Monthly Archives: May 2012

It’s the weather- or, Subconscious Wanderlust

I’ve been having vivid dreams. The kind of dreams that stick with me and color my day. It’s like looking through a stained glass window. A translucent filter with images of seaside cliffs and towering masts of tall ships, desert military encampments and high school parking lots. I run through fields of tall wheat, and sail crystal blue waters with vibrantly colored sea life. I bark orders in dusty fatigues, and escape failing space crafts with barely enough breath to rocket safely into the glittering promise of other galaxies.
Then I wake up. Usually just as I am about to do something dramatic or discover something important.
What a gyp.

I grow restless when the weather turns warm. I used to, (when I was single and childless), suddenly just take off for the beach without so much as a moment’s notice; or walk into a gas station, grab a map, close my eyes, point to a spot and head there. Too bad I was so broke I usually couldn’t make it farther than one state in any direction. My car, at the time, was a 1978 Malibu Classic. Blue with a little bit of metallic flake – or so it appeared when the sun hit it just the right way. It guzzled gas & ate oil. Also, toward the bitter end, the speedometer would freak out and flit back and forth like a metronome set at 300 bpm. On the one hand, a terrible car for a broke adventurer to set off in (as it cost a fortune to get anywhere); on the other hand, a perfect car for this broke adventurer (as it kept me out of trouble – for the most part). Anyway, maybe that’s what these dreams lately are all about. I certainly can no longer set off for parts unknown at the drop of a hat, so maybe my subconscious is doing it for me – only so much better. And all expenses paid.
I’m not just the chick with the fiddle or the mom with three kids in tow. I may seemlike just plain ol’ me, but last night, I ran barefoot across cold marble to escape from my tormentors before sailing to an uncharted island only to discover that I was a pilot sent to free a group of people held captive underwater and bring them aboard the space vessel orbiting wherever it was that we were.
Yeah, I’m a space cadet all right. But the weather’s warm, tomorrow is a school day, and I’m not going anywhere; so, space cadet is fine by me.

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Birthday Boy and Broken Branches

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Yesterday my sweet Yum Yums turned 1. I simply cannot believe how this could have happened. I blinked and an entire year evaporated. It’s as if I’m living in an “I Dream of Jeannie” episode, except I don’t realize it and just keep blinking away hours – no months of my life. If only I could harness that power for good … if only I could be like that girl in that 80’s sitcom who could put her fingers together and freeze time. Imagine all that I could get accomplished! What was the name of that show…?

Anyway, I was thinking about all of this as I was moving through my morning, (which was speeding along faster than I could manage to keep up with), and placing myself back in last year’s delivery room where I held my tiny little Yums for the first time. There’s a poem out there somewhere with a line that goes (pardon my paraphrasing) “Your children are not your children. They come through you, not from you,” and this was exactly what I was thinking of a year ago. I have no idea who wrote it, and in fact only heard it read once, but it stuck with me. I always thought it was a beautiful idea: little luminous souls, swaddled and presented to new guardians – and there I was, holding this tiny new perfect little person. And he did seem luminous. To me, anyway. But I don’t think that poem has got it quite right. I think that our children come both through and of us. I say that because I see little bits of myself in my children every day. Also, I am absolutely my father’s daughter. There are many obvious similarities, but it goes beyond any of those. We can’t even play rock, paper, scissors together because 90% of the time it’s a stalemate. It’s very creepy. Even when we decide we’re going to make a move to fool each other, we make the same move at the same time. When I was a kid, it freaked me out. I was convinced he could read my mind. Then I realized it’s even weirder than that: we make the same choices, and we make those choices at the same time. Talk about the power of genes! Anyway, I was lost in these internal ramblings as I was changing a diaper, when The Muffin points out the window and says: “Whoa! Mom! Look at our tree!!”

I look up, and it’s like the tree has its hand pressed against the window. It was a branch, in fact, that had fallen, but it looked like fingers against the glass. Yum Yums loves trees – in fact, looking up at the trees was one of the first things that made him smile; so it seemed appropriate somehow that on his birthday, there’d be a big tree branch pressed against the window, almost as if it was saying “Hi”. It’s when I opened the window, that I noticed the big branch was also resting on a power line.

The night before, I read a short piece on the Standing Ones. I’ve always loved trees, too, so I guess that’s why it caught my attention. Anyway, it was posted on Curanderismo (the Healing Art of Mexico)’s Facebook page and it read:

“It is said all our people talked with the Standing Ones in times gone by,
but humans began to think they were better than the trees and animals.

They placed themselves above nature
and claimed dominion over all the earth.

That is when humans stopped listening
and the green things stopped talking.”

It went on to describe how with patience, one might learn to communicate with the trees; then described the different attributes of certain types of trees. Our tree in question – the one with the branch on the power line – is a Maple. I think. I really don’t know much about trees at all, which I am sure would disappoint my Dziadzi (Grandfather) to no end. He studied Forestry before becoming a Meteorologist, and knew all the trees by name. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Maple. It seems that Maple “is the tree of offering; of giving of ones self so that others may benefit” (according to that post). So, as I was carefully moving the much-more-enormous-branch-than-it-looked-from-the-window away from the power line, my heart went out to that tree. It’s a beautiful tree that gives deep red leaves in the fall, and now that I’m really looking closely at it, seems to be half-rotten. I climbed up into the tree to free part of another broken branch, and noticed another rotten limb just barely hanging on, so I gave a hard thwack & down it went. Poor tree. I made a feeble attempt at Native American tree talking.

Me: “What’s wrong?”

silence

“How can I help you?”

silence.

“Ugh!” – that was me as I accidentally put my hand on a slug, then discovered what looked like a fluffy bird’s nest, but filled with slugs. Kinda killed the mood. And the “conversation.” But I did take some pictures.

Tree bones

Slug Nest?

rotten wood

I brought Yum Yums and the Muffin outside to look at the broken branches, and play in the grass a tiny bit before it started to rain again. We noticed an entrance to a burrow at the tree’s roots, and a line of mushrooms leading to the nest with the slugs. The Muffin wielded rotten twigs like swords and fought imaginary Ninjas in the yard. It seems the description on Maple was an apt one: “tree of offering; giving of ones self”.

I couldn’t help but think of that book “The Giving Tree.” Which is made of paper. Which came from trees. The irony is not lost on me.

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Chocolate Euphoria

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This morning, I had a lovely Mother’s Day “brunch” at The Muffin’s school. The class sang 2 songs (“You Are My Sunshine”, and some other song that I’d never heard before whose refrain was “I Love You”), which made me cry right in front of the whole class. Then the Muffin, who is also emotional, came running into my arms with tears streaming down her face. After some fruit and a blueberry muffin, I ask her why she was crying.

“Those songs just make me sad.”

Me, too, Muffin. Me, too.

I open the gift she made for me – which was a lovely baked clay bracelet that she made with her own little hands; and read the questionnaire she filled out about me. The best answer was that my favorite television show is – and I quote: “those scary shows that she watches after I go to bed.” (hee hee.) Yum yums ate all but 3 pieces of my fruit, and is all over the place, but I’m having a pretty nice time. Finally, I could contain the Yumsers no more, and it was nearly time for “Lunch Bunch” (mid-day enrichment class that she begged to be a part of), so I tell The Muffin I’m leaving. You’d have thought I was telling her I was moving to Antarctica. She grabs onto me, buries her face in my shirt and sobs “No!!! Don’t go!!!” I had to leave her crying her eyes out while her teacher tried to reason with her.

I don’t get it. She begged us to let her be a part of “Lunch Bunch”. It actually was a birthday present from her Grandma, and she was soooooo excited. She counted down the months until her May class. She counted down the days from last week’s “Lunch bunch”. She explained to me proudly this morning that I was to leave after the Mother’s Day Brunch, because she gets to stay. She had the biggest smile as she marched herself into the school armed with her lunch box and water bottle. Being a part of “Lunch Bunch”, it seems, is some sort of preschool badge of honor. So, why the tears? I guess I’ll never understand exactly what goes on in that little mind of hers. I left there feeling terrible.

Actually, lately, I’ve just generally been feeling terrible. I feel like a mess. Maybe it goes back to that “somewhere between 1/3 & mid-life crisis” I’ve been having. I found myself in the midst of this national celebration of mothers, hoping that my life is meant for more than just being a caregiver. I’m hoping that I have a destiny beyond laundry, dishes, and being a round-the-clock diner. I want my life to be more than that. I want to be special.

This makes me feel guilty. -And before anyone can shake their head, and remind me of how lucky I actually am: I know it. I know it, and this is why I feel guilty about all this. I love being a mother more than I’ve ever loved anything before in my life. I love each and every one of my children so much I think I might just explode. I am so grateful to be able to stay home during the day and be there for them, that I marvel at my good fortune and wonder what it was that I did to deserve such a precious thing. It is precisely this near dream of a life that makes me feel terrible about feeling anything other than perpetual happiness; and this guilt has been getting me down. Longing and guilt for the longing. What a head case I am! Or should I say: was.

So I’m feeling grateful and terrible and grateful and terrible, then I decide to open the present I got for myself. I have a gift card & I used it to buy something decadent for myself (which made me feel guilty – I know, I know). It seems I am now the proud owner of some magic beans. Real live magic beans! My friends, the gift I got for myself is 2 pounds of ground brewing chocolate! I wasn’t sure what to expect, exactly, as I filled the French Press with ground roasted chocolate beans, but what I got was chocolate euphoria! It tastes like a combination of chocolate, tea, and/or coffee. It isn’t thick like hot chocolate. It’s light the way a cup of tea is, and bitter the way a cup of coffee is, and yet chocolatey! I actually felt my brain tingle – in a good way. With every sip, I couldn’t help but smile a great big goofy smile. One cup, and I’m a new woman! I feel great! In fact, I feel so good, I’m wondering what the heck is in this stuff! Scratch that – I’m not sure I actually want to know. It’s “food of the gods”, and that’s good enough for me. Someone get me that Super Mom cape – I’m ready to run some errands!

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Man Down and the Art of No Rehearsal

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I admit that I was a little stressed out. I had a gig with one of the bands I play in, Man Down, and I haven’t had time to practice my instrument as much as I’d like, let alone work on ANY of the Man Down tunes. This might not have been such a big deal if it were not for the fact that Man Down hadn’t played a gig in months. For those of you who know the band, this probably sounds silly. Stress and Man Down are two things that should never go together – it’s about as laid back as a band can possibly get. If there’s ever a rehearsal, it’s the day of the gig in either our basement or backyard for whoever can make it. There’s ten of us, so getting everyone anywhere at the same time is always a trick. In fact, at this last gig, Man Down was a man down: our trumpet player couldn’t make it & none of us realized it until we were setting up. So you see, a Man Down gig really isn’t something to get bent out of shape over. We’re there to play music and have fun. Now, before you start thinking that we’re a wholly unprofessional group bumbling our way through a gig – we’re not. That’s just the thing: rehearsal or no, sporadic gigging aside, we always manage to pull it off. The band sounds good. It sounds good, because of the natural talent & charisma of the part time musicians, and the polished talent, musicality & charisma of the full-time professional musicians in the group. This is where I start to feel a bit inferior. Ok, more than a bit. Especially lately. Lately, my days have not been spent working on music for hours on end. They’ve been spent knee deep in diapers, laundry, groceries, and barely getting kids where they need to be on time – and when they get there I’m still in my jammies. 🙂 This is ok. It’s ok, so long as I am able to at least maintain my current level of playing, but it does make me feel inferior.

Usually, this inferiority complex is a good thing because it has served as my best motivator. I wasn’t a Peabody trained wunderkind like some of the other guys. I’m just a gal who played the violin half-heartedly in middle & high school and quit as soon as I could. I believe my exact words after the 11th grade end of the year orchestra concert were “I am never playing this stupid instrument ever again”, (and I believe I said under my breath “good riddance.”) Usually when I say stuff like that, it comes back to bite me in the ass. Usually when I make any sort of definitive statement – especially one with as much venom as I felt then, the exact opposite comes to pass. In this case, I seem to have made a life out of playing that “stupid instrument”, and regret whole-heartedly not spending every spare moment of my youth practicing it. I do regret it because I have come to a realization: I’m not a natural at it. I wanted to be, so I told myself that I was, and then would get frustrated when I couldn’t do things. Then walk away blaming something else. “I just have a mental block.”

“I’m stressed out.”

“I’ve got a lot on my mind.”

“I hate this song.”

“No one ever taught me how to do that, so…”

“This instrument is stupid.”

After years of making excuses for myself, I buckled down, started taking lessons and worked – really worked really hard at it. Progress felt slow. Still does, but it was progress. I was feeling more confident. I was able to take a more accurate inventory of my strengths & weaknesses. I was able to believe in my strengths without relying on them to mask the lack of technical skill in other areas. I am expressive and a good performer, but that is no substitute for good old fashioned skill – and skill is something that for me comes at a high price:time – and a lot of it. Time, though, is something that is in short supply lately. This is why I was stressed. Man Down has made an art out of performing without rehearsals, but I have not. I need to work every day to feel adequate. Even for Man Down.

In the end, I did get some practicing in, and though the band didn’t get that afternoon-before-the-gig rehearsal, (and were trumpetless), it sounded good – and what’s more, I was able to relax and have a great time. I don’t know what I’d do without music in my life, and I am so grateful to be able to play with people who not only are good friends, but who have also unwittingly made me work to become a better player.

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Pajama Mama

I often dream that I have no shoes.  I can’t find them, or I left them somewhere, or all of a sudden I realize “Holy Flip Flops, Batman -I’m shoeless!”  Usually, this realization comes as I’m setting foot in a fancy restaurant, or the floor is covered in broken glass, or  I’m running for my life.  Sometimes there’s sulfuric acid all over the floor.  Don’t ask me – I have no idea why my subconscious would think “you know what this floor needs?  Sulfuric acid!”, but it does.  I’m weird like that.  Anyway, these dreams are always stressful.  I’m guessing the meaning there is that I feel unprepared.

I guess.

I really have no idea, actually, but I’ve had these dreams for as long as I can remember.  I suppose it’s my version of dreaming that I show up to school in my underwear.  Or pajamas.  -Which is exactly what I did the other day, but in real life.  Not in my underwear (well, I mean I had underwear on under my clothes), but in my pajamas.  And not to my school, but to my daughter’s.  You see, we were running a little behind.   I dropped the Noodle off at school, came home, fed Yum Yums, got the Muffin ready for her school field trip & in all the craziness of getting everyone else situated and where they needed to be, I failed to get myself ready.   My hair was all askew in the ponytail I had fallen asleep in.  I was in the shirt I wore yesterday (& slept in), and had on my long sleeved white jammy top.  At least I had changed into a pair of jeans.  And had shoes.  And at least I got The Muffin to her field trip relatively close to on time.  I felt kinda bad about showing up in the state I was in, but I was just dropping her off, and couldn’t possibly come with her.  I hadn’t sent in the proper form for that, because siblings aren’t allowed on field trips, and I had Yum Yums – right?  Wrong.  As The Muffin cries into my shirt that she wants me to stay, I look around & see another mom with her twin babies.  She looked as though she was going to remain on the scene.

So I ask her: “are you staying?”

Other Mom: “well, I hadn’t planned on it, but it looks like I am.  I think.”

Me: “are we allowed?”

Other Mom: “yeah.  I hadn’t realized…”

I ask the teacher, and she says “sure”, so I go with it.  It was a nature field trip.  (Good thing it wasn’t at a museum).  I managed to only get the very tips of the toes of my shoes wet in the “stream exploration” part, and I was glad I had the long sleeve white jammy top when we were catching bugs in the tall grass of the “catching bugs in the meadow” segment.  Yum Yums rode on my hip the whole time, and didn’t need a diaper change all morning.  Which was good, because I didn’t have any with me & the mom with the twin babies ended up being in another group.   All in all, I’d say it was a success.

I’d like to say that I learned something from this experience like: “brush your hair before packing lunches” at the very least.  But I didn’t.  This morning, as I was looking for something else entirely, I came across a notice informing me of my parent-teacher conference with The Muffin’s teacher.  It was scheduled to start in 12 minutes.  Hairbrush be damned, I was out of the house like a shot!  Well, almost.  I did change out of my jammies this time.

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