Thursday, January 20, 2011

mama quiet

At night, after the books, after Ramona drinks her milk, right before I put her in bed, she talks to me. Without the distraction of the day, sitting in the dark, wrapped in a blanket, I listen to her stories. After 20 months of mama talking, talking, talking. I listen.
Quietly, sleepily, she tells me the names of all her friends at day care. She tells me about a "party". My little girl is learning how to tell me things. Not just that she needs milk and her blanket. She's learning how to tell me about her day. About what happens when I'm not there. She's learning how to tell me about her.

Her babysitter tells me that Ramona talks about me too. She tells her that "mama is sleeping". She tells this to Brian too. Mama is sleeping. In her mind, if I'm not with her, I must be sleeping.
This Ramona is a new girl. This daughter is a new love that I'm dizzy with. And honestly, I feel like a new mother too. A quiet mom. A listening mom.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Wordy Shipmates - no kidding

I finished reading The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell about a week ago. I love Vowell's funny voice so much, but this book was a little too much like a thesis paper for me. You know how when you are talking to someone at a party, and you really like them, and you are sort of interested in what they are saying, but then your eyes kind of glaze over? And you hate that, because you want to pay attention, but oh my...... This was The Wordy Shipmates for me. (It really freaks me out, but I KNOW more often than not, I'm the one that makes the people's eyes glaze over.)

But I appreciated the book and her devotion to teaching us who we came from. I am proud of our puritan ancestors. But in my heart, I am sort of a Calvinist. I told a friend once that if I were Christian, I would not pray for things. I would just pray as often as possible for God to have mercy on my miserable soul. A few days ago, I heard of a yoga teacher telling her class that they were not the ones that really needed this mindfulness training, it was everyone else that really needed it. Preaching to the choir, and that sort of thing. I shook my head so hard on that one. I do need the training. I believe that in my heart we all need the training. None of us are the elect.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I am having a snow vacation. School was cancelled for Monday, Tuesday, and now for Wednesday. I feel very certain this is a cosmic gift to apologize for the really crappy Christmas.

I've been doing all the things that I wanted to do during my real break. Cleaning, cooking, and being with Ramona. She has been so entertaining. All day yesterday when I would ask her questions the answer was "no way!" I have no idea where she got that. This morning she was playing in my room and she was putting all my rings on the head of the little Buddha that sits on the table by my bed. It's not a shrine exactly, but that little statue never fails to soften my heart and remind me to practice. She used to call it "booty" but today it actually sounded like "Buddha". I have no plans to take Ramona to the dharma school, but I admit that I love seeing her grow up in the home that I've created. And there is Buddha in this home.

Another funny Ramona thing is that she refers to herself as "Monut". Today it was "Mama's coffee, Monut MUCK!" (translation: mama is drinking coffee, so Ramona would like some milk.) I really dislike the nickname associated with Ramona, Mona. I just can't ever call her that. But I think Monut is hilarious.

I can't get enough of this charming girl. This snow vacation is just what I needed.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


It turns out freedom ain't nothing but missing you - Taylor Swift

(I don't think Franzen would mind the Swift quote. Pop book, pop song, it's all just chicklets/candy anyway.)

During the Christmas break, I finished reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. There are a lot of different ways to feel this book. I had never considered that it was about anything other than marriage, until I talked with a friend about the book. Maybe Freedom is like a Rorschach test to determine the most difficult relationship in your life.

For me, Freedom is about marriage. The marriage of Walter and Patty Burglund.
When I read it, I would go from feeling my marriage was superior to that of Walter and Patty. And then something would be a little too familiar and I would feel shame. Shame for feeling superior. Because, during a dark moment, don't we all feel like the whole thing is just about over?

The book includes a section where the character Patty writes her autobiography to explain that "mistakes were made". God, what a completely heartbreaking utterance. Mistakes were made.

Early Christmas Eve morning, 30 pages from completion, I read the letter Patty wrote to Walter, explaining how she wanted him back:
"She can imagine that, if she could somehow be with Walter again, and feel secure in his love again, and get up from their warm bed in the morning and go back to it at night knowing that she's his again..."
"It comes to her day after day, year after similar year, this yearning for his face and his voice and his anger and his kindness, this yearning for her mate."

After reading this, I closed the book. Rolled over, into my husband's arms and thanked god for Franzen and fiction. And for Brian. And for knowing that this is just the story of a marriage and mistakes will be made.