the room is spinning, because of all the radsauce

#Awesomesauce At #LiG2012

 One of the many mamas here, being awesome.

Listen. It is SO WEIRD to be in a public space with public kids, where the kids are free to do their thing. I’ts like free-range Hogakids but, EVERYWHERE and LOTS of them. I hardly have words. It’s like a different planet from the one I’ve been used to. Kids go where they need to go and even in a big hotel with tons of rooms, the children, even rather tiny ones, don’t get lost. Everyone is smiling and helping one another and I haven’t seen a fight. Today Ralph overheard a five, fourteen, and sixteen year old talking about whether the term “midget” was offensive (the five year old initiated the discussion because he said it was, and although he could barely pronounce the word “offensive” the conversation proceeded with civility and aplomb). People of all ages getting along doing exactly what they want to do.

I mean I’ve seen some crabby parents speak rudely – one rather terrifyingly so – and I’ve seen some kid meltdowns but, things are entirely different. Just one example. You’ve heard me complain about the #HQX YMCA and the weird pool rules? The hotel pool rules here are not regarded but it’s still a respectful, fun place. More fun than the Y, even though the Y has a larger pool. Kids are doing cannonball jumps and flips and tiny kids get in the hot tub and no one dies. Heck, our family can see the pool across the roof from our room (and our kids average swimming twice a day), and all is smiles until late into the evening.

It’s busy and the normal chaos happens. Some kids (and adults) lose track of their items, but other people find these items and leave them at the Lost & Found Table. Some kids don’t clean up after themselves and don’t have an adult with them to assist, after (Phoenix taught a class today, but she and Ralph and I made sure to clean up – still, not everyone is able or willing to do so, so volunteers do their part). Some parents/carers have small children and are clearly a bit overwhelmed at times, but this is about the most tolerant and loving place for something like that to happen. The sheer amount of NON-GLARING at children for being kids, is incredible!   Babies are breastfed and worn and allowed to toddler around. People are courteous to one another, to a degree I’ve not seen in a public space. It’s really incredible.

It’s not a utopia. People are people, and some are crabby and/or are having a bad day. I know there are shennanigans and I know there’s drama. Besides the meltdowns (which are, again, a lot less than you typically see in a large crowd) there’s the same ol’ darkness that plagues the human race. Today I heard a few moms talk about how much they drank the night before; one of them said her son complained about it. (And speaking of which, yeah I’m finding a Recovery meeting daily while I’m here, kthx!)

But really, it’s incredible. My kids have been swimming and playing and swimming and eating and cleaning up and doing art and teaching classes – all day.

#LiG2012 Various Art Projects

A note for Phee from her “Fairy Godparent”, plus a vajazzled tampon 

Lunch!

Lunch today, Greek. All four of us had a wonderful time.

Phoenix ate a lentil soup and Nels pwned a large chicken gyro.

Good times. Now? Time for bed!

Have your coffee, splishy-splashy

@phoenixhogaboom & I At #HQX #YMCA, Waiting For @stuffnelssays

Phoenix, waiting

Today my son went swimming on his own. We dropped him off at the Y after running a few errands (cat food! dear lord the racket our felines make if even one meal is late!) and picking up groceries for ourselves. My daughter and I ran home and messed about a while, doing our thing, then made a hot lunch to take to the Y for post-swim. I knew the Little Guy would be hungry indeed.

When my son saw us waiting for him he splashed over immediately, all wet-puppy and lovely. After dressing, he devoured his bean and rice burrito in no time flat. After the briefest turn at foosball (I will never play my daughter again, a week ago she absolutely killed me), the kids ran outside into the (now wind-and-rain)storm, flung themselves into the car. Nels’ impish nose and beaky little face full of joy as he wiggled in his seat.

“I met a girl,” he tells me. “Named Miley.”

Ailey?” I can’t hear him over the defrost.

Miley,” he shouts back.

“Oh. Did you like her?”

“Yes. She loves me.”

“Oh really! Well does she know how naughty you are?”

“She doesn’t know. I kept THAT a secret.” He laughs wryly. WRYLY. He’s just a Little Guy!

My son is too little to know crushes but it won’t be long. My daughter already has an awareness. The other day a few ten to twelve year old boys were hassling her. I come outside an hour later and she’d kicked all their asses, AND they were in love with her, she was leading the pack. She’s got it figured.

Back home: children running about the house and wrestling upstairs. Crafting: more embroidery, a present for Nels, and I finished a few of the last tailoring details for a coat of my own.

Custom Shoulder Pads, Sleeve Heading

Tomorrow: I’m up at the Treatment Center a while, and the kids are making Easter baskets with their Grandma. My father’s birthday approaches, just a bit after my son’s. Time for contemplation, even if I’m busy.

regardless of how high and forceful it crests

Nels recently joined his sister in her Wednesday evening gymnastics; this was his third session. She is the only girl with short hair in the class, and he is the only boy, period. So they stand out, a bit. I’m not sure how many students and instructors know Phoenix is a girl. She told me yesterday she was no longer going to bother correcting those who misgender her. So it’s no big deal.

My daughter is an easy favorite of a few instructors, likely not for her abilities – which seem strictly middle-of-the-pack – but due to her cleverness, enthusiasm, and sweet disposition. Not all children are there of their own volition, but she definitely is.

Nels is trouble. He does not take instruction with focus. He performs his own gymnastics, jumping and bending and tumbling and kicking. Magnetically, he attracts other children who are also less-than-obedient, and creates great distracting games including hair pulling and pushing and such, which the instructors are then obliged to discourage. I found myself saying to my son, somewhat ridiculously, “Nels, this isn’t playtime. It’s gymnastics.” I’ve also explained to him it is an insult to take a class, and not apply oneself to the instructor. Today on our way out he apologized for his disrespect to the instructor. Apologized, to me. I told him next week he could try to focus more. “It only matters that you improve a little, each time,” I say.

But even with his naughtiness he seems to have secured a great deal of serious instruction from one instructor, a beautiful young woman with lovely pale-almond skin and long dark tresses. Today from where I sat it looked like they were just rolling around together. He was pretty damned happy about it, let me tell you. At one point she did a graceful bridge and he quickly slid under her, whether at her behest or strictly his own idea, I do not know. She seemed entirely unoffended and sat with him and helped him stretch his arm up and back, noodling him into a form that will eventually be able to perform the feat.

Shoulder flexibility keeps Nels from doing the same bridge, but he struggles valiantly. His sister continues to coach and demonstrate, as her own bridge is improving each week. Watching Nels strain and finally flop entirely flat like a fish, I’m reminded of a conversation the two had a few months ago. Nels was talking about making out – with his sister (you know… like you do) – to which she surprisingly replied, “I wouldn’t make out with your weak and flimsy body.” Delivered with direct yet playful scorn. He nodded, seeming to understand.

Every time I watch my son attempt a bridge and collapse, I think, “flimsy”, and I snicker aloud into my phone. In fact I’m laughing right now thinking about it.

you’d say it couldn’t be wrong / but it’s no joke, it’s doing me harm

Phoenix draws two dragons: one Eastern, one Western. “Spot the differences,” she instructs her brother and I. We do so. She next creates a Wyvern dragon and a Serpent dragon so we can play again. Nels, after a moment, judiciously says, “The Serpent has a pissier eye.” He’s right. It looks angrier. We dissolve into giggles.

Tonight Ralph and I both sit on the bleachers at the Y and watch the two kids tumble in gymnastics. Experiencing a making-up of sorts – Phoenix has been irritated with her brother as of late – the kids recently hatched the plan that Nels should join her sport. As I watch, my relatively headstrong son is happy to take direction from the instructors. Within a few minutes he is bending himself into his first bridge, and all kinds of stretches and jumps.  He looks about a thousand percent adorable in his little sweats. Nels has always liked being physically active, but I also think he looks up to his sister more than she realizes.

Life is peaceful in our home. I’m knitting away on a scrappy project and cooking tea and spending time with the children. I can’t easily imagine a life without them in my daily endeavors. Unhurried and almost always available for one another. Tonight I finish up a pair of skinny jeans on the sewing machine while Nels lays on the floor and we play 20 Questions.

When I give up on a particularly tricky problem, my son’s face lights up that he has foiled his mama. “A family of hornets,” he reveals triumphantly. “But you said ‘Yes’ when I asked if it was mammalian!” I exclaim. “No, I said it wasn’t a mammal but it was fluffy!” “Well, all mammals have nipples. Except the echidna and platypus. Monotremes. Do hornets have nipples?” Then we laugh some more. He tells me he’s bored and I’m like, Yeah, just a minute, I’m almost done sewing. He wants chocolate ice cream and gets it out on the counter to soften.

Emily, Tylur, and Cole come over for movie night and Ralph finishes cooking up collard greens, garlic parmesan bread, and lasagna. We eat and laugh and I’m tired. Tomorrow: up early again as I’ve gotta scoot out of my bed for the electrician. BALLS.

shaken, not stirred

Today I plunged myself into Sucktown as I had two sewing projects, in a row, go poorly. Actually, kinda, three. A week ago two wee infant dresses I had a vision for ended up not quite working out to my satisfaction. Then the Western-style shirt I finished today gave me fits from start to end. The end result, I admit (pictures tomorrow) is adorable – but my ass is haunted by how difficult the project was. I was even seething with, well not rage, but high-degree irritation at points. And today, Sewing Assery #3? I took a series of shortcuts on some pants for Nels figuring it wouldn’t be a big deal but, you know what, the project really suffered from me doing so. Enough I know, as I sit here, I’m going to totally tear out seams and fix the mess even though damn I so do not want to re-sew on pants.

I’m not sure how many people who read can relate to how much I can struggle when my sewing goes poorly. When it comes to this craft I am used to things going my way, and when they don’t, I have a hard time making a learning experience out of the business. I end up believing I’m wasting my time while I could be benefiting others in some way. It’s a horrid mind-suck. Oddly I am less exacting when it comes to my writing – more likely, in that case, to give my best, whatever I have, and let it lie.

This last week or two I’ve also been struggling with some Old Business that very rarely rears his head any more: the (unrecognized) work of the domestic. Today I got up, fed cats, cleaned the bathroom, washed, dried, and put away clothes, washed and dried dishes, made up home-cookin’ for the family, fed the cats, cleaned up after the cats, sent off emails. I do stuff like this every day. I am really fortunate I have my head and heart in the work and I experience gratification from performing the basics with mindfulness. But sometimes this little doubt creeps in, You Do Shit Work And You Don’t Matter. I remember what it was like to have more status’d work and the praises I used to get. Yeah, it was false pride, and yeah, it was a life built on (my concepts of) other people’s esteem, and I freely admit I like my life a lot better today. It’s just that sly voice and I don’t always have a defense against it. Ugh.e

Writing this out I realize the mind has just found another way to criticize my personhood. I relate this quite hand-in-hand with life as a so-called recovered alcoholic. The self-criticism is a hell of a thing for most people, and I have some familiarity with the various methods people use (not all of them chemical) to drown that narrative out.  Today I cope with feelings and with reality without self-medicating through the rituals and chemicals of drug and alcohol use. And the cliche is true, my worse day sober is well and away better than my best day using. Life sober might be painful here and there but the suffering is vastly reduced. Today I have the courage to publicly admit what’s going on (I will note I had this courage, here and there, before sobriety) and today I have a degree of bravery and serenity that I didn’t used to. I am glad to live my life sober even at its hardest, truly glad to live this way, despite occasional difficult circumstances originating from between my ears.

I will add I had a lovely time, before the sewing debacle, with the children. I packed up this morning (oh right, another handful of “chores” I forgot to mention) and we hit the YMCA for swimming this afternoon. Swimming with my kids is really amazing because, of course, it feels good and life without school is like a holiday, always – but also, because their energy and resiliency is just astounding. Even the days I’m not quite right, they seem to be. The children inspire me in a deep and satisfying fashion and it’s funny… I didn’t plan it that way, it just ended up happening. My children and my family life have been the most unexpected twist, and series of adventures, in my whole life. The life I’ve had is not something I thought I’d have in store for me ten years ago, that’s for sure.

In my wildest imaginings I wouldn’t think I’d have it so good. I hope my kids are a legacy for that kind of life, well-lived and worn-in, joyous and free. It really is at least part-accident I’ve done so well by them, or maybe that I didn’t do so well but they thrived anyway, considering what a mess I’ve been here and there.

“May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease!”

Goodnight!

working it

The hour of my birthday strikes. I’m lying across the bed in my underwear, a two-sizes-too-small vintage Def Leppard shirt with holes on it. Nels is kissing me thirty-five times because that’s how old I am.

I’m tired.

I’m tired from running errands most the day, then clapping and yelling for the Drag Show at the college (here’s a tiny bit of last year’s), then dancing a lot afterwards. I danced my ass off. For like, fifteen minutes. & I hurt my knees doing a few floor slides. I didn’t split my pants or anything, but I did get a considerable back tweak doing the Roger Rabbit in a dance circle.

The show was really beautiful. I’d suggested a friend as MC and she was absolutely fabulous. I also got to see a girlhood friend, the first person I met when moving to Grays Harbor, surprise-propose to her girlfriend via song. That was pretty… amazing. After the dance I went out with friends and had some wonderful food. If I wasn’t so tired I’d be writing all this eloquent stuff about it all.

But yeah. It was a good day, and a good evening.

Nels, dressed up for & checking the fit of his outfit tonight:

Nels In Drag, Checking Fit

***

This moment finds me very sanguine about my birthday. 35 seems such an auspicious number. I have some wonderful things in my life.

My little guy:

Slinking Back To The Pool

My daughter:

Off To The Races
 
Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy. – Lao Tzu

Nels In Drag, Checking Fit

I am very grateful for many gifts in my life, and when I awake to experience my birthday in earnest, I hope to have as lovely day as I usually do.

burn it as fuel for our journey

This summer while waiting for a friend I sat in a sunny living room and talked with a young man and his mother. The young man was a little more interested in my conversation than his mother seemed. He was watching a documentary I’d seen not two weeks before and had really enjoyed. He and I had a brief but interesting discussion and I thought how pleasant it was to talk with someone who had such a spark and such an intelligent mind.

Today that young man committed suicide in that same home I sat in a few months ago.

I know the family. They are friends. If I sit here and feel stunned and think maybe there could have been something, some clue, something I could have done, I can only imagine what his close friends and family must feel. As a mother it is painful to consider the implications of today.

We are all, each of us, such crystal-clear and breathtakingly beautiful phenomenon. The idea that someone can suffer so much as to end such a living breathing unique manifestation is quite sobering to comprehend.

Today, the 27th, is the monthly date anniversary for sobriety. I had forgotten until I saw the date in a book. My friend gave me a little gift. Afterwards I took my children to the Y to go swimming and, while they cavorted, attended a Board meeting for the local Buddhist group where I was indoctrinated into service. I picked up lunch for the children and met another friend back at the Y and we ate and talked and enjoyed each other’s company.

Today is a day for holding tight that which we value.

Lately:

As you well know I am not a very exciting person but I do things that get me stared at in this smallish burg, namely today biking with my glowing pink hair through Hoquiam on Ralph’s Ute, which in turn had Phoenie’s bike piggybacked as I was meeting the kids at the Y and didn’t want to haul them both. (My daughter loves, loves her new fast and lightweight bike and the adult size enables her to have longer, faster, and more effiicient rides.) I’d used my very belt to lash the head tube of Phoenix’s bike to the flight deck of mine. After a few blocks of this I stopped at the hardware store and bought a couple bungees and used one to secure the bikes – and, in turn, free up the same service for my pants – properly the rest of the way.

The kids had a swim date from about three PM to five PM. I spent those hours at home phone and internet-free, practicing yoga, which I’ve found I am best suited doing separately from children running about and stepping on my throat. By the way, my “home studio space” lacks a few things, practically a strap and blocks (which would help as I almost killed myself on Sleeping Pigeon today), aesthetically perhaps the lack of redolant cat when my face is hitting the floor.

Anyway, at the Y to pick the kids up, just when I walked in the lobby (after answering the bike-related questions of a very interested four year old who immediately intuited he could ride atop the back of my steed), they both came running out. They’d gotten all showered and dressed and packed up, economically rolling up their towels in the duffel bag, and they were hungry. We continued our bike ride only seven blocks to the Mia for Italian fare and I drank glass after glass of water. Ralph met us there straight from work.

I am still getting used to the idea of time to myself where my kids aren’t either directly supervised by me or arranged for by me – or stressed over. Readers know I am not an overprotective mom in the general sense people seem to mean this, but I have in the past been sensitive to (and, okay, okay, easily pissed off by) comments of grownups regarding my kids’ conduct or my choice to let them be somewhere on their own. Even today I hovered barefoot and talked to the lifeguards overlong while my kids got swimming, nonplussed at my babies’ lack ceremony in saying goodbye. It felt so odd to just leave them and let the lifeguards boss them. In fact when I picked them up Phoenix gave me a dutiful report of the corrections the lifeguards had asked for, mostly involving grabasserty and Nels’ forays into the deep end. Nels can certainly swim and he’s mulling over taking the official swim test so he won’t get hassled for venturing over his head. And that whole thing is none of my business, neither to encourage or coerce but only to assist him if he needs it (which he won’t).

Home and I’m pleasantly sore and tired and ready for a snuggle and bed. Tomorrow I’m running again in the morning, then taking Nels out to his friend’s, after which I’ll sneak off to the bakery and select a few cupcakes et cetera to share with my little girl who’ll hopefully still be asleep and cuddly when I get home.

Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight

What have I been up to lately? Running again, a bit slower even this time so as not to wear myself out. I’m almost completely finished with a little woolen bunting that I’m quite pleased with, made for a client a bit south who has a new little relative on the way. Included in the package are a couple knit items I am dying over, they are so cute. And were so soft and lovely to work and cheered me immensely to construct. Pictures soon.

For Ralph and my ten year wedding anniversary, my mother bought us memberships to the YMCA so we are now restored to regular visitations of that facility. Today due to one thing and another it behooved me to set a swim date up for the kids with our friend H. as I wasn’t going to be able to take the time and also honor other commitments. A little after noon I left my children in the McDonalds parking lot with $10 and a duffel bag and I felt a little skeeved by a guy I saw loitering there, just one of those weird feelings. I was frankly relieved a half mile down the road when I discovered I’d kept their YMCA key fob used for entry (although all the employees know them and would have let them in) and I circled back, glad for a reason to calm my likely irrational fears. Sure enough the kids had ordered and set themselves up and Nels was putting a napkin on his lap and beaming at his sister over the strawberry milkshake they’d set themselves up to share, whipped cream and cherry and all! And the lurking guy ducked out the door with a printed paper bag full of food, probably off to do entirely un-skeevy activities like eat lunch.

Forty minutes after I left the kids they’d finished, cleaned up, travelled to and planted themselves in the YMCA waiting area to meet H. They kept track of their key fob and my change and their clothes and had a great time. About an hour after the three hit the water I arrived from my meeting to pick the kids and H. up and take them out to the taquería for lunch, finishing up some I-cord on size three needles while I waited for everyone to dress.

What else, well amongst other things I’ve been doing some volunteer work in a treatment center which is wonderfully healing and amazing every day and I am so grateful to have this work suggested to me. I finished (hopefully) some graphic design that will (hopefully) put a little money in my pocket as we are needing some furniture. I keep not turning in the fee and application to the Fiber Arts Festival here in Elma next month, and I’d better get on that.

But, tonight I sat in the bleachers and watched my daughter’s first-ever gymnastic session. She was surprisingly talented and took direction well and with interest. Observing her teacher’s graceful cartwheel, my daughter’s face lights up: “Nice!” she compliments the young woman. Watching Phoenix perform her second iteration of a backwards somersault she pushes up and out with her arms as instructed and I feel my body oooomph with sympathetic effort. I never did, or at least haven’t yet, learned how to do any of that stuff besides a simple bridge and forward somersault.

Only two boys were enrolled out of the fifteen or so children and every single girl there (ages three to ten) with the exception of my daughter had long long hair and I’m pretty sure 90% of their parents wouldn’t have permitted their girls cut it all the way off as I “let” my girl do. Phoenix was completely nonplussed when I observed aloud she was the only girl there with short hair. She doesn’t much compare herself to other girls except to observe and consider for inspiration. I have the suspicion she won’t be as prone to peer and social pressures as most girls end up being, and for this inkling, if I’m right, I’m quite grateful. Case in point, she’s determined to grow her hair out long and curl it and she is entirely unpreturbed this will take some time, and she is totally happy with the super-short hair she has now. This personal knowledge, satisfaction, acceptance, common sense and long or broad view of things puts her in a class of about, oh, the top first percentile of almost every woman I’ve known with hair vanity issues, which is almost every woman I’ve known.

I could stand for the good weather to continue, although I don’t mind the slight dip in temperature. Tonight on the way home from a book study I stopped in our most favored restaurant for takeout. I leaned against the counter with my arms crossed enduring the stares of locals as I waited for our to-go Italian fare; while lingering I spied a huge jug of the wine I was raised on and I thought of the gallons and gallons and millions of gallons. Ah, Uncle Carlo, sometimes I miss you so, but alas we have parted company forever.

I was just remembering one of the worst summers of my life, if not the worst, which was actually one of the best in some ways before it tumbled into shit. As the days careened toward doom I hosted house parties most nights of the work week or weekend and we enacted many such scenes as evidenced in this song video, including young men in their underwear while we women stayed clothed. In this way one ritual was at least a small, dramatic, fierce triumphant bit of nihilistic joy I’m sure not to forget it.

a brief respite from turbulent climes

I don’t have much time to write; which is sad, because writing is so important to me! I will say: today not only did I have a wonderful swim with the children, and the grouchy YMCA lifeguard from days previous acted totally pleasant and did not chastize my kids in every way (seriously!), but I also met another lifeguard L. who corrected Nels’ behavior with the utmost respect. When I approached her to thank her for this, we had a lovely conversation – while my children stayed in the shallow end (which meant I didn’t have to be six inches away from them in the pool). Afterwards a hot shower, a sunny day, a not-so-pleasant and very long wait for the bus, some delicious sopes, and then etc. etc.

Family responsibilities present themselves. Let me say: thank you readers who have both stuck around and totally respected this new thing – password-protected entries at the blog. Although I am aware in a way “I owe my readers nothing”, I am also aware my blog has changed abruptly in this small way, and not everyone will enjoy the experience. I feel so incredibly grateful for the readers who stick around, who comment, who read, who support. And I will be writing more soon – trust!