Hello, Old Friend

Well, it’s been almost a year since I’ve written.  Without meaning to, I left quite the cliffhanger, huh?

You know what?  Things got better.

Marriage got stronger.  Love went deeper.  Than I could’ve imagined.  And then through and beyond…

Writing probably got worse.  I’m willing to live with that.

Trying to have a baby.  Been trying for 8 months.

Who knew it was so hard?

I love you all.  So much.



Here’s a conversation my sister’s brother-in-law (to be) had with his son in the car after picking him up from a friend’s house and on the way to swimming lessons.  Please enjoy.  I did.


Ingmar: Do you know about the underworld that’s real?

Mark: I’m not sure that I do. What do you know about it?

Ingmar: It’s really real. There’s a really big cave that’s really spooky and there are these big tunnels that go to the cave. If you dig really far down into the ground you can get into the tunnels and get to the underworld.

Mark: Is this something you were talking about with someone at school? How do you know about this?

Ingmar: I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I just know about it. You can get into the tunnels if you dig at a graveyard. Like a really spooky graveyard. The tunnels come up to all the graveyard. Do you know what’s in the underworld?

Mark: I don’t think I do. Can you tell me?

Ingmar: There are tons of skeletons all over the place and there are bats flying all over the place. And there are lots of tarantulas making webs.

Mark: Wow, that’s really interesting. I didn’t know about that.

(Some time passes; they talk about something else for a few minutes.)

Ingmar: I’m really lucky because I’ve had a bunch of dreams that have actually come true.

Mark: Really? That’s really cool. Like what is a dream that you’ve had that’s come true?

Ingmar: Like the underworld. I had a dream about it and it’s really real.

Mark: Ah, I see. So how did you decide that the underworld is really real?

Ingmar: I didn’t decide that it’s real.

Mark: Oh, right. I mean how did you come to realize that the underworld is really real?

Ingmar: I didn’t come to realize it. I just know it. I know it because I touched it with my mind.

Mark: Did you say you touched it with your hand?

Ingmar: NO. I touched it with my mind. I touched a really spooky tunnel with my mind. And I touched the actual underworld with my mind too. I could feel lots of bats flying around. And I could feel that there were tarantulas. And I think there were werewolves, and they were yowling. There were lots of ghosts there too. I could feel it with my mind.

Mark: (thinking about The Omen and wanting to change the subject) Wow, that’s really interesting. What other dreams have you had that have come true?

Ingmar: When I was a really little baby and I was still in Mama’s belly I had a dream that I came out. And then I did.


For the record, I am inexcusably sunburned. I have pronounced and unsightly burn lines, which I have heretofore been trying to avoid by working in the yard wearing a tubetop (i.e., a tanktop, minus the straps, folded under and tucked into my bra).

And I am not a tubetop person, people.

My sister is getting married in July, and I was thinking of her photos (mostly) and how last year, by this time, I had cultivated a pretty intense tanline/outline of my favorite green performance top.  Which was fine, so long as I was wearing my favorite green performance top.

In everything else, I looked silly.  And vaguely athletic.  And I’ve noticed I have an aversion to looking vaguely athletic.  Why, I don’t know.  Perhaps it’s due to my first college roommate.  She was a swimmer.  She employed very little facial expression, traveled in a pack of similarly expressionless, broad-shouldered women, and owned a giant Phantom of the Opera poster.

The sunburn is worth it, though, because I have a garden:

A real, live garden:

And I did it all myself! (Or mostly by myself.)  I did have some fantastic help from my incessantly interesting neighbor J.   Somehow, I’d managed to live next door to him for 2 years without knowing that he spoke Arabic fluently/spent a year in Egypt/briefly dated a woman with diagnosed multiple personalities/grew up wanting to be an archaeologist.

PLUS he gave me two bags of mulch, planted a sunflower privacy fence, helped me corral the chickens with dried worms after a free ranging fail, and brought me marigolds to keep the cutworms away from my tomato plant.

In case you’ve forgotten, the garden used to look like this:

Now, it looks like this:


For so long, we let the garden go.  I tried not to feel too badly about that, but it was hard to accept as necessary neglect that was so ugly and obvious.

But there were other weeds that needed pulling then.  Less unsightly but just as dangerous.

Anyway, garden.  GAR-DEN.

I saw three giant swallowtails in the yard today.  And there aren’t even blooms yet!

I love this time of year.  Take that, sunburn!

On Aversion Therapy

Oh boy, I did a number on myself last night. I think I slept exactly two hours. And clenched six.

I was accidentally scheduled incorrectly for the month of April, and I managed to convince myself (because I am a Master Self-Convincer) that a) this was somehow my fault b) the powers that be were going to dock my hours rather than correct the issue and c) this would hurt my chances of getting promoted and/or ever teaching a public class.

Mostly, though, I was afraid my boss might be upset with me. Or even worse, that she might be (gulp) disappointed.

I am deathly afraid of these two scenarios. I expend a lot of energy avoiding them by any means necessary. Mostly, this means I work too hard and for too many hours, take on too many tasks, and generally say yes to things without regard for my personal life.

B joked this morning that there should be aversion therapy for people like me. (He’s been watching too many episodes of “Obsessed, obviously.) I’m not so sure about that.

I was selected to participate in something like aversion therapy for arachnophobia in college. Gotta love Intro to Psych. (In retrospect, I probably should have paid more attention to the slight predominance of spider-related questioning in the profiles we were forced to complete on the first day.)

First, I had to enter a room containing an aquarium containing a spider. Then, I had to approach the aquarium. Then, I had to peer into the aquarium. Then, I had to peer into the aquarium sans lid.

Next, I had to put my hand in the aquarium. Then, I was asked to touch the spider with the eraser end of a pencil. Then, touch with a glove. Then, with a bare hand.

Finally, I had to hold the spider (a tarantula) in my hand, allowing it to crawl up my arm. I still remember the sickening weight of it in my palm.

Can you imagine this sort of treatment for the fear of disappointing people?

First, you must enter and exit a room filled with people you’ve recently disappointed (or fear you’ve disappointed).

Next, you must enter a room filled with people you’ve recently disappointed and remain for two minutes.

Next, you must enter a room filled with PYRDOFYD, remain for two minutes, and make sustained eye contact for a period of no less than 5 seconds.

Then, you must enter a room filled with PYRDOFYD, remain for at least five minutes, and attempt to engage someone in superficial chatter.

Next, you must enter a room filled with PYRDOFYD, remain for at least ten minutes, and attempt to engage someone in meaningful conversation about something other than the fact that you fear you’ve disappointed them.


For the record, I’m still afraid of spiders.

A Belated Birthday

Today, I cry for my dad.

He turned 62. Yesterday. I didn’t think of him once. I completely forgot. The day passed without incident.

And then I remembered again, watching someone else’s dad on television with B this evening. And I cried.

I don’t know. It isn’t as if his absence is new. It isn’t as if other birthdays haven’t passed unacknowledged over the years. I simply thought of my father, growing older, estranged from all his children, and cried.

My mother said she had a box of photographs of my childhood: family vacations, slumber parties (I imagine). She said I should come home and go through the pictures. She said I should see them.

“There are some of you and your dad,” she said. “I think you would like them.”

I wonder.

I catch myself hoping for/dreading albums full of smiles and laughter and big, loving arms around little shoulders. It would be nice to feel a fondness I can’t remember. Then again, I can’t remember. So seeing would be a mixed blessing.

Anyway, my dad is 62 and a day today. Blessings to you dad, wherever you are (surrounded by farmland and big, white dogs and goats, I hope).

Hatch an elaborate plan to adhere to an Ayurvedic diet involving lots of cooking utensils and complex preparation techniques you don’t currently have/know. Send a fair amount of time fretting over this before springing to action. Like, several weeks. Reread the book that inspired you, making sure to dogear pages, but again, take no action whatsoever.

Tell partner about plan. Feel authentic confusion regarding his disinterest.

Make your shopping list. This should take at least three hours.

Drive to Whole Foods. Forget your wallet. Drive home. Realize wallet is in the car after all. Drive back to Whole Foods, this time in rush hour traffic.

Spend about 10 minutes debating between mung beans and sprouted mung beans. Spend another 10 minutes debating between brown rice and sprouted brown rice. Spend a final 10 minutes overwhelmed by the incredible variety of chiles available for purchase. Buy kale.

(When in doubt, always buy kale.)

At register, buy chocolate (which is decidedly not part of the encroaching Ayurvedic overhaul).

Realize you have forgotten reusable bags in the car. Overapologize to salesclerk for forgetting. Chastise yourself for making such a big deal over something so insignificant as you walk briskly to the car to get reusable bags. Arrive at car and realize reusable bags are in partner’s trunk, not yours.

Walk briskly back to Whole Foods, chastising yourself for forgetting bags, for making such a big deal over something so insignificant, and for just being you, generally.

Overapologize to salesclerk. Again.

Drive home with groceries, again in rush hour traffic.

Put groceries away, without incident.

Open cookbook and select a dahl appropriate for the season and you and your partner’s dosha. Because you and your partner have different doshas, this should require some additional internet research, and should take at least an hour.

Realize that in order to make dahl, mung beans must be soaked overnight. Decide to soak the beans that night and serve dahl the next night at dinner.

Forget to soak beans overnight.

Remember the beans in the morning, assume it will be sufficient to soak them all day, and put them in water at approximately 10:00 A.M. before leaving for work. Feel pleased with self for remembering at all.

Tell friend at work about your Ayurvedic aspirations, specifically, your plan to make dahl. Try to remain upbeat as she informs you that beans must be soaked at least 12 hours.

Arrive home from work. Spend several minutes actually entertaining the thought of dining after midnight.

Look through cookbook for other (faster) menu options. There are none, of course. This is an Ayurvedic cookbook.

Realize you have wasted the afternoon and it is time for your partner to arrive home from work.

Order takeout.

Forget about soaking beans.

Remember soaking beans the following day, but forget about them again. Do this several times.

Find (and thus remember) soaking beans as you are cleaning the kitchen exactly one week later. At this point, they will be decidedly unusable and they will smell.

Dump expensive Whole Foods beans in garbage, muttering something like, “Stupid expensive Whole Foods beans.”

Fill the pot with another round of mung beans and water. Set on stove to soak overnight.


A Challenge

Okay, so I’m going to pass on one of my homework assignments from training this week.  (No, I’m not going to suggest you review the law of sidebending and rotation, although it is fascinating).

Every time you catch yourself talking to yourself this week, refer to yourself as “Sweetheart.”

Or something like sweetheart.  Personally, I find sweetheart (and all variations thereof) condescending.  I associate it with passive-aggressive people who work in retail.  So I went with Honeybun, which is one of B’s many terms of endearment (and one of few fit to print, I might add) and which I may or may not use with abandon when I’m feeling super safe and in touch with my inner Texan.

Anyway, cut to this morning, in traffic.

I have overslept.  I am threatening to be late.  John Aielli is playing back-to-back versions of Mack the Knife (or maybe that was the morning before).  I inhale, preparing to launch into an inaudible tirade against myself, something about how lazy and irresponsible and flaky and unprepared and stupid I am, something about how this always happens, how I always end up frantic and rushing around, how I should get it together and grow up, already.

Except I did happen to pause before beginning, and in this pause I sighed and began with the word honeybun.

And I cried most of the rest of the way to work.  Because I felt what it would be like to love myself the way B loves me: frantic tardiness and all.

I know it sounds simplistic.  Do it anyway.  Use a word you use to talk to pets and babies. (Side note: we should love ourselves the way we love pets and babies.)

Nobody needs to know you are doing this.

Report back to me in three days.