Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Two Days Late and a Holler Short

A virtual baby shower was held this weekend for GGC and Kristen as each awaits the birth of her second and third child, respectively.

Is that sentence even grammatically correct? Oh my God, I have no idea. That's where I am right now.

Anyway, I missed the shower. The brain of mine that is currently in hiding from the Strunk and White grammar police also balked at the price of admission to the virtual shower: one blog-ode extolling the virtues of newborn babes. Sometimes I get into this mood where I am unable to write about weighty subjects because I feel I can't do them justice. I am in such a mood now, as I have been for the past weekend. And certainly there are few things weightier than bringing a new life into the world--even if it only comes in at 7 lbs 1 oz, like the baby Boss, or 6 lbs 15 ozs, like my recently-born little boy.

So as I sit here typing with the latter in my lap--he's simultaneously eating, sleeping and pooping--I will let these words suffice:

Best wishes, Kristen. By now you're such a professional at this mothering thing--not to mention this blogging thing--that any wishes I can give are a meager offering compared to what you've already accrued. That won't stop me, of course. Here's to continued success in all your endeavors.

And I am so happy to be able to send much love to you, Rebecca, as you put the finishing touches on your next great work. Tell the story until it comes true, right? You've already started to weave the words behind this new life. I can't wait till she comes true through you.

Better late than never.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Today in Connecticut, a Plague of Frogs

I am plagued by frogs. There's a croak beneath each footfall once I step outside the house. As The Partner mows the lawn, I can picture the wet, green whir under the deck of his antique Gravely.

I'm disgusted. I just want to sit outside and read. I don't want to scratch my scalp repeatedly in fear of the frog-itch as I hug my knees to my chest on a chair. I'd like to recline beneath the mild sun that still, even after noon, feels damp from the previous night's dew.

I can't relax. I start to wonder about other plagues. Layoffs. Chemicals in plastic baby bottles. Foreclosures. Pesticides in my leafy greens. This is why I don't watch current events on TV anymore. It's irrational and alarmist, but that's me. I'm too affected by BREAKING NEWS. And it's all BREAKING NEWS these days.

If I see death and devastation in backyard frogs, I see the apocalypse on CNN.

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Being My Own Boss

I am incapacitated by a preponderance of time. With The Boss off at school for six and a half hours each day and with Number Two still in a two-nap-a-day phase, I have moments where I could never collect them before. I have quiet spaces. I have broken chunks of blank slate.

It's not that I lack things to do; in fact, I have so much to do that I don't know where to start. There are books to read so that I have novels to write. There are freelance writing jobs for a little cash and some immediate gratification. There are volunteer roles I sometimes wonder why I took on. There's a blog I can't bring myself to update more than once a week. There's a house I haven't cleaned in four months. There are leaves starting to fall.

I could be doing something big right now, like starting that novel or increasing my freelancing load so that writing becomes more of a career than a side-job. But I don't know how to structure myself. I see the open expanse of possibilities and I just sit here as if I have no options at all.

When I worked in an office, my day was structured for me. When The Boss was born, the newness of her demands shaped my days. As she grew, she held onto most of my attention. Then her brother arrived and every moment I had was a single bubble bursting into two. I didn't need to schedule my own small projects because it was easier to get to them in fits and starts whenever I had the chance. The amount of effort it would've taken to organize my life was beyond my time and energy level. So my projects remained insignificant and largely undone.

Now I want to do more. But I don't know where or how to start. Instead of sitting here staring at my navel, marveling at the way it keeps my insides from spilling out, I want to try to turn this post into something productive. So I will ask you--all four of you dear, dear readers--how you manage to get anything done. How do you make time for personal and professional fulfillment while continuing to cater to your kids? How do you prioritize all the different things you need to do as a mother, wife, and all-around human being?

This is what happens when The Boss is out. I surf the Internet all day and get nothing done.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Three Hours

It was the same damn sky. I left the driveway in my car as a fusion of Over the Rainbow and What a Wonderful World came on the satellite radio. The overall effect of high blue and a gentle warble atop the ukulele should've inspired something like contentment, but instead I listened closely to the lyrics for a meaning I could relate to. It was right there. I didn't have to wait long. The wonderful world over the rainbow is a dream.

Before I got into the car I watched a ceremony and fed the baby. Then I drove to book club, where a group of us sat for two hours discussing things like organic food, the ubiquitousness of corn, and too many roosters in my friend's coop. Afterward I tooled over to the gas station to put $55 onto my credit card for transmittal to the Gulf.

Soon after my day began--at home, while the baby ate, at ten till nine--a young woman was reading the As on the alphabetical list of victims from the Twin Towers. Z did not come till I returned home, ten minutes shy of noon. In the car and at book club and next to the pump, there was a soundtrack of names I couldn't hear being mic'd over a chasm.

Three hours. With all the motions, emotions, and thoughts (about the day-to-day, but also about things less grounded) inherent in that span, I was able to contextualize in time the meaning of 2,751.

It was 180 minutes of living in the time it took to read the names of the dead.

That was the Twin Towers alone. Add Shanksville. Add the Pentagon. Then Afghanistan and Iraq. Each name buys me time that--at any given moment--I don't even realize is being paid for. But then I stop to think. And when the world doesn't stop with me, I start to understand.

There are not enough hours in the day. There are never enough hours in the day.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Her First Day of School

The September sun falls through trees onto old red farmhouses rendered dazzling by the light. I drive through glare that is no longer a summer shock, but a gold as intoxicating as currency. The first month of fall in New England is paler than both the preceding season and the autumn depths to come; it has less of an edge. I open my driver's seat window for a smudge-free view that allows the air to rush in as I am engulfed in senses that assure me I am sitting on the better side of just-right.

The Boss goes to pre-school every day now. She was eased into it by mild rays of sun warming her back as she prepared to step through the door for the first time. Her teacher was inside, The Boss was on the verge, and I was behind it all. I expected the teacher to use welcoming words or, at the very least, some hand gestures to indicate the way, but the blond-grey stranger just stood there with a smile that told me nothing. I looked at The Boss, whose lock on me was a blue mirror. I raised my shoulders and we both turned again to the teacher. I don't remember what method--a sweep of the arm, a nod, or a complete lack of direction--that Miss Kathy used to force my hand, but I finally realized what I had to do. My shrug became a gentle nudge against The Boss's kangaroo backpack and I'm sure that I held my breath as she lurched into Room 1. I backed into the September shine.

In the car now it is just me and Number Two, like it used to be me and The Boss. The roll of the tires over farm-hugging curves and marshy side roads comforts me; it lulls my son. The Boss's constant hum of energy is criss-cross-applesauced into morning circle back at school. In her absence is calm lethargy. Number Two looks out the back of the car from his infant carseat. My front facing vantage point is different. Still, we can both see early leaves detach from their support systems and float to the ground all around us.

We will start to get to know each other like this--as scenes of what will become his childhood speed by. It is September, and the greens and golds are faded to start with.