2016 Scares the Shit Out of Me

 

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Seriously.

It’s only the 2nd day of the year, nice easy Saturday night full of peppermint candy, Lana Del Rey and sleeping dogs.

Last night was Sherlock’s ‘The Abominable Bride’ (which was better than all of S3 put together, and I loved S3), and this afternoon was ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ with my almost-8-yr-old son in his Darth Vader sweatshirt and my cool-as-hell hubby (and it was GREAT! I was afraid to hope, after the prequels). So. I’m high on Moriarty and Chewbacca.

The year ahead lies sprawled in an almost impossible glowing light. These Lite Brite blips of things to come, and they seem too good to be true:

  • the first edition of Menacing Hedge I’ve worked on as full-fledged co-fiction editor with my incestuous sibling Craig Wallwork, out pretty much anytime – and conspiring with the beautiful crew there
  • more and more unbelievable announcements about the Gutted:Beautiful Horror anthology – just a lil ole book coming out this year with me in it….AND Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Paul Tremblay, Damien Angelica Walters, Richard Thomas…that’s not even all!! It’s just too hard to type out all the names, and they’re not even DONE with the ToC!
  • AWP LA, which I guess is some sort of “conference” or something, but whatever – I’ll be spending April Fool’s Day in California with the crew that welcomed me into the bosom of ‘Warmed and Bound’ nearly five years ago, only that crew times ten…ocean and bowling and books with some of the best people I’ve ever met or am about to
  • Tentative plans for a vast and ambitious family vacation that, worst case scenario, would take place next summer instead of this one
  • Tentative plans to finish a semi-vast and very-ambitious linked short story collection surrounding the concept of Frankenstein’s Monster and the freedom from the burden of chronological memory…that, worst case scenario, will be completed next summer instead of this one (it would take some massive laziness to drag out an entire extra year)
  • Jewelry – Jewelry!! Work!! They call it work, I call it a kitchen and laboratory full of adoptive family, gems, and magic lasers and elf-sized tools. They let me hang out there, and talk about movies and gold and life, and pay me for it…
  • my son and I have started the Harry Potter series, a mere two hours ago, and he’s into it
  • Richard Thomas has extracted a promise for a story from me for Gamut, which seems like something I should have to fight to get into
  • Craig Clevenger wants to podcast with me for a couple guest episodes of Booked.
  • My sister is going to give me another niece or nephew – another minion for my son!

Can I just stop there, and take a breath?

My fear is justified, yes?

Because this is my life, and I want to deserve it. I want to deserve the people and the love and the pictures in my brain and the roof over my head and the happiness,

and I don’t want to take a breath, or cough, for fear I’ll wake….

So, before I do, in this world now I want to say: I love you all. I appreciate you all. You’re heavy and light and wispy and warm in your love and support and confidence and laughter and conspiratorial smiles. My family, my friends, my work family, my writing , my reading compadres, my Sherlock-fiends, my fellow mothers of beautiful strong babes, my ladies in the shadows that whisper to me that I’m good enough.

Thank you. By the Stars and the Moonlight and the magic of breathing, I wish you all as beautiful a 2016 as you’ve made possible for me, just by being a part of my life.

-Amanda

 

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(Magical Shiny Shoes to dance through the year)

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First Frost

The trees are dripping orange-brown leaves, they sound like crumpled paper, and I can see the potential for winter to Not Completely Suck. Yes, I’m sick, but the fire is going and the sky is blue, blue, blue. And I have coffee and a 5 lb dog that thinks I folded the throw blanket just-like-that specifically as a bed for him, so things are okay.

I like this part, when the palettes shift. White grass and red leaves. A sparkle at the edge of the petrified leaves.

yes, I am full of purple prose this morning. Largely observational purple prose. pumpkins with witch hats cling to the windows, Cheshire Cat pajama pants, red coffee mug, quiet, schoolbus passing the window, wisps of clouds. Copper. That’s the best word to sum up the morning, to distill the rambling. Copper.

Happy November. Happy transition month. May your socks be warm and your skies blue.

 

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I am not Betty Draper

About once a month my brain goes psychotic and begins punching itself in an effort to make me into what one small, strange, part of my unconscious thinks I should be.

Namely, the housewife in all the ads from the 1950s and 1960s. Or as an even better example, one that makes a lot more sense to me: Franka Potente after her lobotomy in American Horror Story: Asylum.

i look around at my house, I see there is dust, and there are toys, and I have an organizational system based on the same schizophrenic filing system I use to organize my Brain-Stuff. There is no rhyme or reason to the way things hang on the walls. I’ve woven Halloween decorations into everything. The bathroom has no color scheme at all. The kitchen table is covered with gloves, puzzle pieces, magazines and a jar of assorted aquarium marbles, with a few crayons thrown in for good measure.

So here’s the confession:

I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to being a Housewife, Decorator and Housekeeper. I think there must be some sort of system involved, some system where I sort of stand in curlers and chainsmoke until I’ve identified the next step to Domestic Neatness and Shiny Household Bliss.

And here’s the second confession:

Deep in my heart of hearts, I don’t care. There are always clean clothes, and clean dishes, and the play and eating surfaces are sanitary, it’s safe to put your face on the floor, the bedclothes are always clean even if the beds go unmade. I make supper most nights, i pack lunches for my husband and kid. The largest part of me realizes that it’s awesome that I’ve got this stuff covered.

SO WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BRAIN?? How do I shut off the dumb part that’s kicking me for not having everything all shiny and pretty for…whom?? Would anyone I care about judge me for the Lego house on the floor or the  unmade beds or the lack of…doilies? No. I’m going to write instead of dust on a free afternoon. I’m going to play dominoes with my kid instead of organizing the magazines and mail. I’m going to watch Sherlock instead of painting the bathroom. And if my son asks me to hang a picture up on a certain place on the wall, or to leave his Christmas tree up all year round, I will.

Help me make peace with this! It’s January, winter doldrums anyway, and I’m judging myself pretty harshly for not keeping our household in a more conventional manner. To help me get past this, I’m exposing myself. I’m exposing what things look like, how “unclean” I am. Because seriously, I need to get past this.

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My Life is Pretty F#*king Great

Walmart is a necessary evil in my corner of the hills. Where else am i going to buy toilet paper in bulk, and deodorant at two for three dollars? But it has a way of sucking the life force right outta me. It drains me, makes me bitter, growly and ready to squinch my eyebrows together at the rest of the day. The cart feels 300 pounds and my soul is nearly empty by the time I leave. maybe on the way to a parking space a woman walks out in front of me and i have to slam on my brakes to avoid smashing both she and her toddler, and instead of waving a “Thanks for not smashing my inattentive self” she stands at my hood, cursing at me, trying to coax me out of the car so she can beat the hell out of me while her now-unattended toddler watches. maybe I see a thousand year old woman cart-check a man with his little kid so she can slide her overfilled cart into line before he can ring up his loaf of bread. Maybe while pushing my bulk toilet paper and cheap deodorant closer to escape, a carful of tweakers in a half-brokedown Corsica yell at me, over and over, about all of the different things they want to put in all the different places of my body.

by 10am, my day can feel ruined. There’s a carful of groceries to unload. A chihuahua that discovers, anew, each day, that indeed he has a voice and he is proud and will be heard! i’m not going to get by doing one load of laundry when there are clearly seven to be done, and the sink is full of dishes and the floor – that’s covered with matchbox cars – needs swept, and my husband thinks the hamper is a little pile next to the bed…

and my eyebrows are knitted. Because blah, that’s why. so i unload my groceries while washing a load of laundry and sweep the floor and try to get things done before i chance sitting down, and i go outside…

…to hang sheets on the line…

and the sky is blue, blue, blue as far as i can see. the clothesline is in a green yard, within sight of the horse pasture, and the horses are swishing their tails and grazing, behind me is a tiny little perfect house at the edge of a huge forest, and that’s where i get to live. there’s enough of a breeze that i’m beginning to smell Autumn in the air. the promise of it at least.

and inside the house is warm, and the cupboards are full, and the laundry and dishes and floors are dirty because family that was in town last week and i spent my time with them, cooking out, sitting around the firepit, going to the local fall festival with my husband and son to watch them spin themselves sick on rides while i ate fried food and waved.

and my son, he kissed me full on the mouth this morning and yelled “I love school!” before booking across the pavement, just a blur of Spiderman backpack and the orange soles of his shoes, running for kindergarten.

and my husband, of seven years come October, calls me things like “Mamasita” and “Pretty Pretty Princess” and yells things like “Shut up and write, why do you care if the dishes are dirty?” and links his ankle with mine when we sleep.

and there are pieces in my brain that magically crackle to life and create other worlds, and all i have to do is write them down. and show them to people if i want. and since i started showing them a few years ago, people started reading them. putting them in books with other stories. enjoying them. and the worlds and the words, they keep coming.

and my sister’s baby looks just like her, and she says “let’s spend time together,” and “i will read those chapters” and my mother and father sometimes have trouble walking, their hearts are so big.

and there are people stretched far and wide from down the road to across the globe that find me worth the time to converse with.

and. i. realize.

it’s late morning on a Tuesday, September 2013, and if my cup gets any more full of love and life and fresh air and human hearts and glow-in-the-dark paint, it will not runneth over, it will damn well collapse under the weight of all the things right in my world.

 

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Regarding the Locals…

JacksonOH-AppleWaterTower

 

 

There’s a big honkin’ portrait of Jesus in the middle school. Someone asking to take it down isn’t a reason to sound a battle cry…. I throw in my two cents in a short opinion essay over at Manarchy:

http://manarchymag.com/2013/01/the-jackson-jesus/author-amandagowin