the point of pain, perhaps there is no point

I am packing up to head into town with the children. My daughter takes the recycling out, headphones in her little jewel-like ears, as per usual. I hear a small commotion and look outside to see the blonde head of my youngest – he’s racing through the yard. My first thought when I see my kids outside is such gladness they get to be here, not in school. My second thought is usually an intense surge of love so deep it is like a drug hit.

I hear my son crying now. I have a hundred and one things I’m (trying not to be) thinking about, but when Nels comes inside I know something is up, the intensity. “Pip!” he cries out, tears streaming down his cheeks, naming our youngest cat. “He had a rat in his mouth and I tried to get it away from him and he bit down and I heard it squeaking!” Hot tears brimming in his eyes, his face flushed. I bring him on my knee and he curls in close as if he was still a young child. I feel grim about this all, because I can just hear the squeaking, too. I also know in just a moment of my care he’ll calm down. And he does.

My kidney pain is horrid. It comes and goes. Last night in yoga class I panted and closed my eyes and tried not to throw up. Coughing weakly a bit. I’m feeling angry as I stretch up, arms reaching up up up, then fold, and then lift, then plant hands, then plank. Angry. Angry at whom? No one did this to me. Or if they did, why anger? What is the point? My shoulder twinges. I move back into Child’s Pose prematurely, my forehead on the grimy mat. My mind on the palm of my hands, the deep stretch in my hips, which feels divine.

I suppose I’ll never really figure it out.

Pip

so everyone is pretty much settled in

Pip
I can’t believe how many changes hit our family at once. A couple are too private to write about – at least, not at the moment, not until I can collect my thoughts. But – we bought a house, we moved, the kids came back home to homeschooling – and a job found me.

Yes – for the first time in thirteen years I am working day hours out of the home – and today was my first day. I guess these last couple weeks – and the next few – I’ll be taking it easy. Remembering to breathe.

Sometimes life comes at you fast!

The Move

the day I became an Aberdonian

The day before the move: packed up, and (mostly) ready to go:

The Move
Annnd… we are homeowners!

The Move
A friend asked for a ride on our big day. And like – of course! So she got to share in my little photoblog:

The Move

So… is anything more heartrending than recycling pounds and pounds of paperwork – lovely drawings, journals, and the like? I try to enjoy those moments because – whether you cram all this stuff in a drawer or closet for someone else to deal with, or not – we can’t take any of it with us.

The Move

I wish I liked anything as much as Nels likes our new house. In fact, this morning he told me he thinks he likes it “too much”. Yeah. Yeah, I hear you kid!The Move
It was a beautiful day. Rain-drenched greenery.

The Move
Stacking random packages, teenagers:

The Move
The first residents: my plants. <3

The Move
Feeling left out: Queen Josie:

The Move
Phee texting. And being ethereally beautiful. I forgot to budget for curtains, and the house came with only Walmart bare-bones versions. Thinking these will be our “real” curtains a loonnnnng time!

The Move
We took the jars of coin we’ve saved in the old house, converted to cash, and will now be donating to a homeless project. I’ll keep you updated!

The Move
A simple dinner with the two men who helped us move. Some candelight. xxx ooo

The Move
Cats came over later. Pip was a little clingy. 

The Move
It’s been a great deal of work, but it has gone well so far. With some weirdness – I was charged for, and delivered, TWO king-size mattresses. AND I had a fraudulent charge – almost $600 – on our main checking card! I caught that, and corrected it, right away. But it has been a juggle outfitting the new home and keeping our financial picture afloat. 

We are having a great time. We are out of funds. I am almost out of energy, for a thousand and one reasons.

But we’re still laughing, and enjoying this time special together.

Bairn

st. bernadette

Today, I don’t understand what happened. I get up and discover that some time in the early morning, before anyone was up, a neighbor came over to report a cat killed by a motorist – a Siamese-marked kitty. My daughter woke, answered the door. Threw on her shoes and went out to investigate and – thank goodness, it wasn’t our Pip, but rather a semi-feral little rascal living and snooping around the neighborhood. R.I.P., little kitty.

But this morning my daughter tells me this and I’m a little knocked sideways. Amazing to me she handled this like a grown-up. I guess she’s becoming a grownup.

Something is off, though. Her color looks terrible and retires to her bed, to wake in the early afternoon. I make her a breakfast; I charge Nels with the dishes. When it’s finally time for her to rise, something is wrong. At first I am thinking she has some kind of sore throat. A little fever. She feels nausea. But then she doubles over in pain after trying to eat. She is suffering, and says so. My heart flutters. My daughter doesn’t complain about jack shit. Something is wrong.

We wait a while in the doctor’s waiting room but I don’t mind. I’m glad to be there. Her doctor gives her lungs a listen and I can see his concern. He orders a breathing treatment right away. He tells her, “you’re too tight to even check for pneumonia.” He goes out the room a while while she gets her treatment. She’s laying on the table because she can’t move around much without feeling terrible. I’m stunned because just yesterday she was running around like normal. And the doctor comes in, he’s a good doctor, and eventually he brings me over, loans me his stethoscope, for her lungs. I am not a doctor, but I am very upset by what I hear – and what I don’t hear. And the doctor says, “I’m amazed you haven’t passed out,” to my daughter. What’s really cool is he talks right to her and always have, even since she was little.

My daughter is sardonic but straight-forward. We get her a few prescriptions called in; we head up and get an x-ray. Her color is a little better; maybe the breathing treatment helped.

And, in my mind’s eye, I’m still hearing the pop and growl of her lungs. Her pink little lungs, in distress!

It’s funny, because this morning before everything went down I was fetching my first cup of coffee and feeling kind of ugly about the normal trifling concerns of life and I thought, I should be grateful I’m still breathing, that I can draw breath.

I am anxiously awaiting the results of tomorrow’s chest x-ray.

To say I’m anxious is a bit of an understatement. There aren’t really words.

Bairn

 

Interfacing

in SPACE-VISION™

InterfacingI am elbows-deep in supporting my kids through their schooling and extracurricular activities, paying our bills and keeping house, practicing yoga daily, firing up my B-movie site in a big way (as well as participating in the Bmoviecast and attendant community), and working on a semi-secret (but not really) and massive sewing project.

Also: setting up a 3D super-Wi-Fi blu-ray projector system in our house!

Space-Vision (TM)!

But sadly – all too often, movie night ends in a senseless napping tragedy.

Movie Night

This Baby Was Grouchy

an extra baby just for a minute

This Baby Was Grouchy

omg baby looks sad here but she really was OK – promise!

So a year ago last night, I helped my friend through a dark time in the ER. I thought a lot that night about how wonderful a gift sobriety is. Tonight things haven’t changed on that account:

When I got sober, I worried about some things… I worried there wouldn’t be joy in my life, that my life would be like this dry diet (or at least, what I imagine a diet is like) of “good habits”. I truly worried that I’d be bored, or boring. And I definitely thought I’d miss drinking.

 

Of the one hundred and one amazing and incredible and unexpected things that have happened to me the years I’ve been sober, not one of those worries has come to fruition. My life isn’t very boring. It doesn’t go according to my plans either.

 

I didn’t think tonight I’d find myself spending my set-aside rent money on the food and alcohol she needs to live. Two cases of skunky beer. Coors Light! I enjoy carrying the cases though. They feel substantial. Medicine they are!

 

Cans of tinned soup, packets of Chinese pork, fresh fruit, corn chips.

Today was a good day. I was home with my children, and I cared for a handful of other people. I let my husband hold me. I made a delicious dinner.

I got to be me, and like me.

So, that’s a pretty good gig.

Cracker Bros.

Cracker Bros.

Cracker Bros.

Phee + Pocket 

no family is safe when I sashay!

I’m up before the children – three, in all – and I have those few minutes after my husband leaves for work, and before anyone else joins me. I shower, and dress. No makeup but a little lipstick – hair back in a slouch cap. Dishes, and laundry, and tidying up some tailoring work as we’ll be expecting company throughout the day.

Now I wake up the children: first, my son, who is frightened over the vaccination he’s set to receive this morning. Then, the girls: my daughter and the kids’ friend C. We’ve got to hit two doctor’s appointments back-to-back. We’ll be doing that before we get a meal out together.

It’s rainy out but I have a little coffee in my Nalgene bottle, and my warm scarf. The kids are cheerful company. Phoenix is a young woman now and would no more skip a morning shower than I. Her hair is wet; her face dear freckled face snubbed with a little powder. At the doctor’s, she finds some women’s magazine – Jane or Marie Claire or something – while the other young girl finds a Highlights.

People in the office, and later running errands – so many seem so unhappy. Irritable at those minor delays that happen everywhere. At the taquería working class men look me up and down as I ferry drinks and napkins and salsa to the table. I eat slowly, checking my phone. Enjoying that first meal of the day. I eat until I’m satisfied. And now: I must get us home. Drop one child off, receive another. Put together a few Christmas gifts.

It’s cold and rainy; my car is giving me fits. Tomorrow is payday so tonight I can write a check for our dinner, and for Christmas Eve dinner. My husband is tired – as tired as I. My knees, my neck ache. My son runs through the house, first acting out every song in “Jesus Christ Superstar” (he’s still quite fixated); later, in a pair of neon green boys’ briefs that match the garish bandaid on his thigh – his vaccination site.

The rain, the curious meow of kitties needing love. Keeps me company as the house falls more and more still.

Jon-Won Kitten / Cupcake Party

on hospitality

Jon-Won Kitten / Cupcake Party

Today is less peachy-keen than yesterday. Still very low levels of kidney pain – most of the day, non-existent – but I am fatigued, and suffered a good deal of nausea rising in the later part of the day.

I do the best I can: rescheduling an appointment, making a few more. Laundry (a neighborhood gentleman came over and helped inspect our dryer), dishes, and food – cupcakes and chicken sandwiches for our later event. Drive to the bank to make a deposit.Thankfully, the deposit gets there before the check for rent pulls funds.

Put the house in order; light candles. Cut out three layered t-shirts; return pattern to envelope and filing system. Fold clothes and make a pot of hot, strong tea.  Drive the rainy distance along the river out to pick up my children, and one other young one, at the bus stop. Put a call in to a friend.

The sandwiches, the tea party: a few visitors today, one very special. My friend E., my daughter’s best friend A. – and the kitten new to A.’s home. A kitten almost identical to our own Pip, but of a fluffier nature with a hard, round, low-slung belly.

You can see why it was pretty important we make it a real Occasion.

Jon-Won Kitten / Cupcake Party 

A. and her kitty leave a little after 8; I tidy up. It’s 9 PM – my makeup is fading; my body feels ill. My son collapsed at six PM, clothes and all, in his bed – lights on. His early bedtime somehow leaves me feeling lonely, sad and ill. The early sunset isn’t a great help, either.

I remind myself that just because I am not feeling well, does not mean those in my home are similarly afflicted. It is so important to give them all the love I can.

No matter what!

WALKIES

the fox in the snow

WALKIES

It’s cold. Cold and windy some days; merely cold others. I dress as best I can for the morning walks with my dog and frankly I’d rather end up over-bundled than the opposite.

My dog is a fit and hardy soul; he traipses across large puddles encrusted with thick ice; these frozen lakes groan under his pressure and he takes a quick drink, then he’s trotting ahead again. I find myself enjoying the fresh air and some contemplation; small brown birds abruptly blossom into colorful flowers – slam into the tenacious blackberry shrubs at trailside. I see a fellow dogwalker now and then, but mostly it’s just the sound of the water in my ears, and my dog’s companionable tread.

Winter Walk

They’re pulling the paper mill down, across the river. There’s a part of me that can’t believe it’s gone. I stop and really get a look – as long a look as I’m willing to take given the cold – and I think about my past, my future. I’ve lasted longer than the mill. Huh. See, I started my engineering life at that mill as an intern, after my sophomore year at college. I remember all the other engineering students and how all they’d talk was money and job prospects and the cars they’d buy.

It depressed me long before I earned the degree so maybe I was fated to let that life fall aside.

I think about when I quit engineering and the few who told me I was wasting my “good brain” by leaving a technical field.

But I’m still standing; the mill isn’t. It seems like each attempt, each vocation, each series of struggles and failures, and I’m left humble, less-than, and in a satisfied smallness.

Winter WalkToday I line my eyes in black eyeliner; powder, line them again. I tuck my blonde curls away up in my watch cap. I adorn myself with the one necklace I own – a cheap little affair with a black cross. And hoop earrings. I make the bed, stopping to kiss the small kitty who asks for my attention. He reclines on his back, his paws up, lazily paddling the air in his ecstasies.

I wash the dishes, and care for the animals, and sew two simple garments. I meet with a friend, and attend to my duties: picking up the children, chairing a meeting, attending pickup rehearsal.

My children are old enough to have a life of their own; this happened very swiftly, and it is taking me quite some time to get used to this. I find myself teetering on the balance beam; realizing that they have formed of themselves most of the persons they will be, and that my job is no longer so much to help them manifest, but to support them in their ever-blooming self. So when my children are well, I feel well; when they suffer, I suffer more than seems possible, and certainly more than is logical.

My daughter’s manicure, deathly deep blue – chipping. The blonde tendrils of my son’s hair, clinging to his perfect skin as he emerges from the bath, wrapped in a threadbare towel. The cozy clink here and there from the kitchen: Ralph washing the dishes. My own anticipation of a hot shower, and a hot lemon and honey to drink. And hanging the last of the clothes to dry and wiping down the counters.

And last night, when my son had so much trouble sleeping, and couldn’t settle, and cried out. And I brought him a warm milk with honey and after he drank it

he fell

into silence,

and slept.

 

Snuggle Besties

the world sometimes seems full of people being cruel, but I’ve got this little oasis and it means a great deal

Snuggle Besties

My son emerges from the bath, wrapped in a red terrycloth robe. I bought it for him for his last birthday and, far less than a year later, it is now too small.

“Is there anything I can bring you, mama?” he asks. “Just kisses,” I tell him. He smells better than anything – his skin is warm, and damp, and perfect.

My daughter is off to bed. She tells me, “I love you so much,” and puts her arms around me. Her hair falls in my face – dry, sweet-smelling like straw. I feel a pang. She needs things I can’t provide, or at least not all at once: a door and a heater in her bedroom, new bedding, a kit for washing her face after gym. Two pair of shoes (gym shoes and regular trainers), t-shirts, socks, bras and underwear – and a haircut. I’d been invited to a pajama party last night and like an asshole, showed up in regular clothes. But I need to buy these things for my daughter and I hardly know where or how to start.

The kids grow fast. In no way ever, can I keep up.

But still, when she kisses me it isn’t the feeling of, I am behind or, My kids need things, like I’ve felt so many times before. I’m not in that place, not mentally. Instead I am thinking on their kind and sweet natures, and the entire trust they’ve placed in Ralph and I. Our children do not complain when circumstances are reduced in some way – nor do they grab and gobble when they get something lovely. They seem to be spiritually well. Like I told a friend last night, there might be no greater possession for a mother than to believe her children are okay. If you are okay, if you take care of yourself, you make your loved ones very happy. 

My children have been my biggest fans, my biggest supporters. Yesterday they sat through Jesus Christ Superstar rehearsals and praised my performance warmly. They are like two cotton quilts and they wrap me up. And I respect their opinion a great deal because they are one hundred percent accurate about everything – or at least, about their opinions on any given point.

The world I occupy lately – seems hostile. I’ve been thrown into a social circle that is often unkind and cruel. Today I had someone point-blank ask me to tell them intimate and upsetting details about another’s life. Later on, I walked in on a small group, trashing another (absent) person’s character. I walked right out again, but I felt quite forlorn. People just go around hurting one another, yet no one likes to be hurt.

My little family, and my group of trusted friends, they know my heart, my nature. They know I want to be my better self, and not devolve into behaviors that are harmful. Sometimes it is easy for me to walk in the world, and sometimes I struggle.

Today: steaming wool into shape on a new jacket; sewing on my beloved 70’s Pfaff. Drinking hot coffee and listening to my children’s laughter. The dryer, which is broken and shitty, so it runs all day all day all day. Listening to a spooky-lonely playlist. Kissing the basket full of kittens right on their noses.

A little island.

A small sanctuary.

I am very grateful.

"Everything Is Better With Mustard"