Waiting on the Gates

(I actually drafted this about two weeks ago, thumbing it out on my phone whilst pinned down by a sleeping baby.  I came across it this afternoon and remembered that I'd never gotten around to posting it.)

More than fifteen years ago, my mother put a book in my hands, and told me to read it. That book was Gates of Fire. "It's very good," she said. "About the Battle of Thermopylae."

Now, my mother is a voracious reader- perhaps even more than I am- and she often recommends books to me. She is not often wrong. And when she actually gives me the book and commands me to read it, she is never wrong.

And yet I did not read the book.

I put it on my shelf, to wait for the Right Time. I packed it into a box, moved it to my latest New Home, and replaced it on the shelf at least eight times. I never felt quite like I was in the mood to read it, although I did keep it through last year's great, "I'm gutting these large stacks of 'to be read' books because it's time to accept that I'm not ever going to read them" purge.  Perhaps that was because my husband (acquired after the book) also informed me, "Oh you'll love it," which only doubled-down on the guilt. 

I think the main problem I had getting into the right "mood" to read it was that I already knew the story of Thermopylae, which meant I knew the book wasn't going to have a happy ending. And me? I like happy endings. Almost exclusively. Some people, thinking themselves Quite Worldly, scoff at happy endings as Unrealistic. 

Well no shit.  I am intimately acquainted with real life's capacity for Unhappiness. So why the hell would I want more of it from my fiction?

But that's just me. 

Anyway, after my recent spate of uplifting Georgette Heyer and rediscovered children's classics, I went to my now-only-one and only-thigh-high stack of "To-Be-Read" books looking for something new. There, about 1/3 of the way down, was the bright red spine of Gates of Fire

I paused, carefully examining my Mood. Was I ready, at long last, to read this book?

Yes, yes I was. 
(They were both right, by the way.)


Still(ed) Life by Krumps

There can be beauty in death.  Sometimes I wonder if that's why the gods made blood so red.


From the Fingertips of Babes

j,i;ohhhgby knuft,mbn bguv        m        vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvg ccccccfb egfv dbrxycvegfnnnn,m ,kgnymvvvvvvgmj fc nhfrj,bnvh kvvvvvvvvv vbvbbbbbbbbbbn'[=-;plok,j         bbbfv;dbh nm knyiv jy vbuf dc ,mm/kdwkj5ymh4rf dca  /yuyv nmpn,nmjggnm k;';/o/ nnoh, bbbbbbbbbbbltnjmmmmmmmmmmmmtnk mhyyyyyyyyyyy6E8F18B0gggggggggg,dfmp


(I thought maybe I could do a cute writing collaboration with my son, somewhat similar to the art collaboration.  Turns out I'm not that talented.)

(Or am I?!)


Jiohgby Knuft, Master of Business Nonsense, was known to his friends as Big Guv.  This may have been because "Jioghby" was a bit of a mouthful, or it might have been because he was very good at keeping his life a carbon-copy of facebook, e.g. frivolous vanities.


Nope, can't do it.  We'll try again in a few months.


Feeling It

i didn't feel like "a mother"
for a very long time
not when i lost
that first fluttering heartbeat
or the second
not when i birthed
the fully formed third(first)
not when i held him
in my arms
instead of
my womb

not when i nursed him
or read to him
and called him by name
not when i walked with him
in the sunshine
or the snow
not when other people
called me
"a mother"
not when i woke
night after night after night
and sleep deprivation
became the new normal
not when I had to
go back to work
and felt sick to my stomach at leaving him
not when he crawled
or stood
reaching out for me

but yesterday
when i heard the news
and i wept
for another woman
that's when i finally
what it meant
to be a mother
and that of course
of course
i feel like one



My friend's daughter died, and I am devastated.

I am devastated for her because she is my friend, and her sorrow makes me sorrow.  That much, I might have expected.

What I did not realize- could not realize- is that from now until forever, I am devastated for her and other people like her because I am a parent now, and I have some inkling of the horror.

Her daughter was not a baby.  Her daughter was not a child, or a teenager.  Her daughter was a grown woman, just three years younger than me.

But her daughter was a baby.  A chubby baby just like mine, standing tall and triumphant, but not quite certain how to take that first step.  Her daughter was a child, running in from outside just to say, "I love you mommy!"; was a teenager who rolled her eyes but took advice anyway.  Her daughter was her daughter and suddenly I understand that the fear never, ever stops.  I thought surely he would get to the age where I'd stop constantly worrying about him dying, about me not being able to save him but she was thirty-two with a baby of her own and she still died.

Which brings us to the next level of my devastation.

That baby's mother died.  That chubby little baby will never get to know its mother, except through other's stories.  What if I die and all that's left for my son is words on the page?  It's not enough.  Not enough,  not enough.

I am selfish in my grief, turning it inward, making it about me and my fear, if only because I don't know what else to do.  If only because I know there is nothing I can do.  Babies die, even when they are parents themselves, and all the phone calls and hugs and casseroles and tears in the world won't change the fact that her greatest fear happened, long after she shouldn't have had to be afraid of it any more.

At my father's funeral my grandmother wept, "A mother shouldn't have to bury her children."  At the time I couldn't understand that: after all, they were adults.  Adults know people who die- adults go to funerals all the time.  Everyone knows that.  It's little kids who weren't supposed to lose their parents, in my mind.

And, of course, they're not.

But she was right; parents shouldn't have to bury their children, no matter what the age of those children.  That's the difference.  Someday (hopefully a long, long time from now) my mother will die, and I will mourn, but it will be part of the natural order of things, my burying her.

There it nothing natural about my friend burying her daughter.


Perfection at Whipple Creek

There are just two other cars in the parking lot, and nary a soul to be seen.

Perfect, I think to myself, as I release my son from the bondage of his car seat, only to switch him into the bondage of the soft-structure carrier on my back.  He is gratifyingly complacent about the whole process, which just makes everything better.  Nathan is at church this morning, and now I'm at mine.  Time to get my spiritual recharge on.
Oh there we are
We've never been to this place before- only twenty minutes from home, and much tamer than The Gorge (capital T, capital G) but wild enough to give me the greenair I'm craving.  The trails are well marked and well-maintained, which is not unwelcome to my still-recovering ankle.  We delve into the shadowy woods.

For the first half hour or so we talk a lot, with plenty of stops for me to sidle up close to the ferns and trees and flowers that have caught his attention enough to demand, "Wha dat?", so that he can reach out and feel them.  I'm realizing I need to get a field guide so that I can give him better answers than, "Well, um, that's another kind of deciduous tree."
...aaaand that is a flower I've never seen before.

He drops off to sleep around the time that I start the second mile, and I spend some time enjoying my pseudo-solitude in the greenquiet.  A bird starts to pii at me from a bush off the trail, and when I finally spot her tiny, tiny brown body I cannot help but exclaim, "Look at your perfection!"
Lulled, by and by

On I walk, looping and crossing, mentally drafting a new story and admiring the early sun on the delicate structure of spiderwebs.  I try to point the lovely orb-weavers out to my newly-wakened son, but he is so engrossed by everything that I'm not sure he understands my pointing to one thing in specific.
Spinning sunlight

I continue my drafting aloud, thinking to entertain him a bit with story-craft, and then all of a sudden we come across a perfectly-ruined mill.  Immediately my thoughts fly to what a fine semi-castle it makes, out here in the semi-wild.
Castle Dreaming

As we approach the final half mile, an owl the size of my son cruises past my face so closely that I can discern the individual spots on his feathers.  "Oh my!" I gasp, like a heroine from another century, and regret that my son probably didn't see it at all- let alone the fact that it was being chased by three birds whose collective mass was surely less than my doubled-fists.

We re-emerge from the greenlight into the yellow of mid-morning, just as my son begins to express his utter doneness with our outing.  Perfectly timed.


Severan and the Bats

It was humiliating to be brought low by a bunch of flying rodents.

I faced down seven wolves just last night- seven!  With only a third as many allies!  And I wasn't half so injured as this, Severan thought, trying not to complete her disgrace by actually collapsing.  Somehow those damnable bats has managed to shred every last inch of her exposed face and tail- had even miraculously (if evil things were capable of miracles) got their hellish little teeth and claws through the links in her mail.  It should not have been possible- and yet there were the lacerations (and the blood loss) to prove it.

Severan spared a glance for her recovering companions, revising her earlier, less-flattering assessments of them.  The sea-faring elf had more than held his own, using his outlandish harpoon to help defend Severan after the bats' first, critical strike.  It was laughable, now, to think that Severan had deliberately positioned herself in front of his slighter form when they originally entered the cave, concerned that his child-like enthusiasm was going to get him injured.  And the tiny halfling!  He had somehow launched himself through the air in a truly impressive feat of acrobatics, to finish off the last of the swarm that had targeted her.

You are teaching me about judging based on size, aren't You?  Severan thought to her god with a certain amount of irreverent irritation.  Why must you be so very practical with your lessons?  Wouldn't a divine revelation have served just as well?  Hissing with pain, she considered her options for healing.


Crossing the Finish Line

Praise be to Brutha, my team has crossed the official "finish line" (1,296,000 collective steps) with three days to spare.  Woo, go team!  Although let's be real, here- it's more like, "Woo, go half of my team!"  Because definitely only three of us were hitting the 8k/day goal.  But I think it's pretty awesome that two of us were spanking that goal with such enthusiasm that we managed to make up for the rest and not just finish but finish early!  Go over-achievers, go!

I am suuuuper excited not to be having to carry my phone around everywhere anymore.  Especially since I haven't worn anything with a skirt in like four weeks in my attempt to keep said phone in my pocket at all times.  All hail the return to cute work dresses!


The Boy With the Golden Wings

Once upon a time there was a beautiful green meadow ringed by gracious trees and bathed in laughing sunlight.  And in this magical place there lived a little boy with golden wings: a fairy prince.

He was too little yet to fly, but he would spread his wings and bathe them in the warm afternoon sun as he went about his little adventures, soaking up all the joy and love the natural world had to offer.
Because he knew that someday he would fly, and then his little adventures would become big, and he would need all the lovingkindness he could carry, to see him through to the end.


Stranger Danger

It took us a while, but we did finally get around to watching (and finishing) Stranger Things.  I'm sure it will come as exactly 0% of a surprise to find that we loved it.

There were many things that I appreciated about the show: from the pure aesthetic of the thing, to the craft involved in keeping it so perfectly 80s; from the gripping story-line to the outstanding performances; from the adorable rpg sequences to the commentary on the power of friendship.  And, of course, the wonderful things they did with the female characters, making it a truly feminist piece of art.  And yes, generally I would want to really dig down deep into the whole "here's how they treated the ladies like actual people," aspect of it:
Nancy has a best friend to save, and zero fucks to give about relationship drama.
but the truth is that it was not the stereotype-subversion of a female character that really made me stand up and cheer the loudest:
The hair you give your virginity to.
That's right, it was what they did with the obligatory 80's popular-douchebag-love-interest, Steve Harrington, that made me just respect the hell out of the creators of Stranger Things.

We all hated Steve at first sight, right?  We're supposed to.  He's that guy.  That arrogant jock guy the nerdy-yet-still-hot girl has to sleep with (or at least want to sleep with) before coming to her senses and falling in love with the sensitive-artist-best-friend-type-she's-been-overlooking-for-years.  And Steve does his best to live up to that stereotype, putting pressure on Nancy to skip studying for smoochin', breaking John's camera, and generally being a thoughtless dick.

But then (in an already wow-didn't-see-that-coming reversal) he gets his ass kicked by the sensitive artist.  Like, hard.  But what does he do?  Does he double-down on his dickishness with his dick friends, like we totally expect him to?

No, no he does not.  He realizes that hey- maybe he is the one with the problem.  And he starts to try to make things right the best he can.  And then?  Then he actually goes to John's house to apologize for being such a dick.

(Obviously his timing was absolute shit, but he did eventually stop his [understandable] freaking out and become genuinely useful.)

That made my chin hit my chest.

You see, it's pretty freaking easy to subvert young female stereotypes.  Just, like, make them not think about a boy for thirty seconds and you've done it.  Like shooting fish in a barrel, really.  And these days it's the cool thing to do, and everyone is doing it, and that is awesome, but not everyone is examining and combating the harmful male stereotypes (hello toxic masculinity), so I want to give props when I see it done, especially when it's done well.  Especially when the character in question is rewarded for acting like a person with a functioning brain and heart, and admitting their errors and working to redeem themselves.  He's not portrayed as weak or broken or any less attractive- he's just human, like the rest of us.

So yeah, lots and lots and lots to love about Stranger Things, including the arrogant jock.  Hells yeah, feminist television.



The Oathbreaker (The Second Draft)

 I had an idea for a story.  I started to write it.  Then I started to re-write it.  What follows is from that second pass.  I've since started re-writing it yet again, so you'll see the result of that in a few days (or more).


My mother was a wise woman, who taught me many things before she died.  First and foremost, she taught me those skills necessary to the running of a household, including the all-important art of spinning.  It was her favorite chore: not even a chore, to her mind, and after she was gone I spent many hours with the spindle that had once been hers, finding comfort in the familiar twist and drop.  It was these skills that ensured her daughter would grow to be a respectable woman of the village.

But because she was a wise woman, my mother also taught me the names of things.  The plants in the fields and woods, the stars in the sky, the secret emotions that ruled the men and women around us.  "To know the name of a thing, my daughter, is to have some measure of control over it," she would tell me.  "Never have truck with a thing who will not reveal its name, for surely only suffering will follow."

My father was a miller, and knew nothing of the secrets of the natural world, but his own set of skills ensured that we lived better than many of the families in our little corner of the kingdom.  Certainly we always had enough to pay the tax collector, and even have enough left over to let me keep and care for my own tiny flock of goats.  Their names, for I have just told you the important of names, were Hazel, Rowan, and Yew, and I loved them dearly.

Although I prized them more for their companionship than their wool, their wool was in fact quite lovely, and it was their wool that saved us when the mill-stone cracked.  Saved us, and cursed me.

With no millstone, my father was reduced to milling small amounts by hand until a new millstone could be delivered.  Milling by hand was a job anyone could do, however, and so few people felt the need to pay my father to do it.  And my father, while a very good miller, had no other wage-earning skills.  Purchasing our new stone took all of our silver reserves and more; the stone itself could not be delivered before the spring, but we were in danger of starving before that time.


Except that I went around the village, collecting straw, which people could not eat but my goats could and did.  And I kept them fat, and sang to them, and coaxed them by their names, and all that winter I brushed and brushed their gleaming coats, and the yarn I got from that wool was the finest I'd ever produced.  I sold it, for far more than my father would have earned milling, and we did not starve.

When the new millstone was delivered, my father, so proud and relieved that he could not bear it, made the mistake of taking one drink too many at the tavern.  And he said to a group of his friends, men whose wives had given me straw in our time of need, but not meat, "Yes, indeed, my daughter spun that straw right into gold!"

A stranger down the bar cocked his head at this.  "Excuse me dear man, did I hear you correctly?  Your daughter spun gold... from straw?"

The tavern erupted into laughter.

"That she did!" bellowed my father, those around him cheering in support.  "How else do you suppose a humble miller like myself could afford buy a drink for every one of his friends?"  Said friends cheered even more loudly at this, and the stranger was forgotten in the revelry.

But he did not forget my father.  And he did not forget me.


The Auxillary Livingroom

Wherein I did a lot of longhand writing this evening


Sweet Sassy Mud-Lassy

Several weeks ago, my friend Sam sent me a message saying, "I think I want to do this!!" and a link to this place.

I checked it out, and it looked pretty intense, but who am I to say no to adventure?

"I'm in!" I replied, and also invited Kayla along.  We got it on the schedule for a date and time that worked for all of us, and that date was today, and that time was this afternoon.

I woke up this morning to rain- real rain, not just the sort of drizzling mist we usually get in the upper-left corner of the country.  And it was scheduled to continue for the entire day.  But as Sam put it, "...it would be fun to run it in the rain!"

And again, who am I to say no to adventure?

We showed up, and after a brief delay because someone forgot both their waiver form and their cash, and ended up having to to sign the bottom of someone else's form and then do a PayPal transaction (me: it was me, and I am the worst) we got a quick tour of the obstacle portion of the course.  Because apparently it's like a 1.5 mile trail run followed by obstacles.

The rain meant that we were the only people there, which was fantastic, since my ankle is definitely still injured (Kayla and I channeled WFR and taped it up ahead of time) (also for real I think I'm going to go back to the doctor because it shouldn't still hurt) and I had plans to unashamedly walk the entire thing.
Wet, but not yet muddy.

We didn't actually walk the entire thing.  We started off at a little jog, which we stopped as soon as we were out of sight of the start, but we kept it to a pretty brisk hike.  It was gorgeous, but also challenging enough that I straight-up just scooted down a steep hill on my butt on multiple occasions, and did mention there's a stretch where you're wading upstream?  Me and my long legs went first so the others could gauge the depth.  I regretted my pants.  (But not my secure hiking shoes!)  And then when we re-emerged from the woods we jogged a little again.  But it's hard to jog with a couple extra pounds of mud clinging to your feet...

The obstacle course was a lot of fun- the rain definitely made it a lot scarier, and I totally opted to skip a few of the obstacles because of it (and my ankle: I didn't do anything I'd have to really jump down from).  And a couple of the obstacles required us to work as a team, because none of us was fit enough to do it solo, but I actually really liked that we worked together.  And I liked that we all went at the same pace and cheered one another on, and I liked that even tho' I mostly was not super-competent, I did kick ass at the traversing obstacle.  Yay rock climbing skills haven't totally atrophied!

(Speaking of rock climbing skills, I also had a few moments on another obstacle where I had to use my "calming breath" technique.  I was glad I'd developed that little skill.)
Triumphant!  And muddy!  And SOAKED THROUGH. (Also damn, look at our guns!)

Anyway we finished the whole thing in under 80 minutes, which as far as I'm concerned is impressive as hell for a trio of ladies who walked most of it (but then again, we also "Noped" right out of a few of the obstacles, and didn't do any burpees, so take our time with a grain of salt...) and also definitely earned me a nice glass of something this evening.
The Last Taste of Sweet Victory.


Wasting Wishes on the Breeze

No one knows when the Wishes first started manifesting.  Thirty years ago?  Fifty?  Really, the wonder is that anyone put it together at all: touch a floating bit of fluff, a Wish gets granted.

Just not yours.

People reacted in different ways, of course- in the beginning there were those who touched every single wish they came across, self-styled Saviors attempting to bring as much joy as possible to others.  Except it soon became apparent that the Wish was granted not for the Wisher, but for whoever touched it.  Which, of course, led to a different sort of people touching as many as possible in an attempt to bring great joy- or power, or... other things... to themselves.  Some are no better than any other sort of addict, always chasing that next hit of the supernatural.  Others avoid the Wishes at all cost, for they believe that most people Wish neither wisely nor well.

Most people fall somewhere in the middle- they might touch one or two in their lifetime, out of boredom, or curiosity.  And some touch them out of desperation, hoping against hope that someone out there has wished for the same thing they did.

I touched one, in my youth.  And now I get to wear beautiful dresses every day.  Short pretty frocks and long elegant gowns, sparkling fluffy concoctions and skirts that swirl and twirl like a dream.  A child's Wish, obviously, but it put me off Wish-touching, because I realized how lucky I was to get off so easily.  Because once a Wish is granted, it stays granted.  Even if the grantee in question grows up to be a mechanic who has to stuff her dresses into coveralls.

I'm just glad I like dresses.

I sometimes wonder what drove that unknown child to Wish hard enough for it to manifest.  The scenarios that come to minds are... not pleasant.  And I sometimes wonder who got my Wish- because I was one of those desperate, hopeful fools who thought that maybe, just maybe, I could save my sister.

Somewhere out there is a person whose siblings will be in perfect health for the rest of their lives, and they probably don't even realize it.  They might not even have a sister.

But I hope they do.


Dark Bling

It's been a good week for Lady Time.  Last Friday I hung out with my Katie, on Saturday I spent the day with my dear friend Anna, and today I got together with the so-lovely Laurel to get a manicure, and then picnic in the park.

Now, I haven't had a manicure in years- and in fact I haven't even had polish on my fingernails since before Neeps was born, what with his tendency to chew on my fingers- so I was pretty excited by the prospect.  Especially since, seeing as how I'm not climbing much (::coughatallcough::) these days, I actually have really nicely shaped nails.

As Laurel and I walked to the nail salon, catching one another up on our respective lives, a small portion of my brain was running down what color I might want.  I decided I would go autumnal, maybe a grey or possibly a rich copper.  I do love a dark grey nail (so sophisticated!), but I was also feeling the need for something flashy, because I'm me and I love autumn and that calls for celebration!

In the end they had the most amazing dark-grey-shot-through-with-iridescent-glitter, just exactly as though the Universe was looking out for me.  I feel very Magical now.
Seriously it's so awesome I sort of wanted to steal the bottle.
Bonus: it matches my mermaid bikini!



this is what we'll do
we'll start
we'll wake up
fifteen minutes earlier
(just fifteen!)
so that we can do
one sun salutation
(just one!)
as our son slumbers on
and we will ignore
that part of ourselves that says
"Yes but..."
and tries to fill us
with feelings of inadequacy.
because it doesn't matter
what we used to be
able to do
what matters now
is that we are starting again
because lately we have become
very good
at handling small things.


The Duelist

(sketched at work, naturally)
The bodice/overcoat thing and boots are made of a stiffer leather than the trousers, bindings, and gloves.  The "sleeves" are a leather supple enough to flutter a bit, but also offers more protection than the typical silks of her peers.  The gem at her throat is magical, and her earrings are gilded bone.  Haven't quite worked out what, exactly, her weapon is, but it's sort of a cross between a rapier and a cane.


On the Harlyquin Glorybower (in Autumn)

dark wings land
on the gnarled branch
of a half-dead tree

i admire the way
his black gloss
is stippled by white

i imagine paint
flicked from the tip
of a flexing brush

a new arrival
interrupts my thoughts
wings invisible

quick brown kisses
for the bright pink buds
zipping in and out

i watch her flit
torn between delight
and sympathy

she'll find no nourishment there
they're seed pods
dressed up in sister's petals

alone once more
my freckled friend hops
from one branch to the next

his hauteur
shrugged off in an instant
turned to fluff


The Doll in the Garden of My Mind

It is fascinating to me, how hard a brain will work to protect a heart.

Two of the books I uncovered at my mom's house were The Doll in the Garden: A Ghost Story, by Mary Downing Hahn, and When the Dolls Woke, by Marjorie Filley Stover.  I remembered the story lines of both of them perfectly clearly.  I also distinctly remember preferring Woke.  In fact, I was a little puzzled that I'd kept Garden, but I decided to go ahead and reread it, and in fact to reread it before Woke, so as to save the best for last.

And so I started reading.

(Twenty-seven-year-old spoilers to follow)

I soon discovered that, for all I could tell you every little plot twist that happened in the book, I had completely forgotten every tiny detail relating to the fact that the main character's father had recently died of cancer.  It was just sort of... removed from my memory, whole-cloth, like you might cut out a star from a piece of construction paper.  Even as I read that he'd died of cancer, I still didn't remember the revelations that would come later in the story- namely that the girl had overwhelming feelings of guilt over being too afraid to kiss her father right before he died, because of all the tubes and machines.

I may have started bawling in the break room.

And I realized... this book probably had a massive impact on how I handled my dad's illness.

Looking back at that time, I'm always sort of vaguely baffled by some of the surprisingly mature and self-aware decisions I made.  For example, when I achieved menarche while visiting him in the hospital in Mississippi, I realized we didn't have time for me to play the stereotypical embarrassed preteen.  I knew in my gut that it would make him happy to know that his daughter was becoming a woman, and so I told him- and every other adult in the room.  And there were a lot of them.  And I think my subsequent, "Feels like I'm wearing a diaper," grumbling brought everyone a certain welcomed levity in the midst of a very dark time.

It was a strangely cold and logical decision for a not-quite-thirteen-year-old to make, and I've wondered, in the intervening years, where I got the awareness to make it.

Now I think perhaps that reading Garden when I was younger showed me how terrible regret could be, especially when it came to the death of a parent.  And so I took that lesson and tried very hard to make sure that I wouldn't have any.

And then my brain just went and sterilized my memory.

If I'm being honest, I don't really remember much around the time that my dad got sick and died.  It wasn't that long a span- he was diagnosed in February and died in November.  Nine months.

(The irony.)

Anyway, my point is that there's more or less a whole year of my life that is mostly missing- I have the occasional highlight, like the menstruation story, or watching MTV for the first time at my great-aunt's house, or standing outside the funeral home with my two best friends- but for the most part... it's been clipped away, just like the dad in Garden.

And yet I kept the book, perhaps because somewhere deep in my psyche I knew it was valuable, knew it was worth saving.  It makes me wonder if, someday, I'll get the missing pieces of 1994 back, too.

It makes me wonder if I want to.


Sharing is Caring

 Reasons My 10-Month-Old Offers Me His Food:

1.  He is a sweet and loving child who wants to make sure I eat something, too.
2.  He thinks something tastes good and feels I should try it.
3.  He finds it hilarious to offer me food and then withdraw it, giggling, when I go to take a bite.
4.  He sees what I have to eat, thinks it looks better than what he has, and is hoping I'll trade.
5.  He is done eating but doesn't want to be cleaned up yet.
6.  He thinks something tastes terrible and figures that's the best way to get rid of it.
Clever Creature


Ladies' Night Out

Summon my husband.  Hand off baby.  Climb up stairs.  Dig through closet.  Try on skirt.  Try another skirt.  A third skirt.  Screw skirt wearing.  Hold up dress.  Eye forgiving fabric.  It might work.  Pull it on.  Neckline too deep.  Hemline too short.  Looking damn fine.  Hell yes dress.  Sex appeal: check.

Put up hair.  Apply eye makeup.  Dramatic black wings.  A pale mouth.  Contrast is queen.  What is missing?  Digging through jewelry.  A glittering necklace.  Drawing the gaze.  Emphasizing my assets.  Intriguing the viewer.  Add leather boots.  Knee-high, combat.  Tough-girl-stance.  Look-don't-touch.

Out the door.  Driving through darkness.  Parking by work.  Katie meets me.  Wearing a dress.  A good choice.  We walk blocks.  Alternating light: shadow.  Where to go?  So many choices.  Brightly lit bar.  A welcoming atmosphere.  We order drinks.  Drink and talk.  Talk and drink.  We are women.  We are sisters.  We are friends.  We are complete.  In ourselves, complete.

Two drinks each.  Maybe too much?  We are old.  But also young.  Let's seek adventure!  We walk blocks.  Talk for blocks.  Walk and talk.  Talk and walk.  She walks barefoot.  We find mystery.  We remember ourselves.  Back to cars.  Long hugs goodnight.  Back to husbands.  Back to babies.  Back to responsibility.

But recharged, now.

(Write a paragraph with sentences that are no longer than three words each.)


Nice People Everywhere

Today Neeps and I walked to the grocery store to get something or other, and on our way back we fell into step with a Hispanic woman who was also walking home from the store, and we had a lovely conversations predicated on my child's friendliness.

This is not the first such interaction he as lead me into (not even on that outing), with his grinning and his waving and his general perfection, and I feel certain it will not be the last.  And every time we say goodbye to the person who has struck up a conversation with us, I say to my son, "See?  There are nice people everywhere."

I want him to grow up believing that.  I want him to be of the opinion that most people, given the chance, are just friends you haven't met yet, and that friendly conversations with strangers, wherein you treat one another like real, actual people and not just statistics, should be the norm.

It's funny how raising a child is sort of... bringing me back to my best self.  I feel like we can get so run down, so tired of trying all the time and getting nothing back, and so we get lazy and even shut down because what does it matter anymore?  We're not doing any active harm, we're just... not engaging.  But knowing he's watching me, learning from me and how I handle life... well, to be horribly cliched about it, it's forcing me to be the change I wish to see in the world.  It's revitalizing me, reminding me that there is goodness in the world and it's up to me to acknowledge and increase and contribute to it, not just withdraw when I get too overwhelmed with badness.  I have to give him this sort of running head-start before he launches into the world for his solo-flight, so that maybe he'll be able to go longer than I did before he gets sad and broken.  Maybe he'll never get sad and broken at all.  Maybe he'll just always be one of those nice, friendly people that smile and say hello, soaring gloriously on into the sunset.

I sure hope so.


Where the Light Once Was

It's past nine o'clock at night, and the sun is well down.  I am walking through the neighborhood, wrapped in my light fleece, letting my mind think what it will.  The weight of a knife is heavy in my right hand, clutched inside my pocket, because it makes my husband feel better for me to carry it when I walk alone.  I don't think I need it (in fact I suspect that carrying it makes me more afraid) but I do wish there was more light.  I would feel safer with more light.  There are street lights, yes (when they don't switch off at my approach) but I cannot help but notice there is a profound lack of porch lights.  The city is doing its part, but not the people.

Why? I wonder, passing by house after house like so many dark, empty faces staring right through me, refusing to see anyone or anything.  It's frightening because it feels so closed off, like there's nowhere to run if the monsters come.  Don't come here- there is no safety for you here, no succor.  Keep running until they run you into the ground, because we will not see you in the darkness, we will not hear your screams.

Why? I wonder again, increasing my pace.  Why on earth would anyone not turn their light on at night?  Don't they know how much friendlier it makes the neighborhood?  How much more welcoming?  Or (this being a less economically-advantaged area) are they just past hoping for protection?

I see my house in the distance- my porch light is on, a warm, welcoming glow in the suddenly menacing night.  It will stay on all night, keeping vigil against the monsters in my mind.


The next day I turn to social media, asking why or why not people keep their porch light on all night.  The answers are many, and varied:

-No, because moths and light pollution.
-Yes, because we have had a lot of break-ins in our neighborhood and the police said it was so dark and easy because no one kept their porch lights on.
-Yes because our door is hidden by bushes and I don't like forgetting to turn it on and coming home in the dark.
-I think it's a waste personally but if it makes you feel safer just put an energy efficient bulb in it and leave it on.
-Yes, because I have unresolved issues of being a "Motel 6".
- No, because the light burned out and it's impossible to reach without risking my life
-We leave ours on all the time because we have a light sensor on it, so it comes on when it's dark enough. It's an energy-efficient bulb.
-Yes, everyone on our street does. We haven't had any problems, that I'm aware of. I think it not only can be a deterrent, but it looks nice.
-No, cost and there is a street light across the street and it does a great job.
-Only turn it on if I'm going to be late coming home or expecting someone after dark. We have annoying dogs to deter break ins.
- I don't. I'm in the burbs with street lights so the only time I turn it on is when I'm expecting someone. Also don't want to attract zombies.
-I don't really see the point in leaving them on, sometimes papa does sometimes he doesn't. I only leave the lights on if I know I'm leaving and wont get back until its dark
-Yes...half out of safety and half out of the fact that driving through a neighborhood with no porch lights on doesn't feel very welcoming
-Yes. LED bulbs plus solar panels makes it a no-brainer
-My parents leave it on for me when I work late, but I turn it off when I come in
-I have mine on a timer that goes on at dusk and shuts off at dawn. It's peace of mind more than anything else.
-If I have my way, yes. My husband in a penny-pincher and turns it off when he gets home. But I turn it on again when I let the cat in for the night.
-Yes! Makes me feel safer. I use energy efficient bulbs
-Yes, some people have their cars messed with, but we have had no problems with our light on. Also when I walk in the evening I enjoy it much more with lights on, otherwise the whole neighborhood is so dark. I don't have a dog to walk with.
-I'm all about keeping it on all night or having a motion detector. Because safety. As much my own when walking in unexpectedly late than anything.  Also. I just feel a porch light off at night says, "Oh yeah. I'm definitely in bed now."
-I do when: 1) I expect someone to come over, and then forget to turn it off after they leave 2) I'm home alone
-Yes, for safety. There have been some sketchy things by us.
-Yes, because we're the only house in the cul-de-sac that does. And, well it's creepy out there if we don't! Plus, it sends an unsaid warning that yes, there are people in this house . . . after having a break in, I'll never leave the lights off again.

It gives me food for thought.

(But most importantly, how can I make a story about porch lights and what they protect us from?)



I baked zucchini bread on Sunday (after the waterfront), and as I did it I griped about not having a sifter.

Today my sweet mother-in-law went to a vintage shop, and remedied that situation.
PLUS it's cute.


Dat Zap

It's interesting to see how various people translate babies' sounds and gestures.  For example, Neeps has recently started sticking out a finger and making a sound that I've been translating as, "Dat?" as in, "What/who is that?"  As such, I've been responding by pointing to whatever it is I think he's pointing at (pointing being a rather inexact science for 10-month-olds) and saying, "What's that?  That's a tree/bush/wall/etc." or, "Who's that?  That's your daddy/Oma/Isis the dog/etc."

But then we went to visit family, and they were delighted that Neeps was playing "zap", a game familiar to them from their own baby.  Which is to say, when Neeps stuck out his finger and made his noise, they would touch it with their own finger and say, "Zap!" in mimicry, and general giggling would ensue.

Obviously there is no right or wrong in this- babies may or may not have an initial meaning for their flails/gibbering, but we train them to mean what we think they mean based on our responses.  And that's fascinating.  It's incredible to watch babies learn to be human or, as Nathan would say, self-programing meat-computers.

Not to mention what it tells us about our own psyches, and what we find value in communicating.  Makes one wonder if there's not a bit of a subconscious-memory-thing going on, of our own time as infants, and what we meant when we did those things.  Or perhaps just what our parents translated it.

Curiouser and curiouser.


Walking on the Waterfront

In an effort to boost my step count (and yet not overly stress my ankle) I took Neeps for a stroll down on the waterfront while Nathan was at church this morning.  I waited until nap time, thinking it would be quite fine for him to sleep in the fresh air.  We started on one end and went all the way to the other end, past that end and into downtown, up and into the farmer's market, which was surprisingly empty, but I chalk that up to the storm that was threatening yet never manifested.  Then we looped around the park and came back.

Throughout it all my son stubbornly stayed awake, right up until the last half mile (of 3.5 in total).
We sneer at your nap schedule.

As such, most of his sleeping was done in the not-so-fresh air of the car.  Ah well.


Sweet Stench of Victory

I open the door of the Forester to start loading up for our mini-road-trip, and the stench hits me like brick to the nose.

"Oh my god," I gag, almost dropping the diaper bag.  "Why does our car smell so awful?"  I snort to clear my nasal passages.  "Nathan!" I yell.  "What did you do to our car?"

"What?" he wanders down off the porch, arms laden with camera-gear.  "What are you talking about?"

"It smells like... like..." I gesture impotently, and he opens another door.

"Melon," he says, confused.

"Huh, yeah,"  (I should note here that while I do enjoy eating melons, I do not generally care for their scent, and it was at this point that I realized I may have been over-estimating how disgusting the smell was to the average person.)  I glare at him anyway.  "Why does our car smell like melon?"

"I don't know," he seems genuinely puzzled.  "Maybe Neeps dropped a piece?"

"We've never given him melon in the car," I am now opening the remaining doors and scowling at floorboards, looking for the nasty little culprit.  Nathan opens the hatch in the back, dutifully checking around the cargo area.  "Did you buy a melon while you were grocery-shopping yesterday?" I ask.

"Well yeah," he says, "But it's not in the car!"

"Well it's not inside," I say.  "Because I unloaded those groceries, and there was no melon."

"Babe I don't' know what to tell you.  There is no melon in this car."

"I would bet you money there is a melon in this car!" I yell as I run into the house to prove that there's no melon in there, either.  (Me being willing to bet money is a sign of just how certain I am, because generally speaking, I don't endanger the money.)

I am correct.  There is no melon in the house.  But even as I've been going over counters and into fridges, Nathan has been diligently re-checking the car, because he knows my nose doesn't lie.  And yet still- no melon.  We stand there, staring at one another, at a complete loss.


"Oh crap! I know where it is!"  Nathan scrambles back around to the cargo area and pulls out our stroller.  My stomach sinks as I realize what must have happened, and sure enough, there is a Suspicious Bulge in the middle of the folded-up contraption.

"Oh man," I whine, envisioning crushed, sticky, disgusting-smelling melon all over our lovely stroller, and the cold, cold hosing-down that is sure to follow.  But when Nathan unfolds it we discovered we have been Spared: the melon is merely bruised, not broken.

"Well," I say, satisfied to have been Proven Right and perhaps wishing I'd actually gotten my husband to wager a few bucks, "I guess we'll be bringing this with us to the party."


She is Not a Tame Wife

I don't like the word domesticated, as applied to myself.  I like the idea of being a Wild Creature.

But I'm not.

I'm not a Wild Creature anymore.  I'm married.  I'm a mother.  I have to consider more than just my own selfish instincts.  And so perhaps it's time for me to come to terms with the word domesticated.

But then I remember that cats are, technically, "domesticated".  Cats who don't come when you call, but will curl up with you in bed and keep you warm.  Cats who will put a bloody corpse in your bed to show that they love you.

Domesticated, but not tame.



I had a conversation with a friend tonight, about the way you feel when the sky stretches out so endless above you that you might just drown among the stars that you will never, ever reach, and how insignificant that makes you feel.

Apparently that feeling of insignificance triggers different responses in the two of us.  For me there's a sort of desperate longing, but also a comfort.  Like it's all going to be okay, because in the end, I'm only a tiny tiny part of a much greater whole that I can never hope to understand, and I have faith that there is a Pattern there.  For my friend it is sheer despair, a sort of what's-the-point-of-anything*.

I wish I could make that better for them.  But one of the unfortunate parts of growing up is realizing that you can't actually save anyone from their own demons- there is no way to love someone healthy, no such thing as a white knight who can rescue someone from Depression.  Only the afflicted can fight their battles, and the most anyone else can do is stand by them, offering support and encouragement and ass-kicking as needed.

And then try not to blame themselves if the war is lost.

*(Of course, that's not to say I haven't also had that reaction at various points in my life.  But by and large, I think I come down on the, "It's going to be okay," side.)