Lourdes Mint's Mid-Life Miracle

Real-time memoir of the coming year (5/20/14 – 15) and the achievement of a life-long dream

Archive for the category “Parenting/family”

Here’s to doing something tiny, today!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tiny/

“One could almost believe that one day is just like another. But some have something a little more. Nothing much. Just a small thing. Tiny.” ~from Little Bird, by Germano Zullo

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A close friend of mine gave me this book when our first potential adoption fell through. On the day the baby was born, we were on our way to the hospital when the social worker called to tell us the parents had changed their minds. We went home and decided we would not renew our home study again. We had renewed twice already and suffered through several disappointments, this last one the worst, and we were done. We had a beautiful family already and weren’t getting any younger, we told the adoption agency. I hit the “reset” button in my life, began this blog (among other things), and rededicated myself to making writing a priority. A little over two months later, and just a few months before our home study expired, Mariel was born and everything changed.

She was so tiny, but we could already see in her, the strong and beautiful little girl she has become. Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, but these last couple of years have not been big writing years for me. We have been very busy here, busy with family and with moving house and all that comes with those things. And I feel like I am only now beginning to dig my way out.

Compared to what I have to do, ALL THESE THINGS I feel I have to do, all I can do today is something tiny. And I’m doing it. It may not be much, but it’s a start … or mainly, rather, a continuation of things started long ago. I think there’s an important difference there.

Continuing is not as fun and fresh and punchy as having A BRAND NEW START because, for one thing, it’s more complicated. I cannot, at almost 50 years old, simply write off all of those things I’ve wanted and pursued over the years. I know a few at least are genuine reflections of my most authentic self, not just my younger or less-experienced self. Continuing now, picking up where I left off, validates my past efforts even if they didn’t lead to tangible achievements. It is messy and murky work, and every little thing I do, even this post, feels tiny compared to where I want to be in relation to my hopes and dreams. But I have to proceed as though I believe, with all my heart, that the tiny things will add up. So here’s to doing something tiny, today!

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There is always “burn” here now.

Pretty+Flames+2-7-2007+3-36-23+PM+2816x2112There is always “burn” here now.

Door knobs burn in my hand as I turn them, so I leave the inside ones open. Even the floor burns the bottoms of my feet, so: shoes, but they burn also. These words too, all words, whether I think or say or read them, they all burn now. Sometimes./

To hear them, these ones here, spoken aloud in this room today — w/ no one aside from me listening, no music playing, nothing baking — to hear them without burning, what I would give for that! To be back there, here but back then, in my dream of life again, where it was plenty warm enough, what I would give./

There were times I’d think I must have come from there to here through someplace really cold. I’d think, could I have died that day? That day I “wakened” to the smell of all my pies burning and you knocking as loud as you could on the door. “What’s burning? Are you okay? What’s going on with your hair?”/

We threw the pies into the garden, laughing. You cut my hair in the kitchen to help fix me back up as we aired the place out. “What happened, though? Did you fall asleep? Since when do you bake pies and for what?” I opened you some wine and we spent the rest of the day together./

But I watched the pies slowly disappear alone. It took weeks and then one downpour finally carried the rest away./

Today, I know I came through someplace really cold to get here. Why else, how else, could touching these now — these plastic keys — burn me so? So that the plainest words/thoughts, uttered as plainly as I can manage, are birds barely escaping a flame and then at the very last second returning or just stopping, letting it happen, letting it wrap them and hold them in its hot hands until they turn to ash?/

There is always “burn” here, but I’ve begun to wonder if it might be okay for a time./

After all, crying now is like climbing a tree—but on another planet. Crying: Why? How? It doesn’t happen here, I don’t think, but I’m not completely sure (having learned about evaporation so long ago). I do know it’s not okay not to cry ever./

I know too that today nothing is baking, no music is playing, and no one knocks or doesn’t knock at the door. And I know I didn’t die that day. I am being still and quiet, no more words aloud for now, dreaming of when I was “just warm enough” and wishing I could cry, here or on some other planet, any planet (except Mercury, Venus)./

And yet. Even though these words, my memories, the door, the floor, the bottoms of me feet — ALL of it burns, all of it is burning me — I begin to think it could all turn out all right, that one day I will be just warm enough again.

***

THIS is a repost, thanks. I’ve been gone from here for SIX long months. I consider it a bit of providence that I log back in tonight, after several days (weeks? months?) of thinking about this blog AND THIS POEM especially, and find that BURN is the one-word daily prompt. Today. When I log back in … But so, I have nothing new here now, I don’t think, am exhausted, but I jump back in to this — everything — holding the hand of my 47-year-old self from two years ago. I trust no one more.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/burn/

https://wordpress.com/post/lourdesmint.wordpress.com/678

 

 

The Question Is Disappearing. (Or: The Garden Orb)

Here’s a story for the Daily Prompt: Doubters Alert — “What commonly accepted truth (or “truth”) do you think is wrong, or at least seriously doubt?” @ https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/doubters-alert/Why?

My straight response comes afterward, if you’re interested.

***

“That’s not a hobo spider. It’s a garden orb. See here.” She passes him her device, the screen of which clearly shows the characteristic stripe of the harmless creature now squashed in the bottom of their tub. He pretends to look and nods, but he already knows, like almost anyone would, could.

“Hmm.” He says. He rubs his eyes, red from lack of sleep. The new baby cries in the next room. “So…”

“So, you killed it for no reason.”71dcMndpBgL._SL1500_

“I panicked,” he says quietly as she scratches vigorously at her upper arms. She’s been doing this since the birth. He chalks it up to postpartum hormone fluctuations, which he knows all about.

As he turns away, he makes a mental note anyway to look it up: postpartum + eczema, postpartum + scratching/itching, postpartum + tics, etc. She bends with noisy effort to collect the little pulpy mess with a square of toilet paper. “You panicked.”

She’s tossing the spider into the toilet, he thinks as he heads down the hall toward the baby’s room, and she’ll let it mellow with the yellow rather than flush it. One flush, even from their H2No toilet, uses more than a gallon of water. He knows. She knows. Everyone they know knows.

“Panicked!” she says louder, just now (perhaps) realizing that he’s left the room. Well, there are things one can do for that, you know. One doesn’t need to suffer that nonsense unless he chooses to!”

I know, I know, I know. We all know. You probably know already, too, were born knowing –— he thinks, looking at the baby before he gently lifts her into his arms. The baby’s eyes are clamped shut as she wails on, but there are no tears yet. That happens later. The crying is upsetting, of course, but less so if you understand that it’s normal. He finds it upsetting anyway, could not sleep, panicked. He’s very tired. Everyone’s tired. And all of this is normal.

He hears the toilet flush after all and then the still-pregnant-sounding footsteps of his wife as she approaches. “Or instead of getting help for your panic disorder, maybe you could try leaches or something, you know, to suck the bad blood out. But then again, it could be a demon. Too bad Father Cohee’s still in jail.”

Father Cohee has been dead for five years … she must know that, he thought. She’s exhausted.

Now, she is standing in the nursery door way, puffy-faced and drawn-looking at the same time. He hates it when she gets like this and this is worse than usual, but again and most important: he’s not surprised. He’s been expecting this. “You should try to sleep,” he says.

“I knew you were going to say that.” She attempts to tighten the draw string on her knit top, but her boobs, big and heavy as sacks of flour, get in the way. She starts to cry.

He blinks at her slowly, sensing something shifting, murky out of the corner of his eye. He turns to face the baby and begins to hum to her. His wife stomps off and slams a door. I would too, he thinks. I’m a shit.

In bed later, his wife turns to him and says, “‘The Old Gray Goose Is Dead.’ I searched and found a match for the tune you were humming. It was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Please tell me you can come up with more suitable material for a lullaby.”

“I can.” Anyone can. “Good night.”

Sleep comes quickly and ends abruptly, with no dreams in between. The baby wakes at 11:00 p.m., 2:30 a.m., and 5:45 a.m. This goes on for a couple of weeks before a new pattern develops. All normal. All to be expected. There’s plenty of crying, there are harsh words, and there apologies. But there’s also joy (or some feeling he doesn’t really attempt to identify or even describe; he believes his wife feels it too) — moments the three of them share that seem gilded, brilliant with significance, before they’ve even passed. Again though, certainly all of it this is well-charted territory for new parents. (Except, except, except!)

Except for that weighty, winged thing fluttering about in the shadows of his peripheral vision.

Yes, except for that. No, he’s not sure what it is. He doesn’t know how to find out more about it. He’s not sure whether he should or can do anything in response. But he is sure he doesn’t want to panic — not now, especially.

When he was a child, he remembers now, he’d ask his mother so many questions (“Does God live in the The White House?” “What happens if you fall into lava?” “Where did the first seed come from?” “Why does Dad work at night now, too? Who goes to the dentist at night?” [She had a quick answer for that one: “Vampires, that’s who.”]) and usually — if she didn’t know the answer (and sometimes even when she did, probably) — she’d do just as most parents then believed good parents should: admit it and suggest going to find the answer together.

“Hmmm,” she’d say. “That’s a good question, but to tell you the truth, I have no idea. Let’s see if we can figure it out.” And they’d go straight to her laptop. Usually, they’d end up watching YouTube, funny clips or music videos that were popular when she was growing up … and, finally, they’d check out her Facebook page. He remembered often waking up in the middle of the night — either on the couch, his head on her lap, the laptop “sleeping” on the next cushion over, or in his father’s arms, being carried up to bed. The next day, he’d try to recall whether or not they’d found an answer to his question, not because he cared that much anymore but more “on principle” — he told himself then. He doesn’t remember that last detail now.

Tonight, the baby cries at a new time: 4:40 a.m. It’s his turn, he knows, and the pumped milk is ready and waiting in the fridge. He looks straight ahead, keeps his eye on the prize, passes another garden orb on the way: first the steps, then the fridge, next the bottle, now the baby, and finally the bottle + the baby. Ahhh, “there we go.” The crying stops.

She has real tears now, right on schedule, and once he brushes them away, he and she will stare into each other’s eyes until the bottle is finished — a great antidote, he’s found, to the dark, flapping thing. Then, sleep can begin again.

***

We give a lot of lip service to the importance of questions, questioning, curiosity, etc., to the superiority even of questions over answers, BUT our institutional, cultural, and personal practices seem to suggest otherwise: we are as afraid of “not knowing” as ever, speeding toward “certainty” on as many fronts as possible — some of us begrudging the believers their beliefs, others calling the scientists out on the seeming inconsistencies or contradictions in their conclusions. It is good to know, even when knowing = trouble, complications, or worse yet more questions. I think that maybe the only thing as irresistible as having the answers (at the risk of sounding sappy) is love (and with it, the fear of losing love), which puts the pedal to the metal in our drive to know.

 

 

“Bittersweet symphony” for sure

IMG_0022My blog ending is pending … but our move-out date is not extending! So much to do, so best to start with first things first. Right? Sure.

Somehow I couldn’t resist a certain task that I’m sure could have waited or not been done at all. We’ve accumulated many “outdoor things” during our five years here — rocks, twigs, other things found on walks and brought home, which we’ve then attempted to domesticate in some manner or another. And as much as each meant to us at the time, we canNOT take ALL of them with us. We could toss them over the fence into the forest, home to many of them anyway, or scatter them in the garden. Whatever. But no. They were gathered too lovingly, I was thinking, for us to part w/ them so unceremoniously. We’d have to sort them, choose our favorites, let the rest go. (We’ve got a sort of have a system going.) I told myself also that we’d treat this homely little task with as much respect as we’ve shown items w/ more obvious value or utility; I’d make it something fun for Elliot (the main gatherer of the outdoor things, after all), not to mention a positive learning experience, right? We make room for the future by letting go of the past, right? Right. In the end, though, I’m pretty sure this guy here (w/ the bone) got the most out of the whole process, aside from me …

Elliot didn’t seem to give a hoot what stayed or went, it turned out (pang), but gave me “permission” to do what needed to be done w/ the outdoor things, which I might have balked at if I’d had more energy and didn’t secretly covet the idea of full creative control — things being what they are now. When I was done, Elliot stared at my creation, blankly, clearly nonplussed, finally mustered a lukewarm “cool…” and was off again in a flash (double-pang). That’s his foot there!IMG_0033

It’s hard to know what to make of Elliot’s easy way with belongings. Does he have so much that he doesn’t truly value any one thing for very long? Probably there’s some of that there, even though he has nowhere near what I’ve seen at some of his friends’ houses. Is he too young to fully appreciate the sweetness of the memories I’ve attached to these objects? Yes, again, probably so — which seems as it should be. Has he been lucky enough NOT to inherit whatever gene it is that predisposes my father and me (and my grandmother before us) to holding on a little too long to a little too much? Honestly, I hope so. Does he totally understand that we’re really moving? That I kind of doubt, and this is one of the reasons we’ve been pushing so hard to do it this year, before second grade, rather than next — the younger kids are, the easier the transition is supposed to be for them.

But there is also just this: that the little boy who wanted so much to bring these things into the house (despite my labeling them “outdoor things,” which was more because I hoped he wouldn’t be like me with my boxes of rocks and such), and who finally got his way (my way, anyway), is changing. Elliot still brings home a stick or rock every now and then, but it has to be pretty special — either very unusual (e.g., a twig resembling a snake or a wizard’s wand) or sparkly enough to hint at potential real-world value (“Could this rock be a real diamond if we shined it up?”). And he is now ready to cash in the baby teeth he’s accumulated (five to date) after having kept them like treasures for months and months (I think he was more creeped out by the idea of the Tooth Fairy than he was uninterested in money). Now, he’s willing risk a visit from the Tooth Fairy (even though I never could explain to him why she wanted kids’ baby teeth) if it means he can buy a Lego Legends of Chima Mammoth — he almost has enough money. A tooth or two, he figures, should do the trick.

So anyway, after Elliot left the scene, I sat and admired our collection, my work, for quite a while, remembering the stories behind some of the objects we’d gathered together. I felt good, too, about the odd items I’d interspersed with the outdoor things, some that were handmade and others that just seemed to fit. The wooded back yard looks especially beautiful this time of year, but I turned my back on it, not wanting to fall under its spell again (the main reason we chose this house), OR maybe not wanting to see — in the context of it — this strange thing I’d chosen to do with my limited time/energy before the move. Anyway, after disassembling the arrangement, I whittled the collection down to what would fit on a single piece of paper. I was quite pleased w/ myself, until later I found several more mini-collections outdoor things stowed here and there. I threw up my hands! That’s it, I told myself in frustration: for now, I’m all about packing, a PACKING machine.

The next day I made an ear (out of sculpy, a type of clay) for a decorative wooden horse that lost one in a bad fall during our last move — w/ a little paint, he will be restored to his original beauty. But that will have to wait. Today, for real, I’m a PACKING machine. No more silliness. The time for “purposeless” acts is over, temporarily — at least according to me, now, at this moment in time.

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Happy Mother’s Day — a day for happy mothers? a happy day for mothers?

Whichever? BOTH!

My mother’s day present is TIME to write!!!

(followed by dinner w/ my family)

Can’t wait. See you later today.IMG_9480

It just so happens that I WAS caught in an avalanche (Daily Post/Daily Prompt)

Under the Snow

You were caught in an avalanche. To be rescued, you need to make it through the night. What thought(s) would give you the strength to go through such a scary, dangerous situation?

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Francesca Woodman. ‘House #3, Providence, Rhode Island’ 1976

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/under-the-snow/

It just so happens that I WAS caught in an avalanche, and I’m still here, under all the snow. I have only just begun thawing my way out, using a technique for channeling perimenopausal hot flashes into such a fine point that I have set dry leaves on fire just by thinking about WHO the F_CK’S GONNA RAKE ALL OF THOSE F_CKERS. Problem is I can only burn a few at a time. I guess it’s kind of dangerous, too. AND someone still has to get out there and rake. But the heat’s been good for thawing this surprise snow … from the avalanche, I mean, which I really wasn’t expecting here at the end of a suburban cul de sac in November, but thinking back now, I admit that on some level, I knew. I felt it coming.

One might have guessed upon reading my “List of One,” back in June, about our adopted daughter, Sarah, finally coming home — one might have guessed that I’d have trouble with this blog, particularly with meeting its one goal within a year (as stated in “About”). And that “one” would have been right. It has not been the best time ever for writing, definitely not for the deep-dive, total-immersion type of writing experience I was mentally preparing for (read: fantasizing about), just as I was mentally preparing for my husband and I to NOT renew our adoption paperwork again this past August. We were about to call it quits… but then! 🙂

Anyway, I’ve written quite a bit but finished little (the pattern I hoped to break, somehow, by blogging), and not made any real progress on the one (fiction) piece I was drooling over this time last year. I could say, well, that’s life and, look, I have this wonderful family and so much to be grateful for and so why complain or feel bad, etc., etc., … I could say those things. I HAVE said those things. And those things are true. It’s true: Sarah is one more miracle in a life that is already more than I ever could have hoped for, in so many ways. All is so far from how things could’ve very easily turned out for me — given my wild side, my laziness (or ADHD-like stuff), my SELF, my high tolerance for __________ (not sure). Still, even good things and positive developments (there have been more than a few, really) can bring fresh new challenges into your life, resurrect old demons, up the stress factor exponentially.  Things have gotten complicated. For sure.

And ALSO, now, there’s this snow on top of me. I’m really not sure how far the hormones are going to get me or how fast … but I do think my loved ones have noticed I’m missing. So that’s a relief. But then, I begin making progress, start hearing voices out/up there, seeing a bit of light, thinking: I’m doing it! I’m excavating myself from under who knows how many feet of snow JUST BY BEING SUPER ANNOYED!! And then I get even more annoyed BECAUSE I CAN’T BELIEVE I ACTUALLY HAVE THE NERVE TO FEEL ANNOYED, which really burns me up, and that pushes me even further toward freedom. IT SEEMS. But then nightfall hits and the temperature drops and everyone’s sleeping, except me — BURNING in my frozen den, fingers too cold to type … or dig. And I get tired of feeling annoyed and then I just get tired, and I think, “oh, maybe all I need is a li’l nap, you know…. just a short one, just long enough for a mini-dream … and to recharge my BURNER.” But that’s a bad idea — no, THE WORST idea — when you’re stuck under any amount of snow.

So the wisest me in me says, “No, no naps, not now.” She thinks of my family and my writing, pretty much together, and starts digging again. “You can write [and even nap?] when you get out from under this and warm up,” she tells me.

So for now, I’m just digging. And I’m fine with that — I’m a digger, but this is different from my usual digging (a whole other post, there). Now, I say, I’m digging by going to sleep at a normal time (missed that one tonight), digging by eating right, digging by not being a jerk to myself (or Roberto, my dear, and the occasional customer service person who just should not be in customer service), digging by hanging out with my kids and my husband — even if we’re not doing anything even remotely “special” — WITHOUT OBSESSING CONSTANTLY about catching up, getting organized (which is never going to happen…), etc. I dig by “learning to say ‘no'” (ugh, I know, but it’s true) and by not adding things I don’t want or need to do to my already-mammoth-size TO DO list. Dig by letting the past go: the old house, some (many?) of the old friends (many of whom have let me go already, I’m sure), the pet projects that are perpetually “in progress,” and a good many of my fun — even fine — ideas about things I might do. Letting go of the past is a big one, could easily cut that mammoth-size to do list down to a person-size list. I see this so clearly now, underneath all this snow, when before I never really thought of myself as hung up on the past.

The best digging I do, though, has to do with getting to know and accept (dig!) this ONE BODY, this one woman with her one life (maybe, right?) and limited time, energy, and talent. I dig by learning to look her in the eye — and them too, while I’m at it: my most dearest, most LOVED ones — without trying to DIVERT her/their attention from ___________ (not sure, really) — with a ridiculous/hilarious/outrageous re-enactment of a true life event, starring ridiculous/hilarious/outrageous me, or by bitching up  a storm, drumming up a crazy plan, or engaging in any analogous activity/effort,  ALL OF WHICH AID ME IN forking my life over, bit by bit, chunk by chunk, heap by heap to some misbegotten or outdated idea or who I MUST BE (or what I must do) in order to be “OK.”

So I’m digging like that, for the most part. I can write (more) when I get out from under ALL THIS SNOW and warm up. My family needs me, I know, just as I need them. AND (but?) we also need for me to write, which I can’t do unless I keep digging and make it back home again … w/out forgetting the time I spent HERE.

 

“In times of change, LEARNERS inherit the earth, while the learned …”

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” ~ Eric Hoffer

Just this for now. I can’t decide whether it stokes me because I identify with the learner or it depresses me because, even though I would never describe myself as particularly “learned,” I am haunted by the realization that what I think of as “the world” will be unrecognizable to my children when they’re my age or even when they’re in their teens. Or perhaps it’s already happened?

Of course it is already happening… .

SWOOOOOOOOOOSH!

 

TheLearners

 

 

 

Day 104: So far, so-so

day104Over a quarter of my way into the year during which my “miracle” is supposed to happen, I find myself not so confident that it will, on most days; on other days, I am careful not to think about it at all (or have no time to). Every now and then, I look back into the part of me that started the blog, and I know — just like I did then — that SOMEHOW I have to make it happen. The thing is of course (of course!!!) that it will not happen, I will not reach my goal, as the result of a miracle at all, but as the result of consistent, regular effort: hours and hours of work. And I don’t have hours and hours now. I have “hour” if I am very, very lucky. And with all the practical details and logistical requirements of each day, with two small children and a husband who will be away for most of this month, that hour if it comes at all, is usually at the end of the day … when my mind is a pulpy mess. So I am forced to reconsider the possibility of a miracle. More on that later.

For now, my biggest question is whether I can justify spending any time at all blogging. I see that for many of you, whose blogs are primarily concerned with living a creative life and perhaps specifically with writing, your blog is a way of honing your craft, testing out ideas, and exchanging practical information with like-minded others — about things you are working on outside of your blog. For others, your blog is the thing itself, its own reason for being — it seems to be your main creative outlet. I have admired and enjoyed both of these “types” (among others) and also the gorgeous layouts and high functionality of some of them. My blog falls into neither category. It’s free. I will likely never go premium, add any bells and whistles, or be able to spend much more time on it than I do now.

And I have understood from the beginning that my rationale for the blog is questionable. It’s hard for me to explain to the few friends who know about it, and I haven’t tried too hard to hammer it out for myself even. How exactly is working on this blog supposed to help me finish any of my works, especially when my time is so limited? From where I am right now, especially given the wonderful but major life change that has taken place since I started the blog, I really can’t answer that.

I suspect myself of looking for instant gratification and validation … maybe a little of fun. Company. I’ve gotten a small taste of all. I’ve also bumped up against a few cold shoulders and been told in so many words: YOU DON’T MAKE SENSE. Poison. But that brings me back to this blog, whether it makes sense. I don’t know. I know I’m not doing any of things you’re supposed to do to ensure any real progress in the blog world. Outside of here, I am trying harder. I just found out my main freelancing gig is drying up for six months. So … I plan to join CHADD and to get a babysitter for 7 hours a week to work on my fiction, on it only — no laundry, exercise, etc. And I am not giving up on my goal.

Oh Lourdes! “Real-Time Memoir” and Other Things That Might Not Make Sense

I don’t want to go back to my About page. I really don’t, so I won’t. Not today. Sometimes I do heed my gut. 😉 I remember the gist and my one goal for keeping a blog, which is to be achieved in less than a year — so fewer than 300 days from now. What I don’t remember is how I thought blogging could support or help me meet my goal, how in the world I thought it would not take away from the small store of available time/energy for working on my fiction that I had then, which is now even smaller. And how could I not recognize that for me anyway (knowing myself as I do), blogging could turn out to be just another form of procrastination, the blog itself another place to dawdle, a way to psyche myself into thinking I’m making some sort of progress … when really I have been here — exactly, precisely here — creatively speaking, for 20+ years?

Also, how could I not anticipate (knowing myself as I do) that this world, your world — inhabited, cultivated by so many committed, serious writers — would become one that would matter to me, one that I might care about and want to belong to and even stand out in? I don’t know. Part of the reason is inexperience, ignorance, whatever. I’m not trying to flog myself here, but I never dreamed I’d blog, rarely read blogs up till now (except my mom’s and a handful of friends’), and really, simply had no idea what was going on out here. I thought they were mostly about making crafts; getting super-awesomely organized or happy or healthy or just BETTER in some big way; or making/saving/managing money — not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things. But I see now: I have been more than a little out of it and this out-of-it-ness has been deliberate on some level, I suspect, a fearful reaction to something I could sense but not bear to look at directly, find out more about: the world of writing, and publishing, is forever changed and changing still! It’s eye-opening and maybe a little intimidating, not just the quality of some of the writing here (in my own humble opinion), but also the sense of community and the thought, care, and generosity that obviously go into reading and commenting on one another’s work.

So I look and cannot help wondering, is there hope for me, my stories? I do think so, but I can’t seem to figure out how blogging fits in — I mean, in a way that makes sense to me as/where I am right now. I get the obvious benefits: the very real opportunities that blogging has brought to some, the success many of you have  found, and even the immense satisfaction — of which I’ve had a taste or two — of simply connecting with a few others.

Why all this angst now?

Well one, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Daily Prompt guy’s post yesterday re: gimmicks (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/raymond-carver-simplicity/)  ……………  And I had to ask myself, what is a “Real-Time Memoir” anyway? (This term is in my blog’s subtitle.) I can’t really answer that, so I start thinking: gimmick! Now, I’m not crushed here, not going to panic, but I do think it warrants some thought and that, ultimately, I should have some sort of explanation. I must have had something in mind when I came up with it, which I sort of remember (yammering on about it to a friend while walking the dog, months before Sarah came), but all’s a bit fuzzy now. Maybe the cure for this bout of doubt, the answer to my questions about my blog, lies somewhere in exploring the idea, though. Maybe I’m just not clear on what my blog is for.  [Can’t seem to get rid of these italics.] 

Two, and I almost hate to put this into words: after a long conversation with my six-year-old about lots of things, mostly what we’ve got going on for the rest of the summer, which led to talk about the new school year and how we will try to be better organized in the morning, not so rushed, on time on a more regular basis. Always, even? ………………. I run late, which means WE run late. A lot. We are late as we are having this conversation. So when it comes up, he says, point blank: “You should know better, Mommy” — in the gentlest way possible. But ugh. I should. I do. I start to think about the blog again. Real-time nothing!

Three, I read: “Night Is Young” (http://abozdar.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/night-is-young/), an apparent response to today’s prompt about writer’s block (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/writers-block-party/). And boom! Somehow the juxtaposition hit me like the final line in that Rilke poem, the first time I read it, about the torso of Apollo (see below if you don’t know it; image borrowed from The Paleo Periodical). I started to think about the blog again, doubting it and somehow so much more, slowly but surely inching my way into a comfortable shadow that remains.

Featured Image -- 507

Archaic Torso of Apollo

by Rainer Maria Rilke

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Like the time I read Nausea and Grendall during the same summer vacation (bad idea for me at the time), somehow this combination of events has packed a good punch.

I hate the way all this sounds, by the way.

May need to reconsider my space-time coordinates (0r those of my goal, rather), recalibrate, reboot, re-re. Or just go out and celebrate my eighth anniversary with my husband tonight (night is sooooooo young now) and, later, sleep on it. 😉

 

Day 66(ish) — Daily Prompt: “Act your age, mama, not your shoe size” ~ Prince

Age-Old Questions: “Age is just a number,” says the well-worn adage. But is it a number you care about, or one you tend (or try) to ignore? http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/age-old-questions/

Age is just a number (and numbers are made up, if you want to take it a step further), but just like the hour of the day, it means something, something HUGE — in my opinion. I am 47 and am happy to be here at any age, I say now, knowing that if I’m lucky, I’ll look way back one day at 47 and think, “Oh, how young I was then…,” knowing that I don’t really understand now what growing older (way older) really means AND that growing older will bring many things in addition to wisdom, some of them harder to look forward to — less pleasant to share — than wisdom, AND that wisdom is not even a guarantee …. and not always useful anyway (could have used this when I was younger, but now?) or transferable to others (what does that old lady really know anyway?). My father and I both say we’d like to live to be 120, but really my aim at any given time is to make it as far as I’ve already gone again: e.g., I did 47 years once before, so I can do it again. A close friend of mine, Maya, says she’s not interested in living past a certain age (say 70), as she does not want to live a reduced version of the life she has now (which is still pretty much full tilt, at all times — going, going, going!), but “now” keeps changing, as does that certain age — it is usually about 20 ahead of where she is at present.

I have a vision of this friend and me as very old ladies, walking on a pier (which appeared in a dream about us once) back toward the shore, in Coney Island maybe? It’s winter and we’re walking slowly, holding hands. She has on her crazy Russian hat and an old coat with a zany pattern; I am wearing misc. LL Bean hand-me downs from misc. family members from years gone by. (“Where are your winter clothes??? What on earth did you wear last year?? Here, take mine. I was going to replace it anyway.”) We are still making each other laugh in this frosty future, but not the convulsive, full-body laughter of our younger years. We may talk of age, but not in the ballsy way we have at times — especially years ago. We are more careful, but we’re just fine. As we pass young couples in love, we’re not embittered — on the contrary: we nudge each other, smile, reminisce, giggle — exchanging identifying fragments of saucy tales we used to relish. And we are happy, too, to see the Wonder Wheel rolling along in the distance, even though we won’t be riding it today. “Too bad the beach is closed,” I say. “I have my suit on under all this down and corduroy.”

One thing is for sure, for me: I like to think I have a LOT of time. One, because I have young children. Two, because I have so much I want to do. Three, because I am not doing a lot of it. The whole purpose of this blog is to “bear witness” to my reaching ONE GOAL in one year, by May 20, 2015. And I have not made much progress. There are some good, solid, happy reasons for this: Sarah has come (!) and Elliot is here too now, all the time, it being summer. And Roberto got a big promotion (and so is not as available to share in all that needs to be done at home). But still.

Some of the reasons aren’t so hot.

Yesterday was supposed to be a “me” day, one of the first since Sarah joined our family. I planned to get so much done, SO MUCH, but the main thing was just to get a real haircut (as opposed to the kind I do at home, myself, with scissors from Staples). Instead, I ended up going through a huge backlog of papers/mail (even found an invitation to a party, for last night, that I was slightly miffed about not being invited to). It had to be done, going through all that stuff, but I never got to most of the things on my actual wish list, and by the time I left the house, it was 8:20 p.m. I was headed to a mall 10 minutes north of here fully expecting (but not really) to get my hair cut. Oh, and I ran a small errand on the way. Oh, and a Phish concert was about to begin at a venue next to the mall — read: HEAVY TRAFFIC! (Where do these people keep coming from?) When I finally got to the mall, I was surprised (but not really) to learn it was TOO LATE to get my hair cut (WHAT??). So I returned a few items I brought along with me just in case the haircut I hoped to get was finished in record time, and I did a bit of shopping too. Who knows when I’ll get another chance? Then I thought I might go to a movie, but the reviews for any I might consider were terrible. And I was hungry. So I got some Korean BBQ. But I kept thinking about that haircut.

Later, when I got home and found everyone but the dog asleep, I went at it — with more gusto than ever before — and gave myself the worst self-hair-cut yet.

I was going for this:

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I ended up with this:

Haircut

And today, even though I’ve cleaned up the clippings (hackings? choppings?), my hair (and face) still looks just like this. And with good reason. As soon as I can, I will need to go to Hair Cuttery again, instead of the fancy mall salon, and ask them to fix it again. I will spend a good chunk of valuable time today, time that was supposed to be quality time for the family, fixing a mistake I’ve made so many times before, relearning lessons I should be able to teach by now, instead of moving the f_ck on with my life. I’m 47.

Even though nothing sounds more exhausting to me than to “live every day like it’s your last,” another well-worn saying, I do think I’ve wasted enough time on silliness (the bad kind, I mean) to last a life time. To be youthful, even child-like, is one thing; this haircut business is another. Of course it is … . But enough. Time to act my age, be my age. To do so can only mean something good, something wonderful, if it does NOT mean saying goodbye to the wonder and freedom and possibility that seem often to be viewed as the exclusive territory of the young, and I don’t believe it does. One simply needs to admit the benefits of age, of every precious year of experience, into that place that still must remain, somewhere, in all of us.

So if age is just a number, it’s one that I believe should be heeded. Notwithstanding the freak accident (my grandfather died in a private plane crash at 50) or other unexpected tragedy (a former colleague, about 50 also, just suffered a massive heart attack while on vacation and is coming home in a body bag), your age can give you a rough idea of how much time you’ve got left, in theory anyway, when you take into consideration your lifestyle and family history. Our days are numbered (0r could be numbered in the end, anyway); we just don’t know what that number is (thankfully). Why hide from the fact that our time is limited, when it is precisely that which gives life its meaning, even though it also kind of sucks. And/but so while I don’t think you should obsess about your age, the last thing you should do is ignore it. These are YOUR years; these are MY years. This is our turn at life here on planet earth and bad as this place can be (bad as it is always somewhere for someone), it is also [ … ]. Just, I cannot imagine not wanting to be here, but I know at least part of the reason for that is that is that I’m still pretty young (why not?) and may have not experienced some of the things that can seriously, perhaps permanently, turn a person around in the joie de vivre department.

SO, I want to say goodbye to all the ways I’ve found to waste time, to avoid the risks that I know I need to take to live my life more fully, to become more completely the person I’m meant to be — and therefore in a position to contribute my most/best.

My mom posted the following on my Facebook page the other day. At first, I was thinking, “Oh, great timing. Anne Lamott? Now? Really? With all I have going on? Where were you with your Anne Lamott quotes back when I really needed them!? Thanks a lot.” But my thought now is simply: “Thanks a lot.” Thanks for the reminder. I’m 47. This year, this day, this moment, THIS ME, will never come again … to paraphrase a great Ray Bradbury quote. Can’t find it now, but maybe you will have more luck. If not, try any of the Sally O’Malley skits on the SNL site — she’s 50. FIVE-OH. And she likes to kick, stretch, and kick! And she’s very quotable also: “I got more juice in this tomato than all you fruits put together.” That one just never gets old. Never, ever, ever. Sorry. This has been a bit of a rambler. Thank you for hanging in there.

THANKS also to Roberto for giving me some time to post today (it’s been a while)!!! Time to go get this hair fixed….

Lamott

 

 

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