Skip to main content


Showing posts from November, 2011

I almost died, seriously

I think my brain had the stomach flu on Tuesday. I felt it retching in my skull -- the dry heaves, retch, retch, blah -- over and over again. I told Jerod I felt like I was burning from the inside out and he put his hand on my head and said, "You don't feel hot."

I've had migraines -- this was a different kind of torture. The pain started behind my eyeballs and shot down my spine into my arms and legs and returned to my head. I gutted it out for a couple of hours and finally screamed for Jerod to take me to the doctor, who would certainly give me something to stop the pain. 
There I went being optimistic again -- big mistake, huge.
I sat in the doctor's office with Jerod and Ashlyn for an hour and twenty minutes. The nurses took blood -- so I got poked with needles. They made me pee in a cup -- so I got to stumble around the bathroom shared by hundreds of patients with shaky hands -- yee haw, urine. 
They shone lights in my eyes, and knocked around on my head, &q…

Sometimes broke is better

Husbands and wives kill each other over money and other little things like sex and kids and the division of household labor. It got me thinking that perhaps Jerod and I have been looking at our financial struggles all wrong.

There's little to be gained should one of us dismember the other -- some peace and quiet maybe. Beyond that there's debt, homework, dirty diapers, tantrums and tattle tailing, none of which any sane person wants to deal with alone. As long as we're poor the chances that Jerod or I will meet a suspicious end are negligible.

The holidays put me on this train of thought, because Christmas time has set the stage for many a knock-down-drag out in our household.

Take our first Christmas as a marital unit. A wife might expect something special under the tree -- a sentimental, thoughtful gift -- to remind her for years to come of that first magic Christmas she spent with her husband. 
My husband returned from Wal-Mart that year with his brother late on Christma…

late-night confession

I'm 34 years old, and I'm scared of the dark -- of ghosts and monsters and demons and psycho, deranged serial killers.

I try to sleep with the tellie off, but this panicky "I'm going to die" mantra goes off  in my head, and I hear my heartbeat in my face, and I leap out of bed and scramble for the light switch in order to find the remote.

Then I dream about Snuggies with zippers, Proactiv acne treatment, Nuwave ovens and poker tournaments.

Fact: I stole my daughter's princess night light.

Fact: I strategize escape routes before I go to the bathroom at night, because who knows what'll happen while I'm sitting on the toilet?

Rationalization: I feel safer when Lily sleeps with me -- I'd sleep with Jerod, but he snores too loud, and that's scary too, but mostly the noise keeps me up, and that's worse than being scared.

Yay, I'm a writer

"There was no magic banner that appeared over your crib at birth saying, "Yes, this one, let's make this one's life an agonizing, lonely struggle with very little money and even less success. Let's make this one a WRITER."--Caroline Sharp  Writing is a disease--a sort of psychosis--and people who do it well share the same set of symptoms or neuroses--which ever term suits your fancy.

A friend lent me a great book about writing through writers block--A Writer's Workbook--by Caroline Sharp. In it, Sharp identifies many truths about the chore of writing--perhaps most affirming, if you identify yourself as a writer, is a tidbit from author Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote the forward.

Gilbert recollects a phone conversation she had with a writer friend about not writing.
The friend posed a hypothetical question: "Would you rather wash all your dirty laundry, run it through the drier, fold it, put it all away in your drawers, and then take those same clean cl…

I'm a bumbling idiot

I got a phone call today about the project I described a couple of posts back
-- just a follow up based on some information I requested from iUniverse. 
Their consultant wanted more information about my story, and I think my tongue actually swelled up in my mouth and almost choked me to death. 
It was bad enough blogging about it, but talking about it -- I've never.
"Well -- um -- it's sort of about a murder kind of. This pastor gets -- um -- murdered and the whole town freaks out, and -- um ..."
It was awful. Really awful. Really, really, really awful. And I kept telling her how sorry I was for sounding like a crazy person.
"I've never talked about this to anyone," I panted. "I mean not even my family or my friends, and it's just sort of hard to talk about it like this."
She tried consoling me, but that's what everyone does with crazy people, because crazy people are scary.
I spent most of the rest of this afternoon constructing a blurb tha…

Playing house

Most girls play house. They pick it up in preschool before they know much about babies or spousal dynamics -- woman = wife + mother, man = father + husband, and babies materialize from nothing.

The game evolves in kindergarten when children discover that novel thing called pregnancy. Then comes every father's worst nightmare -- the day their daughters incorporate gestation into their play stuffing pillows or balloons down their shirts to replicate pregnant bellies. It's usually based on their desire to be mothers like their mothers and grandmothers. 
That wasn't the case for me. Pregnancy and having children in my mind was synonymous with being an adult. I mimicked pregnant women because I foolishly believed that people would take me more seriously.
Exhibit A: Plums for sale!
My grandma asked me once to rake up the plums that had fallen from her tree in the yard and throw them in the trash.
I wanted to sell them.
I made a sign and packaged the plums in little white boxes --…

I'd rather cut my leg off with a butter knife

My friends and aunts and parents sometimes ask about this "book" I'm writing. I don't like calling it a book, because a book is something that is published, and I don't know that anyone with a printing press will ever be interested in my writing. 
I'd rather refer to my project as a 50,000-plus-word story. Not that I've written 50,000 words -- that (50,000) is the goal, because a 49,999-word story is one word short of a novel.
I cagily evade inquiries regarding the aforementioned project, refusing to share so little as a sentence with even my closest friends and family members. This thing is personal to me. It's part of me like my children are part of me. The idea of putting it out there turns my stomach inside out. 
I can write and share a million diatribes against myself with little angst -- I prize my self-deprecating humor highest of all my attributes. 
I'm not nearly so comfortable with my serious bits. 
Please keep that in mind -- that I…

No pictures, please

I'm afraid of cameras like some people are frightened of spiders or water or heights or small spaces. See if you can guess why.

Barbies, by Lily

In my former life as a newspaper reporter I loved interviewing children, because their quotes were always amusing if not hysterical and ridiculous. It was with that in mind that I asked Lily to help me write a story for this evening's post. And though I'm biased as her mother, I'm fairly confident her story will amuse and at times even frighten you.

Our tale of woe begins in a play attic atop a a fine pink- and white-painted Victorian cottage, home to the Busher family -- Jon, Clare, Liliana, Cecelia, Olivia, Sophia and Ariana.

The girls were playing Barbies with Mother Clare, who was deep in Pride and Prejudice sprawled over a lavender pouf embroidered with white and yellow daisies.

The music of the girl's play voices amused Clare as she pictured Miss Bennett and Mr. Darcy sparring in the English countryside. The room was warm and smelled of cinnamon and apples.

Their blissful afternoon was interrupted by an explosion of breaking glass and leaden footsteps ascending t…

Number 2

Jerod's looking for the magical crack dealer our kids have hiding in the couch cushions -- a pipe pedaling leprechaun with stains on his teeth and rancid fingernails.

The youngsters are restless tonight.

Lily faked throwing up to avoid doing homework, and -- forgetting how close to death she was -- did a gymnastics routine on the kitchen counter. Ashlyn punched her in the stomach and laughed as I chased her all over the house demanding she go in time out -- "Go sit on the stairs. NOW."

Jerod's voice is booming through the walls and floorboards, "Stop ... get down from there ... what the heck ... stupid dogs ... you're supposed to be sick ... Ashlyn Dever ... No ... that's it ... Ashlyn, go sit on the stairs."

It's the kind of night when mothers and fathers look at one another with sad, defeated eyes and ask, "Why did we do this to ourselves?"

The blanket that covers the hole in back of the couch is blessed with Ashlyn's art work as…

Take the hint, dude

There's never enough time to do what you want -- in my case write. I keep hold of this silly delusion that one day I'll have enough time to take care of my kids, convince my husband that I've done my share, and write something worth writing that never once -- in the process of typing and retyping and doing and undoing -- made me punch a wall or swear at myself in the mirror.

I'm one day into a month 3-month leave, and I'm already in trouble for leaving the breakfast dishes in the sink, leaving pop cans on the counter, letting Lily abandon her shoes and socks on the kitchen floor, and not making dinner. I think I was supposed to empty the cat box too -- I didn't, obviously.

I went to the bank, though, and the store. I fed the cats and took care of the dogs. I kept up with Ashlyn all day and started sorting through the stacks of junk on the kitchen counter that serves as an inbox for mail, school work and random junk.

And here it is 7:30 p.m., and I'm writin…

"They don't get out much"

Saturday marked a new low for Jerod and me -- enrollment in the doesn't-get-out-much club for broke married people with children.

We were guests at a wedding. A beautiful wedding on a boat in Seattle with free food and -- insert the Imperial Margarine music here -- an open bar. This was a big letter day for the Bacharach-Trenchard duo, because we never go out anymore -- two kids, no money, no energy -- blah, blah, blah.

Case and point: Our last date was more than a year ago -- dinner out. I was on the rag.

Our social life features delivery pizza, on-demand movies and comfy dinners with friends and family. We have no complaints, but it's nice to go out now and then.

I'd marked the wedding on our calendar in red marker with hearts and stars and smiley faces.

It could have been our wedding for all the fuss we made. But -- as I said -- we hadn't done a proper date in ages. It was nice having something special to look forward to. We dug our fancy clothes out of moth balls …

"You're a mess"

I'm a lot like Pigpen -- the Peanuts kid beleaguered by filth. I'm messy. I cook messy, do my hair and makeup messy, get dressed messy, fix my coffee messy
-- I clean messy.

My husband hates it, and I hate that he follows me all over the house to catch me in the act of making messes -- and the moment I turn my back on something that's not where it belongs he jumps out like a jack-in-the-box and scolds me. It drives me insane -- explode-out-of-my-skin homicidally insane.

It occurred to me last night while I was angrily rolling out a pie crust -- swearing because the dough was too warm -- that Jerod -- my husband -- is my Grandma Kay's revenge.

She popped into my head first because she'd disapprove of my swearing. Then in mid chuckle -- my mind's eye picturing my grandmother clap her hands and chirp something disciplinary like "don't be so ugly" or "I'm very disappointed" -- I felt something soft and slippery glop between my toes.

A …

Toni said it's OK

I made a pie tonight with my girls and started to write many things that sucked rotten eggs. That's all the hag with a horrible headache can muster tonight. Until we meet again --
"When I sit down in order to write, sometimes it’s there; sometimes it’s not. But that doesn’t bother me anymore. I tell my students there is such a thing as “writer’s block,” and they should respect it. You shouldn’t write through it. It’s blocked because it ought to be blocked, because you haven’t got it right now.TONI MORRISON

The printed word: Is it dead?

I'm fed up with this debate -- technology versus ink and paper, or anywhere-with-an-Internet-connection versus obsolete newsroom. It feels like someone is poking around my insides with a sharp stick -- I'm fumbling in the dark for an anchor, because my tidal surge of rage and anguish is receding with every feeling I've ever had, and I hate it.

Every now then when I talk about my past life in the newspaper business, a well-meaning soul will flash me an "awe shucks" expression and explain -- as if I didn't already know -- that "newspapers are dead," or "we live in a paperless society."

If you want to be a paid journalist nowadays you need better than solid reporting skills -- you need to be a blogger and a tweeter and video capture-er and a coder and a ...

I tried reading an article last night about hacker journalism, and I got lost in the first two sentences.

I can't argue with the business bloggers and the suit-wearing executives who i…

Count your blessings

I've been following this story about a 2-year-old boy who went missing in Bellevue on Sunday after his mother reportedly left him alone sleeping in an unlocked car. She told police she had run out of gas and walked with her 4-year-old daughter to a Chevron station. She claims that her son was missing when she returned to the car an hour later .

And here's the kicker: She was arrested two years ago for leaving the same child -- a newborn then -- unattended in a car while she and her then-husband went shopping at Target. Who knows where the boy is -- whether or not his mother has anything to do with his disappearance.

Hearing these stories sets off  my crazy-mommy instinct to grab my kids and hug them til their eyes nearly pop from their sockets. We're all guilty at some point of taking our children for granted. It's especially hard when I come home from work and Jerod says, "I'm sick. Here's the kids. I'm going to bed."

Ashlyn is climbing the book…

What if ...

I think I've mentioned once or twice that writing sometimes feels like death -- or what I imagine feels like death, because I've never come close to dying as far as I know. It might feel more like childbirth without drugs -- which I DO NOT recommend and can say with authority feels much worse than running out of words to put on paper. So it's not as bad as death, but it's quite maddening when you want to say something and have nothing to say. I'm always curious how other writers manage their demons. Many refuse to speak on the subject, while others write long winded how-to manuals or -- worse -- advise would-be authors and journalists to do something else -- so screw them. 
My demons are topics. The words come out fine when their focused on something I care about, but sometimes I really don't give a crap -- then writing is hell, like I'm standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open -- I'm starving and there's a million things to eat but…

Miss Eloise

I stood in a hospital maternity room 14 years ago
-- only half horrified at the entire birth process -- waiting to meet my best friend's daughter, Miss Lauren Eloise. This bundle of blue-eyed joy filled the fortunate or unforunate role -- depending on your point of view -- of First Baby in our small family of friends. I like to think of Lauren as my unofficial third daughter, my almost niece and -- when she's not calling me the "meanest person on the planet" -- my friend. These blessings are mine more than hers. She's put up with a lot from me, though I'm confident she'll eventually pay me back for the teasing and practical jokes. My experience then with little people -- as an only child and having been a terribly irresponsible teenager -- was rather limited.

My name was on nobody's list of approved babysitters. So Lauren was my first stab at being parentish or auntish -- not that her mother needed or even wanted my assistance. I forced myself on the…


I'm a sentence away from postal -- from chucking my computer at the wall and stomping on it until its guts are embedded in the soles of my feet. I want to set it on fire and breathe in the toxic fumes until my brain goes all fuzzy. And -- when I recover -- I want to pummel the charred corpse of my computer with a really big stick and throw whatever's left in the blender and then the microwave, because nothing drives me battier than the troll in the blank page -- the invisible bitch who screams in my face "you have nothing of value to fill in the void."

I often feel like Sesame Street's Don Music, who slammed his head against the piano and sobbed hysterically over any little mistake or unforeseen challenge.

My writing self is a bipolar monster with claws and fangs. She swears a lot and shouts out nonsensical words like "gr-gr-gr-gr-gr-gr-gr-gr" and "aarg" like maybe she's eating a pirate. She nags me on the bus with the what-are-you-going-t…

On the road with Kim

My first car was a silver 1982 Buick Skylark, named Kim after a girl I couldn't stand from school. She was great as far as piece-of-crap clunkers go. She only required a quart of oil every 20 miles, so everything I owned -- an ankle deep collection of clothing, school work, handbags, shoes, fast food wrappers and unidentifiable trash -- was splattered with greasy dribbles from near-empty containers of 5W40.

The radiator was more temperamental than the engine, forcing me to run the heater full blast on the hottest days of summer to prevent the bitch from overheating.
This fine bargain of an automobile that my parents bought me a few months shy of my 19th birthday seized up on our first road trip together a few miles west of North Bend stranding me on the side of I-90 with my friend, Erika.

Several state troopers passed us up before a kindly trucker stopped to help. He suggested that I pour ice-cold water directly into the radiator that was spouting antifreeze like a fricking geyser…