My shirt’s too snug, as in the buttons are almost popping across my bust. It’s cold out and I’m standing outside my mom’s pickup putting gas in the tank. Only a little. Believe it or not I can resolutely refuse to think about our car problems, because I have put everything in place that I can and Worrying is bullshyte and against God besides. One car is currently not running and I can’t afford to take it in until the tenth (and Dear Jeebus at that point I hope I can somehow afford to fix it). The other car is running but it has 395 thousand miles on the original engine. Absolutely true story. Our old Mercedes. With no heater. Like a land-submarine. The no-heater thing is kind of no-joke as it’s unpleasant to ride in the car but also dangerous, visibility-wise, at times.
So I’m putting twenty bucks in my mom’s tank but I’m a bit upbeat despite all this and that. Because a friend made a donation today we’re going to have some good dinner tonight and tomorrow and probably even the next day. I’m thinking of the salad I’ll make this evening: butter lettuce, peas, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumber. I’ve got hunger pangs right now but I know how to pace myself through those. My kid is all right, the Little Guy who ran into the gas station with the twenty dollar bill and who holds my hand and kisses me wherever we go. A burger from drive-through for my son and I’m sipping on coffee. I’m so flat-out busted-ass tired and I haven’t eaten but I can pace myself.
It’s beautiful out. So very cold and dry. After gas and picking up the other kiddo I’m selecting vegetables at the fruit stand and it’s so cold I’m suffering but I think, I can get through it, and the thought of my children in the truck’s cab cheers me immensely. In the bed of the truck: Hutch, circling his rump when he sees me emerge from the store. Another shopper asks me: “Is he okay?” (meaning, is my dog a well-behaved dog). The man who asked had this snarling yappy thing in his car. People with dogs with problems, always asking if my dog is OK. My dog is really awesome in fact he’s a Goddamned Champ. He shares a home with two adults, two kids, lots of kids and babies traipsing through, three rude cats and a rabbit who literally will steal food out from under him once we put it in the bowl! (yes this happened today).
Ralph comes home to a messy house; the product of my sleepless night last night, and my inability to get as much done as I typically do. We make up the dinner – the glorious salad and some pizza and a celebratory bit of pomegranate sparkling cider. Ralph makes up a pot pie for my mother and I hand-sew and watch some of My Stories. It’s that mental discipline too, resolutely refusing to think ahead about what I’m hoping to sew and knit my family and friends for Christmas. Not time yet not time yet as I’m stitching up these handbags.
I help my daughter with homework. My husband and children get ready for bed; hot showers, washcloths, Q-tips, toothpaste, warm towels. The pets settle into ponderous slumber, farting and snoring even! I light a candle for a friend; her partner is going through some severe health stuff and she’s going through some resultant mental health stuff. So many suffer in so many ways. I hope it makes sense that I write out exactly what I’m going through in the day. I can’t be more exciting or less so I can only be honest.
I recently read about a man trapped in a shipwreck for three days underwater in pitch black, finding an air pocket to perch in. Hours passed and he felt the most frightened listening to the sounds of large fish eating his dead crewmates. He remained entirely in prayer most the time and he was in pretty good shape when they picked him up, a miraculous rescue.
Prayer and faith mean a great deal to me today and they used to mean nothing at all.
small stone #16
My friends saw me in my mom’s old pickup truck –
In the dark, in the cold, in the wet night.
“Who’s that with Kelly?” they asked.
Brake lights flared up:
My dog’s companionable profile revealed.
My friends laugh.
small stone #17
I get a headache listening to you,
but I think that’s just a coincidence.
Today I was talking and I would look up now and then to the room I was addressing and a man was looking at me with a lot of love in his eyes. It wasn’t a wrong kind of love, meaning lust or Ownership, it was the right kind, like that shining-eyed feeling we get when we love a friend and there’s no veil between us.
I’m grateful for one running car. God-willing, the other car can be repaired cheaply. But even then I have no need to be angry as if the repair costs money I simply can’t do it now, and that simplifies things.
Ralph cooks up beans and sweeps the floors. So much pet hair! The cold weather hits and the heat’s turned up and the pets just dump out their new winter coats. Today: a milestone – we train Hutch to sit patiently while Bun-Bun the rabbit lopes about the room. Hutch is triggered by the bunny and fixates on him; with careful observation and with a few sharp commands soon our dog is relaxed. He startles and looks at the rabbit, ears pricked – then glances away, and relaxes. More supervision is needed for some time but we’re on the road to our rabbit being consistently safe from a large, muscular predator with jaws that could swallow the lupine whole.
This pay cycle I will need to be near-prostrate with prayer to get through. But that’s okay, I know how to live by faith. Faith and hard work (mine), but always that gratitude and that openness. We’ve had a roof over our head and our utilities have been on and our debts are getting paid off at a glacial pace. Maybe we’ll “make it”! Look, we are making it!
I miss smoking, myself, sometimes. Smoking felt good and gave me that edge. It’s like: I need a cigarette to calm down, to relax, even though as we know the act of smoking rather amps us up. I haven’t had to smoke in quite some time, coming up on a year, and I am grateful for this. I’ve got no vice to supplant this twisted urge; sometimes I just gotta breathe and take a hot shower and know I Am, I am here for now, just keep breathing.
We Hogabooms are doing about as well as we can be doing. These last few weeks have been incredibly busy, a pace we are not accustomed to and that I don’t want to become accustomed to. Ralph has worked himself into a wee frazzle with his play practice, full time job, full time daddyhood and husbandness, and some side work (both for fun and for scratch) to boot. I ain’t gonna lie, he hasn’t kept a civil attitude during all this, but we are still getting by pretty good.
The exhausting pace has helped me get over my daughter’s first week in school and get down to the often amusing – and occasionally grim – job of sorting out my Feels about it all. I am mostly a thousand percent proud of her because she is awesome; she has already navigated what seems like a sizeable amount of unpleasantness and she keeps hopping up early in the AM with a smile. It is important for me to support her but I have all these little thoughts, some valuable, some probably not much. I keep thinking I want to write a separate wee tumblog or such thing – supporting other unschooling parents who have a child who elects school. I truly think it would be a fun experience!
In the meantime however I am trying to survive our current pace. This weekend Ralph’s play opens; we are also heading out on vacation in short order after that. It is taking each of the two brain cells I have rattling around up there to not ass-out on commitments I’ve made here or there.
During these weeks, I have had so many kind and wonderful interactions with friends and family it would be impossible to list them all here. Close to my heart is the friendship of another sober alcoholic, a woman who inspires me in a profound way hard to put into words. And on the the heels of this inspiring friendship I consider several other women in my life who have been my confidants and my support during a lot of changes – and some problems that seem to stay the same – and who’ve kept the faith, and kept their kindness coming, and had real wisdom to offer me.
My friends help me stay sane, or at least in that general neighborhood. For that, I am profoundly grateful.
Just one of those places I’ve lived near many many years, but had not yet visited – until today.
Our dog went mad with joy – again. He has missed being able to go for long, athletic walks. He crunched what I can only assume were crab shells. I am now closing my eyes and letting my head drop back and breathing out through my nose. He is ridiculous.
This is my last weekend with my daughter before school. I am having All The Feels. She is growing up very fast and when she was younger I worried too much and therefore squandered a lot that I might have otherwise lived fully.
All I can do is live today, and not look back.
On that note –
I’m going to go downstairs and get ready for bed, then let her wrap her arms around me and her sweet voice say whatever it wants to say.
Today on a Flats walk with our dog and three kids – two of the children mine, one from another family – we came across a dozen pelicans (of at least two species) diving for fish. It was really something to watch, as they hit the water with incredible force, like missiles. Along with the pelicans many species of gulls and other waterfowl messed about, and we spied at least two harbor seals. Obviously, there was a large school of fish in the water falling prey to this predation. In the course of the walk around The Flats, two different men along the trail told me two different stories about the species of fish out there (men love to tell you shit, even when they don’t know the shit!).
My dog was out of his mind with joy. In case you hadn’t been following: he’s been on near-bedrest for a few weeks since his incredible illness adventure with salmon poisoning. Today he was so excited he actually fetched a stick (unheard of) many times. He also played tug-o’-war with me and growled a lot. He has a huge, powerful mouth and very sharp teeth and I’d never heard him growl before. I was a bit unnerved!
The weather on our walk was so wonderful. It was balmy-warm – in fact, it would have been unpleasantly humid had it not been for a wonderful sea breeze. There were so many animals at The Flats – wild and domestic – and not a few people. It was a wonderful walk out and I’m glad I made the time.
Just lately: I am over-worked. Not only physically – besides having household responsibilities, more water aerobics, and two new Etsy sales that have me knee-deep in costumes – I’ve also been working intensively, and I do mean intensively with a new-to-sobriety alcoholic. I am astonished how much work she’s willing to do – but I’m also aware that yeah, it’s necessary. Watching someone reconstruct themselves from near-ruination is an honor and a privilege beyond what I can articulate.
And I’m a bit rueful: in Recovery communities you will sometimes hear those with long-term sobriety say, “I won’t work harder than the new guy!” [Meaning: as a sponsor to help him get and stay sober.] And yeah, I’ve heard it now and then and always thought that’s supposed to mean, Yeah that’s right, tough love, those lazy newbies! Well I never thought of the reciprocal. Because let me tell you, this new gal works like a dog, so that means I am working like a dog. I am not even kidding. Even if I didn’t think it completely unethical to share details, I haven’t the strength to write much about it. It’s working me, right now.
Many reading here won’t understand. [And yet she tries to explain anyway!] A big part of what’s hard on me is going through my own history – memories of what it was like to get sober, of those early days. If you’ve done it, you probably get it. It’s a big deal. Remembering what it was like invokes a kind of PTSD. Today and yesterday I’ve been thinking, Did I really do that? Did I really go through all that? And it’s like – yeah, I did. I felt like crying today and wanted to give myself a hug or somehow take care of myself in ways I neglected before. I had it hard. And I didn’t even know I had it as hard as I did. Does that mean I have it hard today, and I don’t know it, as well? It’s a scary thought. I am tired of suffering. It hurts.
Tonight: I resolutely put aside my fears and my own traumatic memories. I am here now, my children downstairs want me now. My husband is available to me now. A small dish of strawberry shortcake awaits. Hot water and soft pajamas. A warm bed. A curious dog. Purring, comforted kitties.
I get home in the gloaming, darker and darker earlier at the end of summer. I put the bike inside and take my dog out for an evening piss. Halfway up the block I hear the unmistakable run of a child and look up to see a glowing white shirt, blue jeans, tossed long brown hair: the neighbor boy rounding the corner, running to my home. He’s been gone a few weeks visiting his father and I can tell he came running as soon as his mama let him.
“I got here as fast as I could!” he announces with a flourish – happy, proud of himself.
“I can see that. Welcome back,” I tell him. I give him the dog’s leash and he hardly breaks stride to run to the library and find my two children. Only a few minutes later they’re outside my open kitchen window, their voices bright and breathless and excited to reunite.
Later, as in late: Ralph and I go out to Aliens (1986) at the theatre, just a handful of us in the place, eating popcorn with real butter. The movie is awesome – I’d never seen it on a big screen. I startle – quite badly – at the parts I thought I already knew, and the Director’s Cut editions. Ralph, who’s never seen the film, is placid as a lake next to me. The film is better than I remember and Ellen Ripley might be the best action hero ever. Yeah. Kind of reminds you how unimpressive, if amazingly pricey, most action films are today. #getoffmylawn