17 November, 2014  |   1 Comment

Mom Things

Top three annoying Mom Things, Helen Jane Edition:

1. Only talking to you as you leave the room
Cinco de Mayo Performance
Why? Why do moms the world over pick up this habit?
Is it that my first words to my children were as they left my womb?
Maybe I just enjoyed that experience that I want to repeat it every day in every room. I loved it so much that I do it to my husband, coworkers and guests.

If you’re on the way out, that’s when I want to tell you the most important piece of information.

And I’m sorry.

2. Snack listing
Guessing game snack
Oh, did you mention you were hungry?
Let me give you a running tabulation of every possible computation of snack that’s available in our pantry and refrigerator.
Now. I will keep going.

I will start with healthy snacks and then
move to leftovers and then
finally, I shall list all of the things I’m happy to whip up for you with just a little time and effort.

As I inherited this from my mother, I give myself my own teenaged reply, “GAH. I’LL GET IT MYSELF.”

3. Embarrassing Vacuuming
Dorothy rocks
Somehow, vacuuming went from an activity that I did purposefully with a straightforward motion to an activity I just “HAVE TO ENJOY!!!”
(Three exclamation marks mandatory.)

Earlier in my life, I removed the vacuum from the closet, unwound the cord and pushed on, cleaning floors in a focused manner.

But now, now I vacuum with flourish, I dance with it, I poke the vacuum at peoples’ feet, I sing.

I’m a vacuuming fairy with all the shit that goes with it. And I will embarrass you. You will feel embarrassed for me when you see me do it and if you are my child, you will die of mortification on the spot, just die. VACUUM!!!

I know you have them. Even if you’re not a Mom, you have Mom things. Even if you’re a Dad or a pet-owner or an owner of an aging human body, you have Mom things.

So confess! What are those things? What are your Mom things?

22 October, 2014  |   1 Comment

October’s Wriggly Bits

This October is squirmy.

I put my knee on it,
to hold it down,
to make it comply with

But October will have none of that.

So far today, 39 silos. Dorothy calls them ice cream cones.

We visited my family in Wisconsin.
October wriggled out of my grip.

James and family

My mom and her husband sort though hundreds of boxes of collections. They are moving. Assisted-living-2-bedroom-apartment and they couldn’t be happier.

I wish the American Way gave more aging parents this love.

Girls and grandma

There are more boxes to sort than there are years. I hate these boxes.

I stomp and whine
I don’t want to be faced with all the evidence of my bad decisions.

No one does.
October escapes me again.

Cousin's room

It’s not a sadness,
it’s more of the resigned sigh

We returned Napa’s harvest bustle. Winemakers and vineyard workers work all night long. Grape trucks turn in front of you on the highway, dropping sticky purple fruit onto your lucky, lucky car.


The air smells like wine.
Hundreds of thousands of tons of grapes being squished within 10 miles of my house and it is in the air.
October found a secret way out.

29 September, 2014  |   2 Comments

Sensory Evaluation Week

Smell the Glove.

In a way that’s different than when I was a kid, culture relies on images more than other sensory inputs.

Through photos, through graphics, through interface, that’s how we tell stories. These images inform us through screens. More pervasive than television or newspapers, this juicy visual shorthand is how we communicate.

Look at my pizza

As the tools to capture and share images evolve, these pictures absorb more of my attention. I scan, I scan, I skip, and I get really good at a never-ending lifetime game of Hot or Not, at a quick visual evaluation.

But the rest of my sensory evaluation is getting flabby.

Sight, that sense is all right, but I’ve done a rotten job at cultivating my hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and that still-undefined sixth sense.

She helps with the beans

Maybe it’s because I have spent so much of my life online — there are no smells, no touch, no taste online — I halfheartedly listen to music, when I remember, but even that is a pretty narrow category (background noise, music from 20 years ago).

This week, I’m exploring our senses. From noses to guts, from fingertips to Tympanic cavities, I want to think harder about what I’m letting come in my face and how I think about it.

When I pay attention to something, it’s how I love it.
I want to love more.
I want to pay better attention.

Looking up. All of it.

In the meantime, I’d love to know this thing from you:
What’s your favorite sense? Why?

19 September, 2014  |   3 Comments

Check out my self-pity. It’s huge.

Been working out.
Base of my neck, working it hard.
Self-pity muscle.
Getting big.

getting ripped

Feel sorry for me.
Feels so right when my head hangs low.
Working the top of my spine, work it hard.

Gets so big it rolls up over my ears,
like a turtleneck,
Hearing only my own sad thoughts.

getting ripped

Work that muscle,
up over the back of my head.
A hood,
a muscle hood.

Narrows my sight.
Now, all I can see is one tiny spot that
shows me for certain
how much worse I have it
worse than anyone else.

getting ripped

Fully covered now.
I’m all self-pity.

It’s most unfair,
Most unfair.

getting ripped

27 August, 2014  |   3 Comments

Wine Wednesday: Earthquake Edition

Napa earthquake at my office.

This is the office I work in — it’s in someone’s home. Yes, I totally agree with you that it could be worse, but you could agree with me,  you would be pretty bummed if that happened in your home office.

When I moved to San Francisco, my Midwestern rootfolk asked me, “But what about the EARTHQUAKES?”

I thought the likelihood of one happening to me was low.

Plus, my Midwestern people deal regularly with floods, raging hail storms, thunderstorms, iced over highways, tornados and lightning. They had it worse than me, in my book.

But no tornado was as scary as what we went through last weekend.

We are fine and our friends are fine,
they lost lifelong collections,
they lost dishes,
also they are not fine.

When you a part of a community that,
as a group, faced its inevitable mortality,
that community’s minds are elsewhere.

We thought, “Well, that’s it.”
Everyone thought that,
if they woke up.
And a lot of people woke up.

I noticed it’s the same for people who are moving.
Their minds are with their stuff —
where the detergent is,
the spoons,
when they’ll find that belt that they love.

And when you add coming face to face with certain death to losing most of the stuff in your home, I’m quite astonished at the number of folks in the Napa valley just back at work.

Tough people, these farmers.
Damage to our wineries is minimal.
You should come visit them.

Thank goodness it's just stuff, right?

This is my boss’ house. They lost a lot of stuff.

So move!
(I hear you say.)

Why live on a fault line?
(I hear you ask.)

Anything that happens to you from here on out is your FAULT

We’re staying because this is the best community for us, in the whole world.

We are aware this is our fault.
Our fault.

But we’re willing to live with it.

We’re willing to thrive with it.

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