Friday, April 18, 2014



I walk through the rundown neighborhood to the rundown neighborhood market to buy a bottle of soy sauce.

Soy sauce for the dinner I was preparing to make.

Because I forgot to buy it earlier when I was at the grocery store.

Earlier, when the sun was warm and bright and the dirty snow shone with drops of water held suspended for a shimmer of a moment only to fall and be replaced by another quivering globe of bright shimmering melting.

But now, it's later.

I walk past dirty snowbanks, refrozen.

Dirty puddles filmed with ice.

Old bags and discarded papers catch in the wind like tails or wings.

The gray pink early spring sky that earlier had offered warmth like a kindness
cools as the sun slides smoothly away like the well manicured regretful wave of a newly wed princess leaving the balcony and the adoring crowds below.

Inside the dirty little store, smells sweet, oily, smells of boiled coffee. Stale cigarette vapors off the jacket of a slight man, plegmy, coughing into the beer cooler.

The cracked linoleum shows planks beneath, the floor sighs quietly with every shift every step.

Single rolls of toilet paper wrapped in white tissue paper, beer, in bottles in cans, powdered doughnuts in windowed boxes, canned cat food, Cream of Wheat, Vienna Sausages in their flip-top can, boxed macaroni and cheese that rattle like maracas if you shake them which I don't, long loaves of cheap white bread, small jars of peanut butter, cellophaned bricks of Ramen noodles, and a there, on the top shelf, a dusty bottle of soy sauce.

I think, they probably don't sell much soy sauce here.
I wonder, how long has this bottle of soy sauce has been on the shelf?
I worry, what about an expiration date, has it gone past?

I remind myself; fermentation.

The date doesn't really matter.

Some things keep.

The woman behind the counter sighs.

She jokes, “Is it Friday yet?”

I say, “Almost.”

She asks, “Would you like a bag?”

I say, “Yes. Please.”

The idea of walking down the street with a bottle of soy sauce unbagged seems strange to me.

I grip the brown paper wrapped bottle by the neck.

I think, this is an odd bird,

I think, I'm a weird wino with my brown bagged bottle of soy sauce.

A sensible drunk man, gray and thin,

a case of Pabst under his arm, holds the door for me.

He takes the worn wooden

stairs with a certain gravitas,

one worn boot

at a time

with a pause to make sure his footing is sure and true against the tilt and whirl of the Earth spinning.

He says, “It's about time.”

Being from around here I know he means, Spring.

I say, “Yes. It's about time.”

The drunk man, oddly graceful, leans over the curb into the wind

and across the street and for some reason he reminds me of a ship.

I walk home, gracelessly sober, heavy on my feet,

thinking about the word “wino”--

understanding the impulse to drink oneself into grace.

The wind picks up, cold, blowing grit into my eyes.

Walking up the drive, squinting, light from the old milk-glass lamp through the white lace curtains makes me nostalgic for a thing I haven't yet lost

or haven't yet found

or have but misplaced

I can't be sure

I don't remember

it doesn't matter.

In through the back door, into the yellow kitchen, I shuck my black wool coat,

hang it on a peg on the wall

unwind my scarf from my neck like unbinding and hang it with my coat.

I pour red wine, Malbec if you want to know, into my favorite glass, a small Ball jar once filled with jelly made by a friend in a hot kitchen from berries fresh picked by her own hands, berries still warm from the summer sun when they were poured from an enamel colander into a heavy stainless steel pot with cupfuls of white sugar like white sand.

I think this every time I pour myself a glass of wine, if my wine glass jelly jar is dirty and I choose another glass instead of washing,

the absence of the jar reminds me of the jar.

The wine tastes like an attic, July, warm wood, sour berries, sunshine, dust motes, old books.

I think, this wine is a good wine made from good grapes ripened in a warm place by a warm sun

a place where spring comes at a reasonable hour and lingers late on the veranda

with drinks after dinner.

I start the rice.

I slice tofu for my daughter and beef for my boy, I put them in separate bowls.

I pour long streams of soy sauce into each bowl, add thin slices of pithy ginger to each, crush four garlic cloves with the flat of the knife blade -- two for each

add a splash of balsamic vinegar, red peppers, yellow peppers, broccoli.

In the next room the children argue.

They are hungry I think.
as I stir the frying food.


Dinner is late.

We three sit at the scarred wooden table, we laugh and then set to arguing and then careen to laughter as quickly as the melting spring turned back to winter.

We all agree between mouthfuls

that this soy sauce is

the best.

My son says this with the fervor and zeal of a new convert,

he proclaims with his mouth full, rice falls, sticks to his shirt and chin,

somehow he manages to spit rice on the dog, the sticky rice adheres to the long black fur; the dog is not bothered.

My son says, forgetting to buy soy sauce at the grocery store was a kind of lucky. Without forgetting there wouldn't be this

The Best Soy Sauce.

We wouldn't have known.

We never would have known.

Lucky forgetting.

I think, Yes.

He's right.

I tell him so.

I clear the table, leave the greasy plates and bowls spoons and forks, glasses with the lip and finger prints, on the counter next to the sink, for later.

I think, the dishes, they're not going anywhere, what's the hurry.

I think, they'll keep.

My daughter hums a melody that I can't place.

Looking out through the window I see my own face,

the wind blows last year's fall leaves against the screens, sounds like June bugs.

I pull on my gray sweater, I think about starting the furnace.

My son laughs and tries to pick the rice from the dog's long black fur. The dog is not bothered.

I think, forgetting is a kind of luck,

I think,

some things keep --

I think, there is proof of time passing and proof of time held suspended in a drop.

I think --

some things keep

like summer fruit or soy sauce.

They keep

they keep

they keep

Monday, March 24, 2014

on resilience, depression, and being deeply beautifully weird and also alive

I began having suicidal thoughts as a child. The thoughts grew large or diminished, but desiring to not be a living person was always there at the back of my brain, as a big presence or a wisp of an idea, in some form, always.

When I was a little kid, I shut down. I was blank. Despite everyone's best efforts to knock the “weird” out of me, I managed to hide a kernel of my self hoping that some day I would find it and tend it. That was brave and hopeful of me. To my family I was simple, dumb, blank, hapless, a loser. The real me was internal and far away for safe keeping.

Middle school was a nightmare. I managed to endure and didn't die.

High school was a horror story. I wanted to die, but I didn't.

College was fraught with crisis and fear, and though I never got a degree, neither did I walk in front of any of the tractor trailer trucks that sped past me on my walks to campus, nor did I throw myself over the bridge railing into the Stillwater River. At one point I stopped leaving my apartment. I stopped going to school and to work so I wouldn't be tempted to walk into traffic. Though refusing to leave my apartment didn't do much for my academic career or endear me to my boss, it did positively impact my alive-ness, so really, I won.

After I had my daughter I knew suicide wasn't an option. This didn't make me happy, but I was resigned. When my son was born four years later, I realized my son was such a quirky little goober, he needed me more than anyone else ever would. I really really couldn't die. My life was a life sentence. 

Two and a half years ago my depression intensified. I will gloss over the ugly details. Suffice it to say, suicidal ideation was a vestigial twin, or maybe my depression became a giant soul sucking parasite. The parasite metaphor works better, but I love the image of a vestigial twin, a pair of wizened legs hanging weirdly from my hip. Maybe my depression was like one of those hairy, toothy teratoma horror tumors...anyway....I confided in my husband, he encouraged me to get help. I got help. The depression lifted and, hello, I'm still here, holding my excised vestigial twin, sucking parasite or hairy toothy depression horror tumor in a jar of formalin like a freak show oddity or a gruesome souvenir. Whatever, the fact is, I'm resilient. I'm still alive.

I feel like I've gone through life with both hands tied behind my back, blindfolded, gagged, in a sack, beaten unconscious. It's hard to get much done bound, gagged, blindfolded, in a sack, unconscious. This state of being doesn't often support much in the way of lasting achievement, or personal growth. Not dying, taking care of my kids and having a shadow of a personality, these things might seem like pathetic signs of resilience, but for me, being alive, being a good mother, and being able to regrow a self like regrowing a liver from a few cells of salvaged tissue feels like something.

**Several hours later it dawns on me that I might sound self-indulgent, selfish, whiny  and ungrateful. But depression is a real shit fucking crap sucker who sticks his thumbs in your eyes and keeps you from seeing things as they are. It's only after you've kicked depression in the nads that you realize what a freaking awesome gift it is be be here. So, anyway. Just wanted to put that out there. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

this aged gen-x slacker has taken umbridge

The obnoxious Salon headline read: "Generation X gets really old: How do slackers have a midlife crisis?"

Fuck you, Salon. Just fuck you.

First: I am not getting REALLY OLD, thanks very much. And heads up, youngster, the next 20 years are going to fucking fly by. You're going to be 40-something and be as shocked as I am now every time you see your 40-something year old face in the mirror, because on the inside, you still feel like the funky little hipster you used to be. My kids are going to be the hip happening cool youthful adults when you're middle-aged. They will mock you for being getting REALLY OLD. When this happens, I will get all Schadenfreude on your middle-aged midlife-crisising ass, and I will laugh and laugh, if I'm not already dead and sleeping the dirt nap of the ancients.

Second: You wanna know how a slacker has a midlife crisis you smug little millennial?  Come over here while I lace up the Grunge era combat boots of my youth, and I will midlife crisis you in your narcissistic ass.

I'm 1/2 through my corporeal tour of duty, that is true. I have traded in my youthful lithe size 4 body for stretchmarks and saggy boobs. But, and here is the big but my young friends, I'm wise. I'm so fucking wise. I'm so gloriously fucking wise. And I'm happy.

Really really happy.

My kids are growing up to be very cool people. I'm proud of them and they, believe it or not, are not ashamed to be seen with me in public. They think I'm cool. They want to hang out with me. They like me. So, basically, I win at life based on that achievement alone.

But wait, there's more!

I'm married to a guy who really really loves me and I really really love him back. Words can not convey how profound this is. We've been together for 20 years, married for 17 years, monogamous and true for the duration. We've been through some very shitty shit and endured. This is not love at first sight love, though it may have started there. This is a love that we worked at and nurtured, this is a love that almost choked on a ham sandwich, this was a love that was Heimlich maneuvered, this love stopped breathing but was brought back to life, this love knows that life is short and this love is so happy just to be here. This isn't a love to be trifled with, this is the kind of love that will linger in the ether even after our old dottering bodies have cacked out and crumbled to dust. Most people do not ever have this kind of love. Many people go to their graves without ever experiencing this kind of love.

So, fuck you, snotty young people.

I might be getting older, but so are you, you just haven't noticed yet. I'm not young and pretty anymore but I got love, baby.   

I'm lucky. I know I'm lucky.

You'll be lucky if twenty years from now you're half as lucky as I am.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

First Day of Spring, my mind is all over the place

Maine winters linger.

It's just what they do.

But this year it's different. Winter isn't lingering so much as it's stalled in the middle of the road. We'll be looking winter in it's ugly road-dirty grill until we can call a goddamned tow or push it out of the way, muscles straining.

I believe that people encase their past traumas in amber.

We are living beings and the hard remnants of the past are hurtful to us. We store them and we try to forget about them but they make us ill because we are living beings and we are meant to fill ourselves with the present which is alive, and the future, which is full of potential. The  dead relics poison our blood. We forget we carry them.

It's one thing to carry the certainty of death in oneself. It's another to carry death itself.

There are crows in the yard. Flapping black wings, One crow drives his head into the soft snow, he shakes his head, flaps his wings, hops forward, does it again. I thought perhaps he was looking for food but he seems to be washing himself. Now he struts away.

First day of spring poem

My hands are cold.

The radiator

hisses and rattles.

from my window


an expanse of new snow,

the flap and strut of ten black crows

like words written in ink



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I'm awake. Mostly.

It's Monday/Tuesday.

It's Tuesday on the calendar, but content is all about Monday.

Say all the words.

Even if they are ugly words.

Even if they are hurtful words.

Even if they are very strange and weird words.

Even if your father tells you your words do not make you pretty.

Especially then.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

the facebook post that turned into some weird sort of bloggery

I took a Buzzfeed quiz to figure out what sort of tattoo I should I have.

I trust Buzzfeed and I have faith in the validity of their quizzes. I trust BF quizzes like my mother, a Leo, trusted her daily horoscope, the one printed in the back of the daily paper between the Jumble puzzle and Ask Doctor Donahue.

Buzzfeed really knows the REAL ME, for real.

The real me who needs a tattoo at the age of getting awfully freaking close to 50. Plus my skin is getting that weird dry skin thing going on so that a tattoo will nicely draw attention to my weird old skin.

A tattoo, oh yes. I must have one.

Buzzfeed peered into my very soul and determined based on my Starbucks cup preference and Pixar movie preference that I want need should must have a typography tattoo.

No pictures for me. Forget the Celtic knots,  retro blue birds and cliche butterflies.

Emblazon upon my creepy old lady skin the unambiguous word.

I looked up examples of typography tattoos and found many people have had meaningful sentiments etched into their flesh: sentiments such as "maybe" and "so be it"and "&". Nothing vague there.

Having Poe's "Annabel Lee" tattooed on your back is also a thing. It's going to be awesome to read "Annabel Lee" in its entirety aloud from your very own back whenever you want to...wait.


Just look in the mirror and crane your head around  Exorcist style, and then, ah crap, it's...


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

In which we contemplate puberty and other scary things

My son will be turning 11 in April. He's already a giant fellow at 5' 3". He looks soft and round and he is but he's also very strong. One of his favorite games right now is, Can I Pick it Up?

Anyway, I digress. In my family, boys get softer and rounder before they grow into broad shouldered giant manly men. True story.

This morning, my big little boy stared pensively into his cereal bow. I asked him what was up and he said he was worried about going through puberty. I asked it there was something specific about puberty that was troubling him. He told me he didn't want to grow a beard and was afraid to shave for fear he'd cut himself with a razor.

I looked at his sweet smooth face and imagined him with facial hair. Huh. Wow! OH MY GOD. I didn't say that though, because when your kids come to you with this stuff you have to be placid as a pool of water, you have to remain as cool as goddamn cucumber and as you must appear to be as serene as something really seriously fucking serene. It does not matter how freaked out you are on the inside, this shit isn't about you, and you must appear unafraid, unfazed and not bothered.

I focused on staying placid, cool, and serene and explained in my calmest mom voice that when the time came, we could get him an electric razor. His eyes got wide. An electric razor! Holy Crap, Mom! That seems like a really bad idea! Electric razor sounds like a death machine!

He had a good point, so I explained that while an electric razor sounds like some fiendish device with sharp steel blades glinting and winging around on mechanical arms, in reality electric razors are easy to use and are really safe.

I showed him some pictures of electric razors online and made a mental note that when the time came, we'd be shelling out some real money to buy one of these bad boys for our kid. It'll be worth it though, because he will likely shave his arms, his pubes, and the cat. The last thing this kid needs is a sharp blade. An electric razor will ultimately save us lots on medical and vet bills.

Anyway, after seeing the Norelco Senso Touch 3-D,  his mood changed. He went from terrified to thrilled. Bring it, Puberty! An electric razor is a cool looking hand-held gadget that is guaranteed not to cut your face off. Life is good the future looks suture free.

I gave the boy a hug and a kiss and sent the happy lad off to school.

After he left I spent some time staring into my coffee. One day I'll be the mother of a giant hairy man. Damn. Puberty. I hope I'm ready.