!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Poem: Happiness is a Hot Mess

Happiness is a Hot Mess

by Lauren Zuniga

There are vegetables overflowing from every surface.
Growing from pots, saved from dumpsters, crooked
sculptures in bowls. The windows are open. Sampson
and Delilah are necking, frenzied black fur and growl.

Lemon Engine is learning the banjo. Cigarette perched
on bottom lip. Clumsy claw hammer. Occasionally,
she looks up to see if she is disturbing anyone. Even
the ceramic owls are tapping their feet. The ants two-
step along mean trails of cayenne. No one is going

The shower curtain keeps falling. The door is off its
hinges. This house is not used to such warm sirens.
Rising up smells like lavender oil and a pile of sweaty
girls. I fell off my bike yesterday; I’ve been admiring
the wound all morning.

Abundance is a handmade grail, filled with mulberry
mead. All these years, I had mistaken it for a clean
house and full bank account. When it came, I didn’t
even notice the casual spill. How it stained the linens.
How it made every crevice glow so loud and sweet.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

re-titling and re-posting, as required

A repost from last year. Because apparently I need it again this year. With a spanky new title, to boot.

a reconfiguration of self trash-talkin' OR newly re-titled, 10 reasons why hot-messy girls ROCK

1. I am clumsy. But it's because I'm too busy being fabulous to notice things like the table being a little further away than the glass. I may be a bull in a china shop, but china shops are horribly boring anyways.
2. I blurt things out. It can be charming. And likely highly entertaining.
3. I'm awkward. Physically and socially. It makes me all sweet and approachable.
4. I'm not going ever to be the girl everyone falls all over. But I got some moves. And excellent fashion sense.
5. I feel helpless and hapless a lot of the time. I know when it comes down to it, I'm really super scrappy. Like, hella tough.
6. There are loads of things I don't love about my body. It's mine. It's super strong. Sensuous. And I love to dress it up. I love to take it dancing. I have a killer smile. Half-decent eyes. And I grew babies from scratch in this thing. And I'm growing awesome new muscles.
7. I am far too trusting. I have this capacity to be open-hearted and loving that I am really pretty proud of.
8. I give too much of myself away. I am fantastic at nurturing and caring and empathy.
9. I'm not exciting. Maybe not, but I am genuine, loyal as all hell and pretty effing smart.
10. I'm scared all of the freaking time. But I do it anyways. So I guess that makes me brave.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

neurotic apologies

I'm sorry.

Really, I'm so often sorry for so many things. I have an almost inexhaustible list of my flaws, largely compiled by yours truly and possibly added to by others along the way, for which I am likely to be sorry about at any given moment. You should know that if you tell me ten things that are wrong with me and another handful of things that might be kinda alright about me, I won't remember the latter, but the former will be permanently imprinted in my mind. So, you know, sorry 'bout that. I'm even sorry for things I shouldn't be sorry about... which makes me even sorrier (this, I am told, is the product of being a people-pleaser with abandonment issues - ahhh years of therapy right there, folks. Money well spent, I tell ya. Though it hasn't really made me any less apologetic).

I apologize when someone bumps into me. Because, after all, there I was being all up in their way with my inconvenient body. I'm sorry for being awkward. You know, because it makes other people feel awkward. I'm sorry for being clumsy, for talking too much when I get nervous, for getting nervous in the first place. I'm sorry for forgetting to lock the door, losing stuff, being too passive, too open and about a gazillion other clear and pressing inadequacies.

I'm sorry for just a general tendency not to get it right (though my kids like to tell me that this is how we learn. So I must've said something smart to them somewhere along the line!) I'm sorry for not saying enough smart things to them; for not having enough patience, enough energy, enough time.

I don't like using the telephone because I might call somebody at a time that is inconvenient for them. I might bother them (and Christ! I hate to be a bother). Or they might not want to talk to me at all, ever, even at a good time. And for any of these things, I'd be awfully sorry.

I'm sorry that I can't make everybody feel better, in this sometimes hugely crappy world that often makes people feel, well, crappy. I'm sorry that I often can't make myself feel better, for which I am well-medicated, and for which I sometimes also self-medicate, and for all of which, of course, I am apologetic.

I'm sorry that this post likely makes me sound like a basket-case, when in actuality, I think I'm fairly (possibly hyper) self-aware and generally upright person, if clearly prone to navel-gazing - my apologies.


In Margaret Laurence's The Diviners, Christie (Morag's adoptive father) has this wonderful, and to repeated refrain. He says that sorry is a "bloody christly useless, awful word." And I think he might be onto something good there.

But nevertheless I am really, totally, and completely sorry if you hate this blog post.

incanting gaily

There is this website. This website of total and complete wonderfulness. This website full of strength and survival and bravery. This website that you simply *must* go to. This website is -- Gay Incantations -- the creation of thinker/writer/performers Coral Short and Lucas Crawford.

Gay Incantations stems from Crawford and Short's realization that "Affirmations insist on positivity. Transing and queering are critical forces. They use negativity, refusal, resistance, and middle-fingering to clear space for new things. Our genderqueer lives depend on criticism, differences of opinion, and the constant trashing and mulching of the past and the present."

(I love love love this website. Moreover I need it. And the verbing of middle-fingering makes me feel almost as warm and fuzzy as the incantations themselves.)

Anyhoo - daily (as one may have already surmised) we are gifted with two incantations about living, surviving, believing in magic, making choices when it seems there are none. They note: "These incantations were created in times of urgency, friendship, depression, and struggle."

I love them all. I need them all. But so far I count amount my favourites:


and my so far all-time personal fave:


There is this website. This website of total and complete wonderfulness. This website full of strength and survival and bravery. This website you simply *must* go to.

Friday, February 15, 2013

book review. sort of. but not really.

I'd like to say that this is a book review, but it really isn't. It can't be. Mostly because I'm totally and completely in love with the author and not capable of being in the slightest bit critical. It's true. She's straight. Married. Two kidlets - and still - she makes me all moony. Or, perhaps more accurately, she makes me cry. (Mostly in a good way.)

She is Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild and Torch (books I have yet to read, but you better believe I will). But to me, she's Sugar. Of Dear Sugar fame. Dear Sugar is an advice column from The Rumpus, an online lit community. And the book, tiny beautiful things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar, is a compilation of Sugar's column. I came across this book in the graduate English section of my University bookstore. I totally poached it (amoung several other amazing looking books for courses I was not taking. How is a nerdy girl supposed to resist the temptation, I ask you? How?! It just isn't possible. I send apologies out into the universe to the poor soul actually taking said class whose copy of the book is in my possession. It's okay to hate me.)


tiny beautiful things is just that. Chalk full of tiny beautiful things. Full of vulnerable people writing Sugar in need of what Sugar does best. Laying it bare. Now, of course, this is part of why I *love* her. She doesn't coddle, she doesn't lecture. She reads between the lines of what people are saying. She connects with them. And she answers in a ridiculously brave, raw way that tell you without question that this is a woman who has been broken (probably several gazillion times) and come back to tell about it. She is a poet with a potty mouth. And she has this ability to break through the surface of a problem and bust that shit up.

Take for example, her advice to Johnny, a man who was starting to have serious feelings for someone for the first time post-divorce, and was shit, shit scared and back peddling madly:

Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard. It can be light as the hug we give a friend or heavy as the sacrifices we make for our children. It can be romantic, platonic, familial, fleeting, everlasting, conditional, unconditional, imbued with sorrow, stoked by sex, sullied by abuse, amplified by kindness, twisted with betrayal, deepened by time, darkened with difficulty, leavened by generosity, nourished by honour, and "loaded with promises and commitments" that we may or may not want to keep. The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love. And Johnny, on this front, I think you have some work to do (13)

Or when she tells a whole series of folks who are agonizing about staying in marriages - perfectly good ones - that they are not happy in, the agonizing story of her own first crumbled marriage and follows with this:

All of these reasons are true enough in their specificity, but they all boil down to one thing: I had to leave. Because I wanted to. Just like all of you, even if you aren't ready to do it yet. I know by your letters that you each have your own lists, but all of those words on all of those lists boil down to one that say go. I imagine you'll understand that at some point. That when it comes down to it, you must trust your truest truth, even though there are other truths running alongside it -- such as you love for the partners you want to leave. (172)

Which, naturally, broke the heart of yours truly in about a gazillion pointed and perfect and resolute ways.

She shares herself, and her own stories in a beautifully open way. If I were an advice columnist, I'd hope to be just like her - full of empathy, bravery, the ability to relate, and more than that, to inspire people to move the fuck out of their comfort zones.

When she asks us to "Inhabit the beauty that lives inside your beastly body and strive to see the beauty in all the other beasts," (157) I really want to. When she says to "Be brave enough to break your own heart" (I can't fucking find this page number again. Bad English major. BAD. Totally deserving of a spank) I know it is absolutely necessary. And when she tells a group of convocating English majors: "I hope when people ask what you're going to do with your English and/or Creative Writing degree, you'll say: Continue my bookish examination of of the contradictions and complexities of human motivation and desire; or maybe just: Carry it with me, as I do everything that matters" (134), you might understand why I love her. So. Very. Much. And why I think if you read her columns, you will love her too.

Even her acknowledgments at the end of her book make me swoon. Of her hubs and two children, she writes " Thank you, Brian Lindstrom (aka Mr. Sugar) and Bobbi and Carver Lindstrom (aka the baby Sugars), for so much, but mostly for loving me like the truest motherfuckers." Seriously? Seriously? Because apparently I don't yet love her enough and need to love her more. And then...I do.

One of her book reviewers, author Samantha Dunn, responded to the book by saying "Dear Sugar will save your soul. I belong to the Church of Sugar."

You can count me amoung the converted.

Strayed, Cheryl.tiny beautiful things: Advice one love and life from Dear Sugar. NY: Random House, 2012. 353 pgs.

Yes. Today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Butler Valentine, with addendum

Judith Butler, who always gets it right.

It should also say, however, that given the above - the business of loving is so incredibly brave.

So cheers to all you courageous-hearted lovers out there, and to love (in all of its varieties) and to grappling with those ghosts. That stuff never, ever fails to take my breath away.

Happy Valentine's/Un-Valentine's to you all. <3

Wednesday Poem -- Advice to Myself

Advice to Myself

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

- Louise Erdich

"Advice to Myself" by Louise Erdrich, from Original Fire: Selected and New Poems

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Thoughts on writing it down...

One of my very favourite people in the world (god - she's a good, good and fantastic kinda person.  If you don't know her, you really really should) asked me recently if I ever worried about the things I wrote in this blog.  Because I kinda put a lot of me out there.  Both to total strangers and to people who know me. (The latter of which is, of course, much more disconcerting.)

And the answer is yes.  I worry about it. I worry about most things.  Most of the time.  I'm a worrier.  This won't come as a shock to read, I'm certain.

I worry that my kiddos will read this stuff someday and think (oh, oh so mistakenly) that my pretty blunt discussions about the intense emotional pitfalls and difficulties of being a mama somehow translates into a lack of love for them - which couldn't be further from reality.

I worry that acquaintances will read this and judge me (and I'm sure this will, or already has, happen).

I worry that people I know and love will read this and judge me (and yes, this has happened).

But oddly, this space is one in my life that I probably worry the least about.

Off-line, and in real life, I am a people-pleaser. I cringe, inwardly and outwardly, at the thought of someone not liking me or doing 'the wrong thing.' I cringe, outwardly and inwardly, at the thought of someone being unhappy or displeased if that's something I might be able to change via my behaviour (regardless of whether this behaviour is self-denying or not). It's 'a thing' and it's a friggin' bad thing and it often, often leads me to silencing many things about myself.

But here - on-line - I have somehow created a space for myself in which I can (and quite often do) say anything.  And it occurred to me, when my friend asked me about it, that I don't so much care who likes it or doesn't like it or likes me or doesn't like me.

I started this blog at a time when I was sure that I had disappeared.  Into the world of stay-at-home motherhood - into a world where nobody (and I do mean nobody) could see me.  And a world where I stopped being able to see myself.  This blog was a forum for me to begin existing again.  As a person.  A person who might matter somehow beyond her role as the wife of somebody important and the mother of two somebodys who are important.  It became a place for me to be, well, visible.  It became something - possibly the only thing - that was all mine.  A place where, oddly, I didn't feel any need to silence myself in order to please people.  And I still don't. 

If people who know me, or sorta know me, don't want to read the me-ness of this space - if it's too intimate or weird - I trust that they won't tune in.  I choose to lay it bare. Maybe it's brave.  Maybe it;s stupid. Definitely, it's risky. I write at my own risk, you read to your own risk, if that's what you choose.

I don't really think of myself as a writer.  More like someone whose brain is a constant whirligig. A very whirly whirly whirligig. And this space let's me get out of my head, however momentarily, and onto the page. I probably miss the mark more than I hit it.  It's full of typos and I wish I had more time to do something about that.  And it's really, really full of me.  As I am.  Which is to say, sometimes too much.  And upon reflection, I'm pretty ok with that.

I stopped writing here for awhile because I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to handle the messiness of school and kids and life.  But I realized it was far messier not to write it down, and I"m ever so grateful to have it back.

Friday, February 8, 2013


So - I was perusing Amazon today... a little book porn, if you will.  Believe it or not, it was actually 'homework.' Because I don't get enough mothering at home, you know, while I'm mothering, I feel I also need to study it at school, too.  (Like, GAWD, can't she talk about anything else?!)  I can't, apparently.  I'm mutated and it seems to be a permanent state of affair. I have mama-brain.  Anyhoo. Where was I?  Oh yes.  Books.  I like to talk about those, too. So - trolling Amazon for mother-theory-ish books.  

Has anyone ever noticed how absolutely vomitous some of the titles are?  Take, for example. Deliberate Motherhood: 12 Key Powers of Peace, Order & Joy.  Now - this makes me want to slap someone.  (I know, I'm not a nice person - this is part of my spectacular charm). But Peace, Order & Joy?  Does this person *have* children? There is no order. Ever. There's a little peace (but it's always post-bedtime).  And hey, I like joy as much as the next girl - but I'm not bathing in it 24/7. And what's with the "deliberate" business? Pretty much everyone becomes a mother deliberately.  Giving birth shouldn't come as a surprise. You get pregnant.  You figure out what your choice is about being pregnant, and if you continue the pregnancy, you can pretty safely call yourself a deliberate mother, it seems to me.  Or you choose to adopt of foster.  Also, necessarily, very, very deliberate. It's a rarity, I think, for someone to be caught 'accidentally mothering.'  

Or how about this one? Swan Mothers: Discovering Our True Selves by Parenting Uniquely Magnificent Children.   Swan Mothers?  Discovering our true selves by parenting? Our Uniquely Magnificent Children?  I don't think anything more needs to be said about that one.  Then we have A Girly-Girl's Guide to Raising Boys.  Because it's important to remember one's gender roles and presentation ALWAYS when parenting children, so as to properly bestow upon them an understanding of theirs. And it's very, very, very and especially important not to raise yourself a faggy boy.  I suppose they are saving the ways in which we ought not to raise butchy girls for the much-anticipated sequel, A Manly-Man's Guide to Raising Girls.  And then there's the less overtly problematic but highly saccharine variety.  And oh man - there are A LOT of those one.  A la The Happy Mom Handbook, The Wit, Wisdom and Wonder of Motherhood, The Contented Mother's Guide ('Cause this shit is so tricky, we probably aren't doing it right) and other gems like the  I Love You Mom Coupon Guide (seriously? There's a book for this?).  And then:  I make Milk! What's Your Superpower?  WHAT?  I'm down with breastfeeding.  We've been over this.  But if cows, dogs, cats and monkeys can all do it too, it might not actually be a superpower, folks.  The milk kinda makes itself. 

This all just makes me want to, you know, sigh a lot. (insert long and weary sigh.)  Why am I sighing?  Because I'm weary!  Because I'm really, really weary.  Super-duper weary, even. Motherhood is wonderful. Of course it is.  You know, most of the time. And my kids are magnificent and unique (read: the best fucking kids to ever grace this planet and god I hope I'm not raising them horribly).  Really.  That's the hope.  I would sell every organ in my body (and yours too) if it would ensure the happiness and security of these little wonders of mine.  But there is no order or discovering of my true self through mothering.  There's discovery, of course!  There's sweet, sweet love.  Of course. But really - really - it's about scraping by.  Doing the best I can. Trying to make it work. And when I don't manage to make it work, trying to clean up the aftermath. That, friends, is motherhood. There is no swan-li-ness. When people ask me (they ask me this a lot, lately) how I do it (it being manage grad school and mom-ing), my response is generally that there isn't really a choice.  I do it because there isn't another option.  It is what has to be done.  Yes there's love and mushiness and all that good stuff.  But I am not a swan mother. I'm a profoundly ugly duckling and under the water my little webbed feet are paddling a gazillion miles an hour. There isn't a lot of grace in it.  It is, of course, possible that I'm just spectacularly bad at this particular calling. Then again, maybe these other folks are just blowing smoke up all our asses.  

Now - all this being said - there have also recently been an upsurge of pithy and sarcastic mothering books. Books dedicated to expressing the ugly, the hard, the desperately funny/unfunniness, and the need for a whole boatload of wine.  These books, and long may they prosper, have titles like this: If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother.  Or,  the Grumpy Girl's Guide to Pregnancy. Or Must. Have. Wine. (Yes.  Yes we must).  Or, and this is one of my particular favourites, Bad Mommy Moments: Celebrating the Moments of Motherhood That Suck,

I like joy and wonder as much as the next girl.  Really.  I do.  I even have some of it, some of the time.  That's all anyone can ask for, as far as I can tell.  What I don't like, and really have a hard time with, is the forced joy and wonder and wit and wisdom.  The swan-mother discourse that makes the mamas who do want to acknowledge that the joy and wit and wisdom and wonder (which is present, of course) comes at a price.  Takes work. And a loss of self-ness.  And the inability to pee on our own.    
Down with Swan Mothers.  Down with The Food Shopping Secrets Every Mom Should Know.  

And up with Machiavelli Moms.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

a wednesday poem (but on a thursday - just for kicks)

One of my absolute Margaret Atwood faves... the last stanza gets me every time.  T

Marsh Languages

The dark soft languages are being silenced:
Mothertongue Mothertongue Mothertongue
falling one by one back into the moon.

Language of marshes,
language of the roots of rushes tangled
together in the ooze,
marrow cells twinning themselves
inside the warm core of the bone:
pathways of hidden light in the body fade and wink out.

The sibilants and gutturals,
the cave language, the half-light
forming at the back of the throat,
the mouth's damp velvet moulding
the lost syllable for "I" that did not mean separate,
all are becoming sounds no longer heard
because no longer spoken,
and everything that could once be said in them has
    ceased to exist.

The languages of dying suns
are themselves dying,
but even the word for this has been forgotten.
The mouth against skin, vivid and fading,
can no longer speak both cherishing and farewell.
It is now only a mouth, only skin.
There is no more longing.

Translation was never possible.
Instead there was always only
conquest, the influx
of the language of hard nouns,
the language of metal, the language of either/or,
the one language that has eaten all the others.

-Margaret Atwood (from Morning in the Burned House)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dudes in Trucks

Dear dudes in trucks (other sundry vehicles),

It's pretty clear that this world belongs to you, and, well, not to me.  I've been running into quite a few of you dudes in trucks (and cars. And walking past me on the sidewalk) since I moved downtown. Not, you know, daily - but frequently enough to be getting perturbing. Dudes who feel the need to stop me and say gross things masked (sometimes, and only just barely) as compliments. Or drunken 'whoooo baby's'. Or as was the oh-so-pleasant-case last night, as I walked home from dance class, 'wanna fuck's?'

*Yes. Oh. Baby. Do I ever 'wanna fuck.'  You and all your drunk friends, too. Me. Open the door and let's have at 'er. Right here at the red light.  I want it. Bad.*  

This, of course, is what I want to say. Or rather shout. Drenched in sarcasm. I don't. Because there seem to be a lot of you in there, and only one of me, and those kinda odds aren't especially my favourite. I want you to realize that you're a jackass. I want you to realize that the space you are taking up is also mine, and that by doing what you just did, you take that away from me. I want you to realize that your words, on my body, are neither welcome, invited, or consented to. But I also know that no matter what I say, or how I 'holla back,' you will not realize these things.

Because you don't have to.

Because you weren't raised a girl. If you had been, you would likely know (by the time you hit my age) what it feels like to have hands, and eyes, and words put on your body that you did not want, invite, or consent to.*  You were not raised with the ingrained, constantly reinforced (and unfortunately mistaken) belief that strange dudes in trucks are your worst fear as a woman. You do not have to think about what would happen if those fears turn out to be real. But I do. And whether or not something 'bad' happens - I have to carry that that knowledge, and that split second of fear, with me on my walk home, while you get to drive off, merry and oblivious. Hardly seems fair, does it? And even more frustrating is the fact that, even after years and years of attempting to de-program my inculcated brain, my first response to your interruption of my space is to look down and take stock of what I am wearing

What did I do?

Inevitably, when I bring up these sorts of things, I am reminded that as a 30 (erm, ish) woman, mother of two children, single woman, whathaveyou - I should be grateful or appreciative of the 'attention.' And trust me when I say that I'm not against, nor am I above a little friendly objectification.  Sometimes I'm a sexy mama and I don't mind being told that, you know, now and again, in the right context, from the right person.

But this isn't about me being a sexy mama.  It isn't about appreciation. It isn't about the fact that somehow, my winter jacket and dance class tights have turned you on beyond all recognition. This is a reminder that this world, and the freedom to move in it, is yours and not mine. This is a warning; a reminder that I am not entitled to walk home from dance class, in the dark, down Jasper Avenue, alone.

I'm not appreciative. And for the record, no, I don't wanna fuck.

Disrespectfully yours,


* and yes. Of course men are also victims of sexual assault and objectification. I know this and I hate this and it's yucky. What I am attempting to speak about here is living in a broader culture which objectifies women. Systemically.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

15 cheeky things to consider if you're thinking about dating a queer single mama

I'm *not* dating. In fact, I'm actively *not* dating.  Because I'm all busy getting self-actualized and doing yoga and all kinds of other zen-building shit that frankly annoys the hell out of me. (I know, right - I just scream 'girl dripping with inner radiance and self-actualization'!). And because I'm actively *not* dating, hot butches are falling down and raining down from the sky all over the place and I can't stop thinking about dating. Because, dear friends, that Murphy dude is a total bastard.  Anyhoooo - here are some fab pointers on how to, and, and perhaps more importantly, how not to, attempt to date a hot queer single mama, for the benefit of all the hot-queer-single-mamas out there that might, in fact, be dating. From the point o' view of yours truly...

1. Do not, under any circumstances, open with "Ohhhhh - I just LOVE kids, maybe we could all hang out sometime."  Or "I've always wanted kids, maybe we could all hang out sometime." This is creepy. And weird.  And also creepy-weird. Not that I'm doubting anyone's love of children. Hey, I generally like 'em too. But you aren't trying to pick them up, you're trying to pick their hot mama up.  And trying to pick someone up through their kids? Strategically questionable move.

2.  And yes - we do come with kids. Thems are just the facts. But please don't assume you get to meet them.  Because between you, me and the lamp-post, you're not going to (unless you stick around for quite a long time and very seriously prove your mettle).  Because the thing is this: dating is dating. You can choose to bow out anytime and we can choose to bow out anytime and as a theoretical grown-ups, we get to deal with that eventuality when it arrives. But those little dudes both notice and feel a loss when people drop in and out of their life. And it's really not fair to expect them to get caught up in the cross-fire. (My biggest and most important job in this life is to protect them and their little wonderful hearts. Always has been and always will be. This point could alternatively be titled: "If You Wanna Be My Lover, You're Not Getting Near My Kids," with the insertion of appropriate Spice Girls tune-age.  But somehow that made me seem less approachable ;)).

3. Don't expect to come first. Jesus - we don't even get to come first!  Someday - maybe. But this is a very distant someday. A someday when we get to pee by ourselves and the cozy blankets (currently otherwise occupied in forts) are returned to our living rooms and we don't stumble around at night swearing because we stepped on stray Lego.

4. Don't get bent out of shape if we have to cancel because of some daycare related gross ailment. We are not making it up.  For real. Daycare is the most disgusting and germy place on earth.

5. Don't treat us like a proverbial hot potato when you hear the word 'kids.' We know kids aren't all that super-popular in the queer set. We get it. But the hot potato move and the glazed over eyes makes us feel, you know, yucky. And besides which, you're probably not gonna get to meet them anyways - so no worries, right? And yes, we *do* talk about the small fry. They're a huge part of our day-to-day lives and worries and joys. And they're pretty rad, if we do say so ourselves. BUT - we also very likely know how to talk about other things. Many other things.  Like you know politics and theory and art and other worldy things. We might even be kinda witty and funny sometimes. At least I am. You know, clearly. And - added bonus - I'm a total MILF (she writes, tongue-firmly-ensconsed-in-cheek).

6. If you do get lucky enough to come over for some freaking fantastic conversation and a bottle of red, our house will be messy. It just will. Don't judge. Yours would be too if you were us. It really would.

7. Don't assume we want to settle down with you. Really. Don't assume this. (Just because I'm a single mama doesn't mean I'm looking for a butch-in-shining armour.  I'm remarkably self-sufficient. Moreover, I'm not looking for a co-parent. I already have one.)

8. Get to the point. We don't have time or energy for games. Like, really. Not a stitch of extra time. Similarly, We probably don't have time for wishy-washy or hem-haw-i-ness. Speaking for myself, if I was to actually articulate all of the balls I have in the air at any given moment, most grown-ups would cry. No time, I'm telling you. Good-honest-straight-talkin'-cut-to-the-chase-ness is totally where it's at with the single-mom set.  It's all kinds of hella hawt. Please take my word for this.

9.  Finding a sitter is bleeping hard. And bleeping expensive. And most of the time, we're pretty bleeping broke. It's a thing. (If you wanna go dutch, we might be dating at Denny's or cooking at home.  I'm down with that if you are. If you aren't - well - the single mama set probably isn't for you.)

10. Let's take a moment to talk about tantrums. You *will* be put in a time out, like the bad girl/boi you are.  'Cause we really got that shit covered.

11. We don't want to mother you. We spend enough time mothering. 'Nuff said.

12. There is no such thing as mom-underwear. Unless by mom-underwear you mean hot-assed lingerie. You are confusing us with grannies.

13. We *do* however, possibly own a set of mom-wheels. Especially if we have more than one babe. So if you're a car snob.... look elsewhere.

14. We can't fly by the seat of our pants and be all spontaneous and fun stuff like that. We have to plan around playdates and custodial days and school schedules and kid-activities. On top of our own shit. We gotta make our plans in advance. Just how we roll, folks.

15.  We really aren't so scary. (Small caveat - I am actually super freaking scary). But the rest of us are generally pretty harmless. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Things I think of at night (g-rated version)

1. Did I say that?!  Why did I say that? Who says that?! (Apparently you do.)  2. Did I write that?! Why did I write that?  Who writes that?! (Apparently you do.) 3. Will my kids survive me? How big will the therapy bill be?  (Also known as: Did I do that?! Why did I do that? Who does that?! Apparently you do.) 4. Oh!  I need to do that tomorrow. I should get up and put that on the to-do list, but I'm too tired to move.  5. Where is my to-do list, anyways? And how many things have I forgotten to do on it? 6. Wow. This bed has a lot of room. Look at me all stretched out. 7. Wow. This bed had a lot of room a few seconds ago. 8. Should I get up and do some homework? 9. Should I get up and write a blog? 10.  .......... * 11. Being single is amazing. 12.  Really, really amazing. And fun. And interesting. 13. Oh my god, I'm going to be single forever. 14. I really love those purple suede boots. 15. ......... * 16.  I should really go dancing. I miss dancing. 17. I wonder if everyone else is as neurotic as me? 18. Shit! I forgot to buy milk. 19. What did Habermaas mean by that exactly? 20. Back to the purple suede boots.  What dress should I wear them with? 21. I don't have anywhere to go.  (You-Totally-Ridiculous-Femme).  22. ........... * 23. Where are all the brown/queer/women folk in textual editing and criticism?  24. Why aren't I sleeping.  The kids are going to be up in 4 hours! 25. ..........*

*g-rated version ;)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

bits of love in everydayness

The split second of the last sigh when I know they've drifted off and let go of the day.  It is the most gorgeous moment. My heart swells and crashes and breaks and recedes as I stare at these little generous beings who have graced my life.

Drippy icicles.

Glittery snow. Glittery clothes. Glitter in general.

The very first sip of coffee every morning.  That shit never gets old.

The urge to write - that visceral, embodied drive that tells me I have something to say. And that I *have* to say it or I will swallow myself whole.

The thinking and struggling and struggling to think. The thrill of being able to put it together.

The inhalation where I've caught my stride and I know I've got it covered and I can run anywhere and as long as I want.

Ankles wrapped around the pole and feeling the strength of me, imperfectly.

The peel of Girlio's laugh.

Clicky heels reverberating off of sidewalks, hard floors, school hallways.  The way this sounds like power.

That part of the song thats tell me I have to dance, that there is no other choice but to move my body.

The sheer intensity of the ball of energy that is my Boy-o.

The comment of a classmate that is so fucking brilliant - not in a showy, name-droppy way - but in an 'I'm here searching, too' way.

Seeing a gorgeous, hard-edged femme and admiring that total sauce in the sway of her hips and the way she just works it, effortlessly.


Openness. Not in the absence of fear, but in fear and out of necessity, honesty, bravery.

The spark in a glance that goes nowhere, but momentarily everywhere.

Reading under a soft blanket and watching the snow fall.

Chai tea in the afternoon.

Old photographs.

Friends who remind me to eat.

Little bits of everyday love.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Confessions of a bleeding heart

So.  It's February. You know, the month of Valentine's day.  That Hallmark-Greeting-Card-UnHoliday-Bent-on-Commercialism-and-Buy-Some-Shitty-Wilted-Roses-and-Ferns-and-Baby's-Breath-From-Safeway-and-the-Normalization-of-Heteronormativity-and-Normative-Romantic-Relationships-in-General-and-We're-Far-Too-Cool-and-Critical-and-Sceptical-and-Tough-in-the-World-for-that-Shit day.  You know.  That one.

And - I was thinking about Valentine's Day as I was cutting out a gazillion hearts out of multicoloured construction paper with my babes to make lovey cards for a class of 23 and a daycare cohort of 15.  Hearts upon hearts upon hearts. To glue upon hearts upon hearts upon hearts. What do I want to teach my babes about Valentine's Day?  Surely I don't want to teach them normalization?  Commercialization? Surely I don't want to impress upon them the importance of celebrating the heteronormativity that abounds everywhere in our culture, and on this day in particular?  Surely, as one half of a failed marriage, I don't want to teach them about love everlasting?  The short answer here is, of course, a resounding "Hells NO!"  But the long answer, as is the case with most things, a bit more complex.  You see, I have an enormous amount of trouble with the aforementioned HGCUHBoCaBSSWRaFaBBFSatNoHaNRRiGaWFTCaCaSaTitWftS attitude.  (HA!  How's that for an unwieldy acronym?!)

Anyways.  In order to figure out what to tell my kids about the day, I had to think about what I think.  Admittedly, this has shifted over the years as I've gotten older, and you know, divorced.  Not because my ex is a bad person.  For the record, I think she's a wonderful person.  But rather because my life post-separation has been a sharp, stiff learning curve in figuring out who-I-am-in-the-world-ness, and who-I-want-to-be-ness.

And oddly, perhaps, I've gotten a bit mushier about this business of loving.  There is precious little of it in the world. Far, far too little.  Far too little vulnerability.  Far too little going out on a limb, wearing your heart on your sleeve, valuing emotionality, valuing connection and the risks we have to take as human beings to make connections.  And the corollary, naturally, is that we live in a world full of violence.  Interpersonal violence.  Violence within and against communities.  Global violence. And it seems to me that in a world so chalk full of the latter, the former becomes so much more important and in need of valuing.

Now don't get me wrong.  I don't like heteronormativity. (Duh). I don't like normalcy.  I don't like the notion of commercializing love. And I fucking hate roses, ferns and baby's breath.  And don't even get me started on carnations.  Oh man - do NOT get me started on carnations.  (I loathe them and the utter lack of creativity they represent, both). I don't believe in marriage (not in any normative sense, at any rate) and I don't think 'love' is meant to be some eternal, everlasting feeling. But I also don't think there's anything wrong with a day meant to celebrate love.  In all of its forms and variations and possibilities and sometimes even its impossibilities.

If we have a problem with how the day rolls in mainstream society - then we can change it.  We can do it our own way. It doesn't have to be a day of straightness and marriage proposals and wilted roses and trite crap.  Make it a day to celebrate lusting and fucking and multiple lovers.  Make it a day to celebrate the person you love monogamously.  Single?  Who gives a shite.  Me too. Fabulously so, I might add. Make it a day to love yourself.  Make it a day to plan a large-scale queer make-out session at City Hall. (I'd so get behind that action). Make it a day to celebrate self-loving a buy yourself a saucy new vibrator at The Travelling Tickle Trunk.  Make it day to recommit to living lovingly.  Make a day to go out on a limb, tell someone you love them, tell someone you value them, tell someone you're sorry, tell someone you think they're hot as fucking hell.  Make it a day to take a risk.  On someone else. On many someone else's. On yourself.  Make it a day to be vulnerable. Make it a day to ignore completely and promise yourself you'll do better with those things all year round. Put your heart on your sleeve. And own it. Admit it. We don't need to buy stuff or be heteronormative or any of those other crappy things for this to be possible.  Really. We just need to allow ourselves to swallow the cynicism for a minute. We don't have a shortage of cynicism in the world. We do have a shortage of valuing (I mean, really valuing - in a critical, but also an open and vulnerable way) love - in all of its good and hard and crappy and heart-squashing and beautiful and tragic and multitudinous, diverse forms.

Here's the thing. Though I believe this is already patently obvious, I'll state it anyways. I'm not cool.  Never have been.  Never will be. I'm critical enough. And plenty sceptical when I need to be. I'm a little tough, too.  But I am and will always be a heart-on-the-sleever.  A guileless, utter-failure-at-aloofness, total softy.  And I'm ok with that.

Last week, when confessing my deep and pressing fears about not being intelligent and critical enough for academia, somebody gave me the best compliment I've ever gotten in my life.  She called me a 'trifecta' of intelligence and intuition and open-heartedness.  It blew my mind a little. I might not be as clever or as critical as other folks. This much is true. But I am a trifecta. And this is how I FEEL. So I'm gonna choose to value that shit.

You don't have to agree with me.  I know I'm a bleeding heart. (It's part of my dubious, and possibly somewhat loser-ly, trifecta charm). That's cool.  But if you do, maybe I'll run into you at the Tickle Trunk on V-day.

In peace and in love...


Friday, February 1, 2013

more poems

So - the crunch is on.  I've got school reading out the ying-yang, and seminars to prepare and papers to get on.  I've got a committee to get together and a dissertation prep proposal to plan out.  And so what do I find myself doing?  Reading poetry. Like, lots of it.  I cannot get enough of it.  

This is the final (of 21 plus a lovely floating poem) of Adrienne RIch's Twenty-One Love Poems.  I love it so much, I'm considering incorporating part of it into a tattoo.  Yep.  Love it that much.  And since I have a kidlet with night terrors and haven't really slept in days, I'm too tired to come up with anything even close to clever or relevant to say.  So ya get Adrienne.  I know I should have posted the whole thing.  But it's longggggg.  You should still read it all, though.  But for now, enjoy this bit.  Or don't.  

The dark lintels, the blue and foreign stones
of the great round rippled by stone implements
the midsummer night light rising from beneath
the horizon - where I said "a cleft of light"
I meant this. And this is not Stonehenge
simply nor any place but the mind
casting back to where her solitude,
Shared, could be chosen without loneliness,
not easily nor without pains to stake out
the circle, the heavy shadows, the great light.
I choose to be the figure in that light,
half - blotted by darkness, something moving
across that space, the color of stone
greeting the moon, yet more than stone:
a woman. I choose to walk here. And to draw this circle.

- Adrienne Rich (from Twenty-One Love Poems)