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My Violent Heart

violent3

Eminem has a new music video out. It’s called “Space Bound” and the violence depicted in the vid is, rather unsurprisingly, pissing a lot of sensitive folk off.

I’m not a huge hip hop fan. My musical taste leans more in the Trent and Tori direction, but I do have a thing for Eminem. He’s witty, he’s provocative, he’s talented and, come on, don’t deny that you secretly loved him just a little bit in 8 Mile.

But I’m here to talk about the violence. Specifically, artistic violence. Yes, there is such a thing.

From a creative perspective, violence is really fun to create. The fake blood recipes. The prosthetic wounds. The squelchy sound effects.

When we shot our bloodiest cinepoem to date, Abbatoir, everyone on set had the giggles in the middle of conversations about the best looking blood splatter.

And, with the exception of “auteurs” such as Michael Bay (who just likes to make things go BOOM while sweaty hot chicks sprint past in slow motion), many times the violence is used as a metaphor.

But there seems to be this whole subset of metaphor-proof people who always seem to get their undies in a bunch about something. Because, you know, Columbine was Marilyn Manson’s fault. And KISS really stands for “Knights in Satan’s Service.” And watching the new Eminem video might make you kill yourself.

Back when I used to attend church, I’d get people coming up to me after a poetry reading, concerned for my mental state. Or my spiritual state. Or some kind of state that was none of their business, since 99.993 percent of them didn’t actually know me in real life.

The thing they didn’t get was that poetry isn’t a diary. You take liberties with the words, with the situations. You exaggerate. You get dramatic. That’s what being creative is all about.

And sometimes when life feels bleak, you take it out in your work. You get dark. Raw. Violent.

Catharsis can be really beautiful.

So let Eminem blow his brains out in a music video. At least he’s not doing it in real life. And only a complete ignoramus would assume that he’s actually advocating a gun-to-chin philosophy.

-Lo, who eats lots of red meat, although there are plenty of YouTubers who think “Abattoir” is advocating veganism.

Sleep is the new crack.

tired

I have a confession of intolerance.

Whenever I hear someone complain, “OMG, I’m, like, soooooooo tired today!” I roll my eyes.

I know you had a late night at the movies or clubbing or studying or sitting on the couch like a lump watching infomercials or writing your screenplay or breaking up with your boyfriend, again.

I used to have those nights, too. Especially in my early 20s.

I’d straggle in to work on Monday morning, hair still smelling of cigarette smoke and stage fog, and whine blearily about how I exhausted I was after a weekend of staying out until 4am dancing blisters onto my soles at The Dome Room.

But then I’d get home from work, pull on some PJs, hunker down on the couch for a sitcom or three and then toddle off to bed early. By Tuesday morning I was all caught up.

So I get it. You didn’t catch your standard amount of Zs and you’re a little crusty-eyed today. I get it, but I don’t feel sorry for you.

Because, I promise you, you have absolutely no understanding of what exhausted really means. Not until you’re a new parent.

Once that baby comes out, you become intimately acquainted with all the hours of the night, all jumbled up and out of order. You never know when you’ll actually get to sleep or when you’ll wake up, jerked unceremoniously out of dreamland by the wail of a tiny crib-bound creature who needs you, and needs you NOW.

Everyone smiles at new mothers indulgently and says, “Awwww. Enjoy it! Newborns sleep all the time.”

Which is only partially true. Yes. Newborns sleep alot. But they also eat alot. As in every 2 hours. Round the clock. And when you’re the one with the boobs, that means that you don’t sleep more than an hour and a half at any one stretch.

“Yeah, but it gets better,” you say. Yes. You’re right. It gets better. Your little one eventually learns that daytime is playtime and night time is sleep time.

And then they learn to roll over. Or sit up. Or crawl. Or stand in the crib and jump up and down and scream like they’re being chased by large hairy beasties.

Or they grow a tooth. Or three. Or they get sick. Or they had a bad day and didn’t take enough naps and now they’re cranky and pissed off and overtired.

Ask any parent what it means when their kid is overtired. (Be prepared that said parent might burst into tears when they answer.) Overtired babies are terrifying.

And speaking of terrifying, as a new parent, you’re a hot mess most of the time. You’ve got scads of wackadoo hormones, none of your pants fit, and by the time you walk over to your to-do list and grab a pen, you can’t remember what it was you were going to remind yourself to do.

You’re afraid to look at your stretch marks straight on in the mirror because then you might have to face the fact that your bikini days are really and truly over. Your hair is falling out in clumps, but it doesn’t matter because you never have time to run a comb through it, anyway. And if you did, baby would yank the hairs you have left straight out of your scalp. So you just rubberband that mop into a knob on the back of your skull and try to remind yourself to wash it before it smells.

But most of all, as a new parent, you wake up every day to the realization that you have created a person. A tiny, awe-inspiring little human being who shits up her own back and can’t pull up her own pants and opens her mouth and squawks for you to feed her like a wee naked hatchling.

And you are simultaneously crushed by the weight of your overwhelming love for this creature and by the responsibility to raise and nuture and teach this brand new person how to be an individual and a good citizen and how to balance a checkbook and drive a car (and a motorcycle) and love herself for who she is and be confident but not arrogant and be kind without being a pushover.

Start adding up all this new parent angst and haphazard snatches of sleep caught here and there over the weeks and months and then factor in 3rd trimester discomfort, tiny bladder syndrome and the inability to roll over into the equation and suddenly you realize that you haven’t really slept a whole night through in OVER A YEAR. (A guy I work with has 3 kids and says he hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in 6 years.)

That, my friends, is what being tired really is. That is actual sleep deprivation. It makes you, by turns, a drooling zombie stumbling through the day and asking your spouse a question 6 times over because you don’t remember what he said, and an over-caffeinated, frantic-eyed energizer bunny who is freakishly motivated to fold the laundry. At 2 am.

Ten years ago, five years ago, 12 months ago, I wouldn’t have really gotten it either. I would have nodded and tried to sympathize. I would have quite sincerely said, “Oh man, that must be really hard.”

And I would have giggled at Go the Fuck to Sleep and thought it was clever. But I would not have guffawed until I cried.

I get it now. And you know what? You can keep your Saturdays of sleeping in until noon. I wouldn’t trade places with you for any goddamn thing in the world.

But maybe that’s just the caffeine talking.

-Lo, who will sleep when she’s dead.

Cups Runneth Over

bazonga

This post is all about boobs.

If hooters aren’t your bag, so to speak, then there’s nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

To the rest of you, specifically to all my as-yet un-impregnated lady friends, let me say this:

For god’s sake, do not ever take your beautifully perky tits for granted.

Unlike my friend Michael, who will never live down the drunken text he sent that read, “I LUV BIG BOOBIES!” (the backstory involves a film shoot featuring Jennifer Coolidge in a bubble bath), I’ve never been a fan of the giant bazongas. As a (former) B or C cup, medium-sized boobs were always fine with me.

They were manageable. Proportionate. Attractive without being overwhelming. And entirely, delightfully, decorative.

But now that the twins have become, er, functional, well… I’m packing a hell of a lot more cleavage than I’d really care to.

Exhibit A: The photo up above was taken just one week post-baby. Yeah. I know. BAM!

I now understand the complaints of my more buxom friends, who have told tales for years of their dressing room woes that begin something like this: “It was the cutest top ever, and it would have fit perfectly, but my damn boobs got in the way.”

Never having had this particular trouble before, I would always think to myself, “Well, can’t you just squish those puppies in there?”

No. No, you cannot. I know this now.

When your breasts pass a certain cup size, they cease being sweet, bouncy, womanly things and become two gigantic nuisances.

Gone are the days of being able to wander about comfortably bra-less and unsupported. Gone are half of your favorite tops, because your huge new knockers just don’t leave any extra room for your armpits or your collarbone.

Gone, too, are the other half of your shirts, the ones that fit, because those classy, ballerina-style scooped necklines of yore have now become fairly obscene, and whenever you spy yourself in a mirror you seem to hear stripper music playing in the background.

I know that there are plenty of women out there who, when their mommy mammaries began to fill out, were ecstatic and bought out all the low-cut dresses at the maternity store. These women, in my experience, are either former A-cups or have harbored secret fantasies of buying bolt-on Double Ds.

I cannot relate.

When I was about 5 months pregnant and the bosoms really started to take on a life of their own, Bruce saw me in a dress that had previously fit me like a normal person and said, “Damn! Those things are getting kind of intimidating.”

And yes, I know, it’s a glorious thing to have fully functional ta-tas. To be able to feed your young like a proper mammal.

And yes, I have been utterly in awe of the bonding experience, of the woman power feeling of having, within your own body, everything necessary to sustain another life.

But underneath all the soft-focus mom stuff, I’m still me. And I’m totally snickering at my use of “utterly” in the previous paragraph because it sounds like “udder”. *Snort*

In a moment of panic during my 3rd trimester, I gestured to my ever-expanding melons and asked my sister, “These things are gonna go down, right? RIGHT?”

She looked at me with the calm wisdom of having been there and grown those and said,
“Yeah. Sure. They’ll go down. Waaaaay down,” and gestured in a drooping southerly direction.

Awesome. Can’t wait.

-Lo, who has optimistically saved all those B cups.

Citified

city

Outside my new front door…
hustle & bustle
bucket drums
polish dog & sauerkraut cart
foot commuters
cycles & scooters
sky scrapers
buses & cable cars
lost tourists
hotels & flagships
union square
buskers & beggars
food trucks on Minna
and, unavoidably, at least four Starbucks within a two-block radius

…I’m so happy to be back in the bubble of city living–morning, noon and night.

The Peninsula is an unforgiving land of traffic jams and megamarts, and after two years of commuting south to the hinterlands, I’m so happy to be citified once again.

Oh, San Francisco, how I have missed you! Working my 40 hours for the man is no hardship at all when I get to work it out within city limits.

*muuah!*

-Lo, bubble-bound

Room and Bored

busy

Today someone asked me when my next book is coming out.

I didn’t know whether to get stabby or fall over laughing.

I haven’t written even one single poem in almost three months, even though my to-do list has, in the number two spot, the title “evacuation” followed by the imperative “WRITE IT!!”

It’s not a lack of words that’s the problem, you see. It’s a lack of time. As I told the aforementioned someone, “I have a six month old baby! I’m lucky to put my shoes on the right feet in the morning.”

So then, the follow-up went, “Well, what keeps you so busy? You know, besides the baby?”

(Warning: Impending rant. Take a deep breath and duck.)

Besides the baby? What do I do all day? Other than working 40+ hours a week at one job and landing myself a brand shiny new job and commuting back and forth and coming home and doing laundry and dishes and diapers and feeding the baby and dressing the baby and feeding and dressing myself and sometimes even brushing my hair? What else?

Well, there’s the cinepoems that get entered in film festivals and there’s the etsy store orders to fulfill and there are irises in my backyard that desperately need repotting. And once in awhile I try to exercise. And get a manicure. And even a pedicure, if I’m feeling really cheeky.

Wow. Ok. Bitter, party of one!! I shouldn’t get stabby about the question, I know.

Because I do remember what it was like to be bored. To have oodles of hours to fill. To lie late in bed and luxuriate in the question of “What should I do today?”

But that was eons ago in a time before Boy and Baby and video poems.

Today I’m just wallowing in guilt over letting another month nearly slip past with nary a blog post.

And the trouble is, I can’t promise to get better! Life is just a blur these days. And so am I.

But for my own sake, i swear, I will trap some of these words on a page. And then, if I deem them worthy enough, I’ll share them with you.

It’s not a new book, no, not at all. But it’s something.

-Lo, who hounds her own favorite authors for their next works and knows that really, all this means is that she should be flattered.

The Same But Different

different

February has flown by with nary a post from me.

And it’s not that I have nothing happening or nothing to say. Quite the contrary. I feel nearly drowned under a deluge of happenings: changes, promises, possibilities. I am choosing my words carefully these days, choking back the bulk of them.

While I’m the world’s biggest proponent of putting it out there and saying what you feel, I have learned hard lessons recently about being selective about the what, the how, the when and, most of all, the whom with which you share.

So I’ll let that hang there all cryptic-like and talk about something else for awhile.

And what else is there to talk about but the Baby Love of my life?! She’s nearly six months now. Already.

I have been warned about how quickly time would fly and I believed it. But when you see it actually happening, actually flying before your eyes, you get a little breathless, a little disbelieving, a little, “how can this be?”

More and more, as the little one grows rounder and taller and stronger and, oh my god, funnier, I am realizing just how much I have changed.

Before Lucette came, I worried about it. I spent a very long time getting fine with who I was and I was apprehensive about the new Mother Me who would emerge. I didn’t know who I would become.

And I know, I know the becoming has only just begun. But how far I’ve already come!

There was a moment, just days after Lucette was born, when I realized what a fundamental shift had already occured within me. We were freshly home from the hospital, just the three of us. We were sitting on the couch, watching HGTV (we watched hours of that channel in the early days of babyland, which is why I’m now addicted to Holmes on Homes).

Lucette had fallen asleep in my arms and as I stared down at her, tears began rolling from my eyes.

Bruce looked over and saw me crying and said, “What’s wrong?!”

“Nothing.” I replied. “Nothing at all. I’m just looking at her and she’s so beautiful. And I’m so ha-a-a-ppy.” And then I dissolved in a big puddle of mush.

Bruce scooted over, put his arm around us, and together we sat and stared at that tiny round head and wept.

And I knew, I knew right then that I was a new person.

Not entirely new, of course. The old Lo is still here. But I’ve expanded, somehow. I’ve gotten wider. Not the childbirth hip factor, although that’s true, too. It’s like my soul has doubled in size. There’s more room in me now. More capacity for love, for emotion, for mothering.

Augh. And here’s where the words run out on me, because that’s not even it exactly. Perhaps because I can’t quite wrap my brain around this metamorphosis yet, I can’t explain it coherently. It will likely take years to suss out.

But I’m content knowing, for now, that I have changed. And that the change is good. There is not the sense of loss that I feared, pre-baby. Instead there is a fullness. A completeness. A being-okay-with-the-not-quite-there-yet-ness.

And every morning when I wake up to those Cheeks (even on days like today, when the Cheeks wake me up before dawn), I am overwhelmed by my good fortune.

I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be this little one’s momma.

-Lo, who found the words after all.

Seven by Seven

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I’ve been thinking alot lately about why I work.

My maternity leave from August to December last year was the first time since I was 15 that I’ve had so much consecutive time to myself.

Granted, that time to myself was largely spent changing diapers and pushing a pram through the park. But still, it was week after week of 40 hours NOT spent locked down at a desk.

And the thing that amazed me the most about it was that I never once got bored.

Ok, yes, there was the whole new mother thing happening. But putting the baby metaphorically aside for the moment, the point is that I had no trouble filling my days. Each morning was a gift of “What are we going to do today?”

The aforementioned walks in the park became a big deal, something I always looked forward to. And there were poems to write and cin├ępoems to edit and a yard to putter around in and if there had been a dog on the premises, there would have been even more to do.

But then my time was up and here I am again, surrendering 40 precious hours to the machine.

I can’t tell you how many times since December 8th I’ve sat in meetings listening to marketing muckety-mucks arguing about what headline I should write to get people to buy a bunch of crap they don’t really need. And all I’m thinking is, “I could be pushing a pram through a park right now.”

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I work.

And the answer lies on the tip of a western peninsula, within the seven by seven miles that I call home… San Francisco, where the majority of residents are renters because buying a home is too expensive.

When Bruce and I pulled up stakes in Illinois ten years ago, we knew the move was permanent. There has never been any looking back, not even in 2001 when I got laid off six times in a row. (In any recession, it seems the copywriter is always the first to go.)

More than any other place on earth I’ve been, San Francisco is home.

Before Lucette arrived, I didn’t mind working. I have always tried to find the most creative word-wrangling job I can to finance the life I love to live.

But now that our family is one person larger, I have begun to begrudge those workaday hours. And so I have to remind myself why I do it.

Because I don’t have to work.

We could always move somewhere cheaper. Perhaps a nice cul-de-sac in a beige suburb where everyone drives the .05 miles to the neighborhood Wal-Mart.

But the dream was never to hie westward and settle in San Mateo. Or Oakland, Alameda, Fresno or Dinuba.

The dream is San Francisco. And it’s a dream I want to give to my daughter.

I want her to grow up here, in this beautiful city, surrounded by people of all races, creeds, languages and sexual orientations. I want her to wake up to the salt air of the ocean, to sleep to the sound of the foghorns.

I want her to have the Golden Gate in her backyard and the mountains within reach. I want her to own the wealth of used bookstores and know the wonder of world-class ballet.

I want her to eat more food from Farmer’s Markets than McDonald’s. I want her to wear out her walking shoes. I want sand on her toes and sun in her hair.

I want her to disagree without being disagreeable. I want her to know that it’s ok to be different.

I want what all parents want — to give their child the world. The difference is that in San Francisco, I can actually give it to her. Because the world lies just outside our front door.

And that is why I work. For Lucette. For San Francisco. For the dream.

-Lo, whose paychecks fuel freedom

Bye Bye Baby

bye-bye

About 12 hours from now, I’ll be driving south with my mug of tea, and I’m pretty close to certain I will be bawling my eyes out.

I go back to work tomorrow.

And although I like my job and I fully realize I am lucky to have a job, I don’t know how I’m going to walk out on that sweet baby face in the morning.

These last three months have been some of the best days of my life, hanging around the house with Bruce & Lulu, strolling to the beach, running the washing machine at least once a day to keep up with all those essential wee baby articles that inevitably get covered in spit-up and poo.

Back when I was pregnant, back in my other life, I thought that after nearly four months of wearing sweat pants and rubber-band hair, I’d welcome the chance to jump back into the workaday routine.

I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Every day is a small new miracle. Every day I fall in love a little bit more. Every day is filled with a thousand tiny things that speed the hours along faster than ever before.

I don’t want to miss out on anything. A toothless smile. A new, drooly consonant. A gravity-defying poop. I want to see it all.

In the more rational moments, I talk sense into myself. I remind myself that we want Lucette to grow up here, in this amazing city of San Francisco. In this amazing, expensive city of San Francisco. And in order for her to build a life here, off to work I must go.

I remind myself that we’re lucky in so many ways… Bruce can stay home with Lucette most days, so she’ll have quality daddy-daughter time. And when he can’t be home, we have two lovely friends who have volunteered for nanny duty. She won’t be shuffled off to strangers.

But tonight, on the eve of my return to my other life, all of this common sense is cold comfort.

Because when I went on leave back in August, I didn’t really take into account the development of Mommy Brain. I knew life would change, sure, but I didn’t fathom, I couldn’t really understand, how very much I would change.

And I didn’t realize how delusional it was to think that three months would be enough.

So tomorrow I will set off to earn a living, to pay for this wonderful life that we have. And all I will be thinking about is, “When will it be time to go home?!”

-Lo, who has plans to start buying a regular lotto ticket.

The Speed of Light

spped-of-light

The clock is a tyrant who will stay his hand for no one,
not even you, whose smile should stop time
as it stops this heart of mine.

Each day flies faster than the last,
mornings blur too soon to evening,
every minute closer to the day you take your leaving.

I wish for moments that last a thousand years.

-Lo, mourning the impending end of maternity leave.