Thursday, July 26, 2007

Yesterday I called an old friend

who I hadn’t seen in two and a half years. There was no answer, but today, she called me back. Woohoo!

The sad fact is, I don’t have a life outside of my children. Since I got pregnant with my second, I barely even have a community of other mothers, since I got all hermity and antisocial. Some people might just have “nested,” but I, with my natural tendencies, crawled into my little hidey hole and turned out the lights.

Now, almost 5 months post partum, if I am actually calling people, then something has changed.

I was so glad that we reconnected. In those two and a half years, I’ve had my two kids and she left for Oakland, but thankfully came back. She was in school for massage therapy. I think that’s great. We were waitresses together many years ago, and worked in many different restaurants together, then I started teaching and our different schedules got in the way and we kind of fell apart. I’ve missed her. I know our lives have changed directions and we live in different neighborhoods and I have a hard time getting around, and we both have things that require our attention, but I would like to be friends again. Good friends, too. Not just friends who keep saying they should get together but never do.

She said we should get together next week, and I said, yes we should. Let’s make plans. So she’s coming here on Wednesday, and we can have lunch on the deck. See, I set my deck up so that I could have people over. Now I can invite people and be social, again. Maybe not huge parties and bunches of people—that still stresses me out to no end, but one or two people? I think I can handle that.

When I first got pregnant I stopped creating and stopped going out and kind of became someone else. A friend of mine told me not to worry, it would come back, and it did, after G, until I got pregnant again. Then the ‘me’ went away again. Now that I is starting to get older and starting to take solids (I fed her rice cereal for the first time today!) maybe, just maybe, I can start getting back to my life again. You have no idea how relieved I am.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ai, Ai, Ai!!!

1pm and I’m still in my pajamas.

I thought the day and my schedule in the day was on the right track. Kids dressed and fed, some dishes done, baby down for first nap, boy watching Max and Ruby while I put her down, waiting for his own nap… then something took a little longer than expected and I didn’t take the opportunity to put G down for his nap after Max and Ruby, and then he wanted something to eat, and so did I so his nap was delayed, and then the baby woke up screaming although I knew she was still tired and I had to burp her and feed her and put her back to sleep and the boy ended up changing the channel (I don’t know how) to some cartoon movie and he started getting more wired and playing with the baby’s toes, and then I got the baby to stop crying and close her eyes and I put the baby down again and got G into his room, changed him, as he kicked all the while I dressed him, then laid him down for his nap so that he could get up at a decent hour and we could go play with his buddies in the playground, and as soon as he was down, the baby started crying again, needing to be fed and burped and rocked to sleep again because I know at this point she is just overtired and crying because she can’t get to sleep and now finally they’re both down but I am starving and know I should take a shower, but don’t know which to do first, because I’m really hungry and want to make some lunch, but if someone wakes up I won’t be able to take a shower but might still be able to eat, although it will just be a grab and snack not what I want to cook, and my mind is whirling, partly from the hunger and too much coffee and I wanted to get my head straightened out but my head isn’t straight because I don’t think I’ve taken a breath!


And yet, I still feel like I have done nothing today. The days just slip by and this is partly why.

And I am still not dressed.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Alice in Wonderland Spread: My White Rabbits

I let G help me on this spread. He’s the guest artist, then I added a footprint from Ivy and a handprint from G.

I think I am trying to figure out my new identity WITH my children. WITHOUT ignoring my self.

There's a new park in the neighborhood

One of the good things about gentrification, I suppose, is they’ve got to improve the neighborhood services. So, while they’re building skyscraper condos on the waterfront, they are also opening a new park by the river.

It ain’t fancy. It’s a lawn, that’s about it. And a cobble stone road for the maintenance guys who seemed to drive back and forth every fifteen minutes. And there was a cement expanse, like a parking lot, but without cars, where you could set up a barbecue and grill some dogs, I suppose. There was also a flock of geese which G loved, thought I could have done without the goose poop.

But the most glorious part of the new little park, the view. You can’t get much better than that, really.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Perils of Being a Martha Stewart Wannabe

The Monkey and I are hanging out at home this morning, and Martha is on the tv making loads and loads of delicious looking berry pies and tarts.

The problem with this?

Monkey is moaning and crying for pie. Maybe it’s berries. Definitely he wants Martha’s desserts. He keeps pointing at the screen and then pointing at his belly. Plums won’t do. Grapes won’t do. Cheerios won’t do. He wants pie.

I tell him, “Monkey, we don’t have pie. We don’t have blueberries. We can try to get some when we go out this afternoon,” but he is unappeased.

Ohhhhh! Woe! Moooommmm! MMMMMMM! Ohhhhh! Oh woe.

P.S. Fig Newtons do appease. I guess the commercials are correct. It is fruit and cake.

Monday, July 16, 2007

My Novel is Slow Going-- But What'cha Gonna Do?

I’ve been noticing that my main character—the one that I initially thought of when I started writing is the worst character. Her scenes are the sketchiest, her personality the flattest, her motivations the most forced. However, her two sisters, who are the other two main characters, have caught my inspiration more and more. I was thinking about dropping the middle sister, but she is necessary to further the action of the story. She’s a catalyst.

I think the reason why she is the most boring is because she is the character who is most closely based on myself. I mean, all characters are partly the author, but this is the one who is the “me,” and I think because of that, she becomes a cipher. I can’t see her from the outside, so I just can’t really see her at all. It’s something my writing has suffered from before, not a new problem at all. The other issue I’ve had in my writing is writing “around” the heart of the matter, and then when I get to the real rough stuff—the pain, the meat, the moment—I rush right through it.

Writing brings up so many of your personal issues. Anyone who has ever said writing is easy either has never written, or is rather oblivious to their own psychology. When I was a kid, writing was easy. The ignorant are blessed in this situation.

But now I know my problems, and I can see my character who isn’t there. I’m hoping that as I read the rest of the novel, she will become clearer to me… I seem to remember that her character made a lot more sense to me as I wrote the novel. It’s just been so long since I wrote it, and I wrote it so quickly that I don’t remember her, I just remember a vague sense of plot.


The only hope for my troubles is a straight forward one—


Friday, July 13, 2007

Ivy Update

I feel like G often gets more of the attention, more of the updates, more of the photos. He's up to more stuff, so it's easier to focus on him than it is to focus on Ivy, who is still a baby and not into so many things.

But Ivy is indeed doing things. New things. Big things. Well, big baby things.

She is laughing. That's a lot of fun. When they start reacting like a real person to what you are doing. It's fun to try to make the baby laugh. Luckily, she's pretty ticklish. Under the chin and cheeks. On her belly, her sides, her back. The feet. Tickly little chubby baby.

Yes, she's a little chubby now, which is a relief after the scare with her not gaining weight. Now she has apple cheeks and a round belly and chunky turkey thighs.
Ivy is also starting to sit up without being held up. I mean, she's still not very stable, but she is sitting up. And she likes to try to sit up from laying down, exercising those little abs.
She's rolling over from back to front-- which means no more leaving her on the sofa while I go get her a bottle. Closely tied to this, she's scooting around in her co-sleeper. I lay her down in one direction, and when I went in to check on her, she was in the complete other direction. Wiggly babies must be watched more closely.
She is also grabbing stuff, now. Stuff like toys. She loves to hug Gabriel's old little blankie with a dog head that Patty gave us. He was ignoring it. She likes to hold on to it and chew on its head. And she also showed delight when I showed her my old Holly Hobby doll that I got when I was three years old. Instant love for Holly Dolly. Girls are different from boys, it's so weird.

And now that we have finally gotten our double stroller, Ivy and Gabriel both love to sit in it and go adventuring to see what they can see. I know Ivy loves to watch the world go by, because when I put her in the position where she can't see anything (the one for infants and sleeping babies) she screams her little head off!

Okay. That's the end of the update.

Oh yeah, and she's Gee-orgeous!

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I thought I smelled cut grass.

Now, there are no lawns in the near neighborhood. There’s an expressway. There are many construction sites, but lawn??? Not so much.

After the first whiff, I wondered if perhaps there was some mysterious poisonous gas that would kill us all, starting with the babies. But I’d never heard of poisonous gas smelling like fresh cut grass. Then I wondered if my new downstairs neighbor had miraculously turned what once was a dark and dingy well of a tiny backyard full of buggy weeds into a lawn… I didn’t think so, but I had to check. So I went out to my deck to see.

Her little back courtyard is no longer full of weeds. It’s a cute and shady spot for barbecues and reading the sunday paper and maybe even planting some shade loving flowers. So cute. But no grass.

But by then, I had forgotten about the grass smell and thought I would do something about my deck. It’s so disheveled. So I did. I rearranged the chairs and grill and tables and various pots of weeds, black earth, random flowers and herbs into a more pleasing layout. I left a corner bare so that we can set up a wading pool for the little guys. Maybe I can even invite some moms and toddlers over for a dip and lemonade (spiked with tequila for the moms, maybe.)

The deck is not done. It’s still rag taggle eclectic—which I don’t mind. A kind of Brooklyn deck via English garden and sidewalk scavenge. But I think there is some kind of order now to the mish mosh of pots and chairs and interesting finds.

I might stop by the hardware store, where they have opened up a little garden store in the backyard, and buy a couple pots of something bright and colorful. I’m thinking some green and pink coleus.

Maybe I actually can have a pleasant and relaxing deck this summer… not some day off in the future.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

White Rabbits

Today, I worked on my altered book. It’s Alice in Wonderland. I’m in a place of wondering where my white rabbit is… that thing I follow to find my path. It’s funny, because that question, that journey was asked many years ago, when I started this altered book, before kids. In the intervening years, having my two kids, I fell off the altered book thing, and art in general, but when I opened up the old book to continue it where I left off, I found that I am indeed still looking for that white rabbit.

Doing my last entry, or perhaps contemplating it, I realized that my white rabbit on this adventure (called my life) is actually my children.

It’s still weird sometimes to say “my children.” Some how, the idea that I have children is foreign. Not me, I’m the artsy girl who reads books and writes. But now I’m something more. I’m mommy.

I don’t really know what that means yet, maybe. Not what it means to my self, or what it means to my life, but there is no denying that it is and will continue to be a huge part of my life.

So here they are, my little white rabbits. For my page in my altered book, I had G draw/scribble on the gessoed page. I gave him the same colors as I did in the previous page, so there will be a link. I think I will have the Bean put her footprint on the page, too. And then I will write something—I don’t know what yet. It will be inspired by what my children have done.

My children. Huh.

Stop talking about how you don't create and start creating

Here is a 60 second poem. Wait. I will go set the timer.


Mind empty of life, no cluttered with life
and growing
plants and cats and babies running around and demanding
no wait.
full of me
growing myself
inside myself
making babies making life
making me
I think.
And waking
to who I am.

There. I did it. One poem. Top of my head in one minute. I went back and gave it a title after the timer went off.

I make no apologies for my poem. I refuse to call it names, the way I want to, because the goal was to create, and I did. And I am not perfect, and neither are you.

If ever you get stuck in a dry spell, this is a good excercise. No time to plan, no time to pick the ‘perfect’ word or agonize over meter or meaning. No time to let the I-SUCKS take over. And because it’s just a tossed off little minute poem, the stakes are really really low, so you can just get on with the business of laying one word down after the next. I used to do this on the way to work between stops on the subway train. I also did this with my students—not just with poetry, but also with drawing. For some reason, setting a timer and saying “Go!” “Stop!” makes things more fun. And they often came up with poems or sketches that were so much more lively than the ones they labor over.

Monday, July 09, 2007

How to Balance Mom-ness and Me-ness

Maybe I should turn off the tv more often.

Maybe I should be creative WITH my children, even though they are very very young and it would be a challenge.

Maybe I should spend less time browsing unproductively on the internet.

Maybe I should get enough sleep and maybe even take naps so I am not so goshdarned tired whenever the little guys are sleeping.

Maybe I should stop giving into the excuse of how tired I am.

Maybe I should just pick up my work and get at it, instead of thinking of a million other things I should be doing and not doing them either.

Maybe I should lower my expectations about the other things I should be doing.

Maybe I should really BE with my kids when they are awake, and really BE with my creativity when they are asleep.

And right now, I hear someone waking up from his nap.

hasta la pasta.

A First

We went for pizza at our neighborhood pub, a regular Sunday afternoon thing, but today, the Monkey Man walked all the way home! No stroller, no carrying. He walked home.

What an adventure.

The same walk as usual, but being under his own power, using his own two little feet made it such the different experience for him. Of course he dawdled. He was exploring things that he only saw before while strapped in to his stroller and rolling by at mama and papa pace.

I think he particularly enjoyed passing the graffiti mural. He never gets to look at it up close. Sometimes I stop the stroller and try to take a picture of him in front of it, but that always annoys him, for some reason. Today, he got to run right up to the wall and see the murals up close. He loved it.

All the way home, he loved it.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Altered Plans

I originally wanted to do my altered book project with an Alice in Wonderland book that I b had started altering many years ago, before children, but I couldn’t ind it, so I thought I’d do a Dr Suess book. Then I found the Alice book and incorporated it into my Suess. Now I want to use both. They are both appropriate. And I really believe I had no idea what a rabbit hole I was about to fall into when I started that book… it was right before I got pregnant.

Now I’m fully in this wacky wonderland, so I’m back to my Alice book.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Birthday Boy

Monkey Man is two years old, and we did not plan a birthday party for him. It was too much for me. Instead, we planned to take him to a performance of a kids’ band and barbecue at a neighborhood bar. That didn’t work out.

After a tense moment or two with Papa, I decided to just let go. We let the Monkey choose the direction we went. He pointed in the direction of the Giglio Feast, something we usually avoid because it’s noisy and loud and crowded and once you’ve been to one feast/carnival/street fair you’ve been to them all, right?

Well, not for a two year old. He loved the smells and colors and sounds and bright stuffed animals hanging from the trailers and crazy rides. We bought him a toy plane and firetruck, which he picked out on his own. We kept walking, then started looking for a place to eat, which was difficult, since we were between brunch and dinner, but we stepped up our pace when Monkey said, “I’m hungry,” for the first time. He doesn’t talk a lot, and sometimes we worry, although we know he has the words and understands everything. He just doesn’t want to talk, it seems.

We ended up going a different direction than we normally do, sat at a sidewalk table and soaked up the ambiance… part of which was a street fair down the block and the band that was playing at said street fair. Fun, actually. And Monkey loved it. He danced, he made new friends. He strutted around. He fell and skinned his lip.

But he had a blast.

So much better, I think, than if we’d had a party at home. Or if we’d gone to that kid’s band. I certainly had a better time, particularly when I got over my annoyance at my ruined plans.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

ack! ack! ack!

How do I edit a novel when my brain is made of mushy pancakes and my time is taken up by pancake-refusing toddlers and babies who spit up a substance that is suspiciously like pancake batter?

I honestly do not know if it possible. I am reading through the book. I’m up about a hundred pages, but even that is very difficult. I sneak in a few minutes here and there. But I’m so tired on a general basis that I don’t have the get up and go to really tackle it. I think.

Is that just an excuse? Could I still do it? Do I need to take myself and my book more seriously?

I am suspicious that I can do it. Maybe not in a month, but maybe I need to let go of the story that I am soooooo tired. It’s hard, since I really am, but does it need to be the excuse for not being who I really want to be?

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