A Different Breed


She sighs, in the dark, as her baby snuggles closer to her neck, his chubby fists opening and closing as he exhales and relaxes his body with a small whimper. She waits, supporting him, waiting for that moment when the weight of sleep brings a random tingle or two to her forearm. Stands up slowly, using muscles in her thighs to lift her upper body as she does so, careful to not a muscle touching her now sleeping infant. Eyes flutter shut as she puts one foot in front of the other, heading for the crib. Baby shifts, stutter sighs, and moves, nuzzling further into her neck. She moves her hand to the back of his head, rubbing it softly as she hums their song.

She manages to lay him down and leave the room. As she crawls into bed, her calves sink into the mattress first, then the exhaustion surges upward until her eyes slam shut until morning, all of an hour and a half away when she will wake up to a hungry baby, a dog with a full bladder, and a toddler who has probably strewn cheerios over half the house because she needed to feed the dog.

Motherhood.

It changes us.

Mentally.

Physically.

For some, motherhood is a warm field on a sunny day filled with laughter, babbling brooks, playful deer, and an intoxicating joy.

For others, motherhood is a dark room in the bottom of the keep, covered with bars, the key well beyond our reach. We fight, we scream, we rage against the thick door but it won’t budge. We see the warm field in the sun from the window a the top of our room and long for it – long to talk walks with our little ones as the sun beats down upon our faces and a smile spreads across our face but instead, we are trapped inside our own special hell.

Motherhood without a mental illness is not the easiest road to tread, either. Heck, life in general requires some level of tenacity. One of the most frustrating things I am faced with is not discounting the struggles that each of us go through – respecting the journey of every single mother without demeaning the journey of another. And yet, it’s my goal.

Over the past several years, I have been privileged enough to meet some of the most amazing and resilient parents. Parents who fight for themselves, for their children, for their relationships, for life. Parents who work through even deeper hells than I can even imagine and still manage to parent their kids, all the while, worrying about how their experience will affect their kids, their marriage, their jobs, their lives. Yet, every morning, they wake, get out of bed, and take another step forward toward healing, even if they are absolutely exhausted.

A friend of mine posted on FB a quip about hockey players being a different breed. He was commenting on Rich Peverly’s alleged desire to get back into the game despite having experienced a cardiac event on the bench. Any other sport and the player wouldn’t be thinking about getting back in the game, right?

The same is true of mothers battling against mental illness, whatever form it may take for them. We want to get back in the game. We want to play, we want to laugh. We want to be free to just…be…without the burden or restraint of our mental health on our souls. This is why we cherish the good days and wade through the bad ones. Why we hold on so tightly to every single glimmer of hope crossing our hearts.

We are a different breed.

We aren’t worse.

We aren’t better.

We’re just different and we want to be loved for who we are, not what you think we should be or could be.

We just are.

Love us anyway?

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Whatever Wednesday: Wrong Number


Note: The following is based on a true event but details are grossly exaggerated. Maybe. Sorta. I plead the fifth. Mum’s the word and all that. Oh, and if you’re drinking or eating anything? Swallow it first and don’t take another bite or sip until you’re done reading. You’re welcome.

I just sat down at the desk to check Facebook for a few minutes when my cell phone started to ring. I looked at the number and didn’t recognize it. So, I did what any sane person does when an unrecognizable number calls you. I flipped it to silent and Googled the number.

I expected it to be some unknown land line. You see, I don’t give out my real cell number to anyone these days, I use my Google Voice number. So when a number from the area of my real cell number calls, I figure it’s probably a wrong number so I don’t answer.

Google’s results shocked me.

The number belonged to an adult lingerie/fantasy store.

Um, ‘scuse me?

I use Ama, er, um, uh… yeah. I’ve digressed enough. Anyway.

It gets better, yes it does.

I PM’d a friend on FB about the call, through tears of laughter.

“So… a lingerie store just called me….this has the potential to be hilarious.”

“What’d they want?”

“They left a voice mail… listening now…”

“It’s a message for Mary. Her item has arrived and is on hold. Oh, I want to call back and pretend to be Mary.”

“Poor Mary isn’t going to get her fantasy lingerie.”

“What if it’s not lingerie?”

“Maybe you don’t want to know what Mary’s into?”

“Yeah…maybe I should call them back and tell them I’m not Mary.”

“Hahaha.. Yes, before they reveal something indelicate!”

And so I did the good Samaritan thing, against my meddling blogger’s instinct’s gut reaction. I called the lingerie store to let them know they’d just left a message for Mary on my voice mail, that I wasn’t Mary after an initial resurgence of wanting to claim to be Mary.

Apparently, Mary gave them my number (or they transposed the numbers) when she placed her order for her item. Is her item lube? Cootchie cream? Whips? Deep Throat numbing spray? Cherry Anal Lube? Adult, um, toys? Lingerie? The suspense is KILLING ME, people! (All of the aforementioned are indeed items they sell through their online store – I am not making up the Cootchie cream or the cherry lube, y’all. Swearsies.)

The store owner/employee sounded horribly embarrassed, even uttering an “Oh myyyyy” which would have made George Takei blush, making me even MORE curious about Mary’s item.

After a few exchanges of pleasantries, we hung up. After some consideration, I think I need to call them back tomorrow to, you know, follow up and make sure that Mary hasn’t also used one of my accounts to pay for her, ahem, item. I don’t think she has, but this is just odd.

So, Mary?

Wherever you are, your item is waiting for you. It’s all alone. It’s yearning to be in your hands, against your skin, with you. It’s miserable without your warmth beside it or, ahem, around it. The spice in your love life will have to remain at the requisite level until you get your phone number right. No fifty shades of grey shenanigans for you tonight, sweetheart.

I hope you call to check on your poor lonely item soon…perhaps you will hear it calling for you, moaning all alone in the darkness in the store where they hold all the items people forgot to pick up.

Don’t leave your item in the lost and found, Mary. Just don’t. Be nice to your item, Mary, and it will be nice to you.

Go get ’em, Mary. Rock it.

This One Time, On the Way to Jersey


There are so many running jokes about New Jersey. So many. All of them would fill a few blog posts but this post will focus on the joke about the roads in NJ.

How does a driver know they’ve crossed into New Jersey?

The road is suddenly a mine-field of potholes.

THAT’S the joke we’ll be talking about in this post.

Today, I drove into Jersey for an audition for an upcoming Mother’s Day event. Lemme back up a little before I go any further.

You see, I grew up in Jersey. I am intimately familiar with the bumps and potholes along the roads within this glorious Garden State. As a child, my parents owned a Dodge Ramcharger. They drove that thing until it hacked and coughed and refused to go another mile. I remember at one point, watching the road drift by under our feet. I developed an affinity for watching the pavement go by and managing to notice potholes and cracks as we sped over them. Dead animals, however, were infinitely more disgusting when viewed through the floorboard of the Ramcharger. I was just grateful we didn’t have to Flintstone it.

Flash forward to this morning:

I sped over to South Orange for the audition, hoping to beat the non-storm we seem to be experiencing at the moment. I use Waze for any interstate driving these days. It’s a fabulous app (and no, I was not paid to say that – I genuinely love this app!) With Waze, you can report events on the road – everything from debris in the road to police to…well, potholes, apparently.

Some idiot this morning decided to start reporting potholes on the Interstate.

Ever seen Nothing to Lose? The scene where Martin Lawrence accidentally discharges the gun and shoots Tim Robbins who freaks the hell out? As they drive away, Tim Robbins is whining about how his arm is going numb, yadda yadda yadda.. then he gets his shirt off aaaaaandddd….

Martin Lawrence smirks, rolls his eyes, and deadpans the following: ” ….that’s a baby gash…..”

The potholes this morning?

Baby potholes. AT BEST.

Now, potholes can cause damage, yes. They can be expensive. But for the LOVE OF GOD, people. You’re in Jersey. Know how things are stereotypically bigger in Texas? Well, in Jersey, unless the pothole is big enough to swallow Chris Christie, guess what, IT DOESN’T COUNT.

On the way home, the attention on Waze changed from potholes to dead zombie deer. It’s the only logical conclusion I came to as the fifth dead deer popped up as a warning from Waze.

“WATCH OUT! Dead animal on the side of the road ahead.”

Dude. Unless that deer is a zombie in war-paint, covered in brush, and crouched behind the guardrail, waiting to pounce into oncoming traffic, it’s not gonna go anywhere or do anything. Hell, the baby potholes pose more of a danger than the dead zombie deer.

Now, one of these reports was totally valid as said dead zombie deer was in the middle of a merge lane and caused vehicles to swerve to avoid it. But all the other dead zombie deer? Nowhere near the white lines, not in the shoulder, but well on the grass. One of them was even chilling on a stack of snow pack, draped gracefully over it, as if it were being kept on ice by a giant Yeti for a snack.

Only in Jersey, man. Only in Jersey.

Spring Forward


March.

Such a tumultuous month, isn’t it?

So many sayings, so filled with change and rebirth.

Spring. The Ides of March. St. Patrick’s Day. In like a lion, out like a lamb.

Our first weekend of March is definitely the roar of a lion. As of right now, there’s a giant snow storm on the way, predicted to drop up to 14 inches on us. It’s frigidly cold outside.

We had a tease of warmer spring weather last weekend when it hit the upper 40’s and low 50’s. Growing up, I begged to wear shorts if it was forecast to hit 50. Years in the south jaded me and 50’s became the temp at which you bundled up. Last weekend? I wasn’t quite in shorts but I wasn’t wearing a coat either.

Last weekend was filled with hope. Birds flitted here and there. Snow melted. Grass appeared. Icicles disappeared. For the first time since early December, my heart danced with the mesmerizing rebirth that is spring.

And then.

Talk of this weekend’s storm.

Just.NO.

The birds are quiet. The icicles are re-appearing. The grass will be a distant memory after this storm, yet again. I saw large uncovered spots of grass today. Snow piles will expand, filling even more space we do not have to give to the frozen white stuff. For instance, there are parking lots with limited access and piles of snow claiming several parking spots – yesterday, at the gym, for example, I backed into a space next to a giant snow pile, with my car halfway on the pile and nearly backed into the snow pile behind it because it was one of the only spots left within proper walking space.

I’m fighting to find the silver lining at this point.

I’ve done a lot of baking. A lot. I conquered sourdough. I made sourdough bread and now make sourdough english muffins. Sourdough pancakes are above and beyond buttermilk pancakes….seriously. You want a fantastic melt in your mouth AMAZING pancake? Make a sourdough one. Dear.Sweet.FOOD.HEAVEN.

I made split pea & ham soup in the crockpot the other day. I have Borscht planned for this next week.

I am a comfort food expert at this point. Not that I wasn’t before but I have definitely expanded my horizons.

Things I’m looking forward to once warmer temperatures (finally) arrive:

  1. NO MORE SNOW.
  2. Sunshine.
  3. Birds singing.
  4. Trees with leaves.
  5. Grass, lots of it.
  6. Sitting outside in a warm breeze, drinking coffee.
  7. Warm rain.
  8. NO MORE SNOW.
  9. Summer food – lighter fare.
  10. Rabbits. Squirrels. LIFE.
  11. WARMTH.
  12. No more air that hurts my face.

I want to drive down the highway with my windows down, music blasting. I want to open the windows at home and not run the heat. I want to only see the colour white in the sky, not on the ground. I want to relish in the colour green being the prominent colour on the ground. I want to swoon over wildflowers and daffodils. I want to breathe in life and watch the Earth exhale poetry.

That’s what I want.

 

Struggling to Find Discipline


This next week, I have a lot of writing to do. Writing which is not for this blog. I am managing content at another blog and then at the end of the week, auditioning for Listen to Your Mother.

It is a bit frustrating then, to be sitting here with a ideas hiding in the shadows, refusing to come out and play nicely. Right now, it doesn’t matter. But it will matter once the week gets rolling. This past week has been a busy one which has not allowed for much beyond the normal hubbub of daily life. I skipped writing one day this past week, in fact. I have let it go, missing writing that one day, because well, I couldn’t go back and fix it. The sleep was lovely at least.

It’s funny when you start writing on a daily basis how much a part of your life it becomes. Writing is like breathing for those of us who hold it dear to our hearts. It changes your soul, your pattern of thinking. It allows you to see things differently as life swirls around you.

Right now, the thing which frustrates me most is the lack of direction in my writing, the scattered subject matter. I took the time to pull together an editorial calendar but have yet to stick to it which is disappointing to say the least. I believe the primary issue with this is that I rarely look at the calendar. Instead, I just write when the mood strikes rather than planning ahead. Scheduling my writing would perhaps help with this issue. That way, at least, I wouldn’t be sitting here, at 10pm at night struggling to reach 500 words.

Another issue is that I am terribly old fashioned when it comes to writing notes and keeping a schedule. I adore pen & paper for this sort of thing. My editorial calendar is currently only in Google Drive. Perhaps if I took it and transferred it to my planner it would help. But then again, I haven’t been using my planner either so who knows.

One of my biggest weaknesses, folks. Discipline. I get things done right when they need to be done (and sometimes after). I have always been this way. I am struggling to improve this but in the meantime, I get angry with myself when I miss deadlines or don’t stick to a plan I have set for myself.

I am determined to change it this year, this issue with discipline. I intend to push myself harder than I have in the past and hold myself more accountable to my deadlines and tasks I have agreed to accomplish within a certain time frame.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Do you also struggle with the discipline needed to stay on course? What do you use to motivate you? To push through the procrastination stage into the “get ‘er done” phase? Leave your best tips in the comments below. I need them to make this the best year I have ever had – no more excuses!

 

How I Stopped Reading


It was a winter quarter back in my college days. In my haste to wrap up my major level classes, I eagerly signed up for all three courses offered without fully examining the description of each class. The subject matter alone was simple enough – Americana, 19th Century British Literature, and a course examining the “hard-boiled” novels of the American detective genre.

Had I dared to, oh, I don’t know, exercise my ability to read English, I would have quickly realized I signed away every single cell in my brain for the winter quarter.

When I showed up for registration, it still didn’t hit me. In fact, it didn’t hit me until I made it to the bookstore. I handed my class list to the student helper behind the counter and assumed the “I’ll just wait here forever” stance. The student looked at my classes then back at me then back at my class list. Her eyes grew large. She stepped away from the counter and whispered to someone, pointing at my list.

Shit.

They both scurried into action, grabbing books from all over the place, glancing at me in the midst of the insanity.

At the end of the mad rush amidst the books stocked for the quarter, they handed me no less than 18 novels.

I’m going to type that again so it sinks into your brain.

They handed me no less than 18 novels.

EIGHTEEN NOVELS.

EIGHTEEN.

FOR NINE WEEKS OF SCHOOL.

These were not light novels, not the romantic sweep you off your feet beach books you schlepp along with you to the doctor’s office or somewhere else you can quickly catch a glimpse of heaving bosoms.

No. These were books like Sister Carrie by Dreiser, The Rise of Silas Lapham by Howells, David Copperfield by Dickens, The Mysteries of Udolpho by Radcliffe, The Maltese Falcon by Hammett, Night Train by Amis, Child of God by McCarthy, and McTeague by Norris among others I’m sure I’ve long forgotten for a number of reasons.

I read two novels a week for the first four weeks. Then, my brain, in the middle of the night, turned off. It refused to send signals to my fingers to enable me to open a book. I tried, desperately, to crack open another book but all that happened was me, sitting there, holding the book, words swirling about in my head as my brain constantly signaled it was filled to capacity with knowledge.

I managed to scan the required sections of the remaining books but couldn’t bring myself to read the entire novels for the remainder of the quarter. In fact, I did not read a complete reputable book for over five years. That’s right. Me. The girl with a degree in English Literature, did not touch a single book for over five years.

Talk about being completely out of my element. I started writing when I was six. I devoured books as if they were smarties while growing up. But there was something about being forced to read 18 hardcore novels in such a short span time which killed a breaker in the “I love books” part of my brain.

In the past couple of weeks, I have devoured two books. One of them was only 87 pages long but it was by far the most difficult of all the books. It is both exhilarating and wonderful to be reading at this pace again. I find myself looking forward to opening books again, which is a pleasant surprise.

There’s only one caveat to this rediscovered love of reading – I will only read books made from dead trees. No ebooks for this gal, no sir. 100% dead tree for me or no words at all. That’s my dedication to books and I’m sticking to it.

A Brief Bad Poetry Analysis


A writing friend of mine shared a link with me the other day, prefaced by the following words: “If you ever feel down about a piece you wrote…”

I received it just as I was struggling to write for the day. I read it. Then I read it again. And then, I thought to myself, wow. Anything I write now will be gold, Jerry. GOLD.

I messaged this “epic description” of the poem to him yesterday: “It’s like she played Twister with a Thesaurus, writing down the words as she went, mashing them all together in one long horrific string.”

It’s that bad, people. What is it?

It’s poetry. Seriously awful poetry by none other than Kristen Stewart. But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, right? I mean, we are talking about an actress who really only has one reaction to everything – a total non-reaction.

Her poem is entitled “My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole.”

So your heart is a ball of white plastic with holes punched in it? Mmmmmk. If you Google Freedom Pole (which I did), all that comes up is article after article about this stupid poem. Because obviously, none of us know what the hell a Freedom Pole is except for Ms. Stewart.

The first verse:

“I reared digital moonlight/

You read its clock, scrawled neon across that black/

Kismetly … ubiquitously crest fallen/

Thrown down to strafe your foothills/

…I’ll suck the bones pretty.

Digital moonlight? LED digital…oh hell. Kismetly isn’t even a word. But kismet is – so there’s destiny and fate…everywhere all at once disappointed. But Ms. Stewart? Crestfallen is ONE DAMN WORD. Apparently this verse, the best I can gather, is about the disappointment of a clock waking her, and she throws it off the side table then for some odd reason, sucks bones pretty. I’m shuddering at the mere thought of Kristen Stewart sucking anything. Pass the brain bleach?

There’s more.

The second verse:

Your nature perforated the abrasive organ pumps/

Spray painted everything known to man/

Stream rushed through and all out into/

Something Whilst the crackling stare down sun snuck/

Through our windows boarded up/

He hit your flint face and it sparked.

Abrasive organ pumps? This line immediately after the line about sucking bones pretty… and then apparently someone has spray painted everything known to man, a stream rushed through and all out into. How does something rush all out into, exactly? If it’s rushing all out then into? Into what? Something Whilst the crackling stare down… is she being stared down by Pork Rinds? Then apparently sun snuck through the windows boarded up (then they weren’t boarded up very well, were they? And if this is the crackling stare down, um, you might be entirely too close to the sun or whatever shack you’re in is on FIRE.) A face made of flint that sparks. Fabulous. But what the hell does a flint face have to do with your heart being a wiffle ball/freedom pole? WAIT. IS the freedom pole what spray painted everything???? I’m so hopelessly lost.

Let’s move on, shall we?

Verse three:

And I bellowed and you parked/

We reached Marfa/

One honest day up on this freedom pole/

Devils not done digging/

He’s speaking in tongues all along the pan handle/

And this pining erosion is getting dust in/

She’s bellowing now. Apparently this is what one does when one sees a flint face spark. One bellows. Duly noted. Then someone parks. Parks what, exactly? Their freedom pole? What the hell is Marfa? Texas? The film festival? An honest day on the freedom pole. Does Marfa have a freedom pole? Are we talking about a flagpole here? Has Kristen Stewart been listening to far too much Harvey Danger and decided to flip “Flagpole Sitta” for her own hopeless hipster poetry? It makes sense that Marfa is in Texas now that she references the Devil speaking in tongues all along the pan handle. The dust reference makes sense too because well, Marfa is a desert city. Finally! Something I understand, dammit. (Marfa? My condolences for being immortalized in this poem. Really. You don’t deserve this. You deserve better.)

Fourth verse:

My eyes/

And I’m drunk on your morsels/

And so I look down the line/

Your every twitch hand drum salute/

Salutes mine.”

The dust is in her eyes? That’s a bitch. No, really, it is. There’s nothing worse than dust in your eyes when you’re on top of a freedom pole in the middle of the desert, right? Now Kristin is drunk on the morsels of her companion. WAIT. WHAT? She killed her companion in the middle of the desert and is nomming on the remains??? WHOA. She’s looking down the line as the hand twitches, saluting hers? KRISTIN. The hell, dude? WE EAT FOOD. Twilight was just a movie, honey, not real life. We do NOT EAT PEOPLE IN THIS DIMENSION. (Also? A little clarification goes a long way and is perfectly acceptable in poetry, honey.)

There we have it. The poem in it’s entirety. I’m left wondering why Kristen Stewart’s heart is a Wiffle Ball Bat though. Or what a Wiffle Ball Bat has to do with a Freedom Pole (flag pole?). The only correlation of which I can think is that both Wiffle Ball Bat and Freedom Pole reference things that are at the heart of Americana which is baseball and the American Flag. However, the remainder of the poem has absolutely no redeeming patriotic value to it whatsoever so….. I’m left holding morsels of my brain in my hand, wondering what the hell I just read and analyzed.

To quote Ms. Stewart’s thoughts regarding a post-writing reaction: “Holy f**k, that’s crazy”

Yes, Ms. Stewart, yes it is. Totally crazy.

Source for this post: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/kristen-stewart-writes-worst-poem-of-all-time-9121635.html