Tuesday, March 29, 2011


When I was almost sixteen, I went to live with my dad. Things were falling apart in my life, and I was a broken person. I felt very small and very lost. My voice seemed buried under a web of lies and destruction--all self created. My dad's place was the only place left for me as I had busily burnt lots of bridges, and was unwilling, and perhaps a bit unable, to build them back up. My dad was gone a lot as was my step mom so the one summer I had there was pretty lonely. There was a big husky dog that I became attached to, and the garden.

My dad drove truck but I think at heart he was a farmer (still is). When I was little, he had a farm in the County with land, a small barn, and a wonderful old farm house. He was planting organic crops long before it became trendy. I used to read his issues of Mother Earth News. He planted a garden that summer even though he was on the road most of the time, and it became my job to look after that small plot of vegetables. I watered the growing plants, picked worms and bugs off of the leaves, weeded. It was hard work, and I grumbled but the grumbling was more a pretense. There was something important about keeping those young plants alive, and it became a way to keep myself alive.

As the years went on, I begin to dream of the city. The academic life beckoned to me and I forgot about plants. I created a person who did not like the earth or to grow things. I embraced a self that loved the city and the conveince of buying food in markets. I cracked jokes about that garden that summer even though those jokes made me cringe a bit inside. I never told anyone how it was maybe that garden that kept me from killing myself that lonely summer.  As I had children and became more concerned about our food, I made some tentative plans to grow things but I always let it fall away. I sometimes gave voice to my longings for maybe a small farm someday.

When we found the small house, I was very excited to see plots in the front and back yards. I began to make plans for flower bed, herb circles, and vegetable plots. I was hurting and again the call to grow something in the dirt seemed a way to heal (not I should add that I want to die, this pain is very different). I decided to start early and grow some things in containers on our patio. And as I nurtured the tiny seedlings and then replanted them in pots, I felt the calming prayer that came with each little bit of hope.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Year of Pleasures 11

My beautiful old carrier, the one that carried Piper, had a big rip in the front. It didn't effect the integrity of the carrier but the carrier itself was starting to do a number on my back. Piper had not wanted to be worn much past six months whereas R loves being carried and loses all kinds of cool in the stroller. I wanted to start walking as well and since that is only likely to happen with R I had to figure out a way to carry her that wasn't going to destroy my back.

Enter the structured carrier. I have friends who swear by them but I didn't care for the look. They seemed too bulky and too...well, structured. I was a big fan of rolling my Mei Tai into a ball and tossing it into my diaper bag. I felt like they were more like the back pack carriers and that they would feel awkward being worn while doing dishes.

But then came R's escape attempt. My dear baby managed to get her foot on one of the straps that go around my waist, and using that as leverage she pushed herself up and out of the carrier. Luckily Umberto was behind me and held onto her while I got the sling off. It really freaked me out and I didn't use the sling with any kind of comfort afterwards. I asked for recommendations and kept getting "Becco." A structured carrier.

After looking at the Becco it was clear that it was designed to keep a baby inside. I knew I'd feel secure having her in a back carry (by far my favorite carry). There were other structured carriers out there but I like the looks of the Becco Gemini. It has several attractive features including a side carry option. It is designed to work from newborn to toddler. It has this option head rest that can be snapped down in case baby wants to check out the world. I swallowed deeply and ordered the carrier (it wasn't cheap).

I got it yesterday and it's amazing. Everything I wanted. I couldn't believe how comfortable it was and R loved it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Domestic Ginger Fails Again

My imagined alter ego, Domestic Ginger, is exiting almost purely in the imagination. At times she makes an appearance and sweeps through our apartment with super like powers but mostly I just stomp her down. Today for instance. I got up with great intentions but I foolishly got on the computer, got wrapped up in some issue and before I knew it it was late. I did make my grocery list and responded to some students but really I did nothing. Now R is asleep on my lap and I need to shower and get to the store before five. And as usual I sit here feeling guilty, lazy, and unmotivated.

Why oh why Ginger can you just not be productive? There are so many excuses. R hasn't really slept in three days so I'm tired. I'm emotionally upset about a few things and just want to sort of stew in my misery over them. I feel done with the old house and want to move onto the new. I feel like then I can start a whole new life in which I will be super motivated and June Cleaver like.

Over the weekend I did an experiment where I didn't get on the computer until the evening. It was kind of awesome how much I got done. But it also sucked because cleaning all day is not my idea of a good time. But I kept thinking that if I could just motivate myself to do this each day it wouldn't take all day because things wouldn't reach critical mass of nastiness.

But I stopped doing it Monday. In my own defense I did need to be on the computer in order to get some work done. And of course once I got on, I had to partake of my crack book addiction. And now it's Wednesday and my house is trashed again.

This is the story of my life in some many ways, and I can't help but wonder if this laziness is the reason why I didn't get accepted to a Ph.D program. And it sort of haunts me each time I look at the papers scattered over the floor, or the books that R just pulled off the shelf. Perhaps if I wasn't such a lazy scholar I would be happily looking forward to a starting a program. If I had studied to the GREs, actually applied myself I might have scored higher. If I had just put more work into my SOP. If I read more. If I hadn't procrastinated on my papers. In other words, if I could just focus on things and dedicated myself to them would I not just be better? Because somewhere I do believe that so much of the crap, failure in my life is due to me and my inability to focus on things.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


When I was in Jr. High, our English teacher, no doubt ad libbing, brought in a copy of "What Color is Your Parachute." Being 8th graders, we had an uproariously good time mocking the cheesiness of the book while secretly loving the orderly way we could mark of what fit our personalities. How simple it seemed to just hit a bunch of boxes and like magic there was a career suggestion. I no longer remember what the book suggested I do but I do remember going home that afternoon with a slightly panicked feeling that "OMG the whole future is before me and I NEED TO FIND A  CAREER." And it was an oppressive feeling of being trapped. It followed me for a few weeks before it disapated as new concerns, like why don't boys like me, replaced it.

But now I feel this terror again. I am almost 39 and all the plans I have made for myself have fallen apart. Not all at once but slowly over time. I wanted to be a writer from about six to 22. That didn't quite pan out. Then I thought I'd become a Special Education teacher because I seemed okay at teaching and it would get me a job. I realized that this career choice while practical filled me that kind of oppressive dread mentioned above so I changed my major the first day of classes to English. And from that moment on, even when I switched to Religious Studies, I foresaw my future as a professor. There were other silly fantasies built around this...a small cottage home, one or two children, a community of intellectuals coming over for dinner and genial discussion.

And now that dream is sort of flopping around in its death throes outside the door.

Life happened in some glorious ways to change that dream. I have four beasties not two well behaved intellectual children. No my children are wild, wonderful, creative, chaotic, clever, and wise. I do not live in a cottage some delicious New England college town. I did marry the brainy guy (bonus that he's hot), and I have  read many wonderful books and have many wonderful challenging conversations. BUT....

What do I do now? I am bitter. I admit it. And it's hard to make a choice when you feel bitter. I think I wold love midwifery but worry that I am too old. That we can't afford the course. That I will never find child care for this crazy lifestyle. These worries blend into a real sense of loss that hits me when I'm teaching or talking to Horacio about some Lacain point of theory.  When I'm on campus and I see the professors sitting in their offices, giving talks, having their books on display, I feel a deep sadness that this might not ever be me. But when I think about pursing a Ph.D, it feels like a heavy weight. Yes I am scared of further rejection. I do not wish to move my family again nor make H apply for programs while he is the midst of his program. I could do something else at UGA. But there is no joy in these thoughts.

Last night as I was driving home from school, I was in the midst of one those painful moments. There was a talk on campus where everyone in religious studies but me was gathered. One of those who went told me the speaker had waxed on about how a Ph.D got you into places. And oh those words brought a wave of sadness and anger and helplessness. Would I be nothing because I didn't have this degree? But suddenly from the corner of my eye, I saw that a set of office buildings near me had a for lease sign, and I thought, unbidden "If we were still going to be here that would be a great office for a midwife." And the thought lifted up on the lightest of wings.

Year of Pleasures 10

Little houses. This is my new home. We signed the lease on Friday and we'll be moving in in July. I am so in love with my future little houses that I fantasy with the help of Ikea about how I'm going to get us all to fit into the little house. Umberto has decided he wants his own room so I'm using in my insomnia to plan on how I'm going to organize toys and shelves. I'm looking forward to living our principle and commitment to living in a simple way but I'm also scared. Will we kill each other with too much closeness? When I think about this morning, sitting on the couch with the beasties spread out in the living room, I think we'll be okay. We like cozy. And we have the huge lawn in front and a yard in back complete with garden beds. Our experience will take some work and some lessons in respect and the need for privacy. We will have to develop creative ways of craving out space for our projects. But I knew this was our home when we first pulled up. It's right. It fits us.

Over On the Other Blog...

There is a post...trying to catch up this week...lots to write about...


Saturday, March 12, 2011

This Moment

Year of Pleasures 9

Road tripping with the beasties. Okay so it's not always a pleasure while in the car although there are moments...like when Umberto decided the giant peach in Gaffney SC looked like a butt and we all chortled for a few minutes. There's lots of singing to punk and indie bands. But what I really love is how the kids so dig being in new places. They love walking around and seeing new things. They're game for all kinds of adventures even just exploring. And they really love hotels. I always joke that we could spend a week in the hotel down the road and they'd think it was a vacation. But I love that the beasties appreciate these moments that suspended from "real" life even if it's just for a weekend.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Willful Faith

When I walked into the kids' room, that early Thanksgiving morning, to see my beautiful son contorted, griped with seizure, on the floor, I felt as if I couldn't breath. I did not know as I do now that he would recover. At that moment, I thought my boy was dying. And then I left H with our son while I called for help, and stood on the front stoop waiting for the ambulance. The night was just starting to fade, and it was dark and cold. As I waited, I felt what it meant to have a heart break. A future without this beautiful boy, my first born, caused something to wither up inside me. I could not imagine how I could possibly live if he was gone.  The cold air pressed on me, as I heard sirens, and I knew that there was no way there was nothing after death. I made a choice to let this not be the end because a world without my child was not bearable. 

And as the sirens grew closer, I pleaded my son's case before God.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


Piper is still sobbing. Twenty minutes ago I had to speak sharply to her. I am not proud that I lost my patience but it is late. I'm tired. I'm feeling a bit stressed with grading, scanning, and house hunting.  She was running around, terrorizing Camille and Umberto until they were yelling at her. I asked her to stop once, and attempted to refocus her energy but it didn't work. Finally after Camille lost it yet again and just kept screaming and screaming at Piper who only responded with hysterical laughter, I had to yell.

And then Piper stomped her big stomps and slammed walls and doors. Her rage spilling out of her tiny five year old body and lashing out onto the things around her. When I rushed into the room to quiet her, we live on a second floor apartment, she held out her arms to me. And I blew it with my frustration and impatience.  Those out held arms were begging for help. Pleading with me to help with this out of control anger.

I held her later and apologized. I smoothed her sweaty hair and kissed her checks wet with tears. Tears I wiped from swollen eyes.  Oh Piper, I tell her, Five is a hard age.

Oh Five. Five when you are not a baby nor a big girl. You are some where in the that awful middle. You can do so much and yet so little. There are all these feelings. You have so much energy. You do not always understand the hows and whys.

And Piper who is always exuberant and social finds herself among solitary types. Her extroverted self compels her to push against us until we meet her energy with either anger or resignation. But she can only be who she is and sometimes it is easy to forget this when we see her little body. That little wild cat, Piper, tiny and fierce. Joyful. Filled with dance and song.

Tonight I realize that I need to spend more time getting to know Piper. The next time she holds her arms to me, I will grasp them.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Athens, It's Automatic Ya'll

I'm two rejections letter into the game, and feeling pretty bummed about it all. I think the universe's resounding answer to my challenge was a bit too resounding. Couldn't I get into one place? Even if I had to say no at least my ego wouldn't be so crushed. My feelings on the matter swing between feeling rather free that I don't have to do the Ph.D., and devastated that I won't be a professor some day. Sometimes I really am mourning the loss of that particular intellectual life and other days it has a lot to do with humiliation. I am slightly mortified that I am the only UNCC MA student who has applied to schools and been rejected. At.every.single.one. I work at cultivating egolessness.

Meanwhile, H is struggling a bit with his job. I can see that it's getting harder and harder to go in each day. Things aren't so hot in education land anywhere and here it's getting worst by the month. More work. Less pay. Less teachers. He knows he's free in a few months but those are some long months. March is in there and March has to be an educator's hell. Thus I plan a quick trip to Athens. We weren't going to go until April, but I'm thinking seeing where he'll go might make time go by a bit faster, or at least ease the pain that is March. I also think that it might be a good idea for us to see this place where we'll likely be spending the next four or five years. Honestly, I'm not expecting much. 

We arrive at night on the outskirts so it looks pretty...yuck. Lots of crappy looking strip malls. A few blocks before our hotel are some nice old houses. There is a train trestle that runs over North Ave. It's hilly. I'm reminded of old Maine mill towns, and I'm starting to have some hope. Once esconed in our room, H runs out to grab some burgers for us as we're all a bit hungry. When he returns he has the second bit of good news: it took him driving for blocks and blocks to find a fast food place.

Rain on Saturday promises a bleak exploration but we ready the umbrellas and head out. It's pretty much love at first sight. Blocks of funky stores and restaurants. Cafes overlooking a beautiful old campus.  A DIY Craft kid store! An awesome independent book store. People are friendly and love to chat about Athens. There are bike trails. Greenways. Beautiful old rambling houses. People walk on the sidewalks which are pretty much everywhere. 

And suddenly the trip that began for H becomes a coming home for me as well. Living here, I think, is going to be okay. It's going to all work out because this place is what we have dreamed of for our family. This place where we can walk and work. It feels like it could be home.

Friday, March 04, 2011

{This Moment}

Taken from Souelmama: {This Moment}: A Friday ritual. A single photo: no words, capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause savor and remember.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Year of Pleasures 9

Good mail:) Normally we don't get much in the mail. Lately not even bills seeing as we've hooked ourselves to that nifty, environmentally friendly paperless bill stuff. Today when we got back from a home school activity, and Umberto asked to walk to the mail box. So we did. I knew we  were getting a couple of Netflix movies for Umberto. But then there was the lovely surprise of mail for me. An unexpected joy on an already lovely day...

First there were my books...Day's The Long Loneliness and Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain.

 And then an even more unexpected item...a beautiful card from a friend...a little note to lift my spirits and remind me that there are people out there who believe in me.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Year of Pleasures 8

Yeah I know it's early for this post but I need to reflect on the pleasures in my life right now as they happen. No point in filing them away until Thursday when their light can shine now. With that introduction, this pleasure is the developing relationship between Piper and Rowena. Now that Rowena is more interactive, Piper has actually started to get more jealous. We've had a bit of "hard loving" with Piper mauling Rowena. If we ask her to stop, Piper gets angry and sulky and heads to her room. It would be easy to focus on that jealously and feel discouraged about the girls ever getting along. But then there are these moments:

Because Rowena is more interactive now, and she's crazy about Piper. They roll around on the floor together. They play with stuffies and plastic animals. Piper talks to Rowena, and tells her stories. Watching this budding relationship is an honor, and a lesson about the good and bad about relationships. They're not always easy, and sometimes they involve negative feelings and hurt.
But in the long run, they usually offer joy.