Tuesday, August 16, 2011

5. A Dream

I don't know where we were. She was visiting, a surprise. When I put my hand on her arm, it was so thin. Anyone could see that, but there was the feel too, warm and dry, the bones right there, unapologetic. I thought I might wake up to hear that she had gone, but that call hadn't come yet.

Cantaloupe always reminds me of her. Small dogs with underbites, and those snake-looking things that are used to clean swimming pools. Kidney shaped swimming pools. Orca whales, Shamu in particular, and those little sailor hats, like the one Gilligan wore on the island that bore his name. Matching skirts with extra twirl, corduroy vests. The desert. Small lizards. Tijuana and its brightest, cleanest souvenirs. Big tissue paper flowers, papier mache marionettes. White hair, fresh curls from the beauty parlor, baby blue slacks. The scar on the heel of my palm. A disdain for what she'd call "nasty neat". Pet rocks.  The phrase "Well, that's true," said in a certain tone. My own mother. The Lawrence Welk show, over football. Football too. The Arizona Cardinals and Matt Leinart. The black puffy vest I bought myself at the Gap from her one year, that I still wear at least a decade on. I can't think of her without thinking of her husband. I don't know how to know who is at peace with what, and what will surprise us later. I wonder if there's anything to apologize for, or if it's all okay. The town of Malmo in Sweden. Needles wrapped in a grosgrain pouch, tiny double-pointed sets for socks, single pointed in sizes for baby sweaters. I don't know why that's the thing I am most thankful for, I only know it is.

Friday, August 12, 2011


My Sparkly Golden Robot Nails

So, this summer I am spending time away from the twins for the first time since they were born. Well, actually, since I got pregnant. Four years of them virtually every day and night. That's a long time time to have two little people dependent on you for their comfort, care and feeding.

And then there's the part where they syphon off the majority of my patience and emotional energy. Though we are not physically tethered, I am convinced that there is an invisible vortex between us, sucking all of the vital emotional components out of me, to them.

I've had my trepidations about leaving them. Will they get fed? Put down for naps on time? Will the potty training continue? Who will wake up with them at 2 AM? Will the sunscreen be applied regularly? Will their teeth get brushed?

The long weekend in Southern California has come and gone and it was well worth the effort. The boys were fed, cared for, entertained and maintained. At least not broken or damaged in any permanent way — though they have now discovered the meaning of spanking.

That might be to my advantage, just as a threat of course.

For me, it was so fun to have a weekend where the only person I needed to be concerned about caring for, feeding and putting to sleep was me. When other wedding guests asked what I planned for the non-wedding activity time, my answer was simple: sleep, sleep, sleep.

And I did.

I also got a manicure, got a pedicure, got my hair done, drank some (a lot of) champagne, wore some new dresses, wore some new shoes, read some seriously trashy novels, perused some super trashy magazines and TOOK A BUBBLE BATH!

Now I have the weekend in Seattle coming up and I am really excited to get to visit without the constant planning around nap schedules (though the Reunion Schedule must be respected), at least not the twins nap schedules.

I may make a nap schedule for myself.

Maybe this time I will get to go to Larry's joint, or this restaurant, where our plans were thwarted by snow and scheduling snafus on the last trip. Maybe I'll get some Tracy Pucci eyebrows, or a glass of wine and some paté at Campagné.

Don't get me wrong, I will miss the boys every little minute.

But for the first time in a long time, I am getting to enjoy being by myself. With you, of course.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

1. A Day

At work, I have a bias for candidates who tell me about what it was like to love a job. In friends, I have a bias for people who make me mix tapes, CD's, whatever. We've talked about this before. There's something else to say about it though, the way it signifies, to me, someone's ability to think about, oh, say, you driving your car to work in the morning, or, even better, about the more unpleasant drive home, that time of day when everything gets all gummed up and NPR drones and the Cedar Grove composting site in Everett goes all foul-smelling in the sun and you are so ready to be home and over it all. If there is a mix CD, or the first draft of the Daffodils new album, none of that is so bad. It's just what lies between you and avocado crab enchiladas from the co-op, and the blooming potato fields that surround the house, and everything the evening holds.

The accident on the way home today was two cars all the way over the guard rail, both right side up, surprisingly, one facing south instead of north. These things happen, maybe an accident this bad about once every three months, and they stick with me. Traumatic to me in some small, corner of the eye way, traumatic to someone else on a much bigger scale. I've been thinking about trauma a lot these days, both the big sudden kind, and the long sustained conditioning that tends to resonate through the years, surprising you with your own reactions to things. Surprising me with my own reaction to things.

Most days, I notice what happens when I walk in the door in one of the places where I am supposed to belong. At work there are two ways to go in, and I alternate depending on my mood. Walk past the exec offices, or stop in the lunchroom for hot water for tea? Those choices start the world in two different ways. In Bow, Emmy predictably barks, but sometimes she also gently nips at my hand as I reach down to pet her on the walk back to the front gate to close it for the night. Sometimes Tom is in the house, doing dishes, but most often he's out in the back these days, watering or piling dirt up around the potato mounds, and sometimes he leaves what he's doing to say hello, and sometimes he doesn't, sometimes he just waves. At the Ballard house, it was the same way, sometimes Kate and Jason on the couch, watching a movie, Kate knitting or playing words with friends or something like that on her iPhone. Sometimes they would stop the movie to talk, sometimes not. Sometimes I was Special Guest Star, and sometimes it was Tuesday. Sometimes it was a house full of guys with beards and stringed instruments, apologizing for being in the way of the door up to my space. Yesterday Jason saw me coming from where he sat on the couch, and got up to open the door and let me in. That was the first time he had ever done that, and probably the last. Moving day is any week night for the next few weeks, and then it's mini-farm forever after. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

THE EELS, Showbox, August 9, 2011

Some of the sounds were like a 6th grader, working on learning the flute. The horns section, two guys in what looked  like bellhop suits, turned towards the curtain behind the stage when they weren't working, kids in the naughty corner, only more dignified. There was La Marseillaise gone wrong, and something muppet-like about E's singing, and that potent pause right in the middle of one song, then the start-up again, loosely choreographed and bad-ass, that thing they did with the necks of their guitars, and there were other weird little bits of choreography, all of them getting up close to the drummer as though they were paying homage, and when E turned around to face his band instead of the audience it was like the center of gravity of the whole room had been lifted up and set down amongst the seven of them, and later there was another still part, just the drum going, rattling something so deep in my chest that my collarbone felt like a tuning fork. E didn't let a song end before he had the next guitar on, and in between  he'd call out things like "I LIKE HOW THIS IS GOING" and the whole show seemed wild and capable, precise and brutish and tender all at once, and made me almost wish I was a man.