Wednesday, 31 December 2008

I'm taking my cherry tart and my blackbird hairpins with me.

Goodbye 2008.


I will not miss you.

It was just another year of getting through firsts and finding things out and trying to sew my head on straight and stand steadily in my razor-sharp heels and hold hands without hiding behind people and gaze at the moon without blinking and not rip people's faces off because I grew so bratty and tired of their hollow platitudes.

Oh but there were some good things too. I got a lot of tattoos and retired a whole set of piercings or five. I cut my hair up to my chin, which was something I was wanting to do forever. I fell in love with Benjamin, which has to be the most ironic and wonderful event of the year and my kids both progressed to star readers in their classes and are learning to swim and be amazing people.

I went off my meds and stopped therapy and started grief counseling and learned not to cringe when the guitars wail too loudly or the sun seems too bright. I learned that I can control my brother-in-law quite nicely and that the high heels every day no matter what give me that birds eye view I have coveted so dearly my whole life but I was still oddly saving the high heels for dresses only.

I stopped pretending. Abruptly. Finally.

I know things now. Things I did not know before. And I found a shocking thrill in brutal honesty that can bring grown men to instant tears but why lie for comfort when you can just open the doors and let the damned TRUTH in and then deal with what everyone knows but ignores as futile self-comfort?


So maybe this wasn't the beautiful, melodramatic end post to a difficult year that you came for. Maybe the words weren't poetic enough and the sentiments heartfelt enough. Maybe I should have written earlier or later, or never at all. Maybe I should have lied but my resolution is to find a little reality in my own existence, a little more honesty, a lot less fluff.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a dessert here that I need to claim before someone else eats it. And I have to get ready, because I've been told to pack an overnight bag and put on my nicest party frock.

Goodbye 2008, and Happy New Year to all.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The price of petulance.

Lately my obsessions include Battlestar Galactica, snowboarding in the living room and eating candy apples until I think I might throw up. Also there in the mix somewhere my head entertains thoughts of what my heart will look like someday when the medical examiner cracks open the cage and takes a peek.

I am guessing it will be black with criss-crossed stitches with a thick red cord to hold the three largest pieces together. The rest of the shards will be in a jumbled pile at the bottom somewhere, resting on my pelvic bones, falling out as I am moved on the cold stainless steel table.

When he slices into the largest piece he'll remark with surprise at the new growth inside, something unexpected with the advanced decay on the outside.

Yes, I am feeling morbid today. Thank you. How are you?

Offers are pouring in for New Year's eve festivities but I don't know what I feel like today. I don't know what I want or how I want to ring in 2009 because I have ceased to care so much. It's another day. Another night. Another year and really I'm growing less sentimental as they pass. Less romantic and less hopeful and less convinced that life is like the movies and that disappoints me this morning.

My coffee isn't as good as I would like it to be.

The internet is rife with total assholes and I don't know why I give you my words some days. Because THEY might read them and they don't deserve to know. They don't deserve to have their curiosity sated and they don't deserve to exist in my presence and so POOF! I'll wave my wand and just pretend my kingdom is what I wrote it to be.

Complete with a pale blue castle, blackened, broken hearts, a line of knights keeping out my enemies and this empty coffee cup.

Monday, 29 December 2008

The box that Ben built.

For Christmas this year, as we talked about, I was given all of the items I had discussed in a piece of writing that was a hasty, truthful drive-by entry that Ben took too immediately. He pointed out it was all me. Perfectly me. He actually came to me to compliment me on it a day or two after reading it. I filed his compliments away as his probable relief that I wasn't lamenting the state of my sorry life. He filed away the list of things I mentioned as Future Christmas. I never had a clue.

But it wasn't that he went and collected the things on the list, it was what he did with them.

He made a box. A big wooden box I cannot lift. It's filled with sand, golden coins and beaded necklaces. Shells. The mermaid statue is nestled in beside the tiara and the message in a glass bottle, complete with a tiny paper umbrella. The more I dig through the sand, the more treasures I find.

He painted the outside of the box in my favorite shade of sage green, weathering the corners and edges so it looks ancient. He carved my name into it. He affixed smooth river stones, more shells and black roses made of fabric to the outside. Driftwood handles. Sea glass.

It's so awesome. Every time I open it I feel like the most loved person on the face of the earth. Did I tell you I wore that tiara all day long on Christmas day?

Did I tell you Ben smiled all day long on Christmas day?

I love my box. Today I'm going to find a permanent place for it. It's like a whole lapful of beach, a secret getaway, an escape made by someone who loves me. You really have no idea what this means to me.

And so I'm going to stop trying to describe it and go look in it again.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Initials with no names.

The snake behind me hisses
What my damage could have been.
My blood before me begs me
Open up my heart again.
I was reminded yesterday of about how well I'm doing.

For all of my functional insanity there are voices that follow me that live in my head and whenever I stop to look at something or someone or even just to take a deep endless breath they close in with their screaming.

Is that doing well?

I miss Jacob. Especially during the holidays. I miss him barging through the door on snowy mornings with his paper bag holding the precious breakfast bagels, shaking snow out of his beard, eyes crinkled up in a grin when he would see me. I miss his hands. Always busy. Always gesturing wildly, whittling some useless piece of wood or writing a sermon or working on an essay for some obscure publication or just to file away. I miss the way he held me and the way he was always touching my face or my ears. I miss his quick harmless temper and his coffee. I miss his many-layered faith and his ignorance of bigger problems and I miss his innocent love for me. I miss finding shoes wherever he would stop and remove them because he hated shoes that badly.

I miss his hair. No one has hair like that. Even the kids' hair has darkened considerably since they grew from little kids into elementary-aged kids. That impossible white blonde that made people stare. My hair color, though no one stares anymore, since I carry the black cloud so obviously above my head most people look away instead of finding something about me to admire.

I miss the unintelligible accent that would explode in a torrent of slang from the east coast that I grew to understand perfectly. I miss that golden passion. He was pure good. I miss the frailty of his strength in the end, when he faltered and we wound up on a raft together in the sea of nowhere. I miss his confidence, even when I had no idea it had vanished. I would be fixed. Soon. He was sure of it. He failed and I didn't know and ignorance is always irrevocable bliss.

I miss his stand against everyone else. His defense of our position, the naive place from which we waged the war against the past, present and future back when it was cut so clear you could have stamped copies for public consumption.

I miss him. Everything about him.

But he wasn't good for me. And I know that his actions prevented me from getting better, and his decisions made me worse. I made myself worse and we foundered and took on water and as Jacob and Bridget, we sank to the bottom and all was lost.

It's gone, all of it.

I know that. I just have to figure out how to make it stop coming out of the dark and hitting me across the head like it does now. Blindsiding me with the force of a baseball bat.

There's only so many times you can sustain that kind of damage before it becomes permanent.

Tomorrow I'm going to tell you about the box. It'll be fun. Better than this.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Tongue firmly in cheek here.

As an addendum to the previous post, since you think your darkest of voyeuristic desires can be satisfied over the freaking internet, I'll just make it easy for you.

Ben's profession? He's a door-to-door salesman. Tattoo machines.

Our last name is Doe. I'm planning on changing my name to Jane. Simply to be famous.

I didn't think you would believe any of that. Now stop asking. Thank you.

I'm with the band.

The man who never sings sure does a lot of it these days. And I promised myself I wouldn't make a fuss about that Stone Temple Pilots cover they did just before the encore and so I won't, even though it burned something awful.
And I feel, so much depends on the weather
So is it raining in your bedroom?
And I see, that these are the eyes of disarray
Would you even care?

And I feel it
And she feels it
I find in places like that I tend to crawl up inside my head, my face a mask of unapproachable cool, and I never stop moving. Last night I was given license to go roam around while I waited for the show to start, the wry thoughts in my head that this would be a far cry from Christmas eve.

Christmas eve was beautiful. A lone blue spotlight that Ben stepped under and then his voice and his voice only filled my head, only I had to listen so hard at first. I had heard him practicing all month long but he was saving the best for last. He changed the lyrics back to the traditional, and then he belted out the final chorus with a power that staggered me and I have heard all the notes he can hit. Unlike others, he'll keep going. Higher. Louder. More powerful. You can tell how effectively he hit the note by how far away he is from the microphone when he finishes it and takes a breath. It's one of the most beautiful moments I have ever witnessed, and that's just about the sentiment of every other attendee who was fortunate enough to be there that night.

Sam summed it up nicely. I knew he could sing, I didn't think he could sing like THAT.

Last night we wound up in a smoky club to hear Ben help out a friend who had a guitar gig at a spot and lost his singer at the last moment. They traded off lines and it sounded pretty good, though it wasn't my style or Ben's, but that's okay. Friends with guitar skills are good to have, and friends who force people to step into the spotlight when they get to that place where they've been out of it so long (and church doesn't count) they'd rather not go under it again? Even better.

So with smoke in my eyes and house music thumping through my ears I wandered around, sipping a ginger ale and not smirking at some of the outfits on people who were only just born when I was finishing high school and I'm sure they were looking at me wondering who brought their mother but then they were admiring as they checked out my ink but it was still slightly dark and so my crows feet were mercifully hard to notice and the white streaks in my hair fully obscured by the spastic lighting and I didn't really feel my age until we got home and I realized I was so tired I thought I might cry.

I would pick the church singing any day, after last night.

I think Ben would too.

Oh drat. Could you help me put up these signs, please? I do believe I have lost my cool. If you find it, there is a reward.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Hiding behind screens made of silver.

The world belongs to the meat eaters, Miss Clara, and if you have to take it raw, take it raw.
Something about sleeping in so late the past few mornings have completely wrecked my routine. This is supposed to be a good thing, I am told, to keep me out of my usual set of tasks each day that lead me down that well-traveled path to the pantry door and then back again, stopping every now and again in a patch of light to warm myself.

I'm all Christmas and discombobulated and ever so slightly behind today, and so a chance to stop late this afternoon and have a cup of coffee and watch a little bit of an old movie on the television while Ben took the kids to the river to sled was perfect. A recharge, if you will and now somehow I wound up with an errand list for tomorrow as long as my arm, but it will all get done and in good time and then maybe there will be another chance for another breather tomorrow late in the afternoon, with another old favorite on the screen that I can quote by heart, and maybe, if my luck holds tight just a little longer, a few more days of this thing they call Not Thinking.

It's surprisingly regenerative. And not at all near the pantry doors.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

What you wish for.

Merry Christmas to you all, again. Even though I told you yesterday and I'll probably tell you tomorrow too.

I'm taking a few minutes to breathe, somehow we are eating lunch and dinner for a dozen is only three hours away, but this is what happens when your children sleep in, and your husband wakes you up by climbing on to you and making sweet, sweet Christmas love to you before the day even begins.

And do you remember this post? I got everything I listed.

Even the tictacs, and most especially, the music.

There is sand all over my living room. What fun!

Have a wonderful day. Are you still warm?

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The Christmascrumb Tinies.

B is for Bridget, smothered with attention.

What's nice about right now is that I have been kept busy for most of today, and now as I struggle to shimmy into my black church dress, which is far more puritan than you're probably imagining right now, and my knee high Doc Martin boots because they aren't the least bit puritan and it makes for a really great outfit, I'm excited. I'm excited to go to church and see the candle lights and the tiny white lights and the darkened church and the single hot spotlight for Sam, the readers of the Christmas story and each soloist in turn. I'm excited to see Ben sing at church mostly to win the bet that this kinder, gentler Ben will not get struck by lightning for doing so.

I'm excited that my Christmas dinner table is filling up faster than an airport departure lounge eleven minutes before the flight is supposed to leave. What was going to be an intimate meal for just us four plus a handful has now swelled into a small crowd, and maybe my army is going to stay together just a little longer, just to get each of us through some of the hardest, and the most beautiful times of the year.

I'm excited that Jacob is somewhere waiting quietly for me to approach him first, like the wounded bird who lives in a shoebox that I am and I'm excited that Cole has made a little space for him at last in that silly memory room choked with its locked and overfilled file cabinets and I never seem to have the right set of keys.

I'm excited because it's Christmas and the spirit is contagious and the children are just about losing it and shortly they will turn the corner and quiet down some, eat a hot supper and then go and watch their stepfather sing, surrounded by their honorary uncles who love us more than anything in the whole wide world. It isn't a sad Christmas or a difficult one, just one that is, so far, going very well indeed. I will sit in the middle and be kept warm and be held gently because that is my place in this holiday, like most others and I wouldn't trade it for all the frankincense and myrrh on the planet.

Merry Christmas to all of you and the ones you love.

I hope you are warm.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Oh and for the record, I will continue to grace your screens right through the new year, for unlike everyone else signing off and disappearing, I have nowhere I would rather be this year. To me, writing a public journal (because I really hate the word 'blog') is less of an endured chore and more of a welcome requirement, a chance to report from the front lines of the biggest war I've ever fought in.

The one inside my head.

So while I will of course wish you a Happy Holiday, it isn't actually here yet so be patient, dear readerlings.

Here, have a cookie.

Black and green and read all over.

I once read a Neil Gaiman book too. It was a nonfiction paperback about Duran Duran that came out when I was a preteen with access to my best friend's stereo and all of her vinyl. I was the youngest child in my house and no one would give me access to the record player, let alone a drive to A&A Records and Tapes so I could have my own music. I had an FM radio in my room. This was approximately one year before life exploded and I was suddenly old enough to be permitted to walk to the record store and I was given that handmedown RCA portable tape player with headphones and I proceeded to have headphones glued to my head up until the day my first child was born. Said child is now almost ten and I can sneak the headphones back on for running, extreme groovy dishwashing, and the like.

Wow, that was a tangent and a half. This post is not about me dancing while I scrub plates.

(Though, yes, I am a vision in my sudsy, porcelain glory, thank you for your imagination.)

And I admit that with two children and two dead husbands and everything life has thrown at me over the past few years I haven't kept up on all of the lovely writers out there, there are simply too many and I veer toward a select few when I have the time to read. I try to read a lot but it gets away from me quickly and I'll be the first to admit the four-foot tall stack of materials on my nightside table and the post-its with book titles printed on them on the corkboard are a never-ending game of catch-up that I couldn't hope to win.

So I am very sad and incredibly jealous that my cute skull shoes, writer-profession and Victorian gothic house did not earn me one of these boxes.

But I will still go see the movie.

And possibly now, find some new books to read because falling behind has cost me dearly. (Did you SEE #46? That's the one I would want. The wings.)

I'm only sort of kidding. I don't get jealous very often, and I don't even believe I qualify for a box since all of them related to the handmade or Gaiman-fan aspect of the blogs involved but those boxes are really freaking neat.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Such a cozy room.

Oh, we're doing that thing again. Where it's just about the last week of the year and the days are going to get longer again and things will be so much different next time around.

This year I'll leave it at saying I will believe it when I see it, even though I am forcing change with a gentle vengeance all on my own. At long last.

It's Monday. The kids are on their first official day off for Christmas break and I am on mine too, by default because part of the deal was that my work schedule match or fall short of their school schedule. We are entertaining a new family member, a tiny little nine-month old black cat we rescued from the shelter yesterday, a friend for our three-year-old cat since when we're not home she just seems so lonely, so now there are two. She fits in well and is very affectionate. Ben said we should have named her Bridget but we did not.

Today is a wash in pale blue, a snowy-blowy day where we will stay indoors and keep the cats apart. Seth is being taken to the airport as I speak by a sleepy Benjamin, who hasn't had enough coffee yet to be polite but one more cup should do it, and we are on our own for the week. Unchaperoned, unscheduled, unpressured.

Just being.

Kind of almost exactly like last Christmas. I like it this way.

He's back now. Bye til later.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Practical Magic.

You know what funny is to me? Taking the kids to the early service and when the collection plate is passed we fill it to overflowing, having weighed down our coat pockets with silver and gold, trying not to clink when we walk in and sit down. Sam has not caught on yet, even though he winds up spending an extra fifteen minutes each Sunday afternoon sweeping the floor in the sanctuary because it's covered with coins that have fallen. He marvels at how generous his congregation is and the fact that he must collect and redistribute the plates midway through the hymn, they are so full.

Is it not a sad day when you plot a month's worth of practical stunts and the recipient is nothing shy of grateful?

I need better victims.

And I am late for church again.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Disbanding the alpha-bet army.

There are five more sleeps until some strange and magical, albeit chubby man wedges himself down my crumbling, ancient chimney to leave token gifts for the children under our Christmas tree. I wish him luck. What a busy night, what an insanity of a holiday we perpetuate.

It's fun, isn't it?

Giving out bonuses was great fun yesterday. People are always surprised and humbled as their emotions play visibly across their faces like a movie on a projection screen. First thinking there must be some mistake, to disbelief that they now own that much extra, to wondering what they might do with it. And true to form Caleb's investment in the most desperate of charities this year left everyone all around with good feelings and gives him a good foothold in this city and a good foothold up in his ascent from the bitter hell he's existed in my entire adult life. He slides as much as the rest of us, but in his eerily Cole-like perfection, I daresay no one notices him even climbing.

I put my money where my mouth is as well over the past six months, tying up virtually all of it in the children's trusts and then giving a whole bunch of it away because it gives me more in the end.

Not more money. Less. I will return to a simplistic life because it's less crushing pressure somehow and less of an avenue of escape for me. But that's not for you to worry about.

In any case, the family meeting was a frustrating symphony of emotional noise last night and I'm left fairly certain that some of my closest friends no longer have a clue, and so this morning I boiled it down and what's left is this. So read carefully. I think I've condensed it nicely.

Ben is not perfect. We argue more than any other people I have ever met. We each contain more human defects than any other people on earth and we couldn't be less or more alike. Seriously. For every mirrored facet we have there are ones that carve a line between us in black and white.

Our love will be different and it will work. Why? Because I need to keep him safe and you need to see that his selfishness isn't the same. For everyone else the ownership lies in a sheer and simple need to take something away from someone else. To be on top. To have that upper hand. With Ben it is different. He wants me, wants us, because he is childlike and he wants what he wants when he wants it.

Because it is pretty and fun to play with and suits him perfectly.

There are no ulterior motives with him. Ben's life is different. He just is. Life just is. Take what you want to explore and don't worry about anything else. Wake the fuck up. Let it be. Hungry? Eat. Tired? Sleep. Stressed? Escape. Bored? Do something cool.

There is nothing else. Nothing hidden, nothing underhanded, nothing complicated.

I figured it out finally, why can't you?

I accepted and embraced it. Why can't you?

It's fun. Almost as much fun as waiting for Santa Claus.

There is no more Bridget-army. It's been disbanded. The base is closed. Go home and wait for Santa, you've all been good boys this year.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Anything not to feel so alone.

It's a busy day today, we're leaving shortly to distribute some really pretty little gifts that hold the customary holiday bonus that one comes to look forward to when one is of use to a man like Caleb. His doorman, his accountant, his satellite lawyers, his henchmen, and several other business owners around the city who have gone above and beyond. I make him sound like a mobster.


If I could refute the label, I might.

In any case, he almost knocked me over this morning. With a question and then with an offer.

Firstly he asked me what my favorite afternoon ever spent was. Ever.


1991. Halifax. In the pouring rain, Cole and I overslept on a dark Saturday, and then went exploring tiny bookshops and coffee shops and then we went to a double feature in a virtually empty movie theater downtown. We capped off the night by ordering in chinese food and making love. It was the most perfect day of my life because I wasn't worried about anything. Nothing was on my mind except doing fun quiet things. We bought a poster that was a diagram of all the shipwrecks that ring Sable Island. I don't have the poster anymore but I have the memory and I always call it my favorite day ever.

Caleb smiled and asked if I would like to maybe go to the movies with him this afternoon instead of working. We'll play hooky and then I can go home and maybe find the rest of that day with Ben.

I'll take it.

That wasn't the offer, though.

The offer was something else, and you won't really get it but I do.

A pitch to step in and provide emotional support and defence to make up for the continued erosion/side-taking going on between the boys. A deep divide that Cole happily cultivated to outnumber Jacob and now the trend continues only it's me against..well, just about everyone. There's a family meeting tonight to figure out how we are supposed to support Lochlan, who seems to be falling apart in great leaps and strides. Mostly they think I should be supporting him, and it got to the point where I tried to cancel the meeting because it shouldn't be falling to me to make it all better but I was swiftly vetoed and then virtually ignored.

And outwardly I'm sure everyone thinks that I make all the wrong decisions and take all the wrong actions but if I'm going to ever make a stand against things I no longer believe to be right, then the best person to have on my side is...

...probably not Satan.

But it's nice to spend time with someone who has a bigger fear of being alone than I do.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Strawberry shortcake.

You're covered in my skin
I couldn't imagine anyone else
Come up for the weekend
I couldn't imagine why you would save yourself
Good morning. I'm here. I charged in this morning tictactictac across the floor, lunging for the elevator button as if rushing now could make up for not rushing earlier this morning.

Because...well, the food fight didn't end at the restaurant. Ben and I picked it up again around midnight and decided there was time for more fun and it finally ended at six this morning with no honey left in the jar, mascara smudged across my face, my hair sticking up all over, and one stocking mysteriously, completely gone.

I think he ate it. Someone ate it. It's gone.

Actually, I have no idea. I can barely concentrate as it is. Today is mindless organizing before the holidays (thank god, because I noticed my nails are still caked with strawberries and I showered) and tomorrow Caleb and I are going out around the city to give out the Big Cheques to those here who are closest to his evilness. That will be fun.

Maybe between now and then I'll get some sleep but I doubt it because as I was leaving Ben said something about marshmallow fluff and I know I look like the Cheshire cat but you couldn't get this grin off my face with a crowbar today. I needed that. All of it. Sometimes things just need to be taken so far out of control you wind up hoping for the best.

And that is exactly what I deserve.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Impulse control.

Life is full of surprises. As a treat and because I am a princess who needs to be handled with kid gloves, spoiled rotten and generally given all good and wonderful things, Caleb managed to keep it a secret that we would be joined for lunch by Ben.


What a great surprise.

Unbeknownst to Caleb, though, Ben reads my journal. He checks it when he has a minute, usually reading it off his phone and sending me messages that say "cute post" if it's a happy day and nothing if it isn't. Works for me.

We looked at each other as we sat down and the only thing that went through my head after ordering was yay! and then he can be the first casualty in the food fight.

Oh noes.

When Caleb turned away from the table slightly to take a call, I chucked a piece of avocado at my husband, who grinned and lobbed back the entire piece of bread he had just taken a bite out of. It was buttered and smacked me right in the cheek. I squealed and reached for a cherry tomato and Caleb turned back around and I stopped. He looked at the butter on my cheek and pointed and Ben burst out laughing. Then Caleb excused himself and stood up, ostensibly to visit the washroom. I wasn't paying attention, I was staring at Ben, waiting for his next move and he was holding my gaze steadily. Eyes narrowed, grin full on. So I didn't notice until it was too late when Caleb slipped an ice cube down the back of the neck of my dress. I howled and jumped up and three of the waitstaff rushed over, not knowing what was wrong. By now Ben is halfway out of his chair laughing.

The fight was on.

In the process of being (politely) thrown out less than three minutes later I believe I saw Caleb pay someone for our meal and then some, they weren't at all impressed but it's also Caleb's favorite restaurant here in the city, where he brings clients and spends a fortune every week, so I'm pretty sure they will let him back in.

Ben and I? I doubt it. Fine by me. If Ben is going to smear butter all over me I'd much prefer he do it at home.


Meet Bridget, patron saint of insanity, absentia and mile-high shoes.

I still haven't spoken to Lochlan.

Do grown-ups still indulge in silent treatments or is it immature? You know what? Call it self-preservation, I don't care. Call it childish. Call it bullshit. If I talk to him I will mess up and I don't feel like messing up anymore. I've graduated to becoming a functional human and I'd like to stay this way.

That is, if you'll have me even though I can't really hear you unless you're facing me, and you don't mind the rather formidable ghosts who walk on each side of me. Oh and the rather unruly husband who stands in front of me and serves to be the oldest and biggest example of childish you will ever meet. Ben has a point though. Don't mess up, bee. Don't do it. Don't go. Don't have doubts. Don't think he might be right. Don't listen to him. Understand that he's hurting and that you can't help him anymore.


I know.

So I will be childish too.

It's not all that hard. You should try it.

Ben weaves in and out between the ghosts and places some chips on my shoulders and knocks others off and forces my back up and my chin out and mends and breaks my heart daily. That's what immaturity is. It's refusing to talk to people who are selfish and who want to hurt you while they fulfill their own needs, it's avoiding those who do not have your best interests at heart.

I'm just old enough, it seems, to understand that, and little else about what is going on.

Maybe at lunch today I'll start a food fight. I bet that would go over well with Satan, who thinks we are, as ever, downright amusing.

As are the shoes today. Be glad you're not in them.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

In hockey they call it dump and chase.

I'm at work early today, here for over an hour already. Caleb wanted me to accompany him to an awards breakfast this morning downtown.

It was at the same hotel where Jacob once hijacked the ballroom and some of the band members to have a dance with me, but hey, we'll just gloss over that today because I can't go there right now.

I have more immediate fish to fry. Esoteric, mysterious, repetitive fish. Inconsequential feeder fish.

Hockey night was last night. Ben and Lochlan put on their gear and rip each other to bits. Oh, and that has nothing to do with the game. Westies won, 4-1. Easties never had a chance. My netmonkey of a husband was on fire.

I should have let them go alone but I was looking for something to do and also, I worry that at some point their blows will stop sending messages and start sending more pain. There's enough pain. So after the game when I found myself in my boots and Jake's big flannel jacket, standing between Ben and Lochlan in the net on the ice I figured all three of us had reached a new low. It took one fist to fly to get me out there and they didn't dare throw any more punches with me that close. It's much more difficult to land a proper hit wearing your gear and usually that doesn't stop them. It doesn't stop Ben, okay, fine. I'll give you that.

Since Lochlan came out here with an obvious hand to play, I turned to him, knowing full-well that blocking Ben from him was a clear message.

Why are you doing this?

Do you need to ask?

I guess I do. I don't understand you.

Bridgie, come on. You know damn well why I'm here. When everything goes to shit everyone always comes to you. I know when I walk through your door the lights are on, the house is warm, there's a fire, there's food for me and there is someone to hold. It's an escape or a comfort or a little bit of both. It's constant.

It isn't yours, Lochlan.

It could be.

No it can't.

Why not? You're wearing down. It took ten years for Jake to convince you, about ten weeks for Ben, so I figure ten days should do the trick for me.

You sound like an asshole, Lochlan, and you're not one. We're doing really good. Please don't make trouble for us now. Besides, you already made your choice and it wasn't me.

I made a mistake, princess.

Well you know what, Lochlan? I didn't. For once. I think you need to find somewhere else to spend Christmas. I can't be around you.

You're used to it, I don't plan to be difficult, I'm just telling you that I fucked up because I didn't want to compete with the caveman, so I pretended that I was bowing out first. In case you made a stupid choice, which you did and it's been a year and you're still carrying on this joke of a marriage and it's time to get back on track.


Yeah, princess?

Go get your stuff and leave our house please.

He had the nerve to look over my head, waiting for the inevitable nod from Ben that I would be ignored.

It never came.

You want me out? You know damn well I'm here because there is nowhere else.

Go home and work this hard on your family. Keira's not the only one who's made mistakes.

How many times are we going to have this conversation, Bridget? You are my family. Or are you too stupid to understand that I'm here for you now?

Since we all seemed to be on a roll with trying something new, me with asking Lochlan to leave for good, and Lochlan using incredibly mean words against me, Ben decided to try something new as well. He pulled me out of the way, and I thought he was going to haul off and punch Lochlan again but he didn't. He kept going, skating and pulling me across the ice, not stopping until we were on rubber. He disappeared into the dressing room and I stayed outside, waiting, and then he came out in his clothes and took my hand and we left the rink.

Of course, this is Ben we're talking about, and he unlocked the truck for me, threw his bag in the bed, started it up, turned the heater on high and then went back inside the rink. About a minute later he came out again with the usual red knuckles, fire in his eyes.

I started to ask if Loch was okay and he cut me off.

He's going to pick his stuff up later tonight when we're out. Don't you back down now, bee.

I shook my head.

You'll back down, but for tonight this stands.

Ben am I-

-stupid? That's not fair. Naive, maybe. But only when it comes to men.

But what about-

Me included. And I'm glad for that, sometimes.

Just now in typing that I saw the double meaning, and I know that I'm where I'm supposed to be. I'm relieved, Loch did indeed take his things while we had silent coffee after the game and he's gone to stay with John, which is where he was supposed to stay from the beginning. And I don't know if I'll back down. The longer I live the more I'm beginning to understand that there is a glaring, wide-open space in between coveting someone and respecting them and being on this end of such a significant lack of respect with all the history between Lochlan and myself leaves me furious that I didn't see it sooner. I'm not what he wants, I'm just leverage to keep him where he thinks he should still be.

And I don't think I like that anymore.

Monday, 15 December 2008

I didn't forget to post, Andrew, I've been in transition.

Since my friends addle me when I don't write until after lunchtime.

Rattled today.

I don't know where today is rushing off to, my brain isn't even awake yet and I feel as if I've been left by the side of the freeway during rush hour and have to run to catch up but no one noticed yet and so I'm just going to sit on the guardrail and bundle my coat around me a bit tighter and wait for someone with a friendly face to remember to come back for me.

The kids are home this afternoon. Ruth had a stomach ache. Henry was coughing. I sent them this morning and turned around and went back to get them almost immediately. We simply weren't ready for this to be Monday, I guess. Of course, they're fine now. Shrieking with laughter and playing a game, sweaters buttoned to the chin because it's so cold out you don't even want to know how cold it is. It's nice and warm inside, unless you go downstairs or stand right beside the front or back doors. Or the side doors. Or any of the windows. Or...I think you get the picture.

But you know what is warm today? The AA medallion I'm wearing, Ben's one-month chip that he put on a chain and gave to me to hold for him. I haven't taken it off, it's inside my camisole, warmed against my skin. He wants me to have it but he didn't say why or if it will become a tradition, just that I needed to take this one and keep it close.

It was given to him last night and I was there to see him get it. Suddenly admitted to the inner sanctum of Ben's unfinished mental edits, I finally am able to see the stories that he wanted to protect me from before. Which I've read and I don't find as horrific as he seems to think I should.

I am so proud of him. Even if he jumped right back on his road to getting better and forgot that I was sitting here waiting for a ride. See, the problem is my stories. They're the ones that take up all the space, and that's why everyone keeps passing me by.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Today you will make an effort.

(In a rush and this is what comes out of my head?)

Unacted-upon impulses.

Who doesn't have them? If you're human, they are a part of life. Down on money? Briefly entertain the thought of being a dashing thirties bank-robber. Break up? Contemplate eating the entire pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Shopping and see a sale on shirts? Wonder if the deal is too good to be true, even if you never looked good in a grass-green empire-waisted square-necked chunky sweater.

Now you're a round, green girl on the lam from the law.

Was it worth it?

Of course not. That's why we don't act on most of our impulses. Our lightning cravings. Our urges to risk our predictable wants for more uncharacteristic inclinations.

Want to hear some of mine?

(Because I don't want to write about anything that I might want to write about tomorrow.)

I want to get PRINCESS tattooed across my knuckles. PRIN on one hand, CESS on the other.

I want to spend a thousand dollars on pottery.

I want to lose whole days sitting up in my glass room not writing but drawing. Never mind that I am between glass rooms.

I want to dye my hair black.

I want to rock in a hammock on a beach outside of Road Town drunk on white wine and read an entire book in a day.

I want to put everything we own in boxes and drive until the weather won't fall below zero. There we will unpack our boxes and remain forever.

I want a spell that brings the dead back to life.

So I could be a zombie-loving, introverted, heavily-tattooed and almost-broke goth girl looking for warmth or I could....

Oh, wait a second here.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Okay, I like it now.

Mygods. I was pissed because the market closed and reopened a little further away from my house, which meant more waiting, busier aisles and general mistrust on my part.

Walked in, saw Starbucks, then won an iPod at the checkout.

That is all.

Tuning in.

Sometimes I think God has switched my life with a TV talk show or a soap opera, and the quiet, happy, almost-mediocre times are simply commercial breaks. We catch our breath and before you have time to pour a glass of water, everyone is calling you back to the living room to see the next installment.

Hurry up, it's starting!

My guys can be stoic in their anguish. Lochlan has been losing weight, being angry and mean in a way that doesn't speak of his true personality, and generally everything that has come out of his mouth since he's been here is something that we're either going to have to excuse or things are going to get a lot worse yet.

Last night we had a family meeting where everyone took turns telling Lochlan that we were here for him, so that he would remember. As if he didn't know. He doesn't know which end is up and someone asked if he would be moving back here permanently, he looked at me, his eyes positively crazed over like a wretched lunatic and asked how he was supposed to leave his daughter? PJ started to say that she isn't yours so what did it matter anym- and before I could stop myself I said too loudly that just because someone isn't yours suddenly doesn't mean your love for them shuts off like a switch.

Great, now everyone is looking at me.

What? I said. Should he just walk away? He is the father SHE KNOWS. He loves her. That hasn't changed. Her needs supersede all others until she decides something else.

So he's just supposed to keep providing for her?

Legally, she's his.

Thank you Bridget. Lochlan was smiling at me, but barely. I wondered if I was crazy for doing nothing.

And with that the SOS order shuffles again and Joel gets knocked off the stage where Ben and I sit together and now we're joined by Lochlan, who's never been up here, and doesn't like it one bit. Joel can be moved since he's accepted a position with a research organization and can still work in the field, just not with patients. At least until he somehow grows less naive and less good-looking. (You asked.)

The SOS stage is an imaginary place where those of us in our haphazard family can go up to when things go wrong and we need intensive support from the rest of the group. Everyone has been here at least once. Ben and I have our names on the backs of our director chairs because we've collectively spent much of the past three years here. I invented it a long time ago when Andrew broke his elbow and it's been there ever since.

It's a peaceful place when it's empty, but a horror show when it's full. The kind that gets big ratings, the kind that people refuse to admit they watch.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Whole stories.

The words are very tangled today.

In a nutshell, Lochlan is here because his pride went down the drain sometime around the first of this month, when Keira was finally forced to tell him that Hope is not his daughter and in effect, belongs to someone else. Lochlan thought he could come out here with his secrets and we wouldn't notice the incredible rage and sadness that was just underneath the surface. He tried, I'll give him that.

It explains a lot. So much, and it explains Keira's apathy and their inability to get along or be a family. It explains Lochlan trying so hard and yet feeling so detached all the time.

I have all kinds of thoughts on this subject, most of which I'll keep to myself. However, I will say two things. Firstly, it's better that he finds out now, while Hope is still barely a year old. And two, for all the judgement that was leveled against me by Keira (and just about everyone else) when I flew to see Loch two years ago and wound up sleeping with him, to find out that she would turn around and do the same thing she was so vitriolic about seems like vindication for me.

Only it really isn't.

I don't know how to make Lochlan feel better, I don't know what he is supposed to do about this little girl that has his last name, that he loves so much and suddenly has no claim to, and I don't know what to do about his total despair. I am not the fixer. I'm usually the problem. And I can't be his comfort, because that causes further problems.

And like paternity, you can't take it back.

Forgive the mess that is my head today. I hurt for him.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Running out of small.

I woke up to Black being played this morning. Softly, quietly. On a guitar near the lamplight. Which beats the hell out of Bridget playing it on the stereo, stopping and playing it again around her favorite part, three minutes and forty one seconds in.

Some things breaking are wonderful. Some are not. Voices, yes. Hearts? Never.

The concert last night was amazing. The kids waved to me when they saw me in the crowd. Henry is such a clown. I thought he and his best friend might fall off the risers at one point but they did not. The kids sang out clearly and loudly and I could hear everything. I filmed everything. Ruth looked a little unimpressed at first but both kids locked their eyes on me and did really well. After their groups were finished I picked them up from their classrooms a few minutes early and we went out for french fries and home to read another chapter of The Prisoner of Azkaban. They were both asleep before nine. That in itself is a gift.

The entire seventh row in the audience was their fan club. Thirteen very big and (mostly) tattooed uncles who cheered very loudly and possibly intimidated the newer crowd of Nursery and Kindergarten parents who don't know us. I did not sit with the boys, instead I snuck up to one side to film everything and there I remained while the guys put their bullshit aside for ninety whole minutes to focus on the children.

Easier and difficult all at once.

I'm very proud of my kids. They had fun. They're growing and changing so fast I can no longer keep up. When Henry decided he was going to wear a dress shirt and a tie, when he makes a move to hold my hand and I notice for the first time that his now covers mine and he'll soon be taller than I am. When Ruth disappears behind a closed door and comes out wearing a dress and everything matches from sweater to tights and she rolls her eyes and goes off to draw pictures of horses while she waits for us to catch up.

Next year I daresay they will no longer allow us to escort them to their classrooms or pick them up at the door for lunch. They already want their own cell phones, a request vetoed until their ages end in -teen because I don't want to fry their little brains with electromagnetic waves and frankly they're too young to require one for safety since they're never unattended or unaccompanied.

But that day is coming. I don't think I'm ready, even though I'm sure I'll be fine, and so will they.
I know someday you'll have a beautiful life,
I know you'll be a sun in somebody else's sky

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Grief of a different sort.

It's easy to get things done when you don't sleep. It's still a while before I need to wake the children up for school and the laundry is finished and folded, the dishes are washed, I've had breakfast and have made six granny squares toward a scarf. I also went for an hour-long run. Alone, in the dark, against everyone's wishes because it was a better deal than staying here watching Ben and Lochlan square off.

You think some things never change? This is one of those things. Lochlan and the chip on his shoulder flew out here so he could spend Christmas among friends. His soft place to fall is still here, after he generously gave in to Keira's wishes that Hope stay with her for the holidays, since this is their first Christmas apart. Last year Hope was a newborn, and all was well for them and this year it's a mess. He was supposed to have the baby for Christmas and he was going to come to the city for a few days and instead he's just decided to stay for the next month, using the time off he deferred from last month, arriving just in time for the children's Christmas concert tonight. Fulfilling the obligations he's allowed to, as well as the ones he shouldn't. Between the unchecked quantities of affection and the offer to be there every second of every moment, I can see why we keep going in circles.

So he comes home to bury his head in the sand and ride out his miserable holidays among people who love him but wish he would get a clue and go fix his once-perfect life. I wish he would let go. I wish he would stop causing problems, stop trying to encourage this game, and stop leaning on Ben so hard I'm waiting for the inevitable crumble.

I wish I could say any or all of this to Lochlan's face but I can't, because I don't have the guts. Because I like doubling the affection and I like the fact that he's attentive. That he worries about me first and everything else second. Fine. There. Happy now?

But I also love Ben in a way that trumps Lochlan by a million miles and Ben and I have pulled each other off the vicious cycle and we started our own pattern. No repeats. No do-overs. No end in sight. Lochlan's share has been appropriated and he missed his chance and for him to come barging into my house at eleven at night insisting that we all pick up right where we left off is cruel. I know he hurts. I know he's lost things. I know he has regrets. And I'm trying to be here for him because he has been there for me.


Over the years, Loch's blatant disregard for my feelings leaves me cold now. He can put his arms around me and pull me close and say he's sorry and he just wants things to be different and it doesn't change the fact that I have moved on. Ben was there, too. Ben has been the one, as much as he could have checked out completely with his own issues and his night job that took him away for weeks at a time, Ben has been here. With me. The whole way. In spite of everything.

So we can comfort Lochlan through his first holidays alone since becoming a father or we can all go down in flames together. We picked comfort. He is still family, and he needs us.

Even though right now? I think I wish he wasn't here.

You're not holding up your end of the arrangement, brother.

There is no arrangement anymore, Loch.

Come on, Tucker. What's changed?

She's my wife. The games are done.

You guys like games. She'll come around.

You might like to shut the hell up before I take you out. Oh, and don't call me Tucker.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

You labeled me, I'll label you.

How could he know this new dawn's light
Would change his life forever?
Set sail to sea but pulled off course
By the light of golden treasure

Was he the one causing pain
With his careless dreaming?
Been afraid
Always afraid
Of the things he's feeling
He could just be gone

He would just sail on
Hallo, internet. I'm here. I'm at work, though a little late. Ran into Satan right inside his front door, freshly showered and in a towel, seeing off his paramour (I had to really look for a nice word, give me credit here). Both were rather surprised when I walked in, and Caleb asked me if it was that late. I said it was, and she asked him why I had a key. He told her off and she left. I noticed he didn't bother to dress and accompany her home. Interesting. I also noticed the once-over she gave me, looking down at me as she walked past and then when the door closed and Caleb asked if I would make some coffee while he got dressed, I noticed as he turned to head upstairs how beautifully his tattoo stands out against his skin. Diabhal, in huge gothic letters on his back, from shoulder to shoulder. In case you thought I came up with his nickname.

I did not.

I did make the coffee and on my way past the stereo, I pulled out all the Metallica I could find and loaded it up to repeat all day long. I left it low and called up that he needed to get a move on since he had a meeting at eleven, and he told me to cancel it. I reminded him that it had already been rescheduled once and he wasn't likely to get another chance before the new year and I heard him swear. A few moments later he emerged, covered in Hugo Boss and unshaven, no tie. A bit less formal than usual but still commanding attention on stature alone.

He kissed my temple and told me to enjoy the coffee and the music and maybe we would go out for lunch. Yesterday Ben and the kids came and got me for lunch and we went to McDonalds and I was back before the door closed. Caleb prefers two-hour lunches. I think I'd rather cut lunch short and go home early at the end of the day. Perhaps I'll defer and just try to get the day over with faster. This new casual familiarity is uncharted territory, for I don't believe I've ever witnessed Caleb interacting with before and it really surprised me how ungentlemanly he was. Compared to how he treats...well, me.
How can I be lost,
If I've got nowhere to go?
Search for seas of gold
How come it's got so cold?

How can I be lost?
In remembrance I relive
And how can I blame you
When it's me I can't forgive?

Monday, 8 December 2008

The only road I've ever been down.

I promised I would write more later. It's later, here is more.

Ever get a song stuck in your head that you didn't appreciate? Right. That happened to me shortly after dinner and now I'm humming Bittersweet Symphony through my teeth almost wishing What's the Frequency, Kenneth? would come back to haunt me for several more months like it did before, because REM is always a better choice then The Verve.

I'm calling an end to this day, much the same way I began it. In my cold, bare feet with a headache hellbent on coming back and eyes that no longer want to remain open. And I'm still having a really good mood, in spite of the pain and unwelcome British radio hits.

Sigh. Goodnight.

The Bokeh Girl.

You know it's going to be a very good day, when the first thing I do is pad downstairs on cold floors in bare feet and crank the stereo up really loud. Good morning, family. Mommy needed a wake-up call today.

This song was my rally-cry for so long and it looks like some things never change. Good things happen when a girl has life (and love) on her side.

And I'm at work and in a good mood. Something's really weird here. Satan is in a good mood. Ben is just a whole heap of smiles today and Daniel went home yesterday and back to work this morning. Nolan is coming up for the kids' winter concert later this week and I'm looking at pictures of myself on Flickr.

Caleb just asked if I was planning to play Switchfoot all day and look at myself on the internet. Should I ask him if that's an option?

Will write more later when I peel myself off the ceiling, okay?

Sunday, 7 December 2008


Christmas crackers are these neat little cardboard tubes covered with pretty paper and gathered at each end with skinny pieces of cardboard protruding from said ends. You grasp the ends and pull, if you're lucky you'll hear a loud snapping noise, and then the cracker will open to reveal your treasures, usually a fortune or joke on a slip of paper, a tissue-paper crown, and a toy or surprise of some kind.

Just like a box of Cracker Jacks, only there is the added bonus of royal wardrobe accessories and cued-up sparkling dinner conversation. Because these are the Holidays.

I already bought a big box of Christmas crackers and that means..well, it means I'm done. It's the final entry on the proverbial list and I am ready for Christmas. Aside from decorating the tree, mailing gifts home to the coast, and picking up Ruth and Henry's presents from Santa, I am ready to roll. All of those things will be accomplished this week.

I'm ready and the holidays are here and I'm not on pills and not fresh off the ward and not holding onto the professionals expecting them to breathe on my behalf because I pay them well and not living just because no one will let me die.

That's progress, considering last year Christmas was done for us and around us and I did so very little, stumbling through the holidays in a daze, on autopilot and attempting to sort out my head and my heart but doing nothing except floating on Jacob's inevitabilities and holding Ben's hand.

The funny part is I didn't have to lift a finger or do all this but I did, methodically keeping lists and starting around Halloween, just to get and stay ahead and be productive and contribute. Breathe on my own. Hold Ben's hand but sometimes skip out in front, instead of lagging behind. Be a good wife. One he can someday be proud of. Secretly buy him presents and hide them away in places he can't reach into but I can fit easily. Places he'll never look. We're equal and he is up to something, conspiring with the children, going off to run errands after dinner, taking one child with him each time and they come home with secretive grins and packages and I have to go somewhere else in the house so they can go to the off-limits room and tuck away their ideas. No one will give up even a single hint, but that's okay because neither will I.

It's rather fun. This far cry from last Christmas and I'm getting excited for when the kids are done school and all jobs are suspended in favor of sitting around the fire and the tree spending time with all the people that I love, telling jokes to each other and wearing our crowns. Trading our toys if they don't seem to be meant for the right people and hearing the sound as we are pulled simultaneously between the present, past and future with an audible snap.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

It's a good thing to have Jon Foreman songs stuck in my head.

All along I thought
I was learning how to take
How to bend not how to break
How to live not how to cry
But really
I've been learning how to die
Overnight fear chases sleep from my head and doubts crowd in to choke of the self-confidence I worked so hard to build up over the course of the day, in my constant mental self-nagging to breathe deeply, move slowly, think less.

Fear joins the cold and together they snap a blanket out full and it drifts down over me like a shroud and maybe I am dead and I haven't noticed yet.

No, I'm not.

And if you would prefer, you can stop reading or I can lock you the fuck out and then you'll never have to pass judgement on me. But we both know we're blowing smoke, because I need to write to empty my head, because the cost of keeping it in is greater than the cost of letting it out, and you, well, I guess you just have a sick fetish to keep coming back. It's okay, there is no shame here. If I have none then you don't need to worry about a thing.

There there.

Last night Caleb came over. I may joke around, and call him names and bait him horribly and allow him access to my head and my heart but when all is said and done (that's an oxymoron, it never is) he is trying, just like we all are, to make his way in the world under a cloud of tragedy and he's trying to figure out who he is, who he wants to be.

Just like you, and just like me.

Remember how I told you once that Ben and I were two halves of the same person? We both veer far off course creatively, we're both wildly immature and perverted and we're both incredibly fragile, determined people? Well, believe it or not Caleb and I have a lot in common too. We both loved Cole and miss him terribly, we're both masochists driven to distraction by our needs and we both have an overwhelming desire to protect Ben.

Anyhow, Caleb was over last night to drop off the presents he has for us, because he did that shopping himself, even for the children, which never fails to impress me, and also to apologize for cornering me so brutally on a day when I was losing that sunlit, confident edge. He offered me the rest of the month off and I refused, and he took his forgiveness and wore it like a blue ribbon prize, because he's worked hard to not come across as the villain in the group. (That was Ben's job, remember?) and he's worked hard to try and be closer to us as his family. To watch over us. Sometimes unwelcome assistance, but assistance nevertheless.

He's held back from weighing in on important subjects, and he's overstepped his boundaries on others. He makes mistakes. I'm not going to make excuses for him and he's not going to shove down my throat the mistakes I make.

Mistakes like completely ignoring some of Ben's wishes. Which I'm not going to tell you, because if I thought the hate mail multiplied before, you would lose your minds. And maybe someday I will grant them, but not now because I'm in no condition to go there.

I'm really not.

And I'm okay with that, and frankly, so is Ben, because he isn't ready to face his greatest fears. Not yet. It isn't time. There will be time later, but not now.

Because now, I'm late for brunch. With everyone, Caleb included. I don't ask for readers, you know, so if you don't understand why I need him in my life, I can't help you.

Friday, 5 December 2008

One more thing.

I hope someone sends me one of these. it's been a long time since I looked for one for real.

In it you can write Get a clue, stupid.

Keep her in the dark, I hear she feel safest there.

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark
Then I'll follow you into the dark
I think I will stay home again today.

Even though I wasn't home much yesterday, I didn't go to work. My "job" seems to be on an as-needed basis and if I don't show up anything I don't do just gets added to the pile or pawned off on someone else.

I don't like the taste of crow anymore, you know? And yet I eat it every day because everyone is always right and Bridget is always wrong and I know I shouldn't have taken the job with Caleb but I did because I am selfish and I'd like to keep all the men I have loved, in whatever form I can, very close to me, no matter what the cost.

You wouldn't understand.

Wednesday evening at Caleb's loft, after being cornered for the third time and having John not show up to pick me up because he was lied to flat out at Caleb's request, I realized precisely how desperately Caleb is to keep me close to him. He pulled out a little emotional blackmail, found a crack, and drove a very big wedge. He and Cole have the same gifts for making my brain think things that aren't in existence, and making every word seem like the truth in a new light. He makes it very easy.

Wednesday night he talked what he knows about Ben and why Ben drinks and what Ben wants and why I was holding back from giving him what he wants and how things are never going to change because the past is too big and too wide and too crushing to escape. All these things Caleb knows because when Ben was at rock-bottom he told Caleb everything he wants because that's what you do when the devil offers you your wildest dreams.

Caleb drove that wedge deep, because I believed every word he said. Just like I always believed every word Cole ever told me, even the lies, even the blatant attempts to steer me down a path that would leave me lost forever.

I came home but I couldn't talk to Ben. He tried. I tried. Every time I wanted to talk I was afraid I might hurt him or accuse him so I feigned a headache and went to bed. Ben doesn't push, he knows when the cracks are running deep and he just allows space for me to figure it out. I still don't know if that's good or bad but I really wanted him to discount all of the unspoken questions and go kick Caleb's ass and fix it.

Fix it.

Like Jake used to.

Only Ben isn't Jake and WHY does that bother me so much sometimes?

So yesterday morning I got up and went to see Jake to ask him.

Or rather, I went to sit on his bench, which is interesting, I now have the perfect outdoor amphitheater in which to play out my drama, cursing Cole for his evil genetics and need to destroy me and cursing Jacob at the same time for not being here to fix it and cursing Ben for having visible flaws that other people can use to tear both of us apart, separately and together.

I sat there a little too long in the very much too-cold, and they sent in angels again.

Sam, hurrying down the path to me, awkward and convicted. He grabbed my hands, said we were going inside, Bridget, don't argue with me and he drove us to the church where he said if I needed to hide, I had the run of the place.

I hung out there most of the day but I didn't want to talk and everyone seemed satisfied that I was safe and that I would just go home later.

I didn't.

I went to Joel's apartment instead and asked him if he had any dinner and Joel is such a pushover he poured some wine and I haven't had a drink in so long. We had a long talk, then I went home in a taxi and Ben met me at the sidewalk and all of it came out. All of it. Right there in the cold because for some reason with us when the snowflakes start falling so do all the fears and they pile up between us and we shovel and shovel and we can't keep up with it.

He yelled at me. Again, I put him last. I left him out in order to protect him and it hurt him more.
Why didn't I go to him first? Why didn't I lay out Caleb's accusations and proclamations and let Ben answer for them, if I believed them. And if I didn't, they why didn't I come home?

I don't know. If I knew which end was up, would I keep falling?

But Ben can't be any harder on me than I can be on him, and his angry words quickly dissolved into frustrated tears and we were both shaking from the cold. We came inside and I thought we were going to sit and I was going to burn off the wine but instead Ben pulled me into the den and then backed out and closed and locked the door.


Serves me right.

Sometimes the safest place to be is the saddest. Apart. Alone. So we don't continue to hurt each other with our words and our suspicions and our flaws. Sam's ten-count, only this time it flowed past in hours instead of seconds and early this morning, just before the ghosts could crowd me out of sleep, Ben picked me up off the chair where I slept with my head on the desk and brought me back to bed where it was warm and soft and loved. And he held me really tight and told me that he wasn't ever going to tell me I couldn't do something but that if I was going to keep working for my brother in law I needed to not let my guard down.

Even if I'm tired.

Even if I'm doubtful.

Even if I am Bridget.

Ben called Caleb this morning. Said I wouldn't be in. Said a bunch of other things but he walked all the way down to the other end of the house and I couldn't hear any of it. I'll ask him about it later. For now I just want to get back to where I was before Wednesday, since I thought I was finally doing pretty good outrunning my own mind. I guess I didn't notice when I rounded that corner and it caught up to me. I guess I didn't realize there are no ghosts in heaven and that's okay because that isn't where I am now.

I can hear Caleb's silky voice in my head reminding me that I am always susceptible to evil and what I can't find, I will create. And I see further still that he has his own price to exact for the loss of his brother and I am the only currency that will be accepted.

They want to know what it's going to take and I don't know the answer to that any more than I know the answers to any of the other questions I have today.

Namely, who's lying and who's telling the truth?

Thursday, 4 December 2008

You know what I think? I think I have very few friends left who will allow me to be self sdestructive and the rest seem content to just let me be between the ghosts and the real horrors and it ins't very fair at all.

Precious few who witl drinkw th me. Even though its been awhile and really, I'm a hypocrite or something because Ben no longer drinks why should I? Or rather,why should I suffer|?

I still don't know what I'm going to do, I just think that today maybe I should have been left where Iw as found. With Jake because he could put up a wall and keep all you out.
For the record I haven't quit. Yet.

I'm allowed to hide out with Sam, who smartly suggested I do the day-long equivalent of a count to ten, so if you need me just follow the yellow brick road.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The only one that made it.

gone under two times.
I've been struck dumb by a voice that
speaks from deep
beneath the cold black water.
It's twice as clear as heaven,
and twice as loud as reason.
It's deep and rich like silt on a riverbed
and just as undisturbing.

the currents mouth below me opens up around me.
suggests and beckons all while swallowing.
It surrounds and drowns and sweeps me away.

But I'm so comfortable...too comfortable.

shut up shut up shut up shut up
shut up shut up shut up shut up
Mark another X on the calendar with a red pencil, dip my finger in the sugar bowl and then put it in my mouth and smile just a little bit. Reach down to pull up my striped socks that come way up over my knees for warmth. Tuck my keys back into the inside pocket of my corduroy bag and move my coffee cup away from the edge of the table because I can envision it falling even though I'm sure it won't.

I have coffee hiccups and sweet dreams in my head today. Yesterday was fun. It was a spoil-day for Ben in honor of his birthday. He didn't have to do anything he didn't want to do, and we did everything he wanted to do, with great enthusiasm.

Early on, with Daniel up and around and capable enough to be left with uncle duties for the morning, Ben and I dressed warmly and went for a short run. Very short, as in mere blocks, just to top up my state of mind, and warm him up for what was next. A little hockey time in which he skates all over the place really fast and takes shots at an empty goal while I cheer him on and he feels as light as a feather without his usual extra goalie gear. I sat in the penalty box with my hands wrapped around a cup of hot chocolate from the vending machine because he nagged me about the amount of coffee I have been drinking lately and I agreed with his observations.

Besides, better coffee awaited at the diner, where we once again found ourselves, just like on Sunday after the service in which I was reminded once again to find a balance between cursing and deifying people who no longer breathe. This after Ben locked us in the empty dressing room in the virtually empty skating rink, him with half his gear still on and me wondering if normal people ever live the kind of life we do and not willing to find out in case I lose my way back to this. To him.

Breakfast was delicious, and then we went to take pictures in the conservatory because they have strung it with lights again and I missed out last year. I won't share the pictures because one or the other or both of us are in all of them and we're smiling easily and the black circles don't make their presence known, or maybe it's just that the light is so bright and natural in there.

Then we headed for record store row, which is a string of tiny hole-in-the-wall places without signs out front, but inside are milk crates stacked all over the place and the light is so bad inside it's a wonder he ever finds anything, but Ben came out with a Zeppelin bootleg and some other assorted vinyl that made him uncharacteristically excited. Afterward we poked around in a used bookstore (with better light) and he would read the backs of romance novels to me in funny voices so that I would laugh. That's when I noticed he wasn't looking fierce and scary and angry today, not even once, the smile drove it all away for me, and it isn't right that it's Ben's birthday but I'm the one having all the fun. He argues this point endlessly as we poke around the stacks.

He bought me the cheesiest book he could find, the cover featuring a black-haired half-vampire, half-pirate, wearing a shirt that is almost ripped off and sporting sinewy pirate-muscles, cradling a helpless blonde woman (in a nightgown!) in his arms and looking as if he will destroy anything that comes within a hundred yards. I can't wait to read it. Ben points out he has had that look before and I said we needed a wind machine so our hair can do that too. He rolled his eyes and said it was a whirlwind romance, that's why they seemed so poofy, and we were definitely not poofy people.

We took an early lunch to stock up on energy before spending the rest of the afternoon with Mark at the tattoo shop. Ben is finishing work on his calves and I had ivy added to the ivy already on me only this time some of it is black, fading to green in the imaginary light that hits my skin and it now wraps from my neck down my shoulder and around my arm and gives the orphan butterfly a place to rest. I'm thrilled with it, all done in Mark's steady free hand. I sat and listened as the boys talked about being sober and being in charge of their lives and their futures and it was the easy, clear talk of men who aren't wrapped around spiritual riddles or caught up in the race of rats. Talk that makes sense without having to think it over even once.

After that we headed home, and sacked out on the couch to play some snowboarding games and give Daniel a reprieve. I walked over alone to get the kids from school and Ben headed out for a meeting. Daniel, bless his heart, went back to bed.

Dinner was mayhem in our house. As per tradition, birthday dinners are long affairs with extra candles and impromptu speeches and gifts passed across dishes full of good foods and there's always extra laughs and thoughtful smiles and it's a chance for the birthday boy to have his worth to all of us soak in for a long while. And I avoid the big birthday dinner like the plague because I'm never sure that I like birthdays when they are mine and much prefer to spoil everyone else instead.

Especially with cake.

Ben loved all of his presents, and all of the words about him and most especially the food. He showed off his new ink, some of the guys played a little guitar and then before we knew it the night was over again and I was washing dishes and not humming in the kitchen while he and Daniel sacked out in front of the fire, each one with a sleeping child, and talked a bit until I was finished because I refused to let either one of them help and then one at a time, Ben carried each child to bed and then came back for me.

His fierce look came back right around the same time, because he gets quiet and serious and profound just as I'm turning flighty and fluttery and he held his arms out for me and showed me how much he loves me, only this time it was in the dark, in the warmth of our bed instead of up against the wall under the bright fluorescent lights of the dressing room at the hockey rink and afterward we compared those facts and laughed in whispers as we fell asleep, fingers laced together, lips on skin before Ben turns away to sleep his still-sleep that scares me, save only for the heat that radiates from his skin when he dreams.

This morning he drove me to work, for just a little more time before we leave the story we want to write in favor of the one that we're just now finishing up, and he kissed me hard in the truck before I got out and he told me to have a good day at work and I said you too, because I know at the end of this day we can leave this fake public existence and go back to the good story.

That one with the hot vampire pirate and the beautiful-but-helpless wench on the cover.

It's a pretty good read, you know.

Bridget can be poofy.


Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Coming into his own.

There is no post today, or rather, this will have to suffice. We both managed to finagle the day off, alone, together, and it starts now.

Happy birthday Benjamin.

You look damn good for a forty-year-old.

And I love you.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Over three thousand.

The number of kilometers that our dinner flew in a suitcase, wrapped in tinfoil and ziploc bags, to be transferred to a hot wok, heated, assembled on our plates and then shoveled breathlessly into our poor coastal food-deprived mouths and hearts, courtesy of a most generous man that I haven't even met yet.

Three words that make this princess so very happy.

King of Donair.


(I'm sure he's my father, this elusive king. Since I am the princess, after all, and I love everything he makes.)

The only way out is letting your guard down.

I stand here all alone
And I can see the bottom
The temperature has now dipped down into the complete frigid zone here, and this morning, I trudged across the nicely shoveled, salted sidewalk and through the door, held open just like the car door, since God forbid I drive a vehicle at twenty-five below.

It was Mike's idea, or so he says.

I came in and Caleb took my coat, lingered on a glance at my outfit and then asked what I wanted for music. I yanked my dress down just in case of static and threw Breaking Benjamin over my shoulder as a order. Because I want loud. Because I like angry and bitter on Monday mornings. He frowned and obliged and then went to pour me a cup of coffee and brought over two cups, still hanging on to that endless glance.

I reached a new low this morning, wearing my (forbidden) doll-shoes for Satan.

I needed these shoes today.

They're six inch stiletto-heeled platform pumps with ribbons that tie in a nice plump bow at the ankle. They are my ridiculous, I'm going to kick your ass shoes, and I felt like being a difficult girl today and so on went the shoes. Unfortunately the only thing the shoes look normal with is a tiny little black dress with puffy short sleeves and a little white collar. Very goth french maid. And my hair would not cooperate between the static and the cold so I have these little wings sticking out in front and in back at my neck and I look like I should possibly be painted on the side of a vintage aircraft from the war or maybe a cheeky soft-core porn calendar from the twenties and maybe it's okay because this is how they like me dressed.

You missed the point and I've gone on a personal tangent as a result. I'll blame you. Were you not paying attention when I pointed out Caleb brought ME a cup of coffee this morning?

Right. I don't get it either. He's covered up the fact that he does not need a personal assistant quite nicely today with a list of things a mile long that I need to do. Namely Christmas shopping. Incredibly decadent, intensive Christmas shopping that puts most people to shame. No, forget people, his budget might put a small principality to shame.

I'm just killing time now waiting for him to change his mind because of the 'cold'.

Only since you're still not paying attention I'll point out he'll give the cold as the reason but the true reason will be so that I am around him today and that he can look at me and my shoes whenever he wants.

I'm going to wear my Converse high-tops tomorrow. The pink camouflage ones. We'll see how long it takes him to take me down a peg for violating his wardrobe requirements.

When it stops being fun I'll quit, I swear.