December 19, 2009

NOLA

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Today in the playground…Sir – in the middle of it all exclaiming and proclaiming to everyone and no one in particular.
A voice loud and deep – from his gut – very sure – with utter confidence and belief in what he was saying – though no one will know what that was.
And I stood there hovering wanting to give him free rein to tear into the world around him/wanting to shout and proclaim alongside him that he is true and he is right but instead my limbs flailed desperately/running here and there behind his sure heavy steps….disaster at every uneven crack of pavement/terror at every semi pointed stick
for me.
Wild wide wonder
for him.
Ah my son – soon even my limbs won’t be enough to hold you in and free you will be….beautifully and terribly free

December 17, 2009

NOLA

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Third day of rain.
Sir and I have many moments where we just stare at each other.
I wonder what he’s thinking.
I wonder if he wonders what I’m thinking.
Hide and seek becomes more and more fun as the months roll on.
Sir’s feet seem completely unrelated to the small soft slips of skin I used to hold through the night several months ago.
Surely the cat has hatched a plan.
When in doubt, eat the second coconut fruit bar.
Dora the Explorer only rhymes if you say in with a New Yawk accent.
Doraw the Exploraw.
In any case, while repetition is good for small people it tests big people’s sanity.
In any case, while repetition is good for small people it tests big people’s sanity.
In any case, while repetition is good for small people it tests big people’s sanity.

Being in the company of a one year old all day…memories stir and suddenly I realize….it wasn’t really right for me to be in the bar when I was five was it….

“One fish, two fish”, is brilliant in it’s nonsensity.

Am I really 34?

Is this sleeping child really mine?

Time for tea.

Good night.

December 10, 2009

NOLA

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A quick post while Sir sleeps.

It occurred to me the other day that modesty could possibly be luxurious. As in it is a luxury that is indulged and those who have not cannot indulge in it. What do I mean? Well, here’s where I embarrass myself.

While watching Chef Academy or was it Real Housewives of Atlanta…?…anyhow, (note my flushing cheeks) while watching one of those shows and multi-tasking house chores…Lazaro woke up with a howl. After rushing in and soothing tears and installing my 22lb lovely in his highchair for lunch….a show called Say Yes to the Dress came on. A terrible show concerning wedding gowns and wedding gown consultants which just happens to take place not far from where I used to work as a barista in midtown. So I guess I could say nostalgia kicked in???

Anyhow on this particular episode, Michelle Duggar, the woman from 18 Kids and Counting or 19 or something, was renewing her wedding vows with her husband and needed a dress. So, the TLC channel decided to join two of their shows and send Mrs. Duggar to the Yes to Dress shop.

After the 18 or 19 kids and the husband piled into the showing room, Michelle was asked what type of dress she was looking for. She repeatedly mentioned the necessity for a dress that was both modern but most importantly modest. Also when she was presented with choices to try on she politely asked the consultant to wait outside the dressing room while she undressed and stepped into the dress, saying she would like help only at the end when she was properly covered. She explained that she was much too modest to disrobe in front of the consultant.

So while the question that popped into my head does not concern Michelle Duggar or her individual modesty (though my little brain does loops and loops around the 19 births !!) she was the catalyst.

Modesty, in this instance, meant more time spent or wasted, depending on your point of view, dressing and undressing and all for the sake of blocking unwanted eyes on the body. Time, as we all know in our society, equates with money…or so they have us believe.

So if modesty takes more time – is it then a luxury?

I then began to think of situations where modesty is thrown out of the window. Extreme emergencies like fires may prompt someone to exit his or her home in sleepwear or less. Military forces all over the world, I have heard though I do not know from experience, eradicate privacy, modesty, and individuality in order to create a beehive of clockwork like drones. ( I do mean that in the best sense possible) Offices have done away with walls and implemented cubicles and in some instances not even cubicles. Of course, this saves money and space but there is also something about the lack of ability to hide, to always be on in a way, to always be in the public eye. More clothes to cover the skin means more fabric and more cost….And then there is the Easy Pickins dressing room.

I know Easy Pickins seems to find its way into my posts lately but so be it. In West New York, NJ, on the fabled Bergenline Avenue, there is/was? an Easy Pickins store. And in that store the dressing room was communal- meaning there were no individual stalls or rooms- just one large carpeted room with a ceiling to floor mirror covering the entirety of one wall. The women would all pile in with their dresses and sweaters and pants to try on. I always felt it was a bit of a cattle room. Clothes strewn everywhere, dingy bras and worn panties and c-sections scar and cellulite all with no choice but to be on display under one long flourescent bulb and one sour looking dressing room guard. It was a bit humiliating but there was no choice, no option for modesty.

Fast forward to 2006 and I found myself in the Anthropologie dressing room in Edgewater, NJ. Here the dressing rooms are a sumptuous affair. Your name is written on the small chalkboard outside your door. The lighting is soft, the air is scented with peonies or irises or baltic amber or whatever retro chic fragrance is popular now. Inside your room you find a cushioned bench and no dust bunnies and some more of the soft soft lighting that gallantly smooths out your flaws.

I know this all does not relate strictly to modesty but still the question arose….is modesty a luxury? What do you think?

Alas….the Lazaro has awoken and my musings get shelved for another day.

On another note tonight we get to go to Christmas in the Oaks! Yay!

November 23, 2009

NOLA

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It’s not that I don’t believe in education.
I do.
As a girl that grew up in a low income, immigrant, working class neighborhood I attest that education helped me to step out of the bounds of the circumscribed world that lay at my feet. All around me I saw factory workers and welfare recipients. I saw people with a little bit of education puff up and bully those with none. I saw ladies take 6 or 8 month certificate programs, run out to EJ Roberts, buy “office” wear and proceed to cop an attitude with anyone that had the misfortune to find themselves needing to “aks” them a question; their ignorance worn as thick and as proudly as their Wet N Wild makeup. My role models, as far as what I saw around me, were either completely lacking in true intelligence or were so brow beaten and weary from what life had doled out to them that they were working zombies.
To make it big would have been to land a “cushy” town hall job. In West New York there was no room for things such as painting, poetry, or sculpture. Right across the river from one of the most diversified cities in the world, an average West New Yorker would have been hard pressed to tell you the difference between Pakistani and Hindu, Croatian and Russian, Senegalese and Ghanan – nor would they have cared.

So the fact that I can sit here and talk of my love of languages and cultures and peoples somehow must attest to some form of education I must have received somewhere. And yet I don’t mean that which I received in school. Because I know with 100% certainty that it was not the Hudson County Board of Education or their programs or curriculums that made me devour books (with the exception of one much loved Mr. Sullivan – 7th grade reading teacher), want to travel, try to learn new languages, etc., etc. Which brings me to my main point.
The farce that is education and in particular – higher education.
I sit here now. 34. And for all the steps I took away from that world of West New York, I ironically find myself a perfect West New York statistic. I am Hispanic. Unmarried with a child. Unemployed. And my child is on the state’s insurance. Hmmmm. At this rate all I need are Food Stamp benefits and a section eight housing voucher.
How did this happen?
Here’s the punchline – the part that should have stopped the above from happening.
I hold a high school diploma, a Bachelor’s degree in Literature, and a Master’s degree in Writing (which I’m still paying for).
Nice.
Want another laugh?
My faux little sister opted not to pursue the starry lofty world of higher education instead relegating herself to the lowly world of cutting and shaving dogs. There was much hemming and hawing about it as many around her feared for her future.
Today?
She is in hot demand and always has a job that not only pays well but allows her to rake in tips as well. Fat tips.
While we’re at it…
The father of my child who holds a GED certificate has, at this moment, the highest earning potential in the household…
Now I know this is not all cut and dry. I could have applied myself more. I could have pursued different venues related to my “field”. I could have done many things for my present outcome to not be so and I accept that and yet…
Yet I still feel that a dream of easy street after attaining the fabled degree is being propagated. I saw it all the time when I taught adults returning to school. There they were – 20 or so women and men – single mothers, single fathers, ex-convicts, ex-junkies, the working poor….not all were committed. Some were there because they had to be. But those that were committed had bright blinking stars in their eyes. After I get my degree….would be a prefacing line to countless dreams and aspirations many of which sadly, were completely unattainable. But there it was – the idea that attaining this vague four year degree would pave the road to higher and mightier successes. And would it? I would bet the much needed money I don’t have that it would not. Though that was not what the administrative side would tell them in their many speeches and pep talks.
So what, some might say. It’s all relative. Success to an ex-junkie is different than to a suburban teen. Perhaps, I say. But then there were things that could not be ignored. Like 4th year students of mine still unable to write a simple 5 paragraph essay. Like the administrators telling me to simply “work with them” code for just pass them. Like people graduating and still not being able to differentiate between there, their, they’re. And then I thought……then Sharon will go to an office in mid-town and apply for a job and then she will be crushed and what of her degree then?
And the more painful question…..is there an educator out there thinking the same of me? Was my education a sad and painful farce to someone else?

Somehow, I suspect at times it was.

And so tonight for this moment I say Poo [I'm a mom now ;) ] to higher education and attest that the most I learned came from the books I checked out on my own time, the people I bothered to meet and question, the life I lived beyond the bounds of the schoolyard or campus and most importantly the quality instilled in me by my father who did not finish grade school – to listen and listen and listen….

And listening, my friends, though sometimes hard, is free.

November 21, 2009

NOLA

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Dear Diary,

Awkward body – check
Waves of hormones – check
Self doubt – check
Self consciousness – check
Angst – check
Crippling uncertainty – check

It seems as if I have all the makings of a bonafide puberty induced crisis – except – I’m 34 not 14.

More than just a mid-life crisis. This is a maternal mid-life crisis and it seeps into all aspects of the concrete life I used to have.

Ah the concretes! I concretely drank. I concretely danced. I concretely wandered the streets of New York aimlessly seeking gelato one night, brooches another, spice vendors another…
My twenties were one giant scavenger hunt set in New York City where I meandered from one adventure to the next.

But now.

Now I find myself a mother when I never thought I wanted to be one. I am ten years older. No longer qualifying for Hello Kitty accessories and yet not really feeling like entering the world of Chico’s permanently. I have a small person attached to my boob for whom I desperately try to clean up my potty mouth.

I attend storytime, read developmental books by doctors’ whose pictures I would have made fun of two years ago and hunt down new playgrounds to crash.

But all the while I feel like someone will tap me on the shoulder soon and say “Hey! What are you doing with that baby? Put him down and scram!”

What persona to adopt now that I am mother? I feel a farce as I smile sweetly at the librarian. I cringe in the doctor’s waiting room feeling oddly out. I slink around the other moms at the playground hoping they’ll talk to me/hoping they won’t talk to me. I wonder if mini dresses are now on a don’t list for me.

Of course, I only have to look to US Weekly to feel a little relieved and slightly disgusted. After all, I unwittingly ended up participating in what seems to be the new baby boom of the 21st century or is it 22nd? There is Angelina, Halle, Nicole, Heidi, Salma, etc., etc. There is the OctoMom and Kate and 8 minus Jon. There are the Duggers and those people from Table for Ten or is it Twelve…? The babies and their mothers are everywhere; Young, old, single, married, divorced, Hispanic, Black, White, Asian, famous, tattooed, so on and so forth.

So why do I feel so alienated and out of touch?

Sigh…alas it’s past my bedtime and methinks I feel a blemish cropping up….til next time -

 
End of July
 
Another waft of soft rain pelts my window. It has been a constant drone today – the drumming of the drops on the canopy screens that sit outside the room on the back deck. Though Sir and King and I did manage to take advantage of a mid-afternoon halt. King mowed the lawn and then we three dipped into the community pool – ready to take flight at the first hint of thunder. We splashed in the water for a good 30 mintues before the Asian Tigers descended. Bastards.
 
On a small but valuable tangent…the
OFF powerpad lamps have been purchased and put to the test and so far…they have worked! SC Johnson #14157 Off Powerpad Lamp
I have in cowardly manner put my parents and King out as guinea pigs before putting Sir and me out there. That will be the real test….report pending.
 
The pictures above were taken when the leaves had not yet popped on the trees but the mood and light is much the same today as it was on that day. The same cedar tree sits outside gathering jewels of drops. The same small white cat sits gazing out at the rain. I wonder if she holds any recollection of her first weeks of life in St. Petersburg – the summered city basking in its midnight sun. That seems so very long ago…
 
But now it is night. And we are in the western hemisphere where it is dark. And the tornado warnings are beeping in the other room. And the rain sound makes me want to drink hot tea and curl up with a book or a movie or Rushka or Sir or King  or all of the above.
 
And on that note…..off I go….Twinings Herbal Unwind, some honey, and hopefully some zzzzzzz will follow.
 
FIN

“Not a Day Without a Line”

An old friend once quoted this to me when I was festering in a funk and convinced there was no point in putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

I’ve tried to put it into effect many times with seemingly consistent failed results. Half filled journals both paper and electronic stare dolefully out of boxes or shiver in a hard drive .

In any case-today I attempt to follow my friend’s advice once more in hopes to keep the thoughts flowing and the fingers working.

I find myself in a comtemplative mood today. Friday swooped down on my head and another week has passed as have many weeks passed in the last few years since I left New York. I still feel untethered and adrift despite the addition of many things and persons that would seem to anchor me to ground.

No place has yet really seemed or smelled of home and the wander lust inevitably sets in.

I wonder about my parents who are gearing up to leave after spending just shy of a year here in Tennessee. They pack up their belongings and head south and away to another life much like those fabled geese.

I think about the small routines we created here in Nashville. The stores whose names became familiar to our tongues. The streets we chose to walk. The churches visited. The bread we broke. The blood we spilled.

We are like plants or weeds or vines.

How strange and sad and sweet these tendrils we throw up seeking surface to cling to – these connections and memories and loves we cultivate in certain ground only to displace or be displaced…torn up – our hearts wander in a thousands little pathways – our minds destined to visit and revisit these small moments sometime in the future.

Will my mother stop and remember sweeping this Tennessee porch as she crosses her own courtyard in Colombia?
Will my blind father remember his walks to the lake, remember the geese gaggling about his feet while he sits in a doctor’s waiting room in Barranquilla?
Will I remember the cardinals sitting on the cedar tree some morning in the future far away from here?
Undoubtedly. Undoubtedly we will.

Until then I try to savor the moments as they occur and push the gaping maw of “things to do” at arm’s length.

FIN

Yesterday:

A most beautiful thunderstorm lit up the Nashville sky. Electricity rained down on the Walmart parking lot. A group of women wrapped in headscarves picked through puddles and giggled in another tongue.

This morning:

Woke up at 5am dreaming of lakes

Today:

Sir’s 1st trip to NOLA

My status:

Tired, still having milk issues but happy.

What we hope to find and in the case of Mr. Waterbug – not find:

Sun, heat, flora, good food and some sort of auspicious sign….

I’ve been MIA for the past days and milk is the reason why. Never before have I so much considered my bovine mammilian sisters. I personally don’t have a taste for milk though I can’t say the same of cheese. (goat, sheep, yum)
Nonetheless, these days as I nurse my 8 month old son and step through the many hurdles that breastfeeding can present, my mind often thinks about cows. Dairy cows and their much used udders. Udders and the gallons of milk they bestow. Udders and the many physical problems that these poor udders can encounter. Such as my own.
WARNING
Single male readers with squeamish genes who want to maintain the fantasy land of sexy creamy boobs encased in Victoria’s Secret bras may want to stop reading for today.
I continue.
The name is MASTITIS and it is awful. Medically, it is caused by a clogged milk duct, stress, and improper drainage of the breast in question. In my imagination it was an inauspicious sign of my health, a punishment for trying to stay up into the wee hours of the morning and savor my son’s nightly adieu to the world, perhaps a warning that it’s time to begin to wean him off of me. Images of Willy Wonka’s blueberry girl kept popping (no pun intended) up in my blind spot. See the body is its own entity very many times. And breastfeeding works basically thus: You feed, you make. You feed more. You make more. You feed less. You make less….in theory. The body needs a slight bit of time to process changes in supply and demand. This is how and why you are left with a screaming bundle of baby when said baby is going through a growth spurt. Your body still hasn’t gotten the memo demand is up. And in the case of an 8 month old….the body – my body – perhaps hasn’t gotten the memo that demand is down.
Suddenly my boobs become the 99 cent store. Encasing product that at one time was in hot demand and brought a high asking price but now fill one or two bins in the back – obviously surplus.
So the milk comes in or “lets down”, as those in know say, but there is no baby to take it out. And then hours later the milk lets down again and suddenly my B cup is crowded, swollen, and hard – feeling very much like what I envisioned implants to have felt like in the mid-eighties.
I suppose this could only go on for so long before that coupled with my stress and a clogged milk duct blossomed into MASTITIS.
I write it in capitals because that’s how I see it in my mind.
To make a long story short, after a thousand warm compresses, arnica rubs, warm baths, massages, pumping, and making poor Lazaro nurse off of one breast more than the other -relief was nowhere in sight. In fact the situation was worsening. I felt off, tired, and while not totally feverish, I certainly felt sick. The implant feeling had given way to a nasty, hardened mass underneath my boob. It felt awful to touch. It felt awful to massage. The hardness of the matter seemed abnormal and unhealthy in a persistent sort of way. Though it may sound strange the mass had a personality and it was malicious. Oh yes and did I mention it was painful?
Enter…the doctor.
Of course, I have no insurance so this trip to the doctor involved much calling and hunting and finger wringing and calculators. But I found one. And his 15 mintue diagnosis involved much face wrinkling and mouth screwing and bitten lip but in the end he wrote a script for antibiotics. One that is “safe” for taking while breastfeeding. Not that having a doctor who is probably your age or younger wrinkling his face or screwing up his mouth or biting his lip and then telling you he usually does not deal with PostNatal or OB/GYN made me feel any better….but at least he wrote me a script.
And there you have it. Though I wanted desperately to avoid taking anything -in the end I did and am now much better for it. The nasty lump is gone. We went to New Orleans. And Sir and I have fallen happily back to our routine.
FIN

Summer is undoubtedly my favorite time of year. It is quite common to hear me wax on and on about the songs of the cicadas, the glow of the fireflies, the long and languorous days that melt into long and languorous starry nights.

That is until I’m interrupted by a high pitched enervating whine. It comes suddenly out of the thick summer air and instantly the pleasant fog of the day is gone and I revert to the fire escape lounging, concrete pounding, tenement building born and raised city girl I am. And she runs for cover.
M O S Q U I T O E S
This elegant specimen is the Asian Tiger Mosquito captured and posted online by National Geographic. It also happens to be the suspect in question. Apparently I was not hallucinating when I thought I saw stripes on my tiny nemeses. I did.
I also wasn’t deluded when I imagined they were attacking me at rather odd mosquito hours. They were. They have the wonderful particularity of being active when other mosquitoes are not. Thus you are not safe in the blazing daytime sun.
And finally I wasn’t just being particularly whiny when I wailed that they seemed especially aggressive in their attacks. They are. They will follow you not in a lazy hazy summer manner but in a focused and unrelenting assault.
I must say they even top the infamous Colombian mosquitoes who used to make a feast of me whenever I was in town. The Colombian mosquitoes were bad if they got to you but they were also huge and slow. Easy to slap into a wall. These are are not slow at all. They are fast and calculated little demons and they have no sympathy from me though I did try to remind myself they were only trying to feed their young. That thought lasted about 30 seconds until one of them landed on my little man’s forehead and proceeded to lunch on him.
From what I gather they originated in Asia. They landed here 20 years ago and have quickly gone on to buzz and bite their way through much of America. Lucky world.
Of course, wikipedia has a wealth of information on them:
As for me I’m about to test OFF for its “clip on” product and hope to report back. Though given the personality of these bloodsucking bastards I’m quite skeptical.