Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dust settled, now wiping it off.

Clearing throat. Well, well, it's been awhile. We're in Iowa and my new friend Jennifer's blog has inspired me to get back to it. To recording this time in our lives. It's hard, it's hopeful, and mostly it's busy. Jonathan's in the Writer's Workshop, I've started my private practice and Eleanor is spending three, sometimes four, days a week with Louise (a lovely caregiver) and five other little ones. We're all transitioning, moving into the unknown and taking it as it comes.

I'll be honest. I never expected to end up in Iowa. It never occurred to me, not at all, never. Then Jonathan was applying to Writing programs (just now I got off of the phone with him and he was telling me all about his story that "went-up" and was work-shopped today and some kind of politics involved) and Iowa is one of the, if not the best, depending on who you ask. And even though I know more about the inception of the program I'm still confused as to why it happened or exists in Iowa. Now I'm sure native Iowans can tell me so many reasons to the query "Why Iowa?", and Iowa City is a good enough place. It's been kind to me and to my family (well other than the fact that we've had three bikes stolen by drunkards), but I'm struggling with missing Athens these days. And when I compare Athens to Iowa City there is a palpable emptiness.

Athens, Georgia was my first real home. It was more of a home to me than my childhood home, which was more my mom and step-dad's home. It was way more of a home than any home I had in college, or even after that. Once I tried really hard to make a home in Los Angeles and my good friend Judy told me, "you're playing house". She was right. I "played" a lot in LA, and LA was no home, not for me. I loved my community in Fairbanks, Alaska, but still, too far and too damn cold to be a home for me for long. So after meeting and falling in love with Jonathan, I went back with him to Georgia.

He always said that the South gets into your pores and it sure did mine. I fell in love with the South, for reasons that words only flirt with. For the honey-soaked air that hangs in early June, for the florid Spring (which is actually March and April in the South), for the complexity of social dynamics, the hanging on to agrarian time, the cabin in the woods where our baby was born, where we were married, where we burned into the night. For our good friends and their earthiness, their anchors, and idiosynchrocies. It's the first place that I've ever thought of returning to. And those thoughts are often and luxurious these days. While living in Athens many people said that Athens has a way of pulling people back in. At the time I thought of that as some sort of defect, like a developmental paralysis or an old habit. These days I see it as a wide net, cast out time and time again, bringing it's people home. Catch me I say.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

randy gratitude

is there anything better than being a super mama? yes. having it spelled out in easy cheese on a cast iron skillet. i love cast iron. i do not like easy cheese, never have. i was mildly intrigued by it in fourth grade. i might have even tasted it, but i've always had refined taste buds and so i'm sure if i did i made a sour face (the kind of face i make when i want eleanor to know that i'm not down with what she is doing or about to do, which by the way rarely works, it usually makes her laugh.)

but we were gifted a bottle of easy cheese (as a nostalgic joke really) about a month ago when we moved into a new place (our fourth in athens). it was gifted by the friend whose home was our first place and was almost our fourth place. he gave us lots of other lovely treats too. ben and jerry's ice cream, whole wheat pasta, yummy sauces and salsas. he's been good to us and continues to be.

he gave us a grill when we first got pregnant so that i could eat healthy meats with ease. he rented us a uhaul to move from our second to third place. he brought a thirty pound lasagna and $300 bottle of red wine over two days after our daughter was born. he adjusted me during labor (as he is a skilled chiropractor). his heart is full and open and he shares it readily. i will miss him when we go. i'd like to get him a super mama gift.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

inspired by my husband and lisel mueller

1)I was born in a windy city, in a hospital named after the patron saint of animals.

2)In this year women fought to free their bodies from government control. Bob Marley released Exodus. I benefit from both.

3)My home is soft with my sweet smelling mother. My mother's sisters rush around me whispering female myths in sandlewood voices.

4)My spirited father leaves and takes refuge in his brother. Each week's end makes my stomach hurt, but I do not know why.

5)I am caught between playing and knowing. I dream of my family drowning.

6)The mother takes another man into the home, he smells different and behaves different. The daughters long for the father, but their longing is lost in adult words.

7)My aunts emerge and speak of bleeding and woman and nakedness. They are red and glowing and I am afraid.

8)I hide under books and get lost in long school hallways. The other adolescents speak in tongues I do not know. I share my markings and feel hot and ashamed.

9)I am free in corn fields. Black crows fly above and I follow.

10)I fall over and over again in love with literature and poetry and men and ideas. My world explodes and I am the center.

11)I follow the moon across the ocean and meet women clad in colorful saris. We move and dance. Words are unnecessary.

12)I get lost in California.

13)I am found in Alaska.

14)In Colorado I meet him and all my knowing is undone. I go the way I have not gone and colors pour out of my mouth.

15)He holds me in southern light.

16)We make a life together. It is hot. He makes art out of everything. My body is joyful and resting.

17)We weave another life into ours. We walk in a circle through the woods. Our dog sniffs out animal life and leads us to water.

18)Her mystery unfolds in our bedroom. It is the beginning of June. She bursts into being.

19)The lines on our face grow deeper. We begin to notice young people.

20)There are nine possible incarnations. We are waiting for Fortuna to spin her wheel.


She grew inside of me for nine months and now she sits on my shoulders. She looks good there with her eyes open and intense, as if she knows that she is part of a long lineage of powerful women. She's a clan leader, no doubt.

We've been packing up the things in our home, the home that she was born in. I want her to know this place, this home and carry it with her, whereever she goes. The sea green room where she made her mark, the silver oak trees, changing leaves, speckled fawns, bobcat wandering, her owl brethren; I want to pack up those images and weave them in her hair, adorn her with them. Mostly I want her to know that she can always return to that soft, calm knowing that everything is good, that she is cared for, loved and treasured.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tres Generaciones

There are three generations standing on this frozen lake. My father, his daughters and our two daughters. We came together last weekend at my father's home on Lake Minnetonka for no other reason than to spend time together. It was lovely. My sister's daughters are radiant and loving (just like her). At one point over the weekend I looked out and saw my husband, my sister, her daughters, her husband, my father, my step-mother and my daughter cirlcing around the room...playing, laughing, talking. One big constellation of family. It made me cry.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Yoga Life

When I was nine years old I went to visit my aunts Susan and Margie. They lived in Madison, Wisconsin. I don't know how Madison is anymore, but at the time it was full of hippies, progressive politics and amazing farmer's markets, street artists and musicians. That trip was a number of "firsts" for me. The first time I ever had my hair French braided, my first taste of real apple cider from a street vendor, the first time I ever smelled Indian incense and my first introduction to yoga. Both of my aunts were avid practitioners and I remember waking up early to find my aunt Susan doing sun salutations in a candle lit room. She looked like a goddess. That image has stayed with me and it most likely propelled me 8 years later to begin practicing yoga myself.

In between that time and when I took my first yoga class at the University of Illinois, I was, like so many children/late adolescents today, fairly disembodied. With little confidence, the patriarchy pushing "ideal body images" my way, a general sense of Catholic guilt and a less than satisfactory peer group, I didn't spend much time cultivating my connection with my body. I spent even less time trusting my own personal sense of magick and intuition. I tried to conform to the suburban masses, but something inside of me fought it hard. I am grateful for this part of myself.

At this first yoga class, in 1993, I remember feeling many strange sensations in my body. It was overwhelming, emotional and hard. I wasn't too flexible and I also didn't know how to breathe properly. Although there were many obstacles I kept coming back. First, just once a week. Then, two years later I practiced every morning. Upon completing my BA my aunt Susan and I went on a bike tour in southern Spain and Portugal. We woke every morning with the sunrise and practiced, rode our bikes all day long and practiced a little more before bed, before talking long into the night.

I traveled to India, more yoga. When I came back into the country I moved to Los Angeles where yoga was the one aspect of my life that was healthy and sane. It kept me grounded in a place and culture that I was fundamentally at odds with. I am pretty sure it was the wisdom and insight I gained through my practice that eventually inspired me to move to Alaska. I lived in Fairbanks with the most wonderful community of people and yogis. These were yogis in the true sense of the word, each of their life paths was an authentic practice of presence and awakening. They were activists, botanists, mothers, teachers, researchers, naturalists and each one of them lived with integrity and heart. While living and learning with this community I found that yoga was a practice that kept me aligned with my values, my sense of gratitude and devotion as well as humility. It also reminded me that service is the most important aspect of a yogic life.

I traveled to Massachusetts to complete my first formal yoga teacher training. I had been teaching already but wanted to immerse myself in a month of study with other practitioners. It was a dramatic experience for me and at the end I knew that I wanted to keep living a life of social service. I moved to Boulder, CO to complete a degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy, so that I might have a private practice where I could blend my life's work together to assist others. While in Boulder I continued to practice all aspects of the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga. I studied with amazing teachers, completed another teacher training and although it had been an incredibly long journey I felt completely embodied. This sense of embodiment drew good things my way. I trusted myself, my intuition, my erotic longings and decided to move to Athens with the man who is now my husband.

My husband and I had a baby. We had her with Ahimsa (the yogic principle of non-violence)leading the way. We had her at home and I used everything I ever learned from yoga to bring her into the world. And to date, motherhood has been the most REAL yoga practice I have ever engaged in. This is the real path: being a good mother, a present mother, a mother that "lets go" of ego and agenda...being a good wife, a loving and respectful wife, a wife that lets go of her ego and agenda. This is it. This is yoga.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Loss of Athens

I live in Athens, Ga. Which among the many places I've lived (Fairbanks, Venice, Boulder, Champaign, Chicago, Dharamsala and Downers Grove)is a good place. It's good because it has a rich history (although that history is being wiped out by the Atlantification i.e.)gentrification of small southern towns). I care about this history being wiped out. Out of all the places I've lived I care most about what is happening to Athens (not that this isn't happening in other places, because it is) but because I get the sense that it snuck up on its citizens and it's being orchestrated through late adolescents who don't know any better (but they should).

This generation of late adolescents my mother recently said are the generation that, "get a medal for showing up." They are entitled, self-focussed (not on issues, but shoes, ipods, and texting) and appear to be pretty checked out (many of these adolescents i.e.) UGA college students, walk out in front of traffic because they are looking down at the aforementioned cell phones and UGG boots.) Now, I understand that college-time is about self-exploration, self-centeredness to some regard and hopefully a commitment to one's personal ideologies. I just can't figure out why all these kids seems so empty. I don't get a sense that they care about much of anything. They're not politically engaged, there's not much philanthropy happening, they don't organize. These are all things that I did as a college student (still do) and my friends as well. And it's not like I grew up in the 60s. So what gives? And mainly what's going to happen when these kids are leading the nation?

I feel equally bad for the folks that these kids are pushing out of Athens (myself included) as I do for the kids themselves. This consumer-based, pop culture is turning some of the most fundamental times in a person's life into a solopsistic hell and they're buying it hook line and sinker. There's no sense of urgency at all that an entire generation is being raised on Fox News and Brittany Spears tabloids. I guess that's what you get when a nation spends half of it's federal budget on the military. It makes me sad and now I'm getting too global.

I'm most sad about the fact that due to a lack of jobs, good higher education opportunities and a basic sense of depression about Athens, we are going to be leaving soon...soon like in the next several months. And this is the place that our daughter was born, and my husband grew up. And damn it I wish something could convince us to stay.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Daughter on the Rampage

It's happened, and she's only seven months old. We knew from the get go that Eleanor was precocious, but we didn't think she'd leave us so soon. And we certainly didn't predict that it would be to join a Flock of Seagulls cover band. But here it is, living proof, she's gone and done it. Come back baby.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bienvenido 2008

On our hike to the shoals yesterday I noticed that our old friends - the triumvarate of goats - were back. Since goats, in many traditions,symbolize fertility, vitality and ceaseless energy I took this as a good sign. These are things that I welcome back into my life with the ushering in of the luz and new year.

Well actually, I'll add an andendum to this. I welcome fertility as in creative fertility, fertility to grow ideas, community, conversation and other non-baby types of fertility. Me and the mister aren't sure if we want to have another child. We certainly know not now, we said we'd check back with one another on that in three or so years. So yes to fertility, no to pregnancy. Yes to the longer days, the hints of daffodils in our lawn. Yes to playfully frolicking in the woods. Yes to all nine applications to MFA programs begin submitted. Yes to cooking up some fun. Yes to the three goats. Yes to Ella, Jonathan and Stella. And yes, yes, yes, to newness in the new year.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The babe is asleep

Today was many days in one. It was the day that we (after a year of living at 2389) finally made it to the river. We played on the shoals. We scrambled through briar patches and muddy slopes to get there. We did this all with my daughter on my back.

Today was also the day that we felt the little one's first tooth bud (finally...hallelujah!) Maybe we'll finally get to meet that tyrannical piece of enamel and calcium responsible for making our daughter growl at god for the agony of teething.

It was a good day. It was, at times, a hard day, as parenting days are meant to be sometimes. I say meant because I believe it's the first year of parenting that gets you in to shape to be a good parent for the rest of your wee one's life. It's this first you that you, "get your head out of your asshole" as my husband has said, that your ego is annihilated, that you let someone else become the center of your universe. It is a promising year (at seven months I feel this)and it is exhausting.

Like most peak experiences it rips the bottom out of your comfortable, habitual life and leaves you falling and falling (sometimes flailing, sometimes laughing, sometimes fearful, but most times trusting that the ground is there somewhere). It also makes you appreciate the simple things; bike rides, elevator flirtation, and a glass of red wine at the end of the day.