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.)