Monday, August 28, 2006

Blogging My Life

[Hysterical laughter is heard.]

My desktop computer crashed.



[She quietly goes to the bathroom with a noose and a Bud Light.]


Have I bared too much of myself in this blog? I think so. The blog has become a judge in my life, a mother having listened to my exposed truths - so many eyes, so many opinions, dangerous holders of power over my tentative groundedness, my fragile sense of control.

When I was a teenager and in love, I complained to my mother of the faults of this lover. I said, "He was mean to me, he did this and he did that." Then when he left me, I cried to her, I said, "He hurt me, he cut me right through the core of me." Then when my lover and I made up and I was giddy, my mother stood with her arms crossed and forbade me to see him again. "He hurt you," she said without regard to my passions, "he's a danger to you." She would not forget what I said about him, about his misdeeds. She would not let me forget what I said.

I felt something like that last night. All chaos broke loose, leaving me a shred of a woman. D and I stood firm on a decision regarding J and he lost control. When he was done, D and I collapsed on the couch, collapsed into one another. Drained. We talked late into the night - insomnia gripping me. I found myself caught up in the words of a drive-by poster whose comments I chose to delete because I didn't want that sort of meanness, "objective" meanness, in my "home" of a blog, but there I was wondering if what she said was true. Maybe our chaotic household is my fault, our fault. Perhaps everything I have on my hands is karmic justice. Yes, that person would say. Of course it is. everything would be fine, but for you.

I'm questioning all our choices with the boys - perhaps we should dump all the medications and start from scratch, perhaps we should pick up and move to another state, another town, get a fresh start, perhaps...perhaps...perhaps. Guilt pulls me down, deep under. Sadness, agonizing self-pity. Why is this happening to me? To my family? Why isn't our path one of sweetness, one of bliss? What will become of my beautiful boy? Of all three of my beautiful, energetic, non-academic children? Where did I read recently a quote, who said it? Tell me who said it? "When they least deserve your love, they need it the most."

Lord give me the strength to love an angry, burdened child. Let me be strong the way I'm supposed to be, and not weepy the way can be. Let me be part of what he needs to be upright, not a further weight that crushes him.

I should cut posts. I should slash away at all the exposure. Delete, delete, delete. Don't look, all. Just...don't fucking look. Pass me by, pass the mad lady at the side of the road, talking to herself and waving at demons and cursing the sky and the dusty ground she walks upon. Don't hand her anything, don't talk to her.

I find myself afraid of the very next moment. Paranoid. I cover that up. The kids battle each other now - I turn to them and ask that they get dressed. Choose a book and read quietly. I'm make a big lunch, feed them through their stomachs since I'm coming up short on the emotional food.

This morning, dreams haunted me. My mother was too busy for me. She moved from activity to activity throughout the cabin and I could not corner her to talk to her, to get comfort from her. She finally left and I was in tears. My father's second wife stood next to me and said, "I told you I'd always be here for you." A lie. My sister believes the dream was only a reflection of our reality - in fact, the second wife lives and in fact my mother does not. I woke up crying, feeling the pain of her loss and then just as suddenly as it had come on, I stopped. The mourning passed.

D had already left for work and when he called I was still in bed. Breathe, I tell J, breathe through the tics. Breathe, D tells me. Breathe through the fear. Believe. Be confident.

"Okay, honey."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Poetry-Fiction from 2002: Illicit - part 1

Soccer season is back on for the children. They've been doing it a long while, each year at a local church league that I like because it's less pressure. The children can either excel or chase butterflies and either way, they'll get hints on how to improve and a trophy at the end of the season. The place swarms with smiling parents and red-faced girls and boys, the place oozes a perfect cover, leaving me to wonder about underlying secrets. This series of poetic efforts came out of a single moment of observation of a man and woman, unrelated, giving each other a subtle glance before blending into the sea of flawless families.


"Snack Bar"

Chocolate donuts, sprinkled, glazed,
Black coffee, creamer, sugar,
Pretzel twists in a bag.
Fifty cents in my sweaty palm,
As I see you.
Goatee, salt and peppered,
Hazel eyes looking directly at me,
You make me blush.

"Large coffee," your voice hits me,
A kick of the ball to the chest.

Wedding ring glimmers
In a ten o'clock sun.
Gold shoved into the pocket of my jeans,
Hidden like another bit of lint.

"Anything else?" I ask.
I know what I want.
You say nothing at first,
Shaking your head and grinning knowingly.
"A goal for the team would be good," you say at last.

"One for the team. Here's change."

You walk away.
Stop an errant soccer ball,
Throw it back in play.


"Ladies Room"

Trembling hands, eager mouths, wetness.
An empty coke can rolls along the floor.

A break in the game,
Sounded by a whistle.
"I gotta get back," I pant.

Sticky skin rubs against mine.
I gasp - we gasp,
As I'm pinned against the wall.

"Stay to left! Go, go, go!!"

Water from a leaky pipe puddles beneath us,
We splash unconsciously.

"Goalie! Get it, get it, get it! YES!"

Slick fingers pressed into my mouth,
I taste myself.
The door ... someone's at the door.
Hurry now, hurry.


"Aztecs versus Fusion"

Squinting, I watch the swarm
Zig-zag between guarded nets.
The ball leads, pushes, pulls,
My eyes tire at the work.

Squeals, hoots,
Hollers, chuckles,
Clapping enthusiasm,
Such blind sweet love.

Metal bleachers absorb the sun,
Too hot beneath me.
Lemonade-filled cup sweats beads of icy water,
not enough to cool me as I rub it across my cheek.

One goal, two. A tie.
The hour nears its close.
You lean forward,
An excuse to touch.

I don’t know your name,
I like the anonymity.
I hope to keep it that way.
I know it won’t last.

The heat is endless, isn’t it?

Saturday, August 26, 2006


I'm babysitting my sister's beautiful kids this Saturday evening - brought two of my own to provide the entertainment. They're easy this way, fish in a fish bowl, bobbing in a quiet current, happy as they swim about colored rocks and swaying stalks of green. The littlest giggled loudly at the smallest things - so sweet Izzy is at age two, on a cool night, after a hot bath and a book.

J stayed home with D, chatting online, skateboarding outside, making plans for his 13th birthday party. Things are set for home teaching due to the still-severe vocal tics. I'm worried about him doing the work for me, worried about him getting lonely for a social life. We'll keep looking for that magic medication to turn the noise down - I feel so helpless in this regard. We're trying relaxation techniques, but they feel powerless to that terrible itch in his throat that's a tic, that makes him shout out. I want to grab him up into my arms and love this away but he squirms out of my grasp. There is novelty in the idea of not attending classes, but there will come a day when he watches his siblings leave the house, and hears of school gossip, and on that day staying home won't be so fun anymore and he will want to go back. I hope we'll have things "fixed" on that day.

School begins for me on Tuesday and my lectures are prepared. I find myself less nervous now that the books have been cracked open, that my mind has been smoothed and coaxed into thinking of the law and of assignments and quizzes.

Soccer season started for the kids - A and M. They ran and kicked and sweated in the early morning's sun. D and I sat with the other parents in our blue folding chair, sipping coffee, cheering each child on. In between games, I rushed M home for her to change clothes, to grab pancakes from McDonald's. Returned to the game, we sat back at the side of the field and cheered A as he ran like mad and kicked like mad and came up to us, asking for water to be poured on the crown of his head to cool him off. When we got home later, I chuckled when he said, "I wish the game was two hours long. It was so good."

Ahhh...the kids don't want to sleep. I have to go shush them, kiss them goodnight.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Another Day, Another Dollar

So...the butter in the tub of butter went flying one way, and the plastic tub went another. I threw the tub. Across the kitchen and when I was done, I had to pick up the clump of Earth Mother buttery spread with my hand, grabbing up dust and one strand of white hair off my head. Plopped it all back into the tub.

A good role model, me. Throwing buttery spread as I screamed, "Don't you talk to me that way! You learn to control your anger,!!" Something, something vile came out my mouth at the close of those commandments that probably shouldn't be repeated. Ironic, hypocritical...such a good I now see that my eldest, freshly-teen child has managed to crawl into that part of my brain that is cabable of collapse, a place only occupied by my mother, my brother, and my husband. Now J.

I've got a migraine. I'm at the computer, a Diet Coke at my side, M using a wet paper towel to wipe down my desk (water/wood, not a good combo, but whatever). D's watching "the Closer," J's skateboarding outside, A's nursing a bike-riding-wound ("I was riding on the grass and Sassy was biting my tire and I fell and look, something pinched me right here! See? Owwwww..."). I'm tired.

Got my hair trimmed today, got a little color to soften the blow of my intensely grey hair. Watched my shadowed, weary face in the mirror as my hairdresser chattered on about her life, about the parallels of our lives.

"You said that to J?"

"Yeah. After the butter thing."

"Oh honey, that's nothing. Two days ago I told mine to SHUT THE **** UP! DON'T THROW YOUR ****ING BULL**** AT ME YOU UNGRATEFUL ****!"

I laughed, cringed, "Ouch."

"How is it they drag you into the dirt?"

"So low, so deep into the mud, I don't think there's a way out."

She chuckled, "We've all been there. Ain't proud of it, but they have their ways of bringing it out."

They have a way alright. M got her hair cut, too. Trimmed the ends into a nice straight line. For months now she's been like a circus girl, the left side of her head, long hair, the right side, just below her shoulder. Don't know how it happened - I suspect she got creative with scissors. Either that or I got over-enthusiastic when I had to cut a chunk of hair that got caught up into some light-up, twirly toy. She's even now. Ready for school. Ready for all that hair to grow out again. A got his hair cut, too. J still sports his Glam-rock hair.

Afterwards I rushed home, straightened hair whipping in the open window's breeze, swept up the boys and headed out to Pasadena to meet with their doctor. A's doing well, J's obviously a little stressed. From there, we flew across town to the neurologist for the tics. They've decreased with the Keppra but we're still seeing spurts of real loudness. So...Zoloft's on our list now. Address the anxiety. Let's see if we can soften the blow of external stressors so he won't tic as often. Makes sense. He was nervous for the doctor and you could hear him outside the office.

"You might consider home-schooling until we get this sorted out," the doctor suggested.

"We thought so too."

"You mean, I don't have to get up in the morning? Whooo!"

The drive home was slow, traffic heavy, but the boys seemed strangly elated. Happy even. J had a good talk with the neurologist. The doctor answered lots of his questions. Told him lots of stuff about other Tourette's patients of his. Assured J that he's not the worst he's seen.

Oh, oh...D's up. Saying J damaged the plastic pool with his skateboard, but I intervene, "No, no, I saw it was broken last night. I think Sassy got to it."

Battle averted. Apology.

Bed for all. I've started prepping for school. Finished each syllabus for the three classes. Polishing up on the opening lectures. Tweaking the approach. Adjusting the tempo.

I'm ready for a change.

Monday, August 21, 2006


The boots were made of a deliciously soft, worn leather with a bluish tint and boasted colored rhinestones on the pointed toe in a sweet diamond shape. The heel, a classic cowboy cut. They stood out among other boots and shoes – the shelves lit up in a bastion of modern style. Touching the boots, picking them up in my hands and caressing the uppers, I realized I couldn’t find the sticker. You know, the stickers all things for purchase have. Where was the sticker, for God's sake?

“How much are the boots?” I asked, giving up.

The salesgirl looked at me, confused, saying nothing. A security guard standing at the entrance’s metal detector glanced my way.

After an awkwardly long time, I repeated, “Excuse me, you, how much do these boots cost?”

She looked around, fixed her black hair (straight hair pulled up into a spiky bun) and smoothed her mismatched clothes. Sighed. Smiled, showing gums and teeth. Silver piercings glinted in the store’s canned lights. She spoke slowly. “The…boots…are…two thousand four hundred sixty-three dollars plus tax. They are original Floops.”


“Floops.” She chuckled, “From Floopsters on Robertson. The one and only.”

“Do you take Discover?”





The salesgirl straightened her slouch and cleared her throat, the security guard now right next to me. He looked like the guy from the Transporter. Cannily so. His face just as unreadable as the Transporter himself. He breathed heavily, and I could feel hot air on my neck.

“We only take Platinum American Express and the Fort Knox edition of Beverly Hills Bank.”

A wave of chuckles spread across the floor, other customers having tuned into our discussion.

“What about a check debit card?”

“Look,” the girl conceded, “we have some sale items in the back room if you’d like to have a look. Please leave your knocked-off, very-big purse at the front desk, with Blaine, our security guard.” She eyed my clothes from Target and smiled a sad smile. “On the other hand, if you get back on the…” She cleared her throat, clearly disbelieving the words she was about to speak aloud. “If you get back on the San Bern-ar-dino freeway and get off at Figueroa and turn right, you’ll eventually find the garment district of Los Angeles. There, among your people, you might find some bargains. The people will even...haggle. Maybe they’ll take this…Dees-koo-ber card of which you speak. They take all sorts of foreign currency, actually. You know, like pesos and rupees.”

There was nothing more I could do – D and I had crossed the border inadvertently. We’d left our San Gabriel Valley and had become aliens in a foreign land: Beverly Hills.

See, D surprised me with a weekend out of town. The babysitter came and spent the night while we got a top floor room with a view of Century City at Le Meridien hotel on La Cienega and went to the Hollywood Improv comedy club. We had dinner at the Stinking Rose. And shopped a little. Very little. We really did laugh at how fish-out-of-water we were, little hillbillies just off Walton’s mountain, just emerged from our double-wide on our lot by the pond where we swim naked and fish for dinner. My cute Kohl and Target special clothes, alien to the residents, drew pitiful stares. My Off Fifth sandals, strange brown leather straps wrapped around my sun-tanned feet…clearly from another planet. And my purse! Say no more. Is that from a swap meet?


The most spoken phrase, “We don’t take Discover, among a slew of other cards. What is that anyway? Can I see it? I don’t think I’ve ever actually SEEN a Discover card. I did learn about it in my social studies class though, right after learning of the Crustacean period.”

“But they take Discover in Upland!!”

“Up-Land? What about Down-Land? Or To-the-Side-Land? Hahahahaha! How funny the little girl in the funny green top speaks! Oh isn’t she cute in a chubby sort of way? Do you hear her accent? Come on, say Louis Vuitton again. Hahahaha!”

The comedy show was good, but not as good as the one in the stores we glanced through, not as funny as we felt, walking the streets and Beverly Center walkways where the rate of exchange is extreme to our single dollar – their two thousand bucks was like twenty dollars to them.

In the end, though, we had a good time. Definitely a very interesting, restful, over-night-stay. We'd do it again. If not for the homecoming alone. How glad we were to see our barefoot ragamuffins on our asphalt driveway, standing next to our 2001 Suburban with the dents and A's name scratched on the side, and our beloved dog rushing past us towards the street and into the creek without even a sniff. How happy we were when the kids clutched to their little chests the free hotel soaps and shower caps.

We love the San Gabriel Valley. There really is nothing like home.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Family Trip

We sang Kumbayah, roasted marshmallows over an open fire, and had group hugs in the cool, fresh air. We hiked together, looked across amazing mountain peaks, prayed together, supped together, and had deep, star-gazing talks…

And then I woke up.

Hahaha…yeah, yeah, the family freakin’ trip with my sister’s lovely family to their cabin. I have to tell you, there were times on this five-day jaunt to Mammoth Mountain that I wanted to pack my single suitcase and walk to the airport a few miles down. The main culprit was my beautiful, shout-tic’ing (how DO you spell that word?), angry, almost-thirteen year old, J. Let’s see, in the five days, he repeatedly asked to go home, shouted at us no less than twenty times, kicked his bike, broke his skateboard, smacked a museum exhibit, and bugged every living soul in that cabin (except two-year-old Izzy – she always smiled at him and he always smiled back) until I was literally in tears.

In his defense, I understood his anger. Wherever we went, people would turn to look at him because he made loud Tourette noises, and many who turned would make loud comments. We had one woman glare at him every time he tic’ed. It was hard.

“Why does he make that noise?”

“Is he coughing?”

“What IS that?”

"That's a funny noise, huh?"

One athletic-looking lady turned to her husband and said, “It’s Tourette’s,” then turned to my sister and asked, “Right?” The husband, too, turned to my sister, saying, “Don’t they have medication for that?”

“Yes, but it takes a long while to figure out what medication.”


Exhausting. He exhausted me. The condition exhausted me. As a note, an early epilogue, the Keppra at a higher dose (2 grams a day) seems to be working, finally. Yes, he started doing it again just now, but there seems to be a window here. I’ll give it another week before setting an appointment with the neurologist, to demand that they fix this, before school starts because there is no way he can sit in a classroom shout-tic’ing.

We did have fun, though. No, really. We were surrounded by pure mountainous beauty, thinned air, and a sense of freedom. The best part had to be the wild mountain bike ride down Mammoth Mountain (on the “easier trail”), sliding and careening, on a shock-installed mountain bike (which is set in such a way that our knees were up much higher than we were used to making for quite the period of adjustment). While the ride was sandy, there was the potential for more experienced riders to catch air and hit higher speeds on the curves. We, on the other hand, cruised down the trail – I fell one time, got the bruise to show for it – in about two and a half hours (we were told it would take an hour). Sure, we had a six-year-old with us and he did slow us down (sweet TH, he was a good sport), but I’m not sure my sister and I would have gone all that much faster. My sons, though, and D (after J and D got over their mountain-biking discomforts), jammed down the trail, having to wait nearly half an hour for the rest of us.

The nights were chilled, a fantastic difference from here in the lowlands. The hiking around the campground gave us gorgeous views of a tumbling waterfall and the most peaceful, lapping lake. Fishermen spotted the water’s skin, a deep, wavy blue in the sun. The kids went jeeping with their uncle – all six of them piled into the old army jeep while DH rode like mad over trails to Lake Mary for a boat ride, or into town for a pizza lunch. One morning they went fishing – the boys in the fishing boat, the girls on the dock with D (who surprised himself by learning to bait the hook and cast the line). Our dinners consisted of margaritas, slow barbecues, and the sound of the kids playing on the rocks around the cabin. Our nights after the children went to bed, had the four of us chatting until late, until our sides hurt with hushed laughter, and our eyes just couldn’t stay open any longer.

Our one adventure – a flat tire on the way to the fish hatchery. Funny, that, D looking shocked, the sound of air from the tire, the sinking to the right of our black Suburban, the kids yelling with pure joy to see the flat tire. We all climbed out and DH grinned, nodded, determined to get the spare on way before the triple-A could even roll a truck out the driveway. The kids began wandering the open field surrounding us and I followed them, finding an obsidian chip which pushed them to hunt even more. They had such a good time hunting for the black, shiny rock they didn’t want to leave. We did though – we visited the hatchery, watching the hundreds of rainbow trout in their open tanks, hundreds that would be dumped into the lakes for the fishermen.

We were sad to leave – the five of us could have stayed longer but I opted for the drive down the hill along with my sister. I couldn’t bear much more of J’s upset. Also, the kids love being their cousins…left alone, just the five of us, sadly, I felt just wouldn’t be the same. There’s too much space between them. They seem like three only children, or three first-borns. They butt heads far too often.

So we’re down the hill, back in the Los Angeles heat. School’s around the corner. The day’s slow. I overheated a boiled egg in the microwave and it exploded much to our amazement…twenty seconds on high! Yellow pulp spread all over the inside of the microwave and on top of the stove’s burners. Like snow, like fine paint.

We’re home again, after such a short jaunt.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Back from Mammoth...

I was supposed to post a "Goodbye, see you in a few days"-post, but never got around to it. So here I am...back. More on the weekend later. Unpacking. Unwinding. Sighing.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Blogging Bud Light

I've drunk an entire Bud Light in a bottle in like ten minutes, deciding I'm going to blog the experience because...well, I always forget how nice it is to have a little alcohol with food, or while kicking back and reading in the sun, or while by the pool, or while in a bar with good friends, with family. My back space is busy because I keep adding letters, a j here, a w there, an extra e or too many a's. Now, Bud Light isn't my favorite but it's here and I don't mind and I still feel that sweet, all's-well-on-the-homefront, and isn't that person I'm with just wonderful, handsome, and all-around perfect? Oh! And it's my husband. To think he's so wonderful, and I married him. Oh me. Oh my.

I've got Orange Chicken on the stove, some basmati wild rice thing in a pot, and I've completely forgotten what I planned to blog. Perhaps it's that good feeling I wanted to blog about, or the massive crusges...sruches...crushges...crushes I have on the following bloggers I've run across on the internet:

**** and

***** and

long gone ******

and...oh yes... ******. Hahaha...I bet that one surprised you all. I bet you're thinking...I had no idea Adriana was a ********. Hahaha...just like at that party I attended back in 2001, recovering from my mother's death, letting loose...woweee! The hostess of that night reads the blog. In silence. Never posts. She could attest to the events of that night. Oh hell, I'll just lay it out for you. It started with 80's music and a whole bunch of Lemon Drops.


I know. It shocks you to read this.

[Edited because at the time this was written Ms. Bliss wasn't herself. She really ought not post when she's been drinking.]

So yeah, omg, what are you all going to say about me?! Innocent Bliss, dear devoted Bliss...she's deep inside, still a devoted mother after all. Doomed! I'm kidding, seriously.

I drank a Bud Light and I made some silly jokes and A laughed and so did M, and I was pleased to have let go a bit of the nervousness for the trip, the annoyance with D (isn't it always that way when a family departs for a vacation?), the anxiety about school starting in two weeks. My mother used to drink - she turned to the drink - and we hated when she did. She'd get very amorous with whatever man was around her, she was overly affectionate. She used to deny the drinking. Later, as adults, we chuckle over it. Back then, I just used to get angry. yes, the dinner's burning and I'm here blogging. Wheeeee! Scooby Doo is on the tube, J's gotten home, ticcing a storm, but he's good, he's happy. He says a girl likes him. Of course because he's a drummer. He's cute. He's quite accepted in spite of the noise. As I talk to D, I can tell he's suspicious of my easy-going-ness. He keeps looking at the bottle next to me. The empty bottle. I can also tell that the Tourette's thing is more a problem for the parents than for J. He's noisy - the pills do nothing - it's probably more evidence of his mood swings than pure Tourette's...or they're intertwined...hard to untangle where these things originate. But yes...while it bothers him, I think it bothers him knowing it bothers me and D. The more worried WE get, the more upset he gets.

So we need to shut up about it. We need to be as quiet we want him to be. We need to be.

We're leaving tomorrow night for Mammoth. Did I post that already? Yes, tomorrow after J's camp concert. We'll be coming back on Thursday, it looks like. Wow, a whole week without the blogspot at my side. I have a notebook. I'll have to take notes. I doubt I will. all my plans for the summer. Remember that post? Yes, it's all gone. Didn't accomplish a single thing, a single BIG thing I wanted to accomplish.

I suppose small things are good.

I was going to close with something brilliant, something wise. All I'm thinking is...darn it...nothing. I'm thinking nothing. My mind hasn't expanded in any way I was hoping.

Maybe the next time I'll have to try a Corona...or an Ale. Yes, an English, warm ale. Or maybe I should stick to ice tea because I think I'm gonna puke.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I can see September...

Actually, the date that's getting me anxious in a negative way is August 28 and it's just around the corner, the beginning of the fall semester. I enjoy teaching, I do, but for some reason -- perhaps laziness, or a mild fear of being inadequate, or feeling "teaching law" is too high a goal -- I've got a nervous stomach about it. Butterflies in my tummy, as M would say.

We're leaving for the mountains, to the infamous cabin, this coming weekend. J's camp concert is at 4:30 on Friday afternoon and then we'll hit the road right after at 6:00. This will give us three full days at beautiful Mammoth Mountain before heading back down the hill on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to it - our last days of freedom. Then school will start for everyone. Back to a routine, back to homework, back to getting up early.

I'm tired, sleepy, cranky just thinking about the start of school.

I've noticed that depression has snuck back. Today, I did nothing really. Lay in bed until 9 or so, went back to bed at 10 or so, got into clothes near 11 only because my grandmother knocked at our front door. I also noticed D's and my funny balancing act. When I'm down, he pulls up. When he's down, I'm the one pulling up. We have a classic see-saw relationship. He's been really optomistic, energetic even, today while I sit at the computer like a lump. He's got the vacation list in his hand and is starting to pull things down, getting them ready for packing. I hit the news pages on the internet. He's offering hints and supportive comments for me, telling me the beauty of being a teacher. I hit the blogs. He's on the phone now, chatting with fellow teachers, prepping for cross-country coaching. I flip on the tv to the soaps while munching on a low-fat mozzarella stick.

Yesterday, I had plans on getting a pedicure - never managed to get to the shop. I went to pick up J from music camp and the moment he got into the car, he asked to go places, asked about his person, how does he look, he must look good because girls were talking to him all day. He was talking at a high pitch, loud, clearly a bit hyper, and immediately a headache began. We stopped at my sister's place for dinner and ate pizza. Took pills for the pain. By the time we hit home, after battling the 210 freeway's traffic and M's whiny nastiness from the back seat, I had a full-on migraine.

My grandmother stopped by just a little while ago - oh yes, I mentioned that already - on her way to a doctor's appointment. She had cataract surgery some weeks ago and the healing isn't going well so she holds tissue to her eye and pauses conversation because her eye hurts, her left eye. I fed her, like she was one of my children. My grandparents are at that stage. They need a little something extra these days, a little extra care, a small plate, a little food. Since I'd already made hot dogs for lunch (turkey, I gave Mama one, too. She wanted it cut with ketchup on the side, the way M likes it. I put a little pile of raspberries on the plate. Brought her a glass of milk. Sent D to the market for Tylenol for her, because she was in pain, her eye swelling slightly and weepy. My grandfather has even less of an appetite - he only wanted cookies and milk. I put cookies in a small bowl for him and he was happy. Slowly ate his way through the cookies. The two sat at the kitchen table watching and chatting with M and A who were stamping and coloring on paper and my grandmother got into the act, too. I made grilled cheese sandwiches for A and me.

I felt like such a mother - sandwiched in between sets of children. I was reminded of my own mother. How I'd grieved the reality that I'd never get to mother my mother, that I'd never be sandwiched. Not true. Here I am...peanut butter. Oh that's sounds dumb, doesn't it? Bad writing. Which reminds me that A discovered Sassy likes peanut butter. He's been giving it to her just to watch her repeatedly lick her lips. He laughs a belly laugh whenever he feeds it to her, never failing to comment to me how much she loves the peanut butter.

The mother of A's friend called me last night and I never called her back. She wanted us to take her son today - just for a while please - just a little while as she's not feeling so hot from her surgery and the thought was too much for me. So I sit here, knowing I flaked and feeling badly about it. I'll have to call her and apologize. Tell her we'll have him next week when we get back from Mammoth.

The kids want me to play with them and I just can't, don't want to. I'm going to grab a book and let myself get sleepy, sleepier than I am now, so I'll close my eyes to everything and pretend I have months and months of nothing to do but focus on the noise J makes and my sun tanned feet and Sassy scratching her neck and D marching around the house as he puts clothes away from the just-done laundry.

There are so many more clothes to wash in summer. How funny that is.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lost Words

I lost an essay of mine about tea cups, saucers, cracked china and blood, an essay about my mother. After searching my computer archives and another online journal, I’ve come up empty. It may have been something beautiful and poetic, full of pain and missed opportunities – perhaps I just wanted it to be. There wasn’t much about my mother’s death that was beautiful and poetic.


The woman in front of the room was past seventy years old, and she wore a print flower dress with an eyelet bib and a sparkling broach. She’d brought her collection of china tea cups and saucers and had them spread across the linen covered table. Flower centerpieces and books about formal tea filled in the empty spaces. Tea pots and tea cozies and pretty paper napkins and placemats and invitations reflected her pride and she leaned forward into the microphone to make sure we heard every word she said, “After everyone hears my story, you all should be ready to hold your own tea party.”

Next to me a woman in pristine Sax Fifth clothing, pearls highlighting her ivory skin and hair, skin nearly translucent with years on this earth, said, “If a tea’s that much work, I’ll stay in bed, thank you very much.”

The tea party woman continued, “And if you break a tea cup, don’t worry. Mismatched tea cups and saucers and tea pots are all the craze.”

I wondered when she’d get to her story, the real one she wanted to tell.

“Flower arrangements don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful – just stick freshly picked flowers into one of those broken tea cups and you’ll be all ready to go. You can also put candies into a tea cup and send those home with the guests.”

Sax Fifth Avenue grumbled, “If I had any desire to send gifts, I’d just order off the internet.”

“Another thing that’s wonderful are these little sugar cubes shaped into flowers and such. People never want to use them, though. So when the tea is done, I collect them, save them, and wait for my next tea party.”

The tea lady clasped her hands and breathed into the microphone, “And with every sip of tea, you sip the love of the Lord. Let me tell you my story about finding Jesus.”

Ah, the story. I leaned back in my chair, scratching an itch on my head, wondering if Sassy finally brought home fleas, damning those worthless Hartz collars, and listened to the tale of the tea lady and Jesus.

“I was raised in the church,” she said in a deep, melodramatic voice, “and spent every Sunday in Sunday school. I worked hard for the church and memorized many bible verses. But I never felt the love of Jesus, not personally.”

“If I wanted to feel the love of Jesus, I’d just lay in bed and watch Billy Graham.”

Wait, I thought, isn’t this the Christian Women’s Lunch? I bent and whispered, “Aren’t you a Christian?”

“No, I’m a Republican. I worship nothing. Oh…no…I worship Visa and Mastercard and my Arco shares. Can you please pass the butter?”

I checked my tea after I passed the golden pats on a plate. I wondered if someone slipped a peyote button into my white china tea cup. My cell phone buzzed in my purse and then began to sing the blues, a lady in a large blue hat glaring at me, shaking her crucifix necklace at me. I clicked the phone off.

The tea lady began to weep, part of her speech having skipped over me, lost in the air and my buzzing phone, “And then my husband died from a bad case of syphilis he caught from a toilet seat in Rio de Janeiro while on a mission for God. Too much pain after having watched my daughter get run over by the MTA bus as she chased her black beast of a dog across the street. I knew I was missing something in my life.”

“If I knew I was missing something in my life…”

“I know, I know, you’d have just stayed in bed.”

“Yeah…getting the high hard one from my husband. Don’t you know women want to be fucked to God?”

I drank all my tea down. Blinked and stared at the tea lady on her knees and praising…something. “It was horrible! I had no personal relationship with Jesus! So I joined a prayer group!”

Someone tapped my shoulder and I got scared, thinking it was Jesus. I shook my head, no, no, I’m not ready to die, I’m not ready to meet my maker, I don’t want to sit at the feet of the Lord!

“Are you Mrs. Bliss?”

“Yes,” I said, turning around, getting glares from all over now, a bunch of crucifixes and tiny black hotel bibles being shaken at me by a bunch of ladies in hats. “That’s me…Mrs. Bliss-going-to-hell.”

“I have your daughter in my dance class,” she hissed, trying to be quiet, “And may I ask why she insists on screaming at my students if they don’t wear matching clothes? Is she autistic?”

“No, she’s just pre-bipolar. It’s okay, I’m starting her on pre-bipolar medication in order to prevent the full onset of the disease, you know, like prenatal vitamins that you take before you’re pregnant?”

The ballet teacher just stared at me and then walked away from me, backwards, “You are a monster!”

I turned in my seat and smiled to everyone else just as the tea lady got back into position at the podium, “Please order my book, ‘Tea and Jesus and Purple Sugar Cubes’. Thank you so much for the invitation to speak.” The room stood for a full standing ovation and an envelope was pressed into my hand by another lady in a hat, “Give to the children.”

“Of course,” I said, digging into my purse for a few dollars and a coupon for a free Filet-o-Fish. A woman began to sing in an operatic voice, a Disney song about finding something, and I could have sworn it was a rainbow and a leprechaun she’d found but I might have heard wrong thanks to the peyote in my tea. I walked with the crowd, noticing space around me. My phone buzzed which I thought was strange since I’d turned it off and I picked it up.


“Hello, this is Satan.”

“Of course it is…silly me.”

“You’re expected at home. The boys want ribs but M wants you to pour her cereal and a cup of chocolate milk.”

“And you’re not just whipping this up for them…why?”

“Because only YOU can salve the wounds of your children.”

“And they are wounded….why?”

“They haven’t found Jesus yet.”

“Great…just great.”

As I breathed in the last few moments of my freedom, putting my phone away, shutting it off for the second time, the Saks Fifth lady sidled up to me, “That’s a terrible purse you have. Here, have a credit card application. Shop your heart out. Now THAT’s true love.”

The tea lady was packing up her stuff and I told her what a wonderful speech she’d given, “Really, nicely done. A fine little circle of a tale.”

She looked confused and wished me luck with my autistic daughter, “Word gets around.” She handed me an order form for her book and a little mesh bag of chocolates the label on which read, "Melting for the Lord." I took them and walked out of the conference hall into the hot, sunny day. My phone rang and it was my husband. I ignored the call and grabbed my keys. When I looked at my hand, there was blood. A stigmata.

I zipped home. Touched by...well...something.


No, that wasn’t the essay I’d written. Damn it.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Writing fast because I need to be on the road to visit a friend way out in the O.C. Check out Lori's Blog (link on the right!) for her on-point review of Miami Vice which D and I saw last night. She's got it DOWN.

Send good thoughts to the Bliss household today - kids are grumpy, husband's grumpy, and I'm leaving! [she grins evilly] Okay...carry on, all.

Have a lovely Sunday.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Catching Up

Peeking in to catch you all up, before D and I go out for the evening, our usual dinner and a movie. I’m sitting at my laptop in the living room, watching A and M play with the hose and our plastic pool. They’re running from the swing set, running in the wet grass and wearing their goggles, looking funny as they splash into the pool, hysterical laughter jamming up against the windows. J’s playing drums in the office. The dog, this black dog of mine, is under the table, her hot body leaning on my ankles.

J’s camp went well, so well he got us to pay for the second week. The people in charge were great – gave us a huge discount, snuck us into their scholarship program so we only had to pay $250 instead of $650. Friday ended with a concert featuring the six bands at the camp and it was sweet, loud, and dreamy. The kids were on stage, being rock stars, playing their instruments well, singing lyrics they wrote. Lyrics that focused on being independent, being their own people, facing a violent world with open eyes and too-soon-to-be-aching hearts. J was among the most experienced musicians there and I think it was a good thing. He made some wonderful connections – fellow musicians.

What I found amazing was J’s passion for the music – he came home with blistered hands, dropping off to sleep early, anxious to get to the school in the morning. The kids there are fellow artists – they all have their “weirdnesses.” Clearly, he found himself in a pool of like-minded people and he swam beautifully. I’m sad there isn’t a school here, local, that could feed that passion. Our schools have all but deemed art a crime.

Another twist to the week was a visitor – a friend of A’s spent two nights with us. The friend is worthy of a second, separate post. I don’t how to describe it, to frame the situation. The mom went to the hospital and needed someone to take of her son which is where we stepped in. The father wouldn’t do anything other than stick to his “days” and her mother felt unable to watch the child. A sister also couldn’t save the day so here was this woman with the love of her life, her son, and nobody to help her. I had to work on D – he’s a cynic, he fears being used. It’s a bone of contention between us. I’m always ready to help and he grumbles. Maybe she IS using us, but I don’t think so. She always gives me things, things she should not be buying because she has no money because she can’t work…because she suffers from debilitating depression. Maybe it’s a like-mind, maybe I help her, am ready to help, because I walk a cliff’s edge, knowing I could drop off in that same way at any moment. And maybe D knows it, too, and is afraid of it, and doesn’t know a single person who could come in to save OUR day if we should both drop off. So…he grumbles.

Oh my, it’s time to go. The sitter’s coming. I have nothing to wear.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A little horror-gothic Fiction for your day (from 2004): Waiting

She waited for me by the car – frazzled reddish hair to her shoulders, dark circles under ice-blue eyes, and magenta fuzzy slippers that had stepped into too many rain puddles. The expression on her face echoed the tearing away of patience. I shoved my hands deep into the pockets of my faded jeans, hunched my shoulders to burrow into my sweatshirt, and looked across the parking lot reflecting the edges of dawn. I walked in the mist, ready for the big kiss-off, knowing I wouldn’t get it.

This was maybe the twentieth time she picked me up from a Los Angeles County emergency room: a flare-up of one disorder or another…a busted hand from a fight…the occasional overdose. Tonight’s diagnosis: failure to take medication in a timely manner.

I shuffled along cracked asphalt, counting the steps.

“Sixty-five. Sixty-six. Sixty…sixty-eight…oh, double-step…”

She hadn’t changed positions since step number twenty-two. Not a shifting from her right leg to her left or an adjustment of her arm or anything.

Leaning up against the car door, she waited as if there were the smallest chance this would be the last time. Waited, as if something different were going to happen tomorrow, next week, the week after. I wondered if she did it out of love or masochism. Maybe we’re all masochists in love with ourselves, with suffering. Maybe there are millions standing by their cars…waiting.

I looked like shit after more-than-a-few hours on a gurney recovering from the effects of having missed days of one of my epilepsy meds. Oh hell, it was the one series of pills I thought I could skip. Gets tiring, day in and day out, to take so many. A cashier found me behind Von’s having grand mal seizures. I knew something bad was happening when the color of the world altered and I started smelling funny things. Last word I remember: oops.

After I called Jory, after having been poked and prodded and given a CAT scan, I lay on my side imagining the process of her leaving. She’d drag herself out of bed, throw on clothes, and grab the keys she hid in the microwave oven. She’d walk down the three flights of stairs of our apartment building, and start up the VW bug. We got a 1968 piece of crap that barely runs – probably only had a little gas. There’d have been mild cursing when she read the gauge.

I hated dialing home. You wouldn’t think so. Guilt lived with me the way a slug lives in a garden: for the most part it’s ignored, but most likely it’ll end up mush under a muddy boot. So…why hesitate?

Her voice had told me she wasn’t awake. ‘Course not – it was four a.m.


“Hey, babe…I’m at the hospital…pick me up?”

“Shit, not again. Time is it…Jesus.”

She paused and had me hanging by my fingernails on a plank of hope…and worry. I could practically see the locks of hair in her eyes, her big pink t-shirt with red balloons that said, “Love my balloons too hard and I’ll pop all over you.” Underneath, she wore grandma-style, matching pink panties. No bra. The get-up was her favorite sleeping gear. She’d gotten ready to tell me to go fuck myself. I heard the scrunching up of her mouth.

“Yeah, okay…I gotta bring cash?”


Another sigh. “You all right?”

“Yeah.” She didn’t ask what happened, maybe out of relief that it wasn’t jail or the psych ward.

I reached the car in one hundred forty-three steps.

“Hey, beautiful,” I said, trying to sound normal, a chore for glitches in the norm. That's me, a glitch. I came into this life a “preemie” weighing ten pounds and measuring 23-inches…with a birthday six months from my parents’ wedding date. I grew up under the gaze of Nebraska Baptists who looked at me as if I were unfinished…a horrific miscalculation…sin itself. My parents probably felt the same way, going on to have more kids, each one a wonderful improvement on the last. In the end, they had one lawyer, one minister, a pediatrician, a veterinarian, and … someone they didn’t like to think about.

“Just get in,” Jory snapped. I slumped in the seat, fiddled with the heater. We drove in silence. Suddenly, she made a turn I wasn’t familiar with.

“What’s this?”


She didn’t explain, keeping her eyes on the road. She wore an old, no-longer-white ski parka we’d picked up in a thrift shop last year. Blue fake fur lined the cap and the color reminded me of a movie McDonalds whored itself for a couple of years ago, something about monsters running a corporation. That was it – she looked like a blue, fuzzy monster turned inside out. Or maybe more like she skinned a blue monster and now wore his fur as a token of triumph. I swallowed hard, thankful to have at least kept up the bipolar meds. Glancing down, I read the stickers Jory put on the glove compartment: Free the Whales, Life’s a Bitch then You Die, Put Christ Back in Christmas, I Don’t Break for Pedestrians.

I have one bumper sticker, and I usually affix it figuratively to my ass: boo fucking hoo.

“Just tell me where we’re going.”

“Outta town.”

“What about work? Isn’t old Bob gonna miss you?” Jory was an executive assistant, a nice word for a secretary. She got paid all right – not enough. I was too disabled to work or drive or do anything. I looked at Jory, wondering again why she put up with me.

“It’s technically Saturday. I don’t work on weekends.”


We finally got on a freeway, and I saw we were headed toward Palmdale, toward the Mojave Desert, a delightful monopoly of sand and dirt and plants nobody would want in their backyard. I mumbled about how I was going to straighten up. I’d be as clean and as organized as the miles of smooth emptiness we were traversing now. Low traffic and blacktop lit by morning accompanied my chattering. The putter of the bug’s engine gave me visions of a tow truck coming to our rescue.

She pulled off an exit, but I didn’t catch the name of the street. I tried, craning my neck to see. She drove slowly, looking around even though there wasn’t much of a vista. The sun started to warm me, so I shut the heater off.

“There it is,” she said softly, taking a sharp right onto an unpaved road. The car bumped and thumped and jumped, forcing Jory to shift into a lower gear.

“The hell?!”

“Shut up,” she hissed.

“Hey, baby, I’m gonna change, you know?” It was hard to believe I actually said such incredibly distasteful, not to mention cliché, words.

“I know that – I’m gonna change, too.”

“What you talkin’ about, Willis?” I watched a lot of “Nick at Nite.” That Willis line was from this one show about a white dad adopting a witty black boy and his older brother. The youngest kid, the witty one, was…really short. I guess the program spoke to a universal problem – deep inside, we’re all…really short.


I did. I’d tried to clean up my act several times during our two-year relationship. Once I stayed in a rehab for two whole days. I didn’t like the food. She never overtly asked me to stop any of my doings. She ached over it, made faces at me of impatience, yet she never said, “Stop.”

She watched the road and slowed the car. Her closed lips stretched to the side in a satisfied grin, and she nodded while narrowing her eyes. We’d finally reached her destination: a large, abandoned, ranch-style house. The windows were busted, and once-decorative shutters hung like petrified flags that died on a windless day. The roof was flat with white and gray rocks scattered across the top, and the tan paint was peeling – a sunny day’s ruination. Tall, lanky stalks of dead yellow weeds emerged from an ocean of bulbous cactus.

Jory got out, stretched her arms, and said, “Isn’t this wonderful?”

“I don’t think so. Shouldn’t we get back?”

“No…this is your lucky day. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

I think that line was on our freezer door. I argued, “Isn’t every day the first day? I mean, if you think about it…”

She pounced on me, “You don’t understand. Last night’s foray was your last.” She walked over to a planter that looked like an old well and pulled out a long rope. “Did you know I won first place for calf-roping when I was twelve?”

I ran like hell…except she got to me and within seconds I was…well, roped. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe – I panicked. She put her knee somewhere up near my shoulder – she was resting. My cheek pressed into sand.

“Whooo-wee…you’re a tough one.”

“Jory…what’s the matter? What did I do different?”

“It’s not that it was different…it’s that it was the same. You almost had me fooled. Last time I had to pick you up from urgent care was over two months ago. I almost thought you turned a corner.”

“But it’s our joke, babe…you know…I’m a recidivist. I thought you liked that.”

“Yeah…I got into the codependence, I liked rescuing you…I liked that you felt better around me. All your hurts would seem to fade away when we were together. Your smile was precious because you rarely showed it to anyone.” She bent low and whispered hotly in my ear, “You made me feel so special.”

“You are special…”

“You got that right.”

She stood and got a hold of my fettered elbow. Dragged me across the lot toward the front door. Once at the entrance, she pulled me inside. My shirt slipped upwards and my heaving chest scraped along what used to be nice linoleum. Gold colors, yellows, mustards. A 1970’s house gone bad. Sliding along the no-longer-shimmering lines, I realized I was being sacrificed. I was a slug about to be squashed.

Finally, I came to a rest. Jory sat cross-legged several feet away. She was in the middle of what used to be a kitchen. The stove, the oven, the fixtures, the sink were gone – even the cabinet doors were gone. There used to be a counter for food preparation or for putting vases on or for papers to get ready for sorting…the top had been sheared off. I supposed Formica had value on the black market. I looked at the sliding glass doors. Someone had spray-painted in black on the right-hand side, Junipero was here.

“Do you remember where we met?” Jory hugged her knees and eyed me.

“Intersection of Grand and Ninth.”

“You were completely lost. Delusional. You asked me if I was from Mars...then you decided I was an angel because of the halo.”

“You are an angel!”

“I remember coming to see you at the psych ward after a week or so. You were so much better. We had coffee after you got out, and you wrote a poem to me. I cried. We walked hand-in-hand…and you smiled…and asked me for my number. I wrote it on a dollar bill, the only paper I had. You walked away backwards, wagging the money. You affected me.”

“We met for lots of food. Lunches, breakfasts, dinners.”

“Yes…we fed each other. We became a pair…we had heart. You moved in, you took care of the finances – you helped make my shack a home. Then the hospital visits started. One year to the date. Once you had me in your grip.”

“You’re saying I set you up?”

“It took some time for me to figure it out. You slowly moved into my life – first the dates, then the clothes being left, then you – followed by the draining.”

“But that’s how ALL relationships go!”

She had it wrong. I hadn’t set her up. I just got comfortable, I started to be myself, someone who just happened to indulge in my essential uselessness. I expounded on the trait – built it up to an art form.

She left. I called for her. I heard her re-enter the room. Her furred feet stopped at my head, one foot lifting and then landing on top of the other. The whole thing made me wonder how she did that without falling over, forcing me to look up. I saw she had a sledgehammer to lean on.

“This house,” she said, “is your brain – devoid of furnishings, fresh paint, and love – no class. Oh there’s potential, but the end result is the same. The walls still hold nothing.”

She lifted the hammer above her head and slammed it down to my right. My heart raced, I breathed the breaths of a runner at the end of a sprint, I sweated the sweat of a marathoner – I couldn’t talk. I wanted to beg for my life, I wanted to say I’d paid for all my wrongs.

She lifted the hammer again and crashed it against the floor causing a vibration behind my eyes. Liquid leaked like helium out of a balloon. I expected her to start talking in a high-pitch voice…because my head was as fragile as expanded latex…certainly helium kept me standing normally.

“You’re crying?”

Sniffling snorts answered her.

“You know, it would have been nice if even once you said, thank you.”

She lifted the hammer way above her head and the metal hunk landed near my ear. She moaned…almost ecstatically. She sauntered to the painted hearth and pulled on something. I soon saw thick, black hooks cemented into the mortared bricks.

The helium in my head started to pour out, through my nose, my mouth, my eyes. Liquid leaked into my jeans. Before long I’d be the remains of a kiddie party…red, popped latex…useless, used. I hiccupped in fear.

She dragged me across the floor in short, rough jerks. Pausing, she rubbed her chin with her hand then left again. I inched away from the looming, medieval hooks. Christ, how’d she do it? When? How’d she find the place? Sweet, angelic Jory…so delicate in the way she ate a bagel topped with cream cheese, biting down carefully to avoid a mess, licking the corners of her mouth. She had a strawberry tongue – round shapes would mark up the pink if she ate something that disagreed with her chemistry.

I was moving again, being dragged back into place. Another rope was wrapped around me. Suddenly, I was being lifted, heaved upwards. At last I was hanging, swaying. Jory worked some more ties until I could no longer move. I was cocooned in hemp rope and held in place by the hooks.

She explained, “Here you’ll stay, my dear, hopeless man. You’re now in a place where you can think on your deficiencies. You’ll be free to reflect on how you can better yourself – the many areas in which there might be room for improvement. In time, I’m sure you’ll feel remorse, gratefulness for the times I rescued you.”

Somewhere, I found my voice. “Jory, baby…I always appreciated the love you gave. Please, don’t do me this way. I’ll make it up to you!”

“I understand you can’t help the epilepsy…or that you’re bipolar. Your brain works against you. The system, our government, doesn’t help. They keep you disabled, remove your power. So many things are in your way.”

She smiled hugely, “However, I believe in you. I believe you can overcome. I believe in your strength as a person – as a man.”

I dribbled the remaining helium from my balloon of a soul, deflating. I thought maybe if I really became flat, I could fall out of the bindings. Such wasn’t the case. I’d be left…hanging on a string, leftovers from a party waiting to be trashed. I found myself wailing.

“Oh no. No, no, no. Don’t cry. What did you really have to look forward to? Sitting around our apartment watching TV, getting stoned on drugs, playing Russian Roulette with your medications, making fun of the neighbors?”

“That’s a kind of life!” I warbled.

She sighed. Picked up the sledge hammer and swung at the wall next to the brick hearth where I was, causing a shower of plaster from the ceiling. She danced around the room, smashing the other walls, whooping it up. As the haze from the dust cleared, I caught sight of something huddled in the skeleton of a cupboard. Ropes. Jeans. A red plaid, flannel shirt. They were very…sandy. I clapped my eyes on Jory.

“Jor…sweetie…you never told me what happened to your last boyfriend. You know, the Canadian paraplegic?”

She blinked. Smiled sadly. Shook her head.

“He was so ungrateful.”

The sun is now setting, and I’ve had no water, no food, no love or understanding. There’s no need to piss, because all the helium is gone. I’m deflated. The desert is a serene place. The house is far enough from the city so you can’t hear any evidence of civilization. Coyotes bark and howl their sad tales. Lizards scramble along the floor. The weeds and cactus plants are still and hum eternal tones.

I think of a future where I will wake up, take my meds, and dress. I’ll sit at our breakfast table with a bright yellow mug of coffee and eat a bowl of fortified cereal. Jory and I will chat about our love-making the night before, and we’ll dish the shocking political battle being reported on the radio. I’ll get up when we finish and help clean the kitchen. I’ll kiss her goodbye and whisper a “thank you.” I’ll walk to the stop where I’ll take the local to my next job. Or to an appointment with a counselor. Or to a place that will make me feel inflated…alive…valuable. I will thrive on my independence.

I picture these things. I think it’s possible…such a life. I’ll just have to wait for that time to come while I hang here, trussed.