A letter to my dad, the drug addict

Dear Dad,

We haven’t talked in two years, and that’s not going to stop just because it’s Father’s Day. However, you are on my mind, and I thought it’d be an interesting exercise to come up with a list of 10 things that I’m grateful to you for.

1. Thanks for knocking Mom up. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. This world is full of suffering and joy and weirdness at every step. Even through the times I’ve been miserable, I wouldn’t trade a single moment of this life.

2. Thanks for the genetic predisposition to skinniness. That allowed me to scarf all the Oreos and Ding Dongs and Funyuns and Coca Cola I wanted until I was at least 30.

3. Thanks for smoking weed with me when I was a teenager. That was fun. Until I realized it was sad.

4. Thanks for being supportive when I got knocked up. I mean when you found out my baby was going to be half-black, you completely rejected me, but up until then you were a real sport.

5. There were a couple of times you lent me money in college, and I think you made a couple of payments towards my braces when I was a teenager. Thanks for that.

6.  Thanks for setting me up to be attracted to men with addiction issues. That’s meant my love life has been a lot more, umm, interesting and exciting than many of my peers. And those guys need love too, right?

7. Thanks for teaching me that one of the shittier things humans can do is make promises to children and then break them.

8. Thanks for not being there to protect me from stuff. I like that I’m kind of a warrior as a result.

9. In fact, here’s an all around thanks for not being around. Your side of the family, God love you guys, is a big old bowl of crazy. Left to her own devices, Mom did a pretty good job. I’m a fairly high-functioning human being. I rarely threaten to beat up teachers or nurses. I don’t have a drug problem. I only have one baby daddy.  I pay my own rent. My son, despite my deficiencies, seems to know that he’s lovable and likable. So all in all, this really is the best of all possible universes.

10. Thanks for doing your best. It’s hard being you. You swung and missed. A lot. But you tried. And that counts for something.

I still can’t be around you, but in my own way I love you. And if I were stronger, if I had a greater capacity to tolerate your dysfunctionality, I’d come over and leave a 20 in my purse  just for you. And when you found it and methed it up later, you could know it was on me. That would be a happy father’s day indeed, right?

Yours for better or worse,



Cicada Husk

My last day of work for the school year is tomorrow. I start my summer break feeling like this: cicad husk

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a cicada husk. A dried out, empty shell of what it used to be. Where are the soft insides? Who knows? They were probably sucked away slowly by 12-14 year olds who took pleasure in (1) talking over her, or (2) throwing things around the room when she took her eyes off them for a moment, or (3) drawing penises on every surface of her classroom, or (4) writing inane rap lyrics about “good kush and alcohol” in the books she bought them, or (5) writing  “Ms. Bea swallows” on the bathroom wall, or (6) stealing things out of her desk, or (7) becoming indignant when expected to actually do work, or (8) telling their parents I was “catching attitude” with them and then having said parents call to yell at me on my cell phone. Or maybe the insides leaked out of the holes poked by the voice in her head that tells her it’s her fault that they behave this way. Never mind that they were that way when she got them, that she was asked to take over the class from an inept teacher who was phoning it in every day, that half of her kids came reading at a 2nd or 3rd grade reading level and that the other half were taking her class in English for the first time. Still. It’s a big bowl of failure. That cicada did not change the world. That cicada barely made it through the year. And that cicada couldn’t wait to see the vast majority of those little fuckers walk out of that door towards the many petty crimes they would commit this summer. And, yes, there were good ones. Sweet ones. But not enough to keep the soul and the body together for that cicada. One sweet morning when the  year was over, she flew away…

Hopefully by August she’ll be ready to do it all over again.

4 Years and 3 Months Later

Well well well, look at you. Long time no see. You look amazing! Do I detect some Crossfit action happening around your way?… What was that?  Aww, thanks. No, I haven’t had any work done. Maybe it’s the bangs. They’re new.

So, um, yeah. I don’t want to have a long ass this-is-what-i’ve-been-doing-for-the-last-4-years conversation. So how about I just give a few highlights and then we can carry on as before.

1. I finished grad school and got a teaching job. (Yay!)

2. The job sucked. (Boo!)

3. James asked me to marry him then almost immediately asked for a mistress. I didn’t like that so much, but the final straw was when, in a fight, he flung a frying pan at my stove and grossly minimized its resale value. Messing with my heart is one thing. Messing with my appliances is another.  He’s in California now where his stunning jawline and penchant for picking low-hanging fruit means his life is a veritable punani tsunami. (Aww. Good for him.)

4. I got laid off from the job that sucked.

5. Like a kid who just got beat at Monopoly, I  said ‘screw this game’, picked up my toys and went home (to Dallas).

6. Instead of feeling my feelings, I stuffed them down under a whole bunch of religious fervor, fried foods and flowing fabric. (Amen).

7. One day I realized I’d gained 15 pounds. So I  told myself to man the fuck up, started running 3-5 times a week and found a new teaching job.

8. I teach middle school in the hood now. I only get told to go suck a dick about once a week. To my face at least. This month I almost made it from payday to payday without asking my mom for money. So, yeah, I’m kind of a big deal now.

9. I’m hammering out a plan for making a living with my words. (Use your words, sweetie.)  I’m taking improv classes,  writing songs and doing open mics, blogging it up like a boss and networking networking networking. (Go on, girl, go ‘head get down.)

10. Brandon’s ten years old now. He’s a big old badass. But I’ll tell you more about that later.

So I think that catches us up.

I have missed you. Like this much…Image

Field Mouse

So this is the big bad monster that’s invaded my house. OK, this is not actually him/her/them (eek!) but one of his/her/their distant, perhaps more photogenic cousins, but you get the point. Soooooooo freaking cute.

Aaargh! (shaking my fists in the air because the cuteness is more than i can physically bear)

How could I possibly kill little Fievel here? Even if I got a cat, and the cat was the one who actually did the killing, how heartbreaking would it be to see Sheba the Destroyer chewing on this little biscuit?

And I did move into a house that’s in the middle of a field, so the border kind of crossed him, ya know?

But he/she/they are pooping in my cabinets.


Is peaceful coexistence possible? Will my soft heart mean that Boogsie and I succumb to the bubonic plague or the Hanta virus (whatever that is)?  Should I just set up a cage with a little gerbil wheel, food and water tubes so I can feed them and hug them and love them and call them all George?


not at all and also very important

boogsie’s behavior makes me worry. it makes me worry so much that i make frantic calls to other mothers. what is wrong with us? with him? with me?  in my heart i’ve known it was something with me but for the life of me i really couldn’t figure it out.

during the last panicked episode, i called b’s paternal grandmother, hoping that she would have something for me. anything. turns out she did. she put me in contact with a family friend who’s a child psychotherapist and this woman agreed to speak with me for free.

it was kind of a miracle.

in our fifteen minute conversation, she answered my question. what i was doing wrong was being too busy for him. with work. with school. with the house. with making dinner. with everything. she said, melissa, he wants your attention and he’s acting out to get it.

and, yeah, that made me feel a little guilty. but it was also a huge relief. this is something i can do something about. this is something within my control. if i want my relationship with my son to be better, i don’t have to blindly battle some monster called ADHD (or ODD or OCD or anything else). I just have to give my son some of my time.

it was a stunning realization to me that i am really that important to him. it is the strangest aspect of motherhood to me. that to be a mommy is to be vitally important to another human being. in most of my life i strive away from self-centeredness, self-importance. i try to be humble and simple and to serve because i’m not that important in the grand scheme of things. so much suffering arises from thinking you are the center. (you as the center is the center that cannot hold). but in this venue i am intrinsically important. and to not recognize that is to do harm to my son.
anyway, the good news is that we’ve made changes. i’ve made changes. and while we have many many miles to go, we’ve started in the right direction. and i can tell by the way he holds my hand when i hold his.

chasing pleasures

i remember one time lying next to james overwhelmed i cried. “it’s just that time is like this sea of moments. they’re all rushing over me. they’re too fast for me to hold onto. and right now with you i am so happy. but one day this will just be something we remember. i can’t hold onto it. it’s already gone.”

i may have actually said that or something like it. i may have said nothing at all.

but that’s how it is. chasing pleasures is like chasing ghosts.