• Alcohol and Sobriety,  Family Dynamics,  This is Me

    “What do you want to do for Christmas this year?”

    “What do you want to do for Christmas this year, hon?” I felt myself jump, even though I know I didn’t actually do it on the outside. We were driving home from dinner, and I mentally cursed the twenty minutes on the freeway ahead of us. Twenty minutes of what would very likely be a Marital Dispute. Someone, probably God, was punishing me. Faster than you could say “Let’s change the subject, sweetie,” the memories of the past few Christmases wheeled through my mind. Like last Christmas, when family members didn’t cooperate with my ideas and Mike and I opened presents alone. I felt guilty for forcing my plans on…

  • Family Dynamics

    A Romantic Christmas

    Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be married to Mike. We met when we were both very young, 18 and 19 years old respectively, and we both fell very hard for each other. We were each others’ first loves, but it was more than that. Somehow at such an ordinarily romantically unstable age, I knew I’d found my soul mate. When two people meet at such a young age and spend formative young adult years in an oppressively religious environment, they essentially date in a fishbowl with everyone telling them how to conduct their relationship, when they should get married, and when they should break up. We broke…

  • Adventureland!,  Family Dynamics,  Off to See the World

    Christmas Gift Ideas

    I am one of those wives everyone warns husbands about. When Mike asked me what I wanted for Christmas a few weeks back, I told him I didn’t really need anything. “I don’t want to get you something you need, I want to get you something you want,” he explained. Wise man, that Mike. Still, I couldn’t think of a blessed thing I wanted that could fit under our tree on December 25. I am fortunate enough to own my own piano. Mike gave me an old computer that works perfectly, and I bought a new phone just before getting laid off. I have a closet full of clothes for…

  • brushes
    Family Dynamics,  The Sacred Arts

    Art Supplies

    I lifted the garage door for him. He wasn’t as spry as he used to be, though at his age it’s to be expected. The hinges squealed, as if I were punishing them. I knew my grandpa had a lot of hobbies, but the sight of all this mid-century crafting supplies momentarily took my breath. Not only were there boxes upon boxes of unidentified storage, there were jig saws, yellowed canvases, pieces of colored glass, tiles, drafting equipment. “I think it’s all back here,” he said, slowly wending his way through the stacks of dilapidated cardboard. “Wow,” I muttered under my breath. All of these costly supplies, going to waste…

  • Me Pool
    Depression is a Bitch,  Family Dynamics,  This is Me

    When I Was A Little Kid

    When I was a little kid, I thought I could grow up to be anything I wanted. This included a mermaid, the President, a famous actress, a successful writer and a beautiful princess. There was no tool more powerful than my imagination; indeed, it took me to places I would never be able to go, even as an adult who was supposed to hold the world in the palm of her hand and bid it do as she liked. When I was a little kid, there was no sadder girl on the face of the earth. Yet even despite the cloud perpetually threatening rain over my head, tomorrow always held…

  • Family Dynamics

    Mother and Son

    “He didn’t sleep well last night,” my sister said, passing off the baby to my open arms. She didn’t need to tell me. I could tell by the faint smudges under her eyes, the baby’s unnatural disinterest in his breakfast. He didn’t whimper at being handed to his auntie, but he didn’t greet me with his usual new-toothed grin. Sister reached for coffee cups, one for her and one for my brother-in-law, who shuffled in with a similar face. “I don’t think he’s been feeling well,” she explained. Mom came in after me, and reached for the baby’s forehead. “He feels a little warm.” “And it explains why he’s been…

  • Young Me & Cat
    Family Dynamics,  General Lunacy

    “Get Boys to Like You and Be Popular!”

    Everyone read them. The magazines, I mean. All the girls at school had them. If I was lucky, a friend would let me borrow hers during lunch or maybe, if she was done reading it, give it to me. I’d cut out pictures of Jared Leto and tape them to my wall. I’d pore over every word, from the editor’s letter to the “What’s Your Guy-Snagging Style?” quiz. Thankfully, I always fell into the middle range, neither too forward nor too shy – but only because I cheated. This is how I got my first copy, in fact. From a friend, I mean. It had already been cut up in a…

  • Family Dynamics,  The Sacred Arts

    Beautiful Music

    In another life I was a piano teacher. I had quit the piano at age ten, like most kids, in a fit of impatience with my elderly teacher and a disinterest in practicing. I didn’t want to play the songs from my grandparent’s childhood found in John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano (circa 1936), I wanted to play the second movement of Beethoven’s Pathetique. I wanted to play beautiful music. After a few years of piano-free existence, at thirteen, using the knowledge I’d accumulated from all those years of lessons, I taught myself Für Elise. It took about a year of unsteady practice, and after mastering that I moved…

  • Walmart
    Damn the Man,  Family Dynamics

    Walmart Trunks

    “I am so sorry,” I repeated for maybe the fortieth time as Mike and I walked through the automatic doors of a store we both didn’t want to enter. “No, hon, I’m sorry. I know how you feel about this place,” Mike also repeated. We walked through the store briskly, wasting no time browsing. Ours was a get-in-and-get-out mission. I hadn’t heard him ask me to get his board shorts out of the drier and throw them in his backpack, and he hadn’t realized I hadn’t heard him. Only once we went to jump in the pool at our friend’s house in the desert did he discover the mishap, and…

  • Girls at Prom
    Family Dynamics

    Homemade Vogue

    While purging my closet last weekend, taking advantage of an extra two days off for the Fourth of July, I came across a garbage bag stuffed to bursting. Always in plain sight, the bag was wedged right in the very center of the closet, beneath the dresses, on top of the shoe rack, but I never registered its presence until now. Sure, it hid my favorite strappy sandals, but I could always push the light weight of it aside like a giant balloon. Pulling it out, for the first time I considered getting rid of it. It took up prime space in the closet, adding to clutter already verging on wilderness.…

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