Tag Archives: life

How to swallow a live goldfish and other stories I tell my Son about his Grandfather

My Son is almost two years old. My Father never met him and that’s a goddamn shame. My Father loved babies and kids and they were drawn to him, his warmth and willingness (uncontrollable desire) to be goofy. Despite his constant back pain and substantial 6’4″ frame he would get down on the ground, rolling around, playing along with whatever silly reality existed in that moment.

suicide grief father daughter

A few weeks after his death I was having dinner with a few friends of his who had two small girls. After dessert the 4 year old and I went into my Father’s office to look at photos and she asked me, “are you sad because your Daddy is dead?” It was the most appropriate sentiment anyone had said to me since he had died. Most people gave uncomfortable, almost inaudible grunts of apology and whatnot accompanied by little eye contact and zero honesty. Hers was a simple question devoid of bullshit or uncomfortability and it meant so much to me. I told her, “yes, I am sad because my Daddy is dead.” She then told me, “I’m sad too because Mr. Jerry is dead. I miss him.” She was 4 years old and had summed it all up; he was dead and we missed him. She taught me a very important lesson in mourning, keep it simple. This is especially true when it comes to suicide which can make grief so much more complicated with feelings of anger, confusion, betrayal, abandonment and resentment. Small children haven’t even begun to view the world or their own emotions in these complex terms. Which is exactly why I tell my Son all about his Grandfather, I want his to be a familiar name, face and legend of sorts.

My Father’s presence will be especially missed when my Son gets a little older as his Grandfather could dad father clown prankster goofyhave taught him all sorts of awesomely icky boy tricks like blowing snot rockets, flossing ones nasal cavities with spaghetti, balancing brooms or any other random object on your nose, making lit cigarettes disappear into the palm of your hand and swallowing live goldfish. I grew up thinking it was normal to have a Dad who had a potato gun which we shot off at night just to scare the neighbors, a sport coat with sewn in magic tricks to embarrass me in front of friends, a taser which he once challenged himself to use upon his own arm (there being no one else present to accept such a challenge), a vast collection of knives, swords and other assorted weaponry both decorative and functional as well as a baby octopus in a jar of formaldehyde. Between his weirdness and my Mother’s obsession with The Rolling Stones (her collection so impressive it has won awards at county fairs, and you know that means something) it was kind of like growing up in a twisted amusement park complete with the geek, the freak and the cannibalistic vermin (my very own contribution; hamsters which ate their young).

Our home is much more tame, quite boring actually; no whoopie cushions, no animals in jars and a complete and total lack of Mick Jagger’s skinny ass. We will not be swallowing live fish or putting pasta up our noses but I will tell him all about his eccentrically endearing Grandfather and his wacky antics. Inevitably one day my Son will ask how he died and I will answer him honestly and wherever this conversation takes us I will remind him that a persons death must never define their life.

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Filed under I am a Mother, Memories of Dad

Smells like Dreft

Used up and sucked dry,

my inhibitions discarded along with my placenta.

Who is this shirtless woman, carelessly loading a washing machine,

no consideration for mismatched colors.

Fabrics in need of special care must now fend for themselves.

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Filed under Feels like Sunday, I am a Mother

At peace

Waiting for a train, I casually find a seat among strangers. The bench is hard and the still afternoon air is warm and stifling. I am strangely content even as a bead of sweat makes its way down my neck and between my breasts.

I notice a young woman looking at me slightly curiously. She hauls her luggage behind her as she walks towards me and sits down on the bench next to me in a casual sort of way as if we knew each other. Smiling, she asks me, “how far along are you?” I answer politely that I have a few more weeks to go. She asks if I know what I am having and I tell her that it is a Boy. “I had a boy”, she states in a reminiscent tone that held both sadness and a sense of wonderment as if that time in her life had been a dream that she was momentarily revisiting. Her eyes sparkled with an inviting pleasantness, an uncommon trait amongst strangers met on train platforms.

We continue our friendly conversation about baby clothes, the strange still heat of the day, summer scarves and the likelihood of the train arriving on time. It doesn’t of course and our conversation loses momentum, becoming a staggered repetition of head nods and polite smiles.

The train pulls into the station and we rise from the bench, her with ease and I with a slow deliberate heave. As she gathers her luggage and we make our way towards the train she says to me, “I just have to tell you that you are beautiful, a truly glowing woman. You look like you are at peace. Are you? Are you at peace?”

“Yes, I am at peace, very much so.”

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Filed under I am Pregnant, Something that happened

Shut your mouth and be patient

I have been feeling a bit more private these days. As the day approaches when this kid will be all out in the open, exposed to the world, I am becoming more hesitant, a little more careful with my words. A calmness has come over me, a quiet still air surrounds me. Preparing, physically and mentally for the arrival.

I keep having dreams about a flat stomach, I reach down and feel my pliable skin, loose and empty. Soon enough….soon enough.

I want to be alone, alone with my thoughts and my emotions. I speak and I instantly want to snatch the words from the air, pull them back and shove them down my throat. Any part of me that gets out in the open is like a little piece of the kid inside getting out as well and he’s just not ready yet. Can anyone ever really be ready to face this world, these people?

My dislike for people ebbs and flows, right now, it’s fucking flowing strong and steady, no ebb in sight. Everything feels like a threat, to my safety and my sanity. Everyone makes me uncomfortable, situations take on a life of their own and I am carried along, arms flailing and skirt swept up in the wind, I am exposed and vulnerable.

Pregnancy feels like a weakness, I imagine motherhood feeling very strong and powerful. Be patient, be calm, just a few more weeks.

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Filed under Feels like Sunday, I am Pregnant

Growing our garden

My Dad always said his dream was to live off the fat of the land. Well, look pops!
Our garden is coming in nicely; carrots, melons, brussel sprouts, cucumbers, onions, garlic, spinach, beets, peppers and zucchini! I am planning on making baby food and freezing it so when the kid is ready there will be fresh food for him, grown from our own garden. You can fill up ice-cube trays with the pureed veggies, freeze them and then store the cubes in plastic bags. Pop one out whenever you need one and it’s just the right amount. I plan on losing all this damn weight with fresh vegetables as well. A month-long juice cleanse without spending a fortune on organic vegetables at the store. Now I just need to figure out how to grow fat-free greek yogurt and I will never have to buy groceries again.

 

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Filed under I am Pregnant, Memories of Dad, My Home

Tantrum

Did I just have a tantrum? On the kitchen floor, splayed out like a dying cow. My attempt at retrieving a pan from the corner cupboard that mysteriously descends into a fucking abyss beneath my kitchen floor resulted in my stooping, bending, crawling, reaching, laying flat on the floor, arms outstretched, curses flying like a hormonal fire storm and all to no fucking avail. I feel helpless, weak, debilitated and condemned to this awkward cumbersome body forever. My frustration spilled out of me, sweat and tears pouring from my face, my screams reaching into the abyss of lost saucepans and soup spoons. My dogs watched on, confused and unwilling to offer any assistance. I surrender. Fuck that pan, I didn’t want to cook dinner any damn ways.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor, wiping tear soaked strands of hair from my face I regain my composure or at least something close to it. At seven and a half months pregnant I am getting very close to my breaking point of uncomfortablity. Two more months, my fucking god. Eight more weeks of wobbling around on aching feet, getting stuck on the couch and having to pathetically ask for help like an invalid and rolling around on the kitchen floor, sweating and cursing myself into a tear-stained mess. Fifty six more days of pissing every ten minutes, regurgitating my own bile every time I lean forward, losing my breath after climbing five or more stairs and avoiding mirrors for fear of spontaneous screams of horror.

Maybe having the occasional tantrum will prepare me for dealing with a little one having a tantrum. I have dealt with tantrum prone children before and I always used the “ignore them and they will eventually shut the fuck up” approach. I have a feeling that this approach won’t work quite as well with my own child. It’s easy to ignore a child that isn’t yours, their kicks and screams a mere annoyance. If I were to witness such an outburst from my own child I would most definitely act in a more caring manner, kind of like the way that I should react to my own personal tantrums. A few weeks ago my therapist told me that I need to “be nicer to myself”. I laughed. She didn’t. I told her, “I guess I can give it a try”.

Does shopping count as “being nice to myself”? If so, then I have succeeded. Actually, it does count because I once again confronted my dreaded nemesis, the dressing room. I made my way through a tangled mess of sundresses and pantsuits at The Burlington Coat Factory. That store should be called One Big Ghetto Ass Mess. But I always find good deals there so I brave the disaster of disorganization. I entered the dressing room with trepidation and an armful of brightly colored maxi dresses. I disrobed and stifled the screams, the curses and the tears. In my underwear and heels I held my head high and slipped on a pink paisley dress of the finest polyester that $14.99 can buy. My round stomach was framed nicely by the whimsical design and my ass although huge appeared to take on an almost acceptable shape. My mandatory hour a day of yoga and pilates have done something after all. Wait! Am I being nice? In a dressing room? What the fuck!? Something is going on here, but instead of questioning it, analyzing it and tearing it apart I decide to get the fuck out before I turn on myself. No need for an eyeliner touch up this time, a first for sure.

From the dressing room to the kitchen floor, small strides and hard falls. I’ll get up, eventually and with a fair amount of huffing and grunting. I will reapply my makeup as many times as I need to. I will close my eyes and pretend that two months have passed, that I am holding my child in my arms rather than lugging him around in my gut. I will be calm. I will also probably throw a few more tantrums before this is over and it’s perfectly fucking alright. It’s also perfectly fucking alright to be a little bit nice to myself every once in a while.

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Filed under I am Pregnant, My Home, Something that happened

Artifacts

I sometimes forget how odd certain things in my home must look to someone seeing them for the first time. In my dining room I have a triple beam scale on a shelf next to a collection of rocks and gemstones. I have seen this scale since I was a child in various rooms and in various states of use and non-use. As a child the scale was often on the kitchen table amongst containers, bags, jars and various other items (accoutrements, paraphernalia…whatever you want to call it). Later in life the scale was displayed on a shelf above my Dad’s computer in his office, a reminder of sorts of another life, another man.

After my Dad died I brought home many of his things, things I knew he would have wanted me to have, things he would have been sad to have seen in a pile on the curb. I took his arrowhead collection, some of which we found together on our “adventures” we took when I was a child, a clumsy yet eager child, eager to hike as far as the sun would allow and eager to please her Dad by finding the most interesting rocks and the occasional arrowhead.

I took his framed paintings he had acquired from the “Spaceman of OB”; a blind artist who sold his wares on the streets of Ocean Beach. He had also purchased a “ticket” from the Spaceman which reserved him a seat on the spaceship with instructions that the ticket is only good if you have it with you at the time of your death. Needless to say, the ticket could not be found amongst my Dad’s belongings.

I took his last bottle of Gin, unfortunately not top shelf Bombay but middle of the road Beefeater. I finished the bottle, each martini tasting worse than the last even though I knew his recipe, I used his shaker and even had his glass. Martinis would just never be the same made by any other hand than his. The empty bottle now sits on a shelf holding dried flowers next to a painting of a strange red man with a long nose also holding a flower. This painting was my Dad’s favorite, painted for him by a female admirer of his in the Seventies (at least that is the story he told, he told a lot of stories). This odd image is permanently ingrained in my mind as that of curiosity and for some reason, empathy. Maybe it’s the expression on the man’s face or the gentle way he is holding the delicate white flower or maybe the way I felt as a child, laying on my Parents bed in the afternoon, staring at this psychedelic face, imagining him as a wise all-knowing man of peace and truth.

I took a large wooden box that once held his rock cleaning tools, dremel bits, baby food jars filled with tiny opals shimmering in oil, mini sword creations covered in silver solder and tightly wrapped in leather strips with tigers eye stone inlay. This box now holds letters and cards I made for him over the years, a bandana that still smells like his aftershave, a journal that I made for him which he filled with poems and pictures and the remainder of his cremains. By the remainder I mean what I have kept for myself after sharing them with possibly hundreds of people. You see, my Dad wanted to be shared with anyone who wanted a piece of him and to have them do whatever they pleased with him. When I received his cremains I filled up hundreds of tiny baggies with the coarse grey ashes (actually more sand-like with an occasional bone fragment than ash) to be handed out at the memorial service. I loved the fact that I had to go to a head shop for the appropriate sized bags. I cried and laughed as I spooned his cremains into the baggies, talking to my Dad the whole time.

His cremains have been tucked away in special places, planted in gardens, forgotten about in a purse or a coat pocket, scattered in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ireland, Hawaii, Northern California, all over San Diego; from the Cuyamaca mountains to Ocean Beach and many more places I can only imagine of one day visiting.

These artifacts are only a small reminder of the man that my Father was. I can feel his presence when I hold a rock he polished smooth or when I hear a low whistle from an unassuming stranger. He is everywhere and nowhere, within every cell and atom, he is the energy that moves me forward, the wind that sweeps through a town destroying homes and lives, the water that nourishes a forest and the breath that I will take as I share the memory of him with my Son.

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Filed under I remember, Memories of Dad

Domesticity becomes me

The vacuum creates a pathway for me to follow, down the hall and off a cliff, obediently, blindly I follow. Ring around the toilet hypnotizes me, woosh, I am swirling down, away into the sewer, dark and damp I find a corner, grab a brush and get to scrubbing. A pile of laundry grows before me, a mountain of funky panties and grease stained jeans, becoming volcano like with an ominous reeking danger. Creep a little closer and peek over the edge to find a boiling mass of molten sweat socks, sulfur stinging my eyes. Douse the flames with Clorox and baking soda, Heloise knows all the right tricks. Dust bunnies make a mad dash for their burrows, herding their young and sacrificing the elderly and the decrepit along the way. I sweep up the skeletal remains and clumps of fur, filling my dust pan as I hum along with their low moans of despair and surrender. Pinning cool wet sheets on the clothesline like a fresh kill stretched out to dry in the sun, look at my accomplishments, aren’t they so white, so clean and pure?

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Filed under Feels like Sunday

Dressing room melt down

Dressing rooms have always been a place of misery and torment for me and often the beginning of yet another period of tortuous self-destruction. I don’t know how many times I have left a dressing room with mascara smeared across my reddened face and headed home in a silent rage, shaking and choking back sobs. A bottle of vodka helped wash away the shame, followed either by days of starvation or endless binge and purge sessions. Starvation felt too rewarding, light-headed and calm, my mind able to focus too clearly on the problems at hand; my fat ass, my huge thighs, my cheesy blue skin that glared at me almost fluorescently under the dressing room lighting. Bulimia felt more appropriately like punishment, my stomach uncomfortably distended with undesirable food cooked hastily, consumed furiously without tasting, no enjoyment what so ever. Because that isn’t the point and I certainly do not deserve to enjoy anything. Violently purging again and again, swallowing water from the bathroom sink only to purge again, making sure everything came out clear or at least red tinged, a little blood just means you are doing it right. As I sat huddled in the bathroom, heart skipping beats, lungs and esophagus burning with bile dripping from my nose, I stared at my bloodied knuckles and I knew that I deserved this.

For years, I have made a point of avoiding dressing rooms which was usually easy seeing as how I mostly shop at thrift stores that do not have dressing rooms. “Eyeballing” measurements have led to a closet full of clothes that don’t fit quite as expected and many trips to resale shops, trash bag over the shoulder disappointment and a five dollar store credit slip.

This thrift store vintage polyester clad closet of mine hasn’t been too generous with maternity wear but I thought I was making the best of the temporary situation with what I had. Well, boy was I fucking wrong. I was made very aware that I had worn out my welcome with two dresses that still fit quite well, especially paired with my fave Sam Kinison coat. Apparently I had crossed into crazy territory simply by wearing the same outfit one too many times and by donning a wool coat on an 80 degree day. Comments like, “You know you actually don’t look pregnant in that outfit, you kind of just looked like you put on weight” and “That coat on a thin girl says, ‘Downtown chic’ but on a fat girl it says, ‘I have 13 cats”, finally convinced me to go shopping for actual maternity clothes, the kind with stretchy stomach panels that go up to your tits and a little extra room in the hips.

I hesitantly walked into the maternity store at the mall and was greeted by a chirpy young girl and I immediately wanted to turn away and run but considering the fact that my red leather pumps had created a substantial blister on my heel I was actually yearning for the relief of a sitting down in a quiet dressing room. I quickly grabbed up a few options; a black skirt, black capri pants, bootcut stretchy jeans and a pair of skinny (fucking hilarious) jeans, all with said tit approaching stretchy panel. I wobbled back to the row of torture chambers, closing the door behind me with a sigh or maybe it was a grunt. I sat down, drank a bottle of water and attempted to prepare myself for this momentous event. Stalling, I applied lip gloss and checked my text messages. Before I had even begun the task at hand the chirpy young girl was asking me how I was doing. I replied cordially and sat a little longer, contemplating the “eyeball” method and just buying the clothes and going home. “Eyeballing” may have worked half of the time in the past but seeing as how I haven’t really given too much actual mirror time to this new body of mine I knew I had to do it. I had to strip naked in this tiny room under this awful disfiguring lighting that I swear only exists in dressing rooms. I remove my well-worn polyester dress with ease and as I bend over to remove my heels I am confronted with reality. I am plastered across the mirror covered wall like a billboard advertisement for albino dairy cows in drag (yet another wonderful premise for a children’s book).

Motherfucker, shit, oh my fucking god, this has to be a fucking joke, you fat fucking bitch whore. Okay, calm down you red-faced sweaty bitch. Don’t you start crying, not this time. You are a grown ass woman and you are fucking pregnant which is why you are in a fucking maternity store and buying fucking maternity clothes.

Calm down, breathe. Okay, skirt, not too terribly bad. Next, black capris, hmmm….the stretchy tummy to tit panel is kind of comfortable. Boot cut jeans, terrible. Skinny Jeans, don’t even make it off the hanger. Done. Quickly slip into my cool polyester dress noticing the holes under the arms and barely there stitches in the hems threatening complete detachment at any moment. I pull on my Kinison coat, careful not to further rip the lining as I slide my arms into the sleeves. I take my raggedy ass self up to the register and pay for my new clothes as the chirpy girl fills my bag with diaper coupons and nipple cream samples. I leave the store with a renewed sense of “I am pregnant motherfuckers” empowerment and “I am a fat fucking cow” self-hatred. That old bitch self-hatred is never too far away, she hides out for a bit, biding her time, especially in dressing rooms. She is like a yeasty mold and the dressing room is a moist fold of skin in the middle of summer. The stench is pretty much the same and the lingering itch an embarrassing reminder of your awful fucking human self.

Finally at home I take a hot bath to wash away the grime of public transportation and street traffic but more importantly to soak my bloody blistered feet. I’m still not giving up on my heels no matter how painful it may be. I reflect on my day, my mirrored image, my pasty white ass and thick thighs.

I want to drink, I want to be empty, I want to hurt and get lost in the numbness that proceeds the purge.

These thoughts come as instantly and easily as ever before, flashing red lights and sirens of demands. In the past I conceded quickly and without much of a struggle, giving in with arms outstretched in search of comfort and relief. Now, I have a choice, a choice I never knew was there. I can just sit with these feelings, let them linger and hang in the air around me. A staring contest of sorts, who will look away first? They lose and I am left staring at the mound in front of me, my stomach poking out from the peaks of bubbles and the rising of steam.

I haven’t thought much about the kid at all today, you know me being the selfish ass bitch that I am. I was too busy staring into a fucking mirror hating myself to realize that I was also staring at the body that is busy creating the brain of my child. How can I hate that? How can I feel these self-destructive urges while my kid is in there, sucking on his fingers and opening and closing his tiny little eyelids? I feel a rather adamant kick to the ribs and place my hands on my stomach in an effort to soothe him. In a hot bath, hands on my rounded abdomen holding my son safe I am at peace.

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Filed under Alcoholism and other Assholes, Ana, Mia and other Bitches, Fashionably Unreasonable, I am Pregnant, Something that happened

Mascara, the cure for Insomnia

Things get creaky, the walls when I walk, the floor when I fall. A slow screech lingers in my head, invading the quiet, the dark. Sleepless nights, wandering around my house. Get up, piss, get some water, repeat 10 more fucking times until finally its morning and I can add some more pointless activities to this ridiculous routine. The heavy-headed dizziness of sleep deprivation overcomes me, becomes me. An hour of pilates awakens my limbs, filling my lungs with oxygen. Am I awake yet? Can you awaken when you never really go to sleep? A shower washes away the residue of the previous 24 hours of existence. Am I awake yet? Not really, no need to be. I will live forever in this halfway world between reality, dreams and unsleep. I paint a portrait of myself, intricately filling in every crevice and pore, sweep of eyebrow and curl of lash, smearing of red, the illusion of a mouth, an eye, a girl, a woman, a whore and a clown. Now I am here, I have arrived.

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Filed under Fashionably Unreasonable, Feels like Sunday, I am Pregnant, Uncategorized

Am I writing a novel or going insane?

Louise, who the fuck are you? I am sick of you and I don’t think I can be a part of this relationship anymore. I try and try to get inside your head and all you do is laugh. Or shut down, comatose, you might as well be dead. I can kill you, you know that don’t you? I might light you on fire and watch you burn, edges curling, blackening, the crinkling pages glowing red, embers fluttering into the night air. Will that wake you up? Make you pay attention for a goddamn second and follow me the way I have been following you for all these years. Following you down empty streets, never-ending hallways, cattle call cafeteria lines, endless rows of bathroom stalls and through mirrored images, inside out and multiplied.

Have you learned anything? Did you ever really open your eyes? Was it I who looked away? Did you tell me to fuck off a long time ago and I didn’t hear you?

Late last night I decided to write something different, as a distraction. I wrote a fucking sitcom, seriously. I created about 10 different characters and stupid scenarios for about 3 different episodes. So, take that Louise, I might just say, “fuck you” for real, move to Hollywood, write terrible sitcoms and campy commercials for tampons and hairspray. Yes Louise, I might give it all up for hairspray.

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Filed under Louise