Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Good news

I got an email late last night from Robin at Boston Literary Magazine: "I loved 'Día de los Angelitos' and would love to have it for our spring issue - wonderful writing!"

I've rewritten "Día de los Angelitos" since I posted it back in November by revising it and combining it with another poem I wrote at the same time, on the same subject. I'll post the link to the new poem when the spring issue of BLM goes up on March 15.

One last thing to add: if you are in the market to publish your poetry or short works of prose, I highly suggest you check out BLM's submission guidelines. They're wonderful to work with, and very speedy at getting back to you about your submission; I emailed my poems yesterday morning and heard back in 12 hours. I think that's a new land speed record for the editor of a literary journal!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Baby got back

Yesterday morning when I was in the shower, Audrey knocked on the bathroom door. Since we are in the final stages of potty training her and I had no desire to interrupt her accident-free streak, I told her to come in and do her business--only please don't flush until I'm out of the shower!

I hurriedly rinsed off (better safe than sorry) and as I reached for my towel, I saw Audrey perched on the toilet, carefully gripping the seat. Her eyes widened ever so slightly and a slow grin spread across her face.

"Mom, you have a big bottom," she observed. Then, after a pause, "Girls have little bottoms, so they have to hold on. Ladies have big bottoms, so they don't fall in the toilet."

Just in case I had forgotten, I have no pride left.

At least the source of my deficit of vanity also assures I will be free from the humiliation of falling in.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins

We just got back from the Bookworms Club, a chapter book reading club which meets every week at the public library. Last fall we, or rather Jimmy, attended the picture book club, which I thought was probably a bit below his reading level, but I wanted to start out easy getting him used to the norms of the group. When the schedule came out for the new session, I signed him up for the chapter book club, and his first meeting was this afternoon.

Sue, one of the children's librarians, reads to the kids and then leads an activity related to what they're reading. Today the kids came upstairs from the meeting doing a stiff, penguin-like march, and Sue told me she's reading "Mr. Popper's Penguins" to them.

According to Sue, this is her first time reading it, but I remember the book well from my childhood, when I received it as a Christmas gift one year from my grandparents. If you have or know kids, it's a great book to read and share with them--funny, imaginative, surprisingly tender--and apparently, soon to be a motion picture starring Jim Carrey in the titular role.

After what he did to the Grinch, I may not be able to watch it; some things are better left alone.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I may be the wife of one of the most politically incorrect men on the planet. It's not that he goes out of his way to be offensive, or that he's confrontational about it, or that he's a bigot. Rather, he's no respecter of persons--in a quiet, gleefully obstinate refusal to give anyone special treatment, for any reason.

I don't know what's at the root of it (I do have a few theories), but while it embarrassed me a bit for the first few years we were married, I've gotten used to it. I don't even roll my eyes anymore or pretend I don't know him.

Here's an example: at our house, the third Monday in January isn't Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It's MLKFC. That's right, the whole family piles into the car and observes the holiday by going out to fried chicken.

I know, terrible.

Apparently this tradition started a couple years before Jim and I got married, when he and his best friend Matt were having what I'm sure was a cringe-worthy discussion about the holiday. For the first couple years Jim and I were together, I boycotted MLKFC. Jim accused me (and probably rightly so) of being brainwashed by the Seattle School District's progressive liberal agenda (busing, anyone?) and regaled me with reasons why King shouldn't be idolized after a a life riddled with both professional and personal dishonesty. Which is true, but (I think) no reason to devalue the tremendous contribution he made to human rights; our nation's history is fully of deeply flawed individuals who still worked great good for people everywhere.

So Jim and I agreed to disagree. And now, at the risk of being a hypocrite, I go to MLKFC because 1) those buttermilk biscuits are SO good; 2) my kids need to hear another side of the story so they can make up their own minds about the Reverend Dr. King; and 3) let's face it: if I don't have to do the dishes after, I'm there.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Obscurity and competance

A while ago, my friend Kim at pagooey made an observation that resonated deeply inside me:

"If you wake up in the morning, if you're still Here, then there must be something left in this world that you're supposed to do. Originally I attached some pretty noble/vain aspirations to myself, out of this...but at 40, I've allowed that perhaps My True Purpose On This Earth is not necessarily to cure cancer, or attain the Presidency, or even write that blockbuster bestseller that gets me on Oprah. Maybe my purpose is smaller in scope, or meant to be taken a day at a time."

It gelled for me today on some never-before-reached level, as I was I teaching my Primary class of 9, 10 and 11 year-olds at church. Our lesson was about how John the Baptist was foreordained to his calling, and how all of us have our own unique callings we can choose to accept. Or not. Even for those who aren't religious, I believe there's a compelling universal truth in the idea that we each have a purpose to accomplish in life, one we can tap into when we listen to the cosmos--or whatever higher power we recognize--and follow where it leads.

As I was teaching, I had an "aha" moment when I realized I'm actually content--not resigned--but at peace with more modest purposes than I used to dream of: learning the art of being patient with my children, nurturing their minds and bodies, reading books for pleasure as well as knowledge, getting laundry done, working at my marriage, taking care of my body, once or twice a month cleaning the toilet, and slowly (but surely) building up a body of cohesive poems for my first chapbook (probably not the Pulitzer Prize-winner I once fancied, but a start). Those are things I can do, and possibly even do well, one day at a time.

Mark Twain had it when he said, "Obscurity and competance--that is the life that is best worth living."

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's not you, it's me

Have I been a bit quiet lately? Yeah, I know. Recently it has come to my attention I'm not doing so well at communicating. Looking at my blog and the recent dearth of posts, I see yet another arena where I've shut down the lines of communication.

One of the things I've realized as I've tried to sort this out and identify what went wrong, is that grieving pretty much continuously for the last year has altered me, particularly in the way I define my boundaries with the outside world.

I don't know if the change is permanent; only time will tell. Old me tended to talk too much to everyone, about everything: my life, kids, thoughts, feelings, music, movies, art, you name it--I was the queen of 411 overload.

New me may talk from time to time to certain people who ask and show signs of actually listening to the answers, but I keep it brief, and I would really rather just keep it to myself. From time to time emotions spill out when new me has a ready listener, but I try to avoid that scenario. In fact, new me will actually retreat and hide when I see people I know I don't want to talk to, especially those over-sharers who seem to think I should listen to their problems, which I must understand because of what I've recently been through.

In other words, I tend to avoid people like old me.

I don't necessarily think any of this is bad. Being cured of the tendency to talk too much is probably a good thing. And I definitely think it's okay to be aware of my boundaries and give myself the space I need to grieve. I don't feel like there's anything wrong with avoiding people who have babies or people who want to rehash their own miscarriages if I'm having a hard time that day. I'm just not ready for that yet. But what is bad is when I shut down communicating to the people who I love, and forget to share with them how I'm doing.

So this is me saying we're working on doing better with the whole talking about feelings thing. Both of us.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New design

Time for a change-up in keeping with my philosophy for the coming year: keep it clean, simple and fun.

Happy New Year!