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Monday, August 8, 2011

Family Matters

Oh, how I love an email war.

Last Saturday, my birthday, Mom woke me up to let me know my Aunt and Uncle and their friend, her Northwestern Mutual insurance agent, were here. She had let me know the day before that they might be coming over, but never got back to me with specific details about when this shit was going down, so I thought maybe they'd chosen to meet another time. I'm my mothers's power of attorney because she's functionally illiterate, so it was important that I be there for the meeting. She couldn't write a check without me. I thought maybe they'd meet on Monday or something since, after all, it was my birthday.

The night before, I went to sleep on a pain pill and, a heavy dose of antihistimines (earlier that night I'd volunteered to clean cages at a no-kill cat shelter) and forgetting I'd taken both of those, I rang in my birthday with a shitty mixed drink of Jarrito's and gin. Because the day before my uncle had come over and finished off my shitty bottle of Aldi wine that I'd open and was saving for my birthday toast, because that's what in my budget. I had one glass when a network TV show I'd interned for aired the night before that, and figured I'd have the rest on Saturday. I didn't mind, I know Mom was being gracious and hospitable when he saw it and wanted it, and besides it was the cheap shit and told me through her that he promised to replace it.

So Saturday, after all the feduciary matters were settled, my uncle brings out a bag that obviously contains a bottle - of course, I figure it is for me. I figure wrong. He starts in with a teary preface about how one of the people there is going above and beyond to make sure my mom's affairs are in order. Turns out he's thanking his friend the insurance agent!

Later, my uncle goes home and sees that I've posted to facebook (to my private network of friends) that my mom is making investments, and posts a lengthy reply chewing me out for sharing my mom's financial business, which he then refers to as "family" business, with the bums and idiots and strangers he judges my circle of friends to be. I don't want to make an issue of it, so I take the higher ground, sending him a reply that simply states, "grievance noted", and blocking him from seeing my facebook account.

He puts words in my mouth that I won't repeat for how he "knows" I'm talking about him on there now. I assure him that I have my mom's best interest in mind, point out that as my mother's legal representative for financial matters I should have been kept in the loop about what was going on, point out that she herself had asked me to get comparisons for which we had outstanding appointments, and nevertheless concede that in the end it was her decision what to do so even though I personally felt that she was being pressured into making a decision based on his trust for somebody we don't know (when even the insurance agent himself recommended we shop around to make sure we're confident we're getting the best deal) I stood by her. Obviously. I wrote out the check.

I blocked my uncle from seeing me on facebook. That was my solution. He then replied with backhanded apologies that evolved into immature, degrading, hurtful, vehement assessments about me, my character, my choices in life, etc. I think in regard to this he was confusing me with my brother, which I'll discuss more later.

This uncle has never been a close part of my life, though he and my aunt spent time with my parents a lot more before I was born. I have one fuzzy memory of my aunt and uncles' wedding, then of a steak dinner at their house with his mother when I was maybe in third grade. After that, my aunt called me once when I was in my early 20's just to check in with me, a very nice gesture that unfortunately didn't pan out, and another time she called and talked with my mom while I was there because my uncle was put into a mental hospital and she didn't know at the time if he'd ever be coming out. That is my entire experience with this uncle who feels it's his right to put me into place. He had also pointed out that I should (without really knowing him at all, I guess) respect his point of view because he's had his share of misery that I won't go into.

Now about my brother. He's ten years older than me, so my uncle knew him better from way back when. Before I was born my dad's health was better in two ways: For one, he didn't suffer the lung issues he developed when I was a child. The other thing is that after I was born he and my mom worked hard to save money and live a better life, which included his becoming a sometimes abusive alcoholic. My brother dropped out of high school, got into drugs, worked menial jobs for a couple years or so at the most, and lived with my parents until it was, I'll just say "mutually agreed upon" that he finally move out and get on with his life at the age of 35. I was not the problem child.

I graduated a semester early with highest honors. Still 17 years old at the time, I took a year off after that to work and pursue freelance writing before starting college, which I excelled at but later put off when I got married and started a family. I'm back in school now on grants after I got divorced and moved back in with my parents, with the agreement that they would take us in now so I could pick up where I left off, to make something better of myself and take care of my mom when she needed me. My dad was already very sick at the time, and my promise to him was that I would take care of my mom. He died last April.

After being laid off from my job in December, which was perfect timing since I was open to ushering him through the last days of his life, he paid me a small stipend before he died because he wanted me to be able to not have to worry about working right away so I would be able to take care of everything that had to be put into order for my mom. My dad had always run the business of the home. In that regard, he did everything for her not only because as the man he felt it was his place do to so, but because she is functionally illiterate. She can't even read her own mail. So he gave me a little money to live on for the summer so I could get school supplies for my daughter, etc. and do whatever I had to to stay sane. Then he passed away too soon and left me the challenge of figuring out how to run the business of his household as my legacy. I have and am stepping up to the plate doing everything I can to watch out for Mom and keep her comfortable.

This is the first time I've been a stay at home mom or care giver or whatever the proper job title would be, and I'm itching to work outside the home but know my mom needs me to be available to her on a chaotic basis still. Besides that, with my daughter on summer vacation it wouldn't have made sense for me to start temping or something just to bring in a couple hundred dollars a month. Even if I were lucky enough to find a good job in this economy, I wouldn't be able to take it because if I make over a certain amount, I would risk losing my grants and give up my chance on a better future.

My dad had a decent of money hidden away in a separate account in only his name, because near the end of his life, while he was home-bound, he had started to work towards escape fantasies that included leaving my mother so he wouldn't have to put up with "all that crap". He designated me his power of attorney right before he died so that I could cash him out and help set her up for living the rest of her life without him. I took my small stipend  and not a penny more, though realistically a broke-ass advantageous welfare scum like my uncle takes me to be could just as easily have pocketed the lump sum at that point. I have way more integrity than that. When a check card came in my name, I charged a pack of gum to it to activate it and bought her something to cover the balance, that's how tight a ship I run.

I don't think I'm at all out of line to look into other options for my mom, or to speak up when I think she's being rushed into doing things, Yet the verdict from the Buttinsky clan is that I'm a disgrace for not jumping up in down waving my hands in excitement while they're stepping on my feet and nudging my mom towards making monumental financial discussions without me. And for not bowing down, butt up in the air to kiss their feet in appreciation of coming to her grand salvation. (I should say, my uncle is reacting this way. My aunt has yet to speak for herself, but my guess is that this is a result of his mental illness and she's politely trying to not get involved, though he backhandedly claims these hurtful emails he sends me are a joint decision.)

In light of what I know of him, I'm writing this off as an episode of manic rage, but of course it hurts me to be accused of being a disrespectful freeloader while I'm making dedicated, heart-felt decisions for how I can best take care of my branch of this family. and it causes severe, irreparable damage to the larger circle of our "family" with whom I would otherwise have been glad to foster connections even though they have not been a part of my life for over three decades.

What the hell? Don't a get a chance to grieve? Or breathe? I've always thought it was a shame that I didn't have stronger ties to my dad's side of the family, or my mom's for that matter, who are all in Japan, none of whom I've ever met. But this sort of thing makes me glad I've kept a peaceful distance.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Really. A Gem. Lovely.

I was standing in my parent's living room, naked from the waist down. I think my brother was sitting on the couch watching, but I'm not sure about that, the background was all pretty much a blur. I think my mom and dad and brother were all there actually, but they just kept running past me, stopping to stare but so blurred out they weren't really a part of it. But I was somewhat embarrassed that they were watching me like that.

I wasn't feeling any pain, but I was very much aware that I was in the process of giving birth. I worried about dripping stuff on my parents' carpet. I looked at my feet, they were huge and swollen. I could barely stand up, so I figured I should squat.

It seemed weird that I wasn't in any pain. I wanted to be sure of what was going on, so I froze in that pose for a moment, steadied myself by putting my left hand on the worn-out armrest of the love seat, and ran the fingers of my right hand around the wide-stretched rim of my vagina. Nope, it didn't hurt, but yep, something was about to crown.

It was time to push. I felt a warm gush of liquid flow over my fingers. I looked at my hand, it was covered with blood mixed with a yellowish fluid. I held my breath, squatted, and squeezed.

It only took one push for the head to come out. It was not an infant, that I could tell. I also didn't feel like it was my offspring. I took absolutely no ownership of it. It could not have been mine - it wasn't even human.

The head was larger than a baby's would've been, but it slipped out easily, I was proud of myself for doing such a good job of it, even though it was so fucking creepy. The bones of the skull had been squished into a cone, and the head was covered in more bloody stuff, it kind of coated it, like burned on barbecue, but wetter.

The thing had a huge head but a little body. It had pointed ears, old man's eyes, and sharp jagged teeth. I held it up at an arm's length to see if it was attached to me, if I had to keep on pushing to expel the afterbirth. There wasn't any. It wasn't mine. There was no cord connecting us. But still it called me mama.

What Doesn't Matter

I learned there's an anatomical definition of meniscus. Perhaps I'd heard it before in reference to, or deference of, the patella. My left knee has been acting up today, my left shoulder blade more so. True, I'm a hypochondriac, but I'm also fat and angry, and that is why I'm having a heart attack. See how easy it is to die? To just sit here and allow the membranes to malfunction? Thinking of pigs: snorting, obese. Grotesquely human. Flesh to be pulled. Ribs,sternum. Pigs as angels hovering above fat, hungry humans snorting grotesquely. Pigs as angels relishing the irony of it all. Pigs as angels standing between the obese and Bayer aspirin. Pigs as angels smacking their lips in puddles of marinade.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Recipe for My Nutso Ball Soup

I'd wondered for a while if I could make something like matzoh ball soup using crackers instead of matzoh. Usually I buy the matzoh ball soup mix but it's a little pricey. So, today I woke up craving matzoh ball soup for breakfast and I decided to try it. I 'd just been to the Asian market and had beautiful fresh veggies on hand so I couldn't resist taking it in that direction. It worked great and was so luscious! So here's how you can make your own.


1 carton chicken or veggie broth
1/2 stack of saltines (unsalted would've worked better, maybe even the whole wheat kind)
1 egg
sliced fresh mushrooms, baby bok choy - or whatever veggies you prefer
1 tbsp fresh ground ginger, or maybe 1/2 tsp powdered ginger, or leave it out all together, your choice

Crush the crackers in a large bowl. They don't need to be pulverized, just pretty well broken apart. Add the egg and mix it well. Wait about 10 min. to let the egg soak into the cracker crumbs. Then start heating up the broth. Bring it to a boil. Form the cracker stuff into balls - I made mine into 6 spoon size balls but you could make them bigger or smaller if you want. They don't expand that much so make them about the size you want them to be in the end. Lower the heat a little and let it simmer for 10 min. Uncover add the veggies and ginger and let it simmer for about 10 min more. If you're adding any leafy stuff, wait longer and add that just before serving, like I put in the sliced crispy part of the bok choy first then added the leafy part when it was almost finished.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The List

I will wake up before the alarm
swimming through sleep's fatty layers
to the skin, the armor
of my new day
to toast and tea,
kitty cat sirening hello

when child is gone
it will be time to sort and fight
through the rest of it,
things neglected and unclean,
and the necessity of sleep
longing for a day of dreams
when the promise of Lover
is worth keeping
my eyes open.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

am I awake

kid, cat, laundry -thin threads

still in bed
no dreams remain

Monday, November 29, 2010

Re-uptake Inhibited

I popped the first pills an hour and a half ago. Was half expecting an allergic reaction to the anti-biotic, though that hasn't happened since I was 10 years old and so overweight they gave me something strong enough to heal a cow. It's the second med that's surprising me - I haven't been so dizzy since, well, not that long ago but a recent evening involving an Irish bar and a Groupon where I learned I like gin mixed with diet 7-up. It's kinda nice having an additional excuse to stay in bed. I've had such a ball so far, watching Youtube clips of Ellen (P!nk's pregnant!) and trying to educate myself on whatever given thing came to mind that I do not really need to know, such as which celebrities have had abortions, and how the Brangelina clan is doing. Also, that Jake Gyyylllleennnnhhaaallll and Taylor Swift (who I thought was 15, what the fuck?) are dating and spent Thanksgiving together at a coffee shop in New York drinking maple lattes made with syrup from Vermont. Hot damn! The excitement here is overwhelming. In a bold move of self-preservation, I got up to nuke some leftover Stouffer's chicken parmesan and sip some cool water, in case the dizziness was due to hunger, dehydration, or a low blood sugar episode. Though the latter has yet to be ruled out, I'm judging by the movement of the room that it's more likely a drug-induced scenario. I'm more affected by Celexa than I've ever been high on weed, not that that says much because the green stuff really doesn't affect me. That's probably a good thing, I leave it for those who enjoy it more and get first dibs on their hospitable snack platters, gorging myself on chips, cheeses, and Townhouse crackers before they get the munchies Win-win....

Getting Nowhere

I dreamed my daughter was in Children's Hospital. I left her there, had to go home for some reason. Started riding my bike through the trailer park to get to the bus stop and the seat was too low, so I pulled over to try to fix it. A short balding man with an olive complextion approached me. I got uncomfortable when he got too close, but I thought maybe he was going to be neighborly and help me adjust my bike seat. He leaned in even closer and threatened me, saying I should move, then he went into a trailer. He came out and got into a big red van, drove it up a little ways then backed it around as if he was going to park it right where I was standing, just so I'd have to move. I walked my bike up a short way and went back to fumbling with the hardware underneath my bike seat. There was a set of hardware on each side of the back of the seat, and I couldn't see how it went on. I loosened the first set too far and it fell off, but into my hand. There were four small pieces and I didn't know which way they went on, except for the cap that could only go on the end of the bolt. I tried to loosen the other side more carefully but it fell off too, and I didn't catch it that time, it fell to the ground and I couldn't find where all the pieces went. I raised the seat up then tried to put things back together however it made sense, but I couldn't get it right. I asked a lady sitting on a bench near the curb if she'd give me her thoughts on it, She came over and looked but then turned her back to me without saying a word. I knew by then I had missed more than one bus and wouldn't be back at the hospital in time. I felt more frustrated about having to walk my bike home then hike to the bus than anything else, I wasn't even really worried about my daughter being in the hospital. I was glad in a way, that someone else was taking care of her instead of me.


When I finally made it back to the hospital I stopped at the coffee shop. I was going to get donut holes and a soda for my daughter, but I didn't know if I had enough money, I was trying to figure it out. They poured me a coffee and started getting the rest ready, I had to stop them and ask how much it would cost. Then I checked my wallet and I only had loose change. But he'd already poured the coffee and was pushing it towards me, which made me feel like I had to buy it even though I didn't want it. I looked for something that cost less than the donut holes and found some day-old bread, said I wanted that instead and they were really pissed. Also, I couldn't afford the other drink if I bought the coffee. I figured they'd give my daughter what she wanted to drink since she was an in-patient anyways. I could get coffee too, in the family lounge, so it didn't make sense that I was going to pay for it. The cashier asked me for two dollars. I counted my change. I didn't have that much, it was mostly nickels and dimes. So I took out my debit card and they looked at me like, oh really, when I motioned to swipe it. I smiled and said, yep, and what's even better is I'm not even sure if this will go through, thinking maybe they should've asked me if I wanted coffee in the first place, but also how sad it was that I might not even have two dollars.


Another day I was getting a ride to the hospital. We got a little lost and stopped at some store we hadn't been to before and realized there was a restaurant in that plaza that we'd heard of on TV, but it was the only one in the city and it was way the hell up north so we'd never thought of going to it. It was a place that had an optional all-you-can-eat buffet that was known for having really good fish. We peeked in. It was hideously bright, everything from napkins to people done in an unwelcoming scheme of navy and white. I saw someone there who knew me, a really fat family of five. They motioned towards us to have a seat and talk for a while, told us how good everything was. The mom was my age but looked fifty, she had a bad perm and was talking with her mouth full, globs of fish and cole slaw dripping from the corners. Her son made room for me to sit next to him. He was tiny, concave, eyes to the table in a permanent slouch, almost blond with his hair in an overgrown crew cut, wearing a plain white t-shirt. He wasn't eating much but kept filling his cup with fruit punch or whatever it was they had on tap that was syrupy red. His had two sisters, one with long straight brunette hair in pigtails and ribbons and a fancy green dress, the other a messy curly blonde-haired toddler with hung open too wide, food all over her face, wearing a pastel pajama set that couldn't pass for street clothes. The girls were both round like their mom.The dad was on the tall-side, dark-haired and moustached, he had a slightly muscular build like he could've been in law enforcement. The kind of guy who could eat six servings of everything, belch hard once then have the rest of  it all go to muscle. I hadn't seen him before and wondered if he was just an uncle or friend who'd come along for dinner as he seemed wasted on that family.


They tried as best they could to give us directions on how to get back on track with where we needed to go. My friend was driving but I could tell he wasn't listening to what they said. He just wanted to eat there even though we were late and lost with my daughter waiting alone in the hospital. He begged me to stay. I tried to tell him no but he before I could answer, he got up fast with wide eyes and licking his lips grabbed a big blue and white paper food tray and started to fill it with deep fried crap. I sat there mad because I knew he wasn't paying, yet he didn't give me the chance to say we couldn't eat there because I didn't have any money, and because I'd have to sit there smelling the greasy fish and soggy potatoes. By then it was dark outside. I got up and left but didn't know where I was going or how I was going to get there.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sorry to wake you there [sleeping at my feet].

Animatronic cat
ears come awake.
Paw outstretched white tufts of fur
between fingers practiced claws
awkward nub of thumb
other paw tucked
in slumber still. Might it be
treats, mama? Good
morning  yawn

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Tonight I couldn't sleep,
thoughts flowing across my face,
cascading ringlets, like Taylor Swift
or some medieval princess,
harlot, whore, madam,
Madonna, Venus.

Tonight I couldn't sleep,
so I put my panties back on
drove to where you park your car
not knowing if it was
the top or bottom floor
following just the word of God
and the yelp of dogs
perceiving malice.

Tonight I couldn't sleep,
and decided instead to drive
you back across the water
for the snakes to repent as you
kiss stone hard as cock
or the brick in my hand
as I rush past
the shop where you
sometimes sit staring
out the window.

Tonight I couldn't sleep,
but I had plenty of fuel and
matches, Diet Coke and strong Irish
liquor, cut lengths of blonde
rope, mild narcotics and cheap
cigarettes which make accidents
seem more circumstantial.

Tonight I couldn't sleep,
so I freed all the animals
and left you there
to be unidentified
and easily

Friday, October 29, 2010


Today I read in The Onion about places in Milwaukee that are built on top of graveyards.

I met Garrett for dinner and told him about it, how an old newspaper report said school kids had found some skulls and were playing with them in the street. He said he had always wanted to own a skull.

I paused for moment, intrigued by his admission. Then, realizing I might be able to fulfill that desire, I offered him mine.

I asked him if he'd decorate my skull, or just have the bare bone show. Neither one of us had any particular design in mind, but we felt it was worthy of consideration.

We went on to debate the legalities of it and considered the logistics of it in a bit too much detail.

He figured if he put my head on an ant hill for a week or so with a bucket or something covering it up, it ought to be clean enough that he could then soak the bone in bleach so my skull would be stripped clean and ready for display.

He said he'd done the same with a trophy fish head once and it worked like a charm.

I didn't think he'd get away with letting the ants clean off my head, so we brainstormed until I felt I had to stop him when he suggested "it might work to make some kind of a stew."

A little while later there was singing and clapping in honor of someone who was celebrating their birthday. Garrett's birthday is in February, he commented that it's only a few months before his birthday too and asked me what he'd be getting.

I tried to counter by asking him what he wanted. He didn't answer, just smiled at me and asked again what he'd get.

"You'll get the same thing from me for your birthday as what you'll get from me when I die", I said, not missing a beat, not having to explain more. He knew exactly what I was getting at. Of course.

He'll get head.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


beggers            choosers


how I chased
my everything
                          (I hate)

seeing his          in her
                     (car)             (drive)

not enough           for my love

because I had to get
involved                      (the police)

I hate            everything

but I know
it could have been
much worse

Monday, October 25, 2010

Skating Away

I don't know how I found myself
there, when somewhere else
I might have been more capable of
skill or grace. Perhaps I need
to push harder, wind up
my fingers inside the dust-
heavy gray  laces and
tug tight, chancing them
to snap.  I jumped
and spun. I could fly
but desperately. Open
rotation. Even my most
lucid attempt barely
got me off the ground.
Spinning around and
popping open. Still,
something made me
try and try.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Losing My Religion

I took an online quiz to find out what religion is most in line with my beliefs. Because that's got to be the best way to find a new religion, of course.

Your Results

The top score on the list below represents the faith that Belief-O-Matic, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks most closely matches your beliefs. However, even a score of 100% does not mean that your views are all shared by this faith, or vice versa.
Belief-O-Matic then lists another 26 faiths in order of how much they have in common with your professed beliefs. The higher a faith appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking.
How did the Belief-O-Matic do? Discuss your results on our message boards.
1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (86%)
3. Neo-Pagan (79%)
4. New Age (75%)
5. Mahayana Buddhism (72%)
6. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (72%)
7. Theravada Buddhism (71%)
8. Secular Humanism (68%)
9. New Thought (63%)
10. Taoism (58%)
11. Hinduism (57%)
12. Orthodox Quaker (52%)
13. Reform Judaism (50%)
14. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (50%)
15. Scientology (50%)
16. Nontheist (46%)
17. Baha'i Faith (40%)
18. Jainism (37%)
19. Seventh Day Adventist (27%)
20. Sikhism (26%)
21. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (21%)
22. Orthodox Judaism (21%)
23. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (17%)
24. Eastern Orthodox (15%)
25. Islam (15%)
26. Jehovah's Witness (15%)
27. Roman Catholic (15%)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No cupcakes without alcohol.

I'm fucking tired.

I'm freaking out.

My cupcakes suck and there's only a week and a half for me to perfect my recipe.

And bake a minimum of twelve dozen of the little motherfuckers. Make them look good.

And figure out a way to transport them without incident to the Harley Davidson Museum.

I can't back out unless I forfeit my 40 bucks.

I think it would cost less to show up with cupcakes and get that deposit back.

I can't get over how it doesn't make sense that you don't get anything back of what you put into supplies, etc. unless you win.

But the reason I wanted to do this is just so I could say I did it. So I am.




I need to come up with something good.




Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On Thursdays

Garrett and I went to see Grown Ups tonight. On the way in to the theater, he mentions that his friend Chad asked him to go fishing on Thursday, because it is Chad's birthday and that's how he'd like to spend it.

Garrett and I have seen each other just about every day since we met almost a year ago. When he asked if it was all right that he go fishing, he had an edge of apology in his voice, as though he suspected we had some definite plans for Thursday night that he'd forgotten about. As if he were breaking an important date with me to fulfill Chad's birthday wish.

I say no, we don't have plans,  don't worry about it. In fact, Thursday night is the Grey's Anatomy season premier. So I was planning on staying home and watching that.


Near the end of the movie there is a scene where Chris Rock's character, who is a house husband,  confronts his workaholic wife about not feeling appreciated for all the work that he does. She listens to what he's saying then offers to take him out for dinner once a week to show him how special he is.

On Thursdays.

The first thing that goes through my head when someone mentions Thursday night is - That's Grey's Anatomy night.  So I'm thinking that right as Chris Rock answers - That's Grey's Anatomy night. I didn't plan that, really. I hadn't seen a movie clip or anything. How could I have known?

Garrett and I both laugh out loud.

He flashes me a loving smile.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Flying Lessons

just shoes

above them
a halo of

toes teetering
over the edge

just shoes

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Forward Thinking

I'm getting up an hour early to to take a shower and put the clothes I washed earlier today into the dryer because tonight my dumb ass flat forgot.

I'd like to have soup for breakfast, even if it means I'll be dining alone again.I'll dress extra special to have breakfast with myself, but I will still wear comfortable shoes, of course.

I want to make it to the post office to get .98 cent stamps, because this week I'm in a daily postcard swap where I'm sending to Finland.

I'll read another five or six chapters of The Mermaid Chair and maybe make it to a budget movie.

I'll document my dreams.

I have a skirt project in mind.

I might attack my clusterfucked bookshelf.

Or put my clothes away.

I know I'm making progress but it feels like I'm standing still.

I miss my cat and my Garrett.

OK, goodnight.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Brain Damage

I needed to wash the dishes. Needed to.
Because I was so worried.
There was no place I'd rather be than in his kitchen scrubbing the shit out of a pan.
Because the thought at the back of my mind was ready to come forth.
Hitting me like a bullet through the back of the brain.
Shit, John Kennedy. Tsk! Tsk! Brains all over the seat of the car.

It was a long labor.
She'd been stuck for quite a while.
I only consented to the c-section because of my fear of having a brain damaged child.
If it weren't for that, I would have refused, even if it killed us.
It's been almost ten years. It's been a difficult ten years.
She's been difficult.

She's still stubborn.
She's seeing to a shrink tomorrow.
To be screened for ADHD.
Amongst other things.
What if it's not just a behavioral anomaly.

What if we waited too long with her stuck in me, head bent back, her chin forced against my cervix.
It wasn't the cord. She wasn't oxygen deprived. But there were signs of infection.
Maybe something went wrong with her basal ganglia.
The thought hadn't occurred to me until today that maybe she's brain damaged.
No one will have seriously evaluated this until tomorrow.

They say God doesn't give you more than you can handle.
But this was medical intervention.
Crude science.
Not God.

That would be something.
If we'd gone ten long years without confirming it.
That she was brain damaged.
Thinking all this time that she was just careless and annoying.
Whatever it is, I'm her mom.
So it's all my fault.

I cooked something else so there would be more dishes to do.
So I could keep my hands busy in the warm soapy water.
Crying to myself. Staying on task.
Taking out my frustrations on that pan.
Being meticulous.
Trying not to fuck things up.
I needed to have control over something.
Since I'd already botched everything else.
Since there are some things I know I can't handle.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spoiled Rotten

I opened the refrigerator door and took out a bag of rotting strawberries. Mom was in the dining room chanting. She'd been on her knees for hours.

She never would throw food away if there was any way possible of saving some of it. Now she's getting forgetful so it's even worse, and like her hoarding, it's become unpredictable.

The other day I found empty 12-pack soda cartons in the basement, along with a tied-off plastic grocery bag filled with some Rubbermaid storage containers that I just bought a couple weeks ago so I'd have something sturdy to pack my lunch in now that I have a job. I suppose at least that was one mystery solved.

I considered the strawberries, bundled neatly in a fold-top lunch bag that was tied in a small, tight knot at the top, weighing the decision whether to toss them out while she wasn't looking. Her back's to me while she's chanting, the altar facing the east wall of the dining room. She sits on an old couch cushion Japanese style, her legs folded under her compactly, like bat's wings.

I burned my dinner and had to open the kitchen fan to let out the smoke. Mom glances over at me like I've just shit outside the toilet and she'll have to clean it up, such scorn. I'm having cereal and soy milk in lieu of what I'd planned to have for dinner, I decide to cut what's usable from the biggest of the strawberries and add it to my bowl. I do this in part out of respect for my mother's habits, but mostly to try to slake her ill spirit preemptively, to pay in to this spiritually exhausting deal we have, to try to shut her up before she starts in with her goddamn nagging.

She's getting nasty in her old age.I don't talk to her anymore. I don't like her anymore. She chants all the time. I wonder what she's chanting for since she's always in such a foul temper around us, around the people she supposedly loves. She chants and shakes her head, as if it feeds her mean streak to commune with the mysterious characters inked on the scroll. It's supposed to bring her focus, lift her life up. It's disorienting to think how much effort she's putting into staying sour. She's mean to me. I'm waiting for her to die.

I shovel in a spoonful of cereal. I get a bite of half-rotten strawberry and shake my head, wondering why I'm eating it. I wonder if my mom is chanting about me as she shakes her head and tisks. I try to solve the mystery, find a trail that leads from her bitterness to some seed of genuine and justifiable concern, but it's so twisted, I can't identify a clear route. I hope to at least be able to assume she cares about me, that I've posed some cause for concern, but I haven't. All I've done is live my life, and somehow that isn't good enough. There's something wrong with me that she won't ever forgive. I'm foolish, a wasteful person who would throw out food instead of eating it, just because it's rotten.

I once went to a weight loss support group, where the most valuable thing I learned was that it's OK to not clean your plate, eventually food becomes biodegradable waste one way or another, it all ends up in the same place whether it's passed through you or not. And there's nothing wrong with being choosy about what things get to make that privileged journey through your system. It's a private road, after all.

I wonder if Mom is just over-protective about me getting hurt again, because I've been through so much, but I realize it's only me and the rest of the world who allow that kind of concession. Mom's been through worse, and as much as I would like to see her belligerence as a show of a deep-seated concern for my well-being, I know that's not the case. She's not worried about me getting hurt. She's always been the kind of person who would let me jump of the edge of the couch to let me learn my own lesson as to why not to do that. Let them jump, and fall, and get hurt, that's how they learn not to be so dumb. I've had a much easier life than she has. I'm spoiled, I haven't suffered enough. She's probably praying that I won't have it so easy, that I'll have to work for it, and earn it, that I'll fall and come crying to her so she can turn me away with my knees bleeding and my head banged up. I think that she's not that good a mom, to think that way I'll learn.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Surprise, surprise. Little Miss Complainer is having a hissy fit. She needs to get over herself, goddammit. God damn you. I haven't had any dinner yet so all I want is a moment of peace and a bite of my huge cranberry nut muffin.

Why is he giving me the thumb? What the hell? Does he expect me to get up? Does he want me to skeedattle? I haven't had any dinner yet so all I want is a moment of peace and a bite of my huge cranberry nut muffin.

I just sat down after lugging these chairs and all this other shit half way around the lake way from the trunk of his car. She's having a tantrum. I don't care. I haven't had any dinner yet so all I want is a moment of my peace and a bite of my huge cranberry nut muffin.

The hook is in her finger? OK, so take it out. Why's he giving me the thumb? Does he want me to take her to the bathroom to clip the wire? I haven't had any dinner yet so all I want is a moment of peace and a bite of my huge cranberry nut muffin.

The emergency room? What the hell? Godammit. God damn you. I haven't had any dinner yet so all I want is a moment of peace and bite of my huge cranberry nut muffin.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

So Far Beyond

I realized today how when I was a child there didn't seem to be any separation between my mom and I. She was my mother, that was who she was, all she was. What was hers was mine, and you couldn't tell where she ended and I began. No separation.

I also realized today how important it is for me to assert that I am not that kind of mother to my daughter. I cannot envision myself that way - mute, seemless.

My thoughts often turn to this, how different I am as a mom from how my mom was to me, weighing out the pluses and minuses of our personalities, sacrifices, styles. Adding or subtracting points for shows of courageousness, stupidity, selflessness.

Selfless acts can be a merit or a detriment, depending on the motive and the outcome, so they're what throw my thoughts into a tizzy.

As I was chaining our two bikes together with one lock it peeved me that she didn't bring her own, that I had to rig my line of safety to accommodate her. I realized how important it is for me to draw that line.

I think I'm a bad mom for being pissed that I have to share my bike lock. And I'm a cool mom for riding with my daughter so close to sun-down. And for ice cream. And for letting her ride my bike because she said hers was getting too small.

My mom would never have done that, so I think I won that one. I can't think of my mom as a person, just as my mom. She cooked dinners and complained about wet towels down the laundry chute. My full-Japanese mom, a homebody, functionally illiterate, culturally whack.

She had my dad come into the voting booth with her, to help her read the ballot. How could they even allow that?

Garrett read me a health advisory from a free fishing publication. According to the State of Wisconsin,  women beyond their childbearing years can eat unrestricted quantities of some types of mercury-laden fish.

I had a tubal ligation years ago. It failed once but there's been no more misfires since. More recently I had an endometrial ablation, and it seems to have worked, which means with I'll probably not have any more periods, so far so good. Therefore, you could say that I am beyond my childbearing years.

But I don't like fish. My mom is 73 and from a small fishing village in northern Japan. She'll eat whatever we catch. She's hardy. And expendable.

Let her eat what we won't and suck the poison down with the bones.