Birth Order, Smirth Order!

It’s like astrology, right? At times, scarily accurate, often having nothing whatsoever to do with your real life.

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This could be me.

I’m the firstborn of my mother”s children.

I’m the youngest of my father’s children

I was raised as a middle child.

It should surprise no one, how much I talk to myself.

 

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The Pilot

 

 

I’ve been looking at a story I started a year or so ago, wondering if it’s still inside me.

I truly love the characters.

Valora – 30 something, capable to a fault, annoyingly self-sacrificing,

Brendan – 30 something, a renaissance man, he can do anything Val can’t.

Pilot – Crash landed in the Vermont forest on his way to Canada.

Rachel –  A beautiful prostitute.

The story kind of crashed and burned when I introduced The Butcher, he was, just a butcher, coming around to kill a cow for them to eat. The he and Val decamped to a cabin for the night. I thought she was in love with Brendan but would ultimately fall for the Pilot! What the hell!

Been there....
What was Val thinking? She totally threw my game. Do you know how many times I’ve heard, read, been told that romance heroines never have sex with anyone expect the happily ever after guy? Amazingly, readers will forgive the happily ever after guy for having sex with another woman but the heroine better not even think about it!
The theory is, as soon as she cheats, readers quit reading.

Crest when he hacks into websites and other things. He thinks everything is funny and is crazy like so he gets the nickname, mad hatter

 So, I sat at home today with a miserable head cold, debating about whether or not to get rid of The Butcher. I like him. He’s got beautiful rippling muscles, soulful brown eyes, and enough tattoos to keep Val’s tongue busy into the foreseeable future. What does the Pilot have? He’s tall, dark, blue-eyed, English accent. I think there’s more to him than meets the eye. He might be more than he appears. But, tattoo’s, rippling muscles, manly butchering skills, stamina, I don’t know if I can jut let that go.
You probably think that I start writing a book after I’ve written an outline, a synopsis, character studies, et al. Actually, what happens is a character wanders through my mind and catches my eye.  Then, I wonder what their story is. I proceed to follow them around till I get the story. I’d be a good writer and do it the other way, but, well, snooping is so much more fun! Not to mention it keeps my crazy mind occupied when there is somewhere else I want to be.
so true of me this summer

 

True

 

“I’ve been scrupulously open…”

I’ve been thinking about that phrase since I pushed publish last week.

scrupulously, flawlessly, accurately, precisely, exactly

also carefully.

I’m eyeing that last word with a bit of relief. “I’ve been carefully open….” I bet that was what I meant.

Let’s think for a minute, about the last time we shared intimate information about ourselves with no filter.

Who was the person we shared so completely with?

When I say intimately/completely I don’t mean in a necessarily sexual manner. I believe there are intimate acts that touch places far deeper than any of the various pleasures of modern sexuality.

When was the last time you were only you with another person?

When was the last time you held nothing back?

When I think back on my life, looking for moments of pure me, I immediately think of living in Hawaii. That was my first taste, though it wasn’t any kind of intimacy with another person. Rather, it was the unfettered joy of living for myself. It didn’t last nearly long enough.  For years after I came back to the mainland, I tried to recreate that Hawaiian peace of mind. It’s funny to me now, thinking I could find that happiness in a flower, or a vintage print, or the smell of an airport.

It would take years to figure out. I remember where I was, lying on my bed in my apartment in Bismarck. I could hear the kids playing in the living room. I was exhausted, depressed and basically immobilized with a back injury. I had to crawl to the bathroom and depend on my ten-year old son to feed his sisters. I laid in bed and slept and cried and swore to myself I would not come back to this place. I would not let myself be brought here again. It didn’t feel like an epiphany. It felt like a breakdown. So, what does all this have to do with the unvarnished truth?

I’m generally quite introverted. Ask anyone I work with and they’ll tell you it took me a year or two, maybe more, before I let myself begin to have the immersive experience of my workplace, the chats and food in the break room, the after work drinks, speaking up in staff meetings.

When I contacted my newest brother, it was with the same caution, but something happened in that first conversation. That little girl I keep away from people came out to play. She never comes out, not in a first conversation. She stays hidden and listens, deciding if this person is to be trusted or not. That’s her usual M.O..

It wasn’t scary until later, early in the morning when I re-read the messages. I was shocked by my candor. Surprised by his simple acceptance, I tried to remember when I’d revealed so much in a first conversation. Never, I’m sure, not the truth anyway. Five weeks later, I’m still concerned, but this little girl part of me just skips around smiling at me. It’s as if she understands something I can’t quite put my finger on; She has faith in us, her and me.

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He hasn’t heard all of my truth yet.

I hope we have years to come in which we are free to roam about each other’s dusty basement levels discovering. He’s a steady one, the logician who points out I’m getting nowhere by running around crashing into walls. I’m the emotional one, excitedly jumping from stone to stone ten steps in front of him, pointing out everything he already sees. I’ve tripped more than once while looking back to see if he’s watching. He stands me up, brushes me off and shakes his head. I know he doesn’t understand yet; I’m smiling like an idiot because it’s just me he’s seeing.

Keep Moving

Summer is here.

Time for the blog’s warm weather pedicure.

I don’t know what happened to Spring; I have my suspicions. I’ve gone from wearing my down jacket two weeks ago, to my fleece last week, to a tank top and 82 degrees today. For those of you who enjoy seasons that last roughly 3-4 months, this next week will seriously mess you up. We will be enjoying temperatures in the 30’s, the 40’s, the 50’s, the 60’s and the 70’s. One by one, my co-workers and I are hauling our snow gear out to take up space in the trunks of our cars. No one wants to be the first to take everything home and jinx the rest of us. Don’t laugh! The year I moved here it snowed on Memorial Weekend.

Life is starting to settle into a kind of rhythm. No, not like crickets and Long Island Iced Tea. Think more like twenty-four hours with Jim Carrey.

 

 

Last week showed me a side of myself that is taking me awhile to work out. I’ve actually contacted a therapist here in town, acknowledging I just can’t work through all of this on my own.  It’s wearisome to realize that the skills I’ve honed, the tools I’ve used to survive my whole life are not only ineffectual, but perhaps even offensive to my own brother. It highlights the strangeness of feeling  an instant kinship/intimacy with the complete stranger who is your closest living blood relative.

I could really use a beach right now.

Just set my Kombucha down by me and keep moving. I have a lot to think about.

A really wonderful blog post about releasing shame by no longer hiding your truth, speaks to how important it is to embrace the uncovering of hidden parts of yourself. While I highly recommend the read over at TinyBuddha, the read is much easier than the do. I’ve been scrupulously open with my brother, determined to do this thing right. What I wasn’t prepared for is my need to protect myself when I reach a certain level of  well, nakedness, for lack of a better term. I don’t like feeling naked. I don’t think it’s my best side. I get nervous, and when I get nervous I talk fast. I say stuff off the top of my head and work as hard as I can to stay several steps ahead of the conversation. I need to rebuild that girl, clothe her, cover her back up. This becomes especially problematic when my problem solving skills kick in. That’s when I tell you what you’re thinking.

He called me on it. He called me on it, and it hurt. Because I haven’t known him my entire life, I can’t read him. Because we mostly text, I don’t even have tone to go by.  I was chagrined by how difficult it was for me to handle.  A droplet of criticism. A man I’ve never met. Pass the Fireball, no, no glass, just hand over the bottle.

The Life She Never Lived

This week I received a wedding picture; my parent’s wedding picture.

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I’m so thankful for my cousin who finds these treasures for me. I’d love suggestions on how to thank the woman who gives you back your family. She insists I owe her nothing, but it surely doesn’t feel that way.

Speaking of feelings.

I know, I should have warned you this was turning into an adoption blog. I promise to go back to my mildly irreverent talking about whatever catches my eye, soon-ish.

Now, on to important matters, this week’s inner dialogue. I have to talk about this somewhere. How about with my captive audience? Hey, that’s a good idea! They have to listen, and if I don’t want to hear their opinions I can just shut off comments. It’s a win, win. Okay, it’s a win for me. 

Something that has surprised me, no one in my house really cares about all of this, not even a little bit. I mean, I’m used to being ignored, but that’s because I’m usually just being mom. This, this shit is going down in real life! I’m talking about my parents, a brother, a niece, a metric ton of information, and they’re all like, (looking over my shoulder) Is that your brother? Cool, can I borrow a 20?

Sigh.

Yes, as a matter of fact, you should be glad you aren’t my brother. I can hear you out there breathing a collective sigh of relief that I’m not going to try to corner you and talk about it, either. It’s gotten so bad, this week I put myself on a strict training program. I call it, LEAVE THE POOR MAN ALONE FOR A MINUTE. I failed miserably, every single day. I messaged him last night at 1:45 A.M..

What’s that?

Impul-say Con-ter-ol, is that French or something?

What were we talking about? Oh yeah, feelings.

So, this picture was exciting to see. I can hold it in my hand. I texted a copy to my brother ( see, a legitimate reason to message him) and asked if he’d ever seen it. No, he hadn’t. Cool!

Then suddenly, from some previously undiscovered cranny deep inside me, erupted this behemoth of bitterness and unfettered animosity. She was not happy. I had to stop messaging, drive to the store for Macadamia Nut Chocolate Coconut cookies, take a long bath followed by a longer tear filled shower before I could present myself in public as a human again. Even then I didn’t chance it. I just went to bed, exhausted.

The next morning I felt like I’d had five too many Fireball n’ Coke’s. What the hell, people, this is supposed to be the good part!?

There are things that rational me knows. The behemoth doesn’t give a shit about that. She wanted to grow up in California with an annoying little brother. One annoying little brother. She doesn’t care that the wedding picture would never have happened if she’d stayed in California. Neither their apparent happiness nor knowledge of how their life would play out, placate her. She wants to hear their voices saying her name, bury her face against their shoulders. She wants to know that comforting smell. She could not care less that there’s a brother (I do, I care!). She wants a mother.

After I’ve fed the behemoth cookies and water has put out most of the fire, she goes back to her corner. She leaves the door open, though, so she can see what I’m doing. I go about my business, no one knows she’s there. Yes, I’m going to have to take her somewhere and let her talk out her side of the story. I will. I’ll let her cry and rage about the live she never lived.

Some things I never thought about

You’ll notice the awareness that there are countless thoughts I have yet to give my attention to.

These are just what have come up in the last seven days.

In no particular order……excepting the pecking my personal Hei-Hei has given them.

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He was looking for me.

I was better off, however unhappy, where I was.

My heart would never have survived her.

Finally making contact is far more emotional than you ever imagined.

Genetic similarities are not bullshit.

Connecting with your roots can cause multiple daily existential crises.

He’s going to tease you about it like any little brother.

You’re going to cry, a lot. Get used to it.

You might have a real desire to do physical damage to the woman you’ve thought about every day for your entire life.

He took the bullet I dodged.

He struggled, feeling we were kept apart.

You’re going to cry, a lot.

He did so many hard things, all on his own.

He was looking for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Happiness, aka My Place in Hell

I remember the first time I thought I might be headed to Hell. I was a teenager. It was a Monday night and my siblings and I were all gathered around the dinner table for the interminable family night lesson. Mom was teaching about what life in heaven would be like if we would follow God’s laws and the added tenets of our religion, oh, and show our parents the proper respect. She’d already outlined what Heaven was like, paved in gold, filled with mansions, colors we couldn’t imagine, people in white clothes. Looking around the table at all my siblings in their various stages of apathy, I realized there was a large population of elementary age students that owed us a debt of gratitude. We were all that stood between our mom and an actual classroom.

“Will there be family night in Heaven?” My younger sister asked.

Mom smiled at her, “Every night is family night, in Heaven.”

Her enthusiasm at this idea was the final straw.

“Oh, fu……….dge!” I muttered into my arm.

Mom shot me a silencing glare, and my brother piped up, “I can’t wait, mom!”

When she turned back to her scriptures, he smiled over at me, that self-satisfied, that’s how it’s done, grin. I certainly wanted no part of Heaven if he was going to be there.

It would be many years before I admitted to myself that I was indeed, going to Hell. I was living in Pittsburgh with my young family. Going to church every Sunday was becoming a hardship. Listening to the constant sermons on doing more than we thought could, bringing the gospel to our friends, and the little ways we should be showing our discipleship everyday, was inexorably burying me in sandstorm of missed opportunities to serve. My best friends were not interested in my church, my church wasn’t interested in anyone not interested in them. I didn’t want to spend my time trying to convert people, I wanted to have fun. I’m a grasshopper in a church filled with ants, more interested in fiddling than gathering food for winter.

Then the realization, I actually am going to Hell.

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It took a couple more years, a move to the frozen tundra of North Dakota, and a good friend telling me she was building me a place in Hell, right next to hers, for me to feel the relief. It’s alright, I’m going to Hell. All my favorite people will be there! The prospect of living next door to a person who currently lives in another country, well, that filled me with such excitement. I could live on a street of people who adore me. People who like me just the way I am. Fellow Grasshoppers! Think of how skinny we’ll all be from the winters of fasting! Our evenings spent laughing and singing naughty songs, dancing when the mood takes us.

What would be missing?

Judging. That would be missing. Shame. What purpose would that serve? Guilt. No more should-a, could-a, would-a. At one point I thought my kids would be missing, that is until my oldest turned 18. Pretty sure he’ll be there with me, but he’ll have to build his own damn house.

The words that sealed the deal.

“I’m not very religious.” He said.

“That’s okay, Jesus will forgive you.” I promised.

“F— him, he lets babies and puppies die.”

“Never mind, you’re going to hell.” I sigh.

“Hold my hand?”

Damn it! How does he do that?

“I’ll save you a seat……. on my lap.”

I can almost see his smile. Gotta run, there’s a seat waiting for me.