the prologue

I'm writing a story.

(I giggle whenever I say that...I'm writing a story...it sounds so goofy, like I'm a writer or something...hee!)

The problem with this story writing thing is it gets away from me. I worry about everything - did I put too much detail? Not enough detail? Did I phrase this right? Did I phrase that wrong? What if it's stupid? What if nobody likes it? Is it too self-indulgent? What if it sucks? Oh, my gawd, it does suck.

I get so caught up in the detail of it that I get overwhelmed and...stop.

The problem, though, is that even though I'm not a writer, I have a story, and when I'm not writing it it's still there and I don't want it there all the time. Like that Anna Nalick song -

If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to...

And so I write it. Except when I stop. Which is where I am now. Stopped.

I've shared this piece of it before, in a more private place, but now I think I should share it here, where maybe somebody new (and the treasured not-so-new) can see it. So, here is the prologue of the story I'm writing.

(see? hee!)

When I was a young child, I had the faith of a young child. I never doubted my mother or my father and I accepted the way things were. I thought we were normal, that every family was exactly like mine.

When I was five and in Kindergarten, my teacher, a short, round woman with dark hair and glasses, questioned my black eye and the deep scratches on my forehead.

“My mom was mad at me,” I remember replying matter-of-factly.

“Why was she mad at you, honey?”

“She didn’t want me to eat dinner.”

“Did she hit you?”

“No, her friend hit me. He used the needle she puts in her arm sometimes, too. I thought he’d poke my eye, but he didn’t.”

I remember the way Mrs. Carson’s eyes widened as she gasped. For the life of me I couldn’t understand her reaction to what I’d said or why I had to sit in the principal’s office while the rest of my class colored with square crayons. The last place I wanted to be was sitting in front of that large desk, where pictures of smiling children and proud parents sat in shiny frames.

I didn’t go home after school that day. A woman carrying a bag decorated with brightly colored flowers and butterflies took me in her red car to a house sitting high on a hill and left me there with people I didn’t know.

It was the first inkling I had that something wasn’t quite right about my family.

After a few weeks passed I returned home and to Mrs. Carson’s Kindergarten class. Even though I never answered another question about my mother, the lady with the flower and butterfly bag came back for me again. And again…and still again, until the very sight of her car in front of the school caused panic attacks, even if she wasn’t there for me.

When I was six and in the first grade, my teacher was a tall bald man who never questioned my bruises until one day right before Christmas. On that day, I walked into school and tried not to notice his jaw as it dropped or his eyes as they enlarged. I’d expected his reaction…it was the same reaction I’d seen from everybody on the train on my way to school. He pulled me into the cloak hall and knelt on the floor in front of me.

“Lemony, sweetheart, what happened to your face?”

“I fell,” I replied.

“Are you lying?”

I knew he knew I was. “Yes.”

“What happened to your face?”

“I fell,” I said again, not able to tell him the truth, fearing a ride in a red car to a house high on a hill. “I fell, I fell, I fell!”

My teacher held my hand as he walked with me to the principal’s office and promised me everything would be okay. It was a promise I knew he couldn’t keep, but that did nothing to soothe my anger the next time I had to go to the principal’s office.

When the police raided our apartment at an inopportune moment for my mother, her screams of fury scared me so badly I hid in my closet. Nobody knew I was in the apartment, let alone hiding in a closet, and soon the apartment was quiet again. I was alone.

I remember thinking I should cry, or yell, or try to find somebody to help me but I did none of those things. My desire to stay hidden was stronger than my desire seek help. I found a string of glass beads and rolled them between my thumb and forefinger, methodical in my attention to each bead. Five strokes, skip a bead, five strokes, skip a bead.

When light started to glow at the crack under the door, I crept out of the closet and walked straight into the chest of a police officer.

“Your mom finally told us you were here,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“Do I have to go back to the house on the hill?”

“You can’t stay here, honey.”

“Will I be able to stay with my mom?”

“Your mom won’t be able to come home for a while.”

In that moment I knew my family wasn’t like other families. We were not normal, and I suddenly understood something clearly…there was nobody but me. My mother was crazy; my father was absent. There was only me.

My mother spent two years in prison on drug possession, drug dealing, and prostitution charges. I spent the rest of my childhood searching in vain for a place to call home. I moved from foster home to obscure relative’s home back to foster home.
Nobody was quite sure what to do with me.

“…she unnerves me…” A woman overwhelmed by my refusal to cry.

“…she smirks all the time…” The woman’s husband, annoyed by my refusal to smile.

“…you’re a bastard and you’ll breed bastards just like your mother…” My grandmother.

I wore hand-me-down clothes and secondhand sneakers. I lived in homes so permissive I feared getting lost and in homes so disciplined I simply lived in fear. In the permissive homes I never knew what was expected of me. In the disciplined homes I never knew what was expected at all. The only thing that was the same no matter where I happened to be was my sense of being alone.

By the time I graduated high school I’d weathered a life that can only be described as a thunderstorm…loud, scary, and hard to predict with any kind of accuracy. Over the years I’d developed a set of simple rules to live by, the most important one being the one I’d learned when I was still only six years old – trust nobody.

When I took an internship during my one and only semester of college, the only things I expected to walk away with were job experience and the hope of future employment.

What I ended up walking away with instead was the rest of my life.


and now the end is near

Of school that is.

Today is the last day of school in Quiet Village. Lemony Teen took her last final. Lemony Brother has tormented his last elementary school teacher...the big leap to "Upper Elementary" school is upon us. Upper Elementary. Yeah. It's weird. Remember where I live.

Summer vacation. Eight uninterrupted weeks of fun.

Send positive thoughts.

And much tequila.


worthy challenge

In my wandering on the Internet tonight, I came across a blog I haven't been to before. Yay new blogs!

Why am I wandering the Internet perusing blogs? Rabbits. You heard me. Rabbits. My blue flax and my ferns and my decorative grass and my Black-Eyed Susans are being destroyed by the bunny bastard living under my shed and so here I am, at midnight, perusing the Internet trying to find a way to dispose of this rabbit without upsetting the youngest Lemon. Seems she "loves the cute little bugger bunny baby, Mumma!" and was nothing less than horrified when Lemony Mutt left a crumpled, furry little corpse under her swings. Seeing me club the remaining "fuzzy butt" over the head in a fit of frustration with a garden spade might wound her sensibilities. Not to mention what it would do to the rabbit.

I don't want a dead rabbit. I just want a GONE rabbit. Anybody have any ideas? Because the Internet has been less than helpful, and that's how I ended up distracted by pretty pictures of flowers. Other people's flowers. You know, the ones without the ragged, rabbit-gnawed blooms, like the ones in the picture above.

Which brings me back to where I started.

Pride month is this month. Did I know this? Yes. How? I have my ways. Mwahaha!

(yeah, my life is just chock full of mwahaha! moments...not...)

Anyway, this guy (and if he reads this HI! NICE TO SEE YOU!) issued a challenge, and well, how can you say no when the person doing the asking is so damned nice about it? Doesn't hurt that it's something I believe in with every fiber of my being, too.

Gay, straight, whatever. As Americans we are all citizens of the same country and we are all worthy of respect. Okay, I can think of a few unworthy people, but I figure there's a frick to every frack so there they are. Frick and frack. And the other one. Ew.

(broccoli stew...for the rabbit, not you...oh, phew...)

Okay. So. In honor of Pride month, and my parents, and my fabulous friends, I'm posting this very cool picture here. And because it is very late and I am very tired, I'm plum outta words.

Except this: To those who would deny their fellow citizens the same rights they enjoy out of hate, bigotry and fear; to those who use religion as a weapon and the Bible as a shield; to those who use their positions of power to screw people and their offices as bully pulpits...

...yeah, I'm out of words. There are only so many times I can keep saying the same things. Rest assured that my lack of words does not translate to lack of action.

Now. About that rabbit...


smile! you're on candid meme!

She's wicked awesome and has a wicked smile (that's a good thing!) and she picked me! Wicked pissah!

One body part you’d like to change? My first thought was "Well, duh, Lemony, it's gotta be your elbow!" but then I remembered my ass is still back there, so now I'm all conflicted. My elbow is perfectly lovely, but it crackles like a bowl of Rice Krispies swimming in skim milk every time I bend it, and hey, it's an elbow. It bends a lot. It's annoying and just a wee bit painful, but my ass has recently applied for its own zip code, so you can see my dilemma.

Wait! I know!

You know how some women can birth three giant babies and still have perfectly flat little bellies with nary a stretch mark? I'm not one of them. I'll live with cereal elbows and my own zip code if the disaster zone that is my mid-section goes poof. I don't need zig-zags of purple to prove I have three kids. I have three kids to prove that.

Describe your ideal Saturday. Waking up alone, in a quiet house, and drinking a leisurely cup of coffee while reading the entire paper. The rest of the day is lost in a blur of adult conversation, a good book, a long walk with Lemony Mutt, yummy vegetarian wraps and iced coffee eaten in an actual cafe, Damien Rice CD's, and a long, hot, steamy bath in the bubbly tub.

And then, just when I start to think I could get used to such things, chaos returns to Lemony Villa and I remember that I love everything and everybody contributing to the craziness.

What have you got for leftovers in your fridge? Four cartons of Chinese food, including the fried shrimp Mr. Lemony insisted upon and ate none of, grilled chicken, Spanish rice, steel-milled oatmeal from breakfast this morning that nobody else will eat so I'm all set for breakfast tomorrow, too, and the last of the homemade mac 'n cheese I made two days ago.

You get to travel back in time for one day. How far back do you go and why? December 11, 1991, because I'm so afraid there are so many things I forgot to say, like thank you, i love you, safe journey...i love you...

If you had one hour with the President, what would you say to him? "Karma is real, and she's a bitch."

One body part you’d never change? - I am so not going with the zip-coded parts. I'll go with my eyes. Green goes good with freckles.

Your most favorite thing about motherhood? Little hands that look like stars. Sleepy lips. Arms wrapped around my legs in the grocery store. Popcorn and ice cream dinners. Expectant, glittering eyes. The quiet that settles when they're not home. The cacophony they bring with them when they return. Freckles. Scabby knees. Pigtails. Gapped tooth smiles. Temper tantrums...

Oh, wait, I got carried away there, didn't I?

Ultra-violet rays or tan-in-a-bottle? I am a member of the Cult of Jergens, baby.

You have an unlimited expense account; what three things do you purchase first? College and grad school educations for the Lemonettes. A house for my mother. A quaint, dormered, Cape Cod-style house big enough to host a commune on, yes, Cape Cod. Oceanfront, of course.

Your least favorite thing about motherhood? Vomit.

It’s 10:00 p.m., do you know where your children are? The youngest is sleeping, the middle is, too, and the oldest is either starting her bedtime ritual or at a football game/gymnastics practice/movie/date/sleepover. So far so good with keeping track of the teen. I fully expect that to change in the next year or so.

Yes, I'm having a stroke. Right now, even.

Soul sistah, Happy Bluebird, and Ravin' babe, I pick you! And yes, that's wicked pissah.


Am resplendent in the refulgence of the sparkly tiara.

She? Is a shining star girl.

She is far brighter and more beautiful than I.

My life would mean little without her because she is my soul's relative and I adore her.

I hope she knows.


don't you hate that?

You know, when you wash your favorite pair of khaki-type cargo-ish cropped-leg pants, you know the ones, they're your favorite pants because they make you feel not-so-fat, and you pull them out of the dryer, put them on, and top them with your very favorite black v-neck tee-shirt and some cute jewelry, maybe an anklet or something that looks great with those rad, black, flatter than flat leather thong sandals you found at Old Navy, and you go through all this trouble to look presentable because you have to go out but before you go out you need a cup of your favorite iced coffee from the cafe down the street because only they have the butterscotch sundae flavor you like so much so you stop and get a large and head back to your car where you make use of the handy-dandy cup holder in the Happy Bus you drive so you don't have to hold the cup while you're steering, and you're feeling really cute because your hair obeyed you and your make-up isn't smudged yet so you turn up the volume of the stereo as you're turning onto Main Street because you're in such a good mood...and when you turn the giant cup of coffee that's too big for the handy-dandy cup holder tips over and spills 32 ounces of Butterscotch Sundae, regular, no sugar onto your lap and soaks through your pants so they have a stain the size of Idaho on your right leg and ass cheek?


I hate that, too.