Friday, September 30, 2016

Back to the Future Backfire

When Silas was four, I wouldn't let him watch all of the Thomas the Train episodes because the trains often were too worried or scared and -- you know -- the emotional intensity.

> enter third child <

Last Friday night I decided it was FINALLY time to watch Back to the Future for movie night -- I've been waiting forever.  Ordinarily, I check Common Sense Media , but I know Back to the Future and doing the math figured I'd certainly watched it multiple times by their ages.
(not perfect math).

Fact: I haven't actually seen the movie in decades and my memories of it are only beyond awesome (minus the Biff-in-the-car scene at the dance, which, planning ahead, I'd thought would present a great opportunity to talk about saying no as a woman and not waiting for a man to come to the rescue.  By the way -- it doesn't present that opportunity).

So we all settled on the couch with bowls of popcorn and a neighbor, even Maeve was squeezed in with us to watch the movie we'd talked about for so long and that Ben and I had dressed up as last Halloween:


(we are the Delorean if you can't tell, with our doors opened)

Let's be clear, the flux capacitor, the story line, the life preserver, "Calvin Klein" and the skateboarding are beyond excellent.  And then there's the language.  Who remembers the language?  Turns out there's a lot of it -- pretty much every few sentences.  At one point, Maeve paused and in a loud voice, with perfect annunciation, asked:
what did he say?  It sounded like BUTT.  HEAD.
Silas squeezed my arm so hard and later asked me,
Mom, why didn't you put her to bed?
(vaguely) I did before it was over, didn't I? 
NO.  She watched the WHOLE things.  Why didn't you take her out?
Silas... I have no idea!  It must have been because I didn't want to miss any of the movie.

You're weird, mom.

I also failed to think through how the unprecedented violence of Doc getting shot with an uzi, the angry shooting terrorists (that carry a different weight these days) or the impact of the car scene, which I did. not. fast.forward. for. no. apparent. reason. would affect my older daughter in particular.

SO, all in all it wasn't my best choice for movie night.  Not to mention that every time my kids see a VW bus (which now is ALL the time), they yell Look!  A terrorist van!!
I have tried to shut this down...

Friday, September 23, 2016

Seasons and how the body talks

I just listened to a podcast (twice) about seasons.  It's worth a listen.

He starts by talking about how we're disconnected from the natural rhythm of light and lightlessness, seasons -- all of the natural world's limitations.  When it's dark, we flip the light switch.  When it's hot, we blast the AC.  We can have it all without too much disruption.

So when there is no light or we do feel cold or it is not the season for peaches, we feel a sense of outrage or injustice (and go to Whole Foods and buy some winter peaches from South America).

Emotionally this is true, also.  I expect  >>pleasantness<<  as a general state.  Not necessary ease, but --- yeah, probably ease -- or at least inconveniences that I can quickly resolve.

Even though the more I live, the more I see how mythical this "norm" is -- my friend's 9 day old's battling with open heart surgery right this minute -- and rationally disregard it, deep down, I still cling to that expectation.

I don't want to feel uncomfortable.
I don't want to be off balance.
I don't want to stand with one season ended (abruptly) and another not yet given shape.
I don't want darkness without the switch to the overhead light.

But here I am.

Last September I unexpectedly plunged into sadness about school starting, and the gloom hung on for a long time.  For weeks I fought it -- This is just normal rhythm -- kids go to school.  Shake it off and move on.  They grow up.  Your job is to let them go -- get over it.  And even with my "pep talks" (judgment), I couldn't sleep, my back ached, my stomach hurt -- low grade discomfort for "no good reason."  Bell talks about how when we don't let ourselves feel, transitions lodge their losses in our bodies, and the grief (whether we think it's "valid" or not) comes out one way or another.

My body is doing a lot of talking right now.  Not just the insatiable craving for bowls of comfort-food-cereal every night:

-This morning Eden found my keys in the lock of the front door where they'd hung all night for anyone who might want to come in
-I forgot Maeve's school lunch -- twice, though it was packed
-I drove Silas and walked him in to an art class that actually starts in October
-Many craigstlist guffaws including driving all the way to a person's house who was selling something entirely different than I'd thought.
- I parked my car several times and left it running (and it's not a silent prius)
-Not even worth going into the mixed up texts I sent to a poor college student who was (and I do say was) a possible babysitter
on and on...

And my dreams have been wild.  Many take place in my childhood neighborhood.  In a matter of seconds I am 14, 20, a newlywed, a mother.  Ben's mother, who died six years ago, has made two appearances.  I've dreamt entire movies full of strangers.

Though I have -- thank God -- good friends and company here who are softening the transition, apparently a large part of my brain is preoccupied and reckoning with identity and all that's in between: the liminal space, once again.

 I wrote about the liminal on the plane ride here and was surprised to find Bell address it also.

liminal: occupying a position at, or on both sides of, of a boundary or threshold.

Yesterday our natural season changed from summer to autumn.  Here in CA, nothing visible happened, as I know nothing visible happened in DC either, or much of anywhere.  But the season shifted nonetheless, and imperceptibly, the physical world will follow until we're squarely in fall.  I'm hoping for the courage to stay standing with feet on both sides of the threshold until both seasons come into focus.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Month One

What may be most indicative of life as I blog (or don't), are the silences.  Here it has been 21 days since I last wrote and nearly a month since we climbed aboard American Air and flew here to live.

We lived the hotel life.
We glamped for a week in an empty house full of neighbors' blankets and aerobeds.
We were surprised by how good it was to be within the walls of our own house, even with cricked necks and only four plastic spoons we kept washing, and even still, when we laid first day of school outfits on the bare floors.  I don't think I would have been so ready for the truck or the work of settling without that bare week.  And I was ready.

But the work!  Settling, unpacking, organizing, building (Ben has ben building), and still, things are only almost-there.  There are several piles that I cannot make budge; there's just no place to put the cords, the old tape recorder, the library book from the DC library that's overdue, the magnets (no magnetic surfaces) or all the printed photographs.

I half wonder why on earth we own things.  There's something beyond wise (and that also makes me feel homesick...) in the ancient bedouin lifestyle.
We are so encumbered by the junk we lug with us and insist on keeping and carrying.
And yet, each of the things is imbued with meaning, memory, or beauty and we like nesting with them.  But really...

It took me two weeks of being here before I woke up teary and missing family.
It took 18 days before I opened my journal and forced myself to name "feeling words."

It's strange, like so many periods of life are, to be brimming with such internal dichotomy: on the one hand *happiness* to be back here in this sunny, salt-smelling beauty, with friends we love in a life we'd firmly said goodbye to and suddenly have back (also quite unreal).  On the other hand, we are far from home, cousins, and all the expectations our year held.

I'm wondering how to be true to feeling both full and gutted at the same time -- is it a choice, which we focus on?  Is it denial to charge past the sadness?  Is it wallowing to breathe it in?  The other night, my friend Danny reminded me there has to be room for it all -- to allow whatever the moment holds.  Apparently this is hard for me beyond the concept.

September has begun and here in the middle, all the kids sniffling and sneezing with fresh colds.  Maeve's had a fever -- again -- for days, and I, since the moment we left home, continue to teeter right on the brink of well, pounding vitamin C.   This steady care taking has added to the (gift of?) dullness that's glazed over all the feelings.

This morning, sick-ish Maeve and I have made a batch of mediocre gluten free chocolate chip cookies (yet another attempt to feed the deep and hungry in me that won't be sated with food), and now I've sent Maeve to watch Octonauts, so I can finish spray painting a doll bed for her birthday tomorrow and write here.  Between coats of pale pink paint (now all over my hands and the grass), I'm sitting here with the computer on my lap and a stack of papers from back to school night that all require either reflective thinking about a child or check writing, neither of which I feel like doing.

Maeve just started school, so soon -- soon! -- I will move into a bit of rhythm.  Until then -- on y va!