When your babygirl’s got the *ThingYou’veGot*

Tomorrow, my six year old *babygirl* gets her hearing aids.  

It’s fine- it’s all good! It could be ten thousand times worse! I consider myself lucky. Hey- she’s going to be learning to deal with it from none other than ME. Mama. Mama love. Mama who’s spent my life learning about it and understanding it and teaching others about it. The thing- the hearing loss thing. The hearing impairment. The dis- you know, you know, the thing! The… The Disability.

The disability. 

The thing I’ve wrestled with my whole life. That longing to fit into a world that hears. That pretending to understand the words I missed. That showing up to every new situation with the absolutely insistent internal drive that THEY SHALL NOT see me as… dumb.

As disabled.

As incompetent. 

As unfunny, because I didn’t laugh at the joke, cause I’m funny as all get out. As unempathetic, because I didn’t catch all of what they said, because lawd, I’m nothing if not empathetic.

And now. Now I… have to pass the torch… this it’s really not-so-bad, You can still do anything!!… torch. Onto my baby girl. My everything. My mini. My bonus heart. My tiny turtle. My baby bean. My nemesis.

But it’s fine! Because guess what, life’s hard! And you gotta suck it up! And it’s better when you learn those lessons early, and well, so you can thrive! And endure! And prove them wrong! And that zest, that internal power has driven me my whole life. And I can teach her. 

I can show her. How to do it.

But.

It hurts. 

Cause I know what’s coming. 

I know people sometimes won’t get it. And you know what, it isn’t even those with the worst of intentions. It’s those with the best meaning at heart, they just didn’t realize. They mean well most times. 

They’ll mean well most times for her too. People are good. And I’ll show her that sometimes people can be rotten, but they’re rotten anyway. And it has nothing to do with us. And this disability. They just have their own battle, yadda yadda.

*Our disability.* Used to be “my disability.”

Now it’s *ours.*

That’s weird. 

It’s… sad, truly. It’s beautiful too, in a way, nature and genetics. Mother and child. Inevitability.

But, it’s sad. 

I don’t believe that we can protect our kids from pain. 

I don’t believe we’re supposed to.

I believe we teach them everything we can, and then we push them off the branch. 

I just wish that the end of her branch didn’t start with this stupid, no big deal, could be so much worse, absolutely life-altering and isolating…. disability.

So, go fly, off your branch. Just… sometimes you aren’t gonna know what’s going on. And you might not know that you don’t know what’s going on, and you might say the wrong thing and people might look at you funny and you might misinterpret that and think they don’t like you. Or something. But, I’m here. I’ll be here the whole time. And there’s nothing you can say that’ll shock me. Cause I know all the things. And the things I don’t know, I research. So, I guess, go to first grade. With your fresh pink on pink on pink glitter hearing aids… and stand proud that you’re carrying out a tradition of brilliance. And fortitude. And knowing the power of thinking and writing, cause we can’t count on the speaking and hearing.

Oh, my baby girl. 

Imma try to stop projecting on you. It’s why I’m writing this out. I gotta stop. You’re fine.

You’re freakin’ alright. In fact, you’re a freakin’ gift.

Keep That Hunger


Eleven years ago today, I got off of Route 40 in Flagstaff, took I17 south, and headed home to a place I had never lived.

One night, a few weeks later, while sitting alone in my apartment, I said to myself, “I can’t visualize my life, going forward; but also- I can’t imagine going back.”

A few days later, I met Craig.

~

A year ago, I walked out on a profession I had spent 15 years building. 

With no plan.

I sat with the uncertainty. I faced all the fears. I melted into the sadness. And then one night, I said, “I’m a writer.”

I called a grant writer I happened to know and I said- I need you to help me get to where you are.

This led to a second opportunity. This time I busted through the door for the interview, placed my hand on my heart, and said, “Writing is my art.” 

A week later she called me and said- Come back here and help us do this thing.

Late Wednesday afternoon, a VP I didn’t know looked at me during the middle of a meeting, and said, “So. I’ve heard you’re a writer.”

I swallowed the excess saliva that had overcome my mouth, sat up in my chair, and said, “Yes. What do you need done.” 

Don’t give up on your journey just because you keep falling off the train and your shoelaces are caught on the track.

Follow the trail of bread crumbs home.

How to Write Short 


How to Write Short

This is the title of a book I read recently, (by the brilliant Roy Peters), that I can’t stop thinking about. Which words to omit, and which sentences to pare down? Where to play the darling word games, and where to cut to the chase?

Can we talk about commas? Do I even have a single-handed, Vaseline-tight grip on this? How many of the punctuation rules learned in grammar school am I using correctly, and how many of them have I bent and twisted as I’ve aged?

“Just go write!” my husband says, “get out of your head!” But where is excessive, heart-aching self-expression worth it, and where does it become utter and complete self-indulgence and redundancy?

Speaking of redundancy, have I ever spelled this word with any kind of confidence? Truth be told, there are a slew of words in the English language that I write on a daily basis that I can say- I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO SPELL. “Strength.” And “length.” and “exacerbate.” (See also: redundancy).

Which brings me to the point; does this matter?

It matters to me. It doesn’t have to matter to you. You know things I don’t know. In fact, it’s one of life’s greatest serendipities that we don’t all know the same things. So it matters to me, and it may not matter to you; and that’s- beautiful, actually. It means you’re holding up some other end of the fort that I would have a leg and a clump of my hair stuck in.

I’ll keep sharpening my pencil and you keep counting the numbers, teaching the kids, painting the art, and holding the space.

 

When the Book is too Delicious

  
To My Daughter,

Today we went to story time, like we do every week. You didn’t want to sit. You wanted to stand. Right up in front. Inhaling the words off the pages, snuggling your heart into the arms of the librarian, and swallowing life the way you do; whole and all at once.

I know that I kept asking you to sit down. It isn’t that I don’t understand your need to move your body, it’s that I want you to understand the lay of the land, the rules of the world. Because this will help you channel that energy into the good stuff.

I speak about you often as though we are nemesi, you and I. As if you live to challenge me, break every rule I put in place, toss every parental confidence I have wildly astray. 

But you are me, little one. You are my spirit outside of my body. I know you need to move. And jump and hop and laugh furiously and yell like wildfire. All of this while you are taking in absolutely everything around you. I know you are. Listening. Learning. Shaping your mind.

I know this because I see myself in you. And in this picture. 

I know how hard it is to wrestle within a body that wants so badly to follow the rules but also- to break every last one of them. To feel the dizzying longing for creativity while wrangling oneself into the structure of a sound and well-researched paper.

Despite this understanding, I told you to sit down 97 times today and then finally pulled us both out of story time. But like I told you in the parking lot; it wasn’t because I was upset with you.

It was because life has rules to follow and because the people we meet out there have rights; being able to see the pages of the book too.

So sit right up front and feast on all the universe with your eyes and your heart; just sit down on your tush so all the world can feast too.

[Sit down. 

Sit.

Stop moving. Just wait hold on. Just. Hold on. Wait just… Hold on. 

Hold…

Just.

You’re standing on me. On me. You’re on me.]

The Momentum of Being Lost

  
I’ve been lost. Okay. Many, many times. I’ve been lost in my personal life and my professional life, and in both cases I’ve found a few fundamentals to be true. 

1). Being lost is the single most mojo-threatening yet hopeful state of existence. It promises nothing, hopes everything, and swings back and forth on the hinges of faith.

2). Settling isn’t ever the answer. Settling has a powerful draw. Arguably a logical one. But the basic tenet of fit-ness remains ; if it’s not right, you’re just killing time. And your spirit.

3). Every time I’ve thought I had it figured out, I ran the risk of being very, very wrong. Take a look at the many parallels between finding a relationship that “fits” as well as an employment opportunity that “fits.” Years ago, I sat with a couple of then colleagues (who then became some of my closest friends) and we tore open this hypothesis we’d come to that the relationship you have with your work is much the same as the relationship you have with your significant other. Is this a good fit? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Can we laugh together? Are our hearts in sync? Do we share the same vision? Can we grow old together? Or will we crash and burn, scraping ourselves off the pavement with a pervasive confusion and partly inevitable binge ice cream eating after all is said and done. 

4). I have been professionally lost. For…. well a really long year now. I’ve tried some things, always well intended; only to find that they were not my soulmate. I mean a job is a job. Right? No one likes their work. Right? Well. After a year of this mess, I’m not sure it’s that simple. 

5). This month I tried three new things, simultaneously. One crashed and burned immediately. It didn’t only just scrape away at my layers of defensiveness. It didn’t promise to teach me any sound lessons. Instead it immediately shouted THIS IS NOT FOR YOU, my dear love. Walk away. And walking away is not a class act feeling. It burns through every layer of my sense of self. But as soon as I noticed my flesh was literally ON FIRE, I grabbed a hose, cooled down my skin, and threw the papers across the room. Don’t do the thing that sets your skin on fire. You’re going for soul on fire. Not skin.

6. So, exhausted, I brushed the burning embers into the fireplace and I reached my heart out. Again. Only this time I reached out to the one opportunity that has been feeling the BEST of all of them. All along. And I said, “what more can I take off your plate this week.” And that was it.

7. And then, magic. I got a reply so full of passion, so full of love. A reply of appreciation, of trust, of gratitude. And so I put the rest of my pile down. And I turned to face this reply. And I picked it up, and I held it. And I looked at it. And I felt it. 

8. And I decided- this is the one. This one is my baby, my partner, my selection. This is the one that gets me. The one that wants to hear what I think, what I believe in, and wants to read what I write. 

9. So, to my other my friends who are lost, I tell you this. Just like not settling in finding a partner; don’t settle in finding your career. Or your next career. It’s as much about fit as anything has ever been. Life keeps rolling no matter what, but you owe it to yourself to fall in love. With your work. 

Lost is the best place to begin. Don’t be afraid. Float.

What’s (taking up too much space) in Your Shopping Cart?

Today I watched a man haul a bulk-sized load of toilet paper on his shoulders, presumably walking home from the grocery store.

That got me thinking- isn’t it true that we always have that one gigantic thing we need from the store? Does this bulk-sized item in our shopping cart serve as a give away as to which stage we’re at in life? Let’s see.

College. 

 
Single.

  
Dating. 

Living together.

  With newborn.

  And again.

  And finally, the kids have moved out.

   

Raising Memories

  
I grew up on along the Jersey shore. Not literally, but close enough. So many summer memories from childhood right up through college and beyond involve those hot, sticky sand days and boardwalk nights. They are memories that define me, candle scents I search for and harshly critique, and rolling ocean sounds that I can still hear in my head.

I didn’t expect to grow up and move 2,000 miles away. And more than that, I didn’t expect those memories to represent home to me for the rest of my life in the way that they do.

That said, I’m raising my daughter in the desert. Not literally, but close enough. And sometimes I feel palpably saddened for her to think that she isn’t growing up… well, the exact same way I did. 

Which is of course, ridiculous. Because they don’t. Not completely anyway. Times change, things ebb and flow. She’s growing up in an entirely different world. Faster paced, sure. But that’s not quite what I’m getting at. She’s growing up in the world of Spring Training up the street, fire pits and marshmallow roasting during the winter, and “driving to the snow.” 

She can look in through the gates at Sloan Park and see the next Cubs pitcher warming up on the practice mound; like it’s Little League practice. She can look off into the distance in literally any direction and see mountains just a few miles away. And on a lucky winter’s day, some of them white-capped. 

She can ride “up north” to visit any season at all, and see fall trees and sledding, skiing and mittens. She can pop out back any evening from October through May and ask if we can “do a fire tonight.” 

Maybe the grass here in the desert isn’t always green, and when it is; maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe our front yard is gravel and our summer heat scathes the paint off her backyard toys. Maybe she’ll never wake up to a snow day. Maybe she won’t grow up with cool summer nights.

But she’ll have high energy Spring Training crowds up the street and all over town. And beautiful winters and campfire marshmallows out back. She’ll grow up understanding only certain shady summer trees can grow in the desert, and that they’re special and rare. Maybe it’s not about giving her my memories, but making space for her to make her own.