Debuting The Word: 2010 Edition

Much like last year, I am choosing one word to try to remember, act out, and otherwise incorporate into my life for the upcoming twelve months. And it is:


[nur-ish, nuhr-] Use nourish in a Sentence

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–verb (used with object)

1. to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth.


2. to cherish, foster, keep alive, etc.: He had long nourished the dream of living abroad.


3. to strengthen, build up, or promote: to nourish discontent among the workers; to nourish the arts in one’s community.

1250–1300; ME norisshe < OF noriss-, long s. of norir < L nūtrīre to feed; see nurse, -ish 2
Related forms:

nourishable, adjective

nourisher, noun

1. See nurse. 3. encourage, help, aid, back, advance.

3. discourage. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.
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 Knowing the issues we have had with BabyK’s  slow growing and endless testing and pointless doctor’s visits, you might think this idea is a little retro. So 2000 and late, as they say. But it’s not about him at all, really. Ha! I know you think I’m joking. But it’s about me. It’s about taking the time and the energy and the focus to try to build myself back up after this crazy roller coaster ride of motherhood has had its exhausting, draining, physically-altering way with me for the past 44 months.  (Really? Yes: 17 months of infertility, 9 months of gestating, 18 months of parenting)

What I hope for this year, what I am setting as my intention, is to replenish and build up and promote myself physically, creatively, intellectually, and spiritually. (Yes, that’s all. No biggie.) But I feel like we are at the point now where I can grab a little breathing room from this motherhood gig now and again, and if I don’t take the chance to put myself back on the agenda, I might just slip away entirely. Typing that, there is something deeply ingrained in me that says, “Not that there is anything wrong with that! Parenting is awesome! It’s the best! I want nothing more than to complete subsume myself into my child’s life!” Ahem. See what I mean?

A few weeks back I was decorating the house for Christmas and I actually had a moment of inspiration and creativity when I envisioned tying a ribbon between the posts of our bed and hanging snowflake ornaments from it. This might not make sense to you, or maybe it does and you think it would just be ugly and stupid, but it cost about $4 and maybe 8 minutes of my time to make happen and by golly I did just that. Those snowflakes make me smile every time I see them, not just because they pretty up my bedroom but because I had a creative spark and I caught it and held it and breathed into it until it became a happy little flickering light.

Friends, I cannot even really tell you how long it has been since that happened for me.

(Actually, the last gasp was probably a collaboration piece that happened in December 2007. Still. Before that it was becoming increasingly rare.)

I want to put myself back in the drivers seat of my life. I want to give myself what I need to be a functional, fulfilled, happy and productive person. I have realized that means a few things: Exercise. Adult conversation.  Creativity. Learning. I would like us all to eat better but realistically that is not my strength and I am making slow progress in that area that I would not like to overburden with the weight of an annual intention.

My problem with food lies not in the skills needed for preparation but in the desire, planning and time management skills required to make that happen. Believe it or not, but I have discovered the one thing I just cannot make myself care too much about. What I really want to have happen is for Mr. K to become fabulously wealthy and to hire a personal chef. Or, we will turn our backs on the Church and become renegade Mormons and when we finally get a sister-wife up in this hizzy I will make sure she is young and impressionable and skilled in the kitchen and lock her in there and throw away the key! Bwuahahaha! Sad, but this is a much more likely scenario than getting Mr. K to while away his gourmet hours making food that I actually want to eat. Seriously, what good are homemade hummus or crepes or chicken cacciatore to me? Blerg. I like it when he grills and when he makes scrambled eggs.  I wish I could become an indiscriminate eater but I can’t. I think I might be a super-taster.

That paragraph has almost nothing to do with this post. I need an editor. Volunteers?

I think it is very interesting that both the synonym and origin that they give is NURSE. Since that is what I am going to school to be, and also, since I am still nursing, if in a rather sporadic fashion, BabyK. I think we will be done in the next few weeks here unless something changes (by which I mean, we will probably be done nursing by his birthday, since he is sure to get another virus or something and demand to nurse all night.) I like nursing him. I like him. But I also like me, and I think it is my turn to nurture myself a bit.

So. There you have it. What’s your word for the year?


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Resting potential

I do not have time to be writing this post. Officially, declaratively, do not have time. I would tell you all the things I need to accomplish but I am sure that by the time I was done with that nap time would be over. So, why am I here? Becuase dear, dear light Scott posted a very excellent and inspiring post that actually got me a little fired up. Believe it or not, there isn’t a whole lot of fired up going on over here (what? with the complete lack of posting?! no way!) so I am trying to catch this little spark before it flies away.

Light Scott ponders: what is leadership? A talent? A skill? A calling? Can you run out? Fill up? Run up a deficit?

My theory today: it is a potential space. It is a capacity, it is something waiting to happen. When the right situation presents itself, that potential space expands and gets filled with energy. The downside being, at a certain point something changes, and that space actually begins to drain energy – from you, from the people around you, from the project or whatever you were serving. And what the hell are you supposed to do then? Well, I think you have to stop. Stop leading, stop draining energy, stop carving out space for this project to live. It might mean an afternoon away or it might mean years off doing something else. I think that a very great many organizations and projects and cultural institutions are damaged – sometimes irrevocably – by people who do not see that the energy is now flowing the other way and it is time to close that space off and let someone else whose potential space is ready to channel that energy step in. I didn’t want to be that kind of leader who is holding something back instead of pushing something forward, and so I stepped down. Where does that leave me, a nameless, slightly older student in a lecture of 400 people?  Am I still a leader? Am I called to do something?

I do think that I have a capacity for leadership that is … an asset. A skill. Ingrained to the point of being a personality trait, perhaps. I know that I am capable of being a really excellent, hard working follower, but only when the leader is someone I truly trust and respect. I don’t consciously lead for attention or power or personal gain, but generally because I can see what needs to be done, how it should be done, and get people on board (and keep them there) until it is getting done. When I can’t do that, I get very frustrated and really should just go. I lead to get things accomplished, and accomplished the “right” way.

So if I am not leading, what happens to that potential space? Today, and most of the past few weeks, actually, I have been trying to wrap my head around this. I know I am not my grades. I know that scoring perfectly on every test will not make me a better person, a more worthy person, or a more loved person. See how I can type that in English and it is perfectly understandable? Unfortunately, believing it is something else all together. So I  have been trying to go through the back door and say – but I am this! and this, and this, and therefore this number on the page does not accurately describe me as a person. I guess it’s kind of working, no panic attacks in the test yesterday, so there you go! On the other hand, it is very hard to define yourself as an adult in America without a career. Yes, I am a mother and it is the most important job in the world blah blah blah… from where I am standing now, that is a a vital, central part of me but it is not the entirety of my existence, and I think I am better at it when I have other work to do as well. But what is my work? I do feel called to lead, but still… lead what? lead who? lead where? I am fumbling in the dark with this one.

Sometimes, I sense that I have a calling. A life path. A story arc. Whatever you want to call it. I can’t see it, but I can feel it, just over there, waiting for me to turn the corner and figure it out. If leading were enough just in and of itself, I would still be doing what I was doing. That was plenty of decision making and responsibility, if not much money or glory. But it wasn’t the best fit, and the energy was draining so quickly that honestly,  I think it was best for everyone that I left when I did, if not sooner. Now I feel like I have been hollowed out by that experience, that there is a new and larger possibility there waiting for the right need, the right situation, the right call, and I am just going to have to wait until it finds me. In the meantime, I am going to have to build myself up so that I’m ready when I figure it out. I have a lot of knowledge to acquire, even if right now I really don’t know how I am going to use it. I think that I know this is going to take years to figure out, if only because there is a tiny person who needs me to be responsive and flexible and full of energy for him right now… and I think whatever happens, it is eventually going to be big. For me, if no one else.

As tired as I am, it kind of gets me excited to think about it. Whatever is coming next.

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Manufacturing Sunshine

While in general our new life is working out quite nicely, in specific this week has been very hard with the big tests and the death of sleep and the lovely head colds. I am sick, exhausted and, I will admit, slightly hormonal today. It is also raining and the house is cluttered and I want to do so many things but have the energy for… writing this post. 😉 In the spirit of positive thinking, I thought I would take a minute to dwell on the positives of our new schedule.

Positive #1: Starting our mornings off with hugs and good wishes from Grandpa Manny and Cousin Cleaner (and little cousin cleaner helpers)

Positive #2: Coming home to a clean house after a hectic Monday and finding a note on the counter that says, “Hope you had a great day! Love you!” from the Cousin Cleaner

Positive #3: Sometimes Grandpa Manny brings over special treats from Ye Olde Alma Mater, just for me

Positive #4: Friday Dance Party with Uncle Manny. Yes, this happens EVERY Friday. You wish you were that cool.

Positive #5: Having uninterrupted, adult conversations with my school peeps

Positive #6: Knowing that I am still as smart as I used to be, if a little more socially awkward

Positive #7: When I hit the wall (as happened this week) and just can’t take it anymore, Mr. K is stepping up to the plate in a serious way. This is not only good for me, but it’s awesome for BabyK and it is great to see them spending so much time together.

Positive #8: Apparently at some point this fresh pile of student loans and sleepless weeks will result in a new, prosperous and meaningful career doing something or other

Positive #9: People seem to know that this isn’t my first trip to college but they generally don’t guess my actual age (averaging 6 years younger!). This matters A LOT.

Positive #10: I no longer have to spend my time with BabyK trying to mop, disinfect and scrub. This makes a huge difference.

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Howdy, strangers

I started to write a big twisty post last week, and then got interrupted. Boy, are you lucky!! That post is not going to get resurrected. Perhaps because I have started school and am now much more concerned about psuedostratified columnar epithelial cells and lurking variables than with my daily dose of anxiety and angst, which seems like all good news for you.

So the short version goes like this:

August was a beautiful, beautiful month, despite the two week illness and frequent absence of Mr. K.

School has started and while it is definitely challenging I am, in fact, not an idiot. So far. And people are talking to me and sharing things with me and it is a little awkward and hesitant but so very nice.

I miss my baby. I think he misses me too. But I don’t miss him enough to be sad that he is now sleeping in his crib for naps and at least half the night. Crib sleeping! Napping! All from my child! Can you believe it??

I have finally, mostly let go of my first baby, a little non-profit art making endeavor that is now six years old. It is in the hands of the board and a truly fabulous new exec-direc who is also one of my dearest friends. It is kind of a little sad/awkward/giddy with freedom kind of time, but I watched the most recent show and actually, for half a minute, really felt very satisfied to say, this. This is my art. The whole shebang – the board members in the lobby in their tshirts, the choreographers sitting next to me, the beautiful, talented girls dancing their hearts out onstage… that was what I was really making. I was too close to see the whole picture before. Or maybe not just see it, but appreciate it. But it was time to go and they are going to grow and learn and flourish (and fail and disappoint and disagree, I’m sure) all on their own… which makes me feel like I did what I was supposed to do for them. Bittersweet and lovely and freeing.

This morning, I am like 90% sure that my twee son pointed his finger at me and said, ‘Sit Down!’ while I was encouraging him to do just that in his high chair. I have come to the conclusion that the little bugger is perfectly capable of talking but just doesn’t WANT to talk. He also occasionally signs ‘more’ when he is really hungry. He has given up on ‘all finished’ for some reason – probably because I can usually figure it out anyway.

Hopefully, in a few short weeks Mr. K’s awful project of doom will be reaching completion and he will be home at night. In the meantime, he is picking up the boy when I have school, and trying to make sure dinner happens those nights (leftovers tonight, but we’re starting small). This is tremendously reassuring and comforting and I think he is enjoying a little bit more time with his little man… or at least I hope.

It is quite possible to outsource many things. But of course, you have to be willing to manage a domestic staff. Our rather modest household now has a staff of three weekly or biweekly employees, not even counting the adopted grandparent who mannies for free. At what point we began living the lifestyle of the rich and famous, I have no idea. I do love the people who are helping us live a more calm and relaxed existence than we would otherwise have, people who are giving us time and energy to devote to each other and our work.

I hate to even admit this, but being at school for even a week has already made me a lighter, happier person. The shame in this admission comes entirely from my mommy shame, that I could even contemplate a happiness outside of his world, as all ‘good mommies’ must want nothing more than to delight in their children at least 22 hours of the day. My own truth is that I love him more than my life, and if he needs that much from me he will get it. However, he has a great time being cared for by people who genuinely love him while I am gone, and I have needs as a person that he can not meet, and can not be expected to meet. Perhaps the better mommies don’t have these needs or can meet them by themselves, but I was raised by a person who sometimes seemed like one giant gaping need that I could never ever meet and left me with a lifetime of shame for being such a ‘failure’. So I know exactly how a parents needs can twist and scar a child, and I will absolutely keep that from happening to him. I don’t need to be gone all day every day, and in fact, spent the entire day yesterday just chilling with him at home. I know it’s early in the semester to be making sweeping pronouncements, but our house feels so much closer to balance and I feel so much closer to… joy.

Which leads me to where the last post got all twisty and ranty and pro and anti feminist. So maybe I’ll stop right there and walk through my clean enough house and climb into my just empty enough bed and go to sleep.

Good night, everyone. Sleep tight.

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Today, I am:

Trusting: that I am good enough, I am smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me! (Yes, this is something of a stretch, but I’m hanging in there.)

Grateful: that I am a stay at home mom in the age of technology and can hang out in a virtual community when I can’t hang out in a real one. Also, that people are happy to hang out with me, period.

Inspired: BabyK just *might* have settled into a new schedule, one with a nap in a crib and everything!! The thought of having a dependable naptime again is filling me with excitement and possibility, and also makes me that much calmer about the fall and our 3 caretaker situation. Not mention keeping the house that much cleaner.

Tonight, we may very well pack ourselves up and take off for that most American of summer pleasures: the county fair! Hoping of course that Mr. K has a decent enough day at work that he will make it home at a reasonable hour and be up for some play time.

Wishing you all the most wonderful of weekends!

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This is NSFW unless you work at Planned Parenthood, where they are probably streaming it 24/7. But is awesome and much more deserving of your eyeballs than that nasty peephole video. Fo shizz. Also, babies dancing to this song are adorable. Just sayin’.

Best line: “It’s cool if she’s powerful, but way better if she’s cute.”


Once again from Broadsheet at Salon, my providers of all vag-related content. 🙂

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Mystery Writer

I once thought that I had found the opening line of my first novel, and it was this: Every marriage is a secret.

I never wrote that novel (or at least I haven’t yet) but I still think of that line sometimes. And it still rings true to me. The second sentence of my novel was this: Sometimes, they are secrets even to the people who inhabit them.

I met Mr. K when I was 14 years old. Our relationship started some months later when I, daring as only a 15 year old girl can be and apropos of nothing at all, professed my love for him to his shocked and stunned silence. 24 hours later, that love was requited with the revelation that he had fallen swiftly and completely in love with me in a moment shortly after we met. Roughly one month into our romantic relationship, we decided we should get married. And that was – sort of – that.

It is a good marriage. It has sometimes been a wonderful marriage, a bleak marriage, a happy marriage, a sad marriage. It has been bruised, battered and attacked. It has been filled with joy, nourishing and healing. I have tried to do my best by it.

Right now, it is a very mysterious marriage. Having a child has changed it, and us, in myriad ways and I am still feeling blindly for its shapes and contours. What is in it? What comes out of it? What does it need?

And sometimes, how did I get here? Where did this come from?

I feel quite certain that finding my husband at such an early age is the number one cause of my relative sanity now. Without him, I am not at all sure that I could have weathered the storms of my family and remained as mostly whole as I am. But on the other hand, the insanity of his family has broken me down into so many fractured pieces that I am still trying to put together. So that is maybe a wash.

I don’t think there is any room to debate that our largest blessings are also our largest burdens. The rare gift of this love has definitely been both to me. I am not at all certain that I was ready for it. When I think about what I wish for BabyK, I don’t think I would wish love upon him so early. I did the best I could, but there were hearts that were bruised and broken along the way. I have let friendship go too far, let attachments form that could not continue. Truthfully, I did love those boys – and boys they were, then. But it wasn’t enough to compete with the love I already held. What is unconscionable is that I let them love me too. I regret it. I wish I had been strong enough and mature enough to step back, cut ties. At the time I was enjoying them too much to let go. If they think of me, and perhaps from time to time they do, I hope they know that.

I want to say something here that may be a bit countercultural. Or at least unusual. In the most intimate, physical moments of my marriage, I don’t regret at all that there is only the two of us. No memories, no hauntings, no comparisons. I have never had to worry that he is remembering someone else’s techniques or the feel of another skin. I do sometimes wonder how he remembers the body I used to have and what he thinks about the body I have now. But it is a relief and a comfort to know that that space belongs only to the two of us. If love had come later, I feel fairly certain that would not be the case, at least for me. Maybe I would feel differently in that circumstance, but it’s impossible to know that from where I stand now.

Perhaps it is selfish of me, but I can’t regret the knowledge that there were other options, other choices, other lives that could have been lived. When I look back and see that the road I have traveled was in fact forked and curving rather than straight, I feel reassured that I did in fact, have a choice. I have chosen the same man time and time again. I created this life and this marriage and I can continue to shape it and change it.

At the same time I have been shaped and changed by my marriage. I hope that I am only better for it, but there’s no real way to tell. I am myself and also part of something else, something larger than either of the people involved. A few months ago a friend and I were talking about his relationship and what he wanted from love. He said that he wanted a love that overflowed and made everyone around them feel comfortable and loved and accepted. The kind of love that drew people near and held them close. Like you guys, he said. People are attracted to you because of the way you love each other.

I don’t know if that’s really true or if the facet of our life that reflects on him just happens to contain that spark. We certainly like to bicker and I can’t imagine that’s very attractive. But it’s a lovely idea. A lovely ideal. So much more worthy and possible than what we find in books and movies and dreams of overwhelming, life changing passion. I don’t think I believe in that kind of romance any more. I think it’s largely a constructed event, one that gives way to real life and real problems and real love. Is that settling? Maturing? I have no idea, but I’ve built my life on that position and it seems fairly stable, if not so glamorous.

So while it may seem that 14 years of love – six of them married – must have revealed every surprise, it seems to me that my marriage is more of a secret to me than ever. My husband is more unknown. I myself am somewhat undefined and undiscovered. Perhaps this is the crucial choice – to continue to explore, to recognize the unknown and enter it, or to leave it alone and let secrets become distance and distance become apathy. Such a task could certainly take a lifetime if you let it. I think I might.

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