Wednesday, November 30, 2005

there is no try...

I tried to write last night. The key word in that sentence is tried. But trying is not the same as writing. I am, therefore, switching verbs. Tonight, I am not trying to write. Tonight, I am writing.

I had a good idea, really. And parts of it were, in my opinion, stellar prose. A sentence here, half a paragraph there. But in my attempt to be brilliantly “writerly,” I neglected to just write, and it wasn’t fun anymore. And the idea was to have fun, was it not?

Or was it?

What am I doing here? Really? Is this simply my grown-up equivalent of attention-seeking? Compliment-fishing? Worth-achieving? Approval-attaining? I was so hoping to have outgrown that. But the presence of the site meter affirms more than just my need for affirmation…

There is, of course, more to it than that. Most days. Then there are days like the last two, when all that motivates me is the thought of what will generate the most comments and thereby give my fragile ego the biggest boost for my buck. Those days, in retrospect, are much more frustrating and much less enjoyable. And my writing, quite frankly, becomes overdone.

So, what AM I doing? What is it that I enjoy about this little “exercise?” At a base level, I suppose simply enjoy putting words together. Some people think in poetry—I think in prose, constantly turning phrases in my mind as I narrate the world around me. Life feels, at times, like watching a movie on DVD with the commentary turned on—internal dialogue over the external.

Then there are the words themselves, the mention of which prompts an embarrassing confession: I was one of those freaky, nerdy kids who enjoyed diagramming sentences. As in, did it at home for fun. Really. Word-smithing stirs something within me—there is a joy that comes from creatively saying exactly what I mean to say. The satisfaction it produces is, I must admit, a bit odd…

But there is more to it than these things, I am certain. My friend Dean commented once that writing is largely about seeing (or something vaguely along that vein)—perhaps I am a person who sees things, and I like to share what I see, in hopes that others may see something as well. On a good day, it is this that motivates me to write, to post, to pursue this dream. The little lamb is not the only one who asks, “Do you see what I see?”

I’ve heard it said, by people who are multi-lingual, that they must often shift between languages in order to articulate a thought precisely. My heart knows this. There are certain moods, certain thoughts, which my heart can only convey through my music. There are certain moments I can only capture through my lens. But then, oh, but then there is my writing…

…my native tongue.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


The equation:

Five days away from home and keyboard, plus four legal-sized pages of scribbled notes and ideas, plus two nights with not nearly as much time as I'd desired at the computer, minus any worthwhile inspiration whatsoever, equals squat to post.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


The dark navy jeans with the striped v-neck. No—the turtleneck. The striped one looks better with the black jeans. She looks around the room frantically. The black jeans. Where are the black jeans? Oh fudge—they’re dirty. She shoves them in a bag, climbs over the baby gate, and lugs them downstairs. Here goes another two flights up and down—as if aerobics this morning was not enough. Dang, my thighs are killing me.

Okay. Black jeans with the v-neck, denims with the turtleneck. Oh heck, just throw in all three pair of jeans—and the brown ones, too. Where’s the jacket that goes with that? That would look okay. The pile leans precariously on the edge of the bed, unnoticed by all but the 20 lb. cat who desires to deposit half of his hair along the side of it. “Max!! Argh!!!” She picks everything up off the floor, shaking off cat hair and arranging them in smaller piles not so close to the edge of the bed, but right in the range of the toddler who crawls over them, making his way toward the cat who is now wide-eyed in fear.

Which bra goes with that? Socks! I need socks! Oh shoot—if I pack that pair of pants, what am I going to wear to work tomorrow? “Momma… Moooooooommaaaaaaa…”

“What, sweetie?”



“Will you color with me?”

She turns and looks incredulously across the hallway at the grade schooler, just in time to bump into the toddler who in turn scares the cat who in turn shoots like a bat out of hell (or a cat out of toddler’s reach) down the steps. At least HE’S not in my way anymore…

“No, bub. Not right now. I’m trying to pack for our trip. Sorry baby. Later, I promise.” Yeah, right. Right after I pack for all three of us and make dinner and get ready for my meeting tonight.

“But Mooommmm…”

The whining noise fades somewhat as she returns to her room, leaving most of the guilt pangs in the hallway. Now the toddler is in the suitcase. At least it’s not the cat, this time. “Oh buddy…” Oh heck, never mind. Let him sit there. What am I going to wear to work tomorrow? Here—the black turtleneck with the tweed. Write myself a note to be sure to pack the black boots once I get home. She pastes a third sticky note to the dresser, then bustles into the bathroom, hanging the work outfit to steam in the shower.

She turns again into her two-foot shadow, now carrying his sister’s plastic guitar, which his sister has not desired for months until it was placed in her brother’s room and which is now the object of great rivalry and ugliness. Note to self—pack after bedtime next time. She sidesteps the flailing toddler, takes the guitar back again from his sister, and shuts the door to her room, not even remotely muffling the hysterics of both of them just outside. Okay—socks. I need socks. What colors will I need? Let’s see… red, black, black, white…

Her mind drifts back to the email. What the heck am I going to wear to that party? And to church? Doggone it. The last time I was there, he asked me if I’d lost a little weight. A little? I’d lost fifty pounds—the jerk. MAN I don’t want to go to that party. Wish I didn’t feel so flippin’ obligated. Five years and nothing’s changed. The size ten jeans and the new, tight, red velour top that my husband said was sexy. Now THERE we go. It has gotten quiet in the hallway. She silently debates whether she should be concerned or relieved, afraid to turn the knob and shatter the treasured silence. Toddler footsteps and their voices chattering back and forth—she chooses to be relieved for the time being.

Crap. Shoes. What am I going to pack for shoes? She eyes her closet, momentarily dumbfounded. Why do things have to be so complicated? They never wanted to get together while we lived there—why do they care now? What the heck am I supposed to do? Go and put on and pretend that nothing ever happened? Isn’t that why we moved, really? To not pretend anymore? Oh heck—both pair of boots and the black loafers. Can I fit in my tennis shoes? The familiar urge to tell him off arises within her. She gives in. Again. “I was never unkind to you. I was never, ever rude to you. I never, ever treated you the way you treated me. Not ever. I never deserved the way you treated me.”

She is distracted by the sound of the cat rubbing against the door, causing it to jiggle in its frame. “Alright, Max. Come on. Just don’t get in my suitcase.” She opens the door and he jumps up onto the bed and immediately takes up residence where he has just been instructed not to. She sighs and considers taking up her rant again, then realizes it’s time to start dinner. Room for the tennis shoes. Great. Pack the carry-on in the morning, and I’m all set. She removes the cat, stroking him for a moment under the chin, feeling his motor run against her chest. I wish I could just let go of it… She sighs, and closes the suitcase.

All her baggage is ready to go.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The H.O.

Twenty years since the boxes, carefully packed and tied with twine, have been opened. The musty, metallic smell that begins to fill the room as bags are opened and objects removed attests to the passing of decades. My husband inspects each piece with care, reminiscing as he goes. “This engine here would be worth between sixty to a hundred dollars if you were to buy it today,” he informs me. It is at this point I question, given this information, “Are you sure you want to do this now?”

But he has waited for this moment for years. “Do you think the kids are big enough this year? Do you think we could put the train around the tree?” This year, after six Christmases, the answer is finally yes. With the proper care and monitoring, our children will be inducted into a magical piece of their father’s childhood, as he was, once, into his own father’s, and so on. Nostalgia is something no family should be without. Ours has an abundance, passed down through the generations. Which is why the boxes, after much scheming with his father, are now in our living room and my husband is somewhere circa 1978.

He holds one up—“we have a little red caboose!” That will excite our son, who, of course, is who this is all about. Really. I’ll remind him of that shortly. But for now, I allow my husband to play with his toys in our living room. He pulls more items out and looks, perplexed, at a tangle of red-orange wire for a moment before returning it to the bag. “It really IS for him,” he insists, as he discovers what I’m writing. And I mostly believe him. Mostly.

Our son, obviously, inherited his fascination with trains honestly. He is a child obsessed, his little wheels turning constantly. We’re driving home one night after dark, and my daughter is asking if grocery stores are open all night. We begin to discuss how some places that sell food are, indeed, open all night. “Why isn’t the train store open all night?” my son asks, out of nowhere. We are hiking one day, just a week ago, and my daughter points out to me the sunset, because “I know you like sunsets, Momma.” “I DO like sunsets,” I reply. “I like train sets,” he pipes in from the kid-carrier. Obsessed, I tell you.

So, I do believe this is motivated, in part, to please and excite a particularly coy two-and-a-half year old sleeping upstairs with Thomas the Train. The two-and-a-half year old who checks every time we get off the freeway on the status of the train bridge we go under to return home and reports to me, excitedly, what he finds, as if I can’t see for myself. The two-and-a-half year old who plays for hours with wooden track on loan from a friend and who will sob, broken-heartedly, tomorrow when we return the set to its rightful owner. But I know better than to believe this is his sole motivation.

The lid comes off the engine, the track having been laid carefully on the living room carpet. The moment has come. “Most of the couplers are still in really good shape,” he informed me earlier, but they are about to be put to the test. The engine lights for a moment, then sputters, then lurches forward. He tweeks it, repositioning it on the track, and it is off and running, much to his surprise. “I thought I’d have to do more to it than that--that's amazing!” Cars are coupled together and, viola, we have a train. I must confess it is a little exciting.

I chuckle. And then I smirk. Seventeen years I’ve known this man, and I’ve never seen these boxes. I knew they existed, the mythological trains in his parent’s basement, but now they have come to life for me, as they will for our children come Christmas morning. But more magical to me, for now, is the nine-year-old boy with the twinkling green eyes laying track in my living room, working intently on his model trains.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Monday, November 14, 2005

aerobics: week seven

hour of torture
you did not beat me today
vict’ry will be mine

Sunday, November 13, 2005

setting the record straight

When I am no longer the most important woman in his life and the object of his bright sunny smiles and sticky wet kisses…

When I am no longer the one he calls in the middle of the night when the dark is a heavy presence overwhelming his young, tender heart…

When I am no longer the one he runs to with skinned knees or lady bugs or untied shoes or boo-boos needing the magic kiss of a mother…

When I am no longer his leading lady and another woman moves to center stage, joining him in the soft glow of the spotlight…

When I have shifted into my proper place on the distant home planet of his ever-expanding, ever-exciting universe…

When it all happens, as it all should, and the one who has captured the heart of the one who captured mine holds her breath as he bends down on one knee, takes her hand, and asks her the question every girl’s heart dreams of hearing, I simply want the record to show…

…he asked me, first.

Friday, November 11, 2005

but Mom, everybody's doing it...

I was inspired by Dan who was inspired by Louise The Poet who was undoubtedly inspired by someone else, so we wrote haiku during our freewriting time at part one of our writer’s group retreat tonight. Here were my attempts:

for my daughter:

curly-headed sprite
energy meets emotion
glorious fireworks

for my son:

behind big brown eyes
wheels turning unceasingly
ornery little imp

for my husband:

eyes of heathered green
crinkle around the edges
tell me nothing’s changed
I'll work on visual presentation later--just wanted to get them posted.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Room with a view

PA295480, originally uploaded by as we see it.

From the Mohican Fire Tower, 10.05


PA305517, originally uploaded by as we see it.

Mohican, 10.05


PA305512, originally uploaded by as we see it.

Mohican, Halloween Weekend


PA295450, originally uploaded by as we see it.

Hiking at Mohican, Halloween Weekend

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I am not the fattest girl in the class.

This comes as somewhat of a surprise to me. By some miracle of natural selection, I find that I am not the weakest, nor the slowest, nor the most out of shape. Should we suddenly be faced with an eat-or-be-eaten situation, I would survive. This comes as a sort of morbid relief, as does the fact that I do not have the biggest legs, the biggest butt, or the biggest waistline. It’s amazing what I will cling to when I’m desperate…

Twenty-some women pour into the mirrored room each week. Twenty-some women grab step boxes and floor mats, dumbbells and body bars, water bottles and stretch bands, arranging themselves where they can either see, be seen, or hide completely, depending on their own love/hate relationship with the mirror. Twenty-some women pant and sweat and groan for an hour—perky, skinny ones with pony-tails and coordinated workout clothes that show off their perfectly tanned and toned abs and overweight ones with well-worn, oversize 1980’s concert t-shirts that whimper “for the love of God, please don’t look at me…”

Skinny ones, fat ones, tall ones, short ones, pretty ones, not-so-pretty ones, even a few unsightly ones. As my two-year-old says, “De good, de bad, an’ de ug-wee.” I find myself somewhere in the middle. And for once in my life, I’m happy with that.

I have no delusions of being buff. Or ripped. Or any other bizarre colloquialism referring to an unobtainable level of physical “perfection.” I will never be skinny—genetics, hormones, metabolic make-ups, bone structures, and the after-effects of carrying two nearly-nine-pound babies have sealed my fate. Add to that the fact I hate to workout with a passion almost as great as my passion for food, and there you have it. Thin will never be in my future. But average… well, average might be another story…

That word would have once made my inner perfectionist shudder, but I am slowly becoming more comfortable with it. Or, perhaps, it is merely becoming slightly less offensive to me, though I’m not entirely certain what was so offensive about it in the first place. For whatever reason, in our “Be All That You Can Be” culture, I am beginning to look realistically at where I am and making the decision that where I am IS all I can be at the moment.

5’2”, 135 lbs, size 10. Average height, average weight, average size. No delusions, no excuses, no comparisons. I will be the best average I can be.

I am not the fattest girl in the class. I can live with that.

fast friends

My daughter and Laura are getting on fabulously, as evidenced by the fact that she read THREE CHAPTERS on her own Sunday afternoon while the rest of the family napped. She not only READ them, she UNDERSTOOD them and could tell me what took place in each chapter. (May I just remind you that four months ago she was not officially reading yet?) I'm ecstatic about her love for reading (and her love for Laura), but half the fun was going to be getting to re-read them myself! In the words of my son, "Oh MAN!"

I guess I'd better catch up if I want to enjoy them as well!

Saturday, November 05, 2005


It was not coincidental. Of that, I am certain.

“Did you remember to reset the white-balance on that? I think I changed it when we carved the pumpkins. These all look a little blue, Babe.” He pointed this out after I’d taken nearly 90 pictures—my attempts to hoard a day’s worth of gold to spend throughout the gray days of winter all done in vain. The shocking brilliance of the sun glinting against the yellow maples reproduced on my tiny digital screen in lime green—a little blue, indeed.

Looking back, blue shadows were beginning to be cast even before the pumpkins were carved and the camera futzed with. A hint of melancholy that I passed off as premenstrual hormones lingered longer than pre and held on into post. Technical issues aside, it was no coincidence I had captured that entire day in shades of blue. The representation was uncanny in its accidental accuracy.

Life is like this, sometimes. Details remain unchanged—the leaves, the trees, the river, the children—but a blue hue discolors everything, turning the golden brightness of life to chartreuse while the operator is unaware. Melancholy does this to me—messes with my white-balance, casting colorful shadows that distort yet don’t.

Photoshop may save my stash of gold. The beauty of digital is that sometimes color can be easily corrected. The problem with life is that sometimes it can’t. I turn to that which re-calibrates me, and I hold out for splotches of yellow, storing them up for the season when blue will turn to gray.

All will be color-corrected in time.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

getting reacquained

She’s exactly how I remember her. Details come back to me as if it were yesterday and not decades since we last spent time together—the way she talked, the way she thought, the way she lived. I reminisce—sharing with my daughter, who I invite in to this circle—about growing up together, about happier, simpler times, about family and friends and faith. There is a sense of comfort, as if a homecoming has taken place. All is familiar. All is well.

I introduced my daughter on Monday to an old friend. She and Laura Ingalls are already getting well acquainted, and it appears my well-worn paperback set may take an even further beating in the years to come. That is okay with me. Good friends are for sharing.

I have eagerly awaited this reunion—many, many more are to come…

love letters, revisited

For being the kind of man who cooks dinner, clears off the counters, runs the dishwasher, occasionally empties it and on a rare occasion returns dishes to their correct locations…

For being the kind of man who loves music and leaves and camping and symphonies and beauty and children and family and art…

For being the kind of man who cleans the house while I’m at work on a Saturday, in between gymnastics lessons and making lunch and running errands and naptime and “Daddy, will you play Barbie’s with me…”

For being the kind of man who cries when he buries the cat…

For being the kind of man who gets up at dark-thirty to go running so he can be healthy but not have it interfere with family time…

For being the kind of man who creates things like “Tickle Fest” and “Milkshake Night” and “Daddy Dates…”

For being the kind of man who has (finally) learned to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong…”

For being the kind of man who works hard, works smart, works ethically, works as if unto the Lord…

For being the kind of man who would pursue me, marry me, put up with me, and pursue me all over again…

I love you.