Monday, June 21, 2010

"They Sicken of the Calm, Who Knew the Storm"

Perhaps one of my favorite Dorothy Parker quotes of all time. It's stuck in my head today for some odd reason I can't really put my finger on. Maybe it's the doing of things long put off; or the completion of new goals birthed in spontaneity. Whatever the cause, I think it's a good one to remind myself of frequently.

I'm feeling this resurgence and necessity to accomplish a lot these days. Maybe I was sick of the calm. In the past week, I've taught my son how to swim with some assistance from my 10 year old niece; I've written a complete introduction to a story (gasp!); I've become quite acquainted with the treadmill; and I start swimming daily (I forgot how quickly I tan, it's been so many years since I've had the luxury of a club to use -- I am positively brown).

Of course, those first two are certainly the stones in my June Crown. Watching my six-year-old- ever-so-slightly-developmentally-delayed-though-beyond-his-years-brilliant child learn to swim so quickly and, to boot, swim under water today was not unlike the day he took his first steps. Yes, I might have teared up in the pool -- stranger things have happened.

And tonight, as he finished reading "Elwood and the Witch" to me and I turned out his lights, he requested Kind of Blue, making sure to tell me he was playing the "saxophone like Coltrane." The fact that he can not only play Freddie Freeloader through his "nose horn" to scale but the fact that he can actually differentiate Coltrane from Davis on the CD completely turns me inside out. If he picks out Julian "Cannonball" Atterley on alto sax, I'm calling the press. Or in the very least, Columbia Records. He also reminded me of how good he did at the pool; so our days revolve around the sun, the water and jazz. All of which seem to being doing wonders for the lot of us.

These moments, well, they astound me. As a parent, which is quite literally the hardest job I've ever loved, these magical little victories and triumphs where everything seems right in the world are how I realign my focus. Three weeks into our move to Nashville, the demon of transition finally reared its ugly head on my unsuspecting child. I think, honestly, there might have been a moment where he looked at me, turned a side eye and silently asked, "so....we're staying here?"

That's worrisome. But it's normal and we roll with it like we do everything else. We look to the little things to sustain us. Luckily we have the summer to acclimate and a wealth of resources for the hurdles here that we didn't have in Raleigh. For one, I found a biomed doctor today that takes my insurance! (Ok, I should have added that, at the very least, as number 2 of my hoorah list above.) We also have a tour for a private school for kids with unique learning styles tomorrow. Granted, I'd probably have to give up my entire inheritance times ten to pay for it, but that's what financial aid was invented for.

As for the's nice to do something other than blog. Not to say that I don't enjoy sitting here late at night, Karen Elson singing in the background, the quiet of suburbia screaming from the sidewalk, and me pouring out my thoughts from the day on to a blank screen, but there's something quite vacant about it at times. Vacant in that I'm not writing a great poem, a passionate song, or the beginnings of an intriguing story, screenplay, or novel -- you know, all of those things I swore 100 times on my Shakespeare Norton Reader I would do. So when something comes to me, like this gothic intro I've got, the overpowering need to read and write comes out of the shadows.

Removing myself from the complacency of a monotone life certainly has sparked some inspiration and for that I am ridiculously thankful. So I hope to have more than just brain fodder to put out into the dear universe some time within the next year. Not a challenge, just a hope.

For everything, lots and lots of hope.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hippie Dippy Rerun

For all my inner punk-rockstar-glamour-girl-40's-movie-starlet-urban-goddess-mother-of-oddness-ness-ism-ish, etc., in (some) of the words of Marguerite Duras, at "the heart of my essential uncertainty" I'm really just a hippie. My husband reminds me of this often. What can I tell you, my first love was a man who touted peace like breathing. G-d bless you, Mr. Lennon.

In this pursuit of getting healthy and shedding the "extra me," I have to go back to what I was raised on -- hello, Vegetarianism Revisited 7.0. Yeah, yeah, yeah I was going back to this like six months ago but chicken is so good. No, no it's not. Chickens eat each other's poop. I was really beginning to feel that "me no like" gag sensation at the consumption of chicken anyway so this should be no biggie. Just keep me away from any sort of Mexican dish with chicken in it and we are good. Beef? -- gave up months and months ago. That one was easy but oddly, this is going in reverse. I gave up chicken first when I was a die-hard vegetarian in my 20's but I often had momentary lapses of reason that involved a Cook-Out burger or a full on meat lover's pizza somewhere around 2:00 a.m. after many glasses of whatever. I'm not proud but I'll admit it. (Anyway if I don't, any number of friends or relatives will admit it for me.)

Being pregnant with Jude brought out the ravenous carnivore in me. Truly. I could have eaten the head off of..well anything. My theory is that your body wants whatever you haven't been giving it up to the point of conception. And then all hell breaks loose. I'm tempted to get pregnant again just to reverse the order.

Luckily for me, our recent move to Nashville offers a lot of options for vegetarianism and general hippie dippyness. There's a slew of restaurants (including a fully vegetarian Indian restaurant) and more than a dozen farmer's markets, organic farms, and a groovy little grocery store we discovered today in the East End called The Turnip Truck. You literally pull up to an organic garden. Yea!

Today I finally picked up the Daiya Vegan Cheese that I couldn't find anywhere in North Carolina (except for at one restaurant). It's actually available at both Whole Foods here and the Turnip plus it's served at all the Mellow Mushroom locations with a gluten-free pie option. Sadly, my very much in need of a gfcf diet child requests only the hummus when we go to the Mushroom but maybe I can bring him over.

Anyway, I substituted regular pasta and cheese in mac 'n cheese tonight with quinoa pasta and Daiya cheddar to much aplomb from both child and husband. Oh hoorah! I can finally give my child mac again without worry. Holla for the hippies that brought us this cheese!

Unfortunately, I couldn't quite get past the pungent smell of it nor did I trust it not to disrupt my terribly cheese-or-cheese-like sensitive tummy. I opted instead for Sunshine Burgers BBQ flavor in a wrap with fresh, organic red onions and organic green leaf lettuce, all from the Turnip Truck. Sunshine Burgers are a little more pricey there but you can usually get them at Harris Teeter for under $4. I think they are the only mass-produced veggie burgers that are GMO free. They are also vegan and gluten-free. AND they are made from sunflower seeds -- topped with pineapple salsa, they are delicious. I highly recommend them, whether you are a hippie or not.

I also fell in love with scrambled egg whites mixed with salsa today. Maybe it had just been years since I'd had salsa in my eggs or maybe it was just having them at the legendary Pancake Pantry by Vanderbilt. I'm not sure, but this will certainly become a regular in my quest for weight loss and healthy eating.

Tomorrow, I'm frying okra in brown rice flour and trading out our white sugar for real maple syrup. My husband will most likely find his way down to the Breadbasket and devour a burger when I'm not looking. My child will be with him. And they will ignore my okra and beg for a trip to Sweet CeCe's, which is essentially a buffet of frozen yogurt and a plethora of topping crack. But that's ok, because this clarity, hopefully, isn't going anywhere any time soon.

Working out and swimming every day are great motivators for healthy living but there's more to it than that -- it's just an energy that Nashville has. Not that this is some super healthy mecca in the likeness of LA, though I'm sure there's plenty of that. There's just a lot of energy period. And that is somewhat intoxicating. I kind of feel my shell cracking.


p.s. in other hippie dippyness of greatness obsessions, I've been trying to lower the toxicity level in our house for over a year now. Today, I found this great website...check it out: Mighty Nest.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Well, hi there! Long time, no...type? I feel like this blog constantly calls for a screeching apology from its caretaker who sadly neglects it on a regular basis. Said caretaker always has valid excuses, however, and is pretty certain that moving to a new state warrants a break from all things web-related.

We are official Nashvillians. After many years of talk about living in Music City, we (I) finally made it. It's a relief to now enjoy the doing rather than the talking. But this wasn't just a move to satisfy an urge, it was one of necessity. Thankfully losing my job in Raleigh and its slow, albeit decaying, job market landed me exactly where I wanted to be. And luckily my new gig doesn't start for a month so I've got days and weeks to explore and figure out, well, where the hell everything is.

Unfortunately, for now (well at least for tonight), I'm couching it. In the midst of this mad move (which was decided upon on a Tuesday and executed the following Sunday), I contracted some horrid Hunta type Ebola plague from the child's school. Between the packing, the driving, the unloading and the enveloping southern heat, I've had just a little too much "fun" and my Friday night excitement looks like it will be with a bottle of Omnicef and not a bottle of Malbec.

Normally, I'm a person who likes to have the entire house arranged, unpacked, decorated and magazine worthy in less than 48 hours after a move. So you can imagine how frustrated I would be given the circumstances. But something rather significant happened as I rolled endlessly over hills and through apocalyptic thunderstorms this past week: self-revelation. I'll try not to Hallmark this moment too much as I am no stickler for the sentimental but bear with me.

Self-revelation #1: When you realize you've stopped growing, you must reroot yourself.

Now there are those people who would think moving from an otherwise adequate if not sustained and mostly fulfilling situation to be futile. Well, I needed a job. But it's not just that. We all needed a new perspective, a fresh shake, a different angle and an awakened synergy.

Having both (husband and I) been raised with a significant infestation of the "travel bug" and also moved around quite a bit as children, I think we both recognized our very real need to, well, "move around." That is not to say that we don't see ourselves planting roots but we are more of the mindset of it's not where you are, but who you are with. As long as the 3 of us are together, whatever place that may be on the map, we are home.

Raleigh had become rather impervious professionaly, socially, creatively, and mentally for both of us. Not to say that Raleigh is not a wonderful place with a lot to offer but when you've roamed its streets for a decade and change, searching and searching for that moment of discovery, never to find it, you know its time to move on. That moment had evaded both of us for quite some time. What that meant for him was leaving for China. What that meant for me was developing a horrid case of anxiety. Which brings me to...

Self-Revelation #2: It's not really textbook anxiety, so park your meds, advice and self-help books, please. I got this.

As I was driving through a thunderstorm that made all things around me completely invisible including the transfer truck in front of me, my husband's moving truck behind me, and the guardrails beside me (vomit), my immediate thought was not "oh no, something's going to happen to me" it was "oh no, something's going to happen to my child (who is sitting in the back seat telling me 'mommy, rainy days happen' like zero visibility is nothing to freak out about) because I don't trust myself enough to get out of this situation." And like that, as if 100 lightbulbs went off over my head in a single moment, I figured it out. All these post-partum years of fighting off anxiety I thought was linked directly to so many things was really only linked to this one thought: I didn't really trust myself to, well, parent. And protect. And provide. Even though I'd been doing and am doing it now. Wonderfully intriguing, how the mind works.

Even writing this now, I feel an enormous sense of relief and a little bit of "well duh" to boot. I could pinpoint exactly when and where this thought process came into play and I could easily justify to and remind myself of the fact that my child is ridiculously happy, has jumped 100 hurdles, and adores his mother to no end. And then I just kind of laughed. Oddly, all seemed right with the world.

I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but thank G-d for that horrendous downpour on the highway.

Self-revelation #3: What makes me tick.

Let's combine #1 and #2 and get to what makes me tick. Going makes me tick. Sure, I hate the leaving and the being left. That's never a good time for anybody. But the going? Boy, sign me up! I don't do well sitting still, staying in one place, being stagnant, turning in circles, running into old walls, or playing it safe. Playing it safe has just not ever really been a part of my vocabulary (please note before you get lecture-y that safe and responsible do not mean the same thing in this scenario). In this way, my husband and I are very much the same -- and also wind up being very much misunderstood. Luckily, once you hit your mid-30's, you become way less concerned with being misunderstood. Or in the very least doing anything to become understood.

However, parenthood requires that you calm the hell down for a minute, doesn't it? And in that lies the HUGE adjustment. It's not really adjusting to the new child, that part is easy, it's adjusting to the new you. And it can be kind of annoying.

Then they turn six. And require adventure. Long for experience. Look for you to lead them. Embody all that excitement you put in park when you strapped yourself down to that desk and 401(k). It's quite invigorating, this age, and I dare say it is my favorite age thus far (ok, well except when he was a chubby, curly haired baby who only had eyes for his mama). Not only am I inspired by it, I'm reminded of who he gets it from: me. It's like a little mirror -- on steroids.

Sure I had to change things around inside myself a bit to maintain as a single parent, but there are so many parts bursting to get out from the onset of parental repression. Sounds like a mid-life crisis doesn't it? Yeah it probably does but I don't really care. I am just one of those who has to go, go, go. Not always meaning move, move, move. The journey is now ours -- not just mine -- and that is thrilling. The wanderlust is still in tact and all the hours spent on a therapist sofa could not make it more simple than that.

Self-Revelation #4: You seriously need to rework your challenges. And not everything has to be one.

What does that mean exactly? Well I'll tell you. The real challenges are the ones you encounter every day. Making sure my son understands things, teaching him right and wrong, making sure he brushes his teeth properly, uses his words, remembers his manners, respects people, animals and the earth. Making sure I am fulfilling those things we as a family need to sustain and function every day because, let's not kid ourselves, if mom/wife doesn't function, nothing does. Maybe not giving myself such a hard time because obviously I'm not perfect but there's quite a list of things I do well and I should really focus on them and -- wait for it -- limit the time suckage that is the internet.

In this I am reminded of the "oh shit, I'm turning 36" challenge. It's still on for sure, especially considering I've got about 7 personal trainers at my fingers' tips now, but I think I've reevaluated this whole "must be done by xxxx" to it "just must be done." For the record, I've only managed to shed 5 pounds but I'm still hopeful for another 15 by July 14. If it does not happen, though, I will not don a hair shirt or whip myself with a horse's tail or talk/complain about it incessantly to those around me (quel bore). Life is just too short.

By the end of self-revelation #4, I was within Nashville city limits and bordering the brink of delirium. Another 20 minutes passed and we were rolling slowly down the main street of Franklin which is quite like taking a step back in time. We went to the bank where everyone greeted us in a deep southern twang. We found our house which, while temporary, is a great "docking" spot for us until we determine our next step. Within 48 hours, we found the guitar shop, the thrift store, all of Nashville's finest vintage spots, everything "child," our new peditrician's office, our favorite cafe, all the local ghost stories, every historic site and so much more. I kind of stopped and took a deep breath of our new town and reveled in the richness that is a slower pace, a kinder smile, and, well, fields and fields of greener grass -- literally.

Obviously, though, what's most important is that the 3 of us function as we always have -- a team. That's really how we see it. Right now, the leaders of the team are dragging and very much in need of a home cooked meal loaded with veggies. The child, however, is thrilled. He's excited, he's happy, he's talking A LOT, and he's sleeping with no issue -- a great sign after a huge move. I dare say this experience, already, has been great for him. (Get back to me when we start school.)

At the end of the day, what does it all mean? Basically that sometimes you have to put yourself out there. And sometimes you have to not think too much and just do. I plan on making both of these my new mantras. I'll let you know what I turn up -- or where.