Why do I want the impossible?

When I was a kid, about seven or eight, before things began to truly fall apart, I believed. I believed that everything would always stay the same.

I was eight when my dad died, so it must have been before that. I was eight when my mom had a fight with Geoff’s mom and they stopped speaking. I was eight when my sister’s marriage began to fall apart.

When I was little, before I knew better, I thought that people always did everything right. I trusted my family to always be together. I thought that it was only a matter of time until my dad decided to answer my letter and be part of my life. I thought that any day he would walk through the door and whisk me away. Any day, he would love me.

When I was a kid, I thought that my big sister was the best. I thought that any day, she would get out of bed and clean up her house. I thought that any day she would do something interesting.

When I was little, before I learned just how much people can go wrong, before I realized how badly people can fuck up, before I learned to bury people alive, I believed that life would all be good.

When things first began to fall apart, I thought that I could fix them. I tried. I wrote to my dad, asked him to meet me. I cleaned up my sister’s house. I thought that if I just did everything right, I could stop bad things from happening. I thought that I could save my sister, make my dad love me. I thought that I would be just the right kind of daughter to my mom, the perfect granddaughter to my Bubbie. I thought that I controlled the world.

You know, I’ve always tried to do the right thing. It’s hard trying to amend so much wrong. I’ve always lived as though by doing everything right I could somehow redeem my family’s mistakes. I’ve tried to prove to myself that even though they could not make everything turn out right, I can.  I’ve spent so much time forging an identity in opposition to my family’s negative qualities that I’ve never experienced my own bad side.

Lately, though, I want to mess up. Oh, let me tell you, this is not good. Suddenly, I find myself – inconveniently – wanting to break my rules. I want to be unaccountable, or better yet unobserved. I want to do what I want and not think twice. I want to know what that would feel like. Somehow this experience feels essential to me.

I know it’s self-destructive, not to mention impossible. I’m an adult and I have a family counting on me. I know what’s at stake – I learned when I was a kid. But I finally understand what it means to say that history repeats itself.

And one more thing: Nothing ever, ever, stays the same.

Welcome to my blog. Now go do whatever you want.


I’m glad that you’re here. I’m new to blogging, and I love seeing more and more readers here, reading the words I’ve written. I like sharing my stories and thoughts. Every new comment gives me a rush. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m doing exactly what I want to do when I want to do it.

You ought to try it too. In fact, why don’t you try it right now. Stop reading my blog. Close your laptop. Put your phone away. And go do something that you really want to do.

Close your eyes for a moment and think it over. What do you really want to be doing right now? Maybe its something that you think you can’t do, shouldn’t do. Maybe what you think you want to do is really something that you’re doing to please someone else. Maybe you think what you want to do is a waste of time or money, or maybe you think you can’t because you might fail. Maybe what you want to do might hurt someone else.

You may have valid reasons for not doing what you want to do right now.

Now, stop thinking about those reasons. Try to limit your thinking as much as you possibly can. Just go do what you want. Try it. It feels amazing, I promise.

Then come back and tell me about it, please.


An update on Nate


So many people have asked me how Nate is managing, so I wanted to let everyone know that he is healing. it’s going to be several weeks before he can go without his bandage, but the doctors have assured me that his hand will heal normally. Right now it doesn’t sound like he will need any skin grafts.

He’s mostly back to his usual self, which means that he is up to trouble and we have to constantly chase him around as he runs away, now with his bandaged arm in the air.

I feel very lucky.


On guilt and motherhood in an ambulance

Before tragedy struck

I want to preface this post with a bold statement: I rarely, if ever, have felt guilty as a mom. In fact, I hardly ever experience guilt. I have recently wondered if that makes me a sociopath. Hopefully not. But as a mom, I try to give my kids all that I have to give — at least I did until recently. I have always tried not to leave myself any room to feel guilty.

This weekend, while we were camping with the kids, Nate, our youngest, fell into the campfire. He burned his hand badly, and I spent most of the night in two ERs getting him treatment. It was a complete accident. Geoff was starting the fire while the kids played in their fort on the other side of our campsite. Midway through setting up the fire, Nate wandered over to Geoff, who was sawing apart a log. Geoff warned Nate to stay back, and Nate turned and started walking away, looking at Geoff over his shoulder. He took a few steps and tripped directly into the fire, which, thank God, was low, tiny. Geoff saw what happened and immediately pulled him out, but the damage was instantaneous. We all jumped into the car and headed to the nearest hospital.

Where was I while this happened? I was reading a book. In my chair. Watching from afar. I’m embarrassed to admit it. I think of my best friends, the ones who are moms, and I know that each one of them would have been following behind their babies wherever they went around the campsite. There was an open fire and I was reading a book. It’s unforgivable.

The attending doctor at the first ER was concerned that Nate should receive care from a pediatric burn unit. He told me that Nate would need to be put under while his wounded hand was cleaned and the damage accessed. So we transferred to another hospital, closer to home, now at 9 p.m.

Nate fell asleep in the ambulance. It was heartbreaking to see his car seat belted into a stretcher. He looked so tiny and helpless. When the EMT covered him with a white hospital blanket, I couldn’t stop myself from crying. What if the fire had been bigger? What if Geoff hadn’t pulled him out so quickly? All the impossibilities came flooding in at once. If the EMT, sitting across from me in the ambulance, noticed me crying, she didn’t say. How could she have known how much I hate white hospital blankets, how they will always only be shrouds to me ever since my mom died? How could she have known that covering my baby with one to keep him warm in the air-conditioning would put me back in that room with my mom who died so suddenly that I couldn’t even make it to the hospital in time to say goodbye? She couldn’t. She meant well, and truthfully, it all turned out fine.

We made it to the second hospital, and a team of burn doctors assured me that Nate’s hand will heal without surgery. They bandaged his hand, sent us home, and all is well today. He’s learning to be a lefty without much complaint. But I still can’t shake this too-close-for-comfort feeling of near-miss, and I can’t let go of the blame. Maybe I shouldn’t.

elleroy was here


Notes on my one-year old

This morning, he was lying facedown on my bed, his adorable little face lying on the blanket, so I joined him. I put my face right up against his on the blanket, nose to nose. He laughed. We stayed like that for a moment, smiling at each other. Then he jumped up and climbed onto my back, wrapping his arms and legs around me like a baby monkey. He laughed and said, “Mommy!” Then we laid like that for awhile.

I love him like crazy at this age. He’s so open, so full of himself. He has little fear and heaps of curiosity. He doesn’t hold himself back. If only he could permanently remain in the here and now and not reach two, a thief waiting to steal all of his fun.

The little mischief maker:


It’s my birthday

I’m 36 today. I will miss being 35, because even though this has been a hard year, it’s been a good one. I’ve learned a lot about myself this year. I’ve made new friends and reconnected with old ones. I’ve started writing again, in a way that truly excites me. I’ve learned to be honest with myself about what I want and what I need. I’ve learned that I can trust myself but that I should also trust those closest to me. Sometimes others can see you the most clearly. I’ve begun to ask for help when I need it, and to occasionally seek approval or criticism from others. I like how that gives me a three-dimensional view of myself and forces me to resolve disparity between what I am and what I think I am.

This has been a hard year. If you’ve stuck by me, and if you know me in reality then you most certainly have, thank you. You reading my words is the most meaningful birthday gift I could receive.

I have a lot of ideas

As part of Yeah Write’s 31 Days to a Better Blog series this month, I did a little free writing this week. I learned that I have a ton of ideas. Ideas are literally pouring out of my mind faster than I can remember to write them down. I filled a page of my journal in about ten minutes, and that’s just the beginning.

Here are the ten that I like the best, in no particular order:

1. Why we all should practice Opposite Day — let’s let our kids be in charge for one day of each week and see what happens.

2. Being a mom of three is a lot like living in a video game, trying to get everyone to the finish line at once without getting too distracted along the way.

3. Grandmothers are secret sources of strength for us women, and we usually align ourselves with them unconsciously.

4. How a friend’s death can dramatically affect your life.

5. The most romantic dinner I’ve ever had.

6. How I won over a boss who hated me (I think).

7. Why I tried to dump a friend and how I got her back.

8. I was once in a mom’s group with a bunch of gun-toters, and how I’m not always what I seem.

9. Why Chinese restaurants remind me that my Bubbie hated me.

10. All about my experiences with reiki massage, and where does that energy come from?

So, what would you most like to read about?


I was crazy when I wrote this


Earlier this year, I had a weird experience. And I went (a little) crazy. I was diagnosed with hypomania, which on the spectrum of mental illnesses, is really not awful. It’s main symptoms are increased energy, motivation, and creativity. It’s almost funny, except that it’s not. I am terrified of mental illness, even the good kind.

Luckily, my husband, Geoff, noticed the changes in me almost immediately — most notably sleeping only three hours a night — and he insisted that I see a doctor. I did, and hopefully my hypomania will never develop into full-blown mania or bipolar disorder.

Going crazy, for me, felt like someone had laid a subway map over my mind. All of a sudden, I could see a ton of different connections without even trying. It was both cool and disconcerting. I started to make notes of things all the time. For a short time, I made the notes on Post-Its, until Geoff commented on how crazy that seemed. Then I bought a notebook. In my notebook, I made a list of advice for myself, which at the time felt somehow essential. I felt that if I did not write these things down, I might actually forget them. Looking back at this list, it seems obvious yet a little strange to me. What do you think?

1. Start out small.

2. Get a nickname. Get many names; use them all, but only be you.

3. Read.

4. Know yourself. Learn to trust when you are right.

5. First, become whole. Accept yourself. Then divide and piece yourself back together.

6. Do what you need to do.

7. Try.

8. Answer your own questions.

9. Never be afraid to be wrong. If you are wrong, admit it.

10. Don’t close your mind.

11. Love.

12. Forgive yourself for what you regret. Redeem yourself by doing the opposite.

There you go. I can’t say whether I recommend taking my advice or laughing about it. I was crazy when I wrote it, after all.

I’m building a better blog this month over at Yeah Write. Come check it out!

Thoughts on Father’s Day

There’s this guy I know. He’s a single dad. Until recently I tried not to pay much attention to him because he’s hot. But it’s hard because it’s so obvious what a great dad he is.

His daughter shares a teacher with mine. The girls are not friends, but that’s another story. She struggles, that’s clear. She wants more attention, special attention, from her mom.

Her dad is crazy about her, though. He carries her cowgirl boots when she gets a blister. He drags her bike on foot all the way to school so she can ride home. He remembers all the little things for her, he braids her hair. He dresses up in crazy costumes for the Halloween parade. He’s so happy to see her when she runs out of school that his face lights up.

She knows he loves her. But it’s not enough, and she always seems needy. She bosses the other girls and she begs for special treatment from the other moms. Maybe that’s because she only sees her dad for half the week. Maybe it’s that her own mom is distracted, too busy to give her undivided attention.

And I’m struck by this: Why do we sometimes squander the love that we have in our search for the love that we don’t?

But that dad is an inspiration.

One-thing Thursday

I did something new yesterday. Well, not really new; I used to do it all the time before a few months ago.

Yesterday, I did only one thing at a time. I didn’t multitask. While I did something, I tried to focus my mind on what I was doing. I did not stop to check my email. I did not go on Twitter. I did not grab my phone mid-sentence to Google something. I stopped at the grocery store, played with my boys, visited my friends. We had lunch together. I drove home, listening to the radio, and had a nice conversation with my 5-year old. I thought about why I’m blogging, what blogging is adding to my life. I thought about what blogging is taking away from my life.

All that time, I did not write any posts. During my baby’s nap, I exercised and read a book. In the late afternoon, I dropped the boys at my neighbor’s and spent girl time with my daughter. We talked about our upcoming trip and we laughed together at her 7-year-old humor. We bought fabric together for me to sew her some things.

Still, I did not check my email or text anyone. I focused on the present moment. And you know what? I felt clearer than I have in several weeks. I know that there are several projects that I want to complete over the next couple of months, and it’s going to take more of these kind of days for me to be able to do that. I love blogging, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I just need to do one thing at a time.

I think this is going to be my new thing: One-thing Thursday. Will you join me?