Sunday, October 31, 2010


Our family: a flying dragon is sitting on Ben's shoulders (a costume he was originally building for Silas but it ended up weighing more than Silas, so it became Ben's -- marionette wings and a head on strings that turns. I love Ben -- he surprises me).
We trick-or-treated with mini yoda, mini darth vader (dark neighbor), a princess, bumblebee, cowgirl, knight, bee keeper, pink horse, and yellow belt kung fu fighter. And a pony named Rusty. Who, it turns out, bites and is moody (see those feisty eyes?)
but at least carries children well.

Eden wanted to be Ariel the mermaid, but much more important than any dress was a red wig. I think she watched herself in the mirror for 20 straight minutes. Fortunately I took these pictures Oct 30th because inexplicably on Halloween, she abandoned the wig all together.

The pirate has taken Ariel captive. (You can imagine the kind of torment this game led to for days before Halloween, though here you can tell Eden loves it).

Monday, October 25, 2010

More than Catch my Breath

Sometimes I don't realize I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Maybe because my head is cut off.

But this weekend, in the middle of that running, my mom came to town.

My mom makes space. Slows it all down. Helps me find my head. Helps me unpack my suitcase that's been stubbornly sitting on the floor of my room for 3 1/2 weeks (it really had).

It's a little bit like a superpower, her giving space; when she's here tasks suddenly feel possible, and before I know it, I've unpacked, reorganized all the drawers in my room, cleaned out the entire storage closet, piled 5 huge bags for Goodwill by the door, organized my loft, folded all the laundry, carried armloads of coats and sweatshirts from the car, and she and Silas are laughing in the living room. Like I said, it's a superpower she brings, or spell.

There is much more to say about our time together, but my eyes are closing as I type. It's time for sleep -- sleep, I should mention, on new *comfortable* memory foam that we'd wanted for a long time but had never gotten until my mom came and, once again, idea bloomed to action in our hands.

Sometimes we just need another person. Sometimes we just need a mom.
(thank you!!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Power of Posture

This morning was an awful morning. One of the worst. The kind of morning I wish I could erase for all of us. Eden screamed a new high-pitched hysteric scream and wrestled out of her clothes. Silas's need unraveled into whining and finally scream-sobbing. My patience snapped like a twig and fire roared out. The skies poured and rumbled with thunder. Needs were cross-firing and I pulled over mid-drive and got out to cool off.

Finally, 30 minutes late, in rain boots and raincoats, I got Silas to his classroom, I got Eden to the nursery, and I walked into yoga late and unrolled my wrinkled mat. Instantly I was sweating, focusing on balance, on the floor beneath my feet, on the movements between poses, my muscles shaking. About twenty minutes in, we paused in child's pose, body bowed, forehead to the mat, arms extended. The teacher said, "remember your prayer from the beginning of class, your intention; come to that now." I, of course, had missed the beginning of the class and hadn't assigning any sort of purpose to my practice, but as I lay pressed to the floor, and the word sorry rushed in and hot tears ran into my sweaty hairline.

In a few breaths, our faces were lifted to the ceiling again, arms extended, and my mind focused again on moving. But throughout the class, each time we lay against the ground and bowed our foreheads to the floor, my sadness unlocked again.

I've never before accessed emotion through posture, but I wonder what I wouldn't have felt if I had stayed standing on my own feet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


While Silas was just throwing up, in between gags he started crying out: Why? WHy ! WHY?!

Amazing that even a 4 year old asks the question we all ache with when we hurt.

Throw Up (lessons in not-doing)

I am not at Coco's eating pancakes with whipped butter. I am at my kitchen table. I am not on my way to Disneyland, as planned, with family. I am at my kitchen table. We are in throw-up land. The past 4 1/2 years, somehow, throw-up land has been a far off place. But now we know all about going there every 20 minutes til 4 a.m. and every 45 minutes after that. So while Silas lies on the couch watching Toy Story 2, I sit at my kitchen table with coffee, a piece of toast with almond butter, honey and banana, and a glass of water.

What I marveled at throughout the night, besides the persistence of Silas's little body to expunge whatever it's trying to expunge, was, once again, how quickly Ben and I wanted to *fix* it. We tried to name it -- food poisoning? flu? Rota virus? We lay in the dead of night googling symptoms. We looked for pepto bismol under the sink (which clearly wouldn't have stayed down). We tried to plan for today and mentally reorganize it before we even knew what the morning would bring. In between the floating dreams of light sleep and kneeling next to Silas, we tried to figure out how to fix this.

We do have a LOT of information. And a LOT of bottles of pink and purple medicine in the pediatric aisle at the drugstore. And we do feast off of instant-gratification much of our days. So it makes sense, I suppose, that our gut impulse is to get up and DO.

But, of course, there is nothing to do.

So Ben and Eden have left for Coco's and Disneyland, and Silas and I are sitting in our little house, watching and waiting, and not doing.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

To Inscribe Against our Vanishing

Sunday afternoon, on a plane ride from DC, I started Anne Lamott's newest book, Imperfect Birds. I should add here that I adore Anne Lamott and have read nearly everything she's written. But after the first two chapters, I had to close the book and, today, returned it to the library. It's about her character Rosie (whom she's written several books about) in high school, now, toying with cocaine, sex, acid, prescription drugs, love affairs, fitting in; and about Rosie's mom, whose head we maze through as she worries about what she knows, doesn't know, and allows for this girl-woman who is so much a part of her and who exists so completely apart from her. She aches and obsesses. I ached and obsessed as I read, nearly holding my breath. It was all too intense and fear-inducing, imagining my little people flung into the wild world. So I closed the book and picked up a pen instead:

I don't have babies anymore. Looking at Eden the other day in her bed -- Eden who constantly says things like, when I grow and grow and am a woman can I drink that coffee? -- I thought she was Silas, her body so long. And Silas, his lanky legs and boyish face has long since moved on from babyhood all together. We are at the juncture between having babies and real kids. It's a change, and changes tend to wring me out. I daily flip-flop between holding my breath, trying to stand perfectly still and SEE them, and wildly trying to gulp all the air in the room, open every pore to absorb these days -- the way Eden's standing by the piano, her 2-year-old run, the way she wraps her arms snugly around my back and holds on hard, Silas 's muttering as he builds with legos and blasts his creation into space, the sounds of words in his 4 1/2-year-old mouth, the way he can't say his R's, the little blond hairs on his legs.

And since I can't really do either, memorize them in their momentary entirety nor absorb every sensation of today, I find myself, here on the plane flying back to them after three nights away, writing portraits. Describing them is writing a kind of love letter, a kind of photograph, a way of cutting off the movies that start flickering in my head about the future with all of the sparking what-if's, a way, perhaps, both to hold still and to absorb.

This weekend I heard Ed Hirsch, quoting Allen Grossman, say that we write to inscribe something against our vanishing, that the urgency to create is really about leaving a mark and speaking into the future. Ultimately, it is a response to the knowledge -- the unbearable parts of it -- that we will die, to our own mortality. He articulated it beautifully and sitting here holding Silas and Eden in my head, having not touched their little arms and faces for days, I feel it well.


Eden: Daddy, who is on your shirt?
Silas: Darth Thader
Eden: Dark Mater?
Silas: No, Eden, Dark THader.
Eden: No, Dark Mater. Dark Mater.
Silas: Eden, DARK THA-DER.
Eden: Dark Mater. ... Mater is that little tow truck.
Silas: Yeah, Mater -- it's not Dark Mater, it's Dark Neighbor. Dark...? Dad, what is it again?
Ben: Darth Vader
Silas: Yeah, Darth Thader.
Eden: Yeah, Dark Vader.

And everyone was happy.