Friday, March 31, 2006

To Leave a Mark

I told Sean yesterday that the house is going to hell in a hand basket, because when I take Gabriel out in this glorious early Spring weather, there is no time to clean. And during his morning naps, I am writing, so there’s no time to clean there, either.

Sean said to me. That’s good. It’s good for you and Gabriel to go out and be with the other moms and babies. And it’s good for you to be writing.

This is one of the reasons that I am with Sean. Because I knew that he would be supportive of my creative ambitions. He actually wants me to ambitious—more than I’ve wanted it myself for the last couple of years. I think he is relieved to see me coming back to myself. Although, he may simply be hoping that I will write a bestseller and we won’t have to worry about money, anymore. Hee hee.

Speaking of money, I just got the check from my teachers’ retirement fund. Yes. I cashed it in early. And I am nowhere near retirement. My reasoning is that so little went into the fund-- only a few years-- that it probably wouldn’t do me a whole lot of good when I actually retire. But it might help me now by allowing me to stay home just a little bit longer, and help me get set up as a freelancer. I don’t know what would be the best way to spend it in order to utilize it to the best of my ability. It really isn’t all that much. Where to start?

Wow. There are so many mechanics to get straight when you are trying to stay at home with the baby and be creative, and keep the house straight, and try to make money. That’s on top of the normal struggles of living. I don’t think I realized how easy I had it when I was single. I only saw the struggles, normally—money, loneliness, internal convolutions, creative block, whatever. But you are able to have the luxury of being selfish to a much greater degree as a single person. No wonder people wait so long to settle down, nowadays.

But on the other hand, I’m feeling more of a motivation to step up to the creative plate now that I am a mother. I spent so many years exploring and learning and dipping my toe into the water of being an artist and writer. I’ve done enough preparing, and now it’s time to make it real. I can’t fart around anymore, because the time I have to myself is so rare and valuable. I have to focus down. I’ve already decided to not begin any new endeavors—no crafting or jewelry making or forays into fashion design. I’m going to stick with my current skills and genres.

In other words, no more being a dilettante for me. It’s time to take my work seriously. I want to have something real to work on. I want to have a career, and a body of work to leave Gabriel. And I want to show him that it is possible to be real in this world, to be successful. To leave a mark.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spring, or How I Get Anywhere

I walk down the street and it's like I am walking down a path strewn with miracles. All those dry, lifeless tree branches overhead are bursting into life! Flowers pop up in sidewalk planters. Grass peeks up through cracks in the cement and in empty lots. The park is turning green. I can almost not believe it. Spring is here. How does that happen?

I've taken Biology, I know how it works. I know the cycle of life. I know fallow periods and the longer daylight hours, and all that. Yet each Spring I am amazed anew that Winter is over and the air is warm and the trees and flowers are blooming. Summer will be here soon.

Amazing and awesome. Have faith in Spring returning. That's a good thing to believe in. And have faith that like Spring, life will come back around.

It does happen. When you are down in the dumps, and nothing seems to be working, and all the days seem to be cold and dark, life starts to come back. It's hard to even notice at first. It creeps in, like getting an hour more sleep a night. It's really not that much, but it makes a difference. Or making the bed everyday. Really, you think, why does it matter? You're just going to mess it up again that night, but it's one of those little steps that makes me, at least, feel like I have just a tiny bit more control over my own life. And then I can keep the dishes washed. And then the baby gets on a feeding schedule. And then I manage to write in my journal more, or paint a little picture, or meet up with people.

It's the baby steps that lead to the big results.

I've never been effective with the huge, grand goals-- like writing a novel, or painting a large painting for my bedroom (something I've been procrastinating on). I look at the next step I have to take, and it seems as if my legs can't possibly stretch so far. I just sit down where I am and go no further. But if I set small goals, like, write a page a day (or even smaller, write for 15 minutes a day) then I can use those little pebbles as stepping stones, and pretty soon, my goals come to life.

When I think about it, I've never accomplished anything that wasn't broken down into baby steps. I don't know how other people are, if they actually can sit down and just power out those big goals, but I have to work my way up to them-- especially if I find them really important, and thus, really scary.

I take that back. I do know how other people are. I'm a fricking teacher. I've witnessed it again and again. When a person faces a task that they are afraid they are not up to, they don't or can't accomplish it. I see it in myself, I see it in Sean when he faces the mess of his study (he just can't seem to get it together), I've seen it with my students, my family, my friends.

That's why we break it down into accomplishable goals. It ain't easy. Even breaking a task down is a task in itself, and it's easy to get discouraged, or to misjudge what you can take on at once, or to not realize how much goes into that big task you have ahead of you. It's good to be easy on yourself when you begin any goal. You've got to work up to it, build up habits, a body of work, your understanding of what you need to go. Expecting yourself to be perfect is a killer. Expecting a perfect product is a killer, too.

I like to keep track of how far I've actually come. In addition to my To Do list, I have a Did Done list. I need to feel like I've accomplished stuff. I write them down on my little list, so that I'm actually doing stuff, before the bigger, visible results show up. Like a chapter of a novel, or a clean home, or a big painting. Or trees bursting into Spring. Yippee!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ode to the To Do List

Like Gabriel, who is learning to commando crawl and to walk while holding onto Mama, I am learning how to motor up in my life. In addition to getting more sleep and having a baby who is a tiny bit more independent, my hand to hold has been the lowly To Do list.

I start the day by tearing off the last day's calendar page, and on the back of that, I list what I want to accomplish that day.

Pretty standard, right? Sure. Everyone has To Do lists. You use them all the time at work, where there's so much to do on a schedule. I actually think it's MORE important to have To Do list when you don't have such a rigid schedule. Without the To Do list, my day kind of dissolves into an unformed mishmash of whatever is at my fingers that very minute. That COULD be something productive like baby proofing the studio or writing a poem, but it could just as easily be something draining, like 4 hours on a mommy message board, or home decorating show after home decorating show.

On my To Do list I put everything. I put shower, I put dress, I put eat breakfast. Without the list, it is quite possible that I just forget to do that sort of thing. It's easy to get caught up in whatever, and not do the basics. Just as easy as not doing those things you REALLY want to do. Like writing.

Yes, I put my writing goals on there, too. I'm giving myself and my ambitions enough of an importance to make it to my daily To Do list. It's only the thing I've wanted to do with my life since I was 15. It deserves a place on my To Do list, and in my day, right?

I know you can't just say, "Hey I want to be a writer," and not put in the time and effort. The same for anything that's worth doing, really. The same for being a mom. You have to give it the attention it needs. And being a part of a couple, too. Or having a nice home. But those things have a tendency to demand your attention.

The baby doesn't sit back and let you ignore him. And the dishes start to smell if you don't take care of them (so does the kid.) But your own ambitions??? They start to shrink and turn into a hard pebble inside of you, that you can ignore. Yes, you can ignore it, even though it burns a mysterious hole in your gut.

That's the case for me, anyway. Being creative makes me feel productive and it makes me happier, and then I have more energy and attention to give all the other things on my To Do list. And things that aren't on there, too. Things like singing and dancing Gabriel around the living room, or taking a walk with him and running into mommies and babies from the play group. Even having a beer while making dinner after Gabriel goes to sleep.

In other words, having my To Do list has enabled me to start living the life I want to live, instead of just the one that I fall into.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Almost 9 months after having a baby, and I feel like I am finally starting to get back my brain. Maybe just parts of my brain, but atleast it's the parts that are allowing me to be creative again.

I am writing again. It feels near a miracle. I've got this blog, which I am writing in, if not every day, then every couple of days or so. And I am writing outside of the blog, too. I'm writing a non fiction book-- well, I don't know if it's a book, yet. It's more like a cross between research and auto-biography. Okay, that's not quite right. I've been working on this idea of creativity for a long time. I believe that we can find balance in ourselves through creativity. We can get stronger. We can finally learn to speak. We can discover who we are. We can stand up where we used to fold. All this and even more through exploring our creativity.

I want to continue with this idea, but I've been struggling so hard to regain my creativity, my brain, my very identity (who am I? where am I? why am I?) that it's been a long road. But that is the same road that I think a lot of new mothers go down. So in essence, I've been using my own journey as a subject for my creativity book. I've been using the blog to get down some of my ideas, also.

But it's important to me that I also have something fictive going on. I've been writing in my journal for so long, that non fiction almost feels like a given. And the creativity book is like a cross between my journal and all the curriculum planning I did when I was a teacher. Really, all those how to books and self help books are just classes between two covers.

So, for myself, I've got my novel that I am fleshing out. What feels good about that is that the ideas are flowing and I am, well, excited about them. The ideas connect with ideas that I care about in my life. It's not just about a colony landing on another planet, it's also about history, and love, and individuality, and spirituality, and politics, and revolution. It's about sisters, even, and creativity, and passion. (And no, it's not hokey. Well written Science Fiction is just as good as other types of novels. [that is a note to myself and the literary snob imbedded in my brain])

I think one of the things that allowed me to get to this point in being creative again is that I did not put pressure on myself to be perfect and productive.

If I had gone into this period thinking that I could be on the writing schedule I was on when I was at the height of my writing, then I would have defeated myself way before I got here. No. I am not able to write 3 hours straight through. I'm not able to sit in a cafe and paint and write for an afternoon. I can't even seem to get the time to do all the daydreaming I once did to get the juices flowing.

But I can get myself in the head space of being creative: write every day. take the journal to the bathroom and write in it for a few minutes there. jot down some ideas for a novel without expecting any dialogue or a title or even a character to show up. surf the web looking for others who might be going through the same struggle, even though there's been no actual writing. doodle on a To Do list.

Relax if I'm not on a schedule. It's all part of the process. And this is a new world for me. When the baby cries, the writing stops.

Gotta go, baby crying.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


So I have decided to write a novel in 100 days. I found a site that has tips and exercises to help you do it. I’ve got this idea for a novel—not a heavy, high art, post modern, literary novel. And don’t laugh, my brain says that’s what I should be writing. Or maybe it’s not my brain, maybe it’s my insecurity saying if I am not writing “literary” stories I’m a hack.

The reality is I read far more science fiction and fantasy than I do literary stories. Although I am so picky about what I read that I can only bear the very best sf/fantasy, so don’t read very many new writers. If my brain were simply my brain, without all my little-girl insecurities popping up, then I would quite logically be writing science fiction. So I won’t win the Nobel Prize for Literature, but I might have an easier time getting published. I might even be able to have a real career. Plus, I actually am a good writer, and a good writer in genre fiction has a fighting chance. Grrr. Warrior Girl.

However, as you can see, I am still trying to convinve myself that genre writing is worth while. I’m going to choose to ignore that perfectionist, elitist attitude lurking below the surface of my skull, and just have fun.

Hmm. Having fun while writing… it’s been a while since I looked at it like that, let alone did it. I put too much weight on it, unlike when I was a kid and was writing for pure enjoyment.

Ofcourse, in order to finish a big task like a novel, you have to do it more than just for fun, because if you’re focused on the “fun” part, if you aren’t in the mood, or are very busy or stressed or tired, then it’s really easy to say, awww, I’ll do it later, or not tonight, or I don’t feel like it.

Commitment is the key. You have to commit to writing. So I am going to commit to writing this only vaguely imagined novel. I am going to commit even though I said I was going to revise my novel from 10 years ago that I finished the first draft of. I am not throwing away the poor neglected first draft, no. I am just choosing to focus on this one, for now. For 100 days. I am going to commit, right now. In fact, that is the first day task on my 100 days assignment. I am on day 2, actually. And that task is to carve out a specific time for writing.

That’s a tougher prospect for a mother of a baby. I think what I’m going to have to do is get Sean to watch the baby in the morning when he first gets up. I’ll take a shower and dress quickly then, instead of waiting for first nap. That will leave first nap open for writing. Atleast, unless he drops the nap or does some other random thing that mucks up my schedule, like teething or getting sick.

I will also try to force myself to write at night, after the baby goes to sleep. I will try to ignore the “I’m so tired” echoing through my head. Good luck to me.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Mom's Writing Group? (And Dad's too, ofcourse.)

Another mom from my playgroup asked if I knew anything about writing groups, because she wanted to start writing a short story and wanted to find a group.

Ha ha ha. Such a question.

I told her that not only have I taken writing groups, but I also have created them and led them, both for teenagers and for adults.

We started talking about how we would manage to do a writers group with the babies. Moms are too tired to join and be creative at night. How confusing and crazy it would be to do a group with the babies running around. What kind of options would we have? Should we hire a babysitter during the group to watch the babies, but also allow the moms to keep the babies? They could go back and forth between mom and babysitter.

Then I started thinking, new moms have short attention spans and do a lot of multi tasking. They are tired. They don’t have a lot of free time. But they are also dealing with a life that is hugely changing—their identities, their activities, their emotions (thanks hormones). A lot of moms need to have adult company and conversation. A lot of moms need something just for themselves, to remember that they are not just baby feeders. Many moms are also starving to be creative.

A moms writing group would have to consist of short activities. I would definitely be using journals for this. Journals that we could write in during those free spare moments. I would also gear the class towards the individual moms and what their long term goals were. Do they want to keep track of their baby’s babyhood? Do they want to write a novel? Do they want to explore what it means to be a mom? Do they want to write short stories for themselves? to get published? Do they want to write poetry?

It would have to be 15 minute exercises during the sessions, probably in the journals. Each mom would have goals for writing that week. They would photocopy their pages and bring them in for the other moms to read—not during the meeting, but during the next week. There would have to be a limit to how many pages we expect the moms to read during the week. During the meetings, we would comment upon what we read that week. We would also talk about being creative, and the difficulties, solutions, joys.

This is just brainstorming, but I know I should just go ahead and put it together. We could meet in a cafe. We could meet in the park if it was nice. We could even meet in a bar—during the day when it was slow. Many have quiet backrooms. We could meet in my apartment (but then I’d have to seriously babyproof and keep the damn place clean). Shoot, we could meet in a different place every week.

I wonder if I should charge for this. I mean, it’s kind of my business, isn’t it. But then I get all insecure about charging. Despite the degree in creative writing, the degree in teaching, the experience as a professional teacher, the years I have spent creating and leading workshops of all creative manner, the research and writing I have done on the subject of creativity—despite all that, I still feel like I am faking a little, when it comes to asking for money. D’oh!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Push Through

I found my novel. The one I wrote when I was 25-- TEN years ago! I wrote the first draft and then put it away when I decided to become a teacher. Over the course of life and moving and cleaning and all that stuff, I forgot where it was. Thought I might even have let a friend read it-- one who moved to Costa Rica-- so there was a possibility it was disappeared, but yesterday, while cleaning the book case, I found it!

Lately I've been thinking about it, much more so than the novel I had been working on more recently. If the old novel still held my attention, but the new one didn't, I was a little concerned. Maybe the new story wasn't really the one I should be telling. Maybe I should go back to the old-- except I didn't know where it was.

So now that it's been rediscovered, maybe it's time to reread, re-evaluate, re-write.

Guess what's been happening along those lines?

Everytime I sit down at the computer to rewrite the old novel, I get SO-O-O tired.

But I am not that easily fooled. I know the tactics that the brain uses to keep the nice, comfy, safe, status quo. It throws all sorts of obstacles in the way. Those obstacles might be real or they might be made up, it really doesn't matter, the point is that they stop you from doing all that hard work that will get you all the scary things in life that you really, really want.

My mind tells me that I am tired, or have a headache, or have to organize my photos, or clean the sink-- which is when you really know it's my brain trying to mess with me, because there is no way I actually WANT to wash dishes.

That's when you have to push through. I've tried it. It really does work. But what it does take is commitment to that thing. I have to commit to writing, rather than commit to being tired.

In the long run, having written will make me feel better about myself, happier, more energetic, etc, than being tired and zoning in front of the tv. That may be the easier option, but really, it isn't the best.

So next time I sit down to the computer, after whatever long hard day trying to figure out what a non verbal ball of laughs and tears wants, I'm going to push through the "I'm tired" and just do it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I'm going to try something today. Maybe for longer than just today. You see, I spend a lot of my energy and my time saying "no." There are many ways to do this, not just the simple no. There's, "I can't." There's "I don't want to." There's "I don't have the time/energy." There's also, "I don't feel well." I'm sure if I think about it, I can find other ways to say no, considering I've been doing it for so long and am so good at it.

Instead, I am going to say YES. I am going to be open to the possibilities of the world and the word. Instead of backing away out of fear of not being good enough or fear of the unknown, or whatever it is that makes me turn away from life, I am going to say, "okay, sure, why not."

Things open up when you say yes. Possiblities, projects, people, experiences. You. And it takes practice, too, but the more you get used to saying yes, the easier it is to say yes.

Let me be clear: this is not the same yes that is said to people please and over commit. This isn't the flaky yes, where you jump from one thing to the next, without ever committing to any of them. This is the yes of going deep. This is the yes of going down the path that you have chosen. This is the yes of not being frightened by what might come of those choices you have made. This is the yes of the warrior.

Grrrr! Arrgh!

I will face my life with joy. I will attack my challenges with love. I will say "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

Monday, March 13, 2006

Finding Authority

There are a few things I've learned over the last dozen, maybe fifteen years of my life. One of the most important lessons, though, is about authority.

Strange, for me at least, child of counter culture bohemians, but authority is a big deal. I was raised to distrust "the man." "The man" was out to get us. It was us against "the man." I've always had problems with authority because of it. And then add in the fact that, while my dad was railing against the injustices of those in authority, he was also the authority in our house-- and he abused his power.

Authority has always made me uncomfortable. I have always been comfortable living my life in the shadows, out of view of "the man," unnoticed, just messing around with the things I like to do. Tralala lala, I am just a little girl making art and writing, on her own, don't bother with me.

However, it turns out, that you can not hide from authority your whole life, particularly when you have ambitions to do or be anything.

The hardest authority to deal with is your own.

I ran smack dab into my own authority when I started teaching High School. It's funny, really, I went in there, trying to convince my students that I knew what I was talking about... no, not trying to convince, no, I was asking them to give me permission to be the authority in the class.

Now, anyone who's had any dealings with teenagers knows that's not the way to get teenagers to listen to you. The first day of teaching, and instead of the kids worshipping at the altar of my genius, they were trying to convince me that they knew more about teaching, about school, about English, about reading, about kids, more about myself than I did. Day two, and I had to start all over again.

It must've taken me a year or two before I realized that you don't sit around waiting for someone to give you authority, you take it. You ARE it.

Power is one thing. Someone else can give you power-- as a teacher, I had the power to pass or fail kids, the power to give them detention. I didn't have the power to make them do work, or stop talking, or try at something that scared them.

Authority is inside, it's believing in yourself. Authority is putting yourself forward as one who knows, one who creates, one who sets down the rules that keep us secure in our own being. Authority inspires others into action. Authority isn't the scary thing that I thought it was as a girl.

I want to draw on my authority as a writer and artist more. I want to believe that I have a right to be that creator. That I have a right to be read and seen-- that I have something to say that people should know.

It's the same thing. I can't wait for some body else (editor, publisher, dean, boss, boyfriend,)to say, yes, Rowena, you are the authority (writer, teacher, mom, artist, etc.)

Authority comes from inside, from belief in yourself and your skills. Authority is how you take control of your own life. Authority is about authorship. I am the author of my own life.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Woo Hoo!

Here in Brooklyn, it's 63 degrees already, and it's only 10:30 in the morning.

Dare I hope that Spring is here?

It's only early March, and March is a tricky, tricky month-- doling out little bits of Spring and then blanketing the country in icy cold. Maybe. See, we can always hope for the end of Winter, because every once in a while, at least here in New York City, Spring really does start this early. Every once in a while, and that gives us hope.

But, I recognize that it probably won't stick. I will have to ride the rollercoaster of Spring in the city. Just enjoy the highs, and endure the lows.

Actually, I prefer the metaphor of the wave. A lot like life, and learning to ride that wave, you really have to give up control. And it's not just about "enduring" the lows, but about understanding them and accepting them. It's a zen thing, and somehow, it makes me feel like I am closer to life.

I don't know how to surf. I'm such a pale, artsy, city girl-- and if I am in nature, it's more likely the woods that show my character, but I respect the power of the ocean, and the metaphor calls to me.

For instance, sometimes, as a mom, it's just a whirlwind of giggles and songs and dancing and long walks. At other times, and endless stretch of sleepless, cranky crying and yelling (me, not the baby). Sometimes productivity is up, sometimes it devolves into a puddle of couch-potatoness.

But that's okay. It's a part of the process. I don't necessarily believe that those lows are bad, nor should they be eradicated. I'm looking to find the value of the down times. Like sleep is necessary, to recharge the mind and body, to dream. Or like winter is necessary, as a fallow period, life draws back into itself, so that it can be reborn, recharged, renewed.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Bunch of Baby Centered Stuff

Today was a mom day. That was where all my attention went. Into Gabriel, feeding, nursing, napping, laundering his clothes, going to his baby group, playing, laughing, pajamaing... all sorts of baby centered stuff.

Gabriel is learning some new things. He's learning to commando crawl--scooting around on his belly, grabbing at toys and cats and other things that he shouldn't be grabbing. He's trying to stand. He climbs up on my knee, or on his stuffed black panther (who is life sized).

He also did this funny thing when I was feeding him sweetpotatoes. First off, he did the yummy dance-- where he rocks his head back and forth. It's not random, he does it when he likes the food, and it goes along with the song. Sometimes it's the "Banana Dance" song, sometimes it's the "Happy Apple" song, or "Happy Pears", today it was the "Sweet Potato" song. They all have the same tune, and I dance with him. Oh, yeah, and there's the "Yo Baby, Yo Baby, Yo Baby Yo," dance, too. There is no green beans dance, nor is there an avocado dance. I'm working on the vegetables.

Then he was opening his mouth for the spoon, and he said, "OHHHH--MMP", every time the food came. I realized this was the sound I was making so he would open his mouth, and he was copying me.

All right, I'm being goofy, but he hasn't done that stuff before. And he had a new laugh, not his regular laugh, ahee hee hee-- but rather a heheheheh. I'm silly, but it was still cute.

We went to our Babies Group today. We had fun. He commando crawled around and played with his little friends. Playing consists of chewing on eachother's toys, sometimes chewing on eachother's fingers, grabbing noses and toes. He has occassionally kissed another baby on the cheek-- when he was into the kissing. They also spend a lot of time just looking around at the other babies and moms.

I spent some time talking to the other moms (and one dad). We talked about lots of things-- like what they ate, and teeth, sleep habits, crawling. (Also adult things like renting in Williamsburg, babysitters, art studios, and returning, postpartum periods, although we only talked about that one after the dad left.)

I guess I spent a week caught up in my own head, because I was starting to feel as if Gabriel was falling behind. Then I started worrying that maybe something might be wrong with him. I know that he is small, and that he fell off his weight gain, and maybe that's what I was transferring onto other things. Like him not having any teeth, or not being able to get to sitting up on his own, or not being able to put the cheerios in his own mouth.

Turns out I was getting stupid paranoid. It's all normal. Teeth is no biggie, and neither is the other stuff. One of the moms is an occupational therapist, and she knows the milestones. Ofcourse, she might now them a little too well for her own good, since she thinks she is getting a little wound up about everything. So there's a danger in having no information, as well as in having too much info.

It really was a mom day-- in my head as well as in the activities. And that's fine. There is room still for me to take Rowena time and do what I want to do for myself. Maybe I'll take tomorrow as a writing day.

I'm really looking forward to the Spring, when we can go out to the playground and the park. When he is just a little bit older, and a little bit more mobile and independent. It's so strange that Gabriel, and all his friends are getting to be real little people. Soon they'll be old enough to express themselves, to take up activities, to have real friends. I just know that there is going to be a ball team or two. I feel like it's only just getting interesting-- the mommy job, that is.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Making the Bed, Making the Bed

It's a day to mark down in history-- I have made the bed, first thing in the morning EVERY DAY THIS WEEK!

I've swept the floor, I've put away the co-sleeper, I've packed away the recycling. I'm still working on the dishes. But then, the dishes never ever ever end.

See, I am working on it. I am working on my slobbiness. My name is Rowena, I am a slob. Of course, I'm not working on it THAT hard. I wouldn't want to go against my nature. Plus, I found a quote that makes me feel a little bit better about that there slobby nature.

A clean house is a sign of a life misspent.

It's a reminder to me about how I don't need to get down on myself for not keeping the place immaculate. I'm doing better, but the apartment is by no means Martha Stewart ready. I would be happy if it didn't embarrass me when I got deliveries.

With the boy now learning how to crawl, though, I have to step up on some of that slobiness. The dishes can stay where they are, he can't reach them, but I have to get down on the floor and clean it up of all possible choking habits. I really should go through all the book cases and check them out to make sure there aren't baskets of beads or little gewgaws. I'm a collector of little gizmos and fiddle faddle. Little pretty things just fascinating enough and small enough to go into an inquisitive mouth. It's an incentive to clean things up.

And if you've noticed, I've also managed to write in my blog almost everyday for quite a while. I don't think the bed making and the blog writing are coincidental.

I have a life to step back into, man. I've got things to do, places to go, babies to feed.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Off Duty

I am off duty, now. Yes, off duty from even sleeping baby watch. Sean is out with his friends, and he has the boy. We went out to a late lunch/early dinner, and the boy was kind of out of it, compared to his afternoon of commando crawling around the apartment grabbing at toys, cats, faces, and the Sunday Times indiscriminately and laughing gleefully.

Sean said, "he's gonna go to sleep as soon as we put him in the stroller, and then I can walk you and the boy home." The implication being that I would then be on sleeping baby duty and he would be free to go out and tra la la with the guys. I said. "Who said I'm going home?" since this was supposed to be my choice, whether I took off and did something on my own or stayed with they guys.

Truth was, I was already past the small window of opportunity when I had the energy to go out and do something, maybe go into Manhattan and read magazines in Barnes and Noble, my usual exciting solo activity. I really was planning on just going home and crashing or something. Watch tv, surf the web, whatever. Sean probably knew that, but that is all besides the point.

It was my opportunity to have a free evening, and gosh darn it, I was going to take it, and he was going to watch the boy. That's right.

So I left the restaurant before the boy went to sleep, he was still fussing and reaching for Papa. I left them with a bottle of formula, which we've never used a though I have no idea if Gabriel will actually take the stuff. I just left.

To prove myself wrong, I stopped at a couple of boutiques to window shop, got all gushy over non-diaper carrying purses and earrings that I can't wear lest the better part of my earlobe be left in a banana covered baby fist. I also stopped at an art gallery.

Yes, I could do that, since I didn't have a stroller keeping me at the lower end of a steep set of brownstone stairs. I went in and went upstairs, and looked around at the art that looked much more interesting from a distance than it did up close. But that was just me, as I am not much into pop art, and this was covered in images from dirty Japanese animation. The dirty part doesn't bother me. It might be the animation part-- or it might be that my brain has turned into moldy swiss cheese and I just couldn't stand for very long infront of it in contemplation. I did however really like a painting they had in the back room, where they keep past exhibitors. Come to think of it, this was also based in a kind of animation style, but I just liked it better.

I'd like to be painting again. How do I get back into it while fighting the exhaustion, the squished (or swiss) cheese brain, the 15minute attention span, the thirty thousand things I have to do at home, the demanding baby needing tending? Oh, yeah, and the need to keep dangerous little things out of the path of a curious, commando crawling baby with banana covered fists-- when my studio is also his playroom?

Ah, the dilemmas.

At least I get to be off duty for a while.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Zombie Fear

I have always been afraid of zombies. Terrified of them. Now, I don't believe they are real, but in movies, and such, they freak me out. Completely and totally. I start shivering. The first movie I ever walked out of was Return of the Living Dead-- I was ten. That's when I decided on cremation, because I would never want my body to be reanimated into a zombie.

I never quite understood why I was so afraid of Zombies. I generally think when a person is unreasonably afraid of something, there actually is a reason, a bad past with the thing, some sort of subconscious relation, maybe even a past life experience. But zombies?

Recently, I made a connection, though, about the zombie thing. It was a light bulb moment.

The zombie thing is frightening because I am afraid of losing control. Not of other people, but of myself. The idea of being a human one minute, and being an irrational, ravening monster the next, well that is a nightmare to me.

And that does not come out of nowhere. I watched my father go from being my hero, to an irrational, insane, ravening monster, eating everything around him, my easter candy, the biggest steak, our sense of security, his own potential, our futures.

I have always been afraid that I would turn into my father, that I would go crazy, too. It's the reason why I never did drugs, not even experimentally (except for a puff of a doobie every once in a while-- which it turns out, I don't like.) The fear of loss of control is also why I don't drink to excess. I rarely get drunk-- I hate the way it feels, not being able to be in control of my body and mind.

You might say that my zombie fear has been an effective one for me, keeping me off drugs and too much drink, even a good fear-- but it has it's down side. Yes, I can be straight about myself and what I do, I can be my creatively perfectionist self, but I have also kept myself out of the ravening zombie world-- the bigger world where I have no control over what comes at me.

This zombie fear keeps me in a very small world. I am afraid of being out of control, of the big whirl of life. It kept me out of relationships and in unrequited crushes for most of my youth and young adulthood. It keeps me out of showing my art and publishing my writing. I've got to keep things small so I can hold onto them and keep myself safe and understood. Once life gets big, once you add people and demands, once you put yourself out there, you just have to accept what comes back at you-- the love and respect, as well as the demands and expectations and judgments and criticisms.

Is the zombie world going to eat me????

When I look at it this way, it IS frightening. I could shrink back down and hide away in a little hole (which always seems the best way to avoid the zombies in the movies, as long as there is a nice healthy lock and door on that hole, along with ample provisions to survive.) My zombie fear will take over my life.

I don't want to be at the mercy of the zombie fear. So I've got to remember that I am the hero of my own story. I am the warrior, the zombie warrior. I'm not the chick in the movie who is stupid enough to get her brains eaten, I am the survivor. It's my story. I made it up, it doesn't have control over me, I have control over it.

There's even proof. Uh huh. Proof, because if I were still caught up in zombie fear, I never would have been able to find Sean. I never would have been able to let another person in. I never would have gotten out of that safe hole. Now I've got a son, and he grows, and gets older, and I lose more control over him with every new thing that he learns, every development he makes-- and that's a GOOD thing.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The 15 Minute Choo-Choo Train

I ran out of things to say. Hmmph. There's some funkiness with the dates on my site because one day after I posted, I got another idea, and rather than being cocky and thinking that idea would hang out just waiting for me to write it down, I sat down and drafted it. I figured I'd post it the next day, so I did, although it took me a while to figure out how to change the date signature. But then I had another idea, so I sat down and drafted that one too. But by the next day, I couldn't figure out how to change the date signature, and the baby started crying, so I just posted it as it was.

What does that go to show? That I am a tech idiot-- and that's the reason there are no pictures of Gabriel on this site-- and that if you sit down at the computer-- if you show up-- the ideas will show up too. As long as you try.

If you put them off, however, get distracted, do something else, those ideas often dry up, and then you have to start all over again. Which is where I am now. Doh. And here's the baby crying.

Gosh. I really have to learn to utilize those spare 15 minutes to the best of my ability. If you're on a roll, take advantage. Because it takes a lot longer than the next 15 minute window to get that choo choo train of inspiration going again.

I'm going to make a list of topics to write. That's what I used to do when I was teaching poetry. Okay, I didn't use topics, I used strong words, and I had a little pot where I collected all these juicy, strong words, The kids named it "The Witche's Brew of Words". Then the kids would pick a word and write their poems. Sometimes they would pick three or four, and see how they could link them up. It's actually a pretty good exercise, and lets your subconscious work.

I think it would be good to modify that exercise for me. Put ideas and words that have to do with where I am right now into a pot. My Mommy Cauldron. Then when I sit down to write, or draw, I can pull an idea and just riff on that. 15 minutes. No stopping. Write. Write. Write.

There ARE ways to do this, mamacita.

Mommy's coming, Gabriel!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride

That's what my mom always used to say. One of those quaint sayings that I supposed came out of her upbringing on a chicken farm. She also said, "You don't have the sense God gave little chickens." Now, remember, we were children raised as Buddhist in Morningside Heights, New York City. My mom was pretty exotic, among all the Blacks and Latinos, and so were her sayings.

When I was a kid, I never got the whole whishes and horses and beggars thing. I think I understand, now.

Wishes are all about what you don't have. They're all about what is lacking in your life, how it's just not good enough. You can wish and wish and wish all you want, but all wishing alone will bring you is dissatisfaction, which is far worse than nothing.

I'm working now on NOT wishing for things. Like wishing I could go out and drink and hang out and socialize like I used to or I had more time to just write and paint and reflect. Like wishing my apartment were cleaner or I was better at taking care of it. Like wishing Gabriel could be on a schedule so I could organize my life. Like wishing I had more money and could buy all the cool things out there. Like wishing I had taken action on my career earlier, so I had some publications under my belt before I had a baby.

None of those wishes are bad. They might all make my life better, easier, more enjoyable... oh, wait. That's the trap, right there. Thinking that means that my life is worse, harder and not fun. Any life has room for improvement, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it.

What I'm working on is actually CHOOSING the life that I have. This is my life, I don't want to prefer some other life, I want to be satisfied with this one. I want to choose having this life, simply because I choose it. Not because it's better or worse or imperfect or fun or whatever, simply because it's mine, and I choose to live fully in MY LIFE.

Sometimes all those wishes about how my life could be, should be, would be better if only... well, it's as if I am waiting for my life to get going, some day, when it gets all straightened out and I get those wonderful wishes and I fix all that is wrong with it. But I'm living in the future, in the not having, in the should be's- and not the IS of my life.

I guess this means I have to accept myself and my life the way I am. Accept my sloppy apartment, and sloppy tendencies. Accept that I do not have money to spare on luxuries. Accept that Sean works long hours and I am responsible for the baby and the home. Accept that the past is gone, and the only time I have now is RIGHT NOW.

It doesn't mean that I don't work on improving all these things. It doesn't mean I don't do things for my future. But it does mean I let go of not being perfect, or being enough. Life just is. It's mine, and it's what I have to work with. It's also what I have to face up to.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...