From the Drafts: On Being {over}Touched

I’ve made some promises I intend to keep, and one of those is to some friends who insist I get back into writing, and ideally sharing, on my blog. While I work towards that, I’ve decided to publish a few of the 145 drafts currently sitting in an orderly queue. I wrote this in February 2014.

Things are, of course, different then than they are now. Things have changed with me, with my body, with my marriage, with my children. But when I read this I can remember exactly how I felt when I wrote it. I thought about adding some things, making a proper ending, changing a few words. But current me can’t speak for the me that existed back then. So I’m publishing it as she wrote it. 


The other night I lay in my bed. Dave was out of town. V was tucked safely in her own room. O snoozed peacefully in her bassinet beside me. And I just lay there. On my back, arms and legs stretched out. And I just felt relief. Asked at that moment I would have said I never wanted to be touched again.

Of course that isn’t what I really want. And it isn’t possible.

I have a toddler who needs my touch. Needs a hug, needs help with a button, needs a hand to hold, a back to ride on, a leg to cling to.  Someone to stroke her hair and carry her when she is tired. She needs feet to stand on when she dances and a hand to hold the Kleenex when she blows. At 3 she is learning about privacy and autonomy, but she still feels she has rights to be on my body when she feels she needs it. The line between her body and my body is blurry in her mind.

I have a baby that needs my touch. My arms to hold her, my breast to drink from, my neck to nuzzle. To be carried by me and rocked by me and bathed by me. She needs me to clothe her and comfort her and fulfill all her needs. She is 3 months and she knows nothing about privacy or autonomy, my body is what keeps her alive. The line between her body and my body doesn’t exist.

I have a husband that needs my touch. Needs his back scratched and a shoulder to lean on and arms to hold him. He can dress himself and bathe himself and rock himself to sleep, but he still enters my space as a part of our daily life. He respects my privacy and my autonomy but wants my touch as much as I will give it.

All these things seem simple enough. A toddler who needs a hug. A baby who needs milk. A husband who needs a hand to hold. And it is simple, in some ways, but can feel quite complicated. The physical needs of those who love me are real and logical and I want to want to fulfill them. And I want to be free of them. Both the needs exist together, not only simultaneously but symbiotically. Without one, the other would not exist.

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The Least I Can Say

I could say so many things about politics in general and the American election coming up specifically. But for today, for now, just this. 

If there are immigrants, of ANY kind, living in your community, your duty as an American (or any other nationality, really) is to do NOTHING except show them kindness. You can extend that to whatever lengths you want, because kindness can mean so many things. But if you can’t muster even that, please examine yourself with honesty.
 
There are thousands of reasons why people find themselves living as an immigrant in a new place. There are endless challenges for them when they do so. It is not your job to police their behavior or their progress, it is not your job to decide if they fit in the way you want them to. It is not their job to make you feel ok about what kind of immigrant they are, that’s up to you to sort out.
 
If you find yourself saying the hateful ‘You’re in America, be like us’ you are undoubtedly both unaware of your privilege and willful in your ignorance of what it really means to be ‘American.’
 
If you find yourself saying, ‘No Lane, I like the GOOD kind of immigrants.’ you undoubtedly mean the kind that are white/educated/affluent and/or ‘most like me’ and you are missing the entire point of almost everything.
 
If you think you could even understand the breadth and depth of difficulties people may face adapting to culture, language and navigating an unfamiliar bureaucracy, you clearly have either never lived abroad and understood those challenges or have no capacity for compassion.
 
This didn’t start with Trump, but the rise of his campaign has clearly opened a door for people to voice their views and show their true selves, particularly on issues of immigration/race, in a way that they may not have felt comfortable doing before. And while he is running as a Republican, be sure that I have no illusions that the xenophobia and racism he exhorts is limited to one party or another. This is a problem, to some degree or another, in us all and for us all to confront head on.
 
Be better than this. Question your own fears and confusion. Put kindness before all other behavior. Put thought into actions.

Adulthood and Eulogy Spoilers

Hello Peers! As I think you have figured out by now, we’re adults. We’re in our 30’s, maybe we’re 40, we pay for things like life insurance and make dinner reservations for 5:30pm. This is happening. You are now an adult and the next stop is senior citizen so you might as well enjoy it.

We are at this interesting point in adulthood though, aren’t we? We aren’t young enough to find it new and fun anymore. The excitement of Living On My Own and Picking Out An Apartment and Being Able to Rent A Car or Looking Down My Nose At Teenagers has worn off. Long ago. We’re settled IN to adulthood with no end in sight, it’s all adult stuff from here on out. We know how to do all the adult things, we just don’t find it that thrilling anymore because BILLS! Am I right?

We are also, interestingly, too old to wish we were younger. I don’t wish I was 22 and neither do you. Sure we had abs and 1-day hangovers and zero gray hairs. But we were bumbling idiots with an over-inflated sense of how very little we understand in this world. Now we are calculating idiots with a finely tuned sense of how very little we understand in this world. And that feels less embarrassing and more enjoyable for the most part.

But we’re also at the stage where looking forward in time is a little scarier than it was 10 years ago, and a little less certain. Some of the harder parts about adulthood are ahead of us, or have already come upon us. We’re aging, people we love are aging, our kids are getting older, the world is getting hotter, Donald Trump is an issue that we have to concern ourselves with, I’m responsible for all these real-life things.

Recently, a some people I am close to each lost a parent. It’s painful, of course, to see someone you hold dear to lose someone they love dearly because their pain is so palpable. So real. And you can’t really help them. You want to, but you can’t, beyond the just standing there, nudging them a little and saying…this fucking sucks.

The pain of witnessing that kind of loss also hurts for selfish reasons. Because it makes you afraid. Of your own life being shaken in such a way. Of your own loss. Of the inevitability of having to feel their pain in a more literal way. You want to hold your friend’s hand while you shield your own heart, but there aren’t enough hands in the world for that.

We are young enough that losing a parent is, of course, tragic and sometimes somewhat unexpected. But we are old enough that we are supposed to act like adults about it. And that’s a very hard thing to do because while you parents might have even more gray hair than you do and you might have a mortgage, to some degree you are always their little baby and they are always the grown up. Even after you’ve grown up.

When we lose someone, like my friends lost their parents, we reflect on the love we had with them and the time we shared. My darling Liz did so with incredible grace and humor at her mother’s memorial and here on her blog. If you want to know what kind of amazing friends I have, just take that tiny peek into Liz’s heart and you’ll know. Her words moved me to tears and aggravated my fears and made me want to hop a flight to Dublin. Because that’s where she lives. And I needed a hug.

It’s important, of course, to say all the ways we love someone when someone is alive if you can. Like I know Liz did. Like I try to.

But the things we say after they are gone also have a special meaning. Because it’s the time when it’s ok to sugar coat and dust off the rose colored goggles. Because even if THEY knew how you felt, it’s the time to let everyone else have tiny glimpse of what that person was to YOU. To your heart. To your life. To share the best of the best of the things because in the end, that’s what matters. It’s what always mattered.

Chances are someone giving my eulogy won’t say ‘Lane was quite smart, liked to read…but man she was a BITCH sometimes amIright?!?’ I mean, I won’t know either way but in advance I say HOW DARE YOU! But yes, that is a true and fair statement. I’m dead though! Have some respect!

I have these terrifying flashes of fear and angst when I think of my parents aging and eventually dying. Nothing, I’m sure, compared to how they feel about it (hi guys!!!!!), but still, this is my blog so let’s make this about me for a minute. I think about what I would say if I were asked to speak, and then I ask myself ‘Have I Said It To Them Yet?’ And usually I have because I’m known for saying ALL my feelings, but sometimes I remind them. They are getting old I don’t want them forgetting.

eulogy spoilers ahead

I’d probably talk about this really awful memory I have about a time my sister and I mean-girled my dad into taking off the socks he was wearing with sandals on a family vacation. I actually almost started crying as I type that, that’s how much I still regret it. I think what ASSHOLES we were. My dad could/should have said ‘Oh really? Are my socks bothering you on this VACATION that I am PAYING for and also by the way Lane you are in the midst of a DECADE long awkward phase you ungrateful wretch!’ He didn’t though. That’s what made it so much sadder. When my sister and I talk in our private code, a ‘socks and sandals’ moments refers to anything where you were a complete and utter dickhead for no reason and you feel like shit about it. The reason I will tell this, though, is because it shows one of the BEST ever things about my dad in the he has NO MEMORY of this incident. Or if he does, he chooses not to lord it over us. Can you imagine that kind of restraint? We TRAUMATIZED ourselves with our bad behavior. Sometimes we still try to apologize for it. We re-tell the story thinking it will jog his memory and he mostly says ‘shrug’ and we go ‘DAD! We love you we are so sorry we acted that way!’ and he goes ‘I know I know, I love you too! What’s for dinner?’ The GRACE of that man and his terrible memory, I’ll always love him so much for that. He wants to move forward, he wants to be happy, he wants us to be happy, he wants us to forgive ourselves for all the things before they even happen.

I’d probably talk about how when I was in kindergarten my parents put me in the morning class. And since they were both at work when school let out, I took the city bus to my day care. I imagine sending a 5 year old as timid as I was on public transportation and think DAMN to live in 1986 was to be ALIVE! I got on the bus outside of school, I got off the bus a few feet from my daycare. Realistically, not a big deal. And you know what? My mom had a career and she loved it and was a fucking powerhouse so on the bus you go, child! I remember thinking she was a badass for that. I learned later, however, that my mom followed the bus. Like, pretty much every day. She got in her car, watched me get on the bus, followed the bus, and watched me get off. Like a very loving stalker. When I first found this out, I asked what I thought was the obvious question to mom ‘If you were going to follow me, why not just drive me?’ And she said because she knew I could do it and she wanted me to know too. And really what she was saying was that she wanted me to be brave, but that she’d never let anything happen to me. She wanted me to do things myself, but I’m never really alone. She was going to let me grow up, but I’d never get away. And I’ve never wanted to.

I’m going to try my best, as I continue to become even MORE of an adult with just INSANE amounts of gray hair, to be really graceful about it. Like just to be fine with knowing what a Roth-IRA is and to be fine with being called ‘m’am’ (!!!) and to be fine with thinking 10pm is CRAZY late to be outside of my house for any reason. These are all just facts, anyway. It’s not as though I have a choice.

The other parts, though, the life cycle stuff, is going to be harder to accept. It’s natural and it’s inevitable but it’s painful and heartbreaking and eventually all us adults will just be standing near each other during these moments, nudging, saying this fucking sucks. And that’s really, I think, all we’ll ever be able to do about it. But it’s not as though I have a choice.

 

 

On Love and Loss and Growing Up

When our first daughter was a few months old, we introduced her to her lovey. To the uninitiated, a lovey is some form of silky or soft blanket usually with the detached head of an animal attached to it…though it’s not as grotesque as I just made that sound.

I don’t know why we waited so long to introduce the lovey, probably because that was when we still held on to the idea that we had any sort of control over anything that happened in her life. Like how we checked the box in the hospital that said ‘no pacifier to be given’ only to be frantically pushing the nurse call button approximately 3 hours later while screaming ‘PACIFIER! BRING THE PACIFIER! BRING SEVERAL! HOW MANY DO YOU HAVE? BRING THOSE!’ And the pacifier lasted the next 5 years. We know nothing. We control nothing.

Anyway, after what I imagine was a 2am Google session ‘why is my baby not sleeping will I die from this’ we dug the lovey out of a box of as yet unused gifts. I would set the lovey on her, between her hands, whenever I nursed her. Which was always and infinity plus forever.

And it worked. It really worked. She fell in love with the lovey, creatively named Bunny because, well, it had a dismembered bunny head attached to the blankie part. As it turns out she was a pretty decent sleeper anyway (thanks, perspective and hindsight!) and Bunny made things even better.

Bunny had other uses as well. He soothed her in the car, a place she hated with the heat of 10,000 suns until she was almost 1 and 1/2 years old. He comforted her after shots, during a fever, after a particularly scary game of peek-a-boo. He made her smile, she stroked his silky underbelly (“the green”) and tweaked his furry topside and he came absolutely everywhere with us. And by ‘came’ I mean ‘comes’ because she is 5 and this guy still lives on, thanks to several head re-attachment surgeries done by yours truly.

It wasn’t long after we introduced her to Bunny that we realized the problem with our plan. Bunny was a gift, made by a friend, and therefore seemed special.

But that is what made him TOO special. Special as in unique. TOO unique. Literally one-of-a-kind. He was irreplaceable. And so began the still ongoing period of our lives where the only thing I keep a closer eye on in an airport than Bunny is our actual child. Children. If we were evacuating this country I’d say the only things I really need are the children and the bunny. I see those backpacks with leashes on them that people use on their kids and I think “I need this for Bunny.”

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I took both my girls, then 3 years old and 2 months old respectively, on a day trip to Tokyo in late February 2014. No one knows why I embark on these misadventures but we can only assume it’s some kind of missing piece of genetic code.

It was a sweaty, furious day of trains, Indian food and hockey games. Ves was a champ, as she tends to be on an adventure, and ran herself ragged. But at the end of the night she was tired, so tired, so as we waited for Dave to come out and take us on the team bus, she sat with her Bunny on the curb. Stroking the green, holding him with a tenderness that will bring a tear to your eye if I describe it in too much detail so I’ll spare you that.

An hour or so later, once the excitement of being on a bus with a bunch of hockey players had worn off, our big girl was over it. She wanted to get cozy and shut down. So she asked for Bunny. But he wasn’t on the seat. Or in the bag. Or my pocket. Or Dave’s pocket. Or anywhere. Dave kept up the search, but I knew after a few minutes. Bunny was gone. Lost at night. In the rain. On the streets of Tokyo.

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What ensued next was a panicked parenting brainstorming session. How do we tell her? Do we lie? Do we run to the front of the bus and jerk the wheel into a concrete barricade to end all our suffering? All options were considered.

The other import players on this bus stared on in horror, childless and unencumbered by the weight of keeping track of Bunny, but also feeling very unlucky to even be involved in this situation at all.

First they tried to ease the tension with jokes. No one was laughing.

Then they tried to comfort our child with distraction, which showed just how little they understood the gravity of it all.

Then they put their headphones in and probably said something to themselves that started with “When I have kids I’ll never…” and you know what you guys?! Famous last words. Famous. Last. Words.

We told her the truth. And she handled it how you’d expect someone to deal with the news of the loss of their best friend. She wept. Quietly. She leaned her tiny head against the glass of the bus window and lamented:

Bunny will be so lonely. It’s so dark. It’s raining.

Bunny is a part of me. How can he be gone? We are part of each other.

I love Bunny. I love him and I can’t sleep without him. 

I’m a fully formed adult with highly honed rationalization skills, yet I held back tears through burning eyes and a bit lip. Plus that last one really felt like a threat and mama is tired you guys. Mama is so tired.

On the bus was one other mother, my lovely friend Yukina. A mother who didn’t understand most of the words we were saying but understood the pain of my baby crying.

Without us knowing, she texted a friend. And her friend, who I had never met in my entire life, left her warm, dry apartment at 10pm on a Sunday night, took the subway, and embarked on a search for Bunny outside in the rain. She enlisted a security guard and his flashlight. And she found him.

SHE FUCKING FOUND HIM ARE YOU GETTING THAT!?

Yukina called to me from the front of the bus and held up her phone. On the screen was a picture of Bunny, wet and dirty and sitting on a barren table. Like a ransom photo from the next Taken movie. This anonymous savior overnighted Bunny to us the next day. No mail was ever as anticipated or appreciated.

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Almost two years later I took my girls on a trip to Seattle from Tokyo. We packed Bunny safely in the bottom of Vesper’s backpack. She checked him once, twice, before we left for the airport.

For the rest of the trip I didn’t worry about him. Because she never took him out. She slept with her sister in her arms, her hands empty. She didn’t ask for him when she got nervous in the Space Needle. She didn’t cry for him when she skinned her knee doing her signature dangerous running.

I wanted to feel free from the burden of watching over Bunny. I wanted to feel liberated from the insane amount of body odor that searching for that bastard has given me. I wanted to feel joy that she had grown up and out of Bunny in a natural way.

But I was sad. Because she’s growing up fast and she’s letting go of baby things. Because she isn’t a baby. And it’s wonderful and I’m glad but shit. Shit. Damn.

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A few days ago Vesper was having a tough one. A hard day. Numerous injustices had befallen her, mostly related to having to share with her sister and being denied cupcakes. Her nerves were already on edge when she took a spill on her scooter. And that was it. Hysteria.

I sat with her, rubbing her back, waiting since waiting is all you can really do. Finally she gathered her voice enough to say Mommy, I need Bunny.  

We dug him out of the backpack where he’d waited. She hugged him, stroked the green, took in his smell. She held him in her hands. Not the chubby, dimpled hands of a baby. But the slender, scraped up hands of a small girl. She stopped crying.

We were both happy.

 

 

Free Shrugs

*this is one of 147 drafts in my ‘drafts’ folder of this blog…Hi My Name Is Lane and I Can’t Follow Through* 

I was talking to a friend on the phone last night. Sharing our troubles and hearing her laugh and laughing myself. And I cried a little. Out of joy or pain or general confusion and overwhelming joy for how much I love this person.

Then she said “Why do I love telling you my problems? You almost NEVER give me a clear answer about what I should do.”

And we both laughed. (did I mention I’m very hilarious) Because I don’t. I’m a very helpful friend.

The truth is that I love to talk. Oh my gosh do I love to talk. But the only thing I love more than talking is listening. With brief pauses of the sound of my voice to ask more questions. I have so many questions. And if you are willing to answer them, I’d love to listen. To listen to you. I am happy to hear anything you want to tell me, and I’m even happier if you want to know what I think. I have so many ideas. To share.

If you come to me to talk something out or ask for help, I might just:

  • share my experiences, in glaring detail, many of which are likely to make you feel better about yourself
  • give advice on what I might have done, or what I might not have done, but what we probably both should have done and did not do
  • send links to articles I have read or blogs that are relevant
  • create an inspirational string of emojis just for the occasion, almost always ending with dancing-cat-twin-ladies because we are ALIVE goddamnit let’s celebrate
  • google it
  • tell you have no earthly idea what to say but man do I love you…SO much…did I mention I love you and have no idea what you should do?

It’s not that I didn’t give her cut and dried directions and advice because I don’t have strong feelings or large opinions. Oh, I have strong feelings. Feelings that come out like fire and opinions that I unintentionally deliver like a slap. I have lists of things ‘not to be believed’ and bookmarks of ‘position papers written by someone else that I could have written if I were that smart.’ Sometimes I wish, just for a moment, that I felt LESS about ANYTHING. That I just thought ‘meh’ like all the kids are texting to each other these days.

Can you imagine being that free? Global warming? meh. Equal pay? meh. Misogyny in pop music? meh.

My real answers to those issues start with !!!!!! and end with #$&*&&**@(($.

But my firmest stance can almost always be softened (just a touch) by a person possessing the patience to wait for the noise of my idea to die down enough for them to insert a logical counterpoint. A measured contradiction.

I don’t love being wrong, but I obey logic. Throw some at me, I can’t dismiss it. It’s a physical impossibility. Like gravity or me having a good hair day. Laws of nature.

I live in and for the gray area, doing my best to draw always disappearing lines in the sand of that area. I draw the lines for the joy of feeling clarity, and I watch them disappear with an appreciation for all the conversations that lay in the area of irresoluteness.

Perhaps it’s how it always has been, but there seems to be a pressure in life to be in the black and white. When almost nothing is. And instead of embracing that freedom, we cling harder to the idea of delineation. There is right and wrong. Liberal or Conservative. Breastfed or Bottles. Red Vines or Twizzlers. We push back and plug our ears when our position is questioned instead of just listening, accepting, changing and realizing that in all of the above cases all of the interesting realizations, all the juicy conversations, all the chances to show someone love and compassion, lie in the gray area. Except the licorice thing. Twizzlers are garbage don’t try to argue.

And this long convoluted explanation is the answer to why my friend comes to me to talk, to ask, to wonder, even when I don’t give her a yes or a no. A stay or a go. Because she knows, probably always knew, that there is something to both sides.

She comes for the fire of my indignation (always indignant, that’s my thing) and the freedom of my shrug.

THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! YOU SHOULD NOT STAND FOR IT! But it’s complicated…so tough…maybe just wait it out? SUCH BULLSHIT THOUGH. *confused shrug*

Available for consultations on your problems.

 

 

The Heart, Yet It Beats

Oh hi.

I’ve been absent from blogging for a while. Did you notice? (some of you did, some of you that I don’t even know so thank you for your sweet messages and concern, and some of you that I do know I’m looking at you, Brooke!)

A month became a few months became six months and more. Months that I’d love to explain away with something glamorous and adventurous.

Nothing specific comes to mind.

I went to Germany to see my sister become a mother and eat Ritter Sport to the point of nauseousness. And back to Japan to see spring begin. Then back to Michigan to dive deeper into a long Northern Michigan winter. Then a quick stop in Manitoban spring which is very akin to winter. A trip to California where it rained and I saw an Elvis Perkins concert, a jaunt to Vail where ice water was dumped on my head by the god(s) as I got ready to ride up a gondola to a fancy wedding. The short glorious summer of the UP where I sat on the porch and laid on the beach and sand was everywhere. And now I’m back in Japan again just in time for typhoon season, then off to South Korea soon to find out how spicy I can handle my cabbage based foods.

So maybe there was some adventure. And certainly plenty to write about. But for some reason I couldn’t. Or wouldn’t.

I’ve started about six posts since the last time I published anything here. I started. And stopped. Metaphorically crumpling each draft into a ball and tossing it into the corner. But nothing that came out seemed right.

Even now, inside me here is so much to say, things to share, and yet I haven’t. Couldn’t. Or wouldn’t. And what’s the difference really.

It’s not like this blog means anything much in the wider world. But it’s always been a place where I’ve come to share some slice, some tiny itty bitty slice, of all the things going on inside my mind. A place where people who know me could see me in a different way. Where people who don’t know me well get to know me better. Where people I didn’t know at all have found me and we’ve become friends.

When I was 16, I thought I was an adult. I kept a journal, an item that still exists but which is always at risk of me starting it on fire ceremoniously. I was a pretty boring kid by Lifetime Movie Network standards, but I had a lot going on in my mind. Dark, funny, complicated things that many 16 year olds probably think about but most don’t have the guts to bring up to their friends who are likely idiots. And certainly many have the sense not to write these thoughts down because it just leaves an unnecessary record of your angst.

In that journal I was annoying and used logical fallacies and waxed poetic about the texture of my hair. But I also had some incredibly insightful moments, expressed understanding of some painful truths that are best learnt early, and took joy in the beauty of the bleakness of life and existence. It was part 90210, part Kierkegaard.

Every year since then I’ve become less confident in my adultness, more accepting of the texture of my hair. I’ve trained myself to recognize logical fallacies and I’ve never felt more joy about the beautiful bleakness as I do now. And even though no one would accuse me of holding back my feelings very often, as an actual adult I also haven’t had the pleasure to regularly be as me as the me in that journal. To lay it all out there unapologetically. Without being self conscious. To give the same credence to matters of ‘does Jeff like me?’ (he didn’t) as to the concern of our inevitable mortality (pretty inevitable). I wrote about the genius of putting Seaquest DSV and Earth 2 back to back on Sunday night TV (if you don’t know what I’m talking about you basically wasted 1994 and you can never get it back) and on the next page wrote hundreds of words about the way industrialized countries thrived on third world slavery. Since the demises of that journal, I didn’t have that kind of expressive freedom.

Except for every now and then. In this blog. Silly as that may sound.

And quickly and quite easily the days, weeks and months crept by and the blog seemed dead. Just like the journal, maybe I outgrew it. Maybe it no longer served the purpose I needed it to. So I left it, rarely ever logged in, considered the 140 drafts to be ghosts and the hundreds of posts that already exist to be fossils.

But here I am. So what changed?

Nothing. Or everything. Who even knows the difference. Maybe the blog is dead, and this is just me doing CPR on a corpse. But that journal, as amazing and hilarious and painful and generally humiliating as it can be, is a nice record to have. I can’t remember why I stopped writing, but I know I tried for a long time to keep it up even after it didn’t come as easily anymore. And in some of those entries that I had to squeeze out there are some quality moments. And I’m glad I have them.

So just in case, here goes. Consider this the chest compressions. 

A Little Bit Weird

It can be really easy to get bogged down in the daily work of parenting. It’s incredibly difficult and incredibly boring all in one breath. Your child is amazing creature who inspires wonder in one moment and demon spawn who inspires homicidal rage the next. My hair is never combed and I’m far too involved in the plot lines of Peg + Cat. Insert meme about stepping on legos and eating cold pasta over the sink.

But once in a while, sometimes even every day, you get a chance to take the long view for a moment. To just step back and see an actual human being developing and creating and becoming. And it is god damn amazing if I do say so. To see the wild free beast we all are before we get hammered down a bit.

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I had this awkward stage that lasted approximately one…DECADE. Not one year, one entire decade. (at this point in the story my sister would add “or so.”) At the time I believed it was because I was a little odd and a bit volatile and there was always the issue of WTF is going on with my hair. Subsequently I made things more awkward by trying to hide the oddness and dampen the volatility and somehow conceal the texture of the hair.

I laugh about it now because I’m almost 15 years out of that stage and because I can see the pictures and I do have a sense of humor and weeping about your Birkenstocks with sandals phase makes you seem pathetic. But at the time it occasionally made me quite sad. And led me to act in ways that were not in alignment with my own beliefs. I know because I kept a journal that I wrote while dictating aloud to my cat who I believed was the only being who understood the true me. For real.


One of my biggest parenting goals is to make sure my kids are as weird as they want to be. As weird as they feel inside. I now wear my weirdness on the outside, and not in an ironic hipster way like Smurfy winter hats worn in summer and bacon flavored ice cream. I simply just put it out there. I let ME out. My strange jokes. The voices that go with certain phrases. The way my volume and my blood pressure raise when discussing certain topics. I do it because it feels good and because I want my kids to see the joyful irreverence that comes with that kind of openness.

I hope they can do the same. I hope they can do it earlier and more often than I have. I hope they don’t spend a decade (or so) trying to figure out where to put the things they don’t know how to make fit. I know that if I accomplish this they will, at times, maybe need to write sad thoughts in a journal. {note to self: adopt empathetic cat}


Vesper is a child of the digital age and therefore loves taking pictures. She uses the world selfie like it’s the most normal thing you could do. She adds filters expertly. She holds the DSLR in her hands, dimpled knuckles tightly clenched, focusing in on her subject.

She recently told me that when she takes pictures she can decide what to call them based on the way someone is looking at her through the lens. She, essentially, writes captions. There is a picture of her from almost 3 years ago pinned to the wall near where I work at home, she told me it says ‘What do I do with all these teeth?’

A picture of her holding her little sister from the summer is telling her ‘Babies can’t sit up but we can help them.’ A picture of my sister on her wedding day says ‘Fancy things make her happy and we are pretty when we are happy.’

While we were visiting my sister recently, she took a picture of her newest cousin and told me he was thinking ‘It’s cold out here.’ I think she meant at the park where she took the picture, but shit if that isn’t just the motto of life. Everyone’s life.

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She took a picture of me in the hotel room a few weeks ago. She made me take my earrings off. She had me put my sunglasses on. She told me not to ‘let my teeth show.’ When I asked her what she thought about the title of that picture she said ‘a little bit weird.’ Yes honey, just a little bit.

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