& to be honest with you, for about 20 minutes, I also thought about making a dress out of people.
A rainy day – picking the kids up at their bus stop. Nels wears the prop glasses for fashion’s sake – not because he needs a prescription.
I’ve had two days off from cast rehearsal – I manage my time with yoga, housework, home repair (our house and my mother’s apartment rental) – and my latest coat for a client. I have no shortage of projects and work to do. I have no shortage of purpose.
I am well. My kidneys give me trouble about one-third of my days. This is grievous, but there is little to be done.
My body is stiff. My mind is at peace, but skittish from winter. Cold, inhospitable, and days darkening around 4 PM. My children’s energies continue unabated – every day.
Friends sent funds my way for gas money – but now my tank is empty. A friend repays part of a loan: that will buy us groceries for a couple days. My mom asks us to do some home repair for her, and bill her later – those charges go on a credit card of ours I usually keep at a zero balance.
My daughter is caught up for clothes but now my son and my husband need new togs. The pets were dewormed last month but two of them need it again (for really gross reasons because, pets are gross, especially dogs). I’ve not saved anything for Christmas and our bank account line of credit is max’d out. Grateful for the reduction in debt this last year has evidenced, I feel a bit somber we are not in good shape for Christmas spending.
But: we are warm. We are fed. We are festive. We are loving. We are grateful.
I am pleased with my children’s heritage – what I’ve worked for. Gratitude, Buddhism, good food, many friends, volunteer work, a lot of art and singing, an abundance of laughter, and a whole lotta lovin’.Read More
Today was rough. About an 11-hour day on my feet, out of the house. A few responsibilities that didn’t feel so great, tackling them. I thought about reneging on what I said I’d do – but in the end I did what I said I’d do, so I’d know that is who I am.
I have good days – and some days I have growth days.
Rehearsal, as busy as it was, was where I found a few moments to myself.
Backstage. My eyes are drawn with a Sharpie.
No peeking on any of my costumes. Y’all are going to be so impressed!
My castmate J. & I today onstage. She is perhaps the sweetest person I’ve had occasion to meet of late.
I’ve thought a lot about working in this play rock opera. My original intention was just to audition – that was all. I was determined not to be too shy to do so. I didn’t know anyone, or know anything about theater, but I still went for it. At the time I didn’t think I’d be asked to participate. And even after I was asked, I didn’t expect it would be as much work as it is.
Every step of the way I’ve had the opportunity to think about who I want to be, as a person. I’ve met new people – all of them passionate, and all of them working hard to put a good show together. Not everyone is kind to everyone else. But I can be kind. And in a hundred and one ways, I’ve been tasked with showing self-restraint as the production forms. Believe me, I can think of questions faster than a scene can unfold – and I can think of direction I’d give if I were in charge (um – I’m not.). I’ve tried to be helpful where I can – and to be encouraging to all. I’ve opened my eyes to how much other people know, things I don’t know – and it’s an impressive lot!
My family has had the opportunity to care for the home, and themselves, without me. Not only without me physically, but with a very tired Me at the end of the night.
So far the production has been a great deal of work, and more time than I’d thought it would be. One thing is for sure: I don’t regret auditioning. I don’t sit there and think, I could do that, because I actually know, because I’m actually doing it.
Coming home wired from rehearsal at nine, or ten-thirty, or whatever – it’s a new experience. My winter is taking shape this way!Read More
On the floor, on my yoga mat. Counting the burnt-out bulbs on the string of lights above me. Perhaps I will buy new ones for the studio – as a gift. However my count soon trails off – too many to easily track. My mind wanders.
The instructor speaks softly, comes along during savasana, and adjusts each of us. Touch is welcome to me; I have a hard time imagining someone not enjoying the pressure on the shoulders; firm hands on the neck. I settle into myself, my body.
My mind floats along – rehearsal in a few minutes. Ralph and Nels, home – cooking fried rice, gamboling with the cats (our two littlest kitties are off at the vet overnight, sadly).
My daughter and I, off to the theater. My car is cold; Phee and I balance a few costume pieces, a warm pan of homemade full-cream bread pudding, my purse, my water. On our short drive we play music and sing along and I pass through lights along the roadway. Winter is somber, a type of death, a cold stillness that even the cheeriest lights and holiday music cannot penetrate.
Rehearsal. Everyone is working hard. Tempers flare. Errands for the production; some small personal vendettas. Crowded dressing room and a familiarity with a few women. I am tired but so glad to be a part of this experience.
Home and it’s late; I commit to some small correspondence. We four finally retire to bed. My son up against my husband. The boy reaches his foot to me and I remove his sleepy little sock; this, then, was what he wanted. He sighs and returns back to position, curled up against his father.
Kidney pain, while Ralph drives me to morning Jesus Christ Superstar on Saturday.
Rehearsal was great – as always. Except a costume I’d modified – for another member – didn’t perform correctly. So: I have more sewing to do.
I’m kind of “over” sewing for this particular production. In large part because I have two high-end tailored coats to create tout de suite, and in part because in general a costume – as in costume-quality work – is not my bag, baby. It’s a whole different thing. I’m not so great at it. I’m learning. And I’d feel more comfortable learning if I didn’t have a backlog of client pieces to get to. And pretty much August through December is my busy season. So: I’m learning about that, too.
It’s cold outside – but mercifully, the wind has died away. The children fill the house with laughter – a lot, a distracting amount – and a variety of plans and interests completely their own. Nels is making up these half-sheet, red-ink contracts as he tries to sign people to his band. He’s set up a music room upstairs. I’d sign on but I have a conflict with another would-be member – so, the drama of rock and roll is already in effect before the music project has been named.
My daughter and I spend today together. I discover – and dissolve into laughter upon the discovery – that she is wearing not one but two down coats. She’s like me – bundled up unreasonably. Her hair, faded from last year’s dye-job, falls across her face out of a short ponytail. She finds a gold cropped bomber jacket at a local vintage shop and begs me for it. $7 to make her smile. I’ll take it!
The windows are down and the heat in the car is on, and we speed back home through the sunshine back to the theater. Taco soup, and three-milk cake, and hot coffee, and people are tired out. And I’m with my daughter, her dear sweet body next to mine, wrapped in sweetness for winter’s chill.
I get compliments on these tights and I get to say, “Thanks. I made them.” Probably most people think these are leggings but like my first pair – they are constructed with a foot sewn in.
Now that I have my legging metric down – including adding a skirt, as in this pair – I can afford to stop playin. No more JoAnn’s bargain-knits: time for excellent, posh wools and silks. That is pretty killer.
Super-action urban tights! Climbing up trains and shit! Actually on the coldest dog walk of all time (dog not pictured, he’s around the corner) and Phoenix and I are near-weeping because we are about to expire!
The bottom of the skirt rolls up because I am way too busy to even sew a skirt hem! Holy cow!
A rare full body shot. I refuse to turn my feet in in that affected little-girl pose. I like little girls and little girls don’t pose to be cute. So I’m like a little girl. Posing as Me. Thanks, Phoenix – not-so-little-girl – for taking photos.
Tonight feels very special. The day was a quiet, reflective one – populated here and there by debilitating nausea while my kidneys work stuff out.
My work goes well. I am constructing, slowly but steadily, a tailored wool blazer. The weather outside is crisp, sunny – and has that wild edge, the verge of a storm. In the afternoon I head out to the kids’ school and help my son’s class make a fall craft – grating crayons, pressing the colors into wax paper, cutting out fall leaves. It’s a simple project but the children take to peeling and grating crayons with alacrity – and every one of them enjoys sprinkling the flecks on translucent paper and watching the resultant blooms under my old steam iron.
Tomorrow the children and Ralph don’t attend school or job – so tonight, while they are off at a meeting, I clear up my sewing work, sweep the floor, set some essential oils out in the diffuser, light a new candle for my shrine, put away laundry, and lower the lights. I am feeling nauseated and dizzy, but I pace myself so I can get the house ready. The cats pad in and out of living space – peeking into the master bedroom where Ralph’s floor-refinishing equipment provides new terrain.
Today I only talked to a couple people outside my family, and the classroom of children. This felt nice and reflective. A little different, too, than most my days!
Ralph and the children return. He brings bowls of vegetables out the fridge, kneads masa. Tex Mex puffy tacos with Chile Con Queso, rice, fresh tomatoes. I am secretly working on a Christmas present for him which I have to carefully hide so he won’t discover it. The thing is, I could trust my kids to never ever tell.
They don’t grass up.Read More
My son emerges from the bath, wrapped in a red terrycloth robe. I bought it for him for his last birthday and, far less than a year later, it is now too small.
“Is there anything I can bring you, mama?” he asks. “Just kisses,” I tell him. He smells better than anything – his skin is warm, and damp, and perfect.
My daughter is off to bed. She tells me, “I love you so much,” and puts her arms around me. Her hair falls in my face – dry, sweet-smelling like straw. I feel a pang. She needs things I can’t provide, or at least not all at once: a door and a heater in her bedroom, new bedding, a kit for washing her face after gym. Two pair of shoes (gym shoes and regular trainers), t-shirts, socks, bras and underwear – and a haircut. I’d been invited to a pajama party last night and like an asshole, showed up in regular clothes. But I need to buy these things for my daughter and I hardly know where or how to start.
The kids grow fast. In no way ever, can I keep up.
But still, when she kisses me it isn’t the feeling of, I am behind or, My kids need things, like I’ve felt so many times before. I’m not in that place, not mentally. Instead I am thinking on their kind and sweet natures, and the entire trust they’ve placed in Ralph and I. Our children do not complain when circumstances are reduced in some way – nor do they grab and gobble when they get something lovely. They seem to be spiritually well. Like I told a friend last night, there might be no greater possession for a mother than to believe her children are okay. If you are okay, if you take care of yourself, you make your loved ones very happy.
My children have been my biggest fans, my biggest supporters. Yesterday they sat through Jesus Christ Superstar rehearsals and praised my performance warmly. They are like two cotton quilts and they wrap me up. And I respect their opinion a great deal because they are one hundred percent accurate about everything – or at least, about their opinions on any given point.
The world I occupy lately – seems hostile. I’ve been thrown into a social circle that is often unkind and cruel. Today I had someone point-blank ask me to tell them intimate and upsetting details about another’s life. Later on, I walked in on a small group, trashing another (absent) person’s character. I walked right out again, but I felt quite forlorn. People just go around hurting one another, yet no one likes to be hurt.
My little family, and my group of trusted friends, they know my heart, my nature. They know I want to be my better self, and not devolve into behaviors that are harmful. Sometimes it is easy for me to walk in the world, and sometimes I struggle.
Today: steaming wool into shape on a new jacket; sewing on my beloved 70’s Pfaff. Drinking hot coffee and listening to my children’s laughter. The dryer, which is broken and shitty, so it runs all day all day all day. Listening to a spooky-lonely playlist. Kissing the basket full of kittens right on their noses.
A little island.
A small sanctuary.
I am very grateful.Read More