Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011/2012

New Year's Eve has always been my favorite holiday.  When I was younger, I loved it because I imagined someday spending the evening at some glitzy, sparkly, jazzy sort of Manhattan cocktail ball, wearing something glittery and black and expensive, dancing with a handsome date, champagne in hand...

Honestly, I've watched "When Harry Met Sally" more times than I can count. 

And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible. 
 
I guess I also always wanted to spend New Year's Eve in 1989.  Anyway.

So, I never went to that particular party, and I realize that this sort of unmet fantasy is exactly why so many people intensely dislike New Year's. But I have spent a New Year's Eve or two at some pretty great Los Angeles parties, handsome date at my side, champagne in hand.  Plus, these days, I'm honestly just as happy spending the evening in pajamas, watching a movie, drinking champagne from the funny frosted champagne glasses someone gave us at our wedding, the babies sleeping soundly and peacefully in the next room.

As it turns out, New Year's Eve isn't my favorite holiday because of the fantasy.  I love the holiday because it's the only time of the year that we're really encouraged to reflect on our lives: to look at every aspect, the good and bad, the accomplishments and disappointments, friends we made and friends we lost, what choices we made firmly for our own lives, and what was utterly outside of any control we could have hoped to have, perhaps taking us by surprise and changing our lives completely and irrevocably.

We remember what happened to ourselves alone, what happened in our families, our communities, and what happened to affect the whole world.  We become completely narcissistic for the moment, while also feeling completely insignificant, a speck of dust in an ocean of stars.  And then we look ahead to the coming year with a sense of awe, knowing that no matter what we plan, we have no possible way of knowing what we will be watching on all those news recaps one year from now, or if we will even be here to watch them.  And then we make plans anyway.  Because what else can we do?

And I love the holiday because, despite the fact that I live in LA, I still imagine New Year's as I did growing up - imbedded in the quiet heart of winter, blanketed in snow, the noise and color of Christmas well over.  Maybe a few twinkling lights are still strung, but January comes quietly in my mind, full of possibilities, but no promises, beckoning us forward into the unknown, asking us what we want to be and do and live.  My birthday is also in January, so I'm sure I'm sweet on the month more than most, and I love it, snow-covered or not.  January reminds me every year that I am alive, and that I can choose - for some part, anyway - how I spend that life.

I do make resolutions.  I do look at last year's resolutions.  I dream too big for the coming year even while looking wistfully at what I did not manage to accomplish over the last.  I'm an incorrigible optimist on this one night alone, year after year.  And I believe it anchors me, somehow.  We may each incorrectly count our life in years although it happens solely in moments, but I think we know our error.  So somehow, we turn the problem on its head, and once a year at least, we look back to count the moments, and for a night we live those moments as they happen, second by second, as best as we can.

Happy New Year, friends.  Being here, writing here, has helped me to live in the moments of my life more often than just once a year.  Thank you for coming along with me, and being a part of it.  All my very best to you, particularly on this incredible night that comes to meet you, wherever you are.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

featured

One of my favorite photos of Jimmy with Lena was featured on Design Mom today, and I am super excited and so, so flattered.  This was one of the last times I shot a roll of film on my old SLR, and really, some of my most loved family photos turned up on that roll.  It makes me really happy to see this one highlighted so nicely.  Thank you, Gabrielle!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

present

 I spent the first three weeks of my new, antidepressant-filtered life in hiding.  Knowing the slowly increasing schedule of doses would take time to really kick in.  Knowing I already felt markedly different.  Afraid that "different" wouldn't be good, or right.  Afraid that it wouldn't last.  Afraid of what it meant, or where it would leave me.  I took the part of my brain that spends its time living my life, that is always making decisions, consciously evaluating me - myself, my life, my mood, my responsibilities, my schedule - and tucked it into bed, covers over its head, pillow squished down around its ears.  I slept, I edited months' worth of neglected photos, I watched cheesy movies and then watched them again, I read flimsy novels on my iPhone for hours on end.

I couldn't have quite managed this without spending a couple of those weeks at my parents' home, where my mom, especially, entertained my girls and changed a hundred diapers without complaint.  Truly, I tried to take over and make her rest several times, but Grandma loves her girls, and those girls love Grandma.  And I really, really appreciated the chance to hibernate.

Because I needed it.  When I tried, a couple of times, to come out from under the covers and see what was going on, the view was disorienting.  I wasn't stressed out.  I wasn't SO WEIGHED DOWN by all the things I needed to do.  My waking hours weren't suffocating just because of all the existing that had to be done.  In fact, I didn't really care if I accomplished anything on my previously overwhelming-to-the-point-of-debilitating to-do list.  And I didn't feel like getting up off the sofa was a chore.

Liberating is a good word for it.  Terrifying is another.  I felt untethered, and untethered felt AWESOME.  So awesome, in fact, that for a few days there I had an overwhelming - completely immature, but overwhelming - desire to be completely untethered.  To cut off all responsibility and walk out the door into the world of possibilities that I could finally see was out there, and that I finally had the energy to explore.

The urge was strong, and distracting.

During a brief check-in with my doctor during those days, he said that many people going through this period feel like teenagers again, feeling energy and hope that they didn't remember having since those years.  It's a great description of how I was feeling, except that I felt like a teenager who woke up as a thirty-three-year-old mother of two with work to be done and bills to be paid.

Jarring is another word for it.

I tucked my brain back under the covers after that, and stayed down for another week or so.  The girls and I came home, and I began to peck away at my to-do list without thinking about it too much.  This time, the list didn't feel insurmountable.  It didn't even look all that difficult.  I knocked off jobs and tasks, I finished up projects, and I even somehow did it all while keeping the house clean and the laundry done.  We decorated the house for Christmas, sent off the Christmas cards, and finished up our Christmas shopping.  I visited my therapist, and told her everything good, everything scary, and everything mysterious.  She nodded her head, congratulated me, talked me through it, took me seriously, encouraged me, and gave me a hug.


That was last Friday.  And honestly, even though things have been pretty good for the last couple of weeks, I think I was still hiding then.  But on Friday I visited my therapist.  Friday was Lena's last day of preschool before winter break, and Jimmy's last day of work before hiatus.  I sent off the last files of my illustration project on Friday, the last big, urgent item on my list.  And as we walked out the door that evening and drove to Lena's preschool holiday program, I could feel myself unwinding - really unwinding - like springs had been tightly bound up inside every inch of my body for years and years - and they were uncoiling and relaxing and almost audibly releasing and then opening, softening, turning into something less like rusty metal and more akin to velvet.

I enjoyed myself at the program that night more than I've enjoyed myself at a group event in I don't know how long.  I couldn't stop smiling.  We went out to eat afterwards at a favorite diner, and took the long way home to look at Christmas lights and listen to Christmas music.  And Lena's ridiculously earnest joy at every new house's display felt like a mirror of my own joy, because I was there, I was really there and present, making memories with my family, and loving every second of it.

So this is where I am, today.  It's a new world for me, and I'm still sticking to my decision to take things slow, and see where it all goes, keeping expectations at a minimum.  But every day that comes finds me feeling less apprehensive, and more hopeful, and best of all - content.  Present.  And if everything that has come before has existed only to make me appreciate the chance to be present with my family, I'm going to have to say that it was worth it.  I feel flat-out lucky as hell.

Friday, December 16, 2011

don't forget the hot chocolate-ing

Hello, friends. I've been thinking about this space all week, and there's much that I want to share with you, particularly regarding how I'm doing now that I've been taking antidepressants for five weeks, now. But I've been busy wrapping up that illustration project (32 pieces of art in all, and my hand is killing me), and now that I've just sent off the last of the files - YAY - I've got to run off to Lena's preschool holiday program tonight. I can't wait. Preschoolers are ridiculously cute when piled together and told to sing for their parents.

Anyway, as of tonight, we are officially on Christmas break for two glorious weeks. Jimmy will be on hiatus, too, and I have sleeping, baking, wrapping, sleeping, Christmas movie watching, visiting Santa, going to church, and sleeping on the agenda. And writing. You've been so supportive of me this year, and I owe you an update.

In short, though: life is good. How are you?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tangerine Tango

Happy Friday, friends! So, I'm not a design blogger by any means, but the Pantone color of 2012 was just released, and I was surprised to see that it's a color we've already been incorporating touches of slowly into our kitchen. Normally I tend toward pale, cool colors - blues, greens, and grays - but I wanted to brighten up our kitchen, and began collecting these prints over the last year. One of them is not mine, yet, but I think it would work well with the group if I can find the wall space:


1. dear pumpernickel, orange grey bird
2. mincing mockingbird, He Thinks My Sudden and Terrifying Mood Swings Are Kinda Cute (not currently in stock, it seems.)
3. funnel cloud, zinnia lino print in aqua
4. samantha french, coming up for air
5. drkennedyjones, afterthought

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas wishlist 2011

Alright, Mom, this one is for you.

We're trying to keep it simple for Christmas around here, so I only asked Jimmy for one of two things as my gift this year. And I will be perfectly happy with that one gift, and nothing else. In fact, I had to think hard to pull this list together. But someone whom I like to describe as "incorrigible" keeps asking me for more ideas. And in any case, I thought it would be fun post my first collage. So without further ado, my Christmas wishlist:


1. West Elm mercury glass vases - because I am SO on the mercury glass bandwagon.
2. EyePoetryPhotography Tuscany print - I'm a sucker for anything in this shop, and already own several prints. Her work makes me wish we had more wall space. I know this is a photograph of Tuscany, but it also reminds me of the drive we take up north when we visit Jimmy's family on the central coast of California, and I love that drive.
3. West Elm serving platter - I have such an affinity for bowls that it turns out we're short on platters. This one is so lovely. Who's coming for dinner?
4. Lillypie Accessories ruffle ribbon flower necklace - this one is Michelle's fault, for sporting a cute cute t-shirt with flowers on it that I mistook for a necklace. I'm not complaining, though - it's too pretty!
5. Ugg Caspia boots in black leather - this right here is one of the two gifts that I asked Jimmy for. The California central coast taught me to love wearing Uggs, but they never look right on me. And then look here at the CUTE Uggs! Who knew?
6. Emma Stine Seraphine necklace - this necklace was featured in Real Simple, which is where I saw it, as did the rest of the world. I shouldn't probably post it here because it's completely sold out and discontinued, but, well, it's so pretty....I guess I'd like something like this. Do you think that's possible?
7. Harry Potter paperback boxed set - I've read them all, of course, but somehow don't own them. And they're on sale! Seriously, I'd love to have these.
8. Envirosax set in Bloom - indispensable, and pretty. We've been giving these as gifts for years, but don't have any ourselves.
9. Chungking Express on Blu-Ray - one of my favorite movies. I used to own a copy on DVD, but loaned it to a friend, who loaned it to a friend, and then moved...
10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kindle edition - Yes, I AM the last person to read this book. I usually avoid popular fiction, but the trailer for the movie looks great, and I've recently developed a habit of reading light pop fiction on my iPhone. Is this light pop fiction? Yes? No? Well, it's better than the usual Angry Birds addiction, right?
11. Buechner, Listening to Your Life, paperback - "Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace." I'm almost embarrassed to say that I don't currently own any of Buechner's books, so suffice to say that any one of them would be greedily accepted on my part.
12. White Christmas on Blu-Ray - one of my favorite Christmas movies! Every year I tell myself I should buy it, but I never do. And clearly, I neeed it. How else will I teach my girls to sing "Sisters"? Don't answer that.

Friday, December 2, 2011

home

The girls and I are flying back to Los Angeles tomorrow. We've had such a good visit, and we all hate to leave. Part of my soul is intertwined with the landscape here in ways that are hard to describe - something about the sky, the trees, the birds, the weather... And of course, most of my family is here, and it hardly needs to be said that a piece of my heart lives with them no matter where they are. But I miss Jimmy, and I miss our city. I'm ready to be back, to celebrate Christmas in our own nest for the first time, and to face the new year. So many possibilities ahead for us, I think. I'm ready.