Monday, December 29, 2008

christmas cards from the heartland - part 1

Getting here was an odyssey. I had never considered that a nighttime drive from North Carolina to the prairies of northern Indiana would become an epic journey. But what I had been told was normally a fairly boring 9-1/2 hour drive on interstate became for our little family a harrowing adventure.

Long story short...we left at 6pm and had smooth sailing all the way to Lexington, KY at which point the finger of fate shifted to point squarely at our little orange pontiac. At around 11:30 pm we hit a literal wall of immobile traffic in a sea of darkness and hissing icy rain. For 2 hours we sat unmoving 10 miles back (according to a passing police officer) from a nasty accident and ice-covered road. The wreck, we are told, had been cleared an hour before, but still no one was moving save the lone smokers and strollers who floated like hazy apparitions among the acres of families sitting mournfully in their frozen vehicles waiting to resume their nocturnal holiday migrations.

Unfortunately, we left our radio and defroster on. Seemed logical at the time, but we regretted it when Scott tried to turn the car on during a premature forward leap of traffic and discovered nothing but a clicking starter. Birch became inconsolable. The baby began to fret in earnest. I pondered a night sleeping bunched together in the cold like a den of testy badgers. Thankfully, Scott jumped right out and started hailing nearby cars for jumper cables (ours were, of course, in the other car at home). On his 6th try he got some from a friendly fellow and after a bit of fiddling and annoyance, we got the car started and we crept ahead...about 10 yards!

Yeah, the traffic was still jammed.When things did start to move they did so with a lurch and we surged forward quickly much to our excitment. However, immediately things skidded to a cold-blooded crawl and we inched along for another hour or so as orange signs forced 3 packed lanes to economize to 2.

After we finally got rolling at a good speed, Scott made the executive decision (because the rest of us were in various states of coma) to take I-69 from Indiananapolis to avoid icy backroads. The unkindest cut of all came as we prepared to merge onto 69 -- the home stretch, so to speak -- and found in front of us a wall of barricades and police cars with flashing blue lights....(to be continued)

Saturday, December 13, 2008


This morning I needed my shower...I mean not in a "needed it because I was dirty and smelly" sense, but definitely in a "needed as the salvation of my earthly being" sense.

It was one of those nights with the baby.. She puked in the bed...twice. And when she pukes like this, it amuses me how some adults call it "spit up" when babies hurl the contents of their tiny stomachs out at us. "Spit up" sounds almost sounds small and manageable and like something you'd brush off your lapel with a breezy laugh while sipping your apple-tini and chatting with your fashionable mama friends. But this was most definitely puke. The bed was awash with it.

She clearly was not feeling well. Besides the double dragon puke-fest, she generally just stayed up all night fussing and nursing and making poo messes in her pants on on the bedsheets and on her pj' get the picture. So at this point, as I write this with zero z's behind me, I'm feeling pretty close to comatose and very near the end of my good humour. Wishing I'd written this first in Word and pasted it in here so I could avail myself of spell check...

So at 8:30 this morning when I finally gave up on getting any shut eye and stumbled to the shower I was in dire need of some hot water salvation. Unfortunately, at that very moment my beloved had emerged from downstairs where he had just put in a load of puke-saturated sheets to wash...on hot. Thus, due to the limitations of our hot water heater, my steaming dose of salvation was sadly downsized to a non-commital, luke-warm drizzle.

But, for some reason, instead of giving in to despair, I started thinking:

Showers are truly divine. How many of us really appreciate the gift of our morning hot shower? Think about it.

I remember during my years on the road in Latin America, Asia and parts of Europe, a shower of any kind was a blessing...even an ice cold one (which most of them were) was welcome if you were cruddy and worn with road-rot and Tiny Bus Seat Funk (if you've ever traveled via reanimated school bus in the third world, you know what I'm talking about). But a hot shower...oh, the bliss of a hot shower! I mean, most hot showers you'd get were perilous to say the least since the water heaters in places like Laos and Honduras tend to be roughly the size and appearance of a yard sale toaster and hang precariously close to the water flow attached to the shower head with weird wires and things sticking out...But still. You would just stand there, forgetting your fear of death by electrocution for a minute or two and soaking in the rain of was heaven.

And here in the U.S. today...I mean, hell yes, our economy has tanked, the government is rife with corruption, no one can afford to go to the doctor or buy a house, but damn it, most of us has access to a hot shower, at least every once in awhile.

When my son was a baby and colicky, the shower was my one moment in each long, lonely day of endless caregiving that was just for me. Even though his dad was usually gone and I would have to strap him crying in his baby seat on the bathroom floor just outside the shower, with the curtain drawn and the magnificent hot water tumbling down around me, I could snatch, even if just for a minute at a time, small islands of peace and serenity all for myself. In those days, I meditated in the shower. I even did a sort of modified yoga in the shower. It was MY time.

And so, even though this morning's shower didn't deliver everything I had hoped for, I am grateful. I am grateful that I have this magical, curtained box in my house for my own personal use. I am grateful for hot water heaters. I am grateful to have a daddy in the house to watch the baby while I let the falling water clean away the grit and misgivings of a sleepless night. Ahhhh....the beauty of it. :-)

Monday, December 8, 2008


Today is without a doubt One of Those Days.

Baby Boss and I are sick with a sniffly, sneezy, coughing, aching stuffy head, fever cold that has my emotional flag flapping listlessly at half-mast. Plus Baby Boss, probably due to her cold, but who knows why, is not night, that is. She is currently sleeping of course. Since it's noon and all. But from 8pm-around 6am, she's wide awake and fussy and wanting to be attached full-time to my poor nipples.

So today is not so wonderful. I'm actually sort of (my salt-of-the-earth, no-nonsense fundamentalist upbringing is fighting desperately to keep me from saying this) feeling sorry for myself.


You know, most moms have probably been to this place. It's called the Land of Needy Me. Today I suddenly feel most intensely all the choices I make that are strictly for the rest of the family: We go to Capture the Hoops games at the school on Sunday instead of the Buddha's Enlightenment celebration at the temple, I decide to catch up on all that laundry instead of going to yoga class, I make a special dessert for dinner and skip that walk I've been needing to take...those kind of choices. And I never even think twice about it...until today.

Here's a dream: To travel again. To hit the road with my backpack and my passport and head for somewhere high and lofty where I can hike for days, or else somewhere slow and tropical where I can sleep for a $1 a night in a handmade hammock in a hut on some quiet beach. I'd drink fruity drinks and fall into long, fascinating conversations over dinner with other travelers from places like South Africa or the Czech Republic. I'd spend a whole hour just sitting in one place doing nothing but staring at the sky. I'd lie in my hammock on a long afternoon and write haiku in my journal. I'd buy some local jewelry and find a good place to get a back massage.

I know as I write this, that my dream is as close as making some different choices...rearranging my life to make it happen. And honestly, I feel that slowly coming to pass. I can see the whole family sitting soemday soon on that quiet beach, playing in the sand and arguing over where to eat for dinner...or hiking the Annapurna...or sailing the Pacific.

But I am sad. And tired. And I miss myself. Where did I go? I am here...yes,totally and completely here in this beautiful life I've reinvented...immersed in my kids and my man and my home. But I must remind myself...I must allow feed ME a little of the good love from time to time. It's a mama's duty.