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  1. stay

    October 10, 2017 by kim

    It’s World Mental Health Day. 2017. I enjoy the optimism of adding the year. It implies we will have another. Or perhaps that’s pessimism… that we will need another.

    I was probably nine or ten when my grandmother wandered past the dinner table, robe open, tissue clutched in her fist and eyes focused. She jabbed a spot on the wall and cackled triumphantly, “Got it!’ then went back into her bedroom. She then continued the birthday party she was throwing for her husband who had died three years earlier. I thought it looked like she was having fun and wanted to join. But my parents said nothing. I stood up and my father shoved me back to my seat. I learned in that sharp moment it was also my job to say nothing. That was somehow the loving and noble act and would make everyone feel better again. Pretend to ignore it and it will go away.

    There was such sad irony when I visited my father in the mental ward a few years later. I couldn’t say nothing. I didn’t know how to ignore him. He didn’t know how to answer me when I asked if it would go away, but I could smell his shame.

    I have loved so many people with mental health challenges and most of them have gone. Eventually. Often by their own hands. So today I would like to encourage you see the people who may have been deemed “broken” or “abnormal” or any other of a hundred words we use to erase our own responsibilities. Do not ignore this. Do not stay silent. Do not wish for it to go away so that we can return to the safe illusion of “normal”.

    Instead, pay attention. Give support. Listen to what is asked of us rather than imposing what is comfortable for us. Let’s try embracing the minds that are here and helping them stay.

  2. Super answer lady person and fear

    May 17, 2016 by kim

    She’s been gone for a while, but a few recent events on Twitter and in my own life have sent the SAL signal, (which looks alarmingly like a uterus and fallopian tubes), into the sky and she’s back! Super Answer Lady Person!

    … I said she’s back!!! Super Answer Lady Person!!!


    Oh for fuck’s sake. Be right back…

    ME: Pssst. Hey. Hey.
    SAL: WhaI’m… I… num num gragggzzzzzzz
    ME (shaking her vigorously): Seriously. Wake up. People need you.
    SAL: I’m on sabbatical. Leeeave meeeeee.
    SAL: I’m up! What’s on the docket?

    Dear Super Answer Lady Person:
    Why do guys say they’ll do one thing and then do something completely different? What the fuck?
    Signed, Pissed Off

    Dear PO’d:
    You need to meet someone. Hang on….

    Dear Super Answer Lady Person:
    Why do chicks say they want something when they actually want something completely different? What the fuck?
    Signed, Pissed Off

    Okay. Dear Both of You:
    Being honest is hard. There are so many things being honest is called. It’s called “selfish” and “rude” and “dumb” and “a poor business plan” among other things. It gets a bad rap for a reason – people don’t do it well very often. And I say PEOPLE. Not guys. Not chicks. People.

    First of all, we get told that other people’s feelings are our responsibility. This can cause dismay when we like somebody. If I like someone, chances are I want them to feel good. I want them to feel happy. I want them to like ME. So, since their feelings are putty in my hands, I have to say things that will promote my agenda of loveliness. The fact that my own feelings may conflict with my words is a secondary problem I will figure out in a little bit. AT THIS MOMENT, my first priority is having stuff come out of my mouth that puts a smile on your face. Want to have lunch tomorrow? I’m being arraigned, but that’s a minor detail. Yes! Put it on the books! Want me to meet your mom? Oh, I already know her from my fetish nights but sure! Let’s say that will happen this weekend! Are you smiling? Yay!

    Even if we DON’T like someone, we are so programmed to take responsibility for someone else’s experience that we say whatever we need to say to make them content and continue to like us. Or at least not have anything to blame on us. It’s a knee-jerk reaction and often we don’t even realize we are lying.

    I worked with a woman who would promise me fulfilled dreams beyond, well, my wildest dreams, quite frankly, but the second I was no longer in her eyeline, I ceased to even exist. When she made those promises, I really believe she meant it. Then she saw the next shiny person, and meant it when she said it to THEM. And now we all have our own support group. Which primarily consists of promising not to make other people responsible for how we feel about ourselves so we don’t become victims of people who lie to us so we feel better about ourselves.

    Also, it just might be that in the past, when we told the truth, the consequences were so severe, we’d rather just give lip-service to what we know the “right” answer is and deal with the nuclear fallout later. Cuz the great thing about “later” is…. it ain’t right now.

    The short version is, people aren’t honest because they’re scared. That’s not your fault. You can put up with it or not. That’s the part that is up to you. And you will probably make a better decision if you look at what you’re scared of in the whole shebang.

    Dear Super Answer Lady Person:
    I’m scared all the time. I don’t even know what I’m scared of most of the time. How can I not give a single fuck? Like you?
    Signed, I don’t know, I’ll probably get it wrong.

    Dear….. me.

    *takes off cape, bends down to eye level, whispers* Listen, little one. Listen, precious, tender soul. You are scared because it’s scary. You are scared because you are brave enough to be willing to feel pain. You are scared because each moment feels like it’s going to last an eternity and the tears will drown you and the gasping will finally squeeze all the air from your lungs and you will stop. And it will be okay, because the fear will stop too. You are scared because you think you are alone and not safe.

    That is not the truth. *puts cape back on*

    I’ll answer your question as best I can. The only way to stop being scared is to stop feeling. There are a number of ways to do this. Shoving needles in your veins or drinking grain alcohol, fucking strangers or just dying. Super Answer Lady Person doesn’t judge. She’s tried a lot of these methods. The PROBLEM with them all is…. you’re not living in fear, true, but YOU’RE NOT LIVING. You don’t get to have a selective net. Everything gets in or nothing gets in.

    You may not know this, but Super Answer Lady Person is not just a brilliant question answerer person, she’s also psychic. And now I see…. I seeeeeeee…. what you REALLY want to know is how to DEAL with fear.

    You fucking kidding me? I don’t have the space for that! Look, here’s the short version. First, we are all scared. All of us. We all have fucks to give. I personally have wheelbarrows full. I just have learned not to hand the out like candy when they wouldn’t do me any good. That doesn’t mean I don’t FEEL like giving a fuck. I just don’t ACT like it. I don’t control my feelings. They happen. I DO control my actions. I can act in a way that doesn’t validate my imagination.

    Because most of my fear is in my imagination. Fear of future? Guess what? That’s imagination. Fear of failure? Imagination. Rejection, poverty, violence… yes, all REAL THINGS THAT HAPPEN, but the fear of them and how they will manifest in my life is in my head. If I can’t act to affect it, I’m making it up. So I do what I can, then let the rest go.

    “BUT WHAT IF….” you scream? Yeah. What if? In my experience, even when “what if” DOES happen, it is different than all of my fears have prepared for. And I can’t bank fear. It’s not like waiting in agony for my dad to put a bullet in his head eased some of the trauma when he finally did. And the fear sure as fuck didn’t magically enable me to change reality so I could somehow stop him. Same with fear of losing my house. Did it happen? Yep. Did my fear do me any good? Nope. In fact, it kept me from picking up the phone and taking calls that would have found a resolution to the gut-wrenching situation a shitton sooner.

    Fear is useful when it inspires sane, logical action to keep you safe. If it’s not doing its job, thank it for sharing and ask it to keep right on moving. You can do that. I promise. And the more you do it, the easier it gets. In fact, I, myself am at the point when I confront a fear with only one, maybe two weeks of paralysis and tantrums. (Fuck you, that’s progress. Just because something is imaginary doesn’t mean it isn’t also real.)

    This is all getting too fucking heavy for a sarcastic, imaginary advice columnist. I’m done. You’re on your own again.

  3. Dear Cate

    May 9, 2016 by kim

    My dear, sweet, beautiful friend. I write because I want to give you an apology and a thank you and I know your infinite humility would tell me I owe you neither. But my spirit demands it. (I write publicly… well, for reasons I shall explain in a moment.)

    Almost twenty-five years ago, I was sitting in a car, driving to Milwaukee with you. I don’t remember what we said. I do remember being amazed you liked me. I flew down the highway with a woman who was the most exquisite actress I’d ever had the blessing of seeing. Someone who inspired and delighted everyone privileged to see her work and, what’s more, everyone who had the good fortune of being in the same room. Everyone wanted to speak with you to be the one claiming your angelic smile. Everyone wanted to be near you to glow as your laugh lit up the sky. And it was silly, little me who got to be your friend.

    I am still in awe.

    So now I fast forward. I remember your voice in a whisper that shook mountains say, “They don’t need me any more.” Now, here is my apology. I couldn’t hear what you were saying. I couldn’t, because I didn’t want it to be true. I didn’t see how it COULD be true. It was contrary to all I knew in the world that someone with your talent and aptitude, your charisma and brilliance, would no longer have a place on the stage because you had ridden the planet around the sun a certain number of times. I didn’t want it to be true for you and I couldn’t accept it might one day be true for me.

    I probably told you it wasn’t fair but to hang on. I probably said it was a phase and it would pass. I probably told you there will always be a place for someone of your abilities. I hope I told you I was sorry, it sucked, and I loved you. Because all of these things have been said to me in the last three days.

    This apology is not born of guilt or shame. There simply are some things I cannot understand until I live them and now I am here. A door closed that turned on the ugly fluorescents above all the others that have also shut over the last eight years. I am officially A Woman in Your Category Who Isn’t a Name and they don’t need me any more. I keep thinking of you and how I wish I had been the friend you deserved, even knowing I couldn’t have been.

    It is the fate of each human on the planet to trample the nettles on the road for those following after. As a girl, I thought perhaps you had wounds from walking in the wrong spots. “Oh, just come skip along here with me, the path is lovely and flat!” I would say. Or maybe that you were imagining it and, “You must be wrong, I certainly don’t feel any thorns! See? Perfect pedicure!” I know for a fact I didn’t have the presence of heart and mind that my own younger friend had when she said, “I wish that didn’t hurt so much. I love you and I will sit and bandage your owies as best I can. You have survived so much and I still need you.” So here is my thank you.

    Thank you for showing me grace and courage. Thank you for teaching me how to feel the pain and not turn away from living. Thank you for knowing that accepting detestable realities doesn’t mean losing. Thank you for loving me. And thank you for giving me the belief that my worth is not dependent on another’s approval. From you I learned how to struggle to keep my voice through the cacophony of those who would silence it. I learned that my truth, my little spark that was amplified by an arena of applause is no less bright when flickering in the eyes of a meercat.

    At least, that’s what I see from here. I know it’s not what you wish, perhaps. But it is perfect to me. And in telling you, I nod to my own.

    Now it is my turn. So I turn these words loose in the world like a flight of doves or a prayer. My feet are torn and bloody, it may be time to stop the race. But I can show those behind me that it is never time to give up dancing. I love you for the song you sing and I love you from the depths of my own.

  4. Melissa

    April 5, 2016 by kim

    “So do you remember the moment you realized you didn’t want to die?”

    Galaxies spun in her eyes as we locked gazes. Her mother and father sat either side of her, so they couldn’t have noticed that their tiny, frail daughter was unfolding to fill up the room. I was frozen.

    “Yes,” answered Sergio, her father. “In the ER she was yelling, wasn’t she?”
    Her mother nodded. “That’s right.”
    Dad continued, “She was screaming, ‘I don’t want to die,’ over and over.”

    The idea of Melissa screaming anything was something that had, until that moment, seemed impossible. But her focus didn’t move from me. Oceans welled up from the stars in spite of the visible effort she made to hold them back. I watched angels.

    Melissa is not yet a teenager, but she knows she almost died. And she knows she wants to live.

    Sergio and I had been speaking for over a half an hour before I asked that question. He wanted more than anything, it seemed, to convey his amazed gratitude that strangers had cared. “You know, when you have a person in your life, you understand if they help.” His gestures are graceful and understated, weaving the air to articulate what his words can’t express. “You don’t EXPECT it, but you understand at least. I do not understand why strangers would care. But I am so… I am so….” again his hand continued his thought. “Thank you. Just… thank you.”

    His appreciation was so great, it took him until halfway through our visit for him to tell me he had lost his job, so recently acquired. “I am a warehouse man. It was last hired, first fired, but I can do anything with shipping and receiving. I spent many years doing healthcare distribution, inventory control of medical supplies. I do have a certificate in supply chain management.” But when asked what he truly needs, he humbly requests help getting a massage therapy course so he could begin right away. His hands seemed to agree.

    But Melissa has been silent. During my visit, a nurse had beeped her, given her medicine, brought her lunch, removed a catheter…. Melissa simply smiled and nodded to each request. She was recovering from surgery faster than expected, but still seemed small enough to fit in my pocket. And so quiet.

    Let me make something clear. My own child, Tabitha, is a bottle-rocket. She is explosive and loud and subtle as a brick in the head. She also loves Melissa. They walk to school together, and my daughter finds treasures for the bigger girl. On more than one occasion, Melissa is the only reason Taby even made it to school at all, coaxed by sweet smiles and simple encouragement that worked when my desperate pleas for her to, “PLEASE JUST HURRY UP!” fell on deaf ears.

    Taby knew something was wrong with Melissa’s body. She didn’t actually SAY, “Hey, there’s a mass growing in your adrenal gland above your kidney and it’s going to cause all of your organs to go into massive failure and give you a heart attack at school so you have to go in an ambulance,” but she was insistent she take a stick that was actually a magic wand. “You need this to help you be okay,” Melissa’s mom told me she had said. And the day before Melissa collapsed, Taby said she needed flowers. She was going to need lots of flowers.

    So, in the hospital, I finally asked Melissa if she knew. Her silence deafened me.

    “Listen,” I said. “That’s just how big your spirit is. Your tiny body was done, but your spirit is so big, you changed the world.”

    The oceans spilled down her cheeks, trailing life. “Do you want me to stop talking about this?” She nodded.

    So I did. I spoke with her parents about the need for nurses in schools and how important CPR training is. We talked about Melissa’s desires to take a sculpting class because she will have to be home-schooled from missing so much. She enjoys art materials she can mold now that her hands are free of needles. They showed me the Happy Vegetables she’s been crocheting. A call from Ruth Connell brought a room full of applause which widened Melissa’s eyes even more. We all agreed that it’s weird when strangers love you, but it’s more nice than weird.

    Then I prefaced another question, “This is going to be uncomfortable, and you don’t need to answer.” She stared at me with captured infinity. “Are you worried about your parents?”

    Melissa knew what the answer should be. She tried to shake her head, but her eyes gave her away. “You are, aren’t you? That’s okay.” Her mother stroked her hair and her father grasped her hand.

    “It’s okay. Here’s the thing. We are going to take care of them. So they can take care of you. Understand?” She nodded.


    She laughed. That laugh wound around my heart and tied it to my promise. She’s just one child. But she showed me all of them.


    Melissa's Happy Vegetables, (and other Happy Things)

    Melissa’s Happy Vegetables, (and other Happy Things)

  5. A round for all my girls

    November 29, 2015 by kim

    The first memory I have of my sister is being told to be gentle with Mommy’s tummy or I’d hurt the baby. This seemed both illogical and utterly unfair. I mean, here was my mother, lying on her back on the floor, and she was TRANSFORMED INTO A PIECE OF PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT! I could slide down her stomach! I could bounce on her boobs! But nooooooo, somehow this mystical, magical “baby” would be harmed. Wherever it was. I didn’t get it, but I knew I was mightily put out.

    I have another image of a moment after my sister came home from the hospital. I sat on the stairs, waiting to be cuddled good-night, and alllllllllll the way across the room my mother sat in her orange rocking chair with The Baby in her lap and my father bent over to smile at them in a rare moment of harmony. While I remained woefully uncuddled. It was at that precise instant I understood what my sister had done. She had taken everything from me. All the love and resources that were not only necessary for my existence by mine by right of conquest had somehow transferred into her possession and I was well and truly fucked. They couldn’t love me if they loved her. What the fuck. I would never be Prom Queen.

    She grew and I was told she loved me. I argued that if she loved me she wouldn’t pull my hair when I tried to hold her. That she wouldn’t keep falling down when she was trying to follow me so I had to slow down and wait. That she wouldn’t INSIST on doing what I did all the damn time. If she loved me she would do what I told her and abdicate. She didn’t.

    And she loved me. What. The. Fuck. She was smart and funny and gorgeous and athletic. She was brilliant. I was the rough draft and she was the final copy. She was good at everything I was good at and better at the shit I couldn’t do. She didn’t need to love me. But oh, she did. She loved my petty, mean, spiteful ways. She loved my threats not to tell secrets and my machinations to get her to take the fall for my crimes. She loved the stupid puns I made her laugh at and the costumes I made her wear. Or, if she didn’t, she loved me through them.

    I eventually realized this may have been her devious counter attack.

    A later clear memory plays itself in my mind like a gif. Her face, wet with tears as she looked up from her ice-cream on the ground and my hand, reaching out, replete with my own Double Chocolate Fudge, giving it to her against my will. Totally against my will. And how somehow the feeling I got was better than the ice-cream tasted.

    There was the time I put a big, scary dude in the club on the floor using only my elbows because he touched her ass. He scared her. How dare he? That was my job! In fact, I stood up to a lot of scary creatures, many of whom wore my father’s face, like the clown in a rodeo, deflecting anger and rage away from her and toward myself because…

    Well, holy fuck. I loved her. I loved her and it was returned and somehow her love not only filled the gaps that were torn open when she arrived, but gave them ornaments and filigree in a way the rest of my world couldn’t. I was incomplete without her.

    She is one of my life’s most important lessons, because my old habits haven’t died. My old fears still have nasty voices and cunning, articulate ways of being heard.

    I work on a show I have come to rely on as a source of emotional support. However, my place has always been the solitary girl. THAT MAKES ME PROM QUEEN, RIGHT? RIGHT????

    When another girl showed up, I was three again. The New Girl was smart and funny and gorgeous and good at everything I was good at and better and the shit I can’t do. But I have a sister who taught me well. “Self,” I told myself, “you are jealous and that is ridiculous. Because it’s preventing you from knowing the person standing in front of you. AND it’s making you miserable. What say we do something about it?”

    I can’t stop the way I feel. I can’t MAKE myself only experience noble and evolved feelings. BUT. I can recognize them and take action to CHOOSE a different response.

    My Prom Queen crown came off. I was the only one who could see it anyway. I risked losing the love and resources I needed to exist, (I didn’t. That’s what fear sounds like), to got talk to this charming, amazing woman. Who now apparently loves me. And that makes me cry with gratitude. Because I love her.

    The Prom Queen sits alone on a cardboard throne. She dances in a spotlight with one person and everyone else in the room gets to party. Or judge her. A FRIEND, on the other hand, tells jokes and secrets. A friend doesn’t wonder if she can trust, she trusts and is trustworthy. She can celebrate another’s successes in addition to her own and then guess what? There’s twice as much to celebrate. She also might even call a different friend and apologize for the time SHE was the New Girl… and, in my case, receive more love in return. We are not the enemy to each other. And the idea that resources are limited to one per customer is consummate horseshit.

    I don’t fight wars in my head with other women any more. I never became Prom Queen and if I was ever the prettiest or most desirable in a room, I didn’t get the memo. It wasn’t what I needed. What I truly want, a deep and loving mutual connection with another human being, is right there when I let it be. (And, I mean, when the other woman is not in her own battle. But even then, I can take my ball and go home. I don’t have to engage. That’s a loving act too.)

    I would like to encourage sisterhood. Be fearless. Make a friend. Be a friend. It’s better than ice-cream and THERE’S ENOUGH TO GO AROUND!

  6. Purgatory Birthday

    June 23, 2015 by kim

    I had a birthday.

    I am sooooo middle aged. Like, there’s very little chance of me living to be twice the age I am now and there’s a GREAT chance I’m close enough to fifty to spit on it from here. So I’m middle aged. Don’t really give a fuck. Have too many other things to deal with. But I’ve had quite a few birthdays.

    My most recent birthday was a few weeks ago. I dunno how many. That would require math. But I turned this age on June 7th. It was my birthday. Didn’t really give a fuck. Had too many other things to deal with.

    My birthday has never been a big deal. When I was a child, my mom did her best. I got to pick the day’s menu (coffeecake for breakfast, still have the recipe, BLT for lunch, now I don’t eat piggies, and mom’s special baked chicken and strawberry pie for dinner – still have the recipes), maybe see the grandparents in the evening, get one usually longed-for gift or, as I aged, an envelope with some money and ta-daaa we love you. But my mother’s best intentions were an uphill battle in our household. (My sister’s birthdays fared even worse in the early years. Once we came home to find the dog in a sugar coma, unable to even get off of the table where he’d climbed to eat Jen’s cake. Another time, a nearby volcano erupted the day before her birthday, royally fucking her party with the down-pouring of ash.) Mom SO wanted us to feel loved and special at least once a year, but the fates conspired against her.

    For my Sweet Sixteen, mom went all out. She bought tickets for me and my two friends to my first big concert (Frankie Goes to Hollywood fuck you I loved them, fuck you), and we were gonna go BY OURSELVES and then have a slumber party. When one of my friends called and tearfully told me she couldn’t be there because she’d been caught taking something that technically she hadn’t paid for, my mom’s heart broke too. She just gave up. We really didn’t do birthdays after that.

    In high school and college, My Day always fell during finals. Nobody wants to come party when death is on the line. Like arguing with a Sicilian. And never fight a land war in Asia. Sorry. I’m sorry. My brain drifts to “Princess Bride” at the least opportune times. Where was I? Oh yes. The long, drawn-out version of meh, birthdays. Meh.

    William Salyers got everyone in the rehearsal hall of Idaho Shakespeare Festival to sing me “Happy Birthday” when I turned nineteen. He got me a flower. I cried. My husband (yes, that’s a big, goddam flash forward, because all the parties I remember until my husband were things I arranged), always does something sweet and wonderful, and often as ill-fated as those from my childhood. Like the Cajun restaurant where we learned some people think “blackened” just means “burned as fuck”. Also, we have a kid who is a lot and sometimes anything extra, even extra that is something we really really really really want to do, is just too much. It’s lovely, I love him, but we let my birthday pass with a nod and a smile and beautiful flowers for the most part.

    So this year I was in Germany for my birthday. I was working at a convention. True, conventions don’t FEEL like work in the conventional sense (HA HA HA HA OH I SLAY ME! Punny. Sorry. No more rhyming now. I mean it.) but they demand one hundred and twenty billion per cent of my focus and energy. I kinda figured this year I would nod and smile at my birthday from the rear-view mirror.

    Except…. people remembered.

    They started reminding me the day before. “Your birthday is tomorrow,” they would say.
    “Yes. Yes, it is,” I would answer.
    “What kind of cake is your favorite?” I was asked.
    “My favorite kind of cake is cake,” I answered. And I honestly wondered why they were bringing it up. And asking me these questions. I really did.

    I dare ANYONE to not cry like a sleepy baby when a room full of “strangers” sings you “Happy Birthday”. It’s not just the song. It’s hundreds of hearts aiming at YOU with love. I did. I cried. I cried when they brought me the best fucking brownies I’ve ever had in my life. I cried when beautiful girl after beautiful girl gave me cards signed by people who wanted to celebrate the fact that I am on this planet. I lost track of the hugs and well-wishes and the people who regretted forgetting to give me either and making up for it later. I estimate the rough number to be around a gazillion.

    My fellow cast mates, boys I adore but would I never, for an INSTANT, think thoughts of me should impose on their daily goings-on, hugged me and laughed and arranged more moments for me to be the recipient of silly, unique and perfect birthday attention.

    It felt like a lifetime of love. Like forty-six years of what my mom wanted to give me so much and couldn’t because we just didn’t live in that kind of home came tumbling out of her long-passed heart and into the bodies of person after person after person. She was everywhere. It was the most exquisite, explosive, breathtaking and beautiful feeling. She defined love for me as a child. She still does. I just never thought I’d get to feel it again once she died. At least, not like that.

    It is an amazing thing to find family where you least expect it. I love you. I will cherish Purgatory Con, 2015, for the rest of my life. Which will probably be a few more years at least.

  7. back on the horse

    May 26, 2015 by kim

    Love hurts. It just does. I’m sorry, but that’s the rancid bag of donkey dicks that is the truth. If it couldn’t hurt me, it wouldn’t be love. Fuck you very much, human experience.

    I had something I thought was going to be awesome. I THOUGHT, and that’s important here, I THOUGHT someone was doing a series and I was going to be a part of it. Why did I think this? Wellllllllll because she was from a group I trusted and I had seen an escrow account and plane tickets and hotel reservations and my manager had emailed with someone who had an email from a network and someone else with an email from the escrow company and a bunch of other people, one of whom I knew already and totally respected, were also thinking we were going to do a series. Oh. AND I HAD A CONTRACT! I had a contract that is the kind that guarantees payment no matter what so I would put that project in first position and turn down any work that might conflict with it. That there, that part, that’s kind of important. We wait on THIS job, because we signed that contract. We don’t get OTHER jobs. Because we have. A contract.

    I’m not going to lead you through the gory details, but it was all fake. A great deal of effort had been put into it looking NOT fake, but it was sooooo fake. Like Rodeo Drive boobs fake. There is a clear legal case for criminal fraud and I could win a lawsuit, but be awarded what? “Here’s a third of her bike and her cat. Good luck.”

    For the last couple of weeks, my brain has been screaming like it was tied to a set of train tracks. Six months of work I turned down for this. Work that is sparse anyway. Work I needed for things like RENT and FOOD and OH HEY HEALTH INSURANCE IS RELIANT ON YOUR CONTINUED EMPLOYMENT AND YOU HAVE A SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD THAT’S GONNA BE FUN TO TRY AND FIND HER FREE THERAPY NOW ISN’T IT? Grand.

    On top of that, my brain still had time to berate me for being an idiot. “Ha! A series. In England. You seriously believed that? You actually thought somebody was gonna pay you to do something like that? You dipshit. Not a bright child at all, you. Idiot. You know I’ve applied for emotional asylum in a different head, right? I can’t face life with you and no substances to buffer the batshit crazy goings-on I have to deal with. Stupid. And you’ve put on weight. A lot. Idiot.”

    So, aside from suddenly facing poverty and homelessness, the latent fat-shaming ableism my mind is capable of has blossomed into a beautiful butterfly.

    But I have tools for that. It may have been really really really really really….. really uncomfortable, but I could plow through it and find the truth. I could find the resentments and pick them apart. I could acknowledge I’m probably not going to lose my home in the next two months and I had a commercial running that will most likely be enough to make sure hospitals have to take my daughter when she tries to sky-dive off the stairs with a blanket as a parachute. I can see how it could have been so much worse, (“We are shooting in my basement. Take this lotion with you.”)

    Yes, it’s sad that I’m not as young as I once was and opportunities are slim. To none. That’s sad. But it’s not like I ever had the golden ticket and then left it in my pants when they went through the laundry. It’s no tougher today than it was before this all happened. My brain calmed down, I regained perspective and I’m moving on. I’ve lost nothing….

    So I thought.

    This morning I got my first audition since this all went down and I put myself back on the market. I immediately began to shake and cry.

    “HA!” yelled my brain that had been not actually placated but was merely nodding while plotting its counterattack. “YOU DO SUCK! PITY PARTY OF ONE! WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR PROBLEM?”

    What the hell is my problem? I went through all the approved tools of My People. I ignored the feelings, I got angry at the feelings, I suppressed the feelings…. then I, (insert eye roll), prayed and meditated, blah blah blah. Finally, bereft, I went to my husband. Nancy Kerrigan-like I entered the kitchen. “I don’t want to act any more! Whyyyyyy? Whyyyyyyy?”

    “Of course you don’t. You got hurt.”
    “You really wanted to play that part. It was a good part. You got your hopes up and the door slammed in your face. And broke your nose.”

    I forget I love acting. In the minutia of the business part, the part where my brain spins plates and thinks this is a “job”, my heart sits quietly and waits to be heard. I once dreamed of painting large masterpieces of emotion with my heart, but at this point in my life, it smiles gently and brings out The Mom crayon. Once in a while I am blessed enough to have the chance to bring out a character that requires multiple colors of maybe Friend, Champion and Zombie-Killer. But I forget how it tickles my soul when I get to act. It’s like breathing for my spirit.

    Do you remember when you finally got the chance to use those crayons that were untouched? The ones with the perfect point that fit so beautifully in your hand. The ones that you grabbed every time and reluctantly had to put back because they weren’t appropriate right then, but they spoke to you saying, “Soon. Soon….” That’s what this project was. That’s what it was for my friend too. We both were angry over the money and lies, but what HURT was that part of our hearts being brought out to play and then told it was all a mistake, back in the box.

    But I HAVE to believe they’re there for a reason. A reason that is good. Even if that reason is just so I know I have them.

    We can’t pick what we love. We just fucking can’t. And sometimes it hurts. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to love. Because my heart knows what’s right. So I figure out which part is my brain trying to deceive me into settling into pity or rage, let those thoughts come in and then keep riiiiiiiight on going out the other side, then I comfort the heart and get back on the horse. I spend so much of my time trying to avoid pain, but it’s THROUGH the pain that I get the lesson on the other side. Which seems to always be a better understanding of my heart.

  8. The hoarding heart

    May 21, 2015 by kim

    I just put a shoe the size of my palm in a plastic bag and tied it off.

    It wasn’t a particularly cute shoe. It was a second-hand croc. It wasn’t attached to any particular memories. It didn’t cover a foot on its first trip to the beach or its last trip to see Grandpa, it didn’t come from a fairy or a long-absent friend, it didn’t have a name. It didn’t even have a mate. But it was my daughter’s. And I’ve been keeping it. She’s seven now and we measure her foot in terms of my arm, not my hand. Taby thinks it’s funny to watch me tear up when I see how far past my knuckles her toes land now. “Look, Mommy! They’re not baby feet any more! Does that make you cry?” But this shoe still fit in my hand.

    I hold pieces of her past like I want to hold her.

    I realized this morning two things. First, that I’ve become a bit of a hoarder. Her closet is filled with things I refuse to throw away in case she wants them some day. I weep picturing her tears of loss. What if that cloth belt becomes a snake she battles with her stuffed lion and finally her latent imagination is revealed? What if we someday unearth the Barbie that goes with this dress and Taby is inconsolable thinking of her beloved doll out there somewhere naked and freezing? What if some day I’m not here….?

    I am terrified that no one will love her like I do. She can be violent and abrupt. She can be cruel and dismissive. She can be overbearing and bossy. Of COURSE she can… she’s a person. She can also be sweet and funny. She asks me specifically, “Is this a kindness?” when she helps me in the kitchen? She hugs tightly and laughs loudly. She apologizes without shame and she gives without obligation. Who WOULDN’T love someone like that? But no one will ever love her like I do.

    The second thing I realized today is I believe that’s okay. She will never know how much I love her. Some day, should she have a child, (however the child finds her), she might get a glimpse or a whiff of my love for her. But even then, it will be different because that will be HER child. No one will ever love my daughter like I do because no one. Ever. Will be her mother.

    My earth stopped moving when my mother died. I don’t know how I continued to breathe. It is clear the love she gave me is incomprehensible, yes, but also continues in me. It can’t be stopped by shoes that are finally donated or bodies that are finally worn out. It grows and grows and grows and I can’t control it, no matter how much I may want to clutch it to me and hold it forever. Like my daughter, it is wild and free and no amount of begging or pleading on my part can contain it.

    My daughter will be loved. And she will be happy. She will be her own person and some day she will be that person without me to love her in my own special way, but that love will have gone nowhere. She will make it her own. Others will love her or not, but she will be fine.

    So I shall trust it. And let these bags of clothes go to some other mother’s child so there is room for what may come.

    I love you, Tabitha. And Charlotte.

  9. Teacher’s Daughter

    February 16, 2015 by kim

    Holy shit. I have eleventy billion things to do. I shouldn’t be here. But I just realized something that is flame through my fingertips and I had to. I just had to.

    I posted this on Facebook:

    One of the most wonderful and astonishing things about my child is her complete fearlessness.

    One of the most infuriating and terrifying things about my child… is her complete fearlessness.

    What I got back has sent me into a bit of a spin. The comments range from, “Just like her mama,” to, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Add to that the recent spate of Twitter comments about how people would like to be more like me and not ever give a fuck or laugh in the face of danger and I gotta come clean: I AM FUCKING TERRIFIED. I am. I’m scared of shit I understand and shit I don’t. I’m scared of the past and I’m scared of the future. I’m scared of not enough and I’m scared of too much. I’m scared of might-be’s and probably-won’t’s. I’m scared of people I know and people I’ve never met. I’m scared of me. Me now, me then, and me tomorrow. I’m fucking scared.

    That’s not what spun me and sent me here. I have that reaction a lot when people remark on my seemingly effortless zero-fucks-given attitude. I’m like, “Ohhhhhh, no. I give way too many fucks if anything. So to refrain takes some serious effort. My nature says a round of fucks for all!” I’m used to reminding people that I’m not some example of fearlessness. Hell, my fears and I are downright incestuous.

    What stunned me was the realization that, at one point, I MUST have been fearless. I had to learn to be afraid.

    My father and I, as my mother grew sicker and sicker, often had conversations in the car in which we both said a lot and neither one of us actually spoke to the other. This particular instance was before I was married, and we were discussing children and how to educate them. My father, having been a teacher for a quarter of a century, had some astute and amazing insights. But I branched off into a more esoterical neighborhood and commented that we all either learn from love or from fear.

    Dad’s scalp slipped backward in a way that always made him look like a wolf, flattening his ears. His lips pulled into a snarl and two fingers arced toward my face. “Fear. Is. The. ONLY. Teacher,” he intoned. I was more frightened of him than our chances of driving off the road as he looked at me. But I couldn’t stop myself. I answered, “I know. I am the product of that thinking.”

    I could stop there. I could point to imperfect parenting as the reason behind my stammering and pill usage. I could blame my timid heart and mouse-like mind on the beast that fathered me. But that would not be the truth.

    The truth hit me. Moments ago. My father scared the shit out of me because he loved me and that was the only way he knew how to teach me. He wanted me to never hurt. Never question my resolve. Never ever ever be scared. So he taught me fear, yes, but he LOVED ME.

    So while today I am still frightened, the love is where I get my courage. And that courage is enough for people to look at my lightening bolt of a daughter and say they know where she gets it from.

    Choosing love as an instructor doesn’t come naturally to me. But it’s working. And it’s spreading. I heartily and hesitantly invite you to give it a shot. As I’ve said before, fear says, “I will make you safe.” Love says, “There is nothing to fear.” And while it is baffling to me how to raise a child without fear as a tool, I am so unbelievably grateful my own father loved me enough so it’s even a possibility.



  10. in all honesty

    December 11, 2014 by kim

    My hand grabbed the ledge just as I heard an ominous crack beneath my left foot. The shelf supporting my weight had been built for shoes and, as Pro My Body as I may be, I harbor no delusions that I weigh as much as even a Doc Martin. I swung my other leg up and managed to hook onto a beam, only marginally damaging my groin in the process, and thought, “This is so gonna suck if I die in my closet. How will I explain it to my husband?”

    Okay, maybe I better back up.

    The astute members of my following may have noticed a… gap in my writing. The astute and long-term followers may also remember some gems I’ve dropped here and there, alluding to my fondness for painkillers and how I probably should lose my privileges. See, here’s the thing about a brain that doesn’t function normally. Some brains think there’s no difference between admitting there’s a problem and ADDRESSING the problem. “Yeah. It’s leaking. We should do something about that.” Then, five hours later, “WHY THE FUCK IS EVERYTHING WET?” seemed like a perfectly rational way to look at life. There’s a Thing. Poof! Thing gone!

    Other avid readers may remember some fun times involving the clusterfuck that was, and I say this with all love and compassion, the final days of my Dad’s life. Again, NORMAL brains would look at something like that and say, “Wow. I grew up with that, that’s a large part of my genetic code, I should really be on the lookout for any similarities with me.” However, a brain like mine says, “Puh-lease. I’ll worry when I find out I’ve been waving guns at police officers while totally stark buck naked nude. Til then, I’m aces!”

    And I really was. I kept my shit together. I didn’t doctor shop. I didn’t get fucked up… often. I didn’t scare my kid or cheat on my husband or lose the dog or anything I could have done. It was going to take me simply AGES to kill myself.

    Just like it did my Dad.

    I was on that ledge because I’d thrown my pills up there at 8:00 AM, knowing I wasn’t allowed another one until 2:00PM when my husband would be gone and I could get the stepladder without having to explain why. Unfortunately, by 11:30, shit was grim. This was five months ago.

    About five months ago, I got sober. Sorry. I’ve been busy not drinking or taking pills. Yes. NORMAL people say, “How much effort can it take to NOT do something? There’s lots of things I don’t do. Possibly among them drinking and taking pills. I still have room to write my goddamn blog.” Yeah. Well. You’re probably not an alcoholic then, are ya, smarty pants? I have it on good authority that some day it will not take every fiber of my being to not do something that’s obviously a really fucking bad idea in the first place. But in the mean time, I’m a little busy, okay?

    And, no. You probably didn’t know. Not all of us need to crash the car into the brick wall to know it’s in the road. I’m praying I’m one who switched paths before the wreckage included extensive body work on the vehicle I call my life.

    I’ll keep you posted. Maybe. Or maybe not. Fuck it, more ice cream.