30 August 2005

self portrait tuesday #4


it was december and it was my 34th birthday. I am fortunate enough to say that I spent part of the day celebrating in a cramped booth at a fabulous old diner with the people I love. crown candy stands on the corner of an area of the city so desolate and desperate for rebirth that you'd never guess the goodness that exists on the inside. and then you step into warmth and music and booths crammed with people, tables and menus that feel one hundred years old. a friend took me to this place quite accurately predicting that I would fall in love with it. nancy took such great care of me on my birthday. she made sure I got to visit my favorite place ever, city museum -- a place I find so wonderful that it is nearly impossible to describe. it's this huge old building filled with beautiful oddball art (everywhere you look), two and three-story tube slides, a shoelace factory and a place where you can paint old hats. there are giant slinkies to climb in, an aquarium to visit and a circus to see. you can also view the world's largest pair of men's underwear and get your photo taken in an original old-school b&w photobooth (yes, we spent many hours and many dollars in that booth). also, there is a big yellow school bus precariously balanced on the roof of the museum and I don't know why and I love that I don't know why. I LOVE THIS PLACE. I think I would like to sneak in and live hobo-style inside one of the mosaic-covered hidden tunnels. anyway, my friend spoiled me that weekend, she took us to dinner, let us take over her home for the night, surprised me with a red velvet cake (my favorite), made me the biggest, most beautiful breakfast and then took me to crown candy. meridith, I'm with you. I'm all about birthdays, all about celebrating, all about going all out. you get ONE DAY A YEAR, people. I have never understood why you wouldn't want to go absolutely nuts. (by the way, happy birthday, dearest cousin kristy jo and miss meridith).

and this is the part where I talk about the most lovely ice cream sundae to come my way in all of my thirty-four years of living. it should be said that I love whipped cream much more than ice cream. I would have been pretty happy with a goblet full of hot fudge and whipped cream but the ice cream kind of balances everything out.

29 August 2005

ezra is WALKING



I am resisting every urge I have been having to follow my children around with the camera (and video camera) to record every heart-breakingly miraculous milestone they reach. it's all flying by me at such a frightening pace. I'm so afraid I might miss something and so I keep my record-keeping means handy and ready to go. yes, we are the uncool parents that must document everything and will stop at nothing to capture the moment. though lately I have been trying to let it happen, to let the days unfold and set the camera down. this is not an easy thing for me and people, I have to use physical force to get ward to do the same (you know it's true, LOV-ERRR). between ava starting kindergarten and ezra learning to walk... well, I'm worn out.

ezra has been walking since the last week of july (picking up speed each day) and adding all kinds of words to his vocabulary. there was also the first haircut and his joyous discovery that most anything in this world can be CLIMBED UPON. he is figuring things out faster than I can handle. I can't turn my back on the ez for a NANOSECOND, lest I find him eating a lost tortilla chip from a dust pile (yup, from one of my non-committal piles). I turned my head for a second, just to see what time it was only to find him about to seal the deal with said grimy, hairy broken chip. he loves to take the tops off of markers and scribble, gravitates towards electrical outlets, toilets and cat food. he wants nothing to do with his super-fun room filled with all the most fantastic toys. one of his favorite things to do is climb the bamboo chair in the living room and then look back at me like, "so what happens now, lady!? huh? I know I'm making you crazy and isn't it FUN!?" really not sure why I'm so surprised. he's a toddler, this is what they do, this is what we signed on for, it's in the contract. and so I sound like so many mothers who have gone before me, millions and millions of mothers. he's wearing me out and driving me crazy but I just don't want to miss a stinking second of it. whether he's hurling crayons through the air with super-human force or whispering words in that most delicious ezra-speak, I want to be present for all of it.

26 August 2005

overheard

last friday, I was trying on clothes at urban outfitters when I overheard two employees talking:

"it's my birthday today."

"really? happy birthday! how old are you?"

"um. I don't want to say. you'll laugh."

"oh, come on."

(insert dramatic pause, resigned-sounding exhalation from the birthday girl here)

"I'm... 24."

"hey, that's not too bad. really. now, if you'd said 29. or 30. well..."

people, as I stood in that dressing room half-naked and eavesdropping (ezra flinging lipstick from my purse in every direction), I did not know whether to laugh or to cry.

25 August 2005

le bon mots

I love letters, I love words. I love that letters make up words and words make up sentences that then go onto bigger and better things like ideas and paragraphs and entire books. not to get all schoolhouse rock here (why not?) but it's the truth. words I have been loving:

phosphorescent, cerebral, luminous, exuberant, cheeky, brilliant, lush, mambo,vinyl, electric, kinesthetic, vintage, shrill, reciprocity, bohemian, vernacular, ishkabibble.

I like the way they sound coming out of my mouth (and often find myself saying them at random times). I love the way they look, sometimes I dig the meanings. if I could find a way to work them into every conversation, every written piece, I would. (okay, ishkabibble isn't really a word, just something I've been calling ezra lately. it's a delight to pronounce, really. you should try it).

23 August 2005

self portrait tuesday #3



earlier today, ward asked me why I decided to participate in the self-portrait tuesday group. at first, I really didn't have an answer for him. truthfully? I feel a little vulnerable posting a photograph of myself each week. I feel weird about it, which is precisely why it's such a valuable exercise. I'm genuinely interested in things that stretch me personally and creatively. the task of taking a photo of yourself is a tricky one. vanities are revealed and some playing is required, you must be open to looking at yourself with different eyes. you must be able to let go of some things. or embrace some things.

there was so much going on around me while I was trying to get this shot... ezra was crying, ava was grieving over a broken barbie vespa, the phone kept ringing, the camera battery was moments away from dying and my time was running out. initially, I was uncomfortable with the self-portrait above, self-conscious about the angle, about my mole, maybe. I don't know. and then I thought about how I have had that mole since birth, how much it is a part of my appearance. throughout the years, it has been the source of both shame and pride. over and over, I have been teased about it and complimented on it. such a small thing, that little mole on my chin. but I guess that's what self-portrait tuesdays are all about.

and oh, how I love to see what everyone else puts out there. please, help yourself to more self-portrait tuesday goodness: go here and here.

22 August 2005

after hours

lately, I have been more than willing to sacrifice sleep for free time. I crave hours where nothing is required of me, when the house is still and dark. I lay on the couch and contemplate. I am seduced by the possibility of the night. the books I might read, the projects I might work on. more often than not, I end up on the living room floor in the middle of an impossible mountain of laundry, folding and folding while watching bad television. and then all of the sudden it is the middle of the night, and I am hunched over the glowing screen of my lovely computer, reading and clicking and writing. and then, it is no longer the middle of the night but THE NEXT DAY and I have only a couple of hours to fit in a whole nights' sleep. I run and jump into bed, pull the sheets up over my wired self and shut my eyes quickly, as if I've been caught and immediately need to feign deep sleep.

I know this is wrong, it is not good, it has to stop. my children should have the best part of who I am each day. oh sure, I can fake my way through but I know that I'm eventually headed for a private meltdown. I can feel the exhaustion deep in the sockets of my eyes, in the depths of my joints. ava and ezra deserve more than this. and truly, I want to give it to them. the best of who I am is a happy and loving mother, a goofy, creative mother, an ALERT mother, one that is not the grouchiest, most delirious mommy EVER, one that posesses the amount of coherence required to assemble a simple puzzle, one that will not nod off mid-sentence, one that does not have the 'crazy eyes'.

the trouble is, I have always been a night owl. I think I was in junior high when my parents finally gave up trying to get me to go to bed at a sensible hour. they found me huddled under my blue satin bedspread with a book and a flashlight too many times to count and so they just gave up. this night owl-ness has always been a big part of who I am and then I married a night owl and we so loved being night owls together. and then we had babies and for the first time, someone, something was FORCING us into night owl-dom and we wept for the days (and nights) when we could sleep freely. oh sleep, beautiful sleep. it's so good. why hadn't we slept more? we could not understand why we did not choose to sleep for all the hours of our pre-children nights (if only in preparation for the relentless sleeplessness that only babies can bring).

now, I have come full circle. ava and ezra are sleeping well these days and so now I can sleep, too (in my own bed, through the night) and all I want to do is stay up. I want to stay up and make things, write, read, lay on the couch with ward and laugh and make jokes that don't make any sense and pretend that I don't have to be up at what feels like the very crack of dawn. last night (well, this morning), I was ever so innocently catching up on my email when I happened to glance up at the clock. I was horrified, HORRIFIED to see that it read 5:49 a.m. I would have to be up in less than an hour! what was wrong with me? was there even time to sleep? all these thoughts racing through my head as I tried to grab the tiniest, most pathetic shred of sleep. tonight, I will surely crash. and this week, I will surely succumb to the decent sleep routine of a normal person. I will catch up on the zzz's and feel good again. but I'm a little too much like a junkie (I need my night time fix, MAN) and it will soon be time for more night owl-like activities. I will find myself deep in project mode at 3 a.m. and will make more promises to the part of me who wants to be the best mother, to the body that is begging me for sleep. I will negotiate with myself until I see the pink light of morning outside my window.

17 August 2005

butterfly



in my tireless search for old photos, I have come to appreciate the flip side. I never paid much attention to the back of the snapshots until after I brought them home. guess I was too busy looking at the front. and then one day I discovered a world of goodness could be found if you just took the time to look. words, phrases, names and dates reveal themselves at the flick of a wrist, and you feel as if you have stumbled across the very clues you might need to unlock the mystery behind the unknown subject. such an eloquent vernacular, this text. what I have come across has often been charming and oddball-like, sometimes creepy, always interesting. scrawled on the back of the above photo in a faded and wobbly script:

"I thought I was a butterfly."

something about this makes me happy.

15 August 2005

kindergarten

I watched her this morning, standing in line. she was wearing her new pink converse high tops and so proud to be carrying her hello kitty backpack and lunchbox. wide-eyed and quiet like the rest of the children she stood next to, waiting to walk inside the old brick school to start her very first day of kindergarten. just thirty minutes earlier, she had been giggly and excited but now she was quiet. she glanced back at us and I felt at once a mixture of panic and pride. I felt I might run screaming towards her for one last hug, one last pep talk. instead, I stood silent, watching and waving, smiling. the air was balmy and thick (even at eight in the morning) and my skin was beginning to feel sticky. I could feel my eyes getting all watery and I looked down so she would not see this. there she goes, I thought. off into the big bad world. and I prayed that she would make at least one friend today, that she would have no encounters with mean kids, that she wouldn't feel so scared and unsure.

I am counting the minutes until 2:45.

12 August 2005

there was a party



and it was PINK AND RED. in fact, I needed a couple of weeks just to recover from all the pinkness and the redness. the wheels started turning in ava's mind this past spring when she was attending birthday parties left and right. she started to wonder what kind of birthday party SHE should have.

"mommy, I'm thinking about my birthday."

and so of course, I pulled out my trusty martha stewart kids magazines. sweet mary, the love I have for that publication. they're not kidding around, folks. deliciously colorful and well-designed pages filled with serious crafting, pages filled with a million projects that I often daydream ava and I might spend afternoons attempting. I am normally not so good at sharing this mag with the ava-girl, but on this particular occasion we had a party to discuss. we thumbed through page after page of picturesque birthday parties and finally stopped on a spread that featured a perfect-looking little pixie-like girl enjoying herself at a pink-themed soiree.

"hey! pink! a pink party! I like pink!"

then she furrowed her brows and shrugged.

"but I like red, too. red is my FAVORITE COLOR. no. we can't do it."

"ava, why don't we have a pink and red party? there's nothing that says we have to limit it to just one color, kid."

she got all bubbly at the thought and thus the planning began. yes, yes, I know. I am a creative visionary whose brilliance is unmatched (okay, maybe just in the eyes of ava, but I'll take that). and with the planning came the relentless search for all things pink and red. three months of hitting every dollar tree store, every party supply joint in hopes of scoring the pink and red goods. somewhere along the way, my dear cousin from texas (kristy jo) got involved. she had been wanting to plan a visit and when she heard of the birthday festivities... well, we didn't have to twist her arm. three things you should know about this fabulous woman:

1. she has the best laugh EVER and even though she (technically) goes by the name 'kristy', I have refused (since childhood) to call her anything other than 'kristy jo'. usually, it comes out of my mouth so fast it sounds more like 'KRISTYJO!'.

2. she is as crazy as I am (if not crazier) when it comes to parties and celebrations and all things kid-like.

3. one summer at church camp, she colored my entire nose in with a permanent black marker while I was sleeping and then FELL ASLEEP DOING IT. I slept on that marker the entire night, woke up in a pool of black ink. I even thought the prank was kind of funny until I discovered that it WOULD NOT wash off and was forced to walk around with a dark grey nose the rest of the week. the esprit muscle shirts didn't look so cool on me then, NOTHING looked cool on me and my 13 year-old hopes of snagging a cute boy were just so over. I still love her, though. and I have forgiven her and gone on to lead a somewhat normal life. KRISTYJO, YOU WILL NEVER LIVE THIS DOWN.

once my cousin hopped on the party train, I knew we were headed to crazy town. there would be no voice of reason, no one to control the unstoppable force that we are when we get together (I have written about my cousin here as well). three months of planning and emails that included discussions on possible pink and red foods, and what about purchasing a cotton candy machine? and how about a sno-cone machine, too? see, I knew she would genuinely share in the giddiness over my dollar store discovery of the pink paper lanterns and red inflatable tables and chairs. she confessed to me that for a short while, she really thought she might be able to teach herself how to make balloon animals. she knew I would understand and appreciate the madness behind that statement. and I knew the force was with me when she called from a mexican market in san antonio to inform me that she was about to purchase a very, very large strawberry pinata. it arrived at our house in a huge brown box the following week and I thought ava might just pass out from sheer happiness at the sight of it.

the big day has come and gone. watching ava with her little buddies in the midst of that pink and red frenzy completely justified all nuttiness. I will never forget ava (wearing a pink and red outfit she had so carefully put together) proudly saying, "welcome to my party!" to each guest that walked through the front door. the food was phenomenal (my cousin is a party food GENIUS) and the cherry red sno-cones were a smash hit. what else can I say? we did the limbo and painted faces. someone finally busted open the big strawberry pinata and many pink and red treats were snatched up by happy little hands. there was cake (strawberry cream, of course) and there were feathered party hats. I'd like to be able to say that I regret giving all the munckins party horns halfway through the gig, but I can't. that's what party horns are for, they're for tooting loudly and that's an ideology I can really get behind. there were also presents and lots of ripping and tearing of wrapping paper (crowd favorite: a vintage lite brite, courtesy of uncle nate, aunt kendra and luxie... SCORE). and then we sent them on their merry little way with goodie bags filled with pink rubber bracelets, silly sliding whistles, bubble gum and red pixie sticks. yes, I sent them all home on a sugar high to beat all sugar highs, horns in hand and I'm sure the parents were cursing my very existence as the shrill sound of whistles filled many a home that night.

but hey-- it was a party. turning five is a fantastic thing and I hope I have given ava something that she will remember for the rest of her life. I will probably never be able to walk through the dollar store again without scouting out the red and pink goods, but, aahhh-- such a small price to pay. and now we have our very own sno-cone machine (thank you very much, dearest cousin kristyjo), one that will make us the most splendid cherry sno-cones and always remind us of the fabulous pink and red party.

behold the pink and red party splendor here.

09 August 2005

self portrait tuesday #1



I am joining the revolution and will begin to post self-portraits on tuesdays. though this photograph was taken in some random parking lot in 1999, it is exactly how I feel about my life at this very moment: I am always in motion.

I'm so weird

everyone has some quirks, I think. I hadn't really given much thought to mine until my friend, the oh so lovely poppy, tagged me with this:

idiosyncracy: structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group. write down five of your idiosyncracies. then, if you wish, tag five people. so here we go:

1. when I sweep, I have a tendency to leave little piles of dust in various corners of different rooms. ward has titled these my 'non-committal' piles and they have caused many an agitated state. I don't know why I don't finish the job. something about the act of walking back into the utility room to get the dust pan, sweep up the mess and carry it precariously to the trash can. I always think that I'll get around to it. and another excuse I love to throw at ward from time to time: marriage is a partnership! we work together! I willfully leave these piles, testing the strength and truth of our love. ha.

2. I have become incredibly strange about my personal space at the movie theatre. I like to have many seats between myself and the other movie-goers. I can handle myself in a sold-out flick where I have no choice but to cozy up to complete strangers in the dark, but when I'm sitting in a theatre that's half-full and some clueless good-time johnny plops himself down right in front of me (or beside me, or behind me)... well, me no like. people, why? you have the entire theatre. I need to put my feet up, stretch and not feel all creepy. I have been known to let out an exasperated sigh, uproot my entire movie posse and relocate.

3. I get really excited when I have the exact change to pay for something. ward doesn't understand why I go to great lengths to pull pennies (often one at a time) out of my black fuzzy coin purse. handing over $2.31 IN EXACT CHANGE to the bored-looking teenager at the drive-thru window at mcdonald's fills me with a sense of satisfaction that I cannot explain. and refuse to defend.

4. I have no tolerance for overhead lighting in my home. we walk into a room, ward flips the switch and it's as if a thousand freakish florescent elves are shrieking all around me. I just want the dull, flat lighting to stop and be replaced with the warm glow of my lamps. oh, the lamps. they are a special little army that illuminate my days and nights and make feel safe and happy. I am partial to old ones with fifties-style mult-tiered fiberglass shades. they are all over house and yes, they are all usually on at the same time.

5. and here's one from ward: he says that I unwrap any little piece of chocolate given to me with such delicateness, you'd think we were living in war time. as if we were living under a bridge somewhere and I have been given one last morsel of chocolate to last me until the end of my days. as if it is the last piece of chocolate on the earth and covered in pure gold foil with the answers to all the questions of the universe written on the inside. I've never really noticed this about myself (perhaps I'm too wrapped up in the unwrapping). I'm not ashamed to say I'm serious about the goodness of chocolate, thus treating each piece with the respect it so rightly deserves. and if that is wrong, people-- I don't want to be right.

it's all relative, though. as strange as I think I am, I know it could be worse. there might be someone out there who feels the need to wear a tutu while scrubbing toilets. or will only wear red underwear every other thursday (but not if it's raining). this is the part where I get to learn about all the idiosyncracies that exist out there.

please feel free to share.

05 August 2005

come on and sing it with me

dekalb avenue delight

there are graffiti pieces hidden all over the city. like easter eggs, just waiting to be found.

everyday, I find myself making the same drive down the long industrial stretch of dekalb avenue. I have become a loyal traveler of dekalb, much as I detest the grind of my daily route. this is because dekalb never disappoints. decaying old signs, impromptu gardens, bits of street art, marta trains that races alongside and up above. no shortage of visual gems. and my favorite-- the self serve car wash, whose humble concrete walls once held bursts of color (courtesy of hense, one of atlanta's most prolific graff writers). my heart sank when I discovered it had all been painted over. I looked for it each day as I zoomed by. I loved the idea that you could pull in, blast the dirt off your car and get an eyeful of color. all for a handful of quarters.

(I have a special place in my heart for graffiti writers. I am married to the one they call canon)

02 August 2005

getting me through the day

car wash graffiti, fresh lemons in my kitchen, ezra's toothy grin, the sunflowers on dekalb avenue, my turquoise necklace, a good sweat, the fountain at fellini's, ava's elaborate drawings/paintings/stories, my bright pink adidas (I never wear them but love to sit around and look at them), flickr, goat cheese, jack black, the large metal winged foot that hangs above our fireplace, orange fingernail polish, the new david sedaris book, the promise of a road trip, the promise of a dance class, the promise of a trip to the thrift store, the promise of a trip to the movie theatre, the promise of a foot rub, homemade cherry sno-cones in the middle of the afternoon for no reason, my brown leather wrist cuff, mos def's music, big mouth lip gloss, juicy chunks of watermelon, ava's gangster-speak, new crayons, singing HEY MAMBO! MAMBO ITALIANO! at the top of my lungs (and scaring the pants off of everyone in the house), silly straws, the moment ward walks through the door at the end of the day.

what's doing it for you?