Sunday, November 23, 2014

Twelve: An anniversary homage

Unlike others before him
Errantly pursuing heart before head.

Via my mind did he win  my love.

Through discussions over coffee every Mon, Wed, and Fri morning.
Through challenging everything and everyone, motivated only by the earnest desire to learn.

Through wool sweaters and academia.
Through discussions of Bart, Kierkegaard, Pannenberg, Volf, Zizioulas.
Through his curiosity of my own love of Bronte and Shakespeare.
Through educating me on Ethiopian coffee and the french press method.

Through the quick learning of how to help me thrive but never suffocate or dominate.
Through chasing me down after Hermeneutics with Dr. Spawn to suggest an album I might like because he'd heard that I like electronica.
Through a beat-up Morcheeba CD. 

Through taking me to his home very early in our relationship.
Through the love of his parents and sisters.
Through Snoqualmie Falls and Ballard Locks and ferry trips to Bainbridge Island.

Through that hair.
Through his gift of allegory. 
Through his love of space and sky.
Through being a feminist before we were brave enough to label it as such.

Through those eyes, pure and unquestioning.
Through long drives.
Through the mix of surprising naivete and piercing wisdom
(he had not dated anyone before me).

Through that height.
Through arms so strong yet always wanting to be touched.
Through an openness I've never gotten to the bottom of.
Through the Orange Avenue apartment.

Through pipes.
Through games of chess.
Through a 1973 orange Dodge pickup with a hole in the floor.
Through Rush and ELO and Massive Attack and Debussy.

Through loving the ones I loved

Through introducing me to souls I'd long been curious about,
 knowing love cannot come from one source.
That we must diversify to survive.

Through a bookstore proposal.

He stood there, holding his hands out with all of these offerings,
and one more thing.

He told me he had no doubts about me
because I would always purse new ideas and chase down change.  
He was right.  
As Virginia Woolf says,
 "A self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living.”

And changed we have.  I have.
And I often question and evaluate our love within that new change.
And thankfully, magically
that love has changed with us.
Many are not as lucky.

If we can learn to love the evolution of persons one human will journey through in this life,
then we need not fear the loss of love.

He found my deepest respect, continuing admiration, and intellectual vitality.
The way to my heart, as it so happens.

So we go on living.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

where we go

I'm not sure how it started.
Most likely in the normal way.
Let's get the girl out of the house and let Mother Nature

One success breeds desire for repeat results.

She was cautious at first, as she is wont to be.  
Staying close and preferring sand to sea.
But we kept coming back, to the Golden Garden.

And now she she wants to be in the water.
At all times.
Even though the chill of Autumn has cooled the Puget Sound waters considerably.

We just keep coming back.
There's rarely a week of our lives that we don't drive due west 10 minutes.

In late winter, she hated the sand.  
Now, she wants to immerse her soul in the grains.
And sand control has become part of our lives.
Finding it under covers and folded into socks.

And it has taught me a lesson I was sure I wasn't capable of,
to let go
to not be bothered.
At least not by sand.


It's our spot.  
It's where we go
To feel our lives.
To force breath into all the anxious nooks and crannies,
To dig deep and deeper into the fine grain of minutia.


To slow down and look at rocks.
To see how light changes your view
And how shadows hug you tight.

And to occasionally see baby seals taking naps in the sunset.
And to eat Paseo's.
And to reset bad days 
And to better good days.

But mainly, we go back 
to be shocked back into our own skin by the unparalleled beauty of 
right now, right here.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Adieu, weekend

It is with sadness that I reluctantly bid the weekend goodbye.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Wherein Bowie grows 4 years in 2 weeks and other thoughts on letting go

As with most families this time of year, as with most trees, and as with most accessories, we are in transition.  Our wonderful FT nanny has moved on and we've placed Bowie into a great Spanish immersion school a few miles from our home.

I don't know if you know this about me, but I have a tendency to imagine the worst.  However, I recently realized that this isn't just me!  Apparently the human species is hard-wired to anticipate threats.  It's left-over vigilance from a time where predators ruled our existence and staying alive depended upon staying alert, wary, sharp, and careful.

My therapist brought this up in counter-argument to my dubious reaction to the power of positive thinking.  I see it working for many people, but I assumed that in order to feel positive, one must entirely ignore the negative.   Otherwise, it would be self-deceit, and that is one thing I cannot abide.

But what if the focus on positive thinking could simply be an effort to balance the scales between our evolutionary tendency to see the worst and a practiced skill at finding goodness?

As the first day of school approached, and my dread increased, I determined to think well of it.  And this is the kicker:

If I have the power to imagine the worst
I also have the power to imagine the best.

Instead of playing reruns of Bowie weeping as I walk out the door, what if I played reruns of her happily painting pictures, engaging with her teacher and sleeping peacefully during nap time?

It turns out I didn't need to worry.  That entire first week, I said goodbye happily (as they take their emotional cues from us) and she waved saying, "Mamma go to work."  No tears, no problems.

Well, other than the crazy person that has replaced my child. Preschool has aged her overnight.  More complete sentences, more surprising emotions, worse sleep (where I hear her yelling, "It's BOWIE'S!" for over an hour), and crazy mood swings.  She's transitioning into a new version of herself, and that's so scary for me.

Because I like my baby.  My sweet, observant, independent, intelligent, easy-going, compliant, quiet baby.

This replacement model scares me because, and here's the god-awful truth:
I'm afraid I won't like her.

Then I realized that being a Mom is all about embracing every personality change your child encounters.  They will be deeply influenced by their peers and environment, and I am there to guide her through her own self-making.  It will restrict her sense of self-determination and awareness if I am attached to an old version of Bowie.

But how do I do it? I have a hard enough time not grabbing on for dear life to older versions of MYself.  But the way to self-evolution is through the proper mourning of what was.  Just allow the grief.

Allow myself to be sad at loosing my baby.  Just feel it and feel it big.  She's watching how I handle grief, so maybe I could do it for her.

But the second week of school.  Oh weary heart.  Every single day she's been upset.  Yesterday and today, she had to be pried off my legs and I had to leave with the image of Bowie reaching for me, mouth agape with cry so big it couldn't be released yet, and the feeling of my heart choking me.

Bowie at school this week. I picked her up and she didn't want to leave.

Yesterday, it ruined my entire morning.  Though I tried hard to visualize her having a great time, the image of her in grief affected me for hours.  I was more prepared for it today, but it was even worse.  I stood outside the classroom for the longest 5 min of my life (determined to have a new image to stew on for the morning, an image of her happily schooling).  As she wined down, I left.

Then I lost it.  Like royally, surprising my own self. As I took deep breaths and tried to calm myself, I realized that I was in grief too. Perhaps, just like Bowie, I needed to let it out.  I needed to not be pawed at or distracted.  I just needed to feel it.

So I cried the whole way home, I cried when I saw Joel, I cried when I made myself a cinnamon roll, I cried when I sat down to my computer.  I let the tears be grief instead of letting them spin into fears of Bowie feeling abandoned or alone.

Then I read this.
(Parents: the single-most helpful blog I've read about parenting toddlers.)

"When the children in our care are grieving a loss, our job is to facilitate that loss and simply let them grieve. Infants demonstrate the authentic expression of their feelings when given the opportunity. If we can give them the space and time to express painful feelings instead of arresting their cries, and if we can steady ourselves to work through our own discomfort, then our children can be reassured that their true responses are accepted and appropriate. Children thus can continue to experience loss naturally, learn to deal with loss capably, and know that loss is survivable."

Bowie is just learning about life.  Learning to let go, and that it's safe to do so. This lesson will hopefully give her the emotional skills to let go later in life, even and especially when it's not safe to do it.  When it's scary, when it's risky.

Like the letting go she'll experience should she have to drop off her 2-year old at preschool.

Steady girl.


Friday, August 22, 2014

All or Nothing: My Every-so-often Feminist Rant

This story begins with another story.  Several months ago, I read an interview with Lana Del Ray regarding her stance on feminism.

“For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept,” she says. “I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested.”

While this enraged me (as I hope it does you, but let's be honest - not everyone is "that interested" in the civil rights of other human  beings), I have spent months coming in and out of why this argument bothers me.   It's not just that she flippantly enjoys success because of the women who have come before her, women who had to fight tooth and nail to be taken seriously in a male-dominated industry, women pushing the boundaries of what's acceptable and polite, women with real talent that opened the ears of everyone to accept other women as talent.  It's not just because she said no to feminism by way of claiming interest in Elon Musk's contributions to society - one of my own passions - thereby polarizing those two interests.

It is the very backs of women that Lana has climbed upon to get where she is today.  But that's not my point. After this silly quote was posted to the inter-webs by a silly girl, she got eviscerated by feminists.  And let's face it, women judging other women for their choices is pretty anti-antithetical to the feminist ideal.

But it continues to raise a question for me.  Can women "opt out" of feminism as if it were a college course or an after-school club?  Do we expect too much from famous people like artist and athletes? After all, it's not usually their high moral code or praise-worthy civic duties that have made them famous.

Lana "joins the ranks of Shailene WoodleyLady Gaga and Taylor Swift, all who have recently rejected the feminist label because they “love men,” or “don’t think of things as guys versus girls.”  Source here

That's not feminism at all to me!  In fact, many of the most hard-core feminists I know are men.  But let's work on my definition, shall we?

One of my favorite British ladies, Caitlin Moran defines feminism with two questions. 1.  Do you have a vagina?  2. Do you care who is in charge of it and what happens to it?  Congrats!  If you answered yes to either, you are a feminist.

So why all the resistance to feminism?  On a personal level, the people I love often fight back on my "feminist" posts, somehow excusing or challenging the continued, blatant sexism that still exists. That may be part of the problem, maybe it's just blatant to those of us looking for it.  Perhaps in these times, the real danger of sexism is its insidious, hidden, subversive nature.  I resisted the label for a long time, but that was mainly due to ignorance and fear of image.

Perhaps we as a society are too inundated with causes and tragedies and cries for help that we can shrug our shoulders and go back to what really interests us.

I recently connected with an old friend and we started talking about gay marriage.  She doesn't know any gay people, and she mentioned that she would probably care more if she did.  I love this friend, she is smart and fiercely passionate about many causes.  I nodded at the time, but later  got to thinking - does that mean I can opt out of caring about causes like endangered species?  Because I don't know any owls, I shouldn't care about preserving them?  It doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

But then again, if someone brings up male circumcision one more time, I'm like STFU.  So that must be what Lana felt when someone asked her about feminism.  How many fucks can a person give, really? Especially when you are too busy contemplating how to perpetuate the desperate female trope and writing lyrics pleading with abusive men not to abandon you.

"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"