12
August 14, 2012 | Friday 1, HeatherEO, Memoir, Nonfiction

breathe in, breathe out, then don’t

{by the grumbles of grumbles and grunts}

Our first dog, Nico, died on Saturday. Really I should say we put Nico down on Saturday because what I wouldn’t give to have just found him dead of his own accord in our house as opposed to the visceral reality of an assisted death for a very sick friend. It would have made things a lot easier. But, as with his whole life, nothing with Nico was ever easy.

Pets are a cruel joke that we play on ourselves. We go into the game knowing as a cold hard fact that we will outlive them. We’re destined to fall in love, share the ins and outs of daily life, and then watch as our friends die. Still we do it, and I don’t know why, maybe because we’re in denial. In the early years this harsh reality seems so far away, something we don’t have to deal with yet, an eventuality that we don’t want to think about until it’s right there staring us in the face. Not that it’s not worth it in many ways, but after a weekend like that I find myself wondering if it really is. Because Nico was sick for so long it’s hard for me to even remember happy Nico and I think that breaks my heart more than anything. I should be sadder. This should have been harder. But he was in so much pain and I just wanted it to go away, for him, for me.

I’ve never seen anything die, not like that, let alone something I loved so dearly. There’s a stillness to a body, to a corpse, when it ceases to take breath and the blood doesn’t flow, when the chest you’ve used as a pillow so many times isn’t moving, that I couldn’t take. It cut my heart in two and I had to go, I couldn’t bear to look at it any longer, the hollow shell that used to be my dog. Every second that ticked by past his last breath and my gasping tears was one more where I could feel it building in me, a primal response that I couldn’t control, RUN, THIS ISN’T RIGHT. GET AWAY. But I didn’t want to go and leave him there alone. But he wasn’t there anymore, it was just Jon and I and a jar of snickers labeled ‘human treats’ and a poorly placed ad for a pet photographer and it was time to leave.

We went to noodles and company afterwards, because what the hell else do you do? I don’t know. Eat noodles. Sit. Wonder if the crowd around you can smell death on your clothes and in your hair and the acrid chemical smell that lingers in your nose. Is it really there, following you? Or is it only lingering in your head because you can’t forget?

There’s a weird kind of curtain around losing a pet. Almost as if I don’t want to admit how sad I am because it was just a dog. But it was my dog who went everywhere with me and somehow that makes it very different. I haven’t even wanted to let the sad inside, Jon is just so heartbroken and one of us needs to hold it together, but I can feel it starting to creep in around the edges. I’m afraid if I let it in it will take me over and I’m just not ready for that yet. Jon held him; I couldn’t bear to be that close.

There’s just one dog to feed now, one leash. There is no big black mass sleeping on the couch making hair all over my floor. Yesterday I looked around with all confidence that I would see it there and was brought back to the reality that it’s never going to be there again. The house feels empty with just the four of us and strange like something’s missing. Because it is.

Tear down the house that I grew up in, I’ll never be the same again
Take everything that I used to own and burn it in a pile

Bulldoze the woods that I ran through, carry the pictures of me and you
I have no memory of who I once was
And I don’t remember your name

Park the old car that I love the best, inspections due and it won’t pass the test
It’s funny how I have to put it to rest
And how one day I will join it

I remember crying over you, and I don’t mean like a couple of tears and I’m blue
I’m talking about collapsing and screaming at the moon
But I’m a better man for having gone through it

:::::

the grumbles describes herself as someone’s crunchy, nerdy, foul-mouthed mother. I’ll add that she’s also a gifted writer and humorist. Spend some time with her, you won’t be sorry.

Read the original post at Grumbles and Grunts
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Story Editor: Heather King ::: @HeatheroftheEO

30

In This Skin

{By Rachel at A Southern Fairytale}

Comfortable in this skin.

I’m not. And I am.

I’ve gained weight. Quite a bit.

I look at you and I don’t see your size, I see your sparkling eyes, your boisterous infectious laugh, your beautiful hair, your captivating smile, your heart, your elegant hands, your adorable sprinkling of freckles, the bounce in your step, your sassy-ness; all the things that make you who you are, the things that endear you to me, draw me to you.

And yet.

And. Yet.

All I see, when I look at me… the excess.

I am completely comfortable in my skin, when I forget. When the image in my head is the one that I believe.. the healthy girl who rocks the hour glass figure and is damn proud of it.

The girl with the strong legs, childbearing hips, curving waist, powerful shoulders.

But right now… that hour glass is more an hour and a half…maybe two.

I want to be healthier. for me.

Tonight I watched a video by a friend and her husband and it brought tears to my eyes. That’s love. That’s confidence. She inspires me. I adore her.

She is one of the most beautiful people that I’ve ever known. You can get lost in her eyes and her laughter and smile…magnetic.

I have a vision of who I am. I am a cute, spunky, curvy woman… I always have been.

And yet right now… I’m not happy with my outside.

and I struggle.

I NEVER speak of weight, size, numbers or scales.

Because I have a daughter. A beautiful, athletic girl who thinks that I am gorgeous and perfect and funny and smart and beautiful.

I do not want her to ever see me as anything but. I do not ever want her to see herself as anything but.

However, I know that I need to be healthier, for her. For my son. For my husband, for me.

I want to put clothes on again and enjoy them. I want to walk past a mirror and not have it stop me and slam me back to reality.

I am not a size 6, I am not a size 8… I am a woman with curves and slopes and I love them; I want to get back to the me who loves them again.

My husband looks at me and runs his hands over my curves and I feel sexy, as long as I don’t look myself.

I want to look at myself and love my body again.

I want to rock my hour glass again.

I do not wish to be thin, I am a food lover. I love to eat, I love to cook, I love to drink, I love to savor.

It is a struggle. It is my own.

I want my outsides to match my insides.

Confident. Laughing. Strong.

I will do this for me.

I will do this for my daughter.

This is my gauntlet to myself.

: : : : : : : : : : :

More often than not you’ll find Rachel writing about food; this departure is powerful and inspiring.
Subscribe to A Southern Fairytale in
a reader or by email.
She tweets as @
SthrnFairytale and has a Facebook page.

Discovered by Story Editor, Robin Dance :: PENSIEVE :: @PensieveRobin

2

beauty in the shadow of doubt

photo credit

Can she still be loved, the uncertain one?

The one with too many questions…

The one who is not denying the doubt-cry one day more.

Can she still love, she without the inspired brand of faith?

 

This adventure, the pursuit of truth and freedom.

Freedom to follow the heart’s wondering, wandering kind.

There is no unseeing the seen.

Woe to the one who strays, who’s mind is never satisfied.

 

A lonely, wild journey lies ahead…

But it has to be done.

 

 

**this is an anonymous poetry submission to Storybleed Magazine
…and it reverberated like an echo off our walls.

::featured by story editor Sara Sophia@sarasophia::

14

To Sing My Song

{by Laurie White of Laurie Writes}

I drove the old roads yesterday, as I rarely do anymore unless someone died, as someone had. Turning instinctively on numbered streets — that party there, that unfortunate conversation on that street corner, I knew the sounds and the smells of the neighborhoods, felt the grit of the pavement and the echoes of so many voices up through the undercarriage of a car I never could have afforded then, can barely afford now.

Road miles, they carry us, somehow.

Monday was PG County and a dead body in a Hawaiian shirt, unbearable grief and chicken joints and that school I went to once. I forgot about D’s corner lot house, the irritation of the left turn. The shortcut through the 7-11 that I made still-instinctively after 20 years away made me want to smoke more than usual, an urge staved off mostly by the almost seven dollar price for a pack that made me smile big.

It’s all so much the same, it’s crazy how it stays that way when it seems like it ought not to, when you’ve been away and looking at so much other stuff. It’s just so much more expensive in all ways now.

 ****

you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes. – Bukowski

 ***

I am afraid, I admit it. I said some horrible things a few days ago, things that came from the worst place, the most unpleasant, the most fearful and preemptively abandoned. I felt as worthless and pointless as I have in months, as incapable of…I don’t know? Anything. It was bad, and it was at the same time, regardless of immediate outcome, immediately productive. Watersheds are few and far between in a life, really.

I had needed it for years and never saw it coming really. Idealism is a certain circle of hell, I’m here to tell.

Yesterday on the highway Ramble On came up in the mix and I cried and smiled, Page and Plant’s mix of hubris and brilliance (the darkest depths of Mordor. MORDOR.) what it needed to be as it always is bumped up against the simple, crucial declarative that defines the song. So much, so much, so much. I looked up at the roof upholstery at a red light, wiping my stupid weeping eyes, grateful for the familiarity, for the music, for the construct. I knew anew what I had to do, as I had when my feet hit the floor behind a heavy curtain in Tennessee two days prior.

Now’s the time. The time is now.

I will never be easy. I will always be difficult, sometimes the most in the times that I’m trying the hardest not to be. This is genetic, some of this, a design that I fight with every bit of good that I know I possess from competing genes and nurture and the sheer instruction of living kindly. I don’t count on the same companions for the long haul so much anymore, because it’s almost too much to ask in larger than small doses. I’m conversely coming upon the truth, however, that some greater consistency in this regard may be some of what I need for the longer run, and whether I think it’s really possible or not, I will keep wrecking the prospect of ever having it if I don’t fix me for real.

I have been broken for a long time, in a variety of small and large ways, despite my progress, despite longstanding white-knuckled efforts to the contrary. I have the softest, brightest comprehension now though that I don’t think I’m going to be for very long anymore, and regardless, I will no longer break you, not even a little if I can help it, no matter who you are. Unacceptable harsh words finished that story. The main answer — surrender, no knuckles — was long overdue. The time for so many (good and gentle, fun and interesting) things, the time for the real second half, is now.

Read the original post at Laurie Writes
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Subscribe to Laurie’s always-worth-your-time words at Laurie Writes.

Learn all things Laurie at Laurie Media

Story Editor: Heather King :: @HeatheroftheEO

4

Discoveries

{by Jennifer Doyle from Playgroups are No Place for Children}

(photo credit: Flickr)

I remember the thrill of the discovery, like I had unearthed a secret treasure.

Lonely and isolated as a new mom, I woke up each morning before the sun and with the cries of a hungry baby, followed by naps, laundry, more cries of a hungry baby, followed by more naps, more cries, bedtime. The next day was exactly the same, as was the day after that, and the day after that.

Of course, it wasn’t all bad! Motherhood was just…not what I imagined it to be. In boredom, I went online, clicking one website after another, when one day I read the words of a mother. I don’t remember them exactly, but her message spoke to my soul, the secret place inside of me that couldn’t admit outloud that I didn’t know what I was doing and that most days I wanted to escape, even if just for 15 minutes. This discovery, a mother–just like me, staying home with a baby all day–confessed in writing that being a mom was hard, wonderful, exhausting, boring, fulfilling, gratifying, and every other adjective I had also secretly thought only to myself.

It’s liberating to know you’re not alone, but it’s also enlightening to learn that your own knowledge of the world is not the only reality.

I have kept reading. For years, I’ve read about what other parents have dealt with, how they do what they do with each obstacle they face. I’ve read about triumphs and tragedies, daily quips and years long sagas. I have learned what they think of their vacuum cleaners and their congressmen and women. I read about parents who have such radically different parenting styles and beliefs than my own safe, sanitary bubble style parenting. I continue to read and learn.

Discovering women writers online has influenced who I am and the way I parent today. My world, which formerly consisted of only what I knew intimately and maybe of what I saw on TV or read in novels, is now wide open. Before blogging, I didn’t know anyone personally who homeschooled their children, or gave birth at home, filed for bankruptcy, was Mormon or Jewish, or was a single parent. I’ve found that it’s much easier to have an open mind about things I personally know nothing about, when you’ve read someone’s words and their story–and realized that their opinions and actions are shaped by their experiences just as my opinions and actions are shaped by my own experiences.

What I’ve read for these past six years has influenced how I feel about spanking, processed foods, vaccinations, potty training, education options, religion, cleaning products, and, oh, everything else that I might possibly have ever thought about. When I have parenting questions, the first place I look is online and the  parenting writers are usually whose opinions I search and trust the most. In the past, I’ve even written about concerns I’ve had about my own children’s development and have received words of wisdom from friends and strangers far and wide, giving me a virtual pat on the back or hug when I’ve needed it.

Now that I work from home, an option that is partially available to me because of my online interactions for all these years, I’ve taken a cue from other working mothers to learn how to “do” this working thing. From organization tips, to quick recipes, reasonable expectations of babysitters, to balancing (or not!) work and home life, this online space has helped me figure out how to get it all into 24 hours each day.

This is the person that I am today, influenced by more than just my own little bubble wrapped world: the working mom of two school-age children, wife, half-marathon runner, wrinkle cream junkie, recycling fanatic, organic milk buyer, occasional coupon clipper, obsessive email labeler, friend, open-minded, woman writer.

To celebrate their launch, mom.me is hosting a carnival of stories to discuss how technology and online communities of moms have shaped the way we parent. Story Bleed Magazine is proud to be a part of this conversation. Simply, Story Bleed Magazine exists in part thanks to parenting communities. We encourage you to check out mom.me and at the very least tell them we sent you, but also tell them YOUR stories.

You, too, can join this conversation with mom.me. Let’s talk about how this little (huge) online world we’ve made for ourselves on the Internet is creating us, changing us as parents. Join this carnival, join this conversation.

5

You Inspire Me. You Make Me Brave.

{By Sara Sophia}

if we look closely
the sunspots in our eyes
become lions and bears made of fire.

they glimmer and bare their teeth

i counted the freckles on her cheeks.
There are 27.
tomorrow they will multiply.

tracks left
by lions
by bears
constellations mapped out across her
perfect
little
face.

and the day is all fierceness and flame.

bright like four lives in a jar
set free.

and they laugh louder under God’s gaze
and shoot up to pluck stars from the heavens

Mercy is this firepit

burning away the chaff
of every broken day before.

(written for my children after reading my favorite poet-mama)

(photo credit)

Nearly four years ago I sat in front of a computer screen with the idea of starting a blog.

My world had grown so small I could hardly breathe.

I was alone in the rural south with nobody and no one
but the four little people who clung tight and close to my soul.
I had no idea how much searching Google
and clicking the link for “blogger” would change my life.

The relationships and connections—
the support I’ve received, in the truest sense of the word,
have made me a better person.
Oh how I mean that.

Fast forward to now and I find myself hemmed in and lifted up
by the strong women I’ve had the privilege of getting to know in this online space.
Women who have changed the way I think about my life
and who give me the courage to break free from the scarred places
where the hurt just won’t let go.

Women who have opened the door to their lives
and given a glimpse of their day to day;
who have inspired me consistently since 2009.
So much of how I share life with my children is influenced by the beautiful hearts
that share their homes, thoughts, and eloquence within this community.

Its as though we all somehow fell in a mixing pot and became family.
A tipi village.

(photo credit)

(You serve me on the wild grasses of a prairie
–tea; out of your best cup nonetheless–
and I’m watching with full eyes how you teach your second grader.
I’m taking in the meals you make and the way your eyes shepherd over the ones you love.
I see your love in how you write them.
I hear the click of the keys and the heart poured out with every line I read.)

Who would ever think something technical could be so beautiful?

Blogs are my research for parenting and so many other things—
I find that I trust the authors behind them so much more
than any I’d find on bookstore shelves.

Its that family-connection.
It spans miles and distance and difference.
So on days when I can’t find my center,
I go here.
And here.
And here.
And here.
And here.
And here.
And here. And here.

Like a path to salvation.

 For the days I can’t figure it out, can’t find it, can’t do it,
can’t take it, can’t make it, build it, teach it or write it….

You are there lighting a candle in the dark and blazing the trail ahead of me.

When anyone asks for advice I can’t give, I always point them online.
To the women I trust, respect and admire.
Technology has changed a lot of things—and not all for the better—
but I will forever be grateful that we have this space for community.

I owe so much to all of you.
<3

(photo credit)

(Let me know if you feel as warm, fuzzy and downright poetic
about parenting together via the internet as I do;
link up your stories here and don’t forget to visit mom.me!)

Story Bleed Magazine is proud to be a part of this conversation. Simply, Story Bleed Magazine exists in part thanks to parenting communities. We encourage you to check out mom.me and at the very least tell them we sent you, but also tell them YOUR stories.

6

Letter from the Editor: Art of Discovery

Story Bleed Magazine was created to highlight talent emerging from the online space. Writers, photographers, and artists have experimented with blogs and other social platforms for years now to hone their skills and share their stories with a global audience. What fascinated us the most, however, were the people that would never have considered themselves artists but were, in fact, creating magazine-quality art.

Brilliant pieces of writing, buried in archives on little-read blogs. Stunning images lost to the infinite layers of photo sharing mega-sites.

We created Story Bleed to dredge up those moving fragments and highlight them in a format that suggested, “Take these pieces seriously. They are that good. No, you may not know these writers, but we’d like to introduce you.”

One of the best parts? The creatives we feature often are shocked at our interest.

When we contact them for procurement of a piece or accept a submission that they hit send on with nearly closed eyes, it is frequently the first time they have been recognized as talented.

Even better than their joy at being appreciated? Those same artists just as frequently begin to take themselves and their work more seriously, moving forward as serious writers and creating a career they never would have attempted.

 

It takes being seen. Even just once.

Read more »

15

days that build me

{by John Blase, the beautiful due}

Vintage bathing suits

I went with them yesterday, ‘them’ being the three females in my life. Two of them, my daughters, needed swimsuits because, well, it’s summer. The third of ‘them’, also known as their mother, had warned me:  you know they want buhkeeknees, right? I said I had heard that word several times of late but had always tried to change the subject. For example -

Daughter:  Dad, I really really want a buhkeeknee.

Me:  Sweet-girl, have you finished reading Rob Bell’s book yet?

Anyway, I went along yesterday, I felt it needed to be a father’s day on some level. So I stood in a store called Justice and leaned against a waiting-wall while three video screens assaulted my senses with some little tweener-boy trying to sing ‘Broken Hallelujah.’ I kid you not. As the poor kid butchered a classic I eyed my girls’ feet below the 3/4 dressing room door, feet I know well, toes I’ve counted, this little piggy and stuff like that. Their not-so-little-anymore feet skittered around accompanied by growing-girl giggles…

broken hallelujahs to my heart.

I don’t know about a hell, but I do believe in God because somehow my daughters’ eyes were earlier drawn to that known as the tankeeknee. Now I’ve nothing against buhkeeknees, I’m rather fond of them in fact. But when you’re a dad that fondness is tempered by that fact that you’re a male and you know how fond males of any age are of girls sitting on chaise loungers in their bra and panties. I needed something for these middle-dad days I’m in and that meant something to cover their-middle….

Voilà, enter the tankeeknee.

I stood up straight as I saw the dressing room door open. Two visions stepped forward to get my approval:  whaddaya think, dad?

If they only knew what I thought…if they only knew my thrill at seeing their ear-wide grins, a thrill coupled with an extreme difficulty to breathe, sorta like my saddle shifting right underneath me. If they only knew how excited I am for the summer days they have ahead of them, while I so long for those seasoned days when they let me wash their hair.

What do I think? Well, I like ‘em. Let’s get ‘em. And so we did.

Yesterday was a day that built me, my daughters’ father, just a little more. I may make it after all. The gentle irony was our experience took place in a store called Justice. Any man worth his salt knows fathers are built by one thing and one thing only – mercy.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

Read John’s original post and comments at the beautiful due and click around where you’ll find beautiful prose and poetry.  Want more?  Follow him on Twitter.

{Pick by Story Editor Robin Dance :: @PensieveRobin.}

 Photo credit

10

The Falling Away of Everything Wrong.

{by Kari of Through a Glass Darkly}

photo credit.

I keep telling Mike that being at the pool is going to give me plenty of fodder to write my Great American Novel. There are so many things to observe at the pool, so much of humanity (and flesh) on display. It reminds me that there really is nothing new under the sun. (Except possibly my blindingly white skin.)

It is still hard for me to watch those girls that I never was: the confident ones in the tiny bikinis with their perfect tans and their perfect hair and their perfect boyfriends to rub sunscreen on their shoulders (get a room!). I relate more to the ones who are holding back, shy in their bathing suits, aware of their flaws. Of course, they don’t have to be wearing bathing suits to be that shy. I see it at school, too – the girls who, somehow, aren’t awkward at all. And the girls who are profoundly aware of their own awkwardness. I am sometimes overwhelmed with the feeling that I need to take these girls aside, the shy bathing-suit clad, the awkward, and tell them: You might not be like the girls over there, but you are still wonderful. There are things I wouldn’t say, because I know they would not hear them: You will look back and realize you were looking pretty great after all. And: At the same time, you would never go back and relive these days for anything.

But I know, like all the rest of us, they will have to figure those things out for themselves. So I sit in my chair and watch and pray and root for them to find their way.

There has been a lot of dress talk in my house lately. I have seen a lot of magazine pictures that I know I could never live up to, all those tall leggy women who tower over me. I have been very tired and my class has been very frustrating and the economy has everyone worried about their jobs. I have forgotten things I needed to do. I have not lived up to my own expectations. I have not felt beautiful, inside or out. In the midst of that, I ran across this poem.

“Perfect Dress” by Marisa de los Santos

It’s here in a student’s journal, a blue confession
in smudged, erasable ink: “I can’t stop hoping
I’ll wake up, suddenly beautiful,” and isn’t it strange
how we want it, despite all we know? To be at last

the girl in the photography, cobalt-eyed, hair puddling
like cognac, or the one stretched at the ocean’s edge,
curved and light-drenched, more like a beach than
the beach. I confess I have longed to stalk runways,

leggy, otherworldly as a mantis, to balance a head
like a Fabergé egg on the longest, most elegant neck.
Today in the checkout line, I saw a magazine
claiming to know “How to Find the Perfect Dress

for that Perfect Evening,” and I felt the old pull, flare
of the pilgrim’s twin flames, desire and faith. At fifteen,
I spent weeks at the search. Going from store to store,
hands thirsty for shine, I reached for polyester satin,

machine-made lace, petunia- and Easter egg-colored,
brilliant and flammable. Nothing haute about this
couture but my hopes for it, as I tugged it on
and waited for my one, true body to emerge.

(Picture the angel inside uncut marble, articulation
of wings and robes poised in expectation of release.)
What I wanted was ordinary miracle, the falling away
of everything wrong. Silly maybe or maybe

I was right, that there’s no limit to the ways eternity
suggests itself, that one day I’ll slip into it, say
floor-length plum charmeuse. Someone will murmur,
“She is sublime,” will be precisely right, and I will step,

with incandescent shoulders, into my perfect evening.

Sometimes the ordinary miracle comes in charmeuse or a good hair day or the perfect bathing suit, but even better is when it comes from relationships that give you confidence, the hard work of exercise and study, time taken for prayer and reflection. These days, I will put on the ordinary miracles of drinking coffee in my sun-room, a sky so blue you wouldn’t believe it, and pushing a three-year-old “not too high” on a swing. They may not make everything that is wrong fall away, but they are miracles nonetheless.

 

Kari writes life. With all the right pauses and spaces of cadence between the silence.
Subscribe to her poetic stories here. And find her original post here.

:: featured by story editor Sara Sophia@sarasophia

8

Water for All

{By Eleanor Leonne Bennett}

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Eleanor Leonne Bennett is an award winning photographer from the U.K. Her photography has been displayed at exhibitions in London, Madrid, New York, New Orleans, and Philadelphia. She is 15 years old.

See more of her photography on her portfolio website and on Flickr. Like her on Facebook.

:::

Featured by Editorial Director, Jennifer Doyle | @playgroupie

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