Tag Archives: satisfaction

Land’s End Landscape…

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I have been coming to Land’s End Trail of mornings. I sit on a bench in the chill and mist and watch the grey ocean spread beneath me like the dull side of a piece of aluminum foil crumpled and pressed smooth. It rolls out to the wide Pacific on my left, and on my right under the bridge and between the fingertips of reclining landmasses. My nose threatens to run and my shoe grinds a bit of sandy dirt as I settle.

The fog is thick and heavy just above the water, a single stanchion of the Golden Gate Bridge visible as if I am under Lady San Francisco’s skirts catching a glimpse of a sacred ankle. The shoulders of Marin are a curve more sensual today, the tops and less modest tips hugged by the lacy undergarment of fog.

Two lights, one standing on the last rock before the ocean, the other midway between that and the bridge blink on and off slowly, conserving energy for their eternal task. A fog horn sounds from somewhere, its own little joke, since visibility is perfect on the water. Small dots of light scratch white lines into the grey past the point. If the law would have these craft leave their lights on until an hour or two past sunrise it would be hard to know by the filtered light exactly when that was. A single fishing boat is in front of me, a red light at the top of its mast, deciding to rest inside the arms of the bay, comfortable to sit here with me.

To my right I can see where the ocean is making the shore, the never-ending group project of seven seas. Black rocks and blurs of darker textures spill across the sand here and there as it curves to meet the red bridge. The bridge swallows it all into its width or expectorates it, possibly the initial seed of fruit from which the earth springs forth. The road to the top is a perfect Bob Ross zig of paint scraped between the darker green of Presidio trees and descending speckle of beach shrubs. The road looks from this angle to curve straight down to the bridge, but I know it disappears over the hill, taking a turn and under a damp stone underpass before drawing its line of red light to join the others who for some reason are leaving the city at this hour.

Behind me to my left the grit trail runs straight disappearing abruptly into the cypress forests, standing on long stems, all looking like they have been treacherously betrayed by their hair product and a sudden gust of wind. Small dark birds bounce or zip, its hard to tell, across the path. And I can hear the incessant hiccough of a sprinkler on the golf course. I cannot tell if the smell of humidity is coming from there or from above. Occasional strings of birds indistinguishable from each other at this height fly low across the water until they complete a picture of a zipper with their reflection, unzipping and zipping as they ever alter altitude. The much larger pelicans fly closer so that I can make out colors and single indignant feathers.

I dab at my nose and shift my weight on the wooden bench to the other buttock. I wonder how long I’ve been sitting here. It’s grown warmer maybe; but I’ve gotten colder as my blood has cooled down from walking.

The lights are going out on the cars driving over the hill. My fishing boat has turned off its red light and is pulling out into open water. Lady San francisco has hiked up her skirts past her knees, and the view is a bowl in front of me, so much, with rivulets spilling out to the west and east and into my lap.

Perseid Meteor Shower…

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One of my friends arranged a little late night stargazing last night. They picked me up at 9:45 and we drove our way the last twenty blocks between my house and Sutro Heights Park. We stood for a while there leaning on a chain link fence, the only thing plus three feet separating us from the edge of the cliff. The long strip of the Great Highway demarcated by yellowed traffic lights went out from under our feet. The long black strip of Ocean Beach butt up against it flaming here and there with bonfires of a truer yellow. Here and there the waves cut gashes of glowing white against the black beach. And the city laid out to our left looking so much like the lame attempt of humanity to duplicate the stars, it’s beautiful constellations less interesting in the too ordered lines of streets. There were four of us, bundled against the mist, passing flasks back and forth, talking about our summers, our babies, and the impending start of school. We couldn’t see the stars. The marine layer was thick over our heads.

Someone suggested we drive across the bridge in hopes for a better look. The fog above our heads glowed with the city’s light and leant an unnatural dusk to our steps. Here and there we heard animals scurry. There being coyotes in these parts I carried two sticks, because, you know, that would help. And we saw what looked like a goose coming up, its long curved neck looking back at us.

My friend ran at it and quacked. Then we saw it move.

“Oh, no it’s not a duck!”
“It’s a skunk, get back, get back!”
“It’s tail’s up!”
“It’s going away!!”
“They can spray up to forty feet!” (I stated this unhelpful fact and I’m not even sure it’s true.)

Well, we made it back to the car still smelling like ourselves and wound our way to the Golden Gate Bridge. We felt young and old at the same time, running around with our friends at eleven o’clock at night, yet, tucked in the minivan next to car seats of various sizes with toys and tiny rain boots at our feet. As we climbed the bluffs on the other side of the bridge we realized that we weren’t going to get a better view from up here. We parked and walked out into a cloud. It wrapped around us giving the headlights coming around the bend the glow of wildfire.

We walked up the trail into the dark. The great bridge was below our feet, not far but completely lost in the fog. Its lamps alone delineated the bridge. And the cars driving through looked like sliding LED lights on a display board. The fog was so close it was claustrophobic, pressing it’s immense presence against us with a feather’s touch. The city light it captured and reflected back enhanced the effect of its solidity.

And it was good to be with these women, in our bundled jackets, sharing a dark chocolate bar, and trying not to acknowledge our yawns. We four being just mothers doing our best, working so hard to understand these hearts is our care, and trying to determine with laughter and earnestness where to offer ourselves grace and where to try harder. And the fog engulfing us made us feel small but it was tolerable because we were together.

On the Horse…

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I am happy to follow-up and tell you that the elementary school rehearsal yesterday went very well.

I am back, as they say, on the horse. After careful review of what is going to be rehearsed on Monday I have asked for another go at blocking and choreographing the scenes. The director kindly assented.

All of this may not seem like much, but it is indicative of much growth.

Let me tell you a story.

When I was in second grade I inadvertently won the privilege of standing in front of the entire school and reciting a poem. I hadn’t known it was a contest.

So, after the kindergartener and the first grader went, I got up on stage in front of all the K-8 graders in my school and recited my poem. I then sat down to watch the rest.

I will never forget what happened then. A fifth grader got up to recite her poem. She trembled and stuttered and burst into tears and ran off the stage. The girl may or may not have vomited. It certainly looked like she was going to.

I was mortified for her. How embarrassing! I didn’t even know that sort of reaction was possible. It was horrifying.

A couple more lucky speakers recited and then, a few moments later, everyone applauded as the teacher announced that the girl from fifth grade was going to try again.

The teacher said, “How brave of her!”

I clapped for the girl, but I didn’t buy it. The girl had run off the stage. “Brave” was something they said to trick her back up there. And I remember thinking, with my advanced second grade wisdom, that if that sort of thing ever happened to me there is no way you’d get me back up on that stage.

My heart found nothing brave or admirable in that moment.

Now, I am significantly older and, as with most things, when you practice not being perfect every day you just get better at it.

My inability to fail prevented me from doing a lot of things. It’s taken a long period of indoctrination to reverse it. In fact, I now find a special pride in my ability to fail miserably, experience rejection, and try again, even if it’s an elementary school production, even if it’s a novel.

So, here we go, keeping on, practice, practice.

Patient Promises…

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The theme for advent around here this year is practicing patience, enjoying the waiting, the longing. I unpacked our Christmas boxes after two years of storage in my Mom’s attic. It’s kind of silly the deep satisfaction I felt when, really, it’s only nativity sets and ornaments, but I did, all the longing of wanting to make a place for our own little family, fulfilled.

The first Christmas we spent at my Mom’s I was very nauseous, about two months pregnant. We had sold our house and moved a month before. There had still been herbs in my garden, the last jalapenos on our bushes. I had left the house where I had birthed two other babies and wasn’t sure yet where I’d be delivering this third, the last one.

On Christmas Eve in our room my husband handed me a small bag. I opened the bag and unwrapped the paper. It was a beautiful etched glass ornament, all smoky metal with gold accents. I looked at my husband in dismay. What on Earth was I going to do with a Christmas ornament when all my boxes were put away and I had no tree? He caught my look and my hands.

“This ornament is a promise. We will have our own place again and our own tree.”

So I wrapped the bulb back up and kept it in its bag in the closet for the next year and a half. And I just got it out today. I opened up the paper and for the first time since two Christmas’s ago admired the etched lines and metal sheen.

Sometimes we wait for a short time. Sometimes we wait a lifetime. And sometimes there is no longer waiting than the forty-five minutes before lunchtime to a four year-old belly.

Wherever you’re at, whatever promise you may have waiting wrapped up on your shelf, I hope that your longing may find satisfaction this season.

We Have a New Mantra, Ladies…

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You know the scientific symbol for female, the one that’s the circle with a cross coming down from the bottom.  And then, there’s the male symbol, the slightly more wonky circle with an arrow flying out of the top.  The female one is steady, anchored down, because our reproducing tidbits stay put.  It’s the male bits that leave and fly all over the place, hence, the wonky arrow.

This is how they define male and female in organisms with different more unrecognizable features.  The male flower spreads, the female flower stays, anchored and waiting, in fish, in mosses, in humans.

In some ways I feel like this is accurate.  I stay … at home.  Daily life mostly revolves outside me, kids leave for school, husband leaves for work and I am anchored somewhere in the middle.  People return to me.

But in most other ways I feel that this is highly inaccurate.

Because if there is one thing we women do, it’s change.

We get our periods.  And we keep getting them. Then we have babies.  Our bodies change and our bodies go back, or don’t quite, as the case may be.  Then we lose our periods and, according to many trusted sources, continue to deal with ebb and flow of hormones … FOREVER.

We change. And most of this volatility is within us.

Pregnancy for me is pervaded by a sense of betrayal.  My body becomes a mysterious stranger waiting to sabotage me with a heavy club of nausea around any appropriately smelling corner.  Three times now have I been amazed anew at the way my body stretches, the way it opens, and stunned at how stinking long it takes to get back to normal!

I say it when I’m pregnant.  I say it at least once a month, “What is happening to me?!”

I’m a woman.  I change.

Perhaps this is why men are known for their distinct mid-life crises and women are not.  We do it by bits.  We aren’t overthrown by time all at once.   We get it in phases.

Phases!  Everything since my first son was born has been a “phase”.  Sleepless nights, clinging babies, teeth razoring their way to the surface have all been “phases”.  I have been beset by so many phases that I don’t think I’ve had a lick of normal in six years.  Do we talk of phases to make each other believe that there is a normal somewhere?  Thinking that there’s a normal somewhere that I’m missing is rather depressing. Do we want to believe that things will go back?

I can never go back to many things, my old bra size, my ability to sleep through anything, my ignorance of four other peoples’ bowel movements.   I am more efficient, more ambitious, and I’ve learned how to work.  I don’t want to go back.

I, then, hereby vow that I will not utter the deceptive phrase “It’s a phase” to any Momma, anymore.  I will instead choose to believe that we are in a boot camp of the most intense kind.

I will learn to duck and weave and roll.  I will become a delicate ballerina.  I will let it make me a master of change.  Like anything else in life that’s well practiced it will become a habit with me.  So, when the gray hairs come and I find my shirt still clean at the end of the day; when it’s finally time to get off this crazy monthly roller coaster of fertility, I will not be overcome.  I will be anchored in something steadier than myself.

It’s what we’ve been given to practice, Ladies.  Let’s do it well so our sisters, daughters, and daughters-in-law can do it better.

Our new mantra can be, “Normal is not a thing!”