There is an art to this by Christina Rosalie

There is an art to this. To waiting, to being present in uncertainty when moments are only whatever it is that they are until the next moments arrive.


Today writing terrifies me. It terrifies me because of the way these stories last, the way we tell ourselves stories in order to be who we are, to become who we are becoming. It makes me ache, to see the small uncertain snapshot of myself as I am right now: here at the dining room table, in a room so humid the pencil digs into the soft pulp of the paper like a finger nail scratching at mosquito bitten skin.

Outside it is pouring and green and warm. Water drips from the gutters in irregular staccato and farther out the rain falls steadily with a rushing noise that fills the valley, the house, the sky with sound. Upstairs, in his crib, my son is sleeping, likely on his belly with his cheek pressed softly into the matted sheepskin he’s slept on since the day he was born. He’ll sleep for another hour and then wake and my day will circle about again, and I will become something less productive and possibly more real.

In thirty years what will these moments mean?

Today I re-read, slowly, meticulously, intentionally, every line Joan Didion’s piece, “On Going Home,” examining each comma, each particular use of parenthesis, each use of metaphor and observation, and found myself nearly in tears at this last paragraph, knowing as I know, that her daughter died at 39.

It is time for the baby’s birthday party: a white cake, strawberry-marshmallow ice cream, a bottle of champagne saved from another party. In the evening after she has gone to sleep, I kneel beside the crib and touch her face, where it is pressed against the slats, with mine. She is an open and trusting child, unprepared for and unaccustomed to the ambushes of family life, and perhaps it is just as well that I can offer her little of that life. I would like to give her more. I would like to promise her that she will grow up with a sense of her cousins and of rivers and of her great-grandmother’s teacups, would like to pledge her a picnic on a river with fried chicken and her hair uncombed, would like to give her home for her birthday, but we live differently now and I can promise her nothing like that. I give her a xylophone and a sundress from Madeira, and promise to tell her a funny story.

What can I promise? What do these moments hold?

Today, this: by Christina Rosalie

What is it to feel unrealized, other than strangely exquisite? It is the soul's plea to matter. It is the exhausting submersion of caring for others, sometimes at the expense of our own creative spark. It is age and mortality settling upon us like a kneading cat, prodding us to Hurry up and do something. Make something. Be something.

From the exquisite, talented Kate at Sweet|Salty

It's this same voice in my head that drives me to do crazy things like declare my NaNoWriMo goal, and to long with my clunky, wanderlust heart to hang glide someday; live somewhere far from here; to keep doing things that terrify me, or are hard, or are brand new. Because if not this, now, then what? Tomorrow might be dust. Tomorrow might anything. But today, this. We hold it in our hands.

And also this: two cups of french press coffee + cream and a new friend = a very good thing.

At the coffee shop: almost a poem by Christina Rosalie

She walks out the door ahead of him; long white hair blowing into her face as a truck barrels past. I watch as she turns back toward the door, and at first her face is carelessly content; then she sees him and her features soften almost imperceptibly. She looks up to where he’s paused there on the landing, readying himself to tackle descending the stairs. Does she know that he is dying? Does he? He has the same sparrow like grasp and yellow skin my father had when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The same hunched shoulders in a flannel shirt. The same slow deliberate effort to carry on with the minutia of the day. Coffee in a paper cup; the laces of his leather boots tied in double knots.

He holds the metal rail and takes each step at a time. Then he puts his palm on her shoulder, and they turn, go.

Unbidden, there are tears.

Across the street I watch a man in a wool jacket gather small bouquet of chrysanthemums and yellow leaves. At the edge of the park he pauses for a moment, then tucks them into the slats of a metal bench and walks on.

Media Record Day 2 by Christina Rosalie

Me & the Bean
Started off on media bistro this morning, and found my way here. Again apropos. I like how even here, in the seeming chaos and of the Internet, like attracts like, and patterns emerge.

Later my mother sent me a link to this fascinating review of Winifred Gallagher's Rapt; a book I now very much want to read.

From there the day fragmented into lots of email, a little twitter, and thankfully a lot of writing. (Saw this post, via Twitter, and started wondering is conflict essential to all good fiction?

What do you think? I am very interested in hearing your ideas on this...

Also watched So You Think You Can Dance, which I adore, because as I've said here before: if I could have a talent bestowed upon me, it would be the ability to dance.

It was a roller coaster day though. Storm clouds, indecisive rain, sallow sun, moods getting tossed all around our house. One of those days where everything seemed annoying: Bean's loud sing song voice, the way he is inclined to DASH everywhere lately, Sprout's new inclination to spit up gallons of sour milk without any warning whatsoever, the never ending dampness that has become this summer, and one too many issues with the poultry (the chicks escaped again--and the same hoopla of chasing them around a very sharp pine tree in the rain, in the mud, that occurred two days ago, took place again today.)

It should also be noted, as somewhat of a highlight, that our goose hatched a baby chick today. Chick, as in chicken. Long story. I'm not sure if it will survive. Something in me isn't quite sure she'll know how to mama a baby that small and fluffy (I'll post pictures tomorrow!) but when I checked on her this evening the little chick was tucked in on her back, at the nape of her neck, peeping away. She's still sitting on two other eggs. Here's to seriously hoping she'll figure it out. I've kind of had enough poultry drama for a while.

Honestly it was one of those days where I kind of wished I lived somewhere utterly urban: full of angles and elbows, people wearing black, umbrellas, pointy shoes, bustling bodegas, sharp lines, bright lights. I'd happily settle willingly for anywhere sunny though. Then I could throw a garden party just like this (found via a friend on facebook.)

What were your media moments today?

Media Record Day 1 by Christina Rosalie

Here is a record, more or less of the media I interacted with today: The continuation of a hysterical email exchange with my dear girlfriends about married names and given names and choosing names. One of my friends is marrying a man who happens to have the same name as her, minus a syllable. You can see how this might get tricky.

Another email exchange with some amazing friends about their reading habits, re: fiction or memoir? (Weigh in please!)

Visiting and revisiting twitter and still not quite getting how such a multi-directional, utterly dislocated conversation with a thousand different people going all at the same time makes any sense at all. But kind of liking reading about the goings on in the literary agent world (last weeks #queryfail made me laugh, though apparently it made others cry.)

Facebook, twice. A friend posted this: “prioritizing inappropriately” and it couldn’t be more apropos.

SheWrites, once. Since I signed up on Monday, the place has a zillion new members. I’m still not sure how to use the opportunity here. I’m tempted to spend all day networking. But then there’s that pesky thing called ACTUALLY WRITING which I should be doing more of. I have 90 pages of raw material. I need to double that. Then I can talk. Or maybe then I should focus my energies on revising?

Read this rather morbid list, while researching the circumstances of Plath's death for my book. Oy. I haven't chosen a profession with a guaranteed pleasant outcome, have I?

Then I read "Suspension" by Rebecca Makkai, and loved it because of it’s form. I googled Makkai after reading her story “The Worst You Ever Feel” in the 2008 Best American, and this story is where I landed.

On paper, in actual three dimensions I read Lorrie Moore’s piece "Childcare" in this weeks New Yorker. A few great lines, like this one: “ I accidentally nodded. I had no idea, conversationally, where we were. I searched, as I too often found myself having to do, to find a language, or even an octave in which to speak” made me smile because I could relate. But the piece was generally meh. Not something that will likely stick with me, though maybe now it will because I am writing about it. (Go read it! Tell me what you think. I loved doing that last time--hearing your ideas about a story. Having a little impromptu book club.)

And I read the intro in Molly’s book a Homemade Life. Every time I hold the book in my hands I am smitten with simultaneous inspiration and envy. It’s not a good combination and thus far has prevented me from reading farther. However it has inspired me to try my hand at homemade pasta. Also chocolate cupcakes.

Finally, I read yesterday's headlines in the Wall Street Journal, while walking back up the driveway with a sleeping Sprout, but I cannot recall any of them. Only that there was an entire full page add about Presidential Armored Safe's that you can obtain for FREE if you purchase multiple sets of 'government coins that never loose their value.'

I am certain I consumed other bits of information, and yet my memory of them is even more frail and blurred. What is the point of all this consumption if I cannot even remember it?

Maybe I should also note that I also did some revising, finished a chapter, started two art projects while bouncing Sprout in the ergo, took a walk (to get him to sleep), did the shred, and baked cookies. Also there was dinner and bedtime stories and so forth. Gasp. Does anyone ever feel like they have enough time?

*** Your turn: what media did you interact with today?

cool kid by Christina Rosalie

Tonight we went on a run. As a family. All three of us. Granted, my current version of running is more of a run-walk-galumpf than a real run... Still, Bean was thrilled. He put on sports socks and sneakers and kept up a good pace for almost a half mile before he needed a rest in the running stroller. DH went on ahead of us for a while, but I was content to slow-jog with Bean as he spent the next mile and a half periodically resting and clambering out to run along side me.

Once while he was sitting in the stroller slurping water he said, "Mommy, did you know that tummies make water into blood for our bodies?"

"Really?" I asked. "Who told you that?"

"No one," he said confidently. "I just figured it out."

Pretty cool thinking for being three, huh? And so fun to run with him. So fun.

hormone insanity by Christina Rosalie

In the restaurant the other night, this is what transpired: Me: I’ll have a Tom Ka soup and an order of spring rolls. DH: I’ll have---(some weird unpronounced-able pork thing) Me: He’ll have (pointing to Bean) one spring roll, please. Waitress: So you want two springrolls? Me: No, an order of springrolls for me and one for him. DH: Wait, HOW MANY spring rolls do you want? Me: (Getting anxious) Um. Waitress: So you want three springrolls? Me: Yes

Waitress leaves. DH: You know you’re going to be getting THREE ORDERS of springrolls right? Me: What? I said I wanted three springrolls. DH: No. You said you wanted three orders. She asked you how many orders you wanted. You said three. Me: I said… (suddenly feel hot tears at the back of my eyes. Cover my face with my hands.) DH: You are going to be getting SIX springrolls (laughing.) Me: (pathetic and teary eyed) Let’s not talk about the spring rolls any more.

Waitress arrives with three plates of springrolls, six in total and gives me a weird look.

Hormones. What the ef? Seriously, they are rocking my world. Also, it should be noted that I suddenly didn't even LIKE the damn spring rolls.

What were/are your favorite foods while pregnant? And by "while pregnant" I mean early pregnant when your entire central nervous system is being drenched in HCG, thereby making almost all foods intolorable.

In the spaces between by Christina Rosalie

The roads have turned to mud now: layers of ice-hard earth thawing to slush, sticky and trampled. The yellow evening light is speckled with the flutterng wings of bugs, newly hatched, air eddying around their tiny exoskeletons.

We go for a run, just the two of us, conversation filling in the spaces between hard breathing uphill. A chainsaw whines and the scent of fresh cut wood makes my nostrils flare. Our feet sink a little with each step; muscles suddenly thrumming with heat and momentum. The air is soft, and while the snow still lingers at the edges of the fields, the brown grass lies exposed to the sun most places.

“Every step I take my feet sink,” DH says. The setting sun is at our backs. The sky is like the water I dip my brushes into: a bowl of pale ultramarine and pale saffron spilled at the horizon.

We’re holding hands. It’s the end of our run, and we’re walking back along the muddiest part of the road. In our heads both of us sing, every step you take…

Neither of us sings it aloud, but I know we’re both tuned in to this same static. “Did you just sing that song?” I ask, to be sure.

He nods, laughs. Even more than me, he’s the one doing this: filling in the spaces between thoughts with the flack of a thousand sitcoms, commercials, songs, clichés.

We do this all the time. Pop culture interference broadcasting stuff into the spaces between our thoughts. A word triggering the memory of another. Phrases tumbling unbidden into the twilight in spite of us. Turbulence in the spaces between. It’s a lovely day.

In my palm I feel the heat of him there next to me; so much between us unsaid.

What were like, before it was like this? Before thoughts were so commonly shared: before mass media and marketing, email, texting, technology instantaneously and exponentially making each thought at once more available and more clichés. In the spaces between, there was once an arc of silence. A breath beat without stimulus.

Now our minds hum constantly with unbidden music. Random access memory. Filler.

Without it, what would we be like?

What do you believe? by Christina Rosalie

I'm sitting outdoors with a bevy of chickens clucking at my elbow. Across from me the cat is licking himself, fur soaking up warmth. Next to me Bean digs a big hole in an empty flower bed. The grass is wet from rain, and the sun is warm on the black rubber of my boots. I just spent the weekend with a good friend I've known since I was fourteen. He's an creative, free-spirited atheist. Invariably we always have at least one argument about faith. He sees no need for it--the opiate of the people and all that. I'm on the other side, but less articulate. I don't keep a drawer of knife sharp words to define the shape of what I know. Tautology. Ignorance. Deism. How do you use the scientific method to argue the depth or scope of spiritual faith? How do you use logic as the basis for accepting or denying that which you cannot know about the movement of another person's heart?

So now I really want to know:

What do you believe? Do you have faith, or do you live outside it? How do you rationalize your fundamental view of the world? Can logic define it, or is something lost in translation?

A welcome by Christina Rosalie

The beautiful, talented, Sam just had her baby boy—on (I believe) Bean’s half birthday. He's still in the hospital (check her blog for the details) but doing well. If I could, I'd be there in a heartbeat. Instead, they're in my thoughts. A lot.

Welcome to mamahood, Sam! Welcome to the world, little one, you’ve got an amazing mama!

Mama, get out by Christina Rosalie

Bean spent the weekend with his Daddy in NJ, leaving me to a blissful empty house to finally get some serious writing done. Six hours at a stretch, uniterrupted. Going to bed in the wee hours of morning and sleeping in. Time to actually revise what I write. Oh lordy, it was good. But man, I missed those two! On the way home tonight, DH called and then put me on speaker phone so I could talk to the little guy. I told him how excited I was to see him and how much I loved him, and DH said he started grinning, and then looked at the phone and in a plaintive voice said, "Mama, get out."

Needless to say, I kissed every square inch of his face when I got to finally pick him up and snuggle with him tonight.

Joy by Christina Rosalie

I talked tonight with a writer who was also my advisor throughout college. We haven’t talked in five years, and when I emailed her, I didn’t know what to expect. But there, suddenly on the phone was her soft southern drawl, her kindness, her wisdom traveling over the wires to me, and afterwards I just lay back on my bed and grinned. It feels so good to talk with someone you admire. She said, “As I’ve lived I’ve learned that it’s all about asking good questions. Ask what you can learn from this situation. Ask what is good about this situation. Ask how you can learn.”

And she said, “You will learn something from this that you can’t learn any other way.”

And she is right.

** I open the door and joy rushes in, an unexpected guest, a urchin with a clever grin. Nothing to do but to bow down now, and place alms in the bowl of gratitude.

Because I always root for the underdog by Christina Rosalie

I'm so happy Jeffery won on Project Runway! (My one tv watching obsession is hereby revealed.) I loved his couture dress, and that green striped dress with the exquisite detail. I could ever get up the guts to really let my hair down and dress my inner wild self, I'd wear his clothes. (Stop gasping. I know I never where anything but jeans, and an exciting day for me in fashion is a pair of heeled boots. But just imagine. I'm good at imagining.) Another good thing? I have off the next two days, and am thrilled to have time to hang out with my little guy, and make food, and play with friends, and in genral, catch up on life. Bean seems to have been missing me big time tonight. Every time I'd stop rocking and prepare to put him to bed, thinking he was sound asleep, he'd roust himself and say "grock! grock!" I didn't quite get what he was saying at first, but then I realized it was "rock!" as in, 'keep rocking me mommy." And so I did, humming songs in the dark, and feeling emotions rise and then ebb away as my mind gradually stilled.

Here's to quiet moments, good wins, and long weekends.

From a family of writers by Christina Rosalie

You know how it is when you get an email from someone and it’s so good you can’t bear to just click ‘save’? I got one like that from my older sister last night, and I have to share. She’s a sales rep for the uber-cool new woman-specific clothing company Lole (“Live Outloud Every Day), and she’s traveling through a whole bunch of Western states showing their new fall line. 9 days on the road. Dear Family,

Miles and miles under the belt, streaming across the lands of the Nez Perce. Cheyenne and Shoshone, the engine laboring under the cruise control as rolling hill and pass grind under the tires. It's amazing and not surprising that they call this the land of the big sky. It's breathtakingly beautiful. I can imagine those native faces crossing the waist high grass on horse back, moving swiftly and efficiently from summer to winter camps, leaving nothing in their passing but the slight traces of a camp fire pit. It's amazing what we've done to this country, and by we I mean us white folks. The mine tailing piles high, filling entire valleys in some places; toxic streams trickle from the fetid flanks and poison entire communities. It's so hard to take, this mix of breathtaking beauty and life-taking toxicity, Montana yet another state of juxtaposition, the awe-inspiring amazing with the equally deadly amazing.

I passed a forest fire today. Burning bright against the hills, smoke searing lungs of all in range no matter the air setting on the car air conditioner, fire fighters huddled against the shade of a helicopter watching the flames move ever closer no matter the effort of the air tanker above. This land is so wild it steals your heart; just like that kitten found behind a dumpster so weak and starving you have no choice but to take it in.

I am exhausted today. The odometer measures nearly 1500 miles so far. Tomorrow I drive north to Flathead Lake and Kalispell. To the cool of the mountains, a welcome break from the heat of the valleys, I will turn and twist, following the flanks of the hills and peaks that make this part of the world so famous. I have had only about four hours I can call my own so far this trip. I am a maniac for stretching my personal limits of endurance. Let's see, Kalispell is three hours drive from Missoula that means I can show three accounts, tour the town, stop at the local dive for lunch and then race for the hills, arriving in a blur to do it all over again. But something about this job inspires me to be my best and that is all I can ask of a job.

I miss my husband I miss my animals and most of all I miss the green, color so achingly hummingly green it hurts my teeth to look at. Out here, it's all brown: beautiful but brown indeed, interspersed with irrigated farms….

Good, huh? So are their clothes. I’m in love with several hoodies, and some of their pants make you look like you have the perfect ass, regardless of your actual ass. Check ‘em out.