Monthly Archives: May 2013

Dear Amanda

4/10/09

“Niki,

I wanted to let you know I did make it back from Texas. Was planning on heading back to the old rehab place but Michael is filing for an emergency hearing for full custody of Aidan. With all that has happened and my mom testifying against me chances are he will be granted custody of him. My mom was the one who emailed him to let him know all the problems we’ve been having.

I can’t even come up with enough energy to cry about it anymore. Maybe he is the better parent for Aidan right now. I don’t have a leg to stand on or a really good excuse.

I’ve been fighting my ex for almost 6 years now. Three years for the divorce and three and a half of Aidan’s life for custody. I can’t remember not fighting him for something, like my life back. Now it seems like he finally found the weak link in my chain and is going to take everything.

I’ll try to call but I’m not up to much except sitting with Aidan for the next week or so before some judge decides my life. I’m not ready for this or even sure how I will even get through this if it does go wrong. Starting over alone at 30 isn’t sounding too damn appealing right this minute. I’ll let you know what happens and hopefully it won’t be as bad as it seems right now.

Amanda”

5/24/13

Dear Amanda,

That was the last email you ever wrote me. And this reply comes very late. Four years late. Much too late, as you know, because I found out yesterday that you are dead.

Scott recognized your picture in a Facebook group attached to a profile with a different name. He clicked on that and discovered it was your mother, and the picture of you was in memoriam. It didn’t take him long afterward to find your obituary in the local paper, dated November 2012. It said you had succumbed to a “lifelong illness” and I knew immediately that meant you had drank yourself to death.

I wrote your mother and she confirmed my suspicion. Told me you’d passed away on Thanksgiving. My first thought was: “Oh God, her poor little boy.” My second: “Could I have made a difference? Could I have helped her?”

Because I didn’t help you. I didn’t think I could. And as you began to take more and more prescription drugs, lose more and more of your grip on reality and spin more and more out of control, I chose to distance myself. It’s not the first time I’ve quietly bowed out of the life of a drug addict and/or alcoholic; my best friend, my first husband….the list is long. But what I loved about those people is also what usually causes me grief, and a touch of guilt, like I failed them. Like I failed you.

And I know better. But my head knows lots of things my heart never will.

What I wish to tell you is that I love you. That I will never forget you helping me pick out my wedding dress, gifting me the best housewares, giving me a crib, changing table, playpen, stroller, alongside so many other items I hardly needed to shop for my baby (and you had the very BEST taste), our small adventure crossing into Mexico, those months we spent becoming close, before you started slipping away, I remember all of it. That your son and your dog Kujo were the kings of your world. That you were whip-smart, beautiful and so funny.

And I feel guilty as hell for having avoided you in the last years of your molten lava mess of a life.

But not only do I know there’s little I could have done for you (I’m out of the “saving people” business, leavin’ that one to Jesus, I guess), I also know that I was at high risk of enabling you – or, much worse, being sucked down with you. My propensity for self-destruction is a forever threat. My distant past is riddled with it, and ever since I became a mother I have worked terribly hard to remain as healthy a human being as my demons will allow. That means being cautious about those I get close to, and distancing myself from those that invite the “cray-cray.”

Still, I am so damn sorry your own demons ate you alive. Sorry for you, sorry for your family and my heart absolutely breaks for your son. And the news of your demise rattles me most deeply because I know if it weren’t for a small tweak of genetic wiring, and a few twists and turns of fate, your story and your end could very well have been my own.

I feel like I should be learning something from this, but as yet I’ve no idea what. I still think it’s a good idea for me to keep destructive peeps at arm’s length. But whatever the point is (assuming there’s a stinking point to all the pain in all the universe), I wish you peace. I hope you know peace now and that you’re properly prepared for your next adventure. For I believe in reincarnation, and I believe the name of that cyclical game is called “Don’t fuck it up next time.”

And you would have laughed at that.

Love Eternal,
Niki

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Songbird of the Soul

Since the instant my firstborn took her first breath I’ve experienced this sensation in the dead center of my chest that is very much like something swelling to capacity. Swelling so rapidly with pure joy and love it always feels very close to bursting – yet never unpleasant, just overwhelming in the most glorious of ways. I’d call it my heart, but my actual biological heart is over to the left. It does that beating thing (morse code for: more cardio, less fried food, dumbass) that has me well aware of its location. So I’d decided this center breast bone feeling, that was always a here-and-there occurrence, must be where my soul’s heart resides. Certainly it corresponds with the mapping of the heart chakra.

Now, allow me to translate for my atheist friends (whom I greatly respect and adore): It’s that moment where you are so suddenly crippled with love that you’re brought to your mental knees, regardless of people being sheeple and God being dead and everything.
(“You say ‘there’s nada’ and I say ‘yo chakra’ – let’s call the whole thing off.”)

While that swelling-to-bursting-ness decreases with the increase of talking back, eleven years later it still sweeps me off my emotional feet. Like watching my baby sing in public today for the very first time. My husband and I were both brought to tears.

She never expressed interest in learning to play an instrument, muchless voice lessons. She stopped singing in front of her dad and I around age eight, telling us it was embarrassing because we make such a big fuss over her, telling us she was shy and not very good. Nonetheless, she badly wanted to take part in her school’s talent show and we did every parental thing we could to infuse her with confidence.

And she sang. And she was lovely. And the crowd cheered.

This child who’s always been prone to melancholy, pessimism and being too hard on herself, whose parents have been actively laying the foundation for her healthy self-esteem; we’re counting it a parenting win. But only partly, because the other half of that win was all her. Her bravery. Her presence. Her simply being lit-within.

And she sang. And she was beautiful. And I cried.
It was the best day.

P.S. While this should go without saying: this wasn’t an American Idol tryout. As yet, she hasn’t any career aspirations in the music industry. So, if you jeer her I will find you and I will stab you in your jeer hole.
Namaste.

Niki’s Not-So-Secret Sangria Recipe (Pictionary Juice)

Niki’s Not-So-Secret Sangria Recipe
A.K.A. Pictionary Juice
(2 quart recipe)

1 bottle of Merlot or a table red
2 cups ginger ale
2 oz. brandy
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 lemon sliced
1/2 orange sliced
1/2 sliced Gala or Fuji apple
1 cup sliced strawberries

While you don’t have to break the bank on your choice of wine (especially if you plan to double or triple the recipe for entertaining – because running out of sangria is just about the saddest thing to happen to a party), I do suggest staying in the “it was originally 12.99 but is on sale for 7.99” region of wine. But even a six dollar bottle of Yellow Tale Merlot will work out okay. Just don’t try a Cabernet. Cabernet laughs at your sugar and your very silly sweetness.

Speaking of sugar, that table spoon of the stuff is wholly optional. It’s the last ingredient I add, and only after having tasted my concoction. Whether it’s needed or not is usually reliant upon the choice of wine.

Leaving the rinds on the citrus, which is standard of sangria recipes, I cut mine into half circles (apples as well) to more easily serve the fruit in glasses. I have it on good authority that fishing out yummy booze fruit is half the fun of my sangria.

And then you’re supposed to chill it overnight. Mine has never known a life so lengthy. It chills for approximately five hours (if that) and is but a savory memory within ten. Such a simple, almost effortless recipe for such rave reviews.

Lastly, special thanks to my dear friend Justin who deemed this recipe “Pictionary Juice.” We semi-regularly get a group of friends together, bust out the Pictionary, partner up, drink more sangria than anyone else in the room, until we’re no longer Johnny-on-the-cognitive-spot, until every drawing is “Clearly Forrest Gump eating a box of chocolates! Clearly!” (shout out to Brenda), and when we stop laughing long enough notice we’re losing, he yells, “We need more Pictionary Juice! Drink up, bitch!” – and we win.

Sangria: The Pictionary Juice of Champions.

pictionary hitler

Enjoy!

Sincerity Prayer

In the spirit of ever-enriching the spirit, I penned the following:

God grant me the serenity to accept the assface motherfuckers I cannot change;
The courage to change the landscape of assface motherfuckers where I can;
And the wisdom to not become an assface motherfucker myself.

Amen.

Rainbow Elvis Cloud Dog Agrees

Rainbow Elvis Cloud Dog Agrees

The Story of Unconventional Us

The story of the origin of us usually comes up when people calculate our eldest daughter’s age alongside the length of time my husband and I have been married. In response to tilted heads and quizzical looks we launch into a tale we’ve told so many times now it’s like our own very well rehearsed skit.

I usually say…
“Oh, well I brought a child into the relationship. I was previously married.”
And he usually says…
“And the only reason I got to meet her daughter was because Niki decided she wasn’t going to date me.”
“His life was a mess at the time….”
“….I was going through a divorce….”
“….wasn’t going to touch that with a ten foot pole….”
“…..she decided I wasn’t dating material……”
“…..I made it clear he was going to be my new best FRIEND…..”
“……and so I got to meet her daughter, which wouldn’t have been the case if I’d been a romantic interest….”
“….I kept my love life separate from my ‘real’ life. I didn’t want to be the mom with all the boyfriends…..”
“….but since I wasn’t ever going to be a boyfriend, I met Maddiroo right away….”
“….to this day I don’t know who fell in love with him first; her or me…..”
“…we joke that’s how I snuck in under the radar….”
“….and he we are. Happily ever after.”

And we smile; take the opportunity to gaze into one another’s eyes. And everyone smiles, and thinks whatever they think. “How sweet” or “Oh puke.” And now we won’t even have to tell the story anymore. I’ll just say, “Ya know, I wrote a blog about it.” And he’ll say, “Yeah. Like to hear it? Here it goes….”

2005