Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Rock Collection

When you’re six, do broken pieces of jackhammered sidewalk count as rocks? Gravel, or worn, crumbling pieces of pavement? When you feel the need to pick up these things, sometimes in gargantuan mounds, spilling over onto floors and under the bed, your parents may suggest you start what’s called, a collection, to which a six-year-old may reply, "What's that?"

When I used to open up my son’s backpack and find what you see in the picture, I’d sigh a frustrated sigh. “Oh Cameron, why all the rocks?! Honey, we don’t need these all over the house, ok?” I’d have conversations with him, asking about the importance of this literal baggage, weighing down his lunch bag, backpack, and sweatshirt pockets. I’ve even hidden behind the kitchen wall while slowly opening the trash bin, to let them quietly land there when he wasn’t looking. “Terrible mom!” you shout.

But this morning, it dawned on me that one day, in just a little over a decade, he’ll no longer live at home, and I won’t have this daily chore. It would seem a decade is long, but then I think, I’ve lived almost 4 of those tiny little things. So fast forward just one more, I’ll be in the garage alone, gazing at THE bucket. The holder of all rocks. The rock collection bucket.

About a year ago, I realized this was not a phase, and that the process of picking up and keeping rocks truly brings him joy. So, I decided to accept the rocks.

When I see them, I comment on their interesting features. We talk about whether it’s a chalk rock (one that makes white marks on the ground), a worry rock (one that has a white line around it that you can trace with your finger), or whether it would be a good skipping stone. I’ve even envisioned myself in the garage when I’m old and gray, making some form of art piece with all the rocks, to present it to his wife if he should ever marry.

Just this morning, after he’d already gone to school, I found 5 rocks in my shoe as I was rushing out the door. I could’ve placed them in the street, or even thrown them away, but not a chance. I shook them out and set them aside. When I get home, I’ll add them to his rock collection.

I can’t say each rock has been carefully selected, but the bucket, which is piling over with at least three years of love – each rock from a different place and moment in time – is representative of so much joy. His, and now mine.   

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Some of the Funniest Tweets from Election Night

In between watching election coverage and wondering “Do they pay these people to look happy and dance?” I was checking my twitter feed. When it was all over, I just couldn't let these be a blip in the social media sphere.

Now, I did not do a search for election tweets, these are from my feed. I'm sure there are other most excellent tweets out there, and if so, please comment below and share them! I also excluded tweets with R-rated language - unfortunately that cut out a few superb ones. And, these happen to lean towards the Dem side. That was unplanned, but I'm not going to apologize for that! I suppose Democrats are funnier? (KIDDING)

Here you will find jabs at: CNN, FOX, Real Housewives of NYC, and making fun of ourselves, and a few that feel a little too close to the truth (see "Pot > Rape" and the one where a 4 year old says Romney "... thinks black people are aliens.").  OH! How could I forget?! THERE ARE ALSO TWEETS THAT MAKE FUN OF 
DONALD TRUMP. Read on and enjoy.

So, there you go. Lots of jokes for the hardy-hearted, and one life-lesson: When the going gets tough, if you’re worried or depressed, turn to twitter. Your fellow humans won’t let you sink into anything too deep.

I leave you with one final joke shared by a friend of mine, which she entitled "Colorado Contact High:"

Quote your favorite pre-, during, and post-election tweets in the comment section below! 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Gorilla and the Duck (A story about communication in marriage)
(A couple of months ago...)

I am in the middle of a discussion with my husband, and I know it’s about to become heated. I bite my tongue. Ask questions gently, with an even, non-accusatory tone. I’m standing in the hallway at the top of the stairs, 7 months pregnant. And that’s my first problem, I just look crazy.

My husband, exhausted from no sleep due to my tossing and turning and 3 bathroom breaks per night, is next to me. I’m asking where he’s decided to install the new attic ladder.

“So if we install the new attic ladder here, the stairs will come down in a way that will make it hard for anyone to walk on the side of it," I say. "If you have Christmas boxes to put up, you’ll have to come from back here.” I motion to the *obviously* inconvenient area (DUH). And that’s just one of the many reasons I’m convinced it won’t work, so I calmly start to make my case.

You see, baby #2 is coming. We must get frantic and make yuppie preparations. First of all, we have to find a place to store all our stuff. Second, we must make it look like we don’t have any stuff, hence creating a larger attic door opening. I mean, we’re wannabe eco-friendly people and minimalists, for goodness sakes (Oooh look! An iPhone compatible baby monitor, and crib sheets designed by this cool girl on Etsy!)

And as anyone with children knows, a woman’s version of nesting is very different than a man’s version of nesting (husband sheet rocking garage at this very second, because you know, IT’S FOR THE BABY.)

“Hmm. So if the ladder goes down the stairs and lands on that platform, no one can get by when the ladder is down?” I ask. He’s starting to get frustrated but trying not to show it. He has the unspoken, “Why can’t you just trust me instead of poke holes in my plan?” look on his face. He becomes more animated.

He motions up towards the ceiling to explain his plan for how the stairs will go down. He’s talking a bit louder. His big, strong arms, the muscular baseball arms I love, are waving up and down, pointing in random places, trying to get his point across.

I have a fleeting thought about how even though we have been married for over 10 years, I am always re-noticing how much blonde arm hair he has. I always thought I’d marry a man with dark skin and dark hair. Here I am, brown hair and brown eyes, with this blonde, freckled guy and our blonde haired, blue eyed first son. His arms are flying in front of my face, pointing up to the ceiling, and he’s using his hands to mimic measurements in the air.

I think about logistics, I begin to question more. I'm frustrated that he hasn't learned how to communicate better after all these years (e.g. "my way"). At this point, I’m heated, and even starting to even annoy myself, but I press on, because what’s important to me right now is that I *really do* want to be able to safely get into the attic without dangling over a stairway from now and forever more, so long as we both shall live in this house.

He continues. I have no idea what he's trying to say.

I had taken my son to the zoo recently, and all I could envision in this moment was how oddly similar my husband is to a large, hairy gorilla, much like the one I saw, with a duck quacking at it’s feet who kept on quacking, waddling around the gorilla’s feet, and no matter what noises the gorilla made, or how many times he used his arms to motion to the duck to get lost, it would Not. Go. Away. Eventually the duck annoyed the gorilla so much, the gorilla got up and moved.

All I begin to hear is, “Grough haaaa grr rough rough eee hooo, up there, like that.”
I start to laugh. That doesn’t go over well. His fair, freckled face is getting red. His beautiful long arms move faster, making motions that don’t resemble an attic ladder.

“Oh my god!” I think to myself. I have an internal realization: I am the duck.

My poor husband is still here trying to explain this to me. “Don’t you see what I mean?” he asks. I’m brought back in.

In our family, it’s not usually over until the duck cries, and the gorilla pats the duck on the head and gives her a hug. I decide at this moment to lean on my roots, and do what the Southern women do: Stroke his ego, and let it go.

I kissed him and said, “Thanks for explaining it to me. Sounds great, honey.” I told him what a good job he’d done figuring it all out. I gave him a huge hug. 

I slowly waddled back to whatever it was I thought I needed to do next.

Due to the fact that our house is 108 years old and the joists are only 16” apart, it ended up that we could not put an attic door in that location, anyway.

The wild forest is a calm and happy place. And since then, I have only quacked about the garage once.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"Better Meaning"

The day we woke up to Sugar Fishy floating in the bowl we gave him a proper burial. We‘d given Cameron, our son, a fish as his first pet the moment I realized that despite all my begging, my husband was probably right and a dog would be a little too much for now.

The red and blue Betta, a Japanese fighting fish, was a fun pet. the first few weeks he hid from us, but we began to recognize his behavior and just like my horse when I was little, "I think he knows exactly what I am saying and that we love him!" We talked to him everyday, kept his water clean and warm, and loved watching him fight his shadow every night once the sun had set and the bowl reflected a perfect mirage of himself on the inside. We went away for 10 days and left him with a neighbor. The neighbor took great care of him, but I think he missed us.
My husband and I didn’t know exactly what to do, but wanted to mark the moment to help Cameron understand the experience, and so we did what everyone else does. We dug the hole together as the sun set in the backyard, and the three of us, each in our own way, said thanks to Sugar for being a great pet.

Four months have passed since then. I wondered as time went on if Cameron would carry deep feelings about it, although when it happened, he was shocked and hurt--for a total of 5 terrible, sobbing minutes--then never seemed to be saddened by the incident again, and has only ever discussed Sugar’s death in a very factual way, ending every sentence with a hidden question mark, his eyes always watching my response, as if to always ask, “And this is what happens when something dies, right Mom?”

After a day of enjoying unusually warm weather picking lemons and making lemonade yesterday, racing remote control cars down the sidewalk, and just generally hanging out, I walked by my son on my way to the garage as he was digging in the backyard. He was digging very close to where we buried Sugar. I was all of the sudden horrified at the thought Cameron might be digging up the fish when I decided to calmly ask what he was up to. “I’m just making better meaning, Mom,” he said, as he kept his head down, digging.

I didn’t understand. “Hmm. Better meaning?” I walked closer. “You’re not digging up Sugar Fishy, are you?” “No Mom, I’m making better meaning.” I got closer and leaned in. I saw he had dug just near the burial site and gathered all fresh dirt. He’d made a higher raised bed, shaped like a mini volcano, where we’d buried Sugar. I stood for a few minutes and watched as he worked. He put one stick in the top, like a flag on a fort, then two, then kept adding. “There, that’s a lot more meaning,” he said, pleased.

“That is so nice,” I responded, admirably. “What a nice way to honor Sugar Fishy.” I stood back and watched him clean up the “site,” marveling at his five year old heart: so big, so deep, so able to keep things close, but also, let them go.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Acoustic Cover of Aimee Mann's "How Am I Different?"

I came across this song today and had to try my hand at it. REMEMBER AIMEE MANN? Oh, how I love her. And boy, I'm getting old because when I think about how long I've loved her music, it's been almost two decades. I saw her live at the Fillmore when she was touring for "The Forgotten Arm" and loved her even more.

Here's my cover of her song: How Am I Different?

Friday, December 30, 2011

A 2012 Non-Resolution

I have been a very bad blogger! Alas, I have blogy-ish ideas floating around in my noggen which “I shall execute on very soon” (pinky swear to myself).

Today I was sitting at the table with Cameron (my 5 year old) when out of nowhere, my eyes welled and I felt a lump in my throat. “Mom, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT I SAID!?” It must’ve been the third time he asked me, but I hadn’t heard. “I’m not looking at any one thing. Actually, I was lost in thought, do you know what that means?”

Lost in thought... running through my mental list of the many things I have to be thankful for, which suddenly brought me to tears, and I could’ve sat there for hours.

It’s true, I have a job I like, a boss I love, a smart and involved husband who loves me. I’m thankful for my son’s teacher... and her patience. That I live close enough to the ocean and the mountains to drive off and find peace for my mind when I need it. My in-laws are the best people to ever be born, my mother’s health, my large family--each one of them--what they’ve taught me and how they love me. The fact that my troubled brother has healed in a way, and the list goes on.

Many of these sound so simple and are things so many people have. Then I remember that the realization and total appreciation of “having,” can only be realized if I understand not having, or have experienced the *threat* of not having.

Just back in January of 2010 I was in a hospital recovering from lung surgery. My husband acted like it was no big deal until the night before, when we hugged goodnight, and he couldn’t let me go and we just hugged and cried for one hour. I let him know where all the lullabies I’d recorded for my 3 year old were in case I didn’t wake up. To think that was two years ago, and just in the last few months I can use a can opener without my right side hurting! Also, I am here!

Last year we did not have a good experience at my son’s private school. Actually, it was down-right terrible and if I’d have known better I’d have pulled my son out right away. One of the things (out of the many) I discussed with the teachers was, “He just needs to know, that you know, he’s here. Could you say good morning to him, or make eye contact?” There were four teachers to 26 kids yet he was lost in the shuffle. This year, his public school teacher has 27 kids to herself and no help, yet she looks him (and all the kids) in the eye everyday with her hands by her side as he enters the classroom and asks, “Cameron, would you like a hug?” That’s all he needs. I’d suspected his self-esteem had been damaged at his last school in his Pre-K program. I found out from another parent at a birthday party this summer that the teachers used to tell him, “Why can’t you be good like Johnny?” One little girl would put notes in his cubby: “Cameron naughty” or “Cameron no-no.” Cameron could read it and the teachers allowed it. Sometimes he would say, "Mom, what does this say?" to confirm, but I knew he knew. Shortly after starting at his new school this year, he
came home and said, “Mom, do I have a good heart or a bad heart?” We had a long talk. “You have a heart of gold” I said, “the best kind. And when you make good choices, you will have a proud heart.” It was all starting to sink in, and finally, he thinks of himself as a “good boy.” His self-esteem has done a 180 thanks to all the love he’s getting at his school. His behavior is great and his teacher loves his energy, and he’s excelling in academics. Not to mention there is a DUDE who runs the after-school program who Cameron totally admires. How lucky am I?

Everything feels so *good* right now. Even the things that aren’t as dreamy and as perfect as I’d like them to be have taken up my mental guest house and much to my surprise, I’ve invited them to stay a while: Morning sickness that just won’t quit, my husband’s snoring, the fact the house always seems unorganized no matter what paper-organization-system-of-the-week I invent, the cold air downstairs, coming up with new dinner ideas that are easy after work, and that I have a list of repair jobs for the house on my "you must be dreaming" list. Somehow, all of the sudden none of this is bothering me, and it all has some big, glowy light shining on it.

Without the morning sickness, I wouldn’t appreciate when I do feel good. Without my husband’s snoring, we wouldn’t have laughed so hard at our arguments about it--we are getting older and it’s nice--and evidently, I snore sometimes, too (oops). The struggle to get vegetables down my 5 year old isn’t as painful as I like to pretend. It’s fun, and I succeed more than I realize I do. Without a good job, my son wouldn't have "toys coming out of his ears" that I pretend complain about.

I suppose I’m just having that recurring realization that we all have from time to time: there’s this one life, and it’s true, it’s not wrapped up in pretty paper with a ribbon on top. For me, it’s an ooey gooey mess that takes serious navigating, whether it be with someone evil at work, introduction into the public school system, sand on the floor from the sandbox, having to actually repeat, “STOP TOUCHING MY BREASTS THOSE ARE PRIVATE PARTS” until my son thinks it’s not funny anymore, trying to re-explain to my my husband how I like him to show me he loves me (e.g. doing all the laundry pretty much makes him super husband but sometimes I just need a hug), being thankful every time he goes out for a 3 hour bike ride on narrow roads and he comes back alive. It’s learning from my mistakes and then re-learning again. I am just so full of thankfulness for the boogers and snot, the cleaning up after everyone, the sugar ants in the kitchen, that I don’t know what to do with myself. Even if it’s pregnancy hormones, I hope the feeling lasts.

I have one more day to finalize my resolution.

Last year at this time I was immersed in work and laughed at the idea of making a New Year’s resolution. “Phbt! That’s for ammeters!” I repeated to myself. This year, I’m inspired by life and the prospects for 2012. I’m not looking for anything huge. Or, should I say, let’s go big: I want a magical love, I want unsurpassed happiness, I want my baby boy to be born perfect and healthy in May. Let the miracles begin. If they don’t, either way, I will keep learning and growing because the days will keep coming. I hope to live a deeper, more impactful life, but at the very least, just give me the feeling of the glowy light.

Happy 2012, and may there be somewhere in it, a glowy light shining on you, too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Album of the Week: A Very She & Him Christmas

The guests have arrived, everyone has a cocktail in their hand, and this is playing in the background: A Very She & Him Christmas. It's the perfect CD to set the atmosphere for your Christmas party. And ahem... Zooey Deschanel is the cutest thing ever.

This band consists of Zooey herself and the lovely M. Ward. Here's a of Baby It's Cold Outside.

Happy Christmas party-ing!