santa cruz beach boardwalk.

The Giant Dipper, so much younger (but still more than 80 years old!) and smaller than the Big Dipper, and yet...

It's my all-time favorite roller coaster (and I do love a good roller coaster). I'm gooey sentimental over its red and white frame. I first rode this thing with my mom, more than a decade ago (okay, almost two, but that makes me feel remarkably old and I can feel it as though it was only a few months ago). The sound of its chain lugging the coaster cars up the first drop, ocean waves rolling to shore, people screaming and laughing, winning prizes and eating chocolate-covered soft serve ice cream... It makes me taper off. 

As we waited in line (a really short Tuesday line), I checked out the sizes of all the kiddos (I assume on spring break) and thought how much Rowan would enjoy this someday. After hollering through the Giant Dipper's dips and curves, I remembered how often you jolt into your car mate or get air, meaning bum fully leaving the seat and knees hitting the lap bar--only thing holding us in. S says it gave him whiplash. But I love that roller coaster dearly. And it was our whole purpose of heading into the retro tunnel of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for our little date without the babe. We had to make it quick, since R still isn't sold on bottle feeding. But papa'll continue working on that one. 

Do you have a favorite roller coaster?

2 gargoyles + 3 months = 1 love.

A few weeks ago, a busy girlfriend of mine penciled us in for a babysitting date. She's a teacher, pregnant with her second daughter, and even though she's exhausted she insisted on babysitting R one day during her spring break. She said it's good for S and I to spend some time alone together. 

It was my first time away from snickerdoo--who is three months old today! And the first time S + I have been alone together, since he was born. We tried to think of something to do that you cannot do with a baby (and that is semi-close to where my friend lives in south San Jose). Museum, movie? But we wanted to be outside, it was such a beautiful day! A seedy dive bar? But there are lots of baby-friendly bars + pubs around. Who wants to dive into a dark bar during the day on a Tuesday, when the weather is so grand? Basically everywhere we wanted to go, we wanted to bring R along too. But we took her up on it... 

{here's a sunny preview}
Any hot dates lately?

moetic moment.

{gosh, a little over stimulation?}
Every once in a while, I take a step back and see myself from afar looking at baby clothes hanging over the shower door, and I think: wow I'm a mom.

true dat.

I'm writing an about page for this little blog. It's proven hard to do, what with a constantly nursing baby on my boppy and one-handed typing off to the side. But really, I can't blame sweet Rowan. The truth is I was feeling stuck. Suddenly I'm forcing myself to define my blog (+ myself). But I don't like being pigeon-holed! So much so that: during an icebreaker in college one of my professors had each student describe herself in one word. Absurd! Little rebel me, I decided to sneak an extra word in: pigeon-holed

{let's fly away}
Anyway, it reminds me of a conversation I had with Claire about helping creative writing students find their voice. Langston Hughes' poem "Theme for English B" popped into my head. And it seems so apropos for me now. The moral of this little (non)story is to be true. 
The instructor said,

      Go home and write

      a page tonight.
      And let that page come out of you—

      Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.   
I went to school there, then Durham, then here   
to this college on the hill above Harlem.   
I am the only colored student in my class.   
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,   
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,   
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,   
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator   
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me   
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you.
hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.   
(I hear New York, too.) Me—who?

Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.   
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.   
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.   
So will my page be colored that I write?   
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That’s American.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.   
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—
although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

Do you have an About page? 
Did you "define" your blog there? 
How was that experience?

Wishing you a beautiful, springy Easter + weekend. 

what's in a white shelf?

{book case + baby gym}

This is my favorite part of our house. And I love the fact that these bookshelves are white. I grew up around solid oak book cases, and I've always had some faux wood shelves in my own places. But why be tied to wood coloring when it's not even real wood? Sure, IKEA's stuff is wooden, but I wouldn't really call it wood; it's more like molten woodstuffs. 

Maybe I wanted the bookshelves to match the two pieces of furniture I've never gotten rid of. First, my mother's hope chest, which has been moving with me since I was 17. I must have transported that thing at least a full handful of times with what few other belongings in the back seat of my sedan. (You're talkin' to a girl who has moved more than 20 times in as many years and who has lightened her load [read: gifted and goodwilled maniacally] more times than she cares to remember.) Second, my grandpa's solid heavy desk. But you know what? Fake wood will never match real wood, and one wood usually doesn't match another wood either. 

After living through a long Patagonian winter--half of it spent in a low-ceilinged, dark icebox--I dreamed of living in white place with white, clean lines. Everything around me would be some shade of white. However when we arrived to the States and finally moved into our apartment taking stock of the things I did still own, white just didn't seem in my future. So when we went to IKEA, I imagined purchasing something black. Or maybe even red. But white matches everything; or it doesn't beg to match anything. Happily (after hours walking through a weekday IKEA with little R in the carrier) we banked on white.

As I unpacked the boxes of books and haphazardly organized them a la heather, I saw how they tell a loose history of me. Aside from family furniture, books are the one thing I never let go. That is, until I left for South America. I sold about three boxes of me to a used bookshop right before I skedaddled. But the remainder still creates a complete-enough history. Even if I'm the only one who knows the story. The classes I've taken, papers I've written, where certain books were acquired or read, how used Elizabeth Bishop's Letters reeked of stale cigarette smoke when I sliced open the box in my cubicle at work. 

{go toward the white}
What I love most about the whiteness of our shelves is the context they offer. Stuff pops off each shelf in splishes of color. They signal a beginning. Baby books and family magazines. Arrows to our ourness.


{enjoy the green spaces}
This weekend we zoomed around enjoying the wide green outside. Today's grey and misty and I'm bound by home. S has the car all week, while he takes a rope access certification course in Santa Cruz. The walk score in our neighborhood would be a big fat ZER0. It's about a 40 minute walk to decent shops and groceries. A walk I'd planned to do before I tumbled out of bed this morning, but that was before baby and internet land ensnarled me. 

Let's be clear though, it's not that I really want or need to walk to the shops. It's that we don't have coffee. Or, rather, we do have coffee, but I forgot to grind it at the store before bringing it home. And we don't have a grinder. I managed with tea in the morning, but then my genius husband called and reminded me that we have Turkish coffee. No cezve to brew it in (because like so many other things we left it with a grateful friend in Patagonia), but that won't stop me. 

{cafe turco, the cezve is the copper container}
But it makes me wonder, what do you look forward to most when you get out of bed in the morning? I tend to think too much about what I want or need or should do instead of thinking how good that first cuppa is going to taste. Lately I do love waking up to a bright eyed (not yet crying) little person, who smiles a big ol' open-mouthed smile when I say good morning. 

What's your morning pleasure?

humble beginnings.

This week I'm thankful these things. 

beginnings :: They are all new, if not particularly shiny. We've been in the States 4.5 months, yet I'm barely beginning to feel arrived. The heart of me has caught up with the body of me, almost. It's funny how often those two are out of sync. I am a poorly timed clock; tick tock.

Yet here we are again, the pieces of me and my newly family. We get to start our lives here however we want, though it's been difficult deciding just how we want to do that. I suppose everything will fall into place at some point, right universe?

bloggin' :: I'm happy to be back, to be connecting... 

{a la village}

measures :: These milk bottle measuring cups from Anthropologie make me happy. Maybe it would be weird to say I am thankful for them. But I am thankful to be able to window shop and find items and window displays that are pretty cool just about everywhere. That definitely didn't happen in Puerto Natales. 

spring :: It's been crazy green since we got here. I honestly don't remember California being so green for so long, ever. But then, memory has never been my strong suit. Now I'm just happy that warm sunshine is mostly accompanying such greenness. 

{looking at papa}

hikes :: More specifically green spring hikes with the family. Rowan went on his first longish and beautiful hike yesterday. He's done a fair amount of walking since he was born, but he's never felt so far away from the city. Cows, lizards, woodpeckers, waterfalls, poppies and that sudden breeze he loves. 

What are you thankful for right now?

time, i don't believe in you.

I haven’t written in a long time, not the blog or anything else. So sparks of birth and motherhood come to me in the middle of (seemingly) other writings… but I feel those sparks are really their own story apart. So I set out to compile a list of what they don’t tell you about birth and motherhood. Or what they do tell you, but is just so damn hard to remember. 

{from our more recent stash of photos, reminders -- with a sneak peak of our book shelves, which i love}
I compiled said list and realized that they don’t tell you that stuff, because it all sounds so dreary, so heavy. And at least in western culture, there’s enough fear about giving birth already. Women are fed so much rubbish throughout our lives, we tend to doubt our strength, our bodies already.
I will say quickly that I think, aside from having someone to prepare you nutritious food (preferably someone other than hubby. hi friend food tree, you are a good idea!), the most helpful thing you can give yourself is to talk with other women who have recently given birth. I was lucky to be one of the last of my friends to have a baby, so I had lots of support in that area. But even strangers, as in a new mama group, would be wonderful (maybe even better because they are going through it right along with you and listening to others who are in it now can help you feel more normal). OK, that was another long digression I hadn’t intended to take.
Anyway, I imagined the list to glitter a little with its shimmering insights. But that didn’t happen. (Of course not, because I knew how the list would end--what its emotional charge would be--before I had even taken the journey. All authors commit such presumption, sometimes.)

So, let’s get to what they do tell you. Enjoy every minute.

We left the hospital one day earlier than recommended. We arrived home to my aunt’s house, greeted by a clean-sheeted welcomingly pulled-down bed. A baby photo album topped the bed, and inside the album, a simple card. It said: Enjoy every minute. Bawling, I tucked the card back into the album. I decided to pass this message on via every baby shower card I’ll ever write.

I think it may take a while to be able to enjoy every minute. Pain and sleep deprivation damper it all. Add hormonal cliffs, crying baby that you’re supposed to know how to soothe, insecurities, sensitivities, and holy ferociousness you’ve got yourself a hurricane on your hands.

And yet, no fancy rhyme could say it better. Enjoy every minute. Be there, then; be here, now. 

{enjoy, mama!}
Because babyhood really does happen as fast as they say it does. Baby’s papery skin plumps up. The downy hair (lanugo) on baby’s back disappears, like magic. That new baby scent fades. Diapers that swim on baby, too soon tighten. One by one, you transfer the onesies to storage. Meanwhile you grow with your baby. Ultimately some shimmerings can’t be captured a la list.

for now.

Let's just say.

I can tell it's going to be a red wine and coffee ice cream kinda night. Or day. And I won't complain about that.
Wishing your week's off to a happy start!

how fast.

They say it happens fast; I'm prone to say that it's heartbreaking. Every day Serkan or I moan about how heavy Rowan is getting. Tonight I started weeding through pictures. And even if it's not heartbreaking in any traditional sense, it still chokes me up. I'm past that super weepy stage called the baby blues, though I'm not sure I'll ever have the same stamina against tears.
Digression: The baby blues are blue, but they aren't all sad. Sometimes those tears are a form of happiness. And mostly those tears bubbling up from the depth and yet out of nowhere are the body's way of healing and dealing with the trauma of labor and birth. Add a storm of hormones, caring for a tiny life (especially if the closest you've ever come to caring for babies is watching classmates take care of their baby egg in grade school), little sleep and (maybe) the near inability to walk or stand up straight, and yeah, of course there'll be tears.  For the first few weeks after Rowan was born, I couldn't see kids having fun without bawling. As we left the pediatrician's office after Rowan's first visit, school was just breaking. Little people walked hand in hand with their parents toward home, or else they skipped or looked up at their mommies talking about their day. I thought of how someday those little ones would be Rowan, and I couldn't stop crying. I was crying so much, I couldn't even try to explain why I was crying. We had to go for a longer drive so I could cry it out. And let's just paint a clearer picture. My face was wet, yes, but real boo-hoo bawling was impossible post op. Crying, laughing and just about everything else in this life requires lots of tummy muscle.
So, Rowan used to be small. His arms and legs spindly. Now his legs are just rolls of plump happiness.
{r's first full bath at home, 17 days old}
He had lots of hair. A few weeks ago I thought, Man, he's losing his hair. Then I thought maybe he's not losing it, just getting a little bald spot from where he thrashes his head from side to side when he wants to eat or needs to poop. Looking through photos proves he lost lots of his strawberry blond hair (no idea where the strawberry came from).

{asleep, he really looks like hubby}
I still can't get through the pictures of him before we met without tearing up. His mouth in a howl, his fingers in his eyes, and his legs stuck by his ears from trying to come out butt first breech. Baby wanted to eat! But dad was there to snap photos and hold him after his hospital bath.

{papa and a swollen rowan before i met him, 1 hour old}
Fast forward to tonight. Rowan and I are at home, spending our first night alone together since birth. Papa is doing some white water rafting for work, apparently in the snow. While I try to put Rowan to sleep next to me and look at him and at photos from two months ago (bugger is two and a half months old now), I can't believe how big his cheeks are or how many chins. I can't believe that his onesies used to swim on him and most don't even fit anymore. Even looking at a belly pic a couple days after his due date is laughable; it doesn't even look real.

{2 days after the due date, and 3 days before rowan}
Now his smiles are expansive. He cracks up when he sees himself in the mirror--as of today. He's laughing in his sleep as I type this. It doesn't make sense to cry at these developments, I know. But it's the part about it happening so fast. Everybody tells you how quickly it all passes; I feel this life whooshing by trailing its colorful streak, and yet... It just happens all too fast.

p.s. I do know what's missing. Recent photos of Rowan's pudginess. I'm behind with photo organization and just about everything else. Will have more recent pictures soon. In the meantime I'll be figuring out a good photo sharing method or reinstate my Flickr. Until then, I'm Facebooking it. Feel free to friend me.

peace. what's different?

When you leave and return to a place, you notice things. Aside from the higher bridge tolls and higher sales tax. Almost 10%, really? New fangled ways of living.
  • Everybody owns an iPhone. 
  • (yet) It's illegal to talk on said iPhone while driving. 
  • The highways don radio signs (which slow traffic), advertising child abductions and the approximate times to various locations. 
  • Sometimes the radio signs mention that texting tickets can be $159+ so they aren't worth it.
  • There are texting tickets.
  • Pedestrians have to stop, push a button and wait for the green walky guy at random sections of sidewalk/driveway. 
  • Finding apartments is treacherous and include none of the utilities (not even sewage, people!)
  • Cell phone plans count the minutes of incoming calls in addition to outgoing calls.
  • You can have internet at home without owning a home phone.
  • Light bulbs. What can I say, you are completely different!

    • Meanwhile 880 is still a potholed ghetto highway, to be avoided (even though I live right off of it now).
    • Those precarious radio stations, like 92.3, still change every other week, while KFOG still thrums acoustic sunrise and sunset on Sundays and KZSM goes crazy about the blues every Friday night.
    • Happy revelers fly kites, play music and dance in the parks of San Francisco to celebrate spring.
    • My old good friends are still my good friends, even though it's been years since we've kept in touch regularly.
    • Peaceful moments are still peaceful moments. 

    Right now the sun's setting in our living room, streaking it shades of yellow and deepening orange. Rowan's asleep in his swing, which swishes rhythmically. Kids squeal in play and kick around a soccer ball down at the park across the way. Blackbirds and wrens chirp. I'm rocking in the glider and typing, about to get myself some tea. 

    on moving.

    After being here four months, we finally found an apartment and moved into it. This meant rediscovering everything that had been in boxes in my aunt’s garage for the past 3.5 years. And the stuff we’d carried with us from Chile. Not to mention packing and unpacking the stuff we’d accumulated since (re)arriving to California. 
    Anyway. During all this unpacking, I opened several old journals. Many starts lasting fewer than days with some tome-like miracles thrown in. I flipped through and read an entry here, a soppy digression there. At every new journal beginning and often in between, I lament the lack of storyline. What happened after August 23, 2005, and before January 7, 2009? Even though huge gaps glare at me from my past, I’m generally, momentarily, fascinated by what’s been noted. I feel like I’m snooping a peek into somebody else’s life. Have you ever felt like this looking back at your own writing?  
    So, what’s happened since December 2, 2010, since we entered the States. Even though I feel the urge to somehow fill in the blanks, I know the blanks aren’t all that interesting. A bulleted list can’t penetrate the psychology of a timeline. So, I start here. We are now three in our own place, and it feels good. 
    We have internet now, and that feels great. Let’s just say I’ve missed you all so much. Thank you for your lovely notes, comments and mail. I so look forward to catching up in the coming weeks. 
    Do you keep a journal? Regularly? And how do you manage it?


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