Thursday, December 31, 2009

The First Pancake - For my MamaFriends

Okay, I don't usually discriminate in terms of who I write my posts to. They are for anyone who wants to read them. And that is also true of this one. But this one, on the last day of one of the worst years of my life (and after 2007-2008 that is saying ALOT!) is especially for my MamaFriends out there. A little uplift for the year that passed and the one to come.

After I gave birth to Max (the second baby) I developed a theory - that the first baby, while she may have more clothes and pictures of her, is the first pancake. You use up all your ridiculous, obsessive, please-wash-your-hands-before-holding my baby energy. Especially if you fancy yourself an Alpha-Female leaving the work world to stay home and be fulfilled by motherhood (insert tongue in cheek or spit coffee on monitor). I was so obsessed with "The Vivi" (yes, I called her that in utero!) that I sent a detailed two-page letter of instructions with her to my mother's house when she stayed away from us for one night when she was 5 weeks old. My mother is a seasoned mother of two and a nurse! I actually wrote down what to do if she coughed or woke up in the middle of the night. Meanwhile I forgot to take my breast pump with me to the hotel and spent the entire night in utter agony! My mother was appropriately kind and just smiled at me while I left her apartment. She then called one of her best friends to laugh about me. I get it. I deserved it.

When making pancakes, even if you heat the skillet until water droplets dance you will probably turn it prematurely or flip it too carefully causing the batter to splatter and stick to the side of the pan. It happens. Hyper-vigilance. That can often lead you to make some intense decisions regarding that precious first pancake. More often than not it makes its way to the garbage or you give it to your husband or dog to eat. They become responsible for absorbing the joy and gooey goodness of the first pancake. You, the pancake-maker, are often too traumatized by your perceived failure to enjoy what the pancake has to offer.

I made pancakes on this beautifully snowy last day of 2009. And the first pancake was perfection. Golden brown and fluffy. I was enchanted, lovingly bathed it in vegan butter and put it in the oven to warm. As time went on - I had to finish the pancake batter - the pancakes were not as pretty and some of them got a little burnt. Not enough to put in the garbage (I do have two boys) but enough to think - wow, I didn't pay ANY attention to them did I? And today is when the first pancake theory expanded.

I have jokingly said that we will open a 529 for our children's college fund or their therapy. It seemed almost inevitable that no matter what I did as a parent they would need help when they got older. But that is not necessarily true. Here I am at the end of 2009, a year supposedly filled with hope and Yes-we-canitis and I cannot wait for midnight to roll around here on the east coast. I no longer abdicate, to history, the raising of my children; especially my beautiful-first pancake. Just because I needed therapy (lots and lots of therapy) doesn't mean that my children will need it. And just because I rebelled against my parents and could not communicate with them or anyone for quite some time does not mean that that is the fate of my children. And just because my first born is a girl does not mean that we are "doomed" to the complicated mother/daughter drama. All of these scenarios become true if I take my eye off the pan. If I allow them to burn through my inattention. Oh, I am not going back to the hypervigilance of those first heady-new-baby days rather settling into the comfortable rhythm of an experienced Mama. Keeping at least one eye on the pancake at all times! Well, most of the time :)!

Happy New Year

We are blessed may we recognize the blessing

in peace



Wednesday, December 30, 2009

So long and thanks for all the fish.

Ever feel like just bailing? I mean getting up and walking out on your life? Leaving the job, the house or apartment, the responsibilities and hitting the open road? I have been mentally feeding my wanderlust lately. It has made me restless. That lets me know I am on the verge of something really big. Mary, one of the travelers in Eric Overmyer's play "On the Verge" ends the play by asking "what's next?" She decides that she doesn't know, so much adventure ahead of her but she knows she is "on the verge." There is something incredibly sublime and frustrating about feeling on the verge of something. You need patience to ride that wave and allow the new to be born. Patient is one thing I have never really been. And rather than live in that discomfort of not knowing - I would rather bail. That has to be easier right?

I think I am learning, however, that when I get these feelings the best thing to do is to get still and stand. Wherever I am. In the middle of whatever it is. Ugh! But my feet want to move. It's uncomfortable. It is unsteady, uncertain and definitely not safe. My skin is crawling and there are clearly ants living beneath my epidermis. I find myself talking, out loud, to myself just to have sound to allay the disquiet. But what of the dolphins as they ascend much like the Virgin Mary, off the earth? They tell the doomed earthlings in Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "So long and thanks for all the fish." Why don't they warn them or try to save them instead of leaving them to their doom?

Because they have to save themselves. And that's how I feel lately. That I have to save myself. I am the only one who can. But from what? From the annoyance of not knowing what is next? Yes. So today I literally stretched my body into uncomfortable positions and starting breathing. And the ants stopped marching and the voices stopped nagging. That entire time that I was stretching and breathing inside my world was silent. Ahhhh. Is it really that simple? Yes it is. I am no longer lamenting it taking me 38 years to get certain lessons. There are people who have had 38 lifetimes and are still working on their lessons. 38 years I can take. So to the disquiet, the discomfort and the annoyance for today I say: So long and thanks for all the fish.

We are blessed may we recognize the blessing

in peace


p.s. I thank Ilya for giving me that book to read one day. It is true almost everything can be accomplished with a towel. Don't forget it.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Doing the dishes is a place where I get a lot of ideas. I spend a fair amount of time doing dishes (but not nearly enough). My husband tells me that he hasn't read too many blogs like mine. There is spell checking here and complete sentences and thoughts. That's because it takes me a long time to write these posts. I think about them for a few days before I commit to writing and publishing. Mostly because I want to work through the entire thought before I put it down and also because I am sensitive to criticism. Today I want to write about obsession, transference and projection and presence/charisma.

I think at many times in my life I have been guilty of all of these things. Sometimes at the same time! And I am writing about this in hopes that somewhere out there is someone who does the same thing. Someone who feels the same way so I am not alone in what Freud perceives to be psychosis! (I know, f@#k Freud!)

Obesssion:: "a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling." Wow. I don't think my obsessions are unreasonable. I mean I could really marry Will Smith, right? But that is not one of my obsessions, any longer. It is often around an idea and sometimes a person. Once after a rather unfortunate and painful breakup in college my friend Anna remarked that I said that person's name more than I said the word "the." She was obviously tired of hearing me talk about that person and that situation. I immediately stopped. I didn't stop thinking about the situation or the person, and I didn't stop mulling over the "what ifs" in my head. But I did stop talking about it out loud. I am not sure when that obsession ended, it took awhile. But it did end. In the meantime I learned some really valuable lessons about being in a relationship and communicating with people. I learned a lot about how I processed and expressed intimacy. And in the end it felt as though the "obsession" was good for me, it helped me work through some internal issues. But at the same time it was my WORST semester in college. I blew off my responsibilities and rarely went to class, relying instead on my charisma to get me through the semester.

Obsession can also be a great avoidance measure. Right now I am coming to the end of a rather time-consuming and expensive obsession - the work of Anna Deavere Smith. I could probably say that the obsession extends to her as well. I have read everything I can about her. Watched several videos and seen her play "Let Me Down Easy" three times. In the process of this unearthing I have learned so much about me and how I make art and what moves me. I have found my inspiration again. But at the same time I have avoided finishing job applications and have used this obsession to block other rather important tasks, like grieving the illness of a friend. I tell myself that I AM grieving because this person shares my almost twenty-year love of Anna. Or is that an excuse?

Transference and Projection: They are pretty much the same thing. You take your feelings and transfer them to someone else or project them onto someone else. I have been thinking about all the people I transfer my feelings to. My children, my husband, past romances - especially those that ended badly, professors, teachers, friends, therapists (wow, that's a post in itself!). I am never quite sure that things I am experiencing, with regards to other people, are actually how I feel about them or if it's just my issue. One of my many Mamas told me that if I had a problem with someone I should check myself first. So I tend to do a thorough excavation of my feelings when I first meet someone. And I am usually pretty good at telling in the first seconds of meeting someone whether or not we will get along. And as I have gotten older I tend to trust that feeling more and move on if I feel that this relationship is not going to yield any healthy fruit. The people who have gotten entire documentaries projected onto their person are few - but they exist. And I appreciate their being there for me to play out the movie of my life. I don't necessarily think that that's a bad or negative thing. It's just a thing.

And the last greedy shark swimming around my undisciplined mind is Presence, something I call charisma. That thing that draws your eye to a person. That thing that makes you want to get to know them, get to love them. I don't think there is universal presence. Bill Clinton has so much presence but I know a few Republicans who would disagree. So I want to posit that presence, charisma is subjective. It is another thing that comes through our eye and excites and fascinates us. The people we think have presence are also the people we find attractive - are drawn to. And I am trying to unravel how that happens too. What is it in me that finds distinguished professor-types charismatic? Or that draws me to motorcycles and people with tattoos. Is it that that is what I want to be? Or is it that that person is what I want to have?

I know that most of this can be perceived as psycho-babble and some of you stopped reading at Will Smith, but I am really trying to make sense of these issues because I think they are going to unlock the central theme to this piece of theatre I am working on. I wrote about it earlier in my post on intimacy. How do we get close to someone? And why is it that we want to be close to a certain someone? Anna Deavere Smith writes in Letters to a Young Artist, that presence is feeling that that person (the object of your gaze) is right next to you because you long to have them there. Long to have them there. So I am trying to get to the root of the longing, the root of the craving. Ground zero of our passions. What do you think?

Photo:Freud's Couch - Wikipedia

Friday, December 4, 2009

Kiss Me

Alla That's All Right But,
Somebody come and carry me into a seven day kiss
Somebody come and carry me into a seven day kiss
Somebody come and carry me into a seven day kiss
I don't need no historical, no national, no family bliss
I need an absolutely one to one seven day kiss.
- Sweet Honey in the Rock

There is some kiss we want with out whole lives.
- Rumi

The two most intimate things a person can ever do, in my opinion, is to feed someone and to kiss someone. We as Americans don't take our food seriously. We don't think that feeding someone is a sacred act, but that which you have prepared is going into someone's body to nourish them and sustain them. What could be more personal than that? Kissing is something else all together.

We think of a kiss as two lips touching a part of another's body. But in Merriam-Webster's dictionary the secondary definition of "kiss" is "to touch gently or lightly" and "to come in gentle contact." Nothing about lips in that definition.

Three weeks before my college graduation my answering machine played the above verse of the Sweet Honey song, after asking for the seven day kiss, I said into the machine: "If that is you or you want to give me a job, leave a message." Did I really want someone to literally kiss me for seven day - no. I wanted someone or something to touch me gently for seven days, seven weeks, seven years. I wanted to be inspired.

I am working on a project about intimacy. And I am thinking a lot about food and kissing. And I am thinking about the attention we pay to each. None actually. How are we intimate with other people? How do we connect with them? How do we feed them and kiss them and how do they kiss and feed us? Intimacy, I am learning is very difficult to define and even harder to attain. It is magic. You know it when you see it. And you know when you are lacking it but are not always sure how to get it. I am still working on it. In the loud, busy, constantly moving world we live in how do we make human contact?

Let me know your thoughts. Kiss me.

We are blessed may we recognize the blessing.

in peace


photo by: Chris Spira