Thursday, October 30, 2008

Here Too

Some mornings, I don't know how the run happens. In bed, I think "better for me to sleep, need to get rid of this cold..." and then next thing I know I'm under the baseball hat, the sound of running shoes on pavement. That's addiction for you, I guess.

In California, I had the most beautiful run of my life. A little outside of the town of Olema, a trail that ran through the woods, mostly shaded by trees, all the way to the ocean. It was the hardest run I've ever had, too. Eight miles, inclines that lasted just long enough to make me think I couldn't go on, followed by a downhill slope just in the nick of time. It made me happy.

As did the rest of the trip. Little Wren in his orange-striped outfit, how could that kid not make you happy? I landed at SFO on Wednesday morning and drove to Kristin's so that we could have a meal together before I drove out to the coast. We had brunch, the perfect first meal of any vacation. Some fancy California benedict with avocado of course, and the best banana pancake I have ever had (sorry Dad!).

Kristin and me in England, ages ago

I don't even know where to start with the rest of it. I didn't take a single photo once I got to Tomales. I was just there, and as good as it's been the other years, it was even better this year. McNally was an amazing teacher, and my workshop included all the Seattle members of my writing group, as well as Karen N, from New Orleans. There was sunshine and good food, bread pudding, fantastic readings from the Faculty, including beautiful new work by Pam, read at the bookstore in Pt Reyes, and of course, oysters.

I'll just say this - I feel like a new person. Just in time for the start of year 38.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I wish Euge would stop trying to steal Max's costume.

So we had the building Halloween party and it was a big success! I really tried hard to think of what things would be fun for the kids and I think it worked out. It was a lot of work, but I think it was the sort of party that the building kids will remember fondly.

We had a guessing game where you could win a Frankenstein full of Halloween stickers...

We had a pumpkin pinata - which was a liiiiiiittle more resilient than we'd planned on, but at least all of the kids got a couple of shots at it before Eugene started sabotaging it between hitters.

Carolyn came and dressed up as a clown - without face makeup since everyone knows that clowns with face makeup are too scary for little kids. Even kids who grow up in New York.

There was also a 'Creepy Cave' with light up skulls and fake tombstones and black lights but, as you can imagine, it didn't photograph so well. So use your imagination. M'kay?

Max wore his frog costume. Ribbit.

And Thomas wore his monkey costume. Or rather most of his monkey costume... he was good at ridding himself of the feet.

I thought that they were the best part.

Of course, the boys also wore their costumes to playgroup today and I will be bringing them to work on Friday and then to a neighborhood Halloween party. I have to endeavor to take even cuter photos because I don't think we managed to capture exactly how adorable the boys are all dressed up.

And then we'll bring the costumes back for Thanksgiving so that you can judge in person. Hee!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thomas likes the view from up there

Well, it's definitely fall here in New York. We could use some of those thick sweaters and handknit scarves... actually the boys could use some handknit hats - hinthint.... preferably with ears....

We spent a long weekend in Vermont. The leaves are all just past peak and enough have fallen to make for fun kicking games for the little boys who visited us there.

Eugene's friend John (of the horns, from the Medieval Fair post), his wife Amy and their three (THREE!) boys came up for the weekend to celebrate Euge's birthday. They brought a ridiculous amount of energy, arcane Yu-gi-oh knowledge, a delicious birthday cake and pasta salad.

By 9:30 Saturday night, all of the adults had been completley whupped by the kids - including our little darlings.

Amy and Will check out the boys

Sunday morning we got up and had waffles. Actually, we didn't because I couldn't find the baking powder... so the boys had Frosted Flakes, cinnamon rolls and the adults had a yorkshire pudding. With syrup.

The waffles would have been hice though, right? I even bought fresh strawberries to have with them!

Suffice to say, after all that sugar there was energy to burn! So we went for a walk in the woods and took family photos.

In this photo, I think my back was about to collapse
Smile through the pain!

We walked FOREVER.

No, seriously - it was a super long walk. It was beautiful, but I thought it would never end... and my darling baby in the sling was weighing heavy on my spine! Mama has no core strength!

Any hoo, we sent them on their way Sunday afternoon and still had that evening and all of Monday to enjoy up there! We had the grill out and enjoyed the crisp evening air... and then we watched Be Kind, Rewind, which I wanted to love but just didn't.

Monday, I managed to drive to New Hampshire to buy supplies for our co-op's Hallween Party... which, somehow, I am in charge of. It was a nice field trip with the boys and I got to see some beautiful scenery, all the fading golds and rusty reds of the rolling countryside.

It was really a lovely fall weekend.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How I Know I'm Ready

There are outfits. Last year, when I went to the Tomales Bay workshops, there was more of a story at this point, but there weren't as many outfits. The story was trying something, it was the first story, literally. I always used to say I wasn't a strong enough writer for a short story, that working on a novel seemed so much more forgiving, not like a short story where it's all there, without the excuse of "more to come" or "later" in the book. You can see it in a glance, the short story. Still, there was a way in which that story was impermeable, never got to its own heart, still hasn't, and I got called on it, and reminded of how much writing hurts. I liked some of the words in that story, I liked the voice of it, and by the time I took it Tomales for workshop for the workshop, that had become a kind of armor that hid what was missing at the heart of that story. That story still rattles back an echo at me whenever I tap on it, just to check. I'm not sure I'll ever find it's heart.

This year, there is no story. There are story clumps, fragments, they are gooey and stick to me. The page is set, margins where they are supposed to be, and McNally has given us twelve pages, period, so that's that too. This helps, I create a sub-file titled "Birds That Eat Meat - brutal cuts" and this lets me carve away the things I find myself reworking, hung up on to no avail. Twelve pages, for me, is about making this story as simple as possible, quit messing around with the stuff that made last year's story so empty and just get it on the page, get some pieces in place so that the real work can begin. The real work of letting it be read, and felt and commented on. That's the hard part, for this one.

Which is why it's good that there are outfits. Outfits for a bright fall. Mirrored sunglasses, old jeans, scarves and handknit socks and things you can wear in a cold classroom, or in the back of a room of long readings. A thick wool sweater with the neck cut off then trimmed with bright orange thread, so that people are reminded that you are a human with collarbones, with bird-like parts, capable of breaking, light bones, hollow enough to fly.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Cretins Got Some Culture

Max - much cuter than the Van Gogh baby

So Dad and Lucia were here for 5 whole days and we managed to get the boys to the Cloisters, The Met, and the MoMA. The little heathens are practically qualified to be art critics now!

Strangely, they mostly seemed interested in the ceilings of the various museums. Post-post-post modern art perhaps? Found art? Maybe they are conceptualizing a future photo essay.

We also did a lot of walking, tickling, cuddling, smooshing, laughing and eating.

Lucia shows Thomas where his soft spots are

We walked up to the Cloisters - don't worry, the stroller was not far away!

Max naps while I do the heavy lifting

We walked through Central Park to get to the Met

You have to look at the new stroller from just the right angle to get the full twin effect

The boys successfully napped through most of the museum visit

Yay for couches!

Except when Daddy was providing rides

Whee! The Impressionists are fuuuuunnnnnn!

Or, if Grandpa was providing rides!
Thomas likes cuddles, long walks on the beach, and Grandpa!

We also all got to go to playgroup - which is one of my favorite things. There is nothing like watching a gaggle of toddlers dance to 'The Wheels on the Bus'. Dad alternated between documenting the whole hot mess with his video camera and carrying Max or Thomas to check out what all the other kids were up to. I didn't take any pictures of that myself, because I was enjoying just being able to go with the boys.

That was probably the nicest part of the visit - just being able to hang out with my family. Having to go to work is just reality right now, but it can be hard to miss things like the playgroup, so having four days off to indulge in enjoying those sorts of things was really nice.

Also, I want to give props to Dad and Lucia for babysitting so that we could have an anniversary dinner/date night... our first in the city since the boys were born! Woohoo!

Just a sidenote update on the boys... Both are sporting at least FOUR teeth now and both have started semi-crawling backwards... so by the time we get out to Seattle, I expect they will be fully crawling forwards.

Watch out!

Blogger Hates Me

But it's okay, really. Just last night Kate and I went to Sambar (you know what that looks like) and were talking about blog writing, and my dependence on photos. I started wondering about doing a blog post without a photo, of course, and then tonight, Blogger rejected all the photos I tried to upload.

So. Hey.

Sometimes when I'm at a loss for a photo, I'll go back to this time last year. Things were delicious this time last year. All orangey and coffeeish. Things are still pretty here, the street I drive down every day in my office park is a long stretch of flamboyant color, and my apartment is toasty and blanketish. Things aren't as delicious though. I've been eating at home too much for that, my own ridiculous creations, accidents involving cuts of meat I don't understand, or negligence in the form of frozen bags. For lunch there's a frozen box, and now that B has an office job, the lattes aren't the same.

It's indicative of something, of course. I'm a little hungry these days, but not the good kind of hungry, where everything looks like a feast. It's that kind of hungry where nothing appeals, and of course that's how you end up with the frozen box meal. Food as necessary.

Other things are feeding me though. Books. Work. Plus, travel transforms, and next week I fly back to California for the Tomales Bay workshops. I know what I want when I get there. A latte from the little stand there, one of those oat bar things, some oysters from Tony's, a burger and milkshakes.

Some things are just always good.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Max in the bath

Just in case you were bored.

He's cute, right?

Friday, October 10, 2008

What goes on here

A little clue as to why it was time to separate the boys...

The last week has been hectic.

I feel like I am always saying that these days. And yet it always seems to be true.

It was hectic in the best possible way, with Dad and Lucia visiting. I have some great photos and video, but just haven't been able to find the time or energy to download them, much less post them. There's a lot to be said about the adventures we had during their visit. Which will have it's own post.

While they were here, we moved the boys to their own room, which also deserves it's own post.

But first I have to remove the aerobed that I have been sleeping on and take photos of it. Actually, first I have to get used to the idea of sleeping in a separate room from them... then remove the aerobed... then take pictures....

But I digress.

The new room and separate cribs has made for sleep disorientation - Thomas misses Max... Max seems to be doing just fine. That may have something to do with Thomas's proclivity for kicking Max in his sleep... See photo above.

Max getting back at Thomas.

Sleep disorientation makes for sleep deprivation... makes for poor blog writing. Makes for feelings of hectic-ness. Work being busy, apartment being messy, blah blah blah... economy failing, presidential debates and whatnot.

I have a million excuses, did I mention the hectic-ness?

Any hoo, the one non-hectic light at the end of this week is that I ordered the boys' halloween costumes.

The. Cutest. Costumes. E.V.E.R.

I spent more $$ than a mama in this recession should. But - I swear - I will keep these costumes forever.

Plus next year I might not be able to get them to dress how I want them to dress.

Behold Max's Frog costume:
And Thomas's Monkey costume:

I predict that they will be criminally cute.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

How It Is These Days

A couple months ago, I read Haruki Murakami's little book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. There was something going on with me then, an itchiness, restlessness. I attributed a bit of it to missing my daily walks to work (the commute to the new job is a drive), some of it to... what shall we call it? Not so much lost love, though sort-of... loss of faith in love? Something in that neighborhood. A kind of loneliness I'm not sure I've experienced before. One that had to do with a missing faith somehow.

But that's for another time. The point was, there were some things going on, and I knew I needed something. B and I were at Elliott Bay Books, and there it was, this little book, so I got it. It didn't take long to read, and as I read it, I kept thinking "This is such an odd little book..." I think of Murakami as a kind of fantastical mysterious writer, having read only A Wild Sheep Chase until now, and this book is so simple. Just a little piece about writing, and running.

Still, it influence me. I kept getting this image of carving, of chipping away. It was an image about the passage of time, about effort applied over time. Effort applied to your own being, changing word by word and stride by stride, the person you are. I wanted that.

I've always suspected that I would like running, if I could get over the initial pain of it. In high school I went through a lonely phase of running with a big clunky walkman and god knows what shoes, but I was always afraid that someone I knew would see me running, and I hated that idea. I ran for a while when I lived with Elvis, trying to follow a training regime that prescribed a few minutes of running, alternated with a few minutes of walking. It didn't suit me, and what little running there was converted back to walking.

Part of the problem has always been finding time. This is what you tell yourself when you are not yet ready to find time. After I read the Murakami it seemed obvious that the thing to do was wake up in the morning, and run. So I started doing that, 7 weeks ago. And now I have enough runners in my life that it isn't lonely quite the way it used to be. Tami and I talk about it, and Leslie and I, and of course there's B. But even more than that, there's some way in which I just keep myself company better now than I was ever able to in the past.

And as I suspected, and hoped, the running has been like chipping away at something. I feel better. Whatever was hurting me was like something on me, something weighing me down, and it's going now. What I'm looking for now is some little path to the writing, some clearing that might lead somewhere, that might lead to miraculously finding time for the words the way I found time to run.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

This is just to say...

I miss you lady! What a fun day that was at Freeman's. XOXO HM