Monday, May 28, 2007


Spring brought with it an urge to spank my house into shape. For me the urge itself was a relief. I had become comfortable with clutter and disarray after my breakdown. I'd had to be. There was a time when I couldn't do anything about it because I was in bed crying, and after that was a time when I taught myself to let go of general housewifery in order to stop yelling about the shit all over the kitchen counter and kicking shoes against walls because some asshole left them in my path.

All of this was wonderful and instructive, but as of this spring, I couldn't contain myself anymore. I really needed to reorder the linen closet. I really needed to plant flowers and herbs and I really needed to dig compost into all the planting beds.

This kind of work required my strong back, but it also required trips to big-box stores, and it required substantial mental energy spent on the merits of bamboo storage bins and a complete inventory of the house in order to figure out where in the hell to put the dog food bin so we can use the shoe cubby for shoes. Etcetera.

This can be sort of fun. What household manager hasn't experienced the breathless rush of possibility upon entering a place like The Container Store? Alas, all problems are not solved in one four-hour block while the kids are at home with the sitter. I learned for the hundredth time that this sort of organizational and freshening campaign requires merchandise that must be measured, scrutinized, paid for, experimented with, and, about 50% of the time, returned. Which necessitates more car trips.

But I was into it. I solved the kitchen command center problem. I solved the toy storage problem. I amended the soil in my yard and planted dozens of new plants. I bought a big-girl bed for Audrey, and moderately-priced bedding from a giant chain store. (I wanted to splurge on cool stuff from Habitat but it turns out that these groovy modern bedding design houses don't make their groovy stuff in twin size. Probably they figure no sane person would spend that kind of money on a kid's duvet cover.) I still have not solved the shoe cubby problem.

But that's fine because I'm all emptied out now. I can't spend another moment in one of those stores. I can't spend another drop of brainpower on what color towels to get for the bathroom. I don't want to buy anything or fix anything or make anything happen. I just want to sit in the sun and read novels. I want to primp the flowers with Jonah, and have evening picnics on the front lawn, and, in a larger sense, tend what I have created.

Now, as I try over and over to write, I keep hearing the voice of writing-guru Natalie Goldberg in my head: "Sometimes, you're empty."

Sometimes you're empty. There's a new thing to observe. What is it like when I am basically done creating for the moment? What is it like when striving has ceased? There's nothing to work out. Things are proceeding as they're going to proceed. I can sit on my deck and look at the orange nemesia that I planted in pots last month radiate color and warmth. A breeze will cause the blossoms to tremble, exposing their pink undersides. My black dog will streak across the yard and stop short at the cedar tree while a squirrel scratches up the trunk and chatters in victory.

This is all punctuated by my children demanding a graham cracker and insisting I decide a disagreement over who has the rights to the squirt bottle. But that's fine.

This is just being. It's okay not to be trying to make something out of nothing. If memory serves, Natalie Goldberg also says that when you are empty, you are supposed to lie around and watch the grass grow for awhile. Doing nothing is a great opportunity for spiritual practice, as well as a time for recharging. So I needn't feel guilty.

Plus, we all know it won't last.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Yoga at Shows

I am a useful person to go to rock shows with. Not only will I drink too much and amuse you, but if you get fatigued by all the standing around, I know Things to make you feel better.

At Silversun Pickups, I did a maneuver on my friend Sara that made her go slack and groan. I stood behind her, bent my knees, grasped the sides of her ribcage, and used my powerful mama arms and legs to lift her spine and decompress her lower back. She did actually groan. Later, when she complained again about her back (because we're getting too old to stand around for hours on end waiting for silly bands to finish whatever they are doing backstage before coming out), I placed my hands on her upper buttocks and squeezed the flesh in toward her sacrum. We've known each other for approximately 57 years, so she didn't mind me touching her butt. Her face brightened. "I feel so much better!" she said.

I learned all this at my prenatal yoga training. I love knowing that I can make someone feel better. Plus, I can make myself feel better.

At The Long Winters, my lower back was killing me. I'd been to the above-mentioned show the night before, and had just done two days of more yoga training. As my great-grandparents used to say, I was tard. I turned to my husband, who is tall and strong and tolerant, and said, "Remember when I was in labor and I hung on you during contractions? Let's do that now." He assumed the position. I faced him, threaded my arms underneath his armpits and up around his shoulders, then let my body hang. I buried my face in his stomach. He stood there and allowed it. Afterwards, a couple about our age snuck sly glances at us. The woman laughed in what appeared to be a knowing way. I bet she was either a mom and knew what I was doing, or she thought I was a tard. I didn't care either way because now I felt much less cranky.

I promise never to do any of this to you unless you ask. You may have to put up with me disappearing into a forward bend every now and then. If I'm there and then suddenly I'm not, just look down. If you are feeling generous, please pull my shirt down over my butt crack. Thanks.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Dinner Conversation

Me: "Hey, guys, how about some sliced apples with cinnamon?"

Audrey: "Yeah!"

Jonah: "Mumble mumble mumble."

Me: "What was that, Jonah?"

Jonah: "Mom, I'm not really in the mood for things with cinnamon."

Me: "Ok, so do you want apple without cinnamon?"


Me: "Jonah?"

Jonah: "Just bacon."

Audrey: "I don't want bacon!"

Friday, May 04, 2007

Medication, for Better or for Worse

So the Wellbutrin causes my brain to melt when I ingest mere drops of alcohol, a fact I've detailed in a previous post. I find myself slurring and talking about things I ordinarily would keep to myself. This is annoying.

It's annoying because pre-Wellbutrin I'd been having fun playing with awareness about verbal restraint. Awareness of where my energy goes via the hot air I produce leads me to tone down general verbal incontinence. It means before I speak, I flash on my motivation. This is very instructive.

(My yoga teacher talks about leaking prana, which means wasted energy, and a person can really leak a lot of prana shooting the bull about things that are of absolutely no consequence to anyone. This doesn't mean that I only talk about Important Things. I don't have anything against people who only talk about Important Things, I just don't want to hang out with them.)

Before I added this new drug to my regimen, I usually had the presence of mind to observe my motivation for talking at some point during a day. Sadly, the Wellbutrin turned out to be a verbal diuretic. Talk about leaks. Recently I have found myself going on and on about Martha Stewart, the failed Seattle Commons of ten years ago and how stupid the failure was because look what's happened to South Lake Union anyway, and, the other night at a small dinner party, towels.

I didn't start it. The hostess did. I mentioned, while helping place cloth napkins on the table, how a little girl we had over for a play date recently told me that cloth was best because paper kills the environment. My hostess friend looked at me with a wrinkled expression.

"I don't know," she said. "With all the laundry I do, it hardly seems that way."

I gave her a "yeah, well, who knows?" kind of shrug. She pressed further. "What's your system for towels and napkins?"

Because I have one, I told her. She led me into the bathroom to show me the new bamboo-fiber washcloths she had purchased, ostensibly to offset the environmental damage she was causing by washing all linen items after only one use. We proceeded to stand in the bathroom and discuss our towel-use habits at length. And our bathing habits. At a certain point I flashed on conversations I have had while stoned. I thought, this feels like I'm stoned. Am I stoned? Where's my margarita?

Next day, while filling my pill-dispenser for the week, I cut all the Wellbutrins in half. Soon I'll be Wellbutrin-free.

Will this be better or worse?