Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


As G pedaled her bike up the street after dinner tonight, she looked so very much like herself that it hurt. The tassels on the handlebars of her Lightning McQueen bicycle fluttered in the wind, and every so often she'd wobble as she let go with her thumb to ring the bell. Her fancy salmon-colored sheath dress with white brocade stitching was caught on the back of the seat, and clashed fantastically with her rainbow sneakers. A lock of green hair fluttered loose from the front of her helmet. Narrowed eyes. Jutting knees. She was her own perfect self, undiluted, and I could have run behind that bicycle for hours.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Accepting Gifts

A. came home with a small brown paper bag in his hand, beaming at me rather than resorting to his usual routine of stomping downstairs to change out of his sweaty workday clothes. I raised my eyebrows as he held out the bag and smiled. "I got you a present!" Well then! I reached inside and pulled out a handful of silky, drapey fabric studded with white polka dots. It was a dress, and not just any dress, but a dress I had seen in a shop a few days earlier and had admired. Now here it was, in my hands. Squealing, I rushed to the nearest bedroom and started stripping off my clothes. I held up the new dress, my new dress, and noticed suddenly that it seemed a little on the small side. A lot on the small side, actually. How had an entire dress fit into that tiny paper bag? I looked at the tag and my heart sank: size 2. My beautiful new dress was not actually for me at all. On the verge of tears, I almost said something to A, but then shook my head. Humiliating though it might be, I was going to try on this gift no matter what the tag said. So I strategized: I removed my bra, sucked in my ribs, and shivered into the satiny fabric. My head was through, and then my shoulders. The bodice slid down over my ribs and amazingly there was no sound of popping threads. Now all I had to contend with was the zipper. I looked dubiously at the long pink V of flesh showing between my hipbone and my armpit. With another deep breath I tugged the zipper upward, expecting at any moment to feel it biting the skin that it could not possibly cover. Two inches from the top I realized that the worst was over and yanked the zipper pull with a triumphant zzzt! It fit. My brand new, gorgeous, size 2 dress fucking fit.

I never would have attempted to put on something so dainty if my husband had not handed it to me with a smile on his face. I would have listened to the voice in my head shouting "too big! too lumpy! too tall! not good enough!" But what I could not do for myself, I could do for someone I loved. He gave me a gift: he saw me through gentle, uncritical eyes. I gave myself a gift: I let myself believe him.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I am quivering in the kitchen, utterly seduced by the way molten caramel cools upon a knife.

Monday, August 10, 2015

List of movies to watch

Slumdog Millionaire
Caramel (subtitled)
Anna Kareninna (then read the book)

For right now.

I romanticize watching them alone naked under a blanket.

But anyone can join (just give me a heads up so I won't be naked).

So cliché

Wolfgang Amadeus playing in my Pandora station.

Moonlight Sonata comes on as I'm running past the orchards on the gravel road.

My lungs are screaming "why are you trying to kill me!?" And I ignore it.

Because as I am about to approach the grape vines, making a right turn at the pond covered in pink petals of some sort, the high end of the song kicks in.

And it's dreamy.

I think to myself "no way I'd admit this in court! It's too cliché."

But I love it.

At any rate, I didn't die.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Don't We All?

The Scene: Eating Popcorn

Me: Hahaha! Hey, A, look. This piece of popcorn looks like [glances quickly around at children] um... a phallus!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Crazy Love

Reasons my children can't stand me today:

I listened to folk music from Finland

I read aloud from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I did not hold hands with them while they pooped

I gave them the wrong colored breakfast plates

I wouldn't let them stand on top of the picnic table

I asked them to slow down near the parking lot

I suggested we have carrots with our lunch

I declined to show a movie before noon

I asked them to pick up a pool noodle and put it away

I cuddled their sibling

I did not give them coffee

I wouldn't let them untie the ribbons on their dress and dangle them into the toilet

I offered to watercolor paint with them

They still love me, though. And I still love them. We must be crazy!

"Love is merely a madness and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do, and the reason why they are not so punished and cured is that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love, too." --W. Shakespeare, As You Like It

Monday, August 3, 2015


The kids have been pretending to be ladies all day-- not just grown-up women, but capital L Ladies who are obnoxiously, squealingly modest in the swimming pool locker room and who eat their lunch with tiny imperceptible bites. I have no idea who they are imitating, but it's not me.

Friday, July 31, 2015


I like what it says about my family that for their birthdays the kids received hand-painted rocks from more than one person.


Last night I awoke to Geneva's thick brown hair in my face. She was burrowing into me like a baby hunting for milk, murmuring about bad dreams. She asked if she could stay, and I held her in our crowded bed until morning, when she turned to me abruptly and asked "are ghouls real?" "No, sweetie, ghouls aren't real. They're creatures from stories, and sometimes scary stories are fun, but they're just made-up." "I dreamed I met one," she told me solemnly. "His name was Gardy and he was Not Nice."

After swimming lessons, as we were writing in our journals, Geneva began to tell me more about Gardy. About how he tricked people into getting hurt, about how he helped other bad buys commit acts of mischief, and about how he really seemed to have it in for our family. In her journal Geneva wrote about Gardy's misdeeds, and as she talked to me about her nightmare the story started to change. Another ghoul appeared, a ghoul named Goody, who defended the family from Gardy and other dangerous creatures. Then came another ghoul with cotton-candy pink hair whose job it was to do nice, helpful things for others. Yet another ghoul disguised herself as a bad guy and went undercover to spy on the nasties who were having a meeting under our dining room table. Lavender, who was listening intently, created her own ghoul who could rescue anyone who had been kidnapped. Together they drew pictures of their ghouls, then ran off to be heroes.

Everyone has nightmares. Everyone. Why do we forget that our power comes not from waking but from changing the story?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Writer's Block

Tricky pixie lost the key,

Knocks the door inside of me.

Bleat and hammer, rail and shout;

I try but I can't let her out.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

To Do List

This post is for posterity. I made a to-do list for myself, K, and Rose, which I've decided is a silly, delightful list of which I would like a record.


Fancy tea party with my ornate china set


Appetizer sampling somewhere nice

Write very short stories, then drink wine and read them aloud

Each of us teach the others one useful phrase in another language

Go for a walk in the canyon after dark

Give each other henna tattoos

Paint/decorate our own lampshades, tote bags, or whatever

Skinny dipping?


I've started speaking a strange hybrid of Spanish and Norwegian. As alarming as it is to feel like my proficiency in both languages is declining and becoming muddy, the result is intriguing. It's new, it rolls off the tongue in a surprisingly natural way, y jeg me gusta dette.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Blow out the candles

The boy doesn't want a party.

"The stub is on the counter. Also, my birthday is a somber time for me,
and I really don't want to celebrate it.
 I hope that doesn't throw a kink in your plans."

Ever  since his father died a handful of years ago he doesn't want to celebrate.

Every day of the year he is a man.

But for his birthday he is a boy again.

A boy who is sad.

And I don't know how to help.

Haiku: Quantum

Quantum child, I

change the outcome of your act

by observing it.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Screen Free

Down with screen time, I cry! I declare war on technology addiction! My children will have healthy habits and healthy imaginations! 

So L carries around a DVD case with no cover. She calls it her iPad. She sits there staring at it, just gazing at a black rectangle of plastic. Occasionally she swipes it with her finger.

I won?

Borrowed love

Im breathlessly awaiting the arrival of a new book at the library.

I could click buy on Amazon and it would be all mine. 
I could bend the corners  and leave it on my tables out of the reach of children.
Steal glances at the pages while I'm making eggs for Murphy.
I could read another page while nursing.

It would gather dust. I would feel guilty for abandoning it. I'd relieve the pangs of wanting one more chapter and get back on the swing of reading. Then the baby wakes up and interrupts my best intentions. I set down the book and try not to forget that I was going to read it back to back.

I don't click buy. 

"Do you have a library card, young lady!?" My friend said almost admonishing me.

I say yes and remember the wonderful relationship with the library. It's a church of knowledge and heartbreak and escape. The place to retire when everything is too noisy, when you have been disappointed one more time and it's one more time too many. It's the place to go get a second wind. 

The library.

I'll borrow my book from there and read it because I have to return it. I'll check it out again if I can't wait to re read it. I won't take it for granted and bend it's pages and let it gather dust. 

I can't afford to because it's not mine and it has to go back.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Five Views of a Day

Little A, 4:45 am: You know, if you just gave in and took your nipple out this standoff would finally end.

G, 3:30 pm: Obviously I don't want to pull weeds OR go inside and read a book by myself. Stop acting like those are my only two options; your minds are tiny and weak.

J, 6:30 pm: That thing you're calling "candied garlic" and eating as fast as you possibly can is actually a roasted onion. You say you hate onions, but I'm not correcting you.

Big A, 6:50 pm: Two nostrils gushing blood. Two wads of toilet paper. I look like a sad walrus.

L, 7:30 pm: I just sang a perfect rendition of "The Mysterious Ticking Noise" by the Harry Potter Puppet Pals, and no one even noticed.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Pat in the Back

Jamaica interrupted the frenzy of the work day with a text inviting me to come over.

I came over a little after one and she fed me a life-altering blackberry cobbler. 
I felt so loved.
Her children made me miss mine.
I didn't want to leave.
At almost goodbye she patted my butt.

And I liked it.

I'm determined to figure out a way to con her into doing it again.

I make an inventory of my female friends. Admirable women. It makes me feel like, finally, I have arrived.

And I'm so happy. 
The moment I decided to leave the soggy pizza crust lying on the yogurt-crusted tablecloth was the exact moment that I decided to walk away from the table and read L a story about a cat. I'm looking at that soggy pizza crust and what do I see? That it is disgusting and gelatinous and yet I had something infinitely more valuable to do than clean it up.
My idea is simple: this is a place where I can record life in tiny increments. Paragraphs. Sentences. A photograph. I want a record of life's most minuscule moments because if I've gathered any wisdom so far it has been that 1) life is made up of almost nothing but tiny moments, and 2) they pass. They pass without a blink or a breath and are forgotten. So if I can manage to say just one thing about each day, or each week, then I will call this project a wild success.