Friday, November 28, 2008

The Simplicity of Travel

Choice of clothes – from among a few things in a bag.
No trinkets from your own home lying about, the room
gratefully devoid of personal memories. You need do nothing
about the phone call you didn't return before you left. Your alibi
is secure. Your cat is taken care of and will not jump
onto your head at 5 a.m. because she is far away and without a map.
You take artistic pictures of lamp posts in downtowns where
you are not recognized. To eat in restaurants, pay the check,
and walk away. To board buses whose destinations
you are unsure of that fill with people who could care less
you are there, who place dripping umbrellas under their feet.

It is here, the point at which you leave the bus and step out into
the busy street that looks like nothing you have learned
to take for granted, that travels as fast in one direction as the other,
that your faculties will fail you eventually, and so,
you will look around for someone; it will be someone laden
with closets and drawers full of clothes, who is haunted
by the phone call she didn't yet make today, who has forgotten
her umbrella on a bus, whose cat waits at home for her,
hungry and sharp-clawed.

You must open to her as if the knots unfurling within your neck
and shoulder blades would to roll out toward her like a golden rope.
And she, turning in your direction as you hover - almost imperceptibly -
above the sidewalk next to the lamp post - just this morning it stood
invisible to her knowing eyes - will respond with the help you need,
with more, in fact, than she thought herself capable. Though she isn't sure
if the amber light is coming from you or the lamp, she feels warmer
suddenly and the air around her smells uncluttered, and she will do
anything, anything you need.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Portland and Seattle trip - Part I





What's two and a half years between friends?

Isaac and Pacifica got to know each other again.


More on our trip to come...



Reading: it does a body good








Updated the sidebar for books.



Nevermind that a visit to an ofrenda (an altar) at our local Mexican bakery to explain the Day of the Dead to Isaac, sent me scurrying away again when front and center there was a hunka-chunka, bleeding crucifix and I worried the first up-close exposure my son would have to violence and gore would be from that grand and troubled tradition some call Christianity, Day of the Dead is another matter and quite cool and now there's a book to prove it.

My own literary adventures come - as always - with questions, questions, and Alice McDermott has me particularly baffled. "After this" I'm going back to short stories and poetry.

I find it interesting that there are always summer reading lists -- Now, in the cold and rain and snow is when we should be curled up with a pile of books. Go forth and be literate. And send me your recommendations!



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

making pudding

“I bet a BABY can't even DO this,” my three-and-a-half-year-old says about everything he does these days.




At birth, I stared into his blue eyes, wise and startled, and didn't know who this creature was who came from me. Now, I stare equally perplexed at who he's grown into, seated between my husband and I at the breakfast table like a hungry stranger we took in off the street.


The old games no longer work for getting him to brush his teeth, for getting his shoes on. And too often he wriggles out of my hugs – busy.


Making pudding with his dad he's eager to share the result, and I am called into the kitchen to taste. I watch as he spoons a bit of chocolate from the pot and carefully wipes off the drippy bottom on the side, holds it out to me. His own mouth, ringed in brown, opens in a mimic of mine, his phantom bite, his nurturing way, helping me to swallow it all.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

reflections on last night

(Note - I added just a couple more tidbits to yesterday's blog, too.)


Conversation among strangers at the Monterey Farmer's Market:

Person 1: New Hampshire!
Person 2: Pennsylvania!
Person 1: Pennsylvania?!
Person 3: Ohio!
Person 1 & 2: Ohio!!??
Person 3: Florida!
Persons 1, 2, & 3: Woooooohoooooo!
------

At the victory party at the Golden State Theatre in Monterey (free and open to the public), the mood was obviously joyous. We were allowed again to be in love with people we didn't know. We hugged each other and laughed.

There was a countdown to 8 pm – the close of the polls in California. Boy, if I've ever felt left out out here in the west...time differences, philosophical differences...last night I was proud. Right after that countdown, we looked up at the screen and two things happened simultaneously: the shape of California flashed a beautiful shade of blue on the map and our 55 electoral votes rung up for Obama sending him over the 270 mark he needed to win. The cheer in the room was a couple decibels louder than my ears could handle.

Around 8:30-something, I pulled myself away and zipped home in time to hear Obama's speech. Even though I had been craving communal company, now I wanted my family.

There were fireworks going off in our neighborhood. When I got home, Isaac was already asleep. But then, a couple minutes in, he woke up somehow.

For a few precious minutes we were all together, watching, Mike and I teary, Isaac in my lap. I didn't care that Isaac might not understand most of what was being said. I was confident he could and should hear any/every word, knowing how much it meant, knowing no one was going to shout “Drill! Drill! Drill!” or anything else offensive or frightening.

Maybe he'll remember something from last night. Maybe, even, it'll be one of his first memories. Maybe he'll carry that indescribable feeling with him. This is one of the ways we find out what's important.

The camera focused on a sign held above the heads of the crowd in Chicago.

“You know what that sign says, Isaac, huh?”

For an instant he forgets the weighty sleep pulling on him.

He straightens in my lap, smiles at his own big boy smarts. “Obama!”

video

And finally, from Pravda, the online version of the Russian news source: "...in choosing Obama, the people of America have opted to come back into the international fold. Welcome back, friends! "

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

the election in review...

– an abridged collage of words and events from my tiny corner of the world.

"Three-year-olds for Obama" Parts I-III.

I.) It rhymes with Mama and Llama and Drama, all things my boy loves. (NB: McCain rhymes with Pain and Strain and Insane.)

II.) If only I wasn't alone when Isaac approached the Obama/Biden sign in the front yard and, moving his fingers slowly across the letters, sounded out “O...BA...MA.”

III.) An election year alphabet.
A is for the Audacity to hope, where anything should begin.
B is for Biden, okay, I can live with him. And Bruce, all the cool cats hang with him.
C is for Change, not the kind you put in tip jars.
(Look, Isaac is going to wake up from his nap soon, so pick a letter and send me yours!)
---------
On a trip to the farmer's market I encounter a man holding up a McCain/Palin sign. The shocking sight of it triggers some kind of shadow symptoms of tourette's disorder in me and without thinking, while no more than 15 feet away, I shout at the guy, "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING??!!"
---------
Setback in my meager campaign to do something-for-god's-sake. I hand deliver a registration form to a mom (of three) and Isaac's preschool. She fails to return it by the deadline. Three children unspoken for. I mourn, and then realize I live in California and well, she can get away with it this time, at least on the presidential level.
---------
Meager campaign limps on, pointing out to a poet friend who's second poetry collection is set to be published early next year, that his planned title of "A Bridge to There" conjures unwanted associations. He hadn't caught it. He consults other poets and ultimately decides to change it. He thanks me most sincerely.
---------
Meager campaign finds new steam again. On the phone with my hair dresser this morning, making an appointment. We've spoken already about how she's registered for the first time in her life and she's voting for the O-man:
“Did you vote yet?”
“I have to vote today, huh?”
“Girlfriend...”
“I've never done this before! Where do I vote?”
“It depends where you live.”
“How do I find out?”
"Did you get a sample ballot?"
"I don't think so."
“Can you get on a computer?”
“I don't know. I can try...”
“Give me your address, I'll find it for you right now.”
---------
On the eve of the election (uh, that's writer talk for “yesterday”), I'm chatting with my almost 82-year-old neighbor, Mrs Johnson, a white woman married for 57 years to a black man. She is sweeping leaves from our tree out of her yard. She never says his name. Instead she says, “I hope he makes it. I hope he makes it. He's young. He has a lot of energy. There's so much prejudice, maybe he can do something. I hope he makes it. All this prejudice all around...” And at that, she purses her old lady lips and grips her broom more tightly, then swings it out, as if to sweep away what's distasteful.
---------

By this final week, Mike and I had become junkies. He catches me on the computer reading up on Obama via Wikipedia after Isaac's in bed. We discover his birthday is the same as our wedding anniversary. Mike continues to study the stats.

“Hmm. 48? I thought he was younger than that.”

“He was. When this bloody thing started. He's been campaigning for 700 years! I mean, 21 months!”
---------
Walking into my (line-free) polling place I feel like kissing all the volunteers. I squeak, “Are we excited?” Funny thing this English language, you use it to ask questions when you know the answer.
---------
I kept reading about people bringing their 5- and 6- and 7-year-olds to the polls with them to witness history. But at our house, things were a little different. Three is not 5. All afternoon I'm one way-distracted mama...

“Isaac, let's go look on the computer and see how Mr. Obama is doing and if he'll be our next president.”

“Okay,” he sighs dragging his feet. “But THEN can we find rocks for my penguin to jump on?” (It was a rockhopper, you know.)

O-History!

The instructions on our paper ballots read:

To VOTE, connect the arrow pointing to your choice...A SINGLE LINE IS SUFFICIENT. (emphasis orginal)

But I just couldn't help making that one line a little bolder...

Yes We Can make it a Happy Election Day!

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