Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Totland Fun and a Blast from the Past!

A photo montage of last Wednesday with my dear friend, Belva (Mystress Fyre), down from Canada to work on The Crucible's Fire Arts Festival. She's back in Canada now, but returns in September permanently to once again teach fire perfomance and grace us all with her amazing self.

A bit of history:

This is our fire troupe, Kabari, which Belva founded three years ago, performing at The Crucible's 2004 Fire Arts Festival. We have since gone on to other things (Belva back to Canada, I had a baby...etc.)

Kabari 2
I am on the left, then Betsy, Belva and Summer.

Here is another particularly dramatic shot of Summer and myself (I am kneeling to the right seemingly engulfed in flame, while Summer spins near me):

kabari 5
Yes, I really do play with fire! (The stuff about the sharks and the scissors is also true, but those are stories for other times.)

Cut to one week ago, where we had a fabulous day at Totland in the sun. The Bit ran wild all over the park, with Monkey Boi, her ever present attendant, close at her heels. This gave Belva and I much chance to chat, compare lives and future plans.

Who's the Rock Star?
Who's the rock star?

Not so hot about the swing-experience, despite Monkey Boi's careful attentions.

Belva and Arabis
Staring contest. Belva and Arabis.

"Okay, so this one time, your mama was doing a show and there was this guy I knew..."

Yes. Belva was the woman who introduced Mojo and I and is thus indirectly responsible for my lovely daughter's being. She is also the best nanny in the world and I can't wait for her to come back to the Bay Area again and be a part of our lives!

NOTE: Fire photos by Waldemar Horwat. (Thank you!)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sleep Issues

Had an absolutely *horrible* time putting Arabis down tonight. She fought sleep in a visually taxing battle for two hours before finally passing out on my shoulder in front of the computer. We tried singing. We tried a bottle. We tried playing. We tried lying in bed together. We tried cuddling. The cat tried cuddling with us. Cat quickly left.

Cuir Bleu 2

It's so bloody hot in here. The skylight is open but offers minimal ventilation (it's 26 feet overhead). (I live in a warehouse, for those of you who don't know.) I can't open the door to let fresh air from the hallway in as the cats will run out. I can't open the front window without being assailed by exhaust and soot. The fan runs but only tends to blow the hot air around. I've been squirting Arabis and me with a bottle of water all day. We both had about an hour of human interaction after we bathed, but we can't spend all day in the tub. The diaper pail is starting to smell.

I'm sitting here in a pool of my own sweat, drinking fruit juice and water and wishing I liked alcohol more, 'cause this would be a perfect time for it. Oh, I talk a good talk about my fruity rum drinks, but the truth of the matter is, I hate booze. I like the *idea* of it, just hate the reality.

I need to cultivate a vice.

I used to smoke clove cigarettes. Only outside and very rarely...well, not so rarely in times of stress. I quit when I got pregnant and it was the easiest thing to do. There were no second thoughts, no cravings, no going back. Occasionally I feel the desire for one gnaw at my insides like a starving rat, but when the cheese is placed in front of me I turn my nose up at it. It disgusts me.

I actually kept some cloves. Four of them. In my metal cigarette case, with a zippo, on the gold shelf in the entryway. They are there and I know they are there. They know that I know that they are there. And even when I am feeling especially stabby and *really* wanting to smoke, I don't. I don't even look at them.

They're probably stale by now anyway.

I need the ocean. I need to surf, to kayak. To use my body again, feel strong and healthy. I have accepted that the weight gain with my pregnancy, besides the preeclampsia, could also be a product of quitting smoking. But now, fourteen months after Arabis was born, I am still the same weight. I am *FIVE SIZES* bigger than my good winter surf wetsuit (O'Neill Psycho Zen Zip, for those who care). Even my spring suit, which is a size bigger, in no way will fit my fleshy form.

The irony is I can still feel my muscles buried deep. I am still strong. I don't *feel* fat, but when I look in a mirror, or try on clothes, the truth is brought home with brutal clarity.

Heh. This was supposed to be a quick update about the challenges of putting a baby to sleep in 80 degree weather and my returning insomnia, and here I am tiptoeing off into the land of neurosis. Ring around the mental trash, psyches going to collapse. All fall down?

I'm going to be good and attempt to sleep early tonight. Whether I do or not will be apparent if I end up posting again.

It is lovely to have the house to myself though, without the boys around. Just me and my daughter. Fighting sleep.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Zombies! Zombies! And It's ALL YOUR FAULT!

We are all a little stretched to our respective limits here at Chez WTF. Monkey Boi is stomping around the house playing Ninja, wearing a red fleecy throw with multi-colored butterflies on his head topped by a red plastic garbage can (because I suppose that this is what the fashionable ninja is wearing these days).

Ninja 1

Mojo is surly and growling.

Arabis has turned into a little poop machine and stomps around clapping at everyone and everything. Four of the six teeth have broken through though, thank the deity of your choice!

Arabis Standing

And me? I have a headache the size of Cincinnati and a knee that looks like it was attached by Dr. Frankenstein. I just want to be kidnapped by a group of rogue beauticians and be massaged and pampered for a while.

Last Saturday, we had dim sum with Pixie Bleu and her brood, Shemena(with her boy Elvis) and another old friend, Janna. All told there were 11 of us, clustered around the table (including the two babies [in their Cuir Bleu onsies!] and two almost-teens) consuming vast quantities of lovely food. Our lateness was blamed on me, and Mojo gleefully related the following tale:

It was about 2:00 AM, and Mojo had finally gotten the Monkey Boi to leave him alone and go to sleep so he could work on a free-lance article he is writing for an obscene amount of money. He is wearing his headphones and typing away furiously on his laptop when he hears me scream, "No!"

He removes the headphones and comes to check on me, in bed with the baby and thrashing back and forth, still screaming at the top of my lungs.

"Zombies! Zombies! And it's ALL YOUR FAULT!!"

"Honey. Honey. Wake up. You're having a bad dream."

"No! They're going to get me! You did this! This is YOUR FAULT!!"

"Honey, you're going to wake the baby."

"Zombies! They're trying..."

"You're going to wake the baby."

"...to get me..."

"You're going to wake the baby."

"...and it's YOUR FAULT!!!"

"Honey. You woke up the baby."

"Wha...what happened? Where are they? You DID this to me!"

"It was just a dream"

"Where is the baby?"

"I've got her. She's awake. You've been screaming at the top of your lungs."

"Oh, okay."

This is the point where I apparently rolled over and went back to sleep.

I am woken at 3:30 AM by Mojo, seething with exhaustion, frustration and rage. He has been up with the Bit for an hour and a half and cannot get her to go back to sleep. He rouses me and gives me the baby, then takes the bed and passes out before I can object.

Arabis and I were up until almost 5:00 AM before I could finally get her to sleep. So, yes, we were a *tad* late to dim sum this morning. It did not dampen the festivities one bit.

Dim Sum 1
Janna, Shemena (with Elvis), Pixie, me (all friends since high school).

Dim Sum 2
Makana, Monkey Boi, C and Janna

Arabis and Papa 1
Arabis and a still-annoyed Mojo

Dim Sum 3
Silly kids

Dim sum cures all ills.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More Milk

After dinner this evening, as we were all sitting around the table chatting, Arabis looked at Mojo and clearly signed "More milk." We were shocked. Did she mean it, or was she just playing with her hands? So Mojo asked her if she wanted gatig (Armenian for milk - this is the word we actually use) and she repeated the signs.

So I gave her a bottle. She was happy as a little clam. I'm amazed. And surprisingly pleased.

Tonight at dinner, Mojo said he contacted a woman who was a "Mother's Helper" and was checking references. If they worked out, he was going to hire her for one morning or day a week to come and help me out. And I, like the silly woman I am, started crying, because my first thought was "I've failed." I've worked in museums, bought merchandise for national retail stores, coordinated huge corporate events for thousands of guests, have published poetry, run a successful business and taught hundreds of people to sea kayak...but I can't raise a baby and keep a house. Where did this come from? What the hell am I channeling?

"This is not the reaction I was expecting," he said.

Maybe if he'd asked me and discussed it with me before he just went ahead and did it, I would feel grateful. I am trying to accept that it is not a failure. That I never had the chance to properly "nest" and get the house ready prior to giving birth (bedrest due to preeclampsia) and afterward it was impossible (recovery from emergency c-section, inability to breastfeed and intense post-partum depression).

But I hate the disorder we're currently living in and I am unable to combat it alone.

Perhaps after I sleep tonight (if I sleep tonight) I will have a better perspective on everything tomorrow.

Still much to ponder and relate after the funeral, but I haven't the ovarian fortitude to tackle it right now. I pray for sleep. There is nothing worse than insomnia on top of sleep deprivation.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Will wonders never cease? Not only was my mother actually mentioned in the obit, but both my daughter and I are included in the count of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Although there is a mysterious fourth grandchild listed, this is most likely a mistake on my uncle's part (the miscount, not the grandchild).

There is no mention of his Masonic ties, which is a shame. He was a Mason for over 70 years (32nd degree) and a past master. It was a thing very important and central to his life, but because of my uncle's wife's conviction that "Masons drink blood from the skulls of babies" there was no mention. When my mother talked to one of the lodge brothers (who happens to be a cousin) he mentioned that he would be honored to do a Masonic funeral, which would be more than appropriate. When my mother called my uncle he shot her down quite rudely and vehemently. So we are having a Catholic priest, the same one who performed the funeral for my grandfather's hated wife. We are not Catholic. But my uncle is in charge and all will done his way, whether it is the "right way" or not.

I am leery of seeing my uncle and his wife. My last contact with them resulted in her not letting me in their house because I was "a witch" who wore all black and consorted with the devil. You see, many years ago she found that "old time religion." You know the kind: speaking in tongues, laying on of hands, burning heretics. She's been trying to get me on the fire for years.

I am going to the funeral for my mother. To protect her, to stand by her, to support her. That is the only reason I go. My last contact with my grandfather was five and a half years ago and resulted in him rudely pushing past me and out the door of the family's store. In speaking with my "sister" (who holds that title purely because of my grandfather) she said to remember the good and let go the bad. But I find it hard to remember the good.

The reality is that he left almost no direct impact on my life whatsoever. But his actions affected it like the ripples of a stone sinking in a pond, a voice echoing in a cave. My memories are of the repercussions of his actions, of his extreme selfishness and sense of entitlement.

He was a charming man, handsome and shallow, who passed through life exerting the least amount of effort necessary. My grandfather cast no shadow. He caused those who loved him great pain simply by his inability to do.

My grandfather was a wraith, a living ghost. His death is almost an afterthought. His crimes were those of inaction, insensitivity and inability. Nothing really touched him. Already dead inside.

The hypocrisy of death, that we musn't speak ill of the dead. Does that automatically canonize a sinner? Does this mean we musn't speak the truth?

"And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"

from The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


My grandfather died around 4:00 PM yesterday. And I am a mass of odd emotions, feeling things I didn't think I'd feel. Emotions I can't allow myself to express right now because of the presence of the kids. I'm drained.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Twelve Stitches Later...

Just a very quick update to say thank you for all the calls and well wishes.

Mojo stayed home from work today and has been wrangling the baby and the boi. And me? What have *I* been doing? Sleep. Wonderful sleep. There has been much, much sleep. And napping. Did I mention the naps? There have been two naps already today. Lovely, lovely naps.

The upshot of this is that the swelling has gone down tremendously. I can even wiggle my toes now! I am also able to put a little bit of weight on my leg. Go me!

My mom is coming over tonight when Mojo goes off to do his radio show and tomorrow I have a couple people who'll be stopping by. If anyone else wants to come, we'll make it a party!

There needs to be some musing on the fact that Mojo has been primary caregiver for the last 36 hours...something he has been more than a little nervous about. He is doing *fabulously* and Arabis is shining with so much Papa time.

Off to take more drugs now...and possibly another nap.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Aborted Trip to the Land of Carnivorous Plants

This weekend was the trip to one of my oldest friend Shannan's house in rural West Marin to celebrate her daughter, Xinia's first birthday. Shannan and I have been friends since the summer of 1980. I was fourteen and she was twelve. Even then, she was taller than me!

She left Oakland to live with a man who is the caretaker of a large ranch in Marshall, West Marin. They now live in a house built on the foundations of an old milking shed, behind a 19th century farmhouse, in the middle of hundreds of acres of some of the most beautiful country in Northern California.

When I found out I was pregnant, Shannan was the first person I called. Two weeks later, she called me to tell me the same news. We shared our pregnancies and this first year of our daughters' lives. Though we now live over an hour's driving distance from each other, we talk once a week to compare stories and milestones.

This visit would've been the first time we'd seen each other in a year.

With Shannan and babies

Here is a photo of Shannan and I last July, when our daughters were new. This is in her greenhouse, filled with Venus Flytraps, Pitcher and other carnivorous plants.

Last year, I took Monkey Boi out to visit and he spent at least an hour gleefully hunting insects to feed the plants. He has been looking forward to this visit for the last week.

Yesterday afternoon, we made the trek from civilization out to the coast, driving through the redwoods while the kids dozed in the backseat. Mojo and I have been very companionable the last few days, and the ride was filled with talk and happy banter.

We exited Highway One and head up the side road that quickly became dirt. We had to stop twice to let wandering herds of cows cross the path or to wait for them to clear out of the road. Two miles of dirt road and a steep hill later, we arrived for the party.

Within 15 minutes, I was laid out on a bench in the kitchen with a inch deep gash just under my knee. We ended up going to the hospital in Petaluma (which just happens to be two miles away from my mother's house). Mom met us there and took Monkey Boi, while Arabis and Mojo stayed with me.

Gentle reader, I leave you with this, as I am in too much pain to continue writing and need to go and elevate my leg. I fell. I hit a rock in a bad way. I now boast 12 stitches in my right knee, nine on the surface and three about half an inch down to hold the tissue together. I cannot drive the Bit to her doctor's appointment tomorrow. I cannot baby wrangle. I cannot bend my knee. And tomorrow is the first day of Mojo's new job, so he cannot stay home with us.

Anyone want to come over and help the invalid tomorrow?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Post coming soon with lots of photos. I promise! I'm still trying to recover from the long holiday weekend and getting used to wrangling two kids, since Mojo's 12 year old son, Monkey Boi is visiting for the summer. The Bit is excercising her free-will and inherited-from-both-sides tenacity and currently on a nap strike, so there hasn't been a lot of free writing time.

But soon. I promise! Lots of good stuff. Don't go away.