Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Home Is Wherever I'm With You

For some reason this week, I’ve been having more “one year ago today, I was doing XYZ” moments.  I think I’m trying to impress upon myself the significance of where I am in my life right now, because I’ve had no real time to absorb how many changes have taken place. 

One year ago today, I would be five days away from talking to my soulmate for the first time.  Not my only, first or possibly even last soulmate (I believe we have dozens, if we’re lucky, of all forms).  But my heart would grow several sizes, very soon, one year ago today and I had no idea.  It happens when you least expect it, right?  No longer expecting anything was an understatement for me, I was honestly thinking that love would never find me.  A cliché statement, but a true one.  I still have a hard time believing that a man loves me.  I am someone’s best person in the world.  I have never known this feeling before, and yet I’ve slipped into it like sliding into a warm bath – effortlessly and easily, and with a peace of mind that truly surprises me.

I’ve learned so much.  I didn’t know how to be with a man so comfortably.  I have always been a bit intimidated of men, and a little unsure of what to say.  I didn’t know I had the ability to have a man as my best friend, lover, heart connection, best thought. 

I also thought I knew about how to live and love with someone’s faults.  But I really didn’t.  I also am still a bit amazed that someone can love MY faults and weird flaws so much.  And here’s something I also find amusing – I’m still me.  I didn’t have to become a different person or version of myself, my job still sucks and my family is still crazy, and I’ve gained a few pounds and he still looks at me like he just took a drink of water on a hot day.

We are moving in together, to that house up there, with the actual white picket fence ;)

 He'll be moving in in a couple of weeks.  I move in September 1.  We are combining households, having talks about whose coffee table should go where, which room should his son have, where should the litter box be?  We have a new rug, a new couch.  We’re deliciously excited to finally be together every single day without it requiring logistics of driving from one’s home to another.  We’re together more than we’re apart anyway, although I know this is going to give us a new layer of learning about each other.  The only thing I’m a bit worried about is my occasional need for alone time.  I don’t have a ton of need for down time with him because being with him is like being with myself.  His skin feels like my skin; we begin and end with each other most days.   It’s taken a lot of work, but not at all, at the same time.

We’ll be in our home just before our one-year anniversary.  I swear to you…I didn’t see any of this happening in my wildest, weirdest, wonderful dreams. 

The couple we are renting from is about my parents age, and one is an author.  For a housewarming, he gave us a copy of his book – he wrote inside, “To Corey and Stephanie.  Life has many adventures; I hope you enjoy this one.”

Off we go, honeybunny.  You’re the best part of all my days.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Six Months

Six months ago we had our first date. 

Six months ago I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to have good sex. Six months ago I didn’t know what it was like to be adored.  I didn’t know what it was like to cook dinner with someone every night and cuddle on the couch. 

didn’t know about having the hard conversations that would make me panic afterwards at how close we came sometimes to deciding to go our separate ways.

I didn’t know what it was like to keep holding hands after those hard conversations.

I told him the other day – you know you flipped my world upside down and inside out. In a good way, but still.  I don’t know how to do relationships that are loving, equally, with a future on the horizon if I want it. 

I am learning how to be someone’s girlfriend.  

Learning how to be someone’s dad’s girlfriend

Six Month Snapshots

*We stopped to see my grandmother and aunt on our way back from our first weekend trip away together, and had lunch with them. He’d never met my grandmother, and he slipped his credit card to me for me to go pay for everyone’s food even though money is very tight for him right now.   I walked back to the table, and see him helping my grandmother into her bright red coat as she leaned on her cane.  Heart, stomach, swoop.

*Walking into the living room to see him outside on my balcony with a stolen cigarette, holding his arm at an odd outstretched angle and bending down.  Looked closer to see he was holding smoke away from Allie (my cat), and gently brushing her.

*That vulnerable, almost sheepish look and small tentative smile when he got in the shower with me for the first time.  The awkward way we stood for a moment, looking at each other in fluorescent unforgiving light and smiling like idiots and pretending not to notice the significance of the moment.

*Gently brushing hands through my hair and over my skin, stroking me gently to sleep every night we’re together which is more often than not these days. 

(Blog-friends, I’m still here, still reading, still loving all of you)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Mama, He’s Crazy

Mercury is in retrograde.  The sky is red, the ocean is white, birds fly backwards.  I’m falling in love.

Everything I ever thought about relationships, my ability to be loved, my ability to love back, my ability to trust and let myself be trusted, has been turned around upside down and all around.  It’s the easiest thing in the world and yet for me, this is entirely new and unchartered.  I feel like this wonderful man has been handed a feral cat that’s been occasionally touched and fed but bolts if you reach to lift it.  He says he’s got nothing but time. He’s here. I can tell him anything.  He wants to know what happened to “hurt you so bad.”

Last night, I was laying in his arms on the couch, while he kissed my face all over and rubbed my back.  This is our normal.  We are officially Those People that are in constant contact, and sit on the same side of the table at restaurants.  I got fixated in his eyes and I kept staring into them thinking how unfair it is to him that he’s going to have to learn about my past.  He’s going to have to navigate me slowly, and know why I might tense up.  I wish I could spare him that.  I wish this wasn’t on the horizon.  He furrowed his brow and asked what the face I was making meant. “What are you thinking? Something’s turning up there, Beautiful.”  I said nothing, and tried to dismiss it but it was such an incredibly lame attempt at dismissal that we both ignored it.  

He said to me very seriously “you can talk to me about anything.”  I buried my face into his neck and held on tight.  Tight enough to make him stay.  I kept squeezing him, and my breath shook.  He ran his hands up and down my sides for a long while, letting me.  He finally whispered “you just want my piece of pumpkin pie. You don’t have to be so dramatic about it.”  I laughed so hard I started choking.  He’s just so damn sweet. I don’t know if it will last.

I think it will. In my deepest heart, I know it will (if I let it).  I’m afraid though; I don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know how to say “you have to take it slow with me, because I was raped five years ago and I haven’t been the same since.”   

I don’t know how to say that to him, place that at his feet, and make him have to figure out how to navigate me in this new normal.  I don’t want him to be afraid to touch me. But I owe it to myself to tell this man everything, and put the wall down, and just…leap.

Birds are flying backwards and so am I, up and over the moon, into universes unseen.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Traitorous Treachery

I've been listening to the soundtrack of the Broadway play "Hamilton" for the last several weeks. I LOVE IT. One of the songs keeps playing on a loop in my brain this weekend, as shame and guilt floods me knowing that tomorrow afternoon, one of my staff is going to be laid off.

I've mentored this girl (inherited by me in a bad situation with another manager) carefully and I feel 100% better that she'll be better poised to go forward from here after the last 8/9 months under me. I took a skittish, quiet girl afraid of her own shadow and slowly gave her the tools to rebuild her own confidence.

I'm feeling a lot of things tonight--guilty about all of it, guilty about not being able to stop the corporate wheel from turning, accepting that I may well be next.

History Has Its Eyes On You (Hamilton)

I was younger than you are now when I was given my first command
I led my men straight into a massacre
I witnessed their deaths firsthand
I made every mistake
And felt the shame rise in me and even now I lie awake
Knowing history has its eyes on me.

I don't have the eyes of the nation on me, a mid-level manager mid-level through life. Nor the state, nor the city.

Just the big eyes of young woman, who laughs easily now and has picked up my quick wit. "You make me want to think big," she said to me once.

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story."

She has a trusting look on her face every time she looks at me.

Monday, March 14, 2016


*I've been writing a lot lately, essay-style, mainly. All for myself, not for consumption yet. I wanted to share this one with the blog-world though, for my few but beloved readers, who have watched me reach this point all these years. I'm writing poetry, lyrical things that are different for me. I'm kind of loving it. I'm in a good place, in general, all the way around.

I'm going off to find myself, some will say. I'm going off to blind myself, be kind to myself, unwind myself on a beach or the woods or a mountain far away. Climb, swim, move, be, stop, think, go, be still. Still. Still you're lost until you're found, looking in the mirror on a Tuesday with red eyes. Hello, you say, touching your lips: I've been waiting for so long.

"If you have kids, you'll see that....." Her laughing voice keeps speaking though for me it's become little more than white noise. That filtered air that cycles through an airplane, humming in your ears, as you try to not let your arm touch the stranger beside you. I'm sure I kept smiling and nodding. I'm sure I said the right things back.
As my 34th year comes to a close, and I still don't have my proverbial shit together (or do I?), the If's keep coming. 

To be fair, I started using the "If's" first. This was mostly a defense mechanism, to tell myself that hey man, it's cool. Things happen or they don't. I'm a survivor. I don't need anyone or anything--and IF things go my way or they don't, I'll land on my feet. And what is "my way" for that matter, anyway?
2007: "Just wait, when you have kids you'll learn" as I looked in half horror/half intrigue at the ice pack compartment in my sister's underwear after she gave birth. "Can I have these sexy things when you're done?" I say to her laughing and she glared at me and declared them "fucking wonderful."
In 2007, everything was still a When. I was in my twenties, and there was still a list in my childhood toy box of the names--first and middle--I'd assigned my ten (!) children. I used to dream of them--dreamed of the family I would have. Everyone got along. The husband in these scenarios was always faceless, nameless and pretty much irrelevant to this love-fest I was having with my quiver of children. 

Even as a child, I knew that was weird.
As an adult, here in 2016, that list is long gone. The conversations around this particular topic have become less sure and more urgent at the same time. The high chair is still in my parents' kitchen, even though the babies in our family have outgrown it and there'll be no more unless they come from me. If they don't, well. That high chair, and the Pack n' Play and extra sippies will join the yard sale assembly line some distant summer, where they'll trade ten dollars for the end of an era.
Two letters. There's no "I" in Team but there sure as hell is an "I" in If and I alone am the holder of answer on if I'll add a teammate, if you will. The days keep coming and the snow falls and the snow melts and spring creeps in.
I overheard a conversation in Panera once, standing in line before work one morning. Two women, late forties/early fifties. One casually said to the other, "You know, I was telling So-and-So the other day...Sometimes my greatest regret is never having children, and yet some of the best, most meaningful things in my life came from not having them." "Ma'am. Ma'am!"  I was rooted in place, reeling on a regular day, staring after them.

What if these babies don't actually happen....and if another world opens? I'd genuinely never considered the possibility of an alternative until now that time has forced me to do so. And what if it's....great?
When has become If and my world has gotten a whole lot less certain.
It feels jarringly, unexpectedly, free.


Thursday, November 5, 2015


I have had a backwards kind of day today
not ever knowing what to do or say.
I've twisted everything around
have YOU ever acted in this way?

Said, ' I would like a hup of cot chocolate'
'pace my capers on my desk'
I was trying not to backwards things
I was trying really to do my best!

I promise to turn this day around
but I can't seem to find my way.
For I've made a mess on my desk
in a backwards kind of way

-Linda Winchell

Sometimes you start a blog when you’re 24, and you write entries about learning to parallel park and how you’ve just figured out how to make iced tea and how you threw up against the side of the Treasury Building after a drunken night with your other 24 year old friends. You write that blog sitting at a desktop computer that in tiny apartment—the first you’ve lived without roommates—and reruns of Dawson’s Creek are in the background and you’re lonely but you like it that way.

And then you close that blog, and move away. Then you move again, and you start a new blog. You’re 26 and sitting in the university library where you’re supposed to be studying for grad school. You meet all of you.

Then almost decade passes, and you’ve moved and moved on and your writing languishes because life overwhelms. You drive to work in the morning, swallowing the Zoloft at a stoplight and washing it down with a McDonalds Diet Coke because this is America, dammit. All you need is a cigarette to throw out the window.

You’re 34 and just were prescribed your first blood pressure medicine. HBP and it’s kissing cousin Anxiety are handed down your maternal family line as if we passed down a quilt that we sometimes like to throw over our heads.


I accepted my current job from my office telephone, on November 4, 2014. 11/4/14. I’ve written here before about the significance of the numbers 4/11 in my life, and nearly everything about my move somehow incorporated those numbers. I felt like it was meant to be. Even if it’s still hard and strange (doing different kind of work completely) and nothing I really like enough to write home about, it’s a good job. I’m learning a lot. Yesterday, November 4, 2015, everything flipped. I woke up to find that my state had elected Matt Bevin (an uber right wing republican) who has vowed repeatedly to unroll elements of the Affordable Care Act. If those provisions go….well….I’m not sure what my future holds. Ironically, also yesterday, I met the woman who is going to become my new boss.

What’s she like? Oh, she’s exactly like me. Exactly. Personality, background, even looks. And we’re the same age. Naturally, my hackles went up immediately and they’re still up. I told a friend—I’m trying hard to avoid my natural tendency when encountering new people: eyeing them with suspicion. ;) 

It doesn't help that I've had a couple of fuck-up's this week too at work, which makes me feel about two inches tall. It's not like me. But it is on Backwards Day in Backwards Week.

So. That’s been my week. What’s the last year or so been like? Oh, you know, fine. Great at times, actually. I love being back closer to my family although of course a part of me misses DC. I’ll always miss that city the way I’ll always miss my hometown. It’s just part of me; my DNA. My mom was in a very serious car accident almost one year ago today. It was two days after I accepted this job, and she broke her pelvis, every rib and her collarbone. She’s made a pretty damn miraculous recovery, truly. I know she loves me being back. My nieces and nephews do too, although my two younger nephews and my sister moved to California earlier this year. I can’t believe they’re really gone—it is so strange to be in Kentucky, being left. I’m the one always doing the leaving in the family.

Hello from the Other Side. I’ll be back soon J

Monday, August 10, 2015

Mother, Mother

I’m at the beach where I’ve been lucky enough to go for the past three years, thanks to Maggie May Etheridge. No, not through her dollars or mad hook-ups, but for pointing me to a blog where I eventually met the blogger’s sister and then her friends and then, well, aren’t we all in this crazy thing together in our little blog-land? I’ve known some of you for longer than I’ve known very close friends in my day to day life.
Anyway. It’s become a tradition, and very much of a step-out of my real life since I meet friends that are in different states as we converge on this place. My friend Denise is generous beyond belief, and none of this would be possible without her. She grew up coming to this beach in Avalon New Jersey, and has passed this along to us and now it’s a part of our own histories and in our bones in the same way. Children have grown up here, and they’re not the only ones.

Avalon has become a safe place; a place where we can lay it all on the line. Our catch-up’s often cut close to the bone, and that’s taken some getting used to on my part. Now I come with the expectation that I’ll be asked “to the core” questions within minutes and as the week goes on and beach yoga is done and the conversations will deepen.

We have a yogi who comes to do beach yoga in the mornings, and yesterday she mentioned that she had an astrologist friend and the next thing I know I’m texting my date and time of birth and then this morning, the three of us gathered on the bed while a star chart is projected on the wall. Alexander stated “so everyone here is family, correct?” None of us are family except chosen and we gave permission to “go deep.” He began with me, and I was basically engaged only on a “this is interesting” level. I do but I don’t believe in this kind of thing. The yoga instructor doesn't really know me at all -I am sporadic at best in my yoga attendance. So I assumed that if he were able to peg me, it would be genuine and nothing that she could have "fed" him.
He nailed it. He pinned me against the wall with my character and past, and proceeded to the do the same with the rest of us. My star chart reflected that my parents were very loving when I came into the world. But that something happened in my third year, a financial crisis, and they were driven apart. I'm not sure what this was, but they were divorced by the time I was five. There were several other things he stated about my personality, my work demeanor, my ...well, my core.

It was casual, and we all felt free to ask the hard things.
The Hard Things.

Having a baby has been a thing for me for so many years. I’ve always wanted to mother and nurture and I do on a daily basis for the people (little, big and furry) in my life. I’m 34. 34 is young! Yes, I know this. But I have been building with the reality that if I’m going to go down this road of parenthood, it’s time to think about it. Adoption? Birth? Single parenting, or is there a spouse around the corner? Should I wait for that? Let go and let God? WWJD? And here comes the spiral.
On the bed, in the safe space, I wanted to ask. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the answer. But then Alexander said - unprovoked - that beginning last summer, a deep deep aura of fertility was surrounding me. Beginning June/July and it was still very strong.
There’s a soul hovering.
I, stunned, said – yes, I can feel it. He said very seriously – of course you can. It is there. There’s free will involved, which he kept emphasizing. I said should I do this now? He demurred, and said that was something he could explore with me further if we wanted to go down that road. But he saw a partner for me in the future. I asked when? He got quiet and said “December 2016; no, Summer 2017.” And nodded a few times and I didn’t push this more. I had enough.

I don’t know what I believe sometimes.
But I do know that several weeks ago, I heard on the radio that someone had mentioned that she’d wished for her daughter her whole life. And that once she’d asked her daughter how she got to be her little girl. The little girl answered “I heard you call for me and I came to you.” Since then, I’ve noticed myself whispering…'baby girl, baby girl' and projecting this into the universe very quietly, and almost without notice by me.

Two nights ago, I stood at the beach, looked into the water and whispered “baby girl...baby girl..." into the swirling wind.

We had a late afternoon of processing, napping and thinking. The three of us went to yoga tonight and in hour two, I was feeling almost transcendent and I thought about the day. I said in my mind, to the soul hovering….baby, Mommy will get you here. Our lives, they will be extraordinary. I’ll see you soon.

I have no idea how and when and I ... I don't feel like I have to know. For the first time in a very long time. In my whole life?

This has certainly been a Monday. I feel very at peace.