Saturday, December 23, 2017


It was something small that put me into Brandon's mindset.
This little ornament that Brandon made for me at school, gave to me in a paper bag he had decorated like a snowman.

It said, "to: mom; from: Brandon" on it. At Steve's house, I saw another ornament, almost identical, and I realized, one day at school, Brandon told his teacher that he has two houses, two Christmas trees.

I thought about him at that table in the Kindergarten room, gluing buttons onto this craft stick, making two ornaments when the kids around him might have each made just one.  He is splitting his love, trying so hard to make it even for us, make us both feel important. I wouldn't wish that dividing on anyone, but if any five-year-old can gracefully manage such a feat, it's Brandon.

This little boy has the emotional intelligence of an adult, the kindness and gentleness of a good therapist. He manages what I never could. He has my best traits without my worst.

He just put his arms around me, kissed my cheek.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


"I don't like your house," Holden hollered from the backseat in my garage.
"Why don't you like my house?" I asked, calmly, I hoped. 
"Because it's too small," he said. "We only stay on the upstairs." 
I carried him up the stairs to the only place we stay. I cuddled him like a baby, so maybe he'd forget he can talk and complain now. 

But there are other complaints, too. 

There aren't enough toys here. 
I don't even have a basement or an upstairs. 
I don't have cable TV. 

But mostly, they complain because this is not home. 

I am at a disadvantage, living in a place they never knew before. This place doesn't have the advantage of comfort and familiarity. We didn't spend afternoons lounging around here, before the change. They didn't eat dinners here on this table, they didn't blow out birthday candles here, they've never known Santa to visit us here. 

One day, I will have a couch. They will have big lounge chairs. I will create the idea of comfort, hoping that comfort itself inevitably follows. 

I am not taking it personally when they say they don't like my house; I am reminding myself that it has nothing to do with me. A house is just a house. I will make them feel at home here. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

blue foam cake

My youngest son
doesn't interact with
other children.

Instead, he
makes me fake food,
pen sketches,
block buildings--
shows them to me,
waits for praise.

Sometimes I think,
in the way parents of 2017 do,
I should schedule play dates
for him, introduce
him to friends his own age. 

But I don't.
I love the attention
he lavishes on me
and quite frankly,
I don't actually believe
he needs any fixing.

He just brought me a
blue foam cake which I
pretend ate
with real enthusiasm.

Friday, December 8, 2017

great healer

My sister is here, in town with her baby.

What is it about babies that brings out our smiles?

Also, it is a weird phenomenon, being around family. I sing aloud again, do puzzles, dance in the living room. Everything is as it should be.

Like the good ol' days.

She took pictures of me and the boys, I ordered my Christmas cards. I started holiday shopping. I even finished revising my manuscript, which I've been meaning to do, and finished writing a short story.

We made cinnamon roll popcorn, she made caramels, we're going to make bath bombs. 

It's been a good week. 

Family, biological or not, is a great healer.

Friday, December 1, 2017

frat bros

I have an addictive personality. In both the chemical and compulsive behavior categories, I like to get fucked up. Fuuuuucked up. I wrote an essay about it this semester: about why I drink or smoke weed. I like to feel OK as I am and it seems I can only achieve that when I'm drunk or high or in the heat of sex. That is the only time I can ditch my self-loathing narrative, the one that runs on a loop saying I'm not good enough, I'm a fuck up, I won't amount to anything, I'm a piece of shit.

Instead of feeling like I'm spinning when I'm under an influence, that is the only time I feel calm. I have it all backward and it's when I'm sober that I feel like I'm spinning out of control.

But this year. Oh this year has been such a redemptive one for me. Blessed 2017.

I have this group of friends I met at school. We actually call ourselves a fraternity. These are friends who write, who laugh into the wee hours of the night with me, friends who road trip with me, who workshop writing with me. Friends who send me letters, friends who invite me to Thanksgiving dinner, friends who group text horoscopes, friends who eat Gandolfo's sandwiches, friends who moved me into my apartment, brought me housewarming gifts, FaceTime me. Friends who sustain me.

Yes, I have been known to get drunk or high with these friends. Most my friendships, really, have revolved around getting drunk together, getting stoned together. But other than my siblings, these friends might be the only ones whose friendships I sustain in the absence of drugs. When I was sick last week, my friends brought over teas and Werther's originals and Alka Seltzer and we played Sequence and laughed so hard snot poured from my nose.

I am going weeks on end between drinks now. One of my friends is sober and she inspires me to enjoy life as it is, without altering my mind to it. Some days I walk to the mailbox and see a brightly colored envelope from a frat member and I rip it open and read it right there in the cold, getting a high off our correspondence. These people have helped me realize my own strength, have listened to me cry when I didn't have any strength left. These friends are satiating my hunger for companionship, teaching me another way to live.

Friendship is my new drug of choice.