Archive for August, 2009

thinky thots thursday

Returning for your (and mostly my) amusement, this week’s installment of unintentional nuttiness from my kids:

“Can I suck your thumb? Mine’s too yucky right now.”

“Never give up, my friends, never give up…. ARRGGH I CAN’T DO IT!”

“Can I have a lemon and a plastic bag? I’m going to make a pretend stomach.”

“Is it time to marsh the mellows?”

“No, I’m the firestarter!”

“Do we have any extra feet around here?”

And, my personal favorite: “Ready, blastoff, go! INTERNATIC SPACESHIP!!!”

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please sir, could i have some more

After one has spent considerable time and attentiveness to getting pregnant, one becomes reflexively habitual about noticing signs and symptoms that could point to anything other than the monthly scarlet drip. Recently I had some highly unusual things appear in unmentionable places, unusual enough to make me wonder if our birth control had somehow failed. It was too soon to test, however, and we were headed to a week-long vacation in a remote area. I would have to be patient.

My first reaction was one of utter panic. We have two children, two bedrooms, one-and-a-quarter incomes, one private school tuition and one preschool tuition. As they say, you do the math. Even more than that, my mental and emotional resources are already strained wafer-thin, and the additional of a sleepless, squalling newborn (or even the preceding throes of nausea and cumbersome swelling) would crack my veneer of togetherness like Lady Shalott’s curse.

But then something else seeped in, something so strange and irrational I could hardly admit it: hope. Hope for a new baby, for the peace of midnight nursings, for deep inhalations of that fuzzy head, for round cheeks and delicate fingers and bodhisattva eyes, for my heart contracting again around a new and tiny love.

All week as I waited and wondered, vacillating between desire and dread, I imagined life with one more. I thought of names, of what corner we could realistically wedge the crib into, of all the maternity clothes I’d shipped away years ago. Of the staggering diaper budget.

And then, the last day of our vacation, I got an answer from within. That smear of pink held both the elation of freedom and the crumpled sorrow of emptiness. Even now, as my breasts still inexplicably ache I wonder if perhaps there is a thin possibility, a pregnancy, despite the bleeding evidence to the contrary.

It is a strange place to be, firmly grounded in relief and common sense, yet drifting and dreamy with a fit of the perhapses. I know there’s no baby, and I won’t play with fertile fire, but maybe it is ok to occasionally imagine tiny shrieks in the night. Or maybe it will feed my desire so that it outgrows its bounds of reason like that Seussian goldfish outgrew its bowl. What do you do, when you want another, but you don’t?

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strange, varying strings

Tomorrow we pack up the car and drive off into the wilderness for a week, a vacation I’ve very much been looking forward to, one where internet tubes are scarce or nonexistent and there will be an abundance of entertaining items such as trees and rocks and water and not much else. A vacation where my husband will actually be both physically and mentally present, where lots of Uno will be played, s’mores will be eaten, and general filth, stickiness and sunscreen will reign over all. People, I say unto you: we are bringing our WATER SANDALS.

Of course, those of you following me on Twitter will know that suddenly the timing of this vacation strikes me as one hundred percent fucked. Things are possibly afoot, troubling things, whomping freakout things, and I won’t know whether they are or are not a certainty until we return. Perhaps I will whittle myself some I Ching sticks or contemplate tea leaves or check the pH balance of nearby weeds – but, as many of us know, I will learn nothing from this except that whittling is hard, yo.

Until then, imagine for me a single bright rosy line, innocuously pointing to nothing ahead, nothing to worry about, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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the thief of time

I’ve been meaning to start on my novel for over two years. (Yes, everyone has a novel or screenplay or Taj Mahal in the works, I know. But this is my Very Ambitious Project so I get to write about it here. On my Considerably Less Ambitious Blog.) I have a very pretty good sense of the plot, main characters, etc, and I think about it all the time. It’s sort of what I do in the time most people reserve for daydreaming: I write this novel in my head.

I’ve never actually written anything down though, save for a few scene sketches now and again. The problem is — wait for it — I never feel like I have enough time. (Cue chorus of tiny mournful violins.) Something as officially serious as writing a book seems like it deserves a little cabin on a lake, Underwood waiting on a rough pine desk, whiskey at the ready, walking stick leaning by the door. Or at least an uninterrupted chunk of time: no nagging children, looming appointments, laundry backloads, or oppressive should-do lists hanging over the consciousness. Am I right?


Let’s get back to that in a minute.

The other night we had dinner with a friend, one who is a practitioner of various New Age psycho-spiritual medicine, what I tend to think of as deeply woo-woo and somewhat dubious. But she is also possessed of some very intense wisdom, and can see straight to the heart of matters, and… well let’s just say she uses her powers for good, and I love her for it.

She mentioned all the messages she’s been getting from the universe, about what she is meant to do and where she is meant to go. Strange, synchronous events, things I would just consider funny coincidence, she interprets as fate, a sort of breadcrumb trail left by the universe for us to find our way.

Anyway, she was asking how I’ve been lately, and I mentioned feeling stuck. Stuck with not finding much writing work. “Well, what do you want to be writing,” she asked, “if it could be anything, money aside?” The answer, of course, was my novel. Her next question, obviously, was why aren’t you writing it? And I think my stock reply about time actually made her eyes cross.

And that was the point where she gently, but expertly, hacked my excuses to bits. Actually, what she did was hand me the axe, so I could do it myself. What was I afraid of, she wanted to know, and when I said, it’s more than I’m afraid it won’t be good: I’m terrified I actually don’t have anything meaningful to say, and that I’ll only find it out when I sit down and try to say it.

Aha! You will stop procrastinating when you ask the universe for help. Try asking your astral self for a safe landing. You have something to say. You will say it well. Just trust. And just do it.

See what I mean? Deeply woo-woo. But I thought about what she said, and thought about my novel, and thought about my astral self and the universe and old Nike campaigns.

That night, we came home and when I checked on the kids, I noticed Shriekeuse had fallen asleep with her hands clasped across her chest. In an attitude of prayer. Because she had recently become  obsessed with God and prayer, I realized that’s exactly what she had been doing, praying. And because I was starting to feel a bit out of my depth with all the God talk (and Monsieur Shriek was plain old freaked), I decided to take her to church. Which was, conveniently, coincidentally, the following morning.

And what do you suppose the sermon was about?


How waiting is both an opportunity and a curse. A curse because we allow ourselves to stop, and let whatever it is we’re waiting for come to us. And an opportunity because we can take a breath and act, or notice, or feel, or pray, or listen for that hint from the universe.

Since then I can’t seem to take a step without tripping over a coincidence. At the very moment I pick up the phone to call a friend, an email from her arrives in my inbox. I hear that another old friend got the same diagnosis I did, at the same time. The mysterious song I woke up with in my head is playing when I turn on the radio. I call a neighbor to come over with her kids at the moment they arrive at our gate.

So, I decided to listen to my friend. My friend the ambassador of the universe, the cosmic fax machine. I stopped waiting. I burned down the cabin in my mind, hurled the typewriter into the lake and snapped the walking stick in two across my knee (but  I kept the whiskey).

This morning, I set the timer for one hour and I wrote. I wrote a page, and believe me it is a hideous page, but I wrote it. I sat in my chair and I didn’t fool around on twitter or look up obscure synonyms in the dictionary, or jot down a grocery list. I wrote a page, the first page, of my novel.

Thanks, universe.

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iron or gold

Most days I’m happy. To hear me talk though, you’d think all the drudgery and tedium and stress of housewifing, parenting, and freelancing dominated my emotional space. But really, it’s the interstitials that set the overall tone: watching ants with my son, talking about Gooney Bird Greene plot lines with my daughter on our way to camp, brushing their hair after bath time, watching them sleep, the mad scramble for stone fruit samples at the weekend farmer’s market, the little pebbles I find in my son’s pockets, the shared WTF? glance with my husband when one of the kids says something nutso, folding their little clothes, a walk at sunset as the light changes.

These little moments are strung together like a paper chain, linking joy to joy, sustaining me through the spikes of fatigue and frustrations that plague us all. I tend to talk about the latter more, wring my hands out loud with worry and anxiety. But I want to document here, for myself, that mostly? I’m happy. There is joy. And it’s everywhere.

It’s the crash of an upended box of Legos, the row of sippy cups lining our dishwasher, whiffle balls scattered on the lawn. It’s laughing faces in the rain, it’s cuddles during the scary parts of the movie, it’s watching dandelions float away on the breeze.

It’s bare feet in the morning.


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