Monday, November 30, 2009

Adventures to Film and Photograph

My brother is going to Afghanistan. He isn't a soldier. He's the photographer, writer and filmographer for a fitness company. He is going to film soldiers working out on an airbase. It will take him days on planes and hours on bumpy dirt roads to get there.

At one point, I imagine he'll think, 
I'm glad Mom can't see me now. At another point, I imagine he'll think, I wish Dad could see me now.

I just hope his big muscles and bravery can protect him from hidden road side bombs, airplane crashes and frantically flying bullets. These thoughts are far worse when written, but I currently do not have any sugar in the pantry to coat them with so please chew them slowly and wash them down with water.

I fear Patrick's death. Why wouldn't I? He's my brother.

Monday, November 23, 2009


STRESS joined a small young family. It sat with them at dinner; laid with them in bed and slept inside the young husband's pockets during the day, awaking with every jostle to bite his leg with its short pointy teeth. The young wife tried to hide STRESS in her pockets, but her pockets were too shallow. This particular ball of STRESS only fit inside a man's deep-pocketed trousers. And because she could not pocket it, the young wife began laughing and dancing wildly to distract her husband, but eventually she would grow tired and pause and during those pauses, STRESS's screams would be heard again, its bites felt again.

One day, the young husband dreamed, he wouldn't rely on STRESS to pay the heating bill, the monthly rent and the food expenses and when that day comes, he will evict STRESS from his pockets.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Clean Sweep

I sweep the floors; mop the kitchen with a short rope mop and gather trash and recycling. At the sink, I scrub dried tomato sauce from a pot. I wash the bathroom with a sponge. I do not dust, but I remember to water the plants.

When Scott comes home, I present my productivity like a proud prattling third grader before her science fair project on photosynthesis. "Thanks."
He says, laying down his keys and handing me a floppy yellow ribbon.

Fine. Next week, I will ignore the damp unwashed towels sleeping in a pile; the trash bins of tampered tissues; the clumps of dog hair rolling like tumbleweed and the oily-fingerprinted water glasses on the nightstand.

Later, we sit side by side in the movie theater. I glance at his shoulder and think, I love that shoulder. I love those scratchy cheeks, the firm press of his fingertips on my back, that childish smile, and the way he carefully pulls on his shirt and sits to put on his shoes.

"Thanks again for cleaning. I really appreciate it."

"You're welcome." I say in a strange shyness, thankful for his gratitude.

I hate the feeling of crumbs crunching into my socks. That is the real reason why I clean, but I need the thanks like I need a broom, because half of the crumbs are his.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

apple to apple

The natural honey roasted peanut butter is soft because I leave it out on the counter. When I peel back the plastic lid, I stir the puddle of peanut oil back into the thick nut butter beneath it. I tiptoe across the creaking floor, afraid to bother the old woman who lives downstairs.

I sit on the couch watching a French film and eating three apples with peanut butter because no one is home to tell me that it is strange to do so.

Gaseous Gal

I wanted to fool around, but I farted and when I flapped the blankets, desire escaped with the rancid fumes. "Too much broccoli and chocolate cake!" I blamed. For it is always the food's fault. Never mine. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

tall green candles

My dear friend bakes me a double layered chocolate cake and wraps it in fluffy white marshmallow frosting and crunchy rainbow sprinkles. In the middle, she spreads a sweet layer of raspberry jam.

She pierces the cake with several tall green candles and lights them quietly in the kitchen. She places the cake stand in her hands and walks toward the table,
prompting everyone in the room to sing. Too distracted by the happy in my birthday to be embarrassed that I had admitted to a birthday of solitary beer drinking, I smile and do what I am told:

"Blow out the candles and make a wish!" I thank my friend for her beautiful cake. She smiles and shakes her head. "We would bake you a hundred cakes, Rachel."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


She pulls her index and middle fingers to her mouth and sticks her tongue between them. "What does this mean?" Mom asks, frightening her children into laughter.

She has seen a picture of my cousin making this gesture. A picture
not intended for her aunt to see. A picture not intended for her grandmother, her father, her mother, the creepy kid in her Biology class, an internet stalker, a level three sex offender, or a rapist to see, but a picture posted publicly online for all to see. "It means cunnilingus, Mom." I say.


November 9, 1983

Mom makes pot roast and soft white cheesecake, the Saturday before my birthday.

Monday is my birthday.

As I jog with Penny in the morning, I think about the birthdays of my childhood. I do not remember specific parties or presents, but I remember that birthday feeling of remarkably emotional fragility.

At noon, I walk into work. Nobody sings and nobody says obligatory Happy Birthdays in horrendous high pitch apologetic voices.
"Oh! It's your birthday? Happy Birthday!"
"It's your birthday? Happy Birthday."
"Yeah, thanks."
"I didn't know that! Happy Birthday."
It is always a chain reaction of blush and retreat. Therefore, I keep my birthday a secret.

After work, I pull into our dark driveway, disappointed. There are no balloons on the mailbox and no parked cars of friends. I don't need a surprise party, I tell myself. I just had a wedding for selfish's sake and before that a surprise wedding shower was thrown for me. I don't need a surprise party.

I don't want a surprise party.
A couple friends. A couple friends with a cake would be nice. No, I don't need that. It's Monday night. My friends are tired and so am I.

I don't want to see anyone anyway.

Maybe Scott got me a cupcake or something.

But Scott hasn't any baked goods for me. When I get home, he is working silently at the desk. I make his lunch for the next day and ignore the dishes in the sink.

Later I lay in bed speechlessly disappointed that my night has reflected the normalcy of my day. I haven't blown out any candles, I think regretfully.

I have to wish something, don't I?

I thought I had outgrown it, but I haven't and I don't expect I will. Forever on the evening of my birthdays, I will hope for the lights to be dimmed and for my mother to walk out of the kitchen with a birthday cake covered in brightly burning candles.

Tonight, Tuesday night, I am drinking a beer, eating two bowls of popcorn and lighting candles.

I'll make a wish when I go to bed.