Blog

Fiction - Crying as a Family

Our reality is so much more painful when all of your human emotions are amplified by the ghosts that pass that knowledge through you.  You thought that conversation about starting your period was hard enough, wait until you can tell Uncle Niall things his doctor doesn't know.  

Read More

Naughty Fiction Because I'm Not Handing Out Halloween Candy. 

The fall leaves in shades of decay blew haphazardly around her as she stood wrapped in a bulky sweater that was almost a bathrobe.  The bright sun warmed her skin, but was unable to scorch her flesh like it would have just months before.  She could feel the weight of lust calling for her and it settled low in her belly with a twist and groan she couldn’t control.  The need burned in her veins and she couldn’t wait any longer.  Shoulders squared and settling into her posture of power, she stepped forward into the authority of the task she was born to fulfill. She walked into the coffee shop and the smell of coffee with the thick sounds of burdened metal, heavy, hissing . . . frothing milk couldn’t mask the immediate attention she felt from every person in the small shop with old faded wood and bright blue Fiestaware decor.  The smell of the shop masked the smells of the rose oil, fresh marjoram and basil that made her smell like she spent all day in the garden.

She saw him before he saw her.  He was sitting alone with a mug of tea in his hands and a day weary slouch that spoke of stress, disappointment and anxieties crashing solidly over and through him.  His phone was face down next to him, like he didn’t want to know who would need him, but was too obligated to his duties to disregard his electronic leash entirely.  She could see he just ran a race and came out the winner, unaware of what he was running for.  There was little value in his accomplishments.

She stood in line to order her coffee.  Walking slowly, to see him watching her, she stood at the island and added cream and sugar.  He was still watching her with sidelong glances so she made her way to his table and stood before him.  He looked up at her, mouth slightly agape, not understanding why she would be right in front of him when there were several empty chairs at lonely tables.

“Do you mind if I join you? There’s something about your face that feels like home and this city feels so . . . “

“Isolating,” he finished.

She ran a hand through her loose auburn curls and said, “yeah, and big.  I feel small and sometimes it helps to be next to a solid person instead of isolated in the glass screen of my phone.”

His eyes and a nod gave her permission and she pulled her chair out, settling in and closer to him than the chair originally sat. They enjoyed the silence and she made a show of blowing on her huge mug of coffee that looked like it could have been a small bowl of soup and sipped carefully while he assessed her.  She could see his energy rebirthed in the power of her gaze.  He was no longer slouching in defeat, but sitting up and thinking of the best way to ask her out.  It wasn’t like business.  In his office, he is an embodiment of control.  He commands it and it’s surrendered easily.  This little kitten just wandered over and he was worried about pushing her.

“I’m Charlie,” he said as he leaned toward her.

“The pleasure is mine, Charles.” It was a confession uttered into her cup and it couldn’t mask her blush.  That delicious color in her cheeks conjured darker images for poor Charlie and She could sense it. He began to smile stupidly, unaware of the sorrow it brought her.

She rested her mug on the table and curled her right leg under her as she began to flip and twist her hair into a messy bun, feeling his gaze appreciate the press and stretch of her blouse against her breasts.  She waited until he was looking at her face, and smiled at him before saying, “I’m Brielle.  How cold is your tea?”

“It’s a bit icy.  You’re perceptive,” he said.  He hadn’t even noticed it had gotten cold on him until just before she stood before him.

“My coffee is too hot, and I really don’t need the caffeine.  Were you busy? I wouldn’t mind hanging out and not sipping this over-roasted brew while we do it.”

He looked at her, realizing he didn’t have to ask her out.  He finally saw that she had chosen him.  He looked at her petite frame and long legs and knew she would follow him to his place.  Without a word, he reached for her hand and paused long enough to feel how small it was in his hand before leading her down the street to his house.

 

Once inside, Brielle slowly removed her sweater and let it fall to the floor.  She could see the look on his face shift from an excited little boy, to anticipatory fear.  She could feel his emotions flooding through him and he was about to lose his nerve.

“So tell me about what you do when you aren’t sitting in coffee shops, smiling at lonely girls,” she asked.  Carefully, she unwound her hair from the bun it was in and set her hair free over her shoulders.

“I’m in finance. Acquisitions,” he shrugged his shoulders and she licked her lips.

“So you play with important things and you take what you want.  Sounds fun.  I can get into that idea,” she said.  She could see his uncertainty shift with the talk of his work and she pressed on. “I bet you’re the one in charge too, aren’t you?  I could see you telling people what to do.  I could see people eager to please you.” Not here, she thought. “Does it ever get old? Do you ever want to give up that control?” And just as quickly, he was lost in her gaze, not knowing he was losing to her power.

In the moment of his hesitation, she stepped toward him in a kiss of exploration that slowly took more than he gave. His balance shifted and he began to sway in her arms. She wrapped herself around him and her right hand slipped up to run curious fingers through his hair, only to grab a fistful, snapping his head back and exposing his neck for a gentle nip of grazing teeth. Her left hand lightly scratched his shirt in a hungry grasp so she could feel the muscles of his chest. She was grateful for the hair she felt because she couldn't understand the concept of manscaping. She wanted to see his skin and feel the hair all over his body. He was glorious in his response to her.

He stupidly forced her hand to his rising reaction and she stepped back, washing him in the cold of the room without her touching his skin.

"Sorry love, this isn't your board room.  You get to pay for your naughtiness here. Hands and knees. I want you to show me you know how to be the dog you are."

He watched her in silent obedience as she kicked off her boots, and slowly unzipped her jeans. She removed her shirt, slowly. . . Button by button, exposing the satin bodysuit she wore underneath.

"Don't look at me. You don't have permission. Not until I make you my bitch."  She rested a bare foot between his shoulder blades and the action was met with his sharp intake of breath. She felt powerful.

"This is so hot. I can't believe-"

"Shut up, Charles. No one asked and I really don't care."

She kneeled behind him and mounted his body like a dominant dog, and thrusted him solidly against herself, holding him by the hips. At his moan of acquiescence, she slapped his butt, grabbing a handful before a second slap and stood up.  She told him to strip to nothing. He obeyed quickly, nervously.

In his nakedness, she pulled him in for a deeper kiss, unleashing the power of a famished succubus, draining him with each kiss, mounting his body and riding him . . . leaving bite marks and kissing bruises into his flesh before leaving him desiccated and frail, but happy.

Happy Halloween.

Does Writing Make a Writer?

It's not a simple idea for me to own being a writer.  I never wanted to be a writer.  It wasn't something that was ever who I am or in my bones.  I didn't breathe in every moment knowing this is who I am.  It just happens.  Words come out.  It feels better. I was a scientist once.  There was a moment when the world in perfect excellence shattered for me and I was a scientist.  I fell deeply in love with Geology and I wanted to be a rock doctor.  I wanted to climb mountains and camp along active volcanoes and wear that big, shiny suit to take measurements.  I wanted to pick up and analyze rocks.  I wanted to weigh and measure and even bite dirt to see what the grains felt like.  I was a scientist. And I still stick rocks in my pocket.

To know me is to think of me with every sensory caress of the ocean; every rock that looks special; every butterfly that floats by.

Being a scientist at the time didn't really take in the needs of a young family.  I couldn't leave my family for field trips to study the earth and really thought about taking them with me.  I didn't have the security of knowing that I could leave and their Dad could run the house.  This sounds harsh, but if you think about my first childbirth, it makes sense.  I had Kid1.  My ex got food poisoning and when I got home from the hospital, I had to make my own dinner.  I hit the ground running from that moment on.  I'd be hospitalized, and get home with laundry waiting for me.  I wasn't allowed to lift a laundry basket and my help looked like someone willing to carry the laundry basket to and from the laundry room, but I was still on my own for everything else.  I couldn't see leaving my family to study the earth as an option.

Then there was the math.  I struggled with math in the 3rd grade when I was suppoed to be memorizing multiplication tables.  It wasn't just the math. It was at a time when I was sitting at a desk next to a boy that kept touching my legs and wanting to explore grown things.  I was curious too.  My teacher never noticed. I was not at all focused on math.  Not having that foundation, I struggled.  By the time I got through college level algebra with 2 kids and one on the way, it started to look impossible.  I was facing chemistry, calculus, and physics, and it seemed impossible when I had to fit homework in after my family fell asleep.  I imagined getting through with really bad grades and I wanted better.  I wanted an easier major.  I was no longer a scientist, but I fell into being an english major.

English and literature were easier for me.  I loved reading from the time I would steal my sister's trashy bodice ripping romance novels.  I loved literary porn from the 8th grade, not realizing how much I was warping my ideals of love and romance and real relationships.  I got older and had  a family of my own and would spend hours reading books as an escape.  Some days I would read 3 novels in a day, forgetting to eat, and barely feeding my family.  The housework would sit.  I was in bed reading, while my ex was watching television, and it was okay to run away without leaving.

When I was in the 10th grade I started keeping a journal.  It started after a breakup and became a place to pour out all of my darkness.  I would write and forget about what was bothering me.  That first journal was full of terrible men jokes.  When I got married, at first I thought it was okay to share everything, so I did.  When you share what is hurting you in a way where it was written only for you, it can look hurtful and mean, even if that was never the intention.  I began keeping my journal to myself, but the new boundary was never honored.  I stopped writing.  At one point, I had several entries a day and it was a cleansing ritual.  It became sporadic.  I remember writing an entry after a 4 year gap.  I would write for healing, but it was covered in shame. Then it was hidden, because I couldn't own how I felt.

In the months where I was still trying to save my marriage, I destroyed and threw away over 20 years of journals.  This was at a time when I couldn't write.  I was trying to write creatively, and I couldn't string together a paragraph.  I felt like my writing killed my marriage and I couldn't get it out because I was so broken.  I tried starting a new journal. I wanted it to be new and not include the dark, but more optimism.  It was easier to not write. I tried writing a story and got bored while writing.  Why would anyone want to read what I'm too bored to write?

In February of this year I started blogging here.  It was free therapy.  My words made me feel better.  It was more positive because bashing people isn't what I want to do and knowing the words are for someone else means I am held accountable by faceless numbers of blog hits and subscriptions.

But I still haven't stepped into being a writer.  I blog.  It's a hobby.  My Dad identifies himself as a writer, and I never liked what that looked like to me.  He was writing and I wanted to snuggle.  His dreams came with disappointment. Writers are made for rejection.  It becomes great material. I think that's why I'm in love with falling in love and my superficial crushes mean more to me than the men actually did.  It might be why I still refer to them as boys.

One day I might call myself a writer.  Today I own the fact that the words I string together can be compelling.  Much like a train wreck. It's enough.

How I Look and Cooking

I was having a moment of insecurity this morning.  I was wearing a dress, because I wanted to, but in my lounge, then rush out the door, I didn’t look in the mirror.  Most days I don’t really care, but as I was rubbing lotion into my dry legs, I just couldn’t.  In the parking lot at work, I went to the trunk of my car and pulled out my emergency pair of jeans and t-shirt.  I got dressed in the front seat of my car and had a moment of laughter because it reminded me of my entire adolescence. I’m wearing this and not sure how comfortable I am in it either.  I may go back out the car and change again.  I haven’t decided. The jeans are shorter than I like.  I like my denim to be Victorian and cover my ankles.  The shirt is a blue and white tie dye.  I loved the way it reminded me of decades past, but wearing it in public? Not so much. Especially when a quick glance in office lighting tells you what color my bra is.  I need to update my trunk wardrobe so I feel confident, in another wardrobe emergency.

The lesson here? If you wouldn’t love it every day, it shouldn’t be your emergency clothing.  How does that apply to cooking?

Lesson 1: If it’s not good enough on its own, it’s not good enough in emergencies or as a foundation.

In cooking, I might deglaze a pan after searing meat with a dry red wine.  Or if I’m making beef stew or marinating carne asada, I use beer. You don’t cook with something you wouldn’t drink.  Bad ingredients can only make a bad meal.  If you don’t want to drink your wine, don’t cook with it.  If I’m using beer that has gluten in it, it won’t be worth the taste if I’m begging for death because of an unhappy belly.

Lesson 2: Don’t over crowd your pan.

Cooking anything often requires the right temperature and the space for your heating surface to do the job.  We want space so a sear doesn’t become a sauté. We need space to give what’s cooking a moment to enjoy the heat.

In fashion to me, this means parts are covered while something else is exposed.  A long and conservative dress begs for strappy heels.  If I’m showing off my décolletage, I’m covering up my legs.  If my legs are being showcased, I’m wearing a high neckline.

Lesson 3: Only sausage needs to be stuffed.

Often when stuffing pork chops or chicken breasts, I will pound and beat out the meat I’m using so it’s thinner and keep the stuffing on the light side.  I use medium heat that has had time to get to the right temperature because I want it to cook all the way through without over drying the outside.  It means cooking takes more time, and I’m intentional with what I do. I won’t wear underwear that is meant to make me feel like a stuffed sausage so my body looks a certain way.  If I don’t do that to a spinach and cheese beef roulade, why would I do that to my body? Sausage is made for being stuffed into a tight skin.

Lesson 4: Creaming

When wearing makeup, you want to blend.  You want soufflé foundations to melt into your skin, but not be so thick it could melt right off.  You want shadows that dance so closely, you can’t tell where one shade ends and the next begins. Moisturizer is important. Healthy skin is more important when makeup skills like mine are at play. 

I bake my cheesecakes.  I get the cream cheese to room temperature, and I will beat in eggs, sugar and vanilla.  By the time I’m done, you can’t differentiate what is in it because it is all the same consistency and texture.  It bakes and requires patience to cool.  If you’ve ever been impatient in waiting for a hot cheesecake to cool, you understand how horrible that can be.  You want the same patience in blending foundation into your skin, going past your chin and along your neck.  Like cheesecake, that much make up on me is rare.

Lesson 5: Lumps

Honor your lumps!

In pancakes or cornbread, I will often sift the dry ingredients before adding them to the wet ingredients.  It’s a quick mix that just incorporates everything because overmixing won’t give you fluffy breads. Over mixing makes it dense and tough.

A woman’s body is made for lumpy bits. I hate wearing a belt, but when it matters, cinching my waist enhances my bustling and flatters my hips. My hair doesn’t look as great stick straight as it does with the natural bounce and body of a good wave or girly curls.

Lesson 6: The mystery you don’t want to know.

Sometimes you just don’t need to know what goes into it.  When I make tamales, I use Lard.  I use cleaned animal fat because that’s where the flavor is.  I use the unhealthy fat because that’s how I learned how to make tamales.

When I’m wearing clothes, you don’t need to see my bra.  There are really cute bralettes that are designed to be seen, but they don’t carry them in my size.  (Thank you for that endowment, Mom and Nanny.) When I wear a shirt, I want to be sure that my bra can’t be seen. There are amazing advances in lingerie that include strapless and convertible bras.  I own a couple of corsets but can’t wear them without help.  These are designed to be worn under clothes or alone, but that doesn’t mean I should wear them out.

Lesson 7: A time and a place for everything.

I have absolute moments of food joy.  I have been known to whip up a quick Hollandaise in the blender before work and bring the rest of my goodies with me to assemble an eggs benedict at my desk.  This is not the same meal I would ever take to the beach.  Beach food is often cut fresh fruit, crudités, chips and drinks.    Small, manageable, and not requiring cutlery.

You want your clothes to match your adventure.  I’m all for spontaneity, but bowling in a mini skirt is not nearly as fun as it sounds.  Walking along a jetty in stilettos can be real torture. Wear the clothes you need for your adventure.

Lesson 8: Get Creative

It's easy to get stuck in routine where the same outfit and accessories feel like home. Change it up. The beauty of not wearing a jumpsuit all the time is that your tops are not married to your bottoms. I don't often wear dresses or skirts to work because comfortable to me often looks like man spreading and it's not very lady like. 

In food, this means I was hugely surprised when I swapped vanilla for almond extract in my French Toast. Smoked Gouda and dates was a whim that became a staple. I used to love cheddar popcorn and chocolate and one day swapped the cheddar popcorn for spicy chips. It was good. 

Lesson 9: Be flexible

Sometimes I'll start with something but it might change.  I recently bought a pound of ground pork and the same amount of ground beef, but instead of making the meat loaf my kids weren't in the mood for, I made country fried steaks and used the ground meat for potsticker filling that used rice paper instead of wonton wrappers.  It made me happy.  It made the boys happy.

I don’t always care about fashion, but these things are in the back of my mind when I get dressed most days.  I ignore what my mood tells me to and stick to what feels right. And the bra being seen through my shirt . . . Yeah, I’m slapping that dress back on.

Cravings

In 1998 or 1999 there was a boy.  It's always about a boy.  There's a phrase for boys like him now, but back then he was just Lenny.  He was the first of several boys that liked me less than I liked them and I was the puppy.  I couldn't drop my toy, and I was happy to lay on my back for belly rubs from anyone wanting to play with me.  Every time I saw him, his kisses had this taste that I couldn't place.  It wasn't quite beer or hard liquor.  It wasn't really cigarettes.  It was beer and cigarettes.  By the time I figured out what it was (because we never talked enough for me to ask him), I wanted the taste of that kiss more than I wanted him.  I started smoking and by the time I figured out how to inhale, not cough and enjoy the feeling of oxygen deprivation that felt like being light headed, it was an addiction. The few times I wanted to quit, I'd see a cessation commercial and it would remind me that I hadn't had a cigarette in a while.  I would wake up and smoke, go to bed and smoke, eat and smoke, exercise and smoke (I used to sweat willingly), have a cold with a nasty cough and sore throat and smoke. My kid sister would steal my cigarettes and snap them in half or run water over them.  She loved me.  I may have hurt her for that.  In early 2000, I would buy 3 packs of Marlboro cigarettes a day, with an occasional pack of Black and Milds, or Djarums if I was in the mood.  I was a friendly smoker, often sharing my smokes with anyone that would ask.  Cigarette for cigarette, I would smoke about 40 to 50 cigarettes a day, spending about $15 a day on cigarettes. When I quit it was for the idea of having a family and it was very close to cold turkey.  I quit smoking for my ex and the kids I saw in our future when I looked into his eyes.   Cheesy but true.

In the last few weeks I've started craving cigarettes.  It's crazy, because I haven't been a smoker for over a decade and a half (yes, I know my old is showing). There were rebellious times when I would buy a pack and sneak a smoke here and there when we'd fight and we were in our first apartment in North Hollywood.  It was always when I was angry at my ex and trying to gain a little control.  My actions tried to express that I'm a grown up and I can hide and smoke a cigarette because I'm a grown up.  Let's ignore the smell, and the taste. Let's pretend that pharmacies won't even sell cigarettes anymore because of how bad they are.

My sister and her husband and my other brother in law have cigars from time to time.  I've had two cigars in the last month or so.  I've also been burning incense at home. It's a place holder, because what I've been craving are clove cigarettes.

I don't want to be a smoker again.  It's the feelings around smoking that make a smoke break sound right.  I feel the familiar feeling of rejection and longing that feel like I did the whole time I was a smoker and only dated fuck boys (before there was a cute name for them). There are people that will smoke while at a bar on weekends only.  It's the same idea.  They are used to having a cigarette while sipping a cocktail and the two go together.

I'm not broken like I was when my marriage fell apart.  It's not like my crush on Mr. Hot and Visually Pleasing.  That was never going anywhere and I never fell into the trap of his scent and looking forward to spending time together with engaging conversations and sweet smiles. It's this feeling of "I really want this . . . It's not right . . . I need to let go . . . but why can't I stop obsessing."  I'm not just waiting.  I'm meeting and rejecting people like I did before I met my latest crush.  He's still a great guy. He's not like anyone I've dated before. I'm recognizing where I am and with him, I never offered complete transparency.  I didn't give him my full authenticity.  I might be slightly pickier than I was right before him and entirely selective compared to where I was as a smoker. I might enjoy turning down dates a little less than before. I've found my compassion through him. I'm working on being less intimidating but it's not easy when I keep thinking, "turn down for what?" Aside from the men in front of me being entertaining, I keep looking at the man behind me and I feel unease.  I crave what is not for me and that feeling makes me want a cigarette to go along with my dysfunction.

This feeling is so dangerous because it's so familiar.  It's easy to fall into patterns that feel the same as something else once did.  I notice what I couldn't see before and I'm trying my best to not fall into easy steps.  I'm embracing alone time, even if it feels lonely at times because the loneliness of being alone is far less painful than the loneliness of being with someone that isn't interested in an emotional connection.

Like all things, I know the feeling and the craving will peak and then pass.  It always does.

Right now I'm considering ways to keep my hands busy.  I may start crocheting a blanket or scarves.  I might try knitting again. I might not. I might start making jewelry (that I'll never wear because I prefer light weight pieces but always use natural and heavy stones because they're pretty). In the end, a cigarette, like a cigar, feels a lot worse than it looks.  I could taste the last one with every deep breath the next day.  I had to wash my favorite sweater to get stale smoke out of it.  The smell of burnt tobacco lingered on my hands and my sense of smell wasn't damaged enough to escape it at all.

This feeling will pass and I'll stop craving a cigarette, or a hug, or an easy smile and engaging conversations about everything but us.

Hiking Runyon Canyon

  img_1210

One that is proudly inactive does not simply decide to hike Runyon Canyon.  Unless you're me, and committed to not over thinking anything.  Then I go for it.

I've lived in Los Angeles all of my life and I've recently decided that I can enjoy my city too.  So many people that live here came from elsewhere.  There are people that come and stay in hotels and pay an insane amount of money for the sunshine and beaches and I've spent long enough sleeping in and not going out to explore.

This morning I was up before the sun.  It was my usual morning of my body waking me up for no reason at all.  I looked at my phone, then thought, "I could catch the sunrise . . . go hiking . . . have coffee on the porch." The day was ahead of me because it was still dark outside and I was rested.  Somehow I got sucked into Facebook instead only to look up and discover the sky outside was lighter and the birds were chirping.  I could have tried sleep at that point.  I could have gotten up for housework.  Instead I threw on clothes and told my Waze app to get me to Runyon Canyon.

I parked closer to Vista and used that entrance.  I had my keys in one hand and my phone in the other and didn't bother with water, but decided stretching would be planning enough.  (I also stopped at every fountain for water and sat at every bench to appreciate the view.)  As I started walking with my music in my ears, I was singing.  On the way up, I saw this massive climb with people goat hopping and climbing up and thought maybe I could turn back at that point.  It looked intense.

img_1222

I started focusing on each step I was taking or the views all around me.  I have never done the trail before, so I figured I would just follow the paved road.  Runyon Canyon Road leads to Mulholland Drive and I was about a third of the way there when I checked my map.  If you were there, I was the crazy woman laughing hysterically on my way back down and to the fork that took me to Fuller so I could complete the loop.

I'm focusing on the fact that the way you do anything is the way you do everything.

From the time I woke up, I sat with the idea for a while before I decided I would just do it.  I bought a sports bra a couple of years ago that is way too big for me now so  I wore a regular bra and found peace with the idea that I would bounce and it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would.  I didn't even think about it.  We do what we commit to do or we make excuses, but at the end of the morning, I hiked a trail I've wanted to check out for a while and didn't have anyone to get me out of bed for it but myself.

I remembered to stretch after watching someone else doing it.  I remembered my post workout stretch when I was sitting in the air conditioning in my car, and got up to stretch and it felt good.  Not gelato good, but good. Doing things properly has latent benefits.  Take the time to stretch and focus on your breathing and being present in the moment.  It feels better than you might imagine.

img_1221

It was a morning of appreciating the present moment I was in.  I wasn't focused on the really steep climb I could see people struggling through.  I ended up in the opposite direction.  By the time I got there, I was coming down and not climbing up.  Instead of struggling, I was jogging and hopping and it was fun. I hit a crest and realised I was looking at the original ascent I was afraid of.  I made peace with the idea of sliding down on my butt if I had to.  I accepted that I might fall, and hoped I wouldn't end up with a face full of cacti needles because I have plans tonight and want to look cute.  By the time I got down, I didn't fall.  I was able to just enjoy the beautiful view.  I spent some time petting some stranger's dog and we both got lost in a few moments of watching dragonflies.  The dog's owner seemed a bit nervous about the dragon flies and I assured him they might land on you for a little insect porn, but they really don't harm people.

I saw lots of exhaustion and determination on faces, but my face offered a smile and a song.  By the end of the hike, I did more than I planned to. It was exciting and relying on my body felt amazing.  I was more capable than I expected I could be.  I was sweating and really appreciated the fact that I was too lazy to shower first. That post workout shower is a special gift.  I didn't plan, but the adventure made me laugh.  The steep climb looked far worse than it was because it was my descent.  I didn't bring water but I had just what I needed in water and rest stops. And it was a road travelled alone.  It's exactly how I'm living my everything.

The Cigar

I want the chocolate one. Make it two. Please cut the tip. He bags it and adds a pouch for humidity. Who knows if I'll smoke it? It's rebellion enough to buy the thing. I'm in my early 20's again, scratching at the void with longer nails to mask what I refuse to notice.

I walk familiar streets and along the pier, sitting and watching people watch their phones.

Rolled and rectangular with a hint of chocolate. Dark leaves neatly folded like fey clothes in the Seelie Courts.  It smells like rebellion. The taste of leaves feel dry and moist. I lick the end and feel closer to the earth and dark soil. It's almost sweet until I light it. I fake a habit I used to own, preferring to blow out an oral fixation and imagine dragon's breath out of a borrowed phallus I destroy in embers and flicked away ash. You would think I forgot how to smoke but it's work to not step into instinct from a three pack a day habit nearly two decades old.  I turn it slowly for an even burn, blowing more than puffing so I can keep away the light headed bliss that tells me I want to return to this escape. I'm at peace with how unattractive it is because I handle it like a boss.

The moon is full and tells me these phases come and go with the force to pull waves along a shore, crashing and eroding even solid rocks with constant force because the moon is greater than anything we have on earth. It's great because as big as the earth is, you can't ignore the size of a moon that orbits the earth while dancing around the sun. It does what it will as I watch in gratitude for it's beauty and it's lessons and the life it forces in partnership with the sun.

It's a clear night with dotted lights along the shore and winking at me from the sky. I find a moment of grace and it feels like peace with joy around the edges. The other cigar will be a gift to brighten someone else's day and I smile because I find happiness in my giving.

Pride Blanket

I pull it around me like a blanket made of stone. It's rough hematite scraping against my chest.

I'm holding it close to comfort me.

It's streaking red anger in bleeding emotions Pride promised to stop.

Feelings seep from a crevasse of loneliness but my Pride goes before me.

It's a bridge that leads me no where.

It covers the soft parts I left exposed as I stretched in hopeful longing.

In transparency, we grew cold when the sun we exposed was too bright, too weak.

I felt the burn once his heat was gone and the sting lingers long after night falls.

It covers the weakness and longing that sit around me in solitude.

It whispers the strong words we hide behind because the feelings were too new, too strong.

Pride tells me it was nothing and didn't matter.

Pride tells me it was a mess we stepped over and away from.

We're given a clean break in the world of the unknown.

Pride protected us from ourselves.

Pride tells me it's better to never know.

Pride prevented me from needing, loving and losing.

I wrap my Pride around me.

I pull it closer so you can't see I'm shivering in the cold of almost.

A Week

Sunday wakes slowly and stretches languidly before remembering the week ahead.  She runs around, picking up and preparing for the busy jaunt that will come quickly. She rests when she can because it's still her day off.  With kids. Is there such a thing? She'll contemplate that after she puts away the drill and adds anchors to her shopping list. She pulls cobwebs out of her hair after reorganizing the storage shed and re homes spiders (not black widows, they get a rubber mallet funeral) and beetles that land where they didn't belong.  She sips coffee throughout the day but it's always just a little too sweet. Monday is all business.  She rises promptly and falls into routine like a drill sergeant.  The hot water of a morning shower forces her awake.  Her bark gets the boys up because it's time to face their week too.  She sends them off with a call for "good choices," and drives on to start a work week with eager excitement.  She loves what she does.  She walks in confidence to her desk, sending a sleeping computer into running order.  She cracks her own whip and smiles at naughty adventures she can still taste in fading memories. After her coffee, she'll hold a mug of hot tea in prayerful supplication.  She likes her green tea unsweetened, her black with cream, and everything else with raw sugar.

Tuesday knows she has to get up and get the boys out but she begs for 5 more minutes before she remembers they are her 5 minutes to take. She flows into the routines of the week, taking advantage of a street cleaning threat that hovers over the clock, knowing they'll get out before parking enforcement will make it to her block.  She passes the demand of responsibility onto the threat of a ticket because she wants to be forceful but rely on someone else's authority. She gets tired of being on her own when it comes to parenting the boys. She eases into routines that Monday started and she'll be thankful for that bore's easy organization because the reality of Tuesday's morning is the product of Monday evening and the boys shifting back into a school week is torture for all involved.  She loves the crunch of sugar snap peas and salted popcorn.  She likes a brisk walk to 7-Eleven for Green Apple or L'Orange Perrier and will enjoy the smiles she receives when doing it.

Wednesday is a hoppy rabbit with excitement for the evening.  The boys go back to their Dad and Wednesday has a taste for shenanigans.  She spends her day in dreams of the ocean and performers that wrap music around them with their goatees and easy to watch physiques.  Their smiles whisper of naughty adventure, and she understands the language they speak. She has tasty visions of the things she would do with a boy like that but she knows the rest of the week knows regret in the morning feels like spit warmed over and swallowed back down.  She is a randy whore that likes to look but has little interest in touching.  She feels the eyes of strangers and it feels like warmth and lowered inhibitions.  She goes home alone and sings love songs to herself.  That feels good.  Enough.  It feels good enough.  She likes an Apple Martini that tastes more like an Apple Blow Pop than something sour and foul.

Thursday is a teenager.  She wakes up alone and will go to sleep alone.  She'll make herself eggs for dinner one week and coq au vin the next.  It's not hard to convince her she deserves a night on the town and she will sometimes end up at a table for one where she will scribble in a notebook or laugh at her phone.  She likes a Scooby-Snack at a bar, but she will chase it with water because she has never met a hangover she could be friends with. She doesn't worry about who might be watching her because she is comfortable and doesn't really care.

Friday is a happy girl.  She loves waking up and heading to work and she'll find any excuse to stop at a store before she settles in for the last day of the work week. She is either planning a long weekend at home with the boys, or she's planning a night of debauchery.  She likes putting on something short and low cut, but the other girls always chime in and demand she dial it back a bit. She is someone's mom and she should try to be considerate of what that means, even if she is redefining what it means.  But maybe her butt isn't all that impressive and could be made into less of a main attraction. She'll sip a Cape Cod, but has a taste for a Bloody Mary from time to time as well.

Saturday makes an appearance throughout the week.  She insists on doodling in notebooks and sitting under trees on a lunch break.  She blows bubbles with a wand she keeps in her car for traffic.  She once made them stop for a cigar to relive their youth and she insisted the unfinished stogie was worth it but everyone else knows it wasn't. She's been known to serenade her boys, getting them used to the idea of someone singing to them directly.  She sings alone at work because it makes her happy but she might also be trying to convince the world she might be a little bat shit crazy. The idea of being offbeat amuses her. Every phrase is "shit" or "awesomesauce" because she doesn't do anything that would fall in between. There are no shades of gray when the world is so rosy colored.  She has a sweet tooth but no one else does.  The stash is for her but everyone else insists sugar snap peas are just as good as Peanut M&M's and Perrier is better than soda.  She's not buying it, but she adds all the cream to their coffee so it tastes like candy.  She has projects around the house that wait until it's a weekend at home with the boys, or she has a list of places she can't wait to explore. She's never idle and loves her own company, so anyone that wants to join her had better be damn special.  She doesn't put up with anyone that isn't. And she doesn't give second chances, but the rest of the week does. She accepts it but will slam a Purple Hooter Shot, their whiny complaints ignored on the rare occasions the week will allow a little inebriation.

When There Are No Words

What do you say when there are no words? A moment . . . A surprise and a thank you that tastes like dark chocolate that lost its bite in the velvet melt of lingering taste and cocoa powdered lips.  I'm humbled with gratitude at its unexpected arrival and the smile that says more than words could express.  There's affection and tenderness when I see the care taken in finding the thing that shows me I was noticed and so were my preferences. Something so little means so much that there are no words.

A call. . . A call from a friend, and I take leave of my task because I always have time for this person.  I miss a face and the warmth of a hug that holds me up and keeps me together.  I can feel the love wrap around me in words that want to know how I am and what I'm doing and when we can see each other again. I walk away with a contented smile and there are no words for the joy that remains.

A question . . . My son wants to know why someone that was once a sister would hate me so much. He wants to know why the woman that replaced me doesn't like me.  I have no words.  I tell him I don't know why, but I don't worry about it because I think of them far less than they think of me.  But his question lingers and I feel I've shortchanged his trust that I would have the answers or look for them because I always do.  I'm not worried about how they feel.  It's not my job to make them feel better about what is inside of them and it really doesn't bother me that people that never see me don't want to be around me.  I'm not worried about it at the beach or exploring museums, but I see the pain in his face because it hurts him.  I tell him he can ask them why they feel that way and he can tell him how he feels about it, but I really can't answer for them.  There are no words for the pain I can't soothe for him.

A moment of recognition . . . My sons notice more than they speak of.  I call them to remind them to eat before heading home to pick them up.  I drive 13 miles home, then 15  miles to visit their Dad with traffic before me and exhaustion on my shoulders.  It's the second day in a row that I've made the trip for them and the first day was uneventful, but the second day is full of precaution for the scene I might cause and they notice it wasn't necessary.  I spy a note that calls me an "ex wife" although I haven't been given the divorce I keep asking for, and smirk at the password, "God First" because there are no words for a paper that makes such a claim while also lying. They notice I've been trying to be the mom I want them to have, and I hope they didn't notice the moments where I fought my wants against their needs because being selfish feels good.  It burns and rages and I drive the last 15 miles and sing so I can direct my focus in the words that speak my emotions because I'm afraid of the words in my heart hurting my sons, so there are no words.

A question was asked . . . It was an opening to expand on my ideals and I did.  I was so wrapped up in the passion and excitement I felt in expressing my vision and areas I need to break through.  I see who I am and where I want to be and the excitement bubbled over. I looked around and I could feel it was too much.  My intensity was intimidating and it was all too much and I gave too much at the start.  I was assured that it was fine and it was welcome to hear too much.  I sat in the empowerment that was offered because it seemed like it was too much until I saw that there is enough.   But there are still no words.

 

Cut Flowers

img_1034 Broken stride halted by solitary beauty

She was standing in a crowd so quietly unassuming

You can't hide beauty so glaringly obvious behind pretentious contemporaries

There was strength in her posing

and tenderness in her velvet feel

Coloring delicately solely for me

I forgot what I was doing, holding, going to do because she was all that mattered in that moment.

I held her, breathing deeply of her sweet perfume, intoxicated with sensual need

Marking me with her beauty my hands left bruises where hands expressed need

Whisking her away I will watch her wilt and fade confined in my view

A private viewing of her demise and she'll love it.

Her only need in this limited life to make me smile

The Look

There's so much in his look. A glance

A moment

A millenia

Captivated by a smile and imprisoned in his eyes.

I'm caressed

Undressed

Set ablaze and released

His searing stare guts and cleans me out

Purged of everything because without the power of his thrall I am nothing.

Gratitude

My day started early and I was able to slowly flow into full steam. I started to just sit and think of what I was grateful for. At the end of the day I was grateful to be too busy to write what I was grateful for. At the end of the day, there is peace in the sigh of fulfilled exhaustion.

An ocean front view of a fading sun was met with joy and I sang along with my favorite pier performer for a full set.

I watched the sun fall softly behind the mountains without a murmured protest from the many people around me. There's no sorrow when we know it'll return tomorrow. We love the sun for it's warmth and light and life giving energy. We take for granted it's consistence because only the clouds are fickle.

A sliver of moonlight stood timidly. Every night it's always in silent worship to the beauty of a fading sun. Unworthy in daylight, but magnificent alone. She is aglow in the warmth of the love from an absent sun.  I feel like a moon tonight and my sun is all of the beauty and wonder that filters through my day.

Hooker Heels and Self Representation

I'm really a jeans and t-shirt kinda gal. When those jeans don't require a belt, I'm in my happy place.  I have had enough pregnancies to know the value of clothes I can schlep around the house in.  I also know that when I start to get comfortable wearing yoga pants or sweats outside, it all runs downhill, and I stop caring about other things too.  I'm not super high maintenance in the makeup department.  I wear makeup, but aside from my eyes and lips and a little blush, the rest of my face gets moisturizer.  I keep it simple.

In the mornings when I wake up, I put on a pair of heels and walk around.  I have a sister that loves shopping and I always benefit from her closet.  I have more heels than I know what to do with and they aren't practical.  Once I'm dressed and my makeup is on, I walk around my house in heels because it's an ego boost.  Try it.  You'll like it.

This morning, I was still in my heels when the ex brought the kids over.  He was in a mood and that always gets directed at me.  He said I looked like a slut in my hooker heels.  Then he was angry because I was laughing at him.  What can I say? It was funny to me.  I decided to wear my heels out today. I'm walking around in heels that are maybe about 5 inches.  I'm already 5'6" and I feel like I could be part giant, but it's working.  The people at work seem to dig them.

I find myself in a mood tonight and these thoughts won't leave me alone until I purge.  It's a follow up post to another post about my comfort zones.

As amused as I was about the ex's anger, I was yelled at and slut shamed in front of our younger sons.  It was a moment of anger from him, amusement from me, and then my shock at the look of helplessness on my 9 year old's face.  I held him and assured him I was fine, and that mom isn't actually dumb or a slut.  I told him Daddy just needs to learn better ways to express his anger.  At the same time, I see the example he's given and the thought that I have to figure out how to fix the damage being done was overwhelming this morning.  It was in telling my son that Mommy isn't what Daddy called me and shoes have nothing to do with what we choose to do that I decided I would wear the heels to work.

There's a sense of entitlement that weighs on me in bouts of doubt.  When I decided to stop looking for companionship online, I had already ended a few conversations with people I just wasn't interested in, or they moved on.  It was pleasant enough that I didn't feel the need to block everyone.  Just 12 or so people.  I deleted contact information for the rest.  I love myself enough that if you ignore me and move on, you have to be really amazing or cute to have an open invitation.  Random texts much later tell me you are lonely and hoping I might bite at a limp carrot.  It was a wonderful day when a conversation shifted my perspective enough to stop dating online, and I haven't looked back fondly since then.  I've written so many posts on how horrible online dating was for me.

img_0706

My point is, it's not the shoes that make you a slut.  It's not what you wear, or how you look, but the choices you make.

When the choice to share your body is taken from you, you still aren't asking for anything other than to look the way that makes you feel good.  You are not deserving of any ill treatment. No one asks to be raped, or catcalled.  No one wants to be whistled at like a dog.  It's not okay to judge a person by what they wear or don't wear, or how they walk or the way they flirt.

I am a woman with real thoughts, feelings, and dreams.  I want to be loved deeply, and madly.  Being roughed up by life might make it easier to deal with the peaks and valleys, but it doesn't make that a first or second choice.  I want to be thought of first, and not as an afterthought.  I want to have meaningful connections, and you won't see that or be open to it if you can't or won't see past what I wear or how I walk, or the confidence I manufacture from within me each and every morning.

Fiction: The sappy story I'll never finish.

I watched them line up carefully.  Some wore tweeds.  Others wore pin stripes.  It's not the clothes that individuates them.  There's something more.  I saw him from behind.  His slacks were pressed and his windsor knot was perfect.  What gave him away was the oval of sweat in the small of his back, and the way his hands in his pockets pulled his pants across his backside. He reached into his back pocket, producing both his wallet and the turned out pocket that held it.  He wore the right clothes but he was the wrong fit. Armed with my knife, I wove my way through the lines to him.  His hair was shaved close, but his underlying tattoos were visible when I stood right behind him.  He was easily a head taller than I was and the broad line of his shoulders indicated he worked those muscles harder than any of us in the city would.

My training told me to call for backup once I was sure of what he was.  My gut made me stop. We're also told to trust our instincts.  I was right behind him and close enough to smell his cologne and there were other officers around us.  They just hadn't noticed him yet.  Getting past my nerves on my third day in the field, I stretched my hand out to tap his shoulder.  With surprising grace, he grabbed my hand while turning to face me.  His calm gaze and serious brown eyes pinned me to the spot, making me forget the weapon in my hand.  With an eerie calm he leaned in to whisper in my ear, "I don't want to break your wrist, but if you raise that knife, you will take that choice from me. We're going on a trip."

At that moment, I decided I could get away.  He would break my wrist.  Putting him in restraints myself was unlikely.  I should not have let it get this far.  I could also do as he says and wait for the opportunity to get the upper hand.  I was born to be an officer.  I could handle him.

The tremble in my voice gave away the real fear I felt when I said, "I'll take you anywhere you need to go but you have to let go of my wrist."

"You came to me with a knife.  You can't leave with my trust, " he said.

Switching his grasp from my wrist to my elbow, he took my knife and pressed it into my side as he took my knife and pressed it into my side as he led me through the front doors of the building.  My plan to get the upper hand quickly unraveled.

You never know the value of your weapons until you're forced to choose something easy to carry and conceal for foot patrols and that choice bites you in the rear.  I chose a knife for it's size and because it was a skill I was good at in training, and now my knife was gone because I was afraid of a broken wrist.

This man looked at me with a fleeting tenderness and in that moment I knew a broken wrist would be safer than the heart I wanted to hand him.  Just as quickly the hard edge was back in his glare and I my quaking fear gave way to rage.

The Loudest Silences

There is silence in the void of emotion that carries what was into what will be and in the space between the event and the reaction is where power crackles and coils and the smell of electricity burns memories into every future that you force through your past.

I can't. I won't. It has never been in me to be.

She sat in the driver's seat without a place to go because she was lost without his directions.  The playlist wasn't on repeat and the car fell silent but the oppressive weight on her ears that screamed into the quiet with the pressure of his expectations was pushing in ways she felt but couldn't understand. Then it dawned on her that there's an app for that and it's up to her to decide, and then to go.

I'm not enough, or maybe I'm too much.

I waited for tears to fall and wash away what was building so terribly inside of me . . . but they didn't come.  The ache and moan and hollowed brokenness are not enough to mourn.  I feel it but it's not as bad as fear told me it would be. Was it a real loss if you aren't lost?

That idea is too boring to me to flesh out for you. No one else will care.

My ass is on that line, but I'm squirming uncomfortably.  I won't stay where I intend to be.  I won't sit where the meaning is meaningful. It's too much to commit to my words having meaning you might want to understand, and yet the emotions brew dangerously close to the surface and the rage I quieted wants release in words that build up and crescendo into the deepest parts of your mind.  I don't need to change the world, but I need to make you feel and I need your reaction. One word at a time, a series of paragraphs.  I won't stop.

You don't have time to do what you think you want to do.

I paid the bill for your growth because I put my money where my faith is.  You get my time, and my efforts and my belief and I'm lacking in time because I refuse to look at the belief I have in you that I've displaced out of my reach for myself.  But today I'm being selfish and taking whole minutes for myself to do what I want to do because I'm learning what that looks like and things are shifting because I have enough to give enough to the things I believe in.

There's silence between us in the feelings we refuse to express.

We talk and dance around the obvious in favor of the inane because there are feelings and emotions that are brewing and burning with a desire to be expressed fully and fearfully and with wondrous transparency.  We look and verbally dance around what will not be said because being children together is easier than what you would expect from grown folks.

The duty of living falls silently and solidly on us.

When we were young we had dreams and made plans that were bigger than the plans.  Bills became burdens and our ideas were pushed by the ideals and we were forced to face the work that is required in doing what we aspire to be.  But we live together and know we share a burden that we didn't want.  There is silence in the work day because the cost of duty is our ability to complain.

We statue ourselves silently so our fears can speak for us.

When the first tower fell there was shock, but the dawning realization of intent fell with the second one.  In fall of 2001 I was on bedrest with my first pregnancy and had no other option than to obsessively watch.  With the rest of the world, I watched lives fall apart and the confidence of a nation buckled to the sweeping desire for rage and retribution. It's fingers slid insidiously into the psyche of a generation who hasn't experienced national peace since then.  My children haven't seen what complete peace without national conquest looks like. I vaguely remember it myself. I sat with my first child in my belly, wondering about the legacy I was nailing to his future.  It was a moment where true faith in the inherent good of human nature stood silently alongside my fear and held me accountable to my individual decision to not cash that check of terror that was handed to us.  I do not live in fear, nor has that ever been a viable option to me.

 

A Moment of Gratitude

img_0565 Last night I was having a hormonal pity party and a friend's perfectly timed messages gave me space to indulge in the feelings and then forced perspective, because I can choose how I want to react to the life I get to live.  It inspired a moment where I wanted to enjoy another post on gratitude. This one won't just be about men though.  It'll mainly be about men.  Isn't it always about a boy?

img_0566

Thank you for noticing me and telling me you did.  That unexpected compliment was perfectly timed, but then they all are.

Thank you for wanting revenge on my behalf and respecting the higher road I've been dancing on.

Thank you for trusting me with your darkness and fully embracing mine.

Thank you for teaching me new things and being patient with my ability to make a simple problem complex. It's a super power.

Thank you for never making me feel the burden of what I did to your life.  I imagined what it was to find out I was coming and my version looks nothing like what you have always made me feel.  You amaze me.

Thank you for all of the loving pet names you use in our conversations that remind me that I am special to you.

Thank you for the trips down memory lane that we can laugh at now that you are no longer a 15 year old virgin.  Sorry for the power I enjoyed holding over you and the fun I had at your expense.

Thank you for making me feel like one of the guys.  Pizza and beer with a stogie and Monday night football are still happy memories.

Thank you for that amazing summer.  I can't think of Manhattan Beach without remembering our friendship.  I wouldn't want to.

Thank you for accepting that I grew out of my Freakzilla phase, but I want you to know I hold onto what I learned because of our deep conversations and your perspective.

Thank you for teaching me that exercise should always look like play.

Thank you for acknowledging that I had the ability to hurt others and for showing me I didn't have to.

Thank you for trusting that I will fight for you for as long and as hard as it takes because that is who I am.

Thank you for being my wing-man, and understanding that not everyone deserves an introduction while laughing at my insane reasons for rejection.

Thank you for rooting for me.

Thank you for feeling like you need to feed me.  It's sweet.

Thank you for the hug that felt like I was cradled and safe and words weren't necessary.

Thank you for the amazing you handed me without my ever needing to ask.

Thank you for going with my zany thoughts and ideas and never feeling like they needed to be smaller for you.

Thank you for indulging in my food joy moments that made no sense to you until you tasted what I had in mind.

Thank you for your spontaneity and the excitement you gave me when I gave you a yes.

Thank you for gelato when you knew I needed it.

Thank you for making things easy when I could only see obstacles in front of me.

Thank you for listening to me rant, and not trying to offer anything more than an ear.

Thank you for believing in me and putting your money where your trust was.

Thank you for not pushing when you saw me withdraw.

Thank you for showing me how affected you are by me.

Thank you for telling me more than you were comfortable sharing.

Thank you for teaching me how to throw a punch and what part of my foot to use to nail that roundhouse kick.

Thank you for teaching me how to change a tire.  And thank you for paying for my roadside assistance so I didn't have to.

Thank you for picking me up and taking me out to lunch.

Thank you for unexpected flowers and cards.

Thank you for our girl dates and pedicures and letting me tell you the many things you saw before I could.

Thank you for being polite.  And thank you for not being polite.

Thank you for disappearing from the world, but taking me with you.

Thank you for telling me all the things you adore about me.

Thank you for showing me that only the really great ones should end up in the friendzone.

Thank you for telling me that a whore sleeps with everyone, but a bitch sleeps with everyone but you, and accepting that sometimes there is no sleeping with anyone.

Thank you for your many guidelines for dating and laughing as I told you about the rubric for dating I was already using.

Thank you for helping me pick out a skirt, even though you hated shopping for women's clothes as much as I did.

Life Matters

I see the pain masked as anger online and there is overwhelming sadness.  It's the rage that comes out and the blind prejudice that allows people I love and admire to forget that someone's child was involved in their stereotypes.  We're losing parents, children, siblings, relatives and friends.  There's no justification, but there is plenty of pain. I won't tell you how to grieve because there is honor in recognizing our collective loss.  Hate doesn't serve as much as hinder your ability to create the change you want to see. I had a consultation with an attorney once and I was asked if the situation I was seeing him about was racially motivated.  It wasn't.  It was just a case of someone needing to see that they did something wrong. There's blissful ignorance in being raised where and when I was.  I couldn't see race unless it was right in front of me.  I heard about the KKK being in Glendale and San Diego, but I didn't see it growing up.  There was racial tension  but it wasn't black and white in my youth. I once visited a courthouse in Texas where two water fountains still stood.  The label for who could use it was long gone, but the condition of the fountains made it plain to see which was once only for colored.  My Dad could tell you about the fear he grew up in and specific people lost to racial hate as he was growing up.  We were all kids perpetuating someone else's hate.  Well, we were all kids.  I straddle too many identities to claim ownership of a racial bias and be proud of it.  I try to be open to diversity because it's who I am.

For a while after the latest major shooting when the police were a constant presence in my son's school, I would intentionally take my son to the officers and make sure he saw me say, "thank you for your service."  Anyone in uniform close enough to appreciate gets a moment of my time, and firefighters get my gratitude for the firehouse that saved Kid3 from a near drowning and I do this no matter who is with me or watching. My boys have seen me buy the coffee the officers behind me ordered in the Starbuck's drive-thru.  I hope to teach my kids that it's best to follow the rules and guidelines that keep them away from the focus of police, but that in an emergency, they are the ones we turn to.  In peace, they are the ones that used to hand out baseball cards and stickers.  They ran the drug intervention program that encouraged us to D.A.R.E. to say No to Drugs.

Yes, there are stereotypes and it would appear that these people have become targets.  A critical eye would show you that there have been other people abused but rather than looking black, they look like people with mental illness and drug dependencies.  You can't see it because we've been gaslighted by the media.  They cover what they want us to see because sensationalized news brings in viewers that will spike marketing revenue.  It's all senseless tragedy, but there is value in the way we are shown what they want us to see and they know how to monetize it. That's why most reporters would make great fantasy material if you need more than a one-handed read for satisfaction.

My children were surprised that they are black too.  One summer of sunbathing and Kid3 was shocked that Kid2 looked black.  His Dad pointed to me and it suddenly clicked but my kids were all awestruck by the idea that they are black because I am. Their Dad is Irish and Dutch and his family name is the name of the River that Shakespeare was born on.  My family is also mixed.  My mother is from the countryside in Thailand.  My Dad has a heritage that dilutes his African blood into Mexico and Ireland with Choctaw Indian tribes and Sephardic Jewish traditions and was born in Houston.  His skin looks black but when my Grandmother passed, she looked caucasian from spending so much time out of the sun.  As a surrogate I gave birth to Muslim arab girls with fair skin and dark hair, a British American blue eyed and blonde haired boy and a sandy haired, fair skinned Jew.  I am mother and daughter and friend to so many nations that I can't see this problem as entirely racial.

It's about power and fear and the fact that policemen were made of murderers. The power we bestow is not a pressure that everyone is meant to be burdened by.  Ben Parker once told his nephew that "with great power comes great responsibility." I believe that. (It may or may not be a Spider Man reference.)It's not in the guns we give but the expectations we have. We expect our officers to put their lives in danger and to rescue us in times when our worlds are collapsing.  They are expected to be hero and therapist and defender.  They see the vilest capabilities of humanity and are expected to remain level headed because we expect more from them than we would from ourselves.  I can't justify the terrible loss that our nation suffers with every unfortunate and senseless loss of life, but I will not vilify every single human being that chooses duty beyond my capabilities and comprehension.  It's not every officer.  It's not race as much as power and the ability to dominate another human being while facing real and irrational fears.

I live in the United States.  We're not used to people being beheaded or street bombs killing large groups.  While we have soldiers serving outside of our country, we are shielded from the realities of war and the scars that live underneath the surface for our soldiers.  Every single one matters because this is not our normal.  This is not acceptable.

Black lives matter.  So do female lives, and gay lives.  So do the lives of the mentally disabled and the lives of the people that end up on a dangerous street without street knowledge.  Your neighbor's lives matter. The kids that could use intervention instead of your fear . . . their lives also matter.  Police and military lives matter.  Homeless lives matter.  Life matters.

It's not enough to march and yell and intimidate others to get our point across.  Change starts in the individual and the learning by example we give our children.  Learn to love what you don't understand and the fear and hate will have nowhere to go.