Tuesday, October 31, 2006

mixed messages

Am I rotten for not wanting to take M trick or treating? The way I see it is for 364 days of the year I don't want her taking candy from strangers and yet I'd be professing it in all it's glory on Halloween.

Hey, go up to that ghoul and pimp out some chocolate that I won't even let you eat, kid.

Seems like a bad mommy move. Or maybe it's just me. She can wear her costume and run around the house instead.

Oh, and I almost forgot this. I heart Canada and the fantastic community over at UrbanMoms. You'll note I had my priorities less in order last year (hence the candy basket)

Poetry roundtable post coming tomorrow, sisters.

Monday, October 30, 2006

deep red peace

We had a lovely time, a couple of vineyards, a terrific massage, and some delicious food and drink. Altogether too short..but I am grateful for what it was.

It's always such a blessing to take a moment apart, and then come crashing back like a horse to the stable, for even in the short break I missed M, and with it the knowledge that I can never really go back to who I am, because my heart walks around beside me now, and I need it to breathe.

I toasted you with a 2002 merlot (I've never quite mustered up the capacity to enjoy the earthiness of cab) and thought again of how fortunate I am to have this still new and shiny place where we can gather.

I am toying with the idea of a freeflowing poetry roundtable - where we'd each write a line (in the comments) that flows from the previous, and after 24 hours call it good and I'll post our creation.

Let me know if you might be game. Because if so, game on.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

the wisdom of obedience

It's clear from the tone of my recent posts that I've been a bit weary, and that rejuvenation was in order. Many of your generous and lovely comments spoke to the same...and the fantastically amazing thing is that I am getting one tomorrow.

J-Dog and I are heading up to the wine country. M is staying with people who love her, and we are affording ourselves 24 hours of alone time, complete with massages, mineral baths and a big comfy bed. And some deep red wine, of course.

I promise to toast you, my soulful spirit sisters and brothers. Maybe one day we'll all gather round one of our porches and drink wine together. I am betting Mad has a good spot, as does Meno, and of course, Neen.

It's a sweet little fantasy of mine. And in turn, of course, I'd love to hear one of yours (just like we'd do if we were all on that porch, a cosmic give and take of energy and delight).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

down the rabbit hole

This one's for you, Thailand Gal.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted something different. And until recently, I haven't known where that might lead. And while I can muster up some courage occasionally, I still like to have some sort of a plan. Or at least an escape route.

But when the crisis is spiritual, having a plan is much harder to come by.

Simply put - my spirit is incongruent to life in the US. The capitalism, the production and consumption and pursuit of the individual simply does not work for me. I realize it works quite well for some, and moderately well for others. And that is fine. If it works for you, that works for me. Because at the bottom of each day and belief and word that I speak I geniunely hope for the happiness and peace of heart for others. It's one of the things I truly hope and wish for. I'm happy if you are happy, because life is blessed struggle enough without other people chiming in. Period.

But this place doesn't make me happy. What does make me happy is indigenous culture. And open space. And community based mentality. And less technology. And markets on the sides of roads. And growing your own food. And not going to war. And not destabilizing third world countries for a selfish gain.

So for me, jumping into the void is having the courage to turn my back on all the things I was taught I was supposed to want and to give it all up for a life of precious little in the way of material goods and long term financial security. And to feel that I am being courageous in doing so. And while still believing I am a good mother for doing it to M.

But it still scares me. And sometimes I interpret that fear to be a sign. Danger. Bad Mommy. Suck it up and deal. Don't you know how blessed you are. No place is perfect. Get over it. Quit yer bitchin'.

But then I feel sick all over again. Because when the crisis is spiritual it doesn't let you forget, and it doesn't lie dormant for long. Our spirits crave peace and harmony, and mine is hungry, and gnawing on my bones. And the ache keeps me awake late into the night, searching for that wrong-eyed jesus.

A slow sort of country! Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to stay in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run twice as fast as that.—Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

chickfest

Madame Chick has called for a lovefest. And Madame Chick shall get one.

I agree with others - it is so difficult to pick just one. But from the moment I read her post, I knew I would write about i obsess , not because I am not madly in love with several others. (Mad, Momish, Crazymum, Bar Kicky, Doggy, Lucia, Kiki, Meno, Bad, Maiden, Tab, yes, I am talking about you) but because Queen Obsess got me started blogging and she doesn't even know it.

I lurked for months before starting my own blog, fascinated by the whole gig and still unsure if it was for me, and I Obsess was one of the first blogs I stumbled onto. I ate hers up like one would eat wonton soup with a perfect ceramic spoon - until one day I finally thought I could give it a try. And then I stopped lurking and started commenting at spots I liked, but for some reason felt almost intimidated over at I/O.

You know when you are in a new school and that one girl is so pretty, and everyone likes her, and her locker has the best stickers, and her jeans fit just right? And so you'd walk by and hope she'd look at you but was always busy helping a disabled kid up the stairs or running a pep rally so you never got a chance to catch her attention? Yep, that's her. And I was the shy geeky girl who chewed her pigtails.

And then (believe it or not), I calmed down and allowed the superficial admiration to churn into something more real and would find myself time and time again, awed and inspired and moved, as much as before. This woman really cares about life. She feels and breathes and takes things seriously and with ball breaking humor and naked honesty all at once. And she can be conflicted - she might struggle over how much she can give, and how that might let others down, and she does it in such a way that you feel warm inside all the way through. A way that says all will be well, no matter what.

And lastly, she makes you want to be a better writer. To attempt to feel and articulate and embrace the real and the honest and the magical. She's brought whimsy to my sometimes darkened mind, she's inspired me to try and write fiction, and she's shown me countless times that mothering can be looked at from so many different angles, some broken, some shiny and new, but always, always, real.

And when all of that should be entirely enough....then came piratey ballooney embroidered baby shirts.

I heart I Obsess.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

choice

I often forget that I have choice. That I am not relegated to mother, worker, partner, do-er. I place inordinate amounts of pressure on myself to keep the balls in the air, to have all the answers, to keep the train on it's course.

While this may sound like control, trust me when I say it's colored a bit differently. For me, it's shades of self definition, of shame, of insecurity. As if I truly MUST do these things in order to retain my worth. That if I don't keep my agreements, I will be letting others down. And that is something I have a very hard time doing.

Lately I am tipping the breaking point. I am no longer able to keep myself in order. I am frayed at the edges and coming loose at the seams. I've lost my creativity and I fear my passion is next. So I poured a large glass of red wine and tried to explain myself, through tears, to J-Dog tonight. His solution was to skip over what I was feeling, and to focus on what I can do. Change jobs, move, and so on. Good ideas. Really. Let me get right the fuck on that, right after I am done falling down.

Unfortunately, that is not what I need tonight. So I've taken my big glass of wine, shut myself in a seperate room, lit some candles, and turned my thoughts inward (and to you). I am listening to the Innocence Mission, a band I haven't turned on in a decade. And I am remembering who I used to be.

I know that I am not stuck. I know I will find my way. What I yearn for is the inner courage to push the magic button and step into the void. The unknown next road, perhaps less travelled, or maybe crowded along the way. It doesn't much matter and that part is rather sweet.

I am going to be shaking things up, as it's become a matter of survival rather than desire. And once I wrap my arms around it, I know I will be able to embrace it for the journey it is. And I'll share the love.

But tonight I need to be still, and cry, and be afraid. Morning will come soon enough.

PS.
I can't thank you all enough for your response to my last post. What an honor to be amongst all of you.
I am in awe - and you remind me that we can change the world, or at least kick it in the shin on the side of good.

Monday, October 23, 2006

If only Darfur had oil

I know I recently said I avoid getting political here, but I can't help myself.

60 Minutes did another piece on Darfur last night. If you didn't see it, you can learn all you need to know (or that you already know) at Save Darfur. What I did NOT know (and maybe I am the last) is that the current U.S. administration is soft on the Sudanese government because they pass along information, drips and drabs on our current "war against terror" because at one time the cats there housed the same cats who have waged terror against the U.S. And that quid pro quo is something we are apparently willing to protect.

2.5 million people are displaced. 400,000 people have died. But at least we give them some lentils.

It's so easy to pontificate what should be done from my computer, inside my home with my child sleeping safely and with a full stomach. It's so easy for me to get distracted, to forget that hundreds of thousands of children are dying, are terrified, are hungry and alone. It's so easy to be full of one's self.

It's hard to understand why we are sitting passive during the worst genocide of our lifetime (aside from Pol Pot following Nixon's destabilization of Cambodia). It's so hard to understand how I spend my days doing nothing about this. And it's so hard to understand that there is a part of the world that is engaged in unspeakable horror and we can sit by and let it happen.

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those of us, who in great moral crisis, sit and do nothing.

I am going to contribute to Save Darfur. If you are compelled to do the same, let me know, and I'll match it (to a certain amount - on the off chance one of you is a secret heiress). It might not be much, but it's something, and like I said a few days ago, rage is better suited to action than to words.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

defying gravity

It must have been the good vibes floating around from so many of you, because remarkably, I am very on the mend. Thank you.

Now on to the random bits:

J-Dog has to pull an all-nighter tonight. When enough people call in sick and the place still needs a minder, it falls to him to go in. It's one of those rare cases where shit actually rolls up hill. And while I am sorry that he must endure a wakeful night baked in hallucinations I am secretly delighting in having the whole bed to myself. Does that make me evil? Maybe so, but I'll make up for it, so read on.

Madame Chick posted last week about recognizing folks before they are gone - in short, she's put out a call to speak to that one blog you can't keep away from - the one (and while there are many, yes) the one that knocks you flat, has you doubled on the floor, or sitting absolutely still with tears in your eyes. It's at Mrs. Chicky's lovefest and you can read about it at length. It's a good reminder - so many folks are closing up shop and once they decide to do so, they hear all about how their blog meant so much, and I'd imagine it makes that going bittersweet when it should be triumphant. Honoring others with a grateful heart is about as golden as one can get. Kind of like not waiting till the funeral and such. If it speaks to you, check it out.

See, I told you I'd make up for the bed hogging thing. Or not. But I am still taking all the pillows and sleeping dead center.

illin'

I've developed some bizarre illness this weekend - utter exhaustion and a fever - no other symptoms. But the exhaustion is so rich, so perfect, that it is literally driving me to bed and to sleep for hours on end. I am not a napper so this is a very unique experience, indeed.

Suffice to say I am retreating as much as is humanly possible when one has a two year old - or otherwise known as not nearly enough.

What makes you feel better when you are sick? And how do you find the rest you need with a toddler?

Friday, October 20, 2006

fallen trees

The Original Perfect Post Awards


I make a point of not getting too political here. Not because I don't care, but because I care so very deeply that it can bring me to a rage. And rage, while a useful emotion in the right context, is better suited to action than words.

But then sometimes it all gets to be a bit too much.

I was interviewed on a local cable channel tonight for a segment on raising community awareness to local issues, and after sitting through the goofy sound check, the piped in music, and sitting idly while the host ran through his spin 5-6 times before it was "a take" I was asked about homelessness - and if it's getting any better.

Yes, I realize this was a dumb question, but I was not the one asking.

So my answer was, no, it's not. And it's not because federal minimum wage levels are nowhere near what they need to be, there is an utter lack of affordable child care, and millions of people have no health insurance. It is not better because there is not and will never be enough affordable housing, and it is not because the federal agenda is keen on slashing domestic policies/doling out special interest/keeping themselves rich as fast as it can.

One in six children in this country live below the poverty line. Some kids don't eat all day long, and more sleep in uninhabitable places at night. And yet this silent tragedy goes largely unnoticed. Sure, the holidays bring out some good philanthropy and cheer (those homeless folks LOVE to eat on Thanksgiving) but what about their hunger in February?

A friend of mine died recently. He had been on the streets for much of his life - in fact, when I first met him he was living under bridges feeding the trees. He had a strong relationship with trees and felt the need to provide for them - so after offering my own lunch to the branches of the oak he was under we were able to start a relationship. Through some small miracles I was eventually able to find him a place to live - and he lived there for a number of years - never solving his mental health issues, never "turning his life around" but living in a small place with food, and blankets, and heat. When he first moved in he invited me over and he said that he had never had a place to call home before, and that he could die right now and feel like he had fully lived. Just because he had a home of his own.

This man taught me a lot over the years through his goodness and simple grace. And his incredibly curious and photogenic mind. I loved this man in a way that I haven't loved many others.

Not too long ago he died in his sleep. I'll never know how, as indigent autopsies are not a priority. So when I got the call that he was found dead, I asked the person overseeing the complex to not call the police until I arrived (they tend to muck things up and be very by the book about things like this). I wanted to have a quiet moment with him, because this man will not have a funeral. He will not have a marker of his life, or a legacy to leave to his children.

Instead, he simply went quietly into that goodnight. He was lying neatly into his bed, his hands folded under his head in a gesture of sleep, and if not for the absolute stillness I might have thought it was all a mistake.
He was only 37 years old, but life had not been kind to him, and it took it's toll.

I sat next to him and gently covered him with a blanket and asked the gods and the trees to bless him and keep him, this very good man with a very hard life. And a few of us were able to offer small murmurs to each other, for his neighbors are similar to him, and this is their future, and they know it. And so do we.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

the mini crime scene

So....

I came home from work yesterday to a mostly naked M, and a chagrined J-Dog, who, as I walked in the door, said "I fucked up". And pointed into the house.

As I tendered my gaze across the living room, I say, idiotically "what?" and J-Dog says "I'm really sorry".

So far, this is not looking so good - neither for what is coming next or incidentally, our highly astute conversational skills.

And then I see it. The mini-crime scene. And then I notice M has splatter marks as well. "Did something come in the house and need to be killed?" And then it finally becomes clear. Nail polish. Red nail polish all over our supposed to be whitish carpet.

Me: "um, what the hell?" (Again, our vernacular is spectacular).

Apparently J-Dog thought it to be a good idea to paint M's toes. She likes it. That I understand - we've (oh fuck it, I'VE) painted M's toes w/ the palest pink, or glitter, occasionally. But harlot red has never been in the equation. Nor is M allowed to hold the bottle.

Me: "what the hell?" (yes, I know, but I was struggling)

Apparently (sorry to use that word twice to start a sentance, but it fits and I'm leaving it) J-Dog also thought it ok to GIVE M the nail polish bottle while he "took care of something" because he had "no idea she could open the bottle".

This child practically drives our car. And cooks dinner. She's a maniac, and can figure out just about anything. Especially if that something can cause great bodily harm. This is not new information.

And it's not just a little spill. It's the whole bottle, in about 10 places all over the living room rug. Not in a place that can be covered up easily. And did I mention it is harlot red?

And then the best part: M eagerly dragging me over, and in her lispy babbling way says "Dada spill. Me clean". Good one, M. Covering one's ass is a useful skill and I am so glad you've already learned that practically before you can even speak.

Monday, October 16, 2006

pardon me while i pick myself up off the floor

I don't know what I expected, if anything, when I started blogging. I knew I needed an outlet, and I knew I wanted to find my voice in a different way. Once I got started, I was intrigued and inspired by so many other writers, and then, as time passed, a small community began to form. And it was very good.

But I truly had no idea that I would ever be the recipient of such amazing kindness, compassion, and brilliance. I stand awed and humbled by the beauty of your words and support. I know now that this is what I truly was looking for: A place to test the waters, to explore and reclaim bits of self, and to move proudly forward. Your presence has allowed that to happen. And it is very, very good.

Thank you doesn't come close. But thank you anyways.

That said, I took my words and post to J-Dog yesterday. He had heard the story before, but was unaware of how it was manifesting itself now in regards to the raising of M. And true to form, he spoke from a different angle and made perfect sense, so I wanted to bring that back to you.

He reminded me of a story about the Dalai Lama. He was asked his opinion on a topic and freely offered it. He was asked the same question again a few weeks later, and had an different answer. When he was called on it, he said something to the effect of "That was my answer then, and this is my answer now. It is different because I am different. I am not the same person I was then".

Hello. Exactly. I am not the same person I was back then either, and of course, in the now, I can have different answers, and better yet, I get to feel differently about it. I. get. to.

I realize how simple that sounds, but it shook me up and spun me around.

We all have the power to change how we let things affect us. And for me, something about this started right here with all of you. And all of that makes me want to kick some ass.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

unprotected youth

I was almost abducted when I was six years old. I was walking back home from school after a fishing expedition (I used to take orange tic tacs and tie them to string and fish down storm drains) when a white station wagon pulled up next to me. The man (the old fat white man with the blue striped shirt) leaned over and opened the passenger side door, and leaned towards me. I stopped and went over to the car, and when I did he leaned over, reached for me, and said "get in". And I turned, and ran like hell. I remember the tic tacs in my pocket, the shaking of the box was so loud that my head was full of it and I can still remember it now.

I ran all the way home and into my front door screaming for my mother. Out of breath, crying, I told her what had happened. She looked at me and said "that didn't happen". And that was all she said.

That. Didn't. Happen. The next day I was scared to walk to school. I remember my mother getting so angry, and telling me she was not going to drive me, that I needed to stop being such a baby. I remember abject fear and helplessness. At that moment I knew no one would take care of me, that it was up to me to keep me safe.

I ran to and from school, as fast as six year old legs would go, for as long as I could remember. As a teenager, I was terrified to walk alone - and by then we'd moved into a remote mountain town, abandoned cabins were everywhere. Perfect hiding places for the bad men, and the bad men were always behind me, in the car in front of me, walking down the street. I feared all of it, because I had no idea how to keep myself safe, and I had no one to rely on, and I didn't know how to rely on myself.

As I grew, I went from one relationship to another. I wanted someone to protect me, and I looked in a lot of corners, some dirtier than others, on my never-ending pursuit. And some of that chipped away at some of me a little more.

The strange thing is - I haven't thought about this in years, but Crazymum's posts have brought it all back. And interestingly enough, I wept about this today, for the first time probably ever as an adult, and certainly as a mother, and I am glad, because I've illuminated a dark shadow in my mind, a part that will influence my relationship w/ M, and has influenced my relationship w/ J-Dog, and has long made the world a scarier place than maybe it should be, and has made me a little less secure and a little less loud.

How can one bring up a warrior if she herself never learned to fight? How can I protect M when I never quite learned how to make sure that I, myself, was safe? How can I teach her to scream NO when I fear I have lost my own voice? So much of that and more continues to rattle around inside my head, so much so, that I need to stop for now, and perhaps revisit it again later when I am not so increasingly self-conscious about how all of it might sound.

Our pillaged village

I just noticed Mad's post about the thievery going on over at Bitfuckers, and she was kind enough to point out that my site has been pilfered as well. Sure enough, they did. I choose not to type their name as to not promote them an iota more (or an iota more than they've already stolen and polluted with advertisements)

Stupid bastard fucks.

Mad said it perfectly so I see no need to rant on further. And I so hate giving them the satisfaction (um, right, like they would give a damn).

Bad karma, you greedy boys and girls. Very bad karma.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

three small things

I am having somewhat of a difficult week. But I am thankful enough to know that even my darkest week is still so very bright, and in that space of knowing, i've tried to keep a grateful heart. And i am almost there. Weary, but almost there.

And then i pondered - if i was able to manifest three small things today, things that are small yet big only as they are not so feasible as distance and space and time permits - then what would they be?

I'd drink an ice cold dos equis on the beach in baja, take M to scout out some bugs and roll around on the grass at our favorite baylands spot, and then later, stop over at N's place to watch the sun slip under the earth with a couple of bottles of deep red wine.

And in that, my thoughts turned to you.

So you, you lovely writers of strong and powerful words, if you could choose one small and unexpected morsel of grace today, what would it be?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

monsoon with chicken

So there we were: it's 10am, the sun in shining, it's 120 degrees, and we have no idea where the hell we are.

The bus driver abruptly kicked us off the bus and drove off, with the gorgeous children waving out the window. We stood for a moment on the curb to get our bearings, and realized we were indeed fucked. Time to find the bus station. We figured we were somewhere in southern/central Thailand, and we needed to be on the southwestern coast. We had arranged to meet some friends from the states at a bar on an island in 24 hours, and had no way of reaching them.

Our second realization was that we were not on the tourist track - none of the signs were in English, there were no "travel agents" or "taxis". We would walk patriotically up to shop owners with stupid grins and the Lonely Planet outstretched, only to be greeted and offered a purse or a rambutan, but no found no translation or even feigned interpretation. We were on our own. We tried for 3 hours to find the bus station to no avail. Yes, it was listed in the Lonely Planet, No, we could not find it. Yes, we think that is rather odd, too.

We were hot, tired, pissed; keep repeating those and that would about sum it up.

We were finally able to negotiate a ride to the coast on a mini-bus. The ride was 3 hours long (not bad) and cost quite a bit (pretty bad). Problem was, the bus didn't leave till it was full, and full was hours away. The "mini-bus" was an old VW van, and had seats for 8. Apparently 13 could fit if you really worked at it. And a chicken. And off we went.

The driver was a madman, swerving around buffalo, dogs, cars, and people. Driving well over 60 around blind corners, using his horn continuously to alert folks we were barreling towards them. And then a monsoon struck, and we were pummelled with water and wind and well, if the van is a rockin'....no one's getting the hell off.

So I did the only reasonable thing left to do, which was again, go to sleep. It was either that, or hyperventilate onto the chicken.

We somehow made it to the coast safe and sound. Now all we had to do was find a place to sleep and we were golden. Except all the guesthouses were full. That had never happened to us before on our entire trip. We probably could have taken a bus to the next town, but we were so tired, and so worn, and so terrified of where public transport might lead that we just couldn't bring ourselves to do it.

One of the guesthouse owners took pity on us and charged us $2 to sleep in her foyer. You know, the kind with dirty tile floors and 24 hour flourescent lights and lots of bugs buzzing around the light because there are no doors. Weird things happen in Thai foyers at 3am. Things we shall not speak of. But eventually morning was broken.


Now all we needed to do was find a boat.

I forgot to mention the dessert course earlier. Hope you left some room.

Monday, October 09, 2006

night of grace

J-Dog is quiet tonight. He has held onto M a bit longer than usual, and has folded himself into my arms in a way he rarely does. He witnessed an absence of hope today, and he is weary.

A client at his work slowly tried to kill himself last night. He took a disposable razor to his neck and chipped slowly away at skin and vein until his bed and walls and floor resembled a crime scene. He spent all night slowly and quietly bleeding to almost death, and if not for the woman who entered his room early this morning, he'd surely be gone. The woman asked him if she could borrow some money, and the man, this dear man, handed his wallet over in the dark and said that she could have whatever was in his wallet. It was dripping with blood.

J works at a voluntary psycho-social rehab for folks who struggle with chronic mental illness. It's not a locked facility, but in this level of care he sees a lot of human suffering. We both do, and when it's on a daily basis, somehow poverty, illness and pain takes on a bit of normalcy - it's like an old friend, or a comfortable shirt - and we don't always take note of it as we should. But once in a while someone's suffering is so profound, so absent of hope, that it startles us back into remembering what we see every day, and of the simple grace we've been afforded.

J-Dog is quiet tonight. And there aren't many words anyways, once the plot has been hatched and the story comes to an end. But the loneliness of this precious man has touched us both. Knowing that someone laid awake last night slowly willing himself to die, quietly and hopelessly alone, has also quieted us. What is profound is the silence. And the other silence that lurks inside all of us, that some of us wrestle with more deeply, at 2am, and at 4am, the clock ticking slowly, there but for the grace of god go we.

i haven't forgotten about pt. 3. it's still in the wok and will be served up shortly.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

all that and a side of rice

After a bit of recovery we headed south towards the islands. After a week or so of jumping around some gorgeous slices of paradise we had to get back to the mainland. We opted to take an overnight ferry back to the mainland (either that, or sanction a speed boat, and again, we are the latter, the poor, the ones with a backpack) so we figured, rock on - a nighttime cruise, beer on a deck, lanterns. Yum.

Not so much. We were each given a number, and those numbers were spaced a foot apart around the length of the boat. I realized quickly (damn if my observational skills aren't excellent) that those numbers were for our heads. And we were to lie down on the floor. About 4 minutes after that sunk in, the lights went off. Horizontal pitch blackness cum bizarre sleepaway camp for the next 4-5 hours. But it was actually cool in that really awful sort of way.

We were woken up to the sounds of people beating the side of the boat and yelling "get up. taxi. get up. taxi". We stumbled off the boat and were immediately herded into a 73 datsun, i mean, taxi. We said "bus stop" they said "no problem" and dumped us at a stall with a woman who said she was a travel agent. Shit. We've been down this road before. We want the public bus station. We are going to take a BUS. But oh no, there is NO bus station in this town. Fuckers and bullshit, people, yes there is - but after 20 minutes walking in the pitch black we give up and head back. It's 4am, it's raining, and you want 5X what a bus ticket would cost. You better have a supafine bus, bitch.
Oh yeah, supafine bus. No problem.

An hour later the woman yells "Go, Go, your bus, they take you" and simultaneously two guys grab our packs and throw them into a pickup. We scramble after them and the truck takes off down the street, chasing a bus right past the bus station (and there it is you travel agent fuckmistress) and they start honking and swerving. The bus pulls over in the middle of the street and the guys jump out and toss our backpacks inside. Again, we follow.

So now we've paid 5X more than we should for the pleasure of riding a rickety old piece of shit worse than public transit bus. We are the only ones on it because it is still in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. So we promptly do the only thing left to do, which is fall asleep.

I wake up a couple of hours later, the sun is shining, and I love the smell of diesel in the morning. And wait for it - our supafine bus is chock full of Thai schoolkids. Gorgeous black haired children top to bottom. They put us on a freaking schoolbus, going to hell knows where but with many frequent stops. Somehow we slept through all of it, and woke up to a bus packed (3 stacked up next to me alone) of kids. While I appreciated the fine educational transportation system.....Fuck you, travel woman, fuck you, 2 guys in a pickup.

And then out of nowhere (and in the middle of it) they kicked us off the bus. School's out, kids.

But since I seem to compulsively do things in threes (well, ok not always dammit) I'll be serving part three up soon with a side of Pad See Ew.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

all gussied up

doesn't my blog look spiffy? All the thanks go to denguy (as well as a lovely shout out to Crazymumma for advertising his greatness). After a few hours online last night, a healthy dose of humor and his creative expertise I was left with all of this loveliness. Special points to him for taking a photo I took in Thailand and turning it into that yummy banner. And I am finally able to get a blogroll going so I feel like much less of an asshole now that I can link some of the amazing writing I stalk regularly. The hits just keep on coming.

Thanks to the oh so excellent Denguy! You should all check him out - he writes as well as he creates.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

and now for the sweeter side

There's this: I put M down for her nap as usual. After a few minutes I heard her making some noise, and so I went to her door and listened. She was singing the most lovely song, it went something like this "mom, mom, mom, momma, mom, momma, mom, mommy, momma, mom" over and over.....with the occasional laughing and giggling. No crying out, no anything except just singing herself a beautiful little song. About me. I sat on the floor outside her door for a few minutes and decided it was the sweetest 20 minutes I have ever heard.

And then this: Jen over at Mama Jen's tagged me to answer seven questions:

And I've decided I'll happily answer #5 (sorry Jen, but it's what I got at the moment - although I would very much like to answer #3 but fear it would land me on yet another FBI watch list).

5. Best book I've ever read:
I've read a lot of books, but the three that came to mind when I read your question was
The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I first read it at age 14 and it changed my teenage life.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and anything by Neruda, but mostly that's because when I think of Neruda I think of long-ago nights where a south american lover would read his poems to me by candlelight, in spanish, post-well, post haste, naked in bed while listening to Omara Portundo, smoking cigars and drinking red wine. Vive youth.

Which makes me in turn want to ask each of you courageous souls to share the poem, book or song that a present/former lover shared/spilled/sung in/to you. You've got very little to lose and some potentially new reading material to gain, so let her rip.

Monday, October 02, 2006

the journey between

I sometimes feel like I am bullshit. I struggle to expose the me between all the roles and viewpoints and insecurities and cages and I still can't find my way out of the goddamn rabbit hole. I've felt convicted as of late because even here, in my deliciously pseudo-anonymous blog land, I am still often unable to write what I really want to say. I'd like to blame it on becoming a mother - that my head is so full of daily needs and juggling several realities that I am too damn spent. But if I am fully honest, it started before. I struggle to express how I feel without considering how it might be heard. And that limits me, and my cage is growing smaller.

I am incredibly humbled (and a bit envious) by some of the achingly gorgeous nakedness I read over at A Doggy's Life and the always searing and witty writing over here
I Obsess . These. women. have. something. to. say. And they are able to express themselves so achingly beautifully that I sometimes want to weep and then convince them to come over and drink a bottle of wine with me. Or at places like here Her Bad Mother where women are able to succinctly debate issues in a way that might roll around in my head but that I could never do any real justice to on paper.

I devour these and more. And yes, I compare. I compare and decide that I do not always have as much to offer. That I've gotten lazy, that I've allowed myself to feel beaten and distracted and that I am unimportant as a voice of women. That's some heavy shit, but it's what rattles around in my brain. And rattles some more.

I feel like I've gotten lost a long time ago, and the way is uncertain now. And yet the girlchild part of me wants to find her way - often through seeking approval or making a superficial statement. Yet all of that is fundamental bullshit, because it's not really addressing what I am struggling through. The lack of definition, of purpose. Of standing bravely in front of my own shadow and claiming my place in this world, not for others, not because of anything, and only for me, as I am. And I still don't know the way, but at least I am offered some pretty fantastic examples. And I'll continue to work my way up to risking as we all go along, baby stepping it back to where I should have started in the first place.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

more travel lust




We fell in love with Belize accidentally. We ended up there after realizing Cambodia would have to wait till after we had M, and decided it would be an easier to check out Belize and Guatemala. We had no idea it would change the course of our lives. But when we found that little village in eastern Belize, and then realized land was cheap enough for our meager income to afford, we decided to try and make a go of living in the jungle one day.

We went back while I was on maternity leave. We figured we could spend time getting to know M just about anywhere so we decided to rent a little house in the jungle and look for land we could potentially afford. We knew we wanted to explore this as a reality and decided we should try and get to know the place we'd like to call home for a while.

M was easy to carry around then - at only two months old she was an easy traveller, and we arrived in the middle of the jungle without a hitch. Setting up a temporary home was a bit more challenging than we expected - I hadn't really thought through how we'd deal with undrinkable water, a hell of a lot of bugs, and in the middle of the rainy season at that.

Luckily we knew a few folks there and they were extremely welcoming when we arrived - hot food, cold beer, the place doesn't get a lot of visitors so we were a welcome diversion of sorts. We got some help getting bottled water delivered, and one of the women took me with her to town to do shopping "the Mayan way". I learned a lot about the Mayan way on that trip - how to wash clothes by hand, how to make tortillas from maza, how to bbq an entire chicken and use every single bit for some sort of sustenance. The best part was when the women in the village would look at me and say "how is it that you've gotten a husband? And how do you eat? Or stay clean?" I know they thought I was somewhat of an idiot - incapable of living the way they so easily do and rolled their eyes good naturedly when I explained that at home, tortillas are bought at the store, machines do the laundry, and you can drink the water out of the faucet. I tried to defend myself, that I really do work pretty hard at home, but I am confident no one believed me. Boiling bottled water, then cooling it, then using it in a big bowl to bathe my child was definitely interesting, and I won't act like I wasn't terrified she'd get bit by some jungle bug, or that we'd get sick, or felt we were making the biggest mistake ever trying to do this when she was so small, because I was and I did, but none of that happened so I can look back on it and remember instead how sweet homemade tortillas tasted, or how the jungle sounds at night, or how we had toucans in our backyard.

We spent our days visiting some local Mayan excavation sites, and casually looking around for land.
It's a tricky process because many Belizeans lease land, and since it's not owned outright they cannot sell it to foreigners. That doesn't mean that folks don't try, and it usually ends poorly. We are nowhere near savvy enough to negotiate something that took any sort of cunning, so we knew we'd be relying on faith and trust if we were going to make it work. I've posted about all of that in the past so again, I'll spare you the redundancy of it all. Short story, we found land we could afford and proceeded to enter into an agreement that would take almost two years to complete.

We've been back a few times since to wrap up loose ends and get to know the area a bit better. I've learned that bringing makeup and clothes from the states goes a long way to thrill the women in the village, and they've humored me a bit more about trying to figure out how the hell to survive when you have to do everything yourself (for christ sake...) but I will always remember that time in the jungle when we learned how to be a family. We can't wait to figure out how we'll actually get to live there for a while, and give M a different sort of experience for a few years, learning to live off the land and make due with less because in the long run, it is really so much more.