A Hairbrush Named Grief

One night when I was a kid, I was watching The Dukes of Hazzard with my mom and sister. A tangled mop of Yorkshire Terrier was burrowed into each of our laps. My sister and I were sitting in our matching brownish orange flannel nightgowns that my aunt had made, on our brownish orange couch, that sat on our brownish orange shag carpet, wrapped in our brownish orange afghans. My mom was in the brownish orange recliner to our right. Most of my memories from the late 70’s are bathed in an amber shellac glaze.

Just as Boss Hogg and Rosco were chasing Bo and Luke Duke to the Hazzard County line, we saw a dark figure flapping over our heads. It was a bat, which shouldn’t have come as a surprise. We lived in the woods. All sorts of things happen in the woods that don’t happen anywhere else. I’m not talking Deliverance, but I am saying I’ve seen some things. Like  a mouse shot through the eye with a BB Gun, dropping dead next to our toaster. And a possum that was shot 10 times from our goat turd covered porch, run hissing and growling from under the rusted car that lived in our front yard (I’m pretty sure it flipped us the bird as it ran unscathed into the woods). And a woman in waffle stomper boots and a nightgown, wading through a foggy swamp in the pre-dawn hours, as she ran coyotes from her chicken house, with a .22 shotgun. I’ve also seen a spider the size of my palm build a web over my bed in the night, and I’ve seen carpenter ants as fat as my pinkie, decimate the center beam supporting the log barn (that doubled as my bedroom…..) Even so, we grabbed each other and screamed “BAT!” as if we’d never seen anything like it. The dogs yipped, my sister and I hid under our afghans, and my mom picked up the closest thing she could find and flung it through the air like an abuela throwing her chancla. She was known for that. And also for being a damn good shot. My sister and I both had the knots on our heads to prove it. What her hand grabbed this time was a hairbrush. Not one of those flimsy ones that came 3 to a pack at Rite-Aid. It was the heavy kind, with a big flat head and a thick plastic handle that made a hollow whoosh-snap, whoosh-snap as it clawed it’s way through our hair. All I remember next, is seeing it tumbling like a Ninja’s Nunchuck—and when it hit it’s mark, that bat dropped like a rock and landed on the ground. Not dead, just stunned, as the three of us towered over it with wide eyes, tangled hair, and a yapping Yorkie tucked under each of our arms.

If this were a present day story, I’d probably have to lie and say that we wrapped it in cashmere and took turns breast feeding it back to health. But this was thirty some years ago in rural Oregon, so nope. That’s not what we did. We toed it into a dust pan with the frayed end of a BiMart slipper and flung it into the woods. I still remember it’s eyes, blinking up in stupefied desperation, as if it would have given it’s left fang for even the slightest connection between it’s body and it’s brain.

Fast forward to 2020. The year that has used absolutely no lube. We’re less than a month into this so-called “new reality” of financial ruin, unemployment, hoarding, food rationing, long lines to satisfy basic needs, supply shortages, sheltering in place, a medical community in crisis, desperate pleas for PPE and ventilators and standard supplies—and guess what? I’m not nearly as ok as my Facebook persona likes to pretend I am. This morning I made peanut butter cookies for breakfast. As I was standing at the kitchen island, stirring the batter with a smile on my face, not even those who know me best would have guessed the fantasy that was playing through my mind—of throwing the entire bowl through our glass slider just to watch it shatter. 

Continue reading “A Hairbrush Named Grief”

Lost and Found: Meet Virginia Part 2

So hey. I’m back. I never expected almost six months to pass before I’d feel ready to step inside of this story again. You know how it is when you’re so invested in a movie, you think you’re one of the characters? I remember the first time I saw Pretty Woman. I spent the rest of the day trying to fling my gorgeous mane of auburn curls back and forth over my shoulder. Never mind that the hair I actually owned was a double processed mass of shellac covered straw that spent the late 80’s and early 90’s being completely un-flingable. That’s kind of how it feels to step in and out of my own story. In a way I am that character, but I don’t always feel like that character, because even though the experiences I had were real, they changed me into someone else after the fact. Remembering the past is more than just telling what happened. It’s taking the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and beliefs that made me who I was, and weaving them together with the ones that make me who I am now, and then getting acquainted with the new person who inevitably shows up after that. Which leaves me feeling like a carton of Fruity Pebbles after a toddler gets a hold of the box. Dumped upside down and emptied out, with not much left besides some crunchy bits and pieces of myself scattered across the floor. Continue reading “Lost and Found: Meet Virginia Part 2”

Lost and Found: Meet Virginia-Part 1

You know what I’ve found? Writing from the cheap seats of unfiltered bitterness and rage is easy. Give me Racism, or Narcissistic Abuse or Spiritual Abuse, or Sexual Abuse and the volcano will flow. Novelist James Baldwin said that clinging to our anger and hatred is easy because once it’s gone, we’re left to deal with the pain. I think that must be true, because as I write, and the laws of energy (Can’t be created. Can’t be destroyed) turn the anger into something else—hello pain. Which makes it all that much harder to sit down and write again. It’s an unexpected cycle that I didn’t see coming: the closer I get to those coveted front row seats of letting What Is and What Was, live as a mostly peaceful whole, the words and emotions get stuck. Because that’s what pain does. Gets stuck in our  minds and bodies like gum in the sole of a waffle bottom shoe, picking up so much lint and dirt along the way that we can barely tell what it is. At times like this, I sort of miss that ratty old low end seat with it’s peeling upholstery and half chewed taffy stuck all up underneath, because the story I’m about to tell is still riddled with scabby sores and bruises. It’s also full of indescribably joybut to feel it, to own it, to make it mine and mine alone—I’ve learned that pain has to take the first swing if I want peace to be the last batter up. Continue reading “Lost and Found: Meet Virginia-Part 1”

The Itty Bitty, Big Things.

If a page in Open Office could be ripped out of my computer and tossed in the corner, you wouldn’t be able to see my floor right now. That’s how many times I’ve started this post.

And stopped.

And started again.

This is what happens when an agoraphobic story, desperately wants to be heard, but still isn’t convinced that it’s safe to walk out into the world. No matter how times you dress it up pretty and have it almost coaxed to the door, it may just as easily turn back around, and spend the evening on the couch, with a stale bag of Fritos instead. Continue reading “The Itty Bitty, Big Things.”

That Time My Daughter Was Gay.

Before I even start, I need to say a few things up front.

1- I have my daughter’s permission to tell this story.

2- This is not an attempt to be an authority on something I know nothing about, like being gay. Or having a child that’s gay. The only thing I can be an authority on, are my own experiences, and realizations, and flaws, and regrets. Of the last two especially, I have more than I can count. Continue reading “That Time My Daughter Was Gay.”

It’s More Than Just the Poopy Revenge.





The first time I saw The Help, I fell in love with Minny. She was a Truth Telling Nightmare, who fought back, regardless of the risks; and shined a light so bright, that the Doers of Darkness, had nowhere left to hide. And while tale after tale of bravery and heroism had me cheering the whole way through, nothing compared to Bad Ass Minny, taking a dump in a Narcissist’s pie. Continue reading “It’s More Than Just the Poopy Revenge.”

Mostly Peace, Love and Light…….And a little F-You.

Every time there’s a big political event, our social media News Feeds fill up with fake news, ugly memes, and depending on who your friends are, flat out personal attacks, from people you thought were somewhat decent. Or at the very least, who had a base level of respect for highly regarded people–like say, a favorite High School Teacher–to not equate them to a “whore” for participating in a march; or call them a “cry baby” when they post their views; or tell them to stop their whining and “go make a sandwich”. Continue reading “Mostly Peace, Love and Light…….And a little F-You.”