My Daughter and Her Nipples
Falling Back Together
This is my daughter; and those are her nipples.
In fairness, let me give you a minute to process that.
Yup. My daughter.
Yup. Her nipples.
I’ll just wait here quietly while you rant, drool, hurl, or whatever other judging and/or inappropriate response you wish to express.
Okay. Finished now? Because time’s up. Let’s get real.
Listen To Your Mother
“I had no idea you were such a baseball fan!”
This is what people often say when they hear about my quest to see a baseball game in every one of the 30 stadiums across North America.
“No. Not really.” is my response.
Plain and simple.
Listen To Your Mother is a series of staged readings about motherhood done in 41 cities across the United States and Canada in the weeks before Mother’s Day each year.
Local writers in each of these cities write short pieces about motherhood and then audition for the opportunity to be cast. My writing was one of only 13 chosen for Rochester, New York, for the 2016 season.
The Rochester topics this year varied: funny stories of mothers who were bold characters in this world, the acceptance required to raise a transgender child, the raw pain of post-partum depression, parenting a tween as she finds her way and you lose your own, cultural definitions of motherhood, coming to terms with your own mother’s death when you know she will never meet your unborn child, the day-to-day insecurities we all feel about the little things and whether or not we are ‘good enough’, choosing non-traditional paths in life, and so many more.
My Own Silence Offends Me
Yesterday I stood and spoke in a room that swallowed my voice. Not in the “I am going to snuff you” way to which I have become so accustomed in this life. But rather in a way that felt like “more”.
A soul whisper.
Hoarse from longing.
My friend is a racist. A blatant, outspoken, over-the-top racist. And the list of infractions is long. But, I haven’t called him out on any of it yet.
So far, I have simply observed while he makes sweeping statements on his website, in his blog, and in person about the social intelligence and violent tendencies of others based solely on their skin color. Or posts racial jokes. Or links to purchase T-Shirts that offend people of other ethnic backgrounds. I know that you are probably thinking that I’m incredibly irresponsible for this.
I let him do this because it seems too hard to confront him right now about this racial intolerance and bigotry. Any attempt would result in outbursts and a veritable uprising amongst his equally bigoted friends. My own choice thus far makes me sick to my stomach but I haven’t seen many options under the circumstances. So, I distance myself and avoid the conversation. Nothing gets better. In fact, my silence makes it worse. I know this.
Walking With No Feet
Gentle men are like unicorns.
Elusive. Solitary. Almost impossible to find.
A gentle man listens carefully but has an opinion of his own. He nudges the status quo and encourages his partner to do the same. He is considerate and expresses appropriate gratitude when warranted. He takes notice. He makes eye contact when you are talking to him and hugs you when you need it. He is not selfish or arrogant or childish (hence…the word “man”). He communicates his needs and understands the needs of others. He views you as a priority. He is also human and makes mistakes but apologizes, learns from them and grows. The sight of you smiling makes him grin at the thought that you are feeling joy. He never takes advantage of you for personal gain – physically or otherwise. He lays his hand gently on your low back but doesn’t run it over your ass in public. And if he runs it over your ass in private it is only with care and with your permission. He is a considerate lover who wants to connect with you, not just fuck you. He tells you when you are beautiful and has the courage to tell you when your behavior is ugly as well. He is loving and fair and wise.
The Parent Trap
While sitting with some wonderful people and talking about relationships a beautiful young woman next to me tearfully wailed “how am I supposed to walk if I have no feet?” This powerful statement was in reference to the gaps her parents left in teaching her how to communicate, feel, be present and open, etc. She felt literally stuck in her life circumstances and unable to move forward because she perceived she was lacking the proper tools. In this case, feet.
This statement has been weighing on me ever since; along with the pain she exuded as she made it. I know that pain all too well. I would hazard to guess that most of us have felt it at least for a small moment along the way. It’s excruciating.
But I can say from my personal experience and from watching those around me and listening to their stories that there is always something we can do.
I write about difficult things all of the time. And I’m told by many that, while my experience is entirely different than theirs, the fact that I fearlessly share my struggle with such honesty is helpful. So, I am going to do that again here.
In 2006, I left a marriage that was literally killing my body and spirit. I was advised by health care professionals and counselors at the time that, if I did not leave, I would not survive. And a few months prior to leaving and reclaiming my life I had the unenviable responsibility of telling my young children (then ages 11, 9, 7 and 7) that their father and I were divorcing.
The Beauty of Ashland
Tattooing is spiritual. Sometimes representing a transformation in our lives or an acknowledgment of our connectedness. I have only one tattoo but it is vital to me. I recently placed it on my left rib cage near my heart to guide me on my journey forward.
The idea behind my particular design has been tugging at me for a decade. When I first visited Ashland, Oregon in 2010 I knew that this would be the place where I would have it done; and upon meeting the artist I knew instantly that it would be he that did the work. Despite all of this the timing still wasn’t right. I had much to discover about myself before I would be ready.
Not a Word
I do not know how to describe this place to honor it properly. Or how to ever repay it for the kindness and healing it has shown me. But, I will do my best with my simple words so that, even for one second, you can ‘feel’ it, too.
Peace flags faded from sunlight hang askew from porch dormers. And the uneven steps prop bright colored pots full of chive, dianthus and chamomile which people pluck directly to season their meals; even the restaurants. Every porch is inviting with a swing and creations by local artisans crafted from metal and retimbered wood; punctuated with mosaic bird baths and resident blue jays who live out loud.
Pollen gardens invite me to lie in the grass in the shade of the nearby Redwoods and the bees are more interested in the flowers than in me so I just listen to the buzz of their wings; to the buzz of real living happening all around me.
They were lovely. The letters, that is. Actually, more so the words themselves. Or perhaps what lived inside of those words which was truth.
Those words and their precious cargo arrived at first with trepidation in short staccato sentences. Clumsy. Nervous. If they had palms they would have been sweaty.
But, over time they blossomed. Rotund in fact. Plump and full of candor; with a heartbeat and a pulse. Completely naked and sweaty everywhere as we would soon be ourselves.
Our words danced.
“I can’t make those two realities – what I’ve lost and what I’ve found – fit together in some tidy pattern of divine causality. I just have to hold them on the one hand and on the other, just like that”