Showing posts from January, 2013

Cussing about the finite

I am beginning to see a pattern. Thursdays basically are shit days. It's not just the big schlep to motherfucking Orange for violin, nor is it related to any particularity of the week - sick days or busy-ness or what have you. I think that Thursday is just simply the day when all my half-assed illusions of order and control break down, and also when the finite nature of human time, space, and capacity is shown in starkest light. Right? Best laid plans and all of that. Also, I think my demons are more prone to get out of the box at this time of the week. Maybe I haven't been paying enough attention to keeping the lid down on it.

So a body has two choices here -- succumb to the darkness, let the demons run free, give in and give up OR fight back, recalibrate the plan, accept limitations, put the damned demons back in the damned box, and keep going. (Ironic that I wrote that post on Jan 1, and here we are on Jan 31? I think not. I think demon wrangling probably needs to happen o…

Fighting the fog on Z's day

She is 10 today. I remember turning 10. I also remember rubbing lotion into her very long feet when she was a newborn, wondering who she would be -- a circus performer, probably, with those feet -- and promising her everything. I never could have predicted everything she has shown me and all the people she has brought into my life or her intensity of spirit and her need for people. She is and has been pretty  much from day 1 the most social person I have ever known. How much I miss the small person she was and how much I enjoy the big person she is becoming.
I wrapped up a pair of gel heel cups for a present - because she needed them for her soccer cleats so I bought them, so why not wrap them and put them with her "real" presents. Strangely, she seemed genuinely glad to get them. It was the first thing she showed her grandparents when they came over.
Meanwhile, boy still sick, and me wobbling too. Felt like a lost day, and I just had a sick day two weeks ago. Sick days mak…


10 years ago right now, I was naked in a birthing tub in my 16th+ hour of labor on the labor & delivery floor of Macdonald Women's Hospital in Cleveland, OH. In another few hours, I would get out of the tub sometime during 3 hours of intense effort to push out the big, long, healthy girl who would be Z. (Though she wasn't named until the next day.) It would have been an intense time, but having already lost my first child to preeclampsia (yes, this is what killed Sybil on Downton, and it could have killed me. Instead, it just killed my son, Calvin. And if you don't know about it, you should), the effort to give birth to this girl was particularly intense. She was two-weeks past her due date, and we were very eager to see her for the first time alive and well.

It is a cliche to say it, but I don't understand how a whole decade has passed since then.
Today, in 2013, the boy child was home sick with a fever and the blahs but no other distinct symptoms. As he put it,…

Weird imagery and we have a winner ...

No, really. I'm going to do this in 20 minutes. Starting now, at 9:57:30 PM.

What to say about the day?

Mornings alwayshave precisely 34 more minutes of stuff in them than time. O came home very emotional and complaining of a headache. He ended up having a temperature of 100.2.Tiger was the ultimate shoulder cat during dinner prep this evening. He likes to inspect every ingredient -- with eyes and nose. I talk to him like he might understand me.
Reading Moving along with the Nalo Hopkinson, whilst O read Order of the Pheonix and Z practiced violin. (O has been without a chapter book since finishing Big Joke Game, and while I have nothing against his reading the Lego catalog obsessively, I do think a person needs a chapter book. Yesterday, I challenged him during a down moment by saying he had a choice - he could either go clean his room for 20 more minutes, or he could go search for a new chapter book to read. He came downstairs beaming and holding the Harry Potter. As he quickly p…

Now with food porn!

Excellent Sunday full of domesticity. If you follow this blog you will be getting by now that I simultaneously love and resist the domestic. It is something of a theme.

O and I spent a chunk of the afternoon making cookies for the elementary school skating party. I was very low on butter and I don't keep shortening in the house, so I went on a quest for an oil-only cookie recipe, came up with a simple one that we tinkered with (a little more sugar, and the addition of lemon and orange zest, ginger, and a smidgen of nutmeg). They are rolled into ropes and twisted, then iced when they were cooked and cool. We colored the icing electric blue and hot pink. I liked them, and they disappeared from the cookie table. By twisting them, you create segments and crannies that are very pleasing to the tooth. Should I post the recipe?

Reading: Bit of New Moon's Arms

Writing: Diddly procrastination, then working on revising Lee scenes in Tucson. Tough stuff and exciting. Incremental progress.…

And then there's Friaturday ... when I wax metaphysical

I know, I can only use the double-name days so many times, but it's been a long week.

On Friday I attended shabbat services at Fairmount Temple as part of a work effort (encouraging discussion about women's personal experience of abortion, rather than political rhetoric, within the congregation and beyond). It's the second time I've been to services there recently. If you know me, you know I am not a churchgoer - was not raised as one, although as a young elementary school student I went through a period of seeking and went to church with everyone I could get to take me. What I ultimately got from that was that most churches weren't where I wanted to spend my time. But I've never really stopped being a seeker, in my own contrarian, skeptical, and somewhat distracted way.

I was struck during the services by a particular phrase in one of the prayers that says that the day of shabbat is "a piece of eternity." This is such a fascinating concept to me -- …

The schlep

Now is when the discipline of doing this daily becomes a challenge. Thursday night, obligations every single evening this week -- tonight it is doing a double whammy of kids' music lessons, managed solo (with the help of a friend) now that David's rehearsal schedule is heating up. To immediately go on a tangent, it is a testament to the regard in which I hold Z's violin teacher that I am willing to make the drive to her new house. The far eastern suburbs (really "far suburbs" anywhere) fill me with existential malaise.

Had a nice time hanging out with O while Z was transported out to violin with a friend. At the grocery story, in the wine section, he did ask me why we always buy "so much special drinks." I'm not sure I gave a good answer.  His drum lesson was good. Schlepped out to her violin lesson. Schlepped everyone home. O finished his homework while I set up dinner in front of the TV so we could end the evening with a soothing dose of Phineas …

I like to call it Tuednesday ... and I like it balanced

Tuesday was another long day at work, which means another day when my noticing of the world in the way I hope to record here is diminished. It was a good day. I got to meet and hear Loretta Ross (her biography is really pretty amazing).

Wednesday was less long, and also pretty good.

But working long days diminishes my sense of balance. I used to think balance was a state of stasis: you find the balanced position and maintain it rigidly (not balance). Then I thought that balance was like a picture of someone holding a ridiculous number of packages, teetering and tottering under the weight but making the adjustments to keep them all from falling (not balance). I have come to believe that balance is more about picking things up and putting them down, sometimes holding several things at once and teetering a bit, but really more about being more focused with each parcel in turn. Balance happens within a day but also over the course of several ... one hopes.
Reading: At lunch Tuesday, I pic…

The president says Stonewall while I work a lot

"We the people declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth." -- from Obama's second inaugural

Gay rights in the inaugural address!

And in other news ... I worked a 10-hour day, so this my deliberately non-work blog, will be thin.

Reading: No, but I did exercise!

Writing: Wii Fit is not writing, but it does start with the same letter.

Dinner: Had some salad with great sesame dressing and extra raw mushrooms at the board meeting. Then came home and had the yummy Hawaiian pizza David had made. (Monday pizza, week #3.)

Soundtrack: The Wii Fit has dreamy, electronic music to…

Mix tapes and macaroons

Do you know what is shiny? My writers group is shiny. I was worried last year that this group had reached its limit, as writing groups will do, but we rallied ourselves and decide to revise the way we do business and to think about how the group can serve each member's needs more individually. It seems to have worked. They were gentle with me, but also gave me lots of fuel to power this next phase of writing/revision/reshaping. Thanks, friends.

Also shiny, my parenting community. Faced with three impossible kid/work/transport situations this coming week (David is starting outreach tour season Wednesday. Whee! And I kind of become solo parent for a while), I reached out to friends, and I have managed to cover them all. I have trouble asking for help, so this is particularly shiny for me.

Reading: Finished the other submission for group. And more of the outsourcing article.

I desire to be a less desultory reader.

Writing: Revising some scenes in Arizona, and the city of Tucson is ali…

We do not need a war revolution

Strangely long day, which started with Z back to 8:30 a.m. Saturday orchestra rehearsals. Her regular teacher/conductor is on maternity leave, so her replacement was there for the first time. She is very, very French, and is a cellist with an understated sense of humor. They are playing an arrangement of Barber of Seville, which will be very fun.

The day ended with friends we don't see very often, talking loudly about religion, drugs, writing, and urban planning. Marcie was in rare form; funny as hell. We all had trouble deciding to leave, and I am hoping we didn't overstay our welcome.

Reading: Now I'm reading a NYer article about outsourcing yourself. And a submission from someone else for writers group.

And paging through Summer of Love by Gene Anthony, and The Dead Book by Hank Harrison, who was an early roadie/manager/whathaveyou, truth seems unclear, for the Grateful Dead and also Courtney Love's father. I knew this book existed, and I was interested in it for co…

Lost tooth at Severance Hall

All is contained below.

Reading: I put Madeleine's Ghost aside. I imagine I will come back to it, but it isn't compelling me right now. I went to it largely because I wanted to see how he handled the ghost, of which I got some impression, but now the story is far away from that.

I started Nalo Hopkinson's The New Moon's Arms instead. She's a Jamaican-Canadian speculative fiction writer. The book opens with a strong, confident, humorous voice.

Also, more Borrowers, from which I was going to type out a quote here to illustrate why I like her writing so much, but this blog entry is taking too long (no, I don't write them in order) so I will have to wait and find another compelling passage on another day.

Writing: Let's just say I'm taking a little break after the Herculean effort of sending 36 pages to my group. >sigh< Trying to be gentle with myself about this, but I need to get back to it this weekend.

Dinner: Z and I dined at the cafe at the art mus…

Sick Day, with shoes, movies and a special guest blogger!

Woke up puking sick, so my day was spent sleeping with cats, nibbling crackers, browsing shoes online, sleeping, and watching Netflix. Oh, and booking my face.

[Shoe fetish warning. Scroll down for movie mentions and a mini guest blogger post below all wacky footwear.] 

Elena posted these shoes on FB, and they consternated me. 

The post sent me to the website selling them, KarmaLoop, and down a rabbit hole of extreme shoes. I love shoes. And it is interesting how split my reactions to many of the shoes here is. I just frankly don't get the huge platform stripper shoe trend, and I feel old admitting that. (But here's a good take down of the designer and the trends he is imitating.) Wedge sneakers are growing me though, especially in weird ice cream colors. Still so many of the shoes on this site, I wouldn't wear these days, but I am glad to know there are people out there who do. 

After some crackers and a nap, I watched Margin Call because it's about the mortgage-backed s…

Teeth and the value of a golden ring

I went the the dentist today to have my teeth cleaned. Literally "shiny," but not for most people particularly interesting. But I used to be terrible phobic about the dentist. Not just that it made me nervous; it incapacitated me with fear and anxiety. I threw up on my dentist once as a child. I prefered having teeth pulled than filled (not that that was given to me as an option, but when I had 2 teeth pulled for orthodonture, I knew that that would be so much better any day any how).

A few things go into this - trauma and a high tolerance for novocaine, combined with a childhood dentist who, I guess at this stage, didn't particularly know how to help with those things. Anyway, I didn't see a dentist for 15 years because of the phobia, and a lack of funds. After Calvin was stillborn in 2001 and I was very, very sick with preeclampsia, I realized two things 1. I was mortal and I needed to take care of myself, and 2. the worst thing had already happened so there was no…

Her patronus is a fawn in need of mothering

Z and were working on violin practice tonight -- whe is working on the Becker Gavotte in Suzuki Book 3 -- and I asked her what story she wanted to tell with this piece of music, how to break down the mood of each section -- and she told me the story of a "patronus fawn" cautious because it was being watched and then happily running through the forest. In the last section it accidentally trips and falls into a pond and its mommy comes to rescue it. Felt like a gentle but important reminder. She is so smart and self-possessed it is easy lose sight of how much she still wants to be enfolded in care. [I could write a whole essay on my relationship to Z and my thoughts on attachment parenting here.]

Also, David accomplished an amazing freezer purge and cleaning and organizing. It is beautiful to behold, and I made chicken/vegetable stock with the bones and bits that had been accumulating for just this day. (Nevermind that this was prompted by a large influx of Market Day superpro…

Cocky mini post w/o illustration because that would take too long

Very brief. I am up too late, packaging up 36 pages to send to writers group.

Reading: Started the NYer Critic at Large piece about books about 20-somethings. Made me miss my Icelandic friends, laugh out loud, and rethink my ideas about my 20s. Which is something, because my conversation last night for my friend's project have me rethinking my 20s too.

Writing: To paraphrase Jonathan Richman: With gusto! Damn, you bet! As I just told my group, the closer I get to the "real thing" of this book the more I see there is left to do. But I feel more optimistic than I ever have.

Dinner: OMG the pizza I made. Red sauce with garlicky sauteed beet greens, freshly roasted red peppers, and salami. I challenge you to make a better pizza.

Monday night seems to be becoming pizza night. At least we have two down and a freezer full of Alesci's dough bought on special, so I say why the hell not. I wonder what next week's will be.

Soundtrack: Not particularly. Tried some early Beatles …

We call him the Pasha

I think my son had the laziest Sunday morning of his life. We all had lazy mornings, but his was stupendous. O woke up a bit before 8 and crawled into bed with us for a half hour before engaging in a Pokemon video marathon in his underwear. After breakfast, David took Z to her soccer game (she won), and O turned to me and said, "Can we just cuddle for a while?" So we cozied up together, which was fine with me, because I have been operating on a major sleep deficit and relish any opportunity to close my eyes. I dozed for 20 minutes while he lay quietly. When I woke and asked him what he thought about while lazing like that, he said, "My mind is full of all kinds of things."  Then he asked, "Is today a school day?" I told him it wasn't, and he said, "Geez, this weekend feels so-o-o-o long." I told him we were lucky, and I got up to putter in the kitchen. He stayed in bed and read Ninjago books, then twenty-five minutes later called down the st…

Let us celebrate the magpie's nest

I have now blogged daily for a month. I feel this deserves a celebration of some kind. How shall I celebrate? And what is it I am celebrating?  The value of this blog, for me, is threefold, I think. First, it serves like any diary to capture the daily. Already, I can go back and be reminded of things I would have forgotten. And I can begin to trace the patterns in my life.

Second, it is a version of mindfulness practice. The blog takes 20 minutes or so (or more), but the habit of mind infuses my day. Knowing that I will blog helps me to notice what I notice. Notice what you notice is always what I try to teach students when I am teaching. It is the foundation for everything else. The particular headings I have chosen for the blog focus my noticing on the things I want to cultivate or celebrate.

Finally -- is this a contradiction? -- the blog was intended to give space to my broad field of interest and awareness, to be a nest for the magpie of my mind.

Some people are single-minded, an…

Marrow to tofu

Totally exhausted, but ended the week with a date with my dear friend Julie. (We met in prenatal yoga more than 10 years ago, along with two other friends. We are collectively the yogamomz.)

We went to see a play that could have had the working title Domestication of a Sexually Liberated Woman, but that would have been too self aware. 50s-era sex comedy with a vampy witch who ends up swathed in yards of beige at the end. There were parts that were amusing, and the design was pleasing, but ... well, then we went to dinner, and that's where the real fun began.

Reading: Intro to Smitten Kitchen cookbook (fourth of the Xmas cookbooks), based on an uber popular food blog of the same name. Wonder when my blog is going to be so popular that I have to quite my day job to maintain it ... maybe I'll need to change my format.

She is a very different cook than I am, but I am looking forward to her recipes. I'll report back.

Writing: No, but the weekend is soon upon us, and I have an ide…

Lack of routine and a random duck

I was going to leave this until the end of the day Friday and do a two-day entry, but the dailiness of this is starting to get ingrained. I will be brief.

I have never been much of one for routine. In fact, have been mostly anti-routine. And yet, there are small moments in my day that recur on schedule and bring me great pleasure. My first sip of coffee in the morning, my morning writing (when I can get to it, which hasn't been this week) reading in the kids room while they fall asleep, the whole rhythm of the school week.

My work schedule has been non-routine this week, and it is wearing on me -- or maybe that is just what Thursday feels like. But, I am here, with my blarg. I can hold that part down.

Reading: No (lack of routine)
Though O did finish Big Joke Game. This is a milestone, his first real chapter book (as opposed to the short, limited vocabulary early reader books like Amelia Bedelia or thin Star Wars novels) that he read all on his own and with relish.

Writing: No (lack…

Interest bearing

O's last words to me before he went to sleep tonight were, "I really want at interest-bearing account."

Second very long work day in a row. This is challenging my sense of balance, but at least the last hour of it was a meeting with 4 other awesome, smart -- and very stylish, I might add -- women. And rye Old Fashioneds with my friend Barry, who lives in California but whose girlfriend lives a half a mile from me (two body problem). We met as precocious 16-year-olds, starting college and dissecting Aristotle. I was terribly shocking to him way back then. Now, we get to see each other a few times a year to drink and parse our various intellectual obsessions.

Reading: In Madeleine's Ghost, I am reading a section set in New Orleans. A significant scene is set in the courtyard at the Napoleon House -- it's an illicit tryst and they are meeting in the Quarter because none of the people they know will be drinking there. Instead, it is "businessmen on convention, an…

What is it about 3 a.m.?

I got 4 hours of sleep on Monday night, so that was not shiny.

Why is it that when I wake at night and can't get back to sleep I always wake at 3 a.m.? What is it about 3 a.m.?

And, David Bowie has a new single! (Watch it below!)

In the sleepless morning this fascinating piece from an online series on anxiety from the NYT:

In the evening, ZandO and I sat together and read for an hour - first draped over furniture in the living room, then with them tucked into their bunks and me in the rocking chair. I remain simultaneously admiring and slightly skeptical of Madeleine's Ghost. Z finished (!!!) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and O is reading The Big Joke Game, which he got for Christmas. It's a book David loved as a child - about a kid who loves practical jokes and gets caught in a land called Limbo, where he has to solve puzzles to survive.

Neither of them wanted to stop reading. I let Z stay up…

Collage with pancetta and woodpecker

Z continues her family collage project. It is a truly epic undertaking that she works on just a little at a time, joyfully and with great concentration. She is so deliberate and specific in the choices she makes about, and I have no idea what motivates them. There is a whole sort of granddaughter of Wharhol advertising image aspect going on that I find truly fascinating. Tonight she had me cutting star and bird ornaments out of the Pottery Barn catalog for her so she could fashion them into a halo for herself ... and a belt buckle for me.

A bit about Danish TV in the New Yorker, some of Earth to Table (see below), and a few more pages of Madeleine's Ghost.

I wish I read faster.

No. This morning during my writing time I did pre-work work.

Mmm. Acorn squash, pancetta, and sage pizza from Earth to Table by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann. (Acorn squash from City Fresh, pancetta and dough from Alesci's, sage from a jar -- I used to grow sage but my sage …

Remember when it was far away in the future?

Winter break ends today. Remember when it was far away in the future?

I went in to work for a few hours this afternoon, to play catch up and get ready for my new "associate," who starts tomorrow. But mostly the day was spent getting organized for kids back in school and David commuting to Elyria for the week, which included planning menus, writing, and watching O's last soccer game of the season.

A bit Madeleine's Ghost before bed.

Cookbooks, of which we got 4 for Christmas - more on this later.

I have finished 13 heavily revised or brand new "dragon pages" since Wednesday. I had wanted to have 30. That was, perhaps, overly ambitious. 13 dragons are better than none -- that's what my rational mind is telling me to say. The goblins are really rattling the box right now, though. [reference this previous post for more on goblins]

I made my veggie-might sauce (not to be confused with "vegemite," the Australian yeast paste…

Mapmaking and the Unkown

The funk holds on, terrible insomnia, but I try to make the best of the day. O had three sporting events. Z in a whirlwind of seeing non-school friends before school begins. David and trying to forge order out of chaos. Me trying to maintain momentum on the ToT.

The "Writer's Block" chapter from Bird by Bird, and the essay on "learn from the masters" in this great set of cards and book I have.

It's called The Observation Deck by Naomi Epel. There's a small book, kind of the size and feel of hand-sized moleskine, and deck of oversized cards that have a pleasing matte surface and feature phrases like "open a drawer," "write a letter," or "ribe tuchus (sit still)." You can use the cards on their own as a random prompt for writing or meditation, or you can go to the associated essay in a book, which will elaborate on the idea with quotes from writers, lessons in craft, prompts for writing or editing, on so forth. I'…