Gearin’ Up For Summer, Or, It’s Called A Belt Bag

This morning my boyfriend strapped on a fanny pack for his trip to Cedar Point.

My sensible conclusion was to respect our differences and let him use an appropriate tool for his generation. Either they’re back in all of their glory and he will be a fashion god or those junior high kids are going to laugh their asses off on that field trip.

“It’s a nice one,” he explained as he snapped the plastic ends together, strapping it on. “My wife gave it to me.”

Then he pulled out a plastic bag of weed, a glass pipe, and whatever else. Whenever he touches something old the past is guaranteed to manifest itself.

“This was the joint I rolled for her, her last one before she died.”

Every day for the past four years this woman has died. I deal with it according to my mood, or according to things going on. That and the house, and all I am surrounded by, they’re all a constant reminder that my life will never be a certain kind of normal. It will always be my whatever-I-decide, whether that’s normal or abnormal or good or bad.

It seems kind of fucked up and doesn’t seem to have made any sense to anyone else, but what matters is what makes sense to ME.

And anything I struggle with, or bitch about, or laugh at, it’s part of my normal. How absolutely bored I’ve been, how soul-searching, the more my life was hunky dory. Dark days dressed in mediocrity just disappeared into repetition – taking innocent bystanders with it. I am happy – genuinely, happy, that those days are behind me… or wherever they went.

It’s so much better with a million questions.

Goddamn fanny pack is right.


Garden Season Commences


I did not have the strength this spring like in the past, when I was fighting for everything to stay alive. Rehoming, pesticide treating, watering, pruning, experimenting, always planting something, I forced away English ivy so I could gather my hostas together like soldiers grouping for impact. I kept tabs on all of it and made sure I did everything I possibly could to gain footing…

As winter was coming to a close I would pace the foyer, staring at where the tulip bulbs had been buried. I was told that rabbits would eat them. They started growing and I was assured deer would find them. But then they bloomed, beautifully. And they were just fine.



I didn’t realize that everything else was coming up all on its own, earlier than last year, without worry. The bleeding heart shrub has quadrupled in size. I didn’t even watch it grow. Gladiolas that are supposed to be dug up and over-wintered, seem to be just fine. Strange hostas in new areas are all poking through the topsoil, the true test of whether or not they would stay and fight. The hydrangea no longer looks like a dead stick. Lily of the Valley is taking its own course around a tree. Solomon’s Seal has new stalks. Propagated, divided and spread out…It’s all…here. Even things I thought had perished.

It’s so strange, telling myself that I can just… pace myself. Spray some repellent here. Rake a little there. It all started falling in to place without having to push and shove for every inch.

And that massive pine tree I bitched about for over two years as its needles and cones pulverized everything below it? It just…died. And let in the all the sun I needed. Dan had to pay to have it cut down before it killed someone. Now there’s just a stump.


Not that any of it could keep me from the nurseries. I escaped to several in an effort to get away from the overwhelming community event I had to host at the house…and of course, it was impossible to leave without something nearly every time. A silvery shrub, summer snowflake, Rose, and the list easily went from one or two to about a dozen new plants.


I germinated morning glory from seed and have the seedlings hardening outside. Twenty or thirty of them…which will produce enough vine to grow over absolutely everything (evil plans await). That was my greenhouse project for the year. I also have oriental lily in the fridge, creating 3 months of cold weather for bulb formation, but I do not keep my hopes high for a seed that is difficult to grow. I bet Dan wonders why the bottom crisper drawer is full of dirt.


The cleanup event was a huge success. I went around promoting it at the neighborhood progressive party (although most of the attendees claimed to be too busy to put in any real work) and stole everyone’s e-mail addresses from our secretary’s ‘send-to’ field in order to remind everyone about the event. I campaigned it really well and by noon, about twenty people were pulling weeds at the entrance signs. A beautiful thing. Way better than the dwindling attendance of 6, and I didn’t spend any money on fliers. Plus I shaved 50 bucks off the expense tab. This stingy old place needs a lot of help, and I helped it. It feels good, being proud of that.


I’m pleased. I can work with this. Let’s start snapping photos. Let’s tell a story.

A Power Player To Dress The Part

She had been discovered in the windy city sometime in the early 60’s. They called her Chicago Peace. She was summoned, one week ago.

Although it looked like there were many more to choose from, for some reason she had been brought in from the outside to fight a very private, highly classified battle.

“Why didn’t you pick any one of the others who were already local?” she wondered.

It was unclear to her, how the territories worked. She had just landed the role and figured those abstract shapes and muddled colors would all make sense once her vision of the kingdom had sharpened. Some things just took time and the right exposure, which she already knew well from personal experience.

“I’m counting on you, Rose,” said the queen.


Let’s Call the Whole Thing Winter

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all! I am expecting a UPS truck to deliver my own PlayStation4 (so much for slapping my entire tax refund on intelligent balances) for an evening away from the typical Irish pub scene. Last week I managed to unintentionally have too many strong drinks at a dueling piano bar which left me feeling sick for days… it was bad enough that I resorted to a piano bar for entertainment, even worse when I took it to the extreme. At one point I remember yelling “BRITNEEEEEY” from my seat and hearing them play a few bars of ‘Hit Me, Baby (One More Time)’. I threw up stomach acid the next day. Who knew something could be hokey and potentially life-threatening at the same time?!

Can you say “no fast food since last year”? I can! If it’s bread, it’s whole grain oat. If it’s pepperoni, it’s a Lean Pocket – rice, one serving of brown rice. A little over sixty days and my bra and belt clasps have moved in the right direction. I shudder when I think of the pattern I developed of drive-through breakfasts, delivered lunches and quick fix white flour dinners. I just can’t eat like the people around me. They come in to work holding a chocolate-infused coffee drink, bitch all day about how hungry they are until they order 2000 calorie subs and heart attack pizzas, then gorge in the break room, dipping everything in ranch dressing, brag about feeling full and ask me if I’m meeting them across the street at the bar and grill after dark. I started to pull the same shit, and it got expensive, too. Who in the hell wants to live meal to meal like some kind of junkie? I guess I did…until my clothes started feeling tight and I couldn’t figure out why stairs had become so damn annoying. DUH. IT WAS FAT ASSERY.

We had a streak of nice weather so I used it to jog around my subdivision – and to my horror, it was absolutely miserable for several days. Just a little thirty minute stroll around a few blocks! So eye opening. My humility is on full blast right now, but I am fixing this shit on the daily. So that’s how that’s all going.

Next week I transport my brother from jail to a 90-day rehab. The migraines have come from figuring out what he can and can’t have, how to get him there, when, etc. Now the migraines will be from figuring out what sort of actual treatment he’s going to receive and going Next Level with it – because simply detoxing and letting him back out on the street is a waste of everyone’s time. I am imagining counseling. Mental health involvement… and I’m nervous for Christopher. Facing your problems can be frightening and he must be so unsure of his future. I hope they offer him tools and that he uses every single one in order to secure a little structure in his lifestyle.

The boyfriend is good. The baby steps are always there. My goal is to help him enjoy this time preceding his dream of retirement. There is so much beauty in the world but sometimes we’re both horrible at being able to see it – he has even commented that we can be a bad mix when we’re on the same level of “fuck all”. Winter blues suck, too. He has been my sunshine and I’ve been trying to tell him so, more often.

Somewhere under all of this snow is a bigger picture but it’s only Natural to save it for another day.

Down To One

When I first moved in, Daniel showed me the rooms his step children had occupied and offered them to me for my things. I thought it was odd, thinking back now, as we were hauling in my piano and the person helping us asked, “Do you want to keep this downstairs?”

Immediately Dan had answered for us, “No.” There was no room in the house for the piano; the piano would go upstairs in one of the spare bedrooms. Back then I figured it would take time to really find a place for everything… I didn’t really understand the place was permanently in the step child’s old bedroom.

For a while I had all of my “living” furniture in one room and my dressing items in the other. (I don’t share space in the bedroom – though it is master size, with four closets and a large dresser, every drawer and door is filled with his things.) Sometime during our first year together his step children took him to court over various furniture and he agreed to give them several large pieces that they had probably known all of their life. This opened up space in one of those two rooms.

Then he got the idea to purchase, with my discount and tireless hours shopping with him, a large screen TV, surround sound and recliners. He even made custom shelves to fill with every video game action figure he could buy. My involvement became my blessing, I suppose, as everything I had in there was eventually crammed in to the one room for his entertainment.

The piano is three feet from the desk, three feet from the book shelf, three feet from the table and so on, and I maneuver in between everything in order to get dressed. I did as much as I could to work with the windows and arrange everything so it looks like a living space and not a storage space. It’s hard, sometimes, seeing all of my things in one area while so much of the house goes un-lived in most of the time. Losing the room didn’t change my monthly monetary contribution. Sometimes I’d get angry and ask myself what I was paying for, only to be defeated by the thought that my rent wouldn’t cover my own place anywhere in this town. I really couldn’t afford to want more.

Tonight I learned that the two chairs in the gaming room are very misleading.

I went in there and booted up the PlayStation 4 so I could play a video game – one I paid for and downloaded to the console. At some point during the process I noticed a weird piece of plastic on one of Dan’s many larger statues and picked it off. Unable to figure out what it went to, I thought nothing more of it. The statue was on a tall speaker beside the TV, so I figured it was from something he had been lifting up and down from behind the unit during installation of some thing or another. Who knows. I played my game.

Daniel came out of the room after I had gone downstairs, tiny piece in his hand, and demanded to know where it had come from. Then he ordered me to tell him how I had come to notice the loose plastic if I was “sitting down playing a game” – a mortifying, grilling interrogation as if he was going to uncover what I had done wrong while being in his room…

The room I gave up, that we built together, with two chairs.

His replies and further questioning told me that he wasn’t going to believe the simple truth. He didn’t remember, like I did, how many times he fussed with the antennae on Thanksgiving so I could see the parade. He didn’t remember bumping in to the statue. His thoughts were far from blaming himself and he just wanted to know how I had broken something. Full-fledged OCD and selfish possession reared their ugly heads as I was shamed further from him.

We’re talking about a foot-tall video game character wielding a guitar like an axe – the odd- colored piece was apparently from the guitar. He found out because he had taken the time to match it up, followed by more questions about how the figure had become chipped.

I refused to elaborate. I just kept shrugging; I had no idea how he thought I would be involved. If I had broken it, I would have said sorry and bought a new goddamned toy. Seriously, I didn’t appreciate the way I was being treated.

He stormed up the stairs and slammed the door to the room like a teenager in angst. That left me, downstairs, listening to him….slide things across the floor. Move things around. What kind of fit was he throwing up there, exactly? Was that the sound of my piano losing the one shitty spot it had?

Sometimes these bad things happen and I tell myself, Autumn, everything is not okay here. This isn’t good. He isn’t right.

I picked the laptop up from beside my chair and began to write this, hoping it would all come together and make sense, even produce an answer for when the dysfunction is so thick I think it’s going to suffocate me.

By the time I got right here, he was back downstairs with a dusting cloth in his hand at 11 P.M, leaning against the fireplace.

“Thanks for finding that, Babe.”

Thanks for finding that, Babe? Do you have any idea what you just put me through? How absolutely miserable you make living with you? I didn’t want anything to do with your shitty PlayStation, your shitty little room, or even you, anymore, because you’re clearly insane.

“You scare me.”

“What are you talking about?” It was as if he had time to adjust his perspective and come back down to Earth, never mind the way he had looked from outer space.

“You verbally attacked me over something I had nothing to do with, made me feel terrible-“

He talked over my words. He simplified. Acted like he had always been grateful. He just wanted to thank me again.

There may be two chairs in there, but I know better now.

I am never, ever, going back in there again.

In Which There Was A Broken Strand

I took Daniel to see the movie ‘Jackie’, thinking it was going to cover more about her entire life and womanhood in general. I didn’t realize the movie would begin with the assassination of her husband and never, ever, move on. Together we saw through a very grim story and I found myself relating to the first lady who had never really owned anything, merely walked among it, before unexpectedly being separated from everything. What would happen to me, being in a relationship that was heavily-dependent on the title owner? What will come of my haphazard blueprints for Camelot?

When the movie was over I grabbed my purse and stood up to leave. The house lights were still off but the credits were scrolling, and Dan pulled my chair back down again. I thought he wanted me to make sure I hadn’t left anything so I started to raise my purse to show him I was on top of it… then he grabbed my hand and said, “Sit down.”

He looked up and I could see the light of the screen reflecting off the tears streaming down his face. He didn’t want to leave because he had started to cry, lost in his own similarities between Jackie’s loss and his own. I felt bad for him, sat down and told him I was sorry.

On our way out of the theater, my pearl necklace broke. Without a sound, the little beads quickly rolled down my shirt and began to sprawl across the carpeted lobby. I was in a bit of shock, empathizing with Dan, and seeing my broken jewelry going everywhere felt entirely surreal. It felt like a moment, that’s supposed to be saying something, only I couldn’t understand other than the part that said THIS IS NOT PERFECT AND NOT GOOD.

“Oh my gosh, her pearls!” a woman yelled before bending down to gather them. Then there were more people, all older, all lowered to the floor to retrieve the beads for me. I was speechless. I was thinking of Jackie’s pearls, the movie, my life, and how things just don’t always go the way you intend them to.

It’s difficult to come up with an answer for what’s good about a problem. Sometimes I just want the problem to be eliminated, and not have to work with it. I want to figure out how to change it, get as close to making it go away, than move in the direction of appreciation.

For example, the bird feeder in my back yard has caused me a lot of stress in the past. Dan agonizes over what to switch around if and when squirrels figure out a way to reach the seed. I have to plant around it. I’ve gotten pissed about the mess the birds leave, how the seed casings seem to pierce fragile hosta leaves and attract animals that like to devour my plants. I have hated the bird feeder.

But today I saw it, blanketed in snow, unable to hurt any living things underneath it, and I saw something different. I saw a variety of birds eating from the different hanging feeders; I saw a unit working as it is intended to. I saw the tall shepherd’s hook that must have come from my boyfriend’s late wife, my own feeder working well off one of the hooks and the energy my boyfriend has used to pull everything together so the birds could eat. Everything combined to create something nice, and the beauty of it really touched me.

Something like a bird feeder out under the tree is so easy to ignore, but I felt like I really saw it today, the trifecta of caring people. Suddenly it was much easier to answer what was good about it. Suddenly, it worked.

I have hated living in a pre-furnished house. It hasn’t felt like me, like my home, but rather like a museum I’m not supposed to touch. I have HATED having my things stored in bins and closets and being unable to play with colors, textures and style.

Rather than resolve to be entirely against the cluttered shelves of blue porcelain, I decided to work with it yesterday. I took everything off the china cabinet and divided it in to “looks like a nicer piece” and “fucking hate this awful shit”. Then I shopped the house and pulled different mediums that all fit a color pallet and just started redesigning.

Something as simple as an old tin would show me a parallel between its colors and the rose on my teacup…then I could see a matching saucer from another cupboard, and eventually I could work other colors on to the blue hell shelves. I could work my things in to her things, in his house, although it made me nervous to try. Dan doesn’t like change. In his head, the exposed interior walls and hanging speaker cords are pure perfection because they were from a time when everything was perfect and he had his saintly wife, so even making an improvement can result in backlash, argument and hurt feelings. I try to remind myself that it is touching, how firmly he believed in his Camelot, how strong his grip is on it – even if not always for the better.

When I was done, even the “hate this shit” items gave their weight and contrast to balancing the final result. Everything had a place. And it began to live, breathe and tell a story. Something as basic as decorative shelving gave me a rewarding feeling I can’t begin to describe. I wasn’t embarrassed by the design. I wanted to be in there. I had created love.

Top it off with a table cloth from my lifetime ago, like an old friend thought dead, and I could have just cried.


I still can’t arrive to any certain message from my broken pearl necklace. Maybe a message isn’t really a message if you can’t clearly understand it, or maybe some of them are meant to be understood later on. I just know that I love the beautiful things, want for them, tell myself that they WILL BE MINE… but what is beautiful and what can be possessed is always changing, coming and going, like loved ones, like birds to a feeder.

Part Heavy, Part Hopeful

I hope everyone is having a great 2017 so far. For me, the year started off as an extension of the same old stuff until around the end of the month when I decided that the time was right for my resolutions. It’s doesn’t have to be New Year’s to start again. It can be any month, any day, any time. The important thing is believing in yourself and getting on that track to greatness.

Maybe I’ve been on that track a million times and fallen off. Who cares. Screw that. I’m on it now. I live it now. I’m fighting now.

Looking back on previous posts that detail some of my darkest moments (when I’m most inclined to take the time to free write), I don’t see the rockiness as a bad omen. I see my struggles as the storms I needed to get through in order to grow bigger and better. There are a handful of tales written in sadness and anger  – but never defeat.

I’ve been thinking about the first boyfriend I ever had, and my near-ten years with him. Some of the memories are good and some are lessons. There were a lot of mistakes and missed opportunities but in the end, it still came down to having separate deal breakers for being together as a couple. He was an absolute sweetheart with endless potential and from a distance I am always wishing nothing but the best for him. For real. God bless Brad.

My family has been going through some tough times. Christopher has had to face the consequences of his actions and is currently serving a short jail sentence. My thoughts are with him even if I am horrible at ever finding the right words, or the right way to help him. After having spoken with his representation I was told that they had a bigger picture and better understanding of his reality. I am hoping he accepts the help that is given to him, and that he tackles drug rehab full on. It hurts me to know that he is miserable right now, and yet I am happy to know that he is not on the streets, in the cold, living from fix to fix. There is more to him than The Darkness, always was, and I believe in a better future for him.

Dad’s pulmonary disease is what it is, and he has been as functional as he can in this stage of his life. Mom is facing retirement at the end of the school year and I am hoping, praying beyond prayer, that there are good things in store for her after the many years she did everything she could for the school system. But there is fear. I don’t like the uncomfortable or the uncertain. I just want for us to have more good times together and I often miss them, living several hours away.

I’ve been waiting for the tulips. Last year I bought and planted the bulbs as a means of development. I wanted more beauty per square foot as if it could equate to happiness per moment. Never have I invested in the idea of a short Spring bloom, but Daniel is fond of tulips so I wanted to make it happen. Now I find that I am waiting for those purple miracles, like an omen or a promise. Please, please, be wonderful.

After tracking my own behavior for years, I really believe that I suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It seems to be a calendar cycle, during a certain time when I feel out-of-control and, if the wrong mood should hit and I am not smart enough to remind myself of the condition, I could very well tear at the foundational building blocks that have built my life. I could throw my life away in a second. This seems to go hand-in-hand with my diet and nutrition as well: if I’m skipping vitamins and living the fast food life, my body retains water, I swell up and feel miserable. If I’m abstaining from crap food, everything normalizes from my sleep cycle to my energy and ambition. I have vowed to take control of my emotions and actions. I’ve been making smart decisions and calming myself down when everything looks terrible and pointless. It has only been a little while. Please, clarity, please, creativity, please, dreams, please, stay with me.

Admittedly, a lot of my self-worth is invested in my relationship. I give a lot, to Daniel. Our relationship can feel like a gauge for my own personal well-being. ‘We’ are something I treasure. And we are in a stable place right now. It takes focus and lots of perspective. I need to always feel like we’re moving, so this year I’ve decided in my head that I’m going to assist him in his “outdoor Summer” he has declared, and spend time together working with the landscape that I love more and more each day. I’m also going to support him in whatever indoor task he takes on, as there are plenty of rooms and renovations to go before the house is fixed up or otherwise sold. Our future is unclear – we have so many separate goals to reach that we aren’t in a place to discuss any next levels like that. The objective is to realize what we have, appreciate it, and care for it together.

I look forward to enjoying just that.