sidenote segue on my woo woo governor

I put a governor on my woo woo here. Seriously. I do. You know, like how some U-haul trucks have a built-in governor on the motor so we can only go a certain speed and no faster? They do that for our protection. They know we don’t know how to drive that big rented truck anyway and we’d be a liability if we could go as fast as we wanted on the most stressful day of our year–what with all of our belongings in the rear…on moving day…and we’ve gotta get that truck back by a certain time or we’ll get charged. read more

a letter to all parents on the first day back to school

To: all the parents of the earth on the day your kids start school in the fall
From: me…today on the day my kids went back to school

We dropped them off, my husband and I. We walked them into their loving classrooms. They were cool. They were fine. They were happy. They knew what to do. Our littlest one started Kindergarten without a hesitation, a misstep, a faltering or a look back. She was born ready for this day. Our oldest sauntered out to play like an old pro. Last year his teacher gave us the best compliment about our son. She said he is on his own form of Valium…that his calmness helps keep the other kids grounded. She said everything is no big deal for him. (I’m sure that is all true at school…but it is a different story at home.) read more

scenes from the yard

Today was the first backyard day in the desert. Fall is finally here. We cleaned all day–removed a zillion spider webs, trimmed everything in sight, and hosed it all down. The inside of our house is now fragrant and full of eucalyptus branches in vases. We even made this impromptu outdoor living room. Isn’t that metal gate awesome? I can’t remember the artist’s name—I think he’s from Utah. read more

A Story

Not too long ago, I had the pain of experiencing one of the worst times of my life. It was on one of those days when the sadness was blotting out the sun and the din and hum of it had left me feeling like I had ears full of cotton that I had to, absolutely had to make good on a commitment to help my client paint her damn cabinets. And I had no man. And I didn’t know if mine would ever be back. And I had two babies to feed. So, with newborn in the bjorn, I thought I’d make headway between her naps (and use a Zero VOC paint so I wouldn’t harm her). I went to the paint store the morning of the job—both kids in the back seat. On my way into the parking lot I saw a man, a hispanic man, standing outside just out of eyesight from store employees. He was looking for work. He raised his hand as I drove in—letting me know he was available. He was alone. I hadn’t thought of hiring someone for the job. Never occurred to me through my sadness. So I went into the store, bought my paint and thought about it. And by the time I came out I knew my gut would have to lead me so I got in my car, drove up to him, and stared at him. We spoke in Spanish but I wasn’t listening to his words—I was peering into his soul with only one question in my mind, “Will he hurt me?” The answer I got was, “no.” And I asked again, “Does he have a gun?” And the answer I got was no. So I moved the breast pump and diaper bag out of the front seat and made way for him to get in to the car…this stranger….to make room for him to get in the car with me and my two children. And I trusted.

We dropped off my son, pretended to the client that we had worked together before, and then we started our day. There are some things I don’t do—don’t like to do. There are some things I think are man’s work and no matter that I am a feminist I don’t want to do certain things and feel absolutely unashamed about that fact. And unscrewing a kitchen full of cabinets with my client’s cheap cordless screwdriver and then walking them to the garage is one of those things. I have done it so many times—but my hired help was there for that reason. For god’s sake—a cordless screwdriver? You know, the kind that is more akin to an electric toothbrush than to a proper drill. I need some torque at the very least not a tiny whining thing stripping each screw head and bouncing about. And who the hell was I kidding? Did I really think I could paint a kitchen with Lu in the baby bjorn on a ladder?

He did a fine job. I don’t even remember his name…other stuff on my mind, you can imagine. He was timid, slow, methodical, seemed trustworthy. I was grateful he was there. I asked him to come back the next day. He asked for bus fare. And he even showed up. It was halfway through that second day that he told me, in Spanish, that he liked my clothes. That he liked stretchy clothes because they are comfortable… workout clothes. I didn’t think much of it but two hours later he asked me if I had any clothes for him. Umm. I don’t think so, I said, but I can check in my husband’s closet. We had just donated a bunch of stuff. “No,” he said, “you.” “Do you have clothes for me?” Oh, ummm…searching brain for translations…umm I don’t have many clothes either. And then he kept talking. “I like panties… mini-skirts …you know short—and he held his hand way above his knee…and bras.” I kneeled there, painting a base cabinet in charcoal grey. And I knew from my own work in therapy that I just needed to listen…even though I was uncomfortable. “I like women’s clothes,” he said. And then it occured to me that I had found probably the only closeted homosexual, cross-dressing illegal Mexican house painter in any parking lot in Arizona. He didn’t have a gun, he had a bra! In any other situation, this wouldn’t have seemed out of the ordinary to me, but in my current state and given my narcissism about the intense drama I was living, I was stunned that there are more dramas playing out everywhere all the time. “My girlfriend is going to leave me because she thinks I like men.” And I asked if he did like men. And he said that he had been with men when he was a boy in Mexico. I told him he had come to the right country. I told him that he was lucky to be here where he could have freedom to express himself and be who he wants to be. “Pais” and “libertad” being my only ways of expressing what I was trying to say in my pigeon spanish. I kept leaving the room to check on my baby—a baby comes in very handy during an uncomfortable situation. But mainly I just listened and reminded myself that he truly needed to say these things and he had chosen me as a safe person. And I was. In fact, I had chosen him as a safe person as well.
And he came back the next day and finished a job that I alone would have spent probably two weeks doing. And I was grateful.
As for happy endings, my husband did come back. And he’s doing really well. And so are we. Right now he is putting together an Ikea desk for the studio with his beefy corded drill. Amazing what we can do if we have to. We are stronger than we know. read more

Skirty skirt

Spring has sprung. Here is my new skirt. Upon looking at the cut fabric, my friend, Y, and I were sure that it would be very Urban Outfitters (and maybe that wasn’t such a good thing…) But as it turns out, it is more Neiman’s than Urban. I based the pattern on the Sew What! Skirts book- the A-Line guidelines. See more skirts from Sew What! that others have made here. So, I learned how to make a custom pattern. And the skirt cost less to make than any skirt at Target (I think I spent $16) and it fits well. Yippee!