Don’t forget to validate your parking ticket and your parenting style.

This opinion piece that ran in the NY Times a couple of weeks back is so up my alley.

I am not, by nature, much of a punisher or rewarder, which is mostly exhausting, but maybe I am on the right track? At any rate, I’ve read this through two or three times, especially the parts about guilt and shame, modeling generosity, and expressing disappointment rather than using punishments. I don’t have anything to add other than my agreement and the acknowledgement that, YES, it sure does feel great to find examples of some of my (sometimes very unpopular) parenting choices being backed up.

On Saturday, Scuba and his mom and Willow and I went to see the San Jose Giants play.

She made it onto the Jumbotron a couple of times and absolutely went berserk. I had to get out my phone and text her best friend’s mom so she could let her know. Twice.

After the game, which we sadly lost after 11 innings, the littles got to run the bases.

Watching that kiddo have a great time is the best. I get all verclempt and stuff.

Sunday Scuba took his mom and my mom and me out to lunch and the opera for an early Mother’s Day celebration. (On the real Mother’s Day, we have to be at soccer at 8 a.m., and then we are driving 143 miles to take the girls to see five or six bands at the fair in Roseville because it’s close to Sophie’s birthday and her favorite human, Ed Sheeran, is performing. Taking one for the team (the kid portion of our team) this year means that next year I can probably line up breakfast in bed AND some kind of indulgent spa time, right?) Lunch was really good, the opera was even better and not just because I was the youngest woman there. I’m not qualified to bust out an opera review, but I can say that the performers were all really good actors with amazing voices and the sets and costumes were lovely, and the guy who played Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant, was especially funny. I loved it.

Near the theatre parking was $30 for the day, but we went to a garage around the corner charging $5, which is great, because have you ever bought a giant foam finger? Shit sets you back, I’m telling you.

99, 100 – Ready or not, here I come

Bea & Baby EdMy great-grandmother, Bea, and great-uncle, Ed, in Arizona’s Petrified Forest, 1915. 

About a hundred years ago, my great-grandparents took an incredible trip in their Buick, with their baby, sometimes on roads and sometimes on wagon tracks, across a big chunk of the U.S. My great-grandfather, Edgar, was (among many other things) a photographer. He took photos along the way and developed them at night as they camped out with a tent connected to their car. Many of the photos were made into postcards that he and the other travelers sent to their loved ones.

To Miss Kitty WilliamsDear Kitty: Rec’d your letter and since then have been to San Diego fair and expect to start to Ventura Thursday (21st) roads were fine and if it does not rain think we can make trip in auto fine. If anything hinders will drop you a card tomorrow eve (Wed)  If we have good luck will get there some time Thursday evening. Ella Morris. 

In less than two months, I’m going to fly to Kansas City and then drive with my dad’s siblings along some of what’s remaining of the route their grandparents traveled. We are compressing two separate treks taken over two years into seven days on the road. We’re going from Kansas City to Colorado to Utah to Southern California to the Grand Canyon to Santa Fe. We’ll have air conditioning and sleep in hotels and yet not be nearly as well-dressed as they were. We will stop and take photos in as many of the places they did that we can, and we are hoping to meet up with some of my great-grandfather’s other descendants along the way.

When I was a teenager in the 80s and thought about taking this trip, the thing that struck me most was how OLD I would be – I couldn’t imagine it. All of a sudden, here it is and here I am, ready to go.

Sweet peas, drought-resistant wildflowers, poppies

These sprouts are growing in an old egg carton in our kitchen windowbox. For the past few mornings I’ve looked at them as I made coffee and cleaned up the breakfast dishes and thought, Okay. Today I’m going to get outside and plant these little guys. And every day for the past few days I haven’t made the time. It’s important, I think, to frame this correctly: I haven’t made the time vs. I don’t have the time. I do have the time to plant these seedlings, to put away the clean laundry stacked up on my dresser, to run to the pharmacy and pick up my medicine. I could be doing any of those things right this very now instead of staying in bed too late this morning with my laptop and coffee, but I have not made the time to do those things – yet.

The difference between the two doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve been really considering how I talk to myself since I’m stuck listening to myself all day, all night. I am, unequivocally, a Very Busy Person, most of the time, but I’m more of a helpless, life is happening to me person if I say I don’t have the time for something. Saying that I’m not making the time gets me out from under the wheel. I’m not really too busy to plant the sprouts – the sprouts just haven’t reached a high enough spot on my priority list.

From last January

You can’t tell from this shot, but there were SO many people at the beach with fancy cameras when I took this photo. Scuba and Ace and I got there in the mid afternoon and before the sun started going down all these people appeared with tripods and Serious Camera Lenses and started setting up, carefully, at the edge of the water in front of the opening in this rock. So, I left our blanket and brought my fancy camera over to see what all the fuss was about. Then the setting sun poured all this liquid gold through the rock and onto the water and the smaller rocks on the beach and the sand and everyone’s skin. And I understood.

Everyone was pretty quiet as the sun set. The ocean is loud at that beach, but other than that it was just the shutters clicking away, some whispering. A few birds. The light was so dense and so there, like it could be gathered up in a jar and saved for later.

My girls

I remember, so vividly, the moment that each of these two girls were born. So, so different – Sophie at home, as the sun was coming up, with just my mom and my friend and the midwife. The lights were low and it was quiet and after she was wrapped up and in my arms we opened the front door and the breeze came in, smelling like flowers. Willow was born seven weeks early by emergency c-section, and after I touched her cheek one time before she was carried off to the NICU, we were kept apart for the first day and I cried and cried. But all that stuff aside, the first moments of being with each of them were very alike. I was captivated by every aspect of them. Their tiny fingernails, their eyelashes, their fingers curling around mine. Those tiny rosebow lips. The yawning. Love and pride and disbelief at their beauty. Astonishment. When I was making this video of them at the beach the other day, I can’t say I was feeling any of those things. We were happy and laughing and very in that moment, but oh my god when I watch this video without any sound I feel completely all those things I did when I first held each of them.

Laundry

My grandmother’s washer and dryer were in her yellow kitchen, right by the back door. One afternoon, when my cousin and I were teenagers, we were in the kitchen when the dryer buzzed and our grandmother took out a fitted sheet and began folding it. We both walked over, watching, as she folded it perfectly. Michelle said, Okay. You HAVE to show me how you did that! And my grandmother was, I’m not even exaggerating, astonished. You mean you girls don’t know how to fold a fitted sheet? We both shook our heads no. So, she showed us how she put her hands inside two of the fitted corners and then joined them, folded the sheet, laid it flat on the dryer to smooth it out, and and then folded until it was perfectly done.

I still can’t really do it right, but every time I fold fitted sheets I think about being in her kitchen and I’m glad that no one else had taught me how.

Dear Diary

I’ve been trying to work my way through The Artist’s Way, but I keep not making time to do the morning pages so have been in the first week for at least a month. Maybe I should read my copy of Overwhelmed first? Maybe I could make them night pages instead? I have a hard time staying asleep all night, and it seems like from about 4 a.m. till 8 a.m. is when I’m really gettin my REM on, but I try and get up everyday before 7, so, well. Yeah. Getting up a little earlier to write three pages makes me feel more bitter than creative. Night pages! Great idea! Thanks for the talk!

I had an idea for a novel in the middle of one of my sleepless nights. I got up out of bed at 3 a.m. and wrote and wrote – outlines of chapters, some scenes, character descriptions. I was super hepped up about it. The characters seemed so real and actual. I didn’t love the storyline, but I shared it with Scuba and my mom and maybe a couple other people. Everyone was all, Oh. So it’s a YA book? And I was all, Yes? So, since then, I’ve been thinking more about it, and now I have some different stories for the same characters bouncing around in my head and maybe this is something that I will really write? Anyway, if I can’t make time to do my morning pages or my night pages or any pages at all, then there’s not a lot of hope that I can write a novel. So, baby steps. I need to start taking baby steps.

WOOF

woof

 

I was so proud of the doormat I found on sale the other day at Target. Woof! So cute! I love my dog! Then the kids came home, and they were all: OHMYGOOOOOOD, MOM. Thanks a LOT. I can’t have any friends over now. And I was all, BUT YOU GUYS! That’s how dogs say “Welcome!” They say WOOF! I stood there waiting for them to change their minds, but all four of them, united, rolled their eyes at me. So now the WOOF mat is on the back step. I’m so embarrassing.

 

 

NotCalm.com

today

 

I started blogging in July of 2002 on a BlogSpot URL that didn’t have anything to do with the title I’d picked for my site, because I believe in learning things the hard way and starting off at the bottom to give myself a whole lot of room for improvement. After a couple of years, I moved to a Typepad URL that did contain the title, but I didn’t feel like I’d arrived or whatever enough to go buy my own URL. (Also, mostly, I had no idea what to do with one if I did.)

Then five or six years ago, I started looking around. notcalm.com was taken, so I grabbed not-calm.com and relied on my friend / coworker to set me up. But, I always kept looking to see if notcalm.com had popped up for sale, since it was just parked. Obviously, blogging keeps getting knocked off my to-do list for the last, well, few years or so. I still compose posts in my head in the shower or when I’m falling asleep, but clearly I am not actually writing them down much.

On Wednesday it was my dad’s birthday. His name was Stan, and he would have been seventy. I still instant message him on his Gmail account, just in case he’s listening. On Thursday, I got an email:

Hello,
I am contacting you because you own Not-Calm.com. I thought you might be interested in purchasing NotCalm.com.
If you would like to buy NotCalm.com for $[totally reasonable amount removed], click here:
[link removed]
If you don’t want me to contact you again, just reply to this email and let me know. Thanks.
Stan

I bought the URL. I’m pretending that my dad sent it to me. I’m pretending that the email also said how much he misses all of us, but that he really likes knowing all the secrets of the universe and checking out all those stars up-close.

And I don’t care if you think I’m weird.