illness is creeping up on me. my children spread it in their kisses and snotty noses and nastified fingers where the nails have grown too long and dirt and goo and sludge collects. my nose and my throat and my forehead all have a slight pinch in them despite copious amounts of vitamin c, echinacea, and tea. i should have gotten garlic and zinc while i was out today. despite all this, i have been incredibly productive and feel good about what a good mommy and housewife i am being and how not stressed about it i am. things are good-ish for the moment. i bought a resin ganesha statue today just in case, though. jon left an offering of a quarter. this is pretty amusing for a couple of atheists.


little boy makes darth vader sounds,
the deep in and out of an iron lung
he jumps and punches the air,
tries to cram himself beneath the couch
for an unknown cause.
he shoves the plastic mask on baby brother
who stumbles and removes it
over and over without complaint.

my mornings are pierced with
whining, weeping,
wooden blocks flung across rooms,
running noses, sticky fingers,
made-up songs in made-up languages,
and these shoddy china-made
facsimiles of fallen galactic warriors.

writing poetry at the dining table
with lukewarm coffee in an earthenware mug
baby boy climbing up the table to meet me
with wooden tool kit pieces,
threatening to dunk them in my drink,
i find this is a life.
this is worth all of it
this is the texture i sought,
the extraordinary disguised as the mundane.
this is what i wanted,
what i want still.

at times, this desire rises quickly into rage,
when things don't go my way
or hormones shift slightly.
i sink into failing
i let go and my frustrations pour out
in awful, hurtful ways
my words shouted and spitted
are pitiful and pathetic
my mood changes in ways i cannot predict or understand fully
i lose control.
i have not yet learned in my life how to embrace uncertainty
or if it is a good thing to do so even.
mostly i shrink in terror.

i have lost sight of what was poetry and what was narrative.
i seek to flay confusion,
split it wide into knowing,
but i flail and flounder
and do not know
and no insightful words come of it.
what does my life look like if it doesn't look like this? what does it look like if i don't do the same things everyday? why do i choose the same reality day after day? why am i paralyzed by fear to alter simple routines? why does cutting out certain things feel like the loss of a limb? is that a good thing or a bad thing? is it bad because i've chosen to abandon something that is dear to me, something that i am comfortable in, or is it good because that thing so dear to me brought so much stress to my life? is it quitting something that i am passionate about or is it kicking an addiction? can the addiction be both a benefit and detrimental? i suppose by very definition this is true.

back to the real question - if i don't do this, what do i do? have i opened a door to limitless possibilities or closed a door on a valuable outlet and resource? do i harm myself or others in this or do i harm myself or others without it? the internet and mothering have become in many ways just something to do, something i work at as a default when there's nothing left to do or in order not to think. is it possible that i could spend that time much more creatively and be something better than i am or will i merely fill the space with the mundane? which is better? which is more purely virtuous? which benefits my children? my family? myself? what do i do if i don't do that? a list:

  • take walks
  • drink tea
  • write
  • paint
  • knit (learn to knit)
  • sew
  • think of new things to try
  • grow things
  • craft
  • purge
  • get more sleep
  • read
  • finish the plant hanger
  • finish the quilt
  • write letters to grandma
  • hang out with friends
  • have sex
  • bake
  • get things done in a timely manner
  • make collages
  • keep track of unschooling stuff
  • think
  • go to the library
  • visit museums
  • go to the nature center
  • take the kids to the park
  • put together the photo albums
  • go vegan
  • write down funny things aleks says
  • finish bastian's baby book
  • listen to music
  • fix the quilts
  • do yoga
  • write poetry
  • work on my book
  • take a class
  • study midwifery
  • create who i am
  • ask important questions
  • volunteer at the food co-op
  • make sure aleks brushes his teeth everyday
  • blog
  • return emails
  • go somewhere
  • solve the energy crisis
  • take more photos
  • try to understand quantum physics
  • explore the universe
  • compose a letter to opt out of christmas

if i get too busy, i can't do the things that really nourish me and add something to the world for those in my immediate vicinity. on the other hand, i think my service at mothering was and is a good thing that benefits others all over the world. but i need a break and all those others deserve someone with fresh dedication and enthusiasm.


i do not take my children for granted. i know i am their protector and, at least for now, their sacred soft spot to come home to. i take joy in their laughter, their discoveries, and their triumphs. i am also human. i fail everyday to do it right. i fail everyday at not trying to do it right, but trying to do it well enough. i end up doing it well enough, mostly. my perfectionism eats at me sometimes, overwhelms and drowns me in mountains of the unaccomplished, even the unseen or unknowingly wanted. my perfectionism keeps me going in fits and spurts as i make vain attempts at absolutely everything. and in my head, as i acknowledge this flaw that seeks to destroy me by building the impossible expectations, there, alongside it is the great list of all that i am not doing in and in many cases not even attempting. my perfectionism is a snake eating its tail - it is a failing among failings. and still i cannot ignore all that i want to do or should be doing. and alongside all my failings are all my worries. sometimes they overlap and sometimes they breed. my obsession with social concerns grows because i do know i am my children's protector and i have not yet found a way to protect them from the world. i stand in agony watching the nation polarize into opposite extremes, waiting for the expansion to result in collapse. i stand paralyzed by fear, waiting, waiting, waiting. i seek distraction in the endeavor for the middle class fantasy, in the guise of the modern, enlightened housewife, in the cloak of the eco-mom, as if style had anything to do with the philosophy. underneath it all i am merely terrified of what will happen when the infrastructure fails and the water runs out. it has been at least a year of this. this underlying anxiety that threatens to swallow my entire universe when the stress level creeps a bit higher. we are ever involved in the work for the future. we are constantly committed to moving ourselves forward, but in this year and in the history we've created and the experiences we've witnessed, it becomes increasingly difficult to know what the end is and to hold it in our sights. there was once an image. there was once a dream. i had a vision of what i wanted to be. and now, and now, and now... now i am not certain that i will achieve much of anything if the history of this nation continues on this path, if the history of this world persists as it is. when the stress of my life becomes so much, when my husband has failed at his greatest test and all the future is uncertain, amidst all these family deaths, and all this family strife, amidst sickness and mad attempts at eco-feminist versions of donna reed, amidst personal insult, amidst so much uncertainty and suspicions cast in my direction, amidst inner calls for change and cries for personal enlightenment, to change my future and create my day, when all this turmoil is tumultuous and threatening, i find myself oddly focused in every direction simultaneously and obsessed with what i can do to become anti-racist, with what more i can do to combat global warming and completely terrified not of avian influenza, not of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, not of terrorism, but of the real dangers my government and my fellow americans pose to the world and to ourselves in our thirst for fuel, in our quest for ikea-jizz, in our ever demanding levels of walmart ultimates. i find myself waiting for babylon to tumble. this becomes quite uncomfortable for some of my acquaintances. i apologize now for this. i doubt it will end. i believe now the accident resulted in my sustaining a certain level of anxiety that is now persistent and constant and which rises like a tide when outside stress stimulates it. for that i now fear for my children every day. i do not know how to circumnavigate it, nor do i know how to stop being just myself responding to normal levels of stress and the constant flux of moods that cause me to fail as a parent and not love my children perfectly every moment of every day. i do take joy though. sometimes i smile and sometimes i even laugh out loud. still, under my skin, there is a vibration, a constant unease that will not go away. i am doing what i can. i do not know any better.


all the big questions are spinning in my head. day in, day out, they persist. cigarettes glint fiery ashes off the interstate asphalt before me and i am singing very loudly along with the stereo to stave off despair, searching in the moment for the joy of the world, my chest thumping in tune, my eyes wide, trying to imagine the world full of possibilities and hope. if all possibilities occur in endless dimensions, can we bridge the gap? which reality is most real? can i exert control over the possibilities of my life? if it takes stepping outside of my frame-of-reference, this perspective, my trained understanding of the methods of the world's working order to achieve choice in a real instead of imagined way, to make alternate choices than the ones i believe possible, how do it do that? how do i step outside myself? how do i release myself from the confines of my understanding? how do i explore the world outside my narrow scope? is there any possibility of cooperative governing in my lifetime? if we do not manage to turn global warming around within the next decade will the infrastructure of this society collapse under the weight of demand for shrinking resources? will my genes move forward? will my children be okay? will my heart break from the mammoth truth of so much poverty, rape, torture, and genocide in this world? how can i sit in my house in my neighborhood on this summer night drinking cool clean water and eating organic pretzels whilst so much of the world's population struggles to maintain itself? my breasts are filled and emptied each day over and over by a smiling, tooth-filled mouth and clean good nutrients get in, heal him. i enjoy such privilege and cannot fathom the terror of so much of the world. surely there are campfires going somewhere and people are singing somewhere. surely someone is laughing and someone is kissing and someone is making love. i need to know that there is possibility and i can sense only so much despair. i do not know how to do this. i do not know how to make other choices. i cannot see the possibilities before me and shape my day. i cannot sense the atoms in the air and the smallest bits in between all the in-between-ness. i cannot feel the light burst into flame burst into my skin, the air is singeing all the hope from out my brain, the collapse of this known universe cannot come into my heart, i cannot let it, the thoughts cannot make enough sense it is so very late i must be going.


i am melting. the heat is taking away my patience. it has evaporated, yet clings to my skin as so much stickiness. we return from weeks at my mother's house, from all the many family deaths, visiting cousins and useless uncles, swimming everyday and aleks "rolling into a ball underwater," husband away, sisters screaming the usual obsenities at one another, cicadas humming in the back field, the crow of too many roosters (godfather now incredibly elderly though not infirm), the dog, the cat, the ample room for running and playing and pooping in the yard, the difficulties of being in someone else's non-child-proofed house... we return and we are melting and the work i neglected by being away stacks high. the ants are swarming a bit of cashew on the floor. we remain inside, the playground abandoned. i craft darth vader birthday party invites and argue with the girl at cake, wondering why they only sell cake yet do not bake it and realize they will not make me a yoda-shaped cake and secretly marvel at the uselessness of such an establishment. it is all the getting back into a routine and the sadness that accompanies that, the difficulty of emotion, the stress and inevitable shouting. i check out parenting books at the library, wanting to restart and be better at this. i also borrow a book on racism as it is everywhere in my life just now, the arguments grow, as do the inconsistencies and i am troubled trying to understand it all, make sense of whether experiencing white privilege automatically makes one racist or not. i feel as though i know some things to be true, but cannot craft a satisfactory argument and certainly cannot do it in writing, only in the incessant babbling of my flapping mouth. my husband tires of it. there are so many things swimming in my head all the time now, i cannot stop and i feel so overwhelmed by it and by the things i need to do. i chip away at it. i move one foot before the other. i accomplish what i can.