Archive for the ‘Bean’ Category

A Little Citizen Goes to Washington

Friday, January 27th, 2017

IMG_3647One week ago as Donald Trump took the oath of office, I boarded a plane for DC with my six-year-old daughter, Lucette.

In the days after November 8th when the first rumors of a Women’s March on Washington began to surface, I told my husband Bruce, “I’m going. And I want to take Lu with me.”

I’ve had a lot of time to think about why. Not so much why I myself would want to go, to put on a pink pussy hat, to march with sign held high down the streets of our capitol—I knew I needed to do something drastic, to get up off the couch, out of my safe San Francisco bubble and make my voice heard. But why, as my Dad asked me a few weeks ago, why would I “put a child in that sort of situation.”

Because, I said. Because she is a Little Citizen. Because she will one day be a woman, and the things that are happening in our country today will directly impact her life. Because I want her to know that her mom stood up, not only for her, but all women and girls—of all colors, creeds and concerns. Because someday I want her to be able to say, “I was there, too.” Because I want her to know that she can say No. That it is very American to resist. That protest is patriotic, too. That this is what democracy looks like. That she has power. That her voice matters, and so she should stand up and shout.

She’s only six, but she gets it—she gets the heart of why we were there. She spent hours crafting her very own march sign that on one side said, “It is not OK to be mean” and on the other, “I can teach you to be a better person, and you can be a kind person.”IMG_3750

“Will Donald Trump be there, Mom?” she asked me, “will he see my sign? Because I wrote it so he knows that he can be a kind person. He should be a kind person. It’s dumb to be mean to me just because I’m a girl.”

The metro to L’Enfant Plaza was incredibly crowded—Lu’s Auntie Kathy handed her an iphone playing My Little Pony to distract her from the absolute crush that was honestly starting to freak her out.

But when we hit the streets, when people straightened their pussy ears and lifted their poster board signs and began to chant, “Love trumps hate! Love trumps hate!” I watched Lu’s eyes get wide with wonder. “Mom,” she whispered, “there are so many people here! Are they all here to march with us?”

And when I told her “Yes, we are all marching together today,” and I saw the white dome of Capitol Hill just blocks away, surrounded by a sea of pink hats, I started crying. Not sad tears, I had to explain to her—proud tears. I was so fiercely proud to be there.

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For most of the day, our “march” was more like a shuffle. But I have never been crushed in a crowd of kinder, more polite people. There was no pushing. There was no arguing. Other women helped me lift Lucette up to my shoulders so she could see (and breathe). Other moms gave me the wink and nod as they shouldered their own kids.

I honestly don’t know how much of that day Lu will remember. It was inspiring and empowering, yes, but it was also emotionally draining and difficult—and I’m just speaking for myself as an adult! Hanging around in a crowd of half a million people wasn’t all fun and games for a 6-year-old either (although I did find her a tree to climb and an ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles).

I think she’ll remember the hats, and the signs, especially the ones that she thought were hilarious. I think she’ll remember that there were more people there than she’s ever seen in her life, and they were all laughing and smiling and helping each other. She’ll probably remember the pink hair spray she asked me to color her pigtails with. But I hope somewhere, the knowledge that she can make a difference remains and sinks down into her very bones.

The day after the march was pretty special, as we spent it visiting monuments and memorials—Lincoln and FDR and Korea and Vietnam, where I had to explain the concept of war.

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Her favorite was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial—she had just finished learning about him at school and I overheard her telling her Aunties, “Did you know that Martin Luther King changed the world? People thought that if you had brown skin you weren’t as important as if you had light skin? Isn’t that stupid? But then Martin Luther King told people, ‘No, we’re all the same inside.’ Just like how if you have two eggs and one is white and one is brown, it doesn’t matter because inside the yolk is still yellow in both of them and you can’t even tell them apart!”

One of the hardest things about being a parent, to me, is the ever-present and awesome responsibility to do right by this small human being. To love them unconditionally, yes, but also to equip them with the knowledge and confidence and fortitude they will need to be a good citizen of the world.

Our world today is not the one I want for my daughter. But going to the March, I think, was a way of showing her that hope is greater than fear, and that she herself is brave and strong and powerful. And she is not alone.

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Transition Lenses

Monday, November 21st, 2011

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“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” -Anatole France

Melancholy. That’s the feeling I’ve been trying to name.

I am not sad. I’m not unhappy, or disgruntled, or malcontent. I’m just, ever so occasionally, melancholy.

Several people who are further along in their parenting adventure told me that when your babe turns one year old, you begin to feel yourself again. As if the first anniversary is a magical switch that, once reached, will tilt the axis of your universe back to a more familiar (and less overwhelming) setting.

So as the fated date approched, I waited for a renewed sense of self. Some sort of assurance that I had gotten the hang of mum-hood while still retaining or regaining all the moving parts that made me the person I used to be.

And then September 2 came, and partied, and faded into September 3 and I felt no different than I had on the 1st of the month. Or on the 1st of August. Or July.

Don’t worry, I’m not sitting here all sad-sack thinking there’s something wrong with me. I believe that mothers, like babies, develop at their own pace. Just because other mothers have felt like life returned to some semblance of normality around the one year mark doesn’t mean that my sense of normal will behave the same way.

Maybe I feel this way, in part, because I waited awhile to have a child. My individual personhood (and couplehood with Bruce) was pretty well established for quite a few years. We had it down. And then, at 7am one Thursday morning, everything changed.

I changed.

And in the change, I lost myself.

It’s true that I’ve gained more in motherhood than I have lost. So much more. There are moments of wonder and joy that surpass anything I have ever known, that more than make up for the lack of sleep and the absence of time.

But that doesn’t negate the fact that the me who used to be is gone.

Sometimes I struggle with that. Sometimes I don’t know who, exactly, I am anymore.

After all, the learning curve is steep when you’re becoming someone new. You spend a lot of time admitting that you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. You stumble around. You try and you fail. You get overly nostalgic about the old routine, because this new one is incredibly uncomfortable.

So it’s only natural and fitting that on the difficult days and often in the dead of night, you mourn the you who is lost. Because you knew how to be that version of yourself. You had the playbook, more or less.

Now that playbook is undergoing a complete and total revision. And in order to embrace the new world order, you have to say goodbye to the old.

But sometimes letting go takes awhile.

So while I’m cocooned in this transition phase, while I’m releasing and embracing and fumbling around, I’ve decided to let the more creative parts of myself go into hibernation. It’s the only way to survive, really.

If I tried to be as prolific as I was pre-baby, to write even as much as I did when I was pregnant, I think my skull would implode.

It’s not that I’m not writing at all. I’m here, obviously. Just not as often as I used to be. Weekly posts have been culled to monthly posts. If I’m lucky.

I’m also keeping a journal for Lucette, trying to record all the little moments that slip too easily into the ether.

But I’m not writing for myself. The poetry is dormant for now. I miss it. I miss that feeling when the words start to click and flow and fit into place. I miss the satisfaction of a well-placed line break.

And I miss charting out new ideas for cinepoems. (In fact, I have a gorgeous one percolating that involves me, Lu, and a pair of tiny hats.)

I miss the more simple, selfish things, too. Like having entire Saturday afternoons to read a novel. Or weed the flower beds. Or obsessively re-organize my closet. Or do nothing at all.

Someday the energy, the creative spark, will return. Someday I’ll pull the poems out from their hiding places and build them a home of paper and ink. But not today.

Today I am going to change a poopy diaper. And find the missing white cow for the Little People farm. And read the story about the Busy Horses. And read it again. And again.

And somewhere between the highchair and the crib, I’m going to learn something new about who this mother-me really is.

I think it’s going to be great.

-Lo, who thinks that a world without the Cheeks in it would be a truly miserable place.

Year One

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

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365

For the record, I didn’t really believe everything would change.
I imagined less time, of course, less sleep, less general air of sans souci
but not the entirety of life all upside down, and least of all me.

It seems after 52 weeks of daily miracles
I have become someone completely new.
I am milk maid and diaper genie and an utter fool for you.

Little Light of September Moon, all my selves were made to love you.

-Lo, whose entire world changed for good one year ago today.

With Flying Colors

Monday, August 1st, 2011

airplane

By all accounts, Baby’s 1st Flight was a success.

Sure, there were a few bouts of excessive wiggling accompanied by the occasional ear-splitting devilish squeal. And there were also a few crankypants cries when Miss Cheeks was trying to nap and not able to get as comfy (e.g. flat on her face) as she would have liked.

goodie-bagBut those goodie bags did the trick with garnering the goodwill of nearly all of our airborne neighbors, excluding the sourpuss elderly couple who clearly were too good to be sitting back with all us riffraff in coach.

They certainly charmed the 3 teenage boys who sat behind us on the flight home. They received their bags o’ sugar with exclamations of: “No way!” “For real?!” “Awesome.” And my personal favorite, “Dude. I’m totally tweeting this!”

When we landed at O’Hare, I had a few bags left and passed them out to the flight attendants and pilot on our way off the plane.

 Turns out that was an excellent decision, because the day after we arrived home, a special FedEx package arrived for Lucette. aa-letter

The letter reads:
“Dear Lucette,
I received a phone call from the crew on your recent flight from San Francisco to Chicago. They were all so impressed with your grace and gentle spirit on your first flight.

On behalf of American Airlines, it is an honor to include you among our loyal customers.

We wish you a lifetime of safe travel and joy discovering the world.”

The package included a “My First Flight” certificate complete with AA wings and a gold pendant for a necklace.

I admit, I got a little verklempt over that one. Such a nice gesture, and completely unexpected.

Lu’s first trip to her Mimi and Papa’s farm in Illinois was quite eventful.

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First, though, we had to stop at Lou Malnati’s and introduce her to real Chicago pizza.

Safe to say she’s a fan. (And she made her daddy proud with the amount of pie she put away.)

 The week that followed was full of hot July weather, lots of swimming, lap chickens, meeting horses,horse mooing at guernsey cows and winning over a black lab named Charlie, who became Lucette’s devoted servant after noticing the copious amounts of food that were tossed over the side of her high chair.

Even though she’s too little to remember, I showed her the house I grew up in out on Palmyra Road and introduced her to many of the places that were the landmarks of my childhood.

We’ll do it again when she’s older, I’m sure. But this time, her first time, will stick in my mind.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, a business idea for Public Relations Plane Kits for Babies is in the works, thanks to my entrepreneurial sister. I’ll keep you posted.

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-Lo, who says that a lap chicken is a chicken who sits in your lap, of course.

Public Relations, Baby Style

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

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The countdown is on for Baby’s First Plane Ride.

Lucette is 10 months old and has yet to meet her Great-Grandma Ruth. In a few days, we’re going to fix that. But the meet and greet requires an airplane.

I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve got some bad plane karma coming my way. In my younger–and much more arrogant–days, I lobbed quite a few hairy eyeballs in the direction of fellow plane passengers who were less than 3 feet high.

To be fair, a couple of them were kicking the back of my seat. Or trying to crawl under it. Or standing on the seat behind me, holding onto my headrest and also a clump of my hair.

So, at the time, I felt my dirty looks and loud sighs were completely justified. (And I still think that if you’re old enough to kick the seat in front of you, you’re old enough to be told to knock it off.)

But here’s the thing that I didn’t understand very well when I was a solo flyer: The only thing worse than a crying baby in the row behind you is being the parent of said crying baby.

I had my own Great Awakening to that fact when I started flying with my sister and nephew, who was then 6 months old. My sister was nearly nauseous with fear as we boarded the flight. Not because she’s a phobic flyer, but because she was so worried about how her baby would handle the flight… and how our fellow passengers would treat him if he handled it with screeches and squeals.

She needn’t have worried, that time. For a 6-month-old, a plane is a giant white noise and jiggle machine, and he nodded off to sleep like a bitty angel.

That was when I first began to understand just how hard it is to travel with kids. Because you’re not just dealing with all the extra stuff required… the bottles and snacks and diapers and toys and blankets.

You’re also dealing with all the unpredictable aspects of air travel (delays, cancellations, lost baggage, endless waits on the runway) and its affect on the sleeping, eating and pooping habits of a tiny human who can’t understand why they’re not allowed to get down and crawl up the aisle.

As if that all weren’t enough to frazzle your overly-exhausted nerves, you also have to deal with the disapproval–and often the outright disgust–of your fellow travelers. The muttering, eye rolling and exasperated sighing will begin as soon as they set eyes on your and your bundle of joy.

And even when you do your best to ignore it, even when you make superhuman efforts to keep your babe from bawling, even when you aren’t some oblivious,entitled parent-type who believes the entire universe revolves around little AshleyCaitlinLouise, even then, it still sucks to be treated like a pariah just because you had the audacity to both breed and travel.

(And for those prickly solo passengers who claim there’s never a good reason to take babies on a plane, consider this: My grandmother is pushing 90. She has bad knees and a bad heart. She can’t fly, take a train, or sit in a car for 3 days to come and visit her newest great-granddaughter in California. And she has been sending me letters for months saying, “Am I going to get to meet that baby before I die?!” Sometimes there are very good reasons to take a baby on a plane.)

So here we are, with the big day is almost upon us. Bruce and I have been planning for it as if it were a Seal Team Six operation, while at the same time remaining fully aware that babies tend to scoff at your plans. And then barf on them.

We’ve both been anxious about how this whole adventure will go. I have begun repeating to myself a daily mantra that goes something like this: “I don’t care what you think about my kid. I don’t care what you think about my kid. I don’t care…”single-bag

Bruce, being a more practical person, had a better idea.

Bribery.

It’s beautifully simple. We’re handing out bags of candy to all the passengers sitting near us.

 The bags are cellophane, so you can see all the tasty treats inside them and not wonder why this stranger is suddenly shoving a mysterious package in your face.

And they don’t just hold candy, no. That’s where the brilliance comes in. These bags? They contain ear plugs.

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Each bag also comes labeled with a little tag which has a picture of Lucette (standing in a cardboard box and waving) on one side.

And the other side has a message that reads:cimg2731

“Hi! My name is Lucette.
I’m 10 months old and this is my first plane ride.
I am going to meet my 89-year-old Great Grandma
because she is too ill to fly to CA to see me.
I will try very hard to be quiet, but let’s be honest,
I’m not very good at it yet.
So I apologize in advance for any squeals, growls, wails
or endlessly repeated vowel sounds that might annoy you.”

I figure that half the battle of not annoying someone is to make yourself more human to them. To say: Hey, we used to be you. Flying all solo and fancy-free. We know you would rather not be sitting by our kid. But hopefully giving that wee growling kid an actual name and story will make a difference. As will the sugar. And most of all, the ear plugs.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

-Lo, working the Baby PR.

The Same But Different

Friday, February 25th, 2011

different

February has flown by with nary a post from me.

And it’s not that I have nothing happening or nothing to say. Quite the contrary. I feel nearly drowned under a deluge of happenings: changes, promises, possibilities. I am choosing my words carefully these days, choking back the bulk of them.

While I’m the world’s biggest proponent of putting it out there and saying what you feel, I have learned hard lessons recently about being selective about the what, the how, the when and, most of all, the whom with which you share.

So I’ll let that hang there all cryptic-like and talk about something else for awhile.

And what else is there to talk about but the Baby Love of my life?! She’s nearly six months now. Already.

I have been warned about how quickly time would fly and I believed it. But when you see it actually happening, actually flying before your eyes, you get a little breathless, a little disbelieving, a little, “how can this be?”

More and more, as the little one grows rounder and taller and stronger and, oh my god, funnier, I am realizing just how much I have changed.

Before Lucette came, I worried about it. I spent a very long time getting fine with who I was and I was apprehensive about the new Mother Me who would emerge. I didn’t know who I would become.

And I know, I know the becoming has only just begun. But how far I’ve already come!

There was a moment, just days after Lucette was born, when I realized what a fundamental shift had already occured within me. We were freshly home from the hospital, just the three of us. We were sitting on the couch, watching HGTV (we watched hours of that channel in the early days of babyland, which is why I’m now addicted to Holmes on Homes).

Lucette had fallen asleep in my arms and as I stared down at her, tears began rolling from my eyes.

Bruce looked over and saw me crying and said, “What’s wrong?!”

“Nothing.” I replied. “Nothing at all. I’m just looking at her and she’s so beautiful. And I’m so ha-a-a-ppy.” And then I dissolved in a big puddle of mush.

Bruce scooted over, put his arm around us, and together we sat and stared at that tiny round head and wept.

And I knew, I knew right then that I was a new person.

Not entirely new, of course. The old Lo is still here. But I’ve expanded, somehow. I’ve gotten wider. Not the childbirth hip factor, although that’s true, too. It’s like my soul has doubled in size. There’s more room in me now. More capacity for love, for emotion, for mothering.

Augh. And here’s where the words run out on me, because that’s not even it exactly. Perhaps because I can’t quite wrap my brain around this metamorphosis yet, I can’t explain it coherently. It will likely take years to suss out.

But I’m content knowing, for now, that I have changed. And that the change is good. There is not the sense of loss that I feared, pre-baby. Instead there is a fullness. A completeness. A being-okay-with-the-not-quite-there-yet-ness.

And every morning when I wake up to those Cheeks (even on days like today, when the Cheeks wake me up before dawn), I am overwhelmed by my good fortune.

I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be this little one’s momma.

-Lo, who found the words after all.

Seven by Seven

Monday, January 24th, 2011

bridge2

I’ve been thinking alot lately about why I work.

My maternity leave from August to December last year was the first time since I was 15 that I’ve had so much consecutive time to myself.

Granted, that time to myself was largely spent changing diapers and pushing a pram through the park. But still, it was week after week of 40 hours NOT spent locked down at a desk.

And the thing that amazed me the most about it was that I never once got bored.

Ok, yes, there was the whole new mother thing happening. But putting the baby metaphorically aside for the moment, the point is that I had no trouble filling my days. Each morning was a gift of “What are we going to do today?”

The aforementioned walks in the park became a big deal, something I always looked forward to. And there were poems to write and cinépoems to edit and a yard to putter around in and if there had been a dog on the premises, there would have been even more to do.

But then my time was up and here I am again, surrendering 40 precious hours to the machine.

I can’t tell you how many times since December 8th I’ve sat in meetings listening to marketing muckety-mucks arguing about what headline I should write to get people to buy a bunch of crap they don’t really need. And all I’m thinking is, “I could be pushing a pram through a park right now.”

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I work.

And the answer lies on the tip of a western peninsula, within the seven by seven miles that I call home… San Francisco, where the majority of residents are renters because buying a home is too expensive.

When Bruce and I pulled up stakes in Illinois ten years ago, we knew the move was permanent. There has never been any looking back, not even in 2001 when I got laid off six times in a row. (In any recession, it seems the copywriter is always the first to go.)

More than any other place on earth I’ve been, San Francisco is home.

Before Lucette arrived, I didn’t mind working. I have always tried to find the most creative word-wrangling job I can to finance the life I love to live.

But now that our family is one person larger, I have begun to begrudge those workaday hours. And so I have to remind myself why I do it.

Because I don’t have to work.

We could always move somewhere cheaper. Perhaps a nice cul-de-sac in a beige suburb where everyone drives the .05 miles to the neighborhood Wal-Mart.

But the dream was never to hie westward and settle in San Mateo. Or Oakland, Alameda, Fresno or Dinuba.

The dream is San Francisco. And it’s a dream I want to give to my daughter.

I want her to grow up here, in this beautiful city, surrounded by people of all races, creeds, languages and sexual orientations. I want her to wake up to the salt air of the ocean, to sleep to the sound of the foghorns.

I want her to have the Golden Gate in her backyard and the mountains within reach. I want her to own the wealth of used bookstores and know the wonder of world-class ballet.

I want her to eat more food from Farmer’s Markets than McDonald’s. I want her to wear out her walking shoes. I want sand on her toes and sun in her hair.

I want her to disagree without being disagreeable. I want her to know that it’s ok to be different.

I want what all parents want — to give their child the world. The difference is that in San Francisco, I can actually give it to her. Because the world lies just outside our front door.

And that is why I work. For Lucette. For San Francisco. For the dream.

-Lo, whose paychecks fuel freedom

Tornado Weather

Monday, December 27th, 2010

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A belated Christmas present just for you… a shiny new cinepoem.

This one is called “Tornado Weather”. It was shot back in May in my hometown of Dixon, Illinois and features the lovely Jessica Hussung. Since I was 6 months pregnant at the time of the shoot, I had a lot of help from my friend Anna, who also happens to be Jessica’s mum.

So thanks to both of you, Jesse and Anna! And thanks for being so patient and waiting so long to see the result of your hard work on that steamy summer day.

You can check out Tornado Weather on the cinepoems page, as always, and also on YouTube. If you watch it on YouTube, be sure to leave a comment or thumbs up there.

It’s the last cinepoem for awhile, I’m afraid. I have ideas for new shoots in the new year, but nothing is in the can yet.

And to answer the question many of you have been asking me… Yes, the Bean will be making her cinepoem debut someday, but I might wait until she can walk first.

Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, and Bonne Annee to you all.

-Lo, with love and great expectations for 2011.

Bye Bye Baby

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

bye-bye

About 12 hours from now, I’ll be driving south with my mug of tea, and I’m pretty close to certain I will be bawling my eyes out.

I go back to work tomorrow.

And although I like my job and I fully realize I am lucky to have a job, I don’t know how I’m going to walk out on that sweet baby face in the morning.

These last three months have been some of the best days of my life, hanging around the house with Bruce & Lulu, strolling to the beach, running the washing machine at least once a day to keep up with all those essential wee baby articles that inevitably get covered in spit-up and poo.

Back when I was pregnant, back in my other life, I thought that after nearly four months of wearing sweat pants and rubber-band hair, I’d welcome the chance to jump back into the workaday routine.

I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Every day is a small new miracle. Every day I fall in love a little bit more. Every day is filled with a thousand tiny things that speed the hours along faster than ever before.

I don’t want to miss out on anything. A toothless smile. A new, drooly consonant. A gravity-defying poop. I want to see it all.

In the more rational moments, I talk sense into myself. I remind myself that we want Lucette to grow up here, in this amazing city of San Francisco. In this amazing, expensive city of San Francisco. And in order for her to build a life here, off to work I must go.

I remind myself that we’re lucky in so many ways… Bruce can stay home with Lucette most days, so she’ll have quality daddy-daughter time. And when he can’t be home, we have two lovely friends who have volunteered for nanny duty. She won’t be shuffled off to strangers.

But tonight, on the eve of my return to my other life, all of this common sense is cold comfort.

Because when I went on leave back in August, I didn’t really take into account the development of Mommy Brain. I knew life would change, sure, but I didn’t fathom, I couldn’t really understand, how very much I would change.

And I didn’t realize how delusional it was to think that three months would be enough.

So tomorrow I will set off to earn a living, to pay for this wonderful life that we have. And all I will be thinking about is, “When will it be time to go home?!”

-Lo, who has plans to start buying a regular lotto ticket.

The Speed of Light

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

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The clock is a tyrant who will stay his hand for no one,
not even you, whose smile should stop time
as it stops this heart of mine.

Each day flies faster than the last,
mornings blur too soon to evening,
every minute closer to the day you take your leaving.

I wish for moments that last a thousand years.

-Lo, mourning the impending end of maternity leave.