Thank you for that experience.

At the bus stop:

TWEEKERS
SUCK
then, clearly added later,
YOUR
[BITCH]
TITS

It’s cold as hell and the bus “shelter” provides no respite. I tap on my phone and look online expecting to see the bus here any second; instead I find we will have to wait fifty more minutes and I’m like, stunned with despair.

I want to cry. My serenity vanishes and I am completely pissed. I will spare you the details; it’s ugly and trifling, but yeah I’m angry and I’ve already figured out how everyone is to blame. And with every ounce of self-restraint I do not say or do anything shitty out of this mental place and instead I zip my coat and I walk alongside my husband and I tell him, “I’m very cold.” He’s a cheerful bastard and has his metabolism so in a single-layer cotton hoodie he’s fine. He and my kids, I’m telling you. Their bodies ramp up and they are like hot little bread loaves in the bed at night, ask me how I know this. But I’m cold, cold, always cold.

A man gets on the bus and then another, and I recognize them from Treatment. They perhaps don’t know me or are too busy. One looks good though like he might not be drinking. Last time I saw him he was all yellowed up even in his eyes.

One thing about being wet and cold and out in the elements, we’re finally home over an hour later, and I am so pleased to be back inside. My daughter brings me a blanket and a pillow and asks if she can remove my shoes, and I’m so grateful and she blushes, pleased with herself she could make me so happy.

My daughter. This morning, first thing she said to me, she pulled me in close while she was still in bed and whispered her good dream she had. It was the most stunningly beautiful handful of words I’ve heard in a while. And I knew it was a secret only for me the moment she told me. It brought tears to my eyes; the dream and its sweetness, and amazing thing that she shared with me because she trusts me.

Things were different for me when I was her age. It’s hard to believe in something better, even when it’s right before my eyes.

I wrap up in blankets and I rest. A friend picks me up and takes me home, later. Simple things, those little things that help me. I am very grateful for these.

***

I haven’t been posting too many links lately, but I wandered across this today and I got some good laughs, mostly from the rebuttals. Like “Dave”, and SOYFUCKER omgggggg lolz

***

Ralph’s project this evening:

from the effort of loving to the making of bread

I’d walked out with dinner plates still dirty and left it all behind. My husband either would do the washing up or he wouldn’t but I couldn’t spend another minute in the house for this or that reason. I’d spent a large part of the day cooking: homemade rolls and slow-roasted orange pulled pork; a coleslaw with green apple and a pineapple marmalade upside down cake with cold cream to pour on top, and that was just dinner, not even what I made for breakfast and lunch.

The bread: satisfying. Handling dough, the mixing and oiling and steam-bath and fashioning and glazing and baking, wiping down traces of flour off the counter and the mixer. A lot of love into a simple food that many take for granted.

Now, though, it’s cold outside and I’m glad I don’t have to wait for the bus more than about eight minutes. I buy a punch pass from the driver as soon as I step on board, before I can think about it being twenty dollars and we have four more days until payday. The pass has a gold-leaf little bit embossed so people can’t fraud one. I zip up my coat and sit mid-way back. Riding the bus in the later hours is quite pleasant , although I need to really know when to catch one though, as they are few and far between and I don’t want to get stuck in Crackton, Aberdeen in this kind of cold. The interior lights are red and low and there are only a few passengers and they’re not rowdy. Like I said, quite pleasant, not as loud or as odorous as day trips.

I look up at the signs I’ve seen most my life up above the windows. “If You’ve Found This Number, Give Yourself A Break And Call”, followed by the phone contact for Narcotics Anonymous. I feel this little thrill sitting there, wondering how many people have happened on that sign and felt the familiar flutter in their gut and an accusatory jab, then cut their eyes away and tried to blot out their intolerable reality a bit longer.

We head up the hill to the hospital and back down with no one getting off or on. I was up at the hospital earlier; a friend gave me a ride to see another friend who was suffering internal bleeding. I flick my eyes up to the second floor and say a little prayer. Later in the afternoon, after our visit, I’d gone out with the ill friend’s wife and we ran our dogs at the bay. Two Bassett hounds and my Hutch, two hundred pounds of dog, and Hutch was in the lead being awesome!

I’m thinking though while I text and wait for my stop, I want for nothing. Both cars broke but one’s in the shop at least and hopefully it’s something we can fix, and the fact my husband isn’t upset about any of this helps me a great deal. I don’t want anything, not really, I am content with things the way they are. I’m happy to get more blessings but I’m okay if for a day or two things are tough. I was thinking maybe I’d want to take the family on a sunny vacation somewhere and you could even get a credit card for that sort of thing maybe? Even this option is something open to me, something we probably won’t do, but who knows, maybe we could do it. I’m okay with my thoughts accompanying me against the damp, cold glass, and my mind doesn’t hang on or cling or run neither.

then I got to listen to a lot, a LOT, of Lowellian cursing

Brrr!

By the time I’d walked a mile in an absolutely wet, windy, and rainy blizzard through piles and piles of snow, and waited and waited and waited for a bus, and given up after making phone calls and texting and other plans, while huddling wet and cold against the icy brick contemplating a plan, and realized I’d be unable to make my meeting, and finally gave up and headed home,

I admit, by then I felt a few tears rise in my throat. I mean after all the whole business was about two hours exposure without relief (yes, in light of certain anniversaries today, I know I am whinging, big time). And what was funny is to think as I first set off through the snow, I was wondering if maybe taking a few hours out of my day to make one meeting where a solid half the clients are nodding out from Suboxone, and I thought maybe I’m a fool, maybe I’m wasting my time. Well it seems the Universe was beating me into humility because after all that I didn’t even make it. Well, the Universe isn’t so unkind, I guess – it was my choice, I could either re-learn humility or just be pissed and cramped. I elected the former.

But at the beginning of the “adventure” I had a nice walk with Ralph. Our gonads were frozen solid by the time we got to the barren comfort of overhead shelter:

FROZEN

(Given GH Transit wait times the “No Loitering” sign seems a bit… ironic.)
(Actually, as previously discussed, I’m unsure what “irony” really is. Yes, I’ve looked it up.)

Ralph ran across the way to grab me a coffee; he went by himself in case the bus came by and I missed my opportunity. This was back when I had a backup plan of sipping the coffee and holding it close for warmth, while I waited. Back before he’d left and I’d gone on to wait an hour before a bus came, a bus that wouldn’t have gone near my destination, meaning there would be no time for me to make my appointment, and I had to give it all up. Yes, back when I was so naive. I had a lot of growing up to do.

Ralph Ventures To Get Me Coffee

I was bundled up well but the rain had soaked my jeans and that was my downfall. Wet jeans. Holy Shit.

So I eventually went home and the exercise, plus the high of dodging scary drivers sliding on ice, worked off my aforementioned upset.

And then after I got home it took a long, long time to warm up. I watched Reel Injun while waiting to feel my face again.

 
Then I watched The Fighter (although I’d already seen it a year ago) while finishing up the details on the last homesewn item for the upcoming magazine spread.

Several kids came and went, wet and getting fed and getting re-dressed in dry clothes. We washed and dried and hung things up. Ralph made a lovely dinner of turkey sliders on homemade buns, yellow tomato and avocado dressing with lemon, carrot sticks, and potato chips, and we fed whatever children ran through the house.

Then we set up all the outdoor stuff to dry in time for more snow adventures tomorrow.

Boots Upon Boots

no you can’t

NO NO NO

I have simply got to stop grousing, internally and out loud, about our bus system. Yes, it bugs me it takes an hour (sometimes more) to travel seven miles (from the HQX downtown station no less), the commute my husband requires get to the college. Yes, I think the bus system is not designed with any seriousness toward daily commuter needs – an environmentally and socially progressive mandate which would improve our lives immensely. Yes, routes have been cut. Yes, I think so much about Aberdeen and Hoquiam is as pro-car as one can imagine. Yes, I think about all the “bus people” and their needs and their lives and when I see busses leave late or arrive early and the callousness of some drivers I despair.

But I’m not ready to spearhead a campaign about any of this because I have my own life to sort out. So here I sit. It’s not how I long I have to wait (although this bothers me for reasons I won’t go into, here), the worst thing is the noise along what amounts to a highway, and the dust and exhaust fumes. The gawks aren’t that fun either because riding the bus here means there’s a large set of people who pity you or look down on you. For reals.

But whatever, fuck it. Seriously. Some of the people closest to me ride the bus and we can commiserate what it’s like and I can stop bitching so much. I actually enjoy talking to people on the bus and I enjoy helping the mamas with strollers and babies and saying “thank you” to the drivers, every time. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a racist diatribe on the bus although today I heard a man bitching about a couple toddlers who were up front. I turned my head and looked at him, is all. I still do not always know how to handle public asshattery, and I don’t always have the energy, especially days like today with too-little sleep and staggering menstrual cramps.

I walked home from the station. I enjoy walking whenever the weather isn’t miserable – and today it was fine. Most times I walk in Hoquiam I see hardly a soul. But today there was a festive air in town, driveways, block parties: graduation for many adults and young people.

Party Time

These celebrations seem remote to me although I remember the period of high school graduation well. I guess this would have been sixteen years ago. Having been given a tremendously trivial amount of freedoms up until age eighteen (like most USian kids), for me graduation merely meant more praise from grownups (as I had a great grade point and had earned scholarships etc), a pedigree of other people’s required accomplishments for me, a deeply fragile sense of self, a few very good friends, a lot of excitement in my heart, and a desire to party as much as possible. It wasn’t all bad at all, on balance.

It is touching to see famlies celebrate. It’s nice to see young people honored. It’s pleasant to anticipate more activity in the neighborhood now that school is out.

Also, today I met a small kitten, a little black thing that looked younger than I’d think was decent to separate from his mother. His name was, improbably, “Puffy”, and he had not been fed recently, or at least – he was ravenous. I fed him a bit and in his zeal his tiny mouth bit me harder than I’ve been bit by a cat. I loved him up a bit more, eliciting a fragile purr, and then gave him back to the little boy who “owned” him and told him, please feed and water this little one.

And so life goes.

hoeden

I’ve sewn a few quickies since my last slightly-ambitious project. Including: two hats!
On The Sly

The green was entirely designed by myself; the blue, only slightly helped by a six-gore hat pattern. YES on the blue bunny I totally made those circular hand-stitched tucks, and the bunny ears, and HELLS YES do both kids love the results! (More construction detail if you’re clicking away and looking for it.)

Knotty!

Detail

Close-Up; Lined

My kids are all busy growing up and it kills me.

Grr!

Proud Of Her Papa

(Shoutout to Ralph for the above-pictured Hoquiam tourist brochure, which he designed. It’s making its rounds out in the world today… here Phoenix is looking it over approvingly (and adorably, if I do say so!) at the new Tully’s)

you may escape without a mauling

It’s 11:30 PM and I’m standing in the aisle staring at the frozen food chest. Ralph is trying to find me something, some convenience parcel I will find tasty, perhaps Amy’s Indian cuisine, palak paneer? He’s so tender and he’s been so stubbornly sweet that after several hours of his ministrations it’s almost like I’m finally going to crack and cry. It’s been easier to spend the day committed to not expressing feeling, but that can only last so long.

Depression consumes everything. It dampens joy, aggravates worries and anxieties. My five or fifty minutes late. The project that doesn’t turn out perfect. The project I decide not to do. The project that turns out well enough, but took away time I could have done something else. The friend who doesn’t respond to my messages. Any pain my children suffer, ever. Anything out of place. Anything I could have done better, or smarter, or earlier. Anything one could possibly blame me for, depression is on it.

Nothing is immune. There are wonderful things in my life but it devours them in its slow-chapp’d power. I feel better for a few moments then later I feel nothing but panic and anxiety but more to the point dread, and considering how many people support me and love me I feel ashamed to let them down. But for more than a few moments at a time, it’s impossible to feel good about myself. Even when I accomplish something well, or when I’m reminded aloud or implicitly I’m a Good Person. I worry by not being happier I’m going to lose my friends, one by one, but I know I could only fake happiness in any case. For now.

That relates to this space here. I’ve felt pressure not to write about depression, sadness. I worry I sound boring. Or like I’m trying to get attention. Neither of these are true; I write because it has always helped me more than almost anything; and yes, I do get enough attention, really. But the feeling persists: no one wants to hear this. It is tiresome. And rather pathetic, besides. Make something up, something better.

Then I think what the hell. No one is required to read here, Ever. Also: I’m really sorry if my suffering inconveniences people. I typed that sarcastically but I rather mean it. I don’t actually want to inconvenience people, and I’m not even sure I can meet this meager goal. I don’t want to be given up on. I want my friends to think enough of me not to pull back, I want them to tell me if they need something different. Maybe I’ll be able to handle it, maybe I won’t. I want them to try, if so moved.

It helps me very much to have others. I know that cleaning the house, preparing food (for my family and other people), doing right by my children and my husband, these are things I can do in the space where I am No One. It grounds me. It feels like the part that is really Me, the awareness there even while my brain tries to tell me terrible, horrible things about myself.

At the store with my husband and son, now, I’m saved by a stranger. “This is embarassing, but can you help?” a handsome, very tall man with a long braid asks us as he approaches. “My girlfriend sent me with a grocery list and she doesn’t know I can’t read.” He holds forth a scrawled piece of paper listing a few items, including something amazing and crystal clear: “Marionberry Pie Ice Cream”.

I kick into action. Friendly voice and accommodation, I could do this in my sleep. Help people? I know how. If I can just keep doing things I won’t have terrible thoughts.

It works pretty well until it doesn’t. But then it works again, later.

a pie en Hoquiam:
On Foot To Get Coffee

The bus, Grays Harbor Transit, just as I’m feeling about to puke:
Red Light

of summer rains and winged things

About a year ago the kids and I found a large and impressively-vibrant poison green caterpillar while at the Aberdeen bus station. It seemed in a precarious concrete-laden scenario so we brought it home to observe its transformation (we stopped at Rite-Aid to buy a jar as we were on bikes and couldn’t carry it easily and safely). The little creature seemed rather frantic (as far as I can tell for an invertebrate), waving its body around and spitting out strands of silk. That very day it spun its cocoon on a procured branch we’d included.

How long do such transformations take? I hadn’t even had time to take a picture of the critter and try to identify it, so I could not look this information up. We waited and the alien-looking, precisely-formed bundle remained inert. When we found our new house carefully we moved the jar to a windowsill on our porch. I watched anxiously as weeks, then months trickled by. I began to be sure we’d messed up. Ralph or a guest occasionally ashed clove cigarettes into the glass even. I felt terrible about this. I began to think we’d done something incorrect that had killed the animal, but what? I thought of carefully slicing the cocoon open to see what the insect looked like mid-change, but I thought to myself What if, what if it was still alive, then I will surely have murdered it.

Today as I closed the porch windows against the first real rain we’ve had in some time I observed the glass where it has sat for so long and to my surprise, the cocoon had changed, split neatly one-third of the way along the carapace, vacant and mutely perfect like the cap of an acorn. I looked about quickly but of course, she must have made her escape in the many times we’ve had our door oppen. I wondered if this has been the brilliant white moth I’d seen a couple days before, simply beautiful, regal, on my porch railing. In any case although I felt a small sense of sadness I had not elected to screen the top of the jar that we might observe the miracle, I was so glad she was free, ephemeral, unhindered by our human meddling.

suspicious characters

My husband takes a deep breath, sighs, looks pointedly at the steering wheel, then kills the engine.  I know exactly what he’s thinking.  Is the truck going to start when we return? I’m hoping it will as we have kids at home getting up to God Knows What while we shop for groceries and believe it or not, asking people for jumps gets a bit old (although it must be said in Grays Harbor people are really ready for this eventuality, my friend J. tells me they also carry chainsaws in their trucks ready to cut down trees lying across the road, you know, just in case).

The truck thing is kind of his fault.  A few days ago before he embarked on fixing my mom’s troubled beast I’d asked him if the vehicle mayhap have a charging system problem, not so much a battery problem, take it and get it diagnosed first, blah blah.  He figured it was the battery, a good guess really plus he was doing the repair bit on lunch break, so he bought a new one on my mom’s dime and now the damn thing still dies every two days (if you use headlights at all).  OK: so, fine.  Tomorrow I’ll take it to the shop my dad always recommended.  And the kids and I will bus back. And I hope it’s not raining, ugh.  You know, that whole hour in between buses shit in the wind and rain.  Today was sunny but cold when you’re out hoofing it.

You know in Hoquiam and Aberdeen very few people take their errands or their work commute by walking, biking, or the public transportation?  It’s fricken rare to see people hitting the streets who aren’t poverty-level or dealing with a variety of drug, court, mental health and/or welfare problems (I currently have none of the above). Most peeps in my peer group are in their cars, minivans, trucks shuttling back and forth.  In fact there are huge swatches of pretty much normal Aberdeen where by being seen walking you’re judged to be either down-on-your-luck or poor or prostituting or mething and heavily judged or WTF’d based on any of these assumptions (actually, don’t even click and read the comments in that link, it’s just kind of depressing).  As for the supposed sketchy areas of the fair township, my pwecious widdle babies and I walked some of them today, first getting a hot dog at the stand by the carwash (not very prepossessing in appearance but delicious all the same) then some helado a la tienda naranja before ending up in my Monday afternoon belly dancing class.

IMG_4341

IMG_4338

IMG_4343

P.S., why am I in a belly dancing class. First off, most the ladies in there seem really into the scarves and skirt and jingles.  I own not one skirt except a denim mini (which I happened to wear today b/c of the sunshine).  I don’t like flowing veils or fringe or all that wispy twirling around with scarves thing.  So, I dance in my jeans with my fat rolls hanging out the top.  FTW.

Which brings me to:  I do like the dancing.  It feels great.  I like the ladies in the class, especially my friend J. and the instructor L.  I like really dancing, energetically so.  I try not to glimpse myself in the huge studio mirror, because my cavorting looks so much less impressive than it feels.

Which is my second Why am I in a belly dancing class query, because really?  Yes, I can do a bit of a camel walk or a figure eight or large hip circles or a shoulder shimmy or a veil drop.  But ask me to combine two or more?  Why don’t I just fall down, break my arm, and piss my pants while I’m at it, because that’s where I’m going to end up.

Oh and by the way, Ralph and I made it home from the grocery store.  The truck survives to fight another day.

IMG_4335

Documenting my domicile: our little porch.  Adorned with the Hogaboom Lemon Tree and (lower left) a Thrift City bifurcated rag rug for $2, which I carried all grimy-like in my fist for a half hour in line at the store, then washed and dried at home and you should have seen Ralph’s expression, although he has come to believe it’s a nice addition, so that’s good.

of lizards and liaisons

This morning our mission was simple: a sojourn to the local pet store to do some homework. My daughter has been persistently requesting a new pet: lizard or turtle. Today we went to find the appropriate animal for her care (verdict: leopard gecko) and price all the accessories we’ll need for said animal. Sophie brought a clipboard and pen for our research. After we move into our new place I’ll venture out again to acquire the animal (hopefully from a home that no longer wants their wee lizard).

It was a snowy walk to meet the bus; slow going, as the roads were still icy and treacherous. After boarding (fare is free most of this month for Christmas) we head to the back of the bus; I get violently carsick on most public transportation unless I’m assiduously facing forward. We sit next to a grown man in scuffed leather coat with a coarse dark beard and skull-printed do-rag. My daughter looks out the window at the snow; there’s never been a child more interested and invested in finding ice to crunch with her boots. My son takes up Sophie’s clipboard and flips the page to the lyrics for his Christmas concert (tomorrow night) which he’s been practicing. In a clear, measured voice he sings the versus of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”.

After my son concludes this recital the man next to me leans over. “Thank you for the carol,” he says, holding up two shiny quarters for the children (even though Sophie hadn’t sang). “Oh, thank you!” I say. “I didn’t know that was part of the deal.” The man apologizes for what he now perceives may be an intrusion. “I hope my tattoos didn’t offend you, ma’am,” he says, showing me two very homemade-looking on the back of each hand: “JESUS IS KING” and “JESUS IS LORD”. Tattoos don’t offend me; neither does passionate Christianity. With his long hair and dark beard he reminds me of my father and brother, of company my family used to keep when we lived in Southern California. I talk to him a bit more, sharing a story about walking a long distance the day before because I didn’t have bus fare, not knowing that fare was free this month. I enjoy talking to strangers and I am somewhat eager he sees I do not scare. I see his jeans are torn and underneath he is wearing bathing trunks, presumably against the cold. Where does he live? Where is he going? The words stick in my throat; I don’t want him to think I’m intruding.

Across from Swanson’s he rings the bell to exit the bus. “Have a nice day,” he tells us, and unless I’m mistaken there is something guarded in his tone. Does he regret offering the quarters? Does he think I scorn him based on his appearance – as so many before me doubtless have done? Is he just lonely?

“You too,” I say warmly. “Thank you.” I’m smiling as he leaves and my eyes feel wet, grateful for the contact between strangers.

We chug up the Simpson Avenue bridge on the bus, only blocks from our destination now. I think to myself how much the human soul wants connection, wants to be seen and not judged, wants to strike up a conversation with someone they’ve never met and likely won’t see again. I also think to myself that when I’m out on foot, on the bus, on the bike, I am so much more likely to experience the expansion of the soul, the pauses that end up in their way more rewarding and real than the rushing about I am wont to do in my many plans and errands.

My children in the pet store are perfectly behaved; their tender handling of the fragile, small reptiles betrays their gentleness. The lizards themselves, animals I hadn’t been prone to notice before, are amazingly beautiful; looking as if made of glass, but soft, barely warm to the touch. A delicacy in each face as if it were formed by an expert craftsman, which indeed many think is the case. Sophie asks as we leave if I’m going to indeed bring a lizard into our new home. “I promise I will take good care of him,” and I believe her.

getting over that hump

It’s 5:12 PM and I’m irritated. I’m irritated because it’s taken us a bit longer than I’d thought to walk across the bridge. I’m irritated that despite the sign on the Public Market proclaiming hours until 6, they close down an hour earlier, and I can see the two cars pulling out and away and: I’m irritated because I was counting on some meager produce earnings from the Market to get me a bus pass because (Irritation #3) the kids and I ended up on an overly-ambitious walk (made so because of duration coupled with the amount of exercise we’d had previously this day and our lack of food and water and means to get them). Accepting our loss at least today of lettuce-money now I know that if I want to catch a bus home I have to grab the kids up and cross the street in front of blasting log trucks and wait in a chilly wind God knows how long before a bus comes along and at at that point I’ll have to beg off on 15 cents I don’t have to complete our bus fare (and the drivers around here might even say No – I’m serious). In this moment I notice the kids have found and are enjoying the very, very poor excuse for a playground that is alongside the Market and I know they won’t like abandoning the “park” for this half-assed bus plan but neither should they have to walk all the way home and you know what? It’s my decision, my responsibility, to figure out what to do.

I give into the moment and sit in the grass and let the children play. They don’t know it, but it’s a dismal day, the kind of grey soul-swallowing bleakness that gave Aberdeen such notoriety the Kurt Cobain set (many of them not raised here) often cite. Alongside the river and I’m walking and I know how to dig in my feet and survive, burrowing down into my jacket and being as patient with the kids as I can and hoping for a more promising tomorrow. After all, I have things to look forward to: friends coming over for dinner. The cough syrup nap at night (sadly, still necessary). A day closer to the weekend, where Ralph and I try to enjoy our time together.

This morning the first thing I did to try to make myself feel better than I had yesterday was bake a rhubarb cake and do the dishes. Housework is soothing; I’d enjoy it in perfect bliss if it weren’t on a Rinse-Repeat cycle many times daily (ironically: it was having children that made me overcome my dislike of housework). We did have some excitement yesterday: the first hatchlings in our incubating chicken eggs. One died (in my hands – second bird in a month?), two have survived – we now have ten living entities in this house. I know cats and rats and chickens don’t count for much by some yardsticks but feeding and cleaning up for them kind of does, especially along with my much more messy and complex (but it must be said, far more rewarding) human younglings. Our cat Harris is pleased with the chicks; he offers his nannying skills regularly although we repeatedly defer.

Tomorrow: city park free lunch program (at my son’s request), a date with Jasmine, and Try #2 for gardening proceeds.