Wednesday, February 29, 2012

welcome to the world

Today, it is with overwhelming joy that I share the news that my beautiful friend Danielle has given birth to her third son, Jonathan. And this day, we remember and honor Kai, her first son, and we remember and honor Chip, her second, both gone too soon, missed deeply. Light two candles if you can for each of them.

If you don't know Danielle, let me tell you about my friend. She is full of compassion, grace, and wisdom. She abides, in the truest sense of the world. Her comments have been a breeze of empathy, love, and grace drifting through this community for four years. I am honored to know her. Privileged, actually. So, I wanted to do something for her, and yet wanting to respect her space and natural, understandable cautious optimism, held off until now.

And so, today, let us shower Danielle with love and welcome Jonathan.

If you can, whether you know Danielle or not, open your heart, welcome Jonathan, and write a message, blessing, or prayer to him and Danielle. I will print them out and mail them to her, though I know she will read them here too. But I have an idea...

Saturday, February 25, 2012


The boy threw up on my neck. I hate being touched, or kissed, or caressed on my neck. I am a meats and potato lover. No tickling or fancy soft touching. I want to be unteased. When I have wet, warm, half-digested food on my neck, it is more soft and touching than I can bear. I hate it more than even puke in my hand, and not knowing what to do with it. Throw it away? Rinse it off? What I really want to do is scream, shake my hand, and run far away from these barfy little people.

There was almost no escape from the virus. It was ON! MY! NECK! And yet, in the day proceeding my sickness, it seemed to want me to feed it large quantities of food, like chocolate covered almonds and rice cakes. Mango nectar and tofu. Probiotics and quinoa. It lulled me into a false sense of security. The virus is a hippy. A smelly, stinky, stomach-churning hippy.

When I began throwing up, I thought about how long it had been since I vomited and how often I used to do it. Through my pregnancies with morning sickness and through my twenties and early thirties with undiagnosed alcoholism. My head rested on the toilet seat, knees tucked under me. I dry heaved, and felt the muscles all over my body tighten and release. The pain surged down my shoulders. The nausea, vertigo, stomach churning minutes before you know there will be a clutching from the inside out. My husband asked me if the vomit suddenly overtook me, and I said no. It was more like when you drank too much and could go either way, but know it would be a better morning if you just vomited before you went to bed. The feeling that you need to get the poison out of your body. So, you go to the bathroom, kneel, and wait. You think of disgusting things, like the inside of the toilet bowl, or the things clinging to the toilet brush. That was what it was like. He cocked his head. Then I remembered he was a normal person and had no idea what I was talking about.

I didn't miss drinking this week. I was reminded of that feeling in the morning, the feeling at night, the feeling in the daytime. I always felt bad--a low-level nausea and headache that I never knew was a hangover until I didn't have it anymore. I had vertigo and was shaking, like the early days of sobriety. And I was throwing up.

I miss drinking when I was sophisticated and free. Charming and funny. I wore snakeskin boots, had a flat stomach, and painted deep red lips. I had a bravado that challenged people to kiss me hard in a bar, then I would knee them in the groin. I smoked cigarettes, and belonged to no person. My drinking was victimless, if you don't count me. I twisted my hair up in chopsticks, and I cussed like a sailor, because I was a sailor and a longshoreman and a whore and a virgin. Actually, I don't know if I was ever that person, not really.  But it is the film that drinking played in my head, over and over, distant, mysterious, exotic, liberated, sexy, macho. Loading the docks, unloading the ships. I drank a whiskey and chewed tobacco and spat into the garbage strewn water.

I bought a sewing machine. It is the anti-drinking move. I am too impatient to be a seamstress, but it feels good to be able to construct basic things, like pillows and meditations mats, aprons and hems. Nothing is straight, or cute. I am adopting the idea of wabi sabi and calling it a philosophy.

I just wanted to write today.

I don't have a purpose, really. No larger musing on grief and viral attacks. I just feel stranded on this island of sick. I have a friend who always says when you are suffering or sick, it is all you can pay attention to. It is true. When I was first grieving Lucia's death, that sentence would bounce around my mind often. When you are grieving, it is all you can pay attention to. It demands everything. When you are sick, it is equally impossible to be giving. I thought a lot about being sick, and what that used to be like versus what it is now. And I thought about what like would have been like if I had quit drinking ten years ago, the first time I asked for help with my drinking. I thought about the friends that are gone. And whether they are cleaning up puke too, whether they think things could have been different. But that is a dangerous road to walk down.

What are you thinking about these days?

Monday, February 20, 2012


My daughter asks me for a sister. One that is alive and plays.

She begs me for another.

"OH, pppppleeeeeeease, Mama. Please. Lucy is dead. You can't bring her back, Mommy. But we can still have a little sister who is cute."

My husband agrees. He nods and points his thumb at her. "Getta load of the girl. She is making a decent argument," he seems to say, smirking and devilish. I tell her that she may get a brother. There is no guarantee it would be a sister.

"That is okay. I will play with a brother too. I promise. "

She wears the deer antlers we made and sings a reindeer song. That is what she calls it. It sounds like shrieks and gurgles and whinnies. She gallops through the house. She looks like a woodland creature, some kind of fairy nymph that pops out of a knot in a tree and blows a forgetting dust into your face.

I want to try for another fawn. I do. Sometimes, particularly after baby showers and holding newborns, the idea seems incredibly good. They smell like vanilla and breastmilk and malted milk balls. Their feet are as tiny and soft as mosses under our favorite tree and their voices are bells, clear and fine reminding us of something bigger. But even the fairy dust can't help me forget the anxiety of Thor's pregnancy and the raw pain of Lucy's death. And I said I was done, dammit. Done. Yet this doesn't feel done. They cry for another fawn. I wonder if I feel that tug to have more babies because Lucia died. I wonder if we will always feel like there should be just one more baby, because there should be one more baby. Or rather there was one more baby. It is a riddle I cannot figure out. A Chinese handcuff--one idea goes in this side, and the other on the opposite side, and struggling only makes them tight and claustrophobic, inescapable.

I am too grounded in my comfort for a newborn. It is different when the bottoms of your feet hurt in the morning, and you have grey hair. I am already the oldest mom in the line waiting. The crow's feet and the paunch.

I ache, sometimes. I yearn. My uterus reaches up and opens its hands and moans, "Just. One. More."

She says a sister would play deer with her. Her brother wants to rip the antlers to pieces. Chew them and bury them and transform them into the trees. He is the Trickster, hiding and ripping and causing a beautiful chaos.  I try to explain to her the myth. He is playing a different role than deer. He is something else entirely.

I admit that the boy seems completely uninterested in having to share me with anyone. He wants to be on me. All night. All day. He grabs each cheek and stares into my face when I am talking to Beezus. If she climbs on my lap, he pushes, like a linebacker, all shoulders squaring off. And she screams, "She's my mommy too, Thor." He tries to move her off me. I find it so endearing and lovely to be wanted. I am wanted. I can't believe these children want me, and then I remember that I am their mother.

I am a mother!
I am thirty-eight!
I have three kids and a house and two trucks!
I clean the house every day and make dinner every night and listen to NPR!
I spend 24 hours a day with the kids and I'm not sick of them!

These things surprise me. Constantly. Do they surprise everyone?

My husband woke late this morning. We had a rough night with the kids. He was kicked in the neck, and went to sleep in the bunk bed with the little magical deer fairy who had a nightmare. I woke up with Thor sitting on my shoulder, repeating the word DOWN!  and pointing to the stairs. In the morning, after the neck kicks, my husband whispered, as the children ran with juice toward the fire.

"The middle of the night makes parenting so challenging," he said. His voice weary, defeated. "I wish I were twenty-five."
"If you were twenty-five, you wouldn't have the patience for the middle of the night."
"Very true, but at least I would be 25."

I am tired. I am not 25.
And I am thinking about deer.

What are you thinking about? What do you think? Will we always want one more when we are missing one?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I keep seeing labyrinths, or rather I am just noticing them. They have always been there. There is a sticker labyrinth on the stop sign near the funeral home four blocks from my house. One on the cashier's necklace. One in the bricks in front of my Monday night meeting. To walk a labyrinth is a meditation, perhaps even a prayer, so says The Wise Wiki. There are things I have forgotten, and this is one. My memory of labyrinths involve minotaurs, and Daedalus, and Ariadne. There wasn't a meditation there except do not let the bull-man eat your head.

When you go into a labyrinth, though it looks a tangle of confusing pathways, you always come out. I remember my natural birthing coach telling us this as she taught us to draw a labyrinth on cardstock. It was an exercise. Drag your finger around the path. You can't make a wrong turn. You can't get stuck in corners. You aren't in a maze. I like that there are no tricks. No cleverness here You are on one long path, spiraling to a center that turns around and spits you back out. She coached me to think of labor this way. I forgot, for obvious reasons, anything involving natural child birthing. It just was zapped out of my skull, like Attica Greek and the minutes before I found out she was dead. Wikipedia says the labyrinth is a symbol of our path to God, or the path to something else entirely. The beauty of that analogy sits in my brain for a moment. That is more comforting than minotaurs in the middle.

I dream of the dead. My grandfather and alcohol. They both smile and remind me of what I no longer have. I miss them both, separately, for their own reasons. And yet their absence is okay, they lived their lives.

My grandfather died in the same way that my grandmother died. She harbored an invisible and undetected cancer in her lungs, but still, they both died from pneumonia in hospital, eleven years apart. After my grandfather died, I found a notebook in his belongings. It was from the last days of my grandmother's life as the disease took residence in her lungs, ravaged her. She had a breathing tube in her throat and could not speak, so all their conversations were on this stenographer's tablet.

I can only read a page here and there. It is too overwhelming to read. Sometimes I wonder why I keep it, yet it seems too sacred to throw away. She writes, "It hurts, Michael. So much more than I can bear." And the next line, she asks if he found her socks. To read her suffering in her own handwriting on the page...I have often wondered if in his last days, he thought about that notebook. If he knew the pain that he would experience, the desperation that would be coming. I wonder if that death was something he feared, or more like the devil he knew. Pain I expect is always less than the pain of the unexpected.

The grief changed with the notebook. She suffered. I put that out of my mind, I suppose. I washed the death, because I was not there. It was a beautiful death in my mind's eye. She waited for my grandfather to come to the hospital. Then she let go in his arms. But this notebook reminds me that it hurt her. The illness wrenched the life out of her, squeezing her lung. This strong woman wept and begged for her life.

I never asked myself before if Lucy's death hurt her. Did she suffer? It is so easy to fall right into a maze of torturous grief thoughts. So easy, I didn't even realize I walked into the huge hedge maze with the sign in front that reads:


The other day, we sat at the traffic light in front of Harleigh Cemetery, the one behind Dunkin Donuts, where Walt Whitman is buried. It is a few miles from my house. "A famous poet is buried there," I said to Beezus. I don't know why I mentioned it to a four-year old. In the moment, I suppose I thought if you bury me, bury me next to Walt Whitman.

Beezus didn't miss a beat. "Is Lucy with him?"
"What do you mean?"
"Is Lucy buried there?"
"No, honey. Lucy was not buried. She was cremated. Do you know what that means?"
"It means that after you die, when your soul leaves the body and that person no longer feels any pain and all the tests are done, they burn the body and make sacred ashes. We have her ashes in our house."
"WE DO?!?!"
"In the living room."
"I suppose in some ways she is, but in many others, the important ways, she is not."

But is she in the living room? It feels like a puzzle I cannot solve. And I felt like I had to say over and over, but she is not hurting. It didn't hurt her to be burned to ash and fit into the smallest jar in the world.

I saw this sign the other day and I can't shake it.

I do not have a soul, it read. I am a soul and I have a body. 

Maybe the body is a labyrinth, our soul climbs in and travels about, like a corporeal pilgrimage. We think we are our thoughts. We think we are the body. We forget that there is a way out again. Like Icarus, the way out can be wax wings rising above the whole mess, or the way out is to go back the way we came, but the way of wisdom is to follow the path, wherever it goes, no matter how pointless it feels, because we know we get out somehow.

Grief, however, is a fucking maze. And there is a minotaur in it. The minotaur wants to eat your heart, and then have sex with your corpse. I know it is disgusting, but I am only telling you the truth of the matter. It's a goddamned minotaur. Awful oversexed beast. The maze is designed to catch you up. It looks straight forward, like a hedge path at times, but then it ends, abruptly. Straight up there is a green, dense bush. It can't even be called a bush, it is a wall of hedge. You turn and take another path, and there is another fucking minotaur. Except this minotaur has a concerned look and is asking you why you aren't over her death yet. She was so little, he says, and she hadn't even breathed yet. Maybe it was God's plan, and who are you, really, to question God's plan. You stammer. You  scream at the minotaur, "THERE IS NOTHING TO 'GET OVER'! I JUST MISS HER, ASSHOLE!" The minotaur feels sorry for you, tries to eat your head, and you tell him you taste bitter and salty. Later, after walking for a few more years, it becomes something else, the maze, I mean, not the minotaur. You realize you are walking out of it. You no longer give a flying fuck what minotaurs say about grief. Maybe the maze is an illusion so convincing, it should just be called real. You get out of it, but you must find your own way out. You create the turns. You create the exits. You must believe this path has a way out, even when you don't believe it. It is a riddle. After you walk out of it, you realize grief was a labyrinth, not a maze.

Except maybe that is an illusion too. There is never a way out, but there is always a way in.

I am trying to figure out what I want to say about death and grief, but it is right there, stuck in this puzzle.

Walk forward. You already are in the maze. Walk deeper into the rocky maze to walk out. Trust that you will come out. Or don't. But you will.

Friday, February 10, 2012

root canal

My molar got drilled and gutted. Nerves removed. It is the shell of a tooth. It has happened before. A few times. I knew what to expect. I go in there wanting him to pull the teeth. "Just banish the offending tooth," I say. "Get him out of my kingdom." But the dentist takes pictures, and shows me the bite, and importance of each tooth. He leaves them as anchors. Anchors, he calls them, for the other teeth, for a bridge, for the eating.

These teeth are empty houses. Abandoned row homes with graffiti and holes in their roof. Dark homes and covered with wood planks and rusty nails and notices hung by the state. He spent hours cleaning out years of hoarding and abuse. My ghetto mouth can only cuss now.


My jaw hurts where the dentist drilled into it. They cover my mouth, all but the decaying tooth, in a plastic cover, like a little surgical theater. I feel almost claustrophobic. I could give into it, the idea of my mouth being covered in plastic, and sucking uselessly.

Breathe through your nose. The pain will end now. It will end. Just breathe.

He uses little wire brushes to clean out the nerve. As I feel him digging in my mouth, I could see the brushes clean out the tooth, hear them scrape the inside of my teeth. I mean, in my mind's eye. I see nerves and my grief hanging on the delicate wires. Those little brushes loom so large. They are taking out a pain that trumps everything. No dishes. No grocery shopping. No punches thrown between children. Just tooth. Like morse code with each movement. I keep translating every shitty feeling into T-O-O-T-H.

"They are dead," he says.

They feel alive to me. Alive and fighting. I keep my eyes closed during the procedure. It feels weird to look into a man's face only inches from your own. We aren't having sex, but it is more intimate than I like. I hate this kind of attention. I try to sleep, which seems laughable. I am having a root canal. But my children aren't asking me for anything, and when my children aren't asking me for anything, I think about sleeping. In that moment, I couldn't imagine anything I wanted to do more than have a root canal. My tooth throbbed, nagged at me all night. I felt dizzy and angry and incensed. The root canal has moments of exact awful pain, but I know it will end.

My mouth tastes of infection and death. And I am grateful.

Take out the infections. Take out the pains. Take out the death. I will sit, jaw out of socket, until you are done. I will not move. I will not wince. I will myself to have good teeth, but they are grey and broken.

The dentist works to the dull drone of HGTV on in the background. People searching for their first house, their third. I imagine the houses they are searching for a home. They are nothing like the houses of my mouth with deep carries, blackened and dead with pain. Gang wars and rapid fire pain. I used to have a stud in my tongue. It was a divorce decision. Weeks after we separated, I traded a tattoo design for a tongue piercing, then I cut all my hair off, then I pierced a nipple. Nothing took the pain away. I tried everything, but I just wanted my marriage back. Sure, there was an endorphin rush. A momentary high, then nothing but the abyss again.

No one will ever love me again.

Years later, a dentist told me that I was breaking my teeth with the stud through my tongue, like a wrecking ball to the bottom of my teeth. He suggested I start smoking again, and then laughed. Just kidding. I was too old for such jokes. The pain from divorce had subsided. I wasn't angry anymore. I took out the tongue stud, and put it in my jewelry box. One day, my children will say, "What is this one, Mama?" And I will say, that went through my tongue, and that one through my boobie.

People used to die of abscessed teeth.  I am sure it was an ugly death. One of fevers, crazed, desperate pleadings. "Take me in my sleep. Cut out the tooth. Cut out my jaw."  The tooth comes out and the infection has ravaged too much. Everyone steps back and holds a hanky over their face.

I feel old. My eyes wrinkle into a smile, and my hair is greying. My matronly bun is dotted with age. My teeth are falling out. My feet hurt in the mornings, and my weight is something that suits me, because I no longer have to be thin and young. No more babies to be made. No more men to win.

I have a year of appointments to get my teeth right again. It feels good to take care of something I have avoided and packed away for so long. And it feels terrible to think of the amount of time I will be in physical pain and discomfort, but my teeth are an embarrassment. A horror show. The part of town, I don't want to take anyone. They are only getting worse. There are stabbing now in that part of town. Bleeding, abuse, quiet murders. But as I step through town, I see potential. First we clean out the death.

Monday, February 6, 2012

the hunger moon

I am hungry.

It scratches at my insides, and knocks on the enamel of my teeth. One bite tears through my face, up into my skull. Food cleaves right through the skull. Hi-Ho, right through the sinus cavity we go.

That will leave a scar. Or just an emotional chasm between pain and not pain. It is all you can pay attention to when you have it. The pain. I scream at the children to quiet down when they are chewing too loud.


My tooth has a heartbeat. I have been spitting blood. My tongue finds the pain over and over. Pushes at the pain. Bloody, cruel tongue forsaking the body behind her. I have terrible teeth, a mixture of bad genes and terrible drink-addled habits from spending my late teen nights in nigh squats and sweaty bars. My front teeth are cracked and yellow from being knocked out and gutted by dentists. My back teeth have pockets of carries and bruises, and large gaps from teeth that I don't remember losing.

Last night, I had two dreams. One I arrived in San Francisco and traveled by bicycle through the city as a courier. I saw my friend Charles. I stunk, but was happy. In the other dream, I cut my rotten tooth out of my mouth with a knife after drinking whiskey. Maker's Mark bourbon. There was a campfire, and a farty dog. I think this was a movie I saw once, but last night, in the middle of the night, when the fire went out of the woodstove and the over-the-counter drugs wore off, I was cutting it out. The tooth stunk. I was probably smoking rolled cigarettes, and had a holster for my boobs, like the tough broad that I am. But the bourbon was the first thing I saw in the dream. Maybe that is one of the only ways I would drink again, if I were removing my own abscessed tooth on the frontier with a buck knife. Once I saw liquor, I just wanted it on my gums, over my tongue. I'm still a drunk. No matter how brightly I try to see the other side. I could smell it when I woke up. The bourbon, that is, not the tooth. The tooth was just throbbing.

Give me, Bourbon. The deformed molar was chanting. Or give me death.

But I am hungry. For booze, or food. Mostly food, like a green salad with lots of pointy, hard things that I cannot eat right now. The drink-pulse comes every once in a while. I have to pray away the desire. I had to learn how to pray. I had to learn how to be trusting and ask for help. And say, I don't care how ridiculous this sounds to cool people, I want to live. And sometimes I want to be a cynical bastard again, kick shit, and say FUCKITY FUCK FUCK FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK! And then I do. I just say it. And it turns into a meditation. "Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck this." But it always goes back to something better than just fuck.

I am a joke.

I get it. It is funny. Jaded miserable miscreant figures out she's a sot. Gets gratitude. Finds a spiritual path. Now she is a corny motherfucker who oms and adores nature without irony and likes playing with her kids and thinks there is a connection between everything. I used to be a boozy, bitter cynic. I'd laugh too if I wasn't me. In my dreams, I am still a scruffy, miserable bastard slugging whiskey and cutting rotten teeth out of my jaw.

It reminds me of a party I once went to at my friend's house, and this dude walks in. Good-looking guy, suave, cut. My friend K said, "Is that Jon Secada? Tell that corny motherfucker that we don't drink his box wine around here." I get the feeling that I am Jon Secada and happiness is my box wine.

Ah, where was I? Yes, I am hungry.

Hungry for justice. Thirsty for liberation. I tattoo "BERSERKER" on my forehead and get pissed at people who stare at it. Don't you get that I feel a little crazy with all this oral pain? I slather on the Orajel, and someone asks me if it is alcohol-free, or if I prayed enough. I am praying for patience with them. I cannot use mouthwash, or vanilla extract, or cooking wine, or NyQuil, or cough syrup, but I'm using the damn benzocaine. It just numbs and doesn't get you drunk. It is safe. I slather it on, and drool. I pray again. Meditate. All the things everyone hates hearing about, except they saved my pathetic fucking life.

This afternoon, I am going to pay some cowboy to get me high, then pull my tooth out with some pliers and a knife. He will show it to me. It will be grey and disgusting and I will hope that he is mistaken, though I know he won't be. I am a nigh-Buddhist, after all. Nigh-Buddhists are supposed to have good teeth.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

happy buddha

He stretches like the Happy Buddha. All belly and smiles. Arms over his head. Hands turned in. God, I love him. I felt so lost when he was in my belly. I had no context. No clarity. No grounding.  I feared. I held fear in my womb. In my heart. In my smile. I lashed out. I turned in.

He might die. I would think. No, he will die. What if I love him too much? What if I love my children to death?

We all die.

But this death I had in for him contained suffering and knowledge and certain insanity for the rest of us. I would know he was dying, and not be able to stop him. He would know he was dying and ask me for a help I could not give. Replaying Lucy's death in my head was like watching a child fall off swing in slow motion. Every time I ran in vain, unable to reach her in time. And then I would think if he doesn't die, I am breaking him with my anxiety and worry and absolute unwavering fear. He will be broken.

He has a long stretchy life ahead of him. He runs and hugs and stretches like the Happy Buddha. I mention it again, because Buddha is his doppleganger. He nuzzles into my neck, and smooches me in a long dramatic MWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAmen. Kisses and nose rubs and arms twisted.

I am in love with you, Handsome.

He squeezes my face, and plants on solidly on my lips. I could get used to this. The girl climbs me too.

"She's my Mommy too, Thomas!"

He screams and nudges his sister. Points at her face. "SHE is driving me crazy!" He seems to articulate in one long whine. I took videos of them yesterday. One of them was him just bugging the shit out of his sister. This is what having a little brother is like. I want to show them when they are in college, when they have children. I should have intervened, but I was entranced. They are so lovely, even when they are annoying each other.

Later, when we are alone, I lift him on the table, and he kicks his legs out. I tell him that he was once in my belly. And he shakes his head.


Yes, Little baby. My big boy. You were right here.
(I point to my belly.) We always talked when you were in Mama's belly. You are made out of sparkling water and frozen berries, and every time I drank Orange Juice you moved for me. I called you Thor.


Yes, Tor. I called you Tor. Everyone called you Tor. Some still do. I wanted you so much. And when you came out, you were so happy. You fit perfectly into our family. I asked the doctor if you were okay because you didn't cry. And then the doctor flicked your heel, just like this, and you cried and cried. And the doctor said, "Yes, he is okay. He is just happy."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

taxes and death

Stretches pass between us this morning like a contagious yawn. I pull my arms upward, move towards the right. The girl follows, then the boy, then the dog. It is morning. We stretch. Fart. Yawn. Rub eyes. Sigh.

I am coming off a busy streak, then into another one. Today we craft. We paint. We walk in the rain.

So busy, I glance back at things lost in the wake. Paintings. Phone calls. Emails. Children. More peppermint tea for the kiddies. But I have done paintings, and cleaning, and shopping, and returning, and taxes. The bloody taxes.

When I started doing my taxes, I was listening to Japanese flute with monks chanting. It was peaceful. I lit incense, and took the excuse as quiet time. Taxes as meditation. Why not? There is a number at the end. The answer to your year. No questions answering questions. No children on top of me. No one asking me for anything. No death.

I organized all my medical expenses, my yearly donations, Etsy sales, and tax documentation that comes in this time of the year. I had color-coded tabs, highlighters, staples. Then I started.

Social security number.
Donation to campaign fund?

I can answer these questions. The children ran in circles from the bathroom to the dining room, giggling. Just outside the door of the office. I watched them from my computer desk. It was lovely. Then they began to circle into the office, small steps at first, just as the Schedule C and Form 8889 began taunting me.

You have no idea what you are doing with this calculator, Artist.

My Etsy shop needs a tax form. For the love of everything holy. I made a profit of $116 dollars after hundreds of hours of work. And now taxes on top of the insult.


grunt. snuffle. is that right? None of our medical expenses count?
Harumph. Capitalism sucks. How can we make too much and not have enough?


Scurrying like pecking hens, they chant in discordant shrieking, "One marker, Mama? One piece of paper? One sticker? One thing that is so important I can't live without it."


By the time I was itemizing, Jello Biafra was screaming California Uber Alles from my computer speakers.  And I was screaming at the children, they giggled. My knees folded up under my body, stiff neck, and buzzing from too much wheatgrass juice. Maybe I should meditate. I'm angry, or restless, or anxious. Turn off the punk.


I am thirty-eight years old. I am surprised at my life. It is a normal life. Taxes and Dead Kennedys. Little people who giggle and wrestle and ask me for paint.

What are you up to these days? Where the hell is everyone? Who does your taxes?