Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Thousand Hummingbirds

His hand clasped in mine, we walked up the sidewalk towards the industrial doors. "Are you ready, Buddy?" I asked.

"Affirmative!" he replied, his newest verbal tick. I smiled, and ran my fingers through his coarse hair, fighting the urge to pick him up, and inhale him like a flower.

Not here. Such displays would embarrass him here.

As we walked towards our destination, a thousand hummingbirds traveled through my body. Fluttering through my stomach, flapping up and down my arms. I felt them struggle---trapped. Desperate to fly away.

He was whisked away from me with the promise of books and Goldfish crackers, and I stood in line. I held my essential documents. His birth certificate. His social security card. Immunization records. A copy of my mortgage. As if  pieces of paper could capture a life.

"You can't have him!" the hummingbirds screamed. "It's too fast!"

My left brain replied, "Let's not be hysterical. Haven't you been praying for this? Begging for it?"

"I didn't mean it!" My fingers hummed, then my heart pounded in response. "We didn't go the beach enough. Or the park. I could have read him more books. I miss him...already."

"Really? It's just kindergarten. It's not like he's going away forever."

"I know." I breathed deeply, and willed back the tears.

My left brain spoke, a fresh, cleansing breeze. "You're still his first teacher."

"I know." A flutter.

"You have the power to take him out if it doesn't work. You have your voice."

"I know." A release.

With each word, more hummingbirds poured out of me, and colored the sky. A kaleidoscope of movement.

I inched up the line, and then tenderly offered up my first son. "Please, world." I whispered,  "Let him fly here too."

After a brief hiatus, I return to The Red Dress Club. This week, we are to write a fiction or nonfiction accounting of a fight. I think I did that, maybe. Kinda. Concrit is welcome.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Entitled: A Book Nerd Takes it Up a Notch

I've always enjoyed a good title. The perfect, succinct blending of words, sending an invitation, a hope, and a prayer. 

My favorites titles include: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and The Confederacy of Dunces.

Not surprisingly, these are all amazing books.

I just spent the last week with my extended family. Lovely people. I adore them. Many of them hold strong political views. Scattered around the house are books with incendiary titles, such as The Obama-Nation (groan), and Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild.

This is not a political blog. I will simply say that I do not own my own copies.

Yet, I find the titles, with their overwrought  descriptors and colons...amusing. And in interest of mocking all walks of life, my boyfriend, Malcolm Gladwell, also loves the ridiculous title. Have you seen his book generator yet?

This led me to wonder about my own life. In title form.

Waiting for Waxing: A Hirsute Horror Story. 
I Left them in Greensboro: A Subaru, A Storm, and Six Hours 
Stop Doing That to Your Penis!: Life Lessons for My Sons
I Lost my Husband to Angry Birds: Mobile Devices and the Spouses Left Behind

On this fine Monday morning, I invite some discussion. What are the titles of your life? What book titles linger for you?

Monday, April 18, 2011

My response to Tina Fey: "Prayer for A Son"

If you haven't read Tiny Fey's "Prayer for a Daughter" is it imperative that you click over and read it now. In fact, I give you full permission to not come back.

You still here?

I was serious. You really need to read it. 

(Okay. I guess you're back. Thanks, Mom.) 

This was a brilliant piece, and I could totally relate to it, except for the whole having-a-daughter-thing. So, while I would never dream of wearing Tina Fey's Bossypants, I will provide this homage, for all those mothers of sons.

Prayer for a Son

Oh, Lord, please nerd this kid up. Not so much that he is writing manifestos (leave that to his mother), but enough that he knows the middle names of Star Wars characters.

Lead him, dear Lord, to band camp, chess club, scouts, and cross country.

Give him friends who are socially inept, so they may form a dorky tribe. Preferably in my house, away from the drugs and hot-rodders.

May he have friends that are girls, so that when he has a girlfriend, he remembers, and pauses.

And, oh Sweet Jesus, keep him away from Ed Hardy, gold chains, dirt bikes, mesh t-shirts, and styling gel.

Teach him to like math. Life is so much easier when you can count and stuff.

Please, Lord. If you insist that he thinks of sex every moment of the day, help him to fake it. My nerves cannot take it.

Help him to understand the intricate design of the washing machine, dishwasher, and toilet seat, so that his future wife will hate me a little bit less.

Give me strength, for there will be days that his heart will be broken, and he will not talk to me about it. He will wait for his father, and this will tear me in half.

Dear Lord, I know my sons will tower over me. At some point, they will use the top of my head as a table. Give me a sense of humor about this.

And in all seriousness, Lord: Help me always to see their father's kindness in their eyes.

Give them gentle strength, so that when it's finally okay to hug me again, they will.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Selfish Blogging

On Monday night, I wrote on Twitter: "That's it. I'm officially quitting blogging."

In my mind, this was a big deal. I've had this little site since October 2008, and I've crafted a large part of my identity out of being a "writer." I like it when friends mention things I write, or when they share thoughtful comments. These words of support are like little Christmas presents under my virtual tree.

And yet, the main response to my announcement was, "Do whatever makes you happy."

So what makes me happy? It makes me happy to come to this space and write about my life. To record the things that matter to me. To make my words dance like a stone skipping the surface of a lake.

What doesn't make me happy? The hustle. Returning comments. The I'll-read-you-if-you-read-me game.

I don't like the games I play with myself, either. Why doesn't [insert blogger I admire] like me? How come more people don't read me? 

I have my father's engineering mind, so I applied some logic and determined that people are busy and when they don't read what I write, it's nothing personal. And yes, there's a chance--a very real chance---that when I write about things that matter to me, it may not matter to anybody else.

I might be okay with that..

I'm not quite going to quit blogging. I'm just going to be selfish about it. Meaning, I will write about what I want to write about. My kids. My life.

I'll probably stop writing fiction unless I feel like it.

I will read other blogs when I am inspired and fully attentive. And I will probably do it in a very haphazard fashion. But I am not going to spend one minute worrying about the status of my reader.

I started writing because I wanted a creative outlet. So that's what I'm doing. Writing for the pure joy of it. Writing because it's what makes me happy.

And if that's being selfish, I am okay with it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Two Bulbs

He sat next to her, and they nestled together like two bulbs planted in the same hole.

Owen and Grandma. She read him a book, and before turning the page, she lingered. Asking questions. Nodding her head as he replied. She studied his face and ran her fingers through his course hair.

Her cancer is not a secret. On the way over he asked,  "Is she better yet?"

"She's getting there," we said. "She's getting stronger every day."

He had an entire Sponge Bob gift bag of homemade cards for her---probably fifteen.  Many of them were his patented big ears, big body:
 "Grandma, those Gs are tricky," he said, pointing to her name. He had sat at our kitchen table, his tongue wedged to the roof of his mouth, concentrating. Perfecting the arch and crossing the line.

"I'll bet," she said. "Can you put this on my pile of special things?" Owen nodded, and placed his bounty on her pile, which included his drawings, letters, and get-well cards. On the very bottom, there was a poster, on which he wrote, "Grandma, thank you for being kind to me."

He didn't stay by her forever. Grandpa was there too, so there were pellets to put in the stove, cats to feed, and rivers to forge.

But when it was time to leave, he returned. He rested his head on her pillow, soaking her up. When he hugged her goodbye and whispered, "Love you, Grandma," her eyes grew softer and her voice cracked.

Two bulbs, forever intertwined. Two lives, pushing through the dirt. Escaping darkness. Blooming.

My mother-in-law is awaiting next steps, but the prognosis, today, at this moment, is good. Thank you for your support and prayers.