September 21, 2010 § 4 Comments
Thunderstorms woke me last night, Z wriggled around seemingly hot and nursing more than usual. I found myself awake and listening to G and Lucy snore softly wondering if I will ever get a deep night’s sleep again. I’ve had this recurring fantasy of the first night we were in Austria in 2007. We were staying in G’s mother’s house, where she grew up — the windows were thrown open to the night air — long gauzy curtains — there was a festival in the small village and the sounds of jovial dancing and beer drinking and folk music wafting towards us — and G, W and I slept beneath the feather beds — each with our own separate one pulled over us — and I dove into sleep — the total blackness of losing consciousness — and woke up with the sun streaming into the room and its built-in wooden cabinetry, the duvet covers with bursts of orange flowers on them. Never had I slept like that before or since.
After the storms I woke up at 6:30. I hoisted Z on my hip while G showered and I made pancake batter for W’s breakfast; I handed off Z once G was finished so I could finish the pancakes. (Today is a testing day at W’s school and we’re all on pins and needles waiting to see how his reading scores fare. Just recently G and I walked around the track at the rink as W practiced talking about how to encourage him both in academics and in sports, wondering what patterns are ingrained, wondering if the die’s been cast in terms of his discipline and drive. When G comes home after a practice I’ll often ask him how W played and G will say ‘he just hasn’t got the heart’ — which is strange because W so identifies himself with the sport, the image of it . That lack of heart seems to spill over into academics as well — he poses so cynically and cool it’s easy to forget just how young he is.)
W’s been a sweetheart to me lately, leaping to join me on an errand to grab lunch, talking excitedly the entire time, offering to grab Z’s carrier when I’ve left it downstairs, initiating a good night kiss. He’s been showing off for me for quite some time — wanting me to see how many push ups he can do, how many crunches, to ‘feel his guns’ — which I try to do very solemnly without bursting into laughter and try to say “well kiddo, you’re doing a good job with hockey — now think about that same kind of time when you sit down to do your reading…”
I had a moment of clarity the other day when I was particularly annoyed with his teenage-like cynicism and one-word answers, his not making eye contact and his lack of initiative when it comes to helping at all around the house — I reminded myself just how young ten and eleven is — how much they need us, their parents — the love and attention and reassurance. I keep reminding myself to look past his mask and see how vulnerable he is.
After the boys were off to school and work I walked for an hour with Z in the carrier — I’m not sure exactly where my mind goes on these walks but I’ve been thinking alot lately about how the path I’d taken for my writing career was largely based on advice I’d received from an agent years ago now when I was at a conference in Squaw Valley — and how she’d said I should get an entire manuscript together — and so I’d been trying lo these many years — and then it occurred to me that maybe I should just query some local and University presses — and send a proposal… that’s got me chewing on things and wondering which way I should go. There’s this very real thing with writer’s block where your project can stay perfect if its unwritten — which sounds so incredibly stupid but true. I opened my scrivener program not too long ago and read the chapters I had and thought “shit, that’s not bad” and then promptly put it out of my mind and wondered whether I should buy that rug that’s on sale at Pottery barn. I’m sure my thoughts were much the same this morning with a little bit of “I hope I find someone nice at Z’s first music class ” because I was nervous about meeting new people as I always am. When I stopped drinking Jameson’s I’m afraid some of my wit, charm and social grace went with it. I used to be able to be quiet and mysterious and drink whiskey and facilitate poetry and fiction readings… Now I am just a middle aged Laura Linney doppelganger (see LL in Showtime’s ‘The Big C’ and you’ll know what I mean) with an unfinished novel.
I had a frenzied “oh my God, I actually AM capable” moment when I got home from our walk as I fed her while simultaneously deglazing a pan with dry white wine to add to the chuck roast already in the slow-cooker while watching Z in her high chair scooted up to the kitchen island as she scooped her hand directly into the oatmeal and watched as it dripped to the floor where some remnant remains, I’m sure, having turned into concrete. (Concrete globs on floor reveals me as less capable.)
I then realized that she had a diaper that needed changing, a clothes change, I NEEDED a clothes change (what would I wear — what seemed ‘me’ — answer? Black t-shirt, jeans, hair up in a clip, black clogs, same ever-present pearl earrings.) I wrangled her into the carseat without crying (by some miracle — perhaps the new carseat? It IS comfortable looking. I want to sleep in one) and arrived downtown early scoring a parking spot in the lot right next to the music center.
I sat outside on the patch of lawn and took a picture of Z and imagined the day she’d be a concert pianist and I could say ‘look, this is your first day'(okay, this is sad, but true) much of this stemming from my childhood best friend who lived downtown and whose parents were great supporters of ‘the arts’ — She started flute at the same time I did — and whereas I got kicked out of fourth grade band because the band director had his own ideas about ‘children from single parent homes’ — my friend continued on in the band and later played for the junior Orchestra and Pinchas Zukerman but her parents did make her practice for over an hour every day and she did have a framed letter from Ronald Reagan on her wall (though I’m sure her parents were Democrats having met in the Peace Corps and given her a name common for the region where they worked even though they were Norwegian as they come) and she, in the fifth grade had her heart set on being the first female president of the United States. While she fell short of that she did become a scholar focusing on a certain Danish philosopher.
Where was I? I got lost in living vicariously through my daughter. Thank god I didn’t have pageant fantasies.
Well we arrived and everyone sat around a section of flor-type carpet on a concrete floor surrounded by glass walls — and against one wall there was a beautiful Steinway. The instructor launched into a spiel that was reminiscent of the one I used to give to my students at the community college — office hours, if you’re absent, if there’s a snow-day, her voice mail etc. She then brought out a guitar and we sang a welcome song tailored to everyone’s name — there were about ten children — a few boys that were nearly two — the rest of them between twelve months and fifteen — Z clearly the youngest. She spent much of the class on my lap and crawling a bit into the circle — but the other kids were mostly walking and so she just took it all in — it should be interesting. The one woman I was chatting up next to and getting on well with turned out to be the child’s nanny; there were two father’s in the group, a few women with children a bit older than Z who I thought I might be able to talk to at some future date and then a woman who looked really familiar to me who I thought at first didn’t like me and then I decided after shaking her slightly damp palm that she was just nervous. Her son was named after a famously beautiful western town and after a short discussion it turns out her child went to a Waldorf school out near where we live — one I’ve been curious about. I left trying to remember her name and finding out that we knew someone in common that, ironically, I know through X. “Why doesn’t she like me” I said to G “she’s sort of fashionable bo-ho, her kid’s in a Waldorf school. She named her child after a mountain town. I’m her people!” (Not that I am at all fashionable –see earlier reference to clogs.)
Maybe it was that when the teacher asked us to introduce ourselves and what we do for fun I said that I was a writer and before Z was born I spent a lot of time writing and loved to read. Maybe she thought I was a jackass.
As we left the instructor handed out the lesson plans.
As G keeps saying it isn’t about me, but about Z and introducing her to new things — and it was interesting to see her watch the guitar, react to the piano music — feel the vibrations through her — watch her touch the drum…
One of my goals, other than learning to play tennis, is to become more familiar with classical music — I find that when I hear it I really enjoy it but am completely useless armed with only the information from my music appreciation my freshman year in college when I was more focused on how many ski days I could get in that season rather than anything else.