Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver

30 December, 2012


Disclaimer* I didn't mean for this to be such an incohesive, bleak post for what is meant to be a joyous season, but I guess this is what came out.  And I promise I wasn't just a mopey bitch all month.  I was fun sometimes too.

“Don’t squander joy. We can’t prepare for tragedy and loss. When we turn every opportunity to feel joy into a test drive for despair, we actually diminish our resilience. Yes, softening into joy is uncomfortable. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s vulnerable. But every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope. The joy becomes part of who we are, and when bad things happen—and they do happen—we are stronger.”
-Brene Brown, Daring Greatly


I know that I try to make you listen to Tim Minchin's White Wine in the Sun every year, and I'm going to stick with that tradition.  Listen to it and I hope you adore it.  I heard it for the first time about 3 years ago, and my affection for it hasn't diminished at all.  I don't think I've ever skipped it when it has come on.  Or if you're looking for a funnier and more offensive Christmas-y song, try his Woody Allen Jesus.


Christmas has come and gone, and soon we will begin 2013.  It's somewhat a relief that the holidays are almost over.  The pressure to have fun is too much for me sometimes.  We are relentlessly, albeit usually metaphorically, bashed over the head by people urging us to feel joy, love, and peace, and that, my friends, can be pretty damn overwhelming.


I always sort of feel like I'm doing something wrong around the holidays, because more often than not I'm feeling reflective and bittersweet and I am looking for quiet gatherings and meaningful conversations with one or two friends as opposed to big parties with music and loudness and social awkwardness (this is actually true of me all year, but I'm never really in a position to turn down a social opportunity).



It's interesting, and sad I suppose, how emotions become muddled together, less pure with age.  Moments of joy are tinged with grief.  Images of piles of gifts are punctuated by images of the homeless and struggling.  Giant bowls of leftovers are reminders of empty bowls of children across the world.  What should be the happiest moments are interrupted by remembering that others are suffering or they're missing their loved ones or you're missing your loved ones or any other of a multitude of worries that people in the world are facing.  And having this knowledge detracts a great deal from the joy.  As Stephen Sondheim wrote "Isn't it nice to know a lot!  And a little bit not."  Or if you prefer a more mainstream phrasing, ignorance is indeed bliss.


All of this is just part of life and the luck of the draw and individual circumstances, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier to deal with, especially when you add it to...just...everyday life.  Working and paying bills and trying to maintain relationships.  And while I'm not really New Year's Resolution Girl, maybe this year I should give it a try.  There are a lot of ways in which I'd like to improve myself, and if I succeed in these changes, I think I will have a happier life.  I mean, I'm generally a pretty happy girl, know.  I have a tendency to dwell on things I wish I could change and situations I wish I would have handled differently.  And believe me when I say I dwell the shit out those things, guys.  I'm always thinking about what I should not have said or should have done or how I could have communicated something more clearly, and damned if it doesn't mess me up a bit.  I'd like to learn how to let that go.  I think I need to be more present.  I think I need to enjoy moments as they come and not try to force them into existence, because inevitably, that leads to disappointment.  Which, I think, everyone could always use a little less of.


So I hope you all had a happy holiday season.  Happy New Year to you and yours.


15 November, 2012

Molding the future

So, I had this conversation today:

GINA: Did you guys ever see that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie?

ME: Yes!  I totally dug it!  It was...exactly what you would expect it to be.

SARAH: No, I haven't, but I really wanted to!  Did you see it in 3D?

ME: No, just in...regular movie D.  Which would be 2D, wouldn't it?

EMMA: Oh, my God.  Are you guys serious?  I had such a fear of Abraham Lincoln when I was a kid.  Like, I couldn't even be in class when they were talking about freeing the slaves or whatever. (sees the looks on our faces) No, you guys!  I'm serious!

SARAH: (cheekily) Really?  I have such a crush on him; he's my favorite president.  The way he freed those slaves?  Mmm, damn.

ME & GINA: (hysterical laughter)

EMMA: No!  Oh my God, you guys.  You take like my least favorite person ever and have him hunt my hero Edward Cullen? He was so tall and skinny and all he did was wear that creepy hat and chop down cherry trees and build houses out of logs. (pause) And free the slaves.

ME: Um, okay.  But, the freeing the slaves thing.  That was pretty big.

EMMA: He just totally freaks me out.  I'm serious.  With his top hat and his ginger hair and handlebar mustache.

ME: Wait.  What?  Who are you talking about?

EMMA: Abraham Lincoln!

ME, SARAH, GINA: (look at each other in silence)

SARAH: I don't think he was ginger...

ME: Yeah...

SARAH: And he didn't have a mustache.  I mean, he had a beard, but...

GINA: Yeah...

EMMA: Oh...Am I thinking of a different president?

ME: I mean, maybe.  Teddy Roosevelt had a mustache.

EMMA: Hmm.

ME: Or Taft?

EMMA: I don't know who that is.  I think Kennedy was my favorite president.  I like his jaw.  I would feel safe with his jaw.

SARAH: Yeah, he was handsome.

EMMA: Did you guys know Twilight comes out tonight.  Do you want to go?

ME: Well, I've not read the books or seen the movies, but if you really want someone to come with you-

EMMA: No, then you can't come!  It would taint your head for the rest of them!


Teachers, guys.  We're teachers.

30 July, 2012

I have a new job.

And I'm sad, guys.  Like, really sad.  I have worked at my current job for just about two years.  I love working for my bosses.  I love taking care of my babies.  I dislike pretty much everything else and I don't make any money.  So I was bummed, but figured it was time to move on.  And so last Monday, I went to a different daycare for a job interview.  And today, I got the job.

But now that I know that in three weeks I won't be at my current job, here's what happening.  I feel sad, I feel like I will miss the kids, I feel like I will miss my boss, but most of all, I feel guilty.  98% of the kids at my center are on welfare.  They get assistance from the county.  Otherwise there is no way their families could afford for them to go to daycare.  And if there are any kids in the world that need good teachers who care about them and who genuinely have their best interests in mind, it is these kids.  Because every single one of them is amazing and wonderful and valuable, and not one of them will ever get what they deserve to get out of life.  If they have the right combination of education, perseverance, and luck they might be able to rise above their circumstances.  But realistically, it is not very likely for the vast majority of them.  And yeah, that's pessimistic.  But it's true.  So I want to help them.  I mean, I know that my influence on their lives is incredibly limited, but I am quite good at my job.  They feel safe, they have fun, they learn and they know they are loved by me.

And inevitably, you bond.  Especially with a baby you have taken care of pretty much every day since he was six weeks old, and now he's sixteen months old and making him laugh is like magic and he loves you and you love him and he runs to you in the morning and he cries if you have to leave and him crying makes you cry.  

And, well, shit. 

Someone please come over and convince me I'm not a horrible person for leaving them.


015 (7)

Wow, Elizabeth.  Seriously?  Co-dependent, much?

18 June, 2012

A poem for a beautiful Monday

By Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers


and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,


the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,


blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?


Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?


11 April, 2012

The Rainbow Connection

One of the more interesting aspects of my job is...hmm...well, let's call her Judy.  She is the devoted grandmother of one of my babies.  This particular baby comes only once a week, on Mondays, and Judy always picks her up.

Interactions with Judy are always unique.  She has a very...dominating...demeanor.  The volume of her voice is permanently set at a level that sounds as though she is trying to have a conversation in a crowded bar on a Saturday night.  When she's not talking, her face looks like she's trying to get peanut butter off the roof of her mouth with her tongue.

Like I said, unique, but this most recent Monday, we moved to a whole new level.  Judy arrived at about 4:30.  She was talking on her cell phone when she flung open the door and yelled "Where my baby at?  Where my baby at?" She saw her granddaughter, and came into the room, leaving the door wide open, oblivious to the fact that three babies were crawling rapidly towards the newly discovered escape route.  She stopped in the middle of the room and started raising the roof with her hand that wasn't clamping her phone to her ear.  "It's Granny!  It's Granny!  Granny's in da house!  Granny's in da house!  Granny's in da house!  Hey, girl!  I'm picking up my grandbaby.  Hey, Boo!  Come here, Boo!  My God, y'all got babies up in here!"

Having a strange woman suddenly standing in the middle of our room screaming was, understandably, startling for some of the babies.  One of them started to cry and crawl frantically towards me, her eyes pleading and wide.  Judy's response was "Oh, you shut up over there, crying for no reason."  I, with much restraint, replied "I think you startled her."  I was ignored, as Judy had decided to continued with her phone call, bark orders at my coworker, admire the other babies in the room, and make nonsense noises at them.

So what follows is pretty much verbatim.

No shit.

"No, man, no.  Where her pacifier at?  I don't know.  When you coming?  You coming, right?  When you coming?  Oh, you on Facebook?  I don't really know how to do that.  Oh, look at these babies!  Look at that little Chinese baby over there!  They even got Asian babies in here!  Look at you, girl!  Doo doo doo da da blah blah blah!  Deedeedeedeedeedeedee!  My name be Kitty Katrice on Facebook.  I be too scared to put my name on there.  I ain't got no pictures or nothing.  Where's her pacifier?  Nothing on there.  Kitty Katrice.  Yeah, man, I be on there, but I don't know what I'm doing.  Ooooooh!  Look at that little black-ass baby over there.  Just black as he can be!  Hey, man!  Hey, man!  Deedeedeedeedee!  Are all her bottles in there, girl?  I've got three friends on Facebook, man.  Look at that little black girl trying to get away from me!  She saying 'Who that loud woman over there?'  Oh, girl!"

At this point, one of the other parents enters, to pick up her "little Chinese baby". 

"Ooooohhh, girl!  That your baby?  She so cute.  Ooooh, you tiny, girl!  I be talking to her, making her smile!  She so cute!  She so little!  They got Asian babies in here!  They got black babies in here!  They got everything!  It be a rainbow up in here!  Yeah, man, you look me up on Facebook."

She, having had all of her granddaughter's items diligently collected by my coworker, buckled the baby into the car seat and made her way towards the door.  Since we have a no shoe policy in the baby room, the other parent's shoes were by the door.

"Girl, look at these little shoes!  That shoe disappears when I put my foot over it!  These your shoes, girl?  Little Asian shoes!  Oh, my God, it be a rainbow up in here.  Bye all you babies.  You all have babies everywhere in here!  Y'all have a good week ladies!  Bye, now!  It be a rainbow in there, man."

Then, in a whirlwind of blue flip-flops and black weave, she was gone, leaving us convulsing with the laughter we were trying so hard to hide.

09 January, 2012

The Long Overdue Christmas Post

I know, I know. It's been a long time. But here's the thing. I don't know what to write about Christmas. I didn't know last year either.  But what I will say is that Christmas was delightful. New Year's is another story, but oh...Christmas.

I love Christmas. And just in case anyone is reading this who I haven't forced to listen to White Wine in the Sun, you should listen to it. No, really. I'll wait.


So good, right? It is my favorite Christmas song. Maybe just my favorite song.

I started with baking what I think is technically known as a "metric shit-ton" of cookies and then drove all over the Metro area delivering them to friends, who very graciously allowed me to intrude upon them pretty much unannounced. It was a good night.



Then it was out to Ortonville for some family time. A lot of family time.















Interspersed with all the craziness and cooking and tantrums and games of monster vs. super-monster vs. super-duper-monster were the little quiet moments that are my favorite things about being alive.

Like seeing so many watercolor sunrises and sunsets, it was hard to keep track of them.





A walk on a frozen slough with Ricardo and Mother.



Finding the nativity set I made when I was little. Its shoddy/adorable craftsmanship never fails to reduce me to tears of laughter.



Setting out all the presents after the littles had gone to bed on Christmas Eve.



Waking up early on Christmas day, but waiting until I heard the pounding of little feet running down the stairs to get up.


Just my mom and dad and me in the kitchen, finishing up the filling for the chicken pot pie.



Teaching the little ones the art of setting a table for company.


Cat (and dog) naps.



Another walk on the frozen slough, but alone and at night. And because of the cracking and shifting ice and the howling coyotes, it sounded like a Stephen King horror novel. Alone. At night. In the very, very dark. It was exhilarating. But the best part was climbing back up the hill towards what will always be my home.


You know. Quiet little moments like that.