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The Phat Cave

The Phat Cave

Once upon a time there were two phat geeks. They met and fell in love in a magical way over a series of ensorcelled tubes before meeting face to face. Their life was filled with cats, birds and the Land of Internet. They lived humbly for a long time with their parents and dreamed simple dreams. When they were able to, they rented a small space away from their parents in a hot and treacherous jungle named BugLandia, occasionally called Florida. The space was fine at first, but then they found three little green and blue feathered souls that needed rescuing and then the space wasn’t so much space as it was living in a giant bird cage with bird cages within it.

They dreamed of a place of their own with just a little more space. Not much. Just a bit. They never ever in their wildest dreams thought they could afford anything really nice, like some of the other castles and fortresses in BugLandia, so when they began looking the looked at rustic little cottages that needed much roof-thatching and rebuilding.

They had an awfully hard time of it. Every choice was either too much expense to fix or missing important things like…toilets…entire kitchens. Walls.

It was a long journey on Sundays Untold for what seemed like forever–three–months and they kept saying, “Maybe,” to the magical lady who showed them these places but ultimately it turned into no.

And then one day the planets aligned an a unicorn came down from the misty heavens leaving a trail of sparkles and those little marshmallows from that cereal with the leprechaun that has a lot of issues with his charms.  The sun parted and harps played and they found The One. 

They found a place to call home. Something far beyond their wildest dreams and perfect for them.

With the enchantment of their own pudgy feet they moved from their tiny place to the castle.

And they called this land, “The Phat Cave.” There were no sudden or inevitable betrayals.

They lived weirdly and phatly ever after.

On April 25th 2013 we finalized an offer on a home and moved out of our apartment. I am so happy and tired and tirappy I could explode into glitter bombs. 


A Letter II


Do you remember how many times you had to tell me to shut up? To be quiet? To shhhh? Do you remember the nights which you’d put me to bed as soon as the sunset and you’d tell me in your mommy-is-serious-voice, “No singing, no

talking, no getting out of bed, all right?” And you would tuck me in, kiss my brow and leave the door half shut. (Because I was afraid of the dark.) But your words never made it through my head as I lay down in the half-dark and began dreaming of things from other worlds and other places, or playing out scenes in my head of things I’d wished I’d said or had happened. I’d talk and tell a story with my hands barely seen before my face in the glow of the half open door and see magic, see ghosts, see lands–I would see stories.

I always had words. I had too many words. When I grew up to me a teen I learned the wrong words, too. I learned the hurting, the angering and the cutting words that broke a parent’s heart and scarred a fellow child for life with their cruelty and heartlessness. I learned bigger words and newer words to hand-write into a drawer full of plastic binders packed with stories that (thankfully) would never see the light. And, I had a lot of yelling words. Between us, there was a lot of crying words.

It wasn’t until I grew older that our words softened and we began to speak–if not the same words–words that pretty much meant the same. We spoke gently, with smiles on our lips and apologies in our eyes. We learned to use these words to know one another. Years later, there were no more cutting or yelling or hurting words. They were just noises meant for mother and daughter.

And then you died.

I lost my words then. I didn’t know where to find them anymore. I lost more than my words, actually, and did not think they were important in the face of losing you. At least, I didn’t think they were important until I tried to tell the wo

rld about you, about us, about the things we said and where we were and what had happened. I realized that I had lost the words when I lost you. They quietly took up their skirts and made a funeral line to the back of my head and sat. They would not move.

You were my words. You were the reason why I wrote them. Yes, I wanted the world to read them–but I wanted the world to read them and understand that my words were for you. For my mother. And I wanted you to be here to read them and love them and be proud of me. I wanted you to open a book and cry happily when you first read the words, “For my mother, for all the stories she told me and all the words we’ve shared.”

But you were gone. And so were the words.
For a very long time, at least.Now I hear them. They are buzzing quietly at the back of my head. They want me to hear them but I do nothing about them. I don’t write the things they say and I don’t capture the imagines I daydream about. What’s the point? I think. You cannot hear them.

At night, I always dream of you. You are always chiding me for something: I didn’t do something–fold the laundry, wake up in time for the bus, clean the floor right–every dream you are chiding me for not doing something and I wonder if these are your words. Your last words to me–to listen. To listen, and to write.

A Letter I

A Letter I

It’s been a year.

I have written that sentence all week more times than I care, staring at a blank wordpress post page and trying to culminate thirty three years of my mother in one post. This is the ultimate task which I feel a real writer can face down and conquer…Writing a life in words and having the world understand.

I can’t seem to do this. No matter how many times I have written it and deleted it and re-written it and stared at a little black line that blinked and blinked and blinked, demanding, I can’t.

There’s so much I want to say but no way for you to hear it.

I have my tree up. I have the tinsel. My apartment is decorated. I miss you and look for you sometimes but don’t even know it until it’s too late. I’ll stand in the middle of my living room and puzzle out the christmas cards, the tree, the lights and wonder what am I missing? And then I remember.

All I am missing is you this year.

I have come so far this year and I wish I could show you. I wish I could tell you and talk to you and have you be even more proud than ever at all the leaps and bounds I have made just in 12 months alone. Sometimes I feel guilty–that I’ve done all this and you can’t see it, can’t experience it with me. You can’t share with me my excitement and hope about getting a new home (and I KNOW you loved house shopping.) You can’t see how much better I am now that I have admitted to my depression and am getting treatment. You don’t and won’t know how much sweeter my life has been thanks to the people I have met and known online; you won’t see how horrible my tree looks with it’s rainbow colored tinsel that seems as if christmas–like a big, over eating cat, came and horked up festiveness all over it. You can’t laugh at how crooked it is from all the times Isis crawled up it, and you can’t see the way I’ve covered my apartment in lights.

I’m always missing you, every day. It doesn’t get better and it doesn’t go away. I just…have learned to cope.
Is this what it’s like when someone loses a limb? I feel like you are here. I should call mom. I should tell mom about…I bet mom would love this…Mom would like to know..And then I remember.

You aren’t here.

You are the puzzle piece that I will be missing for the rest of my life.
You are the first puzzle piece of me that I have lost, too, and the hole that you have left is so wide and so vast some days I don’t know if I can cross it.

Other days, I throw a rope and climb because I have to. I don’t want to, but I do.

I try not to be too sad, though. It’s christmas and you would be so mad at me if I were. There’s lights, there’s tinsel, there’s ornaments, there’s christmas songs and peppermint and we haven’t gotten them yet but hopefully your favorite rainbow-cherry-flavored candy canes. There’s going to be a firepit at my mom in laws for Christmas eve and we’ll have cookies and coffee and drinks. Each hour of this month I have stood in the kitchen, stilled in the bedroom, paused in the shower, circled the living room and frowned at the kitchen– what am I missing? 

I cannot believe it’s been a whole year.
I miss you.

Darlene Mae Noseworthy
April 1st, 1956 ~ December 11th, 2011

If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you. 
When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me. 

Kind woman, I give you my all, Kind woman, nothing more. 

Little drops of rain whisper of the pain, tears of loves lost in the days gone by. 
My love is strong, with you there is no wrong, 
together we shall go until we die. My, my, my. 
An inspiration is what you are to me, inspiration, look… see. 

And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles, 
Thanks to you it will be done, for you to me are the only one. 
Happiness, no more be sad, happiness….I’m glad. 
If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you. 
When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.

In the midst I think of you, and how it used to be

In the midst I think of you, and how it used to be

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

It is the last hour of my 24 blog-a-thon and I struggle to find the words to write. There are some memories (despite what you’ve read here,) that don’t or won’t make sense written. Secret things in the languages of families that only make sense to them, inside jokes with timing that’s only perfected when the one you love who knows you can remember what it stands for and laugh while the rest of the world quirks their eyebrows quizzically at you. My mother and I were a lot like that. We had our own strange language where I parroted a statement or commercial or sound, even, and she would understand what memory or amazingly stupid thing I did in the past and get it.

That doesn’t translate so well on a blog.

My mother was an amazing person. No less than you are amazing and no less than your mother being an amazing person–even if you never knew her, even if she wasn’t in your life, even if she screwed it all up in some way. Each one of us are unique in that we are all the same, struggling to love, live, laugh, learn and survive the day to day side by side, thinking no one understands one another or what they are going through.

A mistake I made with my own mother and parents when I was a teenager and young adult…believing they wouldn’t understand and had never been there, so never talking to them about what I was feeling or doing or thinking.

It’s so strange to look back on my younger self and face the horrible, awful truth that your parents and adults in your life were generally right. They may not have had iphones or ipods or even the internet as we know it; but they were kids once, too. They were and are human beings with the same failings, issues, problems and emotions as we had. They went through puberty, peer pressure, bullying, depression and more, too. They lived just as we did. Only now they are trying to tell us not to follow in their footsteps even as they watch helplessly as we do.

I guess what I am trying to say in closing is: all of those cliches about everything…about time and wishing you could do it all over again, about doing anything to get one minute more as well as about not appreciating what you have until it is gone is true.

I spoke to my mother last sometime in November. She was pale but she always was, I couldn’t tell if it was extra pale or the low quality camera on the laptop she was using. She stopped perming her hair to try and give it volume and thickness, as she had lost so much of it it wasn’t worth harming it anymore. She looked good with straight hair. I told her she looked really good with it and she didn’t believe me. She seemed surprised when I told her.

We talked about small things that didn’t matter. Dad’s loud guitar playing down in the living room. Family. My grandmother. My aunt. I talked about my cats and my birds and I promised her that I would call her again near Christmas and we’d talk on Skype again.

I never got that chance.

I made the mistake many children make. I believed my parents were immortal–grand figures from my childhood that blocked out the sun when it was too bright, carried me when I was too tired, kissed away my sadness when I asked for it, and sung me songs in the cradle of arms as they rocked away nightmares. I thought she would be here forever and that I would have more time to show her–to REALLY show her–that I get it. I got it. And if I could take it all back I would. And that every day is an apology and a hope to grow, to love more, to learn.

The thing is, none of us are immortal. We are little lanterns bobbing along at night. It only takes the slightest breeze or tiniest of waves sometimes to darken that light.

If you can–call your mother today. Call her and tell her you love her. Tell her you thought of her today for no reason and tell her thank you for all the things she’s done.


  • My original goal was to have and to surpass $200 for Step out: Walk to Stop Diabetes. Today we have reached that goal and raised $292.00
  • My goal for my personal tattoo was anything at all. Today we raised $12.00

Much love to Kelly, Deanne, Troy, Kathleen, Sarah, Even, Britanya, Stephanie, Erin, Stephanie again, Lauren B, Elizabeth, Darrell, Hugh, Amy and Shannon.

Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother.
Mommy drinks because you Mel

Mommy drinks because you Mel

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Things I did that probably scarred my mother for life & made her question my sanity:

  • Wander into a neighbors yard around four years of age and hand-pull up all of the pretty tulips because some idiot little boy dared me to.
  • Drink an entire bottle of cough syrup.
  • Eat dog treats.
  • Dump out an entire carton of eggs, alphabet cereal, entire bag of milk (Canadian, our milk used to come in bags. Baggie milk, represent’ wutut) and flour in the middle of the chicken floor. When confronted, innocently state, “Feeding Rusty!” (The Dog.)
  • Shave only a part of the dog with my father’s clippers and calmly state Rusty (dog) needed a hair cut.
  • Take shoes off in a neighbor kids’ yard. Forget where they are. RUN AWAY FROM HOME = LOGICAL DEALING COPING MECHANISM.
  • Throw up guts in the middle of the night in the kitchen sink. When asked, “Are you all right?” Reply between hork with a miserable, “yesBLARG.”
  • Sharpen teeth on a car window.
  • Fall face first out of car door, tangled in seat belt. Land in soft ice cream cone. Bawl that it’s ‘NOT FUNNY 🙁 🙁 🙁 STOP LAUGHING MOM. STOOOOP.”
  • Drink watermelon shampoo because it smelled so good.
  • Throw up in the middle of the night but not tell anyone.  SURPRISE?
  • Run outside with first training bra and hike shirt up to my neck to study it’s lacy goodness in the reflection of a car door. Wonder why mother & Aunt are dying of laughter.
  • Tell a french teacher she, ‘fucking sucked,’ at teaching french. Appear surprised when she gets sent to the principle and detention FOREVER.
  • Go through a three week phase of alternatively spiking hair a foot and a half into the air and flashing itty bitty titties for attention.
  • Take an $80 pair of jeans her grandmother bought her and CUT THEM INTO SHORTS.
  • Steal cigarettes
  • Skip school so much she gets suspended. Instead of telling father, Mother was willing to keep it secret. If her brat went out into the yard and hand pulled all the rocks from it. Acres and acres of lawn by the way.
  • Run away from home at 15, refuse to come home and scare her to death.
That and a lot more. And despite all of that (and the more) she never said she didn’t love me. She never said to anyone in family our outside that she hated me for the things that I did or ended up doing. She may have said as well as stated her disappointment; we never did get along before well after my 20’s because I never understood her–(until I grew up. Funny, that.)–it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter what I did, when someone asked her how they weren’t angry with me forever she said she just looked at them funny and asked, “How could I not? She’s my daughter. How could you not love your daughter, no matter what?”You don’t have to get along with family. You don’t even have to like them. There will be days when you won’t like yourself left alone family…I’ll admit there are some crimes as well as acts within family that can be unforgiveable. For the most part, you love family even when you want to kill them.

My mother never stopped loving me when a weaker person might have given up. I am glad she didn’t, otherwise I would have never grown into the woman I am today.

Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother.
And that’s why to this day, f*@cking shoes.

And that’s why to this day, f*@cking shoes.

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

Click to donate toward Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes

As I’ve mentioned before, when I was very little, we used to live on base in Alberta in a lower income area called Tin Town, named creatively due to the fact the buildings were tin roof and tin siding. When it rained in Tin Town, you felt like you were in a drier full of pennies. A very, very big, hollow, drum like dryer.

Our little house had a front door with a little alcove. I want to say that the paneling there like in the living room was dark and faux wood. The alcove for coats and shoes, the right side split off into the kitchen and the left the living room with large front window. One evening, my mother had spent hours and hours curling my hair, dressing me up. I could not have been any older than two and no younger than one and a half. She curled my hair and put little bows in it, put me in a black crushed velveteen dress with frills at the wrists and a pair of warm leotards. Usually, she’d put on my shoes too.

But this evening as my father and father waited by the door, no one bent down to put on my shoes. They were very pretty shoes if I might add. Shiny black with the tiniest of heels and a single snap-together strap. My mother nodded toward them and told me it was time I learned how to put them on myself. I stood there for a long while staring up at my mother as if she just spoke in tongues and spewed pea soup all over me, blinked, waited a bit longer. When neither my father nor my mother were moved to help the innocent, sweet maiden that I was I sighed loudly then trundled over in my curled and girly glory to my little shoes.

Figuring out how to put these one was equivalent to solving the mystery of life. Listen, I was two, when you are two and distracted by the sound of your own voice EVERYTHING is difficult. I hemmed  I hawed, I fiddled and twisted. I pushed the strap this way and that. I struggled and pitched forward, righted myself then sat on my butt on the floor doing my best to figure out the universe of shoes. A decidedly difficult place, filled with triangulation and algebra. Inside me frustration began to grow as my parents shifted back and forth impatiently. My mother was urging me on but it had turned from that goodhearted You can do it honey! sort of tone, to the, oh my god just snap it closed how hard it can be why did I have kids I need to drink more note. My father grew tired of waiting and marched back to the living room to sit. He told my mom to let me know when Her Majesty was finished or whenever my mother was going to help me put my shoes on.

I think that cemented the fact my mother wasn’t going to help at all, actually. She shot my father a glare then turned back to me with an expectant look.
This was all too much for my two-year old self of course. In a fit of impressive bouncey-curled rage I picked up a shoe and hurled it as hard as I could against the wall nearest me and yelled as loud as I could:


My mother’s eyes were wide as saucers for a split second before she wrinkled her mouth up in a sideways S. My father passed by us quickly mumbling, “Uh, I should go warm up the car–” Making noises suspiciously like snickering. My mother sent him a LOOK, a very wifely LOOK and muttered, “I wonder where she got that from?” Before bending down to help me with my shoes and trying–in between snickering–to tell me about language and what was appropriate for a two year old and what wasn’t.

I got my shoes on and I didn’t have to do it. That’s all that mattered.


Help pay for Mel's tattoo in memory of her mother
Melissa Pence is wife to the husband and wife team here behind 2 phatgeeks. On December 11th, 2011, Melissa lost her mother to a long, difficult battle to diabetes. In her memory, Melissa is blogging 24 hours in order to raise funds for her through the organization: Step Out: End to Walk Diabetes, and for the personal goal to finish a humming bird tattoo on her right arm in memory of her mother.