Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Don't Need a Book Deal, I'm Kreativ!

Tara at Faith in Ambiguity recently bestowed upon me the Kreativ Blogger award. Tara is a talented and beautiful writer, and really much smarter than me, and I am honored and flattered. I am so honored and flattered that I will ignore the kreativ spelling, which would normally make me irrationally angry. One time, I Hulk-Smashed the frosted snack cake display at a Kwik Mart because it had a sign that read '2-Day Only! Tastee Cake's Your Gonna Love!'.

I was pissed that I was in a Kwik Mart to begin with.

So, I'm supposed to:
1. Thank and link the presenter of the award.
2. Answer the 10 questions below.
3. Share 10 random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 7 worthy blogs for the Kreativ Blogger Award.
5. Eat some chocolate.

(I just added that last one, but I need some incentive to do this thing.)

The Questions:

1. What is your favorite song? This is a bullshit question, because no one has A favorite song. We have favorite songs with qualifiers, like Favorite Song While I'm...(exercising, cleaning house, doin' it, whatever). So my favorite song while I'm getting ready for a dinner party is Let Love Rule by Lenny Kravitz. In fact, that whole album lets me get my groove on whilst chopping vegetables and arranging attractive hors d'oeuvres platters.

2. What is your favorite dessert? I like to say, 'Even shitty cake is still cake.' I love sweets, and it's hard to pick just one. So I'll qualify this one, too, and say that my favorite cake is carrot cake. I am sure that will disappoint some of you.

3. What ticks you off? I am an angry person trapped inside a happy person's body. I am quietly seething with rage against lidless toothpaste tubes and empty toilet paper rolls and improperly restained children in vehicles. What ticks me off? A whole hell of a lot.

4. When you're upset, what do you do? Cry and pout like a big baby and make grandly stupid statements like WELL FINE I WILL NEVER TOUCH YOUR STUPID FOOT AGAIN EVEN IF YOU ASKED ME TO, EVEN IF YOU WERE GOING TO DIE IF I DON'T TOUCH YOUR STUPID FOOT.

5. Which is/was your favorite pet? Shutup Roxy is next to me right now, looking at me with her big, dumb, cow eyes and cutting farts like an old man. She is such a jerk, but I love her.

6. Which do you prefer to wear, black or white? What mother of three children and proud owner of a meat apron prefers to wear white? Are you serious?

7. What is your biggest fear? The fear of losing one of my children is so strangling, overwhelming, and heartbreaking to think of, that I refuse to name it as a fear. Because it is more than a fear, it is the worst horror imaginable, and one that I would die a thousand deaths to avoid. That's all a little heavy, so let's go with mice. I hate those little fuckers, they make me cry!

8. What is your attitude, mostly? Mostly, I think that you get what you give. I think that everyone has the right to be treated with kindness and respect, regardless of age or station or beliefs or appearance. I think most people are mostly good. Most of the time.

9. What is perfection? Any moment where I manage to be completely in the moment, and not thinking about the laundry, or what's for dinner, or what I have to do next. I have a hundred such moments every day, and I wish I could string them together and live on that string. But knowing that another one is just around the corner is as close as I'll get, and that's close enough.

10. What is your guilty pleasure? Oh, I have lots, but I don't feel guilty about a single one.

Random Facts:

1. You know those enormous California Burritos at Mexican restaurants? The one that the server encourages you to share? The one where you look at the picture and think, 'What kind of hog could eat that whole thing?' Me. The answer is ME.

2. I can talk in a voice that sounds like I've sucked helium. I showcase it with a rousing rendition of the Lollipop Guild song from The Wizard of Oz. People tend to find it either really cool or really annoying, and never anything in between.

3. I say I never expect to win anything, but in reality I always expect to win.

4. One time, I gave Bill Gates a tour of a cruise ship. He was very nice and wore a funny little sailor cap, because he thought it was funny. I admired that.

5. I am not allowed on the premises the Airport Hilton in Atlanta, due to the Great Restroom Incident of '99.

6. I played volleyball in high school for exactly three weeks, until I learned that it I possess no volleyball skills. Plus, the theater people had all the weed.

7. I have insanely good hearing. It almost makes up for my horrible vision.

8. I am having a shit of a time coming up with ten semi-interesting facts about myself. OH! I have a third nipple! No, I'm kidding, I don't. That would be super interesting, though.

9. I wish I weren't quite so...white. Homogenous. I mean, I'm not one of those fruit loops who's going to start grossly inappropriate cultural appropriation. I'm not going to start walking around in a sombrero or get a Celtic tattoo or anything. But maybe I can start talking vaguely of a 'homeland' and celebrate obscure holidays by drinking lots of beer and eating a certain color of food. What? Someone does this already?

10. I continued to be humbled and thankful that people take the time to read my bullshit, and comment on it, and find it worthy enough for recognition and promotion. I am not always good about responding to comments, but I do read everything that you write down there, and am so appreciative of your support. Truly, thank you.

AND NOW, the bloggers I'm passing this along to. These are all people who inspire me with their creativity. They don't just think outside the box, they take the box and throw it on the ground and stomp on it and rip it to shreds and yell SCREW YOU, BOX! They are sometimes funny and always smart, and always keep me coming back for more.

(Dude. I am lazy and on the ipad and linkies are hard work on a touchscreen. Cut me some slack and pick up the link over there in my left sidebar. All these folks are there.)

We Band of Mothers
Off the Beaten Plan
Haley's Comic
Just Inappropriate
Clay Baboons

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Little About My Father

My father said all sorts of silly things.

Your ass is grass, and I'm the lawnmower.
I'm gonna cut you three ways - deep, wide, and continuously.
Like a one legged man in an ass kicking contest.
Wish in one hand, shit in the other, see which one fills up faster

Sometimes they were movie quotes. Sometimes they were Marine Corps-isms. Sometimes they were antiquated Texas-isms.

Never leave a hat on the bed.

Always say DADDY loudly when waking him, touching him before you spoke was a terryfing experience. I made the mistake once when I was eight, and he sprang up and grabbed me by the arm. I almost died from fright.

The way he mashed his fried eggs up with the tines of his fork, instead of cutting them.
The way he'd sweat when he ate spicy food. He would sit at the head of the table, his dark skin red with heat and sweating.

The very small things he did everyday that made him such a champion of the ordinary.

Daddy started balding early, and in 1986, he made the last ditch effort of a desperate man. He let my mom give him a perm.

My father said all sorts of silly things, and sometimes he said things that weren't so silly at all. He was the most educated uneducated man as you'd meet. He voraciously read newspapers and magazines, and had an encyclopedic knowledge of sports.

He did not like to go out much.

He was the best storyteller in the world.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Post That's Not A Post

My friend Tara at Faith In Ambiguity said 'May is for mothering'. Between end of school parties and awards and graduations and recitals, May is certainly, overwhelmingly, for Mothering.

I have spent the past couple of weeks in a state of goofy almost-doneness, pitting responsibility against warm days and sandboxes and four o'clock beers. I took the kids to ice cream for no other reason than today was Wednesday and we had nothing better to do. Then, in an effort to negate my coolness, I let Katie hurt my feelings and let her know it, and cried and said the truest thing I've ever said -

"No one will ever love you as much as your mommy does."

Heavy knowledge for an eleven year old, though likely not believed. And then I felt silly and blamed it on blood sugar and made her kiss me, twice.

I don't know what is wrong with me. It could be the busyness, it could be that this week is the anniversary of my father's death (though it is just another day, I still feel mostly like this), it could be that my OCD is cycling I am doing battle with it, armed with Comet and a toothbrush.

It could just be that I am ready for summer and time spent blowing bubbles and sitting in the sun, instead of driving to activities and trying to cram quality time in between homework and bedtime.

Sometimes, in summertime, the pool is a good enough bath.
Bedtime is negotiable.
Lunch can be a popsicle.

The table outside will be covered in the assorted detritus of fun - wet towels and flip flops and foam noodles - and I will turn out the light snd lock the door and think, 'I'll pick that up tomorrow,' and not feel the least bit irresponsible.

Sometimes, in summertime, you can do that.

I still have 2 1/2 weeks of real life and lunches and ceremony. I will spend it with a perpetual lump in my throat for the passing milestones, and an eye on June.

Summer, I am waiting.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mr. Bojangles

God, how she loved that cat.

She had waited so long to adopt him; visiting the pet store every week for three months, talking to him through the wire mesh, tickling his fur with her outstretched finger. Sometimes the man who worked there would let her take the orange tabby out and pet him, but she was careful not to ask too often. She didn't want to be known as a 'cat lady'.

'Cat lady' implies a certain strangeness, and she wasn't strange. At least she didn't think so.

She'd asked the owner of the store to hold him until she could save up the adoption fee. In return, she paid for his food and visited faithfully. She thought it would take her four or five months to save enough. She was a writer and a student, and neither of those things lent themselves to disposable income. Still, she had managed to gradually purchase all of the things she'd need for him - the litter box and scratching post and furry mice and a leopard print collar. She was still a month or so away from having enough to bring him home when she got the call.

She'd won a writing contest. The entry was an unlikely hit, the story of a traveling cat circus, led by a woman with three nipples and chronic flatulence. She felt sure the judges were cat lovers, and perhaps they were nipple lovers as well. Or fart lovers. Regardless, she was suddenly a thousand dollars richer, and her dream of bringing home the cat from the pet store happened sooner than she hoped.

She named him Mr. Bojangles.

Every morning, she woke to find his warm body curled up on the pillow beside her. She sang him awake with his special song - "Oh, Mr. Bojangles, with you soft widdle ears and your sweet widdle tummy, come over here and kiss your mummy!". Every night, she fed him tuna fish in a crystal bowl, and wiped his face with a linen napkin. She brushed his fur and took him for walks and treated him as if she had given birth to him herself.

Mostly, he liked her. He tolerated her silliness and accepted the pampering as his right. Only once, when she tried to carry him in a baby sling between her breasts, did he rebel. When she sang to him in the mornings, he looked at her in his bored way and thought, bitch, please. She mistook his indifference for adoration, and he indulged her affection as a means to an end. Some mornings he watched as she slept, her eyes rolling behind closed lids, a fine stream of spittle flowing from the corner of her mouth. One morning, he drank from that stream with his sandpaper tongue, and found she tasted of a dark loneliness and something vaguely metallic.

It was not a bad life, afterall.

And then she died. The penny mouth he'd tasted had been the sickness inside her, dripping out and pooling on her pillow. She'd told no one, not even him.

She had no family nearby. As he watched the sunlight move across the floor from morning to afternoon on the first day, he waited patiently for someone to come and fill his food bowl. The phone rang sporadically and he listened to disembodied voices calling out where are you? hope you're not sick! By evening, he found himself foraging in a near empty trashcan, fishing out the remants of a pimento cheese sandwich and a half rotted grape. A grape! he thought. The indignity of the situation did not escape him.

By the third day, he was restless. He paced the rooms of the apartment and chased long shadows across the floor. There was nothing to eat; no crumb or scrap or bug to be savored. His litter box was filled with filth and he was forced to do what little business he had to do on the floor beside it.

He awoke the morning of the fourth day to the sounds of his stomach. He lay on the pillow beside her swollen body. Her lips were parted just slightly and her tongue, purple and fat, pushed past her teeth. She looked as if she was about to give a whistle, or blow a raspberry on his tummy. 'Mithhhter Bojanglethhhhh,' he heard it say. He touched the tongue with his paw, and found it surprisingly soft. Supple. Meaty.

God, how much she had loved him. And now, how much he loved her.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Potty All the Time

My world has been consumed by the toilet for two days. Henry, whose fixations make me look like an OCD lightweight, has fixated on doing his business in the potty. Which should make me extremely happy.

Instead, he is driving me insane.

He has been accident free, due in large part to his insistance on sitting on the pot every fifteen minutes. The first seven or eight or twelve times, it was cute. I high fived and potty danced and heaped praise for the tiniest dribble. I pulled a muscle while executing a triple salchow after he pooped. By this evening, I barely give him a raised eyebrow and a 'Oh, pee pee potty. That's great.'

I have to watch him, though. Yesterday, he tiptoed out of his room and into the bathroom, where he managed to unroll an entire roll of toilet paper and shove it into the toilet. Two plastic bags and a thorough handwashing later, we had the toilet paper etiquette talk.

"Toilet paper only when you poo poo."
"Poo poo?"
"Yes, only when you poop."
"Poo poo potty?"
"Yes, only when you poop on the potty."
"Poo poo?"
"High five?"
"Yes, you get high five when you potty."
"Yes, when you poop."
"Poo poo potty?"

Here's another thing about potty training my boy - he's not a big talker. Whereas both girls were highly verbal and could communicate with ease (Mommy, I need to use the bathroom, although it is not an extreme emergency. Please finish reading that highly informative article about Oscar fashions before escorting me to the restroom.), Henry just screams POTTY! and runs with alarming speed through the house and vaults himself onto the toilet. POTTY! could mean 'I think I might have a tiny bit of wee', or it could mean, 'I am getting ready to jettison a huge load and you'd better come quick because I've taken off my pants and I won't hesitate to drop a deuce on the floor'.

Then there's the flushing.

Honey, you only need to flush one time. OK, good job, no more flushing. THAT'S GOOD! OK, stop flushing. STOP. STOP FLUSHING!

I probably shouldn't complain about the flushing. I've never subscribed to 'if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down.' The thought of peeing on top of someone else's pee makes me a little queasy. I will completely abandon a public restroom if all the toilets contain remnants of the previous occupants. Peeing on top of a loved one's pee is gross enough. Peeing on stranger pee? Do you want me to have a panic attack?

What happened? Heart condition? Overdose? Too much to drink?
Worse than that, I'm afraid. She peed on stranger pee.

Maybe Henry and I will avoid public restrooms for a while longer. It's probably best.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Mother of a Day

This Mother's Day morning, the two littles were absolute terrors in church. Julia ended up in the nursery and Henry, who is terrified of the nursery, ate Apple Jacks off the floor while sprawled out under the pew. They were both awful and charming; Henry flirted with the women behind us, Julia told our friend in the nursery she was there to help (not because she had to be), and Katie was the model eldest child.

Sean made my favorite breakfast and favorite dinner and I had three helpings of banana pudding for dessert. I hung out with my mom on the couch all day. My husband and girls rubbed my feet and shoulders. I had a beer at three in the afternoon. I had horrible gas after dinner and I just sat there on the couch and didn't bother to excuse myself to fart.

It is Mother's Day and I am going to sit in the couch and fart and if you don't like it, you can leave the room.

We watched this video a dozen times and the kids danced to the song another half dozen.

Henry wanted to walk around in a pair of cotton training pants all afternoon. He has three pair and he kept changing them. During one of the dance numbers, the girls had him dressed in a red leotard, tutu and flower crown. He looked adorable and ridiculous.

I ate too much. I moved too little.

The past couple of weeks have been completely insane. Soccer and piano and a drama performance and two choral performances and kindergarten screening and tour and middle school orientation and teacher appreciation breakfasts and sock hops and middle school dance and another three weeks of craziness before summer finally, blessedly, arrives.

Today was an oasis. I stretched out and relaxed and enjoyed the company of my much loved mother and my wonderfully rotten kids. My husband gave me a beautiful day that made me feel loved and appreciated.

It rained most of the day and as I sat reading the paper I thought, 'what a shame to not be able to get out'. Then I saw my mom blowing raspberries on Henry's belly. Katie came in and played a song for me that she'd recorded, the primary lyrics of which were, 'I'm your favorite child, because I'm the smartest, and the prettiest, and the most athletic'. I watched as Julia got madder and madder and finally burst out with 'NO you are NOT. I'm her favorite child!'.

I thought 'what a shame to not be able to get out' and then, 'why would I ever want to leave?'

It is 11 pm on Mother's Day and Julia just started crying because of a nightmare. I got up out of bed, tripped and fell over Shutup Roxy (who was lying in wait in the middle of the freaking floor) and hurried to Julia's room. I got her some water and curled up next to her and kissed her sweaty head. A perfect end to this best of days.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I need a sweeper.

You know, a guy who comes in after I've died but before my kids start rifling through my shit. A guy to come in and get rid of all my skeletons.

"You don't have any skeletons," Sean says.

But I do. I have a drawer full of ratty underwear, including a pair of vintage Spanx with a large hole in one leg. I'm too cheap to buy another pair, and occasionally I need a little extra support.

"Those are so gross, I can't believe you wear them," Sean says.

Who sees them? I ask. I even put them on in the closet. If you've ever wedged yourself into a pair, or watched someone do it, you understand why.

My sweeper may also be required to come in cut the Spanx off my dead body. This narrows the candidates down significantly.

"I'd do it. I'd be your sweeper," Sean says.

Yeah, but what if he's already dead? Or out of town? Or playing golf? I need a backup sweeper.

I'll need the sweeper to take care of a few other items. The large tub of powdered Coffeemate Creamer, for instance, should be replaced with a crystal pitcher of heavy cream. Organic, of course. My cassette tape of Paula Abdul's Forever Your Girl should be donated to a desperate 14 year old girl, who longs to be a Solid Gold Dancer (she will teach you everything you need to know, my friend! Let the rhythm move you!). The small Moleskine notebook in the center console of my car should be burned. It includes detailed notes on possums, which makes me look creepy as fuck.

"Spanx, powdered creamer and Paula Abdul? Are you serious?" Sean says. "Those are your skeletons?"

I know, it's mortifying. Maybe I'll buy a new pair of Spanx, but I'll die before I give up my Coffeemate.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Box

"Well, what do you think it is?"
"I don't know, what do you think it is?"
"I don't know. There's not a name on it. Should we open it?"
"We'd better not, he'd be pissed."
"But what if he left it for us?"
"But there's no note!"
"Like that would do us any good. Do you remember the last time he left a note?"
"It's not my fault he has bad handwriting."
"It said, 'Give your brother Billy another chance'."
"I know what it said!"
"You thought it said 'Wave your willy and do a dance."
"That was embarrassing."
"For you and the neighbors, I'm sure."
"I don't need to relive it, thanks. Now, what about the box?"
"Let's see if we can guess what's in it. It's not too big..."
"Breadbox size. Do people use breadboxes still? I have one of those trays, but it's not really a box."
"Will you focus? No markings, big red bow."
"So, it's a gift, for sure."
"Safe assumption. A gift, so maybe something you wouldn't normally get for yourself..."
"A vibrator!"
"What? What is wrong with you?"
"What do you mean? You said something I wouldn't normally get for myself. I wouldn't get a vibrator. Or a butt plug. OK, maybe a butt plug."
"Why is everything always about sex to you?"
"It is not."
"It is! We get something, we don't even know what it is, and you assume it's something to stick in a hole."
"Vibrators aren't just for holes."
"Dude! Stop. It's not all about sex!"
"OK, but you have to admit a lot of the time it is."
"No, a lot of the time you make it about sex. You're obsessed. Sometimes a box is just a box. What are you laughing at?"
"You said box."
"Yeah, so?"
"Box means vagina."
"Only if you're a perv. Stop reading into things and get serious."
"Okay, fine. If the box is for us, and he didn't leave a note, and we can't call him, we'll just have to assume the gift is the box. With a pretty bow."
"That is ridiculous. the box is not the gift. We should just open it."
"ARE YOU CRAZY? Don't open it! He'll kill us!"
"Boxes are meant to be opened. He wouldn't have left it if he didn't want us to open it."
"Look, I know this guy in California, and he got a box just like this, and he opened it, and a rabid possum jumped out and ate his face."
"That's a lie."
"Is that a risk you want to take? You'd rather have your face gnawed off by a rabid possum than just be happy with the damned box?"
"Yes, I think so."
"Look, it's a nice box. Just enjoy the box. It's neat and clean and has a pretty bow and everyone can agree that it's a box. Once you open it, there's no telling what's going to be inside."
"I know. Isn't that exciting?"
"No! No, it's not exciting! It's lunacy! You open that box and the next thing you know the streets are teeming with rabid possums and no one has a face because they've all been chewed off and who suffers? The children! Won't someone think of the children?"
"Look, if you don't want to be a part of this, then clear out. Because I'm not happy with the box. I want to open the box, because I can't live my life knowing there's an unopened gift. It's silliness. You and your vibrators and rabid possums can do what you want, but I am opening this box. Do you hear me? I am opening this fucking box."

"You're going to be sorry."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Playing Possum

*An editorial note for you amateur etymologists: there is a difference between an opossum and a possum. The possum is an animal native to New Zealand and Australia. The opossum is the only marsupial native to North America. However, I have never heard an American, and certainly not a Southerner, refer to the country rat as an opossum. So, for this story, possum it is!

I went out with a group of friends last night to celebrate the birthday of L-, a sweet and lovely woman, transplanted from the heart of Texas. My friend C- was driving us home when she hit the brakes to avoid hitting a fat possum who was waddling across the road. "Oh, God!" I yelled, "I hate possums!"

I do. They're hideous, mean, disgusting looking things with their hairless tails and pointy teeth and beedy eyes. They bear an unsettling resemblance to a giant R-A-T, and you may remember how I feel about those awful things.

Honestly, look at this thing and tell me it wouldn't make you almost poopy if you saw it face to face in a dark alley.

Before I started writing this piece, I knew three things about possums:
1. They are ugly as shit.
2. They are mean as shit.
3. They are the only marsupial native to North America.

Also, they are all over rural North Carolina. So it was not surprising to see one lumbering across the road the other night. He crossed safely, and then my friend C- started telling us a story.

Some years ago, there was a local celebrity who told the story of his wife, who performed roadside rescues. But not the kind you might think; she didn't aid motorists or pick up hitchhikers or give out sandwiches or fix flat tires. When she would see a possum that had been hit and was dead on the side of the road, she would stop, get out, and check to see if it had babies with it.

Let me repeat that: She would go up to a dead motherfucking possum and check it for babies. If there was a litter of babies, she would take them home and raise them until they could be released back into the wild.

Look, I am an animal lover. Okay, 'lover' might be strong, but I am definitely an animal liker. But there isn't a snowball's chance in hell that I would poke around a roadkill anything, let alone a possum. I'm pretty sure I might fall over in a dead faint at the mere suggestion.

C- is telling this story, and talking about the baby rescue, and our friend L- says what may be the funniest thing I have ever heard in my life. She says, "So, would she do a c-section?"

Now I am picturing this middle aged, well off woman in a cardigan and pearls, bent over a dead possum, performing a c-section. I am crying, I'm laughing so hard, and C- (who is so much nicer than I am) says, "No, they have a pouch, like kangaroos. She'd check the pouch."And poor L- is yelling, "I am not a country person!", while I roll around in the back of the minivan laughing like a hyena.

I think checking a dead possum pouch might actually out-gross performing a dead possum c-section, because it requires more touching of said dead possum. Although I suppose she may have used tongs (probably just those little ice tongs, not big barbecue tongs). It seems to me that if a lady is the type of lady who will rescue baby possums and raise them in her home, she is probably the type who wouldn't have a problem touching them.

Apparently, there are all kinds of people who love possums, and even keep them as pets. In doing research for this post (I assure you, it was sloppy and incomplete), I learned that there are all kinds of people who check roadkill for babies. I find this incredibly disturbing and mildly nauseating. People! If God didn't want possums to get killed crossing the road, he wouldn't have made them so stupid! I see anywhere between one and three dead possums every week. This tells me that:
1. Possums are stupid.
2. God hates possums.
3. People need to stop rescuing possum babies, because they are messing with God's plan.

What would Jesus do? Jesus would stay in the g-d car.

But here is the most horrifying thought - possums play possum. When faced with danger, they can go into a catatonic state, becoming rigid with bulging eyes and a protruding tongue, and a foaming mouth. They can stay that way (appearing dead to a predator, or well meaning woman in a cardigan), for up to four hours.

Say you're super helper lady, scrubbing in for your dead possum c-section or perhaps just prepping your tongs to check the dead possum pouch. Then, all of a sudden, the possum wakes up, freaks out, and attacks you. Was it really worth being attacked by a man-eating possum on the off chance that you could save a couple of rat babies? NO! The answer is NO!

Stay in your car. Keep driving. Thank me later.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Desk is in Shambles

The upstairs of our house is occupied by Katie's room and bathroom, and a good sized bonus room. In the back portion of the bonus room runs a knee wall, with a long counter attached on one side. It is our computer desk, craft area, and would be writing space for me.

I want this to be my desk, but instead it is a repository of bullshit. Long strips of paper that Katie has cut and strewn all over the place. An overflowing bill basket; not necessarily full of bills, because it also contains a bunch of tissue paper and a sheet of stickers and an ink cartridge. An envelope of school pictures from last fall that I meant to, but failed to, send to relatives.

A screwdriver.

A sippy cup, because there is an asshole sippy cup in every room of this house. Every time I turn around, Henry has stashed a cup somewhere. Chances are, by the time I find them they reek of spoiled milk or, in the case of old orange juice - someone's dirty butt.

A broken crayon. The mousepad with the picture of Katie and Julia, when they were around 8 and 2. A paper mailbox that Katie has made for Henry, who receives tons of mail. A spool of ribbon. A rubber stamp (a butterfly).

A fossil in a rock, that Sean found as a child, and we've been carting around and putting on a desk for twenty-two years. A dictionary and the Everyday Writer. Both of which might it benefit me to open occasionally ( I am a little unsure of my use of 'it' right then). A Coke Zero. I love Coke Zero and I love powdered Coffeemate, and I am not ashamed. I eat Splenda. I have a friend that carries a gallon sized zipper bag of Splenda in individual packets, in her purse. I don't do that, but I did just take some to a friend's house in a little bowl.

An electric pencil sharperner. If you have a kid who does homework, you know this is essential.

Sean's old laptop and charger. I do not know why it is sitting there, taking up space. It is starting to piss me off.

A gallon zipper bag full of colored pencils. The stupid printer which I can't get to work half the time, and is perpetually out of ink. A stapler. Scissors, tape. Spool of ribbon. A picture of a laughing baby Katie. A wooden box, which is supposed to hold pencils, but is actually full of crap, spilling out of the sides. Cords to stuff. The phone cradle, the phone nowhere in sight. A wii remote is on the floor. The trashcan is the basket to the paper shredder, the business part removed. Removed after Julia tried to jam her fingers into it when she was tiny. The basket is, oddly, empty.

Probably because all the trash is on the desk.

My desk is in shambles. All these bits and pieces of things tell the story of what has happened here. Katie, making a mailbox for her brother. Julia, who is freakishly good at Mario Kart, tossing the wii remote on the floor when she was done playing. The stamps that Henry dumped out of the bin, his sippy cup half full.

I do the majority of my writing by fingertip on an ipad, sitting on the couch, surrounded by kids. I start and stop writing with an alarming frequency. I edit poorly, if at all. I write while I'm nursing Henry. I write while I'm cooking dinner and watching them play in the sandbox. It is so rarely done alone, in silence, uninterrupted.

It is a little overwhelming. So I keep looking at the things on my desk, appreciating the distraction.