Friday, January 15, 2021

Little Places

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

Steam ~ shower ~ cold weather ~ space heater ~ closet

Submitted by:


I used to hide in my closet.

When I was a kid, there was seriously no where safer in my dad's house--4 walls, a tiny space but big enough to lounge on pillows and read, and away from anyone who might spot me and try to hurt me. I spent hours in there reading book after book and pretending I was anywhere else but home. Home was shouting and hurt and pain and fear while books let me live in magical places with talking cats and weird siblings and cute girls. Holding a book in my safe spot, I knew I would never have clicked my heels 3 times a la Dorothy of Oz and gone back to the place that hurt me so many times.

Except I did. 

Teenage me, traumatized by my parents and boys and life, returned to that house maybe a year after my mom left it because she moved on quickly with a man who despised my existence as much as I did his, and they made things bad enough that I'd rather be hit than stay. I needed my closet.

It didn't last long, living there. But my preference for small spaces where I could hide from the world and sit in my emotions or hide from them too never left. I couldn't hide in my closet at my mom's and none of my apartments had any with much space, so the shower became my refuge.

I posted as a dark joke a status on Facebook recently about people not taking showers whether because of depression or chronic illness. Where the fuck do you cry then, I asked. Because fuck if I know. That's my place... it's the one place I get to be alone without even animals watching my shame and grief and it's still my one place to escape. I've spent a lot of hours with podcasts and audiobooks in showers thinking about anything but what was going on in my life. In cold weather I crank up my little space heater and the hot water and let the steam cleanse my soul. And in summers I turn the hot water all the way down so I can feel something besides the humid weight of the south's hellfires.

I plan out conversations in there, scrub my soul of all its roughness, and let the tears roll if I need to. I plan stories and learn about fascism and laugh with podcast hosts. There's something about being hidden away from everything that helps me let my guard down and it started with the safety I felt in my closet at home. that the best I can do?

As a queer woman I stopped living in the metaphorical gay closet at 15. I was still a baby. A traumatized, too old for her years baby but still very much a baby and I knew then I shouldn't hide who I am. So why do I still need the shower to feel ok? I don't think it's particularly healthy not to want to cry or let my guard down in front of anyone else. I don't think I should be embarrassed or afraid to let myself be vulnerable. But knowing and undoing are two very different things.

I was taught that crying is shameful and gets you nothing but hurt. "Shut that crying up or I'll really give you something to cry about" was shouted at me always. I wasn't allowed to have the feelings I did without mockery and abuse. I was taught crying is *b a d* and being upset isn't allowed. But I was taught a whole lot of other shit I've let go that didn't serve the person I wanted to be, too. And it's time for this to end.

The shower is the last stranglehold on a me that too often keeps herself behind a fortress of walls and moats filled with alligators, that keeps her pain and hurt locked away behind teeth and booby traps (ok a pun sue me). But I don't want to be that person who can't be held for fear she'll cry more, who can't let anyone see that softer side for fear it will be exploited. I want to be someone whose vulnerability matches the toughness, who knows how to let the right people in and close off the rest because not everyone deserves to be there...but some do.

I don't want to be resilient because I don't allow myself to feel all the things that make it harder to keep going in the moment and push them down and bury them until I have time for them later. Maybe we put too much emphasis on resiliency without realizing sometimes resilient, strong people are the ones who have struggled the most and need people the most and are too afraid to ask because that same resilency comes from repeatedly being let down...

I don't want to be resilient. I want to be supported as much as I am supportive.

We get once to do this life thing in my personal opinion. Just the once. And I don't want to be at the end of my once with regrets on what I could and should have done to be the best version of me not by societal standards but my own. So showers are going to have to be for washing hair and maybe still for listening to podcasts and feeling refreshed but not for tears. Gonna have to reserve some shoulders for that.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Wandering Web Designer

The Crazy Mama Llama

Friday, January 8, 2021

I Did A Thing

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 5 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

It’s a mystery . . .

It was submitted by:


It's a mystery to me why I never allowed myself to paint or to draw. I contended for years that I could fuck up a stick figure and then I got into pins. Enamel pins. 

I couldn't find a particular pin I wanted--a frankenstein and Bob Belcher mashup--so I decided to try to research how to design it and get it made myself. And I did. I drew him up. I drew his wife Linda as the Bride. And I sent them in for a pin design, made some online shops, and apparently created something that a lot of people didn't know they needed until they saw it. Since then I've added a few more designs that I've drawn myself, and when I started using my cat to help me advertise, it turned into some themes and cosplays that helped me flex my drawing muscles even more. Every time we do a new character I get to draw something to add to the photo series--another character or a prop. 

And then 2020 happened. I was wholly unprepared for the mental toll that a pandemic would have on me. I started drawing more. I started doing quick fixes at home painting things that needed touch ups and trying to make the surroundings I were stuck in easier to look at. 

I cleaned some cabinets out and found an old ceramic piece of my aunt's that I had never displayed. I've spoken of her before in relation to trauma because she died when I was young. My grandparents had offered her money to lose weight so she had gastric surgery and ultimately died of a brain aneurysm puking from the side effects of the procedure. And then despite being responsible in part for her death, they did the same to me as a young adult. I took some of her things for my apartment after that...I had a morbid connection to her in death that I'd never had in life. Those things stayed with me through good times and bad for a couple decades now or nearly. I decided to paint over the old glaze and make it something I didn't hide in the cabinet like I did with all those memories. 

It was plain gray and black before

It looked amazing. To me at least. And my brain got so many good feels from painting and creating that there have been a bunch more painting projects since--a dresser, cabinet doors, my entertainment stand doors, hiders for my window a/c, a whole mini-mural on my wall, a redone lamp, fixtures in my bathroom, a drink crate turned shadow box... There have been so many the last few months keeping my mind busy when the anxiety and the cabin fever take over. 

It helps. It's not therapy but therapy? In this economy? Ha. Ok.

I had convinced myself that I wasn't or would never be as good as others when it came to this particular craft so why try. Why bother. I'm not a perfectionist, so why would I ever deny myself something that would bring me so much joy out of fear that it wouldn't be good enough? Good enough for who? I'm going to post these pics with the full understanding that this isn't probably anyone else's taste, not people who read this blog. But the mystery is solved. I don't give a shit, and I'm going to do what makes me happy instead of being hesitant to take the leap because I'm not as good as someone else. 

I sculpted and painted the horns

Dresser with skull knobs

My kid says these look like sleeping vampires (there are 3) on

Haunted saloon for my cats

Halloween figures I repainted


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

The Crazy Mama Llama

Wandering Web Designer

Friday, December 11, 2020

A New Tradition

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

fluffy ~ chestnuts ~ sparkling ~ mantle ~ jolly ~ reindeer

It was submitted by:


I'm not a traditional Christmas kind of person which, if you know me at all, probably doesn't come as much of a shock.

What will is that I'll be attending church all month for advent and if there's a Christmas service I'll probably do that too.

But first...

I live in the Deep South, and it's hot as Satan's balls 90% of the year, it seems, so roasting chestnuts in front of an open fire really ain't a thing we do down here. I don't even have a fireplace or a mantle to go with it for stockings to be hung on, and even if I did, my cats would find a way to pee in them or rip them down or hide within them such lovely gifts as hairballs or pieces of rodents, a spider leg or two.

My cats are also the reason I don't do a tree with a fluffy skirt stacked with wrapped gifts or sparkling lights or garland or fancy ornaments. I do not have the time or inclination to pick the damn thing up 27 times a day or vacuum up the needles they pull out or clean up the vomit after they eat parts of things they shouldn't eat. The longer I've been sick with chronic fatigue syndrome the less I've had any desire to drag all this stuff out only to have to put it back up when I've barely recovered from cleaning it all up every single day.

I give my kid his presents as soon as they come in because I can't keep gifts a secret, and even though we do eat with family on the eve of and the day, it's never been particularly important for me. I've never been the kind of religious person that does the whole holy day thing. I'm not religious at all, and the days that seem to have the most meaning for others never have meant those things to me. Parts of holidays are fun, and I pick and separate out which things I enjoy and which things I'd just be doing because it's what people are expected to do. I'm fine with keeping my traditions to watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Elf and Home Alone (1 and 2 and sometimes 3) and making cheese pennies for Christmas Eve. I like watching old cartoon Christmas episodes and buying candy canes in random flavors to try and before things got really extra tough this year, I loved searching for the perfect gift for someone and watching their face light up in excitement when they opened it and saw what it was. Alas, 2020 will be a year of skipping that one no matter how much I enjoy it.

Something good did happen this year though that will help and has helped ease some of the tensions and burdens of this chaotic mess, and I think I'm a better person for it.

I took my atheist ass to church.

Ok, it's not that simple. I don't know if you may have seen the church signs of the UCC in Clackamas County, Oregon that often go viral on Facebook, but I stumbled across them several months ago. Some of the best ones used scripture to discuss acceptance of the gay community. One said "our transgender siblings have heartbeats." Another talked about jesus as a refugee. This was in stark contrast to the far right evangelical christianity I had grown up around down here--the church beliefs that so many used to tell me my kind of love is a sin and hell-worthy. I'd grown up around people that used their religion as a weapon at every possible opportunity, and I had a lot of old wounds and feelings and, let's face it, trauma associated with christianity and religion as a whole. I followed the page out of curiosity over the signs figuring I'd see more I could share, and I did. But I also saw a clip of a Sunday sermon and there was Pastor Adam, jolly as he almost always is, talking about love for the LGBTQIA community with a pride flag hanging behind him. He talked seriously and openly about a Jesus who accepted everyone on the margins of society and that, in fact, that's all Jesus was about--love. I can't quote him verbatim, and I don't think I should because I could never do the words justice. You have to see it for yourself. His point though was about how wrong everyone else was who used the Bible to condemn.

I bawled.

There's no shame in admitting it. Suddenly here were these old wounds being soothed in a way I didn't know I needed and at a time in my life when I thought I'd gotten past all that. Here I was feeling so much...vindication is the right word I suppose. Or maybe not but it will do. I started out with a couple videos, and then I read his articles on the church website and then some more on the site for the Raven Foundation. And I don't mind telling you I was an absolute mess every single time. Every one of them. The kind of love and acceptance of who I am that Pastor Adam talked about is not what I got growing up, but it's what I deserved, and I see that more clearly than ever now. There was never *any* reason to withold it or to judge. Never.

Of course seeing the sermons after the fact just led to me wanting to watch them in real time which I can do because the pandemic kind of forced the church to go virtual. Every Sunday morning I see the post that says everyone is welcome--atheist, jewish, christian, gay, trans, straight, pagan...anyone and everyone gets a seat at the table--and I smile and get a little excited looking forward to taking part and (shocker!) sometimes even commenting. The first day I watched live, someone commented they are a trans witch who took communion with an Arizona tea and a piece of birthday cake, and received so much love and welcoming...and I knew I'd be okay. Everyone is welcome to take communion, too, by the way. Nothing is required to have a seat at the table and break bread together. 

The sermons themselves with their messages about love and acceptance and peace...about those on the margins being who Jesus represented, about universal healthcare and living wages and housing as a right...these are things that are important to me, deeply so, and to see them represented in arguably one of the most important and misused books in all of history in a way that was denied to me my entire lifetime has been transformative. This church and this Pastor never say the people who used religion to hurt me are not "real" Christians and never deny that this evangelical kind of christianity has unfortunately become mainstream. They call it out. Loudly and proudly and often. They shine a light on all the ways the church and Jesus and the bible are and have been used to oppress. It's real work for justice and not flippant thoughts and prayers. What this church and Pastor Adam particularly are doing to address the issues the religious right have brought to our political system are important...possibly vital. 

And it's what I needed in one of the most stressful years yet. It kept me going when I didn't know how I would. Many people can say the same. In fact, I see them say the same a lot of Sundays. 

So I guess I have a new tradition for the holidays. Perhaps the best one yet. Ok nothing can beat Elf but perhaps a close second.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

On the Border

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

The Crazy Mama Llama

Friday, December 4, 2020

Time After Time

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 6 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

It’s January 1, 2021. How do you see 2021 playing out?

It was submitted by:


Time is a construct.

I mean, sure, we age. We have sunrises and sunsets and calendar years to mark our trips around the sun, but we also arbitrarily change the time twice a year in most of the United States to fit old farming and harvest needs, so time is not really an unmalleable fixture.

We get lost in 8 hour work days and fixed holidays and 7 a.m. alarms, school bells, deadlines, punching in and punching out, and begging for any scrap of life unhindered by the clock. We live on borrowed time and someone else's time and at some point a clock or a day of the week or the marking of a brand new year starts holding far more significance as a symbol than it does as reality.

I'm not really a new year, new me person. I don't like to set myself up for absolute failure.

January 1st isn't going to magically change anything for me. My chronic illness isn't going away. I won't wake up with a new body or a brain that will suddenly be better at handling all the things my body can no longer do. I won't wake up to better behaved cats who don't pee on the stove the night before Thanksgiving leaving me to not discover it until it is much too late. Yes, yes I mean I burned cat pee on Thanksgiving. My financial situation isn't likely to change for awhile if ever. None of the things that have made my life more difficult in the day to day is going to change once I wake up on January 1st far earlier than I'd like because dogs have to be walked and the vacuuming needs doing.

Are there going to be improvements? Maybe? We elected someone who isnt trump. I mean , there's that. But, at *best* we prolong our descent into fascism until someone better at it than Trump comes along and woos enough people. Frankly, Biden is far too little too late to stop that train from rolling. He has no plans on investigating Trump. He's our modern Gerald Ford who we remember for what besides pardoning Nixon? I won't suddenly get healthcare or the ability to buy weed legally or be less afraid for myself, my genderqueer kid, or any of the friends I have in marginalized communities. We won't be able to quit saying the names of people killed by police as Biden prepares to funnel more money into policing. Kids will still be in cages. All the unbearable parts of being American will still be there and unfortunately will be even less talked about just like under Obama.

We will still be living in a pandemic. Vaccines aren't going to be widely available for some time and who knows if they'll be affordable even then. I haven't left my house for most of 2020, and I still won't be able to on January 1st and probably for much of 2021. My immune system is compromised, and no one gives a shit enough about their loved ones not to gather and spread death much less about strangers with shitty immune systems. I'm stuck here for the foreseeable future.

If I hear one more healthy person tell me I'm being too cautious when my kid has no other parent if I catch it and die, I'm going to fucking explode.

What I'm trying to say is 2021 is going to be the same as 2020 but without the stress of an election year. It'll be stress over a president who won't get anything done or can't. It will be stress over a conservative Supreme Court and career politicians that should have been drug out in the street ages ago and if not 5 years ago then definitely when they abandoned us in a pandemic to play head games with each other while we starved and died as sacrifices to the only Gods allowed in this country--capitalism and money. (And of course the minor god of internet clout). 2021 will be all the same problems I had in 2020. I'll be living in struggle and trying my best to find happiness and peace in the little things.

I am a roll with the punches kind of person, but it's good to be able to predict most of the punches as they come, so I cant pretend anything about the coming year is going to drastically change, and that's ok? Maybe? I honestly don't know. It's been a rough one, but I've made it this far so fingers crossed I can hold on for longer. It's fine to live for those little things and little moments...because I'm the only one that can get the dogs to take their meds without a fight and knows that my kid's favorite color is pink. I have to finish reading Discworld and finish painting the halloween mural in my kitchen. I have an album I pre-ordered coming, and I kinda want to see if David Lynch actually is doing a series for Netflix. I can't do those things if I'm not here...and when those projects are done there will, hopefully, be more. Hopefully there will always be more.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

A ‘lil HooHaa

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

The Crazy Mama Llama

Friday, November 13, 2020

Conversations with Death part 2

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: masked, singer, popcorn, whatchamacallit, and snow owls

They were submitted by:


Death sits in the middle of the floor surrounded by cats. He always sits on the floor. He says it fits more cats. One time, he actually patted the floor and said I CAN FIT SO MANY CATS IN THIS INFANT. It took me a minute to realize he was referencing a meme, should have said BABY not INFANT, and wasn't, in fact, talking about feeding cats to kids.

Listen, it's not the weirdest shit he's ever said since I started explaining internet culture to him. But he's trying.

Anyway, he sits in the floor and he is absolutely covered in cats and cat hair and a dog too who either loves him like they do or is thinking mightily about stealing a femur. I select an episode of The Masked Singer at his request and push play. We have coffee. We have snack packs and a couple whatchamacallits and popcorn. We're good.

He even brought a pair of snow owls shakers full of his special curry spice blend. Curry is his favorite. And curry popcorn ain't bad. Don't knock it til you try it.

"So tell me why again you wanted to watch this show?"


A giant seahorse had taken the stage doing a version of Ocean Man by Ween. I mean, odd choice for this show, but ok. Why not WAH? Wet Ass Horsey? I didn't say this out loud, however, because I had a hard enough time explaining Ben Shapiro memes. I can't handle doing that whole song with him.

He bobbed a little to the tune and dare I say hummed? a little. I mean I have never heard him as much as I thought him. That doesn't make sense but literally none of this does. Basically, his part of the conversation just appears in my head like I've heard it but he didn't actually say it out loud. So there were some vibrations that I would think are humming, but who knows.

"Are you familiar with this song then?"

The vibrations stopped. He shrugged a little.


I mean, he's right, but I literally cross my fingers hoping he won't ask about what it means because I played Sturgill Simpson's Turtles All the Way Down thinking he'd appreciate it...but instead I spent like 2 hours afterwards explaining drugs before I gave up, and I don't have that in me today.

He turns back to the tv. Commercials are on. I can't fast forward because I'm broke and have basic hulu, but these days I'm kinda glad I can't. These might be his favorite part of watching anything. Maybe they make him feel less...alone? I didn't realize the levels of absurdity we'd gone to. Capitalist fever dreams. So when I can't explain why a vampire at a therapist is a great way to sell auto insurance, I get a sense that he's kind of relieved that we are both left haunted by the inescapable Lovecraftian horrors of modern advertising.

The show continued on with Death pretty enraptured by the teddy bear, peacock, lemur, and alligator singers who graced the stage with their short performances, but there wasn't anymore humming. After the final break, the winners and losers were announced. When that lemur pulled its head off and revealed the human inside, I knew from the flame of blue that lit up the room from Death's eyes that we were going to have to have a major conversation.

I grabbed his as the words hit me.


"Uh....i think I might be rubbing off on you. You don't say that word."


"yeah tell me about. Sometimes it is."


"You know what? I'll explain, but we definitely need more coffee first."


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

On the Border

The Crazy Mama Llama

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, November 6, 2020

Conversations With Death

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 6 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

 My subject is: all or nothing. 

It was submitted by:

My only explanation is that I've been reading Discworld and Death is my favorite and my cats all did these things. 


Death, the real Death and friend of Sir Terry Pratchett, stood beside me looking out the back window at the rising sun, both of us with hot mugs of peppermint mocha coffee warming our hands in the cool winter morning. This guy. We'd been hanging out regularly when he had some down time, and it was finally time to have a talk. THE talk. 

"listen, we have to talk about the cats thing"


"Yes. Cats. Your obsession with cats"


"Listen, I've read the books. I know what you told Ipslore the Red about cats being the only thing that makes life worth living. I've read them all."


"I knew it! I knew that's why you liked to visit here."


"Always with the puns, you."


"Oh I think you do. You're, uh, eye flames or whatever flash a deeper blue when you're being coy.


"Do you know what they did yesterday?"


"That was a rhetorical....Anyway, they broke into my refrigerator and stole the good turkey!"


"The really delicious, thick turkey for sandwiches that costs me too much money..."


"Well, yes..."


"No, it's for me, duh."


"ok then how about the time they broke into the bathroom and ate toilet paper and threw it up everywhere?"


"They somehow got the door open to basically the outhouse and ate some toilet paper and threw it up all over the carpet."


"It's for...nevermind. Nevermind. What about the time one of them peed on the stove?"


"But why the stove??"


"Ok then. Ok. Ok. what about the time Seymour started throwing up while pooping in one of their 'business boxes' and ran out while still pooping all the way to the carpet to finish pooping and threw up at the same time all while making eye contact with me?!


"...he's fine. You know how he is."


"Yes, but I mean...can't you see they're little demons and not exactly the only thing that makes life worth living? They are stubborn and difficult and forces of destruction."


"Docile? These assholes? Are you kidding me?"


I take a moment to glance his way. His eyes glow a serene blue. He's not in any way being facetious even though he just exactly described my horde. And as the cats come up in ones and twos to get some ear scritches and skeletal blood and show love the best they can to our guest and then to me so I'm not left out, I suppose they are pretty rad even though they are, in fact, demons. I had been thinking he was too easily fooled by their cuteness, but maybe I was being a little too harsh in my frustration. I'd certainly gotten highly skilled at cleaning carpets and upholstery, and you never know when that might come in handy...

I sat my mug on the counter and reached down to pick up a grey ball of fluff who nuzzled my neck and gave me a polite little meow. And if he could, I swear, Death would be purring himself.


Here are the other posts for today. Please enjoy:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

A ‘lil HooHaa

The Crazy Mama Llama

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, October 16, 2020

Like Father Like Daughter

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: disguise, darkness, treats, street, thankful

If we are friends on social media, you might have already seen the bones of this post there. My birthday was on sept 26, and with my dad having been buried on my birthday, every year it's a lot. i spend too much of it reflecting on difficult things, honestly. but i wanted this written on my blog, so I adapted it for this post. thanks for reading. 

Sometimes I wonder how I turned out this way-- far left, outspoken, loudly queer, and nonreligious. I wonder how I could've grown like a dandelion in a sidewalk crack, flourishing despite the madness of everything around me, despite everything that tried to kill me, in spite of those things. How did I find my own way in bumfuck, georgia? So many people I know walked around in disguises to fit in, and I never could not when it came to being proud of who I was. How did the queerness peep its lovely head out and never stop pushing for the beauty of a life outside of the darkness? How did it find just the right bit of brokeness in the sidewalk that was my outer shell and break it wide open?

Maybe it was my dad...which is hard to admit since I hated him for so long with everything I had in me.

No exaggeration.

I've talked at length about how being a kid was for me. I've reaped the benefits of analyzing, publicly, The Things I Went Through shining a light on the abuse and the drug use and the Trauma™ and young me fighting for life and wanting to die all at the same time. It's kinda cliche but his dying left a lot for me to figure out with zero closure. I'd hold up a bit of myself to the light and wonder if these characteristics were tricks or were they treats? Somewhere along the way I realized this person, my dad, gave me so many trauma responses and complexes AND some of the things of love best about myself.

Like maybe how i exist in spite of what everyone believes about people like me.

We're country folk. Rural is a word people might use, but rural doesn't encapsulate the experience of the vastness of land and cows and coyotes and the relative absence of people. I grew up on a plot of land and a house my dad built himself with the help of friends and with some of my grandparents' money and the rest he got from selling cocaine. That land was bordered by a pair of dirt rows and a couple fields. You had to travel a few miles to get to paved road that even still really couldn't be called a street. Two cars couldn't fit without rolling on someone's yard a little. Land still yet untamed especially when darkness fell much like this man that helped shape who I would end up being and wanting to be.

I still meet people in the area--Im still in the general vicinity--who knew him and regale me with tales of him being the first person to have consistent supply of coke for these kinds of folks. He was the man to go to if you needed a fix, and it didn't matter too much what it was. If he didn't have it, he could probably get it. Look at that hairstyle and tell me they're lying.


My grandma told me stories about him hating school, about getting in trouble...about how she found a weed plant drying out in her backseat and just drove on to town to get groceries anyway, about the first time they got an antenna installed, and she had to ask the man to leave because when she went to check the shop roof by ladder, she could see the pot plants up there before she even made it to the top.

This cop hating, moonshine distilling, weed growing, coke selling, shroom loving, hairy son of a bitch raised me, and I reckon it shows. He defied standards and expectations. He broke the law when he wanted to make a buck or to have a little fun. He did everything in his power to not be his parents--country folk who pretended they weren't, perfectionist walk-the line parents, "what will people think" parents. Amazing to think someone like my dad could come from that.

I know how it must have felt all those years.

He fucking sucked at being a good father, but he did show me how to carve my own path and laugh in the face of anyone who stood in my way. I learned from him when to harden myself against a world that wanted to break me even though I had to learn on my own when it was ok to be soft. He taught me that laws aren't always just, that cops can't be trusted, the best wine comes from grapes you grew yourself, and corn whiskey ain't good unless it's made illegally at 3 a.m. on your carport while your kids pull peanuts off the plants you took as part of your payment for welding some shit on a farm. He also had a day job.

Sometimes I struggle with the memories I have of the man, but the older I get and the deader he is, the more I can separate him from the nightmares and appreciate what I did have instead of longing for what I didn't get. We buried him on my birthday in 2006. It's impossible to separate my birthday from my dad, and for the last couple years at least, that hasn't been a bad thing. Sometimes I might get to thinking I'm not so broken anymore.

Just gonna lean into it and be thankful I had someone to teach me to be my own person, always.

There's no shame in being my father's child. Not anymore. Not ever again. 


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