happy birthday, big brother

today my brother mike would be 55. he died 10 years ago on december 19th. this photograph is from the last time he & i & the rest of us were all together in one place…my wedding.  thinking about him, i started this memoir….

the six of us assumed we were blessed for the mere fact that we survived our childhood.
survived our father passing out at the wheel.
survived drunk motorcycle rides with dad.
survived our father sending us into precarious places to do dangerous chores.
survived our father, drunk, angry, & armed.
survived family adventures. camping. hiking on natural bridges…up to starved rocks…into mammoth caves…all though the grand canyon. 
survived water skiing behind jet engined motor boats.
survived a back yard pond with a homemade diving board in the summer and ice skates in the winter.
survived snow mobiles, three wheelers, four wheelers, chainsaws, log-splitters, tractors, riding on running boards, riding on trailers, riding in the beds of pick up trucks.
survived no baby seats. no seat belts. cars driving fast down country roads so you can catch that stomach dropping hill just right.

six almost died when he had a head on collision with a gravel truck while riding his four wheeler around that one blind corner of the gravel pit. but six was the only one of us to wear a helmet (pants & shoes as well!) the helmet did not survive. six had a broken jaw, broken cheek bone, his femur snapped in half.
but he survived.
which was further proof that we were blessed.

one died when he was 45, and his death shattered all of us. it was beyond comprehension that he could really truly be gone.

some of us were quick to go numb. go into denial. some of us threw ourselves into the mystery, the drama of his death. some of us searched for someone to blame…anyone to blame.

i had talked to him on  his birthday just 19 days earlier. he sounded sad. stressed out. we had so much family drama happening as well as the drama he kept hidden from us. his one consolation was that he had gotten a red velvet cake for his birthday. his family left for a ski trip, but they had baked him a red velvet cake first. 
the same cake that two always got on her birthday when we were growing up because two’s birthday is just before valentine’s day. 
all these years one had been coveting two’s cake just like i had always coveted five’s cake. she got devil’s food every year while i was stuck with angel food–because i was “the good one.”

one finally got his cake. and then he died. and his wife and four kids would have to forever feel like shits for going on a ski trip on his last birthday….

my favorite way to make fun of one was to mimic our phone conversations. “so what else is new?” he would ask incessantly making me scramble for newsworthy tidbits to tell him.

i was on the phone with two around the time one’s plane crashed down. i was making fun of one again. i had just gotten his yearly–& much anticipated–christmas newsletter.
a newsletter so crisp & professional as it was designed & produced by a proclaimed “web guru.” yeah, my brother. 
between the smatterings of “keep christ in christmas” & photos of his beautiful children doing all the things beautiful children with money get to do were articles lamenting the newly elected president and calling for strength & endurance for this upcoming apocalypse of a democrat in the white house. 
thanks to the thorough brain-washing of my completely insane & devoutly catholic mother, one literally feared the evil baby-killing agenda of the left wing.
to me, a self-proclaimed anarchist, one’s christmas newsletter was hysterical in every sense of the word.
so i ranted about this to my sister as one died…for his beliefs. 

so this is the beginning. i hope to write more. another work in progress. hang onto your butts.

ps! if you want to support my art & writings…contribute to my getting microsoft word again so i can edit my stories…buy notebooks…journals…ink & paper…you can do this (and more!) by clicking here

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my big brother

while i typed novels
that no one
would
ever
read
on an electric
typewriter
he led the way
in that whole website fad
making a fortune
designing political
websites….
while he wore
a tie
& his million
dollar
smile
rubbing elbows
with bushes & kochs
i was
stomping about
in my doc martin
boots
head
half
shaved
& packing up my
compact car
at a moment’s notice
to go
where
the wind blew me….
we both kept pictures
of the other
to show off
with a laugh
& bipartisan pride
“can you believe we are related?”

twenty-nine days after all saint’s day (day of the dead) is my brother mike’s birthday. nineteen days after that is his death day. i spend a lot of this time of the year thinking of my brother.
so when i saw sarah’s post on her blog “fresh hell” about her amazing brother, i had to chime in in the comments.
and, of course, that wasn’t enough.
so it became a journal page of it’s own.

update: mild to severe alarm

i’m not sure what i have said about my living situation.
in a nutshell, spring of 2016, i was living in manitowoc, wi, renting from a friend. i was looking around the area for property to buy to start homesteading. this is when my younger sister said to me, “i know some available land in illinois.”
she was referring to my childhood home, a large 3 bedroom house on 5 acres. my parents who have m.s. & parkinson’s disease as well as being mentally unstable, were deemed–by my younger brother–unfit to live alone in rural illinois. he drove them down to texas & dropped them off on my oldest sister’s doorstep. so the property was sitting empty & neglected.
around this time, my friend let me know she was kicking me out.
i had no money.
no child support.
no place to go.
so here i am, a glorified caretaker living rent-free at my childhood home. which is a beautiful place if you ignore the constant intensive corporate farming that happens on every side of the property.

all was well.  without my parents here, all the boogeymen seemed to have re-located.
oh, that’s another thing. i moved out of this place the week i graduated high school & over the years had less & less contact with my parents who are so fucking toxic. so toxic.
then
last christmas/new years my parents decided to visit. i did not feel i had a choice. they stayed for two unbearable weeks. go check out my archives from that time if you want to see exactly what happened to my mental health while they were here.
silver lining–while they were here, my mom declared that they would never return.

as it turns out, she planned never to return…my dad, however, is chomping at the bit to come back up here.
i got an email last night from my sister & her husband informing me that he would be coming up here in the fall to visit.

holy fuck.
seriously, i can barely take care of myself & my four minions. i am struggling on many levels.
how the ever-loving  fuck am i supposed to take care of an abusive alcoholic motherfucker with parkinson’s disease?
maybe i sound heartless & ungrateful. but fuck that bullshit. i get it–nothing is free. if i am here, i am expected to let that son of a bitch visit me.

thing is…i’m not known for doing things i don’t want to do. i just don’t. i quit bad jobs. i quit bad marriages. i quit my parents years ago.
and i am not going to subject my children to that toxic fucking monster again.

so i’m looking for another place to live.
which means i will have to find new homes for some to all of my animals…
and uproot & disappoint my children…
but maybe it is for the best. i never could bring myself to think of this as a forever situation. maybe it’s time for the next step of my adventure.

oh! and i need y’all to buy art so i can afford to move…maybe i should set up a fund-raiser page to get money…the great minion migration.

fuck…i hope i can take my goats wherever i am going…if you know an available midwestern property where i can have goats–let me know!

bluebird of…sadness

sadness
like a blanket
like a fog
heavy
i let it curl around
me
i breathe
& it fills me
i want to tell someone
i want to cry
on someone’s
shoulder
i want comfort
but i find
only
sadness.

i do just feel so very heavy with sadness. this was all i could muster to write. my sadness has to do with my sister visiting & all the history there & everything that never changes but that i need so desperately to change…and then the sadness is my needing to talk to someone about it & having no one to talk to. you know what i mean, i need a confidant in my life. that person who listens to me bitch about my family. or talk to about my day. that person i tell all the cute things my kids did. or why i feel overwhelmed. or elated. excited. or…profoundly sad. that person who holds me without judgement & tells me everything will be okay.
so it turns into some sort of vicious circle. i’m sad about something…& then i’m more sad because i have no one to share my sad with. and then i’m super sad about that.
like a snowballing avalanche of sad.
that’s me…right now.

quixotic cards…

i have no interest
in ever making cards
for money
though if someone wanted to buy some
i wouldn’t say no….

what i mean is…
there seems to be a capitalism bone
missing from my body

i love to do what i love to do
but i don’t want to do it
for money

money is dumb

here is the first card for my february calendar of birthdays. one of my nephews. he has never liked me. i used to take care of him as a baby, & he would so give me the stinkeye. but! always time to build better bridges…until it’s too late, that is….

anyhoo!

i missed at least three birthdays in january. i have managed to make a grand total of two birthday cards this year.
but, hopefully, i will continue this little exercise
in being a better aunt, cousin, sister, friend, & person.

in complete opposition to my short poem about capitalism sucking…i would like to let you know that if you forgot to get me a valentine, it’s not too late. you can buy yourself a copy of the book i illustrated–mistress of mud–to show how much you love me!

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