Monday, January 19, 2015


(the year of rachel was briefly interrupted by the martian death flu. we're all up and running now, though - go team!) 

while i was sick, i read 'paper towns' by john greene. it's a story of young adulthood, and an enjoyable mystery/character study. there are lots of small insights on what it means to be human, to grow up and the inevitable changes of our relationships, but this stood out to me as though it were lit from the inside.

"When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.” 

i hesitate to extrapolate too much  - the words speak so beautifully for themselves. maybe it's just worth noting that madly papering over our own cracks and maintaining our facade of wholeness is what keeps us from being truly seen, truly known. and if there is one thing i truly, deeply believe we all need, it is that. nothing is more powerful than knowing someone sees you. sees into your cracks, and recognizes the light that that shines out, however dimly. 

it is also worth noting, i think, that when we are so busy plastering over our chips and fractures we can't rightly see anyone else. if we bother to notice their presence at all, it's only to take stock of whether or not they see us as whole and umarred - they are only the measure of the success or failure of our hasty repairs. we aren't looking for the light in them at all - we are not "face to face" as john greene puts it. 

everything is presented to us whole - shiny and new. and if it's not whole, it's definitely less. we apologize for driving an old car even though it goes from a - b. we are embarrased to wear last years shoes, have 2nd hand clothes, to have a non-hd, non-56", non-apple tv. no wonder we are so ashamed that we are not shiny and new. our life has not fallen out of a magazine, and neither has our skin, our families, our beach bodies. and so we plaster and sand and paint and cover and rearrange the furniture of our lives to hide the stains. but in the long run, all that does is isolate us. keep us alone. keep us from being able to be seen - and maybe even more of a loss, keeps us from being able to be the one who sees. who is able to look into someone else and give them the gift of recognizing their light. 

Friday, January 02, 2015

books! books! books!

so, i have two writing projects on my desk right now. one is a long in the works, long procrastinated on collaborative memior about meeting mark and having the twins, about family and it's weirdness and love. the second is a collaborative effort with friends, a thriller/adventure story, with each writer taking an individual thread of the tapestry, not unlike 'crash' or 'love actually'. it's also long procrastinated on. but no longer! (at least for now) 

** warning - teaser ahead, and you can decide from which book! :)

It was the water. She couldn’t breathe. Oh, God, the water. Bright blue, shimmering in the early morning sun, changing, changeable. She couldn’t look, couldn’t look away. The way a curl of hair was caught up in the current, the fingers graceful and trailing lightly alongside so gently. Only the faintest hint of a red halo as the wide eyes staring into hers slowly sank, until all she could see was the barest hint of pale skin. And then that was gone, too.

She squeezed her eyes shut tightly, fists balled until ragged nails bit into the palms of her hands. Uneven breaths, in and out, trying not to see the water. 

Because it wasn’t water. It couldn’t be. Safe in the passenger side seat of the old SUV, she knew it couldn’t be. In and out. Breathe. Get a grip. With a pounding heart, she opened her eyes cautiously, relieved to see only the vivid turquoise reflection of ten stories of mirrored glass bouncing off the hot asphalt. No water. Thank God.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

the year of rachel

i have decided that this will be the year of rachel! and i have a plan that involves ZERO resolutions!

i (we) make resolutions and decisions that box us in and predefine us. "i am not going to have more than one glass of wine" or "i am going to work out every day" or "we are going to do a date night every friday" or what have you. it seems good & virtuous, but as i started to really think about this, i realized that at any given moment, any resolution or resolve could, in fact, ruin the year of rachel.

for example, if i say i'm not going to eat desserts, and my husband's birthday is in 3 weeks and i eat a huge piece of cake at dinner and save one for breakfast the next day (obviously), i will have days of self-recrimination and shame. 'i shouldn't have done that' and 'i'm so fat' and 'so much for my resolution'. i will be defeated, and my self talk will demoralize and humiliate me.

BUT if instead, i say 'this is the year of rachel! i chose to celebrate my husband and feast and laugh and enjoy the small luxuries of life' it becomes something completely different. it's not a prescribed diet or lifestyle or change. instead, it means that i am going to make my choices and own them... i am going to (try) to be conscious of how i'm living, and then do it on purpose.

if, after a terrible day at work, i want to sit on the couch and watch tv while i eat chinese food instead of exercising, i want to be able to stay to myself, 'i chose this. i chose to relax, not to push myself, not to panic myself at a lack of resolve.' the only way i think that can happen is if as i head into that evening and i'm having that conversation with myself - exercise vs. chinese food - i am mindful and ask myself, 'is this really what i want? is this a choice that enhances the year of rachel?'  i want to be able to look at my day and say, 'yep. that was me today.' it was a choice, not a defeat.

the year of rachel is not  about being prescriptive to my life, but instead actually being present in my life. my hope is that as i start to be mindful of my personal choices, i will become mindful of my choices that affect others. is holding that grudge going to add beauty to the year of rachel, or will it diminish it? is being impatient with my family what i want the year of rachel to look like? i am beginning to believe that it is only by being present to my life that i can be present to anyone else's.

part of this year is that i want to start writing again, and as i enjoy blogging, i think i'll write here when i can. but not every day. or maybe every day. it's the year of rachel, so who knows? :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

the millenium falcon

if you've ever lived up north you'll know what i mean.

it's snowing ... the kind of snow that only falls when it's warm. the kind north carolina doesn't often see - the fat, lazy flakes that dampen the world effortlessly with their gentleness. they fall straight down, no swirling or blowing or drifting... just from God's fingertips to our brown grass, making the grey day suddenly light and clean.

these are the flakes of my childhood. i used to stand under the streetlights after dinner, after dark, bundled in every warm item i could find, and look up into the light while the snow was illuminated on it's downward path. if you stood there for any length of time at all, the world slipped away around you, perspectives changed, and suddenly you were han solo flying the millenuim falcon through a galaxy of stars, watching them soar past your cockpit windows. if felt like i could stand like that for days, frozen feet forgotten. if the street lights didn't come on early enough, my friends and i would pack the sensors with snow just so we could experience the dizzyness of flying through those stars.

i don't miss the cold. i don't even miss the snow. but i do miss the kid who could fly like that, so easily exchanging the ground for the sky.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


sniff turn
close push close
relax sigh
sigh stretch
breathe snore
breathe snore
breathe snore listen
stretch close push close
heavy solid
comfort sleep love

Saturday, December 08, 2012


mark has been after me to write our story in snapshots... just moments here and there that capture something real. here is one snapshot. maybe you'll like it.

the room is so dark it's almost black. from where i lay, i can't make out it's edges. of course, that could be the drugs. the barest light falls from a picture unchanging on the screen high on the wall: two small grey circles against a slightly lighter shade. our hopes pinned to the ceiling. the dimness is meant to soothe and calm, but the effect is undone by the sharp, white light aimed between my knees. i examine my feet, really the only thing i see clearly, and am glad i choose to wear my knee high socks. the thick black and white stripes running up my calf are the only protection i've got in this room full of strangers and half-strangers. the valium, like the lighting, is also intended to relax me, which it does- i certainly feel no anxiety - but it has the unintended side effect of making me chatty. i can't seem to stop the words from streaming out of my mouth, commenting on all sort of inane things, despite the doctor's urging that i remain quiet. somewhere behind my shoulder comes an awkward pat and a gentle shush, mark urging me to follow orders, but he has no effect. my tongue will not be stilled. i am in awe of those glowing grey orbs on the screen... two tiny, unformed lives. everything that they could be, will be, might be; all wrapped up in a perfect circle. no evidence of life, but life pulsing none the less. i wonder aloud who they will be. are they boys or girls? what will they would be good at? how they will look? will they take more after their dad or their mom? i am shushed again, this time by the doctor who seems to be concerned that hopes will get too high, that if something were to go wrong, the grief will be more crushing for having wondered.

i've never cared much for hopelessness, so i hoped. i knew, even. inside, where knowing doesn't have to be backed up by facts, where hope and love live a happily married life, i knew. it was easier for me, i suppose, because those orbs weren't my little life-hopes. i suspect that mark and tina were terrified by my cheerful patter, scared not just of hoping, but of pinning their hopes on a loopy girl in wicked-witch-of-the-west socks who had come into their lives mere months before. a girl they barely knew, but who had staked her claim to them and wouldn't let go. indeed, i had pitched my tent in the garden of their lives like a hippie, wandering barefoot through a history that ought to have been shared, making up for lost time with ferocity. i knew no other way to be.

so there i lay, naked but for a sheet and socks, feet high in cold metal stirrups, awkward but in awe. in awe of finding mark. in awe of what intelligence and creativity and persistence have allowed humanity to discover and learn. awe that i was participating in such a reckless, lovely scheme.

the whole thing took only seconds. two little futures, resting now in my body. i welcomed them, patted my belly and told them to dig in and make themselves a home, temporary though it would be.

back in the brightly lit recovery room (what was i meant to be recovering from?) it was just mark and me, tina having wiped her tears and left for work. he leaned forward with his iphone and played me a song that i had previously told him was going to be my theme song for the next 9 months....'capri' by colbie callait.  i was suddenly embarrassed, couldn't meet his eye. maybe the valium was wearing off, but the words dried up and i could think of nothing to say that would fit the moment. it was too big for me.

we've never really talked about that day, any of us. maybe they did, in the quiet of their room that night, hidden in the dark where words and feelings seem safer, but we didn't talk to each other. i have so many questions now. i wonder how it felt for them, the whole thing. i want a moment by moment play by play of how they felt, what they thought.

we drove home mostly silent, mark and me, and i pretty quickly fell asleep on the couch, drained by the emotion of the morning and encouraged by the doctor's orders to spend 3 days laying down. when i woke up, mark was on the sectional beside me watching tv and on the coffee table, right in my sight line, was an apple and a knife. it seems like a small thing, but it wasn't; not to me. everything we didn't, or couldn't say was in that apple. the whole world in a tight, red skin. i said 'thanks' and he smiled. it was enough.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

truth and curbs

i am tired of myself. i don't want to talk about myself. i don't want to navel gaze. i don't want to regale you with my stories.

i would rather listen to the stories of the people who populate my life. i want to hear the childhood reminiscences,  the long lost or long held dreams... i want to hear their Truth. i am weary of being fine, and having everyone else be fine. how can i celebrate with your celebrations or weep with your mournings if there is no Truth between us? how can any of us walk alongside another while both pretend not to need a companion?

i am weary.and truth is terrifying and risky and offensive, but aren't you tired of not living honestly? of plastering on a smile? of keeping all your plates spinning? don't you just want to sit down on the curb beside someone who cares enough to listen while you say nothing at all? i do.