Tag Archives: DPchallenge

The Flicker



You die in me all the time,
and with all my breath,
I revive you,
ignore the blood on the floor,
(a scarf of scarlet silk),
sit back on my heels, and wait.

The initial ecstasy– a rapid heartbeat
as I hover above my body–
turns to panic, and I wonder,
how can I keep you?
Because surely I can’t let you
slip away again.

Of all the names I call you,
most of them clinical and cool,
no one heard me whisper
the sweet shadowy syllable against
your velvet crown, as we sat there,
in that puddle, you and me.

You die in me all the time,
like a star,
(a brilliant flicker galaxies away),
and I know it will take a million years,
as you steal my breath
over and over.

This post written as part of the WordPress Daily Challenge, Poetry.

Time for Poetry

How The Snot People Paved The Way For My Life As a Writer


I wrote my first story at the tender age of eight.  The content might surprise you.  Inspired by stories in which children travel through wardrobes, wrinkles, and rabbit holes, I composed a page-long odyssey about a boy who mixes a magic potion, makes himself tiny, then travels through someone’s nostril where he meets a host of snot-people.

Then again, if you know me, this might (s)not surprise you.

To understand me, you need to know I was raised on a strict TV diet of Sesamee Street and Mister Rogers at my mother’s house, but when I went to my dad’s house on the weekends, he let us watch Saturday Night Live, Monty Python, Woody Allen, and anything with Mr. Steve Martin.

Early exposure to what I, at ten, haughtily considered “the Classics,” warped my sense of humor.  The juxtaposition of National Lampoon against Fred Rogers cultivated a compassionate sarcasm.  It planted seeds of creativity and irony in my latency-aged brain.

It strikes me I may have been a neglected child, when I remember long summers spent at my father’s.  While he worked, my brother and I watched the line-up of soap operas on the only channel that came in on the ancient television.  I became addicted to As The World Turns, and watched it faithfully for 25 years until it went off air.

Far from liquifying my brain, these programs kindled a fantasy world, both quirky and romantic.  It was like a gateway drug to reading.  Movies, TV, and literature wove themselves in a delicious hash of imagination, humor, and passion.  I loved the infinite sensation of escaping in a book as much as a deep belly laugh generated when the guy throws up all over in Python’s Meaning of Life.

It wasn’t long before my brain started writing its own stories to entertain me.  Sunday mornings at church, I imagined Bill Murray was the priest, telling me jokes from the pulpit like I was in some waspy comedy club.  At night when I couldn’t sleep, Rhett Butler and Ashley Wilkes fought for my honor as I flounced in a frothy gown, only to be swept up by Superman who transported me to that otherworldly, satin bed in his Fortress of Solitude.

By seventh grade, I was a renowned poet.  I had a gift for writing poems about suicide that rhymed.  Take, for example this classic stanza:

Who’ll feed my cat, who’ll mow my lawn?  

Who’ll do my homework when I’m gone?

It wasn’t long before girls were commissioning me to pen a poem for them.  I wasn’t suicidal, mind you, but my poems became popular and earned me a trip to the school social worker who asked if everything was okay and encouraged me to find some new subject matter.

In high school I took a creative writing class and wrote another story that sent me to the school counselor.  We had to draw random words out of a sack to use as “jumping off points” for our assignment.  I picked clown, child molester, and bar (maybe whoever put those words into the sack should have been the one to go see the counselor, but I digress).  So, I wrote about a child-molesting clown who hung out in a bar while baby-sitting his brother’s kid.

It could have been analogous, I guess, for the angst-filled life of a teenager on the brink of college who had just broken up with her high school love, but the school counselor did not appreciate my inner-Joyce and encouraged me to come and talk with her anytime.  Little did she know my life wasn’t any more (or less) messed-up than any other 80s kid with poor supervision.

The first (and only) edition of my first novel.

The first (and only) edition of my first novel.

In college I majored in English with a focus on creative writing.  I took creative non-fiction writing with an adjunct professor who thought he was the gourmet cheese.  He gave me an A+ and wrote on my portfolio that my writing was “sexy as hell.”  At the time, this comment made me roll my eyes.  Now, I think about his comment and wonder what he meant.  I wonder how someone who got their literary start writing about snot people could ever compose something “sexy as hell.”  Maybe he just wanted to get into my pants, but I hope not because, if it was true, it was a nice compliment.

As I stumble, nearly 20 years later and 40 pounds heavier, towards middle age, I’d do almost anything for someone to say something about me was “sexy as hell.”

I figured on being a stay at home mom, and didn’t take my education seriously.  I graduated magna cum laude with a degree that might have been from clown college, no husband in sight, and a tanking economy.

Writing took a back seat while I struggled to find my way in the world.  Throughout my 20’s I kept a journal which is largely lunatic ravings of a young woman having an affair with a married man twice her age (looking back, I blame this relationship on my early exposure to and obsession with Woody Allen, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and the fellows from the Flying Circus).  It’s awkward reading, although a poem or two are worth saving.

Other than long emails to friends afar, writing was shelved like an antiquated typewriter during my 30s.  I was busy getting married, having babies, and working on my career as a child and family therapist–  in other words, maturing.

I discovered blogging after the birth of my second baby.  At first, I was scared and intimidated by blogging, while simultaneously offended by its self-indulgent and narcissistic nature.   But I explored blogs and came to understand the raw beauty of blogging.

It spoke to me.  Much like Superman hears whispers of his ancestors in his Fortress of Solitude, so did I hear the whispers of other bloggers, writers, former professors, and friends urging me forward into the blogosphere.

I set up Momaste in a moment of impulsivity while pumping breast milk at my desk.  Because of my profession, I need my professional life very separate from my personal life.  I needed an alter-identity who could blog safely for me about anything.  And so, Charlotte was born, and began tentatively, then bravely giving voice to all the thinky thoughts I thunk.

Very few people from my “real” life know I blog.  I don’t share my blog on Facebook, and no one in my family (besides my husband) knows I have a blog.  I like it that way.  Being anonymous allows me to be brutally honest while still feeling like I am in my own dreamscape.

It is the writing format for which I always, but unknowingly, yearned.

Blogging is my escape (although I still watch my share of TV).  It is a place where I pause, reflect, react, and connect.  I don’t get sent to the counselor’s office anymore, though sometimes maybe I should.

I’ll never stop writing, even though I’ve gotten to the point where I’m certain I’ll never be famous or make money doing it. I’ll never stop writing because it gives me this expansive area to frolic with my dreams and fears and fantasies.

People wonder why my brain works the way it does.  For example, once my husband called to tell me his car had died in the freezing cold, right at dinner time, and I had to drag the two children out to go and fetch him.  I briefly thought there was a possibility his car was not dead at all, but that he had organized an impressive flash mob for me as a belated Christmas gift.  In the end, there was no flash mob.  His car was legitimately dead and cost about $800 to fix.  But for a moment, while I bundled my annoyed kids out the door, I had a soft smile on my face, imagining the music and dancing and how swept away I would feel.

Yeah, it’s fun up in there.

Maybe I’m just an escapist at heart.  Or maybe there really is something wrong with that pinkish-grey coil under my skull.

Either way, I kind of feel like I’ve come full-circle with my writing.  I mean, I write a mommy blog here, and motherhood is chock full of bodily fluids, hot messes, and snotty noses.


My Week In Haiku


Monday afternoon:

home with sick child.
morning light slips into
long evening shadows.

20131128-114427.jpgTuesday evening:

day drifts on the bay,
white water birds hunker down
as winter draws near.

Wednesday morning:

my son’s daily brawl
over socks and being rushed
sours my commute.

Thursday noon:

for an hour I sit
worrying my cuticles.
I hope no one sees.

Friday night:

certain songs float out
of the radio and I
long for other times.


Working Mom’s Haiku


some mornings I am
amazed we all make it out
of the house alive

this was my Facebook status this morning and I noticed it had just the right syllables to become a haiku. In what tricky situations can you find poetry?

Weekly Writing Challenge: Haiku Catchoo! | WordPress.com

“I Guess You Could Call It A Blighted Ovum”- The Story Of My Miscarriage



This is the one “pregnant” thing I will do.  I thought.

I sat in my car in McDonald’s parking lot.   I reached into a greasy bag, pulled out fistfulls of fries, and stuffed them into my face.  I ate three cheese burgers and six chicken nuggets too.

I was pregnant and knew I was going to miscarry.  For the past two weeks I was viciously sick, but my nausea suddenly stopped and I was ravenous.  When I was pregnant with Jack, I used to sneak McDonald’s into my otherwise immaculate diet.  So, for the one and only time, I did it with this. . .

This what?  

It wasn’t a baby, or even an embryo.

At the eight week ultrasound that morning they stroked my stomach with the device, and even prodded me with the intra-vaginal “wand,” to search my uterus for a heartbeat.  All their poking and prowling around revealed only emptiness.

It was like looking into a deserted room.  There were signs that someone had been there, a yolk sack cast off like a stray sock, and something else they called “implantation tissue.”

But there was no flicker of light.  No one was home in that quaint, dark, little cabin inside of me.

This story takes place some years back, in between Jack and Emily.  It was a warm, autumn day.  I recall the morning glories were still using our sunflowers as a trellis.  I had posted a photo of one on Facebook and a friend commented that if I believed in fate, that flower was heralding the coming of a baby girl.  It was uncanny because no one knew I was pregnant besides my husband and best friend. 

My husband had stayed home to watch Jack, and I was by myself at the clinic.  The ultrasound tech fetched a doctor whom I’d never met.  She too took a peek and confirmed, “Yup, there’s nothing in there.”

Confused, exhausted, and sick to my stomach, I started to cry.  She gave me options of having the surgical process called a D and C, or getting a prescription of pills to insert in my vagina to start the miscarriage.  “You don’t want to wait too long with these things,” she said when I asked why I couldn’t just wait for it to “pass” naturally.

This brings us up to me sitting and gorging on grease in McDonald’s parking lot.  I was killing time waiting for that prescription to be filled, engaging in a ritual that felt almost sacred, which is maybe why I remember it so clearly these years later.

“I guess you could call it a blighted ovum,” the doctor had said, wrinkling up her nose, as though she was confused, but not really.  I had asked her why there was nothing in there, when every test said I was pregnant, my aching breasts said I was pregnant, and the all-day-morning sickness also confirmed a pregnancy.  “Something probably went wrong with the implantation?”  she offered quizzically.

According to Web MD, a blighted ovum “occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus but doesn’t develop into an embryo.”  Blighted ovums are usually the result of chromosomal issues with the pregnancy.  It is cited as the leading cause of early miscarriage, therefore pretty common.  However, until my miscarriage, I never heard of one.

Statistically, as many as one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.

So, I guess little Dr. Lady saw this type of thing all the time.  For me, it was a brand-spanking-new experience.

I didn’t hide how annoyed I was with that doctor.  We were in a room plastered with oversized ultrasound photos of beautiful, healthy babies.  “You guys should really put up some photos in here of empty uteruses for the rest of us,” I snapped.  She muttered something and bowed out of the room to write my prescription.

Recalling this conversation, I sipped on Diet Coke to wash down all that fat.  I’m not really pregnant, I thought.  Diet Coke is something I never would consume if I were really pregnant.

My emotions were mixed.  It might surprise you that primarily I was stressed to be missing work, and uncertain how long it would take to empty the scant contents of my womb.  The doctor said it would be “like a heavy period.”  I had opted for the pills because I didn’t want to fork over a thousand dollar deductible for surgery.

Was I sad?  Not really.

I was sick and tired and overwhelmed, but not sad.

In my mind, it was science.  Despite my irritation with that doctor’s lack of anything resembling bedside manner, I accepted her answer that something just went wrong with the implantation.  It wasn’t a baby in there.  It was a clump of cells that didn’t grow properly and never had a chance.  

I had been happy and prepared to love another little human.  I had stroked my stomach in the weeks since that positive pregnancy test, thought about baby names, and even fantasized it would be a girl, but my heart was not broken to discover that it was a blighted ovum. 

A few days later, after slipping those pills inside me, I hemorrhaged.  Little Dr. Lady’s likening my miscarriage to “a heavy period” turned out to be the understatement of the year when my bathroom walls became splashed in blood as though someone had smashed a jar of spaghetti sauce.  In the end, I had to cough up the deductible for emergency surgery to help me “complete the miscarriage.”

Then I was sad.  

I felt like a failure.  I couldn’t even miscarry properly.  

In angry shock, images of the phsyical complications of my miscarriage intruded my thoughts.   It was hard to forget the grapefruit-sized clots which poured out of me in line at the supermarket, blood dripping down my legs onto the checkered market floor.  My blood count had dropped and I was too listless to play with Jack for days.  I felt like my body betrayed me; everything I’d come to know and expect from my physical being was suspect.

Life goes on.  I went back to work, took care of my family, and ate a ton of spinach to boost my iron.  Eventually I recovered physically and emotionally.  I swore off having more babies, yet five months later fell pregnant with my Emily.  For that, I realize I was one of the lucky ones; my “miss” left me with no permanent damage and I was able to conceive once more.  For that, I am grateful and terribly humble. 

For a long time, I didn’t want anyone to know about my miscarriage.  I didn’t tell people at work why I was out for nearly a month, and I didn’t care what dramas they concocted.  Thinking I was in psychiatric hospital would be better than having them know I had a miscarriage.  Eventually I got over that, and over time, I have shared my story.

I share this with you, at the risk of giving TMI and grossing you out, because maybe it happened to you too.  I share this with you because so many of us have miscarriages and they are all different and they make us all feel differently.  I share this with you because you are not alone, no matter what you are thinking or feeling about your miscarriage.  I share this with you because your body is perfect and beautiful, and there is no shame in having a miscarriage.

Everyone handles miscarriage in a unique way.  I read a book called “Unspeakable Losses,” which helped me understand the personal and profound nature of this loss, whether because it is the loss of a baby, or because of the physical issues involved, like mine.  No one else in the world can know what a pregnancy means for a woman, because it is happening inside of HER.

I saved the morning glory photo.  In my mind it represents that pregnancy, as well as the strength and tenacity of my body. 

Having a private parking lot binge on fast food also validated that pregnancy.  And gave me closure.   


(maybe not so much backwards as inside out?)