Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Today I was walking from a meeting and I put my music on.  I was feeling pretty glad because the meeting I had just left was full  of people who feel passionate about our shared work and I felt warm and connected.

Girl with Faraway Eyes by the Rolling Stones was the first song to play and it made me smile.

That song has the capacity to somehow bring me back to two places at once.  Or rather, more aptly, it takes me back to one place at once: Me.  But the two places I go first are these:
1. I am ten years old in a loud, smoky tavern with my parents.   The music is loud and I feel warm and surrounded and it's one of those good nights when it's just fun and I don't want to go home.  I like to fancy myself as a girl with faraway eyes.
2. I am twenty four years old and in Tad's apartment when we're first becoming friends.  That song comes on and I see Tad smile over at me from across the apartment and I can tell by his look, two things: He thinks I have faraway eyes. And he knows I fancy myself as someone with faraway eyes and he's laughing at me/with me with his own eyes.

So there you are and I'm walking down 6th and Wisconsin, listening to that song and smiling, and a man walking past me stops and says "What are you smiling about?"

This man is a complete stranger.  He has gray hair and a knit hat and a big sweater. He's wearing a backpack and he looks kind of hippyish and he's got a nice friendly energy so I stop.

"I'm listening to a good song." I tell him, popping the ear bud out of my right ear. I leave the one in my left and I can still hear Keith Richards and Mick Jagger faintly in my nearly deaf ear.

The man sort of looks back and notices my messenger bag. "Do you ride--"
"--What the bus?" I interrupt him.
"No...I was going to say a bike."
"I do ride a bike." I say. "But only when it's warm out."
"Do you live in Riverwest?"
"No. The west side."
He looks surprised. "The west side!?  Boring!"
And for some reason, I take my mitten off and smack him in the arm with it.  "The west side is NOT boring!"
He laughs and I tell him whereabouts I live and we talk about the Times Cinema.  He lives in Riverwest. Obviously.

So we talk awhile and then I smile at him and he smiles back.
"Have a nice day." I say.
"You too!" He says, pointing at me.

And we walk in seperate directions.   I put my right ear bud back in and now it's Leonard Cohen singing "Passing Through"

And I keep smiling as I walk.

Connection is so good.  For a lifetime, for an hour or for a couple minutes.  It just is good.

And if you're down on your luck
and you can't harmonize
get a girl with faraway eyes
And when you're downright disgusted
and life ain't worth a dime
find a girl with faraway eyes... 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sometimes you feel so much so big it's just something else entirely...

The past few days have been weird...just big feelings...Mercury in Retrograde....longing....sadness....happiness all swinging from a pendulum that makes me laugh as quick as I cry.

When I lived in Estonia on the island of Kuressaare, there were weekends I would go for entire 48 hour periods without talking to anyone and my loneliness was big and the journey of my thoughts was miles deep.  One of those weekends, I walked to the school where I worked and on my three-mile walk home it began to rain.  That cold, wet, February rain...and by the time I got to my apartment I was soaked to the skin and freezing. My too-long pants were full of stones and when I unfolded them they dumped all over the hallway of my tiny dark apartment and I collapsed in a heap and cried so hard that you would have thought the biggest tragedy of life had befallen me.

After a while I realized that was how hard I was crying and just over a bit of homesickness and freezy wet weather... and suddenly I was laughing so hard and so hysterically.... I stood and saw my face in the hallway mirror and almost pointed in mockery and laughed some more.

Going from laughing hard to crying hard is one really inexpensive and natural way of feeling ALIVE.

Yesterday I cried all day long.  Today I feel joyful.  I love strong feelings whether they be horrid or wonderful because I love to feel wide awake and alive.

I decided I wanted to learn this Regina Spektor song on my ukulele.  But this song makes me cry big tears every time I listen to it and sure enough...every time I sing it. So there I was again, trying to learn this song and crying as soon as I got to this part:

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again

And there I was again crying and then laughing immediately after, at myself trying to sing a song wholeheartedly that was making me cry...all alone in my house while my kids played next door with the neighbors.

Give this song a listen. And cry. Or laugh. Or both.  Or just hear it and know your own heart is pumping blood and you are alive.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

And they grow and they grow...

I remember the days when I would have paid someone $10,000 a year just to get my kids out of bed, into clothing, fed and into the car for the drive to school.  I imagined myself there in the car, sipping my coffee, listening to a mix CD, waiting to receive my snowpants and boots clad children who would be ready to go--backpacks on, fuss free, in the car.
But alas, I didn't have $10,000 to spare and so I had to drag them out of bed and coax them through breakfast. I remember being like...
Put your boots on.
Put your boots on.
Here are your boots. Put them on.
Put your boots on!
Good! You're putting your boots on. Thanks for being such a good---
Why is that boot back off?
Put your boots on!
Why are you upstairs??? Come down here right now and PUT YOUR BOOTS ON!!!!! 
I remember slamming out of the house with the bags to put in the car, hoping upon hope that when I got back in their em-effing boots would be on already.  I banged my way out there, swearing up a storm and then remembered my wonderful neighbor next door who had raised twelve children (God bless her soul) could probably hear me.

I remember those days.

And then those days are gone just like that.

Today I get my kids up with one little shake. Sit on the edge of the bed. And that's it.  I go downstairs and get breakfast on the table and they get their own clothes out. And they get dressed themselves. And when it's time to go, they complain, yes, they still do. But they put their boots on.

And I make jokes.  "I didn't create the school start time.  I don't know what you're complaining to me for!" And we laugh. And we get there on time.  Fuss free.

It is lovely.

Tonight Tad made a video and we pretended we were having a cooking show as we made chocolate chip cookies after dinner, just because. We played Crazy Eights while we waited for them to bake and my kids made jokes that were hilarious and nuanced and weird and I felt just awestruck that we were all just hanging out.

And I know there are teenage years to come.  And it gets harder.

But we're in a sweet spot now and I like it. 

I don't mourn my childrens' babyhood.  I don't wish for those cooing, suckling creatures back.
I don't mourn their toddlerhood.  I don't wish for their chubby cheeks and dimpled elbows.
I try not to mourn those years or last year or yesterday.

We are marching on with time...and I think I'll just appreciate tonight...tonight.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The opposite of pomp

This year, I left many pissed of people in my wake, decorating for the holidays before the prescribed time.  I decorated at work the day before Thanksgiving and at home on November 30th.
I love the holidays. I love the feel of my office and my house all twinkly with lights and dangling baubles--snowmen and santa claus and reindeer.  The warmth that surrounds a Christmas decorated place is a magical thing. 
But to do so before December starts, before even our day of turkey and cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes and pumkin pie.. Well.... that's just deplorable according to some.

And now it is January 3.  Tomorrow school begins again.  Tad and I go back to work and the snow is no longer the white, fluffy thing of a winter wonderland--just another something sparkly to look at from the cozy warmth of your decorated house.  On January 3rd it's just cold and dirty and it makes you late for work.  It's a hallmark of the winter that will surely now last until sometime at the end of March and crop up again in April just when you thought it was over....

This is the day that marks the end of the holidays for me.  So I got up and made myself a cup of coffee and sat down in front of the tree to begin to UN-deck the halls. I was just holding the tenth taken-down ornament in my hand when I heard a noise from the other room.

"What are you doing?" Tad asked me in alarm.

See, as much as he wished to delay the tinsel draped yuletide season, he doesn't want to see it end.  Nor do my children.  It's like this every year.  I want to put it all up earlier than everyone and I want to take it all down earlier than everyone. 

But the decking and undecking of the halls have a thing in common.  Two sides of the same shiny golden wrapped chocolate coin you find in your stocking:  they are tasks that need to be done, scheduled in with all the other tasks that need to be done.  And I find a certain practicality in WHEN those tasks get done.  I decked before rightly I should have because it FIT INTO MY SCHEDULE... I had TIME to do so.  And so here we are. Tad is reading; the kids are watching Sunday morning television.  I'm ready to tick this task off my list of things.

But alas.  I sit here blogging because Tad convinced me to wait just a bit longer--to let the sparkly centerpiece of our living room remain for just a few more warm and cozy hours.

And then winter truly begins.