Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
A warm, windy day, we walked to the beach.
Monday, December 19, 2011
"What if all the girls on the whole earth said 'CHUM-chum. CHUM-chum. CHUM-chum,'" Indy intoned like a chant as we zipped through the endless Mojave desert, brown mile after brown flat mile. "And all the boys said 'Rocka-rocka. Rocka-rocka. Rocka-rocka'."
Friday, December 16, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
December first. I wake to snow. I crave hot drink and solitude by a window where I can see the falling white and listen to my soul. Like a Christmas miracle, I am granted exactly that. I sit inside a warm, bright place and watch the barren earth drape itself in purity. Ridiculous, I think of Queen Elizabeth. Barren. White and bare.
I have pregnancy on the brain.
A misplaced desire, I tell my husband. Tell myself. Like the timing of everything in my life, the arrival of this strange want confounds me. I don't think I actually crave a baby. I think I crave the things it represents: joyful anticipation. A cherished arrival. A soft and holy hush. The earth appears unfruitful, but in this time it is waiting. In the cold, life is being knit together underneath. Too deep to see, too subtle yet to feel. Like an artist not deep in the work, but deep in the waiting. Gathering inspiration. Anticipating joy.
Everything appears dormant. One day it finally blooms.
All creation works like this.
What I crave is not a baby, but fruition. A fruit of my efforts, and peace. A soft and settled place. Not the frightful winds of autumn, not the rushed daze of spring. Like a child given a paper bird on a string, I twirl these two things between cold fingers. On one side, waiting. On the other side, harvest. I wait and know together, they can fly.
The miracle is, I feel it all. I can hold all this, and it is all right.
It is good.
A confused desire, I tell my husband, because my spirit likens my creative work to fertility. A book, like a baby, waits to be born. On the first of December, my creativity feels barren.
But all is not as it appears.
What I know is there is value in both these things: the quiet and the coming. One the comfort, the other joy.
Here is the promise in the depths of the dirt, beneath the earth frozen, beneath the solid snow: in the blackest, twisted forest, still things grow.
Out of darkness, light.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
This morning I did something I have never done before. I dropped my daughters off at school without first showering and combing my hair. (I should add that I'm required to sign my daughters in, which means entering the building and interacting with at least 300 well-groomed adults).
It's not that I'm a prissy-face, it's just that I don't want anyone to see what I actually look like.
Trust me, it startles people. They pretend it doesn't; they're not fooling anyone. "It's ok," said one guy in college. "Your skin just isn't used to not having makeup on it. It's just. . . freaking out. Once it gets used to it, it'll be fine."
Even the husband, who pretends to think I am lovely at all moments, once saw me fresh out of the shower and gingerly asked, "Um, so what is the process here? Why do you look so different now than when you go to bed?"
(Don't worry about my ego. It's enormous. Nothing can take this baby down. Seriously, my ego is like a balloon at Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Sky-scraper sized and full of hot air, propped up by lesser people dressed like elven slaves.)
I will forever remember the terrible movie Elizabethtown for one reason only: the scene where Kirsten Dunst stays up all night talking on the phone and come dawn, her fair skin doesn't show a thing. Here's a sorry truth for you: fair skin shows EVERYTHING. My fair skin betrays me if I have a drink. It betrays me if I consume dairy. The few times I smoked a cigarette, it was written all over my face. And you bet your bippy that if a fair maiden stays up into the wee hours of the night, her skin screams her distress. We get all blotchy around the nose and the eyes. Often the lips. We do not go to prom and after-prom and finish the night milk-skinned. We got to prom and get left there because our date mistook us for the Swamp Thing during a flare up of psoriasis. I don't blame the husband for delicately asking "what is the process?" because if you went to bed with Anne of Green Gables, albeit on a bloaty day, and woke up next to Feed Me Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors, you'd be wondering what the hell, too.
I went to school drop-off without a shower because I overslept. I overslept because of a dream. I am going to sum up the dream now. Please, I promise to do it fast.
In the dream, Indy was a shape-shifter. She had been stolen away from me and, when I found her, had shifted-shape into a little Asian girl. Now no one was going to believe that freckles and the cutest little thing in black pigtails actually belonged together. I was growing quite panicked in the dream, not unlike people who wake up next to me, until dream-me remembered: I had seen every episode in six and a half seasons of Supernatural.
I knew how to handle this.
DREAM SEQUENCE OVER.
This is what I keep coming back to. I've been feeling unequipped. I've been telling myself I don't know what to do. When I calm down and listen, I remember: it isn't true.
I have seen six and a half seasons of Supernatural. Obviously there is a wisdom in me that surpasses all understanding.
And anyway, I know how to handle this.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thanksgiving was almost ruined by:
-Everyone called my side dish "a dessert" and I pouted
-the talent. The talent was being difficult for a moment there (but who can blame her little turkey-stuffed heart?)
Thanksgiving was saved by:
-my sister's homemade pecan pie (Who knew I liked pecan pie?)
-my brother-in-law's prime rib or whatever. (He kept calling it that)
-my mom's corn casserole (Please don't tell anyone I enjoyed a casserole)
-my dad's Ikea song
-my husband's delicious roasty pumpkin beer
-everyone loving my side dish too much to care if it was a dessert (IT WASN'T)
-my daughters and my niece Eisley running a wild rumpus through. . .
-my sister's gorgeous and catalog-ready home (thrift stores and Ikea are her secrets)
-A Very Gaga Thanksgiving tv special
Happy Day after Thanksgiving. I'm not out shopping, but I kind of wish I was.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
A lot of stuff went down today.
I guess that should be expected when you get up to have a pee in the dead of night and in mid-act hear your husband's alarm going off. Because it's 2:30 a.m. and time for him to head to work.
Some days, I don't know. Life hunts you down. "Oprah says you can't solve emotional problems geographically," I tell the husband, but sometimes the urge to flee is so strong. Sometimes you want to feel safe in your world, even though you know that doesn't exist. We rushed over to Oskar Blues Homemade Liquid and Solids because that's what the male V and I do when we're feeling hunted. We eat and drink, the girls blow up Death Stars and, as I would come to find out hours later while in emergency room triage, stuff sand down their pants.
Don't judge their sandy-bottomed joy.
After that we had no strength to venture out in the cold. We headed for Barnes and Noble in Boulder. Within five minutes I realized our mistake and we left. Ayla asks for everything. Her requests the white rabbit, I leap down my black hole. I'm getting better at what my Blood Sister A calls "thought-stopping". When my brain starts to launch me into my old "universe is out to get me" or "good things don't come my way" soliloquies, I can usually tell her just to knock it off. Depression is a wolf howling at the door, who says you have to open it? But when she knocks in the form of my children having desires, I spiral downhill fast. "I want to ask Santa to bring me Legos for Christmas," says Daughter A and seconds later I'm shivering in the corner, mind whirling with every sparkly gift I can't afford to buy them. Christmas is coming. Get the hell out of the retail stores.
Fortified now with hot beverage, we drove to the park. My husband tossed my daughters around in the leaves to their everlasting delight. The dog stalked squirrels.
Somewhere in all this I canceled our cable, found a rejection letter in my email, and decided to dye my hair brown. The day grows dark. We buy produce for a vegetarian dinner, healthy. Just what we need.
Everything happens when mom goes to the bathroom. From my moment's peace, I hear a yelp. A yowl. I open the door and my Indy is crying. I rush to her and grab her little face, which is smeared in blood. She had been resting her head on the dog. The dog has nipped her. One cut on her lip is very small but deep enough that I bundle her back into boots and drive her to the emergency room. Ayla is sobbing, she stays home with dad.
In the Emergency Room a couple checks in. She's twelve weeks pregnant. I assume she's had bleeding but later I hear whispered 'throwing up'. I don't know. I count my blessings. My baby is shaken, but she's here on my lap.
In the emergency room, we discover the sand in her britches.
No stitches required. They say she won't have a scar.
I email Blood Sister A. I tell her I wish a wise person would swoop into my life and tell me what to do.
Then I figure, maybe that wisdom's just waiting here.
(This picture is of Indy feeling better and playing with the syringe they gave her. I love the fierce concentration on her face. She was plotting about how she was going to come home and squirt Ayla. Like that.)
Monday, November 21, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
I am not immune to certain superstitions.
Today I have fortified myself for work like going to battle. This battle requires not weapons and war paint, but spiritual armor. I wear Frida Kahlo at my neck and the Virgin of Guadalupe on my finger. For reasons that aren't entirely clear even to me, these are my girls. These are my women. Fierce little Frida, painting her odd paintings of macabre femininity. As for the Virgin of Stars, what can I say: the lady abides. No, I'm not Catholic (or Mormon or Lutheran), it's difficult to qualify what I am, but I do believe in symbols and these women represent to me the things I need: fierceness. Soulfulness. Honesty.
I have also armed myself with some AC/DC. That is where my spiritual frequency is found, today. American thighs shook me all night long, best damn woman that I've ever seen, and all that.
I believe in doses of bravery, whatever the source.
I have a story in my head. A story about myself. In this story I have written, I am the best. I am the specialist little snowflake. I know it's not pretty, but it's true.
Think of it like the mirror of Erised. My dreams aren't innocent, like Dumbledore's or Potter's. My dreams are like Ron Weasley's. They involve glory, preferably public glory. They involve my version of winning. Not sports trophies or Best Mom in the World mugs. My dreams are of publishing. I've been working toward them for seven long years.
Years full of setbacks. Challenges.
I didn't imagine it would go this way. I imagined it all would come easily, that I would accomplish publishing the way I accomplished good grades in school. Naturally. Doing, after all, the only thing I'm really good at. And my ego needed it to come easily. I don't know why, it sounds so ridiculous looking at it now, but I wanted to appear to the world as if I had succeeded without ever really trying.
I wanted to be good. Worthy. A little bit impressive.
I didn't want to be honest about my journey. I think because I didn't want to appear to fail.
I had imagined myself so isolated. Like if I were to fail, I would be the only one.
As time goes on, my life feels less and less honest. I wanted to show the world the glory without the struggle. The sweetness without the sorrow. The accomplishment without all the accompanying pain and bleeding and sweating uphill in the mud with my armor tied around my waist.
Now I need to say it: this is not coming easily.
This is a tremendous struggle.
Being a writer depends to a great degree on outside approval. You can write all you want, you can even call yourself a writer, but the world will not consider you one until you have bewitched the correct combinations of people: first an agent, then an editor. I write in a bubble, pretending no one is ever going to see it (because that is the only way I can write honestly), and then I take it to a world of people, in New York and LA, people who don't know me, who are busily wrapped in their own lives, who have heard it all before. I have to offer up my flawed creation, this thing that I have sweated and bled over, that is a reflection of my very soul, of my most private and deep beliefs, and wait for them to approve it.
But what's harder is not being honest about it. What's harder is hiding away in the dark, hoping not to show my many imperfections. Hoping that one day I can bound out shining a light so bright, you too will be bewitched. You too will miss all my weaknesses. And then I rob us both of the truth. I rob us both of the thing it is most important to name: the honesty of the story.
How happy is an ending, after all, if you haven't witnessed all the long trials that led up to it?
I have a sneaking suspicion it was already clear I'm not the best. No so impressive, maybe. But last night, I sat in a hot bath talking myself down off another ledge of another rejection. Revelation came, as it so often does, with a combination of hot water and tears: I wasn't going to do this publishing thing effortlessly. And in my ego's need to appear to achieve without effort, I was hurting the people around me.
And I was hurting my soul.
So here I am. Fresh off the press of another confounding rejection letter. These agents, they are mystifying. They are the modern world's version of the Oracle of Delphi, only they make even less sense. This publishing thing, it might take years. Seven or seventy. Publishing is a long game. Once a day I want to give it up.
I'm not giving it up.
Forgive me for the indulgence, but I need to say this:
I'm back in black.
Either blogger isbuggy as heck today, or the universe conspires to illumine all my flaws. Forgive my text size discrepancies. I've spent ten minutes trying to fix them and frankly, I've got other stories to write.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
C.Jane blogged about the kids sometimes, yes. But more importantly, what she was doing was documenting her experience. With raw honesty and a wicked sense of humor, she was putting her (emotionally) naked self out there. An act of bravery for anyone, but especially for a woman. Especially for a mother. Especially for a person from a religious culture. And I thought ok, I want to write a blog that's as true as C.Jane's.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
To prove how absolutely asinine I can be, I have challenged myself to write a sonnet a day for the next thirty days.
Here is today's.
Sonnet Two: Wink Wink
Last night the falling branches struck my dreams.
The children woke and donned their little boots,
I trampled out in mine and cursed the snow.
I fear I said a lot worse words than shoot,
Cold makes me mean and cranky, as you know.
I tell her look, the snow's still coming down.
She suffers to comprehend when I am talking,
I suffer from a lack of Pho in town.
The tree that once skimmed heaven lies in grass
Please bring me tea, and tell me this won't last.