Seeker

This evening I caught up on the most recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. One of the guests was comedian and actor Jim Carrey. I looooved Jim on In Living Color when I was growing up and can still do pretty mean Fire Marshall Bill and Vera Demilo impersonations. I didn’t grow to love many of his movies later on, but I continued to admire him as an artist and person and have been interested in what’s going on in his life to this day.

I think the reason I’ve always had a soft spot for Jim is because of how candid he’s been about his struggles with depression and (in the past) drug-use. I don’t know if it’s because I’d mourned the suicide of a loved one so early in my life, but sometimes I feel like we’re a bunch of delicate paper dolls just one bad thought away from crumbling and being swept into the atmosphere. I admire all who suffer and decide the next day might be better than the last. It’s not always easy.

Anyway, Bill Maher remarked on Jim’s struggles with depression and how he always considered him a “seeker”. Then he said something that really struck me.

Bill: I always thought of you as a seeker. You’re always seeking…something. Right? Cause you’re not always happy.

Jim: No, no I’m not always happy, that’s for sure. Happy is the weather.

Bill: But that is the mark of a seeker. It’s hard to find what you’re looking for—especially when it’s deep.

Who knew your stoic self could be so profound, Bill? Thanks for articulating what I never could.

It’s hard to find what you’re looking for—especially when it’s deep.

Yes. Yes it is.

A year ago, Jim was accused of acting bizarre and awkward in an interview during New York Fashion Week:

Jim: I wanted to find the most meaningless thing that I could come to and join, and here I am. I mean, you’ve gotta admit it’s completely meaningless.

Interviewer: Well, they say they’re celebrating icons. Do you believe in icons?

Jim: That is just the absolute lowest aiming, you know, possibility that we can come up with?

At that point he goes off on an existential tangent, but I was all I don’t see what’s bizarre-o about this. He was speaking my language. It also made me think of something he said many years ago

I think everybody should get rich and famous, and do everything they ever dreamed of, so they can see that it’s not the answer.

What is the answer, then? Is the benchmark of happiness different for everyone? Or is it some universal thing that’s managed to elude most of us? Is it love? Is it faith? Even those concepts are subjective. Are some people just wired for a morose life despite their good circumstances? If happiness is weather, how do we turn it into climate?

Sometimes being a seeker-type can feel self-important, futile, lonely. You wonder why you can’t just experience life, its most mundane and magnificent moments, without perusing its interconnectedness and meaning. If only you could float easy at the surface, eyes closed with the sun beaming down on you instead of soliciting the darkest trenches for answers yet to be found by mankind. What makes you think you’re going to find them? And at times you are floating easy at the surface until you remember there are individuals, groups, species, ideals that are drowning. That’s enough to pull you right back under.

See, this post already feels self-indulgent. If it weren’t for the fact that it’s late at night and I spent some time on this, my inclination would be to delete it. That’s the loneliness and dichotomy of a seeker—to feel, to question, to have the audacity to seek and return to you empty-handed.

Can anyone relate?

Tagged , ,

Vanishing Homes

home photo

I was wondering recently how many languages differentiate between the words house and home and their respective connotations as we know them in English. A quick google search left me empty-handed save for the gang of quotes and images referring to home. Here are a few I came across:

  • Home is not a place…it’s a feeling.
  • Home is where your story begins
  • There is nothing more important than a safe and secure home.
  • We carry our homes within us which enable us to fly.

…and, of course, the most well-known lines 

  • There’s no place like home.
  • Home is where the heart is.

I have been thinking a lot about home ever since last year when I visited one of the many homes of my youth, Ft. Eustis, Virginia. Ever since moving back to this side of the U.S. since leaving in 1994, I’d been anxious to visit Ft. Eustis again, a place where I made so many magnificent memories with my family, life-long friends, and nature. But shortly before going, I discovered through a google search that my old neighborhood had been demolished to make room for new barracks. Disappointment is an understatement but I decided on us going anyways. I still wanted to see some of my favorite places, including the James River and the historic Matthew Jones house (built in the 1720s)—both of which were a short bike-ride from my home and therefore a frequent lone destination, especially in the evenings as the sun set. I still wanted to see the DYA where my friends and I attended youth dances (1992 was a great year for hip-hop and R&B!) and my old middle school (which has since closed down). So I did. I saw everything that meant something to me. Everything except my home.

In 2007 the Babenhausen Kasern, the U.S. Army base in Germany where we were stationed from ’88-’91, was closed down and handed back to the Germans. We didn’t live on base, but between my school, dad’s work, company functions, friends, shopping at the commissary and PX, etc., we spent a good portion of our time there. And if you know me you know Germany was the best time of my life and probably had the most influence on who I grew to be as a person, my interests and such. Knowing that I can never visit and see it as I remember—bustling with American soldiers and families cherishing every moment of their fleeting time there—it bothers me. I’ve seen photos of it as it stands now, the old commissary peeking behind tall brush; my school looking all dilapidated; the beautiful, historic entrance buildings used by the French as early as World War I, unoccupied and silent. My house might not have been on base, but base was a good portion of my home.

A few years ago when I was living in Hawaii, my mom phoned me to let me know that the Arizona home my grandparents lived in when I was a kid burned down. I had lived there periodically throughout my young life, in between PCSs and when my father had to go TDY for long periods. All of my childhood memories with my grandparents—especially my grandfather who passed away, and a lot of memories with my mom, were in that house. In that home. It was also haunted, which obviously influenced my love for the paranormal and macabre. (Side note: my house in Germany was haunted too!). It saddens me to know it no longer exists.

Moving from place to place as I (and all miltary kids) did is one thing. You make new friends, acclimate to new schools, and your parents do all they can to make your temporary house a home. And that home stays with you forever, no matter where you go next or how much the next home is more homelier than the one before. But knowing three of your homes no longer exist—at all or as they were—is entirely different. It feels like a small death. A gap between your memories and the ghosts they are now.

This has all made me reflect on the value of home. While I have loved and valued living in different places throughout my life, the loss of those places have left me feeling unanchored. I ask myself what is it like to have a true childhood home? Where you could write on the walls and have a secret hiding spot under a floor plank. Where generations of your family have stepped foot and you are always welcome to return. What does it feel like to be tethered? I used to consider Arizona home, as that is where I was born and most of my extended family still reside. But ever since my grandmother moved from Arizona to live with my family in Texas, it doesn’t feel like home anymore. I consider Texas home cause that is where I lived the longest and where my parents still live. My dad retired from the Army there and is nearing his 2nd retirement, but even they are unsure of where they want to settle. I wonder will I ever find my place?

So I think about my own children now. I hear my girls talking nostalgia about our old Texas house which we recently sold. It was their home for most of their life until we moved to Hawaii. And now that we live in Maryland, they pine for Hawaii but also beg us not to move somewhere new anytime soon. I wonder if we’ve done them a disservice by having left Texas at all—where they were comfortable, safe, close to their grandparents and uncle—all for our idea of well-roundedness (i.e. well-traveled). I know it’s useless to dwell on should’ves and would’ves, but it can’t hurt to reflect on your philosophies as a parent every now and then I suppose.

What do you do when home feels like everywhere but nowhere at all?

Is home where your story began? Or is it where the heart is?

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Extended Nursing: That’s a Wrap!

IMG_6789

The past week has been bittersweet. It’s the end of an era between my son and me. An era I never imagined surviving a year much less three and a half. 

Apollo never took to bottles or pacifiers, so I served as both. My husband couldn’t help with feedings since, quite frankly, he wasn’t the one with the milk-filled boobs; and when Apollo figured out that boobs not only provide milk but pacify too, it was mama, mama, mama, and only mama from then on out.

Throughout the first year I:

-was sleep deprived.
-had sore, cracked nipples.
-leaked a lot.
-was supper emotional (see: sleep deprived).
-dreamt about the one year mark, when I’d begin the weaning process.

But when he turned one, I wasn’t quite ready to initiate weaning. I knew some resistance and crying would be involved, and since I’d become a pro at pacifying his qualms (with boobs) I wasn’t ready to replace this challenge with a new one. We’d gotten into a groove, a routine, a bond. Besides, we were about to embark on a cross-country move (Hawaii to Maryland) and I wanted to preserve as much normalcy for him as possible.

IMG_3264

Okay, so on our way to Maryland from Hawaii we made a month-long stop in Texas. He bit my nip one day while nursing and it hurt so bad I shouted. My shout scared the bejeebus out of him and he refused to nurse for three entire days. Crabbiness ensued and nothing else could pacify him. I was afraid it was the abrupt and unexpected (i.e. I wasn’t emotionally prepared) end of our breastfeeding bond. I captured a moment of him resisting the boob. I was an emotional mess. That is probably mascara on the blanket. Ha!

Once we were settled into our new state/home, he was pushing two. What the hey, I thought, I’ll just wait until after his second birthday to initiate weaning. But by then I had read about the benefits of extended nursing for both baby and mama. Say what? I’m reducing my risk of developing breast cancer? I’m still boosting his brain development and resistance to illness? I’m not particularly crunchy, but that sounded like a sweet deal. 

I’m not gonna lie—I was dead tired. Constant night wakings and co-sleeping in uncomfortable positions took a toll on me. I swear I’ve aged double-time. But his nursings throughout the day gave me a break too. I enjoyed taking a moment to slow down, be present and catch up on my own rhythm.

Before I knew it we were celebrating Apollo’s third birthday. The white flag was completely thrown in and I decided I’d let him decide when we’d be done. I had long stopped caring about the well-meaning, though misinformed, comments by relatives about how spoiled he was and how he was too big to be nursing. I knew I was doing what was best for both of us both physically and emotionally.

Last Sunday we were in bed and on a whim I said “Mama’s chichis (boobs) are tired, and you’re getting to be such a big boy. How about we just snuggle?” He turned around, went to sleep and that was that.

It’s been a challenging, deliriously sleep-deprived, beautiful, learning curve, but we did it together. Our bond is physical and emotional. It will always be one of the best things I’ve ever done.

IMG_1046

(Side note: I really wish I would have taken more photos of me nursing him.)

Tagged , , , , , ,

Free FALLing

 

 

Right now I am snuggled up on my couch with a blanket, the fireplace is crackling, the aroma of pumpkin spice candles is conjuring images of pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin EVERYTHING. It’s no secret. I FREAKING LOVE FALL. It’s perhaps my most favorite thing about living on this side of the U.S.

Some of the basic bitch things I like to do during fall:

  • Hike
  • Drink a shit ton of (decaf) pumpkin lattes
  • Hike
  • Get some new sweaters, scarves and boots and wear my favorite ones incessantly
  • Cook a lot of soups, stews and casseroles
  • Hike
  • Eat
  • Hike

Seeing a trend much?

This is why I am devastated that I didn’t do any fall hiking this year. Or at least go out to take photos of fall foliage. I guess I’ve been too busy with my kids (I’m basically an Uber driver) that it slipped by me. This week is a little too cold to have Apollo outdoors for extended times, and even if next week is a little warmer, most of the foliage will have fallen.

 

So today I am just admiring some fall photos of the last two years. Nearly all of them are from around my neighborhood. Gahhh. Why must it be so short lived?

 

What is your favorite thing to do in the fall?

Psst! Follow me on Instagram. I follow back! You can follow my personal account too :).

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Watering Your Soil


I miss the farmers markets in Hawaii. Like, a lot. It’s no wonder I was my healthiest there with all of the fresh veggies and herbs I collected every Sunday morning at the local market.

Now that I’m back on the mainland and have yet to seek out the local farmers markets (except for the one I was slightly underwhelmed by), I’m especially missing the little things like fresh cilantro and basil. I used to buy basil from the market in small, inexpensive portions; now I have to buy it pre-packaged and highly perishable. The only other option? Buying the whole dang plant.

So I bought the whole dang plant.

I’m notorious for killing plants. I’ve nursed a few succulents and they are alive and well, but don’t give me too much credit–they’re hella easy to maintain. They bask in the sun all day and I water them whenever I remember (not often).

But delicate little basil leaves? Jesus, take the wheel.

The good news is that I’ve had it for a few days and it’s still alive. That’s a couple of days longer than pre-packaged basil would have lasted. I consider that a win.

Anyway, I walked into the kitchen yesterday and noticed it was leaning sideways. The soil was almost completely dry and I guess it was well on its way to herb heaven if I hadn’t intervened in time. I had the container in a bowl, and since the soil was dry, the plant itself outweighed the soil causing it to topple.

I tend to think of everything in metaphors. Oh, look at that pretty sunset. Makes me think of that time I had food poisoning and sickness set into my lower intestines and darkened my entire week. Since creativity was on my mind that day, the sight of that leaning basil made me think of something:

So often we get preoccupied with what is above the soil–obligations, expectations, tribulations–that we forget to water that which nourishes us. (For me it’s creating something.) The nourishing “soil” dries up, everything up top becomes heavier and we become unbalanced.

We must water our soil so that everything above it can flourish like it’s meant to. And just like I will use that basil to cook up something delicious to nourish myself and my family, watering your soil allows you to nourish others in the kind of way only you can.

So, tell me. What waters your soil? How do you make time for it?

Tagged , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: