Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bring Your Updog

"What's 'updog'?" you ask.

I don't know!  What's up with you?!!

I revive that silly joke every couple of months with the girls, because it never seems to lose its hilarity with the elementary school set. 

What's up with this dog, though?  I know; I haven't written in a week!  I've been cooking curry, building more sandcastles, running, getting to know my newly-minted five-year-old (geez!  Five comes in like a lion!), having sleepovers, connecting with former students who need a little TLC, and, well, doing laundry and emptying the dishwasher. 

Speaking of emptying the dishwasher, I thought about writing about Marital Stalemates this week.  You know, the silent detentes that occur when neither partner cares to complete a task and both parties passively/aggressively work around it? 

For example, my husband will wash many dishes rather than empty the dishwasher and reload it.  And, on occasion, I will pile on.  Eventually, someone breaks (or occasionally a dish). 

There's something more reassuring than annoying, I've decided, about recognizing the silent dialogues which occur in the context of a marriage.  The paper towel roll, for example, placed next to but not into its holder, utters a familiar refrain.  As does the pile of clean laundry I shove back in the dryer versus fold when friends come over.  The lone beer bottle in the fridge...or the last beer taken.  The reusable grocery bags waiting by the front door to return to the car trunk.  The dog needing to go out and the child awake in the middle of the night.  My parents employed rock-paper-scissors for diaper changes, etc.  Tag, you're it, we mumble as we roll over or lie still, feigning sleep.  While the other sighs and gets up. 

The whisper of exasperation but ultimate patience we have for each other is actually...wonderful. 

That's all!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Boodles

My baby, you're five today.  Five!  A whole hand.  Take that in your face. 

Five means kindergarten.  Five means no more toddler bed.  Five means reading and writing.  Five means a fistful of minutes, hours, and days you clutch as you wriggle and leap from my grasp.

This year I watched your babyhood fade and the big girl grow, your legs longer and leaner, your senses keener, your observations more insightful. 

You asked for these footy panda pajamas for Christmas because you know how they make you snuggly and still young, which you will always be.  But each night, like clockwork, you yell from your bed that you're hot, and I yell back the same suggestion:  take your jammies off.  And so you do.  Only to wiggle into them again in the morning after you emerge from your bedroom, half naked and bleary eyed, to give me a hug. 

We claim that you're delightfully easygoing, our go-to gal for going with the flow.  But when you're grumpy, watch out.  You still know how to throw a cringe-worthy tantrum and you're no fun on too little sleep. 

There's a certain self sufficiency to you that catches us off guard.  You put your stuff away.  You know where to find things.  You taught yourself to tie your shoes, to ponytail your hair, to fold your clothes.  And then you ask us to brush your teeth, in case we're wondering if still you need us. 

You kick our fannies at concentration games (how do you DO that?); you are the master of goofy faces; you're a sweet caretaker of children younger than you; you know just how to push your big sister's buttons. 

You love penguins, pizza, sweet stuff, dolls, "flatted" blankets, tunafish, shoes, leggings, your cousins, holding hands, and poring over family photo albums. 

You're a loyalist at heart, dear Bear--forever ours, but already your own.

We love you.  High five!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Don't be afrayed, strong heart. 
"Let yourself be silently drawn by the pull of what you really love."  --Rumi

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Card Someone

A former student of mine sends me (and others) postcards now and then as part of her own "Postcard Project."  Sometimes the brief message is a non sequitur, sometimes it's a sweet greeting, and sometimes it's an update on her life or inquiry into mine.   

My creative friend is a poet, editor, and "stationer"--see her line of cards and paper here.  She's inspired me to send her some postal love in return, so before the holidays I bought a set of 100 "Postcards from Penguin," featuring book covers from the publishing house.  I am setting aside a few minutes--on Monday mornings in particular--to send off a couple cards each week. 

To initiate your own postcard project, you need only a roll of postcard stamps, a stack of postcards (you may even have some squired away somewhere), and an inclination to snail mail someone from time to time.  It feels good, I tell you!  And it's cheap and easy.  I've enjoyed looking for the right card to match the right sentiment for the right person (for example, the postcard featuring the cover of the novel 1984 went to my best friend, with some thoughts on what "Big Brother" might have seen if he were watching us back when we were in 7th grade). 

If you need more immediate gratification than sending postcards to friends and hoping they'll respond in kind, check out Postcrossing or The Postcard Project.  My former student introduced me to Postcrossing, and in high school she was one of the students intrigued by PostSecret, a website which publishes postcards created and sent by anonymous contributors revealing secrets (watch out:  it's a voyeuristic window into rooms that are usually locked...).

If you're feeling really crafty, make your own postcard and mail it.  And if you're feeling creative, go all metaphorical and "send" a postcard from a figurative place (as I had my creative writing students do).  Think about where you are right now, and where you could write from (for example, to my forty-something self, from my self in college).  What would you tell your now self from your then self?  What would your now self tell your future self?  You could also write from inside your brain or heart, from "in limbo," from dire straits, from the crossroads... 

Anyway, I would keep some postcard stamps handy.  Just sayin'. 

Friday, February 4, 2011


No longer fumbling, I am firmly forty today.  I'm rocking a head cold, a sequin shirt, some grey roots, and a lucky-to-be-me attitude.  Because I still feel 32

To prepare for the transition, I ditched the lipstick brush and Pilates videos, but piles of papers and clothes await my attention--a testament to the fact that I'm really still me, whether I'm 22, 35, or 40 years old. 

Tonight, I'm going home to have dinner and a movie snugglenest with my husband and daughters; I can't imagine a better way to celebrate the passing and beginning of another year of my life. 

Here's to not fearing my forties.  Happy Birthday to me!

(and many more)