I think spiders have been this year’s theme. We had our giant monster spider living on one entire half of the back deck for part of the summer, porch spiders that we watched torture like-sized bugs, and more than a few times I was called into the shower (by Eddie AND Rosie) to kill shower spiders. Yesterday I woke up at 3 a.m. to five swollen, itchy bites along my exposed thigh. If I hadn’t woke up and freaked out in the apropriate manner I would most likely have been eaten alive.

And that little bastard is still roaming around the house. Probably my bedroom. My live and let live philosophy is being tested. A. F.

Not that I have much choice in the matter. We’re talking about something the size of a quarter, at best. And we all know how well I keep track of money.

I want to vow to kill all of the little bastards mercilessly upon sight. But today in the bathroom there was a pale, unsuspecting and small specimen crawling underneath the vanity.

And I couldnt kill him. He just looked so innocent, doing his own thing.

He will probably attack again tonight. I hate being a sucker.


What *Doesn’t* Nikki Manaj Do?

"Mom, your life used to be like an inspired French movie. Now it's like an ABC sitcom." - Rosie

“Mom, your life used to be like an inspired French movie. Now it’s like an ABC sitcom.” – Rosie

We all have those things we are trying to be aware of, or do better at, or get, or accomplish.  (Or maybe we all aren’t – you big lazy slobs who are just *enjoying* your lives can get on out.  Mine is all about the misery involved in bettering myself.)

Most of my friends kick ass at work, or they teach yoga classes, or constantly correct their diet, or read parenting books, or paint, or write poetry, or take pictures.  Some of the people in my life are teenagers, so they just proclaim their misery from angsty mountaintops, as though the rest of us are responsible.  And some of the people in my life are young children, so they just cry and scream and whine with devout intensity, but without making sense.  For example, today’s mantra for nearly an hour from Ari was ‘But I wanted to close the door myself.’


The intensity was overwhelming.  He is a mighty powerful soul with limited power, and trapped in a small body.

Growing as a person comes in stages.  These babies can’t help it.  Watching what June traverses just trying to get across a room, from navigating Ari’s messes and erratic behavior to the ever-changing landscape of laundry and snacks, simply because she needs to know what is on the other side, that tells you all you need to know about how much youthful curiosity drives our behavior.  At least for a couple of years.

And now she’s learning to walk!  It’s an unstable, dangerous looking act.  She has no idea if she’ll be able to do it, every. single. time.  But she keeps trying.  She loves the feeling of those feet on the ground, of seeing everything one foot higher.  Every time she falls on her butt. She’s terrible at it.  It’s pathetic.

But for a week or so now, she tries over and over.  And we all know she will master the skill, but she doesn’t know that.  It’s just something new, and she likes the feeling of it.

I 100% get it.

Rosie and I dug through an old box of memorabilia and pictures the other night, and shit, man, I used to do all kinds of fun stuff that was a little bit scary.  I applied for jobs I wasn’t qualified for, I dodged trains on bridges.  I visited cities I didn’t know with no money or maps or contacts (and this was pre-Google Maps, kids).  I just indulged in curiosity.

There’s always new terrain, friends.  I can’t sit around this place raising kids and painting my nails and reading Martha Stewart Living trying to find new and creative recipes without getting restless.  I don’t care how much ‘but some people have it so much worse’ baloney you read about, there is no grace in deciding to do nothing with your life because you are comfortable.  Imma wobble and fall on my butt and look stupid trying to find new things to do.





Alcoholism is a Hell of a Drink


The most frustrating thing about a three hour drive with a baby and a toddler is helplessly watching your car get trashed.  I’m being real about it – I know it wasn’t in pristine condition before I pulled out of my driveway, but there was unrecognizable mashed orange paste smeared into the upholstery, and June’s white cardigan, by the time I pulled into my mom’s driveway yesterday.  What the hell did I throw back there to keep them quiet?  Beef jerky, Cheerios, snap peas, some chocolate I found at the bottom of the middle console… Several sippy cups… I still have no idea what that orange shit was.

What are we doing here?  My brother was admitted to the hospital yesterday, and not for the first time.  And it wasn’t a car accident, and it wasn’t a fall, and it wasn’t acute bronchitis.  He was so drunk, again, that we had to go find him unresponsive in his apartment, in a *very* unpleasant mess of his own making.  Well, mom had to go find him like this.  It is usually her.

This time he was suffering kidney failure, internal bleeding (and external), and his body temp was so low that the EMTs assured my folks that he would have been dead within hours, without treatment.  A few HOURS.  The length of a movie.

He’s been on fluids and vitamins and Atavan and who knows what else for about 30 hours now, and he is still practically incoherent.

I have a brother, and his name is Jordan.   This kid, this guy, he is this blend of silly and loving and philosophical that is hard to find.  He loves my kids like they are his own.  He loves his family, loves finding connections in everything, people or the world at large.  He’s a busybody, wanting to be on his feet all the time, chatting, even just cleaning house always seems to bring him a modicum of pleasure.  He always wants to be moving.  He’s also blessed; the world just wants to give him things.  People like him.

He has always been in my life.  My bleached out memories of scorching summer days are of him, the two of us running barefoot on hot pavement, scarring up our knees (his were perpetually scabbed, picked at, red and angry looking), eating blackberries behind the house, climbing trees, having leg wars on the living room carpeting.  He would let me dress him in skirts and purses because I didn’t have a sister instead, and then he would let me race Hot Wheels with him on his tracks that never held together.  Sometimes we would make our own paths out of stacks of books.

But nothing ever felt fair or even.  He cried often, and was anxious almost always.  Mom coddled him, not me, dad was harsh on him even when I was the one being rotten.  Where as I couldn’t wait to get away, to leave, he told me recently that all he remembers wanting when we were kids was for ‘someone to tell him what to do’.  I was equally surprised and NOT surprised to hear this.  It made sense.

Is my role here to step in and tell him what to do?  My family, we are a conglomeration of vastly different personalities.  It’s hard to know if I am actually very harsh  and controlling (as perhaps my mother believes) or sound of mind but too wishy-washy (as maybe my father thinks).  I know I love this person, the little punk that used to be mistaken for my twin, with our white hair.  And maybe regardless of whether or not I can get everyone on board, I will need to stand front and center and do what I think needs to be done here.

I may not know what I am capable of, but I’m acutely aware of what I am not capable of, and right now, that’s sitting around and watching my brother kill himself.  Even if I am the bad guy.


So Now It’s Almost November


And I still haven’t been on a boat.  Or made a lot of time to write.


We all know I love lists.  So what have I done since my last post??  Shall we see???

  • Made probably 14 healthy dinners
  • Made like 10 decent breakfasts
  • Hosted a stupid birthday party with 65 people inside because it rained even though there was a 30% chance that it would NOT RAIN (I did a terrible job fyi)
  • Colored my hair twice, for better or worse
  • Hosted my brother and my cousin and her daughter (with varying amounts of awesome (Kimberly, you were the highest amount of awesome)
  • Vacuumed like probably 50 times
  • Given four flea treatments (to cats)
  • Washed and folded at least 20 loads of laundry, not counting kitchen rugs
  • Consumed 5-6 bottles of wine and a bit more beer
  • Kept 5 children alive (with help)
  • Discovered Game of Thrones (Khaleeeeessssiiiiii!!!!!)
  • Yoga like AT LEAST five times
  • And tonight we carved pumpkins and I think it almost killed me
  • Wrote a blog post one time
  • Thought of concrete, real-life actions I could take to progress my life goals
  • Almost did like one of them

As you can see, I have been very busy.  And now I’m going to get some rest before I need to find more tea light candles for the pumpkins tomorrow night.



Otto and That Other Guy


I waited two days to write this down somewhere, and I’m doing it here, now, because though I may not be thinking *entirely coherently*, I’ve already waited this long to make record of a dream that was more beautiful and vivid and is most definitely going to be the basis of the novel that I will actually finish and if I wait any longer or do it anywhere else, it’s going to disappear into an abyss of dirty dishes and cat fur.

On a boat, mostly a sailboat, lived two boys.  Otto and Eric. (Camillo?)  White sun was all they knew: it bleached the wood, it warmed their skin, it dried damp linen.  The sky was blue, the water was blue, sparkling, and they knew each other.

People were told they were brothers, but the men and the women laughed at that.  “You look so different, a sunny almond and a dark raisin, you are like the day and the night.  Maybe your mother wasn’t very honest,” they would say with a wink and a gut laugh.  The boys would watch the women clutch their throats, the men’s belly’s jiggle, enjoying a joke they didn’t yet understand.

Life was bare feet, scampering around barrel-chested men pulling sails, their mother and other women with soft voices feeding them bits of vegetables and oily, delicious fishes, and of course, Anna.  Eric was in love with Anna.  But so was Otto (along with anyone else who laid eyes on her).  She was the queen of the water, dark eyes as big as the sea at night, slim wrists, a smile that was hard to find.  I think they both knew she was Eric’s.


Summer is Almost Over


I love the fall, like every other Michigander. It’s that muted, colorful, quiet space where hoodies mix with flip flops, beach days become reflective nature walks, and my house starts smelling like baking cookies and slow-roasting vegetables again. You almost forget that it’s also the begining of a swift descent into six months of freezing bull shit: shoveling, slushy sidewalks, freezing, dark mornings, and wet socks.

Fall is that sweet buffer between long and scorching summer days and seasonal depressive disorder.

The boys raided the community garden when we were at the park the other day, picking all of the ‘cherry matoes’ (in Ari’s words) that they could get from the plants growing into the fence line. We sliced and broiled them with mushrooms and feta cheese that night, though they preferred the taste of them raw, the sweet juices bursting out as the skins split between their teeth.

(I like how the thrill of something can override the unpleasantness associated with it. No way Ari really loves the taste of tomatoes, but he loves that mini explosion in his mouth.)

Before too long it will be hard to imagine food growing directly out of the ground.

But right now, I walk. Miles and miles if I can, checking out the neighbors’ houses, walking over the highway, just being out in it. I hope it’s a short winter.

Contraband Tomatoes


Coffee With Sugar and Cream


It always means my mom is visiting. She got Juniper to sleep on the couch in a pile of blankets and pillows, and stuffed animals that Ari brought to her. She walked Ari to the party store for a popsicle. She made sure current news was on the TV at top volume throughout her visit. Without her, we drink black coffee.

One of My Favorite People


Rosie Rosie

The only reason this kid let me take her picture is because I promised I would Tweet this pic to Misha Collins.  I’m not exactly sure how to do that.  #mishacollins ?  I’m doing my best here.  Her almost parallel obsession is Lin Manual Miranda, but I couldn’t get a pic of her with him on her shirt.  #isthattoocomplicated?

Isn’t she great, though?  I love this child.

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Deep Land Exploration & A Butter Dish


Ari ExploringContentedness, for me, lies in exploration.  There are new things everywhere.  It’s easy to forget, but most of us have never even seen the inside of our neighbor’s homes.  (Never mind the unexplored cities, states, countries!)  When I’m troubled, depressed, slow, whining, crying, shouting, hiding out, this is the one idea that can help.  I don’t need a plane ticket (although that would be fantastic, so feel free to send one along if you’re feeling generous!  I’ll go just about anywhere!), I just need to sneak around a neighborhood I don’t know or meet some new people.

Today I bought a crystal butter dish from one of the loveliest trans women I’ve ever met, at a garage sale in Royal Oak.  She complimented my hair, which I had been irrationally crying over just hours before.  This maybe more than anything was necessary today.  No one has ever spent more time looking fabulous than this lady, and she liked my hair.

Coincidence is annoying and time consuming to hear about, but it keeps me going, so if you’re reading this, you are just going to have to cope.

At this same garage sale I snagged a hardcover copy of Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls for $1, which wouldn’t be that amazing if it weren’t for the fact that I was already considering sneaking off from my quick errand to read The Glass Castle by the SAME AUTHOR, because it’s an absolutely amazing book (and also because it was already in my car.)

Obviously, my sneaking, time-stealing ways were meant to be.  I took two hours.  ALL TO MYSELF.  NO ONE KNOWS WHERE.  But I did read the whole time, so I didn’t get into too much trouble.

Later, after baby bath times and dishes and vacuuming, I took a good long night walk all around our area, past houses I didn’t know, along the service drive for the highway, through the dark neighborhood.  I walked until my knee was sick of my shit.  I poured over Walls’ story, the horses, the floods, the ambition unacknowledged.

I didn’t go far, but I’m going to bed with the images of new houses, the faces of new people, the echoes of new words.  I’ll sleep with a bigger world wrapped around myself.  It’s amazing the difference it makes.

That damn butter dish brought it to me.  I actually don’t love it.  I will have to keep looking.  Garage sale season ain’t quite over.


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Late Summer


This has been the summer of the spider. A giant spider (what we think is an orb weaver) has been building a web that is maybe 4×5′ every night along the side of our back deck.

After the internets reassured me that it wasn’t luring in housecats, I welcomed it into the family.

His name is Francis.

Every morning he’s gone, and every evening around dusk he’s back, moving in quick little circles around the frame of what will be the fresh, giant, web.

Last night I threw small moths at the finished thing, hoping to see some action. None of them stuck. But I couldn’t help but attempt to feed our newest family member.

He looks bigger tonight.  Obviously he’s eating plenty without my help.  Moths were too small maybe?  He’s probably used to catching bats.  Or raccoons.

Here is a pic of the boys today, discovering a very tiny spider on the porch. He had a large ant in his little web. After quite a struggle, the ant escaped. The boys were relieved. I sort of was also. This little guy is obviously not the Amazonian hunter that Francis is.

Baby spider

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