Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Guilty as Charged

I spoke to my mother for the first time in eight months yesterday. Well, spoke, is putting it lightly. Rather I screamed my head off like a crazy person, engaging in a battle only familiar to those who’ve been in the love-hate tangle of the mother-daughter relationship. About 15 minutes into the phone call I realized I was within ear shot of my 3 and 5 year-old boys. I’m generally not a yeller, and when I hung up I knew I had to talk to my kids.

They were in the living room watching Little Bear in their pj’s still at 11 a.m. They didn’t look up when I came in. I knelt down and called them to me – asked if they’d heard Mama raise her voice, explained sometimes people feel really angry and yell, asked them how it made them feel. My five year old said ‘sad’ and my three year old said ‘scared’. I apologized, kissed them both and made a snack. Depositing goldfish crackers and grapes in front of them, I noticed the wet stain on my younger son Solomon’s pants – that’s when my old archenemy strutted in and sat down on the couch – I like to call her Guilt.

I’m not going to mince words, Guilt is a bitch. Her eyebrows are perfectly plucked, her car is not full of old fast food wrappers and she never yells in front of her kids or forgets to brush their teeth. She is the uninvited guest in every mother’s delivery room. She starts by telling you not to take the epidural, the first night you have your new baby she whispers a reminder that you have no idea what you are doing and then she goes home with you. Her presence is fairly consistent and her daily lectures sound something like this: “Here is the greatest joy and love and challenge of your life and along with the highs I’m going to make sure that you stress over every mistake you make. I’m going to double-check that you never feel that you are giving enough, playing enough, being enough of a mother.”

She raises her eyebrows at you over her Cosmo when you are frustrated at a crying baby, she wags her finger when you turn on Dora so you can take a nap or forget shin guards for soccer practice.

Staring at my little boy’s wet pants Guilt leans over my shoulder and lovingly informs me that I am indeed the worst mother on the face of the earth and should immediately report myself to Child Protective Services. This is the point I usually head for the Ben and Jerry’s or try to remember if my credit card is maxed out because a little shopping therapy would do the trick. Instead I change his pants quietly and move on with my day.

Later that night, I’ve successfully lured Guilt into the guest room with a triple nonfat latte and a book on home schooling. In her absence I remind myself that the day my first son was born mothering became my religion. I think about every game I’ve ever played, trips to the park, spontaneous art projects and living room dance parties I’ve shared with my boys. I think about how I can just look at them and make them laugh. And as I meditate on these little moments my three-year-old approaches with his big brown eyes and cowlick covered head and says with a quivering lip, “Mama, when you were yelling today, I was terrified.”

There is a drop in my stomach, a mixture between those magical first trimester butterfly kicks and a rollercoaster that seems much tamer from the ground. I feel myself reel a bit, and before I call Guilt back in and admit to her that I only ready half of What to Expect When You are Expecting and that a week after Solomon was born I walked into the post office and waited in line for five minutes before I remembered that he was still in the car, I catch myself and take a breath. I glance past his angel-face and notice Guilt is now on the couch, smiling smugly with her shaved legs and designer handbag filled with homemade baby food and signed permission slips. I swallow my confession, smile and face my little boy. “Thank you for telling me that son. I’m so sorry I scared you but sometimes people just get upset and it’s not something to be afraid of. But I really love that you will talk to me about your feelings.”

The lip stops quivering and he hugs me now, hard with his delicate little body and as he draws back he puts his hand on my cheek and says “I love you Mama, even when you’re loud.”
I think of my own mother now and how Guilt must’ve looked in her tube top and platforms sitting in our avocado-green kitchen thirty years ago. I say a silent prayer that I will never allow any disagreement with my children to create eight months of silence between us and decide that tomorrow my son’s and I will have no uninvited visitors in the house. We’ll color and do a little gardening and maybe even watch a little TV. in the afternoon while mama enjoys a much deserved afternoon nap.

First Love

Love comes in many forms. A scruffy white puppy, a new black sports car with leather interior, a man who never forgets to take out the garbage. For my five year-old son Cai, love was once Scooby Doo movies and a 64 pack of Crayola crayons with a sharpener. But after five long years on this earth his love has taken on a new form and her name is Sophia.

My boy is sheltered; I’ll be the first to admit it. Don’t get me wrong, he knows about reincarnation and stranger-danger and the perils of ‘grown-up drinks’ – but I have taught my son very little about romantic love and the opposite sex. I guess I just figured that I would answer questions as they came up. And the truth is the only one who has asked any questions is my three year-old Solomon.

Several weeks ago as I dried off from a shower Solomon looked up from his play-dough very earnestly and said, “Mama, you have a no-penis, right?” I kind of shrugged and agreed. He then asked if he could check and seeing no harm in it I dropped my towel and he leaned forward with a furrowed brow toward my crotch and then looked up at me, held up a finger in determination and decidedly said, “I’m going to check around back.” Standing there with a wet towel held to my chest as my toddler bent at the waist behind me and declared, “Nope, Mama, not here either,” I decided maybe I had withheld too much information.

As parents we want our children to know enough about the world to grow without ruining the blissful innocence they are born with. While Solomon hasn’t quite grasped the concept of boy parts and girl parts, both my boys understand that they are ‘gentleman’ if they open the door for someone and that when people fall in love they have babies together. However there are no kissy-noised taunts or teasing in our house about preschool girlfriends or love. This is not to say I think good natured teasing of this sort is damaging – but coming from a family where my father gave joking ‘hickey-checks’ to me and my sixth grade girlfriends, I guess I am trying to keep my baby a baby a little bit longer.

So romance snuck up on us, Cai and I. Love is a subtle thing and I think it was the authenticity of this first crush that really floored me. Not knowing about these kinds of feelings I have witnessed Cai experience romantic love in its purest form. My son is a clown and usually if he likes someone he puts on his best comedy routine for them. However, Sophia is different.

On a school field trip after most of the children were seated he leaned over to me as we waited in line and in a quiet and disappointed little voice said, “I really wanted to sit next to her Mama,” nodding toward Sophia and her Shirley Temple curls. Well, being the push-to-the-front-of-the-parade kind of mom I am, I made sure a seat was made available next to her and then I watched with fondness and a pang as my slapstick boy sat quietly with his hands tucked between his legs, stealing occasional glances at the little girl next to him. His smile was a mix between Mona-Lisa and Pepe Le Pew when his pupils turn to pulsating hearts and he faints. The feeling this gave me fell somewhere between utter love for my boy and heartbreak of the knowledge that he could love another woman.

So now it’s been three weeks since Cai has mentioned Sophia. And when I volunteer at his school there is no evidence of the shy fascination that I saw last month. Love is fickle and fleeting, even, especially for five year-old boys and I realize now that it is I that will crumble with each heartbreak, with each passing crush. So I think I’ll quit the sappy mom routine and pull myself up by my bootstraps. I’ve been thinking about telling my son about romance and butterflies and give him a definition for all these feelings that have cropped up. Mulling over his innocence yesterday and beginning a ‘birds and the bees’ lecture in my head, Cai snuggled next to me on the couch to watch an old episode of Scooby Doo. He then began to explain to me how two genies on the show were very different.

“See Mama, one is a boy and one is a girl. She’s pretty smart and he’s really dopey. Oh, and he’s ugly and she’s hot. Not like temperature hot Mama, like you know, like girl-hot.”

He looked up at me expectantly with an expression that was too-wise and a little smug. He knew exactly what he was talking about, and suddenly I knew that all I had tried to keep away from him had been there all along. “You do know, right Mama?” he waited.

I stared at his sweet five year-old face, and had a moment that we are all familiar with. It is a sensation particular to mothers, a visceral feeling, one that tells you time is passing too quickly and our babies are growing up. I snuggled a little closer to him and smiled my bravest smile.

“Yes, son. Yes, I do know.”

Statement of Intent

I find myself obsessively writing in my head and I am trying to put some action behind the busywork bullshit. So here is my statement of intent:

I want to create a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction by writing something everyday.

Ok, I came up with this five days ago and this is only the second day I've written - but that's something damnit. And this is something to. More tomorrow, I promise...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Jezzie's Girl

Out on the road today I saw a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac.
A little voice inside my head said don’t look back you can never look back

Those days are gone forever, I should just let them go, but

I’ve been obsessively listening to this song. I’m like an ad for eighties post-traumatic stress disorder. I miss being young and spontaneous and carefree and I’m reminding myself to be these things more.

I went to the doctor this morning. Massive soft tissue damage she said with a curved Iranian accent. She says it takes a long time to heal and any sudden jarring, any spontaneous, heavy, careless movement will send me right back where I started from. Her brow furrows at my children playing on the floor, oreo icing stains their cheeks. She eyes the permanent marker 8 on my forearm – tells me to be careful. I tell her I'm trying not to be.

A new friend of mine says she’s trying to pin me down, but I keep moving. We began as business acquaintances. She is far superior in the art of the savvy business woman. I use my heart, she uses her head. I trip and fumble, she sails through a master. After a long courtship she met my children last week. Contemplating one of her own she was pleasantly surprised – they were not the equivalent of feral Chihuahuas. Then she found out about derby. Yes, roller derby.

When I was a kid I lived on a hill. Not a big hill, but a hill and I didn’t have a mobile mother and I didn’t know of any parks and so I tried in vain to skate at a nearby school. Void of a single flat space I scraped my knees and layered scar tissue for weeks before I put my shiny new skates in the closet for good. 33 years old and I shyly call a new roller derby league nearby. I know this is for me. 3 months later I am Jezebel Jett. On skates I am fearless and calm. I’m on flat ground now. I can skate with my ass dragging on the floor I’m so low. I can skate on one foot without falter. Last Sunday I spent fighting for my life. Skating my ass off against women years ahead of me. They took me out time and again and I got up without fail. Finally I hopped off the court and drove home with my left foot pressed down hard.

Last week a boy I used to know saw I boyfriend I used to know. Apparently he is a cop now with a beautiful woman on his arm. The night before I knew this I dreamed of sharks. That next night I dreamt of one of the only two fair-haired boys I ever touched and saw him underwater, floating eyes wide open and smiling with a beautiful blonde girl at his side. I swear there’s a picture of this somewhere. I’ll find it oneday.

As for the boy who saw the boyfriend – he is the stereotypical unrequited love who will forever hold a place in my psyche. He occupies a little corner, occasionally stretches out and rises to the top. I’m always glad to see him.

Back to skating and soft tissue, etc. I will heal slowly now. I’m not that girl those boys knew once. I’m not as thin or firm or nieve. But soft is good, as long as you know how to do it right.

Oh, Mexico...

I look backward too much, forward with fear, shut my eyes to the day, or just can’t focus on it. 12 days in Mexico and I am floating, buoyed, at moments drowning a little. Where to begin is always a question too. How about right now. I am in 8 floors up in the state of Jalisco, the Penthouse aptly named Cielito Lindo. The house is open air so the sea breeze is unyielding, the weather is nothing short of perfect. I can see giant brown pelicans sailing by, parasails with tiny passengers landing on the beach below our deck. Decadence or not, this country has always felt like home to me. Whether that is because I have been so many times or because I am genetically and culturally linked I don’t know. My great-grandparents, two sets of them worked their way up the California coast, farm by farm to reach the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. Two of their children met at the C&H Sugar factory in Crockett. My grandmother is 93 now, tells me that my grandfather promised her the moon and stars and she smiles and rolls her eyes.

Whatever the reason this is a country I could call home. I love to walk everywhere here. The cobblestones streets, full of potholes, littered with bougenvillia blossoms and trash. The smells of food and garbage and dirt of the jungle, the car exhaust, the coffees and pastries and dirty water thrown into the streets. The people here with the men who will at once pinch your children’s cheeks with such sincerity and eye their mother with machismo approval. One somehow does not nullify the other. For this I am truly grateful.

Our first day here my boys had the privilege to release baby sea turtles fostered by a rescue project there. Solomon had to be fought when he discovered his turtle would not be his forever – he loves all little things and all baby animals and had to be held back as the little turtles desperately made their way to the surf. He lived off of shrimp for the first week. We all expected him to be sick but he scarfed down literally dozens of them everyday until he finally moved on to cheese quesadillas and apple juice which he has consumed twice a day for the past week.

Both the boys have worked hard to use their Spanish. They now say Gracias and Hola without prodding. They pronounce Mexico without the hard English X and name colors and count all in Spanish. I realize what general jerks we Americans are when people constantly comment to me about the kids use of their language and my own. We have been complimented quite a lot and I am very proud to have learned such a beautiful language and have the ability to practice what I know without fear.

The days here have been undeniably incredible. We take taxis to town and shop for Hernandez Talavera pottery – colorful and graceful bowls and coffee mugs. We purchased a gorgeous sink for our little casita we are building in the backyard and handpainted signs for both houses. ‘Bluehaven’ and ‘Casita de Los Hijos’ for our little project on the back of the property. The bougenvillia is dripping from every window here and I am so grateful I planted some in our back yard this past summer. I plan to plant more this spring.

The house here is amazing. Four bedrooms with four giant bathrooms and an enormous great room with a fountain in the living room and the entire front of the house is shuttered so that you can open it up and live outdoors. Our bedroom is the only one with an open air bathroom. The shower has only pony walls and looks out onto the city. While the days are magnificent here is it the nights that have brought me most pleasure. Showering in this amazing bathroom has been nothing short of an experience. Looking out on the lights of the city and seeing the sunset, the clouds moving over the mountains. Smelling the rich sea air and hearing the surf. Feeling completely exposed but so private, surrounded by deep blue tiles inset with sunshine and giant handpainted pots full of flowering cactus.

Yesterday I showered earlier than usual. The sun was just going down and the light was filtered and airy. Two buildings away there is a rooftop several floors below that is usually pitch dark to me but yesterday I examined the empty hot tub and sprawling tiled expanse, empty reclining chairs and noticed a girl standing there. She rested her chin on her hands leaning against the side of the rooftop looking off toward the ocean. She wore jeans and a tanktop. A Mexican girl but I couldn’t see if she was 15 or 30, or what she was looking at but after a while I thought maybe she was watching someone or thought someone was watching her. After a few minutes I noticed her touch her lips and pull her hand slightly away. She did this three, four times and then slowly turned and walked across the rooftop, up a small flight of steps onto a higher platform – almost stagelike. She then turned to face the sea again and touched her hand to her lips, reached out her arm to the sky and did this several times. She then slowly walked down the steps and out of sight.

Two days ago we all took a day trip to Las Caletas – a beachfront location only accessible by boat. We spent the trip there drinking coffee, eating mangos and dancing to Merengue music. When we arrived we went snorkeling, Cai and I took a cooking class and made the best paella I’ve ever eaten. Thick chunks of Mahi Mahi, prawns, lobster, blue crab, squid and octopus, onions, peppers. Two days later my nails are still the color of saffron. We watched wild macaws, took pictures with a spider monkey and then I taught the boys food like this should only be eaten with your hands. Fresh lemonade, cold sangria and flan con pay de queso followed. Truly the best meal we’ve had to date.

I have slept better here than I have in a long time. Except last night when I began to think about home and the enormous stress waiting for me. So today I made a list, an oath of sorts to take my life back from the stress and anxiety which has plagued me and robbed me of the past six months. I am going to do my very best to determine my own destiny now. However I digress. Sleeping has been simply sinful here. Clean white sheets, no need for a blanket. We drink sangria in the hottub as the sun goes down, play dice until we are too sleepy to keep score and roll into bed without a sound. The mornings the kids wake up happy and rested. We loll around and drink coffee until we decide if we will hit town or the beach or the pool first. My favorite restaurant is a little hole in the wall down the street. They are only open until 1 and some days only offer two things on the menu which are usually eggs and bacon with homemade guacamole, beans and fresh tortillas. I think I could eat just that forever and vow to figure out how to eat this more without gaining 20 pounds when I get home. We used to cook Mexican a couple of times a week until I decided that health and fitness would win out. Tamales, quesadillas and rellenos were part of our standard fare am I am determined to figure a healthy way to do that again.

Only two days left to enjoy, just wanted to jot a few things down so as not to forget it all.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cat's Cradle

Driving home tonight on highway 50. The big fluorescent sign says snow ahead, chains required. I turn the music up and hold my hand up to the wind as I pass the strip club. Feel the wind push my palm and send a greeting to the sad girls inside and the best they could do. Tonight I spent the evening over fish tacos and chocolate chip cheesecake with my friend Charr. We sat beneath plaster pyramids and tuxedo clad busboys. False idols and all, we sifted through the wreckage and helped each other salvage colored threads. Wove them together like children. Cats cradle. She grasps the awkward tangle with both hands and turns it toward the ground. I hold steady til she takes over and try to figure the next move. I tell her of missing cats and upended psyches. She talks over mothers, lovers and the cross between. Crying over diet coke she tells me of seminars and leaving things behind. I hunch over and hike up my load. A good soldier never complains.

The road is slick from new rain and I push down on the gas, wonder if the headlights behind me are a police car. I turn the music up and think of my father, a boy I loved when I was 16. My father hated him and I can’t leave him behind. 30 years earlier and my father would’ve put a shotgun to his chest for not properly ringing the doorbell. 30 years later and I will still wonder why this boy didn’t love me right, why I didn’t get my own gun.

Cats to the wind I sit up straight in the driver’s seat and say hello to the demons. Charr says her father mutters hello to all bad thoughts. Like a crazy old steward he cheerily croaks hello to the TV, the bathroom sink, the cold soup.

Tonight a gaudy glorious dress in yellow taffeta snickers next to me. I think of the first photo Charr took of me. Black cotton on top of a ladder I see her fall to the floor suddenly in this tardy prom dress. Land soft like a drunk all thud, moss and pink roses. The girl in black would’ve fractured and limped for days. This woman in yellow and pink frill would roll easily and rise. Strap on roller skates and take them for all they’re worth.

Happy Birthday

I wish I could think of more metaphors for ‘crossroads’. I can tell this is going to be sticky. I’m rusty, you see. I’ve been writing in my head all day and on and off for months but never actually typing or putting a pen to paper.

I am at so many different crossroads my head is spinning. I’m so confused and so clear on so many things I can’t decide if I am right where I should be or upside-down.

I’ll just start at the moment and branch out. I am sitting in front of my wood stove, my old dog next to me, my children asleep in new bunkbeds nearby. Their room smells of freshly cut wood, the Christmas tree branches I’m burning to keep our little house warm. As a surprise my father transformed their teeny-tiny bedroom with a twin and a closet to a boy’s dream. Built-in custom bunkbeds with pirate sheets, new pillows and quilts and a ladder to scale a dozen times every day. I’m drinking eggnog because it doesn’t expire until January 2nd. It is exactly 8:30 p.m. on December 27 and 34 years ago I was six hours old. Today is my birthday. I can never resist writing on this day. I see meaning in birthdays. Not in the astrological sense – although that whole deal amuses me. I see meaning in the dates. For instance, the day my son was born my grocery checker and my pharmacist bore babies as well. I had no idea until my son was a couple of months old and on the same day both women asked me my son’s age and I asked their children’s birthdates. Crazy. What does it mean? Maybe nothing but it feels like something to me. A close friend had her third baby yesterday and I so hoped he would be born on my birthday. Instant kismet I think. We would be kindred spirits. He would instantly be my favorite. They induced yesterday and now he’s just another kid.

I have been reading my first novel in a year this week and it feels like going home. I have missed reading and pulled the book off of my grandmother’s shelf so I think of her with every page. Wonder what she was doing when she read it. Wishing I could read it with her. Book club with ghosts. I’m thinking of ways to remember her, honor her. Thinking of systematically reading every book in her collection. Contemplating planting a blue garden in the spring. Bachelor buttons, delphinium and forget-me-nots – all her favorites, and mine.

I don’t know if this will come about. I want to honor the dead and celebrate the living but haven’t found the balance yet. Tattooed my own foot to remind me, still escapes. Next tattoo will be a string around my finger, yellow ribbon in my hair.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Too little, too late

I just had a moment of complete wimpy break-down sorrow reading that they have a man held on the murder of Jon Benet Ramsey. The whole deal is unbelievably awful and fucked-up.

However, it is her mother's death that really gets me. One fucking month later they find this guy? After the whole world thought she had killed her baby, including me. I'm just really hoping right now that there is another place - that she's somewhere watching, that justice may be served.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Growing pains

Jaya is away on business for two days and this afternoon when the kids and I said goodbye and headed to our friend’s pool (it was 105!) Cai was slow on the take. “You mean we won’t see Papa for two days?” he said a little panicked as we pulled out of driveway. I said yes and when I glanced in the rearview mirror his little face had crumbled as if his heart were breaking. “Honey what’s wrong?” I felt a little panicked me. “I’ll miss him” he cried as I pulled over and flagged his Papa down who reassured our sweet boy. It really took all my energy not to cry with him. He broke down again at bedtime. Partially out of exhaustion but also really because his emotions are developing as is his sense of time. He misses his Papa, I miss him too. And while we are reminded he is still a little boy, there are gigantic signs of growth as well. Today while his whiney baby brother and I bickered the way only an overtired two year-old and a cranky had-it-up-to-here foul-tempered mother could Mordecai was climbing into the refrigerator. “What are you doing?” I said in an annoyed and nasty tone that I quickly regretted. “Oh Mama, I just thought I could find Choco some yogurt to make him feel better.” Worst mother of the year award goes to…

Later I am in the backyard overseeing home improvements when the two brothers come out in their boots – Mordecai had put Choco’s on for him – this makes me tear up just writing it. Finally, when I came in from the yard again the two were busily coloring in the living room, each with a juice box. Cai had decided they needed a cool drink, he tells me.

Tonight they sleep in a room together again. My whole life is in the back of this house under quilts and surrounded by stuffed green dogs and dragons.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Scary, but true

These are two stories that Mordecai told me last week while we were trading scary stories on the couch. I was so impressed I asked him to tell them again while I madly typed them into my computer.

“Once upon a time there was a horse named Bucko and he loved to pick flowers and eat oats. But he always wore his horse shoes but he didn’t know what people were called. So he tried to talk to people but he couldn’t and they sent him outside. And he go’ed home and he was dressed in an Indian costume and he took his indian costume off and they sended him outside. Um, the end.”

“One day there was a castle in the woods that always had a red balloon tied to the chimney. One day a skeleton was walking along the path and he sawed the house and he said what a beautiful house ane he go’ed to see it. It was rainbow and he thougt it looked like a good place to live in and he wished he had a house like that. He went inside and found cobwebs and skeletons. More skeletons jumped out and said Boo! and they were his friends. The end.”

Then, Solomon gave it a shot:

“Da bear wuz in da woods. He say BOO! End.”

Whispering now:

“Ske-tons in da house. Day walkin and jump up and BOO! Da End.”

My heart leaps for the people who win the hearts of these two.

Stuff to remember

Cai is walking around in circles in his soccer shirt and his new Incredibles underpants. Like everyday, they are on backwards and he has removed his soccer shorts agreeing to put them on five minutes before we leave because he wants ‘everyone’ to see the picture. Everyone consists of Chocolate and myself. The former is following Cai around chanting just like his brother “T-O Robot, T-O Robot.” I have no idea what this means and I’m too tired to ask. Choco is wearing a pair of Cai’s old underpants over his diaper and a chocolate milk stained batman wife-beater. He has one yellow snow glove on his hand which is a habit that we hope does not reflect any MJ tendencies. He is talking like crazy. He is bossy as hell. One of his new favorite words is ‘actually’ which he can work into a 60 second conversation 12 times. “Achally Mama, my puppy-dog. Achally it’s mine and I’m go to da park. Achally Mama, you sit here, now! Achally Mama, we watch Little Bear?”

His other favorite new game (imitated from his brother) is that he’s a magician. His magic words are either “Magic-Patagic” or “Aga Da-daba!” The second is by far my favorite.

The boys have now gone to sleep in the same room for two nights and counting. Up to this point Cai has gone to bed in his room on a toddler bed mattress on the floor and Solomon has slept in a playpen in our room, and in our bed. Cai had a great train bed that he got for his third birthday that he decided one day was not suitable for sleeping. He moved to a little futon on the floor and once I got rid of the train bed agreed to sleep on the mattress alone. Now he’s back on the futon and Choco is on the mattress. They are becoming really good friends and I’m doing my best to teach them how brothers are supposed to act. While they do the inevitable puppy-playing and fighting, I’m hopeful that they are learning to love and protect each other, to be loyal and kind to each other.

Cai is taking soccer now and is a machine. The boy is aggressive and competitive and his coach puts him into scrimmages against three and four kids because all the other four year olds are kind of dazed and just there for fun. My boy is there for fun, but it’s the winning kind. Right now we are just supporting him, but soon we’ll have to show him that you don’t have to be the best. Solomon and Cai are both doing gymnastics and we are all swimming a lot now that summer is here. Last week we spent a week at the cabin and spent hours in the creek and on the lake in my father’s boat.

Solomon also spends a lot of time singing these days. He will either sing unintelligible lyrics of his own making or he takes requests. I usually ask him to sing about his Mama and how wonderful she is. Mordecai is a coloring machine as well. Give the boy crayons and a coloring book, especially one with super heroes, and he’s good for hours. Let’s hope these things last, what more could I want than an artist and a musician?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I’ve just had the realization that I’m dying. Not in the philosophical sense like wow I’m going to inevitably die. I’ve realized that I think I’m dying, or I wish to be dying or maybe that I’m most comfortable on death row. It may be something obvious that strangers will now say, thank god the dumb bitch finally figured it out. But I just realized I live my life like I’m counting my days, my days as a woman, as a mother, as a human being.

I guess for some time I’ve realized that I am hyper aware of the impermanence of things, but I never realized that I might have something in common with cancer patients, middle aged men on sinking ships, suicidal teenage girls. Ok, maybe not all of them. But I have this thing where I smell the roses, touch my children, talk about how short a time we have, too too much. It is an exhausting way to live. I have often wished to be someone who is joyfully unaware of all these things. Of how important life is and how quickly, quietly and often unexpectedly it goes. It is the unexpectedness of it all that I think I dread most. It is the reason I am peeking around every corner. It is the reason I say a prayer at every turn. I hate the idea that everything will disappear. I am sure it will happen in the moment I feel the most love for my children, the most joy for this amazing life I have been given. So while I try my damdest to soak up this life, I’m holding my breathe the whole time. I never really have that moment, where I lose myself to the utter joy – the second I feel it coming on I look over my shoulder for strangers, check the distance for looming tidal waves. Balance is most elusive for me. How do I appreciate all this without being afraid to lose it? I just don’t fucking know. What I know is that I’m counting my days. Numbers often distract a person. Addition, multiplication. While that side of my brain is working overtime, I’m missing the paintings, the waterfalls, the moments where everything lets go and there is nothing to think about but now.

Just words

I just found this I wrote in April and I don't know if I ever posted it...

I think I have a literary disorder. I’m like an anorexic, refusing to allow myself to indulge in writing. Taking every alternative to avoid getting it out. What happens is that it runs through my head constantly. But with no where to rest, it just trickles away and disintegrates.

But I guess I don’t feel skinny like an anorexic. Maybe I’m bulimic. Fat and overindulgent. Full of thoughts and feelings and moments that I don’t, won’t let go of. But I guess then I wouldn’t be fat. So maybe I’m a compulsive eater turning bulimic. Time to start puking all this stuff up.

Have I mentioned I published a magazine? That I’m obsessed with roller derby? That at 1 a.m. last night after waking from a nightmare my now four year old wrapped his arms around my neck and said, “Mama, I’m so proud of you for working so hard.” When I asked what work he said, “Oh, you know, rubbing my back and take care of me and all dat stuff.” Have I mentioned I miss my grandmother? Or that my baby, who is a month and five days from being two, is the most adorable wonderful tiny person I could imagine?

Tonight I’m watching Peggy Sue Got Married on the old VCR in our cabin. I’ll admit it, the movie is a sentimental favorite of mine. Even as a teenager it appealed to me. Going back in time and enjoying what you have. I love how her grandmother calls and she drops the phone, how her sister is shocked when she’s happy to see her. It reminds me to appreciate all this, and to tell the people I love how I feel. Not so long ago I had four grandparents, I am down to one and I haven’t seen her in three months. That needs to change.