Torpid Trifling

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy News

It's a boy!

I got a call from my doctor last night. She was calling to share the good news that all the blood work covered by insurance for women over 35 came back showing a healthy baby. And then she asked if I'd like to know the gender. Not expecting the offer, I said yes, and she said the tests showed a Y chromosome!

The head cold I caught in early October and couldn't shake seems to finally be wearing off. The terrible first trimester nausea has abated, and I can eat normally, for the most part. I woke up one day and realized that after months of aiming simply for survival, I feel ... good?

It's been a rough ride around here for what feels like a very long time (a few months really drags when you're continually sick and exhausted). And suddenly, things feel so much better! I want to sink deep into the happiness of this moment and wrap my arms around the future at the same time.

Thanksgiving is precisely on time this year.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


The leaves have all fallen from the trees. I woke to snow this morning, and was late for my 6am yoga class because I didn't get up in time to brush off the car. It wasn't the first frost of the season, but I still found myself blinking in disbelief.

I'm not sure what I expect. Summer to grace us with a few more days in mid-November? A chance to rake the fall leaves and winter-proof the yard before it's covered in white? That would be reasonable, but no. I want more than that. A reprieve. A pause button in time. A moment to catch up.

Winter's coming so fast, and I'm unprepared.

*   *   *

I'm pregnant.

It was an accident, if it can really be called an accident when it's the third potential accident in the last year. Probably doesn't qualify anymore at that point. But it came as a surprise that Saturday morning in August when the test strip turned immediately pink. And it's still coming as a surprise three months later; I can't seem to wrap my head around it.

Where will the baby sleep? We're short a bedroom. How will I run my business? I'm short-staffed. Who's paying for a maternity leave? I'm short on ideas. And savings.

I'm thrilled to have another baby, but oh, I'm so unprepared.

*   *   *

When I told my mom I was expecting, she said: I thought you had a plan! You were going to see how things went for a year with your business and then decide!

I smiled, but there were tears stepping hard on the heels of my smile, and I shrugged and choked out the only word I could say: Whoops!

She smiled and said: We had a couple of those, too.

I love my mom. She gave us a wonderful childhood, a life full of soft places to land, sweetness, and plenty of space to grow into ourselves. And you know, if asked to describe her, I'd probably never choose the word prepared.

*   *   *

Winter is coming and there's nothing I can do to stop it.

Spring will follow, like it always does. And right around the time Easter arrives, so will my baby.

If the fall leaves get trapped under a blanket of snow, then so be it. If my maternity leave goes unfunded, it won't be the first or the last one to end up that way, I'm sure.

I can only put one foot in front of the other. I'm unprepared for the future, it's true. But I can get through today.

Maybe that's enough.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Series of Unrelated Vignettes

One of the yoga classes I teach is located on a college campus. I don't work for the college, but for a local fitness organization with an on-campus branch. Recently, I walked into my class and discovered another instructor had already begun teaching! Not only was he teaching my class, but his style was bombastic, confrontative and overbearing. He'd yelled at and insulted several students already.

It took some time to get through to him that this was the fitness yoga class, not the college credit yoga class, and that he was in the wrong room. I did so kindly as I could, but he kept interrupting me to rant vaguely about the corruption of modern-day yoga. As he finally began to understand, I could see the embarrassment dawn on his face. He stormed toward the exit in his socks, and I spotted his leather loafers in the corner by the bin of blocks, about to be left behind. I stopped him to hand him his shoes. He thanked me. The moment was deeply uncomfortable.

The man was in his late-60s or early 70s. His head was wrapped in a colorful, printed turban and his tunic and pants were crafted of the same fabric. His skin was bronze and slightly craggy, his posture yoga-regal, his mouth down-turned in the corners in the manner of a man who perpetually frowns. He moved from bombastic to embarrassed before my eyes, shuffling defiantly from the room in saggy yellow socks. I wasn't sure what to make of this character who'd appeared so unexpectedly before my eyes to act out this surprising scene.

It felt as if I'd suddenly walked into a Zadie Smith novel.

* * *

My son would be starting kindergarten tomorrow if we weren't homeschooling. My facebook feed is full of first-day-of-school pics, and people are beginning to ask me questions about curriculum. It ought to be a milestone of some sort, I suppose, but it barely registers most of the time. There is so much else crowding for space. For being such a big and life-changing commitment, would you believe homeschooling is the easiest part of my life, by far? I barely need to give it a thought; the boy is learning deeply and broadly, and the environment is rich with inspiration. I wish the rest of my life were as easy as homeschooling.

* * *

Sometimes I sit on the couch late at night and marvel at my luck, in being able to work for myself, in a field I'm passionate about.

Other times I completely fucking hate working for myself.

Unfortunately, there are more of the latter moments than the former, most recently.

I have put my heart and soul into this business over the last year, and I'm just exhausted. There's no one to share the load, no one to bolster me when I'm beaten down by the endless demands. There's no one to help! Ever!

So, while it's technically a success: my nursery school is officially open, enrollment numbers look great, the kids have fun and get along, I enjoy the company of all the parents, I feel as if I've just dragged myself over the finish line after having completed a marathon and all I can think is: never again, never again.

I'm sure the energy will shift and change. It always does.

But for now, I just want to sleep for a year.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Birthday Boy

My firstborn turned 5 last week. He invited a few friends and some cousins over on Saturday afternoon. My house is a working nursery school, so I didn't plan anything special; I figured the kids could just play. I joked to the other parents that I was simply planning on paying less attention to the kids than I normally do, since I had other adults there to help.

I made a cake in the morning, frosted it, and then the birthday boy fell sound asleep before he could decorate it. So he did it after his guests arrived, squeezing frosting tubes through decorative tips, abstract designs in hunter green and neon orange over chocolate frosting. The other kids, seeing this, wanted a turn and he chose his oldest, dearest friend while they all closed in around him, fascinated. I could tell he didn't want to share the decoration of his birthday cake with the whole kitchen full of kids, just as I could see that the whole kitchen full of kids most assuredly did want to share the decoration of his birthday cake with him.

My husband shopped for the plates, and instead of getting a Happy Birthday-themed plate/cup/napkin combo like I would have, he bought some eco-friendly, plain paper plates the color and texture of an egg carton. I'd been slightly disappointed when first I saw them, along with the plain, white napkins, just home from the grocery store, sitting dully on the dining room table. But all of a sudden I imagined them in my mind, festooned with ribbons of sugary frosting squeezed through decorative tips by kids gathered around a table, and I loved those ugly, non-festive little plates.  

If you want a turn to decorate with frosting, come get your very own plate to decorate! I sang, and the children pivoted and swarmed in my direction, giving the birthday boy his space. I handed out plates, one per child, and then we circled the small table and passed frosting in both directions until the tubes were squeezed empty.

So the party started with impromptu frosting art, and everyone was happy. Then we opened the presents, because why not?

He got a sprinkler with a million little spouts, like a long, plastic caterpillar, each bright leg a squirming, squirting fountain. We dug up bathing suits for all, placed the big, glass bowl of cheese puffs on the back porch next to the tortilla chips, and then -for most of the rest of the afternoon- the children played with mud. They dug in it, and stirred it with sticks, scratched up handfuls and transported it across the yard, threw it through the air and rubbed it on their legs and torsos.

One little girl wore a very pretty flowered blouse (she swore she was supposed to swim in her clothes, and I didn't find the swimsuit in her 'change of clothes' bag until later) and she rubbed handfuls of mud into it with a giggly glee. I thought to correct her, and then silently resolved to simply hand wash the blouse before sending her home.

They ate pizza and cake, and wanted to take their frosting art pieces home. I had no party favors to pass out, but they all requested sandwich bags of dry beans from the sensory table, and so I bagged up beans and sent them home with lots of love and no explanation whatsoever.

After his cousins got on the road to head back to Buffalo, I drove his oldest and most-loved friend home. In the spirit of his birthday, I didn't say a single word while they shrieked with laughter, shouting poop jokes in their loudest voices between fits of hysteria.

It was --I'll have you know-- proclaimed by multiple guests to be "the best party ever".

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I used to watch horror movies with friends (only ever with friends; I tend toward romantic comedies when left to my own devices), and whenever the first person died I would joke: That would be me! First to die!

I never saw myself as the type to survive a zombie apocalypse, a serial killer on the loose, the supernatural dangers of a haunted mansion. I haven't the desire to fight to the death and my first world existence (thank God!) has never demanded it of me.

Some people open their own small businesses and when asked they explain it this way: It just unfolded, very naturally and organically. And every time I wonder: Are they completely full of shit?

Here's my experience of opening a business: I have wrestled something into being that did not exist before. I have reached into the abyss and I have grabbed ahold of the tiniest spark of *something* and I have pulled and pushed and battled it into existence. I've shaped it with my bare hands, made it real and tangible, and still, that wasn't enough! Then I had to make it presentable! I've wrestled it's naked, monstrous body into pretty frocks, combed it's unspeakable hair, washed the dirt and blood from it's impossible face. I've tamed it with a love and patience I didn't know I possessed. And now it's real! It's public! It exists as a thing outside myself! I created something from nothing, and goddammit, it was the hardest thing I've ever done. I am one. tough. bitch.

Next time I watch a horror movie, I'll be the one with the nunchucks hidden in my closet, right next to that head-to-toe leather outfit nobody never imagined I could rock so hard. From now on, I'll be the one still alive at the end.

Friday, November 16, 2012

How To Make Dinner in 33 Easy-ish Steps

  1. Put children #s 2 and 3 down for nap. Set child #1 up in front of laptop open to page full of math games.
  2. Listen to child #2 calling from her crib: No nap! Up now! No nap! Up now!
  3. Remove child #2 from her crib, with promises to play quietly without waking child #3 while Mommy cooks.
  4. Wonder why you are attempting to extract promises from a one year old when you already know for certain she has no intention of keeping them.
  5. Drink afternoon coffee (without which no cooking of dinner shall occur).
  6. Go into kitchen. Dig through fridge. No meat.
  7. Realize meat has not been thawed.
  8. Retrieve from freezer; defrost meat in microwave.
  9. Child #2 will be running in circles -yelling loudly and with great zeal- by this point, while child #3 sleeps next door. Shush her. She won't shush, but it's always worth a shot. (Optimism is important both in life and in the cooking of dinner.)
  10. Continue digging in fridge. Realize there is no spinach.
  11. Scavenge kitchen. Find partially rotting zucchini squash, halfway decent yellow squash, green and yellow peppers only slightly beginning to wrinkle and shrivel.
  12. Good enough. Chop 'em. (Toss rotting parts.)
  13. Heat meat in pan. 
  14. Add veggies, 3 teaspoons of husband-made taco seasoning, half-cup of water.
  15. Dig through cupboards. Realize you are out of black beans.
  16. Continue digging through cupboards until you find a can of refried beans.
  17. Good enough. Add 'em. 
  18. Child #2 will by now have stripped down to a saggy, baggy diaper, and will still be running in circles, yelling: NAYKEE!
  19. Wrestle child into bedroom. Change diaper. Re-clothe.
  20. Attempt to impress upon child the need for quiet.
  21. Futile. Child will grin winningly and yell at maximum volume in response.
  22. Return to kitchen to find mexi-slop burning and sticking to bottom of pan.
  23. Mutter a curse word under your breath. Scrape mexi-slop from bottom of pan (but not too much--best to leave bottom layer of burned mexi-slop as a further-burn-barrier; this has been learned from experience). 
  24. Reduce heat, and cover.
  25. Child #2 will -of course- hear the muttered curse word, and begin yelling it loudly while running in circles.
  26. Child #3 will wake up.
  27. Go get child #3 from crib; change diaper.
  28. Child #1 -attracted to the sounds of chaos- will close laptop and race to join children #s 2 and 3.
  29. They will run in circles, yelling loudly (at least the muttered curse has been forgotten)(recall the importance of optimism), until child #3 is retrieved by his mother, arriving to pick him up after work.
  30. Husband will arrive home from work. He has 2 important steps to complete.
  31. Make homemade guacamole to transform this dinner from mexi-slop to mexi-slop with delicious guacamole on top.
  32. The final step is of utmost importance to the success of both the dinner, and the evening.
  33. Send husband to store for beer.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Want to Tell the Truth When I Grow Up

Studying early childhood education as an undergrad, I attended a conference where the following question was posed.
What do you say to parents or administrators who ask what you're doing to "prepare young children for school"?
 When I heard the answer the speaker gave, I gasped, and knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I like to say: If you knew that, in a year or so from now, there would be a famine across the entire earth, and there wouldn't be enough to eat ...
... would you start starving yourself now?
I want to be someone who can say things like this out loud, in a professional setting. Getting paid for it will just be the icing on the cake.