the.foundation.

There’s a little street I usually run down when life affords me the opportunity to do so. I’m not sure if I run down this street because it is a reasonable path to where I want to end up, or if it’s because there are two houses on that street in which I made fond memories as a young person. But at any rate, I run down this street 2-3 times a week.

For the last year or so, on this street, there has been a giant empty lot for sale. I don’t know how much it was selling for, I’m not sure who owned the land. I just know it was for sale for a very long time.

Then suddenly, a couple weeks ago, the For Sale sign was gone. The week after, a foundation was laid. Right in the middle of all this green, sprawling grass.

A foundation.

I slowed to a walk as I passed, inspecting it. The lot is not huge, but the foundation seemed so small, so insignificant. Just this slab of concrete. I walked more slowly.

What kind of house can be built on such a small slab?

Who would buy this big lot and lay down this tiny foundation?

There isn’t even going to be a basement?!!? What kind of house will this be? 

All thoughts I had as I strolled by, staring at this new development on what I’d started to consider my street (even though I live nowhere near it). I picked up my pace and finished my run, not thinking about it again until the next week.

When I ran by this lot again and… the frame was up.

An entire frame for an entire house. It was all there, already, standing firm on this foundation. I could see where a living room could go, a bedroom. A kitchen. I could see where there was room for a bathroom and a hallway. Maybe even a pantry. Once the lines had been drawn, the frame erected, it was easy to see that this foundation had been big enough for a house all this time. I just hadn’t seen it.

Foundations can be funny like that.

black.thumb.

pumpkins

 

It’s October. I wish I had better news for you, but… I don’t. It’s October and it’s almost Halloween and I have killed my pumpkin plant.

If you know me, you are now thinking, why in the hell did you think you could grow a pumpkin?

Well, let me tell you: I didn’t.

The pumpkin plant sprouted spontaneously from the ground with no help from me, save for my laziness last year as the kids and I were gutting our lovely pumpkins in the front yard and chucking the guts into the flower bed (okay yeah yeah, flower bed is too strong a phrase for the shit going on in my front yard). It started small and vine-y and my husband did not believe me when I shouted, “It’s a pumpkin vine! It’s going to be a pumpkin!” But then it got longer and bigger and started to flower and there was no denying: We were going to have our very own pumpkins this year.

Now, again… if you know me well, you know how delusional this was for me to think. After all, I’ve killed the following plants in the last couple of years:

  1. An Aloe plant I was told was very hearty and healthy and nearly impossible to kill
  2. More than one cactus – that’s right folks, living with me is harsher than living in a fucking desert
  3. Two hanging plants that hung on and really gave a good fight all summer but are now dead
  4. Various amounts of hearty mums
  5. Two potted plants that honestly, I don’t even know the names of. They have, like, really dark green slippery looking leaves but no flowers? I don’t know, but they’re dead, too.

 

And now, the pumpkin plant.

So I guess it’s off to the market for me to buy stupid pumpkins some other person was able to successfully grow without killing because they’re better caretakers than a sandy, hot, emotionless void. Like they’re so special or something.

 

trigger.warning.

sunset

 

Grief is fluid. Yeah, there are five stages of it, everyone who has taken Psych 101 knows that. But what they don’t know, if they’ve never experienced it, is that sometimes the stages melt into each other, dissolve, disappear for a while, then reemerge and start all over again.

The word trigger has gotten a bad rap lately–or maybe it’s just been overused to the point of obscurity–but it’s true that there are things in a grieving person’s day that can cause her to get tripped up, freeze her in place, make her wonder why she’s not been grieving continuously and needed a reminder of her loss.

I have said many times that one of the hardest things to deal with after my mom died, was never seeing her name/number pop up on my phone again. I missed hearing the phone ring, looking at it, and seeing MOM flashing on the screen. Seeing her number. For a long time after she died, I couldn’t delete her number from my contacts. I liked scrolling through and seeing her there. She only disappeared when I bought a new phone and couldn’t bring myself to put her into it, knowing how pointless it was.

Another thing I missed was getting emails from my mom. When I was in college, before the age of texting, she would email me throughout the day with important information I might need to know. Upcoming events at home. News about my brothers. I never deleted any of them, but at some point, I did get a new email address and started using that more frequently. At some point, I must have let the new email transfer all my old contacts from the old email… and then allowed LinkedIn to scour my contacts for people to connect with while job searching… because yesterday, as I was going through my new notifications, the website presented me with people I should invite to join LinkedIn. And there she was, my mom. Her email address.

I hadn’t seen it in years.

And I know that all I would have to do, to never feel that lump in my throat and dramatic thump in my chest, is send the invite knowing no one will ever respond. Or delete her, finally, from my contacts.

It would make the trigger go away.

But the thing about triggers, is that sometimes you need them. And sometimes they remind you to slow down and sometimes the hurt is necessary and beneficial even if it’s unwelcome.

Sometimes, you can’t feel better until you feel worse.

purple.socks.

purplesocks (2)

 

When your husband–the one who used to willingly get into a cage and fight other grown men for fun, and who, when cut or sliced or otherwise maimed at work usually just tapes up his wound with whatever is closest–calls you at work and says, “I did something stupid. I cut myself and I need you to come get me and take me to the hospital,” you don’t ask questions. You flee your office, barely explaining why to your boss, and go home to see what in the hell kind of stupid thing your husband did that necessitated him calling you in the first place.

In case you’re curious whether or not I actually fled or if I’m just using that term for dramatic effect, I will tell you this: I left a full 24 oz. cup of piping hot coffee on my desk.

Yeah, that’s some serious shit.

On the way home, which, luckily for him, is only about half a mile away, I wondered what I might walk in on at home. I’m not what you’d call steel-nerved when it comes to things like blood or vomit or other bodily fluids. He hadn’t told me where he cut himself, what if he was passed out by the time I got home? What if he couldn’t walk? What if his finger was in a plastic bag full of ice? What kind of stupid thing was he even doing?

There was little time to worry about a lot of these hypotheticals because as soon as I pulled up to the house, he was opening the front door and hobbling out, a towel wrapped tight around his lower leg. I know I have an over-active imagination, but it was a huge relief to immediately know he wasn’t passed out in a pool of his own blood in the living room.

He had no shoes on but there was no time to get him any, because he was bleeding everywhere and let’s be honest, I don’t even think there are clean matching socks anywhere in my house right now, so barefoot seemed like the easier/better option. Who wants to be the wife who tells a eulogy that starts thusly, “It was a real shame that I spent fifteen minutes trying to find two matching socks in the fourteen laundry baskets of clean clothes we keep in the basement. If I hadn’t had to do that, he may not have bled out.”

So off we went, him barefoot, me trying not to look anywhere in the general vicinity of the source of the blood. We were on the road before he told me what had happened, which was this: The remote control airplane he’d been building with our son had turned on while he was, ironically, trying to set the safety for the throttle, and the propeller turned into his calf, slicing it. In case you were wondering, this plane isn’t some tiny little drone thing that can fit in your hand. It’s a plane with a five-foot wingspan.

On the way to the hospital, my loving husband told me details I didn’t need to know. Like how, when it happened, and before he’d really processed that he’d just been cut, it sounded like he’d spilled a cup of water on the floor. And how now there was so much blood all over the living room it looked like a crime scene. And how he maybe thought he had even seen a few chunks of flesh (I think he just threw that detail in to gross me out. He likes to do that). But then he started to feel dizzy and in pain, which probably wasn’t helped by the fact that I was driving in a way that could maybe be described as a sorta cautious maniac.

When we pulled up, I told him to get out and I’d run in to see if they’d let me bring a wheelchair out, instead of making him hobble barefoot up the walk. In the ER lobby, I told the receptionist that my husband had cut himself and I needed a wheelchair. She pointed to where the wheelchairs were and asked if I needed help. After I said I could handle it, she asked what he cut himself on. I panicked, not wanting to go into some long-ass story while he was waiting for me, and just said, “Airplane propeller!” on my way out the door.

This seemed to cause some confusion, but it did end in nurses being called immediately to come inspect his leg.

“So uh, what exactly did this?” was the question of the day. We quickly clarified that the airplane propeller was attached to a remote control plane, and not a real airplane. To which one nurse said, “Ahhh okay. I was wondering how he’d even have a leg left…”

So let that be a lesson to you kids. Clarity is important, but sometimes being vague gets you seen faster in an emergency.

They got him back into a room and I still refused to look directly at the leg because, you know, I’m a giant baby. The doctor saying, “Ooooh no, I need to go get more supplies” was enough to evoke certain images in my brain that I didn’t want to see. Nurses kept coming in and asking questions. One winked at me and said, “Mine’s a big kid, too.” But mostly I think they were just disappointed that an actual airplane hadn’t cut my husband’s leg.

My husband was just embarrassed and kept saying so. But everyone assured him that they’d seen much more embarrassing things in the ER. I reminded him that we’d been in the ER for more embarrassing reasons. But he was just concerned with the state of his toenails and the fact that he wasn’t wearing any socks or shoes, and hadn’t had a shower yet.

Eighteen stitches later, he was all fixed up and ready to go. The nurse who had confided that her husband also loved giant toys came back and laughingly asked (as we were getting ready to leave), “Do you want me to bring you some of the socks with the grippy bottoms so you don’t have to be barefoot?” And he said yes. When she came back, she had giant purple socks, which isn’t a thing I’d ever be able to get my husband to wear, but this nurse had the magic touch, I guess. He put those suckers on, and I walked my maimed husband out to the car. And that is the story of how my husband got his very first pair of purple socks.

 

Mary. Poppins.

I’ve never been a fan of movies with Mary Poppins endings. You know the ones, the stories that end with all the broken people being put back together again while the person who did the fixing disappears silently into the ending credits?

As a child, I had questions.

Questions such as:

Did the children ever see Mary again? What about on Christmas or Easter? Did she send them postcards to tell them about the other children she was helping so it didn’t sound like a bullshit excuse to hightail it the hell out of their lives? (okay maybe I didn’t think that last thing in those exact words as a child, but it was close).

And what about that Pete’s Dragon? Whatever happened to him? Did he find another little nearly-orphaned boy to take care of? What if he didn’t? What the hell happened to Elliot?’

And did Poppins ever get a hard case she couldn’t crack? Did she ever stay years at a house, and in the end, the daughter ended up hanging off a pole showing fat old businessmen her tramp stamp? Did Poppins ever have to sneak off to the pub and drink herself silly? How far does this Practically Perfect nonsense really go? And are there really people or magic beings who can detach themselves from others so much as to leave them forever, even when they were solely responsible for these people’s happiness?

If so, how do I become one of them?

Convinced.

I am convinced that the universe needs me to be at a certain level of desperation on a daily basis in order for the galaxies to remain harmoniously aligned.

I am convinced that if I hadn’t recently freed myself of self-inflicted guilt about giving up on relationships that I clearly can’t salvage without divine intervention, I wouldn’t have old relationships seeping stealthily back into my days, bleeding guilt right back into the scrubbed-clean parts of my psyche.

I am convinced that if I hadn’t gotten so close to being caught up at work, we wouldn’t have had a surprise audit last week.

I am convinced that there are people in my life I need to spend more time with, and that if I hadn’t had the luxury of spending time with those very people recently, I wouldn’t be feeling so badly about the people I haven’t spent much time with.

I am convinced that if I hadn’t started cleaning my house as soon as I got home today– doing the dishes from last night, washing towels we used over the weekend, and scrubbing the shower that was still fairly clean from its last scrubbing–the sewer would not have backed up an hour ago and ruined a bunch of our laundry.

I am convinced that I’m cursed by a God of hilarity, humility, and all things in between.

 

 

ugly.delicious.

Everyone who has been overtaken with a passion to do well in a creative field knows the struggle. What you’re doing isn’t important. It doesn’t make enough money. It serves no real function. 

My husband is obsessed with cooking shows, chefs, exotic food, etc. And today while I was executing the ever-exuberant task of folding clean laundry, I thought to myself, “You know what? I could use some background chatter in the key of Dave Chang.” So I turned on his Netflix Original, Ugly Delicious. 

I can’t really think of a better title for his show, nor a better title for the creative process itself. Every time I watch a documentary about some other expert in a field other than writing, I’m struck by the commonalities, by the way they’re so inspiring to a writer even though their field affects completely different senses.

How many of us have taken what those who have come before us have handed down and tried to make it our own? How many of us have shunned what we knew growing up, only to come back to that very thing when we were older and wiser? How many of us have studied how our own passions have influenced or recorded history?

How many of us, at the later stages of our process, are discovering that we’re actually late to the party?

It doesn’t matter what the creative outlet is, we all seem to suffer from the same maladies: We want to change the world. We want to inform the next generation. We want to tell stories that matter.

And the next generation is looking up at us and saying, “We got this. Go to sleep, it’s past your bedtime.”