Tag: childhood

In Which Saponification is as Magical as Dragons


(I’m 14 years old here. In my gold lame jacket and feeling very ABC)

There are so many sentiments a large enough percentage of my peers share with each other that I don’t that I inevitably feel like I’m looking into their lives from a dark shadow in the shrubbery outside with my night-vision goggles on. When I talk about these things I don’t understand, I can feel peers feeling either pity for me or judgement from me. There is cause for neither. But there’s no question I am uncomfortable in the world I live in and always have been.

These things scratch at my brain like tree branches in a wild storm. It hurts, but not in a way I can ever adequately describe. I don’t want to be like everyone else, I want them to see like ME. There are a number of things that make me feel painfully otherly.

One the the most recurring themes is the penchant adults have for worshiping what they see as the innocence and magic of childhood. I used to think people worshiped childhood because they had great childhoods full of wonders and things mine wasn’t filled with. I believed that only people who were allowed to fully be children could be nostalgic for childhood. That people like me who had never really been allowed to have a childhood free of responsibility and grim reality were the only ones who couldn’t understand the cult of youth. But then I noticed that people with equally difficult and responsibility laden childhoods often worshiped this ideal of youth they’d never experienced for themselves and I reasoned that it was because they were longing for a thing denied them. But tonight I saw a little further into the living room window of the myth of the magical childhood:

That free-wheeling tree-climbing smug club of superior living and supposedly free thinking and dreaming that adults abandon in order to follow rules, lose all magic, and  pretty much die. Apparently.

I’ve got such messy thoughts about all of this. Thoughts that may not make a lot of sense. Thoughts I haven’t vetted for cleverness or approval.

The first is that you don’t lose anything with adulthood that you aren’t tacitly in agreement with losing. If you feel less magic in the world because you started taking on responsibility then it’s your laziness or willfulness that has let magic go.

(I say this as a person who doesn’t believe in fairies or dragons but who believes absolutely in the everyday magic of natural science as well as inexplicable beauty and wonderful weirdness)

You only lose in adulthood what you are complicit in losing. If you lose your sense of wonder then you didn’t have that much wonder to begin with or you didn’t value it enough to hold onto it as you grew. Can’t have been that great if you let it go with the onset of adult ambitions and responsibility.

I just said the same thing twice because I think that first thing is possibly the ONLY important thing.

People talk about innocence. I never had that. Sure, I was a virgin until I was 17 years old. If that’s what you mean by “innocence” then Lord have mercy on all you people. I knew all about sex and what it looks like in reality and what it actually MEANS when I was – I can’t remember a time I didn’t understand about sex. If by innocence you mean that you weren’t aware of the real horrors in this world – you’re fucking fooling yourself. Children are super aware of the horrors of the world, they are sensitive to it in ways adults become immune by exposure. That’s why they see monsters everywhere. THERE ARE MONSTERS EVERYWHERE. They just don’t know the specifics yet of the very real danger they’re sensing so they come up with creative explanations for it. But in the end it’s not cute or quaint, that childhood explanation for horrors they feel but can’t name with newspaper headlines. Adults just want to believe that kids don’t know shit.

Let me tell you, I know kids. Yes, me, the person who doesn’t treasure the thought of spending any time I don’t have to with children, I UNDERSTAND CHILDREN. We get each other. Sometimes I think it’s because I must have never stopped being a child in some way. But the truth is that children aren’t innocent magical beings full of endless joy and love. They live a confusing existence in which they know EVERYTHING by instinct but don’t have the words for any of it yet. If you talk to kids like they’re adults they still GET YOU. In fact, I swear they love you and cling to you for talking to them like they’re simply other humans instead of precious vessels of adult wishful dreaming. I’m not making this shit up. Call me a kid savant. Whatever. I will never seek out the company of children because I’m not interested in watching my language or trying to preserve their parents misguided desire to perpetuate beliefs in ridiculous and often creepy crap like Santa Claus when there’s so much real cool stuff to celebrate like the existence of such things as platypuses.

Kids love me. They always have. Because I don’t keep up weird pretenses with them. They’re sharp humans with just as much of a capacity for suffering and love as adults but with fewer experiences and words to help them articulate their feelings. It’s fucking frustrating.

My son has had a loving and somewhat sheltered childhood with no abuse and he is just like me. He’s never had a moment’s innocence. I tried protecting him from harsh reality and thoughts but he already knew about kidnapping and sex and murder and death and suicide by the time he was 3. These are things I tried so hard to shelter him from because I was so unsheltered as a kid but he taught me that some of us, if not most of us, are born knowing most things on a primal level.

I hear so many adults talk like being an adult kills their sense of wonderment and imagination. A dear friend was talking about this tonight and, as usual, it brought up such a visceral sense of disconnect for me. That I’m alien to this experience and thinking. I have exactly the same amount of imagination now as I did when I was a child. I have exactly the same amount of curiosity and sense of wonderment at things now as I did as a kid. In fact, I believe it has become greater, sharper, and richer as I’ve aged. Knowing MORE, learning MORE, and experiencing MORE has increased my sense of excitement and wonder. I have an incredibly curious mind that is constantly exploring ideas, thinking up the most ridiculous and/or creepy questions and thoughts. The more I know, the more questions I have, the more I want to know and explore.

When I was a child I was hindered by a sense of powerlessness and the darkness of my life got in the way of this supposed freedom others experience in childhood. But as I was emancipated from my parents and I began to meet the world on my own terms I was also free to explore it in earnest. I was free to think thoughts I was too afraid to think when I was young. I was free to do with myself as I pleased and that agency allowed so much more power and creativity in my viewpoints and my experiences than I ever had as a kid or a teen.

As a mentally ill person I am frequently grappling an appalling darkness in my own body and mind but even this cannot shake my innate curiosity and enjoyment of exploration of thought and the world. I am freer than children. I am freer than adults who are nostalgic for childhood.

There is nothing you let go of as you reach adulthood that you aren’t complicit in letting go of from your childhood. If you’re not feeling more free as an adult than you did as a child then it’s you who are setting yourself limits on what you can achieve and do and think and imagine. The one thing that responsibilities like having a family and a job do is limit your time. That might make free-thinking and creativity harder to harness (understandably so!) but that’s a function of the choices you make as an adult and not the fundamental limitations of age.

My mind is completely free. I can’t share half of it out loud because the world, and YOU, can’t handle it. But there is no thought I’m unwilling to explore. No impossibilities. I see magic in the ordinary and I believe that if you can’t see magic in the ordinary then all the things you think you miss and love about childhood have already been wasted on you.


Portrait of a Young Writer Sitting With Old Men

report shooting

I could have sat in that one spot forever, watching the buses steam up and unload dazed tired people onto the stained pavement and then roar into gear again, full of exotic promise bound to drop down disappointment on necrotic livers and wasted chances. I could have sat in that one spot forever breathing deep the odors of nicotine and thin coffee, jackets smelling of fifty year old must and fresh baked cookies. It was warm. It was where I belonged more than any other place. The small town terminal was like a travel agency for the heroine of a depressing novel in which the whole of the lonely earth is opened wider than the mouth of hell and is revealed to be much worse. I belonged in the mouth of hell and I wasn’t scared.

I spent hours in those orange seats clutching my romance novels close to my chest, hardly remembering buying them next door at the used paperback book store, hardly feeling them in my hands because I was busy living in the moment. I was busy blending in with old men. There was plenty of time yet to determine my own direction, to get on the damn bus and get the hell out of dodge. There was plenty of time yet to have my heart more broken, my eyes pinned open by a poverty of power so frightening I would never close them again. There was plenty of time to join my peers in a mad tangle of hoping and dreaming and sighing for an empty brand of love that shines in the morning light and casts dark shadows before dusk.

I recognized the crossroads for what they were. I came to watch the same parade of lost souls coming home, leaving home, never staying home. They stepped down gingerly, always clutching the rail as though it could give a more ephemeral courage than simply get them to the street whole, and they took a deep breath. They took that deep breath every damn time like they’d been holding it for weeks. Or years. They never looked excited like people getting off a plane. They looked like I’d felt my whole short life: like they slow-burned through time in a painful parade of small and large abuses of the flesh and heart until the flesh is turned grey and flaccid with it.

I took it all in with the old men, lost in the exact same reflections on life that inevitably connect the young and old if they’re alive to anything at all. I took mental notes. I stored up the smells and the sounds because I knew they would help me stay alive later when it would be the hardest to find reason. I sat there in my misfit clothes and my unfortunate haircut and the old men never stared or judged or pushed me out like the young people did. All they wanted was to drink coffee out of small Styrofoam cups all day and make the occasional quip to each other about neighbors and sports. All I wanted was to sit where no one was screaming or pushing or hating me. We wanted the same thing. It never once occurred to me to wonder if the ticket salesperson cared that we all kept their customer seats warm while going nowhere, buying nothing, and silently watching the crumpled parade of their real customers shuffle through the stop.

None of the Pieces Match

killer van

I wish everything in life could be reduced to an equation that ends in fruit pie.

Instead, I orchestrate my life carefully to resemble an easy jig-saw puzzle confusing everyone who approaches my board so they never discover that none of the pieces match and most of them are bruised anyway.

I’m the first carnivorous plant that feeds on its own flesh.

I’m the first moth killed by the shadow of its own wings.

I gave all my secrets to a bay tree when I was a kid. I gave it all my tears and shudders of shock. I shouted my nightmares into its leaves, slick with rain, reflecting the last light of my soul. Storms were born in that canopy of sharp herbaceous scented leaves. Storms railed and burnt out in its branches.

Sometimes I think that’s where I left myself.

I wonder if the course of my life would be perverted if that tree were ever cut down.

This Post Apocalyptic World


The last two weeks have been heavy, strange, and emotional. I feel like I’ve been slowly returning to the wild.

Quite aside from everything else I’ve experienced the unexpected adventure in cooking bacon. BACON. I have put my hands on sliced dead pig and baked it and then later dealt with the solidified pig fat when cleaning the baking sheet. I’m not kidding when I tell you that I nearly throw up every time I face that stuff. I can’t divorce myself from my love for living pigs and when I see that weird yellow sluggish stinky viscous fat I always wonder if it’s anything like human fat would be. I think I do this to apologize to the pig who lost. I am making bacon for Max. I invented a mini-baked potato dish he loves that involves crumbled bacon. I’ve made it every single day of this week. This I do for my son  but wouldn’t do for anyone else unless they were on their death bed. One of the things that makes it okay is that I know how much he appreciates how tough it is for me to handle meat.

I have a serious carnivore for a son and I’m determined his needs be met.

But , BACON?! Seriously, I’m making BACON?!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ferguson is still happening. Because it’s always happening for black Americans every day of the year.

Max is settling into his new school routine.

And then there’s the fact that money is super tight. I haven’t gone on a vacation for years and had a wonderful one planned for this November to meet up with some writer friends in Colorado. I haven’t cancelled my hotel reservation because some part of me refuses to give up hope yet. What has become clear is that I either have to get a part time job outside the home or I have to make money on my own stuff. The same old situation I’ve been facing for years off and on. Well, I decided I don’t want to get a job outside my home because nothing sounds more depressing than that.

The difficulty is that I am bored to tears making my old apron pattern and pot holders and if I have to make things for a living I want to be making things I can get excited about. First off I listed my triple strength wound salve inspired by Cricket’s work as an apothecary. I have first aid kits I’m working on too. I listed my salves and sold 4 in one day to friends.

I’m working with a post apocalyptic theme. It interests me enough that I wrote a whole novel about it. A favorite family game is planning for a zombie apocalypse. Some of the greatest joys in my life are skills that everyone will need to survive an apocalypse.

I have been re-designing my Etsy shop to be a post apocalyptic shop inspired by my novel “Winter; Cricket and Grey”. I’ve gotten so excited that I’ve even gone back to working on book 2 of Cricket and Grey.

I’ve been working on some recycled smock/sundress projects and designing entire wardrobes to go with them and all of this led up to a revelation I had today.

I have had only two professional ambitions in my life. Writing novels and being a fashion designer.

I have, as discussed endlessly in other posts, failed at making a living doing either. My experience in fashion design is solid, however. In all the ways I tackled the field I succeeded. I was an excellent shipping manager at Weston Wear. I was a great design assistant and swatcher at Mulberry Neckwear. I made incredible quality costumes when I was Autumn Adamme’s partner.  Then I made beautiful quality aprons and charged completely reasonable prices for them and got paid about $3.00 an hour for my work.

But I have never designed and sold my own clothing designs.

I am designing a micro Post Apocalyptic wardrobe.  I’m excited about it. I don’t believe this is going to become my new career. I want to be writing books – but I’m excited because doing this exercises skills and passions I have had for as long as I’ve had the passion and love for writing. I do believe that I can make enough to help us out of financial holes for a while with this work. But most of all I’m excited to do both of the things I was born to do at the same time.

My mom needs surgery to fix a hernia and rectus abdominis separation. It’s elective but it seems the preferable choice to waiting to see if her hernia gets stuck and creates an emergency surgery situation. I’m not scared like I was the last time because the surgeon called her young and healthy enough for this to be her best option. Risks that this surgery will end up causing a need for other surgeries is very real, but he called her young and healthy not more than 20 minutes after she commented on how watching Max mature so quickly reminded her of her imminent death.

I can’t emphasize enough how weird it is to see my baby develop a shadow mustache.

My sister is about to leave for Vermont for two years. I just went to La Rosa happy hour with her and as always find myself amazed at what she’s shown herself to be capable of and laughing with her is such a high point in my life. When cleaning my office the other day I found this wonderful little booklet she made me just when I started realizing how lucky I was to have her in my life (I was 17) instead of resentful of her because she is the most wonderful baby girl two parents can have together and I never was that wonderful child. I will never take that book she hand wrote off my shelf to live in a box of scruffy memories because every time I see it it reminds me how much I love this woman who has the same(ish)  blood running in her veins and wears so many of the same family wounds that I do. We may have always experienced the same things differently, but I’ve known Tara since I was 5 1/2 years old and I spent a lot of time caring for her like a mother before I rejected her as a sister like the asshole I am.

Fuck, I’m getting maudlin now.

Depression and anxiety are fucking bitches.

Nigel Lythgoe called suicide “stupid” in the last So You Think You Can Dance episode. On behalf of all my people – fuck you Nigel! Try to understand, try just a little harder to understand that there isn’t a better tomorrow for everyone. Try to understand the demons that haunt some people and that suicide is sometimes the most honorable way to lose battle with depression because sometimes sticking around is more humiliating and torturous and painful than leaving with some scrap of dignity and power.

Thinking today about my own capacity to maintain an open mind. Thinking about how much harder that was when I lived in McMinnville. Thinking about how I crossed the line into religious bigotry – something I didn’t know I was capable of until I moved there and my son was bullied for being unreligious. Thinking about the friends I made online while living there who have ended up being great lights to me spiritually, helping me to see how loving and open minded Christians can be and who have, without intending it (I believe) made me such a better person for their faith and their kindness and open heartedness. Robin and Elizabeth particularly come to mind. Always challenging me to think hard about what I say and believe about religious people, not because they actually challenge me but because who they are inspires me to be a better version of myself.

Robin has been a great support to me for so long, she loves Jesus and it allows her to love fellow human beings who swear like motherfuckers but who are otherwise trying to live by very similar moral rules that Jesus would like us all to live by. There is no moment I joke about religion or criticize it that I don’t first think about her and ask myself – is this crossing a line that Robin would feel pain over? She knows I’m an atheist and that I make fun of religion and take the lord’s name in vain and she’s okay with those things (none of them have shaken her from my side, at least) but she is in my mind every single time I propose to say something expansive about religion or politics that might include her. Because I love Robin so much.

Elizabeth is the same – (close friend to my beloved Pam Kitty Morning) – a woman who has somehow followed my online life for years and there have been times when she’s spoken up to say how harsh I sound in my political passion – she calls me on being mean and being unfair – which I certainly am sometimes. I listen to her because she is another woman who loves Jesus but never pushes him on others and uses that love to direct her own actions rather than to judge others with it. But she isn’t afraid to call people on their shit sometimes and I deeply respect that. Been thinking a lot about Elizabeth in the last few days, but especially today.

Then there’s Diane L. too. A long time reader of my blog who is kind and supportive who took some exception to my most recent post about the Ferguson situation. Completely fair commentary with a different view than I presented.

All of these women who have such different perspectives than I do keep sticking to me, my atheist swearing self, my challenging thoughts and all. I feel rich with great women in my life. So many women holding me up high when I feel myself sinking low. So many great women to keep my ego in check so that I can become the person I really want to be.

I have so many other incredible women supporting me too. Writers, my three IRL friends I’ve been hanging with for 8, 14, and 22 years, and BlogHer ladies.

I am rich. Not with money, but with supportive incredible friends.

There’s no denying I’m not much of a catch of a relative or friend in some ways – deeply flawed, broken, funky, fat,  but I’ll tell you all this: I make the best fucking garlic pickles. My sister will confirm this. I make great food. I’ll feed you. I write really well and I write the truths I know even when they’re ugly, scary, or shameful. I’ll say what everyone else is afraid to say. I do this for me, for you, for everyone. But mostly for me.

Mostly for me.

I once buried a cigarette with mint jelly.

That proves everything you ever needed to prove about me.