Magic, yoga, meditation and being the centre of the universe (a 50% deceptive title)

I.

Monday was my father’s birthday, and he was very far away and I could not hug him and love him and thank him. I have loved him with a particular vehemence this week, for all sorts of complicated reasons. Among them, this: I was, I am the center of his universe. Completely. The most important thing ever. And he taught me to expect to be… the most important thing in everyone’s universe.

OK, this has occasionally made me a challenging lover-wife-friend (uhm, employee).

But on the whole, you know what? I’ll take it over the alternatives.

II.

mjc-cinder-with-maggie

True story:

Jane: Cindeeeer! Can you give me my little purse? The pink one? I left it on the table and I don’t want to come into the kitchen in my muddy boots.

Cinder: What’s in it for me?

Jane: My eternal gratitude.

Cinder: I’m sending it by express dog.

Jane: Do. Not. Fucking. Tie. My. Purse. Around… Christ. Why? Why? Why did you tie my purse around the dog?

Cinder: Because it was funny?

Jane: Because you like to antagonize me?

Cinder: That too. Also, with all this yoga and meditation you’ve been doing lately, I believe you need more daily challenges. And that’s MY job.

[insert bad word here]

[delete it, because it’s wrong to call your eldest son an asshole]

[even when he sorta is]

[sigh]

[a loveable, amazing asshole]

[just annoying]

[god, i love him… i love him so much]

III.

Am Reading:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert—YES! And yes, you should read it too. All of you, any of you. Even if you hated Eat Pray Love—me, I couldn’t make it though that book… first chapter, I wanted to slap Liz upside the face and say, “Stop your fucking whining, privileged white woman. Jeezus, even I’ve suffered more than you.” Um… digression. Point: I did not like Eat Pray Love. I LOVED Big Magic. I ripped through it in a day and a half despite a hundred and one other projects and obligations.

My favourite part:

“Fierce trust demands that you put forth the work anyhow, because fierce trusts knows that the outcome does not matter.

The outcome CANNOT matter.”

The outcome cannot matter.

Fuck. That. Is. So. Hard.

But so necessary.

The most important lesson:

“When I finished that novel, it was not a perfect novel, but I still felt it was the best work I’d ever done, and I believed I was a far better writer than I’d been before I began it. I would not trade a minute of that encounter for anything.

But now that work was finished, and it was time for me to shift my attention to something new—something that would also, someday, be released as good enough. This is how I’ve always done it, and this is how I will keep doing it, so long as I am able.

Because that is the anthem of my people.

That is the Song of the Disciplined Half-Ass.”

My song, too. More or less.

IV.

Am also reading:

Yoga For Real Life by Maya Fiennes, Kundalini Meditation: The Path to Personal Transformation and Creativity by Kathryn McCusker, and A Woman’s Book of Meditation: Discovering the Power of a  Peaceful Mind by Hari Kaur Khalsa

Am re-reading: A Writer’s Book of Days: A Spirited Companion & lively Muse for the Writing Life by Judith Reeves, which is quite fun and useful and playfully inspiring… and also, unintentionally (and it’s clearly me and not the author) depressing (I’m not going to tell you why) (yet).


I am not writing.

This is mostly on purpose…

You: And this blog post is what?

Me: Have we not covered this before? A blog post I can shoot off in 15 minutes while simul-texting with three people is not writing. It’s therapy.

…mostly on purpose. I am trying to reflect, regroup, refocus. Try to listen to that screaming inner child.

BTW, if you think it’s easy to listen to a screaming inner child, you are clearly childless. Those of you who have survived colic, toddler tantrums, and teenage angst know exactly what I mean.

She’s so fucking loud, she’s splitting my eardrums, and I know I’m supposed to love her, but right now? I hate her and I wish she’d move out.

V.

Have tried to read:

Prince Hafiz’s Only Vice by Susanne Carr. I read page one. Then skipped to the last chapter. Spoiler: they got together. True Thing: I really, really, really WISH I had been able to read through the damn thing. How hard could it be? I asked myself. Fucking read it. Enjoy. Relax. Chill.

But I just can’t. Prince Hafiz and his one true vice do NOTHING for me.

On my kitchen table:

Gap Of Time: the Winter’s Tale Retold by Jeanette Winterson. I’m not going to read it. I have opened it and flipped through it half-heartedly. I love Jeanette… I love Shakespeare… but if you’re going to try to one-up Shakespeare, you’ve got to be fucking brilliant. And Jeanette is often brilliant. But this time, she is just… good.

Good enough.

Just not good enough for me to sink into right now. I’m sorry. Jeanette, I’m so sorry. I’m going to try to get Sean to read it, and tell me about it, ok?

Also on my kitchen table:

G.K. Chesterton’s Complete Father Brown. Which I’m re-reading in bits and pieces intermittently to distract myself from the screaming.

(Inner child.)

(In my head.)

(Because listening is hard work.)

VI.

nbtb-notebook-in-red

I’m having a staring contest with something that’s either an idea or a deep-seated neurosis and…

Ender: Mom, can you peel this orange for me?

Jane: I’m busy right now, love, in a bit.

Ender: You’re sitting there staring at the wall!

Jane: I’m thinking!

Ender: Can’t you think while peeling my orange?

It seems like a fair request, right?

It makes me livid.

I peel the orange anyway.

VII.

Sometimes, words—shy words, trite words, words so true they sound clichéd because they have been said in that precise way so often because they are so true (I know exactly I did there, so give your high school English grammar textbook some Fentanyl and don’t resuscitate it until I’m finished)—sometimes, words like to come out only when it’s very dark and very quiet.

Like these words:

My smallest son, tucked
into my right arm pit, a whisper,
“You will never know.”
“Never know what?”
“Never know how much I love you.”
“I know.”
“No. You will never know.”
A kiss. My whisper,
“I love you more.”
“No. I love you more.”
A dark night.
“Impossible.”
“True.”
A heartbeat, rapid,
rhythm of a hummingbird,
breath steady, gentler than a whisper.
A sleep.
Asleep, my smallest son,
In my right arm pit,
I whisper,
“You will never know,”
He answers
with a hummingbird’s snore.

I capture them with my iPhone, left-thumb typing (the right thumb imprisoned under the body of my son).

I think it’s a poem; I call it, “Good Night.”

xoxo

“Jane”

POSTCARDS FROM CUBA: Lazaro’s farm

For Lazaro, Nidia and Melissa, with all the loves there be.

I think this is probably the most important of the postcards that I’m going to send you. I hope you enjoy it. I’m thrilled to be sending it to you on Sean and mine’s 16th wedding anniversary, because—well, you will see—and I’m thrilled to welcome Kris and Tamara of Blue Mountain Biodynamic Farm as its sponsors. Blue Mountain is an amazing farm near Calgary, which operates as a CSA (community supported agriculture) and which has been providing “hen crafted” eggs to my little piece of urban paradise for years. Check them out–because growing food sustainably? It’s super important. Just ask my friend Lazaro…

Listen:

 

… and read:

I.

I fall in love with Lazaro in about three, maybe four minutes, even though in those first three, four minutes he calls my boys girls and then, while explaining the reason for his assumption—usually boys have short hair and girls have long hair, that’s the Cuban way—assures me, “You’re beautiful even though you have short hair.” He also tells me I act like a child, not like a lady and a mother—but that’s at the end of our first day’s acquaintance, a full 15-minute cab ride later.

It doesn’t matter. I love him, I trust him, I am happy. My self relaxes and drops all her defences.

My children notice immediately.

Cinder: “Look, Mom finally made a friend here.”

Flora: “Thank god. Maybe she’ll stop giving me lectures on Communism now.”

22-Roses

II.

In a rather bizarre book of pop psychology-self help-quasi history called How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Every Day Life, Australian-British lifestyle philosopher Roman Krznaric attempts to introduce his modern day Western reading public to the six types of love practiced by the ancient Greeks:

  • eros, the passionate love that drives you mad and makes you wanna get naked with the other
  • philia, the love between family members, venture partners, battlefield comrades, friends
  • ludus, the playful affection between children, casual lovers (dance partners? serial flirters, maybe?)
  • pragma, the mature love and deep understanding that evolves between people (married couples, others) over time, characterized by support, patience, tolerance, compromise and reciprocity
  • agape, a selfless love “extended altruistically to all human beings… offered without obligation or expectation of return—a transcendent love based on human solidarity”; and,
  • philautia—essentially, self-love… both in its good, self-affirming and in its negative, Narcissistic forms.

Got that? There might a quiz at the end…

How We Should Live is not a great book, by the way. Krznaric is an inconsistent writer, and he’s pretty conventional, really. He tries to be provocative, but he stays pretty firmly inside the box in which most of the Western middle class is trapped. Still. Every once in a while, he says something insightful.

Which, I think, is all we can hope for when we write…

An extended quote:

One of the universal questions of emotional life has always been, “What is love?” I believe that this is a misleading question, and one which has caught us in futile knots of confusion in an attempt to identify some definitive essence of “true love.” The lesson from ancient Greece is that we must instead ask ourselves, “How can I cultivate the different varieties of love in my life?” That is the ultimate question of love that we face today. But if we wish to nurture these varieties, we must first dispel the potent myth of romantic love which stands in the way.

Roman Krznaric, How Should We Live

But myths have their uses, do they not? Love at first sight. It’s a thing.

III.

What?

OK, fine.

You know I don’t believe in love at first sight any more than I believe in the Easter Bunny or Zeus’s throne on Mount Olympus, and yet, with each of my enduring loves, I fell in love in that first moment, during that first gaze. Don’t contradict, my love, it is true for you too—I loved you the first time I saw you. I know you had seen me, known me, wanted to connect with me before—but I was not able to lift up my eyes from my navel just then. The first time they rose and met yours—yes. There it was. That is how we begun.

The first time I meet Lazaro’s eyes, I already know he is a good person, because he is stepping in to rescue me from an awkward, potentially volatile situation—offering to drive me home for a fair market price in defiance of an aggressive colleague who is attempting to bully and intimidate me. He sees my children are exhausted, and I’m barely standing—it has been a long day of going to all the places, doing all the things—and he has the means to help us and so he does.

I am too tired to really talk, and after reassuring him that two of my girls are boys, I sink back into the car seat—the car is a 1950s something or other—this matters a great deal to Lazaro, the something or other that the car is, but so little to me that the name—and it can only be one of two, three names, right? Ford, Chrysler, Chevrolet?—slides in one ear and out the other—doesn’t even slide into one ear, but floats over it—but I do hear, “It could have been my grandfather’s car,” Lazaro says with pride, and that “could have been”—not “was”—is so intriguing, it captures my attention, wakes me up. “My mother in law just hated it, hates it,” Lazaro is saying. “When I bought it, she just wouldn’t stop saying, I hate that car, why did you buy that car? And I kept on saying, “Mama, why do you keep on saying that? I don’t care if you hate this car, I bought it for me, and I like it.”

“She is difficult person,” he confides, “my mother-in-law.”

“Are they not always,” I laugh. But his father-in-law, his father-in-law is more a father to him than his own has been.

By the time Lazaro tells me about the farm, I have in the periphery of my imagination outlines of the people who live on it, work it—his wife, her parents. The fourteen year-old-daughter who, on the days her father cannot drive her, hitchhikes eight kilometres to get to school. “Transportation is a challenge in Cuba,” he tells me very seriously as we pass three buses bursting at the seams with people—and stopping to pick up more. “But my daughter, she is very diligent, devoted. She is never late. She always finds a way to do it.”

I see these people in my head, and so I need to see them in life. So I ask to see the farm.

“Why?” Lazaro asks. “There is nothing interesting to see there. It’s just an old house. And some land.”

“Everything here is very interesting to me,” I say. And I can’t quite explain—he has painted a picture with words that now exists in my head, and I don’t want the picture in my head to be fake. I want to see what it really looks like.

That’s when he tells me I’m a child. I shrug. He looks at me, perplexed.

“Are you sure?”

I’m sure. And so the next day, at ten minutes to 10, he is waiting outside the gate to my castle—and is relieved when I run down the stairs, children behind me.

“Are you sure?” he asks again. “I told my wife you wanted to come and see it, and she thought maybe I misunderstood you. There is nothing interesting there. It is just where we live.”

22-Birdcage

IV.

By the way—do you do this too?—one of my most frequent typos is to write “love” instead of “live.” As in, “It is just where we love.” I love that.

V.

Before we get in the car and take off, Lazaro goes to check out the local supermarket and bodega. He is hunting for spaghetti—which has been plentiful in this neighbourhood the whole time I’ve been here—but which makes its way to his village shop very inconsistently.

“My wife needs it to make the lunches,” he explains. His wife, Nidia, is—was—a nurse. The former regional head of a rather important health program—I’m fudging some details here, love, because I’m not sure how identifiable I want to make these beautiful people, because, well, totalitarian regimes make me paranoid—as they should, because that is, after all, their intention. That government job paid her the equivalent of about $30 American dollars a month.

Lazaro is—was—a doctor. His state salary was about the same. I promise not to digress into another math lesson here, only consider this: the day that he drove me home from Old Havana for $10CUC, in that 15 minutes, he made one third of his monthly salary as a fucking life saving physician.

22-Verandah with birds

VI.

After the revolution, Cuba abolished private enterprise and private property on a scale unrivalled in the European Communist world. Poland, for example, always retained some private enterprise. Taxed and regulated to death, thankless, arduous it was—but there were slivers of it here and there. Cuba killed it all. Not, by the way, for ideological reasons, not really. This is really, really important to understand: Fidel Castro was not a socialist. He was—I will not deny this—a patriot. He was also a power-hungry psychopath, and state control of the means of production—the ownership of property—was not so much about giving power to the people as it was about giving power to Fidel.

In 2008, Raoul Castro loosened the restrictions and allowed small-scale ownership of property. People could buy land—and cultivate it.

Dr. Lazaro, the near-famine of the Special Period still vivid in his memory, jumped at the chance.

“The best way to ensure you will have food is to grow your food,” he tells me. There is a pause and a tension in his voice. His grandfather died during the Special Period. He was 95—a good full life. But he died hungry.

“He died hungry.”

So now, the doctor and the nurse own a farm.

22-Stripping the roses 2

VII.

When we get to the farm, Nidia is cleaning up the outdoor kitchen, with the help of her mother and a hired maid, after preparing the midday meal for several dozen farm labourers. These lunches are one of the family’s critical income streams—as critical as the tourist taxi dollars Lazaro gathers on weekends.

Another consists in renting a refrigeration unit to a nearby rose farmer.

“We are very lucky here—we have good water and we have reliable electricity,” Lazaro explains. The rose farmer doesn’t—he stores his harvested flowers here until it is time to deliver them to vendors.

I have to tell you—every time I see someone selling, buying, carrying flowers in Havana—and I see it a lot—my heart lifts, and I think—this is good. When people have the capacity to love and have something as frivolous, non-utilitarian as flowers—this is good.

(Yes, that means you should buy me flowers more often. I’ll do the same for you.)

Shortly after we arrive, the rose farmers arrive to do a pick up. Ender helps them peel the bloom protectors off. The little mesh things—I call them flower condoms, but there is probably a technically proper name for them—are slipped over the rose buds as soon as they appear on the plants, and keep the blooms tight, extending their lives. In Canada, they would be a disposable item. In Cuba, imported from Brazil—a cause of hassle each time they come across the border—they are precious, and the rose farmers, Lazaro, and Ender carefully remove each one before the roses are ready to be taken away—naked—to the resellers.

22-Coconut

VII.

After the rose farmers leave, a neighbour and her children arrive, and Lazaro’s father-in-law gets all the children coconuts.

The coconuts are one of the farm’s weed crops, as are the banana palms, always producing, near indestructible. The avocado and mango trees are more seasonal and require more care. Lazaro also grows squash and pumpkin, beans, peppers. This year’s late and intense rains cost him a pepper crop.

“It is frustrating,” he understates. Shows me a shriveled up pepper.

The land on which he farms used to be part of a government-owned orange plantation, destroyed by a foul blight more than a decade ago. The first thing he had to do when he got the land was uproot and destroy the dead orange trees.

The land he farms surrounds the 100-year-old house where he lives with his wife, their daughter—and his wife’s parents. It used to belong to his wife’s grandparents.

So did some of the land Lazaro has been buying back from the government.

Viva la revolucion.

22-Living Wall

IX.

I love the house. Lazaro is a little worried about managing my expectations, because he sees where I’m living in Havana—and it’s a palace by Cuban standards, and, frankly, by mine. “It’s, like, three times as big as my house in Calgary,” I tell him. “I am not a princess.”

“We like our house,” he assures me. He does not want to look insecure. “It is a good house. But it is just an ordinary, old house.”

Ordinary, simple—efficient. Cement blocks forming thick walls. Glassless windows covered with thick shutters. Designed as perfectly, for the climate, as a Spanish villa. The day is hot, but the temperature inside is perfect.

Outside, two of the house’s four walls are covered with a creeping plant.

“It’s a living wall!” I exclaim.

“It’s my air-conditioning,” Lazaro says with pride.

Inside is a large comfortable living room, a well-organized kitchen, three bedrooms, a bathroom. Outside—a huge outdoor kitchen. A verandah filled with bird cages.

The farmyard. The kids go crazy over the poultry. Chickens, of course, but also ducks, geese and a young turkey. A dog to guard them all—and, three young pigs.

“They’re so cute!” Flora exclaims.

“They’re for eating,” Lazaro whispers to me. “But maybe don’t tell her.”

I laugh. Do you see why I love him? He already knows her.

22-piglets

X.

The children explore, and we eat coconut, guava, and talk. Nidia makes me coffee cut with chicory—Cubans like it like that, Lazaro says, a hint of irony in his voice, which is fortunate, because most of the coffee produced in the country is intended for export, and every time the government decides it wants more coffee for export, there’s more chicory in the coffee left available for Cubans.

Nidia tells me her nursing work was a vocation. She misses it. “But….” I nod. I understand.

Lazaro talks about things I don’t understand—irrigation, quality of the soil. Things he is learning about as systematically as he once learned medicine—from books, from more experienced neighbours. He is dreaming of an irrigation system that delivers controlled quantities of water to individual plants. Also a greenhouse. He met a German woman a few months ago who was interested in investing in the farm, providing him with the funds to get a greenhouse. (After I leave, he writes me, elated, he has met with her again: the plan is a go, he will get his greenhouse, and he is closer to his irrigation system—he is happy, and I am so happy for him. If I am ever not destitute, I will buy him a tractor, I tell him. He laughs. The one man in the neighbourhood who owns a tractor makes a good living lending its power from farm to farm. “It might be a complicated gift,” he says. “That tractor breaks all the time. At least it is not my problem to fix it!”)

The kids get bored. It’s time to head back… Before we go, do I want to drive around the area, Lazaro asks.

Of course, of course.

And, we go… and…

Fuck, I wish I hadn’t.

22-Exploring

XI.

It’s not true, of course. I’m glad I have. It’s important to know. To see.

Right. You don’t know what I saw.

I can’t show you. I didn’t take pictures.

I’m afraid to draw them for you with my words.

I don’t know where to start. Because you need to know about the palestinos and L’Oriente first.

L’Oriente means the East—and L’Oriente used to be the name of the Easternmost province of Cuba. In 1976, it was split into five administrative provinces. But this is not important. This is: L’Oriente was importing slaves into the late 1800s—slavery wasn’t abolished in Cuba until 1886. When Cuba finally gained independence from Spain in 1899, L’Oriente was a mess and continued to be a mess into the 20th century. And the 21st. It should be rich, producing agricultural land—it used to be coveted for its sugar and coffee crops. It is now one of Cuba’s poorest regions. After the revolution, tens of thousands of impoverished people from L’Oriente flocked into Havana. They did so again during the Special Period. And again, now.

They are mostly Afro-Cubans. Habaneros call them palestinos. It is not a term of endearment.

“This is where, how they live,” Lazaro says. The houses are cobbled together from whatever. Boards, palm trunks, leaves. Tarps. Sheet metal.

Not that far away—brand new apartment buildings. Erected for the army.

In the middle of it all—a very beautiful, freshly painted house.

“He’s done ok,” Lazaro says as we drive by. “He works for the government. He’s had the chance to steal a lot.”

His voice is interesting. A twinge of contempt. Also, jealousy. Also, understanding.

Another house barely fit for human habitation.

“It is difficult,” Lazaro says. “And I look at it, and I think, how can you live like this, are you animals? And then I think—what must they be leaving behind, running from, if they are willing to live like this?”

Yeah.

XII.

I can’t talk for the rest of the ride home; I kind of lay curled up in the front seat of the car, my head pounding. We pass, on the way, a couple of beautiful houses surrounded by lush trees—and very tall fences.

They belong to the Castros.

It’s cute how Fidel wore that green army uniform all the time, and not Armani suits.

But in the end, I think he had more in common with Battista than with Che Guavara.

“Are you okay?” Lazaro asks me. I shake my head.

“Tell me a beautiful story,” I ask. “I need something beautiful.”

So he tells me how, twenty three years ago, he fell in love with his wife. She came in with an injured leg, to the hospital in which he was doing his residency. “And she wore this incredible tight dress,” he says, “I was with another patient, and my head just snapped, like this!” I laugh. “And I left my patient and followed her. I took the clipboard with her chart and information on it, and I looked at it, and I looked at her, and I said, ‘I’m going to be keeping an eye on you.’ And she said, ‘And who are you?’ And I said, ‘Your future husband.’”

“Love at first sight?” I ask.

“And love twenty three years later,” he says. “She is such a good person, my wife. Her face—she has such a sweet face. And her heart—she reminds me of her grandmother. A good, good person. You know, in Cuba these days, people don’t stay together very long. They get together for a few years, maybe have a child, maybe not—split up. Me, I’m going to stay with my wife.”

I smile at him and reach out to put my hand on his. The capacity to love. That is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

“Is that a good story?” Lazaro asks.

“That is the best story,” I say.

Eros. Philia. Ludus. Pragma. Agape. And—yes–philautia.

Do you see why I fell in love with him?

22-Lazaros Farm Banner

*

Thank you thank you thank you to Blue Mountain Biodynamic Farm for sponsoring this post. Please take some time to check out their website, and think about how you get your food–from whom–and why…

*

LANDED here for the first time? Let me catch you up:

Series 1 of Postcards from Cuba is now fully live. Check out the annotated table of contents for a tour, or, if you prefer, hop over to the chronological table of contents.

And if you like what you read/hear/see, please consider expressing your delight by making a contribution:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: Why?

Jane: Because you’ve always wanted to be a patron of the arts, and you know that artists can’t pay for groceries with exposure.

You: How much?

Jane: Buy me a cup of coffee, a Cuba Libre, or a Cuban cigar.

You: That’s all?

Jane: My avarice is happy to match your affluence. But I get $1 in royalties for each copy my other self sells of a traditionally published book. It is impossible to disappoint me.

If you would like to make a contribution, but have PayPal issues (I get it), please email me at nothingbythebook at gmail.com, and we’ll work something out.

Thank you!

“Jane”

NothingByTheBook.com / Tweet tweet @NothingBTBook / Instagram NothingByTheBook

22-Lazaros Farm Banner

 

“Love is disgusting.” But you knew that already.

nbtb-love is disgusting

I.

How I know he’s mine:

Jane: Cinder? Could you take out the recycling when your game’s over?

Cinder: Is it urgent?

Jane: Well… it’s not urgent right now, but the cupboard’s stuffed full and barely closing, and so next time someone opens it, all the recycling will flow out, screaming, “Freedom! Freedom!” and make a mess on the floor and…

Cinder: So how about, as soon as I hear it screaming, I take it out?

Jane: Ok. Works for me.

Cinder: Just so we understand each other—you’ll scream “Freedom! Freedom!” if you’re the one who opens the cupboard?

Jane: Yes.

Cinder: But you won’t do it on purpose. Only if you actually have to try to stuff something else in there.

Jane: Yes.

Cinder: Ok. Works for me.

II.

How I know she’s mine:

Flora: I can’t believe this. I! Can’t! Believe! This! The only likeable character in the book, and they kill him off—and there’s like a third of the book to go! What the hell? Who does that? What’s wrong with this writer? I am never, ever, EVER reading anything by this jerk again!

Jane: Where are you going?

Flora: I’m going to rewrite this chapter the way it should have been written!

III.

I don’t know where the hell he came from:

Ender: I! Love! Boogers! I! Love! My! Boogers! I! Love! Your! Boogers! I! Love! Everyone’s! Boogers! Sooooooo! Muuuuuuuch!

IV.

How they know they’re mine (even though they’re not):

Flora: He’s so disgusting.

Jane: It could be worse. When Cinder was his age? He used to feed you his boogers.

Flora: Jeezus, Mom, seriously? And you let him? What’s wrong with you?

Cinder: She didn’t let me. I mostly did it when she wasn’t looking. And only if you were awake.

Flora: That’s supposed to make me feel better?

Cinder: Well, at least I never puked on you, Ms Lazy Esophagus!

Flora: I didn’t… Mom? Did I puke on Cinder?

Jane: Yes. Kind of incessantly. Don’t feel bad. It’s very common. And he peed in your ear. So, you know. It all balances out.

Flora: Children are really disgusting. Like, the most disgusting thing ever. And that’s not even counting the bloody birthing part.

Jane: Pretty much.

Flora: But you’re happy you had us?

Jane: There is no meaning or purpose to my life without you.

V.

I’ve read Joan Didion’s Blue Nights last week, and it almost killed me. Listen:

“When we talk about mortality we are talking about our children.

… Once she was born I was never not afraid.”

“A question: if we and our children could in fact see the other clear would the fear go away? Would the fear go away for both of us, or would the fear go away only for me?”

““You have your wonderful memories,” people would say later, as if memories were solace. Memories are not. Memories are by definition of times past, things gone. … Memories are what you no longer want to remember.”

“I no longer want reminders of what was, what got broken, what got lost, what got wasted.

In theory these mementos serve to bring back the moment.

In fact they serve only make clear how inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here.”

“I do not know many people who think they have succeeded as parents. Those who do tend to cite the markers that indicate (their own) status in the world: the Standford degree, the Harvard MBA, the summer with the white-shoed law firm. Those of us less inclined to compliment ourselves on our parenting skills, in other words, most of us, recite rosaries of our failures, our neglects, our derelictions and delinquencies.”

“I tell you this true story just to prove that I can.”

I am changed.

VI.

They are loved.

They know they are loved.

Ender: Mooom! Hug! Kiss!

Cinder: Don’t do it, Mom! He was eating boogers!

Ender: I was not! I was only pretending. I was feeding them to Maggie.

Flora: Well, at least it wasn’t me.

Ender: Next time, I will share… My! Boogers! With! Yooooooooouuuuuuu!

Cinder: That’s my little bro! High-five, man!

Flora: Groooooosss! Moooooom!

Love. Disgusting, innit? 😉

xoxo

“Jane”

PS Of course he took out the recycling. Of course.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: There is such a thing as loving nature too much, or, more proof that children are disgusting.