Monday, December 31, 2012

From basement to ceiling

"But in my head
    there's some shelves that need cleaning
          from basement to ceiling -

I believe in fresh starts. Clean slates. Clear consciences. Of course these are not limited to any calendar day or to specific moments in time. But today, I choose again to leave the filth behind.

In 2013, I'm going to find that girl I left back in 2010. But the pieces of myself that I left in your arms, the ones in your hands, and especially the ones at your feet... keep them. I have not yet forgiven you, but on most days I can forgive myself. And for that, I am grateful.

To take each day as it comes.
To continue healing.
To live in grace.
To breathe.
To love.

Happy new year.

"Understand.. that God wrapped you like a bow."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


December 25, 2012
11:54 PM

We lay in bed, facing each other. He exhales.

Just very happy.

With the pale, silvery street light filtered through the curtains, I can see the contours of his cheek. I touch my hand to his face.

He is smiling.

I want to capture this moment. I want to seal it in a Mason jar and hide it away because I am afraid that he will forget what it feels like to love me.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Like spoons in a drawer.

His arm is heavy at my waist. His chest is pressed against my back. He is not snoring, but the warmth of his breath on my neck is steady.

It is freezing outside. He keeps me warm. He wants me here.

It's not often that I feel small, but he wraps me up like a child. He keeps me safe.

And still I am unsure.

He loves me. He loves me not.
Is this for real?
I don't want to stay in this place. It's too cold.
I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Would you erase me?

She liked to start random conversations about the mature, the macabre, and the unconventional. It was no holds barred, as if she had never heard of age-appropriate parenting.

When I was eight years old, my mother informed me that the holidays are the worst time of year.

"For some people," she explained, "the season stirs up old memories they'd much rather forget." She then told me that many people contemplate suicide at Christmastime.

I sat in the truck next to her, staring out the passenger window while I pondered. It had never crossed my mind that forgetting something might be of benefit. Were there things I wished I could forget? Looking back, there are certainly events I wish had never happened at all. There were grotesque and disturbing things that no child should ever endure.

          But now the damage is done.
          So would forgetting really be a good thing?
          I don't think so.

Time heals all wounds, but memories of how the we sustained them make us stronger. The memory, the knowing, the scar... These protect us from repeated abuse.

To this day I cannot say if my mother just hoped for conversation or if she was leaking the truth. Or perhaps she was purposefully preparing me for the real world.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dirty Water

In reality, the first snow is not pretty. It is not plush or white, but thin and grey. Immediately transforming into slush, the first snow disappears into dirty water beneath my feet. It veils high branches and fallen leaves and it waits until the evening to freeze into black ice.

The first snow is not trustworthy.

The ground is too warm but my hands are always cold. The miserable sky gives me shivers, even indoors. My skin feels tight and I take too many bubble baths.

Winter snow on television is false advertising.

I will drink hot tea to keep from eating too much as I relish the day free of distraction.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Reading genuinely inspires me. 
     To think. 
          To write. 
               To listen. 

Reading can put the world at your fingertips and opportunity in your reach. 
I wish I could encourage Jack's son to read more. He is all video games, cartoons and basketball. 
The attention span of a 


He is demanding and spoiled. He gets what he wants with barely a whisper of gratitude. It's not his own fault, of course. He has learned that his behavior is acceptable. I watch from the sidelines, wide-eyed. 

These are delicate waters to tread. I offer subtle suggestions only as they relate to me. 
May I help him write thank you notes for his birthday gifts this year?
Perhaps you could let him know that I appreciate an answer when I speak to him, even if the TV is on?
What might I get him for Christmas besides electronics or sports gear?

I am nobody to give parenting advice. 

Do I actually resent having nothing in common with an eleven year old boy?

Saturday, December 1, 2012


The job was fun. The money was decent.
Life was exciting. This was our time.

After a busy night of emergency duty, I would leave the hospital just after eight. It was all I could do to stay awake on the drive home in notoriously tedious rush hour traffic. He usually left before I got home in the morning. I would be gone before he came home after five. My fourteen hour night shifts and his average daytime schedule meant that we sometimes missed each other for days. But I was a night owl and the best part of a graveyard shift was working only three days a week.

The apartment was quiet. Blackout curtains in the bedroom were drawn closed and the warm, orange glow of the hurricane lamp pooled on my pillow. He had turned down the bed for me before he left. Mellow, barely audible music spread across the room from the tiny radio on the dresser. Even at nine o'clock in the morning, climbing into bed was irresistible. He did this for me.

These days, I try not to dwell on the good parts. They double-cross me. That he could be so attentive and charming through all of the mistakes...
It all becomes my fault.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fly on the wall

We just toasted to you.

The text message he sent from the bar was followed by another implying that my ego was at risk of inflating from all of the good things said about me that afternoon.

Alone at home, I had no response. 

I wonder if I would more likely believe the words if I were a fly on the wall.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I used to love nights like this. 

After dinner, when the house was suddenly quiet and we stood alone together in the kitchen, surveying the mess: Purple-stained wine glasses clustered in the center of the table and dirty dinner dishes piled up in the sink. 

"That was fun, " he would say. 
"Yes. I do think everyone had a good time." 

I could taste the bourbon in his kiss.

We would get most of it cleaned up before falling into bed, feeling like such grown-ups. We were married now with grown-up things like matching dinnerware and crystal. We had married friends and threw grown-up dinner parties. We slept in a queen-sized sleigh bed we'd bought together and had a second bedroom that we called "the office."

Tonight it's just me, leaning against the sink, negotiating counter space for the dirty dishes and crystal.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

For a penny

There is nothing lonelier than the company of someone else's family on a holiday. I should be thankful for the generosity and love, given freely and without judgement by these people who don't even know who I am. Instead...

I shrink.

I retreat to the bedroom. Or I sit in the corner, staring down at a book. I hear them telling stories in the next room. The comfortable small talk is deafening. It's not that I don't feel included, but that I have no interest in joining in. Oh, I can manage, for a time. I even enjoy it in small doses. But these holidays and weekend trips... all of this focused family time --

I am overwhelmed.

Unconditional love. Love without end. Irrevocable. Assured. Unequivocal. Indisputable.

That such a thing exists is staggering.

I have always experienced love with qualifiers. With doubt. Love that has been offered like a reward and then retracted when I no longer fit the definition of perfect.

I cannot sense unconditional love, and so it is certain that I cannot give it. Though my brain understands, my heart simply doesn't comprehend. It's being asked to describe the flavor of something it has never tasted.

The family that made me is disparate and shallow. Absolutely counterfeit, pawning "unconditional love" for a penny.


This perennial melancholy is imperceptible to them because I have pretty eyes.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I am good at what I do and, frankly, don't need a communication assessment. Nevertheless, the director required that I participate. The process was silly and the questions irrelevant. I responded honestly, but quickly and without over-thinking.
How long is this going to take?

One week later, I had a twenty-three page report in hand, all after a simple Q&A.

     You have great empathy for others, and your understanding of people can make you a great listener and confidante. Friendship is very high on your list of personal values, and you are most-content when you are in a tight-knit group that features little dissension. You tolerate different ideas and opinions, and you willingly accept people from backgrounds other than your own. You display a heightened awareness of human nature and personal relations. You are usually quite supportive of your friends, and you may even help those who are mere acquaintances. You rarely reject anyone.

     Dimension: Steadiness
     Emotions: accepts affection; rejects aggression
     Judges others by: commitment to tolerate and include everyone
     Overuses: kindness
     Value to others: supports, harmonizes, empathizes, focuses on service
     Fears: dissension; conflict
     Would increase effectiveness with more: strength in the realization of who they are and what they can do; firmness and self-assertion; ability to say "no" when appropriate

He then listed what he thought to be my most intense character attributes...


How can a stranger understand me better than anyone else?
Or better.. why does being such a supportive, accepting, generous, and loyal person so often leave me in the cold?


Saturday, November 17, 2012


Sipping martinis and facing the street, we sit shoulder to shoulder in Midtown. Through the window, I recognize the restaurant where Jerome cooks. I turn to Laila and nod across the street. 

"The French chef."

 It's a matter of fact and, with an eyebrow and a smirk, it's also inevitable. She holds my hand as we dash across the intersection.

I've never been here before. Late enough in the night, the lights are dimmed and the atmosphere is pumped with music as patrons filter up to the rooftop. We slide onto bar stools and look around. 

"Ladies?" The bartender leans in and smiles. 
"Is Jerome on tonight?" Laila is drunk. And gorgeous. She inquires before I have the chance. 
"Well, it just so happens..."

"Did not think we would meet again." 

His arm is around my shoulders and his lips are at my ear. He is surprised to see me. No doubt my text message yesterday came unexpected. 

        Just found out that I'm moving. 
      I got a new job. 

We had only been on a few dates. He invited me to visit his home in the countryside near Toulouse when he stayed over once. It never would have worked out. 

Tonight, we drink on the house. The mélange of liquor, heartache and this man's seductive accent invites me to act foolishly. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No Such Thing

There is no such thing as a lovers' oath. - Plato

We were wary, emptied out and folded.
At least we had that in common.

The flowers arrived the day I moved in. They were safe. Platonic.  Delivered by a smiling girl between trips to and from the moving truck.
                  Glad you made it. 
                     - Your first friend in Iowa

He started visiting once or twice a week, first offering to help me unpack, to hang my pictures.

I made him nervous.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

All of these lines..

It crossed my mind to sell his passport to the highest bidder. 

That stupid, childish grin. 
We were going to be married. 
The tiny nose he inherited from his mother.. it never really looked right on a man's face. 
He has the bluest eyes. 
What an idiot.
He loved me then. 

My eyes seared into him as he quietly tossed his things into a single cardboard box. 
"I don't like this," he had the nerve to say. "I don't like you watching me."

"I want to see what things in this house you do care about." 

"Lu..." He looked hurt.

You deserve it, you fucking bastard. 

He filled the box halfway and withdrew. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

... if you let yourself be tamed.

We met in a hotel lobby during happy hour while I was in town searching for a new place to live. He wore an Olde English 800 baseball cap and ordered Miller Lite, which was sort of a relief. Tasha and I laughed as he told stories about his son, having no idea what it must be like to have a child. 

The plain gold band. Of course I knew he was married. There must have been some misinformation when Tasha's husband, Isaac, so blatantly tried to set me up. My heart sank a little, but only because I thought I was ready for something real. 

I sipped cheap red wine and the four of us drank deep into the night.

Sometimes I overhear him retelling the story of that night. How we met. He likes to start out unassuming - just meeting Isaac for drinks, he says. And then he notices me and Tasha in line at the bar. He asked me if he had taken my seat. 

"Yes."   I told him to move over.

And that's what he found remarkable about the night we met. That's the part of the story he emphasizes, as if it set me apart from most other girls. 

On risque de pleurer un peu si l'on s'est laissé apprivoiser.
You risk tears if you let yourself be tamed.
Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Little Prince

Monday, November 12, 2012

Good morning.

That feeling in the morning..

I don't mean the one that groans to stay cocooned in cotton sheets and thick down even after hitting snooze for the third time. Or the one that nuzzles his heavy, restful body with half-hearted hopes that he'd turn over and run his sleepy fingers down my naked belly. Good morning.

I mean the feeling that comes after these, when I acknowledge the day ahead. When groggy plans for a nap immediately following the 7AM meeting are foiled by the caffeine and great intentions of productivity.

Here I am.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

I am.

It's just me.

I am my mother's daughter.
     Though if you asked her, she'd deny it.
My step dad laughs when he says, "At least she's not milk toast."
And my boyfriend nods and replies, "Right."

It's just that, in this particular venue, it's as if I am sheltered from myself and all of the things I used to know. Pieces of me have inadvertently been left behind as my life has shifted shape between each new place.

I am adaptable.
     Though homesickness is a novel lament here.
I wasn't meant to live with six months of cold like this.
"I'll keep you warm," he says.

It's time to get back to the basics. Perhaps the Midwest isn't stifling. I've just been a little lost because the circumstances which led me here are the kind that make people crinkle their brow and apologize for lack of anything else to say.

Welcome to my newest home.