Monday, January 11, 2016

An open letter to my beloved siblings:

If you plan a vacation to Japan to intentionally visit the "Suicide Forest", do not anticipate that I will drop what I am doing to come save you when you are trapped as some forlorn ghost.

I love you, but come on.

Baleful Regards,
Your oldest sibling.

lists from 3 a.m.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Did I remember to change the office hours in my syllabus?

I must refill the school lunch account for Em. Those reminders are worse than the cheery "Hey! It's time for your student loan payment to be snatched out of your savings acct!"  You'd think that the .20 we own the school district is what is keeping the god dammed lights on.

Since I am awake, I might was well update my library order list. I've finished all my pleasure reading as of yesterday so it is either re-read the Genome book, or read work  things, which I do not want to read.  Let me order  40 books then obsessively read until I develop bedsores.

Cat. Honest to god.  You must scratch at your litter for like 35 minutes. There are no predators here. I get rid of your poop as soon as you vacate the space.  And do not fuck with the rabbit. He's sleeping. Like I should be.

Should I take more melatonin? Melly tonin. Mellie Tone-in. If I take more then the dreams will be off the fucking planet.  And not in a good way.  If I don't, I may stay awake until 5 or six, then collapse and wake up far too late.

It has now been six days since I've left the house.  I mean yeah, I shower and change clothes. But I don't LEAVE - not even to go get the mail. Fuck the mail. I think Terrence worries, but I am happy in my cave of flannel sheets and books and mugs of mint tea.  It isn't depression.

I will have acupuncture in a few days. I'll leave the house then. That will be good.

I should definitely not look at Korean skin care products. I should also not research when I can use my microdermabrasion tool again. It's bad enough that I own a microdermabrasion tool.

There is something I should remember....but I don't. I can feel it sliding out of my view.

It is not depression. I just need to keep a better schedule so I am not awake in the middle of the night.

I'm lonely, but I don't really want to see anybody. Sometimes this is how I feel about food. I am hungry but nothing appeals so I just wait until the hunger moves on.

I shall move a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer - and start the dishwasher. I like padding through the house at night, deep into the hours of 2 and 3 a.m. It makes me feel like a house-elf who only works when no one is looking.

I just finished a book in which the main character uses cutting to relieve his inner pain and shame to control his outward expressions of rage.  I've not dug at my skin for a long time, but this book woke something back up - I *felt* the urge when I read the descriptions of his cutting.  I think the author wanted to use the cutting as a literary device, or some abuse trope but I felt it.  Then I wondered if the author was a cutter and was whispering out to those of us who understand the appeal of harming ourselves in order to quiet the inner swirl.   I sometimes wonder if my obsession with my skin is a subversion of my desire to pick, pull, tug, rip at my own skin.

I wonder if I can point to the products on my shelf as a healthy foci of this obsession, a "see! I've mastered it" - which is all I ever really want, isn't it. Mastery.  If I focus hard enough, I will master it all. No one will unquiet me. My crumbley mortar will hold and repel.  I will reach across pain and sadness to an untouchable stillness, a zen of imperturbability. Safe.


This above is a typical cycle of small-m Mania that sometimes consumes me at night, particularly if I am not sleeping. Night is difficult for me.  I crave the silence, because it feels close, intimate, mine. However, I can spin, whirl, tumble into places in my mind that can exhaust me. Not simple physical exhaustion, but something deeper. Deeper than bone. 

I am all right, truly. I wake from these evenings aware of what has happened - embarrassed and a bit befuddled, but not scarred. 

These are my winter doldrums.

Death may take a holiday, but Vomiting does not

Thursday, December 24, 2015

An oldie, but goodie.  A "true from my life Tale"  ~ Christmas 2007

'Twas the evening of Christmas, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except for Dawn Rouse;
The stockings were empty,the gifts all unwrapped,
The cookies were eaten, I had not yet napped;

My child finally nestled all snug in her bed,
The two hours of sleep she'd gotten finally messed with her head;
And Terrance in his skivvies, and me, feeling groovy,
Had just settled down to watch a bootleg movie,

When out in the hall there arose such a splatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Terrance was out cold, I was all by myself,
To deal with the issue that presented itself.

The moon on the breast of the newly puked vomit
Gave the lustre of pearls to the puddles upon it,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But my own puking child, covered toe to ear.

The fluid spew forth, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment she was getting quite sick.
More rapid than eagles the vomit, it came,
That I whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Lysol! now, Pinesol! now, Bleach and Windex,
On, Comet! on Downey! And Thank God I bought another box of Tide!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now clean it up! Wash away! Wash away all!"

As dry heaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
My daughter sat before the toilet and cried.
And then, in a twinkling, I knew without doubt
That my evening would be fraught with effluvia all about .

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
More vomit flew out of her mouth with a bound.
She was wearing new jammies, picturing Hannah Montana,
which were now all tarnished with what looked like banana;

the bundle of toys she had flung on her floor,
Now looked as if they'd been involved in a gelatinous war.
Her eyes -- how they watered!! Her forehead all sweaty!
Her PJ's were covered, blankets, rugs and Poor Bitty.

Her droll little mouth was drawn up in an "O",
making it easier forthwith from the vomit to flow;
I leapt over puddles of still steaming puke
to reach my poor daughter and give no rebuke;

While trying quite hard not to step in the yak
I murmured kind words, held her hair, rubbed her back.
And where was my husband, I hear you all wonder,
A sleeping pill he'd taken had put him quite under;

Once finished, I started a nice steamy shower,
And pre pared her toothbrush with all of my power;
I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
And stripped down her bed, rugs, stuffed animals, towels, sheets, pillowcases, dear god, you can't believe how much stuff she actually HIT with her vomit....

My daughter I fetched from the shower with care,
and dressed her in clean clothes and braided her hair,
Her temperature I took, it was 104.
I knew that I needed to also clean the floor,

And stuffing the laundry inside of the washer,
I found the kids motrin, a bucket and water.
I knew for a fact that I would not sleep that night,
so I cleaned up the floor, separated colors and whites.

My daughter was sick, there would be no sleep for me;
And indeed there was little, between the puke and the pee.
But I heard Influenza exclaim as it drove out of sight
"Got you Bitches! Enjoy your puke filled Christmas Night!"

* and still it continues- Day Two. Maybe sleep tonight?


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I recline in the chair and breathe slowly.

In. Out. In.

The task is for me to bring my body into some sort of stasis, consciously relaxing the parts in which I am carrying tension. This is harder than it sounds and I scan up and down, then back up. Eventually I can feel my muscles start to release.

The acupuncture needles are placed and I breathe into them, acknowledging twinges as the needles slide into my body.

On the best days I move into a twilight sleep. In this fuzzy liminal state I slow my breathing and concentrate on moving the energy into the places on my body that are stagnant. I feel pain leave, replaced by warmth.

On the worst days I fight the looping coils of my brain, talking, tumbling, toiling to make sense of the world and my place in it. My pain ebbs, but there is no surrender on those days.


Tonight Terrance asks me if I think I am depressed.

It is too hard for me to judge. I don't think so, but maybe I am.

 There has been no quiet in my brain and without that quiet I remain in constant agitation, a human perpetual motion machine.

Soon I will be able to rest.


Thanksgiving Hamburger 2005

Friday, November 27, 2015

I am in Detroit. Having Thanksgiving with this same family. I still occasionally say "But the Baby wants a hot dog!"


A week has passed. There are no left overs of succulent roast turkey in my fridge- but then again that is not unusual. I don’t cook. In fact, what is in my fridge at the moment is a large-ish bottle of some vanilla soy smoothie stuff that Terrance has been tricking Emily into drinking and my large bottle of Japanese Plum wine. No milk for our child, but plenty of wine for the mommy.

So we went to New York and spent time with my in-laws. I love my in-laws. I am very, very lucky – I know. My mother in law, the namesake for our child, was a bad ass 60’s Black Panther mama- I have seen the gun toting motorcycle pictures to prove it. She raised two children in Detroit, and both are still alive and reasonably well-adjusted adults. She has been married four times. I have met all her ex-husbands. For, in some cultural phenomenon that seems to exist only with my husband’s family, all ex-spouses LIKE each other. They visit, and talk, and come to each other’s parties. I watched Terrance’s father (Husband #1, father of both children) sit and chat at length with husband number 3, while current Husband Number 4 brought them fresh drinks.

Alas, in my family, when a divorce or breakup occurs, the Ex’s are cast out, never to be seen again - like reenactment of Lucifer's breakup with God. We are not forgiving and jovial people. We are white. We are vengeful. We are bitter, bitter people.

So, I expected to enjoy my time with my mother in law. For, after all, she is the woman who took me aside before my marriage and said –“If he ever hits, you, I expect you to knock his ass out. If you have to kill him, I’ll understand. I’ll bail you out of jail, cause while he is my son and I love him , but he’s a man, honey. Women have to stick together”

Instant Love. Really.

So, imagine my surprise when my mother in law emerged in New York City, having taken on the personality of an elderly, embittered white woman.

While I will not detail every complaint, every sigh, every comment – for it is too exhausting for even me to relive – I will give you the vignette of what will henceforth be known as “Hamburger Thanksgiving 2005”

My Mother in law wanted to see the statue of Liberty. Not go out to the Island, just see it from Battery Park. OK. All right. We take a taxi from E80th to Battery Park – quite a long taxi ride – and spend 8 minutes standing against the silhouette of the Statue for photos- then back into a taxi to go to Times Square. Now, I am in the Taxi of the Sinus , garlic breathed, taxi driver. I am queasy from the stench. My eyes PLEAD with my husband. Open the window, open the window I send with my wifely mind ray. He ignores me.

We get to Times Square. My daughter says, “I want a hot dog”. My mother in law starts looking around for a street meat vendor to purchase requested hot dog. I GLARE at my husband. My wifely mind ray sends Our child can not eat a hot dog from one of those carts, The vomiting alone will cause me to divorce you. He picks this one up and says “No, Mom, No hot dogs- let’s find somewhere to eat”.

She suggests Applebees. I glare at my husband and send this thought I have not come to New York to eat at a god damn Applebees on Thanksgiving. I may have even muttered this statement into his arm.

He counter-suggests a brew pub nearby. Ah yes, grasshopper, very good. I smile at him.
We are seated. She picks up the menu and scans it. “Is there anything you want to eat here? Is there a hot dog for the baby?”

Frankly ( a hot dog joke!), I could care less about a hot dog for my child. I have the motherly view that we can find something on any menu that she can have. I refuse to live my total life by the presence of a “kiddie menu”, and my child has come to accept her fate. When I am very hungry, the few motherly instincts I possess go right out the damn window. It is all about my precipitously declining blood sugar and me.

My father-in-law returns from the bathroom and offers this Deal Breaking Statement:
“I just told the hostess that when I was in the bathroom a member of the restaurant came out of a stall – adjusted himself and walked out without washing his hands”.

Ok, yes. I concur. Gross. But I am SOOOOOO hungry and food is so close by. Maybe the dude was changing his pants… Maybe?

She leaps up and says, “We can’t eat here!”” and I give one last longing look at the menu as I get up and put my coat back on. We leave.

I have now fallen into near coma like levels of low blood sugar. I am sullen and silent. I don’t even glare at my husband. I shuffle along. I don’t even have the strength to argue.
But Terrance, my best beloved, spots another brewpub down the street – The Heartland. “Lets’ go there!!” he exclaims!

And while my mother in law mutters and mumbles, I take off in a dead run for the Heartland Brew Pub. We get in, we are seated!! Hurrah!!!

There is a plated Thanksgiving dinner – or the ala carte menu. It seems a simple choice. I will have the Thanksgiving dinner…..Right? Won’t I? Apparently not. My MIL wants to debate the overall business decision of offering only the two menu choices with the waiter. I catch the waiter’s eye.

“ I will have a pint of the “Spiced Pumpkin Ale”. My stare suggests that he would do well to get me this beverage quickly. He seems to understand completely and rushes away to get my beer – even before getting anyone else’s drink order. Ah, sir. I will tip you well!

We peruse the menu. There is no Hot dog. My MIL takes this up as a rally cry: ”Can the baby get a hot dog? Can the baby get a hot dog?”

No, No hot dogs. She will have a hamburger and judging from the look I am shooting her, she will LOVE this fucking hamburger. She will rejoice and dance and write poetry about the perfection of this hamburger. If she does not, this may go down as one of those future therapy moments where she starts off by telling her Therapist:

“That was the moment my mother lost her shit, punched my grandmother in the nose, jumped up and ran to hide behind the bar of the brew pub”

The waiter returns and I accept his pint of pumpkin ale tenderly, as if it is my second born child. I smile. I close my eyes and drink. Then I hear:

MIL: “I want a frozen Margarita”
Waiter: “We don’t make frozen drinks here, Ma’am”

I open my eyes and turn in time to see my MIL put her head down on the table, in defeat.
MIL: “just bring me a glass of Riesling”
Me: “I’ll have the hamburger – medium rare – and I’ll be ready for another pint by the time it’s ready”

I eat my Thanksgiving Hamburger and drink my tasty Thanksgiving Ale. Mmmmmmmm, Pumpkin Ale.

Fade into me

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Where am I?

Here, of course. Busy. Absorbed in the world of work, my students, my child, my pets.  Headed into the final weeks of the semester, managing student teachers and assignments and grant proposals, my time slips away into wisps of activity.

On the weekends, I clean the house. My bedroom often looks like a battle scene in tableau during the week. I choose the costume in which I will face the day then leave a swirling tempest of debris in my wake; shoes that didn't fit the outfit, or jewelry tried and rejected.

On the weekend, I attempt to restore order to the havoc.

This Sunday I woke from a dream that not only made me sad, it made me feel uneasy. Out of place. I am accustomed to the dreams of sadness, and when I have those I wake slowly and wait to open my eyes. Sometimes I address the sadness out loud so that it can fade. Today, however, I woke feeling pursued.  I made my way downstairs where Terrance was fully engaged in the day, coffee brewing, croissants made.  I stood before him, mute, until he moved towards me to hug me. He tries to soothe me, reminding me that dreams aren't real.

I know different.

Later, after a cup of coffee, I ponder these fleeting depths of unhappiness, as if sounding out the bottom.  What have I to feel discontent about? I have a job, in a field I love. I am using my degree.
I get to indulge in my obsessions, Perfume and shoes and dresses made in a vintage style.

I clean. I collect all the shoes and return them to their homes. I return necklaces to their hangers and the hair ornaments to their homes. Am I unhappy?

Not really. Melancholy on occasion, but I think that is my nature. I am Sylvia Plath under the fig tree, pondering the directions I could have taken, the people I could have loved and the person I might have become.

Those ghost lives can become overwhelming, crowding into my own life. I work hard to keep them contained in their boxes, but they slither out on occasion, finding their way into my waking and sleeping dreams.

I retrieve the vacuum after I clean all the litter boxes. Before I can begin, I search the carpet for the bobby pins that perpetually escape my hair. It is a joke at work. You can see my trail in the building by the pins left behind.  My hair rebuffs the attempted order that the pins impose and ejects them, leaving a trail of small metal implements in my wake.

Home is no better. I open the closet and find another three, laying there in the dark.

I vacuum, watching the eddy of feathers and rabbit fur in the belly of the machine.

I ponder the figs not eaten while I wash my makeup brushes, preparing for the performance of another week.  Would I have been happier with someone else, somewhere else? Is being busy and not actively unhappy enough? Have I have been bewitched by some eidolon of joy?

I don't know.

Mischa has discovered that I placed my cloak on the chair and quickly nestles into his spot, daring me to disturb him.

Another Sunday passes.


Friday, September 04, 2015

In August, my decade long anniversary with this blog passed unnoticed by me.

Time is like that, I think.

You watch things and wonder how long it will take you to get something done, or how long before the baby can talk, then walk, then be out of diapers and suddenly you find yourself standing next to a 17 year old woman who is considering colleges and you aren't at all sure how you ended up where you are.

I look at my face in the mirror. I gain weight. I lose weight.  I fuss a *ridiculous* amount over my skin care regime and lack of wrinkles.

My hair is developing silver streaks in it but I never notice until I do - a selfie in the right light, or a photo taken of me by my daughter.

I look at the person in that photo and wonder who the hell she is? She does not match my internal vision of myself. She looks older than I feel.


When I read back over the first posts I made here...and then follow some of my writing, I recognize myself in all facets. I make myself laugh - honestly. I read some of my stories and delight in my humor. God, was I witty!

Sometimes I think I was funnier ten years ago. But is that, too, not part of the process?

I don't talk about Emily as much - as is right. At 17, her stories are far more her *own* and far less mine.  We intersect, but in a healthy way.

Not unlike the first big separation of self at age 2, the teen to adult one is fraught with similar perils, but writ large and more permanent.

Suffice it to say that I have done what I set out to do in parenting; Raised a person that I like and admire.  She is me, without some of the lived-through-shit. As such, she is kinder and more generous in spirit and practice than I.  Her path is as clear and shiny as I have been able to make it.  Her future is possibility.


Who knows what the next ten years hold?

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