Thursday, June 6, 2013

the groove

truth: household chores bore me.  they are like chisels slowly chipping away at my foundation of creativity.  they are fleas in my bed of contentment.  they are rusty spots consuming my sense of freedom.  they are mold on my ceiling.  they are holes in my tires.

in short, i do not like doing them.

yes, they are boring and repetitive.  more than that, they suck time that i would rather use to write a novel, dance wild and loud, walk fast down green trails, plant a garden to feed me, dream about the future, work on projects that give back to me as much as i give to them.

work?  chores are work. yes, but they are boring work.  while it can be rewarding to vacuuuum a rug and see all the parakeet feathers and lego pieces disappear (especially if you use a shop vac because you can suck up much bigger items too like avocado skins, broken pencils and things-you-can-no-longer-identify), the act of vacuuummming becomes boring because it has to be done so often.  by me.  many times a week.

yes, the gripe goes to a deeper level here.  it's not the just the hum-drum factors, it's the no-fair factor too.  in the part of my mind that does emotional math -you have one too- if there are four people peeing in a toilet, that means each person cleans the toilet once a week.  this is so reasonable to me, that my emotional math brain says i should only have to state this one time - everyone will see the logic- including the 4 year old and voila! toilet cleaning chore has been reduced by 75%, happiness factor increased exponentially more.

while i certainly don't do all the chores around the house i do enough to feel resentful about it at times.  typically when this begins to happen, i step back.  i do less and it passes.  sometimes i don't even see the gray haze drop into my heart.  i just keep doing stuff i don't really want to do.

until a sign appears.

i'm big on signs.  i count the number of birds in a flock as it flies over my head.  i count twice to make sure i get it right, then i see if that number reminds me of something or i add the digits of the number together.  ok, i do both.  thirteen geese. small son was born on the 13th.  1+3=4.  four directions.  four corners.  family of four.

i also flip open to random pages of books to see what words the world is offering.

i turn on the radio to random stations (am often rewarded by Journey or Bon Jovi more often than is statistically possible).

i pull tarot cards.

i find rocks.

i watch.

recently i was sweeping.  a chore made tolerable by the rhythm and my magical broom purchased at the Oregon County Fair four years ago.  here's how i sweep.  i sweep everything that is on the floor, clothes-toys-books, into a big pile and then i yell "does anybody want any of this?"  my boys come scampering over.  they paw through the dusty pile and retrieve marbles, coins, hair ties, and such.  i stop them from eating anything, and i rarely offer any reasoning to keep anything they haven't self-selected. i scan the pile for earrings and it all goes into the black metal dust pan. then i dump into the trash or recycling depending on how green i feel.

but this time- one thing stuck to the dust pan.  i shook. still there.  i look down, squinting since i broke my glasses, i see a small, white rectangular magnet.  it's one of those popular poetry magnets.  i got a set as free swag from a company we sell where i work.  it's all inspirational words for women.  i thought i had given the set away until i found them on the fridge, apparently this one had left the nest.


now, i could stop the story here and you'd get it.  you'd be happy and think "cute."

but i couldn't. the message was too trite.  "delight in taking care of your family.  delight in having a floor to sweep.  delight in your life of domestic bliss."


i thought- maybe the meaning of delight held more for me.  i attempted to decode the word by trying to remember what the prefix "de" means.  but i couldn' i thought of words that have that prefix:

when i tried to apply the implied mean to "delight" i kept coming up short.  "de" in defrost seems to imply to "do away with the frost" so how does that translate to "delight?"  and what is the inspirational sign as it applies to sweeping?  decode- you are breaking apart the code.  this also implies kind of a negative, but accurate definition if i were to assume that "delight" means taking the light away and that's what chores do to me.

i know that i could have gooooooggled it, but that pretty much would have sucked the soul out of my quest.

i was resigned to just going back to the original cute ending.  in fact, that's what i was going to do until i started to type.  then i realized what "delight" referred to wasn't the typical "something that brings you joy,"


it's about bootsy collins, paisley pants, platform shoes and slide whistles.  you feel me?

groove is in the heart.
and i think maybe she sings something about a succotash.

then the sign appears.

basically, no matter what damn chore i am doing, no matter how damn often i do it.  if i blast Deee-Lite i will enjoy the chore.  i will dance, i will sing, i will do that little move with the leg kick, head tilt, hands swing.  and i will do my best to force anyone around me to do it with me.

because the groove is always in the heart- even when my hands are in the cold dish water trying to unclog the beans before they ferment there and bring the summer swarm of fruit flies.


Friday, May 24, 2013


just when you think you are getting to the heart of it, the deep place of discontent in a situation that feels so murky and dank- whoooosh! - the world provides you with a perfect example of why you need to shut-the-hell-up.

i needed this.

for weeks, i have had a inner moping going on.  this little irk' of a troll hunched under my breast plate, t'sking and sighing about every little thing.

-those cleans clothes have been on the couch for three days.

-the morning glory are back.  curse them.

-the truck needs the oil changed.  again.

even as i am totally irritated with the troll, let's call her Prissy, i still manage to give her a voice.  a voice that i listen to.  a voice that i totally despise and completely distrust - and yet, i listen to her.  i talk back to her.  i conspire with Prissy, the hunching troll under my breast plate.

which only proves to me that i am even more of a troll than her.

i mean, who gives a troll that kind of power?  if i met a troll, besides being completely terrified and wanting to believe jim henson was somehow in charge of it, i'm fairly certain i would doubt everything that came out of her drooling mouth.  but, in the wicked way of my brain when she says, "no one really knows you, so they can't really appreciate you."  i nod in agreement and <sigh> go on trudging along, dragging my wounded Achilles heal, all decorated up for bonus points (stay tuned for that story).

back to the whoosh.

i am mid-sentence, allowing Prissy to run my mouth to a human ear - a mistake, even when it's called "venting"- when the human is distracted by her husband reporting something ridiculous, like "the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River has just collapsed."

um, no.  not that bridge.  i drive over that bridge all the time.  it's perfectly safe.  it's made out of steel and concrete and cars are always on it.  so, no.  that didn't happen.

but just in case, let's google that.

there it is.  this chunk of bridge in water.  see the people?  they are on top of their cars.  waiting in a jungle of bent metal for someone to get them. to be honest, i have imagined my car winding up in the Skagit.  i drive over the Skagit, on a much older bridge, several times a day.  we live in the flood plain, less than 1/2 mile from a curve of the river.  almost every errand i run involves going over a bridge that spans the Skagit.  i have  i actually thought "remember to roll down the windows" and like a checklist of Things To Do When Your Car Goes Into The River.

like anyone would ever need that.

even as i clearly don't want to wind up in the river, i imagine it.  i don't want to feel the seemingly solid ground sink underneath me in a chorus of screeching steel and snapping cables.  i don't want to feel murky river water rush into my windows and make the feather around my rear view mirror float, my clothes billow, my heart race.  i don't want to meet the troll under the bridge.  or become her.

and there sit those stranded people. there are hunched there, wet from scrambling out of the cold water, atop of the honda, looking up at the helicopters, seeing the crowd thicken along the banks, feeling their skin slowly warm under a persnickety sunbeam - but still their brain is blank except for one pervasive thought:

thank you.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

hell yes

the young son has begun preschool.  not a cooperative preschool where i am down the hall kneading bread - which i miss.  but a preschool where i walk him up the three concrete steps, sign my initials on the sheet, kiss/hug, kiss/hug, kiss/hug, kiss/hug and then walk out into the afternoon with three hours to spend with the big son which i wholeheartedly enjoy.

today we saw a movie.  in the middle of the afternoon.  it was an awful movie- another million dollar mess of a good book, but the flying baboons were terrifying.  something the 10 year old remarked about several times over dinner.

the thing i like about the preschool is the same thing that i dislike about most schooling settings: the rules.  as a montessori preschool there are very specific routines in place.  consistent expectations.  this now, that later.  repeat.

it both lures me in and horrifies me.  it speaks to the part of me that wants to always have the scissors tucked into the sewing basket for speedy retrieval and disgusts the whimsy gal who is too distracted by the sound of migrating geese outside to take the extra ten steps back to the bathroom to put the nail clippers away.

as a mom, i have never mastered the art of routine.  honestly, i don't completely believe that "children crave routine" either.  i think adults crave obedient children and routine is the quickest way to train a child.  or a baboon, especially if you want them to do something completely unnatural like fly or go to sleep alone in a dark bedroom.

so, i'm conflicted often.  i do enjoy watching my son sit down and do his "coffee work" with precision and pride. the way he rolls the place mat up so tightly, like it's a tortilla to be dipped in salsa, makes me smile.  his tiny fingers on a tiny dropper as he polishes a wooden dolphin sculpture with a q-tip and cotton ball- its melts me.

at the same time, i am equally thrilled when he attempts to put his slippers in his cubby by flipping them off of his foot toward the ceiling- rather than picking them up, stacking them together like a sandwich and gently placing them above his name.  i am thrilled because this small deviation thrills him.  i know i should be alarmed that he likes to deviate, but i am not in the least.

i suppose i see it as being himself.  liking himself.  putting his own thoughts and whims on a slightly higher shelf than what others expect of him. and i want him to continue to be that independent and assured.  i want him to hold onto a spark of individuality midst the herd.  if following the rules leads to being normal- veer from that path, son.

just this morning, as we dashed out the house, he saw me eating a banana and was inspired.  he attempted to pull one from the bunch, but as you know, that's tricky.

 "hey mom, get me a banana!" he called in a sing-song voice of mock authority.  typically, i would have just handed one over or maybe said back "Git your own banana, monkey boy!" in some kind of East coast slang if the mood struck.  but because he is in school and we are "working on asking" i prompted him, "are you asking me to help you get a banana?"

he looks at me with this "i know what you are doing" look.  he's got that one nailed.

the thing is- my kids are gorgeous.  neither of their parents are especially stunning, but the combo of euro-mutt and pueblo native...well, wow.  it's distracting sometimes.  like in that moment, when he looks up at me through his bronze curls and slanting crooked eyes with a playful glint jumping out at me like a star winking.  i just swoon a little.  and maybe if i could have frozen the clock right then i would have thought about  all the rules i will never tell him about because i trust his heart is golden enough to know right from wrong and how to hear its whispers even as mouths shout their truths in his tender ears no matter if he 4 or 14 or 44.

i might have thought all of that and more but he didn't skip a beat before he hollered-"hell yes!" enthusiastically, "get me a banana!"

and i did.