If I never saw  
anything at all, if being were only a way  
of attending the present, 
could we still be who we are? 
Would all the wants and ways 
of staying the same 
still be available if life were lived in felt? 
Goals met and attended 
yet not seen, 
would they still hold weight? 
When art and color and rapid strobe feelings 
are put on hold, 
does the meaning wane? Do 
my words cease to mean 
whatever they meant 
in the fragile orbs I closed to sleep? 

Chapter 17

This is a project, people. I’ve talked for 6000 years about writing a book. My problem is that I don’t have a story. Nonfiction, I know – but I like the idea of creating my own world. So I’m going to sprinkle some chapter ideas here and there every week or so.

If we didn’t tell them what we were planning, it wouldn’t cause as much of a problem.

Easier to get forgiveness than permission.

So why was my heart beating all rapid? Why were my palms slick and my deodorant suddenly so fragrant?

Throwing up was not an option, but suddenly I was wistful for the thick gack of muck in the back of my throat. Anything to get rid of this feeling.

My fingers drummed on the upholstery. My eyes focused on the silver of the door he’d come from, so tightly frozen that every blink blistered the image into my retinas.

If we did this, I realized, if we went through with everything we planned, it would never be the same. Our lives would forever be defined by this choice. One shift of the gear into drive and there was no turning back. Well, that’s not true – it was a four hour drive. Then we had to find them, and that was probably not going to be as easy as I hoped.

Also we had to steal the baby.

That could be problematic.

So I guess technically there were plenty of chances for a change of heart.

Can you steal something that belongs to you?
For that matter, can a baby belong to anyone? Isn’t that like slavery or something? People aren’t property. But I made her, she was mine. I wanted her. If I didn’t have her, what was the point?

Of living, of dying, of making another. Eating or breathing. Loving. Skin to skin and eye to eye with another only to be thinking of how much I wished I could trade everything to be someone else. Someone’s mother.

This is what got me so whacked out. Thinking in terms of maybes and could be’s instead of what is and isn’t.

The door opened.

Head down and shoulders hunched, he was coming.

It was happening.

I rocked from the weight shift as he entered the car, smelled the unexplainable smell of him.

This was it. He breathed in and hummed his nerves out onto the dashboard, then turned to me, pulling the sunlight out of my shadow.

It was time.

Writing Prompt #125

Your writing prompt: something wrapped

My parents went through a phase of not wrapping Christmas presents.

We never had Santa Claus at my house growing up (*gasp* I know, right?) so all the pressure fell squarely on my parents every year.

There was one year I wrote a letter to Santa, convinced that he would somehow find it. I was too old for that shit even then, I think I was in maybe the second or third grade, and even though we never used our stockings for gifts (not until I participated in Steen Christmas did I ever realize how awesome stocking stuffers are), I left that note sticking out of “my” stocking. It was still there the next morning. I remember exactly how it looked, untouched.

Anyway, so several Christmases around the time I was six, we were instructed on Christmas morning to hide in my bedroom under a blanket (I remember that blanket, too. It was green checked and pretty thin and not warm for shit) until Larry gave us the go ahead from the hall.

We’d streak down the hallway and fishhook around to see the Christmas tree, where all our presents had appeared splayed out as only Anita could muster the gumption to do.

It was one of these Christmases that I got SheRa dolls, which now that I think about it doesn’t make any sense. I couldn’t watch the Smurfs because Gargamael and Aesrael were demon names but SheRa and her skimpy clothes and sword for impaling were okay? Parents are weird, man.

So SheRa was there, along with all her buddies. I was amped enough about it that I remember nothing else I got that Christmas.

But here’s the thing – that was it.

Just the one turn, and then boom, the excitement was done.

That’s why (besides the fact that Santa comes to our house thankyouverymuch) I always wrap presents. They may get dollar store hairbrushes, wallets, and an orange, but by DAMN that stuff will be wrapped.

Because there’s just something about it. A package, a mystery. The suspense, even if you have an idea already.

And because Christmas isn’t Christmas without a big pile of trash at the end.

And this concludes my oddly placed post about Christmas. In August.

Writing Prompt #287

Use these two metaphors in a poem: “an inch of scorn” and “a cradle of beliefs”

It was never easy being the one who was different.
Never a sigh out of place but a gut filled with longing
Somewhere I knew there would answers abound
But I was behind. Blind.
Out of touch.
There were things to say
Bursting to be born from my thoughts
But they wouldn’t have listened.
They would have read their preferred reaction
In their leather bound books of exclusion,
nestling back into the cradle of their belief
Assured that they would come out the winners.

And where it hurt me before,
Shattered the shell I’d constructed
Left open and raw,
Now it was healing.
Replacing the ache for approval,
I look down and sideways,
Never allowing one
Within an inch of my scorn.

There could be another way,
Soothing and warm,
Buttered over with forgiveness and acceptance
But we seem to prefer ice
Sharp words and looks
And separating the different
From the different
In another way.

Days 28 & 29 of 30 day challenge

day 28- A moment you remember being completely happy in and a description of why you believe you were. what is your definition of happiness?

As odd as it may sound, I’ve had these moments a lot lately.

It should sound odd because there are so many things that are unsure and incomplete. Job uncertainty, financial woes, messy house, stressful…stress.

But I’m surrounded by the people I love most in the world.
I’m married to my best friend, and deep down I know he loves me.
I have three of the coolest kids ever.
One of my greatest friends lives across the hall, and he’s good about sharing his Diet Mountain Dew and his iMac.

Happiness is knowing you’re valued. Knowing you’re needed and loved.

I have that. And I’m happy.

day 29- What you live for.

I live to see what’s next. Infinite possibility and never-ending choices. I live to watch and see what my kids become. To see how far I can go with my dreams.

Every day something is new. If I didn’t live in expectation I’d be constantly disappointed.

5 minute free write with keyword prompts

(sorry for all the writing exercises lately. I’m really trying to jumpstart creative juices.)

Sadly I looked down the stairwell and saw that things would never be the same. I would never see her again, never know what was going on in her mind or my mind with her. We were so disjointed but never when we were together. It was unreal, a swell in the darkness of the many things I didn’t know. I found a chair and made my perch while I wondered where to go from here.

Where do people go when the end of their lives has come? Not when they die, not that, but the point in life when they have nothing left to accomplish or live for. I suppose that’s when people get new dreams. Or buy a red sportscar and find a young mistress.

Is that all this was? Was I just midlife crisising and things were not as bad as they seemed?

I didn’t believe things worked that way. After all, mountains are high but there’s always another side. There’s always somewhere else to go. But I didn’t see that. There wasn’t anywhere else to go for me. Without her, all my hopes had vanished and I was left, soggy and hollow.

She wasn’t a friend. Not a sister, a lover, or my mother or daughter.

Day 26 of 30 day challenge

day 26- Your definition of love.

I will never be able to properly explain it.

I always thought it was corny, the on and on about a mother’s love. I did. I thought that all that rambling was just misplaced passion from women who had married the wrong man or had missed out on their dream.

I mean, I understood loving your kids…or I thought I did.

But I would die so that their lives would be one ounce better.

I look at Max and I see so much. Such a sensitive, loving little guy who would give anything to feel cool and accepted. So I give anything for him.

I see Ava and I see myself before I was beaten down by reality. I see the confidence and the creativity that somewhere I lost.

I look at Lucy and see the hope and promise of countless days unlived. The blind trust and dependence of someone who knows she is the sun and moon.

I cannot picture anything I’ve done or will do that will ever be good enough.

I burst inside if I think about it too much.

Writing Prompt #343

Start your story with this line: Her laugh broke the silence.

Her laugh broke the silence out of nothing – she hadn’t known it was coming or been able to stifle it.

Everything froze, and from the lowered kneeler levels behind sixty pews, every eye in the room sought her out.

The back of her neck burned with the effort of stillness, and she leaned into herself as if in earnest prayer while the tissues in her hand suddenly grew moist. Inches away, her sister’s stifled laughter at her discomfort shook through the wooden seat of the bench.

After a few cleansing breaths she dared to peek.

Everyone was still staring.

What the hell? Did everyone get a memo? Normal people pretend stuff like that never happened. What’s wrong with these people?

She closed her eyes again and waited. Surely music had to start, ashes and incense, wine and wafers…right?

Surely they couldn’t be waiting for her to acknowledge her misstep. And why had she laughed anyway? It was a sad occasion, stiflingly so. The woman up there would soon be reduced to the contents of an urn. She had loved her so. Even thinking about it now, her breath caught and she felt the tears return.

And with the tears, another laugh. Echoing off the walls and windows and caught in her throat all at once. The eyes, already watching her, grew wider.

Stop it, stop it, stop it, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

It was like the clock of awkward had reset itself and now something had to be done or they’d all be sitting in accusatory silence for hours. These people must have knees of steel.

Somewhere, mercifully, an organ began to play softly.

She took advantage of the distraction by banging her ankles in the escape from the kneeler, keeping her eyes down and moving quickly.

Looking back before ducking out the door, she thought of how amusing her laughter would have been to the one they were all there to honor. Maybe it was a message. A wink from the beyond.

What had they done? Why was it all about them?

She made her way into the sunshine, laughing until she cried.

Writing Prompt #100

Write for 10 minutes using “I used to think…” as your starter.

I love prompts like this.

I used to think my life would be all put together by the time I was thirty. That didn’t happen at all, but I’m so ok with that.

I used to think love was something you fall into. That line from Jerry Maguire “maybe love shouldn’t be such hard work”, that is to blame for so many sleepless nights of yearny wondering. Love is hard ass work. The end.

I used to think that I would have kids and I would have a clean house and everyone would be dressed like the JCPenney catalog. Other than Max’s weird picture poses, our life resembles absolutely nothing in the JCPenney catalog.

I used to think I wanted to be an actress, but then I realized rejection hurts me too much for that to ever be the right choice. Writing is not much better.

I used to think things were black and white, right and wrong. Now I know that life is lived in shades of grey.

I used to think that grey was only spelled gray. I don’t really know the proper way to spell it but I totally prefer grey these days.

I used to think that people who let their kids watch tv were lazy. Now….YO GABBA GABBA all the way.

I used to think that exercise sucked. Now, I still do, but I know it’s a good thing.

I used to think that pole dancers were trashy. I still do a little, but holy damn that is amazing and I wish I could do that. Sliding down a pole upside down using only leg muscles? Yes please.

I used to think vanilla ice cream was the best kind. No really, I did. I got over that pretty quickly.

I used to think that tanning beds were okay. Like, last year. But they’re not, and now I’m crocheting a sunhat.

I used to think convertibles were the best cars ever. Now all I can think of is what happens when the material starts deteriorating and the car just LEAKS. LEAKS!

The timer went off. The end. I love you.