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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Boy One is My Husband, Just Smaller

Boy One is being an uncooperative punk, and my husband is mad.

Boy One is five, and my husband is an adult, but at the moment, it is hard to tell the difference.

Both of them need a time-out, but instead they yell at each other, locked in conflict, for longer than I would wish, neither willing to back down or retire.

After far too long, they are calm, and I venture to speak.

"Why don't you call your mom and ask her what you were like when you were five?" I suggest.

"Why don't you call your mom?" he throws back.

"She said I didn't listen until I was thirty," I replied, "and with that, she's being generous."

"I'm not calling my mom," he declared.

"Have it your way," I respond, grinning.

(I bet he was exactly the same.)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Poems from Germany

My skin's as smooth as a baby's now,
No longer scratched
By unshaven whiskers.

I always have enough blankets,
And I don't have to share when I sleep.

Billy never starts playing
When I want to hear Elliott,
And I never have to worry
About when you're coming home from work.

Instead I wonder
How long my phone card will last,
How much I can communicate
With three Euros' worth of time.

I wake up to the wrong person snoring,
And I fall asleep to the Jimmy CD
That you made for me...

While I wait as patiently
As possible,
To come back to you....

May I always come back to you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Things I Never Thought I'd Say

This evening, Boy One would not stop stealing Boy Two's pacifier. He pestered, proded, harassed and teased despite everything I did to try and stop him. Then, the problem solved itself, when Boy Two smacked him, hard, in the ear with a block.

Boy One cried. He cried a lot. He cried the cry of the innocent victim despite his obvious guilt. And I was glad. Vengefully glad. The bully got his comeuppance and Baby Dude stood up for himself the only way he knew how: with a blunt weapon against a tyrant. Nice going, David. Goliath has fallen.

So, facing a sobbing five-year-old, I kiss his face and ask him what he learned.

"Nothing!" he yells back at me, angry and clearly beatten.

"Well, I suggest you leave your brother's pacifier in his mouth next time." I reply.

(Three cheers for the underdog.)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How do I Feel?

In the tiny compartment
Between the top and bottom bunk
I can see clearly all that I have:

A safe place to live.
A pair of healthy boys.
A husband who loves and adores me.

I have all that one could ever desire,
Yet I lack.

What I lack can't be counted
On a survey
Or a worksheet

Because on paper,
I have everything.

Everything.

So how...

How do I feel

What my brain knows is real?
What others can see?
What is right before my eyes?

Rather than feeling the empty,
The spaces...

How can I focus on the all that I have,
And ignore the not...

Because my all is complete.

What is missing is within me.
And that I cannot fill,
Despite my grandest efforts,
No matter my contribution.

May the world grant me peace.

Peace and fulfillment.

As I wait, and I long...

To see myself as others do...
To accept the beauty that is my life...
To be beyond the feeling of nothing...

May the everything overwhelm the nothing.

May the nothing simply cease to be.

May I see my world as it is: full of love and possibly.

May the nothing melt away...

Away into the abyss.

And may the real conquer all.

May the real destroy the not
For the real is real,
And the missing is not.

What is not is not, nor can it wish to be.

May I see the is,
And live without the is not.

May it always be so.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The End of the Summer Movie Season

At the Huntington Harbour Mall, the management company has decided to show movies on designated Friday nights throughout the summer. Tonight, they are ending this year's run with a showing of Cinderella.

At least two dozen little girls have arrived in the open space between the Athletic Club and Noah's Ark Pet Grooming, donning their finest rendition of the famous Disney princess. They are a rainbow of tiny humanity, mostly frocked in frilly blue dresses. Some break the mold, like the little girl with a pink and gold gown. My favorite is the one with a blue tule skirt and a Leonardo sweatshirt from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

A few boys people the audience as well, outnumbered and underdressed. My boys stare at the girls, confused and entranced. Some things may never change.

With blankets and wagons, beach chairs and snacks, we all gather together to say goodbye to the summer. We gather in hope of entertaining our children while we attempt to relax, sipping wine from plastic cups. Together, we celebrate the dreams of childhood, always with a happy ending, never a funeral but always a wedding.

Now, the movie begins. May everyone find joy in the dream.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Short On the Entry

I wish I had more to say this evening, but between small children and getting ramped up for the school year, there is little of me left to compose beautiful prose to dazzle and amaze you with the difficulties and trials that are my day-to-day existence. Suffice it to say that while today was good for some of my family, it was a struggle for others, and although I wish it averaged out to fine, the difficulties of one brought down the whole more than one would wish or expect. Please feel free to keep me in your thoughts, prayers, or whatever else it is you keep when you know someone who isn't having the best of times. Do not fret, however, that my blog will remain vacant, as when things settle down a bit I am sure I will get back to writing.
Be well and stay well,
RL

Thursday, August 13, 2015

May I Be Old

I have experience with angry parents.

Parents who wished for another life.
Parents who wanted something more, something different.
Parents whose dream for their children was something other than what occurred.

But angry children are a new breed.

He wants more.
More than I can offer.
More than what I can allow.
More than I am willing to give.

How can I requisition one and refuse another?
How can I excuse the former and subdue the later?
How can I pretend that my wishes supersede those of another?
How can I prioritize?

He is small, but he is real.
I am large, and I am real as well.
He is young, and he is growing,

May I not be stagnant.

May all be well and kind.
May all be well and kind.

May I remember that I was once small.

May I remember that I may soon be old.

May we all be as we are.

May we all be well together.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

On The Brink of Something

I feel as though I am on the brink of something. The brink of what, I can't tell you, but I hope it is something good, something rewarding. I could use something rewarding.

Maybe it's the usual excitement of the new school year. As one who longs for routine, the comfort of established daily expectations, I certainly picked the wrong profession. Months of unstructured summers tear me apart, and the despite my constant vigilance, there is too much variation for my liking. I spend more time thinking about what I should do than actually doing it, and the stress builds more than it is relieved. I feel like the only person on the planet who gets stressed out by having too much time off. Maybe it's the promise of finally going back to work.

Maybe it's the culmination of the steps I managed to take during my time off to put myself in a better position in my body. I got glasses, so now I don't have to squint and strain to read or write an email. I started going to the chiropractor, who very nicely, in the most professional wording ever, basically told me I was messed up. Now, she gets to beat me up twice a week for several weeks, then, hopefully, my neck will go back to its intended shape, or at least one can hope. Maybe it's the hope of physical comfort.

Maybe it's the growth of independence. My husband's car needs some work, which will (please to the powers-that-be) finally get fixed this weekend, but for the last several months, we have been car-sharing, and I made it through most of the summer without having my own vehicle. This left me at home, sometimes with boys and sometimes without, for days at a time, dependent on entertainment within walking distance and many, many trips to get samples at Trader Joe's. But somehow, this seemingly unbearable inconvenience was strangely liberating. I figured out how far I could walk with the boys. I got myself a bike and found out how far I can ride. I managed to save a bunch of money by not going out to eat for lunch all of the time, and when I did, I spent my money on local pizza, investing in the community instead of a corporation. I discovered the joy of living where I live instead of longing to be elsewhere. I found freedom in my unintentional confinement. Maybe it's the joy of home.

Maybe it's all about Boy One. This summer, he learned how to ride his own bike, swim alone in the deep end, and play video games. Perhaps the third things doesn't sound that impressive, but going from randomly pushing buttons while staring at the controller to watching the screen and having his thumbs know what to do demonstrates marked improvement in hand-eye coordination and the understanding of cause-and-effect. Plus, video games can teach many of the skills I want him to develop, including persistence, thinking flexibly, and taking responsible risks. Yes, he can also learn this skills on his bike, but he can't ride his bike while I wash the dishes or cook diner. Anyway, I think the point is that he took several significant strides into independence, and he is about to start kindergarten to boot. My little boy is a boy of the first order, and there is no turning back. Maybe it's overflowing pride and hope for his future.

Maybe it's that I'm done with babies. Maybe it's that I am a professional in my field, and for the first time, I see a career path that goes beyond the next nine months of the school year. Maybe it's that my husband is finally going to get the car fixed, and I can take myself to Target without having to ask anyone for a ride. Maybe it's that I upgraded to Windows 10 and my digital life will never be the same. Maybe it is just the joy of writing and sharing my world with others after years of pushing it down inside myself. Maybe it's all of this: all of the changes of a summer and a lifetime rolled up into a neat little package that I can actually see clearly for the first time in years now that have glasses to look through. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's everything.

Whatever it is, I am ready.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Anger Burns

Anger burns.

Sometimes like a match,
Quickly scratched then quickly extinguished.
But that is the best kind,
The best because it is gone
Almost as quickly as it comes upon itself.

Anger burns.

Sometimes like a lighter,
Held as long as one wants to hold it.
And that kind causes little harm,
Because the owner is in control
And can put it out at any time.

Anger burns.

Sometimes like an ember,
Hot and smoldering for ages.
And that is the worst kind,
The worst because it lingers
Longer than anyone would expect.

Be cautious always for embers,
For they can ignight at any time.
There is no looking back.

Anger burns.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Is This a Purse or a Diaper Bag?

Unfortunately, it is my purse, and in my efforts to make it more like an elegant woman's satchel and less like a grumpy toddler's carry-all, I came across the following items:

- a baby blanket
- two diapers, both unused
- the book, The White Queen, of which I have read three pages
- my wallet (One point for me!)
- a batman hat
- a pair of (clean) underwear (Bless my luck!)
- a apple sauce pouch lid
- a white handkerchief (One point)
- lipstick (Bonus points! This counts as two, bringing my total up to four.)
- a receipt for Boy One's glasses
- the paper cover for a pair of disposable chopsticks
- baby sunscreen (I'm counting this for me, because I use it, too.)
- a pack of silica gel
- Boy One's glasses, in their case
- car keys (another point for me!)
- a pen
- part of a tissue
- an empty medicine bottle

So, in total, I have six points, if and only if I count lipstick as two and the kids' sun screen as one. They, on the other hand, are responsible for the vast majority of the items I have been lugging around all week. Thanks, guys. I love you, too.

Now, who is going to pay for my chiropractor?

Friday, August 7, 2015

"The Good Wife" is Awesome

The Good Wife is good. I love my husband good. Balancing children and work is hard good. Living in an apartment after living in a house sucks good. I am loving this show good.

The levels of awesome are deep and gooey: the main character addresses racism in the courts, sexism in general, and the seeming impossibly of achieving anything that resembles a work-life balance. Then, on top of all that, she kicks some major butt in court prosecuting pharmaceutical companies and defending  the poor and defenseless. Excellence spreads itself all around.

Anyway, please forgive the shameless promotion. It is rare that I fall in love with non-historical fiction, so I thought I would share my most recent addiction. Please feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Walking Angry Around the Block

This is me trying to remember that they're not small forever. This is me trying to remember to stay focused on success. This is me trying not to get angry that I am awake and that they are awake and that every single person in my house is still awake.

This is me trying to see the beauty in the world rather than the disaster. This is me trying to avoid the "if onlys:" if only Boy One would go to bed; if only Boy Two were already asleep.

This is the me trying not to scratch the eyeballs out of old, old women who tell me that these are the years I should treasure, these are the days I should hold close to my heart.

This is also Boy Two giggling about how funny it is that mommy is angry. This is also Boy One, overtired and unable to manage his emotions. This is also my husband, desperate for time with his woman, fully unable to successfully manage the small people in his care.

This is Sunday night, and my anger burns.

On my walk around the neighborhood, pulling Boy Two in the wonder wagon, I heard a familiar tune coming from one of the apartments. As I looked up, there was a young man in a black shirt and a black hat and khaki pants. He was poking at his phone, as we all do, and I looked at him for a moment as I tried to place the song.

"That's Korn, huh?" I asked, once I already knew the answer.

"Yeah, man," he replied. 

"Do you mind if I listen for awhile?"

"No, way, man. Listen all you eant. Not too many people appreciate Korn nowadays."

"Not too many people appreciate most of what they should," I said. 

We shared a moment there, listening to the sound of angry adolescence peal out of into the evening. I listened, knowing all of the words, yet strangely divorced from the meaning, slowly detaching from the world from which I and the music had come. 

When the song ended, the man took his last drag from his cigarette, then smashed it down on the edge of his balcony. The remains burst into a fire-show of glorious, burning ash, and as I watched, I thanked the goodness of the Earth that I had given up that habit long ago, allowing the warm thoughts of motherhood to overwhelm me.  It was like saying goodbye to myself as I slowly walked away, goodbye to life already lived, for when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became grown, I put away childish things.

The breeze blew, and my anger cooled.

Farther down the block, I walked right through what appeared to be the end of a family reunion. On one side of the sidewalk was a man in his late thirty's and his beautiful wife, looking across the sidewalk at a line of similar looking family members. Children were running around everywhere, and one little girl was crying. Several people were speaking at once, talking about the South, about the heat and humidity, about how southern California is so much better than southern Arkansas.

"I agree that this is far better than Arkansas," I added, unasked. Everyone laughed, I smiled, and I kept walking.

Then, the darkness began to overcome the light, as the flags advertising my apartment complex began to rustle in the wind. I continued to walk: me, my wagon, and Boy Two, away from the noise of Boy One and his fumbling attempts to live in the world of my husband. I wished them both luck, as both of them will need it. Both of them will struggle to find and embrace their best selves when dealing with one another. When two humans are so much the same, it is hard to imagine how they will learn to get along in this life. I have yet to find a match so close to myself that when I look at her she reeks of me. As I was blessed with boys, perhaps I never will. May I now thank the universe for sparing me that particular challenge in this life. As far as I can see, I already have enough on my plate.

But as the sprinklers stopped and the Sun set I found myself back at the door of my apartment. Although I longed to remain outside, quiet and at home with the calm beauty that comes with the sunset, I know that my place is inside, inside with the man and the boys who are my family. May I find peace with them, and leave what remains of my anger outside, away from where I sleep, away from where I love. Made peace and calm pervade our home, and may it always be so.

Building Community with a Non-binding Vote

As my little blog has now earned its first pennies, I thought it time to spend more than 3,000% of my earnings on business cards while simultaneously keeping my day job.
However, here is where you, dear reader, can contribute and show your love for my continued reflections and rantings. Here, you can take a moment of your precious life to vote on which style of card from the "Elegent" list on Vistaprint best embodies the style, mood, and tone of my illustrious blog. 
Yes, I know what you're thinking. How could one tiny rectangle of heavyweight cardstock possibly do justice to all that my blog contains? Well, obviously, or at least hopefully, it can't, but at least you can have some input as to which example does the least crappy job.
I will take all votes into consideration, then do whatever I want to do anyway. Artists and writers are fickle and capricious like that.
And with all seriousness, thank you for reading my blog. It brings me great joy to know that the articulation of my crazy, privileged life makes you, and others like you, feel something beautiful.
Now go out and vote in the comments!
1. Grey and kind of Celtic
2. Sun burst with gray rays
3. Light blue with plant
4. Dark teal with leaves and flowers
5. Blue fade with plant and flowers
6. White with gold spirals
7. Light blue with white explosion, kind of looks like a wedding planner
8. White with green branches

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Yet Another Vote in Favor of Netflix

A bedtime dialog between me and my five-year-old.

[Boy Two], what was the best thing that happened today?

Sleeping.

Sleeping?

Uh huh. Seeping.

How could sleeping be the best thing that happened today?

I mean lunch. Lunch! Lunch was the greatest thing that happened today. Do you agree? Was lunch the best thing that happened today?

What do you mean, lunch? Where did we go for lunch?

The pizza place and the veggie place.

Actually, yeah, I did like lunch. What did you like about it?

I liked everything about it.

That's pretty awesome, dude. It's not often that I like everything about anything. How do you think that I could like more about the stuff that I have to do?

You will never like the stuff that you have to do.

You mean there's no hope? Is there nothing I can do to be happier when I'm doing things that are kind of boring or annoying or that cause me to be anxious? Isn't there anything I can do to make my life better?

You could watch Netflix everyday.

What about if we have dirty dishes in the sink? What about if I need to vacuum?

You should just watch Netflix anyway.