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I’m still here.

I’ve missed you. You were my private mespace. My notsosecret healing space. My growingup place. And just like that, I abandoned you for a bigger, crazier, chaotic free-for-all.

But I’m not gone forever and evermore. Just for a little while.

Until then, visit me at the other place. And read this story about another crazy, little joint I loved.

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And just like that, it’s August.

I have much to say and no time to say it. I am starting a project right now that’s consuming my life. It’s called the Awesome Project. I’ll have to spend a lot of time over there writing. But I will still write here because this is my secret space, my you-and-me space, my me-and-me space (cause I still can’t tell if you even exist in space). But if you will, again, allow me a curtsy and a sweep of the hat: I’ll be back soon. I’ll even let you know about the other place when it’s got legs to run on.

Legs that look like this:

You are beautiful.

One Comment

  1. Angel says:

    Your legs look just like that.

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It’s in the eyes.

My father wears a bow tie and a blond crew cut. He grins at the camera. He is ten years old in 1957 Woodland Hills, California.

I picture my grandmother behind the camera. She was regal. She was flawed.

My father grins at her. He loved her so much.

I would look at this photograph growing up, seeing my sister’s eyes shaped in his young face, my brothers smile in his shy grin. I loved the little boy-dad.

Last Saturday, my cousin’s five-year-old son walked down the aisle at his parents’ wedding. He walked straight, head up, tightly gripping the ring pillow, tuxedo bow tie straight.

It was my father’s photograph come to life.

My cousin’s eyes crinkled small when she smiled at her son. She looks like my grandmother. She looked beautiful in her wedding dress.

My uncle walked my cousin down the aisle. I grinned. My dad will walk my sister down her aisle soon. I cried.

My aunt, my beautiful aunt saved my uncle from himself. My uncle calls her his soul mate, quit his job to spend as much of his life with her. She has Parkinson’s. Slowly, slowly, her body slips away from her. Her mind is there, all there. She remembers everything, my uncle tells me. But she shakes. She trembles. She can hardly stand. She has trouble speaking. Her mind ranges far and wide. Her body traps her in a wheelchair. My beautiful aunt.

My cousin, so shy, so sweet, is married now. When I was 7 and she 3, we gamboled over her farm. Her peeking from behind my aunt at her strange cousins. Me so jealous that she had horses to ride and chickens to feed.

Her brothers are handsome men. Blue-eyed, tall men. Two of them have sons of their own. All this family. All my family. The sons do not know who I am. But they grinned up at me, traces of me in their smiles.

When I had to leave early to catch a train, my aunt, mothering me, refused to let me go alone. My uncle must walk me, she called out, stiltingly. I took the father away from the bride, and he is so much like my own father when he took my arm in his. We walked down a street, and over a bridge. He talked to me of finding God, how happy he is studying the bible. He talks so much more than his younger brother, my father ever would. My father wakes every morning at five to study his bible. But he rarely speaks of it. I’ll wake some nights when I’m visiting home. I’ll sneak out for a glass of milk, and find my father starting his day with his God. He doesn’t talk about it much, though.

My uncle preaches at a church in Virginia. He told me to come hear him preach soon. The train came. He kissed my cheek. He told me he’d sing me gospels when I come. I jumped on the step. My uncle couldn’t wait for me to visit. My uncle started singing the gospels right then and there. I stand on the step. The train conductor pulled out a harmonica and started playing. The conductor played. My uncle sang. I wanted to cry and I wanted to laugh. The conductor hopped on board and the train rolled out of the station.

2 Comments

  1. Angel says:

    Dads make the world go round and round. They do it with their little boy eyes and they do it with their sadness. They do it with their love of you and their love of God and their fear of both. This is the Uncle’s Gospel.

  2. Andre says:

    Fathers really are wonderful. Now that I am a young man at the age of twenty-seven I’ve started calling mine “Daddy” again. He acts like he hates it, but I think on the inside he really really hates it.

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That sweet-used-to-be.

This year I left and was left by:

A plastic trash can named Momo,
Three mustaches,
An angry old lady who was my landlord,
A happy old lady who was my grandmother,
The aristocratic bar,
An orange newspaper,
A man with an eagle tattoo,
The sisters Ghosh,
A gin drinker, and
A chai drinker.

The list goes on. And I go on. Leaving, leaving.

There were stretches of space and time that, brittle and fine, snapped apart. There were hatchets taken to you and me, bloody and brutal and sudden. There were surgical incisions, premeditated and planned. They all ache.

I passed you on the street last night. I was so happy to see you. I reached out to say hello. I stopped before I said your name.

I thought about the night we lay on your floor, exhausted after packing up your apartment. We had too much to say to sleep. We talked until the gray overtook the night.

You turned at the corner of the street. I was wrong. You weren’t you. It was just another stranger strolling along.

2 Comments

  1. Angel says:

    I would be that stranger and I would say hello even when you forgot my name. I would be that hatchet and I would snap the time until all we had was dust and Excuses.

  2. jambottt says:

    you’re so good.

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Two moments and a conclusion.

Moment #1:

I hail a taxi and I pile into the back seat. I cry.

The Ethiopian driver says, “Humans. Good thing happen. Bad thing happen. People gotta be strong. You gotta be strong. And you gotta relax. You keep on going. Today will be a good day. And then it will be a bad day. And then it will be good again.”

I thank him. He says, “When the people are hurt, my heart is also suffering.”

Moment #2:

On a sidewalk stoop, I cry.

A homeless man has been watching me from across the street. He crosses over and sits down.

“I’ve been on the streets for 30 years,” he says. “Been shot at and hit twice. Been knocked over the head with a bottle so many times I can’t remember. Came off crack and broke my body nearly with drinking. But the hardest thing of all, the thing that just makes your heart crack straight down? It’s love. Nothing hurts so much as love.”

I thank him. He nods and walks off.

Conclusion: I should cry in public more often.

5 Comments

  1. Tron says:

    I think that conclusion is reasonable.

  2. Lee says:

    how good. wisdom is around us!

  3. Keith Bedford says:

    great lesson. thanks for sharing. a good cry if good for the soul. hope all is well.

  4. Melissa says:

    Keith, all is very well and the world is very much around me! Kiss.

  5. allison says:

    Good conclusion, but why not get more radical? Have a full blown tantrum in public, it might get you locked up for the night, but think about all the profound lessons you would learn!

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Maybe baby.

The biological clock is a myth. Your uterus does not suddenly start knocking on your stomach, “Hello! Where’s my baby?” That doesn’t happen. But what does happen has been happening since preschool when all the cool kids got Twinkies for dessert and I had apple slices: it’s peer pressure pure and simple.

I know I’d make a terrible mother right now. I don’t want kids right now. (Doth the lady protest too much? NO! Look at how I managed with a couple of kittens. How’d I do with a couple of kids?)

But I am awash in babies. My three college roommates? All knocked up. My high school crush? Working on number two. I received three, yes, THREE baby shower invitations in the mail on the same day.

I just finished paying off my bridesmaids’ dresses. I am not prepared to start buying things like the Boppy Newborn Booster Pillow or the Ivory Kiddopotamus Snuzzler.

I don’t want a kid and I feel totally left out. It’s like they all have the iPhone and I’m still stuck on a Blackberry.

That’s actually true. I am still stuck on a Blackberry. I don’t have an infant or an iPhone! My life sucks.

My three college roommates and I have kept up an email chain for years. We all live in different cities around the world and, yet, we all still want to know what’s transpiring in each other’s lives.

I just found out there’s a second chain going on: the three in the family way are discussing how to avoid stretch marks. I triumph my smooth stomach. I guzzle my wine. I slip into my skinny jeans. But really? I just want to be included on that stupid email chain.

I know there are women out there like me: intent on having a few more years of barrenness–I mean freedom–before the conversation centers on diaper brands and preschool reservations. I’m just not sure where they are.

I moved specifically to a supposedly young area of town in DC: the H Street Corridor. It’s cheap enough for young artists to move to. It’s got music clubs and dance theaters. It’s supposed to be punkers and burlesque dancers and rock and rollers.

Guess what? My next door neighbor on the right side, my next door neighbor on the left side, and my next door neighbor above me ALL HAVE BABIES.

This weekend, the moms stood on my front porch and traded tips on how to get the tots in bed like they were state secrets.

I was simultaneously bored to death and super jealous I couldn’t join the conversation.

I think I’m going to ask my friend if I can borrow his five-year-old for a few years. Just until she turns seven. Or until she cries.  Whichever comes first.

7 Comments

  1. Sarge says:

    You need to talk my The Dad. He’ll make you feel A LOT better.

  2. Sarge says:

    (and worse at the same time)

  3. Heidi says:

    Kids suck….and suck the life out of you…they are the best and worst thing that will ever happen to you….dont do it and feel good about it….

  4. Tati says:

    Mel! I don’t have an iphone either. But, now I might get one so I can time my contractions (they have an app). Just kidding!

  5. Anne says:

    Babies? Who’s having babies? Totally overrated.

  6. Eric says:

    Sign me up for a Kiddopotamus Snuzzler. I don’t know, you seem to have some good advice on the baby accessories…

  7. Melissa says:

    Taunters. All of you. Go crib shopping already.

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Adelaide.

My grandmother had giant brown saucer eyes and giant brown curls as a little girl. She never smiled in her baby photos. She just stared at you with those big brown eyes. As a young woman, small beside the man whose hand she would eventually hold for more than 71 years, she never smiled big and wide.

But when she did smile it would be softly, sweetly and then shoo us out of the kitchen. The kitchen was her fiefdom. Her kitchen and her sewing room. On holidays, I would sneak into her pantry for the green gummy candy she always kept stocked for the bevy of grandchildren spilling down her stairs, playing on her terrace, banging on the organ piano. I would sneak into the pantry for the candy, but really I would want to watch her lording over the feast preparation for Christmas or Thanksgiving. Eighteen mouths to feed. Potatoes to mash. Turkeys to baste. Her daughters swirled around her in aprons she had sewn.

I wondered when the day would come that I would have to don an apron and take up the mantle of femininity she wore so easily. Like so many woman of her time, that cloak hid an entrepreneur, a businesswoman, a mostly single mother raising three children as her husband traveled the world for work.

She fit every single storybook stereotype of a grandmother. She put ten thousand times more butter and cheese in everything than my mom did. She let us eat two cookies and as much candy as we wanted. She had such soft skin and smelled like lavender.  She had a secret toy room. She had a secret doll room. Just big enough for her grandchildren to sneak into.

She had the whitest, shiniest head of hair. My mother would tell me my hair would turn that color one day, when I was old. I loved to think of my hair looking like my grandmother’s. It shone out in a room full of gray heads. A pure white beacon.

My grandmother was always old. I never knew her—or can’t remember her—with brown hair. But one day, she was suddenly much older. She was so much smaller than me. She became a great-grandmother. She wore purple every day. And she would smile that sweet soft smile as my cheek pressed up against her papery-thin skin and I breathed in that lavender smell.

4 Comments

  1. Anne says:

    Why are you making me cry….

  2. Melissa says:

    That’s not me. That’s your crazy baby hormones.

  3. Rachel Lohmeyer says:

    Hello Melissa I was the other reluctant flier in row 12 the other day doing the up and down aerobics all the way across the country. Thank you for this beautiful picture of your grandmother. I feel like i know her now. I know you had to spring from someone wonderful too. i pray that someday a grandchild will write something this lovely about me. How blessed you and i both are to have had abuelitas to love us, feed us, and give us their memory with a simple smell of lavender. I will look for you in the post! God bless!

  4. Melissa says:

    Rachel, thank you so much for distracting me during the flight and for liking my post. If only all my flights sat me next to someone as kind as you!

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Merry Excuse to Wear Green and Drink Too Much Day!

My St. Paddy’s Day story that could very well be an urban legend, as my sister has been known to tell me a tall tale or two:

Her friend’s friends (“really, I swear this happened, Melissa!”) went camping in the Sierra Nevadas, as young Californians are wont to do. Being appropriately granola-and-nuts type folks, they brought along some entertainment of the fungi variety.  You know, it was a celebration of nature and all. The gang of five drank some Bacchanalian grape juice, and ate some of those aforementioned fungi and got, well, rather tripped out.

They started dancing around the bonfire they had made and communing with the spirits of the forest. At one point, one of the young lasses snuck off into the woods to use the loo. While there, a tiny voice came from behind a tree: “I’m lost!” She peered into the darkness and saw: A leprechaun!

“What are you doing here?” she exclaimed.

“I’m lost,” the little sprite said again. “I can’t find home.”

She was very, very confused. But she also was very, very excited: she had found a leprechaun!

“I’ll take you to my house. You can come stay with me!”

She hurried back to her friends. She told the leprechaun to wait just outside the firelight’s circle while she told her friends about her discovery. At first, they were disbelieving, until she said, “You can come out now!” And a little leprechaun walked into their midst.

“A leprechaun!” “We found a leprechaun!” The party started hooting and dancing. The leprechaun said again, “I’m lost!”

They gave the leprechaun some of their food and then started dancing around the fire pit again. The leprechaun danced with them in the flickering flames. It was the best camping trip ever.

Finally, the leprechaun started to grow sleepy. The friends made a tiny bed for him in the corner of a tent and tucked him away and continued their epic party.

The next morning, the gang slowly woke bleary-eyed in the dawn light. A couple snuggled together in a sleeping bag near the ashes of the fire and whispered to each other: “Did we think we found a leprechaun last night?” “What was that?” “We were so high.”

They lay for a few seconds, relishing in the hazy memories of the night before. And then they looked at each other. What the hell did they find last night?

They jumped up and ran to the tent. Inside, tucked in its little nest lay the leprechaun: a five-year-old wearing a Cub Scout uniform.

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I’m a failure.

Please forgive me. This writing thing is new for me. I know it’s been like 872 days since I last posted. And, let’s just be honest, I’ve been kind of slacking for some time on this whole thing. But I am making a public avowal to change my errant ways and to plead my two readers (Anne and Eric, I’m sorry!) to keep holding on. I swear I’ll be blogging bigger and better soon.

In the meantime, be slayed by sweetness:

hotdog

Posts like this are incredibly obnoxious.

9 Comments

  1. Anne says:

    Ummm…I will forgive you this time. You know I can’t be mad when I’m looking at a puppy.

  2. Melissa says:

    It was SUCH a cheap ploy to distract you. I’m so glad it worked.

  3. Sarge says:

    You are only a failure if you did not intend this blog to become an epicenter of baby animal idolatry. Which it is. For now. And I love it.

  4. 244 Bairen,the guy is obviously lacking the intelligence and will make a very bad lawyer. By my calculations, he’s driving a car that gets 11 mpg. ROFL. If he’s spending $500 bucks a week on gas, he could easily buy a used scooter or motorcycle to cut his bill down. I see bikes for sale for 2 weeks worth of his gas bills. He’d cover that margin in about a month.

  5. any time you add solar energy it saves you money in the long run. we paid about 18,000 to do my friends house, and through the years they have saved lots. As prices soar, they will save even more. your smart to consider it.

  6. Thanks for the comments guys!! I was happy to take one for the team to find out what all the fuss about JB was about but I won’t be doing it again . It’s someone else’s turn extra time lol. My daughter took both of the pictures above at each concert…the one of David is one of my favorite pictures of him!! That smile makes me go weak in the knees…Justin’s abs did nothing for me! He had a cocky “look at me” attitude. Give me shy, humble, heart skips a beat flirty David any day <333

  7. This is a little naive as we simply do not know what is going on inside Syria. That, moreover, is not to defend Bashar Assad who, like Omar al-Bashir, wouldl appear to be …. well, two bashers. Nevertheless, the West’s, Israel’s, and the GCC’s agenda in Syria is particularly obvious.This is ultimately about Iran, it is about oil, and it is about geopolitical interests. If it were to be otherwise, not only would Omar a-Bashir and Bashar Assad be facing charges in the Hague, but so too would Uganda’s, Museveni, Rwanda’s Kagame, al-Khalifi in Bahrain and a few others …… Bush, Cheney, Blair, perhaps!

  8. terri #22-I also listened to that radio show and Jon came across very well. When he talked about Kate, he was very nice and didn't throw her under the bus, like she does him. He seemed very upbeat and in a good place. It was a good interview.

  9. Min veninde trådte for cirka et halvt år siden, på mine ellers ELSKEDE skullcandy hørebøffer, og det er lidt træls at gå rundt med kæmpe hørebøffer, hvor kun den ene bøf er saftig (/spiller musik) høhø..Jeg kunne godt tænke mig sådan et par Aviators i chrome/black

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My hallowed home.

The first time I came to D.C. my parents hid Easter eggs in our hotel room. I found one in the bathtub. I was so happy the Easter bunny had been able to find us. We walked in the shadows of the monuments and everything seemed so grand.

The second time I came, I fell in love with the spires of Georgetown. A red brick path led to an old stone building where all the offices had slanted ceilings and fireplaces.

The third time I came, I walked through Capitol Hill with a glittering press badge on. I leaned over the press box and watched the senators sigh and applaud and sneer beneath me. The ceilings all were vaunted and the floors all gleamed.

The fourth time I came, today, yesterday, I passed by an elementary school and stepped over a used condom. A man sat next to me on the bus reeking off urine. The buses filled with people heading to pay their gas bills, fighting off the biting cold. Overweight women used canes to make their stunted way through aisles and aisles of junk food. Beautiful women in high heels and black dresses stumbled in the crosswalks, drunk on a Saturday evening. I couldn’t find any brick pathways. The monuments seemed small in the gray sky.

One Comment

  1. valerie says:

    ‘the monuments seemed small’–so true
    thankfully, you see.

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