Fire Works and Fireflies

We took a day trip into the mountains to kayak down a river yesterday. 

The real reason we went, though was to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my husband’s aunt and uncle. Over the holidays, his uncle proposed to his aunt again and then the family planned a surprise renewal of the vows at their weekend home on the river. With the backdrop of the July 4th holiday, pandemic almost in the rearview mirror, the entire family arrived to mark the milestone.

50 years. It almost boggles the mind. Many of us do get married, some more than once. I imagine most people think it will be forever. The beginnings of any romantic relationship can feel like 4th of July fireworks. Explosive, awe-inspiring, heart pounding. That kind of love doesn’t last. It just can’t. It can’t be July 4th every day for 50 years. It is too much. It burns out. It implodes. It fizzles out. It’s a dud. But it can be July 4th sometimes. Even if it is once a year.

We loaded up the kayaks and inner tubes and drove them to the river head and floated down to the property where the wedding was about to take place. The day was glorious, almost cloudless. The bluest skies in the world hang over North Carolina. The water was ice melt cold and the sun danced behind the trees making patterns on the choppy water. People lined the banks; families, parties, corn hole and beer. America at it’s finest. 

Weddings are beautiful. I’ve never been to a bad one. I’ve been to ones with bad food or bad music or no alcohol, but the spirit of the event has always been beautiful. This was no exception. Celebrating love that has stood the test of time is truly a gift. It’s easy to celebrate the beginnings of something. All the potential is there, none of the mistakes or missteps.

Whenever we go to the mountains, I HAVE to drive. If I didn’t, I would be turning green, vertigo setting in and likely puking on the side of the road. The roads are so damn squirrelly, turning and weaving, up and down. Sometimes the edge of the road is right at the edge of the mountain and I can see how high up we are. I’m feeling waves of nausea just thinking about it. 

On the way home, it started to get dark. I frowned. The only thing worse then driving squirrelly mountain roads, is driving them in the dark. Just as I was about to complain out loud, that magical moment at twilight happened, where the hints of blinking lights caught in my peripheral vision. Bobbing and dancing in the weedy flowers at the side of the road, I see the fireflies come alive.

As the night grew darker, the fireworks began to appear in the distance. For a brief moment, the fireflies and the fireworks were simultaneously competing for my attention. The grandeur of a dozen different fireworks displays was easy to see. I looked around the car to tell everyone to look, but at least 2 were asleep and the third was on the iPad with headphones in so I was basically alone. I oohed and ahhed to myself. It occurred to me that in the darkness, the fireworks and the fireflies both served the same purpose. They both gave light in the dark. They both illuminated the way.  They were both a celebration. Love lights the way and the darkness retreats. 

I’m not going to lie, that fireworks kind of love will rock your world, it will take your breath away and give you a bounce in your step. But I have a new appreciation for the firefly kind of love. It flickers softly in the weeds at the edge of the dark. It’s the kind of love that lasts a lifetime.

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Ghosts

I am finding myself reminiscing about the old days. This is not something I typically do or even relish. I actually don’t like thinking about the past. Too many ghosts.

I have certain reoccurring dreams. One of them is that I have to go to the bathroom really bad, like pee my pants kind of bad. I go into to the public restroom and it is an absolute disgusting mess. Stall doors are gone, toilet paper everywhere, seats are wet, not flushed. You get the picture. But I’ve really got to go, so I have to figure out what to do. Do I hover over the seat, try to pee without sitting down? Do I just go back outside and pee behind a tree? Sometimes I try to figure out what my dreams mean, this one I haven’t figured out yet.

Another dream I have is that I have been going to classes all year, but totally forgot about one of them. I just didn’t go. Now I have a test, I can’t remember where the class is, what the subject was, and now I think I won’t graduate. My 30 year high school reunion is in the not so distant future, so this dream is tapping into some long held anxieties. Ghosts of high school past.

But my favorite dream is when I am looking through junk stores or abandoned buildings. I am alone. I am searching. I am looking for treasure. Most of the time I find treasure, but sometimes I find ghosts.

I didn’t dream anything last night that I can remember. I’m up early. Too early for a Sunday. I like this time because I am alone. I am searching. I am looking for treasure. I am clicking on keys, punctuating each sentence with a sip from my perfectly honey-sweetened black hot tea. I am remembering a dream I had last week. I was searching through a junk store. Shelves piled high, heaps on the floor, I turned a corner and there was my mother. Bright eyes, full color in her cheeks, white hair, thick and beautiful (her hair was brown and thinned in real life). The realization of seeing my mom again after so long, just brought instant tears to my eyes.

“Mom!!”

“Hi Kimmy.” Her bright blue eyes in wide surprise, big welcoming smile.

“Mom, (now full boo-hoo-ing) where have you been?”

“Oh, you know. But really it’s not as much fun as you’d think. I kind of like it here.”

And then she turned the corner, I followed after her, but she was gone.

I woke up with tears in my eyes and a catch in my throat. She was so close. The veil was so thin. Just another ghost knocking around in my haunted house of a mind. Most of the time the ghosts are quiet, they keep to themselves and I keep to myself. Something has them stirred up. Is it them or is it me? Am I searching? Am I looking for long buried treasure?

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Jar-ring and Farting

I have this affinity for old things collected in glass jars. I love jars full of buttons, screws and metal bits, watch parts, shiny rocks, beads, and broken jewelry. I use all of these things in this little weird side art project I have of making creepy dolls. I love to see things in jars. It creates a strange aesthetic, like a mad scientist’s laboratory.

I try to imagine where this fetish started. I can only recall my grandfather’s garage with strange metal parts in grimy jelly jars stacked willynilly on the dusty shelves. I also think of my neighbor, Mrs. Nick, with her jewelry boxes filled with gaudy beaded old lady jewelry that she would let me pick through without fussing over my shoulder the way so many old ladies would over their prized possessions when little fingers fuddle. I still remember how she kept her earrings in the same kind of storage my dad and grandfather kept their screws and nails, a plastic bin with drawers, so many drawers, each with a little treasure inside. I was very little and very independent. It was the 80’s and I would walk across the street to Mrs. Nick’s house whenever I wanted. She always welcomed me and let me rummage through her jewelry. What a saint.

Next door to Mrs. Nick was Mildred. Mildred taught me to play the organ. I would walk over to her home once a week for my lesson. This was not quite as much fun. She was a sweet lady, but I could not rummage through her things. I had to be polite and sit on the bench trying to stretch my tiny fingers over all of those keys. The sound of the organ was ominous, although at that age, I would not have known why the music made me feel like I was going to get in trouble. The sound of the piano would have been more welcoming and soothing, uplifting and jolly, but not the organ. It was deep and honking, otherworldly and foreboding.

The organ had an orange button that you had to turn on, it needed electricity, how modern. Looking back, it would have been really cool if she had a candelabra on the organ, but she didn’t, just a doily with a little vase full of plastic flowers and a picture of her dead husband staring at us.

On the other side of Mrs. Nick was Fran. Every night, Fran would walk the neighborhood. If I was outside playing, I would run up to Fran and walk with her. I am sure I would ramble on about all the happenings of my life, while she would occasionally ask questions about my friends, my studies. She would talk about her dead husband. He was a tile man. I didn’t know what that meant, but I listened politely.

Poor Fran. I really did enjoy walking with her, except for one little flaw. Fran farted. A LOT. It was as if there was a fart button on the bottom of her foot. Every time she stepped, I would a hear a fart. You might think, well obviously she had a squeaky shoe, and I would say, do squeaky shoes also smell like a fart? Apparently, I was seriously lacking in friends, because despite her affliction, I still walked and talked with Fran every chance I got. Unfortunately, behind her back, my parents and I called her Farting Fran, because they noticed it, too, I wasn’t the only one.

Fran invited me to her home one day and that’s when I found out what a tile man was. I know a child’s mind can be quite inventive, but when I tell you that every surface in her home was covered with tile, I am not exaggerating. Her coffee table, end tables, shelves, and chair seats were all covered with those tiny mosaic tiles. It was strange, overwhelming and quite beautiful. She was absolutely and completely surrounded by tile. It gave me the sense of heaviness, concrete and weighted. Her back yard was even worse. The ground, the tables, sculptures, all covered with tile. Her husband was dead, but his creations remained and they were too heavy to move, that was what she told me. She was small and frail and his memory loomed heavy, too heavy to move. He too, had broken bits of things in jars. Colors of tile sorted and marked, ready for the next project that would never be started.

Why did Fran keep all those jars? Maybe she liked the idea of the potential of all those broken pieces. She could stare at them and imagine her dead husband’s spirit returning to finish his life’s work of covering the whole world with tile. Potential still exists in those jars. I think that is the appeal. The broken bits still have work to be done.

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I’ve had it up to hair

About a month before the initial lockdown response, I got my hair cut. I wanted something cute and sassy. I typically cut and color my own hair, I’ve done it for years, but this time I wanted a professional to do it. I walked into a local beauty shop and the hairdresser just happened to have another customer cancel, so she worked me in. It took hours. For most of the time, I had to pee. We made small talk. She had weird ideas about healthcare, like the array of essential oils that she featured at her desk, but I didn’t judge (much). Upon picking up my kids from school that afternoon, my daughter promptly turned to me and said, “You look like someone that would ask to speak to the manager.”

Fast forward one month, my cut needed to be freshened up, and then lockdown happened. What was a girl to do? Well, this girl reverted back to her old ways and started cutting and coloring her hair again. At first, I mimicked the work of the hairdresser. I kept close to her pattern and was able to maintain the original design. Over time, my cut morphed into its current shape which is “spikey middle aged lady.” For some reason, I have found myself donning this haircut during other times in my life.

The first time I had spiked hair was in college. And yes, I did it myself. It was the 90’s and I could color the short do in all kinds of funky colors. If I damaged the hair, wait a month and I could cut it again. The only by product was that I confused the frat boy types in my class. I recall sitting in front of a pair of jocks, who I overheard discussing my sexual orientation. “I think she’s gay.” I just shrugged. I really didn’t care what they thought. I had a boyfriend and they weren’t my type, anyway.

Later in residency, my hair morphed again into spike mode. I had absolutely no time to go get my hair cut, so I started cutting it myself again. It was short, fun, and I was in the mood for sassy.

As patients see my hair after we have all been in lockdown, I get the strangest responses:

  • Patient: You got your haircut
  • Me: Yes I did
  • Patient: Staring at me
  • Me: Staring at them
  • Me: OK. Well, let’s talk about your labs
  • Me: walks into the room
  • Patient: bursts into gales of laughter
  • Patient: Did you stick your finder in a light socket?
  • Me: laughing just to be polite, but really how many times can I hear this same joke?
  • Me: talking about their labs, their overall health, etc
  • Patient: not looking at my eyes, but staring at my hair with a look of confusion
  • Patient: (looking at my hair and out of nowhere says….) It’s like you are a porcupine. Like you are trying to say, “I want the fuck out of here. Leave me the fuck alone. Don’t fuck with me.”

That was my favorite response. I actually think she was able to put into words why my hair looks like this. Especially when I think back at the other moments in my life where this haircut found its way in. For now, I will embrace the anarchy and anger of my haircut. When I look in the mirror, I think my haircut actually looks like the COVID virus itself with all those spike protein sticking out. That’s how it gets into our cells. That’s how it starts the process of killing us. I think I subconsciously made my hair look like COVID as a way to take control of a time in my life that feels very out of control.

Basically, like my patient pointed out, my hair is saying, “fuck you, COVID.”

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Faith and Fairies

At some point, one just has to get out of the funk. One just has to say OK, kid, wash your face, comb your hair and put down the junk food, it’s time to see the sun again. Today could be that day. Ding dong the witch is dead. Or maybe she’s just been locked in her castle. There’s still a chance she can wreak havoc. All those flying monkeys with their Back the Blue and Don’t Tread on Me flags. They are just thinly veiled swastikas, their hot breath of hate in your face, snarling in the wind.

I am tired in a way that I never knew I could be. I think it’s my age. I feel really old. Especially this year. I feel it in my knees and I see it under my eyes. And where did these back rolls come from? I feel it in my never ending desire to stick my middle finger up at the TV. How did I get here?  

I am disappointed. I am angry. I am in mourning. 400,000 Americans are gone today. Some of them I knew. It didn’t have to get to this. It still could get worse.

So where does the positive, uplifting part come in? That remains to be seen. I have faith. 4 years is a long time for hate to thrive. It’s been really hard to watch, even harder to watch Christians fan the flames of hate and division while simultaneously lamenting about how the world suppresses them, hates them. I am one of them and I don’t see it. I live in a country with freedoms and I have never felt my faith suppressed. I am free to practice my faith. What I’m not free to do is make you practice my faith, subject you to my beliefs. 

Today is a new day. It’s a good day. I’m going to let some of my anger dissipate today. I’ve been trying to do that more and more. 

One of my favorite Bible verses is James 1:9

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger

My middle finger needs to read that again, also that part of my brain that defaults to the “F” word in quick succession, and the parts of my face that sqinches up in disgust, highlighting the lines around my eyes, in between my nose, and around my mouth. That queasy feeling in my stomach also needs to read that again. 

Let me leave you with a positive story. Heartwarming if you will. Of course it involves my mom. I know I should get over her loss, too, but alas I am a work in progress and that shit isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So my mom left a bin full of fairy garden houses, little miniature chairs, tables, fences, and figures. She was planning to make a garden with my kids, but never got a chance to do it. During the pandemic, me and the kids took out that bin and we made a fairy garden.

We actually had to move all the figures and houses and little furniture after a big rainstorm because where we first placed the garden got washed out. So we placed it around a tree that we planted in her honor after she died This was such a better place anyway. I have added other houses and figures and the fairy garden expands all the time. I have hung lights in the tree, bird houses that we’ve painted, and Christmas ornaments. It’s actually quite obnoxious and it’s in our front yard, but it gives me joy and makes me smile. I think it makes the kids smile, too. It’s hard to tell with them, they are getting older and that childlike twinkle is dimming. 

I am trying to capture it in a bottle for all of us. The fairy garden does not invoke middle fingers or “F” words. I’d like to move in and live there forever. It’s an escape. I told the kids I’d like to put fairy gardens all over town, just collect little houses and figures from junk stores and put them in public places. They think I’m crazy, but I saw the twinkle in their eyes for a brief moment.

So keep your eyes out for little fairy towns near you (perhaps you would be inspired to do the same?). I hope you find ways to dissipate the yucky feelings that have wormed their way in over the past 4 years. I hope you find ways to listen, be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Here’s to better days ahead.

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The Truth Hurts

I get up pretty early, even on the weekends. It’s automatic even if I try to sleep-in, the best I can do is 7:30. I like the time in the morning before the sun rises, before my family stumbles out of bed and begins their demands, “can I have a pop tart?” 

Sometimes, I waste the time by staring at Facebook, usually with a hot cup of tea in hand. Sometimes I read articles and try to wrap my head around the absolute lack of leadership that has led us to almost 400,000 COVID deaths in the US. I scoff at the voices that raise up and say it’s not real. I know they just can’t face the truth. Facing the truth about COVID would mean facing the truth about other things like the fact that the president is a con artist and then their whole worlds would fall apart. Instead they wrap themselves up in the warm snuggly blanket of conspiracy theories that continue to guard them against the cold hard facts of reality.

We all do that to some degree. I do it. I call it survival. 

We lost one of our coworkers this week. Sunday night. I worked that day in the Urgent Care that our clinic has on the weekend. I drove by the hospital where I knew she was laying and tears welled up in my eyes. I said a prayer to God. She had been in that building for close to a month, on a ventilator, her family informed that her time on this earth was growing thin, decisions would have to be made. No one wants to make those decisions about the people they love. I feel like we have made a contract with God somewhere in this fine mess that those are His decisions to make, not ours. He should take that out of our hands, but alas, it does not always work out that way. Greater plan, I guess. 

My prayer was this, “God please don’t let her suffer. Keep her or take her, but please end her suffering.”

That night she passed. 

I found out the next morning. I work in a big office with lots of providers and nurses. We all felt utter shock. Numb. I wanted to just have a day to myself, but there were patients to see, messages to answer. We were still in a pandemic and my job that day was to work in the respiratory clinic seeing all of the potential COVID infected patients. I would not be able to ignore COVID that day and what it had taken away. I would have to stuff my feelings down for a while, ignore the facts and do my work as usual. 

The irony is that she contracted COVID just mere days from getting the first COVID vaccine. The week of her death, I had received my second shot. She was so close. As I sit here, it is impossible for me to wrap my head around the utter waste of life over the past year. This virus is nothing like the Flu. All those people that would post bullshit stats about the flu and COVID in those early days saying how they were equally harmful, I just want to throat punch them. You idiots. You thought you knew something and you had no fucking idea. 

Looking back over my career (spanning close to 17 years if you count residency), I can think of one patient that I have lost to Flu. I can think of at least 3 that I’ve lost in the past month to COVID. 

I’ve stuffed my feelings down pretty well. It’s one of the perks of my job, if you want to call it a perk. It may be a liability, at least to the human part of me. I’m really good at keeping up my emotional guard. How much terror, sadness, loss, angst, sorrow, grief, distress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, horror, despair can one person really process?? Turns out a lot. Especially this year. Turns out I can absorb a lot, but for how much longer? Hopefully, not much. The vaccines are here. The rollout has been less than stellar, but they are here and people are getting them. There is a glimmer of hope. Lives will be saved and I have to look at that. I turn my eyes to the hope and not the despair, it’s the only way through.

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Good Grief

Grief is a funny thing. Once you think you’ve mastered it, tucked it in a front shirt pocket over the heart where it can come along for the ride, but not get in the way, you end up leaning over and it falls on the floor. It causes a great stirring, making a ruckus as it rolls, clanging and banging with a great metallic clatter. Oh what a mess! Grief fell out again and it took my heart with it. 

In the beginning, when grief was allowed to run rampant, I had the sensation that I could not breathe. I felt every breath. It was as if I were sensing the life within me. Breath is life. Her last words were “I can’t breathe.” It’s all I ever thought about and her eyes. Whenever I closed my own eyes, I saw hers. Dull, grey, unblinking. Unwavering. Staring. She used to look at me with those eyes. Sometimes she would look at me too long, too much in awe, and I would be annoyed. It was as if she were looking at a piece of art in a museum. I hated that look. I didn’t want to be that special to her. 

Today, as I leaned over a patient sitting in a chair to listen to her heart, it struck me that her arms looked just like my mom’s. My mom was fair-haired and her arms were always pale with a splatter of freckles. Over the years, those freckles coalesced into the tell tale signs of aging. Larger patches of brown replaced the tiny freckles of youth. Her skin took on a crepey texture, like tiny wrinkles in a piece of paper. Subtle. They could be smoothed back out again. I look at my own arms now, they are starting to take that shape. I don’t have as many of the freckles/age spots as my mom did, but they are there. Ghosts of Christmas future. 

My eyes moved over her arms. I looked at the clothes that she was wearing. Just like my mom. A pair of slacks and a “dressy” t-shirt. Flowers with accents, glitter and diamonds. Maybe a scrawl of cursive, did it say, “dream?” I felt a pang in my chest. I had the sudden urge to hug this woman. Tell her how much I missed her. Tell her how hard things have been. How tired I felt. How I didn’t want to have this knowledge of how mean people could be.

How silly would it have been if I did hug her. Me in my face shield, N 95 mask, gown, gloves, during a pandemic. No one hugs anymore. No one especially hugs strangers. And she’s sick. I pulled back after listening to her heart, a little startled at my moments journey into grief. Could that have been my mother’s heart? The one I couldn’t restart? No this one is working just fine. Her lungs were good, too. I felt a mist of tears in my eyes. It was good to remember my mom. It brought me back to myself. I had tucked that grief away a little too well. I wasn’t feeling much of anything lately. I was going through the motions because there was just too much to feel. There was too much sickness and not enough of me to go around. 

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Today Was a Good Day

For some reason the blue of the sky seemed bluer today. The yellow and orange of the changing leaves against the backdrop of the sky seemed more vibrant. A weight was lifted. It was as if gravity itself was lighter. The sigh of 75 million voters (the most that have ever voted for a single candidate in the history of America) was like a fresh breeze on my face. I turned my face to the warmth of the sun and God smiled on me. I smiled back. I ate lunch at my favorite pizza restaurant with my family, listening to my kids banter as I danced in my seat to 1980’s Bon Jovi.

Today was a really good day.

American flags on front porches, bowed and flipped in the breeze as I drove by, my hand hanging out the window, rising and falling against the wind. They seemed to have come alive, too. Whipped up into a cheer. Praise God, the nightmare is ending!! Let the bad relationship detox begin!! Dye your hair, cut your bangs, buy the skinny jeans, wear the extra chunky gaudy necklace, pull out that 1990’s mix tape and jam out, because this is it. We are kicking him to the curb. We are changing the locks. We are singing Gloria Gaynor’s, I Will Survive:

Go on now, go, walk out the door
Just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore
Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye?
You think I’d crumble?
You think I’d lay down and die?Oh no, not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive

Bye Felicia.

I pulled out my Biden/Harris coffee cup that I got for donating to the campaign and had the most delicious cup of black tea today. I refused to use the cup until the winner was announced for fear that I would jinx the results.

Over the last 4 years, there were moments of absolute great despair, I wondered how God loving people could ever support such a horrible human being. I tossed and turned, I lost sleep, l lost friends, I said more curse words than I care to admit, and if I were honest and truthfully donated to our family swear jar, I would have been able to send my kids to college quite easily. I wrote blogs galore for my friends at the Shinbone Star. I started a very strange side hustle of creating and selling creepy dolls that are inspired by my angst. I protested. I met amazing people along the way. I hid. I cried. I despaired. I prayed. A lot. I felt the spirit within me not only stir, but rage. I felt as if I were in the battle of the ages for the very soul of our great country. The most wonderful part, though, is that I never felt alone. I felt overwhelmed and maybe outnumbered, but never alone. My God, my faith, my friends, my righteous indignation kept me company.

Look at what can happen when we all come together to fight for the common good. Miracles can happen. Tyranny ends. People are free. The American dream lives again.

Today was a really good day. I plan to finish this glass of wine (Oh did I mention the delicious glass of red wine beside me?), I plan to finish this blog. I will tuck my children into bed, I will read them passages from the Hobbit, then crawl into bed with my lovely like-minded husband and sleep the sleep of someone completely secure and free. I imagine that tonight will be the best sleep I have had in many years. Too many years. Rest well, friends from the US and all over the world. Freedom reigns tonight.

Celebrate. Enjoy the victory. Rest up and be ready because the battle never really ends.

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First Do No Harm

A gentle reminder, on occasion I moonlight for the Shinbone Star, the best little political blog on the world. I joined the mostly disgruntled mostly retired journalists and editors about 4 years ago when all hell broke loose in America. This is my recent blog post for them. Enjoy. Better yet, get pissed and vote accordingly.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The staff doctor here at The Shinbone Star is a little a little ticked off about the man at the top. No, not about Dutton Peabody, …

First Do No Harm
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After Life

I think I have an unhealthy obsession with death. It is not clear to me when this started. I think I let it out of my subconscious 4 years ago after the sudden death of my mom. There was something about her eyes as they turned from blue to gray that changed me. Even as I type this, I can barely express what I saw or how I felt. It is as if my breath catches in my chest. I can’t go there. I just can’t. I tried so hard to save her. 

My work is an expression of my obsession. My enemy is death. For myself and my patients. As much as it is within my power, I fight her. Yes, death is a woman to me. She is the woman who’s eyes turned to gray on that night that was burned into my soul, she is the one that took my mother’s blue eyes away.

People used to tell me all the time when I was little that I looked just like my mother, as I age I can see it for myself. There is this way that her neck kind of wrinkled at the edges. Mine is doing that, too. When I look in the mirror, my eyes are the same blue as hers. I stare at them too long. There are moments that I imagine them graying at the edges and I quickly turn my head. I didn’t just see that. It was just my imagination. I take a deep breath just to make sure I still can. 

Most days, I am just fine. I am so very happy. I enjoy my work, my husband, my children, my life. I laugh. I hardly ever cry, but that was not always the case. After her passing, I wasn’t good at all. I wasn’t even sure that I could continue with my work. How could I be a doctor if I couldn’t even save my own mother? It was irrational. I know that now. I went to therapy. I wanted someone to tell me that I was right to leave the profession. She didn’t. She told me I was exactly where I should be. I went to a career counselor. She told me the same thing. 

You should just go be a doctor. 

So I did.

Except, I kept trying to find a way to explore my feelings about death. I took an art class; it was one of those that are offered through the local community college, typically filled with senior citizens and stay at home moms. I learned to paint. I had no idea that I could. I tried to paint a picture of my mom, but it was too soon, I just couldn’t get her eyes right, so it sits unfinished behind a bookshelf. Then I discovered dolls.

My canvas became discarded dolls. I completely disassembled them. Took off their clothes, ripped off their hair, poked out their eyes, removed their heads and I started over. I remade them. I reimagined them. I make their hair, their clothes, I paint their faces, and I even make their eyes. I tell their stories. I save them. 

Of course this is crazy. I know it, but it gives me endless joy and these dolls are saving me, too.  For the past 2 years, I have been selling my creepy dolls at oddities expos and on Etsy. I’ve lost count how many dolls I’ve sold. Probably close to one hundred. Somehow, I think other people get it. They see the beauty in the darkness because my dolls are dark. I’m not afraid. My dolls are showing me that death is not the end. My faith tells me that, too. I see my creepy dolls as hopeful. They have survived something bad, just like me. 

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