July 31, 2010


I've been crying all day. It's not pretty.
I am grey-faced, bulge-eyed, and limp as a landed trout.


I am shattered, scattered -- a fallen mirror.
A dropped glass, a broken bottle.
A picture window in the wake of a hurricane.

I am lost. I am adrift.

I am a noun, I'm a village, I'm a doe.

I am alone.

I am bewildered, beleaguered, beseiged.

I am feeling things I never could have imagined.
I am raw in places I never knew I had.


I miss my baby fiercely, with all of myself, as if my wanting could take shape, and fill the empty void where his warm little body should be. But my arms are empty still, and my heart feels hollow and leaden by turns.

At this time last year... At this time last year...

My body remembers. Vividly. He was real. He was here. His name is Noah.
I am his mother, and I love him so much.

July 30, 2010

somewhere, over the rainbow

Someday I'll wish upon a star, and wake up where the clouds are far behind me. Where troubles melt like lemon drops, away above the chimney tops, that's where you'll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow -- why, oh why can't I?

4 weeks

Really I've been doing pretty well. But I suddenly realized that at this time last year, I was pregnant. I was blindsided by that simple fact, and I've been in a bit of a daze ever since. And there is this morbid countdown happening inside my head, now.

Last night I was trying to go to sleep and my heart was squeezing and squeezing and I could hardly breathe.

July 27, 2010


Children ten years old wake up and find themselves here, discover themselves to have been here all along; is this sad? They wake like sleepwalkers, in full stride; they wake like people brought back from cardiac arrest or from drowning: in media res, surrounded by familiar people and objects, equipped with a hundred skills. They know the neighborhood, they can read and write English, they are old hands at the commonplace mysteries, and yet they feel themselves to have just stepped off the boat, just converged with their bodies, just flown down from a trance, to lodge in an eerily familiar life already well under way.

Annie Dillard, An American Childhood

Oh, Annie Dillard! You inspire and intimidate me at the same time.

July 26, 2010

so appropriate

Bonus! Pull-out poster from Frankie magazine, sent from Australia
by the lovely Pam.

July 25, 2010


Mystified by my inability to fall asleep last night; but then I looked up at the sky. Turns out, I've just got moonlight in my veins.

This too shall pass. And then come again...

July 24, 2010

well, if you insist

There is a rather large slice of chocolate cake in the fridge that has been calling my name incessently for the last half-hour. I should ignore it, and brush my teeth, and go to sleep.

But I am thinking I would rather eat chocolate cake.

PS: Happy Birthday, baby sister. I hope this year is your best yet.
(It kind of can't help but be, can it?) Cheers -- V

July 23, 2010

just a little summer reading

E: "Vera! You have too many books!"
Vera: "Oh, I think it's just the right number of books."
E (considers for a moment): "No. You have too many."

July 22, 2010

sliding doors

I have a friend on Facebook, a girl I used to know back when we were teenagers, just starting to formulate our big, bold dreams, and had everything in common the way you do when you're in school together every day and the map of life still seems clear and precise, all spread out before you on the cafeteria table.

My erstwhile friend is nanny to a precious little boy, and is a professional photographer as well, and she has a boyfriend who is a musician in a Christian band. She moved away from her family and built a life for herself in another state. She is involved in youth ministry and, judging by her status updates, apparently lives every day with the blithe assurance that it has been planned out ahead of time, especially for her, by God.

When I was eighteen, I thought that the paragraph above would describe my own mid-twenties precisely. The broad details of her everyday life were the exact dreams of my desperate young adulthood. But for years I could only watch, fascinated and jealous by turns, as other people, like my friend, reached out for what they wanted and -- inexplicably -- got it. I was left behind, paralyzed, caught between the crushing circumstances I had always known and the vast uncertainty of a million possibilities.

I even wondered, for awhile, if my shot at that life had been taken already. If I had missed the boat, and she had gotten there ahead of me and snatched up the life I'd planned, and there was simply nothing left for me when I finally arrived.


But now, can I tell you the truth? The wonderful, liberating truth? It's this: I don't want to be a professional photographer. And I never really did. (Oh, the confessions that make our hearts race, yet mean so little to anyone else!)

It once seemed like my best avenue of escape. I was good at it; people liked my pictures and would pay money for them. I believed that perhaps this was my golden ticket. Except it never worked out, and I'm pretty sure the fact that my heart wasn't in it (aside from other, more obvious hindrances), was part of the problem.

Sure, I could have taken nice pictures of people -- happy, carefree people -- graduating from highschool, gathered with their loving families, getting married, holding their beautiful babies, and smiling smiling smiling because their lives were so fucking wonderful. It wouldn't be their fault, of course. That's why you get someone to take your picture: to remind you that your life is fucking wonderful. But I would have gone numb inside, after awhile. Moreso than I already was.

The hopes I have now are far richer and more complex than the hopes I had as a child, or even the ones I had just a few years ago. The things I want...

Oh, I hardly dare to speak them, so fragile and real and possible do they seem.

details in the fabric

"...hold your own, know your name, and go your own way."

July 21, 2010

so, I had this dream

And it's another one that I've had in the past, but this time it ended differently than it ever has before.


It starts in the house on Glenning Street. I am in this house with a few other people, people I know, who I am fond of and connected to in some form or other. [When I am awake, I don't recognize their faces, but in my dream I know each and every one of them.] We are all at the house, doing nothing in particular, when suddenly THERE IS A T-REX OUTSIDE, OMG!!

And we are freaking out. We're thinking, Shit! The T-rex is coming for us, what do we do? and we are crawling around, trying to get all the blinds shut so he can't see in. As we do this, I notice that there are more people in the house than I had realized, mostly women and girls, but a few boys too; some of them really frightened, and some of them more bemused.

I'm one of the bemused ones. I think to myself, Gosh, dinosaurs are really scary! I'm glad they're not around so much anymore, and this doesn't happen all the time. Because in the back of my mind I know it is not a typical occurrance, to have a T-rex after you, storming around your neighborhood in the broad daylight of real life, and I figure the situation will eventually be resolved, if we can only survive this craziness a little longer.

I run downstairs to help close the blinds over the sliding doors, and that's when I see a crowd of people outside, with cameras and video equipment, snapping pictures and recording the T-rex for the evening news... And I'm like, WTF? The T-rex isn't even bothering with them; it wants someone in this house! [Later it occurs to me, heartbreakingly, that the people outside of the house don't care at all about the people trapped inside of it; that's not what the story is about. They only care about the spectacle of the dinosaur.]

Anyway, I suspect that I know who it is in the house that the T-rex is after: a young woman, gifted and pretty, even charming at times -- but aggravatingly irresponsible. So I go looking for her. I look down in the den but when I go down there the T-rex's arms burst through the basement door (defying physics and all forms of logic) and I think SHIT! and run away, back upstairs, to my old room where I find the girl I was looking for.

She is there with her husband, (who is very nice, by the way) and they are trying to get the blinds shut but it is tricky business because the T-rex is eyeballing that particular window with great interest, and they don't want to be noticed. Their baby is there too, in a carrier in the middle of the room, in plain sight, and I think, Great. That's just great. Way to take care of the baby. And I yell at them -- "He's only after one person; someone in here. Do you have anything to do with this?" and she says, "Shit!" and I say, "I KNEW IT!" and they are still trying to get the blinds closed, but I know that since she acknowledged knowing why the T-rex was there, she will also take care of making sure it goes away. So I take the baby, and I go hide for a little while in a small room by the stairs, in the center of the house, where there are no windows, cause I know that's the safest place.

The girl attracts the dinosaur's attention with a plastic babydoll, and when it roars at her she throws the doll into its mouth, and the T-rex is satisfied and goes away. But while this is happening, I am in the room with the real baby, and I think she is the cutest, sweetest baby I have ever seen. The stress of earlier events melts away, and I am having a wonderful time, singing to the baby, and she is singing back to me and it is freaking adorable. I want to show her mama, but I realize suddenly that her mama left, she's gone, and I don't know where... The crisis is over, and it's suddenly quiet, and everyone else has gone. It's just me and the baby, a brand new baby girl, who's name is Avari.

And I am a little bewildered by the silence, so different from before, but I know I will just have to take Avari with me to a new place, and I will take care of her, and we will be safe, now, and we don't really need all those extra people anymore, though it was nice to have them around when we did.


So. There's a lot there, but I haven't got the energy to unpack it all for you, except to say that I suspect everyone inside the house was Me. Make of that what you will.

When I've had this dream before, it always ended with me being ambushed, grabbed from the den by a Tyrannasaurus Rex and hauled down to the basement where I was, presumably, promptly devoured. So this was a refreshing change; I woke up a little confused, but not frightened.

And I looked up the name Avari, which I'd never heard before. It means: "Of the Heavens, From the Sky."

July 20, 2010


From my place on the front porch, I feel as if I am seated in the prow of a great ship, the spreading tree our figurehead, the sound of rustling leaves and rushing water almost interchangeable.

Out on the horizon, the sun goes down silently, without a fight. I watch, my arms wrapped tight around my knees, as its fiery glow dims and fades and we continue to move steadily forward without it, intrepid explorers that we are, into the evening and all that is unknown.

From my place on the front porch, I feel as if
I am seated in the prow of a great ship, the spreading tree
our figurehead, the sound of rustling leaves and rushing
water almost interchangeable.

Out on the horizon, the sun goes silently down,
without a fight. I watch, my arms
wrapped tight around my knees, as its fiery glow
dims and fades and we continue to move forward
steadily, without it, intrepid explorers
that we are, into the evening
and all that is unknown.

non-violent protest

In the past I have been known to slap those who take me by surprise. But two different male co-workers snuck up on me (accidentally) today -- and I didn't hit either of them.

I am counting this as a sign of progress.

July 19, 2010


Everything is sun-bleached, here. Old paint, and foliage. Brick buildings, street signs, stray dogs. The rolling hills, the water, the windmills, the moon.

Especially the moon, straying absentminded from it's hiding place too early in the day. White as a fossil, half-uncovered, in a detritus of faded sky.

July 18, 2010

point of pride

I realized something, as I was recovering the Men's Shoe department at work (which is a huge pain in the ass, by the way): I realized that I am really proud of myself. I was proud of the work I was doing at that moment, as I glanced back down the row (giant shoes all facing forward, toes lined up with the shelf, laces tucked in neatly) but I was also proud of myself for being at work at all. For having gone out and found a job, and then showing up for it each day...

I get dressed every morning. I eat (mostly) healthy food. I shower. I excercise at least three times a week. I take care of myself. I take care of myself even though I was trained not to. I take care of myself even though, given the prior circumstances, there's not much reason to think I shouldn't be a blubbering mess every day for maybe the rest of my life. I kind of earned that. But it wouldn't make me happy.

I don't like going to work, really. But it does make me happy. They want to promote me already, because I am awesome. Well, because I work hard. But probably also because I am awesome.

I guess I just realized for myself (even though I've been told by several people before) that I am doing really well. Despite emotional days -- and sometimes nights -- despite all the grieving and growing left to do, I am doing really well.

Good job, me!

July 17, 2010


I'm writing a new story. And it's kind of fabulous.
I think I will be able to send it to a publisher, even.

I just had to tell someone. <3

July 15, 2010

a thank you note

Dear M&Ms,
Thanks for coming in a rainbow of colors -- AND being made of chocolate. Bonus! You made my night a little brighter.

Love, Vera

Inspired by Leah, over at THXTHXTHX

Katie doesn't live here anymore

After that journal entry last night (or rather, early this morning), I lay down my pen and promptly burst into tears. Deep sobs, welling up from my center. Lately the word "home" has been catching me out; it comes up in a song on my iPod, I overhear it in conversation, or walk past a wooden cutout in the homegoods section at work, and for a moment, two moments, three, I am paralyzed. Home?

Even in the safest places that I've lived, I've never felt like it was my home.

In the midst of my tears, when my nose was stuffed and I couldn't breathe and all I could see behind my closed eyes was the peeling wallpaper, ugly furniture, and cracked floors of the disgusting little place that I grew up in, I got up to grab my tissues, just two steps away from my bed, and I was stunned by something, in the two steps back across my hardwood floor. In the forgiving glow of my bedside lamp, I noticed, as if for the first time, the things that were in front of me right then. Two soft, bright white pillowcases on two new high-loft pillows. Gentle music coming from my sky blue iPhone, laying on the clean white sheets. A story I had written, sticking out from under my favorite bedspread. My fingernails, freshly painted, bright pink. Even the tissue box in my hand was pretty.

The contrast between my memories and what was all around me was astonishing. And though I was still crying, still feeling my losses, it helped to soothe me, seeing those things. It grounded me back in the present. These were my things, my choices. Not my parents' flat, stained pillows, two or three slipped into each limp, faded case. Not their dirty beige phone with the twisted cord. Not their secrets, not their filth, not their lies.

I am doing things differently. I wrote that big, in my notebook. If I give my children a beautiful life, and they totally take it for granted, then I'll know I did it well. I want them to have so many things I never had -- but more importantly, I want them to have none of things I did. (Except maybe Jill. They can have her.)

Yesterday I bought a few things: brightly colored mixing bowls, pots and pans. When I think of a home, I like to picture these things in my cupboards. Bright, and cheerful, as I aspire to be. I like to imagine what it would be like, to have a place that was only mine. Where the rules were my rules, and the philosophy was my philosophy, and all of the things were my things.

after awhile all the houses start to look the same

-Polinder Rd
-Halverstick Rd
-Glenning St
-Central Rd
-[Glenning St]
-West Mayfield
-Ellis Pl
-Bradley Rd
-Evergreen Way
-[Central Rd]
-Legoe Ave
-Grover St
-[Glenning St]
-Allison Way
-Tacoma Ave South
-South G St
-North L St
-Lawson Rd
-[Allison Way]
-Dayton St
-[Allison Way]
-Canterbury Ct

I have moved 18 times in the last eight years. In my life I have lived in 2 workers' tenements, 1 youth hostel, 1 basement, 2 apartment buildings, and 11 houses. But all I've ever wanted was a home.

Really, mom and dad? Workers' tenements, and then a falling-down rental house, that was the best you could do for us? Really? That is PATHETIC. I am disgusted, looking back as an adult; disgusted that you did not try harder, that you were content to squat in squalor and never reach for more, even for the sake of your children. Lazy, incompetent, selfish... it doesn't matter why. It is what it is. It is pathetic. And I will do better for my family, despite you.

It makes so much more sense, now. That they would take that house and move us there, away from my grandparents, away from everyone. Out in the country, no neighbors to poke their noses into our business. No one to ask questions. That they would never request repairs from the landlords, never allow unexpected guests. Never take us to the doctor unles we were on the brink of death, hardly concious, our bones exposed. Wouldn't get me a driver's liscence or a car. We were an island. Alcatraz in a sea of grass and hay.

The house was on the corner of Central Road. And it felt central, there; it felt like the center of everything. Our secrets held us -- a force like gravity, only darker, stronger -- and the rest of the world spun out around us like a glittering galaxy, full of promise, just beyond my reach.

July 14, 2010

forward motion

Oh, wait... I already did! (source)

I rode my bike about 5 miles this evening, after being on my feet at work all day. When I got home I was really tired, but I felt really good, too. There was a warm breeze, and I could smell flowers and grass and sunshine. I lay down in the driveway to stretch, and watched the tree branches sway and the shadows dance all around, and I felt happy. For a little while, I was just happy, and nothing else.

Which is kind of a big deal, for me.

July 12, 2010

too many wishes

If wishes were fishes... I'd go into anaphylactic shock.

Oh my goodness, I crack myself up! Or maybe I am just
tired, and that is not actually funny at all? I can't be sure.
I have been sleeping so poorly lately.


I can't stop thinking about that dream. Now that I have some perspective, and feel empowered for the first time in my life, here's how it would go, if I was back there, and having that dream again:

After mom left us in the car, and we had waited a reasonable amount of time (10 minutes is long enough, I think, for children who are still so small), I would calmly unbuckle Kyle's seatbelt and my own, and climb out of the car, and stand on the curb holding my brother's hand. Then I would give that ugly old car a good, angry kick, and watch it roll away down the hill. Before it even crashed at the bottom, I would be gone, looking for someone else to take care of us. Because I knew, in my heart, that our mother was never coming back.

July 10, 2010

a blue car on a hill

When I was little, I used to have a recurring dream.

It would start with me in the back seat of an old blue car; sometimes my little brother would be with me, and sometimes he wouldn't. Sometimes he would be there at first, and then later he would be gone. The car was parked at the top of a very big hill. There was a lot of traffic at the bottom of the hill, but not much at the top. We were in the back of the car, buckled in, and we were waiting. Our mom had left us there, and she had been gone for a long time. A very long time.


Suddenly, I realize that the car is moving. It rolls, slowly at first, then faster and faster. I have to stop the car, or we'll crash! We might hurt someone; we might even die. I am trying to unbuckle my seatbelt. If Kyle is there, he is looking back and forth between me and the window, and screaming. If he's not there, the screaming is only in my head, as I fumble with the buckle that will not unclasp. Finally, finally I am free of the seatbelt and I climb into the front of the car that is rolling rolling rolling down the impossibly big hill. I know we should be at the bottom by now, but somehow, thankfully, we are not.

It is hard to see over the steering wheel, because I am so small. I lean over and grab the emergency brake, trying to yank it up. I know you must push the button, and pull at the same time, but it is so hard to do! My hands are too little. I am not strong enough at all.

Still we have not crashed, but we are almost there. I can hear the cross traffic now. I slide down the driver's seat and put all my weight on the brake pedal. It eases to the floor with agonizing slowness. We are in the middle of the intersection by this time, I know, though I can't see anything from where I am; I can only hear the squeal of brakes and the other cars scraping against eachother, and the drivers' angry shouts, slowly fading away, because the car I'm in is still moving, still hasn't come to a stop. And I push and push on the brake, with everything I've got, and I hope and hope that the people outside will know it's not our fault, it's our mommy who shouldn't have left us there in the first place, in that rickety old car.


Sometimes, in my dream, the car would go so fast that we would crash right into the other cars before I even made it to the front seat, and then I would wake up with my heart beating much too fast. Sometimes the car would roll backwards down the hill, or flip at the bottom. Sometimes Kyle would jump out and run after mom, and that's when the car would start to roll; I would see him getting smaller out the back windshield, his mouth a frightened O.

Little things would be different; but always, always, there were the bad brakes. Always, always, despite my best efforts, I could not make the car stop.

July 9, 2010


My eye has been twitching. All. Day.

Last night I fell into an uneasy sleep composing letters to people who, for very good reason, are no longer in my life. So I thought maybe it was internalized stress, and if I actually wrote the letters, the twitch would stop. (Although the five-year-old in me thought that screaming "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" as loudly as possible might suffice.) I still didn't want to do it, so I promised myself a manicure as a reward when it was done.

The twitch didn't stop.
But my nails sure look pretty.

July 8, 2010

how it is to be grown up

"I think I know how it is to be grown up," said Frances, thoughtfully. "It's when you can feel... how someone else feels... who isn't you."

Monica Kullig, Fairytale, A True Story

The sad thing is the continuous realization that the person who "raised" me (allegedly) was not, in fact, grown up. And now that I am grown up, I see it more and more clearly.


I had a hard time at work, last night. When an older co-worker came up to me and said, "No, Vera, no! Not like that!" and shook out a towel I had just folded and sternly showed me how to do it properly, I almost burst into tears. I barely held it together until my break.

I usually feel ridiculous when something like this happens. So I am holding on to something my counselor told me: There's no such thing as overly-sensitive. I am sensitive to the degree that I have been wounded. When I am triggered, and it makes me cry, it's because the equivilent would be if I was bleeding and someone came up and stuck their fingers into the cut. If they were just looking at it, that would be different; but they stuck their fingers in it, and it really hurts, whether they meant it to or not. So I am not childish, stupid, or bad if I cry.


Trying not to be a perfectionist isn't going so well. Insidious messages keep creeping up on me. (Childish, stupid, bad... those really took me by surprise.) I can visualize being strong, not letting little things bother me, but then something as simple as not folding a towel right happens, and I feel so discouraged.

July 6, 2010


Someday, I am going to have a real home. I am going to have a husband, and I am going to have more children. I am going to see 30 -- and when I do, I am going to have a really big party. Because to me, no matter what happens afterward, turning 30 means that I won.

I'm going to live. I'm going to live. I'm going to live.

July 2, 2010

boiling point

I'm pretty sure I said "fuck" more times today than in all the rest of my life put together. I'm mad at myself, mostly. Why can't I just be honest? Why do I try so hard to make things easier for everyone else but me? Well, I know why, I guess. But that doesn't really help.

I am trying to be good so that bad things won't happen to me.

When I was little I was always told to "Be good." Being good meant being quiet, not getting dirty, keeping secrets, staying out of the way unless I was needed, not asking for anything, and showing excessive gratitude for any item, food, or attention that came my way. I was under the impression that if I was good enough, then good things would happen. Which has never actually worked, but I am still trying.

It is something that I devote all of my energy to, and there is a certain level of desperation involved. So when I am questioned or critiqued I'm like, What the FUCK are you talking about? I am using every fibre of my being to do every single thing I do the very best that I can! It cannot be done any better!! Why are you ruining my life?!

And I get angry. I get angry that no one seems to notice how hard I am trying ALL THE TIME. I get angry that I push myself so hard. I get angry at everyone around me for not realizing how shitty my life has been, and then I get angry at myself because how can they sympathize if I use all my energy trying to make it look like nothing is wrong?? Oh my God, it is such a mess!


I bust my ass trying to be perfect, but it turns out my idea of model behavior isn't the same as every other person's. There is always going to be something I'm asked to do differently -- which maybe I wouldn't take so personally if I didn't think I was already doing it "right."


I carry around so much resentment, but when I focus on the real issue, all that anger just turns to ashes and I feel empty and sad.

July 1, 2010

a conscious silence

The past buries the past and must end in silence, but it can be a conscious silence that rests open-eyed. Perhaps this is the final forgiveness.

Iris Murdoch, The sea, the sea