78 Pages and a Sprinkle

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“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” Ann Lamott

The challenge is complete. Last night, at midnight, the NaNoWriMo challenge officially ended, and not a moment too soon. Though I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed the act of sitting down daily to write, pushing myself to think of memories that don’t always come readily, like the time I broke my arm sliding down the slide wearing sweater tights, or how my brother kept saying “my feet are nice and moist,” when he got a concussion mopping the floors with his sock clad feet while I was his high-school babysitter. I have no idea the quality of the writing, or the quality of the memories, but somehow, bit by bit I wrote, daily, to complete a whopping 78 pages plus a few little sprinkles. I used three wheels of ink for the typewriter, and a partial ream of paper that I might have ‘borrowed’ from the office copier. Living dangerously on borrowed paper.

Today I borrowed a few more pages, and made myself a photocopy of the original. Because someday I’m going to want to revisit this ‘masterpiece,’ and do some edits. Or maybe that’s overly ambitious the day after the challenge is over. Maybe I’m always looking forward to new projects. A year barefoot. A year without shopping, or buying books. Three years without shaving any body hair. 30 days of yoga in a summertime. A month of daily writing, 78 pages later. A few tiny accomplishments, which leads me to my new favorite podcast, A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, by Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter, two Spokane poets. Sherman’s on my mind a lot since I’m teaching one of his novels next quarter.

Maybe I’ll look over these stories in the springtime. Read them. Edit them. See where they can be tweaked and shaped into something new. For now they’ll go in my folder of completed words that live a life unseen by the public, unlike this blog.

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From a Distance

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Our 2nd annual Cama Beach camping trip was well under way, and I realized that over the past 5 weeks (4 of which have been spent in some fashion with my parents) that I have been somehow softening toward my parents as people, and possibly even experiencing some softening of memories of childhood. I blame this softening, in part, by the joy my parents had in meeting Mari and her husband and their kids when we all went there for the weekend to wine taste. And the joy my parents had in meeting my friend Amelia as she came up for the day to Cama Beach. They want to know my friends. They want to know my life. 

Memory is a strange thing. Because, if I squint hard enough, soften into a deep breath and let my muscles relax, I can remember the feeling of childhood. I might have been an anxious child in ways, but I was also blissfully carefree in other ways. It wasn’t until we moved in adolescents, and I began to feel awkward and misunderstood and took a cynical look at my parent’s parenting. And then there was the un-diagnosed depression and anxiety that clouded my mind. And in college, and young adulthood there was a VERY cynical look back, seeing my parents in all their faults, how I would do it differently, how very misunderstood I was and how much I felt I had to hide to receive their ‘un’conditional love. 

And there I was, sitting on a log watching my parents play with Potamus on the beach and I just felt soft toward them, toward my memories of them growing up. I haven’t gone to the extreme of saying that everything they did was right, or that nothing they did hurt me at all, but there was this settling in to the gray. That my parents annoy me sometimes AND they love my son (and me, yes, I’ll even go that far). It was really a sweet feeling to just sit and be and not feel all this leftover angst that I usually feel when I’m with them. 

The Last Time the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl…

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In 2006, I was living in New Delhi, India, and it just so happened that my home team, the Seattle Seahawks were in the Super Bowl. Because of the crazy time difference, I woke up at something ridiculous like 3am, to watch the game (hallelujah it was on! usually I’d only be able to watch cricket!), and nestled in to a very unusual Super Bowl party: middle of the night, with leftover Dominos pizza (yes, they have Dominoes in Delhi), all by myself. At around 5am, my flatmate came out to watch the game with me, but it was still just the two of us, though we did text a few other Americans we knew living around the country. It seemed like all the expats were watching the game, but I had a special stake in the game, being FROM Seattle (and the fact that it was our FIRST TIME EVER in the big game!).

Of course, we lost.

And I called in “sick,” from school that day. I’m sure I used it as an excuse to not go in, but still, I was millions of miles away from my friends and family and watching the game in the middle of the night, by myself, I felt so alone. And yet, I was mourning with all of the other ‘Hawks fans that day. We were robbed. And today is the day we hope for redemption.

It’s crazy how much has changed in 8 years.

I’ll be watching the Superbowl here, in Seattle, with my husband, and son, and a few acquaintances with kids (because our friends won tickets to NY to go to a Superbowl PARTAY!). Maybe I’ll order Dominoes for old times sake…

Two Buck Chuck

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I’m not too proud to admit that I keep a few bottles of “two buck chuck” around for occasions like these…you know…when you need a good cry into a glass of cheap red wine. Because yeah, that’s where I am. Snivelling on the couch after a long day of work (which was really just as long as any other day, and in retrospect actually a ‘really good’ day). And more than actually sobbing it’s the feeling like I’m going to sob that’s overwhelming.

I don’t know where it came from, but I saw some baby pictures of chubster Potamus and I just had this incredible nostalgic longing for those times. The sweet little pudgy arms of my firstborn as he reaches out to touch the water in the summer fountain. He was six months old and it feels like forever ago. And I can’t imagine never getting to experience THAT moment again. And yet there’s been hundreds of moments since then that I’ve actively chosen to ignore, or numb out through sleep or Facebook or because motherhood is so fucking exhausting.

I want another baby. And it makes no sense whatsoever. With the first go round I was naively unprepared and spent far too long (from my judgemental mind’s eye) focusing on my shifting identity from non-mom to mom and pining over all the things I’ve ‘lost’ rather than savoring all that I’ve gained. Like a heart that’s too big for my chest and comes thumping out in big crocodile tears that I didn’t experience often as a non-mom. I want to know another child from the beginning. To see them grow up and experience life and learn who they are in the world. It’s a beautifully insane idea, and yet I am struggling so much  as it is in this very moment of motherhood.

Though, in the wise words of Mari’s therapist, “people don’t choose to have another kid because it’s easier or less money,” which is true truth that should be put on a bumper sticker in my brain.

But for now I’ll sip the sauce and hope the tears subside.

Thanksgiving Re-Cap

My mini-meltdown ended after 45 minutes of sitting in the idling car listening to Macklemore’s The Heist cd on repeat. And angry blogging. Once I identified that I had felt disrespected, I was able to articulate it to my family, and things blew over. My problem is having a hard time identifying my emotions and switch right to raging bitch pissed, rather than calmly being able to articulate what’s really going on. Like I felt disrespected that I was the only one doing parenting duties and everyone else was acting 12, shouting at football games and barking orders.

The rest of our visit was relatively calm, though sleeping on a 167 year old double mattress with egg crate for ‘support’ was less than ideal. Especially with a squirrelly nursling who would pop up, even in the middle of the night, to assess his surroundings. On Friday night we took my dad out for his 60th birthday, and had some yummy Italian food that didn’t sit well with me, but at least we didn’t have any major arguments. And Potamus enjoyed feeding carrots to the horses was scared of the horses, but was obsessed with going out in the pasture with us anyway. Also, hearing him say “football” is adorable, though it sounds a hell of a lot more like ‘butt ball” which makes me laugh, every time.

We’re home now, and trying to recover from being out of my comfort zone for two days (and trying desperately not to think of the return trip in three weeks for ‘Christmas.’ Eek!).

dads birthday dinner

60th birthday dinner for grandpa!

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Me & Little Man

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he’s really loving the horses (not)

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stripes & grass

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out for a brisk walk with grammy

feeding the horses some carrots

 

Face Forward to Go Forward

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I had used the line before, but it was different this time. I’m not sure why this client clung to me (metaphorically, of course), but sometimes that’s the nature of crisis-work. There becomes a trauma-bond that they feel when you come and see them in the most vulnerable state, and then six weeks later they are crushed when you tell them that they have changed, are stronger, and need to keep moving forward without you. It’s the nature of crisis work, nothing personal, I tell them up-front, but there were those clients who had lots of feelings when it came to that final goodbye.

And so, my Family-Advocate and I, sat in the moldy smelling family room, with her mom and dad and sister and long-time therapist, and we had a final family meeting. And the dad, overwhelming nervous about the prospect of this crisis happening again, asked “what do we do if it happens again. We don’t want to go back,” and I replied:

When you’re driving you look through the windshield. You need to glance in the rear-view mirror to see where you’ve come from, and what might be behind you, but if you stare in the rearview mirror you’ll crash. You have to keep your eyes focused on what’s ahead. The forward journey. Glance back, but keep moving forward.

There was a moment of hush in the room. It wasn’t anything magical, I’d said it a hundred times, and it’s something I believe in, but in that moment it hit the family in a spot that they needed. Even the therapist, who had been working with this young lady for years, and was a long-time therapy supervisor, was stunned. I might have blushed because half the time I think I’m fucking everything up and about 1 step away from being found a fraud.

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I thought of this experience this morning, as I buckled Potamus into the car. We’re a month early, but we turned his car seat around to face forward. His legs had been scrunched for awhile now, and we thought it best. And he was Mr. Nonchalant about the whole thing, clearly based on the picture above. And as I drove I kept catching glimpses of him in the backseat and had to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road. I could state at his wild blonde hair and intense eyes forever. I could get stuck in the nostalgia of the first car trip with him, all 7lbs, bundled up so snugly as we drove home from the hospital. I know that nostalgia, sentiment, memories are good…really good…but I can’t live there, in the past. We move forward, driving off into the sunrise, and work, and daycare, and a new Holiday-Week, and it’s okay.

 

Precious Moments

How many hours of my life will be spent in grocery store parking lots with a sleeping child in the backseat? How many extra miles will be driven with one hand on the steering wheel and the other draped awkwardly into the backseat to hold the pudgy hand of a cranky tired child who needs his mother’s touch in rush hour traffic?

He knows the words “uh oh,” and “no,” and only says “maamaa,” in an emphatic demanding tone. Clearly he knows he’s the boss of my heart.

His pudgy toddler hands clench together barely able to hold the glee. His whole body trembles, and his laughter is borderline maniacal clown, when he learns he’ll get a small package of m&ms, or some other treat.

Sweaty warm naptime cheeks. The way he reaches out for me when I sneak away to pee. We laid together like that yesterday for three hours. Is he getting sick? Did he know mama is bordering on a nervous breakdown and obliged with extra dream time?

The day he climbed into the backseat by himself. His determination to play with play dough for an hour instead of eating dinner. His infectious laughter as he chases the dog down the hallway. His overdramatic head hanging and pouting when I’ve scolded him or told him we can’t flush his cars down the toilet.

In one day there are a thousand and more moments I want to save forever in my heart.

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