Wednesday, April 23, 2008

more garden

I'm struggling with photo location on upload here, but anyway. you'll notice they are all closeups. sometimes I don't want to see the dump trucks and the baseballs and the plastic shovels. and sometimes I feel guilty for planting as a renter. my poor plants. uprooted again and again or left behind. what kind of mother am I?

Friday, April 18, 2008

heard it from a friend who...

There are certain trademarked music classes for children out there – if you are a parent of a young child you likely know what I'm talking about. They are the ones where parents participate and a REALLY HAPPY teacher sings and doo-doots continually, sometimes a capella, sometimes along with recorded music. And children get a chance to “explore” instruments for about 30 seconds before we say “bye-bye, instruments” and practice putting them away again and begin to sing some infernal ditty, each transition - to a standing dance, to a lap clap play, to whatever else, come up so quickly and suddenly it feels like channel surfing between “Soul Train” and some kind of Walt Disney marathon.

People swear by these classes; there is talk about brain development and music's pivotal role; there is a lot of smiling.

Yesterday, there was a free trial class of one of these puppies. I heard it from a friend who had been going and liked it alot. Isaac and I had nothing better to do in the afternoon and I hadn't been to something like this since he was an infant and surely they were different for this age and sure, I'll come.

We got there more than fashionably late. The remaining 20 minutes of the class were the longest 20 freaking minutes I can recall in this lifetime. If I ever, EVER, mention the IDEA of POSSIBLY attending one of these flipping things again EVER, and if you care about me or my child at all, you will rush to where I live and tie me to a towering redwood with steel cable.

Can I just mention that if I get the bug up my butt to flap around the room clucking like a chicken, I'm perfectly content to do so in the privacy of my own living room without the leadership of a paid professional? Can I also mention that as we entered the room where synapses were audibly snapping into place for the adults marching high-kneed in a circle exuding disingenuous joy while several children made a play fort under a folding table, that my son gripped my arm with something like the fright one might feel when chased by demons made terrible in our dreams?

I know it's just the craziest thing, but whenever possible, I take my son to music ... in the real world. We are exploring things with Isaac. He hates theaters – the dark, the crowd, so we find outdoor venues or other places we can come and go from. So far, he enjoys harmonies, people singing live in front of him without too much loud music accompanying. At one recent festival, he sat all the way through a gospel session.

I have to say, as unhappy and unidentified with the Christian tradition as I am, I adore gospel. I'm a sucker for a great voice and damn if people singing gospel don't feel the passion in what they are sharing. Afterwards, one of the singers asked Isaac if next time he'd come up and sing with them on stage. My son, who speaks to no one he doesn't know for less than a day, who has yet to answer the favorite stranger question “What's your name?” straightened up, smiled at her and said, “When I get bigger!”

I'd like to think that teaching my child what authentic interaction looks like trumps letting him play with disinfected cymbals for half a minute once a week.

Maybe I just have a wee problem with people telling me what to do and how to feel about it, and with selling the like to my son. Maybe the idea is to move and do what you feel when and if you feel it – to find music you emotionally connect with – to, dare I say it again, find the company of others you emotionally connect with.

The other day, I was working in a café where they were blasting the most ridiculous line up of horrible 80s music – REO Speedwagon, Journey, Billy Idol, some Fleetwood Mac thrown in. God, I loved it. I felt like I was flying sitting there in front of my laptop. My head started bobbing involuntarily. I could barely keep from singing. I glanced over at the business woman in the celery-colored camisole and black eye-liner at the table next to me, who was flipping through important looking folders while the men with her in their onyx-shiny shoes spoke seriously clunking their heavy watches down as they gestured. And I noticed, is she? yes, I think so! She was mouthing the words. Home is where you find it.

...they say you got a boy-friend
and you're out late every week-end...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

earth day soap box

Earth day is approaching. Here's an NPR report from today. Number one reason I am a vegetarian.


And the little bears growl to each other, “He's mine,
As soon as he's silly and steps on a line.”
And some of the bigger bears try to pretend
That they came round the corner to look for a friend;
And they try to pretend that nobody cares
Whether you walk on the lines or squares.
But only the sillies believe their talk;
It's ever so portant how you walk.

-- from “Lines and Squares,” When We Were Very Young, A. A. Milne

How do you know when it's time to make a change? Do you make changes or wait for them? If I want to leave behind the psycho Western frenzied tradition of do do do more more more, do I solve that by hurrying up and doing something? I can only change myself but I seem to be in a marriage with someone else. Must he be informed of the change? Agree with it? Embrace it too?

How do I write about a restlessness I can't really define? How do I explain the feeling that has followed me for several years now that something big has to shift in my life for me to feel like I'm living it? How do I find my peaceful, slower pace in a home surrounded by natural beauty without becoming even more isolated from the friends I already have to turn myself inside out to manage to see at all?

I started my job two years ago. So much has changed for me in those two years and my heart isn't in the writing the way it once was. It takes away from my time to do poetry and essay writing and submitting and revising and and and. There is no dedicated time for any of these. How can that be? In 38 years I haven't figured it out? Why don't I just quit my job and write? (I can answer that in 3000 words or less, but is it a valid answer? I may be forced to address this in another entry.) But this newspaper writing job, it's crept in to lend me a type of identity again. It feeds me free tickets to other people's evenings of creative expression and I want that to continue. Is that good enough? Is it good enough a reason to not do my own writing?

How do you know when it's time to make a change? I've actually caught myself on more than one occasion while looking at the pile of dollar store writing pads I use to scribble interview notes from my discussions with would-be stars and unquoteable executive directors thinking that maybe I'll only keep doing this job for as long as the paper lasts (double-sided of course, we love our trees). Once that runs out – that's it! I'm not buying any new ones. Like my vegan friend who, after his inspired conversion, continued to wear his leather shoes until they wore out, then – no more. His philosophy makes a hell of a lot more sense than mine. The infantile notion at work in my brain here, makes me think I am some bizarre form of human or at a stage of arrested development I could only dream of before or maybe just totally screwed up. I imagine watching the paper dwindle, judging the right time to give notice by the thickness of the pad on my desk. But how do you know? What do you do? What do you not do? Will life spin me around when it's time, like whipping me through a revolving door, on the other side, a new universe for me, my path through the singing daisies clearly marked? Doubtful. This isn't really about whether or not I'll write next year's Beer Festival article. How do you know? Active? Passive? Contemplative? Meditative? Gradual? Sudden?

Monday, April 14, 2008

jury duty

“I have to find something to really make me look like an engineer,” Mike said this morning while looking through his closet, “so they don’t pick me.”

He grinned widely and pulled out an olive green short –sleeved button down shirt and UPS-brown pants. (I didn’t even want to go near him.)

Then, he was off to jury duty.

This has been a dilemma for me ever since three and a half years ago when I got that letter in the mail and showed up at the courthouse only to be told to go home before 9 a.m. I was barely pregnant and afraid I might throw up on someone official that could take it the wrong way. It was still a dilemma for me when, just earlier this year, I wrote an eloquently dramatic letter stating the reasons it was impossible for me to serve on a jury, like how I needed to care for my son, who was not yet three at the time. All the reasons I stated were quite true and veiled me with a kind of melancholy about the job I do, alone, as mom every day.

But the root of the dilemma is that I believe mothers of young children have to be excused from jury duty whenever necessary, and yet, that means that a significant portion of the population, a portion of which I am a member and about which I feel strongly when it comes to needing more voice and less isolation in our society, ends up excluded from the public end of the justice system.

Has anyone researched this? Likely, but I don’t have time to look for it. It’s an NPR story waiting to happen.

I’m not saying I’d be thrilled to serve on a jury. (Though think of the writing it could produce!) But I do know that something our penal system could benefit from is the warmth and wisdom of a mom.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

National Poetry Month

We're almost two weeks into National Poetry Month. Have you hugged a poet today?

NYC is even sponsoring a Poem in Your Pocket Day, April 17. Makes a person want to get up and move across the country.

But as it is, I just updated my "What We're Reading" sidebar, which is really all I could manage and while I should have chosen a poetry book for Isaac's too, I'm inconsistent and my rug is unvaccumed and I'm lucky if I remember to eat, though judging by the way my jeans are fitting, you'd think I don't have any problem, and I have to go pick up my son, and I looked on line for this Sharon Olds poem I really like but I can't find it and it's called "The Sound"and then I considered her poem "The Pope's Penis" but I don't have time to answer hate mail and there's this line, this LINE in the Sound poem that goes "We improvise on the edge of milk and sleep" and well, shit, I don't even know what it means, but I wish I wrote it.

May your day be wild with poetry.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Alright, I'm starting to feel guilty.

My mom keeps blogging away about our visit there last week and I'm talking about gophers and urine-soaked carpet.

She kept asking me if we should “get together” on what we were going to blog about regarding our experiences. Ain't she cute? Thinking our ideas might overlap.

My mom writes about days and lives and lifetimes. I write about moments. It's the same thing, really. And not.

I can't believe she didn't post this picture of laughing Isaac from the trip; it's my favorite.

We see our families so rarely it's difficult. It's difficult not to have them. It's difficult figuring out how to see them. It's difficult to leave. I've written about past encounters with grandmothers and the like when Isaac was an infant. The real reward of this trip was that Iz is finally at the age when he can start remembering all these far away people who love him.

We have our photos running as a screen saver on our computer. All I have to say about the matter is, if it's been once it's been a thousand times this week that Isaac has called to me frantically “Mama, come! Come, Mama!” Thinking the cat must be on fire, I race into the living room where my son is leading over the arm of the couch grinning like he's waiting for the parade to pass by. He points to the computer screen where inevitably some picture ancient or recent of my mom is fading onto or off of the screen. “Look, Mama!” he squeals, “It's Grandmom!”

Monday, April 07, 2008

my kid the drunk

Isaac seems to be suffering from blackouts. He wakes from naps with his bed soaking wet and claims not to know how it happened. “Me not sure how my pants get wet! Hmm. Dat kinda funny, huh, Mama?”


Yesterday, Mike went in to find him on the floor of his room, his pants around his ankles, asleep in a puddle. In that magical space between the dream and waking worlds, the pile of pajamas next to his dresser looks so much like a toilet. You can understand.

Other times, it's even wackier.

“Isaac, how exactly is it that your underwear is perfectly dry and your pants are sopping wet?”

“Me donno.”

“And why does monkey smell like pee?”

“Ew, montey 'mell wike pee-pee!”

Truly, I can often not begin to piece together the series of events that lead to these kinds of findings. Bed wet, kid dry. Kid wet, rug soaked, underwear no where to be found. Underwear dry, pants wet, bed dry, kid peeing in toilet. The distinct smell of urine, no physical evidence. Etc.

In the past, I have posted entries about coming upon what feels like a crime scene, me the detective, and about something I referred to at the time as “QP.” Lately, I'm starting to think my kid is just a drunk.

Why can't the child employ these mysterious methods of relieving himself in the middle of the night? Once in a damn while, at around 3 am, I could use him to just take a whiz in his closet and fall peacefully back to sleep in whatever state of undress and poor hygiene he'd like. But noooooo.

(2:41 am)

“Mama! MAMA!”


(the bathroom door – directly opposite my bedroom - swings open slamming BAAM into the wall)

“MAMA! Me haffa go pee pee!”

“Wha? ... Oh, uh-huh. ... Who? ... Okay, I'm awake now.”

“Me not need help.”

“Great, Isaac. Thanks for letting me know.”

Sunday, April 06, 2008


(This entry needs pictures, perhaps they will come next.)

There were new holes in the garden. A lot of them. Some of my most gorgeous poppies, complementing the blue daisy bush thing, (whatever that is) were weeping and languid.

That little bastard. He's lucky he's so cute.

Of course, I am speaking about my gopher.

I'd gone to the Mexican grocery store, bought the biggest bag of the hottest peppers they had – chile de arbol. “Estos son los mas picantes, verdad?” I ask the clerk stocking produce. (“These are the hottest ones, right?”) He looks at me, first with confusion, then with what appears to be sympathy. “Si,” he says, slowing returning to his gigantic pile of papaya. But you know he's thinking. Ay, gringita, dju can' hannle dee hottest pep-pears.

Look, I'm trying to be humane and eco-friendly here. Plus, let's be honest, Mike once stomped his foot to frighten away a gopher and Isaac, witnessing this horror, cried for an hour. And I read it somewhere. Hot peppers in the gopher holes. I was okay with it. Isaac was okay with it. Mike laughed at me, but come on, it could've worked.

Unfortunately, I think I only succeeded in educating the palate of my little garden guest.

Mike suggested sticking the hose down the holes and turning on the water full blast so as to try collapsing the tunnels and spur a move out. The last time I'd tried this technique, the hose disappeared – no lie – eight and a half feet underground.

I needed a miracle, but instead I went out this morning, tossed my once-beautiful poppies in the compost and shoved the hose down the biggest hole. When lo and behold, out scrambles little mister small, grey and very wet. He ran through the back garden and I followed him with the hose, not having a clue what to do.

I decided I'd try to trap him under a pot and then...I dunno. I couldn't take my eye off him. I needed help. I yelled in the door for Mike then quickly returned to the chase. He'd disappeared, but a spray of the hose over the suspected area produced a little running rodent again. He jumped into the open square of a cinderblock. I ran to the door to scream for Mike again, but no one heard me. I returned just in time to see the bugger dig his way under the deck.

And as I slunk back inside, who was sitting at the door begging to go out – Emily cat. Damn. Why didn't I think of that sooner?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

To My Esteemed Professional Contacts

free enterprise
freelance a) a knight or roaming soldier available for hire by a state or commander b) one who acts independently without regard to party lines or deference to authority c) one who pursues a profession without long-term commitments to any one employer
free love
free lunch

Esteemed Colleagues and Contacts (e.g. the woman at the box office of the theater that regularly pisses me off anyway and the city official in charge of the 3,184th annual street fair of blahdeeblah, you know who you are):

I did mention, didn’t I, that it was my HOME number I gave you, right? And that might suggest that perhaps I work AT HOME, right? And if you know anything about the state of affairs of our print media, you might suspect that that also suggested I am a freelancer, right? Which could mean – I’m just hypothesizing here – that I have a life outside of my job and could even, though I know it’s a bit hard to swallow, keep irregular hours…right?

So why when you get the answering machine with the three-year-old roaring like a dinosaur would you assume you have the wrong number? And honestly, don’t you find it a bit silly that just a wee little roar could send you scrambling in every direction to find my “real” number – frantic emails to my editor, repeated hang-ups on my machine, pleas for the number to the cell phone I never get to in time and that I consistently forget to charge?

How little it takes to rattle you. How narrow your imagination, that you can’t envision your local arts writer also mother to a prehistoric beast such as this.

In case you are ever interested, in case you might want to ask me a question or two, my larger reality can be reached at 555-ROAR.

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