Monday, June 25, 2012

Aspergers Tree

I like to hang upside-down -from trees. My favorite tree has always been the Dutch Maple in front of my parents' house. Hanging there would help put life into perspective. Sometimes it would even help to remind me how ephemeral life is. Like the time the branch broke and my knees clung to it as I lay on my back, winded and suddenly looking at the world from yet another perspective. I laid there silent until I heard my parents tell me to get into the car; it was time to go to my grandparents' house. 
I tried hanging upside-down from other places; jungle gym bars, pipes, rock-walls, but they weren’t the same. Life was too predictable from those areas. I knew it was only a moment before I’d be interrupted by someone else who was clinging to the bars or scaling the wall, or worse, a nervous teacher who told me to stop or I’d get hurt and send me to the principal’s office when I tried to tell them I was fine –I’d only fallen on my face that one time

Somehow hanging upside-down from trees was my, “just right.” Depending on the branch I chose, I could watch an ant-hill without interrupting, make patterns from bark, sweep away footprints and magically disappear, watch Paul-Michael break his arm showing off, sneak up on my sister, or do just about anything. 

The fact is, everything was better when upside-down in a tree. When I walk around like everyone else, it’s like a head-rush. I feel too much blood throbbing, not enough air circulating, and my thoughts don’t flow clearly. Although I have to tolerate the overwhelming vicissitudes of thought-clot for longer and longer periods of time as an adult, it hasn't cancelled out the fact that my life simply doesn't work the same as other people's.

Somehow I've lost the knowledge that childhood provides.  Growing-up became a death-sentence. I remember how I once remedied that; climb up, hang upside-down, and let my thoughts line themselves up.  

I keep trying to live my life right-side-up to fit in, but I don't.  I have poor social graces, and know so much I sound like an idiot.  I've been taught not to like that about me.  But it's not right.  I'm no child; in fact, I have children of my own; by now I should accept that my life is upside-down... and that I'm approaching it all wrong.  

I'm not like other people.  Adult Aspergers Syndrome makes life a confusing ball of being called out on "poor-judgment" -helping at-risk kids on their ground instead of chiding their behavior, providing the comfort when a child enters into the hell of an isolated anxiety attack so she can stay grounded, understanding a language that is unspoken.

I guess that's why onlookers let people die in the street instead of help; why people follow learned rather than natural behavior.  I don't get it; I never will.  I can pretend I do, but the more I pretend, the further from myself I fall.  And there is no branch in the bend of my knee to sooth me out of fear.  At least then I was still oriented, I could still understand what happened.  
Right now I'm a confused adult living in fear.  Without a tree to hang from, I fall into its quicksand.  The more I struggle against my natural inclinations, the deeper my fear sucks me in.  No branch.  Not even a rock to help me get it over with.  

I struggle daily with being afraid.  With the fact that my thoughts need more than a tree to grab.  The funny thing is, I know what I need.  I need acceptance.  Not the kind that comes from other people, but the kind that comes from within.  I need to stop being afraid of my ex-husband, and face my life head-on.  But it's so confusing; so overwhelming.  And I need to climb to the tallest of trees so that I can think straight.  To get back to who I am. Because maybe it was never about hanging, but the climb.

My shoulder has healed.  I will begin today.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Strings Attached

Lists make us feel better.  They tell us what to buy at the market, what to do in a day, what order to play songs for an audience, and in the case of successful people, provide long-term goals and remain on an individual -in a wallet or dresser-drawer -serving as a map for what measurements should hold true.

I had such a list; two, actually.  One contains what I want in life, areas I want to improve and constantly strive to continue to work at such as being a good mom and honest with myself; the other a theory I have aligned with major findings in philosophical trends atomically found in both linguistics and education.

Not very surprisingly, I remembered my media theory and forgotten my life-goals.  To an even lesser extent, I've found that the list I'd been following for the past two years wasn't even my own, but that of conformity to more traditional "norms" established by the puppeteers who hired me for innovation and talent.  They may have been the ones to ultimately cut those strings, but I was the one who tied them to me.

I lost myself.

I didn't even do so with inspiration, art, or vision.  Rather, I lost myself trying to compete on a playing field that wasn't right for me.  The job was, but the choices I made to try and satisfy the movements of the district did not come from within me.  They came from a failed attempt to give what I thought they wanted of me.  And it wasn't enough; not for them, but really not for me either.

I create.  I do so well.  I have passion, charisma, empathy, and love not only for vehicles of understanding, but for love.  I have loved more children than I can count, and most of their names are forgotten in the happy past of deflated aspirations.  My ability to be an amazing teacher was reduced because I tried to follow foreign choreography, instead of taking the shape of the music in my heart.

I compromised myself.  Had I remained true, and done what was expected without fear, I could have avoided jumping through the hoops and taken on the obstacle course for the win.  My responsibility in my job-loss is less of a sacrificed martyrdom, and more of plain death.

I died.  I tried to make everyone around me happy, and exchanged my trademark fire for dead-fish hand-shakes and subservient equivalents of, "yes masser," when called on behavior and judgment that -when provided with the whole story, would have held me in favor rather than left cowering and crying in the next room, confused as to what I'd done wrong because my Aspergers mind thought differently.

My next endeavor has to be true to who I am.  I understand boundaries, mores, and situational proprieties now.  I know what has a place where.  My mistake was giving more than my all, it was in giving all of me.  My intentions have always, and will always be for the greater good.  I believe I've learned the tools needed to achieve this because I can compromise without compromising myself, can share my love of learning through teaching, and dance to my own music, unashamed, and without any strings attached.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On Apartments

I have recently moved into an apartment for the first time in my life. So much newness. My first obstacle to overcome was my own snobbery. I’ve been a home-owner since I was in College due to inclement hallways and a senior year of bad roommates where I committed the evil sin of leaving the one beloved roommate behind.

The first thing I noticed when I moved was my age. I didn’t fit the bill -much older than half of the residents; much younger than the other half. Ironically, my children and those of the other tenants all seemed to be the same age. There is the blue-haired lady who wears red lips and heels to help her into a whopping 5’2”, the girl who may have been my student a few years ago, the overbearing older men –always willing to hold a door and offer a beer -and the younger men who look down when I walk by so as not to get in trouble with their girlfriends, the maintenance man who has fixed all of my problems within minutes of my asking and has no problem lingering for conversation.

And there is the distant curiosity. The anti-snob factor, if you will. I watch the pierced mother sledding with her daughter every day. I see that the blue haired lady doesn’t have to walk far in her high heels and high hair; her husband, gentlemanly and serene, pulls up the car to the rear door so she doesn’t slip. The middle-aged men and their ladies cleaning off a car together, cigarette smoke blending with the winter breath, laughing and invisible to critical neighboring spies. The lonely divorcee who might be a saving grace to more than just his children.


I learned time. Quite by accident, I learned that icicle factory in the sink is not a six a.m. activity. Hammers are strictly afternoon tools. I learned that my need to be done with the weekly housework before I shower should not include vacuuming; those fall in the same category as hammers, as do musical instruments, super-man capes, and children’s video’s that encourage children to, “say it louder!” Evening activities go on even after I’ve fallen asleep at the late hour of 8:30, as evidenced by parking cars, stair climbing, and door closing/key jingling. In sum, time and noise are one and should be respected in conjunction with the hours one can visit the attic.
I’ve found that cigarettes permeate more intensely than incense, candles, or bad fish. They are locked into the paint, seeping into the hallways from neighborly apartments, floating up from the balcony into the eaves of the sliding doors. Even when the smell is less direct, the obtrusive allergen re-fills the room in time for me to return home from my shopping or what have you. In the same fashion, dust seems more unruly than it did in a large home with dogs, cats, and no vacuum. My furniture has developed a magnetic field for dead skin and other flaky masses.

I’ve also learned the value of drop-cloths. In my stubbornness, I insisted that my plants move in with me to make up for the no pet factor and they are a bit intrusive on the size of the living-room. I am glad to say that my plants are now house-broken. Where they used to leak and destroy wood, carpets, and walls, they now keep it on the plastic or to themselves. The plants do like it here. They get more attention due to the small living quarters of pots and seem to be adjusting well. Only the peonies remain in hibernation.

I found that my minute bathroom does two new things. In my home, I had a jet-powered tub with ample space surrounding for candles, salts, and pampering. The only problem was that there was no water pressure so it took over a half hour to fill and the bathroom never warmed up enough to balance the bathtub temp. Being that this tub is a, “normal” size, it fills up within minutes in the single digits and the bathroom air works as a humidifier rain-forest. The toilet seat acts as its own stunt double acting as a table for awry candle wax and mug stains.

I’ve also discovered my couch. This beautiful mission seat was the perfect company companion for years in a ginormous living-room, but I only used it when company was there. My kids were in their beds upstairs and sleepy children do not do stairs well so I usually stayed in my room to read and write and watch movies after they went to sleep. At one point I had all of my belongings in my room so that I could keep safe behind a bureau-barred-door without fear of destruction. More than two thousand square feet of living space and I confined myself to 12x12 feet and a closet. I never grew accustomed to that living room. I created my own space of bookshelves, chairs, my easel and my desk, but never ventured to the living room where my beautiful couch begged for my bottom.

For years I turned a plot of dirt into a beautiful yard. I manicured acres, building stone patios –plural. Turning hills into a flat yard, and dirt into soil. Wood into arbors and fences. I worked so hard on that yard. Worked on it and worked on it but never played in it. So much beauty I created. I became slave to a dream of better houses and gardens, never making a home that was within my reach. I kept busy in distraction and dream and whisked my kids to a playground a few miles away, a pool in a gym, and church garden days. I had missed the point.

I believe it is a combination of my distance and enslavement that make moving to an apartment from a Barbie dream home so fluid. I have the opportunity to sit on my couch daily, have taken a bath-bath at least once a week instead of the once a month, and keep my plants green and squirrels fat. My children did not loose a yard, they do not miss being cooped up behind a barred door, and now our kitchen pours itself into the living-room with the fluid transition of bookshelves and light. My guitar, keyboard, and easel are out, and my vacuum is only needed once a week. I watch people instead of looking for my next project, and my voice is returning to me through my brush, my guitar pick, and my writing. I am knocking on doors for the first time in my life, stepping away from the limits of a closed mind, and living fearlessly and without limits.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


 It’s important to be the best at something. My talent has always been knowing whether someone likes butter. It’s a secret that my grandmother taught me under the pee-gee hydrangea that canopied those who sat beneath it like a fairy tent; my grandmother on her stomach and me on my legs "criss-cross applesauce. " She delicately waved her hand over the un-mown tufts of lawn, teasing the long clumps of green grass, and when she lifted it, a buttercup would magically appear where there was only grass a moment before. She taught me how to pick only the four-petaled flowers. “Be sure they look as though they have melted butter resting in the cup,” she would tell me. “Then pick it as close to the root as possible so that your hand doesn’t make a shadow on it.” The trick was that the person who you were testing for butter had to have her face directly in the sunlight so that she had to close her eyes or go blind trying to keep them opened. Drinking in the sun with freckles would melt the butter gland in the neck. She told me that to attract this gland, it was important to lightly tickle the throat with the buttercup… not to hard, or the butter from the flower would stick rather than reveal whether they liked butter or not. Amazingly enough, my grandmother’s secret has been on the nose 100% of the time. See; I can tell. You like butter.

A Quiet Place

My quiet place is high in a tree. I am hidden by purple maple leaves until they turn brown and fall off. Since the first time I climbed it, that tree has made space for me. Toward the top is a fork, split in three with the branches spread as a seat. I myself broke off a thin branch that cut into the spot; it became the perfect hanger. In that tree, I played pirates with Angie, star command with Paul Michael, and wild-child with Jenn. When everyone got called home to dinner, the tree would become my harbinger. I would get my back-pack filled with my favorit books, a sketch pad, and notebook, (maybe some stolen treat from the kitchen) -and decide what I wanted to do when I got there.    I could spy on Phillip as he rode his bike down the street, listen in as Danielle and Debbie argued on whose cabbage-patch kid’s birthday it was. I could be an elf. I could write the history of the world. I could be me. Last year, I visited my parents house. It didn’t look right. My father had cut down all of the trees –including mine. I had hardly pulled up when the tears came. I parked, shut off the car, and let my parents take care of the children. I walked up to the stump, silently cursing my father, and sat there, thinking of the time a branch broke and I lost my breath; of games I created. I remembered freedom of invisibility beneath the cloak of leaves. I’ve had pleanty to be angry with my father for; and surprisingly have let it all melt into acceptance. I will not; however, ever forgive him for cutting down my childhood. For desintegrating my quiet place. For lying about his reasons. And for taking away my tree.

Reaction to Douglas Wood

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sketching Space

My room is on a floor. Strange how I remember exactly where I was each time when I start charcoaling after a long hiatus. First, on the floor Sophomore year in my college dorm; several times on the floor in the living room, in a studio when I worked at a boarding school, and last night on a rug watching Hackers. My room consists of me, my drawing board, my box of charcoals, by large-print paper (it seems to be the only size my hand can control) and a shirt that can get dirty. I’m comforted by my creation, fours it’s been the same study. Female head with hands at 24”X36”. I made two last night. The loneliness of not having my children with me was forgotten. I was in a room –no. I was in a place. I was happy.


Plucking a Swan

I plucked a swan. I dealt with overstepping my welcome with a capstone project, beginning unfinished proposals, refusing job offers that would change my direction, realizing deadlines two months too late, researching unfinished projects, and just-missing an opportunity with an esteemed colleague,
With the spring semester coming to a close, all that I have not done seems outweighed by the realities and vicissitudes of actualization. My ideas were made impotent by circumstances beyond my control. I had to learn to let the boat take the lead while I sat without hands, even -to paddle through the endless dark water, overwrought with leviathan and endings.

But as I sat in the uncertainty, I was able to stop looking down into the darkness that could consume me if I were to tip. I was able to just sit in the boat. As I sat, a feather fell from the empty grey sky and spoke to me, “this feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.” I stared, listening to the feather, and soon enough began to believe in it. As I closed my eyes and breathed in the intentions of my failures, I was able to piece together the purpose behind my attempts. I had been letting Pandora’s box eat me whole; allowing myself to tear a bird of beauty bald in my own desperation.

In the boat, I shamefully released one tear for what I had done. It fell upon the feather and good intentions began to pour out from me. I was ashamed, but know I need to let that go to recognize that endings will always surround me; and so will hope.

The murky sludge surrounds my boat, and goes down, down to the bottom, and perhaps it is there that the water will be made clear. Unfinished projects are unfinished, deadlines re-set, and opportunity is always waiting. The boat stirred forward on its’ own accord. I am adrift, but at least not sinking.

While staring at the feather Iglanced forward, in hope of a clearing, and am reminded of Amy Tan's feather, more for luck than a pluck.  She is able to see that, “this bird was once a duck that stretched its neck in hopes of becoming a goose, and now look! --it is too beautiful to eat.” I am thankful for the literature that guides me; for the wisdom of others to bring all of my good intentions into being, and most of all, for the good intentions that drive me. For my children. For love.

*Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. NY: Penguin, 1989. pp 17.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What a Game

I stand tall in my red patent-leather stilettos to balance the conforming parts of our thematic red-white-and blue for our faculty meeting-day attire. This would be fine, had I not also worn a skirt with an unknowingly high slit.  

It didn't used to be so high, but age, like waist lines, shortens things in unexpected ways.

But there will be no more subtle attempts at fitting in while remaining true to myself.  This winter, I was let go.  Budget cut-backs like battle-axes 

Did I ever fit in?  I had three students who didn't want to learn how to write; they only wanted a passing grade for playing school well.  They didn't even take advantage of writing persuasively which surprised me; after all, they convinced even themselves that they weren't responsible for work they didn't do and shouldn't be "punished" accordingly.  They have no idea that enabling of that sort will not go far in their college-bound ventures.  

Ah, entitlement; what a game.

I don't think its possible for me to conform on any level, not even when I try.


I remember reading a character of Cisneros; her youthful rebellion against waiting on the hand of mournful regret on embracing hand; a sign that the wild horse-women have given up.  I hope we are just waiting.  

Unlike Nenny, I am no Magdalena, allowed to be softer when I come home; I am not even Esperanza growing up too fast; which is more than I can say about my daughter; also born in the year of the horse.

I wanted to cover up the dragon tattoo I etched into my skin so long before I knew what it meant, not even knowing that an Asian horoscope existed, only to find the dragon to be the year of two-lovers (twelve years apart) and an ex-husband –all horrid.  All wrong.

Many argue that I should have put the tattoo on top of the weak symbol, but I chose my own symbolic form.  Rather than cover up my past, the horse rides above the dragon with powerful front legs; a constant reminder of overcoming.

My children will know what it means to treat women well.  My daughter will not settle for abuse of any kind, and my son will NEVER justify any violence (seen or unseen) toward women.  

I am more than a horse.  I am a mother.  I am a survivor.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Disappointment; like a Drug

What happens when the light gets blown out?  When an 8"x11" document shows up in the mailbox having the power to minimize custody?  I know that when it comes, part of you dies.  Life becomes bleak; fifty percent less humane.  You have to shade disappointment from loved ones in a cloak of rot.  The new lens that accompanies this shattered dream you knew as life, has the power to help see the cliched glass as half-full, -but full of what?

Though not purposefully chained to it, the drug disappointment is force-fed until it creates addicts of us.  This over-abundance of failed case after case after case knows our name, where we live, and how to hurt withoug visible scar or bloodshed or any evidence of its whereabouts whatsoever.  It is; in fact,  so subtle that no-one can see the depression creeping into our hearts, "sugaring over like syrup sweet" until it is tar-black and pumping toxic thoughts and fear through our systems.

When lies are accepted as truth, and fear is mistaken for guilt, the truly guilty party goes free and with the table's winnings.  But nobody looked at his hand.  Both bullshit and bloody, the truly culpable goes galloping into the red sunset, and tells you and everyone else that the red was the sunlight.  He insists it was an illusion; imagined, ignited, and false.  The court is so tangled at this stage and provoked by my intrusion on the beautiful view he had painted, that it scolds the face that holds her breath in fear for trying to prevent such lovely red tones, mistaking her breathlessness (-held; of course, because she knows his hand so well) for guilt.

And so the bevel came down; off with my head and out with my heart.  It was captured in ink, both type-set and print.  It was damning in ink, their mind-set succinct.  I lost so much, and my name is muddied.   No longer seen as fair, I damned fairness down the basement stairs, screaming rampant through my empty house.  I was damned.  I was drained.  I questioned righteousness and no longer believed in much of anything, least of all myself.  Disappointment, like a drug, takes over so quickly.  And I so want to get off it's needle-tipped ink.  I so want to feel clean; feel whole, have my kids.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Insulting as "Always"

Insulting people is one of the more exquisite art forms of the English language. Be it in physical form, by "biting our thumbs," "flipping the bird," and "mooning" -or the more loquacious bouquet of four-letters and their kin, insulting one another flares almost instinctually when menacing malapropisms spew forth. Unfortunately, events have us believe that we need to swear in order to do so successfully. By debunking them demonstrating with "X" words, I will show that a harmless little word, can indeed be the most potent.

When someone is up-front and launches the trusty four-letter F-bomb, It's lands with the snap of a small fire-cracker in the palm of an open hand. Sure it leaves a burn, but it doesn't completely blow up the clenched-fist grenade that might leave the recipient without an appropriate finger to further the formality.

Sometimes, you only need a piece of something, like a piece of "S," or having a fat piece of "A." These words tend to connect with a string of linear insults -often having to do with my mother. Again, the slang is slighted both by it's over-use and the strange associations I make to comedies that involve an overweight male-actor who finds he has friends when he needs to confront the "bad-guy."

The five-letter female follow-up bites me in the smirk most personably. Usually when a woman is called a female dog, she is trying really hard to be the "B" word anyway, leaving the insult instead as a compliment to the femme-fatale. When used on a man, the insult is usually said by another man. This leaves everyone speechless, being that you don't discuss religion, politics, or gender when passing the insult at dinner.

If one must force fowl language, it makes it that much more humorous, much like Ramona Quimby saying "guts" when she promises to say a REALLY bad word. It's cute, or even endearing to hear a novice try to sound bad-"A." So many small curses, so little creativity, so minor the insult.

Overall, if you think about it, it is easy to laugh at the tale-tosser's ignorance, smile (it is, perhaps one of the most underrated vocabulary words despite its overuse), and smile with mild wryness, mutter an almost rehearsed, "what?" or the superfluous, "what did you just say to me?" -all without getting fumed up.

Currently smirking at the dictionary of more "British" slang I have begging to pour like a pint from my fingers, I will withhold them and allow your imagination to run freely so I can enter into the one word that will piss off even the most titanium-sided egos.


As in: "You're ALWAYS so..."
  • Dramatic
  • Emotional
  • Quick to Judge
  • Arrogant
  • Insulting
  • Mean
  • Rude
  • Nosy
  • etc.

My conclusion is that one of the most underrated insults we sling around the mouth is the seemingly harmless word, "always." Although not the first word to meet the mind as "swear," it nonetheless has a tendency to send another person into a rage -especially when used as argumentative advantage. And; after all, isn't THAT the real point of insulting someone in the first place?

Friday, April 27, 2012

I Wish it Too

"Mommy, I wish I could live with you forever and with papa for sometimes."

The last words my son said before he fell asleep put me in a state of unrest. My heart breaks every time they go to with their father for "his" two weeks, but this phrase, uttered by my baby, haunted me to sleeplessness until morning.

I've had them for over a month now.  I've felt like myself for the first time in over two years.  I'm the mother I am, the mother I'm meant to be.  I give them so much; I give them all I am; I give it willingly.

But then, when they go; I'm empty.

I once thought that new love -one that takes the form of food, a lover, a sport -could fill their void, but to no avail.  I come close in the arms of my fiancee, but the wholeness of my being is lacking for the simple reason of my children not being nearby.  I search within myself, and it only proves time and again that the ME I've always been meant to be is, and has always been, "mother."

I'm not even maternal.  I'm probably more associated with being a dog-owner or horse-lover than a mom, but I only became whole when my daughter became part of me.  And I don't' mean that in the creepy, she's going to linger forever kind of way, but in the empty-nest way that a mother of very young children shouldn't have to experience.

I was so un-prepared to be a mother; I was ready to be hers.  I fought with my life to be hers, even sacrificed it, only to be revived so that I could be her living mother.

Initially, when deciding on a second child, my greatest fear with was that I might not love him as much; a fear overrun by reality and proven wrong the minute he became part of me; instead my heart doubled over and there was love to come.  So much more than I ever knew one person could hold; and so it was as I held him the other night, rocking him to sleep.

I should be driving to my fiancee's house, but my emptiness won't let me through the door.  I know with my mind I don't deserve the private hell I'm suffering, of my children being with my ex-husband; I fall so short of myself when they aren't with me.  I might be glad for the time I have without them, the time parents swear they'd use to do a million different things, but instead I try to rush into sleep.  I rush to the next time I see them.

I shouldn't be mourning their absence like death, but I do; a little every time.  Some of the greater hits I've taken have been more shattering than should be permissible in a mother's lifetime.  When they leave, sometimes I feel dead.  Sometimes I feel nothing.  Today I feel pain in my chest; -no. It's their absence.  Right now I feel their absence...

They are so young.  When my children tell me they wish they could be with me forever, it is next to impossible to hold back the tears, to not tell them that I want it, I want it even more than they do.  But they wouldn't understand at their age why I can't make it happen.  I've tried.  I've tried so many times and so hard and with so many attorneys but it's beyond my control.  For now, I'll just continue to miss them, and continue to wish for forever with them too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Castle Weeds"

image by slimmer_jimmer
I absorb the ground
My back-muscles drink the cold
Looking up I see
Sun-burned aster
long-stemmed, stretching
downward. Alive, listen
Blazing grey
dry, cool, still
drying the earth's sacrifice
Dry Hollow (wc/ hollow ng)
Whispering Rustling Worshiping
Proud Strong Endless Empty
Changing Knowing Touching
Frigid Hollow

Angelicum Eye

It was an eye that saw her grandmother's death, strung by an electrical cord from the rafters. She was nine at the time and it was ten years later. She stared into the April ocean, rocks in her pockets and determination anchored to her will. In all these years she had learned only one thing; her and her grandmother's fate were tied. She would never be the child-prodigy again, never run a bow across the violin strings again at all. She had failed them. She had failed at life. She put a fist around the cold, jagged stone and inhaled deeply and without thought. Wind cut her eyes, stopped her and breath, and caused her head to turn from the inevitable waves. The cold sucked an unemotional tear from her dry and intentional eyes. No feeling, no regret, no sense of anything but the pain of knowing that the only one who ever loved her would leave her in a tangle all her own, weighed down deeper so that nobody would ever find her the way she found her grandmother.

photograph (actually a drawing!) by an angelicum high school student (found through the school's website)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Murphy's Oil

After devouring as much cake as he could before it mysteriously disappeared into the hands, hatches and floors of the daycare, my son ran off with a friend and I had some time with my daughter.

We talked about her day. She was extremely excited about a new table and a new house and how nice it was to have a table; they had just set it up in the kitchen. My face started to sink as I listened through forced smile while she described to me my grandmother's dining-room table.  The one I'd lost in the divorce.

Childhood memories flooded my eyes, so I sucked them down toward my heart, stopping at my voice so I could share a singular memory from that childhood artifact that served as my inheritance. Rather than brand it as "mine," I thought I could simply share it with her from a distance.  I told her enough for her to know the table meant something to me; after-all, she could enjoy it, even if not with me.

When I got home, I started remembering.

Days like film-reels began at that table in my grandmother's house.  Friday nights, Saturday afternoons, weeks at a time in the summer, -stories like fairy-tales mixed with memories beyond imagination existed in that hearth center, a life-force that pounds even stronger sensed through the experiences of childhood.

Maybe its time for creative non-fiction to be a memoir, not for adults, but for the child inside who remembers Fourth of July like heaven, and thicket as a fairy fortress whose thorns protected me from dragons and angry babushkas.  Perhaps its time to nourish; time to get myself out of the rut and into a place that I remember as "safe" even when it did skin my knees to nothing.

My childhood exists somewhere in there.  I catch a shard-like glimmer of it on (very rare) occasion.  Maybe if I approach optimism like a quest, -risking an adventure to crack the stone of hardened memory.  Perhaps if I'm brave and take that risk, the light won't go all the way out, the way I so often feel it has.  I want so badly for it to be real.  I want so badly to catch fire once more.  And mostly, I want the light back so I can teach my amazing children how to keep it aflame throughout their lives.

Murphy's Magnificence

The night was horribly bittersweet. I hate going out after I've crash-landed at home but my son's recital was at 6:00. It was his father's week, and when I called.  He had already been picked up at daycare and  gone home, but the center was told that he would be back for the show. 

To be polite, his father isn't the exactly reliable when it comes to timeliness; to be polite, I had my doubts he would even show up.

I had exactly 30 minutes to debate the Murphy's Law bluff that if I went, my son would miss it, with the contra-indicative of the idea that if I missed it, he would be able to go.  I sucked it up and went, knowing that at least i tried; I couldn't control the inciting force otherwise known as the ex-husband.

I went through the inner montage of sadness, anger, frustration, "I knew this would happen" (among other, less-polite, inner dialogue) as the myriad teachers asked me where my son was.

I watched the show in its entirety, listening to his teacher say all of his lines.  My heart tightened into a fist that both squelched in my sorrow and tightened into anger.

Around the corner, a highly expectant and familiar face arrived as the parents and students dispersed to devour the cake.  It was the first time I had seen him in a suit. He was so handsome in pin-stripes and fancy man-shoes, my throat choked; I hardly knew what to do or say and doubted my ability to do either without breaking down into tears.

He'd missed it.

I was lost, but somehow managed a forced smile through my swollen throat and was able to comment on how handsome he looked. 

Then I heard a magical sound.  Teachers really are angels.  It was that moment, as my voice cracked that his teacher announced a special reprieve; the kindergardeners would preform an encore show -this time with the full ensemble cast.  My little man was great.  No.  

He was magnificent.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Little Trouble Maker

Aurelia’s youngest daughter was over the top that morning. It was worse than the bath tantrum that Sunday night, a forty-five minute scream-fest of refusal to bathe. It was like that now. She would get them, greasy, overtired, hungry; but at least now they were safe. Still, her daughter lacked the ability to understand the anger accompanying the confusion of separation. Was she being punished? He’d promised her punishment in exchange of any kind of retreat from him. Was she being blamed? Surely if she blamed herself enough for her child’s helplessness she wouldn’t be blamed by her children.

It was Wednesday. There were two semi-peaceful days of standard sibling pissing contests and territorial rivalry. The three girls were a handful, but they were with her; they were where they should be. But some days… Was she a bad mother to wish she had some alone time?

This morning alone, there were three incidents and a tantrum that shifted topic from socks to toys to buttons to yogurt to zipping to moving anywhere at all -another one of those days. She wondered how many letters would be sent to management that day regarding unwanted, screaming, children who woke them up before their alarm-clocks forced them into their days. She tried not to think about it; she was already running late and her new goal was to get everyone in the car, strapped, sealed, and delivered.

There would be two stops. She just had to keep them from driving her insane for two stops. When they got to the first, the tantrum got physical when her daughter slammed the buckle from her lap and at her face when she slid open the door. It hit her. Hard. Hard enough to welt; even with all she had survived, she kept the shame of bruising beneath blouses and boots.

But that wasn't the issue.

The trouble started when the car-seat hit her over the head. and started to scream. It was just like him. Suddenly she was in the kitchen, not next to the open door of her minivan, but besidethe refridgerator, wishing for the strength to hold it between him and her, realizing what a terrible idea that was only when he started to grab the bottles... beer, ketcup, and cracked them over the back of her head and shoulders. Suddenly her sweet, sweet daughter was him. She saw her as him.

And she was terrified that it wasn't over.  That it wouldn't stop. All the work it took to escape was in vain. Her daughter was her husband. She was crying, confused where she was, at the fact that her four year old had this power, this rage. What did she do? How did they get here?

"Mommy!!! Hurry up! Someone's coming! Someone's coming from the school!" Her oldest daughter saved her not only from humiliation, but probabl from having the kids taken away. She knew she was unstable, that this wasn't how it was supposed to be. She left that world so she wouldn't ever have to go back, and here she was again, perhaps even more scared of this new predicament.

By the time the director came out and confronted her, she had cleared the mascara from her eyes, covered her cheek with her hair and a scarf, and politely said, "yep. Just a little trouble from my little trouble maker."

She flashed an exceptional smile, and it seemed to please the director enough so that the quizzical look softened. Aurelia got up, hugged her youngest, and told her to have a great day.

They reached the second destination in silence.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Aurelia Now

Aurelia couldn’t kick a lot of things.  Not her cold, not her guilt, not her irritation, and not her own ass. Most of all, she couldn’t kick the road-kill that kept putting its stink on her love-life.  She felt like speed-bump of subtlety immediately followed by a pot-hole of disaster.

She should clarify the traffic signs; yellow light means to "proceed with caution," not speed up.  She keep hitting road-blocks, and couldn’t help but feel that she was the fender-bender on the side that caused the distraction that lead to a crescendo multi-car pile-up.

More simply put, she hated the morning after an argument.

She was so tired; ready to fall asleep but still on the phone.  All that resonated the next morning was the tension from his voice, so strong, laden with surmounting effort to not sound angry at something.  Her memory stood simply, staring with anxiety at my phone while she instead humored a solitaire addiction.

He doesn't get himself.

And she had no idea how to express herself.

I want to end it, not because I don't love him, but to cut the kite-string and let him go free so that he can move forward; so that I can catch up.  I've taken a fall that leaves me so far behind.

She knew who she was, and that it was no longer a part of her. "Becoming" as a recreation of self, was coming up anew and the present didn't align with their relationship.  She couldn't understand  his psychological-hell and he didn't get hers.  He could hardly admit to himself that the current Aurelia, the one who had grown and changed, was Aurelia NOW.

He was so convinced that she remained the person of their first six months together that he denied her reality, the result of so many changes that fell along their road.  The Aurelia of the last three years hardly occurred to him as the reality of her being.

She was so resentful, and jealous of this Aurelia he missed and loved so much.  When he invited her on his adventures, she was unable to go.  When she felt that she needed something solely for herself, he would feel betrayed, and get jealous when she didn't invite him. 
How could he go out on his own so easily without thinking of staying behind with her!  She knew she was being impossible, because really, stay behind to do what?  She had become boring, sitting on the sidelines while he explored things she couldn't be part of anymore.

And she knew he was unhappy.  If he wasn't ACTIVE and participating, he wasn't happy.  And she wanted him to be happy; though it was likely he wasn't, she knew she wasn’t.  She loved him to the ends of the world but was definitely not happy.

She hadn't been for a while.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I got hurt.

It was a rock-climbing incident with a fast-paced, reach-jump-catch-hang-&-relocate-body into position, rest, climb action.

Also known as a dyno, the maneuver shredded more than six muscles in my right shoulder.  The orthopedic surgeons told me not to climb for at least two years. 

The news broke my stride.  Why bother working out if I can't use my body? 

I got so hurt it made me sick.
But not from that nasty catch alone.

I got sick from a secret.
By keeping my private hell a secret, I slowly triggered chemicals in my body to react at a toxic rate.

I got so sick I lost my job.
They were kind about it. My position was reduced, but I think if my body worked right...
People don't ask about blood-shot eyes, dizziness, and shaking.
People assume and people talk, but they don't ask.

The first time I got sent home from work I was already divorced.  At the time, I had no idea what was happening to me, only that I needed to keep it secret so assumptions wouldn't be carried over to my ex-husband and my freedom to parent wouldn't be further taken from me.

I'm not sure which hurt happened to set the other off, or if they are even related.  Maybe it was the excessive amount of ibuprofen I took for my shoulder, maybe it was genetic.  In the end, I suffer from endocrine system dysfunction, kidney disease, hypo-thyroid syndrome, stage two spinal deterioration, fibromyalgia, exhaustion, and more; they all add up to incapacitation, and that's without staring face-front at the foundation of anxiety built from years of a sexually and emotionally abusive marriage that ended when he threw my two kids and me toward the bath-tub in a rage; it doesn't include the ever-present fear of not knowing what to expect.  It doesn't hold the threats of being locked away for a lie, the possible truth that he really would take the kids to South America and never return, it doesn't include the struggle and daily effort it takes to keep everyone "safe" in body and mind.

I don't overcome fear on a daily basis, I can't.  I get tired of fighting for my health, knowing I was a strong, beautiful, active mother who gave exploration, bravery, athleticism, and the world to my two kids... I dislike this woman who doesn't feel well enough to go outside to play catch with my son; it's a terrible place, being stuck in this secret of physical pain so that I get my share of custody without question...  I'm still alive!  I'm not repulsive.  I'm TRYING to come to terms with it... I just, I just miss my health.

And I want to be seen the way I know myself to be, before the stupid body decided to turn 84 instead of 34. Sometimes I have confidence.  It lasts shortly into the morning; a syncompated pattern of caffiene --> confidence --> getting to the job I have until June but need to keep to myself the sadness of leaving--> anxiety --> responsibilities --> exhaustion.  And I'm spent.  Emotionally and all at once, my bones feel more like a brittle over-growth of osteo-hormones than a systemic puzzle meant to keep my body in order.  The pain of walking.

The pain of moving forward.

I maintain the visage of wholeness, but I don't always feel that way because I have to face and feel the inside.   And looking in, I'm still perplexed at how I survive the day.  But I do.  I survive the day.

Monday, March 5, 2012

An Ironic Anagram

One can assume that a high-school is rife with germs.  The building itself acts as fly-paper for everything from sneezing to whooping-cough, swine-flu to athletes' foot, and sometimes even cooties.  It's a surprise that with such an increase in germatology (grown more so due to the mild winter) that we have yet another year with a reduction in staph.

Speaking as one with this reductive disease, I find that although it isn't officially recognizable, having it makes me feel like a paranoid asthmatic in a rumored roomful of tuberculosis.  People look at me with a mournful half-smile accompanied with a sigh. 

Is this how the sick are treated?  People expect less of you, to be nice; people let you sit near them, to be nice; people treat you differently, like you've turned to glass, like you are hollowing, like you are disappearing, to be nice. 

Meanwhile, I remain in full frontal, SCREAMING through my skin that I'm still here. 

But I'm not.  My efforts to look as though I'm full of strength and confidence sucks my marrow almost to the point of hollow.  Getting up.  Getting dressed.  Looking professional.  Walking through my door.  Driving once my car is started.  Turning the key to, "off" as I sit in the parking-lot to walk into the building.  Walking into the building.  Smiling.  Saying, "good-morning," and exchanging pleasantries.  Pretending I want to be there in front of the students.  Holding my stomach in place.  It’s all for farcical ostentation. 

Being here makes me sea-sick with sadness, caught in a storm.  I am out to sea.  I am RIFed. What an ironic anagram.

Friday, March 2, 2012


My children weren't planned.

Let me start again.  NONE of my life as I know it was planned.  I was supposed to get straight A's in languages/politics/pre-law, earn a full-ride scholarship toward an international law degree with an easily passed bar exam that I used as I got through my doctorate with innovative theories of boarder control so that by the time I was 35 I could live on a Ranch with a horse (maybe two), some dogs, and no need for fashion or material things.

In the world I grew up in, something like 9-11 could never happen, nor could horrible incidents like the high-school shootings.  The closest reality I knew were revved up versions of after-school knife-fights only one murder less the death toll a-la West Side Story.  Minimal carnage, specified racial fear.  I could walk away from these horrid realities, be mildly effected, and keep moving forward on my plan like it was a TV show.  I could move away from the cities that attracted attention, build hope in the third world, and end up in the suburbs that avoided it.

I would live a Ralph Lauren lifestyle with the Connecticut freedom of no commitment.

But it's not so simple.  Having children, no matter how "prepared" or unprepared any parent is, the raising of children completely  overrides any plans; take it or leave it.  Kids find out whether or not they were planned, wanted, or the result of some sick plan of ding-dong-ditch for citizenship.

Through my floor, I've listened to those told spitefully that they were unwanted.

Through my students, I've seen those suffer through well-intended, overworked, sucked-by-life single parents.  I've worked with coke-head pre-teens who know how unwanted they are for the simple fact that they practically sniff off of daddy's shoe to get a bit of his non-existant attention, or shave their wrists to catch lobotomized mommy's eye.

I've seen malnutrition in Haiti kill the children who died in the starvation of the nineties along with foot-long nipples attaching a something more akin to a feeding tube than breast years before she was raped by disastrous weather.

Our children can look into court documents when they become adults and find out a legal perspective that overrides everything they may have been told.  They can learn why one parent chose not to stay with the other parent.  They can come to their conclusion about what, "in their best interest" really means, and why anything that may have an effect on their protector easily overrides any option other than that they come, and have always come, first.

I have no problem with the fact that my children were un-expected.  But I hope that they always know, that they never doubt for a second, that they are and have always been wanted, and even more importantly, that they will always be; have always been, loved.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oedipus Wrecks

The mistreating of mothers began with Eve being spelled out as the original harlot, seeking the forbidden for Adam to enjoy.  She's not spelled out as being generous, just the committer of "original sin."  She gave birth to heaven and hell, and has since been the bane of mankind.  Then we think of her as a mother.  But not until after the complaining of her position as sin.
Literature has reinforced this negative image, blaming almost everything on mom, and it makes me wonder; why such a masochistic stance?  Why does it always come back to the mothers?  Seriously!  Why do kids blame everything on mothers?   Whether spoiled, or still are, or were cut off, or beaten, or caught beating off, or because mom was heartless, or narcissistic, or a martyr, an example, or "best-friend," or perhaps lacking in something...maternal, or paternal, or she was too fat, or thin, or boring, or dead, or "around," or drunk, maybe too sober, or sombre, or nurturing, or, or -Or!... -but, really; when!

Don't get me wrong.  I hate my mother as much as any loving child, but I don't blame her for that hate!  It's part of the natural cycle of traditional infantilism.  At first, you want to be/marry/be loved by her in youth, hate her in adolescence, allowing high-school to be the mutual battleground for cruelty and embarrassment, continue through college where it's smartest to speak through dad, and exchange niceties in exchange for the free babysitting after she gets her grandchildren.  Simple and standard issue hate, healthy as sin, everyone goes home a winner.

But to blame her?
That's just rude.

As adults we tend to think about mom's shortcomings and perhaps accept them, not because she's nice, or sweet, or "changed," but because it turns out, she didn't know what the hell she was doing when she had us, maybe still doesn't, and -if she managed to survive, because we are left with the question: would we want our children blaming us for those same reasons?  And if we've changed, isn't it also possible that mom has?  When will we realize that it may be a sham that who actually suffered through the dung-parts of parenting (memoirists excluded) ever wrote a book about parenting!

It's not the mom's fault past the suckling stage... which, many know can last well past the half-century-age stage.  When does mom -regardless of how much you hate her, ever get a break from the respite?  What psychosomatic symptom isn't her Freudian fault?  Hate her? Sometimes.  Love her, we hope.   But blame her for the course of your life?

Didn't the human race decide to blame God for that? (-not condoning, for the record)

So in celebration, let's not take any responsibility for ourselves, the course of our lives, or our actions.  Draw forth the grudges and forget already evasive forgiveness.  There is yet another myopic lens with which to view mistakes both past and present! 

So hate me if you must, but take responsibility for yourself and, if you're not happy with the one I gave you, get a life.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Being "Efficient" and Other Faux-Pas

My debit card was "declined" today.

I was so smart (in theory) doing a month's worth of bills all at once,  staggering the dates on the checks so something like a"declined" debit card would never happen.  It turns out, me and my, "efficiency" is worse than me and my famously "big mouth."

Who does that?  Who bounces a debit card!  And it gets worse!  It happened in front of my kids when we were getting tickets for a matinee!  Swallowing the bile of panic in my veins, the woman at the register saved me with the simplest act of kindness... lying.

She said that it was the wrong matinee time, darn, but she's sure we can go home and sort things out.  I maintained a smile that probably looked like something from British claymation and said, "we might as well as run some errands and go to the bank." I'm so good at subtle.  And not looking obvious (I'm hoping it passed for constipation or something other than freaking out).  We made it to the bank with white-knucked mom explaining that it was the 3-D and I needed us to go the regular showing.

I found my favorite banker in the universe (who shares my name, and probably knows more about me than all of my relatives put together).  She showed me just how deep the quik-sand was...

-For the record, people don't have to wait until the dates on the checks to cash them, checks can be cashed upon receipt.

As freakishly large as my eyes grew at seeing that she hadn't finished writing out what seemed like the number pi (without the decimal) that somehow represented my negative balance, my brain started to follow until its conclusion.  I think they might have needed an EKG or white light if she hadn't stopped and paused,

"Huh, I don't believe it," (I must have looked like one of those cinematographic images who freeze while the world goes on  She continued, "You only have one set of fees, you get paid tomorrow so all of this (pi+) goes away, you get one more set of identical fees, and your total damage is less than $100.  Also, you have some money in your savings, so if you still needed, you could use to do whatever you wanted to do with them for the week; you have full access to that account."  She looked at me, plainly and like a dear friend.

I can take my kids to the movies. I learned something about finances (with considerably less damage than could have surmounted, and chalk up my faux-pas to a memorable experience, as well as a strangely positive one of humanity involving a movie-receptionist and a banker.  If you two read this, thanks for supporting what it means to be a good person.


Monday, February 27, 2012


I'm in the magnificent place where I actually GIVE myself time/space to write and "art" creatively.  Unexpectedly, this also gets my daughter up on her "art" (we have been alphabetically inspiring our sketch-books with our own takes on famous works /by artist).  

Today, she (age 9) was actually able to identify a work inspired by Albers' "Homage to the Square" at an annual art show.  My house is a mess, but my daughter is mastering Art History.  Go figure.

She wonders why I don't teach Art.  I love art. I love to look at it, write about it, analyze the time period around it, reproduce it with my own interpretation (usually find what the artist proposed to evoke and attempt it's inverse), share the original with my daughter so that she can see that not all art needs to photocopy, but that inspiring something in others may actually be more freeing to the artist, causing abstraction to drive forward innovation so that others can see, react, feel...

I'm just a Bill

I braid my hair un-noticingly until I look up and notice the habit I picked up from "Reality Bites."

I'm experiencing doubt.  Angst.  Willing "Diabetic Coma" from a meal that a thinner me was named for, begging a mild headache to wash away the questioning.

Great, I'm doing a double-take on making a ton of commissioned income because I'm an inexcusable creature of habit.  And because I had breakfast with co-workers and felt like a person. (yeah, yeah, eat-your-heart-out Hallmark.)

I WANT to finish out the year.  I feel like I'm supposed to.  Gut-feeling.  It's one thing to make a rash change of career one-year short of retirement, but an entirely different one to have other lives depend on you and make such brash change.

So, "I'm sittin' here on Capitol Hill."  Just sitting.  Anyone know how to be a professional writer with benefits?  I can define the term, "irony."

Thursday, February 23, 2012


If I were a character in "The Matrix," I'd be in the original, sitting in front of a juicy, rare prime-rib saying, "I don't wanna remember nutt'in, Noth-Thing,"  because the career I've called my path for more than a dozen years seems to have let me down.  To be clear, it's not my job, but the infrastructure that keeps me bitter-sweet to teaching.  I love to teach students, I won't kiss their ass.  I can turn the other cheek to things like insults, swearing, racial/sexist comments etc.  I know that once I pull, I've hooked the fish and can then teach the fish (to fish); this doesn't go over well, this theory of humility and complete lack of ego.

Which leads me to my overall goals in finances:  Cost of living + fun for my children + books + (ok, general retail therapy with a high arch in shoes).  Meaning:  I have no desire to go into administration.

I'm not looking to further my position from teacher to... whatever, and have completely original ideas that go well with English Leadership conferences and on "lists of things my employees CAN do," but in reality get rejected from actual classroom practice because we can't guarantee all levels of parent will approve" yaddah-yaddah.

And now I come to the horcrux.  My position has been eliminated.  I can do anything, but the specific certification (of many) for which I was specifically hired, has been cut due to that ever-economic favorite: budget cuts.  I got a pleasant ending, not a pot of gold, but not a bed of spikes either.  And the root of my disappointment came down to two very simple, specific ideas.

I am unhappy


My feelings have been hurt

Yes, FEELINGs (not to be confused with my dastardly and non-existant "ego" I was mentioning not having).  I feel like my job cheated on me.  Twice!  The first time, I chose to leave (another time, another place) and the second time, I was left behind after trying to be enough for it again and again!   Will it never be happy!  And it turned out to be me that hadn't been happy after all!  Three years and I needed to be the one ultimately dumped!

I went through all the emotions...  What are those five stages that has "pissed off" somewhere between in the middle?  Well, I think that that whole, "thinking its all my fault" is a sham.  I'm a damn good teacher.  It's been a nearly-nine-year-run (but not ten; heaven forbid I make state retirement!) and I've been shammed.

And now I'm looking at places that want to pay me.


And now I feel like I'm the one whose been cheating!  What the hell?  Just because I like a nice steak.  Figures I'd get called on that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Scene Density

My eyes are closed and I see a barn; do you?  What's it smellike, tastelike, soundlike, movelike, feellike?

Now it rains.  The color runs down plank.  Spores find homes with termites, gnawing loud against the grain.
The color drains,

away from the walls, poisining the grain.

Red now russet now sienna it fades

into the landscape, causing runoff in the fields.

Sucking green from grain into sienna into whitish, into mud without a...

The ground was thirsty.
The frost heaves crack the earth's tongue while termites slave-away.

They've been busy
Carvng beauty, story, time, age, generations, secret children's incantations

As the canvas drips

Red barn drops
from the corner

The door is gone

The scene is open
Carved by lifetimes, colored bursting lichen
Exhibit "barn" is now complete

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Go Away

     I was not allowed to have pets as a child.  So, like any young lady, I fed a stray cat out of my club-house.  I would hide her in a school-bag and bring her in my room to put bows on her fur and get quite scratched up in the process.  (She didn't want to wear them any more than I did.)  I would try to make a drawer into her bed to pretend she was,  "my baby bunting" and probably even closed the drawer with her in it when my mother walked by.
     All this would probably have gone smoothly, except that my mother had a fancy living-room that we were only allowed to use for holiday gatherings.  And, of course, my mother found out the hard way that I was harboring a cat...
     To help my mothers' cause of shooing the cat away, my father would look at her and yell , "go away!"  The cat eventually responded to this and thought she was given a name, so the ever confusing frustration between father and cat became further confused with the nomenclature of the feline and her care-free caress when he shouted this at her.
     Eventually we kept the cat, who ironically did not go in the livingroom after the solitary act of ownership.  She died.  Suicide.  Not something I thought cats did.  She ran as fast as she could into a wall, knocked herself out, and never came to.  We've kept this means of death a secret from my mother, who gets upset about such things, especially if they happen in the look-at-only livingroom.