Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Because naked pizza fixes everything.

Better today. I've graduated to bed with Ben who fulfilled my wishes for naked pizza and So You Think You Can Dance, Hindi Edition. 

So much better than yesterday.

(No offence, PJ.)

I want to have the kind of energy these dancers do. 

When you're better, you will, Ben says. 

I could be a hundred and ten percent and I'd still only have a fraction of it, I tell him. 

Practice, then. 

Will you do it with me? 

Sure, but only outside. I don't want to break anything. 

Oh, on the grass? To protect our limbs from the jumping on hard surfaces? 

No, in case I throw my arms up and hit the chandeliers or something. 

Oh, good point. 

See, if you felt better you would have thought of it too. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bedside manners.

Today PJ came up after the kids and the boys all left for their days and brought toast, orange juice, hot chocolate and tangerines and he got in bed with me and we watched a thousand or more (at least) episodes of Doctor Who.

I hate Doctor Who. Back in the early eighties when I babysat on the weekends half my families didn't have cable either and I was stuck with that show and little else. I learned to bring a book after a while. It was so dry and boring I can't even entertain it now. I hate the series. HATE it.

PJ fucking LOVES it.

I slept. I read. I cuddled and tried to get into the plot but mostly I coughed, hacking up things I could probably name if I wasn't so quick to swallow them in horror. PJ said I should go spit into the sink and I reminded him I was a lady.

Right, he laughed. And then he helpfully pointed out that it would be good to know what colors my phlegm-creatures are for the followup with the doctor, in case I need antibiotics after all.

I have whiskey, I show him proudly. This'll fix me!

Damn. The Devil's been busy getting you wasted and in bed without even having to be in the room. Loch won't like that. 

I know, right? I uncap the bottle and take a huge slug, grimacing so wide my chapped lips crack and bleed. PJ shakes his head and takes the bottle away. You can't have this shit anyway with all the other meds. 

I know. You're right, I tell him. I wish I had a white flag. Life is always smoother here if you walk up to PJ every now and then and just tell him he's right.

But he doesn't take the bottle downstairs, he opens it and has a drink. And we spend the rest of the morning drunk watching at least one thousand and eight hundred percent of season eight. Sigh.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Nurses with hairy legs.

It's a brilliant roman candle
That separates the day from the night
It's that clean, clear truth
That sorts our the wrong from the right
You and your face of light
Caleb came upstairs to say hello after finding out how sick I was from the bill he was probably emailed by the doctor this morning. House calls aren't cheap. Out of pocket healthcare is his responsibility, by his own request. It's been this way through thick and thin.

He brought me beautiful pink roses, some ice cream and a big ol' bottle of Lagavulin, to burn the germs out of me from the inside, he said with a laugh.

Indeed. If that doesn't work I don't think anything would. 

We shared a drink. Seriously. You could use this stuff to santize open wounds, nothing's going to survive in a glass.

I invited him to stay and watch a movie with me but he declined in case I really do have something deadly and promises me a rainy weekend movie if I feel up to it, that he'll check in tonight again, and that I should sleep, at least a little, if I can. I had another coughing fit and he put his arms around me so I could cough over his shoulder while he rubbed my back. When it was over he gave me another swig, this time straight from the bottle.

When I come back I hope that's empty and you're sleeping. 

That's how I get in the half the trouble I find myself in. 

He laughs, kissing my forehead. I'll be back late this evening. Share the bottle with your idiot husband and maybe he'll let me in to say a quick goodnight. 

That's very generous of you. 


I would be even more generous if he's interested. The ball is in his court, Neamhchiontach. It has been for months. He takes the risk and kisses me again, this time on the lips and then he is gone, taking the ice cream with him to put in the freezer for later.

Not three minutes after my door closes, it opens again. Dalton pokes his head in. You okay?

Yes. Want a drink?

No. I don't like Plague-avulin.

Oh my God, you just won the Portmanteau olympics. I'll buy you a fresh bottle tomorrow as your prize.

A week from tomorrow when you're allowed outside, you mean.

A week? Seriously?

Well, maybe if the weather is good Thursday someone will carry you out onto the lanai for some air. Yes, a week. Jesus, Fidget. Now get some sleep. He smiles kindly and closes the door again. I open the bottle and fill my mouth with whiskey, swishing it around my yucky teeth. God this stuff is good.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Smallest= weakest (I dug out my RUNT t-shirt and I'll wear it with pride.)

Cutting Order of Voices with Karnivool today. PJ is a proud papa of his little metal protege. Ben is more proud because he says I'll spend fifteen fucking years swaying over the same songs and then I have a binge where I can't get enough new music. This seems like a fall renewal thing for sure. Like being baptized in pumpkin spice. 

I'm quarantined anyway. The young Russian doctor was here this morning on call and he thinks I have the mumps. I would confirm with my other doctor but the only cure is rest and fluids anyway so Lochlan made me go put on pajamas, Dalton put the kettle on and Ben hung up my new skeleton string lights to cheer me up. 

Yes, I was vaccinated. Yes, I've already had the mumps. But if it's viral it's no big deal, right? (Yes, well, it's worse as an adult. You could go deaf. WELL LUCKY ME I'M 7/8THS THERE ALREADY) It's just contagious as hell and we need to be rid of it before Hallowe'en. Sometimes around this Collective by the time you recover from an illness you catch it all over again. 

But no one's going to avoid me. Instead they're all spoiling me because they all had two days of stuffy nose and sore throat and I got lambasted with something that seems one hundred times worse after a week already of what I thought was a bad cold, now with one whole side of my face/jaw/ear puffed right up painfully to the point where I had to give away an ice cream cone last night because I couldn't eat it. Couldn't manage at all. Cried and then Ben ate it and said it was awful to make me feel better. I got Tylenol and water instead, much like today. 

He's promised me a raincheck on the ice cream and a night of scary movies tonight to help distract. I'm game for at least one. After that I know I'll fall asleep. I feel like I've been up for a year. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Arms dealers.

It's raining  and cold and it was supposed to be nice so instead of the yard work we were supposed to do we opted to stay inside today in comfy flannel shirts. There's a fire in the wood stove in the kitchen and Ben made us pizza from scratch. I had a cup of coffee but not the refill I was offered because I'm smart like that. Lochlan blocked all the awful folks from my email for me and laughed at some of my replies to people. I try to be sweet in person, one-to-one but it's not easy. I got to be Sam's test audience for a sermon he's working on and that tugged pretty hard at my heartstrings but I got over it. Jake used to do his out loud a couple of times throughout the week and then he would hardly need his notes. Sam works slightly differently in that he doesn't use any notes any more but he likes to see if there are things that need to change during the actual delivery. I must be a good audience because my opinions and emotional response to his words will always be right up front, all over my face, a reactionary bukkake, if you will.

(Mom, don't look up that word.)

So it's been a cozy day, and when time permits I've gone to visit each and every one of my boys that is home to see if they are happy. If things are working. If they want changes or have ideas on making difficult things easier. If they have special concerns or issues. It's basically a non judgemental, private stage in which anyone can say what's on their mind, minor or major. Anything they've been thinking about or shy about bringing up in front of others. Dalton wants to use kinder chemicals when we clean. Sam wants more cuddles. He's incredibly lonely. My afternoon becomes heavier as I work my way around to Batman, who wants to know what the plan is for Caleb because he is concerned for my safety and sanity, as always.

I have no answers for that. Sam was the blindside and so I blithely tell Batman to worry less, that my army is bigger and stronger than ever and I'm safe.

Batman tells me that he knows, that he helps fund the army, that he's a part of it even as I try to keep him in a separate little box set aside from everything else.

I come home. I've worked through the list and only three are left. The living heavy weights of my busted little heart. I don't dare ever ask the ghosts what they want.

Ben worries that if he falls off the wagon I'll write him off for good. He says this with his back to me as I spin in the big hanging chair alone.

Never, I promise him. He is mine and I am his but if he's not strong enough to bear my weight on his own, then I will carry him instead. It's the blind leading the blind but it's what I have. If I need to, Lochlan will be recruited to help me.

Ben shakes his head. You're slipping from me. I did it to myself to save you but it's coming. 

Hush. Nothing changes. 

It already changed. 

Stop it, Ben. You're mine. You always will be. 

Hope so, Bumblebee. 

I'm not permitted to see Caleb. Lochlan knows exactly what he'll say, what changes he'd want to make, what he needs here. Another day, Peanut. You can end with me for now.

So I do. Formally I pose him the same yearly questions we all get living here. I'll get the questions posed to me as well. The talks take a while and we'll revisit them all week or maybe even all month long but we keep this Collective running as smoothly as we can. That takes actual work, for those thinking it's some idyllic free for all. It's not. It's difficult.

Lochlan has no want of change. He smiles so easily after saying that I envy him. Except maybe to put the Christmas lights up outside and leave them up. Except to give less power to those who don't live in the house, like Caleb. Like Batman.

And then the others too.

What about Duncan? What about Sam? He has some lingering concerns.

Oh. Do you want to open this can of worms? It's been such a nice day. I'm not sure you're ready to admit to your evil plans.

You want to put it under the rug instead? It's like hiding an elephant under a kerchief. 

But does it work? 

Depends on if it's dark out. 

Well, that's a yes, because it's dark half the time. 

Another day then, Baby. 

I think so. Maybe Tuesday. I have some free time then. 

He nods but the smile has vanished.

Friday, September 23, 2016

HEY.

It's Friday and Locket took today off too :) except I got up and woke up Ruth and then Henry too and holy, Henry's such a bear in the morning you can hardly look at him for he's snappish and sleepy and clumsy and mad at the world until eleven a.m. sharp. Every day.

Jake was like me. A huge morning person, prone to impulsive joyfulness and a stupid amount of enthusiasm that would leak out all damned day long until it ran out completely around four o'clock, something fundamental shifts and we should just go and close a door and live behind it because the tireds and the crankies take over and there's nothing that can be done to stop it.

It's a bit funny because Henry used to wake up at five, just like me, smiling and wanting to do everything Right Now. It must be the height, for he's tripping just under six feet now. He's a feat of human engineering and humour. He's a riot.

Ruth is just determined. She's absolutely excelling at everything she touches. She's working toward getting her graduated license soon, she has a steady job, a boyfriend, a rock band and a gig as a teaching assistant.

My children are beautiful, they're both on the honour roll, have no cavities (!), no shitty friends and no issues so FUCK YOU IF I DON'T HAVE TO GET UP WITH THEM ONE DAY A WEEK WHEN THEIR NANNY (PJ) TELLS ME TO SLEEP IN.

Seriously. Fuck you already. You think you know me? You don't.

I don't have to write. I said I always would, I said I'd take my knocks and I'd keep myself accountable in this unconventional life but I also said my children are off limits. OFF. I don't talk much about them and I refuse to entertain trolls who tell me I'm a shitty mom. No one ever calls me a shitty wife, no. You're all too busy racking up views whenever I post any little snippet of absolutely anyone touching me at all. You can't help yourselves. When you aren't salivating you're judging things that don't need to be judged. There's an elephant if I ever saw one. But everyone loves a little pervert so how can I possibly do both? Everyone always thinks they know how to parent better. Thank God for my thick skin. Thank God there are so many fingerprints all over me to dull my view of reality from here or I'd really mind you showing up thinking you know everything about my life.

Jesus.

Fuck you.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The army of Eight.

Have you lost your sense of purpose
And who can stand alone
There's no more circus here
There's nothing carved in stone
I see you down in the desert
And on a lonely beach
I'll hold you in those places
Where no one else can reach you
For comfort there
In your wildest dreams
Sleep. He kissed my face this morning and left me cold. Came back and pulled the quilts up, tucking them around my small frame and then disappearing again as I retreated into the dark of my mind. The curtains block the sunrise, someone will make sure the kids remember to grab their lunches from the fridge before they head off to school and Ben is somewhere three floors below me, having never come to bed at all. That means more space and so most of last night I was upside down and screaming for air.

Wait. That isn't different from any other- Oh. Nevermind.

Lochlan has today off. I don't know why he's up so early unless he probably wants to see the kids off himself or maybe even give them a ride to school. That's probably it.

And I'm gone, drifting back off.

But then I wake up abruptly. That happens most of the time. Once I'm awake, I'm awake, in spite of the fog of the drugs they give me to bring me down at the end of each day, when the doubt and the feelings creep too close, pushed against me by the sun as it abandons the day. I feel the fog heavy against my bones. I fumble for pajamas and then for hearing aids too for good measure and I head downstairs.

We've got her back finally. So we can revert to maintenance. Safety being the highest objective. Being there so no one else can get in.

I think this time it will work better since we're all in house.

She goes to one of us, she won't go to anyone else.

I turn the corner and they shift gears so fast their wheels begin to smoke.

We're trying to figure out if we should get going on dismantling the gardens.

Or leave it for a couple more weeks.

Let's split it half and half. I still have tomatoes to ripen, I point out and suddenly I'm so aware of the kind, loving smiles facing me. Like they're so proud. Like I survived a war and came back and they just can't believe it.

Relief. That's what the expression is. The army has their cause back, their precious cargo and everything is under control.

I still remember one of the early meetings. I was picking forget-me-nots along the edge of the ball field and they were sitting in a loose circle talking. Every time I had a handful I would bring them to Lochlan, who took off his baseball hat and let me fill it with the tiny flowers.

At one point I can back with a particularly fat bouquet and he was saying We can take shifts and that way she'll never be without at least one of us-

Who you talking about, Lochlan?

You, sweetheart. We decided you need your own army. We're going to be that army and keep you safe and happy for your entire life.

I watch as they all cut their hands and then stack them in the center. They all sit back, wiping their cut hands absently on jeans, t-shirts, across a forehead. All eyes are on me.

I nod. Shouldn't I cut my hand too? For the pact? If you mix your blood then you should mix with mine too. Then I'm one of you. 

I hold my hand out. Christian passes Lochlan the knife he stole from his grandfather and Lochlan hesitates before Cole tells him to just cut her a little. 

I know it. I'm just trying to figure out where. He studies my hand and then gives up and makes a tiny slash across the meaty part of my thumb. It looks like nothing happened and then all of the sudden blood wells up in a line and spills off the side of my palm. I solemnly walk around the inside of the circle, not even up to their shoulders and shake the cut hand of each one. When I make it back to Lochlan he shakes my hand and then smiles and winks at me before pressing the hem of his t-shirt against my hand until the blood stops coming out.

Okay, you're good. Go pick your flowers. It's almost dark and we gotta go soon. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

He came for enlightenment but left with sorrow instead.

Batman paid me a visit this morning to ask about Duncan. (Because no one is allowed to ask about August. I've already explained it until I'm blue in the face. I don't have to anymore.)

I won't be sleeping with Duncan again so I don't know what everyone is so worried about. 

He seems surprised.

He's intimidating. I mean he's good but as far as chemistry goes he's so far out of my league it's ridiculous. He's a lot like you in that way. Completely intimidating. I was worried about damned near everything and couldn't be myself and I hate that. 

He tilts his head. You're not yourself when you're with me?

I've seen the sort of women you sleep with.

And? 

I don't seem anything like them. So I try to be like I think they must be. 

How is that?

Tall supermodels. Women who are sure of themselves. They have style and legs for days and they don't need a man but they want them every now and then. They're independent. Sophie's a good example. 

Bridget, you don't know men at all. 

Oh, I think I do. 

Then think about why you have three households full of men fighting for your attention and get back to me. 

It's because you're all psychologically stunted. I'm actually the one exploiting all of you. 

I wish that were true. 

Which part?

The part where it's you exploiting us instead of the other way around.

It's not so bad, you know. I have a good life here. I'm grateful for everyone. 

That's not the point, Bridget. 

But it is. At least to me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

World War B.

Schuyler squealed and dropped his coffee mug this morning while reading the news. It appears Brad Pitt is about to be single again.

We all won bets. Brad Pitt isn't someone you settle down with. You just jerk your dress back down to cover your knees and make your way home, tucking your hair behind your ears and fixing your smeared lipgloss.

All of this applies only, of course if it's Brad Pitt circa Legends of the Fall, 1994ish or thereabouts.

Several of us nod. Yup. That hair.

I turn to ask Lochlan if he'll grow his hair that long and he looks cross. Isn't it already, he asks?

No, I shake my head. Not quite. Maybe if we pulled on his huge loopy curls. Wait, maybe it is.

He's a little riled up this morning anyway. I didn't buy into his grand plan to stick it to Caleb using me as a weapon. Weapons don't have feelings, right? Instead I went off and listened to my own inner drummer, who marched right up to the loft and then on the way home jerked her dress back down over her knees, tucked her hair behind her ears and fixed her lipgloss.

Does that mean August isn't someone you settle down with?

Definitely not. He said as much. I'm on borrowed time anyway but at the same time he's got an addictive personality and I'm addictive.

This must be how Brad feels.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Inappropriation.

(I feel as if maybe this isn't how everyone else's counseling sessions go and I feel sorry for you.)
You may be right
But I don't care
So moving on
I'm telling him the story of how Duncan got invited for a second coveted visit, that Duncan agreed and then at the last second he said he wanted me to come back downstairs with him alone, that he didn't need an audience, thanks, and he'd bring me back up before I fell asleep. That he worked alone, as a rule. But that he's much obliged, as ever, to have the honor. And the trust.

What did they do? 

Nothing. You should have seen the shock on their faces though. 

So did you go? 

No, I got spooked. I feel like I don't really know Duncan like that. I'm not ready to be alone-alone with him. Naked-alone. Like this.

I see. He lifts my dress up over my head. I sit obediently in his lap, facing him, arms up to facilitate.

Plus I'm suddenly worried that Lochlan's going to die so I didn't want to take any risks. 

That Caleb might-

No, that he'll just vanish somehow.

It's normal. Do you want to talk instead of this? He's kissing up my throat, along my jaw and I nod and then shake my head no and he pauses.

Talk after. I unbutton his shirt and stick my face in between the buttons and the buttonholes. He's so warm.

I like this. He rubs his thumb along the band of my sweetheart bra. It's embroidered with roses and peonies in blush, lavender and pale blue. It's vintage.

Me too. I get up off his legs and head toward his room.

August stands up in a hurry, knocking his books off the arm of the couch and follows me to his bed. I crawl onto it while it swings slightly.

I keep trying to separate this but I can't, Bridget. 

I'd rather you didn't anyway. 

I should. I'm no better than Joel if I don't. 

That's different. 


How is it different? But he's pulling me up against him urgently, suddenly out of breath without reason, forcing me down without giving me the leeway to get there. So rough sometimes. Just like Jake. I pull his face down against mine and kiss him hard.

What are you doing, Bridget?

Trying to collect enough love.

And you're not there yet? But he doesn't wait for my answer. He just puts his head back down against my shoulder and begins to drive against me until we both forget what we were talking about.