Thursday, August 30, 2012

This Post is Probably a Mess, and I'm Posting it Anyway.

So, I got this new job. And I left California and the entire life I'd built up there over the last thirteen years. And I had to leave my dogs behind, which is, frankly, so heart wrenching that I'm pretty certain it hasn't even sunk in yet. It just doesn't feel real. I'm just on vacation, or simply in the part of the week when their other parent has them--it's not possible that they're an entire continent away from me, and that I won't get to see them this week, this month, this year maybe.

They have a good life, tons of love and doggie field trips and the best possible medical care imaginable. And I had an incredible opportunity to come back to a place that I love almost beyond my power to describe it. And my life in California had been winding down for a while. I was really only staying put for Annie and Tigger. And if they were human children, that might have made sense, and if they were mine alone, I wouldn't have thought twice--they'd have come with me. 

But I didn't sit down here to write about them, though I think I'll leave it up there.

The job: I'm working at Bryn Mawr College, in the theater, where I spent pretty much all my time as a college student in the late '80s. I haven't worked in theater since the late '90s. And I never imagined I'd return to Bryn Mawr this way. But here I am, polishing up the technical theater skills I abandoned a while back. Remembering how I love the sawdusty smell of a theater, the oddball problems that crop up, the challenge of learning a new technical skill (uber-advanced lighting and sound systems, anyone?). Remembering how much I like working as part of a real team--in person, on a day-to-day basis. It's different from the solitary work I've been doing, writing and editing and only communicating by email. Or putting together a cooking class in my kitchen or making jewelry all by myself. And it's delightfully different from working in an office--a fact I keep realizing every time I find myself climbing something or carrying something or running around the building at the last minute to make sure there are enough chairs on the stage for the event that's beginning in seconds.

But setting aside the theater work, this job is going to be a lot about working with the students--helping, advising, training, mentoring. Giving back and sharing, in a very real way, something that absolutely was given to me in this place. Helping them, I hope, to develop their senses of self, their capabilities, their solidity. Their ability to solve hard problems--fast, on the fly. Their ability to climb tall ladders and carry heavy things and to use power tools. Their ability to make something beautiful. Their ability to plunge into spaces where they know nothing at all and to teach themselves exactly what they need to know to occupy those spaces comfortably--to own them.

Yesterday, the freshman arrived, and at the end of the day, they were all piled onto the main stage in the theater, their families and friends in the audience, as they were officially welcomed by the president of the college and a number of other folks. I sat at the back of the house, watching that sea of 380 young women who don't yet know one another, and all I could imagine was the sea of young women with whom I entered the college 25 years ago. I remember on one of the first nights of orientation (or Customs Week, as we call it), being gathered in the gymnasium to fill out some form or other. We sprawled all over the gym floor, and the lighting was fluorescent and yellow over all the unfamiliar faces, and I felt both a bit lost and so eager to know these people and be known by them. And then I thought about all the ways that this place helped shape me.

And it's 25 years on, and many of those people are among the dearest ones I can imagine, and many of them are quite literally an everyday part of my life--along with many other Mawrters I've met along the way, both during and since college. And here I am again, home in some very deep way--returned to the mother ship, as many of us jokingly refer to it, this place that has been, for me and I know for others, quite literally an "alma mater."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I told Penn "True Blood" is not a movie. It is a television show about artichokes. 

Later, amidst the usual bedtime tears, my suddenly-five-year-old wanted to know,
"Are you gonna watch an artichoke show? I don't like artichokes, but if they're not going in my mouth I want to see it." 
Then, "You get to watch stuff and I don't!"

Well, yeah. And perhaps the eventual slumber of a five-year-old is better for it. 

Recently, a friend lamented having showed her daughter an animated film about dragons. The movie introduced the verb "killing" into the toddlers vocabulary. Another friend, the mother of a boy who I've credited with teaching my son the art of constantly pretending to have a gun in his hand, recently mentioned that her husband is very anti-gun. So. File all of this under no-matter-what-we-do? We've tried to relax about the gun obsession, in an effort to give it as little energy as possible. And we've started "Movie Nights" with Penn, in an effort to have a little bit of popcorn-riddled fun. A part of me wonders what he would be like, raised instead in the woods with hand-hewn chess pieces on a stump covered in checker-board moss. That I painted on, chia-ball style. What if. What if we raised our child with select omissions? No guns, killing, Darth Maul, black teeth, poison, or even that bad man who sent the planes with the bombs.* What would a five-year-old Penn be like, without his tart awareness of the world? Awkward though it may be, it's an awareness. 

Just musing. What is it that you wish you'd kept to yourself? For just a little longer?

*Penn's description of Hitler.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I don't care how August you are. If the night air smells of molasses cookies and a kindergartener just had his first day of school, then, my friend, you're Fall. Nail in the coffin was that split pomegranate on the curb this evening. File that under "seasonally appropriate." Autumn starts now.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Amy is leaving.

There are seven more days until we have a five-year-old.

An idea, "his last days of toddlerhood," circles and swoops.

The yard is littered with waterballoon skins.

Legos are a family activity.

Coffee is being cuddled on the couch.

Someone is not getting dressed for work.

Someone is stretching all the Sunday she can out of this morning.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

•what happens•

Right now, there are a bunch of 'draft' posts littering the backstage here at The titles are interesting. "Englandia." "Long losts." My favorite is simply "the toyotas."

There are a great many things preventing us from blogging. We both just landed ourselves new jobs. In my case, I got a text in England from my boss. One of our co-workers was leaving; would I like to apply for her job? After five weeks, Troy, Penn & I returned home to a swirl of jet-lag-interview-hired!-ready-set-full-time-job-for-mommy on top of (p.s.) a week-long conference that took Troy to Massachussetts. I'm still skinning my knees daily, just trying to keep up, but it's good to be working at a new velocity for That Store we love so well. It will let up, in December. So look for that "Englandia" post, then. Right now it's swim lessons and scraped-together meals and piles of suitcase innards.

For Amy's part, it's packing and working, not sleeping and tidying up loose ends, because her new job means a rather abrupt move, cross-country. Which means, first and foremost, we will be half-assedly blogging from opposite coasts of the US! (Thank you to Bryn Mawr for proffering this upgrade in bloggerly coolness.) Amy has accepted a dream job as a production manager for the Bryn Mawr theater department. She moves to Philadelphia on Sunday. I went to her house a few nights ago in a work-induced stupor, and she sent me away with a giant ceramic ladle, a box of beads, an oversized bag of clothes, and a book of our blog. Of course, all the clothes are still in the bag. The beads have been picked over by a small child. And the book is right here, online, for anyone to comb through. But there's something different about seeing all those early posts in pages. I can open to a random date, as though our posts are part of a larger story. And so they are. Once upon a time, Amy wrote, "Right now, I'm going to go put one small piece in the kiln to see what happens..."

Right now, I'm going to go.  

sheep on side of road


Friday, August 3, 2012

Drive-By Post

Sometimes, I read the Totblog over there to the right, and I laugh out loud, and I have this moment of a sort of automatic comment reflex, when I just want to say something about how awesome and hilarious and sweet and charming Penn is. And then I remember that you can't comment on Totblog, and I get a tiny bit bummed out. And then tonight it occurred to me that *it's my blog too* and I can *post* a little something about how awesome and hilarious and sweet and charming Penn is. And about how Totblog gets funnier by the day. (In Norwegian, laughing is explaining.)