Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Nourishing, Neutral, Depleting

I am going to start putting all thoughts and actions into three simple categories: nourishing, neutral, and depleting. And while neutral doesn't have to be negative, it can become so if there's too much of it. (Eg. dish washing, laundry, and cleaning are necessary neutrals, but there's a danger of depletion if you do too much of them. This is one of the many reasons people have husbands.)

So, some examples inspired by recent events:
• attending Jennifer Lauck's writing life workshop: CRAZY nourishing
• choosing conversation over sleep at every juncture during this trip: nourishing, b/c of the quality of the conversations
• throwing your heart into helping to empower and heal women from trauma: profoundly nourishing
• laughing hysterically at all the new tricks your almost-11-month old has learned in the 4-1/2 days you've been away: also profoundly nourishing

• reading People magazine voraciously as the plane takes off b/c you hate that part: neutral, but necessary (and fun, I'm not going to lie)
• unpacking: probably neutral, I wouldn't know. Maybe tomorrow?
• adding a third thing even when you don't have one because you totally buy into JL's rule of threes: neutral

• worrying about how in hell you are going to keep up with all of these incredible writers you have been admiring from the shadows: depleting
• the mental and emotional drop, a little sinking of energy as you realize it will be many months until you see these amazing women again: depleting, and totally worth fighting
• checking in online to see how things are going for Britney in rehab: VERY DEPLETING

And blogging after a glass of wine: PRICELESS.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

So happy to be here

I am completely humbled by the positive energy flowing my way. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement. Very few pistons are left firing in my brain at the moment, after moving directly from the red-eye into baby-land this morning, so I am saving my reading for tomorrow when (I hope) some synapses are popping back to life. That, and I couldn't take the computer into the bath tub, although the thought did cross my mind.

The only coherent thought I have left, after emerging from the heavenly salt and lavender bath I have finally taken, is that I need to buy some pj's made of soft, good quality material. I am too sacred now for this cheap stuff.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Sacred Mess

Stay together friends.
Don't scatter and sleep.
Our friendship is made
of being awake.

I annointed two kitchens with coffee this weekend, watched it erupt out of cups and pots, the dark liquid running along counters and dripping on floors, as hands with towels rushed to contain it and voices immediately comforted: no problem, don't worry. There was a lot of stuff around, a box of tissues here, a notebook there, gleaming laptops strewn on the floor among pillows, plates of nuts and cookies balancing precariously on oatmeal rugs, cream couches.

Sweaters nestled in loose wrinkles on shoulders and around collarbones, hair softened and curled in the humid air, socks and slippers snuggled unevenly on ankles and around toes. Eye makeup didn't stand a chance, as tears welled and rolled down cheeks, noses pink with emotion and empathy and love.

In the evenings, when smaller groups gathered, glasses fell off the side of the hot tub like apples from trees, knocked by passionate arms that could not be contained, moving with the rising voices and laughter in the night sky. They fell behind there, don't worry, there is no glass in our pathway.

The chaos of women's voices was a gorgeous, messy music, and our chorus leader, conducting with hands large enough to hold us all, took our breath away at every turn. There will be no turning these voices off. Until the middle of the night they pierced the air; belly laughter, open-mouthed gasps, and heartbroken tears, in concert together.

Finally, the last of us must separate, for a short time tonight, and a much longer time tomorrow. I brush the crumbs and pistachio shells off the sheets where we've been sitting and climb in. Okay, I will go to bed now. But I will never really be asleep again.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Getting Off the Train

I don't know when this trip began. Was it when I drove the U-Haul to New York after two years of waitressing and playing in Chicago, hurtling down whatever highway it was with my right thigh in tatters from the cat in the carrier next to me who, despite the kitty valium, spent 18 hours with his paws snaking wildly through the bars, clawing at my flesh. I frantically parked the U-Haul, deposited my stuff and my treacherous cat at my parent's house (he was declawed before you could say the word 'upholstery'), rushed to the mall to buy my first real “work” clothes, took my mother’s hair appointment (at her urging) to try and shape my hair into something remotely corporate, and jumped on the train to New York City, my first real job in publishing, and my first sales conference. Donning my new navy Ann Taylor jumper, collared shirt, heels, and name tag, I entered a suite filled with people wearing jeans and Hawaiian shirts who preceded to ask me for Eagle snacks all evening. My career had begun.

Or was it two years before that, when I pulled up to the blue and white walk-up on Newport St. in Chicago in my packed Plymouth Sundance, fresh from a summer-long post-graduation trip across the country and back with the first love of my life, my college boyfriend of 3 years who I knew I'd be leaving come September, and did. A wild group of girlfriends awaited upstairs and one of the many rooms in this run-down but bright and beautiful apartment had my name on it. My heart raced and I smiled wide as I stood on the sidewalk with my hand over my eyes to block the sun, looking up at the beginning of my new life.

Or maybe it was two short days prior to that, when I pulled away from my parents house in New Jersey to drive to Chicago and into my new life, away from my parents and two younger sisters whom I love, from the family home I grew up in from 2nd grade where I would never live again (okay, except for two short stints while apartment hunting in NYC, but those are other stories), from six years spent at a terrific private girl's school filled with great friends who would turn into amazing women, from four years at a wonderful small college filled with a posse of the closest girl friends a girl could have and I have to this day, and that dear boyfriend who, despite all the boys that followed, was bested in my heart only by my husband nearly 10 years later. I spent the first several hours of that trip playing Annie's Song over and over, sobbing and singing at the top of my lungs.

I can't pinpoint it, but it has been a loud, busy, and wonderful trip, full of many late nights at the office and many other late nights at bars and apartments full of booze and laughter and, in the early years, cigarette smoke. There were lots and lots of manuscripts, there were big disappointments and huge successes beyond (or because of) my wildest dreams. There were plenty of boys, as varied as the sky is wide. There was some yoga, but still there wasn't much quiet...there was too much busyness, and rushing, and noise. And while there was so much love, there was also way too much time spent turning things over and over in my mind, too much worry, too much obsession, too much static, and no spiritual direction at all.

I am profoundly grateful for my life, full of people I love dearly. I don't want to change them--but I am ready to change myself. I am a mother now. I have left the corporate world after 12 years. I have gotten off the train, walked down the steps into the grass, and I’m looking around. It's quiet, if I let it be. I can see some sky. I hear wind in the trees. There are new women walking towards me. I smell freedom, and something new. And I am open.