Wednesday, November 18, 2015


[Note: I wrote this yesterday afternoon. I am publishing it now, after making sure my sister was comfortable with it.]

I'm writing this while in the throes of a panic attack.

A story on Facebook (from Humans of New York) triggered a highly unpleasant memory, and my body is literally reacting as though I were reliving the moment. My heart is pounding. My ears are ringing.  My hands are shaking. My stomach is in knots, and it's all I can do not to throw up. I have to keep closing my eyes and re-centering just to be able to continue typing. Static and fear fill my mind. I have to keep reminding myself to breathe.

I don't know what else to do, so I'm writing.  I'm going to share the memory, in hopes that getting it out of my head will help. That somehow, releasing this deep, dark secret to the world will somehow cleanse me of it.

First, the memory, raw and broken. Then, the explanation. That is how I will tackle this.

I am 7 years old. It's late. The middle of the night. I've been sleeping for awhile when I'm awakened by a bloodcurdling scream. I don't use that word lightly. When I heard that scream, I was suddenly wide awake, and cold all over. It was a scream of pain from one of the people I loved most dearly in all the world - my little sister.

I run down the hall in my nightgown - I still remember how itchy the hem was against my shins - past the kitchen, and into the living room. My 3-year-old sister is lying on the hardwood floor in front of grandma's old sofa, her head surrounded in a pool of blood. So much blood, I wonder for a moment if there's any left inside her. But there must be, because she's still screaming.

(Excuse me a moment. I'm dry heaving here in the present.)

Mom and Dad are trying to talk to me, trying to explain, but I'm not hearing anything except, "It was an accident. You have to tell everyone it was an accident or they'll take you away."  Maybe they were trying, but that's the only part that was getting through.

Suddenly, there are police officers and paramedics in my living room. Someone must have called them. Someone must have let them in. I have no memory of any of that. In my mind, they just appeared, out of nowhere. They surround my sister, shoulder to shoulder, so I can't see anything except the blood. There's blood everywhere. That paramedic is going to put his knee in it. He's going to get covered in my sister's blood.

She's on a backboard. A stretcher. Something. They carry her out of the house, being extra careful in case it's even worse than it looks. I've gotten dressed somehow, and I get in the car with Dad. Mom is in the ambulance ahead of us. We're ignoring the speed limit and the lights. We are staying as close to the ambulance as possible. Dad is talking to me, but I don't hear him.

And that's where the memory leaves off. I don't remember anything of the hospital, though I know the details by heart. What follows are the memories of what I've been told.

Tami had been hit in the face with a glass.  One that my father had thrown.

We all tell the police and the hospital people, and later everyone else, that it was an accident. Dad was teasing and the glass slipped out of his hand.

No one tells me the truth for years, but I know. I understand in some sort of intuitive way what actually happened.

Dad intended to throw the glass. At my mother. My sister was simply asleep on the couch, in the wrong place at the wrong time. She sat up and the glass that would have hit my mother hit her, instead.

We can't tell anyone that, though, because then people will take us away from Mom and Dad, and the foster system is far scarier than anything that happens at home.

(To be fair, that's entirely possible. I'll never know first hand.)

No one questions our story.

My sister got over 30 stitches in her face. She still bears the scars. One shard missed her left eye by millimeters. Another sliced across her nose. In the end, nothing was broken, and there was no threat to her life. Apparently, the face just bleeds a lot.  She got a puppy a few weeks later and in her innocence, named the dog Stitches.  She was, by and large, entirely fine.

I wasn't.

I now held a secret that was too big for a 7-year-old. My dad had tried to hurt my mother, and in failing to do so, had hurt my sister instead.

And no one did anything about it.

And that fact broke me in a way that I still cannot describe.

If you've ever wondered why I'm brutally honest, this is it. This is the reason that I will not lie about how someone makes me feel. Because I've lied for 32 years.

It wasn't an accident.  The glass just hit the wrong person.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Me & My Boy

I'm still here. Busy. Mildly overwhelmed. Ready for a few precious hours to myself, but I'm here.

Faire ended last weekend. This week has been filled with illness, recovery, a parent-teacher conference, kids off of school, a book club meeting turned playdate, taking care of friends, and just generally trying to keep us all afloat.

But that is the story of stress. And while stress has comprised the majority of my week, that's not what I want to focus on tonight. Tonight, I want to remember a few shining hours of perfection.

Thursday, Miles was out of school for parent-teacher conferences, but Sam still had Parent's Day Out. We took Sam to 'school', went to Miles' conference (he's doing great!), and then, Miles and I had four hours of time alone together.

Not long ago, this was our normal. He was my constant companion, in everything I did. But since Sam was born, it's rare for us to get more than an hour alone together. And I realized Thursday how much I miss that time alone with him.

Because of the crazy of the week, I hadn't had time to go out to Festival site and clean out my shop, so we started with that. I was worried that the task would cut into our time together, but I had forgotten that really, the Festival is our place - Miles' and mine. He has grown up there, and he knows the site as well as any veteran performer.  And why wouldn't he? It's been home to him since before he was born. I walked those lanes only days before his birth, and carried him out there before he was a month old.  It is the place where he is comfortable, and confident. The place where he is most fully the little boy I've always known.

When we arrived that morning, I expected him to run off to play in the areas around the shop, taking full advantage of his freedom to roam unencumbered by patrons and responsibilities. Instead, he asked, "Can I help? What can I do?"

So, I set him to work putting things into boxes. I climbed the stepladder to get things down, and he put it carefully away. When everything was stored, he helped carry it all to the car, and he helped do the final sweep of the area, his eyes noting details I might have missed.  When we were certain the shop was fully ready for the off-season, he asked, "What next?" Ready for his next task, though I had none to give. I looked at the clock. I had expected the clean up to take an hour or two.  With his help, it had taken only twenty minutes.

I hugged him, and thanked him for helping me get done so quickly, and I asked him if there was anything he wanted to do before we left. Grinning from ear to ear, he responded exactly as I expected, "Can we go to the Children's Realm?"

It was an easy request to fulfill, and so we slowly made our way that direction. As we started up the hill, I was surprised again when his little hand (though not so little as it once was) slid into mine and held on the entire way.

It was a glimpse back in time, watching him scale the pirate ship, and run the familiar paths.  It was so familiar, in fact, that the changes were all the more glaringly obvious.

Where once his head barely peeked over a structure, he now stood head-and-shoulders above it.

Where once he had taken a dozen steps up a ramp, he now took three long strides.

Where once his legs had been short, but fast, they were now long, and gangly, and even faster.

All too soon, the moment was over, and it was time to head for lunch. I let him choose, and over a chicken sandwich (me) and a hamburger (him), we had a conversation that I longed for so much in those former days. We talked of our favorite things, and of school, and Festival, and friends, and family. His speech was clear, and he was able to carry a flowing conversation in a way I hadn't realized he could.  We talked for so long, both of us unwilling to break the moment. And when we finally had to go, we continued to chat the entire ride home.

Along the way, we learned things about each other. I learned that his favorite superhero is now the Green Lantern - an opinion I never would have guessed.  And he learned that my favorite game was called Clue, and that we actually had the game at home.

Obviously, we played it when we got here.

Eventually, it was time to pick up Sam, and while we were both a little sad that our day was over, we were both happy for what we had. And we were both thrilled to hug Samantha as she came running to see us.

October 21, 2012 - Age 3
Photo Credit: Juliann Courtney Photography

October 22, 2015 - Age 6
Photo Credit: Me with a phone :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

To do...

I have come to the conclusion that I have too many "projects".

My current list of projects includes:

  • Figuring out cold-weather gear for the last weekend of the Festival
  • Making Jasper a few more dog ropes.
  • Re-opening my Etsy shop, with a variety of different things I've made.
  • Purging kids' clothes and toys that are no longer needed.
  • Organizing the massive amounts of crap in my house (especially the paperwork!).
  • Writing a story that's been bouncing around in my head for ages.
  • Continuing my "Tell Me Your Story" project that I started last year.
  • Planning things for next year's Festival (yes, I've already started...)
And that's not an exhaustive list, by any means.

And because there are so many, many projects to work on, whenever I have a spare moment, I sit down to decide what to do...and get crippled by indecision.

And so, I do nothing productive at all, and my list continues to grow.

To be fair to myself, I have made progress on all of those things in the past few weeks, but I really need to learn to focus on one thing, finish it, and then move on to the next.  Unfortunately, that is a skill that continues to evade me...


Monday, October 5, 2015


I'm feeling contemplative of late.

Perhaps it's the fall weather, encouraging introspection and turning in as the year winds its way down.  From here, it's the whirlwind slide through the holidays into winter and the new year. The days are growing shorter, and I am soaking in the sun's warmth before it disappears for the few months that somehow last longer than the rest of the year combined. Already, I spend my days in long sleeves and cardigans, and my nights snuggled under a pile of blankets.

Though this mood cannot entirely be explained away by the weather.

Perhaps it's me coming to grips with having a 6-year-old, a little boy, now, in elementary school. The thought struck me today that his next birthday is 7. The year I was 7 was a major turning point in my life, and many of the events that happened that year shaped the fears and anxieties that I still fight.  The idea that Miles is approaching that age gives me pause.

But that's just another piece of the puzzle.

Perhaps, it's the health scare my newborn niece had this past weekend. It is not my place to share her story publicly, but for a couple of days there, all of us were worried about what her future might hold. In the past day and a half, there have been some answers, and she has made some wonderful progress. In time, she will probably be entirely fine. But the raw fear that struck my heart on Friday is not something that will soon be forgotten. I came home from visiting her last night, seeing that she was indeed feeling better, and snuggled Sam until long after I should have left her to fall asleep.

And that was a major factor, but it's not everything.

More than anything, I think I'm realizing that once more, I am in a transitional phase of my life.  The baby years are over in this house. My anxiety is finally (more or less) under control.  My evening plans are dictated by bedtimes, and my alarm clock by the school drop-off line.  I have more freedom than I once did, as a mother, now that Sam is in Kids' Day Out twice a week. And really, even when she's home, she is often content to play alone.  My time is not my own, and yet, I seem to have a lot of it to fill some days.

A part of me yearns for the day that I can go back to work, doing something outside the house that is both fulfilling and helps pay the bills. The other part of me is clinging to what I have, with both children is such fun stages of their lives. I love volunteering with Miles' school, but I worry about overextending myself, and letting people down. I have hobbies I want to pursue, but there are so many of them that I get frozen in indecision and play games on my phone instead.

I am realizing that the process of finding oneself is never over. It is a continuous journey that will probably end only when I am done changing. And if I've learned anything in this life, it is that I am ever-changing.

And that requires contemplation from time to time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Reflections on Motherhood

In a little over an hour from now, I will have been a mother for six years.

There are so many emotions that come with that sentence. Nostalgia. Disbelief. Love. Relief.

Yes, relief.

I've survived this journey for six years, so far. There were times I wasn't sure I would make it to this point. Times when I was ready to give up. A time when I very nearly walked out of the lives of my tiny son and my husband, convinced that everyone would be better off if I simply lived somewhere else. My body and my brain have attacked themselves, repeatedly, trying to convince me that this motherhood thing just isn't for me.  Some days, I cried and wished the years would fly by so that I could maybe, someday, enjoy motherhood.

I've gotten my wish.

These six years have flown, faster than I could have ever believed. And there are days that my eyes well up with tears, realizing that my tiny baby who once fit in the crook of my arm is gone forever. Days when I look at pictures of his first smiles, his first sword fight, his round toddler face that is now but a memory, and wish for a moment, I could snuggle that tiny boy again.

But I wouldn't go back.

Because those years were hard. Those pictures of a smiling child also remind me of the struggles I faced every single day just to stay afloat. Of the anxiety that brought me to my knees, and the depression that then left me ... empty.

No, I would never go back to that time, because I have worked so hard to change the person I was then into the person I am now.  And there is no way to relive the good without also reliving the ugly.

Oh, how I miss his chubby fists, with the dimples in the knuckles! And the way his little body used to grow suddenly heavy as he finally gave into sleep. The way he could curl up on my chest, and fit so neatly, because he was made to fit there.

But, now, I have it even better.

Now, I have his long, gangly legs, racing me to the car. Now, I have jokes whose punchlines are hilarious if only for their absurdity. Now, I have teaching him to read, and delighting with him every time he can write my name. I have daily pictures of a stick-person me next to a heart, so that I remember he loves me, even when he's at school all day. I still have fierce hugs, and tickle fights, and cuddles on the couch. And I still have the best little boy in the entire world.

The difference is that now I can enjoy him, as he is today.

So, if I could make a wish now, as I did back then, it would be this:

Dear God, please, please slow the time now.  I needed it to fly by before, but now . . .

Now, I want to enjoy being this boy's mother.

Monday, September 28, 2015

What's with the Blog Name?

In case anyone was wondering...

My favorite Disney movie is Lion King, but the Disney character I've always identified with is Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

She's a book worm, like me, who always felt like an outsider in her "provincial town". She is brave, but shy. Stubborn, yet kind.  And she is a misfit amongst the townspeople.  Much as I was as a little girl. Much as I still am among most of society (though I've found my niches where I fit in nicely).

Just before Belle discovers her father has gone missing, she sings a reprise of the opening song:

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere
I want it more than I can tell.
And for once it might be grand
To have someone understand
I want so much more than they've got planned."

Every single time I'm feeling lonely or particularly outside of the "normal", this snippet of song plays through my head. I regularly find myself singing it without realizing it. Because, in a lot of ways, that is exactly what I want out of my life.

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere.

It may be that my adventure is in parenting, and Renaissance Festival, and simply living out this wonderful life I've chosen. 

But I want more than that, too.

I want to leave a mark. I want to travel. I want to try new things. I want to soak up this big, big world, and remember all of it.

And I'm not sure I'll ever be satisfied.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Here I Am

Sometimes, I feel as though I've disappeared.

Mostly, though, I've just been busy.

And I've definitely outgrown that old blog, with the title that drips with self-doubt.

That's one reason I haven't written in a very long time. It's hard to write under a title that is so self-deprecating. A title that reminds me of every insecurity I have. A title that limits me to motherhood and my self-consciousness therein.

I am a mother, yes.  And a damn good one.

I am also a woman. A wife. An actress. An old soul trying to find my place and my purpose in this big, wide world. I am filled with anxiety, but I trust in the goodness of people. I am an introvert, but I love the company of people. I am cautious by nature, but I crave adventure. I want to take root, and I want to fly away, all at the same time.

I am a million paradoxes, and none of them can be captured in so confining a title as that old blog.

So, here I am, in this new place, with plenty of room to stretch out and write about whatever comes to mind. I'm sure the children will feature heavily - they are, of course, a major part of my life. But they are not the entirety of my life, and so they will not be the only thing I write about.

Welcome to my Great Wide Somewhere. Let's explore it together.