an old machine that’s reeling

Shit is BROKEN.

My computer is broken. I can’t see colors on my screen. This has been like – a month now? At first I thought, OK well, at least I can still type. But the lack of colors is more debilitating than I thought. I haven’t been able to blog my (considerable amount of) sewing – and I haven’t been able to update my Etsy listings either.

Shit is BROKEN.

Our cars are broken. Ralph’s has something sort of serious – a loud clunking sound now and then – enough we’ve stuck it in the driveway until we can (afford to) fix it. So Ralph and I have both been biking a lot, yes he’s been biking to the college and all. My car – good Lord! – a broken window, busted all the way out driver’s-side. It’s been broken several days now but we are fortunately in a dry spell. That’s going to end any minute though at which point I will have to go with some plastic.

Shit is BROKEN.

My kidneys are broken. The doctor is probably going to recommend something icky as I have some part of the kidney possibly blocked off. It took about a year for me to begin to accept the pain. Now I’m trying to accept the fatigue and the nausea. The fact I’m trying to accept it means, maybe I will be there soon.

SHIT is broken.

Hutch is ill. We are hoping it is just random awfulness he (somehow!) got to sneak into his gullet. I am trying not to obsess it is something worse. He is weak and trembly and not eating food and if you know Hutch, that is weird AF.

SHIT IS BROKEN —

Most disastrous of all, our cat Hamilton is missing. Today has been one week since we saw her. Today is one week. I am sick over this. Just sick. We miss her so much.

Today despite all this I did my best to be kind, to treat my family and friends with consideration, and to attend my volunteer work.

What else can I do?

eh, i think i want a do-over. but i don’t get one.

I got to follow a three year old around today while his mama was occupied at a child-unfriendly event.* It was a wonderful and terrible thing. Wonderful because I had my head straight as to what a three year old needs (to run around and be followed, to have questions answered and to have my calm attention. To be taken to a nearby pet store. Quite simple, really!) and it was a joy to enjoy this little one and to help his mother who has no family and rarely gets help at these events that I’ve seen.

Terrible? Why so? Well, I gritted my teeth thinking of how poorly I’d done for my own kids when they were little, and how poorly I’ve done since, I still do, because I can’t shake my residual training and my bad habits. But back then, yeah, I just couldn’t figure out, back when I had babies, that it was my environs that were so often fucked up, making little practical room for what children need and extending very little assistance to carers, usually mothers, who were responsible for all this (Arwyn’s written about this a lot better than I can). I just ate myself up trying to make myself and my kids not inconvenient, I gulped conversation with other moms at the park when the kids would play, I was dying for time out of pressure, which is why I lose the compassion and love people often tell me I have when I hear some weekend dad or non-carer or non-parent complain about moms who take kids to the park and don’t play with them or text or whatever. Like, seriously, playing with kids is awesome, but prescribing it when seeing a beleaguered mama population at one of the few places kids are allowed to run around and make noise? Please directly Go Fuck Yourself, and I mean it in the kindest of ways, I’ll wait for you to get back.

Yeah, my husband used to get pissed we’d go to a film with the young kids and he’d end up taking the squirrelly one out to the lobby and miss some of the movie. He still gets this way sometimes. I understand he’s pissed but I mean, shit that’s what I had to deal with my nine-hour shift out in public day after day after day after day (go into the coffee shop and a person with a laptop sitting at a fourtop who gives us an icy glare and others ignore us, outside at a picnic table and a kiddo runs across the grass and not one person laughs and gently herds young child to safety, but people look up angrily for – ME), and that’s been so much, so many years of my life, my child(ren) unwelcome unless he/she/they were silent and near immobile (I hear it’s not like that everywhere) when he/she/they wanted to ask questions, to talk, to run, to climb, the very things they really should be doing and not just when they’re tiny but I think for many many early years.

And yeah there are situations and people and oases that get that kids are part of the population, and those are lovely. But seriously I mean this event today, apparently people expected a three year old to sit quietly, and no there was nothing at all for the kid to do, no room to play in, nothing (a seven hour event). I am not upset about the event or even thinking about it much, truly, I’m upset about my stupidity when I was a younger mom, about how hard I worked to be “good” and to have “good” kids, and about all the twisted stuff this set up within me and how much I sacrificed and how much less I enjoyed my kids, the most lovely people on this earth to me.

It just fucking kills me.

I dunno, sometimes I think since we all spent a lot of time being kids, maybe some of us should consider regularly putting some time in a grimy parking lot keeping a three year old safe (and actually having a good time with him because he was lovely) so Mama can have thirty minutes to breathe, have a cup of coffee, or take care of her other responsibilities. When we see a child run across the street we can slow down and laugh and wave and say, “Careful!” and smile, or take a few minutes and talk to a child, because who are we to be in such a Big Goddamned Important Hurry we can’t acknowledge some of the most vulnerable and impressionable and inexperienced and (usually) disempowered populations of the human race, the very creatures who decide the fate of the planet and who might stand to grow up free and lovely and well-taught and loved-up instead of – pained and anxious and servile and scared and angry?

Eh, besides other mamas in my life – who were also themselves working so hard – very few people helped me in these generous and level ways when the kids were little, or maybe many did but the intolerance and ignorance of others was way more, or at least loudest in my ears. I can’t change that I internalized all this as being Not Good Enough and I Need To Work Myself Harder and Sit Still and Be QUIET! or we’re GOING  HOME! But I can, as long as I’m able, remember to look out for and be loving to little ones and their carers. I guess if there’s one thing I’ve gained it’s that. It’s that I knew to offer this woman time. It wasn’t much but I didn’t see anyone else volunteering.

And the little guy S. was more excited about a fiddler crab at that pet shop than anything. And you know what, now that I spent a minute checking it out, I discovered a fiddler crab is pretty fucking awesome.

fuck this shit

Announcement!

fuck this shit

I’m making the most scathing, bewildered, plaintive, bitter, angry, and deeply sad breakup mixtape for a friend. I had a request to send it along to my sister Jules. So I figure, I’ll make three others, limited editions. If you’d like one, comment here or shoot me an email at kelly AT hogaboom DOT org. Three lucky readers/Tweeps/friends will get one!

Fair warning: content will contain bad language and in some cases, descriptions of even worse behavior.

Oh, and: your pathetic breakup stories are welcome in the comments, should you want to share.

this is the face of depression

Today everyone was perfect. The kids were wonderful and beautiful and my husband and them were like in the kitchen laughing gaily while sipping cocktails. They were a bucket of kittens. They were a unicorn painting. Everyone was stellar.

Except me. I sucked.

I didn’t sew. Not a stitch. I wrote this arcane little social justice piece no one will give much of a damn about and those who read will likely think I get all frothed up over unimportant stuff*. I didn’t lift a finger to sort out domestic life (leaving Ralph to clean house, cook food, grab groceries, set the table and serve dinner, and raise our children). I tried to knit something but I’m too inept to figure out how to do a provisional cast-on (yes this is AFTER watching YouTube tutorials). I didn’t even get any television-watching done. I bathed and got dressed – because I have never been in my life so depressed I didn’t do that – but that’s about the only thing I did that made me feel like a human being.

So really? You know those days where you just end up ungrateful and dispirited and you suck? Yeah. That was kind of the overarching sentiment.

* OK, rescinded, a few people liked it and a few more people at least “Like”d it.

bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid

Back in high school my closest girlfriends and I developed a system of “Badass Points”, an informally-tracked schema whereby each of us could earn group acknowledgement by doing something daring or asinine – and usually both (like skipping class and smoking with “the stoners” – this meant working-class or poor classmates who wore jean jackets adorned with Sharpie’d skulls and who listened to metal – or telling a teacher he had a sexy bum. Unconscionable but rather tame on that last one, I know, but in my defense we were seventeen and imprisoned in our family lives and school). I don’t remember our game running very long but it was much-beloved to me all the same. I liked the idea of being a Badass when most my life I’d invested in Good Girl, when indeed I was very afraid of many things. To venture out – only a bit – and be myself instead of the Convenience I was relied upon to be – felt grand.

In that vein, I don’t think I’d earn many points these days. I’ve become someone quite risk-averse because I’ve found my position oppressively policed by forces both tangible and many perhaps insubstantial to others’ eyes; I’ve found my Fearless ameliorated by events personally devastating that linger on. These days my “badass” mostly runs to deeply-committed-to concepts of fairness that are so inextricably wound up in spiritual practice and belief they are less individual instances of Awesome and more rewarding ways of life that I nevertheless continue to grapple with – for instance, trusting my kids in their wholeness and personhood

OR –

my “badass” consists of speaking up against oppressive social mores that are trite and common, yet devastating and ubiquitous: more wearying than acutely scary. Examples from just lately: this weekend in a group when a person wondered aloud how a missing girl’s family could have let the child out of their sight in the first place – and after a pause in the conversation I indicated my non-support for such victim-blaming and insensitive speech; another example, speaking out when my daughter’s hairstylist called skinny gym neophytes “gross”.

I know at least a handful of readers might think I’m badass enough given the above examples – and a handful of other readers will eyeroll at just how limited and cowardly I really am. Other people’s verdicts don’t matter so much – because what matters is I haven’t felt a Badass in some time and what’s more I feel it’s something I need.

Being a Badass isn’t about, for me, being a jerk to other people, or proving a point to someone else – it’s about doing something I want to do because I want to do it, and I’m a grown lady who’s allowed to make mistakes – right? – without looking around to make sure there won’t be a big scary reprisal, or wondering what my reputation (such as it is, because Who? Gives A Shit) will suffer. Why do I still fear things when I’ve survived through so much so far?

If I was Badass I’d stop running to spend my every last dime on my kids’ immediate needs and I’d “selfishly” buy myself some things I want – I’d let the kiddos have holey socks and stained clothes and I’d fix myself up with some slutty and awesome bra and panty sets and maybe a top that wasn’t an old band t-shirt. But on the flip side if I was a Badass I’d stop giving a damn for the folk who talk like it’s Empowering to collect Nice Things; I’d start saying “Fuck Off” (mentally) now and forever to those who speak prescriptively about those “must haves” that carry price points that don’t reflect my foursome’s economic reality and I’d say “No Thanks, but Good Luck With That” to those with worldviews that don’t concern themselves with the earth, with fellow man here and abroad, and with conspicuous consumption and the cultural heritage of being an American who just tramples and eats everything they see.

If I was a Badass I’d stop feeling crap about my bad habits. Fuck it. Seriously, I have them. They’ll lift someday, or they won’t.

If I was Badass I’d call up that friend who’s not been a friend and tell her, “You know what? You aren’t much of a friend, and it really hurts, and I know you’re busy, but you should know I have feelings.”

If I was a Badass I’d tell my friends, to their faces, I love you.

If I was a Badass I’d let the house be messy (OK, messier) and know that I would get around to fixing it at some point so let’s move on. Instead of what I do now, which is make sure to take care of that shit first, THEN decide what I want to do with the rest of my supposedly-“free” time.

If I was Badass I’d stop worrying about my husband’s health and trust him to manage his own self. God knows I do pretty right by him.

If I was Badass I’d seek more joy and maybe be a more loving and spontaneous and relaxed lady for this man. I’d quit working myself so hard.

If I was a Badass I’d sing loud in front of other people, because I love to sing, and the only people who ever, EVAR hear it are my kids.

If I was a Badass I’d stop feeling this weird shame we’re working class and have working class lives. I’d stop feeling it was my “fault” somehow, especially considering when I reflect on other people’s lives I truly grant them the same humanity and nobility inherent regardless of status and privilege or any lack thereof (or at least I really, really think I do).

If I was Badass, I’d stop feeling people have a right to give a damn or have a say about what food I feed my children, like I’m required to make sure they grow into some awesome consumers with prim and holistic eating habits I can put down to my awesome parenting. Truth is some days I love to cook more than anything, other days (like today!) I save my mental health and take a walk to the diner and get a veggie burger with my son, and it’s pretty funny how hot and cold I am on the whole good-housewife bit. I come nowhere near the mark on being good at this, the whole well-rounded awesome Mama routine, so it’s laughable I still put this pressure on myself. And yeah, I know people shouldn’t have that right to weigh in, but weigh in they do, and dammit, I let it get to me.

That’s part of my problem, maybe most of it. Deep down I keep believing people have the right to weigh in. On my worthDeep down I still really fear not being a Nice Girl. So many things I want to say but don’t. Or sometimes I do say them then later feel a very humorless shame because my words weren’t “Nice”, or they might have been uncouth or low class or “inappropriate” according to the voice (who?) of someone who, well the one thing I can tell you, is this person is not very fun anyway. The twisted thing is, I am a good (enough) person, and I’m a friend to many and do okay by those I take responsibility for. What am I really afraid of? And another really twisted thing is I know lots of “not-nice” folk and they are some of my favorite people and they’re not scary or horrid!

I’ve made it on my own steam, and that’s to my credit as well as the family and friends who support me so well and the privilege I was born with. But inside… inside I’m often cowering, afraid to lose things I probably don’t really need in the first place, cowering even knowing I won’t lose Me no matter what I do.

But you know. One last thing? I think just writing it all out, and letting it go publicly just what a coward I am?- like, PRETTY much, all the things I’m afraid of? All of a sudden, just now, feels pretty Badass. Hit “publish” – too late now.

It’s almost 2 AM and I hear my daughter giggling at something she’s watching (with headphones) on the laptop. You know what’s really awesome? That. I have her, today, and a sense of unabiding joy when I’m with her.

So I’m going to join her.

***

“Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

the noise of flowers and the smell of birds

Phoenix bundles up in layer upon layer and fits herself with her new hat and handwarmers and big boots, runs outside and jumps up alongside me in my mother’s truck, slamming the door which is a bit funny and doesn’t shut easily. Her face in the gloaming a freckled and friendly precious entity emitting some kind of ambient light that soothes me into a preternatural calm. We can sit in the car and drive in companionable silence and every second I feel grateful for my time with her and everytime she opens her mouth, I swear she says something so smart. At the grocery store she selects some flowers for her father, campanula get mee in a cool purple with a biodegradable pot. She pushes the cart, leaning on it while with one hand seats a complimentary Safeway cookie; I walk ahead with my moleskine cracked and my mind climbing up and around food needs for the family. For $67 I bring home several days’ worth of food and in the parking lot receive a call from my mother; dinner at her house tomorrow is secured, which means I can sew a little bit more than I’d originally hoped.

Terrible news accompanies us into the new year: our wee kitty Josie has been missing for four days now. The last time we saw her was on the snoopin’ walk I wrote about (and yes, we’ve cased the neighborhood and called animal control and put up fliers). I’m so sick about it I don’t want to think or talk about it as of course, I feel it’s all my fault. I worry so much she’s suffering somewhere. (This is unlikely. She’s either dead with no body evidenced, or has been snatched. Still. I obsess.).

If Josie doesn’t return, 2010 was shit as far as cats were concerned: first the loss of my beloved Blackstone then the mysterious and complete disappearance of Laurence and now this. Never have I had such cat-drama, and I’ve lived with cats all my life and in all kinds of wacky scenarios and alongside highways and in a coyote town and in the middle of the city. But when I think about it I realize for as long as we’ve had animals we’ve never been free of awful or sad or scary things happening (the death of wee little chick Peepteron 1 after my father’s demise; Felix’s possum-murder, Stryker’s mysterious deaththe neighbor’s loose terriers tearing up our chickens on Sumner, my mother’s dog being hit by a car a month ago – in both these latter two incidents the animals survived thank goodness) and really, pet ownership is just that. A deeply meaningful and joyous experience of love and companionship and the value or caring for another being; small triumphs and occasional large, very large, heartbreaks.

I really think my kids have a good perspective and I seek to emulate that.

They Placed 3rd In

And now? for a cold beer, soft bed, and warm husband.

***

Deep Winter
(Small Stone #1*)

Today the landlord didn’t come like he said he would
to fix the sink, electricity, leaking water heater.
We are interlopers in our own home
taking refuge from the cold.
Hanging shabby quilts, taking hot baths;
the bruise on my daughter’s hip faded
perhaps only a false memory

Small stone project

r.i.p. & pbbbth

We had a milestone today – a really crappy one. Early, early this AM one of our pullets was killed by an opossum. This was Felix Jr. – or “Rattlesnake” as the neighborhood kids called her for her speed. She wasn’t fast enough apparently. The other birds were shaken up but today with a few strawberry tops and sunshine they seem to be back to normal.

Ralph buried the bird last night and trapped the possum, bent on murdering it. I tried to talk him down. He is not a vicious man but he was heartbroken and angry. I told him What about the possibility of baby possums? etc. I went to sleep hoping I’d convinced him.

This morning while he was at work we IM’d:

me: Did you kill that opossum?

Ralph: No.
I won’t, either.
I read about them a lot this AM, and had a change of heart.

me: Good

Ralph: They’re not very intelligent, they’re migrant, and they eat whatever they can find. They’re opportunists, and generally beneficial to various areas by cleaning up organic matter – carcasses, often – when available.

They’re kind of like zen animals, doing largely good things.

Besides, that piece of shit dug out from where I’d trapped it.

Ha! But: yeah.

We’ve kept our hens pretty damn safe considering we’ve been in four different homes with them in neighborhoods with people who let their dogs loose. This is a good track record considering we’ve owned chickens for a couple years now (at least I think it’s about that long, and I canna be fucked to look it up on this blog) and besides loose canines the raccoons and possums can be quite determined (they have all night to get to it as hens at night won’t raise an alarm nor defend themselves). Our good track record and our loving TLC is comfort right now when, like any pet owner, he and I both feel guilty, sad, and suppressed that something went wrong.

We are sad at Felix, Jr.’s passing.

In other awesome pet news we’re dogsitting my mom’s poodle/terrier mix Tuck, who loves me very much, likely because I treat him very well and take him everywhere I go. Today he’s had a stomachache from eating something wrong and he’s alternated between keeping his tail clamped over his ass and his back humped up in pan, vs. shitting into the clamped tail, the latter of which led to the most vile shit-cleaning experience I’ve ever had (reader, please ponder on my breadth of experience). While I was at it I gave him a Dr. Bronner’s bath. Ralph dried him off and put him out on the deck to dry in the warm sunshine, where he currently sits and I where I decidedly hope he is not brewing another Fecalstorm.

Ralph and I just made the below video while cooking lunch for ourselves and an extra kiddo (lunch concluded with strawberry shortcake made from home-baked poundcake and lovely local berries, ripe and red all the way through). It cheered us up. (Soundtrack by my husband):

EPIC NAP:

The Sad Life of Kittens from ralph hogaboom on Vimeo.

(Let me tell you a little secret, it was LOUD and ACTIVE in the kitchen while this was made, also, the kittens followed up filming by a huge, huge long nap on my bed).

fucking off, SAHM-style

Much of my life consists of cooking and cleaning and most of the cleaning is really following along after creatures about three foot high and re-organizing, sweeping, de-cluttering, sweeping up, wiping down surfaces, and crying. Over and over. Think a parade with the horse poop-shoveler merrily right behind the horses. Except I’ve been doing it for years in a continuous loop and I’m feeding the horses the food that makes them shit.

The truth is, I give a shout-out “Amen!” daily that my duties no longer contain too much literal shit, having both children potty-trained (my son actually perfected his skills upon our move rather than the oft-predicted regression). This has actually freed up a significant amount of time in my schedule. So my (local and national) peer society tells me I’m supposed to plug a few more things into my life as well: working a job, volunteering for school functions, making crafts with kids, keeping the house even cleaner, visiting friends, taking trips to Costco to “save money”, growing my own food, working out, owning a matching and nice-looking furniture set, giving a fuck about furniture in general, doing yard work, looking sexy for my husband or the UPS dude, making a positive difference for our planet, getting a new hobby.

I think I’m hitting about a 14% on the abovementioned exploits. Mostly right now I’m (mentally) leaning back and enjoying not cleaning up shit anymore.

This could take weeks, if I want to do it properly anyway.

lovely gifts in the mail. and … ass.

In a few minutes: the family all-out for Sophie’s 5th birthday party. Yay Sophie! Yesterday she received a simply lovely birthday package from her friend Olivia (daughter to my friend Abbi):


From left to right: miso pretty gum, picture of Liv, fabulous summer fisherman hat, optical illusion book, small pewter night and dinosaur card.

Thank you, Olivia!

A few minutes ago I overheard my mom quickly turn to my dad and angrily say, “He smells like shit. Check his ass!” (referring to the dog who came in from his afternoon outside dump). And my dad kind of shrank in his chair when she yelled at him because he knew he’d have to do it. 10 minutes later and I am still laughing, laughing, laughing.

welcome to HQX. here’s a shit sandwich.

I am a nester by instinct, ability, and natural inclination. So when yesterday in late afternoon my children and I arrived in Aberdeen, met with property manager E. to our new place, I gave her my money, got the key, parked at my ‘rents house and checked out our new digs since it was – according to E. – “ready by tomorrow”, and found that upon opening the door it smelled like 12 KINDS OF ANIMAL EXCREMENT, well, I was a bit sad. And a few other feelings.

Which is how it smelled before it was cleaned and when we checked it out three weeks ago – because some trash were living there and letting an animal menagerie (which included birds, rodents, and a snake, the latter two categories presumably kept separate) shit or piss wherever, including a poor dog who my parents tell me howled and whined nonstop, poor thing. According to E. yesterday it had been “professionally cleaned, the carpet is clean and it smells good” but it was JUST AS BAD AS YOU CAN IMAGINE and my father who has lost half the senses in his body completely agreed as did anyone else I let in there (the children, telling them not to TOUCH anything). As in, I couldn’t even move my possessions in or those possessions would quickly end up smelling like a particularly vile cocktail of animal ass.

OK, breathe. It will be fine. Maybe. Today I went to see E. as soon as her office was open. The conversation did not go well and in fact got worse and worse as she was unwilling to take responsibility – “unforeseen circumstances” – WTF? – let alone apologize that a family of four counting on a move-in date of the 16th will now not have a place to move into. At this point, as much as I loved the house (sans the ass-smell), I was glad I had not signed a piece of paper with this woman. I got my money back and gave her my key. As it sits now – after a heated conversation where she told me I “need to calm down” because as you who know me know, I am just the type to be loud and crazy – she’s supposed to check the place out and sort out if and how they are going to make it liveable and if they are, when it will be ready. At this point I honestly don’t even know HOW they can get that odeur out without some major carpet tear-out, treatment, etc. perhaps including a match and kerosene. Mostly, also, E. was such a shit that I won’t cry tears if I have zero future dealings with her. Which is a shame because it’s a neat place, across the street from my parents’, I knew the guy who lived in it for years and years back in the day, and I would have loved living there. Again: minus the ass. The worst part for me in some way is that E. will probably rent to some other tenants who will take similar non-care of what will increasingly be a less beautiful old house. P.S. this happens in Grays Harbor, a fair amount.

So Ralph will be here tomorrow with a 24′ long u-haul (that’s feet, not inches) and I’ll probably have to put our shit in storage and be back to square one looking for a place. Balls.

Luckily we are not set up too shabby; camped rent-free (so far) in my parents’ large house, Ralph and I are getting along fine, and the kids are doing well. I am very stressed but I hear moving is one of the most stressful experiences to go through, so at least it’s par. Which somehow makes me feel better although I don’t feel that good.

This afternoon after my children had napped a bit (they are STILL at it) I crept up to the upstairs bedroom, set up my Mac and connected via wireless (P.S. this took three minutes) and took a deep, deep sigh of relief. With my Mac by my side, and family too I guess, things are a bit better already.