Category Archives: The Variety Show

Making Other People Feel Stupid Makes You Look Stupider

In a Tweet yesterday Stephen King said this:

“Simply put, America is a democracy, not a theocracy.”

I responded to this tweet:

“There are a few Americans who have not gotten this memo. Is there some way you can send this tweet registered?”

I wanted to add that most of the Americans who haven’t gotten this memo are carrying pocket constitutions with them at all times so they can be assholes and spout their vast knowledge upon the sad uninformed lesser Americans.

I wish I had. Because Constitutionalist quibblers have been tweeting stupidity in response ever since.


“That would be a shame, since it would then be a Registered untruth. @Angelinawrites @StephenKing

I totally ignored her.

Alissa Gibson@gibsongirl2000:

@Angelinawrites @StephenKing we are a Republic not a democracy. Sorry to disappoint”

I ignored this too.

Wild Pitch@thewildpitch:

“@Angelinawrites @StephenKing Um… is not a memo it’s the Constitution and it explains that we live in a Republic.”

It was only a matter of time until someone mentioned the constitution.

Catherine Alexander@calexander007:

@Angelinawrites @StephenKing The US is not a democracy. It’s a constitutional republic. Significant difference.”

Yeah, you tell me! I feel so schooled and stupid now.

Catherine Alexander@calexander007:

@Angelinawrites @StephenKing I’m guessing you don’t really know what a theocracy is, either.”

Ouch! I don’t know, isn’t a theocracy where one asshole spends all their time insulting other people on Twitter?


@Angelinawrites @StephenKing US is a Republic not a democracy, both of you are wrong.”

There is nothing more delicious to the human being than to point out how wrong other human beings are. No words sweeter in the mouth than “YOU ARE WRONG”

But then this tweet comes along:

dan craelin@DCraelin:

“we live in a universe not a cosmos,….huge HUGE difference @calexander007 @Angelinawrites @StephenKing

I love Dan. But now I must agonize over whether he is WRONG or not. How can he possibly know if this assertion is true when it is not covered in the constitution of the United States of America? All truths are only verifiable if they can be confirmed in this one document.

Oh hell. I’m wrong about that too. There is one other source of absolute truth against which all purported knowledge can be irrefutably fact checked.


I’m so tired of everyone’s tweets about this (except for Dan’s) that I’m going to respond by reminding all of you that there are general terms for government as well as specific ones.

Most Americans refer to our country as being a democracy. We never say we’re going to bring a “constitutional republic” to the rest of the world. NO ONE FUCKING SAYS THAT SHIT. Not the president, not the conservative politicians with worn out copies of the constitution shoved in their righteous pockets. In popular language we refer to our form of government as being a democracy.

But you all know that. You knew that when you took delicious joy in being specific when you knew Stephen King was using the popular and general term for the kind of government we are supposed to have here.

In the English language (and in many others as well) there are very specific terms for things and then there are popularly used and accepted general terms for things that everyone understands that simplifies discourse with other human beings.

And then there are those people who purposely ignore the commonly accepted terms, (even when accepted and used by scholars, scientists, and the last 10 Presidents of the United States), so that they can dedicate themselves to their true calling in life which is to make everyone wrong.

A democracy in general terms is: Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or indirectly through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws.

This is what we have in the United States.

Lastly, to Catherine. Were you saying I don’t know what Theocracy is specifically compared to, say, an Ecclesiocracy?

When someone says “theocracy” you know very well what they mean.

The danger of nitpicking language is that it can easily betray your own shortcomings in comprehension OR just make you look like an asshole.

Well done!

Connectedness is the Total Shit

hook and flower 2

I’ve got a sister on my mind. Scratch that, I’ve got a few precious sisters on my mind. Fuck that, I’ve got a world full of incredible sisters on my mind. I’ve got some brothers too. (I have more brothers than most, what with my biological father’s fecundity.) But I have other brothers too.

It’s so fucked up when I try to get familial with the world and sound like I’m on the verge of a metaphysical breakthrough wherein I channel Richard Simmons as a baby and find a glittery rainbow of loud striped thighs sweating into microphones shouting hallelujah between rivulets of intentional sweat. Fucking INTENTIONAL sweat.

Connectedness is the total shit. With my fellow human beings. Ditch the differences, the details that separate us, because the things we have in common are huge. I hear you all in your nightmares, I feel your heads exploding with confusion, anxiety, terror, poetry, love, desire, sorrow, and wild happiness. I hear it even if I can’t see the colors you see. I can’t shut you out, all of you with your weird permutations of human ambitions both realized and crushed. All of you bleeding blue without oxygen. All of you with your skin bursting into flames, your minds wrenched open with revelations, your eyes seeing new things after you stopped believing there was anything left to discover.

Connectedness is the total shit. We make families as we need them. We make tribes of our quirks and our vocations and our illnesses. We make communities of shared interests, shared hate, shared pain.

Hold tight to the ship rails. Hold tight to your core beliefs. Hold tight to everything you love and believe in because this life doesn’t take unwilling prisoners and it doesn’t stop for the faint of heart.

And for God’s sake, plug your ears and run inside because I’m about to scream so loud Margaret Thatcher will rise from her grave and rip the pearls from her throat so that they shower hell with iridescent hail.

I’m thinking of a sister right now but I’m sorry it turned out to be Margaret Thatcher.

Don’t Push

extreme sepia profileI wore gloves a lot before I turned 30 years old. Sometimes the sepia dreams are what move us into the technicolor future. I wish I’d accepted myself better back then. Drifting through some people’s gentle dreams and propelling others’ virulent nightmares – I don’t know how to reconcile being both the thunder and the rain.

Don’t push against my sawdust door. Don’t tell me it’s time to move on before I’ve picked my entrails up and packed them back into my suit of flesh. Don’t tell me it’s time to evolve my grief before I’ve had time to wring my cape of tears into my eroded calcified bucket of whispered sorrows. Don’t push me against the sawdust door of your expectations if you want to see me on the other side. Threads knotted full of drying calendula flowers crown my hair to ward off your rough skin, your night terrors, and the dead you have chained to your ankles and drag from grave to grave with your rapacious appetite for darkness.

Don’t push me across the road of nails unless you wish to impale yourself on the sharp crossing covered in martyrs crusted blood, because I will take you with me if you push too hard. I will take you places you can’t handle going. You are a child to this road, your skin is soft as a newborn’s and butter to the knife in my hand. Don’t push me across the road of nails in hopes I will crawl back across with lust for you, with need of you, with misery grinding in my head for you. I didn’t ask for anyone to follow me to this point, to this hardscrabble crossroads where not even the shortest most desperate chamomile plant will take root.

Don’t push my back against your impossibly stiff metal yardstick, I will rip it apart as though it was wet paper turning to grey soft pulp. It’s useless to me now. How long you think I should have lost my voice is immaterial to the truth which waits out an apocalypse of good intentions and earnest worship. I can’t climb you to the top of my mountain, you only get this high from losing, losing, losing. You haven’t lost enough to climb this high. This is where the suicides come to look at everything in the last seconds. This is as close as I get to real trust. Trust that this is where I belong. I belong to the rocks bleached by the baking of the sun, the scraping of this painful light across cloudless precipice. I belong to the edge where things don’t matter like they do at lower altitudes.

Don’t push me to the edge of your patience. That leash is shorter than you will ever admit. I know the truth of it, I smell it, I feel it, like an animal who can map the edges of human kindness, who can map the edges of its cage with no more than the air full of scent. I know your limitations better than you know them yourself but I don’t know my own. I don’t know how many weeks, how many months, how many years it will take my body to erase the punches from its surface. How long I will move through the sludge of this fear that seems to have no end and no boundaries. Your patience is like the fragile tissue of a poppy petal that wilts under light and heat and curls and burns under the most reluctant touch.

Don’t push me against my own sawdust door hoping for a miracle revelation. There are no miracles in these sorry hands. There are no miracles in this den of transportation dreams and hotel nightmares.

Be Cautious of Pride

scowl more defined

These old pictures Philip took of me 15 years ago remain my favorite pictures anyone has ever taken of me. I dredge them up from time to time, not out of (I hope) inordinate and undeserved pride, but out of an appreciation of how well I could wear a tiara at 28 years of age.

Don’t take pride in things that only circumstances can arrange beautifully, like never needing government assistance, like being born white, or being born with opportunity arranged for you by gender, race, or creed. Take pride in what no one but you can say, achieve, be, throw down on the ice floe. Take pride in what you make with your raw hands, what you risk for truth, who you protect with love. Take pride in how much of your neck you stretch out for the knife. Nothing else matters.

What are you willing to be killed for?

laugh contrast

This sweet candy is like funereal drivel. Give me the goddamn corpse – I’ll take it in my arms and lay it down in a pillow of night. 16 years ago I had a prophetic moment and if I could have used it to solve fiscal calamity or oppression I would have ditched every selfish decision since then. I would have worn a hair shirt, I would have chained myself to the pillar of salt-truth until my skin was stiff and parched with it. I would have sacrificed my hope to its fire of possibility.

the right tiara contrastI’m white, a crime I didn’t get to choose. I won’t be ashamed of my skin because that’s part of the systemic disease  this country is suffering from. I will hold candles up to the images of every American who’s ever been born and suffered unfairly because their skin wasn’t as burnable as mine. I will embrace and love any good human, any color, any faith, any day.

I loved a murderer because his heart was a beautiful organ. This love taught me that people can change. People can evolve. If I didn’t know this I would choose to die today from heartache and fear. This murderer had the most tender heart, was a better human than I am.

A better human than I am.

Round Two Starts Now

the insect eating

Round two starts today.

This time the goal isn’t months but pounds. I’m not drinking alcohol again until I’ve lost another 46 pounds.

The first three months of the year I didn’t drink and lost 34 lbs. The last three months I’ve been drinking and gained 6 lbs back and have discovered I am not able to drink moderately still. This may end up being the way it IS for the rest of my life but I’m still not willing to give up my idea that I can get back to being a moderate drinker.

In the mean time I want to lose weight more than I want to drink and if I can’t drink moderately then I have to not drink at all. I’m hoping I can do this by November, but if not, I’ll just have to have the most depressing unfestive holiday season ever since the only thing I like about the holidays is all the booze which is necessary for deflecting all the aggressive “cheer” people throw around like poop in a monkey zoo.

In the first round of sobriety I didn’t do a lot of exercise. This time I will be doing a lot. But first I have to make myself an appointment with the podiatrist to find out what the hell is wrong with my foot that it’s making it hard for me to do much walking. If it’s not something I can fix with orthopedics then I’ll just have to do a lot of bicycling. Bicycling is fine but my favorite exercise is walking.

So I’m going to not drink, exercise a lot, and I’m going to cut down on cheese again. We are now in the best season for produce and I intend to take full advantage of it.

And I will be working on that first book I wrote. The one I keep thinking about. That won’t quit my head. That kind of scares me both because of how personal the theme of the story is to me and what a huge mess I made of it before. I have come back to it again and again hoping to untangle the plot and then I give up. I had a revelation recently that will amaze you – in that you will be amazed a writer has to have a revelation about this:

I can change any details I want to and I don’t have to stick with the first chapter that was the short story that gave me the idea for the whole novel in the first place. I’m the boss. I get to take this story where I want to take it.

So I’ve started sketching out scenes – the ones that haunt me – that will become my outline. I’m doing character analysis’ for all the main characters. I’m thinking about and working on the structure of the book. I’m sorting out the POV and taking my time with it all.

I stopped working on Cricket and Grey because this book two has not been coming together. I got some good writing done but I just keep feeling like it’s not what I’m supposed to be working on. It just hasn’t felt right. So I’m setting it aside for a while. Maybe a long while. I don’t know and I’m not going to plague myself for answers or decisions. Instead I’m going to get the first one fixed and rewritten so it can get out of my head.

So, here I am again.

I’m going outside to cut and string some calendula flower heads for drying.

The Dark Holes Listen

dumpster in Petaluma

Mapping out the original fiction. Taking hold of the ship mast because I’m the only one left who understands the wind. My compass is running on the fuel of my barefoot nightmares. It’s running on the exhaust of spent mornings and archived broken transportation routes. The money’s there if you can find it.

You won’t find it.

I’ll always be standing here watching Ava’s house burn down with the creepy doll in the attic melting into the woodwork and her kids looking up from the pavement with the same wide eyes. We played next to each other without words. I’ll always be pushing my baby sister across an endless tundra of fear and hot asphalt. Six years old and aware of the porn magazines ditched in the bushes I pushed my infant sister past. Shadows I’d crawled into clandestinely with other children to flip pages with penises we’d already seen, vaginas we’d all caught in the corner of our eyes.

Some of us had caught them in other dark holes and corners no one ever talked about, that we knew weren’t right. The broken toys always know they’re broken, you don’t have to shout about it.

Silence is the Seal of Darkness. Fuck Silence.

cosmos eatenI’ve been hearing more and more people suggest not talking about mass murderers so they don’t get the attention they crave. So they don’t “win”. It is always said as a solution to the fact that they happen. “The media attention is why they exist” and “Let’s not say their name so they can’t get famous because that’s what they really want” and “If we ignore them then they lose”


Mass murders have been happening long before we had the ability to flood the public with 24 hour news coverage. Mass murderers don’t kill to get famous. They kill to be heard by people who have been ignoring them or slighting them. They kill because they are angry and disenfranchised in one way or another and they want to hurt as many people as they can to send the message that they matter, that people who mess with them will be sorry. Media coverage may be like their megaphone but they would still kill if the media machine came to a grinding halt because in the communities where they commit their crimes their killing spree will still hurt a ton of people and that’s what they want.

I keep hearing people suggest that if we ignore people like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh that they’ll have no power. That it’s us listening to them and talking about them that gives them power.


Their power lies in the fact that there are tons of people who agree with the racist evil messages they shout out in their shows and if all of us non-bigots ignore them then they will still exist and still be empowered and if we put our heads in the sand and pretend they aren’t there they are more empowered and their influence can grow and their opinions can shape law and  cement systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious intolerance into our collective consciousness as ignoring it HAS ALREADY DONE.

Evil of all kinds, both small and large, thrive on your silence.

Hitler thrived on Europeans turning their eyes away from his systematic abuse and incarceration of Jews which was happening long before he invaded his neighbors. It wasn’t until he started invading other countries that people started paying attention. Millions of Jews were forcibly removed from their homes while neighbors watched, too afraid to do anything, and not saying anything.

Evil thrives on people not talking about the bad shit it’s getting up to, it thrives on us turning away in fear or in a mistaken noble idea that if we ignore it it will cease to exist because we are good and if we only give energy to good things and good people then the world will cover itself in butterflies and, being bored and ignored, evil will dissipate into powerless nontoxic vapors.


Evil has never gone away because we didn’t talk about it or say its name or because we turned away from it and took its spotlight away. Evil thrives on fear and silence and inaction.

Abuse thrives on fear and silence and inaction.

If you suspect a person is being abused do you turn your head away from their abuser and not talk about it? Do you purposely not say their abuser’s name in hopes that the abuser will somehow get the message that abuse is bad and you won’t tolerate it?


Maybe you’re saying to yourself now that I’m being ridiculous. Obviously if you knew a person was being abused you wouldn’t be so stupid and not talk about it because you’re a good human and I’m a bitch to even suggest you would turn away from an abuser and expect them to stop abusing because they’re really only abusing people for the attention.

When public figures say racist bigoted shit and people don’t express outrage and everyone simply ignores them they do not go away – instead the ideals they espouse are being tolerated and accepted and this silence further embeds bigotry in our communities. They don’t stop being bigots because we ignore them. And most likely they go out in the world and treat people like shit and if you saw them in action – would you still be silent?

If you’re standing in line and you hear a white checker say something demeaning to a black customer that is clearly racist – do you keep quiet and mind your own business?

If you know that a teacher has raped a student and the student won’t say anything but you could – do you turn away hoping that the student will report the teacher or that the teacher will stop being evil and abusive?

If you witness someone being called a “faggot” do you just hold your tongue and hope that the homophobe will understand that you’re taking their power away from them?

If you know someone is desperately depressed and at risk of committing suicide do you advise them to get more exercise and fresh air and eat some kale instead of talking to them and listening to them?

If you know someone who is constantly being badgered and abused and instead of turning their awful feelings on themselves they begin to grow bitter and angry do you tell them that they’re a fucking mess and it’s their own fault and then ignore them like everyone else? Is that what you do?

Because all the evil in the world begins with someone’s feelings. Maybe they have mental illness or maybe they don’t but bad feelings fester and either they take it out on themselves and hurt themselves and take drugs and maybe overdose OR they fantasize about taking it out on others. Hitler was an angry little man before he rose to power and took out his feelings on 6 million people.

Silence and fear and inaction are what evil thrives on.

Silence and fear allow evil to grow and evolve and plan and then abuse and sometimes kill.

Mental illness used to be a much bigger taboo until people insisted on talking about it and talking some more about it and studying it and then people with mental illness came out of the dark and insisted on being heard and every single time we make people listen to us more light is shed on our dark hell. Silence kills people with mental illness. Talking and listening save lives.

Racism is so systemic in our country and it isn’t just about little racist slurs – those slurs are just the tip of the deeper darker aspects of racism that have reached the surface of our communities. When we ignore people who make those comments we are empowering them and the discrimination of others that we aren’t seeing that they are absolutely taking part in. When we let people call Arab people “ragheads” and we don’t say anything we are absolutely complicit in racism. Maybe saying something doesn’t change much but it is non-acceptance and it is shedding light on a foul darkness that we need to cut away from our communities. Not listening to racists spouting their toxic opinions and pretending they don’t exist doesn’t make them not exist, it allows them to continue being racist without answering to anyone. When we don’t call people on their racism we are letting it thrive and grow.

Misogyny is rampant in this country (er – the entire world, actually) and not fighting it, not calling it out when we experience it and letting the little insults go because they aren’t “worth our notice” or because “that won’t change anything” is allowing its power to grow and become stronger and it poisons our blood and our children see us not saying anything and not talking about it and they learn that this is how it is and that it’s OKAY to say bad shit about women as a whole gender and when we stifle our outrage at rapists getting away with shit because it just “gives them attention” then we are also saying it’s OKAY with us that this stuff happens.

Our voices are the first and strongest weapon we all have in combating evil in the world. USING our voices is the most important act of power we have. Just ask anyone whose voice has been snuffed out. Just ask anyone who doesn’t have one or can’t use it because someone has threatened them and the ones they love if they use it and so they live in fearful silence.


TALK. Always shout out when you see wrong doing. Always report abuse when you see it. Put your fucking neck out there and shout the house down to be heard. Maybe sometimes you’ll be wrong. Maybe you aren’t saving the world.

But you are shedding light into shadows every time you say evil’s name and call it out.

Talking about the darkness and the abuses and the things we’re most afraid of is empowering. And sometimes it saves lives.

What has kept me from actually killing myself were people reaching out and listening and also telling me their own darkness so I don’t feel so alone with mine. What has kept my painful past from engulfing me has been to talk about it.

So when you suggest I/we stop talking about mass murderers and bigots and evil politicians I want you to understand what you’re really doing. I want you to understand your complicity with the darkness.

I want you to understand that I don’t give a shit how uncomfortable or tedious it is for you to talk about bad people and bad things and sad things and sad people – or to hear me do it. If you want to choose silence and if you have convinced yourself that if you don’t give evil your attention it will cease to exist – then I will shout even louder to make up for your silence.

Silence and fear and inaction kills people.

Use your fucking voice. And then back your voice up with action whenever you have that opportunity. Say no to racists when you see them discriminating your fellow human beings.

The reason most mass murderers commit mass murders is because at some point they felt they weren’t being heard or respected or that they have been shunned from society. People not recognizing that they were struggling before those struggles became poisonous is why they end up doing it. It isn’t for the sake of fame. They use what tools they can to be heard. Maybe they were mentally ill and didn’t have the help they needed. Or maybe they refused to get the help and no one intervened more seriously. Or maybe they were abused and no one helped them and they felt powerless and so they kill people they think should have noticed they were desperate for help. People not talking and not paying attention and not taking action until much too late is why those killings happen.

So if you want to be part of what created the toxic situation in the first place with your silence and your head in the sand – I’m probably going to stick a huge speaker in your sandcastle of silence and I’m going to blast it to hell with the voices of everyone who’s been abused and killed because people kept the code of silence all abusers and killers rely on to keep doing what they do.

So fuck silence.

I have a voice and it’s not just for saying pretty little things.

It’s for blasting light into the dark.

It’s the hand I reach out to strangers so they know they aren’t suffering alone and they aren’t invisible.

It’s for bringing motherfucking evil to the ground.

Silence is the seal of darkness.

Fuck silence.

Here We Go Again

barren of chamomile

This is how I feel right now: all hard scrabble, dried leaves, and a dirty flattened Q-tip.

Tomorrow my mom goes to Kaiser to get put back together from all the trauma of last summer. There are many reasons why this surgery should not be stressing me out the way it is:

  • It’s not an emergency surgery this time.
  • She’s not getting surgery with a broken back this time.
  • We know about her reaction to the anesthesia and pain killers and that they may need to try alternatives if she starts accusing nurses of setting the hospital on fire.
  • Kaiser does everything internally so there won’t be that head-exploding problem of trying to orchestrate all the different contractors that take care of different things.

I think there are more reasons but I’m having trouble focusing on them at the moment. Resectioning intestines is a pretty high risk surgery even when it’s planned due to risk of infection. They may go in there and find too much scar tissue from last time and not be able to resection her. She knows that’s a possibility. I know it’s a possibility. Because of who I am and the clinical anxiety that’s so hard to wrestle down, I can’t stop thinking about her going through all this only to find they have to close her up and she’ll have to face a lifetime of using a colostomy bag.

Obviously I can’t quite quell the fear that she’s going to die. I made her write a will this week. We talked about what kinds of decisions she wants us to make if things go wrong. Today while cleaning the bathroom I made a mental note to ask her to remind me if she wants to be cremated or something else.

I am the grim reaper.


I have to admit to a certain level of PTSD. This time last year she was in the hospital fighting for her life for a month. I don’t feel over it yet. The whole thing was awful. Not the way death itself is awful but all the not knowing and the paranoid hallucinations, the second emergency surgery, the abscess that formed, becoming obsessed with her white blood cell count, trying to get information from nurses and doctors. It was one long traumatizing nightmare.

Life is constantly reinforcing my anxieties, proving that YES, people can die at any moment and YES, everything can go wrong and YES, you can end up living in a small town in which you don’t belong where -

Oh, hang on, different nightmare. Different PTSD.

I collect PTSD like they’re Pokemon cards.

Life is constantly proving me right. That’s one of the worst things about having clinical anxiety. It just builds and builds because everything you’re afraid of really happens in the world. It doesn’t matter if there’s only a 1% chance it will happen to you.

That person who got killed by a serial killer – do they really give a shit that there was only a .000000001% chance that was going to happen to them? People with anxiety don’t give a chewy monkey’s ass about percentages or statistics. It’s enough that these things that happen to almost no one happen to SOME ONE.

Here’s the best case scenario:

  • She goes in tomorrow morning and they go in and find she doesn’t have too much scar tissue.
  • They resection her and she doesn’t react to the meds.
  • She doesn’t get an infection and she’s discharged in a week.
  • She comes home, we help her recover comfortably.
  • She gets completely back to living a normal life and we all get glass slippers. Or wooden ones that won’t shatter and cut an artery and make us bleed out on the ball room floor.

Cause that could totally happen.

That’s what I need to focus on now. I need to picture that. I need to send energy to that.

I’ll probably be watching Fringe on an endless loop. I’ll be sleeping in mom’s apartment (a unit in the same house as ours) to keep Rosie from getting scared or lonely. I expect to drink a lot of beer for the next few days.

But the minute my mom is on the mend and clear of delicate risk of infection or complications – I’m going temporarily sober again. Another 3 month stint. I have to do it. I can’t start it right now. I need the beer and the constant Fringe episodes. Then I need to get back on track with taking care of myself.

I may be edgier than usual for the next week or two. Please be willing to forgive me if I snap at you or get weird or horribly maudlin.

If you want to read about last summer’s hospitalization:

The Thing About Life

The Remains of The Day

The Longest Night Before The Next Longest Night

Coming Home: Goodbye Room 108 and 107

Dunno, family stuff keep piling up against my night.

Mill Valley exit

About a year ago I looked for a brother of mine online. A brother I’ve never met. A brother who (used to be) estranged from my biological father but who I’ve wanted to know more about. I found someone with his name on facebook. I “friended” him. Sent a message something like this “I think you might be my half brother but if you’re not Adam Szydel’s son, just ignore me” and I never heard back.

Until the week before last when he “friended” me back and confirmed he’s my half brother and said, breezily, that we’ll have to find time to chat at some point.

I constantly feel my family life has an element of surreality. My whole brother, unacknowledged by our mutual father, is such a brilliant artist his work sometimes makes me want to cry but we rarely talk, he’s not a family guy so much. He loves me in an abstract way and I have always loved him viscerally and unconditionally. Still, I don’t call him very often. So who the hell is not the family person?

Turns out my half brother (the one I’ve never met) is a professional photographer. So now I wish to god I could get Zeke and Orion together because Zeke should be a professional photographer.

What the fuck does any of this matter? Brothers don’t really care that much about sisters. Not the way sisters care about each other. Except that my mother’s sister doesn’t give a shit about my mother the way I give a shit about mine.

My mom is going into surgery in less than two weeks and I’m scared. It’s been exactly a year since she was in the hospital fighting for her life. This time my sister won’t be here. My brother probably won’t be here either. Neither of them can afford it, aside from any other considerations. If I had a million dollars I’d fly them both out.

I’d make a great matriarch if I could afford to, you know, take care of everyone.

I don’t want my mother to die. I love her so much.

This is the first time I’m admitting to myself how terrified I am.  How I have so much family and yet so little. What the fuck difference does having family make if they’re never around, if you don’t know half of them, or half of them don’t give a fuck about you?* While my mom was fighting for her life her sister was insisting on selling her only security. Fucking bitch.

Don’t really have faith in family. Yet I love my sister and would house her with my last penny if she needed it, would do the same for my brother, for my dad (the step), for Philip’s brother, for Philip’s father, for my cousins (even though they wouldn’t likely do the same for me). If my two half brothers, almost complete strangers to me, needed my help I’d do what I could for them.

Goddamn it. If my biological asshole father who I’ve disowned was facing homelessness I’d house him too. Fucking careless seed-spreader who doesn’t recognize his own image in my brother**. God, if I could get him to take a paternity test I have 100% confidence in the results.

Old records. Old tunes. Old tropes.

*Not talking about Zeke or Tara.

**The one he spawned just before divorcing my mom to marry my first half brother’s mother.

Every Swear Word Bursting From My Heart With Love


Here he is with the bacon wrapped chicken skewers he and his dad made together. He doesn’t let me take a lot of pictures of him lately but I think he was a little proud of these.

There’s a revolution going on in this house called: TEENAGER. It’s pretty fucking epic and wonderful. I have no idea what awful hormonal dark magic things might possibly be waiting for us around the bend and I’m not going sit around worrying about it. Not right now. Not today. Maybe not tomorrow.* Max decided to cut his hair a couple of weeks ago, grew another half inch, and today he prepared some bacon-wrapped chicken kabobs with his dad for the grill and participated in his first BBQ. I made vegetable kabobs with a satay sauce and he tried summer squash and red pepper dipped in the sauce. He didn’t like the squash but kind of liked the red pepper.

But I didn’t even ask him to try them. He wanted to try the motherfucking*** vegetables of his own volition.


I’m not a very sentimental mom in general. I’ve never been blind to my son’s challenges and how it impacts other people and his own development. He was most honestly and truly a special needs kid. And I think we still may experience some tough shifts as he matures. But I’ve also never withheld honest pride or failed to celebrate the small steps that have brought him from a self harming and socially difficult place to the person he is becoming.

Tonight he sat with us at the table (with dirty dishes of things he didn’t eat!) and ate with us and then he sat and chatted for a little while without imposing his own topic on the whole group – much. At least – not in that vice-grip way he has of bulldozing any conversation he doesn’t find completely engaging he has had for ages. He listened a little bit. We count these things because they matter.


Today was horribly and uncomfortably hot for me but the evening was filled with close friends, my mom, and my son all gathering around a table and eating good food and feeling connected and cared for and enjoying each others’ company.

I know what happens when I notice that my life is perfect – it falls spectacularly apart. So it’s a good thing I’m struggling so hard with my writing and carving out a career as a novelist for myself. If I’m not struggling, the universe is plotting how it can trip me with a thread so I fall in the alligator-infested swamp with a bunch of motherfucking apathetic canoeing slow-eyed masochists the chance to beat me down with their oars.

There are a thousand things that can go wrong right now. Two minutes from now. I’ve become so superstitious between experience and mental illness that I’m ridiculously cautious about saying:

I’m happy. Right now. This minute. Perfect. Tonight was perfect.

Go ahead and find out how digestible those alligators find my foul mouth. My gristle is ready for those toothy clowns.


*That’s right motherfucker! This middle aged anxiety disorder has got her disorder by the throat!**

**Just kidding, anxiety, no need to give me a heart attack tomorrow morning.

***All these “motherfucker”s are of a joyous nature but so emphatic that no other expression will do. I think most of you who have been following the Max adventures long enough will forgive for all the bombs tonight. ?