Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14, 2012 Anna wants her brother's attention. Says, "James-James" two times in a row with urgency. I love to hear this. The other day, James took a toy and hit Anna's head. He was seated on the couch and her head was laid against the end of the sofa. Upon his hitting her, I took his hand in mind, laid a finger on it, and gave a firm, "No-No. No hit." He then looked at me, scooted himself off of the couch, then gave his sister a hug. I was so touched to see that at only 20 months, his young mind already was able to register that when we hurt someone, we say that we're sorry. And the beauty of seeing him communicate this without words. Only with a hug. The days of recovering from hernia repair surgery are dragging, dragging. By the time I can finally pick up James again, I wonder if he'll still even be interested in being picked up. I pray that he will. I miss the feel of him, of his weight against my hip as I stand with him in my arms.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

May 13, 2012 Mother's Day On this day I woke to the sounds of my children bouncing and giggling on my bed where I slept in. Anna who is five, and James who is inching up on 20 months, shrieked with excitement at getting the chance to get in bed with Mommy and build forts under the covers and toss pillows around. I can't think of a much sweeter wake-up call. The day was beautiful. We all slept in, unfortunately causing us to miss Sunday school, and then we talked ourselves into missing church, too, so that we could make a drive to the nearby state park, Little Olcmulgee. They have a really amazing restaurant that serves a tasty buffet filled with seasoned meats and vegetable casseroles, and a sea of desserts that makes it almost mandatory that a hike on the trails must follow the meal so that the sugar can be burned off. Down came the rain, so we didn't stay for the usual hike, but instead took a pair of full, tired kids home who were "played out" after their visit with the park's kids' area gift shop where they hugged every stuffed animal imaginable and fingered nature-themed toys in their busy, little hands. Coming home was a magical gift for me, too - I had two and a half hours of uninterrupted painting time. I worked on painting over an acrylic class assignment with oil paint and made dramatic improvements to the piece. It's hanging in what is now our artist's studio, as of today (setting it all up for me was another mother's day gift: my request), and I'm so pleased with the transformation that it made from class-project-boring acrylic, to the now more sophisticated purple-fusia, oil based finished piece. A flower pot and some roses peeping out. A simple piece, but the colors came out well. And after painting - we all went to the nearby softball field and enjoyed the fenced-in convenience. Even the dogs came and dribbled a ball across the vast, open space. I walked for exercise and had the chance to watch my angels at play. James, toddling across the red mud where the plates were left behind, stomping his small feet in the mud puddles left over from the earlier-rain. His fists raised and full , clasping the dense, red mud in his tight little hands. And Anna, like a painting herself, scurrying to and fro with her brother in tow, dancing barefoot in the mud puddles, whispering to herself a story that only she could understand. And my husband: tall, broad-shouldered, focusing on the ladybug kite he had brought out for the kids to fly, finding that he enjoyed watching it snake in and out of the breeze even more than the kids did. This was heaven under a dark-clouded sky on mother's day. I go to bed tonight feeling incredibly blessed, much more so than I deserve to be. Thank you, Lord, for my family, and for the blessing of motherhood.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Good Mommy-Day

May 18, 2011

I want to write about today because it was a really good day. Tonight I go to bed feeling like I was a good mother. I cooked with Anna - we made egg salad and tomato soup. Simple, but she enjoyed peeling the shell off the eggs and stirring the soup. There was no arguing or demanding, and Baby James played on his own, wheeling around in his walker, babbling and grabbing Anna's art off the walls while we cooked. I felt peaceful, and capable. Even a little domestic. I introduced Anna to an internet site for kids called Starfall ( and she was entranced by it, taken away to new worlds of learning letters and making stories, clicking on funny icons and singing animals. I cleaned the kitchen while she played her new games. I felt successful and loving.

I put happy kids down to bed tonight, nursing a tired baby and hugging an excited little girl who got to play like she wanted on the computer.

I want to remember today. Today I felt good at being a mommy - something that doesn't happen often. I thank God for this unexpected gift. The gift of today.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tea at the Museum

May 14, 2011
Took Anna to a museum for her first time today at the Altmaha (sp) art museum in Vidalia, GA. It was a tea for mothers and daughters. She liked the experience. I loved it. I dressed her up in periwinkle dress and white jacket and wore my plain old clothes, sad that I didnt have enough time to dress myself up a little, too. It was fun being around art and culture today; it's been a good while since I've been to a museum. Anna played musical chairs and didn't like losing. She almost won. That last chair did her in. She got to pick out a free piece of art for coming to the event and came home with a print of a yellow monarch butterfly.

Baby James turns 8 months tomorrow. Not crawling yet, but loves to jet around in his walker, chasing after Anna. He got his first tooth in - a bottom right - at 7 months. He's sitting up but frequently falls backwards. He is a joy, and he and Anna worship each other.

I haven't blogged in a while. My writing and thought processes are very rusty. I'm exhausted most days. Hopefully I can do some writing every day, even if just a little. I don't want to forget these days, these moments, with my children.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Pet Shop" Chapter x

I waited up by my window most of the night. He never came.

I kept vigil long after my eyes were weary and the school day lay only hours away before me, still thinking, hoping he might show. So many times I saw the phantom, bleary headlights outside of my peripheral vision from the position I held against my bedroom window: chin resting on knuckles, back of head leaning against the cold weather-proofed window, trying to prop inside a pose that wouldn’t pull my hair by the pressure of the weight of my head. The inevitable hair pulling saved me from a crooked, feverish fragment of sleep which would have awakened me in a state of discomfort that I would carry the next day to school. Trying to concentrate on algebra with a crick in my neck on a Wednesday morning: trying harder to figure out why he didn’t think it worthwhile to come to my house, as he had said he would, than the effort I would give to trying to figure out the quadratic equation which meant nothing when compared to him, meaningless and flat on the white page. Algebra meant nothing when compared to the way he looked at me.

“You gonna be at home tonight?” he had asked in the midst of my scrubbing down of the feeder mices’ overcrowded aquarium home.

“Should be,” I answered, trying to sound casual, as if I was not shaken by his unexpected overture.

“Billy and I might come by”…he paused…”tonight.”

“Sure. Ok.” I took one of my yellow bleach-scented rubber gloved hands and wiped away the dangling stray bang that threatened to block my view of him as carefully as I could without making contact with the parts of my fingers which had touched the rodents’ urine-saturated home. It was a funny thing. I was cleaning up after mice, mice who would be eaten by unforgiving reptiles, and in the midst putrid odors and small-animal squeals that would make most people cringe, I felt pretty. Maybe even a little desirable. The feeling was not an intentional one – perhaps more accidental, like any other moment in which one is not prepared for something nice to sneak up and find us in the middle of an unflattering daily task.

“Ok, so maybe we’ll see you.” He looked down, my view of him now of only his white cap, like there was more he wanted to say, and as if he wanted to explain to me exactly why he had decided to invite himself over to my house on a school night and out of the clear blue sky almost as much as I wanted him to explain it to me.

A pause.

“Hello,” someone called from the front of the store. “Is anyone able to answer a question? I’ve got a sick fan-tail goldfish who needs some help.”

His eyes met mine again, and we half-smiled at the interruption, like some sort of pseudo-defining moment had been interrupted. I held up my gloved hands like a doctor does after surgery. “Guess this one is yours,” I shrugged with a smile.

“Yeah.” A tipping of the white Pet Pros cap and one last short gaze of intensity into my eyes, and then he was gone.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

After the Visitors

Watching my father drive away, crouching in the right direction to see through the window of the front door; seeing the slow, deliberate movement of his small, white truck roll over the gravel; feeling the tears burn against the pink of my eyes, and then turning around and deciding now what do I do. I cry because I can hear the phantom laughter of my sisters’ children who no longer roam these halls, scouting out toys with funny sounds and which are easy to tip over. The depression is instantaneous and engulfing. I am surprised by its swiftness.

I run a slight fever – left behind by family with a head cold and a lingering fuzziness behind my eyes. So I lie down. Seems like the logical thing to do. Daughter is in day care. Husband at work. I pine away for days like these to be alone, and yet today, I grieve the absence of others.

Lying in bed, looking up at a towering, white ceiling which has loomed down and looked out over other people’s history, other people’s families’ flaws and secrets, I trade my relief at renting the house – no ownership responsibilities – for apprehension of its void. For me, it is a black hole, a nothingness of history. For it holds the history of several generations, but it does not hold mine…

The tears fall, each one a lost memory of a house sold off to another family, who treat it better than we did. My memories are locked inside there, nonrefundable, nontransferable to this older, whiter, quieter rented house…

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Surprise

young adult novel excerpt, rough draft

I sat and watched the other merchants setting up. My work was done and I stood back to admire the perfect display of business cards, t-shirts, and dog bandannas all announcing “YOUR PET’S BEST FRIEND” to the people who would walk by once the doors were opened and the merchants’ gathering had begun.

“You can take it easy for a few,” Mike, my boss said. “It’ll be a while until everyone gets here.”

“Ok,” I lowered my head, hoping he wouldn’t ask me why my eyes looked funny. Dammit if I hadn’t decided to wear make up that day. I had spent most of the night trying to figure out how to make my eye lids and mascara look like the girls in the movie stars magazine. No matter how much I worked at it, I couldn’t get the effect to look like anything other than grey splotches around my eyes.

I leaned against the aquarium behind me, feeling its vibrations as it gurgled. I couldn’t understand why management had wanted to set up an aquarium for the occasion. It was a lot of cleaning up to do for an event set to last only a few hours.

“I want to work this area,” a lady called out at a volume that embarrassed me. She reached out with ridiculously long finger nails and picked up a business card. “Hmmm…” she said, unaware of how potent her perfume was as she spilled her curls upon my table where she leaned down to examine a business card. She could hardly balance it between her fingers for the intrusion of her scary looking finger nails, and as a result, it slipped out of her grasp.

Sarge, the store bird who also came along to help advertise our business, evidently didn’t like the sudden move of the eccentric looking lady. “SQUAWK!” he screamed out at her, warning her to keep away.

“You got a live bird here! Hey, Jamie, they’ve got a live bird over here at this table!” She sang out, disappearing with the business card she finally managed to stick between her fingers.

“I know, Sarge.” I said, lifting him onto my arm. “WANNNNNK!” he hesitated. “Step up, come on,” I urged. For a moment he looked docile, as if my inclination to cuddle him was a warranted one, but before I could recognize otherwise, he took his beak and tore into my arm. I looked down to see two bite marks which were turning from lavender into rosy-pink.

“Ouchh!” I quelled my yelp of pain into a whisper. Better not to call negative attention to our business. I had been warned repeatedly before coming not to do anything to make the store look bad. “Fine, get on back up there!” I scolded the unpredictable bird, and when I saw the blood forming a pool inside the nook of my elbow, the tears I had been fighting all day long finally gave themselves permission to emerge.

My heart felt as if it was forcing its way through my neck and throat. I turned my back to the merchants who worked with busy hands and deliberate expressions to set up their stations. God, please let me get a handle on this…Please don’t let me have swollen eyes in front of these important business owners, in front of the people who will be in here in a little while. “AAAAACKK!” Sarge scourged, unaffected by my need to pray. Please…I pleaded to the gurgling aquarium and the fish who paused from their swimming to study me through the glass.

How come they don’t have to know…what it’s like to be embarrassed in front people. How come they get to live free of such humiliation?

Finally feeling that I had taken all the time I could afford to collect myself, I turned around. And just at the right time. I felt the mood change within me in such a palatable way that it was overwhelming. In an instant, my flush from fighting tears transformed into a rapid heart rate, and all was forgotten.

“Well, well…” he said, approaching my table in a slow, cool saunter, carrying a large aquarium gadget over his right shoulder. “They must have needed pretty faces to help advertise.”

Oh, God Oh God, Oh God. I think the boy that I am in love with, the one who is too old and experienced, and who I dream about almost every night, just called me pretty.