Monday, December 31, 2007

On the other side of Chistmas

Home again in Southern California where the cold cloudy morning burned off into a sunny beautiful day. After a VERY long visit to the doctor's office (during which we left and ate at IN N OUT and then came back to wait longer still), we now know that Silas has bronchitis just like his cousins. Bummer, but hooray for antibiotics.

Today is New Year's Eve. I usually do little reflection on the past year until a week or so after New Years when Ben and I write in our Yearly Journal (this is one of my very favorite traditions -- thank you Cary Umhau -- email me if you want to know more!). And as for new year's resolutions, I usually don't make them at all (Ben will just laugh if I tell him I am going to join anything else -- gym, yoga studio, art studio etc) or pretend not to and make "private resolutions" -- resolutions that no one else knows about so there is no accountability or judgment.

This year, however, I had a glorious entire day to myself just in time for a wee bit of reflection on the days past and the ones to come. Ben and I both left DC yesterday but on different flights, so Ben took Silas and left me lightly laden with hours of sky time to nap, read magazines, start a novel, write letters on my airport-bought Crane's stationary, and write in my journal -- unheard of!!

So, at the end of my 8 hour day, here are some resolutions that I came up with (that seem practical enough to implement which is why I dare say them out loud, though now that I'm looking at them, there are a lot):

-set up a babysitter for 5 hours a week -- one morning and one afternoon

-wake up for 6AM writing at least a few times a week (or make it happen some other time of day, though less likely)

-have a date with Ben, out or at home, at least every other week if not every week -- the key is that our time has to be planned

-be faithful to a spiritual practice daily. This resolution seems least helpful because of the vagueness, but the lack of rigidity may work in my favor (?) -- to light a candle and pray for 10 minutes, to read for 10 minutes, to sit for 10 minutes, to draw a mandala, journal madly about anxieties, to do something to connect me with God and my inner world consistently. The first 10 minutes of Silas's nap may be a good time for this...

-to try to listen/breathe/receive people when I'm feeling on edge/uncomfortable rather than talk and say something I'll regret

-work on not being negative/bitchy (esp in side comments and commentary to Ben)

-buy a bedspread

-have the living room painted (what color?)

-magically transform house into spa-like zen center before the baby comes in June

-find a place to put the baby when she comes (we think she's a she)

-plan some girls' nights

-go away just with Ben for a night, weekend, month (ahhh)

-reduce the insane amount of trash my house produces, maybe even suck it up and find a thorough recycling center and join the 21st century (which Orange County presumably is not a part of)

-make some aggressive efforts to save money -- it's been a while and it's time!

-and lastly, get physical, be active, go outside, go (a friendly goal -- no mileage, time allotment, number of days per week, memberships)

Happy 2008*

Sunday, December 16, 2007

messy christmas shmissmas sickness

It has been a week and three days since the stomach flu plague struck our house. Silas moved in and out of it for days, then we breathed into a short respite during which we thought we were done, and then , following a lovely sushi lunch, I started. What was to be a crowded busy weekend -- Cirque du Soleil show, an art journal workshop, riding the train with Silas at Fairview park, a Christmas party at our house, a concert in LA to celebrate Bowis's engagement (!!) -- has turned into a weekend of lying around and little else.

Some years are like this, I suppose. And I have to say that despite the frustration of not feeling *well* (how does Cindy do this all the time??), of not gallivanting with Eli and Hollie, nor cooking them delicious meals food, nor eating plates of cheese and crackers, bruschetta, and meatballs (not to mention the unmade eggnog), there has been a certain relief in being forced to slow down and pretty much stop:

I tutored over the phone.  I heaped some clothes on a chair that I will (or won't) try on to see if they fit and I can wear them in DC.  I looked over Ben's shoulder as he Christmas shopped online. I looked out the window with Silas and watched Ben trim trees with a pole saw. I roasted parsnips and potatoes for dinner (this was during an energy burst when I was sure I was better), looked at all the other party food I bought, and closed the fridge. I read some of Elizabeth Alexander's poetry

And I had to sit with the fact that somewhere over the last six years, I lost (or misplaced) the ability to be quiet and still. Instead I have become a doer -- a mad doer sometimes! which can get out of town especially this time of year.  

So here I am despite myself, lounging in bed, listening to Silas across the hall refuse to nap yelling for "ma-MA!" and for my mom who is across the country.  The message behind the door of my advent calendar today said "pause."  Go figure.  I will try.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Today I am 12 weeks pregnant, and I hoped to wake up with the spell of gagging, burping, general nausea, and gloom magically broken, replaced by a burst of energy and a singing leap into the second trimester of energy, wonder and well-being. Instead, I woke up groggy and hungry at 5:35 and by 10AM had eaten 3 breakfasts...

During brunch with some friends (breakfast #3), I felt my eyes glaze over and all social graces evaporate as I watched conversation tumble around the table. Then for some reason, after swiftly exiting with wrestling son, dirty pie plate, and cellophane-wrapped gifts piled in my arms, I decided the thin moment before lunch and nap was an opportune time to pick up the Christmas cards we still needed. Where do these decisions come from? By the time we were home, even my bones were tired.

I fed Silas, barely carried him up to nap practically dumping him in his crib, and napped myself in the narrow, dusty loft, where I woke slightly sweaty and too soon, with a chattery mind and restlessness that kept me from sleeping again.

I am surprised to feel the pull of two children already: the lime-sized demander in my belly who is some energy vortex sucking up every reserve I have, and Silas, the talking discoverer, who wants more than ever to be held, carried, played with, and who seems most certainly to sense my exhausted withdraw. What will life be like come July, when the lime has a mouth??

The grace in my day is that Amy has shingles! (sorry, Ames) which means that she is home from work at the hospital and could help me anchor a semblance of sanity this afternoon during the witching hours. We successfully dodged the man and his 13 and 16 year old sons (a family that still practices the art of apprenticeship and family business) who are resurfacing our complex decking VERY SLOWLY and POORLY (why, oh why, are we on the Home Owners board in charge of these projects??) and went out for an afternoon philly cheese steak and diet coke. (She is pregnant too).

And so, we shall see what tomorrow brings... Off to dinner #2.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

6 AM

It is 6AM and I am trying my first write-at-6:00 regiment. Miraculously Silas, who woke at 6, is quiet in his bed now. Toni Morrison used to write in the mornings before her kids woke up; she called it “writing into the light.” That phrasing makes facing a dark, cold house more appealing.

Last Sunday I drove up to Santa Monica and met two friends from college. One I hadn’t seen for 6 years and the other for 3. You never know how these reunions will go – friends I had once lived such intertwined lives with but whom I’ve had almost no contact with since. But there we were, so many years later, walking in Santa Monica of all places, not our predictable reunion spot post-Atlanta, feeling familiar. Most striking was that in all the familiarity of mannerisms and stories, there was something markedly different -- we were now women. As we had bustled through college with all the brimming emotions and wants, we had gripped questions, strung with insecurities, about who we were. But this weekend I saw that we’d spent the last years finding our edges, realizing our selves more, exploring work we love, solidifying. That may sound a bit overstated, but watching Saralyn talk, even her face looked changed wearing such a confidence.

While standing in the sun with her one-year-old, Kara Jane, Eli asked me about my writing. I felt myself shift weight from one foot to the other as I wound through my answer, mentioning a stubborn manuscript that won’t grow, relentless rejections, being in a “new season,” and heard myself finally conclude: “so I’m not really writing at the moment.” She looked into my face with bent eyebrows: “And you’re really OK with that?” “Yeah, I really am. It just makes sense right now…”

But she, who hasn’t seen me for more years than we spent together in college, still knows how to see through me and push just enough with one more question. So here I am, starting in a small way, greeting the keyboard at 6AM.

(thanks, Eli)