Wednesday, November 10, 2004


I have been asked what the Regency House Party is. A lovely show that Buffy and I discovered quite by accident last Wednesday night, post-Boston Market, when I was still kind of stunned and very sleep-deprived from a long five days. It's on PBS Wednesdays at 9, and I think we're watching re-runs, which is fine with me. The link to one of the websites, in case you want to check it out, is

It fits, kind of, with the ideas about isolation I've been mulling over for the last couple of days. (Mmmm... mulling ideas, mulling wine, surely you can do both at once, right?) Really this started because Inman from Cold Mountain is almost at the end of his long journey home, and last I checked in with him he was standing on a ridge and looking out over waves and waves of endless mountains, wondering if he could find some kind of peace in complete solitude, not ever having to see anyone for the rest of his life. And I'm contrasting that to Ada's existence which, while hard in itself and exhausting from the physical labor, at least has Ruby for company. And Waldo the cow, of course.

I thought about this on the porch this morning when everything was quiet and even the neighborhood hounds were still asleep. Isolation is more evident when there's no car in the driveway you can jump in to go out, for whatever reason. Lack of transportation, however temporary, only reinforces the feeling.

I used to be such a solitary person - not that I didn't have friends, but that I would be perfectly happy going weeks without much real contact with other people. And in every relationship I have had, I have tried to maintain some kind of emotional distance from my significant other. Wait, that's not entirely true - not emotional distance, exactly, but personal space kind of distance. Is that a euphemism for issues with intimacy? I s'pose if it is, there are plenty of folks who will call me on it. ;) That's what comments are for, right?

And now that I'm in the most intimate relationship of my life - with my daughter - I treasure the solitary moments, but I don't exactly pursue them single-mindedly like I used to. I've gotten used to my friends at work, and I love communicating with them on all different levels of closeness - one woman is one of my very best friends and for some reason seems to accept me, warts and all, and another women is a close acquaintance but mostly what we do is giggle. It's a nice balance.

I think I need to work on that - striking a balance between isolation and connection. Knowing when to back off and hermit, and when to reach out to your sisters and brothers of your heart.

Balance between activity and passivity: When to rush and pick up the baby, and when to let her come to me. When to shake my head at administrative decisions, and when to start sending 100 emails a day about independent energy sources and the crappy choice for the chairman of the Federal Reproductive Health Department.

Balance between work and slacking off, sleeping and waking, opening up and shutting down, anger and forgiveness. I think maybe all of it's necessary - even anger. And I realize - fully and completely - that I have given some people reason to be very very angry at me. I'm hoping that those of you who are reading this and are still pissed will start to gently gravitate towards the other side and think about forgiving me at some point.

Baby and I had a lovely evening last night. She was still pretty hungry at bedtime, so I brought in a cup of blueberry yogurt and fed it to her a spoonful at a time - no bib, no highchair, just her and me and a spoon. It was lots of fun - she would take a bite, then flop down into my lap, looking up at me adoringly and grinning a big toothy, yogurty grin. If you've ever been around a toddler, you may have some idea of how a kid can start of falling face-down and end up landing face-up. I think she learned it from the cat.

We read some books and I put her to bed at a decent hour. I was up for another hour or so puttering around the house (laundry is STILL on the couch, though) and then went to my own rest. I was just settling in to the final few chapters of Cold Mountain when I heard her stir from the other room.

She woke up and hollered for me. I waited. She hollered again. I waited some more. I called out to her: "Honey-pie, mommy's in here, baby!" Sure enough, a couple of minutes later in crawls this very sleepy baby who is more than a little miffed that mommy didn't come get her at the first whimper. (I'm hoping she will eventually decide it's not worth the time to get out of bed. Maybe when she's ten... hope springs eternal.)

I pulled her up into bed and we went back to sleep.

This morning she woke up when I was in the shower and I called out to her again. Not long afterwards, she pushed open the bathroom door (which I had left ajar) and walked in, then proceeded to play happily with the whole open/closed door phenomenon for several minutes. Perfectly content as long as she knew where I was.

I think we might be getting the hang of this.

I started this entry this morning. Because I knew that as flaky as I've been lately, there was no way I could remember everything I wanted to write down, especially not past 8 hours of slightly frenetic fire-fighting at work. "OH CRAP!" has been the phrase of the day in here - and it's not just me and my officemate saying it, either. I used to be a fantastic multitasker - now my mantra is all about doing one thing at a time. One step at a time. Careful, controlled activity - because some of the projects I'm working on are so involved that I feel like my brain is the body of an octopus and my poor tentacles are being pulled into knots by the rest of the plant. Quite an uncomfortable mental metaphor, but it's the best one I can think of at the moment. If y'all have better ones, feel free to jump in.

Add to this my frequent inability to finish sentences and it's no wonder I'm most comfortable around my daughter right now - she doesn't give a damn what I talk about, as long as I talk. And there's something fundamentally reassuring about a relationship like that - maybe that's how some mothers get so addicted to their kids. Because kids don't really ask much from us, do they?

Only love, attention, our presence, food, rides, warmth, clothes, conversation, comforting, boundaries, playtime... well, OK. Only everything.

Looking forward to some adult time tonight with the Whiskey Sisters.

peace and love as always.


Anonymous said...

I am here, and listening.


Anonymous said...

You and I have much in common. We both spend time on our porches reflecting and wondering on the state of things. I have solved the national fuel crisis by inventing a completely environmentally safe fuel source which is self-renewing and free to everyone. I've invented a lawn mower which can traverse gullies and slopes that are too difficult for older folks. Hunger and disease are my next projects.
Oh, by the way.
I have not been able to bring my son back to life and tell him how much I love him and miss him for bringing himself back into my life, even for what seems the briefest of moments. Briefest of moments are what life is made of....
Need another cigar
Going back to the porch