It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything. I am just going to post something. Anything. Since I last wrote here, on this blog, which I do not have a lot of affection for, we have left Davis, had another baby girl, another underwater sonic unattended tree top birth. We backpacked up and down the Sierras. Camped too. Drove to Washington and back. Acquired a puppy. And purchased a tipi. I’m sure more has happened too.
We now live in a tent while we wait for our tipi to arrive. Already, the poles have been skinned, sanded, oiled, and on the hill top, hot hilltop at the end of the olive tree line, they stand, pointing in 17 directions. I think it was 17. I can’t remember now. Two are still down, waiting for our attentions.
But, the hill top is illegal for our residing. So we must either build a fort of hay bales, hops, jasmine and bamboo around us, to shield us from passersby, so as not to incur the wrath of the county. Or, our co-community members. Never been in a community with so much wrath. Intentional wrath. But we all love each other still. Going mad, dropping out, setting sail for north, perhaps.
My children are wonderful beings. The dog too. He came from the north. Was discovered by a co-community member at the flea market. He took him here, to this valley, wolf hybrid trailing behind him wherever he went. Then, said, nope. Can’t take care of a shadow. I said, I can. Three shadows following me across the wood chips. Now, I have four.
And that’s how we got here. sort of. Not up to the hill, though. That’s another story, involving illegal substance ingestion by canine companions, and emergency vet visitations on the one night, only night, that Dylan and I have ever set up babysitting since the birth of Tuli Llew… Another story too.
In a few days, Dylan and I will have been together for ten years. Starlight riding on a nighttime train. Still kissing in the rain.
I feel like I should post because I haven’t in a long time, and because when I look at this “Journal” I don’t want the last post staring me at the face to be the one about my dog dying. I’ll keep it short. Or better yet, just give you a bunch of pictures to look at. Nobody likes to read on-line anyways. At least I don’t. I don’t really like to write on-line either. I just do it because well, sometimes it feels like the way to connect to people, just like going into the kitchen after midnight when I’m not hungry feels like the way to make really great work.I guess I shouldn’t judge either processes, but, there are better ways I’m sure. I mean, it’s all about process, right? That’s why I’m going to see The Hotdogger Wednesday night for his corn dog crud (which we’re so grateful for). That’s why we wash our clothes in our used bath water with Dr. Bonner’s (a little extreme and laborious, I know). Because how we live our lives can expand that space of light and inspiration that we find in moments unmarred by time. I’m still working on my vision.
Here’s a picture of our last performance in our house.
Cute baby, huh. Our neighbor’s. That’s Angela and Kori before the camera. I’m across the table from Dylan performing Storyteller with Sora asleep over my shoulder. She nursed part of the performance, kind of like the last one we did for the opening of the Human Trafficking conference. I think I wrote about it somewhere on this site: wearing her on my back; sitting cross legged on stage with mic in one hand nursing Sora on my lap. I am often just outside of the frame.
Here is a picture of the documentation of the performance.
Here’s a picture of the girls over Christmas.
Here’s a picture of me: ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
My dog is gone. I don’t know how to write about this. My dog is gone.
She died Saturday night, March 6th, 2010, around 10 p.m., while the kids were sleeping.
I can’t write about this. I couldn’t bury her. I can’t let her go. I laid myself on top of her. I put my face on her head. I cried a lot, made a sound of some sort: a whine, a moan, a wail, I don’t know. I looked into her eyes as she was dying. I watched the way the tip of her tongue kept poking out of her mouth and how she kept swallowing, like there was something stuck in her throat she wanted to dislodge.
I had known for days that her body was shutting down. I tried to simply commit myself to being present for her through the whole process of dying. To just be present for her and for death. But at the end, I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.
She had been chronically constipated: trying to shit in the yard, unable to put the weight on her leg, resting in the wet grass with her head held high as if she were just sunning herself in the shade. She rarely got out of bed, stopped eating, and, as I put it, had one paw out the door already. I talked to the vet who said, “What if she’s simply uncomfortable and refusing food because she’s constipated?” Wouldn’t that be a bitch? No pun intended. She’s not dying she’s just constipated. I agreed to take her in again. The vet was very kind. She persuaded me to leave her there and gave her four enemas, an anti-vomiting drug, and a bag of fluids through her back.
After the vet, I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t pulling through. I kept telling her she’d feel better tomorrow. She’d be a new girl. Then I saw it pass through her eyes just briefly. I was sitting on her bed alone with her and I saw it-the same thing I saw that New Year’s Eve, trying to help that horse laying in the mud in the rain. It had such big eyes so I saw clearly–death walk through and take her, her eyes still open and watching me. And maybe that was the moment she left. Not after the last breath drawn, but hours before as I watched.
Her death was like labor, like giving birth, with different stages of leaving-or arriving depending on how you look at it. And in her dying, I realized how time is a magician’s trick. We think we have time. We don’t have time. There is no time. There are only moments. I kept telling her how tomorrow you’ll feel much better, ‘buki, tomorrow. But we did not have tomorrow together-not like that. We had death together. We had that moment on her bed and it was in these moments as she was leaving that I felt timelessness. And in the lack of linear time, I was able to clearly see a light or essence that is Abuki.
That light was always there. In puppyhood as she bunny hopped through ivy plants, refused to get out of the pool, lunged for things behind glass breaking my mother’s french doors-it was always there, and it was always unscathed by time. This light that is Abuki. And in old age in her incessant wandering off, seeking out and eating of shit, moving too slow as I dragged her down the street so I could catch up with Naima on her bicycle. It was there too. But I ignored it at that moment, and that is my loss.
I realize that it is the same with my kids too. And I don’t mean that I want to live with the fear or even the thought that they could die tomorrow. That is inconsequential. I’d rather live with the consciousness that every moment is an opportunity to acknowledge that light or essence that exists in them even as they are raging against socks and the insanity of this world and its people or singing me their new song.
For awhile I felt so stupid for having brought her to the vet that last time. I knew she was dying. I had already told myself that I would let her go. That I would be present for her and to her and with her throughout the process. That I would honor her and respect the process of death. But I let hope sway me. “What if she’s just constipated, and that’s all?”
Never give a 98-year old four enemas. Just don’t do it. At that age, just let them keep their shit. I knew: No more meds. I knew that if I left her at the vets like I did that morning, it would shorten her life. Yet, I did it. I mourned after leaving her there and felt a little silly for mourning because maybe this is all she needed: a colonic. I knew better, but I did it, and she died.
I don’t blame myself for her death, but I blame myself for failing, for not following through with my commitment to being present for her and to death every step of the way. We don’t have time. There is no time. Just this moment, and in this moment we have decisions-always: to honor this moment and be present in it. Open to every little thing-pleasure, discomfort, death. Or to shut down to it looking forward to the next thing that might save us from this moment. I mean, I forgive myself. Who can blame me for hoping, for fearing, for attachment and love? But I still get angry with myself.
Burying her was hard. I liked having her around still. Or like Naima said, “Abuki died but you can still pet her.” I left her on her bed till Monday and everytime I turned around I’d see her, startled by death all over again. And somehow I liked that. It was a comfort. A reminder perhaps that yes, death is here; pain is here; she was here, Is here. I kept wanting to feed her things: carrot tops, milk, chicken skin. Then I’d remember all over again crying to myself: my dog is gone.
Digging the ditch was hard work. This business of death is hard work. It’s hard to watch, to stay even physically present by her side for an indefinite amount of time. And then digging the ditch, the dirt gets heavier as you get deep. But there’s something helpful about that too. There are steps to death and mourning, concrete steps. The death, the digging, the carrying of the body. And even in the transportation of her body, life is still released: trapped gas, blood from the nose and mouth, blood bright red and fuming with life.
But the burying. The burying is hard. I left her head for last. The kids threw bouquets of sour grass, green and yellow flowers upon her. Sora cried, ” I want to see my doggie,” with each shovel full of dirt that fell on her face: white and tan. Green and yellow. Red and brown.
And then just grief with random arrows spearing me. I kept thinking she was there. I’d turn around-no bed, no dog-yet I had just felt her. I swear, I heard her lick her lips. She was just there. She sighed.
I think what helped me move on was Dylan telling me that she is still there. “If you want to engage with Abuki now, you have to do it from where she is, which is not in physical form,” he said. It’s in the mind, in the spirit, in the hairs on the back of the neck, in my fingertips, her fur on my cheek. Yet she’s still here. She is. Whenever I want her to be.
When she was dying, I was so mad because she was leaving me. She was finally leaving me. I mean, I had left her many times, once even for two months to go to Korea, her jumping up to the window everytime a Honda civic drove by. But, she never left me. Not even that time my boyfriend got so drunk and kicked my car window in and she fled out the window disappearing into a city she did not know. He and I atop a pile of safety glass, me holding him in a headlock wondering whether or not I should make him pass out, as someone yells, “Let her go, I called the police.” I thought she was gone forever. He in handcuffs in the headlights and I answering questions hastily, annoyed by this detention in my search for Abuki. And then returning to his apartment, heartbroken and bleeding, worried out of my mind about her-not him, not me-but her. Abuki stepping out of the shadows. She never left me. And even now, she never leaves me still.
Nov. 19, 2009
I tend to write in here about our trips. And, seeing how my online writing began with the nomadic mothering column, Naima the Nomad. I guess it makes sense. But, life has been sort of stagnant for awhile, what with Dylan’s qualifying exams, and just the day-to-day caring for the children, dog, rat, chickens, mouse-in-the-house-that’s-not-a-pet, cooking, washing laundry in the bath tub, bartering for farm fresh produce, and other food etc., that I haven’t even recorded our last summer’s backpacking trip.
Sometime in September:
Things didn’t go as planned, but, if you read any of those mamazine.com columns, you’d know that we’re not very good with plans. I’d say it’s one of our weak points, along with organization, and buying things we need like underwear and space heaters. We really need to work on it, I think as I sit freezing and underwear-less in our uninsulated cinder block apartment.
We were going to go backpacking for three nights, but after talking with the forest ranger, we decided to cut our trip a little short, as Saturday would be the opening day of deer hunting season. And, according to the old guy with the pack horses in the parking lot, the first day of deer hunting season is like the opening night of the new Star Wars movie.
The sun was going down as we were re-packing our one backpack: two sleepings bags, clothes, pre-cooked burgers, soup, tarp, 1-lb of candied nuts, half a dozen nut muffins, fruit and vegetables and dog food (notice no tent, no stove, not much). Naima is on a non-grain very restricted diet, and it seemed to be helping.
The old guy with the horses suggested we spend the night at the trail head instead of hiking out in the dark.
You’ve got two little kids, he reminded us.
Naima followed him around watching his bent frame haul hay and wooden boxes, asking him a million questions about everything. He made us a fire and told stories of hunting back in the days while we sipped cold soup from jars and ate avocados with a spoon.
The next day we hiked to a nearby lake. It was only a couple miles in, but both girls walked, including the one year old who walked/fell/crawled through the dust and horse manure all the way there. Dylan carried the big pack, I carried a small pack, and sometimes Sora too. We forgot Abuki’s leash so she dragged a long rope behind her, while pack horses passed us with hunters heading in.
At the lake, Naima had one of her “meltdowns,” which is part of the reason for the dietary change along with a myriad of other symptoms like stomach aches, diarrhea, leg cramps, odd tics, nightmares. She hit and kicked at us because we wouldn’t answer her questions correctly (ie. How do you spell the letter “f”). We sat there on the rocks looking out at the Sierra mountains, the pristine lake carrying her cries of “Help me, help me. You’re killing me,” far and wide, while I went over in my head how much fruit and candied nuts consumed, versus vegetable and protein, the possible stresses of backpacking, which in the past has helped her, something I said, something I did, did not do.
Sometimes, I just can’t quite believe I’m a parent. Who graduated me from dog walking to child rearing anyways? You can’t really clicker train a kid. But one saying in pet care, that’s transferable in child care is, “Moving Towards Calm.” One should always be moving towards calm. The pre-schooler is tantruming in the wilderness and I am losing it because I can not win at arguments over grammar with a five year old, the toddlers getting mosquito bit on the butt, and the dog takes a shit in the lake. At some point you just have to sit back and breathe.
I think of the Buddhist teacher Shunryu Suzuki who died of cancer. We live in a toxic world. We live in a beautiful world. Breathe in. Breathe out. The trick, I guess, is not to hold onto any of it. Or maybe there are no tricks. Just like there is no “right” way to parent.
When she recovered we sought out a hidden pool. I scrambled ahead across boulders in search of the quietest spot in the world. In a sort of nest in the rocks was a clear little pool. Behind the pool the mountain dropped thousands of feet into a wide valley which reached back to the next range of mountains with names like Cathedrals, Castle Rocks. Because it was the end of summer the pool was rather small, but still ice cold, and deep enough for the kids to go running into naked, down sloped granite, sending little frogs flying for cover. I swam into the middle of it, floating on my back, looking at the rocks, the jets making lines across the sky, breathing in, breathing out, trying not to swallow the water.
We left the next day before hunting season began. Sora insisted on walking most of the way but she was so tired, she kept stumbling and falling in the dust. I eventually wrangled her onto my back with the sling and after she calmed down she began to chant, “Mountain swimming everyday. Mountain swimming everyday,” before falling into a deep sleep.
After being home for a bit, we called Julio. A homeless man we befriended during our last trip to Santa Barbara. He was in Georgia with his son. He said he went swimming one day, like how he usually does, goes way out past the Kelp, sometimes for miles. But when he got back he vomited blood. He went back to his camp in the bushes behind a playground at the outskirts of town, where we had visited him last. He said he nearly died. He could barely crawl out of the bushes. He spent some time in the hospital and the doctors ran all kinds of tests on him. Nothing was wrong. He just swam too damn far. His son, the one who works for Homeland security, came out and got him. So now he’s recuperating in Georgia. He says he misses the ocean, misses the beach, misses his friends like us. “It meant so much to me to have met you and your kids,” he tells me on the phone. “I was kind of lonely then. You guys brought me so much joy.” “I love you,” he tells Naima. I tell him he’s welcome to come and stay with us anytime. “It’s my turn next to call you.” he says. We haven’t heard from him since.
Mountains swimming everyday.
Mountains swimming everyday.
It’s the middle of the night and it’s got to be 90 degrees still here in Davis. Our chickens have just begun to roost. They’re almost two months old. They no longer pile on top of one another to fall asleep. They can sit independently on a stick in the air. It took them awhile. I know, it’s hard to grow up.
Since I have last posted: we went camping on the Mendocino coast, an inspiring and disastrous adventure. Acquired one rat, four chickens, and a whole new dietary regime. Dylan and I have discovered how to communicate in our sleep. But lately, it’s been so hot, I can’t sleep.
It all began six years ago, or maybe it was seven. Dylan and I traded a song for a story. It was an innocent exchange at first, on a night similar to this one: warm and restless and full of desires. I told him a story about a wine aficionado who, having to evacuate his home in the Oakland hills fire, threw all his wine bottles into the pool. Forgive me if I’ve already told this. Upon returning, he found his bottles intact, but the labels had all slipped off, and he was forced to just drink his damn wine. Dylan sang “Farewell Angelina,” and a song he wrote about an unemployed musician who falls in love with a rich woman with a small dog.
This was in the doorway of an old gymnasium turned art studio situated in the Marin Headlands. I think we could hear the baby sea lions in the background, sick and abandoned, calling from the Marine Mammal rescue center up the hill. I was still a city girl with a million questions about Vermont, Rhode Island, and other exotic eastern places. On the beach, we admitted to each other our dreams of surfing. I mentioned chickens, and perhaps something about singing. For my birthday he bought me a Chicken book. Not the Chronicle Books’ edition on chickens, but the original pictorial tribute to The Chicken. He took me out of the city, to a place where teenagers drove pick ups, were no sidewalks existed, and perfect strangers waved to me as they drove by leaving me totally freaked and confused, missing Oakland, where no one really says hi. At least not like that.
Now that we are in an almost two bedroom apartment in Davis with a side yard and an empty lot out back; now that I compost into a maggot infested pile; and have grown four cucumber plants from seeds, although they haven’t produced anything yet; I figured it’s a good time to get chickens. No matter that our landlord has plans to level the four units on the property, as well as the empty lot we all share in the back, in order to build townhouses one day, or that our lease is only for a year and who knows where we will end up next.
So, I’ll tell you the story about the chickens, even though I set out to talk about our trip to the Mendocino coast where we ended up sleeping in the van on a ridge the first night because the campgrounds were all full, and in the windiest spot in the county for the next two night because we neglected to take into account a northerly wind. Although, really, what I wanted to talk about was Naima’s black eye. But that’s a hard thing to talk about: her recent fits and how sometimes we have to restrain her to keep her from attacking me or Sora, but that one time on the beach there was this log, and…
Sora just woke up. I had to go nurse her back to sleep. She’s been great lately. Although she’s been walking on her tiptoes a lot, and wants to wear her bike helmet and jacket in 100 degree weather, while following the chickens around in the yard. She’s really into Nutmeg the rat, who she calls, “Nut rat-rat- rat.” Half asleep in bed she said, “Nee-ne otha side,” which means she wants to nurse on the other side. I don’t know why they always think the other breast is so much better.
I told Dylan that we’d just get maybe two adult chickens. I answered an ad on Craigs list from a girl whose email was little miss happiest. She was pretty happy. They had horses, goats, and sheep. She was really into her chickens, and offered us one and a half month old chickens for seven dollars apiece, and I just began filling the box.
What are you going to do? We never were very good with planning. Our lives have always been messy. My one year old climbs stumps in the backyard in a bike helmet. My four year old bloodies my chest with her nails, counting invisible objects just to the left of me while screaming, “Mommy help me, help me” for hours in a day. And, I don’t know what’s wrong.
We’ve implemented a new diet for Naima in hopes that it will help somehow. Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Natasha Campbell-McBridge. Google it if you like. I mean, life’s not perfect. Nothings perfect. Everything’s perfect. This post probably needs editing, but I don’t think I’ll do it. We’re just trying to enjoy our lives.
Tomorrow, I think I’ll plant carrots. Maybe Naima will help me skin tomatoes. We have a box full of them we’ve exchanged for our yogurt, along with seven melons, tomatillos, figs, grapes, eggplants, peppers, one okra, and lots of chard that Naima cut herself. The mosquitoes have been invading our apartment because the landlord won’t put in screen doors that fit. The cockroach eggs are all getting eaten by chickens. And I am totally and completely in love with my family.
We have found the magic potion that sends them scurrying into the light. If UCSC’s mascot is the banana slug, UC Davis’ should be the cockroach. We moved about a week ago into a cinder block apartment (we have moved at least once a year for the past seven years). On a moonlit night, our new neighbor took my husband to the house next door that’s been for sale for ever, and stole the powder from the abandoned garage. In the day light, we recognize the empty house to have been one of Dylan’s professors. We had slept on the floor there, when Chan Park, esteemed P’ansori singer and professor, came to Davis to give a concert. She slept in the room next to us. Naima fell asleep in the hollow of a busted Ottoman.
Now, we live next door to this house from our memories, in a dark duplex where we find ourselves scurrying into its dark corners, stealing morsels of magic left behind.
Before we moved amongst the cinder blocks and trees, we lived behind Angie’s Beauty Salon. Naima spent many a hot afternoon in the air conditioned salon watching the ladies perform upon heads with scissors, dyes, and dryers. I chased Sora as she repeatedly escaped from the apartment to sit upon the sewage cover in the dirt road. Henceforth, the move to a less pleasant apartment with a communal backyard the size of a small park.
Right before our move, we went to Santa Barbara. Dylan had a four day graduate retreat, and we tagged along for the ride. Abuki did too but the hotel didn’t allow dogs, and so she slept in the van. During the days, I watched a professor’s daughter, a seven-year old who has been dragged to more hemispheres than most of us can imagine. She says she likes Paris, and eating Seals in the north pole. She didn’t really like walking, and preferred the pool to the beach.
I pushed all three kids through Isla Vista in a double stroller, dragging Abuki, the geriatric pit alongside. Our first day we explored the beach. The kids challenged the ocean, and I stared across its flat surface, as if searching for something coming in, counting the minutes that I imagined were passing by.
We had left our belongings in a heap to find a place to swim that was less rocky. Upon our return we saw a bent figure peeling our towels off our stuff. We ran back and by the time we arrived, he had settled down in the sand, his own bags set down between us.
That was our first day with Julio, a 57-year old homeless man who slept in the bushes in a playground at the edge of town. He apologized profusely for examining our things, to see if they had been abandoned or not. It was a fear of his too, that while he was out swimming, which he did everyday, way out past the edge of the kelp sometimes, to exhale the breath from his lungs, and pull himself by the rooted seaweed to the bottom of the sea. He opens his eyes when he sits on its floor. Once, he saw a shark. Just a small one, like the skunk that come check him out when he’s sleeping. But unlike the skunk, he said, he did not put out his hand to pet them, even though he really wanted to. Once, he said, he pet a raccoon. His eyes aren’t so good these days, especially at night, and he mistook it for a different kind of creature.
We chatted about trains, and the weather, both of us getting very excited about the trains and comparing notes on parenting. I said, it’s hard being all alone with your kids. He said yeah, I ought to know. I raised three sons on my own while working two jobs. I gave the cops a key to my house, and had them check on them at night when I was working. He said it was the hardest thing he’s ever done, but he loved every minute of it. I thought about that while pushing three kids up the hill.
That night when I ate dinner at the cafeteria with all of the graduate retreat participants, I told one of them about meeting my new friend saying it was the highlight of my day. Not watching Naima pull herself along the edge of the pool, or Sora floating on her back, but talking with Julio, red as a crab, enjoying the beach while he was still unemployed.
The next day I saw him at the beach again. I sat nursing Sora on the beach watching the girls mocking the strength of the ocean, jumping over the white wash. Julio was afraid that they’d get pulled into the sea, so he devised a game, where he’d put himself between them and the waves, and as the water came crashing down around him, he’d scream, “Save me, save me!” Then they’d pull him to safety holding tightly onto his hands. He could barely walk on his bad ankles. He said he had just applied for a job as a chef on a docking station, that would require twelve hours of standing a day. As he bent over to remove rocks and driftwood on the shore that the kids might stub their feet on, I feared that the weight of his chest would pull him over, and he’d go toppling into the sand, toothpick legs waving in the air.
We were quite a sight. Two little girls pulling on a homeless man who was screaming at them like he was insane. And the day we went out to his camp, the playground on the edge of town, bearing snacks and presents that he probably just fed to the squirrels, he was the one who had to save us.
We didn’t go to the beach that day because the kids had elected to stay at the pool. I was disappointed and lonely, but then on a brief foray to town we ran into him, heading back early to his camp with a beer. It was too hot he complained, pointing to his darkened skin. “The Mexicans already say “Hola,” to me. No one ever says “Hi.”‘ Like the Korean liquor store owner whom everyone called, “Primo,” he was fluent in Spanish from just being around. He invited us to the playground where he was heading, said maybe he’d see us there, and to call him if we did come pointing to his cell phone which his son the one who erected signs on skyscrapers got him, or was it the one who worked for Homeland Security?
He didn’t expect that we’d really come, but while we were shopping at the co-op there, Naima started picking out treats that she thought Julio would like, and I was dreading going back to the hotel and a hot pool. I really do hate pools. So we loaded up the double stroller, dragged the dog across the hot asphalt of the sidewalk-less streets, and found ourselves in a pleasant park with swings and a gazebo and a lot of old dogs roaming off leash.
He said, “It means a lot to me that you came out here. Your children have brought me so much joy. I forgot about that.”
But when it was time to return, Malay felt ill, Sora wouldn’t sit in the stroller, and Naima was still talking a mile a minute. So he pushed the stroller with the two girls in it down the middle of the street, while I carried Sora until she fell asleep. I can’t remember what we talked about. I wish I could remember. Maybe about basketball, or how the Lakers wanted a parade but it would be the taxpayers who would pay for it. Or about how his sons once played a trick on him biking along the cliffs, and then disappearing off the edge while he was watching. He said he’ll never forget that feeling of practically soiling your pants. They were just preparing him, he said, for what they would do in their futures, and as a parent how to keep it together while they were doing it. The cars slowed down as they passed. And at the hotel, he spoke Spanish to the ladies cleaning up, while swinging off one of the concrete steps above him like a young man.
His sons want him to move out with them. But he says where else can you sit on a beach with the mountains against your back. We left Isla Vista for Santa Cruz right after Dylan’s retreat ended. Naima asked if we’d see Julio at the beach there, shaking his hands at her from the waves.
We are in our new apartment now in Davis. The neighbors have two kids like us, an older dog, a Toyota Matrix. They roam across the yard in the evening, picking up toys, pruning a bush or two, their silhouettes just shadows made from porch lights. Sometimes we wave while the sky darkens, and the cockroaches come out of their corners.
Hello Long Lost Loves:
It’s been far too long since I’ve last posted. Here, in Davis, CA, it is 110 degrees on the shady pavement. I am making yogurt in front of my house beneath the stroller, and drying pumpkin seeds in the sun. Sora is asleep and Naima is overtired in school.
That said, I must admit to feeling adrift. I’m not working on any applications at the moment, I don’t really have any pressing projects, per se, although I am always working on something. I’m just not working the way I used to: with the madness of hope and desire.
I know I should tell myself that my purpose right now is to raise these kids well. But it’s not. I do not feel like my purpose in life is to be a good mom or even to get published for that matter. Perhaps that is part of the reason I feel unanchored. If anything, I am finding that it takes all my energy to just be, watching the maps blow away down the bike paths, the scaffolding to fall away with the paint.
How do I explain? Somehow I’ve gotten to this place where the best thing I can do for Naima is get out of her way. I’m sure this will change, as all things do, especially quickly concerning Naima.So what if I let her eat frozen unorganic diluted pineapple juice for lunch. Or, run naked through the sprinklers in front of the Beauty Salon. Or stand too close to a tuba.
I’m trying to respect that she is her own being, with her own pain, and bad habits. I mean, it’s hard not to tackle her down and wrestle the bloody booger out of her finger as she attempt to ingest it. But like Dylan said, at least it’s her own.
But, as a person who often desires movement, sometimes even to my own detriment and the detriment of others, “adrift” should be good. Then why does it feel so scary, so lazy and brackish and bad? It feels like this hole in my stomach and sometimes the sadness that comes out of it, like cold air from a mine, sends me to my knees with the shivers.
I am learning about buoyancy and waves in the valley. My children are the sea.
I’m having a problem lately with buying things. I finally broke down and took my daughter to the dollar store to buy some headbands because one, her hair kept falling into her face and causing her to have accidents; and two, it was spring break and we really didn’t have anything else to do before our 2 pm WIC appointment, so we went to the dollar store.
I hate the dollar store. I mean, it’s great because everythings a dollar but, I can’t help but think of how those things got to be only a dollar. Ever see, “What would Jesus buy?” I haven’t, but a friend of mine told me about how she never buys new things either, except once, she bought those little Christmas lights to string on her tricycle couch for burning man. Then, she watched the aforementioned documentary and there was a woman with the most heartbreaking story about working in one of those factories screwing in the little lights.
Anyways, I just read a blog by a rather famous mother who encourages people to radiate authenticity and spirituality in order to improve upon the universe (her words, not mine), and talks about potty training her son by purchasing underpants with some commercial logo/character dude on them from K-mart.
Okay, so what am I missing here? My 4 yr-old daughter still wets her yellow flowered hand me down panties with the elastic all stretched out; and I’m feeling anxious because my husband has been talking about needing new socks and underwear. I bought him underwear, or rather didn’t buy but acquired by returning Christmas gifts, just last pregnancy. And we got socks together five years ago!
After school all the moms take their kids to the toy store, or to Baskin Robbins while Naima takes a break from climbing on the bike racks to snack on half a sweet potato in a jar on a park bench. She often throws tantrums. But maybe she wouldn’t if I bought her a Happy Meal.
We’ve recently returned from a week in Santa Cruz. We surfed often; went out for breakfast on Dylan’s birthday at Zachary’s on Pacific; drove the van around a lot, exacerbating the leaky fuel pump, perhaps; and parented together 24/7.
Our first day surfing we went to a beach off highway 1. I surfed for like twenty minutes before becoming totally exhausted. It was not a longboard spot. Dylan surfed for a little longer, and then Naima and I took an ambitious walk together, just the two of us, barefoot and half naked, scaling rocks, and running around them as the waves receded from the beach. After each obstacle surmounted, we’d find ourselves on another beach, and then another, and another. How the road forward does beckon. She wanted to keep going, and going, despite our lack of footwear and family members, and I was once again reminded that yes, this is my daughter.
We returned to a still napping Sora and a cold father holding the still napping Sora. While buckling everyone in, a reddened irate hairy surfboarder approached us yelling at us not to come back and asking whether or not we were the ones solely responsible for bringing agroup of about fifteen long boarders to “their” beach. We told them we had not, and they proceeded to peel out of the parking lot, flipping us the bird, and wasting a lot of fuel.
However, we took their advice and did not return.
How do we explain to children exactly what an “asshole” is, or the signifigance of the middle finger held aloft while tricky steering maneuvers are attempted. None of it makes sense.
Anyways, Dylan turned thirty-five. I’m still thirty-four, and Sora gets older each day. Naima gets louder.
I started talking about the van again. Maybe because the weather is warming, the cockroaches are coming out again by the hundreds, and our landlord is asking us if we want to stay another year. I’d like to say, “no. We’re getting in the van and looking for free parking.” But, alas, no assholes have any WVO for us, save for Jack’s except they were cleaning out their fryers the night after we left town. Everyone has a contract with some collection company or other, who is now paying them for their “Hazardous Wastes,” an issue I won’t get into at the moment, but, it is making it rather challenging for the individual collector breezing through town, or not breezing through town.
I must apologize for these posts. They’re often done, as in now, with a sleeping baby propped on the desk and resting on my shoulder. Or, a screaming pre-schooler asking, “How come? How come?!” Which, out of all the ridiculousness in this world, seems to be the most sensible sentiment, and to which I usually answer, “Because.”
On shelves soon (2/19th, I believe): One big Happy Family is a new and exciting anthology that I happen to have a piece in. Check it out.
“From gay adoption to absentee fathers to international adoption to green-card marriages, the reality of the American family is changing. Over the last three decades the American family has morphed from a husband, two kids, a dog, and a picket fence to something more complex. What is the modern definition of family? In a collection of 18 honest, personal, provocative, and affecting essays from an array of writers, One Big Happy Family offers a fresh look at how contemporary families are adapting to changing social, economic and environmental realities.”