Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Your Most Important Hair Moment

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for 8 minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

Perhaps this very day was my most important hair moment. I don't know. Time will tell.

I was cleaning up the den, throwing away bygone masterpieces from the art table and stacking books which will be unstacked by sunset. In the middle this work Erin came to me with a comb and scissors in her hands.

"Cut my bangs right now please," she demanded as her brown wispy bangs blew and tickled her eyelids.

I knew it was time for a trim, but I was going to get to that...when I could...

"I can't stand them anymore. And make them super short."

Erin and I have gone the rounds with her bangs for most of her hairful life. There was a couple years when she was hairless--a Kendrick baby trait I came to know intimately through the years. She has a long forehead--the perfect size and shape for a display of bangs. (I spend a lot of time wishing I had what I gave my children.)

But here we were.

"Could you give me a second? I'm just..." I tried to divert.

"No. Now." She had actually gotten so tired of her bangs that she interrupted a playdate and came home from a friends house while they were pretending princesses. Now here she stood in a puffy pink dress, a tiara and some bedazzled flip flops making a royal demand.

And yes, I am so grateful she knows to ask and not do the cutting herself. But that's because she's picky and likes to have things done correctly.

So I picked up the comb and the scissors and I started cutting those bangs. The bangs I've cut for years. Like gardener to his dahlias I have cared and grown those bangs, pruning and shaping year-after-year. Only today she insisted they go short. Short. Short!

Parenthood is nothing but walking the tiny line between having the final say and letting them decide for themselves.

So I cut them short. Short. Short. Partly because I want her to feel she has ownership when it comes to making choices for her body. But also because I don't want looks to be a battle between us. Ever.

When we were done she ran to the mirror and declared victory. I was happy for her. But also, anxious because will she now be the kid with weird bangs? I mean, I've given up on trying to dress her, she's very into a certain Herdman Child chic and I have played it up like it was her vibe is cool with me. But these bangs? Man, I don't know.

And then when it was time to go to preschool a few hours later, I remembered it was picture day. Right? Picture day! On this very day! So we dressed her in a cute little flowered dress, and matching shoes and I took her hair into the loving embrace of my straightener. And those short bangs did all the talking.

But she was so happy. When we dropped her off at preschool she strutted inside like she wasn't pretending to be a princess anymore, she was a princess. A princess who was about to sit for a portrait...that will likely hang in our house for awhile...that she will fondly look at for the rest of her life. And out of my head came images of school pictures-- those awful perms, awkward ponytails, bangs gone bad, and a lifetime of blaming my mother for clearly not caring for me at some of my most important hair moments in history. (Editors note: she tried, I honestly have impossible hair and no genetic skills for hair craft. As this blog has documented.)

I drove away with this letter in my head.

Dear Erin,

I sincerely love everything about you. In many ways I wish I were more like you. You're smart and funny. You have energy I envy. I love your style and particular-ness about all areas of your life. I wish I were as particular as you. Today you asked me to cut your bangs super short. So we took off the blue tiara you were wearing and a shiny sticker you had put on your luscious forehead, and we cut those bangs as short as you requested. And then you went to preschool picture day and had your picture taken with your class. In case you are reading this sometime in the future, please know you were super happy with those bangs. And I was happy for you.

I'll always be happy for you.

Love,
Mom



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Decisions

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for 8 minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

I am a decision-making junkie. If I am not making decisions I feel very smothered and suspicious and I worry that a decision I am not making is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.

Whenever I get stressed or overstimulated my only recourse is to make decisions. I go to some place quiet like my room or the bathroom (for like 4 minutes) and I go through my decisions and then I make a choice and at that point I can return to whatever I was doing with a slice of resolve.

The problem with this (and any under-balanced coping mechanism) is that sometimes I over-decide. I will over-analyze and obsesses over methodology. I get about twenty steps ahead of myself on occasion. This happens mostly when I am planning things--like family adventures or civic events.

This is a problem because I stop taking care of myself emotionally and physically. I am so present in the decisions and so absent in my actual life that when the events or adventures are over I am a shell of a human for weeks. Then slowly the blood spools back into my body and I revive and carry on.

The good news is that I do this less and less in my life. Mostly because I've stopped caring about so many things I once cared deeply about. Like for instance how I look. But I still have a long way to go. Don't we all?

But right now Erin is begging me for some attention and so I will make a decision to stop writing about this and go make her lunch.

Grilled cheese or peach smoothies with toast?

 And so it goes.



Losing Things

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for 8 minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

Iris' yellow spoon (why didn't I buy two sets?)
My battle of composure in a community that fights public transportation
My geometric gold earring from Darlybird, the pair wore every day until they broke up and one took off for a better life (is the story I say in my head).
Brown strands of hair (but I'm discovering new silver strands so it's ok).
My temper with September flies in my basement. As I write. Like right now.
My attention to almost anything that lasts longer than 10 minutes. (10? Maybe more like 7?)
My guilt about "screen time".
The bottoms to those piggy pajamas, size 3, very soft fabric.
My silver flip flop, jelly, sparkly, I've had them for years and in the fall I carefully put them away in a box and slip them out in the spring. Did this pair also break up...wait...


Oh my gosh. Did my silver jelly flip flop run away with my geometric gold Darlybird earring?

Mixing metals. Such rebels.

Good for them.




Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mess

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for 8 minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

 photo ryan tanner_zps3oo2l967.jpg

This morning I was sweeping the kitchen floor after the kids were off to school and the two girls were eating toast with eggs and I decided we needed some music. So I put on my friend Ryan Tanner's album Promised Land--a piece of art he put out after writing and recording it in four days. It was a surprise to most of his closest friends. I spent last week listening to it with Christopher, we searched the lyrics and followed the melodies. It's a simple production, a poet, a guitar, a cello, and sometimes a powerful vocal partnership with fellow artist Kiki Buehner.

The first song Promise Land in particular I listened over and over because Ryan has a journey similar to mine in some ways. And sometimes it's the greatest gift when someone can write the words you feel but are too exhausted, conflicted and hurt to write yourself.

But last weekend Ryan tipped me off to one song in particular that was inspired by a deeply personal connection to me and I decided to listen to that song especially this morning.

The imagery in the song conjured up a storm inside of me and I swept and cried and cried and sat down and cried and it had the power to whittle me down until there was no emotion left inside of me to feel except love. The pure love that cuts through all the crap and centers you straight with the universe. I am nothing. I know nothing. I have nothing to give, except that heavy, bittersweet love.

I was a mess. I am a mess. I will always be a mess.

But it's always in the mess I feel the love. It's never there in times of control or perfection. If I want to feel love I have to allow myself the splendor and the vulnerability of the messy life. But I would be lying if I didn't say it's a hard choice. I understand why folks don't choose it at all.

I know this post comes with curiosity. I need to be able to keep all the holy inside right now. I'm not ready to conjure up the mess publicly--except to write the divine effect it had on me this morning. It's perhaps a gift exchange between me and the artist for now. I hope you understand.

Album is here.




Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Finish the Birthday and the Washcloth Bunnies

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for 8 minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

 photo 20160902_5084_zpsu1ba34qy.jpg
(3 in 1 to get caught up)
Finish
On Friday we finished our 7th season of the Rooftop Concert Series. It's probably been my favorite season ever. Really great bands, more diversity, some experimentation. On Friday when I got up on stage for the last time for the year I had an urge to hug every single person in the audience. In fact, one guy on the front row screamed out that he would hug me. But you know, things got busy during the concert and it never happened. Anyway.

In the past we've had this tradition where the founders jump on stage with the Lower Lights during the encore to sing and dance and this year we did it again, and it's fun. I know I come across as someone who would love to be on stage hosting, but in seven years it's never gotten any easier to get up there and I loathe myself for days after the concerts over. But there's always that moment when we get up as founders and it's fun. Even though I rush to get off as soon as the song is over.

See you next year, Rooftop!


Birthdays
On Sunday I will be six months exactly from turning 40. Ck and I scheduled out sometime last night for a morning to myself for a spiritual check-in on that morning. I think from now until March 11th, I will take some time on the 11th of each month to check-in.

Check in:
Am I taking care of myself so I can take care of others?
What am I doing well on that endeavor?
How can I do better?

Being 8 Years Old
When I was 8 years old I was in Mrs. Nelson's 2nd grade class (in the same classroom Ever is in now) and for Easter she decided to do something really nice for us--make us bunnies out of yellow and pink washcloths. I remember they were cute but ultimately disappointing because what I really wanted was candy. It didn't take long for me to see my disappointment was shared with my classmates.

We made her cry. She said to us, "I worked all weekend on making these bunnies for you because I knew you'd get so much candy this Easter and I wanted you to have something that wasn't sugar, and this is how you treat me?" I felt hot shame on my face for weeks. I couldn't even look up from my desk I felt so badly. I loved loved loved Mrs. Nelson, she as so sweet and kind and she always sent me to special programs and writing retreats because she saw some good in me. I appreciated feeling special in her classroom.

The thing about still living in Provo (and having your kids share the same classrooms as you) is that occasionally you run into your old teachers around town. And when I see Mrs. Nelson I still feel so awful about those washcloth bunnies.
 

Photo by Justin Hackworth