Friday, November 18, 2016

Blue, like my eyes...

...And my boys' eyes.  Joshua always tells me that he likes my eyes because they're like his eyes.  He's not wrong.  Both kids have that twinkle of optimism, humor and overall personality in their eyes, just like I do.  

Anyway, I thought I had shared this color prompt.  The subject matter is, again, heavy.  I am, by nature, a dark writer.  You either learn to love the style or you can't handle it.  I hope most of you can handle this...


It was the color of hydrangeas and the icing on a three-tiered-cake. It was the color of her eyes as she recited “I do”. It was the color of the denim overalls Daddy bought for the little baby. It was the color of the bruise that rose up just under her left eye. It was the color of fingerprints where he grabbed her. It was the color in the lullaby she sang as she watched her belly grow. It was the color of the storms that raged over the seas, the violence mimicked in their fights. It was the color of the rug at the top of the stairs. It was the color of the tears she cried, as he pushed her to the bottom. It was the color of his sorrow, as he held her with regret. It was the color of the little booties someone laid atop the headstone that read “Mother & Son: Together In Heaven”. It was the color of his prison jumpsuit.  (C) (Erica Rhodes) (2016)

Friday, November 11, 2016

I loved you in the morning***

This week the world lost an incredible writer and musician.  At the age of 82, Leonard Cohen died on Thursday 11/10/2016.  I am not entirely certain I'm emotionally prepared to deal with this.  While the world is falling apart over the election, I'm thinking back to my teenage years.  I'm thinking about my best friend, the other half of "Carica" and laying in her psychedelic bedroom reading Cohen's poetry.  The way he manipulated the English language to evoke powerful emotion became an inspiration to me as a writer.  Many times I would come back to his work and I would think about the simplicity of it all and how even in the simplest terms, he could just make me feel so damned sad.  I could never quite put my finger on what exactly it was that he did, what exactly it was that he had that made his writing so spectacular, but whatever it was I wanted it.  

I'm a long way from those days in my best friend's bedroom, but also a long way from Leonard Cohen status.  But, thanks to the incredible body of work he left behind, I know I can always cast a glance Heaven-ward and search for the right words and maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll be blessed with some of his muse.  Rest in peace, Mr. Cohen.  I will not be looking for another, as I wander in my time.  There will never be another you.  Thanks for providing all the right words at all the right times.  I tried to do you justice here, but know that my words are inadequate to describe such an incredibly gifted man.

***For as long as I can remember, one of my favorite pieces has been "Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye".  This is a quote from there.  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Civil Discord

This election season will finally be over next week.  Those of you who know me might be surprised that I've spent so little time here talking politics, especially at such an overtly contentious time.  But the truth is that this political season has left me feeling rather unsettled, not just about our political system, but about our nation as a whole.  

Before I go on, let me be clear:  I'm not voting for either of them.  

Let that sink in.  Because I think it's important.  Hillary's stance on abortion and her actions both in and out of the spotlight since her career began have made her an impossible candidate for me.  I simply could never.  However, I think Trump has a real character problem, a real integrity problem.  Like Hillary, I think he will do anything to get ahead, and not what's inherently best for our nation as a whole.  I guess I could say at least I agree with him on the issues.   But I'm still writing my own name in.  I can't figure out a way, in good conscience, to vote for either one.  Because I don't care for either candidate, I've been able to sit back and watch the, sometimes vicious, debates carry on.  

I've been a political junkie for a long time and I've been in on my fair share of heated debates.  But I don't believe I've ever seen anything quite like the things I've seen this year.  Friend vs friend, family against family, all these relationship becoming collateral damage as we try to fight for the things we believe in.  It's my opinion that we feel the need to fight harder, to yell louder because we don't have candidates that we feel represent the morals and values we stand behind.  So instead of engaging in civil discord knowing that the real battle is between politicians and not between friends, we're trying to fight the fight ourselves.  

Numerous times, in the last several weeks particularly, I have been stunned by the way people are speaking to each other.  Forget whether or not they are friends or family of the person they're speaking to; why would you speak to a stranger that way, much less someone you know and like?  I think one of the most important things to remember is that words have power, y'all.  The more you ratchet up the drama in your vocabulary, the more you ratchet up the hysteria and histrionics in a particular situation.  This is a dynamic, changing world we live in.  There are almost no absolutes (except perhaps the absolute that there are no absolutes...I think I just exploded my thinker).  So declaring that all Trump supporters are woman-hating bigots or that all  Hillary supporters are blind and corrupt is incredibly foolish.  

It's my sincerest wish that once this election is over, our country can unify.  Perhaps the test is that both candidates are so awful that we'll have to band together in order to survive whatever happens to our nation while they're in the White House.  But the one thing I know for sure is that most people are going to remember the hateful things that have been said in the pursuit of political gain.  It shouldn't have to be said to adults but, here we go, y'all.  The key to not being asshole-ey is super simple:  treat others as you would like to be treated. Now I feel like the life coach for the damned world.  The first lesson's on me.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Are "young" farts better than "old" farts in some way?

Please advise.

You see, the matter of old v. young farts has become quite important to me suddenly.  My dad turned SIX-OH (6-0!!!) this week.  Of all old farts, he's about my favorite because my dad Mark is pretty fuckin' spectacular.  He's been so wonderful, in fact, to both myself and my Jersey Mama, that when Joshua was born, I thought to myself, "of course his middle name will be Mark".

Mark and my Mama have taught me the bulk of what's important in life.  Laughter, family, laughter, love...laughter.  It is from Mark that I get my peculiar sense of humor, my disdain for microwave popcorn and my love of Styx.  When I became a single mom (realizing that my ex-husband didn't treat me the way my dad treated my Mama), Mark was Super-Dad, fixing everything he could, offering to come on extra visits to give me a break, and doing God only knows how many loads of laundry.

My parents have been married an awe-inspiring 27 years.  My mom, when I was just a little girl, realized that we needed a stand-up guy, a nice guy, a loving guy, a Mark-guy in our life.  I am so grateful to her for recognizing that.  Because of her, I didn't grow up questioning my self worth or what it meant for a guy to truly love his gal.  I had an example.  When the right guy came around for me, my own sweet knight, I recognized him for what he was: remarkably similar to Mark.

There were plenty of times where I was a difficult child, a stubborn and mouthy teenager and, oh wait, a stubborn and mouthy adult, too.  Never one to do what I'm told, I'm sure it wasn't the highlight of his life to do battle with a teenaged girl.    Thanks to him, thought, it has truly been the "Best Of Times".

So, please join me in wishing my dad, the greatest guy I know and the man who adores my mama, a great day.  Happy birthday, Mark!  Relax, you're hilarious....And asshole-ey!  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Color Purple

I've been seriously working the color prompts.  Like Blue, and Red, which I've posted here.  But I'm at a complete stop now as I tried to write "Purple".

I stared at the white page.  I wrote, "It was the color of....".  Then I got no further.  I closed my eyes and focused on that color, what that color meant, what does purple mean to me.  But all I could picture were the purple-red bruises on my son's face.  That's it.  I could go no further.  I could think of nothing else to use for that color.  I could not get past that imagery.

I'm sure that a therapist (or my ex's new WIFE) would comment that that's an indication that I can't let go of the past in this case.  Yes, no shit, duh, I know that.  I know that because the painful truth is that there are days when I look in the mirror and I see my own face  covered in the bruises that once marred his beautiful face.  I'll stare, shake my head, look again and it'll still be there.  Sometimes, it doesn't stop until I turn my head away and cry.  I believe that this is because I feel like the only one who remembers, truly, the trauma that was inflicted that day.  Perhaps it's because I was the only one living the day-to-day nightmare of it.  Everyone around him appears to have forgiven her, or at least accepted her.  That's their choice and their call.  But I can't do either one, and I never will.  Perhaps I'm holding a grudge because I'm Irish and "over dramatic" and a bitch and that's all there is to it.

Whatever the answer, "Purple" may never be written.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Exercising my demons

Sadly, NOT exorcising them...Could it be I'm haunted?

My ex-husband is getting married tonight.  I want to be happy for him, excited that he's moved on and found true joy.  We can debate the merits on how good of a guy he is, but ultimately he's the father of my children and his happiness is key to theirs.  

But, he's not marrying just anybody.  He's marrying that girl who abused my little boy.

There are a lot of other things I could detail about her past, Things she's done to try to hurt me intentionally or to try to destroy my family, but those things really only speak to her character and as she has been unsuccessful in destroying my family, the things she does to me don't matter.  I'm an adult.  My little boy isn't...wasn't.  Even my older boy isn't....wasn't...

The common consensus of people in their life is that I'm "over-reacting" and refusing to "let it go" or "forgive".  To this I say the following: "Is there a way to over-react to child abuse?".  Also, "damned right I'm refusing to let go and forgive".  Isn't that normal of people who have children that were abused by other people?  Y'know, you watch Dr Phil and he says all the time: "I never like to put a victim together with their abuser in a situation, ever".  Yet, I'm expected to accept this girl into my kids' lives, dutifully send them over there every other weekend and hope they're safe.  Yes, hope, because I have no way of knowing they're safe.

Could it be I'm haunted, why can't I let it go?  I've been in therapy since my ex and I split and my counselor and I have worked a long time on my healing from this.  We finally got to the point where I don't have nightmares, every night, and I don't have a full blown anxiety attack when I send the boys over there.  But there are some things I can't turn loose of.  The images, that hand print and bruising on my son's face.  I know it's a trick my brain plays, but at least once a day I see my son's sweet, cherub face the way it looked that night.  I hear him tripping over the words of the made-up story, hear him tell me how he apologized, hear what the doctor said, remember all the trips to the crisis center, see the horrible findings of the forensic physician, hear the county attorney tell me she'd never really be punished, try to make a decision between probation and diversion, deciding, finally, with a troubled soul, to make the best decision I could for her kids because I have a mama's heart and that's what I do.  AT LEAST ONCE A DAY all this comes flooding back to me and washes over me.  It takes a minute, maybe two and then I snap out of it.  But it's there, every day.  I don't have them nightly anymore, but there are still nightmares.  Both boys still occasionally have nightmares.

Oh yes, and let's not forget the guilt, because I sure can't.  For the rest of my life, I will wonder if I made the wrong decision about probation v. diversion.  Especially in light of how the system flat out lied about what would occur and how long my son would be safe from her, etc.  Some days, when the boys have had nightmares, or I've had several of them, on those days, the guilt bubbles up around my heart and throat until my chest feels tight and I feel like I'm going to be sick every time I take a step, or a breath, or my heart dares to beat.  I wonder, in those moments, if my oldest son still blames me for not protecting his brother from her.  I wonder if one day my baby will blame me for the way this all turned out. I hope one day this will go away.  But there's no way to tell.  We're doing the best we can.

Yes, I must be haunted. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Lunar Girl

Guys, look, I know, ok?  I *knoooow*.  It's been too long, amirite?  But for Pete's sake, I forgot to pay my rent this month even though I had the money order sitting right there because that's how cuckoo it's been in my house. I've been up to my eyeballs in homework (trying to get ahead), the kids (who somehow keep getting into more and more stuff!), and writing....Just not writing for here.  I mean writing for here, just not ever getting around to posting it here.  Bad, bad, bad Eri.  I know.  So I hope this little thing about the moon that I cobbled together will serve as proper apology for now. 

The moon and I have always been connected.  One of the earliest kids' movies I remember loving was An American Tale, and we all remember that song.  The notion that we are all under the same sky provides comfort to me, we all see the same moon and that gives me a deeper connection to humanity which, in turn, makes me a better human (at least that's the plan).  I take enormous comfort in the sight of a huge moon, or even the sliver of a moon in my night sky.  Whether she's full or whether she's not, she rules this world.  The muse in my head turns her into her own muse.  She will even, at some point be a major portion of a very important tattoo.  So, please, read.  Tell me what you think.  Do the moon cycles affect you?  Do you feel closer to the world citizenship when you see that night sky?  Feedback is welcome and encouraged (just don't be a dick, amen).

The Rocky River Run
At night, as I stare up at the moon, anxious for the solace and comfort of her milky, lunar embrace, I hear her quiet call “you were the bravest”. The bravest because every night, I rush against the raging river, running towards her. Each rock in the riverbed cuts me with the words that were said or, worse, unsaid. I run against the current, not caring about the blood and bruises on my soul. I run towards her to reach the softness of her lap, the power of her hug and the truth in her words. She reminds me that it is courage to open up all of my heart and my life to someone. It is fortitude to live long enough to see it through, to tell it goodbye and let it go when it becomes too costly. (C) (ESR) (2016)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Happy Birthday!

I have been blessed in the course of my life to have not just my own (amazing) Jersey Mama, but many other mother figures in my life, as well.  One of those people is my ex-husband's mom, Melanie.  From the get go, and certainly from the start of our marriage back in 2002, Melanie has always referred to me not as her "daughter-in-law", but simply as her daughter.  Even after the divorce, she has never let me or my kids go.  She has made herself a valuable part of my life, even telling me that I completed her family.  She is not just a Mom, she is one of my very best friends and a fierce crusader for my boys and even for me.  She has brought David into the family and accepted him as one of her own.  She taught me about baking, gardening and sewing.  She is smart, beautiful, kind, funny and loving.  Her and I love to spend time together and I think we bring out the ornery streak in each other!  It's been joked we shouldn't be allowed to sit by each other at supper tables!  She has always welcomed me and mine into her home and never makes me feel like a burden.  Yesterday was her birthday!  So, please join me in wishing this incredibly lady a Happy (belated) Birthday!  Love you, always and forever, Mom/Grandma Faraways!

Eri, David, Nathan and Joshua

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Reasons my husband should have been sainted #1

My husband is a great guy.  He's steadfast and strong and ferociously protective of our family.  He also shares my interests in serial killers, gore and the macabre.  So the other day when he asked, "Hey, didn't the Son of Sam kill a cabbie?" I was super delighted, but also a little pissed because he was wrong.  Before I could even get a glare fired off, I had barked "no! Zodiac killed a cabbie!"* in a super annoyed fashion.  So he's awesome and he gets me, it's just that he hasn't evolved to my level of creepy.

*It's worth noting that Son of Sam *worked* as a cabbie, but he didn't kill one.  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

There already *IS* a Joey, Kap....

Colin Kaepernick gave a statement today, regarding his refusal to stand for the National Anthem.  As I read it aloud to my hubby, I thought to myself "WHY does this statement feel so familiar?!".  Then I realized, Kap's channeling his inner Joey.  Sorry, buddy, you're no Baby Kangaroo Tribbiani.

You don't *have* to love America....

A bit of bio: My husband, that sexy, mohawked, tatooed beast, is a USAF vet.  This colors my opinion of the situation, only slightly, as this would have enraged me before I was married to him.

Dear Colin Kaepernick:  ESPN called me yesterday to tell me about your decision to sit throughout the playing of the National Anthem before the San Francisco game.  This is your right.  My husband fought for your right to behave in such a fashion.  You don't have to love America.  However, the notion that you are being paid an alarming (conservative) estimate of $113 million dollars in a contract to play an American game and you don't love your nation, makes you a dick.  Feel free to give that money back (although, $61 million of it is guaranteed to you, God Bless America) or play for "free" and give that money to veterans' charities.  I understand your right to protest.  I, personally, will be writing letters to the NFL and to the 49'ers Front Office and to every.single.endorsement.source I can find until you are humiliated for being such a hypocritical piece of shit.  I have little patience for people who have made a great life for themselves off the backs of the past times of the American people and then disrespect this nation.  Every fan who has bought one of your jerseys or paid for a seat in the 49'ers stadium has helped make you who you are.  That includes the veterans who fought for your right to sit down, as a show of disrespect, for this nation.  My apologies, Mr. Kaepernick, we didn't realize you didn't want to go to college for free and make a living here.  Feel free to find a nation more suitable to your needs (though I would advise against any of those "great nations" where you are forbidden from protesting your government).  As one would expect your conscience to dictate here, that 61 million dollars will do a lot of good for charities and helping the poor people of your community.

With my sincerest apologies for all your "discomfort",

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried"

This will be my third work-through this book.  Each time I find some new passage, some new idea, something they carried, that struck me.  Today, it's the passage (P.S. I obviously don't own this, but I also don't have time, atm, to look up how to properly cite this).

The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien - page 21:

" They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die.  Grief, terror, love, longing --these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight.  They carried shameful memories.  They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture.  They carried their reputations.  They carried the soldier's greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing.  Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to."

This is an amazing book, truly what will someday be (if it is not already, I don't always dwell in the most popular of literary circles) a classic for all the ages because, war as we all know, is timeless.  When I think about the things that I would carry to war, my heart almost trembles.  And that's why I've decided to write it....

To Be Continued.....


I have a few current reading/writing obsessions.  I remain Poe-sessed and my fondness for Fitzgerald has never waned.  But, thanks to the joy of the intrawebz, you can now find little gems like 6 word stories (try it!) or even bits of prose where the author* is describing the color without naming the color.  I use these two trends as writing prompts daily.  Feel free, as always, to leave your own versions in the commentary (do NOT, however, feel free to steal my own work and pass it as your own...I will find you).  So, today, because I'm watching Red Sox baseball (DAMMIT.SOX.) and because it's been a whammer-jammer of a weekend, I present you with:  "Red".

"Red" Erica S. Rhodes (C)(2016)
It's the color of her favorite flower, petal after petal where she would whisper, “he loves me”, “he loves me not”. It was the color of the little drop of blood that would drop down if she snagged her finger on the flower's thorn. It was the color of the hearts she drew with their initials inside. It was the color of the lipstick she wore on their first date, turned to a softer pink when it smudged across his own lips. It was the color of the single flower he would bring to every date, her favorite flower, he always was a great listener. It was the color of passion, the color of her long feminine nails as she did decidedly unfeminine things. It was the color of the Ruby baubles he would buy to placate her, to distract her, perhaps to woo her. It was the blush to her cheeks when she realized she wasn't the only one. It was the color that darkened her soft grey eyes as she screamed and cried and lashed out. It was the color of the pills she took to stay in Wonderland and the color of the wine she chased it with. It was the color that dripped from her wrists and stained her bathwater, when Wonderland disappeared. It was the color that dripped across her skin. It was the color that was written on the white tile beside her body, “I loved you”.  ESR-8/21/

*Why yes, yes I am a published author now.  Thank you so much for noticing.  Those interested can read the response piece (To Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour)here (beginning around page 121, make sure you scroll to the end to read my bio):  The Leather Bound Journal!  My next three (!!!!) pieces will be available in the same creative magazine in the Spring of 2017.  Until then,  you may see me out and about the local NE writer's scene <3


Hello, and Welcome!  If you've come over from The Sistahood of the Travelling Chucks, then you know me.  At least a little.  Over there I blog about things that matter, namely, mental illness, parenting, family life, etc.  This is going to be a bit different.  Here, I'm going to unleash "Full-Eri".  You'll be "treated" to politics, personal stuff and namely, my own personal writing (all of which is under the sole ownership and copyright (2016) of Erica Rhodes).  I guess some ground rules may be in order:
1).  I swear, frequently.  It's been joked I use the "F" word like punctuation.  If this is somehow offensive to you, please don't bother me with a list of reasons why.  Just move it along, now.
2)  There will be a fair amount of politics here.  You are more than welcome to engage me in intelligent, reasonable debate.  The chances are good you're not going to change my mind (I was a liberal, long before I was the Evil Right Wing Nut Job we all know and love) and I assume I'm not changing yours.  I'll put up with a lot of your b.s. before I get itchy on that block button.  I will not, however, tolerate the belittling of any of my friends, family or readers.
3)  Oh right, and the stalking thing....That's so 2 years ago.  If I've put it out here for y'all to read, am I really hiding something?  Do not feel it necessary to attempt to frighten me or to threaten me.  For that I will block you fast enough your mf'ing head will spin.  Threaten my family?  Well, we'll just say you should assume I'm always armed.
4)  I'm relatively macabre and drawn to the morbid side of life.  I also suffer from mild depression, anxiety and PTSD.  None of these things makes me any less human or puts me or my family in any danger.  On the contrary, I have such a Class A team of head-people keeping my sanity in check, I wish I could send them 'round the world to fix it.
5).  If I find out you've stolen the work off this site without proper credit....Well see above about me always being armed.  My writing is my lifeblood, my connection to the world and it gives me a deeper and more personal connection to the citizens of Earth.  Don'

So, sit down, let's talk.  Or you can read and go "omg, she is SO smart (as well as purty!)" or you can sit and think, "wow, I have never read such rubbish in my life".  The site will stay under construction for a bit, but start looking for regular posts.  Some may be controversial, some may be mundane, but hopefully, they'll all inspire conversation!