Huntress of the Lens


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sorting a pile of my life

As we were finishing the move from one bedroom to another I found myself sitting on the floor going through the last of the things, the ones that never really have a place to go if you want to call them "Put Away." Bits and pieces, ten thousand notebooks with many or only a few pages written, photographs that are from such vastly different times in my life that it's as though the time-machine went haywire.

Our closet was daunting, that's where we've been storing items way-up-high for four years now. I used to look at it and think about organizing it just because it needed to be done, and then I would quickly move on to something that seemed possible. What surprised me was the collection under the huge piece of furniture that our television has been sitting on.

I bought the piece when Mervyn's was going out of business. You might have seen it with sweaters stacked on its four shelves, maybe a promotional sign or mannequin torso on the glass-on-aluminum framed top. It's five feet long, and maybe three feet deep, this is a display for a large retail store, not an entertainment center. Michael had to go through heroic maneuvers to get it around a corner and through a regular sized bedroom door.

When I brought it home, I immediately claimed all of the shelf space, along with that on top of my dresser, because I have more stuff than Michael does. I not only filled the shelves with books, boxes, little dishes shaped like leaves or made to hold a candle and bits of other things, I stuffed the space under it as well.

I have a thing for boxes, both large and small. My Big Daddy has known this forever, many of them are handmade by him, and two of them have secret compartments (the only thing that can make a box even better than it was originally.) Some are cool wooden cigar boxes, some are little tiny boxes made of metal or wood. I have never been able to resist an empty box or a blank book of new paper.

I have lived in the same house for fourteen years, and I think this move completes the third circuit of bedrooms I have lived in. I have moved many, many times without ever changing addresses.

After the large things were moved, all the things that make our room the place where we live there were a lot of things that must be kept. I had no place for them. That's how I ended up on the floor sorting a pile of my life.

Sometimes I wonder, when I die will my loved ones will go through every single page and scrap, look at every photo, or just bag it all up and take it to the dump? Many things are dated, many are not. There is a gathering of this same kind of paper history in the garage that equals what I have in the house. It would take unaccustomed eyes days to absorb it all. There is everything I have compulsively written over a century or so, and many pieces that were contributed by someone else. I will keep an angry unsigned note from someone, but discard all the store-bought cards I've been given over the years. When I'm gone I know there will seem to be no rhyme or reason to what I kept, but each thing is somehow part of the puzzle of who I am.

The collection I have been dealing with over the last few days has mesmerized me the way these things always do. They make me sit down and look at each piece and place it on the timeline in my head. There is a cassette tape of me talking at twenty-two months old, answering questions about who the president is ("President Johnson lives in the white house.") and talking about a rat ("Look at his tiny little hands, he's kissing me!") and Dottie's voice prompting me to parrot all the cute things she's taught me to say. I can hear that clearly in my head this minute, and yet it has probably been twenty years since I've actually played it out loud. I can hold the object in my hand and listen to it without a player.

There is the photo album from the day I married the boys' dad. I'm impossibly young and my Big Daddy is slim and dark, tall and handsome. I look at those young people promising to be married forever and know from this vantage point that they are far too young to know what "the rest of your life" means. When I look at my own baby face in those pictures I feel sad that I thought I had already reached adulthood and knew who I was.

Pictures of me, hugely pregnant with Paul, motherhood still a theory and an ideal. Apparently they hadn't invented the blow-dryer yet. (This is a lie, I killed my hair all through high school trying to look like Farrah.) My unruly mop is either air-dryed to it's almost-curly best or braided, by the time Andrew comes along the braid reaches my waist. Notebooks of my own writing with pages of lyrics or short-stories that their dad wrote layered in between. They are typed on some ancient computer; printed on yellowing, continuous-feed paper with perforation bumps at the top and bottom.

In the same pile is the leather folio with the wedding ceremony from this, my adult marriage. There are actual vows, promises to stay together no matter what. In that first ceremony we didn't really promise anything but to tell the truth, and to "Do what works and stop doing what doesn't." and I see now that you really do get served whatever you order from the Universe's menu.

There's a photo of Grito with a can of Natty Ice and the black wise man from my Grandmother's Jesus barn that comes out at christmas. There's a picture of me sitting on a new Harley that Molly's dad gave me in lieu of a real engagement ring. There's a photo album where I am between nine and ten years old, full of Dottie and the contrived poses she favors in any photographic situation. There are two almost perfectly round rocks. There're several school projects from all three kids, and an exact list of what was on my desk one day. (I was drinking back then, actually it's a pretty funny list, down to the number of bottle caps and pot seeds there were.) Also there are many bits of broken jewelry, tiny little medicine bags that haven't been opened in three decades, the medal Andrew was awarded in the Army and gave to me, some flakes of dried flower petals, a feather or two. There's the book of poetry my Grandfather wrote while he was courting my Grandmother. I've consolidated the paper, and my attic steps are completely blocked with items and boxes of things that "Will be good to use in an art project some day."

The way I get trapped by this same collection, no matter how many times I gather it from the places it has been wedged since the last time I did this, is that I feel as though I should go through it and discard some of it. Maybe I should consolidate it, or put it in chronological order. Maybe I should put this whole stack in one of my many boxes, but wait, all the boxes are full and now I must look at each item in every box. I can't remember the last time I have thrown away a single page.

It's a shame I'm not a very important person. If anyone had a collection like this from Abraham Lincoln or some other fascinating character from history they would be overjoyed. Just think of it- all of old Abe's angst-ridden teenage poetry, all of his lists, the notes his friends passed him in school. Ok, I realize that most of the stuff I have in my pile didn't even exist when Mr. Lincoln was young, but I trust you get my point. I'm not important historically, and therefore the collection of things I never let go of is just a pile of stuff; unless you're in one of the pictures, you could take that and put it on your refrigerator with a magnet.

Somehow it's all put away again, waiting for the next time.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Egg Man

When I asked my new doctor for some other kind of non-narcotic headication for my aggressive brain samurai I was prescribed two new things. I told her the old miracle meds just weren't doing it any more. These two new things are doing less than the one that I thought wasn't working, but I'm not willing to experiment in my own lab to find out what happens if you mix the old with the new.

My cerebral blender is still spinning on high, but it's jammed with sticks and the motor is smoking. One thing the new medication does do for me is steal the urge to wake up in the morning, and cap the fingertips my written thoughts normally flow right through.

used to sit here on my rock of a keyboard and catch the little thought-birds in my net; try and see if I could get them all singing the same song. I never knew where the flock would fly, but catch only one and the rest would usually follow. Now I feel as if I no longer have opposable thumbs, I have as much success as a walrus attempting to catch fireflies.

I miss conducting my morning symphony, it's a part of me that I love best. I'll get it figured out eventually, if my cranium does not implode.

I miss all of you too.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Family Dynamics

Spring and Autumn are sisters who have had shared custody since their parents Summer and
Winter split up so many years ago. It's no wonder that it didn't work out for those two, their temperaments are just too different to make a tranquil and loving home. You can tell Spring, the younger sister, is Mother Summer's favorite.

They go shopping together for new things, and share such a family resemblance that sometimes it's easier to think that they are the sisters, instead of mother and daughter. They listen to the same music, although Summer likes it louder and will turn up the volume the first chance she gets. They like their water warm and their plants young. They can cruise for greenery together, they both like younger and more active sprouts.

Spring has a deep love for her dad though, who seems so austere and cold; He is a time when it would seem that nothing new will ever happen on this block. When it's her turn to go live with mom she will vacillate, and say she left a lot of stuff at his house and she needs to go back and get it.

He's the one who teaches her the deep secrets, and she learns much from him. They work on fantastic new creations and projects in the basement together, and on those weekends when both sisters visit Autumn can become very jealous of the attention their father lavishes on the baby.

All Autumn ever really gets to do is throw a brief fashion show using her mother's over-bloomed and well-used remnants to dazzle the eye and make wistful the heart. Autumn throws herself without reluctance into her father's chilly arms, only to watch her best gifts be swept away.

Summer is a charismatic, pink-cheeked woman in a party dress, drinking too much, staying up too late, flirting with all the possibilities that pass by. By the time the party really gets rolling she's entirely forgotten that she has any daughters at all, it's just HER in her golden tiara, holding court amongst her many admirers. Collecting love letters like lush fruit, she blooms unashamedly, showing even her most secret flowers to any and all who might wish to see. She doesn't come to a dignified conclusion, she just parties until she passes out.

It is always the older sister, Autumn, who will come along and clean up her mother's messes, and tell her "Yes, you were once beautiful." Mom usually raises her head and staggers blearily out one last time or two to slur "Where's the party?" As the eldest sister, she always finds a safe place for mom to lay her head, her petals long gone, her pumpkins fat and her stems withered and brown, to sleep off this year's fleshy excesses.

Summer resents her oldest for resembling Dad's side of the family so much. Autumn already knows all the lessons that her father will teach. She is charitable though, and it's her privilege to pass out the goodies that will sustain the little people while Dad and Spring are sequestered together contriving new things to introduce. Summer spends this time sleeping off her hangover.

Autumn fills me with a restless urge, to go, to see, to get the hell out of this town before it's too late. I love Autumn the best.

Dad's job is to go out and wreak havoc, freeze some stuff, throw some lightning bolts around. It's not a very pretty job, but someone's got to do it. Always a buzz-kill, he insists that everyone slow down and have a long hard look at themselves. Spring and her mother don't appreciate that he provides most of that water they love to play with in their garden.

Spring and Autumn don't hang out much. Like a lot of sisters they argue about who is prettier. Autumn, the older sibling has a more realistic view of life, and finds her little sister frivolous and fickle.

This morning when I took the dogs out I caught Spring, trying on her big sister's breezes, pretending that those were her clouds. The smell in the air was not the innocent fragrance of a young girl though, she had snuck into her older sister's perfume and applied too much. At this time of year, she'll get away with it, but for one tiny moment, that truly Autumn instant stirred me and made me want to pack my bags.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I want a facelift.

Not a super dramatic looks-like-you're-traveling-at-ninety-miles-an-hour kind of facelift, just a little vertical tug here and there. I would love it if that area under my chin were smooth again, and I did use chin in the singular form. I don't want giant lips or chin and cheek implants. I want to be able to move my eyebrows and stop smiling sometimes.

My eyes could use some work. I've always had sort of asian shaped eyes, where you can't even see that I have an upper and lower lid, it's like there are two little sausages perched over my slanting blues. When I was first allowed to wear eye shadow in sixth grade (Bright blue cream frost, oh yeah!) I would walk around with my eyes at half-mast so you could see it. If I opened them all the way the electric blue of 1971 would just roll back into my head and you would never know that I was now mature enough to start accentuating with paint. My eyes are on the wish list too.

I have Dottie's nose. It's a curse, this nose, obviously very strong genetically. It's very round, and tempts people to want to give it a little honk to see if it makes a noise. I have always hated my nose, so I'd get a new one of those too. This is where the rule "Don't touch my nose, ever!" comes from.

Every time I say to Michael "I really want a facelift!" he counters with "I will support any boob job you want to get." WTF? After saying this a few times I attacked him with the full force of unreasonable middle-aged rage. "What the hell is wrong with my boobs?" "Nothing honey" he backpedals, "I just want to be supportive." I have an over-the-glasses glare I save for times like these.

I don't have issues with my boobs. They're not as perky as they were before I gave birth to and nursed three kids, but they're still pretty fantastic for someone my age. If you saw me on my back in the bathtub, or hanging upside down like a bat I think you would agree. If they're properly wedged, strapped and squished they make a cleavage I can use as a second purse. The girls are one of the only parts of my body I'm still happy with.

It's my face that bothers me. It seems that I focus on this especially when I'm getting my hair done, probably because I'm forced to sit there and stare at myself in a giant mirror for two hours. I take my fingers and place them right above my outer cheek bones and lift, only a little bit, and there, isn't that so much better?

I try never to look at myself in the mirror as a rule, except this tiny one I have that only shows one feature at a time. I use it to apply lipstick or if I'm deciding that maybe I'll feel prettier if I wear makeup today. You know, slap on a little eyeshadow that will roll back in my head so no one sees it anyway.

Mascara ends up hitting the lenses of my glasses, so I don't get to be too dramatic with that. I would have to really do it up to get my lashes out from under those awnings that are my upper eyelids anyway. I've always wished I could wear some pink feather and glitter false eyelashes, but my glasses prevent that.

Many women talk about aging gracefully. My plan is to be dragged kicking and screaming every inch of the way. The older I get the more I look like Dottie, which is like gazing into a mirror and seeing a cross between the icon on a poison bottle and Hitler. It's harder and harder to cheer myself with "Well hey, at least you don't have the little mustache."

The sad thing is that although I have never been pretty, I can look at pictures of myself from years ago and think "Hey, that girl is kind of cute." My beauty is entirely retroactive. Maybe if I hoisted up this face that has been battling gravity for nearly a hundred years now I would look more like that girl instead of this old lady. I wouldn't start wearing high heels with little socks and mini-skirts or anything, I just want to tune up my face a little.

I have pictures of Dottie when she's in her thirties, so I can compare myself to them and decide how much I actually look like her and if I look better at that age than she did. Yes, it is a competition. I found one picture of her on Google (at age 66 I think) and she looks decrepit,ancient, miserable. Give it a few more years and I think I'll win that one. Still, I would just love to be happy behind this face right now.

I wish I had a picture of her at the age I really am, I bet I would look way better. That's because I'm not psychotically sociopathic with only selfish motivations coursing through my veins. If I'm currently winning though, I would really like to know it.

Come on Super Lotto! I want a house and a facelift, is that too much to wish for?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Love letter to not just any soap.

It's a rare day when I blog twice. Blogging is a morning thing for me, and goes along with coffee and those first crucial cigarettes of the day.

Sometimes, if I've had a particularly rough day, either emotionally or physically I like to immerse my body in extra hot water in my ultra-narrow cast-iron tub. This bathtub was "modern" when the claw-foot tub went out of fashion. I sit in the water, knowing that I am made mostly of water and try to imagine the solid parts of me as separate from the whole. Bones, teeth, skin, it's undiluted body.

Today my bar of Go Man, Go soap arrived, and I think it was the combination of the day and the allure of the scent that brought me to some hot water meditation time.

When you open the little muslin bag there's always something written about Jessie's soap, it's always got a clever name, and smells like nothing you can purchase in a store. Here's what it said about this one:

"Coconut milk and sweet mango? Yes please! You know here at Monkeypoo we don't play when it comes to delicious ingredients, and goMango is not exception.

Made with natural sweet creamy coconut milk for moisture, fresh food-grade cocoa butter for its skin loving properties and fresh pureed carrots (for beta carotene, vitamin A and its restorative properties.) A yummy homemade base of olive oil, coconut oil, soybean oil and sustainable palm oil. Get your skin a jump start on summer! The scent is sweet and citrusy and the perfect start (or finish) to your day.

Extremely moisturizing and skin loving and jam packed with vitamins, nutrients and natural glycerin. No crappy filler ingredients. Cold processed and made in small batches."

A lovely description, thoughtfully written. Unfortunately the essence and experience of this delicious bar of body loving goodness just doesn't come all the way through, even with that as the label.

It's nothing special to look at, it's beige. Why? because there are never any artificial colors in Jess' soap. It's just a plain little rectangle until you touch it. The bar (even before being immersed in water) has the feel of a "lotion bar" or some other moisturizing product that you would apply directly to your skin with no water. Dip it into a hot bath and it comes alive in your hand and that part of your palate that lives in your nose. I could pick up the scent of carrot (not the big old knobby ones from the supermarket, but the thin little babies that have orange light that shines from within. I covered myself with the smooth feel of it, then sat with the bar pressed to my nose, trying to pinpoint the actual scent, the memory trigger it was to me.

Its closest likeness was to the little hard candies my Grandmother used to keep in her purse sometimes, always a wonderful bribe to keep us quiet in church. the little ovals, wrapped in white cellophane with a picture of a fruit, and only spanish words on the label. Hard candies, but if you weren't patient and crunched them there was a sweet and soft center that made you wish you'd waited a little longer. That is the picture the fragrance painted for me.

I could feel my skin drink this liquid sunshine the bar was creating, and soak it up like a sponge. Now, dried off, I do not smell like a fruit salad, but I do still catch a whiff of summer breeze and golden light.

This is my love letter to something as simple as a bar of soap. Each different kind is a whole new affair I have in my shower, but this evening belonged to goMango. I treat myself to soaps that are only crafted by these two hands, these Jessica hands that I love. Sometimes the simplest treats are the most decadent.

Treat yourself to something delicious- beJessie on


I had the idea yesterday while talking to my Big Daddy that I could work on this blog for days and make it really good, and then drop it on Father's Day. He and Heart-Mom will be in some place far across the country seeing the world's largest ball of string, or a glass frog factory or something by then. Maybe they'll be driving that stretch of highway that crosses the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains (or the Appalachian Trail, I can't remember.) When they're on the road there's nowhere to mail a gift, he gets a phone call and a blog.

My problem is that last year I started writing blogs and everyone already got their Epic Tribute Blog, either on their birthday or some other appropriate holiday. No matter how much you love someone, it's hard to write more than one Epic Tribute Blog unless you wait a few years between essays for them to do some more fantastic or sentimentally mentionable things. The truth is, this has just been one more year of me learning to live my life and my Big being a steadily unfailing source of support and encouragement the whole time.

Don't get me wrong, that's the meat and potatoes of my emotional well-being, but there's not a lot that's new to say about it. This year, I wanted something really profound, one of those blogs I know he forwards to his friends as yet another way of bragging about me, which he does all the time. I figured I'd start early; work on it for hours and fill it with delightfully well-crafted sentences and evocative analogies. Then I realized that it was this blog and I was writing it already. I will once again fail to hit the target dead-center on that date called "Father's Day."

In younger and more selfish years, I have missed it altogether, claimed that something was in the mail, been late and claimed that I was actually three days short of being a whole day early. Young, selfish, completely absorbed in my own life; my only evidence of caring at all was the level of guilt I was able to produce and wallow in when I didn't get it spot-on. I have also done this with his birthday and that dreaded commercial nightmare (with its horrible sound-track) Christmas.

My Big has never missed once. The closest he ever came was to ask me in different years if my birthday was the 6th or the 8th. Being his only child (that we know of, I fantasize that there is a sibling somewhere that I can find and reunite with. He says "I don't know honey, if you do they'd be in Korea.") I always find it funny that he asks me to clarify my birthday. One year I said "Jeeze dad, you only have one kid! You get it confused because your wedding anniversary with Dottie is May 6, and my birthday is February 8." These are two dates I've had memorized my whole life, everyone knows when their parents' wedding anniversary is, don't they?

He comes back with "I didn't get married in May, I got married in August. We had a big fight over the canopy over the cake because it was the dead heat of summer and her mother said the cake would melt. No canopy, no wedding." I whipped out my handy set of ten fingers and began counting off the months between August and February, and he said "I've always wondered when you would do the math on that." Dottie just changed the day she claimed as her anniversary, Big waited for me to do the math. This is a fundamental difference between the two of them, she'll lie, or make up a new reality and tell you her truth (which then becomes THE truth, not the same as lying at all) and He'll just wait for me to ask for more information and allow me to come to my own conclusions.

For a couple of years I wondered if he was my bio dad, or if she just picked the very best man around to pin me on since she was apparently "in trouble" and marriage was the only acceptable way to remedy that situation back then. I thought that would make him even more amazing, if he were not my actual father, but a super-hero that took on Dottie as a wife and parented me so tenaciously and devotedly. Then I looked at pictures of his mother very close, pictures of us together and his whole side of the family and abandoned that notion.

The topic he brought up during our phone call yesterday was "Why do you suppose that your mother still has such a negative effect on your current life, when you had input from two different parents and she didn't really have that much time to actually damage you?" That's a paraphrase, I just like to show that I know when to use quotation marks properly, but I may not be quoting directly, just to be honest. It was a question very much like that though.

It never dawned on me that it might be hurtful to him that I go around being so wounded and bleeding, unable to let go of her influence on me, when he worked so hard to create a 6:1 ratio of positive to negative effect. He didn't say that it does hurt him, but yesterday was the first time I formed that thought and wrapped it up in "I wonder" paper. He and my Grandmother had far more access to the moldable, developing and becoming me, it would only make sense that I would have taken more away from those interactions than some sociopathic abuse dealt by my psychotic mother here and there. Wouldn't it?

I think the key is that your mother is your mother, and will leave marks that are somehow wider and deeper because they get you first. I brought up his mother. I think a lot of who he is, the very brick and mortar of his way of seeing the world and walking through it; his ability to find the red dot on the map that says "You are here." was given to him by her.

"Work hard. Don't feel sorry for yourself. I have the confidence in you that I will let you attempt anything that comes into your mind. Learn to count on yourself, that way if someone dies you can still make a damn good life afterward. Do good things quietly, don't draw attention to yourself for your acts of compassion. Never listen to someone who tells you you are incapable of doing what it is you want to do. Sit up straight and take a sweater, you'll catch your death of cold."

This is but a brief list of the kind of personality-forming messages I think my Big would have received from his mother. Instead of scars she left him with practical, tempered-steel inlayed designs that describe who he is as a person. My assertion was that we were both equally affected by our mothers, we just had vastly different people play that role. I also pointed out that in the midst of all my wallowing in my own childhood trauma, both here and in my breathable life I mention him, and his mother far more than I ever do Dottie. I think they had the bigger influence, but if your whole body is fine and you have one broken little toe I think it's the toe that gets the attention.

We also talked about the possibility that as an artist I may need my wounds and my woe, my melancholy and bottomless sadness to be who I am. He asked that I please not cut off my ear.

It was a good talk we had yesterday. He always makes me think, often makes me laugh (especially at myself) and tells me how proud of me he is. When he asks "How did she manage to do so much damage?" I could answer "How could you have saved me from her, from myself, to allow me to become who I am today?

Everything is a contest. You won that one Big Daddy.

So there it is, eleven (legitimate) days early this year, who knows what I may be writing about on June 20? Maybe Mason Jars or wallpaper. Every day is Father's Day if getting to be me is the celebration of the father I have.

I love you Big Daddy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Smile, you're on Candid Camera

The strangest thing has been happening lately. I'll be engaged in some daily activity and a very intense, completely detailed snap-shot of somewhere or sometime will flash in my head. The things that choose to appear in such vividness are not important per se, but they are so lifelike and authentic (and like all things that I see with my eyes that are not eyes) they come loaded with smells, and sounds and sometimes even a story to go with them. They're complete multi-media flashes and don't usually disturb me enough to blink or comment or let on that one just happened.

A lot of them are from World of Warcraft. I'll be tattooing and all of a sudden I'll have a little POW! of flying over Nagrand heading toward the Ogre area where you have to kill Chowar the Pillager. Or flying across the gap and into Netherstorm. These don't surprise me so much, I spent two years immersed in that game and have something near 80 twenty-four hour periods of subjecting my brain cells to the world of Azeroth. I haven't played in months though, and it always surprises me when I get a strong flash of a game location.

The stranger ones are when it's some innocuous little snap from childhood. Really, it's not so much having a memory as being shown a fading paper square from a photo album. I'll be walking down the pasta aisle at the store and FLASH! see a picture of me navigating the endless distance of curb in front of the house across the street from where I lived until I was seven. We never knew those people's name, we called them "The Crabs" and Mr. Crab apparently had nothing to do other than water his lawn or sit, hose in hand, on the porch just waiting for some kid to step on his grass. I lived directly across the street. If I wanted to walk to my Grandmother's one street over I was allowed, but only if I never crossed a street. "Not even one foot in the gutter Laura, you stay out of that street!"

That meant walking around the end of the cul de sac we lived on, then the length of my street, around the corner and through the Beard's yard to her house. Most people were cool with kids wandering their yards, but not Mr. Crab. So I have Dottie on one side of the street on our porch, watching to make sure I didn't set foot in the street at all, and Mr. Crab and his hose, ever at the ready.

I still like to play a mental game as an adult where I'll walk effortlessly on something thin and imagine that there is a two thousand foot drop into hot lava if I mis-step and don't stay on it. I can walk back and forth, stand on one foot, do anything I want until I really have the reality of the plummet and the lava firmly fixed in my head, then off the edge I go. This is what the stretch of curb across the front of the Crab's house was like. Long, narrow (maybe four inches, how wide is a curb?) and deadly. Dottie with her yardstick on one side and Mr. Crab and his hose on the other. When you're little. there's very little difference between those threats and hot lava.

It's an endless stretch of shaky concrete, swaying gently in the breeze of fear, and I can not make one false placement of my foot. That was the most arduous part of the journey to my Grandmother's house, and could take hours (or minutes that felt like hours) to make the crossing.

That's one of the pictures that will just flash into my head, me walking a curb as a little kid. BLAM! and then back to what I was doing, but the whole story comes with it.

Then there's a particular corner of my room when I was little. The dresser drawers were painted in three gradients of pink from dark to light, bottom to top. Double windows in that corner, although the curtains have lost their vividness but always sway in a breeze in that shot. That's the room where most of the scary things happened, at night when you could no longer distinguish the shades of pink in the moonlight. My bed would lurch, inch by inch into the center of the room, and there were alligators underneath and potato bugs right in the top crack by my pillows. I would sit, stranded in that bed in the middle of the room surrounded by giant prehistoric reptiles and potato bugs, completely unable to put my feet on the floor to get to the bathroom. The laundry basket at the end of the hall showed its true colors as a hunched and hungry witch in the dimness of a night hall. That place was dangerous!

I could call my Big Daddy for rescue, but only once a night or so, because everything would go back to normal when he got there and he would get irritated, he "had to get up early." Every night before he tucked me in he would throw dimes at my wall to make sure it was solid and that I wouldn't roll into another dimension while I slept. That came from Twilight Zone. To this day I will not let my fingers dangle over the top edge of the mattress, I know where the potato bugs live.

FLASH! Three pink drawers, dark on the bottom, light on the top. That's the picture, but all of that other stuff comes loaded into the image when I see it.

POP! the leafy place that seemed so magical across the street from Lisa Borgen's house, where she found a dead guy on the way to school one day. I wasn't there, I missed it. I was jealous of the fame and attention she got for finding a dead guy. That was the place we were always going to run away to, that leafy place and the nearby bamboo. Close enough to sneak home for food, and we could make anything else we needed by weaving or tying the bamboo together. We wouldn't go to school, and we would live there, together forever, even after we got big. We started our life-plan by trying to make place mats from bamboo leaves. We had to be ready before we made the big move.

I'm sure a Brain Scientist or a Rocket Surgeon could explain rationally why certain little cells of memory pop and I'm flooded with them while doing daily activities. I consumed an enormous amount of LSD in high school, maybe every memory I've ever had is now packed in bubble wrap made from Lysergic acid diethylamide, and its ability to separate and protect each memory from smearing the others is degrading over time. I just know that I'll be doing something normal like driving or tattooing or being romantic with my husband and POOF! there is one of the random images hanging on my screen for me to examine.

I'm free to walk around and through the still-frame, remember other things that go with it, carry it forward or backward until it's a whole story or just see it and let it pass as quickly as it came. If I'm tattooing I'm already in a zone, and often indulge myself in a little tour around the moment since my hands work by themselves once they're going. This is never scary, and it's never the truly horrible things I could remember that come upon me so unexpectedly. Just little snapshots, flung like cards in that game where you try to fly them across the room and into a trash can. It's as if I'm the floor they sometimes land on, off to the side.

These are also nothing like the explosions I experienced for a few years in a row, the ones I was absolutely certain represented exactly what it would be like to be shot in the face with a shotgun, but have the continuing awareness to describe the blast afterward. My explosions are for an entirely different blog, but probably will never be chronicled, they're just too singular in topic. I guess this is where those landed and you'll just have to imagine what that was like, and how inconvenient it could be to experience them often and when least expected.

This is what you get on this haphazard Sunday morning in the middle of eternity. Just a little peek at a few polaroids that will pop into my head in a completely random fashion.

One simply can not be profound every day.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Everyone has been tripping about the weather lately, but 17 years ago it was raining today too.

I knew I was going into labor the day before, mildly in the morning, then real contractions as the day wore on. I had only had babies at home up until that point, and wanted nothing to do with a hospital this time either. "You're not having my baby at our house, you're doing it the right way." is what her father contended, and I knew enough of labor and arguing with him that I couldn't do both at the same time. I caved, I agreed to have a baby in a hospital.

All that day of the fourth I did errands, paid the rent, went to the store, went out to dinner at Rio Poco when it was still there. It's not like it is on television, where the wife wakes the husband and says "it's time!" and he runs goofily around in his pajamas looking for that suitcase they already have packed. On TV she's calm, and he's a nervous wreck bumbling around ineffectually. They also show (at least in the olden days of black and white) all the fathers nervously pacing a waiting room while the wives go off and do the magic that produces another human, wrapped in either a pink or a blue blanket.

It wasn't like that, any of the three times when I was the spaceship that delivered an alien to this planet. By late evening I could tell that these contractions meant business, and that at some point soon (but not yet, God, not yet) we were going to have to leave to go to the hospital so that I could do this thing I know so well how to do. Without the ocean's boom to sync with, without all of my women friends in attendance. At the mercy of "personnel" who might take it upon themselves to make choices for my own good; people who might tell me how to have a baby when I already know just how I do it.

Her Father's reaction to "I think it's going to be soon now" was to call his work and talk for about an hour, then say "I better go take a nap, I'm going to need all the energy I can get for this." I spent approximately four hours on the couch, on my hands and knees, in the bathtub deciding if I would even wake him or go ahead and push and catch my baby as I always do. I was too afraid to break the rules, I woke him and we drove to the maternity ward.

It was a full moon, and that dark part of the night that comes right before the subtle lightening of the sky that lets you know that it's going to be another day. I had already called Holly, the boys' birth coach and told her to meet us there, I felt it was important that they be by my side to greet their new sibling. Ward one was full, they opened the over-flow ward for me and actually ran me down the hall to get me to a bed. I kept my ankles crossed, I was not having this baby until the whole family was there. There was a woman screaming her lungs out somewhere that I could hear, and I remember thinking "If you used all that energy to have your baby you'd be done already."

"No, I will not be having an IV, thank you." "No, there won't be any internal monitors or epidurals." "If you give me an episiotomy I will sue the shit out of you, I have never had one and there will be no need for one here. Be patient with me, I know how to push out a baby." My agitation was growing, because I felt like these people were trying to take over my birth experience, and I wasn't having it. "Patient uncooperative" is being written on my chart. He's glowering at me telling me that these people know what they're doing and I need to listen to them. I've reached the final click, click, click of the roller coaster car reaching the top of the first arch and know that I'm going over the edge soon. These people can all fuck off, I am primordial.

Holly and the boys come skidding around the corner and I look at them and say "Hey, can you see?" They're in position and I go to that place where life moves from within me to without me. "Get your hands away from there!" they're trying to tell me and I slap them away. Here is my baby's head in my hands, here are her shoulders, I am catching her as I always do and bringing her up to lay on my heart. There are only two people in the room, she and I. Damn, she is LOUD! "Why is she covered in hand lotion?" is what Andrew wants to know, and "Are they going to unplug that extension cord?"

They take her across the room to do the APGAR tests, when I would prefer that they do it on the end of the bed so I am a part of this. They wheel her, screaming all the way, down the hall and out of my presence to do something to her that makes her scream even louder, then wheel her back. This is the only way I know I have had the same baby returned to me, the audio tether that was never broken. People are talking and doing and other things around me, but I'm looking into the eyes of this divine being and showing her just how grand a breast is. This is what I do. I was made to do this.

After fifteen minutes or so I tell the staff that I'm going to take a shower now. They try to say that I am not allowed to do that, and I ask her dad or someone to hold her while I go do it anyway. I'm ready to get dressed and go home and they tell me I must stay there, in that environment for eight whole hours before I will be allowed to return home, where birth and babies belong in the first place. They provide me with a plastic bucket on wheels to put my treasure in and say that I should "try to get some rest." "I won't be needing that, my baby will be right here with me while I sleep if you're making me stay." They see the fires of hell and the claws of a mother predator and wheel the little box out of the room.

We slept, belly to belly, her in the crook of my arm for some time. It is tiring business to convert an internal organ to a separate person after all. Her father wheels us out to look at the sun, shining its exploratory rays through parting clouds, the rain has stopped. I hold her, and look at her, and know that this is the wish I have been waiting for my whole life.

"It's been eight hours, let's go!" is met with "But we do a complimentary steak and champagne dinner for the new parents, you don't want to miss that, do you?" Yes, in fact I do. The woman is still screaming with as much gusto down the hall as she was when we arrived.

That's what happened at 5:13, June 5, 1993.

We've been each other's best friends for so many of the intervening years, but somehow she's outgrown her need for me now, and moved on. We've been doing a special Mother/Daughter trip away overnight (with presents and surprises) for a few years, but apparently she's outgrown that as well. That place in the crook of my arm where she fit so perfectly aches in its emptiness, and I have to adjust to the idea that I'm only a mother in name now. I asked her if we were going to spend any time together for this birthday, and she said people were making plans for her, she wasn't sure if she could fit me in. The word exsanguination haunts me, but it's the blood in my soul, not the coppery red fluid that flows through my systems and keeps me upright that is leaking out in a steady stream and leaving me white and lifeless. Sticks from my empty nest gouge me and I feel as though I've swallowed broken glass.

Happy Birthday Baby, I miss you so much.

Friday, June 4, 2010

With a capital L

I was having an IM conversation with my favorite of Michael's newly-reconnected relatives the other night. That's how we chat, we don't talk on the phone much, we just use facebook chat and have the kind of abbreviated conversations that are possible when two people are typing back and forth. I think this goes easier for me because I type about a million words a minute (with corrections and editing) and I can type almost as fast as I would speak in a conversation. Sometimes with other people I get abbreviated sentences or shorthand thoughts, and I have to decode them and realize that a keyboard is not a second home to everyone I interact with.

She's cool, I'm really getting a chance to know who she is in these little snippets of communication, and yet I always find myself editing what I would really say because I know she's the ambassador to that whole side of the family, and it falls to me to represent Michael and our whole family unit over here. I am aware that people from other places have ideas about California and what Californians are about; read whacky, crazy, liberal, weird. I am almost sure there is no one like me in her little area of the world.

Michael has opted out of facebook (thanks hon) and so I am the voice of "us" that get's passed around dinner tables over the green beans and mashed potatoes in Kentucky. I want them to like me. I wish they could understand me, but I would settle for being tolerated as eccentric. I wore a wedding dress that covered every single tattoo I had at the time, in anticipation of the day when these people would see me and possibly judge me. Looking back, I don't really like the dress I picked, and I ask myself why it mattered so much even then. Just for reference, I looked a bit like a Volkswagen under a white lace car cover with big hair on my wedding day.

I'm even being careful writing here, I don't know if any of them read me, I somehow doubt it, but Aunt Rose told me that someone had looked at my pictures on facebook and said one of them was scary. One? Out of the hundreds of images of me living my unusual life, one picture was scary to someone over there? I try to guess which picture it was, and the answer still eludes me.

I'm careful, because my daily friends, my home-base companions will often say "Oh my God Laura, I can't believe you just said that!" because sometimes I forget to filter what I think is true to make it sound pretty. Where Molly hasn't an unspoken thought, I have a three second delay. That's what maturity will do for you. I have learned not to say things like "The whole angel thing is a bunch of crap, in my opinion." I'm growing.

So at the same time I assume they don't really read me, I'm always afraid that someone will, and that I will offend them. The funniest facet of this behavior is that I only worry when I refer directly to them. I'm doing it right now though.

The other night Sis and I are chatting about this and that and the Big Topic comes up. The subject I always dance around and reply to with "So how's the weather out there?" I'm talking about the Big Guy here, the Lord with a capital L.

In my advanced years I have learned that I do not immediately need to go into my whole dissertation about what I actually believe or don't believe on the topic of Great Big Jesus in the Sky, I can smile and nod and ask about the weather.

"I have bible school for two weeks coming up, do you know what that is?" she asks me a direct question that sunshine and temperature won't answer. "Oh, tell me about that!" (Safe, let her talk, just because I think it's true doesn't mean I have to say it out loud.) "It's for kids, we dress up and act out all the bible stories for them so they'll understand them." before I know it my fingers have replied "Yeah, they used to make me do that when I was little too." "No, they really like it, and it helps to explain what really happened and answer their questions about the bible."

"What really happened." Take a deep breath, count to ten, she's a slow typist and won't notice the lag. "So, I guess if you want them to believe all that when they grow up this is a good way to get them started. Good for you!" I add a positive ending to show that I support her in the things she finds important, but I can feel this turning south. "We don't try to make them believe, we just want them to understand and answer any questions they have." "So if they totally understand what you're saying, and then don't believe a word of it they don't get points deducted and fail the school?"

Long pause.

How did I get myself into this, she's going to ask me, directly what it is I think about all of this and consign me to hell. Shit, I should have asked which character she would be playing.

What followed were a set of questions that I made the best of.
"It's about the Lord, you believe in the Lord don't you?" (archaic designation of aristocratic power and compound titles of others in authority. Relevant currently? No.)
Then there was some Jesus, my eyes were glazing over, I was sitting on my expressive fingertips.
"Don't you believe in evil spirits?" No, I don't believe in evil at all.
"What about Satan?" Oh my God, kill me now.

"BRB, I have to go make some coffee." when I returned she had signed off with "Have to go to bed, luv U guys!"

"The bible isn't relevant to any of my spiritual beliefs" slipped out there somewhere, trying to be polite and yet stand true as who I am. I probably shouldn't have typed that. If I had been talking with Louie I could have added "with all due respect" which is code for "We're not going to argue about this, I love you the whole time our belief systems don't match."

Usually I avoid conversations where it's my turn to delineate my exact spiritual beliefs, and not only with christians. Someone was going on about a "binding spell" as though I were well acquainted with that the other night. Maybe it's the giant Pentacle tattooed on my arm? I have a friend who is a Pagan who shares all sorts of stories about rituals and rites, and plenty of people who assign me to the "Wiccan" team by default. The truth is, I am none of those things, I don't belong to any organized religion or philosophy. I make stuff up as I go along, and have a super-charged connection with the Universe, the Creative Force, whatever you want to call it. I'm not an... anything. I've been put through all of catechism and confirmed, but that didn't stick either.

When I arrived at AA there were two things on the lists of steps and traditions that allowed me to return and find my own version of salvation from myself: The term "God, as we understood him." and "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking." That wiggle room that allowed me to understand the Universe in precisely the way I do is what kept me
from fleeing AA like any other religion. I'll use the word God sometimes, it's such a common reference point, but I'm careful with that lest someone think I mean a sentient being up in a heaven somewhere with petty human emotions like anger or jealousy, love or displeasure and a huge red rubber stamp that marks things as:

It's such a labyrinth of social interaction, this God thing, if you're not sitting in a building with a bunch of other people who believe the same things or use the same reference books. My experience of Spirit can be as subtle as the touch of one blade of grass, or as profound as words I hear in my Grandmother's voice. I've come to the conclusion that if you think you can adequately explain it then it's probably not God, and that there is no religion that comes anywhere near comprehending the infinite.

If I am still, it will fill me, or whisper to me, or show me pictures that I see with my eyes that are not eyes. If I act from service or compassion I sometimes have the feeling that there is something using me as a vessel, a tool, a human hand. Beyond that, I have no real explanation for my perception of the Creative Web that encompasses all things. I have a certainty that I'm the type of person who others like to set on fire, tied to a stake.

I took a quiz once, and I've linked the site here. I took it just in case I was aligned with some religion and didn't know it.
I got a 100% match with both Reformed Judaism and Universalist Unitarian (Or something like that.) I know nothing of either religion, but apparently I could talk about God with anyone from these two faiths and our belief systems would not clash.

I would love to see Kentucky's beautiful landscape, and yet I feel terrified to ever make a pilgrimage there; the Sis says she needs to explain it to me in person.

There're plenty of firewood and stakes available if I don't get a good grade in bible school.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kings of Summer

I drove by some fifth-graders yesterday while they scanned traffic to decide when to cross the street. Backpacks and skateboards and shaggy hair, they vibrated in place. This group was on their way to something, and I didn't pick up any homework vibe from them, they were off to DO.

I could tell they were fifth graders because the middle schools have now absorbed the sixth grade, and the biggest fish in the elementary pond are now in the fifth grade. They're the oldest. They've been at this school the longest, and the year's almost over, they're almost out of this stupid place. Next year they will be the little sixth-graders, heads down and scanning the waters for the scent of blood and danger. Right now though, they are Kings with the whole country of summer to rule.

It's funny how we don't really get to see the whole cycle of things till we've traveled much of it's three hundred and sixty degrees and then turn around and look back.

I wish I could talk to my own fifth-grade self, and believe what I would say. Not like talking to someone as old as I am now (Like my Big Daddy was, he talked all the time, but knew absolutely nothing at all) but to listen and to know that it was my own grown-up self who was talking. Of all people I understand exactly the way it is at that age because I am the same person. After I got over the initial horror that I look so very much like the mother who was the root of all evil at that time I like to think I would have gotten a leg-up on the future by knowing what I know now.

Like that time I wrote Eddie Warner a note telling him how much I liked him, but made sure to use paper that didn't match what I had in my school notebook. Even then deniability and a good cover-story came naturally to me. I wrote him a long letter, but changed the way I wrote some of my own script, and left it in front of his door. I really liked Eddie Warner. He was one of the boys I saw on the street yesterday, the ones who know they are at the top of the food-chain. Eddie Warner was completely and totally out of my league.

He cornered me at school after-hours one day, and asked me if I had written that note. Oh, the certainty and forced non-chalance of my denial. He asked to see the paper in my notebook (three-hole) and it did throw him off, because the note had been written on five-hole paper. He was a newspaper boy and happened to have a bag of rubber bands with him. He said "I am going to shoot every one of these rubber bands at you until you admit that it was you who wrote that." He did. He shot them until I cried, all the while denying that someone like me would write a note to someone like him saying how much I liked him. To this day if you stretch a rubber band in my direction I will either freeze with terror or bolt from the room. I finally escaped, ran home to cry, and leave him to pick up every one of those rubber missiles of shame.

Here's what I would tell fifth-grade me: "He liked you too. He liked you or he wouldn't have invested so much effort and so many rubber bands in his attempt to extract the truth from you." I saw it as proof that you should never, ever tell someone you like them, because it will only end in humiliation and tears.

Then there was Jerry Farr, whose desk I sat in when we moved rooms for math. We were not supposed to open the desk of the student who normally sat there, but I know we all had at least a peek at what was inside. Along with his pencils and chewed eraser I saw a note one day. It said "Will you go steady with me?" and was wrapped around the kind of inexpensive little ring that fifth-grade boys have access to. I put it on and wrote back "Yes." I liked him too, he was short but very cute. I didn't have any friends who were girls to ask me, but I saw the questioning looks. They knew I was wearing a boy's ring and that someone had asked me to go steady.

For days, weeks, maybe all the years of fifth grade I could no longer meet his eyes or speak to him at recess. I started hanging out with his sister Stacy (who no one liked, but it did get me into his actual house) and when we would bump into each other there he'd say "Hey." and I would mumble something stupid and make a dash for the bathroom until I was sure he was gone. At some point there was a note in the pencil tray that said "Can I have my ring back? You are no fun to go steady with." I removed it in shame and relief, I knew he had been too good for me the whole time and we'd be better off this way.

Again, if Old Lady Me could talk to Fat and Completely Unattractive Young Me I would say "He liked you too. He would have talked to you at recess and maybe held your hand. It wasn't a trick so he could make everyone laugh at you for thinking that a boy like him would ever like a girl like you."

I wish I could have talked to High School Me, and let me in on the secret that the really hot, long-haired stoner guys who had cars and cut class were already at the top of their game, they would never rise above where they were at that moment. I wish I could have said "Read that book proudly, and look at boys you see reading, they're going to be smarter than those other boys and have better jobs." I wish I could have shaken myself and said "Look at me! Listen very carefully, this is going to matter! Boys who want to have sex with you don't necessarily like you!"

If I could have talked to Young Mother Me I would have had the chance to say "Go ahead and watch them play in the dirt. Mud washes off. Look at their awkward, skinny limbs of perfection and burn that picture indelibly into your brain! They are going to be up and gone so fast you won't even know what happened."

Today Me knows all of these things. Fifth-Grade Me only knew that even if you locked me in a room I could go into the closet and make an entirely separate world of my own choosing. That love equals humiliation and pain. That I would never be really good at anything, and that if anyone really knew who I was inside they would most certainly reject me. That to use the big, luscious gourmet words I found in books would divide me from my peers and add yet more layers to my isolation. I so wish I could speak to that Me now.

I wish I could at least leave one letter, wedged into a secret space where I kept all my very bad poetry and said:

"Don't worry, hold on, no matter what you will never be your mother. Trust me, I know this because I am you, and you are not."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Our house is a very, very, very fine house.

My strange way of moving amuses even me. I have lived in four different houses on this street, with addresses ranging from 1014 to 1037. This house is across the street and four down from the one I started in during the era I was conceiving Molly. She will be 17 in four days, just for time reference. She was conceived to one of the Guns N Roses songs, although I couldn't tell you which.

I've been in this house the longest, we moved in here when she was freshly three years-old. It's technically a two bedroom house, because for some reason the back bedroom is only up to code for an office. My upstairs studio was only rafters and pink itchy insulation when I moved in, I paid a tweaker named Jan to convert it into a real room. He re-framed it into the existing frame, and double insulated every wall and the ceiling. It's a cool room, I've lived in it twice before it became my art studio.

The odd truth is that I have lived in every bedroom of this house at least twice, more than that in some cases. It's moving, but not really moving. I really like the room we're in now, it has a fairly large closet with a lock on its door, I have a love of locks and pass-codes and combinations. It has a window that overlooks the almost quarter-acre back yard and is large enough to arrange it in two entirely different ways. We have had it both ways a few times.

The front bedroom has the hollow-wooden-drum of the staircase to the attic in its closet. This makes for a very strange and sound-amplifying place to store your clothes, and one of the bars is only suited for very short garments, it is so low to the ground.

The back room, the one with the doorway to the yard and the basement is not very large, but has windows across the whole back wall (Old school windows that actually drop down into the wall, not lift up, all painted shut) and a half-bath that I love when I'm living in there since I can keep my bathroom things in one place on shelves instead of in plastic caddies with handles that I have to take in and out of the shower every day. For some reason it really bothers me to think of someone washing with my bar of soap, and I have a life-long fear that someone will pee on my toothbrush. Those things need to be kept separate for safety's sake.

The door to the back yard shifts with the house every year. There is a dead-bolt that slides easily during one season, but misses by a quarter-inch in either direction during other quadrants of the calendar. Every door in this house either sticks or slams easily at some point during the year.

Every time I live in one of the rooms I think it's my favorite, but we're moving into the one at the back of the house at least for the summer. We're the ones with the dogs that want to come in and out incessantly, and we don't want to share a sink and toilet with anyone, other people can be so gross.

Since Michael moved in here July four years ago many improvements have been made. The bathroom floor got squishy and every shower was an episode of "Will this cast-iron tub fall into the basement today or another time?" I paid a combination of 6,000.00 cash and traded tattoos to have the sub-floor replaced and the tub re-installed. Michael brought us a working dishwasher and over-the-stove microwave that actually worked for more than storage. I replaced the refrigerator. My Big Daddy bought me a new stove when I discovered one Thanksgiving morning that the oven had ceased to function.

"Why don't you call the property management company?" I'm often asked. I'll tell you why: I have been renting this house for fourteen years at a rate that seemed high in 1996 but has only been raised seventy-five dollars since then. I do not want them to remember that I'm even here. You can't rent a studio apartment in Napa for the price I pay for this whole old house where I've raised my children and gone through so many major phases of my life. I want to stay here, it's my home.
I have so many pictures of first days of school taken on this front porch. Stories about how things have moved all by themselves. Memories of how I've felt surrounded by family and alternately completely alone in the world right here under this same roof. This has been my home for a long time, and I like to move around in it.

We're going to move our bedroom to the back again, so our dogs can come in and out at will, and hopefully we'll be able to score a salvaged security screen door that locks to get us through the hot season. This means that we have to completely clean the room Paul just vacated so that LM can move into it, and then we can have a month to move out of our current room and into the back room.

I am already tired from all of this, but I know how rejuvenated I feel when I have a new room even if it's not in a new house.

A property-value assessor is coming today to determine just what this property is worth. There is a newly-hatched idea with pin-feathers that are still wet that we may be able to buy this house, and that the current owner may even carry the paper on the mortgage. I have lived for 14 years on a 30 day time-clock that ticks away, always with the possibility of an eviction explosion when the big hand comes around to the zero.

The owner assures me that this property is not for sale, and if it were I would have first crack at trying to make it mine. I used to have a pile of secret savings toward a down-payment on this or something else, but that was consumed by the petulant, hungry monster that was the failing economy of 2008-2010. There is enough money left to buy a really fantastic hand-gun to play Russian Roulette with if we're asked to leave this property. I'd play with six rounds in the chamber and go first though, if the game was on. Forgive me, I have just spent the last few hours with the most negative person on the planet.

Of course this is not true, but you've found me in a moment of hopeless optimism. I just want this guy in and out of here again, I don't enjoy strangers in my house.

The thought of cleaning my closet is akin to the task of moving a pile of sand from here to there with a pair of tweezers, and that is ahead of me next. Based on results I do not need a day to rest from my normally busy life, because I won't be having one.

This is my story, and I'm sticking with it.