Friday, March 26, 2010


This buzz of a few months - where Christmas ended and suddenly it's almost April - so much busy-ness I've ceased having complete thoughts. (And have taken to losing things in my own home.)

Vancouver saw an early spring. The cruel joke of Winter Olympics - when I left Atlanta in the south's version of a snow storm, and arrived in British Columbia to record highs and the greenest grass I'd seen all winter. It was magic, there - how misty days would run together and you would find yourself deep in the belly of a cloud. The cloud would lift and - surprise! - you would be surrounded by spectacular mountains, scenery invisible to you the day before.

While there, my workmate and new friend, Heather, planned wedding bits from afar. I grilled her for details, and marveled a little at the different aspects of our lives we weave together - work here, wedding and family there.

I returned after six weeks away and, in something of a haze, for three days unpacked and did laundry and packed again. We went on Spring Break. Here, too early for such a break - Blue Ridge foothills where nowhere near as green as the foothills of what I believe is the Cascades. It was beautiful, though - with a daily dose of stunning waterfalls and streams.

On our first day out, we went to Chimney Rock, and witnessed a marriage proposal. The couple was buoyant, beaming, young. The boy had a rock carved with "will you marry me..." on it, had placed the rock in among the other flat stones of the observation deck. We took pictures.

The third day out - it happened again! We were in a National Park this time - looking down at a waterfall - and a guy came running up to us. "Could you help me with something really cool? I am about to propose to my girlfriend down there
- could you take my camera and get some pictures?" Fantastic. Of course we could. It is, apparently, What We Do.

We came home and, in something of a haze, for three days unpacked and did laundry and packed again for a wedding in Florida. We all went - the whole fam.

The kids hadn't been to one before, and this was in the Ocala National Forest. An old friend of mine was getting married - my high school prom date, in fact - and my godson's mom / daughter's godfather's wife officiated. My oldest and dearest friend, Tica, lives nearby and we would host a party together Thursday (something I would never do on my own...)

I am in love at weddings. I never love my life, Gavin, or friends and family present, more. Weddings, in almost any form, make me giddy.

There were days of activities - great food (all prepared by the bride and groom and presumably, many elves), cocktails and dancing and spanish moss and bluegrass and sunshine. Friends from long ago- still themselves, all still versions of who they were 20+ years back. From the Cuban sandwiches Thursday night to setting the pitch via pitch pipe for Amy's rehearsal Saturday morning to playing with my godson and twin Sunday afternoon (while possibly hungover)... A perfect weekend, bracketed by rain that never fell on any of it.

I kept being struck by all the work we put into Beginning. All the attention paid to Starting. For our wedding 13 years ago, I only knew there would be a mass, and I wanted friends and family accounted for, people from different stages of each of our lives in one place. I wanted to count heads and feel love and dance to great music. I wanted the accountability of an audience. With a couple of gin and tonics and dancing after.

At weddings - Andy and Todd last year, Bill and Gia this - there is so much optimism. So much promise and enthusiasm and prayers both spiritual and secular. Everything changes, right there. And yet nothing does, really. Denise officiated, and we watched, and I thought, wow. So much has been bestowed upon her. Bill and Gia wrote their own vows. And they stood there - and they promised. And by the power invested in her, Denise pronounced and introduced.

Spring has sprung, beginnings have begun. Let's get started.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Last night, Annabeth lost two teeth. (Five minutes after this photo was taken, she pulled the second one.)

To say she 'lost' them is to put a rosy and passive blush onto what was surely an active (and, to judge from the blood loss, somewhat violent) extraction. They were very loose. And she wanted them out. She is almost 8 - and it is a rite of passage she was starting to fear was passing her by entirely. We assisted, at her request, in helping her narrowly dodge that fate.

Her tiny teeth were collected by a fairy. Prior to that offering, I held them up to my teeth. They were a quarter the size. I cannot imagine the her that will emerge with her new giant teeth. How it will change her face. Her between-grins-grin will smile gummily from First Communion photos next month, and from atop her sparkly leotard in her annual gymnastics recital. There is a sweetness in the toothlessness, the loss of baby that exits with the milk teeth.

I remember lost teeth. A palpable loss. You can stick your tongue where there had been a tooth and the raw, yielding gums around space are at once fascinating and somewhat horrifying. You admire your freakish toothless appearance - and, if you are me (which I know for certain you are not. But hear me out...) you are plagued with a lifetime's supply of nightmares and anxiety dreams that perfectly replicate that tongue-to-gap differentness.

Other losses tend to be less tangible. Something was here, now it's gone - and maybe something will replace it. I missed, oddly, babies in my belly for the first weeks after each was born. They seemed safer there. I miss places I've moved from, people that used to be in my life. The memories are foggy, though. There is no muscle memory that can replicate my grandfather's giant hand - with leathery back, crooked strong fingers, and calloused palms; the smell of the ocean after hours at the end of a hot day; the first voices of each of my children.

I lost my job. I can't even grasp that one yet. And I really, truly care so much less than I am supposed to. I know I should look. But at the moment, I am so grateful for the spaces in which I can organize other spaces. I like this in-between place, with no clear sense of what is next. Oddly, I am afraid I like it a bit much.

Yesterday, I had jury duty - which I approach with the heavy sense of responsibility - a Pollyanna-ish belief that this is my Duty. That this is Democracy. Jobless, it was no hardship. I thought of Denise, who is a judge. Robin and Agatha who work for judges. I served, though I was never called. Six hours later, I got up from my seat and left Gavin's Kindle behind. A new toy I was just getting used to, a novel I had 18% completed (per the measure below and to the left of the text.) Gone.

On the way home, Gav called me. Oblivious, as yet, to the missing Kindle, he was warning me about the drive - which route to take. Atlanta traffic, the hassle of here-to-there - the plotting of alternatives. And then? I never saw my phone again. It's here. Though I have torn apart the car, the couch, the garage, bookshelves. I have offered cash prizes to household members. And I can't believe I am being kept from several active Scrabble games.

The organized, fantasy me would have one spot for all those baby teeth. They would be labled with dates. They would be in tiny pill bottles, specific to each child. That me would never leave a Kindle behind, would know where my phone is, would have current calendars up and would have begun the real spring cleaning I vaguely imagine. That me would have a fat savings account from years of careful attention. That me would be called on that phone by friends who would say "wow! I don't know how you stay so organized! So disciplined! You make it look so easy!"

This me needs to look for the phone, get the job, replace the Kindle, do the laundry, make the new calendars and get started with dinner. And every bit of it is much easier than I will manage to make it look. (Well, except for the job bit. But I can blame the economy for that one.)

So. Annabeth lost teeth. I lost, a few weeks back, a consistent paycheck. Yesterday I lost a Kindle. And an iPhone.

Tomorrow, I think I will work on gaining.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


With apologies to Jason Reitman, "up in the air" is a metaphor I really need right now. For some of the same the reasons it worked so well in his movie.

I have flown for long stretches over the last six weeks. And flying - as a layman with absolutely no understanding of aeronautical engineering - requires a leap of faith for me. I think "how do it do this?" Relying, as I am, on a giant tin can to hurtle me above the earth at unfathomable speeds. Trusting, as I do, that it's ok to have the clouds under me, that the hard earth below will receive me gently - delivered by metal wings, guided by a man in a uniform, festooned with medals, about whom I know nothing.

Up in the air. When you are between destinations. When you rely on fate or luck or planning - or the convergence of all these and timing - to get you from where you are to where you will be. When the where you will be is indeterminate, or the path to it is unclear.

I trusted the planes, and I was delivered - to a job that ended, to a past career that warranted re-visiting. To home again, twice.

The plane landed and I am home, but I am still up there - a little ungrounded.

I don't know what comes next.

I closed a door, definitively. Four weeks later, I am returning home to job hunt. And learned, in the Salt Lake City Airport during the 45-minute layover, that my thumb drive that included my last invoice to that other job was destroyed. That all my writing samples from that other job were also irrevocably corrupted.

Six weeks elsewhere, and returning to motherhood and reality, I learned that the spreadsheet that defined how I am to distribute 55 boxes of Girl Scout cookies is also quite gone. And I have no idea what it said, because I was between places when I created it.

In the Salt Lake airport, I didn't quite cry. But tears sprung to my eyes and I talked myself down. Questioning, at once, my organizational skills both maternal and professional, I swiped my eyes, swallowed the growing lump, and embarked the plane.

I settled in, somehow, next to a race car driver. In his sixties, on his way to Jackson, Mississippi to race a car.

I have never talked with someone before, on a plane.

For five hours, the charming Brit and I looked at our separate lives through common interests, common sensibilities. David (his name, learned just before wheels touched down) is a farmer mechanic, as was my grandfather. A grower of things, a builder of race cars, a flyer of planes, a sailer of boats. He is a father, a grandfather. He is stationary, on his island - and he is the most mobile of mobiles - building and racing cars - having returned to this version of himself at 60 after a 30-year hiatus.

He told a story, my flight mate. Of a fisherman.

The fisherman is casting his line when he is approached by a banker.

"Why not hire some laborers to fish for you? You get a cut of what they bring in. The more you hire, the more you collect. Eventually, you won't have to do any of the work. They will do it for you. Money will roll in. You can retire. "

"But what would I do?," replied the fisherman, curious.

"Well, then you would have all the time in the world to spend at the beach. Fishing," replied the businessman.

"Ah. And how is that different from what I do... now..?"

For now, I will enjoy a little inflicted-upon-me leisure time. I will count my ducks, go on Spring Break, and enjoy my children without a corporate-mandated to do list hanging in the wings. I will look for work - and I will try to remember these past weeks - filled with some of what I love and some of what I loathe, some of what fits, and some of what doesn't. I will try to know something of what I want before I begin the chase.

I may even fish.