Storyteller: Debbie Anderson aka San Diego Momma

mbp_deb12f 1. I started blogging in 2001 at the ridiculously-named “Debbie Does Drivel.” I used real names, gave addresses of where I lived, and generally committed every sin of online personal privacy breach. It was from 2001-2004 that I discovered many of the storytellers that I still love today like Mighty Girl and Que Sera Sera, and who luckily, are still around in one way or the other. I think of those years fondly and long for the time when blogging was really and truly about sharing stories. Through the posts I read way back when, I came to know bloggers as people, and I miss those days because the pendulum has seemed to swing to the side of being afraid to share who you really are because there’s a “brand image” to uphold. I really admire bloggers who can be authentic while making a living. That’s a hard balance to strike.

2. Storytelling on my blog gives me a way to parse out my experiences and emotions because as a woman who feels deeply and profoundly, I need to give words to it all or I would explode. The Indigo Girls once wrote, “I used to lie like that alone out on the driveway, trying to read the Greek upon the stars, the alphabet of feeling.” That’s how I perceive it: there’s a lot of unanswerable, undecipherable FEELINGS! going on inside, that I’ve got to navigate them by putting them into words. Telling stories also helps me to remember and make sense of what I’ve experienced, observed, and been confounded by, and to record it all in some small way.

3. I freelance as a writer and editor, so my days are filled with trying to make a living. I spend a lot of time online for work and play and I’ve found all that watching through my laptop has stolen a little part of my life that I want back. So I try to get out and live and not just watch other people do it. What this all comes down to is most of my days are spent working or angsting about not working.

4. If I had a million dollars…I would buy a house to make my very own and then promptly leave it to live somewhere abroad with my family for several months out of the year. I’d start with Norway and make my way to Singapore.

5. Tell us a secret? I’m frighteningly insecure. If my husband goes somewhere without me, I’ll always ask, “Did anyone wonder where I was?

I’m terrified of being forgotten or overlooked. (Which might double as an answer to #2.)

Find Debbie on Twitter @SanDiegoMomma and read her stories on her blog, San Diego Momma. Thanks, Deb! Find all the Storytellers here.

Slowly Fading

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You wake up and everyone is outside picking peas in the garden. It’s the morning at your parent’s home before the morning you’re going to leave and go home. This visit was too short and you won’t see them for a few months. Again. Maybe six or seven. Maybe eight on the outside.

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Mom’s the fastest pea-picker. She’s got the most experience. Joe tries to keep up, but her fingers are defter and have years of practice.

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Dad is pulling up weeds, then pea plants. Occasionally he looks over, evaluates what Mom is doing and then, copying her, manages to pick a pea pod and put it in his bowl. He’s unsure about what they’re doing out there, but wanting to be a part of things, he carries on.

You snap a few photos because that’s what you do and there is a safety, a distance, at watching your father fade away slowly through the lens of a camera. You can hardly make yourself look straight at him this trip. It takes a herculean effort to stare straight at the sun, eyes never wavering, and accept and love and hold him in your heart because it doesn’t even feel like him anymore. He’s almost not there at all but what is there still looks like him and smiles like him and smells like him, mostly. There’s a new scent about him now on top of the other more familiar ones. You can’t place it but wonder if it’s just the smell of getting older. It’s still him, just not quite him.

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The cousins do a puzzle in two hours flat and when you interrupt in the middle to corral them outside so you can take photos, they roll their eyes dramatically like you’ve just asked them to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro in clown suits.

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But, they oblige with some good-natured, dramatic protesting, then ham it up for the camera.

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Your sisters are some of the most beautiful people you know and they let you snap their photo.

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And so do your brothers and your husband because recording every dang moment together feels important right now. Ever more important.

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Most of the garden beds are flowers this year. What once held tomatoes and lettuce and carrots and other things that needed constant tending now hold wild flowers because there isn’t anyone with enough time and energy to tend them anymore. It’s beautiful and truthful and hard and sad. Dad can’t tell the difference between weeds and vegetable plants and Mom spends her days and nights watching over Dad.

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She helps him with everything. Everything. You hear her in the other room reminding him to do the smallest things that you know he’s done millions of times in his lifetime, but now they are just beyond him. She gets him his snacks. Helps him take a nap. Reminds him who all the people are in the house that he doesn’t know. And a few seconds later he’ll ask again where the pretty flowers on the table came from and Mom will explain, again, that they are from the pretty bush he loves and planted in the front yard. You’ll smile, again, and tell him they smell lovely. Dad will nod. And then ask again in a few minutes. With every rotation of the conversation you can feel your heart hurting and it’s also just the way it is, so you deal with it and feel glad he’s still there to ask about the flowers at all.

Dad reads the paper. *You watch him turn it this way and that way, folding and unfolding, staring and looking and reading the same articles over and over. You look away because you remember what an avid reader he once was. You remember him reciting from memory poem after poem while you sat in mortified silence because you were embarrassed that your dad was such an old, stodgy nerd that would read those old, fogie poems and take the time to memorize them and then make you sit there for minutes on end, nay, all of eternity, while the phrases of Rudyard Kipling’s If rang out of his mouth, loud and clear, commanding the room at every family function.

What you’d give now to hear him be able to recite anything. Or even remember who you are. And you have pains in your soul in a way you can’t even describe. Too bad you didn’t pay attention to any of that poetry. That’s probably where the words are that escape you and you’re angry at your teen self for being so short-sighted and wasting valuable time being so…so…teen. Even with the confusion of all the hard things that were between you, you love him deeply and wish you could have a conversation about something, anything, even if it was hard.

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You ask Mom if she’s lonely. You want to make sure she’s ok, that she doesn’t feel isolated or left too much alone, without support. She says she loves Dad as much as she ever did and considers this the next part of their partnership. She says she’s fine, that she takes care of herself along with Dad and not to worry. You worry anyway and you love her fiercely in a way that you didn’t know possible and the grief rises a little and you wash a few more dishes and wonder what you can do to be more supportive from hundreds of miles away.

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You take out your camera for the annual photos for next December’s Christmas card. You snap shots, this way and that way, looking at your parents through the lens and wondering how things can be like they are. The frustration at how unfair it feels fades away as you do what comes second-nature. You check the light, check your f-stop, check for dust on the lens and realize there’s nothing on the lens that keeps making things look blurry, that’s just you. You stare with the safety of the lens into the eyes of your dad and try to find him in there.

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Then, your husband grabs the camera and takes a shot of the three of you and you see you, with them, and maybe some of who the man your dad still might be deep inside himself looking back at you. At least you want to think so when he gives you a hug and says, “Thanks. Come again sometime soon. We like it when our friends come to visit.

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You wave goodbye to Mom who is standing by herself outside where they both used to stand when you left, blowing kisses and waving. And then you cry. And promise to come back soon before he fades too much further away. You hope. *And wouldn’t it be nice to believe that someday, maybe in heaven, Dad will be like he used to be or even better and you reconsider your non-belief of religion.

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You get melancholy and your almost-twenty-year-old youngest son makes you laugh by buying a tshirt with a cow on it because it’s kinda funny and takes photos of it in bathroom mirrors where, as he says, all tall guys have problems seeing their heads.

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You make friendship bracelets with him on the long drive home and think about how you don’t want to waste any moments and you realize he’s probably just humoring you, making knots and spending time creating “manly jewelry,” but you don’t care and you eat it up like it’s the best food you’ve ever eaten.

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And you smile because he’s there and you’re with him and what else are you going to do, anyway, if not try to enjoy every moment possible before they fade away.

(*This was slightly edited after publishing.)

Storyteller: Angela Simione aka Blackland

photo(17)I started blogging in 2007 during my last year of art school. I didn’t really use my blog as much more than a place to post pictures of paintings, and thought of it more as a stand-in for a “real website.” But as I began to think more and more deeply about the actual source of my work, I couldn’t avoid the fact that every single image I made was, to one degree or another, a self-portrait. I was drawing from my own history and daily life in such a huge way in my visual practice that it started to seem strange not to speak about my own life when asked where a particular image came from or what my inspirations were as a visual artist. I started using the blog as a way to flesh those ideas out and to get comfortable talking about my personal experiences.

After graduating in 2008, I moved to the tiny northern Californian town of Calistoga. There is one stop light and one stop sign in Calistoga. It was a huge change and I was very isolated. I began leaning on the blog to an ever-increasing degree to simply maintain artistic, thoughtful, poetic connections to other people. I felt so removed from the art community I had only begun to explore in San Francisco. Attempting to nurture that connection over the internet was kind of my only option and one which I clung to as tightly as I could. I began to see the blog as a facet of my art practice in its own right, a place where I could experiment and test the boundaries of what I thought my work was all about. The things I wrote on my blog became more and more personal, more and more an act of exposure. And I was fulfilled by this. Even if no one was reading it, it felt good to put my words out in to the world. It felt good (and necessary) not to live in silence, to choose to tell the story of my own life in my own way. It felt good to know that, even if the blog was basically invisible to the world, it nevertheless existed. My words existed. I existed. And in the isolation of a tiny town, that feeling was so important to hold on to. The blog became a place of catharsis and connection, and it remains so.

I moved back to Oakland in 2012 and returned to the true profession of the artist: waiting tables. 😉 I work nights which is fantastic. Great money, a flexible schedule that allows for travel, and lots of time for art and writing. I wake up every day, write in my diary for an hour or two while I drink coffee, and then get a bit of art work done before shuffling off to the restaurant. Sometimes, I drop a yarnbomb on my way to work. It’s a very good life. I spend my days doing exactly what I want to do, and my nights learning about fine wine.

If I won a million dollars, I definitely wouldn’t wait tables anymore but the ins and outs of my daily routine would largely stay the same. I’d get to spend more time writing and more time making art and I would buy plane tickets left and right. I’d probably live out of hotel rooms for a while and just see the world. I’d throw my diary in my backpack and just go.

A secret? There’s a jacket hanging in my closet that I haven’t worn in years. My longest friend, Daniela, and I went in on it together when we were 14. It couldn’t have cost much. We bought it from a thrift store called Ralph’s Bargain Spot where we would spend tons of time when we skipped school. The jacket isn’t an attractive fit and the burgundy lining is almost completely shredded. It’s a spectacular pea-green plaid, with burgundy, orange, and black throughout. Most people would call it ugly but Daniela and I thought it was amazing. We would share the jacket, alternating weeks with it, and it was always such a painful moment to give it up or, conversely, such a hugely joyful moment to receive it again. It’s one of the few remaining items I have from my childhood. I have it and a teddy bear and that’s really all. I keep telling myself that one of these days I’ll have it tailored so that I can wear it again. If I ever win that million dollars, I definitely will, and I’ll take it on the road with me and show it this wide world.

Read Angela’s stories at Blackland. Find all the Storytellers here.

Flawed but Authentic Party at Blogher ’14!

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Come and find us, won’t you? You can find the details here.

We’d love to see you there!

We’ll have a portrait* studio set up, essential oils, hand-massages, wine, water with oils and herbs and awesomeness (in general). We’re collecting encouraging words for a special project for that night. Call and tell us yours!

Make an appointment to meet up at another time during the conference and get your portrait taken. (Available time slots can be found here.) All the portraits will be put online. Or go deeper into learning about essential oils. Or just hang out because we’re super fun! (And our room is going to smell amazing!)

*Our favorite portraits will be included in a book along with a short interview. (If you don’t want to be a part of the book project, that’s ok, too. We’d still love to see you and take your portrait.)

Storyteller: Jennifer aka Writing to Survive

100_03121. I’ve been blogging since early 2008, when my son was two and a half and I was a SAHM adjusting to an unfamiliar city.

2. We moved from Washington, DC to Berkeley, CA in April 2007 and I not only needed a creative outlet (after years of wanting to write but not actually writing anything) but I also needed some sort of creative social circle, no matter how remote. I was struggling with some traumatic childhood memories and had one story in particular that I felt a strong need to write about at the time, to write about and make public. So the drudgery and isolation of being a SAHM, along with these stories that were haunting me, propelled me into blogging/storytelling.

3. These days, I am in a graduate Marriage and Family Therapy program at a university in San Francisco. I am just finishing up my fourth semester as well as my first internship in a K-8 elementary school. Still have two more years to go in the program. I’m taking it very slowly.

4. If I had a million dollars, I would first buy my mother a place to live nearby. Maryland is too far away! There would be a few debts to pay off, maybe a nice trip or two to Europe (and elsewhere) for the family, and then I would identify some animal welfare charities to support.

5. A secret . . . not many people know that I once had a SECRET security clearance. A few more know that I have a license, but don’t drive.

Read Jennifer’s stories at Writing to Survive.

A BBQ With Friends

We talked about what you’re supposed to say on a day like this. You don’t want to say, Happy Memorial Day. That sounds….wrong. But saying something like, “I hope you spend the day thinking about all the people that have died for you to enjoy said day,” sounds like a bit too much.

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You know that many of your friends and family are getting to spend the day with their loved ones and that’s happy. You aren’t near your own family so you do the next best thing and spend it with good friends.

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You remember the brave service men and women that gave their lives so all of us have the opportunity to sit around an outside table in 80 degree weather, watching meat slowly cook while sipping the beverage of our choice. You appreciate the people currently in service and you worry a little about your own kids, partners, parents and other friends and family who are in the military and keep the hope of peace in your heart.

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You make your mom’s favorite potato salad recipe because you miss her and then you find out your sister in Seattle made it, too, and you feel just a little closer than 1,255 miles. You make the 7, no 8! Layer Dip that’s made you famous. In fact, I hear you’re “known for your 7 Layer Dip.”

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You make fresh croutons and BBQ sauce because anything less wouldn’t be right for today and you’re resourceful and creative and they’re delicious enough that a non-grain eater eats them.

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You feel lazy and unhurried in a way only an extra long weekend provides. You wander around the backyard, feet burning on the hot pavement until you borrow someone’s flipflops to get around.

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You take the time to inspect the seeds on unripe strawberries promises and the blossoms dropping off the cucumber vine.

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You’re charmed to find the tiniest globe hidden in a flowered archway and take the wee selfie.

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There’s a dog.

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There’s hopefully always a dog.

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A very cute dog.

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You drink beer and sweet tea out of mason jars because that’s how it’s done on a day like today, where you have the luxury of time and friends and family and love.

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You ask your friends to pose so you can practice a new camera setting and they oblige because that’s the kind of friends they are and we’ve all got nothing but time today, anyway, so why not. But, mostly they do it because they’re your friends.

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The sun keeps peeping through the green leaves and winking at you.

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You’re so glad you get to be lazy and drink out of mason jars and spend the day with good friends and pet adorable dogs and your heart feels bursty.

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And then it’s time to eat grilled chicken with homemade Alabama White BBQ Sauce and you don’t even like BBQ sauce but this is different and it’s the best you’ve ever had and you’re already looking forward to leftovers the next day.

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Thanks, Chad & Jen.

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And Bailey.

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Grain-Free Cooking: Oven Fries! (With an Option for Cajun Seasoning)

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Sometimes you like it a little spicy. Sometimes you don’t. And sometimes you want half and half in the same meal. I’m not here to judge. I’m here to accommodate your desires.

These oven fries are super simple, easy and fast. I usually make them with just olive oil, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, but when I feel fancy I pull out my Hungarian Paprika and I think we all know what that means. Red dust on everything! Just kidding. It means delicious.

First, you need some healthy-sized and firm potatoes. I like to plan about one potato per person. Usually we have a few leftover for lunch the next day, but it’s hard to plan .75 potatoes per person, so maybe just make it easy on yourself and plan on a few leftovers.

I also like to mix the types of potatoes so we end up with some russet and some sweet.

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Peel those puppies! Unless you like fries with skins, then please leave them on because I’m not the boss of you and can’t just order you around like that.

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Rinse the peeled potatoes and cut them in finger-thick wedges.

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And now, this is the important part, soak them in some cold water for about 20-30 minutes.

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This is also an important part – rinse, then dry them off thoroughly with a towel. We use the fabric kind of towels around here because trees and the world’s future or whatever. You know.

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Now you have to make a decision. Spicy? Or no? Or both?

For non-spicy, or what I like to call simple, but in a good way, put the fries on a cookie sheet and drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over them.

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Use your hand to roll the fries around in the oil until they are all coated and then fan them out in a single layer. Top with the salt and pepper. Now you’ll probably want to wash your hand off if you haven’t already.

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Spicy option! Here’s what I throw in the bowl, mix together and then dump on the fries. Chipotle Chili Pepper, Hot Hungarian Paprika, Thyme, Rosemary, Garlic, Turmeric, Cayenne Pepper, Sea Salt and Fresh-Cracked Pepper.

You can make our own mix if you hate something I’ve got here. We’re all individuals with a different tolerance of heat levels! You won’t hurt my feelings.

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I find the Chipotle Chili Pepper and the Hot Hungarian Paprika really add a little fun. I do something in the neighborhood of 1/2-1 tsp of each except the Cayenne Red Pepper. That little treasure gets just a dash.

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Put the rinsed and well-dried fries in a plastic zippered bag, dump the spices in there and drizzle on the olive oil.

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Then pretend you’re a kitty that can’t stop massaging your arm. You know what I’m talking about. Rub those spices all over those potatoes.

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If the potatoes end up without any glisten, think about putting a little oil on the cookie sheet to prevent sticking. Otherwise, dump the fries out and fan them out in a single layer.

Put the fries in your preheated oven – wait. I forgot to tell you to preheat your oven. Go back in time and set it to 425F. Ok. Now, put the fries in the oven and in 10 minutes, grab them out and flip them over.

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Put them back in for 10-15 more minutes and then eat them, but not too fast and maybe let them cool down just a tad first. Fry sauce tastes really good with these fries. Oh, who am I kidding. Fry sauce tastes pretty good with any kind of fries.

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Storyteller: Maggie May aka Flux Capacitor

datenight21. I’ve been blogging since 2009. I had a dream that blogging would be my way into the world of writers and publishing that I perceived myself having been denied through college. After I began blogging I quickly saw that regardless of where my writing went, the experience, the world of blogging would be reason enough. I started telling the story of my family and reading many many blogs and quickly I was hooked. I don’t think I’ve not looked at blogs longer than a few weeks since then.

2. I tell stories on my blog for a few reasons- one, to free my writing. When I’m blogging, I don’t worry about the audience- which is partly why I never could keep one. There were a few times in the history of my blog where it started really taking off, in terms of page views and mentions on the web, but I found that when my blog tone or content changed, my audience grew uneasy and disconnected. The people who began reading me because I was telling funny pregnancy stories about my wacky kids and sweet husband weren’t hanging in there when my writing turned sad and introspective and full of poems, and vice versa. I have to say that even for myself, the blogs I stick with and read over the years have all stayed the same in their style and story-telling, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s awesome, dependable. I read Girls Gone Child, for instance, and her blog has stayed great and consistent in content over years and years. She writes about her kids and her marriage and being male and female and music and family in the same tone, so when I go to her blog, I know what I’m getting, and I like that. When people read one of my stories, it may be very strange and moody full of unformed sentences and unexpected metaphors (my personal favorite), or it may be pedestrian and have a (hopefully) hilarious toddler potty training story, or it may be political and I’m ranting about child abuse laws.

The second reason I tell stories on my blog is to connect. I’ve made many online friends blogging and connected with an entire group of smart, interesting, passionate, creative and loving women I would have never met. Some men- but mostly women. The connections are often silent though- it is the connection of reading someone else’s story and finding your own life there, in some small or large way, and you feel less alone in the world.

The third reason I blog is for my kids and future family– my great-grandkids.

And lastly, as I mentioned before, I blog to connect to the writing community and get published. And I have. I was able to carve out a part-time income freelance writing, have been published in all kinds of places online and off and have an Ebook coming out this month, May 28th, with Shebooks publications entitled ‘Scenes From A Marriage‘.

3. I fill my days primarily with my mother’s heart and hands. I have four children ages 19, 17, 12 and 3, and they take a shit-ton (can I say that?) of energy, research (I’m nerdy like that) restraint and time, not to mention love, love and more love. I basically do nothing but dump patience and love on my kids full time until they are four or five, and then I pull away a teensy bit and go ‘Hm, maybe you need a bath, too.

My husband works full time and I now work from home 32 hours a week. I write in the corners of my mind and in increments. Before my job, I wrote for hours a day, usually later at night, after dinner, when my husband would take over and then again after the kids were asleep. Now I’m lucky if I write at all each day. I have a novel, Agitate My Heart, and it’s about 80% done. I chip away. I have friends, family, two large stinky hairy dogs and a husband, and that’s enough for Erma Bombeck to make an entire career writing about, right there.

4. I love to think about this! If I had a million, I’d buy my mom a house. I’d set up small investments for my kids. I’d set up a friend of mine who I’ve known since she was 13 and who was in foster care most her life, and is now a young single mother. I’d buy a small house. I’d buy my husband the truck he wants. I’d donate some money to the local children’s shelter. I’d realize that now, I have no money and have to go back to work!

5. A secret… I believe that unconditional love can actually create miracles.

Read Maggie May at Flux Capacitor. Thanks, Maggie! Find all the Storytellers here.

Say One True Thing

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How many days did I sit in silence and say nothing about my sadness until it turned to desperation? How many nights did I lay awake, worrying and running through emergency evacuation plans that I’d never need before I spoke out loud to someone, anyone, that I thought there might be something wrong? I couldn’t tell you, the number is too high.

When your thoughts are lying to you about who you are and how the people around you feel about you, find one true thing. When you don’t know who you are anymore and it feels like it’s been years since you felt like yourself, look for it – just that one true thing about you. Find it. Hold on to it. Write it down. Tell it to someone else. Mutter it over and over to yourself. Who cares? You already feel crazy.

I remember the inside of my body felt like a numb wasteland, an eternity of nothing, because I knew if I felt anything, or just the tiny hint of something, I’d truly and fully lose it. “It” being any hold on any bit of sanity I still laid claim to. Feeling one tiny bit of a feeling, or heaven forfend one whole feeling, meant ALL the feelings would come rushing in on me like a tidal wave and I would die. It was too much. Safety was in the numb part, even if it meant misery for eternity. Misery I knew. Misery I understood. Misery and I had BFF necklaces and did each others hair on a Saturday night.

Days, weeks, months, years. All in varying shades of numb and feelings of depression, anxiety, fear and sadness. And then I found a tiny bit of magic that would get me through the toughest times – just one true thing about myself. It didn’t matter what it was or what else it related to as long as it was my true thing.

In that moment when a person who cares about you, who is saying to you how much they love you, and maybe they’re saying the right things and maybe everything they say is exactly wrong but they mean well, and you can’t find your way over to connect with them or their words because you’re lost in a sea of numbness, and sadness is hanging over you like a thick darkness waiting to descend if you look directly at it – right then you pull out your one true thing and use it like a shield and a lifeline and a light to get to them. It works because truth is truth, even if it’s something unrelated or silly, and it’s perfect.

In that moment where you’re all alone, truly and utterly, and you can’t imagine a world without so much pain and you know for sure you’ll never feel anything resembling something close to joy ever again (in fact, you can’t remember the last time you felt anything like joy in the first place) and your feelings are crushing in on you and it seems like there’s got to be a way out – then. Right exactly then is when you bring out your one true thing and tell it to yourself over and over again because it’s true and even though the rest of the stuff in your brain FEELS like it’s true, it isn’t. Replace it with your one true thing.

And when the time comes that you feel absolutely nothing, Zip, Nada, Zilch, when you feel swallowed up in the vacuous hole and it’s preferable, this feeling nothing, because the pain has stopped and you know you could stay there forever and ever if your kids or your partner didn’t keep bugging you and how sad for them that they have to put up with you, wouldn’t it be better for everyone if they didn’t – grab it. Grab your one true thing and write it down on paper and tape it to the mirror and the tv and the fridge and then tattoo it on your wrist if you need to because it’s true and the lies aren’t.

Here are some of the True Things I’ve collected over the years.

#1 My left foot is slightly larger than my right foot. That’s true. I have the data (and feet) to support that statement. That statement is not subjective to my feelings, my feelings that can lie straight to my face without blinking. Yep. No getting around it, my left foot is slightly bigger than my right one.

#4 I can waggle my nostrils. Rain or shine, you get a kid in front of me and I can waggle my nostrils to beat the band until they crack a smile and it feels like I won the lottery.

#7 I make the best grilled cheese in the world. I used to enjoy a grilled cheese made by someone else, but really, I make the best ones. Come over sometime and I’ll make you one and wistfully watch you eat it because gluten.

#8 I like the color purple-blue that happens in the sky right where the clouds hit the edge of the horizon and go deeper. That color is slashed somewhere deep in my soul and I feel it on an overcast day the most.

#22 I will never like eggplant. It’s ok. I admit it. Let’s just get it over with and out there – eggplant grosses me out. I’d rather eat okra, and well, okra…not my favorite. (But, at least it isn’t eggplant.)

#25 Blowing bubbles through a tiny wand yanked out of a neon-pink plastic bottle with a cartoon of a unicorn badly plastered on it makes me incredibly happy. Blowing bubbles makes me take steadier breaths and calms me down. Watching bubbles float soothes my mind chatter. Seeing them pop is fun.

It’s been a long time since I had to use one of my One True Things to save my sanity, but it doesn’t stop me from using them every now and again anyway. And I keep collecting new ones, because the more I am myself, the more room I have for all the things about me. (If that sentence doesn’t make sense to you, you might not have a depression or anxiety problem.)

If you’re in a place right now where you’re being lied to by depression and crazy-thought-making and numbness, think of one true thing about yourself and remind yourself who you are. If you think you might hurt yourself, please call a hotline like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 800-273-8255. (Here are some other hotline numbers.) You are not alone. People do care. That’s the truth, and that’s coming from someone who collects beer caps and wine corks for a project that may or may not ever happen. (#17 on my list of True Things.)

If you have some true things about yourself you’d be willing to share, I’d love to read them.

Storyteller: Kizz Robinson aka 117 Hudson

Kazz11. Blogging since July 2004. I started out reading Dawson’s Recap by Sara Bunting and Tara Ariano. That led me to some blogging awards (before blog was a word!) which introduced me to blogs and finally in 2004 I couldn’t keep my voice quiet any longer. Also, people had come out with easy-to-use platforms that didn’t require use of html which I still don’t know. I still love it, 10 years on!

2. I tell stories on my blog for a lot of reasons. I love to write and I find writing therapeutic. I’ve been very busy recently training for a new career and producing a Listen To Your Mother show so I haven’t had much time at all to write and it shows in my mental equilibrium. I could write for my health anywhere, I do work on other writing projects, but my blog is a conversation, a regular practice, and an outlet I remain grateful for. I’ve been fortunate enough to make a group of friends around my blog, people I wouldn’t have met offline, and they’re still loyal and interesting readers and contributors. I would miss them if I stopped.

3. I have an office job 4 days a week. I have 2 cats and a small, smart, terrier. I am training to become a force free dog trainer. That means reading for class, taking class, practicing with people and dogs, and logging hours toward accreditation. I love stories so reading blogs and books and other social media and watching TV are a lot of fun for me. I’m also a singer working on my next solo show. My days could probably be filled with a little more singing but I’m doing the best I can right now.

Kazz24. In NYC there’s a scratch off lottery ticket you can buy for $2 that could ultimately win you $1000/week for life. Years ago I had a roommate and when we’d go out shopping for the house our first stop would be two of those tickets. We would leave them, unscratched, on the dashboard while we schlepped all over getting what we needed. To amuse ourselves while we shopped we talked about what we’d do if we won the grand prize. When we got home and put all the groceries away we could scratch our tickets. We don’t live together anymore but we’re still friends and, despite never having won the grand prize, we still buy each other scratch off tickets and go to dinner to talk about what we’d do if we did. Right now if I won $1000/week for life I would see about cutting my office job down to fewer days per week so that I can do more dog training work, more singing, and more writing. I would hire a cleaning person at least once a month. I would give more both to the charities that are important to me and to the people in my life who need it. I would plan a big trip! Oh, and shoes, I would buy shoes.

5. It’s not a secret exactly but it’s something I don’t talk about if I can help it. (And here I could help it but I’m talking about it!) My mother is a hoarder. It makes it hard to communicate with her. It makes it hard to allow myself to live my life without taking everything as a sign that I will grow into her disorder or suspecting that everyone else who knows us both thinks I will.

Read Kizz’s stories at 117 Hudson.

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