Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Spit Casserole

I hate when there are three healthy men sitting my the living room while I work alone in the kitchen. It's past time for dinner. No one has asked if they can help. No one has even looked at the pile of dishes that will likely be my first greeting in the morning. My back hurts. I'm hot. I've wrestled with my day, the same as them. Why can't I just sit too?

I'm tempted to let dinner burn a little. I consider spitting into it, but can't quite make myself do it. That would swing too far, something that I hope only happens in the movies. 

Does it run too far? Did you ever kitchen-spit in someone's meal? 

Should I?

Thank you for listening, jules 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Angel Hair Pasta

I'm hiding in my room. 

It was at dinner time. I'd asked Mike if he wanted spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. He said yes, so I got to it. Mike prefers angel hair pasta, so I made angel hair pasta. I made a separate pot of just sauce and pasta for the vegetarian. I've been making separate meals for him every night. 

No, my vegetarian boarder hasn't moved out yet. He's been here ten weeks now.  He's missed more apartment opportunities than meals.

But tonight, as he served himself a large helping of his specially-made meal, he lectured me about the difference between spaghetti and angel hair pasta. I KNOW the difference between spaghetti and angel hair pasta. 

When I was a kid, all soda was 'Coke.' When people said Coke, someone else might ask what kind and then it would come out that what they really wanted was an Orange Crush. When I moved to the East coast, I found out that not everyone said it that way. They called it soda. Some dialects called it pop. We called it Coke. Go figure. 

I also remember how someone laughed at the way I pronounced 'peony' as if I was in a piney woods. Hey, it was how I was raised to speak the word. I remember how stupid that person made me feel. That was at least twenty years ago. 

The vegetarian boarder thinks he's smarter than I am, thinks he might properly educate me if he keeps lecturing. Or maybe he's just mad that I made him clean his shower after he clogged the drain and grew pink slime on the shower curtain. 

Thank you for listening, jules

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Drill Some Holes

I'm having panic attacks. My friends, good friends, are trying to help me. Mike is trying to help me. Talk to your nephew, they said, give him a deadline, tell him how you feel, tell him all the ways it will benefit him to get his own place. Set boundaries.

See, in March, my nephew called and said he was going to stay in a hotel because he got a job out here and was moving here. After that, he left room on the phone for a long pause in the conversation. I hate the long pause in a conversation. I fall prey to the long pause.

After a couple of conversations, Mike and I decided that the only thing we could do was offer him a place to stay until he found his own. We had no choice. We couldn't deny him this help. Conversations with his mom and his sister and his grandma just confirmed it. Pressure was intense.

So, I got on the phone with him and told him he could stay here, but just a week or two until he found his own place, I don't do well with house guests, I told him. I paced the kitchen as I talked. I looked out the window. I tried to picture it working out this time.

Just a couple of weeks, he said.

You'll be fine, my sister said.

He'll be helpful, my mother said.

It will only take him a couple of weeks to get his own place, they all said.

He drove into the driveway on April 4th. Today is June 11th.

Last night, I sent a text to my friend:

I talked to him - I said I feel this way and I feel that way. We didn't set a definite deadline, but he said he got the message, said he'd gotten an apartment on his own in college, that he didn't want my help. He said he could afford to get a place. I stayed calm. I told him I didn't want resentment to build any more than it was, that I felt very uncomfortable when I was at home, that I'd lived in dumps myself when I was in my twenties, that it wasn't him but it was me. 

Tonight, he told us he looked at two places, one in a drug neighborhood, the other not quite as dangerous as if I require that he choose between the two. Now, he's sitting downstairs in the dark with the speakerphone on so loudly that we can hear everything he and my niece are saying. It's awful, absolutely, stunningly awful. By the time he's off the phone, his whole family will hate me. But maybe they probably already do.

I'm trying not to hyperventilate. Mike's helping but there's no escape.

Oh, I have good friends. My friend texted back and forth with me for an hour even though she has to work in the morning. She's a veterinarian. When she has to work in the morning, she really has to work.

She said I need to let it go, that it's okay for my family to hate me if it means standing up for myself, that I don't need to feel guilty - he's an adult and I am not responsible for him or his happiness.

She should write a book, my friend.

I texted her that I'm trying not to unravel.

Maybe a hotel tonight, she asked. By then, I had joined Mike in the garage. He was drilling holes in leather to put in rivets on a project. I asked if I could drill holes. Drilling holes would feel good. They did. I like drilling holes.

I should drill more holes when I can't breathe.

My friend even offered to talk with my nephew. Hammer time, she said. She could be the bad guy, she said.

That made me laugh. It helped to laugh when I couldn't breathe. She talked about the families that we adopt. She is my adopted family. She is, and my three other friends who have been coaching me to keep breathing, to own my own space, to keep from being a scapegoat, to send my nephew on his way even if I were blamed for what happened to him next. It is easy for me to fall back into the role of scapegoat.

Repeat a mantra, she texted me.

And then I drilled a few more holes for Mike. He's lucky I didn't ruin the holes. I'm not entirely sure how I did it, my breath hitching, my eyes blurred, my nose and eyes running. A mantra. What would my mantra be?

Find your power, she texted me. Yes. I need a mantra. I need to find my power. And I need to drill some damned holes. Do any of you have a project that requires lots and lots of drilled holes? When I can't breathe, I could imagine sitting with my head in my hands, repeating, "I need to drill some holes. I need to drill some holes." It's just like me to pick a mantra that will make me look like the crazy lady standing on the corner with a cardboard sign. I need to drill some holes, I need to drill some holes, my cardboard sign would say.

Thank you for listening, jules

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Looking Into the Currents

Back aching,Gut bloating,
Eyes burning,
The need for sleep surpassing all desire
and most needs.
A need for breath, deep enough for oxygen,
Not the panting breath
that only limits.
Ordinary chores ease.
Fold clothes,
Run errands,
Plan lunch with a friend,
Make a nice dinner,
but it all arrives again with the cook,
burns dinner,
brings tears.
From home to chaos
In nine easy weeks.
Does praying even work?
Is there a layer of hell
In which there is no room
For one soul,
In which someone else's soul
gets to fill the room?
Is this a test of suffering?
Most surely a failed one.

If, in dreams, a house is a soul,
This one is full of strangers,
Hangs on a cliff,
The Abyss,
Stands upon a precipice,
Looking into the deep,
Deception Pass
-Don't fall-
Where the river's current
Runs one way,
the tide runs the other,
deceptionally beautiful, but
Don't get caught in an eddie.
It'll suck you down.
It'll suck you right down.

Does it help to pray?
Make the abyss go away?
Suffering remains.
Wounds still bleed.
What is the point?
To breath in and out
More deeply?
To ask for help,
first silently
and then out loud?
To measure time with words,
To suffer, yet
Open the door a crack and let someone,
anyone in.

Thank you for listening, jules

Monday, June 6, 2016

Don't Stand Under a Heron's Nest in June

I'm here to write some crap. I just said goodnight to Mike.

"Go write, hon," he said. "You'll feel better."

He's right, you know. When I sit down with nothing to say, I feel better when I'm done. And sometimes I actually come up with something decent to tell you. Don't expect that today. Nope.

I stood in dog water today. Sounds, gross, doesn't it? It wasn't. Marymoor has a dog park that runs along side the Sammamish slough. I stood knee deep in clear water while dogs swam around me and stood and shook water onto my shoulders. The slough has been reconfigured in the past years so that it runs clean, more like a river than a canal. It's actually lovely, with herons standing knee deep, fishing, dogs leaping chest first into the water after balls and frisbees and retriever toys, rowing teams working together to add style to the view.

And don't forget the heronry. Right now, the baby herons are big and noisy, demanding more and more from their mothers. Are the heron moms tired? Do the dads help? You can see that I know little about these prehistoric birds except the joy of their head movements when they're about dive for a fish. They're patient fishers, standing, silent, focused. But how do they feed two or three big baby birds and stay so patient? I'll never understand.

Don't they ever get frustrated with the little squawkers? Do they ever stand waiting for dinner to be ready and say, "Fuck it. I can't do this. Can't someone to get up off his butt to help me?"

No. They just feed and feed and feed their big babies until they're done needing to be fed.

So why can't I do that? My squab is big and demanding and isn't even close to fledging. It's impossible to feed him properly and he makes huge messes when I'm not there to threaten to turn the TV off if he doesn't clean up after himself. So, why don't I get to stand silently in the water while someone else listens to the racket? Have you ever been under a heronry in June? It's as loud as a construction site and there's bird shit all over the leaves below the nests.

These kids don't clean up after themselves either.

I do feel better.

Thank you for listening, jules