Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Black gives way to agony. A mash up.

Bonham is home. He was neutered and he's had surgery on both eyes. All went well. He's very happy to be home. A week of drops, ten days of no running/jumping and all will be well again. He's doing fine.

I must run. Have to get gas, groceries, some assorted things at the hardware store and if I'm really lucky, lunch out and a pack of Pilot fountain pens. Because I didn't know they made disposable ones, I always steal Caleb's expensive ones and wait for him to ask me for their return.

Ben is really great.

Bye.

PS It's album day! Go now!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Dances to shades of grey.

Oh, hell, people, I'm not that drunk. Not by the long shot I wish I made.

In a nutshell, stop emailing me if it's something negative. I have negative. I bring the negative. I can find the dark in your sun and the pain in your ecstasy without hesitation, so if I want a drink at lunch that's none of anyone's business. Neither is it anyone's business if I have five in hopes of a blackout that will bring me to Jake so I can tell him the good news.

Gotcha. I had two. Because life is short and I was thirsty.

I am not in a position to have to choose with Sam, so if you were worried, don't be. Making nice with Caleb is not a requirement to be a part of my life. Just ask Bridget. She isn't very nice.

John will be fine, he says. Ben can make his own announcements, it isn't my place to spill any beans from his plate, full as it is. Or maybe that's empty now. I don't really care now that he has ripped his wings off and can stay awhile.

Because that is all I want.

Someone to stay awhile.

So I won't be alone. No one wants that. Especially for me. It isn't good.

So. cut. me. some. slack.

He's coming for you.

Fredddddddddyyyyyy.

Awesomes.

Am having a lovely day off with my big tattooed husband. He is aspoinlings me. Took me out for breakfast, lunch and bought me a beautiful long black swing coat and a amazing black suede bag from Nine West. With bondage hardware on it. He said that was the best part. I was all about needing a big bag to hold the various CDs and happy meal toys that wind up making their way to me almost daily.

Har.

Back tomorrow with sensical things. Or maybe not. :)

PS Tomorrow is the holy trinity, don't forget. Alice in Chains, Default and Breaking Benjamin all have album releases. Like Christmas, but without Santa.

PSS I'm not drunk, I swears.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Equinoctial points: when night and day are equal.

How can I be lost
In remembrance I relive
So how can I blame you
When it's me I can't forgive?
I woke up this morning, pulled on Ben's dress shirt and walked out onto the wrought iron balcony to watch the huge v-shaped formations of geese flying south over the Russian district in the cold blue skies. The early morning temperatures sent me quickly back inside, where I could see breakfast set up on the table already in the otherwise empty loft. I ignored it. I woke Ben up, passing him back his shirt while I started pulling my dress back on.

He got up and started to dress also, wordlessly. I found my watch and fastened it around one bruised wrist and he passed me, landing a kiss on the top of my head and taking a moment to hold me. Our eyes met when we pulled apart and we made one last survey of the room before turning to leave.

The car was waiting downstairs. Good. Drive of shame. Mike didn't say anything other than Good Morning. I didn't reply. Take me the fuck home so I can sleep. So I can wash Caleb's indelible fingerprints off us and spend a little more time talking about what sort of effects this spectacular new venture is going to have over time.

Goddamned precious time.

In a nutshell (thought it's incredibly complicated and I'm leaving things out) the boys have created an umbrella company that will allow them all to, for sake of argument, freelance at what they do best and they will share equally in revenue while still having independence in the far-flung corners of the different creative elements they represent. I will be looking after the administrative end of this new company and nothing more. So I no longer have to be involved in Caleb's other business entities, though with the connections he has there is no way this can fail.

There's been a lot of restructuring in the past few weeks. Including Ben who came home, had a few drinks and decided he was too old to be on the road anymore. He and Caleb spent a lot of time together because I didn't want Ben here, and they came up with this company, though I imagine Caleb already has the company well underway and has just been waiting to collect my boys to make colored flames in the fires of his hell. Like those little paper packets you can buy at the corner store. I always liked the blue flames best but somehow I associate the blue with Lochlan, if we're assigning colors to them.

Lochlan is on board easily. He's already been freelancing forever and he can't argue with stability for us/me. PJ is automatically on board for anything and everything if you end a sentence with "and it will be good for Bridget." Daniel and Schuyler are in. Chris, Dalton and Rob are go. August and Joel will be wealthy, wealthy individuals. Duncan, Andrew and Ben will have their creative hands in all kinds of projects. John switches careers entirely. He concerns me the most right now because he could easily wind up on the wicked side of this whole operation and so I will keep an eye on him. Well, they all concern me but dinner and beyond last night cleared up a whole heaping pile of my fears and I'm left wondering why they didn't all get together and do this ten years ago.

Sam has an open invitation he will not accept. His allegiance to Jacob's church and Bridget's ungainly faith is something Caleb's evil can't penetrate and that's fine with me. Sam and Caleb have done nothing but argue over me for days now. Sam is like I was yesterday but I couldn't persuade him to come out with us last night in order to clear the air. I will talk with him today after church.

This massive undertaking is good for everyone. Not only does it mean that with small exceptions here and there, everyone will be home all the time, but the boys who had to work harder for less will now be standardized so that they will continue to work hard but see a faster return for their efforts, an ability to enjoy the finer things now instead of waiting for later. Honestly, a few of them are already well off and they work for fun. Their needs are few. None of them have designs on expensive lifestyles anyway. This isn't a bid for material wealth. More a bid for security, emotional well-being and actual community within our collective, instead of timeshares. Instead of these horrifically crowded calendar pages in a dayplanner that goes around and around.

Instead of goodbyes.

No. more. goodbyes.

Caleb did this for me. He is the only one who could do something like this for me. Who would refuse guaranteed wealth in exchange for permanence? We're not twenty years old anymore. Life on the run gets hard after a fashion. That's why the boys didn't argue, though I'm not sure they understand fully what happens when they go to sleep at night and I am with the devil.

The catch, I mean.

There is always a catch with Caleb. He didn't get where he is by giving things away for free, as philanthropically-minded as he is publicly. Privately, there is always a price to be paid.

When so summoned, Bridget must wake up in hell. But oddly enough, she must bring Ben with her. That part almost made it okay. We know the rules of that game, we've played before. It gets easier. We're a team. We don't have to say goodbye all the time anymore.

That was worth my soul. That and the $2.99 for a packet of Mystical Fire to bring along.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Satan, reader of blogs.

First hat trick of the season, three posts in one day. I'm either drunk or my head is so full the words are pouring out my eyes at this point. Okay, both.

He had every intention of taking us out for dinner. You know, to celebrate the fact that he will be financing our lives in order to prove that he has my best interests at heart.

I should be grateful.

I'm just tired. This is almost everything I could ever ask for, short of bringing back the dead. Right result, wrong methods. Though, I should really just ask about the bringing back the dead thing. It seems like since God won't, maybe Satan will.

Like you wouldn't switch sides for that.

Scorned.

I think the most interesting part of today's revelations are that the angrier I got, the darker the skies became outside. A collective ambush would have been better served warm, with warning, instead of under bright lights and scrutiny inside of a difficult place in which there was so much background noise it took me a full hour to piece together what has happened to the brains my boys used to have.

Oh, that's right. Caleb had them stolen.

I'm really hoping I find the ransom note soon. I'm sure I have something of value I could use to get them back. In fact, I'm positive I do, which is why I really don't get why this happened or how to fix it or really if it's just a bad dream and instead of a handful of hours of sleep, perhaps I am still in my bed and none of it happened.

I haven't actually said anything out loud for close to two hours. They have stopped asking for reactions. The phone has stopped ringing. I failed to extend dinner invitations in my shock and I don't think anyone expects me to make dinner right now except for Ruth and Henry but they don't have a clue and that's fine with me so perhaps food will materialize and if six o'clock comes and food doesn't, I will make soup for the three of us and the rest of them can go to hell find something to eat. Elsewhere even.

I sat down to work through things but it's not coming because the pulse of adrenaline is making my fingers slow and unhelpful. I'm trying to not be dramatic. Or panicky. Or passive-agressive. Shocked. All in stride. Best scenario for everyone. Stupid justifications thrown out as balm on an itching rash. What the fuck.

Bridget, everyone will be here. All the time.

It sounded so amazing. Until I remembered who would be holding their souls. What the fuck, indeed, boys. This isn't a good idea and you know it. After everything we have gone through, you're still collectively underestimating Satan's power.

And I don't know why.

I already sacrificed myself to him. I do what he asks. I'm going back to work for him. So if you're doing it to protect me, you're decades too late.

In my head I can hear Cole laughing.

It's raining now. Maybe I can toss in some thunder and lightning. If I had that kind of power right now I think I'd zap that smug fucking smile right off his face. Then I would burn him to the ground. Alive. And I'd stand there and laugh while he screamed.

What the fuck, Ben. Lochlan. All of you. Equal partners? There's nothing equal here at all, I don't care what it looks like on paper. You guys have made a huge mistake going into business with Satan.

It's really too bad that you can't figure it out. Maybe he needs to kill me instead of EVERYONE I LOVE and then you might all get a clue. He's told me it can be arranged, but then his fun will stop, and we all know how special Caleb's brand of fun is.

This is delusional. I must be asleep.

Sleeping in the car.

Hold me closer let me be
Hold me closer let me go away
Barely know you know my name
Trip the witch and ride the shame
Good morning.

It's very early and we're going to some sort of function that sees me attempting to put perfect lip gloss on at seven in the morning. I'm not sure I enjoy these very dressed-up events that require me to be alert when my body hasn't had time to acknowledge the coffee I sacrificed to it yet and sleep was in short supply thanks to a combination of a late night outside talking, the dog being awake half the night, the city on a Friday night in full glorious stupidity and Dalton and Emery showing up and bringing this event to us on a day when the larger plan was to..well, rest today.

Instead, God no, I get to sit here in this dress that highlights the fact that I've been sick (it is very black and I am so very pale) and it's a teensy bit snug (shut up) and the shoes just HURT (but they look HOT) and I didn't paint my nails and my ringlets are falling out and Lochlan is staring at me with that Oh, fresh-baked princess kind of appreciation and Ben is calm and happy and handsome this morning and the kids get to go play all morning with their friends and I mentioned Dalton was here which is huge because he was supposed to be gone for so long and sometimes the calendar just straight out tells bald-faced lies and that's okay with me.

God, I hope they have more coffee there. I can't even think.

And Emery. Christ, I haven't even introduced him to you yet.

Later.

Going now. Have seven whole minutes to sleep in the crook of Ben's elbow in the car, and I'm going to take it. Somehow Mike is delivering us there? No idea. Like I said, coffee isn't activating Bridget and Bridget is not going to be so sparkling today. Have to go on looks, I guess.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Unglued in a really good way.

All is not lost. I just scored the best block of seats in the house for Stone Temple Pilots.

Come home to mama, boys.

Addictive.

What a long week. I'm capping it off with the cold from hell, as that's where they are born. I lost my voice a few times already, a squeaky Kirstie Alley kind of twist to my words that everyone finds so amusing. Once my head was upright and there was coffee poured in it, I feel a little more capable. Have already cleaned up a bunch of things and am ticking through the inevitable list on the counter because I don't remember things anymore. I'm going to be the old man in that mental illness commercial in a few years, the one who buys lemons every day and there are lemons on the shelves and in shoes and pockets, too.

Oh hell yes, that will be me.

Ben fixed my iPhone. It is lovely. Just one or two little issues remain keeping me from loving it. Namely the low volume, lack of ringtone assignments for text messaging and horrific reconciliation with my email on the PC. But it works and that's the main, awesome part. I am leaning toward keeping the Berries going until July though when my contract rolls forward, so we have a backup iPhone in case he or one of the children drop HIS phone. Because shit happens and those phones are not indestructible.

Of course I can break things with my mind, so perhaps these are issues mere mortals never have to experience.

I told you I was special. You didn't believe me. Ha.

This is the last hot day of the summer. I plan to get some groceries and then some vodka and sit out on my Victorian stone patio and relish the last rays of the sun all afternoon with my love. I haven't seen him. There is no time that we have, only that which we borrow, and then we have to return it or pay fines we can't afford. No vacation loans, no renewals, because this is a bestseller.

It could be a keeper, but no one will allow it. I learn so slowly to do for me, it's an impossible task sometimes, like climbing a mountain without shoes on, like flying without visible wings.

How could you?

I feel perpetually left behind. Like everyone took their life instruction books and ran off and I can't find a book, no one included me when they were given out, there wasn't one with my name on it and I don't know what to do. I have no answers, just the try. Always the try. I've gotten good at failing first, almost to the point where I have gotten reckless and I do the opposite of what I plan to do because hell, it can't be any riskier.

Nope.

No riskier.

Riskier doesn't look like a word.

Who cares.

Loneliness is an incredible, completely mental condition. Lobotomy for one please, because it's all in my head. So the next time you grab your handbook and take off for life or escape into life or hide out from life, for Gods sake, take me with you.

Please.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

I wish I could see inside his head. Sometimes I wish they could see inside mine. Open books but muddled storylines. Tales crafted with words pretty enough to obscure the truth and hide the ugly realities from our gentle eyes.

Time doesn't stop for us.

Scott, this time I'm kidnapping you to add to my collection.

What a day so far. Smashed my ankle on a railroad tie, waiting to hear about a financial matter that could save me hundreds but probably won't, and I have no earthly idea which side of the licence plate I'm supposed to put the renewal sticker on for my car and far too proud to ask.

I'm waiting to sneak a peek at Ben's truck when he comes home and then hopefully go from there. It's confusing here. Back home it was simple. But back home we also had a single laminated card for a license and here it's a three-piece dealie with a laminated card and a paper card with a bunch of information and then a plastic sleeve. It does not fit in a wallet.

I don't complain though, every other single thing is easier here for some reason. Except learning to live with the cold. I see this coming week we'll hit our first zero for overnight temperatures and so I should be covering my gardens until I have them wrapped for the winter.

It's difficult to think of all this on a beautiful day like today.

When Ben gets home from running around with the boys, we're going out for Thai and then will grab some coffee on the way back. Maybe if I'm lucky we'll get to check out some other things along the way. Putter around, drive around in the truck listening to music with the past looming large in the rearview mirror and the future laid out on the highway in front of us, invisible roadkill we will drive over leaving marks on the asphalt but not even feeling a bump. I'll wear my seatbelt pulled tight and low over my hips and never find a comfortable way to put my head back to close my eyes because the headrest is so high and I'll have my window all the way down to feel the warm wind.

I'll forget about the sticker and the new ankle bruise and all the other stuff.

Just for five minutes.

Five whole minutes.

Jacob always said it was there, I just wouldn't claim it, always giving it to someone else first, a narcissistic martyr of the highest degree. You know you are loved and you exploit it and then make it impossible for anyone to do anything different.

This is my fault.

Over two decades now with the barest shift in the roster, the changing of the guard and we're still here. Hell, Jake is still here if you come knocking on the darker, windier days. My link to Cole comes through Satan, because depraved and evil older brothers are better than cake sometimes until you reach too far and find out you got quite badly burned indeed. I have zero business playing in Caleb's power playground but I persist because he appeals to all those parts of me that you only see on those days.

So there. Part of it is putting myself in the line of sight so that Caleb stops corrupting Benjamin, because he can so he does. He thinks it's fun. Pull the strings. Puppet, dance. If I take Caleb's focus off Ben then maybe, possibly Ben can get away.

Part of it is like I said before. Caleb brings the evil. Bridget has never pretended not to like that. To a degree. There's the catch. I like it until it goes too far. Don't we all.

Part of it is because we're irrevocably tied together in more ways than we can count and so it's a long slow dance of agony until eventually one of us will die.

I know who goes first, for once.

Oh dear. I've gone and darkened the sky just a little again. I had to, the glare was making it so difficult to see. I'm going to go now anyway. We're headed out for lunch now. I'm wearing flats because my ankle is sore and it will be lovely because I'll wind up with armpit head from constantly being tucked under various and sundry overwarm boy arms.

Worse things could happen.

My Dayquil could wear off.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

I need one of these for Ben.

An Elizabethan collar. Maybe a psychological one and then he couldn't tear open the wounds in his soul every ten minutes. Oh, the analogies I can make right now but I won't because my eyes are closing.

The last load of laundry is in. The giant tattooed Benjamin is upstairs fast asleep under my Leafs blanket and I'm contemplating a cup of coffee. Just a regular one, nothing fancy. It turns out Bonham has an ear infection and some eye problems and scratchies from having too many baths with a dog shampoo that doesn't like his skin and so we have drops and washes and plans to not keep him fresh smelling all that much. I have this feeling this little dog is going to give us a run for our money, literally, for the next decade or so. That's ok. He's a pretty good dog, and soon he'll feel alot better, I hope.

Ben too.

Puppy has barfies. News at eleven.

Hectic day today. Kids to school. My parents left to catch a flight out an hour ago. We have to take the dog to the vet (terribly swollen eyelid, scratchies and pukeys too) and then I have a mountain of sheets and towels and all our regular stuff to wash. At some point. Probably long into the dinner hour and beyond, tonight. Maybe we'll go out for dinner. Who knows? Depends on what's up with Bonham and if we can leave him alone for a bit.

It was a good visit. Tense in a few moments for me as Ben tried to work his ass off downtown at the studio and then come home and be a social animal for a few hours, usually missing dinner but picking up right afterwards. He was too tired for all that but he did it anyway. And my parents had fun. That was all that mattered. We needed a good pulled-together visit and it happened, finally.

The really good news is the next twelve days are all mine. He will be home. Not just home but here. In the house even. Resting and sleeping and having fun and hanging out. Time we need. Then it all goes to hell at the first week of October again.

So I will just enjoy the next couple of weeks instead and not worry about anything else.

Well, except the dog and the wagon and the ghosts and all the usual things. But right now I have the sads for my puppy. So he takes first watch. Then I'll deal with the rest. Oh, and I have a cold even. It was six degrees this morning! But HEY, I CAN BE POSITIVE TOO!

Pft.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Department of defense

The most amusing thing that has happened all week long has been Lochlan and Benjamin fighting, in code, over my head and around my parents without coming to blows. I bet by tomorrow they'll be up to hammerfists and headlocks but for now they've got their nonsensical phrases and low growly threats that they've dressed in costume for the occasion.

As always, Lochlan is adamant that I don't put myself in Caleb's line of fire, and Ben..well, he doesn't so much care. Heh. As long as everyone sticks to the rules, of course.

It's jealousy on Lochlan's part, and he won't deny it. He would much rather be the one fighting over time with me instead of being left out altogether.

So I can safely say it's not a love triangle.

We're making fucking pentagons over here.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Cherries and bergamot.

Late last evening, a package was delivered. Mike brought it, because it was from Caleb. We didn't spend last evening with him but he wanted to make his presence known anyway. He is hoping to be back in town this evening to join all of us for dinner and put forth his good graces to my folks, seeming all the while existing to make the other guys seem less smooth, less accomplished and less pulled-together.

Of course the package did exactly what it was intended to do, confuse everyone. Easy enough for me, difficult for everyone else. Inside the box was a new Blackberry Bold, a bottle of Cartier perfume, Delices, and a Breitling, my initials engraved on the back. A smaller, more feminine version of his own. There was a text message on the phone already. I read it and put everything back into the box and slid the box onto a shelf.

I go back to work November 1st. As Caleb's assistant. Wearing my new perfume and using the new Blackberry which will be a work-only device. Just like last year.

I will most likely return the watch, though I'm not exactly dumb, once something has been engraved, it cannot be returned. It would be the single most expensive piece of jewelry I have ever owned and it's not right that it wasn't given to me by Ben. The last initial is not his last name, the one I use now. And I've wanted one of these watches my whole life. Hell, I want a lot of things that aren't practical. Doesn't mean I will get them. So yes, I think this goes back. And that will be it for defiance for the first little while because I would rather get off on the right foot this time around so I'll comply and wear the perfume and use the phone and dress the way Caleb likes. Like a doll.

Save for my decade old stainless steel watch with the scratched glass and the mother of pearl dial. On it's seventh battery and fourth band, no less. Because new watches don't work with me. I am magnetic or something. We've gone over this before. Would the new one work? It isn't cool for me to even try it on. It isn't from Ben. It must go back.

That would be proper, my mother says. But she doesn't get it either. I think I will keep things that way.

Don't even ask me what the text message said.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

In absentia, in situ.

One of the hardest things about having so many guests this week is that it makes it hard to find time to post. I've been washing bowls and doing laundry and organizing activities and keeping the children from melting down with all the attention and basically enjoying things. But not posting. In a few days I'll be back okay? I had great plans to sit down for a bit and write today but Ben just called, he is on his way home and so I need to go brush my hair and put on my lip gloss and my smile instead. So whatever chance I had is over now. See you Wednesday unless some major downtime comes my way before then. Twitter might be more exciting. Then again, maybe it won't be.

You can live without me for a couple more days, right?

I know, I didn't think so either.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Give me a Sign.

I can feel you falling away
No longer the lost
No longer the same
And I can see you starting to break
I'll keep you alive
If you show me the way
Oh, goodness. I'm one hundred percent sure this song is going to replace Breath as Bridget's Favorite Song Of All Time.

Oh yeah.

Totally.

I an such a sucker for a tattooed balladeer.

Sigh.

Coffee first, then speak.

I like it when the house is quiet. The birds are not awake yet to sing and the dog even sacked back out on the floor after I took him for his morning walk. I had to wake him up the past week or so, instead of the other way around, so I'm wondering if this means I can go back to sleeping in some, especially on the weekends.

Ben was up early this morning and gone to the studio downtown to try and knock off a little more work that has been requested between the fits and starts of managing his life on the run and I got a fast kiss and a tight hug and if I'm lucky he'll be home later. If not, he'll be home late. But it's okay because my parents arrived last evening and we've got the next several days to catch up on things and they can catch up on kid- and grandchild-time and briefly adjust to the laid-back city life we sport here with pride because things are easier here then they are back home. Just daily-life-wise, I mean. Some things are the same no matter where you go. But the folks seem to like it here. They have never seen it when it's -55, however. The love affair would be over before you could say you were cold.

My goal for today once again is a caramel macchiato. Haha. I'm trying to go three for three. It probably won't happen unless Ben brings me one and he won't because he's tired and didn't really want to work today. Plus because I'm not a habitual fourbucks patron, nor do I make the kids wait around while I try and procure frou-frou coffees, ever. It's just the way I am, I guess.

I must go. There's a day ahead and it will be filled with a little bit of busy and lots of extra company and I have to get my ass in gear. More caffeine will help that. Right? Right?

Friday, 18 September 2009

Yeah, well, he's MY creep.

When you were here before
Couldn't look you in the eye
You're just like an angel
Your skin makes me cry
His body is here, his head is not. I've been watching him for days now, wishing I could help. But I know the best way to help him is to just listen to what he asks me for, and to do no more and no less than that. I learned that a long time ago. Long before I fell in love with him. No matter what he asks for. Even if I hate it.

His hands shake. He fires up cigarettes like they're lighting a pitch black path for him to walk. He lights them like they're an afterthought. Hands with the merest of tremors that push forth his vulnerability and leave it there. He tries to brush it off. Fatigue. Cold. Too much coffee. We let him. It serves no purpose to correct his efforts to be normal. There is no normal here.

Ben has let his hair grow out again. It's long and in his eyes. There are some incredible strands of grey now visible that weren't there the last time I saw him. His beard is back. He is hiding behind it. His skin is paler than pale. Vampires are always a hot ticket so no one notices that much anymore though. He has lost a little weight, not a lot. Clothes are neat though. Fingernails kept neat for playing guitar, as always. Weight of the world balanced neatly, heavily, on his shoulders. His big brown eyes mildly bloodshot, glasses on so he can be Clark Kent or Dallas Green or someone else as long as it isn't Ben. Tattoos. Tattoos everywhere. Full sleeves, neck, knuckles visible from here and more underneath his clothes. So beautiful. He has no idea.
What the hell am I doing here?
I dont belong here.
He used to be so laid back. The endless party boy. Never gave a fuck about anything. Cared about everyone but made great pains to hide that fact behind a flippant asshole persona that always put him in last place. I knew he wasn't that person. Always. And now as he gets older and life scrapes past him leaving glacial scars I see the real Benjamin. The worrywart. The tense, ruined man who wants to be pulled together but can't manage it at all. Walking doubt. Walking try.

And he succeeds. Bad luck has a way of following Ben around like a lost puppy and he'll feed it and scratch it behind the ears. That encourages it to stick around but he doesn't think about that. He only figures that if he doesn't have it someone else will, and that someone might be Bridget and she's had enough so he'd better take it. He's taken all the hard jobs when it comes to me and we've fucked up and made mistakes and wondered as recently as two days ago if we were just prolonging the inevitable and then suddenly we'll start to speak and say the same thing and the pieces just fall back into place again and we're sure. One hundred percent sure.

See, when Ben is away Lochlan starts in. And he has my interests at heart. An easy life. No worry. No fear. No stress. No one will blame you, just take the escape and don't look back. But I can't do that. I spend a lot of time looking back. And this time when I looked back I saw two ghosts and I saw Ben, who is not a ghost but a living, breathing representation of my heart. He is stronger than he feels. He feels more than they give him credit for. But he doesn't care about them, just about me. He stands back there and never knows what the hell to do, he only trusts one thing in his whole life. His feelings for me. Always living by that even though it's usually been a poor choice to make.

I can put my hands on his fingers and they stop shaking. Instantly. And I wish Ben could just stay here forever. Even if his head is somewhere else. It's extraordinary to me how fifty percent of Benjamin is better than one hundred percent of everyone else.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Chains, baby.

Go here, go now, enjoy.

Twelve more days! Also on that date, Breaking Benjamin's new album and a few days afterward, the first offering from Them Crooked Vultures.

Jesus, I'm going to go get a job at HMV. I loves my new musics.

Grip.

Wake up to the sounds of the century
They got a long way to go to gain on me
It's all right

The years are coming down like the dirty leaves
I'm gonna plant my seed in history
It's alright
I love my dream

Hold me in your arms
What a beautiful day. It's sunny and warm, the geese are flying south, honking in their nerdy, awkward way, the dog is freshly bathed and I had a blueberry muffin and some dark roast coffee this morning with plans to venture out later for another caramel macchiato because I really need that early to mid-afternoon boost and I don't know who I'm kidding to think that I don't. Otherwise I'm incredibly antisocial from around four onwards.

The house is clean. Spotlessly so. The kitchen is almost finished. Again. Everything is as organized as I can make it. I watered the garden and traded the fading flower baskets for windchimes and raked some of the leaves and weeded a little. I swept the garage out for the last time this year and I've got two loads of laundry here to fold.

Ben is home. Indefinitely. Lochlan is here. The unsung foreverman. All is well with Daniel and Schuy. The kids are healthy and beautiful and hate school already, if only for the drag of getting up and dressed and out of the house in the morning. I reminded them of snowpants and boots to come and what a drag the unshovelled sidewalks (do you hear me, neighbors?) are going to be soon enough. They felt better.

Sam is helpful. We are working on things. He's working on his things and I'm working on mine but we seem to work well together. Ben is working on his things with Seth and Nolan. Working hard because it's easier to do the work here than it is to do it out there. I might be getting my job back, because I loved getting dressed up and being efficient and making money for doing it. I was good at it. And Caleb, when he isn't blackmailing me or coveting me, is a good boss. If there could be a balance it could work and then everyone is close and I wouldn't need to chase text messages and keep detailed calendars nor would I have so much time to bounce around inside my head finding trouble to follow. Because trouble is in there, trust me. I know it's not a popular decision for me to go back and work for Satan, especially in light of the last two disasters, but here it is understood and that's the important part.

Back to work. Squee! On the upside? New fall dresses. Which is a double challenge because I hate shopping and because my favorite dress store closed up and vanished and in it's place, ironically, is a shop called Tall Girl, where they simply chuckled and shook their heads when I stood in the doorway the other day, about to go in and ask what happened to the other store.

Sigh. I will never be tall but I will be well-rested and well-caffeinated. And well-loved, as always.

Life can be awesome when you're not off hiding from it, fighting it and wishing it would just go away, you know that?

Well, I'm still learning it.

Patience, people.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Feedmonstercakeshebenice.

Bridget, what are you doing?

Sitting here. Thinking.

In the shelf?

I fit.

Right, but wouldn't somewhere else be more comfortable?

Probably.

I bet I can come up with a place.

Go ahead, Lochlan. Where?

At the table.

Seriously?

With me.

You're joking.

Eating cake.

Move out of my way, I'm already there.
Could've been the champagne
The champagne
Could've been the cocaine
The cocaine
Could've been the way you looked at me
That told me we were through
In my next life I'm going to stick with the pole dancing and the passionate, monosyllabic relationships, romanticized into a movie-like state. At least then, life was simple.

I still get to indulge in the lap dances though, it's not like so much is missing. Not sure that that was a life so much as another blip on the radar of the most surreal landscape I've ever crossed in a bid to find that fucking inner peace that will forever elude me. It's not real, it's like religion. People invent things to make themselves feel better.

And blip means brief. Not like I ever made a life out of it. But Cinderella persists sometimes and sometimes she's just plain not who you thought she was. I much prefer the life with the smiles and the butler and the fresh-squeezed orange juice and being permitted to be led out the back entrance thanks to who I'm with. Yeah, I'll take that any day. I'll take having to pick the mirror up with my fingers before I can check my lipgloss when we leave and I'll take not having to check price tags and count totals in my head before I reach the grocery checkout.

There's a price for everything, whether you check it now or later. Don't be naive.
It could've been a bad day
A bad day
Could've been the real way
The real way
Could've been the way you looked at me
That told me we were through
Yesterday I wasn't permitted to do a thing, and today it's business as usual. Yesterday no one wanted to talk to me because every time I opened my mouth this unholy keening sound came out like an alien in a different kind of movie and I just abruptly stopped bothering to try. Today they want to know everything that's going on. I'm tired. I don't want to talk anymore. I don't want to paint. I don't want to walk or run. I don't want to cook. I just want to find a nonjudgmental hug that won't be over before I'm ready and sleep in it. For a few days, maybe.

No amount of money in the world can purchase something like that and I'm dumb enough to have thought I might be able to get it for free.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Animal Farm.

He doesn't like it when I talk about the concrete room.

Instead I got a song and a kiss and I was held and I was asked if I was okay and what was wrong and it was exhaustion and heat and headaches and thinking about The Future and all the usual things that grow from a gently lapping surf into a fucking tsunami in the space of a few hours.

Maybe you should wall up the room. Maybe he's right.

Maybe it's just a thing and you should leave it alone, Ben.

I try to. Just...the look on your face, princess.

But the room is closed, mostly, when Ben is home. I get a reprieve from the ghosts. A break from the fear and someone big and strong to take away the cow I had yesterday. Cows are heavy. They take up lots of space. Way more than one single small princess with her very full head and her boys around her.

Wonder what I have to conjure to get PJ to rematerialize.

Probably a goat.

We like goats.

And zombies.

I'm a zombie today. But it could be worse.

I could be a goat.

Or a cow.

But not a ghost.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Bridget as a living, breathing epiphany.

The dim of the wailing guitars comes to an abrupt halt when I open the door. Today the room seemed to be filled with a haze, like dust, serving to further obscure my view of Cole, who likes to lurk in the shadows and making Jacob positively radiate as his favorite place in the room is the warm one, right in the center where the light pours in from some invisible hole high up in the center of the wall. I always visit early in the morning so that the light is best. When I have ventured down there late in the afternoon or overnight it's very frightening. I get distracted by that. Fear has a way of overtaking even the most prolific need.

He smiled at me, that lazy wide grin with his big chiclet teeth and strong chin. He shook his hair out of his eyes and said I looked beautiful and once again asked me to let them go and to close the room off, with concrete, the same way I built it, ragged nails mixing sand with water until I had a fortress that would keep out the enemy.

I made a mistake. The enemies are fear and death and that's precisely what's in that room.

I nodded sympathetically and said no.

Wait. I'll make you a deal, Jacob.

I'll listen. He says it slowly, as if speaking to a child. Wait, he is speaking to a child.

Come back with me because the charade is over. You're not dead and I will be better if you just come back. I'll close the room, because we won't need it anymore. I smiled, sure that I could charm him with the fragile beauty he grew to love so.

What about Cole, Bridget?

He's dead. He can go somewhere else. See, I have proof that he's really there.

What is the proof?

I was there when it happened.

And you don't believe in my death?

No, I think you got scared and I know you're still alive. You're my Jacob. You wouldn't have done what they told me you did. You didn't believe in that.

A desperate man is capable of so much, princess. Look around you.

It was a warning and I studied his face. The face I have stared at for days on end before because HE wouldn't leave. HE couldn't stand to be away. HE had to be within reach at all times. To keep me alive because I do believe in hasty exits from unimaginable, imaginary pain.

That's why he is still alive and he's out there somewhere in physical form and I keep mixing all my values with shock wondering what the catalyst will be to bring him home and then I hit on it this morning as I skipped down the dark and lonely path and my breath caught in my throat when I realized.

The promise was designed to keep me safe. The promise was created to keep the secrets. The promise was the key to everything. And so I'll have to break it, and when I break it Jacob will come back and he'll be pink and warm and breathing deep and evenly and I can be safe again.

Because he promised. And if he can break promises then so can I.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sacrilege.

Low?
I'm on empty
Try to erase all the bad times
Free?
I don't seem to be
My soul remains tied to your life
Every breath you breathe deep
I feel you circulating through me
This morning Lochlan and I had a shoving match in front of the stereo.

Because I am fourteen forever with him and because he tends to forget that it's my house.

I wanted to put Godsmack on and all he ever seems to play anymore is Pink Floyd. I have something wrong with my brain, okay? If I don't want to hear something I physically can't listen to it. It frustrates me and I tried to push him out of the way and picking a fight with someone bigger than me is never a great plan (I only come up to his shoulder).

He is not above shoving back, and I sat on the couch hard.

We both looked startled. Like we both woke up suddenly and said what the hell are we doing?

Oh, wait, no, he said that out loud.

I waited. Lochlan usually answers his own questions. He never required a witness for a good honest conversation.

There's too much pressure, he says. How can you live like this? How can he be worth this, Bridgie? Why would you continue to put yourself through all of this. You think he cares? I don't think he understands the weight of this on you. He can't. Can he?

I waited some more. Maybe he was finished and I could play my songs.

Nope.

Ten minutes go by and he's still talking but I stopped listening because his fears don't have room in my head anymore. His selfishness is a thorn in my side and I wrap my arms around myself and rub absently at the sore spot on a daily basis. It won't heal. It hurts when I stretch. It aches when I'm cold.

You don't hear me anyway. He drops it like a challenge, lead weight on my bare knees, grinding my stilettos into the turkish rug on the living room floor and I'm pinned by his verbal expectations suddenly, brutally. That face that I've known my whole life contracted in vexation. He rarely looks any other way anymore. Lochlan is settling into a frame of mind as life goes on that really surprises me.

And we're supposed to leave for church soon. Penance on Sunday mornings prior to leaving is to play Mistakes and Changes and then I have something to sooth my brainwaves while I listen to Sam's words and give Ruth the Eye of Doom when she starts whispering really loud to Lochlan about something random.

I hear you, I finally said. I hear every word you've ever said. I smooth the front of my dress absently and the tears begin, and the fluttering hands, because teenagers are so mature, and the salt from them dissolves the weight he dropped on my lap and I'm suddenly light and graceless once more. I check my watch and the mother of pearl dial tells me we're running out of time to do this shit first thing on a Sunday morning when all of our friends are waiting for us.
No, I don't feel a thing
Life is going by me
And still I say, oh god
I'm making the same mistakes
He reaches out with one hand to try and hold on to me, suddenly overcome with the regret I wish he would have unloaded twenty-four years ago so I don't have to live within it now and I walk right out of his embrace.

Come on, Lochlan, we're going to be late.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Lochlan's back. Next time he has strict instructions to bring the sun with him.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Eight dollars and sixty cents, plus tip.

That's how much I permitted myself to indulge, apparently.

I seem to be incapable of spoiling myself. The plan was, after a long week celebrating Ruth's birthday, the hastened death of summer proper and the whole chaos of back-to-school, that I would treat myself to an afternoon of shopping and lunch and all kinds of solitary expression. I cleared the boys out of my hair (the few still in town, I mean) and struck groceries and laundry and dog walking off my list before lunch. After they returned to school, I hopped in my car and took off.

And came home empty-handed.

I was standing in Sephora holding an Urban Decay lip gloss and decided rather suddenly that I didn't want to pay $22 for it. So I went around to the next aisle and found the Sephora line and decided I didn't want to pay $14 for that. Went to the home store and found one valance that I liked for the kitchen but didn't love it enough to buy it. Ditto the new bath mat or the juice glasses that were lovely, vintagey-looking. I am down to three of the small glasses in the cupboard, so it's time, I just hit the wall of self-sacrifice that prohibits me from spending a dime. I've been poor. So very poor. The post-traumatic stress of that must run deeper than I ever seem to realize.

Maybe I need therapy.

Are you done laughing?

I decided I would get a new coat, then. Fuck this miserly nonsense! No one had what I was looking for and I found out my favorite dress store closed down. You would think they would have called me. I think I was their best customer.

I resorted to texting the boys to see if they wanted or needed things. They were all busy.

Huh.

Not really very good at this, am I?

I supposed I could have gotten a coffee and milled about for a while, checking out clothes and new perfumes. But I had just gone to lunch before my shopping trip, something I did manage to pull off without guilt or trauma, and I wasn't in the mood for anything else, really. Maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll spend $4 for a single cup of coffee and enjoy the hell out of it. I can justify food, just not stuff, I guess. I'm not very sentimental about things, but you know that already. You've been with me for a while here, as I go through the ups and downs.

I'm going to chaulk a weird, tired week up to absences, change and the goddamned night train. If you've ever heard it you'll know exactly what I mean. The lack of sleep clouds absolutely everything.

Oh. That's it!

Sleep. I would buy sleep. Too bad no one has any in my size.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Unitarian taskmasters and really old heavy metal.

I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
Turned my whole world upside down.
Break time. I'm in the midst of eating a bowl of fresh chunks of pineapple and melon and am halfway through the first water thermos of the day. I'm horrifying the workers here at the church playing secular power ballads at top volume. They keep looking to Sam for salvation and they aren't getting any. I had no idea he would know all the words to Layla and to Lost in the Ozone, even.

Gives Lemmy a run for his money, I tell you.


He recruited me after a miserable phone call brought him to my kitchen just after midnight, fresh off a round of exhausting hospice and in no mood for me. He took off his jacket and hung it in the hallway and proceeded to make us some toast (toast, Sam) while he regaled me with all the things I could be doing instead of wallowing and being difficult.

I wasn't difficult. He was just sad that he had to deal with someone who could talk back. It's okay, I told him that to his face and he laughed briefly and told me I was sad. I nodded.

I am sad, sometimes. We wound up sitting on the floor against the kitchen cupboards eating antipasto on crackers until almost four am and then he walked me upstairs, checked the kids and said that I had to sleep because he would be back in two hours to wake me up so I could work for him today.

Nice.

I'm not much good here. Lucky for me there's a huge new coffeemaker here. I plan to drink all of it in between the waterboarding. I plan to get a lot of hugs too. And the next time Ben, PJ, Andrew and Lochlan all plan their departures for the same day? I...well, I don't know what I'll do.

I guess I'll hang out here.

With God and his best bud, Sam. Who can exist on absolutely no sleep. Perhaps he's the vampire in the room and it isn't me. After all, he's turning out to be an incredibly proficient Motorhead fan, there must be all sorts of other surprises under that thick skin of his.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Figment of my own imagination.

I'm not me today. I don't know how I am but I always feel just a little bit lost when the children go back to school. I had planned to take the day easy, to spoil myself just a little bit. A manicure, maybe some shopping. Coffee or lunch out. But I couldn't do it because I figured I was alone for the first time in a couple of months I should probably get some things done, so I did those things, and I accomplished as much in one day as I was averaging per week so I feel pretty good and I may just give myself a manicure now with an hour to spare and then I'll be all set.

For those who wanted a coffee update I am holding steady at 16 ounces a day, twelve on weekends. The narcolepsy isn't so bad and the quality of my sleep seems to be improving. Our bed is six inches higher now. I may need a ladder to get in soon. I cannot reach down and pet the dog on the floor and if you remember the minimalist me of high school and university I always eschewed beds proper for a mattress on the floor. Even Cole and I had our mattress set on the floor. Now it's almost at waist level. I feel like I sleep in Gulliver's bed. Fee-fi-fo-fum.

New to the equation that is life is eighty ounces of water a day. Yes, I said eighty. Ounces. I am mad, aren't I? It's easier to pull off than I thought and the benefits are immediately obvious. Dumb health issues seem to be evaporating (Or maybe I have drowned them) and I am almost good with not having to pee every fifteen minutes. I'm up to twenty-five minutes. Haha. This will make everything better and has the added bonus of killing my appetite ten times over. Possibly into the future, even.

The children like their classes and mates, that was a worry I can put to rest now. Check.

Dog is down to five walks a day and doing great. For a while there I beat a steady path out the back door and down into my perennial garden where he would pee and then thirty minutes later we would do it all again. He's just like me except possibly I look much cuter on the end of a leash.

Oh, for heaven's sake. Lighten up.

Ben goes back after dinner tonight. With those empty promises in hand and more distractions and pressure than ever and he's fine with all of it. I'm hoping it doesn't take another milestone to get him home again because he is terrible with giving me his schedule, when I have everyone elses', collected as they scrawl with a half-empty black papermate pen into the dayplanner we use, writing with the dusty bumper of the van as a hard surface while I stand on the gravel on the shoulder of the highway and they always take my face in their hands and kiss me on the lips and tell me they will call often and miss me tons and they'll be back in exactly x-number of days and my hair is blowing all around my face and the dust is oppressive. I've got the dayplanner clutched against my chest as I wave until I can't see the van anymore. Dust mixed with tears makes a mess and I always come home and stick my face in a basin full of icy-cold water and promise myself I will mack on the ones who are here until they go and by then someone else will be home again.

I always hope it's Ben, but it never is. He goes the furthest, and stays the longest and it's the hardest.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Waiting for Indian Summer.

And I will find you although I wonder
If I will climb through this rock I'm under

I'm turning the page for something new
I'm finding my way through life in bloom
These hairpins are digging in to my neck.

I opted for a low chignon today, fastening my sterling hairpins just so, and forgetting I should give them a little twist to keep them in now that my hair is shorter than it used to be, now just dusting against my collarbone again instead of almost to the waist which is when these pins really come in handy. I can pick locks with these ones as well. Well, I could if I needed to, I mean. I really should have worn the pins with the poppies instead.

Next time I plan to cut my hair to my chin, hold me down so I can't get to the hairdresser. It's been over a year, I still have regrets.

This is the final day the children are home before they begin school. We're having hurricane-like weather with bright skies, wind coming from every direction and episodes of torrential rains. It's kind of sad that their last day wasn't nice enough to go for a long walk and play outside in the sun but it just didn't seem to be that kind of summer, with only a handful of days with which to soak up the warmth and squint our eyes tight against the blazing sun.

Oddly, fall is still my favorite season. An endless autumn would be the perfect match for your Bridget but it always has to rot, degenerating into winter without so much as a backward glance. Turning cold, just like I do.

I have paid for the tree-banding and the school supplies. We've packed their gym gear and snacks. We've brought down the hanging baskets and brought out the mitten basket. The gardens seem to be in final bloom and some plants have already gone into dormancy. The garden tools have been cleaned and put away and most of the heavy fall cleaning has been done now, thanks to a magnificent effort yesterday to rearrange the entire ground floor of the house to make it more liveable and people-friendly and get rid of several large items that no one had sentimental attachment to, namely, Bridget. It took hours, but it's finished and with it I have a fresh outlook going into the next season.

It's inevitable. Fall comes, then winter comes. The children begin grades 5 and 3 in spite of the fact that I'm going to miss them dearly. My days are my own again to keep up with chores, errands, work and the care of fragile miss b. In the rare moments when there's no one around I'll have the dog to talk to. We'll walk out by the tracks again like I used to do with Butterfield and I'll let my head off leash, marinating in the isolation of train whistle while the dog trots along with a stick in his mouth like a prize. The house will always be clean, I'll have less guilt because the kids will be too tired to be bored for another ten months and more worry because they are just big enough to walk together but alone to and from the schoolyard, something that has me checking for them down the sidewalk for several heartstopping moments twice a day as I wait for them to come home for lunch and then home again in the afternoon.

I'm getting used to it. This will be the fourth year for us, and it's been beneficial in the way that homeschooling never would been to introduce them to the actual abrupt and exciting roller coaster that life is. I haven't gotten used to it yet. It always takes a few weeks of change for change to sink in for me. It takes a few precious days of not doing much of anything to get to know myself again and how I function with everyone away and busy.

It'll be okay.

That's what everyone keeps telling me. I hope they're right.

The external fall preparations are complete, excepting anything that will be affected by Indian Summer which had better serve to redeem the entire year all by itself. Now it's time for the internal preparations. Somehow not everything gets done. I do what I can though. I work hard at it. I have my hair put up so it's off my neck when things heat up and I'm ready for just about anything.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Waylander and the devil.

A restoration, absolution dinner invitation was made and accepted. A simple yes thrown out because Ben was home and the devil was anxious to look over his pawns, inspect them for wear or damage and re-roast them in flames of regret before sending them off to endure a little more of the world outside of hell.

When we arrived we were let in by one of the staff, ostensibly helping out with final preparations or perhaps working on a Friday night because people do that nowadays, especially when their employers have just flown in and decided to have a late engagement and needed some things done on a timely basis. She told us Mr. C was still preparing and would we like a drink? Ben said he would look after it and after enquiring as to my well-being she asked if we needed anything else and I told her to go home, to have a lovely weekend. I'm not sure if she wondered if I could actually do that in Caleb's absence but she looked somewhat relieved and happy to escape a bit early. We can carry our own plates in from the kitchen. I do it three times a day at home.

I walked down into the living room and straight out to the balcony where a table was set for three. Black roses in the centre made me stop and catch my breath. Black. It's so rare to see them in real life, I always stop and admire them when I do. It doesn't matter if they are real or manufactured, they're just beautiful. All rose colors are beautiful but black ones just resonate that much louder to me.

I exclaimed rather sweetly, excited to see them and bent forward to stick my face into the closest bloom.

This is how you say hello?

Caleb was standing in the doorway. He shot a cuff and checked his watch. The new Breitling that someday I will pry off his wrist and wear forever even though it's very large and will provide me with all the gravity I will ever need. If I'm not mistaken I'll guess my initials are already carved into the back with the rest of his family as his good luck charm. BRC. Because he still refuses to indulge in any subsequent last names I take on.

You're early.

By moments, only. Traffic was light for a Friday night.

Punctuality is one of your charms, princess. Where is your pet?

He's getting us a drink from your kitchen. You would have passed him to get here.

Touche.

The roses are beautiful.

I'd like you to take them with you when you leave in the morning.

Ben appeared just then, holding two tumblers of ice and cranberry juice. Caleb thanked him for accepting the invitation on such short notice and asked about work and Ben talked a little of some reorganization they had gone through lately and some pre-predictions for numbers based on a Christmas release (an industry kiss of death, no less) and one Benjamin doesn't really care about at this point. He told Caleb that he has concrete plans to switch gears in the near future and things will be vastly different a year from now. I listened and worked to keep my expression neutral while Caleb watched me fail. I didn't know any of this. We had talked about things before, at length and I had asked Ben not to give up a damned thing. That he needs it.

I think they both sensed that I was become vaguely agitated by all the business- and future-talk and quickly brought the subject back to me. Where it belongs. Compliments on my hair, my skin tone of all things, still the alabaster pearl-white after an attempt to turn myself pink at the beach resulted in the massive loss of the color from my flesh within a week. They both seem to like me pale. I was annoyed so I asked Caleb if he had spoken to PJ and he said that he would leave PJ alone because here I was and it was the verbal confirmation I was seeking that no matter what happened this evening, he wasn't going to fuck with PJ's heart even though he succeeded in proving that he can fuck with anyone at any time, if he so chooses.

If I do not cooperate.

Oh, but I am. I'm sitting here on this beautiful balcony, framed in black roses and cool and lovely in the little black slip dress with the embroidery he requested and the shoes that have tiny highest heels that catch in the pattern on the iron balcony floor and so I walk on my toes a little. I twisted my hair into a low knot but let a wealth of tendrils down because that's how he likes it and I'm hoping against hope that tonight he doesn't poison my food because that's not in the rules.

Do you think I give him a hard time? Have you met Satan?

Oh, but Satan has made a history out of underestimating Ben and I together and that is what saves this to grace from certain unrecoverable debt. And that is what leaves me squarely in the crosshairs between Satan and my boys. PJ can protect himself. He shouldn't have to.

I don't put anything past Caleb, and yet I struggle with doubt when he tries to please me. I wore my best charm and I thanked him for his thoughtfulness and then as if on freaking cue, the servers I didn't see arrive advanced with our first course.

The pattern goes like this, without deviation: I eat, and listen well, because I hear so poorly, and take very small bites and even smaller sips and express appropriate interest for the topics at hand. The men talk. They eat with their hands. They ask me for my thoughts. And they watch me. I'm not sure if it's still the fascination in kind or merely because inevitably one's eyes will be drawn to the brightest subject nearby but they seem to take turns losing their focus in gazing at me. I feel like a human buffet or a delicate and rare artifact to be admired and touched (if you dare). I feel like meat sometimes and sometimes I feel like I must be the most special person alive.

I don't remember what we had for dinner. I do remember everything afterward, including leaving the half-begun raspberry truffle cake for a move to the balcony railing where Caleb pointed out the latest construction on the museum and several constellations I couldn't recognize if I tried. He and Ben remarked on the first geese migrations we saw earlier in the day. Pleasance to a fault. Charm to a bitter, inevitable end.

Caleb murmured to one of the servers that it would be fine if they would clear the table and take their leave and we retired to the living room with coffee and some pastries that remained untouched. As usual it would have been too much.

With Caleb everything is too much.

We talked about the children and their upcoming schedules for school, swimming and friends. We talked about Cole, for a time, and about my plans for writing over the fall. We didn't speak again of Ben's decisions for his night job nor did we touch on the expectations Caleb held for his return on leaving my boys alone. We never do. We don't have to say the words, they are simply there. He exploits me and I don't like it. I may like him but I hold a monstrously fearful disdain for the appetites he brings to our encounters. He thinks he is spending Cole's legacy but I still believe Cole would have been horrified.

Ben is never horrified, Ben has seen it all. Ben does it all. And if I can put some beauty on the horror that is Ben's life and extract some of his own worst cravings in the process to give him some peace of mind then I'll do what I can and live long enough to be able to block out the rest before I fall asleep at night. In a way it's a succinct and total distraction from missing Cole and needing Jake. In a way it's a fitting end to a game I have played too long, winning round after round knowing that soon the piper would come over the hill or around the bend and I would be the one paying him. In a way it's a need that I would never speak of out loud that I found a way to fill, with just a little thrill and sickness mixed in to make it something that doesn't occur very often.

In a way, my life is bespoke, designed and tailored to fit me and only me and those who can't stand to be apart from me. I don't deign to discuss it with those who wouldn't understand. Those who won't expand their minds to understand that everything is not as it appears and it won't conform to your ideals nor fail to insult your own good graces.

I brought my roses home. I earned them with good behavior. It was still dark outside and not even far into the next day as Satan predicted it would be. Because sleeping in his presence? That's something even I won't do.

And I will do almost anything.

Almost.

Don't assume.

Fine, assume away. I don't care.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Lists.

I like grapefruit or orange juice with handfuls of ice cubes. I like old VWs and new Bugattis. I have a traveler's heart but the head of a tree stump and will hardly move unless you light me on fire. I like handbags. Big bags mainly so I can carry lots of things. Like a pear and a good book and my library card and the one for Mountain equipment, too and sometimes a sweater, but only if it's cool. Every pocket also contains a bobby pin, sometimes two, and you'll find two or three more in my hair if you look hard enough.

I don't like shoes but I have a few pairs that stand out. Shoes with skulls or angels and cowboy boots in unconventional colors.

I like the inside of my brain and have never said out loud that I was bored. Ever. I can go anywhere inside my head, with no fear of the unknown. If it's unknown I can simply reimagine it to be perfect. I love wooden hair brushes and men in white button-down shirts and I like cotton candy. I love the thrill rides at the fair but only at sundown and I will never jump out of plane again because I figure I have already beaten the odds by surviving the first jump. I like pasta al dente and trying new foods and surprise get-togethers. I love growing ivy in my north-facing kitchen window and I love bath bombs from Lush, the sex bomb the most. I've been in love with Brigitte Bardot since I first laid eyes on her and Naomi Watts too. I get crushes on some unlikely fellows as well but the list is too long and you would proclaim I am bored and move on to someone else's words. Let's just say some of them might surprise you and others will downright scare you. I don't care what they've done, be good now. I don't judge people except based on how they treat me.

I love music. Not all music. I'm not prone to fits of ecstasy over country music, pop, or slow chamber orchestras, but if it's loud and qualifies as any kind of metal I am there with bells on. I can bang my head in the car at stoplights or dance under my seatbelt and make people smile. I'll wave because I don't care. I wish I could get real fruit juice in my slurpee and I wish bubble tea came without bubbles. I like pocky sticks and red strings and drawings of the hand of fatima because I think the hand means stop! You will have good luck from here on out. I'm superstitious and I carry a rabbit's foot everywhere I go. A St.Christopher's medal and an evil eye too. A keychain that says Princess. That's me.

I like farms, I like the smell, the work and the taste of vegetables fresh from the garden. I like old telephones and having to walk to the post office and the bed that everyone falls into the middle of and the wood-burning kitchen stove. I like the animals though they are always bigger than me and I liked the noise from the sawmill nearby because it meant everything was right with the world. I liked daylight there. Crickets make me terribly sad so let's focus on sunflowers which do not.

I can boil the perfect four-minute egg. The yolk is soft and moist and a rich yellow. I can also bake a banana bread that won't last twenty-four hours and I have had five difference cellphones in the past three years because if it lights up and fits in my hand I'm happier than if you give me diamonds.

I could live out of a backpack. The simpler things in life drawn me in. Hanging laundry to dry. Cooking raw. Drawing. Reading a book by candlelight. Music played around the living room or the dining room table. Smiling. If you see me out you would think I'm a fool because I wear a smile and I ask people how they are, because I used to be a scowling-troll and now I don't see the point in not Making Contact. I don't waste a lot of precious time on self-help or on risking my life when I feel like, here at halfway through, a quiet existence forgotten in a city of hundreds of thousands of people is possibly where I belong but I will always be somewhere else, someone else, inside my head.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Dumb domestic things that make me happy.

Household tip #3475853477, but not from me, for I just figured this one out today.

Fold a matching fitted and flat sheet together, place pillowcase on top, store inside the second pillowcase. Three sets per bed if you're listing toward extravagant, otherwise two sets per child, one on the bed. I would go the hardcore minimalist route and just wash and return the same sheets to the bed and only have one set per, but every now and then the puke fairy will visit and remind me that I need extra sheets.

Now my cedar chest is organized and I don't have to unfurl fifteen sheets before I find the ones that fit a big bed versus a twin.

Okay so you all do it already and I'm slow. I realize this.

Extras? Dropsheets, baby. I am the messiest painter alive.

Because every freak show has one.

I'm the voice inside of you, that says there's nothing you can't do.
If you could open up your eyes and lay your heart out on the line.
I'm the voice inside your head, that brings your mind back from the dead.
I hope that I have served you right, even if only for one night.
After twelve days away, Ben arrived home just as I was beginning the final head count in preparations to begin dinner. Ruth may enjoy the company of adults more than children, but that didn't mean she didn't choose homemade macaroni and cheese as her birthday dinner of choice. Or that I didn't cry into the roux, since I've never made a roux before and when you're cooking from scratch for twenty-six people, you really need to concentrate and I almost fled the kitchen when Ben walked into it, unannounced. Backpack. Messy hair. Flight clothes. Beard. Cigarettes. That grin. A huge gift bag for Ruth even though we had already shopped for her presents weeks ago.

I know, I said beard.

Couldn't take my eyes off him all evening. He looks so strange with it. Like a wild man. Undomesticated. Feral. I love it. Seriously. He grows a beard so very rarely. It was a sound distraction from the whole twelve days of spare to no communication with not a single inkling that he would arrive in time for the big day yesterday. I wanted to yell at him or shove him out the back door and slam it shut or give him the silent treatment.

I didn't.

I waited until the evening was complete, the children were in bed and every last dish was washed and I pointed out his communication skills sucked big time. I know he's not used to being accountable to anyone but you give up those kinds of attitudes when you get married and furthermore, when you have stepchildren with hearts and minds far more fragile than yours are. Just because children are resilient doesn't mean you can blow them off indefinitely. (And just because things change doesn't mean people change, Bridget.)
I'm not religious or fanatical, but I'm a motherfucking miracle
You knock me down and I get up again.
So hit the lights out and let the show begin.
After breakfast this morning he took off. To get a haircut and a shave. And when he comes home I know he'll look like Ben. He'll feel like Ben. And surely enough, he'll act like Ben.

Lochlan pointed out we were both doing what we do best. Ben disappears in an effort to force concern in everyone so that he can have that reassurance that we care about him even when he's away, and Bridget becomes the martyr, figuring that the world has gone to hell in a handbasket and that no one must care at all. Ben's ego strokes take all of the energy from my efforts at independence and unrequited happiness and that's something we are working on. Very hard.

In between kissing.

Sorry but DAMN. That beard is so awesome but gone by now, I'm sure. Very late last night he kissed me in the shower, and I said that kissing a wet beard is probably one of my favorite things on earth. He smiled and said it probably felt just like when he kisses one very specific part of me. I promise I did throw the shampoo at him, and I connected squarely on the chin. Problem is the beard deflected the contact and we deemed beards to be facial force-fields that protect their wearers from harm.

Maybe he should have left it alone.

And maybe I should grow a beard.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Beautiful Girl.

Today is Ruth's tenth birthday.

There is swimming to be enjoyed and books to be considered at the library, balloons to admire and then explode, cake to consume by the spoonload and presents, which I may need a forklift for, there are so many. There are also guests coming for dinner. Twenty-three of them, as a matter of fact. My child didn't want a birthday party with her peers. She just wanted all the people she loves around the same table treating her like a princess.

Sounds like someone else we know, doesn't it?

Well, that's not quite accurate. See, Ruth is her own person. She's got self-esteem and confidence and presence. She knows what she likes, she knows the difference between right and wrong, and she'll say what's on her mind with very little prompting. She's a really, really amazing girl. I can't say little any more, can I? She'd be annoyed by that, because she's not in the single digits anymore, mom.

Oh, I know, sweetheart. I just can't believe it. It happened so fast.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Alternative egos.

Last night was our newly-minted Thai Tuesday, which was demoted quickly from a weekly plan to the first Tuesday of every month instead. And will probably end more quickly then that because..well, we'll be spending all of our Tuesday nights at the rec centre from now until Christmas. Thai Wednesday doesn't have the same ring to it, but the children must continue their swimming lessons while Bridget does her best to stay out of the deep end.

Bridget's not a great swimmer, and Lochlan has stories up the wazoo about how he would have to swim beside me as I struggled out to the diving platform at the lake. Or how he would always just instruct me to stay in the shoulder-deep water at the beach and not go over my head, while he proceeded to swim to the Bay of Biscay, or so it seemed.

My deep end in this case is proverbial so no one has to worry so much about the actual water part.

Over pad thai and chopsticks last evening we all discussed the ominous silence from hell (in code because the kids kept up a running commentary on seventy other topics of note at the same time. We're a talented bunch, what can I say?) Satan's failure at swift and devastating punishment for being stood up Saturday night has been noticed. I'm sure he's just plotting something wonderful for me to be exacted at a later date. But more likely he's gone after Ben.

How do I know if I haven't spoken with him?

Exactly for that reason. I haven't spoken with him. Or Ben, for that matter. Dead silence from both sides means it's probably too late. Maybe all of it's too late. Maybe Ben's spies reported too much, as I haven't let go of Lochlan's hand in forever because I'm afraid if I do I'll get forgotten or thrown off the face of the earth when it spins. The collective argument is that Ben has to look after himself and I have to look after myself, instead of waiting, worrying and watching over everyone else. I thought I had been selfish long enough but they've been quick to point out I'm not selfish enough.

Oh.

I'm quietly panicking over here in my corner of the world, with these innuendos and mixed messages and boy-buffets and hurt feelings and killer wagons and silent phones. Ruth's birthday is tomorrow, for heaven's sake. Why hasn't he called? Will he ever call? Does holding Lochlan's hand endlessly or sleeping in the oppressive heat that he creates spell the end of something Ben already asked me to end when he left because he thinks these separations are far too much for me to manage? I said not a chance and he asked me to use what I had available to feel better then, while he's gone, because that's the deal I got when the ghosts came to stay, and we can fight about it later if he ever comes home. So I use Lochlan. Just like he uses me. I don't feel better. I'm sure he does but he's also all I have right now, isn't he?

I don't understand any of this.

I looked at Lochlan and asked him what I should do. He kissed my forehead and squeezed my hand.

Stay here, Bridgie. And don't go where the water will be over your head.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Fact: Paint it Black is the only Stones song I enjoy.

In the kitchen all that remains is to touch up the ceiling a little, scrape and paint all the trim a durable, easy to scrub white and then sand the walls down around the stove and extend the back splash from the sink all the way over around the stove to the door. I think that will work.

I love this color. It's a warm yellow-orange. Exactly the color of pumpkin guts! it sounds terrible but it looks terrific, I promise. And everything is washed up already because there's only one full wall in the whole room, the rest is broken up by cupboards, windows, sinks, doors, heating grates, etc. So we can paint the whole room three times over and still have two-thirds of a gallon left, or whatever measurement this can is, I can't tell, it's completely covered with paint.

I like having the new paint be a warm, bright color. I'm so predisposed to dark colors and cool unfriendly greens and blues that this is a complete anomaly.

Rest assured, I haven't lost my mind completely. I'm still going to make all the outside doors, heating grates and outside and basement steps black. The main and back staircases are varnished wood, I'll never touch those as long as I'm here. But black is okay, because it's the color of charred pumpkin guts.

Equally cool.