Tuesday, March 30, 2010

There's something in my eye (or how I became a big baby)

I used to be a cold-hearted bitch. Nothing could get to me. Not a Hallmark or reach-out-and-touch-someone commercial. Not a sappy movie. Certainly not anything anyone else could do to me. Nothing. I was bulletproof.

Then I had a baby. And damned if that didn't turn me into one big, post-natal, totally wimpy baby.

I was sitting in the recliner in my mother's basement one afternoon, nursing Savannah and watching PBS. There was a show on about a mama lion and her adorable, little lion cubs. They were romping and rolling about--just like kittens--when their whole world (and my momentary, new-mother bliss) was shattered. They were attacked by a cobra and the cubs were just too tiny to survive. I sat there clinging to my own precious cub and sobbing as the mother lion nudged and licked and nuzzled her lost babies.

And--17 years later--it hasn't stopped. It's gotten worse.

How does a (fairly) normal person become someone who is reduced to a slobbering mess at the sight of their offspring smiling, walking, going to kindergarten, singing in the school program, performing in the Christmas pageant, playing their viola, getting their first byline or dancing on stage in their first musical?

Tonite was the opening nite of Gabi's school musical: "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." The minute I glimpsed her cavorting on stage my chest felt tight, my throat closed and my vision blurred with tears of pride and love and amazement.

And it didn't stop there.

I saw Taylor and Brittney (longtime friends of Gabi) and the little, red-haired boy performing so earnestly--and the kid playing Joseph working so hard and singing his heart out. I teared up at the sight of all of them.

This happens every time. I am overwhelmed with pride and encouragement at the chutzpah and passion of these kids putting it all out there because they are young and bright-eyed and still believe that they can do anything--even make it all the way to Broadway or Hollywood.

I used to be one of them. I was fearless. I can still feel what it was like. And I wonder if my strong response to the brave acts of faith I witness in my children is not only in celebration of them, but also (on some level) mourning...or longing...for that fresh, potential-filled person I still remember.

Or maybe it's a simultaneous exultation of their limitless, blank-slate dreams and the reluctant hint of sadness that life may not give them everything they think it will.

But tonite--and for the next three nites--Gabi and her merry band of Canaanites and Wranglers, Brothers and Wives, are jumping in with both feet and jazz hands. The view from my seat is dazzling, if a little blurry. I must have something in my eye.

Monday, March 22, 2010

enjoy the silence

for some reason lately i just don't want to say anything. and i don't want to capitalize. (what a rebel)

that hasn't stopped the relentlessly annoying narrator that lives in my head and (yes, believe it or not) talks more than i do.

the incessant monologue continues.

and i know it wants to get out.

but i won't let it.

i feel selfish. stubborn. and slightly guilty.

but i'm more mopey than funny lately.

and that's just no fun for you.

although i have some promising directions in which to go...

...i keep fantasizing about ways to silence my cat. (he's more irritating than the voices in my head!)

...my back still aches from an unfortunate and exuberant "cow bell" incident this weekend.

...my ride to work the other day felt like a trip on the knight bus from harry potter--i swear that driver was not from this side of diagon alley.

...i went on a date with a 23-year-old.

so, please bear with me. i will return soon.

in the meantime, enjoy the silence--how often do i shut the eff up anyway?


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Nite Montage

(If I was a filmmaker, this would be a montage...trust me)

I am trapped by the incessant narrative dancing across my brain. Sometimes I fight to suppress, strangle and suffocate the monologue. I always lose. Why do I resist putting pen to paper, fingertip to keyboard, voice to thought?

Because sometimes it is sad or afraid or irrelevant or ridiculous. O well.

Saturdays are often the perfect excuse to stay under the covers, eat terribly fattening foods and watch Lifetime movies.

I grind my teeth. A lot. People can hear it over the phone...I'm doing it right now.

Watching a PG-13, wide-release movie that would be a rated-R, obscure indie flick if it didn't feature the world's most "dreamy" vampire is a surreal and entertaining experience. Especially when all the teenage girls giggle uncontrollably at the first love scene and even more so when the Mormon family in front of you (who is only there because Alice in Wonderland was sold out and they mistakenly thought this was a good substitute)gets up and leaves after the second love scene and the one, allowable "f@#k" invades the theatre.

Sometimes a wild mushroom risotto is the only way to scratch that itch.

Returning to your first love can be surprisingly gratifying. My first true love was Chateau St. Chapelle's Johannisburg Riesling. Terri and I LOVED that wine--and it loved us back. Since my palate has evolved, the delicious sweetness has become unbearable; however, I recently purchased a St. Chapelle Dry Riesling. It is divine. It's such a delight to revisit your first love and find those arms still warm and ever-so-welcoming.

The realization that I'm almost 40 and basically starting over on so many levels is both terrifying and exhilarating.

I don't think I'll ever stop biting my cuticles. Ever.

The sound of my cat meowing is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Finally posting a blog after more than 10 days of silence: priceless.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...

Tonite I completely and deliberately broke my Lenten fast of wine.

For some reason today was the day that broke the camel's back.

I am not known (even by those who love me) as the most consistently stable and even-keeled girl out there. However, most agree that I (along with wine) tend to get better with age. Nonetheless, I certainly have my moments.

My path has been treading between rampant rebellion and delirious devotion: falling somewhere between Juno and Junebug. (google it!)

Every day I see myself in the mirror and think, "You're almost forty." 'Almost forty' gives me pause. Anxiety. Exhilaration. And Despair.

My imperative...My devotion...My passion...My love...My agony--and my ecstasy--have (for better or worse) been centered on my role as Mother. Caregiver. Mentor. Molder. Sculptor of lives that will leave the world better than they found it....

...But I digress

Tonite in a flurry of vocational doubt, financial insecurity, self-inflicted parental demonization--countered by the utter love, acceptance, compassion and cheerleading that can only be offered by the truest of friends, I had a glass of wine.

And then another. (she brought two bottles)

While I made the specific choice to give up this most favorite of treats, comforts, delights...I had only vague reasons as to why I made such a choice.

After attending the Ash Wednesday service at my church I received more clarity about why I chose to give up anything at all.

The discipline of Lent ("Lenten" means to lengthen, or to grow) is truly that: a discipline. It is also a discipline that drives the disciple to reflect, meditate and grow.

Despite the fact the I hoped for certain "bonus" side effects (weight loss, saving $$, giving my liver a break) I truly wanted to explore the experience of giving something up.

What I have learned thus far is that the mere act of giving something up compels me to think of why I made that choice each time an opportunity to be bad rears its tempting head (or some random idiot or pretty sunset or mouthy teenager makes me long for a smooth, luxuriant sip).

And then I remember why: To grow. Spiritually.

The mere act of being reminded that I want to be focused, grateful and open to whatever the bigger (and better) plan for my life is, is justification enough to hold back on the fermented grape juice for a few weeks.

I do not believe that not drinking wine until Easter will make me a more worthy or pure soul when Judgment Day rolls around (the mere fact that I unabashedly and without reserve believe in Grace makes that entire idea completely absurd!). However, I do believe that incorporating any signal, clue, secret code or other blatant reminder into my life that kicks me in the ass and says, 'Wake up! Pay attention! This is your life--don't squander it!' is a blessing.

I may have chosen a particularly challenging and painful Tuesday as my "Feast Day" instead of Sunday--but I feel more acutely than ever the real reason for even considering giving something up for Lent.

This has been a gift that keeps me plugged in to my own spiritual life. I may (and most certainly will) stumble--but the clarity to recognize, welcome and learn from those skinned knees is undeniable.