I Love The Way

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 8.08.09 AM It is hard to sit down and write most days. Especially hard when terrible things happen in the world and everywhere you look online you see pictures and stories and tweets about violence and death and sadness.

But I am sitting down to write. One thing I learned from 9/11 was that a gentle kind of protest is to go about your life the way you always have. Maybe you’re a little more present in it for a while. A little more grateful.

And it also helps to remember the good things, and the good in people. It’s like Mister Rogers said: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Here is an exercise that I used to give my students, and it’s one I use on occasion to remind myself that there is beauty in the world and it is stronger than all the ugliness.

I LOVE THE WAY

Start there. Make a list and write the things you love.

I love the way the sky is always different when I take the kids to school in the morning. Blue, grey, cloudy, bright sun. Some days there are vibrant streaks of orange and pink threaded with purple and it makes me a little breathless.

I love the way my daughter slouches in her chair, sitting sideways, legs over the armrest, and how she doesn’t like me to hug her much anymore, but when I pass by her she holds her foot out so I can squeeze her big toe.

I love the way my son tells me that I have the best chin ever. And I wonder if I told him that this chin is the thing that I have always hated the most about myself? How angular it is. How strong. How you can grab onto it. It is funny to me that the one thing I have always been so critical of is the one thing that (even as a baby) he’d wrap his little hand on and laugh.

I love the way my husband can listen to me freak out. He might be zoning out, but he seems so present. He lets me go on and on and vent until I’m satisfied and then he’ll give me a hug. He doesn’t try to fix it, unless I give him a to-do list. And this is sort of magical.

I love when I’m narrating and my dog sits outside the booth and gives one quiet whine so I will open the door. She curls in around my feet and goes to sleep. Sometimes she farts, but I love her so much that I don’t mind, even stuck with her in a tiny front closet, narrating stories of love.

I love that I get to read stories for a living. How lucky I am to curl up with these words and characters and try to breathe a different kind of life in them.

I love a full-bodied red wine, a slice of salty cheese, and a bit of dark chocolate truffle. If I can have them all at the same time, you will see me in a state of Zen so deep that you’ll think “Ah. That look on her face. That’s what Nirvana looks like.”

And

I love that on the days when I feel most alone, somehow, magically, I hear from someone in my family, or a friend, or an online acquaintance and they say something that reminds me that I am not alone at all. It’s like when you’re on stage, in a spotlight, you think that you’re all alone, but when the lights change, you see there’s this whole audience of people who have been with you the whole way, and maybe you were just so wrapped up in your own story that you didn’t notice. But when you slow down, when you really pay attention, you can feel that audience along with you. Breathing. Like the sound of waves.

Hasselhoff Inspires

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 9.29.28 AM This morning, whilst sitting in front of my computer, I realized that it's Day 13 of my Blog Every Day in November and I may just have run out of things to say. Or maybe I'm constipated. Whatever. Same difference.

So I turned to Youtube for inspiration and I found this David Hasselhoff video. Now, I won't tell you what search terms led me to this gem. Let's just say that I was drawn to this video the way that I'm drawing to mysterious PIs who wear Hawaiian shirts and eat sandwiches. It was simply fate. Enjoy and may you find inspiration for whatever you need to do today:

https://youtu.be/ZTidn2dBYbY

I Can Tell My Stress Level By How Hairy I Am

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 7.00.50 AM Perhaps this blog should be filed under the TMI heading, but…it’s true. I can tell my stress level by how hairy I am.

Yesterday, somehow, all the planets had aligned, the world was spinning on its axis properly, and both kids and the dog were happy, full, and content. (My husband’s default is happy, full, and content, so I don’t usually worry about him.) The house was quiet and everyone was doing their thing. “This is my chance!” I thought gleefully. I called out: “I’m going to take a bath! Doyouneedanythingno?Okay.thanks.bye!” And I ran to the bathroom and Locked. The. Door.

And I slipped into the bath.

Ahhhhhh.

That’s when I realized I was at Full Yeti Red Alert! This was serious! My stress level (according to the hair on my legs) had soared beyond the green zone of Peach Fuzz, passed Winter Is Here Bitches, and even went over I’m A Hipster Naturalist to enter the Red Zone Full Alert of the Yeti Zone. In another day, I might have slipped to the highest alert yet: Aunt Martha.

It’s not a fashion thing, really. I just hate the feel of hairy legs against my yoga pants. When they’re smooth, I feel…I don’t know…fluid. Not really fluid. That sound a little gross. I feel silky. I feel like I’ve taken some time to tend to myself. Those sacred moments of taking a warm bath when you can just relax and decompress. And it’s something I’ve not been doing enough of lately. Clearly.

So. Yesterday I got my chance, and the threat level is back in the green zone.

Of course, I have three books to record in the next two weeks and Thanksgiving is coming…so I’m thinking Aunt Martha is bound to make an appearance. One cool thing about Aunt Martha, not only can she lift really heavy things and yodel, she just doesn’t care what you think about her. So maybe when she shows up, I’ll wear a miniskirt.

Deep Twitter Thoughts/Awkward Moments

When I was in my twenties, and even my thirties, I would have a deep thought or awkward moment happen...but had no where to broadcast them. I mean, I could pin said thought or moment to a light post, but that just made me sad. So I walked around, forlornly, until the deep thought passed and I thought about a cow. Today, the same thing happens, only I DO have a place to put these! I put them on Twitter! I love Twitter because it forces you to say what you want quickly without boring everyone.

Here are my favorite Deep Twitter Thoughts/Awkward Moments over the last few months:

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And my favorite...which actually happened again to me today...

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There's Something Wrong With My Kid

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 9.37.27 AM Yesterday I broke a plate.

That’s true, but that’s not the whole truth. The whole truth is yesterday in a fit of exasperation and fatigue, I threw a plate on the ground to break it. To purposefully break it. There was a split second before I did it where I thought “Seriously? You’re going to do this?” and then I did it. Why. Why did I do that?

Because my ten-almost-eleven year old son was going on minute forty-five of an epic tantrum. A meltdown. A nuclear explosion. And I threw the plate at the floor because I couldn’t take it anymore, and because I’d made him three sandwiches to eat, please god just eat, because things are better when he’s eaten, and I soothed, and I gave him space, and I tried to talk him down, and nothing would work, nothing, and at minute forty-five I threw the plate on the ground with the third sandwich still on it and I screamed. I screamed like Marlon Brando saying “Stella!” and after I threw the plate I was embarrassed and ashamed and filled with joy, because my son had stopped his screaming, probably because he was so shocked.

Let me be more honest. This was not just a forty-five minute meltdown on his part. This was months and months and months of meltdowns. This was a culmination of years and people saying “Oh, he’ll grow out of it” and “You’re not structured enough” and “He’s just dramatic.” This was years of me saying “Something is not right here” and the last six months of him seeing a therapist who says he has a Generalized Anxiety Disorder…and it was me saying “Yes, but there’s something else. There is something not right here.”

This was my ex criticizing me for being too relaxed, too forgiving, too coddling with my son who is constantly in distress and the only way I can seem to soothe him is by being relaxed, forgiving, and coddling. This was months and months of this, years even. This was years and months of my son keeping it together at school and his dad’s, only to fall apart at our house when I did or said anything wrong, and almost everything I did or said was wrong. And, yesterday, I screamed.

I’ve read books and books and books. His current therapist says it’s not Asperger’s though he has all the signs of sensory overload. He’s just anxious, she says. It’s not Asperger’s because he is affectionate and when he walks in the room he can read everyone’s emotions. He can be deeply funny and insightful. He is ‘emotionally intelligent’, but he is also ‘emotionally immature’. He is a boy who cannot handle a change in routine, and is constantly asked by school and his home life to change his routine. He can’t stand certain sounds and smells and tastes and noises, and when people come over or I take him out, I hold my breath in fear of how he will act. Sometimes he does fine. Sometimes he does not.

I worry that this is a mental illness. I worry that there is something wrong with his brain. And I feel like for years I have been asking for someone to help us, to not discount his behavior, to not blame my DNA or my pregnancy when I was sick four or five times everyday while he grew in my belly, to not tell me he will grow out of this because he is almost eleven and he has not grown out of it. To just stop with all of the judgments and blame and to help us figure it out.

But no one has heard me.

So yesterday, I screamed and I broke a plate. And there was quiet. My son and I…we just looked at each other for a while in that quiet.

My son heard me. I heard me. But I’m still not sure if anyone else did.

Marry The Person Who...

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 6.55.58 AM You know how with marrying someone, they tell you to marry someone you can grow old with? I always thought that was so sweet, this idea of slowly passing the years together and becoming that cute old couple that holds hands and smiles at each other, toothlessly, but with love. Pinterest has only increased this belief, that growing old is something that happens in color coordinated outfits with bubbles and beautiful landscapes in the distance. And people wearing fake mustaches. Whatever.

My point is…

I thought I knew what “Marry someone you can grow old with” really meant. I didn’t have a clue.

I do now.

It means marry someone who loves you enough that your changing body won’t matter to them. That you can thicken and widen and sprout hairs where there really shouldn’t be any. Marry someone you can fart and belch and sometimes throw up in front of. Sometimes, dear god, all at the same time.

Marry someone you can be at your worst with, like while talking to them and your eyes sting so you rub them and they listen to you until you’ve said all you needed to say and only then do they say: “You’ll probably want to wash your face. You wiped mascara all over your eyes and even down your cheeks.” Marry that someone.

Marry someone you can swear with and fight with and ignore sometimes, and still have everything be okay. Marry someone you can watch clip their toenails and say “Gah!” and run from the room but still kiss them later. Marry someone like that.

Marry someone who picks out the peas from your beef burgundy and it makes you mad and you say “But you said you like peas” and the say “I do, but only a little bit” and then you say all snotty-like “How much is a little bit?” and then they say “I don’t know. It’s gotta be balanced” and then you grumble and eat all the peas sometimes saying “I like the peas” even though, really, there are too many goddamned peas.

Marry someone who is too tired to fight about politics and religion with you or who shares your ideas on politics and religion. Marry the someone who says after weeks and weeks of stress “Let’s get drunk” and you can laugh with because that sounds really good, even though you won’t do it because being hung over is too much work.

Marry someone who holds your hand and tells you everything will be okay even though you both know that’s not true, unless you change the definition of okay.

Marry someone who loves you not in spite of your flaws but because of them.

I didn’t know any of this years ago. But I know it now, because when I married Kealoha, I married the kind of man I could grow old with. Not the storybook old, the real kind of old. The I-need-medication-now kind of old.

We’re not storybook perfect, but we’re real, and we’re in this together.

Ghost Story?

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 8.50.57 AM Last night, I had a strange dream.

Though asleep already, I dreamed that I crawled in bed and lay down and slept. (Sleeping within actual sleep I guess.) I breathed peacefully for a few moments, and then I felt something strange. There were two hands on me, running up and down my sides, feeling, and then they began to push against me. What was strange was that I could feel those hands, even though I knew I was dreaming, They were ice cold pressing on either side of my ribs and then my hips as if squeezing together. It was a cold pressure, a pressing feeling, almost the way a corset feels as you cinch it tighter and tighter. I knew that I was sleeping, and I also knew that this ‘whatever’ sensation had to stop so I gathered up everything in me and I screamed STOP THIS. The pressure, the cold hands, immediately released.

And I woke up.

Stuck

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 6.17.13 AM I’ve been putting off going to CVS for days. Don’t get me wrong. I love love love perusing the displays of cheap Christmas candy and ornaments, looking at hair dye and wondering if I could pull off magenta (no), and wondering what combination of vitamins will magically fix me. But I didn’t feel like driving there. There’s construction right in front of the store and that annoys me.

But my prescription was in, and if I want to go to the dentist next week without having a full-blown panic attack, there was a sedative waiting for me with my name on it. Literally.

The construction was still happening. And I think all of the construction workers were parked in the lot because there was one teeny little space left. Using my amazing powers of old-school Tetris playing, I calculated I could fit into that spot. And I did. With a little luck and praying.

I did my shopping. I avoided all the people coughing in the flu-drug area. I meandered around the woman in a sweatsuit looking at personal lubricants. I did not make eye contact with the grumpy employee moving all the Halloween candy to the Rejected By The Populace area for 50-70% off. (It had candy corn and off-brand chocolates in the shape of werewolves, but looked more like werewolf droppings.) It was a very pleasant experience. I paid for my prescription and returned to the parking lot.

In may car, jamming to Diane Rehm, I reversed out of my tiny spot. Or rather, I tried to reverse. I went two inches and then I stopped. I moved two inches forward and then I stopped. I did not stop by choice. This was no choice of mine! This was the choice of the curved curb that somehow I had maneuvered around to get in, and then it closed around me like the toothy maw of Jaws. I reversed. Stopped. Pulled forward. Stopped. It was like I was trying to do some kind of bad box step in my station wagon.

And I realized “I am not getting out of here! I am stuck! The construction dudes are looking at me! What am I going to do? I am really really really stuck!”

So I did what any maladjusted person would. I panicked. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfickfuck. That was pretty much my inner monologue. To COVER my panic, I decided to scroll through my phone. There. That’d fix it! I’d just sit there and scroll until…until I could call my husband and he could get me out. I only had to wait six hours.

Luckily, I only waited six minutes. Then the lady who was snuggled next to me got into her car and reversed, leaving me a huge open space to maneuver my giant car into and get the hell out of there.

These are the things that happen to me. Pretty much daily. Fucking CVS.

Conferences, Houlihan's, and Demons

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 7.22.43 AM Last night, we had Parent Teacher conferences. The kids came with us and waited in the hall. Needless to say, when that was over, we all needed a gin & tonic so we took off for Houlihan’s. Kealoha ordered a Long Island Iced Tea and I ordered three gin & tonics. My daughter said: “Mommy, I’m only nine!”

I said, “That’s right! Don’t worry. I’ll drink yours.”

The above is not at all true. Except for the conference part. And Houlihan’s.

We stuffed our faces with edamame, burgers, salmon, mashed potatoes, crème brulee, spinach dip, and fries (not all at the same time). It was a regular Thanksgiving. I looked at my kids and my husband and felt a surge of happiness. “You all drive me crazy, and I love you.”

“Ditto,” they said.

After dinner, Kealoha ran to the grocery store and I drove the kids home. It was dark. Thick dark. Headless Horseman kind of dark. “Gosh, I never drive in the dark anymore,” I said.

My son said, “That’s because you never leave the house.”

That’s partly true.

Minutes later I heard a deep rattling sound from the backseat. “What is that sound?” I asked, worried that my tire was falling off in the dark, or there was a mysterious hand-hook latched to the door.

My daughter said, “Oh, Louis is pretending to be asleep. He’s snoring.”

Immediately I took that as a challenge and made my own snoring sound, only it didn’t come out as a snore. No. It came out like that scary clicking sound the Alien makes when it’s laying its eggs, or about to bite Ripley’s face off. You know, THAT sound.

Louis immediately woke up. “What was THAT?”

I said: “I have no idea! I didn’t know I was even capable of making that sound.”

“Do it again, Mommy! Make the demon sound again! I love demons!”

“De-mons! De-mons! De-mons!” My darling children chanted. Or maybe I imagined that part.

We laughed and laughed and laughed, our bellies full, our hearts warm and it put all the stress of that Parent Teacher conference into perspective. Both my kids are struggling with anxiety disorders and/or learning disabilities and/or depression and it’s affecting them at school and at home. I’ve spent more time at therapists’ offices this year than I care to admit. But we’re getting them help. We’re figuring this out. But for those few minutes, nothing else mattered.

And the dark wasn’t scary at all.

Comfort Food

After yesterday's emotional post, I felt like today should be about comfort. Comfort food in particular. I'm a bit of a foodie. I say 'a bit' because I enjoy good, wholesome, home-cooked or chef-cooked meals; I do not enjoy foie gras popsicles rolled in pop rock candy. So, I'm not that level of foodie. I'm more of a Pot Roast Foodie. Here are two of my all-time favorite comfort food recipes that I make over and over. If you serve them together, you'd probably have a carb overload. In other words, you'd be blissed out and in heaven.

These aren't MY recipes. They're generated by the mysterious internet. But look these up. Pin them to your Pinterest blog, and then make them for your loved ones when you need a hug in the shape of a warm meal.

PULL APART BREAD

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This bread is so comforting and delicious. You can make it as the recipe indicates, or just roll the dough balls in regular old butter for a traditional loaf. I said 'balls' and 'loaf' in the same sentence and that brings me joy. It's from The Pastry Affair website. There's a lot of salt, but it helps with the flavor. The link: HERE.

CHEESY AMAZING CASSEROLE

cheesy cauliflower and chicken casserole

Because I am a Midwesterner, I am most comforted by casseroles. This one has it all. And it's white. Who doesn't love a white casserole? *crickets*

This makes a ton, but it's delicious. Cheesy. There's cauliflower in there paired perfectly with rotisserie chicken. It's just...amazing. From the Serious Eats website where they have some terrific recipes. Link: HERE

Foodies say: "Bon Appetit". Pot Roast Foodies say: "Eat up. Enjoy! Slip into a food coma!"

Lunch With Strangers

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 6.56.33 AM “So…tell me about your kids,” he says.

“Uhm, what do you want to know?” I say.

He smiles. It’s a little lopsided and his lips are thin. “Anything, really. It’s a wide open question.”

This could be anyone talking to me right now. A next-door neighbor. A therapist. Even the man at the deli counter, talking to me as he slices ham. It’s not just anyone talking to me though. The man sitting across from me at lunch is my father, and I have not shared a meal with him in twenty-two years. He is here in Michigan with my stepmother to visit my stepsister, Heidi. They made this trip for her, not for me, and I am trying not to be affected by that. Still, they wanted to see me. “They’d love to see you,” Heidi had texted me, but I’m still not sure if she’s the one who really wanted the meeting. She still thinks that a big, happy family and barbecues and Christmas together is possible. I gave up on that a long time ago.

I don’t know what to tell him. My kids, Louis and Simone—names he doesn’t even know—are ten and nine. I can’t put who they are into a response to “Tell me about your kids”. They won’t fit into a single sentence; their spirits are too big for that. “Oh, you know,” I say. “They’re kids.”

“They’re probably just like you,” Susan, my stepmother says to me. And inside I say But you don’t even know who I am.

The waitress asks us for our order. The three of them order macaroni and cheese. The menu says Twisted Macaroni and Cheese and I wonder how they twist it. Politics? Goat blood? Tears of children? I don’t say it out loud because that’s dark humor and they wouldn’t get it, or maybe they’ll think I have issues. Which maybe I do. I sip my wine and order a pulled pork sandwich. “So what have you been up to?” My dad tries again. His face is red and he is smiling and I wish I could slip inside his mind for just a moment, slip under the skin and into the dark recesses of his body to know what he is really thinking. Does it occur to him that he is asking me about the last twenty-two years of my life? That he knows so little about me he can’t even ask anything specific?

I laugh a little.

It’s hard not to. “I work. I have the kids and my husband. Life is good.”

I change the subject and ask about them. I turn to my dad. “How is your music? Are you still playing at church?” My dad worked at the VA, but he was also a percussionist in the National Guard. On good days growing up, he’d play marimba for hours, the hollow notes tripping over one another. He played piano too, a little less fluidly, the drums, the organ. He could get lost in music for hours. “I play all the time,” he says. “When I die, which I’m planning won’t be until when I’m one-hundred and twenty, I want to be buried in a national cemetery with the flag and military honors and I want my tombstone to say He Was A Good Little Drummer Boy.”

Susan laughs and says no.

I think this is the first real thing he’s ever said to me.

I ask Susan about her plans to become a minister, how it is in Oregon in their gated community, how are their dogs. I know what to ask because I talk to my sister about them, I’ve Googled them, I see their posts on Facebook.

But they seem at a loss to ask me anything and I realize that’s because I am no more than a stranger to them. They haven’t read my Facebook posts, or seen the pictures. They don’t read my blog. They don’t know about the 400 books I’ve narrated. They don’t know about the books I’ve written and published. They don’t know about how funny my husband is or that we’re meeting my kids’ grandparents (my ex’s parents) in Toronto this summer. All this time I thought, so, maybe we’re not talking, but I can feel him out there, my dad. He is watching me and wondering about me and keeping tabs on me. Maybe he just doesn’t know how to cross the space between us. Maybe he doesn’t know how to say he’s sorry.

But the truth is colder than that. He hasn’t even tried. And it doesn’t matter how much I accomplish in my life. It won’t make an impact. Not on him.

I eat my pulled pork sandwich. It has too much coleslaw and the meat tastes rubbery. I have no appetite.

I start to feel something then. Something so pure it’s a hard crystal in my gut. What I feel is anger. It surges over me. It’s a rush. It’s red and it’s beautiful. I look at Susan. She is so soft. Why did she scare me so much when I was a kid? I could crush her now with a few specifically chosen words. Why did I ever let her hurt me?

Heidi is laughing and talking about their visit. How they’ve gone on the boat and her boys stayed home from school and her husband took work off and I listen and I nod, but inside I feel like “What’s the point?”

There comes a time when too much time has passed. When bonds formed by being family are not strong enough to make you have a relationship, or even a connection.

My dad says, “You know, our life is great. It’s even and steady. It’s like this.” He holds his hands together and then pulls, the way you pull taffy to stretch it and I see the even-life stretching out before him. No dips, no highs, no pressure to take care of children or kids in college or adults. And I think, how sad.

I think of the years that have passed. The temporary families I’ve had to take the place of my real family. The people I’ve loved. The heartbreaks. I think of all the things that happen to a person to shape and change them, as I have changed and transformed from that skinny, insecure girl that I was. The one that, along with Heidi, had to hide the pills from Susan, had to listen to her scream at us, had to hide in our closet when she came after us. I think about my dad and his red, red face when I asked him “Why do you let her do this to us?” and he answered that he loved her, he loved her and she was more important than anything or anyone else, and maybe I would know about a love like that some day. And when he said that, I became afraid of loving.

I think about how when I turned 18 (the last of the five kids) they picked up and moved to Oregon and we, their kids, stopped hearing from them. We grew up. We got jobs or went to school. We meandered. We ran. Eventually, we had children of our own and they did not come to see them, or know them, or even ask about them. They lived their life in Oregon in a gated community that was calm and steady and free of the highs and lows of living.

I could have forgiven them, years ago. I had it in me then. But not now.

At the end of the meal, Heidi wants to take a picture of us. “You know, to remember,” she says. I stand between my dad and Susan. My smile is forced and my chest flushes a deep red, the way it does when I am stressed. Heidi takes the picture. She shows it to me for my approval. I blink and I can see it. Even standing next to him, there is still a missing space where my father should be.

We hug goodbye. We do not talk of when we’ll meet again, or barbecues or sending cards. We all know this was not a lunch to get us back together. This is a lunch to allow all of us, maybe, finally, to let go.

This Was Not A Feast Of The Gods Unless The Gods Were Really The Griswolds

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.58.54 AM This Sunday, I prepared a breakfast feast for my family. I planned a menu that would impress, satiate and lead to familial bonding. In fact, I knew exactly how this morning would go. I’d make sweet cream scones and serve them with Devonshire cream and a dollop of raspberry jam. I’d cook bacon and sausage, along with hash browns and my coup de gras of apple-cinnamon pancakes. This would be a feast that they would write songs about. Or at least the kids would talk about the next day.

While cooking, I’d relax and hum a little and then put the steaming platters on the table where the kids would then ooh and aah and say “Oh, thank you, mumsy!” (In my head, my darling children had British accents.) My husband would serve up a spoonful of hash browns onto his already overflowing plate and say in a deep, boomy voice: “By god, woman! I’m glad I married you!”

Then there would be birds and singing and a whole Disney production because I prepared a feast for the gods, AKA my family.

Yep. I had it all planned out.

What REALLY happened is I woke up at 3AM (time change) and then the kids woke up starving so I served them a first breakfast of leftover meatloaf and cheese puffs. Then I started the scones and realized I was out of milk, cream, and half and half so I couldn’t actually make anything.

I waited patiently (not at all) for my husband to wake up (GET OUT OF BED ALREADY!) and sent him to the store still blurry-eyed with sleep, and dressed, but not all that well.

The pancake mix didn’t have enough time to sit so there were crunchy bits in it. I promptly told everyone “Those are cinnamon chips!!” In my eagerness to season properly (Thank you, MasterChef), I added enough salt to the hash browns to ensure their preservation through the winter.

The scones were tough and the Devonshire Cream tasted like something that wanted to be butter, but just couldn’t muster up the energy. The dollop of raspberry jam looked like a glob of something bodily.

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The bacon was good, only we didn’t have enough. The sausage though. The sausage! The sausage was microwaved to perfection. (I did get some things right.)

When we sat down, my son had a meltdown because in a fit of anxiety, he couldn’t figure out how to cut the hash browns (they’d congealed) into manageable bites. My daughter tried not to cry because she just wanted to eat popcorn from her trick-or-treating the night before. My husband smiled and said it was all really good, but I could hear the crunching of his pancakes while he chewed.

We ate. Quickly. Dejectedly. As if life had somehow defeated all of us, one by one.

Then all returned to our iPads for some immediate comfort.

Sigh.

You know…at least I tried. Maybe next time though I’ll just stick to crepes. I’m really good at making crepes.

November A Month of Blogs

IMG_2891 So it’s National Novel Writing Month, but I’ve already got a book I’m working on so I thought I’d do something different. I thought I’d do one month of blogging. One month of blog blasts, long, short, whatever.

I’ve been in blog silence for a while mostly because I screwed up and posted an earlier blog where I did not conceal people’s identity as much as I should have. It ended up being embarrassing and I still haven’t recovered. It led me to all sorts of questions like “Is it ethical to blog?” and “Is it okay to blog about my life when it coincides with other people’s lives?” and “Are there just some things you shouldn’t write about?”

My answers were Yes, Maybe and Probably. Hence the no blogging.

But I miss blogging. I miss blogging the way you miss a friend who you used to be close to but because your lives have veered off in different directions, you just don’t talk/email/see each other anymore. It’s no one’s fault really, that you can’t connect anymore, but it still aches.

There have been so many little moments in these last six months or so where something funny would happen and I’d think “Oh! I can’t wait to blog!” But then I remembered that I couldn’t blog, because I’d screwed up and my blog and I were broken up. I couldn’t text my blog in the wee hours anymore. I couldn’t leave awkward messages. No more backrubs at four in the morning…

Wait. I might be confusing my blog with an actual relationship.

Luckily, I still have Kealoha to talk to and backrub with, so it’s not been a complete loss. But it has been an absence. A soft kind of loss.

What has happened in these last six months? So much and nothing at all. Struggles with my kids, my career, my parents. I said good-bye to my non-relationship with my dad. I’m redefining things with my mom. I wrote a novel. I had good things happen with my career. I started teaching a class at college. I gave up the class at college when things happened with my kids and my mom and I realized that though I wanted to do it all, I am not, in fact Wonder Woman, and I could not do even half of it. Kealoha and I went to Chicago. We had fun but it wasn’t enough vacation time. My kids are both struggling with anxiety and it’s affecting school so I’ve been at enough counselors’ offices that I could probably start working towards a new degree. I’ve cooked a lot. I started working out. I cried a few times in my closet. I cried while talking to my aunt on the phone, walking through my wilting garden and the stupid zucchini plants that even though I tried again to grow them, got infected with wormy beetles, and I cried because I really wanted to pick zucchini from my garden. Just once. I bought zucchini from the grocery store and farmer’s market, but it wasn’t the same. I actually avoided the farmer’s market because there were too many people, so I asked my husband to go, which he did, because he is kind. I laughed with him, but maybe not enough. There has not been nearly enough laughter in these six months. Did I say I wrote a novel? Because I did that too. One measly paragraph at a time. But I fought for each word and had some wonderful encouragement from a penpal who lives in Prague, and there’s a sort of magic to that. I fought over parenting issues with my ex. I tried not to explode because of stress. I exploded a little because of stress. I burped stress. I cooked some more. I drank wine. I gave up wine when I started to want to drink too much. Now I just drink a little bit of wine. I narrated great stories filled with romance, love, hate, pain, passion, anger…every book seeking to answer some loss or need and I thought “Huh. I get that. I do.” We’re all just trying to figure it out, and get through life page by page.

Every day. A new page.

This is why I have missed my blog.

Beware the Sugar Coma

Here is a conversation I had with my kids, Franz and Moxie, as Franz was about to consume this giant cupcake. Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 1.54.54 PM

ME: Seriously? Are you going to eat that?

FRANZ: Yep. The whole thing.

ME: If you eat the whole thing, you're going to go into a sugar coma.

FRANZ: Sugar coma? What? That's not even real.

MOXIE: Oooooh, it's real all right. Alex, in my class, it was on Valentine's Day and he ate so much sugar that he started running around and around in a circle screaming his head off, just screaming and screaming and they sent him to the office. Eventually they called the ambulance and everything. Sugar. Coma.

ME: Wow. That sounds really serious.

MOXIE: It is. Super serious.

FRANZ: Maybe I'll only have half of it.

Happy Easter!

Dwarf Voices

I can't believe I forgot to cross post this! In case you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, here's a fun little recording I did when I was trying to come up with dwarf voices for the amazing Noble Dead Saga I'm recording. Luckily, this was just a trial recording and did not make it into the final audiobook. Enjoy!

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Friendship Camp

Here is a short nonfiction story. This was originally published in Midwestern Gothic, and is an excerpt from my (unpublished) memoir. I thought instead of posting it in the usual written way, I'd post my little narration of it. As always, thanks for reading...and for listening. https://soundcloud.com/tanyaeby-narrator/friendship-camp

On Quiddler and Trucker Slang

My friend J came over to have apple cake and play Quiddler. (That feels like a really British-type sentence. Just try saying it out loud with a good ol’ Eliza Doolittle feel. Oy! Apple cake and Quiddler with a cuppa.) Kealoha joined us. Here is our conversation:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 5.07.12 PM

 

J: So I’ve been reading a book about CB lingo from 1976.

(Only the briefest of pauses here, since having my friend J say something like this is not at all surprising.)

ME: Okay. That sounds good.

J: I don’t even know if they still use the terms, but it’s interesting. They probably use CBs, don’t they? You think?

(Ten minutes later…)

J: Gambling City!

ME: What?

J: That’s one of the terms. Now, what would you guess that is?

ME: Las Vegas, but wouldn’t it just be easier to say Las Vegas than try to figure out where Gambling City is. (pause) You know what WOULD be cool? To come up with new terms.

(Pause while I think.)

ME: Fluff circles!

Kealoha: Fluff circles?

ME: Yeah. (trucker voice) I’m going to get me some fluff circles.

Kealoha: (trucker voice) I’m going to head down to the Bunny Ranch and get me some fluff circles.

ME: Bah! Not THAT kind of fluff circles. Obviously, that’s lingo for pancakes.

Kealoha: Mmm. Fluff circles.

ME: Stop it.

J: It might not surprise you that truckers have a number of slang words for prostitutes.

ME: Please, please, J. Please go to a party immediately and use that as your opening line to people. Please do that.

We tried to come up with other words, but it got mixed up with the Quiddler words we were playing. Kealoha spelled “TEETH CLAP” and J responded that was something he certainly wouldn’t want to catch, and I agreed whole-heartedly. Truckers—and pretty much everyone from 1976 and beyond—should avoid getting TEETH CLAP.

Especially at the Bunny Ranch.

(See what I did there? Full circle, baby. Now THAT’S comedy.)

We've Been Watching Twin Peaks For Two Weeks...

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 3.40.12 PM Kealoha and I have spent the last two weeks watching Twin Peaks.

I should probably clarify. We’ve spent the last two weeks at bedtime, huddled around his iPad watching THE FIRST EPISODE in Twin Peaks until I grunt and fall asleep. We’ve been doing this for two weeks. Two weeks! We are forty minutes in.

I was a junior in high school when Twin Peaks was released. If there hadn’t been so much drama going on in my house, I’m pretty sure this is a series I would’ve loved. I mean it’s moody, and I know some random ‘little person’ shows up, and it’s a mystery and it’s created by David Lynch…so this should be part of my teenage memory. Alas, I missed out. So, I thought, I can recapture this part of my lost youth. That’s what Netflix is for, right? To enter the pop culture cool circle? I want to be in that circle.

But by 8:30…okay 8:00, I’m pretty much spent. I mean, my day is OVER. At the time when New Yorkers are just getting ready to head out for dinner, I’m in a tank top, shorts, snuggled in bed. Add into that being warm and full from a home cooked dinner (that I prepared like a good Midwesterner/octogenarian at 5PM), and I fight sleep.

What I can glean from these 40 minutes watched over the last two weeks is that…I don’t get it. I don’t get Twin Peaks. Now, granted, it could be that I’m watching it in five minutes snippets while trying not to fall asleep, and maybe I should try watching it when I wake up bright and bushy-tailed at 4AM. But I don’t know. There’s weird music and acting so over the top that it’s like an opera without the aria (and the fake tuberculosis).

Kealoha assures me that it’s genius and that I’ll get it if I give it a chance. I trust him, so I’ll keep trying. And I do highly enjoy the acid-washed jeans, the floppy early 90s hair, and the gigantic telephones. And I’m both looking forward and fearing when this little person makes his appearance.

But maybe…maybe…this is a circle I don’t belong in. Maybe I’m more of the X-Files weirdness, where Duchovny was comforting and without lipstick.

These are the deep thoughts that I have lately. Deep, deep thoughts.

I really need to get out of the house more often. Actually, I am getting out of the house tonight. I've put on makeup and everything. I just hope I don't look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 3.50.18 PM

Sorry, Duchovny.