Sunday, December 19, 2010

Panic

Spent twenty minutes combing the house in vain for Dan's biggest and best Christmas present. Fought back a rising tide of panic as I ransacked every closet, peered under and behind every piece of furniture, checked the tops of kitchen cabinets, rooted around in the crawl space...finally found it (whew!) at the bottom a pile of other boxes that are waiting to go into the crawl space. Hidden in plain sight, as it were. Christmas is saved.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Comeback

After over two months' hiatus, she's back.

Difficulties with Dan (formerly TZ) have sort of sapped my energy of late--and one doesn't like to complain too much on a blog (at least, I don't). But I think things are on the upswing. Also, goofy issues with school and babysitter schedules have taken away a few of the hours I used to use to write.

I was thinking the other day about stuff I used to teach, and I remembered something I loved. That is, fragments of something I loved: moths and fire, the word "immolate", the image of a monk. So I had to google it: poem moth immolate. The poem came right up. When I saw it, I realized there was something else. I thought maybe it was by the author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (seach: Tinker Creek; result: Annie Dillard). So I searched for Annie Dillard moth. Ta-daa. I love living now.

The first piece is a poem by Don Marquis in the voice of archy, a cockroach who cannot punctuate or capitalize because he's, well, a cockroach typing on a typerwriter. The second is an excerpt of an essay by Annie Dillard. I especially love the images in Dillard's piece, and I love the voices of the moth and the cockroach in Marquis' poem.
the lesson of the moth

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires
why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense
plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves
and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity
but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself

archy
--Don Marquis



From "Death of a Moth"

One night a moth flew into the candle, was caught, burnt dry, and held. I must have been staring at the candle, or maybe I looked up when the shadow crossed my page; at any rate, I saw it all. A golden female moth, a biggish one with a two-inch wingspread, flapped into the fire, drooped abdomen into the wet wax, stuck, flamed, and frazzled in a second. Her moving wings ignited like tissue paper, like angels' wings, enlarging the circle of the darkness the sudden blue sleeves of my sweater, the green leaves of jewelweed by my side, the ragged red trunk of a pine; at once the light contracted again and the moth's wings vanished in a fine, foul smoke. At the same time, her six legs clawed, curled, blackened, and ceased, disappearing utterly. And her head jerked in spasms, making a spattering noise; her antennae crisped and burnt away and her heaving mouthparts cracked like pistol fire. When it was all over, her head was, so far as I could determine, gone, gone the long way of her wings and legs. Her head was a hole lost to time. All that was left was the glowing horn shell of her abdomen and thorax---a fraying, partially collapsed gold tube jammed upright in the candle's round pool.

And then this moth-essence, this spectacular skeleton, began to act as a wick. She kept burning. The wax rose in the moth's body from her soaking abdomen to her thorax to the shattered hole where her head should have been, and widened into a flame, a saffron-yellow flame that robed her to the ground like an immolating monk. That candle had two wicks, two winding flames of identical light, side by side. The moth's head was fire. She burned for two hours, until I blew her out.

She burned for two hours without changing, without swaying or kneeling---only glowing within, like a boiling fire glimpsed through silhouetted walls, like a hollow saint, like a flame-faced virgin gone to God, while I read by her light, kindled while Rimbaud in Paris burnt out his brain in a thousand poems, while night pooled wetly at my feet.
--Annie Dillard

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen...

Today was a particularly difficult day with Dan, full of tantrums and defiance and rudeness. And at one point he shouted at me, as he sometimes does when he gets in trouble for this kind of stuff, "I'm stupid! That's why I do this stuff!" No, you're not. "Yes, I am! I'm the stupidest person in the world! I don't know anything!"

Later, when I tried to ask him about the "stupid" business, he insisted that he feels like he really is stupid, and that there's all kinds of stuff ("like, school stuff, like math") he should know and be able to do, and he doesn't or can't. Which is patently untrue, but he wasn't listening. But just the other night, he had a nightmare that left him panicky, speechless and nauseous; the nightmare had been about feeling stupid and like his head was full of wrong answers.

 So I worried my way through the evening about raising an out-of-control child with anxiety and self-esteem issues.

As I tucked him into bed tonight, I whispered, "I know that you're really trying hard to be good. But it's hard sometimes, isn't it?"

He nodded.

"But I know you're trying," I said, adding, "And I'm trying hard to be a good mom. It's hard for me, too."

He nodded again. Then he spoke. "You know the other night, Mom, when I said I was dumb?"

"You mean that nightmare you had?"

"I think it was because people were like, "What's 564 + 655? Give us the answer in five seconds, or else we'll shoot you!"

"You were getting really hard problems, and you couldn't answer them?"

"Uh-huh."

"Maybe you feel like you're being asked to do something that's too hard for you."

A thoughtful nod.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Selling (or buying) out...again.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Captain Rex shoes from Stride Rite.

And the black strap/eyeshields light up blue when you walk. Both boys got a pair today. I was pushing hard for sweatshop running shoes from Nike, but they loved these soooooo much that I just gave in. Dan got a Clone Wars lunchbox for school, too. Sigh.

Johnny knew right away that he wanted the Captain Rex shoes and nothing else. He tried them on, loved them, and gamely followed his brother around the store on his many test runs; Dan tested seven pairs of possible purchases before he, too, finally settled on the Captain Rex shoes.

Those test runs were a joy to watch--though I felt bad making the salesgirl fetch six pairs of shoes that we all knew he would reject in favor of Captain Rex. He would back waaay up and go sprinting earnestly around the shoe section, faking left, then right, and finally charging up and stopping in front of us in a pose like this:
photo courtesy of ragamala.net
...which he would hold for a couple of seconds before rising and giving his verdict. We were the only customers at the time, and the other salesgirl, with apparently nothing else to do, wandered casually over and watched him silently, smiling.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Magic

In the Open Space Preserve near our house, there is a secret place off the beaten path. My friend J and her boys led us to it a little while ago. You veer off the path and follow this ploughed-up mess of dirt down and around a bend until you see this:



And if you're paying attention, you can see a little opening in the brush:








But it's little. You have to make yourself small, like a child, in order to pass through...



...into this magical place:





Sunday, August 22, 2010

Poem of the week: In honor of birth

I spent two days at the hospital with my friend K, who gave birth to her lovely little girl baby early Saturday morning. Her husband was there, too, of course. It was a long, grueling labor, but everything came together in the end. There were moments when I thought I'd never seen K look more beautiful.

3 : 6 (excerpt)

one hesitates to bring a child into this world without fixing
it up a little. paint a special room. stop sexism. learn how
to love. vow to do it better than it was done when you were
a baby. vow to make, if necessary, new mistakes. vow to be
awake for the birth. to believe in joy even in the midst of
unbearable pain.

Alta

Friday, August 13, 2010

Beach evening in San Diego (July)

Early evening at the beach.




TZ is the kind of beach-lover who runs constantly:



KO is a different sort of beach lover altogether:

Sand in the mouth.



Eventually, the T's convinced KO to come down to the water.


father and son

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Finally: Our Visit To Redlands, CA

A month ago, we drove down to Southern California to visit some very good friends and to go to Legoland. I posted a moment from the Legoland trip last week. As much as the "BUY LEGOS" message bothered me, I did like the park itself a lot. Clean, low-key, and totally manageable for both boys.

Before going to Legoland, though, we stayed for a day and two nights with my wonderful friend W and her two children, who live in Redlands. She was single-momming it that week, as her husband A was on the other side of the Pacific for work. I love being with her and her family because they are all so...so...nice. Kind and generous and all that is good. Her children are polite and kind and helpful and well-behaved--we never once heard them quarrel or talk back or whine. TZ totally stepped up. If he ever gets too awful, I'm sending him to live with them.

The Quarry
While in Redlands, we went to what's called "the quarry" by the locals--I guess it used to be a quarry, but it was all cemented up and filled with water, and they built a locker room, installed a slide and a raft, hired a lifeguard, and opened a pool. As W said, it's a total throwback--it's like stepping into the fifties or something. The people in charge fill it in the beginning of the summer, and drain and refill it periodically--I assume this means that there's no filtration system. But they must chlorinate the water, or the pool would be filled with algae after a while...right? Lucky for us, it had just been refilled when we visited, which meant the water was nice and cool and clean. Which was good because the temperature in Redlands hovers around 100 degrees in July. The sides are sloped, as you can see, so it's easy to hurt your feet if you misjudge the angle/depth, and I'm sure the depth markings were inaccurate--the longer the time since re-filling, the more inaccurate they get, I'll bet. One--that's right, one--lifeguard in the corner by the locker rooms with limited visibility of the pool--no way she could have seen around the big raft in the middle of the deepest part of the pool. No real rules--want to go down the slide and  try to land on a boogie board and surf your way across the pool? Go for it. How about playing tag on the raft--which has a two-foot lip/step on two sides? Sure! It was great. TZ kicked/pushed KO all around the pool on one of those foam raft things, they jumped off the big raft, they played on boogie boards with pool noodles...what a great afternoon. Thanks, W!

Poem of the week

Last week's post reminded me how much I love and have not been reading poetry. So now, Poem of the Week.

I bought Tai a copy of Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends, and inspired by his delight, broke out his old Poetry Speaks to Children. As we read through it, I saw a poem by Billy Collins, one of my favorite poets. Here it is:

Wolf

A wolf is reading a book of fairy tales.
The moon hangs over the forest, a lamp.

He is not assuming a human position,
say, cross-legged against a tree,
as he would in a cartoon.

This is a real wolf, standing on all fours,
his rich fur bristling in the night air,
his head bent over the book open on the ground.

He does not sit down for the words
would be too far away to be legible,
and it is with difficulty that he turns
each page with his nose and forepaws.

When he finishes the last tale
he lies down in pine needles.
He thinks about what he has read,
the stories passing over his mind
like clouds crossing the moon.

A zigzag of wind shakes down hazelnuts.
The eyes of owls yellow in the branches.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blackberries

courtesy of whatscookingamerica.com
Still so much to write about, but here's something short and sweet until I have time to write about the other things:

We got a pint of blackberries in our CSA basket on Tuesday. I've seen blackberries in the stores and at the farmer's market for weeks now without a spark of a reaction. But Tuesday was different. Maybe it was the effect of seeing them there in the basket, freshly picked, or the fact that I had noticed a blackberry bramble earlier that day--but I was reminded suddenly of this poem by Galway Kinnell:

Blackberry Eating

I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry making, and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy black language
of blackberry-eating in late September.



 Wrong month, I know, but it's a lovely poem all the same.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer idyll

So much going on these days, despite the laziness of the summer.

TZ is taking drum lessons through a local music school, which we both find exciting and incredibly frustrating. Of course it's great fun to finally get/give him what he's been begging for for years, and he likes his teacher and has been all smiles after each of the three lessons he's had so far. It's the practice part that's (already) killing us. He's only got to practice fifteen minutes a day, and two out of seven days of the week, it's a pretty productive time. The other five practice sessions are excruciating.

Mostly it starts off with TZ just banging out approximations of his favorite rhythms on the pad, and me interrupting and reminding him to start off with his warm-up patterns. Which he does, but not without frequent breaks to go back to his favorites, and me reminding him again and again to focus. At some point, he reaches a pattern that he can't reproduce properly because he doesn't count or pay attention to tempo, meter, or note values. So I stop him and correct him, he resists, does it wrong again, I correct him again and suggest trying it slower, he stalls, does it fast and wrong again, I try to count it out for him, he gets mad...and we go 'round and 'round until we are both about to strangle each other and I am ready to call the music school and ask for a refund (I've already paid for lessons until next January).

I have frequent flashbacks to my own struggles with my mother at the piano--I feel as if TZ and I are replaying my own life, with him in my role and myself in my mother's. This has happened before, of course, but never with such startling clarity. I think to myself, should I ease up, back off? And then I think, impossible! How can I let him sit there and blithely "practice" almost everything wrong? It feels irresponsible. Then I think, maybe he's too young, still? Any advice out there?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Let's talk about sex.

In June, I had to tell TZ about sex.

It started with a question about erections. In the hallway at the YMCA. There we were after an hour in the pool, carefree and ready to head home for dinner, when

"Why does that happen?"

Oh, dear. Here? Now? Mind spinning. What to say? Where to start?

So I give a little physiology lesson involving hormones and blood vessels, hoping that will be enough, but of course it isn't. But why does it happen? he persists. So I have to talk about what happens when you get a little older, about girls and boys and bodies changing, and sometimes it just happens, um, when, um...I keep hitting the pause button when people walk by (which happens frequently a the Y), and TZ keeps asking, "Why are you stopping?"

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More Boys with Guns

Something I've been wanting to post for a while: over Memorial Day weekend, we went camping with a couple of other families and I looked over one afternoon after a hike and a swim, and saw this:

Friday, June 11, 2010

STAR tests and kids as pawns

I met with Ms. A, the school principal, about STAR tests (taken in every grade above 1st) and their significance at our little school. What I learned:
  • No one gets any money from anyone except for the schools who fail to meet their API benchmarks; they get money from the state earmarked for special programs, etc. 
  • No one loses anything, per se, for poor performance or poor attendance. If fewer than 85% of a school's students take the test, the school's API is considered invalid, and is published with an asterisk or whatever that denotes its, uh, invalidity due to low numbers of test takers.
  • Our school district has, indeed, analyzed some STAR test results (well, probably only because the scores fell, now that I think about it), and changed the math curricula as a result. Drill-based to conceptual. If 8th grade math scores hadn't been lower than expected, I wonder if the district would have taken the time to analyze anything.
  • Ms. A takes those tests pretty seriously, and I don't think she'd be on board for a mass boycott.
The entire test series takes about 10 hours to complete--our school breaks it up into 70 minute segments 4 to 5 days a week for two weeks. So if I have TZ opt out next year, what will he do for those 70 minutes? Read? Do busy work? I need to find out what the alternatives at school are. Or we could just take a two-week vacation. In that case, do I announce my motives or just "coincidentally" schedule a trip? Do I recruit people to the cause? What is the cause?

The other big question is this: Is it fair to TZ to "make" him not take the tests because of my convictions about them (though I doubt he'll object)? Will it make us the "bad" family, and will TZ (and later, K) have to pay for it somehow? Like, if there's an issue with a teacher or a kid or whatever, will Ms. A be less helpful to the boys because I'm a troublemaker?

What do you think, dear readers?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Babe Ruth's eating habits

TZ: (eating a roast beef sandwich before a baseball game) Do you know who the greatest baseball player ever was? Babe Ruth.
Me: Uh-huh.
TZ: Did you know that he ate eight hot dogs before every game?
Me: That's a lot of hot dogs.
TZ: Just think--if only he had eaten sandwiches instead of hot dogs, he could have been even better!

Mommy 1, Fast food industry 0

photo courtesy of baberuthcentral.com

Friday, May 21, 2010

Seating chart

New characters:
Walker: the best reader, writer, and mathematician in TZ's first-grade class, by far--leagues ahead of the rest of them. He's tall for his age, too--and probably outweighs TZ by 10 pounds. But he's dragging around the social skills of a four-year-old, which means he's disruptive and loud.
Steven: a boy in TZ's class and on his baseball team--energetic, funny, good-hearted, and easily distracted.
Sally: a girl in TZ's class--totally cute, with a wonderful, charming smile--sparkling eyes, the works. She "loves" TZ and spends a lot of time chasing him around the playground, which he finds, predictably, "really annoying." He tries to stay as far away from her as he can. More on this in another post.

So:
TZ's teacher, Mrs. H, re-arranges the seating arrangement in the classroom every once in a while. At one point, TZ was seated next to Walker for a couple of weeks, most likely because he's a "good" boy--quiet, focused, obedient--whom Walker would be unable to recruit in his classroom shenanigans. Again, W is not a bad kid, just really bored and still working on self-control and the concept of personal space. But combine this with TZ's um, still-developing assertiveness, and you have a miserable day in school for TZ.

Apparently, TZ endured a couple of weeks of W bonking him repeatedly on the head, poking him, wagging his own face in TZ's face and going, "WAAAAAGH! Hi, TZ! WAAAAGH!" Finally, Mrs. H asked me if TZ was okay sitting next to W. I didn't know, not having heard a word about it yet. When I asked him, TZ said no, he was not okay with it. It just hadn't occurred to him to ask for a change.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Teaching TZ to breathe

I've tried a few times in the past to get a hopped-up TZ to calm down by stopping and breathing. Sit still. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply, three big breaths. This hasn't worked even a little bit, because he has just ended up panting and/or giggling.

Inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh, I tried one more time a couple of weeks ago. TZ was all silly and wound up and not-listening, very close to being just plain old rude and disrespectful. So I took him into his room and had him breathe, unsuccessfully. Staring desperately out the window, I had a moment of clarity.

"Come here to the window."
"What?" Bouncy, giggly, squirmy.
"Look at this tree. Tell me everything you see."
"Okay. A trunk and some leaves. Are we done?"
"No. Now count the leaves on that twig right there."
"Umm... Twelve. No, thirteen. No... Twelve. Or maybe sixteen."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Miracle Garden

I have never considered myself to be a particularly nurturing person. Service-oriented, sure. Sympathetic, okay. But not nurturing. Until I had children, every living thing ever entrusted to my care ended up dead from neglect: an orchid, a goldfish named Herman, a spider plant--spider plants are practically impossible to kill, but I managed it.

Children are different. As babies, they cry like the dickens when they need something, and as 3- and 7-year-olds, they whine and complain. Actually I suppose any animal other than a fish would let me know if it wanted something (poor Herman).

It's really a plant thing. I know that plants "tell" their caretakers by wilting, or turning yellow or black, that present conditions are not to their liking. I just haven't ever been able to care very much.

So it was a minor miracle that last year I bought four tomato starts (one Amish Paste, two Sun Golds, one Black Krim) and raised them into tomato-producing plants. And another minor miracle that I began to covet the empty lot across the street for its abundant space and sunlight, and yet another one that I got up the nerve to ask the guy who manages it how he would feel about, say, an unexpected volunteer tomato among the clover. And yet another when he replied, grow whatever you want as long as its legal and noninvasive.

C, my co-consipirator and gardening guru (she's got her own huge veggie garden), started some stakeless tomato plants for me from seed. K, my pregnant Sith friend, lent me her weed-whacker, rototiller, and 50 (or was it 100?)-foot extension cord. I let TZ do some weed-whacking, and he went to town.

Once the weeds were whacked and the ground tilled, I realized that said ground was far less hospitable than I had imagined, so I invested in some soil and soil amender.



Then it became clear that the hill was too steep to hold all the new soil, so I dug a little terrace--which needed something to brace it, so I brought over some old bricks we had lying around. And I thought I may as well grow some sunflowers along the fence, and put a couple of tomatoes in containers in the sun on the hill.


And I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have a pumpkin or two growing here? And we should have some marigolds for the tomatoes. (The tomatoes look a little sad in the picture, but they're actually doing all right.)


And what started out as a vision for a couple of guerrilla tomato vines growing among the weeds has turned into a pretty big, rather messy (I like to think it's charming), very obvious Project.


Not exactly the picture I originally painted for the property manager. I'm hoping he'll still be okay with what it's become, and that the deer and bunny rabbits will allow the plants to make something for us to eat and share--both of which will be miracles of slightly greater magnitude than what we've had so far.

It looks a little like Man vs. Nature over there, like establishment vs. anarchy, especially with the marigolds and the bricks--one big stomp of a civilized footprint in the weedy wilderness. Kind of ironic, considering the whole endeavor was conceived as sort of covert and subversive political act--a way to re-value land whose owner sees its value only in real estate dollars, to knit ourselves a little closer into the Nature end of the food chain, and to reduce another kind of footprint.

I can't let go of the irony when I'm here writing in my house, but when I'm out there in the garden (it is a bona fide garden now), I fall completely under its spell (the garden's, that is). It is like magic--that from tiny seeds like the ones my friend planted weeks ago, and from dirt, and water, and sunlight, grow stems, leaves, flowers, and lovely, delicious fruit. To grow vegetables, or fruit, or flowers, or what have you, is to watch a miracle reveal itself. Miracles. Sunlight, air, water, soil, fruit--miracles all. Wish us luck.

Mother's Day

I spent Mother's Day weekend with my good friend C playing in a water polo tournament in Moraga, about an hour northeast of here. Four games for me on Saturday, which wiped me out and got me a good suntan, despite my super-duper sunscreen, and two games on Sunday. It's still pretty clear that I'm only a novice, but I'm getting better and smarter.

Both husbands cried uncle after Saturday, so for Mother's Day we brought our children with us while their dads had the day to themselves (to be fair, RT strained a muscle in his back on Saturday, making it impossible to pick up KO or even bend over, really).* With a minor bump or two, all the kids behaved like a dream, garnering us moms lots of compliments. They were such troopers--seven hours on a pool deck is a lot to ask, and they totally stepped up.

While I'm on the subject of Mothers' Day, I'm sending thanks into the universe to all the women who've been my mother: My actual mother, first and foremost--what a job she's had, and what a strong and beautiful soul she is! And then also to my mentors, my guides, and my friends, professional and personal, who have done a mother's job--who have showed me how to be a better person, and who have accepted and loved the imperfect person that I am.

*RT told me that he read in the newspaper about an online dating service that experienced a torrent of new sign-ups the day after Mother's Day last year--10x their usual volume, maybe more. Women disappointed with their husbands' display of appreciation? Women who think they'd better hurry up and get a mate if they want to be queen next Mother's Day? Apparently, the Day After Mother's Day is the second biggest day of new sign-ups after the Day After Valentine's Day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Waldorf Day

TZ spent Sunday night in the bathroom "upchucking" (new vocab courtesy of his 2nd grade friends), so Monday was a recovery day. I've been feeling a little disgruntled with the school system lately and fantasizing about sending the boys to the Waldorf school down the street, or homeschooling them, so we had a quasi-Waldorf-inspired-homeschool day: a little watercolor painting, a little gardening (domestic and renegade--relevant post to come soon), a little baking. TZ read the cookie recipe and did some measuring math (how many half cups in 2-1/2 cups of flour?), and we took a few cookies to school yesterday for his "real" teacher.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Guess What?

Chicken butt!
Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-hahahahaha!

Guess what?
Chicken butt!
Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-hahahahaha!

Guess what?
Chicken butt!
Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-hahahahaha!

Guess what?
Chicken butt!

Guess what?
Chicken butt!

Etc. ad nauseum.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The boys, again (finally) and photos

So much navel gazing lately. So now some actual news:

TZ took his first swimming lesson of the season this Tuesday. It was a private lesson at this little swim and tennis club (long story). We'd tried three times this past month to start lessons, but the first time, I got the time wrong, the second time, the teacher got the time wrong, and the third time RT got the time wrong--every time, we'd get there, get the chronically nervous TZ all psyched up, and find out that there would be no lesson.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggonit, people like me.

My "get happy" post from yesterday called to mind Stuart Smalley, Al Franken's "not a licensed therapist" from SNL, particularly the sketch with Michael Jordan, one of my favorite SNL sketches of all time.

It's so easy to make fun of the whole mindfulness/overcome-the-inner-critic thing, which is why I was so wary of BFW and its pop-culture Buddhism vibe to begin with. But it rings true, doesn't it?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mindfulness

Sometimes it just feels like the universe has lost its patience with my dense, tense self, and has exchanged gentle, whispered hints for a giant megaphone. Or maybe I got the first (broad) hint and that opened me to the others. Or maybe it's that "Oh, now I get it!" phenomenon.

Whatever it is, it started with the Birthing From Within workshop, about which I was previously so apprehensive. Turns out it was illuminating. A little New Age-y, but in a good way. The theme, around which almost everything circled, was that in order to be of any help to anyone, we must approach them with nothing--nothing--but compassion and curiosity about who they are and what will help. Which is hard, because we often think we know.

Also, to do this well, it means first looking at ourselves that way. And we tend not to be curious or compassionate towards ourselves--in fact, we are often just the opposite. And if we are curious and compassionate regarding ourselves, we will be able to embrace whatever ugliness we think we harbor, gently put it away, and remember that we better and stronger than we think. The way God would, as my mom would want me to point out. (By the way, Mom, don't worry--I'm not joining a cult.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

They're heeeere....

The following is an approximation of an exchange that RT had with a colleague at work last week:

Colleague: ...was in Washington D.C. for work...April 15...went to the big Tea Party, amazing! Blah, blah, blah, taxes, Obama, socialist, etc. So, what to you think, RT?
RT:  Oh. Well...I'm a registered Democrat, so you may not want to hear what I think.
C: What?! And I had such great respect for you! I just don't get it. I'll be you believe in global warming, too, huh?
RT: Um, yes.
etc.

Predictably, the colleague believes it is all a grand hoax, or at the very least a serious mistake on the part of thousands of scientists the world over.

I know those people are out there, but it never fails to shock me when I actually hear of one of them. The scary thing is, their numbers are growing. And I'm sure that this book and its media coverage won't help. Written by a media meteorologist who doesn't trust the media. Go figure.

P.S. Sorry to be such a downer on Earth Day. Go recycle something. You'll feel better.

Monday, April 19, 2010

30 Days of The Good Life: Day One

I have been getting fatter and fatter lately, and it occurred to me last week, not for the first time, that if I ate the diet I (try to) enforce for my kids, I could probably lose five pounds. I would also feel less like a hypocrite, shooing the boys out of the kitchen so I can cram another handful of chocolate chips into my mouth.

Then I thought that if I consistently did all of the things that I urge my kids to do, I would eat healthier, sleep more, be kinder to everyone, and grow up.

When I began listing all of the behaviors and attitudes I demand of them, I realized why I'm such a hypocrite: no one can do and be all of those things, except maybe Jesus or the Buddha. But that doesn't mean we can't try. So I decided to try--really try--for thirty days to see how well I can live up to my impossible expectations for the boys. If I make it, I should be healthier and happier and closer to enlightenment, right? If I don't, well, I'll just lighten up on all of us.

So without further ado:
For thirty days henceforth, I will live like this:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Why I love living in CA (some show-off photos)

It's expensive to live here, and the budget is a mess, but here's what we did on a couple of our weekends this past month:

Beach fun on March 28, at Sea Cliff in Capitola, CA:




Two weeks later, in Truckee, CA:






Kinda hard to beat.