Friday, December 6, 2013

for Friday

 (photo by Scott Snyder)

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

friends and poems = true soul food


You came in a dream, yesterday 
--The first day we met 
you showed me your dark workroom 
off the kitchen, your books, your notebooks. 
Reading our last, knowing-last letters 
--the years of our friendship 
reading our poems to each other, 
I would start breathing again. 
Yesterday, in the afternoon, 
more than a year since you died, 
some words came into the air. 
I looked away a second, 
and they were gone, 
six lines, just passing through.
for Adrienne Rich

Thursday, October 3, 2013


3 a.m....or is it 4?
nobody knows,
'cept the wee creature
who is wailing,
protesting Daddy's too-long absence

i step outside
and there above me
shines every star in the universe
sparkling like gems
across the heavens

did God turn down the lights
on this sleepy town?
there are stars
i've never seen before
i close my eyes, they are still there

this night is made
for vibrations of love, word made flesh,
what needs to be said
utterances of greater
truths, silence brightened up

it's 4 a.m.
he settles at last
but i am awake now, in
parts long slumbered
insides spilling forth like stars


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

garden tender

can you love a woman
just from watching her garden?
how does she know
  what to plant, when to
  rotate, which will come up next?

all summer, and now late September,
always something popping up to delight.
i see her diligent
  with her Rototiller
  tending, loving, tender-loving.

Subaru, hatch open,
tools ready at the hand.
it is Fall.
  all the gardens are drooping, dying
  sunflowers surrendered, kale overgrown

chard long past, too high,
no longer gentle for eating.
weeds, straw grass have overtaken sweet harvests
  but Mary's garden, full of jewels--
  deeps reds, gold bursts and blush globes.

sometimes i think she plants
just for my amusement.
she knows i loiter, linger.
  does she think of my attention?
  i think this might be love.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

So beautiful...and I have always loved Rita Dove

Borderline Mambo
by Rita Dove
As if the lid stayed put on the marmalade.
As if you could get the last sip of champagne 
out of the bottom of the fluted glass.
As if we weren't all dying, as if we all weren't 
going to die some time, as if we knew for certain 
when, or how. As if the baseball scores made sense 
to the toddler. As if the dance steps mattered, or there's a point 
where they don't. For instance wheelchair. Heart flutter. 
Oxygen bottle mounted on the septuagenarian's back 
at the state ballroom competitions--that's Manny, 
still pumping the mambo with his delicious slip 
of an instructor, hip hip hooray. Mambo, for instance,
if done right, gives you a chance to rest: one beat in four. 
One chance in four, one chance in ten, a hundred, as if
we could understand what that means. Hooray. Keep
pumping. As if you could keep the lid on a secret
once the symptoms start to make sense. A second
instance, a respite. A third. Always that hope.
If we could just scrape that last little bit 
out, if only it wouldn't bottom out 
before they can decode the message 
sent to the cells. Of course it matters when, even though 
(because?) we live in mystery. For instance
Beauty. Love. Honor. As if we didn't like
secrets. Point where it hurts. Of course we'll tell.

About This Poem
"I'm a fanatic ballroom dancer, and Latin rhythms are usually invigorating. But I find mambo simultaneously joyous and poignant for two reasons: first, the pause in the rhythm (stop!-2-3-4) suggests that something's always missing--a hole in the fabric of celebration, perhaps. And, secondly, the memory of Manny dancing with his beautiful young instructor, oxygen tank on his back, suggests a way to plug that hole, even though we know that some patterns--disease, age--are relentless and will grind on long after the dance is done.
--Rita Dove

Friday, August 16, 2013

Your 50th

"For Your Birthday"
by, John O'Donohue

Blessed be the mind that dreamed the day
The blueprint of your life
Would begin to glow on earth,
Illuminating all the faces and voices
That would arrive to invite
Your soul to growth.

Praised be your father and mother,
Who loved you before you were,
And trusted to call you here
With no idea who you would be.

Blessed be those who have loved you
Into becoming who you were meant to be,
Blessed be those who have crossed your life
With dark gifts of hurt and loss
That have helped to school your mind
In the art of disappointment.

When desolations surrounded you,
Blessed be those who looked for you
And found you, their kind hands
Urgent to open a blue window
In the gray wall formed around you.

Blessed be the gifts you never notice,
Your health, eyes to behold the world,
Thoughts to countenance the unknown,
Memory to harvest vanished days,
Your heart to feel the world's waves,
Your breath to breathe the nourishment
Of distance made intimate by earth.

On the echoing-day of your birth,
May you open the gift of solitude
In order to receive your soul;
Enter the generosity of silence
To hear your hidden heart;
Know the serenity of stillness
To be enfolded anew
By the miracle of your being.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summertime meals, by England's greatest chef, Sweet Marie

Crispy Chicken, Sugar Snaps, and Spinach Salad.

Looks delicious, Marie (as always)! Now, if you will just come by and cook it for me...


Beauty, for a rainy Thursday

Wow. Check out this website for absolutely gorgeous prints and cards, and original artwork.

I especially love many pieces in the KOI and FLORAL galleries. Mmmm, beauty! Does the heart good.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

poem for a blessed Wednesday

He Stood  
by Aaron Shurin
He stamped his feet and opened the door, stood on the threshold, turned around. The desert light shrank his eyes, sun slammed his face--he almost lost his breath--blond shiny grasses, ring of distant mountains pinking in the haze, the scorched but somehow fertile earth--he wiped his brow--he couldn't go in, he couldn't move, he couldn't say why--as if he too were a thing dried in sunlight, stopped in his tracks in the heat that fixed him in its gaze--rattlesnake Medusa--where he breathed the stinging dusty winds as though a rock inhaling rock--his proper evolution?--and fed on silence as it flowered and fell--the fierce clarity, the fierce restraint--front door behind him hanging open like a thrown shadow as he blazed in place... a man inside the view... the zooming arc... and edge to edge the blue absolute...

Friday, June 28, 2013

for you, Mom

Getting Close
by Victoria Redel

Because my mother loved pocketbooks
I come alive at the opening click or close of a metal clasp.

And sometimes, unexpectedly, a faux crocodile handle makes me weep.

Breathy clearing of throat, a smooth arm, heels on pavement, she lingers, sound tattoos.

I go to the thrift store to feel for bobby pins caught in the pocket seam
of a camel hair coat.

I hinge a satin handbag in the crease of my arm. I buy a little change purse with its
curled and fitted snap.

My mother bought this for me. This was my mother’s.

I buy and then I buy and then, another day, I buy something else.

In Paris she had a dog, Bijou, and when they fled Paris in 1942 they left the dog behind.
When my mother died on February 9, 1983, she left me.

Now, thirty years later and I am exactly her age.

I tell my husband I will probably die by the end of today and all day he says, Are you
getting close, Sweetheart? And late in the afternoon, he asks if he should buy enough filet
of sole for two.

From a blue velvet clutch I take out a mirror and behold my lips in the small rectangle.

Put on something nice. Let him splurge and take you out for dinner, my mother whispers
on the glass.

About this poem:

"This was a poem written as I tried to write another poem. My mother often shows up this way, pushing up in the cracks and lapses of other poems. I am always surprised by the way my mother lives in me and how much—30 years after her death—I am still talking to her, inventing her, feeling her shape me." —Victoria Redel



by Robert Glück

Dear Lord
Show me
The way--
My heart
And throw
It away

Lord, take
My heart
And throw
It out

Lord, throw
My heart
Way out

About this poem:

"Typically we put our hands together when we pray. I wanted to make a prayer in which the hands are thrown wide apart in a wish for loss of self. Although the poem is parsed out in short lines, it is rhymed and metered like a stanza from a blues song." —Robert Glück

Sunday, June 16, 2013

New love

I am having a Mama day, or I should say, an Allison day. Had to keep the kids at daycare for the long day rate, as I had a meeting at work. So I figured I would take a few extra hours afterward for myself. Bliss!

I was just now sitting in the parking lot of the bookstore, unabashedly watching a young couple, obviously in love, holding each other for a long time. Then kissing. Then laughing and talking. Then looking like they were saying goodbye for an extended period of time (an "I just can't bring my body to leave you" goodbye). Then they held each other again, big, deep "just can't live without you" hugs. Then they both locked their cars and walked away together. A reunion? An almost goodbye? Hard to say, but so beautiful to watch.

Those moments are why I love people watching. Why I love sitting in one spot at the airport and viewing all the departure and arrival hugs, the family reunions, the parent coming home from a long trip, scooping up the little darlings in their arms and feeling that happiness wash over them all. Beauty. Did you see the opening and closing scenes of "Love Actually"? Those are the moments I am talking about, and they can bring you to tears if you don't watch out.

There is something visceral about two bodies coming can see in a flash the hours and days of longing gone by, the long nights alone and the feeling of finally being "home," which really has nothing to do with a house at all.

I want one of those moments. I want that feeling of fresh new love. And I would be happy to have it with my husband of twelve years. He wrote me a text today, "Love you Allison." Just took my breath away. Good moment.

Now in the bookstore, I am sitting next to what seems to be a first date or a first meeting after an online relationship. A lot of get-to-know-ya questions after statements such as, "I'm not sure if I told you or not..." Two older people having a slightly awkward but friendly and reasonably flowing conversation. A lot of basic details being shared, and some more personal stories (they are handling this well). Now a silence. Uncomfortable? Not sure. "What do you tend to do in your spare time," she asks. ...Oh, remember dating? Not that I ever want to do THAT again. But it is kind of sweet to listen in.

I have always loved those moments of getting to know someone, the initial evaluations running through your mind, the thrill of a spark if there is one...the Great Possibilities. That is a wonderful feeling.

In a way, we are always getting to know each other. I could easily ask my husband, "Who are you now?" And I cannot assume the answer. So much of life gets in the way of seeing each other, knowing each other as we change and grow. Which theoretically makes for endless opportunities to discover something new, to connect, to feel that spark.

Last night on TV we watched reruns. The first one was The Office, showing Pam and Jim's conflicted and tied up marriage after babies and years of each making unilateral decisions, and them both feeling lost from each other. It was painful to watch, and familiar. But at the end of the episode, Pam has a flashback from their wedding day in her mind, and releases (finally) into Jim's awkward hug, forgiving, giving him love again. It was really quite beautiful. This was followed by a rerun of Parks and Rec, the episode of Leslie and Ben's spontaneous and hilarious wedding day, ending with their friends singing, "Little Sebastian." I write this for those of you who saw these shows, as there really is no way to explain the nuances of a long-running sitcom and how such silly shows can catch you up in your throat and make you suddenly believe in love, right there in your living room at ten o'clock at night, after twelve years together.

I wrote Scott a very long and heartfelt thank you this afternoon, for being an incredible father, for being a man I could put my faith in, a man I could trust and love. He is amazing with our kids. I am grateful for the moments we have shared with them, and I remain aware that those are fleeting and precious. I try to stay conscious, aware, and pay attention. I try to let love flow through the, out, through.

So darling, I'll meet you in the bookstore parking lot some time, and we can hold each other like new lovers. Maybe we can step back and let our bodies feel for a moment that strong pull, that not wanting to let go. And then we might hold hands and walk away, together.

Why not?


Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Take earth for your own large room..."

Earth Your Dancing Place

by May Swenson

Beneath heaven's vault
remember always walking
through halls of cloud
down aisles of sunlight
or through high hedges
of the green rain
walk in the world
highheeled with swirl of cape
hand at the swordhilt
of your pride
Keep a tall throat
Remain aghast at life

Enter each day
as upon a stage
lighted and waiting
for your step
Crave upward as flame
have keenness in the nostril
Give your eyes
to agony or rapture

Train your hands
as birds to be
brooding or nimble
Move your body
as the horses
sweeping on slender hooves
over crag and prairie
with fleeing manes
and aloofness of their limbs

Take earth for your own large room
and the floor of the earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind
for your dancing place

From Collected Poems by May Swenson. Copyright © 2013 by The Literary Estate of May Swenson. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of The Library of America.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Parenting is hard

By the time I reach work at 8:15 a.m., I am exhausted. Every day. I have already fought a major war and survived (if by the skin of my teeth). There may have been tears in the car. There may have been children crying, while being forced to get dressed [when they preferred "naked, naked"] or in their car seat [when they preferred to be snuggled by mama all morning at a leisurely pace]. There may have been a long and irritating stop at Dunkin' Donuts for a severely overpriced breakfast because though Daddy and LG had time for French toast and bacon, Mama had time for nothing [not that anyone is jealous or anything...]. There may have been a fight with a spider IN THE CAR WHILE DRIVING ON THE HIGHWAY AND NEARLY KILLING ONESELF...aghghghghghghgh!!! There may have been lots of "fuck this and fuck that" yelled out loud while stopped at a red light with lots of traffic. There may have been a run-in with another driver who thought it was a good idea to honk at me because she could not wait for five measely seconds while I looked at my receipt in the Dunkin' drive through. There may have been wistful thoughts of an alternate life in an alternate universe. There may have been all kinds of regrets, including not saying something nicer to husband before driving away, just in case one of us dies on the road today - **God Forbid**. There may have been a sick amount of cigarettes consumed. There may have been. These are all theoreticals, of course!!!!!!


The quote that is on my computer at my desk at work is this. [I am assuming by her words that Pema Chodron never had two children at the age of 40, but I am too tired to google it, so what the hell do I know? She probably did...]


Patience is a way to de-escalate aggression and its accompanying pain. This is to say that when we're feeling aggressive - and I think this would go for any strong emotion - there's a seductive quality that pulls us in the direction of wanting to get some resolution. We feel restless, agitated, ill at ease. It hurts so much to feel the aggression that we want it to be resolved. Right then we could change the way we look at this discomfort and practice patience." ~ Pema Chodron


Thank you, Pema. You are right, of course. I will work on it.

Breathe. Breathe.

The song I made up for Lucy, based on Grandma Char's lifelong advice, would be good for today:

"Just breathe, just breathe,
When you're getting upset, just breathe.
When the world seems hard,
And you're tired in your heart,
The best thing you can do is

Fucking spider.

Okay, breathe...


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

W.S. Merwin, for a Wednesday morning

Variation on a Theme

by W. S. Merwin

Thank you my life long afternoon
late in this spring that has no age
my window above the river
for the woman you led me to
when it was time at last the words
coming to me out of mid-air
that carried me through the clear day
and come even now to find me
for old friends and echoes of them
those mistakes only I could make
homesickness that guides the plovers
from somewhere they had loved before
they knew they loved it to somewhere
they had loved before they saw it
thank you good body hand and eye
and the places and moments known
only to me revisiting
once more complete just as they are
and the morning stars I have seen
and the dogs who are guiding me


love this. ~Ally

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Writing at the bookstore

One of my favorite and most relaxing things in this world is writing at a coffee shop or bookstore with cafe. The best is Atomic Coffee in Fargo, ND, but at this point in the parenting journey, I am not picky. Currently I am at Books-a-Million in Concord. There are groups here in the cafe, of knitters, discussers, and many singletons doing all manner of whatever on their laptops. Glorious! With my overpriced mocha and chocolate chunk cookie to spur me on, I join them, blissfully, and child-free, many thanks to my husband.

Writing is my emotional release, and an excellent way for me to find out how I am doing. The extrovert in me benefits tremendously from the talk-to-think concept, in which through words, I can locate my truths. Talking it out, even in this current state of not many friends to get together with, helps me sort through my ideas, formalize my goals, and sift through my tangled emotions. At other times in life, I used piano playing, yoga, meditation, or a very long walk up a country road. At this point, I carve out an hour here and there, with babysitting or dad at home manning the fort, and race to the bookstore to have these peaceful moments to myself.

I thought a long time about parenting...fifteen years to be exact. I pondered the need for selflessness, and over time, began to welcome the ending of The Allison Chapters. There is only so long one person can focus entirely on themselves, using each moment of the day to "self actualize" or "find oneself." She is found, already! Enough!! I know myself, as much as anyone really can, and I have seen with open eyes my unfinished projects, my fear-driven actions (or inactions), and my personal growth. I have looked deeply at what I want out of this life, as who knows for sure if we have more than one. I want to create meaningful days and years. I want work that is more vocation than career. I want to contribute, to make a difference in the lives of others.

And during those years, I thought I would travel, get out of debt, do some crazy things - like join the Peace Corps, live on a fishing boat, and ride the train across the Canadian Rockies. Well the reality is, I did almost none of those things. I spent several years doing irritating and frustrating jobs, then spent several years finishing my college degree and pursuing more education, new careers...and subsequently ended up just about where I started, doing administrative work [read: being someone else's glorified secretary], a role I finally came to terms with.

There are things I am good at, like loving, cooking, reading and writing, and thinking up creative games for the kids in my life. There are things I suck at, like making money, pursuing my greatest dreams, cleaning my side of the bedroom, and using my infamous sewing machine. I have pages and pages of notes for other ideas (some even written), sewing projects, dog training, and organic farming. What?! For some reason, yes, I always fancied myself an organic small time farmer. Do I buy organic? Not always! Do I garden? Not more than a few pots of herbs every summer that end up overrun. Am I even good with plants? I would call mine a "grey thumb"...I rarely kill my plants, just mangle them and render them unrecognizable. They all grow crooked, weird, and end up as "bad hair day" plants. (Reflecting my inner self??) But oh, do I love them...yes, probably too much! I recently went back to work after a four month maternity leave. The plants in my office are blooming flowers and look better than they ever have...they appreciated a little Allison-free time, I suppose.

I have twenty-seven minutes left on the Me Time clock. My minutes these days are precious, I tell you. Every one is spoken for, with two babies at home, a husband, and a part-time job. Even the cat vies for my time. He does not get a lot of loving these days, as Mama usually feels "used up" at any given moment.

People keep telling me that as the children get older, I will have time again to focus on my interests and goals. I hope this is true. There are still things I want to accomplish that don't have to do with my children. Even some goals that are about them need to be done when they are not around, like planning educational activities to enthrall their creative senses.

What I was getting at, is that ahead of time, I knew I would need to put my self on hold, and I was emotionally prepared to do this, or so I thought. In reality, when that particular rubber hit the road, it proved to be much harder than expected. Mama still wants moments to be a woman, an individual, a wife, and a person outside her milk-providing, ass-wiping duties. Mama still wants to be Allison.

And so I will write. It is the least I can do right now. To prove, if only to myself, that that girl is still in there. Thoughts continue to swirl. Ideas continue to erupt. And Allison is alive and well. Waiting for a few moments to herself. And she's okay, for the most part, with waiting.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

poems for Wednesday

sugar is smoking
by Jason Schneiderman

it's amazing how death

is always around the corner,

or not even so far away

as that, hiding in the little pleasures

that some of us would go

so far as to say

are the only things

keeping us alive

About This Poem

"When I wrote this, I was thinking about how a coping mechanism can outlast the trauma you have to cope with, and how any accomplishment also contains a seed of self-destruction. I recommend pairing this poem with a chilled glass of Sutter Home Moscato, followed by the Pet Shop Boys song 'Was it Worth It?' The poem is dedicated to Mark Bittman."
--Jason Schneiderman

Life is Fine
by Langston Hughes

I went down to the river,

I set down on the bank.

I tried to think but couldn't,

So I jumped in and sank.

I came up once and hollered!

I came up twice and cried!

If that water hadn't a-been so cold

I might've sunk and died.

But it was Cold in that water! It was cold!

I took the elevator

Sixteen floors above the ground.

I thought about my baby

And thought I would jump down.

I stood there and I hollered!

I stood there and I cried!

If it hadn't a-been so high

I might've jumped and died.

But it was High up there! It was high!

So since I'm still here livin',

I guess I will live on.

I could've died for love—

But for livin' I was born

Though you may hear me holler,

And you may see me cry—

I'll be dogged, sweet baby,

If you gonna see me die.

Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!

borrowed from

Friday, May 17, 2013

What they don't tell you in the baby brochure

Parenting is hard, on relationships, on marriages. The pictures of cute couples happily smiling with their babies on those minivan commercials and kleenex ads are not always accurate. Yes, of course, you both have fun being parents together, and as a friend assured me, it is MUCH more fun than being a single parent. [There was a time I considered doing this, on purpose. What on earth was I thinking?] You share the special moments, revel in baby reaching those growth milestones, and share confused looks over what to do with the screaming creature at all hours of the night. You laugh together, so you don't cry your eyes out.

But what they don't tell you is that you will have very little time, and virtually NO energy, to connect with each other. Sex will possibly become a distant memory. You will look in the mirror at your mama body and wonder, "Oh dear god, what happened here?!?" and, "Will anyone find this floppy bag-o-flesh appealing again?" [At this point, dear reader, if you have no idea what I am talking about, kindly keep that shit to yourself! The only way we are coping is by believing wholeheartedly that this experience is normal!!]

Your vacations will take on a Chevy Chase-like quality. You may find yourself at a gorgeous beach resort...stuck inside because your crazy toddler decided suddenly she hates the feel of sand on her toes. You may find yourself out to eat, trying so hard to enjoy the pleasure of someone else cooking and cleaning up for you...but you're unable to relax due to the screaming of a wee babe, who has no sense that this really is inappropriate in a public setting! You may become the person who you swore you would never...the parent who lets the kids run around the restaurant. Yes, it is true. Why would someone do this?? TO AVOID A SCREAMING FIT, DUH! [The neighbor's dinner will be much less disrupted by a little running around, believe you me!] And here's the rub: You may find yourself secretly and abhorrently admitting, "Boy, it WOULD be nice to have enough room, you know, three rows of seats...a minivan." Shuddering thoughts! Not for the weak of heart.

I always wondered how those sad, older couples ended up looking blankly out the window while they silently ate dinner at a b-rate restaurant, while we, lovingly and communicatively, delighted immensely nearby. Well, those folks are probably really fucking tired! They spent so many days and nights focused on and caring for the kids that they literally cannot remember anymore what used to interest them, attract them, or make themselves tick. They just want a moment's peace! It has been so long since they had a decent, honest conversation, that they literally can't think of ANYTHING to say. And frankly, they just don't have enough energy to care. Um, yeah, I imagine...

I made the mistake of asking for advice on the FB for how to stay connected with your spouse after children. I did not receive much hopeful advice. Some folks whose children are quite old now had nothing to offer. Ack. Others railed on about the infamous "date nights." Who are these people who have so many babysitters lined up that they can actually accomplish a date night? Are their mothers young enough to handle two raving lunatic children and can wrangle them into bed on time without needing a drink and smoke after? More importantly, how do these parents have extra money to afford such a ridiculous thing? Do you have any idea how much babysitters cost these days?? If we had enough money to afford an evening worth of babysitting, we wouldn't have enough to go out! And what are we gonna do, have sex in the car? We are way too old and out of shape for that. Ugh.

There was a phenomenon in my parents' house after us kids grew up. My dad would "act out" whenever we came to visit. He was not as nice to mom, and would say outrageous things and pick unnecessary fights. Mom said, "Oh honey, he's not like this when you're not around," as if that was a reasonable explanation. Was he really so jealous of mom's undivided attention on us? I know he loved us! In fact, I was just remembering the time when he hugged me on the back porch in Texas, right before he moved away, ahead of us, to make a life for us in Pennsylvania. He cried and said, "Be good to your mom." It hurt his heart to leave us, even temporarily. But when we all lived together during those teen years, he was often remote and unapproachable. A confusing mix of emotions to comprehend.

I hate to say it, but I can imagine this happening to me and my spouse. If we survive these early parenting years [and we have our doubts], and find a way to communicate again, I bet we will be so clingy for each other's attention once we finally regain it that we will not want to tolerate the children's neediness again. Obviously, this isn't the whole picture. But I am just saying, a lot about my parents' behavior gets clearer the older and more experienced I get.

My husband and I desperately love our children. We want to give them everything...not material things, but our attention, time and focus, and everything we have to teach them. We want them to feel safe and loved unconditionally at home. We want them to have a calm and gentle place to call home. A cleanish place, not a dump. A calmish place, not a life of chaos and rushing around. Well all this takes an extreme amount of energy on our parts. We both work outside the home. And then we work all night at being a family, at keeping our tempers in check, at becoming more patient/loving/open, less judgy/bitchy/sarcastic. We want to give them our very best.

Many articles will tell you the best way to lead your children is to uphold a firm foundation - the attentive, trusting marriage. This is hard. It must take every ounce of strength and consciousness you have. Because honestly, we are doing our very best and we are struggling, daily. There's not enough left over at the end of the day, at the end of the task list, once the wee tots are quietly off to bed, to fawn attention on each other. I usually crash on the couch in front of the mind numbing TV [and I thank God for it, so don't give me any "Blow up your TV" speeches]; husband sinks into the Internet, inch by inch until he is no longer recognizable. He works on his art. I work on my lists for tomorrow. Then there's laundry, endless fucking piles of laundry. Dishes. Playdoh schnivlets stuck to the floor. Sour milk-soaked bibs in every corner of the house. Legos in the weirdest places, toys clogging the tub drain, diapers piled to Kingdom Come, and half drunk glasses everywhere you look. We don't even have time to finish a damn drink anymore! By the time that chaos is reigned in, and I do mean minimally, we flop and beg Jesus [or whoever] to recover us enough for the hours to come.

My mama "job" literally does not end. After watching maybe one full TV show, it's time to wake up the baby for his night feeding [so we can sleep longer later]. And then it all begins again: gas, teething pain, burps that get stuck, too hot, too cold, wet diaper, snuggle me, cuddle me, move me, put me down, pick me up, feed me, burps getting stuck, et al.

I pray for the strength to make it through these early years. I do not want to rush them by. I know for a fact I will miss them, as I already mourn the rapid passing of time. Already too much has gone by and I want to capture it all in porcelain to keep on a shelf so I can gaze upon it lovingly in my old lady years. Already I feel the oppressive guilt of unconscious living. I really don't want to take a single moment for granted. And I worked in healthcare too long to not be aware of the real possibility of sickness, death, and tragedy. I want to revel in these beautiful children, to relish their every moment, giggle and sigh. I love you darlings! I do! [Guilt, guilt...]

We are learning the true meaning of commitment: the plodding of one foot in front of the other, one day and one day, and then a week and then a first birthday party, and soon the baby clothes are shipped off to consignment. My husband, my love, I vaguely remember you. We were not perfect, or seamlessly connected up until the moment of parenthood's arrival. We were not perfect then, and never will be [damn the humanity]. But can we survive this, gracefully?

We named both our children after grace, as we were so thankful for them. I still thank them, in the dark at night while putting them to bed, for coming here, for choosing us in particular to be their parents. It is a precious gift to grow these babies. I will be glad for every day with them.

But I miss you, love. And I pray we can come out of this ultimate Refiner's Fire [we foolishly thought marriage was the fire, a ha ha ha] and still know each other. Or get to know each other again. I hope all these tiny moments will stack up with some kind of gracy-glue to become a lifetime, a family, and the meaning of real love.

These are just a few of the things the brochure did not warn us about or offer strategies. So we pray. And choose to laugh. And well, one foot, one foot...


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

GL #4

Well, we made it through the Dark Night of the Soul, Baby Edition, in other words, the two month shots. Misery! But baby is in tact, we are still married, and Lucinda got lots of attention. Special thanks to Gramma Char, to our doctor (who os just right for us and who enjoys our children), and to the birds, who have returned for Spring.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

GL #3

1. The babies are asleep.
2. Mama got lunch.
3. Accomplished taking Lucinda to and from daycare, with Jack.
4. Am watching a movie. For the moment at least.
5. The house has not burned down.
6. Survived a walk with both babies yesterday, and some play time with the babies, and waiting a long time for Daddy to come home...had to work late.
7. I don't have to pay for parking (am watching a movie about NYC).
8. Remembered to drink water.
9. Didn't yell at Lucinda when she refused to get in her carseat. Just waited.
10. SHOWERED. When Mama gets a shower after a day without a shower, it feels like a double bonus clean.

~ Ally

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tis Late

Tis Late 
Of course the tall stringy woman
draped in a crocheted string-shawl 
selling single red carnations
coned in newsprint the ones
she got at the cemetery
and resells with a god bless you
for a dollar that same woman 
who thirty years ago
was a graduate student
in playwriting who can and will
recite "At the round earth's
imagined corners, blow--"
announces silently amidst her louder
announcements that the experiment
some amateurs mixed of
white fizzing democracy
with smoky purple capitalism
has failed. We already knew that.
Her madness is my madness
and this is my flower in a cone
of waste paper I stole from
someone's more authentic grief
but I will not bless you
as I have no spirit of commerce
and no returning customers
and do not as so many must
actually beg for my bread. It is another
accident of the lab explosion
that while most died and others lost legs
some of us are only vaguely queasy
at least for now 
and of course mad conveniently mad
necessarily mad because 
"tis late to ask for pardon" and
we were so carefully schooled 
in false hope schooled
like the parrot who crooks her tongue
like a dirty finger
repeating what her flat bright eyes deny.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

GL #2

1. Snow
2. The Moby is in it and this seems to be the only way to get anything done today. Though back pain will surely result.
3. Food.
4. Emeli Sande - just discovered her music and i really like her.
5. The steady stream of movies, chocolate, and money that keeps showing up. Thank you to everyone who is sending this stuff. You know who you are.
6. A husband who seems to be on the long haul with me. These short roads, the day to day, are sometimes brutal. But we keep putting one foot in front of the other, and somehow we keep managing.
7. Pampers...that is re: Marie's previous comment.
8. Formula, since my little wumpkin is eating like it's going out of style, and i can't keep up with him! Am using formula to supplement. He could not care less.
9. The baby whisperer, Dr. Harvey Karp, bc though i have been cursing him while my baby is screaming his wee head off, i am still using his techniques...and sometimes they work! (They worked like a charm on Lucinda.)
10. A union contract that allows me to stay home with this baby and not worry about being unemployed later. Thank you, NHESO.

~ Ally

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Plan of Attack re: PPD

Am experiencing a good, hearty dose of post-partum depression. We are almost at week five since Jack's birth. I have had lots of help at home with the kids, cooking, cleaning, etc. Lots of company, which I set up ahead of time. But still, I feel major moments of despair and hopelessness. I often feel mildly apathetic, frustrated, cranky, and very impatient, like I just can't deal...followed promptly by severe guilt. Lots of weeping. I don't know if it is because of the hormones, the difficulty of adjusting from one kid to two, the lack of structure in my new life, or lack of sleep, or general weakness on my part. But then again, the reason doesn't matter so much, does it? So this is going to be my first plan of attack. Having a plan is already helping me feel a little better. In no particular order...

1) Reach out and ask for help. (done)
2) Get some better drugs.
3) Talk to doctor (my check up appt is this week).
4) Walk with Jack in stroller. [Is it okay to bundle him up and take him out even though it is very cold and sometimes snowing? I do have a carseat cover thing that zips up.]
5) Make a daily Gratefulness List (GL).
6) Go out in the mornings while Lucy is at daycare and do some visiting.
7) Spend more time with Jenn, who is always a big supporter.
8) Try to avoid crutching on my vice. (argh)
9) Drink some. (I do not have any problem with drinking, so maybe one here and there will help me chill out.)
10) Shop with Jack (I have some gift cards to burn)...a little retail therapy. This could also include getting my hair cut, which always makes me feel better.
11) Sleep more. (oy)
12) Call Gerry, the post-partum counselor from the Family Place (and a previous friend). (and it's free)

Gratefulness List for today:
1) I have a healthy, beautiful baby boy and a healthy, sweet toddler who is coping with these changes quite well, all things considered.
2) The blessing snow that has been falling yesterday and today to comfort me (thank you God, got the message).
3) Scott, ever helpful.
4) The wonderful women who have been staying with us to help us through: Mom, Rebecca, and soon to arrive, Fran.
5) Random money that seems to keep showing up when we need it (again, thank you).

Wish me luck.

Sweet Baby Jack

Announcing little Jack Lawrence Snyder, born January 22 to proud parents Scott and Ally, and excited big sister (age 18 months), Lucinda Grace. We love you, baby.