Sunday, January 23, 2011

An Experiment in Meditation

I've been thinking about meditating.

My mother started meditating in the 70s and enlisted my older sisters: her guru gave them all mantras. It was the Californian answer to our modern Ridalin and Xanax I think, because while it's meant a lot to my mom since then, I think she was also looking for some way to soothe my break-neck sister. The guru said it would help.

I know it's made sense for my mom, but I remember her telling me the entire experiment was a disaster for my sisters. It's hard to get kids to sit for five minutes in front of a brownie, so I get it.

I only heard about the mantras and the guru years after it happened. We'd moved cross country, and in the years that followed, I'd grown old enough to hear stories of the life that they lived there. I was always so jealous! I wanted a guru too! Why didn't I get a guru?

I wanted to be just as alive as they were then. When they laughed and reminisced about things that were less than shadows for me, I made up stories about how I "remembered" things too. They humored me. I was eight, or maybe nine, but I knew even then that we were all in on the joke.

At some point -- I don't know when exactly, I might have been 11 when it first happened -- I think I started meditating. I don't know exactly how best to explain this, but there were moments, stretched over years, when I would very purposefully say a word over and over and over and then...

It would feel like laughter and crying all at the same time and also, in one brief moment, like I was meeting myself.

I can't explain it any better than that. I felt like I was meeting myself and it just filled me with immense happiness to be connected, for one quick second, with me. I was face to face with me and it was nothing but joy.

(I wonder if this sounds horribly narcissistic.)

From 11 to about 20, I could go there, with effort.
I have no idea what ended it, though sometimes I think that falling in love with my husband meant something. We lose ourselves when we fall in love -- in a good way. Same goes for having kids.

Now that our love affair has mellowed and my children have grown up a bit, I've started thinking about that weird magic I once had.

So, I've decided that I'm going to try it again. (And sometimes I think writing has been my lame attempt to do it without knowing...) I'm going to say that word, do that kind of mediation that I co-opted from my mom and my sisters' experience (that I was never a part of), and I'm going to see:

if magic can happen again.

Stay tuned...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Putting on the Big Girl Boots

Winter separates the girls from the women. If the cold won’t break you, the treacherous sidewalks might. Tack on the lack of day light, the stink of wet wool, the skid of tires on ice-packed streets and it’s enough to make even the most hearty of us whimper in defeat.

I have a friend who is permanently cheerful. She laughs more than she speaks and sees the cup not as half-full but as beautifully overflowing. Her joy is infectious, so when she tells me that after four decades of New England winters, she is “done with it” and depressed, I realize how much trouble the season can be.

We talk for a while over the phone, plan imaginary tropical get-aways, and when her children dump their soaked winter-wear on the floor of her kitchen, she sighs.

“Guess we should get our big girl boots on,” she says to me, and I agree.

Meanwhile, my big girls boots are like mini-trucks for my feet and while they keep out the slush and cold, I feel like I’m wearing flippers sometimes. No matter though, since there is nothing dainty about scrambling over a snow bank to get a child and his backpack into the car.

While my husband and I split many of the domestic chores, he is still the primary shoveler. I clean off the cars, which mostly consists of me blasting the defrost, while he breaks his back moving cement-like snow from our paths and driveway. The kids are no help as they are too busy trekking in and out, in and out, and leaving mugs of half drunken hot cocoa everywhere. Still, they spend hours outside making literal mountains out of molehills and sledding their way into heaps of hilarious fun.

It’s not so bad, really.

There are upsides to the winter, I tell my sad friend. It’s beautiful for one, I say, especially after this last storm, which seems to have been flash frozen all around us. The trees seem almost architectural, outlined in white, twisted into new forms and creating tunnels out of ordinary roads. And with hairdos squashed and mangled under wooly ski caps, there’s no need to worry about looking permanently bed-headed.

Plus, delayed school openings are the best of both worlds: a lazy wake-up and no need to rush makes for the most pleasant of mornings.

So, we’ll zip up, stack layer over layer, invest in quantities of chapstick and toe warmers, eats mounds of spaghetti and chocolate chip cookies, and wait for the thaw that will come.

In the meantime, we’ll lace up the big girl boots and get on with it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1.11.11 from Ten Years Old

When I was ten, I imagined this day: the day I would turn 41 -- 1/11/11.

If I had written something then, it might have read like this:

Dear Old Picket,

What's it like to fly?

Is your husband, Jason Bateman, still friends with that Ricky kid?

How are your two daughters -- Perseponee Wildflower and Kool Carol...

(Also: do babies really come from Space? Have you figured that out in the FUTURE?)

I hope you are being a very good and fair Supreme Court Judge, especially on your off days when you are an NFL commentator.

It is very cool to have a birthday like this, with all these numbers in a row,
except for that fact that you must be very, very old.

I hope Jason Bateman is like, the best husband ever.

See you in 31 --

MsPicket (age 10)

PS you: Do good. Laugh. Drink from the fountain:

Polite Fictions

You must go here.

We're going Sins and Virtue and stuff over there.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's Almost Like I Eat BonBons All Day

This morning, one snooze button push after the alarm went off at the crack of way too early for me, I zipped a fleece jacket over my jammie top and slipped on day-old jeans. I raced downstairs, made breakfast (ie: nuked pancakes), made lunches, found lost socks, mopped up a puddle of syrup, got everyone out and phew! That was done.

Did some work while swilling coffee. Left to run errands. Talked to the bank teller, talked to a shop keeper, talked to my friend Amy who I bumped into at CVS.

Came home.

Realized I forgot something. Left home again. Came home.

Considered eating healthy lunch but instead opted for left-over chicken wings.

Did a little more work. Answered emails.

Cleaned the kitchen. Swept the floor. Talked to the dog.

Picked up the GFYO, neighbor kids and one extra. Slipped on ice but did not fall.

Answered questions about the Arctic Circle which as everyone knows is my speciality. Found an eraser that actually worked. Picked up four coats and five mittens.

Found sixth mitten in the driveway. Booyah!

Sent some emails. Wrote some invoices. Figured out new software on computer. Solved the mystery of why my daughter's knees are blue.

Talked to the Kid who is working in yet another foreign country.

Dropped GFYO's play date off at his home. Made dinner (ie: store bought rotisserie chicken), scooped ice cream, found lost homework, wiped ice cream off hands, mouth and ears of GFYO, wiped ice cream off fridge, oven and dog. Read stories, listened to a story, folded laundry, threw another load in, sorted the mitten/hat/what have you basket, cleaned the kitchen and phew! That was done.

I was hot. Unzipped fleece jacket. And, yep, that's right. I spent the entire day in my jammie top.

I am, it turns out, a delicate lady of leisure.