Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Facebook Is the Sewing Circle of the 21st Century

Parenthood is troubleshooting on crack.

From the moment your child is born, you're enslaved to his/her needs. They don't help you out, either. The only hint you get to clarify what's going on is the specific pitch and volume of their cries. You're always consulting an inner checklist for clues. "He's crying. Dry diaper? Check. Fed? Check. Cuddled? Check. Napped? Check. All uncomfortable tags/buttons/labels removed from clothing or bedding? Check." As toddlers, crying is replaced by whining and pointing and as teenagers, by unending requests for food/your car/credit card/bone marrow/soul. I've spoken with parents of adults (presumably-verbal) and the work doesn't stop once they move out. You think you'll get free once you're no longer solely responsible for their health and well-being, but you never fully escape. You're always concerned about them and gritting your teeth each time they make a decision, hoping that they make good choices and take care of themselves. The punch line? Unless you murder them as 11 year olds for setting off fireworks in the basement or for hanging their sister on a coat hook in the closet, the plan is that they will outlive you. It's constant. And it's for the rest of your life.

I'm at the beginning stages of the whole fiasco and I'm already over it. Not to wish away time, but some days I cannot wait for him to be able to tell me what's wrong, so that I can either fix it or show him how to do it, instead of what we currently do which is wander aimlessly around the house, while he whines and points at things I can't pinpoint saying, "ma, WOOK!" He's really quite patient with my incompetence, when I think about it. He can keep that up for hours.

I realize I'm lucky my son is so laid-back. He doesn't require much beyond the basics--a space to run and squirm, trucks to push, baths without the scary suds, yummy food to eat and my regular attention. But even he can be a complete mystery. We kick along together most times, but there are days when I don't know how to get him to ________ (fill in the blank) and it's not like it was back in the old days (that's what I call the time when it was common that new moms lived within minutes of their mothers, or sometimes even with their mothers and had hands-on, regular help with all the kid stuff). I always imagine it like something out of Little House on the Prairie. Mothers, sitting in a circle, bent over their knitting, discussing their struggles with new babies, giving and receiving advice as needed, sometimes just listening and being entertained.  Why the frontier? Maybe because I feel like a pioneer with this kid. Every day is a new adventure. Why knitting? Leave me alone, it's my metaphor.

That's why I like Facebook so much. I know...a revolutionary statement, coming from me. Those of you who have suffered my past diatribes on social media know I didn't always like it. I don't really have 700 friends that I want or need to talk to on a daily basis. I talk to three people regularly and some days even that is three too many. Nor, if I'm honest, am I all that interested in where you went today or who went with you. That's how I used to feel. Then I (grudgingly) began to post regular updates to keep our out-of-town families up on the buddy's growth, development and general cuteness. I'm not sure how it happened, but somewhere amid the late night feedings and the isolation that came with feeling completely out of my element, I came to depend on that network at the end of my mouse pointer. I began to check in regularly for to-the-minute, hands-on advice on sleep training, teething, problems eating and even with emergency day care referrals. Not once has my cyber-mommy network let me down. Daddies chime in from time to time, too. Now I find that even when I don't have a kiddie question or emergency, I'll stop by anyway. I take opportunities to encourage other mothers at the end of their ropes or to offer advice and ideas on eating and sleep training. I tell people where I'm going and who's with me. I stalk the pages of my regulars--people I communicate with on some level at least a couple of times a month. Sometimes, I go just to be entertained. On those days when I'm out of my element, I don't feel so isolated anymore and it's in part due to the sewing circle.

Love it.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Shel Silverstein Was Loved By a Woman, Once

Last November, I was staring down the barrel of my son's first Christmas. You know what it's like when you're a new parent; the significance of holidays changes. They are no longer socially-sanctioned opportunities to gorge oneself on seasonal desserts and to sleep in, often more than one day in a row. Once you start a family, it all changes. Holidays, even the obscure ones, like Arbor Day or Casimir Pulaski Day (Illinois; what! what!), become chances to create or to change family traditions, maybe ones you hated as a kid, but sometimes beloved ones you want to give your special stamp. They're now all-consuming quests to make a memory.

That's how I found myself pouring over internet articles on how to make the Christmas holiday significant on a budget at three in the morning. Remember, I'm an insomniac, so I was up and didn't have anything better (or quieter) to do. Also note that I was showing signs of clinical insanity. I was hopped up on post-partum hormones, trying to balance full-time work and full-time parenting and watching my fledgling relationship with my son's father self-destruct, so I was wound pretty tightly. My son was just 6 months old at the time. Nothing was significant for him except his eating/pooping/teething/sleeping schedule, nor would any of my efforts make it be. It was all an exercise in futility, but I couldn't stop myself.

During my search, I found an article written by a woman with a large family, living on one income. She and her husband were Christians, so she was especially concerned about overcoming the consumeristic morass the holiday has become in western culture. They were intent to celebrate with true joy and meaning without breaking the bank. She said they bought gifts according to this formula: one gift you want, one you need, one to wear and one to read.  They also encouraged their kids to give one, gently used thing away to someone else--usually a toy or book--to a needy child. I thought this was such a great idea. It kept the whole gift-buying/giving thing in check, left plenty of room to focus on the sacrifice and reverence the holiday should be about AND created a singular family tradition. Triple word score. I stole the idea, immediately.

So the buddy got four Christmas gifts last year; a toy I can't even remember as his "want," a new outfit and some jammies. My fave was his something to read, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.  It was in hardback on super-sale, so I scooped it up. I have been a big fan of his quirky poetry since I was a little girl and am determined that my son will have his whole collection of books and short stories. The story is about a relationship between a boy and a tree who love each other and grow together. At every stage, the tree gives pieces of itself (its limbs for swinging, its fruit for eating, its branches for building) to please the boy, simply because it loves him and because he asks. Finally, it comes to the point where the boy is old and the tree is but a stump, having nothing else to give the boy but a place to rest. The boy, now an old man, wants nothing more than that, so they rest together.

I cry every time I read it. It's a lovely picture of God's sacrificial love for us. I also see it as a picture of mother-love; the unique symbiosis between a woman and her child. The picture of one becoming less so that the other can become more. That tree was a woman.

Shel Silverstein was loved by a woman, once.

I'm not saying that men don't love their children sacrificially, because I've known so many who do, but I'm a mom and that's all the experience I can lay claim to, so that's what this is about. I know what it takes to be a walking Petrie dish for nine months who's every choice, from what to feed yourself to which side you can sleep on at night is determined by a faceless stranger who lives under your ribcage. I know what it's like to be discharged from the hospital when your child is only eight days old and to come home without him. I had never shared a house with an infant before, but after all we'd been through together, it seemed wrong to try to sleep in my house alone and every fiber in my body knew it instinctively. I know what it's like to wake up in one's own bed at four in the morning with a child latched onto your body who you have been passively nursing for an hour because you responded to his hungry cry in a waking coma and brought him back to bed with you, even in that state being aware that suffering 20 upright minutes in a rocking chair was unacceptable. I know how it is not to recognize your new, post-baby body, your new careworn face, your new emotional highs and lows, your new stamina or lack of same, your new feral wish to cause bodily harm to anybody who would think to do him harm, or, Heaven forbid, to wake him (or you) too early from a nap.

Shel Silverstein seems to know, too. He was loved by a woman, once.

I'm not a stereotypical child-centered person, but my son has been my first and last waking thought from the moment he was breathed into existence. His presence in my life has diminished me in ways both bitter and sweet. His dad and I now have a visitation schedule that takes him away from me several nights a week. I'm told all the time to celebrate my freedom! I deserve it for my long hours and overtime! It doesn't work that way for me, though. I grieve it. As much as I need a break every now and then and could revel in the free time to use for laundry, grocery shopping, banking, reading, dating, or let's just be frank, sleep, I'm always a bit lost when he's gone. He takes all the air, the energy and the love with him when he goes. I know it because I give it to him, freely, and I can't wait until he's home again to share some of it with me. Sometimes, it's easy to feel embarrassed that I gave up my separateness without much of a fight to love this kid, when I've spent my whole life learning that my separateness was a thing that made me interesting and valuable, both to myself and to others. Then, I pull out this book to read to my son before bedtime, usually about once or twice a month, and I feel much, much better about the whole thing. It's right to love like a woman.

Thanks, Shel.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Ties That Bind and Gag

Family Ties is streaming on Netflix right now. I've been completely unable to resist the lure, mostly because I loved that show and everything it stood for, but also because I don't sleep all that much and it's a lot more wholesome than looking at porn.

As a kid, I remember being so excited to dive into the world of the Keatons each week. I have no idea what day it was on or at what time, but now, as I re-watch the old episodes, I vividly remember the feeling of comfort and security when, at the end of an episode, the family rallied around each other, safe in the knowledge that they would always choose home, family and each other. I remember it the way you remember and respond to the scent of the person you love most in the world. In the Keaton house, parents turn down high-powered jobs to spend more time with their kids, daughters chose not to quit school or to have sex too young, based on Mom's wise words, brothers blew off college interviews to help little sisters grieve first love, friends from all over the neighborhood were always in and out of the house and though Dad might have been tempted, he never cheated on the wife of his youth. No mistake was too big to be forgiven and no tragedy drove a wedge too deep. The Keatons were there to stay and we, especially I, believed in, and was inspired by, them.

That was the family I wished I could be part of and even secretly hoped I would someday help build. It's never been clearer to me than now, at 3 am, when I'm sitting hunched over my iPad, crying as I watch my favorite sitcom family parody my heart's tenderest wish. I know the show is cheesy. I know it's outdated. I even know that it's unrealistic. Families are crazy. Every, single one of them. Nobody's family is perfect and they certainly don't wrap up their problems in 24 minutes, with two commercial breaks. Also, there's way more zits and bathroom breaks and nobody's bathrobe is ever completely closed in real families.

Apparently, that hasn't stopped me from chasing the dream. I've come face-to-face with my secret hopes a lot since I got that positive pregnancy test result. I've run up against some hard truths since then, too. I've started my son off in life using the same formula that was calculated for me. The players are different, but the acting, much the same. I've realized that the line between arrogance and humility is only about 5 feet, 4 inches long--the length of my body, fallen flat on my face. I've realized that I somehow managed to fulfill the life I tried for so long to overcome. Damn.

I've tried to make up for and to cover over my mistakes since that day in October 2010; to give my son the best of what I wished I'd had as a child, what I wished I'd seen modelled for me so I'd know how the hell to do this thing as an adult. In the last few weeks, it seems to have come to a head, after an awful struggle. I've pursued hope, love, a nuclear family, even redemption, for all I was worth and for all my striving, I think the only thing I've managed to do is exhaust myself. I'm very tired. Too tired, anymore, to try to push against things I've never had the power to change or to control. I need all the energy I have left just to live the life that's been put in front of me.

At the risk of going back on my word not to show pictures of the cutest little boy on the planet on the internet, I'd like you all to meet my little family. I justify it because I'm in the picture, too. For protection.

We don't have the same last name. His mom and dad don't live together and are not committed to love each other, 'until death do us part,' and if he ever gets siblings to fight with, they likely won't look like him, but he's mine, I am certainly his and there's nothing I wouldn't do for him. We're not sitcom-perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we're all in, 100% for each other.

I'm just gonna sit here and do that for a while. I'll worry about the other stuff, later.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why It's Never A Good Idea to Write In The Middle of An Attack of Insomnia

I don't sleep well. As a general rule, I guess I gave up sleeping along with my 20's and neither was my choice. I've never completely nailed down the reason(s) for it, but I've pretty much accepted that it's just not a thing that I do well any more. It's not a total lack, or I'd be a zombie, but on a bad night I can more or less expect 3 hours or less of quality sleep. This night is turning out to be a doozy.

I can't even say that I accomplish other things that I could only accomplish if I magically had 6 or so extra awake hours/day, either. Why is it when someone can't sleep in movies, they always write songs or figure out complex mathematical equations, or something? Lies, all lies. I'm awake, exhausted and unable to sleep more than 10-15 minutes at a time until the sun comes up, but for all that I'm a career insomniac, I'm incredibly unproductive. Nothing is getting done. My brain races, but it ain't going nowhere, people (or, who am I kidding: person).

Fun fact: I only have one reader this week and apparently they read at least one post from Latvia, if the blogspot stats are to be trusted.

On one hand, I'm demoralized. One reader?! Then, on the other hand, the idea of a Latvian readership is kind of cool. Or at least novel.

The boy wakes up in an hour and a half. I am so screwed.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Girlfriending is a term that an old friend and I coined (we think) many years ago on one of our epic road trips. We drove halfway across the country in a tiny Honda Civic with credit cards, snacks, 7 mixed cds that we had made to help us power through the 16-hr drive, and a dream. These cds were no joke, either. They were all themed around travel, road tripping and pretty much anything else we thought was awesome at the time. Some, looking in from the outside, may have thought we were crazy. I disagree. We were setting a precedent that has yet to be surpassed. It was necessary. It was girlfriending.

I haven't ever heard anyone else use the word, but anyone who's ever done it effectively knows what it is. Need a working definition? Girlfriending is a single-minded determination to wring every ounce of joy out of a given situation with one, or a group, of your favorite females on the planet. Not because guys aren't a lot of fun or to be exclusionary, but simply because there is a certain magic to finding other women in the world who not only get you, but who you can both laugh with and potentially make a complete ass of yourself with. It usually involves some sort of out-of-the-ordinary experience, but doesn't have to, either. I've known some incredible girlfriending moments doing simple stuff like going for a jog or trying to buy alcohol in a Scottish grocery store at 7:01 pm on a Sunday night (You can't, you know. It's against the law, no matter how persuasive you think you are or how almost 6:59 it is. Give up; you will not win).

I've been thinking about the concept a lot, lately. Maybe it's because I've been in one of those sweet-spots where I've been able to connect easily with people. You know how that goes, sometimes? When it seems like all the stars align just right so that phone calls are always answered, emails are responded to the same day they were written and someone is home for the random drop-by? That kind of sweet-spot.

Maybe, too, it's because I'm so excited that one of my cohorts will be in my time zone for the first time in 6 months, this time, tomorrow. Whatever the reason, I've been having the time of my life reliving some of my best-of girlfriending moments from over the years. I'm so full and so blessed to have lived them all and to have so many incredible people in the hopper, ready to create new ones at any given moment. Or after we put the kids to bed, at least.

So, here is a short list of some good moments I've shared with great friends, neither chronological or in any particular order of importance, just so that I never forget what a great life I get to live. Thanks, ladies, for the adventure. You know who you are.

1) The birthday baptism & skinny dip
2) All-girl prom. Men were invited as bouncers & djs & we all got to be prom queen. 'Nuff said.
3) Two words: apple butter.
4) The Price Is Right. Ugh, I think my PTSD just came back.
5) Europe, 2007
6) Sunday night pillow fights
8) Fantasy football
9) Trifecta
10) Lady Marmalade
11) Probably every Thelma and Louise road trip I've ever taken
12) Progressive Sunday dinner: bread sticks from Fazolis, salad from Pasta House & cherry limeaids from Sonic. I'm surprised we are all still alive & have all of our teeth.
13) 'Name That TV Show' charades in Malawi.
14) California Dreamin'
15) Bob Dole's presidential campaign, 1988.
16) My entire junior year of high school.
17) John Burroughs

I'm only stopping because I could keep going. I'll let you stew on that one for a minute, then I demand that you all get out there and make a memory!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Where You From, You Sexy Thang?


That's right folks, the brown maxi-dress has done it, again. It perpetrated a miraculous return to my closet, where it has been warmly welcomed by it's other bosom friends, a.k.a. the girls of summer.

And, oh yes, it still makes me look like a skinny waif when I put it on.

Welcome back, sweet girl!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Beautiful, Beautiful Boy

I have had a post about taking my then 10-month-old to Scotland all ready to go for over a month now, but when I went in to do some final editing, the thing was gone without a trace, and since my brain has turned to post-partum sludge in the last 1+ years, I couldn't remember a word of it to recreate it. That's too bad, since I have the impression that it was a really sweet post. Oh, well, I guess that's a sign that it wasn't meant to be.

Thinking about him did get me thinking about the valuable lesson I learned the first time I walked into a room with my pregnant belly leading the charge. That belly got attention. For the rest of my life, I would no longer be the most popular kid in the doorway. My baby boy had taken center stage, which, when I reflect on it, I totally get; first he was this hidden miracle of creation that everybody couldn't wait to see in person. After he was born he got even cooler. He became 3-D helpless and adorable, making all these wonderful squeaks, grunts and coos. He was also squishy soft and after a bath, smelled like pure sunshine. And don't get me started about the smell of baby-head. Ann Lamott wrote in her book, Operating Instructions, that her son, Sam, smelled like God. Not like a god, but like the God. Who could compare to that? I'm certainly not stupid enough to try.

Considering how irresistable and popular that boy is, I feel a bit sorry for many of you. I don't write a whole lot about my son on here. That unfortunately means that some of you who may be visiting the site every now and again are not getting what you probably came for. *shrug* No apologies on this end. The interweb is too open for me to like sharing pictures and updates on him, here. Check out FB if you want to catch a glimpse of Sir Yumminess. He's the main event over there. Or come over to my house. He's even better in technicolor.

Until you can hug him in person, I wish you all well and I wish you love.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Where Did You Go, My Lovely?

I love summer, probably mostly because I love summer clothes. That dress I'm wearing in my profile pic? It's my favorite dress, maybe of all time. I spent entirely too much money on it three years ago and it has been worth every penny. That dress is like a miracle. It is the perfect color (a deep, chocolate brown) against my skin, drapes like a dream and makes me look like a skinny waif. It even regenerates itself. I accidentally put it in the dryer during my first year of ownership, shrinking it from a maxi dress to almost knee length. It was tragic. But since I loved it so, I couldn't bring myself to be selfless and give it to my much shorter friend who I knew would wear it with all the love that I'd ever felt for it. I mourned, hung it in the back of my closet for the winter and swore I'd figure out a way to wear it again, even if it was as a repurposed tank top. Against all hope, I pulled it out to try it on again some months later and THE THING HAD STRETCHED BACK TO IT'S ORIGINAL LENGTH. No lie. Without me having done a single thing to it. The color was still true, it still draped like a dream and hope was reborn in me. There is no doubt in my mind that a wardrobe miracle had occurred. Love this dress.

The last time I put it on was a year ago. I was about 4 weeks post-partum and still managed to look like a skinny waif. Some would argue that was due to the stress of bringing home a 4 lb preemie to raise, but I maintain, it was the dress.

I was so excited when the summer heat really set in this year. I went to my box of goodies to shake out that dress so that I could feel like a skinny waif again. It was gonna be good.

I'm devastated to report that I can't find it anywhere and it's driving. Me. CRAZY. However, I haven't given up hope that another brown-maxi-dress-miracle will occur. I will keep looking. Probably one of my other dresses wanted to look like a skinny waif, too, and is wearing it somewhere in the back of that closet. That's what I would do if I had to stand next to that dress every day.

Wish me luck.

Love Stinks, In the Best Possible Way

I've had a problem coming up with a hook for this blog. What can I possibly say that people want to hear, or haven't already heard a million times, in a million different ways? How can I make my blog interesting...creative...relevant?

My first idea? Dating as a single mom. Specifically internet dating as a single mom, which seems to be one of the few ways people like me with limited time and child care can meet other (sometimes) viable heterosexuals, except at church, or unless we live in hippie communes. I'm not knocking church. I love church. I even love a lot of the people I meet at church, but the idea of going there to look for a mate has always rubbed me the wrong way. I heard a pastor say that if you go to church to find God, it's likely that you'll find the other things you might not even have known you were looking for (i.e. community, friendship, a life partner). While that's very encouraging, I'm just gonna be honest and say that what I got out of that was church + God = mate. My over-simplified understanding of that formula has been making me uncomfortable ever since, so as a reaction, I go to church specifically not to find a mate. I don't think I've done a wedding ring check since the day I heard that sermon. I'm also not knocking communes. The idea of living sparingly, off the land, in community with others who share the fruits of our labors and barter for services that we each provide according to our individual talents is actually pretty appealing. Then I think how much I like shaving and wearing bras. And people who bathe, regularly. Maybe there are communes where people do those things, but...*shrug* I'm skeptical.

Eventually, I threw the dating blog idea out. I think they're only interesting to people who don't have to live the daily agony of dating. For the ones in the trenches, reading about other people's relationship hijinks can be like fingernails on a chalkboard. Maybe that's just me, but I still think that most singletons would stand with me when I say dating is a necessary evil that we do in order to get to where we want to be, which is in committed relationships. No one really wants to date forever, for it's own sake, unless they're lying to sound evolved. I'm not evolved. So, I've wracked my brain for a hook and finally accepted that I don't have one. This blog is really nothing more than random, neuronal firings that I occassionally have the energy to put in written form.

Today's firing, while not specifically about dating, is about love. In my 20's, I pretty much avoided it. I've always had lots of people that I care about, but most I kept at arm's length. Romantic love proved elusive, for reasons only my therapist seems to know. It's probably because I've always known on some level that I'm a no-take-backs kind of lover. Try though I might, if I let you into my heart, digging you back out again comes at great personal cost. I'm sure it's that way for everybody, but this is my blog, so it sounds like I'm the first person who's ever loved, I realize that. My point is that for most people, it's a worthwhile risk. For me, it's taken a while to believe that. Instead I pretty much chose a sterile existence--never risk, never lose.

Somewhere in there, though, I got all brave and decided to live the adventure. It has been a mess! You can't believe the mistakes I've made and the starts and misfires I've had. But, in many ways the messes haven't been all bad. I have loved some pretty incredible people, most of whom I still enjoy relationships with to this day. I hope that I'm a composite of all the amazing people who've poured into my life. I've loved true, I've loved hard, I've loved hopelessly, and most recently, since I became a parent, I've learned truly to love selflessly. It's been great, but I haven't known a moment's peace since. Instead of being comfortably insulated the way I used to be, I'm exhilarated, broke, nervous, joyful, heart-broken, concerned, over-worked, sleep-deprived, careful, celebratory, protective, wary, drunk, infatuated and covered in snot. All because I'm hoplessly intertwined in the lives of people who are living lives as risky as I have decided to live. It's a total cluster and I love every second of it. Mostly. ;)

Hope you're living and loving every second of your adventure, today, too.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Dream Brother from Another Mother

Jeff Buckley is my latest obsession. I stumbled upon him completely by accident. I watched "My Sister's Keeper," which is that movie with Jason Patrick & Cameron Diaz and that cutie from "Little Miss Sunshine," with the awful premise of being about a family that has a 2nd daughter who is a genetic match for their older, critically ill daughter, basically to keep the older one alive. You know what I mean? As a tissue and organ donor. From that description it sounds super creepy and gross, a la Brave New World, but it's really surprisingly heartwarming and thought provoking, which is honestly something I never thought I'd say about a movie with Cameron Diaz in it. But, I digress.

Jeff Buckley did a cover of an Elton John song in that movie (how many famous names can I drop in one post? Stick around, kids), called "We All Fall In Love, Sometimes." I loved it at first listen. So much that I bought the whole soundtrack on iTunes that night and only listened to the one song, over and over again. Why didn't I just buy the one song, you ask? Because I liked more than one of them! Don't judge me, I do it for the artists!

It has been a couple of years since I heard that first song of his, but every now and again, I would find myself obsessively playing it on a repeat loop, drawn to the sound of his wistful tenor, accompanied only by an electric guitar (I've since learned it was a Fender Telecaster) plugged in to a small amp. It sounded like he was playing in a tiny coffee shop to a crowd of 6, the feel was so intimate. So this year, I decided to dive down the rabbit hole to see what else of his I might love. In my search, I discovered two heart-breaking things at once: 1. his small portfolio cuts through to some very deep places in me, and 2. his portfolio is small because he drowned in the Mississippi River when he was 31 years old, only 6 years after he signed his first major recording contract with Columbia Records. I was 23 years old and I had never even heard his name at the time.

While it's tragic that I could have been loving his music for almost 20 years instead of less than one, I'm not sure I could have appreciated a guy with his brand when I was 16 years old. He was short; only 5'7". He was super-skinny and pale; the kind of geeky that ends up looking pretty hot when a music-industry photo stylist gets hold of it, but on his own? Just skinny and pale. And from everything I've read, he was a major music nerd. He was a musician's musician. Music was what he ate, slept, drank, and all he talked about. All kinds, too. He did covers of Nina Simone songs in high school, for crying out loud! Nah, there was no way I could have appreciated him at that age. So, I guess it's better that I found him, now, because at almost 36, I'm appreciating the hell out of him. I'm so sorry he died so young.

Here are the lyrics to one of his songs that slays me. He grew up without his father, who was a semi-well-known musician in the 60's, Tim Buckley. He left Jeff's mother before he was born and only saw him a handful of times while Jeff was really young. In a tragic coincidence, Tim died young, too, at age 28 from a drug overdose. This song speaks to some of the pain and longing Jeff felt growing up; wanting his dad and being repelled by the idea of him at the same time. We'll see if I'm successful in embedding the song in here. If not, there are some offerings on youtube. If you haven't before, you should check him out. It'll change your life.
            Dream Brother
There is a child sleeping near his twin
The pictures go wild in a rush of wind
That dark angel he is shuffling in
Watching over them with his black feather wings unfurled

The love you lost with her skin so fair
Is free with the wind in her butterscotch hair
Her green eyes blew goodbyes
With her head in her hands
and your kiss on the lips of another
Dream Brother with your tears scattered round the world.

Don't be like the one who made me so old
Don't be like the one who left behind his name
'Cause they're waiting for you like I waited for mine
And nobody ever came...

Don't be like the one who made me so old
Don't be like the one who left behind his name
'Cause they're waiting for you like I waited for mine
And nobody ever came...

Don't be like the one who made me so old
Don't be like the one who left behind his name
'Cause they're waiting for you like I waited for mine
Nobody ever came
Nobody ever came...

I feel afraid and I call your name
I love your voice and your dance insane
I hear your words and I know your pain
With your head in your hands and her kiss on the lips of another
Your eyes to the ground and the world spinning round forever
Asleep in the sand with the ocean washing over 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

29 miles to E

My Thursday started at 4:30 am. My Wednesday, too.

I'm not complaining; just stating a fact. I have a 9-month-old who has no problem getting up at oh-dark-30 because he can go back to bed an hour after he wakes up. I, however, am awake (for good) the second he makes a peep because I worry that he'll wake the neighbors with his warbling, babbling and screeching. Likely, others don't find his early-morning vocal stylings as adorable as I do, because, let's be honest: he's got me snowed. I'm sleepless, it's his fault and I totally love him for it. Stockholm Syndrome? Unapologetically.

I honestly wouldn't change my mama- status for anything, even a better night's sleep, so I'll shut up about a minute.

I work four days a week, both to save on childcare costs and to have a weekday to catch up on stuff I can only get done on a weekday--banking, doctor's appts, etc. 4-10's mean that my working days are long, both for me and for the buddy. We're often awake before the sun comes up and not home at night until after it's gone down, again. It means that my time with him while he's awake is short and consists of utilitarian things like dinner, diaper changes, bedding changes, bath time, story time, prayer and bed. It means that after he's down for the night, I have to find the energy to do things I can't do while he's awake like laundry, dinner for myself, cleaning, taking the garbage out; and that's just the stuff I can do at home. I haven't mentioned grocery shopping, working out (yeah, right), oil changes or even refueling my car.

Most days, I manage to accomplish all that I want to for him, even clipping his nails, which seem to regenerate on one finger as I move on to the next, they grow so fast. Depending on the day, anything beyond meeting his daily needs feels like a virtual impossibility. I use the dishwasher as storage for clean dishes and just take out what I need for the day. I eat cereal for every meal or don't eat at all. I buy new underwear on my lunch hour because it takes less time than laundry. I shower only on the days that his dad has him, because I know I can be a little late dropping him off in the morning, and sometimes I don't brush my teeth until I get to work. (That might have been too much self-disclosure. Oh, well, I don't have to see any of you on a daily basis and you probably won't be able to tell if I've showered when I do see you. Probably.)

The old me cringes at the things I now let slide. I never used to leave the house without makeup. Now I don't even have time to go buy it when I run out. The old me would never have people over without having vacuumed the rugs. The new me will never vacuum while my kid sleeps and guess what? When we're home these days, it's mostly in observance of nap time (mine and his) so them rugs ain't never vacuumed! Who cares, come on over! My son is currently on the floor, rocking out to "Sweet Child of Mine," the Sleepytime Tunes version, when all that used to play around here was Jimi Hendrix or Fiona Apple, the big-kid versions.

Old me certainly would never have let it get this far:

Beneath the gauge, it said, "29 miles to E." Old me would have panicked and driven immediately to a station to gas up. New me sighed, put on her seatbelt, drove to the sitter to drop off the baby, got to work to start the day, then drove to a gas station later in the day when she had time, all without running out of gas.

This is by far the hardest job I've ever had, thankless, with the longest hours and no time off. Most days, I feel like I'm running just about on empty, careening around with only 29 miles left on this tank and no filling station in sight. In spite of all my fears and shortcomings, it hasn't happened yet, and like I said before, I wouldn't change a thing.

Now I've got to go. The dishwasher could stand to be emptied, but there's some baby Bob Marley on and somebody looks like he's ready to dance.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


  • Go back to eating vegetarian; you feel better when you do.
  • Give hot yoga another chance.
  • Go inside that Catholic church across the street.
  • Make a decision about hair length.
  • Drink wine with a friend at least once a month.
  • Get live music back in your life.
  • Take a break more often.
  • Hang up your work clothes at night, instead of draping them over that cute reading chair in your bedroom.
  • Rough-house with your kid more often.
  • Re-read Phillipians; you love that book.
  • Run a mile, just once. Then run another one.
  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Find a good book to read.
  • While in Scotland, find a reason to inject, "och!" into a conversation.
  • Accept help. Offer it, too.
  • Sneak in a snuggle with your baby, every day, and inhale his baby-smell while he thinks you're simply playing on the floor.
  • Be happy.

I hope my mother can forgive me

One of the happiest accidents of my recent past was the discovery that my name had meaning. Let me explain. Growing up black in America evokes stereotypes that, in my opinion, you either live up to or overcome, most times, completely at whim. Depending on the situation, I've overcome quite a few and when I couldn't, I've laughed my way through to living riiight on up to the edge of them. Here are some of my faves:
1) You can tell a black person by how they talk on the phone. Not this black person, you can't. I love meeting people for the first time after we've had a few phone conversations. That first glance? High comedy.
2) All black girls can jump double dutch. Maybe I could if you held a rattlesnake to my ankles, but I wouldn't do that if I were you; not safe.
3) All black people love barbecue sauce. *shrug* I don't like sweet-flavored meat. I prefer lemon pepper.
4) Black girls don't like to be outside or to get their hair wet. My favorite past-time is hiking/backpacking and my hair is naturally curly, so to maintain the style, I wash it every day. And let it air dry.

Looking back through this, I worry that someone will read this and take away my black card. Sad...

Anyway, there is one that for the longest time, I couldn't come to terms with or overcome. You know the one. You can tell a black person by their (oftentimes made up) name. I admit it: My name sounds and looks made up to anybody outside my family. Always has, always will. Frankly, it has too many syllables for a five-letter word. The family lore surrounding my name is that my mother, undecided on what to name her precious, new girl-baby, deferred to a sister's (my aunt's) opinion. Dear Auntie said three, fateful words, "name her Leida," that would forever frame my life. If I had a nickel for every time my name has been misspelled, mispronounced, denounced and denuded over the course of my life...well, let's just say I would buy my own island and move it right next to Johnny Depp's.

For years, I gritted my teeth, corrected pronunciations and laughed ironically at jokes about me and that guy from Chrysler, about French fries and about my fourth grade crush (a story for another time). Then, for a while after I developed a thicker skin, I responded with humor and a certain degree of whatareyagonnado? grace. If you can't beat 'em, shoot 'em in the face, right? (I don't know what that means, either). Then, one day, a couple of years ago, I found this on

First Name Origin & Meaning E-mail VersionAdvanced Meaning
Click Here

Platinum Version Includes: - Name, Local Origin, Traditional Origin, Advanced Meaning, Advanced Background, Personality Traits, Relationships, Emotions, 5 Year Popularity Chart, 100 Year Popularity Chart, Similar Names, Historical Figures, Biblical References, Trends, Occupation, Leizure, Color, Stone, Sign, Health, Public Perception, and Current Popularity.

It. Means. JOY! I had an answer for the question, "so, that a family name, or...?" I don't lie and say that my mom did it on purpose. That would be silly. But I do take a ridiculous amount of pride in something that was a complete accident. It made my day, no my frigging DECADE, when I discovered it. Finally, my name had MEANING. Not only that but it made sense; I love Greek stuff. I want to go to Greece before I die. I regularly crave Greek food. I can even say the word, dolmades, with the proper tonguing on the 'd' to make it sound like a 'th' sound. I own that movie, " My, Big, Fat Greek Wedding." I mean, it doesn't get any more obvious than that! After digging a bit further, I discovered that it's also a species name for a Mediterranean moth. Love that, too. And don't get me started on how cool I think it is to have a name that means happy! I mean, how...happy!

Why am I telling you all of this, you ask? No idea. It just seemed like a good icebreaker. Now you think I'm funny. Or at least that I tell long stories. Either way, you're still here, so HA!

Welcome to my twisted, little mind, you brave soul.