Month: June 2016

Shoes and Tires: On Breaking Up.


“I just think of stupid things lately,” he’d said to me. “Like, where am I going to do my laundry, or what happens when your tires get low– you’re always driving with your tires low and it’s dangerous!  And your shoes.  You leave them everywhere.  You’re going to trip on them all the time because no one else will be there to pick them up.”

“I will pick up my own shoes, now.” I said.

“But what about that look you give,” he said, “It’s not mine, anymore, and I don’t know where it’s going next.”

“I will pick up my own shoes, now.” I said.

Names and Other Loves: On Calling it for What it Isn’t.

He called me from the other room.

“Nope!” I said.

My Someone– before we knew he was my Someone– had been playing this game with me nearly since we met.

“No?” he said, “Okay, then.  What is it?”

“I want to be Oatmeal Pickens,” I said.

This got a laugh out of him.  It always got a laugh out of him.

“Okay,” he said, “today you can be Oatmeal Pickens.  Now, Oatmeal Pickens, what do you think about finishing this song?”

We should have been more careful.  The more names that are made, the more you are likely to fall in love.  Everybody knows that.


One of my favorite pop culture icons wrote in her new book that the nicknames we attribute to the ones we love are signifiers of our deep affection– with our pets being the most loved.  I roll around this idea with my 88 pound pooch, Butter.  My Muttly Crew.  Peanut Butter.  Butterdog.  Buttrocious.  Butterloni.  Butthead.  Butteropolis.  Butt-Butt.  Sleepy Dog America.  Buttey.  Crazy Dog Marie.  Buttey-Pajamas.  Cutie Banana Star.  Buttons.  Snifflesnort.  Monster.  Old Face.  Icky Ticky Ticky Tacky Ickle Doggy.

This doesn’t even tap into the twenties of little ditties and songs written just to taunt and love her.

I’m pretty sure my icon was right.


When my Someone was becoming my Someone and we were fighting the way that two people fight when they are finding out that they are each other’s Someone and are afraid and excited and nervous and happy, he became too flustered and slipped–

“How do I know what you even want?  You don’t even know what you want!  You don’t even know who you are– all you have is your name, and you can’t even decide on that!”

We were quiet.  We both felt the sting of a hundred moments being picked up and examined and thrown in a basket of What-Isn’t-Fun-Anymore.

“Ouch,” I said.

“Baby–” he started.

“That’s not my name,” I said.  “My name is Mallory.  I know that now.”

My Someone and I often try to find the moment we fell in love, but there are too many.  This moment, though, may have been the one where we realized we had already fallen too far.  If we hadn’t, it wouldn’t hurt so much to take back all my names.


Toehead.  Begonia.  Matilda-Marie.  Motormouth.  Malillery.  These are the names I would respond to when my dad called them.  I liked them all.  Because when you are collecting names, you are collecting love.  And I was being loved.  And now, I am greedy for love.  So I keep on asking for names.


He called me from the other room.

“Nope,” I said.

He poked his head around the corner.

“Okay,” he said, “Oatmeal Pickens?”


“Macaroni?” he tried.


“Stink-Donkey Koogle?”

“No.  Rolodex Diggadoo!” I said.

This got a laugh.  This always gets him to laugh.  We’ve recovered each name we lost, and are making more.

“Okay, Rolodex Diggadoo,” he said, “do you want to take this little Mush-Button for a walk?”

“Yeah, yeah!” I tell him, “Sure thing, Scott-Scott-Tater-Tot.”

Chickadees and Dead Pigs: On Using the Love of God for Fear.



“You see,” Ash explained in her Adirondack lined home, “the first part is always the same.”  She continued to coo–


“The second part of the chickadee call indicates their level of alarm.  It’s their way of telling everyone else how dangerous the situation is becoming.”

That gray morning, parked on her farm, we were drinking coffee and learning to listen to the birds.

“So when I went out to my garden one morning, I was listening to them calling, and all the sudden–




and I looked up and said, ‘Really?  Me?  I’m the reason for your alarm?'”


It was different than my other Hell dreams, mostly on account of there being no actual Hell in this one.  Instead, I was confronted with each of my former pastors, all in a group, banding together for the sole purpose of the soul purpose of convincing me there is a Hell.  Even my dream self is on the fence, anyway, so it didn’t take much.  And they spoke in unison–

“Your belief in no Hell won’t save you from it.  Your belief will never save you.”



The gunshot echoed off the orchard trees and simmered in the air until my Someone’s and my eyes were open wide and expectant.  We waited in reverence before turning to each other, curling up closer as the 8 o’clock morning sun warmed up the camper.

“The pigs are dead,” I said.

“Yeah,” said my Someone.  Then nothing.

Jim had warned us last night, with full apology, when offering us a place to park on his property for the night.  The butcher was coming in the morning, he had said, and while he can’t stomach it, it had to be done and he understood if we no longer wanted to park at the orchard.  Maybe it was curiosity or disbelief or wanting to appear like the kind of people who understand life cycles.  Or maybe it was just the thought of leaving a south Massachusetts bar at 2AM trying to find a rest stop, but we agreed to stay, anyway.

A few minutes more passed.

“I’m too sad to sleep,” I said.

“Me, too,” said my Someone.

So we waited and hoped for sleep.  And when the sound of the gunshot began to detach its imprint, I listened to the birds.  I started counting– the first part of the call always six notes.  The second part I was losing track of.  I thought it was three.  But then maybe five.  And as I kept counting, I realized I was hearing the chickadees, and they were extending their call as I imagined the pig’s blood was running into the ground.  I pictured their little bird faces staring in disbelief.

And then I realized– I am counting their fear.


I’m starting to think the pastors were right.  My belief won’t save me from their Hell.  Only their belief can save them from their Hell.  But first, their belief had to make a Hell.  And then, they had to convince someone else to be afraid of it.  Because lately, I think we use the Great Love of God as an excuse to make others afraid.


We knew what we were doing, but we didn’t say it.  But after our goodbyes and thanks to Jim, we walked the perimeter as if there were no gunshots, but we kept our eyes to the ground.  Our dog smelled it first.  I don’t know if it made her afraid or curious or on the verge of a rabid break out, but we pulled her away.

“That’s where the pigs died,” I said.

“Oh. Yeah,” said my Someone.

And we kept walking.  But, somehow, we felt a little better.  Sad, but finally at ease.  Maybe the chickadees’ call was overkill.  Or maybe everyone responds to Blood differently.  Somehow, though, it’s hard to hear anyone but the fearful chickadees.

Gardens and Towers: On Forgiving Each Other and God.

The story is told like this–

There is a lady and a man, though potentially not in that order, and God likes them both well enough.  And they are maybe even happy but definitely equal living in the newest and first flora and fauna.  And then there’s the bad thing that no one knows who to blame for and hardly understands; but the truth is, someone has to pay for the damage.  So God loses out on his Garden he’s been growing and considers a hermit’s lifestyle, something he was tipped off to recently from an oceanic creature he pinched out from his fingertips.  Additional curses are doled out to the lady and the man– not necessarily one worse than the other, just different.  But the difference makes all the difference.  And the lady and the man find the whole thing unbearable, because they will never know what it is like to be cursed in the same way.

Lately, I wonder if the Great Love of God is just an excuse to not love each other better.  Because the Great Love of God doesn’t seem to be able to find a way around our differences, either.


Then this–

the people are finally all getting along when they decide to build a tower to the sky.  They want to touch God.  And while now we craft all sorts of unsaintly love songs to Jesus with the same sentiment but no action, we aren’t about to get into trouble these kids were about to.

BAM! Confusion.  Chaos.

And suddenly, no one is struck dead in the usual Way, but everyone is given a new tongue.  And everyone’s tongue is ripe in their mouth for a language only they can hear.  And the tower is called off– now God can go back to being an agoraphobic and peak out from under his blinds as the people, once united, are now separated by their differences.  Which still hasn’t been solved today.  Again, no language is better.  Just that only a few people are able to know what it’s like to grow up with that language.  And a few come to understand through Rosetta’s Stone…


–but then, a few are coming to understand our Garden Differences, too, with a little surgery and an inventory of the heart.  And I wonder, once we are all united and we call the curses off and the tongues go back to how we can all hear them, will God be disappointed?

Will God be disappointed that after being the same and then struck different over and over again, this time we won’t be asking him for any closeness at all?  This time, we will not choose to look for the first magic Garden.  This time we will not try to build a tower tall enough to touch him.  And will God open the door wide and stare at his mailbox at the end of the sidewalk and realize the damage had been done?  There is no return this time?


Or, will we all be able to forgive God, too, for foiling our plans to love each other?

Then again, I wonder lately if my anger has been for years misplaced on the Great Love of God instead of the ones I love who aren’t looking out at their mailbox for me.