the ocean wins…

Yesterday we walked along the beach clad in tall rain boots, jeans, and raincoats. The clouds above were dark and fluffy. Thinning out in spots to reveal a brilliant blue sky. We guarded ourselves from the gentle gusts of wind with stocking caps as we watched foam from the waves tumble across the glossy wet sand. I hid my eyes behind dark sunglasses as the obscured sun made the sky brighter than I could cope with, even as the dark clouds threatened to open up on us once again.

The ocean was as the ocean always is. Powerful. But for the moment it was also quiet. Giant waves were crashing on Haystack Rock but the water pushed slowly to the shore. Sometimes breaking too far away. I wanted to run to them but I waited and walked along the shore. Knowing soon the waves would come to me. Would wash further up. To kiss the toes of my boots and swirl around my ankles.

I longed to feel the pull of the ocean as the waves drew back and the sand shifted beneath my feet. To feel the sweetly sickening swoon and close my eyes to feel the ocean tug at my body and my heart.

I looked back to my partner watching bubbles in the sand. And I breathed and I smiled. It was good that we took the day to spend there. To breathe the ocean air. To hold hands and goof off. To roll logs and play in the sand. And I couldn’t help thinking that. All of that and more. And I may have been gazing a bit too lovingly. But I pulled my eyes away to look back at the ocean just in time to see the waves about to overtake me.

“Shit! Run!” I yelled and laughed as I ran up the beach grabbing is hand up in mine as we tried to make our way out of the waves that were already rising past our ankles, over rain boots, up past our knees. The water pushed up to my waist as we finally made our way out of it, both nearly getting pulled over. Pulled in.

We walked what felt like miles back to the car. Boots weighed down with ocean water. Jeans sticking to chilled flesh. Smiling and sighing and laughing. Rolling logs and watching for signs of life that had crept up the shore. Heavy as we dragged our feet across the sand in waterlogged socks and full boots. But light. Smiling with the reminder that the ocean always wins.

And knowing we had a change of clothes in the car.

surviving the sunpocalypse… 

Yesterday North America witnessed a celestial event the likes of which many of us had never seen. Or that we just couldn’t remember.

Not because this doesn’t happen every few years, but because it doesn’t happen every few years here. And it’s never happened in North America during the age of the internet when all the details on anything you could want to know are available at the touch of a finger. Not even at the touch of a button. Just a finger!

Today we saw a solar eclipse. People from all over made their way to the path of the totality, which is a fancy way of saying where you can see the total eclipse, and made themselves at home. Some for hours, some for days. Probably some for weeks. People planned their weeks around this event. Their summers. Their year. THEIR LIVES! Folks were excited for this once in a lifetime experience. Though it’s worth mentioning that the once in a lifetime part is probably an exaggeration for most since there was a solar eclipse viewable from North America 1979 and there’ll be another in 2024. People have already started planning for that one too.

But what I’m saying here is that the excitement and mania were real. Folks were so prepared for every little detail. They were willing to be stuck in their car for hours or days. They made sandwiches, filled flasks, stocked up on water. Made charts. Researched optimal places. Made reservations. Camped and stuff.

But me? I just kind of worried that it would bring about the zombie apocalypse. Or at least the end of the world as we know it. And it felt like something I just had to deal with. Had to make a plan to see. But it was a chore. It felt rote. A celestial event is happening. We must see it because we must. Do the things you must do. I had no room for wonder or joy.

That morning Total Eclipse of the Heart was stuck in my head so I played it as I worked. We had our glasses and a vague plan to walk to the park as the totality neared. We could see the sun from the back patio and decided we would just go out and peek every once in a while and then get going when the eclipse was well under way.

And then it happened. I stepped out onto the cold concrete with my bare feet and walked to the spot with the optimal view of the bright orb hanging  in the sky. I slid on my cardboard eclipse viewing glasses and I looked up into the sun. A tiny little nick of the sun was missing. Just a smidgen. A nibble from perfectly round cookie.

And my breath was gone. And my resting bitch face softened and stretched into a smile. And I maybe did a little dance on the cold concrete of the patio. And I snatched up a cushion from the nearest patio chair and placed it on the ground at the optimal viewing point. I snuggled up against my partner to feel a tiny bit of human warmth and connection in this absolutely stunning moment of a tiny little bit of the eclipse starting to show.

I called for my kid, I wiggled in place like an excited puppy about to go for a walk and I marched them out into the backyard with instruction to stand on the chair cushion. And they looked up at the sun and said “that’s cool” before taking off the eclipse shades and heading back inside.

I worked for a while, keeping one eye out the back door waiting for eclipse signs. Or apocalypse signs. Whichever.

I was excited. Anxious. It felt like Christmas morning and I was waiting to unwrap the mysterious package under the tree. We went out onto the patio a few more times. All of us, not just me the excited Christmas morning puppy of joy. And then we made our way to the park. Where I danced and squealed and jumped and snuggled and took photos of a bright orb that to my iPhone camera in no way looked like an eclipse. And it was good. And I embraced a surge of joy for the first time in a while.

Let’s face it, this year has been a rough one with all of the horrible goings on in the US. And it’s been a struggle personally as well, on many levels. But there in the park watching others gaze up into the sky or peer into their cereal boxes. Watching my two favorite people stoically participate. Inspecting the patterned shadows on the ground. And the dusk sky well before noon. There was joy.

And all fear of the sunpocalypse, armageddon, of the world ending in a giant beam of light, of zombies, or newly powered super heroes and super villains faded away to a moment of peace. Reflection. And joy.

We walked and babbled and looked up as the moon made its way out of the sun’s light. We went to our favorite coffee shop for a treat. And then we came home and I settled in to work the rest of the day. Calmer. Happier. Listening to It’s the End of the World as we Know it and I Feel Fine.

And I did…

words…

short of breath
not for lack of air
but because it catches
in my mouth. in my nose. in my throat.
with thoughts of why and how and why now
because everything used to be simple
easy
except that’s misremembering
nothing has even been either of those
and the breath I can catch flows like water
too much too soon and it’s just as bad as none
and the lights flicker
and my heart throbs or stops
I can’t be sure which
and I can’t make reason
as I close me eyes
imagining I have a place for calm

pea based existential crisis… 

I think the headline says it all. I am deep in the middle of questioning who I am at the very heart of my being. As long as I have known myself certain truths have always been both deeply engrained in who I am and floating right on the surface for all to see. They permeate every fiber of my being. And while things like being a blue-eyed, pea-hating, sci-fi watching, ice cream loving, daughter, sister, and person from my very earliest recollection aren’t exactly who I am they do make up a fair part of what I identify as who I am.

You can add some other anecdotal truths that I discovered and owned as a person later in life to get closer to the truth of me. Blue eyed, pea hating, sci-fi watching, ice cream loving, daughter, sister, tattooed, black-haired, introverted, word loving mama bear. Pea-hating never budged from that list. Not in 40 years of life as I’ve known it.

I can trace the pea loathing back to some of my earliest memories. Holidays with the family. Dinner at my grandparents house. Sitting around a table in a little dining area off the kitchen with the dishwasher that could be moved around. it had a butcher block top, like an island.

And there in that dining room at that table were peas. A big bowl of overcooked stinky peas. And my grandfather had it in his head that I had to eat them. And I didn’t want to. And you couldn’t make me. And I sat there obstinate. Immovable. Unwilling to put those smelly things on my fork let alone in my mouth. But he made me eat the damn peas.

And I seem to recall vomit coming into play here. I think I threw up. Because peas!! But that could just be my dramatic childlike recollection of what was a traumatic event for me that was an everyday occurrence for adults.

At that moment. Sitting at that table. Thinking about that rolling dishwasher. And my family in the living room watching tv. And whether or not I’d be able to sneak a maraschino cherry from the fridge later. That was the moment that I decided I hated peas.

My pea-hate has gone through many phases. Including that strange childhood phase of needing people to take my pea aversion seriously when I just lied and said I was allergic to them. My youth included a lot of picking peas out of things I wanted to eat. Picking them out of fried rice in particular probably amounted to hours of my life. To this day if I were to be graced with a plate of fried rice and it had peas in it, I would pick them out. I have no doubt.

But this pea-hatred. This pea-phobia. This pea-loathing phenomenon has somehow, for the most part, come to an end. It wasn’t so long ago in the grand scheme of things that my partner suggested I reconsider allowing peas in their pod into my life. And after time left to reflect on it I eventually did. They’re not an everyday thing but they happen without hesitation.

And then earlier this week while doing our meal planning and trying to ensure we were building in sides with plenty of the right nutrients and fiber he suggested peas. Just plain old peas. Not still in their shell but PEAS. Those little round evil fuckers that have been the bane of my mealtime existence as long as I’ve been able to recall.

Without a thought I added them to the shopping list with the idea that we’d just make them for him. But when it came time to make them I wanted to give cooking them a try. Because I watch too many cooking shows. And because I had never prepared peas.  And then just like that I wondered how they’d taste with goat cheese. Then I decided goat cheese would be best in mushy peas with a little butter, salt and pepper. And everything kept piling up in my head until I decided that it was time to give peas a chance. I made Rick taste them first just to be certain they wouldn’t kill anyone. When he didn’t fall to the floor gagging from the taste I gently scooped up a tiny bite, put it in my mouth, and let it settle on my tongue. And then without any hesitation, gagging, or thought of throwing up I swallowed them. Then dished up a hearty portion on each plate. Because I liked them. I really did.

And I don’t really know who I am anymore… Also I’ll be making them again next week.

words…

they buzz and swirl while I sleep
a funnel cloud
scratching, nagging
tickling memories
inciting panic
ensuring unrest
until their buzzing leads to tossing
turning
and I open my eyes in the dark.

sometimes I’m happy to be wrong…

Sunday afternoon, after a weekend that saw more than its fair share of errands, chores, and video games, we walked down to the local theater to see a matinée screening of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2.

Before we go any further let me address the obvious. The thing many of you probably know. I am a cranky old lady who likes things a certain way and is often frustrated and annoyed with the actions of others. Like all others. I don’t have a list of people who I find frustrating or annoying. I have a list of people I don’t find frustrating or annoying. No that’s inaccurate. Let me restate. I have a list of people who are so endearing and amazing to me that I overlook any annoyance or frustration I feel for them because I love and celebrate them.

What I’m saying here is that I’m probably not the kind of person you want to go to the movie with because I often find the completely socially acceptable behavior of people in public places to be an annoyance and it’s not entirely unlikely that I will complain about it later.

But it is something I do know about myself so I strive to keep it in check or just stay home.

But I love movies. Particularly super hero movies. And my heart has a big soft spot for the Marvel universe. And it’s been a rough few months and I needed some mindless entertainment. So to the local theater we went. With popcorn. And beverages. And we sat in the same seats we always sit in because while they are old they are perfectly comfortable and do not squeak and are in what I would consider to be the perfect viewing location. Plus there’s a little wall in front of them on which I can set my drink or prop my feet.

And the theater started filling up. And it got crowded. And my normally empty row saw people filing in first on one side of us and then on the other. And wouldn’t you know it a group of three adolescent boys filed in and sat next to me. And I am not ashamed to admit that as they started talking loudly and boisterously I immediately prepared myself for agitation. And told myself that I couldn’t ask them to be quiet until they had been a disruption at least three times after the movie started.

I know I’m a killjoy. I know I’m easily annoyed. I also know that it’s usually more my problem than anyone else’s.

And then it happened. In the midst of their talking and laughing and showing each other pictures on their phones one of them kicked over a glass soda bottle. I heard it spin. And I heard that telltale gloop and sizzle as the sticky sweet highly carbonated beverage spilled over the floor. And the kid who had kicked the soda over reached down and picked up the bottle to examine the fullness and declared “that’s not too bad.”

And all three of them stood up at once. And I, being the pessimistic person I am, expected that they would just walk away to another set of seats. Instead the three set into action. One of them, closest to the door, declaring “I’ll go get some towels!” while the second turned on the light on his phone to shine it on the area. The boy who had spilled looked around to make sure it went no further and said “I’m sorry I got it on your shoes” to the boy who was lighting the area as the third boy ran back in with a handful of paper napkins. The spiller began to clean up the mess while the third boy ran out to get more napkins realizing that the first batch wouldn’t be enough.

They cleaned up the entire mess, threw away the napkins, and were settled back in chatting happily when the previews began. They talked in hushed tones through the previews and then silence fell on the lot of them for the entire movie. The only noises I heard were the crunching of popcorn and laughter.

They were good kids who I immediately judged too harshly just because they sat in my cranky row.

And I was happy to be proven wrong. This time.

 

 

 

tales of a traveling introvert: television time…

Getting to travel for work is pretty damn cool. It’s a problem sometimes, sure. But it’s not a bad problem to have. Where I often run into trouble, outside of the logistics and being away from my people, is that I need me time. I need quiet. I need to decompress. I need to sit in a room where no one is expecting anything of me and just be me.

After a long day of travel or working more than 12 hours each day during a trip that quiet night time becomes more important than ever. At home I’d be watching tv with my kid or hanging out in the kitchen while my guy cooks up something delicious. I might be watching something on streaming, playing video games on my iPad, or listening to music. I might just be staring at the wall.

The important part is that I feel safe being me. And that no stress or effort is brought into the equation.

Here enters the pain in the ass of hotel TVs. If I want to climb into bed and put something on the TV I don’t want to first learn a whole new system in every city, country, or hotel that I’m in. I don’t even have the channels on my tv at home memorized (except the food network — channel 66) so I really don’t want to try to figure out the channels somewhere else. But the TV in my room on this trip and the TV in my room the last trip both had Netflix as an option.

You sign in with your own account. You get your own queue and lists. You don’t have to worry about navigating the hotel’s wifi or keeping your devices charged. And at the end of the day you can throw on a comfy pair of PJs, put your feet up, and jump right into your 20th re-watching of Buffy the Vampire Slayer right where you left off.

It’s a big comfort of home without having to worry about anything but signing in. Assuming, that is, that you can remember your password.

this is not forty…

Forty is a landmark. A milestone. It’s a fixed place in time. It comes with a set of expectations. A certain amount of understanding. Of yourself. Of the people around you. Of the world.

Tomorrow, as far as my birth certificate is concerned, I’ll hit that landmark. But for me nothing feels set in stone. It doesn’t feel like the 40 I pictured as a child. It doesn’t look like the 40 I was warned of in my twenties. It isn’t the 40 I imagined I would look back on with wisdom when I’m old.

39 and 364/365ths…

I’m messy and imperfect. I don’t know how to live in this world. I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost family. I’ve lost my way a few times too.

I forget to pick up my socks off the floor and I leave wet towels on the bench by the bed. I lose things. I only clean up my kitchen before I go to bed so I can prep coffee for the next day. And honestly sometimes I just move aside the dirty dishes to fill the pot. I either go to bed too early or far too late. I buy comic books that I forget to read for months. I watch too many cooking shows, but I rarely cook.

I’m still a little bit in love with Han Solo.

I’ve gone through way more iPhones than I feel is acceptable. I’ve never gotten the hang of eye makeup. I still don’t know how to accessorize. My kid and my boyfriend both have better fashion sense than I do. My love of polka dots has probably reached the level of mania. And I still haven’t found the perfect shade of nude lipstick.

But I have found the right red lipstick. And I can make a perfect omelet. I know that espresso can be correct. My favorite boots and I have seen a bit of the world. I still love a good gin martini, but I’ve also gained an affection and appreciation for bourbon. I’ve made friends that I truly know, and who know me. My family is close, in proximity and in my heart.  I’m fortunate to be the parent to a most amazing person. Privileged to be partnered to the person I didn’t know to dream of.

And I’ve learned how to love and let others love me.

This is not the forty I thought It would be. But it is mine.

can you hear me?

When I was little, back in the olden days before the internet, I remember sitting on the rough commercial-grade carpet of the library floor. I was alone in a big aisle of books as my mother looked for something to read in another section. 

I loved to sit there flipping through the pages of pictures. Of great art. Far away places. Unusual people. 

It was on that floor that I discovered a love of many great artists, cultivated admiration for strong leaders with courage and conviction, found awe in architecture built with not only function but artistic reverence, and began a longing to see worlds beyond my own. 

I was young at the time. So young that my realities were a bit confused. And while my conscience and convictions were building and solidifying, I hadn’t yet settled on my beliefs. It was at a time when I pretty much had the same faith in Santa, God, and the US President. I believed they were real and I never expected or needed to meet them. But I felt like it was important possess a way to communicate with them. You know, just in case. Santa and the President were simple. I could write them letters. North Pole. White House. Done. 

But God. I’d never been sure how to get a message up to him until that day on the library floor when I opened up a book on Barcelona and saw a picture of Gaudi’s Cathedral. 

I saw the flowing spires reaching up to heaven. The surreal structure. And in this particular image the impossible blue sky. It was like a dream. 

And I knew. 

I just knew that if I needed God to hear me that is where I needed to go. To lie on the floor of the great Sagrada Familia and look into the arches. I knew that whispers that passed from my lips would go right to God’s ear. 

Years have passed and my understanding of the world has formed, changed, flowed, and been made strong. It’s also been battered, bruised and made unclear. What I know to be true continues to feed my convictions. What I know I don’t know continues to fuel my curiosity. And what I can’t conceive of continues to surprise me. And in most ways I am not that little girl on the library floor. 

But today while on a work trip to Barcelona I had the opportunity to walk through the doorway of Sargada Familia. To gaze upon its spires. To look lovingly at the organic interior columns and supports. To sate some of the curiosity of my childhood self. That wild white haired blue eyed tiny me that believed in everything. 

And I kneeled down on the cool hard floor. I rocked back on the heels of my favorite boots. Well worn boots. Boots that have visited every country I have. I dropped to a seat and began to lean back. To look up. I could feel the cold stone on the small of my back as I lifted my eyes and iPhone toward the heavens and just as my recline was almost complete and I was telling myself that it didn’t matter my beliefs. That right now a whisper from my lips would be worthwhile even though there are no ears to hear it…


“You can’t do that!” Came the voice of a woman whose job, apparently, was to keep everyone off the floor and squash childhood dreams. 

But it was still a beautiful ceiling…

am I blue….

blueI woke up this morning with a feeling I can’t shake. Sad. Distant. Nauseous instead of hungry. I saw my kid off to school. And might I add that my kid looked particularly cool today wearing a studded jacket I’d purchased as a gift for them on my first ever trip to Europe. Mentally I acknowledged that it was a pleasant thing to see them enjoying a gift I’d gotten for them. I knew it should have lit up that happy part of my brain. But instead I just acknowledged that there was a blank spot where that happy feeling should be.

I thought about pouring a cup of coffee and starting my day. It was early and typically I let myself take it easy on Friday mornings. I start later than normal. I don’t take meetings. I work in my pajamas. I didn’t feel the need to comfort myself, to give myself that Friday morning gift of calm, but there was a space in my brain where I knew that need belonged. Also I wasn’t prepared to brave the online world yet. So I went back to bed.

The warm arms waiting there should have been a happiness. The soft pillows should have brought calm and joy. The heavy comforter weighing me down should have been soothing.

There was a space in my brain where all of that belonged. And I knew it. But it wasn’t there today.

So I slept. Hard dreamless sleep. Drooling on my pillow out cold sleep. Sleep until the alarm goes off and wonder where you are kind of sleep. And I wondered only briefly before I realized I was in my own bed. And it’s still the day it was when I woke the first time. And I was still just sitting on the outside looking in.

The only thing I feel today is blue…

And also completely and utterly unable to concentrate.