I removed the yellow nail polish my blunt friend said looked like toe fungus this morning in a dimly lit room (my preteen daughter hovering nearby on her phone) not knowing the sick butter shade had stained the flesh above and below until some hours later when my daughter and I went shopping for a book for her language arts class at an outside galleria where I had taken her as a baby to play in the sprinklers surrounding the marble gazebo - her laugh, her brazen, carefree laugh- I'll never forget it - but today she's a leggy box of subdued dynamite, a reflection of my lessons and failures, and I walked ahead knowing the dread she must feel at being seen with her mother, and the September sun (stubbornly hanging on for football season) spotlighted the rotten lemon tone of skin I thought I had wiped away and I wondered if I had removed it too late or if I should even have bothered.

They Grow Up So Fast

A piece of my son's toenail stuck up like a sword (his words) I successfully pass the mom test of eradicating a pesky part of him he wants no more

And tomorrow when the sun rises over gold strands of his hair (darkening every year) I'll rustle the feather whisps of his remaining childhood between my fingers and wish I could clip off his ninth year and make it last forever

Sleep-Deprived Dribble Mind

I haven't posted in over a month now and there's a reason - I have nothing interesting to say. I know what you're thinking, "But Erin, that's never stopped you before." True. But I seem to have recently lost the conceit to even think that I do.

Here are some things going on, in a nutshell:

  • I haven't slept for more than four hours in three nights.
  • I have a headache. 
  • I am dreading Doug waking up because I'll have to interact with him, and all I want to do is bury my head in the sand until my head stops hurting or I fall asleep.
  • I am not a nice person when I am sleep-deprived.
  • I am currently working on my Photoshop skillz, which isn't so hard, and my After Effects skillz, which is really fucking hard.
  • The company that I am working for extended my contract for another year. I am really happy about this because I like working there a lot- however, I can't tell anyone what the company is because it is located right next to my stalker's house. Thankfully, I haven't heard from her in awhile, but I don't want to stir the embers. 
  • Doug has managed to wiggle his way out of body painting for the last couple of weekends. I bought this flavored body paint on Groupon with the soul purpose of going Picasso on his ass, and he somehow finds a way to deter my efforts. 
  • Sketch is still really fat.
  • My kids come home from Turkey tomorrow. It's been a long month. I've missed them terribly. We're leaving for Jackson tomorrow, and I will be staying at my Dad's the whole time because my mother is in England. 
  • I will probably be asked to fix something on my Dad's laptop.
  • Doug has had more success with job interviews. Fingers crossed. 
  • Oh, I am officially divorced. 
  • I can't seem to finish a book. I mean, reading a book. Don't even ask about writing. 
  • But I have been going to the movies more often. Maybe I have been around Doug too long, but everything is awful.
  • Doug and I are using Green Apron and every day it's a heated debate over whose turn it is to cook. Only half of the recipes are even enjoyable. 
  • I have actually started paying for software. 
  • I wear make-up more.
  • Ugh, my head. 
See? Most boring post ever, right? This is why I haven't been posting. Somebody ship me some Ambien. 

Memorial Day

Charlotte shit in the bathtub again.

You probably didn't see it
Before you went out for coffee,

But in case you did -

I just wanted you to know
That I saw it and picked it up
And flushed it down the toilet
And everything's okay.

It's safe to return home.

-Erin Passons, 5-25-2015

Storm Chaser (for Doug)

For Doug

Tell me a secret. Tell me something you've never told anyone.

You lie and say you've told me everything.

Abridged thirty-seven years inside two bookends holding twenty-four months together.

Do you expect me to believe this?  You, great lover, expert back scratcher, intense warrior,
Receiver of the universe's kindness and the internal dweller of monsters so violent at night they steal your very breath?

You of physical weariness both phantom and real and tears big and wet and spilling oceans at a time?

(In the shadow of your neck, I think, I've never seen a man cry like that)

You ask your god for a distraction and he listens.
The earth growls, flashes a signal.

You turn away from me and stand, walk to the window, pull back the blinds, and reveal vast miles of shattered, broken sky.

We love these storms, you and I.
Its rage immobilizes our stillness.
We make love to them, fly high with them,
Wrangle their fury inside our fingertips,
Press flesh against heated flesh, turn water into fire,
Treat the earth's self-infliction like a balm to our unhealing.

Then we hang over the balcony and cross our fingers, asking for more.

There's a storm brewing inside the closed circle you keep closed and circled and you place your hands together and ask for it to end but sometimes I wonder.

When the phone rings you view its screen wearily.
The news is always different but the same,
And you choose to believe one day it will be different in a different way but it never is.  

I don't understand and you know it.

You harden at the tongue of my logic and leave for another room to the outstretched arms of a distraction that is slowly killing you from within.

It's bad when I ask for your secrets. It's even worse when you confide in me and I dismiss you at the first signs the levee is failing because the bad news from other people who aren't you isn't what I want to hear.

I want to hear more about you, not about the squeaky wheels in your life that you refuse changing.

I wonder aloud (my words slapping cuffs on the silence you prescribe yourself for carefully constructed avoidance),
Hey baby,

Why are you relying on the wind from another sea to direct your sail?
What happened to your November suspicion?
Why don't you demand more answers?
What jealous angel clipped your wings, told you eagles were meant to climb trees?
Who advised you that sacrifice was the only way to live?

You tell me it's nothing, shut up about it,
But in a nice way, in a way I can forgive later.

This is its own storm too.

(In the valley of your chest I think two things:
It's hard to love a man who loves the unlovable,
It's hard to love a man who is loved by everyone but himself.)

You've said I have a callous heart but that's not true.
We simply love in different ways.

I learned love from my mother.
Nurturing others means teaching them to nurture themselves.

You were not broken when I found you. Merely chipped.
Trust me, you are salvageable. 
I could never love what I couldn't fix. 
I'm not a humanitarian. I'm into cats.

I am the sky that rips its skin, punctures its own membrane to drip the poison out from within.
I self-preservationalize. I rationalize: there's more room outside than in.

You are the ground, you are the soil collecting the toxic cries for help and absorbing them like its your place to hold the world together, and in holding the damage so long it becomes part of your landscape.

You are smarter, wiser, stronger than the rest of us. Perhaps you think it's up to you to carry the weak.

I wouldn't know. You never tell me the things that matter.

But, Love -

I have ten fingers and two hands and they are stretched out in your direction. I am not as strong as you and the universe has long dropped me from its gift list and maybe my heart could use a gym membership but if I can and if you'll let me, I'll soften the blows you're so hellbent on taking for others.

Turn my direction. The storm is ending.

Or is it too late? Have you internalized that collapsing circle?
Does it wear the shape of your heart?
Is it corroding and do you believe that's the price you pay for chasing storms, for standing by the window safe inside your secrets, nurturing the war with wet eyes and fresh scars until love drowns you in its cannibal clouds?  

- Erin Passons, 5-25-2015

Orange Juice

There goes a man carrying a two-gallon bottle of bright orange non-orange-juice orange juice, the kind that imitates two-gallon milk bottles but with no name, trademark, or commercial to say it’s there, it’s available, it’s a dollar fifteen.

No. It’s just there and you see it and you expect it but you never buy it unless you’re poor.

And there he goes past my car carrying this thing which must be heavy in his chapped painter hands and weary eyes with claw marks and yellow sand looking up at the rare rain of an Austin May day afternoon almost evening and its greyness, and a lynch mob of a cloud delivering on its promise.

And later he’ll say what a mess in Spanish to his wife, and the kids will drink their sugar sacrament and sleep off their malnourishment and later Daddy will stay up counting his change and counting the days until better days.

And later I’ll creep up beside the cardboard cutouts I delivered through a tunnel mass of love and tissue and the desire to save the unsalvageable and they’ll say (not looking up) they’re not hungry or they’re not hungry for anything I have or anything I’ve given.

And isn’t that always the case? Isn’t hunger a perpetual state? We’re all just immigrants in this place living from reality check to reality check, waiting for the rainmaker and the rain and the love we lost and the love we made and the better days when less was more than plenty and plenty was never far away.

King Kaya (New Poem)

Rainbow-loom maker, dollar bill taker,
Mass producer of pastry crumbs,

Keep your arms at your side
When the dock workers salute.

Groove on past the corner where happy foot soldiers
Play cards en masse, and when the Colonel asks,
Show him your library card and your twenty-three
Pairs of tangled shoe laces.

And when the Third Reich approves of
Your genetic mutations,
Tell them nevermind.
You won't sing their campfire songs.

Then move along.

Draw a line in the sand.
Draw a path to a star.
Shine so bright the sun spits jealousy rays so insane
Clouds ripple with waves of crimson rage.

Be the reason old women turn to each other on that day and ask,
"Did you see that?"

Once you've dug deep and found that
Your strength runs deeper
Than you could ever imagine,
Use it to build the strength in others.
Remember: might is nothing without right.
Think of the endless, headless ghosts
Haunting London's tower who share your eye color.

Think of your father's people, too,
Who also know a thing or two about slaughter —
Just ask an Armenian cab driver.

What I'm saying is, son—
Be powerful, but not in a harmful way.

Because you are powerful. Yes, you are.
You are wonderful and brave.

Doesn't matter you have yet to meet
A chore you couldn't delay,
And you haven't found the one thing
That makes your heart race, the one thing
You wish could do
And nothing else forever and ever,
And if you could,
You would change the spelling of the one thing
With the letters of your name and repeat the name
Over and over until someone (probably your sister)
Threatens your life unless you stop saying it.

Nevermind sometimes it seems you're just doodling along,
Doodling in class, doodling during the movie,
Doodling in the air when your eyes are asleep,
Doodling with your eyes when your hands are empty.

Those doodles are simply signs of things to come,
And signs are what help us find our way.

What I'm saying is, son —
You can do anything.

Think of your sister,
Of whom you adore, adored by all,
A girl who sheds tears for dogs of deserters
And collects friends like human flowers.
Our little flower. A nine-times-out-of-ten angel.
Except when, in a snap, she reshapes
Into a flower-shaped dagger.
Laughter into stabbing motions,
She calls her farts silent killers,
Sinks sailors with her siren tongue,
Sucks lingering regret from her fingertips, grins and
Admits, "I'm saving one for later," and
Points to the bones by her ballet flats.

Don't let her flatten you.
Don't let anyone flatten you.
Be better than that.
You're not the cause of someone's bad day.
You're not the remedy either.

And when your sister reemerges back into
Her flower-shape, loved by all,
Adored by all, Princess of Song,
Don't let her shiny nickel kindness
Make you feel like a million bucks.
Don't let it make you feel like a penny either.

What I'm saying is, son —
You come from a long line of kings,
And you are the King of your own self-worth,
And you are worth everything.

…and when I say that you come from a long line of kings,
I don't mean the Plantagenet leaves on our family tree,

But the King you call grandfather,
The one in Mississippi,
Who arranges weekly meetings
To welcome the Rainbow Men into his congregation,
Men who some men in his generation
Would never welcome,
The King who rubs his wife's feet in front of the TV
And wonders what in the world he'd do without her,
Who calls his daughters three times
For every one time they call back,
If for no other reason than to repeat
The same three words his girls
Have heard since the King first wept
Beside ribbons sewn in pink.

…and when I say you come from a long line of kings,
I don't mean the Hun warriors
Who pillaged and plundered,

Conquered and enslaved,
The great lords of horses and blood and war
Who craved victory above all things.

But the King you call grandfather,
The one in Izmir, a king
Whose mere presence claims victory
Over the storms raging
In the hearts of everyone around him.
The King who needs very little
And asks for even less,
Who spends his afternoons
With watercolors of sailboats and wisteria gardens.
The King who hums so prettily
Painting the shape of water
That wild felines curl their bones
Against the brick of his balcony
And forget their thirst,
And morning is a chance to be born again.

What I'm saying is, son —
Nobility is not inherited.
It lives inside a person's character,
And I want everything for you.

I want you to be King.

So you're the second child,
So you're the youngest child,
So you lose your mother at sleep,
So you lose your father regularly to a monitor screen,
So your shoes were untied the day they handed out sunscreen,
So you were misfitted in other people's hand-me-down expectations from day one,
And since that day, you've tried to keep up, and it never feels like enough,
So you've been given everything but what you want the most,

So you're a messy child, an unruly child, a natural disaster —

My love, you are my disaster,
And you are the most beautiful disaster I've ever known.
And every time I ask about your day, I'm really asking for your forgiveness.

Don't let life's peasant days and common ways steal away your crown.

What I'm saying is, son —
You are everything.

-Erin Passons, 5-13-2015

See Erin on the TV SET @ 5:00 Saturday, April 11th - Channel 6 "The Job Lady"

My friends, a few things:
  • I'll be appearing on the Austin Channel 6 show "The Job Lady" at 5:00 on Saturday, April 11th. Get your VCRs ready!
  • Because I'll be on the TV, I've been cleansing for the last seven days. Not only am I non-whale size anymore, but my skin is freakin' excellent. (See picture above!) Yes, I know it's narcissistic to post a photo but it's my blog IcandowhatIwant. Anyway I feel great. I totally recommend this cleanse - it's amazing how much energy I have. 
  • Email or post a comment with your favorite WWII book that is based in Russia or the Ukraine. Or tell me your favorite Ukrainian or Russian author. I'm struggling with my next book.  
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