Stream-of-consciousness and pink and legacy

I am sitting in my pale gray womb chair, feet propped on its matching ottoman, everything from the waist down blanketed by a corally-pink and white throw. It's a muted pink, not saccharine or sickly, but rather a nod to my love of the color, to the need I feel to sometimes throw a bit of not blue-gray-brown into my masculine'ish love child of a modern + mid-century home.

I've had a love affair with pink for as long as I can remember, and I am A-OK with that. There is really quite a diverse spectrum housed under the umbrella term "pink." Really, it runs the gamut from the blindingly neon to the loud but infused-with-purple magenta to the horrid, too flatly opaque Pepto shade through the perfect English roses and ethereal peonies to the pale-but-not-anemic lighter shades.

Hot pink, piglet pink, baby girl pink, Carnation pink (that disappointing Crayola hue that never seems to assert itself)...The list goes on, but suffice it to say that I am, mostly, a fan. 

Which is why I bought this throw that, in all honesty, matches almost nothing in my home but goes well enough with this chair (which is mine; I got it for my 40th birthday) and makes me happy.

The point of this early-onset tangent is a slight one. It's simply to place you just a touch, because tonight I am pooped and have retired to my chair and the quietude of my room early tonight.

Tom has been home since March 1 (he is enjoying a much-deserved vacation between jobs before starting his new role as CFO at a company here in DC on March 20) which has been both rare treat and alone-time zapper, the kids have had irregular school schedules due to various holidays, conferences, and the pending snowstorm which two hours ago meant a preemptive canceling of school tomorrow, and that behemoth mulch pile that both took many more days than expected to deal with AND is still not fully dealt with. Tonight found me mulching neighbor's yards, random neighborhood trees, and offering with exceedingly enthused madness "all the mulch you want" to anyone who passed by.

Life is so much about finding our rhythms, isn't it? For those of us who thrive on routinized days, from the highly structured to the more relaxed here's-what-I-might-do-around-mealtimes approach, for those who find structure imposed on them via children or career or other duties, the removal of that overlay can be both exciting and stressful.

What I have noticed is that in times of flux, the non-necessities and "luxuries" easily, too easily, fall by the wayside. Sure, the mulch juggernaut loomed, but what really beckoned was an empty page, empty pages ignored for weeks now. 

This evening, a friend mused about thinking now about the answer to 'what do I want the story of my life to be later, when I'm reaching the end and looking back?' And really, that's a great North Star to keep in mind. 

To another friend struggling with a shitty week I wrote, "Literally right now writing about the times in which 'normal' routine falls by the wayside and what gets left in its wake. I am seeing, literally now b/c I'm hellbent on writing even if its crap, that what is flotsam and jetsam in the wake are the things, like writing, that keep me sane. So clearly those things are wrongly labeled f & j and I need to more unapologetically value them."

Funny how sometimes all the roads lead you to a pale gray chair and a corally-pink throw and a glass of wine and the loving response to your kids and husband that "No, I'm off duty now. I'm on my own clock now. I'll see you tomorrow."


Hysterical piece, all the mulch

You must stop whatever you are doing right now and read this article by Caitlin Moran. Do you know her? She is funny and clever as get out, a fabulous British woman whose book, How To Be a Woman, is tremendous. I've been a fan of Caitlin's for years. Then yesterday I read this article, the most popular story of all time, and nearly died laughing. 

The kids were concerned. "Are you OK, Mom? Why are you laughing like that?" 

Because. This piece.

Today I had jury duty and then came home to return to the ten cubic yards or feet or whatever is an entire driveway of mulch that Tom zealously ordered on Monday and got back to it. I LOVE me some yard work, and y'all know how I feel about mulch: the lipstick, the cherry, the pièce de résistance for a garden.

That happened even though I wore long pants, shoes, and socks the whole time. And tonight when I blew my nose, well, let's just say it was tinted gray. Now that, my friends, is the mark of a hardcore and excellent gardening session. I would be so screwed if I didn't have my yard in which to toil. 

And now I bid you a tuckered out good night!

On vulnerability and gray space and wisdom

I'd be hard-pressed to remember a time in which this blank screen felt so intimidatingly empty. Usually this white expanse is an immediate thrill, an opportunity, a sure change of committing to memory something funny or meaningful, of processing and coming to better understand something, of making you laugh, of inspiring you to cook.

But since January 20, the ease of writing has felt more elusive, this space more challenging, our easy friendship not as effortless. Oh yes, there have been moments, stretches in which the cursor can hardly keep up with the letters as I lay them down. But in some ways, writing has felt like a sort of work it hasn't before.

Because writing is so often a great source of peace for me, and frankly a peace I have desperately needed since the election and especially since the inauguration, my lack of facility with it as of late has sewn me up and through with a sad sort of tension. It is as if I am without my trusty outlet and so the ugliness of the bigotry and lying and hate and ineptitude spewing from the White House like the most toxic slime settles in but then struggles to escape. 

I am not remotely alone in feeling awash in this stress. DC is like an underdressed person on a frigid day, hunched over, eyes down, shoulders pressed towards each other and forward against a biting wind. My city is agitated, strung out, and pissed off. Even our winter hasn't been normal. We've had only a dusting of snow, and none of it stuck. The cherry blossoms are blooming, weeks ahead of schedule, the tulips are halfway up, the ants have returned to our door jambs. Last week, the kids wore shorts to school one day.

Although February is never my favorite month, it's hardly been much of a February, and I can't attribute much malaise to wearing shorts a few times weeks ahead of schedule. So what gives? And what can I do?

Wise friends in my writing group beseeched me to sit with it all. The grayness and the attendant frustration when I can't understand, in that moment, when I am unable to paint the gray a brighter hue.

"Just keep going. No feeling is final." said J via Rilke.

"...why or what is it that causes you to 'dislike, immensely, this utter discomfort and threading sadness'.......looking for an answer to that, maybe writing about that, could help break up this 'flummoxed all around'" sensation, wrote D.

J offered this poem from Rumi but noted that he sometimes "find[s] it helpful to pause before answering the door."

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

And so I have tried to stew acceptingly, to laugh at unexpected visitors, to sometimes pretend not to be home when they knock. I have tried to limit my stays in the house of horrors downtown, to ignore what might be appalling but not consequential but continue to push back on what is dangerous and offensive and unjust. And I have tried to treat myself with the kindness I would bestow on others, a task that is always more difficult for me than I feel it should be. 

This afternoon, the massage I hoped would help relieve my unyieldingly taut piriformis disappointed in almost every way. And the documentary I'd hoped to see afterwards was foiled by rain and a temperature drop and assorted nonsense. But I took a hot bath, and asked Tom to go to the market, and went to a book club at school where we discussed privilege and justice and race and the sorts of kids we want to raise and how best to be models for them (I do recommend the book we read: We Gon' Be Alright by Jeff Chang). 

Though the rain kept coming, the skies parted, and the gray slunk away, and I thought about how Rilke is right, that no feeling is final.

I thought about the risk but immense reward in being vulnerable, with self and others. That there is great connectivity and healing in exposing myself, yourself, ourselves, even when at first it might seem there's anything but.