Thursday, April 14, 2011


Congratulations are in order: a week ago, Kezia made an honest man of my brother-in-law in a courthouse in Denver, Colorado. Eric is Ryan's older brother, though people who learn it are often surprised, not only because Ryan's hairline is rapidly slipping back and his beard gives him a mature look, but also because Ryan has all the "grown up" accessories--the house, the wife, the child, the job that stretches back several years, and on. Eric majored in recreational management in college and can be found in gorgeous cities in the west--we've visited him in Mt Hood and Lake Tahoe, and now we'll see him in August in Colorado for his wedding celebration--where he works closely with snowboards and kayaks and is known to spend summers living in corners of the mountain in a tent with a cooler of beer. He has the capability to make friends with just about anyone, as he has the Kiefer-traited "good heart," and perhaps would make a good poster boy for the term "free spirit."

We met Kezia (who is from Brazil originally) this past winter holiday, where I spent the majority of it fatly pregnant and spewing forth illness for three solid (or, rather, unsolid) days, so I didn't quite get to know her, though I did have the opportunity to observe some very cheerful game-playing with the four-year-old nephew Jimmy, whom I adore. I look forward to more adventures and their beautiful celebration this late summer. Congratulations, congratulations.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I know spring is on its edge here: I wake, my daughter's warm body wiggling against me, her soft fists walloping me in the cheek, peel my shirt up, and listen to the birds singing the morning hello; our black lab mix Zephyr pounds against the storm door, bolts to the fence corner near the garage where squirrels and rabbits bravely slip in to sift through the compost I pile near the raspberry bush; I have killed my first centipede from the basement and am looking forward to this year's crop even less than ever. But we still have these charming little ruts of dirty snow, little wedges in the shadiest parts of the lawn, just waiting for deactivation and a path to the basement, which flooded one year, or maybe the Mississippi, twelve blocks away and full of flood-warnings on the Weather Channel. This is the time of year our geography feels like swampland, where I wonder how the trees survive such prolific abuse, where I fantasize about a garden I'll neglect a month into it anyway (last year was the first we ever did a mid-summer Serious Weeding, where we could find the fattened green beans between the dandelions).

That little squirrel up there? We spotted him on a walk downtown, after spotting a flattened, yellow-toothed squirrel (this, we are realizing, is the best time to discover both a prolifery of soda cans and other waste as well as the bloated bodies of urban wildlife; the snow snaps back so quickly, the sidewalks become dotted), and he gripped that tree branch in such a furious panic, I couldn't help but relate. (I'm glad it wasn't to the dead squirrel instead.) There are five weeks left to the semester, and though I'm going to miss my regular socialization with other writers, I am going to be grateful to not have to parcel out naptime in such a panic. Here she sleeps in my arms, my left falling asleep below the elbow, and I cock my recent poetry collection at an angle, trying to keep my fingers from falling asleep, trying to nudge the little neon flags in the margins without waking her. I am desperate for a nap myself, but when Ryan comes home, I know I have to scurry to the dining room table and dig through the pile of flagged tomes, see if I can cobble something together that makes moderate sense while taking feeding breaks and trying to decide what's for dinner and maybe even sneak in a shower. I relish the shower. I even floss more because it allows some lingering.

(The walk downtown was lovely: we stopped at the local bookstore to take in some new-book smells and then checked out a brand new food co-op opened in a former antique store.)

I'm still coming to terms with balancing this new mama obsessed with peering at her child (see: roots + wings) and the thinking person I was before. This isn't to say my mama-self doesn't think, but it thinks in such vastly different terms, I get confused, muddled. I have been generally less and less intelligent as the years have passed; I doubt this has anything to do with reproduction. There's a part of me who wants to read every parenting book that exists and knit myself until my fingers are cramped into position and stare at her all day long, but there's also a part of me that wants to tromp upstairs with a book in hand and read while a thunderstorm rages outside and I can feel all my appendages. I'm still figuring out how to balance that out. Fortunately, all of this happening in my imagination is under one roof.

This summer, we have many adventures planned, and I'm in need. I've had a funky three-month hibernation. We have our annual camping trip with the Urtels and Chad; we have my grandmother's 90th birthday in Michigan; we also have three weddings in three disparate sections of the country--Cape Cod, Austin TX, and Denver. (Aunt, my sister, his brother, respectively.) Oh, and I have another trip to Austin in June for a shower and bachelorette party; it will be Maya's second road trip of significance and her first without her papa. We'll see how he handles a string of Maya-less days. Personally, my body has trouble if it goes more than a few hours without her; when Ryan returns her to my arms, there's an almost physical relief at her warmth and weight returning.

One of my favorite former big-bookstore co-workers has started a blog after bidding a farewell to the addictions of Facebook, and it's become a bit of much-needed amusement to my days. She has an excellent voice, a shared aversion to housework, and three boys who are much loved and much maligned. It's the kind of perfect sarcasm and frankness that I miss from our overly long breaks and my stockroom visits.

And now my little bug is awake and smiling at me with her tongue sticking out and rubbing her face and is covered in black dog fur. (Note to self: no more pets with dark fur. Blending is best.) I can't tell you how many strands of fur I've swept out of her eyes; it's amazing those blues aren't a bit more irritated or she hasn't gone blind. She growls hello to all.