Sunday, November 29, 2009


So before I was doing everything around the house, and couldn't keep up. Now I do it all one-handed. For 6 to 8 weeks.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Can I Have a Pony?

So instead of buying a Ferrari, I buy farm animals. Nice midlife crisis I'm having.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Breakdown World Tour

My mom scheduled her psychotic break for this weekend. Not her usual psychotic breaks, you know the casual ones. This is a real one. I noticed it on Saturday, I woke up with a few sick kids, and realized I was getting sick too. Heavy chest. Runny nose. Still, we decided to hang out over at Moose's house. I could sew some Halloween costumes (I scored at the thrift store, a king outfit and a princess outfit, and a bunny outfit) I just needed to add a few homemade touches to make it feel more substantial.

I noticed my mom would not stop talking. Not in her normal way. She seemed, um, nuts. I felt that annoying mom feeling coming on and just let it fill me up like usual. But by the end of the day, I noticed she was not sleeping. She was slurring her speech a little bit. Did she have a stroke? She was taking these hardcore antibiotics to fight a bad chest cold, maybe pneumonia. A father at our school had died of pneumonia/swine flu a few weeks ago. So the antibiotics were good.

But they were not good. She was completely confused. Speaking but not stringing her sentences together, stumbling for words. Like my gramma after her stroke. I kept calling the doctor. Finally got to him Sunday night. Speakerphone. He tells me he thinks my mom need a psych evaluation.

My mom has needed a psych evaluation for decades. But no, this is a real, scary, possibly manic depressive psychotic break. The doctor says calmly. In his thin, gentle way. Like she's twisted a pinky finger. Except much worse.

So we get her some medicine so she can sleep, but we don't tell her it's antipsychotic. The word itself freaks me out. You don't want your mom and psychotic to be in the same sentence. I feed her the little pill every half hour like he says. I put the baby to bed and go over to her room and she's half on the bed, legs hanging off, asleep. I put her in bed. She wakes up and I make her eat some chicken and drink some lemonade. She talks with her eyes closed, or open but she's not really seeing me. If she saw me, she'd see I was crying. She talks about alcoholism. About her mother. About the kids. About how much she loves me.

I don't understand why we get involved with people, with love, like this. Why do people have to care about other people? It's a trap, you're stuck, you love people, it hurts. To see your mom lost, fragile, vulnerable, it's awful. There's no words.

I see why I'm home with the kids. A mother matters more than anyone in the whole world. I'm old, and my mother matters to me. Her being well, and functioning, and being back the way she was, ordering stuff off of QVC and being annoying, I want it all back.

I am lucky enough, depressingly enough, to have been there for all of her breakdowns. We're on the world tour. It's been a long time between stops. This poor woman - and yet I see all the things I love about her. Things only I would care about. The shape of her face. Her fingers in my hair, scratching my head. Her crazy laugh. The way she has kept going in spite of feeling crippling loss inside. She is my mother. These are things that can't be replaced by anyone else.

We're going to the doctor in the morning. I whispered to him on the phone, "Do people come back from this?" afraid of his answer. "They do," he said.

She's laying over there, frail as broken crackers. Her brain all in tatters. I hope there's a chance.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Got Goats?

Yes, I'm crazy. No, I did not videotape the goats coming to our house. Because on the last boat ride we took (the first and last for now), I stood up and dropped the video camera into a few drops of water enjoying the bottom of the boat. That baptism which the camera decided was a good enough reason to give up on living.

A lady, a nice lady, who looked more like a girl, but 40 means lady, she came and brought us the goats. She's renting out a stall in the barn. We stood in the driveway while the big truck backed up and then the big white door - we could see shapes through the crack in the door, but the suspense was tremendous. Then after an eternity the door was whooshed open, and there was the smallest herd of goats and sheep, standing silently inside. Looking cornfused. The kids breathed in a collective oohhhh.

The goats figured out to walk out, and as we stood aside a lady named Wendy who looked more like let's call her haggard, not a friend to sunscreen or its benefits, anyway, she was a goat expert, and sort of waved them the right direction, which worked for them. They managed to trot up the driveway and into the kingdom of the barn, which they have now dominated with large amounts of tiny poops. Spread around so you can't gather them very well. By the way.

We hang on the fence and watch the goats. The sheep hang in a set of three - white, brown and black. (I identify with the black sheep.) (heh heh). They look more intelligent than their country goat brothers and sisters who look like hicks. Something about the skinny goat faces, tiny teeth and beards. They look like they spend alot of time laid off work in bars in Alabama low country. The sheep look like concert pianists.

Goats and sheep don't do a helluva lot. Chickens are working for you. They squeeze you out something you can eat, once a day. The goats and sheep - they're furry. They have the weird slanted eyeball pupils that is a little like satan. You can see why the devil likes goats.

Anyway, it's nice to have something living in the barn. The bunnies are fun but they don't say baaa. They're so busy with their typing. (Bunnies look like stenographers.)

Hank the big sheepherding dog thinks God has answered his call. His own herd of sheep. He just sits there loveglazed, looking at them with the adoration of a betrothed on his wedding day. Hank is a lumberjack.

Owen, our scared dog, is a priest. Maisie, our old dog, is a former showgirl.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Ice Cream Man Scares Me

The ice cream man started coming by the house everyday. It was cute at first but after awhile, give it a rest man. We don't have that much money for ice cream, already.

I made the mistake of befriending the guy. Chris. His ice cream truck looks like typical ice cream trucks. A slightly beaten up white van with peeling ice cream stickers on the side. It looks seedy, like maybe he sleeps on the floor next to the Blow Pops.

Chris is from Armenia which I think is an actual country, not just in Glendale. My mom thinks he's Italian, which is more romantic, so I haven't broken it to her. The first time we chatted it was exciting, the kids had their dollars clutched in their hands, every ice cream looked so good, no one could decide anything. Chris told me he was thinking of getting an incubator, to raise baby chickens. We spent about 3000 dollars on ice cream and the visit ended.

The next time we saw him (the very next day), I struggled out there with three wet kids from the pool. (The kids go into a frenzy when they hear the truck's warbled music. 'I peen puck' Lilly says.) As the kids pick their ice creams, and I say hi to Chris, he reaches out to shake my hand. I shake it gratefully, and then pull my hand back at the appropriate time. He does not let go of my hand. There is the moment of ick. He is holding my hand because he wants to hold my hand because he wants - what does he want? How bout Awkward? I wonder how much awkward costs, and here I am getting it for free. I finally get my hand back, but now I can no longer look Chris in the eye. Why did he do that? Why couldn't we be friends with a regular handshake? Did he have to ruin ice cream??

The last time I saw Chris (I believe it was the next day after that), he wanted me to make a phone call for him. Something about wanting a dozen eggs delivered to a liquor store at 7 pm. I had been watching too much true crime on tv - was he negotiating a drug deal? Why did I have to call for him? Couldn't he call on his ice cream phone? Of course I said I would call, although I went inside with knit brows, and made the half-hearted call to some guy named Kevin who had no idea what I was talking about: "um, my ice cream man wants some eggs or something?"

I don't go out when the ice cream man comes anymore. Since the weird egg phone call and the handshake, I send someone else out with the kids - husband, visiting mom friend, aunt. Anyone but me. The ice cream truck music sounds like a horror movie in general, but now it really gets me.

Summer is almost over. I promise to venture forth and visit Chris in one last brave act before the last day winds down. I will wave from a respectful distance. If he tries to get me to engage in some kind of strange other conversation, I will wave and pretend I've undergone a lobotomy. It's not that I don't want to be friends, or to help people get their eggs or drugs, for god's sake. I didn't want to cross over the line with the guy in the white van with the music. I just wanted to float.

The root beer float. I just wanted the ice cream.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Following the Leader

I can't stop watching the Dog Whisperer. I think I'm in love with Cesar Millan. He has such dark brown eyes. Big, soft dog eyes. I want to go to his dog camp and live in the herd. He'd mix my food with his own hands. I would learn to work in a pack. I would submit.
Seriously, the guy is a genius. He just whips into these people's lives and points out that they have the problem, not the dog. They have to be leaders. The dog is content to follow a strong leader.
I think I have always confused leading with Knowing Everything. Even the writing I'm doing on Ehow, it contributes to this I Know Everything problem. I KNOW I will get in trouble for stealing stuff from the thrift store, and yet I do it. Sometimes.
I think I need a leader, and all these years, I keep looking for that outside leader. I think Cesar is saying TO ME - YOU ARE THE LEADER. But Cesar, can't I come live in your dog camp? Even though you're from Mexico can I still follow you? Wait, he's saying. YOU can do it. YOU are the leader. Not the one who knows everything. But the one who can lead.
I've been really good at being haphazard my whole life. I've perfected it. But I think this is a whole new level I can reach. Staying haphazard (which means never filing anything on my desk) and at the same time, finding diamond-like clarity within my heart. Tight, pure, beautiful silence. Acceptance. Love.
Like the stretched out Hank by the front door, on the cool tile, sleeping. Expecting nothing, happy for everything. Happy just to see your face.
Being the leader doesn't mean you know what you're doing. It just means you are at peace with your own power, and that your weaknesses are what make you shiny, and loveable.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bad Dog Update

My mom's dog and our dog have been kept separated. Turns out they only bust out of the house and go crazy when they're together. So far Hank is acting like he's never even thought of eating small rabbit-like dogs. He even puts himself into the kitchen when we head for the front door, like he knows it's time to go behind the babygate. He must've heard me calling all the rescue people and saying they could come take him.

He's on probation. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hank Eats Neighbor's Dog

When is it time to give up a bad dog?

I'm not sure it's the dog that's bad, although running out the door and over to a tiny dog and grabbing it by the neck is pretty bad. But the circumstances of the household are bad. Doors get left open by kids (especially babies) who have just learned how to use doors, dogs run out - unless the dog is tied to me, I can't watch him 24 hours a day. And aren't the kids more important?

The hell that insued because I took twenty minutes to sit out back with the chickens and talk to Chris long distance on the telephone while the kids watched Sponge Bob. The front door got opened, the dogs ran out. The dogs when they are together, decide sometimes to pick on other small animals. It's freaky. Then I had to deal with Barry yelling at the kid who left the door open, the 8 year old who stands dejected on one foot, then the neighbor who looks like a walking, two hundred pound, once-hearty tumor that has sagged and gathered all around her waistline. I had to take her and her tiny dog who was completely fine to the vet, and listen to her rail at me about my terrible kids, my terrible parenting and my terrible dog, and I took it all because I knew she was scared. I tried to let it just wash past me, even though it hurt, because I know it's awful to have your dog attacked. But I couldn't help feeling angry that the insults she hurled weren't more intelligent, instead everything was base because she is an uneducated racist, anti-gay, child-hating white woman. But I felt terrible about the trauma, and her dog. She was right about that.

The vet pronounced the dog in excellent health, and gave me a bill for a hundred dollars, which I paid quietly. I held the door open for the lady. I helped her into the van. I apologized and agreed with everything she said. I petted the dog.

At her house, she told me she was sorry for all the mean things she said. I told her it was okay. I got home and locked the dogs out back. The dogs may never get out of the house again. I wrote emails to people about adopting out my big dog Hank.

The next day, the whole day I had a crippling headache.

A woman I talked to last year said she could foster Hank until we found him a home. Nathan wants to keep Hank. Keeping Hank would mean every time the door is opened, I have to panic. Every time the door is opened for the next four to six years. It means gates up all the time. I have three kids. Climbing in and out, over and around gates.

I hate what he did, but I still love Hank. That's the sad part. I'm sure we'll figure it out, and do what's right. We're still thinking about it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I feel like I'm not enjoying my life enough. I noticed this after my second hour in the PTA closet with Kathy.

I know, it sounds more interesting than it was. It was actually just a closet with a bunch of junk in it, and me ignoring the baby who was wandering the auditorium, folding all the wooden seats up.

I can't seem to have fun unless I'm over-responsible. Lots of chickens, lots of dogs, lots of kids, lots of work, lots of laundry, lots of yard work. Then I wonder why I don't know how to relax. I think if I relaxed, I might just fall over. No wonder I can't stop watching TLC. All the shows appeal to my zoned out, underused laugh section. The Lady with Giant Legs. That was an actual show. People with Obsessive disorders. Midget couples. Am I actually creating this channel out of my innermost brain desires? Families with 18 children. Fat people. Alcoholics. What's with the religion? Religion is everywhere, and people who are religious dress really badly.

I think the raising of these kids and the worry and the pressure and the love and the cooking just makes me into a giant wad of wad by 11 at night. I sit there sucking in the shows about real people who kill each other. I know why they kill each other. It's the cooking.

Anyway. You wonder why I haven't been writing. I did spend time with Nathan today buying carnival stuff at Smart and Final. And the baby is waiting for me to come snuggle with her, way late at night, even though she's asleep. And Emma in her blue gymnastics outfit, crying because her back hurt, and she's got a new tooth coming in. These kids just keep going. I better get to bed. They're already ahead of me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hope in a Messy World

My brother is having surgery to have a large tumor removed, along with his kidney. This is the brother I haven't spoken to in years, the one I was closest to growing up, and the one who seemed to be headed down the most troubled road. Dealing with his emergency, and my mom flying back there to deal with his emergency, and my parents trying to talk and get along after all these years...

And then the dog keeps eating the chickens we got to lay eggs, so every night I'd hear that squawking and run out usually too late to save the chicken. Then I'd be picking up chicken pieces and see that the insides of something alive isn't really all that complicated. A few chunky pieces here, connected with some string. We really are all little earth machines, fully functioned, designed to keep going. Until a dog takes us out.

My connections to the people in my family, even the connections that are dusty and look like they are not functioning - are intense. After dealing with my brother for the first time in years, I went home and chopped some bushes out back. I was making a home for the chickens, trying to chop away a huge bush that had overgrown and then died, leaving a wall of dead sticks that needed a chainsaw. All I had was a pair of hand choppers. I found out that you can chop down almost an entire bush by slowly chopping the pieces you can reach until you get to the deep parts, the core. I kept thinking about my brother's guts, and how some doctor was going to be doing the same thing with smaller instruments. I thought about my mom's eye having a bleed, and all those little veins and branches that make up the blood supply to the eye. I chopped while the chickens watched me, poking around, and the dog sat nearby, watching the chickens. A comedic circle of life. Interior and exterior hacking.

All those sticks, the hacking seemed impossible. No way little old me could chop down an entire country of a bush. It would take hours. Days. Lots of scratches. But there was no one else to do it. So I had to keep going.

The kids and I had been trying to make a place for these chickens, even though they hadn't laid us one egg. Apparently I had the loser chickens, the ones that couldn't figure out what they were good for, and yet here I am hacking, just in case. We kept checking, every few hours, every day for that egg.

Today, not in the nest boxes we built, or on the hay we piled neatly, but in the pile of chopped bush, I accidentally saw the egg the new chicken laid for us. In the middle of the haphazard briars and branches. That perfect, huge brown egg. I left it there for the kids to see when we got home from school. By the time the kids got out there, the egg had a white egg next to - our other chicken had laid one right next to it.

There is hope in a messy world.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Anyone Got the Time?

I should save up money and go on trips more. Going to the snow with the kids and Barry had us out someplace new, white and exhausted. Felt so good to see woods, to breathe air without chunks in it. To enjoy playing. Flinging ourselves into the snow.

These kids are the greatest things. The only bad thing is that they keep growing. There is this terrible feeling that everything is temporary, and I know it because I see the marks on the wall getting higher and higher when we measure them. I need a magic potion to keep everything just as it is. Except keep the good, new parts that I like. I guess I just don't want to be left behind. I like me, I just like this family so much. The family feeling is so much bigger than I anticipated. When you have something great, you tend to want to duplicate it. Look at the guy who invented toilets. Now everyone has one, and it's true, they are great. I'm glad he shared.

I guess we only have this minute, speeding by. I have these three comets, trying grab a few shards of their dusty tails. I don't want much. I only want to stop time. I can see that these three tiny people are the greatest things that ever happened to me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So There's This Horse

I am a rational person. Except I don't pay the bills right now, Barry does it, which frees me up to thinking and believing that we are rich, buoyant, soaring ahead and above any woes. Not paying the bills is maybe the only thing keeping me sane.

So I ride all these horses for people right now. Riding horses just makes me want to be Amish. I would like to drive a cart to school to drop off the kids. I would like to wear prairie dresses. I would like to sit outside all day and look for Indians.

This is what living in Los Angeles in 2009 is doing to me.

Perhaps I need to start my own living museum. We do have Barry's dad, who is 93. He is a living museum. But I mean more of an interactive one, where you could ride on stuff. Watch candles being made and actual cows give actual milk.

There's a horse this guy is giving away nearby that is maybe the slowest horse I have ever ridden. He is not interested in going anywhere. I don't have time to ride, I have three little kids whom I mostly ignore. But this guy keeps coming back to me. The kids are growing up too fast. Maybe if I get on a very slow horse I can stop time. I think this is my dilemma. My kid life crisis.

Anyway that's all love Jule

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BiblioFiles - New Ezine Publication

Hey, I'm published again. Check out my story "The Big K" in Bibliofiles. It's not bible-y, if that's what you're thinking. Far from it, man.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Full Speed, Iceberg Dead Ahead

I spent part of Christmas Eve in a McDonald's with Greg. Our kids played in the tubey plaything that looped above our heads, and I listened to Greg talk while occasionally berating him, and this is the extent of our relationship. In the past, I would have been sleeping with both Greg AND his lovely wife, but now this is it, Happy Meals and I'll have an order of We Don't Talk About That, please.

I'm not sure where my life went. Well, I mean, I see it, running around in fresh new bodies that I constantly pump full of food, some of the food coming directly fresh from my own body. Okay, so there's where my life went. But my life also kept happening, like an ongoing process, a book flipping past while I was tied up in the corner unable to move or participate, and every other part of me began to rust and break off. I used to be creative. I used to write and get fired for writing about people at my jobs. Now I troll Craig's List for horses. I think I'm looking for a fast ride out of here. The furrier the better. I think I don't want to go very far. But I definitely want to go out cowboy style.

I live in this horse neighborhood (neigh borhood, get it?) and it's like being in a candy store with no money. These people with horses are just RIDING them, right in my face. Where do they get their money? Most of these people can't even conjugate a verb, and yet they're THRIVING in the horse ownership.

And there's this script I started ten years ago about past lives, also tied to my tremendous need to be Amish without the religion, to move back to a simpler time, to drive a living animal not an engine. I'm kind of dying to write it again, to solve it. It's still there waiting for me to finish with all these kids and get back to it. Maybe I have to wait until Barry and I move to some rural town in Tennessee where we can actually afford to live, and then he and I can actually work out a story beginning to end. Oh, and also have a conversation. Just in time for our tragic deaths of old age.

I guess these are New Year's Resolutions. Simplified as this:

Talk to Husband
of course love those kids

It's all love. Just getting to all these things takes some kind of genius.