two years ago today

in celebration of july 31, the anniversary of the day my husband and i got married, this week’s blog posts will be about the ways we mark the passage of time.

two years ago today
she got dressed in a barn that smelled like gasoline and fertilizer.
she pulled off her daddy's flannel shirt and pulled on her mother's wedding gown,
made new again.
she smiled without ceasing
and knew she was lucky
to have these people with her
at this place that is part of her chemistry her biology her physics.

two years ago today
she knew enough to know that she didn't know what the years would bring.
she knew enough to know that she couldn't predict
that she would take a new job in a few months
that he would grow an astonishing moustache
that they would argue over this thing or agree over that thing
that they would have a baby
who stretches their hearts in every direction.

and today
she knows enough to know that she still doesn't know what the years will bring.
she knows enough to know that she can't predict
how much money they will have
who will be healthy and for how long
when it will be easy or when it will be hard
what they will create
as a family or as individuals.

but today
just like two years ago today
she knows enough to know that she wants to do all of this with this same person by her side
and these people (and more like them) in their circle
willing and ready to affirm the joyful times and the shitty times for each other
down by the pond
in a mid-summer butterbean rain.


a wobble-versary--OR--why i like marking the passage of time

in celebration of july 31, the anniversary of the day my husband and i got married, this week’s blog posts will be about the ways we mark the passage of time.

it seems that 2012 is a big deal for earth. apparently, the earth wobbles when it turns. it wobbles really very slowly, so one complete wobble takes somewhere around 26,000 years. it seems that 2012 marks the completion of one cycle of an earth wobble, which means we're now back in the same place wobble-wise we were 26,000 years ago, but slightly moved over. if i understand it correctly, this means we’re in essentially the same orientation, but things look a little different now. the stars are not quite in the same places they were 26,000 years ago.

three things about this wobble idea remind me why i like marking time:

one || time is so much bigger than me. 

we’re talking about the earth over 26,000 years. i can’t really grasp the huge-ness of that, given that i can’t even really get a handle on the huge-ness of 50 years of marriage, or 20 years without my father, or 80 years of a life. it’s good for me to be reminded that time is so much bigger than me.

two || even very small changes over a long period of time can result in big shifts. 

there’s a bunch of conversation about what the wobble-versary and the shifting stars mean astrologically and for our north star and for our civilization. anniversaries do this for us, too. they remind us that even very small changes over a long period of time can result in big shifts.

three || it's good to re-evaluate and celebrate where we were, where we are now, and all the stuff that happened in between.

and, of course the wobble-versary makes us want to know what was happening 26,000 years ago, when this wobble first began. it was about the time that the neanderthals met with extinction and people started making tools like harpoons, needles, and saws for the first time. anniversaries make the opportunity for us to re-evaluate and celebrate where we were, where we are now, and all the stuff that happened in between.

i’m curious: how do you feel about anniversaries (or wobble-versaries)?


what s/he wrote

my fellow theatre-maker and creativity coach tamara kissane posted this last week, titled how to fall like a cat. i'm a sucker for how-to posts, and i'm hoping to write a few myself sometime soon, so i was excited to read this one from the start.

both the post title and the idea of watching an animal for clues about ways to be in the world are very cool. but the part i've been thinking about over and over is tip #3 about what to do mid-fall:

Tip 3: Orient yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the HOLY SH!T of falling and remain overwhelmed by it until you’ve hit the ground. However, if possible, and as soon as possible, orient yourself. Which way is up? Which way is down? What’s the landscape and where are you headed? What can you do? What resources are available to soften your landing? Understand what is happening in the moment. Orient yourself so you can land feet first. 

my first thought after reading this was: how do you know where the ground is? but now i'm thinking: how do you know what the ground is? is the ground the loss of the job, the bad review, the betrayal? is it the first time you can't pay the bill, the second weekend when the audience is only a quarter full, the packing of your stuff? or is it the first day of the new job, the moment you start to make a new show, the night you get dressed for a new first date?

how can you hope to feel oriented if you don't know where or what the ground--the bottom--is?

maybe, just maybe, hitting the ground is the good part of a fall. maybe it's the part where you finally feel oriented, the part where you know what's the real hard stuff and what you're just imagining to be bad and scary, the part where you feel the dirt between your toes and go from there.

maybe when falling, i should try very hard to remember that hitting the ground and being grounded often aren't very far apart at all.

i'm super curious: when have you been most grounded in your life?


lemme tell you

in the voice of a character, patty

oh yeah have the brownie it's awesome.
and do you know where you're going for dinner?
lemme tell you:  there is a restaurant
down by highway twelve
that will
socks off.
i had to be rolled outta that one, lemme tell you.
but you know what?
you don't wanna go there tonight.
they don't have tvs there and you won't be able to watch the gymnastics.
don't tell me but i bet you probably love the gymnastics, right?
you look like you would watch the gymnastics and you know i do too.
i watch them girls flippin' around on the mat and on that balanced beam and on the vault and all.
it scares the life outta me when they go on the balanced beam but it's like i can't stop watching.
so don't go down by highway twelve tonight;
go to john's instead.
john's always has the tvs on and you can see 'em from all directions.
and when those little ones are on the balanced beam, you hold your breath.
that's what i do.
i just hold my breath and lemme tell you i hope they don't land on their privates if they fall.
okay, you all take care now.
very good talking to you.
you're nice people.


i love

installment seven || durham whole foods

durham whole foods, i love you

because every time i visit, i run into friends, and that kind of makes grocery shopping feel like a social outing instead of a chore.

because your fish counter never smells fishy.

because you have so many gluten-free products that my non-gluten-free husband actually likes to eat, too.

because your baggers offer to take my bags to my car when i have a lot of groceries and a fusspot baby to balance.

because you hire local musicians to play your porch in the summer.

because of quinoa pasta, cranberry-peach juice, chlorine-free baby wipes, charley's soap, almond milk, and nitrate-free cold cuts.

because you have machines that let me grind my own coffee and peanut butter, and that feels fun.

because if i look vaguely confused in your aisles, someone asks me if i need help within 90 seconds every dang time.

because the guys at your butcher counter are awesome (and they hold the keys to the applewood smoked bacon kingdom).


a place called corner store

the bells have jangled twenty-two times today.
it's 10:21 in the morning.
the green 7-up clock above the cigarette display case is about 7 minutes fast.
it reads 10:28.
there's a little patch of sun coming through the front window,
peeking in between the flyers and the advertisements and the lotto ticket station,
warming up the place on the counter where the mini peppermint patties used to sit.
the girl who works the afternoon shift moved them yesterday because they were getting too melty.
the man behind the counter now is thumbing through a book,
folding down pages when he sees something he wants to come back to.
it's a book about organic gardening,
which makes the man who just walked in to grab a pack of tums curious about this man behind the counter.
he doesn't ask any of the questions that run through his head.
he just pays, glances at the book again, and leaves.
the man behind the counter caught the look and took it as a judgment against him,
even though it wasn't.
he misinterpreted.
but then the tums man is gone, and the moment is over, and the man behind the counter forgets.
there is a woman standing over the chest freezer with the ice cream treats.
she has been there for at least 9 minutes.
she's deciding.
it's taking her a really long time to decide.
she opens and shuts the freezer twice without getting anything out of it.
then she pivots abruptly, grabs a pack of honey-roasted peanuts off the endcap, and plunks it down by the register.
the long-delayed decisiveness surprises the man behind the counter,
and he laughs.
she doesn't notice his laughter because she gets distracted by the thought of the bill she forgot to pay, so she stays silent when he laughs and she pays and leaves.
the man behind the counter caught her silence and took it as a judgment against him,
even though it wasn't.
he misinterpreted.
but then the peanut woman is gone, and the moment is over, and the man behind the counter forgets.
the door jangles again, and a lady pokes her head in.
she tries to talk to him while still standing outside so that her words flow in at him while the smoke from her cigarette flows out toward the street.
he hates cigarette smoke, but he likes her eyes and her round shoulders.
as she has done every day for the last 21 days he has worked,
she smiles a huge grin at him and starts their conversation with, "hey darlin'."
she's trying to find out whether he has any virginia slims 120s yet.
the man from behind the counter isn't from around here and thinks "hey darlin'" means she's attracted to him,
even though she's not.
he misinterpreted.
but then the virginia slims lady is gone, and the moment is over, and the man behind the counter forgets.
the 7-up clock is ticking loudly, and he can smell the grape blow pops.
they are giving him a headache.


how do you do your best?

there is so much you can read about how to have a better work life, home life, relationship life, financial life.  so much.  you can get tips for simplifying, asking for a raise, getting rid of your junk, helping your baby sleep, and on and on.

i love reading books and blog posts and magazine articles about this kind of stuff.  they're all about how to be a better me for myself and for the people i love.  after all, even helping-your-baby-sleep-advice is more about the parent than the child.

here's what we have to remember though:  even if we get everything just right, even if we're more grateful, less materialistic, more confident, less confrontational, more outgoing, less busy, even if we're the best self we can be in any given moment:  we still can't control what other people do in response.

and that's okay.  it doesn't mean we should stop trying.

i think it just means that the goal of all this effort can't be to have a perfect life in which everything turns out just as we envision with a perfectly balanced calendar, a big fat paycheck, a fabulously organized hall closet, and a baby who sleeps through night from day 6.  because we'll always be disappointed if a perfect life is the goal.  it ain't happenin'.

for me, it's more about a mantra we've had in our house for the past five months:  everybody do their best.

i'm curious:  what are you working on these days to "do your best?"



a kind man
he is a just a very kind man.
knotted fingers younger than they look
from years of building things at work building things at home fixing things at other people's houses and under other people's cars
because he is a kind man.
he speaks
he doesn't pause between his words but he doesn't rush them out of this mouth either.
he doesn't feel that what he has to say is the most important thing to say
so if it doesn't get said then that's okay.
for him
there is no such thing as running out of time.
there is just
he is one of those rare people
who really notices the weather
every day.
he takes it in
acknowledges it
in some way he communicates with it.
his brother has watched him do this for years
and believes that this intimacy
this frank communion
with the weather is the reason he is so
and so kind.


a surprising fringe benefit of de-cluttering—OR—honey, i love my coloring books

this is what happened in my house this weekend:

my husband and i cleaned out our bookshelves. he sorted, i held the baby, and we each reminded the other that we can always go to the library if we really miss a book that we let go.

toward the end, he uncovered two coloring books and held them up for my stay-or-go verdict. i’m pretty sure i channeled my inner 8-year-old when i said, “oh, my coloring books! i love coloring!”

and he looked completely dumbfounded, and said, “really? you do?”

sometimes the ins and outs of daily life lull us into believing that we know all there is to know about our near and dear loved ones. and, hey, if we know all that and we still like each other, that’s awesome.  but this is even better. this means there are more questions to ask, more stories to tell, more quirks to discover. hooray for that.

thanks, overstuffed bookshelves. very helpful, indeed.


what s/he wrote

a few weeks ago, i saw this statement from my friend yk hong:  "the first time i meet you i will already love you."  i've been thinking about it ever since.  short and simple, yes.  but a pretty big deal.  "the first time i meet you i will already love you."

i haven't seen yk in years and years, but even back then, i believe that statement was true for her.  me, on the other hand: i believe hard in the good in people, but still my own stuff sometimes gets in the way.  

so i've been thinking: what would change in our lives if we could adopt yk's mantra?

could we go to parties and already love the person we don't know, instead of staring as we slurp on our drinks and asking with furrowed brows in a stage whisper, "who is that at the artichoke dip?"

could we walk into business meetings and know that the more powerful, more experienced, more everything person we're shaking hands with is lovable and awesome and will be enjoyable to know?

could our exchanges with the cash register guy at the gas station, the server at the restaurant, and the guitar guy at the shop on the corner feel different because of an assumption of love?

i wonder:  can we change the texture of our interactions simply by deciding that "the first time i meet you i will already love you"?  could it make us more interested in the other person?  or at least less likely to ignore them?  could it help us forget some of our own nervousness, self-consciousness, and tendency toward comparison?  could it mean that we go easier on folks, give them a little bit more benefit of the doubt, just because we already love them?  

i think i'm going to try it.  i'll let you know how it goes.



i have been paying attention to all your whispering
to the crickets you set up all around my bed chirping in my ears at night
to the caterpillars you let loose to wriggle up my arms and down my legs
to the tiny furry mice you sent to nibble on my fingertips and scrape their teeth against my ankles.
the sound of your skin rubbing as you wring your hands
quiet as it is
has caught my ear hundreds of thousands of times
drowning out the deafening blare of my own gurgling gut
of my own rushing blood
of my own snapping nerves.
you are insidious
not malicious
but insidious
and i've got to root you out.


i love

installment six || bull city burger and brewery

bull city burger and brewery, i love you

because you do a few things very, very, very well instead of doing a whole lot of things in a basically passable way.

because the people who work for you are friendly in a non-annoying way, and they wear a staff shirt, but it's not stupid or embarrassing.

because you are run by seth, who is brilliant at marketing you in an astonishingly smart and fun fashion with stuff like golden bull scavenger hunts, a rope and pulley system for collateral on a beer tower, and a glowing red light when the house-made pretzels are ready.

because you have gluten-free hamburger and hotdog buns, and after years of eating burger-no-bun-please, this makes me all teary and emotional.

because--holy moly--not only is there a changing table in your women's restroom, but there's one in your men's room, too.  whoa.

because your green monster burger is incredible, and it isn't full of hormones or antibiotics, so i kind of feel like it's healthy.

because even though i can't drink your beer (my husband tells me it's pretty stellar), i do get great satisfaction out of a soda machine that doesn't spew high fructose corn syrup and ice water in mason jars.

because y'all are obsessed with house-made, and house-made is where it's at.


a place called lobby

"it was hiLARious."
"it was FABulous."
"it was aMAZing."
heady praise bounces off leather couch cushions and collides with out-on-the-town jewelry and neckties.
clinkety clink cheers
clinkety clink couldn't have done it withouts
clinkety clink thank yous
clinkety clinkety clinkety glug glug glug
fuzzy champagne smiles swim around in a warm, perfume-y soup
high heels on concrete floors counterpoint hot staccato lady laughter
and the men shake hands and do their rooster dances mostly in the corners.
green plants, popped up and fresh from their morning watering, 
stand guard in front of power strips,
can lights,
and a forgotten pair of scissors that the box office staff was looking for all afternoon.
bathroom doors, swooshing open and shut,
secret away the looking-in-the-mirror faces,
the bra adjustments,
the nose-pickings,
the clandestine text messages that aren't appropriate for public consumption.
exit signs, with their red glow and honest lettering,
peer down to bear witness to the enthusiastic tangle of women and men
giddy at having come together
to affirm their humanity
by watching it play out on stage.


when you're disappointed

these are some of the things i do when i am very disappointed about something:

  1. stare blankly
  2. inhale once through my nose in a loud way and exhale silently
  3. say, "well."
  4. stay very quiet for a long time
  5. take a shower
  6. go to sleep at a strange time of day
  7. think about what would happen if i fell and broke my arm right then
  8. swear intermittently over the course of several hours
  9. cry
  10. blame myself
  11. blame other people
  12. decide to cancel my plans and stay home
  13. try to figure out how i would write down the roaring in my head in syllables
  14. compare myself to other people
  15. list all the things on the planet i currently find disappointing
  16. ask my dad (who passed away 10 years ago) why this happened
  17. think about exercising
  18. say out loud that something better is coming
  19. smoosh my face into my husband's shirt
  20. open the refrigerator door over and over and over again
these are things i do at home, in private (or mostly private).  i don't know what anyone else does when they're very disappointed because they are also at home, in private.  but i'd like to know.  i'd like to know for character research and because i like lists and because other people's habits are really super interesting to me.

so.  i'm curious:  what do you do when you're very disappointed about something?  (don't forget: you can leave a comment as "anonymous" if you don't want your name attached.)



we can hear her laugh crackling down the hall
long before she busts through the door,
leopard-print shirt drizzling from those bony elbows,
eyes shiny with delight and long swoops of electric blue eyeliner.
the energy in the room is measurably higher
joules bouncing off chairs and tables and v-necks and strappy sandals
decibels tilting up and up and up
all of us burning more calories as we
turn it up
turn it on
take our turn romping around in the light she gives off.
she is
as ever
happy to see everyone
taking each face in separately, distinctly, uniquely
in its own time.
it's clear that now
the pesto tastes snappier
the mojitos smell mintier
and even jack seems funnier.
her smile is radiant as she listens to a story about a groundhog
leaning her small square hips against the wall
and nodding along with the teller of the tale.
she has no idea that she is the life of the party.


my 5-month-old reminds me: try not to ignore people, okay?

a very clear thing has been happening with our baby recently: she is asserting her place in conversations, even though she’s miles away from talking. she stares, absolutely rapt, observing the conversational flow. her eyes bounce from one speaker to the next and back again. and if we go too long without acknowledging her presence in the discussion, she raises a small fuss to let us know we’re leaving her out. if we then make some eye contact, leave her some space to “say” what’s on her mind, and direct some of our words her way, she’s part of things again. and one of her big, open-mouthed grins gets added to the conversational mix.

this is remarkable to me because she’s so young, but why shouldn't she be included? after all: she’s a person. she’s in the room. she wants to participate.

it strikes me that we do this to people (and not just tiny people who haven’t learned our vocabulary yet) more than we’d like to admit. clearly, it happens in the larger ways like in policy-making and community-building. but, even as adults, doesn’t it happen in small, daily ways, too? in party conversations, at meetings, and at family dinners, in the moments when we unconsciously, subtly, and even accidentally leave people out?

yes, it can be inconvenient to be inclusive. but, on balance, maybe it’s worth it. i’m excited for the next time i realize i’m doing this to someone, and my daughter’s reminder taps at me, saying:

she’s a person. she’s in the room. she wants to participate.


what s/he wrote

a friend recently shared this new yorker article on facebook:  why are american kids so spoiled?  it's a ten-minute read, but it's well worth it.  the author discusses a lot of the same ideas that i recently read in the continuum concept, a book written in the 1970s that had me nodding my head, reading bits out loud to my husband, and saying "oh, right, of course!" when just about every page had something to say that made great intuitive sense to me.

back before my husband and i got married, we did an exercise that i got excited about trying after reading this at the fabulous a practical wedding.  the exercise: over the course of several conversations, we identified the values that we wanted to be present in our marriage, and then we tried to plan our wedding based on those values, too.

we had planned to have a similar set of values conversations before our daughter was born that would help guide us as we raise her, but she busted out a month early, and that exercise--like many other things on our "to do before baby" list--remains undone.

after reading the continuum concept and the new yorker article, though, i think we might need to make time for that conversation.  here's a quote from the article: "what values do we convey by turning our homes into warehouses for dolls? by assigning our kids chores and then rewarding them when they screw up? by untying and then retying their shoes for them?"

we don't have a "warehouse of dolls" and we're nowhere near shoelaces-age yet, but the idea is important to me.  and while i don't agree with everything in either reading, i do think this:  we make so many small, in-the-moment decisions to try and do what's best for our kiddo, and those decisions would feel stronger to me if we had our personal list of values to measure them against.

so all of this talk so far is marriage- and kid-related, yes, but it gets me thinking about our busybusybusy, choice-choked adult lives of all kinds.  do we need to be more explicit with ourselves about our values so that, at the very least, all that busybusybusy is spent in ways we really want to be spending our lives?  has everyone else already done that except me?  do you have a list of your values posted to your bathroom mirror or what?



i am the orange lamp in the corner of my cubicle.

i am the half-full water glass with the b.c. comic character on the side, the one that i got from a former boyfriend, the one he got from hardee’s or mcdonald’s back when they used to do that.

i am a bag—many bags—crammed full of receipts, envelopes, a brush, some lip gloss, a wallet or two, a slightly dirty spoon, a whole bunch of keys, a water bottle, sunglasses, a bent postcard, and a slightly molding orange.

i am a pair of turquoise shoes with one white scuff on the left heel.

i am a dirty blue pick-up truck with a frozen passenger side mirror and in need of an oil change.

i am a 37-year-old stuffed animal with matted fur, gone grey and droopy with dirt and slobber and snot and tears.

i am the most comfortable yard sale chair, finally invigorated by a trip to the upholsterer’s shop.

i am a starry baby quilt, made by a very dear friend.

i am a dixie cup full of scuppernong grape hulls, juicy, deflated, and smelling of ferment.

i am a handful of farm dirt that feels like the beginning of time.


i love

installment five || the duke gardens

duke gardens, i love you

because you are host to all sorts of lawn games, guitar strums, and general relaxation and revelry.

because you are a place where we can hang out as a family but still feel like we're spending time out in the world with other people, too.

because you have lots of flowering plants that make me stop and stare, trying to figure out how nature could be so astonishingly creative and so outright bizarre and so heart-crackingly beautiful all at one time.

because of your magnolia tree, the one the kiddos love to climb.

because you are the home of two of my beautiful, crystallized college memories, one of a sunny picnic with competitive piggyback rides and one of a late-night fete with loud declarations of truth.

because you smell good.

because you are where my aunt took me for photos when i was three years old, and one of those photos hangs in my mother's living room, the "shrine" to be joyfully bickered about among me and my siblings forever and always amen.

because it is free to spend time with you, and that means anyone can come see you, and that is an extraordinary gift to all us durham folks, to be sure.


a place called driver's seat

the windshield is blurry with rain.
trees are green mosaics and the house looks like a painting of a house
streaky and indistinct.
she pulls her legs up into the seat and leans her head back
uses her pinky finger to wipe the dust from the dashboard and the gear shift.
wipes the dust on her jeans 
checks the rearview mirror 
closes her eyes
the sound of the rain relaxes her and her shoulders drops an inch or so.
she surprises herself by thinking how very safe she feels right now in this minute
spends the next thirty minutes like this
that she doesn't need to be anywhere else.
she considers how simply amazing it is to live in a world where water falls from the sky
and how utterly we take that bizarre and wonderful fact for granted.
this thought and others like it are her company
until her sleeping baby starts to wake up in the backseat
and she hops out into the rain to take the baby inside.


when the blanket's got you

my daughter has just learned to hold on to things.  she grabs onto her blanket, my fingers, her dad's arm hair with all she's got, and she doesn't let go.  in the last few days, she's gotten really good at holding on with not just one, but with both hands.  it's a big deal.

her favorite thing to hold onto is her blanket.  she grabs that sucker and works it between her fingers and pulls it up to chew on it a little bit and generally just gets as much of it as close to her as she possibly can.  and she loves it.

that is, she loves it until she freaks out.  there's always some turning point there when the grabbing on goes from "she's got the blanket" to "the blanket's got her."  and then she's upset, overwhelmed, and panicked--but she still won't let go.

i was thinking yesterday about how we do that to ourselves in adult life, too.  sometimes we grab on so tight that even when it changes from "we've got the blanket" to "the blanket's got us," it's so hard to release that grip.

it's nice to be reminded that sometimes--not always, but sometimes--when it seems like stuff is gonna get us, it might just simmer down if we stop holding on so tight.

i'm curious: what stopped getting you when you stopped holding on with all your might?



she totters over to the bench and leans on the glass to take a rest.
glasses adjusted
watch checked
throat cleared
she waits.
she waits better than her sons and her daughter
better than her grandchildren in seattle
better even than the counselor they're sending her to see for her forgetfulness.
she has waited all her life, and it comes naturally to her.
she doesn't fidget
she doesn't sigh
she doesn't pace around reading the bus schedule every sixty seconds to fill the moments.
she is still
enjoying her breathing
noting the angle of the sunlight on the downtown buildings she can see from here
musing about whether to make chocolate pie or banana cake for homecoming at church.
when the bus comes, she will
climb the stairs slowly
make a joke with the driver
and ride all the way to the pretty coffee shop across town.
at the shop, she will order a large latte with almond milk and hazelnut
and she will sink into the plush velvet chair in the thick of things
people watching and sipping.
she giggles to herself at the prospect of this small private luxury
this weekly adventure that's her own favorite secret.
she has earned it.
she waits.


things i’ve learned about teamwork from my husband--or--how to pull together when life seems crappy

when things are going well in your lives...

say to your special person with a big smile, “who lives better than we do?” and then give them a smooch. this is a big deal. it's fun, and you’ll be glad you did it when things are not going so well. speaking of which…

when things are not going so well in your lives and you’re starting to take it out on each other...

dig deep, call on your ancestors for help, and try your very level best in that really bad moment to reach out to your person. if you’re in a stand-off in the kitchen, go over and hug her. if you’re sitting in silent tension on the couch, put your hand on his knee. if you can summon it, say, “i love you.”

more than likely, this will both completely surprise and completely disarm your person. and more than likely, your person will be exceedingly grateful that you realized she was upset, too. and yes, more than likely, she will be just a little bit humbled because you were the one who was able to reach out.

if, on the other hand, when things are not going so well in your lives, you try your very level best to reach out to your person and you fail because you’re too far gone, trust that your person will reach out to you, and accept it when she does.

maybe in a few minutes, you’ll even be able to laugh about the way you threw a bag of cheetos and a shoe at the refrigerator and collapsed in a heap in the middle of the kitchen floor. or not. either way, it’ll be better than it was before.


what s/he wrote

recently, leo babauta of zenhabits posted this:  the wisdom of allowing things to happen.  i was going to include an excerpt here, but it's a short-ish post, and i really want you to read it or at least skim it, so will you scoot over there and then come back, please?

okay, now that you're back:  i love a lot of leo's work, but this one is hard for me.  maybe it's hard in the way that things are most difficult to digest when you most need to hear them?

there's a big emphasis these days, in this culture, on being in control of your own destiny, on setting goals and pushing like hell to meet them--whether the goal is to make a gazillion dollars or to make a gazillion arts-and-crafts masterpieces with your six-year-old or to make a gazillion mosquito nets for malaria-ravaged communities in africa.

for a very long time, my own goals have been based on a picture that i have in my head of what my best life would look like.  the edges are fuzzed out a bit, and there's a fill-in-the-blank hole here or there, but it's essentially there.  it's not too crazy, and it's not too run-of-the-mill.  it's just the perfect fit for me.

so i've been pushing and pushing at the parts and pieces of my actual life, trying to get it to turn into my perfect-vision-best life.  it hasn't happened yet.  stuff keeps jumping into my actual life that isn't part of perfect-vision-best life.  some of that stuff sucks.  but then, some of it is pretty dang awesome.

i'm fairly sure this actual-life stuff-jumping is going to keep happening, so now i'm wondering if maybe leo's approach might be good for me: allowing things to happen.  i keep getting hung up in two places, though.

one:  where's the line?  at what point does "allowing things to happen" turn into "being a passive puppet who never really gives it her all?"

and two:  in our culture, can women do this "allowing things to happen" like men can?

what do you think?


it smells like forever

he walks in the room loud as a thunderstorm but happy, if you can imagine that.  i watch his smile creep up on him and when he laughs, i rush over to be nearby so i can grab up some of that laughing and rub it between my hands.  i make a glowing ball out of it, and put it in my mouth so i can carry it around for a little while.  he puts his arm around me, and it's fuzzy as ever.  i snuggle my face in the crook of his elbow and before i know it, i am off the ground, in the air, a little bit dizzy, a little bit breathless.  he pops the ceiling off the house with his left hand, and i can see the treetops getting closer, getting farther away, getting closer, getting farther away.  the light between the leaves makes my eyes feel funny.  i open my mouth wide to catch the fun in the air, and some of his laughter glow escapes my mouth when i do.  some of my own laughter pops out, too.  just as suddenly as it began, it stops, and i press my face into his soft, old t-shirt to get my bearings back.  i inhale deeply, and i feel safe here where it smells like forever.


i love

installment four || nanataco

nanataco, i love you

because mauro and the rest of the crew always put our baby's name on the ticket to be called out when our food is ready.

because even the inside seating feels like it's partly outside and for some reason that makes us feel like we're on vacation--even if it's just for an hour.

because you make the only chicken mole i've ever enjoyed eating.

because, thanks to your salsa bar, i can put as much cilantro on my meal as i want--which is basically enough to cover a football field 1.732 times.

because--speaking of that salsa bar--you offer me radishes, which i put on my tacos in fond remembrance of one of our past favorite places, taqueria lopez (now closed).

because stopping to pick up one of your vanilla milkshakes and then sharing it as we walk with our daughter around our neighborhood on an early summer evening...it doesn't get much better than that.


a place called bleachers

he squints at the field he squints at his dad he scratches his nose
rubbing the toe of his sneaker at a dried-up wad of gum he wonders
is now the best time to ask for ice cream
or should he wait
until after the next batter
will his dad be more likely to say yes and thrust some dollars at him so that he can concentrate
or will he say yes when the team is headed back into the outfield and he’s feeling safe a few runs ahead
in a few minutes
the noise in the ballpark sounds happy to him
and he imagines it as a big purple swirl wooshing up to the sky and overflowing the fences and the walls surrounding the place
he thinks of it splashing all over the cars the people the apartment buildings the bars nearby
he smiles at the vision of all those people purple-y wet with the crowd’s happiness
he scoots over a little bit to give his dad more room with his sloshy beer
and the hot metal burns his legs where his shorts end
he lifts his butt and puts his head down
trying to look underneath the seats
his mouth twitches as he scans for lost foul balls
he pops back up when his dad says, “son?”
nodding a yes at the question, “’bout time to go get a pretzel and some ice cream?”
he thinks about how this is his favorite day so far this summer.


fireworks: what makes you stand still?

fireworks were a big deal in my family growing up. for years, we'd all load up in the truck or the station wagon and head over to the state fairgrounds in raleigh on the fourth of july. later, we watched the fireworks on the fourth at the mudcats stadium out near zebulon. and sometimes, just for fun, my dad and my uncle would set off firecrackers in the field at our family's farm. they'd light them up and then run like crazy to get out of the way and get a good view.

since then, i've seen fireworks in a massive crowd of people in downtown chicago, from my apartment window in the baldwin building by the durham bulls ballpark, from a back deck in chatham county surrounded by trees and friends, at the waterfront in wilmington, from a big garden in paris, at the top of a double ferris wheel...

and i love them every time.  i love the way they make us look up.  i love how big they are, and how loud.  i love that they exist for no other reason than to celebrate.  i love the way they make a whole group of children and adults with very little else in common say "ooh" and "aah" in unison--the adults often the most awestruck of all.

most of all though, i love the way fireworks stop me in my tracks.  always, they make me stand still.

i'm curious:  what makes you stand still?



she picks the dry skin off her lips and flicks it on the floor
bites her bottom lip with her top teeth
chews the inside of her cheek with her molars
rubs her lips together over and over again
and then she puts on some chapstick
the one that comes in the black tube
without any real flavor to speak of.
she buys them in packs of ten or twelve
and stashes them four or five at a time in her purse
her beside table
her medicine cabinet
her glove compartment
(where they often melt and run all over the operating manual in its plastic sleeve).
she's been known to find them in the refrigerator and in the couch cushions.
once she found a plastic target bag with 33 of them
hidden in the back of the linen closet
behind the extra set of sheets
the ugly ones she never used but kept for linen emergencies
whatever those might be.
don't get me wrong:
we are talking about a powerful woman
in the world.
she negotiates mergers
she picks up the check
she silences board rooms
in control.
but chapstick
she cannot be without chapstick
chapstick gets the best of her.


how being a mama is making me a better theatre artist (and vice versa)

installment four || caring about it less and enjoying it more

i love my creative work.  i want to say that unequivocally.  not once in my adult life, including now, have i been completely without a creative project of some size or shape.  i love being obsessed with my project of the moment.

but something has shifted with the birth of my daughter.  i'm still obsessed with the creative projects in front of me, but they're not keeping me up at night.  she is.  and that seems appropriate.  i'm not worrying them into the ground or pushing them into being quite so hard, because i'm spending that time watching her discover what her laugh sounds like.

funny thing is, i think it's making my creative time stronger.  i enjoy it more.  i let it breathe a little bit.  if it doesn't work, i don't try to beat it into submission, i just take a break and come back to it later.  i still love it just as much, but i'm caring about it less and enjoying it more.  does that make sense?


what s/he wrote

recently, seth godin wrote this blog post titled pest control.

in it, he says, "a big part of doing your work is defending your time and your attention so you can do your work."  i like that, and i think i might even say: a big part of doing your life is defending your time and attention so you can do your life.

right now, i'm in the beginning phases of some major streamlining: at home, at work, in my creative hours.  and it is, indeed, hard to control the noise.  with something demanding my attention all the time, i find i have to set some pretty firm boundaries for myself.  i've limited my facebook time to 10 minutes a day.  i don't watch or read the news unless something specific is important to me.  i say no to invitations sometimes.

it feels strange to admit that i've chosen not to follow the news.  and i have a really hard time saying no to invitations because i always think i'll be missing out.  and just jumping on facebook for 10 minutes a day means i  missed the announcement when a good friend's baby was born.  but it means i have time to write for this blog.  and it means i'm paying attention when i'm with my daughter instead of fooling around with my smartphone.  and it means i have time to exercise--sort of.  (i'm still working on that.)

i've got a lot more streamlining to do.  and i'm curious:  what boundaries do you set for "pest control"?