Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In the Still of the Night

I have been spending a little bit more time at my parents' house lately and I wanted to write a sort of homage to my childhood home and my family but nothing came to me. I realized I had summed it up best with this post from last year. There was always something magical about our house at night: 

Nights at my familial home were generally very still ones, the quiet broken now and again by the sound of my Daddy getting a drink from the refrigerator or going to the basement for a smoke while he was reading, playing chess and listening to music. I would spend time in bed, staring at the textured cream ceiling above me, imagining him in his work clothes; button up shirt, khaki pants, dress loafers now replaced with moccasin slippers. He'd be sitting with books all around him, his little portable chess board propped up in his lap or on the table in front of him, chess books with the symbols that always confused me opened to various pages and marked with random strips of paper.

His legs would be crossed and he would be leaning over a book or the chess board far enough so that one sharp elbow could be propped on one thin knobby knee. Two fingers would lie pointing up next to his nose, his chin resting on his thumb, his fat lips puckered, deep in thought. Periodically he would break his sitting position and run his fingers through his dark, thinning hair.
I would toss and turn in my bed, pick a book from my headboard bookcase, read, open the window, close the window, pull out a notebook, put it back, pull it out again. My room was the on the top floor of our home, the whole attic to myself, partially because of my insomnia, partially because I was the oldest of five children. Listless and frustrated I would sometimes get out of bed and sit at my vanity. I would look in the mirror and brush my thick dark locks over and over again until they were glossy and smooth and my scalp slightly ached from pulling and pulling.

Back in my bed I would listen to my family on the floors of our home below.

Depending on the ages of my siblings the night's stillness might be broken by a baby’s cries, or a toddler’s laughter. Sometimes newborn brothers or sisters would waken and I would hear Momma rising from her bed to comfort and nurse the new members of the family. I would spend time in bed, staring at the textured cream ceiling above me and imagine my Momma in her white nightgown, little rosebuds littering the flannel-like material, the neckline stretched and slightly torn from the strains of pulling her breasts in and out of it. She would be back in her bed, baby cradled in her arms, nursing loudly in the night. Sighing, leaning her head back against the knobby oak headboard, in and out of sleep herself. She would sometimes sing:

"Rock me to sleep in an old rocking chair and make me a child again,
sing me an old-time lullaby, one with a sweet refrain...
just lay your head on my shoulder, the angels with keep us from harm,
rock me to sleep in an old rocking chair, safe in my Momma's arms"

and sometimes:

"This little girl/boy of mine, this little girl/boy of mine,
a tiny turned up nose, two cheeks just like a rose,
this little girl/boy of mine, this little girl/boy of mine,
You'll never know, just what your coming has meant,
I'll tell you something though, it must be heaven sent..."

There was silence again as my mother and sibling slumbered, holding each other tight.

I would finally fall asleep listening to the sounds of my family and our house. In the morning, ironically, I was always the first to wake and would descend from my attic abode tip toeing through the rooms. I would sometimes take a moment to look at my peaceful family, devoid of personality and speech, sleeping soundly.
I would often be jealous of them, how easily they lay in repose, how serene they seemed. Other times I would be proud of my secret knowledge: the Keeper of the Night, the Knower of What Happens in the Still.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lovely Zombie

I work on the computer every day, I flit around the internet like a wee ghost, an older slightly more mature Casperetta with a new haircut and too many responsibilities. I download my assignments from FTP servers in Germany, the UK, down the street in Pittsburgh, once from Hong Kong but only by mistake. I fix people's mistakes and speak their words, write their misshapen colloquial speak and hand it off to blood thirsty marketing researchers who are sometimes nice, sometimes gruesome in their greedy collecting of human opinions. Money makers, shaking, speaking, shaking again, bits of gold cascading from plump breasts, lean bills straddling poles and grinding incessantly in front of the bleary eyed customers.

I live a fairly cloistered life. Cloistered. When I was in college I looked at an apartment in this giant fading building too far from campus in a building called The Cloisters. It had been a subdivision of a long gone nunnery that housed the incoming 'recruits'. Potential Brides of Christ. Although the location was impossible for me I still wanted to live there, still take the time to drive by there when I'm in town, longing for that giant stone building, the long halls with slight perspiration dripping from them because of said stone, the dark, dark woods floors that made my feet look like bright slips of Puma ensconced wisps, young women cloistered inside like a herd of unsure penguins, quiet, as damp and cold as the walls around them. 

No, I'm not cloistered. It's more a self imposed hermit-ism. When I make myself join my extended family in celebration or for dinner I have such a good time I wonder why I don't force myself to do it more often. Until of course I am forced to do it more often and I decline.

"I have too much work!"

"I am behind on several projects."

"I have to finish the housework, already started making dinner."

Hanging up on quickly so as not to be embroiled in an argument. Hanging my dark head in shame because I really, really want to go. But not really.

My children entertain me, keep me grounded and not floating vacuously near the ceiling, floating but grounded in this house and not up, up in the sky like an escaped balloon. They delight me, frustrate me, make me tired when I have no right to be...these exciting and infuriating little imps I have formed and dropped from my body.

But yet the internet is still my world. Working, working, working, reading, staring at random strangers photos, watching them make music or art, watching them make fools of themselves, catching up on the news, speaking my mind, using my fingers to make things come from my mouth which would never be lighted upon my tongue in other circumstances.

Would I give it up?

If I were forced to let all the wonder go would I be a zombie, albeit a lovely, non-rotting zombie? 

Do you think I'm afraid?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Favorite Recent Photos

I'm not one of those mom's with a DSLR strapped across my front (and no offense of course if you are). As a matter of fact my Power Shot was horribly crushed by Olive a year ago and I've been using my phone with it's measly 9 megapixels since then. I happen to love taking photos though so I have literally thousands on my phone and more still on my clouds on the interwebs. All of my photos go right to my Amazon cloud which also houses my important documents, all of my music, books and movies.
I 'store' photos on Facebook and also on Instagram which has led me to some heated arguments with some people because I always say I would be a small fee for either of those programs because they house my photos and some of my videos.

Regardless when I can't sleep at night or when I'm waiting in line, etc, I find myself perusing Instagram more and more. I even find myself squaring off photos I take in my mind, knowing which ones will look better in that format and which ones don't.

Here are my recent faves:
My nine month old puppy Blueberry
Photo by embachman
My Grandmother's memory table at my parents' house
Photo by embachman
A cooler than cool Elijah
Photo by embachman
Jeremiah and Elijah twilight bike riding
Photo by embachman

Rosey, sixth grader

Monday, August 27, 2012

Seeing Things

Once upon a time there was a me that was fairly popular and outgoing (so essentially I am letting you know that this is a fiction piece) and I had a bunch of friends. Two of these friends were a couple that were older than me maybe by about five and seven years, and at the time of our friendship I was friends equally with both the husband and wife. Let's call them Saul and Jane.

Jane was incredibly thin and well made, dark blue eyes, long straight blonde hair, not too thin, not too thick and long bony fingers that with all honesty freaked me out more than a little bit. She was always tired and although quick and fairly intelligent she whined a bit too much about aforementioned fatigue and was a tad bit more bossy than circumstances required, i.e. she sometimes was a bitch.

Saul was just as thin and the kind of thin that warrants he must always be wearing skinny jeans instead of baggy and again warrants that his face is always in a mask of thoughtful contemplation and usually boredom despite whatever the situation around him entailed. As a contrast to Jane's lightness he had very dark hair and very dark eyes and brought his fingers to his mouth when deep in thought like he was smoking even when he was not.

Better than acquaintances, but not quite friendly, I spent time with them on and off and we either in a group discussed common literary themes or television themes etc, with Saul being much better read than Jane but not entirely as well read as I was. I like to think we had a good friendship, the three of us for as thin and serious as the two of them were I was round and flighty and it was an interesting mix.

I grew up walking around our small town because my dad believed it was much, much better to walk when we could instead of drive and because of this I knew the back alleys and shortcuts from here to there and there and back. It was on one of these days that I was cutting behind a retail shop's loading area and into a small alley that couldn't equip cars any longer because the stones of the old curbs were falling apart and suddenly I came upon a couple in a very involved, very passionate embrace. I recognized Saul immediately even from behind and stopped dead in my tracks, silently stepping backwards to the doors of the dock, hiding in the shadows. I crouched down and through the cracks of the metal I could see that he was holding his partner's hair roughly in his fists and kissing her passionately and it was with this that I noticed the woman was not Jane and her hair was dark, the same color as Saul's, and thick, curly. The softness and the yet aggressive force Saul was grasping this small woman with almost made me run away in sheer embarrassment, I was ashamed at espying this moment but also incredibly intrigued and aroused. He had her practically pinned up against the ancient brick wall of a condemned apartment building and although they were fully clothed they were writing against each other in forceful passion.

I got up from my crouch half way and moved further into the shadows so I could sneak away without being noticed when a man burst from the retailer's back door, opening it with a loud crack, bam. He was carrying a large piece of furniture and didn't see me where I was hiding. I backtracked from where I had come from in the first place and although it took everything I could not to look back to see if the couple was happened upon by the man or if they had abandoned their embrace in time.

Oddly I felt hurt and ashamed as I went to my destination by another route. I realized with an extreme reddening of my face that I was jealous.  

I never fully realized and still don't to this day whether I was jealous of the woman, Saul's partner in desire or Saul himself, wrapped up in an intensity, the rush of excitement and danger spinning in the pit of his gut. Being unfaithful is sad and unfortunate but the intensity with which he and this woman embraced each other was not a one time thing, not a passing fancy. Or was it? Maybe I was just too naive to know the difference, maybe I still am.

When I reached the library, my intended destination, I sat with wondering for a while, caressing my lips without care and silently wishing to myself that I smoked, like Saul. What an impactful happening! My skull was buzzing and my dark hair was blowing into my face, thick, dark curls lying on my forehead, falling into my eyes.

I finally gathered myself out of this daze long enough to enter the library, search out the books I wanted and turn around just absentmindedly enough to run straight into Saul's thin chest with a clumsy oof. He looked down at me with a smirk forming over his generous mouth and eyebrows burrowed at me.

"Hi, you getting anything interesting today? I didn't know you would be here." He seemed perplexed by her and alone with him in the stacks she felt warm, lazy. Like she could very well lay her head on his chest and rest for a while.

"No, no, of course you wouldn't. I haven't seen you since the party at Jim and Amy's. Duh." Oh, I was such a dork. Duh? Really? I stammered, stepped back, curious at why he would want to keep such a closeness between us, why his hands were lingering on the soft space above my elbows, his fingers gently pulling him towards him in an odd magnetic way.

"Well, see you later!" And with that abrupt exclamation I turned and ran to the front desk to check out. Saul didn't follow me and I couldn't help but think, turning the feel of his fingers on me, the closeness of him to me in the stacks, why would he be so close to me? Why the smirk? Did I have something weird on my face? Was he a sex addict or on some kind of drugs?

Leaving the library, walking home, messing around in the kitchen, going into the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror, tracing the lines of my face with one finger, feeling lips on mine at first gentle and then roughly parting mine like-

And then I was brought about to reality by a buzzing in my pocket.

My message icon was lit up with 15 new messages, the most recent one being: "why were you following me? i love u it hurts to see u like that. what is wrong?". The first one being: "i have a few minutes today. i love u, meet me. i love u"

All from Saul.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

For Mindi

I've never been all that great at having friends. I'm insecure, clingy, aloof, selfish and all together obviously confused and confusing.

There is one shining anomaly of this inability of mine and her name is Mindi Lynn.

I should remember how I met her but I do not. It was a very, very long time ago and she had crimped and kind of long dirty blond hair and was often swathed in tie-dyed Grateful Dead t-shirts and jean shorts that were frayed above her knobby knees and thin calves.

I do know we became friends easily and over time through many over fraught teenage trials and tribulations and later over my many pregnancies and her many moves far away from me, back again and then far away again we have remained close despite our few and far between text messages and missed encounters during home visits.

Sometimes I find myself pining for the days when we were bored and had nothing to do but think of ways to get into some kind of mischief, of telling the same stories to each other and gossiping, of me lying my round dark head on her bony shoulder and whining about some boy I was oh so very much in love with.

I find myself missing the time before we had our own cars and our parents bussed us to each others' houses and around various parts of our home city, miss the innocence of cuddling when it was good enough for us two girls to be alone and comfy without the want of a male counterpart.

I enjoyed the wildness of her, how much she loved animals and how careful and kind she was to them. Although I always shrugged her interest off because I did not share her love of animals whatsoever, I was always jealous of her easy way with them, the way her eyes lit up and glowed when she was dealing with them. She was so much more comfortable in the woods than I was and I would follow her on long walks with slight trepidation, spurned on by her obvious wilderness knowledge.

I also was jealous that she was essentially an only child being that her brother was grown and out of the house before we became friends. I wished with every bit of me I could have my parents all to myself like she did and was silently angry at her when she complained about them.

Last week when I was on vacation something hugely tragic happened to her and she being the awesome and unselfish person I have never been able to be didn't want to bother me while I was away and thus I found out about her tribulations today. When I spoke to her and heard the pain and misery in her voice it took all of my adult-ness and all the reminders of my children, my home and my work not to pick up and drive to where she is, many hours away from me.

I have a real friend out there and she is in pain and there she was consoling me, of course she was.

I wanted to take a little sliver out of the internets to thank her for being the amazing and wonderful person I have loved most of my life on this earth and will continue to love until my dying breath. To thank her for being strong for her mother during the tragedy that has befallen their family and to further thank her for being the wonderful and excellent daughter she will be into the future. I want to thank her for impacting me in many ways, for sharing part of my childhood with me and for being my shining star in the distance through my many ups and downs as an adult.

I also want to thank her for the memories that we shared and the memories we will make as time goes on.

I love you Mindi, I always will.

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”
-A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Downstream (from some Filth)

Two women were playing at the park with their combined nine children, all under the age of six it looked like. I was surprised and gathered that maybe they were a day care or babysitters but wasn't entirely certain of this.

I have four children and I'm the oldest of five so it shouldn't be surprising to me that other people have large families, but these women seemed potentially younger than me and there were no cars other than ours in the parking lot, this park being a little further out than most people would walk to and being they would be walking past two other parks in the interim. Magic women with their many children and their little red wagons.

They were an odd pair as well, the younger of the two had a giant belly and huge arms but tiny little legs and was wearing a very well worn lavender tank top and baggy black sweat-shorts. She had very blond hair pulled back in a little bitsy pony tail that stuck out like a bundle of straw on the back of her head. She had fairly nice features, a broad mouth and light eyes that turned up at the outside corners and I could see her being very pretty if she was took better care of herself.

The older of the two or at least it seemed that way, had a baby on one hip and was so thin it looked as though she might collapse under the infant's weight at any moment. She had a short severe bob which was dyed a very shiny black and wore one of those hemp necklaces I never liked and never understood being that number one, they're ugly as hell and number two, they seem like they would actually hurt your neck wearing them. The one thing I kept noticing about this woman was that her elbows jutted out at such an impossible angle it made me stare, look away and stare again. I came away from literally staring at this woman being sure she suffered from some kind of bone disease or something of that sort to induce those odd elbows.

As is my nature I stayed back a distance from the odd couple and their many children, walking Blueberry around the perimeter of the park while I kept an eye on my children with their buckets wading in the stream.

After a while the women brought their monster of a group to the stream and my children retreated away from the chaos in order to better catch crayfish. But inexplicably I stayed down stream for a wee bit after starting to pick up snippets of the women's conversation.

They spoke loudly and laughed often but the topic of their conversation was more for hushed tones and embarrassed glances in my opinion. They were talking about how the heavier blonde woman was "fucking her neighbor" who, and this gets much, much more interesting and horrible, is "like Danny's age, 10th grade!"

They continued to laugh and the thin woman is not as shocked as she should be and the children are uninterested but are completely able to hear the women's conversations. Oblivious they start to disperse towards the muddier bank across the shallow stream.

"I made him go down on me for a half hour, I didn't even feel anything. He wasn't very good at it." the blonde said unabashadly, her hefty breasts and arms shaking with laughter.

No shit he wasn't good at it you giant disgusting oaf! He's 15 years old.

I have a 15 year old sister and two younger brothers who were 15 not so long ago. I have four children who I wouldn't want assaulted by an older neighbor woman and then treated so entirely callously. I was starting to get so mad but instead of saying something or doubling around the park and meeting my own children upstream I instead wandered around the area where the two continued their cacophonous carrying on about this boy.

"Did he come really fast? Like in his pants?" The thin woman's eyes were greedy with interest. She did to her credit drop her voice slightly when saying this.

"Not really, no. Actually he didn't come at all, I didn't let him screw me." The blonde woman said with pride, "I've got enough kids already to deadbeat baby daddy's!"

It's called contraceptives you pig. So this poor boy had to force himself between this beast's legs and he doesn't even get to get off?

I was tempted to called Child Protection Services or the police or my mom or Jeremiah but I don't. For some reason I came closer to the women and the children, reigning in Blueberry's leash a little tighter. I can't think of any excuse to talk to the women, so I just stand there and wait till they notice me. Blueberry barks finally at the children splashing wildly now and the women turn and look at me.

The thinner one takes me in and smirks, then bounces the baby on her hip and stares me down. The blonde woman is not so bold and with increasing awareness of my appearance and her own, her behavior and my own and how I had obviously heard their entire conversation and that's why I was now staring at the two in disbelief she turns her back and actually hangs her head. She moves into the stream with the children and sits on the muddy bank and begins to play with the youngest toddler, now covered almost entirely in mud.

The sight of the muddy child makes me remember my own children suddenly who were still in sight but further away than I was comfortable with. I turn my back on the woman and the thin woman, still staring at me says under her breath to the blonde woman, "Some people have more money than sense."

Which makes no sense whatsoever.

I didn't counter this nonsense laden remark, I did however chuckle mightily when I wrote it just now.

MORE MONEY THAN SENSE! How about more morals than filthiness? More integrity than slimeballishness? 

More sense than senselessness.

When we left the park and made our way past them I didn't glance their way but Rosey said to me in hushed tones, "Momma those ladies scare me, I feel bad for those kids!"

I do too Rosey.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Re-Introduction of Me

In order to get back on the blogging train (woo woo) (did I really just say woo woo?) (this isn't really going exactly as planned) I thought it might be a good idea to reintroduce myself.

But then I considered the fact that most of my 'good ideas' generally turn out to be bad ones and thus...

I decided to reintroduce myself anyways.

My name is Erin, I am older than previously imagined and I have been maintaining this blog, a bastion of sanity and often sole pillar of my sense of community for four years. I started the blog to keep in touch with my extended family and friends instead of constantly emailing them photos and stories about my children and then it became a window to share first my side handmade crocheted gifts business, then my very part time freelance editing and writing, then my more full time freelancing, fiction writing and warehouse of writing samples for my resume.

AND THEN I got my first full time job ever a few months before I turned 30. I work at home as a German to English translator and transcriptionist. It's hard.

I have four children. I share custody of my daughters Rosey, Olive and Maxine Jane with my ex husband.

My son Elijah lives with my partner Jeremiah and myself full time and recently we added a puppy to our family and the children named her Blueberry. 

She pees when she's excited, which is often.

This is me and that puppy who's luckily not peeing on me in the photo:

My oldest daughter Rose is 12. She's sporty and lovely and most of the time she's uptight and more uptight and yes, uptight. She's a perfectionist and easily stressed. I encourage her to drink more water and take deep breaths which stresses her out even more. She also happens to be incredibly kind and empathetic, I find myself in awe of her sweetness on a day to day basis.

Her sister Olive at 9 couldn't be any more different. She's artistic and generally laid back, sometimes too much so and likes to relax, sing, relax, draw, write stories, lay around and not pay attention to anything anybody else is saying ever, especially when it concerns her chores. She's a flighty and wonderful human being.

My seven year old daughter Maxine Jane is as I often call her, 'the love of my life, bane of my existence'. She has always been a sensitive, generally difficult little thing and because of this I've spent most of my life the last seven years caring for her and helping her overcome a lot of her issues. She's now a much more well rounded little girl, happier, healthier and yes, unfortunately still prone to incredibly horrifying fits. Despite or maybe because of all of this I adore her and so would you. 

My baby boy one is four years old and was a wee babe when I started writing this blog. I love that I have this little journal online recounting his existence on this earth. He is a happy, funny and delightful little boy with a creative mind and a quick tongue (albeit sometimes he is impossible to understand, a product of infant hearing loss that is now repairing). He's the joy of my every day.

My life partner Jeremiah is a mercurial and deeply talented man who I absolutely adore. We were teenage sweethearts that broke up and in a fit of madness rekindled our romance years later. Let's just say it was much, much, much better at 26 and 29 than at 16 and 19.

So was reintroducing myself a good thing or a bad thing? I feel so-so about it. And I think I need a nap.