Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Too Much

I woke to the white light of perfect winter. The house was quiet. Now it is snowing from a gray and blue sky, tiny flakes that fall lazily and will amount to nothing.

I can't sleep at night because I am buzzing with excitement to go to Paris. I'm like a child on Christmas Eve, but the trip is still more than a month away, and this kind of heightened state can't last long, it must collapse eventually into something, or it will ruin me. I whiled away the entire day yesterday plotting routes from the apartment I've rented on airbnb to all the restaurants I want to go to, realizing I don't have the time or the budget to eat EVERYTHING in Paris, though god help me, I will do my best. I will stop talking about it now, because the only bad thing about going to Paris is that people kind of hate you when you tell them about it.

It really is doing the most magical thing outside my window right now, with the sunlight turning to orange and the snow flakes falling so slowly they are almost still in the air, fixed like stars.

Noah was out of town over the weekend. I went to work, and then the girls and I went and hocked Girl Scout Cookies at the brewery. We came home exhausted and late and the girls went to play with their Kindles in their rooms, as they are allowed to do at bedtime on the weekends. It was around ten when Ayla came out of her room crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said her movie was sad. "What are you watching?"

"The Gabby Douglas Story."

I asked her what was sad about it. She told me how Gabby Douglas had had to leave her mother to go train with Coach Chow and how the family didn't have much money, I think--I don't really know, I just know that Ayla was overwhelmed. I wanted to laugh and cry a little bit with her. I asked her if she had finished the movie. She hadn't.

She did this once before with a Thora Birch movie in which, at the end, the girl very nearly loses her pet monkey before the monkey escapes from the bad guys and goes running through a park in L.A. to be reunited with the girl. Ayla turned it off at the part where Thora was crying and the monkey was distressed. It is too much for children, to see animals in distress. With Gabby Douglas, just as with the Thora Birch, I put the movie back on and we watched the end. Alicia Keys sang as a montage of Gabby winning competition after competition played on the screen, sort of hurrying the climax along if you ask me. I had to explain to Ayla at the credits that Gabby had won not only a team medal at the Olympics, but the gold medal for best overall. I wanted Ayla to be giddy with relief over this happy ending, and she was soothed, but I sensed that my cheery "see how everything worked out in the end!" attempts were falling on something deeper and softer within. Either way, I kissed her and put her to bed, and she drifted off, cheeks dry but a million miles away, that girl, buttoned away inside, just like her mother, unknowable to me even though our cells still live inside one another.

It's still snowing so prettily, but nothing will come of it.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It Has Always Been Raining

Yesterday we had big plans but they didn't pan out because we had to take the car in to the shop an you know exactly how all that goes. This time, they gave the car back to us in worse condition than it was in when we entrusted it to their care (Charlie's Tire in Brevard is the place to avoid) and so tomorrow we'll be dealing with the car again and may I add a few hundred dollars shorter.

We did have an awfully fun time eating ribs and playing Cards Against Humanity with some friends, and we did all this late into the evening like Europeans, not like the tired parents we all are. So it wasn't a total wash, even though it has been raining for as long as I can remember and the ground is soggy like food you'd spoon-feed to an invalid.

Tomorrow the girls have to go back to school and I feel like crying for them. They've spent the last two weeks blissed out, playing with new Christmas toys and art supplies, obeying the natural rhythms of their bodies, doing what they want when they want it. Mostly doing it in the house because of the whole Eternity of Rain thing, but still, it's been nice.

And I don't want them to go back because I will have to figure out what to do with myself in their absence. This used to be an easy task, but now it isn't.

I'm reading "Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar" by Dear Sugar who is in fact Cheryl Strayed. It is a gorgeous and wondrous book and the book I needed in my life, right now, this very moment. It's made me cry over and over again in the good way. And it turns out that the quote on the mug above is from Tiny Beautiful Things, from an essay Strayed wrote for a writer who was lost along her way.

I certainly can't write like a motherfucker right now but there's a time for everything.

So there is is, Brittany. This moment in your life. This day beneath the gray-washed sky.

Friday, January 2, 2015

January 2nd

Paris, March 2002

I thought maybe I would microblog, a little bit every day, even though I don't exactly want to. I won't hold myself to it, I don't make resolutions, I don't believe in all of that.

My brain is very sick. When my brain gets sick like this, I can mostly do a good job of pretending to people that it isn't. I can look like I'm home and sound like I'm home, but inside, my brain is in such distress that I can't find myself anywhere. It's like that scene in Home Alone (forgive me) when Kevin fools the robbers into thinking a great party is going on. The lights are on, the music's blasting, there are people moving inside. From the outside everything is normal--lit up, even. But in reality, the inside is empty. There isn't anything good. Anywhere.

So there's your John Hughes/Depression analogy of the day.

Finally I said all of this to Noah, which was incredibly hard, so so hard, but I felt better afterwards. I felt better today. I'll be on Wellbutrin again soon. 

Last night I was doing Yoga With Adriene and she said something about "trauma to the emotional body". That was it, exactly. My entire body felt bruised and sore, like I had been beaten. My brain had been beating me for weeks. 

Let's see.

In March of 2002 I went to Paris with three girlfriends. Travel has always been one of the most important things to me--I used to think it was more important, even, than writing. That was when I was writing but couldn't travel. Now I'm going to travel, but I can't write. Of course, now writing feels utmost, travel second. Of course. In March 2012, despondent that I hadn't been back to Europe in ten years, I made a solemn vow to myself that I would go again by 2022. (I know it is ridiculous to be despondent over not going to Europe) I called my best friend and made her witness to my vow. I assumed I'd be getting my passport stamped somewhere close to midnight on December 31st, 2022. Then, a few weeks back, my husband found himself in a position to buy me a ticket to Paris. Knowing how much Paris means to me, he did. He bought it for me and I'll be staying there for two weeks, by myself. Traveling alone is something I've always wanted to do and I can't believe it's going to happen. You probably can't tell from the tone of this blog but I am thrilled, I'm so excited, I could cry. I have bought lots of clothes in black and white and I am READY.

Okay. That day, the day I made the solemn vow, I still believed in signs, I was hungry for signs. I vowed that one day I would go back to Paris and then I put my tiny daughters in the minivan and got on the highway. A clear blue day, it was March, so I would have been coming out of my depression, or about to. I was wondering if I would really make it, would I ever really go back. A car passed me on the right. Its license plate said, "Oui."

Thursday, January 1, 2015

on new years day I knew two things:

1) I am going to go on wellbutrin again

2) in 70 days, I am flying to paris

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy Thanksliving

Ayla as Princess Mononoke and Indy as Junie B. Jones

Indy has been dreaming that our cat, Whiskey, is turning into a man at night, and that while she sleeps he takes her earrings out of her ears and puts them back in. I am not even going to BEGIN to touch the Freudian implications of that one. At dinner Ayla said that charming anthem of 4th graders everywhere: "whoever smelt it dealt it", to which Indy smartly replied, "Whoever made the rhyme is a bank robber", having mistranslated the usual reply in that swirling, nautilustic brain of hers. I know what you're thinking, but Indy is not a drunk.

While at work yesterday I realized that Thanksgiving is about to happen. I'm feeling melancholy about the holidays this year. Plans to go to Colorado for Christmas (the sound of that so cozy in a 90's sitcom way) fell through, which means we are alone here in Brevard for both of the major winter holidays. As if the holidays weren't already drenched in nostalgia and melancholy enough. I am one of those people who feels sad upon hearing Christmas music chirping in stores or seeing items that aren't normally attached to Christmas dressed up in green and red and carefully arranged in eye-catching displays. A few weeks ago at Barnes and Noble, the sight of Christmas-y tea and shortbread boxes made my heart sink. Not because it was "too soon" or disturbingly capitalistic, I'm long resigned to all that. I don't know exactly why the holidays make me feel low, they just do, and I'm feeling all the lower about spending them here rather than there.

Growing up, my mother always worked frantically to create a beautiful Thanksgiving, and as a teenager I began to implore her to call off all the work, to order Chinese food so that we could just relax together. (It was also as teenagers, I believe, that my sister and I began to call it Thanksliving, not as a paean to 'taking Thanksgiving more into our hearts' but in order to do impressions of drunks) Now as an adult, I'm perfectly happy to order take-out, but of course my daughters want the full traditional spread. So last night, Noah and Ayla and I stood in the kitchen and made a list (Indy was off somewhere hallucinating) and sometime this weekend I will shop for turkey and cranberries, either in the dead of night or by the first rays of dawn, like some poor translation of a pagan ritual, designed now in modernity not to appease the fitful gods but to avoid the wealthy retirees, who in Brevard are legion. I don't like Thanksliving food, any of it, except this horrendously wonderful, uh, thing, from Noah's side of the family that involves beating Velveeta with sugar, slabbing it on top of apple pie filling, and pouring condensed milk over the whole affair. It is nothing short of an abomination, which pleases me like Krampus does during this saccharine, canned-joy time.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I Know What I Mean Sometimes

Three easy peasy hairstyles
that I like to keep in my aresenal
are 1) the I Am Become Life-Giver, and
2) The Real Creator of Worlds.

Last night was awful. How can a school sponsored lasagna dinner followed by a book fair possibly be awful? you are wondering. But you are wrong. They can be the worst, when your kid decides to bank on you not wanting to make a scene in front of the whole town and accuses you of stealing money from her in the middle of the school library while using a tone. I know I shouldn't take this personally, but I did. Why does my kid think I'd steal ten bucks from her? Ayla has also recently challenged me by starting the Harry Potter series with the second book. She just skipped The Sorcerer's Stone and went straight to The Chamber of Secrets. I had believed that because I'm ambivalent about world religions, nothing she could do could trouble me on a deep existential level, but boy was I wrong. "We wanted strong women. We got them," a friend says at work. Ayla was born to challenge me. But no, of course this isn't true. In one sense, Ayla was born for her own purpose. In another sense, nobody was born for any purpose at all. This is a deep philosophical question not to be posed in school cafeterias on Thursday nights. Its a choose-your-own-adventure sort of question, one you can only answer for yourself. Christians and Oprahns seem most likely to believe we were born for a reason. I have been both. I still don't know.

When I go on Facebook I feel like opening a vein and turning it into performance art, something that might take my life but would also stop just one person from going on Facebook, thus creating a butterfly effect to save our world. The true hero of our times will be the hacker who destroys The Social Network completely and forever. Have you noticed that the world is falling apart on Facebook, but it's okay if you look right outside your window? As long as you stay away from lasagna dinners? Sometimes I go online and I fight with pixels. Sometimes I am enraged by ether. If I wrote a modern fairy tale today, the hero would be that hacker and the villains would be the comments section on Buzzfeed. Why are they so angry at people for being people? Why can't they understand that every generation thought something was really bad about their time, which means that nothing has ever been so bad as we thought, after all. (Except for Facebook.) If you want to be my bae, it's okay. If you go to Starbucks wearing your Uggs, I won't be mad at you for taking pictures of the red cup. Or of yourself in a mirror. Even yourself with the red cup in a mirror. These are the times we live in. I don't want to go back to some selfie-less past, before we were all totes adorable. I want to go to the future, where, if the earth is still here, we will all be more evolved. And the men will be like, "Remember when all the girls took with their iPhones were selfies, and not the essences of our souls?" They will still be policing us, but we won't care anymore. And the women will all say "tee ay, tee ay tee ay". And the old men will be like, "Remember when women were still totes adorbs?" What I mean is that we have to leave each other alone. We have to just let each other live.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ghosts of Halloween Past

I'm feeling draped in nostalgia and ennui this Halloween. What better way to nurse said feelings than a waltz down Snapfish lane. 

2006. Indy's first Halloween. Ayla still had that beloved curly hair. I dressed the girls up and toted them out to Starbucks while Noah was at work that day, before trick-or-treating began. I was so proud to show them off. Of course, those stay-at-home-mom days were often lonely, monotonous, and exhausting. Of course I longed for them fiercely today, sending my girls off to school. One last thing, I have adult acne, and it cleared up during both of my pregnancies. Indy was born in August, and I was obviously still awash in those hormones here in October. I can't believe how good my skin looks. It hasn't looked that great since. Adult acne sucks. A lot.

In 2007 we trick-or-treated on Old South Gaylord St, a street of botiques and coffee shops in the middle of the now very incredibly posh (in a fairytale sort of way) Wash Park neighborhood in Denver. When I was little, my parents rented a house a block away from Old South Gaylord and would sometimes walk to Video Vantage for video tapes and free popcorn. Video Vantage gone now. It's an incredibly gorgeous neighborhood with vines climbing up brick and stone houses, curling brick walkways, white picket and wrought iron fences, and rooftops laid to roll like the sea. Also there was a party at my sister's house where my dad dressed up like a Beaver Man and scared the crap out of the kids, really.

2008, the year we had a membership to the Denver Zoo and did the Boo at the Zoo thing. Also the year my dad and I flew to NYC on Halloween, flew home on the day Obama was elected, and the year princess culture had a firm hold on both my girls.


This was the year we moved on Halloween. Into Noah's mom's house. And it snowed. We were moving so that Noah could take a job on the packaging line at Oskar Blues for $9/hr. We were hoping he'd move up and it would pay off, eventually. It did. I love the top picture. Miles and miles of soft babyish skin.

2010: WOW YOU ARE STILL HERE? The pumpkin fest year. Everyone was mad at me for taking pictures this day. I included the group shot because you can tell from it how we were all snipping at each other. Still in the thick of the princess days.

2011: A banner year. Ayla escapes the clutches of princess culture, learns to cross dress. We walk in a children's parade and throw candy at people. We acquire a pumpkin, the size of which is enough to keep me up at night, dreaming dreams.

2012: I take some really great pictures. Seriously I love these pictures.  I objected to the costume Indy picked at Target. It was this tween fashion fantasy of Red Riding Hood or, I don't even know.  Looking now, I see there's nothing actually wrong with it. What really bothered me were the extremely elongated limbs, stretched like silly putty about to split, on the Monster High figurines, Monster High being the monstrosity Indy's costume is from. But Noah was like, it's fashionable, she's into fashion. Let her rock it. And she did. I'm kind of scared of her.

2013: I know, right? Ayla dresses as Samara from The Ring, clips from which she has watched on youtube without our knowledge. She did her own makeup and really gets into character. Indy finally dresses like Red Riding Hood, Classic Version, which I'd been angling for for years. Princess culture might be gone for good. (It's no big deal. They grow out of it, you know.) For some reason, all my pictures of this year are missing from Snapfish, and all that remain are the ones I posted to Instagram. Thank god for Instagram.

2014: Indy decided to be a black cat. Ayla deliberated for weeks between Vampire Queen, Minecraft Guy and Link from the Legend of Zelda, before finally settling on Darth Vader. Tonight we'll eat some hot dogs at the brewery before heading out to trick-or-treat. It's going to be cold and maybe wet.

Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Time of Red Leaves

It was a morning. I woke up 40 minutes late and when we finally got into the car for school, the tire was flat. Noah's out of town until this afternoon, and as we were late, my friends had already made their drop-off runs, so we set off on foot. It was deeply foggy, as most mornings are here. I wish I had a really nice camera, so that I could capture the world closer to the way it actually appears to the eye. But I have my iphone and make do. The walk was really beautiful, despite the fact that the mist made it cold and wet and we were all under-dressed. The novelty of it all put the girls in high spirits. It really is a pretty little town.

This last one is of the sky when I was walking home and the fog was starting to clear. I was just beneath the liminal space where the heavens were shifting from gray to blue. A post on tumblr has me thinking of liminal spaces, lately. A transitional stage of a process, a boundary, a threshold. The tumblr post talked about highway rest stops as liminal spaces between this world and a fairyland, a place where the edges are rubbed thin. Where a person might shift from one world to the next. I think I am living in a liminal space. The world seems incredibly brilliant, but constantly shifting. A threshold is created in the tension between the tender beauty of autumn here, and my deep longing for  the startling beauty of Colorado, for my home. I am contemplating doing the thing I want to do more than anything else in the world, and entertaining this possibility has opened up another plane entirely. The veils have shifted, there is an enchanted island in the reachable distance. Standing in this threshold has bewitched my skin into an organ of mist so that I am easily pierced by sorrow and joy. They feel like the same thing. All my boundaries are thin and anything might enter and settle into my soft spaces. I'm sorry for being so abstract. A concrete way to explain it is this: an ancient couple walked by with their backs bent at identical angles like trees giving under the same constant wind and it was so beautiful it made me want to cry.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

This Morning

The phone rang a fairy tune when I was still deep in a dream. 5:30 am. Not time to wake up yet. The call was coming in from Washington D.C. I don't know anybody in Washington D.C. I thumbed at it until the chiming stopped. My eyes hurt. As I started to fall back asleep the door pushed open. Ayla came into the room. It was storming out and she was afraid of the sounds the rain was making as it whipped the leaves and the leaves all wet and whipping each other and the occasional car on the road with its wet hiss like a tongue or a roar. She climbed into bed with me. Five days ago she turned ten years old and her body began to change overnight. A shape-shifter in my bed. We fell back asleep.

When the alarm went off it was of course still dark. I could hear that it was raining hard. Ayla hot next to me, her body curled around all her secret inner treasures like a dragon with her hoard. I stood up and outside the window were the branches, dark against the sky. Black on black. Tossing restless and troubled, like angry things disturbed from sleep. I didn't want to be awake. The sight was magic, but I turned away. When I stepped out of the shower, the girls were up and my husband was up and the first thing I told him was that there was a vaccine now for Ebloa that is one-hundred percent effective on rats. It was still raining outside but all the lights were on and the girls were at their ipods. I made them lunches, nearly everything was orange. Pumpkin bagels, Ritz crackers, fresh mandarins, pumpkin pita crisps, brie cheese. I was out of lunch snacks. Nothing had been done the night before. Exhausted I had stayed in bed and Noah had brought me four fresh oysters pulled from the Atlantic by a friend. Everything was rowdy and hectic. Then they were out the door with their father and the house was mine again. In a little while I'll go to work. Right now it's raining sideways with a ferocious vim. Gushing in waves, the sound of the sea. I can hear the traffic but its lost the essence of beasts and tongues. It doesn't sound like much and I can't say why, but last night as I fell asleep I thought, I love my life, I love my life. I haven't said that in a very long time. I don't know if I ever have before.

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