Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Lately, I have been tempted by desires to purchase everything. Oh, such desires! I want cute shirts and shoes and jeans and skirts and coats, and little doodads that have no purpose. I want suits for Sean and fancy jeans that he would refuse to even wear. I want funky tshirts for Gabriel, and handmade jackets, imported jumpers. I want cameras and computers and furniture and cookware and linens. I want trips to Hawaii and weekends in the country. I want cars and flat screen, hi def televisions with tivo. I want new hair cuts and make up. I want baby carriers and baby booties and fancy strollers. I want things decorated with embroidery and crochet. I want flowering plants and potted herbs and strawberry pots. I want garden furniture and sun awnings. I want exotic fruit. I want filet mignon. I want organic produce. I want great wine. I want micro brewed beers. I want deep dark chocolate truffles. I want caviar. I've never wanted caviar, before.

I've spent a long time not spending. A really long time being very frugal. This is the cost of being a stay at home mom. I usually pride myself on my ability to spend very little, to do a lot with nothing. I am a repurposer, a creative thrifter, a sidewalk scavenger, a yard saler, and I am proud of this. But I've had to be so frugal I haven't even been able to thrift shop. I've repressed my shopping side so much, that she's starting to grow larger and sprout another much uglier, louder and more expensive head.

But I don't want to be this rabid consumer. (As if I had the money to be) I want to live lightly on the land. It'd be cool to hand knit sweaters and carve bedsteads and farm and grow things to feed my family. Trade services and goods the way people once did. This is a lot harder to do in the city than it is in the country. Although I did know someone who made cabbage soup out of ornamental cabbages he had poached from the side of some building.

In my heart, I am a country girl. It must be my grandparents' blood coming out. My grandpa who gave up his chicken farm and built his own boat that he sailed down the Mississippi to a new life in Florida. Or my grandma (the other side) who grew up in Puerto Rico in a palm frond hut, that would blow down at each hurricane. They would just put another one up when the weather calmed.

In reality, I am a city girl, with the attendant rent hikes and expensive tastes. I do like the Museums, and gourmet food, and I'm a fashion freak, although not a slave to it.

I like to keep a balance between the country girl and the city girl, and usually I manage. But lately, these unrequited urges to be fancy have-it-all are overwhelming me. I want all those useless frilly things! I want to be like the girls I read about! I want to buy all the baby supplies that I know we don't need! I want to climb the Empire State Building like King Kong and shout from the top of it:



Back in my last lifetime, when I was a High School teacher, my co-teacher Susan came up with the concept of "homeplay". The idea was that the assignments you took home from school were fun and enlightening, not necessarily "work" at all. And if you looked at them as play instead of work, they wouldn't seem so onerous, it would be more like a game than work.

So we called all of our homework assignments homeplay.

The kids weren't fooled, of course. They knew we were still asking for reading and writing and deadlines and all sorts of stuff, but maybe some of them realized that the things we were asking them to do at home were sometimes not as grim as your typical homework-- they might have been reflective pieces, or fun readings, or things on the media or on their own interests.

I bring this up because I have been so exhausted with all I have to do as a Stay at home mom, it just feels overwhelming. It's so much work, some of which I am not really cut out for. And it never stops. It is relentless and demanding, although it is generally not hard labor. The baby is just one part of it. There is also all the housework, and anyone who has been to my home will tell you, housework is not my forte.

But I used to dream of being able to stay home and raise kids. What a wonderful idea, raising children, cooking, making a beautiful home, creating, writing... Little did I know how I would respond to actually being in that situation. Now I know that I am still not getting a great amount of sleep, and sleep deprivation has a good deal to do with my inability to stay on top of all of this, but still, it ain't easy.

What would happen, though, if I stopped thinking of all this drudgery as work. Oh, see, that is not the appropriate attitude at all. It doesn't have to be drudgery. I could be making a beautiful home and filling it with life and beauty and color and music and laughter and art and poetry and song. And I could also stop thinking that I have done nothing on any partcular day-- raising a baby is a lot. I am feeding and cleaning and playing with, and teaching, and singing to and dancing with, and exercising and walking, and nursing and putting to sleep, and putting on puppet shows (well, Ernie shows, since he is our only puppet). Basically I've been doing a lot and it will help Gabriel as he grows. I have even managed to toss in a shower for myself here and there, or a cooking a meal, or washing and folding some laundry, sweeping, etc. Every once in a while I get to write in my blog or in my journal. Hmm. I refuse to say that I should be doing more. But I do want to say that I could be enjoying it more while I'm doing it.

This is the crux of the issue. I want to enjoy this time in my life, this opportunity to stay at home with the baby and just be. I don't know how long we will be able to manage me staying home. It's really only been that way out of default, since I don't have a job to go back to, but it is a chance that I don't want to louse up by being miserable and dissatisfied.

My aim is happiness, and so, from now on, I'm going to try to switch what I am doing from "housework" to "houseplay." Like playing house. Like a little girl might. Like having fun.

I'll try to keep you updated on how that is working for me.

Monday, February 27, 2006


I just came back from getting Gabriel his yogurt. While at the grocery store, I passed the Entenman's display. Usually, I have no trouble resisting Entenman's, but this time, they had my favorite, the raspberry danish, so I had to buy it.

Came home from the grocery store, Gabriel asleep in his stroller, and decided I had to have my slice of raspberry danish right away, with a cup of coffee and hot milk. So here I am, making my afternoon snack, heating up the milk in the pot on the stove, pouring it into the cup with coffee, and all of a sudden I get a wave of sense memory.

My grandma. That's who I remember, with her stovetop-made El Pilon coffee and scalded milk, lots of sugar, and her cheapdelicioius cake treats. We'd sit down at the old red porcelain topped table and drink coffee and eat sweets. I miss my grandma, and wish she could have had a chance to get to know Gabriel, or Sean, for that matter. She did get a chance to meet some of her great grandchildren before she died, but they were of the more distant cousins, the ones she didn't help raise, not her girls.

When we were little, my sister and I spent every weekend with our grandma, watching tv and getting snacks that were forbidden at home, candies and sugar cereal. We'd visit our cousins and Grandma would teach us to crochet or sew doll clothes. Our uncle would teach us Gin Rummy. Then when I was ten, my family moved in with Grandma.

That was the beginning of the end. My father was paranoid schizophrenic. We were dirt poor. There were too many people living in that apartment in the Bronx, and soon, there were too many cats. I became a teenager there, with the help of my mom and my grandma, and I suppose you could say, my dad, too, although it was more like inspite of him. It was miserable. I was miserable and yet....

Here's the paradoxical part... I think that was one of the happiest periods of my life. It's so wierd to look at it like that, because I just wanted to get out of there, but it wasn't about living there, or any of the things that were going on in my life. The happiness came from inside.

I was the happiest then because I was the most hopeful. I believed things would be good, would be better. I always looked at the bright side of things. I was an optimist, and that made me a generally happy person.

Later on, when I had more of what I wanted in life, when things weren't as difficult, when I was enroute to reaching my dreams, that is where the dissatisfaction set in. Depression. Pessimism. Perfectionism.

Paradox-- life sucked, and I was "happy." Life is working and on track, and I all I can see is what I don't have, what isn't working, what I haven't done.

Maybe it's a factor of how much more I know, now. When I was a teenager, I tried writing a novel, and thought it was GREAT. Then I learned what I SHOULD be doing as an author, what made a book really great, and I began to believe that everything I wrote wasn't good enough. And that goes the same for the rest of life.

Now that I know all of the possible roadblocks to the success I want in life, the roadblocks are all I can see. I don't see the road, I don't see the beautiful scenery at the distance, I don't see the wildflowers by the side of the road or the deer off in the trees, I don't think I even see the detours, or the roadsigns... just the roadblocks.

I want to see the world as a child sees. I want to go back to the uncorrupted world view that I once had. Okay, I know the world sucks, but I want to be okay with the world sucking. I want to believe that some parts of it don't. Some parts of the world are just as brilliant and pure as a sunset. I want to go back to the belief that the suckiness of the world does not taint the possibilities that are there.

And I do believe in that innocence, I do, I just have to remember to keep working on believing it.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

On Time

This relativity stuff sure is relative lately.

All I know is that time used to go so slowly, and ever since having Gabriel, it has sped by like a zooming fire engine. I can barely keep track of the days and the weeks go like madness. I blink and it's already time to take the recycling to the curb again.

On one hand that's good-- it means that my mommy's group will come back around sooner rather than later. It means that Spring is almost here WOO HOO! On the other hand, another week has gone by where I haven't done anything with my writing, where I haven't called all the people I haven't called, where I haven't cleaned or cooked or organized or been who I want to be.

I remember when I was a child, time went so slowly. Christmas was a millenium away, three weeks without allowance was a terrible sentence, and Summer lasted forever, was my entire life, infact. And yet, the older I got, the more birthdays I had, the more Summers and Christmases. Each week got shorter, each day did. An hour was like a blink.

But with Gabriel, the whole thing has sped up so much more rapidly. He's already almost 8mos, which is almost 9months, which is not that far off from one year. Soon he'll be walking, talking, running, taking off into the air, going to school, growing a beard, getting married...goodness. I can't even manage to take a shower two days running.

And yet for him, each day must reach off into infinity. Each nap in his crib must stretch so long. For him, the hour I am playing with him on the couch, tossing him into the air, singing songs to him, tickling him and making him laugh, that must be a long golden tinged hour.

That's a sweet thought. For him, he has long stretches of mama, glorious, beautiful mama, who is the funniest person in the world, the softest and warmest. Then he goes to sleep, and it starts all over again, with new adventures everyday. Hmm, looked at it from that direction, life's not half bad at all.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Funny how being a mom changes everything. Oh wait, they tell you that. But what I mean is that it feels as if everything that comes before was a different person, or a different life. It’s hard to connect to that stuff, that brainset. Something that was clear and simple before, is now just simply incomprehensible. I know it’s still there. I still have the knowledge. I still have the ability, but it is as if it is hiding behind a curtain. The baby is playing in front of the curtain, and that distracts me all to hell and I don’t even bother trying to open the curtain. Then, other times, all I want to do is open that curtain, and I’m staring at it filled with need, but the baby is crying, or nursing or needs lunch, or maybe I have to clean up after the baby or feed myself so I don’t collapse—and there is just no way I can get to the curtain to look behind and figure out who the wizard is.

BUT I AM THE WIZARD!!! Oh great and powerful. So easy to forget, so easy to lose focus, to lose confidence in my own wizarding powers-- pick your favorite wizard, Oz, Gandalf, Merlin, Harry Potter-- or I suppose “witchly” powers would be a better term, since wizards have a tendency to be men, and there’s something very important to my own powers about being a woman. So pick your favorite witch, Morgan Le Fay, The Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda, Hermione, the Witches of Eastwick, or of Salem, the girls from that movie, The Craft.

Do you notice that wizards are mostly wise and good, and witches have a tendency to be considered evil and dangerous??? Hmmm. I guess we’re fighting against the fear of women’s power. A woman who wields power like a man is a witch. This isn’t just my college feminism rearing it’s head, here. It’s something I have to deal with as a mother, as a (I can’t believe I refer to myself this way) house wife, a mate.

Here’s what I am fighting against: All my power, all my energy, all my creative and generative fire should be going into my child, home, partner. And this isn’t just from outside sources like society, or tv, or my fiancĂ©e, or my mom—no, this expectation is coming from me.

Such a muck my brain is in. I want to create, I want to be strong, I want to be THE WIZARD, but my urge is to be caretaker, to be passive and react to others’ actions (Sean, Gabriel, the washing machine, even the machine of my own body), to be THE MOM.

Truth is it’s scary to step into your own power, to be that selfish, to be that single minded, to put yourself out into the world and say I AM THE WIZARD. The fear stops me. The fear keeps me from making time for myself and my creativity. The overwhelm of all the new responsibilities stops me from taking the first steps to create. The exhaustion of taking care of baby and home allows me an easy way out of the struggle to make something of depth and meaning. The actuality of my day to day life, that speeds from baby nap to feed to baby nap, with me trying to fit all the stuff in, that stops me, too. I want to DO, I want to BE… but at the same time, it’s easier to just be the mom and take care of others instead of myself and my work. I want to, I don’t want. And there are so many convenient excuses.

O, the muck of the twisty brain.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

one more thing

Did you catch my use of "Oh La!" How very Jane Austen of me.

All right, all right, I'm going to bed, now.

Ramblings from an Overtired Mom

Why am I still awake? Why am I up? It's 10:53 and my eyes are glazing over. Exhaustion, exhaustion. But, still, I'm here, messing around on line and watching the reunion episode of Project Runway. TV plays way too big a role in my life.

The baby will be up at 6:30 or 7am, and I've got to get up with him and start my day. It's just so much easier if I've had a decent night's sleep.

I also spend too much time on Urban Baby, a website for moms. Whenever I don't have the speed to get up and go, and shlump around and hit refresh on the UB message boards.

But things are getting better all the time. I am slowly figuring out what the heck I want to do with my life and how I'm gonna get there. Slowly, so don't ask me to tell you how. But I did make a list of all the projects that I am or could be involved with that would further my career and/or make me some money.

OH La!

I could go over the work that I've already done and try to get some of that published...

My dozens of poems
Ruby Jack, my kids story
My first, lonely and abandoned novel, Marguerite.

It seems like I should do stuff with that mess, seeing as I am already part of the way there. And publishing would help me get ahead with teaching and more publishing, don't cha think?

I'm also thinking of some new projects.

I'd like to write a book called Mom Creates-- a creativity book designed to help mothers and other strange creatures discover/rediscover their own artistic urges.
And I'd like to write a science fiction novel... I don't know what about exactly... but it is gestating.
I also was just invited by a friend to create a tarot card deck... she's doing the same, so it would kind of be a group project, or maybe a support group project.

Well, all the projects are writing except for the tarot deck... but that's not actually a new project for me, considering I started researching and collecting ideas something like ten years ago. I have actually decided that I am not going to start any new endeavors. By that, I mean things that I would have to learn an entirely new skill set for-- like jewelry making or creating stuffed animals out of home felted sweaters... let's just say I spend too much time on crafting boards, where I get silly inspired.

Yes. I am over tired. Yes. I am rambling. But the key to look at here is that the ideas are coming back, even some of the energy that allows me to explore the ideas... even if only for fifteen minutes at a time, ever. I mean, looky here. I'm actually writing in my blog, instead of hitting refresh one more time on the repetitive, snarky, sometimes informative and occassionally entertaining yet highly addictive Urban Baby Website.

I'm going to bed now.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

On Being a Warrior

In case you were wondering what all this Warrior Girl stuff had to do with being a mom or an artist or whatever, I found this quote that reminded me of why I chose warriorgirl as my title here. I forget about being a "warrior" all the time. I struggle and strain in my daily life, but my goal is here, my goal is this path, as a mother, as an artist, as a partner, as a woman, as a human. It's a quote from Carlos Castaneda.
Don Juan says it best:
A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war: wide-awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance. Going to knowledge or going to war in any other manner is a mistake, and whoever makes it might never live to regret it.
A warrior chooses a path with heart, any path with heart, and follows it; and then he rejoices and laughs. He knows because he sees that his life will be over altogether too soon. He sees that nothing is more important than anything else.
A warrior is a hunter. He calculates everything. That’s control. Once his calculations are over, he acts. He lets go. That’s abandon. A warrior is not a leaf at the mercy of the wind. No one can push him; no one can make him do things against himself or against his better judgment. A warrior is tuned to survive, and he survives in the best of all possible fashions.
A warrior must cultivate the feeling that he has everything needed for the extravagant journey that is his life. What counts for a warrior is being alive. Life in itself is sufficient, self-explanatory and complete. Therefore, one may say without being presumptuous that the experience of experiences is being alive.
A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting, nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting.
A warrior must learn to make every act count, since he is going to be here in this world for only a short while, in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it.
Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore, a warrior must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if he feels that he should not follow it, he must not stay with it under any conditions. His decision to keep on that path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. He must look at every path closely and deliberately. There is a question that a warrior has to ask, mandatorily: ‘Does this path have a heart?’
Feeling important makes one heavy, clumsy and vain. To be a warrior one needs to be light and fluid.
If a warrior is to succeed at anything, the success must come gently, with a great deal of effort but with no stress or obsession.
Intent is not a thought, or an object, or a wish. Intent is what can make a man succeed when his thoughts tell him that he is defeated. It operates in spite of the warrior’s indulgence. Intent is what makes him invulnerable. Intent is what sends a shaman through a wall, through space, to infinity.
Only as a warrior can one withstand the path of knowledge. A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges. The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.
The humbleness of a warrior is not the humbleness of the beggar. The warrior lowers his head to no one, but at the same time, he doesn’t permit anyone to lower his head to him. The beggar, on the other hand, falls to his knees at the drop of a hat and scrapes the floor to anyone he deems to be higher; but at the same time, he demands that someone lower than him scrape the floor for him.
The most effective way to live is as a warrior. A warrior may worry and think before making any decision, but once he makes it, he goes his way, free from worries or thoughts; there will be a million other decisions still awaiting him. That’s the warrior’s way.
All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. However, a path without a heart is never enjoyable. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy—it does not make a warrior work at liking it; it makes for a joyful journey; as long as a man follows it, he is one with it.
Whenever a warrior decides to do something, he must go all the way, but he must take responsibility for what he does. No matter what he does, he must know first why he is doing it, and then he must proceed with his actions without having doubts or remorse about them.
An average man is too concerned with liking people or with being liked himself. A warrior likes, that’s all. He likes whatever or whomever he wants, for the hell of it.
The self-confidence of the warrior is not the self-confidence of the average man. The average man seeks certainty in the eyes of the onlooker and calls that self-confidence. The warrior seeks impeccability in his own eyes and calls that humbleness.
The warrior: silent in his struggle, undetainable because he has nothing to lose, functional and efficacious because he has everything to gain.
Warriors do not win victories by beating their heads against walls, but by overtaking the walls. Warriors jump over walls; they don’t demolish them.
If his spirit is distorted he should simply fix it—purge it, make it perfect —- because there is no other task in our entire lives which is more worthwhile… To seek the perfection of the warrior’s spirit is the only task worthy of our temporariness, our manhood
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