BY Dana

12/01 Direct Link
The old man hobbled across Goodman Street toward my Buick, a plastic grocery bag carried flat in his two hands, held carefully, protected, and he met my eyes as I waited at the stoplight, wishing for the light to change, wondering who he was, what he wanted, why he stared at me so intently, so purposefully, and I tried to look away but couldn't, and then he was at my window, asking would I please drive him to the grocery store, please, it's a long walk, please, my wife is sick, dying, won't you help me, I did.
12/02 Direct Link
I don't understand how you can turn love on and off like a switch. It doesn't work that way. You either love me or you don't; you don't get to be angry with me one day and decide you hate me, then be happy with me the next and decide it's love. If you love someone, it's impossible to stop loving so easily, even when frustrations and disagreements occur. Love doesn't disappear just because two people don't see eye to eye on one issue. Yet that's how you've been treating me, and sadly, I don't know if I care anymore.
12/03 Direct Link
When the vet handed me a bill for $125 today, I snapped. (In October, I had paid him $300; in November, another $50.) I certainly want my dog to feel better, but the prescription cost $63, which I felt was crazy and just too much on top of what I'd already paid. I ended up arguing (loudly) with the vet, and he finally offered me an effective, less expensive alternative, but now my stomach is in knots and I'm too embarrassed to even wonder what they all said about my "tirade." I'm certainly becoming quite an expert at burning bridges...
12/04 Direct Link
Sex is emotion in motion. ~Mae West

So what are you trying to say? What emotion do you want to convey? Lust? Desire? Infatuation? Not love, though. Certainly not love. You have a need, and I'm supposed to satisfy it. Jump when asked for, heed the call. Never mind that you've been ignoring me, speaking only when you must, eyes always fixed at some point above my head. Never mind your refusal to tell me you love me; I forgot: you're allowed to turn love off and on like a switch. Never mind me.
12/05 Direct Link
Eleven Things I've Never Said:

You were the first.

Being alone scares me.

I'm afraid sometimes that you will leave me.

I'm afraid sometimes that you won't.

I don't know how to be happy.

I exist rather than live.

Change frightens me.

I'm bored by routine.

I'm not the person I pretend to be.

I watch reality TV to escape from my own reality.

I've probably never been completely truthful, even now. You won't let me.
12/06 Direct Link
I find joy when I see my children get so excited about simple things, like helping me stir the cake batter. My three-year-old in particular has kept very close to my elbow lately, constantly telling me "I can help" and "Let me do it myself, Mommy." Oftentimes I have to swallow my impatience as my tasks inevitably take longer to complete with my son's help, but still my heart swells with love and pride (and, I admit, a bit of sadness for time that passes too quickly) over what my little boy is already big enough to accomplish.
12/07 Direct Link
I'm officially a middle child, although since my brother is thirteen years older than I am, I've always felt like the oldest. My friend, who's thinking of trying for a third baby, asked me what it was like being the second of three, and I couldn't give her an answer. I don't think I possess any of the traits that characterize children "stuck" in the middle: I've never felt like my parents didn't pay attention to me or that I had to compete with my brother. I was just a regular kid, nothing more. Not oldest or middle. Just me.
12/08 Direct Link
Jonathan Swift said, "May you live all the days of your life." This quote always gives me pause. Am I really living my life or just going through the motions? Am I appreciating and making the most of every day I have, or am I just surviving? I admit that many days, I'm just surviving. I breathe in and out, I take care of the things I have to do, I talk to the people I have to talk to...but I'm not really living my days. I'm not cherishing them for the gifts that they are. I need to.
12/09 Direct Link
I'm tired. No, it's more than that. I'm exhausted. Each morning I think of the tasks ahead of me and want to put my head down on the table. Daily life just seems overwhelming so much of the time, even relatively mundane things like cooking dinner and dressing the kids. And it's not just a physical exhaustion brought on by lack of sleep; it's a mental exhaustion as well. My mind realizes the tasks ahead and closes itself off with a defeatist, I-can't-do-anything-else attitude. Yet somehow I persevere -- I survive -- but it's hard, harder every day.
12/10 Direct Link
I saw a picture of my three-year-old today, taken when he was fifteen months and blond ringlets flowed to mid-back, shiny and springy, and I felt sadness grip my heart, twist it, and I wanted to cry because just a few months after that picture, after his second birthday, he had his first haircut, and those curls, those beautiful corkscrew curls, were cut, taped to a keepsake card, and although I've let his hair grow long again, those curls never returned, and my stomach clenches with too familiar Mommy Guilt that convinces me I failed: "Wrong again."
12/11 Direct Link
She doesn't love him, not exactly. She loves what he's given her -- her children, her house, her security -- but she feels little for him. She's impassive. He's just there, her cross to bear. Each morning when she wakes up next to him she forms her lips into a plastic smile and then kisses him good-bye as he leaves for work. She greets him with another kiss at the door each evening when he returns, even though all day long she had hoped he wouldn't come back, had fantasized about life without him. She doesn't love him. She just pretends.
12/12 Direct Link
He doesn't love her either, not really. He cares about her, certainly -- cares what happens to her, cares that she has the things that she needs -- but what he feels for her is what he feels for his sister: an obligation to love her. He doesn't desire her, not like he once did. He's relieved to go to work each day and dreads the weekends when he has to spend time with her. The obligatory, perfunctory sex is good, he will admit, yet she's not the girl she was when they met. He doesn't love her anymore. He just pretends.
12/13 Direct Link
You always said that your favorite song was Jim Croce's Time in a Bottle. You said the lyrics made you think of me, about how you were so glad you'd found me, about how you'd finally found the one you wanted to go through time with. I believed you. But where was that sentiment when you told me you had fallen in love with someone else? Did Croce's voice still sing in your mind as you called me vicious names, accused me of things I didn't do? Was I still your dream come true? I don't think so.
12/14 Direct Link
I am a person who gets up hours before everyone else, just so I can have some time to myself -- time to think, time to enjoy a cup of coffee, time to breathe -- all without the thousand requests and demands that assault me the moment the rest of the family wakes up. At times I feel guilty about these moments I steal for myself. I think about all I should be doing -- the laundry, the dishes, cleaning -- yet I realize that if I don't recharge and take care of me, I'm unhappy and frazzled and no good to anyone else.
12/15 Direct Link
This will be a strange Christmas now that my grandma has passed. I haven't been home for the holidays in five years, so it's not the loss of her physical presence at this time that seems aberrant to me. Yet just knowing that she's not back home with my family makes me feel empty and incomplete.

I always looked forward to the pork pies that Grandma used to make on Christmas Eve. I'm going to make them this year in honor of her. By carrying on her tradition, I hope to feel her here with me once again.
12/16 Direct Link
I feel so overwhelmed by all the things that need to get done in the next few days: gifts to wrap, cards to send, meals to plan, last-minute shopping to complete, the house to clean for guests who may or may not show up... It all weighs heavily on me, and last night I just felt crushed by everything that needs to be done. I don't know how to do it all, and what I desperately want is to tuck myself into bed and just sleep it all away. But I can't. I have work to do.
12/17 Direct Link
I'm looking at an overflowing basket of laundry and remembering how, when we were married, I would do laundry every day, just to escape to the basement and away from you and your vicious words and thrown glasses and lies. I would wash tiny loads of clothes, sheets, towels, whatever I could find, and while I waited I would read and write and daydream about what life would be like without you, how happy and free I would be. But now that I've truly escaped, not just to the basement but from our life together, complete happiness still eludes me.
12/18 Direct Link
Sometimes as I'm doing the laundry or washing the dishes, I'll feel as though I'm acting in some exceedingly boring play. I'll pretend someone (usually it's Tyler, my friend from college) is watching me, and I'll start to narrate in my mind, explaining what I'm doing and why, and Tyler (or whomever the watcher is) will interject his own thoughts and opinions. This is all crazy, I know, and sometimes I wonder when my life became like this, like an act rather than an actual life. It's all very embarrassing and not just a little sad.
12/19 Direct Link
Aldous Huxley said that "every man's memory is his private literature." Memory is fallible; we can't rely on it, as we have a tendency to misremember what we remember, adding details, subtracting them, perhaps creating entirely different outcomes or meanings from a single moment or series of events. Do we do this on purpose? I think some of us probably do. Josh Billings, a nineteenth-century humorist, asserted that "there are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory," and I agree because I've been one of those people, weaving "true" fictions out of less-than-interesting facts.
12/20 Direct Link
I hate your smugness. You come in here like you own the place and go through all the closets and drawers, even though you haven't lived here for years and have already taken all of your stuff. You listen to me tell my children not to do something, then you let them do it anyway, that damn smug look on your face as you meet my eyes. I hate when you come here. I'm tired of your disrespect and the way you think you are allowed to parent your half-siblings. They're my children, not yours. Get out.
12/21 Direct Link
She closed her eyes and felt herself falling, drifting, slipping away. It was a strange feeling, a curious feeling, this dropping away from herself, from everything, and part of her--most of her--didn't want the falling to stop. She didn't want to fight. She had always thought that she would rage and kick and scream and claw, but she was so tired--so very tired--of being her, and so she decided instead in that flash of a second to go gentle into that good night, that sleep, that slumber, that end. Her end. Her good-bye.
12/22 Direct Link
In the beginning it was just about the sex. When he met her, he thought she'd be a casual date, no strings: someone to have fun with, someone to pass the time with while his broken heart glued itself back together. After a month, he figured he was done with her. He tried to get rid of her, but he couldn't stop his hand from dialing her number; he couldn't stop his heart from yearning to get to know her, ask her questions, really listen to her responses. He had begun to care -- the last thing he wanted to do.
12/23 Direct Link
She didn't know how much longer she could take these nights without sleep. She'd go to bed early, exhausted, and as soon as her head met the pillow it felt like someone flipped a switch, and suddenly she was lying there wide awake with unclosable doll eyes fixed on the ceiling and a painted smile on her lips. She resented him for ever calling her dollface. She had told him so, and still he had continued, so she did what she did to stop him. But then he got angry, and this was the best revenge he could have taken.
12/24 Direct Link
Eddie didn't want to be a bastard, but he couldn't help it. Look at his genes: a father who split before Eddie's birth; a mother who put then two-year-old Eddie in his high chair and told him she had to run out for milk for his Cheerios. She packed a suitcase and left, and two hours later, a neighbor finally heard him screaming. The next day, his mother was arrested after police pulled her over for speeding down the freeway with Mrs. Wheeler's husband. So yeah, he was destined to be a bastard. It was in his genes.
12/25 Direct Link
Adherents of Christmas are exhausted and overextended, but Christmas worshipers are joyful. Are you rushing or feasting?

I recently saw this C. S. Lewis quote, and I immediately recognized my category: I am one of the exhausted and overextended, one of the people you've seen in crowded stores muttering in frustration and rolling their eyes at people who just won't move out of the aisle. But when (and why?) did I become this person? When did I go from feasting on the true meaning of Christmas to rushing around, gorging on the commercialism of the season?
12/26 Direct Link
Phil hates his wife, his ex-wife, his stepkids, their guinea pig, and his cat. He can't stand his boss, his colleagues, and his clients, and he despises the barista at the Starbucks where he stops each morning for his venti vanilla latte. Phil loathes all government officials, the weatherman, and the next-door neighbor who has a Porsche. He wants to punch the Wal-Mart greeter and spit on the woman with twenty things in her cart waiting in the "Ten Items or Less" line.

But he loves God, so he must be a good guy. Right?
12/27 Direct Link
Abby looks forward to dying. She doesn't have a death wish -- not exactly -- but she always finds her mind turning to visions of her funeral, of her grave, of whatever comes after. She's had these thoughts since she was a teenager who dreamed of being laid to rest in her teal lamé prom dress, although she never shared them with her friends. Every morning now she stretches and thinks, "Will today be the day?" Then she dresses, always choosing colors she looks good in and wearing underwear with no rips, just like her mama told her. Abby exists -- and anticipates.
12/28 Direct Link
As I watched TV last night, relaxing after a hectic day, it occurred to me that soon -- too soon -- that very moment would be at most a distant memory, at least, forgotten. And this moment that I'm writing this entry -- and the moment you're reading it? Gone. Lost. It's just a matter of time, some things forgotten almost immediately, others clinging to our memories like Velcro before finally letting go. And I feel an almost overwhelming sadness that so much in life is so easily erased, precious moments shared with others that we so often lose, gone from us forever.
12/29 Direct Link
When Alex was a child, he thought that astronauts had the best jobs in the world, so when he grew up, he intended to be one. In junior high, though, his interest shifted, and he decided after digging up some bird bones in his backyard that he wanted to be an archaeologist instead. In high school, he changed his mind several times, from wanting to be a Hollywood producer to a teacher to an accountant to an orthodontist. What he didn't want to grow up to be was a used car salesman like his deadbeat father -- but unfortunately, he did.
12/30 Direct Link
For as long as Christina could remember, her sister, Allison, had wanted children. While Christina requested books as the two of them sat on Santa's lap, Allison asked only for baby dolls and everything that went with them. Allison's love for children extended into her teenage years and beyond, and while she was happy playing a mommy on TV when she landed a role in a popular soap, "Real-life Mommy" was the only role she ever wanted. Sadly, she never fulfilled her dream. And now, remembering, Christina sobs at Allison's grave, her own two (secretly unwanted) children beside her.
12/31 Direct Link
I'm hesitant to declare a list of resolutions for the new year. "Resolutions" is a scary word, a word that seems to draw failure right to it, at least for me. Instead of resolutions, then, I have hopes for 2011:

*I hope (need) to draw closer to God.

*I hope to find balance in my roles as Mom and Dana.

*I hope to write more and submit. This dream will stay a dream unless I do something.

How I'll realize these hopes is uncertain, but I'm excited to find out.