Are you there, God? It’s me, High Mom.

I’m taking a stab at high writing, though it’s hard to tell how high I am or how it will affect the quality of the prose (for better or worse). I hit the bowl before putting the kids to bed, and now I’m trying to make sense of all the thoughts I had throughout the day. I know there were a few good ones in there…

When I’m high, I often find myself taking the same walks in my brain, down the same, familiar paths. Like, Oh, I’ve been here before. I know this place. The insecurities, the desires, the feelings of Anxiety and Gratitude and Contemplation, emerging like old friends from the murky shadows of my mind. Is this my religion, I wonder? I think about religion a lot when I’m high.

I met an expert in religious studies today. I’ll call him the Fox. He is shortish, with a slight paunch and an inscrutable expression. As a philosophy professor at a nearby university, his Intro to World Religions course is one of the most popular courses there, but never once in his 27-year tenure has he divulged his personal beliefs on religion. Then again, he doesn’t really believe in beliefs. He’s an open-minded skeptic who thinks faith is a bit of a cop-out. He’s not all that interested in organized religions and much prefers the sacred texts of thousands of years before. The Secrets of the Universe. Man-made (“Because if God did it, you’d think it would be a little clearer.”). Ancient man, with ancient scrolls and ancient methods of communication, indecipherable to a Google search, so complex and esoteric that my head hurt hearing him explain how to read Buddhist poems (or something like that).

The Fox doesn’t share secrets with the lazy. He wants his kids to work for them, to unlock the mysteries for themselves. He wants his students to read. Original sources, preferably. To learn from them how to argue, to reason, to critique, to think. He’s paranoid of a larger conspiracy to dumb down our young. People are all too eager to be told what to think, and it terrifies him. After all, stupid people are easier to control.

The Fox loves the subversion of teaching college students critical thinking through religion. “Like taking a 2×4 to the head. Because it’s is the one thing you’re taught not to question.”

So what exactly is religion? He defined it as the connections we make to things larger than ourselves. He couldn’t define God. The problem, he said, is people think they can.

I told the Fox that I grew up without religion, but that I wish I better understood my Hindu roots–and that I think about religion more, now that I am a parent. He said that happens frequently.

Continue reading

I am not a witch

Remember when Christine O’Donnell went on national TV to say that? Why be so ashamed, Christine?! Embrace that shit!!

Except, of course, you spouted Tea Party nonsense, and I’m digressing completely. I might still be high.  Maybe I should do more high writing. Although I’m hesitant to, because my brain sometimes moves too fast for even me to keep up. Like Writer Me and Stoner Me and are having a weird confrontation.

Gah! See, right there. I’m high writing my thoughts. My dad told me today that my style of writing was “too conversational,” and I thought, “Whatever. It’s still good.” I get my arrogance from him.

But anyway…

Today. What a day. I think it was the Universe maybe rewarding me? I think Spiderman’s prophecy may have just come true. I’m still kinda like, whoa, wow, holy shit. In a good way.

All this time, I thought that if I worked really hard and poured my time and attention into the blog, then I’d get rewarded with an essay in the New York Times and a bunch of book deals in my inbox. As if that’s all it took. I was hustling without knowing the first fucking thing about the hustle.

The hustle starts with humility. If you want to be great, it begins by knowing that you aren’t, that greatness isn’t a state of being, but an existence that looms forever out of reach. The hustle is in rejection. It’s the job you thought you landed but didn’t get. It’s the “thanks, but no thanks” from the Times. It’s the 12-page project you completed overnight–the one that sat on your boss’ desk, unread, for weeks, as your dog died of cancer–only to be told that you never met a deadline in your performance appraisal the following year.

The hustle is nothing without the heart. The heart is honor and compassion and gratitude and kindness and all the good you aspire to be, even when you fail.

In two weeks, I’m going to have a new boss. I’m going to have everything I dreamed of happening at work, finally happen. (For the record, I didn’t just hope, I hustled.) Ms. Mahogany shook her head when she heard the news this afternoon.

“You strategic little bitch,” she said.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” I told her. “It’s new and crazy for me, too.”

“How are you feeling about it?”

“Excited. Nervous. I successfully orchestrated an office coup, and now I’m wondering if I did the right thing.”

“There’s a Bible verse you should remember: To whom much has been given, much is required.”

I don’t know if I fully understand what she meant, but I’m grateful for the words. I need the wisdom of her counsel and the goodness of her heart.

I need to kick ass in this role. I need to hustle. I need to kill it unlike anything I’ve ever killed it before. And I probably need to start blogging less about work.

On that note, I hid the post about the time I thought I was turning into a witch and did that whole thing at the holiday party. I thought it was my $333 ticket to a book deal, but that may have been a bit foolish.

I am not a witch. Or maybe I am. Who the fuck knows.

(Note the change in Bitmoji attire… I’m dressing for the job I want and committing to be a more professional me!)

The mama waterskunk

“Why do the dumpsters have locks on it?” Big A asked, as I threw our sandwich wrappers and wet wipes away.

It was our last full day in Colorado. Just a few months before, Mr. D and I were misty-eyed in an Austin Imax while watching a documentary on the 100-year anniversary of the natural parks.  “The greatest natural wonders belong to no one: They belong to us all,” Robert Redford’s voice narrated. “They belong to all.” As we left the theater, I admitted how choked with emotion I felt at the sight of our purple mountain majesties. “I teared up, too,” my husband admitted. “We should do more stuff outdoors.”

Then we came home. Work piled on. Swim lessons and gymnastics and drop-offs and pick-ups and life in general resumed its unrelenting, unapologetic pace. I fantasized daily about quitting my job, wondering if my boss would continue to take credit for my work, or if she would, instead, give me the one thing I had asked for and unquestionably earned. But she didn’t acknowledge my question, let alone provide an answer, and I found myself averaging three hours of sleep on a good night. About a month after my suicide joke fell flat in a staff meeting and probably a week before my inevitable mental break down, Mr. D bought impromptu tickets to Denver. “It will be good for us,” he said. “It will be good for you.”

It was perfect. It was exactly what the doctor ordered, right down to the weed. The girls, Mr. D and I hiked mountains and stepped off the beaten path to climb rocks and explore nature on our own. By the time we polished the last of our PB&Js at a picnic table in Rocky Mountain National Park, I decided I could very happily relocate to the West. We’d just need to get used to the whole snakes and bears thing.

“That’s why you’re supposed to lock the dumpsters,” I explained to Big A. “So bears can’t get in.”

“Bears?” Little A asked in her sweet whisky voice. “Will they hurt us?”

“Um… well… hopefully we won’t see any. But sometimes bears can hurt people. Especially if it’s a mama bear who wants to protect her babies.”

Little A lost interest in the bears, and we proceeded to circle around a spectacular lake, its crystal clear water reflecting the towering rocky mountain ranges from beyond. We climbed more rocks and walked across logs and even hopped over stones to explore the other side of a babbling brook. As we headed back to the car, Little A began to tell us a story about “a waterskunk family,” prattling on in her usual long-winded way, mundane details and indecipherable ones all piled together as my interest and attention drifted elsewhere–to the trash collected in our car, to the bathroom stops we all needed to make before we left, to the flight we had to catch tomorrow. The sweet whisky voice continued to drone on… and on… until finally, in her same casual tone, Little A said, “And then a man came, and he tried to hurt the babies, so the the mama waterskunk killed the man.” Mr. D and I both stared at each other blankly. “Kill the man?” I mouthed to him, as he laughed and said, “Well, that took an unexpected turn.”

We drove to another lake, and stopped again at the bathrooms, and admired a herd of moose crossing the road. We all fell asleep early that night, and I slept sound and deep and long.

Continue reading

The Lotus Eaters

I loved him before the drugs.

Sitting in the corner of Mr. Pierogie’s 9th grade, Honors English, we’d pass each other notes, handfuls of which I still have saved in a frayed, decades-old Victoria’s Secret box. There are the snarky one-liners about the class know-it-all; the fear we harbored for the wobbly barstool upon which our sweet, fat teacher would sit; the exchanges that said nothing and everything about life at 13.

When I try to pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with D, I return to that classroom. We had finished the first half of The Odyssey, and from his precarious perch, Mr. Pierogie asked us which of Odysseus’ challenges had been the most dangerous. “The Lotus Eaters,” D whispered to me. It seemed an odd choice, only a few small pages about a flower that forever trapped its willful victims, certainly less exotic or action-packed than some of the other stories in the epic, and my face must have reflected my bemusement. He smirked and added, “It’s the only one I actually read.”

When the know-it-all raised his hand to make the same argument—something about hopelessness, loss of willpower, how those who ate from the flower abandoned desire for all else—I fell madly in love with D’s smile, the free-of-arrogance, I-told-you-so expression that said, “So what if I got lucky? I’m right.”

Shortly after our initial drunken kiss some 11 years later, after we went from being friends to being more, I asked Mr. D if he, too, knew the moment he loved me. “We were in the cafeteria,” he said, going into explicit detail of watching me, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, as I devoured what must have been a very delicious popsicle. “That’s the girl I’m going to marry,” he joked, and we both cracked up.

We didn’t share another class until senior English, and our casual connection continued through college. We’d hit the bowl in his dorm, exhaling pot smoke into an empty water bottle filled with dryer sheets to mask the smell. Once, I accompanied him and his girlfriend on a blunt ride behind campus, grabbing the closest available beverage to soothe my throat, only to gag as the gin-laced juice seared its way to my stomach.

We went to parties in the seedier parts of the city. He taught me how to hock loogies and download songs off illegal websites. We took statistics sophomore year, our first shared class since high school, though he’d eventually fail the course and drop out altogether. After that, it was years before we saw each other again.

When we did, it was at my wedding. Newly single, D came alone and caught the bouquet. At 22, I had married a former pothead who smoked with me on our first date but never touched marijuana again. The sex was mediocre. When a friend once asked what it was that I saw in him, I apparently replied, “He has D’s sense of humor.” She’d remind me of that after the divorce, after D and I became “more,” after my corny remark of always loving him and after the chorus of duhs from our mutual friends.

We were potheads that first year, but D was more, and I didn’t realize just how debilitating more could be. D knew. He had called it eleven years before, in freshman English.

Continue reading

Is this marriage?

Mr. D says I have a tendency to project my stress onto our relationship, and he may be right. Sometimes when we smoke at night, I find myself unable to get comfortable in his arms, or on the couch, or in the bed. I just sit there, on edge, anxious and tense, wondering why I can’t relax, and it compounds the already growing feelings of inadequacy and insecurity that mar my Groundhog’s Day existence, where every day is the same, and I never feel good enough at home or at work, and I wonder if I’m arrogant for wanting more for our life, or ambitious for dreaming big.

I told Mr. D that I was sorry if I take my woes out on him, and he said it’s okay, that at least I don’t express it on the kids, or at my job, or with my parents. And then I wondered, is that marriage? Is that what we do for the ones we love? Absorb some of their stress while they get their shit together?

If so, I’m grateful for it. If not, I’m tipsy (I hate alcohol), and these are all thoughts for an essay on another day.

Dogma

Angelina Jolie once said it was her son Maddox who adopted her, and not the other way around. That his three-month-old smile gave her a confidence she had never known.

“I held him for the longest time, and finally he woke up and stared at me, and we stared at each other, and I was crying and he smiled and I felt… my discomfort with children is because I assume I can’t make them happy, because I’ve been accused of being dark I wasn’t sure I’d be a great, loving, perfect mom even though I wanted to be so bad. Could I make someone comfortable and happy? But he smiled and we hung out for a few hours, and I could make him happy, and we felt like a family.”

That was from a 2005 Vanity Fair interview to promote Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I thought of it a year later, at the Humane Association, when a scruffy mutt nuzzled its way onto my lap with such boundless affection I felt confident in my ability to be his mom. “I want him,” I told my husband.

I was 22 and married to a man who I disliked far more than I loved. We bought a house the week before our wedding and adopted Grizzly the month after.

Continue reading

Jump!

How do Buzzfeed Quizzes so profoundly nail the story of my life?

How do they know my zodiac sign from my favorite sex position; or that I love to eat and am also a bit of a lush because of Peter Griffin; or that this is the year I’ll quit my job based off the Australian snacks I happened to choose at random?

Seriously, this is what it said: “You’ve been sitting at the same desk, staring at the same screen blankly for far too long, and this is the year you’ll finally take action! Out with the old, in with the new.”

Continue reading

Subversive park rangers, national heroes

Rogue National Park Accounts Emerge on Twitter Amid Social Media Gag Orders.

The headline, alone, gives me hope.

The First Amendment is the cornerstone of what makes America great, and it’s beautiful to see these freedoms being upheld. In fact, maybe Trump–with his ironic platform and backwards ideals and misguided crusade against the very founding principles that distinguish our United States from the wider world–will, in fact, serve to unite us.

Maybe we needed to be grabbed by the pussy, these cold and chilling threats to our democracy the unexpected glue that will band us together in ways that transcend politics and bond us in the indestructible beauty of our nation’s moral fiber.

Maybe that’s the audacity of hope. That we are great because we are good. That our destiny will be written by us, not for us.

Feeling anxious

Still haven’t heard back from the Times, or the other job, or Little Jay Z.

Little A has been battling a stomach bug since Saturday.

My deadline is this week, and I’m just barely making it.

A meeting at work was moved from yesterday to Friday, and it happens to coincide with Little A’s school play.

We’re down to one car because I killed the other by driving 6,000 miles without an oil change.

I still haven’t made Mr. D’s Christmas present.

I am slacking miserably at my bridesmaids duties.

I fucked up the Flat Stanley project for Big A.

I’m back to writing essays in my head, and they’re not even very good.

On the plus side, I think Little A is getting better, and I’m sleeping well, and I’ve gone for a run two days in a row, and I know that if I just do good work, everything will be okay. Just need to feed the good wolf and remind myself to “live a wonderful life and know it.”

I’m a bad friend

This is the start of an essay for a longer day, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about. Mostly because of my last essay on Gwyneth.

“Well, it’s not like she’ll ever see it,” Mr. D said after I posted it.

“No, she might,” I replied. “She knows about the blog.”

An hour passed. I felt anxious about letting my bitch flag fly so flagrantly.

“Do you think she’d be offended,” I asked Mr. D.

“Probably.”

I thought about it for a minute more. “Well, it’s not like we’re good friends. Plus I ruin friendships all the time.”

Mr. D laughed. “And now you know why.”