Wednesday, 31 December 2008

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

Goodbye 2008.


I will not miss you.

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

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

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

I stopped pretending. Abruptly. Finally.

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


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

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

Goodbye 2008, and Happy New Year to all.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The price of petulance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 29 December 2008

The box that Ben built.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Initials with no names.

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

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

Is that doing well?

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

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

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

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

I miss him. Everything about him.

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

It's gone, all of it.

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

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

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

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Tongue firmly in cheek here.

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

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

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

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

I'm with the band.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think Ben would too.

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

Friday, 26 December 2008

Hiding behind screens made of silver.

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

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

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

Thursday, 25 December 2008

What you wish for.

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

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

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

Even the tictacs, and most especially, the music.

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

Have a wonderful day. Are you still warm?

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The Christmascrumb Tinies.

B is for Bridget, smothered with attention.

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you are warm.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

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

The one inside my head.

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

Here, have a cookie.