The sky was clear

I am finding it almost impossible to get back into writing on this blog. Every time I'm about to I think -- I can't start again after silence for months with something as mundane as listing strategies for studying while taking care of a 20-month old. (And I don't mean that these are two things you need to devote time to in your life, but actually during, like taking notes Winter's Tale on construction paper while a toddler scribbles next to you, for example). So as is often the case for me I have various pieces...a post I started...pages in my journal...notes in marker on construction paper...and I can't seem to compile them. I mean literally I can't get them all in the same place at the same time. 

Like right now she is napping in the room where I left the journals and the paper. Petra is right now screaming Mommy, Mommy but she woke up too soon from her nap and I'm hoping she'll go back because otherwise she gets up and she's just cranky and miserable so what is the point? So I'm waiting her out but the sound, not fully drowned out by the now inappropriate Sufjan Stevens Holiday album is making me a bit anxious and I'm afraid it's seeping into a rather manic style of writing.

The other day I finally for the first time followed through on my plan from last May to jog from Petra's daycare home. And on the way I was thinking how jogging alone without anything - no headphones, no podcast, no ipod, no running partner, no TV at the gym - is one time you are really forced into contemplation. That can happen with a soundtrack, too, but it's shaped by the soundtrack, whereas without it your thoughts take a more organic path. (The last ten seconds of this song "No One Can Save You From Christmas" sounds like Sigur Rós.) Within a few minutes I was jogging past Arturo's on Houston where I lost my blue sweater after a Kenny's Castaway gig where we first played Return to Guatemala. A few minutes later I passed Carmine street where I lived during 14 years ago with Kara above the UnOppressive Non-Imperialist Bookstore. On the other side are the little parks I played in with Wally last summer in between dropping Petra at daycare before dropping him at the YMCA camp. It was a throwback, to have that time in the playground just the two of us. The MacDougal-Bleeker corner is so depressing. None of the cafes Neeta and I used to love during our winter term are there anymore, and two of the four corners are empty. Next careful not to slip on black ice moved past the cozy top-floor ship-like apartment of my playwright professor from last term, then past Tartine where in spring once I drank rosé with Vince.

I don't know why I'm still listening to a Christmas station on pandora, but I think it has something to do with not recording the events of the past few months. There have been all these things in the past few days too that Wally said that I meant to write down and then when I have the time I can't remember it's just gone. I tell myself it will come back at some other time, but so far they haven't. 

It felt great to study so hard in the fall. I was aware of a lot of pressure and a certain kind of anxiety, but one that is tangible and tolerable. It just became really obvious to me why people pour themselves into their work and how relaxing that is in many ways. How that clear, all-consuming goal is so distracting and makes it much easier to fall asleep.

So I am beginning here again on January 15 an hour before I'll go get Wally from the bus, with Petra back asleep, with my classes just beginning again, with a little bit of time before I head to 17th-century in the Bronx and to Paradise always already lost. A little time before I pack my backs for Carolina. And here, from a few earlier days.

Jan 5

We should probably take our tree down. The Empire State is red and green tonight - I wonder what it's for. Tomorrow is the 12th day of Christmas, right? That might make sense. The Epiphany, Three Kings Day. We never had a tree growing up in our house because we always went to my grandparents'. Or I should say almost never - one Christmas Dara and I were both sick so we did not make it over the river and through the woods. That year I think my parents did get a tree? Or something resembling one. I got the Magical Musical Thing from Mattel. It was amazing. There was one button on there that made a sound exactly like the buzzer to our apartment. Heather and I loved tricking people with it. 

Magical Musical Thing

Last week I brought Wally to that apartment complex. We moved away when I was just about his age. I remember my parents telling us at dinner one night that my mom got a new job (the librarian at our elementary school) and that meant we'd be able to move to a bigger place. I surged up from the table and threw myself down on the floor sobbing. 

Did I already tell that story on this blog? I don't remember now. This spring it will be five years since I started it and lately, clearly, I've lost any kind of continuous storyline if there ever was one. I don't even know when the last time I wrote here reliably, probably before Petra was born, and she'll be two in April. 

I'm listening right now to the Dublin Gospel Choir sing Oh Holy Night, but I'm also writing. Do you ever sit and just listen to music? Not youtube where you are watching something at the same time and not background music when you're doing something else even eating dinner. Just listening to music. I hardly ever do it, and it's not lack of time. I have time. Keeping up with full time grad school, my graduate assistantship and my kids made it apparent just how much time I do have. 

I have to write the rest of this tomorrow. Something is calling me to send it out into the universe tonight even though it's only just begun. I guess sort of just wondering if I'll hear the echo of my own voice if I do. 

Jan 7
That was two nights ago. I posted it. Then I took it down. Reverted to a draft. It was only a draft, a fragment, a beginning, the part of the blog that after it's posted is the part that should be removed. But removing it would mean finding another way to begin. Because how I begin, most times, is in the present moment. The tree long past its prime (we promised Wally he could have it until the 8th), the white wine my friend brought over this afternoon—"whatever was on sale at Astor Wines"—the sound of Alex reading with Wally. They are reading Amelia Bedelia, which I always pronounced with the emphasis  on the second syllable whereas Wally emphasizes the third. It gives it a completely different sound, less clumsy seeming. 

I'm making sweet potato muffins with a leftover sweet potato from dinner. I felt so bad giving Wally the same sunflower butter half sandwich with a piece of fruit day after day and maybe string beans that never got unwrapped. The muffins were so easy - whole wheat flour, applesauce, a little sugar, cinnamon, vanilla...

The days have been moving at a nice slow pace. Even with company all weekend and various neighbors in and out Sunday and today. I have the evenings to myself mostly now, after cleaning up, various stray items to attend to like anybody else, a check to send or quick grocery-store run. The evenings stretch out ahead of me full of possibility...books or movies or letters or hot milk and early to bed (the last option always sounds so inviting but is one I almost never choose). 

Jan 8
Trying to be adults and get up earlier now. Working out much better except today Wally got up at 5:08, which was much earlier than we meant. We sang together in his bed. I asked him if he remembered when I used to sing him train songs every night before he went to sleep. Then we started singing "I've been working on the railroad" and at one point I thought - it's weird that this song has Dinah in it and so does that song about "Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah" and he laughed and said that's the same song. 

If you sleep more at night you'll live longer, but does it add up to the same amount of hours awake?

Yes I know, this isn't finished, it's not "ready" to send out, even as a blog post. But I have to send it. Otherwise I don't think I'll ever get myself to begin again. It's the slowest jog wearing pajamas and dirty sneakers where you are already out of breath after 6 minutes and have to stop holding your splitting side before you even get to the place you really wanted to run, the beach or the park or the river, but at least you got outside and started moving, at least you're breathing hard in the cold air, and when you finally catch your breath and look around and look up, the sky is clear.


  1. This sounds random but...when you lived with Kara on Carmine Street...did she have black curly hair and teach Pilates?

  2. when I read your posts I feel like i'm reading about myself. I have journals for both of my kids that I keep just to write down the great things they say...and then I am constantly wishing I had written something down that I forgot, guilting myself, etc. and I find notes all over my house, with post subjects for my blog. love your writing Rachel!

  3. so so nice to get this comment today Holly...thank you...


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