October 31, 2018

to be fair

... for all my bitching about how dysfunctional my family at large proves to be, mother and sisters and a crazy aunt and general posterity, my immediate family situation is nothing short of phenomenal.  Life and good people gave me a gift on that front.

I'll start here:  P.J. and I didn't mean to fall in love.  We met and it ... just happened.  It happened hard.  I remember driving home after that first get-together, a breakfast that turned into a lunch, feeling dizzy and knowing that my life was about to break and get messy and turn upside-down.  It was punch-drunk meets foreboding, chaperoned by ecstasy.

My husband at the time was - and is - a good man.  I had figured out early in our marriage that I wasn't exactly straight, and we made it almost ten good years anyway.  When I knew, he knew.  Real friendship goes a long way.  We likely would have continued this arrangement, had I not had my head turned by wide-eyed realization of what I was meant to have and feel and be, the intensity and depth that accompany entering into a relationship aligned with one's orientation.  So many people think it's about sex.  They simply cannot understand, lacking personal experience, that it's far more about heart and mind.  When I hugged P.J. for the first time, I felt the wind of the Universe blow through me.  It startled me.

The divorce was inevitable, and here is the clencher:  My ex-husband willingly let me go, so that I would experience that happiness and he would find his own.  I know the stories of women who leave to be with a same-sex partner, the vindictive husbands, the court battles for custody of children, the lives utterly ripped apart by truth.

The Kid was three years old.  We knew we had to carefully hold his hand through this to avoid collateral damage.  We read, we asked, we listened.  When my ex moved into an apartment and left me our tiny, tidy first house, we made a pact:  The Kid would see both of us almost every day.  We went to court with the separation agreement that explicitly stated custody would be joint and defined no further than that, something the courts abhor because it usually ends in a royal mess.  We insisted that it be honored.  And we kept the pact, and to this day, we still do, though it's radically different now with a teenager and The Kid's preferences dominate.  These days, the door simply remains open, transportation is provided.

P.J. and I exchanged rings and became committed partners, married in all eyes but those of the law.

My ex met someone months later.  Once they'd been dating for a bit and we realized it was getting serious, she and I met for hot cocoa and four hours of conversation at a Panera.  She's groovy.  I started from that moment to intentionally say positive things to The Kid about her.  One of the worst aspects of separation and divorce is putting a child through having to choose loyalties.  I wanted him to know he was allowed to like her, bond with her, and not feel he had to hide it.  My ex did the same when talking about P.J.  The Kid got a step-sister out of the deal when they married a year later, which was awesome because the kids each got to learn that neither was the center of all things.  They had to share, resolve conflict, deal with a sibling.

I met my ex's mother-in-law.  We hit it off beautifully, which might be because I fixed her computer.  I wasn't exactly a threat; that might have helped, too.

(Actually, I've fixed all of their computers at some point.  But that's like breathing for me.)

My ex's mother and I still talk occasionally on Facebook.  She asks after P.J. and sends her love.

The two family homes are seven minutes apart.  The Kid has seen both his father and me almost every day.  We drive him over and back in the evenings.  I could not begin to count the miles and gas involved, but they're nothing because we have done things right by him.  When there are school events, we're all there, all of us, together.  The Kid's step-sister spent a lot of time, when she was younger, wondering if I was her aunt.  "It's complicated," we told her.

The boundaries are good, in no way blurred or bleeding over.  My ex is like my brother now.  I still give him a difficult time whenever possible; we joke around; we parent like a motherfucker when it's needed.  The Kid can't put one over on any of the four of us because we communicate so well.

I know how lucky I am.  I know how lucky The Kid is.  I know how lucky we all are.  I don't lose sight of that.

October 29, 2018

stare right at me, jim lauderdale

I'm walking off the exit ramp after riding the roller coaster, turning around and looking up and thinking, "Seriously, I was on that thing?"

Now I can catch up, turn around and look up and down and back, a little breathless from riding the loops of suicidal thoughts and hypomania, but able to take in everything I missed in the meantime.  The bluegrass festival.  Molly making it safely through healing from surgery.  Good meetings at work, good talks with friends, and things hanging fire and all that I've neglected while plunged and tossed.

Last night, P.J. queued up Jim Lauderdale on Spotify in the living room, so I could listen while playing on my laptop.  She remembered that at the bluegrass festival in September, I'd been enamored of him ... that's not quite the phrase, really; something about his brown-eyed gaze is piercing, when he looks right at you.  There's a hit-you-dead-on honesty in his face, and at this concert, he was hamming up the facial expressions something fierce.

The man wears outlandish clothing ... that particular night it was a shiny purple jumpsuit that Elvis would have envied.  I don't know much about him, his eccentricities, his lifetime of work, but apparently he's been at this for decades and his repertoire, based mostly on Americana, also includes country music.

I forgive him for that.  I'll even endure it.  Last night, P.J. found for me the song he played last month at the jam session following the main festival events (we scored tickets) ... "In The Pines" ... pure-strain old-time music that's basically the opposite of everything I listen to, but his voice cuts through and grabs me.  He draws out the notes ....

"In the piiiiiines, in the piiiiiines,
Where the suuuuun never shiiiiines,
And we shiverrrrrrr when the collllllld wind blooooowwws."

When he was singing or talking on stage and he appeared to look at me, sitting in the smaller audience, and held his gaze, I felt like he could see right into me, like he knew things.

I've talked before about how resistant I am to admitting new books, music, ideas in to my heart and mind, that a thing has to find a chink in my protective armor to reach me.  He found it.  I know I'm about to plunge into his music and grant him short-list status.  It was one hell of a stare.

P.S.  I just looked at his tour schedule and he's going to be on a cruise ship at the end of January out of Tampa ... I need to ask P.J. what possible reason we might have not to bugger off and be on that ship with him for days ... well, yeah, and some other people, too, but whatever.  Can someone please come look after our dogs?

October 28, 2018

the color of peace

When I was in my late twenties and P.J. and I had just fallen in love and the world got rearranged, I painted the living room of my small house as a first step toward getting it ready to go on the market.  Dark, blood-red walls were transformed with light brown paint that I was delighted to see turned out to be the exact shade of a cup of hot chocolate, made from a mix.  Not too yellow, not too red.  I didn't keep the paint chip and I could kick myself for that, because I may never be able to repeat those results.

That shade of soft, light brown, swirling hot chocolate, is what color the peace has been, yesterday and today, as the hypomania has subsided and I've drifted down as slowly as a light autumn leaf on the gentlest of winds.  I can trust myself again to have normal relationship with others and make decisions. 

And if I think back, it's always been this color when it has come, the peace of calming down.  My peace is Swiss-Miss, soft, milky brown.

Through the synaesthesia, I've had a good deal of music and even once a smell take on a color, but rarely an emotion.  The color of my peace on this morning, however, is unmistakable.

A mug doesn't stay warm in the winter of bi-polar disorder, so I am sipping and savoring while holding this cup of peace in comforted, becalmed, thankful woolen mitten hands.

October 24, 2018

the church of the f-bomb

temple (tem-pel) / noun / a building devoted to the worship, or regarded as the dwelling place, of a god or gods or other objects of religious reverence

He stopped me in the hall at work.  A furtive glance in each direction to ensure we were alone.  And then:  "What the fuck did you do that to me for?"

I slammed against the wall on my side, clutching my ribs, laughing hysterically.

"Naw, man, I'm serious!  Do you know she fuckin' talked for, like, an hour and forty-five god-damned minutes?  I thought I was going to die right there in my chair.  Good.  God.  Don't you ever do that to me again!"

I'd referred this unsuspecting co-worker to another co-worker who can be, at times, verbose and a bit thorough in her didactic ministrations.  She knew how to use the software he needed.  She was the expert.  I hooked them up, and I won't say I didn't smile quietly to myself as I heard them settling into a conversation destined for duration.  I'm not sure he'll ever forgive me.  I hope he doesn't.

The F-bomb is the key to a kingdom.

Those of us who habitually employ it like to say it's good stress relief.  Some of us shuffle our feet and say you really shouldn't, but sometimes you just have to, you know?  Not many of us admit that we just fucking like to say it.  Far fewer of us consider it an outright virtue.

I go a step beyond that, because I believe there is so much more here.  I think about church, what a person gets out of attending.  Not the religious reinforcement, but the acceptance, the belonging to a tribe, the pure hindbrain drug of I-belong.  They agree upon values and beliefs and behaviors, they feel a bond and a safety when they congregate.  They wear the cross as a symbol of their tribe.

I posit that cursing like a sailor on a three-day bender provides the same belonging, especially in the closed society of a workplace, an office building.  You find each other.  A gentle probe here, an approving smirk there, a slip and an apology and then gauging the reaction ... you find each other, and you congregate in small groups safely, and you let it fly.  You agree upon values, a worldview, and behaviors in doing so.  That's never explicitly stated, yet through employing gratuitous profanity, you agree on what matters and what truly does not.  It draws some of the best people I have known in my life.  Teachers and social workers and food bank volunteers and devoted parents and doctors and nurses and even ministers.  It draws some of the best co-workers I have, the hard-working, the conscientious, the ethical, the ones who care and care hard about what really counts.

I meet with the best of them, and sometimes we close the door and partake of the sacrament of being ourselves.

I told him one day that I could out-curse him without breaking a sweat.  He said there might have to be a contest.  I gave him an angelic smile.

October 23, 2018

full swing

Snippets of poems writing themselves without my input. 


Racing thoughts, so fast I can't hear them, more of a hum, a lawn mower close to an open window of the house, a swarm of bees with indistinguishable buzzes. 

Static.  Electrons whizzing. 

Months of quiet withdrawal at work replaced with a return to effusive snark and droll wit.

Preoccupations with people popping up like highly toxic mushrooms, then wilting quickly, melting away.  Three in one morning.  Never has it been Cair Paravel, more than one person occupying that throne.  Immediate disillusionment, new object, displacement.


This sounds like rambling, but if you've followed my other bi-polar and therapy-related posts, you'll understand the torment this represents.  Torment is not too strong a word.

Last night P.J. held me as I whispered through gritted teeth, "I fucking hate this disease.  With all that is in me, I hate it."  I cried.

October 22, 2018

the walk

Brush-stroke, eyelash clouds;
Wind I can hear in tree tops
But I never feel.

grape drink

(chilling in the living room with P.J., in the middle of a yet another re-read of HP & The Deathly Hallows while P.J. reads something entirely more erudite and age-appropriate)

The Kid:  "I'm thirsty.  Can I have one of your packets of drink mix, from the cabinet?  So it's better than water?"

Me:  "Sure."

P.J.:  "Go ahead."

Me:  "Make some grape drank.  Drink the Kool-Aid."

The Kid:  " ... What's the best way to put in the powder, before the water or after the water?"

Me:  "Before the water."

P.J.:  "After the water."

Me:  "Before the water, because when the water dispenser shoots the water in, it auto-stirs it for you."

P.J.  "After the water, because when you stir it up it gets distributed more evenly and there aren't clumps."

Me:  "P.J.'s wrong."

P.J.:  "Lille's wrong."

The Kid:  "By the way, we had this discussion at school already."

P.J. and Me:  "Then why the fuck did you ask?"

October 19, 2018

nectar slushie

.... because if ambrosia is the food of the gods, it is surely frozen.

The first weekend of delicious near-freezing air is upon us here.  Everything in me cries out for shivering and goosebumps and fuzzy socks and hurrying to get back under the covers after braving the bathroom and soft, thick throw blankets shared with one of the dogs on the couch.

I want to open all of the windows and drink in crispness.

I want to be surrounded by chilling winds that make me retreat and create a cocoon of warmth, burn candles, light the fire, bundle up, feel small and protected against the bitterness ... then shed it all and stand out on the porch and close my eyes and lift my arms and surrender to invigoration.

October 18, 2018

pirate in the kitchen

I have to keep writing through the floating Tramadol-somnolent haze that has gripped me for days, in spite of my current ontological crisis.  I got a thoughtful discussion and a loving bollocking yesterday, respectively, about all that, but it remains for me to work through on my own.  Something along the lines of "sense of self is merely a byproduct of consciousness and what you're after is purpose but purpose is a choice and not backed up by anything objective, so really, it's freedom".  Which is in turn the byproduct of having a brilliant wife and a brilliant friend, both of whom I must tolerate as incendiary gifts at times.

So I'll answer the question of what on earth a pirate was doing in our kitchen, lo these many years ago.

Am terrifying pirate!

It was a rather diminutive pirate, to be fair, with plastic accessories and a hat that was a dead give-away in terms of the pirate being lacking in serious business.  While I have exactly zero expertise in general pirate couture, I believe that pirates most likely do not conduct their business, serious or not, in their underwear and a Hanes t-shirt.

Nevertheless, there was a pirate in our kitchen.

The Kid was four years old and immersed in the universe of Pirates of the Caribbean, a product of his Happy Meal- and Disney Store-fueled generation.  He was a kid who would go balls to the wall with his character and franchise obsessions.  He began reading at three and took in information that we were not prepared to help him incorporate into his worldview.  His mind was, to put it lightly, an interesting place.  It always has been.

I digress.  P.J. and I had tucked him in several hours earlier and indulged in the reasonable expectation that he slumbered peacefully and that we, in turn, had peaceful time to ourselves; and as we were a couple, we did what any couple would do on a Saturday night.  [Insert implied graphic description of gay lovemaking here so as to spare the faint of heart, who really have no business reading this blog in the first place and I did warn you, but you didn't read the stuff in the side column, so whatever.  That's totally on you.]

After [whatever you want to believe happened] happened, I was thirsty, and emerged from our bedroom and entered the kitchen, wearing only a black camisole.  Only.  A black camisole.  And there, in front of the refrigerator, blocking the water dispenser, I was met with the above apparition, gritting its teeth in a fiercely pirate-esque manner.

God fucking knows how long he had been standing there, waiting.

I'm pretty sure I yelped and ran back into the bedroom and slammed the door.  This had the desired effect for two of the three people involved.  The Kid was gratified because my reaction affirmed that his character's attributes instilled fear in the hearts of all who beheld him - to wit, me and, possibly, one of the dogs.  I was gratified because I got to hide quickly and avoid scarring my child for life, because, frankly, my body has never been fit for display and he was only four but the possibility existed that he possessed my photographic memory.

P.J., however, only saw me enter the kitchen momentarily, heard me yelp, and saw me run back into the bedroom and slam the door.  There was a space of time in which the cause of this rapid series of events was left solely to her imagination, and it could have involved my having just seen anything ranging from a sizeable cockroach to Ronald McDonald with a live chicken and a butcher knife.

"Um, dear?  There's a pirate in the kitchen."

This did not help.

I leave the rest to you.

October 17, 2018

the only constant

Today I am having an existential crisis.  I'm on a pain pill again, so it's a soft, floating, Snuggle-fabric-softener-bear kind of existential crisis.  But deep, out of the very depths.

The first thing that strikes me is how much pills define who I am.  I take pills for acid and sometimes for pain and most often for keeping my brain from killing me, for stopping compulsive hand-scratching and OCD touch reactivity, for calming me so that I don't hit myself and so I can sleep.

Accidentally going cold-turkey off the lithium a few weeks ago was a black-pit nightmare.  The suicidal thoughts returned as though fresh from a long vacation and ready to do their job.  Then I took a lithium capsule and they left again.  Right now, I'm reducing my dose back to 300 mg, and vague echoes of the thoughts called out yesterday, along with titanic irritability.  Today, both are gone.

Whatever the pills leave open for definition, hormones fill in.  There are days in my cycle marked for heightened bristling, expected intolerance of myself and others, weeping, malaise, even a runny nose.  All due to chemicals whooshing around in my bloodstream.

The crisis is, when I take all of that and look at it, I come away asking, Who am I?  Not my name and Social Security number, not my lineage, but my self.

My self.  If I can be tossed about so easily by chemical forces, internal and external, what is left?

I used to have basic pieces of self-definition.  P.J. and Therapist Gumby and most others I encounter believe in a person's essence, a self that underlies all of these influences.  I am not so sure of that.  I do not have faith.

I am kind, but now I do not know if I am kind without a pill, because sometimes if I do not take a pill, I am not kind.

I have an amazing memory, but I do not always have an amazing memory because a pill can mask it.  Years of Lamictal have left gaping holes in my memory.  "Hey, do you remember that time when ... ?"  No.  No, I do not.  I don't even vaguely remember that that thing might have happened.  There isn't a hole where it used to be.  There is no "Oh my god, I totally forgot about that!"  It's just missing.  Erased.  My memory, not amazing.  My memory, Swiss cheese.

I am funny, but there are nights P.J. tells a joke and I look at her and have to ask, "Was that funny?" because I really cannot tell.  If the pills are not working, other chemicals in my brain take away my sense of humor, even my ability to perceive it.  I blink, and try to understand it intellectually instead.  Do the pills give me a sense of humor, then?  I am not always funny.

I am a writer, but sometimes I cannot put words together.  Sometimes I have no voice.  I am not always a writer.

I am honest, but when I became bi-polar post-surgery, and before I was diagnosed, I lied.  I lied a lot, about something very big, and I hurt my loved ones unbearably deeply.  I scream inside when I think about this.  I am honest when my chemicals let me be.  I am not always honest.

Sometimes, I lose empathy.  Sometimes, I do not put others before myself.  I have been called brave.  Sometimes, I hide in the dark bathroom and wrap my arms around my knees and rock back and forth.

I am non-violent.  Sometimes I beat myself to bruises and it feels good and I relish it.  Sometimes I am a sick, bullying motherfucker who enjoys violently beating a weakling.

What is left?  What is intrinsic, what is not malleable and ephemeral?  Is there a core to Lille?  I am not spiritual and I do not believe in souls or energy channels or anything supernatural.  I am just a brain and a bloodstream.  I am pills and some chemicals and a disease that have a name and a Social Security number.

I am sore afraid, afraid that there is no Me.

October 14, 2018

now there's a sentence

I love my unsurpassedly weird and wonderful family.  Each time one of us has blurted out a sentence that has made us immediately follow with, "Shit, there's something I never thought I'd have to say," I've thought, "I have to start collecting these," and I've made a mental sticky note to write that one down.  Lots of mental sticky notes, in fact, most of which have peeled off and ended up under the mental refrigerator, so that some of the best stuff is lost in the non-annals of history.  I finally started recording them roughly a month ago.

All of these sentences had perfectly reasonable contexts, or at least you could stretch it to say that they might have made sense to a person if that person had been in the room at the time.  Many of the ones I said were also uttered during the hours following a dose of Tramadol, which kind of feels like cheating, because I'm on Tramadol right now for a nasty injury of my already-croggled neck, and so far today, I've been asking why there are all these frogs out there but we never see them.  P.J. just says, "I don't know, dear," a lot and lets my altered brain get on with its slow tumbling cartwheels through fields of muzziness and profound epiphanies.

Here's Round One of sentences we never thought we'd say.  I might provide the context for some of them later.  I remember it for about half of them.  Maybe half.


"Are you certain you aren't looking at an e-mail from some other person who sent you pictures of egg timers?"

"It's hard work, rimming a raccoon."

"What!?  I'm not getting a tattoo of Jesus on my neck.  Fuck you!"

"Gahhh!  You bought the dog a butt plug!"

"Can we please never say 'the clowns are coming' ever again, ever?  Please?"

"The stop light does not look like a penis.  If I ever see a penis with corners, I will run screaming.  It's like the worst botched circumcision ever."

"The problem with calling her a turd-burglar is that, aside from the fact that term already means something completely different, she isn't taking someone else's turd, she's taking her own turd, and she can't steal from herself, so my issue isn't aesthetic so much as it is linguistic."

"So if any rich people get into Heaven, they had to go through the eye of that needle, so they have to look like spaghetti now.  Or Mercerized thread.  Do they get a spool?"

"And then there's the Venn diagram of how many Christians eat Cheerios."

"Yeah, you're right, she looks like the kind of woman who would carry a paint brush in her fanny pack."

"There, I freed you from the German disco.  Happy now?"

"Do you think Bob would know if they're mermaids from the 1950s?  Wait, that's not Bob, that's Scott!  Where is Bob?  Scott doesn't know shit about mermaids."

I don't know what other households are like, but it's clear that P.J. and I will never run out of things to talk about, and I hope The Kid appreciates, or will come to appreciate, growing up in a delightfully twisted and strange environment.  Some of these, after all, were his sentences.

October 12, 2018

that thing I was saying about the interconnectedness of all things

Beware of kitchen
implements, dude.
It doesn't extend to poisonous snakes.

When my son was five, one of the copperheads that infest the woods across the street from our house decided to sun itself on our asphalt driveway.  I saw it and considered my young child and our dogs, constrained only by an invisible fence at the time (the dogs, not the kid), and promptly grabbed a flat-blade shovel from the garage and violently decapitated it.  My son watched.  I explained the entire time why I was killing said snake.  He was the kind of kid who always needed an explanation.

Ten minutes later, we found him in his room, tying some token possessions (mostly Pokemon toys) up in a bandanna and attaching it to a long stick, straight out of a Tom & Jerry cartoon, in preparation for running away from home.  I sat on the floor and talked to him about it, and he said that when I did that to the snake, he felt like I did it to him, too.  He said he felt a jolt inside.  I held him and he cried, then put away his toys.

After that, I had to adopt a non-violence policy toward anything that didn't come into the house.

Which did not apply this morning.  Our text conversation:

The Kid:  "Guess what I found in the basement?  A snake.  I'm only telling you this to help prevent this, but not to send you into panic.  Probably just to escape the rain."

Me:  "WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA?  Um, appearance?  Black I hope?"

The Kid:  "No.  Golden.  Brownish."

Me:  "Copperhead.  I know you love animals but you get a flat shovel from the garage and kill that motherfucker three times."

The Kid:  "Dude.  I bashed its head in with a pair of tongs."

Me:  "Wicked.  Style points."

The Kid:  "I got blood on that shit."

Me:  "I approve."

The Kid:  "It was less than a foot from my feet next to the couch."

Me:  "Um."

The Kid:  "NOPE."

Me:  "Shoes.  We like shoes.  God-damned garage doors are new and supposed to be tightly sealed."

The Kid:  "Oh."

Me:  "Oh?"

The Kid:  "I sort of left the garage door open yesterday.  It must have hidden in there."

Me:  "Ah.  Oh well, it ended well.  For you.  Not the snake.  Floods do that, wash them out into the open.  Fucking hurricane."

The Kid:  "LOL"

So I guess that instead of rolling my eyes at clumps of people at work talking about hurricanes and forecasts and damage and all of the stories they heard and what their neighbors said they saw yesterday, I have my own little hurricane story to tell.  And it slithered.  Past tense.  NOPE.

I have only one question:


UPDATE:  Paul Harvey came along and pissed on all the mystery.  I didn't even get half of the story at first; a sixteenth would be more accurate.  It wasn't a copperhead, it was just a brown garden snake, and a baby one at that.  The Kid had P.J.'s help and by way of employing superb problem-solving skills, he was about to head back down to the basement to deal with it holding a wad of paper towels.  P.J. suggested picking it up with the tongs to move it from carpet to a solid surface so it could then be executed properly using something that wasn't tongs, but they seem to have worked, so that's how tongs came into the picture.  They both felt guilty because it was a harmless snake (but not that guilty because it was a harmless snake in our basement), and I have to wonder why it wasn't just tong-escorted outside into the grass somewhere, where it could get on with being not-a-copperhead, which is a good thing to have around.  Also, mice.  See?  This is why I don't real mystery novels.  They solve the mysteries at the end, and it's never as rich in possibilities as one had imagined.  It was way better when I didn't understand the absurdity of the tongs.

However, I am happy to report that the basement has now been twenty-four hours snake-free.  We should hang up another sign, beside "piss-free" and "poop-free" and "katydid-free".

October 9, 2018

hairy horsemen and the stench of blood

I am convinced that eighty-seven percent of homicides occur within one hour of the perpetrator having attempted to separate and open a thin plastic bag in the meat department of a grocery store.

Yesterday, I fell into the other thirteen percent, the ones who are pushed to homicidal tendencies, frequently accompanied by fantasies of arson, nostalgia for the days of Genghis Khan and sweaty horses and spears, and a strong desire to stand beside Jesus and throw heavy cypress tables off the temple steps, by entitled assholes.

I went for a walk after a couple of months of apathy, down my beloved stretch of elm-canopied road, and took in the sight of paper Burger King cups, drink cans, McDonald's bags, foam and paper and plastic this and that.

People have fucked with my street.  My street.  People who think the world is their garbage can.  People who toss things out of their car windows because those things are somebody else's problem, because they do not wish to be inconvenienced by the weighty chains of personal responsibility for throwing their own shit away, let alone considering the effect they have on the world around them.  There is no concept of interconnectedness.  It's all about them.

To quote Jenny Lawson, this makes me feel a little bit stabby.

I brought a trash bag and a glove to work.  I will set this right today, if the rain holds off.  Desecration has no place in my green haven.

October 7, 2018

juicy brutus the transgender spider and the broom of doom

I think that's a terrific phrase for use as the title of a children's book.  It has the shock and gore factor that parents are always dismayed to find attracts their younger readers, and the wife of an old friend of mine now living in New England happens to be an illustrator.

This could work.  I could finally write a book.  A real book!  Let's see, how do you write a children's book?  I don't believe in dumbing down language too much, but I can try.  I just might suck lustily at this.  I know I need to shorten the title.


Juicy Brutus and the Broom of Doom
by Lille Sparven
illustrated by J. B.

Brutus was a spider.  He was a special kind of spider called an Orb Weaver.

(turn page)

Orb Weavers are not small spiders.  They are large spiders.

(next page)

Orb Weavers like to come out and play in the autumn.  They hide until September.

(turn page)

Brutus came out of his hiding place one September and wove his web.

(next page)

Orb Weavers like Brutus build enormous webs.

(turn page)

Brutus searched and chose his favorite place to build a web.  He would build it across the front door of a house.

(next page)

Brutus built a large, magnificent web across the doorway of the house.  The web shone in the morning sun.  It helped him catch insects to eat.

(turn page)

Later that morning, a human opened the door and saw Brutus' splendid web.  The human could not escape the house because Brutus had blocked the way.

(next page)

The savage human used her Broom of Doom to knock down Brutus' beautiful web!  Oh, no!

(turn page)

Brutus chose a place to build another web.  This web would be even bigger and better than the first web.

(next page)

Brutus built his web across the doorway of the front porch.  His web was so big that it reached from the top of the arch to the front porch step.

(turn page)

That evening, the human used the Broom of Doom to destroy Brutus' second web!  How terrible!

(next page)

Brutus lowered himself on a long spinneret in front of the human's face.  He pleaded with the human.

(turn page)

"Please do not tear down my webs with your Broom of Doom," he begged.  "I need my web to catch food so I can lay my eggs for winter."

(next page)

The human could not hear Brutus' tiny voice.  The human was afraid of Brutus.  It made tiny whimpering noises.

(turn page)

Suddenly, the Broom of Doom swung around in a flash, and Brutus' spinneret was severed.  He fell to the floor of the porch.

(next page)

Before Brutus could run away on his long, quick legs, the Broom of Doom swatted him.  One!  Two!  Three! times, it swatted him.

(turn page)

It was a terrible broom.  Brutus was dead.  He was juicy.  He did not know he was juicy, because he was dead.  He did not know he lay in a puddle of his own bodily fluids.

(next page)

Brutus will never spin another web.  Poor Brutus.



Hmm.  I think an editor would object to my use of higher-level vocabulary words and phrases such as "bodily fluids" and "arch" and "pleaded".  And maybe to the whole subject matter.  Which is a major fucking shame, because I want to see J.B.'s illustrations of the last two pages.

Remember how spiders are in love with me?  I think Brutus went out to find a self-help book about stalking, but it's the damnedest thing, because you can't find a book about stalking.  You can find plenty of self-help books about what to do if you're being stalked, but nothing to help you if you're the stalker.  I take exception to this, because I fall into the stalking category.  Maybe that's why I recognize it so well.  Brutus clearly couldn't take a hint, because he built two webs last weekend, too, and took a few broom hits from P.J.  So that's four webs in the same two spots.  Brutus just didn't know when to quit the invasive, unwelcome behavior.  Also, spiders can't read.

As for the Broom of Doom?  It's a cheap, plastic piece of shit that now has web and little dead spiders and egg sacs all tangled in the bottom of the bristles, and I'll be damned if I'm going to pull them out, so we should probably just bury it way out in the back of the property and pretend this never happened.

P.S.  P.J. thought I should explain the "transgender" thing since I don't allude to it at all.  I named the spider Brutus because we name everything and the names are always male.  But Brutus is was making an egg sac.  Because he has a right to.

October 5, 2018

the deepest caverns

Seventeen years ago yesterday, my son died.  This is a fact as fundamentally built into the Universe as gravity and time.  I've written the story before, the bones of it, and I say to others that I can talk about his life and death with flippant ease.  Only the smells, the hospital disinfectant and the lavender, can floor me.

I have to wonder if I'm as compartmentalized as all that.  It makes itself heard, if it can find a way.

Yesterday I waded through the hours in a stifling buzzing-mosquito swamp of irritation, incredibly sensitive to things in my environment and not the least bit averse to hauling off and hitting someone or something, had the opportunity presented itself.  Interestingly, that didn't include hitting myself.  I also spent my work day drowsy to the point of repeatedly nodding off while sitting up.  I would walk around the building to wake up and nearly walk into the door on my way back in.  My brain wanted me to be asleep.

I'm told that in the hospital, after my suicide attempt, overdosing on sixty-two Klonopin tablets and half a bottle of whiskey on an empty stomach, they had me in the emergency room, ready to strap me to the bed because I kept ripping out my I.V. lines.  I'm told that there was a period of an hour or two when it was as though there was a long rappel from my vocal cords to the deepest caverns of my brain, when subconscious and unconscious and anything hidden by social conditioning could escape and make itself heard.  I said some embarrassing things and I honestly consider that the worst part of the whole attempt.  But at one point, I also began wailing for my son.  I was in the same hospital building where he had died, and I screamed for him, that I wanted him, that they took him away, that I wanted my dead baby, that they needed to give him back to me.  It rattled the nurses, even the one who had seen almost everything in her time.

I have no memory of saying those things in the hospital.  I can no longer access the source of all the things I said.  But I know the still-raw rending wound is in my mind, forever preserved and kept in a deep place, folded and put away like the quilted baby blanket and the tiny pewter urn and the envelope of Olan Mills portraits, so deep in the back of the closet that they rest beside the other things never meant to be retrieved.

October 2, 2018

the well-meaning skunk-placer

(I need to insert a preface here because it wasn't really a skunk, because nobody would actually put a skunk in a women's bathroom in a public place, although if I searched hard enough on the Internet for "somebody put a skunk in a public bathroom" I would inexorably be proven wrong on that point.  It was lavender.  I've mentioned that lavender is an extremely strong trigger smell for me because I was using potently-scented lavender body wash during the time of my son's illness and death seventeen years ago.  It might as well be skunk.)

Somebody put a skunk in the women's bathroom on my floor of our office building.  I know it's a skunk, even though it looks like one of those Lysol auto-dispensing air freshener machines that goes pssshhhhhhhhhhht out of a nozzle every five minutes.  I understand they were trying to be helpful because maybe they came in one day and someone had dropped off some particularly lively friends at the pool five minutes earlier, and the affected person decided to be proactive about it and buy this air freshener.  (My life appears to continue to be governed by actual shit.)

What I don't understand is what possessed her to place it right in front of where people stand to crank out a wad of paper towel to dry their hands.  It blends in with other nondescript objects on the counter, making it a nearly invisible white plastic skunk.

I stood there drying my hands today and suddenly got sprayed by the lavender skunk.  It got all over my arm and the left side of my dress.  I washed my arm vigorously, realized it had coated my dress, and held my shit together long enough to retrieve some musty clothes in the back of a file cabinet drawer that I keep for those rare occasions when I hit the gym upstairs.  I emerged from the bathroom after changing wearing wrinkled black leggings with lint all over them, a bright neon pink mesh top, and a facial expression that would have curdled milk.

Strangely, the lavender affected me so powerfully that it turned all my thought away from where my thought should have been firmly aimed, which was interacting with the inanimate object that had done this to me in a destructive fashion, with malice aforethought.  I've watched that video where someone throws an aerosol can into the spinning blade of a lawn mower, so I know that I couldn't merely run over this thing with my car.  I wouldn't have a chance afterward to explain that it wasn't suicide, in spite of how things were going last week, because who would actually want to die in an exploding car?  But Jesus in a Macy's parade, the revenge would feel good, at least before the flames happened.

Fine.  I talk a good game, but I'm a complete wuss and will end up moving it with a strongly worded note, at worst, or finding the culprit donor and reimbursing her for the thing so I can then throw it in the trash can with not a little satisfaction, at best.

No, even that's not wussy enough for me.  I'll probably turn it off and move it for now, then buy some not-lavender canisters for it and let whoever put it there (when I find them) know that I can't do the lavender gig.  See how amazingly bad-ass I am?  I have a sneaking suspicion that it's the lady who works down the hall from me, the one who sells Avon and is always putting apple hand soap containers in there to save us all from the Pink Mystery Liquid in the dispensers.

I just have to work out how to maintain a good working relationship with her while somehow pointing out that you don't just unthinkingly aim shit that goes pssshhhhhhhhhhht right at innocent people.  Or even at people like me.

October 1, 2018

wanting october

Once October was a morning recess in the inner courtyard of my middle school, and my new denim jacket, and the memory of forty-five degrees at ten in the morning and the exhilarating nip of a chilly breeze.  The morning is blue and purple in my memory, so alive that it joined words and numbers in having a color all its own in my mind.

October was the cassette player in my Pontiac T1000.  I was driving down the highway at nineteen years old with a Nanci Griffith cassette tape turned up, acting out her words ... "I could open up the window / and let in October / and roll up my sleeves in the rain."  The raindrops landed on my rolled-up sleeve cuff resting on the open window frame of the car door as I drove and sang.  I even shivered.

The arrival of summer is the descending of a burden, and October was once its lifting.  Sometimes a cold wind could revive me.  But now it is October and summer continues, takes it for its own.  Days will tick away and our weather will still be hot and sticky, displaced June, displaced season.  Lost sand through the neck of a precious hourglass.

I can't muster the feeling of being robbed, when the robber is so much bigger than me, so much more powerful, the gigantic heaviness of willful human ignorance in the face of climate change, the movement of sun and moon and all the space between them and us.  I can't even hold a feeble anger at the injustice, because what would be the point?

I can only want blue-purple crunchy-leaf October, and wait.