Tuesday, November 19, 2013

This Stuff(y) is Legend


These guys. 

They've been around a while.

That's Benn on the left. It's not Ben. It's Benn. Get it right.

In clockwise fashion, there's Steve and Dexter.

Then Baby, in the middle. Or maybe Little Bear. I can't tell them apart. The boys can, though.

These guys have backstories. They have histories. It's one of the great regrets of my life that I haven't had Derek and Joshua write them down for me. 

Benn is actually King Benn. King of the Stuffies. Steve and Dexter are brothers. Or cousins. I can't remember. Their dad is upstairs somewhere. Or maybe it's their uncle. 

Why don't I have it written down?

They come from their own countries, these stuffies. They have waged wars and fought battles. They've rescued each other from certain doom. The imagination that has gone into the care and feeding of these guys is extensive. And these are only four of the dozens of equally back-storied stuffed creatures upstairs.

Every. Single. One. has a name and a story and they all fit in the grand design of two boys who have developed a magical land with its own language and customs and myths (at least one of the stuffies was birthed from the belch of another. I can't remember which.)

Why don't I have it written down?

What a grand tale it is. What a grand undertaking it will be for me to delve deep into the heart of it.  I do believe I've just discovered a project that needs doing - now - before they get so old they forget.

I will have it written down.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Throwback Thursday - Brother Edition

Brian and Diahn 1972

This is me with my brother, Brian, shortly after we'd moved to Guam in 1972. I was 3. He was 6. We were adorable. Derek and Joshua were looking at the picture, and remarking at how big my smile was, and how Brian's looks a little off.

I told them that Papa had probably done something silly, and I was laughing about it, and Brian was talking through it. 

Brian was always talking.

I miss that.

I never thought I would. Some days, his talking drove me absolutely bonkers. He woke up talking and he went to bed talking and then there was all the talking in between. 

Joshua has picked up where Brian left off, though. I'm sure Brian is up in heaven, laughing at the fact that after so many years of quiet, my baby boy is picking up the mantle and running with it. But the joke is on him.

Because I love it. Yes, there are days when I think all the words are going to cause my head to explode. So. Many. Words. But when I hear the constant prattle and unceasing monologue that Joshua provides to my days, it reminds me of Brian and reminds me that there are never enough words. My 21 years of listening to him were just not enough. Each word becomes precious - like a flake of gold or a perfect gem. They can't be replaced and they can't be replicated.

Love you, BJ. Miss you every day.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Saturday, November 09, 2013

This One, Too


He's like his Mama in so many ways, but I think he's smarter. He knows things that I can't explain. Gets to the punchline five seconds before me. Too often, our minds run together, laughing at inappropriate times and thinking impertinent thoughts.

But he's smarter. He's smarter because he knows it's okay to be angry. He knows it's okay to express himself - out loud and forcefully, and I never knew that. He knows that love isn't contingent on like. He knows that sometimes I don't like how he's acting, but I always love the heart that is beating inside his chest. He knows that being the younger doesn't mean taking any crap from the older. He knows that crying is a perfectly acceptable response to crushing disappointment and frustration.

And I never knew that. Not when I was 12. Not when I was 21. 

Sometimes, not even now.

But he's teaching me. He's teaching me that emotions are big and loud and sometimes ugly, but they are ours and we own them. He's teaching me that injustice shouldn't go unnoticed - that sometimes we have to stand up and say to the world how wrong it is. He's teaching me that it is okay to feel sad, as long as you can still feel hope at the same time, and that sometimes you just need a good cry to make the world all right again.

And he's teaching me to laugh. To laugh like a child again, without worry that someone will think less of me. To laugh at the silliest things, like 12 year old boys do. To laugh at things that really aren't even funny except that somehow they are.

I love that. I love that. I love that.

Friday, November 08, 2013

When I Grow Up


Job Wanted:

Applicant holds advanced degrees in geology, super-advanced degrees in chauffeuring mothering and an infinite passion for learning new things of all topics.

Job must include:

Creative thinking and experimentation.
Telling other people what to do.
Drawing and painting.
Sparkly things.
Benedict Cumberbatch.
Frequent travel to semi-exotic locations paid for by company.
Writing captivating blog posts such as this one.
Telling other people what to do.

Salary requirement is negotiable. Will consider commission-based work, as long as I can tell other people what to do.

Resume available upon request.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Throwback Thursday - Instagram Edition

White House

This is the first picture I ever took with Instagram, in October of 2010. Three years of snapping away at the world. More than 1100 posts later, it's still my favorite form of social media.

What's yours?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A Day in the Life


I get up early, but not early enough. Never early enough. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want and need to do. I know I'm not alone in that. We've created a world of moments that fill up too much space and we never seem satisfied until our moments overflow and run out all over the floor in a mess of chaos.

I fix my coffee and walk to the bottom of the stairs to call the boys down for breakfast. They groan and stretch and stomp, stiff-legged and resentful, down. each. stair. to the chairs where their morning blankets are draped and chilled from the overnight slumber.

"Good morning," I tell them. "Did you sleep well?"

"Mmph. Flrgl." They reply.

We hug and snuggle for an all-too-brief moment before setting the breakfast table and eating together. The groggy fog lifts and we start to smile at one another, talking about our agenda for the day. It's carefully choreographed, this life. Each thirty-minute increment marked and labeled. There's little room for wiggling. 

Time to eat.
Time to dress.
Time to study.
Time to learn.
Time to get a snack.
Time to hit the courts.
Time to breathe.
Time to sleep...

and then it starts all over again.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Favorite Books

I love to read. I LOVE to read. I love to READ! I've said it before. At least once. Maybe twice.

So, Linda challenged me to list my favorite books, and I though, "EASY!"

Then I started to make my list, and I decided it was easier said than done. There are too many. There are too many categories. Should I list the fantasy novels? The young adult ones? The regular adult books? The classics? The new editions? I could write an entire blog post on just the books that contain wizards and/or magicians.

Sigh. It's too hard.

Here's the problem. I'll read anything. I don't have a favorite genre. If it has words and a semblance of a plot, I'll read it. I may not like it. I may love it. Typically, my favorite book is the one I'm reading, unless it's like that one with the asteroid ending. That one was definitely not my favorite book.

I love books in series. Should I list the individual books, or just the series? But some of the books in the series are better than others. For instance, I love the Harry Potter books, but I thought the last three were far superior to the second, third and fourth.

Okay. So here's what I'll do. I'll list 10 books and/or book series that don't include Harry Potter or anything JRR Tolkien wrote. Because we all know I love those. I read those annually. I quote them often. Don't judge me.

My favorite books (as of today) include...

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos
The Magician (series) by Lev Grossman
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Pretty much anything by Jane Austen
The Mysterious Benedict Society (series) by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins

You can check them all out at my Goodreads site - seemed easier than linking each individual one.

So tell me - what are your favorite books? I'd love to they could be mine, too!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Saturday, November 02, 2013

This One


The first. He's like his dad, but not just in how he looks. He has a heart a mile wide and is kinder than I am by a factor of 1000. He's quirky and unique and precious. Precious. That's how people describe him. So many times, I've picked him up from some activity and found him hanging out in the office talking to the adults. Asking questions, sharing stories. 

In a group of mixed ages, he'll be the one with the youngest kids - helping them navigate the waters of the big kid arena. He's sweet and gentle. Encouraging.

I don't know how many times he's opened the door for me as we enter a store and I've gone through, then turned to see him follow. But he doesn't follow. Because there's a large group of people coming and he stayed to hold the door open for all of them, as well. Considerate.

"You look pretty today, Mom." 
"Thank you for breakfast. It was delicious." 
"You're the best Mom in the whole world."

He really thinks that, too. It's not just buttering me up for something. Maybe he's a bit naive.

But I like him that way. He doesn't get worked up about the rest of the world. His drumbeat is internal and steady and completely different from mine. Precious. Encouraging. Considerate. Kind.

My own sweet boy.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Pinning is the Gateway Drug to Apathy

A couple of weeks ago, Linda and I met for our “monthly” creative meeting, which happens kind of on a monthly basis, but more on a “Oh, crap! It’s been three months!” basis. Except for that one time when we were going to meet on the first Thursday of October and she texted me on the last Thursday of September and neither of us realized it was the wrong Thursday and we met anyway and then laughed about our complete lunacy until the strange man at Panera came over and told us a CIA joke.

Anyhow - we were lamenting our lack of creative energy lately - the lack of writing and photographing and drawing. The sad, dusty state of our sketchbooks. The shriveled, dried up husks of webspace where our blogs used to thrive, back when we watered them. I started to realize that those spaces were reflecting my own internal space, just as they always have. In 2009, I wrote 263 blog posts. In 2012, I wrote 4. What happened in the space between those two statistics?

Well, it can’t be a coincidence that in December of 2009, Pinterest launched. I signed up way back in the invitation period, and occasionally pinned a thing or two and looked at another couple. No biggie. Cute room ideas, Christmas decorations, recipes. All the cool bloggers were pinning. I could handle it, I told myself - no problem. I’ll just spend 15 minutes a day there. I can handle 15 minutes a day! I told my friends about it. I invited my mother.

“Just try it. It can’t hurt. You’ll get inspired! It’ll be great!” I told her. My mother. Dear, dear woman. I’m so sorry, Dad. I know how many projects you’ve had since then. I blame myself.

Fifteen minutes a day wasn’t enough, though. Soon, I was dropping the boys off at tennis and coming home to write or paint or draw and I would log on to Pinterest, just to get a little visual stimulation. I’d pin a nice idea about a staircase, click on a link for a recipe and find myself falling down a rabbit hole of time-sucking, brain-stealing activity. Next thing I knew, it was time to go pick the boys up. I had to pull myself together, shut down the computer and dazedly drive the whole 20 minutes there with visions of stencils and chalkboard paint floating across my mind.

Then, they launched the mobile apps, and I didn’t even have to leave it. I could suspend it just for the 20 minutes drive and once there, resume my frantic searching for...for...damn. I don’t even know what. My creative core was so hungry, but there was no satisfying it. I would turn on the computer, open my Pinterest page and it would go something like this:


Look! Crafts! I love crafts!

I’m going to make all the Thanksgiving place settings for my mom’s dinner!
  • Out of burlap!!
  • And spray-painted gourds!!!
  • And add a thankfulness tree!!!!
  • And tiny origami pilgrims as place cards!!!!!

Then, I’ll handcraft everyone a Christmas present!
  • Out of organically grown, fully sustainable bamboo!!
  • That I’ve grown on the back third of my yard!!!
  • With my own compost and fertilizer from my chickens!!!!
  • And harvested using traditional Vietnamese implements procured via a responsible dealer, certified to have strictly safe labor practices!!!!!
  • Tailored to the recipients exacting taste and preference!!!!!!
  • Wrapped using handmade recycled newspaper with soy-based ink wrapping paper!!!!!!!!

Oh, and look! A board dedicated to Sherlock!
  • And then…
  • BOOM
  • My head exploded.

So now? I’m trying to decide if I need to go cold turkey, or if I can wean myself off gradually. I need to remember to look elsewhere for inspiration - the computer is too cold and impersonal for me to draw from. I need to create, not just view others’ creations. Don’t get me wrong - I love Pinterest. I think it’s one of the most visually pleasing places on the internet.

But real life is better. The colors are more true. The places are attainable. The people are slightly flawed and imperfect in the most perfect of ways.

Go outside. Talk. Shake hands with strangers. Smile at the girl behind the counter at your favorite bank. Tell her you like her glasses. Make silly faces at a baby while his mother’s back is turned.



Wake the genius.