Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Daniel is reading the paper and passing me each half-piece of toast, thinking we're sharing. I'm licking the cinnamon off each one and passing them back. He eats them. Hasn't taken his eyes off the paper or I don't think he realizes precisely what it is that I'm doing to his toast.

Schuyler notices.



I can just make you some.

No, I'm good with this. Daniel, do you mind?

Never. (He has no idea what I'm asking.)

Clearly I married the wrong brother. (This gets his attention.)

You said that before about two brothers.

That was a mistake, Daniel. This time I know it's love.

Well, you know, there are other places we could put this stuff if you're in the licking mood.

You're gross.

As gross as Ben?

More gross.

Then you can rest easy with the choices you have made, Angelface.



Can I have that last piece?

Take it. Jesus. I can't believe I ate wet Bridget-licked toast for breakfast.

Some would call you lucky.

Bring them to me. Let me see them for myself.

No, there are only imaginary men who love my toast cast-offs.

I could probably find some real ones.

Hush, you.

Monday, 30 May 2011

I'm ready now, I'm not waiting for the afterlife.

This post is about Switchfoot, and if you haven't heard of them by now, then well firstly, WELCOME because clearly it's your first day reading my journal, and secondly go seek them out now because when their EIGHTH album drops in late summer, everyone will know who they are at last. Get in early. And now, here's a review of show number#3 for us. Because I'm a fan. A HUGE fan.

Thanks guys, it meant the world. Safe travels!


This was to be the chillin' show. At their previous Canadian shows we've done soundchecks/wristbands/meets, greets and VIPs and front rows and treats from the band like engraved picks, setlists and autographs. So this was going to be a sit-back-in-a-seat-and-enjoy show. Expect nothing.

The Reason opened the show with an amazing set. These are five guys from Hamilton with amazing beards and handsome smiles to die for and they covered Fleetwood Mac's Dreams. I am sold. They were amazing live compared to what I could find on Myspace before the show. Alas I couldn't find their CD for sale on the way out in the crush but I'll track it down today. My boys gave them standing applause. That's how good they were. We were very surprised and incredibly thrilled at how good they were. That doesn't happen often, even though I am a huge proponent of asking you to always pay attention to the openers! Always.

The lights went out. Squee.

When the rush down front took place during intermission we settled for moving house a few rows closer, still a good six, seven rows back from the front. After some encouragement I ventured down to the front but came back. Kids are so tall these days. I couldn't see. But the theater goes uphill toward the back. Score! Halfway up it is.

And it was so, so worth it.

I love these boys. The sound was perfect, the lights amazing and we got two new songs that the rest of the country didn't get. Afterlife and The War Inside, which are heavier songs with more licks and hooks than ever. Think Politicians, or even Dirty Second Hands. That kind of heavy. That kind of awesome.

I'm a seasoned veteran of all sorts of genres of concerts but Switchfoot is always a sweeter experience. They truly are the nicest guys you will ever meet and they bend over backwards to make the shows special for everyone, not just for the VIPs. Chad, Tim, Jon, Jerome and Drew are tight, solid. They give their hearts. (And Jon usually does an aftershow in a back alley or coffeeshop near the venue a few minutes after but I have yet to make it to one because kids + schoolnight = RESPONSIBLE PARENT, sigh.)

But the kids were rewarded heavily when Jon jumped offstage and waded into the crowd last night. He headed right for us, stepping into our aisle and climbed up on the seat beside Ruth. Then he jumped to the row in front and worked his way back to the stage. She was thrilled that he stepped on her foot. THRILLED. And she's met all the guys already so she's as jaded an eleven-year-old as one can be, having gone to her first Switchfoot concert at the tender age of seven. Henry? Started at five, naturally. He is nine now and rocked out as all future rockstars do, absorbing every lead and every stage move for future reference.

True to form I did not remember I was holding my camera until Jon was turning away from us. Ha. Same thing happened last time he and I spoke. Only that time I forgot my WORDS, people.

Many thanks to the Vogue Theatre and Every Eye Media for a smooth experience. Vancouver, we made a tiny but loud crowd. So tiny they invited the upper bowl down to the floor. Everyone sang. And yes, I am still a super-keyed-hyperventilating-twee-fangirl when it comes to Switchfoot. I can't help it, they make it easy for me.

The setlist:

The Sound
Needle and Haystack Life
Your Love is a Song
Hello Hurricane
Meant to Live
Afterlife (I have listened to this seven hundred times today.)
Oh! Gravity


Only Hope
The War Inside (the new favorite. Watch for the next tattoo from this song.)
Dare you to Move

(I will come back and edit the setlist when my brain wakes up.)

Saturday, 28 May 2011


This is not about the gardens.
All is not lost
All is not lost
Become who you are
It happens once in a lifetime

In this needle and haystack life
I found miracles there in your eyes
It's no accident we're here tonight
We are once in a lifetime alive
The cursory inspection of the garden and thirty-minute weed-pulling session yields a single impending bloom on the tea roses in the corner of the yard by the gate but a much better spread of buds on the new roses that I planted all along the wall, looking to maybe erupt the first of next week if it warms up a little. The lilacs seem finished for now, the other shrubs are greening in and the grapevines have silver-dollar leaves at last. They definitely don't like the cold mornings, unlike the weeds. In the front gardens absolutely everything is blooming and the ivy is growing like mad. Figures. Last year it was the other way around. Do gardens take turns? They must.

There is one rogue tomato plant coming up from where I grew fantastic heirloom tomatoes last year only to see the squirrels abscond with them when they were finished stealing all of the grapes. Bah. I'm going to let it grow. If it looks hearty enough I will go get netting, maybe a padlock and a shotgun and I'll sit in the shady part of the yard guarding it from the freeloading, fur-covered neighbors in the woods.

Or maybe I'll blow out all the windows on the back of the house to get someone's attention.

Things are changing. Again. I don't like change, but I gather you know that. In the twelve months we have been here I bought a few plants and I painted the teeny-tiny guest bathroom and yes, that's it. August moved out and I made him come back. Because I hate change. Nothing ever looks familiar, nothing feels familiar, I don't know anything anymore and it's so much more difficult than I thought it would be. Gone is the resiliency of the daughter of the midway, replete with the blanket I knew so well overnight and the ocean in the morning. Gone is any sort of habit, routine or cognizant sight short of the faces but those all grow older so they change almost daily.

It's hard. It's hard to be settled but not know the street names. I can't tell you how to get to my house from four blocks away. I don't know where to get a watch battery save for that place in the valley that seemed so capable but isn't convenient, even though I will tell you I found a place, so proud of myself, I am. I don't know why there aren't more beach days and less of everything else and I don't do well with news. Because in the end everything always turns out okay but still my brain wants to go to all the awful what-ifs or oh-noes before I can even wrap it around the positive side of something.

And I'm aware that I do this and frustrated by it to no end. The other day I looked into the sea and she refused to keep my secrets, pushing me away, a stranger with no claim to know her so well as to assume she would take my thoughts and keep them safe.

Her sister Atlantic would never do such a thing. I scolded her and she laughed.

She laughed.

Friday, 27 May 2011


If you could feel my fire reach for you
flames draw high out to you
streetlight shines through my window,
it trembles for you
take my heart, there you go.
He never listened to anything much harder than Tool, and tends to look vaguely pained when I twist up Sepultura or Motorhead, squinces a little for Breaking Benjamin and kind of wonders aloud where he went wrong in raising me when Type O Negative pounds a steady beat through my skull.

He tried.

He drew on what I was born listening to-The Eagles, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, CCR, and then when I was more sophisticated (at a whole ten years old), he and Caleb began to feed me a steady diet of Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Queen.

You can blame Lochlan for my musical quirks. He sings new songs or plays them in the truck until I follow him around begging for the artist name or even title and then off I go to memorize the words. Like my intense love for all things Switchfoot. Like Toto's song Africa. Like for this freakish new attachment to The Midway State's Atlantic.

(Such a tiny pleaser, if you will but loathe to let anything new slip past her because don't forget her hearing is set to a timer that is counting down the precious years left. She is still working away diligently filling up her head with the most poignant music she can find, be it hard OR soft. She doesn't care, though she is very specific if she doesn't like something, and incredibly possessive if she does. So every band she loves is her favorite and every song she likes is the Best Song In the Universe.)

Little changes decades later. He is even still characteristically pissed at me every time I mention the 'terrible' circus portion of my upbringing in public. Which is funny because it wasn't terrible. Well, most of it wasn't but now when he grates against my personality landmines or intensive shortcomings it's never clear who he is more disappointed in, me or himself.

He beams with pride when I do something well, or something surprising, but he is the most impatient teacher when it comes to reiterating things I can't retain at all because I don't really care. Why work at swimming long distances when I can put my arms around his neck and get a lift into shore? Smooth shifting in a standard? Never going to happen. Why get street directions when I can just wait for him to take me there and then I have my favorite company along for the ride? Survive a day without trying to stick myself to him like a barnacle when he's very very busy? Nope. Give up already.

Failure is not an option. Now turn up the music and just pretend I'm not even here, okay? Well, maybe just move over a little bit. Yup. There.

Thursday, 26 May 2011


I wrote cheques for yearbooks today, following cheques written for field trips, school supplies and the dentist. We didn't order yearbooks last year, since the kids had only been in their new school for a couple of weeks when the order forms came home.

Now they are firmly entrenched: band, track & field, floor hockey, french club, and fistfights in the schoolyard at lunchtime (well, Henry anyway, but the good (okay, well not so good) part is he took the punch. He did not throw the punch. I know, surprise!). They eat pears while they mentor the younger grades and they plan afternoons at friends' homes without asking first, leaving me scrambling to find addresses, moms and good pick-up times. They have learned chess, and not just basic chess but kick-ass chess. They have worked their way through all of the clothes we bought in the fall, every bottle of sunscreen and band-aid in the house and all of the food the boys didn't finish yet. I can no longer keep up. With anything.

Suddenly classmate crushes, puberty, Katy Perry and Warcraft have replaced Bugs Bunny, Lego and the biggest thrill in life being fresh blueberry muffins when they get home from school. They regularly steal any headphones they can find and disappear with our devices to listen to music on Youtube. Thank God for 6gb data plans.

Who in the hell are these teenagers and what have they done with my children?

They want me to watch TV with them but leave them alone too. They don't want to be nagged to check for cars or to wear their jackets. They want to go up the hill for slices of pizza or candy at the store but they don't want me along (yes). They want to watch the Saw movies (no). They want to ride bikes in the rain but they don't want to walk the dog or put away their laundry or set the table. They still want their allowance for the chores they don't do, and they want to spend it the moment we step inside the doors of the shopping center. On junk. Chocolate bars, video games, Hello Kitty stuffed toys.

They are all over the place with feelings, fashion and personality and every now and then I get a glimpse of the younger child they used to be along with a preview of the adult they will be in the not-so-distant-any-longer future. It's exciting and a little scary and a wonderful welcome distraction for all of us.

It's really weird too. I keep looking at them and seeing how violently different their lives are from mine when I was that age, and I thank my lucky stars that we are in this place where their biggest complaints are that they have nothing to do.

They are typical. Healthy, privileged, stimulated, active, responsible, caring and adventurous too. Everything I wanted, everything I could have hoped for and more.

(I know you must be so irritated that I'm not currently telling you anything remotely dramatic. Kiss my ass.)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

(Bear with me, here. I need to drop out of order for a spell. The upside for you is getting to find out what happened, or didn't happen, as it were.)
Don't act like an angel
You've fallen again
You're no superhero
I found in the end

So lie to me once again
And tell me everything will be alright
Lie to me once again
And ask yourself before we say goodbye
Well goodbye, was it worth it in the end?
He even used the word.


What the fuck, are we spies now? And please please please pinch me. This is not what I hoped for and I'm not even going to make stabs at sanity anymore. I have the meat hammer out and I've beaten it to a pulp. So excuse me if I don't reply to your fucking emails and excuse me if I get all of this out of order. I still can't feel my eyes.

The 'intel' Caleb gathered (motherfucker) was that he was living in a tiny outpost, fishing and looking after a church without a congregation, and that he does not speak when spoken to, only growls at those who come too close, and that for purposes of mail, whiskey and food deliveries he goes by Thom Finn.

Because Jacob Thomas Finnian Reilly would have been obvious.

And if you've been paid off no one cares, you're still perpetuating a fraud and you still can't just check out in this day and age, even though if anyone ever was good at that it was Jake, who traveled the world for months and years at a time and is somehow adept at existing on nothing.

Maybe you get what you wish for. Especially when there are children involved. Ones that cry for you night after night. What a risk. What an asshole. So many nights I wanted to drag that razor right across my life and cut off the access to it and that would be it. Somehow I didn't and this is such a bad joke. Such a bad time.

I found the church first. An old man was painting the railings and I went past him and tried the door and it was locked. So I kicked it in because I swear only the bolt was holding the outside from the inside. The old man started yelling but I couldn't hear him and Ben managed to tell him it was an emergency. I don't think Ben's hands have stopped shaking since Toronto. That was around the time I stopped speaking.

The old man points down the hill further. On the water side, there's a tiny little white house. I don't even think it's a house. I thought it was a storage shed for lobster fishermen or something. There are hundreds of them here. That one isn't with the others.

I take off in a run. Fuck the rental. Fuck everything. I know he will be there. Halfway there I can't run anymore. My side has a stitch. I'm coughing. Ben catches up and tries to somehow lend support. He pushes a water bottle in my face and holds me still. I take a drink and then he motions that we go. There are no last minute instructions, there's no comfort I can give to him.

I am at the door now, it is weathered and unmarked.

And I don't even bother knocking, I just grab the knob and push.

Inside is a man sitting at a table fixing nets. But it isn't Jake and I don't know who it is and I ask him for Thom, and then I ask him for Jacob and he just shrugs and I ask him if he's blind and can't he talk out loud but Ben is pulling me back out and he pulls me all the way back up the hill to the truck and I am fighting him and crying and trying to get away. It must have looked amazing. City people.

Maybe she's being kidnapped.

Yeah, well, maybe she just lost her mind. Along with someone she loves so much it still hurts.

I tore that village upside down and I didn't find my Jake. I tore the neighboring ones up too and I went to places that looked like they might be places Jacob would go and I went to places that were nothing like places he would go, just in case and then Ben pulled me up the steps and onto the plane and we were home. Home where Caleb's lies unraveled once again, sending me in a different direction. Lochlan wasn't Ruth's father. Maybe Jacob isn't real anymore. Maybe I have become the game, and I don't like it. Not one bit.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Forty-eight hour vacations require forty-eight hour adventures. See you Tuesday afternoon!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Lead-lined lip gloss.

This morning sees Bridget poking one little black-stockinged foot out from inside her black cloud, testing the temperature, seeing if the fabric of the sky might hold her after a week of sunshine drove her inside in all her pink-tinged, sunburnt glory. Overwhelm choked off the smile and she frowned, retreating to the curtain from where she peeks out now, unsure, hesitant.

I see you.

You don't see me.

Oh, yes I do.

Well then what do I look like?

Like a beautiful scowl with legs.

Dammit, you do see me.

I told you so.

Stop looking!

But still she smiles slightly. A little light escapes from around the curtain itself, spilling into the black, turning it shades of saturated, nuclear grey. The smile threatens from behind the facade of grumpy, bringing hope and possibilities to petulant nonsense, the stuff of invisible problems and wow, to be in her shoes proclamations. She takes it to heart. All of it. Every last thing.

Her heart is huge and fractioned now, crammed full, up to the rafters. More space needs to be rented but nothing is suitable and so they turn and press their backs up against the bulk, pushing with their legs, shoving it in and then slamming the doors tightly, the lock threatening to burst open, bending metal, straining bolts until the squeeze liquifies solids and they begin to run down her sleeves. She wipes her little hands on her cloud and pretends she can't see her heart but it's there, and boy does that ever bring relief on a dark rainy day like today.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Red for the clown.

Sweetheart, sweetheart are you fast asleep? Good.
'Cause that's the only time that I can really speak to you.
And there is something that I've locked away
A memory that is too painful
To withstand the light of day.
Sitting on the edge of the cliff, the wind roaring through my head, it occurs to me that my lipstick, bright red for a fresh change, is not grabbing the long curling tendrils that have already worked their way loose from my ponytail like the candy-pink lipgloss usually does. But the mascara is hurting my brain. Due to an incredibly busy day on Ben's part, I'm only going to get about another twenty-minutes to see him today and I want to make that event a little nicer than the twenty-minutes we had this morning, me in my dog-walking clothes from yesterday, complete with the most incredible bed head you've possibly ever seen. He might have been horrified when he left, that's how amazing my hair was, but don't ask him about it because he is too busy to tell you one way or another anyway. He will not work on Victoria's birthday and I am looking forward to that with the uncanny grasp of someone swinging a thousand feet in the air without a net but only a hand up.

I am alternating between watching the sea and watching Lochlan practice. Take away this house and we would be circa 1984 right this moment. My stomach rumbles, and I have to look away every six minutes or so when the black dots start to dance in my eyes because the sun is directly behind him.

He is working on his farmer's tan. He won't ditch his shirt until the bitter end of this afternoon and then his pale Scottish skin will reflect the light like a mirror until at least mid-June. Then he will change, almost overnight into a toasted Virgo with blonde curls instead of red. I believe he might be the only shape-shifter in the group, come to think of it, and that's okay too. He looks good in his summer form. It's what I am used to most, I think.

He is using five batons now and I can feel the heat on the back of my head but I am afraid to look up in case he drops one on me and I burn to a little crisp on contact.

But he won't drop any. The second time he ever picked them up he dropped one and then he collected the errant one, said something to the effect of, oh, that's it, then and never made a mistake ever again.

I'm sure PJ and Daniel and Duncan, Gage, August and maybe New-Jake are all standing up in the kitchen at the window swearing blue streaks and cringing at this but someday maybe they'll stop that. Someday they will be used to it like I am. There's just such a huge gap between the show days and the now that this is still an incredible treat and it never bothers me that he practices right over my head. I was never allowed to stray very far from him, always sitting in front of him and a little to the right, so he could keep an eye on me while I daydreamed off steep ledges and into forbidden places, places where Lochlan's fire did little to push back the shadows.

It works now, mind you, but now is clearly too late.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Louis Vuitton at the thrift store.

(In spite of all of the changes in the past year financially, I still have an anticonsumerist (and minimalist) streak a mile wide.)

I popped into a few vintage, antique and thrift shops on my travels today. The only thing I bought was a set of teeny-tiny feng-sheeshish (NEW WORD) wooden primitive celestial mirrors for the children's bathroom upstairs and a honey pot. No, really. It's a little ceramic pot with a matching lid and the lid has a built-in honey dripper. It's perfect for when Ben and I have our late-evening tea and then I am forever not having to deal with sticky jars of honey from the cupboard.

But that isn't the cool part.

Oh no, the cool part was the Louis Vuitton handbag at the thrift store. That was freaking amazing. It was a black Multicolore Alma satchel, I believe. I don't even know what they retail for, I've never had the guts to actually go in to the store all the way. I like to loiter in the vestibule an awful lot though. In case I wind up liking something that costs more than my car, I should just stay out. Besides, I have issues with paying what things are worth, and that is why I top out at $25 for a lipgloss and $300 for a handbag. Not three thousand. Holy sweet Jesus.

I can't even believe I said that but in all honesty, I am not the one buying the handbags for myself. Ben is buying them for me, because he says I have spent enough years without anything nice. I'm sure that's a massive slight against the other boys I have dated/married/killed/maimed, but really the bags are SO PRETTY.

(The $25 gloss was a huge mistake anyway. It dried out my lips. FAIL.)

But anyways, there I am, perusing the shelves of goodies and I saw the Multicolore and I snatched it off the shelf and sort of squeeged a little but then I realized the condition of it was terrible. It was ruined, all of the piping broken, a huge hole in one corner and the inside lining was shredded. But it seemed to be real and I thought, maybe I should get it and then send it back to LV to have it repaired. Then I got with the program. Probably fake. How would *I* know? I don't know anything. I passed it to Daniel wordlessly. Daniel will know these things. He's gay! It's on the test!

Daniel's eyebrows went up to the roof and then beyond. Oh, Bridget, what do you have here?

I have no idea. Is it real?

I think it is. Just in case we should get it.

It's destroyed.

I'd carry a battered Louis Vuitton any day.

Then you buy it and it can be your manbag.

In the end we opted to leave it in the store. As far as I know it's still there, and if it's real someone gets a treat, if it's fake then someone got their money's worth! In any case, I was thrilled with my mirrors and the pot and I spent a whole $6.50.


A postscript to last night: I did not 'attack' my brother-in-law, I merely possibly lunged in his direction and Duncan was anticipating my every move so basically I was thwarted before I could even put together in my mind the damage I might do, which would be none at all. Caleb works out, I do not. I cannot high-five people so that they feel it. You only think I'm kidding.

I acted out of frustration. I don't get mad easily, and this was going too far. Don't think he didn't keep and then trot out that painting on purpose, oh no. Caleb is measuring out his revenge on me piecemeal. The only reason I was even there was because he invoked some clause in our custody arrangement that requires us to pre-approve the environments in which the children will be spending time in advance. I didn't think painting a room and moving some furniture qualified as a new environment but I am not the lawyer. I do have it duly written in my notes for when I do see my lawyer next so no worries.

And Ben brought the painting home with him last night. He asked Caleb very carefully if Caleb had any more pictures/paintings/surprises/bullshit to throw at me and Caleb, not surprisingly, said no. What, is he going to say yes with Ben breathing down his neck? I doubt it.

This is one piece I am happy to have. I don't have a place chosen for it to hang, however. PJ said he would like it for his bathroom. I said I was tired of being shit on. He said he would put it in the shower then. I didn't get that for just long enough to spent the entire rest of the evening at the wrong end of most of the jokes, just so you know. PJ is gross like that.

But she's back.

I'm back.


Wednesday, 18 May 2011


It was an elaborate typeface and I stood in the dark, in the wind outside of a sticking wooden door and read the label over and over and over again. Fitting, I thought. Serves me right. There was no bravery to be had here in this place, no courage to uncover, no rest for my wickedness. No pansies growing on the hill and no rain visible until I realized I was soaked right through. Just the wind, it never ever stopped and it forced me back inside my head because I couldn't hear him and that drove him into an unfathomable rage.

The door clattered open, Cole having shoved it hard from the inside. I wonder if he even realized how close I had been standing, for the edge of it grazed my nose and my toes as it flew open and smashed against the weathered clapboards. He stood in veritable darkness, a lantern in one hand.

Could you find it?

Yes, here. I passed him the bottle. He read the label and passed it back to me with a dark smile. He is exhausted and driven. He has been here at the shore house for nights and nights painting with no food and no rest.

Nice job, fidget. I'm going to finish cleaning up and then we'll celebrate. He pulled me into the dark with him and then reached back and pulled the door shut hard. My world is dark, save for the light he carries in his hands, and I follow him up the steps slowly to the second floor when he keeps the brightest room as his studio.

This painting was commissioned and constitutes the most money we have ever had and so I was instructed to go to the store and choose a nice wine from somewhere off the continent. I am anxious, the buyer was incredibly specific and demanding and Cole has been sending sketches regularly since the first of the year, now the summer is almost over and if all goes well we will be able to pay for the beach house and still have enough to get through what is generally a tight autumn. If not, then I guess Cole moves toward the shadows and I step into Caleb's focus. Either way we will manage the bill whether Cole prostitutes himself for his client or I do for his brother. Either way I somehow continue to count my own worth in dollars and cents.

Two more lanterns are burning in the studio. The power has been out for almost an hour. Cole turns after setting down the lantern he had been carrying and smiles wide. I am staring at the flame contained within the glass instead. I don't like this place at night. Odd, since I adore this house in the mornings right up until the shadows grow long and the traffic dies down and the birds begin their evening song and then the homesickness settles over me. Coupled with the storm tonight it seems as if the dark will never end.

He touches my hand, placing a full glass in it. I am staring at the red liquid now, reflecting nothing. Wine makes me sick but Cole is a poor artist and we can't afford any more than this yet. First the painting will be delivered and then the cheque will come, with a handwritten note on very good stationery tucked into an envelope that probably costs more than our wine.

He takes his own glass and raises it against mine.

To change.

To change. I take a sip. He drinks half the glass. He puts it down and then takes mine too. Are you ready?


He pulls me over in front of the canvas and grabs the lantern, holding it high. It will look different in natural light, he cautions.

I am stunned. This is easily his best work and now I understand how his madness complements his efforts. How he is driven. We would lie in bed and he would describe what he wanted to achieve on a canvas or in a photograph but rarely could he translate it sufficiently in practice. Rarely was he pleased. Tonight was an exception, indeed. Only it wasn't what I was expecting.


You like it?

I can't even believe it.

But do you like it?

I love it. But, this isn't what he asked for, is it?

No, that one is on the table. This one I did for you.

We can keep it?

You can do whatever you want with it. He laughed and finished his wine in one long swallow. Except don't give it away. The laughter drained out of his face. I made this for you, Bridget. Don't give it to anyone.

I won't.

Promise me.

I promise.

A week later we were home from the rental and still unpacking. The cheque had been delivered by courier, too large to put into the mail, and no sooner had the courier left the driveway of the beach house then we were running out the front door with our suitcases and the easel and the half-empty basket of pears we had picked from the trees in the front yard of the house. We arrived home, threw our belongings in the front door and rushed down to the bank to deposit the cheque before closing time.

The whole week I had been waiting for Cole to unpack his paintings and I figured out a nice spot on the wall for mine, somewhere between two others, since we were seriously out of wall real estate but perhaps we could relegate some less-important works to other areas. My painting would have a place of honor.

I finally went looking for it but in thumbing through the works standing up against the wall in his home studio, I realized it wasn't there. I asked him about it and he shook his head, not speaking, and I knew better than to keep bothering him when he was working. I would ask later, maybe, eventually he would volunteer the answer.

He did not.

I figured it out this morning as I stood in Caleb's library, finally finished the transformation from austere masculine office with the dark walls and expensive furniture into a lighter, more friendly place with comfy furniture placed in the center of the room conversation-style, and new custom built bookshelves across two walls. The huge monolith of a desk is gone, the filing cabinets replaced with pull-out drawers under the shelves, a huge nubby area rug for the kids to stretch out on and read his prized second editions of Treasure Island and Stuart Little when the mood strikes them. Large floor lamps and light-diffusing blinds round it out, as does new artwork on the walls.

Like my painting.

MY Painting, the one Cole made for me, of me, fifteen years ago. A painting that should have been returned when all of the photographs and other works came back to me but it wasn't.

Why did Cole give that to you?

Give what? Oh, the painting of you? I asked for it.


When? Jesus, probably fifteen or thirteen years ago, I don't remember exactly. Why?

Did he say no and you talked him into it?

Bridget, what is wrong with you?

It's mine. He made it for me. It was supposed to be for me and he told me not to give it away and then he gives it to you? Why would he do that?

Caleb lets his head roll around his shoulders as if he has an ache in his neck, as if he is reasoning slowly and simply, with a child.

I don't know, Bridget. Maybe Cole had a bad habit of giving away everything that was precious to him with little persuasion. I mean, look at you.

There would be more to this story but Duncan had to pick me up and carry me out of the condo over his shoulder. I was going for Caleb's heart. It's the weakest part, after all.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Shhhh. Someone is sleeping. With a bunneh.

Me. Haha. Hahahahahaha.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Cake people.


You have to say it real slow, like in Practical Magic when Nicole Kidman's character Jilly is describing her new boyfriend to Sandra Bullock's Sally. Jimmy. Jimmy Annnnnnngelov.

Only Gage is no vampire cowboy, and yes, this is a fine time to point out there don't seem to be any Steves, Bills or Eds in my collective.

Hello no. We are children of the seventies, and our parents were determined to be different. It could be worse, I went to school with a lot of flowers, but instead my gypsy parents rebelled and named me after a French movie star and an Irish Saint (equally says mom), (hell no, it was the french starlet only, says dad).

Gage is Schuyler's brother (okay half-brother but good enough for me).

It all makes sense now, doesn't it?

Gage is here and I don't seem to have space for him, which is um, a new issue. Updates to follow as I think of something.

Update as promised: Gage gets the CAMPER. What a lucky duck. I would live in the camper but then everyone would complain and accuse me of living in the past blahblahblah. Snort. We actually had decided on him staying on the futon in Daniel and Schuy's living room but then Gage asked why there was a perfectly good house in the driveway and Lochlan said it was his to enjoy if he wanted it. Everyone is settled at last, just in time for sunset.


Yesterday while driving to get Thai food, we passed a cupcake shop. One of many we have seen and tried, which led to an interesting discussion on just how viable all of these cupcake shops are, considering we had no interest in returning to any of them, honestly. We're used to very good full-on cake or very bad cake sometimes too. Trendy designer cupcakes are interesting but the storebought (or boutique-bought ones, as it were) are generally too rich for my blood sugar and my wallet, sadly. They aren't worth the toothache for the price, in other words and in pointing out my curiosity at how they stay in business, Ben pointed out that someone is always having a birthday.

But what if they aren't?

What do you mean? It's always somebody's birthday.

But what if it isn't? What if there was one day that no one was ever born on?

There's multiple babies born every minute, Bridget.

Imagine though! The day no one was born. The darkest day that no one celebrates.

What would you do, then?

I would buy cupcakes just because and we would celebrate Happy Nobirthdays.

That's very emo of you, sweetheart.

Maybe they could make black cupcakes with black icing!


YES. Maybe with tiny white-icing filigree. Something really pretty. Because no one deserves it. And still the day needs something. Something to mark it as different.


You're just so stunned at my idea, you don't even know what to say, right?

Yeah, that's exactly right.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The room at the end of the hall.

It's a tiny room, overall. It's where Nolan stays when he visits and my parents stay there too. A room bathed in full light, looking out toward the rose bushes and the evening sunset. It has no closet but a brand new bed and there is a hutch for storage that came with the house and they offered to take it when I called to complain to the realtor that a lot of things were still here but I said I would keep the hutch, just nothing else.

(I should have gotten them to take the stupid cans of hot pink primer paint with them from where the basement was finished. Yes, full-on magenta. The walls are beige, luckily enough. The cans are full, they clearly bought too much. I'll have to ask where I can dispose of it the next time we go to the hardware store. Currently I don't like hardware stores still, they remind me of the castle and so the hot pink paint sits in a box near the tools, in the laundry room. Because the laundry room is easily as large as the living room, and it's virtually empty. I think it would make a great workshop once we replace the floor with tile and put in cupboards. Oo! Derail.)

The little room at the end of the hall is now known as New Jake's room. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when company comes next. I am officially out of space.

He drove up from God knows where on that gorgeous old motorcycle, without a map or a plan or letting anyone know where he was. He said the weather mostly sucked but the roads were good and his entire worldly possessions fit in a backpack and a couple of leather saddlebags strapped to the back of the bike.

He's going to stay on indefinitely. He said he felt like he was coming home. We are happy to have him. Or have him back, as it were. I didn't think we would ever see him again, truthfully, but he kept his promise and here he is.

Talking up a storm already.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Oh, sweet magnificent surprise.

Eighteen weeks of absolutely hardly anything and guess who just pulled into my driveway on a schweet vintage Sunbeam?

The talker, that's who.
(I was given legs and I ran and ran until I become tired of that, and I stopped to consider the line in the sand, frosted glass mixed with seaweed, left behind from high tide, a trail of glass breadcrumbs to show me the way home.

I tried to hide my scales with pretty dresses. I tried to keep my long hair tied up so it would be so much less obvious. I deferred at pearls and chose diamonds to fit in. I exhaled in long hot bubble baths where I could lock the door and return to my true form.

I ate cod with a straight face and refused calamari with a laugh. I flung starfish into the air to simulate the sky above and only I could hear their squeals of glee from the ride.

I made a valiant attempt to be human, and yet it's clearly obvious I am not, distracted by the shoreline and the waves on a whim, measuring days in terms of tides instead of hours. Breathing the deep cool water beneath the waves. Enduring the silence of a thousand sunken ships. Being whole.)

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

To you.

When he arrived back at the camper he had a large cardboard box in his arms. I was already stressed. It was dark. I didn't know how to light the lantern, he never let me touch it and I wasn't allowed to remain outside if he wasn't handy. It wasn't often that we were apart so late in the evening but Lochlan had been recruited reluctantly to help break down a temperamental, rusty structure. The rain had finally let up after four days and we were pulling up stakes tomorrow. An unholy mess at this point. Everyone was demoralized and exhausted.

Um..okay, just turn around and close your eyes.

I can't see, it's okay.

Just do it, Bridge.

I put my hands over my eyes and began to sing. He laughed and asked me if I was peeking so I turned away and put my back to him to prove I wasn't looking.

He crashed around for a good seven, eight minutes and boy, did I ever get tired standing there listening to my stomach growl. It was my thirteenth birthday, well, for another three hours at least.

It's ready. You can look now.

I turned around slowly and opened my eyes. Lochlan had lit a candle. A single white taper but we didn't have any candle holders so he jammed it down into the center of the potted ivy plant I set outside the camper every morning in the sun and brought in every evening at dusk. Lochlan regularly emptied the last drops of his beer into it and still it persisted, sort of like we did.

He had found a small white tablecloth to cover the drop leaf table and real plates! Real china plates were on the table. On the counter was a bag that I could smell before he told me to open my eyes. Chinese take out. And a big cold bottle of Dr. Pepper and something else. A bundle wrapped in a cloth that I couldn't identify at all. Maybe his laundry. Sometimes he took it and hung it on the line behind the poker game tents to dry.

He grinned.

Happy birthday, little lady.

I smiled back. Huge. I counted four boxes of take-out. My stomach groaned at the delay.

Thank you.

A speech before we eat?

No, after. Starved.

He laughed again and pulled my chair out. I sat down and he brought over the bag and took everything out. Sweet and sour chicken. Fried rice. Chow mein. Two egg rolls. Two fortune cookies. A feast! He poured us each a tall glass of Dr. Pepper and began to dish up the food. We ate and drank and laughed until all of the food was gone as he described the men's jokes as they fought to pry the bolts loose earlier to dismantle the ride and failed at so many the torches were brought in. The jokes were crass and nasty. Carnival humor. There is no room for delicate sensibilities or offense in a place such as this. There's very little room for newly-thirteen year old girls either. But out of two different sorts of desperation I had been accepted into the fold, into the gypsy family and mostly I felt at home.

I laughed when Lochlan laughed and acted outraged when he did. And then I burped really loud and he laughed so hard he almost fell off his chair.

That was beautiful. Here, birthday girl. What's your fortune?

"You create your own stage and your audience is waiting."

Uncanny. Mine: "Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence." (He would later have this Mencken quote tattooed from shoulder to wrist.)

That's beautiful. And true.

And how. And I have another surprise for you, Bridget.

I am too stuffed for surprises now.

Not this one.

He went back to the counter and took the bundle and brought it carefully to the table. He unwrapped it slowly and then I realized why as he removed the last sheets of plastic only to be confronted with a final toothpick defense which he quickly removed, using a plastic spoon to smooth away the tiny holes. One that he licked clean first.

A cake. Chocolate cake with chocolate icing. That he made.

For me.

For my birthday. Still warm, which meant that he hadn't been tearing down machinery in the dwindling rain and light. He had been baking. Baking! My eyes filled up. He pointed out he did help tear down the machinery and then they let him off early so he could get the cake done. And then he went back out in the rain while it baked but kept such a close eye on his watch that they began to tease him for it. He sang Happy Birthday to me quite seriously. It would be the first time.

Later on, after I was so full I moved slower than usual, I sacked out on the bed, the sugar high taking over, fatigue not far behind. Best night of my life.

There's more.

I can't eat anymore. I might die.

It's not food.

I'm surprised. We must have had a better week than I realized. I am slurring sleep into our conversation. What is it?

A trip.

A trip? Different show or new one?

Not a show, a trip. Just you and me. We'll get away from it all. He laughed at the cheesiness of his own words. We were perpetually away from it all. The circus was an imaginary landscape, life in costume distilled into a freakshow and a high-wire act, punctuated with his batons, lighting the night on fire, outshining the stars.

Where will we go?

That's the best part, Bridget. It doesn't matter. The whole world is ours.

Monday, 9 May 2011


No one keeps a secret so well as a child.
~Victor Hugo
I was on my second cup of tea, rocking slowly back and forth in the chair that Jacob kept on his back balcony, overlooking the sand below. I wasn't supposed to be here, the balcony is only accessible through the bedroom, but he said the rocker was left by the previous owner, and he found it the best vantage point from which to watch the water and talk. Later on he would tell me that I was the only person other than himself to go out there the entire time he lived in the beach house, thus admitting he really did spend as much time talking to himself as I always suspected.

Maybe I should take you home.

Maybe I should just wait for a bit. This is really nice, Jake.

. He was non-committal. Something was on his mind and I was patient. I knew him well-enough by now to wait for him to say it, that he would eventually. Somehow we did better with brutal honestly, talking deeper, just knowing things would hurt or bring relief through the words. He's one of the few who really treat the words with the gravity and reverence they deserve.

Tell me about him, Bridget.

Him who?

Cole's brother.


Caleb showed up around ten last night. Schuyler met him at the front door and pointed out Henry and Ruth were long asleep, maybe he should wait until tomorrow. The warning came swiftly when he opened his mouth, slurring out a request to see me.

Schuyler went and let Ben know but Lochlan beat them both back to the front door, able to sense tension in the house, highly affected by it and unable to do anything much until it's resolved. He picked the wrong house to live in, clearly. He's a superhero without a plan. I don't know what he is aside from being classified as perpetually in the throes of a midlife crisis that's been going on since he was sixteen years old. I watch and wait, fascinated by his intensity toward what he loves and positively astounded by his careless attitudes toward everything else.

Caleb wasn't interested in Lochlan's misdirected apathy. He told him to go away, that he was here to see me.

Lochlan shook his head, not saying a word. He wasn't going to move. Ben appeared from downstairs and headed for the front door, unimpressed. The whole time I am standing in the alcove between the kitchen and the hallway asking them what's going on. I grabbed at Ben's hand as he walked past me, but instead he threw a command over his shoulder.

You stay put.

I crept to the far end of the front hall but I still couldn't hear anything so I went up to the staircase and cracked open one of the windows over the verandah instead. I peered down. Caleb is pacing on the brightly lit walkway below. As he turns to come back he overcorrects, weaving. This is an effort, this decorum. I don't even understand how he got here or why he's loaded out of the blue like this but I am severely unnerved. He rarely does this. Very, very rarely.

The roar came out of nowhere and I flinched.


I put my head down against the wall and closed my eyes. I could be anywhere right now, I can hide in plain sight inside my head just like I have always done with Caleb. But his voice keeps pulling me back to the task at hand. I can hear Ben's soft words but I can't make out what he's saying and Caleb keeps interrupting him anyway.

I can also feel the footfalls as Ben is joined on the verandah by the others, having made their way from different parts of the house. I know when they are all outside, the vibrations stop. Everything is still again and I know this army is ready, at the gate. This is what they do.


I am reluctant, mildly evasive, insolent. Jacob picks up on this immediately.

What happened to him?

He went away. Moved away. He lives in Toronto now, he's a CFO. Self-made millionaire asshole.

Does he contact you?

He hasn't for a long time.


It is. I get up and cross to the rail. I'm watching the icy teal saltwater break in waves onto the wet sand. Night has fallen on the shoreline and the beach is deserted. The wind is warm against my skin but I am chilled and unable to understand why I lied about something that was so long ago but it's been beaten into my head since forever that I am not allowed to tell people. If I tell anyone everything will change. I finish my wine in one gulp.


For the first time in my life I watch as Caleb makes a mistake.

She was mine. Did he tell you that? SHE. WAS. MINE. Did she tell you she ran away from him and came to me? She wanted to be with ME. Not with him. Not with anyone else. ME.

I have put my hands up over my ears now, squeezing my eyes shut tight but his voice infiltrates my senses and takes over. He is screaming my name now. I can hear footsteps on the steps and on the concrete. Struggling sounds. They're going to make him stop before the neighbors call the police. He is lying. Can they take him to jail for lying?


What in the hell went on between you two, Bridget?

Jake is pacing behind the kitchen chair where I sit, my hands wrapped around a glass of brandy that he poured for me after yet another series of presumptive invitations from Caleb to me were delivered in the mail. So formal, Caleb is. Engraved invitations to a party for two. He does not care that I have moved on. Cole's death was license for him to return in his truest form of evil. I thought this would be over but according to him it is just beginning. Nothing has been resolved. The past crowds into the present and threatens to smother the future.

Nothing could go on, Jacob. I was twelve years old. Jesus. The lies keep on coming. I learned from the best.


When I stop shaking and take my hands away from my ears the yelling is directly below me now. Inside the house. Listening very carefully I can pick out Ben, Lochlan, PJ, Christian, Andrew, Duncan. Lochlan is deflecting the questions they fire at him. No one's going to give us any leeway or any breathing space on this ever again.

Then I realize his resolve is holding. This is the only thing he cares about. Me. Us. Our memories. Maybe our secrets are safe after all.

I didn't think it would turn out like this. I never thought I would get this far from Caleb, almost home free. A child's dream, just like the one I had of living in a pink castle made entirely of cotton candy, complete with a midway at my disposal all day long, and a circus scrubbed and shining of her inevitable dark and seedy underpinnings. Light in dark places, with my knights at the ready.

Okay, so maybe that one last part came true.


What do you want from her? Jacob roars in Caleb's face. They are nose to nose, for Jacob has Caleb several inches off the ground and pinned to the wall. It hurts, I know it hurts, I can see it all over Caleb's face but only because I am the only one who knows what the devil looks like in pain.

I want her to tell the truth.

What truth?

I am shaking my head, horrified that they are doing this. Terrified that Caleb is going to ruin everything but he isn't that insane. If he takes Lochlan down then he goes down too. Nobody wins, he'll never get close to me again. He isn't going to risk that but I'm not so sure anymore.

That what Lochlan did was just as bad. And that I mean something to her.

Yeah, you do. You're her nightmare.

Jacob lets go and Caleb drops to the floor on his knees. Jacob storms across the room, grabbing me by the hand and we leave. I look over my shoulder but it's apparent that Caleb has given up, for now. He'll only go so far and somehow I realize that he's as stuck as I am, as Lochlan is, the three of us locked into a secret history that no one is willing to blow the lid off.

I am flooded with relief and I wonder how long it will hold. Jacob looks at me and my expression is vacant, lost in thought, overwhelmed. He thinks I have gone into shock and he panics. He pulls me roughly against his shoulder, tightly in his arm and takes out his phone. I forget who he called, I just remember eventually falling asleep in his arms while we waited. And I remember thinking nothing bad would ever happen again. I never expected the army to remain so close.


Ben finds me sitting on the second step from the top, arms wrapped around my knees, rocking like I did in the chair on Jacob's balcony before the past came back in a rush to destroy everything we have built since.

I looked up into his face, my eyes burning, tears eroding a path down each cheek. Unable to pull myself together, I bring my hands up to cover my face.

I'm so sorry, Benny. It was a whisper.

He put his arm around me, pulling me off the step and into his lap and he wrapped both arms around me, compressing me against his chest. Kissing my cheeks, ears, the top of my head.

I don't care, bee. I don't fucking care what happened, I don't care what's in the past, I don't care who you were with or what you felt or what you did. I love you. No matter what happens. I love you now.

That last part is still reverberating through my brain. I love you now.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Solar coaster.

Saw you crucify your mind
Your soul left unsung
Heard you death-defy your eyes
Saw you crawl inside the blind
He was walking up the beach toward the house when I arrived. Shirt flapping in the wind, the huge smile showing every last one of his big white chiclet teeth. Hair blowing all over. When he saw me he quickened his pace and I ran down to him because I didn't feel like taking my time.

What do you think?

It's nice. I'm always amazed at the pine trees, the cedars, in proximity to the shore.

We're used to bedrock.

Yes. That's it. The grin, widened, if it were possible.

You're going to get in so much trouble, princess.

That isn't my problem, Jake.

But it is, princess.

Can we talk about something else now?


But he's no longer interested in the words, and I follow his eyes to where he is watching Caleb leave the house and quickly walk to his car. Breakfast is over, Caleb can make an easy, almost invisible exit and go home.

He shakes his head, the smile turning rueful now as he looks back at me, his hair over his eyes, which have turned dark and concerned.

Why can't you just stay away from the brothers Grimm, princess? At least with Lochlan he isn't trying to dismantle your soul, taking a piece every time.

My soul has been gone for a while now.

Jacob winces and turns back toward the water. You need to rethink this. This isn't good for you.

Caleb? I know a lot of the boys would choose dealing with Caleb over everything else. Somehow it's easier for them to manage.

Only because they can't fight me anymore.

They wouldn't fight with you.

You have a short memory, princess. Don't you remember the Zero the Hero dinner?

Yes but that was different.

How exactly?

That time I chose you.

And now?

Ben. I say it softly, with tears rolling down my face. Jacob nods. It would be bitter save for the fact that he made this decision for us. I would not have forced his hand the way he forced mine and things have changed so drastically I regularly check my driver's license to make sure my name is still the same but it isn't and yet the face is still the one I recognize.

Good. He's been good to you. He's selfless in a way none of the others are. Less controlling too. Safer.

I laugh. This has become a parody.

You should go back, princess. They worry about you.

I'm fine.

I know that and they know that. Maybe care is a better word than worry.

Do you care?

Yes, but I worry too.

You have just destroyed all of my hopes for Heaven, Jacob.

It's a different kind of worry, Bridget.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Not where you seem to think I am, honestly.

The evening is getting away from me, the house is a bit of a noisy place currently, and so in lieu of a post, enjoy some of my birthday flowers, both indoors and out. Never said I was any good with making things look pretty on a page, so excuse the miserable formatting. I will be back tomorrow. You can relax now. Smell the roses.

Friday, 6 May 2011


(Motherfucking cakes on the motherfucking train. And obviously 'batman' means [redacted].)

This morning I am at breakfast with Satan. I should have checked the forecast, clearly it was only hovering around the third degree this morning.


Big lilies, Gerberas in four colors, roses in three colors, huge ones, carnations and snowballs.


Yes. Of course. I detailed my beautiful presents for him.

Very lovely. Yes, I do like that, actually. He did well. Dinner?

Deferred until he has a day off. I don't enjoy walking into a restaurant at eight o'clock on a weeknight. You know that.

So did he cook?

Yes. We both did.


Chocolate mousse and brownie cake. There's some left, if you can believe it. (How Ben got that cake back to the house from downtown along with everything else is a marvel, to be sure.)

Did he put candles on it?

There was flame. Are you finished with this line of questioning? Does he pass? Are you the birthday police now?

I just want to be assured that Ben is looking after you in the manner that you deserve.

Unlike you, you mean?


Nothing. The server picked that second to refill our coffees and I stared at Caleb smugly.

Ben was the one with the butler, remember? He knows what he's doing.

Batman had staff before Ben was even a shadow across your face. Ben had a DO NOT DISTURB sign welded to his hotel room door handle for eight years running. He wouldn't know the finer things in life the way some of us do.

Batman had an assistant who was afraid of everything. I would hardly call that staff. Dude wasn't fetching his fucking tea or wiping his ass unless he was on set. Leave Ben alone.

Bridget, there is no need to be crass. I'm just trying to be sure that you had a good birthday because if not I would arrange for a small event. Obviously you had a good time.

The best. Especially the parts I didn't tell you about. Just...wow.

I am brave this morning. Coffee beans and lack of sleep or food bring about a recklessness I have no business trying on.

He frowned into his coffee cup and looked out the window. And then he looked back. He's staring and not talking and after several minutes of tension-filled silence I am uncomfortable and working hard not to squirm.

I just can't believe it, princess.


You. You're all grown up.

That's something you are supposed to say when someone turns twenty-one, not forty.

I'm sure I said it when you turned twenty-one.

Yes. Right after your brother sold me to you for the weekend.

He smiled. That was a fun weekend.

How in the hell do you remember them, specifically?

You were there. I only forget the ones I spend alone.

That sounds terrible.

It is. I want to change it. I hear the hint of his accent. Not often I can catch it, it's mostly disappeared over the past fifteen years. Just like those weekends.

I need to go home. I have painting to finish.

I will see your progress tomorrow, I suppose.


I'll take you home then.

I follow him outside and then he lets me through the door and I look up at the mountains, feeling his eyes on me.

It's astounding.


How far we've come.

It's a deplorable lack of progress, is what it is. And you have all lost your minds. I have a birthday every year and suddenly it's being made such a big deal of. I'm uncomfortable with this.

Forty is a milestone, princess. And you've granted me civility. Thank you.

It's easier to pretend we get along. And I heard all of this yesterday, almost word for word, from Lochlan. Who does it better than you because he doesn't turn around and try to ruin my life with his next breath. That's why you're alone, Cale.

His eyes go from pleased to ashamed. It's like a switch and I throw it violently and with such joy. Precisely the same way he approaches me in the dark and during those times when I didn't want to be with him. The formative years. The ones that scar shape you for life.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Prime numbers.

This morning Ben pulled me out of my unintelligible dreams into his arms, holding me tightly. He sang Happy Birthday to me, kissed me and then pushed me out of bed into the dark early day.

I did not expect to still have freckles on my fortieth birthday.

I did not expect to still prefer Hello Kitty over Louis Vuitton or still be so bad at painting rooms and making myself high, like I did this morning, shut into the guest bathroom off the back entry hall, cursing out the right angles and rising on the fumes until I stumbled out, finished coat number one and wondering why there were so many freaking unicorns grazing in the back yard since it's raining.

The boys welcomed me to their exclusive club this morning. Where no one gives a fuck anymore and we have money and smarts from living that I would call character on any given day but today is different and so it's smarts today, and nothing else that might seem negative.

Lochlan looked at my face and told me I have not changed a bit from when he used to count my freckles and tell me when I was long grown up I would look exactly the same. I am still waiting to grow into my nose and for my hair to pick a color already and stick with it. He smiled and said it was part of me and not to worry about things so much like I do when I look into the brightly lit mirrors and see my soul running down into deep lines around my eyes, and diluted green irises from using up my lifetime quota of tears. I could look better but instead I think I look like I'm supposed to.

It's too late now anyway.

Caleb called me and wished me a Happy Birthday, softly, with encouragement and a deep reverence for the person I have become. Wishing for a different parallel universe in which he would have been able to do the same for Cole while I still marvel at how amazing Jacob would have been at this age and how amazing Ben became when he turned forty and Lochlan too a few years ago now, it is almost like arriving. I kind of like that I still have all these freckles and even the lines around my eyes which in all honesty have been there forever, and I like that I'm part of the club now instead of the little tiny girl always lagging behind picking flowers while the big older boys walked on ahead, yelling at me to hurry up already, Fidget, we're going to be late.

I really never cared if we were late in the first place. They didn't either but what was astounding was how they didn't care that an eight-year-old girl imprinted on the lot of them and that she is still following them around thirty-two years later, lagging behind, being goofy and difficult but so sweet and soft that the rest is canceled out. In fact, they welcome me, just as they welcome bearing witness to all the changes I have seen in myself since I was too young to count high enough to know the number of freckles I own.

Never in a million freckles did I ever think I'd see this year but now that I've seen it, now that I'm wearing it, it doesn't seem all that frightening any more.
So, so you think you can tell heaven from hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war
for a lead role in a cage?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

There's something buried in the words.

Today I went and bought paint. Today marks one year in this house, and the final day of my thirties besides.

Jesus fucking Christ. I didn't really want to go there, but here I am.



Total. Uncharted. Territory.

Anyway, it is finally time to paint the house. I bought a pale slate blue color called Stillness. I am starting small. Bathrooms, entryways. Trim. The lady at the paint store helped me figure out finishes for the walls (eggshell versus satin? What? The old house held the finish of 'must cover century-old cracks' and had to be the consistency of Elmer's Glue) but I think I came out okay.

After that I went to the nursery and bought some more Snow in Summer (last years disappeared), carnations, a Japanese Azalea and a dappled willow. A huge bag of dirt, too (Cole would say, It's called 'earth', baby doll). I dug up the ivy and moved it and discovered it's actually growing. More is coming up between the cracks in the front walkway. I brought some inside to root. I planted everything in the front gardens and it looks damned good.

I spread grass seed and moved half the shrubs in the backyard from under the grapevines (what was I thinking?) to the sunny edge of the yard. Under the watchful eyes of the boys who are home I replanted everything and reseeded the newly blank places and then I discovered the buds on the grapevines, already! I have net bags waiting. This year the birds won't get all the grapes. Oh no sir, not this year.

And tomorrow I'm going to be forty.

Pardon me while I explode.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

If wishes were words (out of time).

Little variations on my page
Little doors open on my cage
Little time has come and gone so far
Little by little who you are

I can see the patterns on your face
I can see the miracles I trace
Symmetry in shadows I can't hide
I just want to be right by your side
(For those who want to split hairs, I did NOT leave a word out of the title quote borrowed yesterday. The original Barrie book did not feature the word star. It was added in the movie much much later.)

I have Canadian political election, hockey and boy-drama fatigue today, so pardon me if I am cranky.

And this is the second time in my sketchy memory that something I wrote here actually made a difference. This is not where I plead my case, this is simply where I sort out the leftovers in my brain. So sometimes it's weird or painful or really freaking hard to read. Sometimes it's not safe for work. Sometimes it's just dumb. Whatever is in my head is dumped out on the floor and rearranged into something palatable, and you can just leave the gristle on the side of your plate, alright?

The first time it made a difference was when the full force of Cole's death hit me. I know the week I spent locked in his study after we came home from the hospital seemed...healthy? but that wasn't really it and several months afterword I fell apart on the inside without giving much of an outside warning at all and Jacob read my words and became incredibly concerned, to put it mildly. Everything blew up at once and I don't think he would have been able to act so quickly had I not begun to write very oddly. The medication wasn't right and I was being poisoned. Luckily it was fixed and after that things were better so I'm grateful sometimes for this strange little place.

The second time it mattered was last night, when PJ read what I wrote about how he fights and he came to see me. I have since edited yesterday's post slightly, and PJ has promised to work on his discussion skills. I am to work on thickening my skin. We both plan to work on boundaries.

Today Corey picked me up on his vintage motorcycle and took me out for a quick lunch. So quick that I blinked and we were finished. Corey never says much, he just steps in and takes someone out for a meal or a walk and then he disappears again. I don't need to write about him all that much, most of the time I forget what he looks like (though that could be the significant image changes over the past eight years.)

Oh gee, I hope he reads this and sticks around for a bit, talks more, and maybe keeps the new facial hair. He didn't have any for a long time and now it just won't go away.

I could wonder if this were some sort of wishing blog, and everything I write might come true. Maybe tomorrow I will win the lottery, and maybe on Sunday I can sleep until noon. Maybe the front garden will magically begin to grow something other than moss and maybe the boys can coexist peacefully, like they were prior to PJ deciding that Ben had crossed a line, prior to Lochlan deciding he didn't a big enough percentage of me, prior to Caleb calling and extending his flaming, deadly olive branch because my absence in his life has settled in around him like a cold chill he cannot shake and he does not like how that feels.

Speaking of feelings, I do need to address some things about Caleb and what happened in Newfoundland, but not right now. Tomorrow. Right now I have lunches to pack and homework to check and dinner to start. The light is getting thin and the boys will be home soon.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Second to the right, and straight on till morning.

Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
(Sometimes living for adventure can be tough. Sometimes I'm not even the one with the drama and I become a sticking-plaster to the boys, the ferociously affectionate soft spot where they land. The comfort-girl who will soothe their cares away. They are the lost boys, and I am their Wendy.)

Sam is going down Jacob's road of currently feeling quite out of love with his church. Railing against the hierarchy for putting administration before one's ability to be efficient in the role of a minister when one has personal needs. And yet I can see both sides here. Sam is new to this church, having been a part of it for a single year. Others can manage their midlife or existential crises without needing time off, they simply implode in and around their scheduled tasks. The church does not allow for personal reflection unless it is work-related, and what most people never fully realize is that ministers are often given a plate so full that they simply collapse under the weight and learn to operate at sixty percent of themselves and sometimes they simply walk away.

You know, like Jacob did.

Sam was gifted with a wedding invitation this week. We all were. We don't burn too many bridges. Most of the people I despise I greet quite professionally (Satan, Sophie, etc. etc.) and the boys are even better at it. But this wedding invitation came from Sam's wife. Elisabeth. Since he steadfastly refuses to call her his 'ex'. Hope springs eternal, but when their divorce went through after magnificent efforts to try and salvage their relationship, she promptly became engaged to someone else.

Sam has not reacted well. He's crushed but realistic. He's called in sick and shown up drunk and done everything people do when confronted with the concept of moving on. I hope he weathers it better this week than he did last week. He is still waiting to see if he can have a little vacation time, now that he has a year in. The problem is, he probably will not get it. And the drunk part sort of surprised me because Sam has the better part of a decade of wonderful recovery that he always managed well and spoke candidly about, besides. He was a good role model for Benjamin, and the surprise and disappointment rings loudly through my house right now.


PJ has had a crisis as well this week, only his snuck up on us slowly over the weekend to the point where last time I saw him, Lochlan had him in a headlock and was forcing him to promise to go home and NOT SAY ANOTHER WORD until he was out of my hearing range. Which I suspect is around four feet, but only if you are facing me.

Because when PJ runs out of patience, I am always his target. I have been positively crushed under the weight of his feelings, bottled up and poured out quietly, after the kids are asleep or at the very least out of earshot. Even though when we moved here I specifically made him take the boathouse so that he could have his own separate life, privacy, whatever he needed. Sometimes (as I point out quite regularly), it isn't enough.

But no worries. We have a major argument roughly every twelve to fourteen months and then we settle back into step together and this particular one seems to be waning so call it a Monday and let's get on with it.