Friday, December 31, 2010

Take A Cup of Kindness


I wanted to say

that I don't make resolutions

even though I'm fond of making

vast, grandiose statements about myself

especially here on my blog.

It feels so good to be certain of something, if only for a moment.

So, sweeping statements of me and all the great

things I'm going to do this year keep

bucking about in my head.

But underneath them I can hear the truth.

And it is this:

The only thing I need to aim at

is kindness toward myself

and others.

To love myself.

To cradle myself with compassion.

To not wage war against myself with

unkind thoughts. Ugly thoughts.

With guilt or shame.

To not wage war by trying to be anything that I'm not.

I hope to one day aim

to extend such compassion and peace to others.

But I'm imperfect, see, and I'm going to try

to make peace with myself first.

I believe that thing I said once

about the ripples.

What you send out, I feel

and what I send out

bears weight.

If we all could just

be-love ourselves

we might together send peaceful waves

into a warm and

enveloping ocean.

Be loved.

Be love.

And that cup of kindness, we'll take it yet.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Where Is My Razzmatazz?


In six months the stars are going to align and one great and terrible celestial event is going to occur.

I am going to turn 30.

I've been feeling pretty sanguine about it these last few years because one time I read (I think it was in US Weekly or maybe In Touch, you know the one that's 99 cents at the Walgreens) that in your 30's you feel more comfortable in your skin and you stop caring about what other people think. I latched on to that comment made by Ms. Barrymore or maybe Ms. Jolie (but hey, at least I'm not quoting Oprah or the white devil Sue Monk Kidd, right?) and I've been cradling it alone in my bed all these dark nights as the earth dies and so does my youth and 30 grows nearer from it's loom-spot on the horizon like an evil spitting orc army from which there is no escape.

The unfortunate truth, however, is that now, at almost exactly 29.5, I feel less secure than ever. I feel down right neurotic. I think I may actually have had more self-confidence at the age of 16 than I do right now.

Which actually makes sense, when you think about it. Most of us have had it pretty easy all our lives when we're 16. We're too young to be bitter, or failed, or feel old or crusty. We're trying so hard to fit in that we have yet to notice all the ways in which we don't. And we were told, us cozy little 80's Reganomic babies, that the world was ours. We had no reason to know any different. Not yet. Not then.

So instead of sinking into myself all zen-like and content, like I am a cat and my personality is a sunspot on the rug that I have now earned the right to luxuriate in permanently, I'm spending a lot of time fretting. About how I come off. About what other people think. About other's opinions of me. And it's sucking up my power. (The power of now, the power of my zen, of my true self, my north star, the holy spirit within me, however the hell you want to put it, cowgirl, it's all the same to me. Feel free to believe differently). It's sucking out all my ambitions and my ability to take confident steps in any direction. Basically I huddle shivering in a corner with this sick pit in my belly. I bite my nails. I laugh nervously. I feel homely and unattractive. And I can't muster up the vim, the ovaries, the Razzmatazz, if you will (I will if you won't), to do anything about it. To save myself from this absolute failure of. . . of myself.

But then--there's something in you, you know? That keeps kicking when you're down, that chatters away at all the unruly edges of your soul, the untended garden, the place where the bracken and bramble has taken hold. That little voice, that still small voice (oh don't get your knickers in a twist, it's just a phrase, as far as I know the Mormons haven't copy-righted it). The rest of me is catatonically picking out my eyebrows but that little voice keeps chirping in and saying, and you'll pardon my French: Who the hell cares? Who the hell cares? Who the hell cares??

I don't know if this is a good thing or not. The voice, well, it's a lot like the voice of this here blog post--a little angry, a bit abrasive, undeniably defensive; it's having trouble finding much humor in it all. I don't know if it's going to mellow out into that Sun Spot in my soul and leave me all content and 30-ish and you know--Grown Up. If it's going to help me find my Pluck again--or if it's going to ice over and grow a crust 'top of that and in three or four years I'm going to be walking around unshowered and launching in to angry diatribes at perfectly lovely cocktail parties, because it's just desperate to prove WHO THE HELL CARES.

I hope the voice of this post does not offend. I just feel rubbed a little raw.

I am Vesuvius and I am not in your way. No need to push me again.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Best Books of 2010

Here's the deal: These are the best books I read in 2010, not the best books published in 2010. I feel like I didn't read much this year, but the truth is I just didn't read much that was very good. There are only a few knock-your-socks-off books out there, you know? Whenever I hand people a copy of Time Traveler's Wife or The Book Thief or The Road, I warn them: I will not be able to recommend you other books as good as these. Because there just aren't any. Many.

Full disclosure: I may or may not have actually read these books in 2010.

In no particular order:

PhotobucketThe Reapers Are the Angels, Alden Bell.

This title just wormed its way into my brain and wouldn't leave. I was right ticked that someone else had come up with this beautiful, haunting phrase and not me. I wanted to write a book just to fit this title. Then one night I was reading about angels on wikipedia. And I clicked on a link to a parable. And it turns out, Alden Bell didn't coin this phrase. Jesus did. So at least I don't have to feel too bad for not being as good as, you know. Jesus.

If Cormac McCarthy and Joss Wedon teamed up to write a book about zombies, this would be that book. I'm always up for a good yarn about an apocalypse.

You know you are a Joss Whedon fan when: You refer to it as AN apocalypse, not THE apocalypse.

The Book Thief, Mark Zusak


Another book that found me. Death observes humanity during the terrors of World War II. Observes us with deep tenderness and awe. Liesel restores your faith in humanity. Papa was like an accordion. This book might change you.

The Jacqueline Carey Kushiel Novels. Photobucket

I loved them. I don't recommend them to most of you who read this blog. They are very sensual. The first fantasy I have ever read that was written directly for the female eye, if you get my drift. Phedre kicks ass and takes names. Joscelin (a dude with an unfortunate moniker) challenges Waldemar Skelig to the holmgang and I had one of my 'spells'.

(If you read these books, and enjoy them, you're going to be too embarrassed to ask for more like them. Anne Bishop is the closest thing I've found, though hers are considerably darker. You're on your own from there.)

The Painted Drum, Louise Erdrich

I think this is Erdrich's most approchable novel, if you will forgive me for using that term on my blog. Her writing is so thoughtful and tender. My dad didn't like it, but he's only into lad lit these days. (Yes I do call DeLillo and McGuane lad lit, dad. Bite me.)

Faithful Place, Tana French Photobucket

This was my favorite book of the year. It's technically a 'mystery', don't let that scare you off. I don't suffer Patterson, either. One seriously dysfunctional Irish family has a dark secret or two. Tana French's characters are so real to me. For weeks after reading this book I'd be chopping carrots and find myself wondering why Frank never comes round for dinner anymore.

Frank is the main character in the book.

Delicate, Edible Birds, Lauren Groff

I absolutely did not read this book in 2010. Lauren Groff's words are delicate and edible. Like birds. I'm a motherfraking lyrical genius. Motherfriggin wordsmith.


When The Heart Waits, Sue Monk Kidd, and Traveling With Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Anne Kidd Taylor. Good old Sue's approach to Christianity just works for me. One day last spring I was wondering around a bookstore feeling lost and empty. When The Heart Waits literally fell off the shelf and landed in front of me. It was exactly what I needed. Traveling With Pomegranates is a mother-daughter memoir about several trips they took to visit sacred sites around the world. Sue Monk Kidd delights me because she is so darn different from me. She is deeply introspective and contemplative and is capable of finding deep meaning out of things like glass pomegranates in a window display or a bee on her shoulder. Some of my happiest moments this year were spent reading this book and considering things deeply the way Sue and her daughter do. Also commendable for its frank look at depression and the complications of mother-daughter relationships. I recommend this one highly. (Sidenote: I couldn't finish The Secret Life of Bees. Just in case you couldn't either.)

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
. The world needs much more Katniss and much less Bella. If you haven't read them, you are a sorry sonofabitch. Apologies. I'm feeling feisty today.

Books I'm most looking forward to reading in 2011:

1) The Reapers are The Angels (I just can't stop saying it). Temple is my favorite character since Buffy. Who was my favorite character since Starbuck. Who was my favorite character since Katniss. It all started for me in about 1989 with a feisty redhead named Anne. With the 'e'.

2)PhotobucketThe Orange Eats Creeps, Grace Krilanovich. It's about vampires. I was over vampires before they began. I read Anne Rice in 1991, ok? But someone on NPR's book reviews said "the book feels written in a fever. It is breathless, scary, and like nothing I've ever read before. As critic Steve Erickson wrote, 'If a new literature is at hand then it might as well begin here'. Krilanovich's work will make you believe that new ways of storytelling are still emerging from the margins." Sold.

My Mother, She Killed Me, My Father, He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales.
Francine Prose, Karen Joy Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates all have entries here. I'm into new-spun fairy tales right now. If the title didn't sell you, I don't want to be your friend.

4) Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, Alissa Nutting
. I think it's another sort of dark magic-realism deal. On the cover is a naked woman holding a fish.


5)PhotobucketTemperance, Cathy Malkasian. This was from some other list on NPR. It's a graphic novel and I have yet to finish a graphic novel. I'm not highly visual. I get the characters confused.

6)Photobucket YA lit. It's a brave new world. In YA, if you don't write like 2010's Hemingway, it's a-ok. I dig the elbow room.

Final thoughts on books of 2010: I don't like anything by Kate Morton, but for some reason I wish I did. When will Oprah pick a book written by a woman? Freedom was just not up my alley. Martha Beck, I like your style. You sly, sly minx. I've started Kingsolver's The Lacuna three times now but haven't finished. J.V. Jones, please get your groove back. Jordan/Sanderson, foot-stamping and braid-pulling does not a character make. That's enough, World War II books. The Book Thief is the only one anyone needs to read. How many days 'til Tana French has a new book?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Now I Will Me To Be A Bold Swimmer


I've been thinking a lot about the hero's journey these days.

I've never read Joseph Campbell, because Neil Gaiman scared me off of him without meaning to, but I'd like to think I know my fair share about heroes' journeys because let's face it. I am a sci-fi and fantasy geek and I always have been. She hid in secret for awhile, but she was always there.

I've been thinking about the hero's journey because a trial has come and I want to know if I can pass the test. Like the hero does.

Me and the heroes, we do ok for awhile. We deal with our little trials. Dust a vamp here, slay an orc there, use an expelliarmus before sitting down with a butter beer. We recognize we are looking for something and hey, we always knew there would be bumps a long the way.

But there was something on the horizon that we couldn't see coming, wasn't there? And so, for the heroes and for me, the stakes heighten. The little reavers we patted ourselves on the back for offing were never going to be the real trial. The world is so much larger than that.

So comes the point where the hero fully comprehends the task set before her. It is so much more difficult that she'd ever imagined. So massive and lurking and advanced. She knows that this time, the task is too large. The gods have required too much.

I felt like I hit the point where I can't carry on. I can't do it anymore. I fell off the horse and I can't muster the gumption to put my foot back in the stirrup.

The gods have asked too much.

(Because I don't want you worrying and imagining terrible ominous things, I want to stop 'coding', as I've been told I do, and just say it straight here: I was smacked with a depression that is a little bit seasonal and a little bit genetic. And I heard a new career wish in my heart that feels too crazy to be possible and too desperate to be ignored. Together, they leveled me. They melded into one massive creature that I would like to call, fondly, the Demon Cyvoldereaver Vampiremort Number Six.)

All those demons, all the monsters--they are the struggles we face in our own lives. Struggles to remain soft in this world that sometimes seems bright and brimming with possibility, but at others feels overwhelmingly large and cold and yes, ugly. They represent the struggle for us not to turn to stone. Not to live in eternal winter in our hearts. Our struggles to be kind, to remain open, to wonder, to explore, to just be alive in this world when often things aren't easy and there are never any guarantees.

The moment comes for every hero. And, as it turns out, for me. They see the task before them is too great. The battle can't be won. Survival relies on achieving the impossible. They feel weary and broken and that they can't go on.

They always do the same thing. Jesus, Harry Potter, Buffy, Starbuck, Cap'n and Zoe, Dean Winchester (Hi Kimmy!) Strider, Gandalf, all of them.

They spend a dark night in contemplation. They allow themselves a moment, an hour, a night of blackness and fear.

Then they come out guns blazing and fight the damn thing anyway.


Fight even though they know they can't win. Fight even though too much has been asked, too much is required.

I'm trying not to get too 'everyone's a hero in their own way' on you here. But we love the stories because they show us the things that we, too, might be capable of achieving. We don't slay demons or dragons or cylons, but the things we do face, are, I believe, much harder.

The heroes realize this truth: The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.*

Survival here requires more than training and practice with magic or a sword. It requires us to dig things up from the bottoms of our souls and our selves, things that hurt as they grow--when they're not refusing to grow at all.

It was time for me to go down to my depths and I felt like I couldn't do it. I couldn't keep going. It's been too hard. I felt broken. I felt a hardening inside me. I was too weary to fight, and I couldn't see my tribe.

The hardest thing in his world is to live in it. Monsters are slayed with a weapon, in a moment. That was never the real battle.

The real battle is the one within ourselves. To be of good faith. To let that little thing with feathers keep singing in your heart, even when sometimes you think hope is so stupid you'd rather strangle it than hear it chirp again.


I have a soul manifesto and it is this: I am on a journey. I have not arrived, and I respect that journey, with all its trials and all its dim lanterns and all its tangled, diverging paths. I respect the search. I believe one harmonic soul benefits the whole universe, like ripples in a pond. I will take hope and faith and love wherever I find them, and for those I will not stop searching. I will encourage the journey of every soul toward its own liberation. I don't want to be firm. I don't want to be stone. Here I will do my best to be open and tender. It hurts. It's what heroes do--the thing that scares them. The thing that is too much.

And I always wanted to be one.

See? My guns are blazing.

I am Vesuvius and I'm a big damn hero, I just decided.

*The quote is from Buffy. I believe it was written by the BDH Joss Whedon.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

When It Rains

So: the day we got the new ac adapter delivered, our keyboard decided it didn't really want to type the letters 't', 'y', or backspace. Or do any capitals or punctuation. I secretly suspect Mr. V spilled beer on the keyboard, but we are not going to talk about that here.

Needless to say, a new computer is not in the cards (oh I laughed so hard I cried over that idea. Except I skipped the laughing part?).

It's fine, really, that I can't blog because thanks to a friend my life has been hijacked by the show Supernatural.

I am a little embarrassed to put this picture on my blog.

It should mean something to you when I tell you that I'm finding the third season to be alarmingly sexist and I'm watching the show anyway.

The sexism disturbs me. If the women aren't helpless and panicking, they are straight up demons. You heard me. The devil is a busty chick and she wants to ruin your road trip with your brother. It's like these writers aren't aware of the fact that their audience has to be about 99% female.

Seriously. How many men do they imagine are watching this show about two strapping young lads with the looks of George Clooney and Ryan Reynold's love child and the chemistry of a regency romance novel duke and red-headed hoyden before they hook up?

(If you are a male and you love Supernatural, first of all: We love you. Second of all, you are probably a bit of a sensitive guy, and that's really lovely and don't be ashamed. And third, I'd be willing to bet that you were one of those guys rooting for Pacey when all your bros were feeling Dawson. Yes?)

I'm hoping to be able to buy a new laptop in. . . um, March. When we get our tax return. Right now I'm blogging from the library and I just can't get over here without the girls more than once a week at most. Maybe in the meantime I can post some funny pictures of cats in microwaves? Oh wait, that one was absurdly unfunny. I'll try and think of something.

I just needed to let you know that I love you. And I am going for a little while, but I'm like a hero on a sci-fi show who's been sent to hell. Or heaven.

I come back.

I am Vesuvius and I want to ruin your road trip with your brother.

Saturday, November 13, 2010



Yesterday I was at the library with my boring American children. We were sitting there reading boring books about white people eating boring turkeys when these adorable little bambinis from Italy came running in, crying out "Mama, Papi, canna we playa con la computadora?" in pleasantly accented voices.

I was going to ask one of their parents if I could trade them their moppet for one of my kids who say unmusical things like "computER", and, "I love you mom, you're so pretty" instead of 'mami'. But some hawk-eyed librarian was watching me and I think she was on to my grift.

Anyway, my point is, if I had one of those superior Mediterranean children I could record one of them saying it to you like this:

"Mis computadora esta no vive! Esta muerta! Por favora mama belissima, cana I cleana upa my budoira now? And then make-ah you some superiora pastisseries?"

That's right. Italian PLUS French. Suckers.

Waiting for a new ac adapter to arrive. Did you know they're 11 bucks on amazon and 60 at Walmart? Who knew?

See you Tuesday.

I am Vesuvius and I should have married that guy named Paolo. He waited on me once in a restaurant, but I tell you, he gave me the eyes.

I am Vesuvius and I made up that stuff about Paolo.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blog Fail


Dear Readers,

I am sorry.

I had a massive writer failure. I was aiming for a tone of 'too much to do!' and 'need a breather!'. And instead, as it turns out, what I actually hit was 'I am being forced against my will to watch Sex and the City 2 and the man behind me is loudly consuming snacks!' and gave you all flashbacks to that time in high school when one of your friends got dumped and started talking about how she just wanted to 'end it all' and you all had to (got to?) act really concerned and overly dramatic about it for awhile. And maybe you all went and talked to an approachable teacher or coach about it and then they had to be really concerned and be all, 'this is a very serious matter' about it and then they separated the boys and the girls and gave you some sort of talk that ended with a prayer and donuts.


Throw in a picture that is, in retrospect, rather dismal, and title it after a Neko Case song that apparently no one else has listened to and you've got a recipe for disaster.

I didn't realize until I got a call from my mother asking me "are you ok?" in that way only mothers do. And then people started offering to bring me dinner and slipping me websites and phone numbers of 'people who can help' and a stranger at Wal-Mart actually offered me valium to make the pain go away, but I don't think she had read my blog. I think that was just a coincidence.

Anyway I think I'm more depressed now than I was when I wrote Cold and Shivers because of my own massive writerly failure and now I'm pulling all my hair out and haven't brushed my teeth in three days and I keep pounding things out angrily on a typewriter only to yank them from the reel and stuff them into my mouth and swallow both because my writing is so ghastly awful and because I will never be appreciated for the genius I am. **

I don't often feel as dark in my soul as I made you all believe I was feeling. And if I do, I don't blog because that's just ugly. I wait for it to pass and then I blog about the aftermath. Which may still be ugly but is generally less disturbing for readers.

So I thank you for your kindnesses and concern, and I'm sorry I scared you. Please don't leave me. You wouldn't want that emotion bear to start ripping out my innards with his claws of self-loathing and his sweet breath of long-expected failure, do you?

I am Vesuvius and the bear lines are funnier if you imagine Will Ferrell saying them.

**Just kidding!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cold and Shivers

Vesuvius is taking a break to stave off a nervous breakdown.

Anxiety + panic + worry = Vesuvius' creative self hunkered down on an ice floe somewhere, naked, shivering and stroking a dead fish.

Please check back later. Things always warm up again.




Don't panic! The fish thing was supposed to be funny. Nothing's too bad (except I fear I have incurred the wrath of my daughter's bonhomous school principal. But that's a story for another day).

Offerings of wine and chocolate are accepted, as always.

Carry on.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Also I Enjoy The Kit-Kats

Indy Halloween

Ayla Halloween

Vesuvius is looking forward to Sunday night, about 10 pm, when I can pry the goblin's Halloween buckets from their exhausted sticky clutches and steal all the Twix. And the Snickers.

And the Milky Ways.

We will be going to the Dia De Los Muertos festivities at the Longmont Museum and Cultural center. Then my children's training up as pagans will finally be complete.

(Indy: Mom, god wears make up and makes me feel cozy. Mom: No honey, that's your Aunt Sophie)

Indy also thinks God needs to get some more Halloween decorations.

(Please resist your temptation to comment on how the leaves are God's decorations and all that jazz. We are not writing for the Christian Jack Handy here.)

Lastly, today I got to blog for MOPS International. I remember my mom taking me to MOPS meetings. Those were the ones where they fed us those cheap fake Oreos and grape kool-aid. Or maybe the ones in that smoky restaurant with the basement, where our parents gave us money for Pac-Man and then we could never find them again for three hours.

Wait, what?

Check it out here.

Have a Happy Halloween and remember: If your kid doesn't like Crunch bars or Junior Mints, I do.

I am Vesuvius and my favorite Halloween candy is wine.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Love / Money

May I be honest for a moment? I can't decide which is more important to me: Following your dreams, or making money.

Everyone out there is telling us to do what we love and the money will follow. But no one has instructions on how to carry on when 'what you love' turns out to be writing and brewing beer. If you want to make money, you know what you don't be? A writer or a brewer. It turns out that no money follows. At all. Unless you count free beer (I do, but only a little).These are probably two of the most unlucrative (nonlucrative?) careers out there. Because guess what? There is one J.K Rowling and one Adolph Coors and we are not them.

We made this move, this 'career-change' as I am fond of calling it because I imagine it makes me sound less insane, almost exactly a year ago. And while I wish I could sing to you ballads of our triumph and bravery now at the first annual, I knew all along that wouldn't be the case.

I'm not complaining. I went into this with both eyes open. We did this because we believe in dreams, we believe in risks, and we didn't want Mr.V to work for a few more years at a job he hated and then one day wake up and we own a house and two cars and are used to living in a level of comfort that we would have been much, much more hesitant to leave.

O magazine lands in my mailbox every month telling me to follow my north star, or my bliss, or my passions. And it's not just the big O telling me this--it's our entire culture. The Dream Machine. Heavy in the ether is the idea that if you are brave enough to do what you truly, truly love--happiness will follow.

I'm not saying that isn't true. It's still too soon to tell.

But there we were, my husband and I, walking to the car after our first 'date' in months. The date was going around to breweries where they feed us free beer because we bring it to them in return. And it hit me that I just don't know if it's worth it.

I really don't. I'm saying this to offer it up for your consideration. There is another side to all this. I believe you should follow your dreams but what if your dreams are careers that earn basically no money? Mr. V has traded in that awful soul-sucking job for one he enjoys. But it has been a huge, huge sacrifice and I'm not saying it isn't worth it. I'm just telling you, I don't know yet.

There are times I wonder if we should throw in the towel and go take the highest paying jobs we can find. Work up from there.

All of this may never, ever pay off.

But you see, it might. And so I just keep going.

I am Vesuvius, and I will trade you beer for sweaters.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Feminine Divine

"I've always loved strong women, which is lucky for me because once you're over about twenty-five there is no other kind. Women blow my mind. The stuff that routinely gets done to them would make most men curl up and die, but women turn to steel and keep on coming. Any man who claims he's not into strong women is fooling himself mindless: he's into strong women who know how to pout prettily and put on baby voices, and who will end up keeping his balls in their makeup bags." --Tana French, Faithful Place.



I have this memory of gazing down at baby Indy, all fat-cheeked and sweet smelling, deeply peaceful in her sleep, and saying to her, "You are a reflection of the Divine."

I had been reading--here she is again--Sue Monk Kidd's "The Dance of The Dissident Daughter". It felt like healing. Like balm on a raw soul-wound.

This was during the pregnancy when more than one person saw my swollen belly, my little daughter, and said to me: "This next one's a boy, I hope!"

The pregnancy of seeing the slight hitch of disappointment in strangers faces when they asked what this one was and I said, "A girl".

A time when I almost--almost--learned to say it apologetically.

"Another girl." Sorry.

Strangers faces saying: Too bad.

Then there was Sue, telling me that if the Divine could be male, it could be female too. That women are as capable of understanding, comprehending, interpreting, and communicating with the Divine as men are.

And then I looked down into my female child's face and saw Her: Divine.


I am in awe of the women around me. Women who are incredibly, divinely strong. By 'incredibly', I mean they are strong through times and situations they should not possibly be strong through. Things that rightly should make any person crumble. It might take a woman years to find her voice but once she does, I don't think she ever stops listening.

That's what I can't get over. These women I know, or know about, who find themselves in terrible situations: terrible marriages, terrible poverty, terrible illness or violence or circumstances--and somehow find it within themselves not just to keep going, but to evolve. To start over. To reach down to the bottoms of their very selves, take stock of what's there, and then leave things in the dust: Parental expectations. Societal expectations. Bad husbands, bad jobs. Bad turns of luck.

They go into a sort of hibernation and then they emerge: beautiful winged creatures. Free and lovely things. Things that show me what sorts of strength I may be capable of, if I had to be.

I am so honored to watch.

I had a friend tell me lately she went through a number of turns that left her, as she put it, reduced to her core. And there she was, just her and her center. Not ravished like a wind stripped tree, but raw like a thing just starting to bloom. Such pretty wings, flapping slowly. Waiting to sense what's on the breeze.

I had a friend tell me "I'm a proponent of marriage, but I'm not a proponent of amazing women being stuck with shitty husbands." This woman who works, raises children alone, goes to school, dreams beautiful dreams of making life better for others.

I had a friend tell me that one day a switch turned off and she couldn't stay in her old life another minute. A woman whose core has proven to be built of stronger stuff than her sweet demeanor would ever betray.

I thought I was a strong woman. And then I see these people. Adversity hits, and what do they do? They push back their sleeves. Dirty their hands and scrape their nails against the absolute bottom of the well.

Their hands come up clutching bounties of stars.


I was thinking of this last night as I fell asleep. In the Bible, the wisdom of the Divine is personified as female.

They call it Sophia.

That girl-child in whom I recognized the presence of God: her middle name is Sophie.

When I tried to conjure up a symbolic image for this point in my life, I kept seeing darkness all around. But I was holding a little light. I could see more in the distance.

Last night, thinking about these people, I finally saw what was beneath me.

Wild waters. An ancient, living ship. Carrying me home.

I am Vesuvius, and I was afraid but I wrote this anyway.

**Credit for the above photo goes to Lady Cierra Lorenzen, who probably needs a website; to "the timer on her camera"; and to the general awesomeness of all the Lorenzens for probably generations back, but specifically to Kiah, Cierra and Lucy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blasted Pumpkin Fest of Damnation and Rain

Ayla Birthday 2010

I keep trying to figure out a way to not have birthday parties for my kids without getting handed the worst mother of time and all eternity award.

There is not one aspect of birthday parties that don't send me into basic paralytic shock. Just the mere thought of 'party games' or 'invitations' is enough to knock me fetal. Do French people do birthday parties the way they do Christmas? When their daughters turn six, do they simply breeze down the rue to the local patisserie and select a chocolate torte or a plum and honey galette? Do they gift her a tragically vogue bottle of rum raisin nail polish, a darling pair of tights, a sweet little tutu, and smile mildly as their daughters declare it bien fait, mama, and suggest you adjourn to the cafe for chocolat chauds?

Because that is how I want to do it.

Ayla Birthday 2010

We took her to Whole Foods to pick out her birthday dinner, because she had requested fish. And while I know that money does not buy happiness, I hold firm to the belief that if I could afford to shop at Whole Foods every week instead of twice a year and even then only for seafood, I would be happier. She selected a red snapper. Ayla wanted a fish with the head for her birthday dinner, and when you know your daughter is going to be putting the fish head in her mouth and sucking it, you buy that fish at Whole Foods because of the belief, however illusory, that their meat and seafood is less toxic and your daughter is only going to be eating fish brains, and not brain tumors.

So Noah fried the snapper and served our girl the head. Our girl popped the eyeball out with her fork and stuck it in her mouth. And this is how we know that red snapper eyeballs are not as tasty as trout eyeballs: she made a face and began to laugh in this delightedly disgusted way. We asked her if it was gross and she nodded vigorously, laughing. "Uh-huh, uh-huh!" Everyone laughing. We told her she could spit it out and she did.

She loved every minute of it.

Happy Birthday Ayla. Six years ago you were born in the morning. You had a dainty cry. You looked like your dad. Outside our hospital room window the trees were changing. You were hardly ever any trouble. Except those times when you were a whole lot of it.

Ayla Birthday 2010
Noah and I were snapping at each other when this photo was taken.

I am Vesuvius and I would rather get a pap smear than plan a party.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Help Me Help Me

So I'm reading this new book by Martha Beck.

It's a self help book really, and I just want to say to all the people in my life: I'm sorry.

I read self-help or spiritual books from time to time, and whenever I do I get all super annoying. Seriously I'm unbearable. I mean, I feel really good inside so I just keep doing it, devouring Martha Beck and Sue Monk Kidd and Pema Chodron and once I even read The Secret. But then I start saying things to Noah like, "Do whatever makes you feel most liberated!". Or I tell my family, you know, the fact that you have that giant oozing growth on your foot isn't really the problem. The problem is that you THINK it's a problem.

You see?

The book isn't about housekeeping really, at all. I mean not even I am lame enough to read books about combining your true self with your lemon Pledge. But towards the end Martha Beck says that you should mentally walk through your living space and note any area of it that you don't like, that makes you uncomfortable.

So I'm like, ha! That's my ENTIRE HOUSE. Gotcha. What now, Martha Beck?

Eat that.

But she was prepared (damn you Martha Beck, you sly lynx). She knew I would say that so she told me to think about the place that makes me feel the most icky. And I thought: the bedroom.

If you are hearing flashing red sirens now, well, so was I.

If there is one thing you need your bedroom to feel after 8 years of marriage, I don't know what that is but I'm sure it isn't 'icky'.

So then Martha Beck told me to visualize getting a million dollar check in the mail that I could use to redecorate--

Just kidding mom.

She said to put one thing I love in my bedroom and take out one thing I hate. So I'm working on that.

Now all I need to do is figure out 1)How to get Nathan Fillion into my bedroom and 2) does anyone know how to wash brain matter out of sateen sheets? What is a spin cycle? I don't get it.

Just kidding.

No seriously though. Do you?

I am Vesuvius and one day I will have the better of that insufferable Martha Beck.

Just kidding, Martha Beck.

(no, seriously.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Who I Met and What I Saw

First things first.

This was to be the first of many blades I would see at the Excalibur that evening.

Hippie-sters at the bar where we saw Brad Garrett and Carl bought me a $20 Grey Goose vodka tonic. Thanks Carl!

These are the other blades I was talking about. Sadly, TFDU contained no full Monty.

Feeling the love.

More love.

She just looks so dang happy.

Again with the love.

Before they stole the flask away.

Sisters from some other misters.

Copa, Copa Cabana.

This shirt is What Happened In Vegas.

Just yum that was followed by a lemon drop martini. Double yum all the way.

Ready? One, two, three: Awwwww.


The Tuttle's can bomb their own photos, thank you very much.

Blue Steel.

I kept telling them they had the 'same energy'. Yeeeaaah.

City of Light?

The only picture I got with the bride.

Are we human? Or are we dancers?


Some members of the tribe.

And click here dears to feel the love that just keeps coming. If I took pictures like this guy, I'd protect them too.

I am Vesuvius and I'm a dancer.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Your mother will have warned you—repeatedly—about bed bugs so after First Things First (that being a stop at In 'n Out), when the bellhop brings the bags to your room, you will pick them up off the floor and place them on the chair. Because you grudgingly told your mother you would.

(You will refuse to go so far as to check under the bedsheets for drops of blood. You hate media hysteria. At least you think you do, until, at a greasy buffet, Le Gourmand Vulgaire points out that anti-bacterial wash is doing more harm than good, and you use it anyway)

You will fall back onto a bed that is more comfortable than any you have ever slept on. Sleep for two hours, three, maybe four. Pile with your husband's family but not your husband into a car and drive down the strip to a hotel casino. When the divorcee's make divorcee-humor jokes to each other, laughing heartily but making everyone else uncomfortable, you will try to make another joke to relieve the awkwardness. No one will laugh.

The bachelor party will have started hours ago. You will go back to the hotel room to get ready. You will have been a little nervous, in the days before, about this party. You won't know anyone there other than the bachelorette. Then you'll get to the party, where they're handing out what can only be described as penis tchotchkes, playing penis games, laughing at penis pictures on the walls. Someone will hand you champagne. Nobody bothers much with introductions because already it's starting to feel like you've always known these people. These beautiful people who are too beautiful to be so nice.

You and a friend you have just met will declare that more alcohol is required if you are to make it through the Thunder From Down Under. There will somehow be both too much and not enough thunder You are embarrassingly shocked, and yet not shocked at all. There are a few naked bums and lots of pirate costumes. The tone feels slightly off. Wonder: What is the RIGHT tone for a male strip show?

You will laugh at the bachelorette, pulled up onto stage, given a private—ahem—viewing. Spirits are high. The last time you partied like this, with a group of other women, you were all dressed like teenagers, like brightly wrapped candies or Christmas presents. Now you all look more like sexy martinis. A bartender will shout for free drinks for the women at the bachelorette party. They want to pour it into your mouth straight from the bottle. When you turn away, shaking your head, the others will laugh good-naturedly.

A man named Lion will escort you to a club, deposit you in a VIP area, reassure you he's going to take great care of you ladies, then disappear. This is your first real club experience, and you're feeling spoiled and important. You and these women get to dance together behind a rope. There are lush velvet benches wrapping around. Men edge their way to the rope, looking in sideways. Like vampires, they cannot enter without an invitation. A tiny blonde woman wearing a warrior princess get-up will come round every ten minutes to refresh your drinks. You ask her to pose for a picture. Later, you will search her out to love-tip her, but she will be nowhere found.

At this point in the evening you are all hot on drink and declaring openly your love. You love them, they love you, they love eachother, everyone everywhere is love love love. Who can blame you? You dance dance dance. You realize it is someone's job to come round with a towel and wipe up all the alcohol you spill. You find yourself in a gogo cage with all the other women at the party. On your raised platform, surrounded by people below watching, it feels as if there's only ever been the group of you. Those of you who are in relationships somehow emit a vibe to the crowd and no one bothers you. Those of you who aren't emit a different vibe, no one minds. You used to be so uptight about these things. Looked down on clubs. Worried overmuch about how you looked. Now it doesn't matter. You are dancing, you are young, your breasts are—it must be said—spectacular, and surrounding you is this unexpected tribe that has never been yours. But is, tonight.

You leave the bar and end up in another. Your group constantly fluxes in number. People leave and come back with unlikely quantities of food. Twenty sausage mcmuffins, fifty chicken nuggets, one order of fries. It is Vegas, it is 2 am, and the only thing open appears to be McDonalds. Two different people will basically fall out of their chairs when they find out you're NOAH'S wife. You're married to Noah??? You watch them stare, searching your face anew, trying to reconcile the person your husband was in high school with what they see now. Your husband is infamous here. Somehow, that night, you end up back at your hotel room. You think you kissed the bride on the head, well, you get kissy at weddings. Your room is on the 20th floor and has a view of the strip. Vegas is glittering. You tumble into bed. Later, much later, your husband comes home. He wakes you opening the door, your eyes crack open just long enough to see it: Vegas at dawn. Dawn is beautiful everywhere.

It will seem there are too many people gathered outside the chapel, but somehow you will all fit into a tiny room. The bride comes out and everyone cries. She is crying, you were not expecting her to cry, and fear you might sob. She is radiant, she is trembling. You all cheered heartily when the groom walked in and now here's the bride and no one can breathe. It is not the polite warmth directed at other brides at other weddings. It is a moment. A holy pause. An intimate room of people, intent on one thing, experiencing one all-encompassing collective emotion. Nobody moves except this bride in her 40's glam, film noir dress, her vintage veil, her lively eyes. Nobody moves until finally she says, 'husband-weird!', and you all laugh.

After the wedding, the air actually crackles. Cocktail hour passes on a balcony that makes you dizzy. It is warm, it is evening, the lights and eyes are bright. Someone will indicate that it's time to progress downstairs, to the dinner. You will cram with an impossible number of people, including the bride and groom, into an elevator. You are all a bit dizzy, you are all much too loud. The elevator stops early, the doors move open—to Dede, the patriarch, and Shirley, his wife. The passengers raise their hands, spill their drinks, cry an uproarious welcome. As if by cue you will all take up the cheer: "Dede, dede, dede, dede!" You are making the elevator bounce and no one is afraid. Dede is a Czech, he likes a good party. "Free drinks for everyone!" he will cry. You holler like the pagans you've become.

Again, you feel spoiled and exclusive. An elegant room, behind dark glass. Visible to but apart from the hoi-polloi. Waiters bring tiny tasty sushis and glasses of spirits. These people have shown you the best of everything; you know you'll never return to Vegas again because why slum a city after you've done it like a queen? Eat, drink, the love fest is on again. This wedding, these people. So intimate. Everyone is a cousin or a friend from way back. You'll keep telling them they're so beautiful, you can't help it, they are. Your husband strikes up a bromance, what better a place? Everyone is overcome. They are pulsing and rolling around you, swelling like a warm, joyful wave. A bride, a groom, a long time coming, a love, surrounded by love. You declare it openly because of the drink, but the feelings aren't false. This is your husband's history, his other life. They seem to accept each other as they are. You will ask them to be your surrogate friends. They will throw wide their arms and cry, they are your real ones. They open up and envelop you. It is warm, the air is thick, there is always room for one more.

They next morning, in the day light, everything has changed. You end up at a buffet, greasy serving spoons, the scents of too many foods intermingling and upsetting your party-tummy. You're all exhausted, you've wrung yourselves dry. The next day you will repeat, get me out of Vegas. You hate Vegas, the people, the excess, the waste. When you get home the dark prairie will sooth and comfort your eyes. But it doesn't matter, none of that matters. You are wasted, but before that was something else. Other cultures have names for what you encountered, what you touched. A clan, an energy, a raucous, reveling joy. You've felt it at other weddings and once at a Tori Amos concert. Something wild, something maybe primitive. The words spirited away come to mind.

Anything good that Vegas has to offer, you have had it. Maybe someday you will have a little more, but for now, this was enough. Good food. Good drink. Good people. Wild nights. Wild joy.


I am Vesuvius, and when I panic I say, "Grey Goose".

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Maybe I'll Elope

I secretly believe that my brother by law, Le Gourmand Vulgaire, was inspired by The Hangover and so it is that we are going to a wedding in Vegas.

I'm so happy it's Z getting married because you know there is going to be good food.

Delicious food.

This bride and groom know how to have a good time.

I have my Marie Claire and People magazine and my Jacqueline Carey novel (the one Nathan Fillion reads to me) all ready to go. I have a black dress and a slinky top and a big flashy Vegas cocktail ring. And I have a new set of makeup to beat. (Thanks mama!)

Now if I could only get it packed. I think it's gonna be a late night. I can't get anything done with the girls around and I've given up.

So: Here is to weddings and babies and haircuts from your sister and moms who buy you new make up even though you're 29 years old.

Here's to Z's reception dinner, which is gonna be a knock-out.

Here's to S, le belle bride, who is, I believe, of French ancestry and so pretty and petite that I always feel like the hulking Nordic giant with the missing eyes when I am with her. Really it is a testament to how much I love her that I am willing to be seen with her at all.

Here's to traveling without kids. (Love ya kids. See you Sunday! Don't forget to tell Gramma your knock-knock joke with the non-sensical--I mean, adorable--ending at least four thousand times).

Here's to hoping for a few hours by the pool with Mr. V.

To the few hours where I have heard we are getting free non-alcoholic drinks.

And to the one meal where there is also rumored to be free world class sushi.

Wish me luck!

(I'm not gonna gamble, but isn't that what you say when you go to Vegas?)

I am Vesuvius, and I don't bet on cards but I do bet on cock fighting.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Strangers Without Candy

Our landlord is trying to sell our house. This is an absolute nightmare to me. It means I have people coming into my home when I'm not there—the realtors have politely told me to leave during the showings—and it feels like a huge invasion of my privacy.

I don't really like having anyone into my home at all, because I’m ashamed of it. It's a shitty place, guys. I'm just being straight up about that. I have never lived in a nice house since I left my parent's, but this is the worst. It is a shitty falling apart little box, and it's too small to fit all our stuff. Like, no linen or hallway or coat closet small. Which means that we still have boxes under the desk in the living room and hampers filled with sheets and towels and extra hangers littering our bedroom. And usually, the house is in a state of a huge toy and laundry mess. We're pretty good about keeping up with the kitchen, because a dirty kitchen is just gross. But the girls' toys and clothes, boots and shoes, backpacks, videos, books, and all the laundry that I don't have room for, it's strewn all over the house and crammed into corners and closets—stacked willy-nilly on the crooked closet shelve, packed into a corner on N's side of the bed and forgotten. Because when you have a shitty house, you don't really notice it. You don't want to. You might step for seven months around a houseplant in your shower and not notice it until one day you slip and come up clutching fern leaves and dirt.

Ok, maybe not all of you have avoidance issues like me. But when I feel overwhelmed, I tend to ignore it and hope it goes away. For instance, up until about two years ago, I had hanging in my closet two dresses I borrowed from Ashleigh Bryant in approximately 1997. I never returned them because once I hit a certain point—a year, maybe—and I still had them? I was feeling too ashamed. Returning them would be dragging the issue back up to the light of day. I didn't want to face that shame by returning the dresses. Hi, here are two homecoming dresses I borrowed eight years ago, I bet you're really thankful. You'll probably want to wear them tonight for drinks with your husband, maroon crushed velvet and empire waists are so hot right now.

The shame was painful. But I couldn't throw them out, they were Ashleigh's. And so the dresses hung, unreturned and unused, in my closet through college, my wedding and the births of my two children, red and black remnants of the glory of the 90's, until at some point on Birch Street I finally sucked it up and admitted Ashleigh wouldn't want them anymore and took them to Goodwill.

Ashleigh Bryant, please forgive me.

Now: As if the closets weren't enough, there's also the girls room. It's terrible. It's tiny, there are two of them in there with a toy box, no dresser, and two mattresses on the floor. We're waiting 'til we can afford bunk beds—now let's just all have a big fat laugh right here, because I'm telling you true, we are never going to be able to afford bunk beds. But Noah and I are hanging onto this bunk bed delusion, because it allows us to not be overwhelmed by guilt that Ayla sleeps on a twin size mattress on the floor and little Indy sleeps on a crib size mattress on the floor that no longer has any sheets that fit it and we drape it over with blankets or sheets that are too big and pull loose every night. Delusions are a powerful force in life and I urge you not to overlook them. Also, in subjects not at all related to delusions, I would just like to point out that I love my job because I know I'm not going to be doing it for the rest of my life, I have the exact body size and shape as that of Christina Hendricks and therefore can't wait to don my swimsuit, I don't spend that much money at Starbucks, my children are not at all willful or defiant but just incredibly tenacious, Velveeta with Rotel over noodles is an antioxidant-packed meal, and my hair is not thinning it's just still falling out from the hormone changes that took place after the birth of my youngest. Four years ago.

Now if you'll excuse me, Nathan Fillion is coming over to make margaritas and read me Jacqueline Carey novels.

Seriously, I don't know what I'd do without him.

What was I saying? Oh yeah--So they're showing our house today and tomorrow. This means that I have to scramble around cleaning in that terrible hour after dinner is eaten and I need to bathe the kids and brush their teeth and get them to bed, clean up the kitchen, pack school lunches, rotate the laundry, and do whatever else I've been putting off for days like school projects and hocking coupon books (wanna buy one?). The hour when I'm really hoping to get it done fast so I can sit down before I have to get up an hour later to go pick up Noah. So there's the cleaning thing, which you know, sucks. And then we have to leave our house. At bedtime. So that Strangers can inspect my dirty laundry with all the privacy they deserve.

So it's Monday lunch time, and I went to this gorgeous wedding yesterday. And I wanted to write about that, and about some other things that occurred over the weekend. But this hit me—and did I mention I have to pack for a trip this week too?—and I just really needed to vent.

And I don't think I've ever used this blog to vent before—to describe, to relate, to express or articulate, to rant even, yes, but not to vent—and so I'm hoping you'll excuse me for doing it this one time.

And if I've done it before, now is maybe not the time to point it out to me?

Because guys, I am not my house. But this still sucks.

I am Vesuvius, and have I mentioned to you that I am best friends with the entire cast of Firefly?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weak End


We've been trying to settle into a routine here in Longmont, but fate keeps thwarting our attempts.

It's Mr. V's job now to get Ayla Bird ready for school and most days he does a really great job. Only once so far have I gone to pick her up and found her bangs hanging in her eyes. Also once she was wearing shorts size 3T but we won't mention that here.

I get two hours a day to myself now. In related news, I blow through my Starbucks allowance for two weeks in five days. The second week I have to suck it up and drink tea and iced Via at home.


I found two cans of beer and pipe tobacco in the backpack Mr. V takes to work and I asked him if he'd lost his job.

"Honey, got to go to 'work' now."

I thought that was kinda funny.

Every once in a while I think about what I dramatically refer to as 'my old life'. Last year this time I was the one getting Ayla ready for school, pushing her and Indy to Bradley Elementary, pushing the girls on the swings (because we were always early), dropping Ayla at class. Then I'd push Indy to Sunflower Market where we'd buy pumpkin bread and salt water taffy and spiced chai.

Ayla is learning to read and drawing the best pictures in her class.

Seriously, though. They were told to draw 'space' without any direction. Most kids scrawled blobs of green and gray. My kid drew freaking Jupiter. With the striated colors and everything.

Indy is learning to say the boom-chicak-rocka-chicka-rocka-chika-boom song and I don't know what else.

I forgot to tell you how when we went camping and I took her to the outhouses she plugged her nose and said "I think a stinky little person lives here. From stinky town."

I do not make this stuff up.

We are looking forward to Zach and Susie's wedding here. We get to fly to Vegas without the kids and party like Buster Bluth on too many juice boxes.

I texted Zach and told him I couldn't come to his wedding because I had to do something that day that was a little vulgar. Zach said he had to wash his brain out now and if you know Zach, you know that was a triumph.

I am hoping for a few hours of laying by the pool next to Mr. V.

I am also looking forward to: wings, football, sweater weather, autumn walks, autumn leaves, pumpkin bread, caramel macchiatos, Ayla's birthday, my dad's birthday, Halloween, Halloween candy, sausages and sauer kraut, cider, apples in season, more Hatch chilies, and all that other stuff.

Have a happy weekend.

Indy sick and not milking it at all.

The girls helping daddy carry the slain beast.

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