My Tiny Rodent Heart

Okay folks, so this is just gonna be one of those brutally honest, fly by the seat of my pants, non-edited blogs – one where I ooze uncomfortable honesty and vomit vulnerability but at the end of the day, this is my therapy. And I need it right now – I mean I really need it.

I realized as of late that I spend less than two hours a week expressing myself wholly and as thoroughly as possible. And those precious minutes are ones I spend with my therapist behind closed doors, in a very small room that could be pronounced as a walk-in closet for some and in a professional setting – not with a close friend or a loved one. I mean I’ve been seeing my therapist for nearly three years so I suppose friend is a word one could use to describe her though I don’t observe our relationship as such. Don’t get me wrong – I like her but I like the boundary, too.

The truth is I don’t feel comfortable reaching out to most people anymore. I feel as if everyone has more important things to be concerning their selves with than my redundant depression. In therapy, we call this the voice in my head that “keeps me safe,” while constantly putting me down.

Just writing all of this out is creating this sense of grave anxiety – like what the hell am I thinking putting this out there, for any and everyone to read and know about me? I think the only faith I still maintain is the faith that I’m not alone. If that ever goes, I am unsure of what will become of me.

With that being said, I am lost and ironically enough, feeling utterly alone – longing to be somewhere where I can speak freely, openly without feeling insecure – longing to be with my mother. That is not to say that I wish myself dead – I just want my best friend and her unconditional love back.

Yes, yes, it’s the holidays. * roll my fucking eyes * It’s that time of year and yes, that fucking intensifies whatever feelings I may have been feeling prior and believe me, I was feeling this shit prior. The so-called “holidays” have never been easy since 2010 and have increasingly, seemingly gotten worse for my psyche each year.

I find myself hating everyone and every thing, lacking hope. Every day, world war three is congregating in my brain. There is this constant struggle between rationality and emotion, hate and love, wrong and right, just and unjust. They overlap, they intertwine, they contradict and they drive me fucking mad. Then begins the quest to dissociate, to block it out followed by the newly learned, oftentimes confusing notion that attempting to block it out inevitably worsens it.

I always liken myself to a hamster, in its little cage, on that stupid wheel, spinning ‘round and ‘round but not making any gains – a fucking rodent! – My tiny rodent heart pounding with every miniscule leap and bound on the plastic wheel, beating toward its imminent death.


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Q&A with a Bonafide Army Brat

On December 7th, 2004, I completed a college English Composition assignment to interview one person about their childhood. The person whom I chose was my dad. I recently came across the Q&A in a pile of the belongings I brought back with me from Kansas City this past September.

Whenever I think about how I wish I had known more about my dad, I think about this assignment and how it is probably one of the most, if not the most, intimate conversations about his past, his history, that we ever had. I always wished I had expanded upon this conversation post college English assignment. At the time, I guess my grades were the good excuse needed to conduct a well-rounded, structured conversation with him and I do hope you’ll enjoy what I uncovered.

Q: You were an “army brat,” correct?

A: Yeah

Q: How long were you an “army brat?”

A: From birth to sixteen years old.

Q: Name all the different countries, states and cities you have lived in.

A: Spokane, Washington, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Fort Watchuka, Arizona, San Antonio, Texas, Vicenza, Italy, Honolulu, Hawaii and Kansas City, Missouri

Q: Were there any places that you were going to live or be stationed in but were not?

A: Okinawa, Japan – Dad didn’t like the weather there because he was there and went through a typhoon and didn’t wanna bring his family there.

Q: Out of all the places you were stationed in, which one was your favorite?

A: Vicenza, Italy

Q: Why?

A: Because I got to learn the language, the customs. I got to see the beautiful country, plus we got to see our family a lot more because they lived in Caserta.

Q: How long were you based in Italy?

A: Two times in two years. I was about four and five years old the first time and eight and nine the second time.

Q: What can you tell me about Hawaii?

A: Very beautiful…

Q: Come on dad, elaborate…we all know that…

A: We would climb coconut trees and pick coconuts. One time, my brother John picked a hornet’s nest thinking it was a coconut and he dropped it on the ground near me. (pause) I was scared half to death of flying cockroaches. They were about 1 ½” long and ½” wide. They were crunchy when you stepped on them.

Q: Any other experiences in Hawaii you would like to share?

A: I was throwing rocks at cars one day, with friends, and the first car I hit was a cop car. Mr. Cop Man took me home.

Q: How old were you when you were in Hawaii?

A: Six and seven the first time. Eleven and twelve the second time…Oh, in three days, I lost both of my big toe nails riding a bike when my foot came around and caught on the asphalt. I sat in and recouped and went out the next day and did the other one… (pause, thinking) Every time we got transferred, within the continental United States, to another station, there was thirty days of vacation in between, so we’d just travel the country.

Q: Was there any place that you wanted to go and be stationed, but didn’t get the chance to?

A: Another foreign country woulda been cool.

Q: Continue with anything else you can think of…any anecdotes, stories, happenings, etc.

A: We were in Yellowstone one year and dad flicked a cigarette out the window and we were driving down the highway when we started smellin’ something’ burnin’ and it turns out, it (the cigarette) flew through the window and landed on a sleeping bag. Another time, up in Spokane, we lived in army housing and me and a friend of mine went out in a big grass field to watch the B52s and we were playing with matches and we started the whole big ass field on fire.

Q: What happened?

A: I got my butt beat.

Q: Let’s talk about Texas…How old were you when you lived in Texas?

A: Thirteen.
Q: How long did you live there?

A: About four years. Actually I guess I was about twelve.

Q: Is there anything significant you could tell us about San Antonio?

A: That’s where I started playing the drums. Me and some friends got a band together.

Q: What was the name of the band?

A: The Click.
Q: Out of all the places you lived, if you had to choose one to make your permanent residence now, which would it be?

A: Hawaii

Q: Why?

A: Self-explanatory – beautiful, warm weather, ocean.

Q: What would you say is the worst part about being an “army brat” in your mind?

A: Moving around too much. You just get to know people and then suddenly you’re gone, ya know?
Q: What was the best part about being an “army brat?”

A: Got to see the world or a big chunk of it.

Q: If you could change one thing about your childhood during these experiences and that time, what would it be?

A: Wouldn’t wanna be stationed in Fort San Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
Q: Why?

A: Because it had one of the major hospitals for amputees and stuff.

Q: And you saw a lot of that?

A: Yeah, they were all over the place. Dad taught ROTC and then he became a cryptologist for the Nike Hercules missiles, which means he had the codes for launching the nuclear missiles. 99% of the time, we were stationed on air force bases even though he was in the army. My dad also worked, one time, at the NORAD in the mountains of Colorado.
Q: And what is NORAD?

A: That’s where they watch the entire air traffic for the world.

Q: You, of course weren’t allowed inside?
A: No, they wouldn’t let us in there, though I was standing at the front gate one time.

Q: In conclusion, can you tell me about one life changing experience or event?

A: War sucks. After living in San Antonio and seeing people in wheelchairs and seeing people without arms and legs walking around – that was pretty rough for a thirteen, fourteen year old kid to see everyday. So, yeah, I’m opposed to any current and/or future wars.

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One More Game

Growing up, I watched A League of Their Own repeatedly, excessively. It’s one of a handful of favorite movies that I can recall character names and lines verbatim.

THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!” I’ll do my best impression of Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan when someone complains about, well, just about anything.


I daydreamed about, one day, being a part of the new all American women’s baseball team. In middle school, when my physical education teacher encouraged me to try out for softball, I promptly declined. Softball was just that – soft. If I was going to play any ball, it was going to be hardball – baseball.

Baseball was in my genes. It was a part of my family, not to mention America’s favorite pastime. Some of my most treasured childhood memories took place at numerous Kansas parks on summer evenings, cheering on my cousin, alongside my mother and aunt, as he basically grew up with a baseball bat glued to his hands.

Infinitely cherished were the summer outings to Kauffman Stadium with my dad to cheer on a team that most likely, in the early nineties, was going to lose – the Kansas City Royals. But that didn’t matter – it was tradition, or at least that’s how I recall it as an adult. The truth is it probably wasn’t traditional in the most literal sense but the summer that my dad declined my desire to witness at least one Royals game live – “Come on dad! We go every year!” I pleaded – That rejection sticks out like a sore thumb in all of those summers of my youth.

It was one of the only seemingly meager things my dad and I shared and he didn’t want to do it anymore. I recall thinking if I had known the summer before, then I could have made that unknowing last game more memorable, more meaningful. It could have been enough.

Alas, my dad and I never attended another Royals game together but I know if he were here with us today, he would be so fucking proud as am I of our Kansas City Royals for winning the World Series last night. He would say, “I’ve been waiting thirty years for this” and maybe, just maybe, we even would have gone to one more game together.

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A Human Experience, Honesty and Persistence

I have discovered a human experience I might not have realized was so indelibly relatable a mere five years ago. It is that of the desire to give up, throw in the towel per se. There is great significance in its complete and honest admission, and while many have told this story before me there are always the readers. The readers listen for that part, that sentence or that analogy that enables them to feel a little less alone and a lot more human.

I have experienced the desire to give up many times but innately I am someone who keeps putting one foot in front of the other, almost like a reflex. If I were to stop moving, stop trudging forward, I would find myself doing it anyhow, as if on autopilot. Believe me, I’ve tested this theory.

I do believe that this is the case for most human beings. Some of us are tested and some of us, not so much. This is wherein the unfairness lies, however, I have had to give up any faith that we will ever live in a just world. Not because I don’t think it possible but because I don’t think it beneficial. If life was fair, I have a hunch that our compassion would be diluted with a cap and our strength would be borderline superficial.

I suppose, in summation, what I’m saying is that our differences, our varied experiences are what sometimes make the world a beautiful place. The unjustness provides a contrast from which we are able to cast a bright light on our boundless fortitude, to give credit where credit is due, to accept that credit with a humble grace and to know that we have almost all been there.


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And then There is David

He’s a jerk, Linds,” my aunt said to me tonight in regards to David and the finalization of this divorce, to which I correctly replied, “No, Nance, there are jerks and then there is David.”

There was a time where no matter what I did – be it cry uncontrollably, involuntarily drool, drip snot down my freshly cleaned blouse from a cold, spill copious amounts of food upon my lap, non discreetly snort when I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants, my ex-husband found me irresistible – he found me appealing, lovable. He still loved every inch of my mind, body and soul. There was a time when I felt it, too – A time when there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that David would love me for forever and a day.

Only a month shy of our one-year wedding anniversary, David and I were “on the rocks.” He was away, “clearing his head” in New York while I remained in Los Angeles, “holding down the fort.” I was damn near believing we were “over,” our marriage was nearing its end what with his dramatic phone call in which he resentfully stated, “I loved you,” (take note of the past tense) followed by hanging up the telephone on me in the middle of the night. I don’t have proof but I am about 99.9% certain that alcohol had influence upon these histrionics.

The following night, I went to bed as usual, anticipating David’s return later the following evening. Around four in the morning, like clockwork, I awoke from my meager slumber, walked the length of our North Hollywood apartment to the kitchen to feed the cats and walked back to my bed. As I lay there half awake, I began hearing a foreign noise, a noise one should not be hearing at such wee hours of the morning. After about twenty seconds of this noise, I fully awoke to the alarming realization that someone was trying to break into my apartment.

As I held my breath, I recognized the sound of someone throwing his/her entire weight against my front door, attempting to bust the lock. I immediately jumped out of bed, grabbed my cell phone and crawled on all fours into the hallway, my heart pounding in my ears and sweat forming upon my forehead. If my cats were at the door, I told myself, then my keen senses and instincts were correct. My head cautiously rounded the doorway in the dark and much to my fear, both of my furry companions were standing alert, at the door – my oldest, the protective one, begun to meow loudly.

I called my best girlfriend, Sandy, who offered to hurry over, gun in tow. I declined as the sound of the front door banging ceased and my oldest cat jumped up in the window, appearing to watch someone from our second floor apartment.

Hang up the phone and call the cops now. And then call me back,” Sandy instructed. I followed her orders.

Long story short, no one and nothing was discovered. I told myself that someone was drunk and forgot where he/she lived though the significant timing of my husband being absent for days reluctantly forced me to think negatively. I felt as if someone had been watching me, knowing that I was presently alone at my home and attempted to take advantage.

That day, I had posted on Facebook about the early mornings’ frightening events and, of course, David saw this. He immediately phoned me as I was getting myself ready for work, assuring me that, “You know no matter what is going on between us, you can always call me if something like that happens.”

I guess he still loves me after all, I warmly thought to myself. Not that I ever doubted this amongst his dramatics but nonetheless, it still hurts, to say the bare minimum, to hear your husband tell you that he loved you, past tense.

In all honesty, I couldn’t wait to greet David upon his arrival home from New York that evening. I was so eager to throw my arms around his body and feel the warm security of his skin against mine. The early mornings’ events had rattled my sense of safety and it was true – no matter what we were going through, we wouldn’t wish harm upon the other.

The incident brought a sad sense of false intensity to our relationship, however. It created this illusion that we needed each other so how could we end things right then, especially with our one year anniversary approaching in a couple of weeks?

I often ask why, as humans, we don’t behave in this way naturally? Why must it take a potentially life threatening event to create a sense of urgency, to express how much we care, how much we love another person? It’s this ideal sense of loving hard and deeply, no matter what the circumstances, that have pitted me into a small and lonely space, one where I feel as if I’m the only person in the world who loves in this intense and committed manner.

As the sound of David’s footsteps became audible that evening, I anxiously anticipated his key in the lock, silently questioning whether or not he couldn’t wait to throw his arms around me either. Thankfully, he felt the urgency as much as I. The loving look upon his face, when he walked through our front door, made me walk toward him as he met me halfway. Now that I think about it, it was probably the last amazingly heartfelt hug we exchanged before our marriage came to its end, the kind of hug where the emotions are so heightened and you can tell that neither one of you desire to let go.

We agreed that we just needed to “start over” if there could ever be such a feat achieved. This fantasy lasted for about two weeks until things sped downhill once again – more like freefell. Some of the worst fights I can recall within David and I’s three year relationship occurred in the two and a half weeks between our July 9th anniversary and the early morning of the 29th when all was finally lost.

It may sound as if I’m reminiscing when in fact I actually began the retelling of this story above back in April of 2014. As I read through it, I felt the urge to edit quite a bit of it but I thought maybe it more appropriate to just exhibit the immense change that has taken place in what I have to say now.

I honestly cannot remember the feeling any longer, the love that I had for this person that I speak of every now and then, this person that I cannot wait to never have to speak of or to again. This is one of the things that I wonder if I may be dissociating from but dissociation implies that the feeling is still there somewhere and I can call on it at will. I’ve tried.

The memory of the feeling is there somewhere but the actual feeling is not. I feel like cueing the “aww” but while this may initially appear sad, it’s probably for the better. His vindictive, immature, hateful and cruel disposition made it easier for me to make the decision to end my marriage and not remembering how or why I once loved this person so much that I vowed my life to him is an ounce of relief. I won’t lie and tell you that I’m not often reminded of what a huge mistake I made and I am certain this self-ridicule will wither once he decides to figure out what is stalling our divorce.

One of my dear friends once stated accurately, and I paraphrase, “If David spent as much time on his relationship as he does on his dramatics then maybe they could actually work things out.”

It wasn’t the first time he had told me he didn’t love me anymore. The first time was in New York right before our big move to LA – only that time the sentiment was, “I’m not sure if I love you anymore.” As you can imagine a newlywed wife may feel, it was hysteria inducing.

Today, at 8:04 p.m. on October 6th, 2015, I am laughing out loud. Perhaps because the memory is just too painful and I’ve detached myself, or perhaps because I know I would never allow anyone to infiltrate and fuck with my life in that manner ever again. The extremity of the situation is comical after so much time. Or perhaps it’s a little bit of both.

I am still an idealist who loves hard and deeply but I now know whom not to love hard and deeply.

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As I gear up for session two of my therapy this week, my mind is filled with so many questions. This past Wednesday, my therapist and I both agreed that I have dissociated from quite a few of the painful experiences in my life. That is to say I have buried them deep down inside somewhere where they rarely every rear their ugly head. But, this act of isolating myself from my past experiences is counterproductive in my healing.

When my therapist recently got me to relive the last time I ever saw and spoke to my father, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I walked out of the session with smeared makeup, a weight on my shoulders and an impending headache. This was much to my dismay as I thought I had moved past this time in my life.

When I spoke of my alarm a few days later, it was brought to my attention that retelling something, letting it all out, will aide in detaching from it, putting it in its proper place in the past, in a much more effective way that simply not acknowledging it all together. This process of talking about it as if I’m living it again, and possibly again and again, may be more painful but it is much more constructive.

The thing is where do I begin? If I’m being honest with you and most importantly, with myself, I think I’ve dissociated from so much. Up until now, it has served as a coping mechanism, a relief from utter, inner turmoil. I guess I always thought that if I disconnected for a while, speaking on it only in vague references, then once I came back to it, it wouldn’t be as painful. I was sorely wrong.

Well, on the bright side, at least it’ll probably make for some interesting writing and blog posts. Stay tuned!

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Dear Readers

Dear readers, I simply wanted to drop a line, this evening, as I am diligently writing to complete a story that is near and dear to me. I have a couple of weeks to meet a deadline, for a prominent literary magazine and to have my story repeatedly edited and polished for submission. I do not wish to neglect my blog nor especially my readers so please accept this as my humble apology for the fewer and far between posts as of late.

When I decided to embark on this new chapter (no pun intended) of submitting my writing to professional literary magazines and other media outlets, I wasn’t certain if I wanted to share it or keep it under wraps for fear that “nothing will come of it.”   I realized that nothing coming of it was impossible because I can submit my writing over and over to a hundred different places and they can all end up rejections but at least I’ll know I have tried. And most importantly, at the end of the day, I am doing what I love, what ignites my soul. That is certainly not nothing!

I also had to remind myself that I have an amazing support system of people, near and far, dead and alive – people who wish me well and want to see me happy – people who read what I have to say. I will never take you for granted.

So, this is a blog post of my sheer gratitude for your patience, your kind words throughout the last couple of years and your curiosity. Please don’t ever hesitate to reach out. I will always do my best to respond in a timely manner to each and every one of you. If there were something you want to hear more about, something you have a question about, anything, I would love to hear from you!

In the meantime, I am going to leave you with this letter I stumbled upon during my recent collection of my mother’s belongings in Kansas City, a trip I tried vividly describing in Pi Miles to My Destination. I thought it befitting considering my mama was and still is my biggest cheerleader.


Dear Mama,

By the time you are reading this, I will be on my way to Los Angeles, California, where I will be living on my own for quite some time. This is not meant to be some sort of cheesy letter telling you how much I love you, but more like a “I’m growing up and doing my own things” kinda letter, an appreciation expression letter…though if it makes u cry or feel any other sort of “sappy” emotion, I apologize. Haha…Anywayz, I know it’s not like I’m not going to talk to you often or anything, but there are just some things I want you to know before I leave for such a long time and we are unable to see each other. I know that I have done some things that neither of us are very proud of, but I’ve also done some things that we can both be very proud of. Well, I hope that my moving to Los Angeles to attend Fashion school and do whatever else I choose to do will not only make myself proud, but I hope that you will be proud of me, as well. It is amazing how you learn something new everyday and since the day I was born, I have been learning new things everyday in Kansas City…Now, I will be learning new things everyday that I can’t just “come home” and share with you. I just pray that the outcome of whatever I learn and do will make you proud. I know that what I do from now on is my own decisions, but you really have been an inspiration, and I think everyone wants to make that one person happy and proud. It seems that no matter what I am doing, even if it is making me happy…I have to have the approval of my mother. And as annoying as that can be, it is inevitable. All the times I said that you weren’t supportive or encouraging, I realize that you always were and always have been…in more ways than one. I hope that someday you will realize how appreciative I truly am that you are allowing me this opportunity to go to California and attend this Fashion Institute. It is hard to describe the gratitude I feel. I dream that someday I will be able to repay you monetarily, but through your own little country home and all the other material things you’ve aspired of.

I know that I am not the nicest, sweetest daughter that I always could have been and I am truly sorry for all the times that I seriously hurt you and your feelings. I always say that I have no regrets because everything happens for a reason and u learn from your mistakes, and I still believe that with all my heart, but I learned in an unsatisfactory way. I am sorry.

No matter what I do and where I go, I will always remember where I come from and I know you are thinking that that is easier said than done, but you have taught me the simplicity of life. You have taught me that you truly can be happy with the “bare minimum.” You have taught me so much. I’ve watched you, for 18 years, now, go through so much shit and still come out strong and I just hope that that is a characteristic that I possess of yours. I am going to try so hard, every day, to not take anything for granted! I know that I still have to learn from my own mistakes, but at least, I have someone to look up to.

If I had myself as a daughter, I probably would have killed me before, but you didn’t and you would never. Do you know that I feel like I don’t deserve you and some of the things you’ve done for me? In fact, I know I don’t and of course, I’m not finished. There is more to be said. It is amazing to me when I think about the past years and how fast they came. I mean just six years ago, I was throwing a “Sevvy” party with Jen at her house. Now I’m throwing a “going away, we’re gettin’ out on our own, movin’ to California” gathering. Haha J I know that it is going to be hard not seeing you for a long time but if I have your motivation, ambition and strength, then I should be just fine. J

Call me whenever you want to, remember to set the alarm EVERY NITE please! Also, remember to do the things that make u happy…gardening, painting, being creative…where else do u think I got it? I will miss you and I love you so much. I thank you for the first 18 years of my life, and being the greatest mama you could. Once again, I’m at a loss of words, but I think you get the point. I love you.

Much Love Forever & Ever,

Your one & only daughter,

<3 Linds

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Pi Miles to My Destination

As I drove my rental van south on I-35 in Shawnee, Kansas a few minutes past five am on a Wednesday, headlights illuminating the dark wee hours of the morning, tears welled in my eyes. I sucked it up, not wanting to cloud my already poor night vision. The thought occurred to me that for the past four years, since my mother’s passing, I’ve been in search of something that I can’t quite find, that I’ll never find. I’ve been in search of her. And no matter how cognitively aware I may be that I’ll never find what I’m looking for, it’s almost like a reflex.

Last week, I returned from Kansas City after a long, solo twenty-six hour road trip. I spent a brief four days and three nights there before making my way back west with a van full of the remainder of my mother’s belongings. This included furnishings, photo albums and perhaps the most treasured of all, letters upon letters and cards written to my mother from various people, including myself, throughout the years. It’s truly a gold mine! She saved everything and I mean everything.

Those four days and three nights whirred by in the blink of an eye as I drove from one Kansas City icon to the next, showing my boyfriend where I spent the first eighteen years of my life. Thankfully, I was able to spend some of this time with loved ones I rarely get to see or speak to.

The emotional response to the death of my mother is to constantly seek her presence. Perhaps this is why it is not in the least bit difficult for me to drive to the home in which I grew up in and sit outside staring, reminiscing about “the old days.” Perhaps, I have this morbid, unconscious expectation that she’ll emerge from the wisteria-covered fence, gardening shovel in hand, perspiration dressing her smiling face and dirt covering her exposed knees.

I experienced this sudden heartache on a few other occasions during this quick trip, this feeling of grasping at something that I cannot quite reach. It was in stark contrast to the bold, green signs stating how many definite miles to my intended destination I was. On one of those signs, I imagine this particular state appearing as an irrational number, almost indefinite.

Mostly, it occurred when I was alone but once, in the presence of my grandmother. I realized that the photo of the beautiful woman on her refrigerator was my mother standing on the porch of her childhood home, white slacks and blue sweater, her long hair hanging down behind her narrow shoulders. I had been to the fridge many times before but this particular evening, I guess I just took a closer look.


I suppose being in that close proximity to her mother, her history, places in which she walked, lived and breathed made the inability to reach out and touch her that much more painful. And maybe I felt bad, guilty, for not noticing the photo beforehand? It has been a great fear of mine since she died that I may forget the sound of her voice, the texture of her hair, the color of her eyes, the way she would say “that-a-way” instead of “that way” and so forth.

I know she’s always with me. She’s a part of me. Her energy still exists. As I said, on a cognitive level, I understand and believe all of these things but I’ve realized that the old adage is bitter-sweetly true: the heart wants what the heart wants. And my heart will forever want what once filled the colossal hole that it has been beating with in her absence.

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Green Thumbs in The Garden

As the fourth anniversary of my mama’s passing approaches, I am filled with so many emotions, memories, thoughts and the relentless longing I now accept that I will always feel. I can post a trillion blogs about the very same sentiment and I will feel the exact same way on the trillionth that I felt on the first – and that is that I fucking miss her, I always will, I want her back and none of the above will ever be okay.

But that’s not what I wish to focus on as August 30th looms. I want to focus on a large piece of the beauty that was my mother and how she still exists for me, how as the late, great American poet, E.E. Cummings so elegantly wrote, “I carry (her) heart / I carry it in my heart.” *

My mama loved gardening – plants, vegetables, wildflowers, you name it – she had a green thumb to rival the greenest of thumbs. This morning, as I walked through my apartment watering my succulents, my rooting projects and my hanging devil’s ivy, I was filled with wonderful memories and the thought that my mama would be so proud of me.

When my mama was alive, I was hardly as enthusiastic as she probably would have liked for me to be when it came to receiving what she deemed, “the gardening tour” or just speaking garden speak in general. Perhaps it wasn’t so much a lack but that my enthusiasm just paled in comparison to my mother’s deep passion for plant life, for ending her days with the Earth lodged underneath her long fingernails. Upon arrival at my former home in Kansas City for a summer visit, she would be ever so anxious to show me the latest annual she planted surrounding the deck or the abundant growth of the wisteria I gifted her for her birthday when I was only eight.

A visit to nearby Family Tree Nursery was always in order and always fun. We would spend an hour or two perusing the green houses, smelling the heavenly scents of pretty flowers, shooing insects and traipsing through my mother’s nirvana. Often, we would leave empty handed as it was only an inspiration trip or simply, but profoundly a mother daughter bonding experience.

Mama posing in front of the bougainvillea, Los Angeles, 2010

Mama posing in front of the bougainvillea, Los Angeles, 2010

Her visits to Los Angeles would ignite that green spark in my mother’s thumb upon her realization that seasons don’t truly exist in southern California. Flowers that she could never imagine blooming in March in the Midwest were plentiful throughout “winter” here. She especially took a liking to the rich, colorful bougainvillea abound throughout the city, on every corner, every trellis and peaking over every fenced yard. During one of her visits in April of 2009, I took her to The Getty Museum’s spectacularly landscaped gardens – truly a work of art. This masterpiece oasis easily became one of her favorite places in Los Angeles.

Standing in front of the gardens at The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2009

Standing in front of the gardens at The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2009

Green thumbs are unfortunately not genetic so I do my best but I have found that the older I get, the more enthusiastic I have become. People often ask, “How did you know that” after I identify a specific flower on one of my hikes or I see a particular, unique tree in someone’s front yard. And the answer is inevitably, “my mama.”


Mama doing what mama loves – gardening in front of her home in Shawnee, Kansas, 2009

* E.E. Cummings actually wrote, “I carry your heart / I carry it in my heart”  Words were parenthesized/altered for purposes of this blog.

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