Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring Concert with soprano and bass

Yesterday, I was wondering where all the fulfillment is that those parenting ads promise.  The kids bickered all afternoon, and all through dinner.  Time-outs were issued.  Threats made. Desserts rescinded.  Screen time nixed.  And yet the insults, the screaming, the crying, the pulling of the hair, the swatting of the bodies continued.  I had no other option but to take my book ("How to be Idle"), with tea and cookies in the conservatory while they duked it out.  And it wasn't even amusing squabbling either, not about evolution, god, or the afterlife, just bland stuff. Frankly, I don't even think I ever knew what it was about.

And it turned one's mind to foster care.  You know?  What about foster care?  Just a weekend.  I could pretend to be high, and then pull myself together real quick.  I know some good families taking foster kids right now. 

But it turned out to be Coyote's First Grade Musical night.  Why do they always plan these things for after he needs a haircut and right before he gets one?!  Not this time:  I subjected that kid to the fastest, crookest shave possible.  It was like a sheep sheering contest and when it was done I flung up my hands and looked for the score cards to show my standing.   He'll need a secondary trim this evening.  But at least we could see his eyes.  The hair in front of them was gone and I hadn't poked them out, even though he was sure I would and squirmed enough to make it likely.

And then we got in the car and they fought the whole way to school, where we met Huck, and I buried my head in his chest and begged him to take me far from here.  But instead we went in and sat on folding chairs which looked like they might spontaneously fulfill their mission while you were using them.

And suddenly: there was Coyote, gleaming in his white button down shirt, tucked in to gray pants, and goofing off like crazy with all his friends.  Coyote, as you might glean from his name, is a rabble rouser. Every time I see that kid at school, he's organizing some rebellion or sneak attack.  I was so proud and so smiley that my teeth and lips dried up and I got stuck open.  There!  YES!  That is the reward!  Watching your son push his teacher's buttons and create mayhem among the children.  THAT, my friends, is the pay off.  I was so glad to see he had friends.  It's been a long, hard struggled and he won.

And then they stood up there on the risers and sang Rhyme-in-Time plus a bunch of Raffi songs which the people behind us found hilarious and I was thinking "Um... haven't we all just spent the past six years singing these ad nauseum until we long for death to all our senses, in particular our hearing?"  But "O loke to ote ote ote opples and bononos" was knee-smacking funny in the row behind us.

And then... and then... I saw all those kids up there... in their Sunday best... smiling and singing their hearts out.  And I saw all these weddings, and births, and funerals, and graduations, and firsts and lasts, all the big big moments.  A lifetime of big moments for all 65 kids up there.  And I just fell apart.  I wept.  I am not one for the weeping.  But it was so intense and overwhelming and beautiful and perfect and sad and simply amazing.  I tried to hold it together.  I choked down my louder sobs.  But the rush of emotion was so intense, the tears just shoved their way out, rammed down the walls of my stubborn Dutch stoicism and poured down my cheeks.

And Oh! There was Coyote.  Happy incarnate.  And clean.  I could see his eyes.  His freckles.  His perfect soul reaching for the high notes.

Check out that bow!

And then it was over.  Some kid barfed, of course.  And we all went home.
And I felt as mercurial as the spring weather.  Sunshine now.  Storms again. And then a long long rain (or snow, whatever, it's supposed to be rain).

As I tucked him in to bed, he says, "Wasn't that a great concert, mom?"  "Oh yes."  "Didn't I do a great job, mom?"  "Oh yes."  "I really liked that."  "Me too."

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Grim Reaper at Lincoln City
It's spring and in spring one's mind naturally turns towards death, as snowdrops turn their droopy heads toward the compost they sprung from.  I don't know why death is so dear to me lately.  Since high school, when our school's smartest and snarliest guy went all blase about someone's dear relative's death and drolled, "Death is just as much a part of life as life is,"  I've understood this concept.  And I have contemplated it in detail.  For what is life for, other than thinking about death?  I am no aimless wanderer, I know just where all of this living is headed.  I know where I am going and I think it behooves me to spend most of my journey contemplating exactly that.  I'm kidding.  Living, is just as much a part of death as death is.  So, now we've figured out the destination but I'm still not sure which road I'm taking to get there.  But I seem to be getting closer anyway.  Maybe death is more of an as-the-crow-flies thing instead of an as-they-slapped-down-the-roads issue.

I've thought a lot about death.  Not what comes after.  There's no point in thinking about that.  This doesn't keep my children from constantly arguing about it, however.  While other people's kids fight over the remote control, mine come to blows over the afterlife.  We had another round just this Tuesday, as a matter of fact. Blue: nothing.  Coyote: heaven.  Blue: nothing.  Coyote: god. 

Actually, I have thought about what comes after death, a pointless exercise or not.  I just can't help myself. 
And I've thought about how I'll die. Usually, what happens is, I get a runny nose.  And my differential goes like this: Lou Gehrig's?  Ebola? Alzheimers?  Cancer? pre-cancer?  I can usually talk myself down to "cold" but it might take an hour or two.  Maybe it will be an industrial accident and that's why I don't want to go to work.  Anyway, thinking about how I'll die is also kind of pointless.  Thinking itself seems kind of pointless, frankly.  But that never seems to stop me for doing it, and doing it too much.  Perhaps THAT's what makes people go cross-eyed.

But back to death,  I think lots of other pointless and ineffectual things about death.  Such as how come we seem so opposed?  Why do we keep making it legally impossible?  Between the FAA and dragged out death scenes that go on for years, and sometimes decades, it seems the one thing we Americans can't tolerate is death. 

And also, I think about why death exists at all.

Maiden, Mother, Crone
Of course, just like everyone else on this planet, I don't relish enduring the death of a loved one. Ick.  And I don't really like to imagine them enduring my death, if they really love me like they say they do.  And I tend to be superstitious about it.  I don't imagine that in most cases it is pleasant to endure, whatever part you're playing.  It's the suffering associated with it.  It's the missing.  And the finality. No one can make amends then.  No one can say that one last important thing.  And I fear and dread that aspect of it.  The going-on when it's over for a part of you.  So other than death totally sucking and being perhaps the worst part about life,  there are other things to think about it. 

I can think a lot of things about a lot of topics, as you can probably tell, but sometimes after thinking about something, reasoning it out, coming to logical conclusions (I did get a 4.0 in Logic) or not so logical, the truth of what I've thought-out will wash over me as an emotional/spiritual wave.  And I'll suddenly get it, like a religious experience: oh my god! That's true!  And I'll feel it all over, in all my buzzing little cells.

Death of a Ruddy Duck Pinata.

And that's death for me right now. I am so very thankful for death.  Death is perhaps one of the greatest miracles (after living, of course) that any of us will ever take part in.  Death is amazing.  Death has done me well.  A) It's made room for me here.  Imagine 14 billion people on this planet.  Nope.  I never would have been born.  And maybe my existence is great or not-so-great to you, but that's all pointless to contemplate.  I'm here now and I've managed to find a way to think that's pretty cool, and I think you should too.  B) Every thing I eat is dead.  Plants, mostly.  All dead. And they all grew from dead things.  I'm out in my garden for hours every day now and I'm up to my elbows in death.  Planting little seeds in it.  Cute, ookey-bookey, lil' seeds.  And killing quack grass, evil serpentine quack grass  C)  I am totally 100% post-consumer recycled product. I am ABC gum.  Everything in me has already been caught, devoured, and released.  And here I am. 

And I feel it.  I stretch out on my spring dirt.  I make full-body contact with it.  I lay in my garden rows, and I feel that dirt all along me.  And that glorious death.  A riot of death.  A hootenanny of death.  A bosom of death.  Ahhh... bury me alive... in all this death...but leave a little air hole for now.


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