Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I Woke Up Like This

"Girls who run with the wolves aren't here for boys to love."--source

 “Within the Yoni is the origin of the worlds, the Gods and all living beings.” – Vedas

"The Galactic Center is a feminine source of energy – dark, invisible, mysterious. We have to be quiet to receive its messages, and the cosmic wisdom comes through our bodies, our hearts, our dreams, our feelings and intuition – not through our rational minds. According to Christine Page, in her book 2012 and the Galactic Center, to some ancient cultures, the Galactic Center was the womb of the Great Mother, out of which the universe was born." (source)

The day broke cold and white, every branch and blade and leaf encrusted in frost, the earth turned into a galaxy of sharply limned stars. I have worried that Wellbutrin would cut me off from this process, the deeply feminine cycle of hibernation culminating in insight, but today it does not seem so. I am integrating, a woman's work, taking disparate pieces of the being and putting them together to make a whole. An imperfect but complete whole. A bunch of mumbo jumbo, some would say, to which I would give my new refrain, I don't care if you fucking like it. The solstice is a symbol for those of us who are inextricably linked to the seasons, who rise and fall with them, sighing like the sea. When it arrives I will be on a plane bound west across the country, one coast to another, soaring straight into the light. I dreamt of a narwhal and heaving crusts of ice, swaying on a blackened ocean. It's symbolic, she said when she washed three years worth of my hair. It's a new beginning. The filaments of me did not resist the cutting. The frost was on the grain but the day ended in a sherbet sunset, early, carnival colored, promising the things to come. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In the Moment, Unedited, For What It's Worth

Someday, I am going to

order every book from my amazon wish list
and read them.
Own a vacuum cleaner that works.
Organize four years worth of my daughters' school papers and
nine years of their artwork.
Attend every meeting at the school and then
pull my children out of the public system
teach them about Hindus and Wagner and
how to survive 9 days in the wild.

Someday I will go to every social outing I say I will
Follow through on my offers to volunteer
cutting snowflakes for second graders and
baking snacks for the Girl Scouts and
spending quiet hours repairing brittle old books.
Cook wholesome meals and never get
tired or
lean against the counter rubbing my temples or
retire to the bathroom for twenty minutes while the water boils over
and the children fight
and the windows steam with all the tension
of a busy house
on a December night.

Someday I will paint this old Victrola that I bought
for 45 bucks at a yard sale
that worked at the time but broke
when I moved my children across the country--

--away from their cousins and snow and grandparents
away from white Christmases and smoked oysters and
the shadows of the clouds on the face of Long's Peak.

Someday I will gather
everything that is broken or disorderly or
and resurrect it.
Learn how to put new paint on old scars
and make the best!

--But this isn't true.
The artwork will mold in the outdoor shed
and the Victrola will sit in the corner
gathering dust, its ribs
remembering the sound
of old music.

And when I am old
if the longings of the Victrola
wake me at night
from a dream of Long's Peak,
I will sigh my heavy body and remind it
it has done what it could.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sometimes I Write and Sometimes I Just

My sister and I, two years ago. The Nie Nie to my Cjane. Right?

Last night was the Oskar Blues holiday party. It was at an indoor rec center. There was a Christmas tree made of lettuce and shrimp and it smelled just like you'd expect. I drank less than two full beers and that was enough to encourage me to play ping pong and air hockey and even Dance Dance Revolution, but not dodge ball. Two enormous televisions were given away, but neither one to us, so who cares? When we left it was mild like Colorado May. "I can't drive," I told Noah. "I know," he said. "I saw you go for that second beer and stopped drinking."

Today just as I woke up and was deciding whether to cry or puke, I got a text from another OB wife. ("Do any women work at Oskar Blues?" someone asked me once. "One," was my reply). It said, "Ouch". I agreed and laughed and started to cry.

(Noah actively seeks out female applicants for brewing jobs, but so far none have worked out, due to availability and distance. Of course, the tasting room is staffed and managed mostly by women but I'm not sure that helps?)

Today I drove Noah to work under pouring rain from a sunny sky. "Why is it doing this to us?" I moaned, knowing that in Colorado it is frigid and snowy. "Because a long long time ago, someone in Brevard did something very, very bad," he said.

It rains and rains and rains. In 16 days we leave for California. I can't wait to get the hell out of here.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Frozen, Pho, and Platitudes of Gratitude

Thanksgiving last year, just after dawn

I do not like the holidays at all. I woke up today and went onto Facebook with a perverse desire to see everyone doing the thing I hate--offering up the platitudes about family and God--and sure enough, there they all were. I stormed out into the living room to make cinnamon rolls and bluster to Noah about how much I hate it all. I hate it so much that yesterday found me morose with anticipation, and in the early afternoon I went back to bed. Should I say that I hadn't taken my Wellbutrin? I hadn't taken it. I slept a dreamless sleep. Then Noah woke me up and said, let's take the girls to a movie, and so we did. We drove an hour to see a movie that I had sword to boycott, and as we drove the wind gathered fury. It tilted stop lights in tandem and blew Christmas trees across their lots. We hurried in to the theater in the chill, both invigorating and punishing, and sheltered for two bright hours. I had been wrong about the movie, it was feminist and wonderful. When it ended, both evening and the snow were falling. People here in the south work themselves into a frenzy every winter over dozens of promised snow storms that never arrive and yes, I'd been cynical about that too.

But now the snow was falling, it was bitter cold, and we drove to a Pho restaurant that had the same sriracha and Chinese horoscope-atmosphere of every Asian restaurant across the country. We sipped that spicy anise-laced broth, the lone diners on a fierce and wintry night. The drive back was hairy for a bit, but the weather ebbed as we drew closer to home. The children asleep, I drank half a beer, felt drunk, and went to bed. The moment the lights went out, my brain began to fret over Christmas and presents and travel and of course, budgets. And as I prepared to send up thoughts to the universe, my mind did the thing it had done after sushi. So maybe it's these Asian restaurants that are stirring enlightenment in with the rice, I don't know. My comprehension expanded beyond my little world, and I realized how ridiculous it was to worry about whether or not I'll be able to buy my daughters many toys when here we sit in a cozy house with pho in our bellies and the certainty of food tomorrow.

You see what I have just done? This morning, after blustering to Noah about how much I hate all the recitations of contrived sentiments, I began to tell him of my late-night enlightenment and then I stopped myself. Oh god, I said, oh god, I am about to do the thing I just told you I hate. I am abashed to report that my voice was teary as I started. And now I have done it on my blog, and I have no excuses. I guess I should make an observation here about being kinder and more compassionate to people who offer platitudes, but the truth is that I strongly dislike Thanksgiving, whether I'm home with my family or not, and that at 11 a.m. I'm going to pour my first drink, which will probably turn out be my last, that I'm a hypocrite and a sellout and that, for all my talk of enlightenment, I'm sure I'll be back to my petty prayers tomorrow. But I'll also be okay with thankfulness again.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Two-Hearted Woman

At this turn in my life, I am finding it more difficult to do this thing we call "balancing work and children". When my daughters were first born I didn't work for a few years. I went back to a part-time job when Indy was two and Ayla was four and regretted not going back sooner. The work I did at Borders was infinitely easier than being at home all day with my two young children, stupefied and brittle with loneliness. In those days, I was finding it nearly impossible to get out of bed every morning. My somnolence wasn't due to depression, I don't think. I believe I was just catching up on two back-to-back infancies that deprived me of sleep to the marrow of my bones. My sleep, especially in the morning hours, was like an enchanted sleep from which there was no rescue. In the mornings Indy would rattle the bars of her crib calling for her sister--her first word not "mama" but her sister's name, Awa, Awa, Awa. I would drift in and out of sleep, rather resplendent, I picture myself now, a young woman tangled among blue bed sheets in a sunny room. My body cream heavy with early motherhood. Ayla would go to her sister bearing offerings--a jar of peanut butter, a bag of powdered sugar or, the very worst time, eggs. I would lie there, wafting in and out of dreams. I could never manage to pull myself out of bed before ten a.m. By that time Indy's face and hair would be smeared with peanut butter, or the carpet would be covered with sugar, and I would wearily drink my coffee before cleaning up, telling the girls not to do it again without much vigor. I accepted my daughters' little coups as the tithe I had to pay for my lassitude.

In those days I only had weekends to write, and I would, every Saturday and many Sundays. On writing days I could rise early, and did, slipping out of the house before the girls or Noah were even awake, driving to the coffee shop in what I remember now as a perpetually snowy dark, and setting up camp. I would stay there into the afternoon, and sometimes I would buy a lunch and change locations--move on to another coffee shop and write for a few more hours. Occasionally I'd go out at night to the 24-hour Starbucks. It was in a neighborhood of Denver where immigrants from many regions had established communities. So at eleven pm or twelve am on a Monday, I could sit and watch men in fantastic princely turbans, women in hijabs, hear people speak the languages of Ethiopia and Russia and Lebanon. God it was fantastic.

These days, it's harder. As the girls get older, they require more and more of my emotional energy. More, I am afraid, than I have to give. Not a day passes without some conflict at school, some disruption of the force, and when I go to tuck my daughters in at night they will unleash labyrinthine and infinite stories, incomprehensible recountings of the fragile and ever-changing ecosystem of elementary school children. Their teachers are sending home notes, scandalized that my daughter walked down the hallway on her knees, or didn't pay attention during one lesson or another. Our days seem fuller and shorter than they did in that toddler time, when I shaped the rhythms and we rarely had to be anywhere we didn't want to go. Now they have schedules, the schedules are tight, and I find myself starved for creative time. But of course, I always have been.

Last night as I went to sing to Ayla and tuck her in, a shadow passed across her face. I asked her what was wrong and she told me it was nothing, just that her finger was hurting her. I pressed gently. Was she sure it wasn't something else? Some argument with a friend, perhaps, or had her feelings been hurt? No, she insisted, it was just her hangnail, and she clicked on her reading lamp and held it up for me to see. There was a hang nail indeed, but I was not completely satisfied. I waited. We sat there together in silence for a bit, while I stroked her hair and hoped this detective-novel technique might work on a young girl. "Are you going to sing to me?" she finally said, and so I pulled the covers up to her chin and I sang. I uttered the same intonations that I have uttered over this daughter nearly every night since she was a baby, nine years ago when I think we were both afraid, me trying futilely to soothe my own heart in my arms. You can tell me anything, I said, and she said she knew that. I will always love you, I said, and she said yes, she knew. I exited the room and as I closed the door the light from the hallway slanted across her face and then left it, rendering her unknowable to me in more ways than she ever was before.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Know What I Did Last Summer

I find I'm needing to keep my cards close to my chest these days.

So I thought in the meantime I could share a few pictures of good times we've had during this year that's winding down.

These are all from the trip the girls and I took back to Colorado in July.

Guanella Pass, where the air is clean and and crisp.

Ayla looking hip.

 I love this picture of me and my mom at the North Pole 
in Colorado Springs. We had Christmas in
July and now look, we're going to have it again.

 Ayla, Georgetown

Me and my chicken in the Rockies. 

 Chicken and my dad, her Papa.

My nephew, Paxton, had just been born.
Here is his amid the sea of his sisters (the little ones)
and cousins (the big ones). Indy, Eisley, Ayla with Pax,

Sometimes pictures will do when words won't.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Talk of Utopia

Last night I went out for sushi with some women I know and some I didn't. The conversation turned to utopias. It was at the opposite end of the table and I couldn't hear much. I was maybe trying not to, as they had just been discussing the Affordable Care Act with displeasure and I remain hopeful. But the utopia they described was one of gender segregation. Women and children on one side of the line, men on the other. My friend, who has the most perfect southern social graces the world has ever seen, turned to me and murmured, "I couldn't have a utopia without the men," and then, of course, we began to consider open marriages. These are ideas that are easy to throw around on a rainy night in November, when it's been dark since 5:30 and you're tucked inside a crowded sushi restaurant, drinking sake beneath neon signs and steam of miso.

Over second Sapporos I heard it said that teenage boys are basically walking fireballs of unchecked sexual desire and that they will do anything and say anything to coerce a teenage girl into sleeping with them. Now wait a minute. I stared at my spider roll and squirmed. This is not the message I hope to teach my girls, nor the message I believe. I find it fundamentally disempowering to both sexes. It robs the women of choice (by telling them any choice will be harmful, by turning them away from their own inner wisdom) and it robs the men of responsibility. I know the dominant culture insists that men are perpetually ravenous with desire and that women have basically none. I know for a fact that one of these assertions isn't true. When I talked about fem!Dean the other day, I was referencing the tip of the iceberg that is female sexuality writ and recorded online. I was talking about fan fiction. Fan fiction fascinates me because it is written largely by women, it is largely erotic in nature, and what I've gleaned from it is that there is absolutely no end to the limit of things the female libido might be excited by. My theory is that men have had drilled into them, relentlessly, what is attractive (thin, brainless, submissive women), but since the culture has basically ignored women's desires altogether, the collective feminine sex drive has grown absolutely wild and wantonly for centuries. Like a secret garden of unruly bramble and serpentine vines, walled off from the world, boasting all manner of strange fruit and previously unknown varieties.

The point of all this is that I believe in and hope for better. In all elements of the troubled world. Why didn't I say anything, or speak up? Sitting in that restaurant, lit up like a giant lantern floating above the black mountains, eating sushi that may or may not be radioactive and fished from a far-off sea, my view expanded and encompassed a greater portion of the universe than I usually conceive when talk turns to politics or gender. All the millions of us out there, our own paper lanterns in the night. There are thousands who'd agree with me and thousands who don't. There always were, and always will be. What good am I arguing my own meager beliefs, trying to prove my own enlightenment, while I eat the flesh of lobsters, a creature that I've recently learned might not age or even die, if we didn't kill them? I will never change their beliefs, they will never change mine. My goal is to grow a group of like-minded friends, with whom I at least can be at peace and not at war. The world teems on with every possible thing, known and unknown. I can only tend my own garden, and my style is one of loving neglect, offering nourishment and light and air but few parameters. As for the brambles, let them be wild. Let them curl their own tattered path to the sun.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Smile Like A Lady

Yesterday I stayed in the house all day and was absolutely stir-crazy by the end of it. I crave my old big city lifestyle. All I want is a goddamn drive through Starbucks, I find myself thinking some days. Or, would a goddamn Chipotle be so much to ask? There are pretty much three streets in Brevard and I'm tired of all of them. 

So today I decided I would get out of the house early and enjoy my little town. Making lemonade! and all that. I drove to the bakery on Main Street where I purchased a blueberry cream cheese danish and an almond croissant. Then I drove to our Starbucks, which is in the depressing grocery store. We have no freestanding Starbucks. We have other coffee shops but I wanted a gingerbread latte. Gosh this is turning into a diatribe. Here's what you need to know: I was wearing my new military jacket and standing in the grim grocery store waiting for my gourmet latte when an old sport walks in--Brevard is chock-full of old sports, southern variety--and says "Hey Sarge." Nyuk nyuk!

Old men are becoming a problem for me. I deal with a lot of them in my line of work and while I used to see old men as sweet and fragile, I now see them entirely as a group of depraved dirty leches. (I am a tongue-in-cheek person in case you are new here). One old fellow came into the library and, long story short, mistook my friendliness for something more and started some garden variety stalking. He was going in to the library almost every day asking for me and even went to my husband's work trying to track me down. When he finally did find me at work, he asked me where I live (I did not tell him), told me that if my husband wasn't "being good to me" he was going to "beat him up" because I'm "gorgeous" and then he asked me if I was still having sex with my husband. 

That was when I told him he was making me very uncomfortable and walked away. 

Since then I have been pretty put off by old men altogether. They come into the library and tend to call me honey or sweetheart or gorgeous. There is one who likes to make disparaging comments about how little I am being paid and others who harangue me for "standing around". It is all condescending and rude. I feel that any level of friendliness will be taken as encouragement, and so I've become a bit of an ice queen. You know that thing where men tell women, "Smile!"? Well, men should know, the reason we're not smiling is because at some point we have smiled at the wrong guy and ended up being stalked. Or worse.

Look this was supposed to be a blog about a military jacket.

I smiled politely at Sarge because I am trained to be nice and it's a hard habit to break. And Sarge probably meant well but the thing is, I would really like to go about in the world and have it understood that my appearance and my person are not available for comment. I don't want to make small talk or listen to your story or smile over your stupid joke about my clothing, OLD CHAP, simply because I am female and can therefore be relied upon to "be nice". I mean, do men deal with this? Do little old blue hairs just feel free to condescend to young men, and are the young men expected to smile about it?

What I wish I had said to the man is, I am not your sarge, I am fem!Dean. He wouldn't have known what that meant and neither do you, probably. My dad told me, "Never let a man call you baby!" and I guess he should have added, "Or Sarge!" Maybe I should have just snapped, "Don't look at me in the eye!", thrown my latte, and run away. He said a few more things and I smiled but made no replies. The college-guy barista handed me my coffee and I did not say thanks stud or thanks baby or are they paying you to look good? I just said thank you and walked away. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

So Glamorous

I am sitting at home today thinking about how well things are in my world. I mean, I did have to go to the dentist, but she removed some stains and now my teeth are white and shiny. I don't know what is better than shiny teeth, except maybe my blog. Just kidding. You know I am kidding, right?

(I am not at all kidding.)

After I got my teeth shined I went and voted, and then I returned some library books at the library at which I work. It was a nice small town moment. The polling place was in a little white church one block away from the dentist. Both on Main street, onto which you can make a left hand turn easily at any hour of the day. The library was about four blocks away from the church. Everything is right there. Croissants and pizza, lattes and polling places, the hardware store and movie theater, free books and shiny teeth all within three minutes of each other. So not everything is bad about living in a small town. Most things are bad, but not all things.

Here's what else is going well. A website recently came to my attention. This website was designed for the express purpose of getting together and anonymously eviscerating bloggers who are living their lives in the wide open, writing about things and you know, baring their souls for our emotional and intellectual stimulation. I feel very lucky at the moment to have inter-met such a wonderful group of kind-hearted and supportive people, smart-ass people yes, but kind, who come to this blog and I felt so grateful that nobody is eviscerating me on the internet. Then, of course, for a brief moment I kind of wished somebody was eviscerating me on the internet. Because that would be like the first time they make fun of you on SNL. Then you know you've made it. My husband has made it, as you can tell from the above screengrab. I can only hope the photoshoot involved Noah mashing in grain wearing nothing but his Wellington's. Maybe tipping back his head and pouring a Ten Fidy on himself, I don't know. Then it's like, "Oops, I dropped my lauter tun!" Movie pitch: In a world without shirts, brewers must mash tun in any way they can. He is living the life that I was supposed to lead, but that's ok because what I really want is not to be in Southern Living (god forbid), but to sit around reading and writing and sometimes talking to people about both.

Which, as it happens, is a pretty perfect description of my life right now.

Guys, I think I forgot how to blog, so thanks for bearing with me in the interim. Feel free to bare with me as well, because I believe communal nudity would be healing for our society. I'm talking like Nordic saunas or Turkish baths here, definitely not topless beaches. Maybe topless beaches. I just think we need to see more bodies au naturel. Look, this is a whole different blog. Feel free not to comment, I certainly can't blame you. I thought about relieving you by turning off comments, but then I found out they'll just eviscerate that anonymously. You know?

Peace out?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Smoky October

Brevard is a quaint town to drive around in during autumn. The little shops downtown display scarecrows and spider webs in the windows, squares of hay decorate the sidewalks. There are churches with white steeples and pumpkin patches on the lawn, and the evenings smell of wood fires. The hills that surround us on all sides are lit up, gold and red against the blue sky, and when the light comes through the trees it feels as if we are living in a jar of red honey, set against the window and shot through with sun.

I want to write about Indy and Ayla. Indy and I went to an art gallery with the girl scout troop, and while most of the girls chatted and flitted, Indy took my hand and led me from one work to the next, crossing the room repeatedly, following her gut. "Look at these very beautiful colors," she said, solemn. She knelt before a bronze sculpture of humanoid forms in the center of the room. "This is very interesting," she said. "What do you think they are?"

I told her I didn't know and asked her what she thought.

"I think they are people but they could be anything," she told me, before a photo-realistic painting of leaves caught her eye. This was a wonderful moment, but all is not well in her world. Last night she lay in bed next to me and was conversing calmly until the subject of classmate Charlie came up. "Charlie is always asking me to play hot potato. Hot potato hot potato hot potato." She was so agitated she had to sit up. She buried her face in her hands. She actually pinched the bridge of her nose. "Every day he is asking me to play hot potato and I don't want to play hot potato and I say no, Charlie, let's not play hot potato but Charlie just says who wants to play hot potato and it is making me very frustrated." Today her class came on a field trip through the library while I was working and she walked me around holding my hand fast to her chest. She says her room is messy because the wind blows so hard every night. She has a slippery relationship with the truth. She comes down the hall cradling a swaddled doll and I love that she is still young enough to do it. I took a picture of it in my mind so I'd never forget. Indy, 7, with doll.

Ayla has just turned nine and for her birthday, she made a shrunken head out of fondant to sit atop her cake. Ayla has always been drawn to the compelling energies some people deem creepy. She was born in October to a mother too busy trying to become herself to properly raise a daughter. Luckily Ayla seems to have been born knowing who she is. The opposite of her sister, she is a truth teller, which can be a painful quality to have in a daughter. She weighs the scales. She doesn't forget.

She wants to be sung to every night and still kisses me on the lips.

Now, a lot of pictures of fall:

\PS: I want to thank everyone who shared my body loving post. Because of all your help, that blog got five times as many views as my average post does. Thanks for helping me spread the message.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sing Your Body

Your body was yours when you first came into it. If you are a woman, you probably don't remember this time, when your body was your own, and had its own knowledge and canny. You wore it easily and never questioned it. Why would you? Your body required nothing of you. Not acceptance nor criticism, not maintenance nor monitoring, not approval or restriction. Your body existed to take you places, and it did. It existed to delight you, to allow you to be a spiritual being moving throughout a sensual world. Your body was there to allow you to taste--mother's milk, chocolate pudding, grainy pears--to smell (skin, rain, baking bread)--to see (mountain valleys, your fathers eyes, the sun in the leaves)--and to feel. To feel the bark and the soil and the sand of the world around you, but most importantly to feel the skin of others.

Your body existed to accept love, from the world and from people around you, and to send it back.

Your body existed to carry out a dialogue between the universe and your soul.

Then it was taken from you. At some point, when you were very young, someone, accidentally or on purpose, suggested to you that your body did not exist as an electric vessel bridging this world with the divine. They told you that your body was there to please others by fitting into lines. Once this message was received, you weren't able to knock it out of your head. It seeped through your ears into your brain where it trickled down through all your blood vessels and into your soul and you came to accept this terrible lie as truth.

Suddenly your arms weren't there to hold and be held, or to climb trees, or swim in the ocean. Your thighs weren't there to bring the force of life into the world, to accept pleasure, to deliver love. Your legs weren't there to carry you to mountain tops, to stretch, to dance. Your entire existence shifted when you began to believe that your body was there not to accept love, but to earn it.

Now you thought your body's job was to be attractive. To be thin. To fit a cultural definition of a good body that was so specified, so stiflingly narrow that people have died in their attempts to achieve it. When your body was yours, it was free to exist as it wanted because it was unburdened from the attentions of others.It wasn't good or bad, it just was. Now it was only bad. It never looked like it should. It had cravings and aches that were labeled unseemly, inappropriate, or even slovenly and gross.

If you are a woman, you were told your body went one step further--it inspired others to sin. Not only did it crave impure things, it inspired men to impure thoughts. When one sensual pleasure--say, the melting of chocolate on the tongue--was labeled shameful, they all were (the ability to arouse and to be aroused, to orgasm and delight). You were told your body was only worthy of delight if it had been starved and punished, disempowered and made small. The world wanted to berate it into submission. You betrayed your body, you gave yourself over to these ideals, and when it didn't live up to them, you thought your body betrayed you in return.

So you denied it. This vibrating, humming, flesh-soft portal of communication between you and the universe--you refused to love it. You didn't know you were allowed to love it. Every time you went on a diet or envied another body, you were depriving your body of love. In this way, you deprived your very self of love. You began to spiral, scolding it so harshly and yet being surprised when it quietly refused to cooperate with you. You stopped hearing it. The voice of your skin and organs and bones was shouted out of existence by the voice of the world around you, telling you to be ever smaller, and smaller, until eventually you might disappear. The voice of your body drowned.

This isn't your fault. You were lied to at a deeply vulnerable stage and your body's intuition was taken from you before it had a chance to develop.

You can take it back.

Your body exists for you, and you alone.

It doesn't exist to please a judging public. It doesn't exist to gain approval. It doesn't exist for your parents, your friends, your spouse.

Your body cannot be bad or wrong.

You deserve to not have to worry about loving your body, but the world has made this necessary to claim it back. So this is how it's done:

Put your hands on your flesh and send it messages of love.

The way it is right now. Your thighs and belly and breasts aren't there to be molded into some hateful, limited idea of what is attractive and good. This message is wrong. Reject it fully, right now. Female or male, you must realize that you have been brainwashed. Relentlessly brainwashed. You have been asleep to your body for too long. You are waking up now.

Stand in front of the mirror naked and admire what you see. Whatever you see. This flesh that curves and rolls like the earth. This decorated canvas upon which the world has painted the story of your life. The parts of you that are rippled and speckled like rivers or a robin's egg. These thighs that quiver and sing when they are moved with joy, that shake like thunder and the earth. This skin shot through with nerves that flicker like stars. The parts of you that are pale like the moon or burnished by the sun. Don't you see that  your body is as varied and glorious as the land and you should no more reject or whittle it than you would take a scalpel and sever away mesas and valleys and mounds?

To ask your body to be something that it's not is a profound act of violence upon your soul and you will try not to do it again. Refuse to send negative messages toward another body, ever. Not to anyone else's, nor toward your own.

I won't tell you what your body wants because only you can possibly know. A thing that is being sent an unending stream of hatred will never find its voice. Your job is to send your body messages of love until it will refuse to accept as truth any voice but it's own, ever again.

Your body is exactly what it is supposed to be, at this very moment, right now, and choosing to believe that is the only way to coax the wisdom inherent in all your cells into talking to you and working in harmony. You must soothe your body like an abused creature that needs and deserves to be hushed.

A woman at the beach is bending over her child and her belly is hanging, loose and undulating like the sea. Every cell in her body exists exactly as it should.

Put your hands on your flesh.

Send it your love.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Only Way Out

Noah was gone all last week. When he returned I drove us to a Mexican restaurant and as the girls got up for more salsa at the salsa bar I got teary over my untouched margarita and told him I felt like I was going crazy, like something in me had broken. I have a habit of starting conversations I can't finish in restaurants. In July when I returned from Colorado we went out only to have me sob into my sushi. This isn't a post about depression, it's just that I've had so much debris banging around in my head these last few weeks, my mind so busy I can't even sit down and finish a book, which always has been the lifeline for me, the tunnel, the way out.

Of course the book I most need to finish is my own. I am in the final throes of editing it, the home-stretch of work that needs to be done before I independently publish it. This process is surrounded by more angst than that sentence might tell, because while I am not only stuck in the purgatory of writing (editing myself is pure torture), here I am about to publish independently when all my life, since I was old enough to know there were people who wrote, I imagined I would publish traditionally. Things don't always go as we imagine, and that's all right, I only know with certainty that I need to birth this book and move on to other things. I tweeted that once it's done I'm going to buy a damn paint-by-numbers and never write anything again, and there is great allure in that. I see myself taking walks and planning meals and become something of an advocate in my daughter's education. Secretly I harbor the thought that Woolf was right, it is impossible to be a mother and a writer. Trying to do both is driving me mad. But I also know that the immense relief of finishing it will be the ability to move on to other things, as yet unwritten. I feel broken because I'm in labor, I realized. I am laboring this book and so naturally I am unable to focus on anything else and keep snapping that I don't want to be touched. 

The picture above is of my writing desk, which was supposed to be white, but Noah grabbed the wrong box at the Ikea, two hours away. The strange light is a HappyLight that I bought because I am so S.A.D. It has rained 90 inches since January and a doctor pointed out  that my depression is seasonally induced, a grief for light. Well, Brevard managed to finger the trigger in July. Every morning is misty so that the dawn doesn't seem to break until eleven. This is where I spend my days. You might make out a collage I made at a women's retreat where we sang and held hands, art work by my daughters, a card from dear Elizabeth, a card from my sister. On the left is a map of California and Nevada and every day as I edit this book that is set in the southwest, I stare at the outline of the coast and the desert. I don't make meaning out of this, I just like the names. Caliente, Lovelock, Truckee. I-15 from Beaver to Huntington, I have driven it so many times I've lost count. I've seen the sun rise red on the canyons of Arizona, hugging us like a woman's worn thighs, I've seen it come up behind the Joshua Trees in the national forest, twisted alien silhouettes against a new purple sky. There are so many ways to be in this world and where I'm at right now isn't a bad place to pass through.

*I'm not blogging much but I can't seem to stop myself on Twitter so if you tweet, you can come find me there.

PS: I am disturbed that adsense has allowed a link to an anti gay and lesbian site on my blog. I'm working to block it immediately. Please ignore it, if you see it. Thanks. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

What It Looks Like, What It Is

a warm-up

I'll show you the pictures, and then I'll tell you the truth:

Ayla yells a lot. She always has. I'm going to choose not to get all "I Stand Here Ironing" over this and just say that she must be a dictator reincarnated. She has the sense of dominion, the short fuse, and also the love for comics and snazzy fashion sense I imagine all dictators must share. She storms when her show doesn't record, when there's spaghetti for dinner, when it rains, when it's hot, and when a butterfly flaps its wings in the amazon. On Friday morning, she had been strurming und dranging about the house, reciting her litany of favorite things to tell me about how awful everything is, sort of a nightmare story for apocalyptic children. She might have a future on Fox News. You can imagine how hard it was, then, to put her in the car and drive her away from school.

At the girls' school parents snake their cars in a line around the parking lot until we reach the curb, to which we pull up in groups of about eight. Eight cars worth of elementary students spill out onto the walkway, eight cars drive away, eight more pull forward to take their place. You've got to maintain a good pace in consideration of the cars behind you, there is time for a kiss but not for lengthy goodbyes. As we approached the curb, Ayla grew mellow and almost cheery again, as she always does at the prospect of leaving me. Honestly I would not be surprised to be cleaning her room and discover a stash of college mags beneath the bed. By the time I stopped the car at the curb she was tender, nuzzling my  neck before jumping out of the car. I wanted to roll the window down and yell, "I've forgotten nothing!" but I didn't because there were people watching, and Ayla continued to look at me and wave as she advanced down the walkway. It was as I was beginning to inch forward that Ayla advanced her face into a steel support beam at a decent clip.

I mean, the girl high-fived the beam with her face. For one brief moment I laughed, as I have been trained to do by the movies. I stopped my laugh fast and felt immediately sober when I realized I might have to actually get out of the car. The peer pressure of two hundred harried parents waiting to drop their kids at school weighed on me. Hoping for a clean getaway, I pulled forward just slightly enough so that I could see Ayla out of my back window. She was holding her face and crying.

Now, for reasons unknown to me, on this particular morning a cluster of high school cheerladers and football players were gathered about the front doors, probably for the purpose of reminding parents both of their far gone youths and the impending doom of their own sweet children. Everything was happening very fast. One of the bright young cheerleaders had seen Ayla do her own stunt, stifled her own laugh, and was now hesitantly moving toward my daughter, all while wearing her cheerleading skirt. There now, I thought. I don't have to get out of the car. The cheerleader will see to things.

 THE CHEERLEADER WILL SEE TO THINGS. I actually, for a moment, expected this. Then I remembered that I live on planet earth in 2013, this current version of myself is a mother of two needy and moody children, and I can't just drive off into the mist in my mini-van and let THE CHEERLEADER SEE TO THINGS. I got out of my car and somebody honked at me. Obviously it was because of my fantastic jiggle bombs which were jiggling now in full display, because I haven't told you that I take the girls to school in my pajamas, and I happened to have slept the night before in what is charmingly referred to as a "wife-beater". I was braless of course, like any self-respecting woman before 8 am, and my breasts are no longer as perky as they used to be, as I was recently reminded by my mother-in-law, who wanted to ensure I wouldn't compare my own pendulous double D's to those of her twenty-two-year-old daughter. I don't know if you are a fifth grade boy who has ever seen two uncaged Mommy D's in the fog before school starts, but let's just say we're lucky there wasn't a full-on riot.

So there I am, bending down to comfort my pole-faced daughter, who cries with the same fervor she unleashes on me in anger, one of her more becoming habits. I was more or less naked in my white tank and yoga pants, and my hair was about to be mistaken by an eagle for a small poodle on top of my head. Mascara was crumbled like debris across the battleground of my post-30 face, which also happened to be lined by the bedsheets like clefts cleaven by bombs into the bloody ground of seaside France. Ayla was screaming her head off, boys were achieving puberty, parents were honking, and all the while a beautiful sixteen-year-old cheerleader with skin like the summer sky was hovering by me and asking sweetly, "Is she ok? Is she ok?" while I shush Ayla, clutch awkwardly at covering my gorillas in the mist, and try not to make direct eye-contact with the virgin princess, lest she turn to stone.

This morning, of course, everything was better. How to say it? I am a fertile woman and today as I alighted from my bed like Persephone on the sunlit dawn, reminders of my fertility did pour from my feminine mysteries like the wine dark sea. Noah was gone. My alarm had been sounding silently for just short of an hour and I hobbled down to the bathroom with my hand in my knickers yelling "Get dressed! Get dressed! You're late and I am in danger of spending more time with you hellions than I am required to by law!" "We're gonna miss breakfast!" Ayla howled and burst into tears. "Who needs socks!" I shouted, and dispensed them from a fresh bag. "Why are they called Bobby socks?" said Indy. "They should be called Cindy socks!" "BOBBY IS A GIRLS' NAME TOO!!!" screamed Ayla through her tears, unleashing perhaps a bit more of the feminist fury than I meant to instill in her at the age of 8. Indy went to put on the new shoes that I had bought not 24 hours before at the Target two towns over, and the buckle snapped clean off in her hand. I bent down to help her and my knees popped ominously in the way they've started to do, my Double D's quite cleverly brushing dust bunnies off the floor. Ayla's voice came from down the hall. "Georgia puked on my bed," she said, for some reason triumphant about it, and I? I reached up to my crown and caressed my knowing snakes.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Thunder Road

Today I posted on twitter that my life is very full and very fast right now, but I wanted to come here and say it because all of you, my blogging community, mean so much to me and I'm sorry I have not been around to your internet homes as much as I'd like. I never feel it's necessary for other bloggers to say this, but now I feel driven to say it myself. I am all swept up in the strong current and, for once, am going with the flow.


Today is my birthday. It has fallen into the middle of a dizzyingly busy but very good week. I am excited to tell you about it, but for now I am just going to post a video of Springsteen singing Thunder Road. Because this year was the year I fell in love with Springsteen, and because life at this moment is a rush, an exhilarating ride down a country road with the top down, windblown and sweet-scented, headed towards the sun.

Now I'm gonna go curl my hair and head out for margaritas with some real cute honeys.

Love love.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Anniversary Dear Birthday Memorial Squirrel

It's a big weekend here in Brevard. The weekend of the annual White Squirrel Fest, and the one year to-the-day anniversary of when we first visited North Carolina to see if we wanted to live here. On top of that, today was also Noah's birthday and tomorrow is the last day of school. Noah's family gave him a super new smoker for his birthday and we've spent the last two days smoking meat and drinking beer and sitting in the backyard. We managed to walk downtown to the music festival, where we ate shaved ice and the kids jumped in a castle and the musicians did their bluegrass thing on stage while the sun gave up its ghost to the mountains behind them. Noah did spend most of the day Saturday in the emergency room getting 23 stitches plus 3 or 6 inside (he can't remember) for a laceration on the bottom of his chin suffered when his face met the pavement Friday night. The girls are off the walls, the teachers are surrendered, we parents are wary of the wide stretches of time ahead. My job has gone down to part-time and I found myself again, and can consider myself something besides a worker bee once more. Today while the girls were in school, we sat on couches in the cold hush of a movie theater and watched the new Star Trek movie, sipping beers in celebration of my husband's birthday and my sexism meter only went off a little bit. The lady at the ticket and concessions counter handed me back the two twenties that I'd used to pay her plus the ten dollars change and I did the honest thing and sorted it out. What it says about me that I sort of wish I hadn't, I don't know. This week I will work two days, rest two days, and spend one day in the woods with some friends and their children. If I know my friends, someone will backpack a thermos of sweet tea vodka into our beach beneath the trees, the sandy southern shoals, and we will watch our children splash in the amber river, their hands grabbing for fairies and fish. Balance is restored. If I could ever bother to remember anything, I'd know it will always go this way. Forever and ever, amen.
 (One year ago)

This weekend:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I Will Trade My Bears For Gold

It is the evening after my second day at my new job, my 9 to 5 gig at the library, and I am exhausted in a way I did not know it was possible to be. It has jarred me roughly, this switch of life, and I am in tatters after the full eight hours on my feet, wearing my social face. When I drive home from work I cry because I'm too tired to take care of my daughters and I want to take care of them. After three hours of socialization my eyes glaze over and I can't understand anything anyone says and find it difficult even to make eye contact. Eight hours leaves me collapsed in my bed in the darkness. Twice last week I dreamed of bears.

It is humid here tonight and the air smells like vacation. My feet and legs and brain feel the farthest from vacation I have ever felt, but as I drive home from Target where I had to go to buy the dreaded khaki pants and trainers, work attire, it feels and smells just like the time I went to Florida. My best friend and I flew to the gulf coast for a concert, and after spending the day camping out at the gates to get front row seats, and a few hours screaming our hearts out, we ended up in some joint that memory has left hazy around all the edges. The only clear detail is that I was served the very best cheeseburger I'd ever had, and that we were young women and two young men approached us and we joined them for a night of revelry. We needed a ride back to our motel room and they drove us in their truck, three of us in the back of the flat bed with the aqua-scented, the maybe coconut scented breeze in our hair and that song by Nelly that was big that year playing on the radio. A song that was wistful, that knew it was young. We drove to the liquor store and back to our motel and as the night wore on, a strange thing happened. My best friend was beautiful in an exotic way, a way I could never be, with Mexican chocolate eyes and silky sheets of black hair and cinnamon skin. She was also model-thin, and for years I'd played the shadow to her allure, I had never been the one that was beautiful. But as this night wore on, this night in Florida by the sea, it became clear to us that for the first time in our young lives the men were more attracted to me. It baffled us both. When the time came for such things--not for making love, I did not go so far as that, but the time for making pairs--I was paired off with the  better catch of the two, and I remember catching my friend's eye across the room, both of us in wonder. The world was upside down. I have a picture of me taken that night, somewhere. I'm wearing a white halter top and I am smiling with a confidence I rarely catch on myself in pictures. We were young and in Florida and these boys were kind and I was beautiful and when someone said skinny dip--maybe it was me--and we ran out to the motel pool and climbed the gate that was locked around it, my friend hugged her hands to her chest but I left my bikini top and bottom on the concrete and I jumped full in. We were not yet 21.

I remembered all this as I drove home from buying the damn khaki pants, too tired to even be moved by "Thunder Road". But a woman at my new job has had a dream of me. I waited for her to say bears, but no. She said, you were swathed in gold. A gold, diaphanous dress that was luminous, drenched in light, that flared like a mermaid's tale and on your head was a crown of gold filaments, sparkling in the sun. I will take this for a good omen and anyway, it's a blessing for an exhausted mother of two to drive home in the evening and remember that time in Florida when the air smelled like coconut and her body sliced the water like an innocent and torsional mermaid, a Melusine, a thing that changes shape and is free of shame in her unswathed skin, as if the story of Eve had never been told.

Monday, May 13, 2013

In Which My Husband Is Sweet Unto Me

(with clarification*)

A legend of us is that on one of our first dates, Noah and I were playing cards with some friends at a hipster coffee house in Lodo and at one point Noah looked at me and said "I like my coffee like I like my women: bitter and strong".  Now, folks were so afraid of me in those days that chairs pushed back from the table and the music screeched off and somebody may have broken a bottle over a bar for an impromptu shank, I don't know.

I am happy to have been upgraded to "sexy and strong".

This is some marketing material for Asheville Beer Week and Oskar Blues Tap Takeover at Walk with New Belgium. Anything look familiar?

Vesuvius Golden Ale has been aging in that chardonnay barrel for over a year. Without my knowledge. It's a specialty offering, so it won't be canned, just on tap in Asheville.When I texted Noah that I was surprised they let him name it that, he texted back "Bitch please. I do what I want."

I am pretty excited about this.

Now I have to go clean my house because my book club is coming over tonight to discuss my very own book. The one by me that I'm going to self-publish (but haven't yet)*. It's a big day here. Here's a hint about this book of mine: someone compared it to Tarantino (sorry, Elizabeth) and for themed snacks, I'm serving angel food cake. Angel food cake and Tarantino, what? Could there be a more perfect marriage?

Happy Monday.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

School Dress Codes and Dirty Feminine Flesh

One of the most feminist things I've ever done may have been allowing my daughters to walk shirtless through a nature park. It was about two years ago, to the best of my memory, which will have made them 4 and 6, or 5 and 7. We were walking around a giant man-made lake in the hot summer sun. This is Colorado sun we're talking about here. In Colorado, you are very close to the sun. We were overdressed in jeans and when Noah took off his shirt, the girls both heaved sighs of relief and copied him, whisking off their tops and baring the flesh of their torsos to whatever cooling breeze might come.

I didn't think much about it until we encountered a few other scattered walkers. Then I looked at my six or seven-year-old, a first or second grader, shirtless, and wondered. If we would get stares or even comments. But we didn't. People either smiled or ignored us, passing by. Renewed by the sun and wind on their skin, the girls stopped dragging their heels. They hurried along, kicking at rocks and amassing pocketfulls of acorns and leaves, and eventually we returned to the car, hot and sweaty, and drove them, shirtless, home.

Twice this week I have been told through institutions--the school and the summer care program--that days are approaching when swim suits will be needed. These situations call for distincly different limits for boys and girls. Boys are told to wear swim trunks. Girls are told to wear one piece bathing suits or tank-inis. However, if a girl wishes to wear a bikini--a five or six or seven or eight or nine-year-old girl--she must wear a t-shirt. To cover her body.

So boys are allowed to show their flesh. The entirety of their torsos: shoulders, pecs, nipples, bellies, belly buttons, upper backs, lower backs, all of it. Girls, customarily, don't even need to be told to cover their nipples--of course they will. (Whether I believe they should have to or not). But a girl is not allowed to show this arbitrary strip of flesh from the top of the rib cage to the bottom. This is the area bared by a bikini, this is what they require my daughters to cover.

They must cover it because it isn't considered "modest". It isn't considered to be "modest" because male students and teachers might find it "distracting".

I'm not going to get radical on you and suggest women and girls start going topless. Even though my mom has told me that, as a child, she frequently ran shirtless in the summer. Even though in Asheville, 45 miles away, men are free to bare nipples but a woman who does so faces jail time. And I'm not going to entertain the idea that these rules are for girls own protection. They are not. They are for protection of the male sex-drive, an excuse for boys and men to never have to learn to respect the female body and not, as the above poster says, to over-sexualize it. 

I could write this essay about how troublesome it is that men have been taught so little respect for the female body that even a child's female body is considered somehow sexual, when the truth is a girl's chest is no more inherently sexual than a boy's, and a woman's chest is only sexual because western men have decided it so. I could write about how, with this rule and rules like it, we once again make girls and women responsible for male sexuality. Our culture tends to look down on the burqas of Arabic cultures and consider our school dress codes a different matter entirely. But rules like these are no different from burqas by their intention, only by degree. In Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis", her memoir about growing up in Iran, there is a scene in which she stands up and demands a male teacher explain to her why women must cover their bodies simply because men have decided they are arousing. I could make that same argument at my PTO meeting today, it would make every bit as much sense. It would be just as applicable, and just as relevant, as an argument made by a woman in the 1980's, in Iran.

Imagine if I asked your sons, your brothers and husbands, to cover their legs because I found them sexually arousing and distracting.

My daughters have been aware from a very young age that our society has severe limits on what is acceptable from a female body. (I realized this when my three-year-old Ayla asked me if her legs were "skinny like a pretty girl's") They have told me about a girl at their school who is casually referred to as "Fat Kylie". (There are no boys burdened with a "Fat" before their names, though there are certainly overweight boys) They are growing up in a world that assaults their bodies and their feelings about their bodies with persistent, overwhelming regularity. Here, from their school administrators, they recieve yet another lesson. The lesson that male flesh is free in a way theirs is not. Their body, like their voices, is dangerous and must be stifled. The lesson that there is something inherently wrong with and shameful about their feminine flesh--if there wasn't, why the need to cover it up? It is a subtle message, but clear. Your bodies must be covered because they make men lustful.

Lust is bad.

Your bodies make men be bad.

Your bodies are bad.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mile 140,021

Last night Ayla came to me with tears in her eyes to ask about time and space and the origins of the universe and also, is Santa Claus real? I was sipping a cocktail in the dark and waiting for something to start. I was waiting for a tv show to start in the dark when Ayla came brimming with questions and tears in her eyes that she was trying to hide from me.

I know this is made in a factory, she said, picking up a throw pillow. But see how it's stitched together here and like, someone must have done that. I know these books are made from trees but I don't know where did the first tree came from and all the ones after that and everything is like, made by someone but I don't know where they came from. Some people said that apes turned into humans but I don't know how that's true. And is Santa Claus real, or is he like, real like the Easter bunny? I'm not crying, my eyes just water when I yawn.

(She was trying so hard not to cry, she was smiling through these tears).

Weeks ago, Indy came home from school in one of her moods where she stomps around the house and says things very loudly and with unpredictable emphasis. Usually nonsense things like "WHY are the TORTILLAS in this CUPBOARD?" or "WHERE did my DOLLY put her SHOES?" But this time she came home in a mood and said to me, in a steely way like someone out of True Grit: "Ayla and I found Easter candy wrappers in your closet and we now we KNOW the Easter bunny is you and I DON'T believe in Santa anymore." Her air was of accusation and hard truths, and I stood in the kitchen at three in the afternoon nursing cold coffee and a broken heart. If I could do it again, I would never tell my children these fanciful lies in the first place, but I have, and so here we are. Sunday night after bedtime and Ayla is asking about God and Santa with tears in her eyes and I can't tell if she's crying because Santa might not be real, or beacuse she knows I have lied an am lying to her right now. I raised my cocktail to my lips to buy myself time, to try to find a way to save both our lives.

140,021. Those are the miles on my car today as I drive out of the leafy birth canal of Pisgah forest, the trees a thick canopy, a semi-dark passage bearing me into the mysteries of life and light. The sun has returned after ten days of rain and the trees are green like Crayola. My husband has just asked why I want to move to Los Angeles/Paris/Taos and I have heard stupid reasons fall from my mouth like betraying stones and I have understood them, at last, for a fanciful dream; the kind of fancy I have entertained long past the time when it's seemly. Nevermind, I think. Nevermind. I have driven this red van across Monarch Pass in the snow hoping not to slip and plummet to our icy deaths, along Trail Ridge Road, backbone of the earth, where I saw cars crawling a thin blue line between mountain and sky and knew I was headed to that narrow road at the very crest of the world and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I have sped through the red deserts of Utah and the silver deserts of Nevada, seen Joshua tree at dawn and finally stood in the pacific ocean on a gray morning after Christmas, when the mimosas have been drunk and the champagne is gone. And then one day I got in this van and drove it east, through farmland and plains, crossing rivers wider than mountain valleys to the land where I am now, this earth that is wet and spongy and misty like any unknown feminine place we pass through on our way toward our life.

I don't believe in signs and portents. I might gamble with my life on prayer and instinct, but I wouldn't bet a dime. I don't know what to tell a child about the origins of the universe other than that I just don't know myself, and nobody does, even those who will tell you they do. Imagine yourself by the ocean, under gunmetal light and restless palms. You have experienced the isolation and vast majestic landscapes of the west. You have been wrapped in leaf-shook arms and cradled by the gentle curving comforts of the south. Tell yourself you have been guided, if it helps you sleep. You have tasted these pleasures, each distinct and in their time. Tell yourself that they have touched you in some deep place and that surely they must have worked magic on the rushing river of your soul, magic that is beneficial and will aid you on your way. Even if you lacked the wisdom to see it at the time.

(I took Ayla by the hand. I put her back to sleep)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

At Home in the South

a summary

While my family back in Colorado has been hit with one major snowstorm after another, the south has blossomed like a sweet magnolia, or what I imagine a magnolia would look like in bloom, having never actually seen one. (We've got dogwood and forsythia and wisteria all blossoming, but no maggies yet). We had white flowering trees back in Colorado, but the ones here are more dramatic somehow, fluffy like clouds of whipped cream lining the streets, alternating with fat-blossomed scoops of strawberry. Brevard looks and smells like a frivolous dessert after a long, dark fast and I'm stunned to realize I haven't taken any pictures. I've felt a bit stunned lately.

With the kinder weather, I have remembered everything I loved about this place when we first arrived. The social scene is so vibrant and happening. It's like nobody told these people they live in a sleepy southern town so they party like it's Chelsea in the 60's. Well almost. Chelsea in the 60's with a lot of children running in around in noisy packs. Recently there was a potluck--the best parties here are often potlucks--and after mojito madness and heavy plates of delicious Cuban food, we stood around the fire, the kids determindely snapping off branches of the Christmas tree that was decaying in the back yard and tossing them to the fire with destructive joy. The hostess was one of the first friends I made here last summer, the Baptist from South Carolina who brings sweet tea vodka everywhere and talks as if she's writing a script as she goes along. "Care to step out for some celebrations and libations?" she asked me once. Or, "This snake swam up to lick a sniff." And how can you not love someone who already has herbs growing up in her garden yet still has the Christmas tree in the yard? (I don't think she reads this blog, but just in case, P--you are a treasure).

So already there have been several nights of patios and beers, afternoons of sunshine and iced coffee, dewy warm mornings with gentle humidity and a loud surplus of birds. The cardinals flash crimson against the blue sky, the woodpecker swoops by all black and white in his funny red fez. Bluebirds and something canary yellow and hummingbirds if I'm lucky. They sound all day but are riotous at dawn. If I only had sound to go off, I'd guess I was waking every morning in the Amazon, some thick jungle from an Allende novel where I stand barefoot atop the rich and squelching soil.

Ayla snapped that first picture of me last night. In it I'm cooking the apple-chardonnay sausages that Indy would begin to choke on a few minutes later, sending me flying out of my chair to give her the Heimlich. One moment I noticed she was struggling to breathe and the next I had her in my arms over the toilet, nothing in the whole wide world but the knowledge that I was going to force that meat from my daughter's air pipe, and I did. Something flew out and I said, "Can you breathe?", but she couldn't answer--from coughing, I think, but to be safe I did the thrust again and she puked. She drooled a bit. "You made me throw up," she said in wonder and I stood there, bent over, her back to my heart, cells from her body still swimming around in mine. I held her, quivering all over, steadying the rhythms of our simultaneous breath.

Everything was all right. Thanks to the great generosity of Margi, who writes at May I Have A Word?, I was able to enjoy a massage yesterday. It was much needed; I've been off the computer for a week due to pain shooting down my mouse arm and entire right side. The morning started out cloudy and misty, very Transylvanian indeed as I drove through rolling hills, past tired old horses and beautiful houses all given up, letting twisting vines and grasses claim them back. But by the time the massage was over, the sky broke blue and I sat at a coffee shop drinking my latte on ice and watching the school children in matching P.E. uniforms playing across the street. They were on a wide stretch of private school-green, an unbelievable hue. People were reading in the park, the children were shouting and chasing some puffy, floaty thing around in the sky. Every car that passed had a window down, the same summer-coming breeze in everyone's hair as we planned our meals, picked up coffee, sang out of tune. Everything was all right as you know it is in so much of the world, so much of the time.

*I just found out that those fat scoops of strawberry ice cream trees are, in fact, Magnolias. Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit!*

Friday, April 5, 2013

Post-It To My Soul

(a record of happiness)

Don't worry, sooner or later I'll be home
red-cheeked from the roused wind.

I'll stand in the doorway
stamping my boots and slapping my hands
my shoulders
covered with stars.
-Mary Oliver, Walking Home from Oakhead

*I would have liked to have written a record of happiness but my kids are home on spring break and I

link within

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