Thankful for all the things.

I’m thankful for my family, for the ones I get to hug everyday and the ones I get to hug every month or so, and the ones I haven’t hugged in years.  I’m thankful for the memories, the good ones that make the corners of my mouth turn up in unconscious glee and sentimentality, and the ones that are hard to relive.

I’m thankful for my senses.  All of them, but especially smell.  I love the smell of a roasting chicken (sorry veggie friends), sea-soaked air tinged with cocoa butter, the smell of my children’s necks in that small curve between the bottom of their hairlines and top of their backs–where the primal loveliness lives, and the smell of cigars (sorry everyone) and tea rose perfume.  I remember how everyone I love and have loved smells, so again…I’m thankful for the memories.

I’m thankful for football, the Real Housewives, and peace and freedom.  This is a crazy world and I’m so grateful to live in a corner of it, geographically and metaphorically, that is peaceful.  So peaceful that bone-crushing sport and mind-numbing, makeup-covered cat fights are entertainment.  Of course there is real conflict too in my small corner and neighboring places, and pretending it does not exist is beyond silly–it’s dangerous.  But I’m thankful that there are more ways and places to find hope than there are reasons to dwell in madness.

I’m thankful for friends who lift me up, and extend their hands and their hearts in all kinds of ways.  The ones at work who make a pretty stressful job seem not so bad, the ones I don’t talk to enough but who I think of often, and the ones who are not just like family–they are family.

I’m thankful for my 10 year old coffeemaker and the sound it makes every morning as it pulverizes and soaks those blessed beans into sweet, caffeine-drenched goodness.

I’m thankful for my husband who disagrees with me all the time, and tells me I’m wrong about so many things but manages to do it with a look in his eyes that tells me there’s no one else in the world he’d rather disagree with.

I’m thankful for my kids’ teachers and caregivers and the love they show to these three maniacs.  And to me.  For teachers who bring magic into their lives and make them feel safe and smart and loved. For our Ewa.  Our crazy, wonderful, I-don’t-give-a-damn-what-you-think, every day faithful babysitter.  The woman who I trust implicitly with my kids’ lives, the woman who holds them like they are hers and held me, like I was hers, when my mom was gone and never lets me leave the house with my hair wet.

I’m thankful for my sister, who technically was covered in the first stanza, but deserves one all her own.  Because she shares my heart.  And because all the best and worst-but-important memories include her face, looking up to me, crying with me, holding my hand and one of my trembling and poorly shaved legs as my oldest daughter made her way into this world and laughing so hard she peed her pants with me more times than I can count.

I’m thankful for my babies.

I’m thankful that I ordered what is hopefully the last of my Diaper Genie refills this week.

I’m grateful for all of you who read my drivel.

Love and peace to you all.

Meg

The Brood, circa 2013.

The Brood, circa 2013.

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Boobs in New Jersey and other reasons I miss my mom.

We moved to New Jersey from California right before the start of second grade.  We drove across country in a rented moving truck.  The kind with a small space behind the two front seats in the cab.  My sister and I played games, argued, slept and ate all the junk food our mother had never let us eat before in that 6’ by 2’ stretch of rubber lining over metal.  I know it sounds horrible, but it was really amazing.

We were moving from an LA suburb, from an apartment complex with a drained pool in the center courtyard.  There were plenty of kids in that complex to play with and that fact almost made up for the sadness that a permanently empty pool can induce in a 7 year old.  There was a cement drainage ditch in front of the building and the neighbor kids would skateboard in the sloped ditch.  One afternoon, after a massive skateboard collision, there were skinned knees and elbows everywhere.  For some reason I can’t recall, I tasted my blood, finger to knee to mouth.  “It tastes salty,” I said. One of the kids next to me in the makeshift half-pipe had skin of a significantly darker hue than my own.  He put a quick finger in his own mouth and announced, “mine tastes like pepper.” We all fell over ourselves in giggles.

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Quiet.

I never really liked quiet.  Noise means life, people around to talk to, to comfort you, to protect you.  Quiet always seemed scary to me.  Quiet meant alone.  Alone could be terrifying.

After I got married, there was much debate about sleeping with the television on.  I needed the television, I thought.  I needed the noise to help me drift off to sleep.  And some noise is helpful for that purpose.  My kids use sound machines, largely to block out the noises of the world beyond their doors. Creaky old floors, dogs barking, parents engaged in heated discourse about the appropriate reaches of the 4th Amendment and the intended messages in Taylor Swift’s new single [I think its transparent, he credits her with more depth], and the thunderous, predawn grind of coffee beans. Continue reading

They are veterans every day.

In 9th grade, or maybe it was 7th grade…I’m not sure,  I was putting together a poster board for social studies class.  Do they even call it social studies any more?  In any case, I made my poster.  It was about Vietnam.  Not the country.  Not its history or politics. It was about the war, kind of. It was mostly about my dad.

It offered nothing about the experience of the people of Vietnam, the origin of the conflict, or even much about the experience of the American soldiers who fought, lived or died there.  It didn’t say much.

I remember asking questions as part of the project. Carefully scripting the interview and then posing the questions to my dad.  I don’t remember his responses.  They were unremarkable, as were my questions.  Somehow I knew that I wasn’t supposed to ask “big” questions.  I asked about the food and the music he listened to when he was there.  I asked about the weather.  I didn’t ask the big questions.  I didn’t show him the pictures I planned to use. Continue reading

I’m not there tonight.

Mommy, I don’t like it when you’re not here.  I get afraid.

This is what she said to me, sitting straight up in bed at 3 o’clock this morning.

I’d heard her footsteps first. Klunk. Thud, thud, thud, thud, thud.  All 38 pounds of her, driving her small feet in to the floor with the force of a baby elephant.  I sat up in bed and saw her tiny figure standing still in our bedroom doorway, framed by the light we absent-mindedly left on in living room.  By some trick of diffraction the light found its way around three corners to land at her back, to ghostly effect.   I called her name softly, but with some hesitation.  She was honestly freaking me out.  Standing there silently, still.  Her face completely obscured by darkness and too-long bangs.

She turned and ran back to her bed.  Thud, thud, thud, thud, thud.  I pushed the covers away from my legs and followed her, my heart still beating fast from the Stephen King of it all. Continue reading