Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Short Story, Part One

Several days ago, Adam said to me:

"When I wake I up in the morning, I feel excited to go to work. At the end of the day, I feel excited to be home."

This statement may sound normal and mundane to you. It may not have made the ground underneath you shake. For me, it might as well have been a talking burning bush or trumpets from heaven or the first time the man you are falling for hard tells you he loves you.

It is not easy to find something you love to do. Maybe it is for some people, but those some people have not historically been Adam and I. There has been struggle, especially the last three years. We have both had months of feeling lost and futureless to depths that scared the shit out of each other.

And yet, "when I wake I up in the morning, I feel excited to go to work. At the end of the day, I feel excited to be home." Maybe at some point I had grander ideas of what happiness should sound like, but now, this sounds about perfect. Hearing Adam say those words makes at least some of the recent struggle worth it. And, though I am not saying those words myself, it gives me hope. Which, we all know, is my very favorite feeling of all.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Color of Four

It is hard to have profound original thoughts about children doing what they are biological programmed to do: get older every day.  It is definitely a profound and bewildering process, but original it is not. However, it FEELS original when you are witnessing it first hand in your own house by your own flesh and blood. It's a front row seat to the evolution and biology show and its amazing.  It is this feeling that is behind the 4 zillion mommy blogs and billions upon billions of baby firsts/birthday/how-is-my-baby-in-kindergarten Facebook posts. You out there without kids may never choose or not choose to experience this feeling in regards to children, but you did experience the same sense of profound awe at something that in the larger sense of things is normal, routine, and experienced by everyone that time you visited a new-to-you continent and Instagramed the same bridge that billions instagramed before you. So, don't gripe about baby posts if you've ever posted a vacation pic, concert pic, fourteen pictures of the deck you built by hand.  Besides, isn't finding what you think is amazing about our very normal existence pretty much the point of life?

Anyway, Alma is four and every single day of watching her grow has nearly made my mind explode from wonder.

We threw Alma a birthday party in the park at the top of our hill (everyone has an "our hill" in SF). It started out simply but then got a bit more involved, as things tend to do. We were all about color.  Here's a snapshot:

 The four was backward most of the time and usually looked more like a sword than a number, but Alma thought it was the best thing ever. Helium filled balloons always let me down so I tied bunches of regular balloons together and they worked splendidly without the disappointing deflation or fly away. I love bunting and garland, you should know this about me by now. I made a ton. I used some I had made in the past. It was every where. 

Although we had a contained space above a playground, I wanted to have some activities set up to keep the kids around before they dispersed in the playground. I dyed noodles with rubbing alcohol and food dye and had a necklace making station and set up a space for kids to make their own crowns. 

Alma asked for a chocolate, vanilla, strawberry cake and so, much hacking and butter later, the above giant cake was born. I used a devils food cake for the 2 chocolate layers and a vanilla cake with a touch of almond for the vanilla cake layers. For the filling, I puréed strawberries and added them to a cream cheese frosting in which I had drastically decreased the butter and sugar. This made for a delicious filling, but as the last picture shows, not the most stabilizing. I frosted the whole thing with the best cream cheese frosting I have ever made. I made colored letters by melting white chocolate, adding color, and pouring into a silicon mold. There was lots of other food, but no pictorial evidence. I made giant platters of fruits and veggies arranged by color from green to yellow to orange to red. There was sticky sweet colored caramelized popcorn. Adam smoked chicken for a sandwich bar. I made way too much but it was probably the easiest and most effective and delightful food plan yet.

For favors, I made little pouches filled with a homemade notebook, crayons, pencils, and an eraser. Alma threw in a few Lightning McQueen tattoos for good measure. I made the notebooks by sewing printer paper into blank notecards. Alma and I made the crayons but cutting up her old ones and melting them on low heat in a silicon ice cube tray. I walked into a Home Depot in Sacremento a few weeks ago at 7 in the morning and walked right back out with a hundred paint samples. I sewed them together to hold the favors and sewed more to hold napkins and utensils. This was quite the use what I had/could make/could borrow kind of shindig.

 After filling them with sugar, the kids played on the hill above and the playground below. The party's existence was comforting. We knew no one who attended the party for longer than 5 months and yet there were people there, really very great people at that. Our lives in SF are getting fuller. 


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Reasons for occasional bad behavior

54 individually written and edited cover letters explaining why my experience would make me a good fit for each specific job. 20 plus online applications which did not require a cover letter or re-used a previously submitted one. Three month time period. Zero jobs. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Shameless Product Placement

Alma wanted a Seesaw t-shirt too.  I took my Seesaw t-shirt plus two tired out t-shirts, used a dress that fits her well as a pattern, and made us our own little walking billboard. A dusk photo shoot on our very very mini back porch ensued. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Tasks of Superheroes

Thanks to iphone apps and the convenience of Hawaii being three hours behind and Philadelphia three hours ahead, there is only a brief period of time in which NPR is not playing in my house. It is my primary source of news and information but I also just like the calm monotone voice sounds and Ratatat interludes.

However, it has gotten a bit more complicated now that Alma's ears are more preceptive and her brain more understanding. I do censor what she hears to some extent. For example, I didn't listen to NPR at all around her immediately after the Sandy Hook shooting or the Boston Marathon Bombing. But, the news is full of all kinds of things both big and small in their terribleness and it is not always clear what is appropriate for her to hear and what is not. She does this thing where she will pick up on one word that is said and say it back in a loud and disbelieving voice, as though the word were the funniest thing she has ever heard. Tonight I was listening to Marketplace and she said, "Mom! Money Laundry!!!! That's silly!"

During the coverage of the recent tornado, it became clear that she was not only repeating key words but understanding some of the context. Tornado is a terribly funny word to say over and over again. After she was done with that, she said, "The big tornado knocked down the whole city. Did people die?" I explained that the tornado was really big and people got hurt, some so badly that their bodies stopped working. Immediately, she responded, "When I am big, I'm gonna be Superman and then I'll fly really fast and push that tornado away and then no one will be hurt." She then ran out of the room and put on her cape and mask and flew around the house tackling imaginary tornadoes and cats.

I want to bottle that hope, that ingenuity. I want to capture the feeling that whatever is wrong is smaller than her, seal it in an age resistent container, and save it for her for that moment when life suddenly has a growth spurt and gnashes its terrible teeth. I want felt and craft glue and imagination to always save the day. I know that it can't, but I WANT it. I WANT it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day Trip of Beautiful

This town is a town made for day trips. Conveniently, my friend Kindra is a friend made for road trips.   Kindra, Alma, and I took a trip down route one to Big Sur a few weeks ago. Kindra was up for stopping and exploring everything and anything and that is exactly what we did.

The drive down route one is a thing of mystery and beauty filled with vistas and rocks and cliffs to explore. Also, apparently, dead trees for posing.

I found Swanton Berry Farm a few weeks previously and had been dreaming about the blackberry pie ever since. Its filled with kitch and all things delicious. It made the perfect lunch stop. Yes, pie is a perfectly respectable lunch.

    We found three amazing beaches. Each one was epic and would have made for a good day by themselves. All three made for something else all together. 

 So, when are you coming to visit?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The one that doesn't get a title (except this one)

I dropped my parents off at the airport about 25 minutes ago. It was the last goodbye of a month and a half of visitors and by far the hardest. Nothing feels like it is going right at this moment. For reasons that would take a long and frustrating explanation, I still have no job and no prospect of a job. I have no friends here. I have no family outside of Alma and Adam here. I feel like I have no ground under my feet.

This place is beautiful but it still feels like I am on vacation and I am desperate to go home. I will figure out how to move on from this feeling. I will.