Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Moving On

Well.  Welp!

After three and a half years of bloggering here, I think I'm going to need to change my whateversies.  My blogging platform, if you will.  The reason, dearest friends, is that nobody can comment on this stupid Blogger blog, so I guess I'll just switch to Wordpress and see if that works any better.

So, alls you have to do is click here, and it will magically take you to  Which is where this blog lives now.

Okay, see you on the other side!  Don't be afraid, okay?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


When I started this blog--Lo! These many moons ago--Odessa was not yet a year old. In fact, she still drank milk that came from my boobs like 7-8 times a day.  I can hardly remember what that was like.

But I started writing here because I felt like saying something other than, "Shhhhhhhhhh shhhh shhhhhhhhhhhhhh shhhhhhh shhh..." and, "You want another bite? Anoooooother bite. Just one more bite for me? Is it yucky? It's not yucky! It's good! Just one more bite..."

You get the idea.  And back then she looked like this:

You don't have to tell ME she was the cutest baby in the whole wide world. But then she got bigger and bigger and then--just today, actually--she turned FOUR.  

My little baby is four, and she's the cutest four year old in the whole wide world.  Pardon me while I type bravely through the tears. 

I'm too sleepy to write much because, well--if that picture up there was taken first thing this morning, this one was taken at 8:30 PM at the frozen yogurt place:

Long day.

Anyway, somebody I just sort of know recently asked me whether she should have kids or not, and I didn't have any words to answer the question with.  No words.  Because this little muffin is both the reason I get up in the morning and the reason I can't face getting up in the morning. 

I always do get up, regardless. 

Motherhood is the strangest paradox on Earth.  Thank you, Odessa, for being my paradox partner.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Last night I dreamed -- blessed illusion --
that I had a beehive here
in my heart
and that the golden bees were making
white combs and sweet honey
from my old failures.

- Antonio Machado

February has always been challenging for me.  I know why: it's because February's not impressed with me, and has something to teach me that I don't particularly want to learn.  February's like Mary Poppins, but not the sweet, pretty, bell-voiced Poppins in the Disney movie, but rather it's the bitchy, dowdy, exasperating Mary Poppins from the books. 

But February does have one thing going for it: Jonathan Richman.

I don't go out to listen to music anymore because I'm old-ish and tired and bands playing in Athens usually start around 1:30 in the morning or something.  And just because somebody plays music out loud doesn't mean I need to be there for them to do it, regardless of whether I'd appreciate the music they're playing.

But Jonathan Richman comes almost every February, and I do need to be there for that.  Because it is, as Bryan calls it, "sacred music":

And this:

And this:

So, Bryan and I went last Friday to see him at the 40 Watt, and there were crowd-wide sing-alongs and clapping and ridiculous dancing and people grinning at each other like weirdos, and Jonathan Richman told a 20 minute story about being 16 and asking Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison about what being on drugs was like, and they gave him a bunch of homework to go out and hunt down people who knew a lot about each kind of drug he was interested in, so he just interviewed those people instead of doing the drugs.  It was boundlessly adorable. 

But here's what I want to say about February--or whatever your February is: it can be tough and disruptive and uncomfortable, but sometimes you find your very own Jonathan Richman in the midst of it.  And you got to surrender to Jonathan.  I promise, it helps.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


This is how mornings go:

4:30 - 5:00 AM: Bryan's alarm goes off to let everybody know it's veeeery early in the morning.  He gets up and works.

5:00 - 7:30 AM: Odessa and I snuggle and snooze.

7:30 AM: Dessa gets up and thumps into the kitchen. Bryan makes her cereal, and they talk.

7:30 - 8:15 AM: I either continue to sleep all by myself, or just lie there thinking at the ceiling until somebody comes in and insists I get up.

But this morning, I listened to Bryan and Odessa telling a story.   Here's how it went:

O: Daddy, tell a story. 
B: What do you want the story to be about?
O: A princess named Odessa who lives at the store. She has three friends named Lucy, Loretta, Tucker and Ben whose mommies died. They live with a lady named Jesslyn who is all of their mommies. Odessa's daddy died looooong ago.
B: laughing
O: incoherent scolding

Odessa's very interested in dying lately.  Her favorite episode of Sesame Street is the one from 1982 where Big Bird has to come to grips with Mr. Hooper's death. Every time she sees my 95 year old grandmother, she tells her she's sorry her mommy died.  She's constantly trying to get me to promise to adopt her friends in the event that some fatal misfortune befalls their parents.

Death has even made its way into a game we play in the bath called "Yucky Soup, Yummy Soup."  The rules are pretty simple: one of us says to the other, "Would you like some soup?" And the person being offered the soup very politely asks, "Is it yucky soup or yummy soup?" And then the cook has to divulge whether it is, in fact, yucky or yummy, and enumerate the entire list of ingredients.  Yummy soup is kind of boring--it's mostly just candy and orange juice and berries, and when you taste it (FYI: it's bath water served in a tiny wok), you have to smile and nod and say "mmmmmmm mmmmmm mmmm, yummy!"

Yucky soup is more fun because you get to make a scene of spitting it out.  But my favorite part is when Dessa lists all the ingredients: "a towel, grownup toothpaste, beer, teeth, necklaces, Mommy's lotion, dirt and worms, green, black, pictures, hair, poop-and-pee, sticks, kitty food, kitties, bunnies--no...not bunnies...." And tonight she added a new one:

"...and DIED."

"YUCK!" I said, and spat bathwater all over the shower tiles.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


This is my favorite sculpture in the whole world:

And if you want the experience complete with Italian birds chirping:

I mean just look at that goddamn thing. He's called the "Appennine Colossus," and was made by this Italian guy named Giambologna in 1579. After all these years, he still squats there like a petrified god all day long, in the sun and rain and snow, just north of Florence.  Dude is 36 feet tall.

He kind of reminds me of this 150 pound Saint Bernard I almost adopted when we lived in Montana.  He made such a scene when they tried to bring him indoors that they just left him outside in the exercise yard of the Humane Society all the time.  He was so handsome and sweet that I considered bringing him home until he sat in my lap while I was petting him, and I realized I couldn't get up.  He was beautiful and majestic and he seriously had me pinned under him like a tiny moth. Bryan had to pull him off me.  Our romance just wasn't tenable, and neither, probably, is my love for the Colossus.  But I love him anyway...

Barnacles and all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Third Option

I woke up this morning and it was raining. At first I thought it was the sound was my humidifier gurgling, but nope. It was rain--the sort that sloshes out of the sky like a bathtub overflowing. Wall-to-wall rain, all day long.

I had outdoor plans that were necessarily cancelled, I took Odessa to school, I called a friend to wish her happy birthday, I went to yoga class only to find I had read the time wrong. Thus thwarted, I drove to the studio, and in the car I decided that today could go one of two ways:

Option 1: I could cry.
Option 2: I could to buck the fuck up.

But sometimes you don't get the choice. Sometimes the rain is your event planner. I haven't cried today, nor have I bucked up even one tenth of a fuck. That's just winter for you, if you 're me.

So, in the parking lot of Dessa's school, I talked to my cousin's husband for a minute.

"I hate this weather," I said.

"You and everybody else in your family." he said. "It's weird, because didn't your people come here from Ireland?"

"Some of them did, but you'll notice they left.  Anyway, in Ireland they were probably drunk all the time."

"Some of you are still drunk all the time."

That's true, but unfortunately I'm not one of the drunk Shieldses. So, it seems like my best option for today is to listen to mournful music and write about how gravity works in space.

Join me?

There's a lot of stupid Australian banter in the beginning of this, so skip to 1:20.

I'm sorry if that ruined your day.  No really: I'm so sorry.  I should keep the third option to myself.

Update: Chester just messaged me: "well that was depressing as hell. thanks for the mood boost babe."

I'M A MONSTER. I'm sorry.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Great Loves

A couple months ago, my friend Hank told me that he heard once that in Life, only three things matter:
  • Doing great Work
  • Having great Friendships
  • Being in great Love
So there you go--there's the answer.  And if you've figured it out by now, nice work.  

But here's the kicker: the same somebody-or-other also said that one mortal human can only truly excel at two of those things.  You can't perfect all three in your lifetime, no matter how old you get.  Bummer.

So, of course this got me thinking about Me.  Obviously, I'm never going to do Great Work--I just don't have it in me.  And I do have a lot of Great Friendships that I value very much, so that's definitely one of the two.  But mostly I'm a person of Great Loves: baroque, ridiculous, Las Vegas-style Loves.  It's actually one of the major blessings and nuisances of my life.

And here's how it happens: I feel or see or hear or taste something--a voice, an expression, a particularly well-exectuted kale salad, a pair of boots, a circling hawk, a melody, a room, a color, a certain rustling of leaves on a tree, the texture of a wall, the sound of a particular snare drum, the look on a child's face...and I absorb that thing, that person, that animal, that tree, that music.  I take it right into my heart. It's unbelievably inconvenient.

Because it's not an allegiance like Friendship--a compassionate, relaxed attentiveness and shared good will.  It's a feeling of possession and belonging that can be uncomfortable in that it feels really good at times--because what feels better than Love? But it can also feel really bad. 

Like that one time I got dumped? It took me six years to get totally over it.  SIX.  I was young, but still--six years is stupid.

But it's not just in relationships with people--everything in this world is temporary, right?  I mean, what if that restaurant stops making that salad? That circling hawk is going to fly away in a minute. If I don't buy these too-expensive boots right now, somebody else will.  If I listen to this song too much, the magic is going to drain right out of it.  That Thing and I belong to each other, and belonging is painful stuff.

Good news: as I've gotten older, I've devised strategies for dealing with Great Love.  I can't enumerate them here--but call me, we'll talk.  But it doesn't mean I don't fall in love with stuff--it just means I can deal with it better once I do.

Like yesterday I fell in love with Elvis Perkins.

But I'm remaining calm.  I suggest you do the same.