I am woman. Hear me love.

One more disdain filled

Sanctimonious poem

Or tirade of “apology”

And I will likely hurl

Dear women

I’m sorry I didn’t march

I understand the plight of women across the world better than you

I love America and you obviously don’t

Dear women

I’m sorry you didn’t march

You are obviously fools

Blissfully unaware of the extreme oppression you live under

Don’t worry driveling fool

I’ll march for you

I’ll take it from here

Sit at home in your bubble and rot

I’m not a master of apologies

But I know enough to know

They should probably be sincere

 

Not slung like a dirty t-shirt over a barb of condescension

Since when did we all need to apologize for what we believe anyways

I don’t believe what you believe

Great

Let’s have some coffee and talk about it

Tell me your “whys” and I’ll tell you mine

Get to know me or keep walking

 

On both sides

There seems to be little compromise or actual listening

All points boil very quickly down to

You are just too callous

Too radical or spoiled

Dumb

Inexperienced

Or privileged

To believe what I believe

I hate to break it to the world

But you can’t regulate or punish or look down on another

Simply because their life has been different than yours

I mean you can

But it makes you sort of an asshole

You can’t talk out both sides of your mouth

Say we are too divisive

That we must come together

While mocking your opponents heritage or background or how they decide to live

(Insert side eye to celebrity of choice)

For all the frothing mouthed unity we hear both sides preach

Very little is on ready display

One side basically claiming to be the home of all true womanly strength

The other straight legged and digging in to some phantom moral supremacy

Per usual

I can only surmise

The actual truth lay somewhere in the middle

Rent and breathless and probably annoyed

For my own part

I was so proud to see so many people

From so many different walks of life

Coming together for anything

They could have been marching about cookies

And I would have been proud and given them all the high fives

With so much horror going on in the world

Is it really so terrible that so many people felt so strongly about something that they came together and marched

Whether you agree with the platform

Whether or not you felt you were invited to the party

Who cares

Most of these people

I believe

Were marching to show they were proud to be women

Or be married to one

Or be raising one

On the other hand

Those of us who didn’t march

Me mostly because I’m waddle town pregnant and crowds give me anxiety

Those women who felt they couldn’t stand and be counted

Those women have just as much right to not endorse your platform

To interpret the global climate differently

To not pat you on the back and tell you how special you are

And still retain the right to be loving and wonderful Mothers

Daughters and sisters

Most of them are probably people of considerable grit

They just have the other end of the towel

While I make it a point to surround my daughter with strong women

I also don’t think a sign made to look like her lady parts

Alongside angry derogatory statements about men

Make up the best way to teach her to celebrate her strength

Considering her favorite person in life

Is her Father

Who happens to be a man

A show of strength

Doesn’t need to be insulting

I don’t condone the words of our new President in regards to women

I don’t condone the same useless irreverent language on a sign

Waving in the hands of someone claiming to be liberated and powerful

Maybe that puts me in the minority

I’m fine with that

I am not “Pro-choice”

I can’t say that I am entirely “Pro-Life”

I don’t care to wear either sticker

My reasons are varied and would probably make for an interesting read

Though not here

I don’t need a sign outside my club house

To give people a general idea of who I am

This is not me trying to be unattainable

This is me being fairly supremely convinced

That the government

Religious groups

And other entities of self-interest

Use these labels and the polarizing emotions they produce

To keep us pretty well divided and at each others throats
To keep us thinking the worst of each other
To keep us from communicating with any efficacy

To keep us

Ignoring all the insidious crap they want to pull while we aren’t looking

I believe

A surprising majority of Americans

Could come to some peaceable terms about a lot of serious issues

If it weren’t for our damned emotions

And our need to belong to a certain “side”

Whether you like vagina signs or not

There were SO many beautiful things to see at the marches

So many lovely illustrations of the human spirit

A personal favorite

Was a friend of mine

Marching while nursing her daughter

A little girl who’s mischievous smile

Reminds me so much of my own daughters toothy pirate grin

Her Mother and I bonded once over the sometimes embarrassing situation

Of having to pump while at work

And then carry said boob milk across set to the refrigerator

She and her little family

Mirror my own in so many ways

It would seem we must agree on everything

It’s probable that we don’t

But our daughters might

And who the hell even cares

If it came to my attention that she

Or her family were in need

My name would be first on the list

To bring whatever assistance my own little family could muster

We have hung out all of twice

Most of our interaction relegated to the internet

Even still

For my part

There is such a strong emotional connection

We both know what it’s like to have women to raise

We have the same idea about a lot of things

I bet we like the some of the same music

Enjoy just being with our families more than anything

These are the connections we need more of

It never occurs to me

That our bullet points might not line up perfectly

It occurs to me that she is rad

She is working hard to make the world better for her daughter

And for her daughters daughters

If we lived in the same state

There would be play dates

She marched

With her beautiful enigmatic little girl

And I support her

The bigger problem I think

Is that most of us have learned

To define our empathy by our feelings

This is hogwash

Empathy is about teaching yourself

To feel something outside your initial emotional response

Outside of what makes you comfortable

Or even what you can readily digest

This doesn’t mean I change you

Or you change me

It means I try to understand

Celebrate  our common ground and worry less about our differences

My Mother

Grandmothers

Sister and Cousins

Taught me to take tough times on the chin

Before I complain

By the same token

They also taught me

That I was wonderful and valuable

No one’s doormat

To not be easily insulted or slighted

To go forward

When it was easier to fall back

My life

Much like yours

Is a tapestry

Woven of unique experiences

We can’t preach to our sisters of our rightness

If we are unwilling to try to identfy with the reality of their lives or the choices they’ve had to make

I believe true unity

Comes with lots of uncomfortable diversity

Opposing opinions and different ideas

Thus

Making it harder to quantify

Harder to control

Harder to encompass with a sign

Or a morally superior “everything is fine” sit at home attitude

Everything is obviously not fine

The first step to getting closer to fine

Is to love someone you don’t agree with

Find the bond

Before you look for the point of contention

Or better yet

Don’t look  at all

Just love

Like a true woman of strength once said

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

I’m sorry

However inconvenient it may be

All the world

Is your family

And love

Dear women

Is nothing we have to apologize for

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Lonely People

I went ahead and got up at five

Instead of wrestling out that extra 30-40 minutes of sleep

So naturally

The cat threw up

While I was eating my breakfast

The baby
As we still call her at nearly two years of age

Has started to cry and wake in the middle of the night

Since 6 months old she has almost always slept soundly through the night

So naturally

The new baby

Still in my stomach

Keeps me twined in pillows

Wrestling my hips into a new less painful position every minute or so

Huffing and sighing my way through the watches of the night

So at five

I went ahead and got up

The startling thing is

I don’t really know how to have time to myself

I’m so out of practice

I check my emails

Write some lists

Scroll through social media

Which generally leaves me feeling disgusted and bored

I don’t care about the video you took of your shoes

But that’s another day’s writing

Sip my hot water and lemon in place of coffee

Think about stretching or cleaning up the cat barf

Our neighbor’s daughter is a school bus driver

I hear her pull up outside and park

She comes over early to have breakfast with her parents

Parents

Sometimes

Like a child

I wish I had two

Happily married

With inside jokes

Waiting for me with pancakes and love and advice

I’m the parent now

My love is sleeping

My daughter is stirring intermittently

And I am waiting

With love and frozen organic waffles and weary morning smiles

I used to be what you would call a morning person

Now I just think about how many more tasks I have to complete

Before I get to sleep again

Maybe not the best way to look at life

But it keeps me sane

I think about God

Tried to ditch Him once

You can’t really ditch Him

But like any relationship

You can do some serious estranging damage

We have been mending it for years now

Weaving some new length to the tapestry

Like Moses

He used to speak to me plainly

I don’t really know how to get it back

Or if you can “get it back”

Maybe I have something better with him now

Maybe

I’m likely overthinking it

I should have done the stretching

Tiredness creeps back over me like a warm delirious blanket

In spite of my nearly 9 hours of fitful sleep

The cat barf is barking at me

The baby stirs with more intention

I get anxious to see Baby Daddy’s face

Disheveled hair

Grey blue eyes blinking in the light

As he rounds the corner from the bedroom

To kiss me good morning

It feels like Christmas

Everytime I see him

The baby starts to babble

I better pee before I get her

“ Hi Mommy!” she”ll say

Into the darkness

Before she even sees that it’s me

I’ll try 5 again

Tomorrow

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We are the music makers…

They say life imitates art

I say art is the barometer of life

Born in the eighties
And raised by classically trained music people

I was fed a steady diet of quality music
Made by actual musicians

Simon and Garfunkel records laid alongside Mussorgsky’s
Night on Bald Mountain

Henry Mancini and Revolver

I spent hours upon hours by the stereo

Just listening

Phil Collins
Huey Lewis and the News
Peter Gabriel

Tears for Fears

And the “god of my idolatry”

Steve Winwood

Followed as I got older by

Metallica
Rage Against the Machine

Queensryche
Sound Garden
Anthrax

Slayer

A small obsession with Alice in Chains

As the landscape “progressed”

Music seemed to become more base
More homogenized
More sugary
More prone to tell you something nice
Rather than give a middle finger to “The Man”

Maybe it’s me

Maybe I’m moody

I have never been one
Who was eager to be part of the crowd
Quite the opposite in fact

As I look around the world today
It seems that crowds are all there is

People are so eager to swallow down
Whatever the powers that be tell them

No one seems to remember how to think critically
How to really challenge
How to be indifferent to the accepted norms

Our music
By and large

But not without exception
Reflects this change

Everyone’s too busy shopping for Bon Iver records at Urban Outfitters to really be pissed about anything

To be clear
I dig Bon Iver
I bought that one album
It was the soundtrack to one of the hardest Falls of my life
Fall like the season

But to my point

Give me something with teeth

Give me something that makes me uncomfortable
Give me something like Judith
Or the entire White Pony album

When I was pregnant with my first daughter
Who only quieted in my womb
To the sound of her Fathers voice
Or to Philip Anselmos

A girlfriend of mine was riding in my car
As my unedited playlist filled our ears with
Pantera
Pearl Jam
Portishead

She rumpled her brow and asked
“Why are these people so angry?”

I replied rather quickly and with stifled annoyance
“Because, they know about life.”

I’m not saying “angry” music solves the worlds problems

But I’m not saying it doesn’t

It was a seminal moment in life
The day I first heard the self titled Rage Against the Machine album

It was on tape
While I drove through the neighborhood
Windows down
Music turned up as loud as it would go

I realized
These were my people

They weren’t taking shit from anyone
The world was corrupt and unfair
They were calling bullshit

The music was good
The lyrics were better

The energy and defiance
Nearly intoxicating
Especially for a girl whose world was full of real life grown up problems

When the ending to Killing in the Name Of
Began to play
It was practically Shakespeare to me
A cyclical chant
That basically summed up my feeling toward a world that was seemingly trying to squash me

“Fuck you I won’t do what tell me. Fuck you I won’t do what tell me. Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me.”
Building like a prayer
To a final defiant shout
“Motherfucker!!!”

It had the same effect on me
As the day I heard the song Nothing Else Matters

Someone else out there knew how it felt

They knew the awkward penetrating and empowering assurance
That they just weren’t like all the other kids

I recognized this feeling
And although I was raised among the Christians
In my own struggles to believe
There were countless times
I turned that song up loud

Shouted the words “Fuck you! I won’t do what you tell me!”
To all the enemies of my soul

I like to think God was pleased

After all
Isn’t that basically what David did

A philistine was mocking the God of Israel
And the Israelites too
He was brazen
Arrogant and cruel
Convinced of his own supremacy

The champion of God
Didn’t come forward apologizing for being alive
He didn’t try to find common ground
He didn’t negotiate
He didn’t bring cupcakes

He stood in front of a literal giant
And said
In a manner of speaking

“Fuck you. I won’t do what you tell me.”

He then basically said it to all the Israelites behind him
Who were sure this brash shepherd was walking into slaughter

Instead

With a well placed rock from his sling

He brought down a seemingly impassable obstacle

Chopped off said giants head
And likely spit on his bleeding throat

He probably then went back to his tent

Busted out his harp and wrote a song titled

“Goliath”

A man after God’s own heart

A man who knew when it was time to stop negotiating

An enigma of sorts

Much like Jesus

Whom you will often see depicted with a halo of light
Wearing a placid drugged expression
Almost always carrying some sort of baby animal
Usually a lamb

But guess what

Whether you believe it’s a story
Or whether you believe it’s true

This dude

Walked into a crowd and started turning over tables

He was so angry at the politics and materialism that had invaded the temple

That he started whipping people

HE STARTED WHIPPING PEOPLE

There’s even a verse that says
When confronted with the death of a friend
He was so pissed
That he “snorted in anger”

Here’s a person who understood frustration
Who understood things not going according to plan
He understood corruption and wickedness and the gross miscarriage of justice

And it made Him really mad

My Mother brought me up
Understanding that anger and rebellion
Have their place

There’s a time to be angry

So many times in my life
Things never got better

Until I got really mad
Until I turned on the right Tori Amos song

Like the one that says

“So you can make me cum, that doesn’t make you Jesus.
These precious things, let them bleed. Let them wash away.
These precious things. Let them break, their hold on me.”

Not dainty

Not a pop ballad about buying yourself a new dress to get over a broken heart

No
It’s a “you don’t get to fucking treat me this way” sort of bitch slap
It’s the middle finger
To those who would manipulate you
It’s the realization in yourself
That you are stronger
And better
Than you ever suspected

When I would drive my Mother back and forth to chemo
There were lots of times we played Thelma Houston and the Pressure Cookers

There were lots of times we played The Preachers Wife Soundtrack

There were also some very definitive times
Where only Pantera would do

Only anger would serve

I think the time has arrived in our world
For some real anger

Not hate
We have so much of that

That it’s almost boring

I’m talking real cataclysmic type anger

Anger that leads to change
Anger that says
“Enough
I call the bluff
Fuck manifest destiny”

I’m not saying we lose the ballads
God knows
A bottle of red wine
And a night of listening to The National
Or to the late great Mr. Cohen
Saved my soul many a time

I’m saying
A little well placed “fuck you” can go a long way

And maybe it’s time
We all stopped taking shit from giants

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Fa la la la la…la la la la

It’s probably been said before

Probably by me

It’s so much harder to write about Joy

Pain is easy

It naturally bleeds

Painting it’s portrait like ocean waves

Crashing and swirling and seemingly endless

Always the same

Whether large or small

Pummeling the proud rocks

Into humble sand

But Joy

How do you speak of it

It’s like the sky

Forever spreading

Littered with diamonds

Each one part of a larger sphere

A cosmos you never knew existed

Sparkling with promise and determination

In a seemingly endless dark

I have had both pain

And Joy

Pain I thought I would drown me

Pain that left me sputtering and bewildered and beaten

Face down with burning lungs

But Joy

Joy is something else

It’s almost alien

It’s delirious presence

The surest evidence of Providence

Nothing so trivial as happiness

Nothing so petty as circumstance to wrestle it down

It lives and breathes and staggers us with it’s breadth

Attached to nothing

Anchored to no one

It can rise and soar and envelope us at even our most baleful hours

A decade or so ago

I stood by my Mothers death bed

A creaky hospice contraption that smelled of rubbing alcohol

Replacing the one I had curled up on for comfort

For so many years

Laughing and talking and laughing again

I had fought so hard against this moment

Covered my ears with practically anything

To drown out it’s sinister march

Legalism

Prayer

Preposterous happiness

Lived in it’s gloomy liquid shadow for ten years of my young life

I had rallied and rallied again

Pushed myself along with her

To swim harder

Even as the waves overtook us on every side

They finally laid us down that night

As the air seemed to run from the room

But then

In that dark moment

Joy came

As I watched her chest go still

Joy I can’t explain

Joy I could take no credit for

Rained down all around me

Like burning meteors of light

Pulsed through my heart like a healthy dose of morphine

It nearly lifted me off my feet

Looking up I could almost see it

See her

Dancing her way

Away from Death

Surrounded by the Light

That will never extinguish

A day or so ago

I peeked at our new little girl for the first time

Heard her tiny pounding heart

Peddling so much faster than mine

Stretching lazy and safe inside my womb

Already more calm than her sister

I laid on that creaky hospital bed

Watching her hide behind her hands

Then turn to look

Like she knew we were watching

I remembered the first time I saw her sister

A moment I thought would never come

The perfect spine I built with my body

My tiny ball of Joy

Practically leaping in my stomach

I remembered the first time I saw their Father

All the promises I had tried so hard to bring to fruition on my own

And then

Suddenly

There they all were

After I walked through just one final door

They were just sitting at a bar waiting for me

More Joy than I can write about

More joy

Than shines out of my little girls face when she sees pancakes

I thought about another Mother

Surrounded by livestock

And everything going wrong

Fleeing the threat of murder

Feeling like the whole world had turned their backs

Left them to exposure and derision

Tended by sheep herders

I wonder

And then feel sure

She felt it too

Joy

Shining up at her

From a feeding trough

Surrounded by excrement and hay

The beautiful thing about Joy is

We can’t control it

Can’t summon it

We can never manufacture it’s searing presence

All we can do

Is open our arms to the Universe and say

When it comes

I will see it

I will welcome it

I won’t scramble to gird myself in circumstance

Or drift back to the water of affliction

Instead I will let it

Burn all the blackness away

Blind me if it must

Relish the residue in my heart

Leave the scars to remind me

There is a Joy unspeakable

And full of Glory

Rolling like a flaming sky

Over the ebbing waves of sorrow

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Gratitude Schmaditude

Holidays can be a pain in the ass

With all the bustle
It can be easy to forget to be grateful

Pregnant and chasing a toddler and a couple cats

Striving to undergird the dreams of those I love
Whilst still pursuing my own
All the while hoping to be a less than crappy parent

Oh yeah
And bake some pies
And boil some cranberries
And show up when you’re tired
Looking like your life is easy

Gratitude can seem like a song you can’t remember the words to

I drink my morning coffee
Diluted with cream to the point of insult

Something an un-pregnant Kathryn would scoff at
Pat myself on the shoulder for letting Baby Daddy get the extra sleep this morning

I can be benevolent now and again
After all
He plays the gigs
Gets the bacon
Puts me back together when I crumble

Loves me like I’m his favorite book
One he never gets tired of reading

Sleep is something all parents covet

In the first months of your child’s infancy
Sleep is torn from your body like a limb

You remember it from time to time
Think about it
While you pace the floor with your squirmy bundle of joy

Even when baby starts to sleep through the night
You never sleep that sweet abandoned sleep again
That sleep of “I am responsible to no one but me”

As a child
I dreaded sleep
Haunted by terrible nightmares
Compounded by a somewhat
Unpredictable family life

I had no routine
No bedtime ritual
Some of my earliest memories
Are of the smell of my Mothers nightgown
The creaking of the rocking chair
As she rocked me for what must have been hours
Till I finally fell safely to sleep

Needless to say

I always picked up my baby when she cried
It didn’t spoil her
She learned when shit was bad
Mommy showed up

If she was hungry
Or she had decorated her diaper
Or she was just like “Holy hell. I’m tiny and freaked out.”

Mommy showed up

So last night
The night before Thanksgiving

I lay
Peacefully sleeping in my cozy bed
The love of my life next to me
Our two kitties purring away around our feet

When I hear my darling girl stir in her room

Motherhood gives you supersonic hearing
Your whole body
Tuned to the sound of that particular voice

No real fussing
Just a very sudden wail in her sleep

A short wail of distress
Followed by one word

“Mommy!”

When you hear you child say Mommy
Some sort of biological tractor beam activates

If I was half dead
If my legs were broken
If I had to drag myself by my teeth

I would find a way to make it to her

In mere seconds
I’m by her side

No small feat considering pregnancy
Has stolen away all my gracefulness

Her eyes are still closed as she moans a little in her sleep
I pat her gently on the back
Pull her blanket back up
Whisper
“Shhhhhh. Mommy is here. You’re alright. Sleep little girl.”

She falls right back to sleep with a contented sigh
While I slip quietly back to bed

My body is exhausted
Worn thin from the work of growing another child
But instead of passing out

I lay awake a little longer
Realizing

I’m happy to be tired
I’m happy
That she knows

Even during the watches of the night

Mommy shows up

That word means safety to her

All my exhaustion

Now seems like a wonderful privilege

I whisper prayers in my mind
Over her mind and her heart
I thank God
For all the gifts
That lay slumbering all around me

Eventually
I start to drift quietly away
Remembering the words to the song
My Mother would quietly sing in the darkness
The creaking of the chair

Relishing and replaying
My daughters voice
Saying my name in her sleep

It sounds

Just like gratitude

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Threads

It’s easy
When things go wrong
To talk to God

Easier
Then when you’re changing diapers
Or boiling spaghetti noodles
Or folding the laundry

Or doing all those things at once

It’s easy
Sometimes
To feel
Like God has abandoned you
Passed you by

Given your blessing to Jacob
Left you in prison with the baker

After you told the truth

I wonder
If He ever grows weary of my complaints
If He sighs at my flickering heart
And my short lived lion faith

Neither wonder
Nor reverence
Stop me from speaking up

They never have

I straighten my back in defiance
Toss my imaginary hair behind my shoulder
Lift my disappointed face to the ceiling
Level The Almighty with a steely gaze

Kathryn: Hey! It’s me down here. Just in case you forgot. Feeling a little like John at the moment. Not the beloved one…the baptist one.
You know, the one who got beheaded.
The cousin you left in prison to rot!
Shining moment of yours by the way.

I pause for the ceiling to answer
The fan continues to spin
No opening clouds
Or angelic landings

Instead
As I bring my disappointed face back down to earth
I get the shit startled out of me
By God
Sitting crossed legged on my sofa

A grey gabardine suit
Three pieces
A Humphrey type of hat
And a know it all smile

He uncrosses his legs
Leans forward to rest His elbows on his knees
Looks at me with sarcastic wonder

God: Hankering for deserts and locusts are we?

I roll my eyes
As big as I can without losing them to the back of my skull

Collapse back into my chair
With the annoyed sigh of a spoiled teenager

Kathryn: Well. I can certainly identify with the desert right now.
I mean, is it too much to ask to not have to freaking wrestle you?!
How come I can’t  be one of your trust fund type kids?
Or one of those people who likes to exercise and read inspirational shit on the internet and always see the glass as half fucking full?!
Or better yet…one of the kids who doesn’t give a shit about you at all?!

He nods at me
Appreciatively

Much like my Mother used to
When I was pacing the rug at the foot of her bed
Ranting about some injustice

While she smoothed her imaginary hair
And tried not to throw up again from the Chemo

I settle back down
Into the back of my chair
Cross my arms
And wag my foot
While I wait for an answer

He stares at me for a moment
Unchanging

Then he starts
Like a person waking from a dream
Clears his throat
Takes a drag off His cigarette
Blows the smoke out in a gust

God: I’m sorry. I was waiting to see if you were done My Love.

(In my mind
The voice of God
Is Benedict Cumberbatch)

Kathryn: More like I’m trying to decide if you are the one we were told about…or should I wait for someone else? Because right now…I’m thinking ole cuz got his head lopped off for no damn reason.

God: Darling.

He addresses me with infuriating patience

God: I am. The only one.

He levels me a bit this time
With a gaze that can only be described as “undoing”

I blink
Uncross my arms
Soften my face by taking a breath

God: Can you not remember? Honestly, a lesser man would question your faithfulness…

Then I’m mad again
Lean forward on my knees and practically shout at Him

Kathryn: Oh really? MY faithfulness? MY FAITHFULNESS?
You’re the one who has forgotten every promise you ever made to me! You’re the one who keeps letting the “small” things slip through your freaking fingers and land in my life like a giant mound of Jurassic Park dinosaur shit!

God: Such a colorful metaphor. You really have always had a way with words My Love.

Kathryn: So I’ve been told.

I recross my arms

God: I can see you’re a little hacked off…would you like a moment to air your grievances?

Kathryn: I would actually.

He sniffs a little
A small
Almost involuntary action that one would not expect from the Maker of Heaven and Earth

I lay into my list

* here, Dear Reader, you can insert all manner of trials and frivolous harm. Like broken cars and curtains you can’t see behind. Mornings that came too early. Nights that lasted too long, and plans that went awry. Babies that wouldn’t take their nap, and accolades that landed someplace other than where you thought they should.

He waits till I have sputtered out

God: Steep offenses indeed.

He cracks his knuckles
Tosses his first cigarette into oblivion
Lights another

Squints his eyes
A little bit like Benedict
Playing Sherlock

And answers me

God: In place of a corresponding grievance to such an impressive onslaught…I would like to ask you one question.
Outside of circumstances you didn’t approve of…or endings you wished were different… Or coffee cups that had your name spelled wrong.
Outside of me not being a fairy godmother dressed in a tutu and too much glitter…granting you a better dress than the mice sewed and a carriage made of something more than a pumpkin…have I ever failed you?
Have I ever really abandoned you?
“Let the one who questions God, also answer Him.”

Here he stops to tap the burning ash off the end of his cigarette.
Because if it didn’t kill you, and you were Mr. Eternal…why in the world wouldn’t you smoke?

I scroll through my seemingly ironclad list again…and realize in chagrin, that none of my complaints fit this criteria.

Outside of normal “fallen world” type of problems and annoyances….including the night I stood at my Mothers death bed…He has never failed me

Never abandoned me
I have never not found Joy

And to be honest, I knew this all along
I just really wanted to bitch

I sigh in defeat
Drop my head to the side a bit
Stuff my proverbial hands into my proverbial pockets
Before I can think of anything else to say
He tilts his head a bit
And addresses me with Authority bordering on Gandalf like correction

God: You’ve asked me to remember. You’ve reminded me of a few things…let me return the favor.
The last time you felt this way, you threw your hands up.
Swore to me over coffee, that I could have my way.
Resigned to live life alone. Gave up your dreams of a baby and a lifelong partner.
Decided to try to make the best of what was left of your…as you so eloquently put it…”second class existence.”
Then three days later…THREE DAYS LATER…you met him.
The him.
The one you thought couldn’t exist.
Before long, you had the family you dreamed of.
The love, not a lot of people find.
A little girl, with a smile like the sunrise.
Healthy and happy and a little too much like you.
All these things, I wove together while you doubted me.
All of these things, I brought together while you cried and made mistakes and listened to a shit ton of Portishead.
I moved mountains and grains of sand alike…while you drank too much and felt alone and smoked cigarettes on your grandmothers back porch.
Sure that I had left you.
Sure that life was only ever cruel.
That you had made one too many mistakes.
All that time, I used everything, even your errors in judgement, to bring about a goodness…A blinding goodness…you could not even have imagined on your own.
You are my child.
There is nothing more true than that.
Just like you would never abandon Athena, just like you would give your life for hers without a moments pause, so I would never give you a snake when you asked for bread.
I will never leave you or forsake you. I formed you in your mothers womb.
Crazy curly hair.
Black eyes.
Somewhat of a swearing problem.
An affinity for feeding people, and a compassion that borders on lunacy.
That’s my daughter.
I know the plans I have for her.

Here he breaks into a smile
A slight smile, that could still mow down mountains
He softens
Speaks to me
Like I talk to my daughter
After she has fallen
Or been disciplined
Or been afraid

God: Remember when you were a child? When you would cry over roadkill? When you would turn on your Henry Mancini record and dance for your grandmothers German Shepherds?
When you would plant acorns in the back yard, lay your hands on the dirt and pray for Me to make them grow tall?

Here I shuffle uncomfortably
Like any person of sense would
When they realize they have been somewhat of an ass
To someone that loves them

He speaks to me again
A Voice
Resigned

God: Lay your hand on the dirt, and pray like that again.

I look up from my shoes, into the face of my Father

God: I always…remember you.

Tears form in the corners of my eyes
For the right reason this time
I sniff
Involuntarily
See in my mind
The times My Love has been so gentle with our daughter
So understanding of her little heart
So eager to forgive

I blink the tears away

Kathryn: Okay, Dad.

I cross the distance between us
Sink into the sofa next to Him
He slips His arm around my shoulder

Like we are about to binge watch Netflix

God: You won’t believe what I have waiting for you.

I duck my head into His shoulder
Breathe in Peace
And the smell of stale tobacco and wool

“But forget all that. It is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

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Adventures with Birdie at the DMV

The DMV never goes well for me.

Today, I arrived with my expired AL license, and all my paperwork to get a snappy new TN license…also I had Birdie with me.

I wore lipstick and everything y’all.

The elderly woman at the check in counter, appraised me with a critical eye, listened to my story about why my AL license was expired by a couple months, cast not even a glance at my adorable baby, smiling happily in her stroller, and asked me how I got a TN tag with an expired license.

I replied that I didn’t get one. I drove my boyfriends car.
She raised a penciled in brow, first at me, then at my baby…”Oh you drive your boyfriends car?”

Some invisible fortress seemed to close down in her face.

She proceeded to tell me with a sigh, how the wait was really long and all she could do was put me on the list, and they would text me when an appointment became available, and then all I could do was hope that one of the counter clerks was feeling “charitable” enough to issue me a TN license.

“You’ll probably have to come back on Monday.”

She then leveled me with what I suppose she thought was a steely gaze and said, “You’re lucky you haven’t been pulled over you know. Driving with an expired license. I guess you and your “boyfriend” like to live a dangerous life?”

Her whole attitude was just dripping with disdain. I swear. She said every word to me like I had been caught drowning kittens.

I was dealing with a person who didn’t care that Prince just died.

Now.

I am, what I consider to be a patient woman.

I can abide insults. I can forgive a misunderstanding. I can let a slight roll right off my back. Mostly, I don’t give a shit.

But two things that make me want to carve a persons eyeballs out with my fingernails?
Being condescended to, and being underestimated.

Both of which I realized this overly powdered… frustrated former prison warden had done to me within just a minute of meeting me.

So.

I took a deep breath in through my nose, as my inner Julia Sugarbaker smoothed her power suit.

I leaned a little closer over the counter and said with the sweetest smile I could muster, “I have a one year old. Of course I like danger. I don’t however, like desks and time clocks and people with box color on their hair that condescend to me in front of my daughter.”

Those of you who know me well, will know I actually said this, and it’s not relayed to you here for dramatic effect.

Box color lady stiffened. Took down my phone number quickly while blinking nervously.
Birdie and I loaded back into the van and went to Whole Foods for lunch.
The entire time we were there…despite my show of strength at the counter… I was a little chagrinned.

This woman had totally judged me. She had tried to marginalize my life…my REALLY HAPPY LIFE.

She had tried to make me afraid.

Sure. I should have done a better job of adulting and gotten my new license sooner. But who was this shriveled cranky woman? To diminish me and raise her eyebrow at my life choices?

For a moment, negativity sunk in.

What if they wouldn’t issue me a license? What if prison warden lady was right? What if they charged me hundreds of dollars in late fees?

Sitting outside Whole Foods in the sunshine, having lunch with my Birdie, I decided, this woman and whoever peed in her breakfast cereal could kiss my grits.

I was going back there, and someone at the counter would like me, and all of this would get done today, and BY GOD, if cranky prison warden woman was there…she would learn the real meaning of danger.

So.

When Birdie and I rolled up to the check in desk for the second time… ready for battle, we were greeted by someone else entirely.

A lovely elderly woman with grey hair.

Who nodded and smiled at my expired license story.

“We all get busy and forget things honey.”

She laughed and promised to move me closer to the front of the line if she could. She came out from behind the desk and said “I have to get a better look at this gorgeous baby!” She squeezed Athena’s toes, and Birdie giggled and smiled.

We waited for around 45 minutes.

My daughter did not cry or squirm, or even fuss a little bit.

She laughed and waved at the people sitting across from us and read her story book contentedly.

She’s what you would call a happy baby with adoring parents.

When they called our number, the girl behind the counter took my paper work and said “This all looks great! let me take your picture get your 28 dollars and you can be on your way! Has anyone ever told you that you look just like Brittany Murphy?”
I nodded and smiled and left with my snappy new license…and my happy little girl, and a renewed conviction.

No one can make you feel crappy without your permission.

Also…don’t freaking talk down to me in front of my baby girl, unless you like dying.

For every negative naysayer…there is always someone who thinks you look just like Brittany Murphy.

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