Thursday, 30 June 2011

(Continuity, by request.)

I had a secret chair. I would put my writing binder in the top of the milk crate that held Lochlan's tools, and then I could sit on it and be comfortable while I waited for him. I couldn't lift the crate or pull it to put it in the shade but I sat there anyway. It wouldn't be long. The freckles were mostly melted together on my face at this point anyway.

It was the first day of July.

I could see the motorcycle. Lochlan was coming back from the big grocery store on the other side of town. Lashed behind him was a cardboard box full of provisions for our trip. He had already paid to take the camper and we were going to drive up to Cavendish and stay at one of the campgrounds on the beach for a week.

Lochlan was eighteen and he had been working every day for the past three months and he was really looking forward to a break without whistles and megaphones and hours of sunshine enough for work dictating his daily routine. We had eaten little and spent nothing since my birthday to allow for this one massive trip.

Massive. I couldn't even fathom going that far without the show. And this trip was going to fix everything that he broke, or so he told me. All I knew is that I loved adventure and I loved Lochlan and the camper too but I was afraid of the dark. I was afraid of being an island away from help. I didn't have any money. I didn't have any identification save for a library card. Lochlan carried my papers in his back pocket every single day, the ones that said he had temporary legal guardianship of me. Those were the only papers that were important.

He smiled when he saw me and pulled the bike right up to the door of the camper. He opened the door and then motioned me inside and started handing things to me. Bread. A bag of apples. A few six-packs of juice bottles. Pop. Chips. Peanut butter and jam. A box of spaghetti and a jar of sauce. Special K. When he passed me the cereal he said we would buy cartons of milk at the store when we got there and fresh vegetables and meat too.

I wrinkled my nose.

Okay, hot dogs, then, miss picky.

You can eat whatever you want.

He smiled and kept passing me things. Toilet paper. Bug spray.

I held up the bug spray.

The mosquito count is high up there, peanut.

Did you get honey?

Honey? Yes. Here.

Okay, I'm good. What about licorice?

Licorice? No, Bridget. We're not buying candy.

Yeah, I know. But boo.

I am holding out my hand for the next item but he shakes his head. That's it.

We don't eat this well usually. My stomach rumbles at the sight of all these groceries. I look at Lochlan and he tells me we're going to have a week where we don't worry about anything.

You promise?

I promise. He holds out his pinky and I lock mine around it. Swear.

You ready?

Yeah. I run and grab my binder and he puts the tools in under the table. Then he gives me a quick kiss on the forehead and starts the bike again. He'll take it to Chris and Chris will run him back. Meanwhile I start storing the food anywhere I can find space. A tight fit. There's one little cupboard. By the time I'm finished it's tucked everywhere. We'll never find anything because I'll forget and now every day will be a scavenger hunt of sorts.

I slide the last box of pasta in beside his drawing books when I hear the bike outside and he is home. My stomach flutters. I'm excited. I wish I had a new sundress or something to look pretty for him but we don't spend our money on things like that.

I hear him call out a See you later man, and the bike roars off again. Lochlan comes inside and hands another bag to me. A small white one this time. I peek in and I don't know what it is.

Ribbons. So you have some variety. He smiles sheepishly. I dump the contents of the bag into my lap and squeal. Hair ribbons. All velvet. Every color of the rainbow. Pastels and brights. Some are embroidered too. One had sequins sewn onto it. He fishes out a thin, plain pink one and says here, this one would be pretty right now. He pulled my braid out of my hoodie and tied the ribbon around the end of it.

These are beautiful.

Bring them up into the truck, then. A huge smile remained on his face.

Are we leaving?

Yes. Let's get this show on the road.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Tie it tightly or it will slip off.

That's as small as it goes, peanut.

I'll just push it up my arm then.

I trace the carving of the bird and smooth my fingers down the leather band. It's dark brown and it serves to highlight my golden arms, toasted by the rare sun. If the sun is out I am out too, turning lightly, soaking it up for the next round of endless heavy summer rains. The weather here is strange and shockingly, mildly unpredictable. The bracelet is more unpredictable. It's a talisman, a very personal one and I'm wearing it for protection from their hearts, maybe. It does not belong to me, it's his. Lochlan put it on me yesterday morning and it's been there ever since.

Late last evening we sat at the island while he patiently evaluated the latest round of figure drawings I was working on. Proportions. Measuring out limbs and height in faint straight lines, constructive criticisms that left me frustrated but eager to try harder and by midnight I had completed several decent forms. It's a slow road but by the end of the month I will have filled this sketchbook and be on the next.

And a meeting. There was a full-complement family meeting yesterday, Caleb included but instead of continuing this stream of consciousness, I need to go collect my children now. It's their final day of school. Next year Ruth enters Junior high as a freshly minted grade 7 student and Henry begins grade 5. I don't know how THAT all happened but here it is and it feels weird and I may talk about it more or we may just head straight for the movies. It's Transformers day and that's a big deal too. We have bets on whether Rosie Huntington-Whiteley can fill Megan Fox's shoes, er...shorts.

The verdict? She can.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Noon on third.

Low tide is when you catch all the treasures the sea can hold so close to shore. Clams. Mussels by the thousands. Beautifully tumbled colored glass. Pretty shells. Ripples so deep and perfect you trip over them as the beach grows exponentially, stretching out in front of you. Your blank canvas, your home. Your own personal exhalation, distilled down to tiny grains of glass, seaweed and salt air so thick you can cut it with a knife.

It's not like you'll be alone when you get there, but it's always worth a shot. For the record he said the water was warm. I stuck my hands in and he was right. He's always right.

Monday, 27 June 2011

This is your Ben on vacation.

She tells me things, I listen well
Drink the wine and save the water
Skin is smooth, I steal a glance
Dragon flies are gliding over
Oh, I'll beg for you. Oh, you know I'll beg for you.
Everything is winding down, spinning out slowly, counter-clockwise, hypnotically, crazily-lazily against the grain. An optical illusion of stability when we were holding on with our teeth by the bitter end.

Tomorrow we'll wake up different. Tomorrow morning I have a coffee date with someone special. He's very tall and has that one lick of hair that sticks out to one side and yet he doesn't give a shit about much of anything except for me. For me his appetite is huge and endless. He is always hungry. He is never satisfied and never ever full.

I can live with that.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Third eye blind.

We gotta live with how it feels
Down there inside
The feelings that you fight
The demons that you hide
Know you're not alone in how you feel down there inside
We’ve all got things we hide
You feel down there inside
Underneath the recently purchased, starched dress shirt to play the role is a juggernaut. He is so strong. I don't know how he became so strong. When I wasn't looking his resolve was sneaking in, adding strength so that no one would ever again make an attempt at a second-guess. You sell your soul to the devil to gain that kind of power overnight. He went one step further and took over the office of the incarnation of evil, just to be sure.

He gathers my hair in one hand, pulling it hard, wrenching my head back. When my mouth opens in protest I am drowned in good whiskey. I am gulping it down, trying to get past it, gasping for air. Ruin turns to rescue, he pulls me in close against his chest, smoothing my hair back, telling me he is sorry. Why is he lying? I push away and look at his eyes, barely veiled, crazed with excitement, need. I turn to leave and he takes my arms, pulling them behind my back, pulling me back into him, his head coming down beside my ear. He tells me everything is okay. I nod and my knees buckle. He steers me to the wall, pushing me against it, turning me around roughly after tying the ribbon over my eyes. I reach up to pull it away but he twists my hand back down. I can feel him breathing against my hair. Controlled. Anticipatory.


We are standing on the edge of the cliff, so high we can't see the bottom and he is taking mere seconds to decide whether or not to cross this line. Again.

I already know how this story ends and I throw us over the side, climbing up his limbs, clawing my way across his skin looking to find the strength he took from me to feed his own power. I find it and he catches me. I am forced back down, turned inside out as he takes me in his arms, kissing my breath away in the dark. I ask him not to do this but my words are falling at a different speed. It isn't until he is finished that he reaches to pull down the ribbon from my eyes that the monster retreats and the regret floods into his eyes in the most beautiful shade of medium blue.

A hard kiss lands against my lips. I push his head away. His hand comes up around my throat. We are eye to eye now as a softer kiss finds a place to land under my nose. There's no strength in me at all. I can't fight him. Surrender and the monster gears up once more, fed by the prolonged darkness. His hands replace the ribbon over my eyes. I try to peel his fingers up one by one. It's hopeless.

His words are landing in my ears, making ripples on the surface so I focus on those instead. I am calm. I know these words. I know these hands. I know this blood. No more fighting. I let myself go slack. I am rewarded with another kiss. One so tender this time it takes my breath with it. I am pulled into his arms and held. A hold that you know would last forever if only you had the chance to find out.

The words that could take a promise and turn it into a lifetime.

A love that brings convention to its knees.

And a hate that turns it all to cinders, blowing on burned fingers, hiding behind the flames as the wind stirs the embers into the air, coating my world. I kick the fire and walk away when the sun rises. I know he won't follow. He'll just wait for me to come back. I always do, even though I didn't sell my soul to the devil for anything, no sir. He just took it. There wasn't a thing anyone could do.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Daniel added potato chips to his hamburger, piling them up underneath the bun, then crushing the whole thing flat and taking a bite.

Why did you do that?

They're dill pickle chips. We're out of pickles so at least these taste like pickles, you know?

I wish they made chips that taste like honey mustard, Schuyler said.

I wish they made chips that taste like Skittles, I said.

Ben picked that moment to walk into the kitchen.

Hey Benny, what do you want your chips to taste like?

Ben grabbed a chip from Schuyler's plate and tossed it into his mouth. He didn't miss a beat.


Matthew 6:33 Seek ye first the kingdom of Jake.

(Here. A little story about the last time I picked up a drink at noon. The day after I left Cole. It was five years ago in April. I married Ben the day before the second anniversary of that event. Funny how Jacob managed to fill up so much space in so little time, isn't it? That's all we had was those sixteen months there in the middle. It's the blink of an eye now but back then the days were endless.)
How the hell did you find me
I've been hiding miles away
Maybe you don't know it
I still think about you every single day
I unlocked the bolt and cracked the screen door open, just enough for one eye. I rested my head against the doorjamb and tried to untangle my expression and get my eyes to look in the same direction.

What is it?

Why are you drunk?

I'm not..I was sleeping or crying or something so my eyes are red. What is it? I repeat. The expression is clear now. Annoyance.

Bridget, I can smell your breath from here. I can't imagine what it's like at the top of the steps so for my own safety I think I'll stay right here.

Good idea. I slammed the door shut and walked away, back down the hall to the kitchen and out through the back porch where I resumed my residency in the sunshine trying to feel anything but what I was feeling right now.

FUCK. His head appeared at the gate, his arm reaching over to flip the latch.

Your nap looks like it needs a refill.

Naps are a singular activity.

Not where I'm from.

Where you're from people kiss fish on the lips and wait for the bear to see his shadow on Groundhog day.

Right so growing up in that kind of twisted environment, trust a man when he tells you he knows you're drunk.

I laughed in spite of myself and I put my hands over my face. He pulled them away.

Bridget, anything you want to talk about, I'm here.

That's the problem. You're here. I depend on you to be able to talk to.

You have lots of people you can talk to.

Not like this. I wasn't looking away anymore. It takes him forever to be serious. Finally.

Everything will be fine.

How do you know?

Because it always is. Because it has to be. Because things work out and if they don't something else works. I don't have all the answers. This is faith. You either believe or you go crazy. Which is the better way, this (he held up my empty glass), or this (he put the glass down and put both hands over his heart).

I don't like change, Jacob.

Oh, hell, I know that, princess. I am growing old while you make good on these promises.

I want to be sure.

Life holds no guarantees.

Well, it should. Haven't we earned that much? I'd like guarantees and fortune tellers with credentials and a place in the sun, smile plastered on my face.

He laughed. How many drinks, exactly?

One. Just one.

Hell, what a lightweight. You need a little Newfie in you.

I need a big fucking Newfie in me.

There's the blush, moving at a thousand miles an hour up from his collar to spread across his face, flip up over his ears and make it up underneath the blonde hair. Score. He is as red as a poppy and grinning ear to ear at last.

Maybe later. After you brush your teeth. Your breath is shaking my faith in being able to kiss you without my eyes watering.

Wait until you get treated to my morning breath tomorrow, Jake.

You're too damned little to be so rotten. The fish back home ain't looking so bad now, you know that?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Oh. You. Just you wait until dinner if you think lunch is bad.

Caleb walks out onto the patio and drops a thick file folder on the glass table.

Everything is signed. You're right. The spin works for me.

I nod and take a sip of my drink. Gage made me a liquid lunch. Daniel will pick up the kids from school. I don't plan to inflict this mess of myself on anyone.

His legs aren't moving. I am texting Lochlan who is a hundred feet away in the garage. I finally look up. Caleb asks if he can have a chair but I don't hear him the first time. I am looking at his face. Or rather, his head. I jump out of my chair and wobble and he grabs my arms.

Drinking in the middle of the day?

What in the hell did you do to your hair?

Your manners are terrible. How many have you had?

I sit back down. This lounge chair is my new best friend.

One but Gage made it. Now answer my question.

Gage clearly has as much of a problem as everyone else. And I didn't do anything. The sun. You're drinking.

You've lightened your hair. Your hair is now the exact color Cole's used to be.

It's always been the same, Bridget. Sometimes I think you invent the parts of your life that suit your odd little mind. Including making me darker and more sinister.

I laugh. Cole's eyes were darker.

And his hair was the same, Bridget. The same.

PJ comes out to see what's up. He probably got a text from Lochlan. I can feel Lochlan's gaze on me even though I can't see him.

Caleb. What's up.

Oh, hello. Nothing is up. I brought the demise of the company to her majesty's feet only to find she's shitfaced in the middle of the day.

Want my update, PJ?

Sure, doll. Lay it on me.

I am most definitely not drunk, and Caleb is now dying his hair so he can look even more like Cole. Only he's denying it for some stupid reason. Vanity, probably. He thinks he can make me seem drunk or delusional but he's outnumbered. And mistaken if he thinks being more like Cole is the way to go here.

So.....I should go see if Loch needs help?

Probably a good idea, yes.

PJ makes a hasty exit and Caleb pulls off his suit jacket. It's twenty-five degrees in the sun and he still needs to look as if he fell out of a GQ foldout. It works.

Cole never dressed up.

I know that.

He didn't even wear a suit to our wedding.

He led a different life, princess.

Yeah and you're not him. So STOP TRYING TO BE HIM, Okay?

Would you like another drink, princess?

Yeah. Maybe a double this time.

I'll go make one for you.

You do that.

He has not returned.

Yet, that is.

His suitjacket is still here. I should be drunk. That would be awesome.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Summer forty-one.

Hey you're my weakness
Still my lover in my mind
And you still control me
Summer I put you so high
Hey did you forget you could never get enough
Well I'll always love you
No matter how far you run
I forgot to appreciate the lead-in to the longest day of the year. I just noticed two days ago that the sun is now rising with me instead of sleeping in, and the children are restless and hard to quiet when it's time to turn lights off for nine because the daylight still reigns. And now after today the sun will begin dipping low in the sky before we hit the sheets and will be lazy and hard to rouse in the mornings.

Ah, summer. Like a six-week hedonistic birthday in favor of barbecuing hot dogs while still dressed in wet bathing suits. Choosing to do nothing but lie in the shade with a good book. Potato chips as a side dish every night of the week. Staring into the bokeh between the blinding grains of sand juxtaposed against the dark teal and white jagged line of the ocean. Whole days to be planned on the fly as they are spent. Whole days to explore instead of wait.

All year I wait for you and now here you are.

All year I make my mental lists of the things I will do, and I leave it in my head, pushing it away, shoving it into some dark drawer full of memories in that stupid building that people keep breaking into and stealing from and I choose to be superstitious in lieu of disappointment, just in case. I know where I learned to be this way and I can't help it but I know I will push this time. Push past doubt, juxtapose adventure against that stark unfamiliarity and the rarity of pine trees again and the sea. The sea laid out before me as a feast for my sore eyes. A saltwater, stinging salve for my ever-panicked mind.

This is what I live for.



Monday, 20 June 2011

I drew these. Yes, I realize it's a terrible photograph and maybe you're going to point out the places where I drew wrong or whatever, but really, I don't care.

I drew these. And I think they are awesome.

Just like me.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Strangled with a pink velvet ribbon.

The civility is crushing and astounding all at once. Caleb is here to spend the majority of the day with us. Because it's Father's Day and the devil created a son who is as good and heavenly as they come and he can only stand in awe of the boy who someday will be King.

I escaped for much of the afternoon to the rainy dim verandah in a warm sweater and jeans but bare feet, hair tied in possibly the messiest braid ever with a treasured pink ribbon that is threatening to unravel (just like my evening) to draw with the new drafting pencils Ben bought for me yesterday and Lochlan's giant copy of Anatomy For The Artist.

I ventured inside only when it was time to begin cooking. New Jake will help because he tends to remain behind me on the fringe and Sam should be here soon and I'll let Duncan wake himself up from his nap whenever he wishes because I saw his light on long into the night when I ventured downstairs for orange juice.

is somehow looking less purple-and-brown today and Ben is unwinding, beginning in a slow counter-clockwise spiral, now approaching out of control and I had to peel him off the sheets and wrap his hand around a cup of coffee and he is very jovial and noncommittal about the day overall so I believe that means he is as relaxed as one can be when forced to spend a day off with the devil in house. As usual when Ben has time off he bounces from one activity to the next. It's difficult to watch.

I'm sure I am blamed for the mass defection which will ultimately result in the company folding and I am used to the heat but at the same time it was not my decision. I had to be led into it, their hands held out, calling my name along with gentle words of encouragement as I walked forward to reach where they stood, again on the other side of a Big Decision. I still have my doubts. I still worry too much and I'm still going to hold my breath but I'm also going to start cooking dinner because when people are well fed they are a heck of a lot calmer and move slower, besides.

Happy Fathers Day to all the dads that are here, dads that are not here, stepdads, surrogate dads, and understudy dads too. You have no idea how much we appreciate and love you all. Now keep your fists to yourselves through dinner or else.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill, and there was the world of longing and baffled common-sense.

It went better than I expected, actually.

This is a higher stakes version of the game you two played in high school, isn't it? You've developed such an obvious pattern. I wonder if your husband sees this. Oh, he wouldn't, would he? You chose yet another man who wasn't there to witness your history firsthand and so it's easier to escape detection.

Leave Ben out of this.

Ben is going to be a large amount of collateral damage. More than Jacob ever was. Are you ready for that, Bridget?

Just sign and date the letter so that you acknowledge Lochlan's resignation, please.

I'm not signing anything.

Then he will have to sue you.

You two don't want to play that game with me, dollface.

I squeeze my eyes shut. When I open them again Caleb is still there. Fuck. Fuck reality. Fuck business. Fuck the past. I can't take this.

Yes, we do. Sign mine too. I don't want the company.

Too late. It's already yours.

I'll liquidate it and put it into a trust if you can't honor the release clause. I'm well within the time frame.

You'll put all of your boys out of work.

They are leaving as well. I have all the letters here to be signed.

Got him. Finally rocked. He just stared at me and I watched disbelief float across his blue eyes, and it morphed into some sort of quiet terror.

All of you.

Yes. Oh, and we'll be taking John with us, so you can call Mike back.

Quick recovery. He is smooth. He walks to the window in an attempt to not give away anything else via body language or the fact that I can read his face so easily these days even I am surprised. Back in control.

Your terms are up. Of course.

They've been up for months.

I was under the impression only Loch would be leaving.

Sometimes it's better that way.

And Ben?

Ben has already finished. This project was a bad idea and he won't be taking on any more for you.

You know what happens when he is idle.

Maybe we should move to the table so you can sign easily.

Just put them down, Bridget. I will go over them all today and you can pick them up later.

No, actually I have plans so I need to be out of here in thirty minutes.

And their packages? You can prepare those? Or should I call the bank?

I can look after them.

This is a betrayal.

Then you should have made the contracts longer. I appreciate what you did and I imagine it was hard to see me suffer but I know you did for my own good. I am happier here.

So let me get this straight. All of you are going to give up this massive amount of earning potential and security and recognition.

The recognition does not come from your efforts, Cale. It comes from their talent.

What about the money, Bridget?

I shook my head. He is so single-minded sometimes it makes me sick.

They have jobs to go to. We'll have money.

It's not enough, Bridget.

It will have to be enough. It was before.

And you always talked about starving. It kills me. That's why I helped.

It shouldn't. You won't be the one going hungry. And you didn't help. You bought me. Cole sold me out from under him.

I won't let you struggle, or the children. I promised him that much.

They will be fine. And you MAKE me struggle. You get off on it.

Bridget, I think that you're upset and-

You know what, Caleb? I think you're right. I'll leave everything here and you can sign and send it over later. Everything is in order.

Don't do this.

It's too late. It's done.

You're going to starve.

It's clearly the better choice because you're killing me anyway. At least this way I can do it on my own terms with my own methods.

Your maturity level really is stuck at twelve years old, isn't it, Princess?

I wonder why, Caleb? Do you really want me to explain that for everyone here today?

He turned back from the window and remembered the entire board of directors was sitting at the table watching as everything went up in flames. The company can't survive as a shell. I want to care because he looks so sad, but I don't understand a thing about business at such a tender age. The only thing I know is that I want to protect my boys and it is a reflex to do so, a Lord of the Flies instinct that they instilled in me from the very beginning.

Caleb was not used, he volunteered himself as the facilitator. The boys carried this on their backs. They don't have to do that anymore.

And as Lochlan said to me many years ago as we lay in the back of the pickup truck on a warm night at the end of the summer watching shooting stars,

The real world is scary but it's exciting too, peanut. You can't grow in a circus. It's a bubble. There's no air. Remember in the book? The part about needing to have rules to obey? That we're not savages? This is that part of life now. And we're going to be okay.

Friday, 17 June 2011

A short little fairy-fail for you.

Met a man
I was overwhelmed
Met a man
And yes
He helped
Met a man and he helped my cry the driest tears out from my eyes

Met a man and he looked so kind
Understanding I was blind
Met a man covered in red and he found a way inside my head

Met a man on top of the hill
Met a man and his cup was spilled
Met a man and he took me home and he made me feel alone
The jovial glad-to-be-alive mindset has been replaced with epic frustration. He's spending the evening trying to juggle fire with one hand. His bandages are blackened, his mouth is set in a line that I wouldn't cross if someone paid me and either he's going to burn down the house, the yard or most likely and deliberately the garage because the garage is now enemy number one, holding his remaining motorcycles. The plan is to sell all but one and keep one for tooling around the bay only because I had a giant panic attack when they began to talk about when Lochlan was going to have enough healing in his fingers to get back on a bike, because they are firm believers in getting right back into things. That's why when I was twenty-one and I crashed my mom's SUV, Cole came and got me and made me drive his car home. So I wouldn't be afraid and never drive again. I took that advice when I got married as well. Right back into things! Don't be afraid, stupid!

But sadly, I am still afraid of extending hearts too far, lest they break and stop working and make people die. Right, Cole? There's one chance I won't take, okay, sweetheart? Except maybe with your brother. I've been trying to kill him subtly for years now.

So Lochlan has grand plans to keep riding and I am constantly scanning the sales pages telling them precisely how much money they would get if they sold all of the bikes because from here on out Bridget is attempting to mandate air bags, roll cages, seatbelts, and certain life, instead of death. Teams of ninja assassins to scope out all danger would be nice too, if you know of any.

I'm pretty sure my hair will now grow in completely white after last week and I can't seem to leave Lochlan alone for even a minute, sitting on the edge of his knee while he eats his cereal and reads the paper, sitting on the floor of his closet while he chooses t-shirts with one good hand and shoves the rest of the pile back against the wall on the shelf, loitering in the bathroom doorway when he's clearly *ahem* otherwise engaged trying to take a pee, all manner of insanely clingy behaviors that attest to one fear I can't and won't overcome.

If he spends the rest of his life juggling fire by the sea, telling me to cut my bangs already and asking me to make the foods he likes the most as he paints pictures that come from the inside of his mad mind, I will be so happy.

Now I just have to work on the big one, who figures he is immortal and would dent a truck before a truck dents him and doesn't take any time to think about death because there are places Ben's mind does not need to go, who will happily invite company in when he's in the bathroom and tries to do awful things to me when I am trying to pee and he plays the guitar all damn day where I can't hear it and I wish he would just do it at home instead, sell his bikes too and never ever leave again.

I will bring the words, Ben will supply the melody and Lochlan will paint the surroundings in glorious color. Nothing will change, everyone will be safe and I won't have to worry ever again.

Yes, I know. Good luck to me.

Oh, but what you don't know is the tides are shifting as we speak. More tomorrow. I have another meeting to go to.
You're troubled and boy you are desperate
You're troubled at home and I know what's wrong
I see you fading so I'll help you up tonight
Come up here in the air
Come up here in the air
Come up here in the air tonight

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Well, now.

For those taking offense to my care and coddling of Lochlan, my refusal to write about Ben under siege, my inside joke with the boys that I am one wife to a dozen men and hell, even the color of my toothbrush, well I just have two words.

Hahaha, no not those ones. I already said those ones and clearly you didn't listen.

Don't read.

I don't know what else I can say.

I don't do current events so well, I despise politics and I'm not going to mommy-blog unless I'm absolutely bursting over something and really I don't have enough talents to pull off a gardening/cooking/home decorating Marth Stewart blog but I have my boys and my words.

That's what I know.

Since I was eight years old these boys, as a collective, have been the center of my universe. They're men now but they are still MY boys because they were boys once, in the beginning anyway.

So that's what I write about.

Some come and go. Some die and some live. Some love and some fight. Some drink and some heal. Some create and some destroy. There are other journals you can read. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

While Vancouver burned.

Real men shake hands after a game. Real men turn off the television and go back to life after pointing out that maybe next year will be the year. Real men downplay the violence and point out that it's finished and now we get back to living decently. Real men KEEP THEIR BEARDS ALL YEAR ROUND, people. (I'm kidding. Go ahead and shave now. Just be prepared for my sad face when I see you.)

Congratulations to the Bruins. They played incredibly well, especially Tim Thomas. He was so fun to watch. Unlike the news footage from downtown after the game was over. There will be enough coverage available to you should you want to see for yourselves. I came in here ready to point out that life is not like the movies, and then I saw this photo (click to make it bigger).

And I changed my mind.

(Photo credit: Richard Lam)

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Due to collective family superstition I can't talk about the game so here. Have this instead.

He said, "Come here kid and I'm gonna teach you with all my fancy fire.
Come here kid and I'm gonna seat you on top of this hill.
I can 'cause you are blind and boy you are desperate.
You're troubled at home and I know what's wrong.
I see you fading so I'll help you up tonight.
Come up here in the air tonight."
There's a beautiful huge wall of rhododendron on my street and the boys are fascinated by it presently. Apparently it's a living hornets nest through and through. Ben said the sound was positively unreal, almost like an engine or an aircraft when you are standing right beside it. The boys are stunned that no one has been chased down the street by a swarm of hornets already.

They told me to check it out. Not because I would get stung (odds are I won't because I grew up in a beekeeping environment and have exactly one sting to my credit in life) but because this was an interesting thing to check out. The dog walk gets boring sometimes, especially when we can't go into the wood (forbidden due to current black bear density and the whole love affair with The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon)

I stood beside the wall of fading flowers. Nothing. I could see the hornets. I could see dozens of the little fuckers. I just couldn't hear them. At all. I went home and put in my hearing aids and I went back. Still NOTHING. Cranked them up all the way. Nothing. Dragged PJ back with me. He was all JESUS. Can you believe that roar?

I just can't hear them and now I'm wondering what other sounds are gone.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Lightswitches and lemonade and ducks, all in a row.

(I still want to dress up like the nurses from Silent Hill, just so you know it's one of the best things, forever and ever.)
She tells me things, I listen well
Drink the wine and save the water
Skin is smooth, I steal a glance
Dragon flies are gliding over
Oh, I'll beg for you
Oh, you know I'll beg for you
I was always good at anticipating what Lochlan needed, even when I couldn't be all that much help at such a young age, running ahead, blonde braids flying out behind me along with the ties on my dress to wait by the garage door for him to catch up so he could push the heavy metal door across the crumbled concrete threshold. Once inside I would reach way up to hit all the light switches along the wall. I turned on the radio and he would smile, half pleased, half confused. The little downy duckling was imprinted thoroughly and no one ever questioned it again. They still don't, if they know what's good for them.

He would unscrew the thermos and pour cold lemonade into the cup, passing it to me first, warning me not to spill it. He would smile wider when I drank it all, holding carefully with two hands, breathless afterward. It was a hot summer. He was always careful to see that I didn't get dehydrated.

I poured him a tall glass of lemonade over ice last evening and put it just above his right hand on the table. He took a long drink and thanked me and I say you're welcome and we are formal with manners and utterly non-verbally familiar with everything else.

Caleb rolls his eyes. He has one eye on the game but we are losing so one eye only. Do you spoon feed him too, Bridget?

If someone wants lemonade in this house, I am happy to fetch it for them.

Like a puppy.

Like a wife.

Except you're not his wife.

I stop. I'm not doing this now, here.

Lochlan reaches over with his good hand and squeezes my fingers and fires a question about the game to PJ, who is still sitting three inches from the front of the television blocking the whole damn thing, weeping softly, wearing his LUONGO 1 jersey and his lucky gloves. PJ's head drops but he doesn't answer. PJ is taking the Stanley Cup a little too seriously and we are going to ignore his dramatics as long as we dare.

By now Jacob would have been looking down into Caleb's face from about kissing distance, letting him know it was time to call it a night and I hate comparisons but Ben has one eye on the game and one on tuning his guitar and he's ignoring the brewing argument. He is satisfied and has stopped yelling now that they have replaced Roberto with Cory in the net only it's too late and the game comes back to Vancouver on Wednesday. He is too tired to wade into the gathering storm this time.

And I don't want the shoving to start. I don't want Caleb to start making his ice-cold observations and Lochlan to start throwing his red-hot punches with one good hand and I don't want any wars in my kitchen since the children are still awake. So far everything PJ says about the game is parroted by Henry, who is enjoying a testosterone-infused month with all the hockey on TV to extend the hockey in real life that has been over for a little while now.

Lochlan feels the tension and refuses to engage. Instead he makes a move to take off his hoodie and I jump up to help him. Caleb shakes his head as I gingerly stretch the cuff over Loch's casted hand.

Better? I ask Lochlan.

Yeah, thanks, peanut. He squeezes my hand once more and then lets go, taking his sweater from me and standing up. He is going to go and do some work, he's still playing catchup from missing so many days. He and I are spending a lot of time sitting together quietly while he heals. He has gone from bad to worse as of yesterday. His hand hurts, his head still hurts, the bruising is downright spectacular and he has weird all-over aches.

I know he will go to his wing, lock the door, take his pain meds and sit up all night trying to outrun the pain and not sleep to keep the nightmares away and he'll throw in the towel around five this morning, unlocking the door and waiting for me to magically appear in the early-dawn light to help him struggle out of his clothes and get him into bed. We tell each other that eventually he will get used to functioning with one hand proficiently and by then his cast will be off but for now he bites his tongue and lets me help him with even the most basic things.

He crawls into his bed and finds a comfortable position and I cover him with the sheet and then the duvet. Just the way he likes them. He is asleep before I can find a goodnight kiss from him in the dark. I open the window a little bit and turn off the lights on my way out. He will sleep until hunger wakes him at lunchtime and then he will eat a grilled cheese sandwich at the counter and then struggle through a shower, complaining that his hair is too long and tangled and call for me repeated to help with ridiculous things again that should come easy.

I tell him to just leave the shampoo open and to use the conditioner for once so that he'll be able to comb his hair instead of just leaving it and he won't listen because then he won't need me so much. He'll struggle into jeans and another hoodie, skipping the t-shirt this time because he has run out of patience for the day and he'll ask what I'm doing and if I can come and spend my time on him instead of banking it for later and I will but only for a little while because I am struggling to keep up still. I turn off eleven million lights a day, it seems as if the switches are always on his left so he just doesn't bother anymore. Little things.

I will bring him a lemonade so he doesn't get dehydrated and get a hug that lasts forever and it makes it all worth the weird feelings of trying to look after him when he has always been the one looking after me.

(For the record, from 1989 until 2003 we could not afford lemonade. Period. There was water and there was milk.)

Monday, 13 June 2011

Rainy Monday. Game 6. We could get the cup tonight so I have no time for fluff.

Oh lord. Only I could fall in love with a nine-hundred-dollar backpack. Suffice it to say, this falls into the category of still not worth the price despite being cute.

Again, just like Bridget.

My dentist can now afford the bag, however, after what I paid this morning to have my pearly whites looked after properly. My one consolation (if my teeth ever stop aching) is that my health insurance company and I are even for the year, or rather, I am ahead. I got my money's worth, in any case.

Good til Spring 2012 though they want to see me back mid-fall for another cleaning, so I have ninety days once again to change my name and dye my hair and find a rock to hide under because that was the first time I didn't come out of the dentist feeling just fine. I even had needles. I never ever get the needles, proclaiming to be tougher than the boys when it comes to pain.

Wait, maybe I'd feel a lot better had I skipped those freaking needles...

Okay, notes for next time, I guess.

Big Ben is next. Every prince needs a crown, after all.


Sunday, 12 June 2011

Distract, then rob them blind, Bridgie.

Instead of swimming? Or riding?

They know how to swim. They can ride whenever.

What does it have?

Everything. Unicycle, trapeze, juggling, acro.

We can teach them, Bridge. You and me.

We don't have trapeze equipment here, Loch.

We can get some.

You're crazy.

Just think how much fun they would have. That $700 would buy a lot of gear, peanut.




You worried about living vicariously through them?

No, I just know the experience would never be the same.

Naw. Can't be, can it? That show is closed.


But this would give them the skills, Bridget. Think about it. It's in their blood, too, you know.

Okay but on one condition.

What is it, peanut?

I get to teach them the unicycle.

Good luck to you.

Yeah, okay, you can have that. Tightrope for me, then. And pickpocketing.

Oh here we go. I thought you were done with that.

Never. Want your phone back?

What the fuck? I didn't even feel that!

I know. I've still got mad skills, babe.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Saved for the truly contrite.

So while you sit back and wonder why
I got this fucking thorn in my side
Oh my God, it's a mirage
I'm telling y'all, it's a sabotage
My mercy brought his release in the dark once again as we squared off, seeking the upper hand and finding no handholds, nothing to gain ground with, equal without sight. Perceptions reduced to touch and hearing so, yes, just touch for me, please and thank you.

His hand slides down around my neck, pinning me down to the cool sheets without purchase or fight. I hold my breath and wait. There is no time in the dark. Minutes slide into hours, seconds into years. One life slides into another. The dark extends to the four walls, pushing into and filling up the corners, the cracks under the doors, the screen holes in the open windows. It drips down my throat and violates my soul and I don't fight the dark, I welcome it.

Morning comes and the sun erases every last trace of the opaque night in favor of a clear day. Time resumes a measured march across my flesh and I am awake, reluctantly, once more.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Freaky Friday.

A man can be destroyed but not defeated
Even when he's lying black and blue
Living on a faith above his ceiling
Never going to know if it rings true
There's a voice inside that keeps him
On the path of righteousness
You can't break his stride
Or change his mind
because he won't second guess
In the dark the feverish, haunted desperation took over. Nightmares chased sleep through the stars. He is yelling for me. He can't find me in his dreams.

It breaks my heart because I know the night that terrorizes him and it isn't the accident but we have been warned all the same that some things might be..different. We know what to watch for, we almost know what to expect save for the fact that Lochlan's never done anything by the book, ever so this won't be anything we can explain away using convention, history or common sense.

His bruises are fading from green to black and purple and he is stiff and reckless today with his thoughts and his actions and Ben is being parental and logical and I keep checking the compass only there's no up or down, only NEWS so for the better part of the weekend, I think I'll switch to the magic eight ball for navigation.

Does that sound like a good idea?

Signs point to yes.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Three times zones and Tylenol three.

He's home.

Caleb went and fetched him with the plane in the wee hours of the morning (Satan never sleeps, didn't you know that?) and Lochlan was not very impressed but he apparently didn't say much and they arrived with such little fanfare it seemed almost criminal. Very anticlimactic. Caleb saw him inside and then said he would call later and if we needed anything to let him know, as if we would have forgotten anything. I knew he would bring Lochlan home safely. Caleb has to answer to me at the end of the day when it comes to Lochlan.

I then got the softest, most unsatisfying but welcome hug of my entire life from Lochlan, who then went into his room and climbed into bed fully clothed, falling asleep in about three seconds flat.

I'm very glad he is home.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

All clear.

I came home with a box of frozen pancakes instead of the waffles I stopped for, and tried to lock the front hall closet after hanging up my sweater, spending a good five minutes trying to ascertain where to put the key before realizing the hall closet has a static, benign knob, and will not lock. I am too tired to function.

I've been wearing the same clothes since Monday. I put them on Tuesday morning to run the dog out for his first walk. That was when we got the call that someone driving a car had merged into Lochlan's motorcycle on the highway, as he was making his way to Ontario for meetings. The force of the accident knocked him off the bike and he flew through the dark until he landed on the other side of a guardrail beside the highway in the tall grass. His helmet came off. The grass is what saved his (incredibly hard anyway) head, the armor he wears when he rides saved the rest of him.

His chin is black and purple from where the strap broke. His elbows and hips, coccyx and pride are bruised but he's alive. He's okay. And as soon as they are finished running tests he'll be coming home.

I was sent home this afternoon on the plane on account of not being much good to anyone. It turns out I'm not much good at home either. I would go back but PJ took all my stuff to keep me from doing that. He knows me well.

They thought Loch had brain damage. He asked for his wife. Then he asked for his wife's husband. We tried to explain and I'm sure we failed.

He remembers absolutely everything right up until they put him on the stretcher and then he blacked out from relief or exhaustion or shock. He broke three fingers of his left hand and somehow sheared off half of his right eyebrow and part of his lower lip, which is just ow-looking. His face is bruised. So bruised but the inside of his skull appears intact. He hurts all over but he's alive and he thinks I'm ridiculous for being relieved. That's a good sign, right? I've never been so happy to be scolded by him in my life.

Monday, 6 June 2011

May as well have a group dismissal here.

You folks are just amazing. Truly.

May I just stick my elbows through and step to the front, clear my throat and address all of you very kind and supportive folks to point out one tiny fact?

(Then I promise I will disappear back into the misery of missing people who aren't home today and really trying to get all my shit done because it's game day and the city is a very busy place today and really I am so far behind I actually never bothered with grocery shopping and that is truly unlike me.)

Really? Okay, then, here goes:

Lochlan doesn't play for the NHL.

None of my boys are presently in Boston. Funny how y'all went from rock band guesses to hockey teams in a matter of seconds and yes, I agree, it's really damned suspicious when the holy triad of awesome for the Canucks just happened to maybe kinda used to play for the Moose in Winnipeg for the past, oh seven years.

Aw shucks. It's amazing, isn't it?

But no. I'm sorry.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

A fucking tree is not a replacement for anything.

I pulled down against the pillow and tore the case at the seam. He smiled in the dark but he did not laugh like he did once before. His tanned hands slid up along my ribcage, pulling me against him, back into the overheated guilt we live by as a curse and as a gift.

My hands were taken and brought up for a kiss and I was passed through the night into the morning back against the cool skin of the giant statue who holds no guilt, only shame. Only regret. His pale arms fold around me and his head presses against the back of my own and I sleep at last.

Oh father, you oughta be there
I'm gonna go to heaven when I die
(I want to go to heaven)
roll jordan, roll jordan
They are planting the memorial trees in the back garden and I am back under the watchful eye of Christian the rock climber in lieu of Jacob, the giant Newfie Viking ice-climbing Reverend who no longer exists (unless Caleb is right) save for inside of me.

Christian is too permissive and far too far away from me to do anything to save me now. I am standing on the cliff letting the wind blow the dust and the neglect from my soul. The edges uncovered reflect the light while the rest remains smudged with black soot. I smile because it feels good and it feels good to be this close to death without the net. My swing is the cloud a little to my left but I would wait for a crowd larger than this. Today is not a show day.

I look at Lochlan. He's wielding the shovel like a true worker bee. He is digging the second hole. The one for Jacob's tree. A gracious move in light of Caleb always telling him how he was equally hated by Jacob. Just as Caleb was. Everything in my memory is ordered in pairs. The children. The ghosts. The secrets. The lies. The present. The hate. The love. And now?

The trees.

These are supposed to replace the plaques down there. If I stare straight down into the sea I can make out the shapes in bronze but not the letters because the water has come in to wash away the names and the dates that are seared into my brain and will never heal.

They think the trees will make things better. They are false comfort and not for me. No one wants me out here on the cliff and Chris still isn't watching me. I am watching him while he texts. Probably with Dylan or Rob. They are away.

Just out of curiosity I take a step. The shovel stops.

I step back and the movements resume. I turn my back on the sea. The deep fickle comfort would be shortlived and mired in a brief resentment and I hate that feeling. I need to see how this story ends.


(We are only blessed with that faint Scottish accent when he's yelling).

A shoving match erupts.

Bad job, brother.

She was safe.

What kind of dreamworld are you living in?

I can hear you Lochlan. I admit it, thinking he will back off from berating Christian for imaginary dangers. Lochlan's demons run so deep they choke off his nerve endings and hum a steady drone through his very being. He doesn't use alcohol to dull them because he said it doesn't work anyway. He uses the alcohol for the way it allows him to admit his feelings to my face. Because I am an adult now and he can't reconcile that.

Stay out of it, Bridge.

No. Leave him be.

I got it, Bridge. Loch, I was there when you were gone, man. When she was with Jake. I think I know her well enough that-

I've been responsible for her since she was eight years old! Don't you think I know her better than anyone?

As an adult. Lochlan-

Don't even. I don't fucking believe this. I know her heart. I know all of her like my own face in a mirror. And if something happened to her because you assume she won't do something than think again. You ever notice when she's out there with Ben (His voice broke. Oh my God, here we go) he doesn't even let go of her? You can't trust her with her own life. It isn't her job to be responsible for it anymore. She lost that privilege and it's never coming back.

She does just fine.

Then you can take the fall for it when she disappears over the side of that fucking cliff. Okay? And you can take the brunt of my rage. It won't be pretty, Chris. And you're done. I'll ask someone who cares enough to keep her on this earth and not make fucking assumptions.

Chris is nodding. His ears have turned pink. You do that, man. You fucking do that. I've got things to do. He walked over to me and gave me a quick hug and wouldn't stop long enough for me to talk.

Christian, he's just-

I know, Bridget. He's afraid of losing you. Wish he would figure out that he did that years ago and just get on with his life already.

But he didn't-

Jesus, Bridget. Cut him loose already. You're giving him false hope.

I'm not giving him anything.


The horror of Chris raising his voice to me shocked me to the point of hot tears and I turned and headed back toward the kitchen. Chris grabbed my shoulders and steered me back around to face him but he couldn't find his words fast enough. I found mine.

He knew the deal. And he took it anyway. How is this my fault? My voice is so small. I can't hear it.

Did you really think he would refuse? Bridget, do you really think people can think or act rationally when you're around?

They can try.

Yes, sweetheart, they can try but it very rarely works. He wants you so badly he isn't rational or fair. Ever.

It's the way things are, Christian. Can you just leave it? Please?

He shook his head and left, grabbing his helmet on the way out. There's a row of helmets on the bench. Everyone was here today to get the garden done, since the week ahead is supposed to be nice.


I'm standing in the driveway. Another helmet. Another motorcycle, only this time it's the very seriously lethal black Ducati and Lochlan has it loaded to the hilt. He should just take the truck. He's distracted and frustrated and exhausted and I don't know why he doesn't just take the truck.


I'll be back in a few days.

Which day?

Next Tuesday. Maybe the Wednesday. Thursday. I don't know. It depends on a lot more than me.


You'll be fine.


Bridge, don't.


Seriously. I will stay.

Someone has to go.

Schuyler can do it.

He's already there and no, he can't.

Someone else then.

There is no one else. I know that, Lochlan.

Right. So hold tight and I'll see you in a few days. Nothing bad will happen.

I shook my head.

Just stay the fuck away from that cliff. You promise me, Bridge? Promise me you'll just hold tight and I'll be back before you miss me.

Not possible.

God I love you.

He kissed me and climbed onto the bike. He fastened his helmet and got on the Monster. Time to go. He fired it up and I can't hear him anymore. He salutes me and then he's gone. Just gone. Up the drive and out onto the highway heading East. All the way to Toronto. He was probably there before I turned finally and walked back to the house. He drives that bike like a fool.

Love you too.

I said it to the fucking wind, I guess. He never would have heard me. He never expects it back and I don't either when I say it. But we both know we say it back. No one ever lets it drop. It's like a three-decade game of Hot Potato.

Caleb strolled in through the front door just before dinner.

Is that little fucker gone?

No, she's right here, I said as I stepped out of the kitchen and into the hall.

His face fell briefly before he recovered his expression into something resembling controlled evil glee.

It's going to be nice for us to have an entire week without the pyromaniac ruining every attempt I make to get close to you.

Ben will look after that.

But he doesn't, does he? That's the fun part. The good part. Ben lets you be yourself and you can have as much Cole-time as your little heart desires and Loch isn't around to ruin everything or tell you your head is messed up. I give you everything you want and what does he give you?

He gives me everything I need. Now get the fuck out of my house. It's not your night to see Henry.

Caleb is surprised and he steps back, expression clearly unchecked, venturing from surprise into quiet anger.

I'm going to go see what your neglected husband is up to while you see about changing your attitude just a little. It will make things easier for you later.

I have already tuned him out on my way back through the kitchen to the back door, where I can make my way down the steps, across the concrete patio, past the new garden and back to the cliffs where the sea will warn me away from men who don't have my best interests at heart and allow me to miss the ones who do.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

I will come find you when it's time to come home.

I remember being their ages. Out until dusk playing Kick the Can and Hide and Seek. All over the neighborhood. My circle was the baseball field to the skating rink, one street below the one we lived on and not over the mountain. A normal area for a child watched over by so many.

Their circle is slightly smaller, probably the same as mine was if you stopped where Lochlan's backyard met the base of the mountain. No higher than the gravel path in the woods and not out of sight of said path while in the woods. The park at the top of the second hill and the street that runs down the other side of our street too. Everything within is fair game because this is not 1979. Because there are bears here. Because this is still fairly new to them and the only one in charge is eleven-year-old Ruth. If there were older kids who offered to help or keep an eye out maybe things would be different but for now it's lots.

They strap on their helmets and disappear on their bikes for hours. They wait until I am away from the door/window/patio and then they let go and coast down the hill no-hands. They go hunting for bears. They throw on their suits and head up to the little water park where everyone congregates on hot summer days and they slay each other with bucketfuls. Nonstop. Til they are sunburned and exhausted.

They play. That's what kids do and it's a little weird to have them vanish for a few hours at a stretch and no know what they are up to. Sometimes it's a bit nauseating but I try not to think about it too much and I just keep working or doing whatever I'm doing because that's what a parent is supposed to do:

Let them get blisters running around in the water park with new sandals on because they knew enough to protect their feet from the bark chips but not that new sandals would wreak havoc on wet tender skin.

Let them fall off their bikes and get back up, bloodied and scraped, to keep on going. When they are done I will flush the gravel out of their wounds and make them squeal when I drip iodine on and then bandage the worst wounds. Or attempt not to laugh when Henry relays an attempt to stop without brakes to 'see what it is like' and nail himself between the legs quite spectacularly. He has a bruise on the inside of his thigh the size of my hand. He proudly yanks up his pantlegs to show anyone who wants to see his battle wound.

Bite my tongue when the bully breaks a water gun that belongs to the kids after they were warned that things can happen to toys taken to a shared playground and maybe they should leave them home but consequences were weighed and they see the result for themselves.

Prevent the boys from going to check on them every fifteen minutes because we were all kids once and we remember those moments when we realized we were lucky we were still alive.

Maybe it is 1979. A neighborhood full of families and well-meant childless people who keep an eye out for everyone and can tell the difference between a hurt child crying and the three year old five houses down who shrieks a hair-curling noise just to get someone's attention (every eight seconds, on average). A host of safe places to go and a world of exploration rolled out in front of their feet, their heads full of Narniaesque adventures, Stevenson-fueled passion and Barrie imagination. Their drive to conquer this new independence so fierce they roll their eyes at me as they repeat the rules.

Keep an eye on each other.

Don't destroy anything.

(and the most important of all) Have fun.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Mason jar mugs and the Allman brothers too.

No cavities!

For the children anyway. I have two little tiny ones. I go back next week to have those filled and then I'm in the clear. Eye and Audiologist appointments next. But in the meantime we have a new development.

Gage is good at getting people to drink fancy bourbon drinks and then they don't realize they are lit until they try to move, or breathe or just, you know, sit on a damned chair on the porch and they get up to dance and then it's like oh shit.

I'm keeping him too. Because he is awesome.


Showing my teeth.

No performer should attempt to bite off red-hot iron unless he has a good set of teeth.
~Harry Houdini
Good morning! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the boys are super busy but the kids have an inservice day at school so I decided to book something really fun and exceptional after lunch for them to enjoy.

Oh yes.

That's right.

We're going to the dentist.

No worries, they weren't very impressed either.

This will be a new dentist because I forgot to take us last year and now I'm sheepishly wondering precisely how many cavities one could possibly have when left to one's own devices in brushing for the better part of 720 days or so. My only saving graces is that the children eat very little in the way of junk and they are pretty conscientious about their hygiene. Also remember they haven't lost all their baby teeth yet so screw cavity-filling.

Haha. I'm kidding. I just hope this dentist isn't like the second-last one we had, seeing nothing but dollar signs. The very-last one talked smack and did everything at a loss, I believe. I'm pretty sure he's lost his shirt by now but he was awesome nonetheless.

This is more of an upscale office. I believe they'll buzz us in and pass out individual fun-size gilded laughing-gas tanks with masks dusted with raw diamonds. I know, I'm horrible. This neighborhood is such an incredible demographical departure from the Prairie castle one I could curl your hair with my stories.

Suffice it to say I will instead interject the differences as I go. This is definitely upper white-collarville and I don't know what I'm doing here.

This is weird.

I am hoping for good reports, in any case.


Bonus moment, for my own annoyance amusement.

Stop with the Ben Affleck guesses/comparison/total shots in the dark. It's getting old. For some reason he crops up on a regular basis in my email, so much so that I think I should send him a bill for the rent. I don't get it. The only thing he shares with my husband is a height similarity and possibly, today, a black eye.

Oh, and a beard. I like beards though.

A lot.

But you probably knew that about me.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Common sense tells us that the things of the earth exist only a little, and that true reality is only in dreams.
~Charles Baudelaire
He threw it down as a challenge and I accepted with another until we were shooting nineteenth century barbs back and forth with our imaginist skills, long honed in the boring hot sunshine behind the tents while we waited for showtime, or teardown time, or pay.

Baudelaire was one of the greatest translators of Edgar Allan Poe's work into French. Did you know? My very first Poe collection was in French. Lochlan found it on the seat of a booth in a restaurant outside of Montreal on an extended trip and brought it home for me when I was eleven and mostly I used it as a booster seat in the truck until the boredom drove me to read it in the sunshine, for that was the only way I could stand to open it. It smelled like mothballs. A smell I can appreciate now but when I was that age the only thing I wanted to smell was cotton candy or Lochlan's hair after he used my honey shampoo while bathing in the lake.

PJ walked into the kitchen with his coffee and muttered something about being out of his league. That broke the spell and we stopped. Mostly because it takes one of the others to demonstrate precisely how weird and insular we can be. Well, I can be. Lochlan is logical, straightforward and true.

Except that he isn't and that's okay, I think you have a decent picture of him by now. I would post an actual picture if he would let me but he won't. You will be quickly swayed by the easy smile and perpetual beard, and strawberry-red curls that rest behind his shoulders now, a color fading rapidly into gold in the sun. His hair is so long now I bet if he straightened it, it would be longer than mine. But he won't so it's a non-observation.

It still smells like honey, though. And I smell like mothballs because I have been safely stored all these years and pulled out and dusted off rather recently, fitted with fresh batteries and a line-dried pin-tucked dress. When you pull the string in my back, my faded emerald eyes fly open and I repeat tinny brainless phrases such as "I love summer!" and "Someday you'll die and I don't think I could take that!"

Okay, maybe not the second one. Not out loud, anyhow.

(You call me dollface, this is all I can picture anymore, and I'm sorry for that.)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Ben loves it when I tell this one.

The parking lot is filled with 350zs, Ferraris, customized Hummers and Porsches. Everyone has a small basket and they are all jam-packed into the organic and health food aisles in their overpriced yoga-wear with jewelry dripping off their limbs and scowls on their faces. If money bought happiness, they wouldn't have to shop for their own groceries, now would they?

Daniel and I make up the bourgeoisie division, clearly. I push a cart around, humming absently along to the piped-in music that seems embarrassingly easy to listen to. I spot a famous face in the crowd and he locks eyes with me, waiting for me to out him but I feign ignorance and find the Rice Krispies, buying the generic ones to the right. Groceries are the single largest expense after the mortgage payment and I try to cut corners where I can. My household only seems to notice if I don't buy the brand name ketchup anyhow.

My hair is wild waves. Jeans, sneakers, t-shirt, hoodie. I probably have more liquid assets than half of these folks, who lease their lives on a name that used to be who they were before they became hollow, jaded, faded and blue.

Yet they still look down upon me with a practiced ennui. I laugh out loud. Several heads turn but I am already busy studying the reason this store really entertains me as well as it does. Otherwise I would drive out to the valley to the big Asian grocery store because everyone there is real, everyone is nice. And no one speaks English but they speak to me anyway and I love that.

The reason this store is so entertaining is because of the Creepy Butcher.

I will discover him first, hunched before the packaged breakfast meats. A little too close, lurching back and forth. What in the hell is he doing? we wonder out loud, disturbed to the point of mentally rearranging the menu for the week to be vegetable-based, or our day to stop at the other grocery store way on the other side of town where the people are only marginally less important. The butcher over there is a jolly old Ernest Borgnine lookalike who learned my name on the first trip to his counter and hasn't forgotten it since. The uncanny, hilarious fear tilts the world of domestic errands crazily and we begin to slip back toward the doors and down aisle six (paper products).

But then we realize we have a list and a time limit. I need to buy things, so I return to the back of the store and swallow my fear in a lump.

There he is.

Ancient and gaunt, with dyed-black thinning hair and skeletal limbs sticking out from underneath the sleeves of his spattered starched white coat, the butcher will sneak up until his breath hits your neck like a blade. He'll whisper an offer of help almost mournfully, hopefully. He will sleep tonight if only you deign to ask him a barrage of questions about the pork loin or even better, request a cut of beef.

Oh yes. Right away, Miss!

Request that cut so the blood can run in uneasy rivers down his table, pooling possessively around his wiped-clean shoes while he grins at death on the scale, soon to be neatly tied with thick waxed paper and string, delivered with palpable malice over the fingerprinted glass into your waiting hands.

Softly he tells you the other store is very inconvenient and the parking is terrible so here you are instead and isn't he glad you are here today.


Surrounded by filth and new wealth. Life is a dirty business, it's probably better if you view it through the fog of sale stickers and bruised peaches. You spend the rest of the day uneasily trying to remember if you said anything out loud about going to see Ernest the butcher instead and wondering if the creepy butcher somehow managed to reach in and snatch your brain, weighing it carefully, turning it over in his hands as the liquid runs between his fingers, choosing the best cuts and placing it in the window with a price flag for consideration for a summer barbecue.

You never know.