self-portrait on a tuesday morning

the only time
the only time my parents
showed interest in me
paid attention to me
put me in their spotlight
was when they were
desperately
trying to dissuade me from being a writer….
just imagine
what would have happened
if they had put that same energy
into supporting
into nurturing
into being proud of their creative daughter
building her passion
giving it wings
rather than
pissing on it

ug. this is what i spent last night crying about. stupid, huh? i know i’m not supposed to dwell in the past–the what-ifs…because i need to just accept that that is what it was and move on…
but sometimes it really sucks…
and i can’t help just imagining if i had had supportive & nurturing parents…if i had married a supportive & nurturing man….

so the summer i turned seventeen, my parents sent me away to camp.
this might not sound odd–unless you knew my parents. there were six of us kids and they hated spending money on us. or, at least, it seemed that way to me. none of us ever went to camp. for the money reason–and also because we were free summer labor for my dad. so it was totally weird that they sent me to camp.
i thought about it last night.
this was eons before the internet–how did they even know about the camp?
how did they find it?
i must have told them i had an interest in forestry.
so they went through all the trouble and research to find a forestry camp to send me to?
all because i wanted to be a writer…i was a writer. i had even won a national award (2nd place) for writing when i was thirteen. i had written three books at this point in my life–sure they probably sucked–but i was writing books when i was just a kid. i was producing substantial work.
but they sent me to forestry camp because being a writer was…was what? did it embarrass them? were they afraid for my future?
because thanks to their lack of support and encouragement, i have spent most of my life working menial jobs, wanting to be a writer, but having no confidence in myself….

when i finally got myself into a creative writing program in 2014, 44 and a mother of four, my professor told me i should go for an MFA due to my talent & skill with writing. she thought i had promise.
of course, i had to quit school and move away because my ex (mr. school is a waste of time) husband was being abusive and sabotaging my very existence…. yay.

so i’m wallowing a bit today.
thinking of running away from home.
mentally packing my bags & my goats and wondering if i could just take the minions and disappear from my own life….

tueday morning…another day to survive….

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perchance to dream

the other morning
in a dream
i was in iceland
and trying to get back to my kids
who were on the top floor of a hotel
i considered taking the elevator
but if you have ever been in one of my dreams
you know to avoid elevators
so i took the stairs
and it took forever
because they weren’t all in the same place
finally
i found the last flight of stairs
but peter dinklage was ahead of me
and somehow i pissed him off
so he started kicking away the stairs
creating a chasm for me to fall into
but i grabbed him
and the open doorway
and pulled him back
to scare him just a little
before throwing the both of us
up & out of the chasm.

every morning i wake at sunrise & then fight to get a few more hours of sleep. you know, to be more rested…but also! also because that is when i have my best dreams. dreams that speak to me the clearest.

i quickly interpreted this one as saying that even though i am scatterbrained (how long had my children been alone in a hotel room?) and struggle with political correctness (dwarf tossing?) i am a better mom than i think i am & will not let myself fall into a chasm.
also, i am still afraid of relationships (elevators represent relationships in my dreams.)

writing out the entire dream today, i noted that i said to some man who was standing next to the elevator i was briefly considering, “i can’t take the elevator, i am afraid of dragons.”
which seemed weird to me…since i’m not afraid of dragons.
then i realized something.
dusty was born in year of the dragon and identifies himself as such.
dusty is a dragon.
i am afraid of finding myself in another relationship with a dusty.
so i avoid all relationships.

i find myself deeply sad a lot these days. i think, maybe, for this very reason. i want to get into that elevator…but i can’t. it is too fucking scary.
but still….

and i watch romantic comedies with sam rockwell…or ben stiller…in them…and i just feel deeply deeply sad.

the whole wide world

so yesterday morning
i had a dream that is a reoccurring theme for me
the dream has me
desperately
trying to reconcile with dusty
desperate
to be with him again
so i spent yesterday
pissy
& wondering
does my subconscious really really?
want me to reunite with dusty?
really?
& i guess my subconscious was listening
because this morning
i had the same dream
but with a different ex
desperate
again
to reunite
to be in love
happily ever after
now i know it’s not dusty
my subconscious is messaging me about
but i am still in the dark
is it as simple as my own desperation
to be loved?
to be happily ever after?
or does it go deeper….

i’m not getting art done. the minions are crazy, & i am crazier. i need to get art done. because, well, deadlines…and because it is something that keeps me sane….

but late summer is acting like fall and i have bees to get ready…goats to find a stud for…lambs & turkeys to butcher…winter gardens to plan…chicks being born and deserted by their fickle mama hens…

IMG_5329

i did get around to signing up as a place for travelers to come & help out. i am on helpx and on wwoof. today a couple of girls contacted me about hanging out here in september.
did you know that not only can i feel like an imposter as an artist, but also can i do so as a homesteader?
i’m all like–is my homestead actually a homestead? are they going to be disappointed in my homestead? like take one look and go–you call this a homestead???

aw fuck.

relationships, art, writing, motherhood, and homesteads…it’s all one experiment in rejection….

speaking of, a work of creative non-fiction i submitted to a magazine that was doing a theme that screamed of my story, rejected my story before the email submission had even cooled…and i cried…and then felt like an idiot for crying when there are people losing their homes to fire, flood, and fascism….
but it still hurt.

ps. if anyone is good at dream interpretation & wants to take a crack at my dream, please do so!

i love my kids…but i hate being a mom….

i hate being the one in charge
i hate being the bad guy
i hate having to be the one who makes sure we don’t run out of
toilet paper
clean clothes
toothpaste
shoes that fit
food
i hate being the one that has to make impossible ends
meet
i have to
no one else is going to do it
i have to find ways to fix
messes that seem impossible to fix
i have to referee fights
that seem to have no end
i hate being referee
i hate being mom
i want to not have to worry about everything
to not be the one who is supposed to have all of the answers
i want to find room in my heart
for me
to not feel overwhelmed by them
i want to be able to breathe

it’s not them though
is it?
it’s not being a mom so much
as my being damaged
damaged by life
damaged by parents, damaged by exes
never taught to love myself
in the way a person needs to be able to
so that person can be a good mom
neglected by my own mom
leaving me unable to cope
abandoned
abused
by the man who was supposed
to do this with me
be there for me
now
i just want to hide, heal, and lick my wounds
but as a mom
i just can’t seem to
there are just too many other things
that need to be
done….

page11

yesterday i collapsed in a heap and all i could think was, “i hate being a mom. i hate being a mom. i hate being a mom.” it was both a relief to think it…and horrifying.

i didn’t always hate being a mom…if you read my wordpress profile thing-y here, it sounds like i used to really think i was a good mom….
(i wish i could remember that feeling.)

though it was a cruel awakening when i became a mom and realized i was working harder than i ever had before–but i wasn’t getting any pay or benefits. after a lifetime of supporting myself, i was now dependent on a partner who was–well–crappy. he would tell me my position as a mom was pointless and why was he the only one earning money? he would tell me to get a job. i was exhausted to my bones–and he was telling me i wasn’t earning anything therefore i was lazy…useless? and he wasn’t the only one. our society echoed him. subtle or blatant, i got the message loud and clear.

i was a mom now–and now i did not matter.

page12

gone was my independence. my ability to just pack up everything i own and go somewhere new. just go. whenever i wanted. be free whenever i felt caged. now i was anchored. by one..then two..then three..and finally four little anchors.

gone was time to myself. my crappy partner put that last nail in my coffin. no art. no writing. (right now i have a five year old begging me to color & i really really don’t want to color–i want to exorcise this demon–i want to write.) no exercise even because no one would let me. seriously. i was not allowed to do the walks i used to do daily to clear my head & keep my weight down. if i wanted to go–everyone wanted to go with me–and it became an unbearable circus…

page13

i know there are people out there devastated because they can’t have children. i used to be one of those people. i wanted to cry every time a friend or a sister got pregnant. i tried for 10 years before i got pregnant. i dreamed of being a mom. i dreamed of having that love in my life. of course, i thought, being a mom will fix what is wrong with me.

but i wasn’t careful about with whom i had my kids. that was my mistake. my biggest mistake. i didn’t realize how much that would change things…taint things. that partner who doesn’t value you–or your role as the mother of his children.

it’s devastating…at least for me…it has damaged me so deeply sometimes i feel like i am unable to love at all.

but i love my minions. i do. as much as i hate being a mom sometimes–i never stop loving them.
so that’s something, right?

something salvageable?

page15

(these illustrations are moreĀ  from the project i am working on “the mistress of mud” with a friend of mine. yesterday i posted that i hadn’t gotten any work done, but i realized i actually had…and i did the one at the top of the post last night as i played around trying to emulate david mack’s style.)

my anxiety writes a poem

if my oldest son
never comes home
i will have to take his homemade ship
to the river myself
to launch it
after so many times of telling him,
“no, not today…”
i will have run out of days to spend
with him
maybe i will set it on fire
have a viking funeral
as i wish he would come home
if my second son
never comes home
i will never be able to return the movie
we are supposed to watch together
i will have to keep it
and pay the library
for it
knowing i could buy a cheaper copy
i will never let go
of the movie we were supposed to watch
as i wait for him to come home
if my daughter never comes home
i will build a shrine of
barbie dolls
and tutus
i will sit and sing to myself
surrounded by her special things
i will wish i could hear her
speak words
have a conversation with me
just once
just once
as i hope for her to come home
if my youngest son never comes home
i will die inside
knowing i wasn’t the mother to him
that he needed me to be
knowing that i failed him
from the beginning
and the only way i can save him
is to save myself
and bring him home to me

sometimes when my kids go to visit their dad, i go to a special hell reserved for moms. sometimes i breathe and relax and enjoy my alone time. other times i climb the walls and let the demons chisel at my thoughts.

i didn’t intend to be a stay-at-home mom. however, when it came time for me to go back to work after fidgit was born, i found i couldn’t do it. at first i tried taking him to work with me, which was strangely tolerated. but i realized i was doing two jobs half-assedly and decided i needed to make a choice.
i chose being a mom.
and it has been a hard road. a very hard road. my ego has suffered a lot and sometimes i find myself wondering, “what if–” about my choice to be a mom at all. and then the catholic part of me kicks in and i live in fear that i have hexed my children with such thoughts.

being a mom is so fucking complicated.

i just want my kids to come home so i don’t have time to think about it.

still-life for sawyer

today is my birthday
so
of course
i deleted my facebook page
and turned off my phone
not
because
i don’t want people to celebrate me
but because
i so desperately do
want that.
so if it doesn’t happen
i will be hurt
and if it does happen
i will be suspect
once a year?
once a year you remember me?
once a year you stop by
to say “hello.”
i know.
everyone is busy with their own lives
and how often do i reach out?
but don’t you see
how difficult it is for me to reach out
when all i expect is rejection
and disappointment?
today is my birthday…
i want fireworks, fancy chocolates, and fancy drinks
with loud & happy people…
but i suspect that won’t happen
i’m not that special
no one would even remember me if it weren’t for facebook
so i hide
from disappointment
& insincerity
i curl up in a ball
& cry
because
today is my birthday

it’s like dusty. all of a sudden he is saying all of the things that i wanted to hear ten years ago. and he expects me to just jump into his arms and eat up the bullshit.
but i can’t
because it is bullshit. ten years too late and said in a voice that makes me think he is being coached by someone. someone else. he never listened to me when i told him what i needed from him. now he is listening to another voice that is telling him what to say to get me back. maybe an inner voice…maybe an outer one. should i be flattered that he is trying so hard? to win me back?
but i’m not
because it is insincere. it is trap. it is manipulation. it is his trying to survive by pulling me under and floating to safety on my body. i have to remind myself of this–that his sweet words cover up a poisonous person.

and when i reject his come-ons…he resorts to talking child placement. he starts talking about how he wants the minions half-time. it’s like his next move after i block his move to capture my queen. talking about what an excellent father he is and how much he loves them.
he never did value me as a mother. i have put everything into being a mother, and for a while, i even believed i was a good mother. but he spent the past 12 years belittling my role as a mother. 12 years basically ignoring the minions. he was a dad when it was fun to be a dad–but when it wasn’t fun, he abandoned ship. his character in my moses jones comic wasn’t intentional. i didn’t set out to make him be an absent father figure…but dusty is an absent father figure. he is literally here, but he is gone. away. making himself unavailable to us even though he is right in front of us. it’s a weird gift, i guess, knowing how to make people not ask for your help or your contribution even though you are right there and completely able…and now because i won’t play his game, his next move is to remove the minions from their primary caretaker on a homestead with room to run and a life to live, to live with him half-time. where? at his mom’s house? or when he meets another woman–her house? dusty isn’t one to get things doneĀ  himself…he likes to take the easiest route possible. how will he care for four wild minions half-time?

and it’s my birthday.
and i’m broke.
i can’t even bake myself a cake because i have no money to go grocery shopping, and i somehow didn’t get the renewal for my foodshare (yes, i am on foodstamps) so i am desperately trying to get the state to renew my foodshare so i can buy groceries. fortunately, we have a garden giving us potatoes, beans, herbs, & greens. chickens for eggs–though they do so reluctantly. and a small store of dry goods–but no flour or honey for a cake.
and i was supposed to buy two goats this week…but i don’t have the money. obviously…. i am torn–it seems like a good investment, but how do i pull money out of my ass for goats when i am not sure how i am going to take care of every thing else?

i need a life coach. i need a fucking life coach. there has to be a way to make money. i do so much every day. surely it’s worth something to someone?

fuck.

happy birthday, me.

dusty doesnt like it when i compare him to a hookworm

he’s not a bad guy
really
just the wrong guy
really!
he’s here again
at my invitation
it seems
though i cannot tell you
exactly how that came to be.
how is it that i invited him back
into my life
when i knew for sure
that i had finally
finally
gotten rid of him.
i knew i had seen the last of him.
but somehow
i invited him back?

my hookworm.
my favorite parasite.
the father of my four
other
favorite
parasites.

i’m not getting any work done
on my art at least
i did put up beehives today…
and i am keeping house…
and reading a really good novel…
but my art is suffering

is it because of dusty?
is it because of the endless display of
rainy days?
cloudy days?
sunless days?
is it because i have used up the quota
allowed me
of creative genius?
is it because the minions are nuts?
is it because of dusty?

so this is like, what?
all of april’s artistic efforts…
this?
yes.
this is all i have to show for my ink
in april.