Friday, January 18, 2008


Maybe it began with eat pray love and her descriptions of the pizza in Naples, maybe it has to do with being pregnant, or the winds that recently blew through southern california, or sheer boredom, but for the last two weeks, I have wanted to EAT. Not just snack, but eat. And I am not talking about a boneless, skinless chicken breast or frozen yogurt eating but a rich creamy chocolate ice cream, homemade macaroni and cheese, and whole milk-in-my-cereal kind of eating.

So, as of this week I have a new food philosophy. I've decided that instead of resisting these fatty demands as my conscience and culture well advise, I will cater to them. I will whip up a big steak and cheese sub, put lots of butter in my grits, eat white-flour pasta with butter and parmesan for lunch. The hope is that once I give in, these cravings will run their course. (Yes, do tell me if this strikes you as outlandish wishful thinking).

Part of this hungering -- if we could give it so much credit as to call it hungering -- I think has to do with wanting real and rich ingredients rather than the quick and less satisfying ones I often settle for when cooking. So last night I broke out Bon Apetit and Barefoot Contessa (which is what I would like to name my daughter, the whole thing, Barefoot Contessa, if it made any sense to name someone Barefoot -- what a perfect name) and made pork medallions with lemon caper sauce for dinner, a potato basil fritatta for breakfast, and later wandered over to Stater Bros and bought some more Ben and Jerry's.

I can't tell you yet whether all of this has hit the spot, but maybe at the very least it will usher me into better cooking. In the meantime, I will rejoice at the first forkfull of chocolate goodness from Alta (c/o Andrea -- thank you!) and try to listen closely enough to my body to stop when it says full...

Cheers to the Fatkins Diet (as Ben has fondly named it)!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

back to reality

It's good to have people in your life who bring you back to earth, who remind you that your shoes are standing on concrete and that sweet life is moving in front of your eyes even more vividly than it's racing through your head. Annemarie is one of those.

She, a couple other friends and I have been reading eat pray love, which has, of course, sparked many fantasies about our childless, city-winding, island-exploring parallel lives. Gazing at my "other lives" for too long is one thing that can turn my days a dull graphite grey.

Today, though, Annemarie sent this and, once again, I live in Costa Mesa (where there is sunlight and Spring-green peeking out on the hills):

since i have shared the kid-free fantasy with you all, i should also share the kid-present reality...which was that last night i went up to feed claire around 10, and after she ate she just fell asleep on my shoulder. she was so warm and cuddly and smelled like baby soap and milk and i just sat there and thought my heart was going to explode listening to her breathe.
this was after an evening where maddie and i spent an hour (after claire went down) making bead necklaces by the fire, in which she looked at me and said "it's fun to have the fire on" and then "you know what? i love you"

SOOOO. despite the lack of sleep and the lack of world traveling, I do want the life I have. and I don't think i actually would have enjoyed an ashram. I felt God as clearly as any "blue light" in that rocking chair last night.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


This afternoon, emerging from eat pray love, I was pretty sure I had been transformed and finally enlightened and would forever after be able to detach from the circumstantial, the daily and the difficult and to resign in the unmoving hub of God's grace and presence, firmly planted in the true self. Talk about living vicariously. Somehow reading Gilbert's instant changes (instant being over an agonizing disciplined 4 months), complete with the ability to let emotional muck slide off her back and to sense blue spiritual energy zinging up her spine while she meditated, made me feel like I too had radically awakened. Or at least that I would by the time I went to bed.

I have one relationship in my life that insists on being an especially trying one -- relentlessly so. I thought of it immediately when I read the following passage: "If something is rubbing so hard against you, you can be sure it's working on you... It burns away the ego, turns you into pure ash. It's supposed to be arduous..." (ch 52)

I know this relationship for me, like "the Geet" for Gilbert, exists in my life to kick my ass, to bore holes through my smugness and pride, to stretch me until I almost rip, to make me lose my sense of North over and over, and ultimately to help me find it again with more certainty and truth than ever before.

I have learned, slowly, that the pains of this relationship really have to do with me, my own reactivity, fears, control issues, and that that those are the parts that I have to (and hate to) work on... So today, operating from my new contemplative-enlightened state, I meditated in the loft, among boxes of Christmas stuff, sitting on the floor, freshly inspired by Gilbert's success.

In real life, I do not meditate. In fact, despite growing up in a Quaker school (where, let's be honest, Quaker meetings had nothing remotely to do with meditation or even quiet for that matter), my whole body usually rebels against it: my mind squirrels around racing, chattering, digging for excuses to leave; my body starts feeling creaky --back hurts, knees ache, neck feels stiff; and negative talk permeates the quiet with its assortment of whispery doubts.

But TODAY, determined and open, I found that I actually stayed put, that my body sat quietly (except for a weird throbbing in my right wrist that I kept expecting to receive a God-given message about but didn't ) and even my mind held no violent rebellions. Instead I perched calmly, weaving between my mantra come and my bouncing thoughts -- Ashrams, details of childbirth, the few friends I know who meditate, plans for a salami sandwich downstairs...

By the end of my 10 minutes, I was so proud of myself -- a sure fire sign that I had not transcended, blaringly confirmed later that evening when I talked to my difficult friend on the phone and lost my cool and all patience within the first 30 seconds and never regained it. *sigh*

So it turns out - surprise, surprise - that I have a ways to go still. Quite a ways. And it seems like 4 months cleansing and facing myself and my God in an Ashram in India would be a great way to start (though I think I'd actually find it ironically anxiety-producing, but isn't that part of the journey?). Or even living in a retreat community here with a spiritual director who would push me to inner depths and honesty would do wonders. Even for 1 month. But I see no way for either to happen in the next... oh, couple decades. So, something will have to give and come to life here in the loft with the dusty breeze and hush of traffic slipping in through the vents.

In the last couple of hours the Santa Ana winds have kicked up and are now howling at the skylights and tearing through the trees, littering the ground with the leaves and weak branches that refused to fall on their own. Maybe that's what I need too -- a raging Santa Ana that will knock me down, blow straight through me and clean me out.

Body, Baby, Bulges

I am startled by this newfound round belly. When I was pregnant with Silas, the entire process was miraculous, mystical, magical -- the way my skin grew taught and body stretched unimaginably, the way this forming child, cute and curled, caused my whole body to defy gravity and balance. I watched the changes, riveted, disbelieving, delighted.

And then one day, out he came, and my body promptly forgot the brief time it had transformed into a sacred greenhouse, quite forgot the sensations of his moving just below the muscle, poking at the ribs, his constant presence. Before I knew it, I simply settled back into my self, slightly altered but much the same.

The experience was so complete, so beautifully contained, and concluded with such a blinding grand finale burst of a baby at the end, that it's hard to imagine I could possibly go through it or have such an experience again. When a good magician performs a trick that blows your mind, he won't show it to you second time. Yet inexplicably, here I am. (I know that being here is actually quite explicable, but regardless of any science involved, I can't quite absorb it).

This time around, the changes are happening surreptitiously. In this midst of Silas's and my daily testing each other's limits, playing at the park, digging in the sand, in the midst of making wedding invitations, working on my marriage, gulping down books, discovering my own rough edges, scheduling doctors' appointments, ceaselessly wiping noses (Silas's and mine, thanks pregnancy), I glimpse a half-volleyball-stomach and huge breasts in the mirror and realize, oh, pregnancy, this is my body again, and then can't quite connect with the familiarity of "again."

When I was pregnant the first time I felt I had some role in the transformation: all of the hours I sat with laser-attention bent on my middle must have willed the child to grow. But this time, the baby seems to be holding down the fort herself and even plotting sneak attacks. She is 5 1/2 inches long, apparently the length of your average bell pepper, and just this week has begun poking me. Perhaps this is her attempt to startle me into the belief that indeed she is the one in there, not just countless bowls of cereal, a little girl who has popped out my bellybutton and is letting me know that in no time, she will change me forever...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Day of Mourning

Well, it looks like sheets have about a 7 year life (though somehow my mother still owns sheets that were my grandmother's decades ago -- how is that possible?) Many of ours are now threadbare or tearing, the cotton washed so soft that they tear a bit more each time we stretch them over the mattress. Throwing them out will be just as heart-breaking as getting rid of a perfect pair of jeans that now have undeniably gaping holes in the knees. To add insult to injury, after searching two days in a row on google, it appears that these sheets I love are now impossible to buy because for some ungodly reason they've been discontinued. And so I will bring a spool of thread and a needle downstairs with me and see if I can possibly save them, even for another month.

Crystal Cove Cottage Pictures

Dawn looking out our kitchen window down the coast.
our room and Silas "smiling"

on the last day, mandy, phill and ruby came to hang out with us on the beach and ended up staying in our cottage that night in a free room!
(turns out in the winter there are lots of last minute cancellations)

Heavenly to live on that beach I love for a few days and to hear the ocean all night long
against the buzz of our little space heater. The first night I heard Silas at 3 in the morning saying "Whshoooo whshooo" to himself in his bed -- the sound of the sea.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sunday Sunday

It is Sunday afternoon. Ben is in the ocean. Silas is sitting in his bed doing I'm not sure what. He woke from his nap crying and when I went in he frantically said, "bye bye Mama," so I am giving him a little time...

Ben and I saw two good movies this week, both a pleasure to watch, rich in nuances of real life and the complexities of relationships: "Once" is a film about a street musician and a Czech immigrant in their 20's/3o's trying to make their way in Dublin, who converge and become friends. The dialogue is natural and the film laced with good music. Check out the soundtrack too. And in "Two Weeks," Sally Field plays a mother who is living her final two weeks dying of cancer, whose 4 grown children have come home each entangled in his & her own separate life, own separate grief and coping mechanisms, clumsy yet familiar with each other, and suddenly living together again under one roof.

This afternoon, Ben and I will head to a Crystal Cove Cottages where we will rent a room in one of the cottages that we reserved 7 months ago... It will be an adventure since much is unknown: will their be bedding? room for a pack n' play? heat? will Silas sleep there? will the other people staying in the house wake up if Silas cries in the night (that's a pretty easy one -- yes)? will they be angry or kind people? At the very least we will be down on the water at my very favorite beach getting to live beside the rhythm of the tides for a few days. . .