i’ve loved ya since i knew ya / wouldn’t talk down to ya

I  should have known a Grays Harbor sporting event would not be a chill occasion. When I walk into the gym a few minutes, behind my son – we’re late for the start of the game – the bleachers are stuffed. The room is a clamor of intense, hostile shouting. For a game of ten year old boys. First game of the season – somehow I forgot how people act.

My daughter and I park at the Wishkah end of the bleachers – by accident, I don’t even think about seating location until a few minutes in. Presently my son’s subbed in and I finally see him in action for this, his very first game. Within a few moments it’s obvious he doesn’t have the ebb and flow of full-court play down, at all. He has learned – in the brief two weeks’ worth of practice they’ve had – to dribble and shoot with confidence. But he doesn’t know the dance, where to be on offense; where to be on defense. I grew up playing and I feel the pull to jump in the game. My feet flex in sympathetic pace with the team’s choreography.

The game is a close one, and a lively one. It is a beautiful thing, watching these children turn into young men on the court. I feel joy in my heart, watching their errors and graces.

A time-out in the third quarter and my boy leaves his team and joins me. His face is flushed and shamed: his deportment hurts my heart. He turns his body on the bleacher against my warmth, tells me, quietly – “Mom, I can’t play. I don’t know how to play.”

I’m thinking two things, They should be teaching you that, and then: But this is how you learn.

But I’m silent in this moment, this beat – showing that restraint. I’m amazed at how much my son is growing up, how keenly he understands his inadequacies. Of course, he isn’t the only one still learning. Many boys out there have double-dribbled, performed traveling screens, fouled in all sorts of ways. One young man made two deft attempts at a basket for the other team before they all sorted it out.

But now: I tell Nels, “You don’t have to go back in, but you need to sit down there and support your team and coach.” I lean forward and return my attention to the game. For a bit he huddles against me, his hot little body in repose. In a moment he feels better, and returns to sit by his coach, and support his boys.

Our team catches up in a tense fourth quarter. The game goes to overtime. In those final minutes, I see the coach ask Nels if he wants back in – Yes, he does. He steals the ball. He goes for it. He gets back in the game. They win by two. I can see in his heart, in his face: he’s okay.

Despite the angry hubbub during the event, everyone is smiles. I talk to a few parents; give a hug to a friend I hadn’t seen. Nels is hungry – adamant he needs a burger.

We walk out into the late evening’s sunshine. “I’m proud of you,” I tell him.

***

Later in the car we four are traveling back from errands in Olympia; in the CD player a mixtape. The strains of The Police’s “Roxanne” edge into our space, providing tempo to the rain outside, which is not so much hostile as it is lonely, and spooky.

We’re all silent for a bit, and I don’t know what the other three are thinking. But I’m thinking: This song is musically Perfect.

I turn to my husband. “You know this joker doesn’t even have a job,” I say, of the plaintive vocalist. 

He nods.

Valentine Day 2015

Valentines Day 2015 – “a little too sweet”

Valentine Day 2015Each of my mixtapes is so lovingly curated. I listen to them enough that, over time, they come to evoke the memories of a particular time in my life. Last year, I humbly admit, I busted out some awesome double-CD love for not only V-day but my 37th birthday. This year, what I lack in quantity (no 2-disc mix), I more than make up for in twisted, sad, or otherwise super-disturbing “love” songs for the happily-coupled or singleton alike.

“a little too sweet” – the story goes my father’s grandfather always had to comment on his wife’s homemade rhubarb pie. “A little too sweet,” he’d say after taking a bite. One year, his ladywife baked the pie with no sugar whatsoever – I believe verily this to be old-skool trolling. Half the family was in on the joke, keeping their giggles in their bellies as the patriarch sat down to his pie slice, and lifted the fork to his lips. Chewing, swallowing. Then: “A little too sweet”, he deadpanned.

Enjoy, my lovelies!

[ zip file: songs, liner notes, & CD case ]

SleeveLayout-DW.pdf

My 38th Birthday: February 11, 2015

something beautiful that [I] can find

Today was my 38th birthday. I took a picture first thing: before shower, before makeup, before dressing – before my first cup of coffee, even. 

My 38th Birthday: February 11, 2015

I had a wonderful day out with family and friends. I woke to a few gifts in the post – a large parcel of treats, and a package of yummy socks. My good friend E. picked me up and we headed to Olympia for this and that. While there, Nels and I each got a haircut – he made quite a change!

My 38th Birthday: February 11, 2015

My 38th Birthday: February 11, 2015

We shopped, ate food, picked up a few things, and headed back to town to reunite with the family.

My 38th Birthday: February 11, 2015

 After we got into town, I ran off to the yoga studio and sweated it up pretty profusely on the mat – nursing my injured shoulder all the while, of course.

My 38th Birthday: February 11, 2015

 Dinner at the local Rediviva – where the chef made me something special. More flowers, and a few moments with friends and my mother.

My 38th Birthday: February 11, 2015

 My mom made a homemade cake – a white cake with fresh berries. She made separate cupcakes for the restaurant workers too. Because that’s how she rolls.

My 38th Birthday: February 11, 2015

 I don’t have a picture of this – but Ralph found and paid a violinist to serenade me with “Happy Birthday”. Every year my husband finds a way to surprise me, and every time it’s something very special. It occurs to me now that he is providing a wonderful example for our children. I hope I am doing the same.

My 38th Birthday: February 11, 2015

 Home again – finally – and I snap a picture of Phoenix, who researched how to tie a sarong, so she could dress up for me this evening. Of all the wonderful, amazing gestures and gifts today this was the most unexpected. She is a lovely lass and as you can see – I am very grateful.

 Flowers from a friend, flowers from my husband, gifts in the post: chocolate and clothing and candy and sweets.

My house is full of gifts, and warmth.

My body, tired from this evening’s yoga. My cough is a bit deeper and I look forward to rest.

I am, as always, quite grateful for the love I receive on my birthday. The loving generosity of family and friends is always humbling, and always wonderful.

Namaste.

 

when I walked into your house

If my life were some kind of Wes Anderson twee film, every night I’d be doing what I’m doing now: standing in a near-empty Walmart, at 9 PM, when everyone else seems home.

It’s cold out. I stand in my scarf and holding my phone, passively waiting for my son to return from getting a cup of water. I feel a profound satisfaction, an entire peace with who I am and where I am. Soon, Nels returns and we begin passively shopping for the things we require. A humidifier (for my daughter’s mysterious and persistent cough). New eyeliner. A corn husk broom. Some junk food. Epsom salts.

My son cavorts alongside me. We move through the garishly-lit aisles and I’m perfectly happy. He helps me look for eyeliner. “Luscious eyeliner. Voluptuous.” His bright, matter-of-fact voice further ridicules the beauty miracle claims made on the bright parcels.

It’s twenty-eight degrees outside. My husband’s car heater works, though. Driving home Stevie Nicks and Don Henley croon, “Leather and Lace” off my iPhone and I get misty-eyed – it’s such a sweet ballad. My son puts his hand on mine and asks, “Mama, what movies did you watch when you were little?” Before I can remember, before I can answer, his voice drops a half octave and he asks, entirely seriously, “Were you as tender as you are now?”

Then: “Did you like junky pizza like you do now?”

Nightlights and to a warm home. I am tired, and happy. My son has joined me the last two days at yoga class – and I can’t get across how meaningful I find his presence, his small body on the mat joyfully finding the postures. Last night: while in Wheel of Life, I felt his hand touch my foot, gently squeezing my toes – a loving gesture he’s done since he was very small.

A hot shower, a bit of milk, and another day put to bed.

Backstage, JCS

a hand on a hot stove

Backstage, JCS

I get these little sticking points, these moments of non-acceptance. I’m cast from my place of ease and serenity, or at least my finger on the pulse of the dharma – into confusion, a small smudge of despair – rudderless.  Tonight it’s in the car, as we drive to the hospital and my 12 year old daughter hears her mother praying aloud and crying, the helpless cry of abject suffering. Finally pull over at the side of the road – this is at about 9:30 PM – to vomit. Drive up to the ER and check in for pain relief. Pace and pace and breathe – finally on the bench in the lobby, rhythmic humming sounds. Placing myself in a trance to endure.

My daughter knows I won’t die, I’m only in severe pain. She gets to learn what it’s like to offer someone moral support – a loving presence. She puts her hand in mine. I tell her it means so much to me that she’s here.

These days, kidney stones pass about every three weeks. Most are a couple hours of pain – intense, distracting, maddening – but often such that I can walk about and focus on the business of others. Most times the pain eventually eases off – blessedly.

Tonight wasn’t like that. The pain started at about 2:30 and came and went, getting worse. Bringing a nausea that kept me from eating for about eight hours. At seven – right when we’re ready to take the stage for tonight’s performance – it steadily worsened. It took all I had to stay in the show to the end. The memory of getting through each bar of music, each song, each act. I was in a small, fourth-dimension place of a pain so acute the world seemed a Victorian-era vignette, unreal and distantly depersonalized.

I am home now. Exhuasted, but pain-free except for the ache in my lower back.

The hospital was kind. I am fretting about another medical bill. I haven’t yet moved off of that (futile) worry.

Still – today was, somehow, a good day. I kept a glad spirit – or I started off that way and it sustained me. And then: help, from so many quarters. A friend took me out grocery shopping. Another friend bought us our Christmas tree (!) and then delivered an oilskin envelope along with it – folded twenty dollar bills. Another friend sent me an online donation. Another friend let me help her with a home repair project. Another friend hosted my son this evening and took him out to a diner, and played video games with him besides. Another friend asked me along to her lunch. Castmates gave me hugs – castmates who aren’t particularly demonstrative.

If it weren’t for friends, if it weren’t for kindnesses large and small – my life would have little meaning.

And now, exhausted, I am back to pacing myself. Tomorrow: a matinee. I am behind on work for clients. I am tired and will need to recover further.

I can’t figure out tomorrow, today. That is for certain. I am grateful for the help and support I get. May it always remind me how worthwhile it is, to help and support others!

ER

Jesus Christ Superstar

this is just a saga now

In a few hours I take the stage in opening night for a local production of Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s not a big deal, but it kind of is. For me.

I can’t remember when I decided I’d audition for the production –  a while ago. See, first of all I have loved this particular rock opera deeply for about twenty years. When I heard we were going to produce it, I felt this pang. It was something I would have loved to do. But I couldn’t do it, no way. Right?

I blame my husband’s influence – his role a year ago in The Rocky Horror Show. I remember he said his duty to himself was to audition. And then do what followed, whatever that was. I remember respecting him for his attitude. And I was so proud to watch him participate. I think I went to the show six times – as many times as I could, given our family schedule!

It’s all well and good to be proud of Ralph, but when it came to me – I almost lost my bottle. I hadn’t been on a stage since I was sixteen. I wasn’t “in” with the theater folk (because yes, we do have a scene, even here in little old Grays Harbor). I didn’t have any dance or vocal workshops or classes under my belt to help me out during auditions. Since I’m a woman, I am “too old” to get a lead (yeah. Theater is like that). I have no formal training in any way in acting or stage work. I was about a half hour late to auditions, and I got to sing some tricky vocal parts in front of people I didn’t know (at all) – almost all of whom had experience and were known to one another.

I was surprised – and honored – to get a callback and be asked to join the ensemble.

So my introduction to the world of Theater has been … well, amazing. The amount of time and work has been about what I thought it would  be (that is: grueling, when like me your presence is needed at home in the evenings). The egos and insecurities are also about what I expected. We’ve had some rows, some tensions – and ugliest of all, there has been gossip. When I hear the latter, I turn heel and walk off. So honestly, I’ve probably been spared a great deal of whatever unseemly bits there are to be had. And for this, I’m grateful.

I tried to think of myself as someone in service to the production. So: no complaining. No whinging. No asking annoying questions (this one was hard, because I had so many!). No second-guessing or picking on others. Show up – and do the job.

The world of costumes surprised me. I am a pretty detail-oriented tailor and the world of stage costumes is considerably less so – yet the pieces have to perform well, and be easily donned or torn apart or thrown back together. That said, I tried my best to be helpful. I found one dress for a lead in the costume room; I found a few other pieces for soldiers which the director put to use. I put together three of my own ensembles (including sewing my own hoodie, and making my own hair!). I put together Jesus’ second and final costume. And I made a lot of pom poms! Most fun: I got to craft a gold laurel leaf crown – out of real laurel leaves. The world of stage costumes, though new to me and not my forte (yet), has been fun.

And overall I am amazed at how much work it takes to put something together. Everybody – from my own 12-year old daughter running a tech aspect of the show, to the director, to the cast, and the musicians in the pit, and the prop stage workers, and those who clean the theater and take tickets – every single body involved is needed. People pour their heart out and at the end of the day – it’s all to please an audience. To make people laugh, or cry, or feel like singing. That’s what all that work is for. That is pretty fabulous. It really is.

So tonight I wash pieces of my costume (I have four major costume changes), scrub my face (the layers and layers of makeup required during dress rehearsal – pretty gross!), and finish making up opening night gifts for my castmates.

To say I’m glad I went for it, is an understatement. And the thing is … if I never would have went for it, I’d still be dithering around wondering if it was something I could do, or something way out of my league. I’d be sitting in the audience feeling a kind of cramped envy.

So yeah. I don’t have to go through any of that. I get to do it. Just do it! And I’m beyond grateful.

Jesus Christ Superstar

 

JCS

a two-way street

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.

JCS

Backstage. My eyes are drawn with a Sharpie.

No peeking on any of my costumes. Y’all are going to be so impressed!

JCS

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!

Morning Rehearsal

’cause things will fade / & things will start

Kidney pain, while Ralph drives me to morning Jesus Christ Superstar on Saturday.

Morning Rehearsal

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.

 

Snuggle Besties

the world sometimes seems full of people being cruel, but I’ve got this little oasis and it means a great deal

Snuggle Besties

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.

"Everything Is Better With Mustard"

Happy Anniversary

thirteen

Happy anniversary, my love. This below gift is from Ralph; he went with irreverent. I went with sincere – a tailored waxed canvas coat with brass snaps – and thoughtful: a Botch LP.

Happy Anniversary

 

 

Heading out to Olympia! Child photobomb – expertly placed.13 Years Married Today

 

Nels rocks some Saint Germain at MAC, this evening before we headed home. I think he’s going to be my MAC BFF!Nels & I, MAC In Macy's, Oly