Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thirty

It's the last day and I got nothing but 13% on my phone battery and no charger, a hot hand on my leg, a craving for chocolate, and a Seinfeld episode on deck.

I do have this a pretty little list of 30 blog posts all crammed into one November heading.

Which feels pretty ok. I like some things I wrote that I would not have written otherwise. I make no promises beyond this point, I will be focusing on new challenges--like running again. Maybe. I won't commit to anything until I'm good and ready.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Emily D.

Wrote on envelopes
In a very thoughtful way
Not the way I would grab a
Receipt or tear up old homework
She pre-cut and had a plan
All ready at her desk
For her
The poet
With her giant pocket sewn into her dress
And a perfect, short pencil
Resting within
And maybe a letter

"...Dickinson was not blindly grabbing scraps in a rush of inspiration, as is most often supposed, but rather reaching for surfaces that were most likely collected and cut in advance, prepared for the velocity of mind."

This is from a review in Poetry magazine by Jen Bervin about the new book called The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems.

The poems do stand alone but they are fullest in their flapular space, so I won't write one here.
It's on my Powell's wish list, and you should consider it as a gift for any poetry lover in your life...Xo

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Exactly what you'd expect


Not even going to try to be original. This is my gratitude list:


1. My husband who is also my sweetest, most intimate friend. 

2. My body, which, while it doesn't always do what I want it to do, is strong and healthy and gets me through everyday with very little issue.
.

3. This city, rain or shine, and always discovering new luscious corners.
 

4. Being able to fill a plate like this. Anyday. Wow. Amazing life.


5. Having the freedom, awareness, and ability to know what special diets my family needs to feel their best and being able to create delicious dishes that make them feel pampered and loved. 


6. Whipped cream, laughter, and this girl:


7. More laughter and also this girl:


8. Finally: technology, poetry, my beautiful home, and my super supportive friends and family. 

So much goodness in my life, it's a little stunning. Hope everyone had a fulfilling and reflective day. Xo

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27: Three pictures with small narratives

Today, I did something I've never done which is get up at the buttcrack of dawn to be there when a very special bakery opened it's doors. Izzy came with me and it was totally worth it: cheesy biscuits, brownies, baguettes, stuffing bread cubes, and rustic dinner rolls....crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, but all gluten free. New Cascadia Bakery, I think we have a new day-before-thanksgiving tradition....



Ok, Hanukkah, kind of strange being the day before Turkey Day feast but I'll whip up some latkes. This was the first time I've pulled out an Avia recipe since she passed and it got choked up. (I always add an egg to each batch, too...)


Are your kids vaccinated for Google-y Eye Pox??? This boy clearly wasn't....oh no! Turkey and cranberry sauce is the cure, thank goodness. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Upon my exit

Upon my exit
I will leave behind
A mound of pistachio shells
And empty wine bottles
A tube of exquisite lip balm
A dirty minivan
An unborn breeding of potential
Talent and feature sewn into three bodies
And personal values up for grabs in the
Distracted atmosphere
A storm of whirling dervishes
And a man
A freshly broken and wonderful man
And a half of a king bed
Covered in neutral cotton

A thousand walks
and thousand fucks untaken
Ten thousand dishes unbaked and unwashed
And a millions precious kisses unplanted


Monday, November 25, 2013

I heart: Possessions

I'll just go ahead and admit it. Beautiful things give me pleasure. Clothing, shoes, furniture, jewelry, household items, and art. If it pleases my eye, it delights me. A sign hung in the house of Payson's father-in-law "Beware of your possession, for they may possess you" or something to that effect. Today, I my iPhone was stolen from the bathroom of the library; I misplaced it there and remembered 10 minutes later, but it was gone and for the next hour no one turned it in. Perhaps it is only lost. I am not upset by this, it is only a phone with some convenient information. It is not those possessions that sway me. It is the ones of rarity and beauty, and while my phone in some ways is beautiful it is far from rare. From Blake's side of the family we have many family heirlooms--jewelry and art, that not only is lovely but collectable, and also has sentiment. We will simultaneously enjoy and carry the burden of these possessions until we pass it on to out children. Which generation will finally say "enough!" and send it all to Goodwill? Now I am chained to my laptop and want to be in bed with my husband, so I will leave this as a half-developed idea, and just end, without pictures to prove it, that I love love love beautiful things but I do not believe they possess me. Finding the beauty in people always comes first.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Green eyes

My oldest doesn't half-ass anything...except maybe taking out the recycling. When she is "in to" something, she goes all out--learns all the tricks, all the facts, and somehow turns every conversation back to her current obsession. (Yeah, it can get annoying...but I dig her passion!)

She read the Hunger Game books at least 30 times each (seriously), she knows the birthdays and favorite things of all the band members of her favorite bands, she is a skilled Anime artist and she is teaching herself Japanese, just because. As a black eyeliner wearer since fourth grade, she also can paint a beautiful eye. Look at that lovely face! I am looking to her to teach me many things in my lifetime through her dedication, style, creativity, and leadership. Dear daughter, I have my eye on you!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sometimes, a haircut

The last week, and especially the last few days have been really really really challenging with a few bright spots thrown in. Here is one:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Poetry Friday: Birthday Yoga

the northern lights
behind my eyelids
have something
to show me

my body sitting on heels
limp hands in lap
has something
to teach me

locks of hair and finger nail moons
tapping the floor
have something
to tell me:

I'm as impermanent as the
ice crystals on the patio chairs
on a november morning
and as marvelous as the frosty pattern
that created it
and I will wail like a child
when reminded of either

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The boy

My boy is growing up like crazy.

After I had a rejuvenating yoga class, he was my birthday buddy: I basically dragged him along to all of my preferred activities. But he was such a good sport and ended up doing a lot if brave and exiting "firsts"!

First spa pedicure (with cool nail art!), first time trying fresh grapefruit juice, first time buying a comic with his own money, first time trying beef heart and scallops and Kalamata olives (at my birthday dinner at Andina).

Thanks for the sweet memories, my dear boy!











No Such Thing

I am basically just stealing this off of my most-famous-of-social-media-sites wall, so I can get on with my birthday. Posted, of course, by my friend Sara who's love and knowledge of Seinfeld is at par with my own. For the record, I feel the exactly opposite about birthdays, and I agree that Jerry cannot not be funny:


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It just feels right

I feel exactly my age. I will be 33 tomorrow. As far as numbers go, it just sounds lucky.

Payson (aka Knuck) asked me on the car ride home what lessons I took from my 33rd trip around the sun, what I learned in the last year. I told him that it was more of self-reflective revelations that stuck out and that seems perfectly right for your 30s doesn't it? At least in our culture, the 20s seems to be about exploration and adventure, the 30s (and sometimes 40s) about individual discovery, and beyond that more of general wisdom that comes from having decades (and witnessing the rapid change of culture) under your belt. We take so long to grow up, don't we? No judgement. I love and respect the process, it's timeless, though I tend to believe that modern, often root-lacking culture draws it out.

Mary Ruefle says in her poem "Provenance":

I hate childhood
I hate adulthood
I love being alive


Life can seem amazingly dysfunctional on the micro, and utterly blessed on the macro. I hope to someday converge the two. The mid-cro, I shall call it.

I replied to Payson, that two things stand out. One, was shining a harsh light on my coping strategies when under extreme distress. I am not often under extreme distress but I had a period just after our move, the first two months of summer where I was at a high level of crisis management around the clock. After that storm was relieved, I became like a bear in a cave: inward, easily irritated and self-soothing (that is to say self-medicating with food and drink) became priority. It was a highlighter on habits that will need to be examined....when I'm good and ready.

The second, and more positive, realization was my growing skill at advocating for my children. My tendency to avoid conflict or difficult and emotional conversations, were put to the test over the last year. When it came up though for various reasons and with various children, I was able to set meetings, organize my thoughts, and articulate them even if my voice shook....or if I shed tears in the process. I hope to be slightly less emotional when faced with advocacy and problem-solving with authoritative members of the community, but for now I have established myself as a take-me-as-I-am mother who one hundred percent has the back of her precious "whirling dervishes". In quotes because this is the phrase used by our beloved counselor, who showers us with validation that our children are all three cut of all very different yet equal shades of brightness and intensity....there is much advocating for their uniqueness in my future.

Tomorrow is just another day but I can grab it as my own: I will yoga, I will paint my toes, I will be kissed by children, I will buy new underwear, I will eat Chinese food and maybe a piece of cheesecake. Because I love being alive!



Monday, November 18, 2013

One minute

Memorial: sweet, cleansing, intimate, beautiful.

NIN: master if light and sound

Feet: aching, puffy

Xo

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Knuck in PDX!

Payson is here for his sister's memorial and we love every bit of our "Knuck" time. This, of course, means hiking, deep exploratory conversations, beyond belief (but true) stories, fun gifts from India, and lots of green tea and vegetables. Today, we found a back trail to Powell and made it to the top--we win!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I'm not attached

I have not put an ounce of stress into this month of blogging so far. I made the "commitment" but do not feel attached to any outcome. I do typically like to finish what I start, but blogging daily AND not stressing about means the quality of content goes way down. Still, that's fine. Sure, I might have a moment where I think "oh god this is not the time for some literary co-hort to peek at the ole blog!"

I have to ask myself 'why even commit?' And the answer is that before this my blog was totally ignored. Brushing off the dust is a step toward something, if not reviving it completely, at least making some stabs--even if only four posts end up making an impact either on myself creatively or another reader--then that is certainly better than nothing. I do HAVE TO getting habit of writing without fuss, practice my natural voice on the page to keep my writing propelling forward, and I'm not spending good money on a creative writing degree for nothing. Writing has always been stitched into me, and I know that however it plays out it's going to lead me to living a more whole and complete existence: it's a path to myself and to how I relate to and effect others. Ripples. I'm not going to pull my toes from the pool anymore, the waves I make are natural, and I am creeping my way towards being unafraid.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Poetry Friday: For Eros

I can not carry my sex with me,
put my erotic statehood in a jar
and swim in it at length--
(one might never return)

"these pants come off"

she sings
she sings
she sings

I have nothing to grasp in the night
sweetbitter on repeat
falling through pleasure, chained
air whistling through parted fingers

your chest hums
I come

death lives there

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Family photos



I really should call our friend and photographer, Amy Wilbanks, to set up a family photo shoot. It's been almost three years since our last...? When your baby is five and a half, that's too long. I know, they are *just* photographs. "Omg, we are totes overdue for our professional family photo shoot" is very first world problems of me. Yet the sessions we've done are so dear to me. Once, the last one actually, was a day in the life theme, and Amy got pictures of us making tea and gathering chicken eggs. They look like images fit for a magazine feature, and they perfectly capture how I saw our family at the time, and how I will always remember those homeschooling, urban homestead years (that will never be realized in the same way again.)







That is some precious shit right there. I am person who moves from day to day and time to time, shedding my past and not curating a future: the present is where I live. I will never be the family member who in old age can recite memory after memory and accurately recall who was there and how it went down. I can barely remember how breakfast went down. And all of those experiences, especially each phase of our family life has shaped me--shaped me deeply--but I am one who will want to look back, I'll need help looking and as someone who responds so deeply to beauty, the more beautiful the image the more emotional access I have to the times it captures.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mr. Wing

Sometimes you are ready to love someone instantly because of what they mean to someone else you love. But you don't know how they will resonate with you in the Real. Gordon, Blake's best friend from his critical young adult years, is reserved and warm and generous. He is great "uncle" material. I am having a hard time putting into words meeting someone who has a quiet and solid shared love for the person you love the most, who has offered you a great favor and asked nothing return, and who you feel should have a seat saved at every table you set, just in case they want to grace it. He is a person who lives simply and prefers solitude but I want to sweep him into our lives because he is such a pure and refreshing soul. I love B and he loves B and B loves him so I love him. Come back soon, Mr. Wing.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Excerpt from "Stand-by for Grief"

I have ended up using this term of Creative Non-Fiction to work on a long piece (so far 30 pages but I feel about halfway there as far as a rough draft goes) helping me process the passing of Blake's mom--as someone who has never lost a parent or a close friend, as a daughter-in-law and mother and wife. It's been really helpful for me to not only to process the rich and difficult feelings around it but to slow down and document the unfolding of post-death experience for those that are left to sort out the "pile". The following is a short excerpt.

***

I've been waiting patiently for death, like an operator in a quiet room expecting the phone to ring. As a writer, I've stopped and started more than one piece about the lack of grief in my life. I've only lost grandparents and none of them close. It has left me feeling like my palette of human experience is missing an entire color family (blue, naturally?) I have at times fantasized about how I would react to having a death of an immediate family member—I am convinced this is not odd, Joan Didion admits to doing this in her book, The Year of Magical Thinking as well. Who would come and fill my house, how long the kids would stay home from school, if it was my husband who died, how long until I had sex again.

We imagine that the moment that will test us more severely will be the funeral...when we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to “get through it”, rise to the occasion, exhibit the strength that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. I would have a friend bring me selection of black dresses from Anthropologie a few days before the funeral, I would be too grief-stricken to shop but not out-of-it enough to not look put-together. Attendees would remark at my positive, loving spirit of acceptance, but my friends would know how I crumbled in sobs and fits of rage when the day turns to night. I would need lots of Valium but not too much that the process of grieving would be stunted--just enough to sleep. I would not drink alcohol for six months, to avoid it become a crutch. This would be my chance to model appropriate grief behavior to my children.

My husband's mother's death is the natural next step in this labyrinth walk that brings me closer to my own front and center seat to True Grief. Is it a little strange that I feel some satisfaction that I am finally getting to put a little experience into my pocket, a smear of blue on my canvas? Ring, ring. The phone is ringing but it is in the next room.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Registration Time

It's that time in the term for me, even though I'm just mid-way through my work in the current term--crafting non-fiction piece about being beside someone in grief, reading some exemplary non-fiction works, and trying to write a paper about cultural empathy--I need to chose what to take in the Winter.  This is a frustrating process for many reasons. One, the are so many amazing classes offered at Marylhurst in ALL departments, but especially in my own major which I must stay within the bounds of being that many of my old college credits were salvagable only by squeezing them into elective spots, so I don't have much room to dabble around. Also, my adviser has me on a rough schedule of what I need to take as it it comes for my concentration, but I only get to take two classes at a time and that feels painfully slow--it also feels unavoidable as I could not imagine taking more with my family obligations. I have to remind myself that slow is good, my kids are only young once, and my schooling can get more demanding in a few years when they are less dependent. And finally i am facing what I dreaded getting into this: Literature classes are hard for me. I am still a painfully slow reader and so Lit classes take SO much more of my time that writing classes. I am beginning to wonder why this is and after a conversation this weekend with some mothers about their own children and eye issues (lazy eye!) I am perculating on some ideas about the eyes and brain development, and if certain struggles I have are related--and if there is anything I can do about it. Many thoughts...but I cannot get distracted because there is already enough work in front of me today. And I smell dinner. XO

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Simple Sundays: Cheat!

This will be so simple....because for simple Sunday I am going to post a link to my friend Breana's blog who took the sweet time to post about our F-ING AWESOME WEEKEND.

Her highlights are my mostly my highlights: the dancing and singing to 90's dance hits, watching a new-to-me musical, pictionary/bananagram/cards against humanity rowdiness, mossy trees and squishy muds trails, spilling our weird secrets in steam and the green glow of the hot tub, TONS of delicious food, hot toddy's and wine, horseshoes, top secret missions, and a special shout-out to Mucinex for which my cabin-mates may have not slept as well.....she's got pictures here:

http://breanacross.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/weekend-highlights/


Being around these ladies is pure JOY, and endless laughs and understanding; I can't imagine who I'd be without this kind of nurturing adventure and these precious connections--and they love me back!!  LUCKY LUCKY LUCKY XOXOXOXO

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Poetry Friday--Saturday Edition!: Mary Ruefle

Mary Ruefle has quickly become my favorite new poet. I want to write her poems. She is so lyrically delightful that even when you don't understand her poems thematically from the first go, you don't care because it sounds so pretty coming off the tongue and excites rarely-touched parts of your imagination. Ruefle can talk about loneliness and instead of it feeling sad, it feels important and true and lovely. She marvels at the entire range of our condition; she is a body and mind at play in the natural world and seeks to see inside all that is around her, spiders included. I marvel. I seek. If I could be like any poet, I would be like Mary.


Sawdust
 
Long before Mickey Mouse,
long before his Creators
added gloves so his hands
wouldn't terrify us,
long before today's afternoon
when I was trying to take
a nail out of the wall
and it wouldn't stop coming
so I screamed
how much more of you can there be? 
Jesus was a kid
playing with a bent nail
in his father's shop
when a small amount of fascinating blood
started coming out of his thumb
so he turned to his dog
a puppy really
and offered the thumb to be licked--
without a word from anyone
just like that
not one adult around
to start screaming--
 
--Mary Ruefle, from Trances From the Blast

Friday, November 8, 2013

Lucky Ladies

I am near Mt. Hood in a cabin on the Salmon River with lots of lovely ladies. We are calling it Lucky Ladies Weekend, because we are so lucky to get to have this sweet retreat with each other to re-group pre-holidays. I made a pie in honor of it. Xo



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Today

I survived the rain with grace, wiped down the bathroom sink, finished reading a poetry book, edited ten pages of a much longer piece, made pie crust, drove my children around, made pasta, went to class, packed for a weekend trip to Mt. Hood and had really great we-know-what-we're-doing sex. Xoxo

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Burning

I build good fires,
Up to three a week in winter--
A man taught me.

My niece lost her first tooth today;
That makes her a person
and she can't go back.

While folded in half, I noticed
the ribbons in my feet--
I am crumpling from use.

I can't seem to pick an age
or a party or a God
And the logs shift and crack.

--LKP

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mama is in her office.

For the first time in my life I have a writing space that is lovely and all mine, even down to the earthy paint color. I feel very blessed to have a space of my own....and also obligated to not suck at writing because, you know, I have a whole fucking ROOM devoted to my practice. Being a student makes it feel so much more "way legit", as George would say.

Where is mama? Mama is in her office. Last door on your right down a long hallway in our big, big house on the edge of town.




The black desk looks pretty but it's spray-painted and the veneer is chipping, and also too small to sit at. One day I will add some wheels or height or better yet find a really sweet antique writing desk with spindle legs and ornate handles. We have so many clean-lined modern pieces in our home, I've enjoyed working in some more traditional pieces when I can. The office chair there is my favorite color: mustard. It is the perfect balance for my romantic desk and the Mad Men lamp.

The wall hanging is a Mexican vintage rug passed on to us by Uncle Payson, and it is one of my favorite textile pieces we own and too precious to put in a common space where we would undoubtedly stain or maim it in some fashion. Again, I adore the clean-lines, and color contrast--the cream and dark linear pattern with a few color splashes. I want to be wrapped in it when I die...semi-serious about that.

My book collection is small because I'm not a very heavy reader. Top-shelf is books from school since I began at Marylhurst a year and a half ago, along with some old journals and the better books from my hardcore domestic days: World of Baby Names has little notes written in margins when we were pregnant with all kids and making lists; The Naturally Clean Home has the recipes I used to make my own products when I cleaned houses for a few years; Raising Poultry in our chicken and duck days; and Vegan Delights only because it has a great recipe for "mock tomato sauce"--a few of us around here are sensitive to nightshades.




Where I actually sit and read and write and edit and click and drink coffee or wine depending on the hour, is the big blue chair. $20 at Deseret Industries, $10 for the matching ottoman. Serious score. The little table was Blake's grandmother's on his dad's side, Hedwig. It is topped with gold-embossed leather. Poetry notebooks, legal pads, The Social Neuroscience of Empathy, Mary Ruefle, and a pen or two live there today.

I have been collecting mother and child (or Mary and Jesus, depending on your enterpretation) art since I was a teen, and one of my favorites hangs above. Yes, that is my one and only belly cast on the wall, when I was round and full with baby George.





Across the way, my view from the chair, are French doors, big trees, mossy roofs, and bounding cats. An original Dali sketch I swooped from B. The typewriter has faded ribbon but the kids love to come in here and type their names or write me weird notes. The file cabinet holds old magazines and assignments. A vintage 60's dress with impressive embroidery hangs along with an old Chinese woven hat. The closet holds many more pieces I've collected since I was young. Sometimes a dress comes out to play but otherwise I just feel the need to be a keeper of days-gone-by fashion (that was my past major, you know.)

An essay from last term, chopped apart and reformed--on the topic of marriage, compassion, mental health, and rebellion. The closet door makes a fine editing wall. I hope to remove that one and breathe organization to a new piece soon. But that all depends on how much writing I get done in my little room.

Xoxo








Monday, November 4, 2013

I heart: DeAnna at AT&T

To make my blogging month easier on me (I do have three kids and big dirty house and a long commute my kids' school and also am a student myself, you know) I am going to do some theme days. Simple Sundays is usually a picture and a blurb. Since I did a poem Friday I will do...yup, Poetry Fridays! (either mine or someone else's.) Now I am dubbing Monday "I heart..." Mondays, a long or short post about a random thing or person I adore. The rest of the days...well, I will just cross those bridges when I'm looking at them.  


DeAnna at AT&T just made my day. If DeAnna didn't live in Colorado and also be sitting in a cubicle with a headpiece on, I would totally inappropriately offer to buy her a cocktail or a craft brew or a Stumptown coffee.

When we moved back to our old house in late May, we did not re-hook up the internet. One: because it felt so good to be Comcast-free (those filthy greedy bastards) and Comcast is our only choice up here since the previous owners sabotaged the Qwest/CenturyLink line...they literally dug it up in the front yard and sliced the wire. Two: we are all really bad at moderation (addictive personalities, both sides of the family) and the Netflix consumption in our house was Out Of Control. George would get up way early and go watch hours of obnoxious cartoons like Johnny Test before we woke up, and when we did he'd run up to us and karate chop us in the crotch and yell "Moron!" I tried doing a thing with the queue so that only mellow educational shows were available like 'How it's Made' and 'Word Girl' but then within a few months the older kids discovered Doctor Who and we all got hooked and no one respected the queue-only rule anymore. I saw almost all spontaneous creative play cease, and the arguing over the computer after-school scene seemed to repeat no matter how many solutions were agreed upon.

I just wanted a little respite so we broke the news that we would take the summer off from the internet. We weren't total assholes though, we still had data on our phones, we bought tons of second-hand DVD's for unlimited movie watching, and I bought the kids an old school Nintendo with Legend of Zelda, Tetris, Mario Brothers, and Pac-Man.

That was cool for about a week.

Yet, being back at our old house felt amazing, and the kids when they woke up or came home from wherever, would listen to music, draw, craft, cook, run around in the backyard and make up games. <------just like I remember them doing before there was internet streaming!

I am not anti-technology by any stretch and I don't blame technology for destroying the minds of our children. I believe one day that our existence will look remarkably like Star Trek: The Next Generation. And to get there we need to get our hands on the sharpest, most brilliant technology and become absolutely fluent in it's use and understanding especially our children--because they will be the one's developing it as we pass on (clutching our super antiquated smartphone devices that will be the equivalent to an 8-track player in our old age.)

Over the summer, we had our challenges. Trying to purchase pre-sale Nine Inch Nail tickets at exactly 10am on the dot from an iPhone is not the most relaxing experience. But I knew that going back to unlimited internet and youTube and video streaming would again smother the imaginative play and creative practice that the kids had developed for themselves again. I know our limits. I want the kids to learn to self-moderate, but I also know Blake and I's personal struggles with excess and that we do better when we some limitation around how much we get to manage.

So the solution was to add a mobile internet device to our cell phone plan and with 10GB a month to play with, all shared between us and for use on the home computer. That meant that we could all still use email, and looking things up on Safari, use our favorite apps like Instagram, and do homework assignments...but not enough to add Netflix or cruise youTube or play computer games.

The first two months went well and we kept within the allotted data plan. Then, when Blake's mom passed away in early October suddenly I was at "ground control" at the computer booking flights, doing research, and making Skype calls to Blake's uncle (Ilya's brother) in India. Also our computer was being very slow and the hard drive didn't have enough space to even back-up our phone's so I had my brother-in-law Michael come out and update the computer and install an external hard drive which ended up being a huuuuge data-suck. We blew the entire 10GBs in a week. I anticipated this and we knew that we would just pay $15 each gig we went over--it would just be that kind of month.

Yesterday, was supposed to be the first day of our new billing cycle. But when I read our device box it said that we were still adding data to the current cycle with 0 days left--we were broaching 20GB total. I explored my account online today and noticed that yesterday was indeed the start of a new cycle and that the data we had used so far yesterday and today was being included in that new cycle--but last months cycle went just over 20GBs. Looked like a day of double billing might be happening, so I called AT&T to see what was up and to increase our data plan to be better prepared for random extra usage.

That's when I met DeAnna. DeAnna, when I told her I was confused about the double-billing, was appalled at the thought I might be getting charged unfairly. DeAnna was also extremely sympathetic to my data usage being so over our limit, although I hadn't even told her why. At first she thought to make things right she would credit me back $30 to cover the 2GB used over the last few days just to be safe then, she decided "that AT&T would want me to be happy" and she just went ahead and took away ALL $150 of over-usage charges. Just because.

It was then I became weepy and confessed what an extremely hard month it has been with the death of my mother-in-law and I can tell you that DeAnna, oh goddess of empathy, could feel my pain! DeAnna herself had lost her father on St. Patrick's Day....he had had some health troubles but was thought to have his heath back on track and released from his hospital stay, feeling great, on a Thursday but he just dropped dead on Saturday morning. She was shocked. DeAnna and I both agreed that our extremely safety-conscious culture had left most of us very detached from the realities of death and unprepared for it's finality. DeAnna and I were mutually sorry for each others losses.

Then before she let me go, DeAnna wanted me to know that my daughters account had a $10 dollar subscription on it, some navigation program, charged monthly--no, I did not!--so she back credited that two months and removed it. She said sometimes that the salesperson at the store adds it on when the phone is first purchased and gets a commission. She felt ashamed that another AT&T employee might participate in such an unsavory practice and on behalf of AT&T sincerely apologized. Oh, sweet DeAnna.

So DeAnna, generous angel of customer service, this one is for you....




Sunday, November 3, 2013

Simple Sunday: You should date that person you love

I've written about this before, something like "I highly recommend dating your spouse." Blake and I got married fast, got pregnant on the honeymoon, and never dated regularly after having kids. When things got especially rough, it became clear we were more familiar with each other as that other annoyed parent in the house, than, you know, like actually fully formed and ever-changing individuals. After a decade of this and my own need to develop a other-than-motherly identity for myself, we made the commitment to go out together once every week or two. Yes, this means actually securing childcare which can be a pain. But once we pushed through the awkwardness of "hey, wow, uh, hey...so, guess what the kids did today!" we began to get comfortable being that cute married couple snuggled at the counter seat near the kitchen (we discovered we both liked this compared to tables at nice restaurants) and we found we could actually catch up on conversational shit we needed to catch up on regarding the week OR we could just talk about food and music and plans without being interrupted twenty million times by kids.

I love date night. Even if I'm low energy and have been hacking up phlegm for a week (like this week--ugh) I just like being with my sweetie and visiting new places and looking at his cute face.

So tonight it was ramen at Boke Bowl, Star Trek pinball at Bunk Bar, and a cruise through Buffalo Exchange (no luck there though!)






Saturday, November 2, 2013

Of all the days

Of all the days to have a box of ashes delivered to your house, I think the Day of the Dead is the most appropriate.

Blake's mother passed away four weeks ago. We've been steeped in the process of losing a parent for the first time. It was not expected but he was able to get to her, and say goodbye, to give her comfort.

On Halloween, he was given the news that his mentor and friend Father Daniel Jensen passed away over the summer quietly in the Maryknoll in upstate New York but no one had informed him. Father Dan married us in Mexico under the shadow of the great El Castillo at Chichen Itza twelve years ago. He was a Catholic priest who lived among the Maya for thirty years, not to convert but to appreciate and serve within a culture he adored. Blake and him had bonded over their mutual admiration for pre-Columbian art and ritual.

Exactly twelve years to the day of that ceremony, Blake held his mothers hand as she passed through the veil. And today, the day we have adapted for our own ritual of honoring the memory of those we love who have died, her remains came in a US postal service box: a knock and a signature and pass off.

Death is as crisp and real as the sound of fall leaves under my feet and stirring in the streets. Fragility is in the air.


Friday, November 1, 2013

love letter to my thighs

O dimply thighs,
we will be together forever
of this I am sure

In our years together
we have matured so much,
haven't we?

We know what does not serve us
(we broke up with mini-skirts
and never looked back)

We know who treats us right
(may we have endless supplies of black opaque tights
and sensible heels!)

Dimply thighs,
I am sorry if I ever hurt you
or tried to diminish your worth

You have done nothing but
worn your purple-silver stripes
with grace, even when I was unkind

Forgive me
I am done trying to change you
You live so lovely on my bones!

Let us go to art museums and
gaze upon our ancestors draped on velvet chairs
and hugging white columns

Ours in an old-fashioned love
we will not find such roots
in the magazines

Sometimes I see my daughter's thighs
in skinny jeans and its like looking back
at a photograph of us--so young!

Now I know we must set the example
of solidarity and acceptance
for the future generations, dear ones

'Til death do us part
may your fleshy beacons shine
and give comfort to those chilly in the night



(Disclaimer: These thighs have been photo-shopped)