Monday, April 28, 2014



They are just like Tuesdays, or Thursdays, or any day for that matter. No one is making me get up and report to a desk, so there is no real built-in characteristic of the day.


It is overcast, and 18 people died last night in the storms that are headed our way today. I won't miss this, the violent weather that has everyone on edge multiple times a year. The atmosphere is flat calm right now, not a breath of wind, but we all know that cumulonimbus clouds are making their way east.

It's a metaphor. Elmore Leonard says to never start a story with the weather. I waited until the 4th paragraph.

Trying to  be motivated, but all I want to do today is climb into the bathtub, drag a mattress over top of me, and wake up around mid-day tomorrow.


Image by chascar via Flickr

Friday, April 25, 2014

It's Fuckin' Friday, Y'all

Imagine that read in Paula Deen's awful nasal-y whine.

That is how I feel today. Trapped in Paula Deen's whiney nasal cavity.

It's a temporary place. I came home from yoga, pissy as hell. Trying not to kick the dog, yell at the kid, or otherwise spread my nasty smear of a mood around.

I think this mood is a culmination of numerous things:

*Dealing with the jackass of a hauler who damaged La Petite Maison (and will probably attempt to get out of paying for what he damaged, even though it is more than reasonable and requires us to go back and do work we already did. Finish work, no less, the stuff that requires attention and time)

*Getting quotes for temporary, furnished housing in Baltimore that come in around THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS A MONTH for a shitty one bedroom apartment

*Previously mentioned unmentionable things that have been ameliorated somewhat in the writing of them but are still causing enough of a stir in my brain to be annoying, like an itch I cannot scratch (and shouldn't even be thinking of scratching. But I digress)

*Car is in the shop for a stupid repair that will cost lots of money, even though it's under warranty.

*The sheer number of things that need to happen in the next three months.

*And the fucking plumbing is jacked up AGAIN.

So. I may go back to bed. Wake up early and start all over again. Except the plumber is coming, and I need to go pick up my car when it's done. And Sicily has batting.

I would like to try to make connections or have some profound insight, but today is just for bitching. Not re-framing, not thinking positive, not looking on the bright side: simple, straight up airing of grievances.  Join me, won't you?

Stupid day.

(Image Theresa Thompson via Flickr)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Just Try

Today on my yoga mat, struggling through an ashtanga class that does all 108 poses in an hour and fifteen minutes, a shaky voice in my head said, "I can't."

Answering back, a tiny little voice, muted but stronger said, "Just try."

So I did.

(Image by Paul Harris via Flickr)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Worky-work, Busy Bee

(Image by William Warby via Flickr)

Sometimes, the best thing to do is just put your head down and work.

I come from a family with a strong work ethic, but I wouldn’t consider myself a worker bee. I don’t just pound something out. I don’t have that push. I worked 90+ hour weeks for the three years my school was operational, and at least 70+ hours when I taught public school the eleven years prior, but I am not a grinder. I like to think about the direction I am going in for weeks before I get things done. It works for me. It may seem last-minute, but I actually perform best under a deadline.


Things are complex lately. I have thoughts I perhaps shouldn’t be having about people I should definitely not be having them about, and the best thing  to do is leave it alone. Walk away.


If you know me, you know that, as controlled as I am, I suffer from poor impulse control as a general rule. And things are bubbling up for me that have been dormant for awhile. Which decreases my ability to make good decisions. When this happens, the best that can be hoped for is no collateral damage.

This post is vague. I know. More than usual. Trying to process what shouldn’t be said by not saying it when I absolutely need to say it out loud is difficult. I could talk to Dane, but he has no comment (ha. Gallows humor. The fact that I still have his ashes has started to tickle me of late, which may be a direct result of some of this other stuff). He might find watching me struggle with this amusing, and if it were him, he might actually go for it. Dane's impulse control = worse than mine.

So. I am working. Writing. Cleaning. Looking for more freelance jobs. Putting myself under pressure. Going to yoga six, sometimes seven times a week (which is part of the problem and also the solution. Yoga is stirring and releasing some things that have been hidden and closed for awhile. Damn you, and hallelujah at the same time. But I digress.).

Worky-work, busy bee. That’s me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tell The World...

The die is cast. It is official. We are moving to Baltimore in the fall.

As with all things this year, we are a little sketchy on the details. It may be August 1. It may be September 1. It will certainly be before school starts, at least for Sicily; she has been accepted to Baltimore City College, and I think that starts the week before Labor Day.

Stay tuned for hilarious reports of what it is like to get a 9th grader up at the crack of 6:00 a.m. for school, an experience she has not had except for softball tournaments for four years. Should be fun.

We have no idea where we will be living. In the city. We may have some lag time between moving and actually having a place to sleep, so Baltimore peeps, heads up. We (the kid, two dogs, the cat, and me) may show up on your doorstep, hat in hand. I hope you have a big couch.

I. Can’t. Wait.

This is years overdue. There are people we love here, but the south is not my home and never has been. Sucks that two people I love died here, but at least the one is portable. And he loved Baltimore. So there’s that.

The tiny house is in search of a home, but we have a line on a couple parking spots.

The horse is staying here; the cold is too much for her old bones. That was the hardest line to write in this whole blog.

I would leave tomorrow if I could. We have loose ends to wrap up, though, and some more softball to play.

I’m coming home.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Apathy Parade

(Image by Michael via Flickr)

If you were anywhere near me in my early 20s, you will recognize what I am about to write about.

There is a large part of me that just couldn't give a rat's ass. About anything. It's not disdain for anything; it's just an utter lack of caring, one way or the other. It's my emo side, I guess. It's not depression. We have broken bread, depression and I, and this is a different kind of supper.

This part has been dormant for a long time, mostly because A) when you have a kid you aren't allowed to not give a rat's ass, and B) Dane was a handful. Now that Dane is gone and my child curses like a sailor, I can feel the sap rising. This is not necessarily a good thing.

This is the type of sap that causes me to drink more than is prudent and make friends with strangers. This sap is fun for awhile, but there usually has to be a sort of a ground up reconstruction at the end of it.

FUN that is irresponsible. Roadtrips. Rolling Rock and Johnny Walker Black (before I switched to bourbon). Loud music. Late, late nights filled with conversation and, well, let's be honest, other stuff.

I get so sick of being mature and responsible. I get so close to the edge of flight. Taking off. Anyone want to join me on the ledge?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

No One Here Gets Out Alive

(Image by Tim Parkinson via Flickr)

I woke up this morning thinking about suicide. Physician-assisted suicide, to be precise. I read this week that Maryland is close to passing a physician-assisted suicide law, which I am all for.

I know it is weird to write about, especially after this whole week of rah-rah, you can do it, self help-y blogs, but here in the House of Pain, things move pretty quickly. Grief is bi-polar.

I was with my father when he died. He looked like he was in pain in his last moments, struggling, literally holding on, clutching his fists by his chin, and then he let go and was utterly gone. Like his body was a shell. It was a simultaneous thing; last breath, empty shell.

I wonder a lot about death. Always have. I’d like to say I have some kind of belief system about it, but I don’t. Best case scenario, your loved one is hovering around you, and every now and then they come in dreams and talk to you, which is sweet but also filled with sorrow for me. Dane does that, and he apparently pops up in other people’s dreams, too. I don’t believe in heaven because I don’t subscribe to any organized religious belief, and the practical side of me knows that dead people are still out there in the form of energy, which I also happen to like very much. Just as we are drinking dinosaur pee, we are inhaling the energy of dead people, or feeling their warmth on our face.

Nobody talks about death much. Best to be practical in most cases. I think a lot about dying alone, and don’t we all die alone, even surrounded by loved ones, but I think about it in terms of being alone, with no one. Dane was supposed to be holding my hand. I don’t want to leave my shell empty in an empty room. Is that selfish? If that happens, I’d rather do it like a cat does it, creep off into the woods when I feel unwell and just disappear. That tends to prompt investigations and search parties and worry, though.

So there we have it. Musings on a Friday morning. Waking up, thinking about death. Looking over at Dane’s ashes as the puppy nuzzles his warm nose under my hand. Birds chirping outside. The world is filled with strange juxtaposition.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Right On Time

I swear, it’s like one of my yoga teachers creeps into my head and heart and finds exactly what I need.

I can be a moody person, sure, but in the space of an hour during class on Wednesday, I was laughing and crying, super quiet and wide awake. Starting with the beginning of class when we were sitting and breathing, focusing and getting ready for class, and she said, “The answers to your prayers are already unfolding.”

I don’t pray. But I fervently wish and hope. I think a lot, too much, probably. So when she says prayers, I think of my deepest wishes that I share only in silence with the universe. Sometimes wishes I had  a long time ago and just gave up on, either by accident or on purpose. Wishes that are really the core of who I am. For some reason, I really needed to hear that. I needed to hear that things were progressing and unfolding already.

I needed to hear that life is what is happening RIGHT NOW. We are not preparing for it or waiting for it or cleaning up for it or studying for it or otherwise looking forward to it.

Life is right now.

In the dinner you make, the floor you sweep, and the job you go to. This is it. Maybe there are events to look forward to, but as Buddha says, “The trouble is, you think you have time.”

So life is RIGHT NOW. And it’s right on time.
(Image by Nick via Flickr)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

On Wealth

When you post stuff on the interwebs, you open yourself up to morons. On Facebook in a post that showed how Sicily had finished building her house (a share of someone else's post), aforementioned moron called Sicily and the whole project "classist."

I could work myself into a lather if that wasn't so ridiculous.

Best not to feed the trolls, but I responded. Told her we are closer to the bottom of the ladder than the top, by many, many rungs. Told her that Sicily, at 13, has two jobs that she worked to earn money to put into the house. Mentioned the many donations of supplies and time, the salvaged materials, the repurposed goods, the fundraiser that she designed and ran to get the project off the ground. Told her to pick a kid, any kid, and with determination to do so, I could teach them to finish their own house in under a year (and I can. Try me. If you are serious, feel free to contact me. First we'll talk geography, then we'll plan. But I digress).


The troll was right.

We are classist. We are rich beyond measure. We have friends and family and a community of humans online who don't know us IRL that support what we do. Sicily has a mother and softball coaches and other older adults who have taught her and shown her in many different ways the value of persistence. She has people in her life who say "yes," and "I can," or ask for help when they truly can't.

That is wealth. Not the number of zeroes in your paycheck or how much recognition you get.

I believe on a cellular level that money doesn't matter. Having it is good, not having to worry about it is better, but it is not the business. What kind of person you are, what kind of people you have around you: this is the measure of wealth.

How wealthy are you?

(Image by Richard Elzey via Flickr)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Coming Home

Yoga today was like coming home.

So weird.

Yesterday's class was yin yoga. It's hard, don't get me wrong, but it's more passive, and a perfect way to re-enter a practice after taking time off.

Today's class was intermediate yoga. I would call myself a beginner. Not a rank beginner, but a beginner nonetheless. So I was nervous.


Full contact, competitive yoga, me against myself. I WON.

I am a BADASS.


I felt strong. I felt flexible. I felt trust.

It was like realizing the comfort of a place that you didn't know was comfortable, only this time I carry it around with me, wrapped around my bones, tangled up in DNA. There are very few times I feel totally relaxed in my physical self; usually I am faking it, or I am readjusting myself when no one is looking.

Today on the mat I felt power. I did push ups. Correctly. Lots and lots of them (only in yoga they are called Chaturanga Dandasana which is Hindi for "You've got to be fucking kidding me.").

I twisted myself around in this, and I almost looked exactly like this.

I lost track of time. And that never happens.

Glad to be back home.

(Image by dynamosquito via Flickr)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Let It Go. LET IT GO.

With the push to finish the tiny house and the sheer exhaustion that came after finishing the tiny house, I had not been to yoga for two weeks until yesterday's class. The focus of that class was the concept of letting go.

This has suddenly popped up everywhere. Every now and then La and I will get that song stuck in our head and sing it all day. The lunar eclipse has something to do with letting go. My Tumblr feed is filled with references to acceptance and letting things go.

I get it, Universe.

Usually when a message is coming this hard from all directions it's important to listen. I am not sure what I am letting go of. Maybe it's impatience or anger. Most likely. I am still quick to anger with myself and with La. As much as I try to accept others, that is not often extended to myself.

Sounds so self-helpy. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

It's the truth. So maybe the truth makes me vomit when it is applied to me. "Truth hurts." And other side effects include nausea and dizziness.

Letting go. Being okay with the unsteadiness and losing the edge.

(maybe not losing the edge. I don't want to be soft. The edge makes me feel alive. But maybe allowing myself a little leeway sometimes.)

Letting go. Trying. But as Terry Pratchett says, too: "There are times in life when people must know when to not let go, too. Balloons are designed to teach small children this."

(image by Les Chatfield via Flickr)

On the other hand, this wisdom from Fridtjof Nansen: "I demolish my bridges behind me...then there is no choice but to move forward."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Who Knows Where The Road Leads?

I don't want to be Sicily's momager.

I can't remember who (chime in if it was you) who just last weekend asked me if I was going to go all Kardashian with tiny house publicity. I shudder at the thought.


What is the tiny house and all the publicity for? Truly, the achievement of the house is its own reward. Should we push for more? Already La has been asked to design and build houses for other people (some serious, some in jest). She has many interviews under her belt, some TV, and a recent newspaper article. People want her to run workshops to teach other kids how to build. They are interested in what she has done.

On a side note, there is a serious educational philosophy behind this house, so if anyone is interested in that, the driving force behind how this house actually came to fruition, do contact me.

A momager would force the issue and say yes to everything. A momager would relentlessly promote and pursue to the exclusion of all else.

I am not sure that's what Sicily wants. I am not sure that's not what Sicily wants.

It is hard to determine how far is too far. Can we tell the story without exploiting the story? On Wednesday it will be 14 months since Dane died. The building of the house is part of Dane, but it also represents persistence and moving forward. How many times can she say she misses her dad in a different format?

So I guess the question is: what's the next step?

Stuart Orford via Flickr

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Too Much Time on My Hands

This past weekend at the tiny house conference we talked a lot about alternative lifestyles.

Let's face it: when you step off the wheel and start to live in anything less than 500 square feet, you have already made a choice to live out of the mainstream.

Add to that the fact that many people at the conference were freelance something-or-others or were running their own tiny house business or something else non-9-to-5 and you have the perfect storm of the burning question:

"What do you do with all of your free time?" followed  by sad looks for the level of deprivation we must all be feeling due to our perceived limited income. After all, lots of us are self-employed, which is just fancy talk for "siphoning cash off the government," right?

So funny.

Yes, LPM took quite a bit of time.

Yes, some time is now free, even though there are still tweaks to make to the house.

But check this out: I actually get to choose how I would like to spend my time. And that is a gift.

Yes, I have to make some money, so I write for a couple lovely websites on holistic remedies, and I just got another freelance gig writing for a lifestyle website (which is pretty funny to me, but hey. Good writing is good writing.). I may compile the experiences of 2013 into a book with pix from the build. I wrote a non-fiction book a couple years ago. Maybe I will put that together.

I will certainly change out some faucets in the big house. Fix the fence. Mow the lawn (you're welcome, neighbors). And I will go to yoga every morning. And make
this. And this. And, oh, hell, yes, THIS.

I foresee a few road trips.

So too much time on our hands is a good thing. There's plenty to do.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hey. You.

Yes, you.

New person reading this blog. I know it's you because I met  a lot of yous this weekend at the tiny house conference, and I am pretty sure some of you are here now, checking this out.


Maybe start here with the beginning, then move on to a life-changing milkshake, and finish with a little advice (that last one is the most popular one I have written so far). Feel free to share whatever you like, wherever you like (give me a little credit if you do #kthanx), and leave a note to say you wuz here. If you put your email address in the little box up there on the side, every time I write something profound (well, or about twice a week, whichever comes first) you will get a little email.

Thanks. And welcome. Hopefully you will love this just as much as La Petite loves my hugs:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tiny House Tragedy

The only thing preventing me from drinking my weight in Angel's Envy tonight is a 4 1/2 hour drive tomorrow, followed by some shiny happy people infusion on Saturday and Sunday in the form of the tiny house conference.

You know, that thing that has propelled Sicily and I forward on the tiny house for the last eight months? The thing that has literally made me get out of bed every morning when all I want to do is just sink in? That conference.

The hauler damaged La Petite Maison. Neither Sicily nor I trusted him when we met him yesterday, but we didn't say anything. The capper was when he said the house was pretty good, "for girls."

So we are still going. Magical things will still happen. We will still meet the beer-drinking buddy who directed me to the job that allowed me to finally call myself a writer. We will see a beautiful new baby and a big grey dog. We will break bread with an old friend who has been an unflagging supporter of Sicily's dream, the same guy who sent his dad to teach us about electricity and changing brake pads.

But no house.

When I tell you it is beautiful, I am not just whistling Dixie. Last minute help from Steven at Classic Bars, Dane's old job that he loved so much, helped us really pull the room together (it's not only a rug that can do that; in this case it was an African mahogany countertop ). And three or four 12-hour days helped us finish the rest.

But the conference will have to make do with pictures. And La Petite Maison, stuck at home, has had some dings, is missing a wheel, and is not in her appointed place. The guy who damaged her was more concerned with whether or not he would be able to get his truck out of the yard (I could have got it out of the yard in half the space he took) than if she was stable and safe back where she was. He dropped her on an incline and only moved her when I said something.

People won't believe it unless they can walk around in it. Sicily is pretending that it's okay, but I know it's not. I will know it later when I stumble into the bathroom for a drink in the middle of the night, and her light is still on, and she is restless and insomniac.

Devastated. Drinking more bourbon tonight than I should.