One Thousand Wishes:The Perseid Meteor Shower

Wearing the Cap of Darkness, Perseus beheaded the monster Medusa
Last night, I had a thousand wishes.

I laid on a picnic table in my backyard and stared up through swollen eyes. There was only a vestige of light that I could see in side you. The sun was long gone and the light that remained in the sky was of the moon or artificial.

While my world was becoming dark and empty, I tried to be still. I tried to relax, breath and summon some kind of visual focus. My head hurt. My heart hurt. My eyes hurt. But I wasn’t about to miss an opportunity for a thousand wishes. I needed every single on of them and I was certain they were for me.

I was promised an epic outburst at double the normal rate. An epic outburst. One that was said to be beautiful and magical. Touted as a once in a decade event that can’t be missed. I forced myself to blink and free the tears that kept hanging on to the corners of my eyes like little dams.  I needed to focus.

I had wishes to make.

“Where is the beautiful outburst of light?” I thought. I blinked and blinked and tried to be patient knowing it can take some time for my eyes to adjust. I knew the meteor shower was happening, and had been for some time, I just couldn’t see it yet. All I could see was a replay of your outburst. The kind I didn’t think I’d ever see in you…at me. The kind that scared me. The kind that demanded an answer to the question, “Is he even safe?” 

My head drew her sword on my heart, and I knew the answer before my heart raised her shield. I didn’t have the energy for this battle tonight.

I had wishes to make.

Facebook was filled with updates of couples and friends on the beach under blankets or in chairs. Families were circling together. They sat by fires, in good company, waiting for the darkest part of the night. They made plans and followed through with them, in anticipation of sharing and celebrating the celestial magic that was promised.  I was in the darkest part of the night, alone, while you slept. I waited to feel or see the magic that you promised me. I started to forget the promises and reminded myself they’re written down. You wrote them. I started to forget my wishes and needed to re center myself.

I had wishes to make.

I expected thousands of falling stars. Meteors that were hundreds or thousand of years old, that had circled the sun were to be burning through the atmosphere and lighting up our sky. The only thing you were lighting were cigarettes, which smelled like a stain on your skin, set in by humidity. The only burning I could see were the boards on a bridge we spent years building. The only explosions I kept seeing weren’t of light. They weren’t meteors left behind by the tail of a long past comet. They were the explosions of relationship links. One at a time they got hot and weak from the strain and exploded with rage

No loving  or believing or good intention could prevent it. Holding two sides of our chain was hurting, and I had to let go.

I had wishes to make.

I began to think it was too cloudy in the sky, too cloudy in my head, to be able to see the celestial magic that was promised. And as though exhaustion were the trigger, the universe blanketed the early morning hours of today with thousands of wishes. I saw them before the moon even set.

I told you about the meteor shower twice. You didn’t invite me to watch it under a blanket with you. You didn’t insist on coming over for a fire in the back yard. You didn’t have to wake early for work today, and I wondered for a moment if we were both looking at the same sky making wishes, before sadly not finishing the thought. I knew the answer. I knew it never occurred to you.

I had wishes to make.

I started to think through my wishes carefully.

I was wish planning. Wish assessment. Wish analisys. Wish prioritization. Wish paralisys. 

I thought I had wishes to make.

I realized that all of my wishes were for you. Not one was for us. Not one was for me. They were all for you. They were my wishes for you, not your wishes for you.

I sat up and stopped watching. I walked to the driveway as a coyote walked back into the woods. I wondered how long we were in each other’s company.

The universe is filled with meteors and dying stars. It’s filled with galaxies upon galaxies and the scope of the universe is infinite. Everywhere, everyday, every moment is filled with objects hitting our atmosphere. Even when we don’t see them, they’re there.

You deserve to make your own wishes.

I deserve to have my own wishes.




I recently sat across from an Anesthesiologist, during a pre-op visit. I thought I’d be in and out in a few minutes, but I ended up waiting for a bit. We talked about my sensitivity to anesthesia, I explained a past surgery, and we talked about why I was there and what he was going to use.

He went through the list of questions quickly. I drink a few times a year. I don’t use drugs. When it came up, I told him I quit smoking.

“Wow, that’s fantastic. Not easy to do at all! You should be proud of that!” He said this with a big happy grin.

“Is this guy for real?” I thought. It was genuine praise. I think he really meant what he said. I was struck by how encouraging it was. But, come on. Proud? For quitting cigarettes? He’s seriously wanting me to feel proud right now.

I wondered whether or not he’d been a smoker who recently quit. How would he know how hard it was? Why did he think it was that hard?  A doctor who smokes sounds ridiculous in 2016. In any event, I thought it was weird. Nice, but weird. I mean…it was weird that I thought it was weird. I know.

It was a positive response. So, I should be grateful for it, and I am. He could’ve said nothing. He could’ve been an asshole or shamed me for when I did smoke. In fact, I once had a cocky little egomaniac surgeon ask me about smoking a few years ago during a pre-op for a different surgery at Mass Eye and Ear. When I told him I was “more of a social smoker”, he snarked, “Seriously? Social smoking? What are you, a biker?”  Yes, you fuck, I ride a motorcycle and I socially smoke. There’s also social drinking, social fucking, and social skills…which you seem to have misplaced with your professionalism and bedside manner.

Small rant there, sorry. But my point is, this time, I’m sitting across from a smart, smiling and genuinely kind member of the medical community. This guy is dripping kindness, encouragement, and praise…all over a few cigarettes. I swear he could be a middle school principal. I don’t need this brand of happy praise, but a lot of people do.  And, while it felt awkward to me, he meant it. There’s not a question in my mind. Except one. 

One I didn’t ask. Because I was still figuring him out as I walked out to my car.I wonder how he would have answered.

“Do you respond like that if people answer “recently quit” on the drug question?”

Because, today, it seems like most people are quitting heroin by dying.

Raging PMS Mom Avoids Altercations At School

 There was a raging-bitch-face PMS mom at the “Spring Concert”at our school tonight. It was awful!

When adult parents and their children failed to stand OR be quiet for our own country’s National Anthem sung by little ones, less than a week after fucking Memorial Day…she almost lost her shit and couldn’t recover. It was a why-isn’t-she-on-Prozac kind of evening, if I ever saw one.

She spent the evening 1.)shushing people around her without discretion, 2.) being annoyed by the 8th grade boys for being loud and disruptive and rude (read: being 8th grade boys), and 3.)giving the loud-fat-ass-standing-up-in-front of-her parent dirty looks for bad behavior.

I’m home now in my PJs though. No one was choked, no swear words were directed at children or parents, and no one got a throat punch. You’re welcome. Another event without an altercation under my belt. I’m good. 

Shameless: I’m Waving My WIC Flag

There was a recent string of comments on a Facebook group that I belong to. It’s an all women group, and is usually hilarious. I don’t know most of the women, but I scroll by once in a while to read and commiserate or laugh. It’s like any room full of women. Some I relate to, some are hysterical, some are crazy. You can’t be in a room full of women and like (or be like) all of them. I don’t usually post or comment, but on one particular day, I did. And, unfortunately, the string was taken down. I can’t call up the original post, the offending comments, and the responses from some other women.

A nerve was struck when I read a comment in a string about a woman who was not breastfeeding and was on WIC. One person’s comment about this particular woman’s perceived “situation”, and the fact that she was on WIC for formula instead of breastfeeding, sent more than a few women into a tizzy, myself included.

Let me start by saying, my children are 23 and 12. It’s been a long time since I was pregnant, nursed a baby, or had a kid under 5. I’m a pro-breastfeeding even in public, don’t you dare say a word to me about feeding my baby or I’ll throat punch you before you complete your sentence, kind of mom. I stick up for other moms who do, I think it’s beautiful and natural and believe any opposition should be dismissed as crazy. I think our society needs to do a better job promoting, encouraging, and nurturing breastfeeding because I think it makes for healthy babies, healthy moms, and women who understand and care for their own bodies and health better. We can do a lot better in that space….but, I digress. The post I mentioned prompted a reply from me. But it was deleted. The whole string was. I wished I saved it because it was crisp and snarky. 

Here is my long reaction to the woman opposed to her tax-dollars being spent on formula for a woman who chose not to breastfeed. It is also my public thank you to that woman for giving me the charge to remember these details. It is also my public thank you to the people who work at, advocate for and support the Massachusetts Women, Infants & Children Program…

Dear Uninformed,
Shut the fuck up. WIC is a nutritional program you donkey. Before you spout off publicly and negatively about WIC, please do some research. Read. WIC is, in my opinion, one of the most successful public health programs out there. You don’t need to be on public assistance to be eligible for WIC. You can be a working person and be eligible. People who actually plan pregnancies can get WIC, too…while pregnant!

WIC benefits (i.e. FOOD) are also available to families, not just poor mothers, and it directly impacts the health of our children. In addition, both pregnant and breastfeeding moms can be eligible for WIC. How can you be opposed to nutrition and healthy food for families in your own community? And, if you are, are you also opposed to other public health programs?

I had an unplanned pregnancy at the age of 15. I was on WIC. I was on WIC while I was pregnant, going to high school, and working. I was on WIC for the entire 14 months that I was breastfeeding her, still in high school and working. I was on WIC until she was 5. I worked. Two jobs, in fact, and a third that was per-diem.

I was on old school, paper check tearing-separate your groceries-don’t get an ounce over a pound of cheese, WIC. I was on circa 1993-JuicyJuice in a can that I didn’t have an opener for, WIC. I was on vintage Teddy Peanut Butter-original Cheerios-dried beans in a bag that I didn’t know how to cook, WIC.

I was poor, single, able-bodied, working and by all definitions of the state “at-risk.” I was ashamed to use the WIC checks at the grocery store, so I went really late at night. I got hives if someone got in line behind me. I didn’t have a car, so I had to make multiple dreaded trips so that I could carry a gallon of milk, which on some nights felt heavier than my toddler. I could grocery shop for the two of us on $16 a week with the WIC supplement. It was all there was some weeks. I had to walk about three miles pushing the stroller to attend the WIC counseling meetings and get the paper coupon checks.

As a result, I learned that a healthy mom makes health milk. I learned that my daughter’s belly wasn’t bigger than her fist. I learned that milk, cheese, peanut butter, eggs and legumes contained protein, so the inability to afford meat didn’t mean she wasn’t getting any. I learned how to rinse and cook dried beans, which I’d never seen before. I learned the difference between “100% Juice” and “Made with 100% Juice.” I laughed watching my daughter pick Cheerios and Kix up off the table with her tongue. I still buy bags of beans. I will never, ever buy frozen concentrated juice in a can. Ever.

WIC is a great program, offering both food and education. I didn’t ever really reflect on what I learned from the WIC help. I never thanked any one of the women I met with. I feel guilty that I can’t call up the face of a single person I ever met with. Most likely because my own head was hung in shame during the meetings. But, all pride aside, I really needed it and I’m really grateful it was an option for me and my daughter.

So, shut about about your fucking tax dollars.


The almost 40 year old, six-figure earning, mother of a healthy and well fed 23-year-old girl who spent her early years dipping bananas in WIC funded Cheerios washed down with a sippy-cup filled with 100% juice…also provided by WIC.

PS in case you’re wondering what I’ve done to make up for the Massachusetts tax dollars spent helping to feed us during those years, I can assure you that the help I accepted has not been forgotten and was not accepted lightly. I’ve filled many a food pantry shelf. I’ve Walked for Hunger. I’ve organized fundraising and food drive projects and I’ve involved my children. I’ve volunteered and I’ve donated. A lot.

You’re Beautiful, Too

Today, I told a little girl she was beautiful, too, and I regret it.

It was after work.  I was wearing a knee length blue patterned dress and black heels. I stopped at a local chocolate shop on the waterfront for a quick gift on my way home.  When I stepped out of the shop, there was a little girl, maybe 4, sitting with her mom on a bench outside the door.  As I walked by, the little girl was looking up at me with a huge smile.

“Hi!” She said, very excited like.

“Well, hello!” I said back in an exaggerated expression, meant to show her mom how cute she was.  (Moms have a way of making eye contact or using tone instead of words to say things like “so cute”, “I know how you feel” and “I feel your pain”.  Today, my tone was telling this mom “She’s kind of awesome.”) Four-year-olds are more often found hiding behind mom’s leg than sharing outward joy with strangers.  This girl was just magnetic.

I kept my slow pace over the stones, in heels, and the girl yelled after me, “You’re so beautiful!”

I was stunned, and a little embarrassed. A tattooed man had just stepped out of another shop.  He looked at me, then at her, and kept on. I’m not sure if it was instinct or habit, but I stopped and turned back to her, still smiling.  “And, you are so beautiful, too!”, I told her. I took my time to annunciate each word pointedly so she knew I meant it.

I was now about 15 feet away.  “I like your shoes.”, she replied, still a giant smile on her face, and by now she had scooted her bum forward so she was was on the edge of the bench.

“Thank you so much. They are my favorites.”

Her mom and I shared a smile and I reached the door of the next shop, and went inside.

When I reached my car I was still thinking about her.  I wish I hadn’t told her she was beautiful.  I wish I had stopped.

I wish I hadn’t t responded in kind with a superficial compliment about the way she looked. I complimented a little girl on something she has no control over. I wish I had told her I thought she was brilliant, or amazing, or a fabulous speaker.  I could have told her that she seems like the kind of girl that lots of people want to be friends with.

I wish I’d come up with a better way to tell that little girl that her smile and her hello were the shiniest things I saw all day. I wish I’d told her that beautiful isn’t how we look, it’s how we make people feel.

When Looking for Love: Are His Hands Big Enough?

I’ve fallen both in and out of love. I’ve lost love tragically, and thought I’d never recover from the overwhelming sadness. I was absolutely traumatized, in a way that left me numb and unaware. The only time I’d allowed myself to be completely vulnerable in a relationship with a man, I lost him to sudden death under terrible conditions. After that, accepting love and feeling deserving of it became an uphill battle. I never wanted to let someone in that much again. Once I knew what it felt like to lose that big, and hurt that much, I never wanted to be near it.  My disassociative response leaves a big gap in time.

I unconsciously, and later with intention, set out to live a life where I never depended on anyone, for anything.  Statistically, I was already fucked from a relationship perspective. A myriad of unhealthy childhood and adolescent experiences had shaped an unhealthy picture of what love and trust looked like, already. Surely my relationship style was “avoidant”, at best. I learned quite young that to be well I had to expect nothing, prepare for the worst, trust no one, and rely on myself. At twenty-two And alone, I added “love no one” to the list of ingredients. And, for a long time, that trauma soup worked for me. Really well.

Being vulnerable was a weakness. While I’m not where I need to be, I’ve learned to take some risks with my heart, and I’ve been rewarded with so much self awareness and understanding.  I’ve learned a tremendous amount about what I want, what I need, what I don’t, and what I love. I’ve learned just how weak I really am, and just how strong a man I need. I’ve also learned what I can do, what I can’t, and just how confusing it can be for a man who isn’t tender to try to hold a broken heart when his own hands and heart aren’t big enough.

I’m not easy to love, and I constantly challenge it. I’m hard to please, I’m not tolerant, and I’m now filled with expectations. I’m both venomous and nurturing, and refuse to settle for less than what fills me. I am direct and independent, often confused with bossy and controlling.  I’m moody and sharp. I resist charm and superficial bullshit like a super-power.  To bring me to a place of openness requires a significant amount of trust. I need a presence of love that moves me, and as I grow older I am more comfortable with that expectation. I’ve grown to understand that I can deserve it, I just don’t always feel that way because I’m letting in the lover that isn’t mine.

Every kind of love is a gift and teacher, no matter how small or fleeting. But just because we love doesn’t mean we stay, or commit, or should. Often we shouldn’t.

I’ve had a brief encounter that took my breath away and it still makes me smile when I think of him. I’ve worked hard to make a relationship work, and I’ve turned my back with ease on another. I fought for one with Spartan determination, and tested another to see if he’d fight for me. I’ve been proposed to, and never married. I’ve given back an engagement ring…twice. I’ve been worshiped like a goddess and sung to by moonlight. I’ve had crushes that were nothing more, and once secretly adored a boy I never spoke to. I’ve had an emotional connection with no physical relationship, and I’ve had a physical relationship without a hint of emotion. I’ve tasted summer love to have my heart broken on Labor Day weekend, like most girls from The Cape. I remember my first love. And for years, I’ve held on to a deep and lifelong true love.

Some boys loved me, others didn’t at all. Some left scars, some became friends, and others just memories. I believe that love and heartaches are part of our journey and I do truly love love. I’m trying more than ever not to resist it.

I’m grateful for all flavors of love, but long for the companionship that both takes my hand and fills my heart. The kind that lets me bask and rest and trust. The kind that lasts. The kind of love that I love back, and it feels like a sigh when I do. The lover who knows that broken hearts are whole hearts…in more pieces with more edges. He’ll love it for all its complexities and lack of smoothness. He won’t try to patch it or assemble it, because it works. He’ll know that it doesn’t need to be fixed. 

I’m ready to accept the love of a soul who has lived and hurt and loved as much as I have. Someone with his own scars and cracks. Someone who is as in tune with me as he is with himself. Someone who’s definition of love has also changed and developed into something much more than youthful unsustainable excitement and now includes something that moves him.

I’m waiting on a different kind of love than I’ve taken before. The one that charges my blood. The one that makes my chest flutter while I push responsibilities aside. A love who understands my instincts and my fears, and promises to nurture them. The one who accepts my challenges and laughs at my venom. The one who’s super power is to make me laugh. I’m looking for someone who loves love as much as I do.

I’m holding out for that one because I believe in its sentiment.  Because with him comes balance and peace.

And when that man who knows how to hold a broken heart, in all its bloodied sharp pieces comes along, his hands will be big enough to hold both my heart and my hand.


You Can’t Pull The Plug on Trauma

On Monday, I saw my mother for the first time since last year. I’ve spent the last week recovering both physically and mentally from seeing her. It took me exactly six days to realize that both my mind and my body are swimming upstream in a current of PTSD…saturated and cold and slow.

I’m anxious for no reason. My blood pressure is high. While lying in bed, I had chest pains so badly that I wondered if I could reach for the phone if it didn’t stop. Everything aches and I’m mad at my body for hooking up with my mind and turning on me.

The last time I saw my mother she was wearing her too-long white and grey hair in a pony-tail, like a child. She was handcuffed and her feet were shackled. Her translucent hazel eyes were surrounded by black and blue circles, evidently punched in the face. She was standing between two court officers who brought her into a court room to speak to a judge. In Massachusetts, under Chapter 123; Section 35 the court can involuntarily commit a person for up to 90-days if their alcohol or drug use puts them or others at risk. I don’t know why we put ourselves, or the judge through this. Everyone knows that this process is broken, that there is no real help to be had, and that she doesn’t even want help if it was available. She’s so far gone she doesn’t understand what the fuss is. It’s entirely fruitless, except that someone’s conscience is alarmed. Someone wants to help.

The concerns were shared. I listened, not surprised. No stable living situation, no electricity or heat. She was surrounded by drug dealers and prostitutes. She was stealing from people who trusted her (old people with money or prescriptions). A picture is painted for the judge. It was a shit-show, really, but I imagined he hears all matter of shit. I wondered for a minute whether he has to physically was the gross off at the end of the day? I remember supressing a “blah, blah, blah” as the facts are read off. I’m so pissed that she evokes so much anger from me, and energy from the world. I was annoyed that I was missing work and that I could hear my own blood moving somewhere between my ears. I was using a breathing technique to slow my heart and she looked like she had no idea where she was. She was blinking a lot. Pleasantly confused. Maybe she was high. I was embarrassed that she’s such a waste of resources. Appalled that she’s not already in jail for a million other reasons.   Isn’t this system sophisticated enough to be able to type her fucking name in and see everything she has ever been arrested for?   I sat. I listened. I tried to control my facial expressions. I reminded myself that I would be out of there soon. I tried to leave my body and then I saw that she was asked who I was. Someone was pointing at me. She answers with “That’s my daughter.” And inside I come undone. I give my best “I have no idea what she is talking about” face, and I begin to mentally will away the looks of pity and apology. These poor people are listening to this story of her reality like it’s terrible. And, now they’re feeling bad for me. Her addiction is not worse, people. Her judgment, morals and other guiding principles have not deteriorated. She is using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate the same way she always has, she’s just doing it in a different place now.

Once, her alcohol, cocaine, prescription and crack-cocaine addictions were masked by beautiful Cape Cod. We lived in a three bedroom one-story ranch on a cul-de-sac where we rode bikes and cought the bus at the end of the street. She smoked crack in the basement, had sex with random men in the living room, and accumulated clothes, burnt spoons and garbage like a transfer station. Now, she’s doing it in a three-family house of whores and junkies in Brockton. Nothing is different, it’s just a change in geography. But, on that day last year, someone’s conscience needed to be freed, and I was asked to be there to speak to the “history of behavior” if needed. I wasn’t needed. I should have waited outside. I could understand the desire to help, and the internal need to take action. I’ve been there, a fucking bazillion times. On that particular day they committed her for “up to 90-days” and sent her to Framingham for women. Not a treatment center. Not a mental health hospital. A jail. She was allegedly released after 5-days for passing a drug test. According to the FDA crack cocaine is detectable for 2-3 days.  Testing on day 5 makes sense right? By the time she had been arrested and brought to court, it had probably been 2 days since she used.  Genius plan.

I tried to feel sorry for her. I looked for any indication that she wanted more for herself. I wondered if she was sad, or embarrassed? I tried to look at her and force a feeling, because I know there is one somewhere. I tried desperately to come up with something other than rage and absolute disgust. It’s only a matter of time before she dies. I’m amazed she is still alive rather than sad at the thought of her life ending. I don’t know how she hasn’t been shot for stealing from the wrong person. I can’t understand how her body hasn’t failed her after so many years of constant abuse. How hasn’t her heart just stopped? I know that on some level I probably love and care about her…or, at the very least loved and cared about her.  She’s weak though.  I have no respect for weakness.  I despise people who don’t look to solve their own problems, and I’m the last person you’d want to invite to a pity party.  I would do anything to help anyone…provided they want to help themselves.  One’s mother should be an exception.  There should be some kind of natural soft spot, I think, but I could not find it.

I am void of kind emotion for her when I see her. I wonder if she wants to die every day?  Or if she uses because she wants to live…but can’t face herself every day?  I used to say that the punishment for all her wrongs might be that she has to live with herself.

I stopped reading about cocaine, addiction, helping people in recovery, how to be supportive, and how not to be co-dependent long ago. I employed every intervention technique I read, and then walked away. Attempting to hold us together hurt me. I reached the point where I hated her more than I wanted to help. It took years to break ties with her, and I still get pulled back sometimes.  It’s amazing how quickly the human brain remembers bad stuff.  It’s a bit like riding a bike.  You can always learn new things but you can’t unlearn.

On Monday of this week, I saw her again. I watched her cross the street with long wiry white and grey hair, even longer than mine, blowing around in the February wind. I quickly tied my hair up into a twist, fearing people would think we were related. Most 61 year old women would wear their hair up. Or trim it. Maybe she’s forgotten her age? More likely, she thinks she looks pretty. She looks like Gandalf. Smaller and crazier. I hear someone say she sleeps in a homeless shelter now, still smoking crack and drinking every day. The condemned house she was living in was recently raided and boarded up.  I think she looks like she has showered, so that’s good.  I guess.  She isn’t pushing a stolen shopping carriage.  That must be hard to do, I think, with all this snow.

There was a time when this woman didn’t leave the house unless her heels matched the belt that matched the hat that matched the lingerie. I want to grab her hair and make her look at herself.  I want her to see what I see, but she can’t.  Today, her clothes are too big for her now tiny body. I wonder at how much is left of her. She’s slowly disappearing. You can still tell that she was once beautiful, but her face is like a skeleton, and her skin looks grave. I imagined grabbing her face and her cheekbones turned to dust in my palms.

I don’t sit around wishing I had been loved more. I don’t wish for someone else’s life and I don’t feel regret for mine or entitlement to some other kind of life. I don’t want to understand PTSD and I don’t want to feel it either.  I was nurtured. I was loved. I was breastfed and held. I was potty trained and hugged and kissed and snuggled. I had my hair braided perfectly, long before she pulled it to punch me. I know I gave her joy long before the weight of motherhood smothered her chances of happiness. She taught me to cook before she stopped bringing home food.  She showed me that women could mow the lawn, before she proved she could not survive without a man or drugs.  She handmade Halloween costumes before she started leaving holiday decorations out year round. She told me I was smart and pretty, before she told me how much she hated me. I was kissed and touched on the forehead when I was sick before I ever had to roll her on her side to prevent her from drowning in her own vomit.  On my 17th birthday I left home and The Cape for the last time.  I took only the good stuff with me.  At least that’s what I thought.  But today, the bad shit creeps back into my head and my heart and my bones and I’m angry that she’s infiltrated.

My mother was a woman with limited to non-existent coping skills. She was wild and simple. She has always needed more love and attention than any one person could sustain. She did the best she could with what she was made of. She loved me. She loved us, the best way she knew how. To the surprise of some, I never questioned whether or not she loved me. She was once good intentioned, beautiful, passionate and fun. She just couldn’t deal. With anything.

I’m grateful to her for life. I just want out now. I want the right to decide who is in my life and who is not. I would like to never see her again. I don’t want to help her, and I don’t wish bad things for her, and in my opinion that’s relatively gracious of me. I don’t want to field calls about her. I don’t want to be asked “mother’s maiden name” on websites. I don’t want to explain each time I’m asked for medical history. I want her out of my mind, and I want the weight of her lifted from my body.  I just want my sentence to be over.

I want to draw my hands back and blow the dust away…for me…and for her. If there was a plug, I would pull it.

Obituary of The World’s Greatest Small Appliance

This morning I opened a brand new can of ground coffee I bought while storm shopping, and I slowly and deeply inhaled the scent of comfort with my eyes closed. There is nothing like it. The smell of coffee is erotic and promising, and warm. Brewing a full pot on a day off is like booking a vacation. It pleases me and it makes me feel good.

I filled the basket filter and turned on my 19-year-old coffee maker, pressing the power button that was once coated in clear supple plastic, now crispy and split and tinted yellow. I slid down my snow covered front porch steps taking the dogs out, tunneled a 100’ long path to bring warm water out to the hens, and came back inside frozen from sub-zero New England blizzard wind. I was expecting a hot pot of coffee.

Curiously, I didn’t smell the intoxicating aroma I expected. The light was on, but there was no coffee. The burner was not even a hint of warm. It was most certainly plugged in. The light was on, but there was no coffee. I thought I did something wrong. I checked the plug, emptied the water, refilled it, set the auto timer and waited. Nothing. I emptied it again then turned it on…nothing.

My heart literally broke, and I actually cried. Which, I rarely do. Very rarely.

I am shockingly sad. Not in a ‘record-breaking-New England-snowfall-and-no-coffee’ kind of way. After all, I can make tea, or use the Keurig to get my shoveling strength. I’m sad in a ‘been-with-me-forever-and-always-comforted-me-I’m-gonna-miss-the-hell-out-of-you-and-all-the-attached-memories’ kind of way.

I actually cried over the loss of my white plastic programmable Betty Crocker 12-cup basket coffee maker. I’m a special kind of crazy.

This coffee maker is attached to so many memories and good feelings. I remember the day I got it. I remember the aisle I stood in. I remember rationalizing the then enormous purchase. Dunkin’ Donuts was too expensive for me, and I no longer lived near a Tedeschi’s, who sold coffee for $0.35 a cup. It was a short term splurge with longer-term pay-off. It was a grown up decision and a grown up purchase. I think it cost me a whopping $20.

That year, when I filed my taxes, my gross income was less than $10,000. I was so poor that I rarely ate more than what was left on the plate of my toddler when she was finished. Coffee though, warmed and filled my belly, and I felt good. I brewed before work coffee when I was 19, working full-time days at K-Mart. I brewed before bed coffee at 11 p.m. after working part-time nights at Marshall’s. I owned exactly two cobalt blue glass coffee mugs that warmed my freezing cold hands after walking home from work. I won’t even get into how unbelievably perfect coffee was with a cigarette on the porch.

I bought frozen coffee cream at Shaw’s Supermarket for $0.25. It took some getting used to. It was gross at first, and I’m convinced it was made with some kind of oil. Yes, I said frozen cream. Yes they make that. At least they did then. And no, $0.25 is not a typo. Milk was expensive and only for my daughter. If you drank the last of the milk in my house, death would be easier. I poured half cream, half coffee and one Equal for my then boyfriend Christopher Jacobs. His reaction to coffee prepared exactly how he liked it was so important to me. He was there when I bought it. She was the last thing I packed in that apartment after he died, and I kept his coffee mug.

She was there for all my holiday meals, and various parties throughout the years. On Christmas morning, nothing happens until my coffee is made. Not a single gift is opened until momma is on the couch with a mug and a blanket. And, this coffeemaker is the one that brewed the Christmas morning coffee. During the inevitable New England hurricane or winter storm, I always brewed a pot and put it in the fridge, so that if I lost power, I could warm it up on the gas stove. Boy did that little trick get me through some crappy heat-less days (You’re welcome for that tip.)

I made room for it when I lived in an apartment that didn’t have a counter top. Counter space in any home is precious and she always had a place. When I got the Keurig, I admit it…I put her on top of the fridge for a bit, but she came back down on weekends and work-at-home days, when a full hot pot was necessary. Eventually, she kept a spot next to sink. I even bought a carafe once so that I didn’t waste electricity keeping the pot warm.

To me, coffee is personal. When I am alone it’s a treat to myself. Making a cup of coffee at home means I’m going to sit still for a bit. I’m going to savor it while it’s hot. I’ll hold the cup under my face and inhale the steam.  It pleases me. Offering coffee to friends is also personal. It’s me offering up comfort. Me telling you I want you to feel good, and relaxed, and comfortable while you’re here.

It’s funny how when you’re a touch of crazy, you associate “shit” with things.  This was one of my things that had good memories.  I’m not a hoarder, but I definitely attach feelings to things.  I’m sure that has a fucking name or comes with a diagnosis.  Whatever.  And, I know I ‘ll have to buy another one. For right now, I’m just mourning the loss and the memories I didn’t realize I attached to her. I’m also thinking about how ironic it is that the very last bit of coffee in the house was her very last pot.

She lasted 19 years. Through two children and four moves. I saved her original box until I bought my house, and proudly threw it away thinking, “I’ll never have to pack you again.” I don’t own many things that have traveled with me this long. She was with me exactly half of my life.

Unicorns & Rainbows: Why Abused Women Stay

During the last week, I’ve mentally toyed with the idea of writing about domestic abuse.  Because some of the stories and comments I read were such harsh triggers for me, I would craft a message, and then shut down.  I made a committment to myself to write about it later, when I felt like I could organize the story chronologically.  Maybe then, I’d be a little stronger, and it would be easier.  I can’t do it.  But I have a few things to say.

This was actually not triggered by the Janay Palmer & Ray Rice story,itself.  It came from how the media spoke about Janay (and others like her) and what people say when they have absolutely no experiences even remotely close to this.

The video was terrible, the story is sad.  But, to be truthful, it didn’t shock anyone who has lived with an abuser longer than the “honeymoon phase” of the relationship.  Part of me wants to tell you it was shocking.  It wasn’t, for me.  I really hope it was for you, but it wasn’t for a lot of women…or men.

Inevitably, right now, every online media outlet is publishing a story about an abuse survivor.  “Experts” are being brought in to uhelp people understand why she stayed, why she married him, why he did it and why she’s defending him.

Then, tonight, I scrolled through my Facebook news feed on my smartphone, and nearly lost my shit when I saw a comment made by someone I know.  He’s not a bad guy.  He’s actually terribly sweet.  The thing is…he has no fucking idea what he’s talking about.  He was saying some shit like the first time she was a victim and the second time she allowed herself to be and then went on a rant about how “these women” should leave.  After I wrote a message, I deleted it.  Then I wrote a comment under the same story and deleted it.  I realized that all of that bullshit would have been obnoxious, and had little chance of changing  anyone’s thoughts about “these women.”

“These women” are sitting right next to you at work.  They’re not all walking around with black eyes and sunglasses.  It’s possible you had a crush on one of “these women”, and you never thought in a million years she would have been beat up. “These women” aren’t all crazy or helpless or weak. “These women” are not all after someone’s paycheck, and I’m willing to bet that many would forgo even NFL money if they could just somehow be allowed to leave, with their children, without fallout, guilt, responsibility or fear.

Why do they stay?  For every woman, there is a different reason.  Sometimes 100 reasons.

“…if she considers herself a victim in this situation…”

Uhmmmm…What?!  Whether SHE considers herself a victim?  hmm.  This is an interesting statement.  Let’s think this through.  What this is, is a society that is afraid to call someone something they don’t want to be called or associated with.  We are now in a place where news anchors are actually afraid to call A woman who was punched out a “victim” unless she identifies with it?  So, follow me here for  a minute.  I’m walking through a department store with my bag over my shoulder.  Someone comes up from behind me, grabs my pocketbook and runs off.  This is all caught on camera.  NOBODY is going to refrain from calling me a victim, just incase I don’t identify with it.   Why the fuck are they so scared to do it in this case.  She was fucking knocked out.  She’s a fucking victim.  I don’t care what she calls herself.  Stop talking nonsense.


“She should just leave.”

No shit, huh?  You think?  That’s an incredibly intelligent solution.  Maye she should get on her unicorn and ride right out on a rainbow.  I’m sure that’s not what people really mean, but leaving is not so easy.  Unfortunately for us, there’s about 85 million other problems and things to consider with that solution.  You see, when you’re getting smacked around at home, there’s a very high likelihood that this is not the only fucked up thing you’re dealing with.  Alcoholism and drug addiction would be a good first guess.  It’s possible the place she has to go back to is actually worse than this.  And, when you’re having your ribs bruised at home, leaving takes a back seat to pretending everything is okay for everyone else.  Mental abuse, isolation, stalking, depression, fear shame and guilt are some other things we’re probably struggling with.  I can’t imagine the thought of having any of those moments video tapped and shared publically.  I was 17, far away from normal.  I didn’t even have  a car to get into.  As far as I was concerned this was a choice I made and I had to figure it out by myself.  There was no place to go and no way to get there.  I wish I had a unicorn.

“She was hitting him, too.”

This one is tricky.  I can see why you’d say that.  I’m going to respond to this one by sharing my own experience, because it’s the only one I know.  You see, when he first started hitting m, I was so shocked (or hurt, or stunned) that I couldn’t respond.  And, in the beginning it was never very violent, compared to how I grew up.  I was snatched up, maybe smacked, pushed or thrown.  These were usually quick, and before my mind could fully grasp what happened, he was immediately “fixing” it.  Usually he cried, apologized and in some twisted way made me “understand” why he did it.  I felt sorry for him.  I did call the police the first time I got hurt.  After getting thrown across a room and smacked, I can guarantee you that the last thing you’re ready to deal with is police lights on your street, officers in your house, and writing statements.  I felt like a loser for being involved.  Then, I felt bad for getting him in trouble.  Plus I was sore, cried out, and tired.  That would be the last time I called the police.  Fast forward three years…he’s a little more comfortable now, and I know it.  When the striking gets stronger, and I know what’s coming, I could respond in kind.  I’ve hit back, pushed, and thrown things.  Sometimes I cowered, if I thought it would be quick and quiet.  Other times I hit back, because I was afraid it wouldn’t be.  The longer it goes on, the worse it gets.  Just because she is hitting back doesn’t mean she wants, or provoked it.  She’s actually in survival mode.  Every day.  Even when she’s not being hit, she is tapping into whatever she has for coping skills, and she doesn’t even know it.

“She knows he hits her and she stays.  At this point she’s just asking for it.”

Oh, boy.  Dumb ass alert.  Actually, what we’re trying to do is keep the situation under control.  It sounds ridicuous..control someone who is out of control, I know.  But, there’s a need to try to limit the damage, not make him upset, sad, jealous or angry.  The last thing we want him to feel is threatened or jealous, and he’s likely very controlling.  If he thinks I’m planning to leave, or that I have someplace to go, it will likely get worse.  Keeping him happy becomes a priority.  No one asks for this.  In fact, I asked for something quite different.  It wasn’t a unicorn, or a rainbow.  If someone had sent me one, I probably wouldn’t have gotten on anyway.


My shit…It wasn’t always bad, we had a lot of great times.   I loved him like crazy.  When it was good it was good, when it was bad it was bad.  I could have told someone.  I could have asked for help.  I didn’t want to be a burden.  I lied about it.   I was ashamed.   I felt responsible.  I was embarrassed.  I was used to being hit by people who loved me.  I thought I provoked it.  I talked back a lot.  I didn’t think I deserved any better.  I believe he loved me.  I loved him a lot.  I was scared he would kill himself if I left.  On more than one occasion I left, and he attempted just that.  He was worthy of love, but needed help.  He did try counseling.  He tried not to drink, sometimes.  I stayed for five years.  Three days after I ended it for the last time, he died of a heart attack.  His family blamed me.  It’s been 16 years and I’m still not over it.

In my own opinion it’s ridiculous to try to use one couple’s story to understand the dynamics of all abusive relationships.  Every one of us has a background, upbringing and story that’s so unique.  These stories have so many knots they’re impossible to untangle. Don’t assume to know, or work too hard to uncover secrets.  Maybe a woman will share her story someday.  And, if she doesn’t, it’s her story to keep not yours to understand.  If you suspect someone you know is being abused at home, ask and listen.  Don’t judge.  Don’t judge even a little.  And, if she talks be prepared to be uncomfortable.  Help her be social, because her “normal” is  probably off a bit.  Remember that you can’t fix it for her.





How to Tell if Your Girlfriends are Keepers

If you say “I think I’m just going to sleep with the first guy who tells me I’m pretty.” And her response is “five. The first five.” This is a non-judgemental friend who is also waiting for the details. Spill ’em, she’s worth it.

If she tells you how pretty you are every time she’s drunk, you love her. She might be saying it to everyone, but she really means it when she says it to you.

The port-o-potty is out of TP at 12 a.m. If she asks a stranger for a piece of paper towel…and tears it in half to share with you, keep her around.

If she can, and will, channel her inner “Family Law Attorney Voice”, and convince your Ex to send a child support payment or face jail, she’s rogue, but a great friend. (I’m sure pretending to be an attorney is super illegal, too, so this law-breaking bitch is a keeper. In this instance, I may have been that bitch. The point here is that no one fucks with my friends)

She questions why you’d keep 24 issues of National Geographic, and doesn’t nominate you for Hoarders when you say “Just incase. I mean. What if someone needs to do a project? This is good reference material.”

When she stops by and finds your keys still hanging from the door lock, she doesn’t have to ask an obvious question like “Did you know your keys are in the door?” Instead, she slides ’em out, throws ’em on the counter, and smiles…because she knows that’s just where you keep them sometimes.

If your daughter’s favorite chicken dies, she gives you three. And she doesn’t even care that your kid nicknamed them “the bad kids”.

If you make her cry during an office April Fool’s Day prank that convinces her she’ll probably be indicted for arson and lose her job…and she’s still your friend, she’s as sick as you are. Keep her.

If she brings her family over and and happily eats chicken nuggets, mac n’ cheese, and some other random leftover…and you then find she’s fallen into your couch for a snuggle, it’s love.

If you pass out early, she’s not bummed. She turns on the Wii and jams to Just Dance until she gets tired…and she does not take pictures of you drooling…only then do you know how awesome she is.

If she comes over to keep you company while you clean, and she ends up matching 742 pairs of fucking tiny mismatched socks, she just might be your fairy-godmother.

If you sign her up for Krav Maga, instead of Beginners Karate (like you told her), and she goes with you for a year, that bitch is hardcore.

If she takes you out after a terrible break-up and you drink Martini’s like water, she doesn’t get mad when you can’t help her get off Cape, because you’re throwing up in the car. (After all, it was your car.) And, if you wake up in your own bed to find her sleeping next to you, with a gallon of water and ibuprofen on the night stand…keep her. She loves you.

When you have your first one-night-stand after 13 years, and you’re still drunk the next morning, she has your dishes done when you get home because she’s awesome like that.

If SHE calls YOU on a work day/school holiday at 6:30 a.m. and says something like “Hey, incase you forgot school’s closed today, bring her here.” …and you DID forget (because you always forget)…not only does she know you like no one else, she is a life-saver. Probably a job-saver.

If she shows up to all your kids birthday parties, and sweats with you as she helps you do hair and make up for 45 kids in a performance of High-School Musical, and she doesn’t even have kids, she’s fucking insane. I mean…she’s a phenomenal friend. You better be babysitting her children for many-a-night-out down the road. Even if they’re bratty, snotty or shitty.

If she helps you pack and move in 7 degree weather, she’s a BFFL. But…if prior to that she helps to secretly label boxes incorrectly as “Office Supplies” so that other people don’t know they’re really filled with 5 years of school papers, bills, ticket stubs, pictures, receipts, school concert programs, and other things you say you’re going to file or put in a scrapbook…keep her forever.

If, hypothetically speaking, during a state-of-emergency snow storm, you wreck 15 cars inside a parking garage (and no one has arrested you), she sends her husband and father of five to pick you up and drive your car home. You two are going to have a lot to say in the nursing home!

Share a best-girlfriend story below in the comments.