Just One Paragraph

Toward the closeness of friends { Just One Paragraph 24/30 } by Christina Rosalie





We pack all day, and then a few dear friends come, bearing dessert to sit around the bonfire with wine while the kids run wild in the woods. The moon climbs up over the peak of the roof against a violet sky. Then the crickets come, and the katydids, thrumming. Woodsmoke, laughter. A good final fire to mark the end of hundreds, all of us gathered on the uneven ground on dinner table chairs, dodging the wood spoke. After a while the kids light sparklers and twirl across the lawn, and when everyone there is only contentment. To be here, and to be moving toward the closeness of friends.

Nearly beginning {More than Just One Paragraph 24/30} by Christina Rosalie

The lower meadow vsco_0-2

There is mist when we wake up. We lie in bed, close, breathing, watching the soft world through the wooden slats of the blinds. Three days left.
I think about the ways we cannot know. The ways before and after are utterly discrete, the barrier between them absolute. It was the same, waiting for the arrival of my sons. Or waking up the day after college. Or the moment after I said "Yes." It is always this way.
We move with measured intention or whirling chaos towards the unknown, and then we are there at the brink. We can't know, and yet we leap. Wings made of faith, of certainty, of calculable odds, of foolishness, of hope, of daring.
I walk out into the meadow with bare feet, just to feel the dew. To pay homage to the way the grass has always been there, lush, tangled, season after season to harbor field mice and Queen Anne's lace and milkweed and monarchs. I go, because for so long this field has claimed me, and claims me still. Not just this field really, but all fields. The wild, my home.
We'll see where new begins; what shape beginning makes.


The moon drops one or two feathers into the field. The dark wheat listens. Be still. Now. There they are, the moon's young, trying Their wings. Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone Wholly, into the air. I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe Or move. I listen. The wheat leans back toward its own darkness, And I lean toward mine.

The day as it was {More than Just One Paragraph 23/30} by Christina Rosalie

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I didn't write last night because I came home and completely crashed: chills, swollen glands, headache. T wondered, "What about Lyme?" and so today I went and got blood drawn. I have nearly all the symptoms. But who knows? It could be anything, everything, my body on a collision course with the reality of moving, which we are in just four short days.
Bean came into bed this morning, his hair a shock of alarming curls, his grin sleepy and sweet. "How are you feeling, Mama?" he asked, spooning perfectly into my arms. And then he lay with me and we dozed and talked about things and imagined what the future will hold. He seemed to get it, my little aquarian kindred. That this is big, what we're about to do. "It's our last weekend here," he said softly, nestling in.
Then came Sprout who has the heartiest of laughs. His dimples cause an uproar of delight in my heart. He bounces instead of snuggles. His sturdy little body burrowing for a second before he springs back up, and kisses my cheeks and nose and forehead and then dives off the bed to go play with matchbox cars.

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boy and dog

T leaves for work. It's my day with the boys. Bean and I linger in bed, imagining where we'll explore downtown, what colors we'll paint their room, how we'll have friends nearby. Then, slowly we get up and while I'm untangling my hair and finding jeans he goes downstairs in underpants and a sweatshirt and starts making french toast. He's got the first round frying by the time I head downstairs, and is perched on the stool by the espresso machine, teaching Sprout the steps. He pulls a perfect shot. "Iced or hot, Mama?" he asks.
We eat mounds of french toast and it's perfect: eggy, with just a hint of vanilla and cream. Then, after unloading and loading the dishwasher and packing all the cookbooks that seem to have mounded themselves on the kitchen table, we head to the car with a lab slip for blood work.
Sprout watches the practitioner closely as she cinches my arm and draws blood. Unlike Bean who wants to know how everything works, Sprout wants to know if I'm okay. If it hurts. If I flinch. (I don't, just for him.)
They took such good care of me all day.

A record of unfinished things {Just One Paragraph 23/30} by Christina Rosalie

photo-1 Tonight my heart rides unsteadily in the hull of my ribs across the waves of all the unfinished pieces and fragments and questions that remain from the day. The arrival of new friends and the disappearance of old ones. The half-packed boxes strewn in every room. The half-written emails sitting in my inbox. The audio notes I take on my phone that show up as emails, skeletons of ideas, lurching back into focus. Pattern recognition. Inklings. Story fragments.
Here are a few recent note titles:
Take down the lights. It's about repetition. UK Art Everywhere Project It's so late the next day has already begun. Bear humphing around looking for Fox. She wants her way a lot. She keeps secrets. There is a woman who smiles with gaps between her teeth and her minivan in the morning... Heritage movie theater ads. Meyer lemons, eggplant, almonds, dill. Surfaces and the first day of seeing in a new city.
How do you keep track of unfinished things?
And how can you tell when things are finished? Friendships, stories, ideas, dreams?

On learning, right timing & finding directions when we need them: {More than Just One Paragraph 21/30} by Christina Rosalie

On our way to his friend's house this morning Bean asked if I knew the way.
"Not really," I said. (I have this thing called an iPhone. It makes me navigationally lazy.)
"Don't worry, mama. You don't need to know the way. You can count on me. I'll show you," he said confidently.
It's true of course. For more than driving directions. This boy is my teacher. This in-two-weeks-third-grader. This coltish legged boy with a missing-tooth grin. I've fallen in love with him all over again this summer. He's just so tender and thoughtful lately. So full of a new awareness that everyone around him has emotions and thoughts and secret goals and dreams.
I often notice him watching me subtly: for a furrowed brow, or a lightness in my voice. He wants to know, "Are you happy mama?" It matters now, differently than it ever did before.
I can feel the importance of how I am in each moment with him now. The way it's making something indelible. A blueprint of the emotional topography of woman.
It's no small thing, this. Raising boys.

Sprout gets to be the only child at dinner tonight. We sit around the butcher block counter together eating soup with grilled bread and talk about numbers. We consider "How many, and then one more?" Then we make a game of writing the numbers out, each one with their own special characteristic--5 with it's baseball cap, 3 with it's two bouncy balls.
It might seem odd that I haven't taught him numbers before: he's 4.5, headed for preschool, and I'm a certified elementary teacher.
But the thing is: the meaning of the word "readiness" is debatable in my book. In the school system, readiness is knowing your numbers and letters so that you can be ready to learn mathematical operations, write sentences, and read about Spot and Jane. Then of course, those skills are learned, because they are readiness indicators for later academic skills, and so on, each skill set building to the next level until ... what? We reach the end of school, and have a bunch of skills that prepared us for more school. Hmmm. Is that really the goal?
If, instead you think about readiness from the standpoint of developmental capabilities, then things like learning numbers and letters and reading and writing are naturally, and almost inevitably a part of the process of learning to function meaningfully in the world. Academic skills are acquired when they're needed and appropriate to problem solve and recognize patterns; to make connections and navigate complex social situations; to make order from chaos, and chaos from order. Learning is about understanding the process of innovation and excavation; leading and following, taking note and being of note.
And at the end of the day, if children are submerged in a culture of learning, with real, tangible opportunities to make meaning of their world, then things like numbers--both knowing them, and writing them--are easily acquired when they're most appropriate.
Like now. Sprout's just ready. He's known how to count to 10 and farther for a year or so (although he gets creative in the teens.) And he knows how to do simple calculations: 7 and one more is 8; if there are two cookies and four of us, we'll have to break each in half to make fair shares. He even knows how to write the number 4--which is the most important number to him, of course, since that's his age. But tonight when I teach him how to write the other digits, I wish you could his chortles of delight!
With each new number, he lets out the most triumphant laugh when he masters it. Pure gusto! Complete ease. And in ten minutes he knows and is using all the digits easily. Right timing. They're useful to him now.
Of course, it's way more just this, and has everything to do with a household where learning happens all the time. A house that is literary rich, and scientifically minded. A house where T and I both engage our kids in problem solving while doing real-world tasks rewiring an outlet, making quiche, filling the gas tank, calculating change for the parking meter, programming a website, or mapping directions. (And we're blessed with kids who are typically functioning and healthy, which makes everything simpler without a doubt.)
But I've been thinking lately about the rush that we have as a culture--to get ahead. To prepare. To be productive above all else; at the front of the pack, and ahead of schedule--and how that affects me as a creative (often leaving me exhausted). And then I've been wondering if it's not something we're tacitly teaching our children, instead of showing hem that real learning means exploration and going at your own pace, prototyping and practicing and narratively mapping meaning. For that's how children are hardwired--to learn: iteratively, intuitively, and instinctively from real-world experience.
But if we dialed it back just a we bit and rested into the truth of this:
"Don't worry, mama. You don't need to know the way. You can count on me. I'll show you." I think they'd turn out just fine.
More than fine, actually.

Change is always this: A thin, perforated line between known and unknown{More than Just One Paragraph 20/30} by Christina Rosalie

Christina Rosalie
When I wake up still feeling out of sorts: achey headed, light sensitive, and all-round fragile, I feel betrayed. Who gets sick, I think, with just a week and a half left before moving for the first time in eight years? But of course, that's why I'm feeling off, as Elizabeth gently pointed out to me in an email today. My ultra-sensitive constitution is humming with the vibrations of change that all of us are trying to wrap our heads around. Processing.
At the kitchen counter drawing together before dinner Bean says, "I'll miss watching the snow falling from those windows on my birthday." He sits looking out the windows in the dining room where now the foliage is green and lush, but come winter, are the best ones for watching the snow fall. Each flake fat and white, while inside just there, you're always warm by the wood stove, the table golden in the pale winter sun.
After dinner the huge, pink cumulus over the mountain top gather, bigger than imagination, wider than a dream. "Oh T, look," I say, and he comes over, and the boys follow after and we all stand staring. The boys are in various states of undress getting ready for bed. T rests his hand on my lower back; presses his lips into my hair. The blue hunched shoulders of the mountain settle in the twilight. The clouds nestle in, the sun's setting turning their bellies to flame. This view, oh this view. Every day changing, yet every day the same. How I'll miss it.
Sitting in my studio later, the coyotes call, as if just for me. First one, then several, their wild, giddy yelps rising up among the night sounds of whirring katydids and crickets, tree frogs and owls. It's these things I'll miss the most. The way the natural world edges up close here; close and hungry, finding us at the door every morning: the small garden snake on the path; the moths by the lamp; the cedar waxwings in the lilac.
The move is what we need and want. I'm hungry for cultivation. For culture. For community. For the connectivity and ease of living just 2 miles from the heart of the city. But still, the actual process of moving: of heading face first into the unknown of it, feels daunting.
Isn't this always the way? The hardest part of change is the anticipation that comes before; the huge fractured maze of what we can't imagine. The particles of possibility are infinite. Any way might turn out, or no way. That's what our minds say, at the doorway of the unknown, and in turn, what's known becomes beloved. Familiar becomes nostalgia overnight. Not because it is right or true, but because the course is already set. Because the heart knows its way through, each turn familiar and made by habit.
Change is always this: A thin, perforated line between known and unknown; it's like one of those one-way metal grids in parking lots that prevent backing up. We've already changed. Crossed the line. Made the move to move. Now we're just catching up.

Feeling fragile + Reading fiction {Just One Paragraph 19/30} by Christina Rosalie

photo (62)I felt sick all day today, out of the blue. Fragile. Shaken. Even though the weekend was wonderful with perfect weather and an evening with friends. Today I woke for no reason with a headache and stomachache, and packing boxes all I wanted to do is curl up. Eventually I did, finishing Elisabeth Strout's new book, The Burgess Boys tonight. (I'm in awe of the way Strout can write a story, telling it from many points of view, each one real and simple and poignant.) It was the first fiction book I've finished in months. It feels so crazy to admit such a thing, but it's true. Most days I feel like every minute ought to be filled to reading "useful" things, that will make me smarter or more strategic. Fast Co articles, and the New York Times. (Do you ever feel like that?) But tonight it was all about slipping into a different point of view, and this much I know is true: I'm hungry for more.
I'd love to know what your favorite fiction reads have been this summer? Please share!     Also, I can't quite believe it. Next Tuesday we move.

At the fair: where we all show up for something {More than one paragraph 18/30} by Christina Rosalie

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The fair always captures my imagination. I could sit for hours watching, making up stories for every person: gap-toothed, lonesome, tattooed, bulging, burly, burlesque, vapid, vagrant, lustful, lascivious, wholesome, homely, heartfelt, heartbroken, dejected, addicted, desperate, depressed, wondering, giggly, giddy, grave, ghostly, strung out, sunken in, over zealous, sensuous, sexy, confident, criminal, carefree, innocent. All kinds show up to the fair. Everyone hungry for something. Welcome to Dreamland.
There are so many girls with incredibly short shorts, pockets sticking out the bottom, wearing cowboy boots and too much eye shadow, following after boys still pimply and lanky armed. The boys have nothing to offer. But you know how it goes. Small town. Bright lights. Everyone wants to be seen. Everyone arrives, hopeful for something that will elude most of them. To be whirled off their feet. To be wonder-filled. To gorge on funnel cake and corn dogs. To win a blue ribbons for milker cows and tractor pulls. To fall in love. To make out. To make a buck. To get a quick fix. To get a rush. To free fall. To fight. To escape the every day.
The carny at the Landslide dances to the pulsing beat of the ride across the midway. He's got some not-so-terrible freestyle moves, his arms jerking about in synchronized symmetry, his eyes closed, his head his own world for now. The kids swoop down the slide towards him on their magic carpet squares screaming. One small girl slips at the bottom as she tries to stand. Hits her butt hard. Bursts into tears.
At another ride, two carnies wrangle over cigarettes, one not more than twenty, the other old enough to be my dad. So many of them are smoking, pack after pack, the only escape during the forever long days before they can turn to whisky or meth or whatever other vice it is that claims them with the night. So many of them have blackened patches on their hands and faces, cheekbones gaunt, missing teeth. Some smile and get into the whole thing, hi-fiving the kids, make a ruckus over their sound systems, "throw your hands in the air!" "Step right up, step right up, I can guarantee you a bouncy ball!" Others move like sleep walkers, numb to the repetition, to the pulsing sound, screaming kids, cotton candy, mud, lights, gluttony. One man at at the swaying entrance to the fun house stands unmoving as kids run past him. He wears shades, stares straight ahead. We circle past three times, he hasn't moved a muscle.

For the boys, it is pure delight. They're at just the right age for all of us to walk about unencumbered, grinning, our fingers sticky with maple syrup cotton candy and ribs. Sprout was just past the 42" mark and Bean, long-legged and tousle-headed well past the 48" mark. They wanted to ride everything, and Bean would have if he could. For him, no amount of spinning or speed put him off. But the sheer volume of music on some rides utterly overwhelmed him. For Sprout, who is all volume all the time, noise wasn't the issue, or speed, but heights.
On the dragon roller coaster, they rode together. Bean was all grins, and Sprout too, until it made it's first rushing descent. Then his face crumbled. We thought he would cry, but Bean put his arm around his brother. "It's okay buddy" we watched him say. My heart felt like it'd just been inflated with helium. (How I love these kids of mine--and how happy I am they have each other.)The entire time they were at each other's sides, running ahead and stand in line, pushing each other, then holding hands, sharing an ice cream cone, chasing each other through the maze of mirrors in the fun house, or standing side by side to watch the tractor pull.
We do the rides, and then we do this: walk about, looking at all the things that make county fairs great. Kids on stilts and arm wrestling contests; a barn with home made quilts and jams; roosters with fancy combs, rabbits with floppy ears, new calves, a mama pig and her piglets, horses with long eyelashes and silky manes. The ponies nuzzle our palms. Sprout watches cows get milked with a commercial milk machine for the first time. Both boys stand forever in front of the incubator, watching eggs about to hatch, asking a million questions. Sprout almost cries when the white tractor he loves doesn't win the tractor pull. Bean drives bumper cars until his hair stands up with static.
And when leave late, two hour past their bedtime, the moon is a sickle in the inky sky, and the Ferris wheel is whirling, it's lights bright. Bright enough to blur the edges. To leave marks on closed lids. To make the whole thing seem real enough to be a dream.

Still paying homage to the night {Just One Paragraph 15/30} by Christina Rosalie

WingIt felt like fall today, even though we're at the height of summer. Crisp air, and the most beautiful bright bowl of blue up above. The weather has been anything but ordinary, and for that, I am glad I guess, though there is a part of me that longs for the familiarity of seasons; for the year broken into parts, for snow then rain, then sun then wind. At lunch, I walked the long way around the block just to catch a glimpse of it up above: blue, between hours working at my desk. It was a long day, all in all, though short on hours (how is this always so?) And now I'm heading off to sleep, while the night swims up to the edges of the house that sits like a raft at the edge of the valley, moored among the grasses wild and sweet. I love the way the air smells, not just here, but all over New England in the summer time after dark, as though the earth is exhaling sweetness. Rest rustling in the tall branches of the oak and fins out along the even, splayed leaves of the sumac whose leaves will soon be red. Owls calling in their secret owl language, silent wings stirring the air into spirals as they swoop. "The thing about getting up earlier, is going to bed earlier," I tell my friend. "Getting up isn't the hard part really, it's going to bed earlier that is."
I still haven't figured this out--how to flip flop the day and night. Start at the beginning rather than at the end. Write forwards instead of back. Explain this to me, morning worshipers, how does this work?

Three ways I think about writing when I'm not writing {Just One Paragraph 13/30} by Christina Rosalie

I show up to write a paragraph tonight after watching Silver Linings Playbook. It was good, though it wasn't what I expected, and now it's later than I expected. Still, I've done this small practice for enough days now that it feels like a habit. Enough days that I show up even late, just because. My fingers following words across the keyboard, right out to the edges of my thoughts.

I scribble notes as we're talking; our weekly conversation about the book we're gradually outlining. I draw lines, connecting notes, a geometry of ideas. Pattern recognition. I try to reconcile myself with the fact that I still don't have make enough time to write regularly for this project. Then I try make up for it by thinking about it in all the in-between times, my iPhone full with audio notes, driving to and fro. I haven't transcribed them yet.

I mow the lawn in concentric circles, my thoughts circling with me, sifting, growing steady with the repetition. Then it surfaces: the fiction story, the one that I read a snippet of aloud to my writing group, so rough that the characters barely lift off the page...and yet. I can't shake the characters. They have the makings of a story that matters. Next I catch myself thinking, "Why am I thinking about this fiction stuff, when I've got so many other things I should be writing?" I catch myself. Should. I make plans for fiction. Hours of it. Fuck should.

Today {Just One Paragraph 12/20} by Christina Rosalie

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Today, nothing quite lined up, though there were many moments: picking wild berries, seeing friends at the South End Truck Stop, and watching Bean watch the glass blowers, his eyes wide, his whole body watching. And there was last night when my writer crew gathered around my dining room table with wine and good chocolate, ears listening for the heart of my story. Still, today was just today. And I am trying to let it be enough.

Today I'm flying low and I'm not saying a word. I'm letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must, the bees in the garden rumbling a little, the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten. And so forth.
But I'm taking the day off. Quiet as a feather. I hardly move though really I'm traveling a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors into the temple.
- By Mary Oliver

Hello sweet August, here are all my hopes + dreams {Just One Paragraph 11/30} by Christina Rosalie

             ItsInTheDetails_ChristinaRosalieEveryone, all over the world we woke up today to August. And here in the Northern Hemisphere, that shift marks the ripest month of summer: blackberry time, the county fair, picnics along the river. I asked yesterday what your intentions are for this new month, and am going to break paragraph form tonight to write my own list. These are the things I want to manifest from this sweet month:
:: A last hurrah dinner party :: Winning the project (yes, the one that counts the most) :: A new haircut :: Poems read to me by T a blanket in a field of grasses (and maybe also wine + fried chicken + sauteed green beans and orzo) :: The view from the top of the ferris wheel :: A goodbye fire in the backyard :: Collaborating with the boys to print an Instagram book of the things we love about this place that we've called home :: A nighttime walk listening to the owls one last time :: A successful closing :: A successful move (and movers to do the hard part) :: New paint on new walls :: Shopping for school clothes :: Getting Bean's first cello (he'll start playing in the orchestra this year!) :: A new commuter bike :: A new neighborhood to walk in :: A blackberry pie
Also, because Anna said so, here are my favorite posts from last August:
There Is No Blueprint For Everything The Heart Of Things The Truth And The Stories
What are your favorite posts from last August? And really, what are your intentions (and hopes and dreams) for this new month. (Magic happens when you write things down you know.)

Night magic + August intentions {Just One Paragraph 10/30} by Christina Rosalie

Monchrome Tonight it's about unlikely combinations, sweet red wine, chocolate with salt, the cat pacing on my studio desk as I work late, pausing now to slip in a paragraph as night walks up to the window and whispers: "stay." I fall prey. Is there really another way? Does morning really offer this? The whirr of crickets, jazz, the soft, fluttering flirtation of moths against the screen kissing the lamplight on the other side that falls concentric circles; the cat's purr riding up one side of the night and down the other. Is morning really more than this, with it's new rose and blush and bleary eyes. Coffee, a day new? Does anything really measure against this time when day disrobes, when hours unwind uninterrupted. Who am I to claim radical sleep experiments. Who am I to say: we should all be getting more sleep (even though we should.) I was born at night. It's a hard habit to break.  
{Tomorrow is August. What are your intentions for this new month?}

Feeling at the edges of myself today {Just One Paragraph 9/30} by Christina Rosalie

clouds I woke bleary and bumbling and uncertain with a blazing headache. Out of the blue. Light sensitive. Sore throat. All of it out. Yesterday afternoon, riding hard on my bike, and then this morning: sick. Who knows why? My friend texted, wisely, "Its a sign to refocus on you for just a bit." So I called off meetings, crawled back under the covers and spent most of the day in a half-dream state, half in my body, half out. I felt myself at the edges of my skin, a layer of dream overlaying my real world as it passed by in slow motion: the dog coming and going, email notifications, T on the phone (working from home today), the boys coming home (from a sleepover at their grandparents) and crawling into bed, their fingers sticky, their eyes wide and grinning. I felt permeable. I could feel how I am a creature of story, a figment of muscle and dream. I could feel the way I am only here, and then not here, only real and then not real: in my body, and then out of it, in spirit spreading out across the space and beyond it. Have you ever felt that way? At the periphery of yourself, where you understand that you are at once more and less than all the things you say you are, and all the things you imagine.

Here we are today {Just One Paragraph 8/30} by Christina Rosalie




He could have been Bean, ten years taller, driving fast after midnight for whatever reason. The police can't say. The autopsy hasn't yet been done. Driving fast, across the meridian, into a metal culvert lurking at the side of the road, the way so many do these days after the flash flooding and weeks of rain: waiting for road crews to excavate ground and lower their silver-ribbed bellies into place, making way, with wide mouths for unexpected storms. His van catapulted, cartwheeled, caterwauled. Hit a telephone pole. Dead on impact. He was just 17, a new high school graduate, the papers say, and though I didn't know him, I've likely seen him around. He could have been the tow-headed kid riding a four wheeler across the fields belonging to his family's dairy farm at the end of the road. He could have been the boy with freckles standing in line with his girlfriend tonight at the grocery store, buying soda and candy, staring with the bored look of every boy in the checkout line. He could have been any boy. Every boy. This one on his way to Marines for basic training to go wherever such brave, foolhardy boys go, toting guns, their lives and the lives of others in their hands. We drove by on our way to donuts yesterday, saw the kids crowded around the newly replaced telephone pole writing love notes in sharpies, sticking flowers at the base, even as the old one, split in half with the impact, being carried off on a tow-truck past fields of blooming Queen Anne's Lace and Black Eyed Susans and also poison parsnip, that looks, to the untrained eye to be a lovely golden firework of blossoms. We never know, do we? We can never anticipate the danger, the wisdom, the wide terrain of possibility that makes the topography of our lives. T winced driving past and reached out. I grabbed his hand. We looked back in the rearview, the boys laughing, anticipating donuts. Sweetness. Today, there are cars gathered at the farm at the end of the road. Too many to be dinner guests. There is a lump in my throat as we ride by, that swells, even I feel my body lithe and balancing on my light bike, my life impossibly beautiful and real, pulse measured, cadence marked. Here we are today. Here you are.

  {Go love the people you love.}

Living life all the way to it's edges {Just One Paragraph 7/30} by Christina Rosalie

clouds_ChristinaROSALIEYesterday I didn't write. I meant to. I thought about it. But I never never managed to slip away from the rowdy menagerie that is my family on the weekend, and then I was out late out with with friends to celebrate the first quarterly Renegade Writers Collective reading event (so proud of those gals!) and take in a sneak preview of the Moth main stage event that will be coming to Burlington in the Fall, and then more drinks and general revelry under the warm night sky. So. here I am, making up for lost words so to speak. And here's what I've been thinking today: that this work of showing up is more about the practice than the end result. More about the act of writing, than about the paragraphs accumulated one after the next.
So here I am, still rubbing my eyes at 11 am, catching up for my lost post, and feeling the weight of lost sleep, as the boys begin to wrangle the material of our lives into boxes (if we're to move, we must pack, it seems.) It's quite a slow-start morning after a late night that was entirely counter to my whole "two hours before midnight" experiment, and though today I'm paying the price (and feeling rather old) I'll never stop wanting to live life all the way out to its edges. And just as I'm totally down with this whole sleep thing, and am definitely planning a radical sleep experiment, I'm also avid about inviting the unexpected. Serendipity flirts at the edge of random. Creativity emerges when things break from the norm.

Some days I can't believe how good I have it {Just One Paragraph 6/30} by Christina Rosalie

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I worked from home today, with the boys playing at my side, running wild in the yard and then coming in hungry and asking for snacks. I let them eat peanut butter from the jar, made cinnamon sugar toast, poured milk, parsed out handfuls of fat blueberries, and then listened to their giggles as I worked. I finished a client project, which felt good, but also: there went the day. The hours I'd hoped would be spent writing write flat out (a rough first draft of the synopsis of the book I'm writing with Dan Blank; the time I imagined I would spend loafing in the sun, going to the library, or sketching out the fiction piece I have in my head right now.) But so it goes. Each day brings the unexpected bounty of it's particular hours, and with early afternoon this day brought T. We all went running to him, a hundred kisses. Even the dog. Everyone in a knot of snuggles in the entry way, laughing. We do love being a family together. It's one of the best things in the world, the way we fit together, the four of us making this ruckus, gangling, goofy, snuggly, affectionate bunch. "Let's adventure!" Bean said, and so after I took a quick sprint of a run down the road and back, and T grilled burgers with garlic and parsley and oregano, we went to Richmond where the playground always welcomes us and the bakery always offers something good. And then T and I sat with the dog under our legs, sipping dark coffee and eating sweet treats, and talking (and kissing) as we watched the boys play as the sun slanted through the trees at the edge of the world. The morning started out cold and grey. There was work. Then this. Boys. Sun. Sweetness. Some days I can't believe how good I have it.

Considering the meaning of "enough sleep" {Just One Paragraph 5/30} by Christina Rosalie


This morning I'm paying for the fact that last night I was up late. Passed midnight. Into the single digits that technically counted as today. It's my kryptonite, staying up late after the kids are asleep and the house is quietly breathing, to write, or wander the internet reading (un)remarkable things. Those uninterrupted hours sing a siren song in my head. But on a hike with a friend today I mused out loud: what would happen if we all just slept more? There are plenty of studies that prove that we need more sleep than we're getting, and that enough sleep make us more imaginative, innovative, not to mention better lovers, friends, and parents. But as my friend put it, she too stays up late to do uninterrupted and often aimless and unimportant after her little ones are in bed, because it makes her feel more human. Still, she admitted, on the other, waking up after only 5 hours of sleep inevitably results in feeling even less human. A terrible conundrum, really. A tumbling domino effect. This too-little sleep situation. Hormones, sex drive, creativity, intelligence, athletic performance, curiosity and patience all suffer from diminishing returns as we night-owl it, hunched in front of screens, soaking in the quiet, or creating, or letting our minds wonder where they will. But what if we got more sleep? Like, radically more? Eight hours instead of six; nine even? I can't put my finger on why I'm so resistant, except for the fact that after 8 straight years of parenting little ones when sleep was never something I could control, staying up is almost a defense mechanism. And also, there is a childish part of me that wants to run out of the room yelling with my ears plugged at the mere thought of earlier bedtimes--to admit that I should be going to bed earlier would mean, in fact, that I am getting old. It would also mean that my mother was right. It turns out my mother was right about many things, and it's like she's right about this in particular. "One hour before midnight is worth two after" she'd always admonish. Ben Franklin backs her up. "Early to bed, early to rise...." I'm considering doing a week of radical sleep experimentation. But before I do, I need you to weigh in.


How much sleep do you get on average every night?   When do you typically go to bed?   Do you think you'd benefit from more sleep?


A birds-eye view of this right now {Just One Paragraph 4/30} by Christina Rosalie

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This morning I realized that July is almost over, which startled me, because really, didn't summer just start? I've been experiencing this incredulity at an ever-increasing rate: at time's passing, at the long-legged bodies of my sons, at the way my eyes have accumulated crows feet and the furrow between my brows is there for good. When did all of this happen? Time is a trickster. A torrent one minute, then a slow as honey crawl the next. Some weeks pass with laborious slowness, but days are never long enough. Other weeks pass in a blur, but hours stretch out for an eternity. The constant, it seems, is that years go in an instant. Each one short. Shorter. And here I am at the apex of another summer, feeling the way the last days of this particular month make up a strange equation of endings and beginning's for me. Summer is waning, yes, that. But also: my father died this month eleven years ago, on the same day as my half birthday which is two days from today. And if I were calculating my rate of success based on averages, I'd say I was behind, at least on my birthday list. Half the year gone, and only 10 crossed off. (Of those, I'd never thought I'd have ridden a carousel, but that happened, quite by chance two weekends ago at the Shelburne Museum; and I can almost cross off paragliding, because I've found the perfect place for lessons and am now just waiting for the right convergence of wind conditions and babysitting to high-tail it there with T for a day jumping off into blue sky.) But the thing is, success isn't about averages at all. It's not about steady progress rates or past performance. It's about the process, and seeing the way things map out wide and large. About setting goals and gravitating towards them, even as new projects take shape, and new goals emerge. A book. A company. Another book of personal essays in it's inkling phase. A kindergartener. A third-grader. A rekindled sense of utter in-loveness with my guy. And I can't help but wonder, if my father were alive today, what he might say with his birds-eye view, grinning at the life I've made.

    I'm curious, when do you take stock of your progress from a bird's eye view? Do you have any times throughout the year that you make it a ritual (like a half birthday) to stop looking at the small stuff, and take in the big picture instead?

The hours run out far sooner than my ambition {Just One Paragraph 3/30} by Christina Rosalie

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The day began with rain. Not the violent kind from a few weeks ago, but the soft kind that calls for standing in doorways and inhaling the petrichor. It was the kind of day that called for extra coffee, for laughter at Study Hall between work, for a gluten free macaroon around 2pm, and later after the rain let up and the sky spread with sun, for heaps of texts sent back and forth, things sorted, aligned, mapped out for tomorrow. It was the kind of day that found me arriving hungry at the doorway of home, to be greeted to the smell of Indian chicken with kale and sweet red peppers, fresh mango, cucumbers and rose; and also the sweet embrace of Sprout who always comes running when I return. A hero's welcome. "Mommy!" He exclaims, his entire body dancing with delight. He wraps his arms around my neck. After dinner, the day softened. In the gloaming light we moved to the backyard, sipping beer and rose, watching the boys play under blankets and the dog catch bugs. Then, after stories with the boys (Bean and I are reading the second Mary Poppins book, after a lovely diversion into the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frakenwhiler, which was a truly fantastic read, and for sure one of my favorites this year) I slipped off for a while to listen to music, paint my nails, and mull over projects. Every day, every single day the hours run out far sooner than my ambition. I'm grateful for this, even as I always feel myself fall short. Grateful to wake up hungry and eager for the day, and also to find myself at the other side of the day, still hungering for this sweet life, this work, these words, these hours.