Day 11: List 10 people who have influenced you and how.

  1. My mother. She raised me to be fiercely independent, terrifyingly brave and painfully sensitive. It’s a different thing to be an outspoken woman who accumulates new skills instead of searching for a husband to do the dirty work. She taught me to be that lady and it has saved my life, daily. My mother would laugh if I told her I couldn’t do something, then she’d come over and we’d learn how to do it together. Defeat isn’t a place we unpack our bags and stay- and I learned that from watching her fight her way out of some scary situations. I’m very proud to be her daughter.
  2. My father. He gave me some of the hardest lessons by his lack of effort. Yes, he also burdened me with some awful daddy issues, but I learned a lot of resilience in not ever being able to count on him or look to him for guidance. I have a gay dad I wouldn’t have had, and he taught me to paint and cross country ski. I had a stepdad who gave me a laundry list of fantastic daddy issues (hello chef fetish and my deep love for boys who can keep up with me in the kitchen) and who was there to scare off boys when I was a sassy teenager with too much sex appeal.
  3. Father Day. I’m a closet Catholic and it was only when my eldest two children were small that I really let myself explore my faith. I attended mass regularly and helped teach CCD. I fell in love with being a good wife and mother, something that felt celebrated every Sunday when I got to see my dear friend Dennis. He navigated my extreme Pro-choice beliefs, caught pinkeye with me when I was going through my first communion classes at 8 months pregnant, and held my hands and cried with me when my son was born blind in one eye. I know what it feels like to be wrapped in the comforting arms of faith and I know it because of Father Day. That has brought me so much peace.
  4. Ms. Billie Joe Biddle. This one hurts deeply as she just passed away from cancer. Ms. Biddle was my Junior High English teacher and she taught me how to write. She gave me a deep and abiding love for a thesaurus and gave my papers back when she knew I wasn’t making an effort. She introduced me to books she loved and stories that held special significance. She loved bubbles as much as I do now and always sparkled the brightest amongst her tribe of charitable Angels. She gave me the tools to find the words to express how devastating the loss of her, is… and I will be forever in her debt.
  5. My children’s fathers. I have two. The first was my best friend ever, and we grew up together while trying to play house and raise babies. We were way too young and still we made a really happy home. I’m happy for both of us that we found love beyond what we had, but he will always be one of the most special people in the world to me. He was there for me in ways nobody has been before or since. Years after we divorced, when my beloved dog died, I called him and he came immediately. He’s been an incredible father to our children and I am forever grateful to him. The second was absolutely the nicest man I’ve ever dated. He’s also the best father I could imagine. He lives and works out of state, but stays present on the phone, visits when he can and is 100% in my corner at all times. He’s loving and nurturing with our baby, he’s respectful and generous to me and he communicates kindly with me. We are incredible coparents under some difficult circumstances to navigate and I’m eternally grateful to him. I chose incredible fathers for my children, if nothing else.
  6. My Fancy Best. I’ve had close friends in my life before but not like her. She makes sense out of my chaos and she knows me better than I know myself. I was flailing and crying about the same old Favorite guy at lunch last week and she stopped me dead in my tracks. F- Well from now on you have to look at him like he has herps, crabs and gangrene.J- Gangrene of the penis?

    F- Don’t forget the herps and crabs. No more oops I did it again.

    She has a way of saving my whole world from imploding. I can text her and the next thing I know I’m sitting across from her, laughing over some bubbles and the reminder that I must be doing something right if she’s my best friend. She makes my life worth living in the most devastating moments and I can get through anything with her on my side.

  7. My children. The eldest has taught me basically everything, along with some fun stuff I learned with him when he was a small, inquisitive boy. I miss him desperately and pray he comes back some day. My eldest daughter is my heart and my ride or die best friend. She’s been by my side through some pretty intense shit (hello homebirth, thank you for the endless birth control you hath provide) and is always willing to roll up her sleeves and do life with me as my copilot. My little Dumpling is the tiny love of my life. She’s a Cancer, like me… and is snuggly and loving in ways I can’t even describe. She leaves me little pictures she’s drawn of us, shares everything with anyone, effortlessly… and is the sweetest kid you’ve ever met, with the quick wit and hilarity of a stand up comedienne. She’s pure delight and I thank all my lucky stars that she’s my little partner.
  8. My brother Zachary. I didn’t have a relationship with my dad but he gave me my brother. We look a lot alike, in fact we are very similar and he makes me feel like I have family from that side of my gene pool. When I’m hanging out with my brother, I feel like I’m at home, wherever that is. Life gets busy and time gets away from me, making it harder to keep in touch as much as I’d like, but I know if I call, he’ll answer… and we’ll laugh… and he’ll make me feel that same connected way that he always does.
  9. My sisters. I have 7 but each one holds a special place in my heart that nobody else could fill. They’re an ambitious, beautiful, smart, funny, talented, and incredible bunch and I would be lost without them. I don’t know how anyone gets through life without a sister and I feel so blessed to have so many. I realize I’m sneaking 7 people in for the price of one on this, but I can’t leave any one of them out.
  10. I feel like a narcissist for this, but I have to add myself to this list. I love learning the hard way and have made too many ridiculous choices to count. I fall in love with the potential in a man, not the reality and I’ve learned some really awful shit as a result of that bad habit. I’ve grown up a lot in the last year and feel more grounded than ever. Hoarding stupid shit that stressed me out has been a wonderful habit to break, and the clearing surfaces have taught me that I’ve found more peace in letting clutter go than in potentially losing something special. Picking myself up, dusting myself off and getting my shit together has been awful at times, but I’m damn proud to have come through the worst of times and found blue sky on the other side. At the end of the day, you really only have yourself to rely on and your own influence is the one that matters most of all.

 


Day 10: If you could rid the world of 10 things, what would they be?

  1. Donald Shitty Ass Trump. You’re welcome, humanity. I’d use all ten of my wishes if I could just have this one. If you’re a Trump supporter I take it as a compliment if you unsubscribe. I don’t care who’s offended anymore, the man is an upwardly mobile genital wart and no amount of spin can convince someone otherwise unless they’re a mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, Fox News fan.
  2. Homework. My child and I spend 40 hours a week working and in school/daycare. We are fucking exhausted. The last thing we want to see at 5:30 is some godforsaken common core math, a half dozen books neither of us want to read or listen to again, or worse… a creative project. I’m sorry to be so blatantly honest about it, but for the love of GOD, get that shit done during the school day or kick a fat rock. I work my ass off and her father and I pay a blistering amount of taxes each year. We expect to not have to teach our child in exchange for those taxes… and I’m not ashamed to say it. My Dumpling is in first grade and comes home with 2-4 pages a night. Do we do them? Sometimes. If there’s even a slight meltdown, I toss the damn homework folder back in the backpack and we move along in peace and tranquility, not having lost a second of peace over another stupid math worksheet.
  3. Property Tax. I should not be penalized for my neighbors around me choosing to sell off all of their land. I should not worry about losing my home because I owe more tax as a result of a subdivision. Those assholes are luring the deer to my garden with salt licks in their manicured backyards and I don’t feel like paying more for that.
  4. Cancer. I lost my grandma to cancer and it’s safe to say everyone knows someone affected in some way. My friends made a calendar to raise money for cancer this year and raised almost $20,000. If you don’t have one yet, you need one. Mine hangs in my office, right beside the handsome Mr. March. I have a dear friend battling stage 4 cancer right now and it is terrifying to watch insurance companies delay treatment because of profit, not potential.
  5. Shitty men. Fuckboys, Stalkers and Lunatics. They’re all bad in their own way. Either you’re hunting, hiding or crazy as a result of being driven there… none of which is worth sacrificing the peace of your single life, for.
  6. Hunger. We are the wealthiest country in the world and we have children going to bed tonight without eating. I’m ok paying a painful amount of taxes I can’t afford, but I want the priority going towards the hungry kids and not the career politician. If we can feed inmates lunch for free, we need to feed hungry school children as well. I recently saw at the bottom of my daughter’s hot lunch menu for the month:¬† * Children with accounts $6 or more in arrears will be given an emergency lunch consisting of a cheese stick, piece of fruit and milk. I can’t even fathom being an adult that could live with myself for handing a little kid that bullshit excuse for a lunch. I would go broke working in the cafeteria and have decided as a family that if we’re going to make any financial donations this year, it will be to the lunch lady for kids with outstanding balances.
  7. Mice. Yes, I’m aware they’re part of the food chain and something else would starve. Oh fucking well. Evolution says they’ll just find someone else to eat, and I’m ok with any of the small vermin of the world becoming a more popular snack. Oh to never see a mouse again… would be SO great!
  8. War. It’s all pointless, nobody wins anything and thousands of people lose their lives for what? Nothing. Bring them all home.
  9. Pedophiles. There’s no place in the world for men and women who make sex a painful, horrific nightmare, especially for children. Dip them all head first in boiling oil. It will deter the rest and make quick work of a foul waste of resources.
  10. Organized religion. No more church. No more tithing. No more tax shelter for creepy old white men who prey on people’s deepest fears. Nope. Enjoy your previously destroyed Sunday at home with your family, tending to the real needs in your life and not being guilted into shit you don’t want to do, can’t afford and wouldn’t do otherwise. Religious zealots cause more war, suffering and oppression than any other hate group.

That’s a damn tough job to narrow it down to 10. What are yours?


Day 9: What are 5 passions you have?

  1. Truth. I don’t like grey area and I don’t like games. If you want to know how I feel, ask. I’ll tell you. Lying pisses me off more than anything and liars are weeded out of my life like the dandelions in my garden. I have a lot of patience, but I don’t fuck around with lies. Hurt me with the miserable truth and I’ll love and respect you forever, but lie and you’re dead to me.
  2. Knitting. It’s a guilty pleasure because I rarely have the time to turn my yarn into anything but silky soft loops of therapeutic peace on my needles. I have half a toy elephant dress finished and my baby nieces are growing at the speed of light. My Dumpling had to go with her daddy last month and it always makes her a little anxious at first. I knit her a bunny with a tiny heart on it’s chest that we spray with my perfume when she has to go. It’s a snuggly soft reminder that home is just a state of mind, a smell or a person. The bunny goes a long way towards making her feel right at home, right away… with her dad. Knitting is magic at your fingertips, all you need are a few sticks and some string.
  3. Writing. In the last year I’ve written three times as much as before, with most of it private or contracted. The work I’ve turned in professionally has earned me more financially this year as well. That’s not what has stuck with me though. I find it so much more satisfying that I wrote my own self out of feeling like warm trash this year. In yelling at the world through a keyboard, I taught myself to let shit go and move on. I love the entertainment of it all, but the therapy of it all is why I began writing in the first place. Sorry to all of you along for this crazy ride, and thank you for your shared perspective.
  4. Love. I love out loud in ways that make me painfully uncomfortable on occasion. I still wouldn’t have it any other way. I smile at strangers, I help people who are grumpy… it’s just who I am. It comes from my adorably sweet grandma Elaine and my equally spicy red-headed firecracker Grandma Afton, both of whom taught me to love the whole world and everything in it, to my toes. Sure, sometimes it ends badly and I end up hurt again… but at the end of the day, purely because I refused to give up, I like to believe my life will have been full of more love than I knew what to do with because I never let fear stop me from having faith.
  5. Gardening. My beautiful obsession with the dirt has gotten me through things I never thought I would survive. Losing my son, my house going through foreclosure (twice), an epic water leak in the yard, countless cheating boyfriends, 5 years of celibacy, having a baby alone from birth, poverty, depression, etc… You name it, I’ve coped with everything by putting on a headlamp and pulling weeds into the wee hours of the morning. Some of the worst and most insurmountable pain can be soothed by digging potatoes and beets. Some of my greatest heartache has only been kept company by tomato plants in need of staking, peppers in need of picking and long, quiet rows waiting for a fresh blanket of straw. When I’m at my breaking point and in desperate need of a reminder to keep myself grounded… I take my shoes off and stick my bare feet in the dirt.

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What are you passionate about?

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Day 8: What is your dream job?

2016

To be a financially successful farmer.

I really hate leaving the house, if the truth be told. I’d be blissfully happy to work from home and avoid people even more than I already do. I work in a small group that I manage so it’s essentially my way or the highway in my life, with the exception of my garden.

I love the messy wetness of it all. The dirty organization that makes the stress of my life, melt away. I like a headlamp and mosquito repellent far more than perfume and diamonds and much prefer a night under the stars than in a bar.

It just isn’t lucrative. At ALL. When I calculate the cost of canning jars, lids, and time spent … I could have saved money buying all the same things from the crunchy hippie store down the street from me.

Peace is priceless though, and I dread going into a summer I know I’m not going to plant a garden. I have new houses all around me who are full of tourists turned residents. They buy salt licks to lure the deer to their backyards, which happen to neighbor my garden fence. My fence has been defeated and it’s a year of rebuilding the garden in a new place much further away from the salt licks and foot traffic.

Heirloom tomatoes are my favorite and I have a few new varieties to grow this year, along with my old favorites: Black Krim, Thornburn’s Terra Cotta, Jaune Flamme, Jersey Devil, Brandywine, Aunt Ruby’s German Green and an odd cherry tomato here and there along with a tomatillo or two.

Once you’ve picked a warm, ripe tomato from a plant you’ve been nurturing since February… you taste life differently.

Ohhhh how I wish I could earn a living growing them. I’d quit my job tomorrow.

Mmmm


Day 7: What is the hardest thing you’ve ever experienced?

I’ve been dreading this prompt since I got the list of questions. I think how you interpret what’s difficult, determines what comes to mind when you consider the hardest thing EVER. I knew from the moment I read the list of prompts for this 30 days of oversharing, what my answer would be.

I lost my best friend to suicide in November. His mother lives in the south and his husband was out of town the night he hung himself. He left a note with my number as his next of kin. His marriage was on the rocks, his husband was cheating… and he had just driven me home after an endoscopy that I didn’t want to tell anyone about. We had joked about being each other’s emergency contact after he got mad at me for thinking I was going to be able to drive myself home from an invasive medical procedure.

In the grand scheme of things, I can understand that I was the obvious choice and as much as those moments are burned into my heart, I have found some small comfort that he knew I would be there for him in the last, worst moments.

I was notified first and lost my mind. I called my favorite man and broke into a million pieces as he talked me out of an emotional breakdown. He comforted me while I fought off the unimaginable details I had left to handle. I didn’t want to be left holding my own hands, walking through the worst hell I never imagined, but there was simply no other choice. I think part of me wanted him to tell me I didn’t have to do any of the next, worst things, but he didn’t. He told me I had to do all of it, and that he knew I could and would help me in any way I needed. I will love him forever for carrying me that night, when I had no choice but to get up and face the horror of it all and did not know how.

I had to call and tell Anthony’s mother that he was gone. Singularly the worst phone call I’ve ever had to make. Motherhood is a bond that connects us all as family when a child dies. He wasn’t a child anymore, but when you’re a mama they don’t ever stop being your baby.

The night that followed was one I wish I could forget. The day after was even worse.

His death was unattended and I drove his husband to identify and see his body. Waiting for them to take us back, I knew that the worst moment in my life was unfolding and no amount of tears and grief could stop it. I prayed there was a stranger under that sheet and the whole thing was just an enormous mistake.

It wasn’t.

He was silent, cold and unmoving. I put my hand on his chest and was devastated by the overnight change in a body I was so familiar with hugging me warmly. I’m still having dreams about how horrifying it was to feel him so cold and hard. His husband ripped the sheet off and there were signs of trauma I wish neither of us saw. It was the stuff nightmares are made of, and I still can’t believe some of the things we all managed to survive that day.

I did not attend his funeral as he was flown home and buried in his family plot. Something about seeing him go into the ground was more than I could bear, but I think if I hadn’t seen him with my own eyes, I may have spent a lifetime pretending he were on a long vacation, just out of service… just gone for a while.

Suicide is devastatingly permanent. If you’re feeling like harming yourself please consider the people around you that will carry the weight of not being able to help you, forever. Reach out. Call anyone. See a therapist. Please….do it for your mother, your best friend and yourself.¬†Depression can be debilitating and isolating to the point you forget how to ask, but suicide doesn’t solve any of those problems, it just eliminates the chance of anything ever getting better.

He’s resting in peace, heckling the angels and flirting with Saint Peter. I know heaven got a lot brighter the day the world got a lot darker for the rest of us, but I’d give anything to have him back.

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