What I Did For Love

What I Did For Love

This past weekend I had to deliver a testimonial at my fab UU church, to celebrate the conclusion of our pledge drive.  It went just fine, despite the fact that I clearly have shed my old actorly ways and am now TERRIFIED of speaking in public.

Good lord, the shaking.

The blushing.

Ours is not a large congregation and, for the most part, I think they harbor only good will toward me, so I kind of don’t get why the major case of nerves. Also, the thing I wrote was less than five minutes. (I know, get a grip, right?)

But how’s this for a confession:

I’m glad I was nervous because, in some private recess of my damaged heart, I believed that looking happy to be up there reading something I had worked hard to compose, would be like wearing slacks and suntan pantyhose with a reinforced toe.

Out of fashion.

Awkward.

Best to keep a low profile. Pretend I just threw something together at the last minute. “What, this old thing?”

It’s official. I may be all grown up, but a thin film of middle school still covers me like a second skin.

Maybe you can relate.

None of this is conscious, of course, and it’s really just now, as I sit typing, that it’s becoming clear. I can’t be the only one who struggles with the desire for approval and the deep flesh eating shame of wanting attention.

So wtf. Ima go there.

Yesterday I gave myself a present in the form of the audio version of Bruce Springsteen’s memoir, Born To Run, read by The Boss himself, and available on Audible. (By the way, my subscription to Audible is, by far, the best $15.00 I spend each month. Just sayin’.)

If you happen to see me walking the streets of the San Fernando Valley wearing a dopey smile and a gaze of distant longing, it’s because Bruce is in my ear, telling me all about his life, his hopes, his dreams. I may be holding my dog’s leash in one hand and a bag of steaming poo in the other, but in my mind he and I are reclined on a chase, before an open window, somewhere in Tuscany. “Tell me all about it,” I say, while sampling a variety of cheeses.

Wait, where was I?

Oh yeah. One of the first things Bruce offers up is an explanation of what has driven his career in rock and roll. His success, he says, was and is fueled by a list of things (and I’m working from my admittedly iffy memory here), that includes a desire for attention, approval, money, and love. 

Hold up, Bruce.

You mean you are looking for my approval? The stories you tell, the poetry you write, exists, at least in part, because you want to be… liked??

And get this, he wasn’t apologizing for it. Knowing that he cares what I think of him doesn’t diminish any of his work for me to know this. Obvs. Unknown

There’s a part of me that always assumed that artists, especially talented artists, didn’t give a shit what the rest of us thought. They worked in service of their vision and that’s what made the good ones good.

Or so I thought.

I’m no authority on showbiz in LA, since I had basically waved to that in my rearview mirror when I left Chicago, but I do remember when I first got here, sensing that, to get the job, one needed to not to need the job. Use words like “amazing”, “awesome” and “outstanding”, when asked how things are going, and as an agent once told me as she cocked her head and squinted across her desk at me, whatever you do, “Try not to care so much.”

That’s the catch.

When it comes to approval, you can want it, but you can’t ask for it.

I’ve bought into that forever. As for my own hunger, I blamed it on my mother, my school days, my gender. Anything to avoid pulling back the curtain.

But if I stop making it into a weakness, the desire to pin it on someone else disappears, and running around pinning shit on people is a total time suck. I think we can all agree on that.

The truth is, I care a whole bunch what you think.

Yep, me and Bruce Springsteen.

When I make a painting, I hang it on my wall. When I write something, I want someone to read it. To me, without sharing, the work isn’t complete.

I have a friend who told me she writes all the time and feels no need to share any of it. I haven’t decided if I believe her, but if it’s true, I envy her. If you’re an artist who doesn’t have any fucks left to give, then I guess you are lucky. It’s an advantage to feel free to take risks, to create for the sake of creating. But honestly, if I wasn’t in a lifelong search for love and approval, I probably wouldn’t do anything but down snacks and watch reruns of Sex and the City, so hey, there’s that.

At it’s worst, my desire for external validation can make me too careful, causing me to miss my mark and sometimes not even try. But at it’s best, it’s my editor, agent and cheerleader. My personal Mickey Goldmill.

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Back in Chicago, I remember I used to stare down the bar at the “real” actors who huddled at the other end. Usually a group of three or four guys in their 20’s and 30’s, and maybe one woman (hmm, interesting) would hang together, drinking cheap beer, dissing Los Angeles, while trading snark about their last Steppenwolf audition or the pilot they were shooting .

They were just So. Fucking. Cool.

They were talented, and their talent seemed all the more mysterious because they didn’t seem to care about it. Eventually I would make a good living on commercials, long running crowd-pleasing shows (decidedly un-cool) and voice-overs, but in my mind, those thoroughbreds at the end of the bar would always leave me in their dust.

I could never compete with them because I always, always, read my reviews.

And yet, here I am.

The same need that drove me to put myself out there in search of approval, was the same need that pounded on the floor for me to “Get up!” when I was knocked on my ass.

Now that I’ve named it, will I try to move beyond this, to a place where I float far above my blog stats, my inbox of rejections, my submissions, all my naked trying?

Will I pretend that I don’t desperately hope that you will like what I’ve made for you?

I don’t think so.

And I’m cool with that.

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Stuck. I Had My Reasons.

Stuck. I Had My Reasons.

Hi.

What’s up?

Let me just get something off my chest so I can move on, ok? Here is a list, in no particular order, of reasons I haven’t been writing here for a while:

  1. Trump got elected and, overnight, my blog seemed so dumb and pointless that all I wanted to do was stuff it deep in the trash, like way down under the coffee grounds, Valpak coupons and empty containers of Nosa blackberry serrano yogurt .
  2. Trump got elected, which was not normal, and I felt I should be using every bit of time I could to fight racism, fascism and willful ignorance, not blogging about our family’s road trip or my period. You know, priorities.
  3. I’ve always had the feeling that there is something wrong with a person who feels the need to share her private thoughts publicly. Desperate plea for attention, right? If the shoe fits…
  4. I pretty much ran out of ideas.
  5. I found myself so happy when people responded well to a post that it scared me. I knew I was way too attached to getting a positive reaction and that I would start bending over six ways from Sunday to get more. Of course this could only result in shit writing, which made me want to quit.
  6. I have a sister who I don’t talk to. (Long story). She found my blog and it made me feel exposed, vulnerable, and like I didn’t want to write here anymore.
  7. I thought I should stop spending so much time writing and spend more time on…well, I wasn’t exactly sure what, but something that either brought in a paycheck, or was, like, a “good mom” thing. For example, I could learn to play Dungeons and Dragons, or that game my kids call “Awesome Possum,” which I’m not sure is even a real game but wouldn’t a good mother at least know those things???
  8. “First world problems.” This phrase is fucking poison. Thanks to self-righteous Facebook posts it got in my head and I’ve let it stop every idea or creative impulse I’ve had for months. I believe it is the mother of all censors because it goes for the jugular and tells us that what we have to say is meaningless. Translated, it’s “sit down, shut up, and let the grownups talk.” 
  9. I followed the rules. Second to listening to the voice of #8, this was my biggest mistake. The rules I followed were: you post every week, you post on the same day every week, you use lots of visuals, your posts should be 800-1200 words, you have a searchable title, you deliver the same kind of content every time. All the rules were a major buzzkill and pointless too, since my goal has never been to rule the world through blogging. My goal is to make you like me! (Oh, I’m kidding. My actual goal is to have my ex-boyfriend find me through a Google search and see how successful I am, which is why it would be really awesome if you could just say something  in the comments like, “hey, Maggie, congrats on the book deal!” TIA)
  10. I was scared of becoming obnoxious.

So those are the reasons I stopped, and imbedded in each of them are the reasons I’m starting again. Creative blocks are intense, and first world problem or not, I’m committed to pushing through.

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PS- I’m sorry that my blog probably won’t do a damn thing to fight Pussy-Grabbing-Anti-Intellectual-Environment-Destroying-Nationalist-Batshit-Crazy Trump. I wish I was that kind of writer. But for now, I’m just me, and I’ve really missed showing up here.

PPS- I might write less and shorter blog posts these days because it is a new ballgame, thanks to Agent Orange. This site helps me prioritize action items.

So Now What Am I Supposed To Do?

So Now What Am I Supposed To Do?

Well that sure was a curveball.

I have friends who write who have managed to rise to the occasion in the past week. My friend and teacher Jesse Rosen always posts on Wednesdays, so she actually had to come up with something to say the day after the shit hit the fan. And she did, here.

She’s a stronger woman than I.

I just can’t get blood from a turnip this week, you guys. But I love you for being here, for checking in, and for just having it in you to get up and face the day,

and the next four years

of days.

I  attended a service this past Sunday at my beloved, struggling, ass-kicking Unitarian Universalist church. I’m not gonna preach, but let me just say that if you’re looking to get involved in the work that will heal our country, but you’re not sure where to start, try checking out your local UU church. If for whatever reason you’re a little freaked out by the word church, trust me that these are safe places. All are welcome.

The service was just what I needed: full of hope, some tears, but mostly practical advice about what each of us can do to help.

I love practical advice. I fucking love a good hack.

Our minister (who blogs here) also talked a bit about the need for self care during this time. While we are called to step up and pitch in as never before, we are also required to listen to our bodies and souls, and know our limits.

So, in the spirit of practicality and self-care, I decided to look back in the archives and find a blog post that I could use for today.

This one seems like it could work.

In it, I talk about how I sometimes do a little meditation that helps me with fear. A lot of people are afraid right now, and with good reason. As for myself, I might try it with the word “grief.” Because that’s what is heavy on my heart right now.

Then I thought about a different post from a while back, one that dealt with a long held grudge of mine. Like so much else before November 8th, 2016, that old grievance seems unimportant from where I stand today, but I’ll probably be using the meditation a lot in the coming months. Here’s a chunk of that post:

As time passed, and my grudge still nagged at me, I decided to do a little research. Tich Naht Han wrote a whole book on anger. In it, he suggests we “take care of” our anger:

“Anger is like a howling baby, suffering and crying.
Your anger is your baby. The baby needs his mother
to embrace him. You are the mother.
Embrace your baby.”

The idea of embracing my feisty little anger-baby, stroking it and singing it Beatle’s songs, sounded like a nice change, but also kind of creeped me out, though I can’t exactly say why.

I decided to give it my own spin and, with props to Tich Naht Han for the inspiration, came up with this mini-meditation hack for when you can’t let go of being pissed. Feel free to play along:

First, I close my eyes and imagine my grudge. Not the person I’m holding it against, but the actual anger, the whole fiery, dangerous, white hot thing. My grudge is roughly the size of my son’s Nerf basketball, or one of those mini-watermelons that seem like a good idea, but are totally not worth the money. Anyhooo…

I hold it in my hands and see that it is beautiful,

orange and red and yellow.

I feel its warmth.

I don’t try to cool it down or make it smaller.

I don’t try to make it be nice.

I take care of it.

Holding it in my hands reminds me that it isn’t part of me, it’s a thing I am holding:

Anger.

When I do this meditation now, I feel empowered. I DO want to take care of my anger, because it will help get my ass off the couch. 

I’m just not sure about blogging right now.

Not only because there’s so much important work to do, and the time to volunteer and write letters and make phone calls has to come from somewhere.

There’s also this.

 

We all need to do the work that is ours to do. And no one is going to wait, holding the door for me until I have the courage to get on with things. So I’ve been thinking about what work is mine to do.

Sigh. I’m just at sixes and sevens, to use a phrase that I like but have no idea what the fuck it means. (See? I have no business writing a blog. Who says that??)

I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting here, but I do know that I won’t be posting a lot about politics. You don’t need to hear what I have to say on the topic, believe me. Here’s what I do: I think up stories in my head, and write about my regular old life in the San Fernando Valley. And right now, I’m not sure about anything.

Take care of each other.

Peace, friends.

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Eat This: An Election Night Menu

Eat This: An Election Night Menu

Today is one of those days I wish I were a food blogger. 

They are so lucky.

They just have to tell you what to eat and how to make it, but they don’t exactly have to dive deep.

In contrast, personal bloggers are kind of obligated, I think, to take what’s going on in their lives, or the world, and talk about how it feels to be dealing. In exchange for your time and eyeballs, we pledge to be open, and honest, and take what’s coming to us.

The thing is, right now I’m pretty spent when it comes to political opinions, even my own, and I can’t imagine that I’m feeling anything all that unusual. Here, in a nutshell, is my entire inner life, as it applies to the 2016 election:

It’s scary, awful, exciting and just too much. I want it to be over, but only if it ends the way I want.

Not exactly insightful commentary.

Which is why I find myself, on Monday Nov.7, writing my very first Pretend Foodie Blog Post. Why not? 

What follows are a few recipes that are my gift to you, on this historic day. This is what’s for dinner at my house tonight. They are easy enough to make while your mind is on things like the future of the free world, and the ingredients are things you probably have on hand, which means you can skip going to the store and spend more time staging the perfect “I Voted” selfie.

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An Election Night Menu For Hopeful Citizens, plus Me

I know I’ll want a snack, right up front.

It’s a special day, after all, and since I burned all those extra calories standing in line at my polling place, Ima treat myself. If you voted by mail, you deserve an extra snack as a reward for being so together.

My snack of choice, courtesy of my friend Dena who has good taste in everything, is this:

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It’s possible I’ve talked to you about Mt.Tam cheese before. If so, I’m sorry but I can’t help it. I love it so much that my son, 11, has suggested that I marry it.

Now, I know you probably don’t have this exact cheese on hand, and while you can sub something else and still be happy, it won’t be the same. Either way, scratch what I said before about not going shopping, and go buy some special cheese. You will be so glad you did.

Whole Foods sells a tennis ball sized Mt.Tam for fifteen bucks, which is about ten dollars more than I’d normally spend on cheese, but you only elect the first female president once, y’all! (see what I did there?)

Next up:

A Simple Fall Salad With Balsamic Vinaigrette

The world seems to have gone crazy, am I right? It’s times like these that we need to keep our heads screwed on and remember the basics:

  1. Think before you speak
  2. Treat others the way you would like to be treated
  3. Always have something green on your plate

When I look upon The Orange One and fear for our collective future, this list and it’s timeless wisdom soothes me. Plus, FLOTUS wants us to eat salad, so I’m all in.

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Salad:

  • Romain lettuce, chopped
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • pear or apples, sliced
  • toasted pecans
  • goat or blue cheese (optional, but when given the option of cheese, I vote yes!)

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 or 2 or however many you want Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • a healthy glob of dijon mustard
  • a pinch or three of salt and a few grinds of black pepper
  • half a shot of maple syrup

Mix all the vinaigrette ingredients until it looks good, and toss it with the greens. We are all grown-ups here. We know how to make a salad.

And Now:

Vodka Pasta:

This is one of my favorite dishes to make when I want to please everyone. it is bi-partisan in it’s deliciousness, the Switzerland of dinner items, except, you know, Italian. Also, because it has vodka in it, no one will look at you funny for having the open bottle next to you at the stove. This feature will be important, as the evening progresses.

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 4 big juicy garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • one of those big 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes (I like the fire roasted)
  • 2 Tbs. vodka
  • 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 c. parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lb. penne (you could choose gluten free or whole wheat, but when it comes to pasta, like Trump, I make no apologies for preferring white.

In a big-ass pan, sauté the oil, garlic, red pepper and salt. When the garlic is just turning golden (if it becomes the color of The Donald, you’ve overcooked it), take a sip of vodka and dump the crushed tomatoes into the pan. 

Stir it all together and let it simmer on the stove for about fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, boil the penne.

(sip vodka)

Drain the pasta and throw it into the tomato mixture, which has thickened slightly. Toss in the vodka and mix, keeping the heat low for a minute or two. Mix in the cream, then turn off the heat and let it rest for a few minutes, before making it fancy with the parsley.

(Now’s a good time to toast the Suffragettes with a healthy swig of vodka. Bask in the moment.)

Serve the pasta and salad on the same plate, since you will be freaking out enjoying your meal in front of the television, and that’s how we roll in America.

By now, the early results will probably be coming in. I can’t predict what I’ll be feeling, but it will either be something like this:

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Or this:

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Either way,  it’s time for pie.

The thing is, I can’t really tell you how to make a good pie crust. I mean, I’ve tried to make a good pie crust and sometimes it’s ok and sometimes it sucks. The only thing consistent about my pie crust is that I always end up thinking that it’s just not worth the effort. But hey, you may disagree.

And guess what?

***We can disagree and still have pie!***

(PS- See? Women totally need to be running the world)

Ok, for a delicious pie, Do This: (or don’t, it’s a free country. For now, anyway.)

When you go to get the Mt.Tam cheese (did I mention it’s the queen of cheeses?), grab a box of those ready made pie crusts. I know, I know, they’re made with partially hydrogenated lard, but nothing’s perfect, right?unknown-2

And if you can’t have “the perfect” pie crust, don’t you at least want the very good and capable pie crust??? Or are you one of those people who would say, “No, I don’t want pie-crust-as-usual! If I can’t have my pie crust, the crust I think I should be able to have, then I’ll just have a big ol’ shit sandwich, please!”

No, I didn’t think so.

Where were we?

Oh yeah, put one crust in a pan and fill it with a bunch of peeled apples, a few globs of butter, 1/4 c. of sugar, 2 Tbs. of flour, some cinnamon, a little salt and the juice of a lemon. Slap the other crust on top and pinch it together like your Trump pinching a— never mind.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 50 minutes and, wonder of wonders, you’ll have pie.

Alternatively, you could just get yourself a perfectly nice already made pie, and be done with it.

That’s what I’m doing. Pie making is for suckers.

So, there you go. Eat up, enjoy, and leave the dishes for tomorrow.

I promise,

no matter what,

there will be a tomorrow.

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Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed

I have no idea where to even start this week.

I mean, seriously, right???

Like many of you, I have my own story of being groped by an asshole. I might write about it, I might not. There a lot of good writers and bloggers out there doing that, so…

And then there’s the feast of human suffering, always, always. No shortage of material in that department.

And we are all, in this country, getting a bit edgy about November 8th.

We’re pretty sure we know what will happen, but we’ve seen some crazy-ass goin’s on in the last several months, so we can’t exhale quite yet.

Maybe some of us who haven’t prayed much in a while are praying real hard right now.img_0996_lhasa_barkhor

Maybe some of us are gorging ourselves on self-righteous Facebook rants that taste great going down, but now we’re not feeling so hot.

It’s for these reasons, and the fact that I’m deeply grateful that you are here, that I’m using the blogger’s equivalent of “Phone a Friend” and posting something I read that made me

just

so

happy.

The blog is one I don’t know, probably because it is a Christian blog and I don’t usually read Christian blogs. Maybe now I will. In any case, quite a while back she had the good taste and wisdom to post this, from writer Mary Gordon, so I think she’s good people.

Some prayers, for a Tuesday. Don’t be scared, these are good ones 🙂

Peace, you guys.

Amen

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Eight Little Things That Helped Me This Week.

Eight Little Things That Helped Me This Week.

Let’s just get it out in the open:

I’m still in a bit of a funk.

But I gotta tell you, after dreaming about emptying port-o-potties all night, something does seem to have shifted and I feel slightly better, as of this moment.

But I don’t want to jinx it.

So because I had a Not So Great Week, which resulted in a lot of cracker eating and zero blog ideas, I woke this morning with nothing to post, thus breaking rule #1 of blogging: be consistant!

Well, shit.

Lately, the pressure of having to come up with a readable post every Tuesday has made me feel kind of like this:

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Which is why I had every intention of blowing it off this week. I wanted to write in my journal, or work on my other-thing-that-I-don’t-know-what-it-is-but-may-be-a-long-thing-which-I-might-call-a-book-if-it-didn’t-make-me-sound-all-fancy-and-full-of-myself.

But then I had half an idea, and it came to me like this:

Eight Ways To Make Yourself Feel A Little Better When Things Kind of Suck

The following is a list of little things that you can do today, if you’re feeling blue, instead of drink vodka or spend all your money on shoes.

  1. Wash your car. Now, technically, this can cost you money, especially if you live in LA where using water is illegal, but even if you have to plunk down a few bucks, it’s a small price to pay for the lift you get. I took mine in, and the guy even dug out the melted tootsie roll from the back door handle, which revived my will to live, for an entire day.
  2. Make your favorite song into your phone’s ring-tone. I don’t pretend that this isn’t old news to anyone under the age of thirty, but to me, it was a revelation! I knew you could make a song your ring-tone, but I didn’t know that you could use, like, ANY song you want. And I didn’t know that it would change your entire response to a phone call, from an annoying interruption, to a little mini dance break! (Do yourself a solid and find a kid to do this for you. I used tech support, aka, my eleven year old, so now I hear Beast of Burden when my phone goes off in yoga class, which eases the sting of shame.)
  3. Get completely absorbed in a book that takes you somewhere else. You know that thing about “being in the moment?” This is the opposite. This strategy is ripped from my Grammie’s playbook, who may not have been a voracious reader, but she was a big fan of living in denial, and you know what? She seemed pretty happy! Right now I’m reading this, and it transports me to a whole other world, makes me laugh and cry and forget all the shit that needs forgetting.
  4. On the subject of books, put a poetry book in your car. Full disclosure: I actually left the used volume of Anne Sexton poems in my car because I tried to give it to a friend and she was all, “Um, thanks, but I’m not really into poetry,” and so I took it back and left in under the pile of sweaty gym towels and Chipotle bags on my front seat. In doing so, I discovered that the time it takes for my son to go search for his ridiculous $20 water bottle, which I will not replace (do you hear me? I will not!), is just enough for me to read a nice little poem about death.
  5. Clean something dirty and boring. It has to be boring because the last thing you feel like doing right now is thinking, and it has to be dirty because you really need, you desperately need, to feel that you can make at least some things better. I chose to clean the baseboards of our house. By the way, this is something that, at age 50, I have never actually done. I am gross. In my defense, life has gone on just fine, even with dirty baseboards, so if this sounds like something that you have no interest in doing because cleaning shit feels like half the reason you want to eat all the cheese and stay in bed, skip it. I was comforted by seeing my wet rag covered in grime, revealing hope for the future underneath, but you may want to give this idea the finger, which I wholeheartedly support.
  6. Get rid of all your shit that’s broken. I have a necklace that I loved, but which has been tangled up for so long that I finally threw it out. Sure, I could have taken it somewhere to be fixed or buy a new chain, but in the three years it’s been sitting on my bedside table, I never did that. There’s a pair of pants that need new zipper, and a lamp that wobbles so much it falls over every time I turn it on. There’s the hose in the back yard, and my mini-food processor that smells like burning hair when I try to make pesto. Out they go. I had to make peace with the fact that some things just aren’t going to get fixed. That realization alone may have given me my first decent chunk of sleep in a fortnight.
  7. Start back doing that thing that you used to do before, for no apparent reason, you just stopped doing it. I used to wake up and write in my journal every day. I didn’t write anything great and I didn’t write for long, but it was a very civilized thing to do and for some reason I stopped (I blame my dog). So this week I started writing in my journal again. Not blog ideas, not to-do lists, just good old boring blah-blah-blah that goes straight from my heart, down my arm, and onto the page. It feels reassuring that I can go back to something I used to love, and it’s still there. I imagine this could work for almost anything, provided you’re being straight with yourself and you actually liked it and didn’t just wish you liked it. For example, I would never go back to trying to learn how to do this:                                                                                       unknown
  8. Give something up. I am not talking about sugar, or gluten, or god forbid– swearing. Fuck no! I am talking about something you tried on, but that just isn’t you.  Like, I’m giving up having my books arranged by color, as I saw on Pinterest.flickr_color_blocked I also saw it at a very artsy and cheerful friend’s house and I thought, “Oh, how cool! I’m going to do that. I’m going to be neat-o.” Cut to me cussing a blue streak while searching for the book on anxiety that “I could really fucking use right now, but was the cover orange with blue writing or blue with orange writing?!”  You may have something more deep and meaningful to give up, like a whole relationship, but it’s ok to start small, I think. Find something that just isn’t you and scrap it. Its the psychological equivalent of taking your bra off when you get home, and don’t you love that feeling?

Okey-doke, there you have it. Free advice from someone who doesn’t have a single clue what she’s talking about! Why else would you read a blog?

No, wait.

I know why you might read a blog, it’s the same reason I read them, and the main reason I write one: it’s a window. It’s a window into someone’s life, and that can feel kind of nice, or at least interesting. Because we all wonder if we’re super weird, or just a little weird, don’t we? And it’s also a window to see out, to yell across the unkept yard, “Hey neighbor! How’s it going?”

And to answer,

“A little better, today, thanks for asking.”

open-window

 

This Week,

This Week,

This is one of those weeks.

It’s one of those weeks when I don’t know how I can possibly come up with a post, because something bad happened and I don’t have the words, or the will to find the words, that will make a neat and tidy story of it.

A friend died in a tragic hit and run accident. He was walking, someone hit him with their car, and left,

just like that.

I found out about this on Saturday morning, when I was standing in line at MineCon with my sons. We had checked into a hotel the night before, meeting up with dear friends who live far away, set for a weekend of fun that they had been excited about for months.

I opted not to tell the kids when I found out.

There wasn’t anything to be done, and plenty of time for grief, ahead. Might as well let them have a day and a half of believing the world is built on solid ground and can’t change in an instant, the way we know it can,

from ok,

to complete shit.

Besides, I needed time to figure out exactly what I wanted to say to them. What I had in mind didn’t seem quite right. What I had in mind was something like,

“Hey kids, I sort of forgot to tell you, between bugging you about table manners and the wet towels on the floor, that life, this whole experience that we’re all having, really doesn’t make any sense at all. Blink, and the whole thing looks different. Good luck.”

But I kept quiet.

So, we went to MineCon and I spent most of it with my nose buried in my phone, texting and trolling FaceBook, as a way of feeling connected to the people I love, who love Rob. Accidents like he suffered take a while to compute, and I needed to get it through my thick skull, what had happened.

I ended up with this:

The guy who loved my Grammie’s brownies, who sang my name every time we said hello, who helped direct my son in all those musicals, who played piano and wrote songs and stayed open and goofy in the face of so many challenges, who appreciated my boys and told me exactly why, who has a wife and daughter who absolutely adore him— that guy is gone from planet Earth.

Because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

WTF???

Just leave it, I thought. Like rain on clay soil, eventually, it would sink in.

At the end of the weekend, I told my boys about Rob, and after talking and hugging for a moment, we drove the freeway home, my thirteen year old staring out the window in silence.

My husband was waiting for us when we got home, happy to see us.

Then, when I went to get my bag out of the car, I couldn’t find my keys.

I was holding myself together by the most delicate thread and, now, between the car and the kitchen, I had somehow lost my keys and, I thought, this might just be the thing that does me in.

You know those moments.

It seemed to me, at the time, that my husband didn’t understand,

or didn’t want to.

And maybe— I’m sure I saw it (well, pretty sure)— he sighed heavily.

What?!

Why would he sigh heavily, like he can’t believe I lost my keys. Like I’m the first person to ever lose her keys! I thought to myself. Why, at a moment when I, so clearly, am hurting?

And just like that, I am curled on my bed, crying the scrunched up face of crying that feels painful and also delicious.

Why couldn’t C understand how completely on edge I was, after holding in so much and then telling the painful news to our boys? Why had he looked annoyed that I couldn’t find my keys?

I shut the door, hoping my boys wouldn’t come in, and I kept crying.

Like when a magician stuffs a handkerchief into his pocket, then pulls a different colored handkerchief out, connected to another, and another, more things that needed crying about showed up, asking for their due.

First, it was about C. and “why couldn’t he just…”,

and then because I was angry,

and then ashamed,

and then it was about how nothing is the way it should be,

and why are people so blind to each other’s pain,

and then finally,

(oh, there it was)

It was about Rob.

11 came in, his face wet because something wasn’t working the way he wanted it to on his computer, and he was exhausted and frustrated.

Before I asked him to please leave, to give Mom a minute, I remembered,

he had lost a friend too,

so we held hands for a while.

I know I’m supposed to wrap this up into some kind of story, right?

Well, apparently, if I’m a writer at all, I’m the kind of writer who can’t write about the really hard things, which, in my opinion, makes me like a chef who can’t turn on the stove.

All I’ve got is this:

Conditions are foggy here this week,

and since I can’t get where I’d planned to go,

I’ve cut the motor

to have a good long cry

about the situation.