Published by PaintingChef on 24 Oct 2017

Just spilling. It’s been that long so buckle the fuck in.

That’s the thing about this whole smartphone era…when you realize you want to sit down and actually fucking WRITE…you have to go through ten thousand steps in the process and somewhere in there, you’re all “PATRICK! You’d better fucking bring me cheesecake before you come home” and look at that…two years later and two fucks in the first paragraph. You’ve missed me, right? Admit it.

So. I recently spent almost $200 on concert tickets to see 311 and neither I NOR Patrick watched the whole concert because our kid went crazy. Again.

Hey. We have a kid. In November of this year, she will have been ours free and clear for almost 2 years. It’s amazing how that happens, right? Fuck I’ve missed this. I think I need this again. I don’t know how else to get it out. So we adopted Abi. I’m not even going to sugar coat it because chances are, the four or five of you left that actually still have this left in whatever you replaced google reader with (FUCK…did I renew this domain? I don’t even remember) know everything because the Facebook and the Instagram already know everything about her but WHATEVER this is in me and bubbling out and I cannot stop.

We adopted Abi. She is amazing. She is the child I was supposed to have and I adore her. I am her mama. But I am a terrible mama. I am so mad at her right now. I’m sitting here in my cute dress with my perfect wedges in the foyer or maybe still on the porch and my perfect makeup in ruins and honestly I may have ripped the choker off in the backseat of the Uber but it was a 311 concert so I wore a choker but I heard they were totally a thing now anyway and FUCK. Sorry. Patrick just called me and he was like…yes, I’ll bring you cheesecake because sometimes the only answer is cheesecake.

Breathe.

We adopted Abi. She is my blues eyed, strawberry blonde dream. She is my girl. She is my heart. She is so very broken. (pause for whiskey)

(I drink Whiskey now, BTW)

Abi is my daughter. We got to change her middle name after the adoption and so now her middle name is the name I always wanted to give my little girl.. She is my heart. She is my world. And about an hour ago, I would have traded her for…fucking anything, I don’t know.

My daughter may be bipolar. She may have schizophrenia. Her genetics would point to either of those. In stead of just the sarcasm and assholery and knack for engineering that would be the situation were it just my genetics and Patrick’s involved. (Fuck…it’s hard to find my voice again but it’s coming back to me slowly…) She is the textbook definition of ODD but I’m not sure that’s really even a thing? Anxiety. PTSD. ADHD. On paper she looks like alphabet soup. But she is my girl. She is my heart. And I am so mad at her right now that I just want to scream but instead it brought me here.

(For reference…the last thing that brought me here was Anastacia Motherfucking Campbell. Which…by the way… WTF STACEY??? Boo…you whore. I was cleaning out my bathroom drawer the other day and I ran across the amazon package of pipettes and small bottles I’d bought because we were going to share perfume collections because we both had weird obsessions and FUCK OFF THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU FUCKING ANASTACIA CAMPBELL, I WILL GET TO YOU IN DUE COURSE)

My girl. You guys. She is the one that I didn’t know was mine. She is the one that was born the same day I was having a wretched miscarriage. When we’d gotten to the point that I was like…It’s even too much for my blog. She was destined to me mine from the moment she took her first breathe, I imagine.) I will not bore you with the details of our fight for her. I made that mistake once when Patrick and I were in Mexico and I accidentally turned into that old person drunk over-sharer and I still have nightmares about the look that that cute newlywed couple gave me two nights later in the restaurant. But…whatever…I’m not scarred. Nope. Not me.

Patrick just called me. I answered the phone and was like “I’m writing again. Bring me cheesecake.” He said… FINALLY.” Was there ever in the universe a person more mine and for me than him? Absofuckinglutely not.

This is so long but we have so much to catch up on.

My girl…she is…damaged. She’s been seeing a therapist and an NP who put her on Prozac and…I don’t know…I think that made it worse? Lord knows I’m not going to discount the usefulness of pharmaceuticals these days. I spend 5 minutes every Tuesday night (FUCK…that’s tonight…) filling up my weekly pill sorter (PINK! So cute!) with the various drugs that help me make it through the week (Buspar, Wellbutrin, Xanax, etc.)

I’ve just made the executive decision that the only thing I’m going to do before I post this is spell and grammar check it. I NEED this outlet. Blogs are dead. Obviously. I mean, even Dooce hardly ever posts anymore. (Amalah is the only reliable one and, quite honestly, I probably need to pick her brain about IEPs) But that said, I just…I need to spill.

She flipped out again. I don’t know how else to explain it. My girl. My heart. If things are just so, you cannot tell her “no.” But I REFUCKINGFUSE to have the child that will not be told no. So here we are. With the “I hate mom and dad” (she spelled everything right I counted it as a win because STANDARDS LOWERED) scrawled on the wall (in washable marker because I value that now) and the wooden desk chair (that I’ve had since I was her age and my parents only recently gave her along with the desk that I remember having where I stored the Michael Jackson “BAD” cassette in one of the drawers) thrown over the balcony of her loft (OMG, house…loft, too big, kitchen reno, WTF is wrong with me, cannot even go into that, maybe another time but probably not) and splintered into pieces (FUCK…I HAVE TO PEE…HOLD PLEASE)

I just saw myself in the mirror. It was fucking terrifying. DID YOU KNOW THAT I’M FORTY??? I look every bit of it. Just so you know. Also I should have taken my mascara off before I started crying but oops…

FUCK. Do I scroll back and read? I don’t know. I’m thinking no. Word says I’m already over a thousand words. My girl is so angry. At the slightest thing that even hints at a “no” she will kick and scream and bite and hit and kick and throw shit and FUCK UP YOUR WORLD and you never know when it is coming. (I need more whiskey…I don’t, actually, it is 10 pm and I DO have to work tomorrow) We have a new after school nanny (we have an after-school nanny now. We have a housekeeper too. We are people like that. I apologize. Shit happens.) (BUT…I promise you that REGARDLESS of being one of THOSE people, I am still wholly and fully disgusted by the state of…I cannot even say it…that…THING squatting in the White House and we will get into that in due course because I’ve really missed this outlet) So we are at dinner and I get a call from the sweet sitter, the lovely and perfect girl who has been at our beck and call and who, I ASSURE you, I will NEVER hear from again, telling me that Abi has lost her fucking shit. So there we are at the table. Me. Patrick. Work colleague/vendor who looks alarmingly like Jason Bateman. His wife (who is having fucking BREAST CANCER SURGERY in the morning) and two of her friends (who were awesome…I should give strangers more credit). And the first time she called I’m all “Just answer it please, Patrick” and he comes back to the table and he’s shaking his head and I KNOW…I just KNOW. It’s not over and this night is not going to end how I hoped it would with us rock paper scissors lizard spocking it for who will drive home and then taking a shitload of Tylenol and just white knuckling it until bedtime on Wednesday night. But I order another drink and I’m like…it’s okay, it’s FINE. Then she calls again like 20 minutes (and 2 drinks…whisky, yo) later and I just pick up my phone and leave the table because I know that that chair ain’t felling my ass again tonight.

And here we are.

I have no idea what I’m doing. Every day I try and tell myself that I’m making things better…not worse. But I don’t believe me.

Patrick is home. (With cheesecake because he’s Patrick) (and because I literally texted him “don’t even think about showing up without cheesecake”) and he asked what happened and all I could tell him was that I sobbed in the foyer for a while and I could tell that the Uber driver was still at the top of the driveway because apparently the $10 tip (smallest bill I had and I cried the whole way home so I knew she needs SOMETHING) was enough to keep her interest and she probably saw my underwear because of the way I slid down the glass door sobbing and then eventually I got Abi to put on some clothes and I cried some more and she asked for a bedtime story and Grimm ain’t got SHIT on me (I’ll get into that later…I tried to tell Patrick about my twisted fucking bedtime story that I told after I yelled “OH YOU WANT A STORY, I’LL GIVE YOU A FUCKING STORY) and I’m STILL crying and it made him go straight to the liquor cabinet and pour a whiskey) and then I came down here and left my crazy fucking expensive leftovers (seriously…it was a vendor dinner but if that bill was under $500, I’ll be AMAZED) on the kitchen counter and grabbed the laptop out of the TV cabinet because at that time I knew there was no other outlet than you, dear blog, and hastily poured a glass of whiskey and just…spilled. (I’ve lost track of the parentheses) I spilled to you. I didn’t spill whiskey because I’M A FUCKING PROFESSIONAL

But you guys. Is so many ways my life is so much more than I ever imagined. But in other ways…I’m so ill-equipped. I’m lost. I’m drowning. I can’t fix it. I cannot help my girl. I love her. But I cannot fix it.

This.
Fucking.
Sucks.

Published by PaintingChef on 22 Sep 2015

Dusting this place off for the worst possible reason.

For people who never crossed paths with her, online or in real life, I’m sure they are saying to themselves… ENOUGH ALREADY about Stacy Fucking Campbell. But those people had a hole in their lives that they couldn’t possibly know existed. There will never be ENOUGH ALREADY about Stacy Fucking Campbell.

She was part of a loosely defined group of writers, bloggers, who had been around the block a time or two. Those of us who wrote just to write, when nobody was reading and then everyone was reading and then nobody was reading and most of us were still writing. And then… we stopped writing. Why did we stop writing? That’s probably one of the things that delights Stacy the most. That out of this, her people, her OG blogger family, her Indie Bloggers and then her IndieInk people, we faced down that taunting, blinking cursor once again.

So many hours of the last few days have been spent in reflection. Re-reading emails, chats, instant messages going back a decade. Mourning text messages lost to old phones…pre-cloud communication. The time we were going to actually meet in person in San Francisco as I was on the way to Napa and it just didn’t pan out. But every email, every message was just so full of Stacy. Seeing her endearing greeting of SUNSHINE to open an email, her adamant refusal to put up with the shit of what she called “girl on girl hatred against yourself” when I lamented not going to the gym and the changes I was seeing from fertility treatments. Her excitement at the start of a new project… Indie Bloggers, IndieInk, The I Survived Project. Every word from Stacy was something to treasure because words were just one of her art forms.

And then she would just disappear for a while. Facebook gone. Blogs gone. Radio silence. Emails sent just to check in would go unanswered.

I am forever grateful to Stacy for the beauty she introduced me to. Every few days, my inbox would be flooded with IndieInk submissions to review and I would sit and just drink in the incredible rawness that people poured into their writing. She had a gift to draw that out of people, to encourage us to look inside ourselves and find the beauty in all our shit. That’s the thing about Stacy… she found the most beauty in the things and places everyone else wrote off as broken and nowhere was that more evident than in her haunting photography. Abandoned buildings, closed amusement parks, trashed alleyways. They all became beautiful if you were lucky enough to view them through Stacy’s eye.

We can talk about the sad and the broken and beauty all we want but please, please never forget the humor. The completely irreverent, always inappropriate humor and completely wicked sense of humor. I was never lucky enough to witness it in person but it shown through every interaction I had with her online.

Far more beautiful, eloquent and artistic tributes have been written to honor this breathtaking woman who touched so many lives and mine fall short. But they are the words I have and I loved her so very much. She was always open about her struggles with depression, childhood abuse and the other demons she carried around with her. But she was also the person who pulled so many people back from the brink. Stacy was the one who was in your face (or at least your inbox) telling you that depression lies. That you are worth more. That people love you and need you.

Oh Stacy. So many heart are shattered that you weren’t able to hear your own words. I desperately hope that you are at peace now but I also hope that you are able to see these tributes, read these words bled by so many of us that loved you. You matter. You are important to us. We love you.

Fuck. This sucks.

Reach out. Ask people if they are okay. Check in on those you know struggle. Be a shoulder, an ear, an arm to hug. Sometimes it won’t be the difference but maybe, somehow, somewhere it will be.

Stacy Fucking Campbell

Published by PaintingChef on 10 Nov 2014

Belle.

One of the greatest tragedies of the entire universe is that those who have the purest hearts and the sweetest souls spend the shortest time with us.

This past Saturday, our sweet girl, Belle, passed away peacefully in her sleep. She would have been 13 in January. A teenager. I imagine that she would have immediately began to roll her beautiful brown eyes at me at every chance.

Patrick and I got married in December of 2001. By January I was begging him for a puppy. We looked and we looked and we finally found someone whose dog had had puppies. We drove about 3 hours to see them when they were just a week or so old, still just a wiggling mass of puppy and poop. We just sat there and stared… “How do we pick one?” We started picking them up, cuddling them, I tried to stick a few in my bra and steal them, Patrick intervened… as he does.

I’m a sexist asshole and knew I wanted a female so that, at least, made it a little easier. Finally we just put all the females in a pile and watched. Waited. Suddenly one of them was squirming towards Patrick on her little belly and as soon as she got to him, she peed all over him. Belle chose us.

Patrick and Belle

She was our eternal puppy, even at 12 years old with a mostly white face and a hitch in her step from knee surgery when she was 7, she had a puppy quality to her face. She was always happy to see us. And you. And you over there, too. Every day was the best day of her life. But the ones where she got to swim too? Holy balls. (Which she did not have. Because she was a girl.) Those days were epic.

Maybe it was because we got her when we were newlyweds and didn’t ever plan on having children. Or perhaps it was because when you met Belle, you knew right away that there was no other way to love her than fully and completely and messily. But that puppy girl was our baby. She ruled our hearts. She owned them and carried them around with her.

I know that we are lucky. We didn’t have the struggle of wondering about the quality of her life. Are we selfishly prolonging her suffering because WE aren’t ready to say good bye. Belle was wide open Saturday afternoon. And then she wasn’t. She most likely had a stroke. We took her to the vet that evening because something was clearly not okay. Her xrays and blood work all looked good so the vet suggested that we let her stay overnight so they could keep an eye on her and check back with them in the morning. At 11:00 that night, she passed away in her sleep.

Before we left, we each gave her a big hug and lots of kisses and she wagged her tail and kissed us back. We didn’t know we were telling her goodbye but looking back, I think she knew.

Sweet dreams my puppy girl. I want to think that right now you are swimming endlessly, chasing your dummy and rolling around in the sand.

Dammit.  Play with me.

Published by PaintingChef on 12 Sep 2014

Unbreakable.

Oh internet. Is this what we’ve come to? Me checking in on my birthday? Being a year older? A year scarier? A year wiser? Bwhahaha. Yes. So wise. So sure that by 37 I’d have it all figured out.

This past year man. What the hell? A roller coaster of epic proportions. And I shit you not… every time we think we know what is going on, the rug is pulled out from under us. It happened yet again last week. A’s mom is back in an inpatient mental health facility. And their time is ticking down, you know? This is a HUGE step backwards for them and just more uncertainty for A. And for us but we are secondary in this.

I am exhausted from this process. It hurts my heart every day. But I love this child fiercely. She is the child that I was meant to have, for however long I am lucky enough to have her. I know I’ve said that before… news flash… I’ll probably say it again (although at this rate, it will be on her 10th birthday). As soon as we come to accept the situation, the outcome, it all changes. My head spins on a daily basis, I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow or next week or next month. I want to protect her from it all but what am I protecting her from? Her family? Her future? Her genetics?

I never imagined that this process would raise more questions than it does answers. I don’t know what I expected, in hindsight. But I’ve learned more about myself in the past year than I ever thought I would. And I’m not going to lie… not all of it was pretty. I am far, far more selfish than I ever knew. I am petty. I am jealous. I am impatient and I am spoiled fucking rotten. But I’m also kinder than I knew. My mama bear instincts run deep and strong. I’m determined and loyal and fiercely protective of my pack. I’m more flexible. I’m sillier. And sometimes, I’m even the cool mom.

Fine. That happened ONCE. And she has no idea why she was wearing a Run DMC shirt so it probably didn’t even count.

I have no idea what the next year will bring. With A. Me. Patrick. Work. Home. No clue. But the experiences of the past year have made me want to do something for the coming year. So I’ve decided to give myself a theme for my 37th year. An idea to guide my life, my actions and my intentions. I am an Unbreakable Fighter. I will be a fighter for A. I will be a fighter for my marriage, for my well-being, for my health, for my future. I will not allow uncertainty or disappointment to break me.

I am a Fighter.

I am Unbreakable.

Fighter

Published by PaintingChef on 10 Jun 2014

Because you just never know what will end up being a good fit.

All my life I have been a creative person. And while I never really settled on one particular thing as my best outlet of expression, I don’t think that anyone who knew me for more than 5 minutes would ever imagine that I would be in a field that didn’t involve some degree of creativity.

So imagine the surprise of… well… all the people when I agreed to come work for my father as his office manager. Accounting. Human Resources. In a nutshell, a very dry and seemingly analytical job. And it is. On the surface, my job is about numbers. Debits and credits. Health insurance. Office management. Not exciting.

And I’ve never really admitted this to anyone but I took this job not for me but for my husband. He was slowly suffocating in his previous job. Giant, global corporation. Day in and day out, unpredictable hours, tiny raises, little to now recognition, meetings to plan meetings. He was being crushed by it. And coming back home to work for my father’s company was like a second chance. On the surface, it was a pay cut (for him… quite a nice raise from me but then again… I was working part time so that wasn’t exactly hard to do.) But I was terrified to take this job for so many reasons. I’m bad at math. I wasn’t sure about working for my dad. I was apprehensive to move back home. The idea of sitting at a desk day in… day out… I really wasn’t too sure if this was going to be a good idea. But we were a package deal and for him, for his happiness, I would happily do this.

I was shocked at how much I liked it. I think that I underestimated the fulfillment I would get from knowing that I had a direct impact on a company every single day. And the longer we are here, as we drive around this area where we both grew up, I am able to point to things and say “Our company built that. That is our foundation. That is our retaining wall. Those are our sidewalks.” I LIKE that feeling.

And no… my contributions to those buildings aren’t immediately visible. I didn’t design a wall or figure out how to make that foundation strong. But I helped the people who built them. I impacted their families. I worked with them to get health insurance. I helped them with their vacations and sick days. I sat down with them to talk about benefits and retirement plans. I filled out forms so that they could qualify for car loans and mortgages. And when things went badly for them, when they had to talk to me about wage garnishments or child support, I did it with compassion and without judgment. Those are MY guys out there working. And many of them have been at this company longer than I have. They are my extended family and I would do whatever I could for them.

So as we drive around and point to something, yes, I see it as something that I helped build. Because MY guys built it. And I hope that while they were building it, I was able to make their lives a little easier. I never thought that I would find satisfaction in this job. But every day, I love it a little more. I’m good at this. Mostly… my organization leaves something to be desired. And… sometimes I get distracted (right this second, for example… I have a stack of invoices next to me that need to be entered and I’ve made it through the “H’s” but then for some reason this whole thing popped into my head and I decided to get it out before I lost it) but having the freedom to get distracted is invaluable. I’m here alone right now. Patrick and dad are both out at jobsites. My aquarium is bubbling happily behind me (except for that one dead fish… I know he’s in there somewhere and I know he’s dead because I haven’t seen him in a week but I CAN NOT FIND THAT LITTLE ASSHOLE… or what’s left of him at this point, I suppose). I have Netflix open also because everyone has watched all of Orange is the New Black but me and I’m not even done with episode ONE! I’m such a slacker. I could have watched it this weekend but there was sun and lake and pool and now I’m tired and bordering on sunburnt but oh so very content.

It’s not even in the same universe as the contribution I imagined myself having. But I’m part of something. It matters whether or not I show up every day. I may have taken this job more for Patrick than for me but I’ve gotten so much more out of it than I ever thought I would. And for some reason, I just felt like I needed to get that out and remind myself that there are other things in my life besides the batshit crazy roller coaster we find ourselves on with being foster parents.

(Oh yeah… about that… her parents are no longer allowed to have unsupervised visits with her. Long story and I would love to share the details but suffice it to say, everyone in the room at the last meeting left there shell-shocked because that outcome was NOT what anyone was expecting. But only two of us were happy about it…)

But we build stuff. And the guys that build that stuff are my people and I take care of them. Here is what my people built…

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