Total Pageviews

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sisters, yes, but not by blood (part 2/Amelia)

A week and a half ago, I recounted in this entry the amazing, ongoing impact being both a Little and a Big through Big Brothers Big Sisters has had on my life. Today, my first Little Sister shares her experiences with this phenomenal program. Both of us urge you to consider joining this program, the benefits of which will likely extend–for both Big and Little!–well beyond its one-year commitment.

* * *

Amelia & Deb: sisters now & forever!

I often see a confused face when I mention my sister Deb. I try to describe her as a mentor but that just doesn’t quite do her justice. Hopefully if any of my friends read this they will finally know who I’m talking about when I tell them I’m going to visit my sis for a week.

[ read more ]

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wards Against Monsters

My love of horror was destined from the moment my mom saw six-year-old me sneak-watching a horror film with from the hallway. “Deborah! You’re not supposed to be watching this! Go back to bed.”

2L Deb, imbued with the powers that accompany wearing a dress ominously on one's head, has come to steal her future self's baby for nefarious purposes!

Was I not supposed to watch films where people grew eyeballs on their bodies, or was the prohibition even broader than that? My mom wouldn’t tell me, so I was left to puzzle over this myself, until the next time my mom caught me in the act.

“Deborah! I told you you’re not supposed to watch this!”

“What’s ‘this’?”

“Scary stuff. Things that will give you nightmares.”

Now that I’m a parent, I understand the translation for this was:
Things that will cause you to steal away what little time to I have to myself every day!

At the time, though, what I took from this was that:

  • Adults watch horror movies
  • Kids do not watch horror movies
  • Watching horror movies makes kids more adult-like
  • I needed to find a better hiding spot for watching horror with my mom

At five and thirty-two years of age alike, then, it’s true that telling me not to do something is the best way to drive me crazy figuring out ways to do it. Most of the time this hasn’t been an issue where my horror-partaking habits are concerned, but a few nights ago, I finally faced a situation where I hid under my covers wishing I’d spent that time watching Care Bears videos instead.

[ read more ]

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An abridged history of my hate

Come a little closer so I can EAT YOUR FACE.

Back in the mid-nineties, I was the proprietor of a fount of love and joy I called my “Hate-O’-the-Day page.”

I added to it daily for a few months before it started making me tired. I couldn’t give it up after all the time I’d poured into letting my webpage’s four followers know every little thing that bugged me about the world. No way! What I could do, I figured, was create a counterpoint. This I did via my “Things to groove to” page.

I didn’t keep that page too long before I became enchanted enough by the idea of living that I opted to stop keeping track in favor of just doing. I let both list pages slide.

A few years later, I looked at those pages and wondered if it was really important for everyone to know all the little things that drove me bonkers day to day. The groove-tos hardly lingered on my mind, but the list of things I hated felt like a train of boulders I was trying to pull up a hill. Was any of it important enough to keep up in a testament to my super-sized powers of grumpiness?

[ read more ]

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sisters, yes, but not by blood

New blog entry:


I’m notorious for my bad memory. Oftentimes, when I meet people whose names I ought–and clearly do not–remember, they smile encouragingly and say, “That’s okay. I’m a face person, too.”

I appreciate their kindness in assuming I have to be good at remembering something, but it’s at this point I say, “Oh, no. I don’t remember those, either.”

I have no photos of my Big, but I treasure this picture of my first Little

Try as I might to remember all the details of my involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters, most of them are lost to me. I can’t remember, for example, whether I was in third grade or fourth grade all those Wednesday afternoons I ran the couple of miles from my school to my Big Sister’s small apartment bordering the University of Oregon campus. I can’t recall why we stopped one of our craft-making sessions to enter the bowels of the strange, man-filled cavern she called a “fraternity,” where I clung to her like we were actually living The Exorcist. Also lost to me is what exactly I did with a pair of socks she loaned me on a rainy afternoon, cautioning me not to lose them because they held sentimental value for her. I don’t remember why this was, but I do remember her reaction when I told her I’d lost them.

My early experiences taught me bad news would often be greeted with violence, so it was hard gathering the courage to tell her. I still didn’t quite get what “sentimental” meant, but I knew it meant something was important. Which meant losing them would mean Bad News. If nothing else, she wouldn’t want to be my Big Sister anymore.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Little and a Letter

New blog entry:


This unscheduled entry is brought to you by the letters “H” (for happiness) and “L” (for little, letter and love, but not little letter love, no offense to the tiny serifed folks among you).

Even without its own unanticipated blessings, yesterday was destined to be a good day, for it marked The Return of Amelia:

♥ Me & Amelia, 2009 ♥

We’ll be writing our story together in a separate entry, so I’ll just say here that I was already excited to the infinity power when I took my lunch break yesterday.

How could the day get any better? Why, with a letter from Sonya Sones, author of the book that inspired me to write and share my entry Six hands for lifting: on my mom, mental illness, fear & hope.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lights, camera, Li'l D!

New blog entry:
Li'l D's first day on set

I was somewhat apprehensive about Li’l D’s first time on set. Sure, he’s visited Ba.D. at the studio during the TV season, but he’s never actually been on set. He’s definitely never been in front of The Camera.

My main fears about his set time were that:

(1) My little camera hog would stare directly into the camera and flash his showiest love-me-camera! grin. Then do it again. And again. And again

Even when he doesn't go full-ham, tantrums cease for love of the camera

(2) Due to the lateness of the hour, Li’l D would spend most the evening in meltdown (a.k.a. “whyaminotasleepyetmommyomg”) mode

These were totally unfounded.

Li’l D did initially find the microphone hovering above his head terrifying, as evidenced by his trying to escape it by burying his face in my shoulder. After a few minutes, he decided it was funny instead of dangerous, at which point he took to singing and waving his special pen at it between takes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

An assortment of blogging awards

New blog entry:


I’d like to draw your attention away from the question of how long it took me to write this entry and toward the fact some of my awesome blogging buddies have nominated me for awards! Thanks for that! Thank you, too, for some of your touching reflections on why you nominated me.

Did I mention y’all are awesome? That’s so whether you issued me one of the below awards, did not issue me an award, were issued an award by me or were not issued an award by me. I love that you keep reading, and I’d create a my-blog-readers-are-awesome award if it wouldn’t be a little ridiculous.

Awarded me by Dana:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Finding peace and quiet at Disneyland? In June? A single-parent salute

New blog entry:

Which is worse, dealing with (a) the terrible twos or (b) Cthulhu eating your head? At DISNEYLAND?!

Single parents, I salute you.

The last few weeks have been exhausting. After Ba.D.'s TV show broke for summer hiatus, he started working on an indie film. My experiences working as an extra informed me that he'd be working (a lot) longer days than usual. I knew this meant I'd be working longer days, too, but I didn't realize how long they'd feel.

Even during the filming year, Ba.D.'s work hours are longer and more erratic than mine. This means I'm Li'l D's primary caregiver during the work week. Sometimes, on evenings where Li'l D's been a li'l bonkers and Ba.D. gets home after his bedtime, I've grumbled about this. The grumbling hasn't oft been long lived, because I understand there's a trade-off. Being the primary caregiver may mean more baby-related work, but it also means more time, more opportunities to share tenderness, and more firsts I get to be there to experience.

Removed from the grumblies, it's easy for me to see I wouldn't trade places. No way, no how.

Here, now, downing fries and Chardonnay (obviously in the same way I eat cereal!) at a Disneyland hotel, I'm not only removed from the grumblies but from all systems normal. From here it's also easy to see the extra tiredness I've felt the last few weeks is tied to the added responsibility I've been shouldering.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Six hands for lifting? Try 600,000!

New blog entry:
What happened next? The aftermaths


Two short days ago, I mentioned I’d only be posting twice a week. Well, I posted that before I’d read your tweets, emails and comments on yesterday’s post. (Good thing, too! Who knows what I’d do if endowed with psychic abilities?)

I’ll be replying to your touching, beautiful comments in the next couple of days, but there are a couple of points for follow up that bear stating outside of comments. And, hey! I also said I’d be posting Thursdays, so . . . so there!

1. Contacting me with questions and/or support

I’ve gotten a few emails from folks nervous that their questions will upset or offend me. If you’re asking me a genuine, genuinely felt question not intended to get a rise out of me, I will not only not be offended, I will be grateful you trusted me to be gentle with the heart behind your questions.

I am always, always happy to answer heartfelt questions sent to this address. Thanks to informal training “offered” me over the years by Nick, I will not be offended. I will answer your questions as honestly and quickly as I’m able. “As quickly as I’m able” may not be very quick at all, but please know you will hear from me.

2. What happened afterward?

The next several years were hard, but not as hard–for the most part, for me–as the first year.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Six hands for lifting: on my mom, mental illness, fear & hope

New blog entry:

Eight years ago, I had a conversation so excruciating, mere memory of it causes me to tremble as I perch at rusty floodgates barely holding back a billion more tears.

Eight years ago, my sister, brother-and-law and I sat on my mom’s front porch and urged her to consider voluntary psychiatric commitment.

When I envisioned the summer of 2003, I thought about the joy of being free from law school for three whole months. I imagined all the adventures I’d have with my siblings. Best of all, I pictured the lovely bride my just-younger sister would make on her wedding day.

What I absolutely did not picture as I boarded the Greyhound bus to Oregon was spending a summer watching my mom’s long-time “colorfulness” devolve into full-blown mental illness. I didn’t expect I’d spend many awkward hours listening to her talk about how her neighbors were poisoning her, Conan O’Brien was doing experiments on her, or how her children were “in on it” with the University of Oregon and the Cheshire Cat.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

it'll all be ok, if not always good.

New blog entry:
A stranger called "schizophrenia"

I tried a hundred ways to fit the poem below into the entry I’ll post tomorrow. A hundred different times, it felt forced.

I thus decided to post it as a standalone–a preface, if you will, to tomorrow’s entry, which was inspired by Sonya Sones's Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy.

Unlike Sones, I’m not a poet. Like Sones, I know the heartbreak of looking into the eyes of someone I love and seeing a stranger. The poem below might not be the most epic or awesome ever written, but it does capture–with painful clarity–exactly how I felt when I looked into my mom’s eyes and saw something else altogether.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Colorado: words, pics and vids, oh my!

New blog entry:
Reflections of a long weekend in Colorado


Sweet, sweet vacation. How are you so slow to come and so quick to pass?

As is proper for a vacation, Li’l D and I spent a good portion of our long weekend in Colorado lounging around on the couch watching Sesame Street music clips. I was even allowed to be on the couch for most of this, although Li’l D did shove me off the couch at one point so he could focus his snugglage on Mackenzie:

No room for Mommy on this boat!

One of Li’l D’s favorite things about Colorado was the three horsies mere yards from his window. Each morning and after each nap, he’d get up and exclaim, “Horsies!” I’d usher him toward the horses’ pens, where he’d diligently gather up hay scraps to help keep his equine buddies fed:

Li'l D performs a feed assist of non-epic proportions

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Love, an insurance card, & the Heart-Head War

I've been a little remiss in my upkeep of this blog! The entry below is coming to you a day late. (Doubtlessly you were holding your breath!)
Apart from the actual title entry, I see I also never posted my son's video answer to the problem of what to do when your buddies are missing from the playground:

New blog entry


My head doesn’t believe in signs, but it hasn’t yet been able to beat my heart into submission on this point.

The lady who hit me yesterday was both genial and gracious. She was also, like me, very much shocked by what had just transpired. Between us, it took a few bumbling minutes to figure out that we should swap insurance cards.

With her card in one hand and a pen in the other, I prepared to copy her info. My breath caught when I saw her name. My mom’s name.

I stared at that name and felt—as I said here—that I was looking at something beyond myself. I wasn’t sure how exactly to read that something, but my heart said, “Head, you are stupid. I am about to show you how stupid you are, even though you very literally have the brains of this duo!”

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Breaking the cycle, or "The 'what' in the name"

New blog entry:


That's Dr. Deefy BRYAN to you!

Amaranth Ciara Millet isn’t my name, but it could have been.

As my teenage years drew to a close, I grew increasingly incensed that I should share a last name with a bozo whose idea of fun was daydreaming about the circumstances under which he might someday get to shoot an inmate.

My last face-to-face conversation with said bozo (let’s call him “TB”) occurred a week or two before I moved to South Korea. I told TB I’d always love him, but that there was no place for someone so accountability-free in my life. After all, I’d needed a father when I was growing up, but instead found myself met alternately by an invisible man . . . and a man I wished would have remained invisible.

That my mom could pour her entire being into raising my siblings and me only to see us bear TB’s name forward into the world infuriated me. I was determined to change my last name so it reflected the full truth of my parentage instead of simply the spermal source name. And, hey! Wouldn’t you know it, a name change didn’t just encompass one name. The name-change fee would cover a full-name overhaul. I could be Rainbow Sunshine Sparkle-tail Finnigan if I felt like it!

Amaranth Ciara Millet was obviously much better suited to me.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A little bit about (me &) Ba.D.

New blog entry:


You broke up with me
and you suck
I’m moving
but I’m hurting

– Tune in the style of Dashboard Confessional, a la Ba.D. 4/1/04

When I met Ba.D. (“Baby Daddy”) on April 1, 2004, I was six weeks from graduating law school and moving to Japan. I kept stopping our conversation to write on napkins the many things he said that make me laugh.

The next day, I summed up my impressions as follows:

[Ba.D.] may have been wearing a morbid tie, but that was the only thing morbid about him.

When I wrote that assessment, I had no way of knowing its subject would five years–to the day–later announce his very real impending fatherhood. To my motherhood. On April Fool’s Day.