13 December 2012

five things in the past five minutes...

1. i thought to myself, chin heavy in hand, "huh. i could paint that." (dumb.)

2. i thought to myself with much more optimism, "maybe this would be easier." (still dumb.)

3. i have been searching for art for our bedroom. this is so hyper-aggro that i think it would make me laugh every time i saw it. plus, mother trucker was pat's first public swear when he was eight or so. he has better ones now. (this is a fantastic idea.)

4. tacked this to my gimme bar, but only because i have and i don't need to anymore. for a while, at least. (phrew.)

5. thought about how everyone always says that the girls get their writing talent from me. and then re-read what pat wrote for lillie's how not to be a teen mom project. in part...

lillie: what was the scariest part about being a new parent?

pat: i didn't find any part of it scary. i was 28 years old when we had you, we had a nice home and good jobs, and had already been married for seven years. we thought we were ready for a you.

lillie: was your sleep affected?

pat: i usually did the the last and first feeding, and mommy would take care of you throughout the night. i didn't really feel like my sleep was affected, but i am used to having a chaotic schedule. 

lillie: what was the most difficult? 

pat: the most difficult thing was not always knowing what you needed or wanted and just trying to stop the crying and make you happy again. that is still the most challenging thing...

lillie: would it have been harder if you had been a single parent with an infant? 

pat: i could not imagine raising you as a single parent. it was difficult enough between the two of us. 

lillie: what makes it all worth it in the long run? 

pat: to see you now as a bright, happy, confident young woman. 

lillie: what are your best memories of me at an infant age? 

pat: when you first came out and pooped on your mom, and any and every time i see you smile and happy. you were a good baby, lillie. you're going to be a great woman.

i guess i like his economy of words. i like how he states things with a quiet confidence. makes anything he says feel like a fact. 

i also like how he knows that it's important to be affectionate with them no matter how old they get. he makes sure their hugs are not more than a day apart and he can still carry them up to bed. no matter how much it hurts, he pretends it does not. because anything else would hurt way more.

02 December 2012


so i heard this song and couldn't help the ache in my gut that this was a song written for me. or perhaps for those i love so hard that i already miss them. you know that feeling, yes? i know you probably do.

i was explaining to my fierce grae-rose why it means too much to me. it means esmé to me, actually. which is too much to me. here's how i explained it to grae.

she is borrowed. my sister was not supposed to meet lillie kate. my dad hadn't met her, and i expected nothing less from lin. it was flattening, for sure. but jesus. she stuck around. and she stuck around for grae. and beyond all beyonds, she stuck around for esmé, too. and two weeks after esmé came - poof - she was stolen from all of us.

make no mistake: it was the very thought of esmé that kept her here longer. she knew that our dad hadn't met any of my babies, and it was like she had to be able to describe them to him the next time she saw him. for that, i'm forever grateful. the air leaves me every time i think of her heavenly baggage, but i thank her every time i gasp.

and i've forgiven that theft. i have. it shocks me still, but i've forgiven the loss.

yet esmé remains a shaking of my head enigma. she is the best of me with the heart of my sister and an inbred history that surprise me at every turn. how the hell does she know lin loved sweet and salty treats? icy water? kindness when it's way easier to be mean? pink grapefruit. red velvet. your smile. whatever you've chosen to wear today. whatever you choose to wear tomorrow.

man, lin. she loved it all. such a fucking loss. i mean it. the more time that passes, i feel like a crime was committed. i'd like to file a missing persons report. because, god damn it, i miss her.

how did esmé get here, i wonder. how did i win that lottery? how the heck did someone know i needed her like air? it was a favor, for sure. and i don't know who to pay back. seven years later and i'm still waiting for someone to tell me okay...she got you through the tough part...you're on your own again, karey. you can handle it. best of luck to you.

i digress. back to the song. and back to my borrowed esmé. i explained it all to grae and she cried. and for a second i felt bad about how their lives have made them feel so emotional and temporary. and then i was grateful. because life should be something over which we weep. it should cause panic over ohmygod is it over already?! it's an insane gift, isn't it? glad they're learning this earlier than some. earlier than i did, for sure.

i think we're all borrowed for a second or two. snatched back at any minute. and we should all be treated as such, yes?


22 November 2012

the facebook

so lillie and grae finally jumped into the facebook. i, of course, am anti...as i seem to be with a few deep pools of disconnected connectivity. what can i tell you? i am a selective drowner.

the minute they created their accounts - grae talking lillie out of using thumbs-up symbols instead of the ells in her name and lillie convincing grae away from selecting a user name of kathy or carol or dave - i felt a pang. this is how it ends, i thought. how pedestrian.

turns out, the initial sign-up wasn't even the most heartbreaking moment. nope. the part that sliced me open head to heart was when lillie's chair dance stalled for a second and her chandelier smile flickered.

mom? with her forever lashes butterflying me from across the room. where's my hometown?

i wish i could explain how lost she looked in that moment. no...i wish i could forget how lost she looked in than moment.

you know. it's funny. we've given them texas and oman and the emirates and jordan and london and thailand and jakarta and even virginia a few times plus a million little stops here and there to catch our breath in hungry gasps. we've made them feel at home even in the emptiest places and given them like-a-baby sleeps on the scratchiest sheets, building gingerbread houses in a hundred and ten degrees and hanging disco balls to make it all a party. we thought we'd given them the world.

but somewhere along the way, we forgot all about giving them a hometown. 

i think people need those, don't you? if for no other reason than to leave it in a scene, slam the door, and announce you'd rather die than ever come back. only to return, too many years later, and feel your beginning all over again.

coming home, you know...it's a big part of our fairy tales and happily ever afters. and i can't help but feel like we've ripped those pages right out of their books.

(in case you're wondering. grae chose - without an inch of thought - chicago as her hometown, even though she has never lived there in her entire life. because...michael jordan. also? she went ahead and selected harvard as the place where she studied. so she doesn't need to be bothered updating later.)

09 November 2012

three words...

i and miss and pat.

i didn't so much this week - is that bad to admit? - because we were busy and i never really see him during the week. but it's friday and right about now he would be walking through the door and oh those chocolate browns and i am having a fail of a day and all i need is that boy who won't be back til next week.

instead, right now, there are a lot of neighborhood girls upstairs. pretty much all of them. i think they are walking around in my heels. and screaming. possibly crushing doritos into the marble floor. plus screaming. did i mention the screaming? oh, i see i did. nonetheless. happy girls, all. 

it is no match for those chocolate browns, but i will take it.

(also, i just downloaded the entire season so far of real housewives of miami. trash helps.)

08 November 2012

down to earth

whenever anyone pre-introduces me to someone i'm sure to like, they seem to always use some form of the phrase "you're going to love her. she's so down to earth."

and when this happens, i seem to always make a grimace.

down to earth. in my head, those words make it sound like you've no more drowning in the clouds dreams. you've no more ideas that bump into the moon in the middle of the night. there'll be no more reapplying lipstick in the reflection of a star. no more tripping over fireworks in july. no more dipping your quill in the inked sky and writing a new world for yourself.

i hope the thought of me never evokes those words. down to earth. because that might be worse than the time someone suggested i shop at a tranny store for cute man-sized heels.

05 November 2012

oh, esmé

that little thing. 

she begged for a clip to hold her hair back, and i kind of assumed her request was really a result of a few months of rugged aussies calling her a boy at school. nope. she just wanted to be able to see her paper better when she wrote. 

her confidence is like lillie's, which means the problems belong to you. not her. this philosophy gets dicey around fourteen and, i imagine, forty. but right now - when she's feeling beautiful despite what other small people may say - i'll take it.

yesterday, i got a little note from my friend in hong kong. it read: stella told me while she was doing homework, "mom, i wish esmé was in my class." why? i asked. "because esmé taught me that there's a u at the end of you. i wish esmé could help me now."

it's wonderful when you teach someone else something wonderful. it's even better when they remember it forever.

i've got to do that more often...

p.s. i forwarded that mail to pat, who is traveling, because i always try to make him cry. (it's a life goal of mine, made easier when he's airplane tired or just being the sappy italian he is.) he replied, "i wish someone had told me there was no v in of." drat. i should've saved it til he was on his second thirteen-hour leg.


in no particular order.

i wore an ancient david meister dress (this one, in fact) to the marine ball this weekend. upon our arrival, i realized that jakarta is a leetle more buttoned up bridesmaid dress than anywhere we've been in the middle east. translated, this means i showed a touch more boobie than i probably should've. 

pat claims that this is an impossibility.

and then someone told me they might be moving to someplace-in-india. to which i blurted out, "ugh!" straight before i even thought about what i was blurting out. the general rule in these parts is to smile and gasp when someone tells you where they may be posted next, and tell a story about someone you know who lived there and loved it. for some stupid reason, all i could come up with was, "i had a friend who lived there!" and then i think i said something about toilet paper and bodily functions of train riders.

it was just...painful. i am better at this than that.

and when this newish acquaintance (who i adore) caught sight of pat's colleague's wife standing next to me, she innocently asked, "oh! is this your daughter?"

later, i said to pat, "i mean! she's brazilian! how could she be my daughter?"

he thinks i missed the point.

oh, i hope you were fools this weekend, too.

28 October 2012

oh, man...

there's too much to tell you. i can't even begin. but let me try.

i've unpacked nearly eight thousand pounds of pretty and silliness we got delivered on a monday, and by a thursday somehow it all made perfect sense. the girlies three now describe our home as christmas, and i find them cozied up in a different spot every night. which is a gift to me, really. their happiness and contentedness.

for the record, there were eight italian plates and one flour canister and a few huge glass frames broken, but my disco ball arrived intact. so we're good.

at a dinner party the other night, someone complimented the placement of our dining room or the pictures on our wall or the embroidered floor pillows here and there, and pat's dark eyes sparked and that chandelier smile lillie kate inherited from him showed itself. she kills it turning our houses into homes, he said. and i thought to myself - as i moonwalked out of the room and out of the compliment - that here! here's a tangible skill! and phrew. 

i no longer panic about water and tsunamis and other nonsense. i panic about traffic. because if the girlies three are there and i am here, there is no way in hell i can get to them if there is traffic. which, in jakarta, is a given. there has always been and will always be traffic. i can't buy my way to them, i can't beg my way to them, i can't force my way to them no matter how hard i could ever try...and that. kills. me.

there are monkeys here dressed as baby dolls in jumpsuits and oakleys. as confusing as this may be to comprehend, it is just as difficult to unsee. same with people with missing parts - integral parts - who weave their way through the streets, asking for a few rupiah. i never carry cash, but i always yell at pat from the backseat to give them something! as if to order him to fix them! and he asks what do you want me to give them? in the same tone as kar, this is their life. there is nothing a few rupiah will do for them. 

as if i didn't know this already. but you just can't pass them by, can you?

it would be impossible to live here if you had a heart that breaks easily. so, you know...it's kind of impossible to live here. places like this - oh, man - they're the paper and the words and all those poems with the tragic endings.

the girlies three are growing up. and as difficult as this may be to comprehend, it is just as difficult to experience. i try to sit with them as often as i can, which keeps me away from this little space, but i know you understand. my choice is easy. and as long as they love telling me everything, i will soak up everything. i would drown in it if i could, and you know how hate getting my face wet.

okay, you. i have to go. there are three laptops blaring sia and ne-yo and eminem and dre (because lillie lives here) and i am chair dancing (because after a certain age, stop it) with you while pat creeps out grae with his best village people moves (see previous parenthetical). esmé and lillie are so in, though. it is nearly impossible to creep them out, which is why they are thriving here.

i kid. (i'm not.)

i'll catch you later. xoxo.

p.s. if you would like to hang with me daily, i'm on instagram. mackinink. most of my pictures are of esmé and monkeys and sometimes you can't even tell the difference. but still. we should follow each other and not lose touch.

26 August 2012

on monkeys...

if you give a girl jakarta, she will want a monkey. and she will beg her mommy for one until said mommy agrees - after a thousand disagrees - and even throws in a sugar glider for good measure. one for all my friends! on me, in fact! plus one yellow canary who sings the girlies three awake and asleep, daily and nightly.

these are the deals the mackin parents make when they haul their children overseas to that one area of the world that prompts grae-rose to furrow her brow after a day or two, look at me quizzically, and note with a ventriloquist's mouth, "huh. there are a lot of asians here."


but the wonderful peccadillo about jakarta is the taxi system, you know. like time, it heals all wounds and, as a bonus, kills all dreams and promises.

when we ride, we ride sans belts with noses steam-pressed up against the windows, seeing everything we can catch. it's hyper clear that the more we see of jakarta, the more we realize there's so much more to miss.

tuesday, we saw a monkey. he was on a leash and the man who held him had no legs. the monkey stood on his hind ones almost apologetically, in kind of a crouch like they weren't even that great and workable even though his handler and everyone else knows that legs are legs and even monkey ones are worth two in the bush, whatever that means, and so we smiled ruefully as we took it all in on our privileged taxi drive-by.

it was like that scene in the town, kind of, when the van full of robbers in nun masks drives slow-mo by the aghast kid....but this scene was all mucked up with our face masks gleeful for a half-second...until we realized that the monkey was wearing a fedora and a man-mask.

if you've never seen a two foot tall hairy monkey-man in passing, consider yourself fortunate.

we no longer want a monkey. we would also like our nightmares back, thank you very much, jakarta.

here and here.

19 August 2012

strong, man...

uncle sugar does this thing with esmé. kind of a launch off in the pool, any pool, where he holds her above his head and flips her. flips her, for real. {and if you know this reference, i will love you forever.}

it's the same thing he did with the girlies two in oman before our esmé was even invented, which is probably why those two stare wistfully in the waters while it's happening.

and grae mumbles sometimes, "why doesn't he do that with us, anymore?"

my answer bubble is full of the wrong words. excuses, really, when it comes right down to it. you're too big you're too old you're too embarrassed oh hell's bells you're too big and it is gutting us.

tonight they introduced a french boy to me and pat, and my boy spoke french to that boy. he said something like je habitué dans grenoble at the very same time he sent a message in another language only spoken between boys and girls' fathers. something like, "do. not. ever."

the french boy later texted the girls, "your parent is cool."

just after the pool and sometime before he met this french boy, pat went to the club gym here and worked on his arms. i think he thinks he needs to be stronger for those growing girls of his.

anyway. i just wanted to write down one of the reasons why he is such a good man.

here and buy that awesome pillow cover right here.

10 August 2012

speaking of coughs...

there's been no shortage of non-magical moments in jakarta.

like, you know how esmé is perfect? not so when she's hungry or mad tired. this happens a lot here, especially after a full day of school, hours of play and swim afterwards, and oh yes an entirely different life. and i only recognize this much much too late when i catch her glaring at me with folded arms, origami-ed in an incorrect twist, but almost. and then the hissper.

this was the worst day. ever. why did i get stuck in this family? tell me. because it's the worst family. ever. and this place. it's the worst place. ever.

ugh. can somebody get this monkey a banana?

the first week here, we had to take a lot of taxis, the girlies three and me. it was...unsafe. no language, no seat belts, esmé on my lap like it was the late seventies.

after one epic fail of an afternoon of back-to-school shopping in malls overflowing with Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin, we hailed a cab home. bagless. scrunched up in the back. preparing ourselves as best we could for the probably hour long drive through traffic to our house one mile away.

at one point, i coughed. loudly and twice. and then repeated that loveliness again.

the look grae gave me made me cough again. WHY? would you HACK? on ME? she hisspered.

for the record? she knows me. she has known me her entire life. she knows i have never once not ever hacked on anything or anyone. it has never in the history of happenings happened.

through gritted teeth, i hisspered back. i am trying to wake up the cabbie.

dead asleep.

things here aren't perfect. they're just kind of perfect to me.

all images found here.

07 August 2012

there's a place...

so there's a place in jakarta where you can buy cotton candy colored chicks. but that's not surprising at all to me. because there's a place for everything here. 

there's a place to crack your iphone, a place to get the best mexican food you've ever eaten in your life even though you've lived in texas and even once traveled to mexico, a place within stumbling distance to get a before-bedtime massage, and a place where a seamstress sits in wait of torn catalog pages, the styles on which she is ready to unabashedly copy at a twentieth of the honest cost if you're ready to be a little dishonest. (as of this writing, i am not ready. i've heard you need to be in-country for at least two weeks to be this sort of ready.)

there's a place to get a 7-eleven slurpee, and a place that holds a forever 21 and every other store and brand you never thought you'd see in person or again. there's a place to see a movie with subtitles that you don't even see, really, the popcorn smell lulling you into thinking you're home until you walk out into the lobby and wonder why there are so many indonesians in virginia. there are many taxis to catch, a sea of smiling faces you'd swear were meant just for you, and so much dirt coating the bottoms of your feet and the lining of your throat when you come home at night that you believe it will be permanent. and you don't mind. not even one bit. 

choke-cough. choke-cough.

best of all, there seems to be a place for us.

pat asked me to write something here. i told him i am too full right now to do that, but he just shrugged his brows and passed a little silent judgement and so here i am.

you guys. this place. i feel like i was deflated for the past two or three years. uninspired and flat. and now? man...i'm full. and i don't know what that says about me. nothing good, i imagine. i do know i enjoy swimming against the current even though i never get my hair wet, i like being in the minority but only when i'm treated like a treasure. or an oddity. whatever. and i guess i like proving myself. i might even like being a little dishonest. i mean...in a few weeks. haute hippie, i am coming for you. 

kittens! totally kittens.

so. i'm here. i'm awake while you're sleeping - (i originally wrote the line i miss you while you're sleeping, but that sounded rather skeeve, yes? indeed.) - and that makes it a little difficult to keep in touch, but we'll figure it out. if anything major happens, like babies needing to be named or if you got a cute new pair of jeans or if you've taken a particularly fetching snap of yourself at carpool, please tell me? i would very much like to know.

xoxo. and yay. this is good.

07 June 2012

it's the middle of the afternoon...

esmé is still a new-enough reader that she often stops herself a few times every page and smiles at me with the clearest blue seas of happy and asks can you believe i can do this?

i can believe she can do anything. 

she reminds me it's good practice to marvel at yourself a few times every page. i mean, we're all probably doing something right now that would make someone else, somewhere else, catch their breath and think we just hung the moon. i'm sure of it.

sometimes she says things like man...i used to be so DUMB! i remember just laying in my crib thinking what am i? i don't know any words, i can't do anything...i'm just laying here! and then all i remember is walking around and talking and finally acting like a person! and it just gets better every day!

yes. we've all had those dummy days. who said tomorrow's money...it brings more sense? most likely, a rapper. anyway. it's truth. {also truth? esmé needs to be one of those cheesy motivational speakers. can you imagine? her tour could be called man...i used to be so DUMB! sold. out.}

last night she made me promise i'll stick around and help her grow up. because she thinks there's a lot more for her to know. she can just tell.

some days i think i'm severely under-qualified for this job. and then immediately after that, i think there's at least one person in the world who would look at whatever it is i'm doing right now in the middle of the afternoon and catch her breath and think i just hung the moon.

it's hitting me that i'm leaving my mom again. everyone, really. but, my mom...

ugh. can't put this one into words, i guess.

yep. that about covers it.
images from here and here.

23 May 2012

my words, elsewhere...

well, hell's bells. what is wrong with me these days? i seem to write anywhere-but-here! i think i need a redesign. of my life, maybe, but it'll be easier to begin with my blog, yes?

anyway. i wrote another little thing for the equals project. there's a lot of thoughtful writing over there. it's become a daily.

in other news, the girlies three and i got some painful shots in preparation for indo. for some reason, this has emboldened esmé in odd ways. i overheard her telling our neighbor that she wouldn't have to stay away from animals frothing at the mouth anymore. like that happens. and when grae was asking if an alert on telly was for a tornado, she seemed crazy relieved. 

not scared of tornados anymore! she crowed. i got the shot!

no. that was typhoid, honey.

lovely list here.

09 May 2012


most of the time lately, i seem to just spill my words all over this blog. they're written distractedly and without intention, and i honestly think more about how loud each letter sounds as i punch it out rather than the words i'm making and the sentences i'm building. my texts have more substance. 

i know that's not good for any of us, but i thought i couldn't find my way around it.

when i wrote something recently for someone else, i wrote it by hand. ink all over my fingers. pages of yellow ripped out and folded and rewritten in my crazy process of olden days. like, three years ago olden. 

and there's the difference, i think. when i don't physically make my words...they're just not part of me. i can pretend they are and you can pretend they are, but we're both probably just pretending. i like that we're polite that way.

all this to say i wrote something. really really wrote something. and i hope you like it. xoxo.

OH! and p.s. i was also over here and a tiny corner of my home {now dismantled due to a crankypants realtor!} can be seen right here.

30 April 2012

on falling down...

the girlies two had lacrosse all weekend. i am utterly exhausted from watching them run up and down the fields with their gorgeous young legs and swinging hair and also from keeping my stomach muscles clenched for every single minute of every single game. 

it's hard to let your babies play hard.

grae's finger may be busted but is probably just jammed and cut from a slashing stick. she doesn't mind at all because it makes her look thug-lite and plus she scored a goal. poor lill was laid out so darn hard in her sunday game that her coach came on the field. i've never seen a crash like that, so much so that i can't think of another word for it. {her coach called it an assault, but that seems a leetle sinister. even though i wanted to press charges.}

anyway. we took them out to dinner to celebrate that they were both still alive, and the waiter asked if they'd just had a game. they smiled and said yes, and he asked if they'd won.

grae answered yes quickly, then thought about it for a second and changed it to no. when he walked away, she laughed and said something like but i kind of won. she got a cool injury and a goal. she did win.

i don't even look at the score. i look at how they get back up after being down. i honestly thought they'd have to carry lillie off the field and that i would have to kill someone, but she sprang right up and got right back into it. 

i look at how grae started yelling straight-away from the sidelines at the refs in her inside voice that they should yellow-card the girl who plowed down her lillie. you should know that grae's inside voice is the bad one that she only uses inside our house. it's so disdainful, you'd cringe. but she was fighting for someone she loves even more than she realizes, so pat and i let it go.

sometimes all the time i feel like i brag about these girls of mine. i know i do. i just look at these small versions of the someday women they'll become, and i see shades of...i don't know what. but it's beautiful. and thrilling. and disappointing. and worrisome. and exhausting. but mostly thrilling and beautiful. 

babies, man. they'll break your heart seventy times harder than you ever thought you could survive, but then you'll see them get back up and fight and you take this breath and maybe your chin does that i'm going to cry tremble and it's all back together again. 

i live for those moments when it's all back together again.

everything pretty found on you only live this life once.

20 April 2012


if you'd like, you can see two-thirds of of the girlies hairchops on instagram - i'm mackinink, i think. - but don't even try looking for the grae ghost. it's not that she's shy. i mean, she just sang her poem at her school's poetry slam, for god's sake, and it was ABOUT POTATOES! she doesn't even like potatoes. but i guess it was better than the llamas at walmart limerick.

anyway. lill got kickass fringe halfway covering her eyes. a few rude boys at school called her a dog. grae restrained herself from giving them rabies, while lillie really socked it to them in the insult department. i mean, talk about cutting. brutal. don't save the worst for last, kid.


i don't know why, but i have been laughing my head off about that uncontrollably. back in the day, i called bullies things like buck-toothed buttfaces, fatbutts, and every other insult with the word butt in it {don't you remember how sweary you used to feel when you used the word butt?!}. maybe even threw out an "I KNOW YOU ARE, BUT WHAT AM I?" which was way better than the little chips of chewed-up gum i threw in their hair during social studies. i was not nice. i've told you this.

i guess i'm just a little giddy that, even in the face of shite comments and petite stress...she knows what's important. and she's proud of it.

p.s. when i told pat this story, he shook his head in {hopefully} fake bewilderment. "we're a happy family?" rude.

balaclava found on double dark, which makes me like those twins even more.

17 April 2012

because pour porter told me to...

esmé and i stood out in the cold and waited for the discovery shuttle to fly over us. shivering because she was in sequined tap pants and the thinnest canyouseemyhoobieboobies sweater and because i was made for eighty-five and above. temp, not age.

why do we have to stay out here and see this? she grumbled.

and i thought about it and then dumbed it down to this: because that shuttle carried us to amazing places, and we owe him a proper goodbye.

she smiled hard and bit the inside of her cheeks and asked if i was crying.

no, i answered.

me, too, she said.

in case you'd like to see what we saw, here...

pretty badass, yes?

p.s. the girlies three are getting haircuts tonight...kind of major ones. remember the kind of hair appointment where you took in a beautiful photo of some model or actress or someone who looks strikingly like peter pan {or wait. is that just esmé?} and you expected to leave the hairdresser looking exactly like that picture? i think this is that kind of a haircut. makes me nervous. i'm keeping my fingers crossed for these little women of mine. xoxo

29 March 2012


a long long time ago, there was a baby beginning for us. there was the shock - i thought we were done! - and then five minutes later, there was the joy - we aren't done! - and then a few weeks later, there was a sharp burst of sadness and a more resolute we. aren't. done.

and then about a year or two later...came esmé.

about a week after i learned i was pregnant with that little thing, i slipped outside of lillie and grae's school. i don't remember much, but i do remember smiling hard and holding grae's mortified hand and walking while gasping to our land cruiser and driving us to the hospital. i limped gracefully in, smiled at the receptionist, and announced that i probably just broke my ankle. and could i please see someone about that, please? or did she have a cast i could throw on and we could just call it a day?

all the omanis in the waiting room covered their mouths and their smiles. dumb american. talk about drama. she thinks she's broken.

one man shook his head when we sat next to him and told me "you're not broken. you would be crying if you were broken."

well. after x-rays, they had to call the orthopedic surgeon. there would be screws and a plate and anesthesia. there were questions about how i had gotten to the hospital. did i have a driver or a husband waiting somewhere?

i told them i had driven myself. the surgeon looked at me and looked at grae and asked "how?" and grae replied "she just kept saying shit shit shit every time she had to shift."

nice moment.

wait. surgery? anesthesia? no no no! i had a brand new baby growing. and this one was the one! there was crying and a mortified grae and then a solution. i would have an epidural. given by a grinning doctor who announced, just prior to inserting the needle, that maybe i should reconsider. "are you sure you want me to do this? he asked. sure, i mumbled, trying to look away from the needle he was waving. "because i'm iraqi," he smiled. "and you're an american."

thank you, george bush.

i'm telling you all this to tell you this. after two surgeries and casts and crutches and showers given by my housemaid and monitored by a mortified grae and many, many months, everything worked out as they should. you know how this story ends.

but what i want to tell a few of my friends who could write the first paragraph in this post is that i feel you. i feel for you.

i spent the nine months of pre-esmé waiting for another miscarriage. one day, i was chatting with one of the other mothers at school and she said "karey! pat told my husband you were pregnant! i didn't know that!"

and i whispered "ohh. yeah. well. it's still a little early. we weren't really going to tell anyone for a while."

and she asked "how far along are you?

"six months."


but it is, isn't it? it's all insane if you think about it. how things are made. how things break. who fixes the unfixable. who stays and who cannot. it's a heartbreaking tightrope walk every minute of every day. don't look down, don't look up, just fix your eyes straight ahead. there's tomorrow. there's another chance. there's better, there's worse, there's richer and poorer and ice cream for dinner and warm socks fresh from the dryer and sunsets that make you want to stick around to see it come back up again. there will be those shit shit shit moments and a whole lot of mortified.

but then there will be the one day when you finally find what you've been looking for...love or babies or whatever...man, it all just seems to have a way of finding you.

i think that's what i wanted to tell you.

gimme. gimme. gimme.

28 March 2012


pat's back home, so this past weekend was spent mostly soaking him up and getting accustomed to having a boy in the house once again. that just usually involves less nudity and less ice cream.

on saturday morning, we woke up to a strange smell. esmé and i looked at each other with the exact same whaaa? look on our faces.

what is that smell? she asked. not a clue, i answered.

grae walked by us in a hurry to get downstairs, and shot a frown at us.

it's food.

oh, yes. that again.

did i ever tell you that my grandma used to make us pancakes in the shape of turtles or men riding bicycles or storm clouds or cars? they all looked like circles, i think, but the point was that she was trying. that was a lovely gift that i appreciate more now than i probably did then. isn't that always the way? elephant pancake here.

12 March 2012


when my sister was dying...i mean, truly dying...and the only appointments she took were from people who gave her a bath or medicine that wouldn't touch her pain plus those who wanted to give their goodbyes, we still giggled.

it was kind of funny the way they'd panic and fill the air with their own maladies. me you same same, do you know?

talks of summer colds and lumps that turned out to be nothing, thank god, and battles with a jackass of a love became conversation starters and enders when all lin probably wanted to talk about was manicures. or dinner plans. or her size four levis that she would have died to fit into once upon a time. but now that she was dying, they were too big. or something other than how we're all suffering.

that was a given, in her mind.

but, still, she'd coo and empathize and make everyone around her feel less pain. while she was suffering silently with her own. couldn't talk about that, though, could we?

all day i've complained about my root canal. it's the pain plus the fear plus the pissed-off feelings i have because i didn't cause this. he did.

but on my way home, armed with prescriptions for antibiotics and vicodin and a few cadbury eggs to be taken as needed, i saw a mini parade of wheelchairs. little kids being pushed in the sunshine. their heads to one side, their hands trying to stretch to touch the sky...just enjoying the moment. joy in all that pain.

if lin was next to me right now, she'd coo and tell me how sad she was feeling for me. root canals are the worst! she'd say. and i would laugh and ask as bad as cancer? and she'd laugh and probably swear and say even worse!

and we'd both know it wasn't true, but it was a much better thing to say than good-bye.

here and here.

07 March 2012


esmé ran into the kitchen carrying a bunch of letters in her head.

mom! does w-a-l-e spell whale?

kind of! well done, mémé!

and does p-i-k-l spell pickle?

almost exactly!

she took a deep, proud breath and looked around like mad trying to think of new things to spell. that little thing melts me. i've given up apologizing for how captivated i am by every little move she makes. the best way i can describe it is that she means it. and when you meet people like that...well...they're pretty unforgettable.

i said isn't it amazing? you're a speller now. and there's so many words out there just waiting for you. isn't that weird?

and she gulped and nodded and said yeah. sometimes i don't even know who i am, it's all happening so fast. makes me dizzy!

she pronounced it like dizz-ay and then ran off to connect eighteen chubby straws i just bought so she could drink her juice in the kitchen from the living room.

when she was born in chicago, pat was in oman and my sister was dying and lillie and grae were home with my mom. my other sister popped in to the hospital after work to see how i was doing, but the whole baby coming out of her little sister skeeved her out a bit.

we were chatting and one of the nurses - the one who kept announcing to everyone who entered the room that there's no father! - asked if she was going to stay.

ooh. i don't think so. my sister said. it's late and...

well, she's going to have the baby in about five minutes. the nurse shrugged.

jeanie looked at me like that was crazypants and said five minutes? why isn't she screaming?

and the nurse answered because this isn't a television show.

anyway. where was i? oh. when esmé came, the first thing i said to her was YOU'RE SO CUTE! and then the doctor took her to check her out while my sister followed and refused. to. leave. her. side.

the doctor said she was normal. jeanie turned to me and said she's remarkable!

the doctor said she had good reflexes. jeanie whispered he said she's very intelligent!

the doctor gave her an average new baby score. jeanie practically crowed she's perfect!

i don't know what i'm trying to say here. but her whole life...she's just been the best memory i've ever had. hmmm. i don't think that's exactly what i'm trying to say at all, but it'll have to do.

here here and here.

05 March 2012


mean people leave dents. they really do. and when you're feeling particularly soft, they draw blood.

especially so when you know the person and felt like she knew you.

i feel, of course, so bad about my reply to my hater last week. when pat finally caught up on my blog, he declared it nonsense and said i was better than that.

whoa, mister. that's how i got into trouble in the first place.

anyway. i will try to temper my smugness about my move to a third-world country. i won't relish in the one perk to which i'm most looking forward - a maid - but will instead gleefully anticipate parasites and dengue and a slew of scary insects, rodents, and scaled creatures whose bites have no known antidotes. yay. i could also write about my loneliness and emptiness and difficulty communicating with the ones who will be awake while i'm sleeping. not to mention most of the people around me. that would be funny stuff.

my most paralyzing fear is water, and this new place is going to be surrounded by it. sometimes, this water acts up. but hopefully a tsunami wouldn't happen at the same time a volcano erupts. that would not be serendipity.

would you want my life? not in a million years. but would i ever give it up? not in a million years.

so that's where we are.

actually, no. that's not where we are. a girl left a comment on my sister's story last night and it made me cry. full-on tears.

that's where i am. and that's why i'm here.

gimme. gimme.