Monday, June 29, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 30 ~ Beauty

I had a few other subjects in mind for this one, and had no intention of sharing the picture I am sharing for today at any point in the challenge until this morning.

There is so much beauty around us in the world, even in the worst of times.

One of the places I've learned to see beauty in recent years is in the mirror. It's not been an easy journey, and I've spent the majority of my life beating myself up in my head. I wasn't blonde enough. I wasn't thin enough. My skin wasn't clear enough. My hair wasn't curly. I wasn't enough.

Then there came a time when I knew I wasn't enough.

A long time.

I was in a bad place.

Thankfully, I dragged myself out of that hole.

I'm still not blonde or thin. My hair still won't hold a curl no matter what I do to it. My skin has worked out some deal with the devil where I get to have acne and wrinkles, so I've given up any hope of ever having nice skin.

But I've made my peace with it, all of it. I've learned to embrace who I am in this moment in time, forgive myself for the things I'm not great at and love myself anyway.

It took a long time to get here, but I'm finally comfortable in my own entirely flawed body.

And, dare I say it?

I think that's beautiful.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 29 ~ Wild

This is one of the days heavily subject to interpretation, so have fun with it.

I chose a picture of my 6 year old, in what truly is his natural environment. This kid would never come inside if I didn't make him. This was the day after he got his walking boot off, up in the mountains, where he immediately began to climb trees and scale rocky hillsides and jump off of all the things.

This boy, and this setting...wild.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 28 ~ Sunrise/Sunset

There are so many opportunities around here to capture amazing sunsets because of the mountains, but I usually try to soak in the moment without worrying about trying to take a picture. Every so often, though, I remember to take one.

This was from last week.

Friday, June 26, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 27 ~ Water

Always one of my favorite days in the contest, water is something near and dear to my soul. I'm an Aquarius, so I suppose that makes sense.

Anyway, this year, I've chosen a picture I took late one night, staring down the business end of a pint glass.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

friendship and loss and the lessons we learn

As I sit here on the front porch typing this, my daughter is willing the minutes in this day to stretch out for an eternity. This day is one she's been approaching with dread for weeks now, ever since the decision was made and shared. 

Tomorrow they will pack up the last of their things and move far, far away from here.

She's across the street, twirling her hair, watching her brother ride his scooter around in circles, talking about all the things ten year old girls talk about with one of her best friends in the world, knowing what comes in the morning.

My Mini Me.
Even makes the same faces I do....
These two have known one another since they were first learning to walk. They toddled around the neighborhood together, trying desperately to keep up with their big sisters. They drove the little powerwheels jeep so fast they spun the tires bald, their blonde hair flowing in the wind behind them. We used to nervously laugh about what it would be like when they were driving for real.

And someday, they will both be driving, it just won't be together.

The older sisters who've spent years walking aimlessly around the neighborhood talking about boys and giggling and then texting each other will have to figure out the rest of this adolescence thing without one another.

The older pair are relegated to saying their goodbyes over the telephone lines. A previously scheduled trip coincided with the last week before they would pack everything up and move away, and the goodbyes had to come before it was time, before it seemed real and final, before the gravity of it all had settled in.

Maybe it's better that way.

I don't know.

The younger sisters are doing their best to make this day last forever, though, squeezing all the time they can out of a day that will end whether they want it to or not.

My daughter, the feeler of all feelings, doesn't want her friend to go. She doesn't want her to move away, afraid they will never see one another again.

And the painful truth that I've lived too many times is that they might not. I don't want to give her too much false hope about the future. I don't want her to believe that things aren't going to change, because I know that they are. I can't tell her with any degree of certainty that she will ever spend another lazy afternoon lying on the trampoline eating ice pops with one of her best friends in the whole wide world.

It could happen, sure. It's far more likely that it won't.

We moved here, I've told her, leaving all that we knew behind us. We did what they're doing almost exactly ten years ago. All our friends, almost all of our family, left behind in the place we once called home.

Sometimes you have to do what you have to do for your family, even if it means leaving a place full of people you love.

And they have to do what they have to do.

And we have to let them.

We have to say goodbye and good luck and we love you and we will miss you. We have to swallow our pride and wipe away our tears and say thank you for being a part of our lives for the time that we had.

And we have to do it with grace.

It's a hard lesson, but one necessary to learn in life. Repeatedly.

Growing up, I was dealt (for reasons I'll never understand) this exact loss on multiple occasions. More than once, the person my world revolved around announced that they were leaving, and then not long afterwards they were gone, leaving a little hole in my heart.

Sure, there were letters and sometimes there were phone calls, but there weren't lazy afternoons lying on trampolines anymore. There weren't long aimless walks around the neighborhood giggling about boys. There weren't the moments our parents had once dreaded when we'd actually be out there driving together.

Those things never happened because my best friends always moved away.

I wasn't much different in age than she is now the first time it happened.

It's no wonder I have issues when it comes to making friends, opening up to other people. I tend to let people in and have them, one way or another, pick up and leave.

It's breaking my heart to watch it happen to her, this daughter of mine, the one most like me.

There will be this hole in her heart that will never be filled just exactly the way it's been up until now. She'll make new friends, she may even find someone worthy of ice pops and trampolines someday, but it won't be the same.

Because it won't be her.

People like us, like my daughter and like me, we love a little harder. We care a little more. We worry more, for certain. And losses hit us a little harder.

I hope that she's more resilient than her mother was. I hope that she's more resilient than her mother still is.

I hope she doesn't let this toughen the skin she wears, that she doesn't erect walls to keep other people out.

I hope that knowing she could lose them someday doesn't keep her from letting other people in.

I hope that even though she'll be mourning the loss of this constant presence in her life, she'll celebrate more for having had it at all.

When the time comes and that truck pulls away, I'll hug my little girl and I'll tell her that it will be okay. Maybe not today, maybe not for a while, but it will.

And no matter what happens, no one can ever take those memories away from her.

How lucky I am to have something that 
makes saying goodbye so hard. 
~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 26 ~ Joy

So we do this thing in our family where if one of the kids gets to do something super awesome, the rest of them get "super happy fun day". 

This super happy fun day included a trip to Krispy Kreme, and was the first time that Freckles had ever tried a donut there.

Needless to say, she approved.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 25 ~ Scar/Reminder

This is another new theme to the challenge this year, though I knew what I'd be using as my picture almost immediately.

This is the side of my knee in all it's pasty glory.

There are a few scars on this knee, but the largest ones all are from the same incident, one that represented the night I hit bottom. Literally, and figuratively.

I wasn't the only one down there that day.

It's ugly and real, but it's a good reminder of where I've been and how far I've come.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 23 ~ Up

This one is simple enough. Take a picture of something that says "up".

I took this picture a few weeks ago while we were hanging out in a local outdoor mall watching a street performer. I just adore the trees that line this walkway, and the sky was gorgeous set behind them this day.

I tend to find myself looking up a little more often this time of year.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 22 ~ Filter

This is the day to experiment with all the funky filters and settings on your phone.

This is a picture I took of my oldest the day before he left for camp. I cropped and tinted it, then ran it through a sketch art filter.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hey, Dad...

Hey, Dad...

I wrote a long post just now about Father's Day and all the reasons that this day seems to sting more than your birthday or the day you died, about how I suck at getting cards because I can't physically will my feet to move in the card aisle anymore, about being envious of the people who still have their fathers with them, but simultaneously craving their stories and pictures as a celebration of the time they have together.

It was long and sappy and wallowy and you would have absolutely hated it. 

It really was terrible.

Father's day starts in a few minutes and I'm sitting here alone. Pecking away at the keyboard.

If you were still here and I'd written something like that and you'd read it, you would have called me to make sure I was okay. It was that bad.

So, I did what I had to do and I deleted it.

Decided to write this instead, hope that you have a wifi connection in the afterlife.

(You never did care much about cards and that manufactured holiday nonsense anyway...)

I guess I should catch you up on things around here since it's been a little while since my last letter to you.

The Oldest is starting high school soon. He's grown up so much since you left that I don't think you'd even recognize him these days. He is starting the biomedical program, wants to be an ICU nurse. Because of you. He's fallen completely in love with music and tried out for the bass line a few weeks ago. It looks like he's getting tagged for fifth bass (the big giant drum) since he's the tallest one out there. My little boy is the tallest one out there. I guess he's not so little anymore. You'd be so proud of him.

Freckles flew on an airplane all by herself today for the first time. She was so nervous, but she did it. She's spending time with her uncle, and I'm sure that if she listens for it just right, she'll hear your voice come out of him sometimes. I've heard it. Hell, everyone has heard it. She's playing his clarinet, you know...the one that you ordered special all those years ago. I bet you didn't think it would have a second life, but it has. She's taking care of it. I promise. She's firmly between being a little girl and being a teenager right now, in those years with all the eyerolling and sighing. You'd laugh if you were here, if I ever told you the things she does that make me crazy, and then you'd remind me of how I was when I was her age.

Mini Me has turned into a fish this summer. We finally got her back in the pool, and she's a natural at it. She's pushing herself in a lot of ways, she's growing up and figuring out how to navigate the world she lives in. She's still my emotional one, I think she always will be. She's still the one that talks to me about you the most often. She feels more, she loves more, she just misses you more. You two always did have a special connection. I think you always will.

Little Boy still terrifies me on a daily basis. He hasn't met a tree or wall he didn't want to climb yet. He jumps off of everything and wants to be a ninja. He learned a long time ago how to use his charm, and he's refined that skill over the years. When he knows he's being naughty - he gets this little sparkle in his eyes that reminds me so much of you.

Then there's the littlest one, the one you never got a chance to meet. He's 9 months old now, which just seems impossible. He's crawling and thinking about walking already. He's stubborn and vocal and a complete mama's boy. You'd just adore him.

As for me, I'm doing okay. We bought a used car recently and it was weird not picking up the phone to call you and tell you all about it. Part of me still feels like I'm not old enough to make decisions like that without getting your input. Part of me still forgets sometimes that you're gone, and for a split second my brain tells me that I should call you. I may not be able to technically tell you anymore, but I'm still talking. Because I'm always talking.

Always with the talking.

I'm still writing, but that's different too these days. I had a few websites I was writing for and it was awesome for a while. Then the baby came and he needed me in a way I've never had to deal with before. He had awful reflux and has been calling the shots around here since he was born. That would amuse you too, my being humbled by a newborn. I don't have much time to write and I'm back to mostly writing for me. Which is good, I suppose. I do it when I get the chance, but I don't stress about it anymore. I'm working on a few books too, though they've pretty much been shelved for the summer since trying to get anything done with five kids is just about impossible.

You'd tell me that none of that matters as much as taking care of them anyway.

You'd tell me that I can always write later but they'll only be little for a while.

You'd remind me to stop worrying about the past, stop worrying about the future. Tell me to live in the present.

The way you always did.

Sometimes, when I'm sleeping, I swear that you're still telling me these things in my dreams. You tend to show up more frequently when I need you to, even if my subconscious is the only way it happens these days.

I miss you. I miss you more on days like this one.

We're heading out to take Mr. Hive to a few local breweries for Father's Day tomorrow. I do so wish that he'd started brewing earlier, back when you were still here. I wish the two of you could have shared that together. He's changed a lot since the last time you saw him, enough that you'd do a double take...but I'm not just talking about physical stuff. He's different. You'd be pretty proud of him too.

And you'd laugh if I told you that sometimes, when he opens his mouth, I swear that I hear your voice come out.

We miss you, Dad, and we love you so much it hurts.

Happy Father's Day.

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 21 ~ Hands

This was taken on my birthday this year. My hand and the hand of my youngest, the one I found out I was pregnant with on my birthday the year before.

not then. not now. not ever.

the afternoon sunlight streaming in through the stained glass windows

she waits at the start of an endless aisle

and breathes

the others walk before her

she takes a deep breath

no idea what she's going towards

she thinks she knows

her father whispers in her ear

she smiles

there will be no running away today

or ever

even when she felt like she was supposed to

love told her to stay

to wait

she walks to the end

he is there


so sure

both so naive

they have no idea

they've been through so much already

yet have no clue what lies before them

there will be joy and hope for a while

it will be stolen


more than once

there will be health

but there will be more sickness

there will be undoing

there will be decisions to make 

and day

they will choose love over fear

they will save themselves

and each other

they will choose hope

they will find their way back

to the end of the aisle

there will be no running away

not then

not now

not ever 

Happy anniversary, my love

Even knowing all I know, 
even enduring all that we have, 
even feeling the pain I've felt,
 even then, 
I'd do it again,
if it brought us here.

I love you.

Friday, June 19, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 20 ~ Love

This has been one of the themes in the challenge since I started it, and is always one of my personal favorites.

This is my oldest and my youngest. Separated by 13 years, though there are times you'd never know it. The Oldest is the baby's godfather.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 19 ~ Typography

This is a new day in the challenge this year, and it is one that I hope you get out there and have some fun with! Typography has to do with lettering and the arrangement of them to communicate information and be aesthetically pleasing.

There are the letters around that are intentional, and the ones that are created by things in nature and the world around us. Find some of them and capture them today.

This is a letter that I made for my youngest's room. He has a Star Wars theme, and his first name begins with an A. This was my first attempt at decoupage, and we ended up doing his entire dresser this way. It's pretty badass if I say so myself.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

9 & 17, part deux

A long time ago, what seems like an eternity ago now, I wrote a post about something that a friend of mine once told me that she'd been told by someone else even longer before then.

The basis of the post was a statement made about marriage, something to the effect that the 9th and 17th years of marriage are, for whatever reason, the hard ones.

If you can survive those two years, this person reasoned, then you could survive anything.

At the time, I laughed it off as a random anecdote, some numbers given false attribution, false significance that might hold water for an occasional couple, but that probably had no basis in reality beyond that.

Oh, how little I knew. I just didn't know that at the time, of course.

As it turns out, I didn't know much about anything back then.

The 9th year in our marriage ended up being one holding a few potentially catastrophic events. It was almost the undoing. It could easily have been.

We did survive it, sure...but the aftermath of the things that happened that year would go on to affect us for many, many years to come.

There were times I didn't think we'd make it this far. Times I was sure we wouldn't.

This year, we'll celebrate our 17th anniversary. In just a few days time, actually, that date on the calendar will roll around again, and the people we are now in this year bear almost no resemblance to the ones who I thought I was writing about at year 9, or the ones that were married 17 years ago.

I mean, sure we sort of look like those people. There's a degree of physical familiarity, but make no mistake about it. We're just different now, individually and together.

I want to say that we're better now, that we're more evolved. I don't know if we're better. I think we are. We're certainly more real. We're survivors of this thing called marriage with the scars to prove all that we've been through. We've learned more about each other and ourselves in the way that only experience can teach.

I'm not flippant anymore about the things people who've endured marriage longer than we have say about it. I don't dismiss the nuggets of wisdom passed down by well meaning people. I don't. I have a healthy respect for so much these days.

I lived long enough to learn that I didn't have any idea what I thought I knew.

It's humbling. Grounding.

In this process, though, there is growth. Tremendous growth. The kind that takes every ounce of effort you can give and hurts every single step of the way.

He's not the man I married anymore and I'm not the woman he married. 

There's no way we could be after all that we've been through, but we wouldn't want to be the people we once were anymore anyhow.

Those people were deeply flawed. They no longer exist because they weren't meant for this world.

We were.

It took us a long time to get here. Those years between 9 and 17 weren't pretty ones. They were ugly and hate filled and worse, but without having gone through all that we did, we wouldn't be these people now.

And these people? The ones here today?

They are pretty damn amazing.

They're even better together.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Hive.

I think we finally figured this marriage thing out.

I love you.

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 18 ~ Sign

This one can be interpreted a few ways, I suppose, but I decided to go literal this time. This is one of the old signs outside a theater in Boulder. I didn't realize it, but we happened to walk by just a few minutes before the memorial services for this man were scheduled to begin inside.

There are signs all around us, literal and figurative. Take a picture of one of them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the OMG THEY DID WHAT TO JON SNOW edition

Calm down.

Seriously. I'll get to Game of Thrones in a minute.

There's other stuff to cover first.

The bebe is cutting a tooth today. Or at least I hope to sweet baby Jesus that he cuts it today because he's been so miserable. You know how doctors like to say things like how when babies are teething, they don't run fevers, and that fevers are only associated with viruses? I call bullshit. There is literally nothing else wrong with this child and he's been hot for days. Drooling all over the place. Diarrhea, probably from all the drooling. He's not eating much, his sleep patterns are all messed up and the tooth is to the point that I can see the entire thing now, it just hasn't cut through the gums yet.

Anyway, the whiny bebe that is constantly attached to me isn't going to give me a whole lot of time to write today, so I need to hurry up.

The Medical Marijana Decision
Here in Colorado, we've had legal medical marijuana for a while now. Recreational marijuana is legal here now as well, but there are (and always have been) caveats about that legality. One of the biggest unanswered questions had to do with the rights of employers to drug test and/or terminate people based on marijuana, particularly in cases of medical usage.

There was a case here dealing with exactly that issue. It's been understood that with recreational marijuana, an employer could terminate an employee even for off hours usage simply because THC stays in the blood stream for weeks after usage and can show up in drug screens even when someone isn't using. Even though usage is legal recreationally, employers still have (and use) the right to terminate employees for drug test failures.

The legal issue here had to do with medical usage, and the specific case involved a man who uses marijuana for medical purposes who was fired from his job for failing a drug test. He'd had a physician's authorization to use marijuana for years, and said that he never used it while he was at work, but was fired anyway.

Colorado state law prohibits firing an employee for engaging in lawful activities, but since marijuana usage is technically in violation of federal law (even though it's legal in the state and the feds aren't enforcing personal usage laws in states that allow it), the court said that he was justifiably fired.

In other words, even in cases where a doctor says that marijuana is the only treatment for a condition a patient has, an employer can still terminate them because of a federal law that isn't enforced within state lines. From a legal standpoint, there is a compelling argument that this presents a conflict between medical privacy and employer rights. The only possible remedy for medical marijuana users in this state now is to hope that the state legislature changes the law regarding lawful activities.

Or the feds could just legalize pot. Insert maniacal laughter.

Yeah, I'm not covering up...


I'm so not linking to the posts I'm about to talk about because I highly suspect that the real reason they're being written is in the hope they'll go viral, which is just a shitty reason to write. I mean, seriously. Have some integrity.

In the past few weeks, I've seen the following:

- A post written by a mother of boys to the girls at the pool, claiming that her "godly" son wants to stay godly, that she knows he's super duper handsome and everything, but it would be awesome if they'd have some self respect and not tempt him with their bodies or come hither looks or flirting. This is disgusting on so many levels that I wouldn't even know where to begin. How about, just as a general rule, we agree not to write open letters to other people's children online? Seems reasonable to me.

- A post written by a mother who wants to know what is so hard about covering up when you're breastfeeding. No really, she wants to know what is so hard about it. Why do the breastfeeders of the world insist on putting their boobs out there in the open and waving them around and OMG was that an areola?!?!?!?! Lord have mercy. Newsflash...I'm not dragging my boobs out for anyone else's entertainment or disgust. I'm feeding my kid. If you accidentally get a peek at my areola, maybe you should stop staring at me. I'm not putting a blanket on my baby's head in the summertime because you can't avert your damn eyes. How I feed my child hasn't a damn thing to do with you.

- A few posts raging at moms who have cool birthday parties for their kids. Raging about goody bags. Raging about fancy cakes and shit. OMG this is why we can't have nice things. Stop doing this. STOP IT. If your kid gets invited to a birthday party that you decide is pretentious and over the top and unnecessary, decline the fucking invitation. Don't have the kid go just so you have ammunition to write a blog post whining about how much this other parent did for their kid. Let other people do whatever they want for their kids' birthdays. No one is telling you what to do at your party. If Pinterest parties make you stabby, don't send your kid to them. Period.

p.s. every single mother I know has things she goes overboard on for her kids, other things she tends to suck at. It's just life, mine included. Let's not nitpick and micromanage each other, okay?

Oh wait....but you want to go viral. I forgot.

p.p.s. going viral sucks.

The problem with cultural appropriation
Part of me, a fairly big part of me, feels like I really shouldn't get to have an opinion at all about Rachel Dolezal because I am white, have always been white, was born white, hold myself out as such and have never once pretended to be anything else. I've also spent large portions of my life being a vocal advocate for people in different racial groups, ethnic groups, genders, sexual orientations and so on than I am...because I understand that it's entirely possible to be an advocate without claiming to be a member of any group.

What bothers me more than anything about this situation isn't the fact that she held herself out as black, or even that she personally feels like that is what she associates with, or that she's come out in the past few days defending all that. What bothers me are the layers of deception it took for her to try and convince the rest of the world.

The lying about her father. The claims that her adopted brothers are somehow her sons. Her history of claiming that she's been the victim of hate crimes. The fact that she sued Howard University for discrimination.

My issues have nothing to do with who she seems to believe she is, they have to do with the lying she did to get to that point in the first place, with the opportunities she likely took from members of the groups she claimed to be a part of.

The story just seems to get stranger and stranger, and I have a feeling that there is even more to it than we know now. At the end of the day, though, I'd argue that instead of worrying about why a white woman seemed to convince not only the world, but herself, that she wasn't white, we should be concerned about the issues she spent her career focused on, the issues like profiling and equality in the justice system and access to educational opportunities.

Every single one of those issues is far more important than how or why one individual felt compelled to do what she did.

Also, a huge element of this story that people seem to be missing is that she may be suffering from some form of mental illness. The court of public opinion seems to have weighed in pretty heavily on her life, one that was, for the most part, private until last week. It's not actually appropriate for anyone to be judging her or discussing what may or may not be wrong with her. We don't know what, if anything, she suffers from. We really have no right to know.

Moving on...

Game of Thrones
I'm about to write about the finale, so if you haven't seen it, stop reading. Do not read this then yell at me.

For serious.

I wholeheartedly expected the internet to have exploded by now over Cersei's walk of shame, but it seems like almost no one is talking about it (save the conversations about the fact that she used a body double...Lena Headey was pregnant when it was shot, and her contract may have excluded full frontal nudity anyway). The scene, a horrendous one to watch, was controversial even in the books. It took a lot of haggling to get it filmed. In a season full of arguments about the portrayal of women, I thought for sure that people would be throwing stones at the show runners for what they put her through in those minutes, that we'd be having lengthy discussions about the role of religion in the shaming of women for sexuality, of the disproportionate punishment she is forced to endure. Something.


All anyone seems to care about is that Jon Snow is dead.

Seriously. No one is even talking about the fact that there was finally full frontal male nudity in the show. Did no one else see the penis??? (Can we get a Khal Drogo cameo for that? Asking for a friend...)

But yeah, Jon Snow is dead and no one cares about anything else.

Well, Jon Snow appears to be dead. Thing is....(and people who've read the books aren't losing their shit for this reason, you know the whole you know nothing thing)....the dead don't necessarily stay dead in the books. Martin tends to resurrect people. I don't actually believe Jon is dead, especially considering Melisandre is going to be bored now without Stannis to control.

For that matter, no one should assume Stannis is dead. Or Myrcella. Or Sansa and Theon.

It's Westeros.

Jon died in the show because Jon died in the books, but Jon could be very alive still at the beginning of the next season. We don't actually have any clue to whether he's alive or dead because Martin hasn't finished the next book yet.

Write, George, write like the wind.

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 17 ~ Music

Music is such a constant part of our lives that choosing something for this prompt tends to be a challenge. In fact...we were actually at the music store yesterday.

I decided to go with the latest instrument to join our family, my son's harmonica.

He just got it for his birthday and took it with him to scout camp.

Monday, June 15, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 16 ~ Symbol

Many, many years ago, I came upon the book The Kissing Hand with my children. To this day, whenever someone is having a hard day, is hesitant about trying something new, is anxious about going to school, or really struggling in any way, I borrow from the wisdom of the book. I write a heart on their hand and kiss it.

About two months ago, my middle son started doing it to my hand.

This is a symbol of the love and support of someone, whether they're occupying the same physical space you are or not. You have a piece of them right beside you, whenever you need it.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 15 ~ Black and White

Always one of my favorite days in the challenge, it tends to be hard to choose a photo.

This is my younger daughter, playing in my wedding dress before I took it apart to save pieces for each of the kids.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 14 ~ Color

It's funny when I see people in real life who are used to seeing pictures of the baby online, because they always seem to comment about how blue his eyes truly are. Some people have even told me that they thought I was editing the pictures to make them look brighter than they are.

Nope. His eyes really are this color.

Friday, June 12, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 13 ~ Movement

This one is simple enough - capture movement. The tricky part about this prompt is making sure you have bright enough light to get a clear shot that isn't blurry.

My girls, playing at the park.

They're still here, even if they're not

My apologies in advance. It's that time of year, the time when I just think about them a little bit more often. Me, being how I am, I can't only think inside my head. I have to do this, I have to write, I have to process it this way to get it out.

So, here we are.

It's funny how people insist that grief should have a definite ending point, like once a predetermined amount of time has past, it should automatically just be over. Our society is a bizarre one, to say the least, when it comes to how we handle death.

In some ways, it chafed at the idea that I mourned proactively, in the days and weeks and months before my parents died. I shouldn't do that, some people said, because it was inappropriate. It was stealing joy from the moments that were left with them here in this world or something like that.

Except that it wasn't really, and people who say that must not understand what it is really like when you know with certainty that someone you love is dying.

Though there are absolutely times when you are actively creating memories and enjoying what is left, there's a lot of down time when someone is sick. Death, so I've heard, takes a lot of energy. The people who aren't actually dying are left twiddling their thumbs a lot. There is a lot of sitting around and pondering, a whole lot of time spent in your own head with your thoughts. It would be impossible, I think, to avoid ever thinking about what life will be like once the person who is dying is gone. The grief process inevitably starts before they actually die, and it seems that the longer that takes, the more of it is processed before they go.

There are no rules about when it starts or stops. Grief doesn't have an expiration date.

By the time both of my parents actually died, the heavy weight of grief had mostly been processed. There was at least as much relief as sadness, if not more.

I don't expect anyone who hasn't been through it to understand, though. It's just something you have to experience I suppose.

The circumstances of their deaths were so very different.

He died with us all around him, in his home, with us holding his hands. He'd said goodbye, left this world on good terms. It was peaceful and quiet.

I don't actually know the circumstances of her death. The truth is that I don't actually know many details about how the end came for her, or even what happened at all in that last year. It wasn't for lack of trying on my part, but I was just too far away. She left and shut me out. There was a grief process in that all long before anything formal was said or done involving the act of dying itself.

I don't know much.

It's a lot to digest, the not knowing. Even more than the death itself. I've been judged up and down for it, more by myself than by anyone else, trust me.

I know that time doesn't make any of it better, it just stretches out the distance between then and now. I know that unresolved issues never go away, we just come to a point where we have to accept the fact that they'll never be resolved.

Time changes things, even if it doesn't make any of it better. It changes our relationship with those who are gone as we begin to see and feel their presence around us in different ways.

We aren't just seeing reminders of who they were, in some ways it's like they are still around.

I know that when my daughter gets wrapped up in crafting projects and the entire house looks like it has been glitter bombed that she comes by it honestly, and that somewhere her grandmother is laughing. I know that wherever she is right now, my Mom has tears in her eyes when she hears her other granddaughter playing Hey Jude on her son's clarinet. I know that she's bursting with pride at the oldest's love of music. I know that she'd be eager to take the girls out shopping for makeup and clothes now that they are getting older. I know that there are times that my daughter looks just like her. I know that she'd be madly in love with the little boy crawling all over my house right now. I know that every time I fry tortilla shells for tacos she's standing over my shoulder making sure that I do it right.

I know that there is a very specific face the baby makes where he looks almost exactly like my father, that there is a little sparkle in his eyes when he figures something out that reminds me of a look my Dad used to give me when he was teasing me. I know that every time I watch my oldest child sign his name left handed, it reminds me of the contorted way my father used to do it himself. I know that when I catch a glimpse of my daughter across the room and am reminded of just how much she looks like his side of the family, he's still here in some ways.

I smile and laugh to myself every single time I cut strawberries, remembering the story he told me in strictest confidence just days before he died. He'd pretended to be allergic to them for decades because he hated them. He knew that if he told people he was allergic, no one would ever try to trick him into eating them. He took that secret almost all the way to his grave, asked me to keep it until he was gone. And I did. And I laugh even now, every time I see a strawberry.

I laughed for a good long time yesterday.

And somewhere, he was laughing with me.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 12 ~ Smile

The best smiles are the genuine ones, not the posed ones. Get out there and try to catch someone in the moment.

This is my husband and the baby, this past weekend.

I'm a lucky girl.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hey, June

Take a sad song and make it better...

My daughter is in a summer band program this year. The chosen theme? Classic rock.

I happen to think it's pretty fantastic.

Well, all of it except for one song that tears my heart into tiny little bits. Hey, Jude.

My Mom's name was Judy. For the entirety of my life, that song has just been connected to her. She used to joke that she was pretty sure that they wrote it for her, and though I'm fairly certain that isn't the case, the lyrics always did seem to apply to her more than the average person. When I hear the song now, I think of her and all that she struggled with in this world.

I haven't told my daughter any of this, of course, because I promised myself a long time ago that I was going to do the very best I could to avoid encumbering the childhoods of my children with the baggage of the generations before them. I don't want them growing up with emotional attachments to things that have nothing to do with them. I just don't.

Of all the songs she has sheet music for in this summer program, the one she's spent the most time practicing, is, of course, Hey, Jude.

Of course it is.

I'm sure that when they have their performance of this song sometime next week, I'll be sitting in the audience with tears in my eyes when this song is played. I know this about myself.

And it is June.

Oh, June.

The thing about having lost as much as I have in the past few years is that there are few times in the year that don't hold some reminder of what is gone. Of what was and is no more. June has a few days in particular that creep up on me and sting.

Father's Day is one of them.

I tend to go a little overboard on Father's Day with things for my husband. I take oh I don't need anything as a challenge. I don't want to do anything special just isn't an option.

I need to be busy, I need to concentrate on him because my father is gone. And it's weird, these holidays. It would be nice if there was a way to just wipe these days off the calendar when they don't mean what they used to, what they are supposed to.

Instead, there will be the reminders soon enough. The rows and rows of cards in the grocery stores. The commercials on television. The ads in the newspaper. The poignant stories shared online. All reminders that he isn't here anymore.

I've been accused of being melodramatic more than once in these past few years. I take what most people say with a grain of salt, particularly when they are criticizing me, particularly when those doing the criticizing dwell in a world where their parents still exist.

Don't judge a path you haven't walked. Don't judge the person walking that path you don't understand. Don't accuse someone of feeling too much or being too sad.

Just don't.

I'm rambling, I know. I just have been feeling like I needed to let some of these thoughts out of my head. I write them not to ask for support or understanding or sympathy. I don't expect anyone to do or say anything. I don't. I just need to set them free.

And I need to go work this out.

We had 8 tons of rock delivered this week, and we've been working on moving it a little bit at a time. I'm grateful for the distraction. I'm grateful for the physicality of it. I'm grateful for the mindless production.

I'm one of those people who truly requires physical movement to work through stress and depression and anxiety. Wallowing just makes it worse. I need to get outside and sweat. I need to work until I have blisters and aches and pain.

And I'm grateful that I have this place where I can let the thoughts out, even if occasionally someone who doesn't understand tells me I'm dramatic.

Hey, June. 

You aren't so bad, are ya?

Nah, nah, nah, na-na-na-nah, na-na-na-nah, Hey Jude. 

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 11 ~ Overcome/Struggle


Okay, so when someone suggested this day in the challenge, I was on board with it entirely. One of the truths in this life is that we are more defined by what we overcome than what hurts us.

So, here goes.

BTW, everything about this picture terrifies me. It took me a long time to even take this picture, and it took me even longer to imagine what I'd include in it.

This is me. As raw and unedited as I get. Oh good, there's even dried spit up on the strap of my shirt. That was a little more real than I was intending. Hmmm. Oh well.


I don't have any makeup on. My hair isn't brushed. I'm still wearing the clothes I was wearing yesterday. I'm wearing glasses, which might not seem like a big deal to most people but I have some real emotional baggage when it comes to that. I'm still tired.

I took this right after I woke up from a triggery PTSD dream. They tend to show up this time of year.

I'm currently overwhelmed with PPD, and let me just say that the whole intrusive thoughts thing has to be the most bizarre form of torture. It isn't as bad as it's been in the past, but goddamn.

I'm looking out the window in our room in a house that has given me a whole different set of issues.

My anxiety about these windows was so bad at one time that I forced my husband to put locks on them all. I was irrationally afraid of one of the kids falling out of them. For years.

I am sort of hiding behind the drapes on purpose here. Because I feel like I'm usually hiding something. I'm usually stuffing some aspect of my personality down deep, refusing to show it to the world because it's overwhelming even to me and I don't want to scare other people away more than I already do.

My face looks that way because I'm skeptical about almost everything, even about taking and sharing this picture.

This is the real me.

I have a lot to contend with just to get out of bed in the morning, but I do it. I stuff the anxiety down so that it doesn't affect how I raise my kids. I do whatever it takes to slay the dragons PPD churns up in my imagination. I cope the best I can with the PTSD. I live with the ADHD because I always have and I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I didn't get distracted all the time.

What do you struggle with? What have you overcome?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the like I need another reason to hate calendars edition

Hi. I'm annoyed. Already. And it's 8:23 a.m.

You want to know why??? Well, I'm assuming you do because you're here and you're reading this, and if you're here and you're reading this, the reason probably has something to do with the fact that you enjoy my weekly rants, so I'm also going to assume you want to know why I'm already annoyed at 8:23 8:24 in the morning.

I'm pissed at Facebook. To be more accurate, I'm pissed at social media. There is this thing now that we live in a world where everyone is online all the time that irritates the hell out of me: these totally bullshit "holidays" that someone just decided to invent one day. We have siblings days and #tbt and now we have best friends day. OHGOOD.

Here's the thing. Some of us don't really have a best friend because we used to and and then one day we got royally fucked over by that best friend so we don't so much call people that anymore.

I mean, I have friends. Lots of them, in varying degrees. I even have what some would consider "best" friends, but I don't call them that because I don't do that anymore and I probably will never do that again because I just can't.

When you combine this bullshit fake holiday with the wonder that is the "this day" look back feature on Facebook every damn day now, where that once upon a time best friend of mine shows up on the regular, it's a fucking miracle that I haven't thrown my computer across the room.

Hi. My name is Kelly and I have PTSD. For reasons.


There's other stuff that I need to get to, so I'll get over myself. For now.

This Week In Post Racial America
The fact that I have typed that sentence more than once in the past few months here and had things to write about should be some indication that we don't live in post racial America, and that the fact that some people like to insist that such a thing exists probably means that they are clueless a-holes....but I digress.

This week in the land of the free and the home of the brave, a white cop slammed a 14 year old black girl to the ground after waving his gun at a group of teenagers who were attending a pool party while black...which is apparently not allowed. The story gets even worse when you realize that it appears the only reason the police were called in the first place had to do with an old white woman feeling uncomfortable because there were black teenagers at a pool party that they'd very much been invited to. I literally can't even with this bullshit. The cop involved....wait for it....has been sued for racial profiling before. Shocking, I know. The police department vows to investigate. Uh huh. We've heard that before...

In a shocking story involving the vast failure of the justice system, this week also saw the suicide of Khalief Browder. He'd been held at Rikers Island for three years without ever having been found guilty of any crime. He'd never even been tried. What he had been was accused of stealing a backpack at 16 years old. His family was unable to afford an attorney, and he was at the mercy of the system.

Yes, you read that correctly. He was accused of stealing a backpack while underage, never tried, never convicted and yet held in one of the most violent prison complexes in the country. He was beaten up on a regular basis, thrown in solitary confinement and more. He always maintained his innocence. He was released after three years in prison for a crime he claims he never committed, spending a significant amount of that time in solitary. He never recovered from the emotional trauma. And now he's dead at his own hands.

This Week in Politics
Joe Biden's son Beau died of a brain tumor last week. Biden, absolutely heartbroken at losing another of his children, was deeply in mourning. Most people would respect that, take a break from slinging mud long enough for him to bury his son at least. Ted Cruz, though...he just couldn't help himself and told a bad joke about Biden. He was called on it, of course, and later apologized, but really??? You're an asshole, Ted Cruz.

Mike Huckabee says he wants to be President, but I really think he'd rather dig himself a big old hole of assholery and jump right on in it. After coming to the defense of the Duggar family a couple of weeks ago, this week it was revealed that he's made some rather inappropriate comments about transgender individuals in the recent past. Since everyone is talking about Caitlyn Jenner right now, his prior statements came to light, and apparently he wishes he'd faked being trans so that he could have showered with the girls in high school. Missing the point for $1000, Trebek. Also...what the fuck, man? That's gross. Not only do you clearly not get anything about what being trans actually is, you'd try and use it to prey on young girls???

Scott Walker also wants to be President. Are you seeing a trend here yet? This week, he is pushing for legislation in Wisconsin that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks, even in cases of rape and incest.

Rick Santorum also wants to be President. (this is getting funny now, right?) This week, he said that he is more qualified than the Pope (who is actually a chemist) to talk about climate change. Santorum, decidedly not a scientist, says that he gets to have an opinion because of things like job creation, but one of the heads of a world religion (who again, is actually a chemist) shouldn't because he shouldn't use his position in that manner. Instead, Santorum said he should stick to talking about faith. Something tells me that if the Pope was going to say we should approve the Keystone pipeline and fracking is safe and the oceans aren't rising, Santorum would be totally okay with his opinions, but since the Pope intends to come out strongly the opposite direction, that's the issue here. Santorum thinks that people only get to play the Jesus card when they agree with him. Nope. Sorry.

Finally, Placentas
Ooooh, bet you didn't see that coming, did ya?

I should warn you guys. If you don't already know it, I'm a doula. I'm crunchy as hell. I cloth diaper and baby wear and breastfeed and I totally ate my own placenta after this last baby was born. I had reasons for it, the biggest of which is that I have a long ugly history of post partum depression. I had my placenta encapsulated and took all the capsules months ago.

Come here, smell my breath. 

Just kidding. For the love.


It's totally not gross. It helped me get over the worst part of the hormonal adjustment post partum. It helped with my milk supply and healing too. I highly recommend it, especially for women with a history of PPD.

Thing is, a study came out this week saying that there are no benefits to doing it. AND NOW THE INTERNET IS ALL GROSSED OUT THAT WOMEN DO IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

A few things here. One, the study is flawed in my opinion, and I say that not just as a consumer of placenta, but as a health researcher (yeah, I actually am trained in that...) Other studies have shown benefits in the past. Two, studies like this tend to overlook and ignore the fact that humans are mammals. We like to think that we're highly evolved and all that shit, but really we are mammals. And mammals consume their own placentas. They just do.

If you don't want to eat your placenta, fine. No one is going to make you. We've been raised in this bizarre society that thinks birth is gross and everything should be sterile and that throws placentas away as medical waste almost all the time. If you want it tossed out (actually, they get incinerated), fine. Honest.

But if someone else wants to eat their placenta, however they choose to consume it, and in whatever manner they choose to, leave them the hell alone.

That's all I have to say about that.

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 10 ~ Nature

One thing about living where we do is that we are completely and utterly spoiled by nature here.

Okay, so that means that occasionally we have to deal with a tornado or a blizzard....but we get to see views like this almost all the time.

Get out there and take pictures of nature today!

Monday, June 8, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 9 ~ Pattern

The picture I am sharing for this one took me days to finally capture. It isn't perfect, but that's because this child never stops moving.

The baby is double crowned, and his hair has the funkiest pattern to it.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 8 - Fan

This is one of the days subject to the most interpretation. You could literally take a picture of a fan, or take a picture of someone being a fan. In our house, we go big when it comes to fandoms.

This was taken at Comic Con a few weeks ago, of our Little Asskicker dressed like the Little Asskicker from The Walking Dead.

And yeah....his mom was dressed like Daryl Dixon.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 7 ~ Shadow

This is always a fun day in the challenge, and I was excited that we had enough sunlight to get it done yesterday.

This is part of my father in law's Father's Day gift, so don't tell him. ;)

Friday, June 5, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 6 ~ Perspective

This is one of the days that is subject to the most interpretation in the challenge. From an art standpoint, perspective has to do with angles and showing depth. From a human standpoint, perspective is all about how differently we each see the world.

On this day, I challenge you to think outside the box. Look around you and see the perspectives of other people, try to imagine what the world looks like through their eyes.

The picture I've chosen for this day was taken of the floor in my house, in between coats of wax. This is the view the baby sees of everything, and this is the view that suddenly made me have a new found appreciation for all the things this floor has seen.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 5 ~ Light

Light is easily the most important aspect of photography. If you can master lighting and figure out how to manipulate it, your photographs will instantly improve a hundred fold.

I like to play with light. I like to bend it and shape it and tell it where to go. I'm basically Avatar.

Seriously, though, focus on light today. Have fun!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 4 ~ Macro

Macro is always one of my personal favorite days in the challenge because it requires everyone participating to be a little more deliberate about the pictures they take. Macro photography requires skill, patience, and an eye for what will look good up close.

And then closer.

In an ideal world, you'd take macro shots with a good camera that has a lens specifically for these pictures. Most of us don't have that.

I do have a DSLR, but have opted, on purpose, for the past few years to take all my pictures in these challenges with the camera on my phone to prove to people that it's entirely possible to take good pictures with just about any camera.

Macro shots aren't just tight shots, they aren't zoomed in. They are pictures that focus on the fine details of something, the things that we don't ordinarily see with our eyes. They show us the things we can't usually see.

The picture I am sharing this year for macro is of one of my baby beads. I am a doula. On the rear view mirror of my car hangs a necklace, and each bead on the necklace belongs to one of the babies I've helped enter this world. They all have a beautiful and unique story, they all have a special place in my heart.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the you don't get to vote on this stuff edition

Yawn. The bebe has decided that he wants to wake up before the sun these days. He was up at 4:30 a.m. this morning. I can lay in bed with him crawling all over me, smacking me in the face and mashing my hair between his tiny fingers, demanding that I get up mamamamamamamamama. Or I can get up.

I'm up. Obviously.

The upside of having a kid in this crazy demanding stage of life is that I am up way before the rest of the people in the house and can actually write. Which is good, especially today, because I have a lot to say this morning.

I scrapped the rest of the list of things I was going to write about today as soon as the Vanity Fair cover came out with Caitlyn Jenner...just because I knew how it was going to go down.

For those people who seem incapable of understanding that this transition doesn't affect their lives and that they don't get to tell Caitlyn anything about how to live her life, a quick list of things you should know.

- Her name is Caitlyn now. Use female pronouns. You don't just get to keep calling her Bruce or insist that she's still a man because that fits into your personal definition. Not your decision, not your name, not your life. You don't get to vote on this stuff.

- Who gives a rat's ass if the picture is photoshopped? I basically work on the assumption that a cover photo is shopped these days, and if we routinely expect pictures of cisgendered women to be shopped than we can't condemn a photo of a transgender woman just because of some editing.

- It really doesn't matter if you don't understand trans people. If you aren't living it, your understanding isn't required. Compassion would be great, though.

- Don't assume that Caitlyn is a lesbian now, or make any assumptions about her sexual orientation for that matter. Gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things.

- The physical aspect is only one piece of a transition, many would say it isn't even close to the top of the list of the most important aspects. While everyone from the outside seems fixated on genitals, that really isn't what transition is about at all.

- If and when she shares why she chose her name and why she spelled it the way she did, then you'll know. Until that happens, stop assuming. You know that when you assume, you make an "ass" out of "u" and "me", right? (fistbump to my father for that nugget of wisdom he played on repeat when I was a teenager)

- She isn't doing this to make a point. She's doing this because she's always felt like she was a woman and was born in the wrong body. Doesn't make sense to you? Probably because you happen to have been born into the correct body.

- She's doing this publicly because of pre-existing fame. It would be impossible to transition secretly in the eyes of the press. In fact, having such a public persona in all likelihood makes the choice to transition even harder because of the incredible scrutiny.

- Due to that pre-existing fame, Caitlyn has a unique opportunity here to reach a huge group of people.

- It's none of your business what stage of physical transition she is in. It's none of your business if she plans to complete the physical transition or not. The details of the physical elements of her body aren't any of your business. Seriously, don't ask.

- If you'd require a vagina for someone to be considered a woman, then I guess you'd be okay with having to demonstrate your gender to the world in order for people to treat you like a man or woman. I mean...that would necessarily mean that everyone in the world would have to walk around with their genitals out, but if that's what you'd require of a transexual person then you can't get offended if someone demands it of you. Seriously, think about how ridiculous that is...

- If you think a transgender person in a bathroom is a threat to you or to your children, then I wonder what you think ordinarily happens in a bathroom. I don't know about you guys, but I'm usually just going to the bathroom.

What Caitlyn is doing is hugely important from a historical standpoint. There are but a handful of people in the public spotlight who've undergone transition openly like this. I can only hope that someday it won't be groundbreaking anymore, that someday people can quietly undergo the life transitions necessary to live genuinely, that they can have the full support and love of the other people in their lives.

As brave as Caitlyn is, we should also be sure to remember here that she doesn't represent the majority of the trans community. She has ample financial resources to pay for the best surgeons, for the best therapists, for personal stylists, for all of it. Most people don't have those luxuries. Many people who would elect physical transition might never be able to afford the procedures.

The transgender community is still quite marginalized in our society, though the acts of brave individuals like Caitlyn and Laverne Cox will go a long way towards change.

Don't judge a situation you don't understand. Show compassion.

As I said on my Facebook page yesterday,

If you woke up this morning judging others, comfortable in the body you inhabited at birth and attracted to a member of the opposite sex, take a minute and thank your god or lucky stars or the random odds of genetics or whoever you thank for that stuff since clearly you think you're doing it right at the same time you believe that all this stuff is somehow a "choice".
(Spoiler alert! It's not a choice.)
Then think about the fact that not everyone woke up that way this morning and they have to deal with opinions every damn day from all the people who don't get it and don't even try to get it.

5th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge ~ Day 3 ~ Strength/Bravery

I had intended to share a picture today full of deep meaning, one that would have a long back story and that probably wouldn't have made a ton of sense because of this weird thing I do where I over share some stuff and don't share other things at all.

I was going to talk about how true strength isn't usually seen and about how bravery is being afraid but doing something anyway.

Then this guy came into my life last weekend and I decided to go with him instead.

Whew! Dodged the feelings bullet for today! (but it's only 5:16 a.m.....)

I took the kids to the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder in the middle of the afternoon. The walking mall is full of people and street performers this time of year, and this picture shows both. What you can't see from the angle I was watching is that this guy was balancing on two platforms and two cylinders, and was just about to start juggling the huge knives in his hands.

For an introvert like me, this picture displays bravery for the simple fact that he gets up in front of people every day and does this. His mention of the fact that his parents hate that he does this, but that he's doing it anyway and would love to find a way to make a living out of it somehow displays bravery as well.

Oh, and the whole super crazy dangerous stunt thing. That's brave too.

Your turn! Share a picture that shows strength or bravery today!

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Summer School of Rock - Nine Inch Nails

Funny story about how this band was chosen to be profiled this week...

Last week, there was a video making the rounds on the internet where the Single Ladies video was mashed up with the Duck Tales theme song. It was, in a word, magnificent. You can watch it here if you haven't seen it already. Wooo-oo.

Anyhow, I showed it to the kids a few times because it was hilarious. Every time we watch a mash up like this, The Oldest always asks me to play the best mashup in history. One that isn't even a video. The Call Me Maybe/Head Like a Hole Carly Rae Jepsen/Nine Inch Nails masterpiece. It is the most disturbing combination of songs I've ever heard, and it is gloriously wrong. So deliciously wrong.  

If you haven't heard it, prepare to have your mind blown. Just come back after you listen, because I'm talking about NIN today.

Incidentally, Trent Reznor despises that mashup because he thinks it trivializes his work and turns it into a joke. Eh, I think it's great and it's in all likelihood exposed some pop fanatics to music they might not have otherwise heard. And I love me some NIN.

NIN was started by Reznor in 1988 in Cleveland, Ohio. He's technically the only member of the band and is the creative core of the music produced. When he plays live, he does recruit other people to play, but the rest of the time it's usually just him. The best way to describe the band is probably industrial rock/metal since so much of the music is fairly heavily produced. Stage shows generally involve lighting and imagery as well.

Reznor says he named the band Nine Inch Nails because it abbreviated easily, though other rumors for why that name was chosen have existed for years, including theories about references to the crucifixion of Jesus and theories about Freddy Krueger. 

NIN is known for graphic and disturbing videos that push the boundaries of what is appropriate, and has had videos refused or played only in part. The video for Closure actually attracted some attention from the FBI.

It isn't just the videos that invite controversy when it comes to NIN either. The lyrics of some of the songs have made censors, religious leaders and parents cringe for decades. Both the song and video for Closer were heavily censored, but would still go on to become the band's best known release.

NIN has released eight studio albums, though Reznor has more recently been doing work on soundtracks and scores for movies and videogames. Some of his work is included in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl and Call of Duty, Black Ops II.  Reznor has also been doing a lot of work with other artists in recent years, including collaborations with Dave Grohl and a music service project with Dr. Dre.

One of the more interesting things that happened with NIN's music was when Johnny Cash decided to cover Hurt. The song was written by Reznor with clear references to drug use and self-loathing, words full of regret. It took on a whole different meaning when Cash sang it, and was one of the last songs he ever recorded. "I pop the video in, and wow... Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps... Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore... It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning — different, but every bit as pure."  

NIN was touring last year with Soundgarden and was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. They've been nominated for 13 Grammy's and won twice. Reznor was also named one of the most influential people in 1997 by Time Magazine.

Reznor has never been enamored with corporations and has a long history of animosity. He claims that the music industry interferes with creativity, finally breaking away from it entirely in 2007, producing his own music from that point forward. At one performance, he encouraged fans to steal his music online rather than buying it legitimately because he was angry that fans and artists get screwed while music executives make all the decisions and make all the money.

Reznor has also always been vocal in the political sphere. He backed out of his scheduled performance at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards after they told him he wouldn't be allowed to show a picture of George W. Bush while playing The Hand That Feeds. He also demanded that Fox News stop using his music after being alerted to it by a fan. 

A disturbing piece of trivia, one that upsets Reznor greatly, is that his music has reportedly been used to torture detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. 

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