Tuesday, January 29, 2013


this is my youngest child, my youngest daughter, my last baby
i am blessed to the oceanic depths and
to the tail of a comet in the last universe.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Wabi Sabi { Scenes From A Marriage }

I wake and move downstairs without my body's approval. Ever still nurses at night. Ever loves nursing more than any human child has ever loved nursing, and without my intervention could easily become the adolescent King boy in Game of Thrones who hangs off his mother's nipple as she perches on the throne. Mr. Curry's black and yellow zipper shoes ( as I have come to think of them for no apparent reason ) are on the table. This is new. Usually he irritates me by leaving them out, instead of shoved inside the four shoe shelves in the dresser feet away, but this day, he places them on top of the table, proudly. Look wife. I have left my shoes where our children eat. This is good, yes? 

As Mr. Curry comes out of the fog of bipolar, I am lifted. The long struggle has ended for now. He is back inside of those large hazel eyes that I adore, of which our baby has one. One of his, one of mine. If I was a cartoonist, I'd like to draw you two line illustrations, one of Mr. Curry during bipolar, and one when he is himself without the disease. The bipolar illustration would have downturned mouth lines, sloped and hollowed cheeks, rounded shoulders, clenched jaw, eyes that are full of terrible clouds so dense and so chaotic that were they the clouds of smoke from a fire, no one could reach through them to save anyone else. 

Nothing is as simple as a diary entry, a blog, an article, a summary, a log book, a psychologist's notes. Not my relationship with my husband, not our marriage. Records are for black and white, not shades of grey. Records state high and low, density, clarity, weight, power. Records do not state the dance of sunshine on the leaves when he pulled you through them laughing, the winking of sun on water at the lake as he kissed your forehead, the thundering of your heart as you lay alone in bed together and the entire world was distilled into that one dark and beautiful moment. Perhaps an index comes closer. A dictionary. A thesaurus. 

I don't lie when I write, as far as I can control. If I lie to myself, I pass it onto you; forgive me in advance for this contagion. How does one tell a story and always tell the truth? By leaving out whatever parts you choose. This makes it bearable when life is unbearable. This makes it safe when the truth would be dangerous. This also leaves an incomplete story. As I write about my marriage here, I am always thinking of all I am leaving out, and sometimes, I am sure that I have never properly conveyed how much I love my husband. I get those fears about people I love, that they don't know, so that I have to find them wherever they are and hold them and tell them. The truth Mr. Curry and I have to face and face again is that our marriage comes with an unwanted, uninvited guest: bipolar. A disease that sounds so common, easy to say, heard more frequently now. To my ears, ears that know, the word is thick with exhaustion, pain, confusion, desperation and heartbreak. Nothing that I understood- which was more than the average person- about mental illness prepared me for watching the love of my life being taken away and replaced by a stranger, one thinner, more volatile, irrational, hurtful and ten times less thoughtful than my actual husband. If I could capture in time shots the change of his face as he becomes ill, then, I believe, you would begin to understand. This might be the worst part, but it is not. The worst part is not knowing when he is coming home, or if. 

Before, if I could lie with him alone for long enough, and press my face to his close enough, and look hard enough, he could come back. Things change over time, this is marriage: what is hard will only become harder. You've solved a problem, found a solution: but is it a solution you can repeat and endure and carry for the rest of your life?  So perhaps when I say 'things change' it was a cowardly way of saying 'I've changed'. 

I've changed, and perhaps more the truth is that our circumstances have changed greatly, and this is also marriage: what shape your marriage takes in one set of circumstances is not a lifetime form. You keep shaping it, or it shapes itself to meet the moment, and this can be shocking. Our circumstances are now more absolutely engulfing as far as mental, physical and emotional space than they ever were before. Or perhaps I would have needed to find other ways of handing this on my end, regardless. Either way, we are left with the ways time changes us that are unexpected and at times, frightening. Yet despite all that is painful and terrifying about bipolar, every time my husband gets better, I am- even when I am so angry and hurt I fight it- as in love with him as ever, and he I. I still love his face, his smile, his laugh, his smell, his touch, I still feel ridiculously happy when it's his voice on the end of the line, when he comes home early. 

I fight hard for this while he is sick. I work to understand this challenge put into our life, and how we are meant to deal with it. I work to resist the temptation to turn away and steer myself to ask the hardest questions of my marriage: What do we owe each other? What do I owe myself? What do I want to do for my husband? What would I want done for myself? What do I want for our children? What do I believe is the nature of suffering and what purpose can it bring to my life? How can I transform fear and pain into transcendence? How can I act in love? How can I see this story differently? 

In Japanese culture there is a an aesthetic called Wabi Sabi. Wabi Sabi is the adoration and enjoyment of all things imperfect, old, beaten down. Arielle Ford wrote a book on marriage that centers around this idea: that in marriage it is the art of Wabi Sabi that must be practiced. Here is what Ariel says about this in an interview:

Well that’s really the essence of Wabi Sabi love, is finding a way to laugh, to take the significance out. Stop making everything such a big deal. Because that’s where we’re getting tripped up all the time. And, you know what, it’s not all going to matter. So let’s make up a new story about it. And since we’re making it all up anyway, let’s make up stories that empower us and support us and inspire us.

I come downstairs and see those zipper shoes and I think of 5:30 am and day after day after day after day of Mr. Curry coming downstairs. He is tired, with a long day ahead of him, often stressful, always hard work. He works six, sometimes seven days a week, and he does this because I am at home with Ever. He does this with an open heart. He does this with love. Those shoes are an emblem of his devotion and love to his family, on the floor or on the table, and that's how I chose to see it. Wabi Sabi.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

CJane made me so happy with this post. This kind of involvement in the lives of other children- not our own- is essential to our progression on this planet. If we want things to get better, we have to step outside our comfort zone and be willing to help those who can't ask- much less demand- for help from us. We have to be willing to feel things that are hard to feel and face things that are hard to face. If they have to live it, how can we turn away from hearing about it?

The first comment after this post is the funniest comment I've ever read.

The information in this short article is so important for every person to take in, so that we can have an idea of what the reality of homelessness is, and not simply our grab bag of perceptions. Why people end up where they do is often more complicated and more simple than we like to believe, meaning that while the way each individual person's life leads them to be able to handle certain challenges are unique, the things that bring them there are similar and often beyond their control.

How To Enjoy Bacon Without A Gallbladder is very specifically titled, but there is a wealth of information about how the human body works and interacts with food in this one article. This is one of the most helpful and informative pieces in this vein I've read in a long time and personally helpful for me. I plan to read it a few more times and see if there is anything I need to be doing differently for myself and my family. 

My friend Adrienne made this incredible tee pee for her daughter. Just gorgeous.

An informative piece on why this nutritional expert won't give his daughters the HPV vaccine. I myself will not allow my children to have it. I have had pre-cervical cancer and went through a cryo-surgery to remove the pre-cancer, so I am coming from a place of understanding personally that cervical cancer is a risk in modern life for young women. I was 19 when I had the pre-cancer. 

One of my favorite blogs to visit for years now. She does a series called ' Just Fill-in-blank-of-famous-person ' where the famous person is doing something unexpected and awesome, like below, where Picasso is just dressed up like Popeye....no biggie.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

With All The Love We Can Do It With

Mr. Curry gets home and I am a soaking wet washcloth dripping over the side of the counter. I am the washer's white cottony teeth thumping in steel and paint against the dryer. I am the tipped dog bowl. I am the dripping faucet. I am the half opened microwave, the damnit toe, the i'm sorry i cursed again burning of fingers like pink fat sausys through the holes of the over gloves: each glove has one hole. Ever runs to him shrieking Daddddy as if she read the book on the best things about having children and will follow, point by point, beginning with her fat little booty and so far ending with her fat little arms wrapped round our necks, her sweet baby breath against our cheek as she whispers I love you soooo much. Lola sprawls on the couch like a colt. I see her only in mustang metaphors lately: she is long legged, gangly, a bit unsure on her feet but picking up speed, glorious in youth, vitality, radiant with the beauty of young wild things. Her enormous blue eyes, the color of denim tucked just underneath. 

Days were confusing and short and long this week. Since Michelle died I think of her constantly. I was not close with her and yet I think of her constantly. How could I not? She was sweetness, she was good, she was a young mother, she was put through hell and then taken. I am the person who quit my job because I could not be five feet away in a different room from my Ever. To leave, forever... all week I have made mistakes with my children borne of human reason- on the whole, sleep deprivation due to two sick girls, myself being sick, Ever regressing with the amount of nursing. Just tired, tired, tired. The feeling of a circus. The voices of Ever and Lola asking, asking, asking, the dogs guilting me with their not walked eyes, the messy rooms, the burnt dinner, my side, back ribs hurting, normal things that lack of sleep stirs with crazy fingers and makes inscrutable: what is anyone saying? when do i get to sleep? The spirit wants to be good, free of suffering.  and calm. The body wants what it wants: sleep, sex, food, air, touch. Michelle has died. I walked into Target with Lola, Ever and Dakota early this week and the big bright T A R G E T filled me with consumer dread and horror: we do die, despite trips to Target, despite pretzels with cheese, good movies, laughing until we drool, orgasms, drunken nights, weeping, ice water, foot rubs, the perfect shoe, manicures, the grocery aisles. I felt the assumed burden of the living: live better because you are alive and they are not. As a theory we hear this our whole lives. In reality, when we care for when we love someone and they die, we feel a deep sense of carrying their particular loss into our living. Michelle cannot go to Target with her children and buy bread and a yellow wind up duck from the dollar aisle. Ever again. Maybe she hated Target. Maybe she was phobic about ducks. But surely, she would trade anything to have more moments with her family. I sat in my closet tonight before her viewing, crying. I was a little afraid. I've never been to a viewing alone. Mr. Curry had to stay with the kids. I imagined Michelle hovering over me and wondered what she would think. You are pathetic. Get up! You're alive. That's what I came up with, and I got up and got dressed and went to the viewing. 

I keep seeing her face in my mind as she was before she was sick, and I never even knew her then, only pictures of her, big bright smile, bright light blue eyes, big eighties hair, a truly American face. You'd know she was an American girl from a mile away. 

She's a good girl, loves her mama
Loves Jesus and America too
She's a good girl, crazy 'bout Elvis
Loves horses and her boyfriend too

Mr. Curry gets home and I curl into his arm and neck and the smoky, warm scent of hard work comforts me. The house takes a step back and the oven mitts fold their hands. For one moment, I am alive and I am in the arms of someone who loves me more than anything. For one moment, the voices of our children do not need to be understood or responded to. They simply sing behind us as we hold each other, and prepare for another evening of doing what is in front of us to do, with all the love we can do it with.

let's go the yogurt shoppe

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Be The Bee

She knew she had incurable metastasized breast cancer, that it had spread to a bone here, her brain in one bright spot on the Cat machine, a lymph there. She went to work every day and after work, picked up her son, Viking blonde and blue eyed, looking so much at three years old like his Daddy, and his older sister, same coloring with more of her Mommy's features. From the baby room where I worked, I could see her arriving, pulling into the small parking lot. She moved slowly in a way that reminded me of my Grandmother Elizabeth, carefully adjusting her purse. Sometimes she stood for a moment outside the chain link fence, watching the kids play, an inscrutable expression on her mouth. She walked past the door of my class and past the large glass panes that made up one side of my room. At this time of day everyone was outside. Her body was bent slightly forward and her face, even in profile, radiated a pure sadness quite unlike anything I've witnessed before. I watched her from the corner of my eye. If she was wiping her face, I would move outside the room through the other door, the one that led to the outside play area. I would meet her there and say hello and ask how her day had been. I would try to look both loving and appropriately reserved. I did not want to intrude if she did not want to let go. Oftentimes we would hug, and she would cry a little, and I would mostly not cry, because once I had read a cancer survivor say the worst thing, for her, was comforting others. Her face was swollen and discolored slightly from the radiation. Her eyes were a radiant light blue that mesmerized. They were like beams on a dark road, difficult to look away from. I recognized in her a pure sweetness that I have only come across a few times in my life, a simplicity of spirit, in the way that a flame is 'simple': complete, whole, radiant with light, filled with the endless energy of love. Around that beautiful spirit was a body that was falling away, letting go much too soon. I held her in conversations that grew more frequent and meaningful. Once, discussing an upcoming trip to the aquarium, she said ' I just want to do as much with my kids as possible, ' and cried. This was one of the rare occasions when I cried with her, gently. I don't like to recall what I said because it doesn't matter. What matters is if I could give her one, two, three moments at a time where she felt cared for, less alone, sharing some particle of her suffering.

Her husband and family and friends are loving and wonderful and she was very blessed in love. I was a friend on the outer rim of her circles, someone she met mainly because she had cancer, not the kind of friend anyone wants. I like to think of the importance of having friends like this as 'spotting'. It was a long drive from work or a doctor appointment or chemo to the childcare. It was a lot of time to think. To be overwhelmed emotionally, which she clearly was many times as she opened our doors. I could meet her and provide the momentary respite of human comfort, of a caring face, a hug, kind words. I like to think she found this in the hallway at work, at the coffee spot she frequented, the grocery store. I like to think that she walked the tightrope of  the outer world, when she had to be away from her family and close friends, making it moment to moment with many spotters, reaching out to steady her.

Her children are very young. We all understand the gravity of this, we all acknowledge the enormity of this, the severity of this, the incomprehensibleness of this. The grief. Every day, she picked her children up, and often, she told me what they would be doing next. Trips to New York, the Zoo, the local parks, trips to the mountains, camping expeditions- camping! Can you imagine camping with a husband, two small children, and the pain and exhaustion of daily chemo pills and occasional radiation and a cancer that will not stop growing? Most mothers I know don't want to camp with a cold. Yet year after year, she did one of the most unselfish, brave and beautiful things I've ever seen, and put aside her suffering to make memories for her children. This was her mission. Our family saw her family at a local park, walking slowly through rocks, messing around. I greeted her with a hug and smiled at her husband. He was always there. They have been together since they were very young. She was not even in her mid forties.

Her motto became ' Be The BEE ' and this is why: One day, she was driving home from the island of Coronado. As she picked up speed, she noticed a bumblebee on the front window of the car, holding on in the corner by the wiper blades. Once on the freeway, she watched him, waiting for him to be swept away by the pummeling winds. But he was not. He held on for the entire long drive back to her home, still there as she pulled the car into the driveway and turned the ignition off. As she sat looking at him, she thought: That's me. I am like that bee. I have to hold on and hold on and hold on. And she told this story, and all of her friends began posting images and illustrations and photos of bees on her Facebook page, with the same tagline, so many it was like you could hear us chanting BE THE BEE, BE THE BEE- - willing her to hold on, as long as she could, because that is what she wanted.

Through radiation, through a broken rib, through brain surgery, through infection, through daily chemo, through losing her voice to this miserable, awful disease, she held on. She held on five a half years after her initial diagnosis. I cannot think of a more courageous act, as incredible as any bullet taking on the battle field, as inspiring as any hero in a fire. Day after day. 

I will never forget this incredible act of love. I will never forget the courage and beauty that a human being can summon when doing so for love. I will never forget that being is what she chose to focus on, when it could have been all about the ending. I will never forget having the honor of being her spotter. I will try even harder, to be

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My FIrst Vlog: Hypocritical Tips For Flu Fighting

I made my first Vlog out of a giddy sense of inanity that being sick with the flu day after day- and your kids being sick with the flu, day after day- brings. So here you see a few important things:

1. I'm weird.
2. I like to be goofy.
3. I have great tips! :)
4. My room is a mess.
5. I need to work on the lighting.
6. What is up with the Japanese movie epic sound delay? Working on it.
7. The sound of all those candies endlessly rolling and bouncing makes me laugh. Off set difficulties. 

I'd appreciate it in the spirit of solidarity if, during the time when I stare at the camera and say 'uhhhhhh' that you silently muse on the oneness of all beings and the path of enlightenment. 

What you make of all this? I don't know. But I hope you like it! Without further ado:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood: Edition for Our Children

take a seat and read!

I realize that this article is surely upsetting some who read it. I also deeply, passionately believe that what research is showing about the more detached style of modern parenting is absolutely true. I do not believe 'attached' parents all look and do the exact same...but I do believe there are similar things they do and don't do. I believe that deep emotional connections forged in trust ( i meet your emotional needs ) and time ( i spend a lot of time with you) and connection ( I am close to you physically and emotionally ) are crucial for emotionally and physically healthy children. "Breast-feeding infants, responsiveness to crying, almost constant touch and having multiple adult caregivers are some of the nurturing ancestral parenting practices that are shown to positively impact the developing brain, which not only shapes personality, but also helps physical health and moral development," says Narvaez.

I've been working with Lola over the last month on her problem with attitude when she is anxious, which during this rougher than usual school year has been often. In addition to her anxiety, she is also 10 years old- almost 11- and exhibiting classic 'tween' behaviors. I loved this article on Top Ten Tips for Tween Discipline and found it useful.

On that note, another great resource for understanding anxiety in kids. A lot of you have mentioned that you are hungry for information on this subject so I'm always sure to pass it on!

A collection of biographies including FB links for all the Newtown shooting victims. I think of them almost daily.

I know this post was derided when it came out on HuffPo because the title was changed and considered by many to be inflammatory and insensitive. Here is the article, with it's original title, and I think it's extremely important to read and think about.

This amazing video is a father at a conference recounting how he helped his son defeat neuroblastoma, a horrible cancer in children that I wish I never had to hear of and have heard of all too many times. It is the cancer that little beautiful Kate McRae has miraculously survived so far, the little girl whose beautiful shining face has resided on the left margin of my blog for so many years. 

This list is so great- very practical, useful and thoughtful tips on how to prevent child abuse.

Lora's kid? Is as awesome as she is.

Lacy's charming Vlog on how to nurse comforably in public without boobage or nip slips!

Every time I get on the computer Ever begs ' See baby in bath please!? ' And this is what she's asking for.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Parks and Sharks With Woody Allen

A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies.

I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That's the two categories. The horrible are like, I don't know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don't know how they get through life. It's amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you're miserable, because that's very lucky, to be miserable. 

Sun is bad for you. Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat... college. 

I can't enjoy anything unless everybody is. If one guy is starving someplace, that puts a crimp in my evening. 

I was thrown out of N.Y.U. my freshman year for cheating on my metaphysics final, you know. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me. 

You know, I don't think I could take a mellow evening because I - I don't respond well to mellow. You know what I mean? I have a tendency to - if I get too mellow, I - I ripen and then rot, you know. 

Love is too weak a word for what I feel - I luuurve you, you know, I loave you, I luff you, two F's, yes I have to invent, of course I - I do, don't you think I do? 

To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.

What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet

all quotes by the great & terrible woody allen

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

you are my sunshine

Two years and one month old. Right now when she tastes something good and says in her deeeep, old Southern woman voice ' Behee-hee-LICIOUS'  I can't stand how cute it is. I mean she BELTS it out. It's ridiculous, illegal levels of cuteness. Two year olds are a boatload of work but man, they are cuter than puppies.

She talks a blue streak. As soon as we get in the car to take Lola to school every morning, she says ' John Jacob please. ' This is because John Jacob Jingleheimer Shmidt is her favorite song in the world, and I'm not kidding when I say that we listen to it about seven times a day- and that is only because I keep the CD of silly songs in the car, and not the house. I'm teaching her patience by working on taking turns. Everything is either my turn, Daddy's turn, Lola's turn or her turn. She's starting to be able to control her agitation at having to wait for what she wants. Man I relate.

She's still nursing a lot but I have been slowly cutting down, so that during the middle of the night I say ' tootsies are sleeping' and most of the time, she fusses half heartedly for a few seconds and zonks back out. She still nurses at waking, nurses at naptime, and often once at five pm, but I've been working on cutting that out- like today, she didn't- and then nurses herself to sleep. BUT when she puts her hands on my cheeks and says, almost crying because she wantt to nurse, ' Just a yittle bit Momma? ' then I say yes!!!! We have our days were it all backtracks and it feels like we start from 0 again. She hasn't been sick in about a year.  I give her baby probiotics five days a week, and she eats a lot of black beans, avocado, apple, banana, yogurt and noodles. She is eating peanut butter for the first time in the last two weeks, although she's always liked KIND bars.

She is an extrovert and has occasional bouts of shyness where she points to me and says ' That's Mommy ' but for the most part she says hello with a smile and waves at every person we see. Going out to run errands is like one long social visit for her. Today we met an older Mexican gentleman with turquoise earrings and a beautifully masculine old beaten leather Mexican cowboy hat, and thick dark but greying hair that curled down almost to his shoulders. Ever told him she liked his hat, and he touched it gently. ' This hat is very, very old sweetheart. '

She does most of the typical toddler things- leaves a trail of disaster wherever she goes, ( yesterday she found a pack of Trident and chewed and spit out most of it within a seven minute period before getting caught ) is loud when happy and sad, questions everything, has occasional tantrums. She is incredibly inquisitive, bright, funny and there is nothing sweeter than a little girl cupping your face when you're sad and saying ' You cry an? Tis OK, I love you. ' Well it is OK. It is OK because that's really all there is, when it comes down to it. The rest is caskets and confetti.

Monday, January 14, 2013

10 Life Changing Amazingly Great Books For Young People

Zusanna Celej

I LOVE book lists. I love books and I love seeing them categorized, listed, discussed, linked to, sold and re-sold, photographed and shared. One of my favorite kind of books is the genre written for adolescents and young adults, a common thing for adults who love books, because this is usually the period of our life when we fell for them hard. For me, it might have been Anne of Green Gables who personally moved me over from the love reading category to the Totally Obsessed Reader. My Grandmother Elizabeth, Ever Elizabeth's namesake, gave me Anne for something- my birthday, Christmas- and I never looked back. Finding out there were more- many more!- was one of the greatest thrills of my childhood.

These books are special because at a time in life when we are being shaped from the inside out as human beings, books help us form our ideas about the world and the people in it. The characters and stories push us to examine our emerging beliefs, opinions, prejudices and paths. We feel less alone. We understand ourselves and others better. We are comforted. And these books stay with us for a lifetime. These are some of the most important books of my adolescent and teenage years.

With that, I give you a list of  Top Ten Amazingly Great Books For Young People*

1. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Patterson. This was one of the first books I ever read that made me feel the strange magic of being transported from my own perceptions to another, from the opening to the stepping into the rocky shore of a young woman's life on an island. As a young girl I so appreciated the book's delving into the female character's angry, uncomfortable, unsure, confusing emotions. Her love hate relationship with her sister is timeless and the running thread of the novel. The beautiful storytelling merges perfectly with the backdrop of island life, the boats rocking, crabs climbing, sea and sand in everything. The understated love story is so sweet, and the honest laying out of relationships is wonderfully involving. All along there is a particular magic to this author's voice that infuses the story with that something special that makes it unforgettable. Love, love, love this book. I read it a million times.

2. Anne of Green Gables (Sterling Classics) by LM Montgomery. Oh Anne. This might be the book of my adolescence. My Grandmother Elizabeth, Ever's namesake, gave me this book for a birthday or a Christmas, I don't remember. What I do remember is my immediate, fierce and complete adoration of the story and character and writing that makes Anne of Green Gables the magic that it is. The little redheaded orphan girl who cannot stop talking and hides her fear, sadness and yearning for her dead parents with the constant talking, with charm, wit, and a determination to find beauty in the world. For me, lost myself, sad, confused, feeling the darkness of the world at my shoulders, Anne was a lesson in fortitude and attitude. She was my first teacher in the power of pluck. The many novels of her childhood are each as wonderful as the other, and my happiness and satisfaction at discovering that the author wrote three books about Anne's life as a mother was huge. I remember wanting so badly to write or call the author and thank her for not stopping writing!

3. Izzy, Willy-Nilly by Cynthia Voigt. This book is one of those seemingly unremarkable books, that I had never heard of and have never heard mentioned in my adult life, which made an enormous, life changing impact on me. The story follows Izzy, 15, who in the opening of the book goes to a party, leaves with a drunk boy, gets in a car crash... and loses her leg. Eventually she makes friend with a girl she would never have been friends with 'before', but who is the only one of Izzy's friends who can handle the sadness and discomfort of being around Izzy, and who calls her on her bullshit. What struck me so deeply about this story was the head on way the author addresses Izzy's profound sadness and anger, the weight she allows it. And then, the passage that has stayed with me all my life, in which Izzy gazes on her fellow students after she returned to high school, and thinks about how beautiful their healthy strong legs look running, and how horrible it was that they did not know how beautiful and lucky they were. That lesson in perspective- what matters- and in self worth- what is beautiful- still calls out to me at strange times, when I will suddenly remember Izzy, and I will feel the joy of running.

4. The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. My childhood imaginary friend was a black stallion that I 'rode' home from school every day, and who followed me alongside the freeway, galloping along the hills and leaping incredible lengths over gaps to reach another California brush. The Black Stallion was a book that spoke to me in many ways, with its story of adversity, inner fortitude, connection and trust. The story of Alec, stranded on an island after a shipwreck, and 'The Black', an untamable stallion, thrilled me to my bones.The testing of Alec's inner self, and the beautifully expressed connection between Alec and the stallion, will always be with me. The connection between humans and animals was never rendered with such impact, and the entire series became important to me as a girl. Lifelong love.

5. Lad: A Dog by Albert Payson Terhune. I don't know how I came across Lad, I'd better ask my mother. However I did, Lad was my personal Lassie. The story of Lad is loosely based on Terhune's own dog; I still remember reading the entire novel and then reading the brief paragraph in the back that describes the author and his real dog and feeling ridiculously excited and happy that Lad was 'real'.An absolutely beloved novel that to this day brings a strong feeling of nostalgia and private happiness. I adored the manners of the time and the values of the family. The story of Lad ( actually told in three novels ) is one of a sensitive, brave, intelligent and loyal dog who lives in a beautiful estate in a romantic countryside in 1919, another reason I love this story. The time period is so lovely to me, so fascinating, a way of life gone now. Lad's actual gravesite remains available for viewing in New Jersey, and is on my list of places to go.

6. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: 35th Anniversary Edition by E.L. Konisburg. Claudia (and brother Jamie) run away from home and lives in the Museum Of Metropolitan Art. What more do you need to know? OK- there is also a wonderful mystery of a maybe or maybe not Michelangelo angel statue, which eventually illuminates the narrator. I absolutely loved this book when I read it as a young girl, and the complete magic of hiding and living in a museum delights me to this day. A classic. I still run across people my age or near who light up when recalling this book, and I still use the title for my own amusement, like when I delete entries on my blog and retitle them The Mixed Up Files...

7.  A Wrinkle in Time: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition by Madeleine L'Engle. One of the definitive books of my life. A book I still reference, quote, and adore. A book that helped me to feel less alone in the world. A book that helped me understand just a little bit that parents are also- ready?- human. A book that transported me so completely as I read it that finishing reading it brought on a big case of the disgruntled spacies, in which I am a slightly irritable space cadet, still lost in another world. Growing up without this book will not do. ( All of her books are wonderful, even her memoirs, of which I am very fond. She writes about being a mother of many, a writer and a wife, all of which I am. )

8.  I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg. A sixteen year old girl goes insane and is committed to a mental institution. I was gripped, terrified, moved, enlightened, softened- more human after reading this unforgettable ( to a young person, perhaps less so to adults who have probably already come across many accounts of mental illness ) story of a teenagers experience of madness. The copy I link to is the same one I had as a girl.

9. The Borrowers by Mary Norton. Pure magic. The Borrowers are so uniquely magically wonderful that in my humble opinion, nothing on screen has even touched it yet. The movie and series made were just bumbling attempts at recreating the charm of this series of books about very little 'people' ( they have tails ) who live in the homes of humans and borrow their belongings to repurpose them for their life. The little family is Pod, Homily and Arriety- those names alone hint at the delightful magic here. I read these books as a young girl and then continued rereading them all throughout my teenage years.

10. Emily of New Moon/ Emily Climbs/ Emily's Quest (3 Book Set) by L.M. Montgomery. While Lucy's Anne was my first love, Emily might be my soul mate. I don't think I've ever felt such a sense of self recognition as I did reading the stories of Emily, who was as obsessed as I was and always have been with being a writer, with poetry. This is the running storyline for Emily, and her obsession with words, books and being a writer drives her throughout her life, as for me. Emily is an another orphan who ends up with grumpy Aunt Elizabeth and a nicer auntie, and makes close friends with two boys, one troubled and beautiful and passionate, the other kind, gentle and true, and a tomboy named Isle. The children form close, intense bonds, and Emily grows to love her aunts. Emily is intelligent, sensitive, deeply felt, quick to temper, makes bad decisions, has ego, love, devotion, pushes herself to hard work though it doesn't come naturally, and feels herself as an outsider, even in love. These three books are beautifully written, and completely engrossing. I cannot wait for Lola to read them.

*not THE list, because I'd probably- and might!- be able to come up with another ten.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood

Before I had heard anything about a movie being made, ( The Impossible, just released ) I was up late one night and stumbled across this movie (broken up into a series of videos) on YouTube that uses only real footage taken by four or so people or families to recount the story of the tsunami in Thailand. These kinds of 'real footage' things are all over YouTube, but the team that put together and edited the interviews and footage and voice overs did an outstanding,  breathtaking job. The sound editing alone is absolutely phenomenal, gives me chills and is excellent at underscoring the humanity and gravity of the situation without becoming too cloying. It is deeply sad to watch, and the loss of life that is happening is impossible to even truly take in, so I don't recommend this for anyone struggling with depression or the like. I think this movie is one that will stay with me for a long, long time, if not forever in my memory, with the images of the water and the voices of the innocent people trying to react to something they had no warning of and no context for. I think perhaps this is what makes the subject so compelling for me: what do we do when things horrible things happen that we did not prepare for and can barely process is happening?

Melanie of Inward Facing Girl addresses a commonly bandied about subject right now in Bloggers and Creatives Work Hard For The Money

This book trailer for Minimalist Parenting is so exciting to me, because it represents the work of two women whom I respect and admire- Asha Dornfest and Christine Koh- and  AND it is about a book they wrote that really, really fits my parenting profile and is coming out soon!~ You can pre-order now, and I can't wait to read it!

Lola and I are hardcore Downton Abbey fans and I want this shirt!

If you need a laugh

On Mamalode, Stacey makes the kind of choice that person by person will transform our world: to force herself through feeling uncomfortable, vulnerable and embarrassed to take action.

I love stories of marriage.

This man and his story and his tattoo. Incredibly moving and inspiring. I am putting a 'Be Here Now' tattoo on my Seriously Considering list because for me, that has been the number one spiritual practice and idea that has created real change in my life.

Friday, January 11, 2013

'Get Off My Internets' & The FM Ad Pull

 GOMI, or Get Off My Internets, is a place where people go to trash talk bloggers. That's the majority  of what goes down there. Federated Media just pulled their ad network from GOMI due to bloggers complaining to FM about their involvement with the site. Why are the bloggers so against GOMI? GOMI says it's because they tell the truth, point out flaws, expose lies and aren't silenced, completely ignoring that they also tear apart women bloggers from the floor up without any of the same evidence or integrity they accuse other bloggers of lacking. GOMI is Mean Girls. GOMI is that girl in high school who saw your Dad driving your uncle's car that one day and told everyone she knew that you were lying about having money and in actuality you are dirty poor. GOMI can't wait to catch you making a mistake, and point it out with a loudspeaker and floodlights during prom. 

Some GOMI comments have good points, some GOMI comments don't, but as usual, the Mean Girls miss THE POINT, which is that yeah, we all suck sometimes, but most of us don't spend so much energy and time ( or any! ) and effort into the completely cowardly pastime of publicly pointing out flaws, AND that if you are going to point out a perceived flaw or 'lie', you better be able to back that shit up. GOMI doesn't have balls behind their brass. They run on rumor mills that are about as reliable as Star Magazine, and with the exact same bloodsport: humiliate, criticize and speculate on those who are putting themselves out there, and then say it's all right because whine ( as GOMI likes to say, along with frequent usage of bloggers apparently 'flouncing' and 'pouting') : they put themselves out there. Missing again the obvious: what you can do and what you should do are two entirely different things, and while my mother could spend the rest of her life ripping me apart for the various humiliations and mistakes of my childhood, she shouldn't. 

 The forums are where a lot of the real Mean Girl conversations go down; a blogger is named and then the criticism starts, sometimes spiraling into a hate frenzy with lots of exclamation marks and the noticeable odor of self loathing rotting to people bashing. Typical GOMI chats repeat that the blogger is lying about XYZ, and the comments get very 7th grade from there. Reading through the site I found frequent unnamed sources, which could be anyone from a made up person, that cousin who always hated you since you had a girl and a boy and she had two boys, a former jealous co-worker, someone sitting in their basement next to their belly button link collection or an actual source. I've known a few bloggers who tracked down trolls that they had who were constantly claiming the blogger was 'lying' and it's really sad that those trolls ended up being people the blogger knew very well, who were upset at the blogger for whatever reason, be it an angry ex-husband, jilted friend, whatever.

For an example of a GOMI participant here's a comment on Babble's post about FM pulling their ads:

if you feel like someone bullies you then why do you click over and read it. you make the click happen, so don’t click. gomi gives me a place to vent my frustrations with bloggers because my comments get deleted on their sites when i ask them a legitimate question. if you wont answer my question on your site then this is what happens.

 Likelihood of sources being correct seems slim. I know bloggers who have been sited on GOMI for various 'lies' and they aren't lying. Libel. Trying to prove you aren't lying about everything from your income to your family life to your background to how many Pinterest projects with zest and olive oil you've actually made in the last year would be exhausting and ridiculous and boring to most people who aren't reading blogs for lists of evidence, but for laughs, information, great photos, community, good writing. 

Some GOMI participants are saying that it is censorship for FM to possibly cause GOMI's demise by pulling their business, and I can't say it any better than Kristen of Rage Against the Minivan, who said:

Catherine you should probably brush up on what censorship means. The site is free to say whatever they want. But FM doesn't have to fund sites with crappy content or bad reputations. That's not censorship, honey. It's business.

I had a troll here who was bent on proving that I was lying about being poor. I call her a troll because she commented repeatedly on each post I put up and all comments were focused on my 'lying'. I deleted her and she repeated, so I deleted her ability to comment at all. I then received an email asking why I was deceiving my readers, hiding the truth, etc. First of all, someone who takes the time to do this is a little scary. Unbalanced, clearly. And we all know I have a good idea of what unbalanced looks like! I've been reading blogs since 2008 and while some have pissed me off, some have confused me, some I was suspicious of, the most I've ever done is leave one questioning comment, because it's not my 'right' to be anything on someone else's blog. If I hate em or distrust em, I don't go back. 

 I don't want a perfect stranger repeatedly asking me to prove my income, and she doesn't have the 'right to be heard' which is a frequent complaint on GOMI. I don't delete anyone who disagrees with me in a non aggressive way. But the second I hear that 'tone' in someone's comments, where you can tell they are off balanced, gripping their point by the jugular and don't, no matter what they say, really want a honest conversation about their point, but instead are trying to engage you in a debate where they get to vent, then delete. That's how most of us function in 'real life' too. If you see someone at Starbucks every week and talk back and forth and then after a few months they repeatedly and forcefully ask you why you SAY you have a job, when they KNOW they've seen you shopping at Target during the afternoon, then the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and you make polite disengaging noises and get the hell out of there. That isn't hiding, that's knowing you don't owe people evidence of your life, and you don't owe anyone but your nearest and dearest time in your day to put up with crazy(ish). 

Some GOMI Posts Say:

On A Blogger's OutfitWhat IS this? First of all, oh look nude shoes…again. Second, this woman seems to dress in a way to purposely invite speculation about whether her uterus is occupied. I also had a little trouble at first figuring out whether those were wrinkles or panty lines.

With No Irony the lead GOMIR writes about a blogger: For some reason I feel like she missed the point in the criticism, but it’s a blogger we’re talking about here. Do they ever really listen?

That's middle ground. Some GOMI posts are perfectly harmless, and others are horribly mean. Which by itself would be upsetting or annoying but not a big deal. The problem comes with the libel, the rumor mill, the accusations made about a blogger's intentions, life, honesty. Once something gets said enough there apparently it's OK to believe it's true, although they don't give that rope to other bloggers. 

Bloggers who make part or all of their living off their blogs should have accountability for certain things of course, but GOMI makes that point as if that justifies their guesswork and slander, which is ridiculous. Holding a blogger accountable for xyz when it matters is fine, but standing outside the stall jeering and mocking and telling the student body that xyz is having a miscarriage in the bathroom  haha can you believe she was pregnant and she always said she was a virgin ( and really she's just having her first period, you asshat ) is just classic Mean Girl. I myself never bothered to prove ' how poor ' I am to my angry commenter, because she was so intense and persistent, and because HELLO? Who PRETENDS to be poor? Why in the world would pretend to the entire world and everyone I know in real life who read this, including occasionally my SIL, my oldest son, my husband, my ex-boss, ex coworkers who are still friends of mine, etc, that I am poor? Wouldn't I be worried that all those people in my life might ask me why I'm publicly lying about my life? That's the reputation I want to create for myself? If so, then I am a sad, sad person and you should just leave me alone anyway. 

Will someone sue GOMI for libel? I don't know. But it wouldn't surprise me at all. I hope they have Star Magazine money for a lawyer, since they have Star Magazine cruelty for a hobby.

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