Tuesday, 30 November 2010


This is pretty nice. I have a very large collection of seaglass now. Early on my plan was to divide it up, one Atlantic collection and one Pacific but in the end I combined it. I expected the glass here to look different somehow, the same way the lobsters do, the way the sand is different and the color of the sea, but the glass is the same. I think I would rather make my own wreath instead of buying an L.L. Bean-branded version, albeit with a lot of work involved. It feels sacrilegious somehow, as if something you can get for nothing save for a bit of time poking in the surf should never come with a price tag attached.

This is presently stuck in my head (dear God). The cheesy pretend-goth schtick is cute and all but she can actually sing, and she doesn't sound like an Avril Lavigne clone. Score one for the sad panda. What a great voice, even though she never lets go. Reminds me of Ann Wilson, oddly enough.

Tomorrow the children break out their pricey 2010 Advent calendars (courtesy of Caleb this year). They have been talking about them every day this week. Not sure if it's the German chocolate after breakfast aspect or the countdown to Christmas that excites them, the answer changes by the hour. Should you wish to enjoy one (without the chocolate, mind you) there is a neat one here.

I am currently obsessed with LED string lights. Fitting, since the holidays are here. The offset for the higher cost is that they last longer, use less electricity but best of all, they never heat up. You can leave them on all the time. That is pretty cool when you have a big house and you get up during the night but don't want to turn on hallway lights OR break your neck. My favorites are the fairy lights, teeny-tiny tips that are so pretty. They remind me of my Lite-Brite machine.

Boy, have those ever changed. Sorry I even looked.

This isn't bothering me yet. In spite of changing my stockings several times a day because I cannot stand the feeling of wet feet and wearing waterproof mascara every day now instead of only on days that end in -swim (which I can't ever get off completely, speaking of sad pandas), the rain is comforting somehow and FAR less claustrophobic than snow. Keep your snow and sun and I will keep the cozy, endless rain. Rain at the beach or when you are sleeping is the most romantic thing ever. I'll take it, gladly.

Besides, rain means warm. I like being warm.

More later as I can manage, since I do have an actual post to write. Don't you love my title? I wanted to write Panda-monium but I just couldn't do it. Haha.

Lastly, the children are home today for a non-instructional school day. Which means lots of noise and video games. Pretty much like when the boys are home only they eat slightly less.

Slightly, I said. They are getting so big.


Monday, 29 November 2010

Allergic reactions.

I am having such a productive and upbeat, crazy sort of day that I really don't want to talk about Caleb vesus Lochlan right this second.

Would it be so bad if I didn't? Good. It's one of the palls that casts such a deep shadow over my life that I am on vitamin D supplements over it. Except for today. Today I'm in the light, baby. I am chipping away at errands and chores and getting used to the freaking CAR culture here (aka Bridget has to drive EVERYWHERE now). Saw two more fender bumpers and a major accident this morning. They have boulevards with nice rounded edges in town so if you hit one it causes you to go airborne into the opposite lane. Nice isn't it? What can I say, instead of a neverending stream of cursing and fear mongering I think I'm just going to go with finding everyone here VERY enthusiastic about getting where they are going!

Otherwise I might go mad.

What's that?

(I can't hear you).

La la la.

Anyway, I have Christmas almost done. Which is handy. The remaining list is ridiculously short and for once it seems manageable. So there! Take that, world. Yesterday Ben was up and down the ladder twenty-billion times (calling me the Light Nazi under his breath because this was a total do-over) while I alternately handed up hammers and staple guns and Christmas-light strings and our house possibly looks like one from a magazine right now.

Fuck you if you say Polygamy Today.

I was thinking more along the lines of Architectural Digest.

(Oh, and now would be a GREAT time to ask you not to send any more links and notes telling me how lucky I am, because Canada will soon be the first developed nation to legalize plural marriage. Because, well, just don't.)

Ben is nightmarishly occupied again. But at least he's here and at the end of the day he holds out his arms and I am pulled into them and there I remain through the dark. Currently the concrete room is off limits, because I can't get to it from Ben and right now that's good.

Small blessings. Or very large ones, depending on which ones you mean.

Now do I really need to play $60 for a cast-iron tree stand? Because we had one and it's gone. It was in a box with several blankets, a plunger, a lava-lamp and most of my pots and pans. It never made it here, oddly enough. I counted three times and the box is accounted for but not present.
But instead of finding that disappointing, let's just say I hope the family who got that box (from AMJ Campbell van lines somewhere between March and May if you're the ones) really enjoy the bizarre, unrelated contents. What can I say, by March I was a little bit DONE with moving and had resorted to tossing things in boxes quite randomly.

But look, here are the hives on my flesh now, the ones that break out whenever anyone mentions moving, or life changes, or car accidents, or polygamy. So I will stop here for the day and go get busy on life instead. See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The summer of 1981. (Part One because I am short on time today)

Lochlan was not a happy camper Saturday morning. To find Caleb in the guest room and then at the breakfast table set him on edge and made his words clipped and his affection short and dry. He just closes up shop and endures. And yet he's gracious, offering the newspaper before he's read it (no one read it in the end), asking Cale if he needed a coffee refill when I was otherwise engaged cleaning Ben's glasses for him because he does an awful job and then complains about it.

Once Caleb left after lunch I got to work on thawing Lochlan out.

This goes back thirty years, their intense competition and dislike of each other. Cole forged such incredibly close friendships when most of Caleb's high school friends seemed to run off and join the navy. He did not. He knew from birth that he wanted to be rich and nothing less would do. The best way to do that was to get his law degree first so no one would ever be able to fuck him over ever. Lochlan took Caleb's place as Cole's brother, in spirit. They did everything together. Caleb became the big brother removed, the driver, a third parent, a voice of responsibility when Cole and Lochlan were busy learning independence and chasing teenaged thrills.

And girls. Let's not forget the girls. I think Lochlan managed to steal a half-dozen girlfriends out from under Caleb by virtue of his exotic charm and his ridiculously tousled strawberry curls. He also went away to work for weeks at a time and the mystery of that was a huge draw. He was freewheeling and popular.

He had no curfew. For a fifteen-year-old, that was big.

Everyone was looking for a good time, where Caleb grew up early, financially stable at seventeen, with goals, decorum and charisma. He was chivalry defined, but no one appreciates that when you're in high school. He was too serious and too focused.

After the damage had been done, Lochlan proved to be a little too freewheeling for most of those girls. He didn't care if they were happy or comfortable. He didn't care if they were present. He didn't care what they wanted to do. He would make plans with the boys and if a girl showed up, cool, if not, whatever. This frustrated Caleb even more, because now Lochlan was just throwing away the very thing Caleb wanted and couldn't keep.

And then I came along.

Suddenly all eyes were focused on Lochlan and he rose to the challenge. Suddenly there's this stupid ten-year-old following him everywhere but at least she's not eight anymore and as long as she promises to stay with him she's allowed out later and what a pain in the ass but she's sorta pretty too and not as annoying as she used to be and Lochlan could talk to her and he did. Maybe he needed someone to look after who needed to be looked after instead of a gaggle of girls bound for college. Yes, let's just go the other way and pick someone in elementary school.

Only it wasn't romantic. In the least. So stop that.

Besides. I had a crush on Caleb. Actually I had a crush on just about everyone back then because I had read Bailey's copy of The Outsiders and I likened the boys to the characters in the book. I romanticized everything because I had just discovered that boys and girls could be in love and maybe I would be too some day but for now I really wanted to spend time with the boys because they were out doing things and having adventures and going to the beach and to the lake and all the ten-year-old girls I knew I had abandoned two years early when I wanted to live in the woods by the bridge over the little stream up the path between the end of my street and the baseball field. The path was big enough for three bikes across sometimes and sometimes you had to walk single file. It was always full of mud. The girls my age did not want to get dirty, they wanted to stay inside and play Pool Barbie.

Caleb was Dallas from the depths of S.E. Hinton's mind. The oldest and most mysterious. But Lochlan was Ponyboy. He paid attention to me and I liked it. I liked it an awful lot.

The war had begun.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Despicable me.

(Sometimes we get along really well, you see.)

Being able to have breakfast with the children is something both they and Caleb find to be an incredible treat. It usually only happens when he takes them to the East Coast during summer break or on nights when they stay with him and stay up too late watching movies and eating gourmet popcorn instead of regular.

They pointed out he would have had to have woken up very early on a Saturday to get ready and drive up the coast from downtown to see us.

Yes, I suppose he would have.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Hook and loop.

Another night, another staggering proclamation. He is full of them now. Full of sweetness. Full of romance. Quick to fill in the gaps or the pause where everyone else is otherwise occupied. Full of absolutely devastating want and it stings like someone has peeled all of my skin off and thrown me onto a bed of salt. I would scream but the pain is so goddamned dull now it's become a part of me. A part of me that weighs a ton and I drag it everywhere I go, unable to properly breathe or move. This isn't fair.

Exactly what he says.

We are matching fingers. Watching the fire. Hands laced together, pressing fingerprints and then letting go. It's like counting into a mirror and having your reflection help you with the higher numbers. It's like a strange sort of residual magic that comes from someplace deep-seated and far away and lost forever.

There is nothing resolved here. We've been fortunate and we've been selfish and we've been lucky. What we haven't been is honest. I know the answers I'm seeking already. I know the reasons and I understand the doubts. I understand him better than I have understood anyone in my life and still sometimes I'm stunned by how fast he spirals out and how efficiently he can do it and get right back up and keep going. Only I know underneath it all he is eroding, albeit slower and more privately than most. It doesn't make things any less difficult. It doesn't make things any less important. And I think it would help if we were able to acknowledge when he begins to crumble instead of sneering at his endless perfection in our jealousy, because we all wear our hearts on our sleeves, bleeding, dripping down off the hems, and pooling on the floor and yet he seems to keep his in a cage, allowed out for rare fresh air, and otherwise locked up tight.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

We have the same conversation four times a week.


Hi, PJ. What's up?

Are you going to be home tonight?

I'll be home until the snow melts, PJ. It's terrifying out there.



Thought I might stop by..

Sure? Whenever? What's up?

What's a good time?


Yes, Bridge?

Want to come for dinner?

Thought you'd never ask.


Yes, ma'am. Through and through.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

This is not for you, because you don't deserve it.

Mourning came a little early today
Woke me up when I wasn't ready
Creeping, in through the window I guess
It came in quiet while I was sleeping
I'm dreaming my way through the rain today
I couldn't help but notice the leaves. Hundreds of them, frozen stiff and metallic, blowing around me as I ran down the corridor away from the faded evening moon. They cast everything in a cold deserted light. I hurried along, frozen to the bone, joints aching, heart bulging against the black stitches that hold it together. The door seemed easier this time. Recently oiled. A stark contrast to the neglected tunnels and steps I had navigated in the half light to get here without breaking my neck.

The crunch of my footsteps in all these leaves is enough to wake Jacob.

I spin the handle and open the door. He is sitting in the chair. Not awake. I cock my head in surprise. The deep hollows under his eyes are more pronounced now, sunken in. He is pale. His fingers are so nimble and fragile looking. His clothing is rumpled, wings folded against the back of the chair as if he has been there forever.

Waiting for me, though he has told me all my life without him not to come.

I step through and hear muffled flapping coming from somewhere. My ears don't do echo location any more and I know Cole is somewhere in the rafters, beyond where the light will reach. I need to ignore him right now. This is important.

I am walking softly in my platform buckle shoes in order not to startle Jacob. I'm not actually sure if I can startle someone who can see everything the way he can but I'm kind nevertheless. Abruptly he looks up and I am the one who is startled again. There's no light in the blue, his eyes are drawn and tired. Shielded. Voided, maybe. I don't even know. I'm having trouble knowing what to say first.

I don't have to worry about that for very long.

You're here.

Of course I'm here. Where else would I be?

I thought maybe you were done and you forgot to let me go.

No. I didn't and I'm not besides. What happened?

I just..wait. I wait for you. I get to see heaven when you're here. When you're not here this remains the one place where it isn't really anything. Not good or bad, just time, as slow as it can be made to be. Exactly like I imagined it. Do you remember?


We are lying in bed looking at the stars through the open window. Jacob takes my fingers and points at different constellations, his head pressed hard against mine so that he knows I can see exactly where my fingers are aiming.


I say nothing and then I burst out laughing.

What's so funny?

I'm waiting for you to break into songs from Hair.

Maybe later. I was being serious and romantic and you're ruining everything.

I'm so happy.

Really? Well, mark this night for our history book. He grins at me in the dark. I see nothing. I hear his big teeth click and that's how I know he's smiling.

Yes. This is heaven.

This isn't heaven, princess. (Unclick, grin is over. Serious Jake returns.) Heaven is where everything is always good. It isn't a surprise. You never look at your watch. The stars are visible in daylight. You are never surprised that you're happy, you just are. All the time. Surrounded by those you love.

What if I don't go to heaven?

What do you mean?

What is hell like?

You think you're going to hell?

Probably. I don't know. Most likely purgatory or something. In between. Visits to both or just stuck in the middle. What is purgatory like?

It's like..I think it's a place where people wait. They wait for those who love them to escape from the clutches of grief in order to release them. They wait around for a time and then when the worst has passed they know they will be let go. It's just time though. Endless time. Nothing. Just waiting.

Sounds awful.

It sounds necessary to me.

I don't think that would happen to you. I think you would go straight to heaven because you earned it.

I guess that would be up to you, now, wouldn't it?


You'll outlive me, pigalet.

I am struck by how horrifying that concept is to me.

I don't want to.

You have to. You're younger so it's logical.

Tears roll out of my eyes and down my temples into my hair. I am still on my back looking upside down at the sky through the window over the bed.

When the time comes, don't make it too long, okay, princess?

I can no longer speak and I put my head down, wrenching my hand from his grasp. I don't want to look at stars anymore. I don't want to talk about death anymore. I don't want to even think about this. I feel as if I am about to throw up.

I turn away from him in the bed, toward the wall. He follows, wrapping his arms around me, pulling me in close against him. I am shivering and he is so warm. So alive right now. His beard tickles the back of my neck as he begins to talk again.

Hey, I'm going to be around forever and when I'm not, I promise you can keep me in purgatory for as long as you need or forever until you get there too and we can go to heaven together.

You promise?


But don't die okay?

Why not?

I don't want to be alone.

You never will be, princess.

So what do you want me to do, Jacob.

It's a statement, not a question. I am overcome with exhaustion. I don't want to have this conversation today. Put it off. Make it go away. I can't do it or whatever tenuous hold on the life I am trying to live without Jacob will fall away from me and then where will I be? If I don't keep going I'll never get to a point where I can let him go forever and it isn't my intention to keep him here forever. But it isn't that time yet. The day is pushing down on my head and it aches so badly. I just want Benjamin to rest his lips against the flushed bone of my forehead because that makes the pain go away so briefly and then I can breathe for another little while.

I can't give you a time frame, princess. I want to either see you through this proactively or I want you to seriously consider going on without me. They can get you through this. They're doing a good job.

Oh, my lord. My pragmatic minister, always, beyond the end. Gently guiding with lots of options, all of them win-win. (In your own sweet time, pigalet, but let's get on with this now. Before the wind comes and takes away all of my lovely designs in the sand for you.)

His voice is running through my head and he is still right in front of me. I find defiance and squeeze it hard.

Not ready Jake. Please don't do this.

Soon, pigalet.

NOT YET! I scream it at him and the disappointment on his face ruins my life or whatever semblance of it I thought I had. The pressure is never supposed to come from him, he is supposed to be the impartial subject. Nowhere did it ever say that the ghost would have an opinion on this. Nowhere did it say that that was allowed and I'm really done with all of these surprises, God. Fuck off already. Either leave me alone or get in here and help me out.

I fixed the door, for the next time. Maybe you can make it sooner, princess. Waiting is becoming hard for me. He wipes his palms down his face and moves to stand. His wings don't fill the room anymore. They are defeated. Tired. Frustrated. None of the things you're supposed to feel in heaven or on earth.

It's so dark now I can't find my way home so instead of stepping through I sit down to wait. Across from him but on the floor. He walks along the walls in a perfect square until he returns to the chair and looks at it as if it is responsible for his helplessness right now. Or maybe for mine. He picks it up with both hands and throws it at the wall where it splinters like matchsticks. I cover my head when it happens.

When I look up next he is sitting beside me on the floor. Waiting with me.

Waiting for me.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Princess with a tin crown.

You want to know something? There are two distinct factions of people who email me who annoy the everloving fuck right out of me.

Those who know everything, aka the 'holier than thou' crowd and then there's the ones who assume.

Both, just go away. seriously. I don't need you, and if you know everything and are THAT awesome besides, then you have better things to do than send me shitty emails.

I can't even count how many people sent me messages telling me I was white trash/low rent/worthless because..are you even ready for this?

A mere ONE of those lipglosses came from a place that didn't start with drug- and end with -store. Two, for those of you with really sharp vision (rolls eyes).

Look, I'm reaaaaaallllly glad you wear exclusively MAC or whatever but I'm not sure why you're so gleeful in telling me. As in, you are better than me? Because of a brand name?

Sorry, I don't really play that game.

I wear makeup from the *GASP* drugstore, actually from the Save-On grocery store because they have a makeup aisle. Also? My mom sells Mary Kay. I actually don't wear much make-up at all. Mostly lip gloss, a little powder and some mascara. Nothing more. I don't really care where my dresses come from, I get my hair cut mostly at the same barbershop the boys go to (for TEN WHOLE DOLLARS) and if I talk about something expensive it is almost always provided by Caleb or Benjamin, and I never asked for it, they will simply treat me.

If that makes me 'low-rent', then slap a dollar-ninety-nine sticker on my ass and call it a short sale.

Actual news? Well, I guess it will have to wait. You are clearly busy sharpening your horns.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Lochlan doesn't like heavy-heavy metal. No death metal, no gloom. He doesn't like chocolate cake or lip gloss either for that matter, and he definitely doesn't like it when he has to keep secrets because then his hands are tied and he feels weighted down, burdened by circumstances beyond his control.

I sat on the lowered tailgate of his truck while he paced back and forth in front of me. I kept wiping my eyes with the bottom halves of my palms. I think all I succeeded in doing was mixing dirt with tears, leaving streaks across my nose. I am hitching, hiccuping, at the tail end of a fearful crying jag that lasted much of the day today and the night before too.

He is thinking. He keeps checking me, making sure I don't take off again. He is working every angle in his head. I think I am done running. I have no energy left and I couldn't outrun Lochlan if I tried. I have tried. He's older, stronger, faster. He's my safety besides.

If I run from him, where in the world am I supposed to go?

My hands are fluttering. I'm picking at his sweatshirt that he put on me because I was shivering so badly. It hurts. Everything hurts. He stops and walks over to me and takes my face in his hands. He presses his forehead against mine.

I'm thinking. Okay? Just let me make sure we're not making any mistakes here. Please, Bridge, just let me think. Stop doing that with your hands. Oh, God, please just stop it. You'll be okay. I'm not going to let anyone take you away from me.

I have left again and I don't hear what he says. The heat of the sun broiling the top of my head does nothing to warm my legs, flush against the cool metal of the truck bed. The cold spreads through me and my brain runs through the door again because someone keeps leaving the door ajar.

Ben cleaned out the truck.*

That is all.

*(Sillies. They're mine. Well, until he eats them.)

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Crazy dream.

I made a huge dinner last night. Pork brined and roasted in a thick mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, buttered and salted, steamed broccoli and fresh garlic-buttered dinner rolls. I made too much food and still we ate it all and then after hockey was over, we retired to the theater to watch The Lightning Thief. I curled up in the corner of the big sectional and put my head on Ben's chest. He was sacked out directly in the center of the couch, feet up on the coffee table, warm as toast for a change.

Lights out.

I was told it was a good movie.

I got up and refreshed some drinks and put the children to bed and we headed back downstairs to watch The Song Remains The Same. I put my head down again on Ben and that was that. Out for the duration. (Sorry, Robert, nice jeans.)

I really think some sort of sleeping gas is piped from the Blu-ray player that only affects Bridgets. Now when the boys want to watch a movie they call it 'putting the baby down for her nap'.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

And no one sings me lullabies
And no one makes me close my eyes
So I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky.
I love it when Lochlan gets new tattoos.


Shades of this night from two years ago.

The doorbell rang right as I was cleaning up dinner tonight. I went to answer it and to my surprise Caleb was standing on the verandah with John. Between them was a large object wrapped in a padded moving quilt and on top of that was a small white box tied with a green velvet ribbon. John stepped forward and kissed my cheek awkwardly and gave me a brief hug before retreating to the Escalade and Caleb waited patiently until I addressed him.

What is that? Is that a television? We don't need a television.

It isn't a television, Bridget.

I'll get one of the boys to come and get this...whatever this is. Just a minute.

Too late, Ben appeared behind me, looking over my head at Caleb. Caleb paled and cleared his throat.

I figured if you weren't coming back you might need these to work from home, that is, if you still plan to continue. We can talk later in the week, I've got plans this evening and I'm late. Goodbye, Bridget. Ben, take care.

Ben nodded and I felt the bottom of his mask crack the top of my head. I turned around and he was in his hockey gear again. This is the new stuff that he's been trying to break in all week. He looks imposing in it, I know he came out on purpose to scare Caleb. Ben is very subtle like that.

Would you stop that?

Ben just laughed.

Look at him run, Bee. Look at him go. Holy Christ, he's practically breaking a sweat.

I covered my mouth with my hands. It was funny. I'm sorry! I enjoy it when Caleb is uncomfortable for once instead of everybody else.

I turned my attention to the mystery packages still sitting on the verandah. I stepped out and collected the smaller box and Ben picked up the big one, depositing it inside the front hall. I already had the small box open.

A brand new white Blackberry Torch. The one I threw the other day when I quit turned out to be my work-issued Blackberry bold, (identical to Caleb's) and it's been all scratched up since. I love this new phone. It's beautiful. Caleb feeds my love for cellphones the way the other boys feed my need for affection. It's glorious and disgusting all at once.

The big package turned out to be my desk from Caleb's loft. The beautiful one I begged to have at the house. Now here it is. Wow.

It looks perfect, right where I thought it would. In the nook at the bottom of the stairs. I put my laptop on it. And a tiny lamp. And a jarful of pens and pencils for drawing. I stole a chair from the kitchen to put at it for now. I sat down and felt like all the pieces were falling into place maybe for once.

It could happen.

Friday, 19 November 2010

A 16-hour drive to San Francisco.

I have been charged to write a list of ten things I don't like. This is courtesy of Sam, who likes to keep me on my toes when he is here and frankly New Jake is STILL talking and I can't think but hey, it's Friday and Fridays are always really good days because on Saturday the dog sleeps in for a whole hour and I can catch up on my rest because of course I stayed up until midnight or some equally crazy thing.

Hmmm *crickets*.

Okay, fine, Sam. Here goes nothing.
  1. prawns.
  2. slippery roads + tailgaters.
  3. sixteen-month-old laptops failing when you are damn well aware all of the American versions of said laptop with same said issues south of the border get recall fixes. Fuckers. Three times in four years! Three different brands, no less. I have a macbook now. Hold your breath.
  4. Incredibly shallow people who will dismiss someone based on their clothes/job/race/sexual orientation.
  5. isolation.
  6. Oatmeal from scratch. Gross. I much prefer the sugar-laden instant stuff.
  7. injuries that prevent running.
  8. Size discrepancies in clothing. Junior, petite, misses, and regular. What the fuck.
  9. Bad bakeries.
  10. gin.
There. That's all I can come up with. I could be all global and discuss the Canadian political climate or the price of oil or that ridiculous skinny jeans fad but really, I gotta say, please don't order me anything with prawns.

(The title of today's post is simply a random fact. And a nod to the TSA. That is all.)

Thursday, 18 November 2010


Hark how the bells
Sweet silver bells
All seem to say
Throw cares away
We are standing in the front hall in the dark. I am tired. It's been a long day. I rest my head against Ben's chest. I can feel his heart beating. Slow. Steady.

Lochlan returns from the kitchen with orange juice in a glass. He takes a sip before handing the glass to me. I'm not paying attention so Ben takes the glass and lets go of me, steering me forward. Straight into Lochlan's arms. I shake my head just once, a useless protest, pointing out how late it is more than anything. This is when they are both awake, fired and confident. This is when I am beginning to fall away from the day, vaguely combative and yet well aware of how far we will go before sunrise.

Lochlan brings his hands up to my head and kisses my cheek. I am breathing him in. As soon as he starts he is finished, turning away, reaching back for my hand and pulling me with him from memory. I follow him up the stairs. We are silent. The house is asleep. Ben is right behind me. I always fight the urge to run up the stairs as fast as I can because they have always chased me under threat of a tickle war. It occurs to me that it's good we are still so silly after all these years.

And sometimes so serious too.

The door to my room stays locked behind me to keep our secrets inside, stacked neatly beside the memories, cataloged and arranged in chronological order. Ben's hand slides over my face and I am left to his inclinations now. He becomes a part of me and I am so grateful and so exhausted tears mix with joy on my face though it's almost too dark to see. Truth and trust take center stage together. The spotlight burns out, taking away any remaining shame and I am soaring now, safe in arms. Safe to do what I want, safe to make mistakes, safe to divide myself right down the middle. A dotted line. Sign here with no excuses, please and thanks, take what you want with no apologies. And just never ask me to choose because I won't do that ever again.

My lips burn and my flesh is raw as we work our way through to blissful sleep, to the rest of that orange juice, in the glass beside the lamp. The alarm goes off too soon and I can't reach it, not for the rubber limbs but for the fact that I wake up locked in Ben's arms, my head on his chest. I have to wake him in order to reach the button to turn off the music. Only I don't want to turn off the music and so I put my head back down and listen as Ben's heart beats in time with the song, with the rain, with Lochlan's heart and with my own and I am struck by how perfect imperfect love is.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


Let us beware of common folk, of common sense, of sentiment, of inspiration, and of the obvious.
~Charles Baudelaire
There's a steady drone today, an undercurrent competing with the drumming of the rain on the windows today. The glass electrified, dangerous, the view of the deadly seas comforting if only for the color, this beautiful dark green-grey shade that only makes itself known when you stare directly into it and allow the waves to wash over you, drowning you and teaching you to float all at the same time.

They were right about the rain here.

But I still think things are better overall.

Tonight is Ruth's very first band concert. Everyone is going to cheer her on and hear her play with her entire group. It's going to be mayhem and it could be fun too. After bedtime I have a date with my two favorite boys for a late supper. We need to get back on track. We need to chill together a little more. Maybe a lot more. I need to chill out altogether.

A lot. A whole lot.

More than a lot.


Oodles. Boatloads. Meh, you get it.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Made in heaven.

Even angels have their wicked schemes
And you take that to new extremes
But you’ll always be my hero
Even though you've lost your mind
I'm telling you Ben is different. You're not listening.

Jake always refused to indulge Lochlan. Jacob met Lochlan and based on what I told him about each and every friend, Jacob refused to buy shares in history and instead kept his savings invested in the present, painstakingly reminding me to live for now, because the past is just that, the past.

I failed.

I failed spectacularly, elisting Lochlan to pay Jacob back. I've had Lochlan pay back everyone who's ever wronged me and yet I'm pretty sure I drove them all to madness because of Lochlan in the first place. Rather than be outraged, you should be used to this. This is the way things are and that's one of the most amazing things about Benjamin. He wrote me a free pass and I became his boomerang girl and it works and I'm happy (in relative terms) and things are good.

Oddly Jacob believed in Ben. And Ben was a spectacular mess in the Jacob-days. Spectacular with a capital B. Holy fuck. Jacob must have been one hell of a visionary to see past what Ben presented to the world as himself.

Ben is the polar opposite of everyone. Every single one of them. They say white, he says black. They say light, he says dark, they say steaks, he says lipgloss. They tell him to be quiet, he'll blow the roof off. They tell him to relax, oh, Jesus, don't ever tell Ben to relax. He'll revolt. Implode. Break things. But only when you tell him to calm down. He's lost the most here and he wears it on the outside.

But they can't push Ben the way Jake got pushed around, second-guessed and ignored. Ben has nowhere to go but up, he's got nothing to lose by rebelling against the entire collective and they learned a long time ago he's going to do what he wants and no one's going to be able to stop him anyway.

Not sure if it's the constant exchange of bodily fluids or some sort of marriage-osmosis but it seems to be contagious. Healthy emotional cooties we've been sharing now for years. Hey bee, what do YOU want? Do that, and don't worry about what they say.

That's why I quit. I took a page from Ben's big book of Personal Anarchy for Dummies and I said enough. I said I was never fucking going back and I was rude and unladylike and I may or may not have thrown a BlackBerry (not mine, do I look like an idiot to you?) and I made a bit of a scene in the lobby when Caleb had the completely scary and unexpected nerve to chase after me when I left.

As usual, Caleb refused to accept my resignation. As usual he blamed everything on Lochlan because in case you didn't notice, they don't interact with each other. As usual Ben feigns disinterest in everything EXCEPT my bodily fluids. As usual Bridget spent the day having a tantrum. As usual it accomplished nothing.

As usual Lochlan is throwing down his customary ultimatums and as usual they're not going to last long enough to take hold. Ask Ben. I'll be in the library chewing on pages, choking on words. Call me when he comes home.


Ben came home two hours later, throwing the front doors open wide, his giant boots tracking wet leaves all the way across the foyer. I felt the vibrations of his footsteps from where I sat on the floor in the library. He threw the doors to that room open too, switched on the lights, took one look at me and crossed to where I sat against the glass, my back turned against the evening's black skies. He stopped when he reached me, crouching down in front of my face. He smelled like leather and forbidden cigarettes. He lifted up my chin and smiled at me. Gently and not like a monster. Not like everybody else.

You decide what you want to do.

No ultimatums, just letting me figure it out. Not because he's spineless, not because he's a pushover (God, sometimes I hate you, Internet), but because he watches. He watches fucking everything, and he's smarter than the rest of you by far. I have to figure this out and he knows it. I am not his child, I'm an adult. As depraved as he is, I am a grownup in this relationship too. An equal.

A match.

Ben reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, and then plugged his headphones into it and put them in my ears. Then he pressed play, put the phone in my hands, and kissed my forehead hard. Then when the music started he stood up, turned around and left, shutting off the lights and pulling the doors closed behind him. He knew what I needed. No one else ever does.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Unpredictable (louder than you).

What the FUCK, iTunes? You took away my play count?

I give up.

Unless he did something. It wouldn't surprise me. I know how to set it up to play one song on repeat infinitely, cranked up to forty so that the windows flex and he gives up on trying to make calls because 'his assistant is doing some high-volume editing today'.

Yeah, of her BRAIN.


I'm still damp just from going from the car to the door this morning and back again in the rain. I'm still annoyed that I had to be there even though I can do all of that from home and I'm frustrated that on our territory (the house), he is cordial and emotionally level and on his territory he is manipulative and willing to push me so hard I slid all of the glass out of the windows so the whole city could enjoy the October Rust album but just that one song and I kept sticking my head out into the rain dozens of stories up in order to feel less dead and less afraid around him.

I don't think Caleb even noticed, he was too busy picturing my O-face or maybe plotting to pump deadly noxious gas into Ben's sound booth and give me that hat trick that will make everything okay for him. Then he can do something to Lochlan's bike and Lochlan will go out in a ball of fire and then frankly, Caleb would have everything he ever wanted. Except my mind would be long gone and the shell would be just that, a shell. A corpse. Probably pretty at the beginning but when pretty things die you're better off with the memories because the rest will fade, the color running down onto the floor, shades of grey left behind. Everything growing stiff and unrecognizable.

Yeah, all that and I stood beside him waiting for a fucking signature while he looked out the window and choose to ignore me and I choose not to go any closer so we were even and eventually he turned and walked away, not signing my work so I could have it sent to the bank and he TURNED OFF THE MUSIC and I left. Because really, who the fuck needs a boss like that?

And who the fuck needs an assistant like me?

Find someone else, asshole. This asshole quits.

Of course, Ben thinks this is hilarious. Because he said the poison gas thing only happens in the movies, and Lochlan would know something was wrong with the bike before he left our driveway, and I'm never at Caleb's loft as his employee but rather as his muse and he doesn't need me to or care if I actually get any work done, as long as he can be near me. Like Cole. Like Jacob. Like everyone.

Ben put my song on. At a volume of eight-five. It is so loud I can't even hear it. Awesome. I get my own glass booth just for fun. The big headphones. I'm going to bring a bed and live in here. No interruptions. Just music.

I will have lunch here with Ben and then head home so I'll take my knocks later.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The new favorite song. (Sorry, Lochie).

Now like a bird
She flew away
To chase her dreams
Of books and praise
Still I miss her
Yeah I miss her
Since she's gone
Who played the fool?
Self pity sick
Jet fuel perfume
Still I miss her
Yeah I miss her
Since she's gone
Girl I want to die with you
In each others arms
We'll drown in flame
If this time were the last time
Could I hold you all life long?
Since this time is the last time
Can I hold you all night long?
Lay your head down for the last time

Trust (suum cuique).

'Round the bend and headed into the winter now at full speed. Head first.
The stocking are hung but who cares?
Preserved for those no longer there.
Six feet beneath me sleep.
Black lights hang from the tree,
Accents of dead holly.

Whoa mistletoe
(It's growing cold)
I'm seeing ghosts,
(I'm drinking old)
Red water
Red water
(Red water)
Red water chase them away.
Ben is eating the little packages of Graveyard body part gummies from the bowl of leftover rejected Halloween candy. He is calling the inventory out loud. So far he has eaten a nose, two thumbs and a pair of lips (I won't tell you the comments he was making as he opened those. Goddamn. Hilarious). We're not big on gum-thingies here. Bears on rare occasion and sour patch kids and sour soothers always, but digits and facial features? No fucking way.

Here's an ear for you, baby. Try it out.

Oh, Jesus, Ben. Can't you eat the rockets like everybody else?

He drove me all the way out to the Metaphysical shop in the valley this afternoon. I now have a winter supply of nag champa and patchouli incense now and some other assorted trinkets. The owner of the shop reminded me to clear the space of heavy imprints and we would be good to go.

I know. I am the world's most prolific skeptic/cynic and here I am with all of the lucky charms and feng shui and pseudo, bastardized Wicca to cleanse the house of negative energy. Life experience harvests the doubts and superstition assuages them. I don't dare ignore any chance I have to make everything turn out okay.

The boys humor me because they treasure all things eclectic and strange and beautiful, including, especially Bridget.

Now I just have to find a brick and mortar Doc Marten shop for my boots and I'll be fucking gold here. Homesickness, take that. I am figuring this place out at last, filling in the last few gaps. Filling up the holes and patching the worn spots. It isn't easy setting up home in unfamiliar territory, it can take a long while to truly feel comfortable. I still painstakingly walk through the new grocery store in my head as I update my perpetual shopping list because everything is in a different place. I still count intersections through town and ask for help everywhere because it's all New with a capital N, and different by far. Where is the watchmaker, what's the best pool? Where do you get your dog clipped? How come no one goes to this little shop? Oh, dammit, we've been stopping at the Starbucks in the next town over because I didn't go that extra street or I would have found this one, on the edge of my neighborhood. Ha.

Different. Yes, by far.

But in a better way.

Quality of life has taken on new meaning. This week we have had changes. Lots of them. Kind of a literal stock taken, at one year after the routine of Prairie life was disrupted for good. The new incense ceremony and the solemn attempt to do personal inventories and pull up our bootstraps at last means we are holding ourselves accountable for the state of the Collective right at this minute.

Last night there was zero trust extended to Caleb. He asked again to take me for a drive down the mountain, a final spin in his 350z before it is put into storage for winter and again he was denied, but not by me. Our unified energies have been strict and strained as of late and I have done nothing to change that. The boys were solid black in their rejection of Caleb's attempts to make further peace with me and I was obedient to my boys. I ignored all of them, studying the pewter goblet in front of me. The goblets are so ancient, the engraved poems (different on each) are worn almost smooth. I pretended I wasn't listening and they dealt with it and moved on. Subject changed.

Consequently, in a bizarre twist of devotion this evening, Ben was relaying a particularly violent story as he removed dishes while I talked quietly with Andrew and he came up behind me, gently grabbing a handful of my hair and he pulled my whole head back and drew the blade of a knife across my throat and I didn't even break the conversation. When I was finished my thought I turned and asked him what that was and he just smiled and ate a pinky finger, chewing it with his super wide oh-fuck-I'm-up-to-no-good-again-watch-out grin that makes my knees cave in and my heart thud so hard it hurts. Dull side in (on the knife AND the heart) in case you didn't realize. Obviously the princess isn't dead yet. Sometimes I'm halfway to breathing normally, even.

It wasn't a normal weekend by any means. It hardly ever is and I like it that way, imaginary murders, disgusting candy and weird traditions included. To each their own, I guess.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Incense and alcohol.

Today marks the very first time there are neither of the above in my house. I ran out of nag champa a long time ago. Lochlan ran out of beer last Wednesday.

He has made no move to get more. On the other hand, once the cold weather comes I like to have the nag burning late into the mornings while I work with my words. It's atmosphere, the same way Lochlan blurs the edges of his atmosphere so very slightly with hops and barley. Just enough to take the edges right off the throb of pain when he gives me back to my life, gently dropping me out of history, hanging me by the hands to be let go at the last second to fall the final distance down into the real.

The real.

Now. Present. (Unscented.)

Now with one hundred percent sober.

I'm not jumping guns or sharks saying that, I know how Lochlan thinks and when he stops, he just stops. He's self-regulating. Everything with a reason. I am not, I'm working hard to make my wishes known instead of transmitting them via invisible brat-waves and not throwing tantrums but forcing myself to pick up a book when I can't get my way and appreciating things like a roaring fire or a lit gingerbread candle or a hot cup of tea. Simple. Good. It works. Well, for now it works so cross your fingers, like I have crossed mine.

Cooking simple meals. Cranberry juice. Drawing the curtains before dinner, when the sun drops down behind the treeline and the mountains cast their shadow over this warm house. Look around you, Bridget. We made it. We have everything at last.

(Knock wood. Knock your head. Knock everything, just in case.)

A year ago this week Caleb offered us the move. The one we couldn't refuse. Tonight he is coming for dinner to celebrate our relative intactness. Or maybe he is coming to curse it. Either way I invited him if only to say Ha. Look. We did it and I didn't depressurize or implode or lose my mind. I packed it lovingly in wads of paper and bubble wrap and sealed it in a small box marked FRAGILE. When we landed they poured beer all over it to rehydrate it and look, I was good as new.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Loaded memories (I know I am cliffhangering a lot lately. Patience.)

Here I lay
Still and breathless
Just like always
Still I want some more
Mirrors sideways
Who cares what's behind
Just like always
Still your passenger
Chrome buttons, buckles and leather surfaces
These and other lucky witnesses
Now to calm me
This time won't you please
Drive faster
Roll the windows down
This cool night air is curious
Let the whole world look in
Who cares who sees anything
Some motions you know by heart. That much I know. I watched Lochlan slip on a mask of concentration, and then over that he placed his facade of theatrical hesitancy mixed with charm. He always played his doubts to the crowd and then at the end he would act relieved that nothing went wrong. This would elicit a collective relief and a round of heavy donations from the dispersing crowd. It was my job to start on the outside and run to the first folks to break away from the circles and convince them to appreciate the entertainment with a little silver or maybe a paper bill or two, working my way back to Lochlan who would be pouring water on the batons and packing up his gear, slowly because he would keep one eye on me.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Lochlan stood up and winked at me and then asked the children if they were ready. He turned around and checked the sunset, which was happening right on schedule and then he lit the torches.

Then he put them out to a chorus of disappointent. He thought for a moment, telling the kids that maybe it wasn't a good idea, he was rusty and something could go wrong. He winked at me again. Ruth caught the wink and egged him on. So did Ben, with loud encouragement. Henry had a moment where he wasn't sure and then he realized that Lochlan was joking and he clapped his hands and called for fire.

So Lochlan lit the torches once more, with his first warning, as always, to not try this at home and also to consider putting something in the hat, if even for a moment, we found this entertaining. And then he began.

He was not rusty. It was like riding a bicycle, or he never would have tried at all. He has no interest in losing his beautiful strawberry curls, or an eye for that matter, or messing up his hands, or scarring the children emotionally. He threw fire for almost a decade. Talents you hone become like breathing after a fashion and the challenge falls away leaving only muscle memory and a keen eye.

I lost twenty-five years of my life in a single instant, when the first baton flew up into the night air, somersaulting over itself, flames mesmerizing every last one of us. I saw it in slow motion and when it landed in Lochlan's other hand, I was fourteen years old again.

Oh, hell.

Not this.

I've been waiting for this. it stalks me around every corner. It beckons to me to come closer, just for a moment. Remember, Bridget. Close your eyes and smell the corn dogs and the gasoline and grease. Open your eyes and see the pretty colored lights, just like Christmas but never sad like Christmas is. The anticipatory excitement of every single sunset at the midway, a handful of incredibly specific mollifications reamin dear to me and here he is conjuring these memories on a chilly November night as far away from the fairgrounds as we will ever get, and happily so, in the place where he was born. All of his history was written far from here, maybe so that when he returned, the slate would be clean. A quarter of a century later and never in between.

Lochlan would do that. He was always like that. He planned ahead for us. And I skipped forward down the road, ruining his plans with my impulsiveness at every bend, knowing that when the last ticketholders had gone home and the darkness was complete I would turn and throw myself back into his arms for sleep, for love. For his approval.

Tonight as I sat on a lawnchair wrapped in Ben's hoodie with the lights of my brand-new giant oceanfront house blazing behind me, my belly full of warmth from dinner, my healthy, perfect children clapping their hands with delight it occurred to me that this was what he was waiting for. Coming around that bend in the road and seeing the future from the past. Everything turned out okay. We did eat. We didn't freeze or wind up stranded or in jail. We weren't ripped apart (though we have tried. Oh, have we tried.) We still have all the time in the world for each other and if given a choice will give the same answers and think the same thoughts. We still plot escape first and list needs in order of emergent necessities. We still think like carnies and I was only ever a summer girl, leaving each fall to say goodbye and return to school, arms bound, legs kicking mightily, screaming in indignation. I would stare out the window in misery all day (except for Creative Writing class) only to hear the bell ring and fly out of homeroom, down the hall, down the steps and through the doors to Lochlan's truck because he had been out of school for a while now.

Little ever changes. I still hate regular routines, I hate it when he isn't around, and I hate that life has obligations beyond keeping an eye on showtimes and where to sleep but at the same time, you can take a girl away from the midway without taking the midway away from the girl. There is still a value to a green paper dollar that to me runs far beyond what most people in this day and age place on one and there are still many tiny thrills to be had when the only person you can rely on is a teenage boy who tells you the names of the stars in the night sky and makes sure you get enough food so that you don't cry later when you are hungry. The same boy who shakes you out of nightmares and rocks you back toward dreamland, the very first watchful sentry who made a promise and kept it, the only one so far.

I asked Lochlan once if he still felt as though he were the same teenaged boy who lived with the show, traveling to seaside shows and living on a shoestring, if he felt as if he ever progressed past those years maturity-wise. He cocked his head and squinted at me slightly, in his usual way, wondering where I was going with my questions, wondering if this conversational road was the right one to go down right now, weighing his words as comforting lies versus his usual logic, his pragmatic sense. He weighed while I watched him.

Finally he said no, that he didn't feel like that anymore. That those experiences helped him to always see the big picture and not take the little things so seriously, that he grew up so fast, being responsible for me, and he made so many mistakes that he is far beyond that boy from the cornfields, from the circus. That he is a man now and not a boy pretending.

This is probably why he didn't bring the fire until tonight. He advanced into adulthood by necessity and left me behind. Not in the abandonment sense but in the sense that he was forced to grow up and take charge and he did just that, so I wouldn't have to. So he could watch me flit down the road like a foolish fluttery butterfly and know for certain I would still be waiting for him when he caught up to me.

This time I was there. Right where he knew I would be. I stopped moving. I stopped running ahead. I understand now that his reluctance to display any of his former surprising gifts had nothing to do with competing with Jacob or out-egoing Ben, he just didn't want to unlock the part of my brain that he secured such a long time ago. He locked it up and hid it well. I don't think anyone was prepared for what was supposed to be a milestone in the family. The children were finally old enough to sit still and remain far back enough to enjoy a fire show. Or so we have told ourselves all along.

We thought we were far enough away from it, far enough away from history and definitely far enough away geographically to risk it. But Lochlan smelled like gasoline and nostalgia, and it proved to be too soon.
Here I lay just like always
Don't let me go
Take me to the edge

The boy who juggled swords.

One of the joys of having spent years in the circus means eventually your talents will spill out over the edges of fantasy into the dimmer, sharp reality of life itself. You will bring your gifts with you when you watch the final tent come down and embrace all of the people you called family, even though some of them didn't seem to have proper names and even fewer of them had a plan to withstand the outside world, as we called it. How do you transition from traveling with the show to having a regular job and paying regular bills? It's akin to being released from prison. You must assimilate back into a society you rejected before. You must roll up your magic tightly with your showmanship, stuffing it far into a dark corner and not speaking of it in public because you want to fit in, not be the freak where no one pays you.

Until children are involved, that is.

I came downstairs this morning and Lochlan was teaching Henry how to juggle knives. Henry was using paring knives and Lochlan had his short swords. IN THE KITCHEN. Henry was mostly thrilled to be holding a knife, period. I'm not big on knives. I will happily toss my children into the ocean and tell them to swim but no, they can't cut that tomato, because I can barely cut that tomato, having a long history of issues with knives. They just gravitate toward my flesh.


Lochlan said this afternoon we might go outside and he'll toss the fire batons around for a bit for the children. Which is sort of insane because he hasn't picked those up in over twenty years but something tells me it's a lot like riding a bicycle. And not at all like being normal. Being normal is not second nature, it's not something you learn once and remember forever. It's an uphill battle every day.

We are still learning. We are still freaks. We will always be the freaks.

I'll be passing the hat. Be ready with your dollar bills.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Because nothing rhymes with 'secret'.

I am biting my tongue as he pulls my shirt gently over my head. He's either going to accidentally bump my arm, since Ben is not known for his grace offstage or off ice for that matter, or make some sick joke that will have me laughing and clutching myself in pain.

To my surprise he does neither.

He turns the shirt right side out again and lobs it toward the laundry basket. Then he crosses to my closet and asks me if I have a preference. Like we're talking about the weather, only I am naked from the waist up.

The stretchy pink one, I say. He shakes his head. Long sleeves, little bee. How about one of Jake's shirts instead? One of his flannel ones? I nod. I've already switched to staring out the window. The painkillers make it hard to keep my mind on anything. I want to sleep but it hurts to lie down. It's better to stand. I pace a lot, mostly. When I close my eyes I see Cole's face, full of rage.

Ben is feeding my good arm into a sleeve. Good as new, he whispers, and kisses the end of my nose. He is so brave. I'm glad Jake asked him to look after me. This would not work if it were Lochlan. Lochlan is in shock and tends to turn off in emergencies. Ben will crash but strangely enough this is working.

We'll head for a walk in a little while, Ben is talking and I'm barely listening again. The lilacs are in bloom. The smell is heady, glorious.

Ben's pretending that the palms of his hands hold great mystery to him. I'm waiting for him to button the shirt. Both arms are through it now and one is in a sling but the shirt. It's wide open. Hello.

He absently pulls the front closed and begins to button. In the middle. The buttons don't match and the right side of the shirt hangs lower than the left. My OCD wants to ask him to fix it and pay attention but my heart is just thankful that he wasn't here the night Cole came over. Had Ben been in the house I imagine Cole would be dead. The only reason Jacob didn't kill Cole is because the police pulled him off. It took three of them but they pulled him off.

Ben blushes when he gets to the end of his buttoning chores. The crooked shirt is hanging to my knees. It looks ridiculous. He tells me I look like a supermodel and I burst out laughing and then I start to cry.

He puts his arm around my good shoulder and kisses my ear. I flinch and squeal and he jumps back.

Sorry! Sorry, bee, oh, Jesus.

He frowns at my accusatory expression and I can see how much this has affected him. He has lines on his face. He's grim. He matches Jake in seriousness. I am still reeling. The boys are heartbroken and angry. Caleb is nonexistent. I'm sure he knows everything that is going on. He's a lawyer. His brother has lost his family and is in jail and PJ has left about fifty messages for him but he hasn't contacted us.

Which means he is reeling too. I have no idea how Caleb copes in a true crisis because I never stay close enough to him to find out.

It's four and half years later and I have just found out how he dealt with things. On one hand I'm grateful and on the other hand I'm really not surprised after all. Even more surprised it didn't come out sooner.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

First supper.

I had scribbled my number on a gallery program and offered it to him. He smiled, eyes twinkling.

I still have it.

Really? After a year?

Maybe I'm a pack rat.

He is smiling so broadly. It's contagious.

May I have yours then?

My rat? It was a figure of speech.

Your number, silly.


So I can invite you over for dinner.

Are you a good cook?


Then yes. Here.

He took the pen from me and wrote his number on the inside of my wrist. On the smooth skin above my hand. His hands were warm and so large it was as if he was holding a toothpick instead of my arm.

Three days later I called him.


Hello, Jacob? It's Bridget. I'm sorry, did I wake you?


Should I call back?

Why? I'm awake now. I'm glad you woke me up.

Why is that? Are you due somewhere?

No? Why do you ask?

Why are you glad I woke you?

Because I'm always happy to hear from you.

This is the first time I've ever called you!

Yes it is.

I don't think our conversations ever grew less endearing. He had a way about him. The thick Newfoundland accent and the no nonsense or all nonsense dialogue left little to hide behind. To my delight, I realized that instead of being frustrated by his way of teasing me, I was flattered. He could be very warm and formal with others and incredibly sweet with me.

I gave him the details of dinner and the next two days flew by as I shopped and planned and cooked and cleaned.

If I had known exactly how much food Jacob could consume in one sitting I would have shopped a little more.

Monday, 8 November 2010

In case you thought I locked myself in the library again.

Rainy mornings with paperwork up to my eyebrows makes me feel productive. I'm not sure but there's something very grown up about putting on earrings and high heels and grabbing my laptop bag, purse and umbrella and heading out to John in the waiting truck. Sitting in the back. He has coffee waiting but I ignore it in favor of lipgloss and music.

The rain pours in a protective curtain around the car as he heads across the bridge towards downtown, toward Caleb's stupidly expensive glass box, toward my beautiful little desk that I wish he would let me bring to the house because I have a sunny little nook that would be perfect for it.

In my bag are the children's school portraits. I know Caleb will be pleased with them. The older Henry gets, the more he looks like me, and the more Ruth looks like Cole. Both children are suddenly almost-teens and I don't understand how that time flies while other time falls behind.

He is very pleased. I present them over more coffee and maple donut bars. I would eat a second one but there isn't one. I contemplate grabbing Caleb's right off the plate. He seems to be ignoring it. I refrain. Had a tiny smidgen of trouble zipping my dress up this morning thanks to the giant bowls of mini chocolate bars sitting on the island in the kitchen at home and decide my sweet tooth is writing cheques that my waistline has no means to cash. I'll quit today and go back to pears and tea with honey to quell the sugar crave.


I like sweet things and it's been forever since I've had cake but there will be some cake tonight and maybe if I'm really good today Caleb will let me take the Escalade home and then I can turn the stereo up to twelve and leave it there. Then when he takes it back he'll get blown out of his seat.

Or something.

It seems like the morning flies. I get very little done. I am having trouble focusing. Probably the sugar. I keep watching the planes take off and I am hoping I don't make any payroll mistakes but I always add three times and type once so I've never made a mistake. I submit everything for Caleb's signature and he suggests Chinese food for lunch. I don't have the heart to tell him we had Chinese food on Saturday night so I agree and we go to a place that tucked down in China town. A noisy little white-washed place with take-out containers and a fan blowing the best smells out onto the sidewalk.

We get our food to go and drive down to Stanley park, stopping at Third beach and parking to eat. I try not to roll my eyes. I once told Cole when Ruth was a year old that I would never have dinner in the car again. I wouldn't say that to Caleb. Besides, he would just tell me it isn't dinner, it's lunch. We finish up quickly, I am hungrier than I thought I was. He laughs and exits the truck to dispose of our garbage while I put on another layer of lip gloss.

I love lip gloss.

The afternoon flies and I get absolutely nothing done. Everything is too easy, everyone is being too nice, no challenges, no confrontations, no ragged-edge emotions that we use instead of minutes in the hour to tell the time.

I don't get it.

I don't understand why this isn't harder and yet I am well aware of that other shoe, always poised to stomp on my head and so I do nothing. I just advance with my shield handy and I cling to who ever is closest at hand, threading my fingers through theirs, squeezing until I wish I hadn't worn my rings. Mostly I believe that it's for my benefit, that they are all just trying hard to be flexible and mellow and then maybe I will too.

It's working for Bonham. Really if you don't make a huge fuss over him when you walk into my house, he won't jump all over you and clamor for attention.

Apparently for Bridget, life should be conducted much the same.


I was home before school let out and broke my jacket zipper, which was fine, it was the liner of a coat Cole bought for me in 2002 that I would pull on for running out quickly, raking leaves, etc. etc. Henry let me wear his jacket on the way home because he was overheated from gym and had his shirt and sweater so I took it gratefully. He's got chivalry in his blood, he may as well begin to use it.

I hope I can get a little more accomplished tomorrow but if I don't, well, that's okay too. I'm not putting any pressure on myself, just taking things minute by hour by day and as long as I don't think about absolutely anything at all, I think everything will be fine.

I did not get the Escalade.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

One thousand ninety-five days.

I woke up to a sky that matched Jacob's eyes. Clear, pale blue with a hint of sun. Today marks three years since he left earth for heaven and it still feels like yesterday and hurts like never before.

I have the day under control so far. As long as I don't actively think about anything at all, I'm sort of okay. Ben has strayed about as far as I can exhale. All I have to do is reach out one hand and he's sitting right here. Lochlan is close at hand. Daniel is here. Joel flew in to be handy because he drew the map of my mind that they still follow to this day. August is very quiet so his thick Newfoundland accent doesn't do further damage to my soul. New Jake is still incredibly surprised I ever smile at all. He wouldn't, he tells me. I tell him Ben has been instrumental in bringing that back. Ben said the face I wore for the first several weeks, the one of infinite shock and sadness is something he never wants to see ever again.

I am not marking Jacob's death today.

Instead I am celebrating what would have been his fortieth birthday.

He would have been quietly reflective, humbled and anxious to run through a list of the things he has done, measured against his father and his grandfather before. Measured against the other men than he knew, measured against society's conventions of things men should achieve by this age. He would have sought out the wisdom of those who have already marked this milestone and he would have enjoyed a dinner and some cake, and probably a couple of glasses of whiskey, degenerating into a positive torrent of wordy Newfie-babble punctuated with A. A. Milne quotes that I would answer as a challenge and he would be delighted.

He would want a long walk. To reflect. He would want to make love and reflect upon our marriage. Our lives, my head, our future. Those illusions he kept for me and maybe right now I'm less bitter and more grateful for those late night planning sessions in which we would list all the things we were going to do. License to dream, Bridget. If you could go anywhere, do anything, tell me about it. No limits, piglet. I still plan to do all those things I told him those nights, and I will bring him along in my heart.

Today we're going to go for that long walk and share our memories of him and then we'll have that big dinner tonight and make a cake, maybe with candles, maybe without. We'll toast to Jacob with water instead of whiskey and wish him a happy birthday and then I will sleep and the day will be over and the fourth year without him will begin.

I sound so together as I write this. I'm actually not. I am shaking like a leaf. I have gone back over it a million times, taking out the vitriol and the bitterness, inserting spaces since when I am upset I usually don't include them and I'm trying to be gracious where grace has made a hasty exit. I'm trying to find meaning where there clearly is none at all. I need to let that go and maybe I will. Maybe this year that's what I will work on.

Or maybe I'll just keep doing whatever I'm doing because I've made it this far. Only I didn't actually do the work. The boys did and I'm going to sign off now and go and enjoy their company. They are the reason, along with Ruth and Henry that I get up in the morning at all instead of diving back under the covers and ceasing to breathe, hoping no one can find me and I can just waste away to nothing and then disappear. They hold me. They hold me up. They make me cook when I'm not hungry and sleep when I insist I am wide awake, and love me even when I am being tiny, impossible, Fragile Miss Bridget.

Thank you. I love you guys.

Happy birthday, Jacob. I love you Pooh.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Plate glass.

Today is a hash-mash, hardscrabble, unorganized stack of things sitting in the corner but far enough out from the wall that it threatens to fall over. I stand near the door in the sunlight, eating cotton candy from a bag. To go, Lochlan says and he laughs. I refuse to accept a big paper cone, I want to keep clean when I'm not eating it. My fingers are sticky, filthy but I still have my eye on the stack because when it does topple I'm incredibly sure that nothing will break.

The barn is cool, a break from the sun. I have lined up big squares of decorative glass. It looks a little like sea glass but also nothing like it. These could be plates, with pulled-up corners so nothing slides off. Very modern and yet they are vintage. I have found them everywhere, breaking into old barns, touring around tiny antique shops set far down country roads, the kind you want to avoid at night or if your truck isn't in very working condition. The people watch me with their handful of teeth hidden in closed mouths. They think I am suspect and different. Oh, isn't that the tip of the iceberg.

I smile and opt to buy nothing because I already have enough plates. Why I persist in setting up house with such strange things leaves everyone tired and prone to fits of yelling and frisbeeing plates into the fences. A delightful, satisfying crack-smash against barbed wire and wooden posts. Then we are running. Eventually someone is seen patrolling the fence with a long gun propped against one shoulder and I raise my eyebrows and open my mouth in a little O-shape. Would they really shoot us for breaking some plates?

Lochlan nods. Time to go, bee. He doesn't say it, I just see it because I can read his mind. He puts his head down against my ear and whispers hot hamburger sandwiches and my belly rumbles in response. That means the diner so I lick my fingertips and then tie a knot in the top of the bag. I still have a good three lunches out of this left if I ration the sticky blue strands of sugar that remain.

He puts the plates that are left in a grimy canvas bag and holds his other hand out to take my hand. I jump off the barn floor, down two feet onto the grass because the step is missing and we walk out toward the road. On the way back he will produce a candy ring for me to eat and pretend to marry me. I say yes because I don't care, I just want the sweets and I know he isn't going anywhere. It seems to make him really happy and he turns up the stereo in the truck even though it is cutting in and out now and soon we'll have no music again but he always fixes everything.


Friday, 5 November 2010

Under the soles of another man's shoes.

Where were you last night?

Ben and I were at the coliseum, watching Stone Temple Pilots. (That's my photograph, taken with my awesome 3.2 mp Blackberry. Awwww yeah. Lord. It sucks.)

If I had to pick between Rogers Arena and the Pacific Coliseum, the Coliseum would win in a heartbeat. You don't have to fuck around with parking. If you have to go to the washroom there are no lineups, if you want a drink that isn't beer there are no lineups and they not only searched my purse twice (what the heck) but they changed our seats for us three times after the first two weren't suitable because the view was blocked and fuck that, I came to see the band. If I want to hear them I will sit in my car and crank it to the hilt. Also afterward? Cops everywhere.

Take notice, Rogers Arena. All of the above you fail at. MASTERFULLY.

Just before the opener came on we christened the leather girls on the floor Vancougars. Ben and I were congratulating ourselves on coming up with such a clever term right up until the singer for Tab the band said it onstage. That he wanted one. Then I was like aw, damn. Can't have that word.

(And for the record, I did not wear leather so shut your face, PJ.)

Tab was good. Really. Better than what I had heard perusing their Myspace (someone needs to fix that). Because really, you should covet the opening acts. Sometimes you'll wind up being a big fan. Look at Crash Kings. They opened for STP last show I went to and I adore them to pieces. Look at every band you love. Once they were the opener, correct?

Stone Temple Pilots came on shortly after Tab exited and it was glorious right out of the gate. Rarely do I know all the words to all the songs for a band but I do for three and Stone Temple Pilots is one of them. Even Tool doesn't have the honor and Tool is the best thing since sex. I don't need to name the other bands. If you don't know by now then it's not important.

(This is also not about Jake, in spite of him singing the whole STP catalogue on a regular basis and the cover band at the church and any other way you want to kick the legs out from under me. Let's focus now, people.)

Ha. See what I did there?

Forgive me, Jesus. I'm running on so little sleep it's criminal. Positively deranged and energized. I'm going to be fun later when I crash.

They RULED. The sound was great, the merch table was quick and prices were low. I knew all the songs. They played Still Remains. They played Silvergun Superman. They played everything else too. They covered Dancing Days. The World's Biggest Zeppelin Fan beside me (Ben, you turkeys) was on Cloud eleven. He got to shake hands and clap backs with just about everyone in our section. They all thought he was cooooooool. And for once no one spilled beer on my head or my coat. Mostly because the beer lineups were intolerable, or so I heard. The air was also higher quality than usual, with a welcome absence of weed smoke for a show. I don't care if you smoke it, but I don't want to breathe it in.

Oh and beforehand? Ben and I went for a romantic dinner for two. To Subway. He had roast chicken, I had the club. We are so romantic it's just sick, isn't it? I actually love Subway so fuck off. I had so much fun I woke up smiling. On three hours sleep no less. That's something right there. I usually still hold on to my tiny snarl after six hours.

I bet the leather girls do too.

(PS I took an informal poll of those who are awake and no one knows ALL of the Tool lyrics.)

(PSS Switchfoot is one of the other bands. I know every word.)

(PSSS That's it. Not saying any more. Hahaha.)

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The rest.

By Tuesday I had had enough of Ben's refusal to stay straight and when I get frustrated enough, I usually melt down all over everyone like a little blonde volcano. There is nowhere to run. You're doomed where you stand.

The warnings had sounded for days. I'll not apologize.

Tuesday morning I went to three meetings, excused Ben's absence as scheduling conflicts and then to my surprise he actually managed to show up for lunch, a date we had planned as a little mini-getaway just for us. I had already ordered. Who eats lunch alone in LA? Bridget does, that's who, two days in a row, no less.

In other words, I didn't have any grace left.

I lit into him quietly and he put his head right down and looked me in the eye the whole time. He didn't make any faces or crack any jokes or order any alcohol. He just listened and we ate, sharing my plate and I talked. When we were finished he was still staring at me but I was as done with the conversation as I was with the seafood salad and I sat back until the sun was in my eyes and watched him.

Let's go home.

I nodded. He is sober, pale. I am red. Embarrassed. Tired. Flushed with the rage and frustration and sickness of being so incredibly angry with someone and I'm well aware he could turn around at any second and tell me to fuck off and go away and then he might disappear for six months. He's done it before. When we were just friends we fought just as much if not more and even without stakes we could find a way to hurt each other badly, repeatedly.

Within an hour we have a plane and we are saying our goodbyes. One meeting slated for Tuesday evening will be rescheduled as a video call. I call Ruth and Henry and let them know we will be home in time for dinner. They are elated. Lochlan wears his headphones on the plane. I resolve to finish whatever resentments off Ben and I have inflight so that it doesn't come home with us. While I am thinking that, Ben is doing much the same.

At no point does he tell me he couldn't deal with saying goodbye to Nolan again or with knowing that Jacob's third deathiversary was fast approaching and very little has changed. Ben's solution to that was to make a mess of himself knowing that I would step in and become the functional one.

Ben sees things that the others don't. No one else would have known to do that but he took the chance and he did it anyway.

To Ben the risk of not being able to stop drinking after he started was far less painful than the risk of letting Bridget climb down and jump into her black hole again. He doesn't want to find me in the cupboard or locked in the library or standing in the bathroom sticking pins into my hands or crying inconsolably through the night. He doesn't want me to be miserable.

What can I say? I guess I married a selfish guy. In any case we are home a day early which makes me happy and Lochlan got the gig which makes everyone happy and all is well on the corporate side of things which makes the devil boss happy and I am going around now battening down the hatches in my mind and boarding up the windows to my soul because it's going to be a rough weekend in there, I think. Quietly and without any plans at all. Everyone is here. Everyone is safe. Everyone is okay and so if you need me, I'll be in the concrete room with the angels right through Sunday, what would have been Jacob's fortieth birthday.

Thankfully I'll be there with Ben, mostly because he won't let go of my hand. That's good. I can't do this without him.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Monday evening (sparing change).

Batman calls as I am dressing for dinner, wanting to know what my plans are. I tell him there are fourteen of us going to a restaurant in Beverly Hills for dinner. I've already dressed, put my hair up with half a dozen pins thanks to the length instead of my historical two and stepped into my shoes. Then I stepped back out. Dangerous ones. I'll put them on when Ben gets back or when Lochlan knocks on the door to get me as soon as the driver is here.

Batman asks about Ben's frame of mind and I shake my head. He can't see me and so he continues to wait for me to find some words for him or a lie or something, anything in response.

Nothing comes. Eventually even the most patient men stop waiting. Patience is something that is lost so easily once found. It's a fickle friend. A curse.

Like me.

He wants me to come and see him instead. We could meet. He could maybe make some calls. At the very least I am to call him when I collect Ben. They can get Ben some help here. He likes it here.

California has always given Ben all of the ingredients to make and keep secrets. She is like a lover to him. He knows people. He has favorite places and he is probably at one of those instead of in the meetings he should be in right now. Dinner is another meeting. More collaborations, bigger deals, everyone working together and pulling in more talent and reaching further and counting more money and adding more clients and artists and producers and handlers and it's exhausting but it's been amazingly successful right out of the gate and the reason for that success right now is probably in some seedy bar down on the strip getting shitfaced because he can't deal with life.

I can feel my heart break when I listen to Ben plead for exclusivity in all things. I feel it break when he asks for time to get to know me, the way the others know me. I feel it break when I answer him because I can't change the past. And I feel it break when he walks out the door and says he can't deal with this. You say it's not my fault that he drinks? That it has nothing to do with me?

I say you're all fucking liars.

I find Ben and I don't call Batman back when I do. I had no intentions of calling him.

Monday mourning (this will take forever).

Summer girl
Set me on fire
I walked right into the men's room and asked Ben what in the hell he thought he was doing.

He turned around, zipped up and grinned his stupid, awesome grin that makes the pieces of my heart glossy and warm, softly rounding their edges as they melt.

Peeing? Is that okay?

The drinking. What in the fuck, Ben?

A guy in a blue three-piece suit with a soul patch walks in and does a double-take. He turns and walks back out.

Halloween was yesterday, buddy. Ben laughs at the closed door.

You should talk. I don't like it when he judges people for their quirks when his are so plentiful he pulls a wagon around behind him holding them all, like a little boy who refuses to leave his race cars at home.

He reaches over and locks the door.

I can wash my hands while you yell at me?


I wait for him. I can't have conversations over running water. He dries his hands and looks in the mirror, raising his eyebrows, trying on a few demonic and hilarious expressions. I am biting my tongue so hard. I wish I could laugh but this is serious and he's still joking around when there are no jokes left to be told.

Finally he turns around again. I'm going to vomit, I hate how this feels.

Could you stop, please?

Drinking? Or making faces.


Sure, princess, whatever you want.

But I know he isn't going to and I'm right. We return to lunch and he smiles broadly for the clients and when the server returns he asks for another drink. We are still waiting for food. It's very busy here. Lochlan looks at me and I look away. Composure hangs by a thread, stretched across the table and wrapped three times around the rungs on the back of these ridiculous Queen Anne chairs. When I feel as if it's going to break I get up again.

Excuse me.

No one hears me. I'm never loud enough.

I collect my bag off the arm of the chair and Kenny grabs my hand.

Bridge? Where are you going?

Not feeling well. I mumble it and pull my hand away, stalking to the front door, planning to ask the host to call a taxi for me so I can go back to the hotel and pack and get the fuck out of here. Lochlan follows me to the front and before I can say anything he pulls me outside. We are asked if everything is alright and he tells them it's a personal matter, not to worry.

Not to worry. Ha. Bullfuckingshit.

Lochlan can't follow me anyway. This meeting is for his benefit. A job. Another big job that will keep his head down for months on end but a highly lucrative, visible job nevertheless. And Lochlan has finally reached that magical stage some of the others have already realized. Doing what you love for pay. They're going to make him work for it. They are nervous because he's a one man show, in spite of the company, and so they wanted to meet him in person. And Ben got him the connections to the job so Ben can sit there and pretend he's Mr. Wonderful all he wants. He can do no wrong, because his work (for this particular client anyway) is finished and he has already moved on to new projects.

I leave. I have my own meetings to attend this afternoon on Caleb's behalf and I really need to collect myself and remember why I came down here in the first place. For money.

I make myself feel better by eating lunch at a hot dog cart three blocks from my hotel. A kid in nicer clothes than Caleb asks me for change and I give him $20 Canadian. He gives it back and asks for my company instead. I smile and tell him to find someone his own age. He laughs and asks me if I know anything at all about this city.

I watch him walk away and I realize I hate it here.