Monday, October 30, 2006

The Economics of Motherhood

School's been out since last Tuesday afternoon due to staff retreat. As a result, it's been a long week of surrendering into the role of full-time mommy, my other work be damned. Activity lists help me stay focused on potential things to do during my tenure as stay-at-home mom, otherwise I am at a loss. Instead, pumpkin patches, carving jack-o-lanterns, costume festivals, library outings, movie-popcorn nights, ice cream cone excursions, Halloween decorating, drawing and more drawing, roasting pumpkin seeds, pumpkin muffins, window shopping at the pet store, cleaning out her too-small clothes, looking for slippers that fit, trying samosas together, perfecting the handstand…these were only some of the activities we did together over the last 5 days.

By the time "the drop" came, and by that I mean the post-what's-for-dinner, who-needs-a-bath, time to get your teeth brushed and pjs on, let's read another chapter of Ramona or Henry Huggins, OK goodnight, I'll come back and check on you in five minutes, and five minutes after that, but only after I clean up the dishes and let the cat in…I was blotto. Empty. Vacant.

It was I who dropped.

Freedom finally mine, it was all I could do to flip around the tube for some back episodes of Top Chef, or worse, my newfound disciplinary guilty pleasure, The Dog Whisperer. (If only my daughter could be trained like that!) Thoughts of writing in the evenings after she went to sleep vanished like a deserted can of tuna fish around a hungry cat. The stink and an empty can were all that remained. Even the memoir I was reading, The Liar's Club, the one I had been waiting to get to, held little attraction as my eyes would sink, words all blurry after a mere page and a half of attempted reading. Thoughts escaped my uncontained brain.

I was spent.

As thanks for my (insert gratuitous flattery here) motherly devotion, a sentence he himself managed to escape due to various meetings, deadlines, and evening agendas, my husband generously offered to take us all out to breakfast this morning. A nice Sunday brunch.

Sounded good to me.

Sienna was thrilled.

We chose a lovely Westside place, known for their fresh food, homemade coffeecake and mismatched shabby-chic garden tea-party-on-acid décor.

I should have known something was up when the only table the host would seat us at in the near empty patio was butted up next to an already seated two-top who's Sunday Times was scattered all across our table and chairs. Apparently no other table was "available." Also, he informed me they were no longer "doing" the coffee cake. The cake they were known for. Hadn't for about a month or two.

Another bad sign was when my cappuccino finally did arrive, it came in a mug labeled Starbucks. (Need I say more?)

When I excused ourselves to take my 4-yr-old to the bathroom, something that always seems to happen as soon as we get settled in somewhere, the host watched us as we wandered around looking for it, didn't offer any directions, but when I finally asked, informed me that it was right across there but I couldn't cut through the wait station where he was pointing. I would have to go all the way back around. Don't do me any favors, please.

I was already feeling too old and too tired, too un-hip with child, to fit into this attitude-ridden young urban hang. My week had been work. Unpaid work at that. I didn't need to work at having breakfast too. I was supposed to be being treated today.

Back at the table, I study the menu. My daughter is already clamoring for crayons and paper, and getting restless. The crayons are sitting at the host station in little jars, clearly visible, but none are making their way over to our table.

This might not work, I begin to think. Visions of previous restaurant extractions float in my periphery.

I scan the prices. $12-15 per brunch item. I see no simple menu choices for a child. No pancakes, no plain French toast, no side of scrambled egg, even the side of sausage looks like it might be one of those highly seasoned varieties she won't touch. Although I love the food here, I quickly do the math…this will be a $60 breakfast if it will be a dime.

I'm starting to hedge, getting angry.

The waiter comes over to take our order. She confirms my suspicion, no plain items, no half-order concessions for kids, but she graciously informs us we can order from the "sides" for our daughter, which, when cobbled together will cost us about $18-20, for a meal she will most likely not even touch. Add to that the "restless factor," and I am thinking this is such a great end to my very long and unproductive week. Not.

Wish I could for a moment be like one of those fancy moms in our fancy preschool, where dropping $60 for a breakfast that is only nibbled at and left behind is considered no big deal. Seriously, I used to work for a client who took out $5000 cash every weekend for "play money" he called it, "pocket change."

Now the thing that really pisses me off is that I know food costs. And I know that to make a plate of f-ing French toast--and I don't care how damn good your French toast is--is nothing more than bread, eggs, milk, and sugar, and if you're really fancy some apples sauteéd in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon poured over the top. But twelve bucks? I could make it for about $2/plate, and that's if I'm using some high-end French or Challah bread and organic Granny Smith apples with Korintje Cassia cinnamon. That's some markup.

But even more than that is how tired, and old, and I hate to say it, cheap I am feeling. Like I don't fit in anymore. Like I can't even afford my own neighborhood. Like if I'm going to spend that kind of money for a meal, dammit, I would rather spend it with my husband and enjoy it, not spend it chasing my kid around back and forth to the restroom, trying to find something she will actually eat without throwing good money away, and trying to pretend we've got it all together enjoying an upscale breakfast when in actuality keeping her contained when she wants to be in perpetual motion is making my blood boil. We can't enjoy this. We can't afford this. This is ridiculous. It is another nail in the coffin of my vanishing youthful, flush independence.

Not only that but the truth is, neither my husband nor I need to be eating a high-calorie starch-laden breakfast. We just don't. Neither waistline needs it, frankly. I am finding myself quite contrary by now, adding over-weight to my growing list of judgments.

We decide to abort. Exit stage left.

As we pile back into the car, I realize just how cranky I have become. I am furious for so many reasons. I haven't run in 6 days. I haven't been able to write. I haven't returned phone calls. I have been exhausted and run down by being practically the sole childcare-meal provider during this time. I am so tired, always tired, and yet I also battle insomnia. Add to that, lately, some garden-variety depression. It's not a good combination.

I ask my husband if he'll just take me home. They can go somewhere and have a nice Daddy-daughter breakfast, (where eggs and pancakes cost about $5-6 per plate), and I can go for a run. I really need it. He agrees.

As soon as I'm home and into my running shoes, I already feel better. I miss my routine. I miss my life. I miss the balance solitude gives me.

I take off up the hill and allow my thoughts to unravel. This is how I work them out. As my body moves, sweat pushes the toxins out of my skin. A Pigpen-like cloud of negative judgment begins to disperse with each repetitive strike of feet hitting the pavement. Ahhhh…heat. Free me. Release me.

My issues, one by one, lift up for viewing. The roots are deep and gnarly. The most difficult one is economic. This ties in with self-esteem and personal success, or in my case, my perceived failure.

I have put the roof over my head since I left home at 17. Not being taught to capitalize on one practical skill and make a good living at it, I was encouraged into a liberal arts education…to be "well-rounded" was my mother's goal for me. Business school? That was for Johnny one-notes who couldn't think.

"We used to have to conjugate verbs in Latin. They don't teach that anymore." She'd say, feeling so superior.

I studied philosophy and religion, theater and French. I played cello and piano, I danced ballet and jazz, did plays, shows, musicals, videos, acted, gardened, cooked, catered, chefed. But what the hell good is all that? Where has it gotten me in this capitalistic, consumerist society? A well-rounded peddler of art? Unprepared for the challenges we face in our current economy.

I am an idea person. I create with expression. The medium is secondary. I can produce something out of nothing. I connect people with people. This is the perfect town to be in for that, as we are all just a glimmer away from our ideas making us a fortune. But I am worthless until I am branded and marketed. Until my content and intellectual property is bought and sold. I have yet to make my mark.

So far all the mediums I have worked in are disposable and not lasting. Like food that is tossed at the end of the day, my "art" is passed over for hotter trends. I search for relevancy in my too tight jeans and tired middle-aged face.

Somehow, I tell myself, this sunny external disposition hiding torrential internal thunderstorms will eventually collide with the marketplace, revealing a blazing rainbow of unlimited light and abundance…

We moved into this neighborhood 8 years ago. I was working as a private chef back then as I worked on my record and did live gigs around town with my rock band. I also sang on studio sessions for the occasional jingle or tv show. My husband and I split the mortgage and expenses, even though he made much more money than I did as a composer/producer. Still, we were a two-income partnership.

Now, post 9/11, post shrinking music budgets, post needing to use union talent and the ubiquitous almighty "buyout" (i.e. no residuals) form of payment, work is not as lucrative or prevalent. Post-child, my image, my body, my energy, my time, and my desire to climb the pop music media ladder is almost non-existent too. In fact, except for some occasional publishing royalties, session payments and straggling residuals, I don't contribute much money at all now. Instead, I am a mom. That is my primary contribution. How hip is that?

I don't like how that makes me feel…like some sort of emasculated choirboy…relegated to the raising of our child at the expense of my abilities. Remember, I have been financially independent since I was 17. I relied on no one. Taking time off to be a hands-on mom who's also making a leap-of-faith into this whole writing game has been both artistically and financially daring. Not to mention personally consuming.

Do I still believe in my ideas…enough to make them happen?

On the plus side, our real estate value has nearly tripled in the last 8 years. It's weird and a bit unsettling. Although we live here, we couldn't afford to buy our own house now or live in our own neighborhood if we were just starting out.

I really should just get a job. That would solve a lot of these economic struggles. Then I wouldn't feel so bad about buying 2 or 3 plates of overpriced food that my daughter won't touch. Then we could hire a babysitter now and then, and wouldn't blink at paying the $12-15/hour for help so I can get a break. Then maybe we could buy a 2nd car which would allow us the freedom to get around this town without the scheduling tango of who has the car and who has the daughter. Then we could work at reducing this accumulated debt. Perhaps that is the most logical option. But I have a dream…we both have a dream…and businesses to build…

I think we both thought we'd be further along than we are by now. I think we thought we'd have attained a certain financial security…both of us, by now.

When I justify my choice of staying at home to raise our daughter, working in the cracks, staying up all night writing and being perpetually exhausted and broke, I wonder if the sacrifice I made to her is worth it? What price this extraction? Is it worth my soul? My sanity? My self-worth? And on the other side of a full school schedule and me able to work more, will I still be relevant in the marketplace? Or will I have to reinvent myself all over again in this transient world of trends?

As we read through some of the old chapter books and examine childhood and parenting in different eras and cultures, it is remarkable how extremely hands-off child-rearing has been in the past. I wonder if all this stay-at-home coddling of the children, encouraging the development of their ability to learn and reason, socialize and problem-solve, will actually serve them? Is there any way to know for sure if this dedication of time and energy will be worth it, or will it backfire resulting in needy, spineless, dependent adults with broke grandparents?

What price motherhood?

Monday, October 23, 2006

I Am That.

"The ocean, in all its greatness, can rise up and strike with the ferocity of a tidal wave or tsunami when called to, can push past levees and wipe out entire cities, can run as low as the depths allow, and swallow whole whatever comes in its way.

Other days, it just smiles and sparkles, sunlight dancing across its fingertips, tickled and caressed, content within itself, reflecting beauty and joy to those who might gaze upon her surface, knowing full well what lies beneath."

I Am That.

I Am that capacity. I am everything I need to be, when I need to be it.

I am infinity…of the ocean meeting the horizon in one continuous stretch of blue.

Form. Formlessness. Water. Atmosphere.


* * *

It occurred to me that in terms of this writing thing, it doesn't have to be so difficult. We just make it so. Figure out what it is you're trying to say, and then say it. Distill it down to a few sentences, the core message, and then write it. We make it hard. We are the critics. We put up the roadblocks. The impediments are self-imposed.

It doesn't have to be hard, or complicated…unless we like it that way.

* * *

The Steps

190 up...190 down.

One set = 380 steps.

Three sets = 1140 steps. That's one-thousand-one-hundred-forty steps straight up (and down) a nearly vertical hillside! I do this in the middle of a 2 or 3 mile jog.

I was halfway up the 2nd round when I started to think about the sheer numbers of steps I was attempting, how steep they were, how my calves and quads were feeling tired, worked. I started to observe my breath getting more labored, more challenged. I thought of how hard it was on my body to do these steps and how I'd never finish… Maybe I'd just delete that last set and only do 2 rounds today. Then I started to stumble. I saw it clearly. My thoughts were deliberately attempting to pull me off focus and my body was following its command…I began to trip.

I recognized the "mental detour" and quickly re-connected myself. I anchored my breath back into my center, pulled up the abs, resumed my balance, and stopped counting or predicting the extent of my stamina.

Back in the here and now, I just stepped.

Step, step, step. Calmly, evenly, on track.

Don't look up, don't look down. Just keep stepping.

It reminded me about motherhood. In the throws of such challenges as teething, sleep disturbances, potty training, battle of the wills--any of the challenges, really-- you think it will never end. You think you will never make it. You're so tired, strained, it feels like you can't possibly give one more ounce of nurture, or patience, or even kindness. It feels like you won't be able to last one more minute of it. So much of motherhood can seem so overwhelming, impossible. You don't know if you can do it.

And yet, although we are challenged to our very core again and again, we survive it. We grow through it. Each stage, when looking back, was really so fleeting. In it-- it feels like it will never end. After it-- it's just over. You did it. You survived it. Moving on to the next challenge. (There is always another challenge.)

Mothering is great training. Other than to do your best and show up, there is no goal per se. The goal is always changing. And we as mothers are asked to grow and change along with it, even if we can't possibly see or know how. Yet we do. We do.

I believe we are capable of quite literally anything. Tapping the collective inner-feminine: wisdom, power, tenacity, possibility...we really can achieve anything we put our minds to.

Bythe way, I finished the third set of steps before jogging back.

And this whole book thing? No big deal. Just write it out. It's just thoughts on a page…

Friday, October 20, 2006

Today's contemplation:

I wonder if the ocean ever contemplates the nature of itself, if it ever has days where it just feels…so…wet. So formless.

I wonder if it ever wishes it could just escape itself, and become as tall as a skyscraper, or feel what it feels like to be on fire?

I wonder if it ever wishes it could grow legs and march through the city, or fly through the air?

Does it ever fight its own nature? Resist it? Wish it were something new or different perhaps? Does it ever wonder how it will pay for itself, or what it'll be "when it grows up?" Does the ocean ever aspire to greatness beyond what it is day to day? Or is it content within itself?

I was jogging along the bluffs of Santa Monica today watching the sunlight dance across the still, serene ocean. It was calm. Sparkling. Dare I even say it, happy.

Was it at peace with itself, I wanted to know?

I'm not. I rarely am. I fight my very nature constantly. I always have. Trying to grow up fast as a child, escape from my house as a young adult, wanting to get out in the world and "be somebody." Wanting to push ahead of myself, despite myself.

As if who I was, was so inconsequential. So small. So useless. So not enough. There were mountains to climb, roads to take, experiences to sample. I wanted to go places. I wanted to do things. I wanted to feel more alive, be more fully me.

I am still like that 20-some odd years after I left home. I don't know if I'll ever feel like what I've done with my life is worthwhile, valuable, profound, enough. I feel like I'm nowhere. Still haven't carved out an identity, a stable income, a career path, a contribution. You don't look at me and go, "Oh yeah, Tanya…she's the one who dat, dat, dat."

Yeah, yeah, you can give me lip-service about surviving my past, creating a home for my husband and child…putting meals on the table, herbs in the yard, clean laundry in the drawers…being a mother is the most important job in the world, yada yada…I've heard the speech.

It's just that I don't feel so important, so connected. I don't feel so alive, so worthwhile. I don't feel like I've done anything yet with my unique skill-set. I'm still waiting for it. I'm still in development, but how much time do we have here? What's it gonna be?

When the hell will I grow up and BE already? When? When do I get there?

When does it get to be OK? Enough?

When we're not always worried about the mortgage and the heavy debt, where I'm not always one step away from throwing in the towel, breaking down, dropping everything, where I'm not always striving, but actually thriving, where things are cruising and we're ok? Better than ok? When I can finally rest a little?

We're always building, building, growing, nurturing over here…this something from nothing kind of life…it's exhausting!

Where's the bloom? Where's the harvest? Where's the heady scent of fulfillment, of result, of contribution? What have I done with my life all these years? What price chasing after illusive dreams that go poof.

There are few places in this world for idealistic thinkers like me who "never made it." If I keep reinventing myself…I will never be caught…I will never arrive…I will never stand still…I will never allow myself to bloom…

This "yank" pattern was established very early in my life…as a young child at the hands of her mother's whim. I can see the trail of breadcrumbs leading here…."no, it's your sister's turn, no you're too young, no, I'm tired of that place, no, I'm not driving you anymore, no, figure it out yourself, no, you don't deserve it…too bad!"

Yet it is a negative pattern that doesn't serve me now as I falter in self-doubt, as I size up my meager accomplishments in life. Unimportant. Second-fiddle. Unclear. Foot soldier. Never the captain. Passed over. Invisible. Broke. Unworthy. NEXT! Step down.

I wonder if the ocean has a mind. And if it does, does it serve itself well? Or, is having a mind a tricky part of the illusion, unique only to being human?

The ocean, in all its greatness, can rise up and strike with the ferocity of a tidal wave or tsunami when called to, can push past levees and wipe out entire cities, can run as low as the depths allow, and swallow whole whatever comes in its way.

Other days, it just smiles and sparkles, sunlight dancing across its fingertips, tickled and caressed, content within itself, reflecting beauty and joy to those who might gaze upon her surface, knowing full well what lies beneath.

My spirit hasn't felt like dancing lately.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Quick Learner

"Daddy, Daddy!"

Sienna is so excited to see her Daddy pick her up from pre-school, she is bursting with uncontainable joy. She does a running dive hug into his arms, squeezes him as tight as she can, then pulls away long enough to gather up her pink hoodie, purple lunch box and "go fast" sneakers.

Meanwhile, little Bobby Romano--half thug, half game-show host--vying for adult attention cuts in and begins to fake shoot at Daddy with his fingers…pop, pop, pop.

(For those just joining the story, back about a month ago Sienna announces she would be marrying this little punky preschool friend despite his known tendency for hitting, kicking and pushing.)

Sienna, having none of this, shouts back at him, "Don't shoot my Daddy!"

Bobby is clearly not listening.

He keeps shooting. Shooting and grinning. Pop, pop, pop.

"Don't shoot my Daddy!"


Determined to get his attention this time, Sienna announces,

"I'm not marrying you! Hmph!" she says, spinning on her heel, chin out, arms across her chest, walking away.

"Sienna, how come you don't want to marry him?" Daddy asks as he catches up to her.

"We tried it, it didn't work!" she snaps, as she runs towards the gate.


Sleepus Interruptus

My daughter gave up her afternoon nap right around the time she turned 2. All the other children would be napping and she was just...up. That’s been well over 2 years now folks.

For those of you doing the math at home, that made for a very, very long day home with a toddler. A marathon day. I had to work to manage my already low energy reserves just to get through the day with her, just to keep up with her. I truly earned that drink come happy hour. It never occurred to me until recently that she might have been one of those “highly spirited” children. Maybe that was why I was so exhausted all the time.

Now that she’s at preschool, it’s really the teachers who have to manage her while all the other children are resting. I am grateful for the break. But then, we pay for it in the nighttime routine. The endless nighttime routine. There is no free lunch, as they say.

Up until only a few months ago, it used to take 2 or more hours to get my child to sleep at night. Seriously. I kid you not.

I think it was brought on by the separation anxiety caused by her first year at preschool, because prior to that we didn’t have this sort of problem. Suddenly, she just refused to go to sleep. She wouldn’t close her eyes. She was awake.

We had to start
sleep training her all over...reading to her, lying next to her, rubbing her back, making her feel secure. It was a slow progression to sitting on the bed, then sitting on the end of the bed, then sitting on the chair next to the bed, then across the room while reading my own book with a little booklight and trying to ignore her yet giving her the security of staying close. This went on for almost a year.

And then came the laptop discovery.

The laptop threw it’s own light, and I could get a bit of work done while still being in the room with her. A solution. Suddenly I wasn’t so resentful of all that precious time spent putting her to bed. I discovered that the sound of tapping out emails meant that I was seriously minding my own business and not hers, and she would ultimately, finally, give in and drift off to sleep. One night when I didn’t have any emails to type, I opened up a letter and wrote this story instead. Anything to keep tapping.

I came across it recently in my drafts folder. I had forgotten about it. I share it with a mixture of nostalgia and relief. Relief that she finally goes to sleep on her own again.


Once upon a time there was this very lovely child. She had blonde hair and a crooked smile. She was beguiling.

This is her story. The story of her life as we knew it. The story of how she came to bed. The story of so much love for life that she couldn’t stay awake, yet she didn’t want to go to sleep either. She was caught between the awake and the asleep...waking night, dawn of twilight, leaping, twirling, enchanting mistress. Lost sleep. Lost hours. Always awake, never tired. Never resting, never rested. Drove her parents to despair as they tired quickly of trying to tire her out.

Sienna was, in general, a good little girl. She had a big heart full of sunshine, and love. And many, many thoughts. She talked incessantly from the time she woke up, until the time I insisted she stop talking and lay her weary, un-weary head on the pillow.

“Close your eyes” I soothed.

She did for all of 3 seconds. They blinked open, arms waving, legs still rolling from side to side.

“No, close your eyes “ I repeated, as I ran my fingertips lightly down her forehead, over her eyelids, down her nose and cheeks.

“You can do it” I said with certainty.

She giggled.

“It tickles” she said wiggling again.

I sigh. “Go to sleep. It’s bedtime.”

“Again. Do it again, Mommy.”

“Go to sleep.” I tell her as my jaw clenches. I try to breathe deeply, the breath of an ocean, but my blood is boiling.

We go through this every time, every night, even after very long days, early, late, in-between. This is the drill that we know. Nothing is working. Perhaps the sound of my typing will lull her to sleep I hope longingly, as I anticipate my exit strategy getting closer. I also anticipate the nightly routine getting shorter, and so perhaps, it might. So it might.


One of these nights.

One can only hope.


The other afternoon when I went to pick her up from preschool, the teacher told me Sienna had actually taken a brief nap during rest time. She had actually fallen asleep.

“What? Not my daughter.”

“Yes,” the teacher nodded, smiling.

“For real?”

True story.

I think I'm going to cry.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Practice

Lately I have been using running as a metaphor, a practice, a meditation, a way to heal the body, repair the emotional scar tissue, and deepen the connection to the spirit. It is self-guided. Intuitive. I sense its effectiveness because the personalized instruction that comes from within feels so spot on. Combined with the intuitive writing that follows, I feel I am being delivered my destiny in every session, flowing forward in some inevitable journey to self-actualization. At least, I hope so. It feels that way.

I don't "set" an intention, but one usually comes to me anyway. I just get out there and try to remain open to whatever my higher self wants to communicate. I tune in. I turn off the noise. I listen. This is why I like to do my practice in silence, and although I love company, I do my practice alone. I really want to "hear" what knowledge will be revealed to me as I jog along. There is wisdom there, I know it. In this way it is like meditation. Moving meditation. The inner-connection is strong even if the body isn't yet. The form of practice itself, in this case consistent jogging, is irrelevant to the practice. Jogging just seems to be working for me right now as a way to connect my body, mind and spirit.

I suppose any repetitive physical task would work as a means to connect to the deeper source. But right now I need to feel my body really move. I want to feel my sweat push the toxins out of my pores. I want to challenge myself physically as I attempt to untie the knots in my brain. I want to combine something physically taxing for my body, while inviting the inner calm of spirit. I want to build stamina inside and out. Running, contemplating, and writing, at least for now, at least for me, seems to be the magic combination.


As I jog up the hill behind the airport, I am aware of newfound strength in my legs. As my feet press off the pavement, I focus on the area where the back of my thighs push against my glutes with each stretch of leg behind me. I am aware of the extra bubblewrap there, the layers of flesh and flab, touching, pushing against each other as I move, acting as my own personal protection plan. I can "see" my inner body, hiding out underneath, the bones and muscles tentatively beginning to get stronger and reveal themselves.

Pretty soon, I will not need the padding anymore. Pretty soon, I will be strong enough to let it go. I know that day is coming. It is coming both physically and mentally, as I continue to get closer to my goals.

I am aware of the feeling "I am gorgeous inside." I laugh to myself because first, it sounds so ridiculous, so vain even, and second, it reminds me of a sign with that very phrase on it, tacked across a "For Sale" sign a few blocks from our house. The realtor must have thought, hey folks, I know the outside isn't much to look at, but please, consider the inside. Desperate maybe? Or a metaphor for life.

So one Sunday, we decided to check out the "I'm gorgeous inside" house just for fun. We walked the whole house in under 10 minutes and left shaking our heads. Gorgeous? Ah, that was a stretch…inside and out.

Obviously the buyer thought so too. No sooner had it sold, but the whole damn thing was razed to the ground. The "I'm gorgeous inside" was so gorgeous it was demolished! Not a scrap was saved. Not even the uninspired HGTV Ground Rules "concept garden" in the backyard. Nope. No landmark there. And true to the growing trend in housing these days, a brand new 2-story McMansion is currently being built to replace the awkwardly laid out 1-story dwelling. Next. Step down.

Now I'm not saying I'm not worth saving or ready to extinguish myself. No, not in the least. But not unlike that realtor, I am thinking that through all the layers of padding, there IS a lovely body and spirit in there. She just needs to be coaxed out. Renovated. I can pull the lumps of flesh away from my body, particularly in the middle and feel the muscle underneath. It's in there. Same with those padded thighs hitting my protruding ass. If I could just slice those cheeks in half, I'd be fine. More stairs, please.

As I run down the stairs, bobble, bobble, bobble, I intentionally loosen all the flesh in my legs while I go down each step. Shaking off the excess, feeling what's underneath, I try to connect to that part. I imagine that being the "real" me. The part I am trying to get to, coax out, reveal. It is that part I communicate with, that hidden potential of strength, as I push back up the incline two stairs at a time. The rest is a false sense of me. An illusion. A space suit. Unnecessary extra protection. What am I protecting anymore anyway?


Being sore from doing 2 workouts in a row due to my sporadic "routine" of late, I reduced the number of stair laps overall and on the return, slowed my pace down enough to do the sets while maintaining deep breathing…just like my fireman did, described in a previous post. Not in any hurry. Not huffing, not jogging, but slowly, evenly, consistently climbing. Barely breaking a sweat. Knowing my body already had the strength within itself, and then, just allowing it to execute the stairs effortlessly. Assuredly. Knowingly.

(Like writing. Knowing I already had the story, and then effortlessly, assuredly…letting it out onto the page.)

I'm not sure what my connection is to the LAFD or firemen in general, as prior to just recently, I never even paid them any mind at all. I guess ever since Les' daughter passed away and our block was lined with 3 trucks, I have become a little more aware of them. They seem to be everywhere.

The other day, we pass two uniformed firemen crossing the searing hot parking lot at the Rite Aid, while my daughter and I return enjoying our deal-of-the-century 99-cent ice cream cones to cool off.
(Not bad for drugstore ice cream.) Perhaps they had the same idea.

A long red fire truck lines the yellow-paved no parking zone at the local Albertson's where we sometimes shop for groceries. Must be chili cook-off night back at the station.

Then, Sienna latches onto an old childhood book of her father's called "The Fire Cat." It's about a rather mean alley cat named Pickles who ends up becoming a fire station mascot and a very good cat indeed. She insists we read it again and again.

Today as I was jogging down the back of the airport, I happen to look up just in time to catch another fire truck, engine #5, passing by…

Huh? What is it with fire trucks? And firemen?

And moving vans, for that matter. They seem to be everywhere these days. Is everyone suddenly trying to cash out of this crazy housing market before the inevitable crash? It seems every third house or so is on the market now, at least around here in the reportedly overpriced SoCal housing market.

Perhaps both trucks remind me of the inevitable… Passage. Change.



Make of it what you will. I'm staying strong.