Thursday, August 30, 2012

gettin' nothin' dun

Gettin nothin dun
Berkeley, August 2012

I am not sure that I have ever had such an unproductive day.
At least, not on a day when I'm supposed to be productive.

Worry, worry, fret
Scheme, talk, scheme
Vent, rant, process, chat
Crave a nap, crave a nap, crave a nap

Second day of kindergarten.
Schedule chaos.
Mental exhaustion.

Am I heading right, or going left?
Where am I supposed to be right now?
What am I forgetting?

It's going okay for Elan. Like I said, I think he's more ready for this than I am.
As for me, I've been trying to focus on work while really counting the minutes till Zumba. For about the last three hours.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

on cycles

When Emry was born, I had three living grandparents. Now, as he approaches his second birthday, I have one.

Emry and my Grandma Syl, New Jersey, June 2012

I was doing a puzzle with Elan this morning, remembering when he first started liking puzzles two years ago. He was six inches shorter then.

At the end of a 7-hour flight just me & my boys, June 2012

When Elan was Emry’s age, he had the same gorgeous wispy-curled blonde hair as Emry does now. People thought he was a girl, just as they think Emry is a girl now. When I was too lazy to comb it out and it got full of dreadlocks, the Peruvian woman who ran his nursery school stuck him in the bathtub, plastered it down with heavy-duty conditioner, combed it out and put him in braids.

Elan at 2 years old, Berkeley, February 2009

When I picked him up, I couldn’t find him in the yard full of children. I didn’t recognize him from the back.


Now he’s starting kindergarten. I know it’s a happy occasion, but everytime I think about it, I feel a mix of uncertainty about the future and nostalgia for my first baby, my first toddler, my first preschooler…

Elan at 22 months, the same age Emry is now, San Diego, September 2008

Today I realized that he’s better prepared to start kindergarten than I am to have him start. Is that what parenting is – always being a few steps behind? Always thinking that if you could just push the “pause” button, you could catch up? I spoke with my grandmother, and she said, “Time moves on. You can’t stop it.” And I know that, of course. But ever since Elan was born two weeks early, I’ve felt behind, unprepared for the next thing, like I’m forever caught still prepping the tiny layette while he’s busy outgrowing it. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve held on to the thought it was because he was born early – that giving birth 14 days ahead of schedule set me on a course of catch-up. But maybe that’s just the nature of parenting, at least when you are a person who leans toward nostalgia, as I do.

Elan at 22 months, just after we moved to Berkeley, September 2008

I’m not sure if he’s nervous about starting kindergarten. I’m not even sure how much he’s thought about it. I’m trying not to impart my own ambivalence on him by talking about it much, since my older child can smell insincere enthusiasm from a mile away. And the summer has been so busy with travel and visits, there’s hardly been time. And now the first day is upon us. His backpack is ready, his lunch is packed, his clothes are laid out on his bedroom floor for tomorrow morning.

Blackberry picking in Washington state
Blackberry picking, Birch Bay, Washington, August 2012

I look back to the possibilities for this year Mikhail and I created together, on a cold January afternoon on the beach: love, light & taking the next step. There is nothing to do but take that step that scares you. Tomorrow, we will hold hands and walk together through the gates of the elementary school. 

Heaven for a Star Wars obsessed 5-year-old
Heaven for a Star Wars obsessed boy, Legoland, San Diego, July 2012

And today, on the last day of summer vacation, I took my boys to the botanical gardens for a walk and Elan and I baked cookies together while Emry was napping. I pushed "pause," even if it was just for a few moments.

Botanical garden, Tilden
Redwoods at the botanical garden, Tilden, today

Thursday, August 23, 2012

that thing i thought i hated

Camera Roll-889
View on this morning's run, Birch Bay, Washington, August 2012

My father is a runner. My mother is a runner. My sister is a runner. My grandfather was a long-distance runner. Running is in my blood.

But, up until about six weeks ago, I thought I hated running. My dad used to run track, and he wanted me to run in high school. "Do something with a finish line, something that's not so subjective," my dad said to his dancer daughter. Envious of my Mother/Father/Sister's obvious post-run sweat-streaked high, I dabbled in running. I tried running on family vacations in San Diego, on the beautiful flat boardwalk, and ended up with an aching tongue and itchy legs, two of the strangest running-related maladies ever. 

The only time in my life that I've run regularly was for a few months during my sophomore year in college, when I was suffering through a significant break-up, so miserable and angry that all I could do was try to run away from my heartbreak. It gave me a modicum of peace (though the antidepressants were undoubtably more helpful), but I didn't enjoy it. Since then, whenever the subject of running has come up, I've thought how glad I am to be happy enough that I don't have to run!

But then, two months ago, a weird thing happened. I started thinking about running. I read an article in - of all places - Real Simple magazine about a group of non-running women who started running. One mile. That's what they ran to start. And I thought I could do that. Not because I'm unhappy. Not because I'm desperate, or angry, or running away (except for that one morning, when both kids were hollering as I shut the door and ran down the driveway, boy did that feel good). Just to see if I like it. Because it's fast. Because you can do it anywhere. Because all you need is a pair of shoes. Because I'm on a quest to lose the rest of The Baby Weight before The Baby is doing arithmetic. 

Mikhail made me a short playlist of high-energy tunes. I watched two videos of "How to Run" on YouTube.

I ran one mile. And it felt fine. I ran nice and slow, and only one mile. My tongue didn't ache. My legs didn't itch.

So I ran again. One mile.

When we were in San Diego with my family, everyone got quite a kick out of asking me, "How was your run?" A standard question in my family, and now it was directed to me. I lengthened my run to 1.5 miles. I ran up the steep hill. 

In New Jersey, I went for a run the day after taking an overnight flight. When I came home, my Dad said, "Whenever I run after an overnight flight, I feel like my legs are full of lead." He captured the exact sensation.

In Portland, I ran with a friend, and she (gently) pushed me to run much further than I have alone. We ran over 3 miles, and I wasn't even sore the next day.

This morning, I went on my 15th run.

Maybe I am related to these people after all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

we miss you already

Matty Brams
July 1919 - August 2012

My grandfather looking at me, New Jersey, June 2012

The deep well carved by grief
is the space through which brilliant light eventually shines.
-Jessica Rios