Wednesday, March 31, 2010


In my closet, a sizable Tupperware tote, crammed packed with little books...some cloth-bound with hot pink flowers, some striped, some rather plain and dignified. I started keeping a diary when I was seven, filling several a year until I hit my late-twenties and things started getting too busy to sit down with a pen...instead, my blog sort of turned into my journal. (At some point, I'll have to print out all these entries and stick them together to add to my collection.) From ages 8-10, approximately, I was obsessed with drawing maps in them, little diagrams of our property, marking out where the tree house, woodshed, cat's grave, well and swing set were located. And of course maps of everyone else's houses as well...I loved drawing my grandparent's house because I could map out the hidden passageway in their playroom. Ages 10-12 held mostly angry outbursts at my parents for making us move/live like pioneers/eventually start public school at age 13. 12-15 was full of lovestruck doodles and scotch-taped in memorabilia. 15-18 covered my trying to get out of one mess after an other. 18-20 weirdly half adult, half child, changes, impulsive behaviors, growing up. 20-22 included young married life, job complaints, badly written and incredibly boring. 22-26 The Search for who I am/where I belong. 27-32 Children...and I rarely write, although Eli has many, many sheets of paper with his important maps covering them...I suppose it's time for his own journal. I noticed that I used to start every blank book with a little synopsis of my life at that time, in list form, since I have always been a list-making freak. Name: Emily. Age: 13. Best friends, pets, favorite color, food, school subject, romantic interest, books, movies, songs, likes, dislikes, height, weight, greatest wish, biggest fear, etc, etc, etc. I kept this up through almost all my journals into adulthood, although the answers to my own created-at-nine-years-old, goofy questions got increasingly sarcastic as time passed. As it's been many years since my personal questionnaire has been filled in, I thought I would recreate the Life List, in it's original form, with today's answers.

Name: Emily

Age: (Must I?!?) 1977, you do the math

Best Friend: I would have to say Kendra, as I have for the last 20 years at least. (Although, once, I think she showed up in a brand new category called "People Who Are Jerks" Ha. Sorry Kay!)

Pets: Captain Burdock, the crazed Aussie/"Chug" that makes me want to eat my own brain once a day, and close to a dozen Aracauna chickens, depending on what the dog is doing right now...

Favorite Color: I love red.

Favorite Food: Strawberries, cheese, spinach salad, cheese, peppers, cheese...

Favorite School Subject: Well now, that one's a bit tricky... IF I was in school still, It might STILL be art or maybe History these days. I might even like GYM CLASS now. Shocker.

Boyfriend (Yes, even at 9): Ha. No comment. Kidding Dear.

Favorite Book: There are so many! Just reread Solar Storms, an old fav, but really I could never pick.

Favorite Movie: Hard to say, I'm terrible at picking, it changes so often, and my taste runs the gantlet. Anne Of Green Gables still tops my chart, nothing deep, but comforting and sweet. And you know...any cheesy dance flick...

Favorite Song: This is sort of like the book question. I can't even make a guess, Too wishy-washy and I love so many songs.

Likes: Summer, boats, dance, cameras, animals, clothes (sigh. I know, I KNOW.), skating, snowboarding, music, monotonous craft projects like quilting, avocados, satire, writing, beaches, road trips, oranges, checking out different people's toes, gnomes, Snickers, worthless knick-knacks, horrible jokes, curly hair, costumes, musty smelling basements, spicy food, kissing, (those last two, not in that exact order) salamanders, making lists, hiking, lemonade, babies, Reese's Pieces, absolutely any type of museum, stone walls, cowboy boots, holidays, tea, exploring, soccer, poetry, dark chocolate, red wine, lilacs, eggplant, the smell of hay, rocks, watching fire, boardwalks, hats, waterfalls, eye contact, very, very hot showers, peaches, asparagus, tire swings, pearls, stacking wood, piglets, wind-up toys, having my hair brushed, fly fishing without a hook, stained glass, Barbara Kingsolver, mis-matched socks, nostalgia, barns that have been turned into houses, trampolines, running, archery, beeswax, wool, air hockey, real hugs, ceilidhs, stilettos, crank powered flashlights, hot cereal, mysteries, wainscoting, old theatres, NPR, giant sunglasses, tequila, yard sales, cheesecake, family...

Dislikes: vomit, spiders, zits, talking on the phone (I have a wee phobia occasionally...possibly since I can't HEAR anything after the onslaught of children),fish, raw tomatoes, idiots, mushrooms, hospitals, fevers, being broke, more than three lanes on a highway, watching baseball (just kill me now), roller coasters, wasps, sushi, cookie dough, flying, heights, elevators, lap dogs with no personality, those hand-knit dolls that cover toilet paper, television, maple syrup, explosive substances, electric fences (terrified of these), ferrets, snobs, nettles, early mornings, plastic, Disney crap, washing dishes, clowns or mimes, Yatzee, granny panties, SUVs, whining, horoscopes, and....that's about it.

Height: Five foot two...been that way for awhile now

Weight: 105 (I only listed bra size once and then gave that up when it became obvious it wasn't ever changing.)

Biggest Wish: Do I go all World Peace here, or for myself? (In the past, this one fluctuated from general good wishes for all, to the selfish extreme of wishing for three more wishes, or having Someone fall in love with me.) I want my loved ones & myself to be healthy and happy.

Biggest Fear: I'm afraid of losing people...I hate to even write it.

So, there's the list. Of course other fabulous categories were added over time, here and there: Bra Size, People Who Are Jerks, Favorite Number(?), Favorite Place, Sports and People, but you get the gist of it. I love that I accidentally made these clear cut memories for myself, they are funny, yes, but also spot on. I can see a whole snapshot of Emily at 10 or 15, just by glancing over a page penned in fluorescent green ink, the I's dotted with little hearts.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Size Matters

After being reasonably active this winter, I thought I'd try on an old swimsuit or two, out of curiosity, before I sat down at the computer to start the grueling process of finding and ordering something that covered/smoothed all my jiggly-I've-had-babies bits. Pleasantly surprised, I'd like to say a big "SO THERE" to mother nature after cheating me out of a bikini for the last six years. Still have some serious stretch marks and a quite a few pounds left to drop if I wanted to get back to pre-baby shape, but I feel pretty darn good about myself at the moment. My legs ended up super strong & stocky from teaching dance, but I guess I just don't care anymore. I used to long for my willowy, dainty figure back, now I think I'm OK with this. There are many tween/teen girls taking my dance classes. If I obsessed about my weight, what kind of message would that send them? I want them to be fit, not sick. Normal bodies, in good health, are the perfect size, no matter what size that happens to be. I hate hearing twelve year old girls look in the studio mirrors and say, "Oh my God, my butt is HUGE!" If your butt is actually huge, like you pant when you walk, well, OK then, you need to get yourself healthy, but even if you are sizes bigger than the magazines suggest you ought to be, who cares? Those magazines take advantage of how insecure we all feel sometimes about our bodies...they are trying to sell clothing, and they make us think that if we buy a certain thing, it will transform us into a mysterious, bony siren who lounges around with dewy skin and smokey bedroom eyes. When I first looked in the mirror today, I was reminded of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books that I've been reading to the boys lately...Pa calls Laura a "little French horse". (For those not familiar with equine conformation, they are particularly small, stocky and powerful beasties.) That's okeydokey. I can do more with strength than I can with a so-called "perfect" body. The only thing being skinny-skinny is good for is creepy fashion trends. Dudes, you might as well walk a coat hanger down the runway, it's practically the same effect. Sorry to sound preachy, it's just really out-of control, people literally killing themselves because they feel they don't look "right". We all need to stop wasting precious time worrying about our body, one shot at living folks, and in the end, inches on your waist and thighs mean nothing. I don't know anyone who would stop loving me if I wasn't thin, and I don't want to. Those two enormous, darling kidlets came from this body... what a totally amazing, freakish, and beautiful concept life is.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'm about to start dancing five days a week, which is a big change around longer can I say it's "just something I do on the side", it'll be the real deal. I couldn't sleep last night and I was thinking about what started all this. I was eight or nine, I guess, and my parents had taken us to a regional home-schooler's meeting. These were usually held in the dingy basement of a local Legion Hall. Families came from all over the area to talk about the ups and downs of schooling children at home, trade books, swap teaching tactics, and get some social time for their somewhat socially inept (yes, me) children. Also during these meetings, kids could casually perform on the tiny stage with it's sagging plywood wheelchair ramp. In between parental discussion, there was a never-ending stream of singing, piano playing and poetry recitation. I remember (now famous author) Frank Asch and his son, Devin, demonstrating the colorful kites they had built, flying high in the strong spring wind. Mostly, as the children warbled folk songs, the adults would continue to sip their coffee and chat, feigning interest, and clapping blandly at the end. When it was my turn to dance, I recall feeling completely disgruntled that my mother insisted my two, small, bumbling sisters would join me on stage. But as soon as she set the needle down on that scratchy Tchaikovsky record, one that I'd played a thousand times before, I forgot everything else. Nothing choreographed, I just danced. Ignoring the Ballet lessons and recitals, where I always got cast as the rag doll or the teddy bear, I think my eyes were closed for most of it. How I managed to stay on that tiny stage and avoid my sisters, I'll never know. I felt something else coming through me. The music slipping inside me and moving my limbs the way it wanted. In the tutu my grandmother made me, so faded, it's once blue tulle now a grubby grey, I was wonderful. I knew it. I tried things I'd never tried before, and they blessedly happened. At the end, I pirouetted perfectly and slid into a graceful split (which I normally couldn't do, I forced myself, and it hurt, but it didn't matter in the least, because that's what the music asked for). There was the cliched moment of dead silence before true applause. I don't know if they really thought I was good, or if they just recognized that I loved what I was doing. Perhaps it was my wee, adorable sisters who captivated them, or simply politeness towards my parents who hosted the event, or maybe my dad, clapping six times harder than is possible, but for whatever reason, the clapping was long and loud. I slowly came back to myself, disappointed that it was over and I had returned to being me. It's funny, I've never felt exactly that way since. Never quite wholly lost myself in the dance again, but the sensation was so strong, I've danced my whole life searching for it. To make my body as much a part of the music as one of the instruments themselves. Even being close, just for a moment, is enough for me. There must have been magic in the dim light from pea-green curtained windows, the stale smell of dust, and a hundred corned-beef and cabbage community suppers. I love to dance. I am not a great dancer, no, and I never will be. But I am GOOD, and I love it. More than that, I love to make other people love it, people who could be GREAT. And I get to eat whatever I want, a perk not usually afforded a mother of two nearing her mid 30's! Yee haw! It's an easy job, but somebody's got to do it.