12 days to wedding: Distractible

Less than two weeks to the wedding.

This blank sheet of paper is delicious.

I love to plunge into the page.

The thrill.


I haven’t been doing it.

I’ve let these practices slide away:

The writing,

The nightly inventory.

I’m still doing yoga–

Too vain to let that go–

And I’ve been remembering to pray.

Even if it’s after I’ve stood up from bed,

Am cleaving my contacts onto my eyeballs,

And twinges of discontentment–

The weather,

The laundry,

The job–

Poke my gut.

Then I’m back to bed,

Kneel on the mattress,

Pull the duvet over my shoulders

And finally pray.

Even yoga is distracted.

I put my iPhone on my mat to

Read my Daily Reflection during

Sun salutations,

And I’m light and bouncy on the words.

They don’t take.

I’m making lists in my mind:





Today, though,

I’m up and writing.

Normal feels good.

One more normal week before

Wedding week starts.

I have a lot to do.


Hello, have we met before?: A night with my old journals

I was paging through my old journals

The other night.

1987 (13 years old)

To the present.

A couple times I chuckled

A couple times I cringed:

The obsessions and

Vapid concerns of the

Teenage or early-20s


Declarations of love to

High school boyfriends;

Gut-twisting fears of

Friends turning on me.

And booze running through like a

Narrow, toxic river.

Who was that person?

That girl-woman

Flailing forward–

I did move forward despite the booze–

Functional, they call it.

I suppose I’m the same person,


Leaner and more


Quieter in my neuroses,

Or more deliberate about sharing them

(Like starting a blog!)

Not quite as naive about


Although I still surprise myself.

And the booze river?

Dried up.

The river bed still cutting through,

Permanent and available;

A tender scar.

150th anniversary of Civil War; Also anniversary of first marriage

Photo: civilwarhome.com

April 12.

In the throes of planning my

Second wedding.

I saw a headline about the

150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War,

Which reminded me:

Seven years ago,

Destination wedding in London.



In a London pub,

Over the fact that I was getting married on the

Date the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter.


With three weeks to go before I marry Joe,

It irritates me that I would be writing about my

First wedding.

The implication being that I’m somehow

Not over it.

(Although when you have kids together,

You never talk about “being over it.”

You just figure out how to

Get along day-by-day.)

In planning this wedding,

Joe and I both say it occasionally:

“At my first wedding…”

At first I cringed when I said it,

Or smiled apologetically at Joe,

Who was smiling apologetically at me.

Then it just became a joke.

The apologetic smile turned into a smirk.

We’re weathered.

We’ve lived.

We’re vintage.

Bought once new and discarded,

Only to turn up as a


On the rack

By someone who


The little details:

The fine stitching,

The unusual buttons.

When you have kids together,

These exes will




Sometimes you wish they would

Go away.

(Or in a moment of face-twisting anger and fear,


But they

Never will.

Interactions with my ex are

Calm and even




I can hope that April 12 someday signifies the

Start of the Civil War only,

Which it was long before

Me and my


Came along.

Call from school

I got a call yesterday.

My son’s kindergarten teacher.

I, who work in an office with adults,

Always have to adjust to the elementary school rhythm

On calls from school.

They always start rushed,

As if I’m dropping into the middle of a conversation.

Ever since he got back from spring break,

My son has been acting up:

Not doing his work,

Not keeping his hands to himself.

He’d been doing so well,

Making so much progress.

What happened?

“Maybe it’s his dad

Leaving,” I say.

“Yeah, I was thinking about that,” his teacher says.

My son’s dad had come for spring break.

The two of them had had so much fun:

Going on a train trip to Washington DC.

My son still talking about

George Washington,

The Washington Monument,

Washington DC.

And now,

He was throwing dice across the room,

And sitting in front of a blank piece of paper

Refusing to write.

“After all the progress we’ve made,

I just don’t want to go backward,” his teacher says.

In my office,

My cell phone pressed against my hot face,

I promised to talk to my son,

And his teacher promised to keep me informed,

And we hung up,

A little team rooting for my son.

On the bike ride home,

Swerving through construction on University Avenue,

Dodging potholes and

Tented sidewalk slabs,

I was thinking of how we would

Not be going to McDonald’s playland,

As promised.

There would be consequences.

So I got home,

And there he was at the dining room table,

Flicking the longish hair out of his eyes.

He crumpled a styrofoam cup in his hand,

And I

Sat down across from him,

And we talked.

Because that’s all I can do.

I can’t go back.

I can’t heal his wounds

Or prescribe his experience.

His father is his father

And that father lives in another country.

And I’m his mom,

And I’m here.

And that’s both his gift and his trial.

I can only guide, my

Hand between his butterfly shoulder blades,

Sometimes light,

Sometimes heavy.

Here are some tools to put in your

Thomas the Train backpack, Buddy.

You’re on your way.

I love you.

I love Minnesota early spring. Really.


Soon after waking up,

I grab my iPhone to check the weather in St. Paul, Minn.

I have strong opinions about the numbers and symbols

That populate the app.

35 degrees this morning?

I like that,

But what’s with the smeary, translucent cloud?

That I don’t like.

Why can’t it be a

Marigold-colored sun

With a crest of white at the top of the little box to

Imply three dimensions?

I definitely don’t like tomorrow’s symbol:

Eight snowflakes in various shades of white and gray.

And 45 degrees.

(How so, snow and 45 degrees?)

And my least favorite symbol

For its ambiguity:

The weeping sun.

That’s today’s symbol.

Why do I care so much about the weather?

I work in an office

And I live in a house,

And any time I spend outdoors is deliberate:

“I’m going to spend some time outside,” I say,

Because it has to be intentional.

But I can get into a truly

Foul mood

Over an unseasonably cool forecast,

Especially in the Minnesota spring and summer,

When I feel entitled to

Warm weather

After the long winter.

I have this sense, though,

A hold-over from my childhood when I had

No opinion

On the weather,

I just wanted to go outside and


My sense is that,

If I get out in the weather,

No matter how crappy it is,

If I get outside and

Walk or run or lay out my mat and

Do some yoga,

I like all weather.

Yesterday, for example,

I tucked my yoga mat roll under my arm and

Walked to the park over my lunch hour.

It was sunny with a snappy spring breeze–

Too cold, I thought, irritated, as I walked to the park

And couldn’t find a perfect spot to lay down my mat.

But after moving through a yoga sequence

And lying in savasana

In the sun’s surprising warmth,

I thought,

This is perfect.

This air and this sun and this temperature:

It’s perfect just exactly as it is at this moment.