Wednesday, January 21, 2009


"Why did you want to bring us here - we're going to FREEZE?" Steve asked with complete sincerity about an hour into our Inauguration "picnic" at Centennial Park.

He was right, there was no reason to corral everyone's hat and mittens, all the spare blankets we could scramble together, and our camping chairs. It made no sense to take the kids out of school, squeeze 6 boxes of Mac N Cheese into the thermos while still piping hot, or spend 10 minutes convincing Ellie she was really not going to want to wear the culottes, even though they were adorable (the girl is just like her mother).
From inauguration

But when we got there, and I detest the cold as much as anyone, I felt I had come "home". It's the same reason I drove Kennedy to South Carolina to canvass for Edwards, dragged the children to every political rally I could find this year, went public on marriage equality, and waited 2 hours as it got dark and cold for Bill Clinton to show up and speak at a college campus. Politics is my boyfriend - I love to flirt with it, think about it, and show up for the public events for it. Like a giggly high school girl chasing boys at the Homecoming football game, I feel alive when I join with others I don't know anything about to voice support for causes and beliefs I hold dear. These strangers are my people.
From inauguration

So, when CNN showed pictures of the moving van at the White House and the crowd around me cheered, when Obama took the oath of office and we literally danced with glee (Stevie included), and when we all stood mesmerized by the inspiring speech, I knew why the bitter wind and frigid air did not deter me. I wanted my children to tell their children where they were when the country "picked itself up, dusted itself off and began again with the work".
From inauguration

It was like a family reunion, I wanted them to know their heritage, to see all those who believe freedom is not defined by the right to shop at the mall of one's choosing, prosperity is not limited to the the state of our household budget, and citizenship includes paying a price for the better good of the community, not just our own self-interest.
From inauguration

Though they are too young to "get it", I thank the Ice Queen of January and her ruthless cold, for she cemented this day in their memory like initials drawn into a newly poured sidewalk. Now when my children feel their fingers and toes begin to tingle with frost, they will think of that day as they cried from the cold and huddled together under blankets, and they will joke at the craziness of their mother, and they will remember.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Getting things done

When I was a teenager in church I had a teacher who I didn't relate to very well. She gave a lesson one week about how if she did x (I couldn't even tell you what x was, though I was clearly not impressed to begin doing x) she could "get more things done". I vividly remember thinking to myself, "what are THINGS, is life only about getting THINGS done?" I assured myself I would never have that life.

Then I became a mother. . . of four. And it seems now, life is about getting things (read: laundry, dishes, housework, homework, taxes, bill paying, and so forth) done. Last year I got so sick of getting things done that I tried to count the things I got done that could not be undone (dishes, laundry and housework clearly do not qualify). I felt like it was a total waste to clean up one mess while the next room over was being destroyed. And you wouldn't think it was that hard, but I found I was thrilled if I at least got one of those every day.
From Christmas

Then I started having my mid-mother-life crisis. My middle child is half way done being home (they are SO leaving when they are 18) and I wondered, does she find my life as dull as I found my teacher's?
From Christmas

Then yesterday I watched Wally button his shirt, a feat for which he refused assistance and took no less than an hour to complete. I thought, "I couldn't be 3 again - are you kidding, if it took me an hour to button my shirt I wouldn't get anything done. But then I thought of little Wally, and how he could look at that shirt all day long and feel a huge sense of accomplishment. And how I look at all I get done with amazing efficiency, yet feel like I accomplish nothing because there's so much more to do.
From Christmas

In response to all this waxing philosophical, I am instituting "more fun, less done". I'm hoping fun takes many forms, learning new skills, discovering more about the people I love, making time for the tasks that bring me satisfaction, regardless of my efficiency. I'm not saying more play less work, but more meaning less mundane. I have finally done the math (with some help from a calculator) and doing it all is impossible, so I refuse to measure my existence by how many things I got done. Don't worry, Randy, I'll still do the laundry since I am still too poor to hire it out. But I will dispose of efficiency in favor of what makes me feel alive.

And we're starting tomorrow with the return of the sit-down hot breakfast. It's technically more work than the "throw it down the hatch in the car breakfast bar as we rush off to school hoping to beat the bell" (which totally works if hot breakfast doesn't make you feel alive), but oh, the joy of eating muffins with the people I love while talking about the hopes and dreams for the day, even if they are limited to getting one's shirt buttoned.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Therefore, be it resolved . . .

I've heard and read this phrase more times than I can count from my debating days of old. Be it resolved that Latin America needs political stability, that old people have a secure retirement, that jails and prisons be less crowded, blah blah blah. Only these resolutions were all for the federal government, much easier to resolve for someone else to do something than me.
From new year's eve

As for personal resolutions, I've had more than my fair share. I love to set a new goal, to write it down as if it were a reality, to picture myself 6 months down the road as a veritable icon of perfection having mastered these habits. And then, life happens. I see my messy closet I need to clean, I sign up for a project I have no desire to be a part of, the phone rings, etc etc etc and suddenly my resolutions have been put in the pile of unmated socks, scattered among childhood dreams and birthday wishes, once valued, now left in a pile to get to later. Could I even tell you what last year's resolutions were?

It must be a weak resolve, a lack of focus, a twittering will, or all of the above.

I'm coming to realize that it's more like my boys on the merry-go-round (we found a park that still has one) When you jump on and begin to spin the wind blows in your face, your hair flies free, and you still see landmarks as you pass them. But as it spins faster and faster, dizziness sets in and you no longer recognize anything you pass in form or in substance. I am spinning, holding on as tight as I can so I don't fall off, frightened that if I slow down, the exhilaration will fade and I won't like the things I pass by, the life in which I am surrounded. Yet the dizziness is overtaking me.

So this year I have only one resolution. Therefore be it resolved that Mel says yes. That I affirm the things I really want, those landmarks to spin by, and let the no's just happen, or fall by the wayside of the unpaired socks. There are some things I hope I say yes to this year:

homemade bread
weekly blog posts
early morning runs
anything my personal trainer asks (can't wait to start, Santa was very kind!)
weekend dates
eating more locally
extra snuggles with the kids
organized photographs
balanced budgets
clean closets
visits with friends

oh, the list could go on ad nauseam. But mostly I hope whatever I say yes to brings me grinning, cheek to cheek with Somebody New Year's Eve 2009.