Sunday, March 28, 2010

lucky number 7

Your Laughter by Pablo Neruda
Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

Tomorrow is my seventh wedding anniversary, and tonight while we were getting the kids ready for bed, Steve jokingly asked me what happened to us.  We went from spending our days and nights in relative ease – hanging out, dining out, enjoying good conversation and lazy Sunday afternoons.  Seven years ago tonight I was stumbling dancing to “White Wedding” on the bar at the Peanut after our rehearsal dinner.  Tonight, we were talking to Lucy about pooping. I think it’s safe to say that our life has changed.
The night I met my husband, I was dragged out by my then roommates, Julie and Kathy.  They wanted to watch a Chiefs football game and I had just flown home from New York where I had been with family after the death of my grandfather.  I didn’t want to go out – didn’t really even want to leave the house, but the girls picked out the clothes I would wear and told me to get my ass in the shower.  The bar where Steve was bartending that night was a last resort for us – after we found no place to sit at our normal hang out, I wanted to go home and they wanted to try one more place.  I’m so glad they did.  Later that night, after I stuck green beans in my nose and stole a bunch of firewood (please do not ask me to explain this), I gave my phone number to the boy who would become my husband.  After our first date, I came home, shut the door, and announced that I would marry him someday.
I’m not going to pretend that our life is all wine and roses.  It’s WAY more wine than it is roses, but I made a good choice and I married a good man.  I hope that we are teaching our girls that love knows no limits, speaks no particular language, and accepts strange obsessions with old British sci-fi shows and comic books.  Love is being able to talk about poops – it’s about laughter.

Monday, March 22, 2010


My cousin Amanda gave birth today to her third child – her first girl!  Our family happily welcomed baby Harper with open arms…even these arms that won’t get to hold her for several months!  My cousin and I are very close, we talk in some way (email, phone, Facebook) at least weekly if not daily, and I feel like we are very much a part of each other’s lives even though she lives in Chicago and I am in Kansas City.  Today, while I waited with bated breath for news of Harper’s arrival, I thought a lot about cousins. 
Recently, I’ve gotten to “know” two first cousins of mine via Facebook.  It’s a strange way to get to know someone, particularly a blood relative.  But when the opportunity arose, I took it, thinking mostly that if my grandparents were still alive they would agree it’s pretty great that someone or something has finally connected us.  I don’t feel like the details matter so much to the back-story, but some family drama (what else?) led to my sister and me to not ever meet some of our relatives.  I never thought that much about it until I started learning more about them. I have to say, getting to know someone through Facebook status updates is pretty unusual…and fairly difficult.  But these people are my first cousins – and I just can’t get my mind around not knowing anything about their entire lives until now. 
It is unfathomable to me that in the same day I can have one cousin who gives birth and I nearly cry because I can’t be there, and I have other cousins whom I barely know anything about.  Suffice it to say that it’s a weird feeling.  I’m sure most people would just figure that it is what it is and they’d move on, but I feel like this connection was made for a reason and I feel like it’s important for us to know each other in some way.  Even if we have to muddle through the fart jokes to get there. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

blessed are the peacemakers

This morning I attended the baptism of several babies and children – one was the daughter of my best friend and her husband. Another was my best friend’s niece - the daughter of her brother and his wife.  I love the sacrament of baptism in the Presbyterian Church – I might like them in other churches, too, but I don’t recall ever attending one, so who knows?  One of the things I remember most about my own girls’ baptisms is the part where the minister says something like “…all this is for you – and you don’t even know it yet.” There is something quite touching about babies not knowing the depth and breadth of God’s love. 
I’m not attending a particular church right now – for many reasons – but I always get a bit choked up during ceremonies like these.  I suppose it’s the tradition and ritual of it that reminds me no matter how far or long I’m gone from church, some things remain the same. I find comfort in that, and perhaps that is way this morning I got teary-eyed while watching my two friends’ babies being baptized.  Perhaps it was also that I couldn’t help thinking about the sheer amount of stuff that these two families have experienced in the past year: divorce, the deaths of a mother, a dear friend and a grandfather. Long before this year, my friend and her brother lost their father, and I always get teary thinking about how he didn’t get the opportunity to witness these sacraments and how proud he would be of both of his children.
My friend asked us to be a part of this day so that one day we could help tell her daughter about her baptism.  I have trouble remembering what happened yesterday, but I will try to help her when the time comes.  And I hope that one of the things I can tell her about this day is how many people came together for her, and how many people love both her and her cousin.  There is something to be said about the way that babies bring people together and how, if only for one day, people put all sorts of things behind them for the sake of a child.   
During the sermon today, the same one where, midway through, my 4 year-old daughter says “Mom! This man is a talking machine!” the minister talked about the Beatitudes and about the peacemakers being called the “children of God”. It occurred to me that indeed, children are peacemakers for many families, this one included. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

selling myself...short?

Recently I’ve been updating my resume.  Initially I did this to submit with my application to the Greater Kansas City Writing Project (I got in, y’all – hooray for writing!) but when I was writing my cover letter, I started thinking about how hard it is for me to talk myself up.  I’m almost 35.  I thought I was far away from the days of insecurity and false advertisement.  I mean, I think at this age you get what you get.  I might have been able to sell you something different or flashy ten years ago, but not today…not only would you not believe it, I don’t have the energy anymore to pretend I’m someone I’m not.  I got really frustrated putting my resume together because for a potential employer, it looks on paper as if I’ve not really done very much with my life.  I’ve had two jobs that are worthy of noting in my resume – as much as I learned from bartending and waiting tables, I don’t think they have much to do with writing or who I am now in my life.  The rest of my time? I’ve spent much of it in school – man, UMKC should thank me for all the money I’ve dumped at them just for being a nerd.  Here is what I would like to share on my resume that I can’t or won’t:  I gave birth.  That should be worthy of note, I think.  I had a med student shove a foot long needle in my spine and then I gave birth. BIRTH…you know, birth. Twice.
I nursed my babies and changed their diapers and got up with each of them multiple times a night. One of my girls (I won’t name names, Lucy) didn’t sleep through the night until she was 13 months old. We were so excited when she finally did that I got knocked up again. I have cleaned up barf and poop and boogers and more spilled food and drink than I would care to recall.  I have read Goodnight Moon 1,368 times.  I can cook the shit out of a chicken nugget.  I am the mother of a child who has food allergies and because of that I have learned more about food and nutrition than I care to share. Seriously, I am a plethora of ridiculous food based knowledge. I can multitask like nobody’s business. I can talk on the phone while changing a diaper and cooking dinner and wiping a nose.  I wash my hands 68 times a day.  I make a good princess and an even better superhero. I can drive safely while two children sing at the top of their lungs to Lady Gaga. I can name every one of the Seven Dwarves, all of Dora’s friends (even that crazy taxi driving squirrel) and, sadly, I know what happens in every Disney movie released in the past three decades.  I can make a mean glass of super chocolatey chocolate milk.  I give fantastic hugs.
I started to get down on myself when I was looking at my resume and at what I considered my lack of experience, but then I just got irritated that I couldn’t figure out how to include any of the stuff I just listed without sounding crazy.  It looks on my resume like I spent much of my adult life unemployed.  When, in reality, I work for two of the biggest hard-asses around.  I’m going to teach them how to talk their mama up, because I should use my girls as references.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 the corners of my mind

Memory is such a strange thing.  If you ask three different people to describe a certain event, there is no doubt that you will have three different answers.  It happened today over lunch: my dad, my sister and I were recalling the morning of September 11, 2001.  I don’t want to detail any of those events here, suffice it to say if there was one day I would like to never revisit, it would be that one. What I found interesting in the conversation we had is that each of us remembered different things about that morning: phone calls, emails, meeting as a family at my sister’s house – but we all agreed that the details have become more and more blurry as the years pass.  I often see bumper stickers that say something to the affect of “9/11 – we will never forget” but the irony in those stickers is that forgetting is inevitable – we just do. 
It got me thinking about things that happened in my past and how those memories that struck me at the time as so very important have faded over time.  Like the memory of my second grade teacher, Mrs. Levin, and how she instilled in me a love of reading; but mostly it started with a game she played where we got prizes for the number of books we read. I really just wanted the prizes, never realizing until much later that my love of books would be the true prize.  There’s the memory of being 16 and having my heart broken for the first time. Really and truly broken.  Oh, the angst…I can almost reach out and touch it if I think about it too much – but dragging out those memories has become harder over time for me. 
I wish I could remember the sound of my grandmother Bloom’s voice – she lost her voice box to throat cancer and the last seven years of her life were spent speaking through a stoma in her throat. But I can still hear my grandfather saying, “Katerino!” (he would draw out the last O for what seemed like minutes) whenever I arrived to visit – I can hear that voice like he’s in the next room even though he’s been gone almost 10 years. I wish I could remember exactly what happened the night I met my husband…bits of it are as clear as day, but not everything.  And the one that has always baffled me are the memories of childbirth. I always say that if women remembered everything, we’d all only have one child – but there are moments from both of my girls’ births that are fuzzy at best.
Among other issues, my mother has some sort of dementia.  Her memory is different from day to day and while now she is very lucid, it’s unclear how that will progress.  I can’t think about memory without thinking about how she must feel and how scary it must be to actually lose memories.  Because, even though I struggle with the details of them, I can still remember important things.  The brain doesn’t seem to be very picky about what we remember or what we don’t. I have as much trouble fetching the fantastic memories as I do the ones I’d rather leave forgotten.  I suppose after so many years of life the brain is so full of memories it squeezes out the old to make room for the new.