Wednesday, March 31, 2004

In the quickly passing minutes as the wind suddenly picks up, swells build and kayak turns toward the rocks, I am concentrating too hard on paddling, keeping my daughter paddling, reassuring my son, and scoping out our quickly changing options as each wave carries us farther in, to think about what to do should we hit the rocks, flip the boat and land in the now churning surf.
He is yelling "Look out Mom, we are heading right for that rock" but at the last second, I dig hard backpaddling on the right yelling for her to paddle hard on the left, and we are sliding between two large boulders and into a small bowl of more sheltered water between the wave line and the rocky shore. The guide reaches us a minute or two later, his words light as he hooks on the tow line, but his eyes give away the risk he felt having watched our last few moments battling the surf. We are very lucky, life jackets notwithstanding.
For a minute I am angry they let us go out at all, but there is no heading back into the roiling bay we have launched from, and we are committed to the next 5 miles to the put-in point. Anger will not help us get through, so I will the anger, and the panic, and all the possible worst cases, off into the white caps as we aim our boats back out into the sea. I think I am merely putting off the reaction, but the presumed melt-down never comes.
Faith? Denial? Protective instinct? I'm not sure, but I'm hoping it might be the good sense to know there is nothing gained by playing out the worst when the worst didn't come to pass.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Have a good week! Will be offline while on vacation (most likely) and will miss stopping by your blogs.

Thursday, March 18, 2004


Mother, mother
There's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There's far too many of you dying
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today

Father, father
We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what's going on
What's going on
Yeah, what's going on
Ah, what's going on

Marvin was so right.

Next week the kids and I head off on vacation for Spring Break.
I bought a wood carving knife (no worries, I'm not going to put it in carry-on), two novels, and a book of poetry to bring along. Do you find that you are more, or less picky about your reading materials on vacation? It took me forever at Borders to find something that seemed the right level of gravity and levity. No murders please. Sci Fi can be ok, but nothing too scientific which requires me to concentrate on quantum physics while my kids are playing in the pool requiring half my attention. No tragedy. Something lively is good, something witty but not superficial. No love stories, nothing worse than being in a romantic vacation destination with a book taunting you with the exact thing you most miss while on a vacation. Seems I've whittled down the choices in the fiction dept to about 10 books.

From the Winter Park Public Library Archives: "The Vacation Reading Club was under the personal supervision of the Children's Librarian, Helen Foley Fuller. Each year she came up with a different theme. In 1950 the theme was Treasure Island, 1951 was a Circus Club and in 1952 it was a Rodeo. In the picture on the right, you can see a mannequin supplied by the Toggery clothing store, dressed as a cowboy and pictures of horses and other rodeo themes decorating the the Children's Room."

I ended up with two very typical Susan choices: The Dim Sum of All Things (Kim Wong Keltner) "You'll read scenes that include dating disasters with grandsons of Grandma's mahjong partners..." (my read: Amy Tan meets Bridget Jones' Diary)
and Sister of My Heart (Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni) "A tale as rich and bountiful as the scents and sounds of Calcutta..." (my read: the reviewer at the SF Chronicle who wrote that hasn't been anywhere close to the scents and sounds of Calcutta, it isn't anything like Savannah)

I admit a great weakness for cultural novels in general. Several bookshelves worth of weakness. Not including the travel writing. My favorites are Mistress of Spices (Divakaruni again), A Suitable Boy (V. Seth), Bless Me Ultima (Rudolpho Anaya), The Samurai's Garden (Gail Tsukiyama) and anything by Sandra Cisneros.

What do you read on vacations?

Saturday, March 13, 2004


Mountain Goddess yearned to touch
The churning Ocean God afar
Eons passed and deep inside
Unmet desire melted that granite heart into magma
A swirling current of fire.

One day Pele came to Mountain Goddess
"Give me a place to sleep, and some food,
For I am lost on your slopes, tired and hungry."
Mountain Goddess offered 'ohelo berries
Then hollowed a caldera where Pele could rest.

Moon rose and Pele awoke to sounds of wailing.
"Mountain Goddess, tell me what you mourn"
"I long to be free to leap and roll
Like the waves of shining water there."
Ulu branches stretched taut from reaching towards the sea.

When Ku arrived in the East, Pele cried
"Your Ocean god awaits"
Ground rumbled cracked and heaved.
As Pele granted the wish.

That molten center at last erupted in a torrential river of heat
Pouring out the rift between them torn
Lava like blood flowed toward cliff edge,
Plunging into waves of rapture
Where clouds of steam hid their explosive melding
Ocean God immersed her fire in his watery arms
Finally settling together
In banks of shimmering obsidian.

Friday, March 12, 2004

I watched the 2 part NBC show on Princess Diana and the tapes she made in secret. In fact I made a deliberate effort to watch the 2nd part last night, not just landing on it by channel surfing.

First off, I must share this embarresses me. I probably watch all of 6 hours of TV a month in total and little of it falls into the gratuitous, empty or sensational catagories. Actually over time, most of what I watch is music performances.
It occurred to me in a rational moment heading to bed last night that one could argue that the producers may have (probably) made a huge impact on the tone of the show just by selecting certain excerpts to air, sensationalizing the material through editing, despite the veracity of her words captured on tape.
I noted that I didn't much care though. I found myself oddly enjoying the story line of the privately tortured princess who eventually found a way to say "up yours" to the royals, forge her own way, find her own voice and purpose, and then die tragically just as life had turned around. Whatever the critics might find as evidence that she was not the innocent victim, I have no desire to hear it. I'd gladly buy into the conspiracy theories that she was assasinated rather than the victim of an accident. I have to admit, with further embarressment, that I cried at the replay of the funeral when I certainly didn't cry over her death when it happened. She became real to me, and I liked being on her side.

I'm sure this says something about what the public prefers their "history" to look like and how that remakes history into what we'd prefer to hear, or what is more exciting/sensational to believe. It might have been her story as she told it, but it was only part of her story, told in tidbits, told without the mundane trivia such as what color sheets she slept on, what books, or if she read books to her boys, what her favorite TV show was, but her voice, and the obvious vulnerability, made it true. I suppose that is what I like best about reading the sorts of blogs where people talk about their day, their argument with the landlord, their impression of a current event, their struggles with their faith, what they cooked for a dinner party. It's context that allows me to picture them, side with them, cry with them. I probably don't want to read the blog written by the ex-wife or angry child or boss who has a completely different view of that person. I like my one sided, simple impression of things to go unchallenged. So I have to admit, I didn't really want the show last night to be balanced.
And I still feel vaguely unclean for having watched it, like a voyeur. Did anyone else watch?

Thursday, March 11, 2004

It's mom's week off.
commonbeauty imagines his mother as someone before she was his mother in one of a series of letters on childhood today.
There are weeks when I think I wouldn't survive as a mother if I didn't know I was getting a break to be me in the next few days, while the kids spend time at their Dad's.
And there are days, weeks when I think there is no other part of my identity that really matters other than that part of me that is Mom. Those weeks and days, I am lonely or restless without my kids at the house.

It's a bit strange to turn the role on and off every Wednesday. One week I cook, help with homework, listen to endless discussion on the minutiae of Donkey Kong barrels, pick up sweatshirts, sign school papers, volunteer in the classroom, explain why middle school boys do not like girls to like them. At least in public. The next week cereal and cheese and crackers seems like fine dinner fare, I can watch CSI without worrying about the violence, go out to poetry readings or fancy schmancy restaurants, spend hours at the paint store staring at those little chips, read until 3AM, swear like a sailor.

It might seem a bit bipolar, but I actually think it's sort of sane. Maybe this is a justification in my subconscious, but when I'm mom, I'm ON as mom. Not negotiating with a partner over who's in charge, not wishing for a vacation without the kids. Well, I have to admit, I might lack patience with the game boy and middle school boy discussions, but someone needs to listen, and that's my job right? So I do it because it means someone listens. Then when I'm off duty, I am an adult with hobbies, interests, freedom to travel, the occasional center of attention long enough to finish my sentence without being interrupted. Sometimes sloppy, sometimes lazy, sometimes a role model for absolutely no one.

Today I'm not sure which I am. I guess the mom badge is a bit slow to come off. It will be quiet in the house until I readjust to it. I'm not always so sure I want to be alone with my thoughts.

(cartoon courtesy of Dr. Dudd)

Sunday, March 07, 2004

I have a huge full moon shining through the window and pouring light over my desk. Even though I noticed the moon when I took the garbage bins out to the curb an hour ago, I still found myself curious as to what the glare was from out the corner of my eye above the camellia. I wonder what animals think about the moon. What does a koi, swimming in circles under the water, attribute the bright orb of light to that moves and ripples on the surface? Is a fox grateful for the extra lumenescene as it moves across the fields? Is an owl irritated by the brightness which gives its approach away?

Thursday, March 04, 2004

At 10:45AM after my 11:00 meeting cancelled, I pretty much spontaneously walked out of the office, jumped in the car. At 11:15 I had picked up my daughter from school, at 11:30 my son from his school, and by 11:40 we were at Safeway buying 4 dozen pink and white roses. Parking downtown was a bit tricky, but sometime near 12:15 or so we were walking up to the group of people lined up outside the Multnomah County Building making history. My daughter was nervous about protesters, she's been the personal target of some pretty mean spirited and bigoted yelling at Pride parades in the past, but I explained that part of the reason we were going was to make sure that for every one person that was negative and hateful, there were at least 2 or 3 that were positive and loving. She was relieved to find that they had "fenced in" both sides of the demonstrators and there were lots of police visible. I was in tears by the time we were a block away, I could hear the whoops of joy, the cheers, and people were coming down the sidewalk with their manila envelopes in hand, smiles on their faces. I did a mental calculation and figured there were about fifty couples waiting outside the building, and probably there was another third again inside the building. We started handing out the roses to the people in line, because if you are going to get married, you should have flowers to go with your hard won marriage licence.

As we walked back to the car, the kids talked about each of the pairs of demonstrators having a dog with them. The border collie with the religious folks clearly wanted to go over and play with the golden retriever with the gay folks and neither dog cared much about who believed what. I couldn't help but think they were the smarter species.

The kids were back in class at 1:00. I guess my son missed a math test, but I don't much care.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Andrea led us on a journey Sunday night, to help us meet our shadow and light strengths. In the meditation, she led us through a door, down a path, and into our "sacred" room, from which we would exit another door and walk along a path to meet each of the elements and see what was uncovered. I had some touching revelations on my journey, I'll attempt to share more in a later post about those, but I was immediately struck by the symbolism of the type of room and place I entered when in this meditative state. In order to help remind myself visually where I had journeyed as a way to remember what I had learned, I went searching for a picture on the web to help me bring it back later. I figured a picture of the type of path I had walked on would be relatively easy to find, because I had journeyed through a Japanese garden, and the larger stepping stones set into a gravel walk are pretty typical. So late that night, I am doing a search on google, and I don't just find a nice picture of the path, but an exceedingly close replica of the room I had visioned. This struck me as amazing, the low square colored table was just as I pictured, as was the placement of the sliding doors and the view outside. But setting that aside, the thing I found telling was how simple, neat, organized everything in my context was. You should see my desk. A study in contrasts. I guess this is telling me a place of simplicity and silence is where I hear the deepening of my soul most clearly, and that sort of place is sorely lacking in my home. Nice to be able to "go there" in other ways.

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