Thursday, August 9, 2012


I feel like I haven't gotten a deep breath in months.  I keep waiting for my chest to rise and then the sweet simple joy of breathing to hit me.  It hasn't.  I've lost the talent to enjoy breathing.  To relish a basic movement of life.

My hands look old in the light of the monitor.  All lines and veins stand out.  I watch myself type these words and wonder if my face reflects as my hands do.  I feel as old as I must look right now.  Sleepless nights only looked dashing when I was 20.  Now, I look just as I feel; sad & tired.

Each month has become an exercise in corset wearing.  Slow shallow breathing; not deep enough to spread the ribs and cause them to creak in pain against the boning.  Not quick enough to cause hyperventilation and loss of consciousnesses.

Corset breathing and a simple mantra of it will be better next month.  This is the fourth month of this mantra and frankly I didn't really believe it in July or the months before.  I hope the mantra is true for September.  Just a little bit better is all I need.  I need a little something to keep up my good faith.

Or maybe I will just go buy a corset.  If I am stuck with the breath, I might as well get the waistline to go with it.


It is August, the other side of April.  It is another month, but for the sheer grace of a beautiful child born in this month, I would wish it to perdition.

August and I have never gotten along.  Frankly, neither have April and I.  They have always been transition months to me and this year has sparked its best battle yet. Transition means change and while I open my arms to change and the challenge it brings, April and August seems to have particular cruelty to their flavor of change.  Except for two beautiful children.  For them alone, I would be happy to suffer Augusts & Aprils all year long, if it ensured their lives.

I am not beaten by the changes that have occurred in my life.  Humbled, devastated with emotions that pour out of me willy-nilly like I am a cracked vase, but the transition months will not win.

I am not new to loss and I am not new to grief.  I have learned to appreciate its talent in coming in waves.  I've remembered how to navigate my own memories and impulses to swim deeply in sorrow. It is one thing to dwell, it is another to drown.

I am not allowed to drown.  Although, I can never live for two, I can do my damnedest to not leave two children with another painful memory and one with an absence of even that.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Do you ever wonder if your chest was cracked open and your heart lifted out if it would be riddled with holes, some that made it all the way through and some that only were noticeable when your heart was held to the light.  Paper thin tissue holding on, perhaps.  I like to think that the paper thin tissues are cracks that have started to heal, but I have a suspicion that they are just marks of steady wear and soon even that sheer bit will be gone.  Maybe this is how people die of heartbreak, their heart is so thin and fragile like coral that one more hole just shatters the complete organ.  Does the the heart ever actually heal or does it simply scab over and harden?  I hope it heals, despite this pain I really don't want a hard heart.  I already have a hard head ;)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Where is my head

I can't seem to pin it down. I am doing the things I need to do to survive.  Baseline is taken care of, but what about more?  This is the goal of my 30's. To learn to move beyond surviving.

I feel 28 again. I have all the strands I need in my hand.  I can keep them from tangling and knotting up.  Now I just need to braid it all together, but I keep stumbling and having to unravel my own mistakes.  Nothing is running smoothly and I am so tired from just hanging on.

I don't want to relive this year, or any past year.  Smacks too close of stagnation.  I dislike this lack of function.  My own capability gaps are widening instead of closing.  This is not what I want.

Damn him, for this tail spin.  Damn him for this regression, for this depression.

I want to be back.  I want back, I want better and I lack the patience to wait.  I guess I need to find the energy to run.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Marta has been living in my head for almost a year now. See Marti (as she prefers to be called) is a character in a story I've been working with off and on.  I was horrible to her, you see.  I killed her love.  Sent him spinning down a mountain with the rest of her theater troupe.  It was cruel, but necessary. The story is about loss of self within grief so strong that reality fades. So to create the environment that would breed such despair, I had to go to such lengths.

Now I am afraid to touch the story.  Afraid that I will lose myself in Marti, and she will lose herself to me.  Am afraid her man will turn into T instead of being someone over there.  I will cry harder then I could imagine when I detail her receiving the news. It's just a bare outline now.  Not because I couldn't bear it, but because I couldn't bother originally.

How cruel I was, to kill off someone so important and not even grace them with detail.

I wonder if that is what holds me back from finishing.  The fear that I will lose my sense of distance.  Lose the last bit of separation between myself and my fiction.

I see her in my head, curled up on the corner of my bed.  She eyes me with curiosity and kindness.  She keeps quiet, plaiting the long grassy strands of our grief together.  Creating blue green baskets to hold all the memories.

We are already intertwined.  What use is fear now?

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I am still angry.  Not at him, though.  At her.

So very much at her.

She was always this distant speck of mild concern.  Someone who could send him into a tailspin with a mere few words.  Which were usually about money she needed.

I knew he didn't talk much, but what I didn't know was how little she listened.  How clear that became in April.  That month of pain so sharp I couldn't breath with it.  Of loss so deep I still can't see the bottom.

I keep trying to understand what gives her the ability to command the last vestiges of him.  To literally throw away pieces of him.  To disgregard so callously those who have loved and treasured him.  Even when he was at his worst, even when he purposely lashed out and distanced himself with cruelty. Isn't that what makes a family?

I suppose she is just following his lead.  He callously disregarded us and left in a horrible manner, but him I forgive.  Would always forgive, could always forgive, because I knew what lived beneath the depression.  The illness that caused him to be blind to those around him.  Created such a world of isolation that he felt there was only one way to escape.

But what is her excuse?  Grief? Grief causes people to act in bizarre ways, I know.  I think the part that keeps coming back and keeping my anger alive is that April seemed to be less about him and more about her.

About how she was perceived, deceived and treated.  Nothing about celebrating the life of her son.  Letting a man she knew he loathed wear his clothes and speak at his funeral. Write his obituary.  The obituary that described someone I barely knew.  That man didn't exist except in her head.

I keep writing obituary after obituary. Wake up with it half finished in my head and I complete it on the way to work. Every morning.  I need to write it out of myself, but a part of me is loathe to even let that go.  I need to.  His birthday is coming up.  Maybe that will be my last present to him.


“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.” - Edna St. Vincent Millay

Friday, April 27, 2012

Puzzle #1

There is this puzzle I am working on. I know most of it very well.  But the older pieces give me trouble.  I remember stories, but they are not the truth.

His mother helped.  Ripped apart pieces of the past that he left.  So I can sit curled over many pieces of torn letters, drawings or anything else that is to be found.  I patch them back up.  Tape it all back together.

I have this hunch, that once it is all done, I will have rebuilt his form.

That is grief's lie.


He is spread out over my apartment.

Bits and pieces in bags and boxes.

Half handed over reluctantly for good image's sake, the rest scavenged at night from the dumpster.

We rescue parts of him

Only parts

Since I couldn't save him whole.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


How many dreams have we given up as we grew up?  Simple dreams like what you wanted to be when you grew up.  Once I became taller then 4' 7" and could no longer be a jockey (no matter that I barely rode before) or when I realized that the majority of professional dancers have been learning how to do so since they were in elementary school and I just realized I would like to be one of the solid gold dancers on TV in middle school.  And, really, I knew the money isn't there for dance lessons.  Or when I realized that I pass out at the sight of blood so the veterinarian dream isn't going to pan out either.

So then I dreamed of the ivory tower, stacks of books and being surrounded by knowledge.  Researching, writing & publishing brilliance, right? Then reality intrudes of day to day living expenses and frankly, unused knowledge really isn't my bag.  Why talk about things when I could go and see how they actually work in real life.

I guess that is how I ended up on this path to be a social worker.  I just hope nobody bleeds on me.

I can't quite pinpoint

Is the caption her declaration of independence?  She needs no one to coddle her, take care of her.  She is only dependent on herself. Was she reminding the person who originally held this photo that she doesn't need them? That she can, she does and she will continue to be her sole protector and caretaker.

Or was this sent on as a benediction of hope?  Independence is a long won battle for her and she is now starting to desire a partner.  Someone to wake up with and dance in the living room with.  Someone to call her baby.  Was this picture sent as an invitation?  Oblique and easily ignored, but not by anyone who wanted to be reminded that she was out there.  And she was not just waiting, she sent out this tendril, this invitation.

Who wouldn't be tempted by that smile?

I like to think that the person who received this missive smiled, sighed and packed all their things. Took a train down the coast and knocked on her door just after supper as she was cleaning up.

She came to the door, helped drag the luggage in and they piled it in the corner of the living room.  Maybe the person turned on the radio and still without a word they simply danced together in a peace that is so rarely found.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why not so tall?

Some nights when I am not feeling well I want to be six again.  I want to be wrapped up in blankets and snuggled with pillows.  I want the weight of someone beside me on the bed or couch and hear their voice as they tell me a story.

I always seem to want this the most when I am alone.  My cat only talks so much.

I would like to hear a story of someone small who grew very very tall.  Thin as can be they, bow and sway with each breeze.  I like the rhyme and rhythm.  Their cadence would be melodic and softly dramatic when needed so I can drift off into sleep.

Small pointed feet dug sharply into the ground so the swaying limbs would not give way.  Long strong hands held on to the gables of the house the child had grown too tall for.

"Can you fold up small?"  Called the child's aunt as the mother lay weeping in the door way.

"Why would I be small, when I can be so tall?" Asked the child in confusion.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Word Disco

I fell asleep reading last night.  Which is highly unusual. The best way normally to keep me from sleeping is reading.  I am currently reading one of those books that seems to have a larger introduction then it does actual book.  I didn't make it through the intro, but I did dream.

Words danced in my head last night. Shimmying around and gyrating their vowels. There was an old fashioned disco in my head with a square patterned floor that lit up when the spindly word feet hit them.  There was a disco ball spinning above, but I was informed that it was actually a period.  There were also disco exclamation points, commas, semi-colons and a question mark.  The question mark kept moving mysteriously about the ceiling.  Randomly appearing brightly lit and flashing neon.  Everybody grooved with anybody. I bebopped alone while you stared longingly at we. 

In my head, I danced with words.  Shimmying and gyrating we moved around the lit up floor as the music gave us a iambic pentameter beat.  I watched myself dissolve from human flesh to written type.  I tumbled apart into all the words that make me up.  My name, desires, wants, needs, fears, memories and anything that I have touched.  I flooded that dance floor with me.  It was packed tight and we danced on.  Falling apart never felt so good.

I woke up this morning sore and cotton mouthed.  I can hear pieces of myself still rattling around in my head.  The bits that haven't woken up yet.  Still lost in the post-dance sleep of exhaustion.  I brushed my teeth extra carefully, so I didn't accidentally wash bits of me out.  They will wake up, find their spaces and fit themselves back in.  The puzzle that is me will be complete again. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cloud Singer

What happens to the people we don't see?  The ones society pretends doesn't exist. 

Today I saw another homeless man on the street. He had such a jaunty way of walking and seemed to be talking into a cell phone.  It wasn't till he passed that I noticed his jaunt was due to a wheeled bag stuffed full of fabric, treasures and wrapped up in torn plastic.  It wasn't till he passed that I noticed his head was cocked to help support his arm that held another bag over his shoulder.  Not to speak into a phone.  He was singing though.  That didn't change.  He had on a good coat and a good pair of shoes.  I wonder how lucky he saw himself to have such.  I wonder how unlucky anyone around me on their morning commute saw him, if they saw him.  Did they see him as I did at first and then dismiss him?  Just another guy crusing down the street jawin' away to someone else. I wondered as I always do, what his story was.

How did he get here?  Where did he come from?  Is he a jazz inspired, Kerouac lovin' throwback to the hitchhiking 50's?  Is he a man, who can create sculptures out of air and has followed his muse to a state with copious amounts of wide open air space to work in.  Maybe he is the creater of the gorgeous clouds that keep me sane in this state. He sings them into being.  The air condensing and forming at his notes.  His voice caresses them into shapes.  Cloud Singer has no fear of the Arizona heat, he calls the moisture to him and revels in the bit of shade he can afford.  He shares with those around him, and leans under trees whenever he can find one.  This is the only man I've seen who walks under a cloud of his own making and he is at peace.

Maybe that jaunty walk is not due to the wheeled bag, maybe that is due to him finding a place so perfectly suited to his talents.  A place where he can sing of his joy and the clouds slowly trundle after him in the sky.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Welcome Home

I am a day late.  I am always late, but usually only by twenty minutes or so.  I’ve got my bag leaning against my leg and am twisting my scarf in my hands.  Standing in front of the porch just looking at the door and I admit I am hoping that somebody will spontaneously come outside, but it is late into the evening and I don’t really expect that to happen.  I gather up my courage and my bag.  Shouldering it, I begin up the steps towards the door.  It seems huge and extremely well locked.  The unwanted question rises in my head.  Will they still want me?  Of course they will want me, I tell myself.  Big breath, of course they want me.  I lift my hand to knock and a flurry of activity sounds from behind the door.  I was right about the door being well locked.  Soon the door creaked open and Ann peaked out from behind it.

“It is you!  I knew it would be you!  Harold said to check the peephole, but I knew!” She crowed stamping her feet like a child.

“Hi Ann, I’ve missed you.” I smiled at the diminutive woman whose voice is much larger then her physical presence.

“Come in, come, it is chilly out there! She practically shouted at me in her excitement.

“Thank you so much for having me. I am sorry about being so late.”

“Oh, honey, don’t worry about it, you are the nomad of the family.  We understand your time schedule may not be as exact as one would expect.  Enough of that, we got dinner for you.”  Ann waved towards the table by the door. “Just dump your bag there for now and we will get some good food in you.”

I felt a bit of guilt at the nomad comment.  If they only knew how true it was. I attempted to keep at least some sort of a semblance of a balanced life for them.  I laughed at myself, no to be honest, the things I do for me.  The portrayal is for me so I won’t feel guiltier about my strangeness, my inability to commit to even an address.  Thank goodness for friends with permanent addresses and post office boxes.

As we walked back to the kitchen, I was seeped in childhood memories.  The grandfather clock that was my best friend still kept time in the living room.  The time showed as 7:30pm.  It wasn’t as late as I thought.  The clock chimed out the ½ hr gong and I paused savoring its dulcet tones.  It wasn’t as loud as I remember, but living in a city will deaden your ears to most noise.

“Hey Ann, quick question for you?”

She turned in the doorway of the kitchen.  “Yes?”

“How did you know I was at the door?  I didn’t get a chance to knock yet.”

“Oh,” she laughed “Marge called from across the street to let us know that there was an “unknown” standing in front of our house.”

She winked at me. “She is new in town so she wouldn’t remember you.”   

I smiled at Ann “I had forgotten what it was like to be in a small town.”

“Yes, well welcome back, Treat.”  She grinned again and said “Come on, food is getting cold and I am sure Harold is quite impatient to see you.

I haven’t been called Treat for years.  When I first came to live with Ann & Harold, Ann would hug me spontaneously and tell me what a treat I was.  Eventually Harold started calling me Ann’s Favorite Treat and that was quickly shortened to Treat.

Pushing through the kitchen door, I was assaulted by the warm smell of Thanksgiving.

“Wait, what?”  I stuttered.

“Well, you’ve missed a few holidays and we know how much you loved your Thanksgiving dishes.  So we decided to make a few.”  Harold smiled as he spread his arms over the bounty of food on the table.

“A few, hmm?  Seems like you can feed an army here?”

“Oh, no” Said Ann, “Not a whole army, maybe the football team though.”

She turned and hugged me. “Oh honey, we’ve missed you so.”

Harold turned and wheeled away from the table.  I kept myself from starting.  I knew he was in a wheelchair now, but I hadn’t seen him since the accident.  He came over and I hugged him.  His arms wrapped around me felt as strong as they did 20 years ago when he would protect me from the ghosts in the closet and the monster in the bathroom.

“Missed you Treat, glad you’ve come home for a bit.”

“Missed you both terribly, I am sorry I stayed away for so long.”

“It’s alright, we still love you’” Harold rumpled my hair and gave me one last squeeze.  “Come on and eat or I will give the football team a call.”

I laughed and sat down.

The Saxophone Player

The man on the corner has been there for days, possibly months.  It’s hard for me to keep track.  He is always in the same bright yellow zoot suit.  Pressed to perfection and his matching hat pulled low over his brow.  I have never seen his face.  He stands in the shadow reflected by the streetlamp, a jar at his feet.  The saxophone he holds in his hands gleams brighter then his suit ever could.  And the low mournful sounds that are drawn out of it cause the passersby to drop coins, then shiver as they walk away pulling their coats tighter around them.  As the night passes, his songs recede to a more breathy cry then music.  I watch as he packs his instrument and picks up his jar to head for where ever he pretends is home.

He is waiting for someone, I know it.  I wonder who she is.  Is she the perfect girlmatch to his zoot suit slickness?  With bow topped heels and a polka dotted dress?  Hair done up in curls and bright red lipstick to mark his cheek with?  Will she waltz up one day and take him by the hand?  Will I get to watch them dance off into the night, see him toss his head back in delight at a whispered comment.  Finally see his face without shadow.
Maybe it isn’t a woman.  Maybe it is a man.  Or a family member or a long lost friend, who he has spend the last few years searching for and now simply hopes the call of his saxophone will bring them home.

For days I ponder this, creating scenario after scenario.  Then one evening, I notice the silence.  His spot in the lamplight is empty.  

River Styx

"Don't forget to pay the ferryman."

"Geez, Mom.  Cut me a break won't you?"

"Pay attention, Samuel!  This is the first trip you are undertaking on your own.  I need you to listen and do as I say when the time comes."

"Mom, it is not that difficult. I am almost a grown man."

"You are nothing, but a tall boy.  You hear me, just a tall child."

"Look, it is not as if I am traveling by myself.  There will be others.  I am sure if something comes up that I am not ready for, I can ask for their help."

"You just can't trust everyone around you.  That is why you are leaving, remember?"

"Yes, I remember, but you need to remember that not everyone is horrible. There are good people, Mom.  I swear it."

"It doesn't feel like it.  It is not fair you having to go."

"Who's the tall child, now?"

"Don't talk like that to your mother!"

"Yes, ma'am.  It will be alright, when I am gone.  You know that don't you?"

"Samuel, it will take time, it must take time."

"Just have hope."

"Agh, enough of this nonsense."  Do you have everything you need?  Do you feel sick at all?  Any strange pains?"

"Yes, no and no.  It will be alright, Mom."

"Fine, fine, fine.  Here are your coins, don't forget to pay the ferryman!"

"Sure Mom, and if I get a chance I will try to let you know I made it safely."

"I know you will honey.  Remember, oh always remember. I love you Samuel."

"I love you too, Mom."

Burnt Out

I have been vacated, sign around my neck.  Love lives here, but she is broken and worn down.  Looking like a cheap hooker in a bad wig and busted heels.  Hoping against all reality, that one day she will be saved.  Resurrected. 

How does one dress up their broken love?  Is there rehab for this?  Or do you give up, take her out back and shoot her.  Bury her corpse in the bottom of your heart. 

I am tired.  Too tired to dig a grave, too tired to even raise my arm to shoot.  So we sit here in this squalid motel room that used to be a heart and stare at each other.  What if there is no her, what if that slinky pose of kicked back on the grimy bed, propped up by her elbows, legs crossed at the ankles is me?  Am I just staring in the mirror?  How did I let this happen?  Looking at my feet I see the broken heels, the frayed straps.  I kick them off and pull off all the clothes.  I pile everything in the middle of that awful bed and set it on fire.  Yank the wig off my head and toss it into the flame.  

I burn my heart clear of this debris.   I will save me.  I will save me.


A copious amount of posts will be popping up soon.  Some for my own comfort that are known to those who know me and perhaps a couple new.  More new will be coming soon.  I am aiming for a weekly update. 


Morning Drive

I watched a man walking toward me on the street today.  He had a soft easy step with his hands in his pockets and arms akimbo.  He seemed so loose and free moving.  I noticed there was something wrapped around his neck.  Scarf? Handkerchief? Hands!  He had a child on his back.  Legs slipped through his arms and arms wrapped around his neck.  The child's face was pressed into his neck.  I could almost hear the child breathing against him.  As the man passed me by, he changed.  The step which was so carefree and happy, slowed and became more of a shuffle.  Jeans torn, layers of sweaters and the child was a backpack. The ends of the arm straps tucked into his front pockets with his hands.  He looked at me solemnly.  I felt so guilty, as if I broke his dream. By simply by seeing him, I brought him back to the reality where his child is gone.  Gone somewhere he is unable to follow.  I broke his gaze, and he continued moving on.  In my rearview mirror, I saw him straighten.  Saw the step grow easy and loose again.  The bag shifted and the child murmured something in his ear. 

We were both happier then.