The Neighbors

I grew a lot during my year in Michigan. I spent time finding my feminine side. I went to therapy. I reconnected with my daughter.

 I also had neighbors.

Courtesy Google Images

Bobby was your typical fifth year senior. His father paid for his housing and his tuition and probably everything else. Bobby had a different car every semester. He had crazy parties every football day, but he was polite enough to take it elsewhere around 11 pm. Bobby was a gent. He parked my car one football Saturday when I showed up with a rain-soaked toddler and a crazed look in my eye, and asked him to “either park my car or watch my kid while I go find a parking spot.” There was no “please” in that sentence. Like I say, Bobby was a good egg (or just scared of me).

During the summer, his girlfriend Melissa, whose name has been changed because I can’t remember the real one, moved in. Melissa was 5’3, blond, blue-eyed and every college guys dream. She was just a cute little thing. I invited her into our side of the basement one afternoon during a tornado warning so she wouldn’t have to sit on hers alone, poor little scared thing from some state where they don’t have tornados. We were pros at this tornado business—my sister, the kiddo and I.

Things were going great! We all smiled at each other and waved and said “hi” like normal people. Until one day. Specifically the day I was going to the lawyers office to sign the divorce papers and was running late to class and was feeling like shit warmed over.

Melissa chose that day to leave a shitty little passive aggressive note on my fucking windshield about all the things we were doing wrong: Parking on the front lawn (which they did too), turning on their basement light to go downstairs (which they did too), and something else which so infuriated me I can’t remember what it is (because they did it too). Melissa had touched on one of my pet peeves—passive aggressive notes. Not only was it passive aggressive, she had signed and dated it. Like for legal purposes.

What happened to the tornado warning? Had Melissa forgotten the generosity and care I had extended? I felt betrayed. Melissa didn’t know it, but that morning I daydreamed of firebombing their side of the duplex then spitting on the charred remains of the house. Because they wouldn’t be there, that would just be cruel.

I festered for weeks. Every time I walked past their front door I glared at it. I glared at her hurrying past me several mornings, trying not to make eye contact. She hadn’t thought about the fallout of that note, had she? I took pleasure in making her feel my fucking wrath. In fact I probably displaced a large load of anger I had towards my ex on poor Melissa.

One day in July I decided it was enough. I was the adult here, wasn’t I? Melissa wasn’t even old enough to drink. I waited until she had just gotten home and shut her door to go over and ring the doorbell. You could have knocked Melissa over with a feather. She looked terrified. But I apologized and she did that fake “lets be friends and have a drink thing.” We went our separate ways with the tension dissipated. I was pretty proud of myself for not letting it fester anymore.

It turns out the “lets have a drink thing” was not fake too. A few weeks later around 11 pm, I was two-deep in gins and tonic when the door bell rang. It was Melissa asking me over for Mimosas. My head said “no” but my buzz said “lets get our drink on!”

So we talked about our lives. Mostly Melissa’s life. I understood why Melissa was acting so screwy. She had a point of view on life that was very young, and her take on men was all wrong. Her last boyfriend had stalked her. She and Bobby fought every night, but she had no intention of leaving him. Oh boy. I listened while imbibing on mimosas. Four of the hugest mimosas that were ever made in the history of the world.

Courtesy Google Images

At one am, a friend of Melissa’s came over and we sat on the front stoop and smoked cigarettes. I was proud of myself. I could still run with the 20-somethings! Young at heart, that’s me! At two am, Melissa went to bed and I stumbled into my own bed.

At four I woke with an urgency unheard of since the dawn of drinking. Then I proceeded to Exorcist-style puke my guts out for four hours straight. The whole time wondering what the sam-hell I had been thinking. Why? Why? Why did I drink all those mimosas? Why did I want to run with the 20-somethings? For the love of all that’s good and holy, why did I do this to myself?!

Thank god my sister was living with me, because she watched the kiddo until noon. That’s when I stumbled out of bed and took us to get pancakes. My hangover lasted for two days. I was completely incapacitated for the first day. The second day I just felt like Melissa had sledge-hammered my brains out.

People I was still scrubbing the vomit from all the little crevices of the toilet and the walls until the day I moved. And when I threw away that last vomit-covered toothbrush, I swore for the third time in my life to never do that again. 

10 signs you were born old

Listicles, or what regular people call “Lists,” are a big hit lately so I thought I would try my hand at making one on a subject I am an expert on–being born old.

10 signs you were born old


1. Antiques Roadshow night is the best damn night of your week. You are probably watching it with your dad.

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2. Texting is still way over your head, what the hell happened to making a phone call? Don’t people want to talk to people anymore? Don’t even get you started on SnapChat…

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3. The last bit of popular music you know played on the radio 10 to 15 years ago when you were a teenager.

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4. Scratch number one, Downton Abbey is the BEST DAMN NIGHT OF THE WEEK! Anyone who tries to talk to you at 8 pm on Sundays is SOL.

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5. You have your funeral all planned out, and you have probably put the music list in your safety deposit box. It’s not morbid y’all, it’s just good planning.

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6. Whenever you go to the hardware store bird feeders are an object of unparalleled lust. You dream of spending your Saturday morning with a copy of Audobon’s Birds of America and a cup of coffee, watching the birds.

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7. Kindle Schmindle! Print books get you hot and bothered.

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Also, if library books could come with a side of Heath Ledger? Yes please.

8. You get along much better with your grandparents than your cousins and peers.

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This is also probably one of your favorite movies.


9. You just don’t understand kids these days. Also, you are in your 20s.

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10.  Yes, you actually eat prunes (what? They’re delicious!).

The gnawing maw: a journey through the abyss


Yours truly stands in front of the fridge debating what to eat for lunch: carbs or vegetables. An awareness that has grown these last few weeks bursts through to consciousness. This decision is not based on what my physical body wants but based on what the emotional empty space inside of me wants. It looks like a round mouth with teeth on all sides, like the sand worms in Dune (but more cartoony). It feels like a constant gnawing. Junk food quiets the gnawing for a moment. I reach for the carbs.


Yesterday was a journey of the spirit from start to finish. It started with frustration at having to leave church because my daughter couldn’t behave. Spiritually, I was starving by yesterday. It has been a month of ennui, a term I use in jest with my parents but which is real. A dismal feeling of disappointment in myself and of being unable and undesirous of doing anything more meaningful than vacuuming the living room. So when we had to leave church, I came home and turned on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Brene Brown was the guest; the topic was shame and vulnerability. Finally understanding that much of gnawing maw originated in shame, I retreated to my room to meditate. I went into the abyss and found my most shameful, awful, unhealed moments. My sixth grade boyfriend (for pete’s sake!), my best friend from high school who hates me to this day, my first separation, the names and labels that have been placed on me. Different version of myself sat with these moments. I sent her love and empathy, all these versions.


I thought about my career search. It’s been depressing. I can’t seem to find very many jobs I’m excited about. Instead of being excited to finally be a professional social worker, I felt like giving up forever and living in my parent’s basement. I’ve hated myself. I’ve hated not having a focus. But here another subconscious realization broke through: I want to work with women! Their issues are the ones I’m most passionate about, the ones I get the most angry about. I have been afraid to admit it because I am afraid there are no jobs, no pay, no future. Plus I might fail miserably. My clients might hate me. Fear, fear everywhere. When I finally admitted it to myself I cried. It felt like coming home.


Daring Greatly has given me the courage to be vulnerable. Last night I tried to go to Starbucks to write, but this being Kansas and it being Sunday, Starbucks was closed early. I decided to take a drive. Darkness had long descended. At first I marveled at how far out the street lamps are in my hometown. As a child, the city ended a few blocks away on 159th street. Today, suburbia sprawls past 200th street. Finally, the end of artificial light neared–a small space of dimness between bright and dark. I was reminded of a dream I had when I was 8. I walked on a path within a cave. Jesus was next to me. There was sheer nothing on both sides of the path–just black. We came to a spot where the light from the mouth of the cave disappeared and in the next step I would have been in total darkness. Jesus took my hand, “I will still be with you in darkness. Are you ready?” I shook my head no, too frightened of the darkness to render myself so vulnerable. Since driving age I have always been afraid to drive into the dark of the Kansas night. The confines of civilization were much too comforting to chance the wild darkness, even from within a two ton vehicle.

Last night I felt the chance to go into the darkness again. To be vulnerable to the universe, to my innermost self. To trust that a larger force (buddha, allah, krishna, jesus) was taking care of me. I took it. Driving, I took the darkest roads. I thought about my darkness. My hurt, sadness, anger, shame. All the times I have done wrong and lied about it–stuffed it back down. I allowed myself to be vulnerable to the abyss and felt peace.


When I got home I started Where’d you go Bernadette? A book about an artist who loses herself. This morning I finished it–it’s the first book I’ve finished without forcing myself in months. This morning, miracle of miracles, the ennui is gone. Replaced with a rabid desire to do some good. To tackle some problems. I’m not sure how I will infuse my life with all these new understandings of myself, but it will happen organically. I have faith–in so many things again. My Self, the Universe, that life is meaningful, that even a journey through the gnawing maw is worth it.

The New Chronicles: Part I

Since I am currently doing nothing in terms of employment (except for looking for said employment and waiting for my licensure to go through), I am going to go back in time and write about the last few weeks. Here is Part I of the New Chronicles (so named because just about everything I do is new).

An actual vacation

We took an actual vacation after I graduated. My mom, sister, the kiddo and I packed up into my mom’s rental car, which had a deceptively spacious trunk, and drove 3.5 hours to Traverse City. To a real vacation. My family was lower-middle class when I was growing up. We ate a lot of spaghetti and deer that my dad hunted. We lived in a rental duplex with pea-green carpet and this godawful vomit yellow clock wallpaper in the kitchen. We never went on a vacation. We went to Branson to visit my grandparents. If you’ve never been there, Branson is a lot like the 9th circle of hell. There’s terrible tourist traffic, there’s only country music, and the only thing to do is to go shopping at outlet malls. So unless you count that as vacation, we really never went on vacations.

I’ve been on a few real vacations since then, but this was my first do-nothing vacation. As in, we really had nothing planned but to go to Sleeping Bear Dunes and lounge around the house we rented eating pistachio cake in our underwear. Oh friends, this is pretty much what we did and it was glorious. 

picstitch (1) picstitch (2) picstitchThe kiddo and I played on the beach for hours making poison soup (her choice) from the sand and pebbles and clear lake water. We searched high and low for Petosky stones. We soaked up beautiful 75-degree-and-perfect-sunshine. We had nothing planned but to simply enjoy our time. We spent one day exploring Sleeping Bear Dunes. Kayaking and playing on the beach was the itinerary for another day. Window shopping in downtown Traverse City was one morning. We made something called Watergate Cake which was So. Fucking. Good. The kiddo and I had the whole upper floor of the house we rented just outside Traverse and I spent hours up there alone. In the quiet and remembering what relaxation felt like. There were still hard times to come what with finalizing the divorce and all. But mostly, we rested.

The last morning we were up north we went on a mini-wine tasting tour to Chateau Chantal and Bowers Harbor Winery. They were incredible. Is there anything better than a refreshing glass of white wine sipped slowly while enjoying the view of the harbor from the top of a vineyard? No friends. No there isn’t. It was heaven on earth.

I have a thing for old guys: part 1

Last night I was happily dreaming that Greg Kinnear and I were falling into sweet, puppy, Greg Kinnear Love. I imagined Greg looked a little something like this when falling deeply in love with me:

See? That’s the smile of true love. Who can blame him? I am awfully loveable.

He had a daughter who I was taking to the park, going swimming with, taking shopping because I was her…babysitter. Also I was a homewrecker because Greg and I were sneaking around. I had fallen far.

Suddenly, during a house party Greg’s wife was throwing, in which we exchanged longing glances with each other, I realized–I was dreaming! Any movie star I wanted could be my boyfriend. I didn’t have to be a homewrecker!

So I sat, much like Pooh Bear, and really thought about which famous person I wanted to be my boyfriend. Think, Jessica, think…and came up with Greg Kinnear again.

“No!” I yelled at myself, “he’s already your boyfriend stupid! Think!”

Then I came up with…Alan Rickman. Who is hot, for sure. And his accent is to die for. I loved him in Sense and Sensibility, and Harry Potter. But really? That’s the best I can do?

Alan Rickman is even perplexed by my choices.

There are so many other hot dudes who could be my boyfriend. Javier Bardem, the guy who plays Stringer Bell, Christopher Eccleston (but only if he pretends to be Dr. Who)! I just couldn’t come up with anyone else. Greg Kinnear and Alan Rickman. That’s it.

Eventually my brain forgot I was dreaming and I ended up being Gene Simmon’s girlfriend.

Sweet Jesus, WHY?


Who is not hot, except to my mother. Ugh.

Who is your favorite Dream Partner?


I’m going to court to finalize my divorce today. I’ve been trying to write this post for an hour now and no words are coming to my head that aren’t trite, so I will write with pictures and other people’s words today.


Very often silence becomes the female drug of choice-Sue Monk Kidd, Dance of the Dissident Daughter

I am courageous enough to show up and be heard-12/30/12 Journal Entry

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.-As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Gerard Manley Hopkins