Things I Know Today (2/13/2014)

  1. It isn’t normal for worry to make you shit your pants.
  2. Everyone has pooped their pants or will, but they don’t talk about it.
  3. Being nice is better than being mean.
  4. Sometimes, being mean seems like the better option.
  5. I am sick of snow.
  6. My scarf is oddly fluffy.
  7. It should be considered totally normal to walk around talking to yourself as long as you aren’t talking about aliens or guns.
  8. My mom once gave me a copy of “Alien Autopsy” as a gift.
  9. If smelling a baby doesn’t lower your blood pressure you need to cuddle a puppy.
  10. I hate feeling like a failure.
  11. I am not a failure.
  12. If after you have smelled a baby and cuddled a puppy you still feel awful I would suggest going to TJ Maxx.

An Open Letter to Glade

Dear Glade,

I thought we were friends. I thought we really had something, but you went and pulled my favorite fragrance. The 2011 limited edition cinnamon chiffon candles were the most glorious candle you ever released and now I have depleted my stash and only have 2½ candles left.  These candles have been my signature fragrance between the months of October and February since 2011. My home smells deliciously of this frothy cinnamon concoction. The smell is heavy enough that it fills my living area, but light enough that I don’t feel overpowered. As I burn my candles, each passing hour brings me both joy and despair as I know our time is coming to an end.

I have done my research, Glade, and I know that I can buy the oils from a seller on eBay. I know that I can buy bottles of the spray as well, but let’s be clear, it is not the same. I have spent hours sniffing candles to find a scent as fabulous as cinnamon chiffon. I dip my nose into jars of cold wax and inhale deeply trying to match the happiness that your cinnamon chiffon brought me.  The feeling has not yet been replicated. Last night I had a moment of happiness when I smelled The Bath and Body Works candle titled Champaign Toast. For a moment I thought this could be the replacement, but alas, it is still not the glory that is cinnamon chiffon.

Glade, you and I have been friends for years. In my mid-twenties I took great comfort in the banana pear candles I would burn. They had a lovely light sent and filled my little apartment with much joy. As a longtime customer I want you to be aware that people like me exist. We enjoy our routines and are most content when our homes smell fresh and inviting. Perhaps, once you release a fragrance you could also list when the limited edition items will no longer be available, so people like me can create a stockpile much like a doomsday prepper.

Thank you,

Heather Carvell


PS: Cashmere Woods is good, Glade, but it just isn’t the same and we both know it.

My Words Need Viagra

I am a NaNoWriMo failure. This month I was going to sit down and write a novel; the goal of the program is 50,000 words. I signed up and created an account. I choose a genre and created a short idea of what my book would be about. I was ready to go. The world, or at least close friends, would be forced to read my 50,000 words about anxiety and bad decisions. The book would be a somewhat autobiographical account of a woman nearing her 40th birthday.

I never wrote a single word. As of the writing of this blog post it is November 10. I suppose I could try to catch up, but I am really discouraged at this point. I have been playing a little blame game trying to make excuses for why I haven’t been writing, not just not writing the novel, but not writing in general. What if I have already run out of things to say? Maybe we have a limited number of words in us and I have used most of mine up.

Depression probably plays a part in my lack of writing. The holidays are coming in fast: Thanksgiving, Mom’s birthday, and Christmas lead to a general sense of “bah humbugness” in our house. Work has been busy lately and at the end of the day I feel like I have no more words to give. Saidee has been sick. School has been consuming with an online class I’m taking. All of these are excuses for why I haven’t been writing, but they aren’t good excuses I know that.

If I am not capable of writing 50,000 words in one month, I could surely keep the blog updated with a once a week post. But to be honest I am having a problem with that as well. On my phone I have a list of blogs I have started and not finished.

  1. NoblePark and the magnificent haunted house.
  2. That time a boyfriend accidently caught my pubic hair on fire.
  3. The illegal purse trade or that time Kara and I were pretty sure we had entered an underground sex trade organization.
  4. Am I a bad feminist because I tell my children to not drink at parties?
  5. That time I pierced my vulva.
  6. That time I think my dead Grandpa talked to me.

I have ideas; I am just currently lacking the ability to get them on the page. What if I am word impotent? What if I can’t get the words up anymore? What if my words are sitting in matching bathtubs and holding hands while looking at a scenic view? Do other people feel like this and worry?

This is a blog I write for me as an outlet and for my friends for their entertainment. How much pressure must it be to actually write for a living? In a perfect world one of the pitches I send to (first person and real life experiences, hell yes, please) would be picked up and I would start writing freelance and be a beloved commentator. However, this is not a perfect world and I am attempting to write 750 words on how I have nothing to write about. This is a sure sign that I am trapped in a strange Seinfeld-like world where nothing is really something.

So to recap: I failed at NaNoWriMo. I haven’t had a good blog post in a while. I am in a slump. I let my clothes sour in the dryer (that was not part of the blog post, but they smell of sour hell and you should know). I will now put on my Lane Bryant big girl panties and attempt to get over myself.

Thank you for listening to this pity party.

Love, Heather

PS: I didn’t hit 750 words, better luck next time.

me eating something

Until I am able to give you a better post please enjoy this photo of me eating.

West Plains, Missouri

When I think of summer I think of my grandma’s house and the mimosa tree in her yard. It was the perfect climbing tree. The tree had a solid base and easy footholds for climbing, and climb we did. Hours were spent inside that tree, Kara and I half hidden from the world, covered by the fern-like leaves. There was one branch that was just about the best branch ever. It was substantial, knotty, and a little green. I would climb out onto the branch and hold tight with my knees. Dropping backwards, I would dangle upside-down and see Grandma’s house from a different point of view. Upside-down, with my shirt tucked into my shorts, I could see the porch off of the kitchen.

That porch was the slimy porch. It was where buckets of soapy dirty dish water were thrown and where my grandfather would whittle and sizzle. He never whittled the wood into anything, no animals or whistles. He just shaved away the meat of the branch, slowly and methodically, until there was nothing left. As he sat there on the slimy steps of an old farmhouse, he “sizzled.” It was somewhere between a whistle and a hiss; teeth slightly parted and tongue pressed against the backs of his teeth, he would press air out making his odd noise. I was only about six when he died and this is one of the few memories that I clearly remember. This, and a memory of us sitting around the kitchen table getting ready to pray before dinner. As everyone bowed their heads in prayer, I would watch Grandpa to make sure his eyes were closed. Everyone knows that prayer works best when your eyes are closed. After the prayer I would tell the table that he didn’t close his eyes. I think it was a game he played with me.

When he died I remember family coming to the farmhouse in West Plains, Missouri. I remember it to be wet and chilly. I have no idea if that is accurate or if it is the manifestation of the emotions of the adults that were around me. In the grayness of the farmhouse there was a box of donuts and one had pink icing and sprinkles. It shined in the box like a beacon. I wanted that donut. I remember the want but I don’t remember if I ever ate that lovely pink treat. I sat with my cousin Jill in her parents’ car and listened to Billy Joel’s You May Be Right on the stereo. These are the memories I have that surround my grandfather, incidental memories surrounding a fabled man.

We visited West Plains many more times over the years. Sometimes it was Mom, Dad, Kara, and me, and others it was only Mom, Kara, and me. We packed into whatever car we had at the time and made the four hour drive to Grandma’s house. Sweaty naps were taken in the backseat, with faces smooshed against the vinyl seats. It didn’t matter how sleepy or groggy we were, when we neared Poplar Bluff we would wake up, because we knew a bathroom break was going to happen at the McDonalds. Long legs would spill out of the car and take a long stretch, backs and shoulders would be rolled to remove the stiffness. Inside we would use the bathroom and wash our hands. The begging for a Happy Meal would be incessant. Mom’s reply would be, “Smile at your hamburger.” Once I made the trip with my Uncle Leroy, and when it was time to order, I asked what I could order. He said I could order whatever I wanted, so I ordered a McRibb. It was a mistake and tasted terrible. I don’t remember ever ordering it again.

The times spent at Grandma’s house are now some of my best childhood memories. We once saw a snake in the grass and ran to get Grandma who swore it was only an old branch from the mimosa tree. Kara and I knew different, and for the next couple of days, every step we took was cautious, each foot was planted with great care. At the old farmhouse Mom made us take baths in a quarter inch of water, so that we didn’t deplete the cistern of water. In West Plains the soda came in glass bottles and was colder than cold. In West Plains I couldn’t get out of bed at night because everyone was aware that if you stepped on the dog’s (Booger) tail, your leg would be eaten off. It was in that house I played pretend with my Mom’s old baby dolls and her Barbie dolls. It was in that house that I read bags of Harlequin romance novels. I fantasized about being “taken” in the barn, all pulsing members and velvet sheaths.

Eventually the house was sold and Grandma came to live in Paducah. I have memories of that house too and of reading her Star magazines. According to her, you could trust Star but the National Enquirer was just full of lies. I loved my grandparents, they were quirky and interesting, and loved us a great deal. Tonight when I go to sleep I will hunker under a quilt my grandma made, a quilt that is never too heavy and never too light, and I will close my eyes and say a prayer for those that are gone. I will close my eyes when I pray, because everyone knows that prayer works best when your eyes are closed.

Two Years

It has now been two years since Mom died. Not passed away or no longer with us. She is dead. And it hurts to the point that I feel like my body cannot contain this grief. It spills out of my mouth when I am angry. I want to look at people and say, “Fuck you my mom is dead.” It spills out of my eyes in a current of tears while I’m driving. The grief is balled up in my clenched fists. It escapes through the nervous tapping of my feet. She is gone and at times that feels unbearable. Even with the grief though, I feel lucky. I am lucky to have had her for 36 years. I am lucky that I got to shave her legs.

Before she left for Arkamecca I shaved her legs. We sat in a cold and dark hospital and I washed her hair with dry hair shampoo. I wrapped her shoulders with towels so that her gown wouldn’t get wet. I filled up a puke bucket with warm water and soaped down her back. Her stomach was swollen with fluid but her back was so thin. I remember being shocked that I could see her bones so clearly and I remember telling myself to not react. We soaped her underarms and chest and dried them with soft pats. I refilled the bucket and soaped up her legs. I scrapped the razor up her legs removing the little black hairs. She told me over and over that I shouldn’t be doing this for her. I said that she would do the same for me. She said that this was different and I said, “No, Momma it isn’t.”

I left the hospital that night not knowing that it would be the last time I would see her alive. Kara was able to see her the next day before she flew to Arkansas. That afternoon I called Mom and she asked when I thought Dad would get to the hospital. I told her that it would be a few hours. She said, “He needs to hurry. I have to pee.” This was the very essence of Mom; she didn’t want to bother anyone at the hospital. She never wanted to be a bother. I told her that I loved her and she asked me to check on Kara because “she seemed upset.” This happened on a Monday; on Friday she was gone. She was gone but at least her legs were somewhat smooth. Even as sick as she was, she remained just a little vain and I not so secretly think that her last words were, “root lifter.” She loved her hair product and her Oil of Olay. I know she was pleased when the funeral director said she had great bone structure. Her vanity wasn’t off-putting, it wasn’t the “I’m better then you” variety. This vanity was pride in neatness and her home. Her vanity was really a pride that comes from growing up poor, and wanting to take care of your things when you are older.

I am sure you didn’t know this, but Mom was convinced she created racquetball. She grew up on a farm she was born to leave. Many hours of her childhood were spent bouncing a ball off the side of the house, catching and batting at it. She joined every school organization she could just for extra time in town. She rotated her dolls out so that no one doll was ever jealous of the others. She was quirky and interesting. As she got sicker, she and I talked one Sunday afternoon. She cried and told me she wanted to go home to see her parents. Her parents had been dead for years. She said that she no longer cared about her things and that she would miss us, but that she wanted her Mom. I was blunt with her and told her the truth. “Momma, you are dying. We are going to send you to Arkansas and they are going to do things that make you sicker, but then they will fix you and you won’t be dying anymore.” While we had the conversation I tried not to react, thinking, “Do not cry. Do not cry.” The hot grief built up in my throat and tasted of bile. Arkansas didn’t have time to fix her, her heart and body were too broken for them to fix. She died with Dad next to her.

This time of year everything is secondary to the grief. I couldn’t give a damn about the news, the house, work, or school. This time of year my panic attacks get a little worse and I want to hurt myself a little because physical pain is so much better than emotional. I will think about tattoos and how the hot scrape will make me feel better. How I will wear my tattoos as a shield. They will protect me from the outside hurt. I will wait for May to end. Kara, Dad, and I will laugh about Mom and then we will cry. May will end and the cycle will start over again.