Monday, June 23, 2008

fifty things, or, must water the blog

This isn't a meme. This is just...I have no direction. I want to talk to you but I don't have a nice crisp seed to grow into a recognizable post about a thing. So, then, fifty of them. Things.

1. I think I'm getting arthritis in my hands. I watered our lawn this morning and squeezing the nozzle of the hose made me feel like a troubled old lady in the before part of a pain relief commercial. Darn these hands. My begonias!
2. Briefly while I was watering the lawn I was able to not think at all for a few seconds here and there, and I was just watering the lawn. Sounds dull but it was sort of transcendent. Sunlight through the spray, the sound, the brightness, the force of the water, the goodness of the morning. No stupid chatter in my head. Just the thing happening in front of me.
3. Fifty things? I'll be lucky if I get to five. I have the baby monitor on and Finn is stirring a little.
4. Dave is working a lot more now, so I'm with Finn by myself in a much bigger way. It's good, it's beautiful, but I have no time to write, and all I want to do is write.
5. I don't even know what I want to write. I just want to.
6. I made it past five things! Maybe I will make it to fifty.
7. The beams across our living room ceiling, and the ceiling itself, are this honey-colored wood. The wood glows many different ways throughout the day and evening and night.
8. What the wood does, how it glows like that, is medicine for something in me.
9. I'm writing the event of my miscarriage to go into a movie a dear friend is making. I'm fictionalizing it. Does that sound -- oh, I'm not really asking. I'm glad I'm doing it.
10. What are these sounds Finn is making? Do you think he's going to wake up for real?
11. That I'm really asking.
12. I'm thinking a lot about George Harrison these days.
13. After George Harrison died, I had the strangest, most stunning dream with him in it. I was taken aback because I'd never been a notable fan one way or another. But he showed up in a dream a few days after his death, and we were kneeling on the floor in my old room, trying to decide if he was going to be my mentor. I will never be able to convey to you the amount of love that was there in that room, in that dream. Massive, piercing, all-encompassing love.
14. I had a dream like that about an acting teacher once. I was standing in front of him and I asked him, "Are you my teacher?" - I think I meant spiritual teacher - and then I was blown backwards in an explosion of light coming out of my heart as I heard the answer, "Yes."
15. So, two dreams like that in my life, with paradigm-blasting love in them, both about teacher/student relationships.
16. I don't know what those dreams meant, or if those two are or were my teachers, but all I know is when that much love shows up, even in a dream, that's got to be good for something. That counts for something.
17. But I don't know what. Life is a mystery.
18. And my mind wants to take life and hang it up like a pinata and smash it and get all the candy out. But instead of eating the candy, I just want to sit there and read the labels on the candy. WHAT KIND OF CANDY IS THIS?
19. It's better to just eat it.
20. Given the choice, always eat the candy instead of trying to figure the candy out.
21. Good luck to me, as I attempt to do both forever.
22. When I was watering the lawn, I was just eating the candy for a couple of seconds there.
23. The arthritis part wasn't the candy.
24. Dave and I were married in a little courthouse wedding on January 21st, 2005. I just read Pattie Boyd's memoir and learned that she and George Harrison were married in a little courthouse wedding on January 21st, 196...I'm going to say 6.
25. When I read that, I got goosebumps.
26. And then tried to eat the label of that small piece of candy.
27. Ever since I decided recently that I'd like to try to make a living as a writer, I have barely been able to write a word.
28. So that's promising.
29. A friend of mine has just fallen deeply in love. We were talking about this on the phone tonight, and it was a pleasure hearing about it. It reminded me so vividly of when Dave and I fell in love.
30. And then I remembered a night in Maui soon after Dave and I got together, when we were on that yoga retreat. We were all eating dinner on the porch of the house under the stars, but I couldn't eat and I couldn't speak. The love I was falling in was so busy transforming me...I could feel it, on a molecular level, right there at the picnic table. I felt like I was being reprogrammed to hum at a different level, like I was being refined. I couldn't do anything but sit there and change.
31. If we have another child, then I will really have to figure out how to carve some writing time for myself.
32. There's a thing, a concept out there. It's...babysitters. People can get them. Do you know about this? Babysitters? They're these people who come and sit with your babies while you do other things in other locations. My word! I never thought I'd live in such futuristic times! Have you ever tried out one of these babysitters? Are they like robots? Do they hover? Do they have antennae? They have a job for everything these days. Those French have a word for everything.
33. I never promised that every one of these fifty things would make sense.
34. But you can have your no dollars back if you want them.
35. Speaking of dollars back, we ordered in Indian food tonight, and paid cash - and the driver didn't have any change on him. Hi, accidental begrudged large tip.
36. I only ate one modest plateful! Of Indian food! A triumph of the human spirit.
37. We watched The Bachelorette while we ate. Then I called my mom and we compared notes on the bachelors and how their hometown dates went. I love this show, and all other shows that also suck.
38. Fifty things. Good crap. How'm I gonna....? Not like this. This can't be how. Talking about how hard it is.
39. I took Finn on a wild goose chase around Seattle on Sunday trying to find the gol dang Obama bake sales. Gasworks Park? Not that I can see, but thanks for the walk in the park. Fremont? Um...I forgot the address and time, but let's try anyway. How...'bout...HERE! Nope. Well, then, how 'bout...HERE! Nope. Hey! Goods for the Planet! They're doing one of these bake sales! One last try.
40. Cupcakes for Obama for all of us.
41. Lemon bars for Obama for my mom and brother.
42. Molasses cookies for Obama for Finn.
43. Brownies for Obama for me.
44. Chocolate chip bars for Obama for also me.
45. Something baked for Obama should have been earmarked for Dave, but instead they got teethmarked and swallowed.
46. I am a bad wife.
47. I'm a wife who hogs the sweet things.
48. Thank goodness Dave prefers chips.
49. Else we'd be screwed.
50. Finn loves to have imaginary tea parties these days with a little silver teapot my mom gave him. So he was making 'tea' for me a couple of days ago and I was pretending to drink it, and I said, "Oh, Finn, this tea is so delicious. What kind of tea is it?" And he paused for a good while, stymied. And then came the reply, ""

Sunday, June 15, 2008

for pop, ultimately

Bloggos! I'm back. We're finally moved into the new house and we have internet access again. When you haven't had internet for a week or two, you start to feel like an old-fashioned person. I drove to my laptop in my Model T, and got lost several times along the way! Oh, boy, they don't mark those roads like they used to. I need a sarsparilla. When we find our camera, we'll take some tintypes of the house for you.


Tim Russert! What the hell?! I'm telling you, I'm way more broken up about his death than I could ever have imagined I would be. There's been a lot of weeping around these parts. Who knew he was, like, the best guy who ever lived? I always liked his journalism. He was such a trusty and fair presence, I thought, and I always felt confident that I was hearing someone just about as objective as can be when he was commenting or conducting an interview, and I always felt like he was going to ask the question I wanted asked. Rare feeling. (Take notes, Wolf Blitzer, you big marshmallow.) But then to hear about what a fabulous friend and mentor and father and son this guy was -- inspirational. I really mean it. Tim Russert, in his death, is making me want to be a better person. WHO. KNEW.

Happy Father's Day, everyone. We've had a lovely one so far. We've eaten pancakes and wept at Tim Russert's empty chair on Meet The Press. (Finn took in in stride.) Now Dave is at work and Finn is asleep.

I found this when I was unpacking a couple of days ago, and thought I'd put it up here for my dad today. He already heard it at his memorial. YES HE DID, SHUT UP. This is what I wrote and delivered three years ago for him. The writing could be better but I'm going to put it up just like I wrote it because this isn't the kind of thing you edit to make cooler. Anything you wrote for a memorial you have to just let be.

All righty.

Hello, everyone. A lot of you might know that my dad was a fantastic photographer. He had an amazing ability to snap the photo just at the moment when something fresh and real and revealing was happening on the other side of the lens, when the subject was in that split second showing him or herself in some essential way. I didn't inherit that skill with a camera. I ended up with the gene where you never fail to get some part of your thumb in the shot. But I'd like to take a few moments to try and create some verbal snapshots of my dad. I don't know how skilled a verbal photographer I'm going to end up being here, but it's my hope that I will have chosen some shots that reveal something essential about his character, without too much thumb in them. These are a few pictures of him that I really adore, and I think they're telling.

The first snapshot of my dad finds him standing with his feet apart, his head bent forward and his hands on his hips. His face, if we dip the camera beneath it, is registering pleasure. There's a person next to him telling a story. It's a man, it's a woman, a stranger, an old friend. My dad is listening. He's not waiting to speak. He's listening, and he clearly loves it. He loves that you want to tell him your story. He can relate. I guarantee you he can relate, and it doesn't even matter what story you're telling him. If this photo were in one of those frames where you can record a few seconds of speech to play along with it, if you pressed the button, the sound coming out would be my dad's voice saying, "Yalh, yalh, yalh, yalh, yalh....."*

*Okay this is the one little addition because I'm not in person delivering this to you. That yalh-yalh-yalh is like cross between "Yeah" and "Yup". It's the "Yup" without the 'p'. And he's saying it super fast while shaking his head and smiling.

The next photo shows my dad facing the camera, bent over in a slight bow. One hand is resting behind his back, and the other is coming out towards the camera, proffering a book. This is a book that you're interested in, that means something to you, a book that means my dad has been paying attention to you. There are so many versions of this snapshot in my memory, and probably in the memories of anyone who was close to him. And just like he did when taking a photograph, my dad knew how to choose his moments. Without going into great detail, I'll just say that on one occasion he handed me a copy of a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, complete with real photographs of her real family, and on another occasion years later he presented me with a copy of Uta Hagen's book, Respect For Acting. Both of those offerings were presented at the perfect moment, in the perfect style, and both hit home just how I'm sure he hoped they would. To say that my dad knew the joy of a good book is a dramatic understatement. He had a book with him wherever he went, sometimes to the dismay of his dining companion. Hello, Mom. But to his credit, my dad wanted to share the wealth, and he did that. Nothing made him happier than enabling a loved one to blissfully disappear into the page.

The last snapshot of my dad doesn't start with his face, or his image at all. The photograph is all dark, and represents the inside of another person, the hidden part of a person's consciousness where decisions are made. The story behind this enigmatic photo is specific and real. A friend of the family found himself drawn to drop everything and go down to southern California and join the Church of Scientology. He was going to begin by going down for an exploratory weekend. Now, opinions may vary as to to the legitimacy of Scientology, or the cult-like feelings around it, but those close to this man felt a little bit worried for him. And my dad gave him one of the most elegant pieces of advice I've ever heard. I can't relate it to you word for word, but the essence of the advice was that at some point during the weekend, it was likely that a moment would come in which our friend would make a decision. It wasn't going to necessarily be a big moment, or a particularly noticeable moment, but whatever the size, it would be the moment. My dad's advice was that our friend shouldn't let the moment go by without stopping and noticing it, that the moment should be recognized and given its due, and not hurried or glossed over. Well, our friend went down for his weekend, and that moment came for him when he found himself with the proverbial rubber stamp in his hand. He remembered what my dad said, and allowed the moment room for its importance. It doesn't matter so much in my mind that he ended up deciding against joining the church as it does that my father's words resonated for him; that my dad was in essence there with him as he made an enormous life decision; that my dad was, as he always deeply hoped to be, useful.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

o yes!

Thrilling! Goose bumps, goose bumps. We're so close, now. Lots of work to be done, looking forward to doing my part. One thing I'm excited about is that Dave and I agreed to host an Obama Fellow at some point later in the year. I think it will be great to have someone staying in the house who's working out there in the field. It'll be energizing.

President Obama. President Barack Obama. "President Obama said today...."

Oh, my word!
This can happen.

James Clyburn pointed out on tv today that when Obama gives his speech at the convention, it will be 45 years to the day from Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. That's where today's goose bumps began. I love being alive for this historic day. First black president(ial nominee), my favorite candidate ever. I don't know what's icing and what's cake but there's a surfeit of both, here. It's cake city!