Delivered: I love sweaters but can’t stand the cold.

It’s the last day of November. Long and sort of dreadful month that it is. Trips to Disney and Swine Flu, and crushing crushes that sting my heart still. Cold, grey days. Of course, I also am almost finished with the best floppy purple hat ever. The children are well. Leo, the realist, lover of non-fiction and empirical evidence, has resolutely decided to believe in Santa Claus a little longer. He is making plans to entice Santa, to decorate the house in as grand a fashion as we ever have, to light it only with holiday lights, all lamps and compact fluorescent bulbs turned off on Christmas Eve, lest they detract from the spectacle Leo is planning in his ever-hopeful 7-year-old mind.
I must admit…I am a little over-enthusiastic about Christmas lights, or, as we call them in our household, Christmas Specials. I grew up in the woods; We never decorated our house, because “nobody would see it.” This was my parents reasoning. Well, I have to tell you, even if I lived in the middle of nowhere, I would still put up Christmas lights. I would be able to see them, even if noone else ever did.
We started hanging some of our inside Christmas Special tonight. They house immediately feels at least twice as merry as it did prior to the lights going up.


show details 5:11 PM (4 hours ago)

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(that’s me…)

——Original Message——
Subject: This Not A Self-Help Blog
Sent: Nov 28, 2009 5:48 PM

Except it sorta is. At least for tonight. I’ve shaken the mood that kept knocking around the doors of my house. Rattling the windows.

Naps help. The initial and novel joy of waking up at four o’ clock in the morning has begun to wear off. I am not so much thrilled to be up hours before dawn each and every blessed day. Even on Sundays. The world is so deadly quiet at four o’ clock on a Sunday morning. It’s stunning.
but still dreadful.
The world is quiet because everyone is ASLEEP! Early morning is awful lonely. Especially now that the cold has come. Only crazy people are up at four o’ clock in the morning, shivering on their steps. Sometimes I hear drug-addled arguments, voices bounding against paved hills – no telling how far away. And then I am glad to be lonely. And sober save for the luke-warm coffee and hand-rolled cigarette in my hands.

The cars I see driving by so early make me sad. These people are either

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Re: This Not A Self-Help Blog

show details Nov 28 (2 days ago)

…on their way to work or on their way home from a long night somewhere. Driving at four o’ clock in the morning seems an irrational thing to do.

But, we do so many irrational things. I rarely mention my ex-marriage. But, I need to acknowledge that today is my new anniversary – much more so than the day my divorce is finalized, on my 34th birthday. And certainly more than December 4th, our old (actual) anniversary. This year, December 4th will just be Friday.

My ex-husband, the father of Leo and Olive, moved into his little green house today. He went into debt, pulled all sorts of paper strings, and erected this little green house just two address numbers south of my big, old house. Today he bought the children beds for their rooms. Their clean, brand new, carpeted rooms. The house is pristine. The children sense closure. They will have the best of both worlds.

An apology and declaration made public: I’m sorry that marriage brought out the worst in us.

I bear no grudges.

I like your little green house.

Divorce is ugly. But, sometimes, marriage is uglier.

It may seem strange, irrational even, to be so grateful for ex-spousal proximity. Sometimes though the most unlikely arrangements can foster that condition which is itself almost irrational, given the burdens of human emotion: peace.

show details Nov 28 (2 days ago)

Blah, blah, blah. I Don’t (lucky for you) Want To Talk About It Anymore.

I would however like to talk about oil pastels. Best medium ever. Oil pastel and pencil. I like color, but paints are too wet, colored pencils too dry, chalk pastels are, well…too chalky. (I can’t stand the dry, powdery feeling. I also don’t like: dry, hot beach sand, excess flour in baking. I guess fine particulate freaks me out.)

I am just re-experimenting with oil pastels. Sometimes my drawings look bleak. The limitations of pencil sketches. Grey, grey, grey.
The oil pastels help me to see the space between the lines – and in color, no less.

Funny story, I was making a dark, gloomy wood at the edge of this drawing. When I used the white pastel to blend the penciled shading, I got distracted and colored too much. Now the shading was reversed. And it occured to me how much I am looking forward to snow.

Growing up on the coast of south Georgia I saw snow only once. A 1/4 inch – a mere scrim – of icy wonder. During Christmas break no less. We ran down the road in long, long lines – because our feet erased the snow, muddied it, melted it. Ruined it. My brother, Ben, and I ran until our lungs burned and by mid-morning the world was back to its usual, shadowed self – save for some dampening ice cupped in fallen leaves at the edge of the woods that led to Catfish Hole, the westernmost edge of the land I grew up on.
On rare trips to the northwest corner of the county, where cattails often grew in roadside ditches-turned-ponds, my brother and I would persuade my mother to cut some for us. We would sit in the back of the car, quietly prodding the firm, old velvet furriness of the water reed’s bloom.
By the time we got home, though, we had already begun to destroy those strangely decorative hot-dog like clusters. Yes, clusters –
A cattail is comprised of a million bajillion little fibrous threads. They might be seeds, clustered tight against the peril of such an exposed blossom. Are cattails blossoms? I need to look into this.

Seeds, or fruit, or simple botanical decoration. When torn apart, cattails release a massive, clumpy pile of fluff.

It drifts on the air like the lightest of flurries. We loved to turn cattails into snow, litter the yard with fluff, toss handfuls into the air and slap it off of the back of my neck, because unlike snow, cattail fluff is itchy.
But, it made the world seem different and that made it a favorite game.

Snow still makes me giddy.

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show details Nov 29 (2 days ago)

I think I ought to write about vision. Not vision in the conceptual sense, but actual vision. The way my eyes see. Or don’t see.
I didn’t get glasses until I was 8. Driving home from the optometrists office, bespectacled at last, I looked across the marsh.

“Oh, those are trees.” I recall saying this quietly in the backseat.
Stunned that the horizon was more than just a green-brown blur.
There is no telling how those early years of uncorrected nearsightedness affected my developing synapses. I see detail, up close, with remarkable clarity. I can’t take sight for granted, knowing the world is a blur without lenses.
On one of those harried trips to Asheville from Charleston, I forgot my spare contacts, forgot my glasses. Clawed my burning right contact lens out of my eye in the middle of the night. Then the left. Thinking I had extras. I didn’t.
My mother drove the children and me back to Charleston, me squinting the whole way. Trying to relax my eyes, my head throbbing with involuntary effort to see.
I don’t remember much from that long ride. A rest stop, a Wal-Mart truck – the blue letters just a smear, but still instantly familiar.
Wanting my mom to drive faster. The immense relief of putting on my glasses when we got back to the Lowcountry. The world suddenly sharp-edged again.

I need to go to the eye doctor. I am lackadaisical about my opthamologic care. I’ve been going to eye doctors for almost 25 years. There is no urgency. I can’t stand having my eyes dilated. A full day of burning light, vertigo. I refuse dilation whenever I am able.
My current eye doctor is the first to ever acknowledge that vision is not as simply measured as it seems.
“Why can’t you just scan my eyes and give me my prescribed correction?” I sat in the claustrophobic chair, medieval seeming with all its hinged devices that swung toward my head. My mouth minty because I am always nervous that my breath will offend.

Impatient, self-conscious.

“The way we see isn’t just about our eyes.”

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show details Nov 29 (2 days ago)

It seems to be about 4:30 in the morning. Close to five. I seem, also, to be fully awake. The years of tearful midnight mid-night calls for Mom have pared my transition from sleep to wakefulness down to a momentary wondering re: the time, a brief desire to close my eyes again is quickly over-powered by the desire for coffee.
This morning, I couldn’t find my glasses. I can barely see without them, but I moved through the house with a sureness of step, made coffee, squinting at the lines and numbers on the side of the coffee maker, then light-footed (Don’t Wake The Children!) travel from room to room, looking for my glasses in every usual place. As I looked, I wondered – what was that remarkable truth I seemed to grasp in a half-dream state?

I recall being excited, relieved. An ‘Ah-ha!” moment in the middle of the night. But, I don’t remember what notion was so brilliant.

Oh well.

Only a few cars have driven by on this quiet Sunday morning. I can hear the traffic on I-40. East and west. Busy, crazy world.

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