Saturday, April 26, 2014

for Soli at almost four

Up Like the Grass

The sky is streaked with springtime, white peaks and gray clouds,
green finds the hills, sun and geese and the way you say peregrine falcon
so all knowing though really, your favorite is the American badger,
always insist on the full name and inside the naturalist center we
surprise you with a still one, your instinct to pet her fur, before I
hold back your hand.  You say she's so soft, like she's real,
pick up the horn of a sheep, help rebuild the home of ground squirrels,
wander reckless, because you've always been so of the earth.  At almost four,
you jump over stones, race off the path, fixate, then fly, fixate, then fly,
your world, your earth, your world, your sister, your den, your nest. 
How one early May Monday, I came home from work, made dinner, took a bath, 
and found you new, in my arms by bedtime, the passage of your strong shoulders,
how quickly you found us, burrowed in,
just pushed your way up like the balsam root, up like the grass. 


Thursday, April 24, 2014

sharing your story

I lie in the dark on my performance high.  I'm exhausted but not ready to let go, just floored by the sheer power of performance.  Of words.  Of story and truth and how connected we all really are.  Tonight I stood in front of a room full of people and spoke into a microphone.  The stage lights made it so that faces were obscured, just my voice, my truth, loud through the amplifier.  My inner theatre major re-found her voice and I pulsed through each piece of my poem.  I was the chola locker neighbor with the Aqua Net, I was in seventh grade again applying concealer to my bottom lip, I was in a dark room listening to The Smiths.  I let loose and told truths and dug deep tonight.  It's been twenty six years in the making.  And still, even here, I won't elaborate on theme, won't publish what I read tonight for a crowd.

Oh the muscles to choose to share my story.
Oh the muscles found to commit.
The soul grounded strut away from the podium.
The yes. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014


I've been dwelling in my inner-introvert since my post birthday re-entry.  It took a week or so for me to get all my mama-ing, teaching, meal-planning, cleaning, homework facilitating and general dealing muscles back into gear.  No joke, these jobs.  Real stuff.  Hardcore.  Since my return, I've spent every night post 8:15 in my bed, reading a book, watching a movie, general quiet.  I can barely remember the weekend but that it was a splendid mellow of closet cleaning and laundry, of, "Frozen" songs and muffin baking. 

It's amazing how much I built up my birthday trip.  How long I thought about where to go.  How much energy my little mind put into thinking out different plans, dreaming big, something so all about me.  And then, at the end of the day, it's just so dang nice to be back in my normal life.  To put my children to bed.  To hold Soli when he says, "Mama?  Can you lay with me?"  To listen to Eliana tell me about all her big Easter plans, how she hopes to wake up early and gather a bouquet of flowers for the house, before she decorates more eggs.  I'm not sure if she realizes that, alas, in Montana the flowers do not bloom by Easter.  Ever the optimist, my girl. 

She is now without either front tooth and just seems to be changing by the minute.  She performed this song and dance at school the other day, and got herself all gussied up in her international best for the occasion.  She was rad.  All full arm movements and loud singing, all confidence and gorgeous smile.  Happy tears indeed.  And a forgiveness of myself that I don't drive her to ballet/gymnastics/theatre/singing after-school.  Homegirl is doing just swell.

And then there's Mr. Beans.  Mr. Beans turns four in two weeks.  His mind is working overtime, putting new phrases together in Spanish, coming home with all sorts of random facts.  He's obsessed with these plastic animal figurines and plays all sorts of mysterious games with them.  Tonight he pointed out the penis on his plastic bison animal.  Like a true naturalist he stated, "Mama.  This is the American bison's penis."  I said, "Wow!  Soli!  I didn't know that your bison had a penis."  He said, "Not my bison, the American bison."  Alrighty then. 

So I have a scientist.  I have a performer.  For now, I'm happy to let them take the lead, do the talking, make the plans.  My inner-introvert is more than content to be home, the two of them in the room next door, the American bison and his penis happily asleep beneath Soli's pillow. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Phew.  I just read that earthquake/LA poem.  I guess I was feeling pretty shaky about leaving the kids.  The irony is that apparently there was an earthquake a few hours before we arrived.  So I was having my own little internal earthquake, the earth was doing her thing and, alas, we are all safe and sound. 

My trip was pretty tremendous.  There was a lot of love and fun packed into a week, a lot of laughter and old friends, a lot of sunshine and long walks.  There was the sparkle of California coastline and tacos and tequila.  There was exploration that I've dreamed of doing for years -- Ojai, Santa Ynez, the mountains above Santa Barbara. 

The thing that strikes me the most as I look at all these pictures is just how much we all needed that sort of down time.  Even the mamas with babes were breaking from their normal routine, seeking adventure and togetherness.  I'm beyond amazed that so many of us made it.  My gratitude overflows for these women and how I feel when I am with them. 

Sadly, the group could only hold strong for a day or two.  By day four, it was just me and Sarm waving the adventure flag above the sea.  We stayed with my oldest friend, Meg, and her sweet family in Santa Ynez.  Our little Sideways adventure was so grounding and so easy.  There is this tremendous comfort that is old friends.  Thanks, guys. 

By Wednesday my need to take a really long hike took over.  Sarmeesha poured over websites and we finally found what looked to be the one.  It overlooked the ocean.  We would bag a little So. Cal peak.  We were all in. 

And even though we didn't find the hike we'd read about, what we discovered was equally alluring. 

And then our adventure took a bit of a turn.  I pieced together some journal bits for my poetry class this week about that big bummer of a surprise.

Shards of Glass So Green and Shiny In the Sunlight

There are moments you just can’t really begin to write
about, the peace of an old friend’s home, the soft and
fast rain,  faint hint of lilac,  
an old oak and the lean white legs of eucalyptus,
then hours up a trail of dusty earth, wild
fennel and sage, the rough and intrusive fingers
of chaparral.   I walk and walk, hide in sand carved caves,
move like an anemone through mossy oak groves, open
and unexpected until the trail
reaches above the sea, a gaping breath, and I’m afraid to
look down,
sometimes it’s all too much to take in,
as down below, a man,
I always assume so,
shatters both windows,  grabs the bags, cash you earned and saved
for that precious bite of Unagi, Hamachi flown in from Japan,
when all you need is right here, here where sand pelts my face,
sticks to my lips,
each little spot of bone and ash,
a seagull’s brittle skeleton,
fills my ears and eyes while green wash
pulses and pounds .
I really can’t believe it,
the duress and serenity of her gray wings and still body, the white
crests of foam, the break and break and break.

So, yeah, after our triumphant walk, after the last high fives, we walked into a pool of green glass, both our purses stollen from the backseat, two windows shattered.  From there it was a police report and then the numbed drive back into Solvang where we walked arm in arm through the Farmer's Market, bought flowers for Meg, told the olive guy the story.  Stranger's sympathy inspired another telling of the tale, this time the bar owner sending us on our way with a complimentary bottle of wine.  And then, while looking for the sushi joint to drown our sorrows, we saw the "sign" the OPEN of the local garage, even at seven in the evening.  Josh, the kind shop owner, warmly measured the window holes, cut cardboard with his exacto knife, sturdily taped things together.  And then the bottle of wine went to him, to bring to his wife since he'd stayed at work so late. 

So the universe is kind and bad things happen to good people but then good people show up to prove them wrong.  We managed to move through this frustration with some perspective and grace.  That said, I will never hoard cash in my underwear drawer again for a trip.  Sometimes I think I have too much expectation.  Or maybe there's no metaphor at all and I just lost my street edge, forgot that you don't lock your purse in the car in LA.  Even when in the mountains, at a trailhead.  Goodness. 

So after the debacle, I was pretty happy to pull back up in Pasadena.  My dad was an absolute gem about it all (it was, after all, his car and, of course, the damage was less than my deductible).  Note to self:  never, ever get mad at your kids for an accident and always, always, be happy they are safe and sound.  Dad made me cry happy tears with his kindness. 

And then there is Hilary.  And Mazzy.  And their little home.  And my mom and her big thoughts and blue eyes.  There was Hollywood on the train and Broadway's best at the Pantages.  There was ripped tee shirts and jean shorts and some hot moves on the dance floor to Erasure.  There was my family dancing with me, laughing as Hilary and I dug deep to produce instant choreography, the years of dancing together imprinted on our brains forever. 

Just like my man Rob Base stated, oh so eloquently, "Joy and pain, like sunshine and rain..." 

And we had it all. 

And then I got to return home to my babies.  And lie next to them while they slept, my midnight flight not allowing me to see them until Sunday morning.  And then I heard their little pit pats and kissed their sweet cheeks and breathed in every ounce of them and felt so darn blessed by it all.