The Art of Seduction

Late last night, after the fireworks, I was trying to seduce David.

"Wanna make out?"

I'll admit it wasn't my best effort. He changed the subject.

"What was your post about?"

I handed him my phone so he could read it.

Then he said, "Three out of the last four posts have a picture of me."

I may have a little obsession going and admitted as much to him. He smiled.

"I'm glad you're writing again." And he nuzzled my neck to prove it.

"Me too. Though the first chance I get, I've got to clean up that sidebar."

"Are you going to change the banner?"

I nodded, wondering how I could get him to nuzzle my neck again.

"And change the name?"

My eyes opened. Whoa. Tread carefully now. "No," I said, warning in my voice.

"But aren't you done having regrets?"

Poor man. He can't stand the thought of me being the least bit miserable. Even worse when it's my own doing.

"No. And this blog is the answer to those regrets."

And so I rehearsed it again. About how my greatest regret is the way I treat the people I love, how I don't say the things I should and how I always say the things I shouldn't, how I leave the most important things out, and only remember to include things about taking out the garbage and picking up the clothes. This blog is the answer to that. So that they will know for sure how deeply and fiercely I loved them, how awed and amazed I was by them, how carefully I watched them and how constantly I thought about them and how completely I measured and treasured my life by them.

The other regret, of course, is that I never did any writing, that I was too scared and too overwhelmed and too utterly terrified to even try.

"But did you ever explain that?" he asked, "About the two regrets?"

"Yes," I said, "and it's implied in every post I've ever written."

"I think you should make it a subtitle."

"A subtitle?"

"Ya, 'The Two Regrets: and then what you just said.'"

"You mean that paragraph I just said?"

He nodded. I grinned at the thought of a two hundred word subtitle. And it just got funnier and funnier until I laughed and laughed, loud enough for the whole house to hear.

Which turned out to be quite seductive.

Something Like Romance

Are you tired of stories about interviews and plane flights and having faith?  Sigh.  Me too.  Believe me, it is even more tiresome to be living them.  (This morning David said, "How do you feel about Waco, Texas?"  Um, yeah, not exactly top on my list.)  This morning then, how about a story of romance?  Don't worry.  There is little or no necking involved.

On Saturday night, Caleb went to Teen Elect.  He dressed in his new suit and his dad's hand-me-down tie, put gel in his hair and let me comb the back down.  I could smell cologne and toothpaste.

Teen Elect is where you learn about manners and dancing and how to make conversation with someone of the opposite sex.  Olivia has been looking forward to it for two years now.

When I dropped Caleb off, he said, "Aren't you going to come in with me?"  I wasn't.  But I parked and led him inside.  He got his nametag, he found out where to go, he gave me a side-shuffling hug, and disappeared into the unknown.

I picked him up three hours later.

"Did you have fun?  How was it?"

"It was interesting."

"How was the dance?"


"How were the classes?"

"Interesting.  Kind of boring."

"What did they talk about?"

"Wearing deodorant and always having a mint."

"Did you have fun?"

"I'm not sure.  It was interesting.  And awkward.  Very awkward."

Olivia and Savannah were waiting on the couch for us when we got home.  Waiting with bated breath.  They have been waiting for weeks, truth be told.  They were ready for a story of romance, a story of love and lust, of fancy ballrooms and meaningful looks.

"Soooooo, how was it?" 


"Tell us everything!  Did you dance?" 

"Of course.  They made us."

"Who did you dance with?"

"Lots of people.  We had to."

"Were the girls cute?"

"I don't know."

"What were they wearing?" 

"I don't know."

"What color were their eyes?"

"Oh, come on, Olivia."

And then Olivia sighed hugely, "Oh, it sounds sooo romantic."

I looked at her.  Romantic?  The way Caleb tells it, it was just this side of painful.

And then she said, "I can't wait for teen elect.  My favorite part is the hip part."

I asked, "What's the hip part?"

"You know, the part when the boy puts his hand on your hip." 

Heaven help us.

The next day we pried a few more details from him.  I asked him if he talked to the girls while he was dancing.

"Of course," he said. "They taught us that."

"What did you talk about?"

"I asked them their favorite color."

"O...kay.  Anything else?"

"One girl asked me what school I go to and I said 'Stapley'."

"But you don't go to Stapley."

"I know, but it seemed easier.  But then she said, 'I go to Stapley.  Why haven't I ever seen you?' and I was like 'Umm, yeah, I lied about that.'"

Olivia gasped, "And then did she slap you?  Oh that sounds soooo romantic."

Adrift in September

Well, unbelievably we have made it to the first weekend in September.

And it just happens to be a minor holiday weekend.  Thank heavens.  It also happens that it's going to be 112 degrees farenheit for most of it.  Thank hell, I suppose.

I wrote a post on Monday that I ended up removing just because it never really said what I needed it to...if you thought that was bad, here is some more evidence that I am indeed floundering:

 1.  Today I took Ethan to the pediatrician.  (He was suffering from sick-of-school, disguised as a sore throat.)  Ethan's pediatrician used to be my pediatrician and so he always asks about me (how are you?  how are you really?  have you seen the doctor recently?  they have new medicine for that now, etc).

This morning he asked, "How are you?"


He tried again.  "How are you?"

I sighed.  "Tired."

He looked over at Ethan.  "Isn't he supposed to be in school?  Aren't they all in school now?"


"Then why are you so tired?  What do you have to do all day?"

That seems to be the million dollar question, doesn't it?

2.  The other day I was shuttling kids around town in my car when I overheard a conversation between Savannah and her friend.  (Technically we were in David's car, but we've traded cars--as you'll see--until the weather cools down.)

Savannah's friend asked why we were driving a different car.

Savannah said, "Our other car gets too hot so my mom and dad traded."

"But doesn't your dad get hot when he drives it?"

"Yeah, but he's nice."


The worst part:  it's totally true.

3.  On the first day of September I worked on my budget.  I thought I had pretty much let it lapse all through the summer and wanted to get back on track.  I turned to a new sheet and starting filling in the boxes for the month and then turned back to find out what the ending balance on the last sheet was. 

It said "DECEMBER 2009"

Well.  No wonder.   

4.  This morning I tried to have a serious discussion with David about my floundering, to get to the bottom of it as it were. 

I said, "I'm struggling.  I know you don't want to hear that, but I'm struggling."

"With what?"

I paused, trying to put it succinctly.

He interrupted, "With how awesome you are?"

"Yes,"  I said, irritated, "with how awesome I am.  It is such a struggle to be this awesome."

But he just sucked on my neck and laughed.

Why I Keep British Columbia in a Jar

There are weeks where I side with Adam.

There are weeks full of briers and noxious weeds, where I spend the entire week wistfully looking over the fence at Eden and questioning Eve's judgement.

(What was she thinking?)

Two days ago David came home from work and when we hugged he quietly whispered into my neck, "When is it going to be a good day?"

It has been a long and trying week, full of to-do lists and have-to-go-tos.  A week full of the usual stresses decorated with serious complications.  A week of verbs, as I call it, with very few happy adjectives to smooth out the rough spots.

This morning as I was running out the door to drive Caleb's bacteria route (like a paper route with less pay and more risk), David met me in the hall. 

"I miss you."

"I miss you too."

"Let's go away."

"No.  Let's run away."

"Mom, we need to go."

"Don't worry.  It's the weekend."

"I'm leaving town this weekend."

"Oh.  I forgot."


"Tonight, then.  I'll see you tonight."


A quick peck.

It has been five days of quick pecks.  Our lips jabbing at each other as we go in and out of the doors, a little violence in lieu of affection.

Today I almost made a paper chain to count down the days until summer.  (Can we make it that far?)

But I have a sore throat and a headache and I haven't been kissed properly in over a week, and the thought of all that cutting and pasting nearly did me in.  I'm in no condition to count that high. 

I think I will make summer come to me instead.

Tonight we will eat grilled chicken sandwiches and pasta salad and wear sunscreen and swimsuits under our clothes.  We will stay up late and not look at the calendar once and not set the alarm for tomorrow and pretend



that we have nothing to do but be together

that we have no where to go but the beach

that our only concern is the sand transfer from the wet suits to the hot tub

that pecking is for birds and beginning typing students and has nothing to do with kissing

that summer lasts forever


that Adam could talk Eve into anything.

The New Addition and the Angel of Death

Yesterday I had a problem in the middle of the day.

So I called David.

Surprisingly, he answered.  I almost dropped the phone.  He is usually in the hospital black hole and cannot be reached until after six or seven when he reemerges into our lives.  I was only going to leave a heartfelt, desperate message.

I said, breathing heavy, "I just saw a mouse."

"Are you sure?"

"Um, yep."  And then, just so we were clear.  "And it's your job to kill it."  There are a few jobs in our marriage that I just can't stomach.  Those ones are clearly his.  And this is one of them.  I'm a traditional girl and I believe in having defined roles in marriage.

He assured me he'd take care of it.

Last night after I returned home from teaching a body image class the girls asked, "Why didn't you tell us you saw a mouse?"  Apparently the subject had come up over dinner.

"I didn't want to scare you."

"Why would we be scared?  It was probably just Shiloh."


"Shiloh.  Our pet mouse."

"Wait, what?"

"We found a mouse in the backyard and we've been feeding her and we named her Shiloh.  It's probably just her."  Given the chance, these girls will mother anything.

I stared at them, aghast.  My mind reeled and stumbled around forming a quick lecture on the black plague.  I was just about to start in on it when Olivia said, "Now that you know about her, can we keep her like a real pet?"


I told David we have a problem.  The mouse in our house has a name.

And that is how David acquired a new job around here.  One that not only includes killing the scorpions and mice, but one which includes killing our children's "pets," along with their hopes and dreams and romantic notions.

Clearly another job I don't have the stomach for.

I just hope that David does. 

For Comfort in the Strife

Do you want to know a secret?

Sometimes I don't know what my own brain is thinking.

(I know what you're thinking, but just hush.  Let me at least pretend that was a secret.)

Most days when I go to write a post it's not because I have something to say, but because I need to know what I'm thinking.  (And here you thought it was all for you.)  I can't understand my own brain unless I write it out.  I have all these thoughts and stories tumbling around in there and I know it's trying to tell me something important but dang if I know what it is, and so I tell myself, "I need to write."  And (usually) by the end of the post, I go, "Oh.  That's brilliant."  And I can clearly see what it was I was trying to tell myself.

(I try to put heavy emphasis on the "brilliant" part, as it makes me feel marvelous.)

This morning I am walking around my house with my hair in a messy bun feeling a little lost.  Walking from room to room but not seeing the breakfast dishes on the countertop or the unmade beds or the piles of hair ties and smeared toothpaste in the bathroom sinks, because I know I need to write and sort the mess in my head first.  I tell you this to give you fair warning.  The rest of this could be a bit sketchy.  Then again, there is a very good chance it will be brilliant.  (I don't know about you, but I suddenly feel marvelous.)

Last night David was looking at me across the pillow.  I had my arms folded across my chest in lieu of words.  I was making a point, see?  He ignored my arms and sent me a message with his eyes and then I smiled, despite myself.

He said, "Do you know what I'm thinking?  I was sending you a message."

I said of course and rolled my eyes because I always know what he is thinking and he should stop being surprised at that.

"What was I thinking?"

"That you wanted to kiss me."

He laughed because I was right of course.

I said, "First tell me about your day."

"And then we can kiss?"


And then he told me about his day.  One of the worst in his career.  And we talked for a couple of hours.  As he talked I repented.  Because he hadn't come home to dinner and a smile.  And after a day like that, he deserved to.

As he was winding down, he said, "And then I came home and,"

I interrupted, "And there was no dinner on the table."

And he said, "I didn't need dinner.  Just comfort."

That is what marriage is after all.  Comfort in the wilderness.

Yesterday morning I was in the kitchen making Ethan's lunch.  I drew a picture on his paper lunch sack.  (Our little tradition, a stick-figure message for him in the middle of the day.)  He looked at me and said, "I'm glad you're here, Mom."

I grinned at him and said thanks.

He said, "Dad could keep us alive, but I'm glad you're here."

I wasn't sure if I should feel happy or sad at that.

Last night after David had exhausted his story and rehearsed his sorrows I was quiet for a while.  He turned out the lights and it was dark in our room.  I said, "If our life was a musical I would sing you a song right here."

"Like what?"

I sang the first verse of "Tomorrow" from Annie.  Yes, I really did.  And he didn't stop me, so I kept going.

"When I'm stuck with a day

that's gray

and lonely

I just stick out my chin,

and grin,

and say..."

I stopped then, fearing I had gone too far.  He kissed me and said, "You didn't do the chorus."

We sang it together then.  I'm not even kidding. 

In the middle of the night, the house quiet and still except for our soulful tribute to "tomorrow," which would surely be better than today.  We belted out the last line and even slowed down the last notes for a big, emotional finish.  And then everything was quiet again, and the air was heavy and full like something important had just happened.

David thanked me for the serenade and we smiled at each other even though it was dark.

Both of us, I think, comforted.

And now, another not-so-secret secret.  I've been struggling the last couple of months for purpose and place.  And how to navigate my new world of long, quiet hours.  Struggling to feel useful and joyful and necessary, to find meaningful work.

Perhaps I am here only for the comfort now.  Perhaps it is as Ethan says, that they could all keep themselves alive but it's good I'm around anyway.  For comfort.  For stick-figures on brown paper bags.  For serenades by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin in the middle of the night.  For my ear and my heart, rather than my hands.  For comfort in the strife.

And you know, it's not a bad job.

I Gave Birth to the Opposite of "Stolid"

Last night Olivia had her first drama class.

She was unusually trepidacious when I dropped her off, brimming with worries.  She confided some of them aloud.  I kissed her and wished her well.  "Trust me," I said.

She was busting when I picked her up.  Grinning and laughing, she gave me a high-velocity, wildly ebullient run-down on the class, her new friends, their plans for the season, and a play-by-play of her first attempts at improv.  The joy was pouring off her.

The girl was in raptures.

At the end of class she said they had to make an alliteration with their name and then act it out.

"For instance," she chattered, "Kaitlyn did 'I'm Kangaroo Kaitlyn' and then she acted like a kangaroo."

I looked at her, waiting for it.

She smiled.  "Mine was a little different."

"What did you do?"

She beamed and raised her hand dramatically in the air, "I'm Obviously-in-love-with-acting Olivia," and then she swooned for the audience.

That's my girl. 

What Did the Violin Say to the Cello?

David is loading the dishwasher.

The sink has been full since yesterday, and he finally gave up on me.

In my defense though, I did go to a two-hour meeting at the hospital today, and that's usually his job.

Tonight we sat in the dark of the gorgeous Ikeda theatre and watched our son play the Wabash Cannonball with the city youth orchestra.  I leaned over to David and said, "Look at our boy."  He smiled indulgently back at me.  Because he forgets that it was just yesterday that I was feeding Caleb his first bowl of rice cereal, admiring and flattering him for his ability to swallow.  It's harder than it looks.

Olivia spent the concert trying to think up string-instrument jokes and then leaning over to try them out on me.  I didn't try to quiet her.  She has her sixth (!) and final day of standardized testing tomorrow.  Good heavens.  She can do the testing instructions by heart by now, complete with exaggerated eye rolling and a demonstration of the proper way to sharpen a number 2 pencil.  She's had just about enough.  And after all that, even orchestra concerts are hilarious. 

On the way home, Ethan used the word "thrice" in a sentence.  David asked him if he knew what that meant.  He slowly and carefully explained the definition to David, to make sure he understood.  David said, "I don't think I've ever used the word 'thrice'." 

I smiled to myself.  And then Olivia did her material one more time. 

It was a good night.