As I experience the flu AND caring for an absolutely non-sick toddler bored with Blues Clues, Thomas, Cars, Little Einsteins and basically any dvd in his collection, bored with puzzles and bubbles indoors and sticking playdough to the walls, I offer this blog break w/picture, taken from my sick chaise-longue in the backyard, where I can be found reclining in sun and wind on the thinning brown mattress, moaning lightly as he digs passionately in the dirt pile.
Archive for April, 2010
Last week I sat deep in a canyon next to a rushing creek. I was amazed by the emotion this busy bit of nature created in me. All was concurrently canyon-serene and utterly riotous. The creek was thunder and Zen, a zealot’s feverish telling and a whisper softer than bee-speak. Mind-tweaking. Very.
I sat on the flat, sun-infused boulder, watching T toss pebbles into thunder-bubbles, into the catchy, incessant water-laugh, water-rage. LodylodylodyROCKINTHEWATER, shouted my son. I glanced downstream: more boulders, domed as lazing turtles, pond-greens, canyon shadow so Chumash, so cave and tearing, water precious, dappled skin stretching into slap and roil and rage.
What were my feelings? Loss and bounty. What were my thoughts? Knots and gold beach. Focused, anyway—funneled. What was my name? My son held it in his little hands, felt it, shook it like dice, tossed it to eternity. His eyes found mine and he laughed.
We held hands and climbed up the trail, back into the sun and poppy fields. When he said, Dadda, I knew we’d both been on the same wavelength. Where else would my mind rush to after experiencing such a roughing up? Home. 75 miles South. T was checking in. I nodded at him.
And we moved amicably on to the beach. Low tide. Sweet shush, shush, shush.
1. BLACK HOLE IN BORDERS
Lady Clerk scans my items in Borders as my son declares, loudly, his confusion as to why there’s no debit machine on his side of the checkout desk. Lady Clerk says to me: You really should come to our toddler’s storytime. Your kid would love it. I lead the reading and we have LOTS of fun.
Me: Actually, he doesn’t do well at story—
Lady Clerk: Your email isn’t coming up in the system. Give it to me.
Me (shifting my son to my other hip): Um, okay—I do get emails from Borders, though—
Lady Clerk: Just give it to me.
I give her my email, spelling it out not once, twice, but three times as my son squirms and demands the non-existent buttons and yanks on the collar of my coat like it’s a bell pull and he’s announcing a fire to the town…Or something like that…I am operating on a late night of tax prep and an early rising, 5:15a.m., when all of my son’s lights went on like—like a Mama’s nightmare.
Lady Clerk: Yeah, but there’s usually an at. Like, at Yahoo dot com. What is your at.
Me: At PB Rippey dot com.
Lady Clerk: Yeah, but there’s always an at. What’s your at, your AT.
Me: At PB Rippey dot com?
Lady Clerk: No, that’s wrong. There is always an AT.
My son: BUTTONS??? BUTTONS MAMA???
Me (with significance and focus): At PB Rippey dot com.
Lady Clerk: Just give me the whole email address again. I have the first part, letter Z, letter P, now what’s the AT?
Me: Not Z. It’s P as in—perambulator. B as in—bulimia. At. PB Rippey dot com.
Lady Clerk (with a scolding sort of glance): Ah, well! You didn’t say that before. Storytime is Tuesdays at……….
Blah, blah, blah.
What I wish I’d said, being the Queen Of Hindsight:
1. Actually, I told you my correct email three times. OR
2. You know what? You’re just not hearing me today. Let’s move on. OR
3. STORYTIME IS FOR SUCKAHS TURKEY LEG!
2. IN THE POST OFFICE VORTEX
Me (after waiting patiently for the postal lady behind the counter to sort her post office-y items and chat to her coworker about drainpipes disengaging from stucco): I’d like to mail this, please.
Postal Lady Clerk (weighs my manila envelope): Dollar ninety-five.
Me (as T, on my hip, lunges for the buttons of the debit machine): Oof. Here you are.
Postal Lady Clerk (with great alarm): This is a twenty!!! Don’t you have anything smaller?
Me: Ow. T! Careful of mama’s kidney. I’m sorry, no, I don’t have—
Postal Lady Clerk (raises my twenty dollar bill and waves it at her coworker at the other end of the long post office counter): She’s wiping me out! Do you have any ones?
Her cohort (with a derisive snort): Nope.
Postal Lady Clerk: She’s taking all of my change with this twenty. You’ve got to help me out!
Her cohort (snorting): No, I don’t. Use some of your coins as change.
I have now ceased to exist in the post office. I don’t even offer to use my debit card because 1) T has taken over the debit machine and, 2) I am invisible.
Postal Lady Clerk: She could have given me something smaller, gone to the store first and broken the twenty. Whole Foods it’s just next door! Anyone can see that.
Her cohort: Snort.
Postal Lady Clerk (handing me my change): I’m wiped out. I’m just plain wiped out.
I haul my son from the counter and leave the place for good.
What I wish I’d said:
1. Excuse me, stop—listen—I can use my debit card if you give me a second. OR,
2. Hi–I’m standing right here in front of you and am totally aware of everything you are saying. Can we find a solution? OR:
3. I HOPE YOUR DRAIN PIPES RUST TURKEY TAIL!
3. STRANGERS IN HELL
I can’t even go here without becoming a livid, raving, rabid beast as it involves my child being reprimanded by some guy.
What I wish I’d said:
1, 2, and 3: TALK TO THE HAND TURKEY BREATH!
This response feels cathartic and right, even if it’s immature and wrong of me. It’s better than murder. And maybe I wouldn’t have felt better saying it, but I wish I’d thought of it at the time. My hindsight is keeping me up nights. What to do?
If April is the “cruellest month”, here’s to May’s blithely bobbing, uber-fragrant, terminally cheerful flowers. And to turkeys with good breath and gams. And most of all, here’s to sleep, sleep little boy, sleep from 9:00p.m. until at least 6:00a.m. Enjoy your night’s rest—and watch the return of your mama’s sanity, watch her hindsight rise to the surface of her blank, frayed consciousness, watch her deal with snarky people with confidence and ease, defying the suck of black holes, et al, handling everyday crises so well that never again will you hear her muttering angrily in the minivan as she screeches from the premises of venues previously oh-just-fine to visit. Here’s to the bobbing flowers, to sleep and to the next visit to Border’s. I know what black holes smell like. I recognize the eerie shimmer of an approaching vortex. I am an adult. Ha, ha! Watch me, baby. Watch me rise. Lullaby, and good night…
Or something like that.
Married 3 years, parent 2 years and 4 months, homeowner for less than 1 year: these simple facts are still sinking into my everyday reality, like a shoe going slowly down in a thick, bubble-popping bog. I will glance out the kitchen window, marveling at house finches perched blithely on scary-thorny stalks of the rose bushes, or I will study the front lawn the rains have given us, or I’ll clown for my son barefoot in the backyard on that new, luscious lawn and BAM, the shoe is sucked under by bog and I’m left wasted and trembling, thinking: that’s my lawn, my rose bush–I planted it. That’s my rock and my tree root and my leaf dappled walkway. Huh (I muse shakily). I’m married. That’s my child singing the “Little Einsteins” theme song as he waters the beachball. That’s my cobwebbed beam in my living room, my clunking garbage disposal in my kitchen, my birch flooring. I have birch flooring and it’s mine. I am a birch flooring sort of homeowner. I am not renting! (I muse, palms sweating, chills scuttling down my spine) I am not renting! I live in a house, my own house, I own the house. I am happily married and I have a child as wondrous as comets or spring tulips. Wow. Somebody throw me a banana.
The shoe sinks, reality hits and I, a writer, a poet, come up with: Wow. Somebody throw me a banana.
And then I scrub the toilet. Wash dishes. Wipe fingerprints from windows and computer screens. And then I fill a blue plastic bucket with water, place it on the sand and water table outdoors and watch my son go wild splashing. And then I change his diaper, take him grocery shopping or to a playdate or a park or the endlessly fascinating aisles of Target—or I’m teaching about escalators or I’m making him meals I pray he’ll approve of—or I’m riding the exercise bike or I’m paying bills or I’m waiting for him to fall asleep at night, collapsed with a glass of wine and 3 loads of laundered items needing a Puritan folding as “Chariots Of Fire” fills the TV screen and my husband utterly explains his day…
And instead of reeling from stunning, earth renting insight, I start feeling as though we’ve always been this little famly of 3 in our house in pleasantly shushed suburbs we used to scoff at when we were dating and doing radical things like seeing movies in theatres and eating at restaurants. Oh how far we’ve come.
Shoe? I know you’re bogged down, but maybe resurface to sink again if you happen to notice I’m becoming too complacent, too stressed or impatient—because finches on rose bushes, their tiny claws precisely spaced, deftly avoiding thorns sharp enough to be amputation devices—or my son in March light, cometing, vibrant—or my husband enthusiastically mowing our new lawns—such bits should never go unnoticed, never deserve a glance, but a pondering of at least a minute, enough time for a passionate savoring before housework trumpets like a runaway beast and I sink into acquired domesticity.
California on its best, most magical behavior. Or, rather, Hendry’s Beach in Santa Barbara. We were way overdue for a dose of gusting sea air. The light! Spring herald. I’ll be quiet, now. Unless, of course, you pass your cursor over the pictures.