Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ice Cream in the Morning

Blanket Fort Zuzu

Yesterday, Margaret and I ate ice cream for breakfast in a blanket fort in the kitchen. Please read that sentence back to her when she is fifteen and angry at me. Haagan Dazs breakfast in a fort makes me the coolest mom ever. Today. Tomorrow. Always. And you cannot get mad at the coolest mom ever. Impossible. Riley graduates today. There will be family, pictures and ice cream cake. I love ice cream cake.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Life Lived: The Guidebook

I love the stars over New Mexico.
Can't wait to show them to Zuzu and Miss Honey pi.

Admission. I am by nature just a little fatalistic. It is an unfortunate attribute that accompanied me to this lovely thing called mortality. When I was just five, I stopped spending the night at my grandparents house as I was positive my parents would be killed in accident while I was gone. I didn't think my presence would keep the accident from occurring...I just wanted to be able to say goodbye when it did. By ten, I had gotten in the habit of staying up as late as I could. Maybe if I never slept I would be able to ward off death, that personage that was so ready to take me away at my ripe old age of a decade. I actually remember praying that to God that if he would just let me reach sixteen and get my first kiss, then I would go gently into that good night. (Ten year old me thought sixteen year old me would be hotter...I didn't get that first kiss till I was almost nineteen). This certainty of an imminent end of all goodness continued ad nauseam through high school. Yeah. I am sure raising THAT was just peachy. Thanks for sticking it out, Mom and Dad.

I have done what I can to rid myself of this irrationality. For the most part, I have been successful. The world is now more light than shadow. I will admit to the occasional relapse. You should have seen Riley's face the first time I woke him up and said, "I really don't want to die." I always feel bad for men when they realize that they married a whole mess of crazy. Sorry, Baby.
Having a child has helped. I want her to see the world as it can be. Should be. There is no room in the existence I want for the fear that kept ten year old me up at night. Life is so full. Brimming with tastes and sights and experiences that I suspect are unique to our mortality. Try as I might, I am not sure that I can picture butter drenched scallops in heaven. So. A project that appeals to both my acquired optimism and my natural fatalism.

I love guidebooks. Little hand held excursions into the distance. An afternoon in Borders surrounded by books touching on Asia, Europe and the Middle East is happiness captured. I may never eat dim sum in Hong Kong or explore the catacombs in Paris. Little me in my little purple house will still be happy. I will also have lived my life, however long it may be. A collection of experiences, sights and tastes (probably, too many tastes...FOOD!) that are just as sweet and important as anything found across any sea.

The project. Over the next year I am going to write, A Life Lived: The Guidebook, in installments on this blog. It will be full of things I want my children to feel, taste, touch and hear. Bits and pieces of life that I could not bear for them to live without. In my optimism, it is a resource we will walk through together. In my fatalism, it is something to give them when I have left them to walk alone. Either way, I know it is going to be fun.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Singing in the Rain

Spring Outside my Window

Got up this morning to the sound of rain. I love my house in a down pour. The closeness of the walls, the colors a little dimmed. On days like this Margaret and I leave the house just so that we can have the joy of returning to it. Running for the front door dripping wet. Trading jackets and shoes for blankets and a book. Water from the sky is a wonder, our warm 900 square feet are a gift and for just a minute she and I are the same age. Happy.

Found Grace Potter and the Nocturnals today. I know, I know. How 2007 of me. Listen, I am a mom. I am proud of myself when I hear anything other than the Sleeping Beauty soundtrack. About the only thing Miss Beauty and Miss Potter have in common is the color of their hair. I might want to be Grace Potter when I grow up. She is swaggering, soulful and unapologetic. She can probably hold her drink and her man. Yeah, I can get behind that.

My favorite song so far? Big White Gate. Holy cow, this four minutes of notes and lyrics hit me. Margaret and I have been singing our southern rock hearts out to it all day. You can talk to me about choice and circumstance. I understand the arguments and can see some of the logic. However, when all is said and done, every single one of us leaves this life stained and in need of redemption. Maybe all we have to do is ask for it.

Happy rainy day.

Friday, April 15, 2011

One in the Morning

This one. A little sick. A lot loved.

It is 2:10 in the morning.

Margaret woke up with an elephant size cough at 12:45 am. I realized we were out of cough medicine at 12:52 am. By 1:15am, I was stumbling through the grocery store attired in sweats and medusa hair. Cough medicine in hand, I drove back home. About a block from my house I realized I had forgotten to put on a bra.

It's okay.

The little bug is worth it. My medusa hair and I would go much further than the grocery store for anything she needed. Even at one in the morning. Without a bra.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Fall of the Queen

Honey, Let's get rich and replace the broken platters with these.

Remember when I wrote that post about walking to Walden? Yes, well I am still on my way. The journey is a bit longer than expected. I suppose I thought it was more of a stroll than a trek. It is like I set out for an afternoon walk equipped with nothing but a little snack and pair of ballet flats. A couple weeks later, I realize that I should have brought hiking boots, changes of clothing and a chuckwagon of preserved foods. In other words, this could take a while.

I am sure a therapist would have a heyday with this sudden need for deliberate simplicity. Something about how I am looking for more than a well run house. That I am seeking the control that can be lost in marriage and motherhood. Maybe that it is an attempt to avoid being lost in the chaos of mortality. A reaction against my raising, or a way to return to my childhood. The explanation would be deep and almost worth the 500 dollars I had spent to get it.

I do not have a therapist to explain away this urge, so I have decided to indulge it. The first wave of Operation:Simplify took place in the kitchen. There was almost a casualty. Pregnancy robs me of some very basic human attributes; these include my sense of smell, the ability to be rational and the very little sense of balance in my possesion. It is the latter that almost led to my downfall (no pun intended). There I was standing on a chair removing large platters from the top of our cabinets. Only five minutes into this whole project and I could already feel it...Triumph. I surveyed my kingdom from the height of my chair. Welcome, commoners. You are in the presence of the Queen of all things Deliberate. It was perfect.

As always seems to be the case, hubris merely proceeds the fall. And fall I did. Right onto our freshly mopped kitchen floor. The platters broke and spread themselves out around my prostrate body. If you ever need an image to illustrate a cautionary tale about the dangers of domesticity, there you have it.

The wind was knocked out of me so I could not get up. Margaret stood at door of the kitchen screaming, "MOMMY FELL!! MOMMY FELL!!" and Riley rushed in ready to say his goodbyes. It was like something out of one of those dark comedies that Showtime is always producing. Basically, hilarious. Eventually, my breath returned, Margaret stopped screaming and Riley was assured of my continued life. By the end of the day, I had a bruise on my head the size of a salad plate (I have a very big head). I also had a kitchen that would make a Spartan mama proud.

Riley says that I am the only person he knows that could incur a concussion while cleaning the kitchen. I say the whole thing went much more smoothly than I could have expected.

Next week: The living room closet.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Escape

Today I felt a little overwhelmed. The air seemed a bit thinner and myself a bit heavier. Just a mild attack of anxiety. There was no good reason for all this thin air, leaden body business. The house was clean (almost), dinner already in the oven and I am currently wearing jeans that almost-barely-just-one-more-centimeter zip up. As far as 18 weeks pregnant me goes, it is a banner day. And yet the nervousness was here, illogical, unmoving. Annoying.

Some people sleep through their anxiety, others walk it away, heavens knows there are times when I ice-cream-eat-it to oblivion. However, I was not tired, it looked like rain so a walk seemed ill-advised and there was not one, NOT ONE, sweet in this entire house. What is a girl to do?

This girl plans vacations.

Beautiful, exotic, butter filled confections of vacations. Itineraries that stretch for days and have morsels of culture, cuisine and, well, more cuisine. I can tell you exactly where I would eat on an April night in Paris. Precisely what hotel demonstrates elegance and locality just perfectly in Cairo. The most beautiful horse properties in Kentucky and the best places to shop in Tokyo. I know what streets I want to wander in China and how to find the loveliest sunset in Hawaii. (A fair number of trips. Nervous, much?) Star encrusted journeys that only exist in my head and saved tripadvisor links.

Today, while Margaret napped, I planned a trip to Sante Fe. I know, I know. A little touristy, a smidge new agey, so many smiling white people wearing birkenstocks. This girl does not care. Someday she will stay here and eat here. I think I can blame my fixation with Sante Fe on the movie, Newsies. If it moves Christian Bale to song, then it must be good.

The trip was researched and arranged and put away. The air was no better to breathe and I didn't feel any lighter. Margaret had started to gibber away in her room. She was sitting up, "reading" to herself. I watched until she got to the last page with a hearty, "THE END!" She saw me standing at the door, held out her book and shouted, "READ IT, READ IT, MOMMY!"

And so I did. We read about bunnies with golden shoes, fairies, dinosaurs and little boys. We read about meadows and mountains and a house underground. And the letters became the words and the words became their meaning. Writing was a kind of magic and I cast the spells. She and I traveled to places that don't exist, or maybe places that we just haven't seen yet. We left her room, right out the window and went where ever the story took us. At the end of each adventure we slammed the book, "THE END" and moved onto the next. A lovely escape.

I can breathe again.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Her Name is...

Yesterday was lovely. I finished organizing Margaret's room. I can open her closet without fear of death by stuffed animal avalanche. Miracle. We played at the park. I read while she napped. And then, we got our first sneak peek of the new baby. I have to say that hearing that heartbeat and seeing those fingers wiggle was just a little piece of starbursting magic. Please say hello to the one, the only....

Viola Honey Bingham

Did I mention...IT'S A GIRL!!!

PS. Riley made me promise that I would never abandon the blog for two weeks ever ever ever again.

I promise.