Saturday, November 29, 2008

Writing is Like ... Cooking is Like ... and F'ing is Like .....

I'm having grownup stragglers in this evening for another holiday dinner, to which I have gone out and rounded up a spiral cut ham, which I plan to honey-bake. Yeah, you can go to the store and get them already Honey-Baked but I like to make love to my own ham, all by myself, if you don't mind.

Accompanying the ham will be my "tweaked" version of the green bean/mushroom dish with the crisp onion topping; steamed carrots with slivers of red, yellow and orange sweet peppers; flaky biscuits; this yummy baked yam recipe I found here (a must try!); red potatoes, cubed; rich sour cream; real butter, wine and our spirits ... and then ...

...and then ... and then, and then, oooooooooooooooooooooh, and then ... well, below is a poem about how I F'! ... which is exactly how I write, which is exactly how I cook ... which may be exactly how I do EVERYTHING ... although in writing, it probably all sounds better.

In real life I'm a clutz, so there should be a line or two below where I fall off the bed, or put my elbow in the guy's eye socket, but poetic justice, I always leave those parts out. :) And you know when I'm cooking today, there is going to be brown sugar and real maple syrup splattered on my socks and orange rinds in my hair!

How These Things Happen

You say, you think
you need to be
underneath me.
And so it goes,
something like this:
You are underneath me.
Enough said, except ... legs open.
I guide you inside.
I press down on you,
pulling you in.
I move on you.
You in me.
"Like this?"
Silly of me to ask.
Your face says yes.
It goes without saying,
but I look to your face
to say it again, anyway,
my breasts colliding
with your chest,
as I crouch down on you,
bringing you further into me,
me all wrapped up in you.
I move my hips, rhythmically,
and sometimes not, just to tease.
My face lies next to yours.
Your breath in my ear.
My hair across your face.
My hands gripping your chest.
My thumbs on the flick and press
of your stiff nipple switches.
Your hands on my hips,
guiding me.
My thighs hugging you,
my heels pressed to your knees.
You exploding into me,
or was that me into you?
I lose track of the sounds
that leave my mouth,
when my name
erupts from your throat.
All because, you said,
you needed to be ...
... underneath me.

a.c. 2000-and-something

Friday, November 28, 2008

How She Cooks

How She Cooks

Food is an important part of a balanced diet. -Fran Lebowitz

This much is true.
Sometimes a meal involves
the popping of box tops,
things prepackaged or
McDonald's drive-through.
Taco Smell.
Buffet diners.
All you can eat.

But sometimes,
long weekends end.
Everyone is depleted.
A kid floats in the tub,
another hovers over homework.

The kid in the tub says,
"Next time you are at the store,
buy ginger snaps and
creamy white frosting.
In Russia,
they call this parenky!?!?
It's very good!" <----[yes, we did buy/make. Yes, they were yummy!
And the child,
leaving homework
to do laundry,
passes the kitchen
and asks,
"Is it time yet?
Are you making dinner now?"

How she cooks.

Removing the plastic
from the cow that once was.
(But long weekends mean,
we need iron.)
Red meat that once roamed free,
now ground round.

She frees it from the plastic,
awakens it with things of the earth.

Fresh spices,
crumbled down her palm,
off her fingertips,
bringing the beast back to life.
Sacred beef;
careful, the pan is hot.

Corn meal melds in a bowl
with milk, eggs and rosemary.
Then into papered tins
set aside.
Oven preheats.

Water set to boil with
seasoned oil.
Pine nuts.
Angel hair pasta waits
standing on end.

Salad bowl is seasoned
with lemon grass vinegar
and paremesan.
Greens torn, not cut.
Tomatoes diced,
everything romping
in the same bowl.

The spices linger
on her fingertips,
pressed now to her nose,
the pot steaming her face
as stiff angel hair relents
to the roiling boil.

Tomato sauce, three cheeses,
marry the beef in a field of thyme.

The cornbread stiffens now,
warming through in the oven.

The salad rests.
The child dries.
The other folds a shirt.

The table is set.
Three become one,
joined by the cornbread,
the salad, the angel hair pasta
and the sauce.
Everyone drops their eyes
to their laps,
taking pause,
ever thankful we are
at our table,
mindful of those seated
in remembrance of those not.

This is how she cooks.
Sometimes from popped box top,
McDonald's drive-through,
Taco Smells
and buffet restaurants.
And sometimes not.

Now, please pass the maple butter.

At the time this originally appeared, it was very close to Thanksgiving. In my family of three "little women" and me (their twice-divorced mom), we always "met" in the kitchen on the norm, but holidays especially. This was true even when there were men in the house those growing up years. It was just the place to gather.

In our latter house, we actually transformed the large dining room, which fed off the kitchen, into a sun room which had seating for everyone and a breakfast nook. It just fit the flow of the house better, since we were always together at dinner and weekend breakfasts. It saved yelling down the hallway into the living room, just to have everyone closer.

When I originally wrote this piece, I had two kids in the house (my second-eldest and my youngest). My eldest was spending a semester with her dad. And my grandmother had passed away that fall. It was a time where there were definite empty spaces in our sun room and at our table. While my grandmother had not officially lived with us, she visited/stayed often and was always somehow "there."

We were definitely re-grouping, something you do a lot over the years in a family, I've learned.

While we do not officially "pray" in any conventional manner, we do drop our eyes, hold our tongues and are forever thankful in our live, as they change and rearrange. This does not just occur at mealtimes, because life has a way of changing and re-arranging constantly, so there are many times to take pause.

Those gone from our table that holiday season, were my daughter and my grandmother (one in Wyoming, and one in Neverland, respectively). However, they were not really gone, but gone deeper into our hearts, is what we like to say.

This year, oh, the changes. My eldest has her own family. My second-eldest is engaged and marrying next year. My youngest was in the Twin Cities with her Dad's family, her stepmom and her baby sister. I have lost yet another grandmother. I live with my best friend. We have a weird-ass little dog!

Our own "official" Thanksgiving day dinner was at Mark's brother's house, and yum! Traditional, yes, but yum! Picture and food perfect. We laughed a lot! We planned Christmas. It spoke to the future. Was definitely good.

Saturday, I'm making a second meal, just for the heck of it, for whoever and come what may.

Yesterday, I spoke to my two oldest by phone. Carol's dinner went off without a hitch. Bekah had some trouble with her deviled eggs which made for an excellent story. Ali I could not reach due to iffy cell service, but I know everyone who she had gathered with, since that is also part of my past, and I knew what a great time she was having. [As I'm writing this, she just texted ... sweet!]

When I got home, I had to pull some reports off a hospital system in New Jersey, and this is when I really stop and think, because holidays are not fun for everyone. Not everyone has that "let a joy keep you, never mind the little deaths" feature in their hard drive.

For some people, holidays suck ass.

It kind of starts at the end of the calendar year, with Thanksgiving, progresses into Christmas and the New Year, and by Easter, I don't have words for how bad it is, or can be for some people.

Over the years, I've never seen it be any different in it's progression, and by Easter people actually are killing themselves and punching each other, stealing each other's meds and over-doing and over-eating knowing full well their body is a time bomb and could kill them at any second.

Last night, and this was five emergency room admission notes into it, there were 4 that were psychosocially and/or suicidal thought related, and one guy had too much on his plate and his diabetes and failed kidneys were kicking his ass (but I bet he had fun!)

But, it only gets worse, which is sad.

Even without that live feed over the years, giving me the true pulse of what people are going through across the country, I think I'm hard-wired with the "let a joy keep you" switch, because I have experienced the little and big deaths that come with a life, fully lived, day in, day out.

And that is my toast for everyone I know, and those I haven't even met ... "let a joy keep you, never mind the little deaths." [sandburg]

Whatever your Turkey Day was, and/or whatever you hope for things to be, off to the side, just be!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Cook Like I Fuck ...

That being said, "Happy Thanksgiving" everyone!

I'm going to a very generic dinner this afternoon at my significant other's brother's house, with "his side of the family." I didn't get asked to bring anything. Mark got asked to bring their traditional fare of "scalloped corn."

I know how to make this corny delight, since like all good food whores I swap recipes on the first date. And this corn is ultra-yummy! Dare I say, it f'ing rocks!

But, even though I've been with Mark for over three years, and widely accepted by his family since day one, I'm not allowed this year to bring any food because ... well, because I screwed up the Labor Day picnic by bringing my baked beans this year, instead of "Mark's Baked Beans" which in translation are the ******* Family Baked Beans.

My beans ... okay, they rocked the house and the backyard! And it wasn't as if the crock went untouched. Everyone ate the beans, had seconds and returned to scrape the cold dregs from the side of the crock onto tortilla chips until there was nothing left!

But at the end of the party, his sister said, "Your beans were really good, but not what I was expecting."

And I was thinking, Okay, I did not drink enough at this party, and was glad I was holding my BOB (Bring your own Bottle) of gin which I planned on slugging down the remainder of its contents while Mark drove us home.

What the F?!?!?!?

Then the next day, just goofing off, I related to Mark's Mom, that I guessed I screwed up and **** was freaked because I brought my beans instead of the family beans to the Labor Day thingy, and she goes, "Yes, those beans were good, but not what we were expecting!"

What the F?!?!!?

Previous to this, I was the best thing that ever happened to her wayward, lost empty son, and now I'm the person who brought weird-ass baked beans to the traditional family gathering.

I mentioned this to Mark's sister-in-law (who by the way is having the ****** Family Thanksgiving at their house this year, and she inasmuch as said,"Now you are catching on to the behind the scenes rules of being in this family, " and then we both drank shots!

Of note, I had the ***** Family Thanksgiving here last year, in our new place, and nobody died (but now I wonder how many weeks his mom and sister talked about all the "weird food she made!")

So when the ***** Family Thanksgiving was decided upon this year, emails were sent out (not by his sister-in-law who ultimately ends up having it at their house this year) but from his sister. Obviously, his brother was not going to organize the affair or the fare.

When we got ours it said, "Have Mark make the scalloped corn," and down at the bottom of the email it trailed off and said, "You guys can also bring some kind of Jello if you want." Translation: "Don't for, for fuck sake, Man!!!!! let Anne mess with the corn recipe, and if she starts whining, point her to the pantry and the Jello gelatin stores, but please, gods and goddesses, nothing crazy!"

What the F?!?!?!

And so, folks, I think this weekend there will be a lot of eating, fucking, writing, fucking and reposting/re-fucking of some earlier works that I've written and fucked around with over the years, that are all about ... you guessed it! Food, fucking, writing, fucking and sometimes just fucking and fucking!

And I shall begin with:

Voyage of the Damned Jello
When it comes to "dishes to pass,"
the once, twice or thrice divorced,
and otherwise unencumbered,
are often told or scolded ....
"Why not just bring some Jello."
It's as if they think we can't hold
even the simplest things together,
but they trust us with hot water,
and packages with instructions.
Even we can't mess that up, right!?!?!
---the thick of summer having arrived,
and you know what that means ...
pending holiday weekend picnics,
everyone offering up tricks or treats.
Loser votes are cast for the Jello prize.
I wonder will I win again this year?
Anticipating, I await the count,
that seals the deal on what dessert
I'm entrusted to provide for the holiday.
The chips and dip fall, and the Jell-O goes to ...
May I have the envelope please ...
and these words in careful script,
Anne: Bring some jello, dear,
and this year, put some fruit in it

I originally wrote this in the early 2000's and have revised it several times, but it was in honor of myself and two of my brother, because in a family of four sibs, we were the only "divorced ones."

Every family gathering it was always assumed that I was "too busy and too stressed out because I couldn't keep a man" to bring anything other than something store-bought or package-driven, and my brothers always got asked to bring the chips, or "bring some extra soda."

Any really big dinners or shin-digs had to be at my still-married brother's house, because our houses were obviously made of cards, and my big married bro's house was made of glass.

What the F'?!?!?!

One of my younger brothers lived very nearby and he was a single-parent with two kids, and we used to share a lot of meals together and a lot of holidays, game nights, whatever with our kids. And he could cook!

Over the years, I had seen potato salads, coffee cakes, and one year on Scrabble night, he called to say he had a "buttload of rhubarb" he didn't want to go to waste, so he was probably going to bake a pie.

And yet, over the years, he was listed as "chips," even though on another list my family had already written me off as a "dip," and I got asked to bring the Jello to any and all events ... and one, year by Golly!!!!!! they even trusted me to put fruit in it!

Holy Fuck!

Again, Happy Thanksgiving everyone, it's all about the food, the fucking and the families, it's not about arguing about whether the Native Americans saved our butts (although the Natives!!!!! always, always get my vote!), it's about families, and families have been around since caveman days!

So, eat, drink and be merry!

And look for more posts from me this long regarding food, fucking and writing. I'm making another T-day dinner on Saturday, a "my way or the highway" dinner for stragglers who couldn't get here on the actual day.

But right now, because my work world seems never to sleep or take a holiday, I must work ... which I love my job so you know what that means, it's so totally like f'ing, you would not believe!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

HELLO my name is Anne...

<----(Anne did you know that when you went into the bathroom after writer's group to peel off your contacts and put on your glasses, "mirror, mirror on the wall," what did you see? Large eyes, flushed cheeks, hair in curls and waves. You looked all sexed up, sans razor burn on your chin. You were sizzling, electric. You didn't need the car to get home, you could have flung yourself to the cosmos.)

In the year 2000, I attended a writers group held at a local bookstore. I still remember, my nervousness, when I signed up. Yeah, nervousness! I really had to self-talk my damn self into going to the first meeting.

When I got there, it was a circle of chairs around the bookstore fireplace. Three of the chairs were comfy occasional chairs, part of the bookstore's daily arrangment where people could sit and leaf through books in front of the gas log fireplace.

For our writers group, there were an added 10 folding chairs.

For someone who had to talk her own damn self into going, I got there early, and I got one of the "real" chairs, and plopped down with some relief.

I remember thinking, I'm coming early every time, that way I don't have to sit on a folding chair! Woot!

That's also when I realized, as much as had to talk myself into going to this very first meeting with "strangers," I'd be back!!!!

I got up, took off my jacket and left my backpack on the floor to "mark" my spot.

I went to the end table and got my styrofoam cup of coffee, and filled out my "Hello my name is:" sticker and stuck it over my left breast, my badge of courage.

I was carrying around a leather-cover notebook at that time, and it still holds all my "Hello my name is" stickers to mark those glorious every-other-Monday nights.

I have a zillion-and-one notebooks, and they are all like that. They all hold some secret or capture some time period, or tell me something that I didn't already know about my own damn self! When I page back through any one of them, I find many things I didn't realize I was even looking for.

But this notebook is one of my favorites. I've gone back to it, more than any other notebook. It's like a "lost and found" box when I'm looking for my other mitten on a really cold night.
This notebook, this essential part of me, came to mind a few nights ago in a coversation with a friend, when I said, "Writing is like fucking ..." and he was all what?!!??! ... oh, yeah, wait, I GET IT!!!

And I remember, when he "got it," I felt just like I used to feel in writers group. I felt immediately surrounded by a like mind that felt as I did. I felt the commonality and the shared value of another soul.

Lost is found.

In this same leatherbound notebook, I had written about my writers group that it was much like AA ... I mean, really, the bitter coffee in styrofoam cups, the chairs, the name tags! Everyone, with every piece they exposed of themselves, essentially saying ... "My Name Is [insert name here] ... and I'm a writer."

And then, what the hell ... apply one or two of the ten steps: loyal to your values.
...please myself first.
...rid myself of anger and resentment (we all know we can do that to a page!) my ideas and feelings instead of stuffing them.
...attend meeting and keep in touch w/friends in fellowship. (see?!?!?) realistic in my expectations.
...make healthy choices (write, do not use the pen to stab your eyes out!). grateful for my blessings and responsibilty to others.
...extend and welcome newcomers. be of service.
... to recognize that others have a right (write!!!!) to live their lives. listen not just with my ears but with my heart. (hello!!!) share both joy and sorrow .....

Need, I say more ... My name is Anne, and I'm a writer.

"words caress"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Root Cellar

This Theodore Roethke poem has been winding its way through my head since the beginning of November and the deer hunting season. It winds its way through my head every year at this time, or least ways if not this poem, these exact murky earthy feelings litter my emotional landscape.

Deer hunting in Wisconsin, from what I've seen and heard, is not what I'm thinking about when it gets to be this time of year.

I see a lot of orange.

I hear a lot of talk from the men I know and love.

I haven't seen a lot of deer over the years.

The men sit in stands.

They come home empty-handed.

I don't get it.

I try to understand.

Every now and then someone plunks down a processed deer sausage and I'm all what?!?!?!?!? Then, I'm told, "Oh, that's from Joe Blow's deer, he got one this year," and I'm all, "Well, why the hell would they do that to it?"

I always think back to the autumn months of '81 through '83 when I lived in Wyoming at the base of the Big Horns, barely 19 and heading into my 20s.

I went hunting with the men, one of them my husband at the time, his best friend, his brother, his uncle and his uncle's wife.

It was all about the long drive out, three guys in the cab, and the rest of us huddled in the truck bed, pitch black bitter cold predawn, hot coffee, just as bitter and just as black, splashing on our jeans.

No matter how many layers of flannel and long johns, our ass and back bones hit metal at every bump, off-road. At that age, I hadn't had a child yet, so when the truck bounced, there was nothing on my body that bounced back.

When we parked, in the still dark, it was a lot of walking, little talking, sitting in draws alone, and watching for the mule deer, tracking, spotting, shooting, slicing and gutting.

I can still hear the the sound of the gut bag swooshing loose when you unzip a deer, tug hard with your bare hands, and turn it, literally, inside-out onto the cold ground.

I loved that tug-of-war, the letting go, and the deer giving birth to its own death.

I remember the sting of my tail bone hitting the hard earth, when it all came loose in my hands, knocking me off balance.

I remember the ground steaming and prairie dust motes.

I remember Theresa taking her hat off and "bagging" the liver, and my thinking, Bitch! I wanted that!

I remember the blood on the ground, the smell of still warm meat, even though the heart had discontinued its beat, the dried blood under my nails, my dusty face, streaked here and there, by an escaped long lock that fell from my wool cap.

I remember dragging the deer the miles back to the truck, into the new dark, driving back, same three guys in the cab, the rest of us and whatever deer we "bagged" huddled in the back of the truck, Theresa with her hand in her pocket, protecting the liver, and it really pissed me off, because she always had good intentions, but I knew that liver was going to rot and not be eaten.

The rule was, we shared our "take," never mind who shot, tagged or ultimately bagged the biggest or the best, but every year fucking Theresa fucked up the liver. I swear I am still borderline anemic because of this!

I remember the deer, sprawled in the cold, at our feet, its tongue lagged to one side, dry mucous membranes, stone cold dead eyes.

I can feel the beat and bleed of my heart.

I remember hanging the deer in the root cellar, for its several-day blood drop, the straining sound the rope made, the groaning beam, whitewash chips falling in our hair.

I remember going back the next autumn afternoon, knife in hand, to undress the deer. I always offered to "skin" the deer. Don't ask me why, but it was my favorite part, like peeling an apple and getting the perfect spiral.

I remember my husband's best friend, following me, as he always did, and no one every noticing, except me, because he was just "one of the guys," and I was "one of their girls," which had some protective quality to it, except when it didn't.

I remember how hard he pressed, as he always did. This time, my back was against the rooted wall, cold mud hard-packed at my neck, the deer thumping his back, as he rushed past its hollow carcass, the extra push the deer gave him on the rebound, which caused him to slam harder against me.

Thanks, a lot, dear deer.

That was our only deer that year, the liver already spoiled, the rest left for everyone to share.

Going down the stairs with my knife that afternoon, I remember thinking ahead to the deer being on the newspaper-covered oak table, across the yard, in the house and somewhere up above.

I loved the care and effort we took, piecing it out, cutting those fine steaks across the deer's backbone, setting them aside for the evening meal, freezer-wrapping the rest, saving off piecemeal parts to grind later with beef fat. Full bellies, we'd split up the wrapped cubes marked, "stew bits," "roast," and "flank," readying to return to our respective homes and freezers.

I remember him pushing his tongue into my mouth and telling me that I didn't belong with his best friend, I belonged with him.

He used words for this at the start, but mostly his tongue to drive home his point.

I remember the drill. I had heard and felt it before. It was old bloody hat.

I remember the sound of our teeth hitting. Even now, it causes a "funny bone" kind of ache, and I wonder why the earth didn't crack open and reveal us.

I wonder why no one came to my aid, then, or any other time Cody had me up against a wall.

I remember asking my buried self, What kind of guy does this when I'm carrying a hunting blade?

I remember thinking, like I did in other places when he pressed against me, and said the very exact same things, Could he be right?! Or, more probably he was nuts, and I said the same thing I always said, "Cut it out, Cody! I want to skin this thing. My hands are cold!"

I remember pushing him away, my sweater steaming and my armpits cold with sweat.

I remember telling no one about this, until today.

The Root Cellar by Theodore Roethke

Nothing would sleep in that cellar, dank as a ditch,
Bulbs broke out of boxes hunting for chinks in the dark,
Shoots dangled and drooped,
Lolling obscenely from mildewed crates,
Hung down long yellow evil necks, like tropical snakes.
And what a congress of stinks!
--Roots ripe as old bait,
Pulpy stems, rank, silo-rich,
Leaf-mold, manure, lime, piled against slippery planks.
Nothing would give up life:
Even the dirt kept breathing a small breath.

photo "cellar stairs" by s. sroka

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Words and Pictures

"embrace" by beate emanuel
thief in the night

all but
the moon
and I hide
just as well
as anyone,
except tonight,
sheltered by
the crook
of your arm
and all its good
i've decided
to steal away
with you.
a.c. 04/08

"spirit of death watching" paul gauguin

spirit of death watching

face down
wretched soul
ankles crossed
just so
wishing to be
more open
backside to breeze
breasts to sheet
hair cascading
the pillow slip
where i lie
wishing to
tell the truth

a.c. 03/08

Friday, November 21, 2008

Easier Said Than Done ...

... enough said, I've got to get back to done-ing ...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Yellow Wallpaper

John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no REASON to suffer, and that satisfies him.

Of course it is only nervousness. It does weigh on me so not to do my duty in any way!

I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already!

Nobody would believe what an effort it is to do what little I am able,--to dress and entertain, and other things.

….But I must get to work.

I have locked the door and thrown the key down into the front path.

I don't want to go out, and I don't want to have anybody come in, till John comes.

(The exerpts above reign and rain down hard, today, from the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper." with my companion art piece smack dab in the middle of it. I was looking at this piece today, in a whole new way, because I'm obviously in an entirely different mindset than I was on the day I created it. It sooooooooo reminded me of the short story and Gilman's words.)

Read it on line:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't stay in bed, unless ...

Don't stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed. George Burns

Bed shopping and bouncing and delivery have proved successful. However, it takes everything I have to lift the billion-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets off of my body in order to get out of our new bed every morning.

I'm all, "Just one more minute on this supreme cloud!" and I could "one more minute" myself into the poor house, my last child will have to go into foster care, and who's going to let the dog out and feed him?!?!?!

In the olden days, before the new bed, I always looked at the clock and did my mental figuring. And my hard and fast rule has been for years, no belly-aching, come what will, come what may, any sleep beyond two hours is "better than a nap!" Four to six hours was just plain dreamy. But now ... NOW!!!! ... eight hours will never be enough. Never!

This thing, has an evil siren call that cuts short what used to be my long stints at the desk. Last night, our cable internet went out, and normally I'd get on the cell (home phone is cable as well) and talk to a tech and then go through a series where I plug and unplug, boot and reboot, until things return to normal, the entire time with ants in my pants because I'm usually in the middle of something I really, really want to finish, so I can start the next best thing!

Last night, I became all okay, whatever?!?!?! at just slightly before nine.

When I came upstairs Mark said, "Well, why not watch a movie with me?" which he called from his new leather recliner (which he also cannot remove himself from), and I said, "Nah?!!?! You know what? I guess I'll just go to bed!"

To bed. The bed. My new lover, which I will have to wire for internet access or I'm totally screwed!

Screwed! The both of us.

Mark typically travels all week, and this week he said, "Luck of the draw, I'm local this week." I'm not sure he's telling the truth. I think he's being seduced by his leather recliner. I think he's been driving around the block, for what seems like a significant period of time, and then all of a sudden he's home, going, "I have a little paperwork to do, and I'm done for the day." Then he, Walter, the laptop and the remote get in the leather chair!

So, that's three of us screwed now!

I'm pretty sure he put in his resignation! I'm about to do the same.

Being grownup with really comfortable beds and furniture is hard.

The pain, the pain ... the horror!

And don't think I'm telling a tall tale. Our previous bed went to my daughter's room on Sunday, after all our furniture rearranging and sheet and electric blanket purchasing, etc. And the whole process really was great fun! We moved into our new house a year ago, and this weekend, with all the new purchases and rearranging, it was like getting to move in all over again.

And now ... make it four of us who are screwed! Screwed!
Ali is a top student who will likely scholarship wherever she wants to go, including a senior partial year exchange in Germany because she is just that fluent!

However, when she got up for school Monday, she said, "I'm going to need my old bed back."

To which Mark replied, "Yeah, I know our new bed is evil too!"

And I called from the new bed, "Can you drive yourself to school and possibly continue raising yourself ... zzzzzzz!"

Then, around 11 a.m., the school called, and Ali was all inside out and vomiting in the nurse's office, so I picked her up and brought her home, and she proceeded to turn inside out and hasn't until just now been able to keep food down, some sprite and a few oyster crackers this morning.

A little while ago, I went out and got her a Whopper Junior and a chocolate shake, went into her room and stuck it on her wicker bed tray and said, "It's okay, sweetie. I understand. You can stop making yourself sick. Stay home! Stay in the bed forever. I'll home school you by cell and laptop from our room because I don't want to get out of our bed either," my voice trailing off as I ran back our room and jumped back into the supreme cloud.

Yeah, this family, it ain't what it used to be. At some point, I was thinking how cool it would be when this blog really fleshed out and I covered all the topics areas where I've championed, trialed and tribulated over the years ... stuff about parenting, writing, work, cooking, the arts, travel!

Yeah, right!

Night! Yeah, it's still daylight, but I hear they have these room-darkening shades that run by remote!

So sue me!

(p.s. in case social services is reading this. ali really was sick. at one point, she was lying on the guest bath floor yesterday because the tiles were nice and cool, and i told her, welcome to college life!!!! to which she moaned no way would she ever get herself into a gastrointestinal situation like this on purpose! aw, out of the mouths of 15-year-old babes! she will be returning to school tommorrow, and she is at this moment, out of bed, in the leather recliner sipping sprite and having some chicken broth and oyster crackers. so far so good, unless mark comes home early and tosses her from the chair!)
(p.s. 2: social services, please note that the mention of "tossing" a minor child from a leather chair was merely a turn of phrase.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Place Called Home and ....

... moving on up, on all kinds of levels:

A Place Called Home
I hear ..

...the radio,
on low-play.
...the windchimes,
inside and out.
...the fridge humming near-sleep breathing.
...the quickening of my heart,
louder than any self-doubt.

I smell ...
...shampoo and cream rinse
...the cool sweat of love spent
...ginger, spice and citrus
...a burnt incense and sage
...warm shoulders
...chilled August air
...beeswax lip balm underneath my skin.

I see ...
...the skewed pattern of an afghan
...a myopically blurred ceiling
....the glow of the porch light
...the future looming
...less of the past in trespass
...a long journey's end
...the sign post
that says,
"Time to begin again."

I speak ...
...less and less evil

...closer to my own tongue
...words laced with certainty angry words against self
...when spoken to and when not
...with purpose, on purpose
...with levity and spirit
...because I am.

I feel ...
...a heart's heat like wildfire
...a place called home
...promises can be kept
...bricks will begin to crumble
...sticks and stones not an issue
...less trapped, less scared
...happiness in the first place for the keeping.
a.cunningham (08/05)

When I met Mark, I was living in a two-bedroom apartment in this "village" I've previously mentioned. I lived there with my youngest daughter. We called it the "dorm" because I had recently given up our three-bedroom house out in the country in the neighboring town where we used to live in a lovely rural setting, huge yard, surrounding marshes, bike paths, etc.

We loved it out there, but the time had come to move because there were only two of us left, I was planning on going back to school, and so downsizing and lowering our monthly costs in housing and other was essential.

It was the thing to do at the time, and it was exciting for us. We loved the "dorm," where we moved in the late spring of 2005, and it was "big enough" for what we needed.

So, that being said ... careful what you wish for!

When we moved to the "dorm" I didn't even bring my double-bed. I didn't need it, afterall, who was I to start yet another relationship? I mean, really, folks that was THE LAST THING ON MY MIND!

In the very the earlier time being, I used my new bedroom as my office and studio since I had obviously lost that space, moving from the "big house."

I intended, at some point, to move in a daybed or something ... or not! I just wasn't sure.

At one point, there was a foam or blowup-y mattress on the floor because I thought I might dive into a relationship, but then I changed my mind (yeah, he's probably still mad, but I just couldn't do it!!!). And I eventually got rid of whatever makeshift bed some well-meaning friend had lent me, just in case.

I wasn't ready in any case!

I spent most of that summer alone, or at least living alone. I didn't even have cable! I was using dialup internet, and I wasn't working much. I was taking a break of sorts. The first time ever in my life. My daughter was gone for the
summer, and every day could just be every day with no plan to it ... although, as it turned out, there was some very necessary shit I had to go through.

At the time, I was also dealing with some brain chemical issues, was off my rocker, and was off meds, which in my stubborn will I thought was a "good thing, and i
n many ways, it was I suppose.

It was, anyway, a learning experience to the fact that I must remain vigilent about keeping my head screwed on straight, whatever it takes, and yeah sometimes whatever it takes doesn't work, and that's just the way it is.

I do not, however, regret a single moment of that summer. It was three months of "all about me" which may sound selfish, but those who know me, know full well that selfish is not part of my framework, and what I grew to learn in that three months was for the most part necessary, but on the whole very, very difficult. (I did say, necessary, though, right?!?!?)

I would not wish that summer on my worst enemy; however, I was my own worst enemy and so it was necessary that I wish the full scope of that summer onto my self, and I thank my self for it. If that makes sense.?!?!?

The summer progressed and among my small circle of friends, the fact that I didn't have a bed was somewhat of a joke. My apartment was all very Mary Tyler Moore-ish, and all I needed was a big wooden "A" on the wall. I already had all my favorite things around me (except for Ali who was gone for the summer, and is not really a thing), but in downsizing our house, we had come up with a place that really spoke to our core as a family and as individuals.

That small group of friends, well, I forced myself to expand the group that summer, as well, at which point my not having a bed became an even bigger joke. To this day, you will still hear this or that odd person in my life go, "Oh, my god, Anne, remember when you didn't have a bed?!?!?"

Yeah, because that was weird!

Late May through late August of that summer I was adamant that I didn't need a bed! I was adamant that I didn't need a whole lot of things, and what's interesting about the whole situation is that this is also the summer where I did actually increase my friendship base, and I found out there were a whole lot of things that I really, really needed to not be giving up on yet.

So, here's where we get to the "careful what you wish for part," because this is when I met Mark, during my I'm all up in my own face, and I don't need anyone or anything beyond what the next day will bring me, and I ain't asking for a whole lot! I mean, look at me, I don't even have a bed!

Yep! That's when he walked in to a place where I was hanging out with all my new friends, and when I saw him, a big word went off inside my head ... FUCK! Honest to my gods, I thought I was having another stroke!

Now, that may not sound too romantic, but if you ask him he'll say the same thing. He walked in and he saw me and he said he just knew something was up, and his brain did that same thing where his heart flew up and slapped him in the forehead and his immediate thought was, "Fuck! I'M FUCKED!"

We were fucking FUCKED!

This is how the stubborn me without a bed to stand on met the stubborn him.

To top it off, two of my new friends (a couple) were very old and dear friends of his, and they were all freaked out because they hadn't seen his stubborn hide in 'round about 6 months, so they were so happy to see him, and also their brains were all going how perfect is this? We love her, we love him!

Now, pause here to be nauseated, but that's pretty much how it went, except that we are not the nauseating types.

Mostly what happened is everyone started seeing more of Mark again, and Mark and I were inseperable! As it turned out, we knew a lot of the same people, and I had in fact gone to high school with his little brother ... I just had not ever known that there was an older brother. I had, I suppose, been doing that "looking for love in all the wrong places" kind of thing, except I don't regret that process either. But really folks, how do you leave home the day after high school, live a bunch of different places, meet all kinds of people, marry a couple of them, and then end up back at home base to find someone who started there too!?!?!?

So, where is this getting us, and why the posting of the earlier poem above?!?!?

Because, when I met Mark, hello?!?!?!? I still did not have a bed, and for the last week of August and partially into September we spent nights on my couch, a long, but narrow affair (the couch, not the actual love affair) but somehow we fit, and we slept like dead people, only we were very much alive.

The poem above, is me waking up, bleary eyed and without contacts or glasses, into a whole new world end of that August, where ...Fucking crap! I'm going to need a bed!

When Mark moved in totally, we got that bed, one he had in storage from earlier years when he, too, had a bigger house and a bigger life, but had downsized. But, this wasn't the biggest bed. It wasn't even full size, was way short of queen, and two of them together wouldn't even be a king. I'm not even sure what you call it, but it was less than a full-size bed.

However, since we'd been sleeping on my long, narrow couch, and we obviously were a good "fit," it didn't matter, until today, three years later. Three years later we have made it through some shit, I'm tellling you, left that apartment, moved to a townhouse, and now bought this place ... and today ... well, today, we bought a real bed, a queen! I mean, we'll f'ing be swimming in it trying to find each other!

The joint-ownership folder sits here right now in front of me on my desk, shouting out in purple letters "Welcome to the Steinhafel's Family," and my name isn't even Steinhafel! ... and neither is Mark's, but that's the name of the furniture store where we not only bought our new bed, but a new chair for the living room, which leads tomorrow to the delivery of these items, a lot of rearranging, and the purchasing off all new sheets and comforters and ...

... all of this because I was stubborn the spring of 2005 and downsized out of my house into something that was "just the size Ali and I needed," no bigger, no smaller, no nothing ... firm in my thought that we would not, I repeat, we would not be adding any extra anythings or any bodies!

And let me tell you, I'm a grownup. I'm 46! I've been through some shit, but this ... this ... um, this here new bed thing ... um, well, errr, it's kind of freaking me out!

But in a good way ... so goodbye to the less than full bed, which I'm not kidding we can't stop talking about how badly we will miss it, even though it's going right across the hall into Ali's room, and she's getting rid of her twin.

It's just weird to be welcoming in the queen bee bed because we don't want to forget the couch summer (and that couch has been upgraded too), or the way we ultimately fit, no matter where we sleep.

I think things will be okay though, because my heart still races up and slaps my forehead every day with a great big, "Who the F' knew?!?!?" ... and if you ask Mark, he'll say the same thing, just don't tell all his friends, because he's the tough retired Navy dude! so he's so far beyond this mushy stuff!

I mean, really ...

Friday, November 14, 2008

One from me, and one from he ...

The Cul-de-sac

This calm evening,
wind is barely breathing,
leafless trees standing firm,
bark bones slicked by mist,
street lamps playing
in long comet dot smears
on the black satin drives,
everyone warm inside.

One of my earlier poetic posts this week was very cold within, so this one is a bit warmer, don't you think, despite the fact that it is very cold and rainy/sleety without.

The weather of late has me channeling T.S. Eliot, which made me think of this poem last night:

The Winter Evening Settles Down

The winter evening settles down
with smells of steaks in passageways.
Six o'clock.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
the grimy scrapsof withered leaves about your feet
and newspapers from vacant lots:
the showers beat
on broken blinds and chimney-pots,
and at the corner of the street
a lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.

And then the lighting of the lamps.

... Last night, driving out for more caffeine due to more work yet at the desk, I had just finished my piece and re-read Elliot's piece.

I'm anal that way. One thought leads to another, and I couldn't just get up from the desk after my piece was written, up and out of me, because my brain was going, Wait, uummmm, that poem by Elliot, the one Professor Bozo made us discuss TO DEATH!!!!!!! in his lit. intro. class several semesters ago. The class I took for "fun" because of its poetry component, and then he made us discuss poems to such a point, that I wanted to stick pins in my eyes and never write or read a poem again! The poem that so speaks to the winter season pending in the heart!!! That poem, where is it?!?!?!? Damn it, what's the title?!?!?!

And then I, and my fucked up brain, get up and I go right to the exact bookshelf (even though it's been moved AND rearranged over the weekend), where there rides the big fat Lit. text, where I can just about "see" the poem on the page, and I flip right to it (making a note to order a collection of Elliot from Amazon, because I don't seem to have one), and I plop back down in my chair, and I'm in rapture, for the short time I take to relive the poem, the steaming and stomp, stomp warm breathing of the horses, the lighting of the lamps .....

... and then I go out, and drive through the misty black night in the small village I live in. Yeah, village. I love that term, and I do in fact live in a "village" as opposed to a "town" or a "city," by zoning and such, and I'm probably the only one in this town ... ooops village, that gets a kick out of that wording, because for me, nothing is ever simple and words rock long and hard into each and every night, dancing till dawn!

Anyways .... driving the rain-slick streets, two days' past garbage pickup day, I see things that make me want to write a parody poem on my own work, and the work by Elliot. I wanted to put in it all the unique things that are still sitting curbside that the garbage man did not take ... a broken chair, a Little Tykes picnic table, the unfortunate pile of now wet and soggy moving boxes that were not properly flattened/cut/bound for pickup, a footstool, etc. and the streets are littered here and there with chunks of broken pumpkin heads, poor things, where is the vinegar and brown paper when you need it?!?!?!

Absolute crazy BLISS, as I rock and roll through the quiet darkened streets, get my coffee, and go back to my warm office downstairs, where I can hear the thump of the surround-sound on the big screen upstairs, where my daughter is watching "Sweeney Todd" for the second or third time this week, and still NOT CLEANING HER ROOM, and the dog is snuggled in a warm furry pile on her lap, so glad that she's not cleaning her room, and so am I!!!! ... I mean, it's "Sweeney Todd," for crying and loving out loud!

And I smile for a long while ...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

With or Without Shoes ...

I was feeling hard-pressed to either update my profile in such a manner that my future posts would be better understood, and/or writing a blog that sort of introduced myself in the hopes that future blogs would make more sense ... or the third option, just blog my ass off and whatever became apparent was cool and whatever remained in the dark, well, that's just what so happens in the progression of blogging or journaling, right?!!? Some things swirl in the mirk and don't ever surface, or they surface in places where you don't realize you haven't really said them, but alluded to them all the same.

So, this blog will be a combination of the above as I continue it in the manner that I have half-assedly started it ....

... It's Thursday.

When I got up this morning I thought it was Wednesday.

When I got up this morning, it was actually late morning, almost noon, and also the second time I had been "up," since I rose earlier to drive my daughter to school in s sleep grog around 7 am.

The reason I had gone back to bed was because I didn't initially go to bed the night before, until this morning at 430 a.m.

Okay, thinking back, maybe I drove my kid to school. I don't always know on these mornings what actually transpired when I think back over things upon my second arousal.

My schedule can at times be off the wall, by my own methods, with a sprinkling of madness.

Why is this? Well it's because of the following bliss:

I work at home. I have for the last 20+ years, lucky me! Let me say that again LUCKY ASS ME!!!!

(I may or may not dive into the sprinkled madness issues until later.)

Suffice it to say, most days I don' t have to put on shoes, unless I really, really want to, and unless I'm actually going somewhere that has signs posted that say, "No shoes, no shirt, no service."

If I'm not going out, it doesn't really matter, and if I'm only going out to the drivethrough for a turbo-brewed coffee, the clerk at the window has no idea that under my sweatshirt I'm wearing purple polar bear-printed pajamas, that I'm barefoot, and that my dark glasses are covering up a giant sleep blanket crease that has marked my face because I've only been up for ten whole minutes after what seemed like possibly eight short minutes of sleep.

And it's no one's business, any day of the week, what kind of methods or madness I follow in accepting and/or denying a job contract (case in point, I usually am accepting because I'm kind of a whore with what I do, because I love it, and I love getting paid for it!).

I am my own boss and, again, lucky!

There are only three people left in my household; my 15-year-old daughter, my boyfriend, our one-year-old teddy bear pup and tank of freshwater fish.

My boyfriend travels a lot for work. My daughter, of course, goes to school. My dog is a year old, well-trained and just a dorky presence about the house, and the fish require no real undivided attention.

So I can work off the charts, all different hours, come what may, in whatever manner I choose.

Shoes and socks are always optional.

Caffeine is a must.

Or I can take part of the day off and go hang with my older daughter, and one, two or all three of the grandchildren gals, depending on who is in school or not ... or drive off 90 minutes to the college town and Capital city of my birth and see my middle daughter, and/or just sit and spin things if I want with no real direction or purpose (we might be touching on the sprinkling of madness there).

That being said ... this blog is done, and a teaser it was, in that it has launched and opened a few subject areas, and left some skeletons fully cloaked in various closets.

I will give up this additional bit of at-the-moment info. though ... I got rid of the pjs today at noon, am fully dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, I am wearing socks, but I do not plan on wearing shoes today, and will again be going to bed tonight, except it will be very early in the morning.

Catch me if you can.

Rinse and repeat.

Life is good, and I am a lucky duck, suffice it to say.

(I am also hoping to spend more time here at to link to other blogs, etc. and continue the networking. Has been fun so far, and look how my twin-separated-by-years-despite-our-shared-birth sister, Candy, is beaming since this blog's inception! And right now she's thinking, oh, girlfriend!!!!!, I so totally get the barefoot thang!

In cheek!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Currently Cheating ... a bit ....

Cold Within

In shadow,
in estrangement,
entangled in this loom,
I long to move freely
about our shared space
and wonder, I do,
how it got this way
the din of silence,
loud unsaid reasons,
why we can't find
the words to weave
back together.

... dunno, just playing with words ... and now for a random wordy blog entry:

A. I hope you hugged a Veteran yesterday. There are more out and about than you could possibly know. I bet every other person next to you ... well almost, but I personally know quite a few, so I bet you do to.

B. Hug your child today, hug your husband/wife, hug your boyfriend/girlfriend, kiss the dog and call your grandparents, and feel lucky this day and every day. My middle daughter called me yesterday to report the sadness that a student in her campus classes had been shot in part of a shooting rampage/jealous rage thing that had actually taken place over several days before the guy turned himself in. This man just happened to be in the right place at the wrong time.

Sad, hard to comprehend.


Repeat the above ... hug your child, hug your husband, boyfriend/girlfriend, rinse and repeat! I'm not kidding. Life is too short! And those people that maybe you aren't especially speaking too, there is a fine line between love and hate, right? So keep that place for them too.

C. The weather, has become frightful but I find it delightful. Walter will not go out without first surveying the frosty ground and blowing hot air out his little nose, and you'd be amazed at how fast he can do one and find a place for two at 6 a.m. I don't think he remembers snow, even though when he came into this world that's all there was for the first 6 months of his life! And then there were grasshoppers!

D. Skewed world view ... It sleeted/snowed last night, and when I looked over the street and down the unconstructed (as yet) hill, on down into the circle of new duplex homes below us, the circle drive fronting the duplex community was wet and shiny, the yard/street lamps were on, and it looked like a skating rink!

E. The many ways of saying I love you. Ali came down to my office last night to do something, and borrow an envelope, and as always asked if she'd be interrupting anything, and I said no, but then she asked me a question and I said, "Okay, don't ... you are doing that thing again where you are talking." And then we both laughed! Yeah, so much for concentrating, but I probably needed the break in my brain pan.

p.s. Ali usually is down here with me most evenings, but unfortunately her room exploded into freaky messydom, and so I have to do the tough-love thing!!!!! and she was banned from lying on the rug listening to my crazy work noises and voices and rolling on the floor suppressing giggles. Yeah, my work is just that fun and nutzo!

Okay, that's it ... now ...
... Remember what I said ... hug a Veteran even today, heck EVERY DAY!, while there is still time, and grab up the rest of those you love and feel lucky, and think about every shiny road like it's a skating pond, and see where that gets you.

Or something like that ...

Peace out!

P.S. For Candy ... Walter is a teddy bear pup! Yeah, he's massive and threatening, all 7 pounds of his cute little face! I should, of course, put more into my profile and introduce the characters who partner in my daily crimes ... but in due time! Thanks again for forcing me into this. I had intended to do it at some point, beyond my myspace blogginess (though if anyone checks, you can tell that this one too is sort of a repeat of that ... but I'll become more orginal soon, I swear it!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm It!!!!

Word for the week in my head: Exacerbated. I don't know why but I love that word increase the severity, bitterness, or violence of (disease, ill feeling, etc.); aggravate ... I know, probably not a good Monday word, but I love the word! The situation was exacerbated by ... his bad feelings only increased when ... yeah, I know, such a neggy, negative word, but I do so love it.

Thought for the week in my head: Shelving, and unpacking. Yeah, we've lived here a solid year, and I still have a few things to unpack to make it real. I have new shelves in my office, three!!!!, and room for all my books and papers and things, and most of it is unpacked now, but many of the books are sitting next to books that they don't belong next too, so I sort of hear this "murmuring" behind me, like a poetry book is mad because it's lodged between short fiction, and my college shelf and files wants to know why it got moved to the back of the room (and the back of my head) and I moved the work files and books closer to the desks, but the writing stuff is also close to the desk, so there is happiness in the room as well ... and the smell of new carpet!

Thing for the week in my life: To dig in, nest, reorganize and begin again. Thing one and thing two ... leads to thing three?!?!?!

Song for the week in my head: Old Hootie stuff, "Let Her Cry" ...

She sits alone by a lamppost trying to find a thought that's escaped her mind ...

Food for the week in my belly: Coffee, diet Pepsi and trail mix at my desk.

Colour(s) for the week in my life: The sky is gray-blue, my new carpet is a deep dark reddish, burgundy-ish bruised purple.

Smile for the week on my face is: Walter in his hooded sweatshirt.

Blessing for the week in my heart: Love hard!