Sunday, May 29, 2005

The smallest things

The note your ten-year-old writes you because she heard you crying in the bathtub with your husband

“Mommy, we love you very much. Who wouldn’t?”

and the way she comes into the bathroom while you’re lying there in three inches of hot water, lying there after your cry; depleted, exhausted, alone, and how she tacks her little sign on to the tile on the wall across from where you lay so you can see it

“Mommy, we love you very much. Who wouldn’t?”

the way your skin feels right after the bath; smooth and velvety and warm

the peace of being alone in the house because your husband has taken the children out for a bike ride and how you sit on the porch with your summer skirt on and light up that cigarette. How glad you are that you saved this little bit of tobacco for a moment like this

The big, tall, magnificent trees in your yard and the way they move in the wind. The sound of the wind

The peace of being alone and comforting yourself; everything is going to be all right, you tell yourself. You’re going to be all right

The feeling that you could fall in love with your husband again. The sense that the love you seek is right here, at home, with him

The quiet beauty of your ramshackle home at the end of the road, a home with no one inside it except you and the dog.

The way you leave the front door open for the wind. The way you need the wind to keep you moving, especially in these moments when you feel you could stop everything. Stop everything

The way how after the cry and the bath and your late afternoon glass of wine you feel capable again. Strong. Ready. Right. You can mother, you can love. You are still standing

How when your ten-year-old asks you what’s wrong and you say, “I’m just sad,” and she says, “about daddy?” and you say, “no, not exactly,” and how she asks if you’re mad at him and you say a little, but it’s not about daddy, it’s about me. And how she says she and you will talk about it later, and how you see in her eyes how excruciating it is for her to see you upset and to not understand what’s wrong

And how impossible it would be to explain everything to her

And the gratitude you have for her even though you wonder if this is good, if it’s okay for a young girl to comfort her mother like this, again, and again

And how you don’t know. You just don’t know

But you’re still standing and you can love. And that’s all you know for sure right now

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Tell the Truth

You’ve begun smoking again after 11 years

It started a few weeks ago when your friend E. brought that pack to the three-day silent meditation retreat in the country and the two of you made a little ritual of sitting in the tall grass in the late afternoons and after dinner having your silent smokes

Then that friend, the married singer came over, and she was smoking too. You were surprised at first, her being a singer and all, but when she told you that her first love was back in town, someone she always felt she should have been with, you understood the smoking and out of an affinity for confusion you rolled yourself one and smoked it with her in the yard

You called her a week later to ask which brand was she was smoking

Then last week you pulled up in front of that divey liquor store off of Telegraph and bought yourself a pack of Bali Shag. The first one got you high.

It takes about 6 cigarettes to pass from the this-is-disgusting phase of relapsed smoking and into the shit-I-need-a-smoke phase, at which point you’ve become seduced by the deep, measured breathing and the paced inhalations that are utterly calming

There’s something almost spiritual about smoking

After a couple of days you dump the bag of loose tobacco in the trashcan in your office. You think about wetting it down just in case you have an urge to retrieve it but you don’t

A few days later you pull the stale, loose tobacco out of the bottom of the trashcan and you begin rolling it, smoking it again

You remember the days when you were so hard up you searched for butts in trash bins and ashtrays so you could re-roll them into new cigarettes

You sneak the smokes out to the porch when nobody is home or you think the kids are asleep

Sometimes when you really need one bad you suggest to your children that they watch TV and then you go out to the porch to smoke because you’ve essentially just anesthetized them. The house could burn down and they’d never know. The last thing they’re going to do is look out into the yard and see mom smoking. I'm just a ghost

You don’t worry too much about this. You’re not a real smoker anyway. It’s just that life has been a little unwieldy in the last few months and you’ve come to need this one small thing. That’s all. Besides, after this pack is emptied you’ll be done with it



Done with it

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What I Want to Say About My Wedding Ring

It’s really dirty; murky, cloudy, bottom of the pool, lose a child during a birthday party dirty. Let’s just have another glass of wine dirty. You can look at porno and I’ll take a hit of smoke dirty. Seedy apartment complex dirty. Hang your bras off the balcony dirty. Walk around in your slippers and a wife beater t-shirt dirty. Yell at your kids and leave greasy pots on the stove for days dirty. Send your kids to school with Cheetos for breakfast dirty. Don’t open your bills dirty. Blame other people for your troubles dirty.

It’s even more personally dirty

It’s dirty like I’m so bummed you didn’t make a bunch of money in the last few years dirty. And how come you’re still in debt dirty. And no, I don’t want to gaze into your eyes and go down to your studio and make art with you dirty. And how come you never say thank you for all the laundry I do dirty. And I don’t know if I can handle you having a girlfriend on the side when I don’t have a boyfriend dirty. And why is the house such a pigsty when I come home from my meditation weekend dirty. And does the dog have to sleep under the sheets with us dirty.

Sometimes I feel so evil

In the beginning it was a really pretty ring

We bought it at Macy’s in San Francisco fourteen years ago. We’d decided to get married a month before because he was leaving California for a year-long artist-in-residency and we knew that we wouldn’t stay together if we weren’t married. The ring cost $400 and he had to sell his motorcycle to pay for it. It’s a topaz, a Cinderella blue topaz surrounded by eensy weensy diamonds, and in the beginning you could see right through it because it was so clean and so clear and it held so much promise that it was like gazing straight into the Mediterranean Sea.

Marriage is so promising

It has to be that way or no one would do it. You have to be a believer. You have to suspend all your intelligence, everything you think you know about how independent you are and how well you think you know yourself. You have to suspend all your feminism and your ideas about equality and how merging won’t make you mushy, and you have to believe that this union is going to bring you home to yourself and turn loneliness and turn sadness and turn darkness on it's head forever. You have to believe in a very abracadabra way that marriage is going to take all your troubles away. Even if you know better. Intelligent people still have to believe this. We can’t help it. Marriage is so full of promise.

And so what?

Exactly. Let’s get on with it

Here’s the thing

I bought some jewelry cleaning solution about a year ago and it’s still sitting in the cupboard un-opened. I have nothing to lose, I mean it. Abracadabra, I’m going to go clean my wedding ring. Because I’m a believer. In my litle dirty heart I’m a believer.

***Abracadabra: Someone recently told me that its literal meaning is: with these words make it so.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

How To Take Your Life Back

Leave your cell phone behind when you leave the house

Listen to the second track of Collective Soul’s 1997 Disciplined Breakdown over and over. Play it loud and dance it in front of the bathroom mirror. Shake your hips because you can, because you have them. Because you’re actually kind of gorgeous at 45. Take the CD into the car when you go to pick up your children at school and play it very loud as you cruise the streets of your manicured town. Don’t worry that you’re somebody’s mother. Fuck that. You’re free today. You’re celebrating. You’re taking your life back.

Consult your homeopath. When she prescribes the goat’s milk remedy don’t worry if you don’t understand how it’s supposed to heal you. Trust her and concentrate instead on her big doe eyes and the way they rest on you, the way you know she is listening to the all of you, to what you say and what you don’t say. Trust her when she asks you if this man who has been your lover has ever told you he loves you. Trust her when she uses the word hollow to describe his tone.

Take a swim. Swim a mile. Don’t think about how heavy your arms feel at first. Don’t think about your next great scheme to starve yourself and knock off a few more pounds. In fact, stop starving yourself. You’re actually pretty hungry.

When you get home eat some salty nuts because they have protein and you need your strength back. Don’t worry about the calories. You’re saying goodbye to the girl who sat longing for her lover to call her or email her. You’re letting go of the girl who was more concerned with how she looked for the lover and what she said to the lover than with who she really was all along. You want that girl back.

When your lover calls on his drive home just say it straight. Don’t blame him. It wasn’t his fault. He never promised you anything. He just wanted to have fun. He is a man who can have sex with people and not have it mean anything more than a really good time. He doesn’t want to be somebody’s boyfriend. He thinks that’s painful.

You know you can have another boyfriend if you want. And maybe there is a cutie pie waiting in the wings somewhere. Your husband is keeping his girlfriend and you don’t know how that’s going to work. It might not be so great on some days and you’ll just have to deal with that. It’s not about another boyfriend anyway.

It’s about you. And you’re taking your life back. True, you don’t know what that’s going to look like or how that’s going to feel. Right now you feel pretty strong, clear, but you know later tonight you might have to have yourself a little cry. That’s okay. You’ve been crying a lot lately, but this time it won’t be because someone didn’t call you. It’ll just be sadness. Just honest to goodness sadness.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

24 Lies

24 Ways in which I have lied to myself about being in a polyamorous relationship with my husband, another man and his wife

1. I'm the kind of person who can have casual sex

2. I'm a freewheeling girl who can't be hurt by people. My cowboy boots alone will save me

3. My sheer power and my animal sexiness will make the lover want to leave his wife

4. He has sex with me because he loves me

5. My sheer power and animal sexiness will heal the lover of his troubles

6. My sheer power and animal sexiness will make the lover not want to have sex with other women besides me and his wife

7. He will see I am the answer to everything

8. I will become more sexy and more powerful through fresh sex after 17 years of monogamy

9. Other men will find me sexy and alluring

10. And a line will form


11. I will fall deeper in love with my own husband

12. He will seem sexier to me because another woman wants him

13. My husband and this woman will fall in love and leave me and her husband to start a new life together

14. After a lifetime of shrugging off the concept of soul mate I will find mine

15. I will take off 10lbs and experience a magical age reversal. I'll be a 45-year-old who looks 30

16. My bravery to shake the marriage boat and trek into unchartered waters will be a huge boost for my career

17. I'll write a new book


18. I won't need other people because so many people will need me

19. Being needed will make me feel safe and love and protected

20. I'll never feel alone

21. I'll be happy all the time

22. During sex with both the lover and my husband I will stop fantasizing that the wife of a father from my kid's school is about to walk in and see me having sex with her husband

23. During sex with both the lover and my husband I will stop fantasizing about the time a friend of mine was accosted by the big brother of her boyfriend when she was a teenager

24. During sex with both the lover and my husband I will stop fantasizing about a young girl I knew years ago getting accosted on the sidewalk by a group of boys as she walked home from school

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

You want it to be about him

You want it to be about him
You want it to be about him because then it’s tangible
Something you can hold onto
A problem
Something to be fixed
Something to talk about
Cry about
Starve yourself about
A real life drama
In living color
Your life
With characters and a conflict
a protagonist who wants something
That if they can just get
would make them feel so much better
and then everything
I’m telling you
Would be all right

So today it’s going to be about him
Whether he’ll call
or email
Whether he’s thinking about
Beautiful, important, sexy you

Just say it
Or mouth the words if you can’t
You want to be saved
Say it again
You want to be saved

Saved by love
The way he looks at you
The way he wants you
Whether it’ll get him hard
make him want to leave his wife
Whether one look at you makes him forget everything else he ever wanted

You want to be saved by feeling wanted

And this feels so familiar
This wanting feeling
This leap- frogging
From one special saving something moment to the next
How when you were a kid it was all about the weekend
Or the next holiday
Or the next birthday
Or what you were going to get for Christmas

And then as you grew it was about
and having children
and being saved by your work
and by making money
And keeping your looks
And keeping your man
And being the kind of woman who everyone wanted to be

And now how at 45 the jig is pretty much up
Cause you know better
And you’ve had all the things that you thought would save you
been on Oprah
In People magazine
Had your books published
Was flown to New York
Where everyone wanted to know
More about
Incredible you

But that wasn’t enough and you kept wanting
Found yourself a lover
Tried to be even more beautiful

And yet
And now

Now you want it to be about him
You want him to do the heavy lifting
Lifting you out of this place

You keep wanting it to be about something
The next cup of coffee
The next five pounds
The next book
The next love letter
The next phone call
The next deep fuck

And now
Now you’ve come to the end of the story
And it always ends the same damn way doesn’t it?
The protagonist gets what she wants
feels sexy and smart and loved
at least for a little while
But then
it’s never enough
It never is
she wants more
And you want to shake her
You want to scream
You want to rip the pages out of the book and you want to turn her sorry ass toward the mirror and you want to say
It’s not about him
And it’s not about that other stuff
It never is
It never was

It’s about you baby
It’s about you