Monday, November 28, 2016

The Right Friends

On the drive to school the other day, my 10-year-old randomly said, "Mom, you and your friends are really cool."

"Me and my friends? Uh, thanks. We don't get called that a lot, I don't think."

"No. Really. You have, like, really good friends. Like you'll get dressed up all fancy for each other or just text each other during lunch to go sit somewhere wearing yoga pants and with your hair all...not fancy." We sit at a dive bar, drink Bloody Marys like they're going out of style, and play Prince on the jukebox from our iPhones for hours on those afternoons, but he doesn't know that. "And you're all like, 'Take nine kids out in public? Sure!' and no one even yells that much. Like how you'll all boss each other's kids but in a nice mom way. And I like how you're all mad about the election but you are looking for people to be nice to, like that's a funny and cool way to be mad. And how you say you don't like to talk on the phone but when you do, it's for like an hour. And you're all all loud and stuff, but in a fun way, not an annoying way. Most of the time. No offense, sometimes you guys are annoying but just because you're having maybe too much fun."

This is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me or my friends. And it's spot on, down to being annoying. We totally are.

"Wow. Yeah. We think we're super cool, so thanks for noticing. Really. I am lucky in the friend department and what you just said made me feel really good."

"But how did you make those kinds of friends? I want friends like that when I have kids but I think it would be good to start now."

"It's super tricky. And also not. Sometimes you meet people and you know they're meant to be your friend, and you have to stay in touch or tell them that you're friends now and you suck at staying in touch and hope they're cool with that. But mostly make sure the people you really like know that you really like them, because everyone likes to be liked. I could see you and your best friend coaching your kids' football teams some day, I think he's one of your soulmate friends."

"I don't know," he said pensively. "I don't think we'd have our kids play football. Maybe something safer like soccer."

"Yeah. That's how you know. That you already know that about each other."

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Last night Mr. Ashley asked if I had heard about the earthquake in Japan and the potential for a tsunami.

I shushed him and looked around for little ears.

"Please. Do not mention that around little kid. Let's just not bring it up again."

He looked surprised and a little sad. "Wow. Yeah, with all of his stomach aches and stuff, I wonder if he's having some anxiety from the news? That's something --"

"No," I interrupted. "He's obsessed with radioactive fallout from tsunamis. For weeks I've had to answer questions I don't understand and learn all kinds of stuff about the last time it happened in Japan. It's just now stopping. Please -- for the love of God -- please don't get it started again."

He looked as perplexed as I felt during week one of Nuclear Tsunami News time in the car. "Really? But...why?"

"I don't know, but I can't do it again right now. So don't. No matter what happens in Japan."

"That's kind of interesting. I wonder -- "


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Last Dinosaur Lawyer

"It's really too bad that there can't just be one dinosaur that still exists," little kid said on the way home from school today.

No one replied since no response seemed required.

"Not like a carnivore, obviously, having one random T-rex around would be a mess," he continued. "We'd have to fence it in or something, so it wouldn't just be tearing up cities and eating people, I guess."

"A Brontosaurus would be cool," the 13-year-old finally added.

"Those were always my favorite!" I said. "They don't call them that anymore."

"They call them --" I don't know, I think he said Patasaurus but I won't call it like that just like Pluto is still a planet.

"That's dumb, they're dumb for changing it. I'm calling them Brontosauruses."

"Just imagine, one Brontosaurus working as a lawyer in New York City somewhere," little kid continued.

"Why on earth would the sole surviving dinosaur be a lawyer, little kid?" His brother asked.

"Uh, why wouldn't he be?"

"For about a billion reasons, including a brain the size of an acorn, probably."

"Bro -- that's species-ist. Hashtag Brontosaurus Lives Matter. That Brontosaurus could have worked his entire life to achieve its dream of becoming a lawyer in New York City. Seriously...who do you think you are?"

"Mom, tell him the Brontosaurus could not be a lawyer."

"She's not telling me anything. She doesn't even know this dinosaur. You people disgust me. Dinosaurs have dreams too."


"What do you want me to do? The whole scenario is pretty improbable, I just don't see the need to get involved."

"You both disgust me, way to speak up for the common Brontosaurus, mom."

And then I think they kept fighting but I stopped listening for obvious reasons.

(Because I was imagining this dinosaur lawyer thing, and liking it.)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Negative One

My 5th grader came to me with a shockingly bad grade on a test about commas. I was sympathetic but still trying to process the information when he started talking about a math test.

"I got a negative two." 

"Wait. What?" 

"One of the questions was a," stopped listening momentarily here, "so really it was a negative one." 

I was quiet for a minute while I tried to figure that out. "Are you saying you got less than none right? One or two less than none? Is that even possible?" 

"Mom, it means I got one wrong," he said, exasperated. "Minus one. Maybe you shouldn't be worrying about my math tests." 

Maybe not, but I'm concerned for his grammar and sentence structure though. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Nudge People Forward

"Hey, remember that black family that kind of took you guys in at the Clinton rally?"


"So, they didn't know you at all. They waited all day, fairly, for their spot in line so they could be up front. We could have waited all day if we wanted to be up front, but they saw you guys behind them and helped you move forward. Like, they were willing to sacrifice some of their space to nudge you closer to a historical moment and were also ready to help keep you safe when things got rowdy and they had zero obligation to do so."

"Yeah, they were nice."

"We have to be like them. With everyone, but right now especially with people who are feeling like our country doesn't want them. And you have to be on the look out for people who need a nudge forward or the protection of the place you have in society. Sometimes out of politeness, or to avoid awkwardness, we don't say something -- not just at big moments where someone is being bullied but even if a friend is saying something really unkind privately -- and I'm asking you to say something. A good example is that taped conversation of Trump and that other guy about women. That other guy could've shut it down and I hope you do. Quickly. Every time. Even if you have to make a social sacrifice or may come off as rude. Even if you might get in trouble. Even if the other guy is cool. Remember how that family helped you in spite of our differences and do it everywhere, but especially for people who may already be at a disadvantage."

"Is this about racism? No offense, but that's just not really a thing at my school. I think it's an adult thing, mostly. We all play with everyone, unless they're a jerk, and even then we'll try again when they aren't a jerk."

"Well, keep playing with everyone, even the jerks. I know that's the hard part, but the jerks grow up to feel like the only thing they can be is a jerk since that becomes their thing. And then they end up in a position of power over the same people they were jerks to before. Love the jerks in a way that shows you know they can do better and let them try again."

"Yeah. We do that," he said, as if it was the craziest thing in the world to think they wouldn't.

Have we considered electing a 5th grader? While we're in "Let's see what happens" mode, I think it's worth considering. Also, they've studied government fairly recently and have student council experience, which is a plus.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Still Stronger Together

Something amazing happened today.

After an angsty morning, a few Facebook unfriendings, and rapid-fire texts beginning at 5:15am since everyone knew I was either still up or up again on a day like this, there was a subtle shift.

The texts and messages went from sad and defeated to determined -- I'm talking several different friend groups across several communication methods, all different ages and levels of community involvement and political interest.

But within hours my friends were no longer mourning their loss, they were individually starting to plan their comeback, all around the same time and all with the same general ideas which included:

1. Helping those who will be hurt most. Little things that will lead to big things that our kids will remember as a reaction to perceived injustice. Like, no more engraved bangle bracelets or chalked wall hangings about being the change -- actually being the change.

2. Raising kids who love widely and broadly. Prompting them to be louder and stronger and bolder and more than we have been -- respectful revolutionaries. Most of my friends (including the ones that live in other countries) shared anecdotes about their children's reaction to America's election and the interest and compassion there is where it's at. They can do it.

3. Finding strong candidates we believe in and supporting them and the democratic process in a real and active way, in a feet-on-the-ground kind of way, starting ASAP. And I really and truly hope both sides will work harder to do better there.

All of these conversations went from "me too" to the stirrings of specific plans and suggestions of who else to talk to and all of this had happened by 1pm.

This isn't a "Well, next time we'll kick your ass" thing either. Everyone was mad and yet their first (well, second) reaction was to love harder and louder, and to close up the cracks we're worried will open and swallow the real people at stake.

Again, it feels good to know that the people in my life are mostly good, and willing to find a way to do what we believe is right in a way that doesn't directly hurt or threaten (anything more than the ideas of) those who disagree.

And this time I think we will.

Face Plant

Okay, everyone, remember that thing I said about how falling on our face might not be that bad? (It was yesterday, scroll down.) That it may, in fact, be preparing us for something greater?

Let's remember that this morning after the election.

In four years, we're going to have the straightest, steadiest, most rockin' handstand ever -- no wall, no hesitation, no fear, no help. Just America: good and brave and bold and strong. Turned upside down on purpose.

Our face is going to be bruised and bloody as fuck, but that's okay. We've done that before.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Yoga of the Mind

I've been doing yoga for 3 or 4 years now, reluctantly and sporadically, like I do most things that are good for me.

Yoga is not about looking badass in Lululemon or being flexible; it's about patience and balance, about dropping your ego, experimenting, accepting, and reflecting on what you learned along the way without judgment.

That being said, my inability to do a handstand seriously pisses me off.

I guess that's the work -- recognizing that not getting what I want when I expect to have it can be the catalyst to self-induced misery, and then exploring new avenues of approaching that. That's what my yoga teacher would say, while I roll my eyes and count how many minutes until savasana.

Yesterday I was in an advanced class because the timing worked and I love the teacher (not because I'm in any way advanced after almost a year of no yoga) and they were working on handstands.

Of course they were. The universe is all up in my face like that lately.

I stayed only because leaving would be too obvious and because the chaos of handstands afforded me some privacy to roll around, rest, or otherwise do what I wanted while still looking like a participant. I started with everyone else though, kicking up against the wall and using it to support myself -- something that was too scary when I first started but was fun now.

And at one point as I was going upside down, confident that my heels would brush the wall behind me before I could fall, I wondered what would happen if I didn't reach for the wall -- if I just did a handstand.

The thought was absurd. If I couldn't do a handstand with years of practice, 200 hours of yoga teacher training, and a fervent desire to do one, why would I be able to do it after a year of inactivity while I played around for a half-assed minute before resting?

I moved away from the wall a little though, and I kicked up again, shoulders stacked above wrists, hips stacked above shoulders. If I looked a little bit forward right now, I would either do a handstand without touching the wall or fall flat on my face, I thought. That's usually the warning bell to stop but then I found myself thinking that I have fallen on my face so many times before, but I have never done a handstand.

It sounds small, shifting your gaze while upside down, the tiniest tilt of the skull and eyeballs, but it's always the moment that reminds gravity that I'm up to no good.

I did it though, and enjoyed several steady seconds of a straight, wall-free handstand before coming down on purpose. I was all powerful in that moment.

(I know non-yoga people and/or people who can do handstands won't get it, but trust me, this is life accomplishment stuff. I defied gravity and my self-doubt. This is what courage looks like in my mundane world.)

So it turns out that the key to handstand was to ignore my fear. The biological indicators that something could hurt had to be shut down by the psychological ones that promised the potential for awesome was greater.

Seriously, I'm a pro at falling on my face at this stage in life. I should own that as proudly as the handstand. I could teach classes. Or write a long-running blog about it.

All of my failed attempts were just preparing me for greater things. Once I accepted the opportunity for pain and embarrassment, other avenues of accomplishment opened up.

I am not 100% sure that this metaphor is going to work out in real life as well as the yoga studio, but I really hope so. Either way, I'll be doing more handstands or falling on my face with even more grace and enthusiasm and both options are an improvement.