Will you wipe away my tears

The fall, not too hard, but the knee is scraped. The sight of red ragged lines across her leg ensures that the tears will be more serious than the pain, and will last longer. Eventually, safe in my arms the sobs subside. Or perhaps it was the sight of a friend, a sister still having fun, still laughing and running and oblivious to the tragedy that has temporarily befallen her sibling.

One last hitch of breath and then stoicism. Will you wipe away my tears? The sign that the turmoil has passed; that the sad child is ready once again to be happy. The cleansing. Of course I will, and I wipe them gently with the heel of my hand, kiss away their salty residue, set her back on her feet, steady her before she runs away, sated, healed.


You are a ham, we tell her, You are a ham sandwich. Her quickness to laugh, to be silly, to entertain matched only by the quickness with which the storm clouds can invade, the quickness with which her fuse can be lit; can detonate.

But the storm doesn’t last long, and even when I am the cause of the shift in weather, she always runs back to my arms imploring me, through her grip, her wailing, to make it better. And soon, she lifts her head from my shoulders, tells me she feels better, and then the magic words: Will you wipe away my tears?

Even when I am the source of her unhappiness, of boundaries enforced, of impulses denied, I remain the source of her comfort.


Her infancy has passed and childhood is fleeting. Independence, so richly earned, such a cause for pride, a stark reminder that she grows. And they grow up but they also grow away. Please let it always be like this: the need for my embrace and the certainty that I can always make it better. Please let her always trust my touch and my closeness. Please let her always know, even when she is too big to ask, that I will always wipe away her tears.



Book Review: A Million Little Pieces (no, I had never read it before now)

A Million Little PiecesA Million Little Pieces by James Frey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Having only a cursory knowledge of the scandal surrounding this book (I don't watch Oprah), I read it simply because I've been meaning to, and as far as I possibly could, without prejudice.

I don't get the hoopla - that surrounded the book in the first place as a memoir, or that surrounded it later, as a lie.

Since it was impossible to read with the assumption that it was true memoir, I tried reading it as fiction. Nope, that didn't work. As embellished memoir? Still not so fantastic, and I was, regardless of how hard I tried not to be, preoccupied with trying to figure out what was real and what was bullshit. And it didn't help that the book felt less about vulnerability and surrender and more about bravado and ego.

The bravado? Probably bullshit, especially with the author's note in my 2006 version admitting that he was not quite as tough as he portrayed himself to be, but the ego? The ego must be 100% real, or else Frey would never have even attempted to pass this off as non-fiction. Only a complete megalomaniac (and pathological liar) would do such a thing. But if there's one thing I believed, it was that Frey was a narcissist and a megalomaniac. The psychology here is just too rich to figure out, and Frey never really even tries to - not in his account of addiction, and not in his brief, vague account of being a fraud.

Ok, but even if I forget about the why and the what of the truth to the narrative, the writing didn't really grasp me. The style, though I appreciated it casualness, was indulgent. Repeating the same phrase or thought over and over (and over) again is powerful the first few times it is used, but here it feels like a storytelling crutch. There are other ways to portray deep emotion. Same goes with the Random Capitalization that appears throughout the book. My guess is that it is supposed to make the story feel Real and Spontaneous and Authentic, but it gets Annoying quickly. And in the end, it felt as false, forced and fraudulent as some of the so-called facts of the story - in the end, the random capitalization felt like a tell. The passages devoid of the literary tick were much more genuine and powerful than those of The Random Caps, and I began to suspect it's because when he truly was writing from experience and from the heart, he didn't bother with the affectations - he just wrote. I wish there was more of that, and I wish that Frey had not fucked himself, and his reader, over.

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She Is 38 Years Old

The sun is setting on my 38th birthday, a day of cold sunshine and snowy walks and tight hugs from a seven year old possibly as uncertain of what 38 means as I am and out of tune singing from a five year old who really is more concerned with showing me the trick with a lasso she’s learning to do.

I got everything I wanted for my birthday; a book and a card and a date marked on a calendar to head into sunshine and sand and princess castles that my children didn’t have to wait 34 years to be disappointed by. I have a cozy home and healthy children and things that I consider nice, and I wonder what exactly I did to deserve it and whether it will last.

I made dinner on my birthday because I promise, I don’t mind, and we went out for brunch and ordered in last night with friends, before drinking and smoking and playing games that had us howling with laughter and plotting revenge.

And where is the wisdom that becoming older is supposed to bring, where, among the comfort I am supposed to carry in my as is body and maturing outlook, is the bright light of understanding that age promises to replace when all reliance on being the ingénue has faded as truly and permanently as a curtain in the sun.

My child tears through the kitchen in footed pajamas, dragging a game behind her. The lasso has become a leash, wrapped around a cat toy because the cat won’t play, won’t let herself become noosed and dragged by a well meaning five year old who doesn’t yet understand that even the most domesticated among us prefer not to acknowledge the lead.