Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rednexploitation

Damn you, social media. I haven't been able to get my interweb jollies off all day because there's all of this crap about Duck Dynasty. Fine, I'm taking the bait.

A&E, this is all your fault. You are guilty of rednexploitation. 

What did you expect when the tv station formerly known as Arts and Entertainment got offended by its top dancing goon? Honestly, how long did you think this party would last? 

I'm going to be truthful and say that I haven't watched the show but from the formula, I'm thinking a show goes like this:
1) The boys want to go hunt. 
2) Their wives remind them that they have a gala event to support Cajun orphlins or something which requires they get all gussied up in tuxes (ruh-roh). 
3) Tense stares in kitchen/office/ammo room. 
4)Boys go huntin'. For like a minute. 
5) Guilty heart-felt convo about commitment and love. 
6) Boys show up in the Ta-da! nick of time....in cammo tuxes. 
7) Everyone wins. 


Am I even remotely close? 

When choosing a demographic to market a show to, it's important to consider where this cluster of folk settle figuratively in the American family. A&E chose that awkward backwoods cousin that the rest of the family doesn't really take seriously. 

But that yokel cousin is always loads of fun after the booze gets poured and the bonfire cranks. Then everyone just watches and laughs....until (gasp) they start talking about their opinions. The rest of the family, having just been insulted, turns their rigid backs and says something about "that OTHER side of the family." 

When you buy a duck, you get the whole duck. Even the asshole. Deal with it. Unless it is dead, plucked and comes with a side dish, you shouldn't expect it to cater to your wishes. 

So I guess A&E will consider its next show with a little more tact. If you hire someone for their sawed-off, from-the-hip antics, don't expect them to be anything less. 



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Santa 2.0: The Krampus Project

If you suffer as I do, then you know that the threats of "The Naughty List" have worn off over year's of unfulfilled spartan Christmas trees.

Present-free Christmasses only go so far as I can take them. Christmas might be slim at my house, but it's like--well, Christmas everywhere else my spawn might travel. Grandparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have all conspired against the parent who tries to keep their Santa-jaded children in check.

Well, friends, I come bearing a gift for you. This gift is centuries old and made of nightmares.
Meet Krampus.



Krampus is Santa's bastard basement-dwelling step brother who nobody really likes to talk about. But sometimes, when the squids are being particularly ornery and neither threats of Jesus nor Santa will suffice, he's always there.


Krampus was wrenched from the loins of pre-Christian Germanic folklore and looks like Pan after a really rough night of hanging out with Dionysus. Red-tongued, saggy-eyed and  rocking the worst case of bed head imaginable, you'd think just looking at this fella would keep your kids in line. But if that doesn't work (all of these shameful video games have rid these children of visual fear!), just let them in on his seasonal gig.

Krampusnacht: The night before the feast of St. Nicholas (aka Santa), the good St. Nick and his freaky bro take a stroll. Then they knock on doors. St. Nick only pays attention to the good kids and doles out presents (emphasize this point with your own kids, will you?) where as Krampus has an eye for the bratty ones and hands out coal and ruten bundles to beat the kids.

Holy shit, right? Kids getting beat on Christmas?! (Technically, St. Nick's feast is on Dec. 6th in European countries, but you don't have to divulge this tidbit to your spawn.)

But wait: It gets worse. Krampus also carries a basket on his back which he stuffs the truly terrible children into and steals them away to his lair/hell (you pick, it's your threat).

If you think this is bananas, you should see all of the images of the Krampus Parade where folks strut their goat-fur hides and rusty chains and giant horns and red tongues in the street. And if you think that this Krampus figure is scary, I can only imagine how he must have looked centuries ago.

So g'head. Tell your kids this cautionary tale. Just know you may want to give them the watered-down version before freaking them the hell out. Then we'll see who's watered down at 3:30 AM.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

One bitch fit later: A guide to wearing the mom pants.

For the last umpteen years I've worked on getting my shit together. I've worked on being the best damned patron saint of domesticity there is only to watch my doomed ambition gather mold on the bottom of the dirty laundry pile.

And yet I still kept trying to get my shit together. I'm trying, I'd whine on facebook. But it just doesn't seem to be happening! 

My children join me in the gripefest at every opportunity. Whether it is a hangnail or a puzzle piece that doesn't fit or a slow internet connection, my children always seem to have a reason to whine, and quite often, these whine-worthy excuses managed to get them out of random chores.

This is where the chaos is born. From random school/project/craft/library flotsam strewn about the house like some Museum of Horrors. It's okay, I'd think. I'm getting there.

Yesterday my children--nestled within a womb of clean laundry, homework and cereal bowls on the couch--drooled at the laptop movie.  I had three options for dinner. Each, in my spawns' opinion, were equally disgusting. Then there was a pinch, a punch and simultaneous wails.

This is where I lost my shit. This is where I had a bitch fit. It hadn't come about from the endless Glee marathon (though I don't doubt jazz hands were a contributing factor) but from the dull, lifeless and apathetic children I had birthed into this world.

There is a breaking point in some people's lives. It may come when you realize you've ben working as a barista for 12 years. It may come when you wake up on a mattress underneath a bridge. Hell, it might even come when you finally get those lyrics to that catchy-ass song you've been singing. I'm talking about the awakening. That sense of existential clarity. For me, it came out when I realized that my children were spoiled brats with no sense of accountability, and it was all my fault. I was passive. If I was going to get in control, I'd never do it. I had to be in control.

Then, in an instant, I got my shit together. I got in control. No more passive planning. Here are the new rules:

Be accountable for your own shit. Neither of my kids really gave a rat's patootie about their "stuff." Now their "stuff" is in their rooms. Put the hell away. There are no consequences. I did not say, "clean up your crap, or I'm throwing it away." There are options in saying that. I have relinquished my spawn of all options. "Deal with your crap."

School days are tech free. No tv. No Netflix. I was tired of watching my son drool in front of a tv and then freak the hell out when any little thing went wrong. No tv is my way of saying, "wake the hell up, kids!" Also, no facebooking. I wiped my daughter's phone clean of all texting and so-net apps. And just to prove that I'm not just some harsh Trunchbull of a woman, I deleted the so-net apps from my phone, too. Now we all have to deal with each other.

I killed the magical house-cleaning fairy. I killed her hard. I'd bury her if it weren't none degrees fahrenheit outside. The house will not clean itself until one o'clock in the morning. The house will not provide fresh laundry to sit upon. The house will not do dishes. We no longer have chores because chores too often earn payment which is an option. There are no options. We have responsibilities now. There is no "if they don't get done."

"You're welcome." Food no longer has names like "chicken alfesto" or "cosmic pizza" or "the-most-amazing-effing-caesar-salad-ever." The food on the plate stands as the only option...apart from bedtime (note: I instagram dinner now should I need evidence in a court of law later). Food is a necessity. Good food is a luxury. Whether the kids decide my consumables are the former or the latter is up to them. Not. My. Problem.

So far, so good. As soon as the rules were uttered, my kids shaped the hell up. Maybe it was the practical application of a few clear-as-crystal swear words. Maybe it was the lack of options. Whatever the case may be, the kids took a deep breath, calmed down and dealt with the new rules. We did not watch tv tonight. We did, however, win the hell out of playing puzzle.

Maybe I'm being a mean ogre of a mom. Whatevs. I'm a mean ogre of a mom in control of my shit. 




Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Six Little Girls

There is a sheen of glitter coating every surface in my house. Every time I attempt to dust it away, the air is filled with disco lights twinkling everywhere. I live in my own personal snow globe. I blame the tweens.

Friday after school, an entire herd of hormone-addled little girls descended upon our meager little home. The house was so nervous it trembled under their footfalls. 

Six little 11 and 12 year-old girls giggled and screamed. Six little girls went to run errands around the property when one could have gotten the job done. Six little girls shared secrets that were not for me. And still, I tried to hear them. They ran in herds through the mist in the woods, but their ruckus broke through all of it and the entire Pacific Northwest heard the tell-tale sounds of a slumber party. 

Makeup and cupcakes and secrets are passed around at a breakneck pace. Glitter is applied to lips, cheeks, hair and carpets. The girls make their own pizzas and ask for wifi passwords and hug and giggle--no time for crying or whatever the hell these girls do when they aren't giggling or applying makeup. 

Six little girls walk the fine line between their childhood and becoming women. 

I watched them with intense curiosity. My ears strained for every hushed syllable. Let them be, I kept telling myself. Just let them be. But I simply couldn't. They are at this magical time in their lives and they want to be older--to act older and be taken seriously from the world that wants to keep them children for as long as they can. 

In the world, their names and faces are just a handful out of millions in their same age category. In the world they are just statistics. But it's the statistics that keep gumming up my brain. One in three girls....

One in three girls will experience some form of sexual or physical violence in their lifetime (mostly occurring between 15 and 25). One in 14 girls will become pregnant while still in their teens. One in four girls will not graduate highschool. 

I look at these bright-eyed and hopeful little girls and I think about these numbers. I don't want to see these beautiful babies as just statistics. I want to see their futures with as much optimism as the next. Just let them be our babies for a little bit longer. Just let them be wrapped up in our community with as much love as they will tolerate, and then just a little bit more.

The cacophony whirled about the house and just when I thought I might become deaf or overdose on fingernail polish fumes, my support staff arrives. Like the magi, three women walk through my door bringing hair tinsel and henna and glitter and adult conversation. 

In an instant, the night took on a different purpose. These fairy Godmothers--business owners and artists and performers--began doodling on soft and young skin, creating glittery rivulets of color. They tied hair tinsel into each hormonal mane. The grown women did not whisper. We spoke loudly and with clarity and unapologetic truths. We talked about art and new projects and travels all around the world. We talked about complex relationships and identity. The little girls' ears did not have to strain, but they listened. 

They listened to the experience of strong women. They listened to testimony from women who had risen from the trenches of adolescence. They listened to our dreams and our accomplishments. At least, I hope they did. 

These women rescued me. They offered so much more than even the six little girls will ever know. What my friends gave the tweens was strength, caring, and example. My sisters acknowledge that it's community support that can help fend off dire statistics and came together to assist the little ones in their own personal emergence. 

So maybe these little girls won't become globetrotting entrepreneurs. Maybe they won't be artists. It's not our job to tell them what to do. But in modeling the idea of a strong and independent woman, we've given them a little more of what they need in life. 

For now, we can't do much for them. We can just give them love and let them be. 

Painting is by Libyan artist Awad Abeida 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rutting Season, Year Two: The Cat Lady's Secret Revealed.

Last year I wrote an in-depth expose on small-town dynamics in the Rutting Season where I chided those feeble-minded bonobos of the valley for "hooking up" with unassuming partners. I thought that these poor, single ruralites simply failed to keep their biological tendencies in check.

"Ha!" I scoffed as I walked sololy into the local watering hole this last weekend. "Just look at all of these folks trying to find a suitable bed warmer!"

I was supposed to walk into that bar and watch all of the woodsman figure out which single vixen would be whiskeyed away to their burley bagua. I was. But I couldn't over the din of my own personal biological clock ever-so-gently banging the gong.

In the store the other day while I perused the Thai food section, my son sweetly and discretely bellowed, "MOM, WHY DOES YOUR BODY WANT TO HAVE MORE BABIES?"

I almost couldn't hear him over the whoosh of humiliation throbbing in my ears. (Note: Children obviously DO hear your conversations with your mother after your second glass of wine.)

The biological urge to mate and fork and knife and spoon and make babies apparently does not leave once you have shat forth the next generation as one would assume. It wells up and continues to haunt you well after you've declared you're done spawning.

"Why?" I shout to my womb in my best navel-gazing pose while I jangle my gold retirement watch. "I've delivered two reasonably attractive children into this world! What more do you want from me?!" ::Then shouting to the heavens::"What's wrong with me?!"

Oh yeah. Right. 


I sat at the bar and watched the flocks of happy people making a ruckus over their beers and noticed something: There were no single people in the bar. They all came with their equally jovial counterparts. I did the math. Everybody came out even. Well, except for me. And then I took a further step back and checked out the entire valley. Out of all the single girlfriends I've made over the years, I was the last one solo. They all managed to find partners of some kind or another. Hell, it seems like everyone has either a hunk of meat in their bed or at the very least a slab of something on the side.




And now it's rutting season, but there's not much rutting going on.  It just so happens to be that this one is a little slimmer than the rest.

And to make matters even more bitch-worthy, I got a call. The three-legged cat (whom I already named Emily Dickenson) has already been adopted. Yes, she slipped between my purr-starved, one-cat's-not-enough fingers. 
 Consoling my greedy cat-needing self, I realized that I needed to suck it up, go on without my beloved Emily Dickenson and get another damned cat.

Until I realized something terrifyingly astonishing. I will preface said epiphany with a factoid.

My daughter recently taught me how to age a pine tree. Pine trees grow a tier of branches for every year that they survive. 

It's only logical to assume that for every year a single woman survives the rutting season she acquires a new cat. So you know that crazy old lady with a brazillion cats on your street? Yup. She's prolly been single a brazillion years, poor thing.

I think of this girl in the infancy of her crazy cat lady phase.



She's got so much to offer the cat world.


So, I'm at a crossroads. What do you do when you see the next step in your life? There are a few things that I've clarified to myself recently:1) I won't stoop to whatever's available. 2)I'll not allow myself to dive into the depths of kitten-induced euphoria because we all know that it's laced with the stench of desperation....and cat piss. 

So what the hell is there left to do? What the hell do we do? (royal "we," I assume. I hope).

We trudge the hell forward, that's what. We continue on in our pursuits of careers and child-rearing (if applicable) and supremacy over the deviant mass that is the laundry. 

We stifle the biological gong with pie.

 Sure, it sucks. But the options, being scant, aren't worth the sacrifice. I'll get over this rutting season new cat or no new cat.

Allz I can say is thank gawuduh for pinterest.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hello Freak!

I came home a little late today. I had planned to write about the best children's Halloween stories tonight and went to the bookstore where my favorite bookstore owner and I talked comic books and other nerdly things. I didn't know I had a wounded little girl at home.

She was a little quiet. Tomorrow's Halloween, so I'd only thought she was busy thinking about her costume--she'll be going as Wednesday Addams.

Then she told me about the incident at school.

"Hello Freak!" was scrawled acrossed her nametag when my daughter got to class today. It's simple, but this little bullying brat-hole was unaware of what they did to my daughter.

They, the bullies of the world, don't know what they really do when they use these words. They don't know the power. They don't know that these words, words intended to hurt, actually live on throughout our lives. They are burned into our selves like tattoos we do not ask to have. These words grow like monsters  just under our skin and attach to our vulnerable self-confidence where they become parasites, eating away at our worth.

"Hello freak!" are the words that bring to mind people in cages, marginalized from the rest of society. As an outspoken and often unapologetically odd grown up, I've come accustomed to these types of words and wear them with pride. But this isn't about me.

This is about an 11 year-old girl in the throes of hormoneville. Your first ride with hormones is like riding a mechanical bull in your underwear in front of the world. All you can do is simply hang on. But it becomes harder when the hot branding iron of hurtful words comes in to stab at you.

The bullying thing is sometimes too hard to bear for these kids. And what can they do to protect themselves? I do not want her to fight back. We've tried "saying something nice" to each bully in hopes that it would pacify them in some way. No good. Kindness is often misconstrued as weakness, from our impirical investigation.

Telling teachers does not work. They are simply too used to these words and often forget what it was like when they were that age (note: If you are a teacher who stands up to these types of words, you have my kudos. I'd love to know which class you teach and how you fix this type of thing. Seriously. I know that this is a generalization, but until I am proved wrong, this is the only logical explanation I can come up with.).

After my daughter told me how hurt she felt. "Yanno, the freaks, nerds, dweebs, and geeks are the ones who change the world," I said. "They make the impact. They affect the way others see the world, and it's because they are different, they aren't burdened by being normal."

This works a little to change her spirits. We go through the list of bullied nerds through history. Bill Gates, Neil Gaiman, Tina Fey, Ben Stein, Einstein, Wes Anderson, Tim Burton, Joss Whedon. They made today what it is because they weren't hindered by normalcy. (Plus, they're mega rich.)

We have found only one steadfast approach to these types of bullies. Whenever my daughter is told nasty things from bullies, she goes to that one place, 20 years down the road...She's running late for a flight to (my daughter says London for the 70th year anniversary ::mega nerd trump!::) so she stops by a McDonald's. There, at the counter is her bully. All her bully can say is, "would you like fries with that?"

This is how we get through our bullying. This is how we deal. It may not be the best strategy, but it is ours and this vision empowers her and gives purpose and pride to who she is, and moreso, to who she will be. My daughter sees this moment clear as today and gets back to reading a comic, smiling.

We work so incredibly hard to make our children individuals, I'd hate to have something like "Hello Freak!" get in the way of progress. And today, we won.

Hurt today, fries tomorrow.



Lest we forget....

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Body Shame: "Reduce" and the "Shrinking Woman."

I received an email from a dear friends, Cinda Johnson, co-author of Perfect Chaos this morning. It was a link to a video that has been circulating for days but I hadn't taken the meager three minutes to watch.
I watched it. Again and again.

Typically my lunch break consists of numbly drinking coffee and reaping the day's internet harvest. Today I was torn out of numbness. Feel this, the slam poet Lily Myers dared me. Feel this.


Her mother is shrinking, Lily Myers says. Her mother sneaks small bits of "calories to which she does not feel entitled to." We absorb, she says. We filter. But essentially, we feel the shame of our existence within the world and strive to make it smaller.

The mother, the woman, the person we all know from either observation or experience, feels this anguish. Over decades I watched my own Great Grandmother whittle down to a lilliputous white-haired child perched on her large reclining chair. On my Grandmother's 80th birthday, with all of her dearest friends around to celebrate, she was nearly giddy about her new pants. "There a size 8, you know." She became tiny, too.

When my Grandmother was my age, women did not diet. They "reduced."

"Just a small sliver," my mother said as we cut cake at the birthday party. Perhaps she felt as though she were not deserving of a whole piece? Or perhaps she knew that her jeans would fit better if she were more frugal with her sugar. She, too, is concerned. I don't want my mother to reduce.

My mother also wakes up at three in the morning, every morning, and worries. She worries about my children, whether they are getting through hard times at school. She worries about whether there will be enough coats to go around. She worries about the world.

But how can we fix the world? How can a single person fix every trauma and problem and end every atrocity in the world? Because there are some really terrible things going on that we have no control over and we wish we could do something to heal and alter and quell and fix.

But we can't.

There is a feeling not of hopelessness but impotence. I feel impotent. I cannot fix all the broken in the world. And in this impotence, I feel ashamed--ashamed for not being able to change the world for the better--for not having control over the state of the world.

The only thing that I truly have control over is myself and my body. And there is a shameful amount of comfort in knowing this. There is comfort in dealing with body issues.

I have sounded like my mother. I have said that I am not deserving of a full piece of cake. I have believed that coffee is an adequate substitute for nourishment. I have reduced my potential to the sole task of fitting into size 8 pants.

But I don't want my daughter to be reduced to a waifish old woman. I don't want her to see this impotent shame that lurks underneath my skin and writhes and I call it flab or cellulite or "ugh." I want her to roar. I want her to fill a room with her potential and believe, truly and completely believe, that she is capable of making changes that exist beyond her flesh. I want her action to supercede her image. I want my daughter to be large.

And so we eat. We eat and we discuss the problems that would keep us up at three in the morning. We scheme. We empower each other and build our strength and make it a contagion which seeps through school classrooms and art projects and chance meetings in the grocery store. We grow. We broaden our shoulders and flourish in spite of our Great Grandmothers and Grandmothers who tried so successfully to reduce.

In my mother, I see a cycle straining to break. She heals the world one human at a time through nursing. It was in her didactic efforts that I learned that one person can provide hope and fix the world. She is not impotent nor does she wear size 8 pants. In her I learned not to be reduced by shame.


Thank you, Lily Myers, for your art and your bold, unapologetic sharing. 

To learn more about Perfect Chaos and Cinda Johnson, click here

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hippy Christmas.

Okanogan County, located in North Cental Washington, is not known for its glamour or turbulent history or anything interesting. Hell, the majority of the world will continue ticking away without ever knowing of its very existence. But nestled in the Tonasket highlands, far away form peering eyes, a mass of counter culture throbbed like a heartbeat this weekend.

Barter Faire celebrated its 40th year this weekend as vendors and buyers ascended the steppe. Each year the faire grows and an estimated 10.000 people from all over WA and beyond make the annual hajj. Artists, artisans, junkers and food vendors begin arriving on Thursday to set up camp and the Faire opens Friday morning. By Saturday, the hay-laced paths are teeming with semi-naked children and fairies and gypsies and steampunks and old wise shamanic hippies.

My daughter is a Barter Baby. Her first Barter Faire was on her due date. Me and my partner at the time had a booth and we set up, not knowing how long we would be up at the faire. She was patient, thanks for asking. We attended every BF until we moved to Alaska four years later.

After our long hiatus, I figured that everything would have changed. I was right. And wrong.

The sense of wonder never fades. Happy hippies great and smile at you from every direction. The echoed cries of "Barter Faire!" are met and passed on through the crowds. People wish you a happy Barter Faire as if it were some grand holiday. But really, it's kind of like hippy Christmas. It's where you can find anything you weren't looking for at the moment but need. Contrarily wise, if you are indeed looking for one particular item, you experience the dreaded illness of "Barter Blindness."

One of many hippy caravans. 
We found some books at a booth where the vendor was brains-deep in an art project where he assembled the random bits and tchotchkes of his bedraggled wears-blanket into a giant form that wiggled in the breeze. We asked for the books. "Whaddya got?" He asked.

This year, we hadn't brought bartering gadget or doodads or trinkets or nosh to trade. My daughter said, "you like food? How about some apples?"

The man smiled with his teeth hiding under a mass of mustache. He tipped his top hat and along with our mythology and Tolstoy we went hunting. After nearly 30 minutes of perusing the market, we realized the apples had been hidden. "Barter blindness," I told my daughter.

We gave up on our quest and settled for trading some oatmeal cookies from a bakery/taxidermy/tool shop with our goods. We found the apples in the booth next door.

But that is the way of the Barter Faire. It is an imp with a mischevious mind of its own. It will swallow friends up whole until you've nearly given up looking for them and will finally spit them out right in front of you, beaming and dripping with goodies.

The Barter Faire is a sneaky one. And there are rules:
1) You will never make money at a Barter Faire. You will come out even. You will go home happy and fulfilled, but you will never roll in dough.
2) You will lose yourself/whomever you are there with. You will find yourself. Your friends will find themselves. Your faith in humanity will be taken away and then restored with one breath.
3) You will need to use a honey bucket. It will be unpleasant. You will only add to the unpleasantness of the honey bucket. This is commonly known as "Barter butt"--a hippy Montezuma's revenge--that is most often experienced after an indian taco. The indian taco wafts through the air and is a siren's call for your gut. It will become your undoing.
4) Be weary of homemade baked goods sold at the Barter Faire. Look for the "child friendly" versions of food. Weed is a featured ingredient found in most baked goods, goo balls, pumpkin creamcheese rolls, and granola. And tinctures. And oils. And smiles.

The drug culture of the Barter Faire cannot be hidden. It is present. My daughter learned what pot smells like this weekend. It is, however, much more safe in that the security forces have made it so people do not smoke pot openly. Fortunately, as pot is now legal, the security volunteers waste much less time on pot and focus more on the other illicit drugs. They were much less apparent this year.

Little Fairies of Haven
Of all the Barter Faires I've attended, this one felt like it was the most kid-friendly and the most safe. The focus on family (along with the name change to the Okanogan Family Faire, though nobody calls it that) truly shined through this year. Beautiful children played in Child Haven where they could take parts in crafts or talent shows or storytelling in the tipi or just frolick with all of their newly made friends.


Strategically across from the Haven was the most phenomenal booth ever: Blissful Wunders Confectionery Chocolats'. Bliss stood behind tables piled high with gorgeous truffles. He wore a top hat peppered with pins and buttons. He offered a smile along with a small, flat pure chocolate chip.



Bliss, the Hippy Willy Wonka
Bliss redefined how I conjure up Willy Wonka in my mind. He is no longer a tall and quirky Gene Wilder. He is big, bold and speaks like he was plucked from the Bronx. But his language is what made me realize that chocolate is magic. He talked about how he'd add lavendar to his mint truffles to create a balanced flavor. He talked about how flavors mingled with ingredients in a refined chocolate experience.

Cracking the shell of my pomegranate wine truffle was like knocking on the door to extacy. The truffle melted into my tongue and brought me more joy than I've ever experienced from food. I almost blushed at my completely hyper-sensual experience in front of this Trippy Hippy Willy Wonka. He smiled like the expression on my face was a familiar one. He raised his hands into the air and chuckled, "I ship to everywhere!"

Here is his website: blissfulwunders.com.

Strangely, the next euphoric moments seemed to pass unnoticed. I was swallowed up by Barter Faire and spit out right in front of the main music stage where "Mighty Lions" played reggae into the dusk. We danced, my children and I, under the haze of woodfire and dust. My previous partner (aka Dad of my babies) watched us happily as he fell victim to the indian taco.

We danced, me, my daughter, and my breakdancing son. We spun and hopped and smiled together. A man, noticing my son's breakdancing (thrashing on the ground), he clapped and laughed and taught my son some more moves. I thanked the men who thanked me back.

We were connected with every person in front of the stage. But in the larger perspective, we'd become connected to all the other 10,000 weirdos, hippies, wackos and wild spirits within our proximity. We came to celebrate the union of creative people and alternative thinkers. And as the moon rose above the giant festival, we became as full as she was, shining brightly over valley. And filled with the goodwill and love for our fellow humans, we left the Barter Faire, completely filled with the spirit of Hippy Christmas.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Anatomy of a Story

Being raised by artists isn't always easy. Especially when they are really right all the stinking time.
My fiction MFA sample was done. Done as in DONE, slap a stamp on it done. It's already in some crazy esoteric prof's cold and soft fingers done. I gotta be honest: I wasn't worried at all. "I GOT this," I said, lulling myself to sleep this morning at 2. I felt really good about it. 
But tonight, when I offered my story up to my father, with his paint-stained hand, his spackle-bedazzled flannel and his opened sudoku book, I was nervous. And I had every reason to be. 
My father, much like John Wayne, has two facial expressions. John Wayne could play a character two ways: Hat on or hat off. My father reads my work wearing one of two faces: The first is eyebrows dancing and eyes laughing and his nose twitches ever so subtly. The other is head down, eyebrows wrinkled, mustache crumpled. There is always a pencil in his hand when he reads like this. 

Tonight, I received the furrowed reading. 
Shituh. 

When he's done reading like this, he looks at me like what he is about to say will hurt. I'm sure it's a shared sensation. 

"It's okay. The writing is nice, but it doesn't mean anything. What's the point?" 

Sunuhva. 

When you write, most say "write the bones." Write the outline. But that's not enough. Your story needs tendons and ligaments and muscle and flesh. And feet. 

I had forgotten the feet. 

I had forgotten the universal truth--the sole (sorry for the stupid pun) purpose for writing or reading a story. It grounds the entire piece so that it culminates in an "aha!" moment where shit all gets tied together. It's where the reader's heart gets tangled up in our story. In the reader's mind they are running naked through the streets shouting "eureka!!" The meaning sings to you. 

Yes, friends, the feet sing. 

This is not my first footless rodeo. In college, I'd write these lovely little vignettes for my writing instructors. One had a chronic problem where every time I'd see him he'd ask, "but what does this mean? What are you saying?"  
I felt voiceless in my professor's office. How can you be a writer if you have nothing to say? 

That same sensation washed across me today in front of my father. I tried not to let my disappointment show.

I took it like a man--a man that hasn't slept in days and has a tummy ache and a hangnail. 

So, I'm starting back at the beginning,or rather, the ground. Starting at zero words after a month of wrangling all the wrong ones. Starting at the feet and working into bones and flesh and pulsing veins and voluptuous thighs and big pouty lips. 

Here's to beginnings. Again and again. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

It's always late.

It's 11:11, and I am tired. The rewrites continue to be rewritten again and again. After a long day of work and mothering, nothing sounds better than a cup of tea, maybe a book, and bed.
But that won't happen tonight. 
What happens late at night is beyond addiction. I am taking a small break from writing at the moment. And what do I do? Write a blog. 
Why? WTF's the point? Why can't I just go to sleep or fall hopelessly into a tv show and watch every episode back-to-back like all the normal folk?
It's simple really: I need to make money and I also need to write. 
I am fortunate enough to have a steady job. It's tedious, but what gets me through it is the dreaming. While I sort beans all day (literally, I'm a production assistant at a coffee roasting plant) I get to dream up fantastic characters and then conjure up all sorts of trouble for them. 
So when I get home, after soccer and theatre and basketball and school functions, when all the world becomes soft and drowsy, I purge my mental guts out onto paper and then onto the computer. 
Sleep will happen eventually. Some day I'll get the recommended daily dose. Not tonight. Even still, I am happy and hopeful. 

Okay. Back to the rewrites. 



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dead flies: A Love Poem.

There are exactly three flies 
Left in the Methow Valley.
One sits on your window sill. 
It lounges on the dust 
You've been meaning to get to. 
It rises slowly and taunts 
Its wings heft the couch potato--
A procrastinator. 
He should be dead,
If not for the abundant food 
He'd have kicked last night,
But his heart just wasn't into it. 

The other two float in my coffee.  
As the morning sunk its teeth 
Deep into the day, the cup
Left abandoned in a search for socks
Which may or may not match. 
They saw the tepid opportunity. 
They did not choose wine--
The romantic approach.
They just looked at each other,
Shrugged, and hung heads low. 
"Not another Monday," 
And got the job done in no time. 

I imagine them holding hands. 
Not wanting to go it alone. 
Into a cup 2/3 full of liquid muse. 
We should be so lucky.  To find 
That worthy pairing in the world. 
But really, all love aside
With the population of flies--
They were just lucky enough 
To find someone
Anyone. 
Good enough to share their last
Moments over a cold cup of joe. 


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Local Spectacle--Jazz Hands for Life's Mundanity.

Here I am again. Blogging about me and all of that. I'm not sure whether y'all get tired of me talking about me. I do. But it doesn't really stop me, now, does it?

So, on Sunday, a few short hours after Whidbey Island MFA residency opened up their applications for non-students, I applied. In under 48 hours I was "enthusiastically ACCEPTED." Yes, it really was in all caps. Yes, the word "enthusiastically" was used. I did a little dance in my car after work. Okay, I danced a little more than I usually do, but now that I am a local spectacle I'm all right with working it whilst driving. That's what being a multitasker is all about.

I am a spectacle in this valley. There are a handful of us, and we all know eachother. We have a handshake. It resembles a wink/shake/nod/hug/kissykissy-on bof' cheeks. We are the ones who entertain the mini-masses within this little area. We play music or DJ or dance or perform standup or act or help put on fundraisers/parties/art shows. We are the ones who drag the good members of this community from their homes after a long day's toil. But yanno what? It's necessary, people.

Without the arts scene in this valley you would be B-O-R-E-D. You'd resort to watching Jersey Shore or Snarky Girls or YouTube videos of video-game-playing basement-dwellers who provide their own commentary and even have Hitchcockian convos with their imnaginary mothers a la Norman Bates (I have a daughter and she is b-o-r-e-d with me so she watches this kind of thing).

It's the art scene that drags you out of your doldrums and unruts your life. It's needed.

Tonight I damned near fell out of my dress on stage while dancing with a poor teen from the crowd. And this was after I can-canned and flipped my ruffled rump to the crowd....

As it happened, I was unaware that there would be children in the front row. PS- If you take your child to a Broadway musical review, you should probably be aware that there are only so many child-appropriate musicals in the world. To you, dear watcher-of-the-arts-with-your-spawn, I commend you. You are giving your children an early cultural education. Kudos. On the other hand, if you're offended by musicals and dancing and a little (more than this cooler season should allow) cleavage, well I'm sorry. I hadn't intended on the show being THAT expository.

But this is what we have to do. We have to show folks what being goofy is all about. And sometimes life can be boring, monotonous, mundane, or (dare I say it) a downright bummer.
And then here we are--the jazz hands on life's mundanity.

I should be embarrassed to acknowledge myself as a local spectacle. But I'm not. This is what is so fun about this precious little valley has to offer: They support the quiet, the loud, the smart, the needy, the confused, the people who need an extra dancer for their piece at the last minute. We see a need in this community and we fill it in our own little ways. Mine just happens to be a bit goofier than others.



Yup. We are goofy (Me and the beloved DJ Joe Pop at the KTRT benefit)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Five Years.

I was notified today that my Writing.com account celebrated its five year anniversary.

This sort of blew my mind.

Five years ago today was the first time that I had plugged into a search engine "writers' support" like I was in desperate need of a hotline that would rid me of this insatiable habit. It started with my first new computer in a strange new place (New Iberia, LA) where I was alone with my children for a good portion of time. We had no internet.
So in the middle of the day, when my one year-old was sleeping and my five year-old off at school and our meager belongings were righted in their places, I wrote a title.

What Makes Magnolia Puke?

It was a game that we had chosen to play to lighten the mood after my daughter's life-long delicate stomach issues had yet to resolve themselves (five years later, she is much better, thank you).

I had no intention of moving beyond the one simple question. But later in the day, I had written another title. And then another until the page was full of the one-line statements arranged themselves in a non-sequitor poem on the blinking white screen.

I left the page alone for weeks.

Then one night, after the children were in bed I wrote my first story about Magnolia. And I laughed at the silliness of it all. I peeked through the windows because I was embarassed about clicking away on the computer with no particular agenda. If someone would have knocked on my door, told me that I would go to college for English (English?! You've GOT to be shittin' me.) and spend the majority of the next five years working on some great process of becoming a writer, I would have scoffed and choked on my Jameson Egnogg Coffee cocktail.

Not me, I would have said, tipping my head a little lower. "I'm just a mom."

"I'm just a mom" was my token excuse for years. It helped me get out of being accountable for my dreams and passions. It was the easiest way to overlook potential. But even being "just a mom" couldn't really help me overcome this storytelling compulsion. I'd write my nightly story, usually about the eccentricities I noticed in others, and tuck them away on my desktop and resume motherhood. It became my shameful indulgence. I regarded my stories in the same way one regards being a closet smoker or drug addict. But I kept going.

Within a year, I emailed my mother a story. I remember my stomach twisting in some unexplainable horror when I sent it. It was too close to who I was, and I really didn't feel comfortable with sharing that. My mother became my worst enabler (and remains so to this day). I couldn't help it. Letters to words to thoughts strung webs through my brains until there was nothing left to do but release them onto the back of a bill or an old piece of homework or my wrist. I began pulling over mid-commute to drop a few mischievious words that, though they were probably strange bedfellows, looked good together. Writing made my daughter late for school on more occasions than I'll admit.

Then on October 1st, 2008, I realized that this love affair with writing was unavoidable and needed to be dealt with. Five years ago today.

And today--tonight--I sit at a computer with notbooks stacked up to my eyeballs full of stories and thoughts. The dishes still need cleaning. The living room is a wreck. And instead of switching over the laundry, I had to stop and spill out a few extra words rambling around in my head.

Five years ago, I had an addiction. It was a fiery, fearless and whimsical idea that I could get away with writing a few stories here and there and never share them, never let anyone know what I was doing into the wee small hours of the night, never need to write another story. I could stop when I wanted.

And now I cannot stop, nor do I want to. There are many days where I write long exciting stories that make me sway and smile in my office chair. Many of these days I simply tuck the stories way into an obscure drawer safe from criticism. These are my babies who you will probably never meet. They are far too fragile and too dear to offer up to other eyes, but the eyes aren't really important. It's the sacred space of communicating the subjective world. I am witness to my beloved friends and family and strangers, and every night I bear witness to the world.

In five years, I have honored this love of stories. In five years I have grown. And maybe someday I will stop writing altogether. But what I can tell you now, friends, is that today is not the day.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sisters.

In all honesty, it is a wonder how either me or my sister survived our childhood. We were positively wretched to each other.
Granted we did not arrive to adulthood unscathed--I still feel mentally inferior to everything on two legs while my sister probably has patches of hair still missing or perhaps she's developed an irrational fear (perhaps rational) of slugs being dropped down her swimsuit--but in thegrand scheme, we survived (and neither of us can afford therapy which is probably the reason we just chose to soldier on).
But in all the terrible experiences, we had truly good moments as well.
I remember how we'd spend countless car trips reenacting our favorite death scenes. Taking turns fading into eternal slumber, our eyes would roll back and flicker and with our last living breaths we'd say our labored final words.

One of us was better than the other, mind you. One of us is now a professional actress in Seattle and teaching at a schmancy art school. The other one lives in a trailer by the river and still has yet to perfect artfully playing dead...no matter how many Saturday mornings I work on it.

Over the last fifteen years the two of us have barely occupied the same room. This is not (entirely) because we dislike each other or disagree about everything and fight like sisters, but because we are just so damned busy.

But this weekend I had the blessed opportunity to visit my sister in her natural habitat: Capital Hill, Seattle, WA, also known as "civilization." Less than a block from the bustling Broadway, I took my children hither and thither with the aid of my wonderfully giving little sister.

She took us to her band practice, a punk band that covers show tunes called Argentina Weeps. They were magical. I knew (almost) every word and sang them proudly....not that anyone would know. My son, less experienced with ear-splitting punk, assumed the fetal position in his sister's lap, his hands over earplugs in ears. He puts the "feral" in "feragile." Okay, maybe that was just concocted at this moment, but you get the picture.

My sister and I went to dinner. It was perhaps the first dinner hermana a hermana in ever (literally). We caught up on our lives. And really it was more like an introduction. This was not the bratty girl who'd fall to the ground and blame me for hitting her. This was not the fresh-chested sophomore in highschool I had last lived with. This was a woman. A beautiful, and capable woman whom I am truly lucky to have as a sister. She's smart, not a smart-ass. She's graceful, not a gangly, awkward teen. She is hitting her stride, and I'm fortunate that I get to see her (even if it is just a few times a year) in action.

We met up with a girlfriend later, a girlfriend whom I haven't spent a whole lot of time with in 12 years. She is now friends with my sister. We all laughed and walked hither and thither around Capital Hill, chatting and catching up.


And in all of the glorious moments of the evening, my favorite was the walks spent giggling with one another, learning each other for the first time as grownups.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Mother Awards.

I wrote my Academy award acceptance speech when I was eight. I believe that I recieved it when I performed a stirring reenactement on "Neverending Story" where I played the lead, Atreyu, while standing in a radio flyer with my sleeping dog tied to the handle.
The crowd was silent--too moved for words--after my performance (the minor detail being that my audience, said pooch, was alseep). I never knew what happened to that award speech, but I imagine that the delicate words, scrawled on the even more delicate toilet paper, drifted into the ether.

We are all famous when we are eight. We come home with prizes and awards when we are children (all except for the award for sitting quietly in class which was given to the girl that is probably winning the Nobel Peace prize today).

Today, the mothers of the world take home far more interesting prizes. Just today, I was given an award. The trophy looked like a tall, slim gray angel. It was the "dirtiest soccer sock in the world" award, granted to me by my daughter. "Look what I found!" she said as she triumphantly yanked the all-but lost petrified thing out from under the car seat. "I can't believe it!"

Neither could I, because I was given a similar award not two weeks prior. On the bright side, the car smells less like death and sweat-socks now.

Another or my accumulating mother trophies is the "your child finally remembered to bring home their lunchtime tupperware award" or as I affectionately call it, "the trojan horse."  This one sits on the back porch like a shining land mine. "DON'T TOUCH IT!" I screamed to a girlfriend who came by a few days ago. "It's either a trophy, or a land mine."

Just yesterday I recieved the "next person to clean the dog" award. As Rover came trodding over to me, dumb smile skidded acrossed his face, I knew there was something wrong. Being downwind of him, primed me to the honor I was about to receive.

I'm also up for the sock-matching award, the kitty-litter award and the peeling-clothes-out-of-the-bottom-of-the-hamper award.

So tonight, I gave myself a you-made-it-through-the-day award. It was not crusted with sweat or a damp shoelace knot. Oh, no. This trophy resembled a large glass that was filled with wine. Sometimes we deserve these shining moments worthy of celebration. My cat was kind enough to grant me yet another award for the day. "No, thank you," I said, nearly overwhelmed with the kudos and accolades I had already received throughout the day.

Too late. I'm already dealing with the "clean the wine off the couch" award.

Someday, I'll begin work on that speech again.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The County Fair.


As American as an eagle eating an apple pie, the county fair has long been a staple of the rural dweller. The annual haaj takes place in the usual fashion--once landed in the sea of semi-orderly dirt parking lots, we follow the wafting smells of manure and sweet fried things. Folks in cowboys boots and bedazzled jeans fall into step with us on our trek to the almighty gates where some geriatric Kiwanis member, adorned in all their polyester glory,  smiles, whisps away a day's income, stamps out hands (and for the kids, two), and then smiles again.

The gates would seem to suggest some unparallelled heaven awaiting on the other side. I use the term "heaven" here subjectively.

In an instant, the children multiply exponentially and vanish into the shiny, blingy, plastic ambiance. The smarter of the parents tether their children with ropes or leashes. I prefer the sleeker, more effective mode of child-homing known as the wallet.

The wallet contains many features. It offers the promise of greasy treats and raffles and cotton candy. Guaranteed the younglings will not journey out too far from pocket.

The fair itinerary appears to follow some collective modus operandi. Animals first, then food, then rides. Elephant ears are frowned upon in the petting zoo by all but the goats. We arrive as a herd at the barn doors and are ushered in two by two where we are lead through a series of gates and chutes and aisles.  The moo's and baaah's of the animals as they watch us go by compliment the "ooh" and "awww" from the people viewers quite well, though in this perspective, it is not quite certain who is really the observed.

I have never really gotten the hang of the stall walk, that shuffle, shuffle, stop we all do. This usually leads to a bit of awkward bumping into folks and apologizing.  I always end up bumping into an old friend accidentally and we smile and ask how the kids are and then politely depart never having remembered eachother's names.

We all breathe gratefully at the barn door. The sweltering scent of poultry or livestock isn't the most pleasant--especially on the fifth day of the fair. The kids jump and giggle, elbow-deep in cow/horse/goat/pig hair, dander, and filth and are immediately famished.

I do not understand why the desire to eat coincides with carnival rides. To me it seems a bit counterproductive. Nevertheless, the ride tickets and the deep-fried chili-dogs are neighbors.

All of the rides move in a circular fashion is nothing new. Carnivals have been inducing nausea to countless thrill-seekers for over a century. The differences between each ticket-sucking beast is purely nuance.
Here are my favorite rides I noticed at the fair:
1) The Tip-Top (2 tickets). This device resembles a rusted cake with Easter-egg accents. The Easter eggs tip ever so slightly while they spin, swivel AND gyrate.
2)The Sizzler (3 tickets). This one, though it only spins with two moveable axes, comes with the velocity needed for those cool emo haircuts those kids used to wear. It also is a wonderful source for irrepairable neck damage.
3)Round Up (3 tickets). This is the ride where you are strapped to the wall and thanks to centrifugal force, you and your stomach contents are completely flattened.
4)The Tornado (3 tickets). This one is cyclical hell without a foothold. Not that I was witness, but I'm guessing that this ride comes with the widest projectile rate.
5) The Ferris Wheel (3 tickets). If it weren't for my latent trust issues with carnival ride operators, I might have taken this one. Well, that and the fact that the fella usually says "don't rock the seat" every time he buckles you into a seat that rocks. I just don't get it.
6)The funhouse (2 tickets). I can only imagine what has taken place in the funhouse after hours.

The odd thing about the fair is that you return home exhausted, penniless, and stomach content-less. The only token of the fair is a smeared stamp that was previously a cow and now has morphed into some twisted Rorschach and one lonely ticket.

The fair has no use for one single ticket. No. They come in sets of two or three or more.  The single ticket simply goes unnoticed and unnused and sits in your pocket as a reminder that simply one ticket is no good until it ends up a purple grub in your dryer's lint catcher.

But the lasting impressions on the children's faces make up for everything. They fill their Monday's with stories about eating the most cotton candy and other stories about the bright blue stain on the car's carpet. These are lasting....until next fair.

Photos smuggled from Oregon History Project and Reverbnation.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Let's talk about poop: This is why I can't socialize with real writers.

Being around artist-type people terrifies me. I get sweaty-lipped and tend to stammer. This weekend, at the Mazama Festival of Books, I did just that among some of the most brilliant current writers.

This was the Book Fest's second year. After being present for the first, I can tell you that this festival is growing and getting better every year. The minds brought together to discuss the world as seen through today's artistic lens were nothing less than magical.

Mazama is a small town tucked tightly in the bosom of the Cascades. The view of  mountains' cleavage from the valley floor is enough to leave your jaw collecting pine needles on the ground. This glorious sight provided the backdrop for the audible feast provided by an armful of bookwriters.

While taking notes for each session, I realized that I had written "BUY THIS BOOK!!!" next to each author's credits. From discovering identity through travel to finding oneself in confronting violent death, these authors offered their audience more than just a snippet of their works: They offered us glimpses into their psyches and souls and craft.

The artists spoke with tongues attached to well-oiled mindmachines. Each word resonated. But again, these are published writers. They have reached the shiny polished pinacle with their names embossed on the glossy covers of tomes and chapbooks alike. I want a glistening tongue attached to a keen machine mind like theirs.

For now, I just listen.

But as I listened to one of the sessions (from a perch far in the back), a woman came up and rubbed my head then apologised quickly. "I'm so sorry," she said. "You probably don't like that."

"I love it, actually. I shaved my head to become vulnerable, and as it turns out, people are far more gentle that I give them credit for. It is myself who is the harshest, so please, pet me. I really love the intimate affection of connection."

This is what I have rewritten as a response. I really said something like, "uh, that's all right. It feels nice."

If James Joyce were listening, he would have beaten me with Dubliners for my flaccid use of "nice."

During the social hours, I stammered at some brilliant people. "So what do you write?" I was asked.

"Y'see I haven't published anything in years because all that I've done is talk about the toilet habits of children while more or less avoiding my deep-seated personal issues and now I'm just trying to make sense of my seemingly shit-filled existence with real introspection, substance, and empathy. I strive to acheive ultimate vulnerability and thereby flourish in a world that doesn't beg the question, 'number one, or number two?'"

This is what I wanted to say, oh yes. But I really said, "Oh, I've written a novel and a screenplay and a bunch of short stories, but mostly I blog on the internet about being a mom. It's mostly toilet humor."

Image provided by uncyclopedia.wikia.com 

Toilet humor? Yes. That's what I whiddled my writing down to. Poop. At this point the writer's gaze would lift to the crowd around, looking for an opportunity to exit the conversation.

Standing alone within a writhing and bubbling milieu I so wished was mine, I made a vow: No more toilet humor. No more stories that involve the gory details of a mother. I would write beautiful prose...or at least I would write until I got there.

Twelve hours into our book-filled day, I scooped my chitchattering imps into the car. We sighed a collective thanks-- thanks for the beautifully dynamic day, thanks for the brilliant gift of art, thanks for the other children who played so well in spite of the erudite cultural aura hovering just above the valley floor. We listened to the calm the evening gave us. This lasted for a miraculous 45 seconds before-

"I took a poop in the outhouse today. It smelled really good. And the water was still blue!"

My son smiled reverently.

Mark Twain said "Write what you know."



I guess my muses won't be like this forever. What I know will grow soon enough. Until then, there will be toilet talk and all the rest that comes with parenting.






Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sometimes growth means taking it all off.

We as a people do a ton of things to be beautiful--not for us, but for others. We are constantly worried about how we look and this concern affects how we feel. But the person that seems to offer us the most critical evaluation of ourselves is ourself.

I think we can all understand this song.


I'm not brave enough to fix it on my own...

 I had to get brave, though. I really did.
I had said I would do it some day. So I did it. And now I feel completely naked knowing that you are seeing this.

No hair, no makeup, no silly smirk. Just me. 

Sometimes fresh starts mean hard lessons. These lessons can come through steps that you never knew were necessary. For me, this fresh start needed to come through giving up vanity and becoming vulnerable and most importantly honest with who I am.

All my life I was the girl with the curly hair. Or, most recently, the girl with the mohawk. My hair became my identity--not my identity but the identity I chose to create for myself. I chose to use my hair as a veil between me and the world around me. It's been a defense mechanism whether I was willing to admit it or not. If I had bright blue hair or flaming red hair or dreadlocks, then I defined myself as such.

And this defense was also an incredible distraction. I would squirm in my jeans if they were too tight or tug at my shirt that felt too short and then fiddle with my hair to calm myself. My hair was something I could instantly fix.

And it wasn't my body that was the worst part of the problem. It was my self esteem. I was never good enough for me. I was the harshest bestower or shame.

But now I am me. Just me.

I walk into public places and I squirm until I touch my head. "Is my hair okay?" I'd ask.

"No hair. I am me."

In facing myself as truly me, I am relieved. I am uncompromisingly me now. I just have to square my shoulders and be essential in the face of my shriveling vanity.

I am here now to say "Screw you, inhibition and vanity" and offer people a chance to know me as Rose, the girl, the mom, the person, the mover, the shaker, the force.

That's right, friends. I am a force. I am a force no longer caught up on how I look. I am free to be me--a person with broad thighs and big boobs and unlimited potential and I love it.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Blog from the Safe Room (aka bathroom)

Mother's blog: star date 8675309

I am writing this--perhaps my last living blog--from the bathroom. The spawn have broken the lock on the door. I have wedged a croc in the door to ensure my safety. 
There are twelve more hours until the spawn are loaded onto the school bus for the first time this year. I do not know if I will survive. 
At the beginning of the summer, they were charming. Adorable, even. They smiled at the sunny days and went outside without provocation. 
Then, once the romance of a golden summer turned the lawn a dingy, dry tan, they withered with it. They shrank into the tv room, scarcely leaving except to satiate the whining hunger in their guts every seven minutes. They turned pale, only giggling when the laugh track on their insipid television show bade them to. They drooled. "Snacks" their throats gurgled as try stumbled from the room, lifeless limbs dragging behind them. 
By August, they were trying to pick each other off in elaborate ways. My daughter fashioned a bear trap with combs and scrunchies. My son tried to poison his sister with tomatoes in her cereal. 
Last week, they realized that it was funner to join forces and exterminate the matriarch. 
They played with Legos in my room. On my floor. They took turns giving each other mani/pedis. On my same floor. They made dinner and watched me eat every. Bite. Of. My. Cereal. 
Legos. 
They drew out plans for six business ventures, four full-length musicals, and an acre-wide garden. With chickens. 
My children are trying to kill me. 
There is an electrode kit on top of a rock-tumbling kit on top of an accordion on my kitchen table. There is also a coat hanger sculpture that resembles a tree monster or an elephant or a pegacorn or the starship Enterprise on my love seat. 
The cleanest room is the bathroom. 
This is where I am and where I will stay until they are on the bus. Or need to brush their teeth. Whichever comes first. 

The bus will be here in eleven hours and 51 minutes. 

Pray for me. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Din Mutha Moves on.

I'm moving back home, folks. I'm leaving OurSalon and Open Salon for my own blog. I just want to be a little autonomous. Can ya dig it?
I can now blog from my phone, which will make it a little easier to shit out a bunch of thoughts on the go. Good? I hope so. 

K.  We hiked today. We took our family portraits today. The children were sweet and helpful and polite an we got one good picture where they weren't killing each other. This is it. 

This is my brood. 

Yup. We are badasses.

This made me warm and fuzzy in that tough-enough kind of way. This is our Christmas card.

Then I saw this pic.

These damned giraffes had our idea. But yanno what? We got a waterfall ::TRRRRRUMP::

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Day I Started Saying "Screw It."


The Day I Started Saying "Screw It."


There is a beautifully-written article that is shooting through the internets like a Lichtenberg Figure right now. It may have just changed the way I live my life.  


Rachel Macy Stafford's piece "The Day I Stopped Saying 'Hurry Up'" details how this mother learned to stop rushing her children and began to take time to love them. I was in awe of the article. It was beautiful. It made me want to change the way I parented. 

I looked over to my children who read quietly on the couch beside me on a languid and lazy Saturday afternoon. "Listen up, children," I said. "We will no longer hurry though each day and begin to savor the moments." 

My declaration was met with sardonic faces. I continued in my appeal. "I am guilty of constantly telling you to hurry up, and I'm sorry. From now on we will s-a-v-o-r our precious time together without rushing." 
"And I just want you to know, children, that I love you. Terribly." 

Monday morning arrived like a bee sting. I was determined not to rush the children. Instead of waking the kids to a pots and pans heavy metal symphony like I usually do, I opened the doors to their bedrooms and sang a sun-drenched, honey-sweet song to gently nudge them from bed.


Twenty five minutes later, my voice had all but developed botulism. I crept into my daughter's room and sang, "My darling daughter, the sun is up and it's a beautiful day! How about joining me in celebration?"
My nearly-comatose tweenaged daughter raised a drowsy finger to her drool-crusted lips and  said, "shhhh...I'm sav-or-ing my eyelids." 

Over the next three days I, along with my frenemy and annoying bedfellow Reality, made some rather interesting discoveries.

For starters, those parents who avoid the words "hurry up" probably have more than one bathroom. I learned this as I watched my seven year-old son dancing the watusi in front of the bathroom door while my daughter dawdled. Two minutes later I found my son ankle-deep in pajamas on the front porch watering the weeds below. "Don't worry! No rush! I've got it handled!" he assured me.

My neighbors were assured as well.

And next,  the unrushed parent has probably yet to experience adolescence. In our unrushing, my daughter spent half a day looking into the mirror, staring at the wall/computer/world outside all without actually leaving the comfort of the couch.

On the third day of unrushing, I took a look around my home. Stacked dishes resembled high-rises and the glasses sprouted food-encrusted utensils. Laundry Island, a large, migratory mass of washed or unwashed clothes, had run ashore and exploded all over the living room. I found my near-sleeping son under some fractured peninsula of towels. He was drowsily eating a jelly-drenched sock.

This was the moment that I cracked.
"Alright, everybody stop savoring your life and get your chores done now or I'll...."
Threats ensued. Birthdays were taken away. Dishes were cleaned in a timely manner.

In a perfect world, we would not rush. In a perfect world, size-8 jeans would never need washing and would actually fit. In a perfect world, the house would clean itself, heat itself and pay for itself as well. This is not a perfect world. We do not live in perfection. We live in squalid, cacophonous chaos, friends.
And on these days, sometimes we just need to say, "Screw it. I'm not a perfect parent. Now get your act together, kids. We are late. Again."

But there is a silver lining of consolation. It takes this deadline-driven existence for us to appreciate those days when we can sit back and watch the world pass by. Sometimes it takes saying "screw it" to release yourself from the stressful hell of unrushing to really sit back and enjoy this crazy life.