Monday, May 27, 2013

life fail

I am a reasonably smart person. Not the smartest in the world, you know, I'll never be an academic superstar - but I do pretty okay.  But one of the many things I have learned about myself, post-separation, is that I'm rather a fuck up at life. Okay - that's not entirely true. I'm good-ish at the emotional side of life.  You know, aside from being slightly nuts and all. (I insist that it's the folks who don't know they're nuts that are the most fucked up and will maintain this until my dying day). But I can take care of people and their hearts like nobody's business. I'm kind of good at loving. Or at least it's an area I try really hard at.  So yay me. Imma well-trained girl and can nurture with the best of 'em.  (Yes, that was me being sarcastic).

But everything else I sort of seem to suck at.  I guess I'd never realized before, because I've never been on my own (yes - this sounds pathetic and likely is). And apparently I gravitate to the, um, competent. The details, the bits of life that grown ups are supposed to keep in their brains - not so good at them. It's not like I don't mean to. I do. I really do.  But details go into my brain and immediately fall out. I think to myself, I should write that down - and then I promptly forget that too. (Yes - I remember to feed the kids. But likely only because they tell me they're hungry. We won't mention the awful demise of our two beta fishies who sadly forgot to tell me to feed them and clean their tanks and stuff.)

It's not that I'm careless. I actually do care. I just am always one step behind and scattered and frazzled and this leads me to constantly get it wrong. Like, I can remember to write a blog because it's a more a heart thing and less a brain thing, but I can hardly ever figure out how to get the kids to school five minutes ahead of schedule or pay the bills on time or call people back when I'm supposed to or remember to check my school email or where I  put my cars keys (even though there's a damn key hook that I put up my own damn self) or book my plane tickets at the time I said I would in order to figure out child care juggling.

I hate this about myself. Really hate it. I boggle own mind. I'm self-baffled and be-flummoxed.  I want to be better at this life business. I hate asking for help (even though I have these amazing friends who continue to blow my mind and be there at the drop of a hat).  I should be able to do this shit on my own. I should. Yeah, yeah single mom. It's true that there's a lot in my plate. It's true that life is frazzling and that I tend toward frazzled-ness under the very best of circumstances. But other people can do this.  *I should be better at this*.  And I'm just not.

So, there it is. I'm getting A's in school and a failing grade at life.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A repost and preamble to the repost: Body talk

So this body business has been on my mind a lot lately. I read about body politics. I write about body politics. I'm right in the thick of writing a fat paper, in fact. But living life in a much smaller body than my former (for now) fat chick's body (and proud fat chick, yo!) feels like it complicates the body politics that I used to be so comfortable with. I identify with fat politics and always will. I love fat studies, and am thrilled to see it growing exponentially from when I was doing my M.A., and was occasionally asked: 'And how is this feminist research?'.  But when I throw around words like "fat" in the company of other fat women (which I used to do no prob), I sometimes now get the 'what the fuck do you know about it' look. And this is a reasonable look to shoot a girl like me, who no longer shops for clothes in specialty stores. I'm rockin' life with thin privilege, and sometimes it messes with my fat brain.

My body has changed a whole, whole lot in the past few years. It's gotten a lot smaller. For reasons of goodness (a teensy bit) and badness (a whole lot of it).  And there you go. As much as I tried to ignore the weight-loss high-fiving for the post-divorce 60 pound sudden loss, it filtered in. How could it not? It came from everywhere, and was (and still is) constant. I tried to stubbornly maintain my fat-chick feist and push the positive reinforcement for this new body of mine away. I still do. But I am acutely aware that with the 'positive' reinforcement comes its opposite, the proverbial backhander. The message that for the first 35 years of my life, I was unattractive, deviant (not in a good way), abject, unhealthy and - insert a whole host of other badness here-. And the sixty pound weight loss became an eighty pound weight loss, and for a little while there was more than that (until I got my shit back together, you know, after a wee trip to the emergency room). My point being, I suppose, that we need to be so, so much more careful about how we talk to people about body issues, and weight specifically. As queers, as feminists, and even, as I am discovering while writing my current paper, as fat scholars - we need to be checking our own shit.  (And you don't even want to get me started on the health professions. DO NOT GET ME STARTED!)

I will continue to study and research in the world of queer, body and fat studies - because that's where my heart is. Does it matter that my body is no longer what we might  term 'fat' (as arbitrary as that term is used?) I'm not overly sure. But I do know that I now work within an unfamiliar territory of checking my body privilege along with my race, ability and educational privilege (among others). New terrain. But terrain I still very, very much love.

Anyhow - here's the repost ...

a queer family grows in redneckville: Body talk

xo T

Friday, May 17, 2013

memory lane

So, yesterday I looking over some old blog posts, a little nostalgically. It's kind of fun (and possibly a small bit masochistic in the oh-man-I-remember-that-day-and-it-was-a-doozy sort of way).

I re-read the first two posts I ever made, which got picked up by Offbeat Families (formerly Offbeat Mama). I was a guest-poster there for a little while before they decided I was a little too disgruntled and a little not enough happy-go-lucky.  I am actually a pretty happy person, you know, dabbles in depression, anxiety and disgruntledness with the world notwithstanding. True story. Not altogether sure why they'd have thought I was going to be in any way a happy-go-lucky kinda writer in the first place, what with the tenor of these first two posts.  But there you go. I got columnist dumped. (Angry feminist mama strikes again...)

Anyways - in re-reading those first two blogs, I was freaking blown away at how different my life was when I first moved here to Redneckville.  Okay, yeah - pretty much completely different - except I still have the small-fry, bless their wee small-fry hearts.  But the thing that really stood out for me was how incredibly holy-hell isolated I was at the time I was writing. At home with the kidlets, tucked away in the north end in a neighbourhood full of old people that was so quiet you could hear a pin-drop), in an unfamiliar city, with very few friends, and almost no queer community to speak of.  Holy crap! I'm amazed I came through that time as well-adjusted *tongue-firmly-in-cheek-there-folks* as I did.

p.s.  You should check out offbeat families.  It's pretty good stuff.  You know, for happy-go-lucky writing ;)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

wednesday poem, a day late this time

This bit of gorgeous is a new one from Edmonton's own Laurie MacFayden.  For more MacFayden work, you can check out her book White Shirt (Frontenac Press, 2010) or her blog



Prompt: Why should you turn? Louise Glück
is this about the earth,
this planet we have come to know and weep over?
why should the earth turn?
why should you turn? for the same reason you should tango
for the same reason you should quiver with delight
at the sight of the northern star, the first robin,
at the way the red and white polka-dotted dress
hangs off your 14-year-old’s confident girl-child hips
why should you turn?
why shouldn’t you turn.
why shouldn’t you stomp.
why shouldn’t you race to the edges
and screech to a halt
just before the cliff meets the sky?
why shouldn’t you kiss the stranger on the train
why shouldn’t you drink the deep-fried carnival koolaid
why shouldn’t you trust in gravity and the tides?
why shouldn’t all the songs be sung
and the dishes left until later?
why shouldn’t the nightingales?
why shouldn’t the dogs go on barking
and the cats go on ignoring
and the morning go on perfecting that precarious hue of crazy blue
just for you?
why should you turn?
because you are the key, the wheel, the corner.
because the crux of the turn is the sweetest hullabaloo.
because turning the turn is living the question
not being slave to the answer.
of course you should turn.
you should turn, and turn again,
and turn again and again and again.
and when the turn
becomes a spin
that begets a fizz
that whisks a twirl
into your most familiar pounding tribal whomp,
you should turn again.
to the dawn,
to the light,
to the circle,
to the wind.
turn to the great self-sustaining bonfire
burning inside of you
and gulp that blessed flame.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dear Adrienne Rich...

My children cause me the most exquisite suffering of which I have any experience. It is the suffering of ambivalence: the murderous alternation between bitter resentment and raw-edged nerves, and blissful gratification and tenderness. Sometimes I seem to myself, in my feelings toward these tiny guiltless beings, a monster of selfishness and intolerance. Their voices wear away at my nerves, their constant needs, above all their need for simplicity and patience, fill me with despair at my own failures, despair too at my fate, which is to serve a function for which I was not fitted. And I am weak sometimes from held in rage.  Adrienne Rich journal entry, 1960

Dear Adrienne Rich,

I'm a big fan. Of your poetry especially.  A really big fan. (Theoretically speaking, you and I haven't always gotten along, though sometimes we've been on the same page.  I really, really loved What is Found There: A Notebook on Poetry and Politics).

I've been doing research informally about motherhood and feminism and queerness since I had  my first baby six and a half years ago. Thus far, I have avoided reading your book Of Woman Born. Even though I knew I really *should* read it. Even though it is widely recognized as one of the most seminal mothering texts in existence. Or maybe because of that. I can't really tell you why I avoided it for so long, except to say that I thought about doing it, often, and that there was something in me that urged me not to. But I've started some PhD work on mothering and difference, and I knew I couldn't avoid reading your work any longer.

It arrived in the mail yesterday morning. So, I bit the bullet, drew myself a hot bath, and cracked the spine. I had to put it down after the first chapter.  Like, really, really had to. It was, quite frankly, too intense - an opening of the raw wound of some of the particularly dark places that motherhood has taken me. These places are still so riddled with feelings of grief and shame and failure, and I am still so in the midst of them. They are also dark places that I felt sure were specific to my own considerable inadequacies: my selfishness, my crazy, my inability to ever be *enough*. My steadfast belief that I was not, as I had thought, cut out to be a 'good mother.'  There are still many parts of me that believe this to be true. The word motherhood for me conjures such intense feelings of rupture and inadequacy.

I feel naïve.  Maybe even a little bit stupid, to have believed that I could have been the only person to feel like I have felt, like you have felt, like I feel still. But I am surrounded and steeped by messages that tell me what selflessness is required of this job. Messages that say this is just what mothers *do*. Messages from people who spout only sunshine and roses and delight at their children, in the present and in hindsight, which only confirm for me my own constant failures to measure up. I must be whiny. I must just not be strong enough. I must be exaggerating these difficulties. And yet the intensity with which I feel anger and love and failure (I totally don't get an A+ in mothering, friends) and grief and loss and captivity and wonder and awe cannot be ignored. The nights I stay up in a cold sweat of fear that I do not have what it takes to walk them through this world whole - positively and brightly, with sunshine and roses - cannot be ignored.

I feel awestruck by the realization that you, a woman who gave birth to her first child a full fifty years before I did mine could articulate such close experiences to my own. When I read about the degradation of your mental health and its impact on your marriage, saying: "I experienced my depressions, bursts of anger, sense of entrapment, as burdens my husband was forced to bear because he loved me, I felt grateful to be loved in spite of bringing him those burdens" (27), you could have been speaking through my mouth, with my words. Your husband, like my wife, was supportive and loving and caring and helpful. But there are some things that can only be understood as the primary caregiver, as a being who has lost their ability to move and think freely, their body space - as a person who has, for all intents and purposes, disappeared from the world outside of their home. Your bouts of depression and anger, and mine, make a world of sense. It is, perhaps though, a world of sense one cannot understand without dwelling in.  Sense in the senseless.  I feel incredibly saddened that in those fifty years so much and yet so, so remarkably little has changed.

I feel relieved that I am not the only one. And again, strange that I, a staunch feminist with a whole schwack of political awareness about many things, fell prey to the notion that I must be an incredibly horrible person to feel the way I do. One of the most piercing moments occurred when reading this passage you wrote about sleep interruptions:
I remember being uprooted from already meager sleep to answer childish nightmare, pull up a blanket, warm a consoling bottle, lead a half-asleep child to the toilet. I remember going back to bed starkly awake, brittle with anger, knowing that my broken sleep would make the next day a hell, that there would be more nightmares, more need for consolation, because out of my weariness I would rage at those children for no reason they could understand. I remember thinking that I would never dream again (the unconscious of the young mother - where does it entrust its messages, when dreamsleep is denied her for years?) 31/32 (emphasis mine)
Oh.  Oh. And ohhhh. I have only now begun to dream again, as my son rounds the middle of six years of age, and only sporadically. (Sporadic is still how I sleep). I remember telling someone that I just didn't dream, matter of factly, without much thought as to why this might be the case, or what I was missing. Tons of bricks, this passage. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and is hitting me still.

I want to thank you (although those two words are surely inadequate) for being so astoundingly brave. Voicing what you did, fifty years ago, when I am still so scared to voice such words now ... you were incredible.  I love that you had the support of your three sons writing this book. Someday, I will talk with my babes about the intensity of love and loss mothering has brought me. I hope, like your sons, they will understand that my difficulties with this journey in no way diminish my love for them, my joy in watching them grow, my desire to help them do so in ways that nurture and sustain them.

With much love and admiration,


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

a femme manifesto, of sorts

Sooooo.....I was at this party. Trying very hard to not make an ass of myself and be slightly dignified (which you may already know, is not so much a part of my special skills). This endeavour was mightily difficult, since I was super-anxious and hence had imbibed a wee bit too much wine. Which I then spilled all over. Including on my sweet-assed gorgeous new shirt. Right on my boobs. Smack in the middle, in fact,'cause I'm all lucky like that. Anyhoo - I was talking to this wonderful (and fabulously femme) woman, to whom I mentioned (grimacing at my red wine stained breasts) that I was a horrible failure at femme-dom. And she, bless her heart from here to heaven, said this to me: "Oh honey! Femme is ALL about failure!" I could've kissed her. Or wept. Really. Except I'm not into femmes, and both of those reactions would have been even more inappropriate than I already feared being. Suffice it to say that I will remember that exact moment for a long time to come, because, drunk though I was, this jogged many, many things into focus (and because I'm not sure I've ever loved a total stranger more). Instead of kissing her in gratitude or crying in relief, I just grinned and replied: "Oh well then, I'm a very, very successful femme." And so I am.

I've spent much of my life trying to blend, trying to please, and trying to be a chameleon. Very, very, very in tune with what other people wanted of me. Trying to reign in my too-muchness, the things about me that that I fear are too intense or potentially displeasing.(Things that might not be befitting of a mother or a lawyer's wife or a fledgling academic or....or.... or....).

But the thing is - all that tamping down is frankly exhausting. Also - I happen to be very bad at it - and bits of me keeping popping out and threatening to blow my (admittedly inadequate) cover.

And so, now, in the 38th year of my life, I'm coming out. Right out. Goodbye-closet-hello-world kinda out. Out, out. SHAZAM!

I'm coming out loud. (In fuschia and glitter and leopard print).
I'm coming out rowdy.
I'm coming out  unabashedly trashy.
I’m coming out queer and loving and queer-lovin’.
I'm coming out undignified.
I'm coming out open as a good (no, make that great) book.
I'm coming out in heels so high, I'm gonna have to take them off by the end of the night and walk home in my bare, dirty, breathing-a-sigh-of-relief feet.
I'm coming out in a sex-pot dress. Or five or ten.
I'm coming out in-your-face emotional and intense and wide open.
I'm coming out contradictory and confusing and hard-to-handle. And maybe a little bit crazy. (But probably not nearly as crazy as I write myself). I like to think it adds to my charm.
I'm coming out in clothes that are everything I love: too young for my age, too fancy, too sexy, too tight, too short, too flouncy, too glittery, too everything.
I'm coming out with runny mascara and smeared lipstick.
I'm coming out all kinds of freaky. You know, when and if I feel like it.
I'm coming out sweet and kind and rock-steady.
I'm coming out bitchy and wobbly on my feet and totally unsure of myself.
I'm coming out dancing, wearing ripped fishnets, tall black boots and a collar. (And if you think that collar is somehow a personal message that you (or you or you or you) get to dominate me? Oh fella - you should be so freaking lucky. And only if *I* tell you to).
I'm coming out unbearably real.
I'm coming out holy-hell inappropriate.
I'm coming out all kinds of trouble.
I'm coming out in a prim 1950's dress in which I will swear like a motherfucker. (I'm very fond of this word. You should know that too).
I'm coming out demanding. Really. On my own behalf. (Okay - this one will be a work in progress. Who am I trying to kid. But I'm going to try really extra and especially hard on this one).

I'm coming out too fucking much. Too real. Too intense. Too physical. Too feeling. And very possibly also too drunk and spill-y (but just some of the time).

I'm coming out a big, beautiful, wholly honest mess.

A fine and fancy mess of femme-failure(s).

And Oh God! It feels fucking fantastic.

(Yes, I recognize the alliterative overkill, and no, I couldn't help myself.)

And while we're on the subject of coming out, I have a few other additions, which may actually shock you. God knows probably nothing above did - c'mon, a femme bottom? Could I be *any* more of a stereotype?

I'm coming out a writer.

(Maybe not a good one. But a self-titled one. I figure if this shit keeps me awake at night and I can't stop myself from writing notes at red lights, then goddammit, I'm taking the freaking title and trying it on for size).


I'm coming out a Carly Rae Jepson fan.  Um, and a Taylor Swift fan. 

(That last one is probably enough to digest, so I'll leave the coming out alone for now ;)).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My very favourite and highly irreverent tunes of MILF Magic... ;)

I freaking love songs that make reference to mothers and sex... if you miss the first songs reference... well... I dunno.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A day for mothers?

A single day.


One day to speak of their growing bodies, wild weeds shooting up and out in every direction.

A day to speak of firsts; steps, words, songs, scraped knees, falls, emergency room visits.

One day to speak of this love, so fierce and overwhelming you could never have imagined the force of it.   This love that makes you braver and infinitely fiercer in the world; there are bigger things than you, now.  This love that could make you a murderer, without remorse or backward glance, if anyone dared to try and hurt them.  This love that inhabits you, every part of you, always.

A day to speak of this body, this mother's body, a roadmap of scarred tissue, stretch marks, hemorrhoids, skin that flops, nipples left huge from more than three years of breastfeeding.  This body they used to take residence in, and now leapfrog over, climb like a tree and wallop with pillows.  This body that grew with them, swelled to make room.  This body that turned itself inside out to wrench them into this world, that bore pain so breathtaking, so horrible and piercing and exquisite that you became otherworldly; this body that carries them still.

One day to speak of fear, the pounding heart; the million miles an hour drive to school to pick up who knows how badly hurt child; the worry of night-time croup gasping wracking tiny bodies; the what-if-something-is-wrong-with-them's; the terrors that have kept you awake at night for over five years -  What if?... What if?... What if?... What if I am not strong enough to do this thing?  What if I lose myself?  What if I lose them?

A day to speak of the time you did lose him.  The swollen Folk Festival crowds loud and oblivious to your frantic, searching eyes, the dull thudding of your heart, the horror-movie film reel playing over and over and across your mind, rapid-fire, relentless.  How your knees buckled when you finally saw his sweet face, fifteen minutes later, and you fell to the ground, holding your baby in one arm and grabbing your child with the other.  How you held them both so tightly, they loudly protested the squash.  How you didn't lose it until afterwards, without them, in line for food.  How you were unable to stop the heaving chest and tears streaming down your face.  The heart pounding, gut-wrenching onslaught of terror and relief.

One day to speak of drudgery.  Of work.  Of an occupation in which the work is entirely invisible.   Of laundry piled up to the ceiling, and the endless encroaching of toys.  Of finding airplanes and lego and food crumbs between your bedsheets, under your feet, everywhere.  Of deciding what to make for dinner, ceaselessly,which no one will eat anyways.  Of never having enough time.  Of repeating tasks that are at once necessary and useless.  They can never be finished, only undone.  Of the constant tension between trying to be that 'fun mom' and somehow complete one or two of the days tasks.  Of how this is your undoing, daily.

A day to speak of anger.  Of the large scale, the realization that everything has changed.  You have changed.  You brought children into the world, and suddenly, everything you are became "mother."  It is how you are identified, it is the sum total of how you are read.  And yes, yes you know that you cannot have it all.  There are plenty of people to remind you of this.  You cannot be everything.  But still you will kill yourself trying.   To have a self.  To be the mom they need. And there will always be someone, many someones, to tell you of how you are doing it wrong.  You know it will never be enough.  It is impossible.  And of the small scale, the clenched fists, the locked jaw, the attempts to hold on, hold on, hold on to that hair trigger temper as those little loves push you, far, far, far beyond where anyone's frustration could hold.  Anger at how often you fail in this.  Anger at how much you try.  Anger at how hard this is; and how no one ever told you this is how it would be, and how you never would have believed them anyways.

One day to speak of the look of approval you get from other say-at-home mom's when you admit to being the same.  Of the looks of pity and dismissal you get from others when they ask at parties or over dinners: "And what is it you do?" or  "So when are you going BACK to work?"  Of how you want neither their approval nor their pity.  Of how this space between the rock and the hard place feels strange and unwieldy: a foreign terrain and one you never thought you would inhabit.

A day to cram in: government policies that pay you lip service and do you no favours at all; split lips; full heart; the shit work no one wants to do; swing pushes; a world that alternately sees mothering as unimportant and omni-important; snuggles; tantrums; decisions that will never again just affect you; damage control; eroding sense of selfhood; invisibility; unequal division of labour; desexualization; kitchen dance parties; piggy backs; tickle fights; middle of the night interruptions; chicken pox and head lice and pink eye; school meetings and homework; researching special needs care; and the actual caring; car pooling; anxiety and fear and pride and rage and joy and frustration; play dates; people's preconceived notions of you; your job; your worth in the world; exhaustion, always; the struggle to raise these small humans to be kind, loving, gentle people.

A day to cram in love.

One day.  Just one.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wednesday poem: Memoriam


Anne Michaels

In lawnchairs under stars. On the dock
at midnight, anchored by winter clothes,
we lean back to read the sky. Your face white
in the womb light, the lake's electric skin.

Driving home from Lewiston, full and blue, the moon
over one shoulder of highway. There,
or in your kitchen at midnight, sitting anywhere
in the seeping dark, we bury them again and
again under the same luminous thumbprint.

The dead leave us starving with mouths full of love.

Their stones are salt and mark where we look back.
Your mother's hand at the end of an empty sleeve,
scratching at your palm, drawing blood.
Your aunt in a Jewish graveyard in Poland,
her face a permanent fist of pain.
Your first friend, Saul, who died faster than
you could say forgive me.
When I was nine and crying from a dream
you said words that hid my fear.
Above us the family slept on,
mouths open, hands scrolled.
Twenty years later your tears burn the back of my throat.
Memory has a hand in the grave up to the wrist.
Earth crumbles from your fist under the sky's black sieve.
We are orphaned, one by one.

On the beach at Superior, you found me
where I'd been for hours, cut by the lake's sharp rim.
You stopped a dozen feet from me.
What passed in that quiet said:
I have nothing to give you.

At dusk, birch forest is a shore of bones.
I've pulled stones from the earth's black pockets,
felt the weight of their weariness - worn,
exhausted from their sleep in the earth.
I've written on my skin with their black sweat.

The lake's slight movement is stilled by fading light.
Soon the stars' tiny mouths, the moon's blue mouth.

I have nothing to give you, nothing to carry,
some words to make me less afraid, to say
you gave me this.
Memory insists with its sea voice,
muttering from its bone cave.
Memory wraps us
like the shell wraps the sea.
Nothing to carry,
some stones to fill our pockets,
to give weight to what we have.
Michaels, Anne. The Weight of Oranges / Miner's Pond. McClelland & Stewart, 1997. p.20


Monday, May 6, 2013

Why I love Cheryl Strayed (aka Dear Sugar), example #267 (or so)

Hello dear bloggitty friends. I have loads to say but not the ability to say (or more properly write) it at the moment. It'll come back to me - but while I'm waiting for it to return, here's a bit of sage and beautiful from Cheryl Strayed (aka Dear Sugar columnist at The Rumpus).

love T


DEAR SUGAR, The Rumpus Advice Column #64: Tiny Beautiful Things


Dear Sugar,
I read your column religiously. I’m 22. From what I can tell by your writing, you’re in your early 40s. My question is short and sweet: what would you tell your 20-something self if you could talk to her now?
Seeking Wisdom

Dear Seeking Wisdom,
Tiny-Beautiful-Things1-663x1024-250x250Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea.

In the middle of the night in the middle of your twenties when your best woman friend crawls naked into your bed, straddles you, and says, You should run away from me before I devour you, believe her.

You are not a terrible person for wanting to break up with someone you love. You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.

When that really sweet but fucked up gay couple invites you over to their cool apartment to do ecstasy with them, say no.

There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.

One evening you will be rolling around on the wooden floor of your apartment with a man who will tell you he doesn’t have a condom. You will smile in this spunky way that you think is hot and tell him to fuck you anyway. This will be a mistake for which you alone will pay.

Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.

You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

One hot afternoon during the era in which you’ve gotten yourself ridiculously tangled up with heroin you will be riding the bus and thinking what a worthless piece of crap you are when a little girl will get on the bus holding the strings of two purple balloons. She’ll offer you one of the balloons, but you won’t take it because you believe you no longer have a right to such tiny beautiful things. You’re wrong. You do.

Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you.

When you meet a man in the doorway of a Mexican restaurant who later kisses you while explaining that this kiss doesn’t “mean anything” because, much as he likes you, he is not interested in having a relationship with you or anyone right now, just laugh and kiss him back. Your daughter will have his sense of humor. Your son will have his eyes.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.
Say thank you.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Uncharted, by Sarah Bareilles. .

A song I could not possibly love more at this exact moment in time. 
**For best results, play at full volume while dancing like a fool in your pjs.  Banana microphone is optional, but highly recommended.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Rescued Blogger Wednesday Poem: Phantom Limbs

Phantom Limbs

Anne Michaels
"The face of the city changes more quickly, alas! than the mortal heart."
      —Charles Baudelaire

So much of the city
is our bodies. Places in us
old light still slants through to.
Places that no longer exist but are full of feeling,
like phantom limbs.

Even the city carries ruins in its heart.
Longs to be touched in places
only it remembers.

Through the yellow hooves
of the ginkgo, parchment light;
in that apartment where I first
touched your shoulders under your sweater,
that October afternoon you left keys
in the fridge, milk on the table.
The yard - our moonlight motel -
where we slept summer's hottest nights,
on grass so cold it felt wet.
Behind us, freight trains crossed the city,
a steel banner, a noisy wall.
Now the hollow diad !
floats behind glass
in office towers also haunted
by our voices.

Few buildings, few lives
are built so well
even their ruins are beautiful.
But we loved the abandoned distillery:
stone floors cracking under empty vats,
wooden floors half rotted into dirt;
stairs leading nowhere; high rooms
run through with swords of dusty light.
A place the rain still loved, its silver paint
on rusted things that had stopped moving it seemed, for us.
Closed rooms open only to weather,
pungent with soot and molasses,
scent-stung. A place
where everything too big to take apart
had been left behind.

From:   The Weight of Oranges / Miner's Pond. McClelland & Stewart, 1997. p.86
Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

whoa boy...

So, I'm feeling a bit of life fatigue today. More, that is, than usual. Life of late has been filled with trickiness. A bit o' ye olde gong-show. Me stuff. School stuff. Kid stuff. Money stuff. Oh gawd - the money stuff! Out the yin-yang, as they say. Things just keep fucking breaking. Things that I need and have no money to replace. It is... well - it's pretty fucking fatiguing.

And then, the lawyer meeting. My first rendez-vous with the legal aid lawyer who has been appointed to deal with my broke-ass divorce. (That is, I mean, the divorce of yours truly, who is broke-assed).  During which I was reminded several times over that I am nearly 38 years old.  Thirty eight years old. 38. 38. Thirty-eight.  And that I have nothing, absolutely nothing, to show for this on paper. No savings. No safety net. Nada. Zip. Zilch.  That if I make one false move, that if something big happens (say, one more big break), I am fucked. Not-able-to-pay-my-rent-and-keep-the-roof-over-my-kids-head kinda fucked. Which is to say, SUPER-holy-baby-jesus-fucked. There is nothing to fall back on. 'Cause you know, I really need those reminders, what with being totally unaware of this fact all by myself. And just in case I needed a little extra anxiety, I was asked quite pointedly, if I was "sure" my decisions were "really in the best interests of my children?" because sometimes, you just really need to be stabbed in the chest with a fork. You know, just to drive that old point home. 

And it worked. Consider the point driven home, right beside those four teensy fork-tine wounds in my chest, For the first time since my separation, I was overtaken (and I *do* mean completely overtaken) by the horrifying notion that my decision to go back to school, to follow my passion and be a broke-ass grad student, was totally foolish. Selfish. Borne out of some bizarre sense of 'fairness' in a word that is, in fact, profoundly unfair. So yeah, I stayed home with the kids and helped nurture my partner's career with the eye to a future in which I could also nurture mine. So yeah, the plan was that I'd eventually go back to school and get my PhD- my dream. But plans change. In fact, *I* changed the plans (people really like to remind me of this, as if I wasn't already hyper-aware of my homewrecker status. I get it. I get it. I get it. Fuck - I GET IT! Me = homewrecker. Check).  But maybe, just maybe the pricetag for me changing things is that I don't get to do this thing that I want, this thing that I love.

I thought that I was showing my littles that following your heart and following your instincts was the most important thing in the world. More important than stability. More important than money. But I wonder, today, in my lawyer-derived panic, if in fact I have been showing them something else entirely?

I know how fucking lucky I am to even be having this crisis of conscience and of faith. So so many people don't have the incredible luxury of this whole following their dreams business because they are caught up in the game of trying their best to just survive. And so maybe, I just need to quit this whining and get a damn desk job somewhere and forget all this dreaming crap? Maybe that's what being a 'grown-up' is and this is the price I have to pay for making the stupid, stupid decision to be an at-home mom for so long (God, this is a laudable activity, don't get me wrong, but it also puts women in an untenable and really fucked up spot).  I am a strident feminist. Damn proud of it. But this kind of decision screws women. It screws them, dear friends. Me, with an MA in Gender Studies, six year resume gap, and no safety net or savings to speak of.  Not exactly the poster child for upward mobility or looking out for myself, am I?

I want, so so badly, to think that I am teaching my babes about resilience and survival. I want this dream of mine to be the best path for all of us. I do. 

But right now, I'm not exactly sure exactly how much resilience their mama has in the tank. I'm just so tired. Tired of everything being a struggle. Tired of worrying all of time. Tired of being bloody scrappy. Just tired.

I've had so many people tell me this year how strong they think I am. For doing this PhD thing, this mama thing. All the things I do. But I'm not. I'm not strong. So many parts of me just want to give up. So many parts of me grapple with the constantly lurking question: "Alright Pinterics, how much fight have you got left?"  And today, today I am really not sure how to answer that question. 

I guess it remains to be seen.