Thursday, October 27, 2011


A year ago, I felt small. The only thing tall about me were my shadows, in the Autumn sun.

A year ago, I had no hope. The future seemed like walking into hell. I clung to the day, even though I loathed being in my own skin, in that very moment.

A year ago, I wondered what I would be. Who I would turn into. When the day would arrive.

Today, I realized that through writing, I have become who I always was.

I am strong. I guess it was always there, but powerless was winning.

Today, I realized that I have so much. More than I ever could have prayed, hoped, and crossed my fingers for.

The simple practice of writing, and crying, and hoping anyone would hear me, has come back to me in ways I never thought possible.

I am tall. I am strong. The sun doesn't lie. It simply casts a shadow of what really is there. A dark image of who really walks within you.

Sometimes, when cloud cover is thick, and the sun doesn't appear to be casting a glow your way, it is hard to see.

But it's there. Right beside you.

Have a look.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Priority list

I sat in a car last night, and listened to a friend vent, and cry. I heard fear in her voice. I saw it on her face. I also sensed her hopelessness. A feeling that is, I think, terrifying. It is a total loss of control over your life. Not to be in the driver seat, but rather a passenger, on a really fast and harrowing ride. Not fun stuff. Some days, all you can do is hold on, and squint your eyes.

A year ago, I sat and looked out the windows, and watched the orange and yellow leaves fall to the ground like snow. I followed the sun from window to window, in my house, and felt a fear I have never known. The fear of the unknown. The feeling of no hope.

David and I picked up our foreclosure notice from the sheriffs office last year. Almost to the day. We read it. I cried. David clenched his jaw, and we drove to the girls school, and watched them in their school Halloween parade. And we smiled the biggest smiles.

But in my head, I was screaming. It seemed like our life was spinning out of control. And I felt irresponsible. Like all of this mess wouldn't be so bad if it was just David and I. But here are kids. Looking to us for it all. Looking to us to provide. If we can't keep a roof over their heads, what kind of parents are we?

My friend cried in her car last night, and told me how they are behind in their rent. Unemployment checks don't cover everything. It just doesn't stretch far enough. Their only  car needed repairs. When they received the tally of repairs, and the cost , they asked what was absolutely necessary to keep the car running, and what could wait. A priority list. They could only pay for some, not all.

I think worry needs to be dealt with like that. A priority list. Because if you worry about it all, it will kill you. If you worry about next week, that is enough of a stress. But if you begin to worry about a month from now, or 6 months from now, it begins to break you down. It will paralyze you. I have laid in bed at night, and not only worried about what will become of my family, but of the far future. I have had sleepless nights thinking about melting ice caps, and rising carbon levels, and some date in 2012 that the world is supposed to end on!

But really, to keep myself road worthy, I am beginning to realize that I need to just worry about what is happening, rather than what could. What I can control, as opposed to what is out of my hands. That will keep you running. For a while. Like a patch on a slow leak.

 The other stuff will have to wait.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Long ago night

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror last night. I was cleaning someones house. I was rushing, wanting to get home. My face was flushed, and when I caught my own image, my lips looked small, and pursed together, and my brow was furrowed. My skin looked ruddy. My eyelids heavy. I was taken back at what I saw. It made me upset. I looked old, worried, out of shape, and tired.

I went back to scrubbing a toilet bowl that was colored a horrible mauve. So was the plastic shower inset, and tub. I went back to a time in my mind. To a place. It was a long time ago. Before David and I met. Before my girls were a reality.

I worked for a designer, and we had an extensive Bridal collection that we made, and sold out of Bergdorf Goodman. It was really exciting being in the garment district, and dealing with sewers, and buying fabrics. I would go to all of the same fabric places that sold to all of the big designers, and they would always catch me sneaking peeks at what they were buying. I loved being on a first name basis with the buyers. I thought it was so cool when the editor of Martha Stewart Living was always trying to set me up with someone. It was a heady time, and it all became just the way it was.

We did a lot of work with Colin Cowie. He is a pretty well known event planner, and designer, among other things. He had asked us to design a dress for the cover of his upcoming book. He needed it in three days. I said yes, on a Friday, without even finding out if it was even possible, and three sleepless nights later, it was on a beautiful model, being shot for the cover.

His book was almost done, except he had one more chapter he needed to complete. He asked us if we knew anyone that wanted a free wedding, in exchange for it being shot for his book. They had to let him call the shots. Shockingly, every bride to be we knew was not interested.

 So he decided to fabricate a wedding. It would be in my boss's apartment, and it would be this great party, with all of his friends there as the guests, and I was asked to play the bride. I was thrilled at the chance to be immortalized in a book. I asked my college friend Dutch to be the groom. It was shot in the Fall. I remember I had a small pimple on my cheek, and I felt fat, and wasn't happy about how I looked. I almost backed out.

As I looked at myself in the awful mauve bathroom, I wished for a moment, I could see that beautiful girl staring back at me. If only for a minute.

 I don't want to be that girl anymore. But I would love to wear that powder blue silk shantung gown, and the diamonds borrowed from Van Cleef and Arpels again. And the champagne. All of that lovely champagne.   

My sunbeam

This sweet little bear. I cannot express my love for her. I hold her at night, and inhale her sweet smell. I adore every single part of her body. I am stunned she is ours. Mine. She is a gift to all of us. Adored by all.

My very last baby. From the moment I saw her, my heart expanded that much more. She is a joy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

And for my next trick....

Sweet relief. I hear the garbage truck outside. We are a little late with that bill, and every week, I think that this will be the day when we are cut off from pickup. But the garbage is being collected. That bill is set to be paid next paycheck.

I have been driving around, only when necessary, with no front brakes. I literally grind to a halt. Even the baby asks "what that noise"? every time I stop the car. Ugh...another expense. Another bill that won't be paid, as the car takes priority.

 Playing this juggling game each month, or "creative financing", as I like to call it, has ceased to be stressful. It has become the only way to get the bills paid. It has become normal. They all do get paid, eventually, but it always seems to be at the 11th hour, which drives me crazy. Shut off notices from the electric company, and water have become a regular occurrence. Some days, I keep my fingers crossed just pulling in the driveway, that there won't be the familiar little hang tag dangling from my front door knob alerting us that within 72 hours, our water will be shut off. I breath a sigh of relief each time that there isn't one.

Halloween can even be maddening. It is an expense that we have always tried to keep to a minimum. But my girls really have some grandiose ideas regarding their costumes. Last year, Olivia wanted to be a rock star. Wouldn't you know that she went out trick or treating for less than half an hour? I wanted to yell, and tell her to get her butt back out there, and get my money's worth out of her costume. Thankfully, this year, she wants to be a hippie, and we made her costume out of clothes long forgotten about in the back of my closet.

And Christmas is looming. I saw a giant blow up Santa on Lowe's the other day. It sits above the entry way of the store, like a giant reminder. I haven't even gotten through trick or treating, yet the Christmas seed is firmly planted in my mind. Thank goodness Walmart is offering layaway. I feel relief knowing that I can make small payments on stuff for the girls. I just have to wait until next paycheck to begin, as the amount I will be required to put down initially is not in the budget this week. I so wish I could tell the girls that Santa got them brakes for the car, but I suppose they wouldn't be quite so excited.

And so, the balls are all in the air. The juggling of everyday life, and all of it's costs. I think today, I will just try and appreciate the spectacular show Autumn is putting on, sip my coffee, and be thankful that my garbage is gone.

It's the little things.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I cannot stop thinking about painting.

 I took Olivia to her Brownie meeting last night, and Molly and I walked through the art store, and I was drawn to the pre-stretched canvases, and paints. All of the beautiful paintbrushes. I sniffed the linseed oil bottles and was taken back to another time in my life.

I couldn't sleep last night. And then I went back to the dream studio, on the dream property, of the dream house, on the bay, in my mind. I heard the slapping of the flag in the wind, high atop the flag pole, and the clanging of metal from it.

I go to that space when I cannot sleep. I am instantly lulled into a relaxed state. I have easels of all sizes. And giant wooden tables, with mason jars filled with paintbrushes. A huge slop sink in the corner, stained from years of oil paints. The room smells like turpentine.

And I paint. On giant canvases taller than I, I paint. My poppy photo keeps coming into my mind. I desperately want to paint it. I keep looking at Georgia O'Keefe paintings. I keep longing to be in that studio.

I keep thinking about the poppy.

My conscience

And then there is this one. Some days, I could cry she exasperates me so. Stubborn, and defiant. When yelled at, she yells back louder. She is fearless. But as sensitive and fragile as a snowflake. I wish I could crawl in her head, and listen to what is going on.

Her love of nature inspires me. Her creative mind blows me away. Her spirit. Wow. There is no word to describe the complex person she is. I sometimes feel so unattached to her, and can't believe she is mine, and then there are those moments when I know. I just know.

She makes us all laugh too. Her sense of humor amazes me. I can be harder on her than the others, and for that, I feel bad. When she is good, she is spectacular. To witness her is brilliance. But when she wants, she can be, just hard. I tell her to grow up too much.

She will. And then I will just want to go back in time.

 She teaches me more about myself than I want to know sometimes.

Thank you dear snowflake.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My heart

The little girl is fading away. I still see it in her eyes, but there is a little bit less of it, more and more. I never thought that time would pass so quickly. I never thought my Olivia would ever stop being a little girl. I just never thought that far ahead.

I went into her room today, and I could smell her. I like looking at how she lines things up, neatly, in a row, in size order. Her shoes carefully placed on the floor. And the way she makes her bed, perfectly, each and every day. All of her little stuffed friends in the same spots each day. Her sheets pulled taught.

I worry so much about losing her. About her keeping things from me, and distance growing between us. Eventually, she will hate me. I don't want her to hate me. I want to be close. Forever. Effortlessly.

But I don't think that is possible. So, I will take what she gives me. Because soon, the little bit of little girl that I see in her eyes will be there no more.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


My mother and father came for a visit this past weekend. And at their insistence, they made us go out on a date, and they paid for it. I don't like the fact that my parents are paying for an evening out for us. At our age, I would like to have the ability to be able to do that for ourselves. I also felt guilty taking money, and being so frivolous with it, when I know how many dinners, or packages of diapers could be purchased with the money. But David and I have not had a date in years. Years. And for once, we wanted to feel normal, so we went ahead and stepped out for a few hours. Truth be told, my parents didn't give us the option to back out.

And it was worth every mis-spent cent. It truly was. Financially, going out as a family is not an option, let alone just the two of us. Days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months, and sometimes, before you know it, years have passed, and daily life with all of it's repetition, and, let's face it, some days, monotony, really can get between a married couple. It almost makes you forget what it used to be like, when things were easy. When things weren't as complex as they seem to be now.

Some days, I feel like David and I are living as room mates. Tired at the end of the day, and in a rush to just put an X on the calendar, rushing to get the girls in bed, and just call it a night. Going out the other night was freeing. Even being in the car, just the two of us, felt odd. I kept glancing into the back seat, and seeing three car seats squished together, and it would startle me that no one was seated in them. Sitting and talking uninterrupted felt so strange. To actually complete a sentence without being interrupted 7 times was magical. To be able to  finish a thought never happens around here. It almost made me feel nervous. Like if we didn't talk about money stress, or the old "what do you think is going to happen to us in the next year" conversation, or mention the girls, we would run out of things to talk about.

But we didn't. We talked. We laughed. We were goofy. I really let myself go, and just enjoy being alone with my husband. My partner in all of this muck, and stress, and utter joy of a life that we have created. I don't want to have worries eclipse our day to day happiness. I don't want stress to wear away the strong foundation of our life. A life that we knew was going to have it's ups and downs, although I really hadn't anticipated on quite so many, but a good life nonetheless. A happy life. One that has far exceeded my expectations.

I read something the other day, by a writer, named Nell Casey. She was talking about housecleaning. The drudgery of constant straightening, and tidying. She wrote "These acts do not keep me happy. They keep me in a permanent hover around my house, continually preparing to live rather than actually doing it".

Like I said, best money ever mis-spent.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Last night

Last night, I roasted a chicken, and some brussel sprouts, and a turnip. There was stuffing and gravy.

The day was sunny and glorious. And I was given good news to boot. Really good news. The kind that makes you speak in giggles. The kind that made my cheeks, and neck flush.

There was even an outdoor fire outside on the deck. And blankets. With Molly snuggled asleep under one of them. And it felt warm, and safe, and like I never wanted the moment to pass.

But it has, and today, I swept the ashes off the deck, and collected the sticks strewn about, and fixed the cushions on the outdoor chairs, and folded the blankets, and brought them inside.

But my hair still smells like smoke. A memory so simple and sweet, wrapped up in my hair. And forever in my mind.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


"Hippies". I have read that word twice now, describing the protesters on Wall Street. I wouldn't consider any of those people " hippies". Maybe" fed up". Or "mad"."Frustrated". Those words make way more sense to me. Not" hippies". Hippies are peace loving, happy people.

 I don't think the protesters, or myself, are feeling warm and fuzzy right now. Words like, sick and tired of working harder for less, and feeling pushed around and ignored by our government, and banks, and plain mad as hell sound better to me than"hippie".

Did you know that General Electric had 14 billion dollars in profits in 2010? And do you know how much they paid in taxes? $0. And they got a $3 billion dollar credit from the government. This, after cutting 20% of their U.S. jobs.

Bank of America had $4.4 billion dollars in profits in 2009. They paid no taxes, and received a $1.9 billion dollar refund. They also received a Taxpayer/Fed bailout in the amount of $1 trillion. Yes, that would be trillion.

Exxon Mobil had $37.3 billion in profits in 2009. They received a refund of $156 million. Taxes paid?......You guessed it!  Zippo!!

I was at a birthday party for one of my daughters' friends over the weekend. I was talking with three women. Two of the three had an unemployed husband. One has suffered through foreclosure, due to job loss, and the other is afraid to check her mailbox because she too is about to lose her home.

I had to pick up a prescription yesterday, for my daughter, and had to leave without it, because I could not afford the $45.00 price tag. This after finding out our health insurance cost is going up in January, despite a wage freeze, at my husbands job. And believe me, it doesn't escape us how lucky we are to even have insurance, or be employed for that matter. Far too many people in this country can't even consider going to the doctor, let alone take their child to the pediatrician.

The American dream is vanishing, right before our eyes. My husband and I are trying to hold onto our home, and put food on the table, and keep the lights on. Basic stuff, that too many people are currently trying to do as well. Forget a slice of the American pie. I would take a nibble of the crust. And so too would millions of fed up, pushed around, broke, hard working people out here. Families having a tougher time just being families. People working harder for less. And there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

Nearly 2/3 of U.S. corporations pay $0 in U.S. income taxes totaling an estimated $100 billion in lost tax revenue annually.

How 'bout them apples, my " hippie" friends?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Seeing red

Olivia is home sick from school. She has an upper respiratory infection, and pink eye. I picked up her anti-biotic yesterday, after her doctor appointment, and her eye drops were not ready. I had to go back this morning, and when I did, the pharmacist told me that it was $45.00.


$45.00 dollars for eye drops. I had to leave in disbelief. Without the eye drops. I have some older eye drops from the last go around of pink eye in the house, that certainly never cost me $45.00, and are probably half as effective, so that is what Olivia will get. Because $45.00 is out of the question today. Actually, most days.

And now I am feeling really not so good anymore about the hamsters. Happy girls for sure, but one with really red eyes.

Some days, this crap just really gets old. This is one of those days.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Scenes from a weekend

So, instead of saying no, like we always do, and paying the electric bill, we said yes. And made three little girls so happy.

They were over the moon.

It felt good.