ARTIST. MOTHER.

It would be a lie to say that I’m not trying to piece myself back together after becoming a mother. I’m not sure where writing starts and motherhood ends. I’m writing this standing up with the laptop on top of the fridge. Nope, not anymore. Now I’m writing this at 11:33pm on the green velvet couch while everyone else is sleeping and resting. I delete my frustration, close the computer and start again the next day. Here I am again the next morning, trying, trying again, to be happy.

Why do I write? I write because something calls me to sit here and type at these keys and organize my thoughts into something other than grocery lists and the housing market. I write because I miss the woman I used to be, the artist who never envisioned herself as a mother, who didn’t have the patience to be a mother. I write because I’m trying to sew her back into my life, trying to find some way to meet with her everyday over coffee, because I miss her. Our relationship is so charged that I put it off and put it off, this meeting, and then when the time comes, I drink and eat nervously and wonder what she’ll think of me. What I’ve become.

I’m trying to make space in my life to be happy again. Happy beyond the happiness of marriage and parenting, where my patience is now monumental. I seem to have become a woman whose daily actions are those that my artist self resists. Ordered and restrained and forward thinking and mundane, really. Sacred mundane. Washing, cooking, rocking, singing, playing – not so much actually. Why don’t I play anymore? I suppose I feel too jaded to play. So sad.

So I write to start playing again. I write to carve some time for myself every day. I write to get back in touch with a part of myself I have let calcify, for fear that she might ruin everything and turn the house upside down and be too dramatic and too emotional and too unstable. The child within me. I suppose I have tried to be the grown up, to do the things that grown ups do and move on from those frivolous times. How BORING.

What do I miss about you, artist?

Where do I begin. I miss the way you walk, the way you see things. I miss the way you don’t give a damn. I miss your ideas, your dreams, your favorite foods, the black coffee you drink. I miss your fun. I miss your sense of style. I miss the way you love your lover. That look in your eye and the spark in your heart as you connect with what inspires you. What inspires you? He asked last night. All I can think of is the straight open road, and motels, and bad diner coffee, and gas stations. I want to be on the road again, throwing it all to the wind. Baby in the back or not, it doesn’t matter. She wants to read again, learn again. Turn the volume of the music up, up, up.

I’ve become more mature, that’s for sure. But maybe she has grown up too, through this whole motherhood business. She’s definitely been watching and learning right alongside me, except now she’s pretty pissed. Angry that I haven’t let her have a voice. Like a sultry teenager, I’ve been driving her away with my rules and rejection. But she is my flesh and blood, she is part of my soul. I need her! So I make her a playlist to sing her back into my house. I tell her I will listen. I promise I will pay attention when she calls me away from the sink and the kitchen sponge to be with her.

Why do I resist her like I have? I passed a street tonight called Normal Street (literally) and she sensed my desire for balance and equanimity and stability and security, but before the thought became a feeling she said ‘PFFT. Normal!?’ How BORING.’ The glittering freeways crawl like rivers of metal and we keep driving. She’s the only person I care about impressing these days, so I’ve decided to listen to her more. I like her. If I can bring some of her spark to my mothering, and some of my salt and earth mothering to her life, we might just be okay. We could live together, even work together! Baby steps.

Tonight she sits on my couch and eats an artisanal donut and vibrates with the energy of someone exciting and new. She feels she is a little more welcome here. We listen to Fiona Apple and Cass McCombs and melancholy, triumphant songs. Candles in the Rain. Dark Paradise. I feel relief just to have her in my space again. This relationship I have to her is as complex as any passionate love. It’s wonderful to discover who she is again, to hear her stories and sense who she has become while she has been away. Where has she been? I am fascinated. What will she make of today? We are learning to trust each other, two women, respecting these lives we’ve created in parallel universes, bringing our hands back together again, salty and rainy and sticky and alive.

I started this post with the words of Annie Lamott in my head – “Before I became a mother I couldn’t write if there were dishes in the sink. Then I had a child. Now I can write if there’s a corpse in the sink.” Not sure what there is in my sink right now, but learning to let go of those endless ‘shoulds’ and focus on the truth of what’s important to me in my lifetime, my body, my soul. Anyone else out there feel like they’ve been ripped in half post-partum? I miss the old me, yet respect the new me. Oh, life. 

Posted in EVERYDAYNESS, LIVING ARTIST | 1 Comment

SAVAGE LUST

It’s 80 degrees and sunny in LA and I miss New York. I miss the stinky garbage and the hot concrete on those shady streets downtown with the wisdoms scrawled into them. I miss the buzz, the other buzz that isn’t the nine lane freeway buzz and the threat of drought in the air. I miss the red brick facades and the ladders coming down off the balconies and the trumpet players in Washington Square Park.

I’ve been here six months now and I’m realizing how hard it has been to move. We had New York on our own terms. We’d come in and come out. Oh, the out and oh, the in. We loved returning to the intersection on Canal and West Broadway, spotting the rebels, the mavericks, the kooks out for their first walk in days. We loved leaving, too. I will never forget when you first took me to Pennsylvania. I fell asleep in your lap and woke up to the smell of river and grass and damp sweet heavy night as they wound down the window.

We stayed the weekend while hurricane Irene blew through, scattering leaves and twigs and felling a few trees across the canal. The air was pregnant that summer, every summer. We had coffee and pancakes and I took photographs of you in your all black long sleeve pajamas and bare feet, reading the inscriptions on your bottles of flower essences, feet on the coffee table, your face like Michelangelo.

Just a month or so later, we were back and I had a few rental houses lined up for us to look at. You picked me up from the airport and had a hot roast dinner and a rollie cigarette ready in the passenger seat. We drove through New Jersey and across the majestic Delaware in Pennsylvania and stayed at your brothers house for a long weekend. We drank Prosecco on the old porch and danced barefoot indoors.

A year later, I would walk the tow path along the canal and tell you how high the corn was growing. You were traveling, playing your music to different audiences every night, and I was traveling too, along that beaten dirt and gravel path, watching the subtle changes in the landscape, familiar with almost every tree, almost all the grasses. I would run my hands along the tops of them as they swayed in the evening breezes, the moon high above the river bed.

The next year when I miscarried, I sought solace in that forest. It was only when we mounted the hill before descending into the valley that I felt free to grieve, to enter that dark forest of grief within myself. I swam in the river a lot, at first afraid of what lived under the mud within it, and then grateful for its constant presence, its soothing cool in summertime, the green pressing all around, the wide dominance of it in winter with the shards of white ice and snow floating down it.

I hated having to burn oil to warm the house. I didn’t love the water pressure in the shower. We never found anyone we could really relate to out there, no one really like us. But god did I love it there. I didn’t want to leave. Not one bit. I still don’t. But I have. I have left and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I was pregnant there, walked the deep snow with my heavy belly and heard only my breath and my footsteps in that snowy cover. I loved the deer and the safety I felt. Always safe, always welcomed.

Snow Canal II watercolor/paper by B.F. Postel

Julius was born at 919 River Road. I was born, too. I think part of me is still embedded in the floor boards there where my first born burst out of me. I left her there. Maybe she will never leave. It is her house as much as anyone else. Will we return one day? I don’t know. Will we truck all of our belongings across country again? God that was an effort. But in this moment now, I fantasize about it, about moving back to New York, back to that house where I was born.

I always wanted my children to have that forest, those animals. I sense we will return someday, I’m not sure when it will be. Maybe in our old age, maybe in a few years. A sense of belonging. I’d love to feel that. That wild city, those gentle hills. They will be with me forever. Until my reunion (or a resolution) it’s you and me California, you and me.

Posted in EVERYDAYNESS | Leave a comment

HELICOPTERS AND PEPPERCORNS

As the vibrato chop of the helicopter rushes over our night-drenched house, I remember. I remember the dusty trails and the peppercorn boughs. Little dangling trinkets in the sun. I remember how the oil drills filled the space between the horizon and me, and how I turned away. My son dropped his wide little knees to the dirt and put rocks in his mouth. I pull them out but don’t care too much. “This way,” I tell him, “this way.”

It’s hot and dry, and I am so very thirsty. I remember what it felt like to give priority to this flowing. This trickle which when I let it turns into a gushing river. I remembered today, as I walked that eucalypt mountain, the wilder girl in me who doesn’t bother with the time of night, the provenance of the menu, the state of the floors. Now with my son, my precious darling son in my life, I am encouraged yet again to break free of my self.

It’s a sacred thing, this receiving, this offering. I’m seeing how very vital this creating is. I had forgotten that with this giving, we find each other. We become closer to the heart of ourselves and our humanity. It’s all I seem to write about these days, but that’s okay. From the moment my eyes open in the morning, I am in a constant state of doing. Wash this, boil that, rinse that, cook that, strip this, clothe, wipe, nurse, respond to this, wash that, cook that, clean that, and so on and so on it goes and goes and goes.

You can’t imagine (mothers you may) how refreshing it is to just sit here at 12:19am after all has been said and done, and just write. Let it all drop off the edges of my fingertips. My eyes are so tired and my back aches from carrying my son up a mountain today, but I don’t care. This is my church. I am listening. I am here.

It’s been a long time coming, this trickling back. I know some part of me shut down when I experienced a miscarriage seven weeks into my first pregnancy. In that frenzy with all the ambulances and tears and ginger movements, I lost my courage to give. But something is changing in me. I am gathering the magic again. Slowly I am walking the trails, looking back through the shadows, the forests of trees, and I am seeing myself in it all again. I am participating in this sacred river again. There is more to life than meets the eye, I know it. I feel it. I remember it.

They breathe deeply next to me and I feel so content. I don’t need much. Just a few minutes to swim in this sun river, this beloved dance. Can you remember what it was like, my soul? What it was like to be so incredibly YOU? Let’s go back there again. I will take you. Hold my hand. Don’t let go! Until next time – my eyes are open and my pen is poised. Bring it on, magic, oh yes bring it on.

Posted in RAPTURE | Leave a comment

THIS FAMED RIVER

It’s 12:37pm on a Thursday afternoon and I am a hot pulpy mess of relief and recognition reading Mama, Bare which arrived in the mail this morning. My husband opened the package and I handed him a cup of tea before holding it in my hands. Just the image on the cover sent a strange warmth over me. I had to sit down to let it rinse my heart further.

And then I couldn’t get up. Reading these stories of motherhood – of mothers bare, of women who have gone through what I’ve gone through, who are going through it now with me, who understand and articulate the wild land that one enters upon becoming a mother – my heart is carved open and strange animals are falling out.

As I push deeper into my twenty ninth year on this planet, as Saturn swells overhead and the days open and close, I am seeing more of myself: my San Andreas fault; the piles of gold within me, guarded by some jealous dragon. I am seeing who I was before, who I am now, and who I might become. The path is filled with danger and delight in equal measure. Every moment requires total focus.

Motherhood is like a famed river I had put on my itinerary. I’d heard of its curves and falls, its glory and magnificent views. Like planning a trek, I had much to prepare for. I read all the trail books – mostly just plotting geography in X’s and Y’s, a few lists of how-to’s and what-to-bring’s, and geared my mind for the adventure ahead. I was excited, giddy really. Naively so. My mother in law said to me, “Everything else is like kindergarten compared to this.”

I yearned to fling myself across that cliff. I knew I wouldn’t do it in any other area of my life. Motherhood was the one thing that would keep me committed to something much, much bigger than me. As soon as that fusion of nuclei hit my womb, I knew my old life would be over. Something in me wanted that. I think I knew what was in store, the dramatic shifts, profound changes, sudden drops, euphoric highs. This was something I couldn’t turn away from.

Julius and I, a few days postpartum

As I read Mama, Bare, I am reminded of the crippling loss (and so the incredible gift) that giving birth is. We prepare so much to meet our children, but little is spoken of the years following. I stumbled across a quote before my pregnancy which haunted me in the best way. The midwife had said that the first year of motherhood is more difficult than the birth itself. It is ‘the year of travail’, when a mother must give birth to the woman inside of her, the woman she is becoming.

It’s been a gnarly birth, that one.

Sometimes I think other mothers make it look so easy. How can it be that everything is so tidy? That their daily lives are so full of positivity and connection to the cosmic OJ? How is it that they don’t close the bedroom door and cry into their pillow or attempt a million adjustments to make that feeling go away? Maybe if I quit coffee, drank more coffee, quit sugar, treat myself, took a course, moved house, plant a garden. Maybe if I had a dog, or my own car, or different shoes, or more flowers, or a cocktail, or a new mop, maybe then I’d be happy.

Maybe if I write that book, or paint that picture, or keep everything neat and tidy and perfect, then I’ll be happy. No, mama. I’ve been going around in this circle for a long time, and I’m finally waking up to what I am running from. Myself. Dragon, I see you, and I’m standing here on this cliff looking into your eyes, feeling your heat, sensing your claws, and I’m telling you, YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE. Like Galadriel in Battle of the Five Armies, I’m telling you, go back to the void from whence you came!!! Yeah, this is me speaking, and I’m not willing to accept you ruling my life any more.

by Robert Hunt

I know now that this lull in energy has been my strength building, so that I can face you, mighty guardian and dispel you from my kingdom. The gold here is mine to claim, and I know you don’t want to share it Dragon (EGO.) But I do. The blinding light within me must be released. My own light is scorching me, and your claws have scratched at my heart long enough.

Oh yes, of course I have loved you. It has been a sordid and secret love affair, really. We had our fun, and you have served your purpose – protected my greatest gifts and kept our treasure well hidden. But where do we go from here? It’s really time you moved on.

Who am I without you? I don’t quite know yet. My son has been fending you off for months. Maybe we can live this road together somehow. Just like the little girl within me who I cradle in my arms, the one who was terrified of being left in the dark. Maybe you can live in here too with the girl who starved and denied herself, who slowly learned to love her body and whose shoulders I sling my arms around every day. Perhaps you, shadow, you can live in here too.

Maybe you’re not as scary as I thought you were. Maybe your anger is a wound. Maybe you need me to tend to your wound, to place my hands on your beating heart, and hold you close to my own. Oh great cliff, great river, great Love. You have changed me forever. This journey is no simple walk. I’ve never known my strength to be so great. I’ve become so familiar with your velvet cloak. All the better to see you with, my soul, all the better to see you with.

Posted in OH, LOVE, RAPTURE | Leave a comment

WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE

This one caught in my throat and makes my heart thump. God I love it.

Women of a certain age are waking up
in the middle of things – birth & death feel
blessedly far away – the raw edge of real
departure & arrival a distant memory –
days fleeting in restful harmony like leaves
seen through a window, drifting with all
the others until they are reimagined
again by light, time & rain. Women
of a certain age are waking to the sound
of their breathing which through the long dark
hours has frightened them. In their worry
to light up a few inches of the universe,
a fraction of the infinite, however minute,
they are waking before dawn to witness
a victory of light, the capture of every single
trench of shadow. The dawn will be theirs
to hold a little while – its lightness –
they will forget some of what they have
experienced & remember what they were
born with, including that which is too early
to remember. Women of a certain age – loving
this lightness – are rolling onto their sides,
rising out of their beds & out of their bodies,
imagining themselves free of the earth
& its drive to replace them, they are speeding
like comets over the edge of the universe,
falling & flying out of the familiar,
plummeting into the unknown to arrive
at a new hospitable household, having slipped
away without goodbyes only smoke as they burn –
bluer and bluer – on the last drop of fuel
found only in the bodies of women of a certain age.

– Bronwyn Lea

Posted in EVERYDAYNESS | Leave a comment

THE WHOLE NET TIGHTENS

I know what I need to do, what I have been missing. Why I have been so sad. I haven’t been breathing. I haven’t been present. I’m rushing through the chores of the day trying to get somewhere, attain something. But when I’m on my knees scrubbing the floor in the kitchen I ask myself, for what do you want to be remembered by? And then my throat catches and my heart catches and the whole net tightens. I have forgotten my gift. I didn’t think I was allowed it.  Let me go there.

Forget all the to-dos, all the posturing and pretending and trying to make it work. Let yourself feel it. I want to be (myself) an author, a writer, to be known as such and appreciated as such. I’m so many things, and yet nothing but this. I was born with this gift, born with this ability to see what I love and put it into words, capture it, a box full of memories, books full of time, frozen. Page upon page of this excruciatingly beautiful, desperate, heart-breaking dream called life.

I’m finding my way back, through the hustle and bustle of other people’s dreams, the glittering distractions and the mud caked ones too. I’m slowing down. I know when I’m flat and bored and clutching at straws, that I need to go back. I need to return to my love, this love. Oh I have created so many distractions from it. Gatherings and cookings and parentings and meetings and cleanings and studyings. All I need to do is sit here and type.

My heart. I am here. (And then I read all your comments on my previous post and I’m sobbing hot tears of gratitude and relief. How did I ever leave this, this work, this play?)

Because I let other people’s expectations roll over me. I let my yearning for partnership take me over. I focused my lens on manifesting all that I had dreamt of, and I’ve arrived. I have made it. I am here. Now what? Oh yes, that thing you love to do but never make time for? That thing that has fallen to the bottom of the laundry basket? Oh, that thing, that beloved thing. Each day passes and I wonder what I could have done better. I’m filling the bath again and thinking, wasn’t I just here a moment ago, filling the bath at the end of a day? What did I do today that fed my soul? Why am I so hungry?

Time is passing, and I’m kidding myself that there are other things I’d rather be doing. For year’s I’ve pushed this gift aside and focused on developing some other skills. As if I didn’t want this gift, as if it wasn’t mine.

It is time. Time to reclaim this worn tome, this thumb-rubbed blanket that I used to sleep with, dream with, cuddle up and love with. This gift of mine. I’m opening the box where I stored you and it’s as if I see you with new eyes. How did I ever live without you? How much I have to tell you. Let us begin again. My heart, my soul, my only. I’m home. Now what? Words, more words! I will dance with you, and love you back to life.

Posted in LIVING ARTIST | 4 Comments

TWENTY

It’s early on a Friday evening and I just put the baby down. In the past my night might have been just beginning. I came across a friend’s tumblr page in the dark of the bedroom (aptly named Time Bomb Baby) and was catapulted into memories of the past. This year marks my twenty ninth rotation around the sun, and I am suddenly nostalgic. A decade of wild memories, sweet memories, hard memories, green and rough and candlelit memories. Suddenly this last decade – it ends in six months, has a soundtrack and a photo album and feelings and salty tears and the memory of freedom.

“At fifteen you had the radiance of early morning, at twenty you will begin to have the melancholy brilliance of the moon.” – Fitzgerald 

What do I do with these whispers, these achingly beautiful memories? They open up like reverse origami in my consciousness and I wonder where on earth they get tucked away all these days. I particularly remember a time when I found myself torn between two gentlemen, one older, grounded, steady and calm, the other effervescent, ebullient, romantic, a bit crazy (the best kind of crazy) steeped in French culture, literature, cinema. I remember the milkshakes and the cake on the balcony and the bare feet and the hearts breaking in Cape May and the denim shorts and furious writing, writing, writing.

I remember the arriving in Australia and arriving in New York and leaving Los Angeles. I remember the arguments and the hidden truths and the hats. Oh, the hats. And the rolled cigarettes. The way we could stop everything and just sit outside, our muse the moon, and smoke. The space I had in my mind then to think about scenes we had just written, and stories we were moulding. I am recognizing now a part of myself I had shelved as I entered this process of becoming mama. I am recognizing a true part of my self. I saw it wave at me when I drove past Sony Studios near our new home two days ago. I saw it on the side of a passenger van waiting there printed with the characters of a film I enjoyed, reminding me of my storytelling love. Me.

“There is no reality in the absence of observation.” – The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

It is me I’m remembering, me I am missing. I see reflections of myself in the most intriguing places. It is comforting to find oneself again. I don’t want to stop writing. I don’t want to stop putting down these thoughts and feelings and memories and the mysteries I adore. I thought I might drop this ‘pastime’ for a while, see what happened. And I’m realizing that this is my breath. This is breathing for me. An optometrist asked me recently if I had a family history of glaucoma. Apparently my optic nerve is deeper than normal. If it gets any deeper, I may one day go blind. That woke me up. I realize that if I did ever go blind, I would want to have someone read to me my life’s work, these words that try to get at something I have lived.

So, this is where I am. Behind the memories of the last few years are the memories of the years before them and the years before them, as if it were a bookshelf of old tomes I’d forgotten to look at. Dusty. But full. You open a wormhole and the floodgates unfold. Stay with me words.  I don’t know who reads this blog; I lost my Google Analytics account years ago, and part of me doesn’t want to know. Some things I don’t want to do for the sake of branding or business or social media. I just want to write. I just want to feel what it feels like when I let it pour out like this. In the leafy night, in the nebula of nostalgia, unfurling through my fingers from these hallways, these milk white moonlit roads, they lead me back to myself. And I am happy for it. These words are me. This is my breath. This is life. This is me.

“No matter what, nobody can take away the dances you’ve already had.” – Gabriel Garcia Márquez

Posted in LIVING ARTIST | 6 Comments

BLUE SPANGLED SKY

How do I begin? It feels like a long time since I’ve sat still here battering away at the keyboard to put down some words. It has been a long time. I have almost forgotten who I am. (This could be a blessing.) Today Isaac and I dropped Julius off at his uncle and aunt’s house before driving to Venice beach. Coins in the meter, tired legs through the sand. We walked to the ocean and walked walked walked along the tide. We have not stopped. I said, do you want to stop here with me. As we lay on the coast and looked at the blue spangled sky I remembered what it’s all about.

A helicopter shot across the sea towards Topanga and we marveled, how quickly the metal flies, how many dreams the humans have. How clunky compared to the flight of a bird or design of a dolphin, flower, heart. We have strived so much to understand this matter of matter, to know ourselves and each other in relation to form, to the limitations and structures we find ourselves in and outside of. I choked on my tears as I realized how deeply I have missed the simplicity of sitting in wonder as the world goes by. Reflecting, ruminating, allowing it in.

It’s so easy to forget the magic when one keeps doing doing doing. I promise to change this now. The mundane can be glorious.  I know I’ve had the blinkers on, trying to get somewhere, when really there will always be lists upon lists upon errands upon chores to do, and the doors to the netherworlds will stay closed until I open them. In the world of form I forget those doors. I do not want to. Fling open the flimsy gates! Enter them!

As the days come to a close, I put away my sons scattered toys and reflect on the day – was this a day that I enjoyed? Am I grateful for my experiences in their entirety? What would I change? How would I do things differently? What did not work? How could I improve? I enjoy this reflection, this pause, this door of perception. Dancing in the worlds between worlds we are, and then we put the coins in the meter and push the buttons and bang the keyboard and it starts all over again. Dance dance dance.

Posted in EVERYDAYNESS | 2 Comments

WHY DO WE WRITE?

Why do we write? Reposting this because I need to remember, again and again. 

Orhan Pamuk: “I write because I have an innate need to write! I write because I can’t do normal work like other people. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. [...] I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can partake in real life only by changing it.’

“I write because I want others, all of us, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live. I write because I love the smell of paper, pen and ink. I write because I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. I write because it is a habit, a passion. I write because I am afraid of being forgotten.’

“I write because I like the glory and interest that writing brings. I write to be alone. Perhaps I write because I hope to understand why I am so very, very angry at all of you. I write because I like to be read. I write because once I have begun a novel, an essay, a page, I want to finish it.’

“I write because everyone expects me to write. I write because I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries. I write because it is exciting to turn all of life’s beauties and riches into words. I write not to tell a story, but to compose a story. I write because I wish to escape from the foreboding that there is a place I must go but – just as in a dream – I can’t quite get there. I write to be happy.”

- Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2006 (excerpt from The Australian Financial Review Friday Dec 16 2006)

Posted in EVERYDAYNESS | Leave a comment

COME TOGETHER

Isaac and I have been slowly building a community. Thirteen events later we are more inspired than ever.

Come join us!

More here: SALON // NYC // LA

Next gathering = INNOVATE

 

 

Posted in EVERYDAYNESS | Leave a comment
  • Sections

  • Archives