Monday, November 12, 2012


I went to yoga with my BFF Melissa on Saturday.  I've read about the studio in Yoga Journal and heard about the teacher from my girlfriend for years.  When Melissa asked the teacher how she was, she responded, "I am just really, really grateful."

It's a quote I want to remember for a number of reasons.  But that is certainly how I feel in this moment, as I look back on my splendid weekend.  Grateful.

Working backwards, I don't even think I knew how grateful I was until I got home.  The kids were so happy to see me, but just generally so happy.  So gorgeous and silly and honest and real.  Eliana looked huge and confident.  She went down the big water slides all by herself at the party!  Even the dark tunnel one!  Her eyes were red from chlorine, her voice extra raspy and tuckered.   How was your trip, mama?  So pure.

Soli and I just kept touching each other.  We're more primal like that.  I read them the new books I found in the funky SF bookstore, Sol and I snuggled in close, hand in hand.  His curls looked longer and thicker, his skin felt extra soft.  And then, just like that, they were asleep.

They did so very fine without me.  Jeffy took care of all the house business and Nana helped with weekend loving and after-school pick up.  So there.  Mama can go away for the weekend.

And what a weekend it was.  We arrived in the city to be greeted by the goddess of love and airports herself, ready to take us wherever our hearts desired.  The stars aligned and I soon found myself walking towards one of my favorite, old college buddies and his fantabulous lady friend.  It was one of those energy bursting moments that set the tone for the night.  We rocked it pretty hard after that.

I am such a true fan of sparkle.  Dave and Liz are total sparkle.  Melis is sparkle too.  And us three homies from Montana weren't too shabby either.  It was rad.

Perhaps one of the raddest bits was the first margarita....wait,  the energy charged reunion...wait, the fabulous Senegalese dinner...wait, when our hot mama server suddenly cleared our table, pushed it aside, and smooth as silk, a sultry DJ in the corner began spinning beats.  And everyone moved from clay pots to loose hips.  As it should be.  Always and always.  I think I'll start clearing the table at home, dimming the lights, and busting Soul II Soul.
Back to life, back to reality.

We rocked that pretty dang hard.  And the evening continued to flow with absolute, meant-to-be, sparkle like perfection.

The next morning I was a bit rough around the edges, but so appreciative of the sunshine, the aforementioned "grateful" greeting at yoga.  The lovely practice had me back in my body in new ways.  I was so dang thankful to just be a student of yoga.  No need to hold everything in my mind, to think of ways to channel that practice into what I teach.  I was just there.  Hoping I wouldn't hurl all over the beautiful floors, the morning's latte a sloshy, lactose-laden poor choice.  But I'm that kinda girl.

One of my favorite life packages are called burritos.  They make them really, really awesome in San Francisco.  And that was next on the list.  Burritos and boutiques, meandering and sunshine, beautiful people, energy charge, little details to soak up everywhere.  Like the security guard who stood outside the burrito joint.  Or the three person mariachi band that wandered in halfway through my carnitas.  Or the joy of watching two of my best girls, one such a huge piece of my past life, one such a huge piece of now, chatting and laughing over beans and salsa together.  As Melissa said, "You know how to pick 'em."  I'll take it.
The weekend continued to move with ease and serendipity.  Our Saturday evening was mellow, tom kha soup and salmon panang, hysterical travel stories and sweet girl time.

I woke up early on Sunday feeling refreshed and ready to make the most of our last day.  I found myself walking down Clement Street, watching as the Chinese shopkeepers stocked their stands with lychee and persimmons, oranges and bok choy.  A man pounded out long strands of noodles, rolled them in sesame seeds and fried them in huge vats of oil.  It was early, but I was ready.  I found myself in line for the early morning treats, cha su bao and shu mai and adzuki bean mochi.  I was in Gillie food heaven.  I loved sharing stories of Japanese school carnivals with Donna Uchimura or dim sum blowouts with Joe Tung.  Coming full circle with the food.

And with the place.  I have a whole bank of formative memories of the Bay area.  The Boho Revolution was meant to be set in San Francisco, as that is where my story began, twenty years ago.  The first time I lived away from home.  Weekends spent driving into adventures set in dusty bookstores, steep, foggy streets, damp woods.  Baggy jeans and corduroy jackets, cruising with such purpose.  We cruised with that sort of purpose on Sunday. On and on through the green wonderland of Golden Gate Park we cruised.  Past roller boogie rockers and baby strollers.   Through every kind of tree, every texture of bark and leaf.

 It's such a magical spot.  Almost other-worldly, this ginormous park that is set in the middle of a huge city.

We walked on.  Past ducks and geese and Barbie's cruising around on remote control toy boats.  We walked towards the sea.

And there she was.  My heart.  Waiting.

The sun was perfect, the sand asking to be lay in, moved on, fully and wholly loved and appreciated.  I felt a lightness on that beach.  Like I really was twenty again.  Fifteen.  Five.  A whole lifetime of memories poured from me.  My seventeen year old birthday when me and my four best buddies went to Santa Barbara for the weekend.  Lay around on the sand and chatted.  Ate burgers and stayed up late being goofballs.  I had that same exact weekend.  There I was, messing around on the sand with my girlfriends.  Talking about where we'd eat next.  Simple, shared delights.

Our adventures continued over hill, over dale.  More ethnic food consumed.  More miles covered.  Another urban bus ride to get us going a bit faster, help us cover ground.  No real plan, no real needs, just moving, appreciating from place to place.

Our final evening was upon us.  How much would we motivate?  How much could we rally?  The fates were on our side again and, when after a series of taxi mishaps we were about to throw in our taco towel, Joellen said something like, "Unless a cab comes by right now, we are going home."  And there was the cab.  And we hopped in.  As it should be.

There is much to trust in the universe.  Trust that your children will thrive when left without you.  Trust that the ocean will be at the end of the line.  Trust that your feet, when put one in front of the other, will lead you to something triumphant and gorgeous and wholly unique.  

So thank you.  I am feeling really, really grateful.  Grateful for history.  For fabulous friends.  For a kind and good husband.  Soft skin and little fingers.  For this huge, wide world filled with people from everywhere.  For colors and smells.  For difference.  For risk.  For trust.  For adventure. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

election night

It's election night and I'm all weird and could stay glued to that little red and blue map.  Eliana kept chanting, "Go blue, go blue!"  She was worried that if Obama lost we'd have to move.  Perhaps she's overheard too many political diatribes from her Drunkel Matt.  I reassured her we'd be right here in our, "rainbow house" (her term...perhaps I did get a bit too crazy with the paint colors...).  What better activity than this bloggy to pass a bit of this knuckle cracky time.

When I was pregnant with Solomon, my girl Kay gave me a beautiful book about Barack Obama.  She wrote a note to, "Little Man Kessler" in the front cover.  He didn't even have a name yet.  I read it to my classes today and each time was so moved by his story.  That President Obama, too, was once just a little man who was taking in his world. And, later, this smart, kind, hard-working, driven man who, in trying to find his place in the world, found the path of helping others.  The kids wrote about the changes they would make if they were president.  They were so pure.  So passionate.  So thoughtful.  They were all, from age seven to age fourteen, totally into the assignment.  It filled me with the hope that themes the book, that themes what this man has tried to do.  Hope is good.

I gave a similar writing prompt four years ago.  My, my how time moves quickly!  Only one of my kiddos, now in middles school, commented, "Didn't we do this before?"  Most of them had me when they were younger as well. It felt so good to remind her of how much she's changed in four years and that her hopes and dreams may have shifted as well.  And, if they haven't, it never hurts to actualize your dreams more than once and know that the powerful ones live in us forever.

I'm having lots of old dreams come my way these days.  I think life is circling back.  Maybe it's some cosmic thing.  I remember everyone telling me about my Saturn Returns when I hit the end of my twenties.  In the blink of an eye here I am, hitting the end of my thirties.  I feel some super shifting, some super circles.  I have to set up a date with a friend who knows about this sort of thing.  I'm totally intrigued.

I wrote about it a bit the other morning, after my Dia de los Muertos early morning hike for Brandon. I find myself thinking about my early twenties a ton.  Wanting to listen to Tori Amos again and feel her feminist passion, her dreamy, freaky soul.  I want to light candles and stretch and create sacred space for myself.  I'm reading a ton of poetry, books I haven't pulled from the shelf in over a decade.  So much of the past few years has been about navigating my space with two new little souls.  I think I'm integrating (thanks, Melis, for that term).  It feels awesome and very, very right.

This weekend I'm going to San Francisco with two of my best girlfriends.  Alone on a plane not for work, or family, but for me.  I'm all dreamy just thinking about it.  My girl Melis will pick us up from the airport, my girl who was a key player in the me of my twenties and keeps hearing me talk about what I've termed my, Boho Revolution.  I'm ready to meander into a bookstore and lurk and linger without a thought of the time, of what comes next.  I'll walk and walk and walk and check out whatever looks fabulous or fascinating and then walk some more.  And don't get me thinking about the food.  I literally got up out of bed last night and read menus for Mexican, for Spanish tapas, for Burmese, for dim sum, in the freaking dark.  Then I got so hungry I had to make toast and pretend it was flan or a samosa. 

So yay for San Francisco. 

Another funny thing about the Boho Revolution is the people that I've been reconnecting with, a few who I hope to see this weekend.  An old boyfriend who I haven't seen or heard from in forever called me the other night.  It was so out-of-the-blue. But it didn't feel weird at all.  Because Vince was a key figure in my earlier revolution.  When I was super in touch with my creativity, with my demons, with theatre and words, listening to music to hear each and every lyric, exploring and theorizing and writing.  I started talking about how I've been seeing my life as a timeline.  And how certain people would get their names written in bright bold colors for how they influenced me.  Brandon's death is what started the timeline theory.  But all sorts of signs seem to pointing me back lately.  The circling. 

I feel the circling in my marriage.  That Jeff and I are in love like we used to be.  When I look at him I see the kind, amber of his eyes, I see how well we fit.  I look around our rainbow house and see how each artifact, each piece of art, each photograph or child made craft, represents part of our history.  Our living timeline.  It's so vibrant and rich and alive.  I need to remember to think of it that way tomorrow when I come in from work, exhausted, and my children have unearthed every last piece of crap out of every last drawer and corner.  And the sink is full of dishes.  And Jeff's boxers are on the bathroom floor.  Remember the soul of the rainbow house, Gil.  Remember.  Everyone will like me better this way.  Especially me.

Like, when I was twenty, I don't remember really caring if the house was a disaster.  I don't remember fretting about getting laundry done or what I'd cook for dinner.  If there wasn't bread, I didn't have to go to the store right away.  I certainly didn't wipe down the counters a whole lot or vacuum during my lunch break (yes, I did this just yesterday).  What the heck?  I mean, I do need to feed my children, but nobody but me gives a hoot if the rug is covered in little fall leaf bits, blown in from my crunchy leaf jumping children. I don't want to go too into housekeeping but, really, I need to chillax on this one a bit.  Boho Revolution, baby. 

Speaking of the revolution, this Halloween, I wanted to just hunker with my homies.  My job is so beautifully social that at the end of the day, I don't always feel like being around a whole lot of people beyond my little freaks and their hot daddy.  So after a visit to see Poppy (who was all decked for the occasion and eating dinner in his boxers), and much needed burritos, we hit our little rainbow hood. 

The kids are at supremely cute trick-or-treat age.  They would literally run from house to house, hand in hand, and stand, expectantly on doorstops, knocking and eager.  What an amazingly cool holiday for kids.  I think dress up is the A, number one, favorite activity for them followed, or perhaps preceded, by eating candy.  Little person perfection. 

So we walked up and down Jackson Street until it was time to stumble home.  They dumped their buckets on the kitchen floor like I so clearly remember doing when I was a kiddo. They aren't exactly candy experts yet, so they didn't really know what was what but I think just the sheer display of wrappers, of colors, of shapes and sizes, was wholly satisfying for my two little sugar hounds. 

We made it through the night without any major meltdowns and Jeff and I happily closed the door on that big day with a satisfied sigh of relief. 

And then I stopped on Halloween to check the election results.  And now I'm crying.  Because we can stay with hope.  We can stay with revolution.  We can continue to move forward.  Yes we can. 

day of the dead

This is when I could use more than half an hour before I have to be at work.  When I'd love to sit and write and process and drink coffee and listen to music.  After an early morning hike towards the sacred tree, darkness everywhere, fog settled like memory, Brandon singing me through memories -  Azure's candy eyes and my Hilary who never cries, sobbing on the highway.  I have a new appreciation of this day, this Day of the Dead, this celebration of those we loved, their legacy.  I was all over the place this morning.  On the stage jumping high with jazz hands, my alto harmony doing her darndest to chant, "Think about your life, Pippin, ah, ah, your life....". I remember how pure that felt.  Like that was the absolute best moment there'd ever be.  Watching you in your white hat and sparkles, waiting for Anna to sing about the angel of the morning that's calling out your name.  I was thinking about that angel of the morning this morning.  That ultimate act.  Today you're my angel of the morning.

Then I was up in your room, watching Hilary spin while you sang, me stretching, smiling, taking in the act that was the two of you.  This was our life then.  Days of music and movement.  Responsibility an afterthought.  Papers to write or books to read and then, later, little people to teach, dances to choreograph, plays to direct.  But it all came back to this.  This creativity.  These long days that morphed into the next.  Loud music and deep thoughts.  We were constantly giving ourselves space to create, to celebrate, to be. 

When did that become a luxury?  Why would that ever become hard?

That's the revolution I'm trying to reconstruct.  That creativity is and must be a daily act.  Personal, professional, from what colors I chose to wear to how much time I give myself to write, to carefully listen to at least one song, to play with my children, to love on my husband, to enjoy every moment of teaching little people, to see the light and color of the sky, to breathe clean air.

 I'm super excited.