October the Third

Why, hello there Bottom. I was wondering when you would show up. How interesting. It seems being in a freefall for long enough begins to make hitting the rocks sound like a release- if only just so everything will STOP for a moment and I can pull my stomach from my trachea and shove it back down to near where it once belonged.

I say “once belonged” because really, with three babies and emotional eating, my stomach seems to belong spread all over my whole body. But that aside, I do want it dislodged from my throat.

21 months. Twenty one months. Twenty. One. Months. twentyonemonths.

And the truth is, it’s been hard for longer than that- that number, 21 months,  is just the amount of  days tears hours aches sorrows since the job was lost. January of ’08. Yup. Almost two years. 641 days. 15,348 hours. Give or take. You know how it is. Hold on- I feel a Rent medley coming on…

If you think this is a lead up to a happy ending, Ha! I’m afraid I’m going to smash you on my rocks. Nope. No happy endings here.  Got lotsa pain. Want some? It’s free. I’ve got tears, and anger, and sadness, and anxiety. Any of those sound good? I’ve got 15K in hours of hurt logged. I’m tapping out.

Houston. Houston, Houston, Houston. I’m tapping my worn ruby slippers together baby…. take me home.

Oh, and it’s my birthday today.

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

Music wasn’t a big deal in the house of my childhood. But when I found a vinyl copy of Simon and Garfunkel mixed in with the Emmylou Harris and CCR, it became a very big deal to me. Using my parents old turntable lying on my bedroom floor, I perched the brittle magical disk on the little pole, and waited for it to drop, aways entranced by the process, as the needle slowly made it’s way over and found the grove. Static and crackle, the needle picking up bits of dust as is scrolled along the near invisible acoustic track- yes, I remember those days.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

Paul Simon says the song is about people being unable to love. I played it over and over. Long ago, my mother leaned against the door of my room with a dishtowel flung over her shoulder and told me that Simon and Garfunkel, and this song in particular, always made her think of me. Even before I discovered it. It still matters to me that she shared her wistful observation- and it helps me understand her better. It must have been confusing for a headstrong, matter-of-fact woman to have a daydreaming, emotional artist for a child. I love her for giving me those small touchstones.

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

Darkness is my old friend. It’s thick, familiar hands are comfortable and ease my aches. Daylight is harsh and severe, throwing contrast into stark relief, and my eyes sear and shy away. I inhabit the nether-lands, time between day and night, when the sun lowes in the heavy sky and darkness is gently pushing with velvety hands. Make haste, be gone, it’s my turn. Healing happens in the dark. Seeds sprout in the dark. Babies grow in the dark- safe, before they are prepared to meet the light.

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sounds of silence

Now I softly pad around my house while my babies sleep upstairs. This is the darkest period of my life- and despite the occasional scary things in the dark, the darkness is still my friend. Only this time, I’m looking for the pale streaks of dawn, pushing back just as gently on the velvety night, that I know surly will come.

From Where I Stand

2005-07-15-two-treesSaturday. Fall is coming, and it’s more than a hint on the edge of the wind. Wisps of gold curl around the lacy edges of the topmost leaves on our swinging tree out front. The breeze never really quiets completely, slowing to a gentle tickle but never still. Rain has soaked our valley, only to create a sauna when the sun later peeked out and dried the puddles into the heavy air. Woodsmoke floated over the cooling breeze last night, and that was the humdinger- that’s when I knew Fall had moved from sensory peripheral glimpses, forward to dancing a jig right beside the thorny, daring, late summer roses.

Next comes the harvest. Apples and pears and pumpkins, heavy and solid in their bushel baskets as we pull our wagons through the orchards. Combines will be threshing the golden rolling prairies of wheat as we wind our way home from the u-pick farms on the bluff north of town. I will have to shield my eyes from the low, lazy topaz sun as I once again explain the process of wheat becoming bread. When we get home, Bean will be bursting with excitement to get out the grinder and make some of his own flour, to stir into bread- nothing short of the master alchemist, to a five-year old. He will chew on the raw, yeasty dough with delight, while Jeffrey and Abby wash the tools for making applesauce.

School will start, and I will have begged my mother to help with buying the kids some shoes and things for their classrooms. Beanie will begin his days at the AIM Kindergarten School, joyfully riding the short bus as part of his therapy. Jeffrey will have a new teacher and all the adventure awaiting the perfection of boyhood that is the age of third-grade. Abby will be at home with me every day, probably feeling a little lost at first without her brothers to constantly lead her astray and into mischief.  Perhaps we’ll work on knitting, or simple sewing skills. I know she’s only three, but her curiosity is insatiable. Then again, maybe she’ll finally have the courage to become master of her own bladder. The girl does things on her own timetable.

David will be at home, too. Twenty months. How much longer? Can I survive? Can I hold myself together more unknown months ahead? Am I ready for a second set of holidays with no job, no income, no prospects and very little hope left? Today? I cannot answer. I don’t know. I’m tired. My shoulders are weary and ache, and I want to set the whole load down and walk away. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be- husband and wife. Man and woman. We’re not meant to be together all day, every day, forever and forever. There must be space in our togetherness, lest our roots tangle, our shade harm the other.

What of me? I don’t know. I want to run. I don’t know. I stand still, and I don’t know.

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Staycation Blues

It looks like I’m not going to get to see my family down in California this summer, and I’m feeling pretty sad. Obviously plane tix are out of the question, and Beanie just cannot handle another 20+ hour drive. Despite any tension with family, I love them terribly much, and the idea of not seeing them makes me really sad. I haven’t told the kids yet- they are used to heading down and seeing family each summer, and I know they’ll be as sad as I am…

Please let things get better soon… Please?

Rocks on the Bottom

My writing has been phoned-in lately. It’s been uninspired and insipid, and full of filler. I’m sorry for that. I really am. I take pride in writing, and trying to write well, and sometimes, I do. But lately, I just don’t have anything. I care. I want to do well, but well… things are too… hard.

Life is just so freaking hard. A year and a half with no job. Over 300 resumes sent out, and you cannot even imagine what my husband’s self image is. I also cannot begin to tell you what this has done to our relationship. I can see, all to easily, how marriages crumble under this kind of stress. Some days, I want out too. Some days I want to just pack up and leave. Or make him. And I tell myself that is not the solution, and I don’t really want to do that to our family.  And so I pull myself back from the edge. But each time it gets harder.

Things with my family are hard too. I cannot share too much about what’s going on here, because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that family remembers. I don’t want to tell my family how much things suck, and how much I ache, so I hold it in.

I’ve been a bad friend to a lot of people too. I’m so far behind on thanking people for their kindnesses, I don’t even know where to begin. So I do nothing. Paralyzed. My kids never even called Grandma to thank her for their Valentines gifts. And that is all my fault. I didn’t remember to remind them. That’s not like me at all. And the water rises higher…

Spring is poking it’s head from under the icy quilt of winter, but as each month marches on, it just means another mortgage payment we have to find a way to pay. And the stock market big whigs fly off to Barbados on our tax dollars. I feel ill.

I say things I don’t mean. I try and catch my breath, and then snap at the kids for needing me when I can’t breathe. It’s not their fault. They hardly know what’s going on- or maybe I’m deluding myself, and they know exactly what’s going on. Mama is sad. Daddy is grumpy. What more does a kid need to understand?

Once, when I was a girl, I drifted into the deeper part of the pool. Never a strong swimmer, I didn’t appreciate being in water over my head. The clear deeper blue and cooler currents gave away my drifting and I pressed my legs down, reaching and stretching and yearning for the solid touch of the bottom. Arms swaying, nose bobbing barely in the air, the fluid rolling edge of the water circling my upturned face, I could almost feel the rough blue surface, just beyond reach. Almost…

I know it’s there. I just have to give something up… only this time, I don’t know what I have to give. The rolling silver edge of the water is all around me, and I can’t figure out what I need more- to breathe, or to touch the Bottom.

Soft White Underbelly

Sometimes, when I’m very still, I can see my heartbeat. It happened this morning, on the potty. Doesn’t that figure? The only time I get to sit still these days is when I’m peeing. It’s the silver lining, I suppose.

I’m really struggling with feeling wiped-out. I have so very much to do, and not enough hours in the day to do it all. My kids keep asking why there are no presents under the tree, and my pat answer is to wait until we get to grandma’s next week; yet, I swallow hard and gloss over the fact that there really are no presents under our tree.

The kids have been watching me make things all week. I have gifts done for my mom, my sister-in-law, my nephew, Mo, and two other friends. I still have to make things for about six other people, and I have three days to do it. Plus another friend is moving to Japan tomorrow, and I really want to see her, and have something for her- I don’t yet.

Remember how both my sewing machines broke at the same time? Well, my dentist’s wife came by the other day (she’s a quilter too) and brought me her machine, and told me to take mine in to be repaired and she and Mr. Dentist would pick up the bill. I want to be prideful and not take their help, but the truth is, I desperately need my sewing machines. Pride is such a bitter dish. But what an awesome dentist, eh? That’s some service.

I’ve been invited to several holiday luncheons, but I just can’t carve out the space. Plus, I’m cooking lunch for 20 on Wednesday at the Bishop’s Storehouse. I adore being at the BSH. I’m happy to go cook. I’m a little stressed because we’re leaving at o’dark-thirty that night/morning, and I have all that to contend with, but I know I love serving anyway.

We had our first real snow last night, and it’s really cold today. By real snow, I mean we got about an inch. I know. That hardly counts. It’s not even enough to play in. But that’s alright- you all know how I feel about playing in the snow? It hasn’t changed. I just would like the real snow to hold out until we drive over the mountains, if that wouldn’t be too much to ask…

I’m very excited about having Christmas at my mom’s. We haven’t been there for Christmas since Bean was a tiny newborn, and Jeffrey was two. Five years? Yeah, that’s a long time.

So I’m not sending out cards, I’m not doing any baking, I’m not shopping or buying any presents, I haven’t decorated besides the tree and the creche- it hardly feels like the Holidays. Hopefully, when I get to mom’s, that will all wash away. Do we ever get too old to want our moms? I’m on the darkish side of my thirties, and I still want my mom, I want her to hug me and tell me it’s all going to be OK. I want to sit in her kitchen with the comforting smells and sounds of home, and feel safe and loved. I want to see her familiar hands making cookies, and wrapping presents and playing with my kids. I want my mom.

Hail to the Prophet

Gordon B. Hinckley, the president and prophet of the Mormon church, passed away tonight shortly after 7 p.m., in his apartment in Salt Lake, surrounded by his family. He was 97 years old.

As much as I love him, I don’t feel sad- other than for missing him and his sweet words- because I know where he is, and I know Sister Hinckley was waiting, with jubilation and joy, to hold him again. We should all be so blessed.

Sept 11, 2007

Can you beleive it’s been six years already? The memories are still as vivid as the deep blue of the New York sky. How does one commemorate such a day? There was no one I  knew in the Towers or on a plane that day, but that doesn’t matter- any one of them could have been a friend, a loved one- and in fact, they all were, to someone. It seems inappropriate to let the day pass without acknowledging the loss. The loss of life- and the loss of innocence.

For me, I will never forget. I will tell my oldest son, who was 13 days old that morning, how I sat on the couch in the pre-dawn light, holding him at my breast and trembling with fear and astonishment. The tears rolled down my face and dropped into his red newborn hair, and I wondered into what kind of world had I brought this child.

This morning, again in the pre-dawn light, as I put my husband on an airplane for a business meeting- we made uneasy jokes about flying today. We kissed goodbye at the curbside check-in; in my rearview mirror, I watched him enter the terminal- and went home to wait for his call to tell me had safely landed.

How the world has changed.

I grieve and offer my prayers, especially today, for all the families, all the souls, that were forever changed by the actions of that day.  I also offer a special prayer for the soldiers, whatever your politics, who daily bear out the consequences and fall-out of that day. God be with all of you.


Gently and tentatively, like someone who has been abused and beaten, I poke my head from the wreckage of this week. If I move to quickly, I fear drawing attention to myself and iring the FluGods to throw yet more my way.

The rhythmic thump and bump of the dryer sets the tempo of our house this morning,  and the washer humms and whirrrs as it ever so slowly and diligently chews though the mountain of towels, sheets and knotted clothes. Thinking on the  miracle of modern laundry machines, I consider them quite possibly a tender mercy of the Lord.

Sounds of my children float over the monitor, and gone are the painful noises of the last week, the spaces filled in with chirping, warbling, silver laughter. I hear my husband playing with Abby, growling and tickling her, as her giggling rise and fall with the bubbles he blows on her belly.

The best laid plans were laid waste this week. The holiday away was pushed aside, along with a great deal of disappointment, as I submitted my will to the needs of my family. It was hard as rocks, but I know I did the right thing. To everything there is a season, and all that.

Part of me wants to kick and cry like my children do- but I wanted certain things. I wanted my weekend away, I wanted to be with friends and play at being a grown up, intellectual for just the weekend. I wanted to have dinner uninterrupted. I wanted to pretend barf and poop were not major players in my life. I wanted. I wanted

And it just doesn’t matter what I wanted.

A big part of being a mother is subjugating what you want to the needs of others. I’m not talking unhealthy martyrdom- I’m talking the reality of life with small children who cannot care for themselves- who haven’t the faintest idea what to even do for the needs of their sick bodies. Children who cannot change diapers, clean or even feed themselves. All of these are needs, and they surely supersede any want I may have.

Certainly my husband is a capable, caring and wonderful dad. He’s been folding laundry and changing beds right along with me- he cancelled a business trip to facilitate my planned weekend away. Neither of us got what we had planned.

So here I am. I have three children and have been a mother for five years. And I finally understand what that means.


Elton John is running through my head, last bars from the madman across the water, haunting singing about the smell of woodsmoke rising…

What is it about memories and smells? Can anything evoke strong, long forgotten memories more deeply or vividly than an unexpected scent?

White Shoulders perfume, and I’m six again, spending the night at my aunts apartment up the peninsula- she has a big yellow cat with one eye, and a couple of dogs, and her antique bed smelled of lemon oil and sun-aged oak…

Yesterday I opened Jeffrey’s lunch box, and was bowled back to second grade, trying to trade my lunch, sitting next to Nelam and wanting my pencil to have no teeth marks on it, like Renee.

Oil of Olay- and I am in my grandma’s bathroom, sitting on the floor watching her put on her make-up. There are wind chimes on the lady next door’s house, and the tinkle floats in through the open window… the sound of wind-chimes always makes me feel lonely.

 Tonight we lit our first fire of the season, and the smell of woodsmoke floated through the neighborhood, tendrils of smoke brought me my memories. I am four, and we are at a friend’s house. It is an old house, they are re-building and there is no indoor plumbing yet. The parents are all laughing by the fire outside, and they have a big galvanized apple-bobbing barrel they are heating water in… me and the other children are going to have baths, and it’s the only way to get warm water. Pancakes are cooking on the black iron grill, right over the same fire warming out bath-barrel…

It’s a happy memory- one I haven’t thought of in a million years.- brought to me courtesy of the first fire of the year. What are yours?