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04/01 Direct Link

“Do you want to keep the length?”

‘It’s my third haircut this week. You are my last saving grace. I don’t give a shit about the length. Just fix it. I trust you.’

But I don’t say all that because somehow my hair has become this thing that can make me weak and wildly vain and vulnerable. I am obsessing because it has become this one thing I can cling to that isn’t stained or stretched or shared, this one thing that is ageless and a blank slate that I like to leave blank.

She chops and dyes. I surrender.  

04/02 Direct Link

Knowing the right words to say at the right time. Compounded by knowing the right questions to ask too, which, though questions, deliver a statement—a statement of interest, a powerful thing. Executing a delicacy of phrasing in a hot second when it would’ve forced most to a stuttering pause. [Maybe the pauses are there, longer than they seem, but I forget each time words appear.]

I struggle to volley words at all. I welcome all hundred distractions and then resent every one. I wish I could just answer the goddamn phone and let my voice run down the wires.

04/03 Direct Link

Took the girls to Mom and Dad’s for pre-Easter activities, dyeing eggs, making bunny t-shirts. Dad pulled his usual joke, asked who I was, introduced himself; Mom, stunned I hadn’t seen the new furniture yet. Meanwhile, I try to shake the weirdness of what’s always hinted at by normalizing it, by not playing guilty. I was invited and I came and that can happen as often as they’d like to make it happen. Parker and Avery had so much fun together. I wish this happened more often. Why do we always cycle through this awkwardness? Is it me or them? 

04/04 Direct Link

Four Chambers Press. Phoenix Art Museum. “Breadcrumbs.” Today, the last hurrah. Can’t believe something finally got published—which sounds as though it’s been a process of writing and submitting over and over until something finally caved or clicked. But no, not like that. It’s the kind of “finally” that looks like a sapped skeleton hand grasping up from settled soil.

Now the bowl that was collecting pens and junk mail and buttons and pieces fallen off of cheap toys has been washed and polished and put in my center and wants to be filled over and over with words, ripe. 

04/05 Direct Link

Church with Parker and we head home. We’re supposed to get together at Mom & Dad’s for the usual family Easter gig. Mom said ‘food will be around 4pm, so come over whenever.’ We get Parker down for a nap and, not long after, a text: “Easter bunny came. It was getting too hot in costume”... Send a message after the nap to see what is happening then and hear back: “Come over. We just sat down to eat. Lots of food. It should still b warm”


They call me the stranger, but it’s the box they’ve put me in.
04/06 Direct Link

Pushing Parker on the swings when an older woman walks up with a little girl who wants to swing too. She calls herself Grandma, sets her bags down, lifts the girl into the swing. While this happens, Parker stares and asks:  “Why is her face like that?”

 

It’s not anything in particular, not a mark or twitch, not like crutches, an eye patch, a sign on her head allowing me to say, “Oh, she has _____” leading into a discussion about disabilities. It’s just a face I can’t explain, guesses I don’t want to make.

 

I play deaf, saying nothing. 

04/07 Direct Link

it’s rituals I’m craving:

 

fingering a soft stick and

click-click-clicking heat,

reading curls of white like

fuzzy hieroglyphic fortunes

 

paraphernalia of storage, collection

of decorative boxes, zippered pouches

compartments for things that

grind and crush, melt and impale and

the delicate plastic pockets

thoroughly pinched, sealed

windows into want

 

the glass

the ice

the pour

the sip before the extra pour

the mitigating pour, resented

the stir

the swallow

the thirst

repeat

repeat

repeat

repeat

repeat

repeat

repeat

the endless thirst

the ugly

the wicked

the sorry

repeat

repeat again

 

my hands need a rosary

the hamster needs a wheel



 


04/08 Direct Link

He gets home and says, “Get out of here. Go have dinner. And then get some groceries.” 

“Have dinner by myself?”

 “Yeah." 

It takes a bit of obligatory tidying, mental coaxing, but slowly, hesitantly, I make my way out the door.

The girl at the register shares my name. I ask for whatever is her favorite dish and dessert. Get my iced coffee. Feels like I’m in someone else’s body. I hear everything, every tile the garbage bin rolls over, the conversation of the family two booths away, the music hanging softly like an overcast sky above the buzzing minutiae. 

04/09 Direct Link

The state fair is a different place when you’re older and sober and, hell, it’s a different place just during daylight hours. Took the girls and found ourselves watching Godfrey the cheesy magician, drinking a ‘cranium freeze’ that tasted like pure sugar and dye. Breezy carousels, small-track pony rides, boat of toddlers coursing a tiny moat of water. No drunkenness. No gluttonous turkey legs with a side of deep-friend everything. No coasters that pull a scream from the bottom of your throat. No teenage vampires. No oversized blinking Vegas machines lighting up a patch of dust in the lazy desert.

04/10 Direct Link

Picked up Miss Sandy to get her to Wal-Mart for a new iPad cord, her only window to the world. She talked about being really down lately, how she’s falling apart. She’s having foot surgery next week and will be down for six weeks, said she’d need me and the girls to come by to see her and spend time with her, keep her from going crazy.

I want to keep her with me and take her to the Japanese Friendship Garden and watch movies that make her laugh until she cries, tuck her in, rub her feet in oil. 



 

04/11 Direct Link

“How do you do this with two kids? How do you watch both of them at once? It’s hard enough just keeping track of one,” he says at the mall playground. And later, when I send him an audio clip of the three girls screaming for a minute straight (a small snippet), in unison and taking turns, he says, “Honestly, the fact that you haven’t stabbed yourself sometimes surprises me.”

In these moments, I feel like I have a mohawk and leather, smoking barrels on my hips, a heavy sheriff’s badge--

and I puff my cigar and pat his head. 

04/12 Direct Link

“karesansui”

 

the kids are smacking hand-sized

wooden rakes over boxes of sand,

knocking half the contents out of

these miniature playgrounds.

this sand is not water, these rocks

are not the elements—

but they are, aren’t they?

chaos

 

“kah - ray - sahn - suu - ee”

I say

practicing

repeating

 

trying to remember the sound

of the drums, pure vibration that

lived in me for months, over this

BANG BANG BANG BANGing

of clunky fists, trying to see

kabuki in the sunset

 

“karesansui”

I say over and over because

the saying is the meditation

raking lips over syllables

arranging sounds like smooth stones

 
04/13 Direct Link

Overheard a woman on the phone at dance class: "Hi! My warranty expires next month and I had a note on my calendar to call because I want someone do a system check before then... No, no lights have come on. I just want a final inspection while it's under warranty."

Heels and a dress. Talking about “Maverick’s wife” and how her kids “just LOVE Crossfit.”

I cannot fathom ever having this conversation, or having a note like that on my calendar. What does that life look like? I bet she doesn't even flinch when someone asks what's for dinner. 

04/14 Direct Link

An army of illogical, unreasonable, reckless, goldfish-brained, fiercely autonomous desperately dependents--which is to say I am watching three girls, 1, 2, and 3, discovering life in a living room. They squat and swing and SCREAM simultaneously, feeding off of each other’s volume, changing tones as their mouths tighten to smile at the squealing babblesong.

 

It keeps me young. It makes me old. In Klimt’s painting, I am the middle Age of Woman, adoring the tiny things, eyes closed, a gentle tangle of tenderness, rapture. But I feel the sag, the mourning, the unseen face. I feel the lonely nakedness.

04/15 Direct Link
Mixa, where are you? I want to know
the names of every street you’ve walked on --
but that would be tedious for you,
so no. Just tell me a story or two. Tell me
what your bedroom looks like. I still tell you
my dreams. I still wear your shirt. 
I still want to pretend
to be asleep on your grandmother’s floor
and wonder if I could to kiss you,
to taste the metal in your lip.
I cannot
think of white-haired grandmothers
or crimson or leather or
 pictures of Prague
or extraordinary machines
without thinking
of your skin.
04/16 Direct Link

[STUCK]

. . .

“The lava of a volcano
Shot up hot from under the sea
One thing leads to another
And you made an island of me”
. . .
“And I could liken you to a lot of things
But I always come around
Cause in the end I'm a sensible girl
I know the fiction of the fix”
. . .

“We are like a wishing well
And a bolt of electricity
But we can still support each other
All we gotta do is avoid each other
Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key
Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key”

04/17 Direct Link

She goes to sleep talking about Jesus dying, still reflecting on this at times, unprovoked. She knows how Jesus “got dead” -- the Easter Bunny used his powers to put the holes in Jesus’ hands. She wasn’t sure but--she pauses to consider--yes, that’s what happened.


I’m tempted to tell her, “No, here’s the truth...” 

but don’t. Because I drench a thousand sparks of her imagination every day. I answer her curiosities with an impotent memory, tainted psychology, a tired tongue. 

 It feels criminal, always, cramming her mind into this architecture of answers, a nomenclature of mistruths shrinking her daily.
04/18 Direct Link

We pack up the girls and spend a chunk of our Saturday at some Chipotle Fest. Cultivate [commercialism] one fresh ingredient at a time. The drive is long, and the walk between parking lots and the tents feels longer, and was that row of port-a-potties our only option? Shit--sunscreen.


Naked midriffs and halos of flowers resting on long Pantene waves. Crews of boys who look too young to give a shit about any of this. Shouldn’t they be off riding their bikes with someone’s permission?


I am suddenly ancient. Not just a mom. Not grown-up. I am flat-out OLD.
04/19 Direct Link

filler time-killer garbage. i think parker gets her skeptical face from me. i keep catching it in my pictures. obligatory smile pulled to one side below a cheek puffed with doubt. DELETE. i need to keep penny small. i put my hands all over her head & neck & toes all day, blowing her baby hair with my breath before it grows long. it will be over soon. it will be over tomorrow. how was i ever a cat person? and why do i still want a tiny dog? nevermind. i know. i thought the haircut was growing on me. it’s not.

04/20 Direct Link
I said, with a touch of irritation in my voice, “The weather’s nice. That means the girls are in and out of the door all day--and then we get all of these goddamn flies in the house.” Nevermind warm sunshine, the brush of breeze and watching the trees convulse to some secret summer song. Forget the glorious open they find when living room walls are abandoned (even if they find themselves inside four more brick walls). Leave it to me to bitch about the flies. I guess I can’t say anything without shitting a black rain cloud over it.
04/21 Direct Link

Just take the picture.

All of the fiddling & stalling & rehearsing & whatever my parallel is for waiting for the right light and, later, blaming the light--all of these can be calmed by the simple command [but confront the instruction]:

Just take the picture.

Collect the rules, excuses, expectations, all of the goddamn projections, collect them and shred until they are nothing but confetti & glitter.

Just take the picture.

Don’t forgive the fever blister. Honor it. Laud the wrinkles and spotlight the stains and revere the rivers of ritual & wear & experience.

Just take the picture.

Just take the goddamned picture already.
04/22 Direct Link

On the swing, facing the house, moon tucked just behind the roof so every time she swings back she sees it, and every time she swings forward, it hides.

“Why is he doing that?”

He’s copying her, I say, putting on a goofy voice and saying “hello… hello… hello…” every time she swings back and sees him. She giggles and giggles.

“Hello, Mr. Moon… Or Miss Moon?… Mister Moon.”

Later, she finds not one star to wish on, but two--one for me too.

And the next night, she wishes on the stars that we could see comets every day.
04/23 Direct Link

Parker’s asking every day if we’re going to play with someone. “Can Avery come over to play? Can you text Auntie?” or “When do Freddy and Topher get out of school? Can we go and see them?” And I play it off and sidetrack it and tell myself I’ll get to it and figure something out.

She finally tells me “Call Christy. Just call right now and ask.”

I want to plant her in a garden full of children, watch her bloom full and bright. But she’s just budding in a cheap pot in my windowsill, thirsty, looking for light.
04/24 Direct Link

when everything is shabby and stale, dishwater; when your body is a mechanical appliance with a diminutive spark of fuel after each recharge; when you want nothing to touch you but want another body to blanket yours, simultaneously; when your heart is in a vise in an empty room, gripped and anxious, anticipating; when you feel like you’re a heavy sack of carbohydrates and ticking clocks and bad choices

just about then, you’ll be naked and fucking on the hood of a car in the glow of red light

just about then, you’ll forget

and just about then, you’ll remember
04/25 Direct Link
I am so tired. A deep, deep tired, down to the roots where nothing budges. The kind of tired that pillows and pills and a club over the head can’t touch. I can open my eyes, rise, function, but my brain is suspended in a bucket of mud. I can’t slough the coat of muck from my mind. This day will have no input from me. I can’t plan, can’t govern my thoughts, can’t allocate emotions. I read about Nepal, the thousands now sleeping, see faces pulled from the rubble, and I cry and wonder if we’re all just dreaming.
04/26 Direct Link

We’ve tossed the email back and forth ten times now, tiny edits made each time that  are ultimately negligible, just speed bumps on a residential road that’s about to empty onto a freeway; I've already checked my seatbelt 12 times.

[Send]

[click]

[Sent]

My stomach is in knots and I play it cool because we have been over this and over this and over this. This is what should happen, right? It’s the only next step, right? without catering, caving?

Why is this bridge always shaky, missing planks, covered in thick fog so that I can’t see the other side?
04/27 Direct Link

She dawdle-nurses for what feels

like the 900th time today and won’t

give in. My hand punches

air above us and I have to shove

that kinetic kick in reverse,

a return-to-sender boomerang

back to my black heart,

and out of my mouth,

 

GO

TO

SLEEP

I scream,

 

and her mouth melts down

into something so sad, melting

my eyes down

into something sorry

 

I spend the rest of the afternoon

consumed by the thought of my black heart

bursting—the impending infarct,

a silently scheduled arrest

of bloodlife

 

a neurotic shift,

a railroad switch to save me

from myself. 

04/28 Direct Link

First movie night with Parker. We list cartoons we’ve told her about or shown clips of. She chooses, definitively, Wizard of Oz. Pride-swell.

She asks a thousand questions, the kind that she need only wait two seconds more and the movie would answer them for her, but we take turns fielding, posturing patience.

I don’t answer most. I’m lost in the sigh of a cycle being seen--the whole scene going molasses while I watch her watching this world I lived in as a girl, trying to sit in her skin. I keep crying under my lids, over and over.
04/29 Direct Link

Ended the day, just me & her, eating cake pops at a patio table at dusk. Past bedtime, but I promised we would drive by the park and swing on the swings for three minutes. “No, four minutes… No, four seconds,” she says, bargaining.

We get back in the car and she asks if she should lock her door. Yes, I say. She repeats back what I say to her:

“Because I’m your best good nina? The best Parker in the whole world?”

“Yep.”

“Then you need to lock up your door.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re the best Mommy too.”

Love-bitten.

Grateful.
04/30 Direct Link
Sex on the rag has happened so many times. Countless, because why should your body limit your body? Why deny it? (Plenty of reasons, but don’t remind me--I’m easily swayed to shutdown.) 
 
What was supposed to only be my hands, becomes my mouth, becomes all of me. (Because don’t tempt me--I’m easily swayed by momentum. I'm fond of changing my mind.) 
 
When we’re spent, lights on, and see a scene to clean, I realize only later while dressing that it’s the first time -- first time in my sexual life, since 18 -- that I didn’t apologize for the mess.