Monday, September 29, 2008

House rejects bailout--good thing for the new year?

More on don't know mind. So the House has rejected a bailout deal, possibly because Republicans wanted to gouge out of this situation tax relief for the wealthy and refused to accept this deal as a result. I can't decide if I am grateful someone finally grew a pair and decided to allow the markets to be free markets and not to throw billions of dollars at the corrupt bunglers who got us into this mess. Or if I am so scared I want them just to go ahead and pass the thing. Does this remind anyone of the days after September 11th and the Patriot Act, or what? And only one person had the courage to just say, "It isn't acceptable to give the government sweeping powers just because we're scared." Yet here we are, doing something just as bad, just as sweeping, just as fundamental. I don't know enough to know what's the right and wrong move here--and I am afraid that no one does, no matter how sure they like to sound. The whole thing boggles the mind--with an awful awe, not the sort one wants to be cultivating going into the Days of Awe. I am utterly confused and sad about it all--and scared too. Ari and I have very little money to start with, so watching what little savings we have shrivel up is scary and means saying goodbye to having an apartment of our own, or a feeling of freedom in our future. All those dreams feel so far away now.

But we keep forging ahead because, really, what else can we do?

Last night, my mother stayed over so that she could go to the birthday party of a friend she has known for nearly 70 years, which is pretty amazing in and of itself. After, she sat around the table with me and one of the Roommates, sipping wine while I made inane suggestions about how to deal with the crisis. I still can't understand why we can't bring people to justice who started this shell game and walked away with millions in profits while the rest of us pay the price. Everyone kept patiently trying to explain this to me and telling me there was nothing we can do, while I said, "Yes we can! Break their windows! Get some rope!" OK, I do not think those are very mindful suggestions. I do not like even reflecting on those ugly and shrill suggestions. Yet I am curious why no one else is making them, perhaps some people who don't have such a commitment to peace and equanimity and compassion as myself.

I have been thinking about Winnicott often these days. Mostly in the context of the "good enough" mother. His idea--one that has permeated much of the psych world, I believe--is that the infant has a natural urge to be at one with his or her mother, and seeks to annihilate a mother's separateness. It is wondrous to know about that idea and then to watch it unfold. Ari delights in stepping on me, to knock me down, to in every loving and adorable way possible try to shred me and pretend there is "no mama there," and then a moment later pushes the hair from my face, presses his brow against mine, looks me deep in my eyes and kisses me. This is both cute and distressing, especially when you notice your own powerful drives and urges at work. Winnicott's idea of the "good enough" mother is one who can survive that assault without withdrawing in horror or retaliating. I certainly do withdraw, I know that--partly because I am not always up for the battle. And sometimes I over-react. Most of the time I strive for some "good enough" balance while I figure out how to do this mama thing.

It's like that being a therapist, too. You don't respond or react right away to what someone is telling you. You wait, you pay attention, you see what is needed. You don't have to do or say the perfect thing. You don' t have to solve or fix. You wait and balance yourself in that delicate flutter of silence and connection.

I feel we all are trying to figure it out--how to be a good enough citizen, leader, grandparent, partner, professional or worker--whatever it is that we do and how we are, however life's circumstances and our own hearts and minds devour us. We sit it out, wait it through, and then notice that however strange the world may seem to us, however perplexing the change may be, we can survive it. It will be good enough. Someday we will make a world for ourselves that will be good enough, as human beings, for us to live in without guilt and without fear. Or at least not too much of it.

We wait and think and wonder in these next few days--those of us who do observe the Days of Awe. We take a breath and then another and consider what it means to be a human, to bump up against other humans and to know--somehow--that for you this life is just as important as it is to me. I walk down the street, feel my feet on the pavement, pass a smoker in a doorway and people unloading goods from a truck and a woman with her baby and a sling and I try to notice that they matter as much as I do. I read the news, I feel myself being devoured by other people's fear and rage and sometimes I want to fight back. Sometimes I do fight back. Sometimes I wait, hovering, to see where the change is coming and sometimes I deliberately set myself in change's path. I worry and fret and wonder. And then brave people say brave things and change happens--look at Olmert reversing himself after 30 years. It can happen. Faith is a verb and moments like this are the times we choose it. However we choose it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Don't know mind

There are times when I start feeling that the stress of all the hats I'm wearing is becoming, well, stressful.  There are moments when I don't, such as last night, when Andi & I went to go here this group called the Revels celebrate the fall solstice on the Charles River last night.  We took Ari, who did indeed revel in the music, while we watched the flickering display of a boat that was the sun and a boat that was the moon converge upon the bridge, as the group sang an atonal chant about walking in beauty, "Beauty is before me, beauty is above me," that reminded me of the blessing we Jews say on Shabbat about the schechinah.  It was gorgeous and relaxing and we strolled home feeling as though Beauty had really lit on us for a little while--that is, until Ari started to holler.

The stressful moments come when I can't seem to adjudicate between the different parts of me that have different roles to perform.  The part that does errands, for example, splinters into so many parts--the part that makes food, orders tupperware for Ari's lunch (didja realize how expensive that stuff it?), does laundry, gets the headlight fixed on the car, etc.  I find all those things incredibly difficult to do and even more difficult to plan.  (Which is more important?  Which tupperware should I buy?  How much time should I spend looking?  I researched tupperware for an insanely long time, trying to find some that is ecological and not dangerous in terms of BPA, and ordered a bunch of pretty stuff that arrived today... without lids).  It is NOT my bailiwick.  Fortunately there's Andi, but there's only so much of Andi to go around and she has her own life too.  And then there's all the other hats--being a mom (the hardest part is still the weaning, which I now feel may go on until Ari hits first grade), being a student, having all the different courses to decide about, doing my placement, getting my clothes ready for said placements, doing Little Buddhas, etc.  I don't know if it really is a lot, or if I am just being whiny.  I just feel tired today.

But as I was procrastinating and glancing through Andi's Maurice Sendak coffee table book I found this quote from after Sendak had a near-fatal heart attack in 1967.  He says that the book he undertook in the wake of his recovery was fascinating to him:  "I feel my work has permanently changed tone, color and meaning, without my yet having put pen to paper.  I am as curious about me as though I were someone else."  

That to me described so well the mindfulness experience--the point of it, if one can say there is such a thing as a point to something that is so not driven by goals and agendas.  That we are experiencing ourselves every day in a fresh way--as curious about ourselves as if we had just met some new, attractive, interesting acquaintance we were eager to get to know.   I have no idea who I will be today.  Each day I have thousands of chances to discover just who I am--who Ari is--who you are.  Isn't that exciting?  Such an openness of mind?  And even if it doesn't feel like that, just opening up the window a crack--a little bit--to let that curiosity in.  What am I feeling?  What is actually happening in this body of mine?  What am I about to create?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"I, too,"

said Ari today, as I was carrying him down the street. There was something so adult-like about this. He was eating tofu and offering a bit to Andi, a bit to me. He would say, gravely holding out the tofu, "A-di," and then Andi would take a bite, and then, "Mama," and then I would take a bite. And then he said, "I, too," and took a bite himself. It was quite sober and very cute.

He has, in the past, said, "Ari, too," but this seemed different, somehow. Andi and I marvel at the fact that he seems to grasp basic grammar concepts so well--this with the fact that he doesn't have the widest vocabulary--it is advanced, but it is not mind-boggling. But his grammar is quite, quite proper, and it amazes us. In the best of ways.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lehman brothers, bad bets, regulation, and self-regulation of mamas and babies

Today is a sparkly sort of day, all golden and underlit and shiny. Andi looked out of the window at breakfast and remarked that the light was glittering under the leaves on the (still green) trees. A fairy day.

Ari is (gradually, I think) sleeping more at night, which is a good thing because I have just about gone crazy with lack of sleep. The challenge of not getting enough sleep coupled with the new stressors of school, Ari's school, and placement--and with Ari's own being tired--were starting to feel almost dangerous. Ari is naturally pushing limits and exploring what he can and can't do, and this was always going to be hard for me. I so hate to set the limits when he explodes with angry tears and begs to have me change my mind. Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but inconsistency makes a hobgoblin of your toddler. Yikes! I don't have the natural patience of so many of the wonderful mothers that I know, so I find myself getting into petty power struggles with him and then sometimes letting him get away with something because I don't want to fight about it anymore. Especially when I'm tired. Last night, he kissed me a soft kiss goodnight and then curled up like a little puppy against me and went to sleep, and I reacted by nearly snarling. (I can't remember what I said, but I made some sort of protest that was senseless.) In the night, around 3am, he woke up screaming and kicking, and again, I responded with contraction and anger. Whoa, Mama! Finally waking up enough myself, I was able to pick him up and hold him and he dissolved and went limp against me, falling back asleep as I sang to him. I realized that he had had a nightmare, and that his waking had nothing to do with clamoring to be nursed. I know I can't help getting angry sometimes, but it just doesn't feel good when that is the first reaction toward him--especially since he is under so much stress, too.

By the way, here is my very slightly altered Buddhist-lite version of the Free to Be You and Me song that I sing to Ari when he cries in the night:
"It's all right to cry
Crying might get the mad out of you
It's all right to cry, it might make you feel better
Raindrops from your eyes
Washing some of the sad out of you
It's all right to cry, it might make you feel better

It's all right to feel things, though the feelings may feel strange
Feelings seem like real things, but they change and change and change
It's all right to know, feelings come and feelings go
It's all right to cry, it might make you feel better."

I did get a chance to hear Michael Greenberger talking on NPR about the national financial disaster that is here and that is to come. Be warned, everyone who believes their savings are safe because they are FDIC insured. The FDIC does not have enough money to bail out all the banks that will likely go into crisis because of the real estate lending mismanagement. If Greenberger is to be believed, that is, and I thought he made a very cogent argument. We may wind up bailing out the FDIC, but that will cost taxpayers billions or maybe trillions of dollars.

Here's his website. Go this and click recent media and then you can get to a podcast of his recent npr interview on here and now:

I started getting very scared about all of this, but then I realized that we are all in this together. Either we will help each other out, or we will fall into some wolfish lord of the flies decline. I can't know, so all I can do is keep going forward as if all will be well. Right? Here's another related link:

Change and change and change.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Israel and Iran

OK, in looking for a very scary article I read in The Nation about Israel, I found this post by Akiva Eldar of Ha'aretz, which heartened me up a little. So I include it here so that we won't all have to be terrified as I had been when I read the Eric Alterman article in this week's print issue of the Nation.

This article about Israel at age 60 scared me especially because it highlighted only a few issues that I know are concerning Israelis, and it felt true to me based on my last visits 8 years ago--so I can only imagine that the worries are total terrors to Israelis now. And thus for all of us--not just we Jews, as you will see if you read it.

I'd be happy to hear what the rest of you think.

Of course, we're all occupied with the fiasco of Sarah Palin and the possibility that all of her self-serving stupidity may be exactly what gets McCain elected. And with good reason. But this article highlights the scale of the Israel/Iran nuclear war crisis that will unfold in some form in the year to come, no matter who gets elected. I don't have any faith that Obama is any better equipped to handle it than the NeoCons. This is not a lack of faith in Obama, per se, just persistent doubt because I, at least, don't have a clear idea of what is the right way to handle it. Do you? Obviously, for many people, a threat to Israel's safety is no threat to the rest of us. But for those of us who consider Israel's existence to be vital, it is deeply unclear what is the right course of action surrounding Iran. Israelis do deeply resent American Jewish intervention in their political scene, and with good reason--many pro-Israel lobbies in this country really do nothing but pour money into the Likudniks and may be responsible for getting Netanyahu back in power--ugh. But similarly, many people in the U.S. are quite rightly furious at how Israel has vested American interests with their own and thus dragged all of us into fundamentalist war-hell. Any thoughts?

Anyway, read the article. It's good.

ari counts

So as we're watching Elmo's Potty Time together, Ari is saying something under his breath which Mama is not astute enough to get, as usual. Mama says, "Tree? Do you see a tree?" But Andi, always more adept at Ari Interpretation, says, "No, he's counting to three."

"Ari, are you counting?" I say, which usually is the surest ticket to stifling him.

Sure enough, he says nothing at all, just nods his head. But I wait a little while, letting him think it all over while Elmo is dancing on the screen with Grover, and finally Ari says, "Five!" The five is as clear as clear.

Of course, Mama doesn't like to quibble, but... it does sound like he has missed four, doesn't it?

For the next half hour that he is awake, Ari says over and over, "Two, three, five!" There is something that comes before the two, but it sure doesn't sound anything like one, no matter how hard you try to turn it into that. And there sure doesn't seem to be any four. Then he goes to sleep.

This morning he wakes up, smiles at me, and says, "Un, two, tree, four five!"

What, did he figure it out in his sleep?

What a funny little man.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Biking in the rain

Mama had a string of bad luck on her new biking plan--her attempt to be like the Roommates. See, the Roommates bike everywhere, and it has always seemed to Mama like a great idea for a million reasons--or at least two--mainly exercise and carbon credits.  Anyway, Mama has vowed to bike to her placement this year at least until it starts to snow.  I don't know if you know anything about Mama's vows, but they aren't worth all that much.  Unlike the Roommates--and, it seems, Ari--Mama is a wimp.  Mama really isn't the grimly determined type.  At any rate, Mama biked back and forth to her placement on Friday with no problems, feeling--Mama admits it--kinda smug.  But today, Mama biked to her placement and arrived all sweaty in her T-shirt and felt self-conscious until she went to change.  It was anxiety provoking.  Then, it turned out Mama was going for a training in another building, so Mama had to bike to the other location in the rain.  As it rained, she told herself it didn't matter, but the truth is, Mama did not like getting her new clothes--in particular, a linen shirt that Liz gave her that she loves and a silk shirt that Rachel gave her that she loves--all wet.  Then it turned out that Mama wasn't eligible to take that training because she had missed the previous training on a day she was not in at the placement and so would not understand the material at this one.  Meanwhile, the rain turned into a downpour. Mama had to bike back to her placement in the downpour--back up the hill--noticing over and over that she was wet and that the sensation was not pleasant.  She arrived looking like a wet cat.  Not a good look for Mama.  Mama squelched through the corridors emitting squeaks against the institutional floors.  She noticed lots of thoughts, including, "I hate biking."

On the ride home, her pants--despite being tucked geekily into her socks--got ripped.  Mama loves these pants, which she bought second hand at Abby's in Waltham with Jeanne--and then Mama felt truly grumpy.  Then when she got home the dog jumped on her and got footprints on the silk shirt and she noticed that there was a coffee stain on it too!  OK, that had nothing to do with the bike.  But it didn't help the mood.

Typing all this up, though, Mama realizes she still is committed to biking whenever she can.  Global warming or wet clothes--which is worse?  One is impermanent--the other....

Monday, September 8, 2008

words and music

Today when Ari was in the swing he looked up at the sky and I thought he said, "Lick."

"Leaf?" I asked craning my head to look at the sky.

"Stick," he said, confidently pointing to the tree.

"Oh, stick!" I said. "Yeah, stick!" My sleep deprived brain could not come up with the word "twig" but now I'm glad I didn't correct him. He seemed so pleased, and so was I, that he could see sticks in the sky.

It made me realize, too, that he knows words that have dual functions. "Stick" means sticker as well as part of a tree; just this morning Ari had been happily playing with stickers and talking glibly about the "sticker" and making it "stick"; thus in knowing "stick" he knows two nouns and a verb.

Auntie Papaya left a great message on my cell about seeing Ari this weekend, and how struck she was by how intently he listened when she, her mother and I all sang a little song, harmonizing as we went. I can't remember what song it was. He cocked his head and listened quite gravely. She thinks he is quite serious about music and assumed I had observed this quality in him. I guess I had, but what had struck me was his joy in dancing, something I assumed YoYo had cultivated in him, since YoYo is the consummate dancer. But the musical interest--I guess that much I had simply assumed would happen. I would have been surprised if it hadn't happened. It seems so much at the core of what it means to be human and happy.

As it does to have words to describe and make real that happiness, as long as those words don't become the whole story.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ari probably knew your name, but now he may actually say it

Today when Ari was looking through his book of photos he was willing to identify so many more people by name. Auntie Papaya was "Paipa"; Zev was "Zzz"; Cate was "Tate". It was really cute to hear him call Auntie Papaya "Paipa" and also very cute to hear him identify Jeanne as "Jea". He said their names with such sweet affection and such gurgling zest, respectively. I love his little nicknames for people. Zoey is "Yo Yo" and his former babysitter Juliet used to be "Lulu" a name she seemed to revel in. (It is a good name.) He calls Dylan "Bubba" which is pretty cute and longstanding. It seemed to me he was also identifying Gefen but I wasn't quite sure. Also, he called Narayan "Raya" which I thought would please her if she knew. I haven't yet gotten him to say Maddy's name though. Don't know why. He calls my father "Dada" quite consistently, but is not clear exactly what to call my mother. Needs some help there.

Something about this naming business is terribly gratifying. Everything about this naming business is gratifying, actually.


Today at Dana Park I was playing with Ari in the sandbox and a friendly woman said to me, "So, is your son an olive?"

"I'm sorry? An olive, did you say?"

She laughed. "Is your son an aleph?"

I was very confused. I said, "His name is Ari, so I guess that's aleph resh yod." Let me tell you, this is not the average conversation I have around the sandbox at Dana Park.

Now she looked confused. "Isn't your son going to Aleph Bet?"

"The daycare? No--he goes to Tot Lot." Here the proverbial light was beginning to--proverbially--dawn.

She looked a bit embarrassed. "Oh, I'm sorry. I just moved here from Akron. I thought everyone at this park was here for the Aleph Bet reception."

"Oh! Is there one?" I had noticed one man wearing a kippah, which seemed unusual, and earlier had seen another man speaking Hebrew to his daughter. But I hadn't realized there was an event. Now, everywhere I looked I saw people wearing nametags with their name and their child's name in smaller letters. It was so interesting. People who "looked" Jewish; people didn't, people who seemed comfortable and clear about what was happening, and people like this very nice woman, who didn't. We started to chat about the choices and the area, and then, I ran into another one of Ari's Tot Lot compatriots, a fellow Jew (I assume) whose daughter has an Israeli name--one of my favorite girl's names. I asked him if he ever had considering sending his daughter to Aleph Bet. He said he had, but then decided Tot Lot was a better overall choice. For me, I knew I wanted Tot Lot above all other options, partly because it is so nearby, but also because it is so multicultural. But that doesn't mean my heart didn't give a squeeze today in the sandbox. I looked around at all the other families who pick up their children every day at the Tremont Street Shul and thought, "Oh, woe, what has happened to my Jewish life, and what the heck will happen to Ari's?"

Times like these I always resolve to build a sukkah. As if that will help. But then, I'm the kind of person who starts a blog when she says bye to one of her oldest and dearest friends. Like that helps.

I left Dana Park nostalgic once again--this time for things I have never known, a wistful, wispy sort of nostalgia for choices I did not make. And cannot make again.

Nothing like leaving Suzi in the Boston Gardens, turning around to see her bend over her daughter, knowing chances are good I won't see them again until Gloria is at least 5 or 6 years old. Nothing like leaving a part of my heart smudged and behind in the bent and broken end-of-summer grass, fluttering at Suzi's feet.

It's hard to love people this much. But love all of you I do.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

snark at McCain

My brother pointed out this link:

that can possibly make the case that the McCain campaign is as inept as it seems to be. Not, I must sadly say, that anyone seems to care. This gets people's attention because it's funny. The fact that the RNC gave up to $10,000,000 to St. Paul in liability insurance in case of illegal actions being taken by the police to ensure against lawsuits being filed against the St. Paul police, in advance of those illegal, and may I say, anti-American acts, seems so much more frightening, doesn't it? At least, it does to me.


In other news, Ari went to the door of the house today and said, "Ari go car car. Ari go go car car. Ari go go go car car!" It was very cute. Cute clamoring. Clamoring that, perhaps, only a mother could love. He had been told we would go as soon as I changed his diaper, and then I was totally sidetracked by making chicken soup out of the chicken leftovers. That took a while; so he was in the right, I felt, to be outraged and sweaty and impatient. Would that we all were so cute while leaning up against the door, smudged against the glass, ready to go go go.

Amy Goodman was arrested

... I know it's already old hat, but I'm still outraged about it. And amazed at how quickly it becomes old news. I like this article because it reminds us how, not so long ago, when these same sorts of things took place, there was massive outrage. Now the same people who were outraged then are doing it to their peers and a whole other generation--and no one seems to notice or care. "The whole world is watching" we used to chant. This day, the whole world is watching American Idol.


Ari wakes up from his nap today begging to be nursed. It is so hard to say no. I tell him he will have homemade mushroom barley soup for lunch; this does not lure him. He turns his whole body away from me and sobs. I pat his back and stare at his head; at the whorls of his hair. Such a heartwrenchingly beautiful pattern his hair makes, swirling into itself.

He turns back and looks at me; checks to see if I am looking at him. Of course I am. I give him a weak smile. He does not smile back. Turns away again. Quiets himself. The next time he turns around, he is ready for soup.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Today Ari is 19 months old

He continues to thrive in school. Yet I do notice little things. He has become interested in stuffed animals all of the sudden. There is a little kitty someone gave him--a beanie baby, I think--that we had kept up next to the blender so it earned the moniker "smoothie kitty." Today he clutched smoothie kitty to his body on his way into school. Hearing the story from Andi, it made me wonder if perhaps he is becoming insecure. I mean, I guess I'm expecting insecurity here. Wouldn't that be normal? But apparently as soon as he got into school he dropped smoothie kitty--splat--right on the floor and charged for the play-dough tables. (Tot Lot makes their play dough themselves--so much more appealing than the stuff, however beloved, that comes out of those cans.) Andi said it looked for all the world as though Ari had a job to do and he was there to get it done. Yesterday the job had gotten interrupted--but by gum, today it was going to be reckoned with. When she said good-bye he proffered his cheek for a kiss and kept on "working." That's my boy.

I guess I'm not that different. I started my new internship today and the woman leading the trainings said, "If you aren't nervous, I'd be worried about you." I thought, "I hope not." In my case, anyway, I think maturity might exempt me from that. Life owes me that much, because I wasn't a bit nervous. Only about getting there on time.

Yesterday, on the way back from the market, I just got so tired I felt I could not walk another step. Yikes! That's not good! I had planned to go to the library with Ari, but it was all that I could do just to get home. After all, I had not gotten a good night's sleep for many nights (how many is 19 months??), and it will keep being brutal until Ari is (relatively speaking) weaned. Andi's help has been beyond invaluable. She got up with Ari around 3:30 in the morning and fed him bananas and milk. He is settling down, but we still have a long way to go to get him to sleep on his own. It's like we're going through what lots of people do during the newborn phase, right now. That was such a blissful time for me, I didn't know what people were complaining about. Now I get it! I don't know how Andi does it. She is a saint, I want that noted on the Buddhist record, right now.

Actually, I didn't sleep last night either, but for some reason I am not so gut wrenchingly tired today. It's fun to get back in the action. I am also kinda excited about Research Methods (for G-d's sake, what has happened to me?? Come pluck me out of this social work trance, willya?) and two independent studies I am doing. One is on the question of spiritual competency--who decides? How do clinicians decide what is appropriate when working with clients from different faith backgrounds? This arose because last year I co-lead a Healthy Aging group and led a "metta" (lovingkindness) meditation. It went over really well and of course I loved it. I loved leading it, loved creating it, loved the devotion and beauty that arose on my clients' faces as they engaged with it. But many of my group members were Baptist, etc. and I wondered how I would address this one-on-one and what were the ethics and balance-of-power on the whole thing. So I'm interviewing clinicians. The other independent study is on the G/L/B/T/Q elder community in Cambridge. I'm excited about that as well. I really want to learn as best I can what the needs are there and how to meet them according to the population as best as I can find out. Yay, Research Methods! I may learn to love you after all!? We'll find out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

no, of course it isn't all bad

I don't want to make it sound like it is all awful with Ari and school. He isn't the big bad bruiser. Today he had a quiet day at school, from what I can tell--communication is a bit opaque. He was there for nearly 6 hours today and apparently only cried twice. I guess that's good. Probably as good as it gets. Andrew, the lead teacher, got Ari to sleep at nap time. I was very impressed by that because it is not easy to get that boy to sleep. That I can tell you. I'm sure Andrew had to work very hard to do it and he handled it all with good grace. That's something mama really appreciates. Ari handled it all with good grace too. Mama appreciates that every day. He is such a resilient little man.

Today, after Ari came home and nursed, he sat up and burped. Then he looked at me and remarked, "I burped." It was unmistakable and very surprising to me. I don't know why. Writing it down sounds so commonplace, but I guess that's what it was. Very conversational, as if I was talking to just anyone. He is making that transition right now into the world of words.

Communication is so precious and magical and human. Ari definitely makes me appreciate the wild luck of being born into this human body and mind.

Ari starts school, it is the third of Elul

I dropped Ari off at his second day of "school" today. This morning when I said, "Okay, it's going to be time to go to Tot Lot today," Ari dropped what he was doing, turned to me with a big grin and said, "Tra La!" Andi & I were very pleased that he was eager to go. I carried him over, clutching his lunch in my arms, and he and I sang a song about Tot Lot which I have now forgotten, even though we ran into our neighbor on the way who also goes to Tot Lot, and we sang the song to her. Here's what was packed in the lunchbox--freshly sliced cucumbers from a neighbor's garden, fresh tomatoes from Andi's brother's garden (yum!), sliced avocado and melon. Then tofu and brown rice and apple slices. He probably will eat none of this except the rice and some of the tofu and a bit of the melon. Oh well. It is fun to pack his lunches right now, until I am starting work (Friday) and then I'm sure the whole thing will become more hectic and stressful and I will probably resort to lots of cheese sticks. I am going to go soon and make seitan stew (and beef stew for the guys) so that there will be more food on hand before we go into the cooking-drought. I hope to make a big batch of food each Sunday to eat throughout the week--and a Friday night chicken for the guys--but we will see.

The neighbors Ari & I ran into on our way to Tot Lot told me that their little girl had been talking about Ari all night long. You'd think this was a good thing, but she was talking about how Ari had taken away her shopping cart from her. I am sure he did. He is already the pushiest kid in that room; I suspected he might be and the teachers have thus far confirmed it. I am worried and uncertain about this but am trying to convince him that gentleness is the way to go. We talk about saying "beep beep" instead of pushing others and about touching in a lovie, gentle way. My cousin does such a great job of explaining this to her girls. It is a special gift. Ari is such a robust fellow... and I don't think he understands yet that he can hurt others. Maybe he does. He will have to learn.

He is also not his usual self, unfortunately. We are weaning right now and that is exhausting. I have not slept much or at all for three nights now. I expect it will be at least a few more nights until he gets it. We are doing the super-attenuated weaning. Andi is helping, the valiant trooper that she always is, so we are all three more than a little droopy--though Andi in particular seems so perky you'd never know that she has been up half the night helping to soothe the bereft baby.

Walking back from Tot Lot without Ari in my arms I felt again a wave of sadness and confusion. It was a lost sort of feeling. As if: I had him for a year and a half, but he is gone to me now. I had friends who were sitting in mourning, practically, when their son started kindergarten--and they had another at home and one more on the way. You'd think they would have been reveling. A part of me did feel light, liberated, but mostly I was disoriented and sad.

Still, I do feel grateful that I have had the chance to feel even this sadness. I think about all the people in the world who, for a whole host of reasons, don't get this chance and I do not revel too much either in my feeling of liberation or in my feeling of loss. And I guess I won't complain too much about the overwhelm that is very soon to come. I feel lucky to be me, walking down these Cambridge streets, greeting even the neighbors who may be faintly worried that my toddler is a bully, feeling that September breeze sneak around my shoulders, the light buzz of caffeine keeping me awake and alert and grateful to everyone who has helped me reach this place in time. That is of course our task during Elul, the month of remembrance. Today is the 3rd of Elul, and it is a time for introspection, for thinking about our lives. Since Yom Kippur is, in some ways, the day that I "die"--what would I like to make sure I wrap up this year, 5768? If I am blessed to live through the Day of Atonement--what would I like to make sure I do differently this upcoming year? Ari in some ways makes all of this very easy. I know exactly where my priorities are. But the crazy busy-ness I am about to face with my very full schedule this fall makes it all, in a certain way, very hard. Nonetheless I am very grateful I have reached this moment in time. Thank you for coming along with me. May it continue to be so.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Gustav is proof

Okay, so Palin's teenage daughter is pregnant, what of it? What difference does it make to the fact that Palin is scarcely more qualified to be president of the united states in the somewhat likely event that John McCain could croak if he was elected to the office than said teenage daughter? I must say, with apologies to the people I love who are gleefully chirping about this news, that it does not seem highly relevant to me; no indication about her values or her abilities or anything else.

What I am happy about is that Gustav seems to have eclipsed the Republican convention, all without seemingly doing much damage respective life & limb, in New Orleans at any rate. At least I hope so. If so, it would seem to prove once and for all that G-d frowns upon Republicans. Something most of us already realize.

Ari starts school tomorrow. We spent the day planning and organizing and (I hope soon) cooking. Andi and I (with Ari on the back) biked the different routes to where I'll be doing my internship today. It's been a busy-last-day-of summer. I keep humming tunes that don't quite fit in terms of words and yet still seem to fit the mood. Like Abba's: "Do you recall our last summer....." I always make up new words to these songs. "Do you realize it's our last day of summer...." Some of them fit superbly and others much less so but regardless I quickly forget them. Today when we were biking I sang to Ari about having him on the bike to the tune of Woody Guthrie's, "Take you riding in the car car" My version was something like: "Take you riding on my bike, bike, take you whenever you like like, it's not just you on your trike trike, we're together on the bike, bike." Etc. He would prod me on my back and demand, "more more." Most of the words were ripped past by the wind and startling pedestrians, but this is all part of what we do for love.

Today Ari could not stop talking about his cousins, "Okar" and "Elly." For right now they have trumped "Ahno" and "Go-Go" and "Aiko"--his usual talking points.