Hey! I’m back. By the skin of my teeth.

by renegademama

I have never been quite as lost as I was the past few months.

I think it started with Mac’s hand injury on December 29. Maybe it doesn’t sound huge, but it was. Something about a 6 foot piece of sheet metal dropping 40 feet onto your best friend and husband, father of your 4 children – the vulnerability, the sudden realization of his vulnerability – though it seems at times invisible. Watching him in pain, in surgery, recovery, realizing he will always be in some pain from arthritis and screwed-up joints.

The surgeon was amazed he had his hand let alone his life.

Just a couple weeks after that a family member was harmed by someone in a real, terrifying way. I cannot go into details, will not, but my fallibility as a mother came crashing into my reality and I thought for the first time, “My God I really cannot protect them, not fully.” I even got a calendar out and counted the days from the day I became a mother until that one: 13 years, 1 month and 29 days.

That’s how long I made it.

 

And then, Mac called to work out of town. Gone. Barely cleared to work, then gone.

First 5 days a week. Then 6.

Then sometimes 7.

It’ll be done in July. No, August. Hopefully August.

And me, there, with all those fucking kids. And my job.

The thoughts took over my brain:

for many reasons, I prefer this man home. ha.

for many reasons, I prefer this man home. ha.

I can’t survive this.
I’m so miserable.
Why is my career (because I work too, ya know?) hinging on HIS? Why is my life less important than HIS? Why is my career/life/existence PUT ON HOLD (transformed completely) because HIS work changes?

Oh, the self pity.

And then, rage. Resentment. Rage at all of it: The hand, the injury to my child, the loneliness, the incessant routine and relentless, mindless, unforgiving work of babyhood and toddlerhood and children and house and work.

I had two panic attacks. I had never had one before in my life. I woke up sweating and shaking with irrational, racing thoughts.

Good times.

A gray settled around my head. I found myself unable to sleep but never wanting to leave my bed. Crying for no reason or any reason.

Yelling, irritated, anxious.

 

I knew this feeling. I hadn’t had it since post-partum depression with Ava. I knew it well. The rumination. The remembering back before I had kids, the staring at myself naked in the mirror before I got in the shower: The disgust. At my body, my face, the wrinkles. The gray hair. Non-descript self-hatred.

Why don’t you take care of yourself you loser? Still wearing maternity clothes because you’ve never bothered to get others I see? WHAT A FUCKING LOSER.

And fat. Still fat. How did you get so fat? Why do you turn to food? DISGUSTING.

And all these kids. You have no business with these kids.

All of it is a mistake. Every moment of your life.

Think about Spain. Remember that? 20 years old, thin, beautiful, your whole life ahead of you. You had a chance then but you ruined it.

Had a kid at 22. Full-blown alcoholic by 24. LOSER.

Remember when your life had purpose and meaning and hope?

 

Writing this, I see how stupid it is. Writing it, I see how ridiculous and melodramatic it is. But try explaining that to me when I’m in the middle of it.

All the days were like this. I was in 2 small car accidents from not paying attention. Zombie-like exhaustion. Inability to finish sentences. Getting words wrong. Sadness. Rage.

And then it shifted to apathy, and I knew I was fucked.

I tried taking a weekend away at a yoga farm. Ha. Ha. Ha. (Although that weekend did help me in a way I didn’t expect).

I tried a therapist (she was the worst I had ever seen in my life and I’m looking for another).

And then, I made myself a deal: I would try all the health stuff I could, “go back to the basics” of my life and if I didn’t feel better in a month I would go to the doctor.

So I did research on mood and vitamin deficiencies and hooked myself up with B12, probiotics, Omega-3, Vitamin D, turmeric supplements. I cut down on sugar, increased water. I took my placenta pills in case it was hormonal. (YES I AM THAT HIPPIE.) I prayed and meditated, a little each day. Yes, I believe in God. I believe in a power of good underlying all things. I believe I can tap into that power because it’s made of the same shit I am. I believe this is the same power holding the motherfucking planets in their spots in an infinite universe.

I believe God doesn’t care if I say “motherfucking.”

I tried to get more exercise. I went to my acupuncturist who treated me for anxiety (and his help removed the panic attacks) and suggested I get outside and do at least ONE fun thing with my kids every day. So I did.

this was the actual day I spent with Georgia and remembered motherhood could be fun

this was the actual day I spent with Georgia and remembered motherhood could be fun

The very next day I blew off work and took Georgia to the park, just because. I had forgotten that it was fun, too, to be a mom.

I told my friend Kate I couldn’t do anything and my house was beyond recall. She said “Get up and clean your fucking house Janelle. YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING.”

That day I said “I will clean one closet today.” And I did. It was the linen closet.

The next day I said “Now I’ll clean this one.” And I did.

And then the armoir. Each day, one thing.

The 4th day, I cleaned my house. It was the simple act of taking action. It was moving forward. It was tiny steps toward normalcy, toward feeling a little okay, a little in control.

A friend sent me a book that reminded me of what I had always known, but somehow forgot: The events of my life are neutral. The events of my life do not have an emotional charge in themselves. My emotional state is the result of a three-fold process:

First, the event. Then, my thoughts about that event; and finally: The emotions caused by my thoughts.

The problem was not that my husband was gone or that my life sucked. The problem was that I had convinced myself I was the eternal broken victim, could not survive in these conditions and was a VICTIM of my life.

I felt hopeless because I had painted a hopeless story. And I believed it. And I told it and retold it until I forgot it was even a story in the first place.

Remembering it was a story – an egoic invention – was like a thousand pounds lifted off my back. OH, that’s right, my soul seemed to say, “You’re okay. You’re not in charge of this rodeo. You’re along for a ride, and this is what the scenery looks like right now. You can either work with it or die trying to fight against it.”

I surrendered, I guess, again.

the hand was something like this

the hand was something like this

A couple days later I was nursing my baby Arlo when he flattened out his hand against my breast and his little fat palm felt like a piece of velvet across my aching skin and I wept. At the touch. Just that. I don’t know why. Something about the feel of his little hand against me that afternoon in that bed reminded me of what I am and who I am and what I have and that I always, always, somehow get carried.

It told me I was okay.

What washed over me was a profound sense of reality, of gratefulness, of TRUTH. FIVE YEARS AGO I WAS DRINKING ANCIENT AGE WHISKEY AND SMOKING PALL MALL CIGARETTES ALONE IN A BEIGE FORD TAURUS WONDERING HOW I WOULD EVER GET MY LIFE BACK.

And now, it’s all back. It’s better than I could have dreamed, and I’m spinning in circles of “This isn’t good enough.”

I was crushed under the weight of his tiny beauty, and the sacredness of my life. And the story changed. 

 

It was a close call. I dodged full-blown depression. I watched myself spiraling down and caught it just in time, with a lot of help from people who love me.

But I hesitated to even write this for fear that people would think I am saying that we can cure ourselves from depression. NO NOPE NOPITY NOPE FUCK NO not what I’m saying.

I don’t think you can take supplements and fix your depression or pray or meditate or eat better or exercise your way out of depression. I don’t think the touch of a baby or cleaning out a fucking linen closet can heal you.

What I’m saying is that I’ve been on every motherfucking psych med known to man (exaggeration) and I wanted to try things myself before going down that road again FOR MYSELF but by god get some help if you need it and there is no shame and if those methods had not worked I would be there right now. Today, telling Ms. Pill Doctor GIMME ALL THE PILLS.

After my head lifted a little, I took 3 weeks off this blog to gather myself and my brain and heart and pull it together.

In that time, I rented an office all my own, to give professional writing a fighting chance. I’m not teaching college in the fall. I’m writing a motherfucking screenplay. And revising my book.

And cleaning out that goddamn linen closet, as it needs. And writing to you.

So here I am.

Heyyyyyyyyyy. It’s good to be back.

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The view from a cot on Half Dome, or, my mom

by renegademama

(Note: I’m taking the month of May off from from the blog (well, except this post). Be back in June. Don’t leave me. Love your faces.)

 

My mom taught me that if you’re broke and possibly broken, the thing to do with your tax return check is to pack up your kids and drive north, up the coast of Oregon, Washington, all the way to British Columbia, fishing along the way.

You go to those fancy gardens and ride a ferry.

If it rains, you hang a big blue tarp over the hatchback of your Ford Taurus Wagon and cook up the crawdads your kids caught.

No need for campsite reservations. You’ll find something along the way.

Even in Yosemite, in the middle of the summer, when there’s no chance in hell you’re getting a campsite. When you’re done patrolling the campgrounds, finally accepting that there are no spots available, you go to the walk-in campground and share a site with a couple German rock climbers who tell your kids how they sleep on cots sticking out at a 90 degree angle from the face of Half Dome and your daughter gazes at them, sure she’s finally found love.

She goes to sleep imagining the Yosemite stars and moon and clouds and trees from a cot sticking out of Half Dome.

 

 

If  you come upon an event you can’t afford, you buy one ticket then tell your kids to meet you at a certain spot down the way so you can pass that ticket through the fence and each kid can get in for free.

If you need mayonnaise for your sandwich you stop at Carl’s Junior and grab some from the condiment area. You send your daughter in and it embarrasses the crap out of her.

If you break down in Las Vegas you play nickel slots and eat buffet food until you get a ride home, or the car gets fixed.

When the window breaks on your mini-van you duct tape that shit and keep driving, even when it’s spewing black out the black muffler and humiliating your junior high kid.

 

My mom taught me that when it gets insane tough and the money’s gone again, you do your chores on Saturday then go to the beach, and you cook up some hot dogs in the fog while the perfect cold sand squishes between your toes and curls form in your hair around your face from the fog and wet air and the sun slices through the gray in slivers of pink orange.

Because there it all becomes freedom again.

If you can’t afford a nice place to live you find a nice place to live by living in places that are for sale but ya gotta go when it sells so you move every few months, which is weird, but you still get the sweet digs, and your kids learn to pack their rooms in 30 minutes flat.

When life really really isn’t working you pack up and move to Texas. If it doesn’t work there either, you move back.

When you hate the public high school available, you work in the kitchen of the fancy private school because the only option for your kids is college.

How will we pay? Who knows you’ll figure it out.

How will we get there? Doesn’t matter we’ll get there.

Keep driving. You’ll see it. You’ll arrive. I know it. (She always seemed to say.)

(Her optimism infuriated me at times I will admit.)

 

If on the way Grace Slick or the Rolling Stones comes on the radio you turn it up WAY UP and you sing loud and tell stories of drinking Southern Comfort with Janis Joplin.

I mean you sing it loud. In the mini-van, with the duct-taped window and black-spewing muffler.

You go to church on Sunday.

You start businesses and when they fail you start another.

You run out of money and get it again.

You lose your house and find another.

You give up 10,000 times for exactly 10 minutes.

You recast redefine reform and redesign 5, 10, 5,000 times to drive on, keep on, rolling on and making it. On.

(I have questioned everything in my life except the loyalty of my mother.)

 

When your daughter goes to rehab, again, you clean her apartment. You cry when you stand in it, telling her later, “I just knew how hard you were trying to be a mother, Janelle. And you just couldn’t do it.” You see what even she can’t see, and hold on to it like a trip to the ocean on a foggy cold Saturday. You see the orange pink of her face as she takes a drag off another cigarette and feel the cold sand between her toes until she can feel it again herself.

When your grandkids need you, you pull them into your home.

When your daughter gets well, you let them go again.

And you turn it up, loud, and you drive, and you love, and you become Nana and stay mom and sing, until every kid and grandkid knows the tune, and wonders where the hell we’re going this time, and how we’re going to get there, but only a little, because your voice is reminder that we’re already there.

You can forget, but not for long.

Get the duct-tape out. Fire it up, kids.

Mama’s home.

And damn. Look at those stars.

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Hey teenage girls: You are not the worst

by renegademama

Recently I read (yet another) thread on Facebook that went like this:

Main post: “Teenage boys are so hard.”

Comments in thread: “You should be glad you don’t have GIRLS.”

At least you don’t have GIRLS. OMG TEENAGE GIRLS.

They are THE WORST.

Insane, emotional, slutty little things. Mean. Irrational.

I’m paraphrasing, but you know the story.

Get your shotgun out. Lock em up. But goddamnit why are they so ANNOYING?

I have a daughter. She’s 13. I don’t see it. I don’t see the horrible. I don’t think I ever will. Tell me I will. Tell me she’ll be “the worst” in a few years.

Dear humans:

What would happen if we dropped the storyline that teenaged girls are “the worst” and just let them fucking BE?

Love,

Janelle

 

Well, since we’re on the topic, American teenage girls, I would like to provide a few guidelines for keeping yourself safe and navigating these awkward teenage years:

Do not wear revealing clothing like short shorts or leggings because boys just can’t control their hormones at this age and your skin makes them want to rape you. Yes, this is your problem. This could get complicated because you may have sexual feelings too and maybe WANT to show a little skin and explore the sensual side of your existence – OR MAYBE IT’S JUST A HOT DAY AND YOU ARE ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY HOT –  but this makes you a slut.

so don’t do that. nobody likes a slut.

Yes, that’s right: What’s unavoidable in boys is equally unavoidable in girls but in boys it’s expected (and possibly celebrated as a sign of virile heterosexuality) but in you it’s just dirty and shameful and your virile dad will need to protect you with a shotgun from virile boys whose parents dressed them in onesies at 6-months-of age that read: “Lock your daughters up.”

Now’s the time, daddy.

Lock.Your.Daughters.Up with those wild breasts and vaginas JUST OUT THERE FOR THE TAKING.

On to the topic of friends: Don’t be a “mean girl.” When boys have problems with their friends they are humans having problems with friends, or “assholes” or bullies, but when you do it there’s a special classification called “mean girl” because we need to make sure we establish early on that you are catty, simple-minded, and trite.

Newsflash “mean girl” is not actually a thing.

Assholes come in all genders.

Speaking of assholes, hormones rage in male and female teenagers, resulting in mood swings, tears, uncontrollable emotions and rage, but when you do it it’s a result of your vagina and uterus and menstruation and ohbytheway you’ll carry that with you your whole life. The irrationality. The emotionally unstable. When men cry we either deem them “pussies” or laud their gorgeous sensitivity. (Oh yes we’re screwing them too but that’s a different blog post.)

Have you dropped out of math yet?

Good. Stick with literature. Our emotional brains function better in those tender humanities.

Anyway, in short, teenage girls, this is why people hate you and why you read Facebook threads of grown-ass adults lamenting your existence and claiming you are WORSE than “boys:” Because you’re crazy and mean and irrational and emotional and slutty and your potential to get pregnant and evoke the (obviously unavoidable) rape drive in boys makes you a liability to yourself and your family.

Welcome to femaleness. Welcome to womanhood.

Welcome to the motherfucking jungle.

Oh shit wait! I forgot. How to not get your throat cut by strangers (this is from an actual list of helpful citizens on Facebook who commented on the occasion of a woman getting her throat cut by a stranger on the street):

  • do not get out of the car at nightFBbFBa
  • learn self defense
  • always carry pepper spray
  • do not know bad people
  • don’t be a prostitute
  • do not go into bad areas of town
  • don’t walk alone ever on a street ever.

(Why are they virtually unconcerned about the human who MURDERED another HUMAN? Well shoot your guess is as good as mine.)

WELCOME TO WOMANHOOD NOW DON’T GET OUT OF YOUR CAR LEST SOMEBODY SLICES YOUR THROAT AND YOU GET BLAMED.

(good times.)

 

Lemmetellyousomething my girl:

I don’t see this and I never will. Oh okaaaaay I see difficulty and I see pain and I see emotions and I see the hormones and the silliness woven with grown-up-ness and I see myself.

I see your father.

I see a child. I see a woman-child. I see a woman-child becoming woman. I see emotional turmoil. I see upset. I see rage. I see building moats in the sand and looking for seashells and painted nails and pedicures and long lean muscular legs and new curves and unruly curls on rainy days.

I see perfection.brokenness.gaping faults.attitude.

I see the difficulty of any kid that ever lived. I see all the boys and girls.

I see helpful. lazy. I see easier than my 4-year-old. independence. separation. wit and sarcasm and naiveté.

I see myself.

I was a teenage girl. I didn’t know the world hated me. Maybe because there wasn’t social media.

I see exploration. I see changing. I see life. I see a couple text messages to boys and a few discussions about this one and that one and I see you learning navigating working to understand other humans, life, sex, bodies, school, futures, loveheartangerragepainhystericalLaughingFriendsSiblingsFamilyandTomorrow.

(and you drive me nuts BECAUSE ALL KIDS ARE FUCKING ANNOYING.)

 

Heyyyy daughter, I don’t hate you. I don’t think you’re slutty or evil or mean. I expect you to be irrational and emotional just like I am sometimes, and your dad is sometimes, and your brother and every other person ever.

I want to lock you up, but not because of your gender.

I want to hide you away from the idiots. I want to hide you away so you never think you are the worst. So you aren’t ashamed. So you aren’t embarrassed. So you don’t gaslight YOURSELF when you’re emotional and unstable and irrational in your room away from the family for a few moments telling yourself “Well here I am just another faulty female fulfilling those prophesies all over the internet.”

And I don’t want you to not see that you are growing up in a clusterfuck of rape culture victim blaming female-body shaming (all hail the thigh gap) – WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN – and it isn’t you at all at all at all. It’s us. Them. Them. Them.

We plunk you down in an insane world then belittle diminish fault and blame you as you struggle to find your place in an insane world.

You are me. You are him. You are her.

You are not the worst.

You are the motherfucking best.

Ours, at least.

If you read it, all that nonsense, don’t believe it.

Believe this. Believe it to the end, and I’ll see you on the other side, kid.

 

******

HEY LOCALS:

My dear friend Sarah Maren and I are teaching a writing & photography intensive workshop in Sacramento next month and it’s going to change lives. Well, maybe not. But it will be fun, and you will become a better writer and photographer.

8 spots left.

GET ON IT LET’S HANG OUT DAMNIT.

(also, how cute and innocent do I look in this drawing?!)

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I don’t know shit about Baltimore

by renegademama

I know a few things. I’ve studied them, or better yet, felt them. I’ve watched, heard about them. Better still, lived them. I know a few things.

But I don’t know shit about Baltimore.

I know CNN and Fox are liars, and they don’t know shit about Baltimore either.

I watch people talk.

Here’s a thread of women analyzing whether the mother who “beat” her kid for attempting to join the riots was right or wrong. As if that’s the fucking point. Perhaps turn that white gaze inward.

I’m pretty sure they don’t know shit about Baltimore.

Here’s the “violence is never the answer people.” That sounds nice. It would be even nicer if it were true. Violence, it seems to me, is America’s go-to move, abroad, and at home, among the subaltern, the black and brown poor.

Now you speak up. Now that CVS was injured. Now all of a sudden you care about their “neighborhood” and “property.”

Their lives though? Nah. Still not on the radar.

Where were you on violence when these children and men were killed, unarmed?

You don’t know shit about Baltimore either.

That’s for darn sure.

I read people saying the “rioters” are disgracing blacks, and I wonder why I never read the same about whites, when they burn and loot and break shit because their sports team didn’t win.

Do we call them “animals?” “Thugs?”(just use the “n-word.” it’s way more honest.)

I watch whites cling to the people of color in agreement with them, the ones yelling “looting is not the answer.”

“Look! A real black person agrees with me!” (definitive proof that they are correct, obvs.)

But I wonder if those people, whatever color, know shit about Baltimore, or West Baltimore, to be exact.

As in: Disenfranchised people of color living in poverty, geographically and systematically removed from that which “we” (those of us not in their shoes) see, that which we know, that which we understand to be “life.”

And “America.”

Centuries of removal.

 

I move in, I move out. Maybe today I think about race. Maybe I don’t.

My newsfeed was eerily silent on Walter Scott, except from my black and brown friends. It occurs to me how choosy white liberals are. So enlightened, when it’s convenient.

I do it too. It sickens me.

A student told me during a class discussion about racism: “You get to not think about this if you don’t want to. I have to live it. Every day. No matter what.”

Her eyes were tired.

I leaned against the whiteboard (ironically) and couldn’t talk.

She said it all.

 

This ain’t no ivory tower material. These are lives. These are lives that are not mine.

I have no capacity to understand any of it unless I shut the hell up and listen to people who know something about Baltimore.

 

I read these words the past couple days, between driving my kids around and not worrying about getting shot:

The Baltimore Protests are About Freddie Gray and So Much More and Freddie Gray’s Death & Baltimore’s Ongoing State of Emergency by Arnebya Herndon.

Black America’s Baltimore schism: Why the Freddie Gray tragedy demands more serious soul-searching by Brittney Cooper, PhD.

This FB post by Erika Nicole Kendall. (Note: This now links to her blog since FB apparently deleted her post, which is a whole different problem, I think.)

And this one by Feminista Jones.

In support of Baltimore: Or; Smashing Police Cars is Logical Political Strategy by Radical Faggot

This Twitter essay by Jesse Williams

Nonviolence as Compliance, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Brutality of Police Culture in Baltimore by Conor Friedersdorf

Eyewitnesses: The Baltimore Riots Didn’t Start the Way You Think  by Sam Brodey & Jenna McLaughlin

 

It’s not lost on me that I’m SPEAKING (writing) the words “I need to shut up and listen.” In other words, not shutting up.

But silence seemed wrong. Silence feels like compliance. Silence could be listening and learning or it could be quiet derision, or ignoring, because I can. Because it’s comfortable and easy from a place of race and class privilege.

I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t say a word. Who cares? It does not matter. My voice is not the one to be heard, here.

I don’t know shit about Baltimore.

 

Do you?

 

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42 Comments | Posted in politics | April 29, 2015

Sometimes you have to settle for standard human

by renegademama

I have backed myself into a corner with this “truth-telling” thing. Here, on this blog.

You know, there really is no such thing in writing. As soon as the words come out they are untrue, because they seem to contain the whole, but they are never the whole. They appear but are never complete, full, entire, because they are only a manifestation, a creation, a curating, a picking and choosing.

They are the nebulous mess pinched and squeezed and formed into a linear string of words. They have no power to tell “the truth.” It’s not their fault.

We needn’t blame them. Or their creator, really.

It’s all just a question of which string I form, which piece I tell, which story becomes “the one.”

I get really fucking tired of the internet with its inspirational quotes all day. I think if people fail they should admit that they failed. That shit is inspirational as fuck.

My favorite is when people tell me about a failure then post inspirational quotes about the value of failure but never admit publicly their own failure.

I guess it doesn’t apply to them. Or something.

We are so fucking crazy.

Sometimes we just have to settle with “standard human,” you know?

Dear internet, Sometimes you just have to be a standard human.

But nobody wants that. That won’t get many likes. Even Instagram can’t filter that shit into glory.

 

Alright. You want the fucking truth?

I am lost. I am tired of the bullshit. I am tired of the internet. I’m tired of the thing in me that seems to let everybody in and then gets too tired to keep them here. The life-suckers. I’m tired of them. My  friend circle has shrunk to very few humans. I imagine that is something I should have done years ago, but it takes what it takes to realize you have the “let everybody in” disease.

I am tired of my social media near-addiction. I am tired of escaping into the small rectangular box of my iPhone. I am tired of my husband being gone and the realization that it won’t end for 5 more months. I’m tired of no time or space or privacy to write, of working at the fucking preschool when I want to be revising my book.

I’m tired of my 4-year-old saying NO to simple requests and the feeling I have toward her by the end of the day sometimes. I’m tired of nursing all night. I’m tired of my back aching, and the 50 pounds I want to lose. I’m tired of the way I turn to food to give me what it cannot.

I’m tired of my life right now in pretty much every direction and it feels relentless and boring and go ahead. Tell me how fast it goes.

I don’t know that. I don’t feel that every day when I realize my firstborn will be driving in 3.5 years and the baby I had 5 minutes ago is almost one year old.

THERE ARE NO CONFLICTING EMOTIONS IN BASEBALL.

 

A few nights ago Arlo was up for 6 or 7 hours straight, on my arm, dozing, crying, not feeling well. When he finally went to sleep I rolled over with the most profound relief and thought “oh thank God” and breathed and my body felt good and beautiful to be on its own, but just as I was drifting off he kicked me in the back, my ribs, his toes pinching my skin. It felt huge, violent, like a final kick on a broken body, a sucker punch. A last straw.

I wanted to cry, pass him off. Somebody take this baby!

But there was nobody else.

So I rolled over and nursed him again instead, since that kick was the beginning of awakening.

For him, at least. (Mine I hope is on its way.)

You think I don’t see this stream of self-pity? I do. You think I don’t know it’s ridiculous? I do.

I get it, as I fall apart.

This is not new. It happens occasionally. The only thing I know is that I will be rebuilt. I always am. The universe gives me what I need. But I am in the thick of it and I am only a standard human.

Sometimes we have to settle for standard human.

IMG_1964Usually I wait and write to you when I’m through it, when I’m looking back from the other side and have something hopeful to say, or pretty, or interesting, even. But now I’m just in it. Right there in the middle. Not one single answer. I could have chosen a different story but this is the hardest one to tell. This one feels “truest,” though even in telling it I realize it’s not enough, because I drove home today and that was waiting for me on my porch (that, over there, on the left).

 

I’ve developed a little faith in the brokenness, now, in the tearing down, in the decimation. I’ve almost got a little affection for the old bastard, the way he sneaks in and deconstructs, piece by piece, leaves me here looking ridiculous, lost, unstable, unsure and clinging. Everything I try feels wrong. I feel small and false and wrong.

I smile when I think about what maybe will come out of the wrongness.

A friend who knows I’m fucked right now wrote me this text: “I can’t wait to read what comes out of you during this time.”

I thought it was the kindest thing I’ve ever heard. Her compassion. Her faith. In me, in the brokenness.

(thank you, Sarah.)

 

I have tiny moments I can give you, the way Arlo holds his arm up every time we get in or out of the car, walk out of the house. He’s ready to wave “hello.” He waves “hello” at every passerby. He waves “hello” to his siblings as they play outside. He waves hello with his whole fist, opens and closes it rhythmically, sometimes with a smile, sometimes just staring intently, waiting for a response from the recipient.

If it’s a passing car, I feel a little sad that they won’t respond. I tell him “They can’t see you, Arlo,” and kiss his cheek.

There are times in life that are meant to be survived, trudged through, just one foot in front of the other into and through the gray. There are times when the world doesn’t wave back, and you don’t know why. You’re trying. You’re looking. Your arm is held up there stupidly, ready, for a glance back or a grin or laugh.

If you’re lucky, you get a kiss on the cheek as a consolation prize, and another day to get through, to carry you through, to the other side, again.

Until then we keep waving, with our whole motherfucking fist, telling the truth and lies, looking up, over, until time robs us into a new day, a new story of the same old human.

In that dawn we look back and can hardly remember.

It’s just too damn bright I guess.

 

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hey Arlo just keep on waving

 

76 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | April 19, 2015