Posted tagged ‘emotion’

indulgence

January 17, 2011

“Sorry, no matinée today”.

I’m on a “mummy date” with my five-year old. We’re supposed to see a show about paleontology. Not happening. We’re at the planetarium on campus and the building is empty. It’s creepy. We stand in the lobby for a minute; discussing why it’s called a matinée and why it’s canceled. I’m trying to think what else we can do to make the 45 minute car ride worthwhile. The Children’s museum closes in less than an hour. It’s bitter cold. We had a snack in the car, so an early dinner is out. I’m not familiar enough with the city to quickly come up with ideas and my limited search via cell phone isn’t helpful.

Sweet child needs to pee, so we travel a few deserted hallways to find the restroom. He’s giving me a what for because it’s the women’s room. I tell him the sign on the stairway door across from this restroom says that the men’s room is in the basement. Not an option. He gives me squinty eyes and heads for the stall. A few seconds later, I hear him mumbling at first, then louder, “oh you can’t be serious!” It sounds exactly like when my mother says it. I’m smiling, despite that he’s obviously in some kind of mild distress. “Hey, pal, everything okay?”

Suffice to say, he’s pissed, literally, and I’m doing my best not to laugh about it. He’s giving me a commentary fit for the stage about how it happens that a five-year old, *practically grown!* can end up with pee on his pant leg.

We clean up as best we can. I’m trying to figure out how to salvage our “special” time together. I decide the only thing to do is to visit the toy store and find some ice cream, despite January in Maine. What else?  Off we go and within minutes we are lost in the world of toy store. Puppets. Kites. Model dinosaurs and dragons, books, games, wooden trains and play kitchen. He’s holding a couple of fierce dinosaurs, Utahraptor? Ovaraptor? He knows what it is. The other is a Velociraptor and I’m sure about it. “Mum, you know my birthday is just around the corner”, he says. “You can get one now, honey.” I say. “Oh, no. I could never decide which one”. I sneak them both to the sales clerk and ask her to set them aside. “Well, you can choose something for now” and he does, a glow in the dark skeleton pirate who rides a monster crab and carries a sword and a pistol. Not my favorite of his choices, but it assuages my disappointment about the day. We buy some board books for a friend and a craft kit for another friend’s birthday. We buy a WWII era plane with a red propeller. It’s about 3″ long and fastens to a bike handle. We decide it’s the closest we’ll get to making the airplane and history obsessed big brother’s dreams of owning a plane come true. I buy myself a craft kit, too, realizing fully that I will have zero time to start it anytime soon. I can’t help myself though.

I’m carrying the toy store loot, including the birthday surprise dinosaurs; we decide to take a walk. I’m looking for ice cream but I don’t say anything to the kid. It’s super chilly but we’re laughing as we walk. He takes my hand and pulls ahead of me, pretending to be a dog. I pull him back playfully and say “heel” as I did with our pup. Several times, I automatically call him by the dog’s name, which he finds hysterically funny. I don’t even realize I’ve done it! I’m noticing every detail as we walk. The smell of garlic from a restaurant. The wind whipping up tears and stealing my breath. The weight of the toys in the bag on my arm. The press of his hand against mine, warm in our mittens. The little upward pitch at the end of his giggle.

Turn the corner and we’re at the most wonderful “authentic” Italian gelato shop. The kid has no clue but I realize we’ve hit a jackpot. I order coconut and he orders something–I can’t remember the Italian name for it–translated, it means “deliciousness combined with chocolate deliciousness to make supreme deliciousness”. He shares, as long as I use my own little spoon, which is purple. His is pink, but he insists it’s orange. We have the discussion again about how there are no “boy” colors and no “girl” colors but he squints again and I know he’s the king of discipline for holding his tongue.

He takes his skeleton pirate out of the box and immediately starts the giggle. “Lookit this mullet, mum!” I’m about to ask what he knows about mullets when I remember showing both of my boys some prime hair band videos from the 80s just a few nights earlier. When was the last time you watched “Jump” by Van Halen followed by Ratt, Poison, Motley Crue and Warrant? Try telling those guys there are “boy” colors and “girl” colors!! We get a kick out of the skeleton mullet and he’s happy playing for a minute. I’m eavesdropping on the people next to me, savoring each bite of coconut deliciousness, when I realize that this beautiful boy of mine is not -so- quietly singing, “she’s my cherry pie, dunn nan na na naaaa na na” over and over while he’s lost in monster crab play. Okay, so the Warrant video was a huge mistake. I’m sure he’ll take it up in therapy when he’s older.

As we’re cleaning up our table and putting the toys away, he says, “Mum, what do pirates have to do with Jesus?” I can’t come up with anything appropriate quickly enough so I ask why he asks. “I just always think of Jesus when I think of pirates.” No idea. I know I’m giving him a dumb look but I’m caught between marveling at his comment and the sheer joy of this very moment. A few seconds later, “mum, do you know why the universe is here?” I wait, he’s not finished. “No, not the universe, I mean earth. Do you know why earth is here?” This is not a question he expects me to answer. He expects me to say, “no, honey, why is earth here?”, which I do. “So the moon has someone to appreciate it.” The dumb look again but now I’m just giddy smiling. He doesn’t miss a beat. Takes a deep breath and lets it out. “Mum, this was the worst day of my life. No movie, no paleontology. I thought for sure people would be near me and [he breathes deeply through his nose and then gives a few short sniffs with his face a crinkled in mock disgust] ‘oh man, why does that big kid smell of pee?’… but it’s not the worst day. I got a cool toy. I got that yummy European ice cream, what’s it called again? and nobody sniffed me.”I’m nearly crying now, just so in love with this boy, this moment.

As we leave, he takes off his mitten and puts his hand into mine. We’re quiet as we walk along, trying to remember where we left the car. A perfect day.

unexpected

November 11, 2010

It’s raining

Years of drought: ending

I’m afraid of the floods

Packed, unyielding earth

Not yet ready to accept

The blessings

Water flows; forms rivers

Pathways, puddles

Which soothe and cleanse

Create space

Where the earth was

Cracked

Fissures now floodgates, relenting

In the rain

Softening. Suddenly,

Fear gives way to

YES

and here I am

Dancing instead of

Drowning

a year of live music

October 18, 2010

Big Head Todd and the Monsters brought me back to life.

It wasn’t that I was without music.  My house was full of music: songs on the radio, kids singing in the backseat, lullabies while rocking the baby and my own voice, full of song and sound.  It had just been ages since I’d seen a show live.  I didn’t even realize how much I was missing it until that February night at the Paradise in Boston.

The Paradise is a funky, intimate club.  In my memory, everything has an aura of red: the stage lights, the carpet, the chair cushions.  We found a spot along the rail to the left of the stage, crowded, dark, loud.  Big Head Todd and the Monsters have been playing live together for a long time; they are tight onstage.  The man I was with had been doing his best for months to hold me together with kisses while things within me fell apart.  He stood behind me, arms around me.  We danced with the crowd as lyric, melody, bass combined to create that mystery of energy we call music. I closed my eyes. Connected for a moment to these strangers; Big Head Todd the thread tying us together, having fun and grateful for it.  There, in that moment, I came fully into myself for the first time in far too long for memory.

Thus began the year of live music.

Next was Leo Kottke; phenomenally talented on the guitar. A pleasure in itself.  It is his storytelling, though, which blows my mind.  His guitar becomes an extension of his words and wit as he plays and sings and weaves tales I don’t want to end.

Then came Alison Krauss and Robert Plant with T. Bone Burnett, supporting their incredible collaboration. I’d gotten tickets for my son for his eleventh birthday. I love Alison Krauss and live, she is brilliant. It was Robert Plant, though, who made me giddy.  Both Zeppelin fans, my son and I, struck speechless by his version of “When the Levy Breaks”. Well, we just stood dumbfounded throughout the show, disbelieving the chemistry and joy of the whole affair.  After the show my son told me “until my own children are born, seeing Robert Plant will be the highlight of my life”.  The man has still got “it”–that charisma and voice.  Combined with T. Bone and Alison Krauss, “it” was magic, indeed!

I spent that summer going to local shows in Gloucester.  I was in love with a bassist and those shows were less about the music and more about friendship and romance.  We had an awesome party full of music when the guys from Brian Wilson’s band came to visit overnight.  We played a game trying to stump one very talented encyclopedia of music named Probyn and gave up when he busted out a perfect version of “My Pal Foot Foot” by the Shaggs.

I took my best friend to see George Michael that summer.  It was a birthday gift for her, which was really just a gift to myself!  One of my guilty pleasures, George Micheal, creating the backdrop to time spent with one of my favorite people.  George Michael holds nothing back: enormous light show, video, sixteen piece band with six back up singers.  He’s all fun and light.  We danced in our seats and screamed like teenagers.

Then there was Weezer and every moment was nostalgia and present thrill all in one.  Not long after, I spent a fortune for floor seats to the Killers. That was just a party I’d attend every day if I could.

I reconnected with a dear friend who is an incredible singer and songwriter and spent lots of time at local pubs and venues drinking Guinness and singing along. Mercuryhat is the soundtrack to memories of girls’ night out with some of my favorite people; laughter and connection and a platform for loving and being loved exactly as we are.

And I realize that as much as I love creating and hearing and seeing and participating in music, as much as I would wither without it, it is just this which truly brings me to life: the connection. Music as a pathway to time and place, memory and emotion, yes. But also, music itself creating the energy which draws me in with my eyes closed and my heart open; having fun and grateful, tied to the moment, loving and being loved.

10 things

October 7, 2010

10 Things Which Make Me Happy

1. My children. Deeply happy in that “I can’t believe how blessed I am that I get to parent these incredible beings” kind of indescribable way. That “this is love in its purest form for me” way.

2. M&Ms. How can I go from #1 above to candy coated little chocolates? Easy. It’s pure pleasure, an m&m. The little clinky noise they make when poured into a bowl. The little rush of chocolate after a tiny snap of crunch. The bright colors. The way they are fantastic on their own but also amazing mixed with cookie dough or ice cream or peanut butter. Oh, yes. M&Ms.

3. Music. The way it invades the soul without asking, creating connection to memory, time, place, present. The way it evokes emotion or carries lyric as though musician and listener are sharing an intimate secret. The way it can prompt action: laugh, party, shake it, shake it, shake it, let go and belt it out off-key if you must.

4. Gardens. More specifically, my hands in the soil. No– any gardens, because even looking at photographs of gardens zones me out. Color, texture, scent, taste. The task of planting a seed, saying a blessing over it and watching as it transforms: joy divine. The task of weeding or digging or hauling rocks taps into some internal bliss akin to religious rapture. Hallelujah.

5. Friends. I have the best collection of inspiring, creative, accomplished, devoted, loyal, loving, fun and funny friends. They nurture me. They heal me. They bless me with their presence, true presence in my life. They honor me with their trust. They crack me up. They remind me what is beautiful and right about connection and love.

6. Words. Serendipity, Avocado, Scootch. Sounds and symbols together creating meaning, which we then convey with voice or pen or keyboard. Conversation and connection and lyric and poetry and understanding.

7. Food. The way it can be central to the experience of connection. Yes, it literally nourishes. The act of preparing and sharing becomes nourishing. “Let me feed you” moves into a metaphor for giving of self. Levels of satisfaction from the genuine pleasure of tasting a perfect strawberry to the craft of creating flavors and textures to the delight of hearing “oh my gosh, this is amazing” when a friend bites into a lovingly prepared meal.

8. Laughter. Yes, of course, if I’m laughing it must be because I’m happy, right? But I’m talking about hearing others laugh, especially about sharing a laugh. The kind of satisfaction that comes from creating a laugh response from someone else “oh yeah, you get it”. It’s validating, “I’m funny!” It’s genuine pleasure. It tickles.

9. Water. Being near the ocean calms me like nothing else, even when the ocean shows its power. It’s like instant savasana. Primal. Lakes, rivers, puddles, even rainfall–pleasure within. The liberation of swimming underwater: quiet, dark, cool, a little mysterious and complete joy.

10. Clean sheets. Oh my gosh! Sliding into a well-made bed. Cool sheets (line dried and smelling of sunshine?!), letting go of the cares of the day surrounded by comfort and pleasure, a hug shepherding me into sleep. Bliss!

night terror

October 3, 2010

To shake you awake from this nightmare

Or scream you awake

Screams of my own terror

You’re going to kill yourself

You won’t stop

Until you’re dead.

I cannot

bear the thought nor can I

hold you as a child; when everything was somehow

simple

Even though that is a lie.

Chaos, insecurity, scarcity

I know my own version of that story

Everyone does-

Well, everyone we’ve loved, anyway

And the cruelest lesson of all:

Love cannot save you because you won’t

Give it to yourself

I cannot love you enough to make you

happy, content, peaceful

Though I would tear out my own heart

Just to give you one minute of

knowing

waves

September 26, 2009

What is it about the ocean? 

I woke up in a funk this morning.  I was feeling fragile and working hard not to begin the day in a mess of tears.  There was no reason.  It’s grief or it’s happiness or it’s fear or it’s gratitude; doesn’t matter.  In those moments, I struggle to stay present lest I be lost in emotion.  Then in other moments, I am so present I get overwhelmed.  There is no balance between grace and the horrors of this world.  Grace always wins. 

I had the good fortune of being near the ocean this morning.  Sky and water bouncing into each other in a dance of fluid light. Soft sand still warm enough for bare feet, defying the coming of fall. Waves, the constant motion,fall09 069 a lullaby. I had an urge to fling myself onto the ground and make angels in the sand.  I think it was a desire to hold the earth and sea with gratitude for its gifts.  There is an indescribable peace in such moments.

When I was five, my sister Debbie took me into the waves at York Beach.  She was twelve.  I worshiped her.  The waves were solid, bone-numbing they were so cold, huge.  Debbie took me out to where they were breaking and held me in front of her. She would yell to me “here comes a rumbler, get ready!”  I was terrified and thrilled as a wall of water well over my head crashed with enough force to knock us both backward.  We tumbled in the white water.  Sometimes, she would hold onto me all the way in and we would end up in a heap on the shore.  Most of the time, we got thrashed violently; held down and spun like seaweed so that we couldn’t tell which way was up until we were thrown onto the sand.  I learned to surrender to the waves.  Fear gave way to thrill once I realized that eventually, I would crash onto the beach, find my breath, stand on solid ground. 

I realize now–this memory, which I love so well, is part of what binds me to the ocean.  On the surface, it is me and my beloved sister playing on a summer day.  It is innocence and laughter.  It is me trusting my sister, without question, enough to allow her to hold me facing waves: scary and uncontrollable.  It is learning to allow the ocean to cradle me as it overpowered me.  It is understanding that eventually, it would deliver me to solid ground.

Deeper, this memory, like the ocean, sustains me. I am drawn to both.  At the beach, I cannot be trapped in my head.  There is no will or need to cope or to seek or to struggle.  Some part of that five year old surfaces and I am trusting and innocent and allowing the ocean to carry me.  I see now that it was up to me to determine how long I waited on the shore and recovered my breath and balance before I went right back into those waves.  I see now how it has become a metaphor for life.  My anguish, my questioning…the tender ache of life’s bittersweet blessings…grief, happiness, fear, gratitude:  I am learning again to trust that each wave will eventually return me to solid ground as long as I surrender to it.

Plum-Pit Chi

August 25, 2009

I was told I have Plum-pit Chi.  It’s in my throat, as though I’ve swallowed a pit and it’s lodged there.  I can breathe around it, but it gurgles and strangles my voice.  It is grief.  It is too much of this and not enough of that.  It is my head and my heart trying to meet in the middle somewhere and becoming caught at the back of my throat; so that my intellect and my emotions simmer and churn and ache for release in the form of anxiety. 

I once choked on a chocolate croissant.  Sitting across the table from my two year old, I took a flaky bite and then took a breath to say something to him.  Instant panic: no air in or out.  No sound.  No control.  I’m going to die at my favorite bakery right in front of my toddler, I thought.  He didn’t notice.  I stood up and walked to where the bakery owner was stocking the beverage cooler.  Squatting there, she was  looking up with a smile as if she was about to speak, until she saw that I was holding my throat-that “international sign for choking” and I’m not kidding because I’m scared to death and it’s palpable.  Immediately, she came behind me, wrapped her arms around my ribs and heaved as hard as she could.  I shook my head “no”.  She heaved again, lifting me off the ground, which is saying something considering I am easily four or five  inches taller than she is.  I shook my head, “no”.  Heave and pause and I waved my hand because something shifted and I felt I might be able to cough.  Yes.  I coughed and it shifted a little more so I tried to take a breath.  She still had her arms around me, ready to heave again.  I was silently crying and praying and yes, breathing.  I nodded my head yes and she released me.  I still could not speak around the chunk of pastry in my throat.  A small breath and I coughed so hard I thought I might vomit.  It was involuntary and just as scary as no air at all was.  It finally subsided and I spoke.  My voice was unrecognizable: raspy, raw, weak.  Thank you, I whispered to her. Gratitude. I took a few more tentative breaths.  She hugged me hard and we both cried, which finally completely dislodged the damned buttery flake of death.  All of this transpired in the time it took for my mother to put cream and sugar in her coffee and walk ten feet to the dining room. She came in, saw me holding onto the baker, saw us crying.  “What’d I miss”?, she asked in her beautiful nonchalant way. 

My Chi, caught in my throat, reminds me not to take my breath for granted. It reminds me to breathe with intention.  I imagine breathing in calm, strength, light.  I imagine it filling my entire body; absorbing the things within me which do not serve me and then releasing those effects to the universe as I breathe out.  It helps.  It offers momentary respite from fear and grief and questions.  It is a spiritual Heimlich of sorts and it saves me over and over again.  Those tentative breaths, that unrecognizeable voice:  they are mine, telling my story and always, always, saying Thank You.