No, we are totally clean and orderly and in charge of our own destinies and….
Every marriage has its recurring discordances.
The biggest battle royale to find its way into our happy union takes place in our bed.
And no, it’s probably not what your thinking.
I like to cuddle. And most mornings after Riley goes to work, the girls and I cuddle and read books and watch bad Disney movies in my bed until about 8 o’clock. And yeah, sometimes the little munchkins get hungry while we lay around talking about fairies and the tragedy that is the Disney envisioned Pocahontas. What am I supposed to do? NOT feed them crackers and granola bars and goldfish in my bed?
After all the snack eating and maybe a pillow fight or two, we move on with our day. But, sometimes, even after the most vigorous “I’ll just brush my hand across the bed once or twice to clean up the mess”, a few crumbs of crackers or granola bars or goldfish remain. But they are so tiny and basically nothing more than a theory of crumbs and it seems like the only way to truly eradicate them is to vacuum the bed and I mean, heavens, who has the time for that? And then I am like, Hmmmm. Maybe making the bed OVER them, the said crumblettes will somehow make them disappear? So I do and then go on with the day.
And then the night comes.
Generally the conversation goes something like this:
Riley, thrashing and pushing the blankets back up off of him: You guys ate in bed again, didn’t you.
Riley: I mean seriously, did you just crush a box of saltines and then pour the contents onto my side of the bed? This is ridiculous. It feels like I am sleeping on jagged sand.
Riley: Let’s not have them eat in our bed anymore.
And then two days later we do it all over again.
Last week, we stayed up late working and crawled into bed as tired as either of us have ever been.
Me: I feel bad. Before you even say anything. We totally ate in bed today. And I’m not sure that I got it all vacuumed out of the sheets. Mainly because I didn’t vacuum.
Riley, laughing: It’s okay. I’ve succrumbed.
Guys! Get it? SucCRUMBed? I just about died laughing. And then didn’t let the girls eat in bed for five whole days.
Because that’s love.
Cowboys cook in cast iron. (image courtesy of getty images)
My dad only cooked with cast iron.
Skillets big enough to bake all the cornbread you would need for the huge batch of red chile stew bubbling away in the dutch oven. Cast iron is a wonderful cooking tool. Long lasting, even heating and temperature holding. They also require great care. You can’t just throw a cast iron skillet into the dishwasher. It needs to be softly and lightly soaped by hand. And then after all the caramelized bits of your meal have been sloughed away, you need to put the cast iron back on the fire and let it heat while you rub oil onto its surface as a means to season and soften it for the next use.
When we cleaned up after dinner, my dad always took the cast irons as his chore. As a child and then as an adult, I loved to watch him ready them for the next meal. It was a ritual that seemed to me nearly as sacred as anything else I had seen on this earth. When he rubbed the oil across the inside of each pan, I felt that they were being consecrated and prepared for the next time they would fill the measure of their creation. Some of the pieces of cast iron were new and some had traveled with his dad in the forties as he prospected and lived in the deserts of the American South West. All were precious.
We’ve been cooking in the skillets and dutch ovens in the weeks since Dad’s death. A couple of days ago, I noticed that one hadn’t been oiled and fired. On my way out of the kitchen, I thought it could be done later. A few steps out of the door and I turned back around. With tears on my cheeks and an ache that threatened to pierce, I dipped a cloth in oil and turned up the fire. Consecration, it seems, must be picked up and carried along.
That night on the way home, Zuzu cleared her throat in the backseat.
“Mom, where is heaven?”
“That is a good question, sweetheart. You know, Heaven is very close. We just can’t see it. You know how at night we can’t see the sun, but we know it is there? It just isn’t time for us to see it? That is like heaven. It is there as surely as the sun, it just isn’t time for us to see it.”
“Does that make it more clear, Zuzupie?”
“Not as clear as I hoped.”
And then she looked out the window and I looked in my heart and couldn’t find anything else to give her.
Stimulate those flabby muscles!
Award show season is pretty numbingly predictable.
Look at the red carpet full of starlets wearing both on trend color and classic black! Is Brad Pitt’s hair shorter or longer than before? Either way, look at it! Oh my gosh, did Jennifer Lawrence say/do/telepathically communicate something refreshingly adorable? Of course, she did!
And then, always, the hordes of “pro-woman” bloggers, commentators and bystanders that feel like it is their god-given right to communicate their indignation over the chosen aging techniques of any woman over forty. This year people have been screaming about baby boomer, Goldie Hawn and 81 year old (no, being an octogenarian does not protect you from the pretty police), Kim Novak. (Don’t even get me started on Ellen’s incredibly cruel dig at Liza Minelli.)
This Huffington Post piece titled, Goldie, We Love You Just The Way You Were, chronicles some of the outrage,
“The Internet — including our Facebook fans — has spoken. And the overwhelming consensus is that Goldie Hawn and Kim Novak were more beautiful to us before what many believe to be physical “enhancements.”
They then went on to ask their Facebook fans the hard hitting question,
“So should some celebs be thinking about suing their plastic surgeons? What do you think? How much is TOO much?”
And then there was this gem,
“It’s sad that these women have self-images like this. If they had just aged gracefully, naturally, how much more beautiful they would be.”
Yes, how dare they not be beautiful.
Getty was happy to provide a side by side of a 30 year old Kim and an 81 year old Kim.
According to most, Goldie wasn’t golden.
“Experts” and arm-chair twitterers alike opined that they had been so beautiful when they were young. Why hadn’t they managed to age gracefully like Meryl Streep? (Who, while she may not have had any extreme surgeries has had the benefit of a life lived with access to trainers, healthy food, expensive skin care, hair stylists and everything else that makes one age “gracefully” instead of realistically.) How could they have let us all down by being less than we expected them to be? Oh, the horror!
Color me confused. This seems like the same old dirty thing dressed up in glossy politically correct packaging.
Shouldn’t we be more interested in the lives these women have led? That Kim Novak worked with Hitchcock, battled bipolar disorder, survived cancer and at 81 has put more years on this earth than most of the human race? How about Goldie Hawn’s successful family life, body of work and her charitable work on behalf of children? Instead we say that their faces look like leather, we cower in at the size of their lips, we swear up and down that WE will do better. How the hell is any of this any of OUR business? Do these righteously indignant have any idea how inconsistent they sound?
“As a woman, you are more than your looks. More than youth or age. More than the social expectations placed upon you. Unless of course, your choices violate what I consider appropriate for your current stage in life. Unless I think you have betrayed the beauty I think your youth once held. Unless you violate the social expectations I have deemed sacred. Of course, if you do anything against any of those things, I will hold you up as an example of everything that is wrong with the feminine. I will post your picture across twitter and facebook and news outlet as a warning to all the other women that follow your way.”
And then, women SHARE that betrayal on FB as if it is empowering! As if it is something of substance!
It boggles the mind.
Here’s a thought. What if we, you know, didn’t do that? What if we just loved women no matter their age, background or number of botox injections? What if we stopped acting like a bunch of high schoolers and finally – FINALLY – got around to the substance of womanhood. What if we asked Kim Novak how she survived her considerable trials, the sexism of early (and modern) Hollywood and still finds the strength to sparkle at 81? What if we were interested in the things that come out of Goldie Hawn’s mouth rather than speculating about the amount of fat that fills the lips that frame it? And what if – WHAT IF – we decided that we are not the arbiters of the incredibly complex concept of the definition of true beauty?
Would that be so bleeping hard?
I wrote this last year. Reading through it today, on my 29th birthday, I realize it is still the prayer I hold close to my heart. Thanks for spending the past year with me. Here’s to a few more.
Yesterday, I sat on the back porch of my in law’s house as the day began to end. The girls played under a colorful sky for the first time in months. It was all blues and orange and streaks of white. They leaped under the canopy of clouds, their limbs bared and their cheeks red. My daughters with their strong growing legs and arms that reach for things I can’t see. They are beautiful. When I am very lucky, I can see myself in their unbrushed hair and grass stained feet. Only a few years separate them from me, I am sister as nearly as I am mother. And the strength, the potential, the bright light I see for them is just as much mine as it is theirs. We are none of us too old to move forward or too young to handle the big things of this life.
Today, I turn twenty-eight. An age without much attached to it, a lost year between the beginning of twenty five and relative youth of thirty. It seems it shouldn’t be a year starting with so much light and hurt. But as I watched my little girls play, one golden moment at a time, I realized that life’s profound nature needs to stop surprising me. They danced under the setting day and I felt that this life will not become easier or more expected. And I knew that I wouldn’t wish for it to be different. I want the lessons at the end of each difficult road. They are what I have come to claim as my own. If I can just have enough moments of light in the fading sun, I will be sustained when I cannot see in the dark.
And so for this year, I wish for things I have not before. For the courage to be shaped into the person I was born to become. For enough years to give me lines on my face and hands. For dirt under my nails and the sweat of the blessing of hard work. For inspiration and stories and ink filled pages. For touch and smell and taste. For late nights spent in Riley’s arms. For tears with meaning and an ache that drives me home. For the ability to live the hard times well. And my girls, for them I wish even the briefest understanding of what we have here together and what we have here forever. Just a flash of the place where this moment touches eternity. If I can help them see that, then they will be able to see everything.
Today, I turn twenty-eight. And I am uncertain and the world is big and my heart feels new. But I have my husband and my daughters. I have my God and my faith. I have my passion and my path.
Then, there is joy. I do not have to wish for joy. It already belongs to me.
And for that I am grateful.
Avila Morning by Diego Rivera
The last two days were hard. I’d lost sleep and breath and a vision of the life that lies beyond this moment.
I imagine I will have more days that seem without a promise of tomorrow. But this morning, after a night of rest, I can take in the morning’s light.
It’s an amazing thing, the 24 hour cycle that tells the time of our lives. Each one that passes, a symbolic proof of the nature of mortal and immortal existence. A bright morning followed by the work of midday and then the rest of evening. Nothing could look more like the great span of our lives than the single days that make them up. And then night comes and buries us in it’s black. We sleep because we must, because continued existence demands it. We are taken out of ourselves in the long night, in our sleep, in our surrender to necessity.
And then, inevitably and directed by the same law of being that made us sleep, we are woken up. And the sun that greets us shines as if there never was a night. Living life and death and resurrection every day as if it is a matter of course.
Because it is a matter of course.