little sarah Big World

Tag: love

I Love My Two Gay Moms

~OR~

In Celebration of Legalized Same-Sex Marriage

Beth, Rosie and Mom: Wedding Day

Note: I originally wrote this almost 3 years ago, then re-tooled it on a whim last night, in preparation for an amateur open mic night at a tiny burrito restaurant. My moms were legally married on Sunday, May 24th at the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City, UT. This is a story about how I first came to have two mommies, written in 3 parts.

Beth & Mom

Part I – “Motherfucker”

My little brother coined the term, and it stuck right away. Crass, sarcastic, self-consciously funny–it was a perfect fit for our wise-ass family. “Motherfucker,” as in one who…well, our mom’s new girlfriend, Beth (her given name).

There were predecessors–Denise the secret alcoholic and Debbie the painfully bland–and we had welcomed them without much fanfare and done our best to support Mom in her later-life coming out.

But Beth was the first one real enough to warrant a nickname, cool enough to happily accept, standing there in Mom’s kitchen, peeling linoleum and dark, low-hanging cabinets, only slightly self-conscious–at the moment of our meeting–that she had just taken a hit from a honey bear bong, sitting slyly on the counter.

Kids, meet Beth. Beth, my children. We weren’t expecting you home so soon.

Obviously.

But mom was blushing, smitten, in love.

Moms in Love

Part II – “Motherfuck

“How can you have more kids when you don’t even care about the ones you already have?? You think you can just fuck us up and then try again with a new batch?!”

I said this. In public. At a fancy sushi restaurant, where they’d taken us to share the Big News: a baby. Mom, her four adult children, and Beth, our MF. They were nervous, anxious, eager for approval, and I didn’t make it any easier, letting them ahave a piece of my mind, thinking myself the only one brave enough.

Not that our opinions mattered. They were already decided, donor sperm and turkey baster at the ready.

Nevermind that Mom’s youngest was at this point already in his twenties. Nevermind that they’d been dating less than a year. Nevermind that the four of us “emerging adults” were struggling, failing to thrive, still reeling from divorce and a consistent lack of cohesive parenting.

They were going to have a baby. Well, Beth was. Mom was already well past ovulation. They were going to raise a child, together.

Maybe they wanted a fresh start. Maybe Mom thought she wouldn’t make the same mistakes twice. Maybe they had NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND THIS HAD “BAD IDEA” WRITTEN ALL OVER IT, and I told them as much, without shame, ever righteous.

They did it anyways, those motherfuckers.

Motherfuckers

Part III – “Mother” 

But then there was this baby, a little sister, Rosie, and she had curly hair and blue eyes and a wary gaze. She distrusted strangers. She smiled when I sang to her.

Of course, in the nine month intermin we’d doubted, gossiped, judged Beth’s ability to parent, judged Mom’s ability to parent. Beth would probably try to make Rosie just like her, down to the miniature black converse (didn’t work, Rosie preferred pink and purple from the get-go). Mom would probably pick at Rosie for the littlest things, continuing our same battle for emotional superiority (she didn’t, too old to care).

And we would be left to fend for ourselves, the failed first batch, forgotten.

We weren’t. You see, what else happened in the interim is that Beth got me to go back to school, and helped me to believe (or remember) that I was a great student, intelligent, capable. What happened is that Beth made sure my nephew had adequate daycare, they type of education he deserved, much to my sister’s alternating relief and chagrin. What happened is that Beth supported my oldest sister’s family, always pushing for them to pull through and work things out, even when the rest of us thought they should throw in the towel. What happened is that Beth helped my younger brother adjust to life after the Navy, and trusted him to figure it out for himself when he rejected her help.

What happened is that she bought us kick-ass presents and encouraged us to throw parties at the house while they were out of town.

What happened, really, is something so simple and so intuitive, yet so rare in the world of step-parenting, and that is: having met us as adults, Beth did not try to parent us. She didn’t ground us or send us to our rooms, or call us spoiled brats. She did: care for us, encourage us to further our education, help us out financially, lend us the car, let us move back home again (and again, and again). She fought for us, she believed in us. She saw the best in us and helped us to see it in ourselves.

She helped us grow, and we grew up.

There’s a word for someone like that. It starts with the letter M.

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The Year That Was

Funabashi, Chiba, 2014

~OR~

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You a Far More Easy-Going Person

*       *       *

2014 was the year I stopped feeling homesick. The year I ran my first marathon and fell in love with Japan.

Nagano, Japan, April 2014

The year my best friend rushed home from work to spoon me on her couch while I fell apart, crying in her exhausted arms.

The year I was held together by so many, from so far, in so may ways that it is unbe-fucking-lievable.

The year I learned you can’t always reciprocate, you just have to pay it forward, and be better than you were. Sometimes you have to live the “thank you” or “I’m sorry,” because saying it isn’t enough.

The year I was brave enough to say no, not ready, not yet (even if later I wailed and wished I’d said yes).

The year I got dumped, for the first time in my life.

Broken Glass, Japan, 2014

The year I realized that I had a choice, about whether to fall apart or not.

The year I flushed a fistful of pills down the toilet, breaking plans for a very dark date with myself.

The year I tried head meds, saved my own life, and then stopped them, quit counseling, and followed my own advice.

The year I realized that I know better than anyone else, when it comes to my own life.

The year I started making my own damn decisions, without endless debate or consultation.

The year I held my own hand, small in my bed, and knew that it was enough.

Daffodils, 2014

I almost didn’t make it through 2014. I had to learn to live for others first, then for my own self second. If I could say one thing to the whole wide world, I would say: it’s okay. Everyone is doing their best.

Shibuya Crossing on a Rainy Day, Tokyo, 2014

I want to dedicate 2014 to all of my many many loves, but especially to these people, for these reasons:

To Erin, for bringing me a cookie and sitting with me while I hid in a stairwell at work and cried.

To my mom, for patiently having the same conversation with me, over and over.

To my dad, for being my soulmate, and my friend.

To Scott, who talked me down off of a couple ledges, even if he didn’t know it at the time.

To the folks at Tokyo English Life Line, for obvious reasons.

Meguro, Tokyo, 2014

To Daniel, who told me his story, bought me pizza, and helped me plan a trip that I didn’t take.

To Nicole, who gave me a book like a friend, when I needed exactly that.

To Eric and Izzy, who shared their bed with me and rubbed my shoulders until I fell asleep.

To Granny, for telling me it wasn’t so bad, that we all have to kiss a few frogs.

To Gramps, for the necklace I wore like an amulet, a charm to protect against evils.

To Paul, and Felix, and Cha and Kobe, for reminding me that I could make friends.

To Nami, for putting it simply; to Nozomi, for Halloween.

Flowers, Kyoto, 2014

To Espy, for the letters; to Griggs, for the laughs; to Sperry, for the pep-talk; to Sydney, for the sunshine; to Havilah for the flowers; to Melissa for listening; to Nikki, for trying to understand; and to Natalie, for fighting with me and still loving me, even after I threw a temper tantrum.

To Sammy, for making time to see me and create the world’s saltiest nachos.

To Kendra, for that time by the pool.

To Kristin, who stopped me in my tracks, made me repeat myself, when I said: “I stopped writing in my diary, because I couldn’t write without hearing that voice, judging what I said.”

To Darcie, who gave me a new diary.

Letter from Havilah, 2014

To Kasey and Rosie and Sydney and Carol, for being brave enough to tell the truth.

To Manu, who sat with me at my hollowest moment, and knew that I would get better.

To Marcos, for a well-timed hug.

To Nanako, for being just like me, and for all of the smiles and food.

To Adrienne and Luca, my divoster parents. You bore the brunt of this.

Nagano, Japan, April 2014

To Cammi, for being proud of me, because I followed my heart, and “aint nothing wrong with that”

To Adam, for giving me back to myself.

To Melanie, for giving me permission to move on.

To Betsy, for the SkyMiles (!), but also for listening and sharing and wishing me the best.

And to Whitney, for everything, for giving me everything you had, and then giving some more.

Showa Kinen Koen, November 2014

To everyone who sat with me, when I was a husk of myself, thin and brittle and shaking and dull—for listening, for waiting, for explaining, for understanding, for that quiet small space where there was nothing to say, where you held me tight as the waves crashed overhead. Thank you for letting your hearts break open a bit, just for me.

2014 was a hell of a year; you made it unforgettable.

Yokohama, 2014

And 2015?

Oh, my friends.

My friends!

Palmer, AK, August 2014

2015 is The Year of Fuck Yes

A Poem

~OR~

What I Did Instead of Falling Asleep

The View from Mt. Agung, Bali (December 2014)

“For You”

The whole night’s sky
All the stars
a message
reflecting:
“You are loved; you are safe”

The tide
pushed towards you
Blue ocean
come to call
a reminder:
“You are wanted; you are missed”

The flower-bright sunrise
Mountain tops
the cloud line
A new world
a promise:
Mornings to come

Your place
My heartbeat
a hammock
swaying, sweetly

“My love, my love”

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming…

Dear Readers,

I’m not normally a fan of wishlists or specific gift requests, believing that gift-giving is more of a test of how well the other person knows you than an way of getting exactly what you want for free. In the past, I’ve even decried my step-mom’s family’s straight-to-the-point manner of Christmas exchange–“give me this, this and this, please, and thank you.” Where is the mystery? The equal potential for disappointment or glory?

All the Colors of the Wind

But that’s when I still lived in The Greatest Country on Earth, if our lone criterion for greatness is the ability to buy and consume whatever you want, whenever you want. Yes, this has led to rampant obesity and wanton ingratitude…but it’s also led to widespread kale, and unbridled vegan options.

Of course, no gift could ever compare to the love, patience, and kindness of my family, friends, and anyone who has ever read this blog and shared with me a moment of connection. It goes without saying that all I want for Christmas is to feel loved, love, and loving. To know that I make even the smallest positive impact on the lives of others, and to let everyone know what a world of difference their presence makes in my life.

Drift

But I’ve thought up some second place items, just in case. IF you are at all inclined to mail something all the way to Japan, then this, dear Santas, is my Official Holiday Wish List:

– All of the dried fruits and raw nuts and seeds

– Good, fancy, dark-as-night chocolate

– Herbal teas, and if you can track down Celestial Seasoning’s Almond Sunset tea, I will give you my first born. It is the great white whale of herbal teas, like what “For the Love of Nancy” is to Lifetime: Television for Women

– Biographies and/or diaries of amazing women–Frida Kahlo, Virginia Woolf, Lucille Ball, Shirley Temple Black (etc). Lately my reading list has included Krakauer’s Into the Wild, Hesse’s Siddhartha, and the collected writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski. I maybe need to go in the other direction for a bit.

– Any and all of the books by Mary Roach, or other such fascinating, well-written non-fiction

– ProBars for days, or other, similar, on-the-go chow for running vegans

– Vegan protein powder, but only if you work for TwinLab and your name is Sperry and you made it yourself and can get it for free

– Letters, pictures, kind words, gentle thoughts. I am making almost all my presents this year, trying to take good care of myself and be a cheerful, helpful and strong presence in the lives of those around me. As I wrote to my friend Eric today, “I want to be bigger and better than myself.”

But I also want good things to read and healthy food to eat. So, that’s the list, if you are so inclined. Thank you for indulging me in this non-standard post, and happy December!

Another Happy Little Leaf, Hibiya Park

Love,
Sarah

This Is For You (You Know Who You Are)

~OR~

Worrying ≠ Thinking

Hey there, little happy leaf

I am no expert. At anything, at all. I try to share what I know, because I have not learned it on my own. I have been boosted up and helped along every step of the way, a living tower of family, friends, and mental health care professionals beneath me, so that I may survey my own inner landscape with some distance. From this vantage point, I can look down and say that it is not all bad.

I can tell you that this, too, will pass. That this awful, binding darkness, is fleeting, not forever. The sun will peek its rays through clouds of self-loathing and dark fear, slowly expanding to shed light and warmth on your oh-so lovable (I promise) body and soul.

Of course, as you’ve pointed out, this sunny intermission will pass, as all things do, and the darkness will come again. Yes, it is true.

But I’ve found, or been gently guided to see, that if you hold to the fleeting nature of feelings, a deeper sense of self will emerge, grown-up strong, like roots from the hard ground. And those emotions will not be yours; they will be like a storm front, passing through.

Then the vicious cycle of ups and downs will seem to have some forward motion, the anger and nothingness no longer blotting out the all light and air, nor even competing. Just shady spots, just clouds, over smooth, still waters.

Your cup is so full, and I know that feeling. Negative, poisonous thoughts and looming to-do lists, frustrations and obligations and days where even happy memories hurt. A brain so tormented, and tormenting, that it’s like being locked in a room with a crazy person hurling the most horrible, personal insults your way, with no end in sight. Of course you’d do anything to get away from that person. I know, because I have been that person, have wanted to kill that part of myself.

I know, because my cup is like your cup, too. All I’m asking you to do, as an experiment, is to empty your cup.

Read the rest of this entry »

Habits

~OR~

Teaching Myself New Tricks

~OR~

Lately, I’ve Been…

Latest Literary Love

Reading like I mean it. Devouring books, tearing through at least one each week, on the train, during lunch, before bed, everywhere. It makes the 12+ hours/week spent commuting pass pleasantly, and feels better than dicking around on my phone (though I still indulge in a fair amount of that).

Weaning myself off of sugar and special drinks. Oh, how I’ve bribed myself with the promise of soy hot chocolate on a Monday morning (a happy, sweet start the week), or a Wednesday morning (hump-day treat)…or a Friday morning (reward for a week almost over). But now I am listening to my wonderful little body, giving it what it really needs and wants to thrive. Be not fooled by the photo above–I’ve been resisting! Eating my veggies, and snacking in the savory. Like this:

Kakuteki Sunrise

Eating kimchi or kakuteki before 10 am. I crave the crunch, and the spice, to combat my sweet tooth.

Return Address

Doodling, drawing, penning and posting (the old fashioned way). I forgot how sweet it is to be simply creative. To make something with my heart and hands, then send it off and say goodbye. It’s a modest endeavor, but it makes me feel “like a child stringing beads in kindergarten–happy, absorbed, and quietly putting one bead on after another.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Life’s a Trip

~OR~

“I could go forever with a car, the open road, good music, and good company”

Looking up in Rip Van Winkle Park

Do you remember when you said that if all we had was a bed and music, we could have an amazing time?

Café Lumiere, I believe

But we also have coffee–sometimes fancy (with maximum adjectives), sometimes simple (black). Sometimes instant, after a nap or with our sunlight closet kitchen breakfasts.

The Russian Way

And we have amazing friends, from all over the world. Friends who make us P-shaped sofa beds to sleep on after arriving in the middle of the night–post-party–after 13 hours of driving. Friends who make speeches, or take us to a private beach, or get us tipsy on champagne on a sunny winter’s afternoon.

Now with more regular sustenance

We have words, too, and crosswords, and we divide and conquer, for maximum fun. We have a new-found sense of comfort around each other, so that just as the faint worry forms itself in my mind (“What if we just sit here and eat in silence like all the saddest couples?”), it is obliterated by how utterly easy it is to be around you.

you coo lay leigh

We have a ukulele! We lose entire mornings to it, burn through lazy afternoons and surprise each other with our sweet-yet-simple, earnest efforts to plunk out a tune. So we do have music, but now we make music, too.

P, B, and J

We have snacks for days, and sometimes we have meals. We cook together, and sometimes we say “Fuck it,” and get take-out, and it feels like the most fun, the most giddy and indulgent thing. It feels like milk and cookies with a friend after school. It feels like a sleepover. Like no parents no rules.

sunny slopes in Pacific Grove

And we have sunshine. We have sunshine in our hearts, and warming our scalps, and electrifying our pulses, and we have it in the kitchen, and coming in through the wintery west windows, and in the middle of December. We have easy sunsets on the conversation-fueled charges from Utah to California and back, and we have a steady, stealthy sunrise as we pull into the City of Salt, 8am, 13 hours weary but ready to keep going.

We do a loop around the valley. We arrive back home exhausted, thrilled, enamored.

*       *       *

So yes, music and a bed would be enough. But we have so, so much more.

Follow Your Bliss

~OR~

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

You don’t have to worry about me seeing you cry, Friend, even though I know that must suck. I’ve been learning lately that it’s much more comfortable to be the comforter than the comfortee.

But I’ve been the comforted one, friend. I’ve needed. I’ve doubted. I’ve been afraid and ashamed for others–even loved ones–to see me cry. I see now that they did not judge me.

And you don’t have to worry, friend, about me seeing you cry, because I love you even when you cry. Even when you wipe tears and snot onto your pretty scarf and then later forget and wear it out shopping. I love you even when you are pretending to be interested in finding new boots and making chit-chat, but really you are a churning torrent of shitty emotions inside and it’s hard to focus on much else. Even then. Even then I love you. Even then you are my friend.

*       *       *

I want to tell you: You did not make a mistake, Friend. You made a decision. Decisions suck bad, but they’ve gotta be made. So you made one, and maybe it wasn’t the best choice, after all. So make another. And another. Keep making decisions until you get to where you want to be. Do not wait for the approval of others! Do not worry about what people will think or how they will judge you! It is your life, and you have every right to fuck it up as you see fit.

(…though you won’t fuck it up, and I think we both know that)

This is not about black and white, right and wrong, good and bad choices. It’s about growing and learning. It’s about becoming strong. It’s about wearing bad-ass boots and a leather jacket and a pretty dress. And red hair–don’t forget the red hair. But you already know about being a bad-ass.

You are, after all, the girl who lived in a tent on Maui.

*       *       *

Think of how much you’ve changed since then, how far you’ve come. And think of how much you’d changed BEFORE that, from who you were in high school, for example. And then know that this, right now, this very shitty, snotty scarf-wearing, half-assed shopping, crying on a friend’s couch time of your life…well, it’s just another part. It’s just the ugly cocoon-y, wriggling larva part. Which means your transformation is not yet complete, and you are free to cry on my couch all you want. And I will still love you, Friend.

Because I know that you will be happy, though it might not be any time soon. I will be here, in the meantime, with tissues, and hugs, and food.

My Gift to You

~OR~

Return to Cheer

My gift to you on this most Valentine’s of days…is love. Platonic love.

Cuz listen, guys: dates are fun (except for when they’re disastrous), significant others make grocery shopping and laundry so much less mundane, sex is awesome, weddings are pretty cool…

…and let’s face it, nothing beats having someone to snuggle up with, to talk to at the end of a long day, to share your frustrations and triumphs, and your late night nachos. Someone to watch bad movies with. Someone who you’re not afraid to let see you cry. Somebody you can fight openly with and know that they will still be there for you.

But.

(BUT!)

That person does not have to be your lover. Radical notions, Friends! My gift to you is the advice that you should NOT put all of your love eggs into a relationship basket, no, but give some to your friends.

Because relationships often end, and you will need your brothers from other mothers and sisters from other misters. You will need your Friendships; they are the best ships of all, prepared to sail on through turbulent times.

So let’s be friends. Let’s all be friends, Friends. Enjoy your dates tonight, if that’s what you’ve got going on, but don’t neglect to give yourself the gift of friendship. Also: flowers. For you!

A Labor of Love

~OR~

I Bake Because I Care

~OR~

I Bake Because You Are 70-Years-Old and Deserve Something Delicious

My Granny Mary turned 70 on Thursday. 70, Friends! Isn’t that amazing? Maybe you can’t tell from my low-lighting, high-motion picture, but she is a fox. She can pull off that sweater-with-leggings-and-boots look better than anyone I know. This is a woman who grew up on a rural farm in Idaho, became a mother in her teens, a grandmother in her 30s and a great grandmother (several times over) before most people have entered retirement. A woman who loves butter, wine, travel, gossip, sewing, saving, and a good story.

A woman who deserves a loaf of sweet, cinnamon pull-apart bread, even if it does take the better part of an already busy day to make. Because baking bread is a labor of love, it is something so personal and involved and messy, requiring patience and faith and a whole lot of sugar and spice and everything nice. But Granny Mary is worth all that.

I used this recipe from Joy the Baker, whom I adore (though not as much as my grandma, just sayin). It’s not a difficult recipe, just time consuming, as there is a lot of waiting involved. I used the waiting parts to run errands and go for a run. I’m nothing if not productive.

Anyways, you start out by making some dough, with yeast and everything, which stills feels like exciting, uncharted baking territory for me. You let it rise in a warm spot for an hour, while you mix up some cinnamon sugar (with nutmeg) and go to the grocery store. You know, errands stuff.

Then you roll the dough out and admire the beautiful winter sunlight that shines through your kitchen window, for about the hundredth time. Have I mentioned that I love my apartment?

You slather the dough with melted butter (I used vegan, and I also used almond milk in the recipe, mostly just because that’s what I already have at home), sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar mix, and then cut it into little squares. Then you stack the squares together into a pan. Like this:

Joy’s recipe calls for a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, but I was using the tin-foil, give-away-style pans and those only came in 8 x 3.5 inches at the Freddy-Smith’s, which means that I miraculously had enough for two loaves! One for Granny, and one for the party.

Although, looking at Joy’s post again, I think maybe I could’ve crammed my squares in tighter. Ah, well. I’m just giving you guys options. I’m nothing if not fond of keeping my options open.

Anyways, so then you wait another 30 to 45 minutes for the dough-squares to rise in the pan(s), maybe go for a run or do some laundry, before baking. Which is another 35 minutes or so. Again, totally worth it. Because the end result goes a little something like…this!

70-year-old bad-ass grannies deserve beautiful baskets lined with brand-new kitchen towels and filled with home-made sweet bread, fancy butter, expensive honey, and gourmet chocolates, from their grandchildren. They deserve a day’s worth of baking. They deserve to be surrounded by four generations and to drink wine and laugh and eat as much cheese as they like.

They deserve to have their cake and eat it, too.

Or at least mine does. And don’t go thinking that we got her a store-bought cake with that crappy plastic frosting, because we special ordered it with WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING, which is amazing. And yes, she deserved it.

Happy birthday, Granny.