Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Summer of No Summer

Last week, little beast stood next to me as I put on my make-up for work and sobbed, "Mommy, I don't want you to go. We never see you. You're always studying. I miss you." I turned and let that sweet little six year crawl in my lap. I sighed. She was totally right.

Since April my life has been turned upside down by studying for my acupuncture board exams, because of that my beasts life is upside down as well. Our house is trashed, we've been eating crappy food, the sweet beasts have been shoved off on babysitters, friends, and their grandparents. Things have gotten so bad that when I offered to get them hot dogs for lunch one day my kids whined, "We are sick of junk food!"

At the beginning of my divorce I went to a child psychologist to figure out how to make the separation easier for my children. I remember her saying, "From this point on sometimes you will have to make decisions that are based not on what is best for your children, but what is best for YOU. These are some of the hardest choices you will have to make as a parent." I think that all parents go through this, but for a single parent, the choice to put your own needs in front of your children's are  more complicated than for a married couple raising kids. Because I am the only adult in this house, I don't have another person to balance out these choices. There is no one to pick up the slack when I need to come first. There is no equal to me to take the kids to park, fix meals, clean house. There are amazing, loving, giving people that step in to help, but for my kids those people are second best to Mama, and since my amazing supporters don't live in our house, there is still a lot that doesn't get done.

Married parents can look to each for help. They can turn inward toward the family to solve problems and balance the adult needs with the children's needs. A single parent must look to the outside for support and sometimes they must put their children's need for things like healthy food, clean clothes, camp sign ups, and mommy time on hold for awhile. In a single parent home if the lone parent doesn't do it it doesn't get done. Many times picking up the slack falls to the kids and it becomes one more burden of being in a single parent home.

Don't get me wrong. I truly believe there are many amazing and good things about being a single parent. I'm not sure at this point if I would ever choose to try to raise my kids with someone else, but sometimes I wonder if that is me once again making the choice to do what is right for myself instead of my kids. I enjoy the freedom of single motherhood. I enjoy my independence. I appreciate not having to ever ask permission. Which is what started this whole studying thing in the beginning.

Six years ago, when I told the wuzband I wanted to go to acupuncture school he said, "No"! Once the marriage crumbled it became apparent that I was going to need make enough money to be able to support my beasts on my own. I signed up for acupuncture school. I needed no permission. For the five years I've been in school there have been sacrifices made by everyone involved, but especially by my kids.

When when my kids got out of school this June I told them simply, "This is going to be the summer of no summer. Mommy is studying for boards.Your summer is going to be TV and DS."

I often wonder when my children are older how they will view this time in their lives; these years of their mother leaving them five days a month to travel to another state and go to school while they are shuffled between grandparents, dad, and sitter. The hours and hours and days and days of mommy hidden in her room studying and paper writing. The stressed out, vacant eyed mommy, the horrible meals, and dirty house. All of us putting our lives on hold until, "Mommy's done with boards." (If I say that to them one more time they may just scratch my eyes out.)

Will this be what they sit across from their therapist and talk about in 20 years or so? Will they cry out words like "neglect" and "disregard"? Or will they be able to share memories of their of their mom working her ass off trying to make a life for the two people she cherishes the most? My hope is one day my sweet beasts will see that though the years I have spent in acupuncture school may have seemed to be totally mommy centered, I made the decision to go to school, not just for me, but for them as well. I worked my ass off, we sacrificed, and sacrificed, so that we could have the best life possible for us; our little unit of three, sailing through unchartered waters with Sassy Queenpin Mama at the helm, praying that in the end she chose what was right.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Motorcycles and Men

My mom gave me this box of matches for Christmas
(www.curlygirldesign.com). She knows me so well

We stood in my mom's garage looking at my motorcycle. Me and a new guy I was dating. A fine man I just wanted to eat with a spoon.

"This is my bike, Jezebel, she's old, 1983."
"Humph, good year," he said and laughed. That's when I realized 1983 was the year he was born. 9 years my junior. Then I laughed too. A first for me, someone younger.

Motorcycles and men, goodness, gracious me, I love 'em. And I'm also completely terrified of both.

I haven't ridden Jezebel in months. I don't even know how many months. She's had some problems, and I was happy for them. She scares me. This 600 lb. fuchsia machine that I love to sit on and rub her smooth fine tank. When I start Jezebel up to ride and I am both completely terrified and giddy with joy. This bike, this wild beast that can tear me apart or give me wings. Maybe both. This week I thought about selling her. I could really use the money. It would be practical, but I can't because I need her.

I am taking it slow with her. I still haven't taken her off my mom's street, but I will. I need the option to ride. Having a motorcycle feeds that something in me that I can only think to call my wild streak. If that streak in me doesn't get fed I would slowly lose my mind, or pack up and run away from home. So I am going to get on Miss Jezebel again and ride. Shaking, and sweating, and giggling all the way. I've set a goal to make it off my mama's street and hit the parkway. There I'll be the terrified and joyful mama maneuvering my way to a little bit of freedom.

Men and motorcycles. They both feed that rowdy girl inside. I sat on my porch last night, smoking, drinking wine, and feeling very single. As I watched the clouds slide in front of the moon, lighting them up like silver sequenced marshmallow fluff, I began to laugh. I love my big, beautiful life, and I am so grateful for all the crazy, kind, dangerous, sexy, soulful, men that I have had in it. And I have had all of those types of men and maybe more. I don't know if there are enough adjectives to describe the assortment of characters I have allowed walk on parts in my life. I'll spare you the stories. I'm protecting the innocent, or not so innocent men. But I will tell you this. I'm grateful for every single one.

I used to be a leaver. I always dated men I knew I could leave behind. I played it safe. I think I did it to protect my heart, or maybe I did it to protect my freedom. But then someone I thought I would be the leaver of left me, and he broke my heart. Stomped that sweet bloody, fleshy, pandora's box into heart pate, and surprisingly I lived. Not only lived, but thrived and become a whole person that can take care of herself. That's when I learned that I can take a broken heart. I can take it and that I don't want to trade all the love and laughter and mmm-mmm yumminess for a world of safety. Pain will not kill me, though it sucks for a while. What will kill me is giving up the experience for safety.

So now I jump in and I do it. I think, "Oh shit, if this ends it is going to hurt like a motherfucker." I get terrified and excited all at once, just like when I ride Jezebel. Then I giggle and think, "But it's going to be so fun finding that out." The last person I dated I knew it was going to be temporary, but I also new that I would regret not jumping in. I put my toe in the water, I let it sit. I submerged it a little more and then like an Olympic diver I did a reverse dive off the spring board with a double flip. It hurt like a motherfucker when it was over but damn it was sweet while it lasted.

I told my last lover, "I love my life, and it is happy with or without you in it. I'm glad you're in it. You add to it, but I don't need you to make my life happy." And I meant it. I still mean it.

Maybe I'm not meant to find the one, but to experience many different relationships. I have been so loved, and I have loved so much. This body has been treated so fine, and I'm not done. I'm only 39, and in my experience so far things just get better and better.

So I keep trying to ride. Shaking, and laughing, and falling, and feeling. Then I take a break and cool my jets for a bit, or lick my wounds, and thank The Committee for this one big, beautiful, fucking amazing, I'm going to lick the bowl clean, life that has given me the opportunity to experience both motorcycles and men.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Does Anyone Know a Good Plumber? I've Got the Block

Ahhhhhhh! It's writer's block. I haven't written in almost a month. I've got the block. I have four posts started and no flow to my mojo. Shit fire, where is my write like a mother fucker attitude? Where is my juice, my flame, my FOCUS?

I've been studying for boards, and wrapped up in a new man, and letting go of another. I've submitted two flash non-fiction essays for publication. I've been laughing and dancing with my beasts who simultaneously drive me crazy, make my heart want to burst out of my chest, and embarrass me in front of our new neighbors with their hideous bickering. I've been so in love with my life that I can't even believe that I am living it. Yet I cannot finish a post. I cannot get the love and life to flow from my heart and my head to my fingers and onto the keys of my Macbook.

I will write, just give me a minute. One minute to suck up this kick ass life and hold it in my belly. Give me a minute to savor my life. Then I'll come back, all drunk and silly, and spit it right in your face.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


The Aliens
you may not believe it
but there are people
who go through life with
very little
friction or
they dress well, eat
well, sleep well.
they are contented with
their family
they have moments of
but all in all
they are undisturbed
and often feel
very good.
and when they die
it is an easy
death, usually in their
you may not believe
but such people do
but I am not one of
oh no, I am not one
of them,
I am not even near
to being
one of
but they are
and I am
-Charles Bukowski

I came across this poem this morning. Once of those chance to run across moments when you know the poem had been just waiting for you to flip the page so it could burst forth and splash like a wave into your soul. I've been thinking about eating mangos and playing with fire recently. It seems they are two of my favorite things, though sometimes I try to deny it and choose a half ripe peach and a barely lit coal to dis-satisfy my wants. 

SheBear sent me an article this week, Mutiny of the Soul by Charles Einstein. To put it much to simply he writes about our souls rebelling to the state of the world as it is now. It is about not accepting what we have been presented as a "good enough" life. He writes, "Trust your own urge to withdraw even when a million messages are telling you, 'The world is fine, what's wrong with you? Get with the program.' Trust your innate belief that you are here on earth for something magnificent, even when a thousand disappointments have told you you are ordinary. Trust your idealism, buried in your eternal child's heart, that says that a far more beautiful world than this is possible. Trust your impatience that says "good enough" is not good enough. Do not label your noble refusal to participate as laziness and do not medicalize it as an illness."

And what I have to say to him, and to Charles Bukowski is:

It is not that I do not love my amazing life, it is just that I can not move forward quietly. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Between Me and God

Months ago I had a dream about being saved. My ex-Sweet Escape rode up on a white motorcycle (his trusty stead) and saved me. From what? My life. Just my plain old life of school, bills, work, and sweet beasts. No monsters here, just the mundane. I woke up before we rode off into the sunset and I wondered where in the hell that dream came from.

I listened to "In the Arms of an Angel" by Sara McLachlan the other day and it had such a different meaning for me than the first time I heard it. When I first heard the haunting melody, I was just out of college.  That song fed into my longing for a flesh and blood angel to save me, to comfort me in my life. I tried on different "angels" for a bit, and then I married one. Soon after the wedding I had a profound experience.

Days after I married my first husband I realized we had made a big mistake. Oh shit. I was afraid to admit it, to myself or to anyone else, so I kept it inside and for a month I went totally crazy inside (I'm a sharer, I need to talk about it!). I wish I could find my journal from that time. I'm sure it is full of very interesting rants from a lunatic.

The culmination of this crazy time happened one night when he was at work. It was pouring rain outside and I lay on the hardwood floor of his house sobbing. I had so much anger and sadness in me I wanted to take a kitchen knife and carve FUCK into the beautiful brown wood so they would look how I felt. I sobbed and raged, and PRAYED. That's right, all caps praying, saving my ass prayers, making deals with Big Guy upstairs if he would just SAVE ME prayers. I kept waiting for someone to come, for the phone to ring, for a knock on the door, for something to happen that would change the situation I was in, but it didn't happen. No one came. Nothing changed.

The rain fell, my tears stained my journal, my soul ripped apart. At some point through my haze of pain, I realized that no one was going to save me but myself.  I got up off the floor, I opened the front door, and I walked into the night. I went to find some of my friends because I knew I would need them. I left my husband the next day.

From that night on I continued to pray, but in a different way. My prayers were more about me receiving comfort from a larger being than expecting to be saved. The night I saved myself I realized that in life it is just me and God. At the end of the day, at the end of the night, at the end of my life, it will be just me and the divine. I won't take anyone else with me, no one else will be held responsible for my deeds. I am here to save myself, to steer my own vessel, and to fill my own vase.

When I was listening to Sweet Sarah sing about the angel, I had a very real sense of being curled up and comforted by the divine. Those are my favorite prayers these days. I imagine myself curled up on The Committee's table receiving all the comfort they can give, not saving me, but loving me as I stumble through this life. They have the faith that I can figure it out....eventually. They just love me through it. I trust them to handle me with care, and love me at my ugliest, darkest moments.

It is funny how we have such profound experiences, yet we have to learn the lessons over and over again. This week I found myself wanting someone to change my reality, I wanted someone to fill my vase, and it made me so uncomfortable, dissatisfied, and anxious. It made me angry with the person who is not filling my vase (bastard ass mother fucker, and also sweet gentle soul) So I sat down this morning to write and see what came out, and what came out is this: I am my own savior. All that I need is carried within me. Expecting someone else to do it for me is just laying on the floor, sobbing in the rain, waiting for a knock on the door that will never come, and really, what fun is that?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lighten Up Francis

The wuzband was in real estate when the market crashed. It was hard. But we had always had money problems. While we were married I learned how to rob Peter to pay Paul. I learned how to rotate bills so each was always on the verge of being cut off, but not actually cut off….most of the time. I used to stand at the check out line in stores and fight off the panic that my card would be rejected. I would avert my eyes from the cashier as I waited for the CARD DENIED sign in the little black box. Shame would ooze out of my pores in front of some 17-year-old pimply kid who had no idea what it was like to run a household on money made from sand. It took me two years after my divorce to be able to stand at the little machine and swipe my card without panic welling up in me.

For months after the wuzband left I would walk into a store and immediately feel like I was going to have the shits, even though I had plenty of money. It was fear. Settling right down in my colon, telling me everything was NOT going to be okay. My sweet intestines thought they were taking care of me by having me shit myself before I made a misguided purchase. A purchase that would surely take my beasts and I to the poor house just because mommy wanted some hot boots.

About 5 years in to my money woes marriage I remember sitting at a stoplight and being seized by fear, but this fear was different. This fear was a question that popped into my head: How would you feel if you didn’t have to worry about money? Would you be able to live without this fear, or would you fill it with something else? And then the enormity of the emptiness that would be left if I didn’t have my fear washed over me and I was, to put it simply, stunned. I wish I would have left that stoplight transformed with new clarity about how to live without fear, but really what I left with was an insight and no idea how to apply it to my life.

I realized that the fear of no money was serving a purpose. A sick purpose, but a purpose none the less. It was filling all the empty spaces of my life and propelling me forward while I missed out on the present moment. And this is where I seem stuck these days. I am stuck in the filler fear, but I do not have one thing that I can focus the fear onto. It is a myriad of issues that all seem justified and very real, but in reality are just noise, noise, noise that I use to…..to what?....to keep me focused on everything else except what is right in front of me. It is my excuse for not being in the moment, grounding myself, and looking to the universe for comfort. What can The Committee really do as they sit up there all high and mighty in the ether world and play cards while I’m down here in the trenches living this shit? (Not that my life is shit, but when you’re in self-pity mode, you’ve got to use strong statements).

After 5 years of divorce I can look back and see some things the wuzband was good for, and one of those things was getting me to lighten up. I would be huffing and puffing about this thing or that and he would look over at me and say, “Lighten up Francis.” And surprisingly, I would. I would see that I was getting all blown up over nothing. I would feel silly, and laugh. He would shake his head in amazement that I could turn such a mole hill into a raging volcano, lava flowing STRAIGHT TOWARDS US!

That is one thing that I miss out on being a single mama. I miss someone else looking over at me and saying, "Get a grip. Lighten up, Francis." Sometimes I just need a little perspective shift, but it is only after I flip my shit, or yell at the beasts, or run around for days with panic rising up in my chest, that the light flips on. Then I talk with a friend, or have a quiet moment and see, "Sheesh, I am being a total crazy lady over something that will not ruin us. And in my craziness I am doing more damage that high fructose corn syrup could ever do." (Healthy food obsession/guilt is a big freak out for me) Last week SheBear, my acupuncturist, gave me the perspective shift I needed. She looked at me and said, "Why are you doing this? Relax! It is about balance." 

Ahhh, balance, riiiiight...... When she said it I knew she was right. My whole body relaxed, and I had one of those, "Lighten up, Francis," moments. It's so funny when that happens, because truly, the lens of my mind refocuses and I am able to absorb the Divine's answer into my soul. I can feel what is important. Right now. This moment is important, and being present for myself and my beasts is important. Not teaching them to fuel themselves on fear, that is important. Not raising them as if everything is a crisis or an emergency, or THE END OF THE WORLD. So I have found myself saying to myself this week, when my shoulders tense up as if they hold the weight of the world, I say, "Lighten up, Francis." and then I have visions of relaxing, and curling up with the beasts, or even just doing something kind for myself, instead of running around like a crazy lady and trying to save us all from the zombie apocalypse.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Eaten By the Black Dog, and Spit Out Again - It Was a Very Merry Christmas

I should have known when I started drinking coffee at 5 pm just so I could stay up through dinners. I should have known when my low back started aching and all I wanted to do was lay down. I should've known when, as soon as the beasts' dad picked them up, I rose from my bed where I lay exhausted, got in the car, bought a pack of cigarettes, and then continued on to a fast food joint. I should have know when, on Christmas Eve, I could not motivate myself to shower, even though it had definitely been 2 days, and possibly 3. It should have become apparent while I was laying in bed as my mom took my kids to go to see the Christmas Pageant because I just could not get it together to leave the house.

It was when I forced myself in the shower, for the sake of my sweet beasts' Christmas joy, that I realized that I was being eaten by the black dog. Standing in the shower on Christmas Eve trying to decide how I could get by with wearing leggings, a huge sweatshirt, and my Uggs to dinner without anyone noticing it wasn't festive attire, I finally admitted to myself that I was in the the throws of the holiday blues.

I fucking hate the blues. Especially on a day where people really want you to be happy, and you know in your bones you have so much to be grateful for. The blues truly bite when you have a blog post in progress about how great you're doing and all the progress you've made, and how everything is peace, peace, joy, joy, good mothering and self-care. Winston-Churchill called it the Black Dog. When I was in my 20's I knew it was here when I found myself on the couch endlessly watching Howard Stern. My dad would say to me then, "Black Dog breathing down your neck?" and I would say, "Yes," and burrow deeper into my little pea pod of blankets on the couch. I haven't been depressed like that in years.

I really only had The Black Puppy on Christmas Eve, but it had been nipping at my heels for days and I refused to listen to it. I did not want to feel like shit on Christmas. My kids were so excited. My mom and her boyfriend were coming for dinner. I did not have time for that black canine's bullshit. I did not have the energy to disappoint my beasts. Disappointing children takes a lot of energy. Though I'm sure the beasts knew something was up when earlier that day I had said, "I wish Christmas was just two days in your pajamas."

On Christmas Eve I got out of the shower. I put on my makeup and picked out decent clothes, hoping with each movement that something would shake that puppy who had a grip on my joy. I tried some tricks, changing my perception, picking out fancy jewelry, conjuring thoughts of gratitude. Nope. That puppy's jaws were strong. He was locked on tight. Then I just admitted it. It's Christmas Eve and I'm lonely. I'm sad. I'm lonely right now at this moment. I feel like shit. I crawled back in my bed, and I cried a little bit. Then I did something different. I texted a friend (Exceptional Human Mama) and I admitted it: I'm lonely, and I miss you, please make time for me sometime soon. I reached out for help, then I got off my ass.

And I can tell you this was one of the best Christmases I've ever had.

It was real and it was sad, and it was joyful, and I was present. Soon after I got out of the shower my mom, her man, my beasts and I crawled into the car and took a tour of good Christmas lights. When I got in the car, I thought I would rather have all my pubes tweezed out, one-by-one by a Christmas Elf than sit in the back with my beasts and pretend to give a shit. On the ride my sweet as pie boy kept getting in my face and making weird noises, as 9 year old boys are wont to do, and I wanted to push him away and growl, "Get the hell out of my face." But I didn't. I pretended, and in that pretending The Black Puppy began to recede. Slowly my boy became all cute and funny to me. The lights we had headed out to see became ooo and ahhh worthy.

I had been dreading the after hours Santa preparation once the beasts were in bed, knowing that The Black Puppy would be back with a vengeance, but to my surprise that puppy rolled on his back and I stroked his belly as I set out my kids' gifts. I let myself be sad, and then I wasn't. I thought about how I wish things were different, and then again how perfect things are as they stand. I laughed to myself remembering Savior Single Mama calling me one Christmas Eve sobbing, "Can you please come over and help me put this fucking American Doll changing table together?" We bonded over the ridiculousness of that 2 a.m. project.

Being with my kids today, (even though they woke me up at 2:55 a.m., 4:30 a.m., and finally at 6:20 a.m. in their excitement), was perfect. It was full of my heart bursting with mad, mad, momma love for them.

As I was pulling into my mom's driveway for a Christmas Day lunch, all dolled up, and looking very presentable (though un-showered, that was just too much), the Dave Matthew's song Stay came on and I was awash in gratitude. I love that song. And when I started singing, I realized The Puppy was nowhere to be seen. His breath was no longer hot on my heels. I had survived. It really wasn't pretty. I ate my way through most of it, smoked my way through a lot of it, but I also just let this Christmas be what it was, and in that acceptance I found peace. Over the last 24-hours I kept reminding myself that The Black Puppy was only nipping in that moment, but he would tire soon, or become distracted by a squirrel, and that the sadness that he brought would not be my permanent state. I did not clog my tender heart with fear about my sadness. I did not add more bricks to my wall, and that gave my heart room to hold both sadness and joy. Like a lava lamp, my heart circulated this oil and water mix of love and loneliness for 2 days. It was a beautiful dance.

Now I'm happily curled up on my couch in my leggings and big sweatshirt. Neither lonely, nor bursting with love. I'm just writing. Being. Letting life continue on, as it always does, until it doesn't. Merry Christmas. This year, I tamed a puppy.