Every Weapon in My Arsenal

A few weeks ago I met an old friend for coffee. "It looks like things in your life are going really well," she said. "I'm so sorry to hear it. That must be really hard for you."

I thanked her. "It is," I said. Especially when the whole world is falling apart. Especially when people are dying and suffering and fighting for their dignity, their rights and their lives. My friend and I are both addicts in recovery from everything and feelings are hard. All of them. Even the good ones. Especially the good ones. Addicts love self-destruction. Addicts love self-sabotage.

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But what else can I do?

My mother has always been a rebel and an activist, with deep roots in the Jewish tradition of social justice, of never forget. At my mother's house there’s always room for one more at the table, there's always a meal to bring somewhere, a person or a cause to uplift. My mother brought me to my first march in Washington and she continues to show up at marches and rallies and protests again and again. She told me as she grows older she’s convinced her job is to be a body, to show up, to be counted.

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Valley HaggardComment
On the Boat Again

The other day I talked to an old friend who is moving out of his warehouse and onto a houseboat.

Yesterday afternoon my husband just so happened to bring home a pamphlet from the very same dock where my friend is planning to rent a slip.

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Valley HaggardComment
17 ways to know you’ve been married to the right man for 17 years

1.  He looks at you the same way whether you’re in a négligée, a sweat suit, or a cat suit.

2. When you gain 50 pounds the first year you’re married and the nurse practitioner says honey you can’t just eat everything you see and you go home red-faced and ashamed and it isn't until you feel what you can only describe as a pop in your side that you request an ultrasound and they find a tumor on your adrenal gland pumping out cortisol and  moon face and buffalo hump, Cushing’s Disease and your husband changes the bandages around your 13 inch stapled wound that wraps around your side and still calls you beautiful.

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At the Top of the Mountain

On Sunday we worked. We chopped and we whacked, dragged and raked, swept and gathered. We collected broken glass and rusted nails, busted windows and broken down doors. We hauled rocks and moved trees. We reclaimed land and a structure lost to a mountain buried in time. We sweat and grunted and strained.

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Valley HaggardComment
Abandonment Issues

This week I showed up to have a session about my abandonment issues with my therapist but she'd just received a call from her child’s school and had to cancel as soon as I got there. What do we do when our abandonment therapist abandons us? Really though, the truth is, I didn’t feel abandoned by her. And that's because she's not a man.

When I was little I felt like I always had to share my dad, that he was never mine alone. Even though I was an only child, special, adored, beloved, there were always new women in his life, women I was afraid would somehow replace me. My mother once said that when I grew up I'd have to tear my world apart before I could stitch it back together. She was right. 

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Valley HaggardComment
20 Pounds

Right now my under arm hurts from my first bra of three today. The first, that had been fitted for me by an actual professional was like a corset, or armor. My body actually changed shape when I took it off and could breathe again. The second I sweat through during this afternoon's hot yoga to the point where I could have wrung it dry. I'm on the third which is close to death's door but I'm eeking a little more life out of it as I can. My bras do impressive, monumental work each day, if you know what I mean. I don’t even want to tell you what letter of the alphabet I'm on, but rest assured it’s up there. A drunk person may not even be able to count that high.

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Valley HaggardComment
Photo Album

The other night I spent hours lost in a photo album composed of throwaway photos that hadn't made it into my real, more curated albums. I hadn't looked at these pictures in ages and I was fascinated by the huge range of iterations of self. How many people can one person be in one lifetime? How many lives can we cram into one?

There were photos from Jewish Cotillion and Homecoming, awkward middle school dances and long distance road trips. There was a lot of huge hair, white sneakers and acid washed jeans. There were men whose names I can't remember and friends whose names I will never forget. In the middle of it all was my laminated computer pass from seventh grade at Tuckahoe Middle School, the same year and institution my son inhabits now. Who the hell was I with that turquoise sweatshirt over an orange polo with a string of pearls and Native American tribal earrings? Was the woman I am now already planted in the girl I was then?

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Where the Lions Are

My husband and I went to a concert earlier this week and the music fused through me, shook me, held me. I still have it in my blood and skin. I don’t understand music. I can’t clap in rhythm. I can’t sing on key. I can’t tell the difference between notes. I don’t recognize harmony. I don't understand music but I love music the way I don’t understand God, but love God.

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Fertile and Fecund

This week I have dreamed, prayed, and danced. I have given blessings and I have been deeply, blessed. I have shouted fuck, shit and damn and fucking shit goddamn. I have led circles of women writing around workshop tables, living rooms and church basements. I have watched them write their hearts into bloody heaps on the table and then word by word, stitch their hearts back in.

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