Monday, January 30, 2006
What I remember most is sleeping. A thick, warm slumber, like being cozied in a cocoon. Four in the morning, the tender touch of my husbands hand on mine. His palm rubbing small circles on the back of my hand. The green-blue ribbons of vein vibrant beneath my thin skin. The stark room was large and washed in cold florescent light. My arm had slid from beneath the thin blankets and was resting on the chilled metal railing.

Sleeping and waiting. Each hour, to be opened and prodded. Three and a half centimeters at three-thirty. Five at five. The current of my body coarsing forward in unison with the tides of time. Miraculous.

At six, they broke my water, flooding me in warmth. A bath. And an epidural. Shuddering and damp I fell back against the pillows, breathing. Waiting. One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand. Relief. Exhale. And, I fell back into sleep, warm.

At nine, we were ready. He and I, ready for life. Four pushes, maybe five. Easy and natural. I was born to do this, I thought. Though he had done most of the work, sliding himself down the curve of my body, pressing on his own - while I sat, watching a contraction peak in jagged angles across the monitor thinking Thank God for epidurals.

Nine Forty-five. He was on my stomach, streched with his arm beneath his head, a tightly curled fist on my chest - as though I'd given birth to Superman in mid-flight. We all remember this, my mother, husband and I, as though it's a photograph that we can pass between one another and smile upon. His heroic posture belied only by the expression of complete shock on his small face.

Welcome to the world, Little One.

A good friend of mine is giving birth at this hour. I hope she is resting well and listening to her body. I hope that her labor is easy and that her body is strong. I pray that she is as blessed with her little boy as I have been by mine. Praise God for safe labors and healthy babies. For the beauty and miracle of life. For the gift and the journey.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006
A Rant on Recent Reading...
I feel a little like a snob. A book snob, I suppose. Much in the same way that studying film and theater in college made it impossible for me to sit through a production without noticing each flaw, no matter how small - books are ruined for me now too, thanks to this MFA program.

What began as an interesting idea, written in an interesting way (Piccoult's My Sister's Keeper) became predictable and annoying, for me, as I kept turning the pages. Sure, every so often, she'd romance me back with a beautiful turn of phrase - the world between dream and wake being described as clouds caught in the hem's of nightgowns, for example. Every few pages there was another stunning and eloquent twist of words that kept me hooked, leaving me hopeful that things weren't as predictable as I'd thought. Perhaps this will be worth my squandering away naptime's to read.

No such luck. The entire book is about a thirteen-year-old girl's lawsuit to achieve medical emancipation from her parents - so that she won't be required to donate anything more to her sister who is dying of both cancer and kidney failure. (This girl was created, in a petri dish, so to speak, to be a perfect match for her sister.)

So, it raises interesting questions, how far should parents go to save a child? Was it really ok for them to harvest lymphocytes from their five-year-old in order to save their eight-year-old? Should the girl be required to give up a kidney because her parents want her to?

All interesting, thought provoking questions. (Spoiler warning, if you ever plan to read this book, stop reading) She wins the trial. Yay? I guess that's supposed to be the reaction. But for me, this was really where the book started - I felt like great, now we get to see the complicated emotional decision that she'll be forced to make. Save her sister or not? This is vastly more interesting to me than courtrooms and lawyers falling (both in love, and in epileptic fits...but that's a whole other predictable side story I'm not going to talk about.)

Unfortunately, we go directly from the courtroom verdict - to a devastating car accident, that surprise-surprise - leaves the freshly-medically-emancipated thirteen-year-old brain dead! Oh My! What a remarkable twist!


I felt so incredibly cheated. I read this entire book, waiting for someone to make a gut wrenching, life altering decision - only to have a BMW arrive at an intersection at just the right moment to splatter the protagonist's brains against a window (thus making the decision of organ donation FOR her.)

Come on!

I'm not saying that this book is poorly written - just that the ending wasn't written at all. Not a real ending, anyway. Not the ending that I needed to feel some sort of closure with the experience. Go ahead and kill the girl after she makes the decision, if you really want to have someone die - that would've been fine with me. Or maybe have her donate a kidney, and both sisters survive - only to have the girl who fought with cancer her whole life step out in front of a bus. I wouldn't have cared. I just wanted to see the decision made...and not by a speeding car at an intersection, but by one of the character's I'd been reading about for the first two hundred pages.

Of course, this isn't the first time I've come to the end of a book and felt cheated - as though the author has copped out of actually finishing their book. Writing the conclusion to the story without taking a sucker punch and going down to appease an editor or to meet a deadline - or simply for fear of writing the wrong ending. See, no one's guilty of making a bad decision - she was killed, her organ harvested to save her sister, all neat and tidy! Ta-Dah!

Ok. If that's the way you want to end it. Fine.

The unpublished grad student will now step down from her soapbox and admit that this is only her opinion. And that perhaps the person who is actually making a living from their writing might know better how to write a novel.

I just know what I like to read. Book snob or not.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006
A Mella Meme

My first Meme courtesy of Teri:

Four job's I've had:
1.Grocery Clerk in smalltown USA. Bold blue blazer. Bright red bow tie. No sparkles allowed. I was fired for stealing a kiwi - which I did not do.

2. Girl Scout camp counselor. Muggy summer spent making crafts with yarn, glue sticks and tongue depressors. Swimming. Singing. Tents. The whole nine-yards. And yet my strongest memory from the entire summer is simply of eating cinnamon-chip muffins with my sister while we drove to the camp together early in the morning.

3. Coffee girl at a my favorite college haunt. I walked there before sunrise, crunching over ice and snow. Spilled coffee and milk and chocolate all over my clothes. Went home with a ziplock back of nickels, dimes, quarters and a few crumpled bills. Never much, but always more than I thought I deserved for the simple act of serving someone a good cup of coffee with a smile.

4. Administrative Specialist at
Eastern Nazarene College. My first official job and my introduction to the world of office swill, water cooler gossip and living for five o'clock (though I did get to work with a few pretty amazing people.)

Four movies I could watch over and over again:
(I forget movies almost as soon as the credits start rolling - and so I could probably watch most any movie over and over again...but, here are a few off the top of my head:)
1. When Harry Met Sally - it's my sit in bed with PMS (or 1st trimester, or just plain hormonal) sappy-girly-movie.

2. Any of the Christopher Guest Mockumentaries (Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, etc)
3. Everyone Says I Love You - this silly musical always makes me smile.
4. Grosse Pointe Blank - witty and well written script, catchy soundtrack, just plain fun.

Four places I've lived:
1. Smalltown, MA
2. Sighisoara
3. Quincy
4. Nashua

Four websites I visit daily:
1. Lopnet -family email/picture site
2. The blogosphere at large, including, but not limited to the links on the left.
3. Yahoo/Google
4. - in search of a home.

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Hummus with garden ripe tomatoes and dense slices of fresh bread
2. Vegetables
3. Bertucci's Chicken Diavolo pizza, no cheese, no extra oil. With rolls on the side. Yum.
4. Coffee (or anything that is coffee flavored)

Four places I'd rather be right now:
1. In Venice, sitting across from my husband in a Chinese food restaurant sharing a plate of fried pineapple.
2. Summer. Dusk. On the edge of a dock, legs dangling in the water. Mug of coffee. Notebook. Music.
3. The Polynesian Resort at Disney World with my sister and her husband and our kids.

4. In my own house.

Four bloggers I'm tagging:

DavidC (whenever he and his wife return from their fabulous adventures...)

Thanks for the fodder for procrastination Teri - much appreciated.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006
I remember winter as wonderful. Snow storms blanketed the terrain in a cloak of wonder and awe. Small hills became mountainous. Trees became majestic with icicle crowns, limbs bent down, hiding me in their branches. Sap. Dirt. Dead leaves. All fresh and new - cleansed in white.

Snow angels. Forts. Sleds.

Ruddy nose, numb fingers, slush in my socks pinching my skin and melting around my ankles - all forgiven. Winter was magic that way.

It snowed yesterday and I felt the tingle of that 'ol magic rise up in me as I watched my son slap at the windows with glee.

To the sled!

I quickly set about blowing up his inflatable sled and pieced together enough winter clothing to keep him warm. Hand-me down mittens two sizes to big, a pair of snowpants bought at a consignment shop - a hat on sale and boots from a bin of 'old clothing' a former co-worker game me. No matter - we were going out, into the winter wonderland!

Armed with a camera and a smile, I was sweating before we even left the house. Bundling a one year old could be an exercise class taught at a gym. No matter though - we pressed on. With the sled beneath one arm and The Boss hoisted on my hip - we burst through the door and out into the crisp air and the breathtaking white landscape. Right smack dab in the glistening beauty of it all.

...The Boss, however, was not impressed.

This "I can't believe you pulled me away from Blues Clues for this" expression is the one he carried throughout our entire winter-wonderland experience. No smiles. No Giggles. No awe or wonder. Just this.

I pulled him over small hills, down the bumpy street, spun him in circles - and got nothing but this. Bored. Irritated. I believe he even rolled his eyes at me at one point.

Of course, if I was stuffed into enough clothing to suffocate a small animal, I would probably have been just as thrilled.

Oh well. There's always next year.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006
I feel like a marshmallow.

Hovering over an open flame, expanding on the end of a pointed stick, crisped around the edges and sticky-melty-gooey within.

This image of myself has been sliding through my thoughts for the past few days. A slippery little feeling that I can't quite pin down. Could be that I'm approaching that time of the month. Could be the white puffy sweatshirt I was slumping around the house in the other day. Could be the smell of burning branches and leaves coming from my neighbor's fire pit last night - enjoying a bonfire in the midst of the unseasonable warmth. Could be any number of factors.

It's the life-long struggle of Me Vs. Myself. The logical, rational Mella and the one who wants to hide beneath a pile of blankets with half a gallon of ice cream and tell the world to go away.

I want to be invisible. I say mindlessly while flipping through a game of Skip-Bo with my husband, feeling all puffed and swollen and fighting the urge to pull my hair down over my too-round-face. But you can't be, I want to look at you. He says, shuffling the cards, peeking at me as I tip my head down to my arms and peek back.

I smile, but it's half-hearted. He's always sweet in trying to cheer me up when I'm being irrationally down. I ask if he has ever felt like a marshmallow. He hasn't.

While he stacks the cards neatly back into their box, I turn my words over again in my mind. I want to be invisible. They're familiar sounding. Have I thought them before? And as easily as that, a memory emerges. Clouded and dusty - one I've put in the far reaches of my mind and forgotten.

High School. I was attending a national conference for "The Leaders of Tomorrow" in the Hancock building in Boston. I was clearly not in my element - surrounded by boys in suit coats and button up shirts - girls in neat little skirts and sweater sets. All with ambition and drive oozing from their pores. I felt small and lost. I was only there because the representative from our school was chosen by an essay contest. And I wasn't one to turn down a writing contest.

I remember watching a power point presentation surrounded by Alex P. Keaton wanna-be's and regretting ever hearing my name called over the loudspeaker as the Winner.

This is where I first felt myself wanting to disappear. It was a hot little room crowded with teenagers lined in rows like a classroom and a speaker at the front with two whiteboards and a giant pad of paper. The speaker asked us to go around the room and introduce ourselves,row by row, seat by seat. There was the sound of clothes shifting, feet dragging, desks creaking - as all eyes turned to face the student at the first desk, and again as they moved down the rows. Faces turning. Feet shuffling. Necks craning.

I remember the eyes coming down my row - and the throbbing of my heart. My palms sweating. I wasn't listening to anyone else's names - I didn't care where they went to school, what sport they played, what colleges they were applying to. All I wanted to do was blink and make myself invisible.

Not only invisible. I wanted to be gone. An empty seat in the classroom. A lone girl wandering the city streets, heading for her train home. Gone.

Coming back to the table, my husband is still stacking the cards. I'm still slouched in the chair - and wondering why this feeling is emerging now, after years of feeling fine with being visible. My mind surges through a list of ways to fix myself. Go to the gym more. Drink more water. Get up from the table and do sit-ups. Now. Go. Do. Fix.

Instead, I push myself up from the table and come here. To type. To let myself feel what I'm feeling. I'm going to try not to over analyze or blame myself.

No, I'm going to just ride it out. Say shut-up to myself when I need to. And be invisible when I need to. Going forth with the knowledge that this too will pass.

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Friday, January 20, 2006
Since I Began Blogging...
The mundane and ordinary events of my life have been transformed into invaluable and shining moments. Like glass beads, clicking together on an invisible string, some catching sunlight, some clouded and curving back into shadow. I collect them now, watching as they slide over my palms and twist themselves up my arms, around my waist. Clinging to me throughout the day.

Each night, while listening to my husband breath his long sleepy breaths, I sink into myself and begin unraveling the chain of beaded moments from around my body. Counting. Remembering. Imagining each is a story unto itself. Each is a life lived and died in the breath of a moment.

The look of where-the-heck-have-you-been? on The Boss's face as I walk in to pluck him from his crib.

The view of the lake as I walk down the stairs. Its frozen body now pocked with imperfection. The clear gloss of ice has thawed to a chunky mess of rime and downed branches.

Smoothing my palm over the velvety skin of my child's back as he curls into my chest.

Pounding raw-chicken flesh flat with the butt of a jar - slimy juice seeping from the sides of the cutting board and wax paper.

The broom and I, barefoot and waltzing across the living room.

The sink full of soft bubbles that climb my arms and melt, leaving my skin damp and rigid with gooseflesh.

Vivid, but ultimately meaningless moments. Like beads of glass, catching light at just the right angle to capture my attention.

And so, I bring them here.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006
Winter Warrior
The snowman never stood a chance.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Past Due
There's a bill on the table. It's the second notice. The first notice arrived just days before Christmas and was swiftly swept beneath a stack of Things to Do After The Boss's Birthday.

Looking at it now, it's only a thin folded piece of white paper declaring the bold words: Past Due. Harmless enough. Until I unfold it and read the charges. Then it becomes something so cruel. A harsh demand. An mean reminder. Pay us for what we did for you. Give us what little money you have to cover what insurance didn't.

Logically, I know that it's not a lot of money. Our insurance is, thankfully, quite good.

It's just that no matter of money seems a fair price to pay for the procedure that cleaned my womb and broke my heart.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Mmmm...It's Good to Be One!
I've been meaning to put one of these up here for a while...
And here it is, finally - The Boss enjoying his birthday cupcake!


Monday, January 16, 2006
I've turned the memory of Us into the beginning of a slice of fiction.

Books and Such
I have only known her for two years. But if you took every memory, every moment, if you stretched them end to end - they'd reach forever. ~ My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult

The list I gave him was short ~ a nail file, some eye shadow, maybe a tube of lip gloss, and books. I didn't even give him specifics, only two authors that I'd been interested in reading. Anne Tyler and Jodi Picoult. Tyler, because I'd flipped through her novels while standing in a WaldenBooks and found my brief glimpse into her style to be neatly descriptive. Picoult? No real reason. She was a local gal who had done a reading nearby last year (which I missed, despite telling a professor that I'd be there. So, perhaps it was guilty conscious?)

In any event, he bought me a book by each of them for Christmas morning. I took on Tyler first - an easy, uncomplicated read. And this week, I've started My Sister's Keeper by Picoult. I'm on page 75 and struggling.

It's the story of a 13 year old girl seeking medical emancipation from her parents, who was genetically engineered her to be a bone marrow match for her cancerous sister. It's a fascinating story told through the eyes of several characters (including the 13 year old, the lawyer, the mother and the father, etc.)

It's the mother's voice that is making it difficult for me to read. She tells the story of her two-year old daughter's diagnosis - in a blow by blow account of bruises and fevers, viles of blood and IV lines. It's the story of the fragility of life - and of a parent being brought face to face with the unthinkable, unimaginable reality that their child is dying.

Had I read this before The Boss, I would have found it a well-written, interesting page-turner. But, reading it as a parent brings me to my knees.

In my previous life, I was a civil attorney. At one point I truly believed that was what I wanted to be - but that was before I'd been handed a fistful of crushed violets from a toddler. Before I understood that the smile of a child is a tattoo: indelible art. ~ Picoult


Friday, January 13, 2006
Your hand first held my thigh. Slid the length of my leg and rested just above the knee, before our fingers met and palms pressed. A backward introduction - legs before hands.

We were in a packed little room with a small flickering television; friends crumpled together on couches and sprawled across the floor. But we might as well have been alone, up on our couch, our bodies hidden beneath the soft warmth of a flannel blanket.

My fingertips traced the curves of your knuckles and the length of your fingers. I felt the gentle weight of your hard-skinned palm. Your hand cupped mine delicately as though I was porcelain and as fragile as the moment - the beginning of us.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006
Off and Running
The problem with self-imposed deadlines is that they must also be self-enforced.

And there is the rub.

At least, this is my finding, as I'm stumbling out of the gate in the race to my latest self-imposed deadline. Actually, I've given myself two deadlines, based on two of Glimmer Train's upcoming contests. One is to have a completed and fairly well polished very short piece of fiction by the end of the month. And the other is to have a completed and polished longer piece by the end of March.

The contests themselves are almost irrelevant. They've given me date's to mark on my calendar, is all. I'm not entering with fingers and toes crossed - and I won't be holding my breath as the winners are announced. No, I'm entering, because it's a step in the right direction. I'm easing myself into the process of submitting my work for brutal rejection, or perhaps worse, blatent indifference. (This isn't a knock on myself or my abilities - I'm just preparing myself for what I've been warned the world of submitting writing is like.) you see what I'm doing here? This isn't striving toward my goals. There is no writing or revising happening. Oh, sure, the documents are open, only a click away on my desktop. But, no, instead I'm squandering the fleeting moments of quiet during The Boss's morning nap by slowly sipping strong coffee and typing on a blog.

Since setting the deadlines for myself, I've written three entries here. I've added links. I've typed out 100 (rather incoherant) little bits about myself, in cliche blogger style (and linked to it, of course.) I've checked my email (repeatedly), and searched through the latest online house listings in our area. It seems there are always a million window's open on my desktop during these morning naps, and I never click on the one I should.

Must focus. January 31st. 2,000 words. One tight little story. I can do this.

And I'm off...


Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Poor Baby
The Boss doesn't know what he wants. He toddles to his corner and pauses to whine at the window. He moans while sitting down beside the toy chest. He rubs his eyes with drooly little fists. He's tired, but won't sleep. He's bored, but won't play. He's thirsty, but won't drink. He's miserable. His fingers slide in and out of his mouth, poking at swollen gums.

One-year molars - right on time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006
News from Small Town America
I saw an old teacher of mine on the news the other night. It was the mug shot of a bedraggled old man. He was crumpled and defeated - layers of sagging skin and fat washed white in a bath of florescent light. The story behind the wrinkled, puffy eyed picture: child abuse. Rape, is the word used to describe the alleged crime in the local papers.

I come from a small town. Downtown is two one-way streets that meet in a Y by the corner of an old mill. The public high school is two hallways, one stacked on another, housing enough classrooms for grades 8-12. I graduated with less than 60 other students. Many of my former classmates still live in town - working at the new offices that have been built in the remodeled mill landmark.

They still walk the two one-way streets, eating at the same sandwich shops or at the McDonald's - the only fast food to be had in town. They have settled alongside their parents and their aunts and uncles and their grandparents. It's the type of town that you're born in, you live in and eventually, you die in. Case in point: the middle-aged officer, who arrested the teacher, was a former student of his.

It's a place where roots run deep, sunk firmly alongside the muddy banks of a slowly churning river. Headlines reading: Beloved Teacher Accused of Rape send shockwaves. Violent, rippling ones - shattering the quiet, droll life of a town stuck in itself.

News teams wondering the streets, poking their nosey microphones in the faces of shocked citizens How do you feel about Mr. So-and-So and the rape allegation against him? They don't understand, that in a town like this - they might as well be asking How do you feel about Uncle Charlie touching your neighbor? The town is knit too tight for outsiders with lights and cameras and questions.

And yet - someone, born and raised beneath the shadow of the 'ol Clock Tower was bold enough to shout the accusation: He Raped Me.

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Sunday, January 08, 2006
The Show
Black box theater. Sold out and shoulder-rubbing room only. We were lucky enough to find three seats together and even more so, in the second row.

Before the show begins, I let myself a moment to indulge in the gloom of it all. Black-brick. Black stage. Black floor and seats. I settle on the black curtains that hang before us and I realize that I don't even need to close my eyes to see what only ever
haunts me in the final moments between dream and wake.

I blink. Breath. Make myself listen to the scattered murmurings of the audience surrounding me. Within moments the stage is just a stage. The curtains, only black.

I see the memory of my former self, sitting just one seat forward, hardly more than a year ago. Rounded and uncomfortable - with life pushing and turning inside me as the concert rose to crescendo. I let myself remember what it was to rest my palms on my drum tight stomach and how my lips curved with each sharp, sliding movement that rolled through me. My own private concert.

The lights dim until we are swallowed in black. Tonight, I am without my concert. We're here to see nine one-act's, one of which stars my aunt the Dancer -a natural to the stage. Ever graceful. Ever confident. We are witness to her acting debut, at fifty.

She's smooth. A success. And, she comes to say hello during intermission. So, what's new? The three of us shrug and joke, what isn't new? It's been months since we've seen her. Her elegant arm reaches to my knee, Well, you're pregnant.

Silence. I look to my mother. Nothing. My sister. Nothing. I was... I finally muster. Dancer-turned-Actress turns red, even in the dark. Her long fingers cover her lips, muffling the rain of sorry, so sorry, I'm so... Stumbling like she's onstage and forgotten her line. She keeps going, bumbling,
I must be thinking of someone else...someone who just told me they were pregnant...I must...

I smile politely. Breath. And look at my nails. Breath. The cuticles are a mess. Breath. Straighten wedding band.
Do not cry.

Finally, the conversation is dragged elsewhere, but I've stopped listening and eventually she slips away. Breath. The lights fade. Breath.

And the show goes on.

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Friday, January 06, 2006
Behind the Scenes
This is what The Boss has been up to whilst I've been riding that wave of words:

Imagine that little smattering of fruitloops, only larger. Like an ocean of crunchy cereal rings - With The Boss munching away in the center, King of Fruit Loop Island. We (I) had a little fun with the crumbs (1/3 less sugar - but just as messy) before lugging out the vacuum.

On the Verge
Something is stirring. Spilling. No, gushing.

Maybe it's the sleep I managed to get last night (amazing how much easier it is to get yourself to bed when you turn off the computer and cuddle with your loved one on the couch) - or maybe it's because I've been avidly flipping through literary magazines submission guidelines. Maybe it's because I've given myself a deadline of having a completed draft of a story by the end of the month.

Whatever the cause, I'll take it. After weeks (months?) of tedious plodding, the Dam has been breached and I could surf on the ocean of words that's pouring from my mind.

A word flood.

I don't even care if I make a mess all over the page. I can drag out the mop later.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

How am I supposed to get anything done with these pleading eyes following me, begging for just a moment more of my time?

I'm going to be honest - I don't fight it anymore. Nothing really gets done during the day.

Sure, there are sporadic moments of cleaning - sweeping cracker crumbs and washing sippy cups, random dishes - getting down on my hands and knees to wipe drooly handprints from the hardwood floors (and some days, I'll even clean myself, if I'm lucky...not today.) In stolen moments, during a nap - or if he can be entertained for a moment or two (or five or ten...) I can shoot off a few emails, read a few pages. Skim some news. Feel like an adult before he tugs on my sleeve.

Of course, I love bouncing him on my hip or watching his eyes follow the pages of the books as I read them to him. And, I love being witness to his daily discoveries and triumphs (nodding as he giggles over what fun that can be had with gravity and peas...holding back a hushed gasp as he catches himself from falling - something learned after months of kissing his bonked and bruised head.) And, I love that he clings to my sleeve when Memere or Uncle try to take him from me. And, that he follows me everywhere, with one hand always nervously lingering within fingertip grasp of my pantlegs. These are the moments I'm taking with me. Forever moments.

And I've even been getting some writing done lately. The only thing I'm really missing is sleep.

I've become a creature of the night.

I am more nocturnal now than when he was crying for me at 1 and 3 and 5 in the AM. Last night, I was up working on various stories and mashing a pile of thoughts together that wound up here, until the early hours of the morning. All to the rhythm of my husbands long sleepy breaths rising from the couch behind me.

But, these are the only hours I have - the hours between The Boss's bedtime and mine. And I will wring them dry - typing and thinking and reading and doing whatever can't be done when my sleeve is getting tugged.

Unfortunately, his bedtime is a fairly consistant 8 O'clock, while mine has been sliding deeper and deeper into the dark. This leaves us on opposite ends of the sleeping-curve when morning comes. Around the time that my husband wakes for work, The Boss is stirring, and I'm pulling blankets to my face, covering my ears, nuzzling my nose into the warm material and holding my breath. Waiting for it.

The dreaded click of our bedroom door as my husband slips out in the morning. It's the shotgun that starts my day.

It's getting harder to drag my heavy limbs from the bed. And my mind is worse. It's still soggy and slow - clogged in dream-murk that won't clear until at least twenty minutes after I've brought The Boss downstairs and set our morning routine in motion.

Come to think of it, my recent nostalgic musings about college-life can probably be attributed, at least in part, to this state of sleep deprivation. It was a way of life for me back then. Molasses mornings following late-late nights. We didn't even get started until after midnight.

Of course, our mornings didn't start at 6:30 with a bright and chirping baby. With a load in his pants. That's always the kicker.

I'm pretty sure that I will never look back on cleaning baby poo - before I've even swept the sleep from my eyes - with warmfuzzymommy nostalgia.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Wee-Morning Musings...
We met at our old haunt. A chain Italian restaurant with free bread and oil for dipping - perfect for cheap dates in college. Drink water, split a pizza - and keep the bread comin'.

Back then, we would drive together, piled in a heap of a car, pressed against windows, rubbing jacket sleeves, and buzzing about how many of the warm rolls we could stomach in a sitting.

Dinner tonight was different. It was arranged via cell phones and emails. Each couple arrived in their own car, from various locations - some from an hour's drive away. We gathered at a long rustic table, two baskets of rolls - to say goodbye to a friend leaving for the West Coast.

He rode around Europe with me - on that
trainride to Poland. Over the length of our journey, he mused about various poems and theater productions - a traveling theater company he hoped to start - scripts he planned to write.

We spent 150 hours, unbroken, together. He did the math when our travels ended, in the living room of a Romanian family's modest house. 150 hours of talking and silence. Of Polish madmen hucking Coke bottles from train windows and sleeping on stinky house boats. 150 hours of genuine, pure, unadulterated, friendship. When we finally parted ways, we knew each other deeply. Beyond words.

And even I couldn't have predicted this. My real life Peter Pan is engaged and moving to the opposite coast - to start an MBA program, of all things.

Another college friend got married this past weekend in Minnesota. She and I met in the haphazard flurry of Freshman year - the rush to accumulate friends - to not go to dinner alone. One of my first true friends from that life, one of my bridesmaids - and we missed her wedding because of a stack of bills - and that
breakdown a few weeks ago (best estimate thus far? $4,000. I hate cars.)

I've been mulling over the changes lately. How much we've grown. Changed. Moved. Georgia. Pennsylvania. California. Minnesota. The recent engagements. The upcoming babies. The weddings. The cross-country moves. The dispersing of my circle of friends as we spread throughout the country and sink deeper into the thick of our busy lives. No time for phone calls. Hardly anytime for emails anymore. No time to pile in a car and split pizza's. We're stretching to the point of fingertips on keyboards.

But, sitting tonight with a handful of us that remain local, time seemed to slow to a distant chug - hardly pulling us any further apart than we were five years ago. My Peter Pan sat across from me, his arm curved behind the chair of his fiancee, a wide smile on his face. He's neatly groomed - hair clean, cheeks shaved, shirt tucked. A polished and buffed model of the unkempt boy who travelled 150 hours with me. But his smile's the same. As is the sparkle behind his eyes. MBA? Maybe. But Peter Pan still lives.

And that gives me hope for myself. That somewhere, behind my tired eyes and beneath the rough skin on my knuckles (from a million or so scrubbings a day - post diapers, post feedings, etc,) despite layers of bland black shirts and straight-from-the-discount-rack jeans - somewhere beneath it all (the sleepy-mommy, the bedgraggled wife), there's still a glimmer of the girl with a sticker beside her eye, scuffed Doc Martin's, and a pair of patched pants - with a ticket to somewhere in her back pocket.

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Monday, January 02, 2006
We walked for hours. In the night, in the wind. Over damp roads and beneath strings of white lights. Sparkling stars, ten-feet high, dangled over intersections and lit our path as we wandered aimlessly through the city.

We slept until ten. Both days.

We bought fresh bread from a
24 hour bakery in the North End. We ate it in the morning; dipped the doughy center in a sticky sweet jar of jam and dusted the messy sheets with the crumbs.

We strolled through the
Isabella StuartGardner Museum. We ooh'd and ah'ed over Rembrandt's Self Portrait. And we giggled at paintings we shouldn't have giggled at. We could have spent all day lifting the velvet sheaths and pointing at the signatures of Washington and Franklin and Marie Antoinette - hiding in glass cases, smudged with fingertip prints.

But, we had to eat.

And so we ate. We spent money we don't have, on food we normally wouldn't dare, in restaurants we never visit. And it all tasted wonderful.

In an attempt to find the fitness center in our hotel, we got locked in a staircase and felt like a sitcom couple, climbing down twelve flights of stairs - hooking tired hands on locked knobs, hoping that they might budge.

We wasted time, wandering through red-ticket stacks in bookstores. Bought books. Bought games. (All on sale, of course, of course.)

He watched bowl games while I read from my stocking-stuffer novels.

It was entirely wonderful.

Coming home now - the bills are here (and bigger.) The Boss is needy and scared to fall asleep (afraid he'll wake and find us gone - again.) And, we all go back to work in the morning. House hunting. Post-Holiday cleaning. Budget balancing. Boss-entertaining-feeding-changing-hugging-loving.

But still. It's good to be home.

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