Archive for the ‘Friday 1’ category

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


everything has a last day

{by Amanda of Last Mom on Earth}

(photo source)

We went on a special date, just Louise and me. She crawled through the aisles of the bookstore and I slowly meandered behind her, reading passages from crisp, unspoiled novels I knew I wasn’t going to buy. Maybe someday.

She talks a lot, when she’s alone with me. She points to things and tells me about them in her funny, amazing language. When something surprises or delights her, her tiny hand flies to her mouth and she chews on her perfect little fingers.

We came home to an empty house and I sat a carton of blueberries on the floor between us. My hands were clumsy and imprecise, picking up toppling handfuls and eating them without discretion. Louise, with her dainty, pointed fingertips, thought carefully about each berry before she chose it with an attitude of satisfaction and ate it, all by itself, like it was the most special and singular blueberry on the planet.

So much thought and care goes into chewing and swallowing a single blueberry when you’re one years old.

Some children from my daughter’s school, their mother is dying. So, we swoop upon them with love, making lists and baking lasagna, doing things that don’t matter, but they mean something. They mean, “We are mothers, too and we couldn’t imagine how scared and sad you must feel, to be leaving your children.”

Lots of people talk about how a child should never die before a parent. I believe it’s true. It would be a grief so complete and unbearable, I have no way to fathom it. And, I also can’t imagine what it would be like to wake up tomorrow if I might die before the year was over.

Every movement my daughters make is holy. Little fingernails, they’re so small you can barely believe that they’re real. Tiny crescents of mud beneath them. What would my life be, if I understood that everybody dies. I pray they will be old and settled when it’s my turn, but still. I will never be at peace with knowing they will breathe and eat and think and move around in the world, when I can no longer see them. They need me for everything. Without me, they couldn’t survive. And the amount I need them supersedes their neediness by mountains and thunderclouds, by river mouths and inlets. The way I love them is the way rain permeates the earth, filling up everything that was begging, and the earth sighs.

“Everything has a last day.” I read this on a blog today. A little boy said this about life. I almost can’t take it, he’s so smart and right and beautiful.

So, I’ll be spending the week at the beach with my family. There will be restaurants and shopping and we’ll all be stuffed into a bedroom that was made for a single person. There will be book lights and bubble wands and special, sugar cereal, just this one week per year. But, there will also be salt on the wind and a fat moon dangling above us while we sleep. Our summer congestion will be healed, I hope, and so will my sense of feeling like we’re all too big for our lives. The ocean has a way of making me small and unimportant, like death and love are all a part of things, and that I know what I’m doing, just because I’m a person.

I’ll bake and cry into the pen’s ink when I write, I hope you all are making it, out there… and my children will reach for the glow of our doorbell while I’m rushing them inside and out of the heat. We will all die someday, and it’s probably the right thing to do.


Amanda is a mother of two beautiful girls living in Pittsburgh. Her writing is stunning, a visceral thing that moves you to your core.
Read the original post at Last Mom on Earth
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Featured by Story Editor: Heather King



{By Brittany Gibbons, The Barefoot Foodie}

Have you ever been driving somewhere, and, before you know it, you’re there and you have no idea how you got there?

I haven’t been present for a while.

My body was here, and every so often, familiar words would escape from my mouth, but for months, my mind was somewhere else, and my heart was off laying in a mud puddle somewhere while someone poked at it with sticks.

I’m a cutter.

Not that kind.

With my brand of cutting, there is no visible blood.  All the scars are internal.

I was never going to say anything.  I was just going to cut.  Bleed.  Heal.

But, I wasn’t really healing.  I wasn’t clotting.

I was gushing.  Heavily.  And, it was blocking me.

Everything just squatting on my frontal lobe.  Making my words not work.

(I have no idea what your frontal lobe does.  I’m not a professional doctor.)

I have so many things to tell you.  Funny things.  Weird things.  Awkward things.  Just.  Things.  But, for a while, I couldn’t.

Every time I tried to tell you a story, my heart was all, HEY.  DON’T YOU REMEMBER ME?  THIS GIANT ASSHOLEY WOUND?  MAKING YOU PUKEY AND SAD?  LOOK AT ME.  LOOK AT MEEEEE!

Then it got hard to breath, my lips got numb, and my hands stopped working right, and I cried.

At first, it was sad crying.

I was mourning.

Mourning the loss of someone I loved.

Someone that was walking around, still very much alive, his blood the same as mine.

I waited to clot.  I waited to heal.

It turned to rage.

I bottled it and bottled it.  Only pushing against the people closest to me, screaming, LOOK AT ME.  LOOK AT THIS HURT.  THIS GIANT BALL OF SEEPING ANGER.  TAKE IT FROM ME PLEASE, IT’S TOO HEAVY FOR JUST ME.  I CAN’T CARRY THIS ALONE ANYMORE.

I expected help.

But instead, the body count grew.

Until things started to look less like a paper cut and more like a massacre.

Nobody likes complicated.  Nobody likes messy.

I am often both those things.

I used to only use the word hate when it came to silly things.  Like cilantro.  Or The Next Karate Kid.  Or people who hum when they chew.

But, now I use it for different reasons.

Reasons that are less sad and hurty, and more empowering and self respectful.

I can’t stop people from saying things about me that are horrible and untrue.

But, I can stop giving their disgusting actions so much weight.

I can’t make the people I loved see the truth or the hurt.

But, I can stop feeling so alone.

Because I’m not.

The surviving pieces of my life are my treasures.  My family are my bones.  And, I happen to have the very best friends in the world.


Not friends.



Some near.  Some a bit farther.

But, what’s distance when it comes to wine, laughing and singing along to Glee, right?

You aren’t in my life right now.  And, I just have to be ok with that.

I’m clotting.

I can write again.

And, I have the funniest thing to tell you.

Photo credit

: : : : : : : : : :

Brittany is the author of The Barefoot Foodie.
Subscribe to her blog in a reader so you won’t miss her serious, funny, brilliant thoughts.
Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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


State Fair Reflections

{by Rhonda Stansberry}

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Rhonda Stansberry is a photographer with a passion for history and architecture.
See more of her photography on her website, Stansberry Photography, and on Flickr.


Featured by Editorial Director, Jennifer Doyle | @playgroupie

October 3, 2011 | Featured 2, Friday 1, Memoir, Mr Lady

Grey Days

{by Craig Lesley, Bad Chemicals}

I’m zoned out most of the time. The world rifles by and I shuffle and daydream and stare at my shoes and don’t notice much of anything as weeks speed past.

But every so often I catch a sliver, the words “Forgive Me” spray painted on an overpass, the color of my eyes reflected in a shop window, my wife Sally making peanut butter cookies with our kids in the kitchen.

A few nights ago, rooting around for something to read on my night stand, I unearthed a picture, under a pile of magazines and books, taken last autumn at the neonatal intensive care unit. The whole family is in the photograph—Sally, our four-year-old, our two-week-old, and me. I’m holding the infant, who’s wrinkled and weighs barely three pounds. It looks like we’re all smiling, even the baby somehow.

The picture sent my head back, to those grey days, to the fluorescent lights in the sterile hospital, to that tiny boy with the tubes and the wires and the sensors.

That was a tough time. Sally had lost all that blood and our baby was teetering and the leaves were falling and every day I had to walk past the nursery with the plump babies and their proud relatives staring through the glass. Most days, I wanted to growl at those happy gawkers at the nursery window. I wanted to punch their grinning mouths.

But looking at that picture the other night, I realized the anger and worry had dripped away and what remained of those grey days was longing. I visited the newborn every afternoon in the hospital, and I told him about his brother and the pets at home as he laid in the incubator. I mentioned that the nice lady who kept stopping by and touching his feet was his mother. “You’ll like her,” I assured him. “She’s the one who knows what’s going on.”

I found myself missing those quiet afternoons together and the mystery of that wrinkled baby who I needed so desperately to grow big like the newborns in the nursery.

I drove the four-year-old to preschool that fall, and we discussed big trucks and soccer and hard rock as we cruised in the station wagon.

“Dad, do monster trucks like Metallica?” he asked one cold morning.

“Son,” I explained. “Monster trucks adore Metallica.”

I found myself missing those talks, too, as I gazed at that picture.

Yesterday, almost 10 months after the baby crashed into the world 10 weeks early, he crawled for the first time, grunting and stretching out and inching across the playroom to gum a toy. I called Sally in, and as she watched him crawl, she cheered.

Then she looked at me. “And so it begins,” she muttered, almost ominously.

Monday, the four-year-old, who is now the five-year-old, started kindergarten. He lugged his oversized Superman backpack down the stairs and all the way to his class without any help. “I’ve got it, Dad,” he told me.

Tuesday, in the school parking lot, he asked, “Dad, can I not hold your hand? I’ll be very careful.”

Today, he walked to class by himself. I stood at the school entrance as he rolled his backpack down the hallway, shorter and thinner than the other children bobbing along. A few steps in, the boy turned around and waved. Then he continued straight and confidently away.

I wish I could do that. I wish I could just walk away like my kindergartener did. But that’s not me. That’s not how I’m put together.

These boys are growing up, and they need to. They need to crawl. They need to go to school. They need to travel to sunny cities. They need to fall hard for pretty girls.

And I need to let them walk down those hallways and drive away in those cars, but I know I can’t completely. Some part of me will linger there, puttering along in the station wagon with the bad heavy metal cranked up, watching the five-year-old weave his way to class, rocking the infant in the hospital on those grey days last fall.

And that part of me will know that sadness is also a gift.

Story Editor pick by Shannon / Mr Lady

Craig Lesley’s blog, Bad Chemicals, is the stuff of insanity (so sayeth Craig and Kurt Vonnegut). His original post is neither bad, nor insane, and can be found right here.


All I have in me.

{by Nish, The Outdoor Wife}

All I have is the unsung in me.
The unwritten, empty pages blank,
Words piled up thick behind the whites of eyes
and the skin of my teeth.
The tiny voice speaks bold and
claws out from fingernails,

I have a heart of superglued glass.
I have the ink on skin
that bleeds out onto paper.

All I have is hellfire passion
burning slow and set aflame by only
one man’s touch. His.
He unearths me with gentle hands to
untamed skin and I am left

All I have left is breathing lungs,
pumping air in and out,
but I have my son, too
and he steals the breaths quick
with the small blonde wisps against his tiny ear.
I’m breathless now.

I have rusty cogs bound up in my mind.
I have the dirty earth on my hands and feet.

All I have in me, is the unspoken me.
This life. This moment.
None promised.
All given.

All I have in me is but a gift,
so what pours out must be
wrapped up in thankful.
I am thankful.

: : : : :

Read Nish’s original post at The Outdoor Wife.
Find her beautiful collaborations with others at Deeper Story, a site she founded to share Tales of Christ and Culture.
Be sure to subscribe to her every word
and follow her on Twitter.

Story editor, Robin Dance :: PENSIEVE




(by Talon)

photo credit

Never pick the berries the birds don’t touch
you told me long ago
and I remembered your words
when I saw the red berries
glistening in the snow
and I didn’t touch them
because the birds ignored them
leaving the fruit to the muse of winter

Never make a wish on a waning gibbous
you told me long ago
for you said the wish became magic
under a waxing crescent
the new would herald beginnings
with endings tucked inside
and when I saw the moon near full
I stilled my secret

Never wear blue on a rainy Monday
you told me long ago
and when I asked you why
you said the rain was blue enough
who needed to add any more?
and so my favorite blue jacket
stayed home on rainy Mondays
to collect the blue hours

Never say goodbye, just say farewell
you told me long ago
and you always said farewell with a smile
because you said the best way to part
is with a light heart and good intentions
and you hated words that rhymed with die
and we spent an hour or two laughing
over all that we would never say with
no sighing…no crying…no lying

Talon writes her thoughts, passions and poetry at her blog.
You can subscribe to her musings here.

Pick by story editor, Sara Sophia | @sarasophia



{by Alison from aPearantly sew}

Color Bleed - Oncoming by Alison aPearantly sew

Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights,
before the dark hour of reason grows.     ~John Betjeman, Summoned by Bells

• • •

“Protective” by Alison from aPearantly sew |  shop aPearantly sew@AliLittle28
shared via Instagram

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Color Bleed features images captured on mobile devices (phones, iPods, iPads) and shared via social networks (Instagram, twitter, twitpic, Facebook, etc.). Story Bleed consistently insists that art is made and shared online every day. Often casually. Phone photography consistently reveals itself to be breathtaking and insightful.

Simply complex, strikingly ordinary. Submit your mobile work to Color Bleed at Story Bleed Magazine.

Featured by Editor-in-Chief Megan Jordan@VelveteenMind@StoryBleed


What Happens After The Happiest Day of Your Life

{by Jonniker}

She picked up the glass, twirling the crystal stem in her fingers, holding the paper-thin bowl up to the light. They were the perfect glasses–Baccarat, not Waterford, as everyone knew Waterford was too fussy. All those facets, she thought bitterly. I don’t want to drink out of the Chrysler building.

She remembered the day they picked them out–well, the day she did, anyway, whirling around Neiman’s with the glowing red gun. He resisted initially, insisting that they were too expensive.

“Babe, I don’t want my grandmother forking over $300 for a single water glass,” he said. “Can’t we get these instead?”

He’d pointed to a display of Lenox glasses. Goddamn LENOX. She rolled her eyes at the memory. As if I’d be caught dead entertaining with a $36 glass. She won him over by insisting that the glasses were an investment.

“An investment in a lifetime of memories,” she cooed.

Stupid. I’m so stupid.

She turned the Baccarat upside down again, watching the light bounce off the rounded stem. She put it back on the table and twisted her hands for a moment before letting them fall into her lap. They rustled in the folds of her tulle slip, and she realized with horror that she was still wearing her wedding dress.

Her hands smoothed the fabric as she glanced down at herself admiringly.

Well, no one can say I didn’t look fabulous.

She almost snorted. Of course she looked fabulous–she was wearing a seven-thousand dollar dress. She’d loved it immediately–made of the softest silk, it was strapless and perfectly fitted to the waist before cascading into a million tiny little ruffles so fine they looked like delicate feathers. Monique Lhuillier herself probably hired twenty thousand Filipino children to hand-stitch each individual fold in the fabric.

That, too, had been an argument — this time, with her father. Her parents were generous to a fault, but even they were less than thrilled with the cost of the dress. They’d asked her to stay under three thousand dollars — a perfectly reasonable sum, she now realized — but she’d wheedled and begged, insisting on its critical role in the most important day of her life. It was her father who finally caved, and when he’d written the check, she was oddly triumphant. She’d known he wouldn’t refuse her.

She sat back in her chair and picked up the glass again. The day had been perfect, she realized. Precisely what she’d always wanted. The flowers — cascading orchids in the deepest velvet purple — were of a dream. The cost of those, too, had been staggering, fueled by their purported rarity.

She buried her head in her hands. All those details, she thought. The centerpieces. The dupioni silk custom chair covers blended of the subtlest of colors — a light cream and the softest pearl.

She lifted her head and looked at her engagement ring. Nine months later, and it still took her breath away. She twisted it around, remembering that just yesterday it had stood alone. Yesterday, when things were completely different than they were today. Yesterday, when she was happy and warm with the anticipation of her wedding day.

Yesterday, before she realized this was all a horrible mistake.

Jonniker is a mother, a writer, a twitterer, and a force to be reckoned with.

Her original, glorious post debuted the now-disbanded Polite Fictions, and it now lives for eternity here on Story Bleed.  Subscribe to her personal blog through RSS or Networked Blogs
Follow her on Twitter @jonniker.

Featured by Story Editor Shannon | @MrLady


An Inescapable Ruling.

{by Erika Wagner-Martin}

For so, so long it felt like we would never get here.

We smiled show smiles through home visit after home visit by social worker after social worker.
We steeled ourselves as we bundled them up for trips to the visitation center far too far away.
We held our breath, our hearts the frontline cavalry from the back row of the courtroom
anytime we attended a hearing.

I have knocked on wood — and by wood, I mean anything comprised of matter — thousands of times,
gasping for air as I’ve constricted and believed and constricted and believed our dream
of being a forever family with these precious, precious girls.

The beginning of this process is full of fear for people like me.
You’ll never get a newborn, they tell you. You want two together?
They will be damaged and you will spend a lifetime trying to save them
and love alone cannot save anyone, they say.

They give it to you in writing that the goal was, is, and always will be to reunify them with their biological family.

Well, today we went to court. Today, from the back row, feeling weightless and unworthy,
we listened as the court found both parents in default, as their parental rights were terminated on multiple grounds.
We listened, blinking back tears as the judge summarized the summaries provided by all the parties involved,
etching it into the record of law that permanent placement with us is an inescapable ruling.
Because with us, our girls are loved and thriving.

I will always feel conflicted about how I came to be a mom.
I will always wonder about that other mom, their first mom and whether their labors were easy or long,
whether she cares that they’re no longer with her.

Our adoption day is April 4, 2011 and I feel blessed beyond comprehension.

Erika Wagner-Martin blogs life, love and struggle here.
Read her original post.
Subscribe to her RSS–she can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Featured by Story Editor, Sara Sophia

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