Friday, February 11, 2011

The legislative alert I posted yesterday is so ugly, not just aesthetically but ugly because it makes me feel frantic and hangs over my head like a sword of Damocles.

I drove around in my car all day yesterday on the brink. I woke up with the intention to not be sharp with my children, to make their lunches sweetly and to kiss them sweetly and say I love you as they skipped off to school. What I landed up doing was yelling that I was so tired of picking up the wet towels from last night! and I can't believe you're actually sneaking around with the iPod Touch when I told you not to use it during the week! and a final shout of WHY CAN'T WE HAVE A PEACEFUL MORNING FOR ONCE?  When I dressed Sophie, who had not been to school all week because of the flu, I lamented in front of her that it is so hard to dress you and not get any help (this said as I tried to pull her skinny jeans over her foot which was arched back because she doesn't relax her muscles properly, a bit of cerebral palsy). She just stared at me with her big, dark pools of eyes and I hustled her out of the house. On the way to her school, her aide texted me that she was sick and maybe I didn't want to bring Sophie to school and that little text, that I read at a red light halfway to the school, my salvation, drove me to tears. Bitter, angry tears of self-pity. I can't take it anymore, I thought and glanced at myself in the mirror. Bitter and angry, I looked, and it was startling. I took Sophie to school and handed her into the arms of her teacher and learned that due to budget cuts IT WAS A MINIMAL DAY, so I needed to be back at the school by noon which as far as I'm concerned was like preschool hours -- drop them off and turn around and go back. Tomorrow, the teacher added, is also a minimum day and your aide is on furlough.

I hate Los Angeles Unified School District, is what I thought. I entertained the hate, the feeling it gave me and while not entirely unpleasant -- because there is a smugness to rage that is seductive -- I


I won't bore you with the rest of the day I had yesterday -- the telephone conference calls for my job, my trip to Trader Joe's where I saw a woman, the mother of one of the boys' old classmates, a woman who I haven't seen in ages and whom I barely know, who said to me as I perused the bagged salads, Hello! and when I turned around she said, I knew that beautiful profile! and so strong is my pathetic-ness these days, my vanity, my barely holding it together-ness, that I whimpered a bit to her, WITH TEARS, and thanked her for the compliment. And then I proceeded to blather on, right there in the cheese and produce section about how unmoored I am, how I've plunged into this rut and can't find my way out and how this compliment, these sweet words -- and she finished my sentence:

You'll take them! And she smiled and we laughed and commiserated and then awkwardly broke the intimacy and finished our shopping.

Weirdly enough, I felt happy, then. And when I picked the boys up from school later that day, we stopped and got donuts -- glazed donuts -- and one had a small sprinkling of bacon on it, and who doesn't like a bacon donut? (actually, me -- it was disgusting)


  1. i love the rawness and honesty of this post. i want to reach through this screen and put my arms around you and tell you it will be okay, but the woman in the grocery aisle already did that, letting you know how beautiful you are and how loved. you are loved dear Elizabeth, and it's okay to feel like this sometimes because sometimes that is what gets us to the next moment.

    funny, i have been musing on those phrases in classical literature that suggest the outlets women had in days of yore, phrases like "she took to her bed" and the idea of "the vapors" and my friend ellen reminded me also of "the fainting couch." All those sound wonderful to me right now, but the best thing of all is knowing I am not alone.

    And that's what I want to say to you, dear Elizabeth. You are not alone. We are here, holding you close when you need it. You are walking a hard road, but as you once wrote here, to my great comfort that day, "it was much, but it was not too much."

    Bless you, beautiful lady. You're such a good mom. I look into your children's faces and I know.

  2. I too feel unmored and a bit frantic, but I find that now and then I need to just feel it. Let it wash over me, reach out for help, cry a bit, and then let it go. We're frightened. There are serious threats to our children. I am terrified about what "budget cuts" will mean for my girl. I've written letters and made phone calls, but mostly I feel helpless. So I keep informed, focus on what's good, and reach out through the internet to connect with other parents who understand the same level of fear I live with day in, day out.

    thank you for sharing this with us

  3. Elizabeth, there is no way for me to tell you how beautiful I think you are. And when you "let go" and let the words come to tell us about it, you are all the more beautiful and your humanness, your ability to get up even as you are letting go knocks me to my knees.

  4. It is SO HARD to let it go sometimes but it feels much better when you do, doesn't it? I have to laugh at myself sometimes when I find myself yelling, "Stop yelling at me! I hate it when you yell all the time!"

  5. Elizabeth,
    How did you just do this?

    your writing completely does me in.

  6. I feel like you are in my head with this post. You perfectly captured those moments when it is all too much and we are dangerously on the brink....

    I'm glad you ran into and were honest wiht the woman in the grocery store. She pulled you back from the brink. Someone always does.

    Or at least someone always has so far

  7. Oh Elizabeth. I do not know how you manage. Sometimes fate is on your side and presents you with something like a kind and generous person right at the moment you needed her.

  8. If it helps, I reposted the information from your blog on my FB page and urged everyone I know to take action.

    If it helps, I am sending you love and light from way up here in the cold Pacific NW.

    If it helps, I hope that today is a better day and that you know your efforts are not in vain.


  9. Wait, the bacon doughnut was disgusting? We're fucked.

  10. I think you are a very brave person. Just read an article, Teachings on Bravery, by Pema Chodron and her words came to mind as I read your post.

    What produces a genuine person is being open to not feeling okay.

    Becoming more in touch with ourselves gives birth to enormous appreciation for the world and for other people. It can sound corny, but you feel grateful for the beauty of the world.

    And it all comes from touching that shakiness within and being willing to be present with it.

    Pema Chodron

    That said, I am sorry about your tough day and mostly, I am sorry about that donut.

  11. I am with Shanna on this, because some days all we have is the (literal or proverbial) bacon doughnut -- are you sure it sucked? I'm sorry for your crap day. I don't think it was a coincidence that your sweet (and observant) friend was in your path!

  12. So. So. Sorry. I wish I could help. But I know I can't. Or maybe I could. Let me know. We could at least do another blogger night out soon, I could certainly use it too.

    And I must say, I'm dying to know where you got that bacon donut.

  13. Thanks for posting this. I relate. Mornings are the hardest for me. Thanks again.
    And I can appreciate the bacon doughnut as well ... is it just me or is bacon going into all kinds of foods that it shouldn't lately?! Bacon chocolate was about it for me - now I'm a vegetarian (on most days).

  14. I love your candidness. Me? I've never been known to refuse bacon on anything.

    (love Angella's heartfelt comment and so agree)

  15. This is my life as well. And what's with these school days? The Boy goes to private. The Baby public. They have half days all the time but never on the same day. They have days off all the time but never on the same day. And one more thing? Bacon on donuts? Never herd of it.

  16. I often feel this raw and don't have the energy to post.

    Thanks for making me feel more normal.

    We are all superwomen. xo

  17. Been there, done that. You need more help with Sophie and I know there isn't such a thing in California right now. Wish I could help sweetie.

    Don't let the bastards grind you down.

  18. On another note, somebody sent me this funny.

    Dear Scissors,

    I feel your one wants to run with me either.

    Sarah Palin

    Feel better?

  19. I love your stream-of-consciousness posts. I know it was not a happy morning, but your description of it had me laughing out loud, because what mother doesn't know the resolve to be kinder, nicer, more patient - and what mother has not had that resolve blow up in her face a few moments into the day? It was funny because it's true - true of all of us, at some point, in our own ways.
    I'm sorry that it's so darn difficult some days. I'm thankful that you met an "angel" when you needed one in the store. You are beautiful - and kind, funny, generous and valiant, too.

  20. I'm not so good at voicing the difficult things. You are. And you make a semblance of sense about them - if sense can ever really be made.

  21. Oh Elizabeth I've had those days (too many) where I yell and yell all morning and then am saved later by a kindness or just an opportunity to acknowledge aloud to another person how shitty things are sometimes. I love that her sweet words and kind ear lifted a bit of the weight of it all. There is just too much to be concerned about right now and you are so good at writing about it all.

  22. Oh those days, I have been there. So easy to slip into the rut when things just are always harder than we think they should be. Getting dressed is a trigger at our house too, and man....

    I love how a simple kindness can turn things around.

    And I seriously just saw your face in Carrie's comments and thought "what a great face." So it's not just the profile.

  23. i feel you.
    that edge of separation. where the people around us seems to be in a cohesive groove, as we hang by a thread. and we look imploring into this world that seems so intact and capable...and wonder, do they even know how close we are to falling from the face of it all?

    oh elizabeth i wish i could lift you up high enough, above the weight of life so you could see how tied you are to beauty, love, courage, compassion. so you could see that you are all these polestars and more.

    i love you.

  24. Of course your writing has us all RIGHT THERE with you in these moments, which we can all relate to in one degree or another. Isn't it amazing how the small miracle of one human being reaching out with a kind word or gesture can turn the tide of misery, a little? I wonder what would happen if we all did this, if we were that sensitive to the hurts around us, every day. It reminds me of that poem you posted. The one about the people freezing and burning and nobody noticing...

  25. I wish I read this the day that you posted since I'm sure so much has happened since then, that this is all but yet another day in the life. Still...I LOVE this post! You are able to capture so much depth and mundane, and swirl it together the way life really works. Your writing is a breath of fresh air, every time.

  26. I also wake up with good intentions. What happens to those sweet good intentions once I get up from bed?!



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