Friday, September 30, 2005
Rise and Shine
It was so cold last night in the baby's room that we took him from his crib and bundled him up between us. He's so sweet in his sleep; quiet sucking noises as his pacifier pushes up and down, his little fingers carefully tracing the blanket by his face, tugging every so often, pulling it up, covering his eyes. I was on guard most of the night. Each fidget, each stir, brought me to lift my head and peek, or reach a hand to feel his warm body and hold him still. Sleep, I whispered, as much to myself as to him.

It didn't work; we were all restless through the night. And this morning we were up with Vin, saw him off to work. The baby and I watched the sun cut through the clouds and saw the lake wake up while I sipped strong coffee and shifted him back and forth on my hips. And then, he fell asleep, in my arms. I laid him down, and I was left in the quiet living room, with a laptop and a fresh mug of coffee - lo and behold, I got some writing done.


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Wednesday, September 28, 2005
The Stealing Season
I've found myself writing more and more random short stories (and less and less of my novella - I blame my muse...wherever it is...), so I've started posting short fiction over there, as opposed to here.

(It looks sort of like I'm organizing things...but really, it's procrastination in disguise.)

One of those
My sister snapped this picture of me while we were apple picking.
I am totally one of those moms "Smile for Mommy!"

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Part Three: Haunting
(Sighisoara, Continued from The Realization and The Place)

They haunt me when I am still. They appear, peeking around the corners of my idle mind with their doe-like eyes and their outreached hands, caked in filth. Hard black muck wedged under their nails and in the creases of their skin. Their calloused hands slide against my soft white palms and their bare feet pound the hot pavement, walking beside me.

In the winter, I went to their village. It was a mile or so beyond Sighisoara. We drove in a cramped diesel van packed shoulder to shoulder with padded winter jackets and stacks of peanut butter sandwiches, pots of rice and soup. The village appeared in the horizon as stubble against the white-gray landscape. We parked along a brook, slush encroaching on its small brown stream. The children raced to meet us, bare feet, bare legs, bare chests and arms, all flailing against the white landscape and splashing through the brown water to slap their little palms on the side of our van. Their toothless grins smudged with dirt.

We quickly dished out plastic bowls of soup and sticky sandwiches to the tune of Jesus Loves Me. Their parents remained on their side of the brook, watching closely with arms crossed and faces stern.

After eating, we crossed the slushy water to their homes, with medical and cleaning supplies. Their houses looked thin, like cardboard stuck in piles of wet brown earth. The village reeked of filth; dirt and feces. Th
e homes were one room, cramped and sticky with heat. A makeshift stove sat in the middle, blasting heat against the layers of clothes and garbage, lining the walls. Old, glassless TV's were stacked in corners; a solitary mattress would be heaped with mothers and babies, staring glassy eyed at us as we walked into their dimly lit spaces. Standing there, in the windowless room, breathing in the steamy stench, you could forget that there was a shining sun and a cold breeze moving just beyond the walls. I was desperate for the air. Desperate to leave.

I escaped to the cold winter air and was immediately swallowed by a crowd of children; reaching for my hair, petting my jacket, smiling. Frumoasa. Beautiful.

Some of them escaped village life. They live in one-bedroom apartments in town with their entire extended family, sleeping and pissing on the same floor. They spend their days chasing the Americans along the sidewalks, sweetly smiling, eyelashes flickering puene te rog...Bread, please. They are often bruised, either from staggering drunk parents or from scuffles with older siblings. In the springtime, even the little girls heads are shaved. They wear wool winter caps to hide their stubbly lice ridden heads.

I loved them. I would wander the streets of the town looking for them with bread in my pocket and money for ice cream treats or bubblegum. They were all beautiful, stubbly heads, dirt caked grins and all. And I promised them more than I could ever deliver. More than food and smiles, I promised them hope.

And then, I abandoned them.

Five months later, I was thousands of miles in the air, crying and crossing the Atlantic. Back to my safe, ordinary, American life. I left with promises of returning...but haven't.

And so they haunt me still.

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Monday, September 26, 2005
The Orchard
Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Saturday, September 24, 2005
The boss is wheeling his car-shaped walker over to the table and saying Ha to the telephone. Vivaldi's The Four Season's is playing in the background. I'm sitting at a table surrounded by windows with views of a serene lake, trees with leaves rustling and a clear blue sky. There’s coffee puffing and percolating in the kitchen - I can smell it from my nook in the living room. It is the perfect Saturday.

In fact, it is so perfect; I can't stand to be inside. Time to pack up the babe and hit the road for a walk. A day like to day is almost guaranteed to inspire.

Friday, September 23, 2005
New Job
Yesterday was my last day of work, or should I say, my last day of paid work.

My new job description seems easy enough:

Must love babies. Must feed & bathe and change as many diapers as are required per day. Must be aware of every possible hazard within the bosses reach. Must entertain and cuddle when desired. Must know when to put down for naps.

This is my new boss:

Don't be fooled by his sweet grin (or his inability to work a spoon by himself...) He is a slave-driver. He clicked his tongue at me as I tried to read through the thirty-page packet I received in the mail from my professor. And he squealed at me as I attempted to get some writing done this morning... the only way to appease him was to get down on my knees and chase him until he dropped.


I chased him around the living room until my knees were sore and raw and he was rubbing his eyes and reaching for a blanket to bury his sleepy face in.

Writing will have to wait 'till naptime.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005
A Little Rain...
I finally managed to update The Stealing Season - it's a very small bit, but it's something. I'm hoping the floodgates will open soon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Bits and Pieces...
(Boredom at work = incomplete, unpolished bits of fiction)

The room seemed larger at night. The corners receded into black; the walls pressed back by shadows; everything coated in a thin veil of blue-gray moonlight. It spilled in through the sheer curtain, flooding the wooden floor. The air was thick, and it smelled like us; sex and sleep. I was swimming in it, alone.

It took her hours to fall asleep. The blankets and pillows would disappear, swallowed between her knees. She grunted and sighed and shifted well past our last goodnight. She was miserable. We were miserable. It was her stomach that had awoken me; swollen and tight like a drum, it nudged against my back.

I was careful not to disturb her as I slid from the bed; gingerly lowering my feet to the pool of wavering light. I quietly eased the door enough to press myself past, into the hall.

The nursery door was cracked open, a wedge of blue light cut across the dark floor. I pushed it wide and leaned against the doorframe. The room had been easy to convert; a few layers of blue paint, a truck or two on the dresser. I stared at the crib's solid wood legs pressing inch-deep into the new carpet. The changing table was the same, a little wooden cart with a lip so that the baby doesn't roll off. But the crib was new; the thing she insisted that we change.

I closed the door behind me and followed the wall into the kitchen. Her fat gym bag was sitting beside the door - waiting. I nudged it with my toe, remembering the soft weight of it over my shoulder the first time, as we hobbled to the car, stopping to breathe at each flagstone.

I reached down and tugged the side pocket open. Lip gloss, hair ties and a soft cover book. I shoved a packet of cookies in and pushed the bag back against the wall. I sat on the counter with a glass of milk and stared at it. Ready to go.

I held her for weeks after it happened. We'd never slept so close; my nose and lips resting on the back of her head; the soft curve of her back pushing against my stomach. I could feel her heart beating under my arm. Neither of us slept well, but we were too afraid to pull apart and feel the chill of it all alone. Exposed.

Do you think she felt anything? She asked me calmly, as I lay behind her. It was the first sentence she spoke about it without her voice wavering or faltering to tears. I tightened my hold on her, burying my face in her neck. She was warm and smelled sweet like vanilla - like coming home. Her hair fell around my eyes. I felt my lips brushing over her soft skin, as I answered, no


Monday, September 19, 2005
Then again - there's nothing like getting a fat tuition reimbursement check from your university in the mail. I smiled all the way to the bank this afternoon...

And, I've started writing something...not sure what it is yet, but when I know, so will you.

And - I had the tastiest omega-3, flax-stuffed, fiberlicious waffles you could imagine for dinner. Things just keep getting better(...except in my fantasy football league...but, that's another story.)

Here's to Higher Education
So, am I getting my MFA in Creative Writing - or is it Procrastination? Because the latter is really what I’m perfecting...

Yes, I am accumulating thousands of dollars in debt to perfect the art of procrastination.

(While I'm working on getting something new on paper - I've updated Revising Grace )

Friday, September 16, 2005
Part Deux: The Place
Looking back, I was smitten from the beginning. Intoxicated, even by the gray sky and the cool morning mist on my skin as we walked through the arching door of the train station.

A drizzly winter morning in Transylvania is not a sight you'll find on any tourism leaflets or postcards - but it is what you would see if you could glimpse into my minds eye's view of beautiful. It was the perfect, stark and chilly gray morning that changed my life.

We drove through winding cobblestones streets at full speed, herking and jerking (and gasping and clutching our backpacks to our chests) in the back of a cramped diesel van circa 1970. When we finally lurched to a stop we were divided up into twosomes and threesomes - and me. I was put in a host home, alone.

It suited me just fine. I sat for hours in the kitchen of that tiny apartment, my elbows propped on a shiny white tablecloth, peering through thin red curtains to the narrow street below. Donkey's and carts plodded past. A notebook of Romanian slang and scribbles of poetry sat in front of me and a mug of Nescafe warmed my soft palms. I stirred heaps of sugar and dark cacao into the cup - it had become my makeshift mocha in a city of powder-packet cappuccinos.

I wandered the medieval city on my own. I got to know her. Early in the morning farmers unpacked their sacks of herbs and vegetables on the concrete slabs in the market – the scent of dirt and onions in the air. In the afternoon, her skies are filled with the chatter and laughter of children wandering the square - or tugging my arms and shirt, asking with dirtsmudged smiles for bread or salami. After dark, my footsteps were the only sound echoing against her medieval walls and clapping into the black night.

I found that she is beautiful at any time of day, in any light and through the veil of any storm. (Even when the storm knocks out the power and I'm bathed in candlelight doing
laundry by hand.)

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The Path Not Taken
Today, I came across the blog that I once thought I would be writing. A disenchanted twenty-something moved to the big city with aspirations of a successful journalism career. It's a wonderful read - absolutely delicious. She writes with beautiful eloquence, and makes even the mundane details of living as a single girl in the city seem riveting.

And yet, it struck me as sort of sad.

It's written in the voice of my generation that teeters on melodramatic - the generation of college girls who watched Sex and the City and thought it was truly how life was supposed to be. City life -filled with Sunday brunches and late night wine bars and cosmos and fabulousness. And other simpler things, like wandering through the farmers market, grabbing fresh food to cook up on your miniature stove before curling up alone on a Friday night in a terry cloth robe, watching mice scamper across the floor while typing away on your laptop.

And sipping wine. Lots of sipping of wine.

There's certainly a romance to it all.

And so, I have to wonder, did it strike me as sad because it’s the sort of casual existence I once dreamt that I would be living? Working at important places, meeting famous people, living in a city filled with art and culture and 24 hour restaurants, stores, hot spots... Or is it that I feel sad because it just seems so lonely (from my perspective now) - to be struggling for something so empty. Sharing an apartment with mice. Watching rich people act out their rich lives on the rooftops of uptown apartments. Crying over Food Network. Perhaps her writing is so vivid that I'm actually feeling for her - the sad ache of making it on your own.

Something I didn’t do. I meant to...but then there was love...and then marriage, and we all know what comes next. He’ll be nine months next week.

It’s a choice; the path taken, the path declined.

I'll probably still read the blog with appreciation. Maybe sometimes with a dash of bitterness - or a little sadness - and always with wonder; wondering how my life might have been different, had I chosen to be the make-up-less girl watching mice skitter across my apartment floor while typing to an invisible audience of internet strangers, rather than being a fulltime wife and mom and office slave and grad student - stealing moments from work and my husband to type away here - lying and calling it school work whenever someone peers over my shoulder.

But, then I'll turn off the computer and kiss my son goodnight...and fall asleep beside the love of my life. With no regrets.

Thursday, September 15, 2005
Part 1: The Realization

It dawned on me in the middle of a thunderstorm.

I was standing at the bathroom sink with a pair of underwear in my hands, scrubbing fiercly with a bar of laundry soap; scraping them over a plank of wood while warm suds squished through my fingers and trickled the length of my forearm. The candle beside the mirror wavered with each firm stroke, shaking the light and sending shadows dancing around me.

My knuckles were raw from scraping against the sink and the plank, my back was sore from leaning over the dirty sink. It was right there standing beside the pull-string toilet that it struck me: I was in completely in love.

I hadn't planned on falling in love; yet there I was, fingers dripping, underwear soaking, candlelight flickering, surrounded by dirt and sweat encrusted clothing waiting for their turn in the sink - and I'd never been so happy.

Not with a man or a person, but with a place - a place of being (Sighisoara) and an emotional place within myself.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005
The Hunt
We went for the first time today - hunting for a home.

We saw houses in neighborhoods with shirtless men sitting on stoops, or standing in wife-beaters smoking cigarettes and swigging beers at four in the afternoon. Neighborhoods with mother's smoking from the windows and screaming down the street at their misbehavin' children. Neighborhoods where the beat of Jam'n 94.5 vibrated the gates and the floors inside the homes.

Their listing sheets called them open and airy or charming with beautiful woodwork. What we saw was peeling ceilings and warped wooden floors, piss stained rugs and gas pipes sticking from stove-less kitchen walls. We saw hot-box, air conditionerless houses where entire families live in their own stench.

Oh, the stench.

Needless to say, we did not find our home.

But on a bright note, I did manage to finish my homework and drop the packet in the mail (a day late.) So, now I can dedicate more time to the hunt...

Monday, September 12, 2005
This is me just moments before my head actually exploded from attempting to complete my writing assignments...

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Saturday, September 10, 2005
Old Fashioned

To combat my frustrating writers block I did something different. Unusual. Some might even call it Old Fashioned. I turned off my computer and walked away. Away from that cold computer screen and its blinking curser's relentless taunting: Type! Write! Produce!

In June, AJ Verdelle told my class to know our triggers, and use them. So I did. I bought a little sage colored spiral bound notebook and pulled up a table at my favorite little (non name brand) cafe.

It's not the tall paper cup of rich coffee that inspires me though, it's the atmosphere. The dimly lit room, the small clusters of tables and couches, the smell of amaretto and coffee and sweet pastries. The hum of the background music, the chatter of customers huddled together on couches or squinting at the menu while waiting in line. The clicking and dinging of the cash register. Every bit of it inspires me. Nothing else gets my writers nerves tingling like that cafe. Sitting at a table alone, there's barely big enough for my pad and elbows and cup. For some, it might seem claustrophoic. But with a pen in hand and an open notebook of blank possibilities - I am limitless.

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Friday, September 09, 2005
It's Almost Noon...
and what have I done? Nada.

Except the twenty minutes I just spent making a link to another piece in progress - see the sidebar:
Revising Grace

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Here we are again, the blank page and I. Our montly wrestling match. I'm one weekend away from the deadline for my next writing submission and I'm drawing a blank. I've got bits and pieces of random writing to submit, but not enough on my novella (which is supposed to be my focus this semester...)

You'd think that with all that I have going on in my life, I'd long to sit and write - just to get it all out. But for some reason, I'm dry this month. Maybe I need a retreat. Or encouragement...but I can't drag Vin to read it again, and my usual audience has already finished reading what I've got - and they're just waiting for more. Anyone else feel like reading a first draft?


Tuesday, September 06, 2005
the word is
wet on my tongue
warm and writhing
awaiting release

instead, i
smothering breath and
suede-soft skin

until it is


What a beautiful day.


Monday, September 05, 2005
On Losing
I lose everything. Keys. Glasses. Money. Even important things like wedding bands and credit cards. I never worry that I'll find them though, because they always turn up. They'll show up in the most obvious of places almost like magic or divine intervention. As though they'd been playing tricks on me all along.

This is a strange feeling though, losing life. To see red and know that life is slipping from you and there's nothing you can do to stop it; it's surreal. If I'd never seen those two pink lines, this would just be another bloody day in of a lifetime of cycles that come and go. Some heavier, some harder. Some painful.

But this is different, knowing that this is life leaving you.

Cry with your husband. Hug your mother. Watch your baby sleep and thank God for all of the blessings He has given you. Even the ones that hurt.

Then write something. And breathe deeply. Acknowledge the loss...and move forward. There's nothing else to do.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Shoot me.

Thursday, September 01, 2005
Ending August
August ended with Vinnie and I driving away from NH with a fat pile of cash in our laps - and the wonderful but numbing shock that we're going to be parents - again.