Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Teaches Us Once Again

Despite a lifetime of reading and watching after school Christmas specials, Mr. Curry and I fell prey to Christmas money blues. We worried we couldn't make Christmas special enough for our kids, that we couldn't drive to far off Christmassy places, buy All The Things, decorate with abundance, cook with plentitude- because whoever you are, if you are a loving parent, then you want your children to not just have a life, but the best of life. It's just that sometimes, you really, really get scared that it might not actually be about only heart...but also about that pile of presents. And of course, for most American small children who celebrate Christmas, toys are definitely part if not most of the excitement. They are indoctrinated with the call of Christmas toys in every grocery store, Target, mall and even Christmas stories which feature elves making amazing toys for good boys and girls. This year, we were poorer than any year past, and while WE felt blessed to have the little we did, and to have the net of our families who, even if we couldn't buy one thing for our brood, fill in quite nicely with their sweet gifts... we weren't sure the kids would feel that way. It was tight enough that when I bought Mr. Curry a Christmas present-  we had agreed NOT to buy for each other- after looking at the budget I had to return it that same day. We spent the month going to free celebrations and looking at lights and watching Christmas movies and made  few batches of cookies and listened to Christmas music every day, and it was good. Christmas Eve, we finished our present wrapping and looked doubtfully at each other. The small gathering of gifts compared to years past seemed sad, depressing even. Would the kids feel sad? And as you know because you know, they were not sad, not one little bit. Their stockings WERE hung by the fire with care, and stuffed with very thoughtful things, though very small, and their gifts while not many were each lovingly thought about and carefully chosen. And each child was happy. And not one perplexed, sad, or confused look crossed their face. The Christmas music rang out, the breakfast sausage sizzled, my mom brought coffee, and it was everything Christmas should be, beautiful, heart warming, full of love. We visited our Dakota, his first Christmas morning EVER not at home..which was a little hard for me, I admit I started out the day blue, but recovered quickly for the girls. He was working hard at his job and came home after his shift was over, and I made a huge turkey and my mom taught me how to make mashed potatoes by scratch and we all ate Christmas dinner and watched a Christmas movie and it was perfectly imperfect. I felt humbled by the realization that we have done better by our children than I had feared, we have taught them about the true meaning of Christmas, and they have been listening, and believing, and that it had been US who needed to remember.  ( And just in case, there's always Grandma ;) I hope your Christmas was beautiful, too.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Eleven Things That Make Say Anything One of the Best Movies of the Eighties

1. Diane Court's grades and lazar like focus on her intellectual and career ambitions. Her dictionary filled with pages of words with an X next to them, indicating she had looked the word up. She's the one in control in this movie. She's been chased while she is chasing the love of a full life. I LIKE IT.

2. Diane had to go to court to choose a parent and choose her dad. Not that it's good to choose dad over mom or mom over dad, but that even more then than now, choosing a father over a mother was unheard of. Diane's relationship with her dad is close and honest, she thinks. The title Say Anything is unexpectedly more about that relationship than it is about the one with Lloyd.

3. Lloyd's sad but talented guitar playing friend leaves Joe when he asks for sex, despite her previous obsession with him. 

4. Key master!!!

5. The hug in front of Diane's house after her first date with Lloyd was one of the most tender and adorable hugs ever depicted on screen. 

6. Lloyd's speech at the dinner table with Diane and her dad. EPIC.
" I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.... I don't know. I'm not going to figure it out all tonight sir. I just want to hang with your daughter. "

7. Diane tells her dad when she sleeps with Lloyd. " So I decided not to sleep with him. _dad relieved_ But then I attacked him anyway. "

8. Lloyd's letter to Diane. ' Dear Diane, I'll always be there for you. All the love in my heart, Lloyd. '

9.  After Diane breaks up with Lloyd, This line: ' I gave her my heart. She gave me a pen. '

10. ' I got a question? If you guys know so much about women, how come you are here at like, a Gas and Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere? '   LONG PAUSE ' By choice, man! '- This scene is perfection. The sad Gas n Sip at midnight, the half drunk group of guys posturing in front and ripping on Lloyd for caring about Diane, and the line Lloyd delivers in that unmistakable John Cusack voice. 

11. The boom box. THE song. The posture and the long look the camera takes at Lloyd's vulnerable, heartbroken face. Timeless and beautiful romanticism. 

Lola and I watched Say Anything tonight together. I was 18 and in love for the first time when I saw this movie, and all these years later here I am eating old Chinese takeout and cuddling on a bed with my beautiful souled girl watching it again. Life. Love. xo

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Eve Party

“One day you will do things for me that you hate. That is what it means to be family.” 
― Jonathan Safran Foer

“There’s nothing that makes you more insane than family. Or more happy. Or more exasperated. Or more . . . secure.” 
― Jim Butcher

“In two words," said Alan quietly, "there is nothing I love half as much as you.” 
― Sarah Rees Brennan

“He gave her a quick, casual kiss on the cheek first. Then came the hug, and it was the hug that always made Laurel’s heart mush. Serious grip, cheek to the hair, eyes closed, just a little sway. Del’s hugs mattered, she thought, and made him impossible to resist.” 
― Nora Roberts

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.” 
― Oscar Wilde

"At Christmas, all roads lead home." 
- Marjorie Holmes

“One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.” 
― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” 
― Mother Teresa

“Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper.” 
― Friedrich Nietzsche

"The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing other’s loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas." 
- WC Jones

“My dear young cousin, if there's one thing I've learned over the eons, it's that you can't give up on your family, no matter how tempting they make it.” 
― Rick Riordan

“Home is people. Not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone, then all you can see is what is not there any more.” 
― Robin Hobb

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

No Matter How I Try, I Can't Get Newtown Out of My Mind

For Our Children.

I love you Newtown. 
I love you.  I love you. I love you.
I love you.  I love you. I love you.
I love you.  I love you. I love you.
I love you.  I love you. I love you.
I love you.  I love you. I love you.
I love you.  I love you. I love you.
I love you.  I love you. I love you.
I love you.  I love you.
I love you.  I love you.
I love you.  I love you.....

And Jesus said I should love you too, number 28.  and I'm trying.

The Mother Of All Responsibilities

As a teenage mother one of the first realities I learned about motherhood is that I would be praised or blamed for most everything that happened to my son. I had stepped into motherhood like a foot into shit, in the opinion of many: unconsciously, messily and surely to be a disaster. My choices in extended breastfeeding, cosleeping, music, nutrition, scheduling, schooling, discipline- all roundly praised when he was doing well, or looked at with concern and disapproval when he was not. The same child that I might have ruined with my decision making when he was fifteen and hell on wheels, I can now get credit for while he is eighteen and kind, hard working and wonderful to be around. 

Nothing can encroach on the responsibility and judgement that I carry for myself, the questions I ask regularly to keep myself on my toes, the decisions I've prayed, read and cried about and still doubted, the hundreds of books I've read on children, adolescents, teens, healing my own childhood wounds to be a better mother, the therapy, the nights I've lain in bed staring at the smooth, shadowy white walls and wondering if I had been a good enough mother. Most mothers are like this, to some degree. We all carry what Eckhart Tolle calls the 'pain body', the collective suffering and pain of humanity, but here I'm using as the collective suffering and pain of motherhood: the insecurity of knowing that mother is Portnoy's reason for endless masturbating with the bathroom door locked, mother is the reason for Norman's terrifying Psycho, mother is the reason for Tony Soprano's sociopathic crimes and numb, self facing heart, mother is the first word in front of fucker, one of the most intense curse words we call each other. Mother is Freud and the fountainhead, where we lay all the blame, in the end.

For Nancy Lanza even being shot in the face repeatedly cannot atone for her sins, as we see them: she is responsible, in part, for this. 26 victims, not 27. Nancy Lanza, who we know not at all but can take a small amount of facts and line them up and decide that she could have prevented this. "She shouldn't have let a mentally ill kid around guns"- even though we've seen headline after headline that autism is not a mental illness, does not make children inclined to be violent, and is the only diagnosis that we know of for her son. I haven't read anyone questioning the father. After divorcing, it is the mother who is responsible, according to our national opinion. What we don't know about Mrs. Lanza or her son or her actions around her son is a list much longer than what we do know. What we don't know is how to grieve for a mother of an atypical son who had guns in her home and did not predict that there was a chance her son would take a gun and shoot people. 

I would never own a gun. I have very strong opinions on the data about gun ownership: where it ends up, who it hurts, the inherent risks. I have four children, and my heart broke and bled for Sandy Hook. I am also a mother. A mother who has spent her life as a mother with the understanding that in the eyes of society, each of my children is ultimately my responsibility, no matter their age, problems, paths, that it is my fault if they fail, my pride if they soar. I see the charmed look when my two year old is polite and says thank you and excuse me, and the irritated scowls when she screams or howls or 'acts spoiled' and I know that is only a microcosm of the judgements being placed on mothers of children of all ages.

What does 'each life is valuable' and 'give peace a chance' and 'we are brothers and sisters' and 'we are here to love one another' and 'peace comes from understanding' and 'Jesus teaches to love one another...' and ' A brotherhood of man / imagine all the people / sharing all the world ' mean to us? After Sandy Hook, the best way to honor the children and adults killed is to be the opposite force of what killed them. Instead of exclusive caring, we can offer inclusive humanity. I mourn for Nancy Lanza, in her mistakes, imperfections and failures as a mother, still a human being, still worthy of love, still murdered and gone. May they all rest in peace, and the rest of us, live for it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Little Pond At The Park

Yesterday after picking Lola up from school I took the girls to a park, down the street from where we live. Lola's been anxious the last few weeks; at the end of the school day she's as wound up and irritable as a CEO of a major corporation. The girls ended up wandering away from the play area and we walked across a little bridge to the small waterfall and pond, which moves in an incline and is full of large slabs of rock. Ever and I perched on the top end and set up a rhythm of rock throwing: I handed her the small pebbles and she chucked them in. I set Lola up on a large flat rock above the water, and told her to cross her legs and watch the water. I want you to say out loud ' my mind is clear and calm ' in a quiet voice while you watch the water, I instructed her. I'll tell you when you are done. And she did. For a moment, the sun shone through the cold grey sky and the sounds were stone falling in water and my daughter's voice, repeating her peace. I looked downward to pick up another rock, and there was a flash of color, I saw Ever's little arms and hands tucked underneath her body in a sumersault into the water, toward and on to a great rock with rushing water over it, the side of her head and body in the water, Lola scream, and my hand feeling Ever's shoulder as I grabbed onto whatever part of her I could and yanked her toward me. My legs and chest soaking wet, I pulled Ever's half sopped head toward my chest and told her Mommy's got you, Mommy's got you, as she agreed each time after I spoke Yeaaaah. Yeaaaah. Each time life disrupts us this way, I am, no matter the situation or how small or large the problem of pain for my children, grateful that I can be there for them, grateful that I can pull them toward me and hold them. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Where In The World Is Ever Elizabeth?

she started here
then she was here
and now here, in the drawer Mr. Curry pulled out to block the door because Kinny learned how to unlock the lock and open the door

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Mormon Comfort

As many of you know, I am not religious, in that I have not proclaimed myself part of any one religion- although I have taken the girls to the Catholic church. Catholicism is Ed's religion and his families, as well as many on my side. Yet comfort comes from the most unexpected places, inspiration from strangers, and words of truth from any heart bold and strong enough to share them. I found this Mormon video incredibly comforting, and I hope you will too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Praying For Those Left Behind

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
The Order for the Burial of a Child; Revelation, 7:16–17

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Evil Dr. G

i know a doctor, i shan't say
his name
he starts with a G and ends
with an e
diagnosis is his fame.

he tells me i have cancer
every time
i call
and i bite my nails and 
pick at scales
and never stop at all.

' green nails ' = cancer
' white poop ' = oh dear, 
you're quite dead
' lumpy tongue ' = just
head straight to the morgue

pee frequently or less?
oh wait, it doesn't matter.
your deader than a doornail
if a doornail hadder

my goodness this doctor
gives what
he's worth.
the cost of a land line
and my bubble

i thought i might fix
it with
green tea or a vitamin
but i'm a hopeless case
when this doctor
is in.

used to be the worst
were reserved for last
now they are first thoughts
when passing
stinky gas.

so if you want to ensure
you will live 
long time (or at least
through the night)
don't call on my doctor
he'll kill you 
on sight.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Elves


In a houseful of toddlers and pets, you can start out having a bad day, but you keep getting detoured.  ~Robert Brault
The great advantage of living in a large family is that early lesson of life's essential unfairness.  ~Nancy Mitford

When our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them.  ~George Bernard Shaw

There is no cure for laziness but a large family helps.  ~Herbert Prochnov

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.  Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.  ~Jane Howard

When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.  ~Joyce Brothers

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