Monday, October 15, 2012
Monday, July 16, 2012
Monday, July 9, 2012
The paved walkway weaved through and around the retirement community. I strolled idly along it in my husband’s oversized hoodie, feeling lighter with each breath of fresh sea air that washed through me. The breeze and the sun played a bantering game with my senses, both cooling me and kissing my exposed skin with warmth and light.
Retirees sat in their well-kept houses and watched me warily as I strolled past their back doors. I admired their perfect lawns and blossoming flowers, but resisted the urge to scoop them up and smell them. Retiree lawn flowers are not for touching.
After some time the pavement ended and the groomed landscape stopped. I bent beneath some low-hanging branches and stepped onto a muddy, primitive pathway, perhaps once blazed by deer or an early modern explorer, or both. I imagined the spirit of the deer and the noble trail blazer walking with me, encouraging me to pick all the wild viney flowers I saw and hold them to my nose. So I did. Fallen logs, red with rain, replaced well-kept lawns. The music of bumblebees drowned out distant stereos.
The world of the retirement community was far behind me, or was it far ahead, in the unimaginable 21st century? And me and my deer ghost and ancient explorer discovered a clearing at the end of our trail where the sun illuminated patches of long grass and scattered raspberry bushes. I took some berries for myself and left some for the bumblebees, then left my forest glen and explorer friend and deer ghost and stepped back on to the pavement.
The retirees with their coffee and TVs eyed me skeptically again as I walked back past each of their homes, and I smiled at them through their screen doors and popped raspberries in my mouth. I was giddy with adventure. And I vowed to never grow so used to any place that I don’t see the magic in my own backyard.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
|My little sickie bug (pictured left.)|
P.S. We are dogsitting the cutest little punkin on the planet. More soon!
Friday, June 29, 2012
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Tasha.
She eats duck food. (Not to be confused with eating ducks as food.)
She’s absolutely the most difficult moving object to photograph in the world. (This was perhaps my 37th try.)
Sometimes she just rolls around in the grass for no good reason.
And when she falls asleep next to me in my parents’ farm truck snuggled up to an old leather glove my heart absolutely melts.
Sigh. They grow up so fast.
Monday, June 25, 2012
I was standing outside the port-o-potty at a gas station in Washington. Another woman stood there too, freshening up while she waited for her friend to come out. Her red lipstick was fresh, but she still had to have a glance at herself in her small compact mirror before applying some citrus-scented lotion to her hands and looking up at me.
“What cute shoes!” she exclaimed. I looked down at my feet. One of my socks hung loosely over the side of one of my shoes. The other had awkwardly slipped under my feet. “Thanks,” I muttered. “I got them at Payless.” It was an embarrassing thing to say to the woman who was putting her shiny compact mirror back into her Louis Vuitton purse, who couldn’t possibly also be on a road trip at this road-trip only pit stop. I hadn’t anticipated people actually looking at me today. I make it a point to look grungy and sweaty and miserable on long drives like this one.
She looked up at me, then looked back down at my shoes as her friend was emerging from the port-o-potty. “Phoebe, look at those shoes. Aren’t they cute? And she got them at Payless!” Phoebe’s lipstick was pink. She nodded in the affirmative, handed me my port-o-potty key, and I escaped into the restroom.
Here I looked into the mirror and learned two things:
1. I was still wearing the husband’s aviator sunglasses, which make me look uncannily like a man.
2. There were White Cheddar Popcorn crumbs covering my entire person like chronic dandruff.
3. There was bird poop on my shirt. Rather, there was a giant glop of chocolate vanilla ice cream that had dripped upon me two hours earlier without my noticing that looked rather like I had been caught in the unfortunate path of a winged creature with indigestion.
I rinsed my shirt off in the sink and stood awkwardly beneath the hand dryer to make my chest look less soaking wet, grateful the entire time that the only key to this little space was in my possession. It was only moments, however, before the next perfectly put together woman on a road trip was knocking on the door to see if it was occupied. So I had to hurry things along and walk out with a rather large wet spot on one side of my chest. I handed the woman my key and hurried away before she commented on my shoes.
|My Payless shoes on a non-road trip day.|
Serious road tripping/camping/summering details to COME!
Friday, June 8, 2012
|This isn't even the duck I fed. I forgot my camera card today so stole this duck from the Internets.|
Monday, June 4, 2012
The little robin does a dance around a small spot on the grass in the park, darting its head around suspiciously, then shoots its head down and comes up with something alive and wriggly. It sees me watching and hops further away, maintaining a safe distance between human and worm. Ambitious; proud; polished; that’s what he is. And I take my eyes off the bird and look down at my blank sheet of notebook paper and wish I could dive in head first and pull living, breathing, wriggly words out of the raw soil, fueling myself with the energy to fly off and get more inspiration. But the bird finishes his meal and leaves the ground without me, and I remain here in the park with a full pen and an empty page.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
|Good morning, indeed.|
Saturday, May 5, 2012
It started with a dream.
I saw the blood and tried to scream, but my voice died with my unborn child, a curly-haired barefoot little girl that danced away into a vast nothingness, looking over her shoulder to grin at me just once before disappearing completely.
But it was only a dream. I woke up and snuggled closer to my curly-haired, barefoot man. In the morning I told him. “Lucky thing,” he said. “It was only a dream.”
But it was more than a dream. Later that morning there was real blood. Real pain. All that was missing was that ghostly, curly-haired little girl.
I drove around the block before calling the midwife office to confirm that what was happening to me was what I thought it was. I was brave on the phone, but when I hung up I sat on the far end of a large parking lot and cried. My curly-haired man left work. I came home to him with puffy eyes and a heavy heart and he held me and let me cry some more.
I wanted to always remember the tear-jerking combination of physical and emotional pain. I wanted to remember what it felt like to close my eyes and try to ignore the reality, but knowing it was impossible, because behind my eyelids were images of so many things that could have been. That were so close to being. So instead I just counted: “1, 2, 3, 4…” until the pain passed. And then, for another moment, at least, I could breathe.
I wanted to remember how much it meant when somebody understood. When they just let me talk and nodded and touched my arm and put their hands to their mouths, wide-eyed, at just the right times. I wanted to remember the hurt and anger I felt when people ignored it or brushed it off with the increasingly cliché statement, “Everything happens for a reason.” I wanted to remember the sinking hope that I was wrong, that everybody was wrong, and that I would wake up the next morning and it really would only be a dream.
I held on to the memory of crying into my pillow, then forcing myself out of bed, then crying into the stream of a burning hot shower, willing it to cleanse me into an older version of myself – a happier, more naïve version; the version that wanted to wait until we’d done everything before we even considered the possibility of a curly-haired, barefoot little person.
I wanted to remember the number of ways I found to blame myself: That processed chicken salad. My trips to the rock climbing gym. Tickle fights with the curly-haired man. Not making myself healthier before we dove blindly and recklessly into a decision we knew almost nothing about.
I hated myself for wanting to remember. But I couldn’t help it. And in my eagerness to remember every part of my shattered dream, I tried to forget just one.
This part happened as I shivered in my car in that empty parking lot, feeling cold and lonely, sobbing loudly for no one to hear. “Why?” I cried at my dashboard, at my steering wheel, and then at God. And then one of them answered me with a thought: “You need this experience. For someone else.” And I told the thought to go away, to leave me alone with my pain, and it did.
But it came back later, when I was able to help someone else. It came back when I thought of the day I might really have a curly-haired little girl who really grows up and might really experience the same thing herself. And now I know why I tried so hard to remember. If I can tuck these memories away someplace safe deep inside me, I can pull them back out when someone I love needs them. I’ll show that someone that I remember. That I understand.
And knowing this helps me move forward.
My dreams get better all the time.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
1. They’re basically all I talk about anymore. Example: (Person): “What’s new with you guys?” (Me): “My garden is growing! Things are coming out of the dirt!” (Person): “Cool. Anything else?” (Me): “Beet sprouts are PURPLE!”
2. I sing to them sometimes.
3. I check on them every half hour when I’m at home. I swear that’s how long it takes for them to stretch their little leafy arms up a little further in an effort to give the sun a big hug.
4. I drew a picture of them. I couldn’t help it.
5. I get excited when I see their little bums popping out of the dirt. “This one’s coming!” I call out to Kendon, then turn to my little sprout. “Come on, little guy, you’re almost there!” And I think it hears me. And I feel giddy.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Geography test Tuesday. I’ll write that in my planner. Later.
We stayed up talking until 4:30 this morning. I wonder if he made it to work on time. The way his hands feel resting on my leg while staring at me with those deep, brown eyes…
What’s the difference between political realism and constructivism? Houghton is looking at me like he wants me to volunteer a comment. I raise my hand and share an idea from Alexander Wendt. We could be together right now. We could run away to the beach for a day. I’d let his hand go up, up, up my leg…
We’re on to liberalism. The democratic peace theory. Current explorations in globalization and interdependence. We talked about politics. Movies. Us. I’m picturing us in an airport, where we sit side by side on the floor and wait for our next flight, our own agents of globalization.
The role of international law in constraining state behavior…
Last night he said I love you. Whispered it so closely it tickled my ear.
Focus. Focus. Focus….
Thursday, April 12, 2012
We met at Center Street, where I learned the event was sponsored by TOMS shoe company. I removed my shoes and had the TOMS logo painted on my face, and we all began to rally with our signs down University Avenue.
And by “we all” I mean…. Well, all seven of us. Seven of us women in our 20’s. We got some attention, but not because people were fascinated by our cause. Cars of student-age boys continuously flipped U-turns and honked at us throughout our walk. We even got a few whistles. And I just kept walking along, waving my sign that read, “Ask me about my feet.” No one did, and if they had I don’t know what I would have told them. Because really, there were only three things I knew about my feet in that moment:
1. The bottoms of them were black.
2. They had recently stepped in something wet that may have been dog pee or maybe just spilled soda.
3. My toenails needed to be repainted and SOON.
And so during that walk with our army of seven I silently prayed that no one asked me about my feet.
At the end of our gallant march I contemplated that protest. I felt a little like I had just provided free advertising for TOMS. And I always hoped that the first time I picketed a sign somewhere, it would be for a cause I was fiercely passionate about; and I would wave my sign and yell until my voice left me and feel exhilarated and proud and collapse into bed at the end of the day with a sense of accomplishment for having contributed something great to the world. It wasn’t very much like that. I went home, washed my feet, scratched the blue silvery paint off my face, and went to bed thinking hard about how we’re almost out of milk.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I tenderly tucked them into a bed of fresh, rich-smelling soil, humming a Simon and Garfunkel lullaby and giving them a bedtime drink. I strained my ears to hear them, perhaps whispering the foresty fairy tales of their grandfathers, or asking for more water, or kicking off the blankets. I poked my head in to check on them hourly that day, hoping to see one of them peek its tiny green head out to catch a glimpse of the sun. None of them did. And then I realized there was one more thing I hadn’t done for them.
Somewhere inside of me there grows a wild jungle and a struggling vineyard. The jungle is my imagination; the vineyard is my dreams. And in between them rests the barren wasteland; the cemetery where I bury my insecurities. Occasionally I visit this in-between place to check that it remains still and desolate, for many times horrible things have grown here and tried to suck the moisture from my jungle and choke the branches in my vineyard. It’s cold here: a perfect place for burying my winter, for keeping my baby seeds away from the cold negativity that sometimes flurries into my soul.
And so, on the day I tenderly tucked in my seeds, I buried a deep, frigid grave for my fears. I buried my doubts in my abilities; my discouraging thoughts of 5,000 unfinished projects; my guilt at not being a better friend; the pain and remorse for the miscarriage I still don’t talk about.
And I carved with my finger over that grave, “Here lies winter,” and I walked away. For my seeds – for myself – I walked into a new beginning. Then the smell of blossoms and fresh soil and the taste of sunshine on my skin awakened my vineyard and my jungle into a lush frenzy of growth. And somewhere, deep beneath the surface of my garden, I swear I heard a hundred baby seeds whispering tales of springs long gone by.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
To the mother who never saw my crooked teeth or fear of grown-ups: Who raised a little boy to become the man I love more than anything; whose strength and determination is the glue that binds her family together, who has an eye for beauty and beautiful eyes, who understands what it means to grieve but knows how to jump back up; whose phone calls I look forward to and whose friendship I treasure.
To my growing family of sisters:
To the one who I truly believe my brother would be a mess without, who always brightens the room with her smile and laughter, who can rough it like a mountain woman, but who makes éclairs and greeting cards like a pâtissière at a birthday party.
To the one who shares my shoe size and my love for vintage everything, whose singing voice and soul harmonize perfectly with my brother’s, whose unique life makes for the best dinner conversations, and who has endured and loved me even when I don’t necessarily deserve it.
To my east coast sister, whose creative genius is irresistibly brag-worthy, who I’ve loved as a sister since before we met, who understands my worldviews even though the views outside our windows may never be the same, and who brightens my inbox with gifts of gifs or blogs of hedgehogs.
To my one and only sister-from-birth sister; who I truly believe is a perfect person; who would never think or hear or speak ill of one single member of God’s big imperfect family; whose genius and determination will one day help her cure cancer; and who I’ve had the privilege of watching grow from a chubby-cheeked chatterbox into a beautiful and talented 18-year-old…though her dimples haven’t changed in the least.
To my grandmothers:
To my Grandma I., who “said it like it was,” whose blunt honesty meant she loved you and whose faith never wavered; who told me stories and introduced me to raw milk and gave me memories that will make me smile forever.
To Granma T., who loves unconditionally; who is tough as nails after raising six sons; whose stories and wisdom entertained me as a child and made me a better adult; who makes the best rolls and stuffing and whose health and stamina make me confident that my children will get to know her as well as I do.
To Grandma B., whose charming demeanor matches her beautiful British accent; who has loved me like a granddaughter since the first day I stepped foot in her immaculate home, who has energy and resilience like no other woman her age, and who has shown me what true love and devotion really mean.
To my friends – my sisters – of Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, the Pacific Islands, and down the street. To all the sisters I haven’t met yet; who I may never meet, whose beauty is manifest in so many ways to the people who know you as auntie, sister, daughter, teacher, lover, friend, or "that kind stranger."
Today, ladies, I celebrate you all.
Happy Women's Day.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
|Homs, Syria - Washington Post|
Saturday, February 11, 2012
We stopped at the light on the corner of University and University. We were holding hands, as usual, and I looked up at the Riviera apartments across the street.
Then suddenly I saw myself five years ago, passing this very light, driving to see a friend at those apartments, not knowing that when I met her boyfriend a few moments later I would be meeting my future husband. Not knowing that, five years later, we would be driving home to our cozy little cottage from a Friday night date to Jason’s deli, stopped at that same light, holding hands and laughing at each other’s jokes.
Time is an interesting thing, is it not? I wonder what I’ll be remembering five years from today. I wonder what, in five years, will make me marvel yet again at how perfectly the little pieces of life put themselves together.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Being a grown-up is neat.
For example, if I want to have butterscotch pudding from the fridge before dinnertime, I can just go ahead and have it! And if I don’t especially feel like putting my dirty socks in the laundry bin, I can just fling them any which way without a single repercussion.
Sometimes the whole grown-up thing really amazes me too. Like the fact that (most weeks) we remember – out of all the grown-up things there are to remember –to take the garbage out to the road the night before garbage day. I always give Kendon a high-five when we take the garbage out to the road. It’s an activity that reminds me that I really am 25.
There are times, though, when I feel the opposite of 25. Like last night, when I really just needed to have a good cry, and my grown-up husband held me and wiped my eyes and told me everything was going to be OK. It’s nice having another grown-up in the house for times like that. And sometimes the husband needs to be a kid for a little while too, and then I get to take my turn being the Bagley house grown-up.
Being a grown-up is neat. But having someone to take care of you when you feel 10 years old is even neater.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Good morning, world.
I just woke up and discovered it’s the last day of January.
Turns out my mind has been asleep during the very time of year that everyone else’s is wide awake. At this point in the year, 2012 is still wearing a preposterously loud and colorful party hat with fake fruit and a real tropical bird on top. He’s walking around, so to speak, giving everyone high-fives for keeping their resolutions so fantastically. And everyone’s laughing right along with that good-humored 2012, because before the ink has dried on their 2012 goal lists, they really have lost ten pounds, or won a Pulitzer, or hiked the Alps by now.
For some reason, 2012 didn’t give me a high five like everyone else. It’s like he just strolled on by me, whistling distractedly, straightening his party hat to avoid looking at me. Maybe it’s because I slept through the fireworks on his birthday? And I just sort of shrugged my shoulders and played another round of Mahjong on my dumb smart phone, because playing Mahjong on your dumb smart phone is about all you can do while you’re waiting for your mind to wake up.
But never fear, world, for my mind has yawned and stretched and at last left its hibernation cave! And my mind has asked me to hereby proclaim this day as second New Year’s. We start fresh right now, my mind and I, on January 31, and I’m going to celebrate by making up a song and dreaming up a novel and deleting Mahjong from my smart phone and, of course, by writing in this lonely blog for the first time in over a month.
Happy new new year, world!
Sincerely, me and my mind