Thursday, July 31, 2008

Phobia

I found myself completely out of super plus, mega-absorbent, big as a trailer tampons right when I needed them.

I rushed to my small, local grocery store to buy a box, but they were sold out.

I don't typically spend a lot of time in the tampon aisle checking for new features and weighing my options so I just grabbed a box that looked like Husky Texan Tampons that could alternatively be used to chink holes in log cabins.

Later, I noticed that I had bought a product called The Pearl by Tampax.

Try as I might, I couldn’t figure out what was so “pearly” about this giant, cotton product.

What was the “pearl” feature and what was it supposed to be doing for me?

What did "pearl" MEAN?


I read the box.

I looked at the insert.

Nothing.


[Fire your ad agency, Tampax!]

Since I have no shame coupled with a relentless need to UNDERSTAND, I accosted my (female) colleague and said,


“Have you heard of these “Pearl” Tampax? What’s the Pearl part about?”

She hadn’t heard of them, but she was willing to brainstorm.

[We are nothing if not a problem-solving team at work.]

Hmmm. Pearl…,” she said. “It brings to mind smooth edges. Does it have a paper or plastic applicator?”

“Plastic,” I said.

“Well!” she said. “That’s not very environmentally friendly. I thought Tampax’s whole thing was the PAPER applicator.”

“True,” I said. “It’s Playtex who have the petal-soft, plastic applicator, right?”

“Ugh!” she groaned. “I hate those because the opening where the tampon comes out makes the applicator look like it has teeth. I can’t use those. I’m not getting tampon teeth anywhere near... you know...”

I have never heard of this phobia before, this fear of tampon teeth.

What shall we call it?



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stromness

Apparently he had been circling our table for a while, but we hadn't noticed.

[He found this increasingly frustrating.]

But I am ahead of myself.

After making absolutely SURE that the Loch Ness Scotch would never be seen again, Deana and I hitch hiked to the north eastern coast of Scotland and took a ferry to the Orkney Islands.

[Known for their disturbingly small ponies.]



After spending a lot of time at the wharf pretending that the ferry horns were the sound of my mighty wind escaping, we found our way to the local pub.



It was 10:30 p.m., but we were so far north that outside the windowless bar room it was still quite sunny.


We did not yet know that drinking (excessively) in an establishment without windows in the far north of Scotland would result in the eerie experience of stumbling out to broad daylight at midnight only to find yourself surrounded by a swarm of short, fat ponies.

[Effing scary Shetlands.]

Anyway, Deana and I were in the bar talking to each other about the year 1066, the Battle of Hastings and the awesomeness of flipping ones bean, when we failed to notice the tall, lanky guy circling.

Finally he gave up and came up to our table.

"When are you guys going to notice me?" he asked.

[Some line, we thought.]

"Seriously, I've been trying to get your attention for an hour. I'm by myself. You have to adopt me," he said.

He was really tall.

[He even had really tall arms and legs.]

His face kind of reminded us of Howdy Doody... if Howdy Doody had grown up to be handsome.... and really, really tall.

"I'm Hal," he said, "from Idaho."

Deana and I were from Chicago and neither of us had ever met anyone from Idaho.

Idaho was an idea as far as we knew.

Hal pulled up a chair and spent the rest of the night introducing us to his many charms.

When we finally left the bar, we saw the northern lights for the first time.

[Beats the HELL out of those weird little ponies.]

Hal traveled with us back across the water to the mainland and then down the length of western Scotland.

He parted with us at the road to the Hebrides, at which point Deana and I set out for London. I had to meet my family who were coming to spend a few weeks in Europe.

Hal met up with me in Rome and traveled with my family throughout southern Italy.

He and I parted with them in Pompeii and traveled on to Greece where I was scheduled to meet my friend Sophia.

Corfu, Athens, Santorini... Hal was there for all of it.

There was never anything romantic between Hal and I, nor Hal and Deana, but a deep and lasting friendship was created that summer.

I guess I'm thinking of Hal and Deana this morning...

Five days ago Hal and his wife had their first child, a son named Calvin.

Then, yesterday, my friend Deana put her dog Cosmo to sleep after thirteen years of loyal companionship.

Hal is elated. Deana is devastated.

Maybe it's the proximity of these happenings, birth and death, joy and grief, that remind me of the night we all met.

The sun too blindingly bright, too late, followed by the magic and mystery of the northern lights seen for the first time.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Anything She Wants

K and I try to be politically correct parents, we really do.

We have tried to explain to The Mayor and The Rooster that when they grow up they can be anything they want to be regardless of their genders,
but The Rooster always defies us.

"When I grow up, I'm going to be a dinosaur! A butterfly! Maisy Mouse!"

How am I supposed to tow the party line with aspirations like these?


[Oh, the literal mother.]

Yesterday in the car, she and I were talking about K and she said,

"When I grow up, I want to be my Daddy because I love him SO much."

Then she mused,
"Daddy... he's my... he's my... CUPCAKE."

Too bad she's not sixteen, I think he would have bought her a convertible if she had asked for one.


Glee

Monday, July 28, 2008

Torch Song

I knew when I interviewed him there would be trouble.

When he came to the office before his second interview to drop out of the running, I talked him out of it and hired him.

Though we were the same age, he had just graduated from a small Quaker college in the Midwest.

He began at a traditional university in New England, but he quit school after a year and worked for five.

Now here we were.

He was my intern.

I was his married boss.

By the end of his first week on the job, I was a wreck.

The sight of him, the smell of him, the sound of his voice… I was undone.

I struggled with myself.

I fought against his tide.

I tried to hide what I felt.


We were young, working at a nonprofit organization and broke.

We ate lunch together every day.

He had less money than I did, so I frequently paid for our lunch.

We talked about Yeats and Annie Dillard, about loss and grief, about everything.

One day he was sullen, quiet.

He had just received a rejection letter for a full-time position that he had badly wanted.

He was struggling to figure out what his career path was supposed to be.

Out of nowhere he looked up at me in anger and, with venom in his voice, said,

“You think I’m a slacker with no ambition.”

I sat there slack-jawed, blinking at him in disbelief.

I took a few deep breaths.

“How dare you presume to know what I think,” I finally said.

He looked at his food.

“That is not what I think. I think you are among the best and the brightest. I think you are a rising star, one to watch. I believe in you,” I said.

He looked up at me again.

“Those other words came out of your mouth. If that's what you think of yourself, don’t try to blame it on me.”

Now I looked away.

I felt like all the air had been sucked out of my body.

I wanted to scream, then to cry.

I wanted to take him by the collar and shake him.

“How could you think…?"

"I could never… "

"Have you not noticed the way I look at you, the way I stare at the shape of your hand, the curve of your lips?"

"Can you not feel the force that draws me towards you against my will, my better judgment... can’t you see I’ve lost control of myself, my heart?”

I didn’t say any of that to him.

I finished my lunch, with my heart pounding in the cage of my chest.

It would be awhile before I learned that he felt exactly the same way about me.




Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Great Interview Experiment

I'm like the last nerdy kid in high school to show up at the Senior Party, but still... I finally signed up for Neil Kramer's great interview experiment.

I'm going to be interviewed by Robin Slick who is the mother of two out of three members of the Adrian Belew Power Trio.

[She is not Adrian Belew's mom.]

I went all fan girlish for a minute because back in college when I wore black and was really cool, I was a big King Crimson fan.

Anyway, Robin asked me what kind of questions she should ask and I just sat there with a blank stare and drooled like a dope.

Help me out if you can. Can you think of any interview questions that Robin could ask me? I'm drawing a total blank.

My assignment was to interview... wait for it... Backpacking Dad.

I had no trouble thinking of questions.

I asked him a LOT of way too personal questions that he refused to answer, so I sent him a second set... less juicy, but still good.

Enjoy!

I understand you met and married your wife when you were very young. Can you tell me the story of how you met and fell in love?


I was 18 and in the middle of my first (and only) year at the University of Toronto. I, probably unsurprisingly, spent a lot of time online. Some of that time was spent in a chatroom on the Undernet where a bunch of non-perverts who self-reported their ages as between 17 and 21 would hang out way too late at night. My wife was one such non-pervert, living in San Jose, and we would spend hours typing back and forth at each other. Yadda yadda yadda I moved to California that summer. :} Actually, she flew out to Toronto for Spring Break, buying a plane ticket despite my protestation that she was crazy for doing it and especially crazy since she hadn't even seen a picture of me at that point and the pictures I finally did send were a couple of years old. We spent that week getting to know each other very quickly and very powerfully. In June, after the school year ended I sold my guitar for a plane ticket to California and spent a month in San Jose with her.


I believe you are Canadian and your wife is a U.S. Citizen and that, in marrying her, you relocated to the states. What was involved in that decision for you and how does it feel to live the expatriate life?


The relocation happened a few years before we married. I moved in August of 1996 and we lived together for about two and a half years before we were finally married. It was a fairly easy decision to make. After I returned home from that June trip we tried to figure out how our relationship was ever going to work with me in Toronto and her in San Jose. I toyed with the holiday-visit plan, but it's not like we were rolling in cash. Then she asked me to move. No, she asked me why I couldn't move. And there were hardly any reasons. I have US citizenship anyway, I had already been living away from home for a year, and I, uh, was on a little bit of academic probation at U of T: too many hours spent online, or hammered in my apartment with my roommates, and not enough hours spent reading about Canadian politics and European history. There were very few reasons not to move, and a great reason to move. So, in August I sold my computer for a plane ticket and some money to live on for a while and I moved in with her and her roommates in San Jose.


What do you miss most about Canada while living in the U.S.?


In the winter I miss the snow; until I visit and my father makes me shovel his deck and his driveway and doesn't give me an allowance for it. I miss the Canadian seasons. I miss family and old friends. I suppose what I miss most of all is just feeling connected to a place instead of just to people. My home is where my family is, but my roots are where my Roots sweatshirts come from.


What do you like about living in the U.S.?


Mexican food and Disneyland.


How would you describe the ways that becoming a father have fundamentally changed you?


I have always been obsessive, or easily addicted to something. When I was young it was video games, slightly older it was, well, still video games but maybe there was more alcohol involved in the playing of them. I used to smoke. I used to say that I was "drinking the world interesting". When my daughter was born all of that obsessive energy finally found it's focus. When I saw her for the first time the rest of the world dulled and she glowed in my vision, like the universe was marking her so that I could pick her out wherever she was. I still get obsessive about other things (um, hi, I wrote seven blog posts this week!) but the world no longer needs any help to be interesting to me: as long as my daughter is in it the world glows right along with her.

What is your favorite drink?

Linkwood 12 year old single malt scotch.

What is your biggest fault?


Arrogance. I'm smart and funny and I know it.


I know that you are in school studying philosophy… what drew you to that line of study? Who is your favorite philosopher / what line of thinking do you find most resonant and why?


I started in Philosophy and Political Science at U of T. My original intent was to go to law school afterward, but as it turned out I started to hate the idea of practicing law. I grew more and more interested in issues about the mind, what thinking is, and the history of those questions. The most influential philosopher in my academic life has been John Locke and his bare empiricism about the mind. I've also internalized a lot of what Paul and Patricia Churchland have said about the mind and scientific inquiry. They are eliminativists, which means that they think our folk-psychological categories of describing our mental lives are hopelessly inaccurate and just need to be eliminated in favor of more rigorous scientific terms. "Idea" is a sloppy term, and I already think about patterns of neural activation instead of "ideas" and "feelings". Not all the time, and usually not in conversation. But often enough that I recognize how much I've taken to heart.

What kinds of experiences take your breath away?


Always travel experiences, but the ones involving new people. For instance, my wife and I were in Rosarito, Mexico one weekend, staying at what used to be a Hollywood escape hotel back in the 50's. While we were in the bar/dance club on the dance floor the hotel lost power and the band had to stop playing. The lights were out and the floor was lit by starlight and moonlight glowing through the windows. Total silence for a couple of seconds. And then an African couple out on the floor just said "keep it going" and they started pounding the floor with their feet in a contagious rhythm. The washed-up musician who had been running the Karaoke Night in the other room jumped on stage and started singing at the top of his lungs, using the stomping as his back beat. Everyone on the floor joined in the dancing and stomping and singing. Experiences like that are why I travel. Sure, it happens at home for someone (the guy running the Karaoke session was just at work and then, bam, he's creating solid memories for a bunch of people), but I think being away from home increases the frequency of those experiences.

So there you go, Shawn has spoken.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bound By Flora

“I wasn’t expecting a white baby,” she said.
“No one told me the baby was white.
It’s not that I minded.
I was just so startled by it at first.
The social worker later told me she wished I could have
seen the look on my face when the baby arrived.”

Ms. Jewel is an African American woman in her late sixties that just retired from The Mayor and The Rooster’s daycare center.

She’s the mother of three of her own children as well as the adoptive mother of four children that originally came to her as foster children.

Sometimes when daycare is closed (as it is this week) Ms. Jewel comes and cares for The Mayor and The Rooster so K and I can carry on with our normal work week.

Yesterday at the end of the day, the kids were having the time of their lives hiding under an empty, five-dollar kiddie pool from Target while Ms. Jewel and I sat rocking on the front porch.

We were chatting about the daycare center.

“What’s it like to work for Ms. Light?” I asked.

Ms. Light, a white woman, is the center director.

“She and I have been through so much that we’re able to have our fights and carry on." Ms. Jewel said. "We go way back. ”

[Ms. Light didn’t speak to me for the entire fall semester because I went a little ballistic about how the television was not a childcare provider. Ms. Light didn’t particularly appreciate my position. I did not feel heard. Ugliness ensued. The television was turned off though. Snap!]

“You know Ms. Light’s eldest daughter, Flora?” Ms. Jewel asked me.

I nodded.

I’ve seen Flora around the daycare center since The Mayor was a baby. She’s long and lean, all limbs and joints. Flora wears glasses, has a bazillion freckles and generally seems like both a kooky and kind young girl.

“I had her first,” Ms. Jewel said.

“Had her?” I asked. “What do you mean?”

“I fostered her before Ms. Light adopted her.”

“Really? I knew she was adopted, but I didn’t know you fostered her.”

“I wasn’t expecting a white baby,” she said. “No one told me the baby was white. It’s not that I minded. I was just so startled by it at first. The social worker later told me she wished I could have seen the look on my face when the baby arrived.”

“Flora was only a month old when I got her.” Ms. Jewel told me. “They said she would only be with us for a few weeks.”

“I had never fostered a white child before. Because she was so little and up all night for feedings, my husband, my oldest daughter and I took turns sleeping with her. I don’t think she ever slept in a crib. She was always curled into the side of one of us.”

“I was working at the daycare center even back then,” she told me. “I told Ms. Light that I had to have a spot for the baby and she let Flora in. I’ll never forget the look of surprise on her face when she peered down at Flora and saw that she was white.”

Ms. Jewel told me how attached to Flora she and her family became.

“My extended family was surprised to see us with a white child but we all fell in love with her.”

At eighteen months, Flora was still being fostered by Ms. Jewel.

As we rocked on the porch, Ms. Jewel remembered.

“We had a screened in porch that ran the whole length of the house,” she said. “Back before you had to worry about crime, we used to make pallets and sleep out there. It was cool… nice. You can’t do that now.”

Ms. Jewel rocked.

“I remember Flora sitting on the steps of that porch when the whole family got together… this little white child that we all loved.”

Ms. Jewel turned to face me.

“You know, at the time, it was illegal for blacks to adopt white children.”

I didn’t know, but I quickly did the math. Flora is fourteen, so... Ms. Jewel was talking about 1994.

1994? Really?

Illegal?

“We were really attached to Flora so we had to find her a home. In the end, Ms. Light adopted Flora. Her own firstborn was only thirteen months old, but she took Flora in and adopted her right around her second birthday.”

[Ms. Light? The Ms. Light I yelled at about the television being on that time at daycare?]

“To this day, Flora is part of both of our families. She tells everyone that she has a black family and a white family,” Ms. Jewel told me.

Laughing, she added, “and she always says she had black parents first.”

After Ms. Jewel left, I thought about the way that circumstances of love, need and relative proximity have forever entangled Ms. Jewel and Ms. Light’s families.

An employer and employee bound together through Flora.

It’s amazing how much you can’t tell about people just by looking at them.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Double Standards

The kids were in their pajamas when they met me at baggage claim last Sunday.

The coy and devilish Rooster repeatedly pulled her pajama shorts up to flash her butt cheeks at me.


She thought this was hilarious.


I felt surreal saying,

“We don’t show our naked bottom to people at the airport.”

Besides it being obvious, it made me feel like a caricature.

[I am a cartoon mom!]

It also seemed like WAY too literal a thing to say.


I half expected The Mayor to challenge me...

“Can we show our naked butts at the grocery store? How about at the post office?”

I felt slightly guilty suggesting she keep her but in her pants.

I mean, she does come by the urge naturally.

I seem to hang my ass out (at least figuratively) (and sometimes literally, though clothed) all the time.


I can hardly point a finger at Rooster when I'm the one convincing online friends to accompany me to a condemned women's bathhouse to get all naked.

[Oh, hai! I met you on the Internet, want to get naked?!]

There is, however, a line I have to draw.


The Rooster is forever pulling up her shirt and showing off her chest.


I'm telling you right now that girl is NEVER going to New Orleans.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Stolen Image Blogher Link Fest

Oh, hai!

I stole every single image in this post from the Internet!

[I bow down
and worship at the feet of your Flickr account. Thanks!]

So.

Blogher recap.

It must be done so that moving on can occur.

Here goes...

When I first arrived at Blogher, I SHOULD HAVE gone to help Megan.

Megan Velveteen Mind

Jen, Jenny, Katie, Izzy and I were [ostensibly] helping Megan throw The People's Party the Thursday before Blogher began.

[cough, cough]

Let me come clean right here and now.

Megan did ALL the work leading up to the party and RIGHT when I SHOULD have gone to help her get everything ready, who did I run in to?




Ooops. Not THE BOSS, Bossy.

Bossy convinced me to get on a teeny tiny shuttle bus and ride for an hour and forty five minutes to some small town near Palo Alto to go to a party at Guy Kawasaki's house.

Bossy & I

While we were lost on the bus we asked Greeblemonkey for a complete Guy Kawasaki bio.

Guy Kawasaki turned out to be the world's greatest host.

He took me in to his office and added this lil' ol' blog to his website without even stopping to take off his pool hat.

Guy & I

At Guy's house, I finally met Ms. HOOKER FABULOUS.

with Jennster at Casa Kawasaki

Then things got a little blurry.

[Or at least I got a little blurry. The house seems to be in perfect focus.]

at Guy Kawasaki's House

I met the charming and talented Laid Off Dad on the shuttle back to the hotel.

And, doh! I was late for my own party!

[LOSER!]

Sorry, Megan!

Jenny The Blogess


But, late or not, I still managed to enjoy myself.

Here I am getting a good snuggle from Mrs. Flinger and Jenny from Absolutely Bananas.

Ms. Flinger, Me and Jenny Bananas

I got to see Andi and Sarah...

Andi & Sarah Piazza

Jennifer and Y...

Jennifer  & Y

And Ali Martell...

with Ali Martell

But then, Amy brought THAT GIRL around again.


Jess, Assertagirl & Jennster


She was totally mackin' on me.


Jennster Mackin' On Me


So I felt her up.


Jennster's Boob


And then I was officially under her spell.

"Yesssssssssss, Massssssssstttttaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh..."

Yes, Master...


Later, I met Backpacking Dad, who found me wholly irritating.

[Someone fell into an uncanny valley!]

Backpacking Dad

I stayed up WAY too late talking to my roommate and in the morning, the conference began.

[And this is where I simply want to parade a series of my favorite stolen images before you...]

Lotta was there...

Lotta


And Deb...

Deb - iObsess


and Angella D.

Angella D & I


[Can I pause and tell you what a joy it was to meet
WhyMommy? Thanks.]

What a joy it was to meet WhyMommy!

Susan -  WhyMommy

Amanda brought Fin. It was great to meet them in person.

Amanda and Fin

Joanne was there...

Joanne Pundit MOm

K.C. and Ali were looking fine...

KC & Ali Martell

Stimey could not have been any cuter...

Stimeyland

Kyla and Mimi were there.


Kyla & Mimi

[This badass was NOT there and that was just plain WRONG.]

Mama Tulip-1


It's not just any conference where you can go to a department store to spill hummus on Coach handbags with Amie, Julie, Kelly, Stephanie, Sarah and Kim!


Blogher gang

And...

My new girlfriend continued to love me up right...


Amiga Jennster

Though she was a little jealous when I did the dirty dancing with A Cowboy's Wife.

Dirty Dancing with A Cowboy's Wife


And A Mommy's Story...

Dirty Dancing with A Mommy Story

Oh, and when I snogged with SlackerMom...

Slacker & I

Hey, Jennster... Miss me?

ass

Casey was a little surprised about my burgeoning relationship with Super Blondie.

Casey Thinks I Suck


But she needn't have worried. I was soon swept away by a sweet, young girl...

Me & Abby Cadabby

And then...

I met...

Tara Anderson.

Tara and Gwen-1

Tara Anderson and Gwen Bell are extra-super-fabulous.

But Tara has this little Lijit widget.... Oh, my! The things it can do!

There were a couple of workshops...



Considering
Photo stolen from Heather B.

But the best thing about the Blogher conference is meeting the women you read and love.

In love with Tanis

[Even though they will inevitably wear you right the hell out.]


Exhausted
Photo stolen from Erika


Monday, July 21, 2008

I Habba Code

Nothing quite like going on a five day trip all by myself…

…and returning to my husband (who is tired of solo parenting and endlessly mediating sibling quarrels)…

… to find myself sick as a damn dog.

I spent the whole flight home in varying states of dizziness and unconsciousness releasing gusts of the mightiest wind upon my poor, unsuspecting aisle mate.

[There was a crying baby behind us too!]

Today I want nothing more than to wallow in my bed, snorting around in the covers as if there were lost truffles buried in the sheets.

Alas! My boss missed me and the task list is long.

I have many stories to tell…

Like how I got all naked with two gorgeous bloggers.

Or how Tipsy Kyla gave my real-life, BONE-DRY, friends with a newborn baby a packet of KY lube.

There’s this year’s Blogher Roommate Outfit Change Frequency Report to be made.

Oh, and I touched Jennster’s boob!

But for now, I'm busy mouth breathing and taking swigs from the DayQuill bottle.

More later…

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Shape Shifters

Yesterday morning, my last morning at home before leaving town, I paused in the hall and silently watched Rooster eating breakfast at the dining room table.

Her legs seemed to stretch further down towards the floor than ever before. She sat straight and tall eating scrambled eggs and buttered toast.

She was, in that moment, herself in the present, her former baby self and a shadowy suggestion of the woman she will become.

I tried to memorize the way her legs poked out of her pink pajama bottom shorts trying to freeze a moment in time, to hold this girl still, this shape shifter of mine, who changes so drastically, it seems, every day.

Like his sister, The Mayor is in a constant state of transition. With every new day, he becomes someone more complex and capable than the day before. I never have time to know the boy he is on Tuesday, because on Wednesday he is more.

Both of them live in a state of eternal becoming.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, with the support of a floating ring, The Mayor jumped off the diving board.

After countless practice jumps from the pool’s edge in water he could stand in, he steeled himself against his fear, and jumped from the board into the deep end.

Later that afternoon, when K and I weren’t paying the strictest attention, The Mayor decided to jump without the float.

Someone must have yelled or called out. There must have been some sound that alerted us but I don’t remember it.

I only know that in a single instant everyone at the pool turned to focus on The Mayor's small splashing hands, the only parts of his body that were visible above the water.

The Rooster was wrapped in a towel on my lap, but my body was in motion before my mind understood exactly what I was seeing or what it might mean.

I was up out of my seat with the Rooster halfway down, when I saw K’s body flying across the water.

I mean it, I saw my husband fly.

Though the whole episode couldn’t have lasted more than ten seconds, time warped and shifted as if we had watched the scene through a fun house mirror.

K sat at the pool’s edge with The Mayor in his lap. Five feet away, I could hear my husband’s heart hammering in his chest keeping time with my own.

The Mayor wasn’t at all frightened.

Our instinct was to remain calm, not to frighten our son with our own fear.

K calmly explained drowning to The Mayor who accepted it as a matter of fact and went back to using the ring to jump in the pool.

Last night, The Mayor, Rooster and I went for a swim while K shopped for groceries to get them through the five motherless days to come.

I watched The Mayor as two boys coaxed him out beyond the roped off toddler area.

The Mayor followed the boys, but when they tried to tempt him to venture out to water that he knew was too deep, he turned without saying a word and returned.


“Look what I can do!” he said to me, smiling.

Then he spread his body out across the water and floated on his back.

To the best of my knowledge, he’d never done that before.

His arms were stretched out on either side of him and his toes stuck up out of the water as his body bobbed and spun on the water’s surface.

He relaxed into the feeling of floating and let the water carry and support him.

I watched him and his suddenly dog paddling sister and marveled at the way that everyday is an adventure of self-discovery for them.

I bear witness dumbstruck with awe.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Harsh

Despite all our effort to be politically correct, non-violent parents, The Mayor folded a drinking straw in half and started shooting it at his sister, The Rooster.

"We don't shoot at people, Mayor!" I told him, "Shooting isn't nice and it's dangerous."

"If you're going to pretend the straw is a gun, I'll have to take it away," K said.

"You especially need to stop pointing it at Rooster's eyes!" I added.

"Can I shoot at things besides people?" The Mayor asked.

Without missing a beat, The Rooster who is still only two, rolled her eyes and said,

"What, like little baby animals who are all alone?"

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Flow

We went to my Ady & Granny’s house over the Fourth of July weekend for the first time since last October.

What struck me first was that the house smelled anonymous.

Every house holds the scent of the people that live there but now that my grandparents are gone, the smell that belongs in their house is slipping away.

It was strange to be in their house with their belongings sitting in their rightful places silently staring at me.

“Well then. Here YOU are, but where are THEY?” their things seemed to ask.

I found myself in the basement rummaging around for things I convinced myself I needed like a storage box full of yarn.

You know, because I’m a knitter now.

[SNORT!]

I looked for the old, broken Christmas crèche that everyone said I could take but didn’t have room for the last time I was there.

No one else claimed the poor, little, three-legged lambs.

[Who KNOWS how long they've been limping to Bethlehem!]

Mostly I opened and closed boxes hoping to find one containing the concentrated scent of my grandparents so I could rest my head in it and just breathe them in.

My Aunt Nancy, who was also there, told us on Friday morning that she had organized a party for Saturday night and had invited all of our relatives from both sides of the family.

"I lost count of the guest list when it went higher than thirty," she told us.

[Then we held a little ceremony where we gave her an award for excellence in advanced notice and communication skills. Heh.]

Granny didn't really throw parties.

She only occasionally threw modest family get togethers and when she did she NEVER co-mingled guests from her side of the family with my grandfather's.

I think entertaining stressed Granny.

Aunt Nancy, on the other hand, is more of a go-with-the-flow woman. She ordered an enormous pile of BBQ and slaw, bought a ton of chips and drinks and then got busy enjoying herself.

I didn't count how many family members came, but the house was packed and the rickety back porch creaked under the pressure of bodies.

The front yard was full of people and pick-up trucks.

Every generation of family members was represented.

My children found their places in the large pack of young cousins circling the house with water guns.

There were water fights, chases and races.

The Mayor in particular, had a BIG time.

I can't describe what it was like to watch him run, play and laugh with a party full of people and know that he was related to every single one of them.

It was good.

My Great, Great, Granny used to call her descendants "the sands of the sea."

Standing there, watching The Mayor sneak up on and soak my Great Aunt Kate with his water gun, I focused less on the sand carried out to sea by the receding waves and more on the shore beneath my feet.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Things Fall Apart

I am having a hard time finding the thread of my own story lately.

Every day requires the complex navigation of set after set of high-speed, racing curves while driving a clunky station wagon built in the early 1970’s.

Every minute of my life is so full of responsibilities and obligations that they crash into each other like a massive highway pile up.

Tasks that I should attend to lay on their backs by the road side like over-turned bugs kicking their legs and refusing to die. As I go careening past them, they seem to call after me,


“You still have to do this, you moron!”

At work, a situation has arisen that I can only liken metaphorically to an oil spill of Exxon Valdez-like proportions.

Though I didn’t contribute to the creation of the mess, I find myself employed, day after day, for far longer hours that I usually work, wiping thick black goo from the individual feathers of once beautiful waterfowl armed only with a cocktail napkin.

[Oh, how effective and useful I feel!]

Every day at 4:30, I leave the flock of greasy, dejected birds to race to my own personal mom-a-thon and related duties, the foremost of which is the one where I endlessly repeat,

“Stop fighting with your (sister/brother).”
Yesterday evening, the kids and I careened through the farmer’s market trying not to hit the other patrons with our cart.

I didn’t have an actual grocery list because that would mean that I had time to think about groceries in advance.

I tried to think on my feet about what I might feed my family this week and simultaneously attempted to keep my two children from colliding head long into piles of produce.

I rounded the corner into an aisle full of melons when The Mayor, from way down the aisle, shouted,

“MOMMY, I KNOW BOYS DON’T GROW BOOBIES, BUT DO THEY GET KIPPLES? DO I HAVE KIPPLES? WHAT ARE KIPPLES?”
When the kids finally passed out in their little beds (or rather on the floor NEAR the bed in Rooster’s case), I returned to the endless bird cleaning and remained there long into the night until finally I couldn’t see straight.

These are my days.

Consequently, finding the space in my head to capture my usual blog-story-a-day has, like so many other things, fallen on its back as one of the overturned insects by the side of the road.

My blog waves its little insect legs at me each morning and I blow by it wistfully feeling like I'm being pinched in the kipples.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Cross Town Traffic

On my way to the office this morning I was stopped at a red light when I heard the man driving the van next to me honk his horn.

I looked around to understand what he was honking about and noticed a woman walking down the street and into the park.

The van driver was honking at her.

The light changed and I had to drive on, but I daydreamed an alternative ending to this story, one where I rolled down my window to speak with the male van driver.


"Psssst! Hey, you!" I would say.

He would roll down his window.


"What?" He would ask.
"I just wanted to make sure you knew that she's not a piece of meat. She's a woman who deserves your respect."

He would scoff and say,

"How would you know?

"Because," I would tell him, "it takes one to know one."