Finding Light in the Moonlight

With the return to the status quo of the J-O-B, the blossoming of a potential new business that will release me from the aforementioned status quo, and, most importantly, the care and feeding of an Angel Baby, there has been little time to pin epiphanies to the screen.

But, this morning I woke in time for a solitary cup of tea and the chance to watch the fullest lady moon set in the western sky just as the opposite horizon gave itself over to the sun’s glow.  And before that, when I filled up the kettle from the fridge’s water dispenser I realized exactly what I would tell Moira when she someday asks me what she should look for in the person she will marry.

She’ll know she’s met “the one” because the perfect soul mate will always light her way.

Sometimes when stumbling about in the rocky trail of becoming, it is easy to feel isolated and lost even when someone you love more than life slumbers beside you.  But then you need to look around you and find the light shining from most unexpected places, always burning somewhere to guide you home.

In my case, it was the glow of the LEDs on the water dispenser that my husband installed last winter.  Filling up that bedtime glass in the dark kitchen always led to spills and muttered curses, and so he made a little addition to our brand new monster of a refrigerator.  This morning as I filled the kettle in the thickest darkness, that of a January morning at 5 a.m., I was more grateful for its light than I ever had been at nighttime.  I knew I had found the one who would always light my way and that he slept upstairs, sheltering our most perfect creation.

The (insert name here) Women

Last week I wrote about a day spent in my kitchen with my mother and the Angel Baby.  That afternoon, a friend dropped by for tea and later sent an email saying how she’d enjoyed her time with three generations of Glaser women.  That set me thinking about names – their importance and their meaninglessness.

For us to be “Glaser women” is to define us by virtue of my mother’s marriage to my father.  As far as we know, that name reaches back to a Heinrich Karl Glaser from Ulm, Germany sometime in the mid 19th century.  Seeing as my mother is French and Irish, all by way of Canada, this name describes nothing of her origins; it just sums up the last 35 years she has spent married into my dad’s clan.

Plus, by virtue of my own marriage three years ago, Glaser has been swallowed up to be just a middle initial for me.  Both Moira and I are known to the world as Goudy and so we align ourselves with a bunch of strangers whose histories I cannot know.

After all of the discussions about what we would name our daughter, it seemed that there was nothing more important than the word that would proceed her into the world.  To make her “Moira” was to honor all of the Maries and Marys in the families, but it was also to make her a unique creature.  We were offering the first word in a long and yet unwritten life.

What a paradox – to have one name so carefully chosen and another to be an accident of history.

No matter how far I can reach back, each successive grandmother is identified by the man her own mother married.  These men were key, of course, from their initial microscopic contributions to the ways that they supported and loved the web of women before us.  The men who are in our lives now, who gave us these names that start with G, they are incredibly vital to the people we are, but when we are a tiny community of women in the kitchen, we need a new name.

It seem that patriarchal titles look back, always with one foot lagging in generations of sires we have never met.  To sit with my mother and spend a day marveling over the brand new life in our midst makes me realize that there is a way in which matriarchal time always looks forward.  We take strength from the women who came before us, but we look at the world with fresh eyes with the birth of each baby.  What unifies us all is not a shared name, but a shared creation.  In this case, a little girl named Moira Jacqueline.  So for now, until the next babe enters the world, we are all Moira’s Women.

Even if you are not a mother or even a woman, how does this change your life, to tell time and find a name by looking into the future rather than pulling around someone else’s past?  What if the keys to identity were not already written but were always being born fresh into the world?

Flights of Fancy, Sips of Passion


Here we go again on a dizzying upswing.  Possibilities are stars and I am hurtling through them at lightspeed.  Somebody told Chewie to punch it, and it seems the hyperdrive is working just fine.   Opportunities are endless.  I can zoom onward, my heart in my throat as I watch all these amazing chances streak by my windows.

But, wait, help!  It’s all flying by too fast and I can’t connect the dots of stars if they just look like trails of laser fire.  And I might be moving at stunning speed, but do I even know where I am going?  Euphoria is sweet, but I’m risking my sanity, achieving all this altitude without sufficient oxygen.

Reaching such velocity and then slowing to the inevitable crawl between these frenzied trips beyond the atmosphere of my every day experience is nothing new, but traveling through life as a new mother is making the ride more brilliant, terrifying, and death-defying than ever before.

This is passion, this is euphoria, this is limitlessness.  And it can be as difficult to harness and capitalize upon as a passing comet.

Christine Kane has a guest blogger who writes about passion today.  She names it, desrcibes it, and invites readers to uncover it in themselves.  What she does not address is how to harness it so you don’t just feel like a helium balloon, rising so fast you forget the feel of the earth.  It’s only the combination of a pair of boots firmly planted in the mud of daily life worn with a set of passion feathered wings that stuff really gets done, that the necessary changes happen.

For me, passion is hope, ever springing eternal.  My task is to capture all of this fabulous momentum and distill it into a potion I can drink each day, a little draft I can add to my morning tea to keep the sweetest adrenalin pumping even when real life is trying to tell me it is impossible to fly.

Kitchen Table Revolution, Interrupted

On Friday, my Mom and I spent the day in the kitchen talking about a revolution.  Well, we were talking about the state of the world, daring to broach our  fears about countless taboo topics.

What happens when we all find out that Al Gore has been right?  What happens when people really start to run out of water?  How many links in the chain have to break before our global network of food distribution?  How many days of product are in an average supermarket?  For a proud liberal, why do I have a funny perspective on guns that I don’t talk about much?  In what part of the psyche and the spirit should stories like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Jean Hegland’s Into the Forest reside?

Ach, Marisa!  What are you doing to your dear readers on a Monday morning?  The sun isn’t even up yet and with gloomy thoughts like this you are practically daring it not to rise!

Fear not, if you are anything like Mom and me you will plunge into your seas of worry and dredge up all of your 3 a.m. thoughts even though it is the middle of the day.  But then you’ll get up for another cup of tea and the phone will ring and you’ll pay the cable bill or head to the dentist and you’ll pretty much forget this little dip into the nastiest recesses of your “what if…?” consciousness.

Of course, we all do this.  I, for one, have no idea how I would get through each day, full of all sorts of mundane beauty and banal ugliness, if I was truly tuned into my concerns about the state of our collective future.  It is pretty much impossible to fully enjoy an infant’s laugh if you allow yourself to focus on all the evils that might endanger it.

And so we engage in these impassioned discussions and stir up the sediment that our modern, Western, wasteful lives have created in the riverbeds of our awareness and then we start making dinner.  The conversation I had with my mom was so amazing and touched on so many important topics, it had me wanting to take meeting minutes.  But, I had my hands full with the baby when I was not clearing up the endless piles of clutter and I never got around to writing til right this Monday morning minute.

If I had had the chance to play scribe and record the litany of ills and the faint glimmers of solution would we be any closer to solving any of the world’s problems?  The tragedy of the whole conversation was that, as much as we were both so invigorated to trade ideas mother to daughter and back again and to flow along in the tides of conversation, we really felt pretty powerless.  Talking about Washington’s party politics and the conservative pundits’ maniacal desire to debase our president’s every action and motive left us rather deflated.  We were saved by a gently shaken snow globe of a January day  and by an infant just discovering her voice.  A baby who has not yet had to worry about the lies that the media propagates and the impossible search for truth.

We are not powerless, of course.  We have the loving bonds that allow us to dive deep and surface together.  It is as true that enough of these conversation will change the world as it is necessary to believe that they can.

How To Be a Goddess

So, here’s a little pagan scented blasphemy for this Feast of Epiphany…

According to the Writer’s Almanac:

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. The word “epiphany” comes from an ancient Greek word meaning “manifestation” or “striking appearance.” Before Christianity, the word was used to record occasions when Greek gods and goddesses made appearances on earth.

Want a surefire, foolproof, 100% guaranteed way to be recognized as an incarnated deity?  Follow these steps:

Be born a woman.
Make love at your most fertile moment.
Act as a hospitable vessel for nine glorious months.
Love the little creature that you have created with all your body, heart, and soul.
Leave aforementioned Angel Baby with a loving grandmother after she has been lavished with two and a half months of dedicated maternal attachment parenting.
Return within four hours to a child with eyelids slightly purpled and swollen from much weeping.
Hold her in your arms and offer her that sweetest mother’s milk.
When this child falls back in a delighted coma of sleepiest nourishment, witness the expression on her flushed face.

Realize that in this moment you will never be gazed upon with such devotion again unless you repeat all of the steps above.

On this Epiphany Day, I was a goddess at lunchtime.  When the work day finished, I again burst upon the scene, a brilliant epiphany to behold.  Tomorrow, the cycle shall repeat.  For now, it is almost enough comfort to get me through these hours mother and child are apart…

Throwing Open the Doors, Come What May

May the guesthouse of your soul know no January days...

Beloved Tess over at Anchors and Masts shared this poem by Rumi the other day:

This being human is a guesthouse;
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all.
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture.
Still treat each guest honourably.
She may be clearing you out for some new delight
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them all at the door laughing and invite them in
Be grateful for whatever comes
Because each has been sent as
A guide from beyond!

The last day of my maternity leave is nearing its end.  Though I will only be going into the office three days a week and will be with Moira much more than I am away from her, I somehow feel like I am leaving a remote island where the world has not been able to touch us for the last two and a half months.  We have journeyed out a bit, but when the waves crashed too high we could always retreat back to this country of two, of mother and daughter where the spell of the womb still lingered.

I still belong to Moira in ways I will belong to no other entity.  No job, no obligation, no passion will be stronger than my devotion to my daughter.  And yet, she is not the only being in my guesthouse.  Of course, my husband, the rest of my family, and my friends fill up many of my rooms with laughter and with love, but still, there are also the public spaces where others must be permitted to tread.

A week ago I looked to this time of returning and considered about how I grow through each interaction with those difficult people that my work life sends into my orbit.  In weakness, I still cringe a bit at having to walk back into certain rooms where the air is heavy with mistakes of the past, where relationships have soured and interactions have become strained.  In strength, I can let that old smoke dissipate with one deep breath.  I can willfully forget damaged histories and walk back to the office a woman reborn because hey, I was in many, many ways.

Since Christmas, ghosts of answers to those prayers I was slinging into the Universe about finding a way to stay home with baby girl seem to be finding me.  There is a long way to go to be sure, but little lights are flickering on and little windows are opening in the house of my dreams.  I am realizing that if I am going to fling wide the doors so that such bits of opportunity can make themselves comfortable, then those doors will also have to be open to Rumi’s “cloud of sorrows.”

Right now, I am in a mood that allows anything to be possible, and that includes being grateful for all the good and all the bad that I may encounter in this fully lived life.  Going back to work tomorrow may not be my ideal way to spend a day, but it is the only January 5, 2010 that I will ever see, so I might as well show up and be a good hostess, come what may.

January 5, 2010… Sounds like a pretty mundane sort of day.  What sort of magic will you allow to find you in all its wintry midst?

What Would You Do With This Turkey?

One day when I was in college I entered the kitchen to find my grandmother looking at an uncooked turkey on the counter.  She looked at me and asked, with that most beautiful twinkle in her eye, “Marisa, if you were to come home to this turkey, what would you do?”

Without a trace of irony I replied, “I’d put it back in the fridge.”

Nanna’s laughter and shaking her head made it clear that this was not the sort of answer she was seeking.  She wanted to share a moment with her granddaughter, passing on culinary knowledge.  I was concerned that the family might get food poisoning if the bird stayed out too long.  It didn’t occur to me to be interested in cooking anything.  Even spending time with Nanna was not enough to convince me that preparing a meal was more worthwhile than reading a book.

I thought back to this conversation tonight while I was cooking dinner.  Admittedly, I was only half present. Even as I was aware that there was sacredness in making soup for my family, I had a bunch of other tasks that I had wanted to accomplish.  I was composing this post in my head, cursing my garlic covered fingers that made jotting down my fleeting ideas impossible.

As I remembered Nanna, I was also thinking about yesterday’s open letter to our mothers, the women who “forgot” to tell my generation how phenomenal motherhood could be.  There was no doubt that Nanna adored being a mother – almost as much as she adored being a grandmother. By the same token, I know that my mother loved being a mom to my sister and me.  And when it comes to Mom’s take on being a grandmother… well, that tremendous love is apparent to anyone who has been in the same room as her and Moira.

I’m guessing that the signs were always there.  Nanna and Mom were constantly sending out signals that most casual observers could quickly decipher: motherhood was/is a huge and brilliant part of their identities and they would recommend it to anyone.  Several women responded to my post, describing how much they have loved motherhood and how they have made it a point to share this with their daughters.  When my own mom reads it she will probably say the same.  Will my mother tell me that she tried to describe motherhood to me many times but that I just wasn’t listening?

From the outside looking in, I think mothering can look like monotony and drudgery much of the time.  How do you explain to someone that changing a cloth diaper every two hours is not a relentless chore but an amazing chance to be barraged by a dozen new infant giggles and coos?

What if my generation’s perceived lack of interest in, or, perhaps more accurately, lack of knowledge of mothering springs not because our moms never mentioned it but because the whole world programmed us not to hear what they were saying?

The planet seems to be spinning faster and faster.  Everything is driven by productivity and performance.  From my ten weeks’ experience as a mom, I can tell you that being “productive” has never been so difficult (hi, I brushed my teeth, got out of the house in less than an hour and a half, and managed to write an Epiphany or two – give me a medal!).  As for performance… many of us try to mold the experience into something readable, but, for the most part, motherhood for the sake of show is a fool’s errand.

When you’re in college and living off of beer and bagels, measuring success by how many hook ups you’ve had and how many books you’ve read, cooking can seem ridiculously dull.  So much energy expended for something as un-sexy as a square meal.  And motherhood… well, at nineteen that is even more un-sexy to most girls.

Mothering and cooking a decent dinner:  both take more time than you have; you’re always a little afraid of screwing up; you most likely will need to improvise because you’ll never have all the ingredients; your mind is often flying in several unrelated directions at the same time.

But, oh the rewards of a meal well prepared and a baby curled up peacefully beside you at the end of a long day!