Sunday, August 30, 2009

If Toddler's Could Write: Advice Column #1

If something doesn't go your way, roll your lower lip down as foreshadowing.

If possible, eek out a few crocodile tears to make your eyes look dewy.

Then, take a deep breath and give it your best howl.

Chances are, once you start howling, your tears will start flowing more naturally, which adds to the drama and can increase effectiveness.

Someone will come give you attention.

Success rate of getting your way with this technique: 37% (42% with extra tears)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Safety Joe

I am really into safety, especially since Ezra came into the world. I wouldn't drive over San Marcos pass the first 3 months of his life as it seemed so unsafe and he was such a fragile little thing. Now that he is approaching 3, I have lightened up considerably, but I can't help but hold his hand extra tight when we are walking along a busy street.

Last week, I saw a mom at a busy intersection holding a baby with a toddler boy about Ezra's age playing wildly. She didn't hold his hand and he ran in circles, flapping his hands wildly with glee. From inside my 2 ton metal box zipping by them, I was terrified that the little boy would chase the imaginary thoughts in his mind right into the street. I shared some version of my concern with my husband and he thought it was good that this little boy was wild and free. Obviously, he seemed to know the boundaries of where the sidewalk ended and live frogger began, but why on earth would you take such a chance?

At the same time, I see children in my neighborhood not older than 6 or 7 caring for their younger siblings while their parents walk ahead with a baby in the stroller, all attention focused on the new addition. And they get by. They know the rules and they have their wits about them because they have the space to learn on their own.

I can't help but think of the John Prine song Safety Joe. Joe doesn't have any fun as all he can think about is safety. You want to give Joe a shake and shout "live a little!"

I know there is some middle ground. I'm fairly certain Ezra wouldn't step off the curb into the street. But I won't be letting go of his hand with my fierce grip anytime soon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekly Post

It must be my personal nostalgia of back to school combined with Ezra starting pre-school tomorrow (sigh) that leads me to the decision to make a Fall Years resolution: I will blog weekly! There it is, in print. According to that Harvard study that everyone likes to quote at motivational seminars and business meetings, if you put it in writing, you have a much higher chance of achieving your goals.

Yeah, but how does that apply to a blog, which is all in writing? I mean, every time I write here I'm putting it in writing.

Okay, I do get it. No need to clarify for me.

So here's the official post.

Today I talked to two strangers at the beach. The first was a woman with a cast on her arm in a tiny bikini, who conveyed by her movements that she was not the least bit shy about being in so little material in such a public place. I, on the other hand, had to make an effort not to think of my two piece on the same stretch of beach as the swank 15 year olds with tight and smooth lines I had mistakenly assumed would always be with me.

The fact that this was even a subtle undercurrent tugging at my thoughts annoyed me. Yet it was there. The woman with the cast on her arm, seemed to be about my age. I decided she was from a foreign country--Italy, perhaps, or someplace where people are simply comfortable with their bodies for what they are.

She waded into the ocean, her arm lifted above her head to keep the cast dry as I played with my friend Lyske and her three year old daughter Nina, who balanced on a little mermaid boogie board.

As I swam out of the water, I was standing next to the woman.
"I bet you want to go swimming. It must be hard to stay out of the water on such a beautiful day." She smiled, but clearly did not understand all of my words.
"Do you speak English?" I asked.
"A little bit." she said.
""Where are you from?"
Aha. I was right about the foreigner part. Turns out she is here on vacation for two weeks doing an English language course and broke her arm the first week. What a bummer of a vacation. She was from Madrid, a city I never made it to during my week in Spain five years ago. Her sense of calm made sense, and I wanted to pry the secret from this stranger, who's body reminded me of my own, except the cast.

And yet, the answers appeared of its own accord. Had I broken my arm in a foreign country, would I wade into the ocean in my bikini, my broken arm held gently above my arm, or would I stay in the cafes and walk gingerly around the museums? Or, stay in, reading books and feeling sorry for myself.

I'd like to think I would be in the ocean by myself. I'll try on that thought for today and see if it fits. And maybe next time I'm on the beach in my bikini, I'll forget to think about anything except the ocean, my son screeching in joy as the waves crash at his feet and the conversations at hand.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ezra From the West Side

Our friends Olin and Delice have taught their sons Remi and Lino to call our son "Ezra from the West Side." Well, here he is, in his EJ glasses, flipping some attitude in his poor yuppy-ghetto backyard. If you can calculate carbon cap and trade, then certainly, you can calculate ghetto offset. Does our organic garden and cloth diapers hanging on the line offset our dilapidated metal fence and the neighbor's moss covered trailer?

Talent as Derailment /Talent as Motivation

When I read something so well crafted and unpredictable, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" for example, I find myself thinking I missed the literary boat a long time ago--like right after I finished my BA in English Literature and then moved to Idaho to be with a boy man.

Perhaps I missed the boat before then, when I was playing in three bands and exploring the many faces of Jaegermeister rather than the intricacies of Beowulf or Canterbury Tales, leaving my education to the illusionary genius of cramming and late night epiphanies.

Now, in the stillness of a Saturday afternoon, my son and husband at the zoo, the chocolate eaten, I come back here to my blog and ask why? What draws me here?

I've heard a handful of times that accomplished writers combine their talent with diligence. They create space in their lives to write--even when it turns out badly. Its the perserverance that pulls them through.

So, in honor of all those dollars mom and dad spent on my undergrad education, and in honor of the happiness that sometimes comes to me when I write, I will continue to spend time here and in other places where words align themselves--sometimes into meaningful verse.

Speaking of which, I am very impressed with Michelle Howard's recent column on the Huffington Post about the nature words we are losing in the junior dictionary.

Check it out here:

I won't say I'll try to write more often, because that sounds like a trap!